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Federal judges toss out Ohio’s congressional map, citing gerrymandering; two Reuters reporters are released from prison in Myanmar after more than 500 days.
Court: Ohio’s congressional map is unconstitutional
- A federal court ruled on Friday that Ohio’s congressional map is unfairly drawn to benefit Republicans — just a week after a Michigan court made a similar ruling for the state’s map. [Cleveland.com / Rich Exner]
- The current map, which was drawn by a Republican-controlled legislature in 2011, is unconstitutional because it violates Democratic voters’ rights by diluting their votes, the court ruled. It has ordered lawmakers to create a new version by June for the 2020 elections. [Roll Call / Simone Pathé and Stephanie Akin]
- Ohio’s attorney general said he would appeal to the Supreme Court, which is already reviewing two gerrymandering cases from Maryland and North Carolina — the former map favoring Democrats and the latter favoring Republicans. They are expected to make a decision by the end of this spring. [Cincinnati Enquirer / Jessie Balmert]
- Until now, the higher court has only restricted racial gerrymandering and has never found partisan gerrymandering to be unconstitutional. The Supreme Court, however, will now have to deliberate on a key question: How does one differentiate between unconstitutional partisan maps and acceptable political maps? [Washington Post / Robert Barnes]
- Ohio voters are also on board with making the process of mapping congressional districts fairer. In 2018, they passed a ballot measure that would require a map to receive 50 percent support from the minority party. [NPR / Gabe Rosenberg]
- Lower courts and voters are collectively sending a message to the Supreme Court that partisan gerrymandering is an immediate issue that has to be addressed. [NYT / Trip Gabriel and Michael Wines]
Reuters reporters released after more than 500 days
- Two Reuters journalists were finally freed from Myanmar after more than 500 days in prison. [Reuters / Simon Lewis and Shoon Naing]
- Wa Lone, 33, and U Kyaw Soe Oo, 29, were arrested while investigating the death of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys, which was part of a military-led attack against the minority group. [CNN / Euan McKirdy and James Griffiths]
- They were sentenced to seven years in prison after being charged under the Official Secrets Act for receiving documents from a police officer. Reuters has maintained the reporters’ innocence. [NYT / Russell Goldman and Mike Ives]
- The two men, along with their Reuters colleagues, were awarded a Pulitzer Prize in April for “expertly exposing the military units and Buddhist villagers responsible for the systematic expulsion and murder of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar.” [Pulitzer.org]
- Although the reporters’ repeated appeals to the court were rejected, they were pardoned under an amnesty granted by the president to more than 6,000 other prisoners. It is not unusual for Myanmarese authorities to grant pardons to criminals during the beginning of the traditional New Year, which began on April 17. [NPR / Laurel Wamsley]
- The two reporters had become the faces of a global campaign for press freedom. Journalists, foreign diplomats, and human rights activists demanded their release. [LA Times / Shashank Bengali and Cape Diamond]
- The journalists’ report and arrest contributed to a darker global image of Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was once an international icon for democracy. [Washington Post / Shibani Mahtani]
- A company called Liquid Death is selling tallboy cans of “punk rock” water. Naturally, it led to plenty of internet jokes. [BuzzFeed News / Ryan Broderick]
- In 2017, a man who was later found to be highly intoxicated killed eight people in Texas. The bartender who served him the night of the crime could face up to a year in prison. [NBC News / Ben Kesslen]
- A Japanese fashion tycoon who paid a hefty deposit to become SpaceX’s first commercial passenger to the moon now says he’s broke — and some wonder how this may impact the company’s funding for the project. [Futurism / Kristin Houser]
- If you played a lot of Pokémon when you were a kid, it’s likely that a specific area in your brain is dedicated to identifying the characters. [Engadget / Christine Fisher]
- The theme of last night’s Met Gala was camp. No, not as in camping in the wild. Think over-the-top, glam, flamboyant. [The Cut / Kelly Conaboy]
“We conclude that the 2012 map dilutes the votes of Democratic voters by packing and cracking them into districts that are so skewed toward one party that the electoral outcome is predetermined.” [Federal judges in their 301-page decision tossing out Ohio’s congressional map]
Watch this: China’s secret internment camps
… and the internet detectives working to find them. [YouTube / Danush Parvaneh]
We’ll soon know the exact air pollution from every power plant in the world. That’s huge.
The rise of fear-based social media like Nextdoor, Citizen, and now Amazon’s Neighbors
Who nailed “camp” on the Met Gala red carpet?
Our antibiotics are becoming useless
The growing, dangerous US-Iran standoff, explained
Alexa Chung ELLE Cover Star March 2012
Lil Nas X and Wrangler’s “Old Town Road” clothing line inspires country music fan backlash
“Old Town Road” star Lil Nas X’s latest move is into fashion, courtesy of a collaboration with Wrangler, the legacy denim and apparel brand that’s become a signature element of the Western aesthetic.
The chart-topping rapper has partnered with the company to launch a capsule clothing collection inspired by his hit song and featuring graphic T-shirts, jeans, and other denim apparel. The collaboration is essentially an extension of one of the most memorable lyrics in “Old Town Road,” which shouts out Wrangler by name: “Cowboy hat from Gucci / Wrangler on my booty.”
Wrangler describes the capsule collection, which launched May 20, as “fresh remixes of classic Wrangler styles for the kind of modern cowboy that can’t be put in a box.”
That’s a cheeky reference to “Old Town Road” itself, which sparked an intense debate over whether the song counts as country music when it debuted on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in March, and was subsequently removed. Despite its references to established Western themes and imagery — the song’s lyrics revolve around a lone cowboy riding his horse into the sunset, after all — Billboard said the song “does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version.”
Some country music fans and industry observers agreed, arguing that “Old Town Road” qualifies more as hip-hop than country. Others criticized Billboard for feeding rigid ideas about who or what qualifies as country enough, and suggested that Lil Nas X’s race played a part in the song’s reclassification; the fact that Lil Nas X is a black teenager from Atlanta and country is a predominantly white genre did not go unnoticed.
The song quickly became the catalyst for an industry-wide discussion about the definition of country music and racially tinged gatekeeping within the genre. It also became the top song in the country, and has now been No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks straight.
Just like the song itself riled some country music fans amid an outpouring of support for Lil Nas X from his own expansive fanbase, the rapper’s collaboration with Wrangler has met with a polarized response.
The Lil Nas X capsule collection is clearly intended to celebrate and capitalize on the success of “Old Town Road.” Although many Lil Nas X fans have expressed interest in buying the collection, Wrangler is also facing criticism from some consumers, many of whom are threatening to boycott.
Much of the backlash is playing out on social media, where Wrangler has received thousands of comments from customers expressing anger and “disappointment.” (It is unclear if customers have also been contacting the company via other, less public methods; Vox has reached out to Wrangler for comment.) And much of the current conversation revolves around how Wrangler seems to be promoting inclusivity by branching out from its reputation as a brand worn by cowboys and farmers.
Two recent Instagram posts from Wrangler showcasing items from its Lil Nas X collection have received more than 1,000 comments each. While plenty of people have commented on how awesome it looks or asking questions about where to buy, several have declared that the “Old Town Road” items are “ruining the cowboy name that y’all have.”
“Wranglers are to be worn by cowboys and farmers not rappers this is very disappointing,” reads one representative Instagram comment.
Some commenters have more explicitly mentioned race — or called out others’ racism.
“This is the dumbest thing i have seen all day,” one user wrote. “Wtf @wrangler? Why is it about diversity and equality ? There jeans. Quit playin politics.”
WRANGLER JUST PARTNERED WITH LIL NAS X AND THE RACIST ARE MAD GO BUY UP ALL THE WRANGLER LIL NAS X COLLAB JEANS YOU CAN PEOPLE SUPPORT DIVERSITY pic.twitter.com/gwH2G7dULj
— tyler (@tylerujhazy) May 21, 2019
Lil Nas X, for his part, seemed mildly surprised by the response.
i mean honestly white people act like they are the only ones who are cowboys. come to my town in louisiana, we pull up to mcdonalds on horses and have rodeos every weekend.
— Blair Waldorf (@teonnyspears) May 21, 2019
These comments are in the same vein as those used by some country music fans to describe “Old Town Road” when the song made its chart debut, arguing that rappers have no place in the genre (often while neglecting to acknowledge modern country’s own hip-hop influences). Lingering over this debate is race, which many Instagram users have called out in the comments on Wrangler’s posts. Country music is perceived as an insular, predominantly white genre, while Lil Nas X is a black rapper who draws influences from black artists and musical styles.
But Wrangler’s continued support of Lil Nas X is clear; the brand has been actively responding to its detractors on social media, simply repeating on that is devoted to creating high-quality products for all of its customers.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the drama over the Lil Nas X collection has only served to draw more attention to it. Some pieces have already sold out, like a pair of shorts that say “Wrangler” on the booty, in keeping with the lyrics of “Old Town Road.” Considering that items in the collection cost between $39 for a graphic T-shirt and $129 for a pair of jeans, the outcry, at least from Wrangler’s perspective, seems to have paid off.
20 Times People Snapped Something Truly Exceptional and Shared the Pics With the World
We are living in the world that is full of surprises where every single day is a new chance to see something so unusual that it makes you doubt your own vision. A treble clef in a bag of fries, a cat whose fur went gray only on his ears, or a person with 6 fingers — these are just a few extraordinary sights that made people reach for their phones and take a pic.
Here at Bright Side we can’t wait to share our list with you of pics showing the standout things people snapped on their ordinary days.
20. Someone found a treble clef in their fries.
19. The pattern on this dog’s chest resembles a cat’s silhouette.
18. Someone saw a landscape on the bottom of their coffee mug.
17. This stone looks like a pile of mini chocolate bars.
16. This cloud looks like a shark.
15. “This stick I found looks like a burning torch, flame included!”
14. “My sweater sort of matches my pillowcase.”
13. “This truck is carrying nothing but a toy dump truck.”
12. “My empanadas have the filling stamped into them.”
11. “I randomly found the tiniest snail I’ve ever seen! (standard bobby pin for scale)”
10. “My cat has double fangs on both sides.”
9. “This tree near my school track has absorbed a fence and shows the pattern on its bark.”
8. “This is an X-ray of my hedgehog.”
7. “My 12-year-old sister made this perfect cake on her first ever try making one.”
6. “I won every single prize on this lottery ticket.”
5. “I made a giant cardboard statue of my face.”
4. “My cousin’s wedding dress from last night has its own pockets.”
3. This is one million dollars in $10 bills.
2. “A customer came in and let me take a picture of her hands that had 6 fingers on each.”
1. “My aunt’s cat’s ears grayed to here a couple years ago and haven’t changed since.”
Have you ever spotted something truly rare? Did you manage to take a picture of the unusual sight?
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