How a leading left-wing academic and activist wound up in the middle of a free speech debate

Loretta Ross. (Courtesy of speakoutnow.org)
Loretta Ross. (Courtesy of speakoutnow.org)

WASHINGTON — A once obscure internet debate over the limits of free speech and the rise of what critics call “cancel culture” has, somewhat improbably, become a significant 2020 campaign issue. 

President Trump tapped into conservative worries about cancel culture — the notion that everyone from intellectuals to everyday citizens can be “canceled” and see their lives upended if they become the target of an online “mob” — in a July 3 speech at Mount Rushmore. Cancel culture, the president insisted, is “the very definition of totalitarianism.” 

Whether the president has hit on a winning issue is unclear. According to a Yahoo News/YouGov poll released Wednesday, 58 percent of Americans said they were unsure about what cancel culture refers to, and once it was explained to them, only 28 percent called it a “very big problem.” But beyond the 2020 campaign, a very real argument

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The corporate rebrands that missed the mark

A shattered Google logo
A shattered Google logo

Fiat Chrysler’s $50bn (£40bn) merger with PSA Group will create a new corporate entity called “Stellantis”, the carmakers announced on Wednesday, a word “rooted in the Latin verb ‘stello’ meaning to brighten with stars”. 

The businesses added that the new title “draws inspiration from this new and ambitious alignment of storied automotive brands and strong company cultures that in coming together are creating one of the new leaders in the next era of mobility”.

It is not uncommon for companies to rebrand, to signify a change in the corporate culture of the company; the leadership team, to communicate a brand’s new vision and message. But some name changes are better than others. Here are some of the more interesting rebrands of the past few years.

Yahoo to Oath to Verizon Media Group

When Verizon Communications bought Yahoo in 2017, it announced that it would bring AOL

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Virtual figure skating competition offers glimpse of sport’s possible future

It was early April. The 2020 World Figure Skating Championships had been canceled by Covid-19, abruptly ending last season. Rinks were closing down for health reasons. Some entire countries were on lockdown.

Anyone who has been around figure skating as long as Gale Tanger could see even then how difficult it would be to have any competitions the rest of 2020 if they required travel by athletes or officials, whether the events were international, national, regional or local.

Tanger, an international judge for 32 years, began looking for an alternative to give elite U.S. skaters left unmoored by the pandemic’s impact at least something that could feel like a competition, something to anchor a goal in the early part of the 2020-21 season.

So the Peggy Fleming Trophy became the first virtual event in the sport’s history.

“It worked!!!!!!!” an excited Tanger said in an email late Tuesday, after the

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L.A. Latino, Black students suffered deep disparities in online learning, records show

A gate in front of Los Angeles High School was locked on July 13. <span class="copyright">(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)</span>
A gate in front of Los Angeles High School was locked on July 13. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

More than 50,000 Black and Latino middle and high school students in Los Angeles did not regularly participate in the school system’s main platform for virtual classrooms after campuses closed in March, a reflection of the deep disparities faced by students of color amid the COVID-19 pandemic and of the difficulties ahead as L.A. Unified prepares for continued online learning.

The numbers, reflected in a first-of-its-kind report by Los Angeles Unified School District analysts examining student engagement during campus closures, paint a stark picture of students in the nation’s second largest school district struggling under the new pressures of online learning.

Nearly every category of students — sorted by race, income and learning needs — included large numbers who did not regularly participate in distance learning. But low-income students and

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Who is Julian Lewis? The Tory MP who lost his Conservative whip

PA wire
PA wire

Julian Lewis, a previously scarcely-known backbencher, has been thrust into a headline-maker this week after a “coup” saw him installed as the new chair of one of Parliament’s most prestigious select committees.

The New Forest East MP was named chairman of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee on Tuesday.

But hours later a furious Boris Johnson ensured he was kicked out of the parliamentary Conservative Party for refusing to bow to their demand to vote for former cabinet minister Chris Grayling as the new chair.

So who is the man at the centre of all this Westminster drama? Here’s what you need to know.

What is the Chris Grayling row all about?

Downing Street had expected to shoo-in the controversial Transport Minister Mr Grayling into ISC chair without any issue.

But instead Mr Lewis won over opposition committee members and got the position, condemning Downing Street’s “improper request” for

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How an Arizona couple helped fuel a Wayfair sex trafficking conspiracy theory

A screencap from Maddie and Justin Thompson's 40-minute Instagram Live video posted on July 10. The couple reveals that they bought a desk that cost at least $17,000 from Wayfair to see whether they would receive "grooming calls" from the company amid a viral conspiracy theory that the website is used to traffic children.
A screencap from Maddie and Justin Thompson’s 40-minute Instagram Live video posted on July 10. The couple reveals that they bought a desk that cost at least $17,000 from Wayfair to see whether they would receive “grooming calls” from the company amid a viral conspiracy theory that the website is used to traffic children.

PHOENIX — Last weekend, an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that online furnishings retailer Wayfair is trafficking children through listings of products with inflated prices and human names erupted on social media.

An Arizona couple helped fuel the rumor by posting on Instagram that they had purchased a $17,000 desk from Wayfair and would share their experience with their followers.

The theory that pillows and cabinets being sold at wayfair.com for thousands of dollars is somehow evidence of a child trafficking scheme has been debunked by independent fact-checking publication Snopes. It gained traction through a July 9 Reddit

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Nick Cannon apologies for Anti-Semitic comments; Fox stands behind ‘The Masked Singer’ host

Nick Cannon will continue to host Fox’s top-rated reality competition series “The Masked Singer,” the network confirmed on Wednesday. The news that Cannon would stay on “Masked Singer” comes after the host issued an apology online for anti-Semitic comments he made on a podcast.

“When we were made aware of Nick Cannon’s interview with Richard Griffin on YouTube, we immediately began a dialogue with Nick,” the network said in a statement. “He is clear and remorseful that his words were wrong and lacked both understanding and context, and inadvertently promoted hate. This was important for us to observe. Nick has sincerely apologized, and quickly taken steps to educate himself and make amends. On that basis and given a belief that this moment calls for dialogue, we will move forward with Nick and help him advance this important conversation, broadly. Fox condemns all forms of hate directed toward any community and

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Chinese executives get ‘pre-test’ injections in vaccine race

BEIJING (AP) — In the global race to make a coronavirus vaccine, a state-owned Chinese company is boasting that its employees, including top executives, received experimental shots even before the government approved testing in people.

“Giving a helping hand in forging the sword of victory,” reads an online post from SinoPharm with pictures of company leaders it says helped “pre-test” its vaccine.

Whether it’s viewed as heroic sacrifice or a violation of international ethical norms, the claim underscores the enormous stakes as China competes with U.S. and British companies to be the first with a vaccine to help end the pandemic — a feat that would be both a scientific and political triumph.

“Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is the new Holy Grail,” said Lawrence Gostin, a global public health law expert at Georgetown University. “The political competition to be the first is no less consequential than the race for the

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L.A. Latino, Black students suffered deep disparities in online learning, district records show

A gate in front of Los Angeles High School was locked on July 13. <span class="copyright">(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)</span>
A gate in front of Los Angeles High School was locked on July 13. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

More than 50,000 Black and Latino middle and high school students in Los Angeles did not regularly participate in the school system’s main platform for virtual classrooms after campuses closed in March, a reflection of the deep disparities faced by students of color amid the COVID-19 pandemic and of the difficulties ahead as L.A. Unified prepares for continued online learning.

The numbers, reflected in a first-of-its-kind report by Los Angeles Unified School District analysts examining student engagement during campus closures, paint a stark picture of students in the nation’s largest school district struggling under the new pressures of online learning.

Nearly every category of students — sorted by race, income and learning needs — included large numbers who did not regularly participate in distance learning. But low-income students and Black

Read More

Kimberly Jenkins Wants to Help Decolonize Our Understanding of Fashion

The fashion scholar shares her hopes for her new online platform, the Fashion and Race Database.

Kimberly Jenkins
Kimberly Jenkins

Kimberly Jenkins has made waves in the fashion education sphere for shedding necessary light on the role race has historically played in fashion. 

As a part-time lecturer, she taught a popular elective “Fashion and Race” course at Parsons School of Design, where she got her MA in fashion studies. She later expanded on the themes of that course by curating an exhibit of the same name, which the school hosted in 2018. (It’s now available to view on Google Arts and Culture.) At the beginning of this year, Jenkins left Parsons — and New York — to accept a full-time, tenure-track assistant professor of fashion studies position at Ryerson University in Toronto. The new role gave Jenkins the stability and funding to ramp up efforts on a project she’d been working on

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