California Gov. Gavin Newsom signs bill limiting the use of rap lyrics as evidence in criminal proceedings




Washington
CNN
 — 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law on Friday that limits the use of rap lyrics in criminal court cases in the state.

The law requires “a court, in a criminal proceeding where a party seeks to admit as evidence a form of creative expression, to consider specified factors when balancing the probative value of that evidence against the substantial danger of undue prejudice.”

The new law underscores a larger national conversation around prohibiting the use of rap lyrics as evidence in criminal proceedings, a tactic critics have called a racist double standard and an infringement on First Amendment rights.

Democratic US Reps. Hank Johnson of Georgia and Jamaal Bowman of New York proposed legislation in July that would ban lyrics from being used as evidence in legal claims though there has been no movement on the legislation in the House since its referral to the House Judiciary Committee.

“Artists of all kinds should be able to create without the fear of unfair and prejudicial prosecution,” the Democratic governor said in a statement Friday. “California’s culture and entertainment industry set trends around the world and it’s fitting that our state is taking a nation-leading role to protect creative expression and ensure that artists are not criminalized under biased policies.”

Under the new law, California courts must consider, if relevant and provided, testimony on the context of a genre of creative expression, “research demonstrating that the introduction of a particular type of expression introduces racial bias into the proceedings,” as well as evidence rebutting those findings.

In addition to limiting the use of rap lyrics in California criminal court proceedings, the legislation, which passed unanimously in the California state Senate and Assembly, also encompasses the use of “performance art, visual art, poetry, literature, film, and other media.”

Rap artists Meek Mill, Too $hort, E-40, Killer Mike, YG, Ty Dolla $ign and Tyga were present in a video call with the California governor when he signed the legislation, according to Newsom’s office.

Scholars Erik Nielson and Andrea Dennis, authors of “Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics and Guilt in America,” have argued that “Rap music is the only fictional musical genre used this way because its primary producers are young Black men, who the criminal justice system happens to target.” They say the genre’s lyrics are vulnerable to being perceived as self-incriminating to law enforcement because of trends in first person narration and focuses on “criminal themes” and “violent imagery.”

Calls from the music industry for legislation addressing the use of lyrics in criminal cases have grown in the wake of a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) indictment of Grammy-award winning rapper Young Thug in Fulton County, Georgia, earlier this year. CNN previously reported that some of Young Thug’s song lyrics were used as examples of “overt acts” in his indictment, some of which constitute racketeering.

“Today we celebrate an important victory for music creators in the state of California. Silencing any genre or form of artistic expression is a violation against all music people. The history that’s been made in California today will help pave the way forward in the fight to protect creative freedom nationwide,” Harvey Mason Jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, said in a statement on Friday.



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Samsung QN90B Neo QLED TV review


In the battle between OLED TVs and mini-LED LCD TVs — the two technologies used in today’s best smart TVs — people who need a brighter picture usually go with an LCD. For those who want an intensely bright TV, Samsung has upped the ante with its QN90B Neo QLED 4K Smart TV. It uses its brightness well, creating a crisp picture with excellent contrast that rivals OLED screens.

The QN90B is about more than brightness. It includes the tech that gamers want to take full advantage of the latest gaming consoles. It also integrates cloud gaming services such as Xbox Cloud Gaming and Amazon Luna so you don’t even need a console to play the best games. While it’s not perfect, it will be a great option for many people.

A smart, bright TV

The Samsung QN90B is one of the brightest TVs you’ll find, making it great for sunny rooms. The brightness, along with mini-LED and local dimming tech, also helps it produce excellent contrast in dark scenes. It’s also packed with the latest gaming tech, including cloud gaming.

samsung-qn90b-LOTR.jpg

Michael Gowan/CNN

Did I mention the brightness? Because this TV is really bright. The first thing I needed to do was tone down the brightness to keep it from searing my eyes. The room I used the TV in gets average sunlight and the QN90B’s brightness can overcome a lot more. If you’ve had problems with not being able to see what’s on your TV during the day, this TV should be able to overcome them.

The QN90B uses mini-LED backlighting and local dimming, which allow for a more nuanced picture. Thanks to those mini LEDs, the images on the QN90B are very sharp and detailed. I especially appreciated the crisp images while watching college football in 4K, where the blades of grass had excellent definition and the ball flew without blurring.

Related: Samsung’s The Frame 2022 makes a gorgeous and unique TV even better

The set also has excellent contrast, which is important for seeing details in dark scenes, as are common in shows like House of the Dragon, Sandman and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. While it doesn’t support Dolby Vision, it uses HDR10+ to adjust the brightness for each frame so you won’t miss the exquisite details of Khazad-dûm when Elrond visits Durin in The Rings of Power.

The TV can deliver accurate colors, but I needed to adjust the settings to get a picture that was right for me (more on that below). Overall, I thought the LG C2 produced a more pleasing picture, but others may prefer what the QN90B delivers.

samsung-qn90b-game-screen.jpg

Michael Gowan/CNN

That crisp picture paired with the QN90B’s 120Hz refresh rate and support for variable refresh rate, auto low latency mode, and Nvidia FreeSync Premium Pro result in a great gaming TV. Each of the four HDMI ports supports HDMI 2.1 to take full advantage of your PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S or high-end gaming PC, meaning it can deliver extra-smooth gameplay at 4K.

Playing Forza Horizon 5 on an Xbox Series X, the screen delivered excellent details without blurring even as the car raced at its fastest speed. In Fortnite, the characters and backgrounds were sharp, though the colors seemed a little off compared to the LG C2.

The QN90B also includes Samsung Gaming Hub, which lets you stream games from Xbox, Stadia, Geforce Now and other services without a console. Gameplay while streaming isn’t too bad, either: Playing Forza 5 and Fortnite through Xbox Game Pass was similar to the quality you’d get from an Xbox One.

samsung-qn90b-oled-tv football picture

Michael Gowan/CNN Underscored

The speakers in the QN90B produce surprisingly good sound — for a TV. With its 4.2.2 channel audio (55-inch and larger models) and support for Dolby Atmos, voices were easy to hear, and, with Intelligent Mode on, it created an impressively wide sound and even produced a bit of bass.

So technically you don’t need to add a soundbar. But do yourself a favor and get one for your home entertainment system anyway — it’ll add more depth to the sound and improve bass for a better viewing experience.

Samsung makes the QN90B in sizes that range from 43 inches ($1.099.99) to 85 inches ($3,299.99), with many models available in between. That means you can find one that’s right for the room you plan to put it in. I tested the 55-inch unit ($1,499.99). Expect similar performance in other models, except for the sound in the 43- and 50-inch units — they have fewer channels than the 55-inch and larger TVs.

samsung-qn90b-oled-tv brightness

Michael Gowan/CNN Underscored

While the final result can be impressive, you may have to work to get a pleasing image on the QN90B’s screen. Out of the box, I found the picture too bright and the colors weren’t right for my room. I really didn’t like the picture produced using the Intelligent Mode setting, which is supposed to automatically adjust to the room conditions; the AI mode of LG’s C2 produced a much better image.

But the QN90B offers lots of adjustments you can make, so you can find the right settings for you if you take the time. I liked the picture best when I turned off Intelligent Mode; switched to Movie Picture Mode; made some adjustments to brightness and sharpness; turned off Picture Clarity; and increased local dimming to Standard. You see what I mean about working for it.

The QN90B runs Samsung’s Tizen, which is one of the more robust smart TV operating systems. It has apps for the most popular streaming services, like Netflix and HBO Max. It integrates with Samsung’s SmartThings app to allow for control of other smart devices. It offers voice control through Alexa, Google Assistant or Samsung’s Bixby.

But on the QN90B, everything seems to take forever to launch and load. In reality, it takes a few seconds, but it is slower compared to a Roku or the relatively speedy WebOS on LG’s evo C2. Those extra seconds while you wait for a show to start are just enough to make your question your choices in life. Of course, you can get around this by adding a streaming device and bypassing Tizen altogether.

The stand gets in the way

samsung-qn90b-oled-tv stand setup

Michael Gowan/CNN Underscored

Similar to complaints I had about the LG evo C2, the stand Samsung includes with the QN90B — while slick and attractive —  doesn’t work for the way I want to set up my TV. It sticks out about three inches beyond the screen, which meant I had to place my soundbar way out in front of the TV. It also only raises the TV 2.75  inches above the surface — which is better than the C2 — but that can still result in a soundbar or center speaker blocking the bottom of the image.

Sizes

43, 50, 55, 65, 75 and 85 inches

83, 77, 65, 55, 47, and 43 inches

Panel type

QLED LCD

OLED

Inputs

4 HDMI (all support HDMI 2.1, one eARC), 2 USB, Wifi, Ethernet, coaxial antenna

4 HDMI 2.1 (one with eARC), 3 USB, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, coaxial antenna

Outputs

Optical digital audio, Bluetooth

Optical digital audio, Bluetooth

HDR

HDR10+

Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG

Audio

4.2.2 channels, support for Dolby Atmos

2.2 channels, support for Dolby Atmos

Price

From $1,099



From $1,149

Fans of LCD TVs will love what the Samsung QN90B offers. It’s oh-so-bright and packed with the latest tech. That allows it to deliver a crisp and detailed picture with excellent contrast.

My issues with the color were overcome by adjusting the settings, though the QN90B couldn’t match the vibrant colors of the LG C2. In the battle of OLED versus LCD, I still prefer OLEDs — but the differences continue to narrow, and no OLED can come close to the brightness of the QN90B. The LG C2 is the better overall TV, but the QN90B would be the right choice if you have a sunny room and need its extreme brightness.



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Liz Truss faces her party faithful after a disastrous week. Many Conservatives fear defeat looms at UK’s next election




London
CNN
 — 

Liz Truss’ first full week as British Prime Minister has not been an easy one. It began with the pound crashing to its lowest level in decades following her government’s mini-budget last Friday. It ended with her meeting the UK’s independent financial forecaster and having to explain herself after a week of economic chaos.

This weekend, she will travel to Birmingham to attend her Conservative party’s annual conference, a meeting that could become a defining moment in her premiership.

Her party is bitterly divided. Since becoming leader, poll ratings have sunk lower than they were even under the disgraced leadership of Boris Johnson. Conservative members of Parliament fear the combination of tax cuts along with huge public spending to help people cope with energy bills, rising inflation, rising interest rates and a falling pound are going to make winning the next general election impossible.

Even her supporters privately say that while they support her tax cuts, the communication has been appalling and fear that she might never recover from her disastrous start. Many are comparing it to Black Wednesday in 1992, when sterling crashed sufficiently that the UK had to pull out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. Then-Prime Minister John Major never recovered from the crisis and despite an economic recovery, lost the next election in 1997.

For now, no one expects the government to reverse its policy. “They are stuck with this. The thing with radical policy that shakes market confidence is that U-turning creates even more instability and won’t restore market confidence,” says one Conservative MP.

Beyond how a U-turn might look to those outside, the more important reason Truss is likely to stick to her guns is that she sincerely believes that her economic plan is the right thing for Britain. Her supporters argue that the UK has had anemic growth for years. They believe that a more competitive tax system and new regulatory system is the best way to encourage investment, create jobs and grow the economy.

In itself, this is not a controversial idea. What some fear is that the combination of tax cuts and borrowing to fund public spending is a disastrous combination of policies that have been poorly communicated at the worst possible time.

“We look like reckless gamblers who only care about the people who can afford to lose the gamble,” one former Conservative minister told CNN earlier this week. “My fear is that it’s the final role of the dice to win the next election that has already backfired.”

The idea that this is a gamble, Truss’ kitchen sink moment, to do something drastic and win the next election, is shared by other Conservatives.

However, they are concerned that these policies have been cooked up by politicians who spend too much time in Westminster talking to people who agree with them, but are alienated from what average voters are concerned about.

“Ordinary people are seeing their mortgages go up at a rate that outstrips any government support for energy bills or money saved through tax cuts,” says another former minister. “The crazy thing is that Boris [Johnson] won an 80-seat majority with an electoral coalition that still exists today. Ripping up his government’s policies and reinventing the wheel just wasn’t necessary.”

The mood going into Conservative Party conference is undeniably bleak. Not everyone thinks that the next election is already lost, but most think the current situation is a mess that needs sorting out very quickly.

“They need to explain their fiscal rules, cut spending on white elephant projects and not look like they are doing everything so hastily,” says a Conservative MP who supported Truss’ leadership campaign.

Another Truss ally says: “The problem with Liz and Kwasi [Kwarteng, the finance minister] is they are both very intelligent and think about six moves ahead of everyone else. They need to explain their actions more clearly and give people the time to understand what they are trying to do.”

And her critics also believe there are ways of turning this around without losing face. “They could keep the policies but roll them out slowly. Kick some stuff into the long grass so there isn’t so much immediate impact.”

There is also the real possibility that her plans work. Sterling could recover, the economy could grow against the odds and she might have some real wins to take into next election, which is still probably over two years away.

The question Conservatives are asking is, does Truss have the political talent, both herself and in the team around her, to win over the public?

Her team is full of young people who are undeniably skilled, but in some cases lack the experience you’d typically associate with people who work for the leader of a country, many Conservatives believe. There is also a sense that the third change in leaders in six years has burned through the talent.

There is still time for Truss to turn things around. But she is losing support from her own side, and there is already speculation that Conservative MPs are thinking about ways to get rid of her, which is incredible just weeks into her premiership.

The official opposition Labour Party held their conference earlier this week, and the mood was one of cautious optimism. Almost everyone there, from corporate PRs to party activists, felt this was a party on the verge of power.

In the coming week, Truss needs to address her own party faithful and give them something to be optimistic about. If she doesn’t, the sense of inevitability that power is slipping away from the Conservatives could become a self-fulfilling prophecy that drives the party into the wilderness after over a decade at the top of British politics.



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Sadness Isn’t An Enemy – All There Is with Anderson Cooper



This episode contains discussions of suicide. If you or someone you love is struggling, call the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.

Anderson Recording

00:00:11

By my mom’s bed, there’s a wall of shelves and it’s filled with books and family photographs and little things that meant a lot to her. On one shelf, there’s three pairs of my father’s eyeglasses. She wrapped them together with a white silk ribbon and tucked a note that she’d written underneath. “Daddy’s glasses,” it says. I found a lot of these kind of notes. She knew I would be the one going through her things after she died and left me them as a kind of guide, like breadcrumbs to follow through a dark forest. On another shelf there’s this wooden box. And inside there’s the Easter egg that my brother painted for her when he was a child. It’s got a castle on it. And the words, “love you.” There’s also this Victorian desk calendar. It’s got three small windows on it. One shows the day, the other the month and then the year. The date on the calendar is July 22nd, 1988. That’s the day my brother killed himself in front of her. She kept this calendar by her bed frozen on that day for the last 31 years of her life.

You’ve probably heard stories about siblings who were so close that when something happened to one of them, the other just felt it instinctively. They just knew something was wrong. But this isn’t one of those stories. My brother’s name was Carter Vanderbilt Cooper. He was two years older than me and way smarter. From the time he was little, he loved reading and was fascinated by history. I think he probably would have been a writer. He was thoughtful and kind. He was handsome, too. He had hazel eyes and light brown hair. Carter jumped off the balcony of my mother’s apartment. I wasn’t there at the time, but my mom was, and she tried to stop him. If you knew Carter, the idea that he would do this and do this in that way, it was impossible to believe. It still is to me. I know that’s what many people say after someone they love has died by suicide. They didn’t see it coming. I certainly didn’t. Sometimes when I tell somebody about what happened, they ask, “Were you close?” And I don’t really know how to answer that question. I mean, I used to think so, before. We did everything together as kids. We played, we fought, we laughed. We we lived in rooms next to each other for 18 years. But I don’t know, maybe all we really shared together was the wall between us. The year before he died, Carter graduated Princeton and moved back to New York into the apartment in Beekman Place that my dad had used as an office, the same apartment my mom would later use as a studio to paint in. Carter was working as an editor at American Heritage, a history magazine, writing book reviews.

The only time I got a sense that something was wrong was in April 1988, three months or so before he died. I was home from college for a night and my mom told me that Carter wasn’t feeling well. He’d taken off work and was staying at her apartment. I went into his room to see him. The lights were out and he was already in bed. When I asked him how he was feeling, he passed it off as just being tired. We didn’t talk for long, but I remember his voice in the darkness. There was something in it. Something I couldn’t put my finger on exactly. A hesitancy, maybe, doubt, but it worried me. It was only later, much later, that I realized what I’d heard that night beneath his words. My brother was scared. I think he was worrying about thoughts or feelings he was having, and he didn’t know what to do. I look back now at that moment, sitting in the dark with him, and I want to scream at my younger self: “Open up. Talk to him. Be there for him.” But I didn’t. And I wasn’t. And then it was too late. When I talked with my mom the next day, she told me that Carter was feeling better and had agreed to start seeing a therapist. I was so relieved and I just kind of assumed he would be okay. I didn’t see Carter again until July 4th weekend. I ran into him by chance on the street in New York. We decided to have a quick lunch together. “The last time I saw you,” he said, “I was like an animal.” I took it as a good sign that he could joke about it. And I probably mumbled something like, “Well I’m glad you’re feeling better.” But I didn’t delve any deeper. I never saw him alive again.

Designer Gloria Vanderbilt is under a doctor’s care today following the apparent suicide last night of her son, Carter Cooper.

I was in Washington when it happened. It took my mom an hour or so to reach me by phone. “Carter jumped off the balcony,” she said. And I remember just this sensation, this sickening vertigo. Like I was dizzy, plunging, hurtling downward. And I saw my brother and the balcony and all of it. His gentleness, the violence of it, the horror of my mom standing there. Even now, right now, just thinking about it, it’s…It’s like I have to take my foot off the gas pedal and breathe and tell myself to just stop imagining it. Carter jumped off the balcony. With those words, nothing was ever the same again.

Cooper jumped from the 14th floor terrace of her Manhattan penthouse. Gloria Vanderbilt witnessed the suicide. Police say he left no note. He was 23 years old.

For days, my mom stayed in bed and just cried. Sometimes I’d lay next to her and hold her, talk with her. She’d run through every second of what happened, replaying it, wondering if there was something else she she could have done to stop him. Friends of hers came and went. My brother’s friends as well. My mom would look into their eyes, searching with this kind of wild desperation. Like maybe they had some explanation. But they didn’t. And then she would tell them what happened.

Gloria Vanderbilt

00:06:18

He had been asleep, and he came into the room and he was dazed. And he said, What’s going on? What’s going on?

She told the story with every detail she could remember over and over.

Gloria Vanderbilt

00:06:29

And then he ran upstairs and I ran after him. And I said, Carter come talk to me. He was sitting on the wall. He was out on the terrace and he was sitting on the ledge, one foot hanging over. And he kept looking down.

As they though, in retelling it second by second, some new clue might reveal itself.

Gloria Vanderbilt

00:06:50

Then a plane came overhead and he looked up and as if it was a signal, he reached out to me. Then when he went, he went like an athlete, like a gymnast, and hung over the wall and over the wall and held on.

I know it helped her to go over it again and again.

Gloria Vanderbilt

00:07:14

And I was afraid that if I moved to him that it would send him over. And I kept begging him. I screamed at him and I said, Carter, come back. Carter, come back. And I said, Carter, come back.

But after hearing her retell it and relive it so many times, I just couldn’t listen any longer.

Gloria Vanderbilt

00:07:33

I thought he was going to come back. I thought he was going to…he didn’t, he let go. And then he just let go. And then he just let go. And it all happened like that.

It’s been 34 years and even now, hearing it, I feel that vertigo like I’m levitating, hurtling through space, untethered, alone. I’m Anderson Cooper. And this is All There Is. This episode is about what suicide does to the people who are left behind. I’m joined by Dr. BJ miller. His sister Lisa died by suicide in 2000. She was 32 and BJ was 29.

How are you? Thanks so much for doing this.

It’s my pleasure, buddy. Thank you very much for having me.

I should also mention that when BJ was 19, he was in an accident. He almost died. He got electrocuted and both his legs had to be amputated below the knee, half of his left arm as well. As a physician specializing in hospice and palliative medicine. BJ has helped hundreds of patients and caregivers navigate serious illness and death. He’s the coauthor of the bestselling book A Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death.

For somebody who’s listening, who’s dealing with grief, recent or ages ago, but still feeling it, what do you say to them?

Hmm. I say welcome to being a human being and a full life, a full life includes sorrows. A full life includes things that you can’t change. And it’s a lot to learn, to sit with things that you can’t change in this life. And I would say, no matter how alone you feel you are, you are not. And however you feel now is likely to shift and change if you let it. You can keep writing this story. You can drop the story altogether. But one way or another, this is life. This is your life. This isn’t a detour from life. This is life. So treat it accordingly. And life’s hard sometimes. And you’re okay. And you have a lot in common with everyone who has ever lived by virtue of having lost things.

Loss and grief is this universal experience that we will all go through multiple times in our lives. And yet it leaves us feeling so alone and so separated from other people. At least it does me and has my entire life.

I think one big lesson here is to not call the wrong thing an enemy. I’m not sure death is an enemy. I certainly know that sorrow isn’t an enemy. Sadness, tears aren’t an enemy. Those don’t poach my joy or my happiness in this life. In fact, as foils, they kind of set each other up. You don’t get life without death. These things must go together. They’re not at odds. I wonder if you feel that way, Anderson. Do you find yourself spending a lot of time wishing all these losses hadn’t befallen you? As isolating as they can be? Do you find yourself wishing life or otherwise?

That’s a hard question. I mean, intellectually, no, because I like the person I am. I love the life that I have. And all of those things that have occurred have brought me to where I am. On the other hand, I still sort of think a lot of my deepest core identity is this little hurt child who lost their dad at ten. And that doesn’t seem to be a great core like inner child to be dragging around through the world. Hmm. You know, I talked to Stephen Colbert, and one of the things he talked about is learning to love the things you most wish had never happened. Because what of God’s punishment is not a gift? He was quoting Tolkien. And that idea I find really kind of stunning and fascinating.

And do you think you’ve moved towards that?

I have yeah. I have moved toward that. And yet it’s it’s still like raw and painful. My voice even cracks when I talk about it.

Right. I do hear that, brother. And, you know, I think to get back to a moment ago, as you’re saying, the loneliness and the separation you feel around these losses. I know that feeling very well. And yet. And yet you and I have never…We’re just meeting now, right? You and I also know right out of the chutes we have a ton in common, by virtue of being human beings, by virtue of being on the same planet at the same time, by virtue of knowing what loss feels like and what it feels like to have life go away, wish it didn’t. You know, that’s a lot to have in common. So I guess my point there, among other things, is to say, given all that we have in common, you know, maybe this separation, this loneliness thing is made up, maybe the sense of isolation and loneliness is itself a bond. And if we can keep working with these lives that we have, maybe we can come to see the communal experience in this, because I think we hurt more than we need to. Pain’s part of life. Just no two ways about it. Loss is part of life. There’s no two ways about it. In fact, I’ve met people who have not had much pain in their lives, who haven’t suffered much, and they seem to be the more miserable people that I’ve ever met. So there’s something to all this.

Well, it’s interesting because I early on sought out situations of loss and suffering. I mean, that’s what made me become a reporter. I wanted to be around others who spoke the language of loss. I wanted to be where suffering was present. It overwhelmed my natural defenses and I felt it. And I communed with it in, you know, a myriad of different ways, in Somalia and Sarajevo and all these places I went in my early twenties and I learned how to live there.

But that sounds familiar to me as someone who went into medicine for much, many of the same reasons.

You were drawn into medicine because of what happened to you when you were 19?

Yes. Yeah. When I was sophomore at Princeton, had this electrical accident and lost three limbs, came close to death, all that stuff. Yeah. I had no interest in medical science or medicine or healthcare before that. But yes, I went into medicine to make meaning from my own experiences and to live, hang out near that interface between life and death, loss and gain, you know, joy and sorrow. That’s where I wanted to hang out because that was a very alive place. And it sounds like perhaps for you, too. But I have a question for you, because I know in my case, I mean, the pursuit of medicine was in a lot of ways a very constructive thing to have done. But I was perhaps a little too drawn to danger or to risk. And maybe there was a little piece of me that was thumbing my nose at death or daring something to happen. I don’t know. Do you have that experience?

Yeah. I mean, the old saw on people who go to report on war stuff is that they’re adrenaline junkies. That does not feel like something that I was doing. But I do understand wanting to expose myself to the rawest, most overwhelming of feelings. And that’s going to sound really cheesy. It’s a really cheesy reference. But there’s this old Kevin Costner movie, Dances with Wolves, and there’s this scene in it when he rides a horse during a battle, he lets go of the reins and opens his arms wide and rides through the gunfire, like giving himself up to that thing. And that resonated with me when I saw it, that feeling of just exposing myself to the most overwhelming of emotions, anger and violence and all sorts of things. And I think I’ve never felt as alive than I do when I’m in that zone.

I’m with you on multiple planes. You just give me chills because my sister, who died by suicide herself, when I was still in the hospital she came and took me on a field trip. We went to the movie theater just down the road, this was in Chicago, and we saw Dances with Wolves, and I remember that scene very well. And what Kevin Costner’s character was doing there, as far as you or I might understand it, was, was not a death wish. It was a love of life so complete that he would surrender himself to whatever was going to be. Right or something like that.

After the break, I’ll talk with BJ about the death of his sister Lisa and how he came to see grief as a beautiful thing.

BJ Miller was with his sister Lisa just days before she died. They were in Milwaukee together with their family, celebrating Thanksgiving. Days after she returned to her apartment in New York, she killed herself. BJ and his parents went to Lisa’s apartment to clean it out. And when they did, they found a diary that she’d been keeping for years. BJ’s parents went through it later with a therapist who posthumously diagnosed Lisa as having bipolar disorder.

Lisa was four years older than me, and she died by her own hand 22 years ago, 2000, just before her 33rd birthday. And, you know, it’s been a kind of a hell in a lot of ways for my parents and for me in some ways. You know, for me, it was many years before I really felt much. I kind of bought into this, the best thing we can do is get back on that horse. And almost as though nothing had happened. Like that, that was what was rewarded. That was what was called strength. And I bought, you know, I bought that silly package. And for years after Lisa’s death, I quickly made sense of it. I remember when I heard that she had died, my mind quickly made a story about her in this world and how it sort of made sense. And I kind of just left it at that and didn’t let myself feel much anything for a long time in the name of this get back on the horse, be strong thing. And what I came to learn, it took me maybe I don’t know how many years, maybe a dozen, when as a physician working with other people in their grief, I started to see grief as this beautiful thing, this essential thing, yet another linking force between us humans, not this shameful thing to be embarrassed about her that smells like mental illness or whatever we humans foist on it. And so by working with others and seeing them move through their grief and seeing how their grief connected them to the person that they had lost, I finally let myself begin to feel things. Actually, at first I tried to feel things and nothing really came. I would picture Lisa. It was literally a black box in my mind, like a…like the big black monolith in 2001. I couldn’t open it. I couldn’t see through it, into it. But by conversations like ours, by sort of taking care to de-shame this and invite feelings, that came back bit by bit. And now now I have, you know, an active relationship with Lisa on some level, you know, in me, I think of her now and I don’t mind the the the sorrow that comes with it, actually. It’s a it’s a link.

That’s really interesting to me. I haven’t thought about grief in that way, as as bringing you back to Lisa. To me, something about suicide, I mean, it’s sort of so painful that it makes it difficult for me to remember how my brother lived his life as opposed to how his life ended. Yeah.

Yeah. I bet you and I, if we keep talking, we would see these feelings evolve over the course of our lifetimes. Like, it may be subtle, and it took me years to feel anything, but I do feel a dynamism with Lisa, with this conversation, even if it’s the dynamism of me wrapping my head around life.

Do you feel like you know her, though? I mean, of course now I see signs of my brother, but I feel like I was wrong about the bonds. I thought we had the deal I thought we had. It’s one of the reasons I’m sort of annoyed at my brother is because I sort of feel like I got left holding the bag. And I was the one that had to deal with everything. I thought my brother and I had this agreement that we would just sort of get through our childhoods and meet on the other side as adults and become friends and, like, look back on the things that happened with perspective. And I realized that there was not that bargain.

Oh, brother. My sister and I had the same deal cause she had lost one of her best friends in college to suicide. And Lisa and I talked a lot about this, how we wouldn’t do this to each other. It left too much pain for the people behind. And yet she did it anyway, you know, and she didn’t leave a note. Which for Lisa was telling. Lisa could be very manipulative. She could be mean. And if she wanted me or my parents to really hurt, she would have left us a note and told us to. But she didn’t. You know, like we were saying at the start of our conversation about how grief can be this connection back to the person pain, suffering, sorrow, pick a word, can be a connector between people. I feel you. I feel your pain. I know you a little bit because of it, etc.. Do you still feel connected? Do you feel an active connection to your brother?

I, I don’t know that I do. Hmm. He and I were two years apart, and we didn’t really talk a lot about stuff together, and he didn’t really talk about stuff with anyone. I didn’t really talk about stuff with anyone. And I think he and I were very similar in that way. I think because of the way he died, I, I have wanted to distance myself so that I could assure myself that that was not going to happen to me.

When I say a connection to your brother, when I say connection to my sister, I don’t feel a very deep spiritual presence per se. It’s more by looking at my pain that is related to her, it has something to do with her, it’s there because of her on some level. And so by touching it, I’m touching her in this indirect way. Like, I have this thing, I don’t know where it came from, but I just have this, whenever I see like a clock, if it’s like 1:11 or 2:22 or 3:33, for whatever reason, I think that’s Lisa. That’s just me touching Lisa. That’s Lisa in the cosmos. I don’t even know what, but it’s some kind of connection point. Is it made up? Almost certainly, you know. But like my brains let myself just give it to myself that. You know, I would not be this person I am without Lisa. And in this way, she’s still alive through me. She’s still alive through her friend. She’s still alive in this way. Her body’s not here. The emotional residue, the sort of existential or spiritual residue is all over the place. She’s all over the place. And and so I. I make a choice to let those be connections, you know. And even if it’s made up. That’s okay. We make up a bunch of stuff.

I think I find it almost too painful. So, I don’t know. I would like to do what you do and have some sort of. I’m just not sure I knew who he was.

That’s one of my lonelier thoughts is, is, did I really know her? Did she really ever really know me? Did we, were we ever really connected except by this sort of blood stuff?

That’s a terrifying… that thought really is. I don’t love that one, but I have it. And Lisa’s presence in my life is very often her absence. You know, the hole is her. The hole in my heart is is this presence, you know? So it’s not always pleasant. But these are…in these ways they’re still with us. In these ways they’re not gone because we’re still actively chewing on this loss. I scraped the barrel with that one. Did I really even ever know Lisa? Did she ever really know me? Whew, brother. That one does me in. But one way enough, we’re left with things that we don’t get to answer and that there are things going on that we just don’t un…or at least I don’t understand.

I mean, I really struggle with the whys of my brother’s death. And I think that’s one of the awful things about suicide, is that everybody who’s left behind, you hear them say always the same things over and over again. You know, I had no idea, he’s the last person you would think would do this. And that why was for me overpowering for a little while. And part of it again was kind of why I started going out into the world and going to places to understand the why of things and to places where the whys were incredibly complex. And to get to a place where sometimes there isn’t any why.

Human beings, sometimes there isn’t a why.

That’s right. And oftentimes the whys are probably made up anyway. I mean, we we string together narratives and we live with these narratives. They help us make sense. If we’re not careful, we get stuck with our narratives, too. It turns out those narratives are mutable, they’re changeable. We can change how we see things, all sorts of ways.

The stories that we tell ourselves.

Yeah. But to your to your point, the why, it’s tidy. I mean, I think of whatever, it’s Nietzsche who said something like “Give a man a why and they can withstand anything,” or something like that. I think I have a sense of why I have to do that. Some purpose or meaning. Then, hey, I can put up with anything. You know, Viktor Frankl said that coming out of the Holocaust, too. And fair enough, if you get one, if you can land on one, if you get a reason, they can be very powerful. But if I’m really paying attention, if we’re really honest we don’t always get a why, we don’t always get to know. This is why life is, you know, it’s kind of fascinating. Put it this way, Anderson, if you knew all the whys, if you understood the way the universe worked, I think that might be a little boring. I’m not sure what I would do with that. I mean, we’re so far from that it’s such a ridiculous hypothetical. But my point here is there’s there’s life beyond the whys, a life beyond the story. And I find that very useful to remind myself of.

Yeah. And there is something to be said for getting to a place where you can live without a why. There’s a freedom to it. That, at least for me, has been liberating.

Lot of this has been brought to the fore because in going through my mom’s stuff, I’m also going through some of my brother’s stuff. And then there’s a question of, what do I do with, like, the journals that my brother made when he was the Dungeon Master. We were nerds playing Dungeons and Dragons when we were little kids, or his school notebooks and his shoes and all these things which were just stored away because my mom couldn’t deal with going through it. And that’s been difficult because it sort of, it often feels like throwing those things away are throwing away the last pieces of him that exist.

Yeah, well, you know, I, I’ve, I chose over the years to let go of things, and sometimes I wish I hadn’t. The one thing I kept of Lisa’s that I had for years was the sweater she was wearing when she died. You could smell her. You could smell her B.O, it was like, it’s kind of hilarious because she would have, she would’ve laughed at that. And so that visceral pull, that smelling her on that sweater, not just thinking what she did wearing that sweater, it was the one thing I was going to hang on to and let myself have this nostalgia or this connection to. And at some point, I don’t even know where that sweater is anymore. And, and again, there is no right or wrong here. I’m just sort of relaying how I how I’ve dealt with it. For me, the person you lost becomes an internal to you. They move inside. Lisa lives in me in this way, the way we’ve been talking. Her personal effects have lost, you know, a lot of, I no longer inject significance into them. It’s a little bit like, you know, an open casket funeral. There’s a moment where you see the body and you’re so aware, oh, we’re not just our bodies. And I think it can be very helpful to see a dead body and to see, oh, my sister’s gone now. She’s not in that. That’s her body. But that’s not her. In the same way with the rest of the material world. I have found it mostly useful to let go of those things, safely knowing that Lisa lives in me now and I don’t need those external things. But I also confess that sometimes I wish I had more of them. And sometimes I’m not always sure I wish I had thrown them away.

It’s so interesting to me that you kept your sister’s sweater. In going through my mom’s stuff, my mom left me notes and I open this drawer in her house and there was a box I opened up and there was a note. And it said, “Andy, these are the clothes I was wearing when Carter died.” And it was a sweater and the skirt she was wearing. And again, it’s one of those things like, what do I do with that?

Do you know what you can do with that?

Do you have to? I mean, do you have to decide?

No. And I think that’s what I’m coming to. A friend of my mom’s, that’s one of the things she said to me was like, look, you’ve been through a lot and you don’t have to decide everything right away. And I have kids now. I want them to have access to my family’s past. But I also don’t want to just end up again, like with the storage unit, with all the stuff in it that I haven’t dealt with and they have to deal with. I sort of don’t want to leave them holding the bag.

Yeah. And yeah, fair enough. And maybe you need to have that stuff in the storage bin for a while until you’re really done with it, until you know, until you’re clear, you know, and hopefully that happens before you leave this earth, just for the sake of your kids and a little that makes their grief a little tidier. But we’re going to leave unfinished business one way or another for really paying attention no matter what we do. I wrote a whole book about sort of how to approach the end of life and kind of clean things up for your own sake as well as your family’s. And I think there’s a lot to that, but nor do I believe it’s a failure if somehow you leave any emotional messiness for your family. I mean, this is, this is life. And life is emotionally messy, you know. So if you ask my advice, I just, yeah, keep it until you know what to do with it.

BJ Miller, thank you so much.

Anderson Cooper. Thank you, buddy. It’s been a real pleasure talking with you.

In editing this podcast, I probably listened to that interview dozens of times and read the transcripts over and over. And I really like what BJ said early on about not seeing sadness and tears as the enemy. That happiness and joy can coexist with sadness. To me, that’s freeing because I often feel like I need to kind of accelerate through the sad time so I can finally get to the feeling good part of life. But I think he’s right. That’s not how it works. Certainly hasn’t worked for me. He also said something that really helps me feel less alone. He talked about the communal experience of loss.

Maybe the sense of isolation and loneliness is itself a bond. Maybe we can come to see the communal experience in this, because I think we hurt more than we need to.

We hurt more than we need to. I find that comforting and hopeful. And finally, I want to get the quote right. He said, “This is your life. This isn’t a detour from life.”

“This is life. So treat it accordingly.”

I love that. I don’t know if I can do it, but it’s certainly worth a try. And that’s all there is for this episode. Next time, Molly Shannon on how the devastating losses she experienced as a child propelled her to where she is today.

Nobody wanted to bring up the accident, but my mom had died and my baby sister Katie had died. But Father Marie sat down after Mass and held my hands and looked deep in my eyes. And he was like, Molly, I know you lost your mother and you lost your sister. It’s very sad. That’s very hard. And I just the fact that he did that meant so much to me, just that he could acknowledge the loss, the pain. It meant so much to me.

All there is with Anderson Cooper is a production of CNN Audio. Our producers are Rachel Cohn and Madeleine Thompson. Our associate producers are Audrey Horowitz and Charis Satchell. Felicia Patinkin is the supervising producer and Megan Marcus is executive producer. Mixing and sound design by Francisco Monroy. Our technical director is Dan Dzula. Artwork designed by Nichole Pesaru and James Andrest with support from Charlie Moore, Jessica Ciancimino, Chip Grabow, Steve Kiehl, Anissa Gray, Tameeka Ballance-Kolasny, Lindsay Abrams, Alex McCall and Lisa Namerow.



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South Korean President warns North over nuclear program




Seoul, South Korea
CNN
 — 

North Korea will face “a determined and overwhelming response” from South Korea and the United States if it attempts to use nuclear weapons, South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol said Saturday.

Speaking at the nation’s 74th Armed Forces Day ceremony, Yoon called North Korea’s recent law declaring itself a “nuclear weapons state” a threat to the survival and prosperity of South Korea and reiterated calls for Kim Jong Un to denuclearize.

“[North Korea’s] development of nuclear weapons will make the lives of North Koreans more difficult. The regime must make the decision to denuclearize for true peace and mutual prosperity on the Korean Peninsula,” Yoon said.

Yoon also reaffirmed the South Korea-US alliance, promising that both militaries would strongly respond to North Korea’s provocations and threats if necessary.

“(The South Korean government) will enhance its reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities and strike capabilities against North Korea,” Yoon added.

Earlier Saturday, the South Korean military detected two short-range ballistic missiles launched from North Korea’s Sunan area in Pyongyang, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.

It was the fourth time in the past week that Pyongyang has fired missiles.

South Korea held an emergency National Security Council (NSC) meeting shortly after North Korea’s launch.

North Korea has now fired its most ballistic missiles in a single year since Kim Jong Un took power in 2012, according to the Unification Ministry and a CNN tally.



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Defense secretary condemns ‘nuclear saber-rattling’ but says he doesn’t believe Putin has decided to use nuclear weapons



A full interview with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will air at 10 a.m. ET on Sunday on “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”



CNN
 — 

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in a new interview condemned “nuclear saber-rattling,” and said while he hasn’t seen anything to suggest Vladimir Putin has decided to use nuclear weapons in the ongoing war on Ukraine, the choice is up to the Russian President.

“To be clear, the guy who makes that decision, I mean, it’s one man,” Austin said of Russian threats of nuclear weapons in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, set to air in full Sunday on “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”

“There are no checks on Mr. Putin. Just as he made the irresponsible decision to invade Ukraine, you know, he could make another decision. But I don’t see anything right now that would lead me to believe that he has made such a decision.”

Austin told Zakaria that he has privately conveyed to his Russian counterpart, Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu, not to “go down this path and conduct this type of irresponsible behavior.” Austin said he has not talked to Shoigo in “recent days” but said other members of US government leadership have conveyed similar messages to Russia “recently.”

“You’ve heard people in our – in our leadership – among our leadership that have said that we have communicated to them recently,” Austin said. “Personally, I have not talked to Shoigu in recent days, but I have talked to him in the past. And I have addressed this very issue to – and warned to not go down this path and conduct this type of irresponsible behavior.”

As CNN previously reported, the US has privately communicated to Russia for the past several months that there will be consequences if Moscow chooses to use a nuclear weapon in the Ukraine war, according to US officials. It was not immediately clear how or when the warnings were sent. The State Department was involved, according to one official.

Austin said Putin’s annexation claims to Ukrainian territory were “illegal” and called threats to use nuclear weapons “an irresponsible statement.”

“This nuclear saber rattling is not the kind of thing that we would expect to hear from leaders of large countries with capability,” Austin said.

Putin on Friday announced Russia would seize nearly a fifth of Ukraine, declaring that the millions of people living there would be Russian citizens “forever,” following so-called referendums, which have universally been dismissed as shams by Ukraine and Western countries.

US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the annexation and announced new sanctions against Russia in response.

Austin said the US will continue to support Ukraine in its efforts to take back the territory that has been captured by Russia.

“We can expect that the Ukrainians will continue to move forward and attempt to take back all of the territory within their – within their sovereign borders here,” he said. “We will continue to support them in their efforts.”



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Vitamix, Solo Stove and Hanky Panky: Best online sales right now


This weekend, you’ll find a deal on Leesa mattresses, a discounted Solo Stove fire pit and savings on a Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright Vacuum ZU621. All that and more below.

Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50

Upgrade your smoothie game with a top-of-the-line Vitamix blender. The bestselling A3500 and E310 models are $50 off, plus you’ll find discounts on bundles with a plentitude of handy attachments. The Vitamix Foodcycler, which breaks down food scraps into nutrient-rich fertilizer, will also be $50 off. If you’ve had your eye on one of these kitchen game-changers, now’s a great time to buy.

Solo Stove

Here at Underscored, we’re big fans of everything Solo Stove has to offer. From upgraded fire pits to pizza ovens and more, the brand makes outdoor gatherings that much better. Right now, you can score 25% off all Fire Pit 2.0s and $200 off the Pi Pizza Oven. Whether you prioritize size, portability or versatility, you’ll find what you’re looking for in these discounts — including the one of the first markdowns on brand-new, lightweight Mesa Fire Pit.

Friends & Family Event

Hanky Panky

Looking to update your underwear drawer? Right now, Hanky Panky is offering 30% off everything — a rare sitewide deal. Now through Oct. 3, you’ll save on thongs, underwear and bras, plus loungewear, pajamas and more. Whether you’re looking for something lacy, lightweight or cozy, you’ll find lots during Hanky Panky’s Friends & Family Event.

Shark

With great cleaning power and maneuverability, the Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away NV501 was a standout in all of our testing. Right now, a similar model is heavily discounted at Walmart, meaning you can achieve squeaky clean floors for less. In addition to all the best features of our top pick, this vacuum boasts a self-cleaning brushroll and lightweight maneuverability, helping you effectively deep-clean carpets and engage floors for a polished look. At almost half off right now, this vacuum is a steal you won’t want to miss.

Leesa

If you’ve been looking to upgrade your mattress, listen up. Right now, Leesa is offering 2019 prices on its Original Mattress — that’s just $999 for a Queen size — now through Oct. 12. Use code BACKTO19 for the savings.

• Today only, Underscored readers can get an Aerogarden Harvest Slim indoor plant system for just $99.95 with code CNNHARVEST.

• Snag an Apple Magic Trackpad to make the most of your iPad experience — right now you can get 34% off at eBay.

• Save $200 on a Dyson upright vacuum that’ll keep your floors free of dust, pet hair and messes of any kind.

• Get 25% off sitewide at Zagg and protect your phone or tablet with a brand-new case or other accessory.

• Pet safe candles by Companion Candles are 15% off during a sitewide sale this weekend only. Use code ONEYEAR for the savings.

• Treat your pup to a luxurious night’s sleep with a Parachute dog bed, about 70% off at Nordstrom.

• Amazon is offering a crafting essential, the Cricut Joy machine, for $80 off.

• Save on a pair of Galaxy Buds Pro, our favorite Samsung earbuds, right now.

Sherpa hoodies are on sale at Woot! right now, just in time for cooler temps.

• Grab some discounted workout and lounge clothes during the Athleta warehouse sale right now.

• Replace your dried-out markers and highlighters right now with these Amazon deals.

Big & Small for Fall Sale

SimpleHuman

Simplehuman’s products streamline your routines with smart, minimal home solutions — everything from trash cans to soap pumps to kitchen storage and much more. Right now, the brand is launching an exclusive (and free!) membership program and celebrating with a promo for customers. During the Big & Small for Fall Sale, shoppers get a free 4.5-liter step can with purchase of a large kitchen trash can. Members also get free shipping and returns, special access and more.

Eero

We named the Eero 6 mesh router, with its foolproof setup process, nearly unrivaled speeds and coverage areas, as your best bet when opting for a mesh router. Since then, Amazon has updated the router, and the new E6 supports faster speeds on more devices. Now $120 off, the router is seeing its first discount ever.

Leuchtturm1917

Dedicated journalers know that the Leuchtturm1917 is a fantastic choice for everyday notes, planning and more. This notebook opens flat, and its high-quality pages won’t bleed through. If you’ve been looking for ways to get more organized, snag this notebook now — regularly $24.95, it’s a few dollars off right now in a rare discount.

Samsung

Practical technology and interior design can sometimes feel at odds, but with The Frame TV, integration is seamless. The Frame won’t intrude on your aesthetic, thanks to its customizable TV bezel and Art Mode function, which transforms the screen into a beautiful work of art when you’re not watching TV. Right now Woot! is offering six sizes from 32- to 85-inch for numbers that beat the Samsung Discover Event prices by a mile.

Universal Standard

Universal Standard

Universal Standard’s size-inclusive, on-trend clothing is all 25% off, thanks to the brand’s Anniversary Sale. Use code BIRTHDAY25 at checkout to score discounts on everything from sweaters to denim, intimates to outerwear and more. If you’re refreshing your fall wardrobe, it’s a great time to shop timeless fashion in sizes 00 to 40.



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Supreme Court rearranges its seating chart as Jackson takes the bench



Washington
CNN
 — 

Tradition is a long-held value at the US Supreme Court, where the nine justices’ adherence to a myriad of historic rules makes the inner workings of America’s highest court reliably consistent even as its decisions sometimes send shock waves through the country.

Some of those treasured rules will soon be on display as the court’s newest member, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, takes her seat on the bench for oral arguments. Although Jackson was administered her official oaths last spring, her investiture ceremony sealed her position on the bench days before the court’s new term begins on Monday, October 3.

The addition of Jackson will cause the court to invoke one of its closely held traditions: the rearrangement of where the justices are seated on the bench when a new justice joins its ranks.

In the courtroom, justices are seated by seniority, with the chief justice in the middle. “The senior associate justice sits to his right, the second senior to his left, and so on, alternating right and left by seniority,” according to the court.

This means that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas will occupy the same seat this term that they did last term. But the remaining justices will be shuffled around, with Jackson seated to Roberts’ left on the end, and Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who joined the court in late 2020, seated on the opposite end, and the other five justices taking new seats depending on when they joined the court.

On Friday, Jackson also participated in other court traditions, including sitting in the historic John Marshall Bench Chair at the beginning of the ceremony, as is customary for all new justices.

President Joe Biden attended the Friday morning ceremony. It is customary before the event for the president to chat privately with the justices in a conference room and to sign the court’s oversized guest book.

After the ceremony, Jackson took the traditional walk down the 36 marble steps at the front of the columned building accompanied by the chief justice.

Although the justices will take new seats this term, much of the public won’t ever see them in those positions because photography is not allowed in the courtroom. But Roberts has announced that after more than two years of pandemic-related restrictions, members of the public will be allowed back into the courtroom, though he has yet to lay out details.

Before October, the justices will likely discuss whether the court will continue to allow a live audio feed of oral arguments, a practice that began during the pandemic that enables the public to follow along in real time.

Continuing that practice could allow court watchers across the country to get an understanding of Jackson’s style on the bench as she participates in oral arguments during her first term.

In the new term, the justices will consider issues including voting rights, immigration, affirmative action, environmental regulations and religious liberty — areas where the solid conservative majority can easily control the outcomes.



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Biden calls Nord Stream pipeline leaks a ‘deliberate act of sabotage’





CNN
 — 

President Joe Biden on Friday called the leaks in the Nord Stream pipelines a “deliberate act of sabotage” and accused Russia and President Vladimir Putin of “pumping out disinformation and lies,” though he did not directly accuse Moscow for the leaks.

Biden’s strong words mark the first time he’s directly asserted that the leaks were a result of sabotage, pushing back on Russia’s narrative about the incident amid Moscow’s escalating efforts to assert its claim over Ukrainian territory.

On Monday, leaks were discovered in the pipelines, prompting investigations by European authorities that determined powerful underwater explosions had occurred just before the pipelines burst in several places.

Biden said that the United States is working with allies to “get to the bottom of exactly – precisely what happened” with the leaks and that he has already directed resources to help allies enhance protection of the pipelines, which funnel gas from Russia into the European Union.

“Let me say this, it was a deliberate act of sabotage and now the Russians are pumping out disinformation and lies,” Biden said.

At “the appropriate moment when things calm down, we’re gonna send the divers down to find out exactly what happened,” he added. “We don’t know that yet.”

Western nations have said leaks in Nord Stream 1 and 2, two Russian gas pipelines, are likely the result of sabotage. But up to this point, US officials had been largely circumspect compared to their European counterparts in drawing conclusions about the leaks.

Putin on Friday claimed “Anglo-Saxons” were to blame for the explosions, claiming: “Well, for the Anglo-Saxons sanctions are no longer enough, they switched to sabotage. Unbelievable, but it is a fact.”

Biden, however, insisted that what Putin is saying about the leaks is “not true.” And national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Friday that the US does not believe any NATO ally is behind the leaks.

The pipelines were controversial long before Russia waged war on Ukraine, largely because of fears around European reliance on Russian energy.

If Russia did deliberately cause the explosions, it would be effectively sabotaging its own pipelines: Russian state company Gazprom is the majority shareholder in Nord Stream 1 and the sole owner of Nord Stream 2.

But officials familiar with the latest intelligence say that Moscow would likely view such a step as worth the price if it helped raise the costs of supporting Ukraine for Europe. US and western intelligence officials believe Putin is gambling that as electricity costs rise and winter approaches, European publics could turn against the Western strategy of isolating Russia economically. Sabotaging the pipelines could “show what Russia is capable of,” one US official previously told CNN.

Allegations about the leaks come amid what the West has cast as Moscow’s most serious escalation in the war in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began in February.

Last week, Putin announced partial mobilization in Russia, calling up 300,000 reservists. And earlier Friday, Putin delivered a formal speech announcing that Russia is to annex nearly a fifth of Ukraine following so-called referendums, which have universally been dismissed as shams by Ukraine and Western countries.

Biden on Friday responded to Putin’s earlier remarks about annexation, saying, “America is fully prepared with our NATO allies to defend every single inch of NATO territory. Every single inch. So, Mr. Putin, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. Every inch.”

Biden asserted that Western allies “are not going to be intimidated by Putin and his reckless words and threats. He’s not going to scare us or intimidate us. Putin’s actions are a sign he’s struggling.”

“The sham referenda he carried out and … the sham routine that he put on this morning … well, the United States is never going to recognize this and quite frankly, the world’s not going to recognize it, either. He can’t seize his neighbor’s territory and get away with it. It’s as simple as that,” he continued.

Earlier Friday, the US announced new sanctions in response to Putin’s annexation announcement. The measures include a combination of export controls, visa restrictions and asset freezes, as part of an effort to further clamp down on Russian supply chains – and the individuals directing the efforts – critical to maintaining the war effort.

The United States, Biden said during his remarks, “is going to continue to stay the course” with Ukraine.

“We’re going to continue to provide military equipment so that Ukraine can defend itself and its territory and its freedom, including additional resources that the Congress is going to give me today of $13 billion more dollars to help Ukrainians defend themselves and fight back,” he continued.

This story has been updated with additional developments Friday.



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‘I can’t do this’: Woman calls for help as Hurricane Ian’s storm surge floods her home




CNN
 — 

Hope Labriola stood naked on her bed, the water rising in her mobile home, as Hurricane Ian roared overhead.

For a few moments, the 45-year-old Fort Myers Beach woman was able to talk on her cell phone with her friend Lisbeth Whelan before losing phone service.

The phone call, which Whelan was able to record, happened around 5 p.m. Wednesday and lasted about 3 minutes before the call dropped, the recording shows.

“I heard the water enter her phone and then everything went off,” Whelan told CNN.

Hurricane Ian survivor Hope Labriola waited for help as her home filled with water.

“She told me that her nose was touching the ceiling and that she was having a hard time breathing. It was torture,” Wheeler said. “She was naked. She had to take her clothes off because the clothes kept getting wetter and weighing her down, and she’s only about 100 pounds.”

During the phone call a crying Labriola is heard repeatedly saying “I can’t do this” and “I’m so cold.”

Whelan told CNN Labriola was in tears during earlier calls as she watched floodwaters destroy her family heirlooms.

Seconds before the call dropped, Whelan asks Labriola if there were waves of water nearby, which she was hearing over the phone. A crying Labriola then responded with “I love you” and the call dropped.

Whelan posted on several Facebook groups begging for rescue groups to check on her friend but was told it was still too dangerous for rescue efforts to begin.

Hope Labriola was in tears as family heirlooms were destroyed by rising floodwaters, driven by Hurricane Ian.

Whelan finally heard back from Labriola Thursday evening and told CNN she was elated to hear her friend had been rescued by the disaster relief volunteer group, the Cajun Navy early Thursday morning.

In an interview with CNN Friday morning, Labriola, who has lived in the area with her cat for about 10 years, said she was rescued around 3 a.m. Thursday.

“I saw some flashlights and I started screaming for help through this little crack in my window,” Labriola said. “At this point the water was up to my shoulders.”

“They couldn’t get into my house. They tried to break the windows, they tried to do whatever they could. Then they finally got me out.”

Hope Labriola waited on her bed for help to arrive.

Labriola told CNN she stood naked on her bed for several hours as she avoided the gushing waters in her one-story home.

Once she was saved, Labriola said she also witnessed the Cajun Navy rescue 19 other people, including a man who was stuck in a tree.

The residents who were rescued were transported to a hospital around 6 a.m. Thursday, according to Labriola, who was suffering from hypothermia when she arrived at the emergency room.

Labriola is still in shock but was released from the hospital Thursday night, she said. She’s currently sheltering at South Fort Myers High School with other displaced residents.

Labriola says she stayed in her home to take look after her cat and weather the storm. Fort Myers Beach was included in Lee County’s mandatory evacuation order before Hurricane Ian came ashore.

Labriola told CNN she does not plan to move back to Fort Myers Beach.

“People are like what are you going to do? And I tell them I’m leaving. You can’t get a house here. The whole place is wiped out.”

Labriola’s home has been destroyed, but she managed to save her wallet and cell phone before she was rescued. As of Friday morning, she’s still wearing the hospital scrubs she was given, but is grateful to be alive.

“That was the scariest thing I’ve been through. I didn’t think I was going to survive.”



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