By Elliot Hannon
Emerging criticism of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s transparency in his handling of the early days of the coronavirus pandemic grew louder Thursday when it was reported that Cuomo’s staff took out the true nursing home death toll in a July 2020 report, a move that significantly underplayed the virus’s impact on nursing home residents. …
By Evan Urquhart
A huge wave of anti-transgender legislation is coursing through statehouses in the early months of 2021. Bills that have been introduced (often with the same or similar language across states) follow one of two models: Some prohibit trans youth from participating in female-designated sports programs, while others seek to criminalize the provision of age-appropriate, trans-affirming medical care to minors. If you’re wondering why legislators (and the advocacy groups that feed them policy ideas) are focused on these particular issues, it may be useful to consider the concept of eugenics. …
By Joshua Keating
Freedom House has been publishing its annual Freedom in the World report for the last 47 years, and it’s been a reliable downer for the last 15. Each year the U.S.-based nongovernmental organization assesses the world’s countries on a range of measures of political rights and civil liberties, dividing them into categories of Free, Partly Free, and Not Free. Since 2006, more countries have seen their scores decline every year than increase. Still, 2020 stands out as a particularly bad year, with 73 countries experiencing declines in freedom compared with only 28 seeing gains. …
By Karen Han
Video games often offer players an escapist fantasy, opening windows into fantastical worlds and allowing people to play as idealized versions of themselves or their polar opposites. But that expansiveness isn’t always a guarantee: Character customization options are largely still tied to the male/female gender binary rather than allowing players to choose a nonbinary option and, in some cases, represent trans identities in problematic ways. …
By Henry Grabar
In the year since the pandemic shut down New York City, momentum has been building around the idea that the city ought to take back more space from cars. Especially while it’s still in partial hibernation.
This idea germinated in birdsong and clear skies in the early days of the lockdown, two small silver linings of a tragedy. It bloomed with city-sanctioned open streets, which gave families much-needed space to walk and play. It went on through a bicycle boom, in which New Yorkers wary of buses and subways bought and rode bikes in huge numbers, and…
By Ben Mathis-Lilley
The Hasbro company announced Thursday that it will, going forward, market the product formerly known as Mr. Potato Head under the name Potato Head. The toy will still be sold with accessories children can use to make their plastic potatoes into men (or women, or anything they like, as has always been the case, if you think about it), but the top-line brand name will no longer treat masculinity as a default condition. The company also notes that it is not actually even eliminating the characters of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head themselves from its packaging.
By Joshua Keating
The Biden administration has already reversed many of the Trump administration’s retreats from international agreements and organizations, rejoining the Paris Agreement on climate change and the World Health Organization, planning a return to the U.N. Human Rights Council, and attempting to resuscitate the six-country 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran.
But, notably, the administration has not yet undone one of Trump’s most egregious assaults on a multilateral institution: the sanctions on the International Criminal Court.
The Trump administration retaliated against the ICC, the Hague-based court set up to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity, for its decision…
By Allegra Frank
Daft Punk, they of the mysterious robot helmets and mainstream electronic hits, announced on Monday that they had broken up. The group had been on hiatus, so this felt more like people who had tacitly already called it quits just making the subtext text. But it still represents the end of an era for a group whose most recent — and, ultimately, final — release, 2013’s Random Access Memories, picked up the Grammy for Album of the Year.
By Molly Olmstead
When a ferociously cold winter storm barreled into the Deep South last week, it left millions of Texans without power, in sub-freezing temperatures, for dangerously long stretches of time. An unknown but large number of residents — including children, the elderly, the medically vulnerable, and those experiencing homelessness — died from carbon monoxide poisoning and hypothermia. Countless others had to scramble to deal with burst pipes, spoiled food, and misery from days without power, thanks in part to the state’s uniquely Texan approach to distributing power, and in part to the failure of public officials to head…
By Mark Joseph Stern
Justice Clarence Thomas is not backing down from the fight to legitimize Donald Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was rife with fraud. On Monday morning, Thomas issued a startling opinion ranting against the alleged dangers of mail voting and declaring that SCOTUS must override state courts that expand vote by mail pursuant to their state constitutions. Trump may be out of office, but his staunchest ally on the U.S. Supreme Court is carrying on his assault on the legitimacy of the election.
Covering news, politics and culture since 1996.