This week, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints informed two members that they are being called before Mormon church tribunals that will consider whether to excommunicate them for "apostasy." This crackdown — on Kate Kelly, a Mormon lawyer pushing for ordaining women into the all-male priesthood, and John Dehlin, a psychology grad student who has started several online forums for voicing doubts and questions about Mormon orthodoxy, particularly its stricture on gay members — is the most prominent action against self-styled reformers since six intellectuals were pushed out in 1993.
Both Kelly and Dehlin say they cherish their church and only want to help it adapt and survive — "I love Mormonism and everything I've done has been to try and help it keep its members," Dehlin tells Reuters — and both suspect that their possible excommunications are being pushed by the central church in Salt Lake City.
The LDS press office disputes that, saying in a statement that "local leaders have the responsibility to clarify false teachings and prevent other members from being misled," but that these "decisions are made by local leaders and not directed or coordinated by church headquarters." The tribunals can slap Dehlin and Kelly with probation, disfellowship, or excommunication, or exonerate them. Peter Weber
As the summer of 2007 turned into fall, presidential candidate Barack Obama was trailing in the national polls behind Hillary Clinton, "the pundits were pouncing, and donors were panicking," David Axelrod, his top strategist at the time, told Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker.
With a Philadelphia debate and the Iowa Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner ahead, the Obama team decided in October the frontrunner's main vulnerability was her character, and Axelrod — along with campaign manager David Plouffe, pollster Joel Benenson, deputy communication director Dan Pfeiffer, and strategist Larry Grisolano — put together a memo that Axelrod said was "written for a big Come-to-Jesus meeting, at which Obama wanted us to review the strategy and lay out our plans."
The memo, which Lizza published for the first time in its entirety on Tuesday, states that polling at the time showed voters were looking for a president who "can unite the country and restore our sense of common purpose," and the campaign team agreed that "Barack Obama is change. She is not." Obama's slogan, "Change you can believe in," was a contrast to Clinton not on policy, but on character, the strategists wrote, adding, "We cannot let Clinton especially blur the lines on who is the genuine agent of change in this election." They put together a compare and contrast list, with messages that needed to be emphasized by Obama — Obama they wrote, was "tough on issues and doesn't just tell people what they want to hear; he tells them what they need to know," while Clinton was "driven by politics, not conviction. From the war, to NAFTA, to Social Security, her choice of baseball teams, Clinton is constantly shifting, dodging, and changing positions to satisfy the politics of the moment."
As Grisolano told Lizza, "Frequently, in campaigns, we say 'contrast,' it's a euphemism for a frontal attack. You can see in the memo, and this is important about the constraints that the message put on us, because if you are the unity guy you can't come out with a crowbar against your opponent. We had to show we were different, but do it in a way that wasn't as direct as most campaigns do." The strategists told Lizza they don't know if the same strategy would work against Clinton today, but she definitely learned something from Obama's team — one of her campaign's first hires was pollster and memo writer Joel Benenson. Catherine Garcia
Marlon James' A Brief History of Seven Killings has been awarded the 2015 Man Booker Prize, which annually honors the best novel written in English.
The Jamaica-born author's A Brief History of Seven Killings offers a fictionalized take on a real-life attempt to assassinate reggae legend Bob Marley in 1976. According to The Guardian, chair of judges Michael Wood praised the 686-page novel as "the most exciting book on the list," while acknowledging that its explicit content — including plenty of violence and cursing — might make it the kind of book his mother wouldn't read.
This is the second year that the Man Booker Prize, which was previously awarded solely to members of the British Commonwealth, has been available to all English-language writers. Other novels on this year's short list included Tom McCarthy's Satin Island, Chigozie Obioma's The Fishermen, and Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life. Scott Meslow
The live-streaming app Periscope was used by savvy Florida police officers to track down a drunk driver — who was broadcasting herself weaving down the road. Whitney Marie Beall, 23, was reportedly bar-hopping in downtown Lakeland, Florida, when she decided to get in her car and record the whole thing for an audience of at least 57 viewers on Periscope.
"I am so f--king drunk," Beall told the people watching. Two viewers responded by sending her texts telling her to get off the road. Another called the police, explaining that Beall was drunk, lost, and filming herself, though the caller was unable to tell the officers what type of car she was in, according to The New York Times.
"Where the f--k am I going? I have no f--king idea of where I'm going right now," Beall can be heard saying in the recording of the live stream. She also frequently asked viewers to choose which direction she should drive in.
A police officer with a personal Periscope account was able to deduce Beall's location based on landmarks in the background, and cops initiated a traffic stop. The end of the story is surprisingly lucky for Beall, all things considered: After hitting the curb at the traffic stop, Beall failed a roadside sobriety test, refused a Breathalyzer test, and was charged with a DUI. Watch it unfold below. Jeva Lange
CNN, the 'most trusted name in news,' asked Katy Perry and Ashton Kutcher for help with its debate questions
CNN has the answer to the most burning of questions ahead of tonight's Democratic debate: What would Ashton Kutcher ask the candidates? Turns out, the star of Dude, Where's My Car? really wants to know about driverless cars.
"During your presidency, you will be faced with a robotic revolution — for example, driverless cars and semitrucks — as machines take skilled and unskilled jobs from Americans. This will further hollow out the middle class and divide society. What do you propose we do as a nation to bridge the gap without stifling innovation? What will you do as president to maintain a country where everyone has upward mobility?" [CNN]
Kutcher isn't the only celebrity that the self-proclaimed "most trusted name in news" asked for input. CNN also gathered material from Katy Perry, Demi Lovato, Shonda Rhimes, Sir Elton John, Montel Williams and Melissa Etheridge, to name a few. The results, CNN says, are "thought-provoking." Judge for yourself by reading the full list at CNN. Becca Stanek
As the GOP sees it, Hillary Clinton has always been wrong on Iraq — starting with that moment back in 2002 when she voted with George W. Bush to authorize the war. That choice, according to a GOP post entitled, "Wrong At Every Turn," was "devastating to her 2008 presidential bid" because, as The Washington Post explained, it "put her out of step with the Democratic base."
But while Republicans don't seem to be happy about that time when Clinton voted with them, they certainly aren't happy when she stands with her party, either. The post goes on to pan Clinton for falling back in step with Democrats, criticizing her for "belatedly" apologizing for her Iraq War vote and defending Obama's "popular yet premature withdrawal policy that left Iraq vulnerable and deteriorating."
The conclusion: "Throughout her career, Clinton has always been wrong on Iraq." Becca Stanek
Today's Playboy magazine covers do technically leave something to the imagination. But it's not like you could flip through a gallery of recent Playboy covers at your open-office desk without receiving a reprimanding email from your HR department.
But that wasn't the case 60 years ago. Picking up a Playboy from the 1950s, you'd be forgiven for mistaking the racy mag for a quirky comic book about a smartly dressed anthropomorphic rabbit who liked to keep tabs on his fully clothed female friends:
The covers from the first two decades of Playboy were more endearing innuendo than bra-busting cleavage. It's sweet, really. If fully clothed ladies and rabbits that can really pull off a suit are your thing, click here to see more G-rated vintage Playboy covers. Lauren Hansen
In a recent interview with DJ Whoo Kid, Atlanta-born rapper T.I. said he wouldn't vote for Hillary Clinton because women are inherently emotional and irrational.
"I just know that women make rash decisions emotionally," T.I. explained. "It's kind of like it didn't happen or they didn't mean for it to happen." The Grammy winner argued that "the world ain't ready" for a female president, citing the age-old concern that women in power are somehow more likely to set off a nuke than men.
"I think you might be able to get the Loch Ness Monster elected before [a woman]," he theorized.
It didn't take long, however, before backlash prompted the rapper to apologize:
My comments about women running for president were unequivocally insensitive and wrong. I sincerely apologize to everyone I offended.
— T.I. (@Tip) October 13, 2015
Perhaps T.I. acted... irrationally. Roxie Pell