Parisians are used to waving away thick clouds of smoke from their faces, but this time it's not from cigarettes. The French capital is currently cloaked in a heavy blanket of smog, a case of severe air pollution spurred by unseasonably warm temperatures. It's so bad that the city is making public transportation (including bikes and electric vehicles) free for the weekend to get people out of their cars and motorcycles.
The European Environment Agency reports that the smog is the worse it's been since 2007, with nearly three-quarters of France affected. Local hospitals are treating an influx of patients suffering from chronic respiratory ailments, such as difficulty breathing and coughing.
Temperatures are expected to remain in the upper 60s and low 70s until Monday, when a cold front is expected to usher in some rain and relief. -- Jordan Valinsky
In real life, most of us would raise an eyebrow at the nearly triple-decade age difference between a couple whose ages were 25 and 53. But in last year's Magic in the Moonlight, this actual age difference between Emma Stone and love interest Colin Firth was hardly taboo.
In Hollywood, it's basically standard practice to pair young female stars with much older love interests (sometimes, the men are even old enough to be their fathers). Vulture looked deeper at this trend by creating graphs that compare the ages of three young actresses (Emma Stone, now 26; Jennifer Lawrence, now 25; and Scarlett Johansson, now 30) with that of their male love interests. Here's Stone's graph:
In case that graph doesn't make a strong enough point about the rampant ageism and sexism in Hollywood, consider this: 37-year-old Maggie Gyllenhaal has said she was denied a role in a movie because she was considered her "too old" to play the love interest of a 55-year-old man. Samantha Rollins
In this week's issue of New York magazine, Jennifer Senior delves into 2016 presidential hopeful Jeb Bush's plans to win over Hispanic voters.
When describing Bush's passion for immigration and love of Hispanic culture, Senior writes that "as strange as it is to say, Jeb may be the true black sheep of the family, not W." According to one Miami Democrat and former Congressman, Joe Garcia, Bush's father described his mixed-race grandchildren as "the little brown ones." But Senior also notes that if Jeb Bush hadn't lost his first gubernatorial race in 1994, he may have been the GOP's presidential nominee in 2000, not his brother.
Senior goes on to describe how, despite his own ethnicity, Bush could still win Hispanic voters away from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), another presidential hopeful:
Rubio, for better or for worse, is still affiliated with the anti-immigrant tea party. Plenty of non-Cuban Latinos remember his comment from 2009 — "Nothing against immigrants, but my parents were exiles" — and hold it against him, because it implied that those who came here seeking economic opportunity deserved less. (It has since come out that Rubio’s parents came here for economic opportunity themselves, rather than fleeing from Castro.) Ironically, it also turns out to be important that Jeb is not Latino... A gringo agitating on behalf of immigration rights — what could be more powerful than that? [New York magazine]
Former CIA official Henry "Hank" Crumpton believes the Obama administration is doing a "lousy job" fighting ISIS, as he told The Hill in a recent interview.
Crumpton, who led a covert operation in Afghanistan after 9/11 and served as deputy director of the CIA Counterterrorism Center from 1999 to 2001, advocates a field-based approach to fighting the terrorist group, which would entail getting more intelligence agents entrenched in the field and empowering local Iraqi communities as well as overseas U.S. officials. The risk-averse, Washington-centric strategy currently pursued by the Obama administration, however, "does not reflect reality on the ground," according to Crumpton.
While we've been focused on the NSA, another domestic surveillance agency has been quietly chugging along, spying on probably all of us. The National Security Analysis Center (NSAC) is a Justice Department division that is remarkably unknown — and expansive. Gawker reports:
If you have a telephone number that has ever been called by an inmate in a federal prison, registered a change of address with the Postal Service, rented a car from Avis, used a corporate or Sears credit card, applied for nonprofit status with the IRS, or obtained non-driver's legal identification from a private company, they have you on file. [Gawker]
The NSAC grew out of a post-9/11 program, the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force (FTTTF), which was originally focused on monitoring foreigners suspected of terrorist activity. With the establishment of the NSAC, however, that scope widened to include Americans, zeroing in on Muslims and young people deemed susceptible to terrorist influences, as well as military members and other government employees (plus all their family and friends) who have connections abroad.
Today, the agency conducts mass surveillance in service of the wars on terror and drugs. Because it straddles the line between intelligence and law enforcement, the NSAC "skirts limitations that exist in each community, allowing it to collect and examine information on people who are not otherwise accused of or suspected of any crime." Bonnie Kristian
Pork-loving Chipotle fans, fear not: The beloved fast-casual Mexican chain is looking for ways to supplement its carnitas shortage. Starting today in Kansas City, Missouri, Chipotle is testing chorizo on its menus as the lack of pork that meets its standard of "responsibly raised" has rendered many locations unable to offer carnitas.
"I've been beating the drum for five years," Chipotle corporate chef Nate Appleman told the Kansas City Star of adding chorizo to the menus. Appleman’s chorizo combines pork and chicken to lighten up the sausage and cut down the grease, but he assures eaters: "This is a full-flavored chorizo."
As of now, chorizo will only grace the menus of the 33 Chipotle locations in Kansas City as the company tests how it is received. But if you find yourself in northwestern Missouri today with $7 to spare, head over for a burrito and help make history. Kimberly Alters
A Hillary Clinton campaign email shared with The Intercept invites supporters to a "Conversation with Hillary" which starts at $1,000 a head. The email bills this elite function as part of Clinton's "grassroots campaign":
For us little people who can't cough up that kind of cash, the Clinton campaign also offered a "Meet Hillary" contest, but it turns out winners will have to pay several hundred dollars in taxes on the prize. Bonnie Kristian
They say you should never read the comments. Even Mitt Romney knows that. But for one shady organization in Russia, an entire business model depends on public consumption of — and faith in — internet comments sections, social media, and online profiles.
The New York Times Magazine published a hard-to-believe investigation Tuesday on Russia's Internet Research Agency, a company based in St. Petersburg that hires hundreds of young Russians to post and disseminate pro-Kremlin propaganda on the internet. The report begins by detailing a mysterious, threatening report of an ISIS chemical attack in Louisiana last September:
"Dozens of journalists, media outlets and politicians... found their Twitter accounts inundated with messages about the disaster. "Heather, I'm sure that the explosion at the #ColumbianChemicals is really dangerous. Louisiana is really screwed now," a user named @EricTraPPP tweeted at the New Orleans Times-Picayune reporter Heather Nolan. Another posted a screenshot of CNN's home page, showing that the story had already made national news. ISIS had claimed credit for the attack, according to one YouTube video … But anyone who took the trouble to check CNN.com would have found no news of a spectacular Sept. 11 attack by ISIS. It was all fake: the screenshot, the videos, the photographs." [The New York Times Magazine]
Employees of the Internet Research Agency apparently spend 12-hour days writing content for "every popular social network," writes Times reporter Adrian Chen. One of Chen's many sources was a former agency employee-turned-Benedict Arnold, Ludmila Savchuk, who compiled damning information while working for the company and leaked it all to a local newspaper before quitting. "They created such an atmosphere that people would understand they were doing something important and secretive and very highly paid," Savchuk told Chen, but they don't "clearly explain to you what your purpose there is."