Say hello to Melody Ellison, the newest American Girl doll.
— Us Weekly (@usweekly) February 23, 2016
Like the other dolls in the BeForever historical line — including wealthy orphan Samantha Parkington from 1904, gentle Josefina Montoya from 1824, daughter of Jewish Russian immigrants Rebecca Rubin from 1914 — Melody has a story: She is a nine-year-old growing up in Detroit during the 1960s civil rights era. She loves to sing, and has her own recording studio that plays Motown music (sold separately).
Melody is the third African American American Girl doll, and Julia Prohaska, vice president of marketing for the company, told CBS News there's a reason why she is coming years after the introduction of the Addy Walker doll (a young girl who escaped from slavery in 1864). "We do approach every character very thoughtfully so this isn't something we rush into," she said. "We're not looking to address critical demand — we're looking to tell stories in the most authentic and genuine way that we possibly can."
A six-person advisory board was formed to develop Melody, including historians, educators, and the late civil rights activist Julian Bond. They worked with a designer and Mark Speltz, a senior historian, who wanted to ensure that Melody embodied the movement that was "driven by average, ordinary Americans." American Girl is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and since 1986, has sold more than 29 million dolls and 153 million books. Melody will go on sale (for $115) later this summer. Catherine Garcia
The U.K.'s Houses of Parliament were hit with a cyberattack Friday evening consisting of "unauthorized attempts to access parliamentary user accounts," a representative of Parliament said Saturday. Members of Parliament were informed of the situation Friday night when they had difficulty accessing their email accounts remotely.
"We are continuing to investigate this incident and take further measures to secure the computer network," the representative said. "We have systems in place to protect member and staff accounts and are taking the necessary steps to protect our systems."
It is unclear how many MPs were affected or who is responsible for the attack. Bonnie Kristian
Monday begins the Supreme Court's final week before its current term ends and summer break begins. SCOTUS is expected to hand down several major decisions in the next few days — among them its ruling on President Trump's stalled travel ban — but rumors are swirling that this Monday could see a retirement announcement from Justice Anthony Kennedy, too.
"Sources close to Kennedy say that he is seriously considering retirement," CNN reported Saturday, though "they are unclear if it could occur as early as this term." Kennedy's departure would give President Trump his second SCOTUS nomination after the successful appointment of Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia.
Kennedy has long served as a swing vote on the court, sometimes siding with the progressive wing — as in the landmark gay marriage case, 2015's Obergefell v. Hodges — but often joining the conservatives on issues like gun control and campaign finance. Kennedy will turn 81 in July and has served on the court since 1988 after being nominated by President Reagan. Bonnie Kristian
The tiny Gulf nation of Qatar has rejected a list of 13 demands issued by Saudi Arabia and other neighboring Arab states Thursday as a condition for restoring diplomatic ties. The Saudi-led group of countries isolating Qatar claims the country is supporting terrorism, an allegation Qatar denies.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said in a statement the demands should have been "reasonable and actionable" as well as "measured and realistic," quoting comments from top U.S. and U.K. diplomats. "This list does not satisfy that [sic] criteria," he added.
It was never very plausible Qatar would answer other than it did. The "extent and scale of the demands appear designed to induce a rejection by Qatar," notes The Atlantic, "and a possible justification for a continuation, if not escalation, of the crisis. The list, if accurate, represents an intrusion into the internal affairs of Qatar that would threaten its very sovereignty." Bonnie Kristian
Former governor of California (and Terminator star) Arnold Schwarzenegger teamed up with new French President Emmanuel Macron to take a swipe at President Trump on environmental issues Friday.
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) June 23, 2017
"I'm here with President Macron. We are talking about the environmental issues and a green future," says Schwarzenegger in the clip posted to Facebook and Twitter. "And now we will deliberate together to make the planet great again," adds a grinning Macron with a transparent reference to Trump's "Make America great again" slogan.
The United States and China have reaffirmed their mutual commitment to "strive for the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Chinese state media agency Xinhua reported Saturday.
The statement comes after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis hosted Chinese diplomats in Washington in an attempt to reach consensus on how to deal with increasing provocation from Pyongyang. Tillerson indicated earlier this week he is asking China, which is North Korea's primary trading partner, to increase its political and economic pressure on the Kim Jong Un regime. Bonnie Kristian
Russian interference in the 2016 election "is really the political equivalent of 9/11 — it is deadly, deadly serious," said former Undersecretary of Defense Michael Vickers, who served in the Obama administration, in an NBC News interview Saturday. "The Russians will definitely be back, given the success they had," he added. "I don't see much evidence of a response."
Vickers' comments come one day after The Washington Post's comprehensive report detailing former President Obama's inaction in response to Russian election interference in 2016. President Trump and congressional Democrats have also criticized the Obama administration's "inadequate" response.
Builders misused a combustible cladding to cover the sides of London's Grenfell Tower, the apartment building where 79 people were killed in a massive fire last week, Reuters reported Saturday. The material was intended for buildings a maximum of 10 meters tall, about the height of firefighters' ladders; Grenfell was more than six times that height.
Email correspondence reveals the cladding manufacturer, Arconic, sold the siding knowing it would be used inappropriately. "While we publish general usage guidelines, regulations and codes vary by country and need to be determined by the local building code experts," Arconic said in a statement to Reuters pledging to "fully support the authorities as they investigate this tragedy."
British authorities are now reviewing other high-rises for combustible cladding, and at least four buildings have been evacuated. "I know it's difficult, but Grenfell changes everything and I just don't believe we can take any risk with our residents' safety," said Georgia Gould, leader of the Camden Council, which evacuated the four high-rises Friday. "I have to put them first." Bonnie Kristian