sad trombone
April 16, 2020

TikTok is bolstering restrictions for young users — AKA, basically everyone who's on it — and yes, that means even Charli D'Amelio is getting her style cramped by the Man. In addition to allowing parents more control over how their teens use the app, TikTok announced Thursday that it will disable direct messaging for everyone under the age of 16 beginning on April 30.

Fifteen-year-old D'Amelio doesn't turn 16 until the next day, May 1, reports Vulture, meaning she'll have to go a full 24 hours without any of her peers thirstily sliding into her DMs now that she's single. Jeva Lange

April 10, 2020

Japan is warning fans not to get their hopes up too high about watching the Olympics next year, NBC News reports. Speaking Friday, Tokyo organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto said, "I don't think anyone would be able to say if it is going to be possible to get [the pandemic] under control by next July or not" — suggesting that yes, there's once again a big question mark about if the summer Olympics are even going to happen.

The 2020 Olympics were already pushed back to 2021 last month over concerns about the coronavirus outbreak. Muto, though, downplayed guarantees of the rescheduled 2021 Games, saying "we're certainly not in a position to give you a clear answer."

When asked about if there was a plan B for the Olympics, Muto stressed that the athletic competition shouldn't be on the forefront of anyone's minds right now. "Rather than think about alternatives plans, we should put in all of our effort," he said. "Mankind should bring together all of its technology and wisdom to work hard so they can develop treatments, medicines, and vaccines." Jeva Lange

February 27, 2018

President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has lost his top-secret security clearance, being downgraded along with the rest of the White House aides working on interim highest-level clearances to the "Secret" level, Politico reports.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly moved Friday to revoke high-level access to classified information for White House employees whose background checks have been pending since before June 2017. Kushner had apparently been "resisting giving up his access to highly classified information," The New York Times reports. All aides with the interim highest-level clearances were informed of their statuses being downgraded Friday in a memo that was not signed by Kelly, Politico adds.

Trump could theoretically grant Kushner permanent security clearance himself, but he told reporters Friday: "I will let General Kelly make that decision." Kelly assured last week: "I have full confidence in [Kushner's] ability to continue performing his duties in his foreign policy portfolio including overseeing our Israeli-Palestinian peace effort and serving as an integral part of our relationship with Mexico."

Scrutiny over security clearances erupted earlier this month during the scandal over former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter. Porter apparently had been denied permanent access to highly classified information after the FBI had learned of domestic violence allegations against him leveled by his two ex-wives.

Kushner is reportedly being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of the ongoing Russia investigation. Jeva Lange

January 31, 2017

Throughout Donald Trump's presidential campaign, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was something of a man behind the curtain. After Trump won, Kushner and Ivanka Trump picked up from New York to move to Washington, D.C., where Kushner assumed a role as senior adviser. But "just 10 days in, [Kushner and Ivanka Trump are] starting to see signs that it might not work out well for their own ambitions," Vanity Fair reports.

...According to a source familiar with the situation, Kushner's influence on his boss may be flagging. Last week, Kushner spent 24 hours trying to broker a meeting between Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. The source said that Kushner was even considering flying to Mexico in order to convince Peña Nieto, who had butted heads with Trump over various issues, to travel to the White House. Ultimately, Peña Nieto agreed — a feat Kushner presented to his father-in-law on Wednesday night. It was his first real victory in the West Wing in his role as senior adviser, and it would be a major step toward turning one of Trump's main campaign promises into a reality.

Less than 12 hours later, though, it all fell apart. After Peña Nieto reiterated that Mexico does not plan to pay for Trump's proposed wall, Trump tweeted that if Mexico is "unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting." Just like that, the meeting was canceled. "Kushner was f--king furious," the source told me. "I'd never once heard him say he was angry throughout the entire campaign. But he was furious." (A representative for the Trump administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.) [Vanity Fair]

It's taking a physical toll on Kushner, too: "He had lost a noticeable amount of weight from his already slight frame in just a week," Vanity Fair adds. Read the entire story here. Jeva Lange

December 6, 2016

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is historically disliked, a Quinnipiac University Poll released Tuesday has found. The Republican governor is disapproved of by New Jersey voters 77 percent to 19 percent, the lowest rating recorded for any governor in Quinnipiac's more than 20 years of polling.

"How the mighty have fallen," assistant poll director Maurice Carroll wrote. "Remember four years ago, when Republican leaders were pleading with … Christie to run for president and he looked like a sure thing for reelection — which he was?" Christie's national stock took a huge hit in late 2013, when his aides were found to have closed off access to the George Washington Bridge in an apparent attempt at retaliating against a political foe.

Voters said 71 to 22 percent that Christie knew his aides were causing "Bridgegate," with 48-43 saying he personally ordered the 2013 fiasco. Christie recorded negative ratings from every party, gender, race, or age group measured. Democrats held the lowest opinion of the governor, with only 9 percent approving of him and 90 percent disapproving.

While Christie once had presidential hopes, and then hoped to join President-elect Donald Trump's administration after losing to Trump in the Republican primary, New Jersey voters agree 69 percent to 24 percent that their governor should not be offered a position in the White House. "The [governor]'s job approval numbers get worse every time anyone looks. The last time we looked, May 18, he had a 64-29 percent disapproval rating," Carroll said. "This could be a long final year for Gov. Christie."

The survey was conducted between Nov. 28 and Dec. 4, reaching 1,218 voters in the Garden State by phone. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percent. Jeva Lange

November 23, 2016

Bargain hunters just aren't feeling the same sense of urgency around Black Friday this year. Only 23 percent of U.S. adults say they plan to visit stores on the country's biggest shopping day, Bankrate reports. Those that do venture out, though, are expected to spend more than ever, with median spending at $300 this year, up from $200 in 2014, Fortune writes. Holiday sales are expected to increase by 4.7 percent.

Many other shoppers are focused on online deals, or have been purchasing gifts throughout the month. "Two years ago, Black Friday was one day. Last year it was a week-long event. This year it's been a month-long event,” said Shelley Kohan, vice president of retail consulting at RetailNext. "A lot of Black Friday deals are already out there. They've been out there since the beginning of the month." Jeva Lange

September 14, 2016

Hillary Clinton's newest book is a certifiable flop by the publishing industry's standards, The New York Times reports. Stronger Together sold only 2,912 copies in its first week of sales according to Nielsen BookScan, which charts about 80 percent of nationwide physical book sales. By comparison, Clinton's 2014 memoir Hard Choices, which also didn't meet expectations, sold over 85,000 copies in its first week, and Clinton's 2003 memoir, Living History, sold six times as many copies as Hard Choices.

Stronger Together is co-authored by Clinton's running mate, Tim Kaine, and "presents [their] agenda in full, relating stories from the American people and outlining the Clinton/Kaine campaign's plans on everything from apprenticeships to the Zika virus," the Amazon description says. One Amazon reviewer remarked that Stronger Together was "far more interesting than I'd thought this book would be," giving it five stars. Most negative reviews were about the candidate, and not the book itself.

To promote the book, Clinton will "do a series of Stronger Together speeches over the course of the next several weeks," said campaign spokesman Jennifer Palmieri. Jeva Lange

August 11, 2016

Are you watching the Summer Olympics? Because NBC is beginning to worry that you aren't; in a year the network had hoped would blow the London 2012 ratings out of the water, NBC is experiencing quite the letdown with Rio viewership:

NBC's performance stumbled early: Viewership for Friday's opening ceremony fell 35 percent compared with four years ago, followed by a 28 percent tumble in the first day of competition. Although NBC has done better since, the average audience of 28.6 million after five days is down nearly 20 percent from the 35.6 million who were watching the London Games.

And viewership among people ages 18 to 34 has fallen 32 percent. [The New York Times]

For a year that features the return of superstars like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, this news should all be causing some nervousness over at NBC. But the company believes that it knows where its primetime viewers are going — cable channels, Bravo and NBCSN, and online.

"The Olympics are not immune to the tectonic changes in consumer media behavior," Alan Wurtzel, the president of research and media development at NBCUniversal, told The New York Times. Jeva Lange

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