Governments Finally Embrace the Sharing Economy

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On a predecided day in August, tens of thousands of Uber drivers across Australia refused to pick up passengers, protesting the company’s wage regulations, which don’t account for traffic snarls and waiting times. But in the city of Boroondara, in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, there was a much less contentious example of the sharing economy playing out — fully supported by the local government. The affluent, elderly town, which has Australia’s largest number of single-occupancy dwellings, was opening its doors for home- and food-sharing projects, in the hope of fighting loneliness by attracting cash-strapped Melbourne millennials.

This was a reversal of roles — a government facilitating the sharing economy even as a firm synonymous with it was struggling. For years, governments around the world have mostly viewed the disruptive nature of the sharing economy with skepticism. Some cities have banned ride-sharing apps. Others have tried to regulate or discourage home-sharing platforms. Now, that’s changing. More and more governments at the city, state and national levels are dumping their initial reticence and embracing the sharing economy, reshaping what this experience and the affected industries could look like in the coming years.

The first city to comprehensively adopt the sharing economy was Seoul, South Korea’s capital. In 2012, mayor Park Won-soon launched the Sharing City Seoul project, directing the Seoul Metropolitan Government to provide administrative support, consulting, promotions and financial aid to his city’s nascent sharing economy. Incubators came up. The number of sharing businesses and organizations nearly doubled from 37 in 2013 to 70 in 2016, with the help of more than $6 million in subsidies. They’re not always reinventing the wheel, just building them smarter than before. Playplanet, for instance, takes the already disrupted home-rental space and disrupts it further. A green Airbnb of sorts, it connects travelers with eco-friendly hosts. Others are catching on.

The [Seoul] local government is playing a really crucial role [in fostering the sharing economy].

Monica Bernardi, University of Milano-Bicocca.

In 2016, the U.K. enacted a sharing economy tax allowance and Rent a Room tax relief after commissioning a review of barriers to the market a couple of years earlier. Eight federal Chinese departments in July 2017 announced plans to liberalize regulations on the sharing economy, saying in a statement that “we should avoid using the old method to regulate a new format of business.” China has set up a government-backed commission to explore growth opportunities for the sector. San Francisco in 2014 created an urban agriculture incentive zone that provides tax breaks for city farmers pursuing some community farming. Sweden in August 2017 launched its Sharing Cities project to turn the cities of Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö and Umeå into laboratories for innovation in the sharing economy. Gothenburg and Malmö have opened up city assets, like buildings, to the public, and are supporting bike kitchens and providing tool shops.

For some, like Gothenburg and Malmö, the adoption of the sharing economy is aimed at lowering the environmental impacts of consumption and fostering socialization, especially as the cities take in a growing number of refugees. Others, like China, have seen the economic potential of this industry, predicted to contribute 20 percent of the country’s GDP by 2025, according to its state council. And for others, like Boroondara in Australia, it’s a way for an aged community to survive, by taking up something often associated with millennials.

“It’s the older residents who are the big supporters of sharing in that community,” says Darren Sharp, director of consulting firm Social Surplus, who helped to promote the program in the city of Boroondara.

 

In some ways, the softening of governments to the sharing economy isn’t surprising. As the sharing economy grows, the digital platforms used to connect people may soon be viewed by users more as public infrastructure they don’t expect to pay for, says Karin Bradley, a professor at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Governments can’t afford to ignore infrastructure used by millions of people.

But for many years, governments almost instinctively appeared to treat the sharing economy with suspicion. Amsterdam in 2013 and New York in 2016 imposed tough regulations on Airbnb. Uber was temporarily barred in New Delhi in 2014 and in London in 2017 over safety concerns. Bulgaria and Hungary banned Uber in 2015, and Turkey in 2017. In the U.S., Illinois and Georgia bar its government employees from using Airbnb while on official travel.

Some of these restrictions have remained in place, while others have lifted bans. In many cases, governments introduced bans in response to pressure groups and taxi unions disadvantaged by the disruption brought by the sharing economy. And the sharing economy can come with drawbacks. Some of China’s bike-sharing companies, for instance, regularly collect and sell users’ data to the highest bidder. Bad sharers — say a commuter who doesn’t return his bike — might even get a ding on some future social credit score.

Still, there’s growing acknowledgment among governments that it makes more sense to join — and where possible mold — the sharing economy instead of fighting it. One strategy that many are adopting is to support their own “homegrown sharing ecosystem,” to maintain some control, and to keep the benefits local. Locally devised tools can also better target specific needs.

In Gothenburg, a publicly run website hosts a “Smart Map” to show free areas of exchange around the city, “promoting access rather than ownership.” This has helped asylum-seekers in the country, says Bradley. “These open spaces and noncommercial spaces are very beneficial for newly arrived people and also for people with little economic resources,” she says.

Seoul’s near-obsessive emphasis on taking input from its residents defines its approach. There’s even a giant ear sculpture outside of Seoul’s City Hall, where citizens can whisper complaints. The city’s sharing ecosystem includes Kozaza, a shared housing company with a focus on travelers staying at traditional Korean hanok homes, a car-sharing company called SOCAR and a children’s clothing swap, Kiple, among dozens more. Even though it is a state-run program, it has a “bottom-up approach,” says Monica Bernardi, an urban sociologist at the University of Milano-Bicocca, who has studied Seoul’s sharing economy. “The local government is playing a really crucial role,” she says. “It’s not just for the economic development that they are doing all these things, but for helping people to reconnect to each other.” Looking ahead, she expects Seoul to double down on those initiatives that focus on social benefits.

And China, with its otherwise restrictive government, is fast emerging as a global leader in the sharing economy. It saw $500 billion worth of transactions by around 600 million people in 2016. China has more than 40 bike-sharing companies, with the two largest — Mobike and Ofo — providing more than 50 million rides a day.

For these governments, the sharing economy is no longer a beast to control. It’s increasingly their go-to fix to find solutions to society’s challenges.

Bavaria Falls in Love With the Greens

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Katharina Schulze is not your typical Bavarian politician: She is neither male nor old nor conservative, and when she raises her 1-liter beer mug to the crowd, it is usually filled with Spezi, a sickly-sweet blend of soda and orangeade. 

Schulze, 33, is the co-leader of the Bavarian Green party, and the woman at the center of a remarkable political surge. According to recent polls, the Greens are on course to win 18 percent of the vote in next month’s regional election, more than doubling their result from five years ago. If confirmed, the result would make the left-wing environmental party the second largest in Bavaria, a conservative bastion where the Christian Social Union (CSU) — the sister party of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats — has dominated politics for decades.

With Germany’s center-left Social Democrats still mired in crisis, the Greens’ expected advance has fueled speculation over a broader changing of the guard. In some parts of Germany, notably in big cities and in the prosperous south, the Greens have eclipsed the Social Democratic Party as the largest left-of-center political force. At the national level the gap between the two has narrowed markedly.

We Greens stand by the things we have always been saying.

Katharina Schulze, co-leader, Bavarian Green party 

According to Schulze and other Green leaders, the party has benefited from making a contrarian political bet: While rival parties on the left and right echo popular concerns about migration and national identity, the Greens remain firm advocates of open borders, help for refugees and deeper European integration. For German voters who share those views, they have become an obvious and increasingly appealing political vehicle.

“Voters notice that the other parties are zigzagging and speaking differently from one day to the other. We Greens stand by the things we have always been saying,” says Schulze.

In some ways, she argues, the Green surge is the flip side of the recent electoral success of the far-right Alternative for Germany: “The political division in the country is no longer just between left and right but also between liberal democrats who are open to the world on one side and the authoritarian, anti-European stream on the other. We belong clearly to the first.”

 

On migration, the Greens argue that Germans — and Bavarians in particular — should be proud of their record during the 2015–16 refugee crisis, when the country took in more than a million migrants from Syria, Iraq and other crisis countries. “This is one reason why the CSU is falling on its face here in Bavaria with its anti-migration rhetoric,” says Ludwig Hartmann, the other co-leader of the Bavarian Greens. “Things have actually worked out quite well.”

According to Hartmann and Schulze, the Greens are winning support from a variety of political camps: Christians repelled by the CSU’s increasingly strident rhetoric on migration; Social Democrats disgruntled that their party joined the right-leaning government coalition in Berlin; and disappointed liberal voters of the centrist Free Democrats, who welcome the Greens’ campaign against a law granting sweeping new powers to Bavaria’s police.

“Five years ago it was relatively easy to draw a picture of the typical Green voter. Today, I arrive at a campaign event and I recognize the people from the local Green branch and the people from the environmental groups. But who are all the others?” asks Hartmann.

The party’s broadening appeal was visible at a recent campaign event in the small town of Holzkirchen, south of Munich. Over beer and käsespätzle — cheese noodles — about 100 locals gathered upstairs at the Alte Post inn to hear Schulze deliver her idiosyncratic political messages. They ranged from fighting the far right to saving the bees — sprinkled with repeated references to “my Bavaria” and “our beautiful Bavaria.”

In other parts of Germany, such expressions of regional pride might sit awkwardly with a Green leader. In Bavaria, however, the party has long tried to represent an alternative but authentic vision of regional identity that blends progressive politics with a desire to preserve Bavaria’s natural attractions. “For us in Bavaria, the term heimat [homeland] has always been an alternative battle cry against the CSU,” says Anton Hofreiter, the leader of the Greens in the German Parliament, and another Bavarian. “For us, it was the CSU that was destroying our heimat by trying to encase the Danube in concrete, building airport runways and so on.”

Jürgen Falter, a professor of politics at Mainz University, says voters in Bavaria had come to regard the Greens, not the Social Democrats, as the real alternative to the ruling CSU. “The Greens appear to have put down real roots in Bavaria, unlike the SPD. They can show up at the Oktoberfest in dirndl and lederhosen and still look credible,” he says.

Just how compatible the two visions of Bavaria are will be tested after Election Day — when the CSU is likely to have to find a coalition partner to form a government. The Greens say they are ready to take on the responsibility but only if regional premier Markus Söder and his CSU make clear that they too stand for a tolerant, pro-European course.

The political risks of such an alliance for both sides are clear, but Green leaders such as Hofreiter are convinced that the broader surge enjoyed by his party will continue: “I see us becoming the leading force on the center-left in Germany,” he says.

Does No-No-No-Yes-No Still Mean No?

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#MeToo Miseries

EUGENE, SIR: First, let me say I’m totally down with the #MeToo movement. But when men and women are alone, things can get strange. I was having sex with a woman. In the middle, she said to stop. I stopped. She asked to go again, and we did until she said to stop again. So I stop again. This goes on several more times over about 30 minutes. I stop each time.

Right as I am about to orgasm though, she says to stop again, and this time I can’t. She refused to see me again after that, and I heard from friends she’s been going down that #MeToo road talking about it. This is beyond fucked and not at all what happened here. I think she was trying to delay either her orgasm or mine, but after 30 minutes and getting that close, I couldn’t stop. I mean, it happens. But now I got this hanging on me. I understand all of that “believe the woman” stuff, but women are still people, and I’d never say that people don’t lie because they do. I emailed her that I thought she was a POS and am hoping that’s that. But how was I supposed to deal with this? — LAMF

Dear Like a Mother’s Friend?: Firstly, and this is something I could probably safely and healthily file under “Never,” do not EVER call someone a Piece of Shit and then hope things work out. That’s a bit of amateur-level madness closely akin to poking a bear and hoping things work out. They probably won’t.

But your problem: There is always the possibility when you’re shooting come-hither looks across a crowded bar, or flirtatious chatter over too-loud techno or whilst swiping right, that the person you’re making unspoken naked plans with for later is totally batshit-crazy. Now, I know it doesn’t help anyone to throw around words like “crazy,” but in this instance, the meaning remains: not liable to do things that cohere to what many of us would consider reasonable behavior.

Like? Like stopping sex in the middle of having sex. Now, there might have been a good reason for this, and were I to have been you, I might have inquired after the second or third time as to what was clearly a thing. But your first mistake? You did not. If we’re eating dinner together and I stopped you just as often, I would guess that you might ask what the hell I was doing. She should have been extended a similar courtesy to explain. If she demurred, well then, that’s another story. 

You don’t know why she was stopping, so you can’t really give her shit for stopping. That being said, despite the fact that you hung in there for 30 minutes when wiser people would have bailed, it should be understood that if you’re falling and someone asks you mid-fall to stop falling, you might have a hard time doing so. I am going to have to assume that this is what happened when you failed to stop mid-orgasm.

To characterize this as some sort of actionable offense might be off the money, but then the gift you should have gladly received was her willingness to never see you again. Sans the Piece of Shit blast. How to keep this from happening in the future? Choose much more carefully, grasshopper. Choose MUCH more carefully.

 

Antidepressant Agita

EUGENE, SIR: You act like it’s a joke, but the SSRI class of antidepressants does mess with sex drive and orgasms. There other antidepressants, such as Wellbutrin, that don’t really cause that problem. Perhaps those affected people should talk to the right doctor! — Al Sayles, M.D.

Dear Dr. Sayles: I did by no stretch make fun of the writer’s plight in a past column, and as I often make clear, if you have a choice between following MY advice and the advice of a licensed medical professional, you’d be better off with the latter, not the former. That being said, while I might prescribe more sex to counter depression, it is a bitter paradox that the other medical, and costly, methods of dealing with depression make that harder to do. But thanks for the Wellbutrin tip. 

The Continuing Coital Complaint

EUGENE, SIR: Why are men so bad in bed? I’ve slept with both men and women, and while I really like penis, I would like it better if I met a man who knew how to use it. If women with dildos are better than men with penises, what does that tell you? And yes, I am very much talking about time invested in “the act.” At this point, when I am having sex with men, I am just waiting for them to fail, and since I don’t want to drop them completely, what’s the best way to “educate without emasculating”? — Holly

Dear Ms. Jolly: If I wanted to know how to play the piano, I wouldn’t ask a bricklayer. And if I wanted to lay bricks, I wouldn’t ask a dental technician. So your first question is the wrong one for the wrong person. Moreover, I don’t really believe it to be a question in search of an answer. But the second one? Totally answerable, because while I’d spend less time worrying about either educating or emasculating, I would spend more time, were I you, in selfishly pursuing your own ends.

Humans are, for the most part, not able to read each other’s minds. But there is nonverbal learning as evidenced by the fact that no one talked most of us through walking, and yet we walk. So let your inner dom flow. I suspect you might do this more readily with women because women won’t get their backs up in the face of “suggestions” on how to improve the evening. I suspect you need to do this more readily with men because it’d be a shock to most men that there could be any room for improvement with their “technique.”

And that’s part of the problem: Being good is not a fixed state of being but rather the ability to tailor your act to your audience. Don’t wait for them to figure this out. I mean, if you can help, why not help? Not as sexy as finding someone who just gets it from the outset, but working is not as sexy as winning the lottery and yet we do. Good luck.

Ambassador Nikki Haley: Your Party and Country Need You

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Update: On October 9, Haley announced she will leave her post at the end of the year, though she said she is not running in 2020 and vowed to campaign for President Trump.

While all eyes of the international community were on President Donald Trump at the United Nations General Assembly this week, many political observers were keenly watching U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. With less than six weeks to go before the midterm elections on Nov. 6, the 2020 Republican primary talk will soon get underway. Many are wondering whether there’s a viable alternative to Trump if he decides to seek re-election. And if not, the GOP will need a nominee who can start to unite the Republican Party.

Currently, Trump’s favorability numbers are hovering around 40 percent, and given the likelihood that Democrats will win the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, the president could very well be looking at impeachment hearings, investigations into his taxes and business practices, as well as subpoenas by the Oversight Committee. And, of course, there’s special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, which is likely to lower the president’s numbers even more. So you can see why many are starting to say the president may not even run. 

Republicans need a candidate who can bring dignity and respect back to the White House.

Whether or not the president seeks re-election, many Republicans, including me, are looking for a candidate who can take on Trump or be ready to hit the ground running should Trump opt not to run in 2020. The damage this president has done to the Republican Party is tremendous. In addition to his tweets, he has sought to divide our country by offending minorities and women — think travel ban, Charlottesville, Roy Moore and child separations at the border, to name just a few. Our nation’s standing with our allies is on life support, and he continues to compliment enemies. Trump recently tweeted, “Despite requests, I have no plans to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Maybe someday in the future. I am sure he is an absolutely lovely man!”

Republicans need a candidate who can bring dignity and respect back to the White House, and who can competently lead our country both home and abroad. Republicans need Nikki Haley.

It would be easy for skeptics to say that Republicans want to see a woman at the top of the ticket, given the low approval ratings of the Republican Party among women. But that’s not why we should support a candidate Haley.

 

Haley was a very successful governor of South Carolina, has gained tremendous experience in foreign affairs and is fiscally conservative. And, most of all, she has tremendous skills in diplomacy, both foreign and domestic. 

Based in New York, Haley has stayed out of the quagmire of Washington’s swamp. She has managed her relationship with the president with more guile and shrewdness than any of her colleagues. And, she has remained true to her values by articulating her point of view without resulting in a public rebuke from the president.

In April of this year, Haley appeared on Face the Nation, and she said that there would soon be new sanctions directed at companies linked to Syria’s chemical weapons program. Soon after, Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, attempted to walk back that announcement, suggesting Ambassador Haley suffered from “momentary confusion.” The ambassador’s response was pitch-perfect: “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”

With one sentence, she showed the country, and the world, that she was tough, restrained and not afraid to speak up for herself. And that was hardly the only example.

After the violence in Charlottesville, the ambassador referred to the “horrible acts” and wrote in an email, obtained by CNN, that “we must denounce them at every turn, and make them feel like they are on an island and isolate them the same way they wish to isolate others.” When asked if she discussed it with the president, she simply replied that she had a “personal conversation” with him and would “leave it at that.”

There is also space for those who support Trump’s policies but do not care for the president’s temperament. Haley has often said that she has a good relationship with the president, and she demonstrated her loyalty on Sept. 7 in a Washington Post op-ed in which she strongly disagreed with the claims in the anonymous “resistance” op-ed published by the New York Times.

If the Republican Party has a chance of getting its soul and reputation back, it will be with the nomination of Nikki Haley. And it wouldn’t be disloyal, as some will claim; it would show that she is putting country first. And when Trump attacks her, as he did during the 2016 Republican primary, I suggest she reply the way she did back then: “Bless your heart.”

This Running Back Is the NFL’s Most Productive Player … Ever

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On a play just before halftime of the New Orleans Saints’ Week 1 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara is split out wide as a receiver. He breaks back to the formation suddenly as quarterback Drew Brees hits him for a short reception five yards past the line of scrimmage. Using his trademark elusiveness, however, Kamara weaves past defenders and turns the play into a 23-yard gain before he’s finally brought down. The Bucs defenders simply seem powerless to stop him. 

The Saints may have lost that game, but they did so despite Kamara, who is proving as effective in his sophomore season as he was in his rookie year. The NFL is in the midst of an offensive renaissance, with more and more teams going to spread-style formations that allow pass catchers to put up numbers that would have once been thought impossible. And this brave new passing world isn’t exclusive to wide receivers and tight ends. In fact, it’s a running back — Kamara — who sits atop the ranks of the NFL’s most productive players.

Kamara’s 7.7 yards per touch on average in 2017 is the best single-season mark ever set among all NFL positions.

Among all NFL players who have amassed at least 200 touches in a single season, Kamara blew everyone away in 2017, with 1,554 total yards on 120 carries and 81 receptions. Not only was he one of the league’s more productive runners, ranking second among all halfbacks with 6.1 yards per attempt, but he was the most efficient receiver out of the backfield, averaging 10.2 yards per reception.

How does he do it? “He has the speed and quickness, which is apparent, but what really makes him unique is he has exceptional balance, which makes him very difficult to tackle,” says NFL analyst Andy Benoit of the MMQB. That elusiveness was what undid the Bucs defenders on the play in Week 1.

 

It’s that versatility — threatening through the air and on the ground — that has elevated Kamara to this lofty position. It’s also a function of how he was able to achieve this milestone at all. No pure receiver has ever reached 200 touches in a single season; the Indianapolis Colts’ Marvin Harrison came closest in 2002, when he amassed 143 receptions that year. The NFL’s most productive player, then, was always bound to be a dual-threat running back — but none of them has ever had a season like Kamara’s.

And no one may again for a long, long time. The last time an NFL player was this productive was in 1965, when Philadelphia’s Timmy Brown averaged 7.4 yards per touch.

To be sure, even Kamara himself could struggle to approach his own mark this season. Last year, he was part of a one-two punch in the backfield with Mark Ingram, who sat out the first four games of the Saints’ season to serve a suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

“It’s much harder to be hyperefficient on a big workload,” says Pro Football Focus senior fantasy analyst Scott Barrett, who suggests Kamara’s efficiency from last year is unsustainable.

And yet, even with Ingram out through the first quarter of this season, the Saints have not backed down on their usage of Kamara. Heading into Week 4, he’s amassed the most receiving yards of any halfback, with 289. And he’s easily leading all running backs in targets per game, with 12.7.

“When you watch [the Saints’] scripted plays, typically their first 15 of the game, Kamara usually touches the ball on about half of them, which is an incredibly high number,” explains Benoit. New Orleans clearly sees Kamara as the centerpiece of its offense. But it would be surprising for that trend to continue. “I don’t know if he’s someone you want touching the ball 25 times a game,” Benoit says. “My guess is they don’t know that yet either.” 

Can anyone top Kamara’s 7.7 yards per touch figure from 2017? At this point, it seems the only player even capable of coming close … is him.

Remembering the Pregnant Teen Renegade of Martinique

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For France and many of its former overseas colonies, Joan of Arc is the ultimate national heroine — the young woman who stepped out of nowhere and, armed mostly with the white-hot fire of belief, led her people to victory and freedom. But Martinique has another heroine, who stepped out of the bayou armed with the white-hot fire of … well, fire: Lumina Sophie dite Surprise.   

Lumina is remembered, when she is remembered, as one of the leaders of her island’s 1870 insurrection. Perhaps it’s harder for France to idealize her story, seeing as European colonists are the villains in it. Or maybe racism persists in French culture — as evidenced by protests when a mixed-race teenager was chosen earlier this year to portray Joan of Arc at an annual pageant. 

“For me, she was like a Creole Joan of Arc,” says Suzanne Dracius, who authored a play about Lumina’s life after an account of the 1870 insurrection found its way to her from a bookseller’s stall by the Seine. “There are so many similarities between them: young women who left their serene little universes to put themselves in danger and fight. But there are differences: Lumina was pregnant. And Lumina read newspapers.” But when Dracius visited a history museum in Martinique, Lumina’s name was barely mentioned. Dracius’ 2005 play, Lumina Sophie dite Surprise, revitalized interest in her as a heroine. Now there are songs by local artists about Lumina, as well as a high-rise and a high school named after her.

Lumina organized a group of Pétroleuses — female insurrectionists who shared a name with the legendary fighting women of the Paris Commune just months earlier. 

Nicknames were common in Martinique in the immediate aftermath of slavery, reflecting a racist tradition where slaves were given only first names and numbers, and Lumina’s has become part of her moniker in modern times — all one phrase tumbling out, Lumina Sophie dite Surprise: Light, Wisdom, called Surprise. It would be difficult to be more on the nose, unless you were to add something equally mellifluous that means an “ahead-of-her-time renegade who wasn’t afraid to literally burn shit down.” 

But back to Martinique. The tiny island had been mapped by Christopher Columbus and then colonized in the 17th century by French settlers; just a few decades later, the first slaves were brought to the island to work on sugar plantations. Power over the island passed between France and Britain for hundreds of years as the two nations battled at home and abroad. The French were still in charge when slavery was abolished on the island in 1848, the same year that Lumina was born, on Nov. 9 in the town of Rivière-Pilote. Her birth was recorded in the local register as Marie-Philomène Roptus, and scant details about her early life indicate that her mother became head of the family when Lumina was 6. At a time when former slaves had no access to formal education, she was also literate, with a penchant for reading newspapers and keeping up with politics. By the age of 21, known for her independent streak, Lumina was working as a seamstress and a merchant — and living with Emile Sidney, a man whose family had been free Black people even before the abolition of slavery on the island. Well-informed but raised in rural poverty, she was in a prime position to understand and protest inequality in Martinique. 

 

Lumina’s revolution lasted only five days. It began when a Black sailor was jailed over a minor altercation with a European man; tensions escalated until the whole region erupted on Sept. 22, 1870. Lumina was then two months pregnant by Sidney, a leader of the revolution who, along with several of his comrades, mysteriously disappeared.

Undeterred, Lumina organized a group of Pétroleuses — female insurrectionists who shared a name with the legendary fighting women of the Paris Commune just months earlier — in torching plantations where their ancestors had worked as slaves, and where Black islanders were then shackled by unfair work contracts aimed at keeping them in economic bondage. On Sept. 26, she was arrested and imprisoned, identified by the governor as the “flame of the revolt.” When her trial finally began the following spring, the first inquest lasted an entire month and a few of the charges against her were dropped. Weeks later, her baby, Théodore Lumina, was born in prison and separated from her immediately, dying just 14 months later.

At the end of May, the trial resumed, conducted entirely in French even though Lumina spoke only Creole. On charges of revolt, blasphemy and burning three homes, she was sentenced to life with hard labor and sent to a prison in Guyana, where she died eight years later at the age of 31, reportedly of exhaustion. After that, according to Dracius, she was all but forgotten in Martinique — outside of folk legend — for more than a century, until media interest rekindled national pride in a woman who may not have been White or a teenage virgin like Joan of Arc but was just as ready to sacrifice herself for a cause she believed in.

10 Weekend Treats — the OZY Highlight Reel

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It’s been a compelling and emotional week in the news, with two key events in the #MeToo movement: the sentencing of Bill Cosby for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, and Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee about an alleged sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

In other news, the world came to New York City this week for the United Nations General Assembly, where we learned that North Korea is President Trump’s friend, but Canada is not. Trump also elicited laughter from global leaders when he boasted about his historical accomplishments in office.

Now that the weekend has arrived, it’s time to relax and settle in with some great reading. Here are 10 of our favorite stories on OZY this week.

No. 1: Beyond Black Girl Magic: The Power of 4 Black Women, and How Obama Told Them Race Didn’t Matter

The new memoir For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics reveals hard truths about the Democratic Party and tips for those trying to rise up.
Why You Should Care: Because African-American women are flexing new muscle in American politics.

Much more >>

No. 2: Posh Choc: The British Banker Giving French Bonbons an African Makeover

This is what happens when you infuse artful confections with intense fillings.
Why You Should Care: Because sweet things can come from swapping investment banking for chocolate.

Much more >>

No. 3: In the Spotlight: What Gandhi’s Wife Taught Him About Nonviolent Resistance

Mahatma Gandhi revolutionized the tactics of nonviolent protest, and one of his first lessons in its power came from his own home.
Why You Should Care: Because nonviolence, like charity, begins at home.

Much more >>

No. 4: Green Light: The Stoplight Battling to End Poverty

This self-evaluation tool is helping families in 30 countries pull themselves out of poverty and offering organizations insight into their efficacy.
Why You Should Care: Ranking their own situation red, green or amber gives families the agency to help themselves. 

Much more >>

 

No. 5: Flashback: The Sordid and Dangerous History of Hazing

Hazing in higher education has a long and not-so-illustrious history. 
Why You Should Care: Because never in the field of higher education have so many died so pointlessly for so little.

Much more >>

No. 6: Meet: The Pit Bull Lover Fighting Trump’s Battles on Capitol Hill

White House Director of Legislative Affairs Shahira Knight is always juggling several crises at once. A Democratic Congress would push her into overtime.
Why You Should Care: She’s the fulcrum for Trump getting his legislative vision accomplished.

Much more >>

No. 7: Need to Know: The Cardinals Shook Up Their Staff. Now They’re Shaking Up Baseball

St. Louis’ recent success has turned heads around the league, and its methods may soon be replicated. 
Why You Should Care: Because baseball is a sport that begs to be quantified.

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No. 8: This Guy: The Paramilitary Leader Who Still Lives With His Mom

Andrej Šiško drew global attention with his military drills. Who is this far-right leader in Melania Trump’s homeland?
Why You Should Care: Europe could be seeing another hard shift to the right in Slovenia.

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No. 9: Good Sh*t: These Spoons Lick the Plate for You. Seriously

These self-saucing and licking spoons are designed to make you rethink the way you bring food to your mouth.
Why You Should Care: Because it will make you question how you eat.

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No. 10: True Story: When I Was Raped

While time might minimize the sting of a lot of life’s miseries, not so much so for a high school rape, which for one lawyer still lingers.
Why You Should Care: Because you might forget a lot of things, but not this.

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Special Briefing: Why China and Sweden Are Quarreling

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This is an OZY Special Briefing, an extension of the Presidential Daily Brief. The Special Briefing tells you what you need to know about an important issue, individual or story that is making news. Each one serves up an interesting selection of facts, opinions, images and videos in order to catch you up and vault you ahead.

WHAT TO KNOW

What happened? Swedes may be known for avoiding conflict, but they’re in the thick of one now with China. The diplomatic spat stemmed from a call made to police by a Swedish hostel about three Chinese tourists who turned up in the early morning hours — long before their reservation was valid — and tried to stay in the lobby overnight. In an incident captured on video, the tourists threw themselves to the ground, claiming to be sick and screaming “This is killing!” Though the video does not show any police brutality, they made a complaint to the police, and the Chinese Embassy charged that the tourists had been subjected to “brutal abuse.” Swedish police, meanwhile, say an investigation found that officers didn’t commit any crimes. 

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Swedish satirical show Svenska Nyheter

Source Svenska Nyheter

Is that all? Things escalated last week when Swedish satirical show Svenska Nyheter picked up a video of the incident and satirized it with a sketch propagating stereotypes about Chinese tourists, including that they eat dogs and defecate in public. The skit was dubbed in Mandarin and posted on Chinese video site YouKu, attracting a lot of attention — something a spokesperson for Swedish national broadcaster SVT now says was a mistake, though the program director has refused to apologize. 

Why does it matter? The initial video got millions of views and mixed reactions: Some criticized the police while others condemned the “dramatic” tourists. But the sketch has caused more fallout — and perhaps allowed China an excuse to punish Sweden for larger underlying diplomatic issues. 

HOW TO THINK ABOUT IT 

Hit ‘em where it hurts. The hashtag #SwedishTVShowInsultsChinesePeople was started on Sina Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, along with calls for boycotts of Sweden and Swedish companies like IKEA and Volvo (which is actually now a subsidiary of a Chinese automaker). The Swedish Foreign Ministry cited freedom of expression and gave no further comment, but the program manager from SVT — not the program director — apologized on his own blog, explaining that the sketch’s intent was “anti-racist.”

Keep your friends close. Sweden was the first Western country to establish official diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China in 1950 and among the first to sign bilateral economic agreements with the country 20 years later. Now, hundreds of Swedish companies are operating in China, and thousands more do business there. But closer economic ties mean a diplomatic spat could be more costly, and some — including Svenska Nyheter — have pointed out that Sweden’s government may be more malleable in the face of Chinese aggression owing to its business interests. Chinese tourism to Stockholm rose 74 percent between 2011 and 2016. 

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Placards showing missing bookseller Lee Bo (L) and his associate Gui Minhai (R) are seen left by members of the Civic party outside the China liaison office in Hong Kong on January 19, 2016. China has confirmed that a missing Hong Kong-based bookseller, one of five men whose disappearance fuelled fears of an erosion of the city’s freedoms, is on the mainland, the city’s government said.

Source PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty

Keep your enemies closer. Recent relations between the two countries have been anything but smooth. In January, Gui Minhai, a Hong Kong book publisher with Swedish citizenship, was seized by Chinese authorities while on a train to Beijing in the company of Swedish diplomats. He had only recently been released in 2017 from Chinese detention after having disappeared in 2015. Now he’s back in custody, despite protests from Sweden. Earlier this month, the Dalai Lama visited the Swedish city of Malmö, which added to diplomatic tensions between the two nations. 

Not only trouble in the north. While Sweden and China’s spat heats up, Europe as a whole may be ready for a pushback against China’s influence on the continent. A number of European countries are looking twice at Chinese foreign direct investment, which is now around nine times greater in Europe than in the U.S. More serious diplomatic conflicts with China and European states may be just around the corner.

WHAT TO READ 

Could one Chinese family’s night in Stockholm send a chill through the Swedish economy? by Phoebe Zhang at South China Morning Post

“Even if China takes no official action, public sentiment can land punches.”

Swedish broadcaster: Satirical China sketch ‘misunderstood,’ by David Keyton at Associated Press

“The Swedish broadcaster said its sketch aimed to comment satirically and humorously, and to highlight ’Sinophobia’ in Sweden.”

WHAT TO WATCH

Chinese Tourists Claim Mistreatment by Swedish Police

“When they refused to leave, [hostel] staff called police…” 

Watch on South China Morning Post on YouTube:

Swedish Comedy Show: “Sinophobia is Not OK.” 

“Because Swedes hate racism as long as we are not talking about the Chinese.” 

Watch on SVT Humor on YouTube:

WHAT TO SAY AT THE WATER COOLER 

Meddling mystery. Even before President Donald Trump recently claimed (without citing evidence) that China is meddling in upcoming U.S. elections — a charge China called “slander” — China took the initiative to defend itself against similar charges relating to Sweden’s recent ballot. A week before the hostage incident, the Chinese embassy released a statement claiming that “Swedish forces, media and individuals have made unwarranted claims that ‘China may have interfered in the Swedish election,’” denying any meddling. But, say Swedish academics, no such claim was made by Swedish authorities or the media.

Man in the Mirror: Here’s Why Trump Stands by Kavanaugh

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On October 7, 2016, after The Washington Post made public a tape in which Donald Trump bragged about grabbing women by the genitals, he gathered top advisers in Trump Tower and went around the room asking for advice. Republicans, already wary of him, were jumping ship in droves. Then-Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus gave a grim account: “You have two choices. You either drop out right now, or you lose by the biggest landslide in American political history.” A ticket of Mike Pence and Condoleezza Rice was floated. Trump issued a rare apology, but plowed forward saying it was mere “locker room talk.” When several women came forward to say that he had acted out those words and sexually assaulted them, Trump denounced the “false smears” and suggested that one of them was not attractive enough to earn his interest anyway.

It worked. He won. And from then on, those who didn’t abandon Trump at his Access Hollywood low point earned a special credibility in Trumpland.

That’s why when Christine Blasey Ford went public — again in the Post — with her accusation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school, Trump didn’t back down. And when Deborah Ramirez told The New Yorker that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her while he was a freshman at Yale, Trump remained. And with other rumors and allegations growing more bizarre by the day — hyped by attorney Michael Avenatti, who also represents Trump hush money recipient Stormy Daniels — the president got mad. He saw the same thing happening to Kavanaugh as did to him. He could have saved his party political pain by backing down, yanking Kavanaugh’s nomination and putting up, say, Amy Coney Barrett. But that’s not how he got here. 

 

“People want fame. They want money. When I see it, I view it differently,” Trump told reporters in a freewheeling news conference on Wednesday. “It’s happened to me many times. I’ve had many false charges.”

So in the highest stakes moment of his ugly confirmation fight Thursday, the judge was angry, defiant, in many ways Trumpian. He told the Senate Judiciary Committee their confirmation process had become “a national disgrace” and said the allegations were “revenge on behalf of the Clintons,” as Kavanaugh was a key cog in the special counsel investigation into President Bill Clinton. He tried to rattle Democratic senators by asking about their own drinking habits in response to questions about his high school keg-tapping days. He used “Twilight Zone” instead of “witch hunt.” And he denied, denied, denied.

In other ways, Kavanaugh was the president’s antithesis. He sobbed when describing how his family was coping with this circus, and how he feared he’d never get to coach girls’ basketball again — the activity he loves most. It was raw, unlike anything you’d expect from a Supreme Court justice. But it was human.

So was Ford, an accomplished professor who described the attempted rape in haunting detail. She was “100 percent” sure it was Kavanaugh on top of her, covering her mouth. She described “the uproarious laughter between” Kavanaugh and his pal Mark Judge, how they were “having fun at my expense,” as permanently seared into her brain. Recently she insisted on adding a second front door to her home for an extra escape route, because of claustrophobia she attributes to the assault.

Absent any additional corroborating testimony, the conflicting accounts amounted to a political Rorschach test. As if there were any doubt which side Trump would take, he told us with a tweet.

He sees himself in his chosen justice, and his accusers in Ford. It’s more than enough to press on.