Vladimir Putin on Why Liberalism Is ‘Obsolete’

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Vladimir Putin has trumpeted the growth of national populist movements in Europe and America, crowing that liberalism is spent as an ideological force.

In an FT interview in the Kremlin on the eve of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, the Russian president said “the liberal idea” had “outlived its purpose” as the public turn against immigration, open borders and multiculturalism.

Putin’s evisceration of liberalism — the dominant Western ideology since the end of the Second World War in 1945 — chimes with antiestablishment leaders from U.S. president Donald Trump to Hungary’s Viktor Orban, Matteo Salvini in Italy and the Brexit insurgency in the U.K.

“[Liberals] cannot simply dictate anything to anyone just like they have been attempting to do over the recent decades,” he said.

He dismissed the conclusion by special counsel Robert Mueller that Russia had systemically interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election as “mythical interference.”

Putin branded Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to admit more than 1 million refugees to Germany, mainly from war-ravaged Syria, as a “cardinal mistake.” But he praised Donald Trump for trying to stop the flow of migrants and drugs from Mexico.

“This liberal idea presupposes that nothing needs to be done. That migrants can kill, plunder and rape with impunity because their rights as migrants have to be protected.”

He added: “Every crime must have its punishment. The liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population.”

 

Donald Tusk, the European Council president, said he “strongly disagreed” with Putin.

“What I find really obsolete is authoritarianism, personality cults and the rule of oligarchs,” he said.

As the de facto ruler of Russia for almost two decades, Putin, 66, has been regularly accused of covertly supporting populist movements through financial aid and social media, notably in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the Brexit referendum and the recent European Parliament elections.

Putin emphatically denied this. He dismissed the conclusion by special counsel Robert Mueller that Russia had systemically interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election as “mythical interference.”

Turning to the U.S.–China trade war and geopolitical tensions in the Gulf between the U.S. and Iran, Putin said the situation had become “explosive.” The problem, he said, stemmed from American unilateralism and the lack of rules underpinning world order.

He expressed concern about the threat of a renewed nuclear arms race between the U.S. and Russia. “The Cold War was a bad thing  …  but there were at least some rules that all participants in international communication more or less adhered to or tried to follow. Now, it seems that there are no rules at all,” he said.

On a positive note, Putin said there were tentative signs of a thaw in Anglo–Russian relations ahead of his meeting in Osaka with Theresa May, her farewell summit as U.K. prime minister.

“I think Russia and the U.K. are both interested in fully restoring our relations; at least I hope a few preliminary steps will be made.”

Relations between London and Moscow have been frozen after the attempted assassination of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England. The U.K. government blames the Russian government for the nerve agent attack, but Putin said there was no evidence to support this. Skripal had served a sentence in Russia before being released in a spy swap with the U.K., he noted.

Putin made clear, however, that he had zero tolerance for spies who betrayed their country. “Treason is the gravest crime possible, and traitors must be punished. I am not saying that the Salisbury incident is the way to do it …  but traitors must be punished.” At their meeting on Friday, May told Putin that attacks like the one in Salisbury can “never be repeated.”

In recent years, Putin has become emboldened, presiding over the annexation of Crimea, a pro-Russian revolt in eastern Ukraine and a military intervention in Syria, which he described as a clear-cut success.

Apart from killing thousands of radical Islamists and shoring up President Bashar Assad’s regime, Putin said the exercise had given Russia’s armed forces invaluable fighting experience.

He made no mention of the fact the seven-year-old war has resulted in more than 5 million refugees and 500,000 dead. However, he did point to the waves of immigration from conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East, which had fostered crime and social strains, in turn fueling an antiestablishment backlash in Europe.

Echoing nationalist populists such as Salvini and France’s Marine Le Pen, Putin said liberal governments have not acted to reassure citizens. Instead they have pursued a mindless multiculturalism embracing, among other things, sexual diversity.

“I am not trying to insult anyone because we have been condemned for our alleged homophobia. But we have no problem with LGBT persons. God forbid, let them live as they wish,” he said. “But some things do appear excessive to us. They claim now that children can play five or six gender roles.”

“Let everyone be happy; we have no problem with that,” he added. “But this must not be allowed to overshadow the culture, traditions and traditional family values of millions of people making up the core population.”

Scalpels Down! Let Intersex Children Choose

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Twenty-five years ago, while doing an emergency room shift as a third-year pediatrics resident in Washington, D.C., I met a patient who has been seared into my memory.

My patient’s gender was not immediately apparent. I asked questions to narrow the potential reasons for their abdominal pain, including one about menstrual cycles. The response revealed that they had gone through genital reassignment surgery as a young child without their consent.

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Dr. Oxiris Barbot.

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After completing the medical history, I tried to start the physical examination but didn’t get very far. The patient said, “No offense, Doc, but I am not going to let you touch me. I am tired of having residents parade through my room and my body to see what it looks like to be the aftermath of intersex surgery done during the ’70s.” In fact, the only person they would allow to touch them was the original surgeon, even if that meant waiting in pain for hours. What I learned that day was that decisions made by adults out of ignorance and fear can leave lifelong physical and mental scars.

This Pride Month, the New York City Health Department and the New York City Commission on Human Rights are joining forces as vocal and active allies for intersex people. Commissioner Carmelyn P. Malalis and I believe everyone should be able to access gender-affirming care and that no one should ever be forced to undergo genital surgery.

It is estimated that nearly 2 percent of the world’s population are born with an intersex trait — that’s as common as being born with red hair or green eyes or being born as identical twins. Yet, intersex people frequently live in the shadows, stigmatized because their sex characteristics — chromosomes, reproductive organs, genitals or secondary sex traits — are different from what we consider typical. More alarmingly, the health and safety of intersex people is an urgent issue, especially among children.

 

An estimated 1 in 2,000 American babies is intersex and at risk of being subjected to nonconsensual surgeries to “normalize” their body at birth. The operations are often done because parents are provided with no other option and they believe surgery is best for their child. The problem is, performing surgery at infancy can be damaging and traumatic. Side effects can include sterilization, urinary incontinence and scarring, and there is no way to know whether the choice made will be consistent with how that child understands their gender identity later in life.

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Rosie Lohman, 6, has congenital adrenal hyperplasia and is one of a growing number of intersex children whose parents are raising them without early genital surgery.

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To be clear, the procedures are extremely powerful when sought intentionally and used to affirm someone’s gender. The issue around surgeries is not that they are unnecessary for all. The key is self-determination and autonomy — no matter how scary the unknown of having an intersex child, it is far worse for children to cope with the devastating outcomes of surgeries that were not consensual. In recognition of these social and physiological concerns, progress is being made, with a growing consensus among medical providers to defer surgical interventions until a child is able to have a voice in the process. 

The New York City Health Department and the New York City Commission on Human Rights respect a person’s right to choose how they identify, and we recognize that gender is incredibly diverse.

Our anti-discrimination law protects all New Yorkers from discrimination and harassment in the workplace, in housing and in public spaces. In 2016, the commission released extensive guidance about discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. Earlier this year, the commission updated the guidance and published final rules codifying that these protections encompass sex characteristics. The rules now include more examples of discrimination against intersex people.

In January, the department changed its policy on birth certificates to affirm nonbinary people, including those who are intersex, by providing an explicit nonbinary gender option, “X.” This step shifts the conversation and grounds it in the reality that gender is fluid.

We also require all employees to complete a gender identity and expression awareness training that provides information on gender, legal considerations and best practices to affirm all people.

Now is the time for doctors to respect the rights of intersex people, use compassionate care with children and only perform surgery when the health of a child is at imminent risk or it is consensual. Parents deserve to be given resources for social and psychological support when their children are born with intersex traits, not pressured into having doctors operate. New York City will continue to support and advocate for intersex people, and we call on others to join us as allies.

Dr. Oxiris Barbot is the health commissioner of New York City. Carmelyn P. Malalis is the commissioner of the New York City Commission on Human Rights.

A Karate World Champion Whips Hollywood Into Fighting Shape

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Alone in a dark room, two women are locked in combat. One throws the other to the ground, pinning her knee into her ribs. She then cocks her elbow back, and swings it toward her opponent’s face for the decisive blow.

But the sound of bone crunching into bone never comes. Instead, there is only a loud smack as the elbow connects with a training pad.

“Better,” the woman on the ground says. “Just remember to put your whole body into the strike, not just your arm.” Her pupil, actress Imogen Poots, stands up. “You’ve got this. Now let’s go again.”

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It’s just another day on the job for 33-year-old Mindy Kelly, a world-class martial artist who has quietly become one of Hollywood’s most impressive stunt professionals. While coordinating stunts on music videos for Lady Gaga, Childish Gambino, Metallica and more, Kelly developed a talent for working not just with stunt doubles but also the artists themselves. By bringing out the subtle imperfections in the way actors and musicians move, she crafts stunts and fight scenes with a rare quality — realism.

Kelly lets loose in the upcoming Jesse Eisenberg movie, The Art of Self-Defense. It’s a jet-black comedy that hyperbolizes the transcendent triumphs, absurd ritualism and magnified masculinity found in the world of martial arts — a world that Kelly has spent her life navigating. 

You can be kind to people — and get better performance.

Mindy Kelly

Growing up in Ohio, Kelly couldn’t wait to get started as she watched her father and brother practice martial arts, She began training in kenpo karate under her father’s instruction at age 4; by age 10, she was a black belt. She earned a second black belt in taekwondo, and started supplementing her kinetic education with gymnastics classes.

Kelly also displayed some not-so-subtle signs that she might be destined for life in the entertainment industry, recording commercials in the living room or choreographing dance and martial arts routines at get-togethers with friends. “At the end of the night, we’d do a performance. Those poor kids!” she says with a laugh.

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Mindy Kelly is one of the few female stunt coordinators in the film industry.

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Soon, Kelly was displaying her martial arts skills in front of a live audience. Competing in tournaments around the world, she performed choreographed routines that combined martial arts techniques with the flips she had picked up from gymnastics — and she started winning.

“She had a really well-rounded skill set,” says Steve Terada, a black belt and pioneer of martial arts tricking (a hybrid of martial arts, gymnastics and break-dancing) who plays Thomas in The Art of Self-Defense. “Other women wouldn’t focus as much on their punches, so having fast, strong hands is something I would drill with her — and she became a beast at it.” By the time Kelly retired from sport karate at age 22, she had earned more than a dozen world titles — and a place among the top competitors of her generation.

 

But what would come next? There aren’t many ways to pay the bills using a mix of combat expertise, acrobatic skills and flashy performance. But there is one field that, as Kelly’s peers like Terada also discovered, is a good fit: the Hollywood stunt industry.

Kelly moved from Florida to Los Angeles, and in 2010 she was hired as the fight choreographer and a stunt performer for Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” music video. Over the next few years, she snagged small stunt roles in big-budget projects like The Dark Knight Rises, Transformers: Age of Extinction and the Daredevil TV series — but working as a woman in the stunt industry comes with unique, often dispiriting challenges. And Kelly, whose mother is South Korean, is the rare woman of color in the field.

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Kelly and actor Jesse Eisenberg attend the The Art of Self-Defense premiere at South by Southwest.

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“One coordinator told me that if I wanted to be a stunt double, I needed to starve myself to lose muscle,” Kelly says. While coordinating small projects and music videos, she was confronted with skepticism about how she had gotten the job. One crew member even had the gall to announce, in front of everyone, that he was the real stunt coordinator.

These condescending digs fed a persistent sense of self-doubt that Kelly battled over the years, a fight that continues today. “I had to learn how to love me for me,” she says. “It’s an ongoing process, and it took a lot of hard work, but I finally trust my voice, my opinion and my art.

“And that judgment from other people — that’s what made me want to be a coordinator,” she continues. “You don’t have to break people down or tell them that they’re not good enough. I believe that you can be kind to people — and get better performance.”

While working on The Art of Self-Defense as one of the few female stunt coordinators in the industry, Kelly had the chance to prove herself right. Most action films give their actors months to prepare, but Kelly had just one week to train Eisenberg and Poots — and all of 24 hours to turn Alessandro Nivola into a full-fledged sensei, or teacher of martial arts. And Kelly rose to the challenge. “I was really surprised by how great she was at training the actors,” says Terada. “She incorporated her knowledge of acting, giving the actors not just the choreography but also the intention or motivation behind their movements. It made them feel a lot more comfortable, and it shows in the film.”

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Kelly has coordinated stunts on music videos for Lady Gaga, Childish Gambino, Metallica and more.

Source Sean Culligan/OZY

Rebecca Roven Oakley, an executive producer of Wonder Woman and Kelly’s closest friend, found Kelly to be a patient martial arts instructor. “She never once made me feel silly for not getting the hang of something quickly,” says Oakley. “She made everything joyful and fun, and I think that comes from a very pure love of martial arts and what she does.”

Kelly says she hopes “to inspire, to create change, to have a little kid watch something, and then go play in the yard pretending that they’re a superhero.” 

And she’s making sure the hero can throw one heck of an elbow.

OZY’s 5 Questions With Mindy Kelly 

  • What’s the last book you read? They Can Kill You … but They Can’t Eat You, by Dawn Steel. 
  • What do you worry about? People not communicating with one another. 
  • What’s the one thing you can’t live without? My dog. Also pasta. 
  • Who’s your hero? My parents.
  • What’s one item on your bucket list? To give back, and to help others pursue their dreams.

Read more: She’s taking on ‘wigging’ and whitewashing in Hollywood stunts.

Little Pills, Big Mistakes

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If you’re in a band, you might have been lucky enough to have one of those rock ’n’ roll fantasy moments, where the clouds part and staring you in the face is opportunity. The kind that might let you do more of that music stuff and much less of whatever else you do to pay for it. That’s the kind we were looking at when Isis — the band, not the terrorists — offered Oxbow (my band) a tour with them.

See, they were fresh off of a tour with Tool and were selling out 5,000-seat venues that Oxbow would not have been let anywhere near. Good for us, even if it would be bad for bands used to stadiums like the Red Hot Chili Peppers

So in 2007, we hit the road for five weeks of Euro touring. Before every tour, and especially long tours, my doctor would set me up with what we called a “Box of Magical Pills and Powders for the Aging Musician.” These ranged from anti-inflammatory and anti-diarrheal to antibiotics to help with any road contingency that might arise. It was rare to dig into the box, but it was better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. And this year, a new addition: Ambien.

Ambien?

“It’s a sleeping pill. I mean just in case you can’t sleep because of jet lag or something,” the doc filled me in.

Having never taken it before, I figured to err on the side of caution and took one. So tiny. Just one little pill.

Despite what movies like Bohemian Rhapsody or Rocketman or The Dirt might have shown you, on the more arty end of the spectrum? Well, there’s not a lot of bad behavior on our road. There is a lot of getting up at 6 a.m. after having gone to bed at 3 a.m., because that’s how long it took to load the gear, pack up the merchandise and find the hotel. Or, to quote Ian, the hapless tour manager from This Is Spinal Tap, much closer to the truth than anyone in a band would like to admit, “There’s no sex and drugs for Ian!!!”

And really less so if you’re in Oxbow, since our tremendous paranoia over losing any gear or merch means we load the gear into the Mercedes Sprinter and then load it into our hotel rooms so we don’t get robbed, before loading it back in the van when we leave at 6 a.m.

But for the hour of glory we spend onstage playing music, it’d be … madness. Those 60 minutes somehow make it all worth it though, and when we pull up to the double-warehouse-size venue in Berlin, with hundreds of people snaking through the parking lot at our 3 p.m. load-in, we remember this.

 

See, Berlin’s been, traditionally, one of our more favored places to play. And when I take one look at the stage, I note that it’s huge and start my hunt for a sports drink. Our show and the spirit that fuels it is beyond physical, and getting ready for the road often involves running road work for weeks before. But Red Bull doesn’t hurt either. For just … a little edge.

The show, though, went without incident. And for some reason, or a reason that made sense to me at the time, I was dressed like an ice cream man: white pants, black shoes, button up, short sleeve dress shirt. And postshow, I worked the merch table and signed autographs on stuff for people. Our sound guy kept me informed about time to completion and packing up. I estimated how long it would be before we were back to the hotel, but I could feel the Red Bull buzzing. Which is right around when I remembered the Ambien

Having never taken it before, I figured to err on the side of caution and took one. So tiny. Just one little pill. And seconds after I swallowed it, the sound guy came back.

“That was a great show.”

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Oxbow in Paris two nights after the night in question.

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And he was right, it really had been. Isis tore it up and so had we. It was a good feeling. 

“Let’s have a nightcap.” And with that he passed me a shot glass. Now I knew enough to know that alcohol and pills don’t mix, but the pill was so tiny, and it was just a shot. And given how dehydrated I was after sweating off five pounds of fluids during the show, I imagined the liquor would get absorbed into my system well before the pill even showed up.

Yeah, well, that’s not at all what happened because that’s not how science, medicine or even pills work. What happened instead was that the inevitable delays kicked in — slowing our return to the hotel and increasing the amount of time I spent having to be around other humans. The last place I should have been then.

No one tells a Navy man what to do!” I shouted to no one, and really everyone.

It should be noted that I was neither in the Navy nor had I ever been, but as I stood at the back of the almost packed van and looked in on our patrons in Isis, I had decided that that was what I needed to tell them. I was still lucid enough though that I could see that this was not a winning line of chatter, so off I staggered.

“What the hell was that Navy bit about?” asked my roommate for the evening, Greg Davis, Oxbow’s drummer. 

“What?”

“Huh?”

“Nothing.” And when we got back to the hotel, I later found out that there was enough concern about my ability to survive the night that there had been some discussion about “what to do.” In the end? I hoisted my suitcase over my head and walked up five flights of stairs, a feat so amazing given the circumstances, that it was assumed I was “OK.”

You know you’ve had a night just like this when, at breakfast, the room quiets a bit and everyone stares when you come in.

“You, uh, sleep OK last night?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Well you were talking in your sleep.”

I did that on odd occasions. And this was an odd occasion.

“Yeah, but it wasn’t like when most people talk in their sleep. You were having a real conversation, and you were using real names of real people about things I imagine you’d probably not have publicly spoken about …” and Davis trailed off.

“Anything you … remember?” I asked him.

And then, very slowly, the wisest answer of all, “… um … no.”

We drove on to the next show, loaded with everything (nothing had been stolen) that hadn’t been sold. Everything but the Ambien. That shit, like stupidity, can be dangerous.

Trump Is Right: Forget About 5G. 6G Is Already Coming

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When U.S. President Donald Trump took to his favorite broadcasting platform, Twitter, in February to seek 6G technology at a time even 5G wasn’t available in America, he was roundly mocked on social media as technologically illiterate. “I want 5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible,” Trump said. But whether through luck or actual foresight, the president might have been onto something.

The fifth generation of mobile internet, or 5G, is still relatively new. It has been implemented only in a small set of countries, its global standard hasn’t yet been completely agreed upon and there are still large regions, even in the U.S., that lack decent 4G connections. But a growing number of countries, research institutions and companies are beginning work on building 6G technology, amid growing recognition that the effort — even if started now — could take up to 2030 before users globally can access this new benchmark for internet connectivity.

This new focus also points to the growing belief among researchers that 6G — which, by offering up to 1-terabyte-per-second speeds, would let you download 300 movies in a second — will be needed to fully realize the benefits 5G is expected to throw up. In March, the University of Oulu in Finland hosted a 6G Wireless Summit that saw the participation of 250 researchers from around the world. Earlier in December, Sun Xin, head of China’s 5G technology working group, announced that the country was beginning research into 6G.

There’s a future world that’s starting to emerge.

Lauri Oksanen, Nokia Bell Labs

This May, Samsung — the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer — set up a new technology group called the Advanced Communications Research Center in Seoul with research into 6G as one of its priorities. Just a few weeks ago, the European Commission recommended a research partnership with global telecom majors including Nokia, Ericsson, Orange, Thales, Huawei, Telenor and Telecom Italia, among others, on ��Smart Networks and Services” that will cover 5G and 6G until 2030. And 6G fever is now reaching even Bell Labs, with the iconic U.S. research and development institution beginning research into the technology.

“There’s a future world that’s starting to emerge,” says Lauri Oksanen, vice president of research and technology at Bell Labs, which is now owned by Nokia. “The physical world and the biological world have been around for quite some time now. But recently we added the digital world to that mix. 6G will let us push for real-time integration of the three.”

Essentially 5G on steroids, 6G — while still largely undefined — could support a world where we control computers through sensors placed everywhere around us. Smartphones already have dozens of sensors. The next step would include sensors in our bodies, in our homes and in our cars, allowing autonomous vehicles or just about any computer to communicate with their surroundings. 6G would, for example, effectively allow an augmented-reality layer that’s spread out over our physical world. According to Giuseppe Abreu, a wireless communications researcher at Germany’s Jacobs University, a big push for 6G might also come from digital twinning. “Here you make a digital copy of the real world using sensors, but in a digital simulation,” he explains.

 

What would all of that mean for us, apart from extremely fast and ever-present connectivity? First, it would let us send 3D, hologram-like images and videos over our mobile devices, without any latency — which is harder with 5G speeds that are 100 times slower than 6G would be. This would also enable doctors to perform far more sophisticated surgeries remotely, using robots, than is possible at present.

Then there’s city traffic management. Sure, 5G will let autonomous cars interact with their immediate surroundings. But what about a city where millions of self-driven cars are on the streets at the same time? Who’s going to coordinate between them, in real time, on a citywide scale? That too is where 6G could come in, with the ability to manage the traffic of an entire metropolis filled with autonomous cars.

That 5G itself is still at a teething stage isn’t necessarily a showstopper for 6G, says Roberto Saracco, an Italian engineer who leads the future directions committee at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, one of the world’s biggest bodies of engineers. “It takes a lot of time to develop standards,” he says. 4G really became popular only by 2010; 5G will be fully implemented only by 2020 and it’s only if they start work now that 6G — and globally acceptable standards for the technology — would be ready by around 2030, say researchers. That process involves debates and negotiations in organizations like the International Telecommunication Union.

To be sure, it’s unclear just how effectively 6G will work — we don’t even know yet whether 5G will deliver on its promise to transform everything from transportation to how we view reality. Nor are researchers fully sure yet what new technologies 6G will need as its backbone, suggests Saracco. But existing clues point to a potential redrawing of the telecommunication landscape.

Each new generation — 5G over 4G, or 6G over 5G — works at a higher frequency range than the previous one. Higher frequencies in the wireless spectrum allow the transmission of greater amounts of information — but they can also be blocked more easily. “These types of waves [those higher up the spectrum] don’t go around an obstacle,” says Nokia Bell Labs’ Oksanen. “They simply bounce away or are blocked.”

To ensure access to 6G — which travels in the terahertz range — networks would need to place antennas very close to every user. That problem could be solved by making every device, like a smartphone, into an antenna. This in turn would move networks away from the traditional base stations, and the companies that operate them, like Verizon or AT&T.

“It would be a network of devices — traditional base stations wouldn’t be enough anymore,” says Saracco. “Which will mean companies other than the operators can come in and change the network.”

We can wait for that change to play out, but scientists need to begin their work as soon as possible, suggests Oksanen. “The big debate is still ahead of us,” he says. “Yet we need to start research now to recognize what the necessary technologies and … what the new needs are.” Trump, it seems, was on target.

Our 10 Must-Read Stories — the OZY Highlight Reel

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This week we let you in on one reason political campaigns have been going against conventional wisdom when it comes to their subject lines. Then we dove into the coffin industry — which is, and sorry about this, dying. Too heavy? Discover a feminist beer from Spain with a unique name.

Read on for more stories on love, prison and one literary giant you may never have heard of. Here are our favorites on OZY this week.

No. 1: Box of Tricks: Why the Coffin Industry Is Dying for Disruption

Why You Should Care: The funeral business is in churn, but the big players aren’t hurting — they’re consolidating their monopoly.

Much more >>

No. 2: Email Fatigue: 2020 Contenders Are Subjecting Us to Mile-Long Subject Lines

Why You Should Care: Democratic candidates think they’re gaming Google. But is it just getting on people’s nerves?   

Much more >>

No. 3: Lockup Love: She Was the Mom of Two Inmates and Now Performs Prison Weddings

Why You Should Care: Jo Anne Hall turned her own life around as a wedding officiant in an unlikely place.

Much more >>

Why You Should Care: Mark Rifkin, a one-time football player, is tackling an alleged Silicon Valley monopoly.

Much more >>

 

No. 5: Literary Legend: This American Maverick Ruled the Lesbian Literary Scene of Paris

Why You Should Care: Poet Natalie Clifford Barney became a champion of gay rights, simply by refusing to follow the rules. 

Much more >>

No. 6: Kickin’ It: Afghanistan’s Stunning New Success Story: Sports

Why You Should Care: From cricket and soccer to martial arts and wrestling, sports are allowing the country to dream of a new identity.

Much more >>

No. 7: No Calls: The App That Gives Spammers a Taste of Their Own Medicine

Why You Should Care: There’s a fun way to get revenge on annoying robocalls — by having a robot answer and waste their time with silly scenarios.

Much more >>

No. 8: You Jelly?: When French Emperors and Royalty Fine Dined … on Jell-O

Why You Should Care: From haute cuisine to Jell-O shots, oh, how the mighty have fallen. 

Much more >>

No. 9: Just in Thyme: He’s Making the Spice Trade Less Shady

Why You Should Care: With Burlap & Barrel, Ethan Frisch is adding a dash of salt and pepper to the farm-to-table movement.

Much more >>

No. 10: Anger Ale: Don’t Screw With This Feminist Beer From Spain

Why You Should Care: This small-batch brew with a provocative name has an unmissable message. 

Much more >>

As Democrats Make a Post-Debate Online Push, Joe Biden Stays Quiet

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The two-night Democratic presidential debate set off a frenzy of attempts to capitalize on the moment in the sun for a historically large field of presidential hopefuls. Well, most of them anyway. After a Thursday-night performance that saw him get attacked from all corners of the stage …

Joe Biden hasn’t issued a single new paid Facebook ad since the debate began.

That’s as of noon EST on Friday, a crucial time window when the other hopefuls have been pressing their case on America’s dominant social platform. An OZY analysis of Facebook ad data shows that the only other candidates who didn’t buy new ads during the same time window were New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, who have limited resources and are polling at less than 1 percent.

In one sense, it’s surprising: Biden has spent $1.5 million in Google and Facebook ads in the past 90 days, more than any other Democratic candidate. In another, it’s not: The former vice president and polling front-runner probably doesn’t want to draw more online attention to the debate, which saw him tangle with California Sen. Kamala Harris on race relations, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet on his deal-making abilities with Republicans and California Rep. Eric Swalwell on whether his time had passed.

 

Biden did send out a mass text message asking for donations immediately after the debate, and, though the campaign is not backing them with ad spending, his campaign has posted three times on his Facebook page. “If they were completely hiding from everything, you wouldn’t do that,” says a Democratic digital strategist tracking the presidential race, noting that candidate spending can fluctuate from day to day and week to week. 

But the fact that Biden has been laying low on the morning after is in stark contrast to how other candidates hit the gas pedal online. 

Harris’ big breakout came when she took on Biden directly, starting with “I do not believe you are racist” and ending with a harsh rebuttal of his past opposition to busing programs: “There was a little girl in California who was a part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.”

Immediately, her social team tweeted a photo of Harris as a young girl that soon circled the internet.

It wasn’t just her. Swalwell also had a preplanned Biden attack that he hoped could vault him to relevancy. While his “pass the torch” line snuffed out onstage, his team was ready with a video from the California convention where Biden first made those remarks 32 years ago. Swalwell is also selling “Pass the torch” T-shirts. (Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro is hawking shirts with his line from Wednesday night: “Adios, Trump.”) South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s account was churning out social videos as the debate went on, taking his biggest one-liners and turning them into shareable content instantly. 

“This matters because so many people watch with a second or even third screen in their hands, but it also matters for those who don’t watch — because their perceptions of the night will be shaped online,” says Daniel Hoffmann, director of Bully Pulpit Interactive, a Democratic digital consulting firm. Both Harris and Buttigieg immediately filmed videos thanking supporters after leaving the debate stage, which were then turned into paid Facebook ads asking for donations.

A full picture of post-debate fundraising bumps won’t emerge for another few weeks, when campaign finance reports are due. But New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s campaign boasted on Thursday that he had the second-best fundraising day of his campaign, both in the number of donors and amount, after his launch day in February.

Here are some other takeaways from online activity during and after the big events: 

Ask Google. Search trends can shed light on what viewers are thinking — and perhaps which candidates are piquing their interest most. For instance, we know that height seemed to be at the top of people’s minds … and old-school sexism reared its head leading into the debates.

Before the first debate, Booker, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke led search interest, according to Google Analytics, with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard leading search results only in her home state of Hawaii. However, by the end of the debate, Gabbard was the top-searched candidate in about half the country. Another big riser was Castro, who, like Gabbard, was polling at less than 1 percent on average leading into the night. By taking on O’Rourke, Castro saw his searches spike by 2,400 percent through the night. 

google trends

Source Bully Pulpit Interactive

So, count Gabbard and Castro in for a huge poll bump, right? Not so fast. Just because people are searching for you doesn’t mean you will make a dent. In fact, Google Trends searches tend to benefit those who are relatively unknown going into the debates. According to a Morning Consult poll this month, 48 percent of Americans had never even heard of Gabbard before Wednesday night (29 percent said the same about Castro). That made them the fifth and 14th least-known of 22 candidates, respectively. Which is why more credit should be given to candidates like Harris, who was the second most-searched after the second debate — even though only 16 percent of the country had not heard of her going in. 

Is faith in the economy fragile? “Wages” and “unemployment” were consistently the third or fourth most-searched term in both debates (behind health care and immigration). This is interesting because, with the stock market at record-breaking highs and the unemployment rate at a 50-year low, the economy would appear to be a strength for the Trump administration.

The interest may merely have been curiosity. But it could also be a sign that faith in the economy, despite its statistical strengths, is shallow. It’s an idea Bully Pulpit Interactive recently explored, finding that 75 percent of Americans are financially concerned, with only a third saying they have full confidence they can cover their monthly expenses. 

What wasn’t on people’s minds? Foreign policy, which is a bit shocking considering America almost teetered into war with Iran just last week, after an American drone was shot down in what the U.S. insists was neutral airspace. The MSNBC debate moderators didn’t make it a major talking point, instead asking the candidates to give one-word answers to what they felt was the greatest geopolitical threat facing the nation: Some said Russia, others China, while many said climate change. 

The first debate included commitments to repair NATO relationships and negotiate the Iran deal that Trump departed, but a serious discussion must probably wait “until the field narrows down,” says former CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin

This Weekend: A Cat Saves the Day!

The guest cat copy

WHAT TO READ

The Guest Cat — Animal Friends. This runaway bestseller by Takashi Hiraide follows a Tokyo couple in their mid-30s who find their work-driven lives lit up when a neighbor’s cat strays into their house one day. This simple urban tale of loneliness and love is a modern classic. (Recommended by Charu Sudan Kasturi, Cat Person)

Bone — Small Bald Heroes. Jeff Smith’s graphic novel is one of the best all-ages comics you’ll ever read. Three brothers are chased out of town and into a Tolkienesque wilderness, where they meet cigar-wielding dragons and quiche-loving rat creatures. Originally published in black and white, but be sure to get the color version if you can. (Recommended by Ned Colin, Comics Nerd)

American Prison — Undercover Investigation. Though millions of Americans are incarcerated, most of us still don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. Journalist Shane Bauer made it his business to find out, taking a job as a corrections officer before writing this shocking exposé of the private prison system. (Recommended by Patrick Rojas, OZY Fan)

WHAT TO WATCH

Tales of the City — Community by the Bay. This show focuses on San Francisco’s LGBTQ community, exploring sexuality, discrimination and love across generations. Armistead Maupin’s iconic novels have been adapted for the screen before — and often with the same actors in the cast. Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis starred in the 1994 PBS miniseries, and in follow-ups screened in 1998 and 2001. Now they’re in this Netflix outing, joined by Ellen Page in a memorable turn. (Recommended by Tracy Moran, Binge Watcher)

Aladdin — Magic Redux. A lot of people were skeptical, but this film has enough pizzazz to turn even those who aren’t normally charmed by Will Smith into die-hard fans. It’s rare that one of these live-action Disney films doesn’t just make you want to go watch the old one — and we’re still reserving judgment on the CGI version of The Lion King — but you can go enjoy Aladdin without fear of disappointment. Other highlights: Aladdin’s sidekick duo of monkey and magic carpet manage to steal scenes despite not being exactly human. (Recommended by Leslie dela Vega, Sequel Fiend)

WHERE TO GO

Oidon — Noodles All Day. San Mateo has a ton of amazing ramen restaurants, from Ramen Parlour to Himawari. But the best one is the one that is literally tucked away: Located above Suruki, a Japanese supermarket, Oidon is where the true ramen fanatic should go. 

Recommendations for what to order? EVERYTHING. But start with the tonkotsu ramen, whose savory, creamy broth is to die for, or the champon, brimming with seafood morsels. If ramen is not your thing, first of all, we can’t be friends. And secondly, you can still get the omu-rice, which is top notch. But please order ramen anyway and we’ll eat it for you. (Recommended by Alex Furuya, Noodle Connoisseur)

AND WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T…

Underestimate slugs. Last month, Japan saw a railway power outage cancel 26 trains and delay as many as 12,000 people. Now they say a small slug was behind the problem: It managed to squeeze into a box containing a key electrical cable and touch it, shorting out the electricity. Train officials say the boxes are supposed to be secure, even from slugs. (UPI)

SLIDE INTO OUR DMS

Do you have a killer potato salad recipe that you’d like to share? Think you discovered the next great jam band? Share your suggestions with us here at OZY! Email us: Weekender@ozy.com.

Sorry, Straight White Men: You’re Just Not Electable Enough

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Jennifer Psaki is a former White House communications director who served under President Barack Obama.

The first debate is over, and one thing is clear: We need to rethink our definition of electability and what electable looks like.

Debates don’t determine the outcome, but they do offer a clear comparison of the candidates. And they do give a glimpse into who is ready to not only take on Donald Trump, but also to present their vision for the future of the country.

For the first time in American history, there were three women on the debate stage. And that was the case on both nights.

When we watched debate coverage Thursday morning and I asked my almost 4-year-old who she liked, her response was: “I like the girls, Mom.” She may not be of voting age, but I bet she is not alone.

Kamala Harris, the only woman of color running for president, owned the stage.

For the first time in American history, there were four candidates of color on the debate stage over the two nights.

A gay Midwestern mayor stood on the debate stage next to the former vice president of the United States because his polling dictated it.

And the standouts from the first two nights did not include a single straight White man.

Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro owned the debate moment of Night One with his forceful and emotional answer on immigration. America learned about the passion Sen. Cory Booker has for civil rights and addressing gun violence, and he had the second-best fundraising day of his campaign as a result. And Sen. Elizabeth Warren showed the country why she is gaining on not just Sen. Bernie Sanders, but also the front-runner Joe Biden, with her crisp and direct answers on economic inequality and health care.

 

And on Night Two, Sen. Kamala Harris, the only woman of color running for president, owned the stage, by first silencing a screaming match with a well-practiced one-liner: “America does not want to witness a food fight. They want to know how we are going to put food on their table.” And then challenging Biden on his record of working with segregationists to oppose busing for African American students with a reference to her own experience as a young girl who was bused to school in California with a memorable statement: “That girl was me.”

After a meteoric rise that left some skeptical, Mayor Pete Buttigieg showed America that he is not afraid to admit he hasn’t been able to get the job done to increase the diversity of the police force in South Bend, Indiana. He also showed how he isn’t afraid to take on thorny topics like religion and call out the hypocrisy of cloaking yourself in Christianity while turning a blind eye to the innocent children who are crossing the border.

Biden is a good man with a long record of serving the country. He did not have a good first debate, even though he would be an excellent president. But being an experienced White man with white hair does not make him the most electable. And electability is not a blood oath pledge that the American people commit to without the possibility of looking for other options.

An old colleague reminded me earlier today that when we were in the trenches working for then Sen. Barack Obama, that he was double digits behind then Sen. Hillary Clinton at this point in the race and that for months, it just didn’t feel like he could get his groove going on the trail. It wasn’t until the November 2007 Jefferson–Jackson Dinner, an annual dinner in Iowa that gathers the delegates and activists from around the state in Des Moines, that people started to see his magic. And it wasn’t until he won Iowa, a surprise that most commentators and analysts weren’t predicting even the week before, that the African American community started to see that he was, in fact, electable and began to coalesce around him.

So what makes someone the most electable? If being an experienced statewide White male elected official from a swing state at the prime of his life who won’t offend the apparently sensitive swing voters is the definition, then we should just anoint John Hickenlooper or Michael Bennet. But neither of them would have a prayer of beating Trump — and more importantly, neither of them is presenting a fresh, forward-looking and optimistic vision for the future.

Electability is determined by nothing more complicated than whom the American people want to elect, and are moved to elect. Twelve years ago that never would have been an African American. After seeing the performances of the first debate, it is time to change our definition of electability to get in step with 2019.

Read more for an opposing view: Democrats’ small-ball debate is a recipe for failure against Trump.