I’m A Black Woman Who Traveled Asia For More Than A Year. Here’s What I Know About Anti-Blackness.

It was a tumultuous 2016 both personally and politically. My relationship of four years ended as January 2016 began. Just a year before, I had made the choice that the teaching career I built over five years was no longer what I wanted, and I was nannying with multiple families to earn a living. To top it all off, a lugubrious leech had won the presidency of the United States. It was time to go.

I booked my flight in October 2016 and in January 2017, I began a two-and-a-half-month solo trip around Southeast Asia starting in Bangkok, Thailand. During this trip, I slept in over 30 beds in a mix of hostels and hotels in countries like Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. Within three weeks, I knew this continent was where I needed to be.

I worked any and every job I could I find to get back to the far east ― I taught English online to Chinese students three days a week starting at 5 a.m. Then I’d head to my two-week hostess gig at the U.S. Open until midnight. After those two weeks were up, I snagged two part-time jobs at a cafe and a stationery store. With all that hustle, I saved enough money to return to Asia in January 2018, this time indefinitely. I kept my online teaching job.

Like most people prepping for long-term travel, I researched everything there was to know about Southeast Asia. From my research, I knew to expect the stares from locals as I’m a 5-foot-10-inch, dark-skinned curvy black woman. I also knew to expect an abundance of skin-lightening creams and to arrive prepared with products designed for my skin or go without washing my face with a cleanser or using sunscreen.

But, I pride myself on my adaptability. I was born in St. Thomas, Jamaica, and raised in New York, and both worlds shaped me. I arrogantly believed culture shock was for the less traveled. That was until I stepped off a plane in Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon), Vietnam. 

One day, as I roamed the aisles of a supermarket in the south of Vietnam in search of a new headscarf and some goodies, I couldn’t help but feel the gawkers, see the pointing, feel the sly attempts to touch my braids, and hear the giggling as I walked through the aisles. This kind of attention became old really fast so I told the hostel-mates I was with that I’d wait elsewhere for them.

I spotted a bench by the entrance, and as I sat down, a Vietnamese woman sprung from her seated position on the same bench, grabbed her toddler and ran away so fast you’d think I was Freddy Krueger. She was in such a rush to get away, she dropped his shoe and ran back to grab it, never taking her eyes off me. 

This was one of many times I scared someone by merely existing in my black body. 

As I continued to encounter similar experiences throughout the six months I spent in Vietnam, I began to wonder how anyone could be scared of me. 

How could this woman believe I would hurt a child when children are my world?”

How could anyone be scared of me when I’m a … woman?”

But it’s never about my womanhood, but instead my blackness and its perceived danger.  

On my first camel ride into the Thar Desert in India.

After living and traveling in Vietnam for months, I decided to travel to India. In a lot of ways, Vietnam prepared me for my five months in India. The staring didn’t bother me too much, though India takes staring to a level that feels criminal. 

Before visiting India, I read several articles about the struggles of African students from countries like Nigeria and Tanzania, who were targeted by police and locals as drug dealers, prostitutes and cannibals. 

It’s one thing to read it, but it was another thing to witness. 

Imagine being a student in a new country and more times than not being asked: “You got that stuff?” because of the color of your skin. Imagine being silently beckoned by a man in a restaurant while having breakfast with a key in hand signaling with his eyes to go upstairs because he assumes you’re a prostitute. The latter happened to me three months into my stay in the South Indian state Goa. I felt disgusted and it took everything I had in me not to resort to physical violence against this man. 

The false narratives of innate promiscuity and hypersexuality that white supremacy and the global media have perpetuated about black women leads to this kind of objectification and sexual violence which also includes the widespread sex trafficking of West African women. 

There were many times I felt invisible while traveling as a black woman. Of course, I was seen for my physical appearance and the preconceived notions that come with that, but my humanity was invisible. This was made clear the night I was aggressively searched without cause on a sleeper bus in the north of India.

I was aggressively woken up by the bus driver to find three police officers standing over my 40-pound backpack silently demanding that I open and empty its contents. As I stood in the middle of the narrow aisle, trying to remain calm, I felt many pairs of eyes burning into my skin. I had an audience. No one else was being searched, including the two white girls from France I had met earlier during the rest stop.  

“It’s just clothes,” I repeated in a low, sleepy tone, being careful not to sound taut. 

As one officer flipped through my books and journals, another intensely watched as I fumbled for a place to put my clothing, refusing to put them on the filthy floor. The third was so close behind me I could feel him. 

Eventually, I stopped speaking because they were set on giving me the silent treatment.  

It didn’t matter what I said was in my bag because they were determined to find something. Once they checked and rummaged every pocket and compartment, satisfying themselves, I was only left with the words “theek hai,” which is Hindi for “fine.”

They brushed past me to exit the bus, never meeting my eyes and never giving me a reason why. 

And for the first time in two years of travel, I was scared.

There was a part of me that felt like I couldn’t complain or express the legitimate anxiety I felt after this situation because “I put myself in this position” by choosing a nomadic lifestyle. When I read old journal entries from my first solo trip and the first few months of the second, I often used words like “just deal” and “staying strong” refusing to acknowledge the real pain I was feeling.

I was humiliated and traumatized in a way that not only changed the way I traveled the rest of India, but it forced me to become so hyperaware of my blackness that I couldn’t be my full authentic self. I refused to smile or engage in small talk with anyone, especially men, afraid to give the wrong idea. I was always careful and always “on,” and found myself shrinking in order to accommodate those around me. 

On a 3-day motorbike journey across the Ha Giang Loop in the north of Vietnam.

There is undeniable loneliness that accompanies solo travel as a black woman. 

Sometimes I would will the universe to have me cross paths with another black human, even momentarily, so I could dwell in our connectedness. I would sometimes ask family members to speak patois (Jamaican dialect) on the phone, so I could bask in something only I could understand.

Malcolm X said: “The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman.” 

Throughout my adventures in Asia, I’ve learned there is almost nowhere on this beautiful planet that any person of the African diaspora can step foot without witnessing white supremacy holding reign. 

But I also know this: Escapism in a black body is an act of defiance. 

It is an act of resistance to the systems that aim to diminish our personhood worldwide, and it is essential to show up and explore every corner if our circumstances allow.  

To answer the cliché travel question “Why do you travel?”: I travel because I’m free. I travel to be seen. I travel to be heard. It’s my hope that with every flight, ferry, bus and train I board, every conversation I have, and every word I publish that people; locals and other travelers, not only see my blackness, but my power, joy and magic.

Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on HuffPost? Find out what we’re looking for here and send us a pitch!

Read more: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/black-woman-travel-asia_n_5d31d61fe4b0419fd32c2355

Unsealed documents show allegations against Jeffrey Epstein and his inner circle

New York (CNN)Hundreds of pages of court documents unsealed Friday in New York federal court allege new details of sexual abuse claims against multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein and several associates.

Epstein pleaded not guilty in July to charges from New York federal prosecutors after an indictment accused him of sex trafficking dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14 years old. Maxwell hasn’t been charged.
An attorney for Maxwell did not respond to CNN’s request for comment Friday. Maxwell and her representatives have previously denied she engaged in sexual abuse or sex trafficking.
    The documents unsealed Friday were produced as a result of a lawsuit Giuffre filed against Maxwell, nearly two decades after her alleged abuse. They include new allegations by Giuffre that she was instructed by Maxwell to have sex with former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former US Sen. George Mitchell, among others.
    In a statement Friday, Mitchell called the claim false, adding: “I have never met, spoken with or had any contact with Ms. Giuffre.”
    A spokeswoman for Richardson called Giuffre’s allegation “completely false.”
    “To be clear, in Governor Richardson’s limited interactions with Mr. Epstein, he never saw him in the presence of young or underage girls,” spokeswoman Madeleine Mahony said. “Governor Richardson has never been to Mr. Epstein’s residence in the Virgin Islands. Governor Richardson has never met Ms. Giuffre.”
    The documents also include an Amazon receipt recovered from the trash at Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion for books ordered in his name, including “SM 101: A Realistic Introduction,” “SlaveCraft: Roadmaps for Erotic Servitude” and “Training with Miss Abernathy: A Workbook for Erotic Slaves and their Owners.”
    The documents disclose Giuffre’s 2001 medical records from a hospital that she said Epstein and Maxwell took her to during a period of sexual abuse. The records show Giuffre had complained of irregular vaginal bleeding for three weeks; had fainted two days prior, falling and hitting her head; and had lost seven pounds in the past month.
    CNN has reached out to the hospital to ask whether it flagged the incident to authorities.
    Other documents show testimony from another woman who has alleged abuse at the hands of Epstein and Maxwell, and claimed in a deposition that Epstein told her that “in his opinion, he needed to have three orgasms a day. It was biological. Like eating.”
    The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit unsealed the documents, ruling that the judge in the defamation case had improperly sealed hundreds of filings. That judge has since died.
    The defamation case was settled in 2017, after the judge had ruled against a motion for summary judgment filed by Maxwell.
    An attorney for Epstein, Reid Weingarten, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Friday, nor did an attorney for Maxwell. In the court filings, Maxwell and her attorney portray Giuffre as an unreliable narrator, pointing to errors in certain dates and figures she provided.
    Giuffre has said the errors were mistakes.
    David Boies, an attorney for Giuffre, said Friday that her lawsuit “exposed for prosecutors, and now the public, the scope and scale and ugliness of the Epstein/Maxwell sex trafficking ring.”
    The charges in the July indictment of Epstein share similarities with Giuffre’s account, but it’s not clear whether she is among any of the unnamed victims in that indictment.
    But Giuffre is arguably the best-known of Epstein’s alleged victims because she has claimed that Epstein forced her as part of her servitude to perform sex acts with a number of prominent men, including Prince Andrew, Duke of York, in 2001. She has also made claims of being sexually abused by lawyer Alan Dershowitz.
    Dershowitz, who was part of the legal team that negotiated a controversial 2007 deal that allowed Epstein to avoid federal prosecution for sex trafficking in Florida and instead plead guilty to lesser state charges, has denied her claims and accused her of fabricating the allegations against him.
    Friday, he said in a statement that the fresh batch of documents “categorically proves that Virginia Roberts never had sex with me.”
    In April, she filed a separate defamation lawsuit against him. That case is ongoing; Dershowitz has filed a motion to dismiss.
    In the documents unsealed Friday, the other woman who alleged abuse at the hands of Epstein and Maxwell also claims she was forced into sexual acts with Prince Andrew at Epstein’s Upper East Side mansion, where, she said, Giuffre participated as well.
    In response, a spokesperson for Buckingham Palace said: “This relates to proceedings in the United States, to which The Duke of York is not a party. Any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue.”
    In a statement to CNN last month, the spokesperson said, “The Duke of York accepts it was unwise to have met Mr Epstein in December 2010. The Duke has not met with Mr Epstein since.”
    With regard to President Donald Trump, who socialized with Epstein in the 1990s and once described him as a “terrific guy” before the two, in Trump’s recollection, had a falling out 15 years ago, Giuffre distances Trump from Epstein’s alleged affairs.
    According to a transcript of a video deposition Giuffre gave in 2016, she disputed aspects of a 2011 story in the Daily Mail that was based on a series of interviews Giuffre had given to one of the reporters, Sharon Churcher.
    The story quotes Giuffre as saying: “Donald Trump was also a good friend of Jeffrey’s. He didn’t partake in sex with any of us but he flirted with me. He’d laugh and tell Jeffrey, ‘You’ve got the life.'”
    In the deposition, Giuffre says “it’s true that he didn’t partake in any sex with us, (but) it’s not true that he flirted with me. Donald Trump never flirted with me.” She also says her only basis for stating that Trump was a “good friend” was Epstein’s own description of his relationship with Trump.
    Asked whether she ever saw the two men together, Giuffre replies, “No, not that I can actually remember.” She also says she can’t recall ever having seen Trump at Epstein’s homes in the US Virgin Islands, New Mexico or New York.
      But she did not refute other details of the Daily Mail story, including that Epstein hosted a dinner on his Caribbean island for President Bill Clinton shortly after Clinton left office.
      Asked for comment, a spokesman for Clinton said he had never been to Little St. James, the island Epstein owns in the Caribbean. In July, in the wake of the indictment against Epstein, the spokesman, Angel Urena, acknowledged that Clinton had taken a handful of trips on Epstein’s plane, but said that “President Clinton knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York.”

      Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/10/us/epstein-court-documents-allegations/index.html

      Supermarket cat holds ‘book signing’

      Image copyright Book Guild
      Image caption Garfield, now 12, has been visiting the supermarket since 2012

      A cat that gained 5,000 Facebook followers after making a supermarket his second home has been “signing” copies of a book about his adventures.

      Ginger tom Garfield took a liking to Sainsbury’s in Ely, Cambridgeshire, after the store was built on his old stomping ground.

      The co-author Cate Caruth said copies of the book – What’s THAT doing There? – sold out in half an hour.

      Garfield “signed” his book in Ely Library with a paw-print stamp.

      It was modelled on his real paw.

      Garfield, now 12, first started visiting the store after it was built in 2012 on a meadow opposite the flat where he lives with owner David Willers.

      Image copyright Tali Iserles
      Image caption Garfield was “banned” from using the escalator to get to the rest of the supermarket

      His favourite spot was a sofa in the Virgin travel shop in Sainsbury’s lobby, and he often tries to get into people’s cars outside the store.

      Fans of the cat posted photos of him at the supermarket and at one point his owner had to ask people to stop feeding him as he was becoming fat.

      A Facebook page set up with photos of the cat in the supermarket has a following of more than 5,500 fans from places as far away as the United States, Canada, Australia and Russia.

      Image copyright Ginny Phillips
      Image caption A second print-run had to be done after the book sold out “within hours”, owner David Willers said

      A book of his adventures and misadventures has now been written by Mr Willers with Suffolk author Cate Caruth.

      The title – What’s THAT Doing There – refers to Garfield’s reaction when a fence was erected across his favourite meadow ahead of the supermarket being built.

      Image copyright Ginny Phillips
      Image caption Garfield was not happy when a shop was built on his favourite stomping ground
      Image copyright Ginny Phillips
      Image caption The book fictionalises a number of the cat’s adventures in the store
      Image copyright Cate Caruth
      Image caption A paw-print stamp was made for the book signing

      The book tells how Garfield was once banned from the store for scratching a customer who became a little too familiar – and many of his other adventures.

      In the book he is called Garfield Abercrombie Reginald Fergusson, but as that was “far too much like hard work… everyone just called him Garfy”.

      “It is a little familiar of people,” Garfy would always think, “but I suppose I can live with it,” he says in the first chapter.

      Image copyright Cate Caruth#
      Image caption Garfield took the book signing in “his stride” said co-author Cate Caruth
      Image copyright Cate Caruth
      Image caption Garfield was very relaxed during the book signing and “lapped up” the attention

      Speaking after the book signing on Saturday, author Ms Caruth said it was a “big hit.”

      “Garfield took it all in his stride, posing for photos with his fans and inspecting the library services with great care.

      “It was non-stop for two hours and we sold out of books in half an hour” she said.

      Image copyright David Willers
      Image caption Garfield’s proud owner has had a tattoo of his cat on his leg

      Related Topics

      Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-47567853

      What The Left Gets Wrong About Bernie Sanders And Elizabeth Warren

      Socialism is having a big moment in America. After a surge in popularity during the financial crisis of 2008, the long-verboten political label at last lost its toxicity after Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential run and the election of democratic socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in 2018. Among self-identified Democrats, socialism is now more popular than capitalism, reflecting a trend that has been evident among young voters for years.

      Bankers and billionaires are, of course, desperate to reverse this political tide. Eyeing the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, the CEO of one giant bank recently told Politico that the party’s nominee “can’t be Warren and it can’t be Sanders.” To plutocrat Michael Bloomberg, Sanders is a “demagogue” preaching “unreason,” while Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will transform the United States into a “non-capitalistic” system where “people are starving to death,” like “Venezuela.”

      The rhetoric from the 0.01 percent is more than a little overheated. But for most people, Warren and Sanders hail from the same left flank of the Democratic Party ― both are supporters of enacting Medicare for all, breaking up the banks and dramatically increasing taxes on the very wealthy.

      And yet in liberal and left-wing political discourse, the idea that Sanders and Warren are philosophical companions has become unfashionable. Jacobin, The New Republic, Splinter, BuzzFeed, The Week and The Guardian have all emphasized the supposedly critical ideological distinction between the two candidates: Sanders is an avowed socialist, while Warren wants to reform capitalism.

      “As soon as the next president takes office, they will likely face intense pressure from powerful interests, especially big business,” writes Zaid Jilani. “The choice between Warren and Sanders may very well determine if that president confronts those interests with careful reasoning and principled advocacy or the force of a mass movement.”

      “The two senators disagree over the best method to give the working classes a leg up,” according to David Dayen. “You can restructure markets so everyone benefits, or you can break down the market system, either eliminating the profit motive or giving everybody a public option.” For Jacobin founder Bhaskar Sunkara, Warren aims at “seeking to construct better policy but not an alternative politics,” rejecting “the class-struggle, worker-centric approach of Sanders.”

      For once, the big-brain intellectuals have it wrong, and the delusional, selfish plutocrats are right. Whatever Warren and Sanders say to establish their political brands, the two senators do in fact represent a very similar way of thinking about politics. That’s why billionaires hate them both.

      It’s true: You won’t find any videos of Warren singing “This Land Is Your Land” with a bunch of shirtless Soviets in the 1980s. And Sanders never slogged through troves of household bankruptcy data looking for the most common sources of middle-class financial strain. There are real differences between the two candidates (technically Bernie hasn’t announced yet). But these are differences of temperament, style and strategy. Sanders and Warren, in fact, see the world in very similar ways.

      The trouble for leftish intellectuals is a confusion over the terms “socialism” and “capitalism.” Both words are extremely flexible, and their meanings shift with political currents. In an American context, it has never been easy to distinguish between socialism and reformed capitalism ― and committed capitalists have denounced both with vigor. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was condemned as a socialist by congressional Republicans. In the 1940s, American conservatives viewed the social safety net in Britain and the Stalinist Soviet Union with almost equal alarm. By the 1950s, Herbert Hoover had concluded that the words “liberalism” and “socialism” really just meant the same thing.

      So, yes, Bernie Sanders has long been a champion of labor movements, protest marches and democratic socialism, while Elizabeth Warren is an academic wonk who talks about restoring competition to markets and making capitalism more accountable. But when it comes to their most detailed policies to date, both support an array of trust-busting, tougher regulation, wealth redistribution, public options and, where appropriate, nationalization.

      It depends on the problem they’re trying to solve. In practice, they end up supporting an awful lot of the same solutions. In addition to Medicare for all, breaking up the banks and taxing the rich, both Warren and Sanders are advocates of a federal job guarantee, postal banking and a bill making it easier for workers to unionize.  

      All of these proposals transfer money and power from the super-rich to the not-rich. Take postal banking. About 32.6 million households rely on a check-cashing service, payday lender or other expensive, small-dollar financial bottom-feeder at least once a year, according to the FDIC. On average, these households earn about $25,500 a year and spend nearly 10 percent of their income ― $2,412 ― on these sketchy financial products. That’s over $82 billion going from hard-up homes to predators every year. You can deal with payday lenders a lot of different ways: ban them, regulate them or, the preferred tack of Warren and Sanders, have the government make them obsolete. If every household can get a low-fee bank account with the Post Office, they won’t have to turn to legalized loan sharking to get by. That’s bad news for payday loan executives, like ACE Cash Express CEO Jay Shipowitz, who made almost $4.5 million in 2004 alone. Is postal banking socialism or reformed capitalism? Yes.

      In America today, the super-rich not only control an outrageous share of the national wealth, they also exercise a degree of political power incompatible with basic democratic principles. The choice for Democrats in 2020 is not really about policy minutia ― it’s about power ― who has it, and who doesn’t. And both Sanders and Warren have proved they are willing to confront the powerful and attack their sources of power. We can call this socialism, New Deal liberalism or Jeffersonian democracy ― whatever the label, it’s a critical ideological test for anyone who wants to be the next president of the United States.

      Running for re-election in 1936, FDR noted that the “economic royalists” of “business and financial monopoly, speculation” and “reckless banking” all counted themselves among his political “enemies.”

      “Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today,” Roosevelt said. “They are unanimous in their hate for me ― and I welcome their hatred.”

      For today’s Democrats, that’s the ticket.

      Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bernie-sanders-elizabeth-warren-left-wing-democrats_us_5c522b53e4b0ca92c6dd0ce6

      ‘Too few’ poor white university students

      Image copyright PA

      More than half of England’s universities have fewer than 5% of poor white students on their books, says an analysis of university entry figures.

      The report, from the National Education Opportunities Network (Neon), shows white students from deprived areas in low numbers in many top universities.

      There are 3% at the University of Oxford, compared with 28% at Teesside.

      The study says too few universities have clear targets to recruit white working-class students.

      Education Secretary Damian Hinds has previously warned of the risk of communities feeling “left behind”.

      The study, from an organisation promoting wider access into higher education, calls for a “national initiative” to tackle the educational underachievement of disadvantaged white youngsters across schools, colleges and universities.

      The university figures show the problem in recruiting white students from poorer backgrounds – and how many universities have very low proportions of them.

      It warns that fewer than a fifth of universities have targets for admitting more poor white students – and that there are only “variable” efforts to improve participation.

      Even if a target of 5% of poor white students were to be set across universities, it would mean another 10,000 students going to university, says the research.

      Missing out

      The study looks at white students from so-called “low-participation neighbourhoods” – areas where few people usually go to university.

      In total numbers, white students, of all social backgrounds, are the biggest group going to university, show figures from the Ucas admissions service.

      But in terms of a proportion of the population, white youngsters are less likely to go to university than Asian or black teenagers.

      The latest application figures, for courses in the autumn, show that applications from white students are declining, while they are increasing for Asian and black youngsters.

      Cutting across this is a widening gender divide – with women much more likely than men to apply to university.

      When these factors combine, it means that white, working-class men become among the most under-represented groups in university.

      The study says projects to widen entry into university might need to be “redefined”.

      Wide divide

      The report shows a starkly divided picture in where poor white students are likely to attend.

      They are particularly likely to take higher education courses in local further education colleges.

      Among those going to university, 70% go to new universities, with low numbers going to some high-ranking institutions.

      Image copyright Getty Images

      Cambridge has 2%, Warwick and Bristol 3%, Durham 4%.

      At University of Sunderland, 27% of acceptances are from white students from deprived areas and the figure is 22% in Staffordshire University.

      The numbers are particularly low in London universities – many of them 1% or 2%.

      But these figures might be affected by the high overall levels of young people in London going to university – much higher than elsewhere in England.

      ‘Left behind’

      Because of such high entry rates, even from deprived youngsters, there are relatively few “low-participation neighbourhoods” in London, or young people who would fall into this category.

      The high cost of living in London could also deter some poorer students from elsewhere from coming to study in the capital.

      Graeme Atherton, report co-author and director of Neon, warned of “big variability” in the chances of different groups to get to university.

      “We need to know more about why this variability exists and do more to eliminate it,” he said.

      A spokeswoman for Universities UK said that universities were “committed to widening access to higher education and ensuring the success of all their students, regardless of their background”.

      The spokeswoman for the universities’ organisation said that “18-year-olds from the most disadvantaged areas in England are more likely to go to university than ever before” – and that this could be further helped if the government restored “maintenance grants for those most in need”.

      Mr Hinds has highlighted the importance of supporting education in communities that might feel “left behind”.

      In a speech in the autumn, Mr Hinds said: “White British disadvantaged boys are the least likely of any large ethnic group to go to university.

      “We need to ask ourselves why that is and challenge government, universities and the wider system to change that.

      “It’s vital that we do this to make sure that no part of our country feels as though it has been left behind.”

      Related Topics

      Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-47227157

      The 2020 Cadillac XT6 is the brand’s next big thing

      (Cadillac)

      Cadillac is filling a big hole in its lineup with its first large crossover SUV.

      The XT6 will slot between the XT5 and Escalade when it goes on sale later this year, giving Caddy a direct challenger to vehicles like the Acura MDX, Infiniti Q60, Lincoln Aviator and Audi Q7.

      It’s part of the automaker’s shift away from cars towards utilities, and will essentially replace the CT6 and XTS full-size sedans in showrooms.

      (Cadillac)

      Related to the Chevrolet Traverse, the three-row XT6 is powered by a 310 hp 3.6-liter V6 engine matched to a 9-speed automatic transmission and either front- or all-wheel-drive. General Motors recently announced plans to put Cadillac on the forefront of its electric vehicle strategy, but the XT6 won’t be the model leading the charge.

      (Cadillac)

      The XT6 debuts a new look for Cadillac, with slim horizontal headlights that are reminiscent of the Escala concept of 2016. A long list of standard and optional electronic driver aids that includes an infrared night vision camera, fully-automatic parking and an adaptive cruise control system with stop and go capability.

      (Cadillac)

      It also gets the latest version of Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system, which pairs a touchscreen with a knob controller that can be jogged around like a joystick for added functionality. Power folding third-row seating is standard and each row gets two USB ports.

      With the XT6 and the recent introduction of the compact XT4, Cadillac is doubling the number of its utility offerings in showrooms.

      Pricing will be announced closer to when the order books open this spring, but its competitive starts in the $45,000 to $50,000 range.

      Read more: https://www.foxnews.com/auto/the-2020-cadillac-xt6-is-the-brands-next-big-thing

      All The Laws You Should Know About That Go Into Effect In 2019

      2019 will see the enactment of a slew of new laws across the country (in California alone, more than 1,000 will be added to the books). In some states, minimum wages will go up, guns will be harder to obtain, plastic straws will get the boot and hunters will get to wear pink for a change.

      Here are some of the noteworthy laws going into effect this year:

      Tighter gun restrictions in several states

      ASSOCIATED PRESS
      Following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last February, thousands of protesters across the nation demanded stricter gun control measures.

      In the wake of the shooting massacre at a Parkland, Florida, high school last year, California passed several measures to prevent domestic abusers and people with mental illness from obtaining guns. Californians who are involuntarily committed to a mental institution twice in a year, or who are convicted of certain domestic violence offenses, could face a lifetime gun ownership ban.

      Under an expanded Oregon law that went into effect on Jan. 1, domestic abuse offenders or people under restraining orders are banned from owning or purchasing a gun. In Illinois, authorities now have the right to seize firearms from people determined to be a danger to themselves or others. A similar “red flag” law will go into effect in New Jersey later this year.  

      At least six states — California, Washington, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois and Vermont — and the District of Columbia are raising the minimum age from 18 to 21 for the purchase of long guns this year, CNBC reported.

      Washington state will also be enforcing several other gun control measures, including enhanced background checks, secure gun storage laws and a requirement for gun purchasers to provide proof they’ve undergone firearm safety training.

      New ‘Me Too’ laws

      AP
      In 2018, the Me Too movement spurred many people to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and abuse — and prompted several states to pass new laws targeting sexual violence.

      Several states are taking aim at workplace sexual harassment. California has banned nondisclosure provisions in settlements involving claims of sexual assault, harassment or discrimination based on sex. California employers will also no longer be allowed to compel workers to sign nondisparagement agreements as a condition of employment or in exchange for a raise or bonus.

      By the end of 2019, publicly held corporations in the Golden State will also need to have at least one woman on their board of directors. Depending on the size of the board, corporations will need to increase that number to at least two or three female board members by the end of 2021.

      In New York, all employees will be required to complete annual sexual harassment prevention training. Larger businesses in Delaware will have to provide such training to their workers, and legislators and their staff in Virginia will need to undergo such training every year.

      Minimum wages get a boost 

      Though the federal minimum wage has languished at $7.25 since 2009, at least 19 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, New York and Washington, will be raising their minimum wages this year. Each will boost its minimum wage to at least $12. Some cities like New York, Seattle and Palo Alto, California, will see their wage floors increase to $15.

      So long straws and stirrers!

      ASSOCIATED PRESS
      Under a new California law, restaurant customers will have to explicitly ask for a plastic straw if they want to use one.

      As public awareness mounts of the hazards of plastic waste pollution, cities and states around the country have been targeting a major source of the problem: single-use plastic products like straws and food containers.

      A new law in New York City bars restaurants, stores and manufacturers from using most foam products, including takeout containers, cups and packing peanuts.

      Eateries in the District of Columbia are now prohibited from giving out single-use plastic straws and stirrers. In California, restaurant patrons will need to ask explicitly for a plastic straw if they want to use one. Restaurants can be fined $25 a day for serving beverages with plastic straws that aren’t requested by customers.

      Former felons in Florida can head to the voting booth

      ASSOCIATED PRESS
      In November, Florida voted to approve a ballot measure that enabled more than 1 million former felons to regain their voting rights.

      On Jan. 8, Florida will restore the voting rights of all former felons except those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense. Some 1.4 million possible voters will be added to the rolls — an addition that could have a significant effect on elections in the swing state.

      Utah implements strictest DUI law in the country

      Utah has lowered its blood alcohol content standard for drunk driving to 0.05 percent — the lowest limit in the country.

      Under the new law, a driver who exceeds that limit and causes the death of another person will be charged with criminal homicide, a felony offense.

      As CNN notes, all other U.S. states have a blood alcohol concentration limit of 0.08 percent for noncommercial drivers. Since at least 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board has been pushing to lower the limit to 0.05 nationwide. 

      Pets to get more rights in California

      Pets in California will no longer be treated by courts as physical property in divorce cases. Instead, judges can decide who gets custody of the family pet.

      Under a separate California law, pet stores will no longer be allowed to sell cats, dogs or rabbits that aren’t from animal shelters or nonprofit rescue groups. That law, which took effect on Jan. 1, also requires that store owners maintain proper documentation of the backgrounds of the dogs, cats and rabbits they sell.

      Hawaii legalizes physician-assisted suicide

      Hawaii’s new law allowing physician-assisted suicide took effect on Tuesday.

      Tobacco targeted in several states

      ASSOCIATED PRESS
      Some states and cities are taking aim at tobacco products this year.

      Smoking will be banned at all New Jersey public beaches and parks starting in July.

      In New York City, a new ordinance bans pharmacies from selling cigarettes and other tobacco products. And Massachusetts has raised the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.

      Nonbinary people can list their gender as ‘X’ in NYC

      People who identify as neither male nor female can now list their gender as “X” on birth certificates in New York City.

      New Jersey requires all residents to have health insurance

      A health insurance law in New Jersey that came into effect on Jan. 1 requires residents to maintain coverage or pay a penalty. It’s the second state in the country, after Massachusetts, to enact an individual health insurance mandate.

      Vermont is paying remote workers to move there

      In an effort to promote economic growth, Vermont has offered to pay some remote workers to relocate to the state.

      Qualified applicants can each apply for up to $10,000 in funding. The state has earmarked $500,000 for the initiative, The Associated Press reported.

      Hunters in Illinois can wear pink if they want to

      Not into the usual “blaze orange”? Hunters in Illinois can now wear equally eye-catching “blaze pink” under a new law.

      Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) said the new shade could be even more effective in helping hunters stand out.

      “[In the fall] we’re hunting in trees and in some fields, there are orange leaves. There is orange in the background, so it’s not always easy to see orange,” Rauner said, according to the Illinois News Network. “So we’re adding blaze pink to be one of the colors.”

      Ohio kids will soon be required to learn cursive

      In an age of text messaging and email, Ohio is attempting to keep the handwriting tradition of cursive alive. A new state law will require students to be able to write in cursive by the end of fifth grade. 

      Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/new-laws-2019-us_us_5c2c195fe4b0407e9085d41f

      Indiana governor says passing hate crime law ‘long overdue’

      FILE – In this Dec. 6, 2018 file photo Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb speaks about his agenda priorities for the upcoming legislative session, in Zionsville, Ind. Holcomb wants Indiana off a short list of five states that do not have a hate crimes law. But as the annual legislative session in this deeply conservative state nears, some caution that the debate could spiral into a bitter culture war. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings File)

      The spray-painting of a swastika outside a suburban Indianapolis synagogue this summer was the final straw for Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, who quickly called for Indiana to join the 45 states that have hate crime laws.

      “It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s long overdue,” Holcomb said Friday during an interview with The Associated Press. “I’m convinced the overwhelming majority of Hoosiers feel the same way.”

      As the annual legislative session draws near, though, some warn that such a proposal could spark a bitter cultural debate that would bring unwanted attention to the deeply conservative state, much like the 2015 religious objections law that critics widely panned as a sanctioning of discrimination against the LGBT community and that drew a stiff rebuke from big business.

      “If this is a big, knock-down, drag out, ‘RFRA-esque’ discussion, it is not going to help anyone,” said House Speaker Brian Bosma, using an acronym for 2015’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was signed into law by Vice President Mike Pence when he was Indiana governor. “We need to do it in such a way that’s not a net negative and brings undue attention to our state.”

      Bosma would know. The Indianapolis Republican helped shepherd a bill to “fix” the law through the Statehouse — steps that were taken only after businesses protested, groups vowed a boycott and the state was lampooned on late-night TV.

      An overwhelming majority of states have hate crime laws, which vary to some degree but generally allow for stiffer sentences to be given to people who are convicted of crimes motivated by hatred or bias. Only Indiana, Georgia, South Carolina, Wyoming and Arkansas do not.

      What remains to be seen is what sort of law might be palatable to Indiana legislators — whether it would be open-ended and general or whether it would specify characteristics that would be covered, such as race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity, which is what Holcomb wants.

      While many business leaders support the governor’s call for a hate crime law and view the absence of one as a sign of intolerance, many religious conservatives, including some rank-and-file legislators, see it as an unnecessary exercise that could lead to other unwanted social changes.

      For years, they’ve stymied efforts to put a hate crime law on the books, arguing that judges can already consider factors such as bias when determining sentences.

      “Nobody is for hate crime, but it’s a Pandora’s box,” said Ron Johnson, who leads the Indiana Pastors Alliance and believes Christians are persecuted by gay rights supporters. “It opens the door to all the rest of this craziness that we are seeing.”

      Some conservatives argue that adopting a hate crime law would create a “protected” class of citizen and grant additional acceptance to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

      Another common refrain among lawmakers who oppose the idea is that it would target “thought crime.” All crimes are bad, they say, regardless of what motivates them.

      Holcomb says “nothing could be further from the truth.”

      “You want to have a moronic thought … that’s your right,” he said. “But when it becomes a criminal action, you’ve crossed the line.”

      For those who have received intimidating threats driven by hatred or bias, the issue is far less abstract than many critics portray.

      Across the U.S., the number of reported hate crimes increased by about 17 percent in 2017, according to the FBI. In Indiana, the number has fluctuated in recent decades, ranging from about 40 to over 100 crimes per year that would fit the description.

      But those figures depend on how law enforcement agencies categorize crime, which can be subjective, and how many of them report their statistics to the FBI, which can fluctuate.

      Indiana has a complicated history when it comes to prejudice and bigotry. The state was a stop along the Underground Railroad, but in the 1920s, local politics was dominated by the Ku Klux Klan, with some estimates indicating that one-quarter of the native-born white men were members.

      In the 1960s, Indiana-born author and diplomat John Bartlow Martin described the state in a memo to Robert Kennedy as “suspicious of foreign entanglements, conservative in fiscal matters, and with a strong overlay of Southern segregationist sentiment,” according to Indiana historian Ray Boomhower.

      Aside from the synagogue vandalism that prompted Holcomb to publicly call for a hate crime law, activists say graffiti swastikas have been appearing in more public places. Last year, a man pleaded guilty to battery after authorities say he attacked a woman in Bloomington while shouting racial slurs and trying to remove her headscarf.

      And Matthew Heimbach, of Paoli, has become a prominent figure in the white nationalist movement, once spearheading a group that described itself as “fighting to secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

      David Sklar, assistant director of the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, said the only reason anyone should worry about a hate crime law “is if you are a criminal.”

      “Will passing a hate crime statute ultimately stop a hate crime from happening? Chances are probably not,” Sklar said. “But it is equally important to make sure that a person receives the right amount of jail time and for the state to say, ‘We will not tolerate these things and we will make our laws reflect that.'”

      Read more: https://www.foxnews.com/us/indiana-governor-says-passing-hate-crime-law-long-overdue

      This CEO thinks it’s crazy to work more than 40 hours a week

      If you didn’t know better, you’d think Jason Fried is more of a slacker than a CEO.

      Despite this — or rather, he would say,because of it — Fried has run a very profitable and growing business for two decades.
      He cofounded Basecamp (formerly 37 Signals), which offers a web-based project management tool that lets all team members seethe same information, documents, deadlines, assignments and updates. It helps dispense with unwieldy email chains, interruptions and status update meetings.
        Fried, who just had his second child, alsohas found the time to write a few critically acclaimed books.
        The latest is called “It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work,” which The Economist said is “the best thing on management published this year.”
        In it, he and coauthor David HeinemeierHansson, also a Basecamp cofounder, call BS on workaholic managers and owners, even if they pay lip service to their employees’ need to have a life.
        “Workaholism is a contagious disease. You can’t stop the spread if you’re the one bringing it into the office,” they write.
        They reject the concept of company as “family” andthe rallying cry of “whatever it takes” for anything other than a true work emergency.
        CNN asked Fried about his work philosophy and what family life has taught him about business.

        What do you say to business owners who worry that adopting your approach would just mean they’d get beaten by the competition?

        I’d say why would you think that? I’d say if you’re not getting enough sleep, enough rest, and enough perspective from other things in your life besides work, you’ll just be beating yourself.
        If the only way to beat the competition is to outwork them, well there are only 24 hours in the day anyway. If you can work them all, so can someone else.
        The competition doesn’t beat you, and you don’t beat them, by working more hours or forgoing more sleep. You do well by making smart decisions, being strategic about what you say yes and no to, and understanding your customer better than anyone else.
        Treating people well, keeping employees happy, and creating an environment where people can do their best work is yet another thing you’re in control of that’ll help you do well.
        Plenty of people have worked themselves to the bone with nothing to show for it. It’s not more work that’ll get you ahead, it’s the right work on the right things the right way.

        What penalty is there for someone who works too many hours at Basecamp?

        There’s no formal penalty, but we’ll kindly remind them that no one expects, or wants them to be putting in more than 40 hours a week.
        We’ll ask them why they feel like they need to put in more hours than that and then help them remove the nonessential things from their day so they don’t feel like they have to work longer than they should.
        There’s nothing in anyone’s best interest in working longer than necessary, and an 8-hour day is plenty of time to do great work.

        Who offered you the most helpful advice on business and life?

        I listen to a lot of people, absorb a lot of things, and am influenced by all sorts of approaches. But as far as business goes, my father’s advice is the best I’ve ever gotten: “No one went broke taking a profit.”
        I’ve held this close to my chest and make sure Basecamp, my company, has been profitable since our first year. Next year marks our 20th year in business — all 19 so far have been profitable.

        What has marriage and parenthood taught you about work?

        That eight hours is plenty of time for work! That life outside of work is incredibly rich and rewarding. Why would I ever want to squander that kind of time to put in another unnecessary hour at the office?
        Being a parent is also the best crash course on time management and figuring out what’s truly important in life.

        What do you know today that you wish you knew in your 20s?

        That most things you worry about aren’t worth worrying about.

        How many hours of sleep do you get?

        Right now between seven and eight. I aim for eight, but we just had our second baby so nights are a bit tough at the moment.
        The book “Why We Sleep” has really impressed upon me that sleep is the most important thing you can do to improve every aspect of your life. I highly recommend reading it.

        How much vacation do you take a year?

        About three weeks in total. But over the summer months (May through September) everyone at Basecamp works four-day weeks, so we all have three-day weekends for a few months. So add those days in as well and we all get an extra dose of time off.

          What’s your favorite podcast and why?

          Currently, “The Peter Attia Drive”. I’ve always been fascinated with medicine. I really enjoy his take on things, his clarity, the brilliant guests he has on, and how out of my depth it all is.

          Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/06/success/jason-fried-basecamp-work/index.html

          House Democrats promise action on LGBTQ rights bill

          FILE – In this Sept. 6, 2018, file photo. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Just ahead of a midterm election they hope will deliver them a majority, House Democrats are promising to prioritize anti-discrimination legislation that would for the first time establish widespread equal rights protections for LGBTQ individuals. Pelosi says she will introduce the Equality Act as one of her first orders of business if Democrats retake the House in November. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

          Just days ahead of a midterm election they hope will deliver them a majority, House Democrats are promising to prioritize anti-discrimination legislation that would for the first time establish widespread equal rights protections for LGBTQ individuals.

          Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recently said she would introduce the Equality Act as one of her first orders of business if Democrats retake the House in November. Pelosi made the announcement at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, telling the crowd the issue of equal rights for the LGBTQ community is “personal.”

          The 1964 Civil Rights Act already bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. The Equality Act, if passed, would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the law and expand those protections beyond the workplace. It would outlaw gender discrimination in places like restaurants and retail shops, in seeking housing, using health care and social services, applying for a loan or participating in the jury selection process.

          About 20 states and the District of Columbia currently have local gender and sex non-discrimination laws on the books.

          The House bill has 198 co-sponsors, including two Republicans. But no Senate Republicans have signed on, and social conservatives oppose the legislation. And even if the bill cleared Congress, it would still have to be signed by President Donald Trump, who has aligned himself closely with religious conservatives.

          Still, Democrats plan to move forward with the bill if they win the House majority, teeing up a test of the GOP’s willingness to block it.

          Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said the legislation will be given a low bill number, meaning it would be among the first pieces of legislation to be introduced. Hammill described such a designation as “a place of honor.”

          The Equality Act is a far-reaching piece of legislation, decades in the works, that would safeguard the LGBTQ community against discrimination and bias. It was introduced in both chambers of Congress in 2015, where it died in committee, and reintroduced in 2017, but has not been voted on.

          “This is a very simple proposition,” said Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., the lead sponsor of the bill in the House.

          “We have a long history in our country of prohibiting discrimination and promoting equality. It’s the founding principle of our country, and I believe the vast majority of people in our country think discrimination is wrong. In many ways Congress has to catch up to where the American people are.”

          A narrower bill to bar gender discrimination in the workplace, called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, passed the Senate in 2013 with 64 votes, including 10 Republicans. But then-House Speaker John Boehner, a vocal opponent, opted not to bring it to a floor vote.

          Even if the Equality Act were to pass a Democratic House, its future in the Senate — where 60 votes are typically needed to advance legislation — would be uncertain.

          Some of the Republican senators who supported ENDA are out of office or will be come January. Five remain in Congress now: Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Rob Portman of Ohio, Dean Heller of Nevada, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who recently bucked her party to become the only Republican to vote against the controversial confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

          Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., the main sponsor of the Equality Act in the Senate, said he’s optimistic that shifting public attitudes on gay rights will propel the bill forward. He noted that in 2015, two years after ENDA stalled in Congress, the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide.

          “This is what we need to accomplish. It is way past time to end discrimination across the board,” Merkley said. “I find it astounding that here we are in a situation where you can now take your marriage certificate from state to state, but if you travel with your partner, in one you’re treated as a citizen with full rights, and in the next, you’re treated as a second-class citizen.”

          Merkley said soon after the midterm election he’ll begin reaching out to Republican senators to discuss the legislation. But so far they’ve been hard to convince: All 47 sponsors of the Senate bill are Democrats.

          He sees one big sticking point for gaining Republican support: A provision in the bill forbids any employer or retailer from using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed in 1993, to justify withholding services based on gender or sexual orientation. The law, which received bipartisan support, barred the government from interfering with the rights of religious practitioners. But more recently the law has been used to protect the rights of business owners to refuse service based on religious beliefs. In one 2014 case, the Supreme Court found that chain craft store Hobby Lobby, founded by religious evangelicals, didn’t have to provide its employees with contraception coverage for religious reasons.

          The Trump administration has pursued policies in line with that law when taking steps to roll back protections for LGBTQ individuals, including rescinding guidance for schools on how to treat transgender students and attempting to bar transgender individuals from serving in the military. The administration is also considering a proposal to limit the definition of gender to include only one’s sex at birth, according to The New York Times, prompting outrage from LGBTQ advocates.

          Religious and conservative organizations have been vocal in their opposition to the Equality Act.

          Mary Beth Waddell, senior legislative assistant for conservative group Family Research Council, likened it to government-sanctioned discrimination against religious people.

          “The current law in civil rights and the protected classes are inborn and unchangeable characteristics like race, ethnicity, national origin, age, sex, etc., and religion, which is expressly protected under the constitution,” Waddell said. “What the Equality Act does is it turns it on its head and allow the government to impose a belief system about sexual decisions and sexual behaviors on the nation.”

          Waddell said if the bill comes up for a vote, the group will “certainly be part of the opposition.”

          One advantage for supporters of the Equality Act is that it has overwhelming support from the business community. Since it was first introduced, major corporations including Apple, Dow Chemical Company, Amazon, General Electric Co. and more than 100 others have signed on to endorse its passage.

          “Unlike virtually any other omnibus civil rights bill, the Equality Act had corporate support from the day of introduction,” said Deena Fidas, director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Workplace Equality Program.

          Read more: https://www.foxnews.com/us/house-democrats-promise-action-on-lgbtq-rights-bill