We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Earthquake in Italy Takes Hundreds of Lives
A major earthquake struck the mountainous regions of Umbria and the Marche in central Italy earlier this week, with a death toll of more than 240 and an unknown number of survivors still buried in the rubble. The rescue mission, aided by the Italian army, was made even more difficult by a violent aftershock yesterday, which caused further damage to already ruined hilltop towns such as Amatrice. Our thoughts go out to all those affected by this disaster, especially those who are mourning the loss of their loved ones. —Sophie Caldecott
French ‘Burkini Ban’ Is Being Enforced
On Tuesday evening photos emerged of French law enforcement officers enforcing a new burkini ban at a beach in Nice. Four armed police officers appeared to approach a woman who was resting on the beach and ask her to remove her garments. Nice is one of about a dozen cities in France that have banned the full-body bathing suits that were designed to accommodate Islamic modesty codes. The images were disturbing, to say the least.
Although the ban is being heavily criticized as Islamophobic, the New York Times reports that the ban has affected women wearing a wide range of clothing, not just burkinis. It's painful to see this kind of policing of women's body and clothing choices to dress as they wish at the beach. I hope the negative public response will prompt French officials to change their position on full-coverage beachwear. —Emily Mae Schmid
Sun Sets on the Summer Olympics
Team USA Men's and Women's Basketball take home gold. It was the men's third gold medal in a row while the women took home an incredible sixth consecutive gold medal. Highlights from throughout the Olympic basketball tournament can be found here.
The Brazilian men's soccer team won its first Olympic gold medal in a fashion that couldn't have been more of a fairy tale ending if it were scripted. Playing against the top-seeded German team at home in Rio, the teams were tied after regulation time and after two overtimes. This set up a PK shoot-out. After each making their first four (out of five) PKs, the last German player sent his into the hands of the Brazilian goalie, setting up Brazil-native soccer superstar Neymar Jr. to score the winning goal. He made it and the entire country celebrated winning the medal they had their hearts set on since the Rio Olympics were announced.
Simone Biles carried the flag for Team USA in the closing ceremony. The gymnast was selected by her Team USA teammates to represent the United States in the ceremony. She was excited and honored but also expressed concern that the flag would be too big (Biles is 4'8"). Watch highlights from the closing ceremony here. —EMS
Ryan Lochte Gets Humbled Before Taking Center Stage
Ryan Lochte finally apologized for his "immature" behavior in Rio (see last week's WYWO). But it wasn't enough to save him from losing four major endorsement contracts in one day. The disgraced swimmer spoke to NBC's Matt Lauer to explain why he "over-exaggerated" some events from the previous weekend in Rio and to "accept full responsibility" for both how he acted on the night in question and how he spoke about it to the media throughout the week. At no point did Lochte admit to lying, but at least he apologized for his behavior. Following the interview, four companies including Speedo and Ralph Lauren dumped their sponsorships of Lochte. He does have something to look forward to, though: This week it was announced that he will participate in the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars. The show will have its premiere on September 12 on ABC. —EMS
Leslie Jones Is Attacked by Hackers
Ghostbusters and SNL star Leslie Jones had to shut down her website yesterday after it was hacked. The hacker posted nude photos allegedly stolen from her iCloud account (cue pop culture flashbacks to 2014), along with images of the gorilla Harambe, who was killed earlier this year after an incident at the Cincinnati Zoo. This hack comes hot on the heels of the harassment that all the female stars of the Ghostbusters remake received via social media earlier this summer. Jones, however, was subject to such cruel harassment that she deleted her Twitter account, leading to Twitter's CEO banning the user who rallied harassers against Jones.
People have now taken to Twitter using #StandWithLeslie in support of the comedian, including musicians Katy Perry and Sara Bareilles, condemning the "misplaced sadness and anger" of the hackers and trolls. —SC
World’s Highest-Paid Actresses Get Recognition
Despite the revelation that she was being paid significantly less than her male colleagues in the past, Jennifer Lawrence has topped Forbes' World's Highest-Paid Actresses List for the second year running. With her total earnings over the past year at $46 million pre-tax, she was followed by actress Melissa McCarthy, in second place with $33 million. As Forbes reports, "In an industry where a pay gap with male actors still exists, 90 percent of the world’s highest-paid actresses supplement their on-screen earnings with endorsements." Melissa McCarthy, for example, founded an "all-sizes" clothing line last year, explaining how she wanted to break down the lines between "plus-size" and "normal-size" clothing. “I started to think if I could do anything to build women up rather than the constant tear down I’m going to do it,” McCarthy said. I don't know about you, but I'm inspired by these ladies and their entrepreneurial, empowering spirit. —SC
Elizabeth Smart Speaks on Porn
This week Elizabeth Smart, who made national news stories in 2002 after being kidnapped at age 14 from her home and abused in captivity for nine months, spoke out on a topic that she feels strongly about. Pornography, Smart says in a powerful five-minute video, played a big role in making her “living hell worse.” Smart’s testimony echoes findings from researchers who have found connections between frequent porn use and addictive tendencies, a need for more and more extreme content, and desensitization to sexual assault. We applaud Smart for raising her voice, sharing her story, and helping others avoid what she experienced. —Mary Rose Somarriba
University of Chicago Announces It Will Not Censor Ideas
In a welcome letter to the incoming class of 2020, University of Chicago dean of students John Ellison announced this week that the school would not be banning ideas from being expressed on campus in an effort to minimize controversy. “Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called 'trigger warnings,' we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual 'safe spaces' where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own."
Ellison’s words are definitely controversial in their own right. Last year Oklahoma Wesleyan University president Dr. Everett Piper made headlines when he stated his commitment to sharing a variety of ideas even if they cause people to feel discomfort or disagreement. “This is not a day care. It’s a university,” Piper had said. Seeing Ellison at the University of Chicago pen similar words this week is telling. "Members of our community are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn, without fear of censorship," Ellison writes. "At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort." —MRS
Britney Spears Biopic Is on the Way
Britney Spears has her own biopic coming out, Lifetime announced this week just before today's release of her new album Glory. The film simply billed as Britney is being written by Anne-Marie Hess and directed by Leslie Libman and is due out in 2017. But Spears will not be contributing to the film “in any way, shape or form . . . nor does it have her blessing,” a representative for Spears told Entertainment Weekly. I, for one, prefer to watch how Spears chooses to portray herself in her own reinvention and, to that end, will be tuning in this Sunday to see her perform at the MTV Video Music Awards instead. —MRS