We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—Verily quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Taylor Swift Was Allegedly Told She Can No Longer Perform Her Early Music
Taylor Swift is in a continuing dispute about whether or not she has the legal right to use and perform her early music. Swift moved to Universal Music Group after her 2017 Reputation album. Meanwhile, Big Machine Group, Swift’s first record label, was recently acquired from founder Scott Borchetta by music manager Scooter Braun. Earlier this year, Taylor Swift took to Tumblr to decry the purchase, leading to a response from Borchetta who claimed that Swift was given every opportunity to earn back her masters through a new deal with the label. Swift continues to fight back, leading to an ongoing conversation about master recordings and artists' rights.
Now, Swift says she was planning to use all of her music at the upcoming American Music Awards, where she will be named Artist of the Decade, as well as in an upcoming Netflix documentary."I've been planning to perform a medley of my hits throughout the decade on the show. Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun have now said that I'm not allowed to perform my old songs on television because they claim that would be re-recording my music before I'm allowed to next year," Swift wrote. She claims Braun and Borchetta told her she cannot re-record any of her early songs, something the singer says she was looking forward to ahead of her AMA performance. Swift said she was also told to stop talking about Braun and Borchetta.
"The message being sent to me is very clear,” Swift said. “Basically, be a good little girl and shut up. Or you'll be punished."
Big Machine Label denied this with a statement to CNN: "Taylor, the narrative you have created does not exist. All we ask is to have a direct and honest conversation . . . We share the collective goal of giving your fans the entertainment they both want and deserve."
Swift said she shared her story to raise awareness and prevent other artists from falling into similar situations. If her allegations are true, it’s alarming to think big-name producers are still using threatening tactics to keep opposing voices quiet. As this legal issue continues to unfold, we’ll keep our eyes peeled. —Krysta Scripter
Flavored E-Cigarettes off the Chopping Block
Months after proposing a ban on most flavored e-cigarettes, the Trump administration has reportedly put the breaks on the proposal.
A growing storm has been brewing over the public health implications of vaping, which has recently exploded in popularity. A spike in teenaged users, in particular, has caused concern, and an outbreak of deadly lung illnesses linked to vaping the chemical THC has only added fuel to the fire.
In September, President Trump responded with a dramatic Oval Office announcement signaling his desire to ban the flavored cigarettes that have proved particularly attractive to millions of kids. Juul Labs, the brand that dominates the e-cigarette market in the United States, stopped selling most of its flavored products in anticipation of that federal ban. The company had said its top-selling flavor was mint.
Reports this week, however, indicate that political considerations have convinced administration officials to proceed more slowly with any regulations. Internal polling seemed to suggest that some of Mr. Trump's supporters would respond poorly to the ban, particularly in battleground states. On November 11, Mr. Trump tweeted, “Will be meeting with representatives of the Vaping industry, together with medical professionals and individual state representatives, to come up with an acceptable solution to the Vaping and E-cigarette dilemma. Children's health & safety, together with jobs, will be a focus!” —Margaret Brady
Duchess Kate and Mary Berry Are Working on a Christmas Show
Fans of The Great British Bake Off may have a sweet treat to look forward to this holiday season: reports say the show's former star, culinary queen Mary Berry, will be teaming up with the Duchess of Cambridge to produce a Christmas special for the BBC.
Sources say the show will feature a feast for non-profit employees who have to work over the holidays, thus combining Kate and Mary's main interests of charity work and tasty cooking, respectively.
For those who may not be familiar with 84-year-old Mary Berry, the popular television host wrote a best-selling recipe book called Baking Bible, and she has an iPhone app called “Mary Berry: In Mary We Trust.” She has spoken about getting her start and leaving home to study cooking in France. She stayed with a large French family and cried through her first meal, horse meat, because she was reminded of the pony she left behind in England.
Since Mary is also known as the “Queen of Cakes,” it's fitting that she will be paired with the future Queen of England, the former Kate Middleton. The BBC's viewers will certainly be royally entertained! —MB
Baltimore Museum Will Acquire Only Woman-Made Art in 2020
The Baltimore Museum of Art has announced that as part of its “2020 Vision” initiative, it will devote next year entirely to collecting art created by women. The “2020 Vision” program celebrates the one hundredth anniversary of the passage of the nineteenth amendment, which authorized women's suffrage.
The requirement to be woman-made will apply to artwork purchased by the museum, as well as to any donations.
Earlier this year, the BMA began selling artwork by legendary male artists like Andy Warhol in order to provide funds to acquire work by women. The process of removing these pieces, called “deaccession,” is not without controversy. “The use of deaccession is a violation that goes right to the heart, trust, and credibility of a museum's mission and obligation to preserve and protect art history,” one commenter wrote in the Baltimore Sun. Supporters point out that the BMA has 95 thousand works in its collection and less than 4 thousand were created by women, a striking imbalance that the museum director, Christopher Bedford, is trying to rectify with these dramatic measures.
Although diversity and gender imbalance has been a hot topic in the art world for some time, the curation practices of museums overall have not followed suit. In fact, reports indicate fewer pieces by women are being acquired now than ten years ago. —MB
"Meth. We’re on It": South Dakota’s Anti-Meth Campaign Prompts Ridicule, Controversy
South Dakota is taking aggressive measures to bring much-needed awareness to their state’s widespread and growing methamphetamine addiction epidemic. Having just released a new campaign on Monday, they now face blowback from social media users who disapprove of the campaign’s tagline. Unveiled on the new state website, the campaign features healthy, wholesome South Dakotans engaged in cozy, everyday activities who pronounce, in a movement of solidarity, “Meth. I'm on it.”
Many find the double meaning to be in poor taste, leading to considerable online controversy. South Dakota’s governor Kristi Noem (R), for her part, addressed the buzz via Twitter, stating that “the whole point of this ad campaign is to raise awareness. So I think that’s working.”
Indeed, Governor Noem has voiced deep concern over what she calls an “escalating meth crisis” since she took office last year and has been determined to find ways to bring widespread attention to the devastating problem. The pricey campaign, with its controversial tagline, has certainly succeeded in that crucial aspect. Not only are South Dakotans talking about their state’s drug problem, but the whole nation is, too.
Meth isn’t just South Dakota’s problem, either. States such as Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, and others also struggle to cope with the drug’s devastating effects despite the fact that over a decade ago Congress passed laws that made making the drug a considerably more difficult process. Regardless, states are seeing a truly alarming resurgence in use.
People are talking—a lot—about South Dakota’s polarizing campaign. Whether they love or hate it, the scourge of meth addiction is now forefront in their minds. —Mariel Lindsay
James Van Der Beek Announces Miscarriage, Almost Dropped Out of "Dancing with the Stars"
Dawson's Creek star James Van Der Beek revealed Monday on Instagram that he and his wife, Kimberly, have suffered the loss of their sixth child, a month after announcing the pregnancy.
Van Der Beek was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars and spoke about the miscarriage during the show as well. “My wife Kimberly and I went through every expecting parent's worst nightmare. We lost the baby. The little soul that we had expected to welcome into our family took a shortcut to whatever lies beyond,” he said, weeping.
“You never know why these things happen, that's what I've been telling my kids. All you know is that it brings you closer together, it breaks you open, it opens up your heart, it deepens your appreciation. It makes you more human.” He also shared that his wife urged him to continue with DWTS, in spite of his plan to drop out.
In the end, Van Der Beek was eliminated in the semi-final round, which excluded him from competing in the DWTS finale, which airs next week. The other dancers and show hosts were emotional as the scores were announced. We are so sorry that the Van Der Beek family is experiencing this painful chapter in their story and hope they will experience healing and peace. —MB
Fresno Backyard Shooting Leaves Four Dead and Six Injured
Sunday night, gunmen opened fire on a backyard family gathering in Fresno, CA, killing four and injuring six. The family was gathered in the yard of a private residence for a football-viewing party. At this time, the motive is unknown, as well as the number of gunmen. All of the victims are ethnic Hmong, part of a large community of refugees that fled from Vietnam and Laos in the 1970s. Police believe that this was not a random act and are looking into possible Asian gang affiliation.
Sadly, this is just one of several shootings that have taken place in California over the last several weeks. Thursday of las, a 16-year-old shooter opened fire at his high school in Santa Clarita, shooting five students, two of whom later died, and then shooting himself. Authorities have yet to find a motive in this case as well, and friends, fellow students, and family members have all expressed shock that the shooter, who was an honors student, had a girlfriend, and seemed to have a stable life, would commit such a terrible act. Two other shootings occurred, during two separate Halloween parties, one in a suburb of San Francisco and another in Long Beach. In total, California is mourning 14 deaths from mass shootings over the last several weeks. —Gabriella Patti
Prison Guards Indicted for Negligence in Relation to the Death of Jeffery Epstein
Two prison guards on duty the night that Jeffery Epstein committed suicide in his Manhattan prison cell have been indicted for allegedly skipping 75 mandatory prisoner checks and falsifying records to cover their tracks. The two guards Michael Thomas and Tova Noel were seen on video surveillance footage shopping online and napping. Meanwhile, Epstein remained in his cell, unobserved for eight hours, even though the guards are required to check on each prisoner twice every hour. Epstein's body was discovered at 6:30 a.m. the following morning.
The guards pled not guilty to the charges and were released on bond. The investigation into Epstein's death and the negligence of the guards has undercut the conspiracy theory that Epstein did not die by suicide and was in fact killed by someone else. Epstein was a high-risk prisoner, as he had previously tried to commit suicide. He was taken off of suicide watch shortly before his death. Jose Rojas, a union representative for Federal Bureau of Prisons officers told NPR "that the two guards are being scapegoated for much deeper systemic problems dealing with the chronic understaffing of federal detention facilities."
Epstein was in prison awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. He has been accused of sex trafficking and sexual assault by dozens of women, with the most recent accusation occurring this past week by a woman who claims to have been raped by Epstein at age 15. —GP
Emilia Clarke Says She Has Been Pressured to Do Nude Scenes
Actress Emilia Clarke opened up on Dax Shepard’s podcast "Armchair Expert" about how she has felt pressured to do nude scenes for projects following her nude appearances in Game of Thrones. She said that she has had to learn how to stand up for herself as many people have tried to pressure her to do nude scenes, even using the possibility of disappointing her GOT fans as leverage. Clarke said that it took a lot of convincing for her to appear nude on-screen for GOT. Although Clarke claims that she learned to set her own rules for how much her naked body could be shown on-screen, as we have written at Verily in the past, nudity is not as empowering as society would have us believe, even if we set our own rules for how and when it takes place. —GP
Good News of the Week
Nash Stineman’s parents were told by doctors that their son would not live past his second birthday, but Nash made it to his third birthday, and his town threw a parade in his honor to celebrate. Nash was diagnosed with a rare neuromuscular disease known as SMARD, or spinal muscular atrophy with respiratory distress at 11 months old. There is no cure or treatment. Nash’s weakened immune system means that he can’t be around many people, so a typical birthday party is out of the question for him. In response, the community of the Chicago suburb where the Stineman’s live threw him a parade. The parade lasted over an hour with more than a hundred vehicles of all kinds driving down Nash’s neighborhood street. Instead of throwing candy, the parade-goers threw banana pudding, the only food that Nash can eat by mouth. "The one missing piece of his life has been social interaction," Nash’s mother told CNN. "He can't be around people that much, and yesterday, I felt like that missing piece was filled."—GP
Watch of the Week
A woman was caught on camera rescuing a koala from an Australian bushfire. The koala is being treated for serious burns and the woman has since been reunited with her furry friend.
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