We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—Verily's quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Kanye West faces continuing fallout after antisemitic comments
Kanye West has been facing a very public fallout after making antisemitic comments on Twitter and on the Revolt TV’s “Drink Champs” podcast series (the interview has since been pulled). Over the last month, West has repeatedly made derogatory statements blaming the “Jewish media” and the “Jewish underground media mafia” for various misdeeds. West claimed his life was threatened by his Jewish managers, lawyer, and accountant due to his political beliefs.
West—who legally changed his name to “Ye” this year—said he was “#MeToo-ing the Jewish culture. I’m saying y’all gotta stand up and admit to what you been doing.” West also said that Black people cannot be antisemitic, stating, “we are Semite, we Jew, so I can’t be antisemite.”
Antisemitic groups have since referenced West’s comments, including a group that hung a banner over a Los Angeles freeway Saturday, that read, “Kanye is right about the Jews.”
West’s public downfall began weeks ago, during Paris Fashion Week in early October, where he debuted clothing with the phrase “White Lives Matter.” West went on Instagram to attack Vogue editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, who attended the show and subsequently criticized it. West was briefly banned from Instagram and Twitter for his inflammatory, antisemitic remarks, including one in which he said he would go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.” He was later interviewed by Tucker Carlson on Fox News, during which he claimed that there were child actors in his home to manipulate his children, among other bizarre remarks.
West has a history of mental illness after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2016. He has been open about experiencing manic episodes and not taking medication, claiming it altered who he was and stunted his creative process.
Although West has long been a controversial figure, this is the first time that his erratic actions have led to significant public consequences. As a result of his antisemitic statements, West was dropped from his talent agency, and major companies have cut ties with the rapper and fashion designer, including Balenciaga and, perhaps most significantly, the shoe company Adidas which has sold sneakers from West’s brand Yeezy since 2015.
"Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech," the company said. "Ye's recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company's values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness."
Additionally, West was disavowed by Vogue (he had a long-time friendship with editor-in-chief Anna Wintour), Peloton banned his music, and Madame Tussauds took his wax likeness off display. Multiple companies have ceased the sale of Yeezy products, including Gap and Foot Locker. Following Adidas’s announcement to drop Yeezys, Forbes reported that West’s net worth had fallen, and he had lost his billionaire status.
West’s Donda Academy has been impacted by the fallout as well. Donda Academy, named for West’s late mother, is an unaccredited Christian private school founded by West this year. The yearly tuition is $15,000, and parents are required to sign a nondisclosure agreement. On Wednesday, Donda Academy parents were informed via email that the school would be closed “effective immediately” for the remainder of the school year.
As companies, brands and fellow celebrities continue to disavow West, the rapper has returned to Instagram and begun posting again, including a poem that read, “ I LOST 2 BILLION DOLLARS IN ONE DAY / AND IM STILL ALIVE ….THE MONEY IS NOT WHO I AM / THE PEOPLE IS WHO I AM.” —Gabriella Patti
Rishi Sunak becomes UK’s Prime Minister
Rishi Sunak, Britain’s former finance minister, officially became the UK’s third prime minister in under two months after Liz Truss resigned on Thursday after only 44 days in office. Sunak will be Britain’s first person of color and the first Hindu to become prime minister. He is also the youngest leader of the British government in more than 200 years.
Sunak ran against and lost to Truss in September; however, when he ran again following Truss’s resignation, he quickly racked up the necessary support to assume the position. Sunak also publicly criticized Truss’s financial plan calling it a “fairytale.” Ultimately, Truss’s failed tax-cutting mini-budget is what led to her resignation.
In his first speech as prime minister, Sunak both honored and criticized Truss.
“I admired her restlessness to create change. But some mistakes were made. Not borne of ill will or bad intentions. Quite the opposite, in fact, but mistakes nonetheless,” he said. “And I have been elected as leader of my party, and your prime minister in part, to fix them. And that work begins immediately.” —GP
Elon Musk officially acquires Twitter
As of Thursday, Elon Musk officially owns Twitter after months of uncertainty. In April, Twitter accepted Musk’s offer to buy the company and take it private. However, soon after, Musk said that he was terminating the deal. Twitter subsequently sued Musk, alleging he “refuses to honor his obligations to Twitter and its stockholders because the deal he signed no longer serves his personal interests.”
Earlier this month, a Delaware Chancery Court judge ruled that Musk had until Friday, October 28, to close on the $44 billion acquisition, otherwise the issue would go to trial.
Musk showed up at Twitter headquarters on Wednesday, carrying a porcelain sink and tweeted, “Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in!”
Additionally, in his first move after acquiring the company, Musk fired several top Twitter executives, including the company's CEO and CFO.
In a letter to Twitter’s advertisers posted to the social media site, Musk said that he did not want the platform to become a “free-for-all-hellscape where anything can be said with no consequences.” Musk has previously said that he intended to reevaluate content moderation policies and upload free speech.
“The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence,” Musk wrote. A noble goal—we shall see how it plays out. —GP
Two dead after St. Louis school shooting
On Monday, a former student shot and killed two people, injuring several others at a St. Louis high school. The two victims of the Central Visual and Performing Arts High School shooting were a 16-year-old girl and a 61-year-old woman; seven others were injured. After a gunfight with the police, the suspect died at a hospital.
The suspect had a history of mental illness and had spent time in various mental health programs. Police had been called to his home multiple times and had even confiscated the gun he used in the shooting, though authorities say they don’t know how he retrieved it.
“The impression that I get from the investigators who spoke to the mother is that they’ve done everything that they could’ve possibly done, but sometimes that is not enough,” Interim Police Chief Michael Sack said. “What they did is they contacted us and said that he had a firearm. . . . The officers in their response handed it over to somebody else, an adult that was lawfully able to possess it. The mother at the time wanted it out of the house, so they facilitated that . . . this other party had it. How he acquired it after that, we don’t know. That’s what we’re looking into.”
The 19-year-old former student was blocked from purchasing a gun from a licensed dealer after he failed an FBI background check, but he was able to buy an AR-15-style rifle from a private dealer. He brought the gun plus a dozen 30-round high-capacity magazines with him to the school just after 9 a.m. on Monday. Police arrived on the scene shortly afterward, engaging with the shooter for eight minutes.
History teacher Kristie Faulstich said she was “mentally preparing for how to defend my kids.”
“I wasn’t going to say, ‘Nobody is going to hurt you,’ because that’s a promise I couldn’t make,” she said. “You get into this headspace: I will do whatever it takes, and I will protect you however I have to. I know that’s how the teachers were in this moment. Those are our kids.” —Madeline Fry Schultz
Russian court denies Brittney Griner’s appeal
A Russian court on Tuesday rejected WNBA star Brittney Griner’s appeal, “paving the way for the two-time Olympian to serve nine years in a penal colony for the possession and smuggling of less than a gram of hashish oil,” per the Wall Street Journal.
Griner was arrested by Russian authorities in February after they discovered the cannabis derivative in her suitcase. “Her legal team said she was authorized to use medicinal cannabis in Arizona, where she has played for the Phoenix Mercury since 2013,” the New York Times reports.
As tensions rise between the United States and Russia over the war in Ukraine, Russian officials are threatening to subject Griner to a nine-year prison sentence, with her best hope seeming to be a prisoner swap. Griner’s detention appears to be a purely political move designed to put pressure on the United States, so the denial of her appeal was not surprising, but it was still disappointing.
“Nothing in the previous sentence, nothing in the result of today’s appeal changes the fact that the United States government considers Ms. Griner to be wrongfully detained,” Elizabeth Rood, Charge d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, said.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a briefing that the news “only increases the urgency of our efforts to bring Brittney home.”
“The Biden administration remains in regular touch with representatives from Brittney’s family,” she said. “And as National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said this morning, the administration has continued to engage Russia through multiple channels in recent weeks to urge them to respond to our efforts to negotiate a resolution to this.” —MFS
Good News of the Week
Dani Izzie suffered an injury at age 23 that left her paralyzed from the chest down. But that hasn’t stopped her from pursuing her dreams, including having children. Despite her misgivings, Dani and her husband consulted with her doctor, who told her that it would be possible to get pregnant, and she began to quiet her fears.
“I came to realize, ‘Well, I do take care of myself—I’m healthy, I’m happy, and I’m alive, and I’ve learned to do things in different ways,’” Dani said. “Even though I had a profound disability, I was actually pretty competent.”
So in 2019, Dani got pregnant. But what she didn’t expect was that she would get pregnant with two baby girls. “It was definitely a surprise, but it was also magical,” her husband, Rudy Izzie, said. “I’d always wanted to have two kids.”
On top of everything, Dani was pregnant during the start of the coronavirus pandemic. But on April 24, 2020, she gave birth to her babies, making her one of the few quadriplegic women in the world to give birth to twins.
Now two and a half years old, Lavinia and Giorgiana “are pure joy,” according to their mom. And a documentary about the family, called Dani’s Twins, is set to premiere next month.
“I’m hoping that the film will have an impact on how people view parents with disabilities,” said Dani. “People rarely see disabled people represented in caregiving roles. I want them to see me and realize that disability is just a normal part of life.” —MFS
Watch of the Week
Watch the trailer for Dani's Twins here: