Demonstrators on Jan. 20, 2001, as the inaugural parade passes by Freedom Plaza.
Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
President-elect Donald Trump will face his critics at his inauguration this week — large protests are planned across Washington, DC — but not to the extent that some demonstrators were hoping for.
A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that the National Park Service could reserve space along the inauguration parade route for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, rejecting First Amendment objections from protesters planning anti-Trump demonstrations.
Federal regulations allow the National Park Service to sets aside a portion of Freedom Plaza — a prime spot along Pennsylvania Avenue to see, or protest, the parade — for the inaugural committee to set up bleachers for ticketed seating. On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit found that this was a “content-neutral” restriction on the use of public space divorced from the opinions or speech of whoever else wanted to use it.
ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition sued the government to challenge the regulations, arguing that the set-aside for the inaugural committee favored one type of speech — that of the president-elect's supporters — over others.
“There is no evidence in the record that the regulation was adopted because of any disagreement with ANSWER’s — or any demonstrators’ — message, nor any evidence of desire generally to suppress dissent or otherwise discriminate with regard to content,” Judge Cornelia Pillard wrote for the unanimous panel.
The appeals court compared the set-aside for bleachers with areas reserved for portable toilets, reporters, and individuals with disabilities.
The National Park Service every four years reserves space downtown for the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Other groups can file requests for permits to use those spaces on Jan. 20, but the National Park Service won't grant them unless the inaugural committee releases its hold.
When the latest case was argued in the DC Circuit on Nov. 14, ANSWER was still waiting for the inaugural committee to decide what space it needed. ANSWER now has permits to demonstrate in the western part of Freedom Plaza and along a section of Pennsylvania Avenue near the Trump International Hotel, in addition to other locations downtown.
The DC Circuit's decision on Tuesday wasn't limited to the specifics of ANSWER's permit requests, however, and would apply to how the National Park Service handles future inaugurations.
The court found that the regulation allowing the National Park Service to set aside space for the inaugural committee didn't mention speech; the rules wouldn't stop someone with a ticket to sit in the bleachers from speaking out against Trump, for instance. The restrictions affected a protester as much as any member of the public without a ticket who wanted access to the bleacher area for a better view, Pillard wrote.
The restriction was “content-neutral,” the court held, which meant that the government was subject to less intense scrutiny under the First Amendment than if it were content-based — for example, a rule that specifically banned anti-government protests.
The restriction was “narrowly tailored” to achieve the government's interest in helping the congressionally-authorized Presidential Inaugural Committee plan the day's events, the court found.
“Part of organizing the Inauguration is providing seating for spectators; the Inaugural Committee’s regulatory priority allows just that,” Pillard wrote.
The court found that the regulation left plenty of space available for the public, even if it didn't include ANSWER's preferred location to protest. Pillard noted that the park service reserved 13 percent of the parade route along Pennsylvania Avenue for the inaugural committee, and left open 70 percent of the route to the public.
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership For Civil Justice Fund, who argued for ANSWER in the DC Circuit, told BuzzFeed News that the decision allowed for the “privatization” of public space, noting that the Presidential Inaugural Committee for Trump's inauguration had raised tens of millions of dollars. She said the committee was granting access to the Freedom Plaza bleachers to politically-approved Trump supporters, not the general public.
A spokesman for the US attorney's office in Washington, which argued for the National Park Service, did not immediately return a request for comment. DC Circuit judges Sri Srinivasan and Patricia Millett also heard the case.
Donald Trump tweeted his support for the group on Tuesday.
Donald Trump on Tuesday tweeted that Bikers for Trump — a group of bikers who supported him during his campaign — were “on their way” to the Jan. 20 inauguration in Washington DC.
Chris Cox, the founder of the group, told Fox & Friends that more than 5,000 bikers are expected to attend the inauguration and would form a “wall of meat” against anti-Trump protesters.
Cox said that he requested a permit from the National Parks Service for 5,000 bikers to gather at John Marshall Park on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day. The request was approved but the permit was still being processed and had not yet been issued, Mike Litterst, the spokesperson for the National Park Service, told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday.
“We process requests in the order in which they were received, first come first serve,” Litterst said, adding that permits were approved for both pro-Trump and anti-Trump demonstrators.
Cox's listed purpose for the permit was “to celebrate president elect, and encourage peaceful transition,” according to the list of permit applications for the inauguration provided to BuzzFeed News.
So far, only one permit for an explicitly pro-Trump group — Let America Hear Us, Roar for Trump! — has been issued for 20 people. Another pro-Trump permit requested by Travis Thompson Biker for 5,000 people to support Trump on Jan. 20 is currently being processed.
A permit for the most number of demonstrators so far — 50,000— was issued for the American Constitution Society, a progressive organization.
“We have guys coming in right now driving across Texas, Arizona…guys left San Diego two days ago, large groups coming in from Florida…Pennsylvania has busloads coming in…Ohio, New York, you name it we got bikers coming in to town,” Cox told Fox & Friends on Saturday.
However, several pro-Trump accounts on social media are using pictures and videos that falsely claim to show large groups of bikers on their way to the inauguration in Washington.
Is your infant sucking on mold?
Sophie the Giraffe is a popular baby teether that has exploded in popularity over the past few years. In fact, its popularity among celebrities like Kim Kardashian West led the Los Angeles Times to label it a “status teether.”
However, a lot of horrified parents are saying online that they cut open the beloved giraffe and found it full of black mold.
The story gained national attention after mom and dentist Dana Chianese shared photos of her Sophie, below, with Good Housekeeping.
Chianese told the magazine she was cleaning her Sophie toy when she noticed it smelled weird.
“I decided to cut into Sophie out of curiosity and discovered a science experiment living inside,” she said. “Smelly, ugly mold living in my infant's favorite chew toy!”
The mom said she will no longer use the product, which she added she always cleaned according to the instructions.
“It still hurts my heart to know that for months I allowed my babies to chew on moldy toys,” she said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, flanked by House Democrats, speaks in support of the Affordable Care Act on January 12.
Aaron P. Bernstein / Getty Images
After a blood clot made it unsafe for her to take birth control pills, Liz Van Voorhis switched to an intrauterine device a few years ago. It was free — thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which in 2012 required insurance plans to cover contraceptives at no cost to customers.
Five years later, though, president-elect Donald Trump’s pick for health secretary, Tom Price, is on record for opposing that rule. The Republican-majority Congress is moving to repeal the health care law. And Trump has vowed to defund Planned Parenthood.
Van Voorhis was counting on the birth control mandate to cover a new IUD in 2017, and would have trouble single-handedly affording a device, which costs up to $1,000. But if that mandate vanishes along with the health care law Trump has sworn to repeal, she fears that she would no longer qualify for insurance coverage because she has diabetes, an expensive condition. “I shouldn’t have to make the decision between my health and if I can afford it,” the 37-year-old told BuzzFeed News.
Van Voorhis isn’t the only woman worried about affording and accessing birth control under Trump: Planned Parenthood’s president told CNN last week that the organization has seen a 900% increase in women trying to get IUDs. Those fears have also translated into a reported uptick in business for on-demand birth control startups — like the Pill Club, Nurx, and Maven — that in response are temporarily making it cheaper and easier to order contraception through their apps and websites.
These promotions aren’t entirely altruistic, of course. In the unprecedented political climate, capitalizing on concerns is also a way to gain new customers.
“Our own patients were [asking], especially after the election, ‘What’s going to happen to my coverage?’” said Nick Chang, CEO of the Pill Club, a Silicon Valley startup that writes and fills birth control prescriptions. “We have only so much we can control in terms of what Trump and [vice-president-elect Mike] Pence and Price do. But one of the ways that we can help patients right now and prepare them for anything that happens down the line is to give them protection and backup options.”
An ad for Nurx's December promotion.
Since December, the Pill Club has been offering the Fallback Solo emergency contraceptive for free to customers with insurance; doses vary from six a year to one every three months, depending on coverage. (Emergency contraception is also covered by the birth control mandate.) The Pill Club only writes prescriptions in California, but can ship to people who already have prescriptions across 10 states.
Until the end of January, New York City-based Maven is offering customers a free telemedicine visit with a doctor or nurse to get a birth control prescription, or just reproductive health advice. Maven, which can prescribe in 47 states, ships orders to a pharmacy for the customer to pick up.
“A lot of women have been writing in, asking questions, talking about how nervous they are,” CEO Katherine Ryder said. (She added that not all patients were worried. When Maven referenced a “stressful” election in an email to clients offering mental health visit discounts, “a lot of people wrote back and said they weren’t stressed at all,” Ryder said.)
Nurx, a Y Combinator startup that raised $5.3 million last fall, gave new customers $45 toward birth control in December. It’s doing so again in January (promo code: “TinyHands”). The startup, which also covers delivery costs, ships to California, Washington state, Washington, DC, New York, Pennsylvania, and, as of last week, Virginia and Illinois.
An ad for Maven's birth control promotion.
“We have a lot of users who are concerned that they would lose access to birth control and certain users who were talking about stockpiling birth control,” said Hans Gangeskar, who co-founded the San Francisco startup. Nurx doesn’t encourage hoarding, and birth control pills usually expire after about 12 months, but “we always think it’s a good idea for women to have an extra pack or two, from a logistical perspective,” he said.
The birth control mandate is rooted in the Affordable Care Act, but the law doesn’t have to be repealed for the mandate to end.
The law says insurance must cover preventive health benefits for women, and leaves it up to the Department of Health and Human Services to decide what counts. In 2011, it decided that birth control counted. (The rule was later clarified to mean that of the 18 categories of birth control that are FDA-approved, most insurers have to cover at least one drug or device in each category. That means, for instance, that some health plans cover certain brands of birth control pills at no cost to consumers, but don't cover others.)
The new administration could simply write a regulation that says otherwise. “That policy of requiring no co-pay for contraceptive coverage was huge and allowed many millions of women access to birth control care in a way that made it accessible and affordable,” said Amy Friedrich-Karnik, senior federal policy advisor at the Center for Reproductive Rights, an advocacy group. “That policy and that access is really threatened,” particularly for low-income women and women of color.
Still, it’s hard to predict how quickly the Affordable Care Act as a whole will actually go away, and whether or not alternative sources of birth control, like startups, could become crucial as a result. The startups also say they are optimistic about staying operational even without the health care law: “You will need the pill whether you have Obamacare or not,” Chang said in an email.
Repealing the law may be more difficult than initially portrayed by the Republicans who repeatedly campaigned on that pledge. Congress moved forward last week on setting up a repeal bill, but GOP leaders — and Trump himself — are offering mixed messages on if they’ll establish an alternative and what that might be. Some 20 million Americans received insurance coverage under the law.
Even if the birth control mandate were to go away, that doesn’t mean that all women would have to pay out of pocket for it.
Lisa Lake / Getty Images for Moveon.org
A few states — Maryland, Vermont, Illinois, and California — have in recent years passed their own laws that require insurance plans in those states to cover contraception, from pills to IUDs, at no cost to customers. These state laws will continue to provide coverage regardless of what happens to the federal law, said Susan Berke Fogel, director of reproductive health at the National Health Law Program.
However, those laws don’t apply to everyone in those states; California’s law, for example, exempts health care plans for religious employers.
In addition, certain birth control pills cost relatively little out of pocket, so some women may still be able to afford them if their coverage goes away. Nurx, for instance, says that it plans to keep selling some medications for as low as $15 a month to uninsured customers.
Still, the uncertain future unnerves many women like Van Voorhis. As for what she’ll do when it comes time to remove her IUD this year, she’s not sure.
“If anything, the choice is probably that I would consider not pursuing [an IUD] in the future and just ending my current plan of health,” she said. “And optimistically hoping that someone talks some sense into the right people, and we have the right type of advocacy to make a change.”
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Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images
DAVOS, Switzerland — Anthony Scaramucci was once known as the party boy of Davos, hosting a shindig at the hotel piano bar that is the center of social life during the week that the small Alpine village turns into a gathering of the global elite.
This year, the asset manager turned Trump adviser came to the World Economic Forum, as one participant put it, as an “ambassador and future interpreter.”
The global — and, at least here, mostly European — elite is freaking out over what a Trump presidency will mean. They don’t understand Trump’s words, they don’t understand his style, they don’t understand how he can say things like NATO is “obsolete” and challenge German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as he did in an explosive interview with Germany’s Bild and the London Times earlier this week.
Those gathered at Davos represent the epitome of what Donald Trump ran against — men (and a few women) in fine suits cloistered away in the Swiss Alps discussing their prescriptions for making the world a better place, while ensuring the average Joe remains far from the checkpoints that line the roads to the village center. The disdain runs both ways. At least one participant described Trump as “vulgar.”
But they still need to know what he means and fast: upcoming elections in Germany and France are already fraught with concerns that they’ll prove to be a repeat of the US race, with a person attendees of the WEF view as a populist demagogue winning power through a combination of bluster, insular policies, and a little boost from Russia.
That’s where Scaramucci steps in — someone who has been to their soirees and understands their wit and dark humor. Someone who makes easy reference to European history in conversation and throws book recommendations (you should apparently read historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s The Bully Pulpit) in with remarks on governance. Someone who uses relatively sophisticated vocabulary to say essentially the same thing as Trump: the world is about to change dramatically and there is nothing you can do about it.
“You probably like hearing it the way I’m explaining it because it sounds more sensible,” Scaramucci told a small briefing of journalists after a 30-minute session to a wider Davos crowd. “My job is to get you to see him and think about him the way we do — meaning, his staff, his family members, his sons, who I have a great relationship with, his daughter.”
“We’re used to very controlled statements coming from the bully pulpit of the American presidency or the German Chancellery,” he said. “He’s so different than the other 999 politicians, that’s probably why he ascended to the American presidency. A very large group of American people want change”
Speaking earlier to a packed room in a public session titled the “Outlook for the United States,” Scaramucci said: “You guys get a little upset about the tweeting or some of the things he’s saying, but I want to say, directionally, he’s a compassionate man, he loves his children, he loves people.” Then he quoted Winston Churchill: “The best among us choose not to judge human frailty so strongly.”
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / AFP / Getty Images
When it came down to explaining Trump’s ideas, the language was more anodyne but the subject matter equally sanguine. Scaramucci, whose talk came after Davos’s star speaker, President Xi Jinping of China, used his platform to warn against protectionism and champion free trade, came out swinging: “We call these trade agreements free, but what they really are is free asymmetrically,” he said. “I respect China, I certainly respect the president of China and we want to have a phenomenal relationship with the Chinese.”
“But, if the Chinese really believe in globalism… they have to reach now towards us and allow us to create this symmetry,” he said, adding: “President Trump could be one of the last great hopes for globalism.”
Xi may have been the marquee presenter — bringing a 107-person entourage to celebrate his first time ever addressing the forum — but there is no doubt that the gathering’s main theme has been the crisis of democracy and the rise of populism and the crumbling collapse of the very system that created “Davos man” (some discussions include: “Squeezed and Angry: How to Fix the Middle Class Crisis; Politics of Fear or Rebellion of the Forgotten?; Fixing Europe’s Disunion”; and on and on). Trump’s interviews with Bild and The Times, which came out on the eve of the forum’s launch, have only served to feed the feeling of crisis. And Scaramucci did little to assuage it.
Addressing concerns over Trump’s faith in NATO, Scaramucci said: “Today the world is dramatically different than the world we lived in before.” He said NATO should shift focus from its founding as an anti-Soviet organization (which it already has) to focus on “Islamic terrorism.” He reiterated Trump’s call for NATO countries to pay their dues: “He’s a real estate developer — he’s going to say, Hey you signed this thing, pay up. Why not live up to your obligations in that treaty? Many people have renovated our homes, we’ve certainly changed our wardrobes since the 1940s.”
“On the European Union — you want it, and I see what you want it. And we want it but the European leadership and the European elites, the bureaucrats, best pay better attention to the working class families and the middle class,” he said.
“I see him very differently than maybe you guys see him,” Scaramucci said. “My bet is there’s an arbitrage spread between how you guys see him and how I see him and that’s going to close.”
Speaking later to media, he appealed for trust, comparing Trump’s “disruption” of politics to technology. “Steve Jobs takes a phone and turns it into a computer.”
“Have some faith and some confidence that there are very smart people looking at it,” he said, before jumping back into more Trumpian messaging: “But not super smart, not people who think they are smarter than everyone else.”
Near the end of Scaramucci’s media briefing, Sylvia Kauffman, a respected foreign affairs columnist with France’s Le Monde, asked what motivates Trump to speak on the EU if his ultimate goal is to appeal to the American people.
“He’s trying to make a political observation that there’s a large group of discontented people in these pluralistic democracies,” Scaramucci said. “They feel like they’ve been left out.”
“I’m a student of European history, I have a very good understanding of the wars that have been fought on this continent,” he said. The problem was that people in Brussels are “making decision that are going to impact people in Manchester, UK; Rome, Italia, Milano,” Scaramucci said, slipping into quasi-Italian. “They may not fully understand the local markets they’re making those decisions in.”
“His political observation is not that he wants the EU to go away but that he’s basically saying it’s not being managed appropriately to serve the constituencies that it’s supposed to serve.”
Speaking after the briefing, Kauffman said Scaramucci only added to her concern. “It’s all very fake and so far not very convincing,” she said. “He has more respect for the Russian regime than European democracy — anyway you look at it that’s disturbing coming from an American president.”
“The interpretation is — you [the EU] have political problems, but they never say that about Russia.”
Scaramucci was due to be in Davos for just 24 hours. The piano bar party — at, ironically, the Hotel Europe — was due to go ahead on Tuesday night, but it was unclear if he would be involved.
Scaramucci may no longer be the man of the hour. As he said when starting his session: “It’s my 10th year here — my first with a food taster.”
For the past few years, South African photographer Paul Shiakallis has been documenting the lives of a group of leather-clad women from Botswana's heavy metal subculture known as the “Marok,” which means “rocker” in the local Seyswana language. In his photo series “Leathered Skins, Unchained Hearts,” Shiakallis highlights the lives of these women — they refer to themselves as “Queens” and go by their Queen alter-egos — who are trying to express themselves by defying a patriarchal society.
According to Shiakallis, being a “Marok” is harder for women than men because they face a lot more criticism from public. “Some women were still “coming-out” as rockers and were not ready to be photographed,” Shiakallis told BuzzFeed. “In other situations, men would thwart the shoots because they did not want their women to be in the presence of another man (me, the photographer) or to have the recognition of being a Marok.”
Paul Shiakallis / Via paulshiakallis.com
Debbie Baone Superpower
Paul Shiakallis / Via paulshiakallis.com
Florah Dylon and her son Younggal Bison
Ludo Dignified Queen Morima