N.C. Gov. McCrory Claims 'Political Left' Fed Emergence Of Transgender Issues

In an interview with NPR's Robert Seigel, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory defended the controversial HB2 law.

In an interview with NPR’s Robert Seigel, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory defended the controversial HB2 law. Gerry Broome/AP hide caption

toggle caption Gerry Broome/AP

North Carolina Republican governor Pat McCrory defended HB2, the state’s so-called “bathroom bill,” and claimed the “political left” fed the emergence of transgender issues in politics.

“Most people had never heard of this issue five months ago, until the political left started saying, ‘We need bathroom rules and policies,’ not just for government facilities and schools but also for the private sector,” McCrory said in an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered.

McCrory also defended the spirit of the HB2 law, which limits protections for LGBT people and requires transgender people to use public bathrooms that correspond with their sex at birth. McCrory said the questions surrounding the law weren’t just about civil rights for transgender people, but also about privacy.

“The expectation of privacy that men and women, boys and girls have in a highways rest stop, in gym, a locker room after gym, or a shower, a showering facility,” he said. “There’s an expectation that the only other people will be the same gender as they are and that’s the way we’ve been doing things for a long time.”

The governor’s remarks come just hours after the Obama Administration sent a letter to the nation’s schools that issued guidelines for how to treat transgender students. The advisory said students should be able to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. The letter also makes clear that any states that did not comply could be at risk of losing federal money.

McCrory characterized Obama’s advisory as government overreach.

“I don’t think the president has the authority by himself to make that decision,” he said.

He also said that transgender students in North Carolina and around the country are offered “alternative choices for this very complex situation in which there’s not a clear definition for gender identity or gender expression.”

McCrory also addressed the part of the law that denies many people in North Carolina — not just LGBT people — the right to sue for discrimination in state courts.

He said he didn’t have a line-item veto, meaning he couldn’t strike that measure without vetoing the entire law, including the parts dealing with transgender people in public restrooms. But McCrory said he will work to repeal the limits to discrimination suits.

“I’m going to get that reversed,” he said.

Listen to the whole interview here.

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#MemeOfTheWeek: Donald Trump's Alter-Ego

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office at Trump Tower in New York, Tuesday, May 10, 2016.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office at Trump Tower in New York, Tuesday, May 10, 2016. Mary Altaffer/AP hide caption

toggle caption Mary Altaffer/AP

In the latest chapter from the book of “You Can’t Make This-Stuff Up: Election Edition,” we are left to ponder the strange case of Donald Trump and his alter-egos.

The Washington Post came out with an extensive report Friday, detailing how Trump, back in the 90s, posed as his own PR person when speaking with press. He, according to the report, used the names John Miller and John Barron and talked about a lot of things, including whether or not he was romantically linked to Madonna. Trump denied the story, and the Post is standing by it.

Per usual with Trump, Twitter had fun with it:

Unconfirmed photo of John Miller. pic.twitter.com/qt462PQxyu

— Ben Howe (@BenHowe) May 13, 2016

Donald Trump meets his spokesman John Miller (h/t @OhNoSheTwitnt) pic.twitter.com/g0o3Osjjaz

— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) May 13, 2016

A look at future White House press briefings with Press Secretary John Miller. pic.twitter.com/74Fpm9cuAY

— Joel Luther (@joel_luther) May 13, 2016

So, John Miller and Carlos Danger are sitting in a bar.

— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) May 13, 2016

I actually had the pleasure of meeting John Miller once. Orange hair. Orange face. Small orange hands. He looked so familiar…

— TrumpsTaxes (@TrumpsTaxes) May 13, 2016

There are already several John Miller parody accounts on the social media network as well.

There are still some questions here. For one, did Trump really do this? Some outlets have been reporting that Trump actually testified in 1990 that he used the fake names before. A Vice article from 2015 has more detail, too.

I hear John Miller graduated summa cum laude from Trump University.

— Political Nerd (@Sttbs73) May 13, 2016

Will John Miller be the 3rd party candidate so many have been calling for? Will he split the Trump vote?

— LL (@lettergirl2020) May 13, 2016

Next question: If he did, why would he do this? Trump has always good at garnering media attention, by himself.

And of course, our last question has to be: What will happen next? It seems this presidential campaign magnifies the unbelievable, almost exponentially, just about everyday. What will happen next week?

If you called Obama “Barry Soetoro” or “Barack Hussein Obama” during the last 8 years you have to call Trump “John Miller” or “John Barron.”

— O. Alan Noble (@TheAlanNoble) May 13, 2016

Usually, we try to end with some deep thought, some big think, some smart, fresh point that illuminates an underlying truth about ourselves, or the Internet, or politics. But we can’t. Because we’re still trying to pick our jaws up off the floor. We’re writing about a presidential candidate’s alter-egos. Making words about a likely presidential nominee’s own personal Sasha Fierce.

We have no more words.

Why does your “publicist” sound so much like you, @realDonaldTrump? https://t.co/jqJJmzya3Q pic.twitter.com/1s4p3bgMli

— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) May 13, 2016

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Dung Beetles Navigate Poop-Pile Getaways Using Celestial 'Snapshots'

Scientists at the University of Lund in Sweden have shown that dung beetles use mental "snapshots" of the Milky Way to navigate.

Scientists at the University of Lund in Sweden have shown that dung beetles use mental “snapshots” of the Milky Way to navigate. E. Baird / Lund University hide caption

toggle caption E. Baird / Lund University

It’s not easy being a dung beetle.

Besides the obvious fact that they eat, well, dung, the act of just getting a meal is an involved process.

In the most elaborate carry-out scenario, the dung beetles must first stake claim to their piece of poop at the main dung pile, then shape it into a sphere for easy transport, fend off other dung beetles trying to steal it, and then — using the stars to navigate — determine the fastest way to roll their prize away to a safe spot for consumption.

But now, researchers from Lund University in Sweden say one part of this process might not be as taxing for the dung beetles as previously thought: The celestial navigation.

In a study published in the scientific journal Current Biology, researchers say dung beetles take “snapshots” of the stars and store the images in their brains.

Instead of using the stars — specifically the Milky Way — as a map that the beetles intermittently reference for directions, the researchers say dung beetles take one snapshot of the constellation, which is sufficient for navigation.

One of the researchers, Basil el Jundi, explains in a press release that the snapshot method for orientation allows the beetles to be more efficient because they don’t have to rely on long processes to retrieve information.

“We are the first to have shown that dung beetles are taking these snapshots. We are also the first to show how they store and use the images inside their tiny brains,” el Jundi says in the statement.

Researchers say the beetles make the snapshot while “dancing” atop their ball of dung. As the Two-Way previously reported, this poop-pile jig helps the beetles determine which path away from the dung is the best route.

YouTube

After the dancing and the picture-taking, the beetle is ready to roll. It uses the mental snapshot to help navigate its way through its present environment, the researchers said, explaining their scientific process:

“The experiments were performed in South Africa at a facility where the dung beetles only had access to an artificial firmament to orient themselves. Because the sky was artificial, the researchers were able to regulate the amount of light, as well as change the positions of the celestial bodies. Put simply, this allowed them to compare how the beetles changed direction depending on the placement of the artificial sun or moon, etc.”

Researchers in Lund first discovered in 2013 that the dung beetles were using the heavens to guide their hasty dung-heap getaways. As NPR reported at the time, getting the balls to safety as quickly as possible is paramount to survival.

“They have to get away from the pile of dung as fast as they can and as efficiently as they can because the dung pile is a very, very competitive place with lots and lots of beetles all competing for the same dung,” zoologist Eric Warrant from Lund told All Things Considered three years ago.

“And there’s very many lazy beetles that are just waiting around to steal the balls of other industrious beetles and often there are big fights in the dung piles,” he said.

After conducting an experiment in which some beetles wore cardboard hats that blocked their views of the stars, the researchers determined that “dung beetles can roll their balls of dung in straight lines by using the Milky Way as a compass queue,” Warrant said. He added that the tiny waste harvester wearing the cardboard hats just “rolled around and around and around in circles. They couldn’t keep a straight path.”

The new findings about dung beetles’ ability to take snapshots of the night sky could be significant for humans as well, el Jundi says in the statement. According to him, it could help in the “development of navigation systems in driverless vehicles.”

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Susannah Mushatt Jones, The World's Oldest Person, Has Died In New York

Miss Susie Susannah Mushatt Jones with her niece Lois Judge as they celebrate her 113th birthday with a party at the Vendalia Senior Center in Brooklyn in 2012.

Miss Susie Susannah Mushatt Jones with her niece Lois Judge as they celebrate her 113th birthday with a party at the Vendalia Senior Center in Brooklyn in 2012. New York Daily News/NY Daily News via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption New York Daily News/NY Daily News via Getty Images

Susannah Mushatt Jones, who was believed to be the world’s oldest person at 116, has died in New York. Known as Miss Susie to her friends and family, she reportedly had a penchant for bacon and lingerie.

The Gerontology Research Group (which verifies and tracks the most elderly people in the world) says that now, Emma Morano of Italy is the world’s oldest living person — and, the last person alive to have been born before 1900.

Jones hailed from Alabama and “went on to work as a live-in housekeeper and childcare provider,” according to the Guinness Book of World Records. She was the “daughter of sharecroppers and the granddaughter of slaves,” according to Reuters.

In a 2014 interview with Time, she said she was the 3rd of 11 siblings and was married for a short time but never had children.

She never drank or smoked, Time reported, and slept more than 10 hours every night. But Jones added that she does love bacon – four strips daily, to be exact – along with eggs and grits for breakfast.

And according to her niece Selbra Mushatt, she had a soft spot for upscale lace lingerie, Time reported. “She would save her money and then go to Bloomingdale’s. …One time, when she had to get an EKG, the doctors and nurses were surprised to see her wearing that lingerie, and she said, ‘Oh sure, you can never get too old to wear fancy stuff.'”

Jones also was involved in starting a “scholarship fund for young African American women,” according to the BBC. Until 10 years ago, at the age of 106, she served as a “member of the tenant patrol of her nursing home.”

Jones’ death means that there’s a new oldest living person. According to the Associated Press, Morano met the news “with a smile” after she woke from a nap to find assembled journalists, relatives and friends in Verbania, Italy.

Emma Morano, 116, sits in her apartment in Verbania, Italy.

Emma Morano, 116, sits in her apartment in Verbania, Italy. Antonio Calanni/AP hide caption

toggle caption Antonio Calanni/AP

The wire service reports that her doctor of 23 years, Dr. Carlo Bava, broke the news to her:

“For the occasion, he brought flowers as well [as] seven Easter cakes called Colomba, an Italian specialty that he managed to procure out of season to satisfy her sweet tooth until Christmas, when Panettone is available.

“The doctor said Morano has never had a very balanced diet, relying mostly on animal protein, the occasional banana and grapes in season. Her diet now includes two raw eggs and 100 grams of raw steak a day, which Bava prescribed after she had a bout of anemia some years back. Her nieces also make her apple sauce.”

Bava adds that she left a husband who beat her during “the Fascist era, when women were supposed to be submissive. She was always very decisive,” AP reports.

Last year, she told the wire service that her singing voice used to draw a crowd. “I sang in my house, and people on the road stopped to hear me singing. And then they had to run, because they were late and should go to work.”

Today, the AP says, she summed up her 116 years like this: “I finished school and I went to work. I used to sing. I had a beautiful voice.”

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Checking In On The U.S. Forces In Afghanistan

We’re hearing a lot less about Afghanistan these days, but the longest war in American history is not over. The U.S. still has nearly 10,000 military personnel in Afghanistan, where their mission is now focused on training and assisting Afghan troops, who’ve taken the lead in fighting the Taliban.

The Americans are not supposed to be involved in combat. But the U.S. flew several thousand sorties last year and troops still find themselves in places where the fighting carries on.

NPR Pentagon Correspondent Tom Bowman and NPR photographer David Gilkey are traveling to Afghanistan to spend a month with the U.S. and Afghan forces. They discussed their trip with Greg Myre, international editor for NPR.org.

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'The Lobster': A Rom-Com With Satirical Claws

Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz in The Lobster, which plays around with the idea of compatibility.

Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz in The Lobster, which plays around with the idea of compatibility. Despina Spyrou/Courtesy of A24 hide caption

toggle caption Despina Spyrou/Courtesy of A24

Dating is plenty complicated as things stand. But suppose romance came with deadlines, and a penalty for not meeting them. That’s the dilemma Colin Farrell faces in filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest weirdness. The maker of Dogtooth, which takes home schooling to comically absurd extremes, and Alps, which does much the same for the process of grieving, is tackling notions of romance in The Lobster, and let’s just say that rom-coms don’t come much stranger.

Farrell plays David, a doughy (the actor gained 40 pounds for the role), nebbishy guy whose wife has just left him as the film begins. He lives in a slightly futuristic society that so values coupledom that living a solitary existence is simply outlawed. So as soon as it becomes known that he’s single, the authorities pack him off to a grand rural hotel where the manager (a deliciously matter-of-fact Olivia Colman) explains the ground rules: Guests have 45 days to couple-up, and if they fail to do so, they’ll be turned into an animal of their choice. David has brought his dog (formerly his brother, who didn’t make it) so he knows the ropes.

What animal, wonders the manager, has David chosen to become in the event that he can’t find a compatible mate? “A lobster,” he replies, noting that lobsters remain fertile for life, have blue blood like aristocrats, and that anyway, he quite likes the sea.

“Excellent choice,” he’s told, and the clock starts ticking.

Everyone in this society assumes that compatibility means “like with like,” so a guy (Ben Whishaw) who wants to attract a girl who gets nosebleeds bangs his head against walls to make his own nose bleed. A guy (John C. Reilly) with a lisp looks for a gal with a speech impediment. David briefly tries to ingratiate himself with a heartless woman by faking indifference to her. Always, though, there is the knowledge that things may not work out.

David discovers there is an alternative of sorts. In the woods surrounding the hotel are quite a lot of unusual animals — camels, Shetland ponies, flamingos — but also a revolutionary bunch of loner escapees. For recreation, the hotel guests hunt them with tranquilizer darts, with each bagged loner getting the hunter an extra day of beasthood-avoidance. The loners, who prize lonerness as strongly as the rest of society prizes coupledom, have their own set of rules, which turn out to be just as peculiar — and simultaneously funny and cruel — as those of the society they’re rebelling against.

Greek filmmaker Lanthimos is fond of hermetically sealed satires like this, where the logic is rigidly internal and the results of following that logic determinedly strange. The Lobster is his first film in English, and it plays cleverly with the compatibility assumptions behind, say, singles groups and online dating sites.

Hard to tell how he feels about the idea that opposites attract. But perhaps it’s reflected in the opposite first and second halves he has given the movie. The early going is comic and light. Then, when David escapes into the woods and encounters soulmate Rachel Weisz, there’s a tonal shift to darkness, coupled with violence.

Arguably, that’s less rewarding. Still, if weird is what you’re looking for, The Lobster is, claws down, the rom-com of the year (though possibly not one you’d want to choose for a first date).

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