Deadly Blast At An Austrian Gas Hub Prompts A State Of Emergency In Italy

An explosion tore through an Austrian gas pipeline hub at Baumgarten on Tuesday. At least one person was killed, and now onlookers fear the explosion could send shock waves through the European gas supply.

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A fiery blast ripped through a major natural gas hub in eastern Austria on Tuesday morning local time, killing at least one person, injuring many others and sending energy prices into a frenzy. The blaze at the facility in Baumgarten, which receives imported Russian gas and sends it on to other sites scattered throughout Europe, danced bright on the horizon for miles around before firefighters were able to bring it under control hours later.

Local police announced on Twitter that the blast occurred “due to a technical cause,” adding that an investigation has been opened. The site’s operator, Gas Connect Austria, also preliminarily attributed the explosion to a technical cause and took the facility offline.

Initially, the company said 18 people were injured — though local police later raised that number to 21, noting that one person suffered serious injury.


The shock waves of the blast have already been felt far beyond the boundaries of the station, which serves as a crucial hinge point between gas suppliers in Russia and Norway and pipelines sending that gas on to Italy, the U.K. and other European countries. Gas Connect Austria says that after the explosion, “transit through Austria to the south and southeast is impaired until further notice.”

The explosion follows on the heels of news that an important North Sea pipeline was also shutting down because a crack in it had been discovered, the Financial Times reports.

Italy, in particular, anticipates a painful winter as a result of the unexpected disruption. Not long after the explosion, Italy’s minister for economic development, Carlo Calenda, declared a state of emergency for energy supplies.

“Today there was a serious accident in Austria,” Calenda said Tuesday, according to Reuters. “It means that we have a serious supply problem, with a great concentration from Russia.”

FT reports that “in Italy, day-ahead gas prices almost doubled, while Dutch prices also rose sharply.” U.K. gas prices also leaped significantly Tuesday.

“There is still plenty of storage across Europe to cope with this,” energy consultant Massimo Di-Odoardo told the FT. “But if supply does not resume soon and the cold weather continues, prices will remain strong through the winter.”

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Federal Terrorism Charges Filed Against NYC Subway Bombing Suspect Akayed Ullah

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in southern New York has filed federal terrorism charges against Akayed Ullah, the 27-year-old man who police say attempted to carry out a suicide bombing in a pedestrian tunnel near the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan on Monday.

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission released this photo of Akayed Ullah on Monday. The New York subway bombing suspect once held a for-hire vehicle license in the city.

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Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said that Ullah “came to kill, to maim, and to destroy” as thousands of New Yorkers were using the transit system to get to work and go about their lives. Ullah acted “in support of a vicious cause,” Kim said.

Ullah had been inspired and radicalized by the ISIS extremist group, Kim said.

Ullah faces five charges, ranging from providing material support to a terrorist group to using a weapon of mass destruction.

Ullah “admitted that he began researching how to build bombs a year ago” and had built the bomb a week before his attack, Kim said, adding that the target in the subway had been chosen in an effort to maximize the damage and casualties.

A search of his apartment found pipes, wires, and other materials that suggest the bomb was made there, Kim said.

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Why It's Now A Crime To Let Cattle Graze Freely In 2 Nigerian States

Sale Tambaya, a cattle herder in central Nigeria, grazes his cows. After his home state criminalized open grazing on November 1, he and his family fled with their livestock to a neighboring state where grazing is allowed. Two of his sons died on the journey.

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Tim McDonnell for NPR

As a cattle herder in Benue, a rural state in central Nigeria, Sale Tambaya’s life revolved around his herd of roughly 100 cows and a few dozen sheep. Normally, he would take them out from a pen near his thatched hut every morning to graze freely in the surrounding grassland. But on November 1, taking grazing animals in the open was designated a criminal activity in Benue. Overnight, his family’s livelihood had become a threat to their safety.

So at 6 a.m., he made his decision: The only way to keep both family and herd safe was to flee.

Tambaya, his wife Hafsat, and their six children walked all day with the herd. In the evening they finally reached the Benue River, a powerful tributary of the Niger that separated their home state from neighboring Nasarawa, where they hoped to find refuge and a place to graze the livestock. While Tambaya, Hafsat and four of the children boarded a ferry, two of the boys drove the cows and sheep into the water, clinging to the cows’ tails because they didn’t know how to swim. Both sons, as well as most of the sheep and 20 cows, drowned before reaching the opposite bank.

Benue is now the second Nigerian state to implement a ban on the open grazing of cattle, after nearby Taraba implemented a ban this summer.It’s a controversial new approach to resolving a long saga of conflict between Nigeria’s pastoralists and their farmer neighbors that has come with unintended violence and displacement, as shown in this video from the scene.

The ban’s backers contend that free-roaming cattle are a major threat, as they routinely trample crops, setting off fights with farmers. But pastoralists argue that the grazing ban discriminates against the West African ethnic minority, Fulani, most of whom keep cattle as their traditional livelihood.

The state deputized unarmed citizen groups to enforce the ban and keep a roving lookout for herders. (The police and military are controlled by the federal government, and President Muhammadu Buhari, who owns cattle himself, hasn’t committed to enforcing the law.) Herders think the citizen groups are more likely to create new conflicts than resolve them, and worry they will acquire weapons and will become, in effect, anti-Fulani gangs — after years of conflict, ethnic animosity runs high here. When the ban went into effect, many herders like Tambaya fled the state.

“Everyone was afraid, because [ranching] was impossible to do,” Tambaya said.

Over the last decade, farmer-pastoralist conflict has torn Nigeria’s Middle Belt region apart. Disputes over land quickly escalate because of ethnic and religious resentment (the farmers are mostly Christians of the majority Tiv ethnic group while the Fulani are mostly Muslim). Violence can take the shape of isolated murders, improvised roadblocks where members of one group search passing vehicles for members of the other group to rough up or extort, and full-blown attacks on villages, involving dozens of assailants. Thousands have died, and tens of thousands are displaced. Last year, the annual death toll — 2,500, including both farmers and herders — exceeded the number killed by Boko Haram insurgents in the country’s war-torn northeast, according to a recent report by the International Crisis Group.

The most recent episode, which unfolded in Adawama State over the last two weeks, followed a familiar pattern: After an attack in which 30 herders were reportedly killed by farmers armed with torches and machetes, herders followed suit last Monday with an attack that lead to “many deaths,” according to local news reports.

“In the last five years we’ve had a huge increase in the number of incidents, the number of casualties and the bitterness that goes with it,” says Nnamdi Obasi, senior Nigeria adviser for the International Crisis Group. During that period, there have been an average of 2,000 deaths linked to farmer-herder conflict each year, according to the ICG report.

“In many areas it’s like a no man’s land,” he says. “If you talk to the herdsmen as well as to the farmers, each party feels that it is unprotected, it is vulnerable.”

Violence perpetrated both by and against cattle herders is common across Sahelian Africa. But the situation in Nigeria has been particularly explosive. Experts here point to a complex of factors including rapid population growth, climate change, urbanization, biased local media, and high rates of cattle rustling and other rural crime. The dysfunctional judicial system emboldens people to take the law into their own hands, while an influx of small arms from the Lake Chad basin and central Africa makes conflicts more deadly.

But the trigger is usually cattle. When cows trample through a farm or farmers plant crops on a traditional grazing path, whether the transgression is accidental or intentional, shouts turn to blows, which turn to gunshots, which turn to organized raids, reprisal attacks and arson that leaves villages on both sides decimated. By then, the specific original grievance is forgotten and replaced by general animus toward the other group. The countryside is littered with the charred ruins of homes, schools, police stations, mosques and churches.

Benue, which has seen some of the worst confrontations, is testing the theory that tighter regulation of cattle can be an effective peace-building measure. Cows there must now be confined to fenced-off ranches, with their food and water delivered rather than foraged from the landscape. Violators face fines of more than $3,000, up to five years in prison, and the confiscation of their herd.

After the ban on grazing, cows in the cattle market in Makurdi, Nigeria, were trapped with no food or water. “If [the cows] start dying, then we have no means of feeding our families,” says Aliyu Mustapha, the market’s director.

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Tim McDonnell for NPR

The state government says the law will help curb clashes by imposing order onto land use practices that were formerly a dangerous free-for-all that cost the state $264 million in damages and disruption of the local economy, according to the governor, and that it is working to make land available cheaply to herders. But the government has so far not opened any of several promised public ranches. And since opening a private ranch is prohibitively expensive for most herders, and time-consuming, with plenty of red tape even for those who can afford it, Fulani leaders say the ban is little more than an effort to aggressively drive them from the state.

“Their profession has been denied. Their legal rights have been denied,” says Garus Gololo, the Benue chapter director of Miyette Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, a Fulani cultural and trade group. “I take it as a personal hatred.”

Within the first few weeks of the ban, 17 herders were arrested for illegal grazing. Five are currently on trial in Makurdi, the regional capital, while the others wait their turn in jail, according to Lawrence Onoja, a spokesman for the Benue state government. Onoja said that no cows have been confiscated, because the state doesn’t yet have a facility in which to keep them. But Gololo said that vigilante groups have harassed herders and chased at least 250 cows into the bush, a serious loss given that a single cow can sell for up to $1,000. On November 13, one herder drowned himself in the river after losing his herd, Gololo says. Onoja denied that the suicide took place, calling it a “big lie.”

Either way, Benue’s herders face a wrenching choice: Stay — and face financial ruin, imprisonment and the risk of violence if they violate the new ban. Or flee — and face an uncertain future in neighboring states where their herds are also unwelcome.

Tambaya was joined by a group of several dozen other families who also fled. Now, a group of several hundred people are living along the river’s edge in a village called Tunga, in houses offered as temporary shelter by a local imam. Tunga’s chief, Shuaibu Galadima, said that in the first few days after the ban more than 1,000 Fulani herders and their cattle from Benue passed through the village. The influx is increasing tensions, he said: “As soon as they start entering farms, there could be rioting.”

Onoja said that anyone who attacks a herder will be prosecuted, and that the law is not meant to discriminate against anyone.

“Constitutionally everybody has a right to live wherever they want to live,” he said. “But that old way of having grazing routes is not possible anymore.”

Traditionally, nomadic Fulani cattle herders were concentrated in Nigeria’s northern states, roaming vast expanses of arid savannah. Over the last several decades, desertification and the Boko Haram insurgency pushed many south, into more densely-populated agricultural regions. Today, 70 percent of Nigeria’s Fulani are living alongside farmers.

But as the country’s population of 180 million grows, areas long set aside for cattle grazingare being overtaken by farms, roads, settlements, schools and hospitals.

“There must be transformations in the way crops and livestock are produced in Nigeria,” said Saleh Momale, executive director of The Pastoral Resolve, a research and advocacy organization. “But we are now making restrictive policies that tend to punish or eliminate the livelihoods of a critical sector of the Nigerian economy, the livestock producers.”

The transition from open grazing to ranching can’t happen overnight and at gunpoint, he said, especially as the December-January dry season is underway and more seasonal cattle-herding nomads from the northern reaches of the country are likely to arrive.”I think [the Benue state government] is just creating a scenario for chaos,” he said.

A better solution to the crisis, Momale said, would be to shift gradually away from nomadic pastoralism over time. He proposes incentives for herders to settle in designated areas where agriculture is sparse — and the efficient prosecution of anyone on either side of the conflict who commits violence. Until then, he said, the conflict is likely to continue.

In the meantime, Tambaya and his neighbors are trying to build a new life, away from home.

“I’m too afraid to return to Benue,” he says. “They could kill my animals, kill me, kill my family.”

Tim McDonnell is a journalist covering the environment, conflict, and related issues in sub-Saharan Africa. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

This story was supported by a grant from the International Reporting Project.

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Don't Call Me Honey: In 2017, Women Confronted The Deep Roots Of Rock's Boys Club

Rainbow, Kesha’s first album since the start of her legal battle with former producer Dr. Luke in 2016 after she accused him of sexual and emotional abuse, is a document of an artist taking reclaiming her story.

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Last summer I took my daughter to Vans Warped Tour for the first time. She’d been clamoring to go since the first time she’d walked into a Hot Topic store and bought a t-shirt emblazoned with the logo of the band Black Veil Brides; deeply devoted to that band and its sweetly philosophical, doe-eyed singer Andy Biersack, she’d even had their album cover painted on her eleventh birthday cake. By age 13 she’d become utterly versed in current pop-punk and grunge-indebted metal, shouting along to her playlists of Neck Deep and Attila songs in the car. “F*** this s***, you can find me in the mosh pit!” she’d yell, all five feet two inches of her electric with defiance. Rock mom that I am, I identified with her passion — the same green kind I’d directed, as a teen, toward local bands with New Wave names like The Heaters and The Frazz — and wanted to help her live it out, within the limits that my own mom, a Bing Crosby fan, didn’t know were necessary.

I got us tickets by volunteering to run a sign-up table for our local feminist rock and roll summer camp. Stationed across from the Reverse Day Care tent, where parents went to enjoy air conditioning and avoid their kids, I shared space with some social conservatives (“All Lives Matter,” their t-shirts read) and a few students trying to raise money for refugees. Not too many people stopped to talk with me. My kid took off with a friend, returning occasionally to share her adventures in the crowd. “I got kicked in the face twice,” she said, possibly exaggerating. “But I’m okay!”

I can’t explain the relief I felt when she said all she’d experienced was some standard pit jostling. I’d texted her frequently that afternoon to make sure she was safe. My mom nerves were based in personal experience. I’d covered Warped Tour for The New York Times in the late 1990s and watched a malignancy sprout inside its rock and roll shenanigans. At first it provided a louder alternative to Lollapalooza, celebrating punk’s history just as that subgenre became historical. But five years or so in, it became a wild boys’ paradise. Artists like Blink-182 and Kid Rock peppered their sets with jokes about women’s body parts; actual women hardly ever appeared onstage. I remember the hordes of young men at those shows, wearing painters’ masks to protect themselves from the dust they kicked up in front of the main stage. They were having fun. They were building identities and confronting demons. They were also learning the language of sexual harassment.

Over the past decade, the emo and pop-punk scenes attached to Warped Tour have weathered scandal after scandal involving male performers allegedly assaulting or otherwise exploiting women. Now, as part of 2017’s great societal reckoning about sexual violence and predation, it seems that this rock and roll circus is meeting its end. In November, Warped alumnus Jesse Lacey, singer for the band Brand New, publicly apologized for past sexual misconduct with a minor. What in the past might have been a shameful inconvenience for the tour now resonated as part of a larger story. The years of excuses, hastily prepared apologies, legal countersuits and justifications that “after all, this is rock and roll” — chronicled by numerous women connected to the scene, including Jessica Hopper, Maria Sherman, Megan Seling and Jenn Pelly — finally may have just been too much for the boys’ preserve in which Warped Tour has played a key role. Although he denied a connection — “that sexual harassment didn’t happen on Warped Tour,” he told Billboard — founder Kevin Lyman announced just weeks after Lacey’s admission that next year’s tour will be the last.

Maybe, in his private moments, Lyman has been spending his 2017 listening to women making music. Before the avalanche of women’s opened secrets made clear the almost mundane, horrifying omnipresence of sexual violation, some of the year’s most notable recordings were circling in on the same truth. “I hope you’re somewhere praying,” the pop insurgent Kesha sang in the soaring ballad that marked her return after years of legal battles with her allegedly abusive ex-producer, Dr. Luke. Her forgiveness held the edge of a threat: The justice she has not yet received in court is both a gift and a demand she presents in her music. And Kesha’s song was just the most obviously topical one of many in which women exposed the power dynamics within sexually driven encounters of relationships, revoking the false liberties offered by music’s metaphorical backstage pass.

Some songs, like Big Thief’s “Watering,” address the subject of rape directly. Other remind listeners that violation takes many forms: the abuse rendered by a lover that’s chronicled in Jessica Lea Mayfield’s deeply honest album Sorry Is Gone; the coercion leading to codependency detailed in Jhene Aiko’s Trip; the state-sanctioned abuse Ibeyi exposes in “Deathless,” about a police officer’s harassment of a young woman of color. Rhiannon Giddens followed the path of power’s abuse back to the beginning of America in songs like “At the Purchaser’s Option,” a wrenching, defiant recounting of the rape of a young slave. As women demanded these histories and current realities be commemorated, others shouted for change. “I won’t light myself on fire to keep you warm,” Victoria Ruiz of Downtown Boys snarls in “Promissory Note,” a fast blast connecting street harassment to women’s overall subjugation. In “Wanna Sip,” the opening salvo from her album-length manifesto of feminist lust, Plunge, Karin Dreijer Andersson of Fever Ray makes it clear: “If we do it, it’s my way, cuz how you do it when you do it, it’s not okay.”

This music reflects lived experience. Many women who’ve carved out lives within the popular music world have been waiting for the current reckoning’s avalanche to envelop it. The rumble can now be heard. The screenwriter Jenni Lumet recently accused hip hop pioneer Russell Simmons of rape; he retreated, resigning from his executive positions and vowing to spend his next years listening to women. He may be listening in court. We’ve been here before, with individual offenders throughout the popular music world accused and sometimes banished from the scene, or somehow eluding final judgment. The deeper question is: Why, when the breach of women’s trust is so obviously part of the culture that creates and supports popular music — central, in fact — it is also so difficult to correct?

Kim Gordon (second from left) with the other members of Sonic Youth in 1991. A cornerstone of early indie rock, Gordon both explored and coped with the dominant male energy in her band.

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Let’s just talk about rock and roll, which has been so influential since the 1950s that it’s become as much a lifestyle as a genre. One strange thing about rock is that it perpetually acknowledges its own transgressions, both incorporating them and critiquing them. Warped Tour was in fact supposed to be an antidote to gnarlier festivals, creating a safe space where kids could grow up into healthy headbangers. Indie rock built a whole world based around (supposedly) progressive values. Both carried on even as rock lost dominance in the larger pop world. Warped was viewed by weird kids as an oasis; many parents embraced it, too, as a kind of summer school of rock. Lyman and his crew took this role seriously; even as the whispers about sexual misconduct built to a roar, the tour sought to up its awareness level, inviting bands like the explicitly feminist War on Women to play some dates and making sure the information tables highlighted self-defense groups and those girls’ rock camps.

This mandate — never a factor for other hard rock tours, like Ozzfest — reflects Warped’s core connection to indie rock. Indie’s history has been uplifted by waves of women making much of its best music and leading its most powerful political movements, from The Breeders to riot grrrl to St. Vincent, now a bona-fide rock star. “Rock’s Not Dead, It’s Ruled By Women,” declared the New York Times in September, citing only indie bands as proof. Indie and pop-punk or emo may seem like separate spheres, but they’re more like different life phases. Indie is what many Warped Tour kids graduate into if they continue to be passionate about music after their mall days end. Ask any punk — for example, my daughter’s feminist rock camp instructors — what they loved when they were in middle school, and they’ll probably say emo and pop-punk.

Yet the fundamental masculine bias of both indie and pop punk has remained difficult to redirect. Punk itself evolved from its birth in the 1970s as a fairly open-minded haven for self-styled freaks — including, centrally, women and queer folk — into the more intensely aggressive and homosocial hardcore and thrash metal scenes. Indie, where women did remain visible as players, nonetheless also nurtured a certain boys’ club atmosphere. The biggest stars were either all male, from The Replacements to Nirvana, or ones like Sonic Youth, in which women like bassist Kim Gordon explored and coped with the dominant boy energy in their own bands.

Pop-punk and emo, in fact, seemed to be more welcoming to girls, with it bright hooky hits and sobbing singalong choruses all about broken-down hearts. Just like The Beatles, right? Yet from the beginning — just like The Beatles, in fact — these scenes mostly assigned women one role, the fan role. The listener. “The world is telling me to hold your hand,” Gwen Stefani , one of Warped Tour’s rare female repeat performers, famously sang in her band No Doubt’s 1995 hit “Just a Girl.” She was talking about something bigger than rock — patriarchy, critiqued with a wink for the Top 40 — but also rock itself, where her male bandmates could skateboard along forever while she endured slings and arrows for being too pink, too boopy, too feminine.

Women have shouted back at this silencing throughout the history of punk and indie rock. In 2017, women do seem to have broken down a weight-bearing wall. On NPR Music’s list of the top 50 albums of the year, only two, The National and The War on Drugs, could be classified as a rock album made only by men. All over the musical spectrum, from the political punk of Priests to the bedroom Big Star-isms of Waxahatchee, from Lorde’s indie-leaning pop to Jay Som’s homemade intimacies, from Kesha’s glossy boogie to Hurray For the Riff Raff’s deep inquiry into roots music, women are the ones taking rock’s helm, and often, calling out male oppressors and violators.

The future of rock may truly be female. The present sure feels like it — in the self-selected circles of tastemakers and nerds where rock’s future is debated, anyway. But talk to a thirteen-year-old rocker girl about what’s happening and you might not get the response you’d expect. I had such a conversation with my daughter in the car the other day. It was about another star, Falling In Reverse signer Ronnie Radke, who over the course of a checkered career has been accused of several crimes, including domestic violence (that charge was dropped in 2012 when he pleaded no contest to disturbing the peace.) My kid loves Falling in Reverse. “Do those stories trouble you?” I asked her. “He said he’s sorry,” she answered.

Why would a teenage girl — one who identifies as a feminist — defend a man repeatedly accused of violent crimes against women? Often, it’s because she loves the music he makes. She loves rock and roll. And something was coded into the DNA of rock and roll at its outset — into the very music culture that women are remaking today: the idea that girls matter, but only because of what they inspire men to do.

Elvis Presley and fans in 1956.

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Rock and roll emerged as a cultural force in the mid-1950s, different from the rhythm and blues, country and gospel music from which it borrowed because it belonged to teenagers (white teenagers, specifically.) Its particular spin, its prime idea, was that the creativity and charisma of teenage girls is a source of freedom and power — but not in and of itself, only in relationship to the bad boys and grown crazy cases making this earth-shattering music. The music was a tool that rough men, or strange men, or young men with no particular birthright, could use to defeat the hierarchies that would otherwise bar them from success. These men (sometimes almost boys, but always older than the girls who screamed for them) were molded by young adult managers, record label owners and radio DJ’s to be the stars who’d teach teens what freedom really feels like. Girls motivated these boys, who built a new musical world in order to seduce them. According to rock and roll’s mythology, the girls couldn’t help but respond — they were wild fires themselves, best only quickly encountered, contained, or left behind. “That’s all right, mama, any way you wanna do,” Elvis Presley sang in this first hit in 1954, a cover of an Arthur Crudup song that turned the bluesman’s suave forbearance into something a little more joyful but also angrier. He didn’t really mean it was all right.

One thing it’s easy to forget in our current moment of harsh accusation is that women enjoy sex and want to follow their desires. Female desire has always been difficult for our male-dominated society to recognize. The fact is that throughout the history of rock and roll the girls in the crowd who screamed for the boys on the stage have often genuinely wanted to make it with those boys. Even when they didn’t that’s how their responses were interpreted. The fact that girls as young as twelve were publicly enacting desire was the real source of rock and roll’s convulsions. Chuck Berry, whose genre-crossing pop genius made him one of the few African-Americans allowed in rock and roll’s boys’ club, described the ideal fan in his song 1958 song “Sweet Little Sixteen:” a high school girl with the “grown up blues” whose vast collection of autographs and dance moves makes her an authority, but only in the reflected light of the men onstage making the music that stimulates her. Her power only exists within the limited frame of the rock show, in the bedroom where she retreats to relive her moments of circumscribed glory, and in spaces where men drool over her charms: the dance floor, the star’s Cadillac after the show. Otherwise, Sweet Little Sixteen is back at school, her tight dress left behind in her dresser drawer, the patriarchal order she disturbed still in place. After all, the song makes clear, she had to get her Daddy’s permission to go out rockin’ in the first place.

There were teen boy fans of rock and roll, too, of course, but what they were often buying was their own sexual power, amplified and reflected back — and deceptively packaged, often, as powerlessness. Many teenage boys do not yet fully comprehend their own gendered privilege, and suffer from marginalization for other reasons, including their youth. They may fear becoming their fathers while also longing for approval from them. If there’s no daddy in their lives, they might take on that role too quickly, drawn to the domination it offers but unable to assume the responsibility it requires. Then again, some boys just want to stay boys, awash in boy bliss, making grown-up pursuits like sex just another part of their sloppy explorations of the world.

Elvis Presley, who now seems like a ghost of explosive moments past, was the ungrown father figure the mainstream presented to boys and girls when rock and roll took over. If Warped Tour had been around in 1956, he would have been on it. In performance, as many have noticed, Elvis was a blur — a deep, manly voice with a soft North Mississippi accent; cherub lips and a sharp chin; shaded eyes (often enhanced by makeup) beneath a flop of hair that looked like it was full of auto grease. In life, however — a life observed in detail by the fans who read accounts of his every movement in the press — he was a solid Southerner, a young good ol’ boy. The arc of his early relationships with women, in private and in public, reflects how rock and roll made a particular place for girls and then hemmed most into it. Pre-fame, Presley had many female friends whom he treated as sisterly confidantes, but once his star rose, he surrounded himself with an almost exclusively male “posse” of cronies, and women mostly became fleeting companions. His wife, Priscilla, was 14 when they met. “I’ll give you Elvis’s relationship with Priscilla in a nutshell,” his friend Lamar Fike told biographer Alanna Nash. “You create a statue. And then you get tired of looking at it.”

Just like the men who would later apply guyliner and headline Warped Tour, Elvis loved and related to girlishness. From his first flush of fame onward, he surrounded himself with his female fans, trying to get as close to them as possible — engaging in kissing sessions with groups of them backstage, selecting a few to accompany him at his state fair shows, and regularly hosting “slumber parties” where he’d paint their nails and wash their hair, though as a religious, V.D.-fearing mama’s boy, he apparently stopped himself from having intercourse with them. Elvis’s fascination with teenage girls, his playacting as one of them, intermingled with a desire to control them. “You get ’em young, and you can mold ’em and raise them the way you want ’em to be,” one of his close friends reported him saying.

Capitalism ultimately favors what works, and what Elvis had — his unique blend of softness and prowling desire, love-me-tender vulnerability and masculine entitlement — worked. After his rise, rock and roll forever favored mannish boys who reinforced the genre’s emerging patriarchal order with a wink. In the 1960s it was Mick Jagger; in the 1970s, Robert Plant; then it was Bruce Springsteen, who brought noblesse oblige to the role but nonetheless had his biggest success yelling at women to get into his car. A fleeting moment of masculine self-doubt in the 1990s, still ensconced within the almost entirely male grunge scene, quickly gave way to revivalist swaggerers like The Strokes in the early 2000s. From “Baby, Let’s Play House” to “Under My Thumb” to “Last Night,” women in rock’s fundamental texts are either creatures who need capturing or disruptors who need to be controlled. “When I feel like this, and I want to kiss you baby, don’t say don’t,” Elvis moans in “Don’t,” the 1958 Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller ballad that, today, conjures disturbing associations with date rape. So much of early rock and roll treads this line between persuasion and menace.

Why did teenage girls embrace the men aggressively crossing lines it was in their interest to preserve? Any attempt to comprehend the legacy of rock, and its ongoing influence, must grapple with this question. The simple answer is that these boys were a way out, and girls didn’t see that what lay beyond was also a trap. The wild boys or rock and roll treated power like a toy instead of a weapon; they laughed off the responsibility that shackled women in the 1950s, too. They weren’t marriage material — to many girls, they represented a respite from the stultifying confines of the domestic. A 1958 survey revealed that post-World War II, young men were seeking to marry at a younger age than they had since the 1880s. Girls were expected to start dating at fourteen. Though most in the middle class wanted to go to college, the pressure to marry — to don the mantle of the housewifely Feminine Mystique that Betty Friedan would expose as poisonous in her 1963 bestseller — was greater than ever before. Rock and roll was a way out. It took a while, long enough for the template to be set, for girls to realize it was only a temporary one.

Rolling Stones fans in New York City in June 1964, when the band arrived for its first American tour.

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The limits of the freedom the music and its culture offered came sharply into view in the form of female objectification, harassment and even violation within the very scenes where girls sought liberation. The major scandals that plagued rock and rollers in the 1950s frequently involved sex with a minor. By the 1960s, women artists had been effectively marginalized within rock. This was still the music business, where few women rose to power, and female upstarts broke the rhythm of the boys’ game. Janis Martin, briefly known as “The Female Elvis” for her hip shaking performances, recalled an encounter with country star Porter Wagoner, who shared stages with many male rockers during the 1950s. Sharing a touring bill with him in 1956, she wowed the crowd one night just before he was to take the staged. “[They] just kept yellin’, ‘Janis, Janis, Janis, we want Janis.’ After the show I went to get in Porter’s car, he told me I’d have to find my way to the next town, and that was that. I had to call my daddy up, and he had to drive over 100 miles to come and get me and take me to the other towns booked on that tour.” Unwelcome as she among music’s power players, it’s no wonder that Martin returned to Virginia in 1959 to focus on raising a family.

Rock and roll changed popular music in many positive ways: It gave greater voice to youth and disrupted a pop system that favored sometimes bland polish over enterprising energy. But it didn’t enact a revolution in social mores. Its emergence reinforced rather than mitigated racial segregation within the music business. And it set women artists back. According to Billboard, women performed a quarter to a half of the top 20 songs of the year between 1950 and 1956, the year when Elvis claimed a quarter of the chart. In 1957 and 1958, only one woman did. Rock and roll had changed everything, all right: It made women visible and audible in pop music’s crowd while virtually excluded them from both the stage and most of the rooms where its business took place. After rock and roll the history of popular music becomes one of male assertions of power interrupted by multi-gendered, multiracial, sexually diverse interruptions in that pattern. Women attracted to rock, like me, loved it in part because it was a challenge. We had to fight, sneak, be extra clever to fit within it.

Women continually did so, as they have in 2017. In the early 1960s, female songwriters (and their sympathetic male collaborators) working with teenage girls in groups like the Marvelettes and the Shirelles staged a kind of intervention. Girl group songs pointed toward the responsibilities and risks of romance and openly acknowledged women’s vulnerability. This surge of empowerment was broken, in part, by the presence on the scene of abusers like the producer Phil Spector, who often kept his wife and musical protégé, Ronnie, locked inside their mansion even as her group the Ronettes became international superstars. Soon enough, the boys came crashing back, anyway.

Girl groups were a direct source for boy rock’s second wave, led by The Beatles, who covered their songs on their early albums and enlisted Ronnie as a tour guide when they first came to New York. But despite their open love for their female peers, The Beatles put girls firmly back in the audience — at first, their screaming fans were as much a media sensation as was the band itself. Along with their more menacing cousins The Rolling Stones, The Beatles established the sound of what would come to be known as “classic rock”: driven, exploratory, alternately romantic and predatory toward women, and made almost exclusively by groups of men. Classic rock also gave African-Americans a final push out of the genre. They created parallel worlds like soul, which, though still male-dominated, generally made much more room for women.

In white America, classic rock reigned into the 1970s, when it morphed into arena rock — a cartoon realm that openly celebrated women’s objectification. Album covers, ad campaigns and images published in the rock press of the time overflowed with images of women’s body parts; men, too, were often shirtless and even naked, ready for sex at all times (but not with each other; though a homoerotic frisson has always wafted through classic rock, actual expressions of same-sex love remained verboten outside the freaky subdivision of glam). The arena rock touring circuit devised strict and very limited roles for women — they were publicists, wives or groupies, sustaining the ecosystem that allowed men to remain on the road in military-style sieges of the heartland, but barely ever wielding any true authority. The problem of female pleasure was solved, at least on the surface, by the figure of the groupie — a woman who existed for sex, and loved sex (often sincerely), but never threatened the status quo.

And so the pattern has continued. In the late 1970s punk arose in protest against classic rock’s excesses, and for a time lent power to feminist women and queer liberationists. But then punk became hardcore, a stringent, macho realm where women had no place, and indie rock, an umbrella term for many small scenes that did welcome women, but favored ones who played down their femininity. In the rock mainstream, heavy metal ruled in two forms: the puritan male reformism of thrash bands like Metallica, and the ass-slapping buffoonery of hair metal bands. The 1990s brought questions of sexism to the forefront again within the expressly feminist subcultures of riot grrrl and the Lilith Fair, but that strong moment for women in rock didn’t last. Within a couple of years, one of the fiercest backlashes against women moving into the rock sphere took place as hybridizing white rappers like Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock led huge audiences in chants of “show us your tits!” before performing songs with choruses declaring, “I did it all for the nookie!” In 1999, four women were raped at a festival celebrating the thirty-year anniversary of the classic-rock watershed event Woodstock. This was the world in which Warped Tour was born, and where its confusing legacy resides.

Throughout rock and roll’s history, women have protested this status quo even as they’ve found a way to feel free within it. Every generation has seen those who fight to raise each other’s’ consciousness and imagine a new reality. Right now, feminist punk is a powerful force, as it was in the 1990s and, before the word “punk” had been coined within music circles, in the softer-sounding but equally radical women’s music movement of the 1970s. But think of all that’s been forgiven over the past century-plus. Little Richard was a voyeur who, in his own memoir, claims masturbatory behavior very similar to that of the now shamed Louis C.K. John Lennon admitted that the notorious lyrics in “Getting Better All the Time” — “I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved” — were autobiographical. Heavy metal bands from Led Zeppelin to Def Leppard used groupies and discarded them to the delight of the rock press. These incidents and many more are rock lore, the foundation of the music’s mythology. It’s not something a feminist, male or female, can erase with individual actions.

To understand the hold masculine dominance maintains on rock and its antecedents, it’s necessary to not simply celebrate how individuals or groups of women have overcome or sidestepped it, but to examine the ways in which messages and behaviors are reinforced, and how even those who suffer under their say want to be part of the world they generate. That means confronting the givens of rock and roll: the emotional dynamics presented in the music as natural and fundamental, the roles different players can occupy both within fantasy scenarios and in real life, the rationalizations and reinforcements that have allowed those roles and customs to survive. It’s important to consider how women have survived within rock’s priapic playground for so long: sometimes through compromise, often through subversion and resistance. There has to be a way for girls to find themselves in the mosh pit, and on the stage, without fearing abuse. Change will only truly come as the playing field shift, with more women in the lead and men able to accept that.

Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield performs in Philadelphia in 2015.

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If a best-albums list dominated by women is to be more than an aberration, the rock world, such as it is in a larger pop universe where R&B often feels more experimental and hip hop more universally relevant, has to change from the center to the edge. I see that change happening, sometimes explosively, sometimes in increments. I heard it happening when Katie Crutchfield, fronting a version of Waxahatchee that’s nearly all women and which includes her sister Allison, called out a male heckler during a set — and the entire crowd was on her side. I followed its path along the fretboard of Adrianne Lenker’s guitar as she led her band — no doubt about who was leading — through her complicated, beautiful songs about power and erasure, memory and survival. I wept at what it uncovered, listening to the histories reconstructed within the old and finally honest American tales of Rhiannon Giddens and Hurray for the Riff Raff’s Alynda Segarra. I was awed by it, watching Perfume Genius openly express queer joy and desire — because dismantling the myth of heteronormativity is part of this transformation, too.

I witnessed it when Jason Isbell stood onstage with his wife and creative partner Amanda Shires and explained that a female artist would open every night of their six-night Ryman Auditorium run, because women make the Nashville sound as surely as any man does. And I danced to it, alongside my daughter, when pop’s brightest rock star, Kesha, played that same mother church of music — reclaiming her story after years of struggling for it.

There is much more to do. Kesha lost in court against Dr. Luke, even if she won in popular opinion. The year’s top-selling rock acts are still all-male bands. Rock needs to remake itself in new shapes, within new communities, if it is to thrive as a space of genuine equality and freedom. More women need to lead, not just as the faces and voices of rock and roll, but as its producers, it engineers, its tour managers, its architects. Girls not just to the front, but everywhere! And so I have a proposal: not a blanket solution, but a step. Kevin Lyman is retiring Warped Tour one year shy of its 25th anniversary. He could give it one more run, with women, LGBTQ and gender non-binary folk in the headlining spots, and behind the soundboards, managing the artists, on any available seat on the bus. Let’s dream of a new lineup, a new paradigm, the true end of the boys’ club. Men can still participate. How about they stand in the crowd and scream?

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Forum: Examining Discrimination Against Native Americans

How do Native-Americans experience discrimination in daily life?

A poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health is examining the extent of discrimination against five major ethnic and racial groups in America today. It finds that Native Americans experience very high rates of discrimination in everyday life.

More than a third of Native Americans and their family members have experienced slurs and violence, and close to a third have faced discrimination in the workplace and when interacting with the police. Native Americans who live in majority-Native American areas are significantly more likely to experience this kind of discrimination, the poll finds.

The results for Native Americans in the poll were released earlier this fall and will be highlighted in an expert panel discussion to be live-streamed here at 12 p.m. ET Tuesday, Dec. 12, as part of The Forum at the Harvard Chan School.

With unprecedented documentation, the poll provides results from police interaction, job applications, health care, racial slurs and more. The Forum will explore the results and their implications for society.

This poll is examining discrimination among African-Americans, Latinos, whites, Asian-Americans, women, and LGBTQ adults on their experiences with discrimination.

Joe Neel, deputy senior supervising editor on NPR’s Science Desk, will moderate the discussion with:

Robert Blendon, Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Kennedy School

Stephanie Fryberg, Associate Professor for American Indian Studies and Psychology, University of Washington

Michael Painter, Senior Program Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Former Chief of Medical Staff at the Seattle Indian Health Board

Yvette Roubideaux, Director of the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center and Former Director, Indian Health Service

Our ongoing series “You, Me and Them: Experiencing Discrimination in America” is based in part on a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. We have released results for African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, whites, Native Americans and women.

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Arctic's Temperature Continues To Run Hot, Latest 'Report Card' Shows

Melt ponds dot a stretch of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, north of Greenland, as seen during an Operation IceBridge flight on July 24.

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The Arctic is a huge, icy cap on the planet that acts like a global air conditioner. But the air conditioner is breaking down, according to scientists who issued a grim “report card” on the Arctic today.

They say the North Pole continues to warm at an alarming pace — twice the rate as the rest of the planet, on average. This year was the Arctic’s second-warmest in at least 1,500 years, and possibly longer. The warmest year ever was 2016.

Researchers say there was less winter ice in the Arctic Ocean than ever observed. And ocean water in parts of the polar Barents and Chukchi seas was a whopping 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than just a few decades ago.

It’s a trend that has some calling the state of the Arctic a “new normal.” Arctic scientist Jeremy Mathis says that term doesn’t work for him.

“There is no normal,” he says. “That’s what so strange about what’s happening in the Arctic. … The environment is changing so quickly in such a short amount of time that we can’t quite get a handle on what this new state is going to look like.”

Mathis runs the Arctic program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He says changes in the Arctic are going to affect everybody in the Northern Hemisphere.

That’s because masses of air and ocean currents circulate between a cold Arctic and the warmer parts of the Northern Hemisphere. It’s sort of like a conveyor belt that’s driven largely by the temperature difference, or gradient, between the two regions.

With less snow and ice to reflect the sun’s rays, the Arctic isn’t so cool anymore. “The heat is not being reflected back into space,” Mathis says. “The heat is now being absorbed into the land and into the [polar] ocean.”

And he says that’s going to alter the weather — things like the jet stream and rainstorms and hurricanes. “Whether they be wildfires out in California or hurricanes down in the Gulf,” Mathis says, “we have to think about the impacts that changes in the Arctic are having on those disruptive climate events.”

Scientists say they can’t attribute any particular drought or hurricane to changes in the Arctic. But computer simulations show changes.

For example, wind. “We’re talking about a reduction of wind power all the way across the Northern Hemisphere, mid latitude,” says Kristopher Karnauskas, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, he says average wind speed could drop significantly over the next 80 years. That could put a damper on wind energy.

“For example,” he says, “in the central United States, the models are predicting somewhere between 10 and 40 percent reduction compared to present day amount of wind power.” A day that is on the low end of windy would, on average, become the norm.

Karnauskas notes that lots of other weather phenomena affect wind besides what happens at the North Pole, so those impacts could be blunted. But his models show that the Arctic is a big player. “We live in between the Arctic and the equator,” he says, “and those are like the two ends of the global energy machine, the weather machine.”

And there’s more. A warmer Arctic could cause more drought in California.

Atmospheric researcher Ivana Cvijanovic also ran computer simulations of a warmer Arctic, at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where she works. She found that air circulation over the eastern Pacific could change in a two-step process that ends up steering rain from the Pacific away from California by the end of the century, or even before. “So on average, it will be 10 to 15 percent drier,” she says.

Cvijanovic notes some years would still be wet and that other weather patterns outside the Arctic, things such as the El Nino weather cycle in the Pacific, could counteract that drying effect. But again, the Arctic effect is powerful. “It’s not just a problem for polar bears,” she points out. “It’s not just an isolated problem. It can come back to haunt everyone.”

Writing in the journal Nature Communications, Cvijanovic says it’s too early to blame the Arctic for California’s recent drought. But she says that drought is a good illustration of what the future could bring.

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Amber-Trapped Tick Suggests Ancient Bloodsuckers Feasted On Feathered Dinosaurs

A tick grasping a dinosaur feather, preserved in 99 million-year-old amber from Myanmar.

Peñalver et al/Nature Communications

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Peñalver et al/Nature Communications

Ticks sucked the blood of feathered dinosaurs some 99 million years ago, a new study suggests.

Modern ticks are infamous for biting humans and other mammals. But ticks are very ancient, and scientists who study their evolution have long wondered what (or who) the little vampires ate before there were mammals to feed on. Feathered dinosaurs apparently were among the possible creatures on the menu.

The findings rely partially on amber specimens from Myanmar. In one of them, a tick is trapped in the hardened resin alongside a feather from a dinosaur that lived during the Cretaceous Period.

“Amber is fossilized resin, so it’s able to capture small bits of the ecosystem almost instantly,” says Ricardo Pérez-de la Fuente, a research fellow at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and the lead author of the study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. “Amber can actually preserve interactions between organisms. This is the case with the feather and the grasping tick.”

The tick-and-feather pair support a theory that Pérez-de la Fuente had already spent years developing, based on other ticks trapped in amber from the same period. Those ticks didn’t have dinosaur feathers encased with them, but there were little hairs. The hairs resemble those left behind by a type of beetle larva that, today, lives in bird nests.

“We had this indirect evidence about the relationship between ticks and feathered dinosaurs,” Pérez-de la Fuente says, but the researchers didn’t have any direct evidence for the relationship until they saw the tick and feather trapped together in amber.

“The paper is a pleasant surprise,” says Ben Mans, a paleontologist who has studied tick evolution but wasn’t involved in the current study, in an email to NPR. Until now, he says, researchers assumed ancient ticks fed on the blood of early amphibians, reptiles and the ancestors of modern mammals, not on feathered dinosaurs.

Mans cautions the evidence doesn’t necessarily exclude other types of animals, since feathered dinosaurs were not the only ones that lived in nests. He also says follow-up research needs to be done to understand how a new ancient species of tick identified in the study fits into the bigger tick family tree.

Pérez-de la Fuente acknowledges there is more work to be done to clarify the ancient origins of ticks and their blood-sucking behaviors. For example, one amber specimen contains a tick engorged with blood, but Pérez-de la Fuente and his co-authors couldn’t figure out how to analyze that blood because the tick wasn’t entirely encased in amber, so the iron in the blood was contaminated with minerals.

Deinocroton draculi ticks preserved in amber. The ticks, named for the blood-sucking vampire Dracula, are a newly discovered ancient species.

Peñalver et al/Nature Communications

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Peñalver et al/Nature Communications

That specimen and the others in the study were gathered in Myanmar, which is famous for its large amber deposits. “Private collectors had actually purchased the amber online,” Pérez-de la Fuente says. One collector donated a piece of amber to the American Museum of Natural History. Another helped analyze ticks in amber he purchased, and is listed as an author of the new study.

“We actually broke the wall between private collectors and scientists which is very uncommon, especially in paleontology,” Pérez-de la Fuente says. “That by itself is a success.”

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Jack White Announces New Album 'Boarding House Reach' With A Psycho-Collage

Jack White’s new album is called Boarding House Reach.

David James Swanson/Courtesy of the artist

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David James Swanson/Courtesy of the artist

Jack White‘s had a lot of time between now and 2014’s Lazaretto. He made another record with The Dead Weather, co-wrote “Don’t Hurt Yourself” with Beyonce for Lemonade, helped make the roots-music documentary American Epic for PBS with T Bone Burnett and Robert Redford, opened a vinyl plant in his hometown and continued to release records on his label Third Man at a fast clip. That’s not only a lot of work, but a lifetime’s worth of experience to absorb, and that list barely scratches the surface.

Maybe that explains this teaser video for Jack White’s upcoming album, Boarding House Reach, which currently has no release date. It is a psycho-collage of sound; boom-bap, White’s signature guitar fuzz, White’s not-yet-signature rapping style, old-school R&B, ragtime piano, damaged beats and oscillator balladry are all broken up by seconds of harsh noise. Sometimes, it appears to collapse on itself.


Maybe his comments from an early November appearance at the Making Vinyl conference in Detroit helps to explain: “It’s a bizarre one. I’ve just got to let it settle. I need to listen to it by myself. I haven’t been able to listen to it by myself for a while.”

And who knows what gimmicks he has planned, if any, for its vinyl release like he did with Lazaretto. Maybe Jack White will release a record that can stream your Netflix queue on the ceiling, but only after you watch his documentary It Might Get Loud. Or the record can only be played on a gyroscopic turntable, which has yet to be invented. In any case, we hope it’s just as bizarre as White promises Boarding House Reach to be.

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Lucy Dacus 'Night Shift' Will Be One Of 2018's Great Songs

Lucy Dacus, Historian

I know it seems absurd and headline-grabbing, but honestly this song is going to be the high bar to hit for guitar-driven, brokenhearted love songs in the coming year.


Lucy Dacus has been singing “Night Shift” since the day after she wrote it, opening at The National Theater in Richmond, Va., back in 2016. I’ve heard her perform it a few times now and it’s so damn visceral for her and to the audience. It’s hard to forget a song that begins with the lines:

The first time I tasted somebody else’s spit, I had a coughing fit.
I mistakenly called them by your name.
I was let down, it wasn’t the same.

Courtesy of the artist

This stunning song will be the opening track to Lucy Dacus’ second album, Historian. The track runs the span of musical emotion from frail to fierce,clocking in at almost 6:32. “Night Shift” is filled with a helpful heaping of resentment: “You don’t deserve what you don’t respect/Don’t deserve what you say you love and then neglect.”

Lucy Dacus wrote to me, saying, “This is the only breakup song I’ve ever written. For a long time I didn’t believe expressing this sort of negativity was productive, but it’s less productive to resist the truth of a situation. It’s a hopeful song.”

And indeed it ends with this thought, which is at one moment bitter but with an ending that sounds, to me, optimistic and filled with an understanding of how time heals.

You got a 9 to 5, so I’ll take the night shift
and I’ll never see you again if I can help it.
In five years I hope the songs feel like covers,
dedicated to new lovers.

Despite the nature of this opening song, Lucy Dacus told me that Historian “isn’t a breakup album, but it is about loss and how far hope can go.”

Historian is out March 2 on Matador Records.

1. Night Shift
2. Addictions
3. The Shell
4. Nonbeliever
5. Yours & Mine
6. Body To Flame
7. Timefighter
8. Next Of Kin
9. Pillar Of Truth
10. Historians

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Russian Olympic Head Says 200 Of Russia's Athletes Might Compete Under Neutral Flag

Russian short track athletes, first row, and ice hockey players wearing sweatshirts with the words “Russia is in my heart” attend a Russian Olympic Committee meeting Tuesday. The Russian committee said it will support athletes who compete at the 2018 Winter Games despite a ban on the national team.

Ivan Sekretarev/AP

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Ivan Sekretarev/AP

Russia’s Olympic Committee is backing a plan for Russian athletes to compete under a neutral flag in the upcoming winter Olympics, saying it will support their participation. Despite doping sanctions against the national team, the Russian group’s head says 200 of the country’s athletes could wind up going to PyeongChang.

The decision comes one week after the International Olympic Committee suspended Russia’s Olympic Committee and effectively banned the country from having an official presence at the 2018 PyeongChang games, as punishment for Russia’s widespread and systemic cheating by athletes using performance-enhancing drugs.

Although the national committee was banned, the IOC also “created a path for clean individual athletes to compete in PyeongChang” — providing the athletes can pass strict scrutiny. Instead of wearing the official Russian uniform, they would compete under the title “Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)” and hear the Olympic anthem rather than their national anthem.

On Monday, a group of Russian athletes issued a statement through the ROC saying that they want to compete in South Korea, despite the troubling circumstances and the humiliation of not being able to openly represent Russia.

The ROC’s decision came at an annual Olympic meeting, at which its president, Alexander Zhukov, said that the organization had absorbed the brunt of the IOC’s punishment so that its athletes could still have a chance to compete. Zhukov said 200 or more Russian athletes might participate in PyeongChang, depending on whether they win individual approvals.

Глава ОКР Александр Жуков:
“ОКР принял удар на себя, чтобы дать возможность спортсменам реализовать свою олимпийскую мечту. Олимпийские лицензии на Игры-2018 могут завоевать более двухсот российских спортсменов».

— Olympic Russia (@Olympic_Russia) December 12, 2017

Zhukov added, according to state-run Tass media, “However, it will be strictly up to the IOC (the International Olympic Committee) to define the number of invitations and a national delegation’s composition.”

In recent weeks, the IOC has been issuing a steady flow of sanctions against Russia’s Olympic athletes who were caught doping during the Sochi Winter Olympics of 2014. This morning, the Olympics’ governing body announced it was punishing six athletes from Russia’s women’s ice hockey team, disqualifying the squad’s results in Sochi and imposing lifetime bans that render the athletes ineligible for upcoming Olympics.

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