Top Democrat Says Election Will Decide DACA's Fate

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, now says that the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will be determined by the upcoming midterm elections.

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J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., has long led the push to provide a permanent legal status to the so-called “DREAMers” — young adults in the United States illegally who were brought to the country as children.

Durbin was in the mix on multiple bipartisan deals in recent months, as the clock ticked toward a March 5 expiration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which President Trump decided in September 2017 to end.

But with Congress still gridlocked on DACA and the Supreme Court refusing to intervene in two federal cases negating that deadline, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat seems to be throwing in the towel.

“This election, the election of new members to the House and Senate, will decide the fate of this issue,” Durbin told NPR’s All Things Considered on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court rejected a Trump administration request that it take up DACA. Two lower courts have blocked the government from ending the DACA program. With the cases likely to take months, if not more than a year, to possibly make their way back to the highest court, DACA will remain in place for the extended future.

Until the lower courts had blocked DACA’s expiration, Congress had been working to make DACA permanent by the March 5 deadline. While the program itself enjoys broad support among Democrats and Republicans, Trump and GOP leaders had insisted that any measure making it permanent also include money for a border wall, as well as restrictions on future legal immigration.

Two weeks ago, multiple immigration measures were brought to the Senate floor for votes, but all failed to earn the 60 votes needed to stay alive. Two narrow measures came close, but President Trump tanked their chances by threatening to veto any immigration measure that did not include his legal immigration demands.

Trump’s preferred measure got less support than anything else the Senate voted on that week.

“We learned something during the course of this [debate], and it was unsettling,” Durbin told NPR. “We learned what the president’s real priorities were. The president said, ‘Let’s help these young people. We need to do something to fix DACA.’ And yet given that opportunity, he rejected it. It turns out this debate wasn’t about a wall, it was about a new immigration policy in America; it was about rejecting the notion that we are a nation of immigrants.”

Durbin was one of the lawmakers in the Oval Office when Trump used vulgar language to refer to African countries during a meeting about a bipartisan DACA fix. Anger over that statement — and over Trump’s refusal to consider a narrow DACA bill — led to a brief partial federal government shutdown, when Democrats voted down a short-term spending bill.

“Who knew when we got into Trump presidency that we would reach a point where Sen. McConnell would feel compelled to bring this matter to the floor and give us a week’s time,” Durbin said of the promise the majority leader made to Democrats to end the stalemate. “We managed to reach that point and so we had our chance — we came close but not close enough to win.”

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Trump Backs Conflicting Gun Measures While Negotiating With Lawmakers On TV

President Trump speaks, watched by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, during a meeting with bipartisan members of Congress on school and community safety at the White House on Wednesday.

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In a freewheeling meeting with lawmakers on efforts to curtail gun violence, President Trump appeared to throw his support behind a number of conflicting measures, including some that are opposed by the powerful gun lobby.

During the gathering at the White House of both GOP and Democratic lawmakers, the president showed an openness to expanding background checks, possibly raising the age to purchase AR-15 rifles and also overriding due process, if necessary, in order to take guns away from mentally ill people or those who had been red-flagged as potential dangers, as the admitted shooter in Parkland, Fla., two weeks ago had been.

Trump bluntly told GOP lawmakers that any effort to include a concealed carry reciprocity measure with a gun bill would effective sink its changes — which is due to firm opposition from Senate Democrats. But there were other moments where the president showed a naivite of the lawmaking process, suggesting that it would be easy to get 60 votes for a bill to pass the Senate, suggesting merging some incompatible ideas and chiding lawmakers for being too beholden to the National Rifle Association — a group from which he’s enjoyed broad support and remains particularly chummy with its leaders.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters the White House meeting did little to advance the debate in Congress over legislation aimed at curbing gun violence.

“It’s still unclear to me what can actually pass, and my experience is these things are harder to do than they sound. So I think we’ll sleep on it and see where we are tomorrow,” he said.

The president repeatedly challenged long-standing GOP orthodoxy on gun policy in today’s meeting, leaving legislators bewildered by what happens next and what, precisely, Trump actually supports.

“I think everybody is trying to absorb what we just heard,” Cornyn said. “He’s a unique president and I think if he was focused on a specific piece of legislation rather than a grab bag of ideas than I think he could have a lot of influence, but right now we don’t have that.”

Emphasis on comprehensive legislation

Trump underscored that he wants a bill that will address many issues he believes has contributed to mass shootings over the past few decades, ranging from background check loopholes to mental health legislation.

“We can really get there but we have to do it,” Trump said at the outset of the meeting.

There are two major bipartisan bills the president seized upon, and even suggested that they could be merged. First, he voiced support the effort by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., which failed in 2013 in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, that would have expanded background checks.

Trump expressed disbelief that such a bill didn’t pass after such a devastating attack that killed 20 young children and six adults. And chided that one reason it failed was because then-President Obama didn’t sufficiently support it — despite the fact that the Democrat spent considerable time and political capital to back its passage, calling it “a pretty shameful day for Washington” when it fell just six votes short of the 60 votes needed to advance in the Senate.

Trump asked what the bill did to address raising the age from 18 to 21 for some firearm purchases like AR-15s which have been used in several deadly shootings. Toomey responded that it didn’t currently address it, to which Trump retorted that it was because “you’re afraid of the NRA.”

The second bill Trump signaled his support for is the “Fix NICS” bill proposed by Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., which would improve reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System which they hope will flag people who shouldn’t be able to purchase guns.

Murphy, who has been a leading voice for gun control especially after the 2012 elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., complained that they haven’t been able to get anywhere significant in the past few years because “the gun lobby has a veto power.”

“If all we end up doing is the stuff that the gun industry supports, then this just isn’t worth it,” the Connecticut Democrat said.

He also argued that implementing universal background checks was critical, citing statistics that gun murders in states with such checks have dropped by over one-third. Currently, background checks at gun shows and on internet sales aren’t federally mandated. The NRA has opposed such an expansion.

Later on, Trump again posited he would be willing to buck the NRA if necessary — despite the fact he’s repeatedly assured the lobbying group he’s a loyal ally, had lunch over the weekend with the group’s leaders and said earlier in the meeting that he’s a “big fan” of the group.

“They have great power over you people. They have less power over me,” Trump said, latter adding that, “Some of you people are petrified of the NRA. You can’t be petrified.”

“Take the gun first, go through due process second”

One of the more surprising stances Trump took appeared to flaunt due process for gun owners — and one that is sure to enrage the NRA.

After Vice President Pence began to talk about how he and the president had conversations with governors earlier this week, Trump interjected that people should “take the firearms first and then go to court” if there is a concern about someone having a gun and potentially being unstable or likely to commit violence.

“A lot of times by the time you go to court, it takes so long to go to court to get the due process procedures, I like taking the guns early,” Trump continued.

The president cited multiple warnings that lawmakers had about the Parkland shooter that went ignored by law enforcement.

“Take the gun first, go through due process second,” Trump said.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., a frequent critic of the president, was not amused by such a suggestion.

“Strong leaders don’t automatically agree with the last thing that was said to them. We have the Second Amendment and due process of law for a reason,” Sasse said in a statement after the meeting. “We’re not ditching any Constitutional protections simply because the last person the President talked to today doesn’t like them.”

At last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump warned the crowd that it was Democrats who would “take away your Second Amendment…which we will never allow that.”

Doubling down on arming teachers

Trump did reiterate his support for one measure the NRA has heavily backed — arming some teachers and school personnel, ending gun-free school zones as a way to solidify school security.

“You’ve got to have defense too,” the president said in his opening remarks. “You can’t just be sitting ducks, and that’s exactly what we’ve allowed people in these buildings to be.”

“They’re not going to come in when they know they’re going to come out dead,” Trump later added, though he did seem to suggest it could be an issue left up to individual states.

Some lawmakers, such as Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., who was critically shot last June during a congressional baseball practice, spoke out in support of such a proposal. Others, including Rep. Ted Deutsch, D-Fla., who represents Parkland, said he and many others oppose such measures.

Will any of this matter?

While the meeting did show that there could be some consensus reached on these issues, Trump has often thrown his support behind measures, only to see those endorsements walked back later by White House staff or contradicted by the president himself. That’s on top of the fact that the president often appears highly influenced by the last person he talked to about an issue. So anything Trump appeared to get behind or suggest at the meeting should be taken with a grain of salt.

A similar bipartisan meeting happened in early January on efforts to field a comprehensive immigration bill which would address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In that meeting, Trump suggested he would sign any bill lawmakers sent him and that he would take any heat and expected backlash from the anti-immigration wing, which has been a major bloc of support for the president.

But later Trump insisted that any bill contain not only funding for his border wall but cuts to legal immigration, which was a non-starter with Democrats and even some Republicans. Ultimately, many proposals failed earlier this month in the Senate.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. — a sometimes critic, sometimes ally of Trump — expressed some skepticism after the meeting and also issued a warning.

“If the president has another one of these sessions and he doesn’t follow through — it’s going to hurt him. It’s going to hurt the Republican Party,” Graham told CNN. “I’ve seen this movie before. If it ends up like immigration he’s done himself a lot of harm.”

Cornyn also said many of Trump’s comments would not sway the debate. “I wouldn’t confuse what he said with what can actually pass. I don’t expect to see any great divergence in terms of people’s views on the Second Amendment, for example.”

Cornyn is still supporting his incremental, bipartisan bill co-authored with Murphy, the Connecticut Democrat, to improve the current background check system. But without broad agreement in the Senate, the legislation could easily get bogged down in more controversial gun debates.

“It’s pretty clear to me that we’re not going to get that consent agreement so that means [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell] is going to have to make a decision on how to proceed and how much floor time he’s willing to commit to this,” Cornyn said.

Earlier in the week Cornyn has expressed hope that Congress could act on the bill this week, but he said today it is clear that will not happen. Like many lawmakers, he was candid that this gun debate may again yield no tangible legislative results.

“I think the deadline is going to be the next mass shooting. It’s only a matter of time, and if we don’t do something I think there’s going to be a heavy price to pay,” he said.

The Texas Republican added: “I don’t want to meet another family who lost a loved one in a mass shooting and think we could have done something which would have prevented this, but we didn’t do it because we didn’t act.”

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Spotify Files Papers For Its Entry To The Stock Market

Daniel Ek, CEO of Swedish music streaming service Spotify, in Tokyo in 2016. The company is expected to go public late next month or early April.

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See SPOT list.

Spotify, the world’s most-used on-demand music streaming service, has pulled the curtain back on its New York Stock Exchange debut, expected in late March or early April, when it will trade under the symbol SPOT, according to its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

As NPR has reported, Spotify is not entering the market through an initial public offering, but will simply list its shares on the NYSE, saving the company an estimated $300 million in the fees usually associated with going public.

Spotify was launched in Stockholm in 2006, by Daniel Ek, now its CEO, and Martin Lorentzon, its director. It wasn’t the first “on-demand” streaming service — that distinction is Rhapsody’s, launched in 2001 — but it was the first to gain significant traction with consumers. According to its filing, Spotify is now used in 61 countries by 159 million people a month, 71 million of whom pay for the service.

Despite the fact that most of its users don’t pay, the 71 million who do generate 90 percent of the company’s revenue, according to the filing. But, like many tech companies that focus on acquiring users over generating money, it has yet to turn a profit — last year alone, the company made $4.98 billion, but lost $1.5 billion.

Despite its own questionable fiscal health, the company is given a lot of credit for turning around the fortunes of the recorded music industry. Most of the money Spotify makes goes right back into the source of the music it distributes to its customers. Of the nearly $5 billion is made last year, $3.95 billion went to pay for the music it streamed.

That money has been a lifeline for the recorded music business, which went through a long period of contraction, from 1999 through 2014, losing 40 percent of its revenues. In 2016, streaming added $1 billion in revenues to the global recorded music industry.

The same labels it’s helping to save also hold Spotify’s fate in their hands, however. According to its filing, four companies — Universal Music Group, Sony Music, Warner Music Group and Merlin, which represents tens of thousands of independent record labels — control 87 percent of the music people listened to on the platform last year.

That concentration of power — what Spotify calls its “lack of control over the providers of our content and their effect on our access to music” — coupled with the extremely complex system around licensing and legally playing music, mean it’s not completely in control of its own fate. Compare this to a company like Netflix, which now drives its viewers toward films and shows it has created.

Just before the turn of the new year, Spotify was sued — not for the first time — for $1.6 billion over a failure to pay artists, over what it says is a complex system.

Wednesday’s filing also makes mention of some controversies in Spotify’s past. Recently, a scam based on a clever manipulation of robot-driven streams of fake music was alleged by Music Business Worldwide. The filing, among the many risks it lists, says: “… an individual might generate fake users to stream songs repeatedly, thereby generating revenue each time the song is streamed. … In 2017, we detected instances of botnet operators creating fake new User accounts seemingly for the above purposes.”

Similarly, last year the company was accused of hiring producers — at the time, what were called “fake artists” — to create music for its own (very popular) playlists in order to fulfill what it perceived as a demand from its customers. The filing mentions it may in the future “expend substantial financial resources on [among other things] … creating new forms of original content.”

The question, as ever, remains: What will the future hold?

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LISTEN: Dolphins Use Targeted Echolocation To Plan Their Hunting Dives

A new study suggests Risso’s dolphins, which are common along the U.S. Pacific Coast, use past experiences to plan their dives for food.

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J. Maughn/Flickr

The central challenge of dolphin existence is that your oxygen is on the surface and your dinner is in the deep. Hang out breathing air too long and you’ll starve. Dive too deep for food and you’ll drown.

To thrive, dolphins must use their oxygen wisely. A new study of one type of dolphin suggests they do that by carefully planning each dive, using information from previous dives to predict where food might be.

The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of Experimental Biology, used a relatively new technology to record the locations and vocalizations of 33 Risso’s dolphins as they swam and hunted off San Clemente Island in Southern California. Researchers led by Patricia Arranz of the University of La Laguna in Spain used suction cups to attach small recorders to the dolphins.

The devices produced high-quality recordings of the sounds dolphins make when they are hunting. In the excerpt embedded below, you can hear the individual echolocation clicks a dolphin uses to search for food, Arranz explained via email, as well as what researchers refer to as “buzzes.”

Buzzes are “faster, lower-intensity click sequences [during] prey capture attempts,” she explained. You can imagine the dolphin using clicks to locate a squid, for example, and the buzzing as it approaches and attempts to catch the squid.

Here’s what the dolphins sound like when they’re in a group — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration made this recording of Risso’s dolphins for separate research, using a special microphone placed directly in the water.

Using the recordings of individual animals, as well as detailed information about where prey were lurking, Arranz and colleagues in California and the United Kingdom set out to test the hypothesis that dolphins might be planning their dives. Such a finding would be controversial.

There is widespread disagreement about the ability of nonhuman animals to use past information (there was a fish at this depth recently) to inform future actions (therefore I should focus my limited oxygen on hunting at that depth now). A 2016 review of the scientific literature suggested that “only humans are able to construct and reflect on narratives of their lives — and flexibly compare alternative scenarios of the remote future.”

“This remains a contentious subject,” the authors of the new study write in their introduction, before laying out evidence that Risso’s dolphins were doing just that kind of planning.

The researchers found that after dolphins found success hunting at a certain depth, as evidenced by the buzzing sounds that accompany attacks on prey, they adjusted the volume and frequency of their echolocation clicks to focus on that depth during future dives.

Although it’s possible other air-breathing marine mammals have similar abilities, dolphins are particularly useful for research because they use audible echolocation, which announces their intentions.

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Pedestrian Fatalities Remain At 25-Year High For Second Year In A Row

Pedestrians cross the street as traffic moves along 42nd Street in Midtown Manhattan on Jan. 25.

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After two years of marked increases, the number of pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. is holding steady with nearly 6,000 pedestrians killed in 2017, according to estimates from the Governors Highway Safety Association.

That’s a 25-year high, GHSA says. While the rise “appears to be tapering off,” the group said, the “continuation of pedestrian fatalities at virtually the same pace … raises continued concerns about the nation’s alarming pedestrian death toll.”

The high rate of pedestrian deaths comes as deaths from other types of traffic fatalities are dropping. The group notes that improvements in vehicle safety make crashes safer for people inside cars — but just as deadly for pedestrians.

Pedestrian deaths rose by 27 percent from 2007 to 2016, while other types of traffic deaths dropped by 14 percent, GHSA reports. As a result, pedestrian deaths make up a growing proportion of overall motor vehicle fatalities.

The GHSA report is based on preliminary data from state highway authorities. Twenty-three states and Washington, D.C., had increases in pedestrian fatalities, while 20 states showed a decrease and the rest remained steady.

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Five states — California, Florida, Texas, New York and Arizona — accounted for 43 percent of pedestrian deaths during the first half of 2017, despite being home to just 30 percent of the U.S. population.

Last year, NPR’s Laurel Wamsley reported on a study that identified the most dangerous cities for pedestrians. Eight of the top 10 most dangerous areas were in Florida, according to the study by Smart Growth America. And people of color are disproportionately affected by the hazards, as Laurel reported:

“People of color are over-represented among those pedestrians killed. Non-white people are 34.9 percent of the U.S. population, but make up 46.1 percent of pedestrian deaths.

“In certain places, this disparity is especially stark. In North Dakota, Native Americans are 5 percent of the population, but account for nearly 38 percent of pedestrian deaths.”

The study also found that the elderly, the poor and those without health insurance were more likely to live in areas that are dangerous for pedestrians.

The new GHSA report does not break deaths out by race, income or insurance. It does, however, find that children and the elderly are “especially vulnerable.”

Why exactly have the pedestrian death rates risen since 2014? Last year, when the annual GHSA report showed an 11 percent year-over-year increase in pedestrian fatalities, NPR’s David Schaper took a close look at the possible explanations:

” ‘A perfect storm’ of factors spurred the increase, [GHSA spokeswoman Maureen] Vogel says: A stronger economy and low gas prices have put more cars on the road and have people driving more often, ‘but that is really only part of the story … so something else is at play here.’

“One possibility can be seen during rush hour in downtown Chicago just by looking at both the drivers of the dozens of vehicles inching through traffic and the scores of pedestrians crossing the busy intersections. One thing many have in common is that their eyes are down, staring at their phones.

” ‘We are crazy distracted,’ says Melody Geraci, deputy executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance, a Chicago group advocating for better walking, cycling and public transportation options. ‘After speeding and the failure to yield, distractions are the number three cause [of pedestrian fatalities], particularly by electronic devices.’

“Drivers distracted by their devices are a well-documented, rising cause of traffic crashes, but there are a growing number of pedestrians, too, who can become oblivious to traffic around them.”

Other factors include vehicle speeds and alcohol use — not just by drivers, but by pedestrians. According to the most recent GHSA report, 33 percent of pedestrian fatalities involved a pedestrian with a blood alcohol content above the legal driving limit. Of course, it’s not illegal to walkwhile drunk, but it can be dangerous — even deadly.

Seventy-five percent of fatalities occurred in the dark, and in 72 percent of the victim was walking in or crossing a road and wasn’t in an intersection.

The new report also suggests marijuana may also play a role:

“The seven states (Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington) and DC that legalized recreational use of marijuana between 2012 and 2016 reported a collective 16.4 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities for the first six months of 2017 versus the first six months of 2016, whereas all other states reported a collective 5.8 percent decrease in pedestrian fatalities.”

But, GHSA notes, it can’t make a “direct correlation” or “definitive link” to explain those states’ relatively high rates of pedestrian deaths.

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CEO Of U.S. Olympic Committee Resigns Citing Health Concerns Amid Nassar Fallout

Scott Blackmun, in 2007. He announced Wednesday that he is stepping down as CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee. On the same day, the USOC announced steps it is taking to protect abuse victims.

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Under growing pressure to quit, Scott Blackmun, CEO of the United States Olympic Committee, resigned “due to ongoing health issues resulting from prostate cancer,” according to a USOC statement on Wednesday.

Board member Susanne Lyons will step in as the acting CEO until a permanent replacement is named.

The news came at the same time the committee announced steps “designed to protect athletes from abuse and respond quickly and effectively when issues surface.”

Among the reforms and initiatives the USOC said it is implementing are creating an advisory group that will include abuse survivors to safeguard against future abuse in “the Olympic community,” providing more funding to speed up the resolution of cases, and improving support and counseling “for gymnasts impacted by Nassar’s crimes.”

The USOC has been engulfed by the scandal surrounding Larry Nassar, onetime USA Gymnastics doctor, convicted of sexually assaulting minors. Scores of athletes who were in his care have accused him of abuse going back decades. He has been sentenced to hundreds of years in prison.

Two U.S. senators called for Blackmun’s resignation earlier this month, citing a Wall Street Journal report that found he and other USOC officials were aware of abuse allegations against Nassar for months before acting on them.

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, questioned Blackmun’s leadership, citing an open letter he wrote in January in which he to uncover how the abuse could have gone on for so long and “who knew what and when.” But the senators said Blackmun failed “to admit his own supposed direct knowledge of allegations that were brought to his attention in July 2015.”

Several former Olympic athletes and advocates also called on Blackmun to step down.

In courtrooms, dozens of wrenching victim impact statements described Nassar as abusing athletes for years under the guise of legitimate medical treatment with seeming impunity.

Rachael Denhollander, a lawyer and one of Nassar’s first accusers, said after a sentencing earlier this month, that victims “wouldn’t be here had the adults and authorities done what they should have done 20 years ago,” according to The Associated Press.

Denhollander added that victims are turning their attention “with even greater force to the institutional dynamics that led to the greatest sexual assault scandal in history.”

Late last month, the entire board of USA Gymnastics announced they will resign.

USOC Chairman Larry Probst said new leadership is needed “so that we can immediately address the urgent initiatives ahead of us. … The USOC is at a critical point in its history.”

In a statement, Blackmun, who has been USOC CEO since 2010, did not mention the Nassar scandal, instead saying his role “has not only been immensely rewarding, it has been an honor and the highlight of my professional life,” He added, “I am proud of what we have achieved as a team and am confident that Susanne will help the USOC continue to embody the Olympic spirit and champion Team USA athletes during this transition.”

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Do Ladies Need Their Own Scotch?

Johnnie Walker is launching Johnnie Walker Black Label The Jane Walker Edition, just in time for Women’s History Month.

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Johnnie Walker

Johnnie, meet Jane. In a play on signature top-hatted man on Johnnie Walker scotch bottles, the company has introduced Jane, a “symbol to represent the fearless women taking steps on behalf of all.”

Priced around $34, the special edition bottles will go on sale in March — just in time to for Women’s History Month.

It’s unclear whether or not Johnnie Walker executives believed women wouldn’t buy their product unless they were represented on its packaging. In any event, Jane Walker isn’t the first attempt to market seemingly gender-neutral products to women.

Take the recent case of Lady Doritos. In an interview with WNYC’s Freakonomics, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi discussed the different ways that men and women eat Doritos.

Nooyi noted that her company was “looking at … snacks for women that can be designed and packaged differently. … Low-crunch, the full taste profile, not have so much of the flavor stick on the fingers, and how can you put it in a purse? Because women love to carry a snack in their purse.”

As NPR reported, the Internet did not take kindly to her idea.

My generation marched so future generations of women could enjoy Lady Doritos.

— Stacey Garratt (@staceygarratt) February 5, 2018

Doritos backtracked on Nooyi’s comments a day later, tweeting: “We already have Doritos for women — they’re called Doritos, and they’re loved by millions.”

And let’s not forget Bic’s lady pens. The company designed a “ball pen essentially for women” in 2012, despite the female ability to write just fine with genderless ball pens. As NPR’s Linda Holmes wrote, “It appears that the Bic For Her’s ‘for her’-osity is primarily related to (1) being pink, and (2) being slightly narrower, to fit your itty bitty lady fingers.”

Erin Keeley, a strategic planning director at the ad agency Mono, says that Johnnie Walker brand owner Diageo is hoping the Jane move will widen the appeal of its product.

Keeley pointed to REI, an outdoor apparel and gear outlet, as a company that understood marketing products specifically to women. Their team “pulled their women customers and asked, ‘What are your concerns?’ and 63 percent of the women said they couldn’t think of an outdoor female role model,” Keeley says. “So they’ve started to focus on telling stories about women adventurers. … In that way, they’re focused on creating a sale, but doing it in a genuine context.”

It’s possible to market to women without “pinking and shrinking” your product, Keeley says. “You may just need to tailor a small element.”

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Russia's Olympic Committee Reinstated After Doping Scandal

Russia’s ban from the Olympic movement was lifted on Wednesday despite two failed doping tests by its athletes at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

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Pavel Golovkin/AP

After a major doping scandal limited Russia’s participation at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, the country’s Olympic committee has been formally reinstated by the International Olympic Committee.

This comes after the IOC said remaining test results from Russians who competed in the games came back negative.

In December, the IOC announced that Russia’s Olympic committee was suspended because of the state-sponsored cheating. As NPR’s Bill Chappell has reported, their athletes could still compete – but under the title of “Olympic Athlete from Russia.” Their uniforms bore the Olympic symbol and they carried the Olympic Flag at the opening ceremony. One hundred and sixty-eight took part in the games as neutral athletes.

There was some speculation that Russia might be reinstated in time for the closing ceremony, allowing the athletes to march under the Russian flag. The country’s Olympic committee paid some $15 million in fines.

But two Russian athletes failed doping tests — curling bronze medalist Alexander Krushelnitckii, whose mixed-doubles medal was stripped, and bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva. As Bill reported, the IOC said the failed tests and other factors “prevented the IOC from even considering lifting the suspension for the closing ceremony.”

Now that all final results are in, the IOC says that Russia’s suspension is “automatically lifted with immediate effect.”

“We must turn this page,” said Russian President Vladimir Putin at a ceremony for Olympians on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. “We must draw relevant conclusions for ourselves, but I hope that international organizations also will eventually understand that sports must be kept away from problems unrelated to it.”

The IOC’s decision to ban Russia was prompted by a report from the World Anti-Doping agency led by law professor Richard McLaren.

“Released in two phases, the McLaren report concluded that Russia’s scheme involved more than 1,000 Russian athletes and that it also included plans both for manipulating doping controls and for covering up the system,” Bill reported.

Figure skater Alina Zagitova won the only individual gold medal by an athlete from Russia at this year’s games. Head here for Bill’s account of that medal ceremony, where the Olympic anthem played instead of the Russian one.

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Amid Pressure From Nassar Case, USOC Chief Executive Scott Blackmun Will Step Down

NPR’s Ari Shapiro speaks with Washington Post reporter Sally Jenkins about the resignation of U.S. Olympic Committee chief executive Scott Blackmun, who cited health problems due to prostate cancer as his reason for stepping down, but there have also been calls for his resignation for not doing enough to address the sexual abuse cases within the U.S. Olympics gymnastics team.

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Hope Hicks To Resign As White House Communications Director

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks is resigning, the White House announced on Wednesday.

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Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

White House communications director Hope Hicks is resigning and will depart in the next few weeks.

The New YorkTimes, which broke the story, says Hicks had been considering leaving “for several months.” Hicks, who has been working with the president for three years, managed to stay in his orbit even as many others have been pushed out.

President Trump called Hicks “outstanding.”

“She is as smart and thoughtful as they come, a truly great person,” Trump said in a statement. “I will miss having her by my side but when she approached me about pursuing other opportunities, I totally understood. I am sure we will work together again in the future.”

News of Hicks’ departure comes a day after she testified before the House intelligence committee regarding its investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

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