During a meeting of his security council, Putin said he instructed his government to “analyze the level of threat posed by the aforementioned actions of the United States toward our country and take comprehensive measures to prepare a symmetrical response.”
Will Trump blow up the G7 summit?

The Pentagon announced Monday that the US conducted a flight test of a conventional ground-launched cruise missile off the western coast of the US on Sunday. The missile hit its target after more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) of flight, the Pentagon said.
The test would have been previously banned under the now-defunct Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Officials stressed that the missile is designed to carry a conventional payload, not a nuclear one.
The US withdrew from the INF Treaty with Moscow earlier this month after years of accusing Russia of violating the treaty via its deployment of its nuclear-capable SSC-8 missile. The arms control pact had limited the development of ground-based missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.
The US missile test was discussed at a UN Security Council session on Thursday, upon a request from Russia and China.
In the meeting, Russia blamed the US for escalating tensions. Russia’s First Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy said that “because of the US’s geopolitical ambitions, we are all one-step from an arms race that cannot be controlled or regulated in any way.”
The US Ambassador to the UN Jonathan Cohen responded by accusing Russia of “materially breaching the INF treaty.”
US tests ground launch cruise missile previously banned under INF

US tests ground launch cruise missile previously banned under INF

“We’re here today because the Russian federation preferred a world in which the United States continued to fulfill its INF treaty regulations, while the Russian federation did not,” Cohen said.
The US withdrawal from the INF follows its exit from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, another Cold War era treaty, in 2002. Putin said Friday the withdrawal in 2002 “provoked” Russia.
“Our development of the latest systems and weapons that are really unparalleled in the world was caused — and, it can be said, provoked — by the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty,” he said. “We were simply forced and were obliged, of course, to ensure the security of our people and our country.”

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Charles Krupa/Associated Press

The “dress rehearsals” are underway, but Thursday was quite simply a weird night as 10 teams launched the oft-hyped third week of the NFL preseason.

Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders backups played on an 80-yard field in front of about six dozen Canadians in Winnipeg, a former MVP suffered a terribly timed injury in New England, and a rookie top-10 pick delivered another fantastic performance which was marred by the fact we all know he won’t see any action early this season. 

It often felt as though some of these teams had no desire to be on the field, which will only give more momentum to the anti-preseason movement that has seemingly gained ground of late. 

Here’s a rundown of the buzz generated on a strange summer night of exhibition NFL football. 

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Gail Burton/Associated Press

There was a time—not long ago—when basically every NFL team played basically every starter well into the second half of their third preseason game. Now, teams are warier than ever of potential injuries and are reconsidering their priorities in preparation for the regular season. More and more squads are less willing to risk using key players in August exhibition games that promise limited reward. 

New-school head coaches Frank Reich of the Indianapolis Colts and Matt Nagy of the Chicago Bears have already stated they’ll buck tradition by resting their starters when their teams meet Saturday in what would normally be an unofficial dress rehearsal. 

You get the feeling more coaches will soon follow suit, especially considering some of Thursday night’s key developments.

The wildest story took place north of the 49th parallel as a special Canadian preseason game between the Packers and Raiders was spoiled by the fact that the field in Winnipeg was problematic where CFL goalposts had been removed.

Not wanting to take a slight chance even after officials shortened the field to exclude the bad patches in either end zone, the Packers decided to sit 33 players at the last minute, including superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers

This was an extraordinary situation, but it highlights how these games just aren’t worth it.

Will sitting Rodgers, Davante Adams and the rest of their top players Thursday in Manitoba have any impact on how many games the Packers win this season in the United States? No way, which is why they didn’t want to chance it based on even a small complication. 

It’s entirely possible Rodgers would have been injured under regular circumstances, and that Winnipeg just saved the Packers’ season. Every live snap against a hostile opponent increases one’s chances of suffering an injury.

That’s why teams are beginning to realize they’re better off focusing their preseason preparations on the practice field, whether in joint practices or team workouts during which you’re free to run anything you’d like without fear of showing your hand. 

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Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Exhibit B: Thursday night’s game between the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots, during which Panthers star quarterback Cam Newton played 11 snaps. On the final one, he suffered a foot injury that required medical attention. 

Even if it’s not serious, it came as Newton was trying to scramble in the pocket to make something happen on a meaningless play in a meaningless game. It was unnecessary, especially for a player coming back from major surgery, and the reward associated with that playing time didn’t come close to matching the risk. 

Per Max Henson of the team’s official website, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said the 2015 MVP is in a walking boot, which isn’t ideal 17 days before the start of their regular season. 

Newton was sacked twice and pressured often in three series by a swarming Patriots defense. On the earlier sack, he was taken down pretty hard by New England linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who also got hurt on that play. 

In the same game, Panthers rookie offensive tackle Greg Little was carted off the field due to an apparent concussion. Back up in Canada, highly touted rookie Packers defender Rashan Gary was also removed via the dreaded cart. And elsewhere, concussions might have also sidelined key pass-catchers D.J. Chark Jr. of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Jordan Reed of the Washington Redskins. 

Injuries happen in football, but it’s fair to wonder if it’s worth playing with fire in August. 

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Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In parts of three preseason games, New York Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones has completed 25 of 30 passes for 369 yards. None of his five incomplete passes have been intercepted, he’s posted a 140.1 passer rating this month, and he again looked outstanding during a 9-of-11, 141-yard night against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday.

Trash the team’s decision to select Jones with the No. 6 overall pick all you want, but the Duke product has looked damn good. 

He might even already be better than veteran Eli Manning, who completed just four of eight passes against the Bengals and, coming off three consecutive mediocre seasons, is far beyond his prime at age 38. 

The Giants have made it clear Manning’s job isn’t in peril. Jones was drafted to be his heir apparent, but the organization remains in love with the two-time Super Bowl MVP. They aren’t paying him $23.2 million to hold a tablet this year, and you get the feeling they’d at least like to give him a complete swan song. 

And while it’s not fair to conclude based on three preseason appearances against backup defenders that Jones is definitely the better option right now, his performances have ensured that the moment Manning struggles in September, fans and the media will apply max pressure to expedite the transition from one David Cutcliffe disciple to the next. 

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Michael Reaves/Getty Images

How can the Miami Dolphins stick with Ryan Fitzpatrick now? The rebuilding team already had little reason to roll with a 36-year-old journeyman instead of the 22-year-old top-10 pick whom it just acquired. But Fitzpatrick’s hold on the job appears to be getting more tenuous as the summer progresses.

Rosen has experienced an up-and-down summer, but he’s clearly outperforming Fitzpatrick, and that was again the case in Thursday’s preseason game against the Jaguars. 

Miami’s offense went three-and-out on Fitzpatrick’s first three series, and it only gained a first down as a result of a Jacksonville penalty on the fourth possession. The Dolphins scored just six points with Fitzpatrick under center in the first half. 

The 14-year veteran did pick it up with a long touchdown drive early in the third quarter, but Rosen then came in and trumped that by taking the Phins on a 99-yard touchdown drive of his own. That involved a pair of double-digit-yard scrambles (one for a first down on 3rd-and-14) and a beautiful throw on a roll-out after escaping pressure artfully. 

Rosen’s problem is he’s yet to deliver this preseason against a first-team defense (he started last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but played poorly). However, Fitzpatrick hasn’t either. Maybe the jolt the UCLA product gave to the offense in the second half Thursday will convince Dolphins head coach Brian Flores to at least consider extending this competition another week. 

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Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Thursday’s preseason tilt between the Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons probably represented Dwayne Haskins’ final chance to wrestle the starting quarterback job away from Case Keenum in Washington, but the rookie first-round pick didn’t do enough. 

Haskins had some nice moments in Atlanta, even leading three second-half scoring drives. But he “led” the Redskins to the end zone just once against Falcons reserves, and “led” is in quotation marks because that was a 17-yard drive in which the Ohio State product handed off three times. 

He went 7-of-13 with a 5.7 yards-per-attempt average against backups, while Keenum completed a higher percentage of his throws for a higher average against stiffer competition. 

That essentially locks up the job for the journeyman. And although there’s little doubt Haskins will eventually take over, it doesn’t appear as though he’s on the brink of doing so. 

Based on the shape of his supporting cast sans standout left tackle Trent Williams, that might be a blessing in disguise. 

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Mike Stewart/Associated Press

The Redskins did, however, get an encouraging performance from another young offensive weapon Thursday, as second-year running back Derrius Guice looked strong and comfortable in his return from a torn ACL. 

Guice was widely expected to take the reins in the Washington backfield as a rookie second-round pick and the subject of plenty of hype last offseason. But he suffered that significant knee injury in the team’s first preseason game of 2018, and we’ve yet to see him in live action since. 

The young running back was extremely active in Atlanta, running with gusto and no trepidation on a night in which he gained 44 yards on 11 carries and added a four-yard reception. 

It wasn’t a special performance, but it was a positive one for a player trying to get his career back on track. Now fantasy football owners can sweat over where to draft him and fellow Redskins backs Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson. 

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Elise Amendola/Associated Press

You’re allowed to wonder how the Patriots will replace retired tight end Ron Gronkowski, or if 42-year-old quarterback Tom Brady can continue to flip the bird to Father Time and get away with it. But even with edge defender Trey Flowers gone, there’s little doubt that the New England defense will again be a force in 2019.

That constantly underrated unit has surrendered fewer points than any defense in football the last three years, and this preseason they’ve given up just 23 points in three games. 

Their best performance yet might have happened Thursday against the Panthers, with New England forcing punts on eight of Carolina’s nine drives. They were all over Newton and the Panthers offense early, with Kyle Van Noy, Dont’a Hightower, Michael Bennett and Lawrence Guy all impressing. But the reserves didn’t let up, and they held Carolina to just 99 total yards and seven first downs. In four quarters of football. 

The beauty of the New England defense is it is greater than the sum of its parts. It helps that Bill Belichick is a freakin’ genius, but the personnel is almost invincible because they have so many quality players in such a wide variety of roles.

You get the feeling they’re in for a huge season on that side of the ball. 

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Michael Perez/Associated Press

It isn’t hard to find online content suggesting Baltimore Ravens rookie offensive weapon Trace McSorley could be the next Taysom Hill. The former Penn State quarterback certainly possesses the skill set to make an impact under center as both a passer and a runner while also contributing on special teams and as a return man. 

There’s no doubt Lamar Jackson is the man at quarterback for the Ravens. But that’s also the case with Drew Brees in New Orleans, and Hill has still emerged as a key player there. McSorley could play a similar role right away, and he flashed his enticing ability in the team’s third preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday. 

The sixth-round pick completed 19 of 28 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for a score. And although he had a pair of less-than-stellar passing performances earlier this month, he’s now got a strong chance to make the Baltimore roster. 

With throws like this and runs like that, it’s hard to imagine head coach John Harbaugh letting the guy go.

The song opens with a brief spoken clip, in which an unidentified person says: “We can go driving on my scooter… you know, just round London.”
It’s safe to assume the track is inspired by Swift’s boyfriend, British actor Joe Alwyn, so when fans first heard the London accent in its opening seconds, many concluded it was his voice.
That’s not the case, however. The album has only been out for a matter of hours, but Swift’s devoted fanbase has already identified the mystery speaker. It’s Idris Elba, Swift’s “Cats” co-star.
What’s more, fans also tracked down the clip’s origin. It appears to be taken from Elba’s March 2017 appearance on “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” and if you listen closely, you can hear Corden — another “Cats” cast member — saying, “Oh I’d…” before Swift’s laugh cuts him off.
For context, Elba was discussing his plans for an upcoming date that he’d auctioned off for the charity W.E. Can Lead, which supports schoolgirls in Sierra Leone and across West Africa. He suggested a trip on his scooter around London, to which Corden responded: “Oh I’d love a ride on your scooter.”
Swift announced the album release on Twitter, seemingly referring to the recent sale of her previous catalog to music manager Scooter Braun in her post. “This album is very much a celebration of love, in all its complexity, coziness, and chaos,” she wrote. “It’s the first album of mine that I’ve ever owned, and I couldn’t be more proud.”
Swift has become a political and cultural cipher of sorts — at once nothing and everything. Between her fans and her detractors (there’s rarely an in-between), she holds numerous, often dueling meanings about the perceived state of America at any one moment.
Indeed, over the course of more than half a dozen albums — her seventh, “Lover,” is out Friday — Swift has been many things to audiences: a crucial advocate for artistic control, a (white) feminist, an “Aryan goddess,” a clumsy but valuable LGBTQ ally, cancelled. (This is in addition to her variety of musical lives: a country girl next door, an EDM-lite dabbler, an electro-pop maestro.)
To understand the distinct space Swift occupies in Americana, consider the 2016 presidential election, about which she, at the time, said virtually nothing. The backlash was fast and furious. As Vox’s Caroline Framke wrote on Election Day 2016, “(Swift’s) absolute silence on anything politics-related, in an election that saw a higher than usual number of celebrities, public figures, magazines, and even TV shows endorsing — or at the very least discussing — the candidates, is extraordinary.” (Interestingly, there was a Twitter account dedicated to Swift’s silence.)
Taylor Swift drops 'Lover' video ahead of album launch

Swift explained her previous skittishness toward politics earlier this month, when she appeared on the cover of American Vogue’s prized September issue.
“Unfortunately in the 2016 election you had a political opponent who was weaponizing the idea of the celebrity endorsement,” she told Vogue. “(Then-candidate Donald Trump) was going around saying, I’m a man of the people. I’m for you. I care about you. I just knew I wasn’t going to help.”
Her gay-friendly, among other things, political re-emergence now comes as the nation gears up for what’s sure to be a bruising 2020 election, one in which President Donald Trump is already pulling at the cultural fabric in order to cement his reelection. Swift surely won’t swing an election, but if her stepping-in-from-the-sidelines approach to 2020 reflects a broader trend compared to 2016, it could be a difference-maker.
And yet, despite Swift’s ostensible centrality in certain parts of the election chatter, so little, looking back, actually seemed to be about her. She was — once you peel back a layer — a totem of something else: many people’s broader anxieties around a high-stakes political contest. It wasn’t so much that she was mum during an election as it was that she said little during that election — one that made various social and political ills key planks of the White House.
Similarly, when Swift released her 2017 album “Reputation,” the attendant blowback is perhaps best understood as a response not to the singer but to an oft-cited data point: Fifty-three percent of white women voted for a man who was heard on tape crowing about assaulting women.
The fact that Swift was mute on political conversation but then released a record that underscored her personal feuds only seemed to give more evidence to a deep historical wound that had recently been torn open again: that of wealthy or otherwise privileged white women choosing to protect their supposed economic security over the welfare of others.
Even for neo-Nazis, whose visibility has been on the rise over the past few years, Swift’s specific allure is symbolic — largely about her iconicity as some sort of “Athena reborn.”
In other words, it’s about Swift — but also, it isn’t.
Consider, too, the times Swift has taken on the man — in the corporate and literal sense — and what those occasions have shown about sexual politics. In 2017, she received a $1 settlement in a case she brought against a DJ who had groped her, with her lawsuit saying that the move would be “an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts.” And that same year, Swift, along with several other women, appeared on the cover of Time Magazine’s Person of the Year issue (to a significant amount of controversy) as a “silence breaker” who had stepped forward to speak about sexual violence.
Taylor Swift performs for first time since Scooter Braun post

Taylor Swift performs for first time since Scooter Braun post

Swift, in those instances, was once more a kind of simulacrum. Writing for The Washington Post, Lavanya Ramanathan connected Swift’s at times humiliating lawsuit to “the burden women endure — this probing and hand-wringing and point-blank disbelief and shame and self-doubt,” and she argued that “it was as if (Swift) really was speaking for every woman.”
Likewise, for all the disagreement it triggered, the Swift/Time dispute helped pull into focus that no woman — not even a multimillionaire — is necessarily protected from systemically empowered men.
Now, jump to 2019 to see how a different though related dynamic has been on display, this time regarding LGBTQ rights. During the run-up to “Lover,” Swift completely jettisoned her past political coyness, in ways both subtle and obvious.
Her aesthetic, compared to the black-and-white of the “Reputation” era, is now saturated with bright colors — with Pride-friendly rainbows, to be exact. Just check out the music video for the new album’s first single “ME!” or its follow-up “You Need to Calm Down,” the latter of which also features a small army of queer luminaries such as RuPaul and Ellen DeGeneres. More overtly, in April, Swift donated $113,000 to the LGBTQ advocacy group Tennessee Equality Project, and in October 2018, ahead of the midterm elections, she used Instagram to endorse two Tennessee Democrats.
Unsurprisingly, queer people’s reactions have been mixed. Some have been scratching their heads over whether Swift was queer-baiting (for profit or for her, well, reputation), while others point out that she’s genuinely trying to put her massive platform to good use (her friend Todrick Hall, himself gay, told BuzzFeed News’ AM to DM last week that it’s no little thing for someone like Swift, whose fan base straddles the political spectrum, to be vocal about LGBTQ rights).
Again, however, the crux of the conversation seems to speak less to Swift and more to the climate of the current political season. In particular, the praise and critiques both grapple with questions of what queer audiences, in particular, expect from their gay icons: Should their art be explicitly queer? What if it smacks of the cringey portrayals of queerness that were so common in decades past? Is that better than silence? And does that matter if these figures also support their queer fans in other, more directly political ways? It’s about Swift — but also, it isn’t.
This isn’t to strip Swift of her own singular agency. One of the words perhaps most attached to her is manicured. Beyond her sizeable musical talents, Swift is a smart, savvy businesswoman. It’s fair to assume that she has a firm grasp on the complex pas de deux between Swift the person and Swift the persona, and how this interplay fits into the culture at large.
That said, it’s hard to think about Swift these days and not also think about how she’s become someone whom so many Americans channel their ideas of life through. In her 2004 book “The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe,” literary scholar Sarah Churchwell writes that she’s “interested in the shame, belittlement and anxiety that we bring” to the life and legacy of Monroe. The same could be said of Swift. As discussion swirls around her new album in the days ahead, it makes sense to ask: Are people talking about Swift, really? Or about something bigger?
Melissa Blake

It’s the quintessential self-referential moment of the NBC sitcom, which ran from 1989 to 1998, and, in that poignant scene, poked fun at itself for its absurdist premise. But the joke is on those fictional TV executives, because this telling episode is the exact opposite of art imitating life.
In reality, “Seinfeld” — which is celebrating its 30th anniversary — helped define a generation, quickly becoming a cultural touchstone. Though it was the show about nothing, it was also the show about the everyday experiences and conversations that animate our lives. Simply put, the show was genius.
And it meant everything to my teenage self. It was the show I’d watch in the evening and then talk about with my friends in school the next day, because they had all watched, too. It was also the one that I watched with my family every night and the one that never fails to remind me of my father, who died in 2003 — a few years after the show ended. In fact, when I think of “Seinfeld,” I think of family dinner where we laughed at the time Elaine Benes gained weight from mismarked frozen yogurt, or the time the whole gang — Kramer, Elaine, George and Jerry — spent 22 minutes trying to find their car in a parking garage.
“Seinfeld” fever is still going strong, propelled even now by its wide syndication. But it’s not the only cultural touchstone of an earlier time — my time, as it happens — that you can still find every night on TV, and that is having an anniversary. “Friends” is celebrating its 25th anniversary next month. And indeed, just this week, pop culture devotees took to Twitter to debate one of the great questions of our generation: Is “Seinfeld” or “Friends” the better TV show?
My friends, it is “Seinfeld.”

Perhaps it’s easiest to start with how the two shows are similar, since, arguably, their list of similarities is shorter than George’s resume. Both shows follow the lives of a group of friends living and working in New York.
But that’s where the similarities end.
Where “Friends” suffered from simplistic and generic storylines, “Seinfeld” remains one of the smartest and most unique sitcoms. In the 21 years since its finale, few, if any, shows have ever been able to replicate that same level of magic and ardent fandom. And what about its many contributions to the American lexicon? Do you ever say “yada, yada, yada?” Do you celebrate “Festivus?” Thanks, “Seinfeld.”
Where “Friends” gave us unrealistic expectations of life in our 20s — a sort of hyperreality — “Seinfeld” was just real. On “Friends,” all the characters were airbrushed, beautiful people living in massive New York City apartments that far exceeded what even successful bankers could’ve afforded. On “Seinfeld,” however, the characters had messy — or not much — hair, dressed in jeans and T-shirts and lived in more normal apartments. (Though given how little they worked, it was hard to imagine how they afforded even those.)

And while we may have wanted to be as cool and chic as Rachel Green in “Friends,” in reality, we were all much more similar to awkward Elaine from “Seinfeld.” Just think about it in contemporary terms. If Rachel were a real person living in 2019, she would be an Instagram influencer posting her #OOTD full of #sponsored clothing from hip places like Madewell or J. Crew. If Elaine were a real person living in 2019, she would probably swear off social media — or use it to spy on her exes.
But the differences don’t stop there. Where “Friends” is that show about a specific time in your life (your late 20s and early 30s), “Seinfeld’s” eccentric characters speak to all phases of life — and, as such, is the show I can always go back to, no matter how many years have passed. Once I aged out of that “Friends” demographic, I began to see the characters and their lives differently. In fact, I tried re-watching the series a couple years ago, and I couldn’t get beyond the first episode. They all seemed to spend so much time complaining about romantic relationships that would never amount to anything — and I just didn’t have patience for this kind of kvetching.
Indeed, the older I get, the more relatable “Seinfeld” becomes. Jerry and company were talking about the banalities of life that we all struggle with, like regifting and double dipping, ridiculous haircuts and close talkers.
As TV historian Jennifer Keishin said in an interview with Business Insider, “The ‘nothingness’ that they talk about … is really not nothing. It’s actually everyday stuff. And I think that’s what keeps us coming back to it, and that made it a hit, a fairly widespread mainstream hit at the time … they’re dealing with these everyday irritations that we all really relate to.”
“Friends” doesn’t come close to that, which is why “Seinfeld” shall always remain the master of the sitcom domain.
That last question might sound unusual, but this new child care center in Huntington, West Virginia, is unusual: It serves only babies and toddlers who were exposed to drugs in the womb.
It’s believed to be the first of its kind in the country — and there’s a waiting list to get in.
That’s because at Cabell Huntington Hospital, the largest hospital in the city, 1 out of 5 babies is born to a mother who used opioids while pregnant.
The babies go through treatment for drug withdrawal before they’re discharged from the hospital, but that doesn’t mean the problems end there.
The babies at the child care center range in age from 6 weeks to 2 years, and sometimes cry for hours on end. Teachers struggle to calm them down.
“They’re just inconsolable,” said Suzi Brodof, executive director of the center. “It’s not just crying. It’s a high-pitched wailing.”
“It’s exceptionally difficult to hear them cry,” added Janie Fuller-Phelps, the director of the center. “There are times you just feel helpless, hopeless.”
It gets worse: The babies sometimes have twitching and tremors — even seizures.
A caretaker tends to 7-week-old Oliveah.

When the center opened in June, staffers from the hospital visited to share what works best for babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). These babies are super sensitive, they advised. Keep the lights dim. No bright colors on the walls. Where other babies and toddlers might love stimulation — loud singing or noisy toys — these babies need the opposite.
“These children just have different needs than other children,” Brodof said.
That’s why some babies with NAS get kicked out of other child care centers.
“Yes, they actually get kicked out. It happens frequently,” said Lisa Ertl, interim director of the division of early care and education at the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. “The typical caregiver doesn’t know how to handle them.”
Janie Fuller-Phelps holds 4-month-old Huck.

Janie Fuller-Phelps holds 4-month-old Huck.

The center in Huntington, run by River Valley Child Development Services, is funded by the state and currently has eight children. There’s space for eight more, but not enough money to pay for staffing.
Six of the children at the center were exposed to opioids while in the womb and two were exposed to methamphetamines, according to umbilical cord testing. They were all exposed to other drugs as well.
Even after just a few weeks, the teachers can see changes in the children. Huck, a 4-month-old baby boy, has fewer crying spells, and now smiles and giggles at his teachers.
But like many babies exposed to drugs, his muscles are tense, and his teachers massage him and straighten his arms and legs.
A daycare teacher cares for 11-month old twins.

A daycare teacher cares for 11-month old twins.

The center’s oldest children are 11-month-old twins, a boy and a girl. At first, the girl twin didn’t want anyone to hold her. Now, she toddles over to her teacher and throws up her arms, waiting to be picked up.
The twins’ mother, and most of the other mothers at River Valley’s center, live at Project Hope for Women & Children, a drug rehab center in Huntington. While their babies are in child care, the mothers can focus on their own treatment during the day.
“The moms are not villains,” Brodof said. “They suffer from a disease and are taking steps to care for themselves and their children, and that’s where we come in.”
The center’s goal is to give the children the best possible care early on, so they’re less likely to face problems when they get to school. Babies exposed to opioids prenatally are more likely to suffer problems later in life such as motor and cognitive impairments and ADHD, according to a 2015 study by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
“The damage of prenatal opiate exposure is debilitating and long lasting,” according to the researchers.
Jacob, Gabriel and Andrianna Riling on a walk with their 70-year-old grandparents, Beverly and Andrew Riling.

Jacob, Gabriel and Andrianna Riling on a walk with their 70-year-old grandparents, Beverly and Andrew Riling.

Beverly Riling knows this instinctively.
Her 11-year-old granddaughter, Andrianna Riling, was born with NAS, and in October she filed a lawsuit against several opioid manufacturers.
“After she came home from the hospital, she shook and cried constantly,” Riling remembers. “Nothing calmed her down.”
According to the lawsuit, Andrianna “is a victim of the opioid crisis that has ravaged Wyoming County, West Virginia, the epicenter of the national opioid crisis, causing immense suffering to those infants born addicted to opioids and great expense to those forced to deal with the aftermath.”
Riling and her husband, Andrew, both 70, have custody of Andrianna and her two older brothers, Jacob and Gabriel, ages 16 and 14. The suit asks for damages to compensate them for the NAS-related injuries, as well as punitive damages.
Andrianna’s lawyer, Booth Goodwin, and his colleagues are screening about 200 additional children for more possible lawsuits.
Raising a family was the last thing the Rilings expected to be doing at their age but because of the opioid crisis, they’re hardly alone in West Virginia.
In Wyoming County, the rural area where the Rilings live, there are just over 20,000 residents. Among them, 409 are children living with grandparents and 313 are children living in foster care, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data Center.
Back at the child care center, Brodof is trying to raise money so she can hire more staffers and fill the other eight spots.
“We know they need that extra special care, that cuddling, that love,” she said. “And with that we know we’ll be able to make a difference for them.”
In Michigan, US Steel is temporarily laying off about 200 workers at a plant just outside Detroit. In western Pennsylvania, 78 people are about to lose their jobs when the Akers National Roll Company closes by the end of September and between 80 to 100 workers could be laid off from at an NLMK-owned plant outside of Pittsburgh.
Steel industry jobs are heavily concentrated in swing states that were key to Trump’s victory in 2016.
Between Pennsylvania, where Trump won in 2016 by a small margin, and Ohio, where he turned an Obama state red, there are about 19,400 jobs at steel and iron mills, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
And Trump has made reviving American manufacturing, and specifically steel, a centerpiece of his presidency.
Just last week, Trump went to Pennsylvania for the 13th time since his inauguration, boasting what he says is a revival of the US steel industry thanks to tariffs he imposed last year.
“Pennsylvania steel raised the skyscrapers that built our cities. Steel was dead, your business was dead. I don’t want to be overly crude, your business was dead. I put a little thing called a 25% tariff on all the dumped steel, now your business is thriving,” he said, speaking at a petrochemical plant.
Administration officials argue that the steel industry needs protection because it is vital to national security. Steel producers have long argued that other countries like China have dumped unfairly priced steel into the US market.
“Our steel industry is essential to our national security and the President has shown he will not sit idly by and watch unfair practices threaten our safety and security,” deputy White House press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement to CNN.
“Because of the President’s fight for a fair and reciprocal playing field, steel companies are expanding operations and attracting new workers,” he added.
It’s true that the industry got a boost from the tariffs initially. The price of US-made steel jumped and production in the United States grew. Producers announced they were restarting a handful of mills, expanding existing plants, and had plans to build new ones.
The Trump campaign says that’s a success.
“Under President Trump, US steel is finally making a comeback,” said Kayleigh McEnany, national press secretary for the President’s 2020 campaign, in a statement provided to CNN.
“Thanks to President Trump, US steel production was up 6% last year and is up 4.5% so far this year. Steel workers have seen their paychecks increase by 14% — the highest increase in six years,” she added.
Last year, the United Steelworkers union did negotiate a new contract with US Steel that included a 14% raise over four years. The workers had agreed to a wage freeze in the previous contract.
And the industry added about 5,000 jobs in the year after the tariffs went into place, about 1,000 more than it did during the same time period a year earlier, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But there are other signs the industry is slowing amid softening global demand. About 1,600 jobs were created during the first six months of this year, compared to 2,800 during the last six months of 2018.
US Steel (X) cut its earnings outlook earlier this year and has plans to reduce production at another plant in Indiana. Its shares are down 60% over the past year. Other big steel companies like Nucor (NUE) and Steel Dynamics (STLD) are forecasting lower profits, too.
“I think it’s a harbinger. Despite Trump’s best efforts, the next year isn’t looking too bright for the steel industry,” said Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
There are a few factors contributing to the industry’s troubles. Business uncertainty, fueled by Trump’s trade war, has slowed investment. A weakening global economy and growing anxiety about a US recession in the United States are a drag on the industry, Hufbauer said.
There are indications that things are slowing among the broader manufacturing sector as well, as tariffs raise the price for some component products needed to make items like sneakers and bicycles in the United States.
A key manufacturing sector index released Thursday hit a 119-month low Thursday, indicating that the industry shrunk for the first time since September 2009.
Additionally, jobless claims are up in key manufacturing states since the Trump administration put tariffs on a wide ranging list of about $250 billion of Chinese-made goods last fall, according to a recent BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research report.
While there was accelerated growth in manufacturing jobs during Trump’s first two years, economists are skeptical of describing it as a comeback.
In Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, for example, the number of manufacturing jobs are well off their 1990s peak and still haven’t recovered to their pre-2008 levels.
“It’s more of a stabilization than a comeback,” Hufbauer said.
Doctors have long been concerned that these congested settings are breeding grounds for serious illnesses.
“They create facilities that encourage the spread of infectious agents,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an adviser to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on vaccine issues.
A CBP senior health official told CNN his agency keeps track of infectious diseases among the hundreds of thousands of migrants who pass through CBP detention facilities but declined to release that data.
CBP will not vaccinate migrants against flu

This stands in stark contrast to how other entities handle disease statistics. State and county health departments across the United States track ongoing case counts for dozens of infectious diseases and make that information available online. Similarly, the United Nations posts disease statistics about refugees online.
Public health experts sharply criticized CBP for what they called the agency’s lack of transparency.
“What are they scared of?” asked Dr. Paul Spiegel, a former senior official at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, who is now the director of the Center for Humanitarian Health at Johns Hopkins University.
He said making such information available is crucial to public health.
“In health, we measure things, and the more people who know that information, the better,” he said. “Migrants are released into the community and quickly move to other places in the country.”
Homeland Security doctor says he's giving migrant children the care he'd want for his own kids

Homeland Security doctor says he's giving migrant children the care he'd want for his own kids

The CBP official said his agency reports illnesses to state health departments.
“We do share this information. We’re not hiding it,” he said.
However, CNN’s review of the deaths of three children who had the flu and died while in CBP custody or shortly after raises questions about whether infectious disease data on migrants is consistently reported to state health officials.
In addition, a review of state health department websites indicates that disease data on migrants is not available to the public, which would include researchers and physicians.

Public health transparency

In the first seven months of 2019, more than 600,000 migrants were apprehended crossing the US southwest border. CBP policy, rooted in legal agreements, aims to move both children and adults out of its custody within 72 hours.
Government reports show, however, that both children and adults have been held for considerably longer than 72 hours.
“We’ve seen everything from mumps, chicken pox, flu, and tuberculosis,” a CBP spokesperson wrote in an email to CNN.
The spokesperson and the agency’s senior health official, both of whom spoke on the condition that their names not be used in this report, declined to provide a full list of infectious diseases observed in migrants, or the number of cases or deaths from those diseases.
Pediatricians share migrant children's disturbing drawings of their time in US custody

Pediatricians share migrant children's disturbing drawings of their time in US custody

Spiegel, the former UN official, said that’s unfortunate because when the United Nations released health surveillance data online, public health researchers could then analyze the data and offer important insights.
“We had people all over the world look at this data and write papers on it, and it was helpful,” he said. “The more data that’s out there, the better.”
Dr. Jonathan Winickoff, a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, added that such transparency also helps doctors in the area aid migrants and the surrounding population.
“There’s a reason why numbers are reported and made public, and that’s so clinicians and public health responders in those locations can understand the nature of the risk and take appropriate actions and make sure the public is protected,” Winickoff said. “When the numbers are invisible, it’s very hard to take protective action.”

Doctors urge CBP to vaccinate children

One of the most important protective actions is to vaccinate migrants, Winickoff said.
Earlier this month, Winickoff, Spiegel and three other physicians sent a letter to members of Congress expressing concern about infectious diseases at migrant detention centers. Detailing the deaths of three children in US custody who died after contracting the flu, the doctors urged that migrant children be vaccinated against the virus.
Smithsonian interested in obtaining migrant children's drawings depicting their time in US custody

Smithsonian interested in obtaining migrant children's drawings depicting their time in US custody

According to a CBP statement, the agency doesn’t vaccinate migrants “due to the short-term nature of CBP holding and the complexities of operating vaccination programs.”
Winickoff and Spiegel said that argument doesn’t make sense to them. They said it’s relatively quick and inexpensive to vaccinate even large groups of people. The doctors said vaccination helps protect migrants and the people around them as they move out of CBP facilities and into other government facilities or into the US community at large.
Spiegel said the UN refugee agency, where he worked for 15 years, oversaw programs that vaccinated millions of refugees soon after they crossed international borders.
“If we can do it in places like Darfur and South Sudan, I imagine the US government can do it,” he said. “Frankly, it’s not so hard and it’s not so complicated.”

Reporting migrant illnesses and deaths

The CBP senior health official said his agency shares health surveillance data with the four state health departments along the southwest border.
“We do share that information and record and coordinate through the established public health channels,” he said. “We do share this information.”
When asked what diseases CBP reports to state health departments, the official said it depends on the laws of that particular state.
“Obviously every case of scabies doesn’t need to be reported or raised,” he said.
Trump administration agrees to independent investigation of health conditions for children at border facilities

Trump administration agrees to independent investigation of health conditions for children at border facilities

In Arizona, however, outbreaks of scabies — a skin infestation where mites burrow under the skin — is required to be reported.
Nationwide, pediatric flu deaths are required to be reported to state health authorities. But it appears the deaths of two out of the three migrant children who had the flu and died were not reported to state health departments.
8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo died in December in New Mexico after contracting the flu. But according to the New Mexico Department of Health, there were two pediatric flu deaths in the 2018-2019 flu season — one child was 16 and the other was 1 year old.
2-year-old Wilmer Josue Ramirez Vasquez died in May in El Paso after contracting the flu. The Texas Department of State Health Services reports no pediatric flu deaths in that region of the state during the 2018-2019 flu season.
16-year-old Carlos Hernandez Vasquez died in May in Hidalgo County, Texas after contracting the flu. It’s unclear if his death is included among the five pediatric flu deaths that occurred in that region of the state during the 2018-2019 flu season.
Doctors said publicly reporting infectious diseases and deaths is crucial to protecting public health.
“It matters deeply to make sure that others are not infected,” Spiegel said. “The public needs to understand what’s going on in these facilities.”
But what if the progressive champion they’re looking for is already sitting in the White House?
Call it the audacity of President Trump: He is bringing more hope and change than Obama ever could.
I know, I know. For some people, this is blasphemy. Yet one of the biggest ironies of Trump’s presidency is that he has become a more effective catalyst for progressive social change than Obama.
He has discredited core conservative beliefs, boosted the popularity of left-wing causes and caused millions of Americans to face ugly truths about racism and bigotry that they used to deny.
I never thought I’d say this. As an African-American man, I felt pride when Obama walked into the White House. I loved seeing how devoted he was to his family. I smiled when he broke into an Al Green song onstage. And I blinked away tears when I saw that Oval Office photograph of a five-year-old black boy reaching up to touch Obama’s hair just to see if it really felt like his.
And yet I wonder today if I and others drew the wrong lesson from his election. Maybe the deep, systemic changes that so many yearn for couldn’t come through his temperate, “No Drama Obama” approach. Maybe real change only comes through chaos and crisis — Trump’s leadership style.
President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office on November 10, 2016.

I thought of what Dutch historian Rutger Bregman said when explaining why being a moderate isn’t good enough anymore when confronting issues like global warming and the highest level of income inequality since before the Great Depression. These types of challenges are only addressed by people who are first derided as “radical” or “utopian,” he said.
“We’re now in a time in American history and in world history where we cannot simply afford to be moderate,” said Bregman, whose call for the rich to stop dodging taxes at the World Economic Forum at Davos went viral.
“We can’t afford to just be tinkering around the edges,” he added. “If history teaches us anything is that change never starts in the center. But it always starts on the fringes with people who are first dismissed as crazy and unreasonable and ridiculous.”
Change works in even more mysterious ways. Trump is, in some ways, unintentionally doing what Obama was supposed to do.
You can already see this in several areas.

Trump has banished the ghost of Ronald Reagan

When Obama first ran for the Oval Office in 2008, he was widely criticized for saying he wanted to be a transformational president like Ronald Reagan.
Reagan’s governing philosophy — slashing taxes for the wealthy, reducing government regulation, cutting social programs — has been the dominant political ideology for the last 30 years. Reagan distilled it in one memorable phrase: “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”
Some hoped that Obama would be the liberal version of Reagan and restore faith in the federal government. He did marshal government resources to save the nation from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. He also sparked the longest economic expansion in US history.
Obama’s cultural impact is also incalculable. A generation of American children grew up thinking there was nothing strange about seeing a man of color in the Oval Office.
And yet Obama seemed to be afflicted by the same political disorder that still paralyzes some Democratic leaders: He was “haunted by the Reagan era.” He governed at times more like a Republican. He proposed cutting Social Security to ensure its long-term viability. He reduced government spending. He even included conservative ideas in his signature legislative achievement, Obamacare.
Then Trump came along.
His lesson: Don’t fear the Gipper.
He did this first as a candidate when he repudiated some of the core beliefs of Reaganomics. He said he would never cut Social Security “like every other Republican,” and vowed to raise taxes on wealthy people, like hedge fund managers. And he won with overwhelming Republican support, including moderates.
President Trump has taken on the legacy of Ronald Reagan in a surprising way.

President Trump has taken on the legacy of Ronald Reagan in a surprising way.

Trump’s successful campaign showed that even conservative voters wanted to raise taxes on the wealthy and cherished their big government spending programs — so long as it helped them and not racial minorities.
Then he did something else that Obama couldn’t do: He made Obamacare popular.
During his first year in office, Trump led a yearlong quest to replace Obamacare. It failed because of an unexpected backlash. People started cherishing their big government health program once Trump threatened to take it away.
Now a new generation of Democratic leaders is walking a path that Trump, in an odd way, helped clear. They are talking about raising taxes on the wealthy, expanding government programs like Medicare and Medicaid and creating a “Green New Deal.”
The public seems ready to follow. Public support for left-wing policy-making has reached a 60-year high.
“The very terrain of political and policy debate among Democrats in 2019 is a tacit admission that the Obama presidency was a wrong turn to a great degree,” Ryan Cooper wrote in an essay for The Week titled, “Democrats Need to Get Over Their Obama Nostalgia.”
The Democrats’ new presidential model is not Reagan but their greatest President: Franklin D. Roosevelt. They are embracing what one historian called a “Rooseveltian vision of activist government.
Meanwhile, Trump has emboldened progressives in an even more counterintuitive way.

He’s triggered a ‘Trumplash’ against his own policies

A CNN commentator once coined a memorable phrase to describe why Trump was elected.
“This was a whitelash against a changing country,” Van Jones said on election night in 2016. “It was whitelash against a black president in part. And that’s the part where the pain comes.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez embodies a new attitude among Democrats that Trump helped make possible.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez embodies a new attitude among Democrats that Trump helped make possible.

Three years later the pain has led to something else: A “Trumplash,” a ferocious backlash against the President that’s boosted progressives and weakened conservatives in several ways.
Trump has operated at times like an Oval Office double agent — a conservative by virtue of his rhetoric, but one whose actions tend to hurt his cause.
He’s pushed more progressives to get involved in politics.
His denigration of women inadvertently helped inspire a record number of women running for the House in the 2018 midterms. And his anti-Muslim rhetoric helped inspire a record number of Muslim Americans to run for office.
He’s pushed voting blocs into the arms of Democrats.
His immigration policies ensure that Latinos, the nation’s second-largest ethnic group, now lean decisively toward the Democratic party. His attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census also appears to be turning Asian Americans into reliable Democratic voters.
Latinos vote in November 2016 at a polling station in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles, California.

Latinos vote in November 2016 at a polling station in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles, California.

He’s even damaged some powerful conservative interest groups.
The National Rifle Association has actually grown weaker in part because of a “Trump slump.” Gun sales have slowed dramatically because no one is worried about Obama taking their guns anymore, and Trump is seen as gun-friendly. And the religious right has lost credibility because of white evangelical Christians’ steadfast support for Trump.
Trump also helped do something else that Obama couldn’t. He revived the Obama Coalition, the group of young voters, women and racial minorities that first put Obama in office.
That coalition sat out the 2010 and 2014 midterms, leading to huge losses for the Democrats. They showed up, however, to oppose Trump and Republicans during the 2018 midterms. That election featured the highest voter turnout in a century, with young people voting in record numbers.
That progressive wave is expected to spill into the 2020 presidential election. Voter turnout in 2020 is expected to reach its highest level in decades — some say since 1908.

He’s sparked a more enduring form of hope

Trump also has done something even stranger: He’s arguably brought more hope than Obama did, and here’s why.
The hope of the Obama era became centered on one charismatic figure. That doesn’t last. The legacy of great presidents outlives them. Franklin Roosevelt forged a New Deal Coalition that lasted for at least 30 years after his death. The Reagan coalition also lasted long after his term ended.
Obama’s coalition evaporated after he left office.
The hope sparked by the Trumplash though, isn’t centered on a charismatic figure. The anti-Trump “resistance” is built on the backs of ordinary citizens who have mobilized. That is a more durable form of hope.
A new generation of nonwhite voters are turning away from Republicans because of President Trump's rhetoric.

A new generation of nonwhite voters are turning away from Republicans because of President Trump's rhetoric.

It’s not as if Obama didn’t know about the limits of charismatic leadership. He was a former community organizer who said in his farewell address, “Change only happens when ordinary people get involved… and come together to demand it.”
Yet somehow during his presidency he became this messianic figure who was going to lead a “glorious dance into a shining new era.”
“Yes we can” became “He’s got this.”
That’s not how lasting change occurs, said Kevin Kruse, a historian at Princeton University.
“There was the old Green Lantern theory of the presidency that people had in the Obama years. We elected Obama and he’s going to solve all our problems,” Kruse told me. “There’s been an awareness that this kind of approach, putting all of that trust in a top figure, can be a huge problem when Obama gets replaced by Trump.
“But also, that’s just not how change works. You got to provide the pressure and actually do some of the heavy lifting yourself.”

He’s removed the veneer that hid America’s racism

There was one problem, though, that even Obama wouldn’t even dare try to solve.
Remember when people used the phrase, “post-racial?” It was the notion that the US had somehow left behind its racist past because it had elected its first black president.
Then Trump came along.
President Obama felt he couldn't talk bluntly about race.

President Obama felt he couldn't talk bluntly about race.

He called Mexican immigrants “rapists,” referred to African nations as “sh*thole countries” and said there “were very fine people” who marched with white supremacists at a 2017 protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Trump was also widely condemned last month after he dispatched a series of racist tweets telling four nonwhite Democratic congresswomen that they should “go back” to the “crime infested places” where they came from, even though three of the four were born in the US and the fourth is a naturalized citizen.
Few are saying the US is post-racial now.
Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric has done what Obama couldn’t do because of his skin color — convince countless white Americans that racism is still pervasive in our country.
Here is a hard truth about Obama’s presidency. The nation’s first black president couldn’t be too black. He couldn’t talk too bluntly about racism, because some white Americans just couldn’t handle it. Remember how Obama was widely criticized for simply showing compassion for Trayvon Martin after the unarmed black teenager was killed by a neighborhood watch captain?
Trump, though, has performed a public service. He has removed what one scholar calls “the heartbeat of racism” — white denial.
In the Trump era, we have to talk about racism.
Kehinde Andrews, a historian and author of “Black-to-Black: Retelling Black Radicalism for the 21st Century,” has said that Trump is a better president for black America than Obama because he shows how deeply embedded racism is in America’s DNA.
Obama couldn’t do that because people would point to his success as evidence that racism was no longer a problem.
White nationalists and neo-Nazis march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.

White nationalists and neo-Nazis march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.

“It doesn’t make any difference what color the president is,” Andrews told me. “Malcolm X could have been elected president and racism would have continued just the same.”
Trump’s racial rhetoric has even inspired a conversion experience among some conservative white commentators like Joe Scarborough and Max Boot.
Boot wrote after Trump’s racist tweets: “It is as blatant example of racism and xenophobia as we have seen in our politics in my lifetime… I am ashamed to have spent most of my life as a Republican.”
That conversion has trickled down to many ordinary white Americans. According to one poll, racial prejudice has actually declined because Trump’s racially inflammatory rhetoric has “pushed the majority of white Americans in the opposite direction.”
Fewer media organizations now are contorting language to avoid calling Trump’s words racist. No more “racially infused” or “racially charged” phrases. They’re calling it as they hear it — it’s just racist.
In this way Trump has taken away one of the most effective weapons used by racists — plausible deniability, Kruse told me.
“Racist policies work better when they don’t seem to be racist,” Kruse said. “If you could give voters in the middle some plausible deniability that this isn’t about race — ‘I don’t believe in segregation, I believe in neighborhood schools; it’s not voter suppression, it’s voter integrity’ — If you put a more positive spin on it, it invites more people in who don’t see this policy as racist.
“Once the veneer comes off, a lot of people in the middle will shy away,” he added. “Trump has taken away the veneer.”

Staring into the abyss: America faces two possible futures

What many see beyond this veneer, though, is frightening. There’s a growing sense that Americans are struck in a “hideous loop of hate.” One commentator says the US is on the verge of a “political civil war.”
Obama and Trump represent two visions of this country. One looks to the past; another forward. Yet this Brown New America is coming; whether we like it or not. By next year, the majority of all Americans under 18 will be non-white.
“The US faces two possible futures: a thriving nation that embraces its new demographic makeup, or an escalation of fighting, racism and xenophobia,” one commentator said recently.
So which future will we choose? I really don’t know. There’s no law that says we deserve a happy ending. Democracies die all the time. Tragedy is part of history.
But so many people hoped that Obama’s election would be different. People talked about it in religious terms, as if his ascension meant we were getting closer to the promised land.
Community members attend a vigil for a high school student gunned down in this month's El Paso shooting.

Community members attend a vigil for a high school student gunned down in this month's El Paso shooting.

Maybe we expected too much.
It was hard enough for some white Americans to accept a black president. Accepting one who also pushed through dramatic, systemic political change may have been impossible.
The Trumplash, though, has forced us to face questions about ourselves that we can longer avoid. Pundits say the nation’s “essence” and “soul” are now at stake. One said the sight of Trump “leading a white mob in a chant about sending a black congresswoman ‘home’ will be featured in history books for decades to come.”
But maybe it’s such chilling scenes that will cause us to turn away from the abyss. We won’t wait anymore for some messianic figure from the left or right to fix it for us.
That’s the only hope and change I believe in now.
Thousands of people shared the video of Gallego’s interpreting and praised her for her speed and accuracy.
While I’m sure anybody would be thrilled to have total strangers congratulating them on their work performance, I have just one question for the folks going wild over Gallego’s interpreting — do you understand anything the signer is saying? If the answer is no, I want you to think before you share that video, especially if you’re doing it to feel more engaged with the Deaf community.
Lilit Marcus

Gallego, who is hard of hearing herself, is known as an interpreter who works often with rap and hip-hop musicians, and a self-professed ally in the Deaf community, but she’s hardly the first interpreter to go viral. There’s clearly just something about these videos that fascinates or excites people.
But when you treat other languages like fun, exotic modes of performance instead of like utilities, you are praising people who interpret for the deaf — while ignoring the deaf. Too many hearing people see signing as performance art instead of a living, breathing language that many people use to communicate basic thoughts and needs every single day.
Centering hearing people in Deaf experiences and presenting ASL as amusement for hearing concert-goers instead of as a mode of communication for the Deaf does a huge disservice to interpreters and their profession. For the dozens of profiles and hot takes written about Gallego, there are no such accompanying stories about discrimination, lack of access, and other real-time issues facing the deaf community.
I’m the child of one Deaf parent and one hard-of-hearing one, so ASL was my first language. People like me are called CODAs–Children of Deaf Adults–and have an active online and in real life organization that feels like a big family. I am always happy to talk to people about my experiences growing up and about the language that I love so much. And although well-intentioned hearing people tell often me how “beautiful” sign language is, I don’t feel like it’s a compliment.
Sign language interpreters do not exist for the amusement of hearing people. They exist to translate for deaf and hard of hearing people. That’s it. Period.
Think about it this way: if I praised a Swahili translator for how cool her voice sounded while speaking Swahili — which I don’t understand a word of–would that be a helpful comment? If I then said that online in a way that got picked up across social media, would I be contributing positively to a conversation about the real-life issues faced by people who speak Swahili? It’s a form of digital tourism, the equivalent of going to a place, taking a picture, and then leaving without having a single conversation with a resident.
“Hearing people’s obsession with interpreters’ performances, from news conferences to concerts” is just one of the ways in which “the mainstream accepts, and even loves, sign language, as long as it is sanitized of actual Deaf people,” Deaf novelist Sara Novic, the author of Girl at War, told me. “It’s an easy way for the mainstream to consume a cool and different culture while still keeping their stigmas about deafness and disability (and thus, their own superiority) intact. And it is so pervasive. I can’t tell you how many times people with whom I’ve had productive conversations about Deaf culture and ableism then suddenly turn up on my Facebook feed thrilled about a video of a hearing person signing a song. But that’s how deep this stigma runs — even allies can’t see that representation of our culture by hearing people isn’t, in fact, representation.”
So many fundamental misunderstandings about American Sign Language (and other signed languages around the world, for that matter) spring out of the fact that people simply do not treat it like a language. Many people believe that they cannot be hurtful or offensive if they say something complimentary — for example, a high school teacher who believes it’s not racist to say “all Asian kids are good at math,” since it’s a positive thing to be good at math. But stereotypes are still stereotypes, even when they’re disguised as compliments.
If you’re staring at an ASL interpreter instead of the play or musician he or she is interpreting for, you’re not learning to sign by osmosis — you’re just staring. Watching a signer communicate and thinking you’ll learn ASL along the way is sort of like walking into a library and thinking you’ll absorb all the information in the books just by looking at their covers. When people tell me they recently attended a live program that had an interpreter and that they loved watching him or her perform, I ask what new vocabulary words they picked up. Invariably, the answer is none.
Seeing ASL as something cool to watch instead of as a vital service also gives us a peek into why we still have so much work to do in this country around accessibility. Too often, “accessibility” becomes a catch-all term, with people believing it refers to one specific set of accommodations. I’ve personally witnessed festival and event organizers boast of the accommodations they’ve made for accessibility because they installed wheelchair ramps, only to see zero captioned movies or ASL interpreters. Those two needs are not the same, and lumping them all into one category doesn’t help. As long as we continue to praise interpreters for being fun enjoyment for hearing people, we will not put Deaf communities and their needs above the value of potentially having a video of an event go viral.