The National Weather Service is standing strong against politics

(CNN)To fully appreciate the significance of what happened last week with Hurricane Dorian, Alabama, a reckless President, and a federal science agency, you have to understand the trajectory the National Weather Service has been on. The Weather Service has been developing and executing a plan they call Weather-Ready Nation. Fundamentally, the change is simple: take how they communicate and how they provide information to local decision-makers just as seriously as getting the forecast right. As the entire weather enterprise has painfully learned, our science is only as good as our ability to get people to take action based on it. The Weather Service staff — there are thousands of meteorologists stationed at local offices — has spent eight years prioritizing …

Free speech wars miss the point of college

(CNN)As the new school year gets underway and the presidential campaign heats up, it won’t be long before we hear once again critics bewailing that free speech is no longer a core value at colleges and universities. Through a well-funded effort by conservative political organizations, already more than a dozen state legislatures have passed so-called campus free speech bills. Along with appeals to free speech, we will also (paradoxically) hear calls for civility, for soft self-censorship in the name of decorum. In fact, we already have, with Cindy McCain’s Acts of Civility initiative and in the wake of Bret Stephens’ reaction to a tweet from a George Washington professor. At a time when violent racism has become ingrained in immigration …

The helplessness of watching Dorian destroy the islands I call home

(CNN)As a native Bahamian, I know what to do when a hurricane is approaching. I know it’s important to stock up on water, get supplies, call my friends and family, listen to the panicked yet comedic voice of Bahamian radio personality Darold Miller for weather updates, and then wait. I’ve spent the past few months in Canada, where I’ve been working on my writing. As I watch the news about Hurricane Dorian, I am left sending helpless text messages to friends and family on the ground, pleading that they stay safe. As videos emerge of the flooding in the Abaco Islands, waiting in a country that is not my own feels like the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Dorian has …

With court opioid decision, Johnson & Johnson is being punished for playing by the rules

(CNN)If this week’s $572 million opioid liability verdict in Oklahoma is any indication of a trend to come, the nation’s automakers should be worried. Johnson & Johnson just got retroactively punished for the consequences of conducting its business legally according to the regulations of the time. When legal commerce generates results we don’t like, it’s worth asking who designed the marketplace, and who sets the rules. Those folks weren’t defendants in this trial. Similarly, Johnson & Johnson made drugs — Fentanyl patches and Nucynta pills — that successfully treat pain and have improved many lives. It also manufactured the base active drug sold to many other pharmaceutical companies who make riskier drugs, like oxycontin — that also brought relief, but …

SE Cupp: Our gun laws make it too damn easy for haters to kill

(CNN)It’s been one week since 31 people were killed in mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. It’s worth pointing out that those two shootings followed another, one week earlier, in Gilroy, California, where three people, including a 6-year-old and a 13-year-old, were killed by an angry guy with a gun. But I am no longer a NRA member. Being right no longer feels righteous. Because in the wake of more mass shootings, acts of senseless violence that sent innocent people running for their lives, leaving children orphaned and loved ones dead on the ground, I know we must do something about guns. We have a problem in this country — and the problem is hate. One of …

A chilling sign of today’s America

(CNN)Even in a week of bleak headlines, the one about the soaring sales of bulletproof backpacks for kids stood out. Other diagnoses of the problem pointed at mental illness and video games, to explain the carnage. But Peter Ambler, an El Paso native who’s the executive director of the Giffords gun safety organization, said this is just a distraction. “There is no evidence that our country has significantly higher rates of would-be terrorists than other developed countries,” Ambler wrote. “We also have comparable rates of mental illness to similarly developed countries — and we should also never forget the vast majority of people with a mental health diagnosis are not dangerous to others. What we have is weak gun laws.“ …

Marianne Williamson: What I learned raising my daughter in an affluent suburb

(CNN)In the late 1990s, I lived in Grosse Pointe, an affluent suburb of Detroit, Michigan, while raising my daughter. During that time, there were people in inner city Detroit who would rent apartments in Grosse Pointe, several families at a time, to enable their children to attend Grosse Pointe South High School, a top-notch public school. Sometimes families would get caught, and their children would be removed from the school in a humiliating fashion. I remember thinking what an injustice this was. I saw the human consequences of basing a significant portion of our educational funding on local property taxes. And I realized that if a child grows up in a financially advantaged home, his or her chances of a …

It is hard not to cry when you watch this video

(CNN)It is hard not to cry when you watch the video. After 23 years behind bars, his sister wrote in a Facebook post, a formerly incarcerated man walks through the door of his family’s house. His mother’s sobs make her joy plain — and testify to the depth of the pain suffered by families separated from their loved ones by an unjust criminal justice system. Here’s why: Decades ago, Congress decided that incarcerated individuals could earn up to 54 days off their sentence each year for good conduct. But the Department of Justice and federal Bureau of Prisons interpreted the law differently and only gave people 47 days, instead. Losing one week a year may not seem like much, but …

The God of Love had a really bad week

(CNN)Shock is not the right word when I heard the crowd at a Trump rally chanting “send her back.” There has been so much shock recently that it is hard to know what to call it anymore. “Where,” I blurted out to my husband, “did these people go to Sunday school?” Sign up for our new newsletter. Join us on Twitter and Facebook But, as a minority of white Christians know, and the majority of Christians of color never need be reminded, the God of love is always hanging around, the brown-skinned Jewish rabbi preaching about the poor being blessed and the broken-hearted comforted. Love your neighbor as yourself. Do unto others. Let the little children come. Faith, hope, and …

The most convincing reason for being ‘sober-curious’

(CNN)“It’s so hard not to drink,” Charlotte Underwood told me. “Everyone I grew up with was part of that culture. Even visiting them now, it’s so hard not to drink because it’s a fundamental part of our community.” More than a quarter of British 16- to 24-year-olds classify themselves as non-drinkers. And the success of Brooklyn-based journalist Ruby Warrington’s 2018 book, “Sober Curious,” has reflected a rise in sober social clubs and social media accounts. The sober-curious are not necessarily alcoholics. They may not want to be teetotalers. But they want relief from the pressure to drink to excess. Heavy social drinking is so often treated as an obligation, rather than a pleasurable choice. Like the clingy friend who pesters …

Like Taylor Swift, every woman faces a Justin Bieber

(CNN)It’s easy to argue that, in 2019, women are more powerful than they’ve ever been in United States history. A record 117 women won office in the 2018 midterms. A record number of women are vying for the presidency in 2020. The youngest billionaire in history is a woman (Hi, Kylie Jenner!). The number of women CEOs in Fortune 500 companies hit a record high. But even at a time when “something is happening” with women, we’re constantly reminded that even the most powerful among us have to fight for what’s theirs, whether it be reproductive justice, a seat at the proverbial table, or creative license. And we cannot deny that, far too often, behind these powerful women are men… …

There is a rottenness at the heart of the Border Patrol

(CNN)As progressive members of the House of Representatives traveled to Texas to see immigrant holding facilities for themselves Monday, ProPublica published a news story about a highly offensive Facebook group made up of current and former Border Patrol agents. A slap on the wrist won’t do here. Any agent making comments this vile is a danger to migrants and should be fired immediately. Agents who are members of this group and failed to report coworkers, or simply observed and laughed along, should also face professional consequences. But beyond the surfacing of the social media account, it’s the culture of the entire agency that has been exposed here, and this was all predictable. This is an agency, after all, staffed by …

To spite Putin, come visit Georgia

(CNN)Dear travelers, wine drinkers, hikers and beachgoersDear epicureans, romantics and historiansDear anybody looking for an adventure or wanting to spite Russian President Vladimir Putin. The country of Georgia needs you. If you’ve ever considered visiting this small Black Sea nation nestled between Russia and Turkey, now is the time. For those of you who have already been, it is time to return. It was not. But because of Putin’s actions (and a previous Soviet strategy to divide and conquer the region) 20% of this country is occupied by Russian forces. The truth is complex, but it’s not hard to understand: Georgians want their country back. And they want to share it with visitors because they are proud of this land. …

‘Pose’ has a potent message: don’t wait, just live

(CNN)The second season of the groundbreaking FX drama “Pose” takes place in 1990, but too many of its themes are painfully familiar in 2019. Transgender women are still disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS. Our community continues to face widespread employment discrimination, poverty and harassment. “Pose” continues to tackle these topics with sensitivity in its new slate of episodes. But what makes this series so powerful is its unapologetic depiction of transgender joy. Sign up for our new newsletter. Join us on Twitter and Facebook In the season two premiere of “Pose,” a supportive nurse tries to encourage Blanca, a de facto mother to a crew of young LGBTQ people of color who is struggling with her own survival, to take her …

What happens when women rule

(CNN)The Nevada legislature, which concluded its biennial session on Monday, is making history and not just statistically. At 52%, this state house is the first to become majority female, and what a difference that is proving to make, particularly when it comes to women’s reproductive rights. The penalties for having an abortion — or carrying one out — are worse. In Louisiana, a woman’s reward for being the victim of a sexual assault: bearing and raising her rapist’s child. In Alabama, abortion has been almost entirely banned, including in cases of rape and incest. In Georgia, once a fetal heartbeat is detected, the unborn child is considered a “natural person,” leaving women who get an abortion and doctors who perform …

Arya, Lady Gaga and Avengers: The great escape

(CNN)A glittering gala celebrating the campiest fashion, a superhero flick that shattered box-office records, a fierce and mythical TV world of ice and fire — and Meghan and Harry’s new arrival, Archie. As Rob Picheta wrote, “The internet reveled in dissecting and poking fun at the most eye-catching fashion statements — and no one received the social media treatment more than Lady Gaga,” who displayed four different looks. “Avengers,” which Internet Movie Database says has grossed $2.3 billion worldwide and could eclipse “Avatar” as the biggest film of all time, certainly falls in the escapism category. But “Avengers” — and the Marvel cinematic universe — also reflects a historical arc, wrote Aaron Freedman. (Warning: A film spoiler lurks below.) When “Iron …