22June

Republicans Have All the Power and No Ideas

Posted by - Swindle

Since 2008, the story of American politics has been the Republican Party’s long, vicious struggle to regain power and cling onto it by whatever means necessary.

The Tea Party wave election in 2010 brought a new legion of far-right ideologues into Congress. That same year, Republicans won control of statehouses across the country, which gave them the ability to redraw electoral maps in the wake of the census. Around the same time, Republicans began passing new laws that make it even harder for poor people, young people, and people of color to vote. And they expanded a decades-long war on unions, traditionally a wellspring of Democratic support and cash.

DC gridlock soon became normalized as once-fringe conservatives consolidated control of the Republican Party. In 2013, right-wing elements of the GOP briefly shut down the government because they objected to funding for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). That same year, House conservatives launched an ultimately successful campaign to derail immigration reform—again.

In the Senate, Mitch McConnell, then the minority leader, did everything he could to block Democratic bills. After the Republicans retook the Senate in 2014, McConnell became majority leader. That helped him engineered his most audacious act of blockage ever, when he refused to even hold hearings on Barack Obama’s pick to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. That shockingly partisan gambit paid off—like a lot of Republican gambles—when Donald Trump successfully nominated Neil Gorsuch to the court after winning the presidency.

So how are Republicans choosing to exercise this power they’ve spent so much time and effort acquiring? What are the ends that make their means necessary? With the unveiling of the Senate’s version of healthcare reform on Thursday, America got reminder of their overriding goals: Cut taxes for the rich, and make life as miserable as possible for poor people.

There’s a little more to it than that, of course (the bill would also defund Planned Parenthood for a year), but really that’s what this boils down to. Arguably the most important part of Obama’s signature healthcare law was Medicaid expansion, which gave millions of people (most of them poor) access to insurance and healthcare and may have even improved the economy. “National, multi-state, and single state studies show that states expanding Medicaid under the ACA have realized budget savings, revenue gains, and overall economic growth,” wrote the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation in a February assessment of studies on the subject.

The new Senate bill, like the bill the House passed last month, would roll back that Medicaid expansion, though the Senate version would do so more slowly, spreading the cuts out between 2021 and 2024. Both versions would also place new funding restrictions on Medicaid, forcing states to make hard choices about cutting services or raising taxes—or both. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the House bill’s changes to Medicaid alone would lead to 14 million fewer people having insurance by 2026. (The CBO has yet to score the Senate version.)

The savings generated by taking away insurance from the poor, disabled, and addicted will be mostly eaten up by a variety of tax breaks for the rich.


Watch: Inside Pennsylvania’s heroin epidemic


Healthcare reform is the only piece of major legislation the Republican Congress has considered so far. This is telling. Lawmakers could have tried to tackle tax reform, or they could have followed Trump’s lead and pushed for infrastructure spending, which was previously opposed by conservatives but is broadly popular across America. They could have even considered passing laws related to immigration or abortion, issues that remain very important to the Republican base.

Instead they chose to take on healthcare, rushing through a shockingly unpopular bill with the minimum possible amount of debate. Even by the low standards of the 21st century, this has been a cynical process. Republicans have complained about high insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act, but their bill will only lower premiums by making insurance less generous.

Meanwhile, Trump doesn’t seem to know or care about the bill he has endorsed repeatedly and in public; the healthcare reform he’s been the most vocal about, letting insurers sell across state lines, isn’t in either version of the bill. Libertarians who wanted the ACA’s structure scrapped entirely have been ignored. Other ideas that have percolated on the right, like universal catastrophic coverage, were never considered seriously by Republican legislators.

Of course, more complicated plans, or proposals that cater to the populist wing of Trump’s base, would require actual compromise. But Republicans clawed their way to control of the government by refusing to do just that—by denouncing any deviation from anti-government orthodoxy as socialism or worse. The closer they got to winning, the more their visioned narrowed—in 2015, far-right conservatives overthrew House Speaker John Boehner for being insufficiently inflexible. In March, that same group of diehards successfully brought down the first draft of this same bill for not doing enough to wipe out the Affordable Care Act.

Republicans wouldn’t have taken over the White House and Congress without such a pure, crusading spirit. It fires up their base and forces politicians to toe the conservative line lest they face primary challenges from the right. Rage at Obama and the Democrats may have poisoned American politics for a generation, but it worked. The Republicans won.

But you can’t govern on rage. Well, you can, and we’re finding out what that looks like right now. So far, it’s pretty fucking ugly.

Follow Harry Cheadle on Twitter.

22June

Why Can’t My Famous Gender Nonconforming Friends Get Laid?

Posted by - Swindle

It’s a cool Saturday night in my East Village apartment, and Alok Vaid-Menon has just created a Tinder account for me, while Jacob Tobia bats their eyelashes in the background.

Alok and Jacob are two of the most publicly visible gender nonconforming femmes I know. As a performance poet, Alok has just gone solo after touring in dozens of cities in the US and abroad as one half of the poetry duo Darkmatter. Jacob was named to 2016’s OUT 100, has made a web series for NBC, and been the subject of a GLAAD-nominated episode of MTV’s True Life. Both are trans-identified, but belong somewhere in between genders, and they’ve amassed huge social media followings as gender nonbinary, femme, and fabulous human beings. They’ve become celebrities in their own right, with Jacob regularly walking down the red carpet at LGBTQ galas and Alok featuring in the Janet Mock-narrated HBO documentary The Trans List.

But if you think all that would land them a date, you’d be wrong. And nobody is more puzzled than me as to why such obvious catches are having dating problems when so many clamor for their attention.

It’s a reliable source of ennui in our group chats, and as the elder among my nonbinary pals, I’ve been giving Jacob and Alok dating advice for weeks. Trans dating is tricky, because you have to deal with prejudice on top of all the usual insecurities around wanting to be as attractive as possible for a potential mate. Dating among nonbinary femmes is even trickier, as the vast majority of people, even queer ones, imagine themselves as dating men or women exclusively, so nonbinary folks can complicate how others view one’s sexuality. I’ve seen Alok and Jacob wade through crushes and ambiguous interactions, live-texted flirtatious lines to help them reel those crushes in, and coached them to project insouciant confidence so the cuties would come back for more.

I’m partnered and not really looking, but since my relationship isn’t exclusive, Alok and Jacob convinced me to open a Tinder account so I could demonstrate IRL the maneuvers I’d long touted. I intended to show them something I’ve learned over time—that if you treat being trans like it’s a source of shame, then that’s how your date will feel, too. My whole game is predicated on projecting my most desirable self, and not treating my transness as an obstacle.

Instead, what I learned during the social experiment that followed is that Jacob and Alok, like many gender nonconforming femmes, live in a world where admirers applaud them for their radical politics on social media, and people they’re attracted to associate with them because of their slayworthiness and social capital, but refuse to make love to them, or at least fuck them well.

As Alok set up my Tinder account, I became confused when they asked whether I wanted to set my gender as “man” or “woman.” This all happened in those dark days of autumn 2016, before Tinder added 37 new gender options to the app. Since I’m on the femme side of nonbinary, I thought it would be obvious that I wouldn’t label myself a man. Alok then added pictures of me from Facebook. In each of them, I was androgynous and without makeup—except for one from an event the three of us attended, where I borrowed a lycra bodysuit from Alok and painted my lips black.

“OMG, I’m going to switch my gender to ‘woman’ too so I can look at straight guys!” Alok exclaimed as they picked up their phone, and Jacob followed suit. I’d vaguely known that most of their prospects had been gay-identified men, but it didn’t even occur to me that if given only two gender choices, they would need to pick “man” on Tinder so they would get gay instead of straight matches, along with the rare bi and pan guys.

I personally felt that dating straight-identified men was the right choice. My experience has been that straight guys are more willing to experiment with GNC folk than gay guys, because their attractions aren’t as socially defined and don’t come with a lifestyle attached. Also, there are a lot more of them. This was my experience, anyway.


Watch: Ex-Scientology Leader and Trans Icon Kate Bornstein on What It Takes to Survive:


“Straight boys are soooo cuuuute,” Alok said as they and Jacob started swiping, their exaggerated intonation managing to feel both sincere and ironic. “Maybe we should get electrolysis and take hormones,” Jacob added in jest, perking up at the bevy of new options.

We spent the next hour swiping away, and as I began getting matches, I put on the charm. One guy’s profile described him as vertically challenged, so I messaged with, “I like vertical challenges,” and I got rewarded with a smiley face and an invitation to a Broadway play. I told a literature grad student that if we gandered at each other maybe one of us would end up getting goosed, the kind of nerdy wordplay I sensed he’d like. I was off to a good start, and passed the phone around to show them how text flirtation was done.

In the meantime, Alok and Jacob complained that they couldn’t get matches in the first place, even when they resorted to swiping right on almost everyone. And even with the few matches they did get, guys didn’t respond when they messaged.

It became apparent that my brand of gender-nonconformity was somehow more attractive to men than Alok and Jacob’s, and as the night wore on, I found myself sincerely befuddled. The looks I gave in my pictures were just as funky as theirs, with my partly-shaved head and my geometric bodysuit plus oversize platform heels, or a close-up of me sans makeup that showed off my strong brow and flat chin in all their androgynous glory. I wondered aloud why Alok and Jacob weren’t getting matches, if there was some algorithmic mystery at play—whether guys were racist against Indians, in Alok’s case, or if they found Jacob’s bright makeup too intimidating.

“Meredith,” Alok finally blurted out, interrupting me in a tone replete with tolerance. “You look cis.”

With those words, Alok exposed the key difference between me and them. Though I’ve come into my own gender-nonbinary identity, to many, my body reads as cisgender because I’m short and don’t have body hair. I’ve also taken hormones and had reassignment surgery, because I went through a period when I thought I was a binary trans woman, before figuring out I wasn’t comfortable with that identity either.

What I didn’t quite grasp until Alok pointed it out was that now, regardless of how GNC I tried to present, cis people still predominantly read me as a cis woman. If I told a stranger I was trans, it’s likely they might think I’m an early-transitioning trans guy more than anything else. So on Tinder, I can still get dates, since there are plenty of guys who like the androgynous female look. On the other hand, Alok and Jacob’s features haven’t been softened by hormones, and they have visible body hair that marks them as more obviously trans, so they have a much harder time. Nonbinary femmes like them are too masc for the straights, too femme for the gays, and too out for nearly everyone else.

Shortly after our Tinder experiment, Alok embarked on a world performance poetry tour, and Jacob moved to LA to work as a director’s assistant on Transparent, while I went off to the Philippines to work on a memoir. But we kept each other abreast of our experiment through a running group chat, even when we often responded to each other hours late due to round-the-world time differences.

Between the three of us, Jacob seemed to have the most exciting life, dating-wise. Between moving to a new city and working on a glamorous, award-winning TV show, their life was full of newfound opportunities to meet prospects. But by Valentine’s Day, they’d ended up in a crisis: the supposedly femme-friendly gay guy they’d been hanging out with for weeks told them he didn’t end up reciprocating their crush. It’s a scenario that’s played out over and over again for them.

Jacob’s Valentine’s Day disaster story started when they posted a screencap of an Instagram post from a trans organization to our group chat that said “LOVE STARTS FROM WITHIN.” Jacob captioned it, “Subtext: none of y’all trans femmes can get laid.” Jacob revealed to us what had inspired it, sending us screencaps of a series of texts they’d exchanged with this crush, who, in the end, didn’t want to be alone with them on Valentine’s Day. “That intimate component is not what I’m seeing for us,” he finally wrote. Jacob in turn sent him a link to a Facebook post they’d written a couple of weeks before about wanting to be found desirable. “I’m not sorry for my body or what I want,” they’d written. “I am only sorry that we live in a culture where people like me have to struggle in order to have romance, companionship, and sensuality in our lives.”

The guy responded back with clapping and raised hands emoji, then a lengthy missive about his struggle with his own masculinity. According to Jacob, this type of reaction is typical of guys they approach sexually: the guys empathize while unwittingly minimizing Jacob’s hardships, and affirms their gender with words while simultaneously rejecting them. And sure, maybe this one particular guy wouldn’t have been interested in them either if Jacob was masculine-presenting, but the fact that this has happened with literally every gay guy Jacob has tried to date is clear evidence that their femme identity is the problem.

What’s ultimately true is that, as easy as it is to support someone like Jacob with conscious words in a world where it’s now cool and progressive in some circles to publicly applaud gender-nonbinary people, it’s virtually impossible to undo the centuries of social conditioning that has defined what the world deems unconsciously desirable—desires that rarely include nonbinary femmes with hairy, hormone- and surgery-unaltered bodies.

Alok woke up in London to several dozen messages from my exchange with Jacob—words of encouragement and counsel, evil plots and manipulations, catty comments about ignoring hangers-on who only want them for their social caché but don’t actually want to sleep with them. Alok responded to the previous evening’s mess with: “I got femmezoned by my masc crush yesterday too. #solidarity.”

Alok went on to tell a similar story about how they had this crush on a masc boy while they were on tour, who would come over all the time to talk and watch TV shows, but would always find some reason to go home when Alok invited him to spend the night. The guy kept talking about boys he wanted to bring home, but took it for granted that any gender-nonconforming femme was just a friend.

“It was obvious that he sought friendship with GNC people because only friendships with masc people were sexualized,” Alok wrote. “He created this distinction between friendship as asexual/femme and dating as sexual/masc.”

In the meantime, Jacob and I both OMG’d over our new favorite word—femmezone—as I imagined saying it with three syllables, fe-me-zone, like Amazon. That kind of wit and creativity is exactly how so many of us trans kids have trained ourselves to combat rejection. Jacob replied that they should just write a TV pilot in which they play themself having sex with cute mascs. “It’s really my best shot at getting laid,” they said.

“You can be the nonbinary Mindy Kaling,” I replied.

“NB Mindy” has been one of our nicknames for Jacob ever since. Through our lols and OMGs, on three continents that span more than half the world, the underlying validity of Jacob’s logic lingered between us. There was a better chance of them getting what they wanted if they played themself on TV rather than being their actual self in the real world.

Intuitively, it still makes no sense to me that my cute, smart friends couldn’t find someone to be with. Yet even as I remain confident in my judgment, it’s clear our Tinder experiment showed how skewed my perceptions are—that maybe the dating world isn’t as kind to femmes as I thought it was.

I admire and love Jacob and Alok for remaining steadfast in their convictions about their gender, in choosing a path I wish I could have chosen but didn’t know I could forge when I discovered my own trans identity more than a decade ago. That was before social media and before the trans tipping point. Jacob and Alok don’t need more claps or raised hands, more YASSSS’s or SLAY’s. What they need is to be found deeply, undeniably fuckable. Yet for all their brilliance, fuckability is exactly what some gender nonconforming femmes, even social media celebrities, don’t ever seem to have.

Visit Meredith Talusan’s website and follow her on Twitter.

22June

Golden Knights deal Schlemko to Canadiens

Posted by - Swindle

The Montreal Canadiens acquired defenseman David Schlemko from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2019, the team announced Thursday.

The Golden Knights claimed Schlemko from the San Jose Sharks in Wednesday’s expansion draft.

He spent one season with the Sharks after previous campaigns with the New Jersey Devils, Calgary Flames, Dallas Stars, and Arizona Coyotes.

The 30-year-old has appeared in 360 career games and registered 17 goals and 70 assists. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Coyotes in 2007.

Schlemko has three years remaining on his contract, carrying a $2.1-million cap hit.

Copyright © 2017 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

22June

Ron Howard Is Taking Over the Han Solo Movie

Posted by - Swindle

Ron Howard will be stepping in as director on Disney’s upcoming Han Solo movie after the film’s original directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, were fired from the project on this week, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Howard will take over the near-completed project in Lord and Miller’s absence, hopefully getting the project completed before its scheduled release date in May 2018. The original directing duo had almost finished principle photography when Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy ousted them on Tuesday. Variety reports that the original directors—who promised to “take risks” and “give the audience a fresh experience” when they were hired in 2015—clashed with Kennedy and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan.

“Kathy, her team, and Larry Kasdan have been doing it their way for a very long time. They know how the cheese is made and that’s how they want it made,” a source told Variety. “It became a very polarizing set.”

Lord and Miller alluded to the same issues in their recent statement about leaving the film, which stars Alden Ehrenreich as the young Solo and Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. “Unfortunately, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project. We normally aren’t fans of the phrase ‘creative differences’ but for once this cliché is true,” the duo wrote.

The movie’s production stalled briefly this week as the studio frantically searched for a replacement director who could keep things on schedule, finally landing on Ron Howard. The guy who directed Apollo 13 is going back into space to frantically salvage a version of Han Solo’s origin story that Disney will be happy with.

“At Lucasfilm, we believe the highest goal of each film is to delight, carrying forward the spirit of the saga that George Lucas began 40 years ago,” Kennedy said in a statement. “With that in mind, we’re thrilled to announce that Ron Howard will step in to direct the untitled Han Solo film. We have a wonderful script, an incredible cast and crew, and the absolute commitment to make a great movie.”

Absolute commitment or no, betting that the movie actually hits its current release date is the sort of wager that lost Lando the Millennium Falcon in the first place.

22June

Hurricanes acquire Van Riemsdyk from Golden Knights

Posted by - Swindle

The Vegas Golden Knights have flipped their first player.

Vegas traded defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk and a seventh-round draft pick in 2018 to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a second-round selection in Friday’s draft, the Hurricanes announced.

The second-round pick is the 62nd overall in Friday’s draft and was originally acquired by the Hurricanes from the Pittsburgh Penguins as part of the Ron Hainsey trade.

Van Riemsdyk was the Golden Knights’ selection from the Blackhawks at Wednesday night’s expansion draft. The 25-year-old tallied five goals and 16 points in 58 games with Chicago this season.

With the deal, the Golden Knights now possess six picks in the first two rounds of this year’s draft.

Copyright © 2017 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

22June

‘The City Always Wins’ Goes Inside the Front Lines of the Egyptian Revolution

Posted by - Swindle

This story appears in the May issue of VICE magazine UK. Click HERE to subscribe.

November 19, 2011, 6:09 PM.

Mariam opens her backpack and quickly moves through the apartment: phone charger, water, two packs of cigarettes, two lighters, small notepad, antiseptic spray, pen, painkillers, toothbrush, spare underwear, socks, T-shirt, ID. Money, phone, keys in pockets.

She pulls out her phone and writes a tweet:

Everybody: Go to Tahrir now. Tell everyone. The police attacked the “injured of the revolution” protest. Huge numbers are out.

“Ready?” Khalil asks.

“Yes,” she replies. “Let’s go.”

In four seconds she can pull the kufiyyeh up around her face, tie it around the back of her head, can become a boy. She practices once, in the bedroom mirror. He watches her hands, so deft in the knot.

He pulls her close to him and they stop for a moment before stepping out into it. It’s finally happening again. The streets are full. She kisses him, moves herself against him; the clamor of the riot rises up from the streets below.

“Don’t do anything stupid,” she says. “Or brave.”

“It’s not me I’m worried about.”

She pushes against him for a last moment and he is in their first night together and the echo of bullets ricocheting through the air and the blood rushing as his hands pulled her body against him—but the front door’s open, it’s time to go.

There are no cars on the street. The elegant boulevards of Downtown are all but deserted. What few people there are hurry toward Tahrir. In the square a police truck is on fire. Khalil and Mariam hurry through the crowd, toward the reverb of shotguns down Mohamed Mahmoud Street. Throughout the square the same words ring out, again and again:

Down, down with military rule!

Mariam cannot help but smile to herself.

Down, down with military rule!

It’s finally happening again.

Burning tires light the long and narrow dark of Mohamed Mahmoud Street. Silhouettes slip between the flames. The police form a dark line of men ahead. At the front, the conscripts. Behind them the officers wait darkly, their trucks and shotguns ready. Behind them both lies the Ministry of the Interior, still standing despite all those who gave their lives in January trying to take it. Motorcycle ambulances race the injured away from the front line. She squeezes Khalil’s hand and is gone. He pulls his phone out and sets it to record through the binaural microphones in his headphones. He stands to one side for a moment, watching the shape and rhythm of the battle.

A hundred people make up the front line at any one time, informal ranks of stone throwers and shit talkers hurling everything they have at the cops. Behind them a middle section stretches down the street, the immediate backup, people taking a break from the rocks or gearing up the nerve for those final few steps into the firing line, people pushing up for a better view, the fire starters and gas catchers hurling the smoking canisters back where they came from. Behind them, where Mohamed Mahmoud Street flows out into Tahrir, are the spectators, the chanters, the drummers, doctors, quarriers, and hawkers.

A rock crashes into the tree above Khalil and cracks into his head, another grazes his shoulder and another bounces off the tarmac onto his shins, and he picks one up and hurls it back at the police. He can’t see where it lands. He pulls his hood up and slips into the crowd, into a unitary anonymity, and with each rock he slings out into the no-man’s-land he feels a growing potency as more and more bodies press up to the front. Each shot rings like a ripple through the crowd, each person who falls hurried quickly away to the doctors, each rock in the air an invisible fate, an invigorating fatalism.

A siren sounds and a panic of blue light flashes through the darkness. A shotgun sounds. Two APCs charge forward, showering buckshot, and a gas canister lands at his feet and the poison takes hold in seconds and cramps at his stomach and burns his eyes and he runs in the stampede back to Tahrir, holding his breath until he’s doubled over, dry retching, waiting for his stomach to unclench itself. Through the salty mucus filling his eyes he sees a boy in a hood, feels him rubbing his back, and it’s only when the breaths come again that he sees it’s Mariam.

“You OK?” she says.

“I’m good.” She takes her bag off her back and pulls out half an onion, holds it under his nose.
“Does that work?” he asks.

“Try it.”

He breathes it in.

“Isn’t this an old Palestinian trick?” she asks.

In the crowd behind her at least three people are splashing Pepsi into their eyes, desperate to soothe the burning.

“I was doing the Pepsi thing before,” Khalil says. “This is better.”

A man with a large cardboard box on his head weaves through the crowd: “Gas masks! Ten pounds! Get your gas masks!”

“You’re good?” she says.

“Yes.”

“I’ve got to find my mother,” Mariam says, then squeezes his hand and is gone.

8:47 PM

“What’d you need?” Mariam asks as she slips under the rope separating the field hospital from the street. She’d spotted her mother from afar, her gray hair tied back tight, the headlamp, the rapid movements.

“Betadine, cotton wool, gauze,” her mother says without looking up from her patient’s buckshot back.

Mariam knows her way around the supplies and quickly places each item carefully next to her mother.

“Dress it?” Mariam says.

“Yes.”

They work quickly together. Mariam loves watching her mother work. When she was young Mariam had a vision of herself as an emergency room doctor, quick and clear in command, calm under pressure, compassionate with her patients, an example to her colleagues and immaculate in scrubs.

“You OK?” her mother asks.

“Fine.”

“And Khalil?”

“Everyone’s fine.”

“Good… You’ll be all right, son,” Nadia says to the teenage boy, gritting his teeth against the hot metal in his body. “There’s nothing serious, thank God. We’ll clean you up and you’ll be just fine.”

“Thank you,” the boy mutters through clenched teeth.

Mariam’s phone buzzes:

Have the supplies, where should we meet?

Ten minutes later she meets the old friend of her parents’ by the Borsa. He smiles as he sees her, opens the trunk of his car.

“Pretty much everything on the list,” he says.

“Great,” she says, counting the boxes quickly.

“Thanks.”

“I’ll be back with more tomorrow. Be careful.”

They can’t get the car to the field clinic but she can’t carry all the boxes alone. Four teenage boys sit smoking in a street café. “Hey,” Mariam says. The boys look up at her. “Yeah, you guys,” she says. “Come help me carry this stuff to the revolution.”

They jump to attention, grab two boxes each, and follow behind her, through the crowd to the field hospital.

Her phone vibrates—

Rosa: Any injured take them to Qasr al-Aini Hospital and call me. Some doctors there we can trust.

Every 30 seconds a new motorcycle ambulance arrives carrying another young body riddled with bleeding buckshot.

“Excuse me, miss,” a deep, formal voice says from above her.

“Yes,” Mariam says, without looking up.

“Would you please wear this?”

She snaps her eyes up. Wear this? What the fuck does this asshole have the nerve to try? Wear this? If there’s a fucking cap or headscarf in his hand, I’m going to—

He’s holding out a white helmet.

“Please,” he says. “We bought helmets for the doctors. You have to stay safe. We need you.”

11:49 PM

“It’s a fucking generational war.” Malik shouts over the echoing reverb of shotguns and the clattering rain of a thousand rocks. “It’s all-out fucking war and if we don’t do something we’re gonna be down on our fucking knees until we’re fucking dead! ‘Cause they’re not gonna let go of shit until they’re all dead! Here! Have some fucking elections, you wankers. There you go. Shut up now, aye? We’ve got no choice but to rip it from them, the old. It’s not about right or left anymore—they’re all the same. It’s about young versus old. They’d send us all off to war to die if they could, the bastards. Everyone under 40, off you go. Take your debt and your stupid student loans and your useless fucking university degrees and fuck off! It’s a war, man. Young against old. Whole fucking world over.”

Khalil keeps his eye on the mouth of Mohamed Mahmoud Street, for sirens, panic, for Mariam’s kufiyyeh.

2:31 AM

A young man lies semiconscious on the ground, leg elevated, trousers sodden with blood. Mariam’s mother is before him, tying the wound tight.

“Femoral artery,” Nadia says as Mariam kneels next to her.

“I can take it,” Mariam says.

“It’s OK.”

“Mama—you have a lot of patients. I’ve got this.”

Nadia pauses, and Mariam takes over the tourniquet. Femoral means he’s lost a lot of blood.

“Just try and be calm,” Nadia says softly to the boy. “You’re brave, son. You’re really brave. This is one of my best nurses.” She strokes his forehead and turns quietly to the next case. Mariam pulls the improvised lever out of the bandage, ties it. The tourniquet can stop the bleeding but without an ambulance he’ll lose the leg.

The boy looks up at Mariam as she finishes the knot. “You’ll be fine,” Mariam says. “The ambulance is coming.”

“Where will it take me?” he says.

“To the hospital.”

“But the hospitals are Mubarak’s.”

“Not all of them.”

A motorcycle’s tires screech to a halt. Hey! someone shouts. We need help here! Two doctors carry in a new casualty, wheels burn, the bike speeds back to the front.

“Come with me to the hospital,” the boy says.

“I can’t.”

“It’s a good hospital? It’s with the revolution?”

“Yes. We need to stop the bleeding. They have better equipment.”

“You’ll visit me? To check they’ve done it right?”

She looks at his face for the first time and is struck by how pretty he is, his high cheekbones and delicate nose.

“I’ll try and find you in the morning.”

“Thank you.”

7:39 AM

In the dawn there is a waiting. A comedown. The dark possibility of the night is over and the real world has survived it and is growing in strength all around her as shops open and the first buses roar past, and soon all that’ll be left is a clinical need for a shower to wash off the night’s chemical accelerants. The rising sun seeps a dull gray into the streets, slowly lighting the long and ruined road between the few remaining revolutionists and the police. Khalil and Mariam sit side by side on a car parked in Bab al-Louq, smoking and watching, legs touching. A gas canister chokes out its last few breaths. The police, in full body armor, stand at one end of the street, all Wild Bunch shotguns resting on their hips. The revolutionists, cigarettes hanging out of their mouths, wait with rocks in their hands, the stretch of road between them too long to make the throw.

The City Always Wins, by Omar Robert Hamilton, is out now in the US, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The UK edition will be published on August 3, by Faber & Faber.

22June

Oilers trade Eberle to Islanders for Strome

Posted by - Swindle

The Edmonton Oilers have traded forward Jordan Eberle to the New York Islanders in exchange for forward Ryan Strome, the Oilers announced Thursday.

Eberle appeared in all 82 games with the Oilers last season, registering 20 goals and 31 assists. Through 13 playoff contests, the 27-year-old was limited to just two points.

Strome – selected fifth overall by the Islanders in 2011 – skated in 69 games last season, finishing with 13 goals and 17 assists.

The move is somewhat of salary cap deal for the Oilers. Eberle was slated to earn $6 million over the next two seasons, while Strome is signed through 2017-18 at $2.5 million.

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21June

Solarte headed to DL with oblique issue

Posted by - Swindle

Padres second baseman Yangervis Solarte is expected to be placed on the 10-day disabled list after sustaining a left oblique strain moments before first pitch in Tuesday night’s 4-0 loss.

21June

This Runaway Bus Is the State of the MTA Right Now

Posted by - Swindle

Things are pretty bleak for commuters in NYC right now. Not only do straphangers have to worry about bags of dead crabs, near-biblical swarms of crickets, or bloody newspapers joining their morning commute, but at this point they’d be lucky to catch a train running on time.

Sure, every New Yorker has a public transportation horror story, but the delays have gotten so bad recently that people have been trapped underground in hot cars for 45 minutes straight. One college student resulted to a DIY graduation ceremony on a stalled E train last month because he was stuck underground during the real commencement. Now, it looks like we’ve reached a point where even the Metro Transportation Authority’s (MTA) machines are turning against their masters.

Early Wednesday morning, an MTA bus made a quick escape after its driver stepped outside, sending the empty vehicle careening backward down a Brooklyn street:

Twitter user Candace McCowan posted a video of the runaway bus as it smashed into cars and crashed to a stop in front of a church, its helpless driver chasing after it. According to ABC 6, one pedestrian was injured when he dove out of the way of the erratic vehicle.

The MTA has yet to comment on what the hell was going on with this particular public transit nightmare, but it did issue a sweeping apology to troubled NYC commuters on Wednesday following yet another morning of massive subway delays.

The subways may be a total shitshow, but at least it looks like MTA buses are on time—just driverless and going the wrong direction.

21June

Jim Jefferies Hated Going to School with His Mother

Posted by - Swindle

In Early Works, we talk to artists young and old about the jobs and life experiences that led them to their current moment. Today, it’s comedian Jim Jefferies, whose Comedy Central show The Jim Jefferies Show airs Tuesdays at 10:30.

I grew up in Sydney. My father was a cabinetmaker until the recession in Australia—his business went under, so he worked as a maintenance guy at a high school from when I was ten years old until he retired. My mother was a substitute teacher at my school, which was horrible. She was a very intimidating lady who yelled a lot, so she wasn’t the most popular teacher with the students, and I got bullied a lot for it.

But I grew up in a very nice suburb. My parents weren’t very wealthy, but they bought a house there in the 1960s, and the suburb grew around them and became a very affluent part of Sydney. So I actually grew up around a lot of rich people, but I was poor myself. My childhood was alright—I had two older brothers, and we did a lot of bike riding and going to the dumpster behind the 7-Eleven and trying to get old Playboys out of the bins. Australia’s a pretty easy place to grow up in. I don’t ever remember feeling in any danger.

My brother was always considered the funny one in the family, and I wasn’t. The only thing I liked doing in school was the musical every year. I always got the funny role, but I wasn’t a class clown, and I didn’t have a huge group of friends or anything. I was a much quieter kid than I am now. It wasn’t until I went to college that I realized I could meet girls through being funny—in high school, I was too shy to even talk to a girl. When I was 18, I started to get my confidence up.

I loved watching rugby and comedy. I really liked sketch comedy—Monty Python and all that type of stuff—and I was mad about the Beatles as a teenager. Around that time in Australia, if I was to see a comedian, it would be some guy from America or Britain who came on one of our late-night shows and did four minutes. My parents had no interest in comedy, so there was no place for me to see someone talk for an hour. But I used to see all these people do four minute sets and think, I reckon I could do that. Even as a kid, I could tell stories very well. I could hold everyone’s attention at a party.

Eddie Murphy’s Delirious was a pivotal moment in my childhood. I watched that when I was ten years old. He was doing routines about him and his brother being in the bathtub and his auntie falling down the stairs. He was talking about me at that stage of my life, and Eddie Murphy was 21 when he recorded it—he didn’t even have that much life experience, so he just talked about his life as a kid. That spoke to me a lot more than any other comedy that would’ve been considered “age-appropriate.”

My first job was delivering papers, and then McDonald’s. I learned from working at McDonald’s while going to school is that you have to work hard. I meet so many actresses and actors in Hollywood that are all waiting for their break—I’m working for mine, and that’s a big difference. There was no faking it for me. If I failed, my parents weren’t going to save me, you know? I think sometimes, “Will my son have the same level of drive that I had?” Probably not. I hope he does. But if I was my son, I couldn’t see why he would. There’s something about being so painfully working class where you’re always thinking you’ve got something to prove.

When I was in college in Perth, it was a city that had fewer than a million people in it—the most isolated city on Earth, a five-hour drive to any other bit of civilization. There was one bar that had a comedy night on a Wednesday, and so there was a waiting list to get up and do it and three people in town that did it somewhat professionally. I did one set, and it went OK, and then I did another set and it went badly.

Eventually I opened up my own night in another part of town above a bar—a little room that only 80 people could jam into. Because I was at college, I roped all my friends to come in for free, and the place was just happy to have 80 people in it on a Tuesday. That’s how I got into stand-up. I was pretty raw and hacky and not very good, but that’s how everyone is to begin with. Then, I got better. I moved to Sydney and quit university to focus full-time on stand-up. Then I had to move as quick as possible to the United Kingdom, because there was nowhere to make any money as an artist in Australia.

There’s this myth that there’s a British sense of humor, an Aussie sense of humor, and an American sense of humor—and it’s all a load of complete and utter rubbish. Funny’s funny, no matter where you go. This whole idea that British people are meant to be more dry and Australian people are meant to be more outlandish is a load of fucking crap. I’ve never had to change up my show for a different country. I just went to Israel, and I didn’t change up the way I perform. It makes no difference. Some comedians go, “Do you call it sidewalk or pavement?” In this day and age, everyone knows. If I say I shagged some bird, you know what I mean by that sentence. If I say I bummed a fag, you know I was talking about a cigarette. I understand that I think a fanny is a vagina, and you think a fanny is an ass. I get it.

Follow Larry Fitzmaurice on Twitter.