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Brexit vote ‘probably a mistake’, says Sir Paul

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Media captionSir Paul McCartney tells BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis he has to “get inspired’ to vote

Sir Paul McCartney has said the Brexit referendum was “probably a mistake” and he will “be glad when it’s over”.

He had not voted in the referendum, he said, as he “didn’t see anybody saying anything sensible enough”.

Sir Paul said the current situation was “a mess” but added: “I think we’ll come through it, we always do.”

The former Beatle was speaking to BBC News as he – with daughters, Stella and Mary – released a book of personal photos, taken by his late wife, Linda.

Reflecting on the 2016 Brexit vote, Sir Paul said the arguments made during the campaign had been “all crazy promises”.

“What put me off was that I was meeting a lot of older people, kind of pretty much my generation.

“And they were going, ‘All right Paul – it’s going to be like it was in the old days, we’re going to go back.’ And it was like, ‘Yeah? Oh, I’m not sure about that.’ And that attitude was very prevalent.

“I vote for someone I believe in and so often there’s nobody I believe in. I have to get a bit inspired. At the moment I’m not really inspired.”

‘Little pieces of art’

Linda McCartney, who died aged 56 in 1998, began her photographic career in New York, shooting rock stars.

The book – Linda McCartney The Polaroid Diaries – compiles more than 200 photographs from her private collection and offers a glimpse into the family’s life in Scotland and southern England.

“For us, they’re just family photos but because it’s Linda, a great photographer, they’re little pieces of art,” Sir Paul said.

Image copyright The Polaroid Diaries, Taschen

“I’d been through a very difficult period at the end of the Beatles. It was like hell.

“But I’d just met this beautiful woman and we were raising a family, so we decided to escape, so we escaped to Scotland and lived a very funky life.”

The Polaroids show pet hamsters, a lamb in the kitchen, bath-times, birthday cakes and the McCartney children playing dress-up.

Mary McCartney said the photos showed a “simple” life, where as a baby she had slept in a bed made by her father from old potato boxes.

Image copyright The Polaroid Diaries, Taschen

“There’s a lot of Mum in these pictures,” said Mary, who, like her mother, is also a photographer.

Stella, a fashion designer, said her mother had captured “quite surreal moments” and talked of the difficulty in releasing such an intimate book.

“I find it quite hard because we’re a very protective family, we lived in the middle of nowhere all together and we didn’t really come out and talk about it,” she said.

“I grew up very much protecting the family unit.”

Image copyright The Polaroid Diaries, Taschen

Stella, who has previously advocated not washing clothes in the interest of the environment, was also asked about her role in the polluting fashion industry.

“I believe that the product I’m making is a far better solution to what is already existing in my industry,” she said.

“I want to try and promote that you can still have a healthy, fashionable luxurious business and you don’t have to kill animals and you don’t have to harm the planet.”

Sir Paul went on to defend the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who have been criticised for their use of a private jet.

“I think it’s unfair. People fly,” he said. “Give the girl a break. They do more good than harm.”

You can watch the full interview on Newsnight on BBC Two at 22:30 on Thursday. Catch up on iPlayer, subscribe to the programme on YouTube and follow it on Twitter.

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Let’s Face It: The 2019 Summer Movie Season Was Dreadful

With summer coming to a close, we can finally say goodbye to what was arguably the most horrendous movie season in the history of summer movie seasons. Good riddance.

Profits dipped and quality plunged. Ticket sales in the United States and Canada are projected to total $4.33 billion, a 2% decline from last year, according to the media analytics firm ComScore. But the fine print is what’s important. Disney monopolized the summer to a vast degree, meaning a disconcerting amount of that revenue belongs to one studio alone. Even sequels that seemed like surefire hits for rival companies — Warner Bros.’ “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” and Sony’s “The Angry Birds Movie 2,” for example — fell short of expectations.

Who can blame audiences for that? “King of the Monsters” was soulless cacophony. Why leave the couch? At the risk of sounding like a grumpy bore, the summer’s lineup had little to offer discerning moviegoers itching for variety, aside from a few gems (“Booksmart,” “The Farewell,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”).

The blockbuster deluge nowadays starts in mid- to late April, which gives us four months’ worth of existential crises rippling through the industry. Here are some upshots.

Disney Had The Quantity. Where Was The Quality?

Summer began with an “Endgame.” After 11 years and 22 installments, Marvel’s core “Avengers” franchise bid a three-hour adieu to Iron Man and the other OG crusaders who turned superheroes into Hollywood’s leading capital. Good luck to anything that hopes to unseat its spot atop the year’s box-office charts, where it became the fastest movie in history to earn $1 billion globally.

More tellingly, “Avengers: Endgame” was a harbinger of Disney’s huge summer payday, as well as a reflection of the studio’s overwhelming cultural sovereignty. No one can compete with the Mouse House, which in March added the 84-year-old 21st Century Fox to a cache that already includes Pixar, Lucasfilm and Marvel.

Disney followed “Endgame” with a live-action “Aladdin,” “Toy Story 4” and a pseudo-live-action “Lion King,” three overwhelming moneymakers that tweaked familiar stories from the ’90s. As a result, Disney can now claim four (including March’s “Captain Marvel”) of the year’s five highest grossers ― an imperialism that threatens to further homogenize Hollywood’s ethos. If Disney has no steadfast competition in the marketplace, what incentive does it have to amplify the creativity of its output? (Sorry, but no matter what you thought of the “Lion King” reboot, “creative” is not a word that applies.) 

This isn’t the only red flag in Disney’s corner. The studio’s leadership axed much of Fox’s development slate after the acquisition went through, which implies that Fox ― home of exemplars like “All About Eve,” “The Sound of Music,” “Alien” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” ― will be molded to resemble its parent company. Meanwhile, the forthcoming streaming service Disney+ announced new editions of “Home Alone,” “Night at the Museum,” “Cheaper by the Dozen” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” It’s old hat to bemoan the industry’s remake mania, but the summer has felt more unrelenting in this department than ever before.

Zazu, Mufasa and Simba in “The Lion King.”

Brad Pitt Lost To ‘The Lion King,’ Again 

Despite being summer’s highest-grossing movie without a franchise affiliation, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” debuted behind “The Lion King,” which held on to the No. 1 ranking in its second weekend. “Hollywood” is currently Quentin Tarantino’s second-highest-grossing feature behind “Django Unchained.” But one of the film’s leads, Brad Pitt, endured a bit of deja vu. For the third time in his career, his movie succumbed to those cats from Pride Rock.

In 1994, several months after the original “Lion King” had opened, “Interview with the Vampire” fell behind the Disney musical its sixth weekend in theaters. In 2011, “Moneyball” debuted to less revenue than a 3-D conversion of the ’94 smash. And now, this. Pitt still just can’t wait to be king.

Comedy Feels Like A Dying Art

Summer was once a laugh factory. From the ’80s through the 2000s, live-action comedies were as much a seasonal staple as action spectaculars and family fare. Almost every year, multiple comedies landed among summer’s 10 highest grossers. The sun didn’t shine without a major Eddie Murphy, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, Whoopi Goldberg, Will Smith or Julia Roberts vehicle there to attract its rays. But as intellectual property has replaced movie stars as Hollywood’s box-office kingmakers, comedies built around A-list personalities have grown scarcer. This year, there was nary a “Trading Places,” “Back to the Future,” “Sister Act” or “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” to be found.

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is the closest we got to a hit comedy, but the cult of Tarantino occupies a rarified space that transcends genre classifications. Discounting it, “Yesterday,” “Good Boys,” “The Hustle,” “Long Shot,” “Booksmart,” “Stuber,” “Late Night,” “Poms” and “The Dead Don’t Die” all opened to middling sums, with most underperforming by significant margins. Even the most acclaimed of the bunch, “Booksmart,” which should have been every bit as fruitful as the similarly themed 2007 summer knockout “Superbad,” could only muster a depressing $22.7 million.

Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever in “Booksmart.”

The Reevesurgence Is Upon Us 

Let’s pause for some good news. Here’s to everyone who adores Keanu Reeves’ glower. 

In May, the third entry in the “John Wick” series defeated the odds, halting the three-week sweep that “Avengers: Endgame” enjoyed. “Wick” marks a rare series to maintain megasuccess without coasting on established source material. (The other example: “The Fast and the Furious,” which was recently spun off via the lucrative “Hobbs and Shaw.”) Later that month, adopting the ultimate movie-star power move, Reeves played a heightened version of himself ― aggressive, mysterious, bizarre ― in the Netflix rom-com “Always Be My Maybe.” Come June, he voiced a daredevil action figure in “Toy Story 4.” And in August, “The Matrix 4” was announced, ensuring the Reevesurgence has legs.

This quasi-comeback ― Reeves never went anywhere, after all ― is a refreshing example of a hardworking actor finally getting his due, and a testament to the alchemy of classic screen-star mojo.

So Many Great Actresses Wasted By Terrible Scripts

One of summer’s least lucrative horror stories: Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Tessa Thompson, Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elisabeth Moss, Cate Blanchett and Diane Keaton were lost to bad movies. Not routine disappointments, but flat-out misdemeanors. 

I have a soft spot for “Ma,” which gave the 47-year-old Spencer her first lead role and is almost bonkers enough to overcome its own shoddiness, but “The Hustle” (starring Hathaway and Rebel Wilson), “Men in Black: International” (starring Thompson), “The Kitchen” (starring McCarthy, Haddish and Moss), “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” (starring Blanchett and based on a difficult-to-adapt bestseller) and “Poms” (starring Keaton and other top-notch septuagenarians) barely merited green lights. Over at Netflix, “Wine Country” (starring Amy Poehler and friends) and “Otherhood” (starring Angela Bassett, Patricia Arquette and a scandal-ridden Felicity Huffman) arrived with little fanfare and baffling banality.

If these films looked good on paper, you wouldn’t know it from the finished products. Each required its respective star(s) to infuse life into dead weight. Character-driven movies like these serve as alternatives to the more costly provisions that monopolize summer. But when none deliver, it’s harder to guarantee a diversified slate in the future.

Elisabeth Moss, Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish in “The Kitchen.”

Sundance Fare Didn’t Fare Well

Every January, distribution companies snatch up a smattering of movies at the Sundance Film Festival, some of which become blockbuster counterprogramming. Those that hit theaters in recent months were alarmingly DOA.

Amazon spent huge sums on “Late Night” ($13 million) and “Brittany Runs a Marathon” ($14 million), while Warner Bros. shelled out an eye-popping $15 million for the Bruce Springsteen singalong “Blinded by the Light.” It’s easy to see the appeal of these acquisitions: Each is an ostensible crowd-pleaser that would have obvious commercial clout in a less homogenous marketplace. But the disparity between Sundance’s indie sensibilities and America’s current moviegoing habits has never been greater. Amazon barely recouped its expenses on the poorly marketed “Late Night,” but at least the retail behemoth will benefit from exclusive streaming rights. Warner Bros., on the other hand, has to more or less cut its losses on “Blinded by the Light,” which bowed to a paltry $4.3 million in wide release. (“Brittany Runs a Marathon” just opened last weekend, so time will tell how far it can sprint.)

Meanwhile, “The Tomorrow Man,” “Ophelia” and “Luce” didn’t even crack $1 million in earnings. “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” scraped together $4.5 million ― a decent tally for an idiosyncratic gentrification drama without name-value stars, but nothing earth-shattering.

“The Farewell” was the only Sundance success story, and even it doesn’t look very flashy on paper. Featuring last summer’s breakout star Awkwafina, the family dramedy has amassed $14.7 million after more than a month in theaters. Trendy distributor A24 spent about $6 million on the movie’s rights, so without knowing how much subsequent marketing costs set the company back, that’s a profitable turnaround and a good omen for second-time director Lulu Wang, who in July booked a sci-fi feature for her next project.

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Marlon Brando Confronted Michael Jackson About Child Abuse Allegations

The public’s fascination with Michael Jackson continues.

On what would have been his 61st birthday, it’s being reported that the King of Pop was once confronted by his friend Marlon Brando over the child abuse allegations against him — and Jackson broke down in tears.

The podcast Telephone Stories: The Trials of Michael Jackson touts in a press release that it obtained the sworn account Brando gave to Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys on March 14, 1994.

That interview — which was recorded and transcribed — will be featured in its season finale on Sunday.

In it, Brando reportedly told authorities, “I think it’s pretty reasonable to conclude that [Jackson] may have had something to do with kids.”

The reclusive Oscar winner — a close friend and visitor to Neverland Ranch —had been contacted by the D.A.’s office and spoke with district attorneys Bill Hodgman, of O.J. Simpson trial fame, and Lauren Weis about “an unusual conversation he had with Jackson and his suspicions concerning the King of Pop’s behavior around young boys,” according to the press release.

He also relayed “impressions and concerns” he had discussed with his son, Miko C.Brando, who worked as a security guard for Jackson.

Brando detailed a “tear-filled conversation” he had with Jackson at NeverlandRanch, the release states. It reportedly took place after Brando confronted Jackson during a private dinner and acting lesson and it “culminated in a revealing exchange between the two men.”

Weis, now a judge, confirmed the interview with Brando about Jackson to the Los Angeles Times.

According to Brando’s documented account, Jackson broke down in tears during the talk and admitted he hated his father, Joe Jackson.

The conversation then turned to homosexuality and the children he was accused of sexually abusing, as Jackson had first been investigated for child molestation in 1993.

Brando reportedly said that Jackson ended up crying so hard that the superstar had to comfort him.

That’s when Brando told prosecutors, “With this mode of behavior that’s been going on, I think it’s pretty reasonable to conclude that he may have had something to do with kids.”

That said, Brando noted that Jackson never came out and said he was gay or admitted to sexual relations with the boys.

Instead, he kept crying and was so shaken by the conversation that Brando thought he was telling him something.

“My impression, was that he didn’t want to answer because he was frightened to answer me,” Brando said.

Brando also reportedly told the D.A. that the childlike Jackson never cursed and didn’t like when people used the F word. He was especially uncomfortable when being asked about his sex life.

“I had asked him if he was a virgin and he sort of laughed and giggled, and he called me Brando,” the actor told prosecutors. “He said, ‘Oh, Brando.’ I said, ‘Well, what do you do for sex?’ And he was acting fussy and embarrassed.”

Brando also asked, “Well, who are your friends?’ He said, ‘I don’t know anybody my own age. I don’t like anybody my own age.’ I said, ‘Why not?’ He said, ‘I don’t know, I don’t know.’ He was crying hard enough that … I tried to assuage him. I tried to help him all I could.”

This is the first time the conversation between Brando and Jackson has bee nmade public because it was never used as evidence in Jackson’s 2005 trial —which resulted in the pop star’s acquittal.

Brando died in 2004 followed byJackson in 2009.After Brando’s death, his son Miko told the L.A. Times his dad counted the pop star among his closest friends in his final years.

“The last time my father left his house to go anywhere, to spend any kind of time, it was with Michael Jackson. He loved it,” Miko said. “[He] had a 24-hour chef, 24-hour security, 24-hour help, 24-hour kitchen, 24-hour maid service. Just carte blanche.”

Miko said that the men met through “Quincy Jones back in the 1980s.”

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Fashion steps up its catering for vegans

Image copyright Doctor Martens
Image caption Dr Martens’ vegan boots represent 4% of all pairs sold

Remember when synthetic leather was the fall-back option, if you couldn’t afford the real thing?

Not any more.

It has just become a selling point: clothes and accessories marketed as free from cow skin and any other animal products, are being launched by retailers up and down the High Street, including Marks & Spencer, Zara and New Look.

There are fur coats, that are “vegan”, jute and plastic “vegan” belts, and shoes made from tree bark, natural rubber and coconut fibre, labelled “vegan”.

While an increasing number of Brits are trying to eat less meat, market researchers Mintel found in their latest fashion and sustainability report that the trend is now spreading from kitchen to closet. It found animal welfare came top of a list of issues that people said they considered before buying clothes, with 42% saying it was important to them.

Mintel predicted 2019 would see a boom in animal-free shoe collections with shoppers of all ages saying they would buy footwear labelled “vegan”.

“It seems to be a bit of a buzz word,” says Patsy Perry, senior lecturer in fashion marketing at the University of Manchester.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Designer Stella McCartney is seen as a pioneer of animal-friendly fashion

As well as being on trend – and with a much better ring to it than “synthetic leather” – the “vegan” label does convey an important extra distinction, Ms Perry points out.

“If you are labelling it as vegan, the whole product needs to be vegan,” she says. That means checking things like the glue that holds the shoe together for example and the chemicals used for finishing them.

At the top end, designers like Stella McCartney – described by Ms Perry as the original pioneer in this area – have shunned leather and fur for some time. Her fashion house is now exploring a leather substitute made from fungi, and looking at replacing silk with yeast proteins.

But it is at the more accessible end of the market where the trend is really taking off, with some big brands already converting demand for vegan fashion into sales.

Dr Martens – purveyors of high-top leather boots – has experienced a 300% rise in sales of the vegan version of its stompers over the past year.

Launched right back in 2011, the vegan DMs are made from a combination of polyester fabric and polyurethane. After last year’s rapid growth, vegan boots represented 4% of all pairs sold.

The Vegan Society says they’ve seen a boom in products registered with the vegan trademark: in 2018 there were 119. So far this year it says 1,956 have been registered.

“New products are being added daily, and many new brands are currently in the process of submitting products for review – including some very well-known High Street brands,” says the Vegan society’s Dominika Piasecka.

These new products aren’t for the most part, though, coming at an extra to cost to consumers.

Vegan Doc Martens cost the same as the leather originals. New Look, one of the first High Street chains to use the vegan trademark prices ballet “flats” at £7.99 and a vegan laptop handbag at £29.99, comparable with its other products.

This marks a change, points out retail analyst Kate Hardcastle. In the past ethical products, whether that was fair trade or organic came at a premium.

On the other hand, once upon a time that “leather-look” handbag would have cost half the price of the real thing. So should these products cost less?

Charging similar prices to general ranges is justifiable, argues Ms Hardcastle, since the cost of materials is a small part of the overall cost and the cost of production isn’t likely to be significantly lower for vegan products.

She does strike a note of caution though, over just how ethical these new ranges are overall.

The debate over durability, production techniques, crop-growing impacts, pollution, biodegradability and recyclability is a complicated one, not to mention the ethics around the working conditions for people making the products, whatever the component materials.

Environmental campaigners are adamant that the best approach to is to buy less, never mind what the item is made of.

Some companies are “dressing up” items using the vegan tag, warns Ms Hardcastle, to make products appear “far more environmentally [and] ethically friendly than the product actually is”.

Consumers should not be “lulled into a false sense of security” that just because something isn’t an animal hide it is suddenly therefore environmentally friendly, she warns. “That isn’t the case.”

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Man shakes friend’s baby, leaving her blind

Image copyright Dyfed Powys Police
Image caption Stephen Carl Smith shook his friend’s five-month-old daughter as he was babysitting, the court heard

A man who shook his friend’s five-month-old daughter so hard she suffered permanent brain damage and is virtually blind, has been jailed for 10 years.

Stephen Carl Smith had agreed to babysit while Luke Taylor and his partner Sophie Reed went night fishing, Swansea Crown Court heard.

Smith, 28, of Haverfordwest, had denied causing grievous bodily harm with intent but a jury found him guilty.

Judge Peter Heywood said Smith had lost his temper with the baby, Bayleigh-Lee.

The couple had returned home from Milford Haven pier, Pembrokeshire, after Smith sent Mr Taylor a text message saying his daughter was having difficulties breathing, the court heard.

When they arrived, Bayleigh-Lee was sitting in a chair and appeared to be asleep.

‘Piercing scream’

But the court heard that while Miss Reed was in the kitchen, the baby let out “a piercing scream” and when she picked her up found her limp and lifeless.

Doctors found there had been bleeding to the brain.

Bayleigh-Lee suffered “catastrophic and life-changing” injuries in the incident on 18 August 2016, the jury was told.

Smith, of Hywel Road, claimed Bayleigh-Lee had suddenly fallen ill. He had maintained he was innocent and refused to apologise.

The jury heard the two men had been friends and Smith would sometimes help Mr Taylor, a self-employed delivery driver.

“She will need medical care for the rest of her life. Something went disastrously wrong that evening,” said Judge Heywood, sentencing Smith.

John Hipkin, counsel for Smith, said all he could offer on his client’s behalf was that he had not offended in a similar way before.

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High Street shops sold knives to children

Image copyright Getty Images

High Street retailers have illegally sold knives to children during test purchases conducted by National Trading Standards, the organisation says.

Tesco, Asda, Poundland and Home Bargains sold blades to under-18s at least 15 times each during tests between April 2018 and March 2019.

Tesco and Asda have since updated their checks and further restricted sales.

Poundland said it stopped selling kitchen knives last year, while Home Bargains has not yet commented.

Trading Standards sent in “mystery shoppers” under the age of 18 to carry out the test purchases.

Shop staff failed to prevent the sale of a knife to a child 344 times, equal to 15% of the 2,231 tests carried out by Trading Standards at national chain and independent shops.

It is illegal to sell knives to those under 18, unless it has a folding blade 3 inches long (7.62 cm) or less.

There were 285 killings by a knife or sharp instrument in the 12 months ending March 2018, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysis.

One in four (71) of all victims (285) were men aged 18-24, ONS said.

Lord Toby Harris, chairman of National Trading Standards, said: “Restricting the sale of knives to children is clearly a difficult issue for retailers, especially those with large numbers of outlets, staff and delivery partners.

“I am aware that many retailers are working incredibly hard to train staff and introduce robust procedures to stem the flow of knives to children.

“But let’s be clear – it’s illegal to sell a knife to a child. Our tests show that it’s still too easy for a child to buy a knife.”

Separately, 100 online test purchases were carried out; children were sold a knife on 41 occasions.

Under the new Offensive Weapons Act, retailers will be stopped from delivering knives to residential addresses, in a bid to curb under-18s circumventing age restrictions.

The act, which received Royal Assent in May, is currently under public consultation before the new laws come into force.

Some online retailers already refuse to deliver knives without the courier checking the person’s ID.

An Asda spokesman said: “In April 2019, we became the first retailer to remove all single knives from sale across our stores to help ensure that they do not fall into the wrong hands.

“Whilst we are clearly disappointed with the results from a small number of cases between April 2018 and March 2019, we would like to reassure customers that we have since provided updated training for colleagues.”

The spokesman added the supermarket has “clear Challenge 25 policies”, which require staff to check a customer’s proof of age to ensure they are over 18, when buying a restricted item.

Tesco UK and Ireland chief executive Jason Tarry said: “Tesco takes the safety of our colleagues, customers, and the communities we serve very seriously.

“We have made significant changes to our approach to displaying and selling knives, without taking choice away from customers, including a new two-stage age verification process and removing knives from display on the shop floor.”

A spokesman for Poundland said: “As this body [Trading Standards] is aware, we’re baffled by their numbers.

“They know we stopped selling kitchen knives completely in all our 850 stores last year.”

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This Was Elizabeth Warrens Plan All Along

When Elizabeth Warren came to Washington — not the first time, as a bankruptcy expert, or the second time, to oversee the bank bailout during the Great Recession — but the third time, when she was elected to the United States Senate, she wanted to solve a growing problem: student debt.

During her campaign, against Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Warren had talked a lot about student loan debt and making college more affordable. She had run television ads about it, saying young people were “left drowning in debt to get an education.” So, as her Senate office began to staff up, the boss wanted to roll out a policy proposal to bring down the cost of student loans. Her staff did what they always did when working for Warren: They looked for the best existing plans and the best data to show her the root causes of the problem. What they found was lacking.  

There were plenty of policy experts on K-12 education, but relatively few were focused on higher education, and even fewer were focused on student loans. The number of ideas floating around to fix the problem was minuscule.

Policy development in Washington normally runs through think tanks. Think tanks need to raise money for policy programs. But since there was no money devoted to developing a policy to relieve student loan debt, there were relatively few experts in Washington on the issue at the time. So Warren hired a top academic expert to develop student loan debt relief policy on her staff.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) steady rollout of policy plans resurrected her 2020 Democratic presidential campaign.

In the seven years since, Warren has become the most active politician in America when it comes to investigating, transforming and eliminating student debt. As the problem has grown, her proposed solutions grew. She started by fighting to lower interest rates and pushing the Obama administration to investigate for-profit colleges with high default rates, and she slowly reached the point where it was time to push for the near-total elimination of student debt.

This is how Warren has pushed the boundaries of progressive policy since coming to Washington. Instead of relying on the traditional D.C. think tank world, she made her office into her very own think tank. This vast, over-qualified policy team then consulted with a kitchen cabinet of legal academics, economists and other scholars outside the Beltway. Her goal all along has been to craft and sell policies to help solve one overarching problem: inequality in American society.

“It looks like we’re trying to solve a lot of different problems, but we’re only trying to solve one problem,” said Jon Donenberg, who is now the policy director for Warren’s presidential campaign. “It’s the rigged system; it’s the corrupt government and economy that only benefits those at the top. Every solution flows from that.” 

Now Warren’s policy-first politics is the unlikely fuel for her bid for the White House. Her steady release of detailed yet easy-to-digest policy papers became a meme and rescued her campaign after a rough first few months. Though the campaigns of other candidates originally dismissed her focus on policy as a way to appeal to an irrelevant niche, many now grumble that her policy rollouts get far more media attention than those of other presidential candidates. She now sits among the top tier of contenders in the polls and fundraising — all while eschewing big-money fundraisers. 

It’s no surprise that her focus on policy has catapulted Warren back into serious contention. Digging into policy solutions for overlooked problems and explaining it in digestible soundbites is what she has done since the publication of her first book, “As We Forgive Our Debtors,” an empirical study of bankruptcy that completely changed how academics viewed the issue. 

“This is what she’s been doing her whole life,” said Georgetown Law School professor Adam Levitin, a former Warren student at Harvard Law School.

How She Built That

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) with her former counsel Ganesh Sitaraman in 2013. He’s now a professor at Vanderbilt Law School and an outside policy adviser.

Other presidential candidates have highlighted their policy advisers. Franklin Roosevelt had his Brain Trust. Richard Nixon appointed the first Cabinet-level policymaking body. Ronald Reagan had the Heritage Foundation. And Bill Clinton had “The Conversation.”

But Warren’s approach is unique. If elected president, she won’t be testing out a new policy process in office. She’ll bring one that’s been tried and tested in her offices for nearly a decade.

She’s been doing it since even before her Senate run. A decade ago, she ran the Congressional Oversight Panel overseeing the 2008 bank bailout. It was a temporary post on a hot-button issue likely to anger powerful figures in both political parties. That made it hard to attract staff from the typical pool of Washington applicants. But Warren attracted policy experts to work with her. She connected them to her world of policy-oriented legal academics.

“That’s kind of where you can start to see her build a policy shop,” said Levitin, who also worked for Warren on the oversight panel. “And then she was able to build on that model when she went into the Senate.”

Warren’s Senate office was built entirely around policy, with the largest such team in Congress. She hired an investigations team to research issues she was considering pushing or to continue to build the case for legislation she had introduced. The team, whose members had sterling academic credentials — one of the office’s first health care staffers had a doctorate in pharmacology — consulted with academics that Warren read and talked to to help guide her policy thinking.

“They were just a conduit for people who had 50-year careers working in whatever the field was and had literally written the textbook on it,” said Graham Steele, a former staffer to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) who’s now working on a team at Stanford School of Business that Warren consults with for policy advice.

Other Senate offices would consult with her staff on policy development because they knew it was the best team around, according to Steele. Or sometimes her office would hear from Warren’s kitchen cabinet of academics about a particular bill.

She is really ― and I want to contrast this with every other member of Congress I’ve worked with — she gets it, she gets down and dirty in the weeds like nobody else. Georgetown Law School professor Adam Levitin

“There’d be a D.C. consensus, and then her office would come to you and say, ‘Hey, we’ve heard some concerns about this particular bill, and I’d love to put you on the phone with this person who’s like the foremost expert on whatever this issue is,’” Steele said.

Warren doesn’t totally eschew the D.C. think tanks — many of her ideas come from the Roosevelt Institute, which is largely a traditional Washington think tank except for the fact that it’s based in New York. There’s also the Great Democracy Initiative, where her former policy staffer Julie Morgan – the student loan expert armed with a Ph.D. and law degree Warren hired back in 2012 ― and her former counsel Ganesh Sitaraman craft policies in the Warren mold. And she’s open to ideas from places like the Center for American Progress, where Sitaraman is a fellow, and Demos, where her daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi, was previously the chair of the board of trustees. But it’s relatively rare for her staff to think the ideas emerging from think-tank land are the best ones out there.

The goal of think tanks is to prove their worth to donors by having politicians adopt their ideas. That means they mostly assemble and pitch ideas politicians are likely to adopt, and it can be hard for them to push the type of ideas that have been banished from polite conversation in Washington, even if that’s where the data leads them.

“It’s actually not very think tank,” Levitin said of Warren’s policy process. “It’s actually remarkably non-think tank-y. I think that that can be kind of refreshing”

The academics Warren consults are all focused on empirical policy research, the kind that Warren pursued in her academic career. They include MIT’s Simon Johnson, Stanford’s Anat Admati, Cornell’s Robert Hockett and Saule Omarova, the University of Georgia’s Mehrsa Baradaran, Ohio State University’s Darrick Hamilton and Georgetown Law School’s Levitin. She also has former staffers she consults, including Sitaraman, now a professor at Vanderbilt Law School.

Baradaran first came into contact with Warren’s team in 2013 as they looked at writing legislation to allow the U.S. Postal Service to operate as a public bank. They had read Baradaran’s research on how banking practices and laws had increased the racial wealth gap and sought her out. Today, Baradaran continues to offer advice for Warren’s policy team on how to close the racial wealth gap as it relates to Warren’s banking, housing and child care plans.

‘They Read.’

Warren with fellow candidates Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), left, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas) at the first Democratic Party presidential primary debate.

What really sold Baradaran on Warren and her policy team was something very simple.

“They read,” she said. “That’s something that can’t be overemphasized enough because it really contrasts starkly to me with the rest of the members of Congress all over the spectrum. People just don’t engage with or read, not only just not academic work, but other work in general.”

Take special counsel Robert Mueller’s “Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election,” which lawmakers have said they didn’t read because “It’s tedious,” “It is what it is,” and “What’s the point?” Warren read it. She came to the conclusion that President Donald Trump obstructed justice and followed the clear message of the report: that only Congress can do something about a president breaking the law. She called for the House to launch an impeachment inquiry.

She also read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ 2014 article for The Atlantic, “The Case for Reparations,” and reached out to the author to discuss it. “She had read it, she was deeply serious, and she had questions, and it wasn’t like, ‘Would you do XYZ for me?’” Coates told The New Yorker in June. Warren is the only 2020 candidate to talk to him about the issue, he added — and he thinks she’s the only candidate who is really serious about it.

Warren’s plan to levy a 2% tax on fortunes above $50 million stems from reading the work of University of California, Berkeley, economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman. Their research found that the current wealth inequality in the U.S. is the result of the growth of wealth among the top 0.1% of households caused by policy choices in Washington. Warren’s team reached out to Saez and Zucman in January to help craft her wealth tax. The two economists also worked on her corporate tax proposal and her plan to reduce overseas tax avoidance by the wealthy.

“She is really ― and I want to contrast this with every other member of Congress I’ve worked with — she gets it, she gets down and dirty in the weeds like nobody else,” Levitin said.

Sometimes Warren gets her policy from her own reading, but other times it bubbles up from her staff’s research. She makes sure to direct them toward answering the questions she always asked herself in her academic career.

“The two questions Elizabeth asks the most often is: ‘What’s driving the problem?’ and ‘What does the data say?’” Donenberg said. “If you don’t have answers to those two questions, it’s time for you to go.”

When all the research is complete and the policies appear done, Warren has one final task. It must be possible to explain every policy that comes out of her office in practical language to anyone.

She asks staffers to consider, “How can I tell the story about this that people will understand?” according to Levitin.

When she ran the Congressional Oversight Panel, every 100-page report her office put out first went to her desk, where she would write a one-page plain-language explanation for the press and the public.

“Her unusual strength is being able to translate really complex problems into a way that an ordinary person can understand them,” Levitin said.

She rocketed to political stardom by deftly explaining why the 2008 financial crisis happened in appearances on “The Daily Show.” And she’s using her policy plans not only to show what she’ll do as president to shrink the yawning inequality gap in the country but also to reveal her character and seriousness to voters.

“Issues are merely a vehicle to portray your intellectual capacity to the voters … a vehicle by which the voters will determine your honesty and candor,” then-Sen. Joe Biden, who’s now one of Warren’s major rivals in the Democratic presidential primary, said in his first major interview in 1974.

Warren is counting on it.

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‘Gimp suit’ man terrorises woman in village

Image copyright Handout
Image caption The victim took this picture as the “gimp man” came towards her

A woman says she is scared to go out after enduring a “terrifying” encounter with a man wearing a gimp suit in a dark village lane.

She was walking in Claverham, Somerset, when she saw “someone charging at me in a full black rubbery suit”.

The man advanced towards her “grunting and breathing heavily” before fleeing the scene, she said.

Police said there had been a small number of reports of a man jumping out at people in the area.

Officers were called to the scene at about 23:30 BST on Thursday and used a helicopter and sniffer dog in an unsuccessful search for the man.

The victim, in her 20s, said the experience had “hugely affected” her, and she had chosen to speak to the BBC as she was concerned it may happen again.

“I would never forgive myself if this happened to someone else and I hadn’t said anything,” she said.

‘Going to get attacked’

Describing the events that happened on her evening walk, she said: “I was walking along with my torch and looked up to see someone charging at me in a full black rubbery suit and managed to take a picture.

“He kept coming towards me and was touching his groin, grunting and breathing heavy.

“As I tried to take a step back he was right in front of my face and he put his leg forward. I was just trying to assess the situation in my head quickly.”

“Everything was running through my head. I thought: ‘This is it, I’m going to get attacked’.

“I was looking round thinking, oh my god.”

The woman, who did not wish to be named, remembers pushing and screaming at the man, before he started running backwards to the main road.

Image copyright Handout
Image caption “I was screaming and shouting and no-one came to help”

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesperson said: “We’re aware of concerns relating to a man acting suspiciously in the Claverham/Yatton area.

“While we’re keeping an open mind about the motive for these incidents, it’s clear the individual responsible is deliberately attempting to cause alarm to the men and women he’s approaching.

“While no-one has been hurt during the incidents, we fully appreciate the distress these actions have caused victims.”

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Patrols in the area were being increased to reassure the public and identify the man responsible, the spokesperson added.

The victim has been left feeling “panicked… that there’s someone watching… and I don’t want to go out.

“It’s not just a man jumping out at me going boo,” she said.

“Every time I close my eyes I just see that face.”

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If a woman forces a man to have sex, is that rape?

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When a man has penetrative sex with a woman without her consent, that’s rape. But what if a woman makes a man have penetrative sex with her, without his consent? That’s not rape under the law of England and Wales, but the author of a new study of the phenomenon says perhaps it should be.

Some readers will find this story disturbing

Dr Siobhan Weare of Lancaster University Law School carried out the first research into forced penetration in the UK in 2016-7, gathering information from more than 200 men via an online survey.

Her latest study, published this week – based on one-to-one interviews with 30 men between May 2018 and July 2019 – explores in greater detail the context in which forced penetration occurs, its consequences, and the response of the criminal justice system.

All the participants were anonymised, but I will call one of them John.

John says the first sign that something was wrong was when his partner started to self-harm. After a particularly frightening incident he rushed her to A&E for treatment. The couple spent hours discussing possible psychological causes.

About six months later instead of harming herself, she trained her sights on John.

“I was sitting in the living room and she just came in from the kitchen, punched me very hard on the nose and ran off giggling,” John says. “The violence then started happening quite regularly.”

She tried to get help from her GP, John says. She had some counselling, and she was referred to a psychologist – though didn’t attend the appointment.

She’d come home from her job “and basically demand sex”, he says.

“She would be violent, and it got to the stage that I dreaded her coming back from work.”

On one occasion John woke up to find that his partner had handcuffed his right arm to the metal bed frame. Then she started hitting him on the head with a loudspeaker from the stereo system beside the bed, tied up his other arm with some nylon rope and tried to force him to have sex.

Scared and in pain, John was unable to comply with her demands – so she beat him again and left him chained up for half an hour, before returning and freeing him. Afterwards she refused to talk about what had happened.

Not long after that she became pregnant, and the violence abated. But a few months after the baby was born, John again woke one night to discover that he was being handcuffed to the bed.

Then, he says, his partner force-fed him Viagra and gagged him.

“There was nothing I could do about it,” he says.

“Later I went and sat in the shower for I dunno how long… I eventually went downstairs. The first thing she said to me when I went into the room was, ‘What’s for dinner?'”

When John has tried to tell people about it, he says he has often met with disbelief.

“I’ve been asked why I didn’t leave the house. Well, it was my house that I’d bought for my kids. And the financial side as well, I was so locked into the relationship financially,” he says.

“I still get disbelief because it’s like, ‘Well why didn’t you hit her back?’ I get that quite a lot. Well that’s a lot easier said than done.

“I wish I’d run away a lot sooner.”

Find out more

Listen to Katie Silver and Alex Skeel discuss Siobhan Weare’s research into forced penetration on the BBC Sounds podcast, The Next Episode

Aspects of John’s story are repeated in the experiences of some of the other men Dr Weare has interviewed. One of her findings is that the perpetrator in “forced-to-penetrate” (FTP) cases is often a female partner or ex-partner (her research focuses only on forced penetration involving men and women), and that the experience is frequently one element in a wider pattern of domestic abuse.

The experience of disbelief is also mentioned by other interviewees.

“You must have enjoyed it or you’d have reported it sooner,” one man says he was told by a police officer.

Another participant said: “We’re scared to talk about it and embarrassed, and when we do talk about it, we’re not believed, because we’re men. How can a man possibly be abused? Look at him, he’s a man.”

Weare’s other findings include:

  • Men are often ashamed to report FTP experiences – they may report domestic abuse without mentioning the sexual abuse
  • The mental health impact can be severe, including PTSD, thoughts of suicide and sexual dysfunction
  • Some men report being repeatedly victimised – some experienced childhood sexual abuse, some had endured varying types of sexual violence from different perpetrators, including men
  • Many had overwhelmingly negative perceptions of the police, criminal justice system, and the law

One myth Weare’s research dispels is that forced penetration is impossible because men are physically stronger than women. Another is that men view all sexual opportunities with women as positive.

A third myth is that if men have an erection they must want sex. In fact, Weare says, “an erection is purely a physiological response to stimulus”.

“Men can obtain and sustain an erection even if they’re scared, angry, terrified etc,” she says.

“There’s also research that shows women can respond sexually when they are raped (e.g. have an orgasm) because their body is responding physiologically. This is an issue for both male and female victims that is not discussed enough, but there is clear evidence in this area.”

A number of the participants in Weare’s 2017 study reported FTP experiences after getting extremely drunk or high, and being unable to stop what was happening.

One of those interviewed for the new study describes going home with a woman after a night out clubbing, and blacking out after being given what he suspects was a date rape drug. He says he was then forced to engage in non-consensual sex.

Where to get help

Safeline – male survivors’ telephone helpline

Male Survivors Partnership directory of services

Another describes being coerced into sex while working at a holiday camp one summer, while he was a student. A female co-worker had discovered a letter he had written to a boyfriend, and threatened to out him as gay unless he slept with her.

She thought that if he had sex with a woman “this would transform my life and I would be straight”, he says. As he had not come out to his friends, family or co-workers he felt that he had no choice but to comply.

Weare says that most of the participants in the latest study regarded their forced-to-penetrate experiences as “rape”, and some were frustrated that it would not count as rape under the law of England and Wales. There was frustration also that British society would most likely not recognise it as rape.

“Talking about the fact that your ex-partner used to get drunk and force herself on you, rape you essentially, it’s like most blokes’ fantasy isn’t it?” said one of the participants.

“Down the pub, you know, she gets a bit drunk, she gets a bit frisky ‘Yay! Oh that would be fantastic! I would love a bit of that!’ No you really wouldn’t, you bloody wouldn’t. It’s not the way that you think it is.”

In one of Weare’s papers – titled “Oh, you’re a guy, how could you be raped by a woman, that makes no sense” – she points out that in several US states rape is broadly defined as non-consensual sexual intercourse, and that in the Australian state of Victoria a specific offence exists of “rape by compelling penetration”.

One of eight recommendations made in the latest study is that reform of the law of rape to include FTP cases requires “serious consideration”.

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When Hannah Price was sexually assaulted as a student, she felt unable to report it. She has since discovered she is far from alone – and that sexual assault may be far more common on campus than official figures suggest.

‘I was raped as a student – and I’m not the only one’

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Sadie Roberts-Joseph, Founder Of African American Museum, Found Dead In Car Trunk

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A 75-year-old Louisiana woman who founded an African American history museum was discovered dead in the trunk of a car, and police said Saturday that investigators were working diligently to find those responsible.

Baton Rouge police Sgt. L’Jean McKneely said investigators were still waiting for a coroner to determine a cause of death for Sadie Roberts-Joseph after her body was found Friday afternoon.

The Advocate reported Roberts-Joseph was the founder and curator of the Baton Rouge African American Museum, which she started in 2001. The museum sits on the campus of New St. Luke Baptist Church, where Roberts-Joseph’s brother is pastor.

Sadie Roberts-Joseph (right), talks with Gov. Kathleen Blanco (left) before the start of the Stand Up for Children 2004 Rally for Children on the steps of the State Capitol in Baton Rouge.

“Ms. Sadie was a tireless advocate of peace,” the Baton Rouge Police Department posted on its Facebook page, adding: “Our detectives are working diligently to bring the person or persons responsible for this heinous act to justice.”

Roberts-Joseph also organized an annual Juneteenth festival at the museum, marking the date June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers delivered belated news to Texas that President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring all Southern slaves free. The document had been finalized more than two years earlier.

The museum features African art, exhibits on growing cotton and black inventors as well as a 1953 bus from the period of civil rights boycotts in Baton Rouge. It also has prominent exhibits on President Barack Obama, whose presidency Roberts-Joseph cited as an inspiration to children.

“We have to be educated about our history and other people’s history,” Roberts-Joseph told the newspaper in 2016. “Across racial lines, the community can help to build a better Baton Rouge, a better state and a better nation.”

Beatrice Johnson, one of Roberts-Joseph’s 11 siblings, lives two doors down from her sister’s home on a quiet street in Baton Rouge. She said Roberts-Joseph would come by every day. Johnson said her sister came over Friday because “she had mixed some cornbread, but her oven went out, and she brought it here to put in the oven.”

Gesturing toward her kitchen, Johnson said: “The bread is still there. She never came back to get it.”

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DNA shows remains found at Virginia trash incinerator are those of missing toddler

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I Decided To Work And My Husband Became A Stay-At-Home Dad And It’s Awesome

I always thought I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom (even my kindergarten projects show “mommy” as my dream job), but as I entered adulthood, I found myself wanting the exact opposite.

On May 22, 2010, I walked down the aisle and said “I do” to the man of my dreams. We met in 2008 in a meet cute in Austria and ― to be cliché ― we just knew we were each other’s person.

Friends and family thought we were too young or not ready, but I’ve never been one to let someone else’s opinions dictate my life. And this was definitely not the first time (or last time) someone would disagree with my brazen take on femininity. Feminism doesn’t mean that I have to do what’s trendy; feminism means I have the choice to live my life as I see fit.

Getting married while I was finishing up my last year of college didn’t come without hard work. I worked at a day care, taught English classes and took grad school classes, while my husband worked long hours at a lumberyard.

After two years of this routine, we decided it was time for the next step, and I found myself due with our first child around our second wedding anniversary. Despite my dreams of living the stay-at-home-mom life, fear made me doubt myself. Could it really work? Would I be a good enough mom? Regardless of my fears, when I was 24, I finally earned my stay-at-home-mom badge.

Six years, two wild boys, one puppy and one more pregnancy later, I was rockin’ the stay-at-home-mom life. I home-schooled, I baked, I made forts, and I read story after story. Yet there was one more piece of me that was missing: my writing. Once everyone was asleep, I’d sneak out to the living room where I’d write. Writing has always been a passion of mine, but it’s something that helped me find “me” again after having kids. I wrote anything for anyone, and the first time someone paid me to write, I think I did a happy dance. Never mind that I wrote for a business-to-business company discussing the perks of outsourcing call centers. I was a legitimate writer! 

As the years passed, I wrote thousands and tens of thousands of words until I had a very good problem: I had too much to write and not enough time. I continued to write during the “night shift,” surviving on coffee.

I home-schooled, I baked, I made forts, and I read story after story. Yet there was one more piece of me that was missing.

When the big 3-0 finally hit, I was three months pregnant with my baby girl, and I was quickly learning that my energy for writing until 1 a.m. was fading fast. I began to wonder if maybe ― just maybe ― my husband might be ready to take on my beloved job and let me bring home the bacon. Writing during the day (and not the middle of the night) seemed like a luxury, and I wanted it. 

For years, my husband bopped around from job to job. None of these jobs were his passion, and he certainly never felt fulfilled. He’d do the 9-to-5 grind (or, the 3 a.m. to 1 p.m. grind) and then we’d have a little family time before he’d hit the sack totally exhausted from life. “There’s gotta be more than this,” he whispered one night as he fell asleep. It broke my heart to see him slave away each day and still be so unfulfilled.

In that moment, I cared about nothing other than getting him home and promoting him to stay-at-home dad. Little writing assignments weren’t going to cut it anymore. I needed a real, legit plan to write my husband home, and that’s just what I did. This was my cue.

He took a few vacation days, and I glued myself to the computer lining up writing jobs and assignments to transition our family to our new normal. When he realized that I was potentially giving him the early retirement of a lifetime at 34, he started to find that spark in life again.

Finally, in April 2018, just two weeks after I had my third baby, I closed my eyes and gulped when my husband confirmed that he put in his two weeks’ notice.

It took about three seconds for the fear and panic to set in. What were we doing? How can my husband take over the house duties, the child rearing and the home schooling? How can I sit at a desk while still healing from an episiotomy? Will my kids still love me the same way if I’m working at home and not playing all the time? Will they see me differently? What if I don’t make enough to support us all?

While I don’t wear a power suit and I rarely wear makeup, I do bring home the bacon, I have no qualms being the breadwinner for our family, and my kids still love me just the same. My husband has embraced being the pancake-making, bike-riding, diaper-changing stay-at-home dad. 

Will my kids still love me the same way if I’m working at home and not playing all the time? Will they see me differently? What if I don’t make enough to support us all?

While neither of us thought our new arrangement was unusual, especially in today’s modern world, other people seemed to still have issues with it. My OB-GYN even told me that we were making “strange choices.” Another well-meaning family friend was so bold as to tell my husband that he needed a job because he’s the man. Side-eyes aside, nothing is holding us back from living the life we were meant to live. 

I know we are not alone in building a home where a wife works and a dad stays home. I’m thankful I get to focus on my career after years of staying home with the kids, and I’ve never seen my husband happier than when he’s with the kids. 

It’s a reversal of old-school, traditional gender roles, no doubt, and there were a few adjustments that needed to be made. My husband has learned to ask me for things, rather than the other way around. He was used to making the money and spending (within reason) money on himself, but when he wanted a new koa acoustic guitar, he struggled ― at first ― with the fact that he now had to ask for the things he used to just buy himself. Any disillusionment faded once that package from Sweetwater Guitar arrived ― with the new amp he wanted as a surprise addition to the order. 

He’s become a stronger voice for women’s equality, and I see that in the way he’s raising our daughter. I feel grateful our kids have us as proof that stereotypes are silly and they can do what they want ― regardless of whether it’s considered “masculine” or “feminine.”

So what is it really like to be married to a stay-at-home dad? It’s messy, glorious, beautiful and raw. I’ve also learned that I am more dependent on him now than ever before. I need him to take care of the kids, make the meals and keep the house tidy so I can work during the daylight hours. Without him, I couldn’t do what I do. In this way, we are the ultimate team.

I feel grateful our kids have us as proof that stereotypes are silly and they can do what they want ― regardless of whether it’s considered ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine.’

The kitchen may not be spotless (it’s never spotless), the laundry might not be folded right out of the dryer (but, hey, it’s all clean) and the floors haven’t been mopped in a while. He doesn’t quite have the timing down for making all the components of a meal finish at the same time, and he definitely doesn’t match the kids’ shorts with their shirts perfectly. 

But what my sweet husband lacks in the housework department he more than makes up for in other ways. He plants flowers outside my window so I can see flowers while I type. He hung a hammock in our bedroom so I can read in peace. He regularly brings me snacks and espresso on demand. He wears the baby in the Ergo every day so she can nap, and he carts the boys to karate, Boy Scouts and swimming class. When it comes to teaching, he’s taught our first grader to read, ride his bike, play the guitar and perform multiplication ― take that, Common Core! 

He’s doing everything I would have done for him, and that’s what partnership is. He lets me live out my dreams, and he’s figuring out the rest. And who knows what the future will hold. Maybe I’ll decide to stop working and he’ll find a career that ignites his fire. For now, though, our new arrangement is working well for us both, and we’ve never been happier.

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