This year is not over yet
Good morning, we’re back after some holiday complications, ready to tackle what’s left of this tremendously upsetting year. There certainly will be plenty of reasons to celebrate its passing Saturday night. My concern at this point is that the year might try for a big finish. So please, wherever you go, whatever you do, exercise caution and common sense.
As we’re looking at developing news this morning, there were a couple of shallow earthquakes waking up everyone in the Lake Tahoe region this morning. Zsa Zsa Gabor’s adopted son died just a few days after his mother’s passing. And the president, the one who knows what he’s doing, signed a bill yesterday allowing the FBI and DOJ to re-open civil rights cases more than 20 years old. But that’s not what we’re talking about this morning, is it? Here are the five things you need to know.
Our favorite princess has died
Everyone from a devastated Mark Hamill to Daisy Ridley is remembering actress and author Carrie Fisher this morning. Ms. Fisher passed away yesterday after suffering a heart attack while on a flight from London to Los Angeles1. The actress was on a tour promoting her new book, The Princess Diarist, and had been on multiple talk shows across the US and Europe. The last interview I saw was with Stephen Colbert just a few weeks ago. She seemed spirited and lively.
Fisher’s ability as an author was perhaps greater than that as an actor. Her 1987 book Postcards From The Edge became an international best seller. When no one else wanted to take on the project, she produced the movie version of the book as well. She was open about the challenges she faced and honest about the demons that still dogged her.
Yet, it will always be her role as Star Wars’ enigmatic Princess Leia that we will always remember first. For an entire generation of young people, she was their first Hollywood crush. She played a character that didn’t need to be sexy to be meaningful, but still managed to be sexy anyway. She was tough enough to fight off the boys and take on an empire. She became a part of our lives, our youth, that we will never forget. Rest in peace, Ms. Fisher. You will not be forgotten.
No more mall rats
By now, you’ve likely heard of the numerous incidents that occurred at malls in several cities Monday night. So far, police have not found any evidence linking the different events2, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one and that parents shouldn’t be taking notice for multiple reasons.
First, it has been years since hanging out at the mall was actually cool. I have three boys, the youngest of which is 18. The only way you would get any of them in a mall at any age was if the closest Game Stop was in that mall. Even then, it was go in, buy the game, and get out. The mall was not a place they wanted their friends to see them. This is a large part of why retail malls are in decline. So, if your child is hanging out at the mall, you might consider the possibility they have social issues.
Second, the possibility of a social media connection has yet to be fully explored. Police say they are still investigating that possibility. More than that, though, this is a wake-up call for parents who think they can drop their children off anywhere and not have to worry. Over the past five years, we’ve seen violence break out at everything from graduation parties to church outings. Locally, malls are at least temporarily requiring that any child under the age of 18 must have a parent with them. Parents, time to step up and take some responsibility because your children don’t know what that is.
Behave yourself on that flight
Malls aren’t the only place where one needs to watch their behavior. Incidents of people being removed from flights for various outbursts and bad behavior has increased this past year. In one such incident earlier this month, 80s pop singer Richard Marx and his wife, former MTV VJ Daisy Fuentes, had to step in and help subdue an “unruly” passenger aboard a Korean Airlines flight they were on5. Both Marx and Fuentes were highly critical of the airline after the incident, saying that flight attendants did not know how to properly use tasers and ropes that were aboard the plane.
That has now changed. Korean Air told Reuters yesterday, “We have decided to improve our conditions and procedure on using Taser guns to cope with violent acts and disturbances on board in a fast and efficient manner.6” What this means is that flight attendants no longer have to wait to assess the level of danger a passenger might pose to others on the plane. Previously, flight attendants were instructed to only use the tasers if the lives of the passengers and crew were in danger or the safety of the flight was threatened.
Exactly how this new policy plays out in the air remains to be seen. Korean Air did not set a time for implementation of the new policy. Still, if I were on a Korean Air flight, I’d think twice before demanding that full can of soda.
Does Versace have a race issue?
Around the world, the Versace fashion brand is known for the look that Donatella Versace herself exhibits: platinum blond hair and a sexy silhouette. We wouldn’t expect to see anything less from her runway shows or her retail stores. However, a charge of blatant racism has been leveled against the brand, complete with a special code used in retail stores to alert employees when a black person enters the store3.
The charge is part of a lawsuit filed by a former Versace outlet employee who says he was fired for being of mixed race. According to the lawsuit, the manager instructed the employee “to say ‘D410’ in a casual manner when a black person entered the store.” When the employee told the manager he was part black, he claims the manager treated him differently and subsequently fired him without cause.
Racial bias is not a new charge for anyone in the fashion industry. Runways are notoriously white, something that has drawn no small amount of attention in recent years. I went back and checked, of the 52 looks shown in Versace’s most recent Ready-to-Wear show, only five were presented on models of color4. Yet, that is above the norm and viewed as progressive for the fashion industry. Whether the lawsuit has merit remains to be seen, but fashion as a whole, not just Versace, needs to realize that racism doesn’t work for them anymore.
And finally …
We’ve been told for how long now that print media is dying? I have one word for you: LIES! This may not please the incoming president-elect all that much, but the nation’s largest newspapers are doing quite well, thank you. Several outlets, including NPR7, announced yesterday that the Washington Post is expanding their newsroom by adding 60 new journalists. The Post is one of the newspapers the president-elect criticized for their coverage of his campaign. That coverage seems to have paid off, though, as the newspaper reports Post‘s online traffic had increased by nearly 50 percent in the past year, and new subscriptions have grown by 75 percent, more than doubling digital subscription revenue.
At the same time, the New York Times, LA Times, and Wall Street Journal have also reported significant jumps in their subscription rates and profitability. Speculation is that more people are relying on large newspapers and their extensive reporting capabilities to help keep the new White House in check. Throughout the presidential campaign, the newspapers took the lead in fact-checking both candidates and took the lead in presenting any possible scandals or conflicts of interests. Americans who don’t trust the incoming president are hopeful that newspapers continue to force a level of transparency in government despite objections from the West Wing.
Whether this growth trend extends on down to local and regional newspapers remains to be seen, but I certainly wouldn’t count them out so long as newspapers step up to the role of keeping all levels of government responsible to those who elected them.
That’s all we have time to discuss this morning. We’re watching for potential news coming out of the UN this morning as well as a severe weather system forming over Alaska that could affect the Northern US later this week. This year doesn’t need any more causalties so please, whatever you do, be safe out there. We’ll see you again tomorrow.