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Elika Roohi

Study Reveals Troubling Link Between Marijuana and False Memories

It’s common understanding that our brain does not operate like a filing cabinet, accessing memories in a simple recall of truth. Memory is more like a restructuring of what one may think is the truth, and every time we access a memory, what we remember is dependent on context, social expectations and subjective wishes. It is an especially complex system of thought that can lead to the formation of false memories. And so, it is difficult enough to remember things correctly under the best of circumstance—it’s especially so when you throw in some marijuana.

According to a new study, researchers found that marijuana consistently increases a person’s susceptibility to false memories. This is especially problematic in the context of a crime, and cannabis-intoxicated witnesses and suspects.

Marijuana and memory

Marijuana and its main psychoactive ingredient have been found to impair memory before, but the recently published study raises the stakes as the first to link using weed to false memories.

The double-blind, placebo-controlled trial found that people who took just one hit of weed doubled their number of “false memories” in a virtual reality scenario compared to those who puffed on a placebo, said study author Johannes Ramaekers, a professor of psychopharmacology at Maastricht University in The Netherlands.

“We are all prone to the formation of false memories, independent of cannabis use,” Ramaekers said. “The susceptibility for false memory, however, increases with cannabis. Under cannabis, users can easily accept fake truths for true memory.”

Why does this matter?

With some 11 states, as well as Washington D.C., having legalized marijuana, a rise in false memories could begin to play a larger role in criminal matters, said study co-author Elizabeth Loftus, a professor of psychological science in the department of criminology at the University of California, Irvine.

“This new work is suggesting authorities need to be extra careful when interviewing somebody,” Loftus said. They should consider removing “them from a situation where they might be exposed to suggestive information that could contaminate their memory.”

If witnesses and suspects are stoned, whatever questioning that needs to happen should take place as soon as the person has sobered up, the study suggests. Ideally, the questioning would occur between false memory susceptibility and expected memory decay.

But if a person is under the influence when an event happens, they may still display a “yes” bias toward new information later, the researchers say. This means cannabis-intoxicated people may need to be treated as a “vulnerable” group in the context of crimes, similar to a child or the elderly, they say. If so, that could dramatically change both how we investigate and prosecute crimes.

And it’s not just the integrity of police investigations that may be potentially influenced by false memories, most human interaction relies on an accurate recall of previous information and experiences.

“There are lots of situations where somebody’s memory matters,” Loftus said. “For example, a family dispute such as two siblings arguing about what happened in the past over a Thanksgiving table.”

Just what are false memories anyway?

There are two kinds of false memories: They are either spontaneous—a result of internal cognitive processes—or suggestion-based—occurring because of external suggestions. The study looked at the effects of marijuana on the ability to form both. It turns out that elevated false memories are the norm when THC affects memory retrieval.

The most important takeaway from the study is that cannabis exerted a general impact on memory by increasing various types of recollective errors, the researchers say. There is a debate over how different types of false memories relate to each other, but the current study shows that intoxicated individuals may be at higher risk of forming “all kinds of memory errors, which can be perilous in investigative interview settings.”

See also: Andrea Gibson is Still Screaming, This Time About Love
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“Parasite” Makes History at the Oscars

The 2020 Oscars made history by naming the South Korean film Parasite as best picture—the first non-English language film to take the top prize.

Other honors of the night included Renee Zellweger winning best actress for playing Judy Garland in Judy, Joaquin Phoenix taking best actor for Joker, and Brad Pitt and Laura Dern seizing the supporting acting awards for their roles in Once Upon a Time In Hollywood and Marriage Story respectively.

Parasite took home the most awards on Sunday night, winning in four categories: best screenplay, best director, best picture and best international feature film. This was a stunning upset for the film crowd, as most favored World War I epic 1917 for best picture; however, most of its awards came in technical categories.

Nominations controversy

The announcement of the nominations in January provoked a strong online criticism many pointing out yet again that the Oscars favored a very white, very male body of work. Many felt that the omission of Greta Gerwig for Little Women from the best directing list was a snub.

“Congratulations to those men,” said actor Issa Rae, who announced the nominations, summing up the general consensus on Twitter.

Only five women have ever been nominated for best director in the entire history of the Oscars, which dates back 90 years.

It was also felt that the 11 nominations Joker received was in poor taste, in a year when many films showcasing diverse characters and stories were released. Joker ended up taking home two Oscars—one for best leading actor (Joaquin Phoenix) and another for music.

While the nominations still left a lot to be desired, Parasite’s win is indicative of a sea change within the academy and leaves much hope for next year.

Parasite in paradise

Parasite has been sweeping awards season, including bringing home best original screenplay and best foreign-language film at the BAFTAs last week and best director and best foreign-language film at the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards in January.

The film is a vicious social satire about two families from different classes in Seoul—one who lives in poverty in a basement, and another wealthy family who resides in a large home.

“Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films,” said Director Bong Joon-ho in his acceptance speech for best foreign-language film at the Golden Globes.

Perhaps the Oscars are not quite as “local” as Joon-ho once accused them of being. Or maybe he’s just making local history.

See also: Concert Review: Snoop Dogg Shows Fans in Philly Why He is Still an Icon in Hip Hop
Who’s Nominated for the 2020 Golden Globes?
What HBO’s “Chernobyl” Got Right and Wrong


Basketball Legend Kobe Bryant, 13-Year-Old Daughter Die in Tragic Helicopter Crash that Kills Nine Total

Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a tragic helicopter crash on Sunday in Calabasa, California. The helicopter was carrying seven other passengers, including Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and the pilot. Everyone on board was killed in the crash.

Kobe Bryant, largely considered to be one of the greatest players in NBA history, played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 20 seasons. Over the course of his storied career, he led the Lakers to five championships, was an 18-time All-Star and was the NBA’s MVP in 2007-08.

On the eve of his death, LeBron James broke Bryant’s scoring record for the Lakers. Bryant celebrated James’ success with a tweet—the last he would ever send—saying, “Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother #33644”.

As the news broke on Sunday, tributes poured in from celebrities and well known faces around the world.

Grammys pay respects to Kobe Bryant

“Tonight is for you Kobe,” said Lizzo, offering the first tribute to Bryant at the Grammys, which took place on Sunday at the Staples Center, where Kobe Bryant played his entire career with the LA Lakers. News of Bryant’s death mere hours before the Grammys began.

“We’re literally standing here, heartbroken, in the house that Kobe Bryant built,” said Alicia Keys, who was hosting the ceremony.

Presidents offer their condolences

Barack Obama wrote on Twitter: “Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.”

Current President Donald Trump offered words of comfort as well, writing: “Kobe Bryant, despite being one of the truly great basketball players of all time, was just getting started in life. He loved his family so much, and had such strong passion for the future. The loss of his beautiful daughter, Gianna, makes this moment even more devastating.”

Players praise Kobe Bryant’s legacy

“There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through with this tragedy of losing my niece Gigi & my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie,” said Shaquille O’Neal, who won three NBA titles alongside Bryant for the LA Lakers. “I love you and you will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. I’m sick right now.”

The NBA’s all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who played for the Lakers from 1975-1989, said: “It’s very difficult for me to put in words how I feel. Kobe was an incredible family man, he loved his wife and daughters, he was an incredible athlete, he inspired a whole generation. This loss is hard to comprehend.”

Six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan added: “I loved Kobe—he was like a little brother to me. We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much.

“He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force. Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply—and took great pride in his daughter’s love for the game of basketball.”

LeBron James offered a moving tribute on Monday, after digesting the tragic news, saying: “I’m Not Ready but here I go. Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had! I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have.”

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I’m Not Ready but here I go. Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had! I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have. WTF!! I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!! ?????. Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids. I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation?? and it’s my responsibility to put this shit on my back and keep it going!! Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here! There’s so much more I want to say but just can’t right now because I can’t get through it! Until we meet again my brother!! #Mamba4Life❤️?? #Gigi4Life❤️??

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

See also: Andrea Gibson is Still Screaming, This Time About Love
Trump’s Impeachment: A Simple Guide
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Andrea Gibson is Still Screaming, This Time About Love

Andrea Gibson is one of the most celebrated and influential poets of today. Their oeuvre includes work on topics from pressing contemporary social issues—the kind that make you scream—to gentle love poems. Gibson isn’t strictly poetry either; their new show, ‘Right Now, I Love You Forever’ on tour now, is being billed as a “multimedia, poetic story-telling experience”.

We got to talk to Gibson about everything from why right now is the perfect time for a performance about love to how gender identity informs their work.

College News: Your new show ‘Right Now, I Love You Forever’ has been in the works for a while. Can you tell us a little bit about it? And why is now the right time for it?

Andrea Gibson: The show was something I was wanting to do for a long time, but put on hold after the election of Trump because I needed some time to scream. Not to suggest that my screaming has stopped. It hasn’t. But alongside the screaming is always love, and there is never a wrong time for love.

CN: ‘Right Now, I Love You Forever’ is not strictly slam poetry, you’ve called it a “multimedia, poetic story-telling experience”. Can you give us an idea of what to expect? Why this format?

AG: The show is a collection of poems and stories and songs and film. It’s in some ways a live scrapbook of my heart’s life, and what I have learned throughout the mess and triumph of it all.

CN: What has it been like for you to put together this show in today’s political climate?

AG: It’s been a helpful reminder to presence my own, and everyone else’s tenderness, in whatever I create, and to keep touching back to the fierce softness of the human heart.

CN: You’ve written a lot about love, but you’ve also written a lot about important social and political issues. How do you see subjects, which seem to be getting more and more compartmentalized today, as related?

AG: All social and political issues are issues of love, or the lack thereof. How our hearts roll in intimate situations are how our hearts roll outwards into the world. It’s all connected. It all dominoes.

CN: We understand that you identify as queer and gender queer. How has this impacted your art?

AG: It predisposes me to being turned off my boxes and inclines each word I write to be something in search of freedom.

CN: What’s the best piece of writing advice you have for aspiring poets and writers?

AG: Read. A lot. If something moves you, learn how to articulate to yourself why it moves you. And if it doesn’t move you, do the same. Stay away from what you think, and stay close to what you feel. It’s not always about writing your heart out. Sometimes it’s about writing your heart IN.

CN: What do you hope to accomplish that you haven’t yet?

AG: I’m working to be braver in my writing. I’m working to be more willing to create art no one loves but me. I’m working to write what terrifies me to write. Safety is so repetitive. It’s wild how easy it is to be boring. I feel finished with anything that walks that road.

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Whistleblower’s Complaint Alleges Interference by Trump in Election

In the latest of what has been a series of astonishing developments surrounding the controversy concerning President Donald Trump’s phone call to the President to the Ukraine, the whistleblower complaint has now been released and it alleges White House interference in covering up the call.

What’s the background?

In mid-September, the House Intelligence Committee Chairman subpoenaed the Acting National Intelligence Director to hand over a whistleblower report. It was filed last month and was determined to be of “urgent concern.” The document was not handed over, raising eyebrows all around.

On September 18, The Washington Post reported on the document, saying that it had something to do with an unspecified “promise” Trump had made to a foreign head of state. At this point, it was not clear what the promise was and to whom it was made. President Trump responded accordingly.

Details began to slowly trickle out. The Wall Street Journal reported that the whistleblower complaint alleged that Trump had pressured the Ukrainian President Zelensky “about eight times” to work with his personal attorney Rude Giuliani to look into matters surrounding Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, who had sat on the board of a natural gas company in the Ukraine.

Compounding the situation was the matter of millions of dollars of aid that the U.S. had failed to release to the Ukraine, leading some to suggest this was a true mafia-style shakedown of one world leader by another.

Following the breaking news, Trump went on record to deny that he had ever tried to bribe another country to interfere in a national election while at the same time unintentionally confirmed some aspects of the story—such as a call had taken place to the President of the Ukraine and Biden’s son had been discussed.

By Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that impeachment inquiries would begin, describing the President’s actions as a “betrayal of his oath of office.” On Wednesday, a transcript of the call had been released. And on Thursday, the whistleblower complaint was de-classified and published.

The whistleblower complaint

The whistleblower complaint, which as you may recall from last year—we mean last week—had been withheld even in light of a subpoena. It had also been withheld from Congress. Its release now is the latest in a series of incriminating revelations for the Trump administration.

The complaint alleges that “senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced as is customary by the White House Situation Room.”

“This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired int he call,” reads the complaint, continuing later to say: “…there was already a discussion ongoing with White House lawyers about how to treat the call because of the likelihood, in the officials’ retelling, that they had witnessed the President abuse his office for personal gain.”

Acting National Intelligence Director Jospeh Maguire, the same one who last week did not hand over the subpoenaed whistleblower report, called the complaint “unique and unprecedented” in an appearance before Congress on Thursday. He also said the whistleblower “acted in good faith.”

What happens now?

What happens next is truly anyone’s guess. To borrow from Maguire, the situation is “unprecedented.”

There are strikingly few cases of impeachment proceedings being launched in American history—just three, in fact: Andrew Johnson in 1868, Richard Nixon in 1973 and Bill Clinton in 1998. None of these events resulted in removal from office due to the impeachment. Nixon resigned before a vote could take place, and Johnson and Clinton were acquitted from all charges following a Senate trial and allowed to remain in office

The impeachment proceedings will be a long and drawn out event, likely contributing to further polarization in what was shaping up to be an extremely polarizing year anyway.

To begin with, a House committee, usually the Judiciary Committee or its subcommittee, will conduct an investigation to see if a federal official’s conduct warrants impeachment. According to the Constitution, impeachable offenses include, “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” How exactly to interpret that has been a source of vigorous debate throughout American history.

After the inquiries, the House Judiciary Committee will write up the articles of impeachment and then vote on whether to refer them to the House of Representatives. If approved, the articles will advance to the House floor where a simple majority of voting lawmakers if required to approve them.

Following a vote in the House, a trial in the Senate will take place where senators become jurors and the chief justice of the US Supreme Court presides. A supermajority, that is two-thirds of the vote, is required to remove a President from office. Control of the Senate is currently in the hands of the Republican Party, 53-45, so a vote removing Trump from office looks unlikely at this stage.

However, impeachment proceedings will be long, and there’s no telling what may happen by the end of them. Nixon’s impeachment proceedings lasted 184 days; for Clinton it was 127 days.

And just a reminder…

In the background, the 2020 election carries on. Nineteen democrats are still running for President, clamoring for attention and support as media coverage becomes increasingly crowded with more and more pressing issues. The first primary is on February 3, just 130 days from now.

See also: Essential Guide to the 2020 Election
Could Pete Buttigieg Become America’s First Gay President?
Trump’s Wall: The President’s Oval Office Address

Research Reveals Half of Gen Z Will Never Own Significant Assets

The trade war is dragging on. The yield curve is inverting. Investors are fleeing to safety. Global growth is slowing. The stock market is dipping. The student debt crisis has incapacitated a generation of young people financially. And yes, Millennials and Gen Z are screwed.

The financial challenges facing young people in America have been widely reported on, but before you click away from yet another doom and gloom of the future story, it’s worth considering the facts.

Millennials and Gen Z carry over $1 trillion in student loan debt—that’s the GDP of the entire European Union—and there’s no sign of relief coming any time soon. This debt has saddled a generation that entered adolescence and adulthood following on of the worst global economic recessions in recent history. These are the first generations that are projected to be worse off than their parents.

And this is reflected in the choices that Millennials and Gen Zers are forced to make. Many are resigned to renting long term, unable to afford the first rung of the properly ladder: saving up a sizeable deposit. According to a recent survey of 3,000 young people, over half of Gen Z (57 percent) do not believe they will ever own significant assets. And 76 percent doubt they will inherit assets of any significant value from their parents.

These odds are altering the way young people define success. It’s less about the money and assets acquired and more by the way they live. Some 65 percent of Gen Z said in the same survey that they would donate part of their estates to charity, many of which focused on leaving money to organizations that combat climate change.

USA Will Guru, who conducted the survey, created an interactive map where you can view these results broken down across the U.S.:

Created by Will Guru
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College Basketball Teams to Watch in 2019-20

There’s a lot that’s going to happen between now and the beginning of this year’s college basketball season, it seems almost premature to publish a top teams list. But we’re too excited to wait! Here’s who you should be keeping an eye on in 2019-20.


  • WHO’S GONE: Matt McQuaid, Kenny Goins, Nick Ward
  • WHO’S BACK: Cassius Winston, Xavier Tillman, Joshua Langford, Aaron Henry, Kyle Ahrens, Gabe Brown, Foster Loyer, Marcus Bingham, Thomas Kithier
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Rocket Watts, Malik Hall, Julius Marble
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford, Kyle Ahrens, Aaron Henry, Xavier Tillman


  • WHO’S GONE: P.J. Washington, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro, Reid Travis
  • WHO’S BACK: E.J. Montgomery, Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickly, Nick Richards
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Kahlil Whitney, Tyrese Maxey, Keion Brooks, Johnny Juzang, Dontaie Allen, Nate Sestina
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Tyrese Maxey, Ashton Hagans, Kahlil Whitney, Keion Brooks, E.J. Montgomery


  • WHO’S GONE: Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, Marques Bolden
  • WHO’S BACK: Tre Jones, Alex O’Connell, Jack White, Javin DeLaurier, Jordan Goldwire, Joey Baker
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Vernon Carey, Wendell Moore, Matthew Hurt, Cassius Stanley
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Tre Jones, Alex O’Connell, Wendell Moore, Matthew Hurt, Vernon Carey


  • WHO’S GONE: Lagerald Vick, Dedric Lawson, Quintin Grimes, K.J. Lawson, Charlie Moore
  • WHO’S BACK: Devon Dotson, Ochai Agbaji, Udoka Azubuike, Marcus Garrett, Silvio De Sousa, Mitch Lightfoot, David McCormack
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Isaiah Moss, Jalen Wilson, Tristan Enaruna, Isaac McBride, Christian Braun
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Devon Dotson, Isaiah Moss, Ochai Agbaji, Silvio De Sousa, Udoka Azubuike


  • WHO’S GONE: Eric Paschall, Phil Booth, Jahvon Quinerly
  • WHO’S BACK: Jermaine Samuels, Cole Swider, Saddiq Bey, Collin Gillespie, Dhamir Cosby-Rountree, Brandon Slater
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Bryan Antoine, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Justin Moore, Eric Dixon
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Collin Gillespie, Bryan Antoine, Saddiq Bey, Jermaine Samuels, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl


  • WHO’S GONE: Christen Cunningham, Khwan Fore, Akoy Agau
  • WHO’S BACK: Jordan Nwora, Dwayne Sutton, Ryan McMahon, Steve Enoch, Malik Williams, Darius Perry
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Samuell Williamson, Jaelyn Withers, Josh Nickelberry, Fresh Kimble, David Johnson, Aidan Igiehom, Quinn Slazinski
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Fresh Kimble, Samuell Williamson, Dwayne Sutton, Jordan Nwora, Malik Williams

See also: The Ballers of College Softball
Playing College Sports: All You Need to Know
Getting Ready for March Madness

Essential Guide to the 2020 Election

On November 3, 2020, Americans will head to the polls and render their verdict on Donald Trump’s presidency. For many reasons, this election is looming larger than those in previous years—so much so that 25 individuals (23 Democrats and two Republicans) have announced their candidacy for president in 2020.

With that many names to keep track of, not to mention the issues, we’ve broken it down into an essential guide.

Why is everything so wild?

In an average year, maybe two or three people will run against each other for the party nomination for president. This year, there are 25 people in the running, with three that have already dropped out.

This election is about Trump. In 2016, the current President pulled off a mammoth political upset against Hillary Clinton, taking swing states such as Florida and North Carolina, while overcoming the supposed “blue wall” in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. This time the candidates are different, the issues are different and the electorate has changed. Everyone is watching with bated breath wondering, can Trump do it again?

While most attention is focused on the presidency, the general election will also determine control of Congress, state legislatures and governorships. Power in the Senate will be up for grabs, with 34 out of 100 seats up for election in 2020—about a third of those seats look competitive. Democrats will also try to defend their majority in the House of Representatives.

Who can vote?

There are more than 224 million people of voting age in the US. The 2020 electorate will be more diverse and younger than ever before, according to a January 2019 analysis from the Pew Research Center. Non-white voters will account for a third of eligible voters—their largest share ever—and one in 10 eligible voters will be from Gen Z (between ages 18 and 23).

In 2016, about 30 percent of Americans who were eligible to vote decided not to or were blocked; however, given the surge in turnout for the 2018 midterm elections, 2020 could see an expanded electorate. However, experts say voter suppression and gerrymandering may have hindered Democrats in 2018 and may continue to counter the effects of a more enthusiastic voting base.

Explain primaries to me

The primaries and caucuses are a series of contents in all 50 states plus Washington DC and outlying territories, by which the party selects its presidential nominee. The goal for candidates is to amass a majority of delegates whose job it is to nominate the candidate. In some states, delegates are awarded on a winner-take-all basis; other states split their delegates proportionally among top winners.

The goal for candidates is to win early-voting states and create name recognition and a sense of momentum. Sometimes the nominee emerges quickly, but the last two major Democratic primary contests, pitting Barack Obama against Clinton and then Sanders against Clinton, have lasted from the Iowa caucuses in January through late spring.


After the primaries, the two parties will hold their national conventions, at which they will officially designate their candidates. The conventions are a mix of political business, theater and party. The Democratic national convention is July 13-16, 2020, and the Republican convention is a month later, from August 24-27.

Then the race begins

The general election, the race for president that most voters think of, begins in earnest after the conventions when there are two clear candidates. This is when the candidates hit the campaign trail, unveil their running mates and step up to the national debate stage. For Trump, his work will also include the business of the presidency.

Then November 3 will come, votes will be cast and it will all come down to the electoral college.

Important dates

  • September 12-13 Next democratic debates
  • February 3 Iowa caucuses kick off the primaries
  • March 3 Super Tuesday
  • July 13-16 Democratic national convention
  • August 24-27 Republican national convention
  • November 3 Election day


Registering to vote

The deadlines to register to vote vary by state. Some states allow voters to register in person on election day, others set a deadline at as much as 30 days before election day.

See also: Trump’s Wall: The President’s Oval Office Address
Trump’s Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame Voted to Be Removed
Trump Cancels Philadelphia Eagles’ Visit to the White House

The Lumineers: New Album Explores Addiction

“It’s like someone gently waking you up out of a deep sleep,” says Wesley Schultz, guitarist and singer of The Lumineers. He’s talking about “Donna,” the first track on their new album, III.

What Schultz means is that the piano part—written by Jeremiah Fraites, his bandmate of over a decade—is haunting and beautiful, an eerie sign of the heartbreak that lies ahead on III.

This latest work by the stripped-down folk band dives into deeper and darker waters than their previous albums. III tells a poignant and troubling story about the effects of addiction on a family. The album is divided into three chapters, with each chapter focusing on a different generation of the family, starting with the grandmother Gloria Sparks, followed by the son Jimmy Sparks and the grandson Junior Sparks.

“[The album] just shows a really kind of heart-breaking look at trying to love addicts, trying to love somebody that really can’t help themselves,” says Fraites.

III was largely inspired by a family member of Schultz’s who was dealing with addiction, although Fraites’ family has also been touched by addiction—his brother passed away of a drug overdose 18 years ago. For both of them, working on the album became a deeply cathartic process.

“You know how people sing about heartbreak?” Schultz askes me. “Singing about stuff that’s very real or true but hurts, it tends to bring out something in people. I think going there and saying your darkest thoughts or confessing or saying something that you’re going through that a lot of people aren’t talking about, I think it’s something about art and music that’s very healing, it’s very cathartic.”

III will be released on September 13.

On the inspiration for III

As I listen to the first few tracks of III, I understand what Schultz meant about waking from a deep sleep—the melody is beautiful, but the story grips my attention. In true Lumineers style, the music is stripped down and uncomplicated, letting the mastery of their talent shine through; while the lyrics are a complex story that call for many more listens.

I ask Schultz what it was like to bring such a personal story to a large audience, especially one as heart-rending as this.

“I think if you keep too much of a distance in how you’re talking about something—in other words if you’re not vulnerable or putting yourself out there, you’re not really telling the story, you’re not really painting the accurate picture,” he says. “I think initially I was trying to keep a distance between me and that person in the story, but as time wore on it became obvious that it would be a wasted opportunity to actually draw attention to something important. And if I don’t acknowledge that it’s part of my life, how do I expect people to acknowledge that either?”

“It’s kind of like if there’s something in your family, and then you are ashamed by it and you feel like it reflects on you and you don’t want to talk about it, then it becomes this problem that’s also like a secret, and it’s a heavier and heavier burden,” he adds. “I’m happy I did it because I’ve seen afterwards that a lot of people have said a lot of things in a short period of time of how they’ve witnessed this.”

When I ask Fraites, he says: “These lyrics, these videos, us talking about [addiction] in any way shape or form, sort of sheds some light on it or maybe gets people to talk about it and say, ‘oh maybe I do have a problem, maybe I can look for the signs, and help other people.’

“You know we never want to be preachy, and we’re not perfect people.

“But it was something that was real in both of our lives and it feels really sincere and genuine to be talking about it through the medium of this album as a whole.”

On those incredible videos

Adding another layer to the story, the band will release a music video for each song, directed by Kevin Phillips. Several have already come out, depicting the story from the first chapter of the album, and the visuals are stunning.

Schultz and Fraites discovered Phillips’ work on the film Super Dark and knew immediately that he could capture the tone of their new album.

“We knew that we has this album that was a lot darker than previous Lumineers albums, we knew that the subject matter was darker than previous Lumineers lyrics, and I think we wanted to make sure that the videos didn’t look too clean or glossed over with perfect looking model actors and actresses. We really wanted to make it feel authentic and sincere,” said Fraites.

Releasing a series of narrative music videos for every song on an album isn’t a traditional way of doing things, and the band initially had trouble getting the label on board with their plan. “We got a lot of pushback at first,” said Schultz. “And we decided to do it ourselves, and then they eventually got on board and really supported it…

“But I think if you really pour yourself and your resources into something like this it’s always worth doing you never look back and regret it.”

The response has already been overwhelming for the band, with fans reaching out with stories of their own.

On not being pigeonholed

The songs on III seem far away from “Ho Hey,” the sunny hit that launched the band into the mainstream several years ago, or their other upbeat songs, but it’s not, Schultz says.

“I think if you actually go back and go listen to the first album or the second, I can give you many, many examples of what we were singing about and why that was actually pretty dark,” he clarifies for me, when I ask. “I just think this is the first time we’ve maybe made that in music…it just sounds darker.”

The Lumineers are commonly compared to other folk bands, like Mumford & Sons, but Schultz is on record saying that comparison isn’t fair. He elaborates about why he thinks putting artists into categories doesn’t help anyone.

“If someone said to you, you’re this type of writer, I think your initial reaction would be to say don’t pigeon-hole me into this—I’m more dynamic than what you’re saying I am.”

On playing together for over a decade

Fraites and Schultz have been playing together since 2005, when they got their start in Ramsey, New Jersey. They now live in Denver—both are married now and both welcomed baby boys a year ago.

I’m curious about what it’s like to have such a long-standing and close working relationship, especially through all the change, from days of working tirelessly to make rent in NYC to being successful enough to play at the Obama White House twice.

“I feel like more the key ingredient to our relationship is that we’ve been able to not change the writing process,” reflected Fraites.

“When we first started out, we just wanted to write music together, we just needed a piano, some drums, a guitar… I think with album two we did a really good job of still figuring out a way to write music the way we’ve always done, and with this album it was the same thing. It’s a really kind of boring process.” (The band got together at a cabin in the Catskills to write III.)

“Ironically success was one of the most traumatic and difficult things to deal with,” Fraites tells me.

Schultz echoes this sentiment: “Sometimes the success of something actually throws people into a strange or destructive state of mind. And when you’re busy trying and failing, or trying but not having a ton of success, it tends to bring people together.”

“We want to write songs in a certain way,” Schultz adds. “We try to collaborate in this very honest way—like we cut a part or we cut a song—both of us know it’s because we think it’s the best thing for the song, and not for one of our egos.”

The process is clearly working for them.

III comes out on September 13 and is available for pre-order now.

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The Amazon Rainforest is on Fire: Here’s What You Need to Know

The Amazon rainforest has been burning at a record rate, and—is it just me?—we only found out about it yesterday on Instagram. For some reason, the shockingly large blaze has been left out of the mainstream media and discussions about global warming this summer. Here’s everything you need to know about the fire and how you can help.

State of emergency

Brazil declared a state of emergency over the rising number of fires in the region earlier this month. So far this year, almost 73,000 fires have been detected in Brazil—an 83 percent increase from 2018 and the highest number on record since 2013.


The fires are largely linked to people clearing out the land for farming or ranching, specifically for cattle to meet the world’s demand for beef. However, it’s made possible this year by the dry conditions. The Amazon rainforest is typically wet and humid; however, this year it’s been warmer and drier than usual.

How big is the fire?

You can see the smoke from space. The European Union Earth Observation Program’s Sentinel satellites captures images of “significant amounts of smoke” over the Amazon. And the skies darkened over San Paulo, Brazil, on Monday afternoon after winds carried smoke from about 1,700 miles away.

What is the impact?

Effects of damage to the Amazon go far beyond Brazil and its neighbors. The area’s rainforest generates more than 20 percent of the world’s oxygen and 10 percent of the world’s known biodiversity. The Amazon is referred to as “the lungs of the planet” and plays a major role in regulating the climate. The world would drastically change if the rainforest were to disappear, impacting everything from farming to the water we drink.

What can be done?

If you’re a bystander, watching images of the devastation fill your social media feeds and wondering what you can do to help, there are a number of organisations doing work to save the rainforest.

  • Donate to Rainforest Action Network to protect an acre of the Amazonian rainforest.
  • Donate to the Rainforest Trust to help buy land in the rainforest. Since 1988, the organization has saved over 23 million acres and counting.
  • Donate to Amazon Watch, an organization that protects the rainforest, defends indigenous rights and works to address climate change.
  • Donate to the Amazon Conservation Team, which works to fight climate change, protect the Amazon and empower indigenous peoples.

Consider changing your search engine to Ecosia.org, which plants a tree for every 45 searches you run. Also consider cutting back on or completely eliminating beef from your diet, which will impact the companies that have been setting the fires.

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