5:59 PM 2/6/2021 – Michael Novakhov’s favorite articles
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President Joe Biden relaunched the weekly presidential address on Saturday, giving it a fresh makeover in the process, marking its return to screens and speakers across the country.
Instead of looking directly into the camera to address the nation, Biden takes a different tactic: He sits in the Oval Office, dressed in a shirt and tie, talking on the phone to Michele, a California woman who wrote to him after losing her job during the pandemic.
In the nearly two-and-a-half minute video released by the White House, Biden used the address to allay Michele’s worries about finding work — and to tout the economic benefits of his $1.9 trillion Covid relief package that House Democrats are expected to begin drafting next week.
“Working is part of who you are,” Biden told Michele. “I’ve been saying a long time, the idea that we think we can keep businesses open and moving and thriving without dealing with this pandemic is just a nonstarter.”
The informal on-camera conversation between the two is a break with past precedent, where previous presidents used the weekly address to recite pre-written speeches.
On Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the reboot of the weekly address, which has been rebranded as “A Weekly Conversation,” is a part of Biden’s effort to “regularly communicate directly with the American people,” particularly those affected by the pandemic.
“We expect it to take on a variety of forms,” Psaki said.
The video is a new take on an old tradition that has been on hiatus since former President Donald Trump stopped recording them in 2018. Here’s how previous presidents utilized — and modernized — the medium during their terms in office to communicate with Americans:
Franklin D. Roosevelt
President Franklin D. Roosevelt started giving his famous “fireside chats” by radio to explain what the government was doing to address the economic catastrophe wrought by the Great Depression, and later, World War II.
FDR’s addresses, according to the White House Historical Association, allowed FDR to bypass the press to connect directly with Americans.
The radio addresses were dropped by FDR’s successors until President Ronald Reagan, a former actor and radio announcer, revived them during his presidency. (President Jimmy Carter did a call-in radio show in 1977, fielding calls from around the country, which earned him the mockery of Saturday Night Live.)
Reagan began giving weekly radio broadcasts in 1982, a practice that continued under most future presidents. (President George H.W. Bush only recorded 18 during his time in office.)
George W. Bush
President George W. Bush was the first to deliver his weekly addresses in English and Spanish.
As the internet and listening to music on-the-go became ubiquitous in American culture during the 2000s, the Bush administration adapted to changing viewing habits and started posting the weekly addresses as downloadable podcasts, marking the first time the broadcasts were streamed online.
President Barack Obama built on Bush’s technological advancements and became the first president to post videos of his weekly addresses during his transition into office.
President Donald Trump continued the weekly video addresses on YouTube when he took office, but the tradition was quietly discontinued less than two years into his presidency.
Trump, who preferred to convey his thoughts directly with Americans on Twitter, continued to post short, infrequent video addresses on major topics to White House personal social media accounts through the remainder of his term.
Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest sporting — and betting — event of the year. Despite the pandemic, bookkeepers are expecting wagers worth more than $4 billion this year. Since its expansion outside Nevada in 2018, the legal betting industry has ballooned, with New Jersey emerging as the biggest market in the country. Hari Sreenivasan reports on why, the odds are, the industry will keep growing
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Civil servants have hunkered in a defensive crouch as Trump and his allies demanded political loyalty, tested their professionalism and called them the intransigent “deep state.”
About 1,000 people took to the streets of Myanmar’s commercial capital on Saturday, in a show of resistance against the country’s military coup earlier this week.
READ MORE: Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Myanmar’s cities on Saturday to denounce this week’s coup and demand the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi despite a blockade on the internet by the junta.
In an upwelling of anger in the country’s largest city, Yangon, protesters chanted, “Military dictator, fail, fail; Democracy, win, win” and held banners reading “Against military dictatorship.” Bystanders offered them food and water.
Many in the crowds wore red, the color of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), which won Nov. 8 elections in a landslide, a result the generals have refused to recognize, claiming fraud.
Thousands marched on Yangon’s City Hall. Drivers honked horns and leaned out of their cars and raised the three-finger salute, a gesture returned by protesters. Some of them held up NLD flags or pictures of Suu Kyi and clapped and danced.
By evening, the protesters had mostly dispersed. But for a fifth night, a cacophony rose in the darkness as people banged on pots, pans and drums in a show of resistance even as power cuts affected many districts of the city.
Thousands more took to the streets in Myanmar’s second city Mandalay and its military-built capital Naypyitaw, home to the nation’s government servants, where demonstrators chanted anti-coup slogans and called for Suu Kyi’s release.
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Social media stars, already under fire for trips to Dubai in lockdown, are now involved in a row over Instagram posts
Makeup artist Sasha Louise Pallari started her hashtag #filterdrop in summer 2020. A social media campaign to discourage influencers promoting beauty products by using filters to exaggerate their effect, it paid off last week when the Advertising Standards Authority banned two tanning brands from using misleading filters on Instagram Stories. The ruling means that in future all use of filters will be more tightly controlled – and, so the theory goes, more “natural” content likely to be seen on social media.
This is the latest backlash over the perfection presented by influencers, reflecting an anger that has been building during the pandemic which is changing the way some of them work. Last month influencers including Love Island stars Amber Gill, Laura Anderson and Anton Danyluk, and fitness influencer Sheridan Mordew, travelled to Dubai and posted what looked like holiday snaps – often promoting beauty products – while their followers in the UK were subject to lockdown measures. Despite insistence that they were working – and an unlikely defence by Kathy Burke on Twitter – those involved were derided as tone-deaf. Home secretary Priti Patel even commented on the story. It’s thought that Anderson lost 12,000 followers as a result of the controversy, while Danyluk lost 14,000. The influencer economy was valued at $6.5bn (£5bn) in 2019, with around 20% of brands’ marketing budget spent with influencer posts. The power of the glossy, glamorous side of influencers remains undeniable for the moment – possibly because of a demand for escapism. And if some influencers lost followers while in Dubai, research from Rouge Media found Maura Higgins, who also appeared on Love Island, gained over 150,000 more.
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