TIME celebrities

Kim Kardashian Talks Hillary Clinton, Gun Control and Feminism

"I guess people would call me a feminist," she said. "I just do what makes me comfortable"

Kim Kardashian got serious Tuesday night at an event in San Francisco, where she discussed gun control, feminism and whether the U.S. will elect its first female president next year.

Kardashian was interviewed by retired state judge LaDoris Cordell in an event organized by the prestigious Commonwealth Club of California, an institution founded in 1903 that has previously hosted speakers like Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr. When Cordell asked Kardashian to give the audience an idea to change the world, she answered, “Gun control.” She also said she hopes Hillary Clinton will be the first female U.S. president. But when asked whether she’s a feminist, Kardashian said “I don’t like labels.” She said she wouldn’t use that word but didn’t distance herself from the phrase. “I guess people would call me a feminist,” she said. “I just do what makes me comfortable.”

The Keeping Up With the Kardashians star said she has consciously flipped the script on media objectification of women, and taken control of her own image. “You really can take that power and put out what you want people to look at,” she said. Even her new book of selfies, entitled Selfish, is an exercise in purposeful self-objectification, as she explained: “I’ve taken them … I’m proud of them … I have the control to put out what I want, even if I’m objectifying myself.” Kardashian also noted that the key to a good selfie is excellent lighting, and said that she doesn’t use filters, ever.

Kardashian revealed that she got her start in the fashion universe after she got her dad to buy her seven pairs of Timberland Manolo Blahnik shoes (at $750 each) after she saw Jennifer Lopez wearing them in a music video, then sold them on eBay for $2,400 each. She credits that experience as proof of her early love of “selling and hustling.”

The interview in the Commonwealth Club’s “Inforum” series is part of a string of slightly more substantial interviews Kardashian has been giving in the past few weeks, including an appearance on NPR and a cover story in Rolling Stone. Some people haven’t taken kindly to the appearances, with NPR listeners writing in to complain that they were “disgusted” and that “the Kardashians represent much of what is wrong with America today.”

There was plenty of self-promotion from Kardashian during the event in San Francisco, including a video ad played before the event for her app Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. When responding to a question from Cordell about whether she promotes an “unhealthy standard of beauty,” Kardashian pivoted to speaking about how her hair care and makeup lines are affordably priced so they can be consumed by “the masses.”

But when Cordell asked Kardashian what she thought of backlash to her appearance on public radio—and at the Commonwealth Club event—she said, “I don’t know. And I really don’t care.” The crowd cheered for her, some yelling, “We love you, Mrs. West!” Still others just begged for her to take selfies with them.

TIME Crime

Visa Nixes Cards as Payment Option for Online Sex Ads

The only way to post a sex ad on Backpage.com will be through Bitcoin

Visa has joined MasterCard and American Express in agreeing to withdraw as a payment option from the adult section of Backpage.com—meaning the digital currency Bitcoin will soon be the only way to advertise sex services on the site.

The move comes after Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart in Illinois asked the heads of Visa and MasterCard to withdraw as payment options on the adult section of the site, as part of his crusade to take down Backpage.com, which is widely criticized as a sex trafficking hub. Dart’s office says that Backpage.com has posted over 1.4 million ads for sex in April alone, and that many of the women being advertised are trafficking victims under the control of violent pimps.

Users must pay a small fee (usually $5-$17) to post an ad on the adult page, and Backpage.com earns $9 million in revenue per month from adult services ads alone, according to a spokesman for Dart’s office. The goal of the campaign is to make it harder for pimps and traffickers to place the ads, by removing the most convenient way to pay that small ad placement fee, forcing them to resort to Bitcoin. A request for comment from Backpage.com was not immediately returned.

“Backpage has significantly lowered the barrier to entry for would-be sex traffickers, giving them easy access to millions of johns while cloaking them in anonymity and putting all risk on the shoulders of their victims,” Dart said Wednesday in a statement. “Raising that barrier will lead to less would-be sex traffickers entering the business as well as less victims.”

Dart privately asked the CEOs to withdraw on Monday—MasterCard announced the change on Tuesday, and on Wednesday Visa followed suit. Visa is suspending the processing of payments, but a spokesman noted that a permanent removal would require a review of Backpage.com’s activities, which could take some time. But he also noted that Visa has rules preventing its card from being used for “illegal activity,” and cited the company’s “long history of working with law enforcement.”

American Express had already removed its card as a payment option on the adult section of the site before Dart made his request.

“I commend Visa, MasterCard and American Express for doing the right thing in defunding this criminal enterprise and joining us in the fight to seek justice for sex trafficking victims across the globe,” Dart said.

The move to get credit cards to withdraw from Backpage.com is part of a larger movement to get companies to do their part to stop sex trafficking. ECPAT, an international non-profit working to end child slavery and prostitution, has developed a set of guidelines for travel and hotel companies to help identify and assist victims of sex trafficking—hotel groups like Hilton and Wyndham, and airlines like Delta have already signed on and pledged to educate their staff members to be on the lookout for victims, and learn how to best help them.

TIME trafficking

Mastercard Agrees to Withdraw Support from Backpage.com

American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa credit cards are displayed for a photograph in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, May 18, 2010. Credit-card firms caught off-guard by U.S. Senate passage of curbs on debit fees are facing what one executive sees as a "volcanic" eruption of legislation, including possible limits on interest rates. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bloomberg/Getty Images

As part of an effort to fight sex trafficking

Mastercard has agreed to withdraw as an ad payment option on the adult section of Backpage.com, after Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart asked credit card companies to pull support from a site that is often used for trafficking and prostitution.

The Chicago-area sheriff wrote to Mastercard CEO Ajaypal Banga on Monday requesting the change, and on Tuesday the company agreed to sever ties with the adult section of the site, citing “rules that prohibit our cards from being used for illegal or brand-damaging activities.” American Express has already withdrawn as a payment option. Requests for comment from Visa were not immediately returned.

Further details about Dart’s initiative to fight trafficking by taking on Backpage.com will be announced Wednesday.

If the Sheriff’s effort succeeds, it will become increasingly more difficult for pimps to place ads for sex. Backpage.com charges a small fee to place adult ads, which can cost anywhere from $5 to $17 and bring the website about $9 million in revenue per month, according to Dart’s office, and 1.4 million ads for sex were placed in April alone. Right now, the only way to post an ad is to pay the small fee through Visa, Mastercard or Bitcoin.

“Backpage has significantly lowered the barrier to entry for would-be sex traffickers, giving them easy access to millions of johns while cloaking them in anonymity and putting all risk on the shoulders of their victims. Raising that barrier will lead to less would-be sex traffickers entering the business as well as less victims,” said Dart in a statement.

He added that he asked Visa and Mastercard to “defund this criminal enterprise and join us in the fight to seek justice for sex trafficking victims across the globe.”

TIME celebrities

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner Split Up

People broke the news

Bennifer is no more, People magazine has exclusively learned.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner announced their divorce Tuesday, just one day after their 10-year anniversary. “After much thought and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to divorce,” the power couple told People in a statement.

Affleck and Garner met on the set of the film Daredevil in 2003, and now have three kids: Violet, 9, Serafina, 6, and Samuel, 3. The Oscar-winning actor and director famously raised eyebrows in 2013 when he described his marriage as “work” when accepting the Best Picture Oscar for Argo.

Read more at People.com

TIME

British Man Breaks Crowdfunding Site Trying to Bail Out Greece

People waving flags at Syntagma square.  Greeks demonstrate
Pacific Press—LightRocket via Getty Images People waving flags at Syntagma square. (George Panagakis--Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

But don't hold your breath

A British man has started a crowdfunding site to raise funds for a bailout for Greece, and he’s already raised over $230,000– about 0.01% of what Greece needs.

Thom Feeney, a marketing manager who lives in the U.K., decided he would do his part to solve the Greek financial crisis one Internet user at a time, by asking for donations via crowdfunding site Indiegogo:

The IndieGogo page has since crashed, but Feeney has promised it will be back up and running shortly.

Unfortunately, the campaign ends in a week, and under Indiegogo rules if a fixed-funding project like this one is not fully funded by the deadline, the campaign doesn’t get the money.

And Greece is so deep in the hole that even if the site kept raising over $230,000 per day, CBC reports, it would take 24 years to reach the $2.1 billion goal.

 

TIME public health

California Governor Jerry Brown Signs Mandatory Vaccine Law

Law abolishes exemptions for personal beliefs

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a mandatory school vaccination bill into law Tuesday, abolishing the “personal belief” exemption that many parents use as a loophole to avoid vaccinating their children.

Now, under California law, which is among the strictest in the country, children would not be able to enroll in public school unless they have been vaccinated against diseases like measles and whooping cough. The law includes an exemption for children who have a medical reason to remain unvaccinated (like an immune system disorder) and can prove it with a doctor’s note. Parents who decline to vaccinate their children for personal or religious reasons will have to home-school them or send them to a public independent study program off school grounds.

Students who are unvaccinated because of “personal belief” who are already in public elementary school can stay until they’re in 7th grade, and then the parents will either have to vaccinate them or home-school them. Daycare students can stay until kindergarten, when they have to be either vaccinated or home-schooled. In the fall of 2014, almost 3% of California kindergartners were unvaccinated because of personal belief. Preschools in the most affluent areas are also the least likely to vaccinate, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The bill was proposed after a measles outbreak at Disneyland infected more 150 people, and many needed to be hospitalized. Supporters of the law argue that it is based on medical consensus that vaccinations improve public health. Opponents—who have been picketing outside the California legislature—argue that it’s an attack on personal freedom.

TIME dance

Misty Copeland Becomes First Black Principal Ballerina at American Ballet Theater

First black woman promoted to principal dancer in company's 75-year history

The American Ballet Theater has promoted Misty Copeland to principal ballerina, making her the first black female principal ballerina in the company’s 75-year history.

Copeland, who has been with the company for 14 years and danced as a soloist for 8, is one of the most widely visible ballerinas dancing today, with fame spreading far beyond the ballet world. She has written two books (Firebird, a children’s book, and Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, a memoir,) presented at the Tony’s, made an ad for Under Armour that got over 8 million views, and was honored this year as one of the TIME 100. Last week, she became the first African-American ballerina to dance Swan Lake at the Metropolitan Opera House.

Under Armour released a statement congratulating Copeland on her promotion, calling her “a woman who is driven not by her detractors, but by her desire to be great.”

“Something that my mother instilled in me, as a biracial woman herself, and me being biracial, was that the world was going to view me as a black woman, no matter what I decided to do,” Copeland said at the TIME 100 gala in April. “I had no idea that that was going to be my truth at some point in my life, when I moved to New York City at 17 years old and joined American Ballet Theater and realized I was the only African American woman in a company of 80 dancers.”

“I never saw a ballerina who looked like me before,” noting that black ballerinas like Raven Wilkinson have mentored her, and inspired her to “try and open up the doors for the history of African American ballerinas that I feel is just not told.”

“And I’m here to be a vessel for all these brown ballerinas who have come before me,” she said.

 

TIME Supreme Court

Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Union Fee Collection

The Supreme Court Issues Orders On Lethal Injection And Redistricting
Mark Wilson—Getty Images An American flag flies over the U.S. Supreme Court June 29, 2015 in Washington, DC. ( Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The case could affect 7 million public sector employees in 20 states

The Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it will hear a pivotal case against public-sector unions, deciding whether those unions can collect mandatory fees from non-members who benefit from collective bargaining.

The challenge comes from 10 non-unionized public school teachers in California who argue that paying the fee violates their free speech rights. They’re asking the Supreme Court to overturn a precedent from the 1970s that allows public sector unions to charges fees to non-union workers as long as the funds are not used for political activity.

California teachers’ unions and state Attorney General Kamala Harris have opposed the challenge, while conservative Justices have criticized the union precedent in the past. The case could affect 7 million public sector employees in 20 states, Reuters reports.

[Reuters]

 

TIME White House

Obama’s Approval Rating Cracks 50%

President Obama Joins Mourners At Funeral Of Rev. Clementa Pinckney
Joe Raedle—Getty Images President Barack Obama delivers the eulogy for South Carolina state senator and Rev. Clementa Pinckney during Pinckney's funeral service on June 26, 2015 in Charleston, S.C.

After he sang 'Amazing Grace' on television and had a big week in the Supreme Court

President Barack Obama’s approval rating cracked 50% following a week of dramatic news events, marking the highest ratings for his presidency since 2013.

A CNN/ORC poll found that 50% of Americans approve of Obama’s handling of the presidency, after a week that included Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act, as well as several statements on race and an emotional eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was killed in the Charleston shooting. Obama rounded out the week by singing “Amazing Grace” on national television at Rev. Pinckney’s funeral Friday.

The poll shows a significant jump since Obama’s 45% approval rating in May, and a dip in his disapproval rating, to 47%. This is the first time his approval rating has hit 50% since May 2013, and the second time his disapproval rating has fallen below 50% in that stretch of time.

The breakdown on specific issues is also going Obama’s way. 52% said they approve of how Obama is handling the economy, which is the first time that particular metric has exceeded 50% in six years of CNN/ORC polling. 55% said they approve of how Obama is handling race relations, up from 50% in May.

Yet there are still persistent challenges for Obama, especially on race. 74% of Americans say racial discrimination against black people is a serious problem in America, up from 47% five years ago– among African-American respondents, that number has jumped from 42% to 80%. And 42% of Americans think that race relations have gotten worse under Obama, compared to 20% who think they’ve gotten better.

[CNN]

TIME Supreme Court

Supreme Court Keeps Texas Abortion Clinics Open for Now

Blocks restrictions from going into effect until the court decides whether to hear appeal

The Supreme Court voted Monday to temporarily block several abortion restrictions in Texas until the court decides whether to take the case on appeal.

The Court voted 5-4 to grant an emergency reprieve from the restrictions, which would have forced many Texas abortion clinics to close. Earlier this month, a lower court upheld the two restrictions, which would have required abortion clinics to meet the same building, equipment and staffing standards that surgery hospitals must meet, and required physicians who administer abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. If upheld, the restrictions would force half the abortion clinics in Texas to close, leaving the state with fewer than a dozen clinics. Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Anthony M. Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were the five majority votes, according to SCOTUSblog.

The Fifth Circuit Court previously sided with the Texas legislature, writing that the restrictions “protect the health and welfare of women seeking abortions,” and adding that “there is no question that this is a legitimate purpose that supports regulating physicians and the facilities in which they perform abortions.” Major medical groups like the American Medical Association say that the restrictions “impede, rather than serve, public health objectives,” and reproductive rights advocates say they’re expressly designed to restrict access to abortion.

“We are grateful the Supreme Court has stepped in to protect women’s access to safe, legal abortion, for now. Restricting or banning abortion blocks women from getting safe medical care,” Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said in a statement. “This dangerous law never should have passed in the first place — which is why we need to elect leaders who will champion women’s health and rights.”

The Supreme Court decision does not strike down the restrictions—it merely prevents them from going into effect until the Court decides whether or not to hear an appeal from the clinics. If the law stays as it is, the abortion regulations in Texas will be among the most restrictive in the country.

The Court is also hearing a similar case from Mississippi, involving the requirement that doctors get admitting privileges at a local hospital. If the Court upholds that restriction, the last remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi may be forced to close. The Court may issue a decision on that case as early as Tuesday.

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