TIME Music

Country Singers Ty Herndon and Billy Gilman Both Come Out

The stars took to media -- traditional and social -- to reveal their sexual orientation

Not one, but two country music singers publicly revealed they were gay on Thursday, marking a significant event in the country music world.

First Ty Herndon, the 52-year-old singer of hit singles in the ’90s such as “I Want My Goodbye Back” and “Loved Too Much”, told People, “I’m an out, proud and happy gay man.” Herndon also said that he’d been out to family and friends for some time and that his ex-wives — he’s been married twice before — knew of his sexuality.

Following Herndon’s announcement, 26-year-old Billy Gilman, whose song “One Voice” was released when he was only 11 years-old, felt emboldened to make his own announcement, this time on YouTube.

In the video, Gilman reveals that he’s in a relationship and that he wanted to come out on his own terms, after he and his partner were photographed by a reporter.

The news marks a momentous occasion for the country music industry, which both artists suggested had an intolerant outlook. In his video, Gilman reveals, “It’s difficult for me to make this video, not because I’m ashamed of being a gay male artist, or a gay artist or a gay person, but it’s pretty silly to know that I’m ashamed of doing this knowing that I’m in a genre and an industry that’s ashamed of me for being me.”

 

TIME Music

Arcade Fire’s Will Butler Is Releasing a Solo Album

The multi-intrumentalist and Oscar-nominated composer will be releasing his first solo album in March, 2015

Will Butler is putting out a solo album.

The longtime member of Montreal band, Arcade Fire, is preparing to go it alone on a new album due out March 10, 2015. The album, called Policy, will be released through Merge Records, which put out Arcade Fire’s most recent album, 2013′s Reflektor. News of Butler’s upcoming record — along with an album cover — was shared on social media via an Aracade Fire news account:

Butler joined Arcade Fire just a few years after his older brother, lead vocalist Win Butler, founded the group in 2001. Will, who not only composes music but also plays synthesizer, bass, guitar and percussion, was also nominated for an Academy Award earlier this year for Best Original Score for the movie Her.

[Pitchfork]

TIME Companies

Uber Investigating Executive Over Use of ‘God View’ to Spy on User

After spate of bad publicity

Uber said Tuesday that it’s investigating one of its top New York executives for tracking a reporter without her permission.

The ride-sharing App has a system known as “God View,” BuzzFeed reports, in which the location of Uber vehicles and waiting customers are “widely available to corporate employees.” BuzzFeed reports that an executive used this system to track one of its reporters while she was working on a story about the company that has put it under fire for revelations that an executive raised the prospect of investigating journalists.

Early this November, one of the reporters of this story, Johana Bhuiyan, arrived to Uber’s New York headquarters in Long Island City for an interview with Josh Mohrer, the general manager of Uber New York. Stepping out of her vehicle — an Uber car — she found Mohrer waiting for her. “There you are,” he said, holding his iPhone and gesturing at it. “I was tracking you.”

Mohrer never asked for permission to track her.

[BuzzFeed]

TIME feminism

Watch Notorious Pick-Up Artist Julien Blanc Say Sorry

The disgraced PUA told CNN: "I feel horrible"

After widespread backlash from around the world, notorious pick-up artist (PUA) Julien Blanc has attempted to apologize for causing offence.

The self-described “leader in dating advice,” Blanc works for LA-based company Real Social Dynamics and travels the world teaching seminars and “bootcamps” to men on how to meet and seduce women. Though he’s certainly not the first PUA to cause controversy, many felt that Blanc crossed the line from sexist and offensive to violent and dangerous when videos and photos surfaced of him describing and demonstrating grabbing women and forcing their heads into his crotch.

In one video, he can be heard telling a group of men, “In Tokyo, if you’re a white male,” Blanc says in one video to a room full of rapt men, “you can do what you want. I’m just romping through the streets, just grabbing girls’ heads, just like, head, pfft on the d–k. Head, on the d–k, yelling, ‘Pikachu.’”

MORE: Julien Blanc: Is he the most hated man in the world?

But after the backlash prompted the Australian government to revoke his visa and other countries around the world to consider similiar measures, Blanc said. “I 100 percent take responsibility,” Blanc told CNN. “I apologise 100 percent for it. I’m extremely sorry. I feel horrible, I’m not going to be happy if I feel like I’m the most hated man in the world. I’m overwhelmed by the way people are responding.”

Blanc also maintained that he did not teach his customers to choke or abuse women and passed off a picture of him with his hand around a woman’s neck as a “horrible, horrible attempt at humour.” He added that much of the controversy was over comments and actions that had been “taken out of context in a way.”

Yet he did assure Cuomo that he would be “re-evaluating” everything he had put out online and everything he would be putting out in the future.

[CNN]

TIME Britain

Watch as the Man Who Wants to Be Britain’s Next Prime Minister is Taken Down by a Former Pop Singer

Myleene Klass attacked Ed Milliband over policy for a new tax on properties worth more than $3 million

Ed Miliband, the beleaguered leader of Britain’s opposition party Labour, was taken down on Monday night by a surprising foe: former UK pop star and television presenter Myleene Klass.

The clash took place on the UK panel show The Agenda, where both Miliband, who hopes to be voted in as Britain’s next prime minister in next year’s election, and Klass appeared as guests. Klass wasted no time in taking Miliband to task for his party’s proposed tax on homes worth £2 million ($3.1 million) or more — widely known as the “mansion tax” — in order to put more funds into the country’s National Health Service (NHS).

“For me, it’s so disturbing – the name in its own right: ‘mansion tax’” said Klass, who rose to fame in the early aughts, when she took part in Simon Cowell’s reality TV show Popstars. “When you do look at the people who will be suffering this tax, it’s true a lot of them are grannies who have had these houses in their families for a long, long time. The people who are the super, super rich buying their houses for £140 million, this is not necessarily going to affect them because they’ve got their tax rebates and amazing accountants. It’s going to be the little grannies who have lived in those houses for years and years.”

For his part, Miliband seemed unprepared for the attack, in spite of recent criticism in the UK press and rumors of backlash from within his own party. He responded to the criticism by noting, “I totally understand that people don’t like paying more in tax. The values of my government are going to be different to the values of this [current Conservative] government.”

Yet Klass continued to grill the politician on precise figures, while questioning whether the tax would actually help improve national health care.

“You may as well just tax me on this glass of water. You can’t just point at things and tax them,” she said.

Many people watching the interview took to social media to comment on Miliband’s weak defense:

 

 

 

 

Of course, there were also viewers who were turned off by Klass — who has an estimated net worth of £11 million ($17.2 million) — arguing that a tax on millionaires would cause suffering:

 

 

 

TIME Crime

Revenge Porn: Man Jailed In Britain As US Lawmakers Prepare New Legislation

15 states have outlawed revenge porn but it is legal in most of the US

As modern technology has allowed for the rise of selfies and sexting, it has also allowed for a new form of betrayal: revenge porn. The act of posting or sharing explicit images or videos of a person without his or her consent can wreak havoc on a person’s personal and professional life.

In the UK last week, campaigners scored a win as Luke King, a 21-year-old man from Nottingham, England, became the first man in Britain to be jailed for posting revenge porn.

A 12-week sentence was handed down on Nov. 14, after King pleaded guilty to harassment, after posting a naked image of his ex-girlfriend to the mobile messaging service WhatsApp. The woman, who hasn’t been named, had sent King the photo while they were still together. After the break-up, King threatened to upload the photo, which is when his ex first reported him to police. Although he was warned by police that posting the image online would be a crime, King followed through with his threat in August.

King’s case is the first in Britain since it was announced in October that a new legal amendment will deal with revenge porn directly. King was prosecuted under an existing law, the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, but those found guilty under the new amendment — which is currently going through Parliament — could face up to two years in prison.

The District Crown Prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service East Midlands, Peter Shergill, said at sentencing, “Prosecutors are now following guidance issued in October that clarifies how we can use existing legislation to prosecute perpetrators of these intrusive offences.”

But the direct attack on revenge porn that the UK has taken raises the question of whether the US will follow suit.

There is no current US federal law against revenge porn, because, as University of Pennsylvania law professor Paul H. Robinson notes, “under the US Constitution it is the states that have the police power and it’s not within the power of the federal government to create criminal law offenses unless there is some special federal interest.”

And, in fact, many states have been making moves to criminalize revenge porn. According to the End Revenge Porn campagin, 15 US states already have passed laws against revenge porn and those laws actually have been used to prosecute men who’ve posted naked photos of their former partners. Another seven states have also introduced legislature against revenge porn. The problem, however, lies in the many remaining states where revenge porn is legal.

Though some believe that existing laws against harassment or copyright infringement could be used to tackle the problem, many individual cases have proven that revenge porn often slips through the cracks. As Danielle Citron, a law professor at the University of Maryland and the author of Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, noted in Slate last year, “Harassment laws only apply if the defendant is persistent in his or her cruelty.” Posting a single explicit image to a highly-trafficked site could have disastrous consequences for the person pictured, but it wouldn’t count as “persistent.” What’s more, copyright only applies if the image was a selfie as the photographer (or videographer) owns the rights to the image.

So what will it take to ensure that revenge porn is illegal across all of the US?

According to Mary Anne Franks, a University of Miami law professor who is working with Californian Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier to draft a federal bill that would criminalize revenge porn if passed, pushing a nationwide ban has been difficult because “there’s a general prioritization of the First Amendment in the US” and “we [have been] slow to come to the realization that this isn’t an infringement of free speech.”

To pass US-wide laws, it’s essential, according to Franks, to reframe revenge porn from a free speech issue into a privacy issue. “We don’t view an image of someone’s naked body as [deserving of] the same privacy as someone’s medical records,” she says, but suggests views are shifting.

Franks notes that campaigns such as End Revenge Porn, which is part of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, and Women Against Revenge Porn have done much to spread awareness about the issue — 12 of the 15 states with laws against revenge porn passed them within the past two years. That awareness, along with the widely publicized hacking of celebrity nude photos, has done much to shift people’s perceptions about the harm that posting a nude image without someone’s consent can cause.

Unfortunately, until all of the US is covered by anti-revenge porn laws, there are millions of people for whom a total loss of privacy is only a vengeful upload away.

TIME feminism

Is This the Most Hated Man in the World?

Pickup artist Julien Blanc has been forced to leave Australia. Britain and Canada are also considering a ban

Is Julien Blanc the most hated man in the world? A series of online petitions against him suggest he might be.

Blanc, who describes himself as the “international leader in dating advice,” is a self-styled pickup artist (PUA) who travels around the U.S. and around the world, teaching seminars to men on how to meet and seduce women. On Nov. 6, Australia revoked Blanc’s visa before he held a seminar in Melbourne after an online Change.org petition argued he promoted “violence and emotional abuse against women.” The petition received thousands of signatures. After Blanc’s visa was revoked — and Victoria police confirmed that he had left the country — Australia’s Immigration Minister Scott Morrison explained the government’s position, saying, “This guy wasn’t putting forward political ideas, he was putting forward abuse that was derogatory to women and that’s just something, those are values abhorred in this country.”

But it seems like Australia’s not alone, as the backlash against Blanc has spread and petitions have cropped up to bar him from teaching seminars in the Japan, Canada, the U.K. and Brazil, among others.

PUAs have been around for years, selling themselves as dating gurus and charging men to attend seminars and conferences on learning the art of seduction. (For Blanc’s services, a course runs from $197 for 23 instructional videos to $497 for the videos and a ticket to a live event.) But while PUAs have always been controversial for their often sexist attitudes and demeaning views of human nature, Blanc seems to take the whole notion of the Game to an entirely different level. His now locked Twitter account includes statements like, “Dear girls, could you please save me the effort and roofie your own drink?”

Meanwhile, videos of his seminars show him advocating — and even demonstrating — his particular techniques which include grabbing women by the throat or forcing women’s heads into his crotch. “At least in Tokyo, if you’re a white male,” Blanc says in one video to a room full of rapt men, “you can do what you want. I’m just romping through the streets, just grabbing girls’ heads, just like, head, pfft on the d–k. Head, on the d–k, yelling, ‘Pikachu.’” As many of Blanc’s critics have pointed out, this doesn’t qualify as dating advice, it’s assault.

Sarah Green, spokesperson for the U.K.-based End Violence Against Women Coalition, told TIME in an email, “We hope the Home Office will look at all the evidence available about Julien Blanc’s activities and refuse him a visa. His so-called pickup coaching promotes behavior amounting to sexual harassment and sexual assault. His comments and abuse of Asian women are deeply racist.”

Blanc is just one instructor employed by the U.S.-based group Real Social Dynamics (RSD), which bills itself as the “World’s top dating coaching, self-actualization & social dynamics company” and holds seminars and “boot camps” around the world for men who are looking for advice on chatting up women. RSD has been around for years, but the widespread backlash against the group — and Blanc — is a recent phenomenon. (Neither Blanc nor RSD responded to TIME’s request for a comment.)

The backlash to Blanc gained momentum when Jenn Li, a Chinese-American woman living in Washington, D.C., came across the video of his lecture about Japanese women, which she found “horrifying.” Writing in the Independent, she described why she was inspired to start the hashtag #TakeDownJulienBlanc. “By perpetuating the idea that Asian women are a ‘free for all’ for predatory men, he is encouraging other pathetic men to abuse them.”

She also began posting the details about upcoming RSD events on Twitter and encouraging people to pressure the venues to cancel them, as well as sharing tweets and Facebook posts from Blanc, which she found offensive.

This week, her campaign has picked up steam. What’s more, other governments seem open to following the example from Down Under. Canada’s Citizen and Immigration Officer Chris Alexander responded to the Canadian Change.org petition on Twitter, posting:

Meanwhile, the U.K.’s petition has already garnered some 70,000 signatures and significant attention from the press. (Though there is a competing Change.org petition in the U.K., started by a Julian Noir, which advocates for the Home Office to not deny Blanc a visa, which the petition equates with “censorship,” it has received little attention in comparison.) When asked about the petition by TIME, the U.K.’s Home Office noted that they did not comment on individual cases, but added that Theresa May, Britain’s Home Secretary, “has the power to exclude an individual if she considers that his or her presence in the U.K. is not conducive to the public good.”

Read next: Watch This Woman Get Harassed 108 Times While Walking in New York City

TIME U.K.

Here’s Why Britain Is Freaking Out About Sandwiches

A right-of center newspaper sounds the alarm over the country's perceived lack of qualified sandwich-makers

On its Monday front page, right-of-center British newspaper The Daily Mail splashed out with a particularly pressing question: “Is There No One Left In Britain Who Can Make A Sandwich?”

The headline and subsequent story describes the challenges facing an Irish convenience food producer called Greencore Group, which supplies prepared sandwiches to the majority of Britain’s supermarkets. According to The Daily Mail, Greencore Group’s new factory in England hasn’t been able to recruit enough born-and-bred Brits to its staff and so they’ll be looking to hire hundreds of workers from eastern Europe. As the Mail has long been known to take issue with immigration policies in the U.K., the sputtering headline isn’t exactly a surprise.

The Mail‘s attempt to start a conversation about immigration instead turned into social media pile-on — with many taking to Twitter to jokily note the headline’s prescience, and sharing photos of their own botched attempts to make a decent sandwich:

Read next: See Kate Middleton’s Stunning Fashion Evolution

TIME food and drink

5 Things You Need To Know About Japanese Whisky

Food Japanese Whisky
From left are Hibiki 12-year-old, Yamazaki 18 and 12-year-old Japanese whiskys at the Rickhouse bar in San Francisco, Aug. 6, 2010. Eric Risberg—AP

A single-malt from Japan has been named the best whisky in the world for the first time. Here's why you shouldn't be all that surprised

The whisky world was shocked on Tuesday, when it was announced that the 2015 edition of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible had named Suntory’s Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 the best whisky in the world — the first time the honor has gone to a whisky from Japan. Even more of a shock, particularly to the Scottish who pride themselves on their whisky, for the first time in the 12 years the Whisky Bible has been published, not a single Scotch made the top five.

But perhaps the surprise is unwarranted. After all, Japanese whisky has been a rising star in the spirits world for some time now. So, in honor of the big win, here are five things you should know about Japanese whisky.

It’s The New Kid on the Block — Japanese whisky has been commercially produced since since the early 1920s, when the Yamazaki distillery was first built near Kyoto. Throughout the 20th century, Japanese whiskies were primarily sold and consumed within Japan, yet they’ve become increasingly popular in Europe and North American in recent years.

Production — Japanese whiskies were first modelled on Scottish whiskies — Suntory’s first master distiller Masataka Taketsuru studied in Scotland and wanted to bring the drink home — so they are produced in much the same way, distilled twice using pot stills. Many distilleries even use malted and sometimes peated barley imported from Scotland.

About That Missing “E” — As Japanese whisky has much in common with Scottish whiskies, rather than the Irish or American varieties, its name follows the Scotch tradition and is spelled without an “e.”

Pop Culture Moment — Japanese whisky makes a prominent appearance in 2003′s Lost in Translation. In the film, Bill Murrary’s character Bob Harris is a washed-up actor who heads to Japan to shill for Suntory whisky. Tag line: “For relaxing times, make it Suntory time.”

In real life, it was actually actor Sean Connery who appeared in Suntory commericals in the 1990s.

It’s a Winner – The World Whisky Bible coup isn’t the first time Japanese whisky has been recognized with an international award. In 2001, Nikka’s Yoichi whisky was named the “Best of the Best” in an international tasting by Whisky Magazine. Then, in 2003, Suntory’s 30-year-old Hibiki won the top award at the International Spirits Challenge and Suntory went on to earn awards at the competition for the next 11 years.

TIME Books

J.K. Rowling Felt the ‘Purest Dislike’ for Harry Potter Villain Dolores Umbridge

J.K. Rowling at the Southbank Centre in London in 2012.
J.K. Rowling at the Southbank Centre in London in 2012. Lefteris Pitarakis—AP

"Every bit as reprehensible as Lord Voldemort’s unvarnished espousal of evil”

Just in time for Halloween, Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling published a new essay Friday about one of her greatest villains: the Hogwarts professor and witch, Dolores Umbridge.

The nasty Umbridge is one of the characters for whom Rowling “feel[s] the purest dislike,” according to the 1,700-word essay, posted to her website Pottermore (account required). “Her desire to control, to punish, and to inflict pain, all in the name of law and order, are, I think, every bit as reprehensible as Lord Voldemort’s unvarnished espousal of evil.”

Rowling also reveals that Umbridge is actually based on a real-life person, though the author is careful not to reveal her identity. She does reveal that “[t]he woman in question returned my antipathy with interest. Why we took against each other so instantly, heartily and (on my side, at least) irrationally, I honestly cannot say.”

Harry Potter fans have long been familiar with Umbridge and her cruel ways, as the character was first introduced in the 2003 novel Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. At the time, Umbridge was the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister for Magic.

But Rowling also reveals new details about Umbridge in her Pottermore essay, including the fact that Umbridge is a “half-blood”—the daughter of a wizard and a Muggle (a regular person). The author also writes that when Umbridge forced Harry, who was in detention at the time, to cut the words “I must not tell lies” onto the back of his hand, she became the only person other than Lord Voldemort to leave a permanent physical scar on the boy wizard.

In addition to the new essay about Umbridge, Rowling has also published more brand new writing to Pottermore for Halloween and to celebrate the launch of The Order of the Phoenix onto the website. The new entries include details about the creatures Thestrals, the history of the wizarding prison Azkaban, Rowling’s thoughts on professor Sybil Trelawney and an introduction to the wizarding practice of Naming Seers.

Read next: Harry Potter Site Teases New J.K. Rowling Story

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser