It still hurts like it did before I knew why it does
9/11, two decades later. Plus: The fall-perfect chunky crewneck sweater that’ll serve as the counterpart to the preferred skinny pants I live in year-round.
I was a sophomore in Mrs. Nelson’s AP English class when she stopped mid-sentence to look at the CNN live feed on the TV most of us forgot was even there because we almost never used it. The volume was off. But, seriously, who needed to hear words when the image itself was so unspeakable?
It wasn’t until I got home to see my mom sitting on the couch, eyes puffy and shoulders slumped. She had no business being anywhere except the bed, days removed from a serious surgery. But she’d already lived long enough to recognize the tragedy this day would always be memorialized as.
Two decades later, it still hurts like it did before I knew why it does. But millions of Americans will recast that pain into tributes to those lost — including heroic first responders, the untold others who serve to defend the nation’s freedom at home and around the world, and the everyday people who were the apples of their loved ones’ eyes. And it’s too bad the political and cultural legacy of 9/11 has been mired by inhumane torture operations, increased state surveillance and what arguably became an excessive dependence on drone strikes at the expense of civilian lives. BTW, Netflix has an excellent docuseries on all of the above — highly recommended…)
President Joe Biden will visit all three sites where planes crashed in New York City, Shanksville, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon on Saturday. (Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff will attend a separate event and then join the president and first lady Jill Biden at the Pentagon.) And If you’re looking for ways to serve on tomorrow’s National Day of Service and Remembrance, AmeriCorps has partnered with VolunteerMatch to create a useful search tool to host and share volunteer opportunities from around the country.
I wrote about the expiration of three federal unemployment programs, which gave privileged politicians like Sen. Ted Cruz a fresh opportunity to fall back on tired stereotypes instead of stepping up for the people who need them the most:
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young Americans and the number is even higher for LGBTQ+ and Native American youth. As we remember those lives lost, it’s our responsibility to treat suicide as the public health crisis it is and demand our elected officials to address the underlying risk factors so Americans have the mental health services they need and deserve. If you or a loved one are thinking about suicide, please know that you are not alone and help is available 24/7 by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or through the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
Americans are on board with vax requirements. A recent poll found that majorities of Americans are in favor of people having to show proof of vaccination to travel by airplane, stay in a hotel, attend events with large crowds, dine in a restaurant and go to their office or work site.
POTUS unveiled a six-point pandemic response plan. President Biden delivered a speech yesterday evening focused on the economic recovery from the pandemic and keeping schools open as millions of students have returned to in-person learning environments this year. Biden also signed an executive order requiring all federal employees to be vaccinated within 75 days and is mandating companies with 100 or more employees to require vaccines. Initiatives to encourage boosters shots, increase testing, masks mandates and improvements to patient care were featured in the president’s address too.
Biden announced another round of diverse judicial appointments. I’ve been paying close attention to who the judge is nominating since the federal judiciary hasn’t really ever reflected the diversity of the country. But as with his six previous rounds of noms, Biden’s latest picks are what’s up. They include:
Three new Latino nominees
A nominee who would the first Korean-American woman to serve as a federal appellate judge
A nominee who would be the first Black woman to serve on the Ninth Circuit, as well as the second Black woman to ever serve on the Ninth Circuit, which has the power to reverse or uphold decisions in federal district courts in Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and California, the nation’s biggest state.
A nominee who would be the only active Black woman district court judge in any of California’s four federal district courts.
The White House hosted HBCU week in partnership with the Education Department. The virtual conference convened key influencers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities to improve instruction, degree completion and federal engagement, all of which strengthen the role of HBCUs. A combination of live and pre-recorded remarks were delivered by the president, several Cabinet secretaries, Dr. Anthony Fauci and members of the Congressional HBCU Caucus. “HBCUs are engines of opportunity, social mobility, and economic prosperity for the students they serve,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said. “Since their founding, these vital institutions have played a crucial role in educating students to lead thriving lives and in reversing long-standing inequities across systems in America.”
Related: Biden announced his intention to appoint the president of Delaware State University as chair of the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs. Dr. Tony Allen has led DSU to US News’s third-ranked public HBCU in less than two years, an R2 “high-research activity” designation and overseen the university’s “Together” pandemic-response plan that’s been touted as a national example of campus safety strategy, resulting in record enrollment.
The Department of Justice sued Texas over its new unconstitutional anti-abortion law. Reports say the law has brought most abortions to a halt due to canceled appointments and fear from clinics of being forced to pay thousands of dollars in penalties if found to be in violation of the law. I’ll probably have more to say on this next week so stay tuned.
Related: The Women’s March announced a 50-state nationwide protest against the Texas law on Oct. 2. You can host a march or donate to support the cause.
Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota revealed she was diagnosed with Stage 1A breast cancer in February. She completed a course of radiation treatment in May and learned in August that the treatment went well. “It’s easy to put off health screenings, just like I did,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “But I hope my experience is a reminder for everyone of the value of routine health checkups, exams and follow-through.”
The California Senate approved new regulations for companies like Amazon that rely on substantial numbers of warehouse workers. Companies will now be required to disclose the productivity metrics it sets for workers and allow employees to challenge quotas that they allege prevent them from taking breaks or endanger their well-being.
Related: Amazon will offer to pay 100 percent of college tuition for its 750,000 US hourly employees. The benefit will reportedly apply to hundreds of education institutions across the country and is part of a larger company initiative that also covers high school diploma programs, GEDs and English as a second language certifications for employees.
One of the Exonerated Five is running for the New York Senate. Yusef Salaam, who was wrongly accused with four other Black and brown boys of raping a white jogger in Central Park in 1989, plans to campaign for the seat being vacated by state Sen. Brian Benjamin, New York’s new lieutenant governor. Salaam spent nearly seven years in jail on first-degree rape and robbery charges before his conviction was ultimately vacated along with the other men.
Climate change is the greatest threat to public health (duh). Several renowned medical journals published a joint op-ed warning that repeated extreme weather disasters, such as hurricanes and fires, can lead to mental health problems and instability as residents are displaced, while infectious diseases are expected to rise.
Related: The climate crisis is so bad even Christian leaders are sounding the alarms. “Today, we are paying the price [of the climate emergency] … Tomorrow could be worse,” a statement from global faith leaders said. “This is a critical moment. Our children’s future and the future of our common home depend on it.”
Take this quiz to see which party you’d belong to if America had more than two. (Longtime readers of this newsletter shouldn’t be surprised at my results.)
Apple is expected to announce new iPhones next Tuesday. Experts also expect a new Apple Watch and rumor has it an updated version of Apple's AirPods wireless earbuds could be revealed.
Related: Apple has refused to make a clear exception for workplace harassment and discrimination in its non-disclosure agreements. A group of activists and Apple shareholders filed a resolution to pressure Apple to make the change. Company lawyers argue the exception is already covered in Apple’s Business Conduct Policy.
Twitter launched invite-only Communities. The feature is a direct challenge to Facebook Groups and Reddit and response to people who have damn-near begged the social app to invest in the ability to tweet directly to other members — instead of just to their followers — for years. Twitter Community will have its own moderators who are able too et rules and invite or remove people and only members of a Community can like or reply to tweets sent by other members.
Related: Twitter introduced a new feature that allows accounts to self-identify as bots. It’s reportedly designed to help people better differentiate between automated accounts from those operated by humans.
Spotify launched a new feature to upgrade your playlists. It’s called “Enhance” and will add recommended songs that it thinks will fit into your playlist. The songs are marked with a bright green sparkles icon to indicate they weren’t part of your original list. You can add them permanently by tapping the plus button that appears next to the song.
Tinder introduced a new Explore section to its dating app. It will surface 15 types of interests to users based on their locations, the time of day and their own passions. The goal is deemphasize people’s looks and offer users the opportunity to find matches based on shared interests.
Facebook partnered with Ray-Ban on a pair of $300 smart glasses. The frames feature two-front facing cameras for capturing video and photos and sync with a companion camera roll app called Facebook View, where clips can be edited and shared to other apps on your phone. It’s the latest example of Facebook diversifying its business model after relying on digital ad revenue for the past decade-plus.
Britney Spears’s dad filed to end her conservatorship. The next hearing for the case is Sep. 29. “To the extent Mr. Spears believes he can try to avoid accountability and justice, including sitting for a sworn deposition and answering other discovery under oath, he is incorrect and our investigation into financial mismanagement and other issues will continue,” Mathew S. Rosengart, the pop icon’s new lawyer said in a statement.
The Met Gala, aka as fashion’s biggest night out, is on Monday. And you can stream the festivities this year.
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Robin Givhan at The Washington Post on the late Michael K. Williams and the fictional complexity of Omar, the character he brought to life on The Wire:
Omar’s angels and demons made him multidimensional, and that made him seem real in a fictionalized universe. But Omar was also an aberration. Because as real as his failings and strengths might seem, the truth is that he was as fantastical as a Marvel character. The likelihood that such a flawed but compelling Black man — one with his own moral code — might actually walk unimpeded among us is on par with the Hulk living next door.
Garrett M. Graff at The Atlantic on how the US got almost everything wrong after 9/11:
As we approach the 20th anniversary of 9/11 on Saturday, I cannot escape this sad conclusion: The United States—as both a government and a nation—got nearly everything about our response wrong, on the big issues and the little ones. The [Global War on Terror] yielded two crucial triumphs: The core al-Qaeda group never again attacked the American homeland, and bin Laden, its leader, was hunted down and killed in a stunningly successful secret mission a decade after the attacks. But the U.S. defined its goals far more expansively, and by almost any other measure, the War on Terror has weakened the nation—leaving Americans more afraid, less free, more morally compromised, and more alone in the world. A day that initially created an unparalleled sense of unity among Americans has become the backdrop for ever-widening political polarization. The nation’s failures began in the first hours of the attacks and continue to the present day. Seeing how and when we went wrong is easy in hindsight. What’s much harder to understand is how—if at all—we can make things right.
Danyel Smith at Teen Vogue on Natalia, Kobe Bryant’s daughter:
It’s not just the sunbeams and gleaming lights: Natalia is lit from within. She knows her mind, and in a way that comes to her via nature and nurture, she is comfortable in her body. She is as protected as possible. She is confident, already, in her intuition. These things contribute to her privilege as much as the wealth. Natalia the Diamond is 18, and the image of her father.
Richer Poorer Men's Cozy Knit Long Sleeve Sweater ($76): Fall-perfect chunky crewnecks like this are the perfect counterpart to the preferred skinny pants I live in year-round.