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Amazon Will No Longer Sell Books Equating LGBTQ+ Identities With Mental Illnesses

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  • Amazon said Thursday that it will no longer sell books framing LGBTQ+ identities as mental illnesses. 
  • The statement came in response to a line of questioning from four Republican senators who asked the company why it removed the 2018 book “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” last month. 
  • The book’s author argued that “When Harry Became Sally” never equates being transgender with having a mental illness, but LGBTQ+ activists have long criticized its text as “dangerous” to trans individuals.

Amazon Removes Anti-LGBTQ+ Book, Prompting Inquiry

Amazon will no longer sell books presenting LGBTQ+ identities as mental illnesses, according to a statement from the company’s Vice President of Public Policy, Brian Huseman.

Last month, Republican Sens. Marco Rubio (Fl.), Mike Lee (Ut.), Mike Braun (In.), and Josh Hawley (Mo.) all wrote to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos requesting to know why the 2018 book “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” no longer appeared on the platform. 

In a response Thursday, Huseman said, “we reserve the right not to sell certain content.”

“As to your specific question about ‘When Harry Became Sally,’ we have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness,” he added. 

As part of their letter, the four GOP senators had asked Amazon, “Is this action part of a broader campaign against conservative material and voices on Amazon’s platforms?”

In his response, Huseman said, “No. We offer customers across the political spectrum a wide variety of content that includes disparate opinions.”

The four also posed a similar question related to Amazon Web Services (AWS), which hosts a variety of religious and political websites. Responding to whether or not AWS would deny service to “content that falls outside the realm of acceptable woke groupthink,” Huseman rejected the idea.

“AWS provides technology and services to customers across the political spectrum, and we respect our customers’ right to determine for themselves what content they will allow,” he said, while also noting that AWS is a separate entity from Amazon’s retail side. 

The lawmakers’ question about AWS was likely connected to its deplatforming of Parler, an app popular with conservatives, following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. AWS has maintained that it cut ties with Parler because moderators refused to crack down on violent and racist hate speech on the platform. 

“When Harry Became Sally” Writer Pushes Back

“When Harry Became Sally” was written by conservative scholar Ryan T. Anderson, and according to the book’s description, it provides “thoughtful answers to questions arising from our transgender moment,” as well as “a balanced approach to public policy on gender identity, and a sober assessment of the human costs of getting human nature wrong.”

However, the description also states, “Everyone has something at stake in the controversies over transgender ideology, when misguided “antidiscrimination” policies allow biological men into women’s restrooms and penalize Americans who hold to the truth about human nature.”

With that description and other passages in mind, LGBTQ+ activists have derided the book as “dangerous and harmful to trans kids.”

“There’s an antiquated and shameful history of equating LGBTQ identity to mental illness,” a GLAAD spokesperson told Entertainment Weekly, “and Amazon’s decision to stop selling books that falsely equate the two is a positive step in ending the misinformation campaign against LGBTQ people, especially trans youth, meant only to cause harm.”

Meanwhile, Anderson and his publisher criticized the removal of the book in their own response to Amazon.

“Everyone agrees that gender dysphoria is a serious condition that causes great suffering,” Anderson and his publisher said. “There is a debate, however, which Amazon is seeking to shut down, about how best to treat patients who experience gender dysphoria.”

The two then accused Amazon of “using its massive power to distort the marketplace of ideas and… deceiving its own customers in the process.”

On Twitter, Anderson wrote, “Please quote the passage where I ‘call them mentally ill.’ You can’t quote that passage because it doesn’t exist.”

Many trans activists have noted that in his book, Anderson touts Dr. Paul McHugh, who is notoriously anti-trans. In fact, Anderson has even said, “In this book, I argue that Dr. McHugh got it right.”

Among other notable controversial decisions and statements, McHugh has described post-op trans women ascaricatures of women.” He has also said, “The transgendered suffer a disorder of ‘assumption.’” Outside of sexual identity, he has called homosexuality an “erroneous desire.” 

“Transgendered men do not become women, nor do transgendered women become men,” McHugh has said. “All… become feminized men or masculinized women, counterfeits or impersonators of the sex with which they ‘identify.’ In that lies their problematic future.”

In 2018, Anderson cited that passage as support for his own beliefs. 

“Sadly, just as “sex reassignment” fails to reassign sex biologically, it also fails to bring wholeness socially and psychologically,” Anderson said the same year.

A simple Twitter search of Anderson’s account also yields a 2018 tweet where he says, “Gender dysphoria is a serious mental health issue.”

“By contrast, transgenderism is a belief system that increasingly looks like a cultish religion… being forced on the public by the state,” he added.

See what others are saying: (Entertainment Weekly) (The Hill) (Wall Street Journal)

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Major Chinese Company on Verge of Collapse Could Create Economic Trouble in U.S. 

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The company, Evergrande, accumulated $305 billion in debt through a business model that some have deemed “the biggest pyramid scheme [in] the world.”


Evergrande Can’t Pay Back Loans

The Chinese real estate company Evergrande, the second-largest property developer in the country, will likely be unable to meet interest payments on $84 million in offshore bonds due this week.

That amount almost seems like chump change compared to the whopping $305 billion in debt it managed to accrue since its founding in 1996, but if Evergrande defaults on its payments and collapses, it could send shockwaves through Chinese markets and economies abroad.

At its height, Evergrande was a Fortune 500 company. In addition to real estate, it also owns a theme park, a line of electric cars, a mineral extraction group, and a soccer team; however, it has struggled to maintain its real estate business model over the last several years due to government crackdowns on how much companies can take out in loans.

Evergrande Struggling to Pay Its Debts

In the 2000s, Evergrande aggressively borrowed money from banks and other lenders to buy land from local governments that were eager to sell. As the value of land rose, it kept borrowing, ultimately driving up the price of land even more. Because of that, many discredited Evergrande’s business model as “the biggest pyramid scheme the world has yet seen.”

For years, the model did not stir up any major challenges from Chinese regulators, but in 2018, President Xi Jinping began emphasizing “financial risk” as a problem that the government needed to address. Two years later, regulators imposed a system known as “three red lines,” which was meant to curb unregulated borrowing.

Under the system, the more a company owes, the less it is allowed to borrow. Notably, Evergrande crossed all three of the “red lines,” so regulators barred it from borrowing any more money.

But Evergrande would need to generate some form of income if it wanted to stay afloat. Because of that, it pre-sold more than 1.4 million apartments it hadn’t yet finished building. In other words, Evergrande stopped borrowing from official lenders and essentially started borrowing from everyday homeowners, asking them to pay major deposits before their homes were completed. Perhaps unsurprisingly, some people have now waited years for their homes to be ready.

At one point, Evergrande even became so strapped for cash that it forced its own employees into a corner, telling them to provide the company with a short-term loan or lose their bonuses. That, in turn, led to some employees needing to take out loans through banks. 

Similar to its inability to pay back banks, earlier this month, it stopped paying back the loans from its employees. 

Amid Evergrande’s uncertainty, the company’s stock value has steadily fallen over the past year from around $4 last September to just 30 cents Tuesday. 

Will This Lead to a Global Market Crisis?

There is currently no market crisis or collapse, only concerns that one could come. 

While Evergrande’s inability to repay its lenders is unsettling enough for homeowners and the company’s employees, the effects of an Evergrande default could be much more far-reaching. 

For one, if Evergrande defaults, banks and other firms will potentially be forced to lend less given the fact that the company owes large sums of money to around 300 institutions. If that happens, it could lead to a credit crunch, meaning companies would struggle to be able to borrow money at affordable rates. Some might be forced to close up shop for good. 

On top of that, the property values of existing homes in China would likely diminish. Since homes are such a valuable asset, that would likely lead to a decrease in consumer spending.

With those two effects combined, other countries would almost undoubtedly feel the financial shock. On Monday, upon the continued news that Evergrande likely can’t pay lenders, the U.S.-based Dow Jones fell 900 points. While it has recovered somewhat, other major U.S. indices like the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ saw similar pullbacks.

Many have asked if China is about to face a “Lehman Brothers moment,” a reference to the events that caused the disastrous 2008 recession. For now, the answer is uncertain, but many analysts expect it won’t.

That’s because while a full-scale crisis isn’t off the table, many believe the Chinese government will step in to bail out Evergrande, which some have called “too big to fail.”

“Rather than risk disrupting supply chains and enraging homeowners, we think the government will probably find a way to ensure Evergrande’s core business survives,” Mattie Bekink, of the Economist Intelligence Unit, told the BBC.

Still, nothing is certain. It’s possible China could refuse to bail out Evergrande to avoid what could be seen as it setting a bad precedent as it tries to rein in corporate debt. 

Chinese markets were closed Tuesday, but they will reopen Wednesday. No doubt, analysts will closely study how investors in the country react and whether or not that reaction could give the public a better idea about how the government might respond. 

See what others are saying: (BBC) (The Washington Post) (Axios)

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Philadelphia Will Pay $2M to Black Woman Beaten by Officers Whose Child Was Used in a Pro-Police Social Media Post

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The post from the National Fraternal Order of Police claimed officers found the toddler “lost” and “barefoot,” but the mother’s lawyers said police ripped the child from her vehicle during an unjust stop and caused him to lose his hearing aids. 


$2 Million Settlement

The city of Philadelphia has agreed to pay a $2 million settlement to 29-year-old Rickia Young, a Black woman who was pulled from her car and beaten by police officers last year while trying to navigate through protests spurred by the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr. 

Along with the settlement, both an officer and a sergeant have been fired in connection to their treatment of Young that night. Another 14 members of the Philadelphia Police Department are awaiting disciplinary hearings that stem from an internal investigation into the incident. 

The terminations and investigations have not satisfied Kevin Mincey, one of Young’s attorneys. He’s currently calling on District Attorney Lawrence Krasner to file criminal charges against those officers, saying, “If any citizen did something like this, there would be no question they will be charged with aggravated assault as a felony.”

As of Thursday morning, Kranser has not said whether he plans to pursue such charges. 

Police Beating of Rickia Young 

On Oct. 27, 2020, Young said she drove into West Philly to pick up her 16-year-old nephew because he lived near the epicenter of the protests that were happening that night.

On her way back home, she reportedly came across a group of protesters blocking the street while engaging in a standoff with police. The police allegedly ordered her to turn her car around, and according to her attorneys, she complied but paused at one point to avoid hitting protesters running past her car.

From there, Young’s attorneys claimed police surrounded her vehicle. They then allegedly broke her windows with batons before pulling her and her nephew out of the vehicle. According to multiple outlets, the officers began beating her, leaving her with swelling on her face and body, as well as a swollen trachea. A video of this incident later went viral online.

For hours, Young was separated from her toddler, who was removed from the car by police and lost his hearing aids at some point during the night, according to her attorneys. Even after getting her son back, for days, she was without her car. 

Ultimately, neither young nor her nephew were cited. 

Pro-Police Post Involving Young’s Son

Two days after the incident, the National Fraternal Order of Police, the country’s largest police labor union, posted an image to Facebook showing an officer holding a young, Black child.

“This child was lost during the violent riots in Philadelphia, wandering around barefoot in an area that was experiencing complete lawlessness,” The caption read. “The only thing this Philadelphia Police Officer cared about in that moment was protecting this child.”

“We are not your enemy. We are the Thin Blue Line. And WE ARE the only thing standing between Order and Anarchy.”

While claiming that she had been abused by police, Young would also go on to claim the “lost” child in the photo was that of her son.

“They’re attempting to erase what happened — police brutality — and turn it instead into police saviorism,” Riley Ross, one of Young’s attorneys said. “It’s another deep wound that they cut.”

After being informed of the background behind the photo, the National Fraternal Order of Police deleted the post with Young’s child.

Still, as Philly council member Isaiah Thomas asked in February, “Who knows how many people there are who’ve seen that original image, but never actually understood that parent was not involved in some type of looting situation as it was displayed unfortunately on social media?”

See what others are saying: (Philadelphia Inquirer) (USA Today) (ABC News)

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TikTok Works To Block “Devious Lick” Trend That Has Kids Stealing School Equipment

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Some schools have even threatened to pursue charges against those stealing or destroying school property.


What Is a Devious Lick?

TikTok is taking action against a new trend on the platform that involves users showing off what they consider impressive thefts they’ve pulled off, often at their own schools.

Users on the app refer to these thefts as “devious licks,” and some standout examples include kids stealing school projectors, street signs, microscopes, fire alarms, and pretty much anything you can imagine.

A lot of students also seem to particularly enjoy targeting school bathrooms, stealing paper towels or soap dispensers and even entire toilets or sinks, sometimes leaving bathrooms totally unusable.

Schools Respond

School officials across the country are obviously unhappy with this trend since it’s leaving their schools destroyed and low on equipment that is expensive to repair or replace.

In fact, many have issued warnings calling for the behavior to stop. Along with threats of suspension, some schools have said they will make families pay for the cost of the damage their child creates. Others even said they would get law enforcement involved.

For instance, Aubrey Chancellor, executive director of communications at North East Independent School District in San Antonio Texas, told Fox News, “It’s important for students to understand what they see on social media is not always a good idea in reality.”

“The students involved face disciplinary action and are expected to pay restitution as well. If possible, charges may be filed as well.”

With the trend generating widespread concerns, TikTok issued a statement Wednesday saying, “We are removing this content and redirecting hashtags and search results to our Community Guidelines to discourage such behavior.”

See what others are saying: (NBC News)(Desert News)(Gizmodo)

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