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Texas High School Valedictorian Ditches Approved Speech To Slam State’s Strict New Abortion Law

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The controversial law bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can happen as early as six weeks after conception, before many women learn they are pregnant.


Viral Valedictorian Speech

This year’s valedictorian at Lake Highlands High School in Dallas, Texas, is receiving widespread praise on social media for defending abortion rights in a now-viral graduation address.

Paxton Smith had previously submitted a speech to school officials that talked about the effects of media on young minds. When it came time to give that speech, however, she scrapped it and instead chose to go after the state’s heartbeat bill, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed last month.

“I cannot give up this platform to promote complacency and peace when there is a war on my body and a war on my rights. A war on the rights of your mothers, a war on the rights of your sisters, a war on the rights of your daughters. We cannot stay silent,” she said n her remarks Sunday.

The bill Smith is referring to goes into effect this September and bans any abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. That can happen as early as six weeks after conception — when many women are unaware they’re even pregnant.

The controversial legislation makes no exceptions for rape or incest, only medical emergencies. It also allows anyone to sue an abortion provider for as much as $10,000, along with anyone else who helped someone get an abortion.

“I have dreams and hopes and ambition. Every girl graduating today does. We have spent our entire lives working towards our future, and without our input and without our consent, our control over that future has been stripped away from us,” Smith continued.

“I am terrified that if my contraceptives fail, I am terrified that if I am raped, then my hopes and aspirations and dreams and efforts for my future will no longer matter. I hope that you can feel how gut-wrenching that is, I hope that you can feel how dehumanizing it is, to have the autonomy over your own body taken from you.”

Reactions From High Profile Figures and School

Smith later told the AP that she expected her microphone to be cut off after ditching her original speech, but it wasn’t.

She also feared her diploma would be withheld, and it wasn’t either, though officials considered it.

Still, the Richardson Independent School District was less than enthusiastic about what she did and issued a statement saying it would review student speech protocols in advance of next year’s ceremonies.

“The content of each student speaker’s message is the private, voluntary expression of the individual student and does not reflect the endorsement, sponsorship, position or expression of the District or its employees,” it added.

The reaction across social media was far more supportive, with Smith earning applause from celebrities like Sarah Silverman and Olivia Wilde.

“Paxton, thank you for having the courage of your convictions and inspiring Texas with your refusal to accept injustice as the price of participation in civic life. May we all use our place in this democracy to fight for what we believe to be right and follow your example!,” wrote Beto O’Rourke, a former U.S. Representative from Texas.

“This took guts,” Former U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton tweeted.

See what others are saying: (AP News) (CBS News) (Refinery29)

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Netflix Reports First Subscriber Loss in Over a Decade, Suggests Looming Crackdown on Password Sharing

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The company claims nearly 100 million people access the service via another household’s account.


Netflix Loses 200,000 Subscribers

Netflix stock took a 37% dive on Wednesday morning after the streaming giant reported its first subscriber loss in over a decade. 

In the first quarter of 2022, the company lost 200,000 subscribers. The fall was especially steep considering Netflix anticipated gaining over two million customers in the time period. Now, it expects to lose another two million in its second quarter. 

In a Tuesday letter to shareholders, Netflix said four main factors may have contributed to this downward trend. 

“COVID clouded the picture by significantly increasing our growth in 2020, leading us to believe that most of our slowing growth in 2021 was due to the COVID pull forward,” the letter said. “Now, we believe there are four main inter-related factors at work.”

The first of the factors the company pointed to was the fact that Netflix relies on outside sources for its access to broadband homes, meaning it is dependent on the uptake of connected televisions and on-demand entertainment to access new consumers. 

It also noted that the recent rise of new streaming services has given Netflix sturdy competition. That, along with other “macro factors” like inflation, continuing COVID-19 issues, and geopolitical events, have also slowed its growth. Recently, Netflix made the choice to withdraw from Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine. 

Potential Crackdown on Password Sharing

Perhaps the most significant factor Netflix cited, however, was the prominence of password sharing on the platform. In addition to the 222 million paying households Netflix touts, it claims accounts are being shared with another 100 million people, making it “harder to grow membership in many markets.”

The company suggested its new focus will be monetizing those 100 million people. 

“This is a big opportunity as these households are already watching Netflix and enjoying our service,” Netflix wrote in its letter. “Sharing likely helped fuel our growth by getting more people using and enjoying Netflix.”

The company claimed that while it has tried to make it easy to share accounts within family units, the flexibility of those features “created confusion about when and how Netflix can be shared with other households.”

Last month, Netflix announced it was testing tools aimed at curbing password sharing in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru. Details on a global rollout for these features remain unclear, but the company seems set on addressing the matter. 

“Those are over 100 million households already are choosing to view Netflix,” CEO Reeding Hastings said in a video accompanying the shareholder letter. “We’ve just got to get paid at some degree for them.”

The company is also weighing ad-supported tiers as an option to entice subscribers. While Netflix had previously voiced opposition to such a concept, Hastings said he would be “quite open to offering even lower prices with advertising, as a consumer choice.”

No plans for this tier are set in stone and it could take a couple years before anything is official. Other streaming services like Hulu and Peacock have found success by significantly lowering price points with ads. Disney+, which is arguably Netflix’s biggest competitor when it comes to subscriptions, will also be adding an ad-supported tier in the near future. 

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (CNBC) (Deadline)

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Jake Gyllenhaal Responds to Extended “All Too Well,” Says Artists Should Address “Unruly” Fans

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Many targeted the actor online because they believe he is the primary subject of Taylor Swift’s famous breakup record.


Gyllenhall Addresses “Red (Taylor’s Version)”

Actor Jake Gyllenhaal said he does not “begrudge” Taylor Swift for her album “Red (Taylor’s Version)” but argued that artists should have a responsibility to curb “unruly” fans.

Swift released “Red (Taylor’s Version)” in November as part of her ongoing effort to re-record her early work to gain full ownership over it. The album was first released in 2012 and is largely believed to be about her relationship with Gyllenhaal, though the Grammy-winner does not comment on the subjects of her music. For its re-release, Swift included a ten-minute version of the fan-favorite breakup ballad “All Too Well,” as well as a short film accompanying it. Many fans speculated that there were parallels between the new lyrics, visuals in the short film, and the former couple’s brief relationship.

In a profile published Thursday in Esquire, Gyllhenaal was asked about this version of “All Too Well,” which was released just a month prior to him sitting down for his interview with the outlet. He said the track “has nothing to do with” him.

“It’s about her relationship with her fans,” Gyllenhaal said. “It is her expression. Artists tap into personal experiences for inspiration, and I don’t begrudge anyone that.” 

Gyllenhaal Faces Online Ridicule

In the days after the re-release of “Red,” the Internet was full of jokes and memes with Gyllenhaal as the punchline. Some came from fans, but even stars like Dionne Warwick tweeted about how the “Nightcrawler” actor broke Swift’s heart, as did brands like Sour Patch Kids

The jokes turned into larger-scale harassment. Gyllenhall disabled commenting on his Instagram when the album came out, with many assuming he did so to minimize the hateful remarks being hurled at him. His comments have since been disabled again, but The Daily Beast captured screenshots of comments Swift’s fans left on his posts when they were open and available to read. Some spammed posts he made about 9/11 and Black Lives Matter. 

While he never mentioned Swift by name while speaking to Esquire — nor did discuss any details of the online ridicule he was subjected to — he did suggest that artists should discourage fans from this kind of behavior. 

“At some point, I think it’s important when supporters get unruly that we feel a responsibility to have them be civil and not allow for cyberbullying in one’s name,” Gyllenhaal said. “That begs for a deeper philosophical question. Not about any individual, per se, but a conversation that allows us to examine how we can—or should, even—take responsibility for what we put into the world, our contributions into the world.” 

“My question is: Is this our future? Is anger and divisiveness our future?” he continued. “Or can we be empowered and empower others while simultaneously putting empathy and civility into the dominant conversation?”

Gyllenhaal said that while he has not listened to “Red (Taylor’s Version)” himself yet, he understands the frenzy.

“I’m not unaware that there’s interest in my life,” he added. “My life is wonderful. I have a relationship that is truly wonderful, and I have a family I love so much. And this whole period of time has made me realize that.”

See what others are saying: (Jezebel) (Entertainment Weekly) (GQ)

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I Owe You An Apology, Tom Holland Spider-Man Controversy, Florida Man Strikes Again, & Today’s News

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