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The News This Week: A Closer Look At The LGBTQ Coalition

This week’s podcast: Canada’s alt-right conference, Summer of Scam, how LGBTQ Americans live, and more of the week’s news.

Posted on June 16, 2018, at 8:08 a.m. ET

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The Lede - 00:40

Julia Furlan: American conservatives have Breitbart. Canadian conservatives have The Rebel.

A few weeks back, 200 people gathered in Toronto for The Rebel’s second annual conference, The Rebel Live.

Contributors preached about their conservative beliefs like many of these events can be, Rebel Live was pretty hostile to the media.

BuzzFeed News sent reporter Scaachi Koul to cover the conference.

TAPE: “There is one person I just wanna warn you about, you know that dumpster fire called buzzfeed...scaachi are you here?”

JF: Yeah. This week on The Lede, Scaachi Koul talks about what it’s like to be targeted, and why she stayed for the whole conference.

Shani Hilton: Hi Scaachi!

Scaachi Koul: Hi how are ya?

SH: I'm okay, but really, how are you?

SK: I love that. 'How are you?' Ugh, I'm fine! I'm good. I'm devastated, I'm beautiful, I'm mean, I'm doing my best.

SH: You know, all the things that we would want for you and from you.

SK: Thank you

SH: So, the thing that I loved about reading your piece, even as I was truly horrified by some of the things that you described, was that you were able to zoom out a little bit and analyze these people and analyze their behavior and thing about you know the hypocrisy that you were seeing. How do you even approach writing about something terrible that happened to you in a way that connects with other people?

SK: You know I think it's so strange because most of my writing ends up being about terrible things that happen to me and yet I never really get used to unpacking it and doing that work, but yeah I went to the conference on a Saturday, it was the whole day, and then I spent Sunday and Monday being, like furious. I was livid. In this kind of a job, you sort of hope that you have real objectivity and that you can sort of step away from something and not have this visceral, angry reaction.

SH: Except that you being, you were being targeted directly, personally, all day. Which you know other people probably would've left. Why did you stay?

SK: You're right! Other people would have left.

SH: Not to blame the victim! But I'm just saying, I'm impressed.

SK: No it's a very valid question. There's a couple of reasons for it. The first is that--

SH: Your editor made you.

SK: Well no she actually didn't! That was the thing I talked to my editor while I was there being like, "listen we're not going to get like any really great interviews out of this," because nobody would speak to me after what the speakers had told them about me. So we weren't going to get like, any firm reporting. But I stayed because first of all, every time I thought about leaving, somebody would say something fucking crazy.

SH: Like what?

SK: And I was like--well like, I was like "ugh maybe I'll go," and then someone compares me to like vaginal itching. Or like, "maybe now I'll leave," and then somebody else is like making a vague threat about "taking me for a ride" or like, and then I'd be like "ugh okay you know what it's been half a day maybe I'll go" and then people were apologizing to me for what other people were saying and it became this very strange environment where I was like, "well now if I leave I'm going to miss something bananas!" Which was true because it just never calmed down.

SH: That was the thing to me that was crazy; by like halfway through the day, people around you were like kind of fed up by how rude the organizer was being and were kind of saying it to you, but not really.

SK: Yeah they were like half-assing it. But imagine being like a baby boomer living in Toronto, and then watching adults, like people your age, run after somebody who's like 27 and just there to work. Like the optics of it were so weird. And I think at the beginning they were like, "oh this is fun this is funny. We get to like sort of like have a good time," and the Rebels' whole thing is very like tongue in cheek and kind of aggressively unfunny--but I'm sure they find it funny--and so when I started I think they were like, "this is cute," and then because it ended up being the whole day, and there was nobody else, there was nobody else to sort of run at because I was sort of the representative of the mainstream media, this like terrible, boring mob. But like it became really ugly, and kind of boldly cruel at a certain point. But yeah you know what, I probably should've left, but I'm arrogant and I don't like it when people tell me that I can't do something or can't be anywhere so then I ended up just staying and hanging out.

SH: I'm glad you stayed because you made some great content out of it.

SK: A content machine! That's what they call me.

SH: But seriously I would say that like, it was a fascinating read, and I kind of wondered, to zoom out a little bit, what made you want to cover this event in the first place?

SK: So we decided to go to The Rebel because we were working on a piece about the far right in Toronto and in Canada generally speaking and the influence it might be having internationally. There was a van attack that happened in Toronto a little while ago--a man drove through a crowd, he killed ten people, he was possibly motivated by misogyny, he made some Facebook comments about the incel movement--which stands for involuntarily celibate--so there are these links to men's rights activist groups, white supremacist groups, Toronto and a lot of active hate crimes that are happening up here. And The Rebels seemed like an interesting place to start.

SH: So they have these events. I guess they show up at other rallies. How else do these people kind of exist in the real world?

SK: The Rebel concerns me in particular because they like to act like they're reasonable. And so if you sort of suggest that you are the reasonable conservative option, in at least a country that is right now run by a liberal majority...it's tricky because the language that they're using and the ideology that they're spewing is not normal. Like it's not normal! But they have really presented themselves as not exactly fringe the way an MRA group would be fringe, or even the way the Daily Stormer is fringe. But the way that like Breitbart kind of weaseled its way into American politics and the dialogue and has become like a news source for people; The Rebel exists in that very similar way where it's a lot of dog whistle, it's a lot of thinly veiled racist comments and sexist comments... but they have figured out a way to mask that to make them seem like, "no no no, we're just conservative."

SH: Right. Scaachi what's an MRA?

SK: MRA stands for Men's Rights Activist and it's a group of men who say that they are fighting for quite simply the rights of men, which can vary from them getting custody of their children more frequently to them arguing that rape allegations tend to be overblown and over-reported and men are going to jail for them unfairly.

SH: And so in America, you know, MRAs and the right get a fair amount of coverage. I'm curious how that plays out in Canada. Are they getting a similar amount of coverage by other Canadian outlets or reporters?

SK: We're so much smaller, so...

SH: There's like 12 of you.

SK: There's like 12 Canadians, we all know each other, we go to the same like gym, it's very very symbiotic. Yeah no I think people are covering it... I still think there's a feeling of like, "well we don't need to worry about these people because they don't matter." Like they're never going to affect anything, and it's like thinking about such a fringe group, they're never going to affect the day-to-day of most Canadians, most Canadians don't think that way... But The Rebel and the sorts of people who would support something like The Rebel, they have real influence in the world. I mean Doug Ford just won the provincial election by a majority, and the kinds of people who were electing him are the sorts of people who were present at The Rebel.

SH: So you're seeing a manifestation of these so-called fringe groups in real life. And that's why you want to cover it.

SK: Absolutely! If you walk around UT's campus, you will find white supremacist posters pinned up everywhere. All the time. Like, it's happening constantly, but there is still this split where we're not ready to admit it, and frankly I think part of it is because the federal government is liberal right now. And so everybody sort of gets to have that protective insulation that nothing could ever happen here. We're fine, because Trudeau and his allegedly fake eyebrow will protect us all and nothing bad can happen.

SH: Right. So that's where the imperative to cover these events comes from. But, you're also now in a position where you're a pretty prominent writer in Canada and in the U.S.

SK: I'm very famous! I'm extremely famous.

SH: You're the most famous Canadian writer.

SK: The only one anybody knows. It's just me and Atwood, you know?

SH: And it means though that there is, you know you become a target when you go to these events, and I think that even, you know we saw this in the U.S. during the presidential election, and even now during the rallies that President Trump regularly holds, is that the media is a target for outrage. It's one thing when it's a bullpen of reporters who are being yelled at, which is uncomfortable enough, it's another when it's just one woman of color kind of being harassed all day long.

SK: Yeah. I think they loved it. You know I think they were really pleased to have my isolated attention.

SH: You said that people were coming up to you to sort of sheepishly apologize towards the latter half of the day. What was your response to them?

SK: I hate getting apologies because there's almost nothing I can do with that. And almost every time someone apologizes to me the answer could be like, "well then why'd you do it?"

SH: Right

SK: But with this, I said "okay well if you are unhappy with the rhetoric, or you are unhappy with the tactics, then you should probably go speak to the organizers." Because I didn't say anything. But if you feel--

SH: But what do they say to that?

SK: They'd get very sheepish and they'd walk away. One woman emailed me a day after the event, this very long email saying you know, "I want you to know that even though I was in the crowd, I didn't appreciate what they were doing," and I replied and I said, "okay, I'd be curious to know if you contacted anybody at The Rebel for what they said." And she sent me this like brick of text that was... she was like, "I was trying to be supportive but if you're going to turn it around on me, that's fine!" And it became very clear that what she wanted was for me to say, "oh no thank you I appreciate it. You're one of the good ones." And to sort of release her from whatever she was feeling. But then to give her added responsibility, or to suggest maybe she could go out of her way to say something to this organization that she has been supporting financially at the very least, that was a cross to bear.

SH: Too much for her.

SK: Too much, yeah. Well Shani I actually have some questions for you about this kind of reporting. I'd be curious, as an editor do you have to think about who you're sending to these events and what kind of safety issues are going to come up, or even like the emotional anguish that ends up being tied up in all of this?

SH: Yeah I mean big picture this is such a crazy time and people don't like journalists in the best of times, but you know even now when the rhetoric being so overblown and people being unkind and cruel to each other in really public ways, it's showing up in how reporters are treated. And a Trump rally isn't the equivalent of what you're talking about, but you know that was something that we thought about when there were all of these rallies. We were talking, you know two rallies a day, for months and months, and we were sending dozens of reporters to cover these events. And so I thought, during that whole process it was really fascinating because on one hand, we're living in a time that I don't think anybody could have predicted, and so you want to cover it, right?

SK: Yeah it's so bizarre.

SH: Yeah! On the other hand, people are human beings. Reporters are human beings. And these things take a toll, and so you know as an editor, as a manager, we try to talk to people, we offer counseling when they need it. You know things that would hopefully alleviate some of the mental strain. But also, this is just the time that we live in, and think about people who are not reporters and you know the stress that they're under, so.

SK: It's such a tough thing too because it's weirdly embarrassing to go into these places as a reporter and to be there to do your job, and to leave being like "oh my feelings.'

SH: Right!

SK: Like that is such a foreign experience.

SH: Right we're supposed to be totally... we're supposed to not have feelings. You just go, you observe, you ask questions, you write it down, you file, and that's it.

SK: Yeah. And it's so personal now, like I don't know how you walk out of an interaction with somebody that's that laser-focused on you as an individual, I don't know how you walk out of that and feel like, "okay, I'm good, everything's normal." It's not normal! With like online security, I know all the things I need to do to make sure I don't get doxxed online. And we have a security team and we talk to them about what to do with our Twitter accounts and our emails and all of that, but I'd be curious, like do we have thoughts on security for in-person events like this? And if they get tense or like.... I don't even know what we would do.

SH: Yeah no, I mean... you said there were two security guards there, who I couldn't tell if they were there for you or there against you.

SK: I couldn't either. They were paid for by The Rebel. I think they were just there and I happened to be the only person they needed to mind. So that's it. They seemed like nice guys; they offered me dessert at the end of the day.

SH: I think that, you know from our perspective we obviously have a lot of digital security. We also do focus on physical security, mostly for people who are going into dangerous regions of the world, more so than conferences, but...

SK: Oh yeah would you think that the Canada Christian College was like, where this was all gonna go down?

SH: Is like the place where we also need to get you a minder. No I mean I that that's something that we should talk to our security team about because I think... I guess my question is going in, did you expect this? Because to some degree you can prepare for certain types of events if you expect hostility, but were you expecting this?

SK: I knew Ezra Levant, who runs The Rebel, who owns it, I knew he was going to say something. He's obsessed with me so of course he was; but I didn't think it was going to be the theme of the day. And I didn't think that the comments would be so aggressively strange. Like you know, that my body was there, what would happen to it, a lot about my looks. There were some comments about generally speaking being Muslim, which I'm not, but people always think I am, so there's often... I often get jokes about something not being halal or something being haram or whatever which is like, it's dumb. But it's also like, it's incorrect. Like there's not even anything I can say to it because you know, I eat pork so I don't... I don't know what to say, man! Yeah, It is weird.

SH: That is, that is really weird. I mean I think that it is definitely worth considering thinking about physical security depending on the event, depending on you know what we anticipate to happen.

SK: And to be clear I didn't think I was going to get murdered at that event. If 200 70-year old white people can take me down, then I clearly am not going to the gym enough, but like I wasn't worried about dying. But I think it's an interesting thing where like I work a desk job, and I work a comfortable desk job, and I don't go into dangerous regions because I am a coward. And to then sort of realize "oh these things are propping up down the street from me," it's such a strange thing to acknowledge, and in a city I've lived in for 10 years, and around people that I think, I have always considered reasonable, and now I don't know if I feel like that anymore. I feel like... I feel a little more suspicious these days.

SH: Yeah that makes so much sense. I mean everything is changing and we're all just trying to keep up and adapt.

SK: And then also that question of like, what does it take for you, a reasonable person who I might have like minor idealogical differences with, what does it take for you to go full crazy?

SH: It seems like the answer is, you know, a lot of other people egging you on.

SK: Yeah. It's mob mentality. And if that's all it takes, that makes me anxious. Toronto's a big city; lots of crowds to be around.

TAPE: Ladies and gentlemen, Scratchy Koul!

JF: That was VP of News and Programming Shani Hilton talking to reporter Scaachi Koul. If you ever interact with Scaachi, remember: the 'c' is silent!

Oh hey, JoJo.

Whenever you hear that sweet little singsong, it means that JoJo is here to help you learn more about what we’re talking about.

So here’s how it works.

Step one: open your messaging app on your cell phone.

Step two: Type in Jojo’s number, it’s 929-236-9577.

Step three: Text JoJo the word that we give you.

They will text you the story we’re talking about. So you can read it yourself — after you’re done with the episode.

If you want to read Scaachi’s riveting tale of the Rebel Conference, text JoJo the word “REBEL” right now.


Search History - 18:44

JF: The birds are chirping, the temperature is climbing here in New York, and you know what that means? It means it's the summer; the summer of scam as some people are saying! Opinion editor Tom Gara talks to Katie Notopoulos about the golden age of scammers on this week's Search History.

Katie Notopoulos: So Tom, what is the Summer of Scam?

Tom Gara: So the Summer of Scam, first off the term itself was coined by Jessica Pressler, who's the New York Magazine writer who wrote the fantastic thing about Anna Delvey, who is kind of clearly like the Queen of the Summer of Scam. She managed to convince basically all of the sort of dumb and useless rich kids/socialite scene of Manhattan that she was this billionaire German heiress, when in fact she was like a rando Russian chick who just sort of arrived in New York in unclear circumstances.

KN: So there's been this like trend of scams, right? Like all of the sudden, all these scams, all at once.

TG: Yeah I mean there's been a whole series of great strange stories over the last year or so that seem to have been peaking and kind of culminating... like just this week we got more news of the greatest scam of 2017 which was the Fyre Festival.

KN: Mm yeah the music festival that turned out to be terrible?

TG: Turned out not to be a music festival! So you know, like the guy who organized that, Billy McFarland, he was out on bail for his previous scams, and he just got straight back into the action. You know like he's out on bail and he's just like on the grind, telling people he's got tickets to the Met Gala that he can sell them, and houses in the Hamptons for $90 a night, and like all this hilarious kind of perfect grifty stuff.

KN: One of my favorites of course is the fake British guy.

TG: Thomas Mace-Archer-Mills, you mean?

KN: Mhm!

TAPE: Thank you kindly for inviting me to be with you today and address you, from one organization supporting the Queen to another.

TG: Yeah Thomas Mace-Archer-Mills is an important man who you know, the Wall Street Journal had this story that you know, his real name is Tommy Muscatello from Upstate New York, and he's like successfully rebirthed himself as this elite, snobby British expert on the royal family. Who was all over like all the different TV channels during the Royal Wedding offering his like, color commentary on British high society.

TAPE: Well there's been breaks in protocol this whole wedding; let's not get started on breaks in protocol, but....

TG: And in fact he's like this like, "hey I'm scammin' here!" guy from like Upstate New York. Which is also kind of like a good example of the victimless crime type scammer. Like no one got hurt from this, we all watch TV, no one suffered from seeing this absurd British guy on TV who turns out to have been an American dude.

KN: Yeah like there's other scammers who we don't like, like Theranos, it's sort of a bad scam, right? That was putting peoples' medical health in jeopardy.

TG: So yeah like the basic premise of Theranos was Elizabeth Holmes convinced a bunch of investors that she had invented something that didn't exist. She's like, "it's a magical blood machine that can like do things no one can imagine!" And like, that in itself is kind of funny. The problem is is that she actually got regular human beings to use her machine and trust that it would actually give them like reliable blood test results, which is kind of evil and messed up.

KN: Yeah

TG: So you know we can't put her exactly in this like joyous category of fun scammers, although all she did wrong was make her scam be about blood testing, and not like, making magical rain clouds or something.

KN: So why do we like, why do we love scammers? Why do we root for these scammers sometimes?

TG: The complete shameless venality of the rich and powerful half of America has kind of made people so deeply cynical about ideas of the rule of law or common decency, has made everyone else realize like, "just like get what you can, however you can."

KN: So what do you think it is about this moment in 2018, this summer, that is the moment for scammers?

TG: I mean it's hard to look away from the fact that the most successful sort of scammy grifter conman of our lifetime is basically in America, is the president. If Trump University was done by some random dude, it would be a great Summer of Scam story. And you know like, I think that the way that his real estate deals and his overall persona of like, you know just sketchy, fake it 'til you make it has actually worked to the level that he became the most powerful person in the world. I think that is just like this radioactive kind of force that makes its way all through society and we recognize it in other people, we recognize it in ourselves, people around us. We recognize it in news stories, it's sort of everywhere.

KN: Tom, what's the greatest scam you've ever pulled?

TG: I don't know how to say this properly without being really weird but I honestly think it's the fact that I'm this semi-credible opinion editor person in New York, and I come from like this weird little town in like countryside Australia, with like a very simple education and no fancy credentials, and I just kind of decided one day I wanted to be a journalist, and like somehow it worked. And you know there are people all over New York and every other big city in the world who've reinvented themselves, who came there from some smaller place, and right now they're walking into work, they're walking into meetings, and they're thinking, "I just have to pull this one off for one more day..."

JF: That was Tom Gara and Katie Notopoulos, the two biggest scammers on staff at BuzzFeed News.

Text JoJo the word "SCAM" to read Tom's great opinion piece about scamming. But lemme tell you something that is NOT a scam. If you text JoJo the word "WHOMST" -- that's W-H-O-M-S-T -- JoJo will send you a list of everyone who appeared on this week's episode.


Data with a Heartbeat - 24:18

JF: Two giants of the BuzzFeed News LGBT desk, Shannon Keating and Dominic Holden, collaborated with a polling company called Whitman Insight Strategies to put together something really remarkable. It's a survey that's never really been done in this way before. It took a truly comprehensive look at the 4.5% of the United States that's LGBT, and asked them how they lived their lives. This is Data with a Heartbeat, with Lam Thuy Vo, Dominc Holden, and Shannon Keating.

Lam Thuy Vo: Tell me what you found through the survey.

Dominic Holden: One of the things that this survey found that really interested us is that bisexual people make up nearly half of all lgbtq people in the United States.

LTV: That's pretty high.

DH: It really is! When you add in people who identify as queer, then it's above 50%

LTV: Wow!

DH: Yeah, and this community is different from other lgbt subgroups. They tend to be female much more, nearly four out of five of them are female. They tend to be younger, and there's a higher percentage of people of color among them.

LTV: Shannon, you've been looking into the particular statistic of bisexuals. What else do we know about them?

Shannon Keating: We know that nearly half of them are between the ages of 18 and 29. So they're a very young group. We also know interestingly that they're among the least likely of all lgbtq people to be "out," which could potentially contribute to a kind of lack of visibility that we see of bisexual people and bisexual narratives.

LTV: So we don't hear very much about bisexuals in the U.S. But why do you think they make up such a big proportion of the survey, even though we don't know that much about them?

SK: One of the reasons might be that for a lot of younger LGBTQ people, we've seen that they're more likely to identify as bisexual or as queer or as some time of fluid--no labels--like especially for younger lgbtq women that's definitely a trend that we've been seeing more of.

DH: Right and one of the interesting things that we've found is that twice as many people identified as being gay rather than a lesbian. Almost 32% versus 16%.

SK: Yeah, it makes me honestly feel a little bit special to be a part of that 16%. I feel like lesbians are almost kind of a dying breed. It was really interesting to look at these responses and see that an overwhelming half of all lgbtq people approximately identifies bisexual, and that most of them are young women, and more and more young women we're seeing who are identifying as bisexual, as opposed to with lesbians, where you see very few young women identifying as lesbians. Most of the lesbians that responded to the survey that we polled skewed a lot older. So for a lot of younger queer people, a word like 'lesbian' is starting to feel a little bit old and stodgy and stale. Like you'd just think of you know like a cat lady, you know wearing her Birkenstocks (that's me really). But, we're all now aware that there are more than one gender, and I think a word like "lesbian" implies you know that you're only into women, and it's like oh what does "women" mean. I mean it just kind of puts you down into the rabbit hole of ideas about gender. Although I do think there's a part of me that wonders too if, maybe less young women are identifying as lesbians because of you know, some bits of internalized lesbophobia. Or internalized misogyny. Because I think it's really interesting that queer women and queer-assigned female people are having these conversations and you're seeing less binary-label identities, but with gay men it seems like that's not happening at all. It's still pretty common to identify as a gay man, even for young gay men.

DH: Well I mean, I'm gay as a basket of rainbows. But I didn't always identify that way. As a gay man coming out, it seems like there's a very clear culture inviting you. There is a bar scene, there is an online app hook up scene, there are these sort of iconic personalities from like "Queer as Folk" or there's some other TV show--I'm a terrible homosexual obviously because I don't know what they all are. Anywho...

LTV: Basically you have a media portrayal, something that you can see to be, right?

SK: Yeah that's a good point.

DH: The flip side of that of course is it can be very normative and if you don't participate in that version of gay life, it can be very hard to find friends.

SK: Yeah. And I think lesbian identity and lesbian culture has kind of you know... some might say, you know, it’s eroding. Lesbian bars are closing, there's hardly any left. There is less of a blueprint I think for young women. And also I think frankly that there's a cultural cache to being a gay man that there really isn't for being a lesbian.

LTV: And all we have is "The L Word" from like, I don't know when that was...

SK: Yes we'll just cling to "The L Word!"

LTV: That kind of like, is what the survey speaks to. It's not as easy as maybe the mainstream media portrayal of lgbtq members makes it. How do you guys feel about the outcome of this; does this help you kind of like, understand your community, or as some might have called it, a coalition of different people, a little bit better?

DH: I mean I'm a white gay man who looks at people I know on social media who talk about issues like "diversity" in the community, while showing a photo of nothing but basically young gay dudes who look just like them. And you know it's a statistic but it's one that should be shoved in their face to remind them what diversity really looks like.

LTV: Yeah

SK: Yeah I think that one of the really interesting things that came out of this survey for me is that, I mean you mentioned the word "community," and I think that it kind of became clear to us in these numbers and in some of the open-ended responses that we had from respondents is that there really kind of is no like lgbtq quote "community," there are... I mean, within us there are different--I mean there's obviously you know lesbian, gay, those different labels. But if you add in across gender, across race, across class, people have such fundamentally different life experiences. And also different relationships to the idea of being lgbtq at all. Like we heard from many people who didn't care to be associated with this group, who felt like it was just an incidental part of who they were, they didn't feel like they were you know, they didn't feel like they had an agenda. There certainly were people that we talked to who did feel a sense of community and pride and like they're a part of something bigger than themselves. But even though that's the mainstream narrative around lgbtq people, it's certainly not the way that everyone thinks and feels.

DH: It's important to keep in mind though that even if people don't necessarily feel connected, lgbtq people face similar types of discrimination and bias. They're not meeting certain sex stereotypes and gender norms, so they're treated differently. So even if you're trans, if you're gay, you're lesbian, you're bi, you face many of the same challenges in our society, and that does unite us.

JF: That was data reporter Lam Thuy Vo with politics reporter Dominic Holden, and everybody's favorite resident lesbian and LGBT editor, Shannon Keating.

To see all of the beautiful rainbow-colored data, text JoJo the word "LGBTQ." JoJo's number again is (929) 236-9577.


Subject Line - 32:01

Julia Furlan: Now it’s time for Subject Line with our news curation editor, Elamin Abdelmahmoud.

Julia Furlan: Elamin, Prince of Newsletters,

Elamin Abdelmahmoud: It is I!

JF: You are here to play Subject Line, which is where you boil down the big news stories of the week into one, graceful little subject line, and then in 30 seconds or less, explain exactly what's going on.

EA: Yes! That is my pleasure to do.

JF: Okay. So you're from the jaunty territories of Canada. America's beautiful crown, if you will.

EA: Or, if you will, maybe America is Canada's pantaloons.

JF: I'll take it! I am a pantaloon. Canada was at the G7 summit this week. And the G7, of course, is a meeting of the most advanced economies of the world. They talk about trade agreements, policy stuff, and at the end of the meeting they sign a document that explains everything that went down. What is going on, Elamin, in one subject line?

EA: Well the subject like is, "you made a really deep cut, and baby now we got bad blood."

JF: *laughter*

EA: Those are the wise and eternal words of the songstress of America, Taylor Swift.

JF: First of all, I appreciate you. Although, I hate Taylor Swift... Cool. Elamin, in 30 seconds or less, explain to me what that means.

EA: Sure! So after the G7 meeting went down, all the countries made an agreement--like you said--and at the end of it, Justin Trudeau went out and he talked about how Canada was going to respond to the U.S.--because the U.S. is imposing tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum--and Justin Trudeau's like "Canada's not going to be pushed around." Now, Trump saw this from his airplane, while he was on his way to the North Korea summit, and he pulled out of the communiqué. He pulled out of that final document that they signed because--I have no idea if I'm doing well in terms of the 30 second thing or not--

JF: I forgot about that... you're fine. You're good.

EA: Amazing, good. I'm just gonna blow past my deadline here, and just tell you that there is real tension between Canada and the U.S., and those tariffs that Canada's supposed to start imposing will come in the next couple of weeks so look for that relationship to get even more tense.

JF: I wouldn't mind seeing Justin Trudeau in some sort of like, gladiator-style fight with Trump.

EA: I hope you know that like, he has boxed another politician before.

JF: Oh no

EA: Yeah it's a thing you can watch. Like it's out there.

JF: Wow

EA: Yeah

JF: Wow. You know what, foreign policy. Here we go. 2018.

EA: We're doing great.

JF: I'm going to go with the bad news first.

EA: Okay.

JF: You didn't quite get to the 30 second mark.

EA: How'd I do?

JF: You got to 45.

EA: Okay. I can't take a breath that deep! You know what I mean? I don't know. We'll get there.

JF: Okay next up. I'm just gonna start off by reminding you to be kind, and gentle. As a Brazilian soccer fan, talking to a German soccer fan...

EA: That's me!

JF: ...This could go horribly wrong, but--

EA: It won't! Because--and here's why--it's World Cup season, it's amazing, it just started, and I want you to know that I remember fondly that time that my team--

JF: He's going to be mean. I can tell he's going to be mean.

EA: That time that my team, Germany, beat your team, Brazil, in Brazil, what was it... two-one?

JF: I hate you so much for this right now. It was seven-one, can we move on? That was rude. Okay so the men's World Cup started this week and most of the world is excited and cares. What is the subject like that you have regarding the World Cup?

EA: This subject line is dedicated to Italy fans, and to American soccer fans, who are not playing in this World Cup, and also Brazil fans who have kind of taken quite the hit. And the subject line is simply, "just shake it off."

JF: Oh my god is this a Taylor Swift themed segment!?

EA: Yes! Yes it is!

JF: How dare you Elamin, how dare you.

EA: It's what I'm here for.

JF: Alright 30 seconds, go!

EA: I love this dumb sport, that is my cross to bare in this life and I hate it, however for you, even if you don't like the sport, I think the reason you should care about the World Cup is because it is being hosted in Russia this year, which is you know a country that everyone is paying very close attention to. And we know that Russia likes to use sporting events as opportunities to showcase its greatness. And so look for some tough statements to come from Russia in the next month or so, while it has the world's attention.

JF: Wow okay. You did it, you did it.

EA: Killed it.

JF: And finally, the most important thing to me, a person who enjoys watching lots of TV on the internet, net neutrality. There've been some changes regarding net neutrality this week. Elamin, give it to me in a subject line. What is going on and why does it matter?

EA: The subject line is, "this is why we can't have nice things." On theme, on brand. And what happened this week was the net neutrality rules, which the Obama administration had put into place in 2015, those are the rules that kind of prohibit all internet service providers from charging you extra for you know viewing things on Netflix or accessing Facebook. Yeah those rules are gone. All your protections are now, you know completely gone. So the thing to look for next is to watch all your internet service providers. They're going to be introducing some new policies, some new price plans. They might not do that right away, but everyone is watching them closely to be like, "hey don't fuck us, this is not the moment."

JF: Mm, okay.

EA: You're at their mercy now.

JF: Oh good. You know, as somebody who waited all day for Time Warner to show up to install my internet and then they didn't even show up, great. Even more at their mercy, great.

EA: Way to go, America.

JF: Elamin, if this were an internet website, you would be 404: not found, because you went to 44 seconds, you did not get it to 30 seconds. Good news is, there is no good news. This is terrible.

EA: Okay, well great.

JF: Elamin, I'm going to go on your theme or whatever of Taylor Swift lyrics and say, "if you come my way, just don't!"

EA: Well that's a little intense, but you know Taylor, she "never goes out of style."

JF: Oh my god...

If you wants to see the brilliance that he spits out every early early morning in the BuzzFeed newsletter, just text JoJo the word "NEWSLETTER." Again, their number is (929) 236-9577.


This episode was produced by the PodSquad! That's Megan Detrie, Alex Laughlin, Camila Salazar, and me, Julia Furlan. Our boss is Cindy Vanegas-Gesuale, and our music is by Chad Crouch. And special thank you to Jojo, who holds us down. And fun fact, was the original model for the robot emoji. It's a true story.

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