Morning Update: Free Hugs For All

People in Flint are still in crisis and want more than lip service, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders is out, and weekend longreads. It's your BuzzFeed News morning update.

People in Flint are still in crisis. They want presidential candidates to see them as more than a rallying cry.

The Michigan city, where 54% of residents are black, has been devastated by lead leaching into its water supply. Children have been left with possibly permanent neurological damage. Pregnant women have miscarried after drinking contaminated water.

This has been going on for years, with people being lied to repeatedly by officials at all levels of government about the water’s safety, and politicians offering little more than words.

Citizens are rightfully exhausted, cautious, and furious, and are demanding more than soundbites out of candidates as the 2020 election nears.

Here's why people are changing their profile pictures to one specific shade of blue

Last week, Sudan’s security forces opened fire on unarmed protestors holding a sit-in outside military headquarters in Khartoum. Doctors and activists said that more than 100 people have been killed since.

One of those who died was Mohamed Hashim Mattar, a 26-year-old engineer and graduate of London’s Brunel University, who had a blue profile picture when he was killed. After a Twitter user found a tweet from Mattar's account that said, "I paint the sky blue," people became determined to cover social media with the color as a visible way to stand in solidarity with people in Sudan and pay respect to those who were killed.

QAnon explained in two minutes

Basically, it's a lot of nonsense that has emerged from the swampy corners of the internet into the mainstream. Media editor Craig Silverman breaks it down for you (and gnaws on what appears to be a baguette, who knows, it's Canada) in this video.

View this video on YouTube


Sarah Huckabee Sanders will leave the White House at the end of June. The combative White House press secretary unflappably defended President Donald Trump, followed his charge to discredit journalists who cover him, and admitted to lying to reporters. Trump said he hoped she would run for governor of Arkansas.

The measles outbreak in New York is so bad, it's ending its religious exemption for vaccines. The legislative move comes as a monthslong measles outbreak within Orthodox Jewish communities continues. Meanwhile, Jessica Biel says she's not anti-vax, despite lobbying with a prominent anti-vaxxer.

The wife of Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter changed her plea from not guilty to guilty, admitting she and her husband misused campaign funds. As part of the new plea agreement, Margaret Hunter is also required to help in the investigation of her husband and any others involved in her crimes. Her husband, who has also been indicted, has not changed his not-guilty plea.

A federal watchdog says Kellyanne Conway broke the law and should be fired. The Office of Special Counsel — not the same as the office of former special counsel Robert Mueller — found that Conway repeatedly used her platform as a White House official to attack Democrats running for president in the 2020 election and to promote Trump’s candidacy. The watchdog, though, has no authority to remove her.

The Trump administration has admitted denying housing loans to DACA recipients. The admission comes after Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson denied it in congressional testimony earlier this year.

This guy offered "free dad hugs" at a Pride parade and people really needed them

Scott Dittman — better known to his friends as Howie — says he doesn't wake up in the morning thinking of himself as an LGBT ally. But, last weekend, he still made a big impact.

Dittman, 44, heard his friend Denna was heading to Pittsburgh Pride with Free Mom Hugs, an organization that assists LGBT people and also provides hugs at Pride events. So he snagged a "free dad hugs" shirt off Amazon, tagged along — and changed lives.

After giving out hugs all day, he posted his experience to Facebook, where he ended up helping even more people: "I’ve had so many parents reach out to me saying they’ve been crying for days, saying they’ve been those parents, and they’ve reached out to their children they haven’t talked to in years," said Dittman.

Get comfy, your weekend longreads are here

How The Gay Rights Movement Failed Sexual Fluidity. Fifty years after the Stonewall riots kick-started the gay liberation movement, young queer people are expressing a new openness to identifying with more fluid sexuality labels like “queer” — or with no label at all, Michael Waters writes. Many people are still hesitant to acknowledge that there can be a wide gap between sexual behavior and sexual identity

Why Does Liking Your Body — And Hating “Wellness Culture” — Still Seem So Radical? Algorithms, at this point, are more powerful than us all: Taking a wrong turn on Instagram can mean an hour’s worth of #fitspiration scrolling and at least a day’s worth of feeling shitty about yourself, Shannon Keating writes. But she discovered that by surrounding yourself with friends who don’t diet-shame — and filling your Instagram feed with beautiful fat and queer bodies — you can seek your own version of “wellness.”

Queer People Can’t Forget Our Own Mortality — Except In Montrose. Houston’s historic gayborhood is gentrifying into something new. But for Bryan Washington, it will always be "a place where you could, whatever you needed could to look like for so many queer folks who’d been told they could not."

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