Morning Update: Isn’t It Weird When Racist Actions Have Consequences?

Hurricane Maria death count, a Kremlin critic was found dead, new ways to fake Amazon reviews. Your BuzzFeed News newsletter, May 30.

A new study says nearly 6,000 people died in Puerto Rico died after Hurricane Maria. The government still says 64 people died.

The last time the Puerto Rican government updated the death toll of Hurricane Maria was on Dec. 4. The figure was 64 people.

A new study says the real number is close to 6,000 deaths. The study was done by researchers from Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health, in collaboration with graduate students at Carlos Albizu University and Ponce Health Sciences University in Puerto Rico.

Here’s how the researchers concluded this: They surveyed 3,299 randomly selected households in Puerto Rico — about 9,522 people — asking about all deaths and their causes between when Hurricane Maria made landfall in September and the end of 2017.

Using previous years’ death records, they calculated that 4,645 more people died in the months after Maria hit. Then they adjusted for the fact that they couldn’t count people who lived alone.

Their estimate for people who died as a result of Maria: 5,740 hurricane-related deaths.

The government’s count came under suspicion first by the Puerto Rico Center for Investigative Reporting and BuzzFeed News just days after the hurricane devastated the island.

Quick brief:

  • The body of Eddison Hermond, the National Guard member who was last seen trying to help a woman during the Maryland floods, was found in the Patapsco River.

  • Pusha T accused Drake of hiding a secret child in a new diss track. It’s gonna be a long summer.

In just a few hours, Roseanne Barr tweeted something racist, left Twitter, and lost her TV show

Life comes at you fast, but life comes at you faster if you’re a well-known TV figure who tweets something blatantly racist. Let’s walk through what happened.

If this is not your jam, here’s the summary: Roseanne Barr posted a racist tweet, apologized, left Twitter, found out her show was canceled, drew the ire of celebrities, came back to Twitter, then tweeted more conspiracy theories. What a day.

We begin at the beginning, as things do: Yesterday morning, Barr, the star of ABC’s Roseanne, tweeted that Valerie Jarrett, a black former adviser to Barack Obama, was the “baby” of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood political party and Planet of the Apes.

At first, she responded to a CNN reporter that “it was a joke.” Then she apologized and said she was leaving Twitter “forever.” Then Wanda Sykes, who had served as a consulting producer on Roseanne, said she would not be returning.

Then the hammer dropped: ABC canceled the show. The president of ABC Entertainment called Barr’s tweet “abhorrent, repugnant, and inconsistent with our values.”

And late last night, Barr returned to Twitter after a whopping 11-hour hiatus, to tweet more Valerie Jarrett conspiracy theories and quality thoughts like “I thought she was Saudi.” (Again, Jarrett is black.) Somewhat confusingly, she also tweeted at Jarrett saying, “I want to apologize to you.”

Here’s why this matters: The Roseanne revival was considered a significant cultural moment. The ratings were astronomical — the season’s premiere pulled the highest numbers for any comedy on any network since September 2014. President Trump personally called Barr to congratulate her on those numbers.

Some thoughtful words from Anne Helen Petersen: This particular tweet from Barr didn’t suddenly reveal to ABC that she was bigoted — that was clear. What it did show was how uncontrollable, and therefore how much of a liability, she had become.

By the way, the legendary Rita Moreno tweeted at Barr saying, “Your meanness is staggering.” Here’s how other celebrities reacted.

A Russian journalist was shot and killed in his home in Ukraine

Arkady Babchenko was a prominent Russian journalist who was a fierce critic of the Kremlin. He was shot and killed yesterday in Ukraine. Reports indicated that Babchenko, 41, was shot in the back while in his home in Kiev.

Babchenko once served in the Russian military. After that, he became a war correspondent and eventual government critic. His book on his time in the military, One Soldier's War, was translated into English in 2007.

A man killed three people in Belgium before police shot him dead

A terrorism investigation is underway after two police officers and a man sitting in a car were killed in the Belgian city of Liège. The suspected shooter was shot dead by police shortly after he took a woman hostage.

While the incident is being investigated as terror-related, no motive has been established.

Here’s another kind of review fraud happening on Amazon

Nothing is real, and I’m working on accepting this — and you should too. In the meantime, if you see an Amazon product with hundreds or thousands of reviews, you should look closer.

Nicole Nguyen has an excellent story on a deliberate tactic by Amazon sellers to accumulate reviews: “They take an existing product page, then update the photo and description to show an entirely different product.”

The reason is simple: If you keep all the existing reviews, the new product looks more tested and legitimate to shoppers.

One seller we talked to said, “Customers ... don’t read reviews.They usually base their decision on how many reviews the product has and what the star rating is.”

People can’t stop sharing this video of a Hermione Granger cosplayer destroying the dance floor

I’ve watched it at least 15 times just this morning, because it’s inspirational, to be honest.

YouTuber Connie Glynn posted a video of her friend Kelsey Ellison just killing it as Hermione at a London comic con.

The internet can’t stop resharing it — and you know what? That’s fair, because it is a true joy.

Dance like you have the Invisibility Cloak on,


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