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FEBRUARY 19, 2019


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"Lightsaber dueling" – Now an official sport in France. May le force be with you.


Drama in parliament

The Story

Yesterday, seven British lawmakers quit the country's Labour Party.

Labour with a 'u.' Very British.

There are a number of political parties in the UK. But the major two in Parliament are: the Conservative Party (aka the Tories) – the right-of-center party that Prime Minister Theresa May is the leader of. And the left-of-center Labour Party.

Got it. So why'd people quit?

Anti-Semitism...Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has been a long-time critic of Israel and advocate for Palestinian rights. He's also been accused of anti-Semitism for things ranging from buddying up with leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah to supporting the artist behind an anti-Semitic mural. Last year – amid allegations of anti-Semitism against him and the party – he acknowledged there was a problem, and said he's working to address it. Earlier this month, one Jewish MP was almost edged out. Yesterday, she was one of the seven lawmakers who quit Labour, calling it "institutionally anti-Semitic." There's also…

Brexit…The UK's exit from the EU is next month. Repeat: next month. Parliament still hasn't signed off on a divorce deal yet. But either way, the UK's own government doesn't predict it will go well. Some in the Labour Party have been pushing Corbyn to call for a second Brexit referendum so the people can decide if they still want to go through with the exit. But Corbyn doesn't want to alienate pro-Brexit voters. Now, several MPs are quitting the party, saying they don't want to own this mess.

Remind me what an MP stands for?

Member of Parliament.

Damn, was hoping for Mary Poppins. what?

The seven MPs are still in parliament but as a group of independent lawmakers. They're hoping to get others to defect and join them. Labour's deputy leader described the breakaway as a "wake-up call" and agrees the party needs to make some changes.


This isn't the first time Labour MPs split with their party. But this split is notable because it could have an impact when parliament votes on a Brexit deal – the biggest shift in the UK's trade and foreign policy in decades. Brexit has caused significant rifts within the UK gov, and there's still no clear sign of what will happen next. These MPs say they're fighting to create a space for people who aren't satisfied with the UK's two main parties. And some think it could be the start of an even bigger movement to come.

Tech smackdowns

The Story

UK lawmakers just called tech companies like Facebook "digital gangsters."


For a year and a half, a UK committee has been looking into the role of tech companies on issues like fake news and users' privacy. Yesterday, it dropped a report that Facebook wishes it could untag itself from.

What's it say?

That there's evidence Facebook knowingly violated UK privacy and competition laws. That the company might have known about the Cambridge Analytica scandal before it said it did. That it lied to or misled UK lawmakers about the scale of Russian ads on its platform. That CEO Mark Zuckerberg keeps ghosting UK's calls to testify. And that the UK's not having it. Facebook acknowledged that it still has "more to do" but flagged that it now has tens of thousands of people working to address things like abusive content on its platform.


The committee is calling for more investigation into potential foreign influence in recent UK elections (think: Brexit and Scottish referendums). And for more regulation of social media companies – which has become something of a trend that tends to put Wall Street on edge. But until the UK acts on this, France still holds the crown for Most Likely to Hold Tech to Task.


What to say when you hear Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein might be heading out...

This beef isn't going anywhere. Yesterday, 16 states filed a lawsuit against President Trump's national emergency declaration. Remember the longest government shutdown in US history? It started because Trump wanted Congress to set aside $5.7 billion in funding for a wall on the US-Mexico border. Instead, lawmakers gave him close to $1.4 billion for a few dozen miles of fencing. So the president declared a national emergency to bypass Congress and get the money he wanted for the wall. Yesterday, people across the country showed up to protest Trump's declaration. Now, these states – including California and New York – are telling Trump to slow his roll. TBD how that goes, but the president is prepared to take the issue all the way to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Trump has a warning for Venezuela's military. Yesterday, he called them out saying they "will lose everything" if they keep supporting Nicolás Maduro's presidency. And that they shouldn't stop humanitarian aid from coming into the country. He also added that the US wants a peaceful transfer of power to opposition leader Juan Guaidó, but that "all options are open."

Who people are talking about…

Hoda Muthana. The 24-year-old American traveled to Syria four years ago and is now reportedly asking to be allowed to return home. Once she left the US, she married a series of ISIS fighters and became active on social media – encouraging people to commit terror attacks that would kill Americans. Now, she apparently says she made a big mistake and claims she was brainwashed online. She's currently in a refugee camp in northern Syria with her 18-month-old son. It's the same camp where a woman from the UK – who is also asking to go back home – gave birth over the weekend. This is all happening while some EU countries are debating whether or not to give citizenship to children born to parents who left the EU to join ISIS. President Trump has some opinions: he's demanding that EU countries take back their citizens and prosecute them or else he'll be "forced to release them." The US has in the past made it clear it's worried that extremism could grow in the camps if ISIS fighters stay there.

What people are watching…

Haiti. Businesses there have apparently started to reopen after over a week of violent protests. Many are calling on the president to resign over things like soaring inflation and allegations of corruption. The US is warning citizens not to travel there. Several people have been killed as protesters clashed with police. Multiple people – including five Americans – have apparently been arrested. President Jovenel Moise is refusing to step down. Protests are expected to continue this week.

What's getting more confusing by the day...

The Jussie Smollett case. Chicago Police say their investigation into the alleged attack has "shifted." Smollett claimed two men approached him last month, and did things like yell "racial and homophobic slurs" and wrap a rope around his neck. Authorities were investigating it as a potential hate crime. Last week, they arrested two Nigerian brothers – one worked as an extra on Smollett's show "Empire" and both knew him – but later released them without charges. Now police are saying there's new evidence and that they want to re-interview Smollett. There are now reports that Smollett may have paid the brothers to stage the attack. Smollett denies having anything to do with it. And his attorneys say he'll continue to cooperate with authorities.

What to say when you're treated unfairly…

Let's make some edits. Yesterday, New York City announced it will ban discrimination based on hairstyles. This is meant to prevent businesses and others from penalizing black people for wearing their hair natural. And it's apparently the first city in the US to do so. The city says that the same laws that ban discrimination based on race also applies to hair. This comes after a New Jersey high school wrestler was forced to choose between cutting his dreadlocks or forfeiting a match last year.

What to say to your friend who thinks they're a photographer...

Never forget the sailor who knew how to celebrate.


In honor of Black History Month, we teamed up with Shondaland to share moments in black history and culture.

This week, Jason George from "Grey's Anatomy" and "Station 19" is sharing his story. He talks about the impact of Barack Obama's election, the black political pioneers who came before him, and what his presidency means for future generations.

Check it out.


For when the winter weather is confusing your skin...

Lay a good foundation. Literally. Tarte Cosmetics just dropped a new Face Tape Foundation that gives your skin full coverage and hydrates for 12 hours. Plus, it's available in 50 shades. Oh, and Skimm'rs get free shipping for today only. Yes please.*

For when you have cubicle views and corner office goals...

Mind your own business. But really. This free online class helps entrepreneurs avoid common mistakes when starting or growing their own b. Register here.*

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Skimm'r of the Week…Kerry Brodie. She's the executive director of Emma's Torch, an organization that gives culinary training and job placement services to refugees and survivors of human trafficking. Learn more and donate here.

Chilling champagne for…Allison D (MA), Melissa B (IA), and Michelle B (IL). They're sisters and running a half marathon together at Disney World on behalf of the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Taking family bonding to another level. Speaking of…Natalie S (NY) is taking her mom Sonia T (NY) on her first international trip. It's in honor of Sonia's 60th birthday and her first vacay in over 16 years.

(Some) Birthdays…theSkimm's Michael Gray (NY), theSkimm's Melissa Wimberly (NY), Billy Stern (NY), Wylie Stern (NY), Ilana Mandelbaum (CA), Diane Humphreys (GA), Megan Schroder (FL), Ashley Vogeli (AB), Shelby Keller (OH), Nicole Meyer (MEX), Rebecca DeFrang (WA), Dru Jensen-Jones (SGP), Evie Jennes (NLD), Garrett Tibbets (KS), Isaac Curry (MI), Wade Pemberton (NC)

*Welcome to a new section we're testing with members of theSkimm. Want to take it to the next level? Reach out here for a chance to be featured.