The Walking Dead’s 100th episode shambles along like the walking corpse the show has become

Congratulations, everybody huffily saying, “I always knew The Walking Dead was bad!” on Twitter. You were right!

It’s only fitting that The Walking Dead’s 100th episode — the show’s season eight premiere, “Mercy” — would be a dead-on encapsulation of the zombie series so far.

The hour starts out promisingly enough, cross-cutting between timelines to reveal the preparations for a big battle, the build-up to the battle itself, and then the recovery period months or even years later. (Rick suddenly has a whole lot of gray in his beard.) It boasts a technically complicated, ambitious midsection that made me say, more than once, “Can they pull this off?” And then it just sorta evaporates by the end, spinning its wheels so fruitlessly that it atomizes. read more

Yemeni journalist invited to receive free press award denied U.S. visa

A Yemeni journalist invited to the United States to receive a free press award was denied a visa, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Afrah Nasser, the founder and editor-in-chief of Sana’a Review, was planning on attending the CPJ’s November 15 ceremony to receive the International Free Press Award, but now may not be able to obtain a visa in time. Nasser is a Swedish and Yemeni dual national and has been rejected by the U.S. embassy in Stockholm twice. She wrote in a piece for The New Arab that she will apply for a visa for a third time, but she is “not optimistic.” read more

A detained 17-year-old immigrant wants an abortion. The government went to court to stop her.

The teenager is just one of many unaccompanied immigrant minors affected by a new policy restricting abortion access.

At a shelter in South Texas, a teenager is fighting the federal governmentto get an abortion.

The 17-year-old, identified in court documents as Jane Doe, came to the US as an undocumented, unaccompanied minor. She was taken into custody at the United States-Mexico border on September 11.

Since President Donald Trump took office, policies toward undocumented young people seeking abortions have changed. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed suit on behalf of Doe, all unaccompanied minors in immigration shelters now need permission from the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement — and he has gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent undocumented young people from getting the procedure. In Doe’s case, ORR has prevented her from leaving the Texas shelter where she now lives in order to get an abortion. read more

Afghanistan reels after two mosque bombings kill nearly 90 people

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — For years, Ali Kadem has had a perfect view of the Imam Zaman Mosque from the window of the bread bakery where he works. As he sits cross-legged handing out 10 Afghani ($0.15) loaves of bread, the 18-year-old often looks out onto the mosque he has been to thousands of times.

He has watched members of his community in the Dasht-e Barchi neighborhood of Kabul enter the green-and-white mosque for the five daily prayers, Eid holidays, Ashura commemorations, and any number of other occasions. read more

Geostorm, a disaster movie about a weather apocalypse, somehow manages to be unbelievably boring

If you must see it, see it in 4DX.

It’s not a crime for a movie to be boring. Boredom can be a rare and precious gift in a culture of distraction. We should all be bored more often.

But the level of boredom I experienced during Geostorm ought to qualify as at least a second-degree felony in the state of New York. Consider the title of the movie. Consider its central conceit, which is that the whole entire world will experience a massive “weather event” at once. Consider also that I saw it in one of the nine theaters nationwide projecting the film in “4DX,” which means my chair bucked around while lights flashed, the lumbar support occasionally punched me from behind, and the seat in front of me sprayed what the theater calls “face water” at me during key moments. read more

Graham says Florida congresswoman was ‘rude’ to question Trump’s call to Gold Star widow

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Friday that Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) “started something that was rude” by questioning Trump about his comments to a Gold Star widow.

“[Wilson] is not a big fan of the president,” Graham said, talking to reporters at the Capitol Friday. “I think she started something that was rude. I would never do that.”

Graham’s comments are the latest in an ongoing feud between the White House and Wilson. Wilson was in the car with Gold Star widow Myeshia Johnson when Trump called. Wilson and the family of the fallen soldier, Army Sgt. La David Johnson, recounted that Trump said Johnson “must’ve known what he signed up for” by joining the military and putting himself in harm’s way. read more

Philip Pullman returns to the world of The Golden Compass with the thrilling La Belle Sauvage

Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, which began with The Golden Compass over 20 years ago, is the kind of fantasy series that digs its claws into you and never quite lets go. It’s a lavish, wildly compelling fantasy saga, with witches and zeppelins and talking polar bears — and it’s a fervent repudiation of what Pullman seems to see as the repressive forces of Christianity, a kind of Paradise Lost for teenagers.

When you read His Dark Materials, at first you fall in love with the idea of the daemon, a kind of external manifestation of the soul that expresses itself as a talking animal. And you fall in love with watching Pullman’s scrappy, clever heroine, Lyra, battle her way past immeasurably powerful adults. But what gives the trilogy its staying power is realizing that Lyra is battling against powers that want to teach her to hate her body and deny an essential part of her soul. That’s what most people remember about the trilogy after they’re done with it, and what makes it stay in their minds long after the first reading. read more

U.S. abortion rate falls, but the procedure is still common among certain groups

The U.S. abortion rate fell 25 percent between 2008 and 2014, though the procedure is still a common experience, according to a new study published Thursday in the Journal of Public Health. The falling rates were also not even across all groups, and the procedure has become increasingly concentrated among lower-income people.

The study found that, in 2008, there were 19.4 abortions per 1,000 women and gender minorities between the ages of 15 and 44. By 2014, that number had fallen to 14.6 per 1,000. The study’s authors suggest that the drop is largely explained by better improved contraceptive use, which experts suggest is one of the main drivers of the falling teen pregnancy rate, as well. read more

Vox Sentences: Egypt’s LGBTQ community isn’t safe

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what’s happening in the world, curated by Ella Nilsen. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

Chinese President Xi Jinping consolidates power; the new bipartisan health care bill has already hit a snag; Egyptian authorities are intensifying a crackdown on LGBTQ people.

China’s president tightens his grip on power

 Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images
  • Chinese officials gathered today for the country’s most important political event, the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party, where they will select new leaders. [CNN / Katie Hunt and Steven Jiang]
  • There’s not a lot of suspense around the outcome of the elections. Chinese President Xi Jinping will likely hold on for another five-year term, especially as he’s spent much of his first term consolidating power. [NPR / Anthony Kuhn]
  • Xi’s message to party leaders at the Congress is that the communist power should exercise control over pretty much every aspect of life in China, even more so than it already does. Xi also called on the country to advance its position on the world stage. [Washington Post / Simon Denyer]
  • Xi has a firm grip on power already; in addition to being president, he’s also the leader of the Chinese Communist Party and controls the military, which is more control than previous presidents have had. In recent weeks, a few prominent generals have disappeared from public view. [NYT / Chris Buckley and Steven Lee Myers]
  • The president’s term has seen a targeted crackdown on corruption in the Communist Party, with purges of some of its central figures. [Financial Times / Tom Mitchell]
  • Xi has also gone after dissidents, human rights lawyers, and free speech in general. Life in China is rife with censorship, and the government monitors social media and messaging apps. [BBC / Stephen McDonnell]
  • This crackdown has extended into the Chinese countryside, where the government scrutinizes the every move of Chinese Uighurs, a Muslim minority group. The rationale for the increased surveillance is that the government is keeping tabs on possible terror plots, but people in the region say police monitor every aspect of their lives and throw them in jail for minor offenses. [BuzzFeed / Megha Rajagopalan]

The new bipartisan health care deal is on thin ice

 Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • About a week after President Trump cut off key federal subsidies, weakening the Affordable Care Act, two senators cut a bipartisan deal to try to stabilize the federal health care law. [The Hill / Peter Sullivan] Republican Lamar Alexander and Democrat Patty Murray announced a bill yesterday that had something for everyone: Democrats would get back federal subsidies known as cost-sharing reductions, as well as funding to continue outreach to make sure people know when they can sign up for health insurance. [WSJ / Michelle Hackman and Anna Wilde Mathews] Republicans, on the other hand, were promised that states would get more waivers for the health care law to give states more flexibility to shape their exchanges how they see fit. The bipartisan bill would also allow insurers to sell so-called “catastrophic health plans,” which are cheaper insurance plans with a higher deductible. [Vox / Dylan Scott] If the bill went through, it likely wouldn’t make much of a difference for 2018, because insurance companies have already set their prices and are likely to raise premiums to compensate for the chaos Trump has created by cutting subsidies and killing consumer outreach efforts. [Vox / Dylan Scott] But it would make a difference in the years after that, helping to stabilize the markets in 2019 and beyond. [Vox / Dylan Scott] This morning, in an interview with Axios, Alexander made it seem like Trump was not just on board with the bill but had also “completely engineered” it. [Axios / Mike Allen] Then literally minutes later, Trump pushed back on this idea on Twitter, saying that while he’s supportive of Lamar and the “process” of the bipartisan deal, he would not be responsible for bailing out insurance companies. [Donald Trump via Twitter] The bill’s future looks even more tenuous after House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokesperson said Ryan is committed to repealing and replacing Obamacare, not stabilizing it. [Vox / Dylan Scott]

    After a rainbow flag flew at an Egyptian concert, police are targeting LGBTQ people

     Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
    • The Egyptian government is intensifying a crackdown on LGBTQ people, with raids and arrests of more than 60 in the past month, according to human rights activists. [Washington Post / Sudarsan Raghavan]
    • At the same time, one Egyptian lawmaker has introduced a new bill to extend the maximum amount of time someone can be imprisoned for “debauchery” from three years to 25 years. [USA Today / Jacob Wirtschafter]
    • There are technically no anti-gay laws on the books in Egypt, but policy often target LGBTQ people with “debauchery” or “inciting immorality,” and anti-gay rhetoric is common among conservative politicians and religious leaders. [Quartz / Farid Farid]
    • Egypt is an extremely conservative and religious country, with both Muslims and Christians disapproving of homosexuality. [Washington Post / Sudarsan Raghavan]
    • Arrests have gone on for years, but the recent crackdowns were in part inspired by a rainbow flag being waved for the first time in Egypt last month, at a performance by the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila, whose lead singer is openly gay. Seven people were arrested after the concert. [NYT / Declan Walsh]
    • Human rights groups believe the increased crackdowns signify the Egyptian government trying to be tough and viciously push back on the idea that there are LGBTQ people living in the country. [NYT / Nour Youseff and Liam Stack]
    • This has created a culture of fear in Egypt’s LGBTQ community, which tries to keep quiet to protect people. Those who have been arrested and jailed face a lot of public stigma, and many keep quiet about their sexuality for fear of the consequences. [CNN / Ian Lee and Sarah Sirgany]

    Miscellaneous

    • It turns out there’s a reason your eyedrops always spill out onto your cheeks: Drug companies designed them to be much larger than we need. Why, you ask? For profit. [ProPublica / Marshall Allen]
    • For a while, an online mattress review business was extremely lucrative for blogger Derek Hales. That was before he ran afoul of Casper, one of his most important partnerships. [Fast Company / David Zax]
    • Traffic fatalities are getting a bump from distracted drivers, but it’s not the drivers themselves who are most likely to be killed. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists are more at risk. [Bloomberg / Kyle Stock, Lance Lambert, and David Ingold]
    • California’s fires have been a huge blow to the state’s wineries but also to immigrant workers who pick grapes in the fields. Many are now out of a job and have nowhere to turn for help. [NBC / Carmen Seson]
    • Russian Twitter bots are now turning their attention to Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, after thousands of fake Russian accounts started following him. [AL.com / Howard Koplowitz]

    Verbatim

    Read this: How the candy industry turned chocolate into a health food

     Javier Zarracina/Vox

    The Mars company has sponsored hundreds of scientific studies to show cocoa is good for you. [Vox / Julia Belluz] read more

Hatch takes hundreds of thousands from big pharma, calls Marino report ‘baloney’

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) called a report that led Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) to withdraw as President Donald Trump’s “drug czar” nominee “complete baloney” on Wednesday. Given that Hatch himself has raked in hundreds of thousands in donations from pharmaceutical and health contributors over the years, his comments were hardly surprising.

The Washington Post report detailed a law that ultimately undermined the Drug Enforcement Authority’s (DEA) ability to go after drug distributors, which was sponsored by Marino in the House and by Hatch in the Senate. read more

Vox Sentences: Raqqa is free from ISIS, but in ruins

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what’s happening in the world, curated by Ella Nilsen. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

US-backed Syrian forces reclaim Raqqa from ISIS; Trump’s pick for the nation’s “drug czar” withdraws his name after an explosive investigation; a 31-year-old right-wing politician is poised to become Austria’s next chancellor. read more

The problem with Fox’s Alabama Senate race poll

The Alabama Senate race is all tied up, according to a Fox News poll released Tuesday. The only problem? The poll doesn’t screen for likely voters.

The Fox poll has Republican nominee Roy Moore and Democratic nominee Doug Jones tied at 42 percent. The results are striking for the deep red state, as Fox notes in their story.

“Donald Trump won Alabama by 28 points in 2016, yet the Steve Bannon-backed Moore defeated the president’s favored candidate, incumbent Luther Strange, in the GOP primary,” Fox writes. read more

Vox Sentences: A tropical cyclone is fueling wildfires in Europe

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what’s happening in the world, curated by Ella Nilsen. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

Iraqi military forces move into Kurdistan after independence referendum; a tropical storm fans the flames of deadly European wildfires; Somalia is reeling after one of its worst terrorist attacks.

Iraq and Kurdistan are fighting

 Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images
  • Three weeks after a contentious Kurdish independence referendum, Iraqi forces have entered the region and begun a military confrontation, shooting at Kurdish fighters in the city of Kirkuk. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • Iraq is trying to stop the Kurds from splitting off and forming their own country, after warning the autonomous region for weeks not to hold a vote on independence. [NYT / David Zucchino]
  • Now the Iraqi military is following up threats with actual violence; they are targeting key infrastructure including a military base and an oil field in the northern city of Kirkuk. [Washington Post / Loveday Morris and Mustafa Salim]
  • There’s a reason Kirkuk is the setting of the latest fighting: It’s disputed territory between the Iraqi government and the Kurds, who captured the city in 2014 after the Iraqis abandoned it as part of the fight against ISIS. The two sides were busy fighting the radical Islamist terrorist group in recent years, but with ISIS out of northern Iraq, their attention has now turned to each other. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • There’s no official number of deaths or injuries yet, but Kurdish officials have said there have been “lots of casualties” and civilians are fleeing Kirkuk, heading for the capital of Erbil. [CBS]
  • For their part, Kurdish leaders are showing no signs of backing off after the vote for independence went through. The US had opposed the referendum because it was worried it would fuel violence. [BBC]
  • This puts the United States in a tricky spot, because it’s allied itself with both the Iraqi government and the Kurds in the past. The Kurdish peshmerga were key US allies in the fight against ISIS in Iraq. [PBS Newshour / Christopher Livesay]
  • It could cause tensions between the US and Iraq; Sen. John McCain, chair of the Armed Services Committee, has already said Iraq should stop its fighting with the Kurds, and that it should not use American equipment for the battle. [NPR / Bill Chappell]

Feeling the heat

 Francisco Leong/AFP/Getty Images
  • Firefighters in Spain and Portugal are battling dozens of blazes in both countries, which have so far killed 35 people and injured dozens more. [NYT / Raphael Minder] There are more than 100 fires spread across the two countries, and authorities say they believe some of those were set intentionally. [Associated Press] And it’s not even the first spate of deadly fires in Portugal, which saw 62 fatalities in a separate fire earlier this year. Conditions in Europe have been very hot and dry this summer, which have not helped quell the blazes. [CNN / Julia Jones, Nicole Chavez, and Chandrika Narayan] While some of the fires may have been started by humans, they’re being fueled by an unlikely culprit: a rare cyclone named Hurricane Ophelia, which is still churning off the coast of Ireland and the United Kingdom. [Vox / Umair Irfan] Ophelia is unleashing some of its worst weather in the UK, but its winds are also fanning the flames of the Spain and Portugal wildfires, making it difficult for firefighters to get a handle on the blazes. [Guardian / Sam Jones] Over the past five decades, Europe has seen its fire season gradually get longer. Fires used to be worse from July through August; now the continent’s fire season regularly goes into October. And Ophelia’s rains aren’t expected to provide relief to Spain and Portugal anytime soon. [Vox / Umair Irfan]

    Somalis are calling this weekend’s deadly bombing their 9/11

     Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images
    • Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, was struck with the worst violence it has seen in decades on Saturday, with two truck bombs exploding in a busy city intersection, killing more than 300 people. [NPR / Colin Dwyer]
    • Government officials have called it “the deadliest single attack” in the country and are blaming the attack on the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab, which is affiliated with al-Qaeda. [Guardian / Jason Burke]
    • Only a third of the people who died have been able to be identified so far, as some of the bodies were burned so badly that they were not able to be recognized. [BBC]
    • Al-Shabaab has been battling with Somalia’s government for years, and shootings and explosions are nothing new in the capital. But the terrorist group has also been promising worse violence recently, as the government’s military has promised to crack down on them. [The Guardian / Jason Burke]
    • The government itself is also coming under scrutiny for the lack of security in the area, especially after vowing to weaken a group that carried out such a deadly attack. Somalia’s government is unstable and being propped up with international help, but it is supposed to start functioning on its own next year. [NYT / Hussein Mohamed and Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura]
    • The US military has been active in the fight against al-Shabaab in the past year, carrying out 15 airstrikes. The US promised to double down on the fight against the organization, but some questioned whether the US strategy is working, given this most recent bombing. [Atlantic Council / Rachel Ansley]

    Miscellaneous

    • Apparently, it takes a lot of time and effort to hand-sew the ornate, floor-length vestments priests wear. Just ask Sister Clare, a nun in California who worked four days to make one robe. [Racked / Nadra Nittle]
    • One of President Trump’s sexual assault accusers just subpoenaed documents pertaining to every single woman who has accused Trump of sexual assault and harassment in the past. It remains to be seen whether she’s able to get them. [BuzzFeed / Kendall Taggart and Jessica Garrison]
    • Cuts to federal funding for public universities have wide-reaching implications in the Midwest, where research is a big economic boon to towns and cities where the universities are. [The Atlantic / Jon Marcus]
    • States across the country are passing laws to crack down on fake service dogs — an elaborate ruse people craft in order to bring their pups everywhere. [PBS Newshour / Michael Ollove]
    • There’s now a third gender option for California residents: Rather than checking off male or female, people can choose to be nonbinary. [BuzzFeed / Jessica Testa]

    Verbatim

    “I don’t mingle … down South, gossiping and meddling is like breathing.”[Transgender musician Jackie Shane to NYT / Reggie Ugwu] read more

Photojournalist launches online campaign against Ed Gillespie over stolen image

Spanish photojournalist Pau Coll Sanchez launched a social media campaign on Monday targeting Republican candidate for Virginia governor, Ed Gillespie. Coll is demanding that Gillespie to stop using his work without permission and to pay him what he’s owed.

Gillespie’s campaign appropriated one of Coll’s photographs in a political attack ad about the MS-13 gang, ThinkProgress reported last month.  

Coll and his photo agency, RUIDO Photo in Spain, told ThinkProgress that after contacting Gillespie’s campaign and being ignored, they decided to launch a public campaign demanding that Gillespie stop using the photograph in the ad, which has been broadcast aggressively on television commercials since it first aired. read more

The Rundown with Robin Thede carves out a unique spot for itself in the late-night TV landscape

The Rundown with Robin Thede isn’t quite like any other late-night show — a welcome rarity.

Every Sunday, we pick a new episode of the week. It could be good. It could be bad. It will always be interesting. You can read the archives here. The episode of the week for October 7 through 14 is “Episode 1.1,” the series premiere of BET’s The Rundown with Robin Thede.

Every time I start to get overwhelmed by the number of late night shows on TV, I remind myself that we’re experiencing an unprecedented tidal wave of news. We might as well have a variety of options when turning to a comedian for sharp commentary on it all, and now, BET is making a smart bet that people will want to do exactly that with The Rundown’sRobin Thede. read more

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