My Top 10 Stories of 2016

It’s been a busy news year, to say the least, and I’ve reported on everything from primaries in New Hampshire to marijuana in Georgia to terrorism in cyberspace. Here are my top 10 stories of 2016, in no particular order:

History of the Olympic Games

Next month, athletes from around the world will flock to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the 31st Summer Olympics.

The games are more than just an athletic competition. They’re also a way for the host city and country to show themselves off on the international stage, for nations to come together in friendly competition, and for people to show off their national pride.

But how do the Olympics work, and when did they start? We have the answers.

Read the rest of this article at Teen Vogue …

Donald Trump’s Position on Gun Control

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has built his campaign on equal parts bombast and populism — calling undocumented Mexican immigrants “rapists” one minute and pushing tax hikes on top earners the next. So it may not be surprising to learn that Trump walks the same line when it comes to gun rights.

“I do carry [a concealed gun], on occasion. Sometimes a lot. But I like to be unpredictable, so people don’t know exactly when I’m carrying,” Trump quipped at a Republican debate in October. He went on to criticize so-called “gun-free zones” — like schools and some private businesses — where it’s illegal to carry a weapon.

Read the rest of this article, at Teen Vogue …

Why the Dramatic Sit-In Over Gun Control Laws Just Ended

The dramatic showdown between House Democrats and Republicans over a gun control vote has come to an end, 25 hours after it started. Led by John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia, lawmakers staged an unconventional sit-in protest over the government’s inaction over gun violence in the country. Following the Orlando shooting, which killed 49 and injured another 53, politicians from both parties sought to enact stricter gun laws, but failed miserably due to political divides.

Read the rest of this article at Teen Vogue …

Read This if You Keep Hearing About a “Brexit” But Aren’t Sure What It Is

On Thursday, people across Britain will go to the polls to decide whether their country should stay in the European Union or break away.

Like a celebrity couple making a media splash, there’s already a cute name for Britain leaving the EU — “Brexit,” short for “British exit.” It was the focus of a recent episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and J.K. Rowling has even weighed in with her opinion on her blog. It’s even even started dueling Twitter hashtags with #CatsForBrexit and #CatsAgainstBrexit.

Read the rest of this article at Teen Vogue …

America’s “Gun Laws” Allowed the Orlando Terrorist to Legally Purchase an Assault Rifle

Yesterday’s terrible shooting at Pulse, an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida, left 49 dead (in addition to the shooter, who was killed by police) and 53 injured. That makes it the largest mass shooting in American history and the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.

Authorities have identified the killer as 29-year-old Omar Mateen. He carried a handgun and an AR-15 style assault rifle into the club with him, according to authorities — weapons capable of killing many people very quickly as evidenced by this tragedy.

Mateen legally purchased those weapons, despite investigations in 2013 and 2014 by the Federal Bureau of Investigations for his potential ties to terrorism.

Read the rest of this article at Teen Vogue …

Ten Politicians Who Are Praying for the Orlando Victims and Have Taken Money from the NRA

Yesterday, the nation awoke to the terrible news that 50 people were dead and 53 wounded at an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Authorities have identified the gunman as 29-year-old Omar Mateen. The investigation is still ongoing, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation now says it previously investigated Mateen for ties to terrorism, and before he was killed by SWAT teams, he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, according to the New York Times.

It’s not yet clear whether Mateen was motivated by ISIS’s twisted ideology, by a toxic form of masculinity that could not bear the existence of gay men, or by a combination of the two. It is clear that he was able to legally purchase firearms, as the Times reports, and walk into a crowded nightclub with a semi-automatic assault rifle.

That’s re-ignited the national debate about gun reform. As the usual “our thoughts and prayers are with the families” tweets poured out from public figures on Sunday, many criticized the sentiments coming from politicians who’ve steadfastly opposed any new gun laws.

Read the rest of this article at Teen Vogue …

The Creepy and Disgusting Way Neo-Nazi Groups Are Targeting Jewish People on Social Media

When New York Times deputy editor Jonathan Weisman tweeted a Washington Post article comparing the rise of Donald Trump to the rise of fascism, he probably expected some negative reactions.

What he might not have expected was a torrent of anti-Semitic bile — everything from Holocaust references to hateful Jewish stereotypes — set off by a mysterious tweet from one apparent Trump supporter:

Hello ((Weisman)).

What Weisman didn’t know at the time, but soon learned, is that surrounding a Jewish-sounding name with two or three parentheses has become a secret symbol among neo-Nazis online — a flag telling other racists to dog-pile the person in question.

Read the rest of this article at Teen Vogue …

At Least 4.2 Million Americans Are Getting a Raise Today

Today, the Labor Department finalized rules that it says will extend overtime pay to 4.2 million workers across the country.

Under current rules, executive, administrative, and professional workers who make over $23,600 a year are not eligible for overtime pay. The new rule will raise that level to $47,476 a year. This means that millions of workers will automatically be eligible for overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours per week.

The new salary threshold will automatically increase every three years. It could go up to $51,000 a year in 2020, according to a fact sheet issued by the White House.

Finally, the new rules raise the threshold for who’s considered a “highly compensated employee,” and is exempt from overtime pay without meeting some of the other requirements for exemption. That threshold will rise from $100,000 to $134,004.

Read the rest of this article at Teen Vogue …

More Than 60 New England Private Schools Accused of Covering Up Sexual Abuse on Campus

Some of the most elite private schools in New England have ignored and covered up allegations of sexual abuse by staff for decades, according to a disturbing report in Friday’s Boston Globe.

The Globe’s Spotlight Team, which does in-depth investigative reporting, found 200-plus victims at 67 private schools, resulting in more than 90 legal claims since 1991. Its report details cases at the Fessenden School in Massachusetts, St. George’s School in Rhode Island, and Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.

Read the rest of this article at Teen Vogue …

President Obama Just Admitted That Beyonce Actually Runs the World

We all know girls run the world. But when President Obama addressed the graduating class of Howard University on Saturday, he had two particular women in mind.

“When I was graduating, the main black hero on TV was Mr. T,” Obama told the graduates. “Rap and hip hop were counterculture, underground. Now, Shonda Rhimes owns Thursday night, and Beyoncé runs the world.”

Read the rest of this article at Teen Vogue …

What You Need to Know About Cinco de Mayo Before You Offend an Entire Culture

Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo — literally, May 5. This holiday marks an important day in Mexican history. But in the U.S., many people use it as an excuse to party with friends and engage in offensive behavior such as donning stereotypically “Mexican” costumes.

There’s nothing wrong with being goofy and having a good time. But for many Mexican Americans, the stereotypes that get trotted out on Cinco de Mayo undercut a holiday that’s meant to celebrate important values like bravery, community, belonging, and self-determination.

The problem has gotten so bad that a group of Latino professionals on Twitter started the #CincoDeFallo hashtag to highlight Cinco de Mayo fails, according to Marcela Garcia, an editorial writer at The Boston Globe.

“It’s beyond just ruining the holiday,” Garcia tells Teen Vogue. “It’s a huge source of disrespect and yet another way to exhibit ignorance of other cultures.” So what is Cinco de Mayo? What does it mean to Mexicans and Mexican Americans? And how did the U.S. turn it into a party holiday? Let’s break it down.

Read the rest of this article at Teen Vogue …

Some Republicans Are Really Sad That Donald Trump Is Their “Presumptive” Nominee

Donald Trump won a decisive victory in Indiana’s Republican presidential primary last night, forcing Ted Cruz out of the race and all but clinching the Republican presidential nomination.

“From the beginning, I’ve said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory,” Cruz, the first-term senator from Texas, told supporters last night in his concession speech. “I’m sorry to say it appears that path has been foreclosed.” While the Republican campaign has taken a vicious turn in recent weeks, Trump extended an olive branch to Cruz in his victory speech Tuesday night, saying, “He is a tough, smart guy. And he has got an amazing future… I know how tough it is.”

With Cruz out of the race, Trump now has an almost certain path to the Republican nomination. While Ohio Governor John Kasich remains in the race, his campaign is now largely symbolic. Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus all but called for Kasich to drop out shortly after Cruz’s announcement.

Many conservatives chafed at the idea. Some tweeted pictures to Priebus of their burning voter registration cards. Others tweeted him photos of themselves logging online to change their party affiliation.

Read the rest of this article at Teen Vogue …

How You Could Be Eligible for a Major Pay Raise This Summer

Millions of Americans could soon get a raise, courtesy of the Obama Administration.

Last June, President Barack Obama announced a change to Department of Labor regulations that will extend overtime pay to most U.S. workers who earn a salary of $50,440 or less.

“In this country, a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay,” Obama wrote in a Huffington Post op-ed that announced the rule change. “That’s at the heart of what it means to be middle class in America.”

The change could go into effect as early as this summer, according to the trade publication AccountingWeb.

Read the rest of this article at Teen Vogue …

Why the World’s Deadliest Terrorist Group Is Training Girls to Be Suicide Bombers

A disturbing report in The New York Times details how the terrorist group Boko Haram, which is active in West Africa, trains women and girls as suicide bombers.

Boko Haram has used at least 101 women and girls as suicide bombers since June 2014, according to data compiled by The Long War Journal. The group has abducted some 2,000 women and children since 2012, and The Times reports that its female captives are ideal suicide bombers because they’re less likely to face scrutiny and suspicion. Girls are also able to easily hide heavy machinery or deadly material in their dresses or baskets. The idea of using females as suicide bombers is not a new one — The Times reports that women have been utilized as deadly weapons in other conflicts too, such as in Chechnya and Sri Lanka.

Read the rest of this article at Teen Vogue …

(Gabe Palmer/Getty)

What the Second Amendment Actually Says About the Right to Bear Arms

In an emotional speech on Tuesday, President Obama announced new measures he said will help rein in gun violence.

The move comes after several high-profile mass shootings last year in Colorado, California, and Oregon, which collectively left 28 people dead and many others injured. New data released this year by researchers at Harvard University shows that these kinds of mass shootings are on the rise — and are just a small fraction of total U.S. gun deaths.

Despite these startling numbers, many conservative groups — especially the National Rifle Association (NRA) — oppose new gun regulations, which they argue violate citizens’ Second Amendment right to bear arms. Responding to Obama’s announcement on Tuesday, the NRA said the Obama administration “made no secret of its contempt for the Second Amendment.”

Obama predicted that criticism in his speech, and said in his announcement, “I believe in the Second Amendment. It’s there, written on the paper.”

But what is the Second Amendment, and what does “the right to bear arms” really mean? More importantly, why do some people feel it is more important than our right to life and general safety?

Read the rest of this article at Teen Vogue …

ISIS supporters hold the group's flag aloft (Tauseef Mustafa:AFP:Getty Images)

What Is ISIS? A Primer on the Terrorist Group Behind the Attacks in Paris

Last weekend, French President François Hollande declared war on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the terrorist group that has taken responsibility for the brutal attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad last week. The Paris attack left at least 129 people dead, with another 46 dead in Beirut and 18 in Baghdad. ISIS has also claimed responsibility for downing a Russian airliner in Egypt earlier this month, killing 224 people.

With that violent track record, ISIS, also known as Daesh, has become on of the world’s most dangerous security threats — and they’re a relatively new organization.

But who and what is ISIS, exactly?

Read the rest of this article at Teen Vogue …