This educator didn’t punish troublesome kids. She gave them a closet full of stuff.

This time last year, the top three most misbehaved boys at Equetta Jones’ elementary school were from the same family.

As assistant principal, it fell to Jones to figure out how to solve the problem. Other educators might prescribe detentions, suspensions, extra tutoring help, or even a doctor’s appointment to be evaluated for an attention-deficit issue. But Jones sensed that the problem ran deeper — and she had a solution.

“No child comes in every day and says ‘I want to be angry. I want to hit you. I want to curse you out. I don’t want to learn,’” she says. “So it is our responsibility to find out why they’re verbalizing those things.”

Photo courtesy of Equetta Jones/Highlands Elementary School, used with permission.

Often, the problem is the same: Many kids are not having their basic health, shelter, and nutritional needs met. “The middle class, we forget about the fact that when we wake up every morning, we wake up with shelter,” Jones says.

Not all of her students have that luxury.

That’s why Jones’ school worked with an organization called First Book to install a “Care Closet” — a supply of basic essentials for kids in need.

First Book, which supplies books and educational tools for kids in low-income communities, started offering living essentials when they heard from teachers that they’re just as important when it comes to helping kids do well in school.

With the Care Closet in place, Jones can give kids what they need and establish a sense of security so they can focus on school.

Photo courtesy of Equetta Jones/Highlands Elementary School, used with permission.

Her students are no longer worried about whether or not their basic needs are being met. “Their focus is now on coming in and being the best student they can be.”

The Care Closet project gives kids what they need to succeed. But they’re not handouts — they’re hand-ups.

Jones has a system in place to make sure the supplies make the greatest possible impact on the lives of the students.

Parents can come and ask for help, or if teachers notice that a child has an issue, they can discreetly let Jones know and she’ll take the child aside and get them what they need.

Photo courtesy of Equetta Jones/Highlands Elementary School, used with permission.

“I will give them the care package, let them go to the bathroom, clean themselves up, give them a fresh pair of clothes, fold up the dirty clothes, and then send them back home and call up the parents and let them know what I did,” she says. The whole process is discreet; Jones even bought department store-style shopping bags to keep their contents private.

Once the kids have what they need, that’s when the real work begins. When Jones calls children’s parents, there’s an understanding: Though the Care Closet doesn’t cost money, it doesn’t come for free.

“You need to give Ms. Jones back some time,” she says. Parents are asked to come into school and be engaged — either through volunteering or through coaching sessions that help the parents deal with some of the pressing problems in their families’ lives.

“We feel that the information we’re giving is going to not only help them as a parent but also help the child within the classroom.

Photo courtesy of First Book, used with permission.

Jones’ method has already created big changes for some of the families at her school.

The three boys who were at the top of the disciplinary chart last year? They’re thriving now — thanks to Jones’ care closet intervention.

She found out that the boys’ mother was in an unhealthy relationship that was having a toxic effect on the whole family. “But she was afraid to leave because then the children wouldn’t have anything,” she says.

Photo courtesy of First Book, used with permission.

So Jones brought her in for a conversation.

“I connected her with some outside resources, gave her a scripted plan of what we expected of her,” she says. “And then we said, ‘Mom, follow through with us and we’ll do everything we can to support you.’” That was in September.

“Now it’s November, and Mom just recently moved into her own place,” Jones says. “She meets with me regularly for coaching sessions, we helped her write a resume, and she now has a job at one of our elementary schools.”

Now that their basic needs are being met, the three boys can concentrate on being successful kids. “They’re starting to smile,” she says. “They’re proud of who they’re becoming.”

Photo courtesy of First Book, used with permission.

First Book continues to expand the Care Closet project across the country.

When kids have a caring presence like Jones and the resources they need, they have an opportunity to succeed.

“Unfortunately, if we don’t catch those signs in advance, we’re faced with some of the situations that some of my older students are faced with,” she says. When their basic needs aren’t met, kids become desperate.

“It’s never, ‘I plan to grow up and be this criminal,'” she says. “It’s ‘I was faced with a situation and I found out this was a way for me to get things I couldn’t get.'”

That’s why Jones is so adamant about making sure her students have a solid foundation to further their education.

“All of their needs are being met here,” she says. And now that they have established that stability, “They know that their job is to go and learn.”

For more, take a look at how First Book’s Care Closets are changing schools across the country:

Millions of children from low-income areas don’t have the tools needed to learn, placing them at a disadvantage that perpetuates poverty. First Book is a community that believes education is the way out of poverty for kids in need.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/this-educator-didnt-punish-troublesome-kids-she-gave-them-a-closet-full-of-stuff

5 Foods You Never Should Have Cut Out Of Your Diet

Some food myths were made up decades ago, and yet we still can’t seem to shake them. Like, sometimes we’ll take any tips we can get, but we don’t stop to realize this advice was literally created during the same time that women were advised not to exercise because it would make them less feminine. It’s 2017, and we’re *starting* to know better. I mean, if we can order bottles of tequila on an app and convince our boyfriends to go to a Rihanna-themed spin class on a Saturday, we can do anything. It’s time to stop giving up healthy foods just because someone once told us they’re unhealthy. Here are six we can start with:

1. Regular Potatoes

So many “healthy people” will devour sweet potatoes by the bowl, but would never touch a regular potato. These people are straight-up misinformed. Honestly, sweet potatoes have a little more fiber than regular potatoes and they’re a little lower in calories, but the difference isn’t that dramatic, so you can stop crying when your By Chloe waiter brings you regular fries when you ordered sweet potato. Regular potatoes have a terrible rep, and while they are a starchy carb, they’re really not that bad for you. They have more vitamin C than sweet potatoes do, and also have more protein and less sodium. Game changer.

2. Gluten

The gluten-free diet is such a lost cause, and honestly we need to backtrack a bit. Once upon a time, people had (and still have) legit Celiac disease, a medical intolerance to gluten. These people were told by their doctors to cut out gluten, and suddenly they looked and felt 10 times better. Ever since then, half of society thinks they need to follow the same advice when they don’t even have a gluten intolerance. Obviously eating enough bread and crackers everyday will make you fat, but you’re not gonna get fat just by having gluten in your diet. Let’s put it this way. If you can’t explain what gluten is, you shouldn’t be gluten-free.

3. Egg Yolks

Egg yolks are one of those things that people shunned in the 70’s and the myth never really recovered, even though our science has majorly advanced. While the egg white is the part of the egg with no fat and a few grams of protein, the yolk carries a ton of important vitamins, like vitamin B12, D, A, B-6, zinc, and iron. It has a few grams of fat, but it’s healthy fat that will just help keep you more full after your meal. Also, for anyone who told you yolks are high in cholesterol, it’s actually not the same cholesterol that’s bad for your body. Basically, we gotta let go of the yolk myth. I mean, the people who decided the yolks are bad for you are the same people who smoked cigs while pregnant. Let that sink in for a sec.

4. Feta Cheese

A lot of people think getting cheese added to your salad is unhealthy, but those are also the people who enjoy the taste of kale and think Balsamic vinegar is a suitable dressing. Feta cheese isn’t bad for you. First of all, it’s lower in calories than most other cheeses, but it’s also packed with vitamins that are so good for you, like Vitamin D, B12, calcium, and iron. Cheeses like mozzarella and cheddar don’t have half as many health benefits as feta. It’s pretty high in sodium so I wouldn’t go ham, but adding some here and there is actually fine for you.

5. Packaged Bars

Protein bars and energy bars get a bad rap for being glorified candy bars, but honestly it depends what brand you’re buying. So many of these bars are filled with shit that you wouldn’t feed to your friend’s dog, but some of them are actually pretty good when it comes to their ingredients. Products like RX Bars, Square Bars, Lara Bars, and Go Macro bars all have super clean ingredients and minimal added sugars. Any nutritionist will tell you that whole foods and fresh produce are better than processed bars, but if you’re starving at 4pm and just need a bar so you don’t keel over, they’re really not bad for you. It just depends if you’re picking up the bar with four ingredients or the one that sounds like a warning label on a pharmaceutical prescription. 

6. Frappuccinos

I’m obviously kidding. These are fucking terrible for you. Order a cold brew like everyone else. 

Read more: http://www.betches.com/5-foods-you-never-should-have-cut-out-of-your-diet

GOP Senator Implies Those Who Aren’t Millionaires Waste Money On ‘Booze, Women’

In an astonishing defense of dropping “death taxes” for individual estates worth more than $5.5 million, GOP Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley implied that people not currently affected by that tax are “spending every darn penny … on booze or women.”

“I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing — as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies,” Grassley told the Des Moines Register in an interview published Saturday. Grassley, who serves on the Finance Committee, made the remark when asked about the Senate tax reform measure which would double the exemption for estates to $11 million for an individual and $22 million for a couple. Heirs would inherit the estates tax-free.

Grassley’s comment triggered a wave of criticism on social media. Many complained that the working class is, in fact, spending “every darn penny” on raising their kids, caring for elderly parents, health care and putting food on the table. One Twitter user complained that the GOP was turning America into a version of “The Hunger Games.”

The Grassley interview was part of the Des Moines Register’s examination of how the tax reform measure radically reducing estate taxes will affect Iowans. Grassley has long argued that estate taxes, which currently must be paid on individual estates worth more than $5.5 million ($11 million for a married couple), hurt farms and small businesses in the state. Now, the Iowa senator apparently sees the tax change as a way to reward those who have accumulated millions of dollars by “investing.”

The newspaper found that the estate tax break will affect only “dozens” among 1.4 million Iowa taxpayers, according to IRS data, because almost all estates fall under the current exemption cap. The newspaper noted that the number of Iowans owing estate taxes was just 32 of 1.4 million taxpayers in 2012 — or .002 percent of the total. Sixty-one people — .004 percent of all Iowa taxpayers — filed estate taxes in 2015. Only a fraction of those were farmers or small business owners, the newspaper reported.

Currently, only .2 percent of Americans pay estate tax and will benefit from the changes. The House measure would eliminate the tax on all estates of any size by 2024. The Senate and House measures will have to be reconciled.

Rep. David Young (R-Iowa) and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) both applauded the changes in the estate tax and emphasized how the changes would help farms and small businesses. Young insisted in a newsletter Friday that it is a “myth” that “repealing the estate tax is a massive giveaway to the wealthiest Americans.”

Grassley said earlier this year that the federal estate tax “may force family members to liquidate to pay the death tax.”

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/grassley-estate-taxes-booze-women_us_5a247d89e4b03c44072e5a04

Apple’s new Heart Study app uses Apple Watch to look for heart problems

Image: joseph branston/Future Publishing via getty images

With this new app, your Apple Watch might save your life. 

Apple launched the Apple Heart Study app on Thursday, which will collect data on your heart rhythms using the Apple Watch, and send you a notification if you may be experiencing atrial fibrillation (AFib). 

To track your heart, the Apple Watch’s sensor uses flashing LED lights and light-sensitive photodiodes to detect the amount of blood pumping through your wrist. Apple is partnering with the Stanford University School of Medicine to conduct the study. 

If your watch discovers an irregular heart rhythm, Apple will provide a free consultation with a study doctor, and an electrocardiogram (ECG) patch to continue monitoring your heart rate.

Image: apple

Apple and Stanford will also aggregate the data the watch collects for macro-level insight on the Apple Watch’s effectiveness as a medical tool. In the past year, Stanford has funded a number of studies on digital health, and the use of the Apple Watch in multiple areas of medicine. Stanford will use the study to further evaluate the effectiveness of the Apple Watch as a tool of proactive health care. 

Apple unveiled the Apple Heart Study at its iPhone Event in September, along with the new watchOS. “We’ve been looking at this for a couple of years, and we think Apple Watch can help,” said Apple COO Jeff Williams, of AFib, at the keynote. 

He also noted that the Apple Watch has successfully identified arrhythmia in previous third-party studies. Since the launch of Apple’s open-source ResearchKit in 2015, universities have been able to use the iPhone and Apple Watch in their medical research. 

ResearchKit has enabled 12 research study apps, including a Concussion Tracking app from NYU Langone, a mole-mapping app that detects melanoma from Oregon Health and Science University, and an app promoting sleep health from the University of California San Diego, all of which are free on the app store. Stanford also has a ResearchKit app of its own, called MyHeart Counts, which studies general heart health. 

This is the first heart study that Apple itself will conduct. 

You can download the Apple Heart Study for free from the app store if you’re 22 or older and have an Apple Watch. 

Every editorial product is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our journalism.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/30/apple-heart-study-launched/

6 TV Families Who Are More Psycho Than Yours In Honor of Thanksgiving

We’re a mere day away from Thanksgiving, and I’m already mentally preparing myself for interacting with my family for five long, uninterrupted days. I mean, don’t get me wrong—I love them, but the thought of spending nine hours in a car to get to our Thanksgiving destination and then spending five more days with people who continually ask me bullshit questions like “so what’s your plan for the future?” or “where do you see yourself next year?” or “your 15-year-old brother has a girlfriend now, what about you?” literally makes me want to jump in the path of an oncoming train. What’s my plan for the future? To blackout as quickly as possible and avoid this conversation, obviously. My 15-year-old brother has a girlfriend, what about me? Well, just last Friday I was choosing between a thrilling evening spent taking Zzzquil and re-watching old episodes of or responding to a “drag me to you room” text from a romantic suitor whose idea of a date is grabbing drinks and then going “splitsies” on the tab. So, yeah, things are going well on that front. Honestly I’m exhausted from this conversation already and I haven’t even gotten there yet. I’m assuming that you, like me, sometimes equate Thanksgiving to being held hostage by the people you have to love unconditionally. But thankfully for you, I spend 90 percent of my time comparing my situation to that of fictional characters, and let me just tell you, there are families out there who are wayyy bigger psychopaths than yours. Blessings. So here are 6 TV families who are worse than yours in honor of Thanksgiving:

1. The Blossoms/Coopers — ‘Riverdale’

If you know anything about me, you know that I shamelessly rep because I want to bang Jughead Jones it’s a damn good show. So, sorry not sorry, here I go again because when I think crazy families I can’t not mention . Don’t let the wholesome 1950s vibe fool you—this town is literally batshit crazy and so is every family who calls this psych ward of a town home. And no two families have bigger issues than the Blossoms and the Coopers. I mean, you think your family has problems? Imagine feuding over a condiment you can only use on pancakes. And that’s the least of their problems. In addition to starting a blood feud over maple syrup and who is more of a natural redhead (yes that’s an actual plot point on this show), there’s also the whole thing about their grandpappys being related and no one passing this little family secret down the line to their grandchildren. Was there a more iconic moment than when it was revealed that star-crossed lovers Polly and Jason were in fact COUSINS?? I was legit giddy when I found out the horrifying news, because nothing brings me more joy than watching two young, beautiful people realize they fell in love with someone they share some parts of their genetic code with. It’s really the little things that keep you going. And let’s never forget when Polly said perhaps the most best line to ever be said in TV history: “I’m an unwed mother carrying my cousin’s babies.” Pure fucking gold.

Honestly, she’s not wrong here.

2. The Gallaghers — ‘Shameless’

First of all, if you aren’t watching then you need to immediately because it’s one of the best damn shows on television. And I’m not just saying that because I want to climb Lip like a tree appreciate the talent on this show. That said, I’ve never met a more fucked up family in my life. Let’s start with the fact that Fiona, the oldest Gallagher sibling at age 21, becomes the sole caretaker of her five younger siblings—all of whom rank somewhere on a scale between hot-degenerate-I-would-gladly-let-fuck-me-up-emotionally to sets fire to feel joy Carl. That’s just like, the baseline of the bullshit the people on this show go through, and let me just tell you, their childhood trauma is something I love more than I love the man who delivers me pizza.

3. The Pearsons — ‘This Is Us’

I’m not gonna lie, I may or may not have gotten halfway through season one and given up because I was sobbing and rocking in a corner value my mental health, but that won’t stop me from judging the shit out of this show. Fucking duh. Tbh I don’t really understand why people are so obsessed with this family. I can’t go one damn episode without wanting to slit my wrists, and that’s usually a sentiment I save for when my mother asks if I want to look through her high school yearbooks with her. As far as I can tell, the Pearsons’ drama revolves around three 30-plus-year-old adults with bigger daddy issues than me. In the three episodes I’ve watched, there have been approximately three mental breakdowns, one long-lost father, one long-lost dying father, issues with body image, adoption drama, two mid-life crises, a dead parent, and a person who completely sabotaged their life in the span of five short minutes by means of a mental breakdown over a plastic doll (Kevin, I so admire your work btw). IN THREE EPISODES. Jesus. I need a xanax just writing all of that. If your family has more baggage than that at your Thanksgiving table, then I would recommend just not going home. Seriously, stay in your padded room apartment and celebrate from a safe distance. Like via your cousin’s drunk Snapchat story. 

4. The Coopers — ‘The O.C.’

Ah, . A staple of my childhood and a show that taught me that if you want to be the most sought-after girl in high school, all you need to do is have your stomach pumped in Mexico. V important life lessons right there. The show also taught me that no matter how many times my mother reported my pictures from freshman year of college to Facebook for “inappropriate content” she could never be worse than the legend that is Julie Cooper. Julie did a lot of fucked up shit on this show, like belittle her daughters from the inside out, sleep her way to the top of Newport society, threaten her daughter’s boyfriend with bodily harm and jail time, attempt to commit her daughter to a psych ward against her will for overdosing in Tijuana (not her worst idea tbh), and bang her daughter’s HIGH SCHOOL AGED ex-boyfriend. And that’s literally just season one. Don’t even get me started on her sex tape in the later seasons. No, hands down, Julie Cooper wins the psycho mother of the year award, followed closely by Kris Jenner of course. And I’ll be chanting this mantra silently in my head every time my mother asks me questions that involve the words “future” and “boyfriend.” 

5. The Scotts — ‘One Tree Hill’

, aka my actual will to live from grades six through senior year of college, had it all: hot brothers, high fashion jean skirts, and basketball games that served literally no purpose other than to generate cat fights and drama. Not to mention Nathan Scott is the reason I have trust issues a thing for dark haired, blue-eyed men who say shit like “but I wasn’t taught how to love!” *adds second entry for CW in burn book* Aside from the fact that every guy on this show was simultaneously beautiful and full of shit, the family dynamics were also pretty fucking dramatic. I mean, the whole premise of this show is that a high school douchebag knocked up not one, but TWO women before his freshman year of college and decided to only emotionally and financially support one. Then he had the audacity to live and raise his family in the same town as his bastard child. So basically this shit was (and low-key still is) my fucking catnip. And honestly if you have a father that’s worse than Dan Scott, then you should absolutely call the people at The CW because they will turn that shit into pure magic for my entertainment public consumption. 

^The reason my high school yearbook quote was “be the change you wish to see in the world” except I substituted “world” with “emotionally unavailable men”

6. The Hastings/DiLaurentis — ‘Pretty Little Liars’

And here we have yet another family with a high amount of almost-incest happening. I’m v sorry about this list. I didn’t mean to make it all about sibling/cousin love but that’s just what sells on Freeform and The CW how the cookie crumbles these days. My b. If you’ll recall, Spencer Hastings and Alison DiLaurentis were next door neighbors, best friends, and casual sharers of brothers and several strands of DNA on their mothers’ side. I would say there’s a lot that’s fucked up about Rosewood, PA, but Mr. Hastings is by far the most messed up thing to come out of that godforsaken town. Not only did he have a secret mistress on the side in the form of Mrs. DiLaurentis, with whom he shared a son, Jason, and told no one about—which almost resulted in Jason dating half-siblings on multiple occasions—but he also couldn’t keep it in his pants long enough to determine if he was banging said mistress or his mistress’s identical twin sister. And, yes, that plot summary was as painful to watch as it was to write out. Tbh I do not have enough time in my day to outline the intricate web that is the Hastings/DiLaurentis family tree, so just be fucking thankful that you’ve never almost banged your brother because your father neglected to tell you that you’re actually the result of a tryst gone wrong with his mistress’s identical twin sister. Bless up.

^A direct result of someone saying “give me good TV” and the writers at Freeform taking that to mean “will fill unexplainable plot holes with identical twins and bad English accents”

Read more: http://www.betches.com/6-tv-families-who-are-more-psycho-than-yours

A group researched the top 9 charities to give to on the holidays. It’s a surprising list.

Deworming and tropical disease prevention in the developing world might not be the obvious choice for where to spend your spare holiday cash.

But it might be where your dollar will do the most good.

A teacher gives a student a deworming tablet in Hyderabad, India. Photo by Noah Seelam/Getty Images.

That’s according to a list of the nine “Top Charities for Giving Season” released Monday by GiveWell, a nonprofit organization that applies a data-centered approach to determining which aid organizations do the most good for the most people. The result is a surprising list of charities with a range of causes that might be unfamiliar to many who want to give, but whose impact is often more immediate.

“We want people to be able to leverage all the time we’ve spent putting together this list so they can make a donation with confidence,” explains Catherine Hollander, a research analyst with GiveWell.

For the annual chart, the group evaluates charities in four categories: 1) transparency, 2) cost-effectiveness, 3) need, and 4) overall effectiveness, before awarding or denying it a spot. To measure cost-effectiveness the group calculates impact on a scale of “lives saved or improved per dollar spent.”

Some of the causes may be obscure (at least, in the developed world), but they’re wonderful options for those on a tight holiday budget looking to help the most people possible.

This year’s top choices are:

1. Against Malaria Foundation

An organization that purchases and distributes mosquito nets to families in malaria-afflicted countries.

2. Schistosomiasis Control Initiative

A U.K.-based charity that provides Ministries of Health in East, Central, and West Africa with drugs to treat parasitic infections.

3. Malaria Consortium’s seasonal malaria chemoprevention program

A nonprofit that specializes in the prevention and control of malaria, distributing life-saving drugs to young children affected by the disease in Africa and Asia.

4. Evidence Action’s Deworm the World Initiative

An organization that supports school-based deworming programs in Africa and South Asia.

5. Helen Keller International’s vitamin A supplementation program

An initiative that funds and provides training to government-run supplement drives in sub-Saharan Africa with the goal of reducing malnutrition and averting blindness and poor vision.

6. Sightsavers’ deworming program

An anti-blindness and disability rights organization that operates a deworming initiative in Africa.

7. END Fund’s deworming program

An anti-neglected tropical disease nonprofit that operates a deworming initiative with a special emphasis on Africa.

8. Evidence Action’s No Lean Season program

A program that provides no-interest loans to Bangladeshi farmers during annual periods when income is low.

9. GiveDirectly

A nonprofit that allows donors to send money directly to people living in extreme poverty via a mobile app.

A key component of the list is making sure the programs GiveWell recommends are more effective than just sending cash to people in need (or as effective, as is the case with GiveDirectly).

That means not only making sure they’re cost-effective, but ensuring the intended beneficiaries of the food, medicine, money, and preventative netting actually receive and use them. For the deworming charities, that involves, “going door to door and interviewing children to see if they received de-worming treatment,” explains Isabel Arjmand, also an analyst with the organization. Occasionally, GiveWell representatives conduct the on-the-ground reviews themselves. Other times, researchers with the organization analyze data provided by the charities, which is reviewed for reliability.

Children in Cambodia sleep under a mosquito net. Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images.

The list isn’t fully comprehensive, as GiveWell focuses on programs where the data on impact is plentiful and readily available. Initiatives where results are harder to quantify — those that promote women’s rights, LGBTQ equality, racial justice, etc. — aren’t an area of focus. Nor are causes like cancer prevention that disproportionately affects people in the developed world, where the cost-per-life-improved ratio is far higher. But for anyone who wants to ensure their dollars go to help the world’s neediest people quickly and efficiently, the list is an invaluable tool.

“One thing that for me personally really connects when I think about giving to causes that I haven’t myself experienced is… ‘What am I really trying to accomplish,'” Hollander says. “For me, it might be to alleviate suffering in general. And then I’m really excited to give to the place that allows me to do that to the fullest extent that I can with my donation.”

Contributions can also be made directly to GiveWell, which distributes the funds among the recommended organizations according to need.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/a-group-researched-the-top-9-charities-to-give-to-on-the-holidays-its-a-surprising-list

Dear Society: Women Shouldnt Have To Dress Modestly To Be Respected Or To Avoid Rape

Caju Gomes

Reducing the complexity of a woman to her body or equating her character to the way she dresses has been a damaging way to deny women their humanity and to victim-shame survivors of sexual assault and rape. In public schools, young girls across the country have been kicked out of proms and suspended from school for wearing clothing that was deemed too “revealing” and distracting, sometimes in light of overly rigid dress codes.  Unsurprisingly, the common targets of such policing tend to be women and it’s sadly only a microcosm of a larger culture in which women’s bodies and clothing choices are perpetually policed and shamed.

Rape victims are being interrogated about what they were wearing at the time of assault, despite the fact that the length of a woman’s skirt should be seen as a measure of her consent. Rape and sexual assault can happen to anyone at any time under any circumstances – whether they are wearing a burqa or a bikini. Society should know by now that this is a crime driven by a need for power, not by passion or sexual desire.

Yet even today, a woman’s “character” comes into question should she ever choose to dress or behave in a way that society deems as immodest. Just a month ago, NYPD police claimed that a 18-year-old woman could not possibly be a rape victim because she posted provocative selfies. But why on earth would posting “provocative selfies” ever negate the experience of being violated? Why are women constantly asked to cover themselves and be responsible for the potential reactions and actions of other people, especially predators?

This expectation of modesty has been placed on women far too long and has been used against them to excuse, minimize and rationalize horrific acts of violence.

Modesty shouldn’t be a prerequisite for respect and it shouldn’t be the sole indicator of self-respect. The level of modesty a female victim is perceived to have in her clothing choices is irrelevant – she is not to blame for the actions of her perpetrators.

There are many ways to respect yourself that have to do with clothing. Modesty is a personal preference and is just as legitimate of a choice as a woman choosing to dress in a more revealing manner.

The problem with controlling the way women dress in an effort to control the predatory responses of other people is that clothing itself is not the problem.

We are, as a society, conditioned to see women as objects. Their bodies – however modestly wrapped – are already over-sexualized even as young teens (or, as the disturbing show shows us, as children). This means that whenever we see a woman who bares her legs, cleavage, or even her collarbones, we reduce them automatically to objects rather than multifaceted human beings. We forget their humanity in the process.

The double standard is that our male counterparts are rarely, if ever, as scrutinized for being a “distraction” or reduced to anything less than human if they dare to bare their bodies. In general, women are far more policed when it comes to clothing not just in schools but in society as a whole.

For example, when fashion company Suistudio released a new ad campaign featuring powerful women in business suits using naked men as “props” (very much like the way women have been used in advertising), it caused an uproar because it was unsettling to see men depicted in the way women are – as objects, as props. When the tables are turned or flipped, the absurdity of such conditioning and objectification is revealed.

Equating female modesty with character means that women are taken less seriously as human beings due to their perceived lack of modesty. Their intelligence and accomplishments are frequently obscured by judgment cast on their clothing choices, whereas men can wear what they like while still having the “luxury” of being seen as full-fledged human beings.

“Our culture is so overwhelmed by the concept of females as sexual beings that whenever it comes to light, it is immediately seen as the only facet of a woman. It’s perfectly fine for us to see women as sexual objects, but once she becomes a sexual subject, she can’t be anything else. She can’t be ladylike, intelligent, politically conscious, or respectable…We seem to be afraid of women who can be all of this and more when really, we should admire and learn from them.”

— Isabella Milch, 

Society has no problem exploiting a woman’s naked body to meet its own needs, but it cannot handle a woman reestablishing control over her own body. As Milch writes, when women dare to step outside of being an object and become active subjects, taking control of their sexual agency and how they are presented, they are inevitably punished for it.

There is much backlash for any woman who doesn’t neatly fall into the Madonna-Whore dichotomy. It’s okay for women to be objectified in the media, but in society’s eyes, it is not okay for women to take control over how they dress or their sex lives. It’s not okay for a woman to be multifaceted – to be both intelligent and sensual, to love her body, to be respected for her talents and to (gasp) be a woman who enjoys sex just as much as men.

In addition, let’s not forget that some women’s bodies are seen as “inherently problematic” – especially bodies that are curvier or voluptuous. These bodies are often unfairly judged by society to be lewd or vulgar regardless of what clothing women wear.

Women who are curvier tend to be more shamed for wearing clothes that might otherwise be seen as “elegant” on someone with a different body shape.

“The modesty doctrine isn’t about clothes, it’s about bodies. It’s a method for punishing women who do not conform to an idealized, asexual, inoffensive body type…When I was rebuked for my clothing as a teenager, it was often identical to the clothing all the other girls were wearing. The only difference was that I had ‘developed’ first. The modesty doctrine defines some bodies as inherently problematic.”

Suzanne Calulu, 

How Arbitrary Standards of “Modesty” Leads to Victim Blaming

With the recent outpouring of stories exposing the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment along with the massive response to the #MeToo movement, it’s more important than ever that we reevaluate the ways we police women’s bodies. It is clear that this “modesty doctrine” can feed into a victim-shaming culture that continues to let the perpetrators off the hook while blaming the victims.

Actress Mayim Bialik came under fire recently for suggesting in a NYTimes op-ed that her modesty protected her from the sexual advances of Hollywood predators. She later issued an apology saying that victims are never to be blamed for being assaulted.

She’s not the only woman who has suggested that modesty protects women from being assaulted. In response to fellow gymnast’s Aly Raisman’s plea that survivors of rape not be judged or blamed based on their clothing choices, Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas (also a survivor of assault) suggested that women should not dress in such a way that it would “entice the wrong crowd.”

These responses from women themselves are a representation of  another problem – internalized misogyny. Female victims of assault are usually told they were to blame – and thus they internalize this as self-blame. Rather than looking more closely at the institutions and beliefs which give rise to the idea that victims are responsible for their own rapes, we are taught that we have to “own” our part of the problem.

Self-blame and internalized misogyny perpetuates the idea of the mythological “perfect victim” which simply does not exist. There is no way to truly avoid being a victim because anyone, at any time, under any circumstances, including the people you trust – could be a potential predator.

As women, we are often pitted against each other to compete and shame each other (and of course, this is how the patriarchy continues to be reinforced). There is an illusion that being the quintessential “good girl” protects us from heinous violations, despite the fact that a majority of rape victims are actually assaulted by someone they know and usually trust. Rape has nothing to do with a victim’s behavior or manner of dress.

This illusion of safety created by victim-shaming only creates a more dangerous society in which predators are rarely held accountable and victims are fearful of speaking out.

Now, should we treat women as independent agents, responsible for themselves? Of course. But being responsible has nothing to do with being raped. Women don’t get raped because they were drinking or took drugs. Women do not get raped because they weren’t careful enough. Women get raped because someone raped them. — Jessica Valenti, 

It’s about time that we start respecting women’s decisions about what they wear and stop using the ideals of modesty to control their sexuality or sexual agency.

Rape happens because rapists rape, period. People are “distracted” by revealing clothing because of societal conditioning that has us equating women’s clothing to character – a phenomenon that rarely happens when men wear revealing clothing. The way women dress is more heavily scrutinized they have been objectified and sexualized. It is because there is a need for society to see women as human beings and honor their complexity. This is a product of the patriarchy and it needs to be reexamined, not reinforced.

Women’s bodies don’t exist to please anyone. Women don’t exist to dress for or cater to what society wants them to be. Whatever your opinions on clothing choices may be, let’s agree on one thing: women should have the right to choose how to represent themselves on their own terms and they should not be blamed for being victimized.

Rather than making women bear the burden of other people’s responses to their bodies or clothing, it’s time to start dismantling some of the sick societal conditioning and double standards that have kept victims of assault and harassment silent for centuries.

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/shahida-arabi/2017/11/dear-society-women-shouldnt-have-to-dress-modestly-to-be-respected-or-to-avoid-rape/

Free Money: The Surprising Effects of a Basic Income Supplied by Government

Skooter McCoy was 20 years old when his wife, Michelle, gave birth to their first child, a son named Spencer. It was 1996, and McCoy was living in the tiny town of Cherokee, North Carolina, attending Western Carolina University on a football scholarship. He was the first member of his family to go to college.

McCoy’s father had ruined his body as a miner, digging tunnels underneath lakes and riverbeds, and his son had developed a faith that college would lead him in a better direction. So McCoy was determined to stay in school when Spencer came along. Between fatherhood, football practice, and classes, though, he couldn’t squeeze in much part-time work. Michelle had taken an entry-level job as a teacher’s aide at a local childcare center right out of high school, but her salary wasn’t enough to support the three of them.

Then the casino money came.

Just months before Spencer was born, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians opened a casino near McCoy’s home, and promised every one of its roughly 15,000 tribal members—among them Skooter and Michelle—an equal cut of the profits. The first payouts came to $595 each—a nice little bonus, McCoy says, just for being. “That was the first time we ever took a vacation,” McCoy remembers. “We went to Myrtle Beach.”

Once Spencer arrived, the checks covered the family’s car payments and other bills. “It was huge,” McCoy says. He graduated college and went on to coach football at the local high school for 11 years. Two decades later, McCoy still sets aside some of the money the tribe gives out twice a year to take his children—three of them, now—on vacation. (He and Michelle are separated.) And as the casino revenue has grown, so have the checks. In 2016, every tribal member received roughly $12,000. McCoy’s kids, and all children in the community, have been accruing payments since the day they were born. The tribe sets the money aside and invests it, so the children cash out a substantial nest egg when they’re 18. When Spencer’s 18th birthday came three years ago, his so-called “minor’s fund” amounted to $105,000 after taxes. His 12-year-old sister is projected to receive roughly twice that.

Skooter McCoy, 41, got his first casino payout when he was 20. A former high school football coach, McCoy now runs the local Boys’ Club.
Yael Malka for WIRED
In 2006, McCoy won the Frell Owl Award for contributions to the welfare of Cherokee children and families. He displays it on his desk at the Boys’ Club.
Yael Malka for WIRED

McCoy is now general manager of the Cherokee Boys Club, a nonprofit that provides day care, foster care, and other services to the tribe. At 41, he has a shaved head and wears a gray Under Armour T-shirt over his sturdy frame, along with a rubber bracelet around his wrist that reads, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

The casino money made it possible for him to support his young family, but the money his children will receive is potentially life-altering on a different scale. “If you’ve lived in a small rural community and never saw anybody leave, never saw anyone with a white-collar job or leading any organization, you always kind of keep your mindset right here,” he says, forming a little circle with his hands in front of his face. “Our kids today? The kids at the high school?” He throws his arms out wide. “They believe the sky’s the limit. It’s really changed the entire mindset of the community these past 20 years.”

These biannual, unconditional cash disbursements go by different names among the members of the tribe. Officially, they’re called “per capita payments.” McCoy’s kids call it their “big money.” But a certain kind of Silicon Valley idealist might call it something else: a universal basic income.

The idea is not exactly new—Thomas Paine proposed a form of basic income back in 1797—but in this country, aside from Social Security and Medicare, most government payouts are based on individual need rather than simply citizenship. Lately, however, tech leaders, including Facebook founders Mark Zuckerberg and Chris Hughes, Tesla’s Elon Musk, and Y Combinator president Sam Altman, have begun pushing the concept as a potential solution to the economic anxiety brought on by automation and globalization—anxiety the tech industry has played its own role in creating.

If robots and offshoring take all the jobs, or at the very least displace the low-skilled ones, the thinking goes, there may come a time when there simply aren’t enough jobs to go around. What then? In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election, which some have attributed to this very tension, questions about how to support the so-called working class have only grown. Politicians have latched on too. In her new book, What Happened, Hillary Clinton writes that she considered rolling out a basic income policy during her 2016 campaign. In September, Silicon Valley congressperson Ro Khanna introduced a bill calling for a $1.4 trillion expansion of the earned income tax credit, which would effectively create a small basic income for low-income working people via tax credits. And the mayor of Stockton, California, recently announced that beginning in August 2018, the city plans to give some of its 300,000 citizens $500 a month, an experiment being funded by Hughes’s organization, the Economic Security Project.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee isn’t the only group whose members get unconditional cash: The Alaska Permanent Fund has been giving $1,000 to $2,000 a year to its citizens for decades, and other Native American tribes have also divided up casino revenues. But the Cherokee example is among the most researched. Back in the 1990s, scholars at Duke were studying the mental health of Cherokee children in the region; then the casino was built, creating the conditions for a natural experiment. Three decades of longitudinal research backs up McCoy’s anecdotal evidence that the money has had profound positive effects.

As the richest people in America fixate on how to give money to the poorest, the Cherokee program is a case study of whether a basic income is in fact a practical proposal for alleviating economic inequality or just another oversimplified, undercooked Silicon Valley fix to one of the most intractable problems our society faces. Or maybe it’s both.

The biannual payments to every Cherokee tribal member comes from the profits from the Harrah’s casino.
Yael Malka for WIRED

The Qualla Boundary, a 56,000-acre tract in western North Carolina, is the designated home of the Eastern Band of Cherokee, who have lived in the region for hundreds of years. The landscape is beautiful but dotted with signs of neglect. Along the stretch of road that spirals its way through the majestic, fog-capped Blue Ridge Mountains, each hairpin curve reveals a single-story motel, ramshackle gas station, or abandoned barbecue stand. Mobile homes sit idly along the roadside accumulating rust. Although the land is held in trust for the Cherokee, many white people, especially poor whites, live there too. The median household incomes in the counties of the Qualla fall well below the national figure. In Swain County, where the Boys’ Club is based, 24 percent of people live below the poverty line, about 12 percent higher than the national median.

Asheville, with its craft breweries and art galleries, is about an hour’s drive east of the town of Cherokee. “Downtown” in Cherokee refers to a mile-long section of Tsali Boulevard lined with log cabin souvenir shops that hawk handwoven baskets and black bear figurines made in China.

It was here, in the quiet shadow of the mountain range, that a team of researchers including Jane Costello, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, decided to ground the Great Smoky Mountains Study of Youth. Costello wanted to find out about the need for mental health and psychiatric services for children in rural America, and in 1993 the researchers began studying 1,420 children, 350 of whom were members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. They divided the group into three age cohorts—9-year-olds, 11-year-olds, and 13-year-olds—and gave their parents thick, detailed personality surveys called the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Assessment, which were completed every year until the kids turned 16 and then again every few years until they turned 30. Looking for indicators of behavioral or emotional troubles, the researchers asked questions about whether the children ever engaged in physical fights and whether they had trouble being away from home.

Costello and her team also recorded household data like parents’ occupations, history of domestic violence, and, crucially, income. When the study began, about 67 percent of the American Indian kids were living below the poverty line. It wasn’t until after the casino opened that Costello began to notice that household income among the Cherokee families was going up. It was subtle at first, but the trend turned sharply upward as time went on, eventually lifting 14 percent of the Cherokee children in the study above the poverty line. Household income for those families who were not Cherokee, meanwhile, grew at a slower rate.

It was an awakening for Costello, who had accidentally stumbled onto an entirely new line of inquiry on the impact of unconditional cash transfers on the poor. “I suddenly thought, ‘Oh my god,’” Costello remembers.

Research showed that when the Cherokee families started receiving regular cash payments, children were mentally healthier and stayed in school longer.
Yael Malka for WIRED

In 1995, the tribe opened its first casino, a controversial decision among locals, who worried that gambling might attract unsavory characters to the area. It was Joyce Dugan, the tribe’s only female chief and a former teacher, who suggested that if the tribe were to benefit from its new casino, then every one of its members ought to get a cut too. The tribal council agreed.

The casino started as a glorified arcade, filled with electronic poker and bingo machines, but it has now grown into the 21-story Harrah’s Cherokee Casino. All glass and stone, it juts out of the earth like one of the mountain’s many towering peaks. Inside, the casino floor is dotted with thick pillars, designed to look like giant trees, a reminder that the great outdoors is just beyond the cigarette smoke and zombie-themed slot machines.

Harrah’s, which operates the casino, takes 3 percent of the $300 million annual profits. The bulk is funneled back into the community, covering infrastructure, health care for every tribal member, and the college education fund. Casino funds have paved roads and paid for a new $26 million wastewater treatment plant. Half of the profits go toward the per capita payments. The casino has become the tribe’s most precious resource.

The Eastern Band’s change in fortunes also shifted the course of Costello’s research. “We thought it’d be interesting to see if it made any difference” to the children’s mental health, she says. They also started comparing the younger Cherokee children, whose families started accruing money earlier in their lives, to the older ones. They wanted to answer a simple question: Would the cash infusion benefit these kids in measurable ways?

The answer defied Costello’s initial hypothesis. “I thought, ‘There’s such a pit of poverty there that this isn’t going to make any difference; it’s trivial,’” she remembers. “But it wasn’t.” Now the body of research that she and other academics have built has become a favorite point of reference for universal basic income advocates, providing some of the most compelling evidence yet of the positive effects of bestowing unconditional sums of cash on the poor.

In two studies, one published in 2003 and a follow-up in 2010, Costello compared children who were lifted out of poverty after the casino opened to those who had never been poor. She scored them based on the presence of what researchers referred to as emotional disorders, like depression and anxiety, as well as behavioral disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Before the casino opened, Costello found that poor children scored twice as high as those who were not poor for symptoms of psychiatric disorders. But after the casino opened, the children whose families’ income rose above the poverty rate showed a 40 percent decrease in behavioral problems. Just four years after the casino opened, they were, behaviorally at least, no different from the kids who had never been poor at all. By the time the youngest cohort of children was at least 21, she found something else: The younger the Cherokee children were when the casino opened, the better they fared compared to the older Cherokee children and to rural whites. This was true for emotional and behavioral problems as well as drug and alcohol addiction.

Other researchers have used Costello’s data to look at different effects of the casino payments. One fear about basic income is that people will be content living on their subsidies and stop working. But a 2010 analysis of the data, led by Randall Akee, who researches public policy at UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs, found no impact on overall labor participation.

Of course, the casino also brought jobs to the area, and the majority of the roughly 2,500 people the casino employs are tribal members. This would seem to confound the question of whether the tribal payment or casino income made the difference in the children’s lives, but Akee looked into this too. He found that, among the parents in Costello’s study, employment didn’t go up or down after the opening of the casino.

Akee also looked at the effects of the money on education and found that more money in the household meant children stayed in school longer. The impact on crime was just as profound: A $4,000 increase in household income reduced the poorest kids’ chances of committing a minor crime by 22 percent.

All of this amounted to substantial financial benefits for the community as a whole. “This translates to fewer kids in jail, fewer kids in in-patient care,” Costello says. “Then there are the other costs you can’t calculate. The cost of people not killing themselves? That’s a hard one.”

Costello has been at the center of the research showing the effects of the casino payments, but during all the time in Qualla Boundary she says she had never even heard the term basic income. That is, until she started getting phone calls from people who were interested in the topic. People like Chris Hughes.

The main drag in Cherokee is lined with log cabin souvenir shops that hawk handwoven baskets and black bear figurines made in China.
Yael Malka for WIRED
Visitors to the town are greeted by a giant sculpture of a Cherokee warrior.
Yael Malka for WIRED

Hughes grew up about a three-hour drive from Cherokee, in Hickory, North Carolina, where his mother worked as a public school teacher and his father was a traveling paper salesman. But that’s not what attracted Hughes to Costello’s work. He was interested in basic income primarily because at just 33 years old, Facebook has made him filthy rich—he’s worth roughly $430 million—and he’s still grappling with how, exactly, that happened 1.

“I’m proud of the work we did at Facebook, but I’ve also been very clear that the financial rewards I got were disproportionate to the work we put in,” Hughes says. He’s sitting cross-legged in a leather chair inside NeueHouse, a Manhattan warehouse that’s been converted into a swanky coworking space (top-tier membership costs $3,500 a month). “In human history, you have not had self-made wealth among twentysomethings on the order of magnitude we have today,” Hughes continues. “What’s making that possible? Because whatever it is, is happening at the same time median household wages have barely budged.”

It’s true. Since 1980, average income for the top .01 percent of Americans has more than tripled. For the bottom 90 percent, it’s basically flat-lined. Hughes is among those who view the disparity as a national crisis. And so he recently launched the Economic Security Project, a two-year effort to invest $10 million from Hughes and others into research on universal basic income.

This investment comes amid a sudden wave of interest in universal basic income in the tech industry. Y Combinator, the Palo Alto–based startup accelerator, announced in early 2016 that it was starting its own basic income experiment in which a small number of Oakland residents would receive a cash payment and be compared to a control group. Tesla’s Elon Musk, meanwhile, has warned about the rise of the robots, arguing at the World Government Summit earlier this year that a basic income is “going to be necessary.” And when Mark Zuckerberg delivered his commencement speech at Harvard in May, he advocated for a basic income, saying it would provide people with “a cushion to try new ideas."

According to Ro Khanna, who represents California’s 17th congressional district in the heart of Silicon Valley, the 2016 election woke techies up to the country’s glaring economic inequality. “They don’t want a populist backlash,” he says. “They don’t want a country divided by place.”

Hughes called Costello while he was looking for basic income studies that the Economic Security Project might like to finance. The goal of the organization is to provide the money so that researchers can investigate the impact of a basic income on people’s lives. While Hughes has not funded Costello’s research, his group has contributed $1 million to Stockton, California’s basic income experiment, as well as to GiveDirectly, a Google-backed charity that is studying the impact of unconditional cash transfers in Kenya, and other projects.

The Economic Security Project team also recently conducted its own survey of more than 1,000 Alaskans who receive roughly $2,000 per person, per year, through the Alaska Permanent Fund, which is drawn from oil revenues. It found that when faced with a choice between lowering taxes or keeping their cash payments, 71 percent of Alaskans say they want to keep the payments.

“It feels like security,” Hughes says, “and in an economy that zigs and zags and has more part-time jobs, security is hard to come by.”

Hughes is no basic income purist. He believes, for instance, that for this economic moonshot to be politically palatable, it would have to be tied to work. “Not just because it seems more intuitive for people,” he says, “but because work is a key source of purpose in our lives.” But the changing nature of work, particularly among top tech employers, is still a critical problem for the American workforce. One illuminating New York Times article illustrated how the men and women who scrub toilets and do other low-skilled work for companies like Apple are hired from contracting companies which set the terms of their employment. Those workers are cut off from the benefits and upward mobility that the company’s engineers and marketers enjoy. Because the workers are contractors, the big tech companies feel no pressure to raise their wages, and aren’t responsible for offering health-care coverage. In 2015, Facebook’s bus drivers voted to unionize in order to secure themselves the kind of worker protections that the social networking giant refused to provide.

Looked at in this light, the tech-led efforts to push a basic income can appear hypocritical. In a new economy that mints billionaires overnight, giving millions of dollars away for experimentation is the easy part. It’s taxpayers, after all, not individual tech companies, who would have to pay for a basic income should one ever come to pass.

Spencer McCoy, 21, is now in college and hopes to use his “big money” to start a business.
Yael Malka for WIRED

A legislated basic income is in the realm of fantasy at the moment. Even among its proponents there is almost no agreement about the fundamentals, starting with how much money would be an optimal basic income. Ioana Marinescu, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice, who researches basic income, says that research on the Alaska fund is enlightening, but not dispositive. “We know $2,000 a year makes a real difference to many people,” Marinescu says. “But would something lower still make a difference? We don’t know.”

Others argue that the problem with a universal basic income is the “universal” part. In a world in which every American gets a check, some of that money would necessarily be squandered on rich people. Some libertarian groups like the Cato Institute support the idea, seeing it as a way to replace the country’s existing social safety net programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps, an idea liberals deplore. “When resources for antipoverty policies are scarce and dwindling, especially in this Congress, we need to be careful about our targeting,” says Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the former chief economist and economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden.

Bernstein prefers something like an expansion of the earned-income tax credit, such as the one Silicon Valley’s Khanna has introduced, which he says would put extra money where it is needed—in the pockets of working people. He concedes, however, that Khanna’s bill, the Grow American Incomes Now Act, is essentially on a hopeless path in the current Congress. “An idea like Ro’s is going to take a long runway,” Bernstein says. “It ain’t going to happen soon, but that doesn’t mean that if we were strategic it won’t happen later.”

Even in a fever dream scenario in which a basic income could pass in Congress, there is so far little evidence that it would help the “forgotten men and women” whom Trump described in his campaign—the people whose plight supposedly woke Silicon Valley up to this problem to begin with. After all, $2,000 a year hardly feels like an adequate substitute for a disappeared $50,000 union job at the local steel mill.

Even in Cherokee country, where the additional income is quite sizable, the payments are not enough to live on. That suggests a basic income may not be the life raft for working class adults that its proponents suggest it would be. But it could be something different: It could be an investment in their children’s future.

During his 11 years as a high school football coach, and now working at the Boys’ Club, Skooter McCoy has seen just about every way that the casino money can be wasted. He remembers two football players who, after graduation, flew from Asheville to Key West and then road tripped their way back up the coast, stopping in beach town after beach town, and burning through tens of thousands of dollars of their newfound wealth.

“I said, ‘Boys, you had an opportunity with this money to take care of yourselves for the majority of your lives. What do you have to say for yourselves?’” McCoy remembers. “They said, ‘Well, it was one hell of a month, coach.’”

The money hasn’t exempted the community from the drug epidemic that has swept through so much of Appalachia, either. In fact, according to McCoy, when the checks come out twice a year, there seems to be an uptick in overdoses. “There are times when some people say members don’t even get a check, because they’re indebted to a dealer,” McCoy says. “When they get their check, they hand it right over.”

As with any program, there are infinite opportunities for abuse and bad decisionmaking. But over time, the tribe has made tweaks to try to prevent recklessness. The tribal council recently passed legislation, for instance, that staggers the minor’s fund payouts. Now the tribe will give members $25,000 when they turn 18, $25,000 when they turn 21, and the rest when they’re 25.

Spencer McCoy is now 21. Like his father, he has a square jaw and deep brown eyes, and he talks readily about the importance of Christianity in his life. He followed his dad to Western Carolina University, where he played football, before transferring to Mars Hill University, where he is pursuing a marketing degree. Like Skooter, Spencer imagined a different life for himself. But there’s one crucial difference between them: Unlike his father, Spencer says, he never doubted that he could have that life. “In my grandpa’s time, nobody from my area was going to college. My dad accepted a football scholarship, but without it I doubt he would have been able to go,” Spencer says. “Now we can go to school practically anywhere in the country, and they pay for it. That’s a really big deal.”

When Spencer first got his “big money,” he says, “I’d get online and I was looking for trucks and stuff, but I thought at the end of the day, it wasn’t really worth it.” Aside from a used bass boat he bought to take out fishing, Spencer has stashed most of the money away in hopes of using it to start his own business one day.

The true impact of the money on the tribe may not really be known until Spencer’s generation, the first born after the casino opened, is grown up. For the techies backing basic income as a remedy to the slow-moving national crisis that is economic inequality, that may prove a tedious wait.

Still, if anything is to be learned from the Cherokee experiment, it’s this: To imagine that a basic income, or something like it, would suddenly satisfy the disillusioned, out-of-work Rust Belt worker is as wrongheaded as imagining it would do no good at all, or drive people to stop working. There is a third possibility: that an infusion of cash into struggling households would lift up the youth in those households in all the subtle but still meaningful ways Costello has observed over the years, until finally, when they come of age, they are better prepared for the brave new world of work, whether the robots are coming or not.

1 Correction: 11/13/2017 10:49 am An earlier version of this story misstated Chris Hughes' net worth. The story has also been updated to clarify that Stockton, California's basic income project will not apply to all 300,000 citizens.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/free-money-the-surprising-effects-of-a-basic-income-supplied-by-government/

How One Woman’s Digital Life Was Weaponized Against Her

The first time the police arrived on her doorstep, in March of 2015, Courtney Allen was elated.

She rushed to the door alongside her dogs, a pair of eager Norwegian elkhounds, to greet them. “Is this about our case?” she asked. The police looked at her in confusion. They didn’t know what case she was talking about. Courtney felt her hope give way to a familiar dread.

Three days earlier, Courtney and her husband, Steven, had gone to the police headquarters in Kent, Washington, a suburb of Seattle, and reported that, for the past few months, they had been the victims of a campaign of online harassment. They had found a fake Facebook page under Steven’s name with a profile picture of Courtney, naked. Emails rained down in their inboxes; some called Courtney a cunt, whore, and bitch, and one they felt was a death threat. Her coworkers received emails with videos and screenshots of Courtney, naked and masturbating. The messages came from a wide range of addresses, and some appeared to be from Steven.

There were phone calls too. One to Steven’s grandmother warned that her house might burn down, with her in it, if she didn’t stay out of the Allens’ lives. There were so many calls to the dental office where Courtney worked that the receptionists started to keep a log: “Called and said, ‘Put that dumb cunt Courtney on the phone,’ ” one of them wrote in neat, bubbly handwriting. “I said, ‘She is not here at the moment, may I take a message?’ ” At one point Courtney created a Google Voice number to ask, “If I talk to you, will you leave me alone?” Instead, dozens of voicemails poured in: “Do you think I’m ever going away?” one said. “Now that my private investigator went and got all the tax information? There’s no job either one of you guys can have that I won’t know about and be there.”

The Kent police officer who took the Allens’ statement seemed unsure of what to make of their story. Courtney and Steven told him who they believed was behind the harassment: a man in Arizona named Todd Zonis with whom Courtney had an online relationship that she had recently broken off. She says she told the officers that she had sent Zonis the videos of herself while they were still involved and that he had sent ones of himself to her, but that she had deleted their exchange. In a report, the officer noted that, while Courtney and Steven insisted that his role was obvious, Zonis’ name barely appeared in the folder full of printouts and CDs that they had with them. The officer assigned them a case number and advised them not to have any more contact with Zonis.

Now, three days later, the two officers on Courtney’s doorstep explained why they had come: An anonymous tipster, who claimed to work with Steven, had left a report on the Crime Stoppers website. It said that Steven “had been telling everyone for months that his wife was leaving him but he had a plan to beat her into staying.” The tipster added that he had noticed “a lot of bruises.” When prompted for more information on the suspect, the informant wrote that the Allens had a “large gun collection” and two big dogs. (One detective later noted that some of the reports seemed designed to trigger “a large/violent police response.”)

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Rebecca Benderite/Eyeem/Getty Images

The police left after interviewing Courtney, but three days later, two detectives knocked on the Allens’ door in the early afternoon. Courtney wondered, more cautiously this time, if she would now get a response to her complaint. But no—the detectives were investigating another anonymous tip. This one was about an alleged incident at a park involving Steven and the Allens’ 4-year-old: “His son screamed and he smacked him repeatedly on the back, butt, legs, and head, but not the face,” the tipster wrote. “He then berated his wife, calling her ‘whore’ and worse … She covers for him when the abuse is to her, but abuse to the child I don’t know what will happen.”

In her report of the visit, detective Angie Galetti wrote that the Allens’ son “came downstairs and appeared to be happy and healthy.” She described how Courtney had to coax her nervous son into showing his skin to the detectives: “There was no suspicious bruising or marks of any kind,” she wrote. He “appeared appropriately attached to his mother and Detective Lorette and I had no concerns.”

But Courtney’s concerns were mounting. The day before, she had gotten an email to an account she only used for spam. “How did you even GET this email address?” Courtney wrote back. “Leave me and my family alone!” A reply came accusing Steven of also using unsavory cybertactics to find out about Courtney’s online behavior, but added: “I am MUCH better at it. For example. Your Jetta, in the driveway”—and yes, that’s where it was. The message included the car’s vehicle identification number. Courtney had started having nightmares; just going outside made her afraid. She felt violated by the images of her that were circulating who knew where, and anxious about what might come next.

And now this. It was “one of the worst moments of my life,” she said later, hoping that help was coming but instead “having to lift up my son’s shirt and show them my son’s body to make sure he had no bruises.” When the detectives asked for her phone number, she realized she didn’t remember it—she had just changed it in an attempt to evade the endless calls. She found herself sobbing in front of the detectives. The harassment was so creative, so relentless, so unpredictable. Around the same time, at least 15 of her neighbors received a “community alert” in the mail warning them that they were living near a dangerous abuser, Steven Allen. It was postmarked from Arizona.

But the most frustrating thing was how hard it all was to explain or prove. Courtney was beginning to feel trapped in a world of anonymous abuse. She didn’t know if she would be able to convince anyone that what she believed to be happening was real.

It began, as relationships often do these days, online. From the start it was a strange and tangled story of exposure and distrust in the internet era.

In the fall of 2012, Courtney and Steven had been together for 12 years but had known each other for 20: They met in a high school biology class and reconnected later when Courtney was going through a divorce. The couple—now in their mid-thirties, with a house full of fantasy books and clay dragons that Courtney sculpted—were avid players of Grepolis, an empire- and alliance-­building browser game set in ancient Greece.

One day a player in an opposing alliance asked if he could join theirs. The small council that ran the alliance agreed. This was Courtney’s first introduction to Todd Zonis and she liked him from the start: “He was crude and rude and I thought it was actually kind of funny,” she says.

Courtney’s player name was sharklady76. As she recalls it, Zonis sent her a note on the game’s messaging service to say he had once owned a shark, and from there the conversation took off. They talked about gardening and pets. She shared pictures of her elkhounds; Zonis sent ones of his tortoise. The two progressed to video-chats. Both were married, but “it just kind of grew from there,” Courtney remembers. “It was a really strong friendship and then turned into not a friendship.”

At the time, Courtney was staying home with her toddler. She and Steven had made that decision together, but still, it was rough on their marriage: Steven was working long hours as an IT instructor and felt the stress of being the sole breadwinner. He often traveled for work. Courtney was a nervous new mother, afraid to let her son stay with sitters, which only increased her sense of isolation. She was often angry at Steven, whom she began to see as controlling and neglectful.

Zonis was a freelance sound engineer with a flexible schedule. The relationship with him offered “an escape,” Courtney says: “He was charming. He told me everything that I ever wanted to hear about how wonderful I was.” She adds, “I just thought the world of him. Because it was online, it was very easy to not see the faults someone has, to not see warning signs.” Eventually Courtney was spending a lot of time online with Zonis and pulling further away from Steven. She kept telling herself that they were just good friends, even when Zonis sent her a penis-shaped sex toy. One day, nearly a year after Zonis first joined the alliance, Steven noticed Courtney’s email open while updating her laptop. He read an exchange between her and Zonis. It was explicit, and it mentioned videos. He confronted Courtney. She was furious that he had read her emails but said she would stop communicating with Zonis. Instead, she moved the relationship to her tablet, behind a password; she also labeled Zonis’ contact information with a fake name.

She wanted to be sure Steven wasn’t the mastermind of a complex scheme.

Steven, sensing his marriage falling apart, turned to Google. He searched “adultery” and “online affair” and found a website called Marriage Builders that bills itself as “the #1 infidelity support site on the internet.” It was founded by Willard F. Harley Jr., a psychologist who encourages his readers to work to understand and meet their spouse’s needs but also recommends a radical response when a spouse won’t end an affair: making it public to the family of the people involved. Love, he writes, should be based not on trust but on transparency. “Imagine how little crime would be committed if everyone’s activities were videotaped.”

Steven tried to follow Harley’s advice for healing a marriage. He apologized for being distant and tried to get Courtney interested in answering the site’s questionnaires. But Courtney, often busy on her tablet, was leery of the Marriage Builders philosophy.

In November of 2014, just over a year after first seeing Courtney’s emails with Zonis, Steven noticed her tablet unlocked on the counter. She was in the shower, so he looked. He saw messages from a name he didn’t recognize but a writing style that he did. He then found more messages. The relationship hadn’t ended. His mind went to the advice from Marriage Builders: “Exposure helps prevent a recurrence of the offense. Your closest friends and relatives will be keeping an eye on you—holding you accountable.”

A few days later, Steven contacted his parents and Courtney’s parents and told them about the relationship. He found Zonis’ wife and wrote and texted her. He looked up Zonis’ parents on a people-finder site. “I would ask that you encourage your son to stop this affair before it completely ruins our family,” he wrote, adding that he had heard that the Zonises had an open relationship. “If you have any questions or would like to see some of the evidence, please email me.”

Courtney was livid. She told Steven not to come home that night; when he did, she took their son to her parents’ house. She returned the next day, but they slept in separate rooms and Courtney discussed divorce.

Zonis, too, was outraged. He saw the messages that Steven sent as an attack on his family, and one that was unjustified. Zonis tells the story of the relationship differently. After he joined the alliance, he says, he noticed Courtney talking about her husband in forums in a disturbing way, saying he was controlling and would punish her. He says Courtney reached out and became friends with him and his wife, Jennifer—“The two would chat, you know, for hours,” he says—though Courtney denies this. She asked a lot of questions about their marriage, he says, looking for advice. He denies that either he or Courtney ever sent explicit videos, or that they were more than friends.

To Zonis, calling his relationship with Courtney an “affair” was a false characterization and cost him dearly; Steven’s comment about an open marriage, he says, turned his parents against him. He claimed that his parents cut off contact and wrote him out of their will, which meant he would not inherit the “ancestral home.” In total, he says he lost an inheritance worth more than $2 million. Zonis began saving for a lawyer so he could take Steven to court. “He destroyed my family,” Zonis says, “just to basically keep his own wife in line.”

After the “exposure,” the Allens received barrages of virulent emails from Zonis’ account. He later denied writing both the anonymous emails and some that came from his account, speculating that perhaps someone to whom he’d told his story had taken it upon themselves to punish the Allens, or that the Allens were harassing each other and blaming him. He didn’t much care, he says, because he considered the harassment trivial: “My rights were violated and nobody cares, and we’re still talking about what happened to poor Courtney?”

After exposing the affair, Steven continued asking for advice from other people on the Marriage Builders site. He even posted emails between Courtney and Zonis, and a copy of a letter that he wrote to Courtney: “I am so very sorry I hurt you and hurt you so deeply for years, by not considering your feelings near as much as I should have, and by demanding and disrespecting your opinion to get what I wanted. I was abusive and controlling. I was so sure I was right, and getting what I wanted would help you too, that I didn’t realize the hurt I was causing you.” He didn’t realize that Zonis had found these posts and took them as Steven admitting to being an abuser.

Steven had hoped the exposure would allow them to move on; it had the opposite effect. One of his coworkers received an email accusing Steven of assaulting Courtney. When Steven told Courtney that Zonis must have sent it, she refused to believe him. Zonis “had my ear,” she says. “I was listening to everything that he said, and I was assuming anything Steve said was a lie.”

Illustration by Yoshi Sodeoka/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

But she also felt cracks forming in her relationship with Zonis—she accused him of making the threatening call to Steven’s grandmother, which he angrily denied—and asked for space to try to get her head straight. She went back to work, seeking more independence. In an email to Zonis, the former sharklady described something she’d seen on TV: “There is a whale carcass. All the great whites gobble it up, ripping huge chunks out of it at a time. That is what I feel like … the whale.” “In my new world,” she wrote Zonis, “EVERYONE is lying to me. I don’t believe anyone anymore.”

In the meantime, Steven, angry about the message to his coworker, emailed Zonis, writing that he could “look forward to continued exposures to people in your life.” Zonis, who considered this a second attack, forwarded a copy of the email to Courtney, but when she read it she sensed something was wrong. The writer referred to their child as “her” son instead of “our” son, and a boast about his ability to manipulate her did not sound like her husband. (“I know Steven looks down upon people who try to manipulate,” she says. “It just didn’t fit with his character.”)

In a modern act of trust, she and Steven showed their emails to each other. She saw that the version Zonis sent to her had been edited—that Steven’s words had been changed. Courtney felt she finally knew whom to trust. “That,” she said later, “was when I turned to Steve and said, ‘I need help. I don’t know how to get myself out of this.’ ”

Courtney decided to ease Zonis out of her life. Her messages to him became short, bland, and infrequent, but still she received long, aggressive responses. Finally she began demanding to be left alone, then stopped responding at all. But emails and calls continued, as many as 20 in a single day; even Courtney’s mother was getting calls. Zonis said later that he was calling the Allens to get an apology, something that he could show to his parents. One email from his personal account said that the sender had just been in the Allens’ city —“VERY nice place”—and promised a visit to the area again soon. (Zonis denies writing the message.) There were also voicemails: “I will burn myself to the ground to get him. I told you, you’re going to lose him one way or the other.”

Emails arrived from other accounts too: Courtneythe­whore­sblog­@blogspot.com, Courtney­CallMe69@aol.com, CourtneysGotNoPrinciples@LyingCunt.com, ItsHOWsmall@babydick.com, urtheproblem@outlook.com, Youareaselfishcocksucker@noone­willeverreallyloveyou.com. There were dozens of others.

Some messages to the Allens’ neighbors and coworkers came from what appeared to be Steven’s email. Courtney’s boss got emails from “Steven” with subject lines such as “My Slut wife Courtney” and “Courtney is not who she seems to be.” One night, as Courtney worked on a sudoku puzzle in bed, she received an email that looked as if it had come from her husband, who was next to her reading a book. The next night, Steven’s cell phone dinged on the nightstand with a new email. He picked it up and turned to Courtney. “Apparently you hate me,” he said.

In March 2015, Courtney filed for a protective order against Zonis, which would make further contact a crime. Steven filed for a similar order for himself and their son the month after the “exposure,” but Courtney had believed that doing so would be too antagonizing. Zonis and his wife responded in kind by getting orders of their own. Two days after Courtney’s order was granted, she got an email from Zonis’ personal account: “Glad that bullshit symbolic gesture is out of the way,” it said. (Zonis denies writing this too.)

No charges were filed. The Kent police, while sympathetic, “weren’t really interested in something that was a misdemeanor protective order violation,” Steven says. The Allens got the sense that because Zonis was in Arizona, and because so much of the harassment was confusing and anonymous, it was hard for the police in Kent to act. At the end of March, Courtney and Steven walked into the FBI’s office in Seattle to present their case. (The Kent police, county prosecutor, and FBI all said they were unable to comment for this story.) Three months later the Allens got a letter stating, “We have identified you as a possible victim of a crime,” and informing them that the FBI was investigating. Months passed with no word. When they heard about the FBI’s involvement, the Kent police closed their own case. The Allens, not sure what else to do, continued to bring them evidence of new and ever more inventive harassment.

In early April the Allens received a package in the mail that was full of marijuana. After they reported it to the police, Detective Galetti informed the Allens that there had been more Crime Stoppers reports: allegations that they were selling drugs, that they were cutting them with butane, that their customers were high school kids.

The Allens began to consider a different option. Earlier that year, after Steven started a new job at the University of Washington, he told campus authorities about the harassment. Natalie Dolci, then a victim advocate with the campus police, referred him, as she had many others, to a pro bono program called the Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project at the prominent K&L Gates law firm. The project had been started a year earlier to help victims of what is variously known as sexual cyberharassment, cyberexploitation, and revenge porn. (Dolci prefers the terms “technology-enabled abuse” or “technology-enabled coercive control,” phrases broad enough to include things such as using spyware or hacking in-home cameras.) Often the cases didn’t go to court, meaning the public seldom heard their details. Most people just wanted to settle, get the harassment to stop, keep their images off the internet and their names out of public records.

Steven and Courtney weren’t eager to file a lawsuit, but they hoped the firm—a large one with a cyberforensics unit experienced in unraveling complex online crimes—would be able to help them unmask the harasser and prove their story to police. “We were just trying to get law enforcement to do something,” Steven said later.

On April 29, 2015, Steven and Courtney walked into a conference room overlooking Seattle’s port and Mount Rainier where they met David Bateman, a partner at K&L Gates and one of the founders of the Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project, and Breanna Van Engelen, a young attorney. A mock trial program in college convinced Van Engelen that she wanted to be a litigator—to stand up in court on behalf of clients she believed had been wronged—but she was fresh out of law school and had yet to try her first case.

The lawyers were skeptical of the Allens’ story at first. It was so outlandish that Van Engelen wondered if it was made up—or if one spouse was manipulating the other. Courtney’s fear seemed genuine, but so many of the emails did appear to come from Steven, who knew his way around computers. Van Engelen wanted to be sure that Steven wasn’t the mastermind of a complex scheme in which he hid his own abuse, impersonating Zonis impersonating him. She interviewed the Allens separately and then spent a week poring through the evidence: voicemails and social media profiles and native files of emails. By digging into how they were created, she found that emails from “Steven” had been spoofed—sent through anonymizing services but then tagged as if they came from his email or were sent from an untraceable account. Had Steven been the mastermind, it would have been “like robbing a bank but wearing a mask of your own face,” she said later. “It just doesn’t make any sense.” Van Engelen came to believe the Allens were telling the truth.

But that left another question. What if the case did go to trial? Even if she could convince a jury—which would mean explaining the complexities of how identity is both hidden and revealed on the internet—could she get them to care? Cyberharassment is still an unappreciated crime. Gary Ernsdorff, a prosecutor in King County, where the Allens live, said that people often don’t think it’s that big a deal—it’s just online, after all. Or they blame victims for sharing intimate images in the first place. What, Van Engelen wondered, would a jury make of the Allens’ saga? Would they think Steven had gone too far in exposing the affair? Would they blame Courtney for the videos? Though Van Engelen saw the Allens as victims, she realized a jury might not.

Many people assume that cyber­harassment is easy to avoid: They believe that if victims hadn’t sent a naked photo, then that person would have nothing to worry about. But experts say this assumption is essentially a comforting fiction in a world in which we’re all potential victims. A 2016 survey found that one in every 25 Americans online—roughly 10 million people—had either had explicit images of themselves shared online against their will or had been threatened with such sharing. For women younger than 30, it was one in 10. The same survey found that, photos or no, 47 percent of Americans who used the internet had been victims of online harassment of some kind.

Danielle Citron, a law professor at the University of Maryland and the author of Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, began studying cyberharassment in 2007. What she found reminded her of her past research on the shocking leakiness of information databases. Nearly all of us are giving away reams of sensitive information about ourselves without understanding how it might be used, whether by a stalker or an unscrupulous company. This includes what we share online—geotags on our photos, workout apps that generate maps to our houses, badly protected Facebook updates or lists that show family ties, or posts that reveal innocuous-­seeming facts, such as birthdays, that can be used to access other information. We also leave an enormous digital trail of personal and private information with every credit card purchase and Google search and ad click.

People are starting to understand “that the web watches them back,” says Aleecia McDonald, a privacy researcher at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society. But we still don’t appreciate the extent to which it’s happening or what risks we might face in the future. McDonald suggests thinking of the internet as a backward-facing time machine that we are constantly loading with ammunition: “Everything that’s on file about you for the last 15 years and the next 40 years” may someday be used against you with technology that, at this time, we can’t understand or predict. And much of the information that we leave in our wake has no legal protection from being sold in the future: “We overcollect and we underprotect,” Citron says.

Even without access to intimate images, Van Engelen says, “if I was obsessed enough and motivated enough, I could mess up your life.” Many experts now agree that the solution to cyberharassment lies in changing the ways we respond to the release or misuse of private information: to stop trivializing it, to take it seriously as a crime, to show perpetrators that their actions have consequences.

“You can tell people, ‘Don’t do anything that you wouldn’t want to have go public,’ ” McDonald says. “But what kind of life is that?”

Illustration by Yoshi Sodeoka/Robert Daly/Getty Images

As Van Engelen prepared to take on the Allens’ case, she kept finding more social media profiles. There were accounts impersonating Courtney and Steven; one Google Plus account, which included the videos and Courtney’s contact information, birthday, and maiden name, had more than 8,000 views. There was an account for their son. A Facebook account in the name of “Jennifer Jones”—Courtney recognized one photo as Zonis’ pet tortoise—sent messages to her friends and family accusing Steven of abuse and of having sent “Jones” threatening emails and photos of his penis. (Zonis denies creating any of these accounts, saying: “I’ve never been on Facebook in my life” and “Who puts a picture of their pet on a secret account they’re trying to hide?”)

The Allens contacted Facebook, Google, YouTube, and other sites to have the accounts taken down, with mixed success. One of the hardest to remove was the Facebook page in their son’s name. When Courtney filled out a form indicating that she wasn’t the one being impersonated, the site suggested she alert that person to have it removed; there seemed to be no expectation that the targeted person might be a 4-year-old. The account stayed up despite repeated requests. (It was finally disabled in late October, after WIRED’s fact-checkers asked Facebook for comment.) But at least Facebook had a complaint option; other sites offered no recourse, and the most the Allens could do was ask search engines not to include them in results. Sites that specialize in posting revenge porn sometimes charge hundreds of dollars to remove images—what Ernsdorff calls “a business model of extortion.”

Van Engelen and her colleagues were subpoenaing tech companies to find out who was assigned IP addresses, but they kept having to send new subpoenas as new accounts kept popping up. According to court records, they found that many of the early emails—from addresses such as CourtneyCallMe69 and Dixienormousnu—could be traced to the Zonises’ house. In one case the same message was sent seven times by different accounts in just over a day. Some of the accounts were anonymous but traceable to the Zonises’ home IP address or a hotel where they stayed; one came from what appeared to be Steven’s email but with the tag “Douchebag” attached—it was routed from an anonymizing website based in the Czech Republic that sent email from fake accounts. Van Engelen interpreted this spree as evidence that Zonis was trying to get through spam filters, as well as proof that he used anonymizers and impersonation. Zonis counters that Steven was manufacturing evidence against him.

As time passed, the emails and social media accounts became harder to trace. Van Engelen found that many of the IP addresses, created and disguised with Tor software, bounced through layers of anonymous routing. More came from the Czech website or another anonymizer. The writing style changed too, as if, according to Van Engelen, the writer didn’t want the syntax or orthography to be analyzable: Sometimes they read as though they were written by someone with limited, fluctuating facility with English.

In the summer of 2015, the Allens found out that a new credit card had been opened in their names and that one of their existing cards had been used fraudulently. They could see that all the attempted charges were to access sites that might yield personal information: ancestry.com, a site that allows recovery of old W2s, a company that does background checks.

Courtney began seeing a counselor. Her fear had become “an absolute paranoia.” She had night terrors and panic attacks if she saw police in the neighborhood. Zonis had told her that he was able to fly for free because his wife worked for an airline; Courtney feared he might show up at any time. She stopped letting her son play outside. “It just changed who I was,” she says. “I wasn’t functioning.” Almost worse than the fear was the guilt about what was happening to the people in her life. “No one can say anything to me about the horrible things that I’ve done,” she says, “because I’ve already said them to myself.”

"Me living was how I was going to beat him."

Courtney had come to see the internet as a danger to which the people around her were oblivious. “Nobody’s safe,” she says. “If you’re on the internet, you’re pretty much a target.” She was appalled at what she saw her friends post—vacation updates that revealed their locations, pictures of their young children. She asked other parents at her son’s school not to post pictures of him, and one asked her, “Aren’t you proud of your son?” When she offered to share the recommendations that the FBI had sent her about keeping information private, only one friend responded—and only to ask whether such precautions were really necessary. Courtney locked down her own social media and stopped giving out her phone number. “Privacy has become top priority to me,” she said. “Anonymity has become sacred.”

In late June 2015, K&L Gates filed the Allens’ lawsuit against Zonis, seeking damages and relief related to defamation, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, electronic impersonation, and invasion of privacy. Two months later, Zonis filed his own suit in federal court in Arizona, making similar claims against Steven. The complaint included excerpts of harassing emails that Zonis alleged were sent to him by Steven: “Too bad your whore wife is still without a child … did I mention that I own [Mrs. Allen] again?” and “All I had to do was act like the benevolent husband, and let you do the work … I plan on continuing to cause you pain like you can’t even imagine.” It took more than a year of motions and replies for the cases to be combined and moved to Washington, where the first case was filed.

In August Courtney received an anonymous email that ended, “Easier if one help everyone and kill self.” She’d had suicidal thoughts before. If she did kill herself, she thought, that might finally make the harassment stop. Maybe this was how she could save her family. She went to get a gun that was kept in a safe. Her hands were shaking and she fumbled the combination to the lock. She began to think about all the things she’d miss if she pulled the trigger—teaching her son to drive, retiring with Steven, the books she would never read. At last, still unable to open the safe, she gave up. “I decided he wasn’t going to win,” she said later. “Me living was how I was going to beat him.”

The following month the Allens took a trip to Hawaii. While they were away there were calls and emails, but none of them mentioned the trip. To Courtney it seemed like a small miracle: one moment in her life that belonged only to her. “It was a breath,” she said later. She would hold onto that precious realization for a long time: “I can keep some things private.”

But it was only a breath. Emails had begun coming to Steven’s account at the University of Washington—a job he thought had gone unnoticed until he got an anonymous email referencing the school’s mascot: “Public record. all. done.” Soon dozens of accounts, from the IT department to the university president, were getting emails about the Allens, often with images of Courtney. According to court records, two preschools in the Kent area also got emails that appeared to be from Steven; they said that he planned to come in with a gun and start shooting.“It wasn’t me!” Steven cried when the police called him at work. “I’m here!”

Gradually the Allens grew somewhat inured to the videos and emails—“There’s no one that I know who hasn’t seen me in very intimate detail,” Courtney says. “He can’t hurt me that way anymore”—though she continued to worry that their son would find the videos one day.

As Halloween neared, the K&L Gates lawyers received a threat they considered credible enough to heighten security. Later that fall, two FBI agents appeared at the Allens’. The couple hoped again that their troubles were ending at last. But while the agents were aware of their case, they said they were required to tell the Allens to cease and desist because Zonis had contacted them with evidence that he said showed the Allens were committing credit fraud against him. Later, Zonis would produce documents that he said showed Steven mocking Jennifer, sending her pictures of his penis, and threatening retribution; in one post, it appears that Steven had asked his Marriage Builders friends to make the threatening call to his grandmother.

“Everything he’s done, he’s claiming I’ve been doing,” Steven said later.

“Every bit of everything that we were accused of was what he did to us,” Zonis says.

In January of 2017, the lawsuit’s discovery process finally ended. Van Engelen and her colleagues had been working on the case for nearly two years. By then Zonis, after cycling through several lawyers, was representing himself, with his wife assisting. Before trial, the parties were required to attempt mediation. The judge encouraged a settlement, telling the Allens that a jury looking at the mess of competing claims would see everyone involved as having unclean hands. The Allens and their lawyers sent an offer to the room next door, where the Zonises were waiting: They would dismiss their suit if Zonis dropped his counterclaim and left the Allens alone. Zonis instead asked them to pay a large sum for what he said he lost. The case proceeded to trial.

On Wednesday, March 22, 2017, the Allens, their lawyers, and the Zonises gathered in a courtroom. Van Engelen watched from her seat as a colleague began questioning potential jurors: How many of you have made a friend on the internet? How many of you have ever taken a selfie? If someone takes and shares intimate pictures and they get published online, is that their fault?

Many of the responses were exactly what Van Engelen had feared. She summed them up: “This is trivial. Why am I here? I don’t want to be part of someone’s Facebook dispute. This is high school.” More than one person thought that if you made explicit videos of yourself, it was your fault if they were shared. Others felt the Allens, with their table of lawyers, had an unfair advantage. Van Engelen listened with growing nervousness. That night she went home and cried in the shower. She kept thinking: “What if somebody just decided that they weren’t going to listen to any of the evidence and they’d already made up their minds?”

Before the trial, Steven created a timeline of the harassment. Bateman decided to present it to the jury during opening arguments; because it had so many details, the lawyers had to print it on a 10-foot-long poster so that the jurors would be able to see the entries. This isn’t trivial, Bateman told the jury, detailing the false police reports, the enormous number of emails, the videos. Van Engelen felt her anxiety ease. “Right away you could see the jurors’ faces change,” she says. “I think they got that this wasn’t what they thought coming in.”

Van Engelen played some of the voicemails aloud. Courtney wept. She told the story of trying to unlock the gun.

Van Engelen called Courtney as her first witness. Courtney described her relationship with Zonis and said that she thought the videos would be private. Zonis had filed a motion to have the images of Courtney withheld from court. (He said later that the images were unimportant “flash” intended to distract the jury from what he had been through.) Van Engelen feared their absence would make the jurors take the case less seriously. In her questioning she described them as clinically as possible, so that Courtney wouldn’t have to: “Do you orgasm?” she asked. “Do they show your inner and outer labia?” Courtney testified for more than a day, the whole time too ashamed to look at the jurors. Van Engelen asked her to read some of the emails and played some of the voicemails aloud; she then read from the Google Plus profile that bore Courtney’s name and image. “I am a real whore wife,” Van Engelen read, continuing, “and have suffered for years with unsatisfying sex with a husband who is hung like a cocktail frank.”

“Did you write that about yourself?” she asked. “Did your husband write this about himself?” “No,” Courtney replied. Van Engelen continued her questions. Courtney wept. She told the story of trying to unlock the gun.

Zonis gave an opening statement. His wife cross-examined Courtney and later testified as her husband questioned her. Together the couple set out their version of the story: that they were Courtney’s friends who had tried to rescue her from an abusive husband. They said that Todd wasn’t romantically interested in Courtney and that Steven had been the one harassing them. The Zonises introduced emails and posts that they said were written by the Allens. But they were paper printouts with no metadata or digital trail to prove authenticity. When the lawyers requested a forensically sound copy of Zonis’ data, Zonis replied that his computer had malfunctioned—he blamed spyware that he claimed Steven had installed via an image file—and he had sold it; that he had copies of the files on CDs but Jennifer had thrown them out by mistake.

On the stand, Steven denied writing most of the emails or posts Zonis claimed were from him. The Allens had kept digital copies of emails that appeared to come from Steven, and the K&L Gates team showed the jury how those had been spoofed. They also showed that the email formatting on some posts didn’t match that of the Allens’ computer and that the time zone was not Pacific but Mountain, where Zonis lived. It appeared, the lawyers suggested, that Zonis had created the posts himself.

Zonis later countered that the discrepancies were proof that Steven had used spyware to steal the emails. The Zonises hired an expert witness to testify over Skype. He said that it was theoretically possible that the forensic trails leading back to Zonis could have been faked—though he conceded that he had never seen it done and had not reviewed the evidence.

The lawyers called Andreas Kaltsounis, a cyberforensics expert who used to work with the FBI and the Department of Defense. He explained to the jury how Tor networks and IP addresses function. He then presented a map showing that many of the seemingly separate accounts from which the Allens had received anonymous harassment were actually linked by overlapping IP addresses. One of the linked accounts was the Facebook page for “Jennifer Jones,” the account that used a picture of a tortoise. It could have been, as Zonis argued, an account that Steven, or some unknown person, created. But the lawyers were prepared. One day, months before the trial, as Van Engelen searched painstakingly through IP addresses associated with logins on the Jones account, she made a discovery: Among the many addresses, there had been one apparent slipup, a login not through Tor but from the Zonises’ home IP address. When she found it Van Engelen ran into Bateman’s office, yelling: “We’ve got him!” It would have been unheard of for someone to fake a login using Zonis’ IP address, Kaltsounis told the jury, because of a safeguard called the three-way handshake that requires hosts to establish a connection with the IP address belonging to the account before any information can be sent.

By the end of arguments, the Allens’ legal team had introduced 1,083 exhibits into evidence. The chart Van Engelen made just to organize the emails was 87 pages long. It was a level of scrutiny that few cyberharassment cases ever receive—and an illustration of what victims face when dealing with such a complicated case, especially if they don’t have access to pro bono help. K&L lawyers and paralegals had spent thousands of hours digging through the evidence. The value of Van Engelen’s time alone was in the ballpark of $400,000.

Zonis never took the stand. He blamed the lawyers for purposefully taking up too much time questioning Courtney and Jennifer, and introducing endless emails that he said had nothing to do with him. Van Engelen was disgusted: “He got his one big chance to tell his side of the story, and he didn’t take it,” she says. “This is somebody who’s very strong behind a keyboard. And when the opportunity arises to actually prove himself and be vindicated, he just folds like a flower.”

On Thursday, March 30, Van Engelen stood up to deliver her closing argument. It was the first time she’d ever done so in a real court.

She began by playing one of the voicemails that Zonis had admitted to leaving—“How does it feel to know that I’m never, ever, ever going to stop?” Then she turned to the jury: “Someone needs to tell him to stop.” She described Courtney’s lowest moment: going for the gun. She reminded them of a message promising isolation, shame, and ridicule, and the email from Zonis’ personal account after Courtney got a protective order: “Glad that bullshit symbolic gesture is out of the way.”

It was impossible to trace all of the harassment directly to Zonis with cyberforensics, Van Engelen told the jury, so she encouraged them to also consider repetition of details (like the sex toy he had sent) that were in both the anonymous messages and voicemails from Zonis. She talked about the problems with the evidence that Zonis had introduced.

“Do not,” Van Engelen concluded, “let this be another bullshit symbolic gesture. Tell him to stop, hold him liable.”

In his own closing statement, Zonis reiterated that “the stuff doesn’t trace back to me,” talked about the difficulty of being cut off from his parents, and cast himself as a scapegoat: “And what if I’m not the devil? Then what do you do? Oh, my God, we were wrong. We can’t have that, can we?” He told the jury that not testifying wasn’t his choice; the judge said this wasn’t true.

The K&L lawyers had not asked for a specific amount of compensation. The Allens told their lawyers that their goal wasn’t money but simply an end to the harassment.

The next afternoon the jury came back with a decision.

The 12 jurors had been given forms to explain which of the Allens’ and Zonis’ claims they deemed true and which they rejected. For the first claim, “Did Todd Zonis electronically impersonate the Allens?” the presiding juror circled yes. The jury also chose yes for “Was the electronic impersonation a proximate cause of the injury or damage to the Allens?” The form offered a blank space to write in the total amount of damages warranted. The jury’s answer: $2 million.

And so it went. The jury found each of the Allens’ other claims against Zonis—intentional invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and defamation—justified, and to each they affixed a boggling sum. The jury did agree with Zonis on one count: The Allens had “intruded upon the seclusion” of the Zonises, but they found that no harm had resulted. When the amounts awarded to the Allens were totaled, they added up to $8.9 million. It was a record for a cyberharassment case that didn’t involve a celebrity. The jury “didn’t believe it was trivial anymore,” Van Engelen said with satisfaction.

After the trial was over, the Allens and some of the jurors had the chance to meet outside the courtroom. One of the jurors came up to Courtney, gave her a hug, and said, “You’ve been through so much.” Neither the Allens nor their lawyers expect to actually see the award money, but that moment in the hallway felt just as valuable.

“The fact that other people can see it, and they see the crazy in it, helps me feel that I’m not insane,” Courtney said later. The Allens’ deepest hope, though, remained simple: that the harassment would stop.

For more than a month after the trial, it seemed they would get their wish. Then one afternoon Courtney logged on to her computer and found a new email. It read, “pun ish men t w ill soo n b han ded out to the wic ked. you rti me is sho rt. mis sin g fam ily we wil lno t. pri ce for act ion to be pai d y et it is.” More emails followed. Courtney felt a mixture of dread and exhaustion. It wasn’t over. “I’d love nothing more than for us to be left alone,” she says. “Do I expect that to happen? No. I expect this to be in our lives, in some capacity, forever.”

At the time this story went to press, law enforcement had not yet indicated whether criminal charges would be filed. Gary Ernsdorff, of the King County prosecutor’s office, allowed that he kept an eye on the case. Cyberharassment, especially with private images, “is dropping a bomb in somebody’s life,” he said.

After the trial Zonis filed a notice of appeal. He felt the trial was unfair and that the proceedings hadn’t paid enough attention to what he believed the Allens had done to him. His losses, he said, were real and numerous (to the list he added what he considered stress-­induced health problems), while the Allens’ were petty, just “flash” from a “hot-­button issue.” He still denied that his relationship with Courtney was an affair or that he had access to the videos of her or sent the anonymous emails. He also said, in a phone interview, “Anything that I said or did was reactionary” and “If they wanted me to plead guilty to harassment, no problem. What am I harassing them about?”

Soon after the trial, a blog appeared in Zonis’ name. In it he questioned the way the trial was run, disputed its findings, excoriated the people involved, and posted much of the same evidence against Steven that the lawyers discredited at trial. “My name is Todd Zonis and I lost my family, my home, my future, and probably my life, and while my life may not teach you anything, hopefully my death will,” the blog began. The evidence he posted included the images of Courtney and a note: “Please feel free to download any and all of the materials that I have posted here, and use or distribute them as you see fit.”


Brooke Jarvis (@brookejarvis) is a writer based in Seattle.

This article appears in the December issue. Subscribe now.

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Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/how-one-womans-digital-life-was-weaponized-against-her/

5 Haircut Trends That Will Be Everywhere In 2018

We’re exactly one month away from the new year, which is great because this year I’ve been trash has been the worst and I can’t wait until it’s fucking over. And with a new year comes the inevitable hope that there will also be a “new you”. Maybe a you who doesn’t buy her work attire from Forever21 or who isn’t in an emotionally committed relationship with her Seamless guy. Well,  a girl can dream. Anyway, here are 5 haircut trends that are about to be everyfuckingwhere in 2018 so you can embrace the best “new you” aka the same you, but with better hair.

1. Curtain Bangs

Curtain bangs are officially happening and we can thank the psychos on Pinterest who gave this trend a 600 percent increase in pins this year. It’s a dreamy, yet romantic look that works best on people who have straight hair. So if your New Year’s Eve resolution is to be more “daring” but you don’t actually want to take any risks, then this haircut might be right for you. It’s like getting bangs, but not, because they’re basically almost all grown out anyway.

2. Extra Long Hair 

Kim Kardashian has been trying to make fetch extra long hair extensions happen for a straight-up year now, and apparently she’s going to get her wish, because 2018 is the year of long-ass hair. Extra long hair or “Cher hair” is predicted to be one of the hottest hair trends of 2018, which is great because I literally just got a lob last week. Seriously. This is v good for my my mental health rn. Anyway, unless you can afford to import hair extensions from a starving child in India *cough* Kim K *cough cough*  then you better start growing your hair out now. 

3. Blunt Bob With Bangs

If you’re one of those who wants to look betchy AF but doesn’t want to commit to hair that’s long enough to accidentally touch a toilet seat, then the blunt bob/bang combo is going to be the haircut for you. I’m not gonna lie, it takes one hell of a confident woman to pull this look off, but if Elena Gilbert—someone who survived after her entire family died, turned into a vampire, hooked up with her ex’s brother (and got away with it), found out she was a doppelgänger to the nastiest skank bitch in town, and still had to graduate high school during all of this—can pull of this look, then so can you. 

4. The Grown-Out Pixie

Is it wrong that I’m predicting style trends based off of someone who hasn’t even hit puberty yet? Whatever. If it’s wrong, then Netflix shouldn’t have made a 12-year-old so fucking chic I don’t want to be right. Last year the pixie cut was everywhere, so naturally the grown-out pixie, or as I like to call it, the wtf-have-I-done-I-just-want-long-hair-again cut is going to be the “it” look of 2018. I mean, how else should you start a new year if not with a haircut that says you’re full of shame and regret from last year’s poor decisions? Anyway, if you got the pixie cut because one time Millie Bobby Brown got a pixie cut, then this is the perfect new look for you. Try leaving it extra long on top to give you some more styling options.

5. The Meghan Markle Knock-Off

In case you’re a mole person and missed it, the hottest European ginger is officially off the market thanks to Meghan Markle. That lucky fucking bitch. But if you can’t have her man, you can at least attempt to replicate her hairstyle so that you can feel close to Prince Harry like an actual princess in the new year. This isn’t so much a haircut as just a look you can attempt before hitting up happy hour. It’s the first Friday back at work after the Thanksgiving holiday, what the fuck do you want from me. Long hair and bouncy curls are about to be everywhere because of this bitch, I’m calling it now. 

Read more: http://www.betches.com/haircut-trends-2018