Feb 6, 2019

The past resurfaces with a vengeance

This afternoon, Virginia's attorney general admitted to wearing blackface in the past, while an accuser detailed her sexual assault allegations against the state's lieutenant governor.

Diagram: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The big picture: In decades past, these allegations might not have ever become public. Now, they're impossible to dismiss. And that's not just true for public officials.

  • High-profile business leaders are being warned to run an opposition-research scan on themselves, as if they were political candidates, to search for problematic yearbook and other images from the past.
  • That advice, reported by the Wall Street Journal, reflects a sudden surge in attention to racism and #MeToo accusations, some going back decades.

Be smart: In corporations, this new scrutiny is expected to extend to new hires of senior talent, a PR executive told the WSJ.

  • "As a best practice, companies should be doing background checks on all senior level and board hires, digging in 25 years or more. 'You have to go back both virtually and physically,' [the exec] said, identifying 'high school and college activities, fraternities, nicknames, everything.'"

The bottom line: This isn't just a problem from the past, and it's not just confined to the old south.

  • Jan. 24, 2019: "Florida secretary of state resigns after photos reveal he wore blackface" (Axios)
  • Jan. 22, 2019: "University of Oklahoma says students involved in blackface video 'will not return to campus'" (CNN)
  • April 11, 2018: "Blackface Leads to Fraternity Suspension at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo" (NYT)
  • Oct. 3, 2016: "Pennsylvania College Students Suspended Over Blackface Video" (Reuters)

P.S. Fallout over blackface isn't just limited to those who wear the offensive garb. NBC host Megyn Kelly's show was canceled last year after she said she didn't know why wearing blackface was seen as racist.

Go deeper: Virginia's 3 highest ranking state officials all land in hot water

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Unvaccinated students in Seattle will be banned from school

Close-up of folder containing medical forms labeled Refusal to Vaccinate. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Students enrolled in the Seattle Public School district who are unvaccinated will not be allowed to attend classes starting Jan. 8, district officials have warned, per the Seattle Times.

The big picture: With cases of contagious but preventable diseases like measles spiking to new highs in recent years, cities and schools have been trying to mandate vaccinations to keep illnesses at bay.

Go deeperArrowJan 2, 2020

Global #MeToo movement has resulted in 6 convictions, 5 charges of influential figures

Bill Cosby, Larry Nassar and Allison Mack have been convicted on charges related to sexual misconduct. Photos: Matt Rourke-Pool, Jeff Kowalsky/AFP and Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Hundreds of powerful people — predominately men — have been accused of sexual offenses since the #MeToo movement went viral in 2017. After Jeffrey Epstein's death, only five of them currently face charges, while six others have been convicted.

Why it matters: The #MeToo movement, which was created by civil rights activist Tarana Burke and gained traction after allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein came to light in 2017, focused global attention on previously unchecked sexual misconduct, leading at least 201 powerful men to lose jobs or major positions. But the movement, dubbed a global reckoning, has had few legal consequences for the accused. Here are some of the most notable cases.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jan 8, 2020

In photos: The moments that defined a decade

Obama, Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and national security team members in the Situation Room of the White House on May 1, 2011, during the operation that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Photo: Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images

The 2010s were marked by terrorism, major natural disasters, huge political upheaval and, in the U.S. in particular, political polarization.

Zoom in: The decade began with Democratic President Obama, political gridlock in the Republican-controlled Congress and surging partisanship. It's closing with Republican President Trump impeached by the Democratic-controlled House. A bright spot has been the the U.S. economy, which has steadily improved since the financial crisis of the previous decade.

See photosArrowUpdated Dec 29, 2019