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Music

‘The Letter For The King’ Is Your Next Netflix Binge


Netflix’s The Letter for the King is just what we need when we’re all hunkered down at home: a bingeable show for the entire family.

Set in medieval times, the new series follows a novice knight from Eviellan, the kingdom of the south, named Tiuri (Amir Wilson). An outcast by nature, he’s not the most skillful fighter, “but he has the heart and courage,” Wilson says. “Whether it’s for the people against him or the people with him, he’ll always do the right things for the right reasons.”

In the middle of knighthood qualifications, Tiuri is tapped by a dying knight to deliver an urgent letter to the king. His task isn’t a simple mail run. In the midst of a war between Eviellan and the kingdom of the north, Unauwen, there are people who don’t want him to succeed in his quest, and they’ll use whatever powers they have — physical, mental, or mystical — to ensure his failure.

It’s somewhat reminiscent of Game of Thrones, with a series of interlocking characters and storylines all geared around a prophecy predicting the downfall of a prince, along with sweeping landscapes, epic battles, and free-flowing fantasy.

Stanislav Honzik/Netflix

“The more the show progresses, the more fantasy it gets,” Gijs Blom tells MTV News. “The more you just let go of your expectations and your beliefs and everything, the more you can enjoy it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a 12-year-old child or a 60-year-old.”

Blom plays Prince Viridian, the aforementioned royal from the north who is destined for defeat. But, he cautions, try to think of his character “not in terms of good and bad, but in terms of intentions.” For Viridian, the ends justify the means, and Blom adds, “he really wants what is good for the world.”

Because these two major forces both truly believe they’re working toward the greater good, the inevitable battles they fight are less intense than those bloody, gory scenes Game of Thrones became known for. They’re tense, but not traumatizing. “You can root for both sides,” Thaddea Graham, who plays aspiring knight Iona, says. “I think that’s what’s so exciting to watch. You kind of want both of them to win.” Every battle is character driven, Graham adds, helping to drive plot forward rather than completely cut off one character’s plot at a time.

Graham’s Iona is, like Tiuri, a novice, in training toward full knighthood. Their youth adds a coming-of-age element to the story, grounding this fantasy in relatable themes about self-discovery. “Regardless of the time period, teenagers trying to find out who they are is always going to be a thing,” she says.

Petr Dobias/Netflix

But for Iona, the stakes are a bit higher. Not coming from the same privilege as the other novices, Iona is a fierce and determined competitor. She has to be — if knighthood doesn’t work out, she has nothing and no one else to fall back on. So, after Tiuri sets off on his mission, when Iona and the other novices are instructed to go after him and thwart his efforts, she listens, meaning during this north-versus-south war, forces from both the north and the south are working against Tiuri.

Fortunately, Tiuri finds one ally early on in Lavinia (Ruby Ashbourne Serkis). Though their partnership is characterized by reluctance, both need each other, and both can benefit from what the other offers. Lavinia gives Tiuri an escape route from the captors closing in on him, while Tiuri offers Lavinia the freedom and adventure she’s been craving.

Action-packed from the very beginning, the cast thinks the best way to prepare for The Letter for the King is to not prepare at all. There will be intense moments, but as far as they’re concerned, the less you know, the better. “All those emotions in life are so unpredictable and just hit you at random times and I think that’s what makes it so impactful, when you don’t expect it and it comes without knowing,” Graham says.

But, Ashbourne Serkis adds, do make sure to gather the entire family around the TV to enjoy the series together. Not only was The Letter for the King shot in CinemaScope (essentially making it theater-ready), but the show also “works on so many levels that people of all ages will be able to watch it,” she says. “You forget how nice being able to watch something as a collective experience is.”

The Letter for the King is available to stream on Netflix now.



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Music

Hailee Steinfeld’s ‘I Love You’s’ Samples Annie Lennox



If you’re looking for a new self-love anthem, look no further than Hailee Steinfeld‘s “I Love You’s.” The song, which samples Annie Lennox‘s iconic track of nearly the same name (“No More ‘I Love You’s'”), is all about deciding to focus on yourself for a while instead of free-falling into another destructive relationship.

“Diamonds won’t fool me ’cause I’m too far gone,” she sings on the pre-chorus, promising that she won’t fall for the same old tricks she fell for in the past. Right now, she needs to focus on rehabilitating herself after back-to-back heartbreaks. “Wish I could get back the air in my lungs,” she continues. “I’ve been so fucked up it’s bad for my heart.”

The chorus mingles Lennox’s signature “doo-bee-doo-bee-doo’s” with Steinfeld’s own promise to herself: “No more I love you’s,” she sings. The “Starving” songstress is done giving her heart away before it’s healed, which is something she’s been guilty of in the past, per a recent interview with EW. “I went through a breakup and did not give myself enough time to heal from that before getting into another relationship,” she said. “When that second relationship ended it became clear that I needed time and space to heal — I hadn’t given myself that to begin with that first time around.”

The song’s lyrics are proof. After the chorus, Steinfeld admits that she used to make up excuses for why her relationships consistently didn’t work out. “Yeah, I blamed it on the time zones,” she sings. “I blamed it on my eyes closed / I blamed it on the world like it owes me.” Sound familiar? Ultimately, though, she begins to understand that the best and longest relationship she’s ever going to have is the one she has with herself.

“So I’ll make amends, and I’ll buy myself flowers,” she sings, finally giving herself the love she deserves. And by the time the bridge rolls around, Steinfeld finally feels what she’s been seeking all along: freedom. “It’s not on my lips and I love it,” she sings. “No weight on my chest, I’m above it. I’m taking a moment to cut it out.”

Looking to release the heaviness of past relationships and learn how to love yourself again? Steinfeld is right there with you. Check out the lyric video for her new single “I Love You’s’ up above.



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Breaking New

Rabbi ‘Romi’ Cohn, Holocaust survivor, dies from coronavirus complications at 91



Cohn, who led the House of Representatives in opening prayer in January for the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and International Holocaust Remembrance Day, died on Tuesday after being hospitalized last Friday, according to his sister-in-law, Judy Geld, and great nephew, Shulem Geldzahler.

Geldzahler said Cohn’s death certificate indicates he died of acute respiratory distress syndrome caused by pneumonia and Covid-19. Geldzahler said Cohn was tested for coronavirus but he was not aware of the result.

Rep. Max Rose, who represents the boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn where Cohn served, recalled the rabbi’s “life of service” via Twitter on Tuesday, posting video of Cohn’s prayer before the House in January.

“Rabbi Cohn lived an incredible life of service, helping 56 families escape Nazi tyranny,” Rose wrote.

A native of Pressburg, Czechoslovakia, now Slovakia, Cohn was a 16-year-old member of the underground resistance when he helped save 56 families from the Holocaust — an episode recounted in his book, “The Youngest Partisan,” according to Yeshiva World News and a biography of the rabbi posted on Rose’s congressional website in January. He was born in 1929.

“Some people take four lives to live his life,” Geld said. “He died on his Hebrew birthday at 91 years old, which is a big deal in our Jewish religion. God gave him a full life to the last day.”

His mother, two sisters and two brothers died during the Holocaust, according to the biography.

Cohn later settled in New York, where he met his wife, Malvine, while living in Brooklyn, the biography said.

He started working in construction and eventually became a developer on Staten Island, where he ran a company that built 3,500 homes, according to the bio and his relatives.

Cohn was trained in the ritual of circumcision — a mohel — and performed thousands of circumcisions for which he refused payment, the bio said.

Considered an authority on the ritual, Cohn wrote an internationally recognized textbook on circumcision and was executive chairman of the American Board of Certified Mohelim.

“He was powerful,” Geld said. “He was decisive. He was extremely generous. He was a mohel — he gave circumcisions and he never took a dime. He did thousands of them.”

The rabbi established a scholarship foundation for Torah scholars and their families more than three decades ago, according to the bio on Rose’s website.

“He was a very humble guy,” Geldzahler said. “Everyone that knew him had an open door to him. No one was too small for him to talk to or explain something to. His house was always open for people to come and go.

“He was always with a smile and he always appreciated coming to him with the kids. He would give treats to the kids — lollipops and dollars.”

Geld said, “He was very good in the kitchen making potato pancakes. I used to say Rami’s are the best in the world. He loved to have guests in the house.”

Mendy Mirocznik, president of the Council of Jewish Organizations of Staten Island, called Cohn “a leader in commerce, a captain of the industry.”

“As powerful and as prestigious as he was in the real estate industry as a builder and developer, by the same token he was a humble, regular man,” Mirocznik said. “There was no ego, no aura of greatness with him. He made you feel like a million dollars.”



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Fashion & Style

21 Books That Will Put You in a Good Mood, Guaranteed


I know, things are pretty bleak right now. You probably spent the last 72 hours scrolling Twitter and forwarding breaking news alerts to six rotating group chats. I can’t tell you when life will feel normal again, but I can tell you these books will create that illusion for a few hours. These are ELLE.com staffers’ picks to boost your mood in anxious times.

1

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

While the everyday fear of everyone hanging out without you (IRL, at least) has been rendered sadly irrelevant right now, Kaling’s humor and candor are perennial, and her debut book reminds you that she is at heart a writer above all else. IEHOWM features enough Hollywood tidbits to satiate, but what makes me return to this memoir are Kaling’s memories of an idyllic-sounding childhood, growing up with two driven and caring immigrant parents who imbued her offbeat personality with an undefeatable sense of confidence. —Adrienne Gaffney

2

Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art by Mary Gabriel

I’m only a few chapters in, but the strength of spirit of these women who fiercely pioneered a future world in uncertain times feels timely, inspiring, and hopeful as we face our own uncertainties. I’m ready to take their lead. —Rosie Jarman

3

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel

Pamela Dorman Books
amazon.com

Eleanor Oliphant is not fine. She thinks she is—she’s perfectly content with her solitude and her many routines thank you very much (and what’s it to you, anyway?). But as she learns throughout this poignant and unforgettable novel, everyone needs somebody, and she, too, is capable and deserving of the joys human connection can bring. I feel a little conflicted recommending this for a list of books that will put you in a good mood because there are some deeply sad parts to Eleanor’s tale, but overall, this book is cemented in my memory as being as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking. Eleanor is often hilarious, and I walked away feeling completely charmed by her and hopeful for her future—what more could we ask for right now? —Kayla Webley Adler

4

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

There is nothing more torturous than being kept indoors while watching the weather get warmer and the trees start to bud. Robin weaves a beautiful narrative around the beauty of the natural world and the lessons it teaches us, which feels so important in these delicate times. —Katelyn Baker

5

Emily: The Cookbook by Emily and Matthew Hyland

Browsing cookbooks is one of my favorite forms of escapism, so Emily: The Cookbook has been perfect for both my physical and mental nourishment. Emily and Matt Hyland, co-founders of the popular New York pizza joint Emily, reveal how to create the ideal pie with straightforward tips (what kind of salt should you use? Does the dough really need to be tossed pizzeria-style?), proving that tasty food doesn’t always require complex gadgets or obscure ingredients. Their classic recipes—easily achieved by home cooks of all levels and accompanied by mouthwatering photos—are the perfect antidote to the stuck-at-home blues. —Margaret Willes

6

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Okay, so it isn’t the most uplifting story line, but if you’re looking for a beautiful and sweeping narrative to lose yourself in when you’re tired of watching Netflix, I would highly recommend this book. The way Doerr writes is grandiose and poetic, and this book is the perfect companion for all your cozy reading needs. —KB

7

Bossypants by Tina Fey

I always come back to this Tina Fey classic, which brings me as much joy as an episode of 30 Rock and remains one of the few books I never tire of re-readingIt’s hilarious without being mean or cowing to the status quo, and it’s zippy and light without sacrificing substance. Fey’s upbringing, years as a struggling comedian in Chicago and her SNL tenure (including that truly bizarre Sarah Palin season) are all rendered with both humor and thought. —AG

8

My Sister, the Serial Killer: A Novel

Korede is a very good sister. No matter how many times her beautiful serial killer sister, Ayoola, calls her after murdering yet another one of her lovers, Korede is there to take her call, arriving at the crime scene with bleach and rubber gloves in hand. But what happens when Ayoola sets her sights on Korede’s longtime crush? Strap in, because this wild ride of a novel—a remarkable debut by a young Nigerian writer that you’ll fly through in one sitting—is a satirical, smart, super fun time. —KWA

9

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

What’s more relatable, in this moment, than being pushed out of your normal life and sequestered at home? Such is the plight of budding teen journalist Cal, whose New York City life is uprooted when his father is chosen for a new NASA program. Relocated to Florida, Cal must navigate a new way of building a career through reporting while under the scrutiny of a slightly sinister reality show being filmed about the astronauts and their families. But Phil Stamper’s beautiful and light YA romance is not all Big Brother in Space—Cal meets and falls for fellow AstroKid Leon in a story that’s told with such humor and heart that it will transport you, wherever you are, however far away the stars seem. —R. Eric Thomas

10

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

This novel is exactly what its title suggests while somehow exploding expectations. When Nikki, a London bartender and law school dropout, reluctantly offers to teach creative writing to a group of widows at the Sikh Community Association, the class abruptly changes course after her students stumble upon a book of erotica. A family drama, romantic comedy, and thriller all in one, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows is the kind of unexpected escapism we could all use right now. —Julie Kosin

11

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Simon & Schuster
amazon.com

Okay, so technically it’s a little hard to have a year of yes (saying yes to invitations, new experiences, life in general) when you’re under weeks of no, but Shonda Rhimes’ entertaining and uplifting book on the year that changed her life will give you a new perspective on your own. Rhimes tracks her journey from professional exhaustion, personal frustration, and social withdrawal to a place of healthy expansive embrace. This book will inspire you to think about what’s possible and remind you that sometimes, big changes come through small steps. —RET

12

The Most of Nora Ephron

Knopf Publishing Group
amazon.com

I love Nora Ephron and have found myself going back to this collection. It’s got a little bit of everything, from witty essays on feminism, beauty, and aging to profiles of empowering female figures. Plus, you can dive into her delicious debut novel Heartburn, which recounts her breakup to Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein, or relive the screenplay of When Harry Met Sally… In an increasingly anxious time, I’ve found her frank, funny writing to be just the level of comfort copy I want to crawl up with. —Savannah Walsh

13

Holes by Louis Sachar

The perfect remedy for social-distancing blues? Yellow-spotted lizards, onions, and just a splash of sploosh. There’s a certain comfort in revisiting the things we loved most as kids, and for me, that’s the wonderfully weird YA novel Holes. I’ve got a signed copy in my bedside table drawer—“To Rose: Happy Digging!” author Louis Sachar wrote—and I can still recite most of the movie adaptation’s original song, “Dig It,” by the D-Tent Boys. The story follows a wronged juvenile named Stanley Yelnats who is forced to dig holes at a Texas detention center to “build character.” While serving out his sentence, Stanley gets wrapped up in a mystical treasure hunt involving an ancient curse, forbidden love, and a really stinky pair of shoes. Holes is clever and heartwarming and, most of all, hilarious—the ultimate form of escapism for these uncertain times. —Rose Minutaglio

14

Becoming by Michelle Obama

AMERICAN WEST BOOKS
amazon.com

Perhaps you’ve heard of Michelle Obama. Perhaps you fear that revisiting the ever-more-halcyon days that she was in the White House might feel a bit bittersweet, or even sad. Well, worry not. In her bestselling memoir, the former first lady, accomplished attorney, and vegetable enthusiast has crafted an inspiring story that will be relatable to any person at any station of life. Obama spends much of the book diving into her formative years, writing about moments of deep self-doubt and rich education. Though she has lived an extraordinary life, her words make her seem blessedly normal. This is not a book full of Washington secrets and celebrity run-ins. This is a story of a black woman finding her way in America; it will capture your whole heart. —RET

15

Here for It by R. Eric Thomas

ELLE staff writer R. Eric Thomas’s commentary on any topic is always an instant balm for the soul. His journey to Becoming (Michelle Obama pun intended!) and blessing the internet with his singular wit is as hilarious as it is heartening. He can even make the end times feel more tolerable. —Katie Connor

16

Normal People by Sally Rooney

I know you’ve seen this cover everywhere, but if you haven’t read Sally Rooney’s Normal People, there’s no excuse now. A Hulu adaptation of this tender account of first love—and all the questions, complications, and insecurities that accompany it—is coming very soon, and you’re going to be incredibly disappointed if you’re left out of that conversation. Marianne and Connell are schoolmates who pretend not to know each other, even as they cycle through a vicious pattern of craving, caring for, and hurting one another—all in the pursuit of a “normal” existence. Rooney’s observations on life and love are intensely shrewd, and a worthy follow-up to her equally smart first novel, Conversations with Friends—JK



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Music

Yes, There’s A Scripted Tiger King Series In Development



If you’ve already binged Netflix’s bizarre, “off the rails” series Tiger King, don’t worry. There’s still more to come.

The docu-series, which spans seven episodes, is one of the strangest stories to hit the streaming platform, and it follows the true story of a man who goes by the name of Joe Exotic. He’s a tiger breeder who ran an exotic animal park in Oklahoma, and every facet of his out-there life is explored in the series, including his feud with animal rights activist Carole Baskin. The entirety of the story is filled with some of the strangest twists and turns you’ll have ever followed, eventually culminating in a decidedly wild climax that you’ll never see coming.

The fun doesn’t have to stop there, though. Variety has confirmed that Universal Content Productions is hard at work on a TV series based on the stage story, with Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon tapped to take on the role of Baskin. There’s not been an announcement just yet for who might play Joe.

Tiger King may very well be one of the oddest journeys you’ll take on a binge-watching odyssey one evening, so if this sounds even the least bit intriguing to you, you should go ahead and dive in.

The series is currently in the earliest stages of production and isn’t planned for any specific network or streaming platform just yet. However, the simple fact that it exists alone is really enough to get fans who have seen the entire documentary excited about what’s to come. If you’re still practicing social distancing (as we all well should be), we can hardly think of a better way to spend your day if you need a little something out of the ordinary to watch. Then we’ll all do it again once this new series debuts.



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Business

UK throws lifeline to self-employed hit by coronavirus By Reuters



© Reuters. Spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Northwich

LONDON (Reuters) – The British government will pay grants to self-employed people who have lost their livelihood because of the coronavirus lockdown, further extending an unprecedented package of measures to prevent the economy from collapsing.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak, who had previously announced the state would pay part of the wages of employees to dissuade their firms from laying them off, had come under pressure to offer a similar lifeline to Britain’s 5 million self-employed workers.

He said the government would pay those self-employed people who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to 2,500 pounds ($3,000) a month.

“Our expectation is that this will be up and running by the middle of June,” Sunak said during a news conference in Downing Street.

The scheme, designed to cover 95% of those who make most of their income from self-employment, will be open to those with trading profits of up to 50,000 pounds, for at least three months.

The cap of 2,500 pounds per month is the same as the one for employees in the package of measures announced previously.

“What we have done will, I believe, stand as one of the most significant economic interventions at any point in the history of the British state and by any government anywhere in the world,” Sunak said.

Working in tandem, the government and the Bank of England have been announcing enormous packages of measures to try and cushion the impact of the coronavirus on the British economy.

The central bank carried out two emergency rate cuts earlier this month and vastly expanded its bond purchase programme. It said on Thursday it was ready to further ramp up its bond-buying programme if necessary.

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Celebrity Entertaiment

Meghan Markle to Narrate New Disneynature Documentary


Making moves! Meghan Markle’s first gig following her royal exit will feature her narrating a new movie for Disneynature.

Disney announced on Thursday, March 26, that Meghan, 38, will lend her voice to Elephant, which will tell the story of an elephant’s journey. The film will debut on Disney+ on Friday, April 3, alongside Dolphin Reef, in which Natalie Portman will serve as the featured narrator.

Penguins, which was previously released in theaters last year, will also hit Disney+ on April 3. The animal-themed flicks are Disney’s way of honoring Earth Month.

Meghan Markle to Narrate New Disney Nature Documentary Elephant
Meghan Markle visits to Canada House in London on January 7, 2020. Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

“The Earth Month collection on Disney+ will also contain additional Disneynature titles premiering on the service on April 3 including In the Footsteps of Elephant, A Life on the Edge and Diving with Dolphins, which give viewers behind-the-scenes access into the unique filmmaking process of all three films,” Disney+ said in a press release. “These captivating films will join an already robust collection of animal and nature titles highlighted throughout the month.”

Meghan and Prince Harry announced on January 8 that they would step down from their “senior” positions within the British royal family. The transition would require the couple to become financially independent, while splitting their time between North America and the U.K.

Later that month, The Times reported that the former Suits actress signed a voiceover deal with Disney. In her contract with the media company, she requested that her compensation from the project be made as a contribution to wildlife charity Elephants Without Borders.

Harry, 35, may have played a part in helping the California native land her new voiceover gig. According to a video posted by Daily Mail in January, the British Army vet had a discussion with former Disney CEO Bob Iger at the July 2019 premiere of The Lion King about Meghan’s voiceover experience.

“You do know she does voiceovers?” Harry shared with Iger, 69, about Meghan. The Disney chairman replied, “Ah, I did not know that.” Harry then noted that Meghan is “really interested” in getting back into that line of work, to which Iger expressed what a “great” idea that was. “We’d love to try,” the Ride of a Lifetime author added.

Following her departure from royal life, Meghan and Harry have chosen to reside in Canada with their 10-month-old son, Archie. An insider told Us Weekly how “happy” Meghan is with her life outside of England. Meanwhile, Harry is “really excited about the next chapter in their lives.”

Listen on Spotify to Us Weekly’s Hot Hollywood as each week the editors of Us break down the hottest entertainment news stories!





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Music

Dua Lipa Rides A Hamster Wheel Of Heartbreak In Vibrant New Video



Mere hours after releasing Future Nostalgia‘s fourth single “Break My Heart,” Dua Lipa has returned with an equally funky and vibrant video to boot. In it, the pop star takes us on an extraordinary adventure that begins right in the middle of New York City’s hustle and bustle. Later on, she sings about how she “should’ve stayed at home,” which — turns out — is objectively good advice given the fact that so many of us are doing our best to self-isolate right now.

After weaving in and out of traffic on a hectic city block by foot, the “Don’t Start Now” singer’s journey continues, but this time, in what appears to be a man’s apartment. Once inside, she struggles to maintain her balance, a metaphor for being uncertain about whether or not the feelings she’s experiencing are being reciprocated. “I’m indecisive but this time I know for sure,” she sings. “I hope I’m not the only one that feels it all.”

In the following scene, Lipa finds herself in a chic, dimly lit restaurant. One that, thankfully, has a light-up floor that she can dance on once the undeniably catchy chorus hits. “I would’ve stayed at home / ‘Cause I was doing better alone,” she sings. “But when you said, ‘Hello’ / I knew that was the end of it all.” Even though she knows she shouldn’t, she continues to make decisions that will inevitably lead to heartbreak. And if that’s not relatable, we don’t know what is.

Perhaps the strongest and most mesmerizing aspect of the video, visually speaking, is its transitions. When a wall blows out in the restaurant, Lipa is suddenly free-falling through a pink sky until she safely lands in a seat on an airplane. In a different scene, the pop star’s bubble bath turns into a frothy pink martini. In another, a round window transforms into a spinning hamster wheel. It truly is a wild ride. But hey, when is love not?

If you haven’t already, check out the full video for Dua Lipa’s “Break My Heart” up above. And remember, she “should’ve stayed home,” and if you can, you should too.



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Breaking New

The presidential race isn’t on hold — it’s playing out right before us


“It’s hard not to be happy with the job we’re doing, that I can tell you,” Trump said Wednesday in the White House briefing room, where he stands before dinnertime most every night to deliver a rosy assessment of the crisis that seldom mentions the rising US death toll, overwhelmed hospitals and cries for help from doctors, nurses and local leaders.

Seven months before Election Day, the President is working overtime to build a glowing narrative about his administration’s coronavirus response.

His rally-like rhetoric from the White House may be paying dividends — for now, at least — as three polls this week show more Americans view Trump’s handling of the crisis through a positive light than a negative one. His approval rating has ticked up.

It’s an open question whether those early reviews represent more of a rallying effect, which presidents often experience during times of national emergency, or if the support will endure after the true scope of the deadly outbreak is fully known.

Joe Biden and his advisers are racing to compete with Trump’s megaphone and his often self-congratulatory version of events, which routinely clash with the truth. The Biden team is working to adapt to the new realities of a campaign playing out in a nation under quarantine, isolation and fear.

“I don’t care whether the president’s numbers are going up and down,” Biden said Wednesday. “I know, along with anybody else who’s ever dealt with these kinds of things, like we did in our administration, that time is of the essence. Time is of the essence.”

Speaking from his home in Delaware, where aides built a basement television studio, Biden took pains not to overtly politicize the coronavirus spread. He even said he would welcome a strong approval rating for Trump, if it pushed the White House to provide needed assistance to cities and states.

“I hope that he’s so strong that he’s up way above that, because we need the help now,” Biden said. “We need help now.”

The urgent empathy in Biden’s voice underscored the uncertainty and fragility of this moment. While he has remained largely above the political fray, his campaign has pushed back aggressively against Trump as his outside allies have launched a multi-million dollar ad campaign highlighting how the White House downplayed the crisis for weeks.
The primary campaign may be frozen in time, with several states postponing elections until June and Bernie Sanders staying in the race, even though Biden has built a nearly insurmountable lead in delegates. But the general election has already begun, a contest that is remarkably more complicated in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Pro-Biden group hits Trump's coronavirus response in nationwide TV ad

‘This campaign can’t be on hold’

The events of the coming weeks could shape the race for months to come, several Democratic strategists say, arguing the party cannot afford to cede this moment to Trump or allow Republicans to derisively define Biden while he is striving to put the crisis above politics.

“This campaign can’t be on hold,” said Robby Mook, who ran Hillary Clinton’s race against Trump in 2016. “This is the campaign.”

Facing the biggest challenge of his presidency, Trump had been missing something he relishes: an enemy to vilify. Now, he’s taken to blaming China for inflicting pain on the world and has returned to lashing out at the media to portray himself as a victim to his supporters.

To Mook, it’s a familiar pattern that he saw slowly unfold four years ago.

“People see 2016 as this crazy fluke, which it was in many ways,” Mook said. “But that’s missing the bigger point that Trump has a way of owning what we’re talking about and grinding in a set of doubts about his opponent. He projects his greatness weaknesses on his opponent — and I see that happening again.”

The Biden team is steadily preparing to wage a battle for which there is no playbook, with a former vice president not accustomed to being on the sidelines of power after spending nearly a half-century in the Senate or the White House.

“I’m chomping at the bit,” Biden said. “I wish I were still in the Senate, you know, being able to impact some of these things, but I am where I am and I hope to be the nominee of the Democratic Party and I hope I’m able to get my message across as we go forward.”

But it remains to be seen how successful he will be in projecting that message.

His aides have rushed to adapt to the rapidly-changing environment, installing the television studio, launching a podcast and increasing his visibility — all from his Delaware basement as he, like much of America, is working from home.

A central issue

A campaign once thought to be waged over the future of health care, economic fairness and America’s place in the world is now revolving around something else: The administration’s response to coronavirus and the economic collapse. How the nation recovers by November will be a key metric for voters.

In the president’s mind, a robust economy was always his best ticket to winning a second term. Fears of a recession are now driving his push to accelerate the opening of businesses across the country by Easter, despite protests from health experts, many leading Republicans and nearly all Democrats about the wisdom of doing so.

“I don’t think it’s going to end up being such a rough patch, especially if we can open — the sooner the better,” Trump said Wednesday. “It’s going to open up like a rocket ship.”

That, of course, remains to be seen.

While presidential campaigns often do not end on the same issues in which they began — in 2008, for example, a campaign driven by opposition to the Iraq war ended on the economic crash — it’s almost certain the coronavirus outbreak will be a central issue in the 2020 race.

But for the next seven months, this race has little precedent in American history.

Although the country is enduring a moment of national challenge and sacrifice, Trump has done very little to inspire the unity that emerged in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, when Democrats and Republicans initially rallied together in common purpose.

“Nothing really quite equals what we’re dealing with here,” said Douglas Brinkley, a CNN presidential historian and professor at Rice University. “The public health crisis and health care in general are going to be a flagship issue of 2020.”

How prepared the Trump administration was for the coronavirus outbreak, he said, is almost certain to be a central issue in the campaign, along with its competence and readiness for other types of calamities.

One of the biggest unknown factors, he said, is whether traditional campaigning will resume by summer or fall or if the candidates will turn to alternatives. A century ago, a handful presidents relied on “front-porch campaigns,” where they declined to do big rallies and won by simply staying close to the White House.

In this modern-day contest, Brinkley said, perhaps it would become a virtual front-porch campaign.

“They will seem to be everywhere, but they may be on your television set or phone,” Brinkley said. “You may never see them in person or experience one of their rallies.”

For now, the campaign is not playing out in critical battleground states across the country, but rather with Trump at his post in the White House briefing room and Biden settling into his television studio in the basement of his home, about 120 miles away in Delaware.



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Music

‘I Forced The Wedding’: Teen Mom OG’s Mackenzie Is Hiding Nothing About Her Marriage


After she asked him if he had been unfaithful while on the road, Josh told Mackenzie on Teen Mom OG that he was “inappropriate with things” at a bar. His hurtful revelation — and apology — caused Mackenzie to confess that she did not see the two surviving this ordeal. Now, on this week’s episode, Mackenzie maintained this stance: Josh wasn’t living with Mackenzie and their children, Josh abruptly exited Gannon’s eighth birthday and Mack confessed to her sister Whitney that Josh was “not her person.”

“He is the man who makes me feel ugly,” Mackenzie stated to her sibling. “Now I have no love to give him because I don’t even love myself.”

She continued with the admission that she “forced this relationship for nine years” — and the reason why was because she was 16 and pregnant with Gannon.

“I forced this all,” she confessed. “I forced the wedding. Walking down the aisle, I did not feel like he loved me.”

When Whitney pressed her on why she felt this way, Mackenzie attributed it to a gut feeling.

“When you know, you know,” she added. “I just knew I was doing this for Gannon. I hate that I married him, and I want this divorce.”

She continued that she has been “the unhappiest during the most important years” of her life — and how she wished she could go back to being sixteen and think more clearly.

While Josh didn’t articulate his current feelings, it’s going to be a tough road forward for the McKees. Keep watching Gannon, Jaxie and Broncs’ parents every Tuesday on Teen Mom OG at 8/7c.



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