video on YouTube on Sunday titled “Lil Nas X Apologizes for Satan Shoe” — but what appears to be an apology cuts to the sexually charged scene with Satan from the music video.

The blood and other satanic elements are “definitely a unique marketing strategy,” said Barbara E. Kahn, a professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania.

On Twitter on Thursday, Lil Nas X wrote to “14-year-old Montero” that the song was “about a guy I met last summer.”

“I know we promised to never come out publicly,” he wrote. “I know we promised to die with this secret, but this will open doors for many other queer people to simply exist.”

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Inside Myanmar’s Army: ‘They See Protesters as Criminals’

Capt. Tun Myat Aung leaned over the hot pavement in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, and picked up bullet casings. Nausea crept into his throat. The shells, he knew, meant that rifles had been used, real bullets fired at real people.

That night, in early March, he logged on to Facebook to discover that several civilians had been killed in Yangon by soldiers of the Tatmadaw, as Myanmar’s military is known. They were men in uniform, just like him.

Days later, the captain, of the 77th Light Infantry Division, notorious for its massacres of civilians across Myanmar, slipped off base and deserted. He is now in hiding.

“I love the military so much,” he said. “But the message I want to give my fellow soldiers is: If you are choosing between the country and the Tatmadaw, please choose the country.”

ousting Myanmar’s civilian leadership last month, setting off nationwide protests, it has only sharpened its savage reputation, killing more than 420 people and assaulting, detaining or torturing thousands of others, according to a monitoring group.

On Saturday, the deadliest day since the Feb. 1 coup, security forces killed more than 100 people, according to the United Nations. Among them were seven children, including two 13-year-old boys and a 5-year-old boy.

In-depth interviews with four officers, two of whom have deserted since the coup, paint a complex picture of an institution that has thoroughly dominated Myanmar for six decades. From the moment they enter boot camp, Tatmadaw troops are taught that they are guardians of a country — and a religion — that will crumble without them.

They occupy a privileged state within a state, in which soldiers live, work and socialize apart from the rest of society, imbibing an ideology that puts them far above the civilian population. The officers described being constantly monitored by their superiors, in barracks and on Facebook. A steady diet of propaganda feeds them notions of enemies at every corner, even on city streets.

The cumulative effect is a bunkered worldview, in which orders to kill unarmed civilians are to be followed without question. While the soldiers say there is some dissatisfaction with the coup, they regard a wholesale breaking of ranks as unlikely. That makes more bloodshed likely in the coming days and months.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the civilian leader deposed and locked up in last month’s coup. Her father, Gen. Aung San, founded the Tatmadaw.

Today, the Tatmadaw’s foes are again domestic, not foreign: the millions of people who have poured onto the streets for anti-coup rallies or taken part in strikes.

On Saturday, which was Armed Forces Day, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the commander in chief and instigator of the coup, gave a speech vowing to “protect people from all danger.” As tanks and goose-stepping soldiers paraded down the broad avenues of Naypyidaw, the bunker-filled capital built by an earlier junta, security forces shot protesters and bystanders alike, with more than 40 towns seeing violence.

intensity of opposition to the putsch. Officers trained in psychological warfare regularly plant conspiracy theories about democracy in Facebook groups favored by soldiers, according to social media experts and one of the officers who spoke with The Times.

In this paranoid world, the thumping that Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy delivered to the military’s proxy party in last November’s elections was easily portrayed as electoral fraud.

A Muslim cabal, funded by oil-rich sheikhdoms, is accused of trying to destroy the Buddhist faith of Myanmar’s majority. Influential monks, who count army generals among those praying at their feet, preach that the Tatmadaw and Buddhist monkhood must unite to combat Islam.

In the Tatmadaw’s telling, a rapacious West could conquer Myanmar at any moment. Fear of invasion is thought to be one reason that military rulers moved the capital early in this century from Yangon, near the coast, to the landlocked plains of Naypyidaw.

subvert the country with piles of cash for activists and politicians. A military spokesman implied during a news conference that people protesting the coup, too, were foreign-funded.

Captain Tun Myat Aung said that in his first year at the Defense Services Academy, he was shown a film that portrayed democracy activists in 1988 as frenzied animals slicing off soldiers’ heads. In truth, thousands of protesters and others were killed by the Tatmadaw that year.

One of Captain Tun Myat Aung’s men was recently struck in the eye by a projectile from a protester’s slingshot, he said. But the captain acknowledged that the casualties were remarkably lopsided in the other direction.

Tatmadaw Facebook feeds may show soldiers besieged by violent protesters armed with homemade firebombs. But it is the security forces who have assaulted medics, killed children and forced bystanders to crawl in obeisance.

According to the soldiers who spoke with The Times, a suspension of mobile data access over the past two weeks was aimed as much at isolating troops who were beginning to question their orders as it was at cutting off the wider population.

most notoriously against Rohingya Muslims, but they have also targeted other ethnic groups, like the Karen, the Kachin and the Rakhine.

When the 77th Light Infantry Division was fighting in Shan State, in northeastern Myanmar, Captain Tun Myat Aung said he could feel the disgust of people from various ethnic groups. As a member of another ethnic minority, the Chin, he understood their fear of the Bamar majority.

Although he says he shot only to wound, not to kill, Captain Tun Myat Aung spent eight years on the front lines. He developed a rapport with just one group of ethnic minority villagers during that entire time, he said.

“People hate soldiers for what the soldiers did to them,” he said.

But the Tatmadaw also saved him. His mother died when he was 10. His father drank. He was sent to a boarding school for ethnic minority students, where he excelled. At the Defense Services Academy, he studied physics and English.

“The military became my family,” he said. “I was automatically happy when I saw my soldier’s uniform.”

On Feb. 1, in the pre-dawn torpor of Yangon, Captain Tun Myat Aung clambered onto a military truck, half asleep, strapping on his helmet. He didn’t know what was going on until a fellow soldier whispered about a coup.

“At that moment, I felt like I lost hope for Myanmar,” he said.

Days later, he saw his major holding a box of bullets — real ones, not rubber. He cried that night.

“I realized,” he said, “that most of the soldiers see the people as the enemy.”

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At Least 36 US States Prioritize Religious Leaders for Vaccines

At least 36 states have made some members of the clergy eligible for a vaccine before the rest of the population, according to a New York Times survey.

The vaccines come at a critical time: As religious leaders continue to work on the front lines of the pandemic in hospitals, mortuaries and long-term care facilities, many are now working with health officials to help combat vaccine hesitancy in their communities.

In Utah, mosques are sharing videos on social media of imams receiving the vaccine. In Michigan, a rabbi is weaving messages of support for vaccination into his sermons and conversations with his congregation. And at the Washington National Cathedral this month, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease specialist, and other health officials joined 25 faith leaders from across the D.C. region as they received their vaccines on camera.

“Religious figures are among the most trusted leaders, so seeing congregation leaders get vaccinated first can relieve anxiety and fears,” Melissa Rogers, the executive director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, said during the vaccination event in Washington.

significantly lower vaccination rates compared with their representation in the general population.

In Baltimore, the Rev. Terris King of Liberty Grace Church of God has set up virtual discussions for members of his predominantly Black congregation with representatives from health care companies, such as Pfizer. Governments need to work with churches, the reverend said, because religious leaders understand their communities’ needs and anxieties, with much of the mistrust stemming from historical and current mistreatment of people of color in the health care system.

“Many of them have seen what, as a researcher in minority health, I’ve always known, and that’s that the church is the trusted source in the African-American community around the country,” he said.

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Insurgents Seize Mozambique Town, Killing Several People; Fate of Hundreds Unknown

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Suspected Islamist insurgents seized control of much of a town in Mozambique on Saturday after a three-day siege that has left at least several people dead and hundreds of other civilians unaccounted for as government forces try to regain control, according to private security contractors in East Africa and news reports.

Nearly 200 people, including dozens of foreign workers, sought shelter inside a hotel in the town, Palma, after nearly 300 militants flooded into the area on Wednesday, destroying much of the town and sending hundreds of other residents fleeing into nearby areas.

On Friday afternoon, insurgents attacked a convoy of civilians as they attempted to flee the hotel, killing several people and injuring dozens of others.

in a brutal war unfolding in the country’s north involving insurgent groups believed to be linked to the Islamic State. The conflict has left at least 2,000 civilians dead and displaced 670,000 more in recent years, according to humanitarian groups.

Over the last year, the militant group has grown in strength and seized large swaths of territory across the northeastern province of Cabo Delgado, which is home to some of the world’s largest gas reserves.

The siege this week is the closest yet the insurgents have come to a multibillion-dollar gas project in the area, operated by international energy companies, including Total, and the attack reflects an alarming escalation of the insurgent threat.

become increasingly brutal since the insurgency began in 2017, when militants ambushed police stations in the area. In recent years, the insurgents have attacked villages, destroyed schools and hospitals, and beheaded hundreds of people. The group itself has also grown from a few dozen fighters to as many as 800 militants.

At the same time, government forces have been implicated in serious abuses, including arbitrarily detaining civilians and executing dozens of people suspected of belonging to the insurgency, according to Human Rights Watch.

Earlier this month, the United States formally designated the insurgency, known locally as Al-Sunna wa Jama’a, as a global terrorist entity. In 2019 the group became identified with the Islamic State’s Central Africa Province, which also has a presence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, though it is unclear how closely the militants are linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Earlier this month, U.S. Special Forces soldiers began training Mozambican troops in an effort to bolster the country’s counterinsurgency operations. On Saturday, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called for the United States to increase that support.

“Reports of the ongoing terrorist attacks in Palma, Mozambique describe a blood bath,” he said. “The U.S. and our partners must do more to combat this threat before ISIS controls more territory and slaughters more innocent civilians.”

He added: “We cannot let ISIS control territory like they did in the last decade.”

Eric Schmitt and John Ismay contributed reporting from Washington, D.C. Charles Mangwiro contributed reporting from Maputo, Mozambique.

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The go-to vaccine outfit? Dolly Parton set the style with a cold-shoulder top.

Look out, Zoom shirt. Here comes the vaccine top.

As millions of more Americans become eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, fashion-minded folks are giving extra consideration to what they will wear for their coveted appointments, and the emerging vaccine-ready top seems to be the cold-shoulder top, thanks to Dolly Parton.

On March 2, the 75-year-old country music star posted a four-minute video across her social media channels, getting her first shot of the Moderna vaccine at Vanderbilt Health in Tennessee.

“Dolly gets a dose of her own medicine,” she wrote on Instagram, a reference to the $1 million she donated last year for coronavirus vaccine research to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which worked with Moderna.

For the occasion, she wore a sparkly navy blue knit top with cold-shoulder cutouts that was custom designed by her creative director, Steve Summers. “I even have a little cutout in my shirt — I matched it over here,” she told the doctor who administered the shot, pointing to her other shoulder.

Donna Karan sent Linda Evangelista down a fall 1991 runway wearing a white one under a matching jacket. Women’s Wear Daily called it “silly,” but when Liza Minnelli wore a black version to the 1992 Oscars, followed by Candice Bergen to the Emmys (and then Hillary Clinton, in one of her early looks as the first lady), it struck a glamorously accessible chord. During the early 2000s, it was a staple of the so-called going-out-top trend, when night life held sway over fashion.

These days, the cold-shoulder has less to do with “going out” than the ease with which it allows wearers to be vaccinated. Lyst, the fashion search and shopping platform, has seen searches for cold-shoulder tops increase 21 percent since the start of March, according to a company spokeswoman.

When Wendy Brande, 53, a jewelry designer and activist in New York City, went to get vaccinated at the Javits Convention Center in New York City on March 5, she wore a black cold-shoulder sweater that she bought on eBay around 2005. “I just about fell over when I saw Dolly wearing one,” she said. “I knew I kept it for this moment.”

Apparently, she was not the only one. As she was receiving her Pfizer shot, the nurse told her: “Everyone’s wearing these tops.”

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Why the internet loves the Suez Canal stuck ship saga.

It’s a moment that has managed to wrap Bernie Sanders’s mittens, jokes about poor driving skills and timeless office humor into one.

Initially it was the sheer oddity of a ship being stuck in the Suez Canal, single-handedly snarling global trade in a world already mired in a pandemic, that grabbed the online world’s attention. But it was the photo of a tiny digger working away at its mammoth task that sealed the Ever Given’s fate as the foundation for thousands of relatable memes.

Was the digger — which was trying its hardest to dislodge the vessel despite a titanic size difference — the perfect metaphor for thinking we can make any dent in our to-do lists, finally manage to stop procrastinating or get our thousands of unread emails down to zero?

Bernie Sanders’s most unforgettable moments.

Is that ship still stuck?

As of Saturday, the answer was still “Yes.”

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India’s New Media Rules Could Silence Online News Outlets

NEW DELHI — Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, has cultivated and cowed large parts of the country’s normally raucous news media in recent years as part of a broader campaign against dissent.

One group remains untamed: A relatively new generation of scrappy, online-focused news outlets. With names like The Wire, The Print, The Scroll, and NewsLaundry, these publications lack big corporate owners that Mr. Modi’s party can court. They also don’t depend on government advertising money that officials can threaten to withhold.

Now, the platforms say, Mr. Modi is working to rein them in, too.

India’s media outlets had until Saturday to comply with new government rules that they say will force them to change or take down content if online trolls mount a concerted campaign of complaints against their coverage. It would also give the government sweeping new powers to quickly take down articles or other material.

The rules, they say, will force them to toe Mr. Modi’s line or close their doors as the prime minister pushes his most ambitious and controversial initiatives.

freedom of the press has eroded under Mr. Modi’s watch.

Still, while his efforts enjoy broad support in India, critics of his campaigns — from remaking the country’s money system overnight to changing citizenship laws to disadvantage Muslims — have found a home in the robust online space. Their potential audience is vast: India could have more than 800 million smartphone users by next year.

responded by threatening the critics and international platforms like Twitter.

In February, it also enacted online content rules that empower complainers. Online platforms must name a grievance officer who acknowledges complaints within one day and resolves them within 15. The complaint must be taken swiftly to a three-layer system, with a final stop at a government-appointed body that can order platforms to delete or change content.

The new rules also give the government emergency powers to take down content immediately if officials believe it threatens public order or the country’s security or sovereignty.

Netflix and Amazon. The full scope of the law is unclear; some people believe that it could apply to international news publishers like The New York Times.

The government has said it wants to protect average users from online abuse. Officials have cited the spread of deliberate disinformation, harassment of women, abusive language and disrespect of religious groups. Mr. Modi’s ministers have said the rules create a “soft-touch oversight mechanism” that would protect India and prevent “internet imperialism” by major social media platforms.

ownership structure behind many Indian media outlets makes them too dependent on advertising and investors, he argues, influencing their editorial decisions. With The Wire — owned by the Foundation for Independent Journalism, a trust — he wanted to explore a different arrangement.

The Wire operates from a crammed southern New Delhi office. Mr. Varadarajan sits in a corner. To save money after India’s stringent Covid-19 lockdown last year, The Wire vacated a floor.

“We have all been downgraded,” he told a columnist one recent afternoon who had looked for him at his old office upstairs. “Cutbacks.”

sudden increase in the fortunes of the son of one Mr. Modi’s most important lieutenants. They have also scrutinized business deals that may have favored companies seen as friendly to the prime minister.

At a recent meeting at The Wire newsroom, the conversation ranged from coverage plans for state elections, to how to shoot video quickly, to how to balance working at home and in the office as coronavirus cases tick up.

But much of the talk focused on the new regulations. Mr. Varadarajan told his staff that The Wire’s first court hearing had gone well but that the authorities were watching the digital platforms closely.

“Now that you know they will be waiting for opportunity to latch onto anything, look at it as extra responsibility,” Mr. Varadarajan said. “We have to be 150 percent careful to not leave any wiggle room to troublemakers, to not make their life any easier.”

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A Collapse Foretold: How Brazil’s Covid-19 Outbreak Overwhelmed Hospitals

The virus has killed more than 300,000 people in Brazil, its spread aided by a highly contagious variant, political infighting and distrust of science.


PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil — The patients began arriving at hospitals in Porto Alegre far sicker and younger than before. Funeral homes were experiencing a steady uptick in business, while exhausted doctors and nurses pleaded in February for a lockdown to save lives.

But Sebastião Melo, Porto Alegre’s mayor, argued there was a greater imperative.

“Put your life on the line so that we can save the economy,” Mr. Melo appealed to his constituents in late February.

Now Porto Alegre, a prosperous city in southern Brazil, is at the heart of an stunning breakdown of the country’s health care system — a crisis foretold.

More than a year into the pandemic, deaths in Brazil are at their peak and highly contagious variants of the coronavirus are sweeping the nation, enabled by political dysfunction, widespread complacency and conspiracy theories. The country, whose leader, President Jair Bolsonaro, has played down the threat of the virus, is now reporting more new cases and deaths per day than any other country in the world.

125 Brazilians succumbing to the disease every hour. Health officials in public and private hospitals were scrambling to expand critical care units, stock up on dwindling supplies of oxygen and procure scarce intubation sedatives that are being sold at an exponential markup.

Intensive care units in Brasília, the capital, and 16 of Brazil’s 26 states report dire shortages of available beds, with capacity below 10 percent, and many are experiencing rising contagion (when 90 percent of such beds are full the situation is considered dire.)

a model for other developing nations, with a reputation for advancing agile and creative solutions to medical crises, including a surge in H.I.V. infections and the outbreak of Zika.

Mr. Melo, who campaigned last year on a promise to lift all pandemic restrictions in the city, said a lockdown would cause people to starve.

celebrated setbacks in clinical trials for CoronaVac, the Chinese-made vaccine that Brazil came to largely rely on, and joked that pharmaceutical companies would not be held responsible if people who got newly developed vaccines turned into alligators.

“The government initially dismissed the threat of the pandemic, then the need for preventive measures, and then goes against science by promoting miracle cures,” said Natália Pasternak, a microbiologist in São Paulo. “That confuses the population, which means people felt safe going out in the street.”

Terezinha Backes, a 63-year-old retired shoemaker living in a municipality on the outskirts of Porto Alegre, had been exceedingly careful over the past year, venturing out only when necessary, said her nephew, Henrique Machado.

But her 44-year-old son, a security guard tasked with taking the temperature of people entering a medical facility, appears to have brought the virus home early this month.

Ms. Backes, who had been in good health, was taken to a hospital on March 13 after she began having trouble breathing. With no beds to spare, she was treated with oxygen and an IV in the hallway of an overflowing wing. She died three days later.

“My aunt was not given the right to fight for her life,” said Mr. Machado, 29, a pharmacist. “She was left in a hallway.”

anti-parasite drug ivermectin as a preventive measure. The drug is part of the so-called Covid kit of drugs, which also includes the antibiotic azithromycin and the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine. Mr. Bolsonaro’s health ministry has endorsed their use.

Leading medical experts in Brazil, the United States and Europe have said those drugs are not effective to treat Covid-19 and some can have serious side effects, including kidney failure.

“Lies,” Mr. Monteiro, 63, said about the scientific consensus on the Covid kit. “There are so many lies and myths.”

He said medical professionals have sabotaged Mr. Bolsonaro’s plan to rein in the pandemic by refusing to prescribe those drugs more decisively at the early stages of illness.

“There was one solution: to listen to the president,” he said. “When people elect a leader it is because they trust him.”

The mistrust and the denials — and the caravans of Bolsonaro supporters blasting their horns outside hospitals to protest pandemic restrictions — are crushing for medical professionals who have lost colleagues to the virus and to suicide in recent months, said Claudia Franco, the president of the nurses union in Rio Grande do Sul.

“People are in such denial,” said Ms. Franco, who has been taking care of Covid-19 patients. “The reality we’re in today is we don’t have enough respirators for everyone, we don’t have oxygen for everyone.”

Ernesto Londoño reported from Porto Alegre. Letícia Casado reported from Brasília.

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Broadcasting ‘the Shock, the Horror, the Outrage’ Live, Again and Again

Last week, the CNN anchor Brianna Keilar found herself, for the second time in under a week, guiding viewers through the grim ritual of trying, and failing, to make sense of another mass shooting.

This time, it was 10 people dead at a grocery store in Boulder, Colo. Only a few days before, she had interviewed a survivor of the rampage at Atlanta-area massage parlors. In 2019, Ms. Keilar reported on the back-to-back shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. In 2018, she spoke with relatives of students killed in the shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Broadcast journalists like Ms. Keilar, 40, have now spent the bulk of their reporting careers chronicling an unending, uniquely American horror show: the random gun massacre. She was CNN’s first journalist to arrive on the Virginia Tech campus in 2007. And she was a college freshman in 1999, watching the network’s coverage of a catastrophe at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

All this was running through Ms. Keilar’s mind on Tuesday when, on-air, she paused after a correspondent’s report about Rikki Olds, the 25-year-old Boulder supermarket manager who was murdered. “I just wonder, can you count how many times you’ve covered a story like this?” she asked, her voice catching. “Have you lost count?”

many New York Times reporters, turn to as they travel to yet another afflicted town. Talk to those who knew the victims and the gunman; attend vigils and funerals; gather information from the police and the courts. Balance necessary reporting on the attack with the potential that too much attention could be seen as glorifying the attacker.

“I call it the checklist: the shock, the horror, the outrage,” Lester Holt, the anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” said in an interview. “It’s all so familiar, and everybody knows the role to play and the questions to answer and how these things play out. Because sadly, they are very predictable.”

Mr. Holt, who has reported on shootings in El Paso; Las Vegas; Newtown, Conn.; Orlando; Santa Fe, Texas; San Bernardino, Calif.; and Sutherland Springs, Texas — a lengthy but by no means exhaustive list — said he was considering this month’s violence in Colorado and Georgia in light of the country’s slow return to normal from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Shootings,” he said, “are part of what normalcy looks like in this country, sadly.”

Journalists who reported on Columbine may not have considered how routine the event they were covering would become. For his book on the shooting, “Columbine,” Dave Cullen analyzed media coverage and found that in the immediate aftermath of the Littleton attack, network news shows broadcast more than 40 segments, CNN and Fox News notched historically high ratings, and The Times mentioned Columbine on its front pages for nearly two straight weeks.

Mr. Cullen, in an interview, said he believed that reporters had absorbed useful lessons since that first episode. “In 1999, everything we heard, we took as gospel; conjecture turned to fact very quickly,” he said.

After Columbine, news organizations were quick to formalize what Mr. Cullen called “myths” about the shooting: that the killers were bullied Goth kids taking revenge on popular jocks. Much of that narrative came from faulty sourcing, and Mr. Cullen said he saw journalists now being more cautious about reaching premature conclusions about an assailant’s motivations. “We take things with a grain of salt,” he said. “There was no salt in 1999.”

Reporters have learned to spend more time focusing on victims, rather than perpetrators. It was a shift that played out vocally on social media, as readers on Twitter implored news organizations to focus more on the people who were killed in the Atlanta shootings, as well as the uptick in crimes against Asian-Americans, rather than the gunman’s supposed motive.

Mr. Cullen recalled a journalism conference in 2005 where he raised the notion that reporters should refrain from focusing too much on the gunman. “I practically got shouted off the stage,” he said. “Now, when I mention the names of a shooter from an older case on television, I will get angry tweets from people. The public expectation has changed.”

Journalists are usually expected to set their feelings aside as they gather disinterested facts about a tragic event. But it’s not always possible, and Mr. Holt said that it was important to “report these things as unusual, as not normal.”

“I think it’s OK to be a little pissed off,” Mr. Holt, of “NBC Nightly News,” said. “As a journalist, it’s not an editorial position to be upset or angry at mass murder, of people going about their day, shopping, getting cut down by a stranger. It’s OK to be upset about that.”

Gayle King, the “CBS This Morning” anchor, described an experience of feeling “like you’re kicked in the gut once again.”

“We almost know how this story is going to go,” she said, invoking a phrase she attributed to Steve Hartman, a CBS colleague: “We’re going to mourn, we’re going to pray, we’re going to repeat.”

“My worry is that we are getting desensitized,” she added. “I don’t want us to get desensitized to it.”

And some reporters have to endure it, and report on it, repeatedly in their own communities.

Chris Vanderveen, 47, was there as a young reporter in the aftermath of the Columbine shooting. He was there to report on the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting. And he had to lead a team of reporters during the Boulder shooting on Monday.

“When I was in journalism school I thought I’d be covering other things,” Mr. Vanderveen, the director of reporting at KUSA, Denver’s NBC affiliate, said in an interview.

He recalled painful lessons that he and his colleagues took from the Columbine shooting. Several reporters who covered that event developed close ties with people in the community, including parents of the victims. He said that helped them ask an important question: “What can we learn as journalists about not adding to the grief?”

After Aurora, KUSA invited family members of victims to the station. They were not there for an interview. “No story, no nothing,” he said. “Just to help us with our coverage.”

Mr. Vanderveen said that through those conversations, the station decided not to show the same mug shot of the gunman over and over again. And he said he continued to consider the role the news media played in potentially inspiring future killers. “I worry that there are people out there that for a variety of reasons may want recognition, and then they see this heavy emphasis on an individual who keeps getting his picture shown,” he said.

On Monday, Mr. Vanderveen was in a meeting about an investigative story when word came from a producer: There had been gunshots at a grocery store in Boulder. Grim experience quickly kicked in.

“Every journalist goes through tough stories,” he said. “We are not alone with it. It’s just unfortunate that we’ve had in Colorado, a number of these, that have given us, for lack of a better term, training in how to try to deal with these things. But it’s still going to be awful.”

His team of reporters may be among the few people in the news media covering the aftermath of the massacre, which he knows from experience will be a difficult assignment. After Columbine, national reporters stayed in the area for months. After Aurora, they stayed for a few weeks, he said. He suspects it will only be a matter of days before national news outlets leave Boulder.

“Maybe the country is tired of them,” he said. “I’m tired of them. If I never got to cover one of these damn things again, I’ll be fine.”

“But nothing changes,” he added. “That’s what drives me nuts. Nothing changes.”

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Google Aims to Be the Anti-Amazon of E-Commerce. It Has a Long Way to Go.

OAKLAND, Calif. — Google tried to copy Amazon’s playbook to become the shopping hub of the internet, with little success. Now it is trying something different: the anti-Amazon strategy.

Google is trying to present itself as a cheaper and less restrictive option for independent sellers. And it is focused on driving traffic to sellers’ sites, not selling its own version of products, as Amazon does.

In the last year, Google eliminated fees for merchants and allowed sellers to list their wares in its search results for free. It is also trying to make it easier for small, independent shops to upload their inventory of products to appear in search results and buy ads on Google by teaming up with Shopify, which powers online stores for 1.7 million merchants who sell directly to consumers.

But like Google’s many attempts during its two-decade quest to compete with Amazon, this one shows little sign of working. Google has nothing as alluring as the $295 billion that passed through Amazon’s third-party marketplace in 2020. The amount of goods people buy on Google is “very small” by comparison — probably around $1 billion, said Juozas Kaziukenas, the founder of Marketplace Pulse, a research company.

grew 30 percent to $17.6 billion in 2020, trailing only Google and Facebook in the United States.

But as the pandemic has forced many stores to go online, it has created a new opening for Google to woo sellers who feel uneasy about building their businesses on Amazon.

Christina Stang, 33, opened Fritzy’s Roller Skate Shop near Pacific Beach in San Diego last March. Shelter-in-place orders forced her to set up an online storefront on Shopify.

She got lucky. She was sitting on a huge supply of skates when demand surged as skating videos became popular on TikTok during the pandemic.

the pressure to spend more to succeed. Merchants on Amazon do not have a direct relationship with their customers, limiting their ability to communicate with them and to generate future business. And because everything is contained within the Amazon world, it is harder to create a unique look and feel that express a brand’s identity the way companies can on their own websites.

piloting its own same-day delivery service, but it shuttered the project as costs ballooned. It tried to forge partnerships with traditional retail giants, only to see the alliances wilt from a lack of sales. It built its own marketplace to make it easier for shoppers to buy the things they find on Google, but was not able to break consumers from their Amazon habit.

Last year, Google brought in Bill Ready, a former chief operating officer at PayPal, to fill a new senior position and spearhead an overhaul of its shopping strategy.

Around the time of his hiring, Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, warned senior executives that the new approach could mean a short-term crimp in advertising revenue, according to two people familiar with the conversations, who requested anonymity because they were not allowed to discuss them publicly. He asked teams to support the e-commerce push because it was a company priority.

When the pandemic spurred huge demand for online shopping, Google eliminated fees, allowing retailers to list products for free and walking back a 2012 decision to allow only advertisers to display goods on its shopping site.

Three months after hiring Mr. Ready, Google said the free listings would show up on its main search results. Then Google said customers could buy products directly from merchants on Google with no commissions. It also said Google would open its platform to third parties like Shopify and PayPal so that sellers could continue to use their existing tools to manage inventory and orders and processing payments.

flocked to the software platform during the pandemic. About 9 percent of U.S. online shopping sales took place on storefronts powered by Shopify as of October, according to research firm eMarketer. That was up from 6 percent the prior year and second only to Amazon’s share of 37 percent.

Harley Finkelstein, Shopify’s president, said Google and Shopify were developing new ways for merchants to sell through Google services, such as experiments to allow customers to buy items directly on YouTube and to display what products stores are carrying in Google Maps.

Mr. Ready walked a fine line when it came to Amazon, which is a big buyer of ads on Google, but he made it clear he believed Amazon’s dominance in e-commerce posed a threat to other merchants.

“Nobody wants to live in a world where there is only one place to buy something, and retailers don’t want to be dependent on gatekeepers,” he said in an interview.

Google said it had increased the number of sellers appearing in its results by 80 percent in 2020, with the most significant growth coming from small and midsize businesses. And existing retailers are listing more products.

Overstock.com, a seller of discount furniture and home bedding, said it had paid to list products on Google in the past. But now that listings are free, Overstock is adding low-margin products, too.

“When all shopping starts and stops at Amazon, that’s bad for the industry,” said Jonathan E. Johnson, Overstock’s chief executive. “It’s nice to have another 800-pound tech gorilla in this space.”

BACtrack, a maker of breathalyzers, has more than doubled its advertising spending on Amazon in the last two years because that is where the customers are, it said, while it has spent 6 percent less advertising its products on Google.

“It seems like more and more people are skipping Google and going straight to Amazon,” said Keith Nothacker, the chief executive of BACtrack.

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