Amazon Cuts Whole Foods Prices as Much as 43% on First Day

Amazon.com Inc. spent its first day as the owner of a brick-and-mortar grocery chain cutting prices at Whole Foods Market as much as 43 percent.

In a sign of how the retailer is changing, the Amazon Echo, a voice-activated electronic assistant, was also for sale, for $99.99 – a sharp pivot into electronics for a company known for kale and quinoa. The Echo Dot, a smaller version, was advertised for $44.99.

The tech giant’s $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods has sent shock waves through the already changing $800 billion supermarket industry. The wedding between Amazon and the upscale grocery promises to upend the way customers shop for groceries. Cutting prices at the chain with such an entrenched reputation for high cost that its nickname is Whole Paycheck is a sign that Amazon is serious about taking on competitors such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Kroger Co. and Costco Wholesale Corp.

How Amazon’s Price Cuts May Not Solve Whole Foods’ Problems: Gadfly

At the store on East 57th Street in Manhattan, organic fuji apples were marked down to $1.99 a pound from $3.49 a pound; organic avocados went to $1.99 each from $2.79; organic rotisserie chicken fell to $9.99 each from $13.99, and the price of some bananas was slashed to 49 cents per pound from 79 cents. The marked-down items had orange signs reading “Whole Foods + Amazon.” The signs listed the old price, the new price and “More to come.”

Discounts were comparable at other Whole Foods stores in San Francisco and Seattle. Amazon declined to comment.

For more on Amazon, check out the podcast:

In the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, Catherine Oshiro, a 33-year-old product designer, said lower prices may make her change her shopping routine.

“I usually buy my staples like toilet paper and paper towels at Target and Safeway,” Oshiro said. “If I see the lower prices at Whole Foods, I would start buying those basics here.”

Katie Bennett, 24, was one of many customers who said she hoped Amazon would offer delivery of Whole Foods items. She picked out a rotisserie-cooked half chicken for lunch at the New York store.

“Last time I came in, I was thinking about getting the rotisserie chicken, but it was too expensive,” she said.

Organic Foods’ Premium Prices and Uncertain Benefits: QuickTake

Rivals Adjust

Some rivals have already reacted to the kickoff of what could become a new era of selling food in the U.S. 

Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer, has already invested billions into lowering prices across the board over the past year or so, and has revamped the produce section at its U.S stores, improving sight lines, adding more fresh-cut fruits and even creating a sweeter bespoke cantaloupe. That, along with an aggressive rollout of curbside grocery order pickup, helped the company record its best food sales growth in five years in its most recent quarter.

Costco, meanwhile, has a full slate of organic items that are priced about 30 percent cheaper than the same products at Whole Foods, according to Sanford Bernstein. It’s able to price lower thanks to a business model that charges membership fees, focuses on selling a limited assortment of bulk-sized goods and features a treasure-hunt experience in the stores.

Maarten van Tartwijk, a spokesman for Ahold Delhaize, the Dutch retailer that owns the Stop & Shop chain in the U.S., said the company has invested heavily in its online operation. And Germany-based retailers Aldi Stores Ltd. and Lidl, touting lower prices, continue to expand in the U.S.

Investors React

“We have the human connection, assets, scale and expertise to win with customers and we are leveraging our deep expertise in data to provide value and build loyalty — so we can continue to serve customers anything, anytime and anywhere,” Kroger spokeswoman Kristal Howard said by email Friday.

After falling 37 percent this year on disappointing sales and investor concern over the Amazon-Whole Foods union, Kroger stayed essentially unchanged on Monday in New York.

Sprouts Farmers Market Inc., an upscale grocer that competes with Whole Foods and is cited by analysts as a possible consolidation target, decreased about 10 percent. Shares of Wal-Mart fell 0.8 percent and Target Corp. was down about 1 percent. Costco increased less than 1 percent. Amazon shares rose 0.08 percent.

“Goodbye, Whole Foods as we know it,” Karen Short, an analyst at Barclays Capital Inc. in New York, said in a note. “The conventional supermarket has not evolved much in decades. But Amazon will likely drive drastically different shopping behavior in grocery. The survival of the fittest has begun.”

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-28/amazon-cuts-prices-at-whole-foods-as-much-as-50-on-first-day

    10 Cats That Need You To Put The Book Down And Love Them

    • 1

      “Lovz Me!”

      Via: Imgur


    • 2

      “Whyz needz to read when you haz gotz meh?”

      Via: Imgur


    • 3

      “Mine”

      Via: Imgur


    • 4

      “Love meh, hooman! I iz right here!”

      Via: Imgur


    • 5

      “Don’t Turn That Page”

      Via: Imgur


    • 6

      “No More. You will not need this once we rule”

      Via: Imgur


    • 7

      “Yes, I’m the new bookmark, and I iz telling youz to stopz!”

      Via: Imgur


    • 8

      “Pwease don’t study no morez”

      Via: Imgur


    • 9

      “Excuse meh, Hooman, Youz forget meh!”

      Via: Imgur


    • 10

      “This Hooman, is would Iz Rulz”

      Via: Imgur

    Read more: http://cheezburger.com/3142661/10-cats-that-need-you-to-put-the-book-down-and-love-them

    Sadie Robertson Says This “Huge Lie” Destroyed Relationship With Ex, Reveals Who Her Husband Will Be

    There are few women in pop culture whom I see fit to be role models for the younger generation of girls we’re raising up today.

    One of the few who absolutely fits the bill is Sadie Robertson.

    Facebook

    Since making her first appearances as a teenager on her family’s A&E hit series Duck Dynasty, Sadie has grown into a beautiful, respectable young woman who knows a thing or two about connecting with others.

    As part of her Live Original motivational speaking tour (because that’s what every girl does at 20 years old), Sadie recently launched a new personal blog which she plans to use as a platform for “heart-to-hearts” and honest conversations with those following her journey.

    The very first blog, titled “A Passionate Pursuit,” was posted on July 31, and y’all, she got really REAL, really fast.

    The Dancing With the Stars runner-up has always been open about her relationships, heartbreak and ultimate pursuit of Jesus. But this post put things into a whole new perspective, once again crowning her as role model of the century.

    Facebook

    Talking about her failed relationship with former boyfriend Blake Coward, Sadie writes about how they were so “passionate,” and how that’s ultimately what destroyed them.

    “We were so…’passionate’—and to me, it seemed like that couldn’t possibly be a negative thing, because I heard the word passion at church all the time. That was a huge LIE and created so much confusion for me. I thought our connection was so deep because we created this false love for ourselves that said it was okay to constantly fight like cats and dogs, scream hateful words and cry till our eyes were swollen. All we’d have to do afterwards is share a kiss, make up and then boom—our relationship would be stronger than ever. That was wonderful and all…until the next throw down came which was inevitably not too far around the corner.”

    Sadie believes this pattern derives from our modern-day culture, which influences young women to be “passionate,” and convinces them that not only is this cycle of fighting and making up considered normal, but I’d go as far as to say that culture paints it to be desired.

    “We would go through this unhealthy pattern of “I hate you, I love you. I hate that I love you.” The world makes that seem like such a normal, attractive concept through movies and music, but let me tell you, it definitely is not. We figured out the hard way that all it leaves you with is a lot of hurt, loneliness and confusion.

    You can go with the media’s version of passion, but I’m speaking from experience here when I say that even if it survives and the relationship lasts, you will be living for temporary moments of happiness and gratification instead of true joy.”

    It goes without saying, but Sadie boasts inspiring wisdom that is far beyond her years. It’s real talk and Truth like this that our girls desperately need to be soaking up and holding on to.

    She explains how it’s true that relationships aren’t always sunshine and roses, but there’s a difference between working through bad times in a manner that is proactive, and living in “temporary survival mode” as you hold onto something destructive.

    Facebook

    Sadie reveals that it was after yet another “intense fight” with her boyfriend that she did what she should have done long before: She turned to God’s word.

    “I clicked on my Bible app and I re-read 1st Corinthians chapter 13,” she writes.

    The verse is one of the most quoted passages of all time:

    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

    “This is when I decide[d] to seek truth and invited these words to tear down walls of lies that had been built up for so long. I remember comparing the conversation I just had with my boyfriend to the words I was reading in the bible, and let me tell you…it was the furthest things from the words we ended with…I love you.”

    It was this pivotal moment when Sadie’s understanding of the word “passion” took on a whole new meaning. It led her to end her toxic relationship, and hold captive the truth that passion does not have to be watered down and tainted like the world portrays it.

    “Ever since then, I have noticed that the word passion has a new meaning in my life. It is a passion that is pure, and it is the very thing that fuels me to press past the feelings that rise up and make me fear the future.”

    She says it’s this shift in perspective that prompted healing, gratitude, trust and peace amidst something that had once been an intense rollercoaster.

    “I no longer live in survival mode or pursue temporary feelings of happiness. I strive to live life the way it was meant to be lived—to the fullest. My story does not end in heart break or death. I have an abundant life full of joy, hope, freedom, and a word I have come to fall in love with…PEACE—which was waiting for me on the other side of trust.”

    Sadie says that like many girls her age, she used to make lists of the qualities she’d look for in a potential husband. But no more.

    Facebook

    “Now I just write prayers that circle around the list the Lord help[s] me write. My husband will be a man who has practiced and respected patience. He is charmingly and truthfully kind. He is not jealous, because He trusts in the Lord enough to trust in me. He is not boastful or proud because our love speaks in actions. He surely is not rude. Our love most definitely does not demand its own way for we know and long for the Lord to lead our path. He is not irritable when times are stressful. Together we will keep no records of wrong. He dances with me and rejoices when truth wins. His joy carries us through the valleys. In the hard times, he will love even harder. He will help silence my fears, but he will not accept them. He believes in truth over convenience or being comfortable. He feels my cry, is encouraged by my laugh, and joins me in song no matter how off key to worship our father God. He will never give up, because his eyes are on God and not me. He will never lose faith. Even if the whole world is against me, he will be for me because he loves the Jesus in me. He knows a river brings joy into the city of God even when the nations are in chaos. He sits still with me and knows that God is God. He will be able to endure all circumstances, because I will be right there with him holding his hand—striving to do the exact same thing. He will lead me where the Lord is leading him. We will meet at the Lord’s feet.”

    She closes by saying that this is the kind of love she’s passionate about. One that radiates Godly passion that is pure, peaceful and greater than any “passionate” thing society could paint up for our misguidance.

    “Be expectant and do not lose the passion the Lord creates in you.”

    May her words and truth lead you closer to that passion today.

    Read more: http://faithit.com/sadie-robertson-dating-advice-lie-passion/

    20 Diversion Tactics Highly Manipulative Narcissists, Sociopaths And Psychopaths Use To Silence You

    Danielle Drislane

    Toxic people such as malignant narcissists, psychopaths and those with antisocial traits engage in maladaptive behaviors in relationships that ultimately exploit, demean and hurt their intimate partners, family members and friends. They use a plethora of diversionary tactics that distort the reality of their victims and deflect responsibility. Although those who are not narcissistic can employ these tactics as well, abusive narcissists use these to an excessive extent in an effort to escape accountability for their actions.

    Here are the 20 diversionary tactics toxic people use to silence and degrade you.

    1. Gaslighting.

    Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic that can be described in different variations of three words: That didnt happen, You imagined it, and Are you crazy? Gaslighting is perhaps one of the most insidious manipulative tactics out there because it works to distort and erode your sense of reality; it eats away at your ability to trust yourself and inevitably disables you from feeling justified in calling out abuse and mistreatment.

    When a narcissist, sociopath or psychopath gaslights you, you may be prone to gaslighting yourself as a way to reconcile the cognitive dissonance that might arise. Two conflicting beliefs battle it out: is this person right or can I trust what I experienced? A manipulative person will convince you that the former is an inevitable truth while the latter is a sign of dysfunction on your end.

    In order to resist gaslighting, its important to ground yourself in your own reality sometimes writing things down as they happened, telling a friend or reiterating your experience to a support network can help to counteract the gaslighting effect. The power of having a validating community is that it can redirect you from the distorted reality of a malignant person and back to your own inner guidance.

    2. Projection.

    One sure sign of toxicity is when a person is chronically unwilling to see his or her own shortcomings and uses everything in their power to avoid being held accountable for them. This is known as projection. Projection is a defense mechanism used to displace responsibility of ones negative behavior and traits by attributing them to someone else. It ultimately acts as a digression that avoids ownership and accountability.

    While we all engage in projection to some extent, according to Narcissistic Personality clinical expert Dr. Martinez-Lewi, the projections of a narcissist are often psychologically abusive. Rather than acknowledge their own flaws, imperfections and wrongdoings, malignant narcissists and sociopaths opt to dump their own traits on their unsuspecting suspects in a way that is painful and excessively cruel. Instead of admitting that self-improvement may be in order, they would prefer that their victims take responsibility for their behavior and feel ashamed of themselves. This is a way for a narcissist to project any toxic shame they have about themselves onto another.

    For example, a person who engages in pathological lying may accuse their partner of fibbing; a needy spouse may call their husband clingy in an attempt to depict them as the one who is dependent; a rude employee may call their boss ineffective in an effort to escape the truth about their own productivity.

    Narcissistic abusers love to play the blameshifting game. Objectives of the game: they win, you lose, and you or the world at large is blamed for everything thats wrong with . This way, you get to babysit their fragile ego while youre thrust into a sea of self-doubt. Fun, right?

    Solution? Dont project your own sense of compassion or empathy onto a toxic person and dont own any of the toxic persons projections either. As manipulation expert and author Dr. George Simon (2010) notes in his book , projecting our own conscience and value system onto others has the potential consequence of being met with further exploitation.

    Narcissists on the extreme end of the spectrum usually have no interest in self-insight or change. Its important to cut ties and end interactions with toxic people as soon as possible so you can get centered in your own reality and validate your own identity. You dont have to live in someone elses cesspool of dysfunction.

    3. Nonsensical conversations from hell.

    If you think youre going to have a thoughtful discussion with someone who is toxic, be prepared for epic mindfuckery rather than conversational mindfulness.

    Malignant narcissists and sociopaths use word salad, circular conversations, ad hominem arguments, projection and gaslighting to disorient you and get you off track should you ever disagree with them or challenge them in any way. They do this in order to discredit, confuse and frustrate you, distract you from the main problem and make you feel guilty for being a human being with actual thoughts and feelings that might differ from their own. In their eyes, are the problem if you happen to exist.

    Spend even ten minutes arguing with a toxic narcissist and youll find yourself wondering how the argument even began at all. You simply disagreed with them about their absurd claim that the sky is red and now your entire childhood, family, friends, career and lifestyle choices have come under attack. That is because your disagreement picked at their false belief that they are omnipotent and omniscient, resulting in a narcissistic injury.

    Remember: toxic people dont argue with you, they essentially argue with themselves and you become privy to their long, draining monologues. They thrive off the drama and they live for it. Each and every time you attempt to provide a point that counters their ridiculous assertions, you feed them supply. Dont feed the narcissists supply rather, supply yourself with the confirmation that their abusive behavior is the problem, not you. Cut the interaction short as soon as you anticipate it escalating and use your energy on some decadent self-care instead.

    4. Blanket statements and generalizations.

    Malignant narcissists arent always intellectual masterminds many of them are intellectually lazy. Rather than taking the time to carefully consider a different perspective, they generalize anything and everything you say, making blanket statements that dont acknowledge the nuances in your argument or take into account the multiple perspectives youve paid homage to. Better yet, why not put a label on you that dismisses your perspective altogether?

    On a larger scale, generalizations and blanket statements invalidate experiences that dont fit in the unsupported assumptions, schemas and stereotypes of society; they are also used to maintain the status quo. This form of digression exaggerates one perspective to the point where a social justice issue can become completely obscured. For example, rape accusations against well-liked figures are often met with the reminder that there are false reports of rape that occur. While those do occur, they are rare, and in this case, the actions of one become labeled the behavior of the majority while the specific report itself remains unaddressed.

    These everyday microaggressions also happen in toxic relationships. If you bring up to a narcissistic abuser that their behavior is unacceptable for example, they will often make blanket generalizations about your hypersensitivity or make a generalization such as, You are satisfied, or Youre too sensitive rather than addressing the real issues at hand. Its possible that you are oversensitive at times, but it is also possible that the abuser is also insensitive and cruel the majority of the time.

    Hold onto your truth and resist generalizing statements by realizing that they are in fact forms of black and white illogical thinking. Toxic people wielding blanket statements do not represent the full richness of experience they represent the limited one of their singular experience and overinflated sense of self.

    5. Deliberately misrepresenting your thoughts and feelings to the point of absurdity.

    In the hands of a malignant narcissist or sociopath, your differing opinions, legitimate emotions and lived experiences get translated into character flaws and evidence of your irrationality.

    Narcissists weave tall tales to reframe what youre actually saying as a way to make your opinions look absurd or heinous. Lets say you bring up the fact that youre unhappy with the way a toxic friend is speaking to you. In response, he or she may put words in your mouth, saying, Oh, so now perfect? or So I am a bad person, huh? when youve done nothing but express your feelings. This enables them to invalidate your right to have thoughts and emotions about their inappropriate behavior and instills in you a sense of guilt when you attempt to establish boundaries.

    This is also a popular form of diversion and cognitive distortion that is known as mind reading. Toxic people often presume they know what youre thinking and feeling. They chronically jump to conclusions based on their own triggers rather than stepping back to evaluate the situation mindfully. They act accordingly based on their own delusions and fallacies and make no apologies for the harm they cause as a result. Notorious for putting words in your mouth, they depict you as having an intention or outlandish viewpoint you didnt possess. They accuse you of thinking of them as toxic even before youve gotten the chance to call them out on their behavior and this also serves as a form of preemptive defense.

    Simply stating, I never said that, and walking away should the person continue to accuse you of doing or saying something you didnt can help to set a firm boundary in this type of interaction. So long as the toxic person can blameshift and digress from their own behavior, they have succeeded in convincing you that you should be shamed for giving them any sort of realistic feedback.

    6. Nitpicking and moving the goal posts.

    The difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism is the presence of a personal attack and impossible standards. These so-called “critics” often don’t want to help you improve, they just want to nitpick, pull you down and scapegoat you in any way they can. Abusive narcissists and sociopaths employ a logical fallacy known as moving the goalposts in order to ensure that they have every reason to be perpetually dissatisfied with you. This is when, even after youve provided all the evidence in the world to validate your argument or taken an action to meet their request, they set up another expectation of you or demand more proof.

    Do you have a successful career? The narcissist will then start to pick on why you arent a multi-millionaire yet. Did you already fulfill their need to be excessively catered to? Now its time to prove that you can also remain independent. The goal posts will perpetually change and may not even be related to each other; they dont have any other point besides making you vie for the narcissists approval and validation.

    By raising the expectations higher and higher each time or switching them completely, highly manipulative and toxic people are able to instill in you a pervasive sense of unworthiness and of never feeling quite enough. By pointing out one irrelevant fact or one thing you did wrong and developing a hyperfocus on it, narcissists get to divert from your strengths and pull you into obsessing over any flaws or weaknesses instead. They get you thinking about the next expectation of theirs youre going to have to meet until eventually youve bent over backwards trying to fulfill their every need only to realize it didnt change the horrific way they treated you.

    Dont get sucked into nitpicking and changing goal posts if someone chooses to rehash an irrelevant point over and over again to the point where they arent acknowledging the work youve done to validate your point or satisfy them, their motive isnt to better understand. Its to further provoke you into feeling as if you have to constantly prove yourself. Validate and approve of yourself. Know that you are enough and you dont have to be made to feel constantly deficient or unworthy in some way.

    7. Changing the subject to evade accountability.

    This type of tactic is what I like to call the What about me? syndrome. It is a literal digression from the actual topic that works to redirect attention to a different issue altogether. Narcissists dont want you to be on the topic of holding them accountable for anything, so they will reroute discussions to benefit them. Complaining about their neglectful parenting? Theyll point out a mistake you committed seven years ago. This type of diversion has no limits in terms of time or subject content, and often begins with a sentence like What about the time when

    On a macrolevel, these diversions work to derail discussions that challenge the status quo. A discussion about gay rights, for example, may be derailed quickly by someone who brings in another social justice issue just to distract people from the main argument.

    As Tara Moss, author of , notes, specificity is needed in order to resolve and address issues appropriately that doesnt mean that the issues that are being brought up dont matter, it just means that the specific time and place may not be the best context to discuss them.

    Dont be derailed if someone pulls a switcheroo on you, you can exercise what I call the broken record method and continue stating the facts without giving in to their distractions. Redirect their redirection by saying, Thats not what I am talking about. Lets stay focused on the real issue. If theyre not interested, disengage and spend your energy on something more constructive – like not having a debate with someone who has the mental age of a toddler.

    8. Covert and overt threats.

    Narcissistic abusers and otherwise toxic people feel very threatened when their excessive sense of entitlement, false sense of superiority and grandiose sense of self are challenged in any way. They are prone to making unreasonable demands on others while punishing you for not living up to their impossible to reach expectations.

    Rather than tackle disagreements or compromises maturely, they set out to divert you from your right to have your own identity and perspective by attempting to instill fear in you about the consequences of disagreeing or complying with their demands. To them, any challenge results in an ultimatum and do this or Ill do that becomes their daily mantra.

    If someones reaction to you setting boundaries or having a differing opinion from your own is to threaten you into submission, whether its a thinly veiled threat or an overt admission of what they plan to do, this is a red flag of someone who has a high degree of entitlement and has no plans of compromising. Take threats seriously and show the narcissist you mean business; document threats and report them whenever possible and legally feasible.

    9. Name-calling.

    Narcissists preemptively blow anything they perceive as a threat to their superiority out of proportion. In their world, only they can ever be right and anyone who dares to say otherwise creates a narcissistic injury that results in narcissistic rage. As Mark Goulston, M.D. asserts, narcissistic rage does not result from low self-esteem but rather a high sense of entitlement and false sense of superiority.

    The lowest of the low resort to narcissistic rage in the form of name-calling when they cant think of a better way to manipulate your opinion or micromanage your emotions. Name-calling is a quick and easy way to put you down, degrade you and insult your intelligence, appearance or behavior while invalidating your right to be a separate person with a right to his or her perspective.

    Name-calling can also be used to criticize your beliefs, opinions and insights. A well-researched perspective or informed opinion suddenly becomes silly or idiotic in the hands of a malignant narcissist or sociopath who feels threatened by it and cannot make a respectful, convincing rebuttal. Rather than target your argument, they target you as a person and seek to undermine your credibility and intelligence in any way they possibly can. Its important to end any interaction that consists of name-calling and communicate that you wont tolerate it. Dont internalize it: realize that they are resorting to name-calling because they are deficient in higher level methods.

    10. Destructive conditioning.

    Toxic people condition you to associate your strengths, talents, and happy memories with abuse, frustration and disrespect. They do this by sneaking in covert and overt put-downs about the qualities and traits they once idealized as well as sabotaging your goals, ruining celebrations, vacations and holidays. They may even isolate you from your friends and family and make you financially dependent upon them. Like Pavlovs dogs, youre essentially trained over time to become afraid of doing the very things that once made your life fulfilling.

    Narcissists, sociopaths, psychopaths and otherwise toxic people do this because they wish to divert attention back to themselves and how youre going to please them. If there is anything outside of them that may threaten their control over your life, they seek to destroy it. They need to be the center of attention at all times. In the idealization phase, you were once the center of a narcissists world now the narcissist becomes the center of yours.

    Narcissists are also naturally pathologically envious and dont want anything to come in between them and their influence over you. Your happiness represents everything they feel they cannot have in their emotionally shallow lives. After all, if you learn that you can get validation, respect and love from other sources besides the toxic person, whats to keep you from leaving them? To toxic people, a little conditioning can go a long way to keep you walking on eggshells and falling just short of your big dreams.

    11. Smear campaigns and stalking.

    When toxic types cant control the way you see yourself, they start to control how others see you; they play the martyr while youre labeled the toxic one. A smear campaign is a preemptive strike to sabotage your reputation and slander your name so that you wont have a support network to fall back on lest you decide to detach and cut ties with this toxic person. They may even stalk and harass you or the people you know as a way to supposedly expose the truth about you; this exposure acts as a way to hide their own abusive behavior while projecting it onto you.

    Some smear campaigns can even work to pit two people or two groups against each other. A victim in an abusive relationship with a narcissist often doesnt know whats being said about them during the relationship, but they eventually find out the falsehoods shortly after theyve been discarded.

    Toxic people will gossip behind your back (and in front of your face), slander you to your loved ones or their loved ones, create stories that depict you as the aggressor while they play the victim, and claim that you engaged in the same behaviors that they are afraid you will accuse them of engaging in. They will also methodically, covertly and deliberately abuse you so they can use your reactions as a way to prove that they are the so-called victims of your abuse.

    The best way to handle a smear campaign is to stay mindful of your reactions and stick to the facts. This is especially pertinent for high-conflict divorces with narcissists who may use your reactions to their provocations against you. Document any form of harassment, cyberbullying or stalking incidents and always speak to your narcissist through a lawyer whenever possible. You may wish to take legal action if you feel the stalking and harassment is getting out of control; finding a lawyer who is well-versed in Narcissistic Personality Disorder is crucial if thats the case. Your character and integrity will speak for itself when the narcissists false mask begins to slip.

    12. Love-bombing and devaluation.

    Toxic people put you through an idealization phase until youre sufficiently hooked and invested in beginning a friendship or relationship with you. Then, they begin to devalue you while insulting the very things they admired in the first place. Another variation of this is when a toxic individual puts you on a pedestal while aggressively devaluing and attacking someone else who threatens their sense of superiority.

    Narcissistic abusers do this all the time they devalue their exes to their new partners, and eventually the new partner starts to receive the same sort of mistreatment as the narcissists ex-partner. Ultimately what will happen is that you will also be on the receiving end of the same abuse. You will one day be the ex-partner they degrade to their new source of supply. You just dont know it yet. Thats why its important to stay mindful of the love-bombing technique whenever you witness behavior that doesnt align with the saccharine sweetness a narcissist subjects you to.

    As life coach Wendy Powell suggests, slowing things down with people you suspect may be toxic is an important way of combating the love-bombing technique. Be wary of the fact that how a person treats or speaks about someone else could potentially translate into the way they will treat you in the future.

    13. Preemptive defense.

    When someone stresses the fact that they are a nice guy or girl, that you should trust them right away or emphasizes their credibility without any provocation from you whatsoever, be wary.

    Toxic and abusive people overstate their ability to be kind and compassionate. They often tell you that you should trust them without first building a solid foundation of trust. They may perform a high level of sympathy and empathy at the beginning of your relationship to dupe you, only to unveil their false mask later on. When you see their false mask begins to slip periodically during the devaluation phase of the abuse cycle, the true self is revealed to be terrifyingly cold, callous and contemptuous.

    Genuinely nice people rarely have to persistently show off their positive qualities they exude their warmth more than they talk about it and they know that actions speak volumes more than mere words. They know that trust and respect is a two-way street that requires reciprocity, not repetition.

    To counter a preemptive defense, reevaluate why a person may be emphasizing their good qualities. Is it because they think you dont trust them, or because they know you shouldnt? Trust actions more than empty words and see how someones actions communicate who they are, not who they say they are.

    14. Triangulation.

    Bringing in the opinion, perspective or suggested threat of another person into the dynamic of an interaction is known as triangulation. Often used to validate the toxic persons abuse while invalidating the victims reactions to abuse, triangulation can also work to manufacture love triangles that leave you feeling unhinged and insecure.

    Malignant narcissists love to triangulate their significant other with strangers, co-workers, ex-partners, friends and even family members in order to evoke jealousy and uncertainty in you. They also use the opinions of others to validate their point of view.

    This is a diversionary tactic meant to pull your attention away from their abusive behavior and into a false image of them as a desirable, sought after person. It also leaves you questioning yourself if Mary did agree with Tom, doesnt that mean that you must be wrong? The truth is, narcissists love to report back falsehoods about others say about you, when in fact, they are the ones smearing you.

    To resist triangulation tactics, realize that whoever the narcissist is triangulating with is also being triangulated by your relationship with the narcissist as well. Everyone is essentially being played by this one person. Reverse triangulate the narcissist by gaining support from a third party that is not under the narcissists influence and also by seeking your own validation.

    15. Bait and feign innocence.

    Toxic individuals lure you into a false sense of security simply to have a platform to showcase their cruelty. Baiting you into a mindless, chaotic argument can escalate into a showdown rather quickly with someone who doesnt know the meaning of respect. A simple disagreement may bait you into responding politely initially, until it becomes clear that the person has a malicious motive of tearing you down.

    By baiting you with a seemingly innocuous comment disguised as a rational one, they can then begin to play with you. Remember: narcissistic abusers have learned about your insecurities, the unsettling catchphrases that interrupt your confidence, and the disturbing topics that reenact your wounds and they use this knowledge maliciously to provoke you. After youve fallen for it, hook line and sinker, theyll stand back and innocently ask whether youre okay and talk about how they didnt mean to agitate you. This faux innocence works to catch you off guard and make you believe that they truly didnt intend to hurt you, until it happens so often you cant deny the reality of their malice any longer.

    It helps to realize when youre being baited so you can avoid engaging altogether. Provocative statements, name-calling, hurtful accusations or unsupported generalizations, for example, are common baiting tactics. Your gut instinct can also tell you when youre being baited if you feel off about a certain comment and continue to feel this way even after it has been expanded on, thats a sign you may need to take some space to reevaluate the situation before choosing to respond.

    16. Boundary testing and hoovering.

    Narcissists, sociopaths and otherwise toxic people continually try and test your boundaries to see which ones they can trespass. The more violations theyre able to commit without consequences, the more theyll push the envelope.
    Thats why survivors of emotional as well as physical abuse often experience even more severe incidents of abuse each and every time they go back to their abusers.

    Abusers tend to hoover their victims back in with sweet promises, fake remorse and empty words of how they are going to change, only to abuse their victims even more horrifically. In the abusers sick mind, this boundary testing serves as a punishment for standing up to the abuse and also for being going back to it. When narcissists try to press the emotional reset button, reinforce your boundaries even more strongly rather than backtracking on them.

    17. Aggressive jabs disguised as jokes.

    Covert narcissists enjoy making malicious remarks at your expense. These are usually dressed up as just jokes so that they can get away with saying appalling things while still maintaining an innocent, cool demeanor. Yet any time you are outraged at an insensitive, harsh remark, you are accused of having no sense of humor. This is a tactic frequently used in verbal abuse.

    The contemptuous smirk and sadistic gleam in their eyes gives it away, however like a predator that plays with its food, a toxic person gains pleasure from hurting you and being able to get away with it. After all, its just a joke, right? Wrong. Its a way to gaslight you into thinking their abuse is a joke a way to divert from their cruelty and onto your perceived sensitivity. It is important that when this happens, you stand up for yourself and make it clear that you wont tolerate this type of behavior.

    Calling out manipulative people on their covert put-downs may result in further gaslighting from the abuser but maintain your stance that their behavior is not okay and end the interaction immediately if you have to.

    18. Condescending sarcasm and patronizing tone.

    Belittling and degrading a person is a toxic persons forte and their tone of voice is only one tool in their toolbox. Sarcasm can be a fun mode of communication when both parties are engaged, but narcissists use it chronically as a way to manipulate you and degrade you. If you in any way react to it, you must be too sensitive.

    Forget that the toxic person constantly has temper tantrums every time their big bad ego is faced with realistic feedback the victim is the hypersensitive one, apparently. So long as youre treated like a child and constantly challenged for expressing yourself, youll start to develop a sense of hypervigilance about voicing your thoughts and opinions without reprimand. This self-censorship enables the abuser to put in less work in silencing you, because you begin to silence yourself.

    Whenever you are met with a condescending demeanor or tone, call it out firmly and assertively. You dont deserve to be spoken down to like a child nor should you ever silence yourself to meet the expectation of someone elses superiority complex.

    19. Shaming.

    You should be ashamed of yourself is a favorite saying of toxic people. Though it can be used by someone who is non-toxic, in the realm of the narcissist or sociopath, shaming is an effective method that targets any behavior or belief that might challenge a toxic persons power. It can also be used to destroy and whittle away at a victims self-esteem: if a victim dares to be proud of something, shaming the victim for that specific trait, quality or accomplishment can serve to diminish their sense of self and stifle any pride they may have.

    Malignant narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths enjoy using your own wounds against you so they will even shame you about any abuse or injustice youve suffered in your lifetime as a way to retraumatize you. Were you a childhood abuse survivor? A malignant narcissist or sociopath will claim that you mustve done something to deserve it, or brag about their own happy childhood as a way to make you feel deficient and unworthy. What better way to injure you, after all, than to pick at the original wound? As surgeons of madness, they seek to exacerbate wounds, not help heal them.

    If you suspect youre dealing with a toxic person, avoid revealing any of your vulnerabilities or past traumas. Until theyve proven their character to you, there is no point disclosing information that could be potentially used against you.

    20. Control.

    Most importantly, toxic abusers love to maintain control in whatever way they can. They isolate you, maintain control over your finances and social networks, and micromanage every facet of your life. Yet the most powerful mechanism they have for control is toying with your emotions.

    Thats why abusive narcissists and sociopaths manufacture situations of conflict out of thin air to keep you feeling off center and off balanced. Thats why they chronically engage in disagreements about irrelevant things and rage over perceived slights. Thats why they emotionally withdraw, only to re-idealize you once they start to lose control. Thats why they vacillate between their false self and their true self, so you never get a sense of psychological safety or certainty about who your partner truly is.

    The more power they have over your emotions, the less likely you’ll trust your own reality and the truth about the abuse you’re enduring. Knowing the manipulative tactics and how they work to erode your sense of self can arm you with the knowledge of what youre facing and at the very least, develop a plan to regain control over your own life and away from toxic people.

    Shahida Arabi is the author of the book , available here.

    Read more: http://thoughtcatalog.com/shahida-arabi/2016/06/20-diversion-tactics-highly-manipulative-narcissists-sociopaths-and-psychopaths-use-to-silence-you/

    10 Old Fashioned Dating Habits We Should Make Cool Again

    1. Coming to the door to pick someone up.

    I think we’ve all had it with the incredibly unromantic “here” text, and meeting up always seems to be more casual and platonic than the alternative. Of course, meeting someone from online or any circumstance like that would probably be the exception to this rule, but generally: the 30 seconds it takes to get out of a car or cab and knock on the door makes a huge difference.

    2. Trying to dress really nicely for a date.

    “Nicely” means different things for different people, so I think it’s just a matter of putting effort into how you put yourself together to go out with someone. It’s not about wearing suits and petticoats again, but just realizing that, whether or not we like to accept it, appearance does count for something, and we should do our best to make sure that our appearance says something about us, in whatever way we’d like it to.

    3. Bringing flowers or other tokens of affection to the first date.

    Now, many lucky ladies (and some men) I know get this regularly, and in fact, I have myself as well, but only ever with people I’d been dating for a while. I think there’s something to be said for bringing flowers to the door on your first date. It’s become uncool because it’s forward and it’s a gesture that confirms their interest, but we should definitely get past that idea and worry more about how we’re going to let someone know we really do care and appreciate that they want to spend time with us.

    4. Going dancing that’s not grinding on a grimy club floor.

    Whatever happened to this? Dancing for the sake of dancing, like fun, not essentially sex on a dance floor dancing. What’s a better way to literally shake off nerves than seeing them bust a really dorky move on a dance floor? And the art of slow dancing has generally been lost, though I’ve been one to do it in my living room with my slightly coerced significant other, and I’ll tell you he’s said on numerous occasions it ended up being one of the most romantic nights we had together.

    5. Straightforwardly asking someone out and not calling it “hanging out.”

    Or, as is very popular these days, “talking.” “Oh, we’re just… talking.” As in, seeing one another and speaking frequently as to get to know each other? So… dating? We’ve found these really convenient ways to skirt around the issue of having to put our hearts on the line, but honestly, it just ends up being messy and confusing for all parties involved. There’s no need to go back to the idea of courting or anything, unless you want to, but simply being direct about whether or not you’d like to go on a date with someone is a truly lost art, one that really shouldn’t be.

    6. Additionally, being clear about when you’re “going steady.”

    Oh, the awkward, “so… are we… you know… what are we?” talk. Classic. We should go back to asking one another if the other person would like to “go steady” or something. There’s something about asking them if they’d like to rather than assuming that you are or aren’t anything that’s just very cute, in my opinion.

    7. Romantic gestures like writing poems.

    Writing poems may not be for you, I know mine would look something like “Roses are red, violets are blue, I hate poetry but I love you.” I literally just made that up thank you please quote me when you inevitably post that gem on Tumblr. But seriously, like a handwritten letter in the mail or just surprising them with something you made even if it looks like the macaroni necklace you made when you were 5 is cute just because you tried and were thinking of them.

    8. Turning electronics off and just being with one another.

    I’m not sure there is anything worse than the person who picks up their phone and starts staring at it in the middle of dinner, or at any point while you’re together and having a conversation. I’m not anti-technology here (hello, I work for the Internet) but I am saying that there comes a time to turn it off and disconnect and remember what actually matters. People.

    9. The general concept of asking permission for things.

    It used to be principle for people to say: oh, when can I see you? Or, when could I call you? Rather than just assuming they can at any point. But I think that old concept could be applied to our modern world by just assuming that, unless told otherwise, you should ask permission to you know, touch them , take them out, call them at a certain time, etc. Once you’re in a relationship these things usually don’t require asking anymore, but some do, especially when it comes to sexuality. I once knew a person who said that they asked permission before so much as touching a girl’s thigh, and that always stuck with me.

    10. Not assuming sex is to be had at point in time.

    Now, I’m certainly not saying it should go back to being a taboo that’s unspoken of, but we certainly shouldn’t expect it from someone on the third date, on the first date, because they’re being flirty, because you know they’re into you, or even because they agreed to go out with you. A date does not have to be a precursor to sex, and you shouldn’t be disappointed if it isn’t because you should never assume that it will be. It depends on the person you’re with and what they want to do.

    Read more: http://thoughtcatalog.com/kate-bailey/2013/12/10-old-fashioned-dating-habits-we-should-make-cool-again/

    Unlearning the myth of American innocence

    The long read: When she was 30, Suzy Hansen left the US for Istanbul and began to realise that Americans will never understand their own country until they see it as the rest of the world does

    My mother recently found piles of my notebooks from when I was a small child that were filled with plans for my future. I was very ambitious. I wrote out what I would do at every age: when I would get married and when I would have kids and when I would open a dance studio.

    When I left my small hometown for college, this sort of planning stopped. The experience of going to a radically new place, as college was to me, upended my sense of the world and its possibilities. The same thing happened when I moved to New York after college, and a few years later when I moved to Istanbul. All change is dramatic for provincial people. But the last move was the hardest. In Turkey, the upheaval was far more unsettling: after a while, I began to feel that the entire foundation of my consciousness was a lie.

    For all their patriotism, Americans rarely think about how their national identities relate to their personal ones. This indifference is particular to the psychology of white Americans and has a history unique to the US. In recent years, however, this national identity has become more difficult to ignore. Americans can no longer travel in foreign countries without noticing the strange weight we carry with us. In these years after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the many wars that followed, it has become more difficult to gallivant across the world absorbing its wisdom and resources for ones own personal use. Americans abroad now do not have the same swagger, the easy, enormous smiles. You no longer want to speak so loud. There is always the vague risk of breaking something.

    Some years after I moved to Istanbul, I bought a notebook, and unlike that confident child, I wrote down not plans but a question: who do we become if we dont become Americans? If we discover that our identity as we understood it had been a myth? I asked it because my years as an American abroad in the 21st century were not a joyous romp of self-discovery and romance. Mine were more of a shattering and a shame, and even now, I still dont know myself.


    I grew up in Wall, a town located by the Jersey Shore, two hours drive from New York. Much of it was a landscape of concrete and parking lots, plastic signs and Dunkin Donuts. There was no centre, no Main Street, as there was in most of the pleasant beach towns nearby, no tiny old movie theatre or architecture suggesting some sort of history or memory.

    Most of my friends parents were teachers, nurses, cops or electricians, except for the rare father who worked in the City, and a handful of Italian families who did less legal things. My parents were descendants of working-class Danish, Italian and Irish immigrants who had little memory of their European origins, and my extended family ran an inexpensive public golf course, where I worked as a hot-dog girl in the summers. The politics I heard about as a kid had to do with taxes and immigrants, and not much else. Bill Clinton was not popular in my house. (In 2016, most of Wall voted Trump.)

    We were all patriotic, but I cant even conceive of what else we could have been, because our entire experience was domestic, interior, American. We went to church on Sundays, until church time was usurped by soccer games. I dont remember a strong sense of civic engagement. Instead I had the feeling that people could take things from you if you didnt stay vigilant. Our goals remained local: homecoming queen, state champs, a scholarship to Trenton State, barbecues in the backyard. The lone Asian kid in our class studied hard and went to Berkeley; the Indian went to Yale. Black people never came to Wall. The world was white, Christian; the world was us.

    We did not study world maps, because international geography, as a subject, had been phased out of many state curriculums long before. There was no sense of the US being one country on a planet of many countries. Even the Soviet Union seemed something more like the Death Star flying overhead, ready to laser us to smithereens than a country with people in it.

    Boardwalk
    Boardwalk empire a variety shop in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Photo: Michael S Williamson/The Washington Post

    I have TV memories of world events. Even in my mind, they appear on a screen: Oliver North testifying in the Iran-Contra hearings; the scarred, evil-seeming face of Panamas dictator Manuel Noriega; the movie-like footage, all flashes of light, of the bombing of Baghdad during the first Gulf war. Mostly what I remember of that war in Iraq was singing God Bless the USA on the school bus I was 13 wearing little yellow ribbons and becoming teary-eyed as I remembered the video of the song I had seen on MTV.

    And Im proud to be an American

    Where at least I know Im free

    That at least is funny. We were free at the very least we were that. Everyone else was a chump, because they didnt even have that obvious thing. Whatever it meant, it was the thing that we had, and no one else did. It was our God-given gift, our superpower.

    By the time I got to high school, I knew that communism had gone away, but never learned what communism had actually been (bad was enough). Religion, politics, race they washed over me like troubled things that obviously meant something to someone somewhere, but that had no relationship to me, to Wall, to America. I certainly had no idea that most people in the world felt those connections deeply. History Americas history, the worlds history would slip in and out of my consciousness with no resonance whatsoever.

    Racism, antisemitism and prejudice, however those things, on some unconscious level, I must have known. They were expressed in the fear of Asbury Park, which was black; in the resentment of the towns of Marlboro and Deal, which were known as Jewish; in the way Hispanics seemed exotic. Much of the Jersey Shore was segregated as if it were still the 1950s, and so prejudice was expressed through fear of anything outside Wall, anything outside the tiny white world in which we lived. If there was something that saved us from being outwardly racist, it was that in small towns such as Wall, especially for girls, it was important to be nice, or good this pressure tempered tendencies toward overt cruelty when we were young.

    I was lucky that I had a mother who nourished my early-onset book addiction, an older brother with mysteriously acquired progressive politics, and a father who spent his evenings studying obscure golf antiques, lost in the pleasures of the past. In these days of the 1%, I am nostalgic for Walls middle-class modesty and its sea-salt Jersey Shore air. But as a teenager, I knew that the only thing that could rescue me from the Wall of fear was a good college.


    I ended up at the University of Pennsylvania. The lack of interest in the wider world that I had known in Wall found another expression there, although at Penn the children were wealthy, highly educated and apolitical. During orientation, the business school students were told that they were the smartest people in the country, or so I had heard. (Donald Trump Jr was there then, too.) In the late 1990s, everyone at Penn wanted to be an investment banker, and many would go on to help bring down the world economy a decade later. But they were more educated than I was; in American literature class, they had even heard of William Faulkner.

    TV
    TV memories Lt Col Oliver North is sworn in before Congress for the Iran-Contra hearings, July 1987. Photograph: Lana Harris/AP

    When my best friend from Wall revealed one night that she hadnt heard of John McEnroe or Jerry Garcia, some boys on the dormitory hall called us ignorant, and white trash, and chastised us for not reading magazines. We were hurt, and surprised; white trash was something we said about other people at the Jersey Shore. My boyfriend from Wall accused me of going to Penn solely to find a boyfriend who drove a Ferrari, and the boys at Penn made fun of the Camaros we drove in high school. Class in America was not something we understood in any structural or intellectual way; class was a constellation of a million little materialistic cultural signifiers, and the insult, loss or acquisition of any of them could transform ones future entirely.

    In the end, I chose to pursue the new life Penn offered me. The kids I met had parents who were doctors or academics; many of them had already even been to Europe! Penn, for all its superficiality, felt one step closer to a larger world.

    Still, I cannot remember any of us being conscious of foreign events during my four years of college. There were wars in Eritrea, Nepal, Afghanistan, Kosovo, East Timor, Kashmir. US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam were bombed. Panama, Nicaragua (I couldnt keep Latin American countries straight), Osama bin Laden, Clinton bombing Iraq nope.

    I knew Saddam Hussein, which had the same evil resonance as communism. I remember the movie Wag the Dog, a satire in which American politicians start a fake war with foreign terrorists to distract the electorate during a domestic scandal which at the time was what many accused Clinton of doing when he ordered a missile strike on Afghanistan during the Monica Lewinsky affair. I never thought about Afghanistan. What country was in Wag the Dog? Albania. There was a typical American callousness in our reaction to the country they chose for the movie, an indifference that said, Some bumblefuck country, it doesnt matter which one they choose.

    I was a child of the 90s, the decade when, according to Americas foremost intellectuals, history had ended, the US was triumphant, the cold war won by a landslide. The historian David Schmitz has written that, by that time, the idea that America won because of its values and steadfast adherence to the promotion of liberalism and democracy was dominating op-ed pages, popular magazines and the bestseller lists. These ideas were the ambient noise, the elevator music of my most formative years.

    But for me there was also an intervention a chance experience in the basement of Penns library. I came across a line in a book in which a historian argued that, long ago, during the slavery era, black people and white people had defined their identities in opposition to each other. The revelation to me was not that black people had conceived of their identities in response to ours, but that our white identities had been composed in conscious objection to theirs. Id had no idea that we had ever had to define our identities at all, because to me, white Americans were born fully formed, completely detached from any sort of complicated past. Even now, I can remember that shiver of recognition that only comes when you learn something that expands, just a tiny bit, your sense of reality. What made me angry was that this revelation was something about who I was. How much more did I not know about myself?

    It was because of this text that I picked up the books of James Baldwin, who gave me the sense of meeting someone who knew me better, and with a far more sophisticated critical arsenal than I had myself. There was this line:

    But I have always been struck, in America, by an emotional poverty so bottomless, and a terror of human life, of human touch, so deep, that virtually no American appears able to achieve any viable, organic connection between his public stance and his private life.

    And this one:

    All of the western nations have been caught in a lie, the lie of their pretended humanism; this means that their history has no moral justification, and that the west has no moral authority.

    And this one:

    White Americans are probably the sickest and certainly the most dangerous people, of any colour, to be found in the world today.

    I know why this came as a shock to me then, at the age of 22, and it wasnt necessarily because he said I was sick, though that was part of it. It was because he kept calling me that thing: white American. In my reaction I justified his accusation. I knew I was white, and I knew I was American, but it was not what I understood to be my identity. For me, self-definition was about gender, personality, religion, education, dreams. I only thought about finding myself, becoming myself, discovering myself and this, I hadnt known, was the most white American thing of all.

    I still did not think about my place in the larger world, or that perhaps an entire history the history of white Americans had something to do with who I was. My lack of consciousness allowed me to believe I was innocent, or that white American was not an identity like Muslim or Turk.

    White
    White Americans are probably the most dangerous people in the world today author James Baldwin in New York, 1963. Photograph: Dave Pickoff/AP

    Of this indifference, Baldwin wrote: White children, in the main, and whether they are rich or poor, grow up with a grasp of reality so feeble that they can very accurately be described as deluded.

    Young white Americans of course go through pain, insecurity and heartache. But it is very, very rare that young white Americans come across someone who tells them in harsh, unforgiving terms that they might be merely the easy winners of an ugly game, and indeed that because of their ignorance and misused power, they might be the losers within a greater moral universe.


    In 2007, after I had worked for six years as a journalist in New York, I won a writing fellowship that would send me to Turkey for two years. I had applied for it on a whim. No part of me expected to win the thing. Even as my friends wished me congratulations, I detected a look of concern on their faces, as if I was crazy to leave all this, as if 29 was a little too late to be finding myself. I had never even been to Turkey before.

    In the weeks before my departure, I spent hours explaining Turkeys international relevance to my bored loved ones, no doubt deploying the cliche that Istanbul was the bridge between east and west. I told everyone that I chose Turkey because I wanted to learn about the Islamic world. The secret reason I wanted to go was that Baldwin had lived in Istanbul in the 1960s, on and off, for almost a decade. I had seen a documentary about Baldwin that said he felt more comfortable as a black, gay man in Istanbul than in Paris or New York.

    When I heard that, it made so little sense to me, sitting in my Brooklyn apartment, that a space opened in the universe. I couldnt believe that New York could be more illiberal than a place such as Turkey, because I couldnt conceive of how prejudiced New York and Paris had been in that era; and because I thought that as you went east, life degraded into the past, the opposite of progress. The idea of Baldwin in Turkey somehow placed Americas race problem, and America itself, in a mysterious and tantalising international context. I took a chance that Istanbul might be the place where the secret workings of history would be revealed.

    In Turkey and elsewhere, in fact, I would feel an almost physical sensation of intellectual and emotional discomfort, while trying to grasp a reality of which I had no historical or cultural understanding. I would go, as a journalist, to write a story about Turkey or Greece or Egypt or Afghanistan, and inevitably someone would tell me some part of our shared history theirs with America of which I knew nothing. If I didnt know this history, then what kind of story did I plan to tell?

    City
    City watch US army troops stand guard at a checkpoint in Baghdad, Iraq, in August 2007. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

    My learning process abroad was threefold: I was learning about foreign countries; I was learning about Americas role in the world; and I was also slowly understanding my own psychology, temperament and prejudices. No matter how well I knew the predatory aspects of capitalism, I still perceived Turkeys and Greeces economic advances as progress, a kind of maturation. No matter how deeply I understood the USs manipulation of Egypt for its own foreign-policy aims, I had never considered and could not grasp how American policies really affected the lives of individual Egyptians, beyond engendering resentment and anti-Americanism. No matter how much I believed that no American was well-equipped for nation-building, I thought I could see good intentions on the part of the Americans in Afghanistan. I would never have admitted it, or thought to say it, but looking back, I know that deep in my consciousness I thought that America was at the end of some evolutionary spectrum of civilisation, and everyone else was trying to catch up.

    American exceptionalism did not only define the US as a special nation among lesser nations; it also demanded that all Americans believe they, too, were somehow superior to others. How could I, as an American, understand a foreign people, when unconsciously I did not extend the most basic faith to other people that I extended to myself? This was a limitation that was beyond racism, beyond prejudice and beyond ignorance. This was a kind of nationalism so insidious that I had not known to call it nationalism; this was a self-delusion so complete that I could not see where it began and ended, could not root it out, could not destroy it.


    In my first few months in Istanbul, I lived a formless kind of existence, days dissolving into the nights. I had no office to go to, no job to keep, and I was 30 years old, an age at which people either choose to grow up or remain stuck in the exploratory, idle phase of late-late youth. Starting all over again in a foreign country making friends, learning a new language, trying to find your way through a city meant almost certainly choosing the latter. I spent many nights out until the wee hours such as the evening I drank beer with a young Turkish man named Emre, who had attended college with a friend of mine from the US.

    A friend had told me that Emre was one of the most brilliant people he had ever met. As the evening passed, I was gaining a lot from his analysis of Turkish politics, especially when I asked him whether he voted for Erdoans Justice and Development party (AKP), and he spat back, outraged, Did you vote for George W Bush? Until that point I had not realised the two might be equivalent.

    Then, three beers in, Emre mentioned that the US had planned the September 11 attacks. I had heard this before. Conspiracy theories were common in Turkey; for example, when the military claimed that the PKK, the Kurdish militant group, had attacked a police station, some Turks believed the military itself had done it; they believed it even in cases where Turkish civilians had died. In other words, the idea was that rightwing forces, such as the military, bombed neutral targets, or even rightwing targets, so they could then blame it on the leftwing groups, such as the PKK. To Turks, bombing ones own country seemed like a real possibility.

    Come on, you dont believe that, I said.

    Why not? he snapped. I do.

    But its a conspiracy theory.

    He laughed. Americans always dismiss these things as conspiracy theories. Its the rest of the world who have had to deal with your conspiracies.

    I ignored him. I guess I have faith in American journalism, I said. Someone else would have figured this out if it were true.

    He smiled. Im sorry, theres no way they didnt have something to do with it. And now this war? he said, referring to the war in Iraq. Its impossible that the United States couldnt stop such a thing, and impossible that the Muslims could pull it off.

    Some weeks later, a bomb went off in the Istanbul neighborhood of Gngren. A second bomb exploded out of a garbage bin nearby after 10pm, killing 17 people and injuring 150. No one knew who did it. All that week, Turks debated: was it al-Qaida? The PKK? The DHKP/C, a radical leftist group? Or maybe: the deep state?

    The deep state a system of mafia-like paramilitary organisations operating outside of the law, sometimes at the behest of the official military was a whole other story. Turks explained that the deep state had been formed during the cold war as a way of countering communism, and then mutated into a force for destroying all threats to the Turkish state. The power that some Turks attributed to this entity sometimes strained credulity. But the point was that Turks had been living for years with the idea that some secret force controlled the fate of their nation.

    In fact, elements of the deep state were rumoured to have had ties to the CIA during the cold war, and though that too smacked of a conspiracy theory, this was the reality that Turkish people lived in. The sheer number of international interventions the US launched in those decades is astonishing, especially those during years when American power was considered comparatively innocent. There were the successful assassinations: Patrice Lumumba, prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1961; General Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, also in 1961; Ngo Dinh Diem, president of South Vietnam, in 1963. There were the unsuccessful assassinations: Castro, Castro, and Castro. There were the much hoped-for assassinations: Nasser, Nasser, Nasser. And, of course, US-sponsored, -supported or -staged regime changes: Iran, Guatemala, Iraq, Congo, Syria, Dominican Republic, South Vietnam, Indonesia, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Uruguay and Argentina. The Americans trained or supported secret police forces everywhere from Cambodia to Colombia, the Philippines to Peru, Iran to Vietnam. Many Turks believed that the US at least encouraged the 1971 and 1980 military coups in Turkey, though I could find little about these events in any conventional histories anywhere.

    But what I could see was that the effects of such meddling were comparable to those of September 11 just as huge, life-changing and disruptive to the country and to peoples lives. Perhaps Emre did not believe that September 11 was a straightforward affair of evidence and proof because his experience his reality taught him that very rarely were any of these surreally monumental events easily explainable. I did not think Emres theory about the attacks was plausible. But I began to wonder whether there was much difference between a foreigners paranoia that the Americans planned September 11 and the Americans paranoia that the whole world should pay for September 11 with an endless global war on terror.


    The next time a Turktold me she believed the US had bombed itself on September 11 (I heard this with some regularity; this time it was from a young student at Istanbuls Boazii University), I repeated my claim about believing in the integrity of American journalism. She replied, a bit sheepishly, Well, right, we cant trust our journalism. We cant take that for granted.

    The words take that for granted gave me pause. Having lived in Turkey for more than a year, witnessing how nationalistic propaganda had inspired peoples views of the world and of themselves, I wondered from where the belief in our objectivity and rigour in journalism came. Why would Americans be objective and everyone else subjective?

    I thought that because Turkey had poorly functioning institutions they didnt have a reliable justice system, as compared to an American system I believed to be functional it often felt as if there was no truth. Turks were always sceptical of official histories, and blithely dismissive of the governments line. But was it rather that the Turks, with their beautiful scepticism, were actually just less nationalistic than me?

    American exceptionalism had declared my country unique in the world, the one truly free and modern country, and instead of ever considering that that exceptionalism was no different from any other countrys nationalistic propaganda, I had internalised this belief. Wasnt that indeed what successful propaganda was supposed to do? I had not questioned the institution of American journalism outside of the standards it set for itself which, after all, was the only way I would discern its flaws and prejudices; instead, I accepted those standards as the best standards any country could possibly have.

    Red
    Red state Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoan attends a rally following a failed coup attempt last year. Photograph: Osman Orsal/Reuters

    By the end of my first year abroad, I read US newspapers differently. I could see how alienating they were to foreigners, the way articles spoke always from a position of American power, treating foreign countries as if they were Americas misbehaving children. I listened to my compatriots with critical ears: the way our discussion of foreign policy had become infused since September 11 with these officious, official words, bureaucratic corporate military language: collateral damage, imminent threat, freedom, freedom, freedom.

    Even so, I was conscious that if I had long ago succumbed to the pathology of American nationalism, I wouldnt know it even if I understood the history of injustice in America, even if I was furious about the invasion of Iraq. I was a white American. I still had this fundamental faith in my country in a way that suddenly, in comparison to the Turks, made me feel immature and naive.

    I came to notice that a community of activists and intellectuals in Turkey the liberal ones were indeed questioning what Turkishness meant in new ways. Many of them had been brainwashed in their schools about their own history; about Atatrk, Turkeys first president; about the supposed evil of the Armenians and the Kurds and the Arabs; about the fragility of their borders and the rapaciousness of all outsiders; and about the historic and eternal goodness of the Turkish republic.

    It is different in the United States, I once said, not entirely realising what I was saying until the words came out. I had never been called upon to explain this. We are told it is the greatest country on earth. The thing is, we will never reconsider that narrative the way you are doing just now, because to us, that isnt propaganda, that is truth. And to us, that isnt nationalism, its patriotism. And the thing is, we will never question any of it because at the same time, all we are being told is how free-thinking we are, that we are free. So we dont know there is anything wrong in believing our country is the greatest on earth. The whole thing sort of convinces you that a collective consciousness in the world came to that very conclusion.

    Wow, a friend once replied. How strange. That is a very quiet kind of fascism, isnt it?

    It was a quiet kind of fascism that would mean I would always see Turkey as beneath the country I came from, and also that would mean I believed my uniquely benevolent country to have uniquely benevolent intentions towards the peoples of the world.

    During that night of conspiracy theories, Emre had alleged, as foreigners often did, that I was a spy. The information that I was collecting as a journalist, Emre said, was really being used for something else. As an American emissary in the wider world, writing about foreigners, governments, economies partaking in some larger system and scheme of things, I was an agent somehow. Emre lived in the American world as a foreigner, as someone less powerful, as someone for whom one newspaper article could mean war, or one misplaced opinion could mean an intervention by the International Monetary Fund. My attitude, my prejudice, my lack of generosity could be entirely false, inaccurate or damaging, but would be taken for truth by the newspapers and magazines I wrote for, thus shaping perceptions of Turkey for ever.

    Years later, an American journalist told me he loved working for a major newspaper because the White House read it, because he could influence policy. Emre had told me how likely it was I would screw this up. He was saying to me: first, spy, do no harm.

    Main photograph: Burak Kara/Getty Images for the Guardian

    Adapted from Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World by Suzy Hansen, which will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on 15 August

    Follow the Long Read on Twitter at @gdnlongread, or sign up to the long read weekly email here.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/08/unlearning-the-myth-of-american-innocence

    British email prankster fools White House officials into replying

    Man used emails to trick Anthony Scaramucci and pose as Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus and Eric Trump

    A suspected British prankster appears to have conned White House officials including Anthony Scaramucci into replying to him after pretending in email correspondence to be several different members of the Trump team.

    The man, who goes by the Twitter handle @SINON_REBORN, posed as Jared Kushner well enough to convince homeland security adviser Tom Bossert to reply to him, according to CNN. Bossert included his personal email address in the exchange.

    The man also fooled Scaramucci, the White House communications director who was fired on Monday, by pretending to be Reince Priebus, the former Trump administration chief of staff with whom he was believed to be in open warfare.

    In a series of emails, the man posing as Priebus baited Scaramucci, accusing him of being breathtakingly hypocritical and saying at no stage have you acted in a way that is remotely classy.

    Scaramucci responded: You know what you did. We all do. Even today. But rest assured we were prepared. A Man would apologize.

    The heated exchange continued, with the prankster writing: I cant believe you are questioning my ethics! The so called Mooch, who cant even manage his first week in the White House without leaving upset in his wake. I have nothing to apologize for.

    Scaramucci replied: Read Shakespeare. Particularly Othello. You are right there. My family is fine by the way and will thrive. I know what you did. No more replies from me.

    The White House has confirmed it is looking into the matter. We take all cyber related issues very seriously and are looking into these incidents further, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told CNN.

    EMAIL PRANKSTER (@SINON_REBORN)

    Reince (me) giving @Scaramucci something to think about. He never replied haha pic.twitter.com/hutjACmogR

    August 1, 2017

    EMAIL PRANKSTER (@SINON_REBORN)

    An excerpt of what I emailed to @Scaramucci whilst playing the part of Jon Huntsman Jr. Apparently this didn’t seem out of the ordinary?! pic.twitter.com/6INHJi3KCD

    August 1, 2017

    The man, who described himself as a lazy anarchist on his Twitter profile, told CNN that his actions were meant to be humorous not malicious.

    Im not trying to get the keys to the vault or anything like that.

    He has previously convinced Scaramucci that he was the ambassador to Russia-designate Jon Hunstman and tricked Hunstman himself into believing he was the presidents son Eric Trump. He also fleetingly convinced Eric Trump he was his brother, Donald Jr.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/01/british-email-prankster-fools-white-house-officials-into-replying

    Are music festivals doing enough to tackle sexual assault?

    Reports of rape and other attacks are on the rise but, from grassroots groups to industry efforts, measures are being undertaken to keep attendees safe

    Festival season is a time of joy, sunburn and sloshing about in muddy fields. However, this booming industry which attracts millions of attendees each year and contributed to the 4bn revenues generated by the UKs live music industry in 2016 has a dark side. From family-oriented Latitude to the largely tweenage V festival, few British festivals seem to be immune from allegations of rape and sexual assault. Between 2014 and 2016, eight sexual assaults were reported at Reading festival, a post-GCSE venue for many teens. In 2013, a male nurse was convicted of attacking two women in the medical tent at Wilderness. Just last week, police announced that inquiries continue regarding a sexual assault on a bridge close to Glastonburys Silver Hayes dance field, and an alleged assault by a security guard at London one-dayer Lovebox has also been well publicised.

    While many attacks happen out of the way of the main arenas of such events, others occur in the thick of the festival; in 2011, a 15-year-old alleged that she had been raped close to the main stage of Bestival on the Isle of Wight. I was also at the festival that year, and while thankfully I had a safe trip, I was flashed as I exited a toilet, again close to the main stage. Along with more serious cases, the incident compounded my fear that maybe festivals werent the safe, escapist realms I had hoped they were.

    It is not an issue exclusive to Britain, either; earlier this month, news outlets around the world reported on a spate of sexual violence at Swedens largest festival, Brvalla, which has been cancelled for next year after allegations of four rapes and 23 related attacks. In response, the comedian Emma Knyckare announced her intention to hold a man-free rock festival. Answering her critics, who claimed that this amounted to anti-male discrimination, Knyckare told the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet that since it seems to be OK to discriminate against women all the time, maybe its OK to shut out men for three days?

    But is banning men from festivals really the way to deal with things? This is a question I put to Fiona Stewart, the managing director and owner of the Brecon Beacons-based Green Man festival. As the countrys only female festival-owner, Stewart has had to find her place within a male-dominated industry over the years, first heading up the Big Chill. Womens safety is a subject she feels strongly about. Im not really into any kind of exclusive situation anywhere, Stewart says of Knyckares plan, before adding that she does understand how that specific case may have necessitated a more hardline approach. I would be sympathetic to the people whove created that [rule], because they must feel under tremendous pressure.

    Fiona
    Fiona Stewart, the owner of Green Man festival. Photograph: Sarah Brimley

    As for security at her own festival, Stewart oversees the whole operation, carefully choosing who will work on the ground from a number of different organisations. Green Man has got quite a gentle reputation, but with anything like this its actually pretty robust and vigorous. We have a very proactive attitude towards assault, she says. Its not a reactive thing. She assures me that if I were to find myself alone at the festival at 2am, there would be lighting, security points and stewards within easy reach. Whether as a result of her measures or happy coincidence, reported assaults at Green Man are virtually nil.

    If Stewart represents an industry view, then Girls Against is very much the voice of grassroots efforts. The group which campaigns on and offline for increased festival and gig safety comprises teenage girls from across the UK, such as Bea Bennister, who has just finished her A-levels. She tells me the groups most important endeavour since forming in 2015 was being a part of the Safer Spaces Campaign, run by the Association for Independent Festivals (AIF) and launched this May. As part of the initiative, Girls Against helped them to instigate a 24-hour blackout on festivals websites and social media to raise awareness of sexual assault, as well as implementing a new safety charter (its tenets: Zero Tolerance to Sexual Assault. Hands Off Unless Consent. Dont Be a Bystander). Among the signatories were Bestival, Secret Garden Party, Boomtown Fair and End of the Road.

    While it was a project that caught the medias attention, Bennister is focused not just on prevention but also on what to do once someone has been the victim of an attack, adding that she finds it increasingly important that we continue to work as a support system to help victims and guide them in their next steps after an assault.

    Glastonbury festival offered only a brief response to my questions on its strategies for preventing any attacks, directing me to a webpage where the advice was limited to keep with friends and avoid dark areas. But the festival drew praise this year for helping someone find their feet again after an assault. In a blogpost that racked up thousands of shares on Twitter, entitled An open letter to Glastonbury, from a victim, Laura Whitehurst detailed how the organisers of the festival had helped her to attend this years edition, after she was sexually assaulted by people she had planned to go with. As well as making special arrangements for her travel and camping, she was also given a letter that allowed her access to extra help from security if required. Ending her letter of thanks, she said that the organisers had made me feel like a survivor again.

    More
    More security training could be one of the solutions. Photograph: Ian Gavan/Getty Images

    Although cases such as this and the AIF campaign are moves in the right direction, there is still more to be done. There is definitely room for improvement, says Bennister. It is clear that proper security training needs to be the big push, but it is increasingly difficult to contact these companies, let alone get them to agree to more training. I think festival organisers are unsure what to suggest, so stay with friends and move if you feel uncomfortable are common solutions that may not be helpful in all situations.

    As for Stewart, she stresses that everyone has their part to play in making sure festivals are safe environments, founded on a culture of respect. I dont see this as a male or female issue issue, I see this as a human issue.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jul/25/music-festivals-sexual-assault-rape-safe

    Jane Austen teen author before her time

    Far from being the epitome of genteel propriety, her earliest fiction reveals an anarchic spirit with a disdain for authority to match any modern adolescent

    Teenagers had not yet been invented in the late 1780s, when the young Jane Austen began her authorial career. But the people she chose to write about in her earliest known fiction display all the classic traits of modern adolescents on the loose: showing off, binge drinking, stealing, violence, hysteria. There are intense friendships, wild love affairs and, not infrequently, utter contempt for the older generation.

    Austens Victorian biographers preferred to date her career from the appearance of her first novel, Sense and Sensibility, when she was 35. They shaped the image of her as a cheerful, if pious and solitary, writer who penned her works quietly and covertly at home under the pseudonym A Lady.

    But such an image is startlingly at odds with the riotous crime scene that is Austens teenage writing, produced to be enjoyed and performed by close family and friends. The early works remain to this day somewhat under the radar even of her biggest fans, partly because the first substantial collection did not appear in print until 1922, more than a century after her death.

    You can see why they might have been an embarrassment to Austens family; at first glance, these tales have little in common with her elegant later fiction. One heroine, Anna Parker, coolly announces in a letter to her friend that, having murdered her father and mother: I am now going to murder my Sister. All the characters are essentially motiveless: they feast, kill, insult and charge across estates and countryside with seeming impunity, armed with a stock of blithe compliments and self-regard (which is, often, enough to get away with anything).

    The young Jane did not entrust her secret crushes or private longings to a diary (as far as we know). Rather, her supremely confident early writings are directed outwards, narrating either an excess of action or the complete absence of it. We are told of the alcoholic hero of Jack and Alice, who doesnt appear in the story, that he never did anything worth mentioning. Another story announces, in passing, that tragedy is not worth reading. Theyre cartoonish and full of in-jokes; written by an author already anticipating the enjoyment of her friends and family.

    There are many references to the pulp fiction that was then devoured by the whole Austen clan and most likely by the male teenage boarders living with them, pupils of the cash-strapped Reverend George Austen. The young Jane joyously adopted its extravagances, cliches and improbabilities, using names like Laurina, Polydore and Jezalinda (her adult fiction restricts itself to solidly English names like George, Emma and Anne). There are bold sentiments, such as: It is my greatest boast that I have incurred the Displeasure of my Father! There are lurching coincidences of plot: Oh Heavens, (exclaimed I) is it possible that I should so unexpectedly be surrounded by my nearest Relations and Connections? These frantic mini-novels reveal how Austen used the genre fiction of her day to train herself in the parts and rules of novel writing: do characters need to be believable? Do their actions need motives? How unhinged and random can action be and still make sense?

    Schoolroom textbooks, another target, are dissected to expose the woeful limitations of education for girls at the time: a little geography, history and advice on household management. The spoof History of England, By a partial, prejudiced, & ignorant Historian is remarkable for its understanding of the notion that all history is interpreted, and written from bias of some kind. Austen was just 15 when she wrote the stories, following geographically ignorant characters on crazy journeys from Bedfordshire to Middlesex via south Wales. With their narcissistic disregard for moral codes, her characters reject the manuals of instruction that were the staple of girls education at the time. The young Jane was leading a battalion of unruly teenage girls in open contention with the models of the Georgian classroom.

    Austen was a teenager in the same years that Mary Wollstonecraft was linking female education to the pressing need for political reform. In her 1792 story Kitty, or the Bower, the 16-year-old Jane wrote about social and sexual politics with a candour she would never again match. Kitty Peterson, her young heroine, could easily be mistaken for Wollstonecraft herself in full flow: But do you call it lucky, for a Girl of Genius & Feeling to be sent in quest of a Husband to Bengal, to be married there to a Man of whose Disposition she has no opportunity of judging till her Judgement is of no use to her, who may be a Tyrant, or a Fool or both for what she knows to the Contrary. Do you call that fortunate?

    The clever, funny stories that make up the teenage writings are a dramatic counter to the disciplined, psychological realism that Austen developed in her adult fiction. But traces of their freakishness and wit survive: in Sense and Sensibility, when Elinor Dashwood requests a stiff drink in the face of her sister Mariannes hysterics (If you will give me leave, I will drink the wine myself); or in Elizabeth Bennets unladylike energy in Pride and Prejudice, crossing field after field at a quick pace, jumping over stiles and springing over puddles on her way to Netherfield Park. It is at such moments that the voice of a young troublemaker returns to make herself heard.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jul/18/jane-austen-teen-author-before-her-time