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This week:

Sex ed is changing across the United States, a writer pays tribute to Toni Morrison, and “Veep’s” Anna Chlumsky discusses today’s politics.

After documents are released, Jeffrey Epstein dies by apparent suicide in jail

Politically connected financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was charged with sexually abusing dozens of girls in the early 2000s, was found dead in an “apparent suicide” on Saturday morning, according to the Bureau of Prisons and Attorney General William P. Barr. Epstein’s death — he apparently hanged himself in his Manhattan prison cell — set off multiple investigations into what happened, including by the FBI, the Justice Department’s inspector general and the New York City medical examiner.

The news sparked outrage among victims who hoped to confront him in court. Because Epstein is dead, the criminal case against him is over, The Washington Post reports. However, investigators may now turn to others who were accused of being involved with the sex-trafficking activities, Paul Butler, a professor of law at Georgetown University, told The Post. Attorneys representing some of the women alleging abuse said they will continue to seek justice.

“Epstein is gone, but justice must still be served,” said Jennifer Araoz, one of the women who accused Epstein of abuse.

The death came just a day after documents from a now-settled defamation case brought by one alleged victim, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, against a woman she said recruited her, were unsealed. The documents depicted an organized system to regularly provide Epstein with girls, mainly organized by Ghislaine Maxwell, one of his associates. Giuffre has said she was recruited by Maxwell when she was 16 or 17 and working at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s club in Palm Beach, Fla. In the court documents, Giuffre also named a number of prominent men she claimed to have had sex with at Maxwell’s instructions, including Britain’s Prince Andrew, former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson (D) and former Senate majority leader George J. Mitchell (D-Maine).

Quick hits

Today’s featured news.

The changing landscape of sex ed policies

(iStock; Lily illustration)
(iStock; Lily illustration)

A number of states — even red ones — are considering liberalized sexual education policies, according to a report from NBC News. So far in 2019, at least 79 bills revising sex ed policies have been introduced in the legislatures of 32 states and the District of Columbia, a Guttmacher Institute study found, and most of those bills have been aimed at expanding education around healthy sexuality and relationships or reducing abstinence-only education. While sweeping bills have passed in liberal states such as California, lawmakers in conservative states, including Tennessee and Utah, have also been passing bills aimed at expanding awareness around sexual violence and contraception.

For the first time, video game NBA 2K will include the WNBA

Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks. (Katharine Lotze/Getty; iStock; Lily illustration)
Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks. (Katharine Lotze/Getty; iStock; Lily illustration)

It was officially announced that the WNBA is coming to NBA 2K20, a video game that simulates professional basketball games. Although the NBA 2K franchise has been around since 1999, NBA 2K20, which will be released in September, is the first version of the game to include women players.

Lily contributor Claire Breen went behind the scenes at the 2K Motion Capture Studio in Petaluma, Calif., as WNBA stars Candace Parker and Breanna Stewart were motion captured to assist in creating virtual versions of themselves for the game. Read the full story here.

Gender stereotypes may affect pro-environmental actions, study finds

(iStock; Lily illustration)
(iStock; Lily illustration)

July was the hottest month on record, and scientists are warning that this effect of climate change poses a serious risk to people’s lives. New research published in the journal Sex Roles looked at environmental issues from a gendered standpoint: The study found that participants were less likely to ascribe masculine traits to a person engaging in stereotypical feminine pro-environmental behaviors (such as recycling) than to a person engaging in masculine pro-environmental behaviors (such as keeping car tires at the proper pressure). In contrast, gendered pro-environmental behaviors did not influence feminine trait ratings.

Sexual orientation was also implicated; study participants rated individuals who engaged in green behaviors associated with the opposite sex as “less likely to be heterosexual,” the researchers wrote, “suggesting that people were questioning targets’ heterosexual identity.” As Pacific Standard magazine points out, the research could help inform how environmental organizations go about recruiting people — they may be more successful if they offer a mix of traditionally masculine and traditionally feminine projects, and then let volunteers choose their tasks.

Cyntoia Brown released from prison after being granted clemency

Cyntoia Brown. (Lacy Atkins/The Tennessean/AP; Lily illustration)
Cyntoia Brown. (Lacy Atkins/The Tennessean/AP; Lily illustration)

Cyntoia Brown, an alleged sex trafficking victim who was sentenced to life for murder at 16, was released from state prison Wednesday after serving 15 years. Earlier this year, then-Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) granted full clemency to Brown for the 2004 murder of a 43-year-old man who picked her up and took her to his home. Brown admitted to shooting the man, describing the crime as an act of self-defense. The case came to light in the fall of 2017 amid the #MeToo movement — activists said it was an example of unjust incarceration of children and victims of sex trafficking.

“I am thankful for all the support, prayers and encouragement I have received,” Brown said in a statement read by her attorneys at a news conference after Haslam commuted her sentence. “We truly serve a God of second chances and new beginnings.”


Remembering a history-making woman.

A writer reflects on how Toni Morrison was ‘a sort of mother’ to her

Toni Morrison. (Philippe Wojazer/Reuters; iStock; Lily illustration)
Toni Morrison. (Philippe Wojazer/Reuters; iStock; Lily illustration)

Last week, when novelist Toni Morrison’s death was announced, the outpouring of grief and praise from fellow writers and readers was palpable. Morrison, who died Aug. 5 at 88, was the first black woman to win the Nobel Prize in literature. Her novels placed black women at the heart of her writing, and her language was celebrated for its lyricism. Writer Nadia Owusu, the recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award, wrote about the personal impact Morrison had on her: After her mother left when she was 2 and her father died when she was 14, she found wisdom, protection and instruction in Morrison’s words. Read Owusu’s full tribute here.


Four need-to-know stories in 100 words or less.

1. A spate of celebrities said they would boycott luxury gym Equinox and cycling studio SoulCycle after The Washington Post reported that Stephen Ross, whose assets include the two fitness companies, is throwing a fundraiser for President Trump’s 2020 campaign. In a statement Wednesday, Equinox and SoulCycle said they don’t have “anything to do with the event later this week and do not support it.”

2. In a landslide vote, New Zealand’s parliament advanced a bill, introduced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, that would decriminalize abortion in the country.

3. Ahead of the U.S. gymnastics championships in Kansas City, Mo., Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles berated USA Gymnastics for failing to take action against former team doctor Larry Nassar, who abused Biles and hundreds of other gymnasts. During the championships, Biles made history by landing a double-twisting, double somersault dismount from the balance beam.

4. Following two deadly mass shootings last weekend, many outlets pointed out that a common thread between many mass shooters is misogyny — a history of posting misogynistic comments online or assaulting wives, girlfriends and female family members.

A quick Q&A

This week, we hear from Anna Chlumsky.

Anna Chlumsky. (Eric Hobbs)
Anna Chlumsky. (Eric Hobbs)

Actress Anna Chlumsky is best known for her role on “Veep.” She plays Amy Brookheimer, the ultra-loyal and hardworking chief of staff to vice president Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Earlier this summer, Chlumsky was nominated for a sixth consecutive Emmy for the role. In May, the show aired its final episode; as for what’s next, Chlumsky says she wants to “honor” where she is in her career and be judicious about future projects.

Her most memorable moment on the “Veep” set: “I know everyone says this when they wrap, but that last week … it was the biggest sharing of an experience with so many people. I’m a big hugger, I love hugging, and I don’t mind crying. Filming that last episode will always be etched into my heart, because it was just so profound. I really just let it all hang out.”

On why the finale is her favorite episode of the show: “I love the whole arc — specifically for Amy, I love when she made her decision and had her abortion, and to see the close of her and Dan. … And then right away, for her to have this sort of Shakti — I think it’s Shakti who’s this goddess who destroys the world — to see her kind of decide that she’s going to win at all costs. It was absolutely gratifying to explore being that type of woman.”

On how much she follows politics: “I definitely pay attention, I definitely have my thoughts. I studied international relations as an undergrad, so like, yeah, the second when this president was calling for NATO to be dismantled, I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ … But I think when people get so wrapped up in the warfare of party politics, we see how dangerous that can be for the actual policy.”

On celebrities’ role in weighing in on politics today: “I think we used to have a luxury where we didn’t feel like we had to. Now, I feel like we don’t have the luxury.”

Lily Likes

Things we love but weren’t paid to promote.

I can’t do heels anymore, but as a short person, I love the height I get from these sandals with the comfort of a flat. I particularly like the white ones. They’re waterproof and easy to clean. You’ll be sure to get compliments on them at work all day — wear them with your best athleisure work outfit.

Maya Sugarman, Lily video editor


[bye-koo] Saying goodbye with a haiku.

*Have an idea for a news-inspired baiku? Send us your creation at lily [at] washpost [dot] com, and you might see it in the next Lily Lines. We follow 5-7-5.

This newsletter was made while listening to:

“Watch” by Billie Eilish and “La Femme Fetal” by Digable Planets.

Listen to everything we’ve recommended here.

P.S. …

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