We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—Verily’s quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Races are heating up as midterm elections loom
The economy is top of mind for voters as the 2022 midterm elections loom. The elections happen on Tuesday, November 8, this year, and more than 30 states will vote on their governors, while the results will also determine whether the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate will remain under Democratic control or whether a “red wave” will give power to the Republicans. All 435 House seats and 30 of 100 Senate seats are up for grabs, and the most contested Senate seats are in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
In Arizona, incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly faces Trump-backed Republican Blake Masters. In 2020, Kelly won a special election to fill the Senate seat after the death of Sen. John McCain. Kelly, a former astronaut, has appealed to the border state voters by criticizing his party’s handling of immigration; Masters, a venture capitalist, flip-flopped on his abortion platform after the Republican primary to appear more moderate and has toned down his support for former President Donald Trump’s claims of election fraud.
In Georgia’s scandal-ridden race, incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock defends his seat against Herschel Walker, former professional football player and Heisman Trophy winner. Walker, who has Trump’s support, has faced accusations that he once paid for two women’s abortions, despite now running on a pro-life platform. Warnock, a pastor, has been accused of abusing his ex-wife and failing to pay child support.
In Nevada, incumbent Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto holds a mere one-point lead over Trump-backed challenger Adam Laxalt. Like the other Senate races, their contest has become a proxy war for Democrat and Republican positions on inflation and abortion.
In Ohio, Democrat Tim Ryan and Republican J.D. Vance vie for a retiring Republican’s seat. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy author and Trump-backed populist candidate, has the advantage in a state that Trump won by 8 points. But Ryan has positioned himself as a moderate, even coming out against late-term abortions, something many Democratic candidates have recently refused to do.
Last but certainly not least, Pennsylvania hosts perhaps this year’s most closely watched Senate race: the contest between Democrat John Fetterman, the state’s former lieutenant governor, and Dr. Mehmet Oz, Oprah Winfrey Show star-turned Trump-backed Republican candidate. Fetterman, who suffered a stroke this spring from which he hasn’t fully recovered, has sparked a debate over his fitness for office. Democrats have criticized Oz for his pro-life platform and comments during a debate that the issue of abortion should be between “women, doctors, [and] local political leaders.”
Abortion will also be a big issue this election, with several states weighing constitutional amendments or ballot initiatives on the issue. States to look out for are California, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, and Vermont.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden gave a speech decrying political violence and threats to democracy, saying that the faction of pro-Trump Republicans “is trying to succeed where they failed in 2020: to suppress the right of voters and subvert the electoral system itself.”
If you want to find out what’s on the ballot where you live, you can get a sample ballot here, so you’re ready to go to the polls on Tuesday. —Madeline Fry Schultz
Selena Gomez gets vulnerable about mental health, fame in new Apple+ documentary
Selena Gomez shared a raw portrait of her mental health journey in her documentary Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me, which premiered Friday, November 4, on Apple TV+.
The documentary portrays Gomez’s struggle with mental illness, fame, and lupus. It begins right a Gomez canceled her 2016 Revival tour partway through due to a mental health crisis. The film drops off and then picks back up at different moments in the years following as she entered a mental health facility, had lupus flare-ups and through her bipolar disorder diagnosis.
Gomez has said that she is “genuinely proud” of the vulnerability she allows to be shown in the film but noted that it was challenging to rewatch some of her most difficult moments.
“The things I was watching from 2016, 2017, 2018 — I can’t believe I was that girl,” Gomez said in an interview with Vulture. “That breaks my heart. I’m grateful to be on the other side, but when I watched, for example, the first part of the film where I discuss my body— I don’t want to cry now, but I was completely upset with myself. I couldn’t believe the things I was aspiring to be. Which really aren’t possible unless you have a lot of money and you’re willing to spend it to do that to yourself. It really broke my heart.”
Gomez has long been open about her various struggles with body image, illness and fame, but she has said she hopes the documentary helps other people and impacts their own journey once they see how far she has come in her own story. —Gabriella Patti
Nancy Pelosi’s husband attacked in their home
An attacker broke into Nancy and Paul Pelosi’s San Francisco home last week, allegedly asking, “Where’s Nancy?” before hitting her husband, Paul, in the head with a hammer. Paul spent the next six days in the hospital with a fractured skull.
The suspect has been identified as 42-year-old David DePape, an illegal immigrant from Canada who has been charged with “one count of assault of an immediate family member of a United States official with the intent to retaliate against the official on account of the performance of official duties, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison,” per the Justice Department.
DePape was also charged with “one count of attempted kidnapping of a United States official on account of the performance of official duties, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.”
That the husband of the speaker of the house was the subject of the attack was apparently no accident. According to the Washington Post, “DePape allegedly told police he was on a ‘suicide mission’ and had created a target list of state and federal politicians in his quest to quash ‘lies’ coming out of Washington.”
In the early morning hours on October 28, DePape allegedly broke a glass door to break into the Pelosis’ home, finding Paul asleep in his bed and waking him up, asking, “Are you Paul Pelosi?” Paul was able to call 911, after which he and DePape allegedly engaged in a scuffle, with Paul trying to grab the hammer in the attacker’s hands as police showed up at the front door. Before they could enter, the suspect struck Paul on the head with the hammer, leaving him unconscious as the two officers entered, disarming the attacker.
In a speech on Wednesday, President Joe Biden condemned the attack as an instance of political violence, saying, “We must, with one overwhelming unified voice, speak as a country and say there’s no place, no place for voter intimidation or political violence in America, whether it’s directed at Democrats or Republicans.” —MFS
Taylor Swift sweeps the Billboard charts
It seems that Taylor Swift has all of us rooting for the anti-hero. After releasing her latest album, Midnights, last month, Swift became the first artist to fill the top 10 songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 entirely with her music. “10 out of 10 of the Hot 100??? On my 10th album??? I AM IN SHAMBLES,” she tweeted. Previously, Drake was the only artist to come close with nine songs in the top 10 in a single week. Swift also broke records previously held by Drake and The Beatles, with the most titles topping the Hot 100 in a single week.
Swift’s top songs were “Anti-Hero,” “Lavender Haze,” and “Maroon,” each getting more than 37 million streams. (“Anti-Hero” got nearly 60 million.) The album overall had “the biggest week for any release in seven years,” according to Billboard, and it even broke Spotify’s record for the most-streamed album in a single day (also helping make Swift the streaming service’s most-streamed artist in a single day).
Part of the reason for Midnights’ success might be its relatability. As Emily Lehman writes for Verily: “Midnights is a synth-laden, listenable, complex record, full of the kind of descriptions of the feminine experience that only Taylor Swift can pull off: ‘I search the party of better bodies just to find that my dreams aren’t rare.’ She confesses the vulnerability that comes with femininity while also emphasizing feminine strength. While her last pop venture, Lover, went for attention-grabby hot-button issues, Swift shoots in this album for targets we know she can hit—defending feminism, owning her haters, and acknowledging her insecurities.” —MFS
Julie Powell, author of ‘Julie & Julia,’ dies
Julie Powell, the best-selling author whose story became famous thanks to the movie adaption of her book Julie & Julia (starring Meryl Streep as Julia Child and Amy Adams as Powell), died at 49 of sudden cardiac arrest.
Powell began to chronicle her attempt to prepare every recipe in Julia Child’s cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in the early 2000s. What started as a small blog on Salon.com grew in popularity and soon led Powell to publish the memoir: Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen.
Her memoir was made into a film directed by Nora Ephron in 2009. Powell went on to write another book and, earlier this year wrote several commentary pieces for Salon about the Food Network series, “The Julia Child Challenge.”
“Julia taught me what it takes to find your way in the world. It’s not what I thought it was,” Powell wrote in her book. “I thought it was all about — I don’t know, confidence or will or luck. Those are all some good things to have, no question. But there’s something else, something that these things grow out of. It’s joy.” —GP
Good News of the Week
On Tuesday, November 1, people gathered to participate in Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and honor loved ones who have passed with ofrendas (altars) filled with pictures of their loved ones, candles, flowers, and food.
At a Dia de Los Muertos event in Salt Lake City, hundreds of people came together to try to establish a new Guinness World Record for the most pictures of loved ones on a Dia de Los Muertos ofrenda.
The altar, organized by the non-profit Una Mano Amiga, held over 1,205 photographs of deceased loved ones.
“It’s beautiful to see. As I see the audience, there’s people from all over the world,” Marla Love, founder of Arte Primero and one of the event’s organizers, said. “Day of the Dead, yes, is a Mexican holiday. But Day of the Dead is a celebration of people who have died, and the pain of losing someone is universal.”
Love explained that death is not something to be feared in Mexican culture and that Dia de Los Muertos is “a happy celebration.”
The celebration was acknowledged by Utah state leaders, including state senator Luz Escamilla.
“You see these beautiful children here today embracing history and culture and family and loved ones,” Escamilla said. “The vast amount of images here reflect all of us.” —GP
Watch of the Week
Watch the trailer for Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me, now streaming on Apple TV+.
Miss last week’s WYWO? Check it out here.