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They may not be the most exciting thing in a closet, but a good pair of black skinny jeans is a wardrobe essential that I can’t imagine life without. This was made much more apparent to me recently when I got rid of my trusted pair of black skinnies that I’d worn for years and were definitely past their prime. Only once this key piece was missing from my closet did I realize just how important it was that I invest in a new pair. (You really don’t know a good thing until it’s gone, amirite?) I have L.A. style, after all, so I wear denim pretty much every day, and a black, skinny option was very noticeably absent after only a few weeks.

Alas, I set out on the most daunting quest of them all: denim shopping. Nothing gives me a headache quite like the glare of fluorescent dressing room lighting, but I wanted to make sure I weighed all my options before deciding on a new pair. Since virtually every brand under the sun makes a basic black skinny, I had many options to choose from. To save all of you the same headache (and unflattering dressing room lighting), I’m here to share my tips on how to find the best black skinny jeans. I tried on a total of 19 pairs between in-store and online orders, but there were only seven true winners that I would feel 100% confident replacing my old pair with. The brands I didn’t like shall remain nameless, but the ones I did are going to get a huge shout-out momentarily. Below, my seven holy-grail pairs and why I feel so strongly about them. Plus, some poorly lit fitting-room selfies for your entertainment.

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It’s been a busy month for the British royals. As everyone knows, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced the birth of their son, Archie, while Kate Middleton has been keeping a full schedule of events. Last week, she wore a very nautical look to celebrate the King’s Cup Regatta, and now she’s traded stripes for polka dots. The Duchess of Cambridge was on hand to view a new D-Day exhibition in Bletchley, England, the home of the famous UK codebreakers during WWII.

Middleton wore the very same Alessandra Rich dress that Abigail Spencer, Meghan Markle’s Suits co-star, wore to the royal wedding alongside Priyanka Chopra last May. (By the way, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding anniversary is on May 19. Can you believe it’s been a year?) We certainly can’t blame both women for choosing the stylish dress, especially considering Alessandra Rich is one of the chicest London-based designers out there. Scroll down to see how Kate Middleton and Abigail Spencer have worn the dress, and shop similar pieces for yourself.

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Welcome to The Green Scene. Every week, we’re highlighting the designers and brands working to make the world of fashion and beauty a greener, more sustainable place. The brands to support are the ones making a difference; check back every Tuesday to meet your new favorites.

The fashion industry is destructive to our planet in a number of ways—from the contamination of our waters from factory run-off to the toxic pesticides used to grow cotton and other textile crops. But one of the main culprits is the alarming amount of clothing that ends up in landfills each year, mostly created from synthetic materials that take hundreds of years to biodegrade. And much of that can be attributed to the ever-changing trend cycles, and just how quickly fast fashion retailers are churning out cheaply made (and unsustainable) items to follow said trends. Breaking this trend cycle is exactly what new sustainable label Eye to Eye is hoping to do.

Eye to Eye was founded by two fashion vets—Erica Kiang and Mina You—who have seen the ins and outs of the industry, especially within fast fashion. Rather than churn out cheap versions of runway trends that end up in landfills as quickly as a season ends, the two wanted to start Eye to Eye as a more honest and clean way to approach fashion, creating quality, eco-conscious clothing that goes beyond trends.

Photo courtesy of Eye to Eye

For its first collection for Spring 2019, the two drew inspiration from the empowering women they admire—from family members to legends both historical and current. Amongst its assortment of breezy sundresses, crop tops, skirts suits and sets, are: a top inspired—and named after—sustainable fashion pioneer Eileen Fisher; a dress named after Kiang’s grandmother, a multilingual Surinamese immigrant who became one of the first women to attend NYU; and a pair of shorts named after 1960s singer and women’s rights activist Melanie Safka.

In terms of its eco-friendly practices, Eye to Eye uses sustainable materials to create its timeless pieces. For its first collection, 90 percent of materials used are sustainable, though the two are planning to continuously improve. “Next season will be 100 percent,” says Kiang. “We always look for sustainable fabric that also feels nice, which can be challenging.”

However, to Kiang and You, it’s more than just using eco-friendly textiles that makes a brand sustainable—it’s creating pieces you can get the most use out of because they are built to last. “We design pieces that can be worn for many different occasions and not go out of trend quickly,” says Kiang. “We believe our customer will constantly be able to incorporate their Eye to Eye pieces in their wardrobe for a long time to come.” That’s why they design with minimalism in mind, so that they don’t “go out of style” anytime soon.

“I think the days of fast fashion and this constant, rampant consumption are numbered. My generation and younger millennials are changing the way we buy, and they’re speaking with their money.”

Still, the duo’s interpretation of minimalism is certainly not drab. Cropped blazers and tie-front jumpsuits still allow for timelessness, but with an edge. Oh, and there’s plenty of slime green featured throughout the collection.

While Kiang and You have a minimal aesthetic in mind when designing, they also heavily rely on feedback from customers to create the pieces that they want. “If someone returns something, I send a personal email to ask if they can provide feedback, which I always make note of and incorporate,” says Kiang. “We know we won’t always get it right, and we are always willing to listen. And with support and respect, we will get there. Our focus always lies on how we can get better and improve.” This, of course, all ties back to sustainability: If Eye to Eye is creating what their mindful customer is wanting, it’s less likely that these pieces will end up in a landfill.

But what makes Eye to Eye a unique player in the sustainable fashion game is its accessibility. Many eco brands are sold at higher price points (rightfully so, due to the cost of manufacturing something sustainably), but not all of the consumers wanting to shop sustainable fashion are able to invest in higher-priced goods. Eye to Eye’s collection ranges from $55 for a pair of trousers up to $152 for a jumpsuit, with numerous dresses and separates priced in between—making eco-friendly fashion available to a wider customer base.

Photo courtesy of Eye to Eye

Overall, Kiang feels that times are changing—millennials and younger generations are increasingly mindful when they shop. “I think it’s the new normal,” says Kiang. “I think the days of fast fashion and this constant, rampant consumption are numbered. My generation and younger millennials are changing the way we buy, and they’re speaking with their money. It’s no longer about what’s cheapest; I think people are asking themselves, What am I eating? What am I buying? What am I wearing, and what is its impact? I’m not saying they’re buying the most expensive thing, but it’s clear that consumption has become more about quality and value.”

You can shop Eye to Eye’s full offering at ShopEyeToEye.com.

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The Financial Times has reported that the attack was developed by Israeli security firm NSO Group. It involved attackers using WhatsApp’s voice calling function to ring a target’s device. Even if the call went unanswered, the surveillance software would be installed and, according to the FT report, would often disappear from the call list.

WhatsApp – which is owned by Facebook – told the BBC that the attack was detected by its security team. They then shared the information with human rights groups, security vendors and the US Department of Justice earlier this month.

“The attack has all the hallmarks of a private company reportedly that works with governments to deliver spyware that takes over the functions of mobile phone operating systems,” WhatsApp said in a briefing document note. They also said that it was too early to know how many users had been targeted.

Amnesty International, which said it had been targeted by tools created by the NSO Group in the past, said this attack was one human rights groups had long feared was possible.

But NSO Group responded to report, saying: “Under no circumstances would NSO be involved in the operating or identifying of targets of its technology, which is solely operated by intelligence and law enforcement agencies. NSO would not, or could not, use its technology in its own right to target any person or organization, including this individual.”

Just for peace of mind, it might be a good idea to make that quick update. 

Image: Getty

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Lenovo, the world’s largest shipper of PCs, is hopping aboard the foldable train.

During the Lenovo Accelerate conference today in Orlando, Florida, the company gave attendees an early look at its upcoming foldable-display laptop. The still-to-be-named product will be a part of Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 line of laptops, and the company says it envisions this as a clear laptop replacement, not a supplemental device.

The foldable PC has a 13.3-inch diagonal display, with a 4 by 3 aspect ratio, when it’s in full-screen mode. When it’s folded, it turns into a 9.6-inch display. Like Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, it has an OLED display with a polymer screen. Unlike Samsung’s foldable, this one will be made by LG Display.

Lenovo says it envisions a handful of different use cases for this foldable ThinkPad, which uses a torque hinge. One of the challenges with building a foldable-display PC, as opposed to a foldable phone, is that users will be looking for adequate keyboard solutions. With this device you can use it as a clamshell laptop, but the default keyboard is an on-display, touchscreen keyboard. You can also use it as a two-in-one, where you prop it up as a tablet and then use a Bluetooth keyboard. You can use it as a large tablet, or slightly folded like a book.

Another design element that Lenovo had to consider was the battery. It couldn’t just split into two, because that would make the top of the laptop too heavy when it’s in use as a clamshell. The current prototype has a battery in one side only, so there’s a distinct top and bottom to the device.

Lenovo is clearly emphasizing productivity here: It’s a ThinkPad, it’s aimed at business users and road warriors, and it will run Windows. It will also be powered by an Intel processor, though Lenovo hasn’t specified which one it will be, and will work with Wacom styluses.

The foldable PC has been in the works for more than three years now. Lenovo says that since it has to uphold the same standards of ruggedness as the staid, formidable ThinkPad line, it’s putting the foldable through extra testing cycles (especially the hinge). Pricing hasn’t been shared, nor ship date. But Lenovo is targeting the first half of 2020. Our early predictions for CES 2020: Foldables. Lots of foldables.

Lenovo’s big reveal comes right after Samsung’s foldable fiasco. The company’s Galaxy Fold, which was supposed to go on sale at the end of April, has suffered a foldable failure-to-launch after early reviews revealed serious issues with the display on the $1,980 phone. Samsung has since said that if it doesn’t ship the phone by May 31, it would cancel preorders.

Huawei, the second biggest maker of smartphones in the world behind Samsung, is also readying a foldable phone—one that’s supposed to bend backward rather than fold together, so that both sides of the Huawei folded phone are made up of a display. Motorola, which is part of Lenovo, plans to ship a foldable Razr phone “no later than everyone else in the market,” a company executive told Engadget. And last week during the Google I/O keynote presentation, Android senior director Stephanie Saad Cuthbertson said that multiple hardware makers will launch foldable devices this year.

So foldable displays are no doubt a thing in consumer technology right now. Lenovo has the distinction of showing off something that’s designed to be a laptop, folded into something like a tablet or a “book.” But, as WIRED’s Lousie Matsakis has reported, Samsung’s problems could plague foldables in general. In that case, Lenovo may also be wise to set its foldable sights on 2020, rather than rushing something out this year.


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Diego Garcia: U.S. military’s “unsinkable carrier” springs a leak

The recent decision by the Hague-based International Court of Justice that the Chagos Islands—with its huge U.S. military base at Diego Garcia—are being illegally occupied by the United Kingdom (UK) has the potential to upend the strategic plans of a dozen regional capitals, ranging from Beijing to Riyadh.

For a tiny speck of land measuring only 38 miles in length, Diego Garcia casts a long shadow. Sometimes called Washington’s “unsinkable aircraft carrier,” planes and warships based on the island played an essential role in the first and second Gulf wars, the invasion of Afghanistan and the war in Libya. Its strategic location between Africa and Indonesia and 1,000 miles south of India, gives the U.S. access to the Middle East, Central and South Asia and the vast Indian Ocean. No oil tanker, no warship, no aircraft can move without its knowledge.

Most Americans have never heard of Diego Garcia for a good reason: no journalist has been allowed there for more than 30 years and the Pentagon keeps the base wrapped in a cocoon of national security. Indeed, the UK leased the base to the Americans in 1966 without informing either the British Parliament or the U.S. Congress.

The Feb. 25 Court decision has put a dent in all that by deciding that Great Britain violated United Nations Resolution 1514 prohibiting the division of colonies before independence. The UK broke the Chagos Islands off from Mauritius, a former colony on the southeast coast of Africa that Britain decolonized in 1968. At the time, Mauritius objected, reluctantly agreeing only after Britain threatened to withdraw its offer of independence.

The Court ruled 13-1 that the UK had engaged in a “wrongful act” and must decolonize the Chagos “as rapidly as possible.”

While the ruling is only “advisory,” it comes at a time when the U.S. and its allies are confronting or sanctioning countries for supposedly illegal occupations—Russia in the Crimea and China in the South China Sea.

The suit was brought by Mauritius and some of the 1500 Chagos islanders, who were forcibly removed from the archipelago in 1973. The Americans, calling it “sanitizing” the islands, moved the Chagossians more than 1,000 miles to Mauritius and the Seychelles, where they have languished in poverty ever since.

Diego Garcia is the lynchpin for U.S. strategy in the region. With its enormous runways, it can handle B-52, B-1 and B-2 bombers and huge C-5M, C-17 and C-130 military cargo planes. The lagoon has been transformed into a naval harbor that can handle an aircraft carrier. The U.S. has built a city—replete with fast food outlets, bars, golf courses, and bowling alleys—that hosts some 3,000 to 5,000 military personnel and civilian contractors.

What you can’t find are any native Chagossians

The Indian Ocean has become a major theater of competition between India, the U.S., and Japan on one side, and the growing presence of China on the other. Tensions have flared between India and China over the Maldives and Sri Lanka, specifically China’s efforts to use ports on those island nations. India recently joined with Japan and the U.S. in a war game—Malabar 18—that modeled shutting down the strategic Malacca Straits between Sumatra and Malaysia, through which some 80 percent of China’s energy supplies pass each year.

A portion of the exercise involved anti-submarine warfare aimed at detecting Chinese submarines moving from the South China Sea into the Indian Ocean. To Beijing, those submarines are essential for protecting the ring of Chinese-friendly ports that run from southern China to Port Sudan on the east coast of Africa. Much of China’s oil and gas supplies are vulnerable because they transit the narrow Mandeb Strait that guards the entrance to the Red Sea and the Strait of Hormuz that oversees access to the oil-rich Persian Gulf. The U.S. 5th Fleet controls both straits.

Tensions in the region have increased since the Trump administration shifted the focus of U.S. national security from terrorism to “major power competition”—that is, China and Russia. The U.S. accuses China of muscling its way into the Indian Ocean by taking over ports, like Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Gwadar in Pakistan that are capable of hosting Chinese warships.

India, which has its own issues with China dating back to their 1962 border war, is ramping up its anti-submarine forces and building up its deep-water navy. New Delhi also recently added a long-range Agni-V missile that is designed to strike deep into China, and the rightwing government of Narendra Mori is increasingly chummy with the American military. The Americans even changed their regional military organization from “Pacific Command” to “Indo-Pacific Command” in deference to New Delhi.

The term for these Chinese friendly ports—“string of pearls”—was coined by Pentagon contractor Booz Allen Hamilton and, as such, should be taken with a grain of salt. China is indeed trying to secure its energy supplies and also sees the ports as part of its worldwide Road and Belt Initiative trade strategy. But assuming the “pearls” have a military role, akin to 19th century colonial coaling stations, is a stretch. Most of the ports would be indefensible if a war broke out.

Diego Garcia is central to the U.S.’s war in Somalia, its air attacks in Iraq and Syria, and its control of the Persian Gulf, and would be essential in any conflict with Iran. If the current hostility by Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the U.S. toward Iran actually translates into war, the island will quite literally be an unsinkable aircraft carrier.

   Protesters hold a placard and banners outside the World Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Sept. 3, 2018. Judges at the United Nations’ highest court were listening to arguments in a case focused on whether Britain illegally maintains sovereignty over the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean, including Diego Garcia, where the United States has a major military base. | Mike Corder/AP

Given the strategic centrality of Diego Garcia, it is hard to imagine the U.S. giving it up, or, rather, the British withdrawing their agreement with Washington and de-colonizing the Chagos Islands. In 2016, London extended the Americans’ lease for 20 years.

Mauritius wants the Chagos back, but at this point doesn’t object to the base. It certainly wants a bigger rent check and the right eventually to take the island group back. It also wants more control over what goes on at Diego Garcia. For instance, the British government admitted that the Americans were using the island to transit “extraordinary renditions,” people seized during the Afghan and Iraq wars between 2002 and 2003, many of whom were tortured. Torture is a violation of international law.

As for the Chagossians, they want to go back

Diego Garcia is immensely important for U.S. military and intelligence operations in the region, but it is just one of some 800 American military bases on every continent except Antarctica. Those bases form a worldwide network that allows the U.S. military to deploy advisors and Special Forces in some 177 countries across the globe. Those forces create tensions that can turn dangerous at a moment’s notice.

For instance, there are currently U.S. military personnel in virtually every country surrounding Russia: Norway, Poland, Hungary, Kosovo, Romania, Turkey, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Georgia, Ukraine, and Bulgaria. Added to that is the Mediterranean’s 6th Fleet, which regularly sends warships into the Black Sea.

Much the same can be said for China. U.S. military forces are deployed in South Korea, Japan, and Australia, plus numerous islands in the Pacific. The American 7th fleet, based in Hawaii and Yokohama, is the Navy’s largest.

In late March, U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships transited the Taiwan Straits, which, while international waters, the Chinese consider an unnecessary provocation. British ships have also sailed close to Chinese-occupied reefs and islands in the South China Sea.

The fight to de-colonize the Chagos Islands will now move to the UN General Assembly. In the end, Britain may ignore the General Assembly and the Court, but it will be hard pressed to make a credible case for doing so. How Great Britain can argue for international law in the Crimea and South China Sea, while ignoring the International Court of Justice on the Chagos, will require some fancy footwork.

In the meantime, Mauritius Prime Minister Pravard Jugnauth calls the Court decision “historic,” and one that will eventually allow the 6,000 native Chagossians and their descendants “to return home.”

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CONTRIBUTOR

Conn Hallinan

Conn Hallinan

Conn Hallinan is a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus. A retired journalism professor, he previously was an editor of People’s World when it was a West Coast publication.


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Cinq personnes ont été arrêtées mardi à Strasbourg, dans le cadre de l’enquête sur l’attentat jihadiste du marché de Noël.

Trois hommes et deux femmes ont été arrêtés mardi à Strasbourg dans l’enquête sur l’attentat jihadiste du marché de Noël, qui avait fait cinq morts et onze blessés le 11 décembre, a-t-on appris de source judiciaire.

Ces arrestations sont intervenues “dans le cadre des vérifications liées aux armes détenues par Chérif Chekatt”, l’auteur de l’attentat abattu par une patrouille de police après deux jours de traque, a précisé une source proche du dossier, confirmant une information du Parisien-Aujourd’hui en France.

Ces cinq personnes, âgées de 23 à 46 ans, ont été interpellées sur commission rogatoire des juges d’instruction en charge de l’enquête ouverte à la suite de l’attentat, a souligné la source judiciaire.

Le matin même de son équipée meurtrière dans le centre historique de la capitale alsacienne, les gendarmes avaient saisi chez Chérif Chekatt une grenade défensive, un revolver de calibre .22 Long Rifle chargé, des munitions et quatre couteaux.

Quatre hommes déjà mis en examen

Début février, trois hommes, soupçonnés d’être liés à la fourniture du revolver du XIXe siècle dont s’est servi Chérif Chekatt au cours de son attaque, avaient été mis en examen par un juge d’instruction à Paris pour “détention et cession d’arme de catégorie B en réunion et en relation avec une entreprise terroriste”, ainsi que pour “association de malfaiteurs terroriste criminelle” et placés en détention provisoire.

Le 17 décembre, un autre homme avait également été mis en examen pour les mêmes chefs et écroué.

Chérif Chekatt, délinquant multirécidiviste de 29 ans et fiché S pour radicalisation islamiste, avait prêté allégeance à l’organisation Etat islamique (EI), selon une vidéo trouvée par les enquêteurs français sur une clé USB.

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