Critic’s Notebook: Two SoundCloud Rap Outlaws Push Boundaries From the Fringes

In another era, this information might have been enough to derail these artists’ careers before they gained any traction. But hip-hop’s outlaw mythology has always been strong; because of that, among other reasons, the self-cleaning of suspected abusers that has swept through other industries hasn’t yet taken hold in hip-hop.


XXXTentacion is expected to have next week’s No. 1 album. He recorded it while on house arrest awaiting trial.

Jack McKain

Also, for an artist to have his career derailed, someone has to say no. But thanks to the fluidity of the streaming ecosystem, the internet moves faster than any gatekeeper, and both XXXTentacion and 6ix9ine (formerly Tekashi69) have found success rapidly. “Look at Me,” XXXTentacion’s breakthrough, went to No. 34 on the Billboard Hot 100, the first of several hits. “Sad!,” from his new album, debuted even higher, at No. 17. 6ix9ine’s debut single “Gummo” went to No. 12, and three subsequent songs have cracked the top 50.

“DAY69,” which was released last month, made its debut at No. 4 on the Billboard album chart, and “?,” released last Friday, is expected to be next week’s No. 1.

So while both of these artists operate under heavy clouds of suspicion and distaste, they are finding wide and dedicated audiences. However, even in spite of some high-profile acknowledgments — both Kendrick Lamar and the Weeknd have posted about XXXTentacion on social media, and Young Thug, Offset and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie appear on “DAY69” — they haven’t been fully publicly embraced by the music industry. Instead, it is operating in the shadows for both artists: Billboard has reported that XXXTentacion is signed to Caroline, a division of Capitol Music Group, and 6ix9ine is signed to the label of Elliot Grainge, who is the son of Lucian, the chairman and chief executive of Universal Music Group.


“?” by XXXTentacion.


This de facto exile has ended up embedded into their creative process, though, pushing these artists to the fringes, where they are less bound by hip-hop’s conventions, or the needs of the music business. As a result, they have both made albums that break from the dominant sound in notable ways.

XXXTentacion, messianic and immature, recorded “?” while on house arrest awaiting trial. It is a chaotic album, ping-ponging between bawdy, punchy rapping and tender, lonely singing — a blend that goes back to his days posting loose tracks on SoundCloud. The best songs here are the most vulnerable, like “before I close my eyes,” on which he croons, “I hope it’s not too late for me,” embedding his public narrative into his creative identity.

Just as the music operates at polar extremes, so does XXXTentacion’s mood. Sometimes he is deeply petulant, like on the sticky “Sad!”; elsewhere, as on “Numb,” he’s self-lacerating. One song, “Hope,” is dedicated to the survivors of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting.

Both he and 6ix9ine engage with rap-rock in a sidelong fashion. XXXTentacion harks back to the late-2000s Warped Tour, when melodic hardcore and screamo began flirting with hip-hop, in terms of cadences and also production textures. 6ix9ine, on the other hand, is often more reminiscent of New York hardcore than New York hip-hop. When he’s at his most rap-adjacent, it’s in the spirit of the early Ruff Ryders era, one of hip-hop’s rowdiest and rawest moments. (He also nods to the fusion of the “Judgment Night” soundtrack and the horrorcore of the mid- to late 1990s — a one-man Family Values tour in the making.)

6ix9ine is a brute-force screamer, and “DAY69” is a rough gauntlet of gun and sex talk, invigorating and also deadening. As a rapper, 6ix9ine is a boxer — he thrives on rasp and repetition, as if constantly looking to pick a fistfight. Occasionally he incorporates a touch of wordplay — “I need all of mine, try to try me and it’s Columbine/Let that Ruger fly, automatic poppin’ at your guys/You gon’ lose a guy, ’tato on the barrel, give ’em fries” on “CHOCOLATÉ” — but mostly he’s landing one jab after the next.

For both artists, songs are short — around a 2:08 average for XXXTentacion (including interludes) and 2:28 for 6ix9ine — because their bursts of energy might not last another 90 seconds, and because there is little infrastructure in place to push them toward more conventional structures. (For what it’s worth, most pop songs are only interesting for about two minutes.) Many of XXXTentacion’s songs don’t feel like much more than demos, experiments that under other circumstances might be thickened up for broader appeal.

And both push back against naming conventions — most of 6ix9ine’s song titles are one word, two syllables, beginning with a consonant and ending with a vowel and most crucially, in all caps, like he is screaming the name of an off-brand Pokémon character (“DOOWEE,” “KOODA,” “MOOKY”). XXXTentacion’s titles vary widely — some short and terse (and also in all caps), some long and sentence-like (but lowercase except for the I’s).

If these artists were being fully embraced, these rough edges might be sanded down, but instead they’re left unchallenged. And as XXXTentacion and 6ix9ine become popular, even in spite of their rejection in some circles, those outlier sonic choices begin to become normalized, and also stand out by comparison to the flattening of their peers’ sounds and identities. Unintentionally, that exclusion might be creating the circumstances for these artists to not only thrive themselves, but to become the ones influencing the shape of the genre for years to come.

Correction: March 21, 2018
An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to the relationship between rapper 6ix9ine and Elliot Grainge. 6ix9ine is signed to Mr. Grainge’s label, he is not managed by him.

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Mount Etna is 'sliding towards the sea'

Mount EtnaImage copyright
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Etna is a big draw for scientists and tourists because of its constant fiery rumblings

Europe’s most active volcano, Mount Etna, is sliding towards the sea.

Scientists have established that the whole edifice on the Italian island of Sicily is edging in the direction of the Mediterranean at a rate of 14mm per year.

The UK-led team says the situation will need careful monitoring because it may lead to increased hazards at Etna in the future.

The group has published its findings in the Bulletin of Volcanology.

“I would say there is currently no cause for alarm, but it is something we need to keep an eye on, especially to see if there is an acceleration in this motion,” lead author Dr John Murray told BBC News.

  • Space project to monitor all volcanoes

The Open University geologist has spent almost half a century studying Europe’s premier volcano.

In that time, he has placed a network of high-precision GPS stations around the mountain to monitor its behaviour.

This instrumentation is sensitive to millimetric changes in the shape of the volcanic cone; and with 11 years of data it is now obvious, he says, that the mountain is moving in an east-south-east direction, on a general track towards the coastal town of Giarre, which is about 15km away.

Essentially, Etna is sliding down a very gentle slope of 1-3 degrees. This is possible because it is sitting on an underlying platform of weak, pliable sediments.

Dr Murray’s team has conducted lab experiments to illustrate how this works. The group believes it is the first time that basement sliding of an entire active volcano has been directly observed.

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Mount Etna is close to the east coast of Sicily

On the human scale, a movement of 14mm/yr – that is 1.4m over a hundred years – will seem very small, and it is. But geological investigations elsewhere in the world have shown that extinct volcanoes that display this kind of trend can suffer catastrophic failures on their leading flank as they drift downslope.

Stresses can build up that lead eventually to devastating landslides.

Dr Murray and colleagues stress such behaviour is very rare and can take many centuries, even thousands of years, to develop to a critical stage.

Certainly, there is absolutely no evidence that this is about to happen at Etna. Local residents should not be alarmed, the Open University scientist said.

“The 14mm/yr is an average; it varies from year to year,” he explained.

“The thing to watch I guess is if in 10 years’ time the rate of movement has doubled – that would be a warning. If it’s halved, I’d say there really is nothing to worry about.”

Of more immediate concern is the confounding effect this sliding could have for the day-to-day assessment of the volcano.

Scientists get hints that eruptive activity is about to occur when magma bulges upwards and deforms the shape of the mountain. To gain an unambiguous view of this inflation, researchers will need to subtract the general E-S-E motion.

KeepVid scraps YouTube-ripping function in favour of legal approach

A blank videoImage copyright
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A popular website that let people save or “rip” videos from services such as YouTube has unexpectedly turned into a copyright advocacy site.

KeepVid let people download copies of videos that could not officially be saved from YouTube, Vimeo and others.

But the service has now been removed from its website and replaced by a page of guidance on terms and conditions.

The terminology used suggests it has now become aware of legal restrictions on downloading from sharing sites.

Journey of discovery

In an update to its website, KeepVid said it had discovered that ripping videos from YouTube was against the site’s terms and conditions.

“KeepVid unveils that users aren’t allowed to download videos from YouTube,” it said.

It revealed that “there are many video-sharing sites in the market” and offered to “introduce” visitors to services such as Netflix and Spotify.

It said it had “found out” that Netflix was “a very popular place to watch and download videos to your computer”.

Download by subscription

KeepVid was often the top search result for people who were looking for a way to rip videos from YouTube and Vimeo.

For a majority of videos, YouTube does not offer an official way for people to download and keep them.

However, subscribers to its premium tier, YouTube Red, can download videos to watch offline within the YouTube app.

KeepVid operated its service for free on its website and through paid software called KeepVid Pro. Both services have been discontinued.

The company has not explained why it has decided to close its service. However, it said it hoped the video market would be “organised to meet people’s requirements”.

“Video downloading will become possible if the video download tools and video sharing platforms reach an agreement about downloading videos,” it said.

Nature With Chirps, but No Tweets

“When I’m anxious I always go to the park,” said Leila Heller, the gallerist behind Ms. Hovnanian’s multigenre and satirical installations. “But kids don’t know how to do that these days because they’re on their phones.” That said, the show is drawing crowds.

Visitors are free to sit and linger and many do. They can’t, however, take pictures or text their friends.


The sound of crickets and rushing water fills the darkness.

Yana Paskova for The New York Times

“It’s about detaching from technology and using your other senses,” Ms. Hovnanian said.

She has been, like many people, appalled at her own tech addiction for years.

“A normal user touches her phone 2,500 times a day and an excessive one touches it twice that,” Ms. Hovnanian added, referring to various studies from business websites. “I met a mother who told me that her 2-year-old’s first words were ‘Mama, ‘Dada’ and ‘iPad.’”

She was not always so anti-tech. Her previous installations included “Plastic Perfect,” featuring hyper-realistic robotic babies that gallery visitors held while posing for social media.

“Easier than real babies, and you can order them online like pizza,” Ms. Hovnanian said.

She also created a video installation, “Foreplay,” with young, nearly naked couples lounging in bed while staring into glowing phones, as if they were lovers in a four-way or perhaps about to conceive an artificial baby by way of ordering one from Amazon.


Ms. Hovnanian’s installation, with a tent and trees, aims to help visitors unplug from social media and phones while exploring her work.

Yana Paskova for The New York Times

Another installation included a dinner table populated with two iPads that show video images of a man and a woman. They are positioned to seem like they’re staring at each other.

“I’ve seen couples on dates with one of them texting on a phone, which causes the other one to start texting too,” Ms. Hovnanian said,“It’s all very alienating and distracting.”

The artist, who is married to Ara K. Hovnanian, president and chief executive of Hovnanian Enterprises, a Fortune 500 home-construction company, asks her family to put away phones at dinner and has a rule for herself of not turning on her phone while having coffee with her husband in the morning.

Galleries and museums, of course, have been dealing with phone intrusions for years. Unlike theaters, however, they don’t require audiences to turn off their devices. Most have given up on prohibiting or policing photography. Some have paid the price for their leniency.


A woman charged her phone in an igloo constructed by Ms. Hovnanian.

Yana Paskova for The New York Times

A few years ago, a student visiting the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera in Italy tried to take a selfie while sitting on the lap of a statue and broke off its leg. Last year a selfie-taker at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington backed into a Yayoi Kusama sculpture and damaged it.

Still, social media can help galleries promote shows and make them more fun.

“I don’t like to control how people behave and besides, most of our visitors are very respectful,” said Anne Pasternak, the director of the Brooklyn Museum, who is overseeing a David Bowie exhibition that forbids photography, in a rare move for the museum. “But I do think that lit-up screens can be distracting in a dark installation.”

Some visitors to Ms. Hovnanian’s installation balk when told that they have to give up their phones to go into her forest. “I’ll come back another time,” one young man said, then turned and fled.

But most of them, according to staff members, don’t mind at all.

“Many people leave without remembering to get their phones back,” said Brandon Reis, an intern at the gallery who heard one visitor suggest to another about coming back to spend spring break in the Immersion Room.

Ms. Hovnanian, who is 58, and who once created a cafe installation that served mud pie (recipe instructions in the catalog include taking shoes off to feel the cool earth beneath your feet) enjoys interacting with visitors who ask questions about the various rooms of her current exhibition. (The Immersion Room is on display through April 11, and there is also a Waiting Room in which visitors enter a plaster igloo to charge their phones.)

Last Wednesday she listened to a young man from Paris who emerged exuberant from the Immersion Room, as if he just came in from a long hike through a redwood forest. “So many artists are good at mocking social media and selfie culture,” he told her in excellent English. “But you actually give us a reason to give up our phones.”

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How the Left and the Right Reacted to John Bolton as National Security Adviser


John R. Bolton, the former American ambassador to the United Nations, was considered a hawk among hawks in President George W. Bush’s administration.

Joshua Roberts/Reuters

WASHINGTON — President Trump announced on Thursday the swift substitution of his national security adviser: Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the battle-tested, three-star Army general, is resigning and will be replaced by John R. Bolton, the former American ambassador to the United Nations.

Mr. Bolton, who was considered a hawk among hawks in President George W. Bush’s administration, had a history of incendiary comments that primed him to be a commentator on Fox News. There, he impressed Mr. Trump with his muscular version of American power.

News that Mr. Bolton would become Mr. Trump’s third national security adviser — after General McMaster and Michael T. Flynn — was met with immediate acclaim and criticism.

Here’s a look at how political figures and lawmakers on the right and the left reacted.

The Right

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina

“Selecting John Bolton as national security adviser is good news for America’s allies and bad news for America’s enemies. I have known John Bolton for well over a decade and believe he will do an outstanding job as President Trump’s new national security adviser. He has a firm understanding of the threats we face from North Korea, Iran and radical Islam.”

Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida

Representative Lee Zeldin of New York

“Ambassador John Bolton is ridiculously knowledgeable and will be a great national security adviser. The leaks coming out of the National Security Council will end, Obama administration holdovers will be gone, and the team, chemistry and work product will all be improved. Ambassador Bolton is a very underrated, amazing American, and I applaud this extraordinarily talented pick. I look forward to working closely with Ambassador Bolton on the many national security concerns facing our exceptional country.”

Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas

The Left

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader

“Mr. Bolton’s tendency to try to solve every geopolitical problem with the American military first is a troubling one. I hope he will temper his instinct to commit the men and women of our armed forces to conflicts around the globe, when we need to be focused on building the middle class here at home.”

Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the ranking member on House Intelligence Committee

Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii

Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts

Senator Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut

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Coronation Street: Plans for weekend set tours revealed

Coronation Street setImage copyright
Andrew Boyce/ITV

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The Coronation Street set in Trafford Park has recently been extended

Soap fans will get a chance to walk down Britain’s most famous street again if plans are approved to open up the Coronation Street set for tours.

ITV bosses have applied to allow weekend tours of the Corrie set in Stretford, Greater Manchester.

The broadcaster is hoping to build on the success of the temporary tours at the show’s former site in Quay Street, Manchester, which ran 2014-15.

But Hovis is concerned about traffic effects on its nearby flour mill.

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Andrew Boyce/ITV

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The pre-booked tours are expected to attract 1,480 visitors a day and run at the weekends

ITV, which relocated the soap’s production from central Manchester in 2014, is applying for “change of use” permission at the site and said: “There is a desire to open up the external studio lot to enable the show’s fan base to enjoy a greater connection with the show.”

It added the previous temporary tours had been worth £60m to the local economy and estimated the new tours could be worth £4m annually.

The broadcaster said the tours would take place on Sundays, with some Saturdays depending on filming, from 09:00 to 18:00 April to September, and 09:00 to 16:00 October to March.

The 90-minute tours will have to be booked in advance and are expected to attract an estimated 1,480 visitors a day to the soap’s set in Trafford Park, which has recently been extended.

Hovis Ltd, which operates its flour mill on neighbouring Trafford Wharf Road, said it had no objection in principle to the plans but expressed concerns about the extra parking the attraction would entail and its effect on its delivery drivers.

In its formal response to the application to Trafford Council, it said more information was needed from ITV about traffic management in the area as “it is important that the arrival and departure of visitors is carefully managed”.

'SNL' veterans agree on the worst-behaved guest

While Justin Bieber’s career and personal life has been on the upswing for the past few years, that bad patch he went through a while back has earned him the dubious distinction of being the “worst-behaved” guest star on “Saturday Night Live.”

At least, that’s according to “SNL” veterans Jay Pharaoh and Bill Hader, who were on the show from 2010 to 2016 and 2005 to 2013, respectively.

Both men appeared on Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live!” Thursday night, and when a caller asked, “Who was the worst-behaved musical guest or host [during] your time at ‘SNL’?” they were in agreement immediately.

“I mean, we both know, dog,” said Pharoah to Hader.

“Yeah, it was Bieber,” Hader responded.

“He just was in a bad place…. Maybe he’s in a better place, but back then he was in a very … it was rough,” added Hader of the singer. “Everybody’s usually on great behavior…. Bieber is the only one in my experience … he just seemed like exhausted or just at the end of a rope. I mean, he was just so huge.”

PHOTO: Justin Beiber hosts Saturday Night Live, Feb. 9, 2013.Dana Edelson/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
Justin Beiber hosts “Saturday Night Live,” Feb. 9, 2013.

Bieber, now 24, appeared as the host and musical guest on a 2013 “SNL” episode when he was in the middle of his Believe world tour. During his time on the show, the singer appeared in nearly every sketch and performed two songs acoustically: “As Long as You Love Me” and “Nothing Like Us.”

He used the show as an opportunity to poke fun at himself for everything from his singing and dancing to his physical appearance to his marijuana usage.

Turning a Ghoulish Children’s Book Into a Grand Opera

Though Mr. Gaiman hasn’t been directly involved in this new version — earlier this month he finished shooting a screen adaptation of his novel “Good Omens,” written with Terry Pratchett — Mr. Turnage and Mr. Mullarkey have had plenty to play with. The novel begins when little Coraline Jones discovers that a bricked-up door in the apartment she’s just moved into is a portal to a nightmarish “other world.” Trapped behind the door, she finds a figure with black buttons for eyes who coos that she’s Coraline’s “other mother” and promises her anything she desires, if only she agrees to stay “for ever and always.” Coraline’s journey home to her real parents is not only a coming-of-age story; it also becomes a mythic quest.

A powerful, self-determined heroine, Coraline is more than a match for operatic heroines like Leonore in Beethoven’s “Fidelio” or Rosina from Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.” The role is shared in the new production by the sopranos Mary Bevan and Robyn Allegra Parton.

“She’s such a strong female character,” Mr. Turnage said. “She’s powerful; she’s going to solve these things. I’ve got a seven-year-old daughter. S he’s too young to read the book, but she saw the film, and she was very taken with Coraline.”

Although the opera, like the novel, is aimed at young audiences — Mr. Turnage has dedicated it to his daughter and his youngest son — it goes to some genuinely disturbing places. The sense that evil lurks around every corner is palpable; there are heavy hints, too, of abuse in the plotline of parent-like figures who bribe a child to love them. While critics have often compared the book to Lewis Carroll, Mr. Gaiman’s universe is arguably closer to David Lynch or Stephen King in its atmosphere of suspenseful, what-lies-beneath horror.

“I wanted to write about how people who have your best interests at heart may not always pay you the kind of attention that you’d like,” Mr. Gaiman said in a statement. “And people who pay a lot of attention to you may not always have your best interests at heart.”


The piece presents an unusual number of theatrical challenges, said the director Aletta Collins, center.

Stephen Cummiskey/ROH

Ms. Collins agreed that, despite its fairy-tale qualities, this narrative is not for the fainthearted. “The story is: You can have anything you want in the whole wide world, as long as you let me sew buttons into your eyes,” she said.

Mr. Turnage clearly relishes the material’s otherworldly side; the score, written for 15 musicians, is astringent and occasionally violent, bringing to mind early chamber pieces such as “On All Fours” (1983) and “Blood on the Floor” (1996). But “Coraline” does allow audiences some moments of fun. The composer said he enjoyed coming up with Broadway-ish music for the character of Mr. Bobo, an eccentric old man who dwells in the apartment above Coraline and conducts the mouse orchestra. Two retired actresses who live in the apartment beneath, Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, are portrayed as divas of a certain age who issue Cassandra-like pronouncements about fate in high-voltage coloratura.

“The fantasy element is so heightened,” Mr. Turnage said. “Completely operatic.”

The Royal Opera has staged eight new operas for young people and families in the last five years, among them Julian Philips’s “How the Whale Became” (2013), based on children’s stories by Ted Hughes, and Adriano Adewale’s “Hatch” (2017), billed as a “sensory experience for children aged 2 to 5.” The profusion indicates how seriously the company is trying to demolish the perceived barriers that surround the art form, and to attract new and more diverse audiences.

The company is under continual pressure to justify its annual governmental subsidy of around $33 million annually — the highest of any arts institution in Britain — and has invested in co-productions with theater and dance companies around the country. It also runs school workshops and outreach projects in towns outside London, including in some of the region’s most deprived areas.

Mr. Turnage, who grew up in Essex, not far from London, and was the first member of his family to get a college education, said he hoped audiences for “Coraline” would come from all walks of life. The opera world sometimes wasn’t as outward-facing as it should be, he suggested.

“A lot of opera directors are making opera for other opera directors, and quite a few opera composers are writing for their peer group,” he said.

Although “Coraline” has been in development for over four years, both he and Ms. Collins said that the theme of a young woman standing up for herself against the odds had acquired particular topicality in the context of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. The classical world has experienced plentiful rumors about sexual harassment, along with some high-profile firings — notably of the conductors Charles Dutoit and James Levine, who was pushed out of the Met earlier this month.

Mr. Turnage said that, while some things had improved over his years in the business, “I’m acutely aware of women working in the opera world and the way that they’re marginalized, and how tough it is. Everybody knows this.”

He added he was proud that, as well as having created a strong female lead, the production also has a largely female creative team, led by Ms. Collins and the conductor Sian Edwards. “The world is changing,” Mr. Turnage said.

He added that he hoped “Coraline” offered a path forward, in its way. He was inspired by a quotation from G.K. Chesterton that Mr. Gaiman uses as the epigraph of the book: “Fairy tales are more than true: Not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

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Trump Approves New Limits on Transgender Troops in the Military

“There is no evidence to support a policy that bars from military service patriotic Americans who are medically fit and able to deploy,” said Aaron Belkin, the director of the Palm Center, which focuses on sexuality and the military. “Our troops and our nation deserve better.”

In a series of Twitter posts in July, Mr. Trump announced that “the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”


An inspection last month at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. The policy directive largely gives the Pentagon the ability to make exceptions where it sees fit.

Lance Cpl. Jose Gonzalez/United States Marine Corps

He said he decided to issue the ban after consulting with generals and military experts, although Mr. Mattis was given only a day’s notice. In August, Mr. Trump directed the Pentagon to reverse an Obama administration policy that had allowed transgender people — or those diagnosed with gender dysphoria, or had discomfort with their biological gender — to serve in the military.

In October, a judge in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia temporarily blocked Mr. Trump’s ban and said the reasoning behind it was most likely unconstitutional because it represented a “disapproval of transgender people generally.” Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly had ruled that the military’s current policy should remain in place.

Mr. Trump’s new order allows the defense secretary and the homeland security secretary to “exercise their authority to implement any appropriate policies concerning military service by transgender individuals.”

In a memo to the president, dated Feb. 22, Mr. Mattis cited “substantial risks” about military personnel who seek to change or who question their gender identity.

He said that allowing some of them to serve would amount to an exemption of certain mental, physical and sex-based standards, and “could undermine readiness, disrupt unit cohesion, and impose an unreasonable burden on the military that is not conducive to military effectiveness and lethality.”

Mr. Mattis’s assertion contradicts a 2016 study by the RAND Corporation, which found that allowing transgender people to serve in the military would “have minimal impact on readiness and health care costs” for the Pentagon.

The study estimated that health care costs would rise $2.4 million to $8.4 million a year, representing an infinitesimal 0.04 to 0.13 percent increase in spending. It concluded that there were 2,000 to 11,000 active-duty troops who are transgender.

Citing research into other countries that allow transgender people to serve, the study projected “little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness or readiness” in the United States.


In a memo to the president last month, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis cited “substantial risks” about military personnel who seek to change or who question their gender identity.

Erin Schaff for The New York Times

Mr. Mattis, in his recommendation to Mr. Trump, complained that the RAND study “heavily caveated data to support its conclusions, glossed over the impacts of health care costs, readiness, and unit cohesion, and erroneously relied on the selective experiences of foreign militaries with different operational requirements than our own.”

“In short,” Mr. Mattis concluded, “this policy issue has proven more complex than the prior administration or Rand assumed.”

In her ruling last October, Judge Kollar-Kotelly rejected the Trump administration’s argument that it needs more time to prepare to process transgender recruits for military service. “The court is not persuaded that defendants will be irreparably injured by allowing the accession of transgender individuals into the military beginning on Jan. 1, 2018,” she wrote.

On Friday, Pentagon officials said they would continue to comply with federal law. A Defense Department spokesman said the Pentagon would “continue to assess and retain transgender service members.” The new policy must first be published in the Federal Register, which generally requires new rules to be reviewed and subject to a public comment period before they are enacted.

Mr. Trump announced the ban in July to resolve a quietly brewing fight on Capitol Hill over whether taxpayer money should pay for gender transition and hormone therapy for transgender service members.

But rather than addressing that narrow issue, Mr. Trump opted to upend the entire policy on transgender service members. His decision was announced with such haste that the White House could not answer basic questions about how it would be carried out, including what would happen to transgender people on active duty.

Now, eight months later, what will happen to transgender people on active duty is still unclear.

“What the White House has released tonight is transphobia masquerading as policy,” Joshua Block, a senior staff lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union L.G.B.T. and H.I.V. Project, said in a statement.

The new policy, according to the A.C.L.U. memo, “effectively coerces transgender people who wish to serve into choosing between their humanity and their country, and makes it clear that transgender service members are not welcome.”

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Man found in a cardboard box as an infant reunites with birth family

Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, Bill Gillespie celebrated “adoption days” along with birthdays, but had long wondered about what happened to his birth parents.

After his adoptive parents died, he started digging into his past. He was not prepared for what he found.

Gillespie, now 53, reached out to his adoption agency, Catholic Charities, which wrote him a letter that revealed he had been “a foundling,” meaning he had been abandoned in the street.

“[It] just kind of takes your breath away,” Gillespie told ABC News’ “Nightline.” “Your jaw kind of drops. You’re like, ‘What?’”

Bill Gillespie is seen here blowing out birthday candles in this 1972 family photo. Courtesy Bill Gillespie
Bill Gillespie is seen here blowing out birthday candles in this 1972 family photo.

After learning that, Gillespie said he stopped searching for years, but his wife, Laura Gillespie, and their three grown children urged him to keep looking.

“My wife said, ‘Well … let’s check out the adoption [message] boards or the different websites and see what we can do,’” Bill Gillespie said. “It’s kind of daunting how many families are looking for people.”

Watch the full story on “Nightline” TONIGHT at 12:35 a.m. ET

He had a glimmer of hope when a woman on one of the adoption boards thought he could be her son, but DNA test results later proved she wasn’t his biological mother. For Gillespie, it was another crushing blow.

“It’s loss, it’s anger,” he said. “You kind of feel like, ‘Well, why can’t I find my family?’”

But his posts on the adoption boards caught the attention of investigative genealogist Pam Slaton. An adoptee herself, Slaton’s specialty is finding elusive family members. The ABC News consultant and author of “Reunited” has helped reunite dozens of adoptees with their birth families.

At the time she saw Bill Gillespie’s post, Slaton happened to be working on a high-profile case of a baby who had gone missing around the same time he was abandoned.

“His wife Laura answered my call and said this is something that is deeply, deeply upsetting for her husband,” Slaton told “Nightline.” “He felt like he was thrown away like trash.”

Slaton also recommended Gillespie take an DNA test, so his profile could be added to their global database.

Gillespie did not turn out to be the missing baby Slaton was looking into, but she was so moved by his story that she decided to take on his case pro-bono.

Slaton was able to dig up a newspaper article from 1964 about a child who was found in a cardboard box, wrapped in a cotton curtain, and left in an alleyway. The article pinpointed the exact location where Gillespie was found, which turned out to be just 39 miles from his home.

Gillespie and his daughter Morgan See allowed “Nightline” to document their poignant trip to the alleyway where he’d been found so he could see it for himself. For years, he had wondered how any parent could have abandoned a newborn, and he said he spent a long time feeling angry about it.

But then, standing in the actual alleyway, Gillespie says he felt something different.

“I kind of feel bad for my mom, my birth mother,” he said. “That had to be difficult. But then again, you’re still placed in an alleyway…. I guess you don’t really know how to take it. Kind of feeling both ways.”

After he was found, he learned the police took him to a nearby orphanage: St. Vincent’s. The building now houses Catholic Charities, which still maintains the old adoption records. Bill Gillespie headed over there to meet with Lisa Francis, a caseworker who works with Catholic Charities.

Francis started out by showing Gillespie some old photos of police bringing babies to the orphanage. She also showed him the tiny alcove where he had been baptized after he was brought in.

“You were loved when you were here from the minute you were brought in,” Francis told him. “And even beginning back with your birth mother. She wrapped you up, and placed you somewhere where you would be brought to safety.”

Seeing where he had started his life, Gillespie said, “I just feel relieved.”

“They say orphanage and you automatically have this bad image,” he continued. “This is a little bit nicer. Definitely much better than I had anticipated.”

And then, Slaton delivered even bigger news. Using’s database, Bill Gillespie’s DNA test uncovered relatives from both sides of his biological family.

Slaton noticed Gillespie had a match to a first cousin and asked that cousin’s relatives to take DNA tests. She then started digging through public records and found a marriage certificate linking the two sides of Gillespie’s biological family, and showing more information about his biological parents. That unraveled a stunning revelation: Gillespie wasn’t born to a young, unwed mother, as he had always assumed. The marriage certificate showed that his parents were married before he was born.

Slaton’s public records’ search also turned up death records for both Bill Gillespie’s biological father and mother, dashing his hopes of ever meeting them. But there was still hope for a reunion. Slaton also found that his biological mother had remarried and discovered something Gillespie might never have discovered. He has a surviving half-brother, 49-year-old Ken Cummins.

Looking up his phone number, Slaton helped Gillespie practice what to say as he was about to cold call a sibling who didn’t know he even existed. His first attempt at calling went to voicemail.

While waiting for his brother to call him back, Slaton circled back to a first cousin, Julie Markey, who had helped her crack the case. Together, Gillespie and Slaton called Markey. During that phone call, Markey said she didn’t know anything about Gillespie’s birth parents, but told him that her family loved him dearly.

“’Love you,’ that meant so much,” Gillespie said after hanging up.

But Gillespie’s search for his roots was about to take a shocking turn. Slaton tracked down yet another family member named Maurine LeBlanc, who isn’t related to Bill Gillespie by blood but seemed to have known Gillespie’s birth father. She had posted a message on his memorial page, saying he had a led a “troubled life.”

In a phone call with LeBlanc, she called Gillespie’s birth father, Alvin, a “scallywag” who had shot and killed a police officer.

It was a painful realization. When Gillespie’s brother Ken called him back, their first conversation ever between the two long-lost brothers was laced with bittersweet family lore. Cummins revealed that their mother had never told him about her other son, Gillespie. And Cummins told him that Gillespie’s biological father had beaten their mother.

Bill Gillespie and Ken Cummins mother is seen here in this undated family photo. Courtesy Ken Cummins
Bill Gillespie and Ken Cummins’ mother is seen here in this undated family photo.

Through learning all this, Gillespie had another realization about his mother and her decision to leave him behind in alleyway all those years ago.

“She did it out of fear, but maybe fear for me instead,” Gillespie said. “I really firmly believe she did that for a reason…. Man am I lucky. I am a lucky person.”

After years of being angry at the woman who he thought callously abandoned him in an alleyway, he now felt gratitude.

Soon after his phone call with Cummins, Gillespie arranged to meet his brother for the first time. Gillespie had no idea all along that he’d be raising his own family just a 30-minute drive from Cummins and his wife Laura, and their two children Abby and John.

Turns out, Cummins had lost his own brother years earlier.

“It’s kind of — I lose one brother, but I feel like I’m gaining one right now,” Cummins said through tears. “I haven’t even met him yet and I know I feel a connection with him.”

Half-brothers Bill Gillespie and Ken Cummins meet for the first time. ABC News
Half-brothers Bill Gillespie and Ken Cummins meet for the first time.

When the two brothers finally met on a sunny day last summer, they gave each other a long hug. Surrounded by both families on a picnic bench in a local park, Cummins pulled out old photos to share, describing their mother as someone who loved making flower arrangements and had done the flowers for his wedding. Looking at the face of a woman who gave him a fresh start, Gillespie poured over every detail.

“You look like your mom,” Laura Gillespie, Bill Gillespie’s wife, noted.

Two families, after decades of not knowing about each other, had finally become one, in an extraordinary family reunion.

Half-brothers Bill Gillespie (right) and Ken Cummins (left) look at family photos together after meeting for the first time in decades. ABC News
Half-brothers Bill Gillespie (right) and Ken Cummins (left) look at family photos together after meeting for the first time in decades.

“I feel so bad that I missed time, that I didn’t get you guys in time,” Bill Gillespie said.

“Don’t kick yourself for it,” his newfound brother told him. “You had to do it at your own time, your own pace.”