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Monday, February 22, 2016
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Just when you thought she couldn't get any more magical, Emma Watson announced that she's taking a year off from acting to focus on feminism. Take some inspo from Emma (who said she plans to read everyday!) by getting briefed on the news below.
Meet today's Clover, @emmagraberr. From one inspiring Emma to another, this 16-year-old aspiring singer from L.A. is destined for big things. Her Instagram, like her voice, is the epitome of dreamy California cool.
WTF Happened in Politics This Weekend?!
A presidential race as exciting (or scary) as this one means that if you glance away from your phone for just an hour, you could miss something major. For everyone who had better things to do this weekend than track politics, let’s recap. Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders (but not by much) in the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, setting herself up nicely for the Dems’ next stop in South Carolina—where Donald Trump scored a runaway victory in this weekend’s Republican caucus. He has now won two of the three GOP contests, which was enough to convince fellow candidate Jeb Bush to suspend his own lagging campaign (sorry, JB), and enough for the rest of the country to consider Donald as a viable candidate. Gulp. Despite his S.C. loss, Bernie found a silver lining when a 1963 photo of himself as a college activist resurfaced online and instantly went viral. Not only does this pic help strengthen the “social revolutionary” persona he's pushing, but it’s the kind of publicity that no million-dollar political ad can buy.
Child Marriage Is Alive and Well in America, Too 
It’s no secret that child marriage is common in developing countries like Bangladesh, Mozambique, and Niger. But what is surprising is that young girls are becoming brides—often against their will—in America, too. (Yep, even with all the amazing progress the U.S. has made, an antiquated practice like this still exists in 2016.)  Thankfully state lawmakers in Virginia are proposing bills that will curb the practice, and New York will soon be the first state to ban marriage altogether for anyone younger than 18. Many states allow kids younger than 16 to marry (with the court’s approval), and rarely ask if the girls are marrying voluntarily. Experts say arrangements like these are rarely in the minor’s best interest—it can involve coercion, bribery, domestic violence, or even human trafficking—and they “should set off alarm bells, not wedding bells.” Hear that?
Stop Teaching Girls That Acting Scared Is Adorable
A female firefighter (and bonafide badass) questions why fear is considered a sought-after feminine trait in The New York Times, and why we teach girls that being scared is cute. And she makes a good point. Since birth, we’re basically conditioned to be cautious. Is there a mouse under the couch? A stranger at the door? An emergency that requires any sort of bravery and/or power tools? Find a man to help. According to a study, parents are “four times more likely to tell girls than boys to be more careful.” While it’s tough to fault family for showing concern, the lasting effect on a girl’s self-esteem is dire. When we get older, that fear manifests into a more powerful timidity—a fear of taking risks, a fear of asking for what we need/want/deserve, and, let's be real, a fear of power tools.
Twitter Is Effectively Taking Down ISIS
The government still hasn’t yet figured out how to stop ISIS, but Twitter has. Because the terrorist organization heavily relies on social media to recruit soldiers—American teens, in particular—Twitter has staffed up in order to better patrol Islamic State-associated accounts. They’ve shut down 125,000 terrorist-related accounts in the last year alone, which has stopped the spread of viral propaganda in a major way. These days, there are only about 1,000 English-speaking terrorist accounts at any given time, which is nothing when you consider that the site counts more than 305 million people among its monthly active users. Still, if Islamic State propaganda makes it way into your timeline, report it. Obama thanks you in advance.
Half of College Students Are Confirmed Internet Addicts
Maybe it has something to do with how many hours a day we spend on the internet (...a lot!), but we believe shaming someone—or an entire generation—about being too plugged in is both super archaic and really, really boring. That said, internet dependence is considered a medically-recognized behavioral addiction, much like compulsive shopping or gambling, and it’s something that’s actively shaping society. A new study looked into how "excessive" and "problematic" internet usage (upwards of 25 hours a week online) affects college students' relationships with their families. The results were kind of inconclusive; social media both helps and hurts familial bonds. But more interesting is that half of the polled students were considered “internet addicts,” admitting to lying about how much time they spend online, their inability to log off, and other depressing factors. Another 40% were at risk of becoming full-fledged addicts. Sounds a little dramatic, but it can't hurt to take a break from the glowing screen—after you finish reading this email, of course.
By Casey Lewis
At just 14, Jasmine Lucilla Elizabeth Jennifer van den Bogaerde—you can call her Birdy for short—lit up the internet with a stunning take on "Skinny Love" by Bon Iver, a track that's frequently covered but infrequently as memorable as the original. But not Birdy's. Her earnest falsetto version got the cosign from Justin Vernon himself and propelled her into the spotlight. But unlike other YouTube-famous teens (Justin Bieber, we're looking at you), the self-decribed homebody has stayed out of the tabloids—and in our headphones.

After taking a few years to tour the world, write songs, and record music for two of the most important YA soundtracks of our time—both The Hunger Games and The Fault In Our Stars—she's getting ready to drop her third album. She called in from London to talk about making Beautiful Lies, going viral, and taming her famous waist-length waves. (Her secret? Never, ever brush it.)

You’ve been internet famous for most of your life. Are you constantly getting stopped on the street—especially with your unmistakable hair?
People recognize me more when I'm away. In London and at home, I can just be myself and be with my family.

You must be fairly used to it now, but what was it like when your video for “Skinny Love” first went viral?
At first, it was really weird. I was constantly googling [myself] even though I know I’m not supposed to do that. It was just so alien. At the time, I didn't really take in what was happening. It was surreal.

How did the other kids at school react? It must have been kind of surreal for them, too.
My classmates and I were almost in it together. I would travel and come back to school, and they’d ask about where I’d been and what I’d seen.

How have you managed to stay so humble and normal and wonderful?
I haven't drowned in it at all. A lot of it comes from just doing your work and the people who surround you. My parents traveled with me everywhere, so I didn't have an excuse to let anything go to my head.

Do you find it unnerving to write and sing about such personal things? “Beautiful Lies” is about the end of a relationship—that can’t be an easy thing to put out there.
It's weird, because ever since I've been really young—as young as eight—I’ve written about love and heartbreak. It's quite natural to me. Writing about love and personal things is natural, too. But it's scary. Now everybody's wondering what I’ve written about them. [laughs] My songwriting comes from people around me and taking in what I’m reading and doing, even what’s on TV. I love reading and I'm inspired by a really good story. The Hunger Games, for instance, I read all those books so quickly. My head was still in the book when I was writing the song.

Have any other books shaped your music?
I’ve written songs inspired by The Faraway Tree, which is quite magical. I guess it kind of reminds me of where I grew up, in the country. I love being in the country. That's where I feel the most at home and inspired. I read this book called Memoirs of a Geisha that really inspired me. I've never been to Japan but I'm hoping this album will take me there.

This is your third album, and your first big release in three years. How is it different from everything you’ve done in the past?
This album, to me, is the most special, because I know what I want now. I got to the point where I know exactly what I want to do and what I want the music to sound like. With the past albums, I wasn't completely sure where I was going. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t do anything that doesn't feel right to you. Listen to your heart.

And listen to Birdy's third studio album, Beautiful Lies, out March 25. We're preordering and you should, too.
Want a shout-out in a future letter? Email us — we'd seriously love to hear from you! — or click here to forward Clover to friends.

@av_robertson: This former Marc Jacobs intern has stolen the spotlight as a buzzy young designer in her own right. She just showed her collection at London Fashion Week, so better start follow her now (before everyone else becomes obsessed).
@zsipporahnaimah: This teen artist and blogger peppers her feed with impressive illustrations, flower snaps, and some serious hair envy.
@olesyarulin : The actress, Instagram star, and self-declared “shark protector” (she’s a major animal activist) is the best kind of triple threat.
@alex_hainer: With her color-drenched images, this L.A.-based photographer’s feed is a kaleidoscopic rainbow dreamworld.
@krem_fresh: She loves Grimes, Moschino, and wears pink pants like a boss. If that's not reason enough for you to follow her, then we don't know what is.
Liza is rediscovering the amazingness of the old-school paper invites. Forget Paperless Post, the best kinds of parties call for IRL mail. Casey is back at it again with the white Vans.
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