xoNEWS: CVS Drops Cigarettes, Columbia University Dismisses Rape Allegations, And Ukraine Ponders A Cease Fire

Some of the headlines you might have missed, neatly summarized.
Amanda Lauren
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Some of the headlines you might have missed, neatly summarized.


Life is short. I know that’s a cliché, but it’s totally true. Every time I write the news, I feel like I’m reporting on someone important dying, like James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Robin Williams or Joan Rivers, because all of these people were very important. But what was really important is that they all did what they loved to do. Not everyone gets to live their passion and those who do are very lucky.

Am I not reporting about enough about the living? Please let me know or tweet me @AmandaLauren.

No Cigs At CVS

Earlier this year, CVS announced they would be pulling cigarettes and other tobacco products from their shelves. The company also changed its name from CVS Caremark to CVS Health. (CVS Caremark was CVS’ corporate name). The pharmacy chain is trying to change its image from being a bodega with makeup and prescriptions to being a health care provider who also sells vodka and chocolate (Phew! At least they’re still selling the necessities). Troy Brennan, who is CVS’ Chief Medical officer, explains this concept:

We see ourselves as a healthcare company. So selling a product in our stores that was actually causing people health problems really doesn't make any sense.

This change will also create an estimated $2 billion loss per year for CVS. Why would a big corporation want to lose $2 billion? Larry Merlot, CVS’ CEO and President explained why losing big bucks makes sense to them:

While there's never a right time to walk away from $2 billion in revenue, this was the right time. Eliminating this obstacle will allow our company to grow over the long term. 

So, how is this going to change CVS for the rest of us? With approximately 7,700 locations, it’s safe to assume many xoJane readers shop there. CVS sees Obamacare as their golden ticket. They plan to split the difference by expanding their Minute Clinic locations. What is a Minute Clinic? It’s a medical office inside CVS where you can do minor things you don’t really want to go to the doctor for like get a flu shot, treat poison ivy, start a medically assisted weight-loss program (their words, not mine) or get rid of a UTI. CVS has 900 of these clinics so far. Don’t worry, Minute Clinics aren’t staffed by the same people who stock the nail care aisle, but by nurse practitioners and physicians assistants. And yes, they accept insurance.

If you are a CVS shopper and want to quit smoking, you won’t even have to ask where the quitting aids such as patches, gums and lozenges are because they’re replacing the tobacco items in the front of the store with those products. But if you want e-cigarettes, you’ll have to buy those someplace else. And don’t worry, if you’re a smoker, you can still pick your cigs up at Walgreens and Rite Aid. They do not plan on following CVS’ lead. (On a personal note, CVS’ entire strategy conjures up images of this scene from Josie and The Pussycats.)

Student Carries Around Mattress To Protest Campus Rape

Rape and sexual assault are a huge problem for most college campuses. Emma Sulkowicz, a senior at Columbia University in New York, says a classmate raped her in her dorm room on the first day of her sophomore year. Unfortunately, her efforts to convince administrators, police and even some friends of the incident have fallen on deaf ears.

Because she was traumatized by the incident, she did not report it immediately, but when she found out her alleged rapist raped two other students, all three girls went to campus authorities, but the cases were dismissed. Sulkowicz has implied that because she was anally raped, the school did not consider the situation a real rape, but rather “as kinky sex that went wrong.” 

In April, Sulkowicz was one of 23 students who filed a federal Title IX complaint alleging Columbia mishandled sexual assault cases. She has dropped criminal charges and does not plan on perusing civil charges against her rapist, who is still on campus. To protest Columbia’s policy, the visual arts major is carrying a twin-sized mattress everywhere she goes. It’s also a performance art piece doubling as her senior thesis, called “Mattress Performance/Carry That Weight.” Sulkowicz says that students on campus have been incredibly helpful and kind to her:

So far students I have never met before have helped me carry it. As I was walking across campus last night I heard someone shout, “Go, Emma!” and I’ve gotten such an overwhelming positive response on the Internet. One girl seems to be organizing some sort of website that will allow students to organize and figure out how to help me carry it to all my classes.  

Columbia University has not yet responded to the media regarding this story.

Ukraine Update

Things are looking slightly better for Ukraine, but they’re not out of the woods just yet. Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to a ceasefire if Ukraine withdraws its troops, but the president of Ukraine has previously stated they won’t stop fighting until the separatists are “rooted out.” However, one Ukraine official stated “any kind of cease-fire would be progress.”

NATO, who is standing wholeheartedly with Ukraine, has been having a summit for several days in Wales. The Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen asked Russia to "to step back from confrontation and take the path to peace.” NATO members are expected to announce new sanctions against Russia including energy, defense, and travel and banking restrictions shortly.

Joan Rivers

As reported in the last xoNews, Joan Rivers was in New York at her doctor’s office, having an endoscopic procedure in her throat, when she stopped breathing and went onto cardiac arrest. She was rushed to Mt. Sinai Hospital where she was put on life support. Her daughter Melissa confirmed her mother’s passing on Thursday.

According to reports, although the 81-year-old comedienne wasn’t conscious for her final days, she had hair stylists and makeup artists come to her hospital room daily. Rivers also had a Dennis Basso mink blanket to keep her equally comfortable and glamorous, while the soundtrack to the Broadway show "Oklahoma!" played to keep her entertained. 

Just before having a cosmetic procedure, Joan talked about her eventual death on a 2012 episode of her reality show "Joan & Melissa":

If anything happens, Melissa, I’ve had a great life. If I died this morning, nobody would say ‘so young.’ I’ve had an amazing life, if it ended right now — amazing life!


• Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week kicks off in New York this week. Prepare to see lots of pictures of beautiful things you can only dream of wearing.

• After the departures of Jenny McCarthy and Sherri Shepard, the new cast of “The View” has been finalized, with veteran member Whoopi Goldberg staying and former cast member Rosie O’Donnell returning. Actress Rosie Perez is now on board, and Nicolle Wallace, who was the former director of communications for President George W. Bush, will be joining the show as well. 

• Same-sex marriages are now legal in Wisconsin and Indiana. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals court struck down bans of same-sex marriage in both those states this week.