This ginger tabby named Flynn shacks up with Tori Diaz, founder of This Cat is Chonky. Tori Flynn I’m standing at my desk working. Archer, a 10-pound bundle of sass and midnight fur, sits behind me on a stool, a single claw plunging repeatedly into the elbow of my sweater: “Pay attention to me!” Archer knows I’m looking at other cats. He just knows. I’m on Facebook, bearing witness to the fattest cats on the internet. It’s a private Facebook group called “THIS CAT IS C H O N K Y,” where proud members post photos and videos of their beloved fuzzballs and comments pour in by the hundreds. Along with over 270,000 others, I worship at the house of Chonky. We lurk here. We comment. We find deep comfort.Facebook has been slammed for privacy failures and scandals, and like social media in general, it’s been called out for feeding loneliness and depression. Even social-media-savvy political rock star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez quit Facebook. I’ve been tempted to follow suit, but I stay, in part, for Chonky. And I’m not alone.Yes, Chonky is for oohing and ahhing over cats with belly flab and kittens with poofy cheeks. But for many, it’s also a light in the darkness. Selfies, cats and so many uploads: Our love affair with sharing photos Facebook Share your voice 5:14 Comments Facebook, Instagram, Twitter: What’s your relationship… Originally published June 12. Now playing: Watch this: 13 Photos Online One Chonky mod asked members to share what the group means to them — and got over 1,000 replies. “It’s a ray of sunshine in a gray world of negativity,” one member responded. Said another: “There have been many days where I isolate myself and cry nonstop but this group can stop that in an instant.” Members going through breakups put out the call for soothing cat photos to lift their spirits. People who just lost their beloved furry companions turn to Chonky for support and a virtual shoulder to cry on. Chonky founder Tori Diaz gets messages from group members who want her to know how Chonky has cheered them up during their most stressful moments. “What hit me the hardest,” Diaz says, “were the people responding saying the group has helped them through suicidal thoughts, depression and severe medical problems.” I visited Chonky one day when a young woman expressed thoughts of self-harm. The group arrived to tell her that her life matters. They shared their own stories of depression and how their cats gave them something to hold onto. The original poster later updated the message to say she had reached out to a therapist for help. This Cat is Chonky proudly advertises its wares with a chubby-cheeked cat banner. Facebook/This Cat is Chonky The first rule of Chonk ClubChonky isn’t the Wild West. You can share pictures of your cats and comment on photos, but you can’t sling insults. The group has strict rules of conduct. Rule No. 1: No chonk shaming. This is “the ultimate sin.” Don’t shame owners, either. That includes not calling them bad pet parents because their cats are overweight.”Don’t be condescending, judgy, or incite arguments,” the rules read. No politics or medical advice. In an internet world full of snark and trolling, Chonky is meant to be sacred ground. Jerks will be banned.Diaz, who lives with a ginger tabby named Flynn (pictured at the top of this article), created the Chonky group one night in May 2018. “One major issue I noticed in animal groups was owner and pet shaming, especially if the animal was overweight,” Diaz tells me. “It made me sad to see them being torn down for posting a picture of a beloved pet that they were excited to share.” In an internet world full of snark and trolling, Chonky is meant to be sacred ground. Jerks will be banned. Tags You don’t have to look far to see what Diaz is talking about. Reddit’s popular Aww group is sometimes beset by this issue. A post showing a short video of a fat and fluffy cat received responses calling the owners out for “at least negligence, if not straight-up abuse.” It’s hard to know the stories behind the overweight pets we glimpse on social media. Are they on diets? Do they have medical conditions? Are they recent rescues?Diaz created Chonky to be “a safe group to post chubby cats, or any cats, without meanness.” The term “chonky” came to her when she was looking at a photo of a fat cat. She thought it felt like internet-speak for “chunky.” Chonky strummed Facebook heartstrings right from the start, zipping to over 100,000 members by the end of 2018. When it hit 125,000, Diaz accepted the help of a small group of Chonky followers who offered to become moderators. They work their butts off. “Chonky isn’t immune to the problems of nasty internet users and trolling, myself and the mods just remove problem people fast and have learned what types of posts are most likely to start problems,” Diaz says. “A lot of love and work goes into keeping the group how it is.” Moderator Natalie Bunting, who also volunteers at a cat rescue, says the rule to “be nice” is the one most frequently violated. She has witnessed (and quashed) arguments for and against outdoor cats, political statements and personal attacks, like a member telling another to clean up a house seen in a photo. “There are literally well over a thousand member requests each day and at least 200 posts an hour,” she says. “It’s absolutely mind blowing.” Volunteering to wrangle Chonky posts is time-consuming, but Bunting sticks around because she’s connected with Diaz and the other mods. They blow off steam in a behind-the-scenes chat group, where Bunting says they laugh, cry and support each other. A lot of the conversation revolves around Chonky business, such as which posts should be approved or whether a member should be banned, but sometimes it veers into talk of families, food and work. “The subject can change 30 times within 30 minutes and it is the most entertaining chat I’ve ever been a part of,” says Bunting, who has two chonks of her own: Cubby and Baxter. “They are the goodest boys,” she reports.This rotund fluffster is the kind of cat Chonky members love to coo over. Amanda Kooser/CNET Chonky terminologyChonky is a closed group, so you need to be a member to see the fur flying. Here’s a typical day in the life of Chonky: Emily shared a photo of her wide-load black cat sitting on a cable box, eyes poppin’ and two front legs dangling straight down. It attracted 222 comments, including some photoshopped parodies showing the cat wearing a business suit or strolling through a Western town. Another poster demanded to see the group’s “oranges” and kicked off over 600 comments about ginger cats.Lizzie posted her gorgeous 14-year-old fluffy boy, who’s in declining health. She received lots of love. “Cherish your time together, I’m sure he does,” wrote one Chonky member.If you’re fortunate enough to be accepted into Chonky and you can abide by the simple rules, you will need to know some vocabulary.Beans: toe padsCat tax: providing a photo of your own cat when requesting photos from othersChonk: a fat catFloof: fluffinessHamb/hambina: a catNip nops: nipplesPeets: cat feetSlonk: a skinny catSmol: smallTeef: teethThicc: fatVoid: a black catUsed in a paragraph: My boi Archer is a semi-chonk void hamb, while his sister is a smol void slonk. They’re not thicc super-floofs, but their lil peets are adorbs.Fear of the inevitableBunting’s avocado-loving cat, Cubby, suffered from a mysterious illness for months before vets finally diagnosed the rare Cushing’s disease, an adrenal gland issue that can be difficult to treat. The Chonky team posted a GoFundMe fundraiser on Bunting’s behalf, and the community has fed money toward the $2,000 goal to offset Cubby’s steep health expenses. “Sending healing energy for Cubby! Thanks for sharing the chonks with the world,” wrote one Chonky-loving donor.Bunting says the campaign absolutely blew her away at a time when she was dealing with an unexpected death in her family. “As silly as it sounds, the whole thing gave me reasons to smile during an extremely difficult time,” she says. Chonky fans are also mailing her little shirts for Cubby to wear to help protect his fragile skin. “I still have no idea who sent some of them,” Bunting says. Enlarge ImageThe author and her own chonky cat, Archer Amanda Kooser/CNET I’ve been working on this article for a while. My big boy Archer has curled up inside his UFO-shaped cat bed under my monitor stand. He’s sleeping, but there’s now a tiny paw appearing from beneath my keyboard holder, reaching out daintily for the front of my sweater. “Pay attention to me!” I shift my position so his teensy sister Delia can sit on my lap. I visit Chonky a couple of times a day. I do it for the respite of cat pictures. I’m also here because I’m afraid of the future. My cats are over 17. I’ve known them since the day they were born in a friend’s closet as little wiggling bundles of fur, and I love them like they were carved from my own heart. They both have kidney disease. Delia is getting clumsy. Archer had a mysterious seizure some months ago. The vet calls them seniors, and I know someday, probably not too long from now, I will lose them both. As much as I lurk on Chonky, I rarely post. When the day comes that I have to say goodbye to my beautiful cats, I already know I will go to Chonky for solace. And I know a vast community of cat-loving Chonksters will be there to support me. 7
Indian Supreme CourtIndia’s Supreme Court on Thursday heard a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of “triple talaq” and to know whether it was fundamental to Islam.”We are going to decide the validity of triple talaq,” said chief justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, heading a constitution bench.He asked the parties concerned to focus on whether triple talaq was fundamental to Islamic religion.The chief justice said that petitioners and respondents would address the court on whether triple talaq was an enforceable fundamental right.The bench sought suggestions on the broad parameters of the directions the court may issue while deciding the validity of triple talaq.Other judges on the constitution bench are justice Kurian Joseph, justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, justice Uday Umesh Lalit and justice S Abdul Nazeer.The court said both sides would get two days each to argue their case. Thereafter, both sides would get a day each to submit rejoinders.Triple talaq is a practice under which a husband can verbally divorce his wife by uttering the word “talaq” thrice.This has been opposed by a section of the Muslim society while others say it cannot be changed as it is part of Muslim personal law.The Modi government wants triple talaq to go. The practice is not followed in many Muslim countries including Pakistan.
The US-led coalition said Tuesday it had killed the Islamic State group’s self-proclaimed top cleric in an air strike in May on a Syrian town near the Iraqi border.“Coalition forces killed Turki Binali, the self-proclaimed ‘Grand Mufti’ or chief cleric of ISIS in an air strike 31 May in Mayadeen, Syria,” the coalition said in a statement, using an acronym for the jihadist group.Rumours of Binali’s death had circulated after the strike, but there was no official confirmation until the statement.It described Binali as “a close confidant” of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and said he “had a central role in recruiting foreign terrorist fighters and provoking terrorist attacks around the world.”A 2016 US Treasury Department counter-terrorism designation identified Binali as a citizen of Bahrain born in the country in 1984.He was also listed under UN sanctions, which described him as having been chosen as IS’s “chief religious advisor” in 2014.He served as head of IS’s religious compliance police, a recruiter of foreign fighters and on a team of advisors to Baghdadi, according to the UN listing.He was killed in a strike that came days after another US-led coalition air raid on Mayadeen that reportedly killed the founder of IS’s notorious Amaq propaganda agency.The 29 May strike killed Rayan Mashaal, also known as Baraa Kadek, according to local Syrian activists, though the coalition has not yet confirmed that.The IS deaths come as the group is under major pressure in Syria and neighbouring Iraq.Its fighters are surrounded in the Old City of Iraq’s Mosul, and under attack in their Syrian stronghold of Raqa from a US-backed alliance that has also seized four neighbourhoods of the city.Russia said on Friday it was seeking to verify whether Baghdadi was killed when its warplanes hit the group’s leaders in a night raid in Syria last month.More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests before spiralling into a war that has drawn in jihadists and foreign powers.