31 October, 2018

This Is What It Looks Like When A Political Movement Gets Desperate

ANN ARBOR, Mich. ― A radio ad getting wide play in Michigan offers a vivid example of the kinds of lies circulating all over the country in advance of next week’s midterm elections ― and who is primarily responsible for telling them.
The subject is Proposal 2, a ballot initiative that would set up a bipartisan commission to draw district lines for seats in the state Legislature and Congress. The measure’s goal is to end partisan gerrymandering, but the ad barely mentions that. It focuses instead on the commissioners and their supposed ability to raid the state treasury.
“The only guarantee is that it will cost you an insane amount of money,” the ad’s narrator warns. “Proposal 2 writes a blank check to 13 new ‘commissioners’ for a new bureaucracy, and they can spend whatever they want. No limits on staffing, lawyers, or consultants. Or themselves. Unlimited pay and perks.”
Just in case the prospect of greedy bureaucrats isn’t enough to scare off voters, the ad also claims that the money would divert funds from vital state needs: “Your taxes won’t be fixing roads or teaching children,” the narrator warns.
The bit about the roads is a nice touch, because Michigan’s roads are famously among the worst in the countryBut the claims in the ad are absurd.

29 October, 2018

The Fetishization of Mr. Rogers’s ‘Look for the Helpers’

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood aired from 1968 to 2001, and it continues to run in syndication and on streaming services today. It was intended for preschoolers, which means that anyone who had kids under age 5 and owned a television, and anyone who was a child of that age since then, probably became neighbors with Mr. Rogers. That covers just about the entire U.S. population, which explains why the man and his show are so recognizable. The program’s ubiquity also speaks to the applicability of the “Look for the helpers” idea—it’s easy to quote or cite on-air or online, and it binds people of many generations and walks of life in tender recognition.

But it was never meant to do that much work. Rogers was an expert at translating the complex adult world in terms kids could understand: a grown-up emissary to a children’s nation. “Look for the helpers” was advice for preschoolers. But somehow, when it got transformed into a meme, the sentiment was adopted by adults as if they were 3-year-olds.

28 October, 2018

Muslims Unite for Pittsburgh Synagogue

In a campaign organized by CelebrateMercy and MPower Change, the Muslim-American community extends its hands to help the shooting victims, whether it is the injured victims or the Jewish families who have lost loved ones.
We wish to respond to evil with good, as our faith instructs us, and send a powerful message of compassion through action. Our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: "Show mercy to those on earth, and the One in the Heavens will show mercy to you." The Quran also teaches us to "Repel evil by that which is better"(41:34). 

27 October, 2018

A Massacre in the Heart of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/27/opinion/synagogue-shooting-pittsburgh.htmlEvery Jewish community in America will now have to make sensible decisions about how to ensure that they are not the next victims of someone like Mr. Bowers. But those hard choices should not make us forget the core values that make communities like Squirrel Hill what they are: welcoming, big-hearted and profoundly decent. One of the gifts of the Jewish experience in America is that because we have been so welcomed and so safe here, these values have been able to flourish.
Just as every Jewish couple gets married under a canopy open on all four sides — a replica of the tent modeled for us by Abraham and Sarah — so must Jewish communities keep our tents open. This is the true source of our longevity and resilience.
Now the Jews of Pittsburgh join the growing list of communities around the world that have been terrorized by anti-Semitic fanatics, from Kansas City to Brussels to Mumbai to Jerusalem. The heartbreak is indescribable.
But Squirrel Hill, I am certain, will continue to live by the values that the Jews have sustained for more than 2,000 years. They can never be gunned down.

Cesar Sayoc’s Path on Social Media: From Food Photos to Partisan Fury

In recent months, Mr. Sayoc’s behavior changed. His posts took on a darker, more obsessive tone, often accompanied by threats of violence and gory images of bloody animal carcasses. No longer mistakable as an everyday internet partisan, he posted repeatedly about “unconquered Seminoles,” a reference to the tribe that he appears to have adopted. (It also appeared on his van.) And on Twitter, his messages turned dark and sinister.
He directed a tweet at Ms. Waters, the California Democrat, with a photo of what appeared to be her house. The message read: “see you soon.”
He sent another to Eric H. Holder Jr., an attorney general under Mr. Obama, that read, “See u soon Tick Tock.” And he told Zephyr Teachout, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for attorney general in New York, that he had a surprise waiting for her. “We Unconquered Seminole Tribe have a special Air boat tour lined up for you here in our Swamp Everglades,” he wrote. “See u real soon. Hug your loved ones.”

26 October, 2018

Kroger Shooting Suspect Tried to Enter Black Church Before Killing 2, Police Say

A gunman who killed two people at a Kroger supermarket in Jeffersontown, Ky., on Wednesday tried to enter a predominantly black church minutes before the attack, the police said on Thursday.

25 October, 2018

What the Hell Happened to Darius Miles?

When you pop out the womb in East St. Louis, it’s guns, drugs and danger, from start to finish. And I’m not saying that to brag or nothing. It’s just what it is. It’s the murder capital. And the thing about it is that it’s only 89 blocks.
So no matter who you are, or how much you try to keep your head down … there’s nowhere to hide. You’re in it. There’s no choice. Fact of the matter is, I had a lot of cousins who were street pharmacists. A lot of my people were Streets Disciples. It was what it was. You heard gunshots every night. Routine. You don’t know any different. But that’s the thing ― you might read about those kinds of places, or see them on TV. I don’t think the average person reading this in Montana or whatever understands what it’s like to be a kid in that environment.
You don’t have any dreams. You’re just thinking about survival.

24 October, 2018

Trump: Acts Or Threats Of Political Violence 'An Attack On Democracy Itself'

President Trump began his rally in Wisconsin Wednesday night by condemning apparent explosive devices sent to former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others, saying that "any acts or threats of political violence are an attack on democracy itself."

"No nation can succeed that tolerates violence or the threat of violence as a method of political intimidation," Trump said, pledging an "aggressive investigation" that will bring the suspects to justice "hopefully very soon."

What I Learned About Life at My 30th College Reunion

  1. https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/10/what-my-harvard-college-reunion-taught-me-about-life/573847/
  2. No one’s life turned out exactly as they thought it would, even the most ardent planners.
  3. Every classmate who became a teacher or doctor seemed happy with their choice of career.
  4. Many lawyers seemed either unhappy or itching for a change, with the exception of those who became law professors. (See number 2 above.)
  5. Nearly every single banker or fund manager wanted to find a way to use their money to give back (some had concrete plans, some didn't), and many, at this point, seemed to want to leave Wall Street as soon as possible to take up some sort of art.

23 October, 2018

Apps Installed On Millions Of Android Phones Tracked User Behavior To Execute A Multimillion-Dollar Ad Fraud Scheme

One way the fraudsters find apps for their scheme is to acquire legitimate apps through We Purchase Apps and transfer them to shell companies. They then capture the behavior of the app’s human users and program a vast network of bots to mimic it, according to analysis from Protected Media, a cybersecurity and fraud detection firm that analyzed the apps and websites at BuzzFeed News' request.
This means a significant portion of the millions of Android phone owners who downloaded these apps were secretly tracked as they scrolled and clicked inside the application. By copying actual user behavior in the apps, the fraudsters were able to generate fake traffic that bypassed major fraud detection systems.

Philip Cross: Canada’s civil service has forgotten it's supposed to serve 'us'

Some barriers separating the civil service from the public were erected post-9/11 to secure highly public and symbolic structures like the Parliament buildings. However, the practice has spread to most federal government departments and is being copied by more provincial and local governments. Gregg Easterbrook of The Atlantic points out that: “Ostensibly such measures are to keep terrorists out; the primary impact is to keep average people out so lawmakers and officials can interact exclusively with lobbyists, publicists, and donors.” He partly attributes rising popular anger about politics to the growing separation of the public service from ordinary people.

Republicans have a huge strategic advantage in shaping the news.

The hack gap explains why Clinton’s email server received more television news coverage than all policy issues combined in the 2016 election. It explains why Republicans can hope to get away with dishonest spin about preexisting conditions. It’s why Democrats are terrified that Elizabeth Warren’s past statements about Native American heritage could be general election poison in 2020, and it’s why an internecine debate about civility has been roiling progressive circles for nearly two years even while the president of the United States openly praises assaulting journalists.

The Global Financial System Is Dying in a London Courthouse

The fact that a London courthouse has become one of the key battlefields of the war underscores that there’s far more at stake in the Russia-Ukraine war than territory in eastern Ukraine—the fate of the international financial system, at least in its current shape, also hangs in the balance. The only thing that is certain is that, as a result of the war in Ukraine and the ongoing court case it has produced in London, the global financial system will never be the same.

20 October, 2018

"Jamal Khashoggi told me he feared for his life."

Because it will limit his authoritarian rule, and he doesn’t want that. He doesn't see the need for that. So sometimes I feel that...he wants to enjoy the fruits of First World modernity and Silicon Valley and cinemas and everything, but at the same time he wants also to rule like how his grandfather ruled Saudi Arabia.
That doesn't work. You can't have it both ways.
He wants to have it both ways.

Joint Statement from the ODNI, DOJ, FBI and DHS: Combating Foreign Influence in U.S. Elections

We are concerned about ongoing campaigns by Russia, China and other foreign actors, including Iran, to undermine confidence in democratic institutions and influence public sentiment and government policies. These activities also may seek to influence voter perceptions and decision making in the 2018 and 2020 U.S. elections.

Elements of these campaigns can take many forms, including using social media to amplify divisive issues, sponsoring specific content in English-language media like RT and Sputnik, seeding disinformation through sympathetic spokespersons regarding political candidates and disseminating foreign propaganda.

18 October, 2018

Heidi Cruz Didn’t Plan for This

So it’s still hard. But it’s also been more than a decade since that night near the freeway. “When I first moved here, I didn’t know where I fit in. I didn’t have a base, and I felt lost,” she said. “And the answer was: Put your head down, work hard, earn your own credibility again … It often turns out much better than you think.”
I asked Ted whether he thinks his wife is happy now in Houston. “Um, I think … sure,” he said, after taking a couple of beats. “I think she has”—another pause—“a professional life that has been very rewarding, a personal life that is fun and relaxing.”

17 October, 2018

Jamal Khashoggi: What the Arab world needs most is free expression

The Arab world needs a modern version of the old transnational media so citizens can be informed about global events. More important, we need to provide a platform for Arab voices. We suffer from poverty, mismanagement and poor education. Through the creation of an independent international forum, isolated from the influence of nationalist governments spreading hate through propaganda, ordinary people in the Arab world would be able to address the structural problems their societies face.

Original Big Bird, Caroll Spinney, Leaves ‘Sesame Street’ After Nearly 50 Years

Soon after, Henson invited Spinney to play two Muppet characters that were being developed for “Sesame Street,” which made its debut on public television later that year. One was Oscar, who was envisioned as a cranky, trash-loving purple character. (He was orange in his earliest appearances, before taking on his familiar green hue.)
The other was Big Bird, who was performed in a full body costume and who, Spinney said, he was originally asked to play as “a funny, dumb country yokel.”
After a few episodes, Spinney made a suggestion to the show’s producers. “I said, I think I should play him like he’s a child, a surrogate,” he recalled. “He can be all the things that children are. He can learn with the kids.”
That had a lasting effect on Big Bird and on “Sesame Street,” where the character came to embody the tender, nurturing soul of the show.

16 October, 2018

Where oil rigs go to die

When a drilling platform is scheduled for destruction, it must go on a thousand-mile final journey to the breaker’s yard. As one rig proved when it crashed on to the rocks of a remote Scottish island, this is always a risky business

15 October, 2018

Why Doctors Reject Tools That Make Their Jobs Easier

The Philadelphia hospital accepted the computer-based list of worrisome fevers, but then deployed their best doctors and nurses to apply Grimaud’s “highly practiced touch” and look over the children before declaring the infection was deadly and bringing them into the hospital for intravenous medications. Their teams were able to weed out the algorithm’s false alarms with high accuracy, and in addition find cases the computer missed, bringing their detection rate of deadly infections from 86.2 percent by the algorithm alone, to 99.4 percent by the algorithm in combination with human perception.

In Flight

09 October, 2018

Franciszek Gajowniczek

Franciszek Gajowniczek (15 November 1901 – 13 March 1995)[2][3] was a Polish army sergeant whose life was saved at Auschwitz by priest Maximilian Kolbe, who volunteered to die in his place.[2] Gajowniczek had been sent to Auschwitz concentration camp from Gestapo prison in Tarnów. He was captured while crossing the border into Slovakia after the defeat of the Modlin Fortress during the 1939 invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany. Gajowniczek and Kolbe met as inmates of Auschwitz in May 1941.[2]

04 October, 2018

The Ultimate Sitcom

Schur told me he wants to stress, in his show, the hard work of morality. So much of our ethical life is about thankless grinding drudgery, daily feats of internal strength, a constant invisible resistance.
“It feels, all the time in life, like a bad decision is right in front of you,” Schur said. “No matter who you are, there’s the opportunity to make bad decisions and hurt people. And it takes work just to keep not making those bad decisions. It takes a lot of concentrated effort to do the right thing all the time. Hopefully, you get so used to it, and it becomes such a part of who you are, that it doesn’t take work — you’re on autopilot making good decisions. But not always, and for a lot of people, not ever. You don’t have to look very hard to see a group of people in this country who have given in and are just making the worst decisions you can make. Like the most selfish, the most corrupt, the most evil decisions — and they’re just doing it as a matter of course. And it’s way too late. They’re never gonna go the other way.”
In the face of so much badness, Schur said, it is always tempting to give up. But the heroic thing is simply to try.

03 October, 2018

Why The CIA Went Along With A Big Russian Lie

Yet one death in America has already raised alarms. Vladimir Putin’s former media czar Mikhail Lesin was found dead in his Washington, DC, hotel room in 2015 with blunt force trauma to the head, neck, legs, arms, and torso.
Authorities announced that the death was an alcohol-related accident. But multiple current and former FBI agents and intelligence officials told BuzzFeed News last year that he was bludgeoned to death on the eve of a planned interview with officials from the Department of Justice, who had invited him to Washington to discuss the inner workings of the Kremlin-funded network Russia Today. Additionally, Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer and the author of the famous Trump dossier, provided a secret report to the FBI asserting that Lesin was bludgeoned to death by thugs hired by an oligarch close to Putin. The CIA has declined to comment on Lesin’s death.