Read at: 2017-09-25T01:34:58+01:00

Secondary teachers’ unions in row over ‘poaching’ of members

ASTI accuses TUI of recruiting a number of its members during dispute with Government

Source: The Irish Times - News | 25 Sep 2017 | 1:11 am IST

Hurricane Maria leaves Arecibo radio telescope damaged and dark

Feed antenna collapses, dropping debris onto main dish

In the midst of the humanitarian disaster unfolding after Puerto Rico was battered by Hurricane Maria, astronomers working at the Arecibo radio telescope have reported damage that will leave it unable to operate for months.…

Source: The Register | 25 Sep 2017 | 1:09 am IST

Jared Kushner used private email account for official business – reports

Lawyers for president’s son-in-law say Kushner complied with government record-keeping rules by forwarding all emails to his official account

Donald Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser, Jared Kushner, used a private email account alongside his official White House account to exchange messages with other administration officials, according to reports.

The emails included correspondence about media coverage, event planning and other subjects, Politico reported on Sunday. Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said his client complied with government record-keeping rules by forwarding all the emails to his official account.

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 25 Sep 2017 | 1:07 am IST

US expands travel ban to include N Korea

People from Venezuela and Chad will also now face restrictions on travel to the United States.

Source: BBC News - Home | 25 Sep 2017 | 1:07 am IST

Jared Kushner used private email for White House business

The president's adviser and son-in-law used a private email account for official business.

Source: BBC News - Home | 25 Sep 2017 | 1:04 am IST

Jared Kushner uses private email for White House business

You don't have to be a former presidential hopeful to draw heat over using private email for work. Politico has revealed that presidential senior adviser (not to mention son-in-law) Jared Kushner has been using a private email account to conduct Whit...

Source: Engadget RSS Feed | 25 Sep 2017 | 1:00 am IST

Students sleep on couches and in hostels due to rental shortage

One postgraduate student has been living in a 10-bed tourist hostel dorm

Source: The Irish Times - News | 25 Sep 2017 | 1:00 am IST

Chicago School Official: US IT Jobs Offshored Because 'We Weren't Making Our Own' Coders

theodp writes: In a slick new video, segments of which were apparently filmed looking out from Google's Chicago headquarters giving it a nice high-tech vibe, Chicago Public Schools' CS4ALL staffers not-too-surprisingly argue that creating technology is "a power that everyone needs to have." In the video, the Director of Computer Science and IT Education for the nation's third largest school district offers a take on why U.S. IT jobs were offshored that jibes nicely with the city's new computer science high school graduation requirement. From the transcript: "People still talk about it's all offshored, it's all in India and you know, there are some things that are there but they don't even realize some of the reasons that they went there in the first place is because we weren't making our own."

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Source: Slashdot | 25 Sep 2017 | 12:37 am IST

Jean-Michel Basquiat: The neglected genius

Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat became hugely famous, very young but a lack of support led to drugs and death at 27, says his former friend.

Source: BBC News - Home | 25 Sep 2017 | 12:32 am IST

Living with violence in the DR Congo

Violent clashes between government and rebel forces has led to huge civilian displacement.

Source: BBC News - Home | 25 Sep 2017 | 12:20 am IST

Abandoned at Burning Man, bicycles now head for Houston and the Caribbean

How the abandoned bikes of Burning Man are making their way to hurricane victims.

Source: BBC News - Home | 25 Sep 2017 | 12:15 am IST

Jeans giant Levi Strauss gets its mojo back

The US clothing firm is now enjoying five years of profit growth as it recovers from past woes.

Source: BBC News - Home | 25 Sep 2017 | 12:02 am IST

How plastic became a victim of its own success

Cheap plastic has become ubiquitous, but we need to get better at recycling it.

Source: BBC News - Home | 25 Sep 2017 | 12:02 am IST

Ireland to narrowly miss target to relocate 600 asylum seekers

State has performed well compared with other EU countries, Amnesty says

Source: The Irish Times - News | 25 Sep 2017 | 12:01 am IST

Sputnik-1 replica used to test the real thing goes under the hammer

If you've got a lazy US$100k to $150k, a piece of history can be yours on Wednesday

A replica of Sputnik-1 used to test the real thing's performance goes to auction this week.…

Source: The Register | 25 Sep 2017 | 12:01 am IST

Portuguese children to crowdfund European climate change case

Group from region hit by deadly forest fires to sue 47 countries alleging failure to tackle climate change threatens their right to life

Portuguese schoolchildren from the area struck by the country’s worst forest fires are seeking crowdfunding to sue 47 European countries, alleging that the states’ failure to tackle climate change threatens their right to life.

The children, from the Leiria region of central Portugal, where fires this summer killed more than 60 people and left hundreds injured, are being represented by British barristers who are experts in environmental and climate change law.

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 25 Sep 2017 | 12:01 am IST

Youth groups encouraged to apply for new €6m equipment fund

Young members to be consulted on how best way to spend the new resources

Source: The Irish Times - News | 25 Sep 2017 | 12:01 am IST

Brexit could spell extinction for endangered Irish flora and fauna

Campaigners warm joint efforts to protect the environment may be undermined

Source: The Irish Times - News | 25 Sep 2017 | 12:01 am IST

NFL protests after Donald Trump comments unlike anything I've seen - Osi Umenyiora

Protests at NFL games on Sunday were "unlike anything I've ever seen before", says two-time Super Bowl winner Osi Umenyiora.

Source: BBC News - Home | 25 Sep 2017 | 12:00 am IST

The fishermen saving Pakistan's island dogs

Dozens of stray dogs live on an uninhabited island off Karachi, where fishermen help keep them alive.

Source: BBC News - Home | 25 Sep 2017 | 12:00 am IST

Swears, savings and scratch cards: The good, bad and ugly of Ryanair

We recount some of the remarkable tales generated by Michael O’Leary’s high-flying baby

Source: The Irish Times - News | 25 Sep 2017 | 12:00 am IST

Google AMP Flaw Exploited By Russian Hackers Targeting Journalists

An anonymous reader writes: Russian hacktivist group Fancy Bear (also referred to as APT28, Sofacy, and Strontium) has been using a flaw in Google's caching of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to phish targets, Salon reports. To make matters worse, Google has been aware of the bug for almost a year but has refused to fix it... The vulnerability involves how Google delivers URLs for AMP pages to its search users in an effort to speed up mobile browsing. This makes Google products more vulnerable to phishing attacks. Conservative blogger Matthew Sheffield writes in the article that most of the known targets "appear to have been journalists who were investigating allegations of corruption or other wrongdoing by people affiliated with the Russian government." One such target was Aric Toler, a researcher and writer for the website Bellingcat who specializes in analyzing Russian media and the country's relationship with far-right groups within Europe and America... another journalist who writes frequently about Russia, David Satter, was taken in by a similar AMP phishing message... Shortly after Satter was tricked into visiting the fake website and entering his password, a program that was hosting the site logged into his Gmail account and downloaded its entire contents. Within three weeks, as the Canadian website Citizen Lab reported, the perpetrators of the hack began posting Satter's documents online, and even altering them to make opponents and critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin look bad. Google told Salon they've "made a number of changes" to AMP -- without saying what they were. (After contacting Google for a comment, AMP's creator and tech lead blocked public comments on a Github bug report about Google's AMP implementation.) "More things ... will come on Google's side in the future and we are working with browser vendors to eventually get the origin right," AMP's tech lead wrote last February. Jason Kint, CEO of a major web publishing trade association, told Salon that "This report of an ongoing security issue is troubling and exactly why consolidation of power and closed standards are problematic. The sooner AMP migrates to the open web and becomes less tied to the interests of Google, in every way the better."

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Source: Slashdot | 24 Sep 2017 | 11:49 pm IST

Tennessee church shooting halted by 'extraordinarily brave' usher

Police praised the "extraordinarily brave" actions of the usher at the church near Nashville.

Source: BBC News - Home | 24 Sep 2017 | 11:44 pm IST

Television with built-in Fire TV makes better use of your voice

One of the Element Fire TV Edition set's main hooks is clearly its Alexa voice control, so it stands to reason that the entire television stands to benefit the more you can use it, doesn't it? Sure enough, Element is trotting out an update that makes...

Source: Engadget RSS Feed | 24 Sep 2017 | 11:33 pm IST

Chaos at Sydney airport as flights cancelled at start of school holidays

Early morning power cut in air traffic control grounds hundreds of domestic passengers

Sydney airport was thrown into chaos on the first day of the NSW school holidays after a technical problem grounded all departing flights.

Hundreds of passengers were affected after power in the traffic systems operations went down about 5am on Monday. Virgin Australia, Qantas and Jetstar all confirmed the problem was affecting their flights.

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 11:16 pm IST

Garth Crooks' team of the week: Kane, Morata, Coutinho, Eriksen, Sane

Which player is a "genius"? Who is a "model professional"? Find out in Garth Crooks' team of the week.

Source: BBC News - Home | 24 Sep 2017 | 11:11 pm IST

NFL players kneel for anthem in unprecedented defiance of Trump

NFL players staged an unprecedented wave of protest on Sunday, beginning at Wembley Stadium in London, as Donald Trump maintained his attack on players who kneel in protest of the national anthem.

Related: Memo to Trump after his NFL rant: sport is, and always has been, political

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 11:11 pm IST

Germany election: A hollow victory for Angela Merkel

The German chancellor may have won the election but the result does not feel like a victory.

Source: BBC News - Home | 24 Sep 2017 | 11:10 pm IST

Chairman Zuck ends would-be president Zuck's political career

Facebook gives up on share plan that would give Zuck control forever, even if he worked for government

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's personal challenge for 2017 was “to have visited and met people in every state in the US by the end of the year.” He'd already visited 20, so the effort to tick off the other 30 means he's travelled rather a lot in 2017. That Facebook also hired former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe meant that many have observed his travels look like just the sort of thing a political aspirant would do to lay the foundations for a tilt at elected office. The theory was helped by a 2016 proposal to let Zuckerberg retain control of Facebook even if he stepped away from running the company to work in government.…

Source: The Register | 24 Sep 2017 | 10:58 pm IST

'Jeremy Corbyn has exceeded expectations': Sadiq Khan talks to Katharine Viner – video

Guardian editor-in-chief Katharine Viner asks Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, about housing in the capital, Brexit and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Khan’s verdict on Corbyn is: ‘Good manifesto, energising Labour supporters who’d left our fold, bringing them back, energise a new generation of Labour voters … huge progress made by Jeremy in the space of two years’

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 10:57 pm IST

NFL players, owners defy Trump on anthem protests

National Football League players sat out, knelt and linked arms during pre-game national anthems played across the US and in London today, hours after US President Donald Trump called on fans to boycott teams that do not discipline players who protest.

Source: RTÉ News - News Headlines | 24 Sep 2017 | 10:51 pm IST

Sinn Féin wants power-sharing deal with DUP, says Adams

Sinn Féin is still committed to making a deal with the DUP to return to power-sharing, Gerry Adams has insisted.

Source: RTÉ News - News Headlines | 24 Sep 2017 | 10:50 pm IST

Merkel hangs on to power but loses support to far right

German Chancellor Angela Merkel won a fourth term in office today but Europe's most powerful leader will have to govern with a far less stable coalition in a fractured parliament after her conservatives haemorrhaged support to a surging far right.

Source: RTÉ News - News Headlines | 24 Sep 2017 | 10:50 pm IST

Richard Stallman vs. Canonical's CEO: 'Will Microsoft Love Linux to Death?'

TechRepublic got different answers about Microsoft's new enthusiasm for Linux from Canonical's founder and CEO Mark Shuttleworth, and from Richard Stallman. Stallman "believes that Microsoft's decision to build a Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) amounts to an attempt to extinguish software that users are free to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve." "It certainly looks that way. But it won't be so easy to extinguish us, because our reasons for using and advancing free software are not limited to practical convenience," he said. "We want freedom. As a way to use computers in freedom, Windows is a non-starter..." Stallman remains adamant that the WSL can only help entrench the dominance of proprietary software like Windows, and undermine the use of free software. "That doesn't advance the cause of free software, not one bit," he says... "The aim of the free software movement is to free users from freedom-denying proprietary programs and systems, such as Windows. Making a non-free system, such Windows or MacOS or iOS or ChromeOS or Android, more convenient is a step backward in the campaign for freedom..." For Shuttleworth, Windows' embrace of GNU/Linux is a net positive for open-source software as a whole. "It's not like Microsoft is stealing our toys, it's more that we're sharing them with Microsoft in order to give everyone the best possible experience," he says. "WSL provides users who are well versed in the Windows environment with greater choice and flexibility, while also opening up a whole new potential user base for the open source platform..." Today Shuttleworth takes Microsoft's newfound enthusiasm for GNU/Linux at face value, and says the company has a different ethos to that of the 1990s, a fresh perspective that benefits Microsoft as much as it does open-source software. "Microsoft is a different company now, with a much more balanced view of open and competitive platforms on multiple fronts," he says. "They do a tremendous amount of engineering specifically to accommodate open platforms like Ubuntu on Azure and Hyper-V, and this work is being done in that spirit." The article also points out that Microsoft "does seem to be laying the groundwork for WSL to extend what's possible using a single GNU/Linux distro today, for instance, letting the user chain together commands from different GNU/Linux distros with those from Windows."

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Source: Slashdot | 24 Sep 2017 | 10:34 pm IST

Fifa to lift ban on poppy following talks with football associations of UK

Football's world governing body is set to lift the ban on use of the poppy following talks with the football associations of the United Kingdom.

Source: BBC News - Home | 24 Sep 2017 | 10:31 pm IST

Trump NFL row: Defiance after US president urges boycott

Players kneel in protest during the US anthem as the president's remarks are strongly condemned.

Source: BBC News - Home | 24 Sep 2017 | 10:27 pm IST

One dead and seven injured in church shooting stopped by 'hero' usher

A masked gunman entered a church in Tennessee on Sunday and opened fire, killing one person and injuring seven others before shooting himself, an official said. Nashville mayor Megan Barry called the shooting “a terrible tragedy for our city”.

Metropolitan Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron said a church usher who confronted the gunman was pistol-whipped by the suspect, who then apparently shot himself during a struggle. The usher then went to his own car to retrieve his own gun, Aaron said, returned and stood over the suspect until police arrived.

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 10:16 pm IST

German elections 2017: detailed results

Electors in Germany today voted to elect a new Bundestag, the federal parliament. Angela Merkel is likely to stay on as chancellor, but may have to form a new coalition. Meanwhile, the radical right-wing AfD has entered parliament as the third-largest party, according to exit polls. We analyse the latest results.

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 10:14 pm IST

Germany election: Merkel wins fourth term, nationalists rise

The chancellor is re-elected but nationalists make a historic breakthrough, sparking protests.

Source: BBC News - Home | 24 Sep 2017 | 10:13 pm IST

‘Naughton’ scholarships awarded to 36 Stem students

Scheme was started by Martin Naughton, founder of GlenDimplex

Source: The Irish Times - News | 24 Sep 2017 | 10:07 pm IST

Robots learn to walk naturally by understanding their bodies

The challenge with bipedal robots isn't so much getting them to walk at all (although that's sometimes a problem) as it is getting them to walk naturally. They tend to either step cautiously or quickly run into trouble. Swiss researchers think they...

Source: Engadget RSS Feed | 24 Sep 2017 | 10:02 pm IST

Gardaí issue appeal for missing girl (13) last seen in Clondalkin

Aoife Hawthorne was last seen on Saturday evening when visiting a friend

Source: The Irish Times - News | 24 Sep 2017 | 9:48 pm IST

Six married men ordained as permanent deacons in Co Cork

Catholic Church studying the possibility of allowing women to serve as deacons

Source: The Irish Times - News | 24 Sep 2017 | 9:43 pm IST

‘Wanderly Wagon’: Mobile cath lab finally arrives in Waterford

Lab will clear diagnostic backlog, but 24/7 cardiac unit still needed, say campaigners

Source: The Irish Times - News | 24 Sep 2017 | 9:43 pm IST

AfD leaders will ‘hound Angela Merkel’ after strong showing at polls

Germany’s rightwing populists likely to take 80 seats in next parliament, achieving best result for any new party since 1949

Leaders of Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland have vowed to “take back our country and our people” and “hound Angela Merkel” with a legal investigation into the refugee crisis as they became the first overtly nationalist party to swoop into the Bundestag in more than five decades.

As the figures of the first exit polls flashed up on the screen shortly after 6pm on Sunday, supporters inside a Berlin nightclub hired by AfD broke out into a spontaneous rendition of the national anthem – though they made sure to skip the first two stanzas, still strongly associated with the Third Reich.

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 9:40 pm IST

Plans for 150 social homes in Dublin’s Ayrfield

Apartments, to be built using public private partnership, need approval from councillors

Source: The Irish Times - News | 24 Sep 2017 | 9:37 pm IST

'Star Trek: Discovery' Premieres Tonight

An anonymous reader quotes Tonight CBS will premiere the first new Star Trek TV series in 12 years at 8:30 p.m. on the company's regular broadcast network. Immediately afterward, the second episode of Star Trek: Discovery will stream exclusively on CBS All Access -- the company's $6 per month streaming service... CBS saw an opportunity to leverage the built-in popularity of Star Trek to help fuel its fledgling All Access streaming service. The service currently has about 1 million subscribers and the company's goal is to grow it to 4 million by 2020... But once fans watch Discovery, they'll notice the show's production values aren't like a typical broadcast show, but more reminiscent of a premium cable or streaming show. CBS was able to justify spending a bit more money on Discovery since it's going onto the paid tier. Sometimes, you really do get what you pay for. The Los Angeles Times reports each episode costs $8 million -- though Netflix is paying $6 million for each episode's international broadcast rights. The show's main title sequence has been released, and the Verge reports that the show is set before the original 1966 series (but after Star Trek: Enterprise) along with some other possible spoilers. asked one of the show's actors who his favorite Star Trek captain was. "I mean, Kirk," answered James Frain, who plays the Vulcan Sarek in Discovery. "That's like, 'Who's your favorite James Bond?', and if you don't say 'Sean Connery,' really? Come on."

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Source: Slashdot | 24 Sep 2017 | 9:34 pm IST

Appeal for teenage girl missing from Dublin

Gardaí are appealing for help in locating a teenage girl who has been reported missing in Dublin.

Source: RTÉ News - News Headlines | 24 Sep 2017 | 9:33 pm IST

Angela Merkel faces stark choice between coalition or minority rule

Chancellor is expected to try to reach agreement with parties that between them denied her a majority in the Bundestag

Germany is braced for a period of fraught and protracted coalition talks after Sunday’s elections left an unprecedented number of parties jostling for influence in the next parliament.

With Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, the centre-left Social Democratic party (SPD), rightwing populist Alternative für Deutschland, pro-business FDP, leftwing Die Linke and the Green party, six parties will crowd into the Bundestag’s plenary chamber, a first since the introduction of a 5% hurdle for parliamentary seats in 1953.

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 9:32 pm IST

Number of gardaí injured on duty increases to 660 in 2016

Bites, grazes and bruises most common injuries sustained by gardaí, says GRA

Source: The Irish Times - News | 24 Sep 2017 | 9:14 pm IST

German elections 2017: Angela Merkel wins fourth term but AfD makes gains – as it happened

This is important for French president Emmanuel Macron’s hopes for eurozone reform, including a eurozone budget, finance minister and transfers: the pro-business FDP party, Merkel’s likely coalition partner along with the Greens, will not play ball.

"€60bn eurozone budget flowing into France or Italy is inconceivable for us...a line in the sand," sez FDP leader @c_lindner.

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 9:09 pm IST

Bus crash in Austrian Alps averted after tourist applies brake

The passenger reached the brake moments before the vehicle left the road in the Alps, police say.

Source: BBC News - Home | 24 Sep 2017 | 8:53 pm IST

Irish woman claims Isis cell discussed terror attack in Dublin

Woman who converted to Islam says London knife attack terrorists linked to Dublin fraud

Source: The Irish Times - News | 24 Sep 2017 | 8:46 pm IST

Ted Cruz joins Republicans ranged against Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill

Effort to replace ACA appears doomed as Cruz indicates Lee will follow him and Collins says it is ‘very difficult’ for her to envision voting for the bill

The Trump administration’s latest efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) appeared to be disintegrating over the weekend, as a growing number of Republican senators indicated they would vote against the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill.

Related: Trump attacks McCain and other Republicans over healthcare failure

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 8:39 pm IST

Civilian Drone Crashes Into a US Army Helicopter

An anonymous reader quotes the New York Post: It was nearly Black Hawk down over Staten Island -- when an Army chopper was struck by an illegally flying drone over a residential neighborhood, authorities said Friday. The UA60 helicopter was flying 500 feet over Midland Beach alongside another Black Hawk, when the drone struck the chopper at around 8:15 p.m. Thursday, causing damage to its rotor blades. The uninjured pilot was able to land safely at nearby Linden Airport in New Jersey... "Our aircraft was not targeted, this was a civilian drone," said Army Lieutenant Colonel Joe Buccino, the spokesman for the 82nd Airborne... "One blade was damaged [and] dented in two spots and requires replacement and there is a dented window"... The NYPD and the military are investigating -- but no arrests have been made. The same day a federal judge struck down an ordinance banning drone flights over private property that had been passed by the city of Newton, Massachusetts. But local law enforcement warned that "an out of control helicopter could have crashed into residential homes causing numerous injuries and even fatalities," while the Post reports that drones have also crashed into a power plant and into the 40th floor of the Empire State Building. "In February, a GoPro drone crashed through a Manhattan woman's 27th floor window and landed just feet away from her as she sat in her living room."

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Source: Slashdot | 24 Sep 2017 | 8:34 pm IST

Office 365's revamped web launchers put you to work sooner

Sometimes, it's not your productivity apps that need a tune-up... it's how you get to those apps that needs work. And Microsoft knows it. The tech firm has redesigned the front end and Office 365's web app launcher. There's now a recommend...

Source: Engadget RSS Feed | 24 Sep 2017 | 8:31 pm IST

Investigation as man dies during restraint and arrest by gardaí

Gardaí refer case to Gsoc after man dies having crashed car and forcibly entered houses

Source: The Irish Times - News | 24 Sep 2017 | 8:30 pm IST

Senate blow for Macron as he pushes through unpopular reforms

Partial results showed the centre-right Republican party on track to keep majority after vote for about half of the 348 seats

Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party suffered its first electoral blow on Sunday as rival conservatives dominated elections to the French Senate. The French president is embarking on unpopular changes to labour law and other reforms he hopes will reinvigorate the economy.

Related: Macron takes a page from Trump to change France's labour laws

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 8:28 pm IST

Man arrested on suspicion of murder in Derry

A man has been arrested on suspicion of the murder of a 19-year-old man in Derry.

Source: RTÉ News - News Headlines | 24 Sep 2017 | 7:54 pm IST

Can We Reduce Cow Methane Emissions By Breeding Low-Emission Cattle?

An anonymous reader quotes Popular Science: Raising cattle contributes to global warming in a big way. The animals expel large amounts of methane when they burp and fart, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide. U.S. beef production, in fact, roughly equals the annual emissions of 24 million cars, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. That's a lot of methane... Researchers think there may be a better way. Rather than ask people to give up beef, they are trying to design more climate-friendly cattle. The goal is to breed animals with digestive systems that can create less methane. One approach is to tinker with the microbes that live in the rumen, the main organ in the animals' digestive tract... Scientists in the United Kingdom last year found that a cow's genes influence the makeup of these microbial communities, which include bacteria and also Archaea, the primary producers of methane. This discovery means cattle farmers potentially could selectively breed animals that end up with a lower ratio of Archaea-to-bacteria, thus leading to less methane... "The selection to reduce methane emissions would be permanent, cumulative and sustainable over generations as with any other trait, such as growth rate, milk yield, etc. used in animal breeding." This, over time, "would have a substantial impact on methane emissions from livestock," Roehe said. Breeding low-emission cattle would also make it cheaper to raise cattle -- and improve the quality of meat.

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Source: Slashdot | 24 Sep 2017 | 7:34 pm IST

Dublin's goal rush secures All-Ireland glory

Dublin ended their losing streak in All-Ireland ladies football finals with a dominant display of attacking football to beat Mayo 4-11 to 0-11.

Source: RTÉ News - News Headlines | 24 Sep 2017 | 7:16 pm IST

Luke Campbell reveals his father died two weeks before Jorge Linares fight

Luke Campbell reveals his father died two weeks before Saturday's world title defeat by Jorge Linares in California.

Source: BBC News - Home | 24 Sep 2017 | 7:12 pm IST

Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 Newcastle United

Tomer Hemed scores the only goal as Brighton beat Newcastle United to record their second successive home Premier League win.

Source: BBC News - Home | 24 Sep 2017 | 7:08 pm IST

Domestic violence against women costs EU states €109bn

33% of females aged over 15 in the EU have experienced physical or sexual violence

Source: The Irish Times - News | 24 Sep 2017 | 7:00 pm IST

Maze-like chip helps spot aggressive cancer cells

It's difficult to spot cancer cells -- just one in a billion blood cells are cancerous. How do you isolate them to know the trouble someone is facing and eventually treat it? By drawing the kind of mazes you enjoyed as a kid, apparently. Researche...

Source: Engadget RSS Feed | 24 Sep 2017 | 6:59 pm IST

Greece: missing British woman reportedly killed by stray dogs

Foreign Office would not confirm reports that 64-year-old woman was retired Oxford University professor

A British tourist is believed to have died in Greece after apparently being attacked by a pack of stray dogs.

The 64-year-old woman remains unaccounted for on the mainland, according to the British Foreign Office.

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 6:54 pm IST

Direct provision needs to be replaced, bishop tells Kilburn Mass

Current system ‘very unsatisfactory’, says Bishop of Clonfert Dr John Kirby

Source: The Irish Times - News | 24 Sep 2017 | 6:53 pm IST

Lakes of mercury and human sacrifices – after 1,800 years, Teotihuacan reveals its treasures

When archaeologists found a tunnel under Mexico’s ‘birthplace of the gods’, they could only dream of the riches they would discover. Now its wonders – from jewel-eyed figures to necklaces of human teeth – are being revealed to the world

In 2003, a tunnel was discovered beneath the Feathered Serpent pyramid in the ruins of Teotihuacan, the ancient city in Mexico. Undisturbed for 1,800 years, the sealed-off passage was found to contain thousands of extraordinary treasures lying exactly where they had first been placed as ritual offerings to the gods. Items unearthed included greenstone crocodile teeth, crystals shaped into eyes, and sculptures of jaguars ready to pounce. Even more remarkable was a miniature mountainous landscape, 17 metres underground, with tiny pools of liquid mercury representing lakes. The walls of the tunnel were found to have been carefully impregnated with powdered pyrite, or fool’s gold, to give the effect in firelight of standing under a galaxy of stars.

The archaeological site, near Mexico City, is one of the largest and most important in the world, with millions of visitors every year. This was its most exciting development for decades – and the significance of these new discoveries is explored in a major exhibition opening this month at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 6:52 pm IST

Teenager dies after scrambler bike collides with car in Co Antrim

Marcus Forsythe (15) died after his bike collided with car in Ballymoney

Source: The Irish Times - News | 24 Sep 2017 | 6:47 pm IST

England v West Indies: Moeen Ali hits 53-ball century in Bristol win

Moeen Ali hits an exhilarating 53-ball century in England's 124-run win over West Indies in Bristol to take a 2-0 lead in the one-day series.

Source: BBC News - Home | 24 Sep 2017 | 6:40 pm IST

German election: Merkel wins fourth term but far-right AfD surges to third

Chancellor returns but with diminished authority as first openly nationalist party in decades enters Bundestag

Angela Merkel has secured a fourth term as German chancellor but with her authority diminished, after her conservative bloc secured the lead position in parliamentary elections but failed to halt the march of rightwing populists.

Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) was celebrating its historic third place success last night, having secured 13% of the vote, according to exit polls, marking the first time in almost six decades that an openly nationalist party will enter the Bundestag.

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 6:33 pm IST

Equifax Hit With 'Dozens' of Lawsuits from Shareholders and Consumers -- Plus a Possible Class Action

An anonymous reader quotes the Washington Post: Since it announced a massive data breach earlier this month, Equifax has been hit with dozens of lawsuits from shareholders, consumers and now one filed by a small Wisconsin credit union that represents what could be the first by a financial institution attempting to preemptively recoup losses caused by alleged fraud the hack could cause... In the lawsuit, which seeks class action status, Madison-based Summit Credit Union says that financial institutions will have to bear the cost of canceling and reissuing credit cards as well as absorbing the cost of any fraudulent charges. They will also lose "profits because their members or customers were unwilling or unable to use their credit cards following the breach," according to the lawsuit... "For financial institutions it is important: They bear the financial responsibility for identity theft," said Summit's attorney Stacey Slaughter of the law firm Robins Kaplan. "All of the components that would allow someone to create a new identity" were exposed in the Equifax hack. Equifax responded that they can't comment on pending litigation, according to the article, though "Equifax has said it did its best to respond to the breach and alerted consumers as quickly as it could..." "The company's stock price has fallen 27 percent since it announced the hack September 7."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot | 24 Sep 2017 | 6:30 pm IST

Uber seeks talks with London mayor to renew licence

Taxi app firm says it is willing to change, as Tories clash with Labour and unions over Uber's future.

Source: BBC News - Home | 24 Sep 2017 | 6:25 pm IST

Jacksonville Jaguars beat Baltimore Ravens 44-7 at Wembley

Jacksonville Jaguars embarrass Baltimore Ravens 44-7 at Wembley with tight end Marcedes Lewis scoring a hat-trick.

Source: BBC News - Home | 24 Sep 2017 | 6:20 pm IST

Rohingya crisis: UN reports drop in arrivals in Bangladesh

But UN agencies warn it is too soon to say the influx of those fleeing Myanmar's violence "is over".

Source: BBC News - Home | 24 Sep 2017 | 6:11 pm IST

Violence has no place in transgender debate | Letters

Women gathered to discuss the law on gender identity should not come under physical attack, say Linda Bellos, Lucy Masoud and others

Speakers’ Corner in London was where suffragettes met to debate the laws and rights of the day. This was the intention for women who congregated there on 13 September to be directed to a meeting to discuss the impact of proposed legislation on gender identity.

The venue could not be advertised because the original one, a community meeting space, had been intimidated into cancelling the booking. Transgender activists who opposed the debate taking place instigated a campaign to shut it down, which led to the attack on 60-year-old Maria MacLachlan by multiple assailants. Her camera was smashed, her hand cut, and her face and neck bruised.

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 6:04 pm IST

What's your reaction to the German election result?

If you took part in Germany’s general election, we’d like you to share your reaction with us

Angela Merkel is heading for a fourth term as Germany’s chancellor initial exit polls have projected, with the far-right securing their spot as third largest party. We’d like you to share your reaction to the election result.

Merkel’s CDU (Christian Democrat Union) party and its Christian Social Union (CSU) sister party won 32% of the vote, with Social Democrats in second place on 20%, according to initial estimated.

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 5:49 pm IST

Merkel looks set for difficult coalition talks after Germany’s far right posts strong showing

European elections countdown: In this part of our occasional series, we take a look at what is at stake in the German election. BERLIN — After a campaign in which German Chancellor Angela Merkel's opponents largely failed to portray themselves as a political alternative, her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, CSU, won the most […]

Source: WorldViews | 24 Sep 2017 | 5:47 pm IST

Michigan Governor Unleashes “Citizens United on Steroids”

Less than six hours after its passage by the Republican-controlled state legislature, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law this week a measure that, effective immediately, allows candidates to raise unlimited sums of money for super PACs, which can then promptly spend that money supporting those candidates—or attacking their rivals.

It also allows consultants to simultaneously work for a campaign and a super PAC at the same time, making a joke of the supposed independence of the two groups.

It’s a brazen move for Snyder, who is term-limited out of office in 2018, to so fully embrace the post-Citizens United world dominated by big-money super PACs. Watchdogs warn that the law—which they have described as “Citizens United on steroids”— effectively creates an end-run around the state’s limits on campaign contributions and further obliterates the already-thin line that is supposed to maintain super PAC independence from candidates. That opens the door for the state’s wealthy donors to wield even more influence over the political system.

The move is of a piece with a long-running Republican strategy, rarely matched effectively by Democrats, to tilt the political playing field in a partisan direction. On top of sophisticated gerrymandering, right-to-work laws have smashed the electoral power of unions in states where they’ve been enacted, such as Michigan and Wisconsin, which have tilted right as organized labor has been suppressed. Add to that voter suppression laws targeting minorities, college students, and anybody else suspected of voting Democratic, and Republicans are able to create a field in which majority support of an agenda is not necessarily required.

By winning at the state level and enacting laws that benefit the party in future elections, state GOP parties have been able to put once blue states in play, paving the way for Trump’s surprise victory in November.

Opening the campaign finance floodgates is part of that agenda. “Gov. Snyder rode in to Lansing on the white horse of transparency but will leave cloaked in secrecy, driving a hearse carrying our democracy,” Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan, said in a statement on Wednesday. “Today it has been made clear that Gov. Snyder is doing everything he can to cement his legacy as one of the least transparent and most spineless governors Michigan has ever had.”

Snyder claims the law simply provides legal clarity by codifying the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which declared that corporations and labor unions are allowed to make unlimited amounts of independent campaign contributions. “The Supreme Court of the United States ruled on this issue more than seven years ago, and still there has been confusion about how this decision affects Michigan law,” Snyder said in a statement Wednesday. “Under the bills signed into law today, the Department of State finally has clear statutory authority to regulate independent expenditure committees, to mandate registration and reporting of contributions and expenditures, and to investigate and punish entities violating those regulations.” (Citizens United applies to federal election law, not state law, but many states have changed their laws in the wake of the ruling to avoid legal challenges.)

However, as campaign-finance watchdogs point out, this law goes above and beyond what is set out by Citizens United. “This is bad policy wrapped in lies,” said Paul S. Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation for Common Cause, which advocates for stronger regulations on campaign finance. “The notion that Citizens United somehow leads to this is false.” The ruling does not say that states have to allow candidates to raise money for super PACs.  

In fact, the Supreme Court reasoned in Citizens United that unfettered spending by outside groups is permissible on the grounds that it is truly independent from candidates. Since then, federal candidates and their enterprising lawyers have aggressively pushed the boundaries of federal regulation in ways that have turned aligned super PACs into shadow campaigns. Still, as porous as they are, there are federal regulations that aim to limit coordination, including restrictions on the type of information and strategy that campaigns and super PACs can share with each other. The Federal Election Commission appears to require a 120-day cooling-off period before a campaign staffer can theoretically do strategic work for a super PAC. While the FEC allows federal candidates to raise money for super PACs, they are restricted to soliciting $5,000 per donor.

Watchdogs say the Michigan law ignores Citizens United’s emphasis on independence. Not only does the new Michigan law allow candidates to rake in unlimited amounts of money for super PACs, eschewing the meager federal limit, it also allows a candidate’s consultants, vendors, and attorneys to simultaneously work for a super PAC, so long as that person doesn’t pass strategic information between the two. That’s impractical though, since political consultants or ad buyers can’t simply forget what they know about a campaign’s internal strategies. In reality, critics say the law sends a clear message to potential donors that an aligned super PAC is the candidate’s in all but name and that their money will be put to good use for the candidate. “It really does make a mockery of the concept of independence,” Larry Noble, general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, told The Intercept.

Now, if a candidate running for governor can get a donor to make a six-figure contribution to an allied super PAC, then the $6,800 contribution limit for statewide candidates is rendered useless and the barrier between independent-expenditure groups and candidates all but disappears. Candidates can essentially outsource their campaign operations to an allied super PAC that’s bankrolled by a select few mega-donors. “Multiple Republican lawmakers have said to me, ‘Why would anyone use a candidate committee with this law in place?” said Craig Mauger, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, which lobbied against the law.  

One of the law’s leading proponent is Bob LaBrant, a key mastermind behind the Republican Party’s political takeover of the Michigan state government. For decades, he ran the Michigan Chamber of Commerce’s political and legal operations, aggressively pursuing campaign-finance litigation that sought to expand corporations’ political funding power. His efforts brought a case of his before the Supreme Court in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which laid the legal groundwork for Citizens United. Now, in advocating for the state to codify Citizens United, and then some, he’s succeeded yet again in pioneering campaign-finance deregulation.

Snyder’s office denies that the state legislation is more permissive than federal law. “Citizens United determined that nonprofits, for-profits, labor unions and other associations can make unlimited contributions for unlimited expenditures,” Anna Heaton, the governor’s press secretary, said in a statement to The Intercept. The state cannot limit the amount those entities can contribute, so provided there is no coordination between a candidate and a committee, the legislation permits a candidate to solicit to a committee.”

“The Secretary of State will have the responsibility to investigate complaints of improper coordination, just like they have for the last seven years,” Heaton added.

Mauger said that proving coordination is nearly impossible and that the new law adds fuel to an already out-of-control fire. Michigan was ranked dead last in a nationwide 2015 study of state accountability and transparency laws conducted by the Center for Public Integrity. The state has a reputation as the dark-money capital of the country thanks to its lax transparency laws and preponderance of 501(c)4 groups and shadowy LLCs, and Mauger predicts that those types of groups will flood unaccountable dark money into super PACs that are now cozier than ever with politicians.

The governor’s office, however, does not share the concern that tax-exempt organizations will exploit the law. “501(c)(4)s, like other entities, can contribute to independent expenditure committees because they, like other entities, have a First Amendment right to engage in political speech,” Heaton said. The new law, she added, “does not deal positively or negatively with so-called ‘dark money.’”

If the new law exacerbates the already-increasing cost of elections in the state, that’s bad news for Democrats, who are headed into the 2018 elections trying to win back the governorship and make gains in the statehouse. Labor unions, which are major Democratic funders, have been dramatically weakened by the Republicans’ passage of a right-to-work law in 2012. Meanwhile, the Republican Party is flush with eager donors like the DeVos family and the Chamber of Commerce.

Michigan’s passage of the law appears to be unprecedented among state governments. Some states, like Minnesota, have made proactive efforts to more clearly restrict candidate fundraising for and coordination with super PACs. But most states have not addressed the matter, creating something of a legal gray area in which there are no statutory limits on coordination or candidate fundraising for independent groups. Michigan, though, appears to be the first state to affirm the right of state politicians to raise unlimited amounts of money for super PACs.

Reform advocates are concerned that Michigan has found an alternative route to more subtly undermine its campaign-finance laws and could provide a roadmap for other states that are wary of eliminating contribution limits outright to follow suit. “It gives them certain amount of cover by saying this is just codifying Citizens United,” Noble said. “For those states where legislators and governors are worried about public reaction [to campaign finance deregulation] this could be way to avoid real pushback.”

TOP PHOTO: Rick Snyder on Wall Street, pleased.

The post Michigan Governor Unleashes “Citizens United on Steroids” appeared first on The Intercept.

Source: The Intercept | 24 Sep 2017 | 5:40 pm IST

Pig's head, graffiti left at Belfast community centre

A pig's head and racist graffiti have been left at a community centre in Belfast in a suspected hate crime.

Source: RTÉ News - News Headlines | 24 Sep 2017 | 5:36 pm IST

Amazon Starts Charging For Cloud Computing Resources By the Second

AmiMoJo writes: "Back in the old days, you needed to buy or lease a server if you needed access to compute power," remembers Amazon's AWS blog. "When Amazon launched EC2 back in 2006, the ability to use an instance for an hour, and to pay only for that hour, was big news. The pay-as-you-go model inspired our customers to think about new ways to develop, test, and run applications of all types." But now from the 2nd of October, Amazon will start billing Linux virtual machines by the second, with a one minute minimum.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot | 24 Sep 2017 | 5:30 pm IST

The best air purifier

By Tim Heffernan and John Holecek This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a buyer's guide to the best homewares. When readers choose to buy The Sweethome's independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that s...

Source: Engadget RSS Feed | 24 Sep 2017 | 5:30 pm IST

Exit polls offer Merkel fewer coalition choices

Polling stations have closed across Germany in today’s Bundestag or federal parliament election. Usually reliable exit polls suggest that Angela Merkel will stay on as chancellor, but possibly in a new coalition.

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 5:13 pm IST

Manafort’s Russia connection: What you need to know about Oleg Deripaska

MOSCOW — An aluminum magnate who survived the gangster capitalism of the 1990s and the financial crisis of 2008, Oleg Deripaska is a shrewd self-made billionaire who has managed to stay on the right side of power, whether by marrying into "the family" of Russia's first president, Boris Yeltsin, or by making himself indispensable to its current one, Vladimir Putin. As my Washington-based colleagues reported […]

Source: WorldViews | 24 Sep 2017 | 5:00 pm IST

Catalan campaigners hand out a million referendum ballots

Thousands gather across Catalonia to show support for 1 October independence vote that Madrid has vowed to stop

Catalan independence campaigners have held rallies across the region, distributing 1m ballot papers a week before people are due to vote in a sovereignty referendum that the Spanish government has vowed to stop.

Thousands of people congregated in town squares around Catalonia on Sunday to show their support for the vote as tensions between the pro-independence regional government and the Spanish state continued to rise.

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 4:30 pm IST

Cloudflare Pays First $7,500 Bounties In War Against Patent Troll

Cloudflare declared war on a group of lawyers that files patent lawsuits against tech firms, by offering bounties for the discovery of patent-invalidating "prior art." Now an anonymous reader writes: On Thursday, Cloudflare announced it has paid out the first $7,500 to people who discovered documents that could help invalidate Blackbird's patents. The money is part of a $100,000 war chest the company announced this spring... The company said it is ready to launch individual challenges to specific Blackbird patents. The company believes it has enough examples of prior art on US Patent 7,797,448, "GPS-internet Linkage" and US Patent 6,453,335 (the one asserted against Cloudflare) to lodge a challenge. "We have received more than 230 submissions so far," Cloudflare reports, "and have only just begun to scratch the surface."

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Source: Slashdot | 24 Sep 2017 | 4:30 pm IST

Architect defends treatment of workers at Louvre Abu Dhabi

Jean Nouvel dismisses ‘old question’ over exploitation, saying conditions were better than for some in Europe

The French architect Jean Nouvel has defended his Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi, a massive domed complex that opens in November, from accusations it was built by exploited and abused migrant workers.

The building opens on 11 November, 10 years after the Paris museum signed an unprecedented £663m deal to allow Abu Dhabi to use its name for 30 years and borrow 300 works from its collection.

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 4:15 pm IST

After Math: Like looking into the future

It was an exciting week for futuristic technologies. Knightscope debuted its newest roboguard, Nest showed off a face-recognizing outdoor camera, and Google came up with a way to close your garage from anywhere in the neighborhood. Numbers, because h...

Source: Engadget RSS Feed | 24 Sep 2017 | 4:00 pm IST

Falling jet wing panel damages car in Japan

An airline launches an investigation after the panel falls near Kansai International Airport.

Source: BBC News - Home | 24 Sep 2017 | 3:52 pm IST

Corbyn resists pressure for post-Brexit single market

British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is resisting pressure from Labour MPs to commit the party to keeping the UK in the EU single market after Brexit.

Source: RTÉ News - News Headlines | 24 Sep 2017 | 3:50 pm IST

Priest heckled at Nugent funeral says he has received local support

Fr Halpin told congregation that man who was shot dead made ‘bad decisions’ in life

Source: The Irish Times - News | 24 Sep 2017 | 3:40 pm IST

Man arrested over Derry toddler's death released

A 23-year-old man arrested yesterday in connection with death of a three-year-old boy in Derry last weekend has been released from police custody.

Source: RTÉ News - News Headlines | 24 Sep 2017 | 3:39 pm IST

Regulator urges compliance in charity shop sector

One charity shop owner has been prosecuted and three shops have ceased trading since 2016 following interventions by the Charities Regulator, the statutory body has said.

Source: RTÉ News - News Headlines | 24 Sep 2017 | 3:32 pm IST

Governments Turn Tables By Suing Public Records Requesters

schwit1 quotes the AP: Government bodies are increasingly turning the tables on citizens who seek public records that might be embarrassing or legally sensitive. Instead of granting or denying their requests, a growing number of school districts, municipalities and state agencies have filed lawsuits against people making the requests -- taxpayers, government watchdogs and journalists who must then pursue the records in court at their own expense. The lawsuits generally ask judges to rule that the records being sought do not have to be divulged. They name the requesters as defendants but do not seek damage awards. Still, the recent trend has alarmed freedom-of-information advocates, who say it's becoming a new way for governments to hide information, delay disclosure and intimidate critics. "This practice essentially says to a records requester, 'File a request at your peril,'" said University of Kansas journalism professor Jonathan Peters, who wrote about the issue for the Columbia Journalism Review in 2015, before several more cases were filed. "These lawsuits are an absurd practice and noxious to open government."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot | 24 Sep 2017 | 3:30 pm IST

Letter claims garda kept in dark over allegations probe

A garda who has alleged major criminal wrongdoing within the force has urgently sought clarification on how his allegations have been investigated, RTÉ has learned.

Source: RTÉ News - News Headlines | 24 Sep 2017 | 3:21 pm IST

Australian campaign for marriage equality follows Irish model

‘In Ireland, humans stories became the cornerstone of our campaign’

Source: The Irish Times - News | 24 Sep 2017 | 3:12 pm IST

Man clings to train's windscreen wiper in Australia

A man is arrested after apparently riding a 110kmph train in Perth by clinging on at the back.

Source: BBC News - Home | 24 Sep 2017 | 2:57 pm IST

ARM TrustZone Hacked By Abusing Power Management

"This is brilliant and terrifying in equal measure," writes the Morning Paper. Long-time Slashdot reader phantomfive writes: Many CPUs these days have DVFS (Dynamic Voltage and Frequency Scaling), which allows the CPU's clockspeed and voltage to vary dynamically depending on whether the CPU is idling or not. By turning the voltage up and down with one thread, researchers were able to flip bits in another thread. By flipping bits when the second thread was verifying the TrustZone key, the researchers were granted permission. If number 'A' is a product of two large prime numbers, you can flip a few bits in 'A' to get a number that is a product of many smaller numbers, and more easily factorable. "As the first work to show the security ramifications of energy management mechanisms," the researchers reported at Usenix, "we urge the community to re-examine these security-oblivious designs."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot | 24 Sep 2017 | 2:30 pm IST

Earth from Space: Northwest England

The Sentinel-2A satellite takes us over part of northwest England in this image captured on 5 January 2017.

Source: SpaceRef | 24 Sep 2017 | 2:20 pm IST

Greek police expose audacity of £3,000-a-day pickpocketing gang

Officers detail crackdown on major criminal network that worked shifts and in teams to distract and prey on tourists

The audacity and creativity of a pickpocket gang who worked shifts, employed teams of runners and made tourists their exclusive prey has been revealed by one of the most successful crackdowns to date on street crime in Greece.

Pickpocketing may flourish in tourist havens, but in Athens, where visitor numbers are booming, thieves appear to have been on a roll. With takings in excess of €3,500 (£3,100) a day, pickpockets posing as holidaymakers built a criminal network of unprecedented scale, “working” the public transport system for the best part of a decade.

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 2:09 pm IST

Ri Yong-ho: the North Korean diplomat who could defuse the crisis

Kim Jong-un’s mouthpiece has made headlines with his fiery rhetoric and flashes of humour in New York

Over the past few days, one man has emerged as the international face of the North Korean regime: Ri Yong-ho.

As the brickbats continued to fly between Washington and Pyongyang at the weekend, the North Korean foreign minister threatened to upstage his country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, with a mixture of trademark rhetoric and humour at the UN general assembly in New York.

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 2:02 pm IST

Syrian Widows in Jordan Take Charge of Their New Lives

Amal al-Mugdad was always devout, but as the Syrian conflict engulfed her hometown of Dera’a, her prayers grew increasingly desperate. Rising daily before dawn, the slight young woman unrolled her prayer mat, her ears strained for the sound of bullets. On her knees in the dark, she begged for peace in her country and mercy for her people. By daylight, though, there were few signs that Allah had heard her plea. Regime aircraft rattled against the sky. Neighborhood streets grew inscrutable, blocked by shifting checkpoints and sprawling rubble.

Fear whittled Amal’s world. By 2012, her universe encompassed only three points: her sons, Khalid and Ma’an, then ages two years and six months, respectively; and her 24-year-old husband, Mahmood. It was her husband — the man she married at 19, whom she privately called Hamoodi — that worried her the most. This was a conflict with a particular appetite for young, able-bodied men, targeting them with checkpoints and home raids. By 2015, an estimated 65,000 people were “disappeared” by the regime, forced to enlist in President Bashar al-Assad’s army or vanished into the underworld of government prisons. Others were felled by snipers, for reasons never given.

Amal’s nightmare arrived on a sunny winter’s day. It was December 19, 2012. Mahmood stepped out to call Amal’s cousin to lunch. A soldier shot him through the heart. “I had my boys in my arms,” Amal recalled, five years later. “I don’t remember what I did with them.” She went on: “Then I was in the street. I saw his body. He looked like he was sleeping. I couldn’t stop screaming.” She lunged at the soldier, her brother holding her back. “I cried, Why, why him?” There was no reply.

They buried Mahmoud immediately. Amal was taken, in shock, to a nearby uncle. A few weeks later, her relatives persuaded her to flee, rousing Amal with the one message that could still reach her: It would be safer for her boys, outside Syria. On foot, she followed the stream of refugees south, toward the porous Jordanian border. Ma’an, drenched in winter rain, developed a wrenching cough. “He kept crying and I was crying too, calling out, ‘My God, my God.’ I didn’t know what to do,” Amal told me. As the sounds of war grew distant, Amal was stirred by a new fear: how would she, a woman, shoulder the burden of her fledgling family alone?

The road to Karama leads well outside Jordan’s capital, Amman, past rural neighborhoods, military facilities, and up a isolated hillside. January 12, 2017.

Photo: Sarah Aziza

A dozen miles outside the Jordanian capital of Amman, over 300 Syrians, mostly women and children, work to construct meaning from the fragments of exile. They occupy “Karama,” an isolated strip of apartment buildings atop a rocky hill, run by a local charity to shelter some of the area’s most destitute refugees. Men under 40 are rare; like Amal, most of the women of Karama were widowed or separated from their husbands by the war, and now find themselves at the head of sprawling, often desperate, families. Bereft of their traditional guardians and providers, these women have been forced to reimagine their lives outside the traditional economic and social expectations of gender.

The upending of these norms can create huge anxieties for women, compounding their existing trauma and entrenching them in poverty. For many, survival becomes contingent on their ability to take on new, traditionally male roles, said Bothaina Qamar, who until this month worked as a livelihoods specialist at U.N. Women in Jordan. “Back in Syria, only 14 percent of women were engaged in the labor market,” Qamar said, “especially among rural communities, the men dominate the society outside the home.”

As of 2016, roughly 40 percent of Syrian refugee households in Jordan were headed by women, most of them responsible for numerous children and one or more elderly relatives. Even so, many these now-single women have been reluctant or unable to find formal employment. “Some are raised to believe it is dishonorable or dangerous for women to work outside the home,” said Qamar, “and many are accustomed only to agricultural and domestic work.” Of the more than 58,000 work permits that have been to Syrians as of last month, 4 percent have been to women.

Many women feel uncomfortable being outside the home without a male relative and feel ill-equipped to make financial decisions. Although Amal attended university before the war, she would never before have considered traveling without her husband, father, or brother. “Before the azma”— crisis — “I never left my neighborhood without Hamoodi or a man from my family,” she told me.

Lucy Cracknell, protection adviser for the International Medical Corps in Jordan, said these single women often have real reason to worry about safety as refugees in Jordan. Both women and children in female-headed households face greater risk of sexual harm and gender-based violence, a fact that often drives women to self-isolate. This compounds poverty, creating severe economic straits that can lead to “negative coping mechanisms,” Cracknell said, including “child marriage or child labor for their children, sex work, other risky behaviors.”

For all the stigma and fear some Syrian women feel about working, most of them are in urgent need of an income. As of 2016, four out of five Syrian households in Jordan live below the poverty line, and among female-headed households, the situation is more grim. As of 2016, at least 10 percent of these families faced immediate eviction from their homes, and one-third were in debt to their landlords. According to another recent study by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, 63 percent of Syrian refugees in Jordan were “vulnerable to food insecurity,” and 22 percent were “food insecure” with female-headed households suffering some of the greatest deprivation.

Amal, following the example of fellow refugees, registered with the UNHCR, according to her papers, and numerous charities upon arriving in Jordan. She received a modest food voucher for 30 Jordanian dinars (roughly $50) per month. For a time, Amal found shelter in the Jordanian city of Salt with in-laws, where she lived in a fugue state and subsisted on U.N. aid. Later, when her relatives left Jordan, Amal faced the dreaded prospect of transferring to one of Jordan’s overcrowded refugee camps. “I had no hope,” Amal recalled.

In early 2015, however, Amal’s fate took a rare, fortunate turn. Her application for housing assistance won her a spot at Karama, which had recently been expanded by the projects’ sponsor, the Islamic Charity Center Society. The young mother moved in April, bringing 11 relatives with her, including her ailing mother and several nieces and nephews. An ICCS bus drove them out of Amman, past a run-down military airport, and up a rocky hill to a row of solitary, sand-colored apartment buildings. This, they told Amal, was her new home.

In her new apartment, Amal, Ma’an, and Khalid took one of the three small bedrooms. After unpacking her family’s one suitcase, Amal sank to the floor. “Everything looked black, dark. There was no future,” she recalls, “My soul was tired. My soul was sick.” For the next several months, she would remain inside the crowded apartment where she seldom spoke and shed her tears in secret.

Amal’s sons grew fitful, clinging to her at times, lashing out at others. Three-year-old Khalid was frequently awakened by nightmares of approaching planes and soldiers. “The boys would ask, ‘Where’s Baba? Where’s Baba?’ For a long time, they thought he was still in Syria. They didn’t understand what death is.” But, she added, “They know now.”

Yousra, right, rouses students and parents alike at a community gathering during Ramadan in 2017.

Photo: Sarah Aziza

Yousra Mofalani also struggled in the early days of her displacement. She and her sister, Somia, fled Syria for Jordan in 2012, leaving behind 10 siblings and their father’s grave in the yard of their childhood home. On a winter’s day in 2017, Yousra, who is 43 years old, and I strolled up Karama’s single, dusty lane. Recalling the first leg of their journey, Yousra’s brown eyes deepened with tears, her thick brows arching to constrain her emotion. “That was the house my father built with his hands, where we all grew up. It was harder to leave that house than to leave the country itself,” she said, “Without our ahl” — one’s people or family — “we feel lost.”

The women spent their first months as refugees in Mafraq, where they rented a poorly maintained apartment from a Jordanian landlord at exorbitant prices. Winning a spot at Karama was a huge financial relief, but the location — far from central Amman — left them feeling more isolated than ever. “There was no one around,” Somia said, “At night, it was totally dark — and so quiet.” Most of their fellow residents were widows, too, many strapped with young children and ailing elderly relatives. An air of despair prevailed. “It was like life stood still. Everyone was in shock, many people were injured or had halat nafsiya” — a phrase that loosely translates to psychological problems. “We were all in shock. And for the women, they were afraid to go to town or even leave their house.”

During the war, Yousra had braved the occupied streets of her city, Dera’a, during curfews to gather food for her extended family; rebuilding her life as a refugee would require a new kind of courage. “I told myself, remember how much strength you have, that God has given you,” she said. “And that’s what we forget — we women — how much strength we have in ourselves.” As she roused herself from her depression, Yousra began searching for ways to channel this strength into agency.

A few months after her arrival at Karama, Yousra approached the ICCS administrator of the housing project, Ibrahim Salah al-Rawajeh, who goes by the honorific Abu Omar, with several requests. “I told him the women here need things to do and so do the children,” she told me. “We need activities, we need to keep learning, so we can feel that our lives are not over.” Abu Omar was struck by the small, vigorous woman. “She’s a natural leader,” he said, sitting in his cramped office at Karama. In his many years of humanitarian work, Abu Omar has become accustomed to seeing dejection and apathy. “I never thought we’d meet a woman like Yousra here. These are some of the most unfortunate refugees, and when they came, most of them looked like they had given up hope. But she had a vision.” And, says Abu Omar, her vision aligned well with the goal of the ICCS: “We named this place Karama” — which means “dignity” — “for a reason: we wanted to help Syrians feel human again, by giving them control over their lives again.”

A group of young Karama girls perform a dance at a Ramadan celebration, wearing matching dresses hand-made by Yousra, Somia, and other neighborhood women, on Jan. 12, 2017.

Photo: Sarah Aziza

Yousra’s first requests were simple. She wanted permission to use the ICCS office space for community gatherings “so the women could meet and strengthen one another.” She also asked Abu Omar for educational programs, pointing out that most of the Syrian children had fallen years behind their Jordanian peers in school. Together, they found qualified Syrian teachers among the Karama residents and arranged to offer remedial math, Arabic, and English classes to Karama’s 90-plus school-age children. Abu Omar also gave Yousra free reign over the ICCS multipurpose room, which Yousra hoped would serve as a gathering place for the neighbors.

Coaxing the bereaved women out of their apartments would prove the largest hurdle. Even Yousra’s own sister had lost heart, spending entire days lying flat on her mat, fixated on memories of her late father and lost home. Like many of her neighbors, Somia was terrified to go outside. Each morning, she implored Yousra not to leave the house. Yousra, on the other hand, had already moved on to her next campaign: lobbying Abu Omar to set up regular transportation to and from the Jordanian neighborhood where Karama’s children attended school. With time, Yousra began to embark on quests of her own, taking a series of shared taxis and public buses to travel to Amman proper in search of the Islamic books she liked to study. These errands gave her a sense of power. “Even in Syria I never took the bus!” she recalled. She continued, “Every morning I’d tell Somia, ‘Come on sister! You’ve got to get up and live your life. Just get out of bed. Do you think Allah let you survive the war for nothing? There is still so much left we can do.’”

This was Yousra’s message to Amal, too, when she came knocking on her door. Yousra was struck by the young woman’s pale, wilted features. “She wasn’t eating,” Yousra recalled. “She could barely speak.” Still, Amal valiantly followed custom, inviting Yousra in, guiding her to the deflating cushions that served as the family’s furniture. Over tea, Yousra gently prodded Amal with questions about her hometown, smiling when she discovered they’d both come from Dera’a. Yousra told her that many of the Karama residents came from Dera’a and urged her to join them in one of the social gatherings she and Somia organized in the multipurpose room down the road. Amal thanked her quietly and murmured the customary response, “Inshallah” — God willing. She found her visitor kind but was glad to see her go. Weeks went by. Amal stayed inside.

The ladies — and children — of Karama’s preschool surprise Amal with a cake and song for her 26th birthday, on Jan. 15, 2017. She cried.

Photo: Sarah Aziza

By the end of her first year in Karama, Yousra had knocked on each of the 55 apartment doors in the housing project. Slowly, over shared meals and endless cups of tea, she had learned the stories of her compatriots. Her bedazzled Samsung phone became the local switchboard, lighting up with everything from news of an ailing neighbor — she’d be at their bedside within hours — to speculation over the latest developments in Syria. With the support of Abu Omar, Yousra and Somia hosted several town hall meetings, polling the women on their needs and urging them to recognize the importance of organizing. “We lost our families in Syria, and so many of us are women with no men, but we can strengthen each other,” Yousra explained, now sitting next to a smiling Somia in their clean, spare apartment. The smells of cooking rice and boiled chicken legs wafted from the tiny kitchen, where Isra’, their sister-in-law, stooped over a double-burner. Her two young daughters quietly scribbled in a notebook nearby. “When we come together,” Yousra went on, “then we can see what needs there are and we can take care of them ourselves.”

Bothaina Qamar, the now-former U.N. Women official in Jordan, says this kind of community organizing is key. “Humanitarian interventions are no longer what these communities need. It’s time to shift to development.” And getting Syrians to participate in making decisions for themselves is crucial, she adds. “When they feel they can make a difference in their lives, and they develop a sense of self-pride.”

Syrians across Jordan are finding a growing need to claim this kind of agency. With the Jordanian government beset by debt, many Syrians around the country are deprived of basic services, like sanitation, public transportation, and education. As many enter their fifth or sixth year as refugees, some Syrians, particularly in the Zaatari refugee camp, have begun forming neighborhood committees to represent their needs to local government and NGOs. Yet, so far, women are seldom included in these spaces. Women-only circles, like the one Yousra formed in Karama, are crucial entry points for women to gain a sense of confidence. “When they feel safe, they speak up,” said Qamar, “and when they speak with each other, they start to recognize they have many of the same problems.”

At Karama, one issue became apparent at the first meeting: There were gaggles of young children skirting between the gathered women, many of them fretful, clinging to their mothers or sucking on their thumbs with an unnatural urgency. “We realized we needed to do something for the very young children,” said Yousra. “They had so much nervous energy, and because their mothers stayed inside, the children were stuck there, too. We told Abu Omar we wanted to open a preschool.” After some persuasion, he granted the women permission to convert an unused garage into a classroom.

One of the Karama students “reads” a book of the Arabic alphabet at the Karama preschool, on Jan. 12, 2017.

Photo: Sarah Aziza

The preschool opened in 2015 with roughly two-dozen students. At first, said Somia, most of the time was spent managing the symptoms of trauma. “Children would cry, or hide in the corners, or sometimes fight,” she said. “When we’d draw pictures, the drawings were always tanks, planes, blood, martyrs.” The school quickly morphed into a site of psycho-social triage. The ICCS brought in social workers to instruct the teachers in the basics of counseling and art therapy. In the last year and a half, said Somia, most of the children have shown remarkable improvement. “They’re changing,” she said. “They’ve started drawing things like animals, trees, and planes — not warplanes, but planes for traveling.” After hours, Somia uses the preschool’s space to teach classes on self-esteem and emotional health to teenage girls.

The services for mothers have grown, too. Yousra is insistent that the women in her community continue to develop their skills and self-reliance. In 2016, the ICCS made it possible for women to apply for small loans to support at-home enterprises. One of the first recipients was Maysa Nessar, who received several grants and loans from the ICCS and affiliates, as well as relatives, totaling about 800 Jordanian dinars. She used the money to begin an at-home operation making traditional yogurt and cheese for sale in local markets. Recounting her experience to me roughly five months into the venture, the 36-year old mother of four beamed. “I’ve never done anything like this before,” she said. “In Syria, I was just a housewife. Now I have my own business!”

Maysa considers herself blessed as one of the few women in Karama whose husband, Ahmed, is neither dead nor disappeared. However, Ahmed is paraplegic and unable to find traditional work, leaving Maysa to take the lead on many aspects of the business. “He’s my partner. I never dreamed I’d say that — my husband and I are business partners,” Maysa said with a laugh. She makes most of her money selling to Jordanian grocers. For her fellow Syrians, she said, she lowers the price. “Because, you, our people are in a hard situation,” she explained. She has plans to expand and has apprenticed herself to a male neighbor who makes and sells pickled vegetables. “It’s a lot of work, of course,” she said, as she cradles her 5-year-old son. “But when you work hard, and then you see that you accomplished something — you feel like a human being.”

Yousra cracks up while MC-ing a Ramadan celebration at the community center in Karama. on June 9, 2017.

Photo: Sarah Aziza

It would be Amal’s love of prayer that finally drew her out of her self-imposed exile. After their first meeting, Yousra persisted in her efforts to coax the younger woman out of her apartment, inviting her to lunches, seminars, and neighborhood meetings. Undeterred by her consistent rejections, Yousra dropped by one day to tell Amal of a new Quran class she’d organized for the women of Karama. Amal was intrigued by the prospect of learning tajweed, the art of Quranic recitation. Since childhood, Amal had practiced reading and memorizing the Quran with her uncle, and the holy book was her one remaining source of solace. “Something happens to my heart when I hear the Quran,” she told me. “It makes my heart quiet down. It feels like peace.” When the class met the following Friday, Amal was there, her small body fitting perfectly in the school desks Yousra borrowed from the ICCS classroom. Amid her 20 classmates, Amal’s timid presence was easy to overlook.

The course was taught by Amal’s neighbor, a widow who lost three sons to the Syrian war. Halfway through the class, she called on Amal to recite a portion of the Surah of Maryam. Amal’s lilting, articulate voice brought a hush to the classroom. “Mashallah, she has a real gift for the tajweed,” Yousra told me. A few weeks later, the teacher and Yousra asked Amal to become an instructor for a Quran class of her own, teaching younger girls. Amal agreed. Soon, she was at the ICCS center multiple times a week, teaching as well as studying, staying long after class to discuss favorite ayat, or verses, and offer girls extra pointers on their diction. Not long after, she began bringing Ma’an and Khalid to the preschool. At first, the boys clung anxiously to her knees, so Amal stayed through class to reassure them. Before long, she was helping manage other children, too. Somia saw an opportunity. “She has a gift with children,” she said. Somia soon recruited Amal to join the team of single women — today eight in all — who run the school.

Amal teaches a geography lesson to group of Karama children including Ma’an, on Jan. 12, 2017.

Photo: Sarah Aziza

Now, during daylight hours, Amal is rarely at home. Her days swing by quickly, mornings and early afternoons filled with teaching duties. After work, she frequently joins her neighbors for tea, bringing her boys along to play with their own newfound friends. Often, the trio will stay for dinner, Amal joining her hosts in cramped kitchens to help create elaborate Syrian dishes. She’s a faithful attendee of ICCS-sponsored classes, including a module on single parenting, and another on “life skills development.” Along with Yousra and Somia, she’s working toward a teacher certification, administered via Skype and annual visits by a British educational specialist. “When we finish, I’ll have a diploma — a real diploma, with my name. This is an amazing thing for me,” Amal said, her voice reverent. “Not just any girl in Syria could get a diploma. I can’t believe that this is what Allah has brought me, even when I thought my life had ended.” At this, she allowed herself a rare, private smile.

Even so, for Amal all roads still lead back to her country. “One day, inshallah, we will return to Syria,” she said. “But we can’t go with empty hands, weak and broken down. Syria has been destroyed, broken down to zero, less than zero. We must work on ourselves, make ourselves stronger, to rebuild our country. This is what Yousra has been teaching me.”

There are still nights, she admitted, when she is shrouded again by grief, but when the morning comes, she finds courage in her sons. “Who knows why this war came to us. But I know one thing, the children did nothing wrong. So, I cannot give up. I want to finish my teaching course and then, when peace comes, go back to Syria and start a school. I want to help the children of this war get back what was stolen from them. I want them to have a future in Syria.”

Top photo: Somia, left, and Amal, right, lead a group of Syrian refugee children in a series of songs at their community-run preschool in the Karama refugee complex in Jordan on Jan. 12, 2017.

The post Syrian Widows in Jordan Take Charge of Their New Lives appeared first on The Intercept.

Source: The Intercept | 24 Sep 2017 | 2:00 pm IST

The winners of 2017's Insight Astronomy Photographer award

Judges has to choose between 3,800 entries from all over the world.

Source: BBC News - Home | 24 Sep 2017 | 1:59 pm IST

The Ben Heck Show: Motor control

Stepping onto the other side of the camera, Max decides he wants to learn more about motors, from motor control to motor drivers. Luckily, Felix is on hand to play teacher as he takes Max on a comprehensive tour. Will the combination of DC motors...

Source: Engadget RSS Feed | 24 Sep 2017 | 1:30 pm IST

Ken Burns Says the Vietnam War Was “Begun in Good Faith.” So Was Every Other Lousy War.

At the start of the American plunge into the Vietnam War, the State Department circulated an optimistic cable about Nguyen Van Thieu, the South Vietnamese president who had just taken power with U.S. support:

His speeches and appeals to the people of Vietnam are directed at ensuring the national independence of Vietnam; rallying the people together; carrying out a progressive, democratic policy; observing legality; establishing firm law and order; and having a humane attitude toward people.

The U.S. has given consent to the Vietnamese government to the introduction of a small military contingent for a period of time. Its very presence in Vietnam will serve as a guarantee against sudden armed attacks of hostile foreign forces.

These were internal U.S. communications; it was simply the government talking to itself, with no reason to lie.

Moreover, it was no aberration. U.S. government archives are filled with impressive declarations about America’s idealistic goals in Vietnam.

So what does it mean? It means that the tremendously compelling 10-part documentary on the Vietnam War directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick is right when it begins with this somber narration:

America’s involvement in Vietnam … was begun in good faith, by decent people, out of fateful misunderstandings …

Except that actually wasn’t a U.S. State Department cable about Vietnam and Nguyen Van Thieu. It was a December 27, 1979 missive from the Soviet Foreign Ministry about the new Afghan president Babrak Karmal, who had been installed by the Soviet troops who had just entered Afghanistan. All that was changed from the original Soviet cable is a substitution of references to Vietnam with Afghanistan and mentions of the U.S. with the Soviet Union. (As Thieu’s predecessor Ngô Dình Diem had dissatisfied the U.S. and somehow ended up dead, so too with the Soviets and Karmal’s predecessor.)

So what does this Soviet cable — filled with sincere moral fervor about helping Afghanistan — demonstrate? That all catastrophic wars are started by people who believe they’re the good guys.

So Burns and Novick aren’t wrong, exactly, about the good faith of the decent Americans who devastated Vietnam. But what truly matters is, what difference does it make? Saying that these U.S. officials wanted to do the right thing is the same as explaining, “America’s involvement in Vietnam was begun by human beings, who breathed air, ate food, and used their legs to walk around.”

The infinite capacity of the powerful for self-serving delusion is something you should hopefully figure out by the time you get a driver’s license, and definitely before you direct a $30 million TV series. Everyone, including the worst figures of history, believes – even if they couldn’t be 100 percent honest, or had to cut some moral corners, or were forced by their domestic rivals to do terrible things to stay in power – that they’re on the side of good.

So the fact that this was true about the people who started the Vietnam War has literally no significance. What actually matters is that it was an insanely brutal, cruel, evil imperial war of aggression.

If Americans want to understand this, all we need to do is read more of the internal deliberations of the Soviet Union as it conducted its own insanely brutal, cruel, evil imperial war of aggression in Afghanistan. Were the Russians making these decisions “decent,” and acting in “good faith”? If we’re judging them by the same standards as we judge American leaders, absolutely. Did they then have “fateful misunderstandings” that led them astray? They sure did.

The leaders of both countries were deeply concerned with the morality of their decisions, and the leaders of both countries also instigated spectacular bloodbaths.

Indeed, if you read the Soviet archives, it’s nearly impossible — just as with the above cable — to distinguish Russia’s deliberations about Afghanistan from internal American discussions about Vietnam. Start with a Soviet Politburo discussion on March 17, 1979.

Afghanistan had always been heavily influenced by its much larger northern neighbor. But in 1978 a coup led by the People’s Democratic Party led to the establishment of a formally communist Afghan regime. It soon signed a treaty of “friendship, good neighborliness and cooperation” with the Soviets.

Within a year, however, the Politburo grew concerned that their ally President Mur Muhammed Taraki was losing control of the country – partly, they believed, due to his own viciousness and partly because other countries were supporting Afghan rebels who were carrying out savage attacks of their own.

“The situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated sharply,” Andrei Gromyko, the Soviet minister of foreign affairs, told his comrades. “Bands of saboteurs and terrorists, having infiltrated from the territory of Pakistan, trained and armed not only with the participation of Pakistani forces but also of China, the United States of America, and Iran, are committing atrocities in Herat.”

They had to do something. But what? “We still don’t know exactly what is happening in Afghanistan,” worried Soviet Premiere Alexei Kosygin. Their Afghan allies, he said, “are good people, that is apparent, but all the same they are concealing a great deal from us.”

Andrei Kirilenko, another member of the Politburo, emphasized that they couldn’t just send the Soviet army: “We cannot deploy troops without a request from the government of Afghanistan.” Moreover, it was crucial that the Soviet Union demand a halt to abuses by the Afghan government, which included “executions” and “torture.” “This is a major policy issue,” said Kirilenko. “Taraki must ensure, with all decisiveness, that no illicit measures whatsoever are undertaken by them.”

The next day Yuri Andropov, the head of the KGB, declared that they had the military strength to keep their communist allies in power. But they could not use it, thanks to the Soviet code of ethics. “We can suppress a revolution in Afghanistan only with the aid of our bayonets,” said Andropov, “and that is for us entirely inadmissible.”

Gromyko chimed in to agree, bringing up the crucial issue of international law: “We must keep in mind that from a legal point of view too we would not be justified in sending troops. According to the U.N. Charter a country can appeal for assistance, and we could send troops, in case it is subject to external aggression. Afghanistan has not been subject to any aggression.”

Soon afterward, Gromyko, Andropov and others circulated a Communist Party central committee memo on the situation. It lamented that despite the “recommendations and advice” of the Soviet Union, the Afghan government had engaged in “extreme measures and unjustified repression,” as well as “violence towards arrested persons during investigations.”

The Soviet Union must redouble its efforts to stop such pernicious behavior, said the memo, and firmly advise their Afghan allies to “develop and enact a constitution which will secure the democratic rights of the people.”

At about the same time, the top Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev met with Taraki in person in Moscow. Taraki wanted the Soviets to send troops to support him. No, Brezhnev told him: “We examined this question from every angle, weighed it carefully, and, I will tell you frankly: This should not be done.”

Yet the Soviet Union ended up invading Afghanistan nine months later, around Christmas of 1979.

Soviet Aeroflot helicopters at Kabul airport on Jan. 16,1980.

Photo: Hans Paul/AFP/Getty Images

Remarkably, even though the Soviet archives are now largely open, no records make precisely clear how or why this decision was made. It was likely due largely to the further deterioration of the Afghan government’s power, especially after an official named Hafizullah Amin overthrew and murdered Taraki in October. The Soviets were also concerned that rising Islamic militancy, both next door in Iran and in Saudi Arabia, would triumph in Afghanistan as well and then spread to the Muslim areas of the Soviet Union itself.

In any case, by early 1980 there were 100,000 Soviet soldiers in Afghanistan. And yet the Soviets still managed to justify the decision on moral grounds: Just as Soviet leaders had seen their earlier decision not to invade as the ethical thing to do, they were certain only a short while later that sending troops was also morally correct.

Another report to the Communist Party’s Central Committee from Gromyko and Andropov explained why it had to be done. Amin, it said, had “established a regime of personal dictatorship in the country,” including “repressions, mass executions, and disregard for legal norms.” Fortunately, the new president, Babrak Karmal, with the support of the courageous Soviet military, was committed to the “national-democratic, anti-feudalistic, anti-imperialistic revolution, and to defend Afghan independence and sovereignty [as well as the] broad democratization of social life and ensuring a law-abiding society.”

From that point forward, the Soviet attack on Afghanistan went pretty much like the American attack on Vietnam: carpet bombing, tons of napalm, widespread rape, countless massacres of civilians. Just as in Vietnam, we have only the vaguest sense of how many people were killed, because no one with power was counting.

Similarly, the eventual Soviet departure from Afghanistan was as long and pointlessly drawn out as the U.S. exit from Vietnam. President Richard Nixon knew the U.S. was beat for years but insisted on a process of “Vietnamization” and “peace with honor” rather than admit the truth. The last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, realized the occupation was a disaster when he came to power in 1985, but Soviet troops didn’t start leaving until 1988 and weren’t fully out for another year after that. As Gorbachev later explained, “We had to finish this war. But in a way so the Russian people would understand why tens of thousands had died. We couldn’t just run away from there in shame. No, we needed to find a process.”

The upcoming final episode of Ken Burns’s “Vietnam War” will end with its narrator — after repeated revisions by Burns and Novick, to be sure they were expressing themselves precisely — coming to the following conclusion: “The Vietnam War was a tragedy, immeasurable and irredeemable.”

So despite the voluminous evidence the series itself provides, it turns out the Vietnam War was not a crime, nor a malefaction, nor an abomination. It was merely a tragedy, as the directors also say twice in a New York Times op-ed.

The decent Soviets, filled with their good faith, would have known just where “The Vietnam War” is coming from. As the Soviet troops began departing Afghanistan in 1988, one member of the Politburo mused about what had gone so terribly wrong:

There were serious miscalculations and mistakes both in our domestic affairs as well as in foreign policy. I believe, for example, that if all of the democratic institutes had been working, the Afghan tragedy which, as you know, has been very costly to us, would not have happened. We did not take note of the deep-seated processes taking place in our society.

Top photo: The second wave of combat helicopters of the 1st Air Cavalry Division fly over American troops on an isolated landing zone during Operation Pershing, during the Vietnam War.

The post Ken Burns Says the Vietnam War Was “Begun in Good Faith.” So Was Every Other Lousy War. appeared first on The Intercept.

Source: The Intercept | 24 Sep 2017 | 1:00 pm IST

Bodybuilder dies after celebrity kickboxing bout in Singapore

Organisers say both fighters had a medical check-up before the fight in Singapore.

Source: BBC News - Home | 24 Sep 2017 | 12:57 pm IST

Killer whales join in on Norway surfing competition

Two killer whales have been spotted alongside participants in the semi-finals of a surf contest in Norway.

Source: BBC News - Home | 24 Sep 2017 | 12:51 pm IST

North Korea-US tensions: How worried should you be?

Here are three reasons why you should take a deep breath and not panic, for now.

Source: BBC News - Home | 24 Sep 2017 | 12:49 pm IST

Are Companies Overhyping AI?

When it comes to artificial intelligence, "companies have been overselling the concept and otherwise normal people are taking the bait," writes Hackaday: Not to pick on Amazon, but all of the home assistants like Alexa and Google Now tout themselves as AI. By the most classic definition, that's true. AI techniques include matching natural language to predefined templates. That's really all these devices are doing today. Granted the neural nets that allow for great speech recognition and reproduction are impressive. But they aren't true intelligence nor are they even necessarily direct analogs of a human brain... The danger is that people are now getting spun up that the robot revolution is right around the corner... [N]othing in the state of the art of AI today is going to wake up and decide to kill the human masters. Despite appearances, the computers are not thinking. You might argue that neural networks could become big enough to emulate a brain. Maybe, but keep in mind that the brain has about 100 billion neurons and almost 10 to the 15th power interconnections. Worse still, there isn't a clear consensus that the neural net made up of the cells in your brain is actually what is responsible for conscious thought. There's some thought that the neurons are just control systems and the real thinking happens in a biological quantum computer... Besides, it seems to me if you build an electronic brain that works like a human brain, it is going to have all the problems a human brain has (years of teaching, distraction, mental illness, and a propensity for error). Citing the dire predictions of Elon Musk and Bill Gates, the article argues that "We are a relatively small group of people who have a disproportionate influence on what our friends, families, and co-workers think... We need to spread some sense into the conversation."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot | 24 Sep 2017 | 12:30 pm IST

The View From the End of the American Empire

In his United Nations General Assembly speech last week, President Donald Trump loudly stated his intention to effectively dismantle the world order that the United States painstakingly built over the past century. Trump lauded nationalism before the assembled delegates at the same global institution that the U.S. helped create: “I will always put America first just like you, the leaders of your countries, should put your countries first,” he thundered. “There can be no substitute for strong, sovereign, independent nations.”

Trump’s speech was a remarkable departure from decades of U.S. policy aimed at creating an integrated post-nationalist world under its own leadership. At the end of the Second World War, the U.S. emerged for the first time in its history as a true superpower: a country able to reach out beyond its borders and reshape the nature of global politics. Most people alive today were born into a world whose institutions, economic systems, legal rules, and political boundaries have all been shaped to some degree by American influence. While the U.S. has never been comfortable with embracing its identity — preferring to refer to itself with such euphemisms as “the indispensable nation” — a sober accounting of America’s influence on world affairs can only arrive at the designation of an “empire.”

Through a network of nearly 800 military bases located in 70 countries around the globe, in addition to an array of trade deals and alliances, the U.S. has cemented its influence for decades across both Europe and Asia. American leaders helped impose a set of rules and norms that promoted free trade, democratic governance — in theory, if not always in practice — and a prohibition on changing borders militarily, using a mixture of force and suasion to sustain the systems that keep its hegemony intact. Meanwhile, although the U.S. generally eschewed direct colonialism, its promotion of global free trade helped “open a door through which America’s preponderant economic strength would enter and dominate all the underdeveloped areas of the world,” wrote the revisionist historian William Appleman Williams in his more-than-half-century-old classic, “The Tragedy of American Diplomacy”.

That strategy of “non-colonial imperial expansion,” as Williams called it, became the basis for U.S. foreign policy over the past century. For American elites, such a policy has provided remarkable benefits, even if the resulting largesse has not always trickled down to the rest of the country. Thanks to its status as the world’s only superpower, the U.S. today enjoys the “exorbitant privilege” of having its dollar serve as the world’s reserve currency, while U.S. leaders dominate the agenda of international institutions promoting governance and trade. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 and the successful creation of a global military alliance to repel Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait that same year, America’s imperial confidence reached a zenith; President George H.W. Bush publicly declared the start of a “new world order” under American leadership.

Looking back on Bush’s speech a few decades later, however, that prediction of a stable U.S.-led order seems to have been wildly optimistic. The world today faces a range of interwoven crises related to migration, inequality, war, and climate change, yet the structures and leadership needed to meaningfully respond to them seem woefully inadequate. Instead of the U.S. embracing the role of global leadership and filling the vacuum created by the fall of the Soviet Union, Americans have seen their country consumed by domestic crises and have responded with a mixture of ineptitude and paranoia towards international ones.

Meanwhile, the global system of free trade deals and military deployments built by U.S. leaders over the past 75 years — the hard infrastructure supporting America’s hegemony — has come to be viewed by many Americans as a costly burden rather than a benefit. Even before Trump rode to victory on a wave of promises to knock over the pillars of the post-World War II international order, the possibility that the U.S. would continue to enjoy clear primacy seemed questionable even with competent governance. With Trump now in power and doing his utmost to tank America’s global standing, what kind of new world order is actually coming into existence?

U.S. President Donald Trump waits after making a speech during the 72nd session of the U.N. General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, on Sept. 19, 2017.

Photo: Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Although there is a long history of “declinist” writing about U.S. power, the election of a president hostile to the U.S.-created order marks the start of a genuinely unprecedented era. Imminent preparations now being made for a post-American global future. Two recent books — “All Measures Short of War: The Contest for the 21st Century and the Future of American Power,” by Thomas J. Wright, a fellow at the Project on International Order and Strategy at the Brookings Institution, and “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power,” by Alfred McCoy, a legendary investigative journalist and a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin–Madison — offer a glimpse into what such a world may look like.

Although both books deal with the subject of America’s imperial decline, their approach differs in both scope and definition. Whereas McCoy explicitly discusses the rise and fall of America as an “empire,” a word that he intends not as an epithet but as an honest descriptor of the U.S. global footprint, Wright speaks about the possible collapse of the American-led “liberal international order” — the system of rules, norms and institutions that have governed global affairs in America’s favor since the end of World War II.

Wright sees the system under threat from a combination of newly emerging powers and recent American missteps. McCoy, for his part, sees the unraveling of the U.S. empire as analogous to the series of events that led to the decline of the British and French empires before it. The first step is the loss of support from local elites in territories under imperial influence, a process that McCoy says is clearly underway for the U.S. in many critical regions of the world. In recent years, America has seen its ties strained with military partners such as Turkey, the Philippines, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, while major U.S. allies like Germany and South Korea have increasingly come to question America’s capacity to continue leading the imperial system that it created.

It is the Arab Spring uprisings against mostly pro-U.S. dictators, however, that McCoy says marked the slow beginning of the end of American imperium. While the revolts are widely judged to have failed in bringing about liberal democracy, they did succeed in unseating longtime American allies in Tunisia and Egypt, while straining U.S. ties with Gulf Arab countries and even Iraq. As McCoy writes, “All modern empires have relied on dependable surrogates to translate their global power into local control.” He adds, “For most of them, the moment when those elites began to stir, talk back, and assert their own agendas was also the moment when you knew that imperial collapse was in the cards.” The British empire famously became a “self-liquidating concern” when local elites across the empire began demanding self-rule, as did France’s far-flung rule when it was forced to wage a grinding war of attrition to keep control over Algeria. The Arab Spring and the forces it unleashed, which have reduced U.S. influence while exhausting its resources to deal with terrorism and migration, “may well contribute, in the fullness of time, to the eclipse of American global power.”

Compounding these pressures is the threat to American hegemony posed by a rising China, a country which reasonably expects to be given an opportunity to reshape the U.S.-created global order in proportion to its size, influence, and self-perception as a nation denied its rightful role in world affairs over the past century. While the U.S. possesses a conventional military advantage over China that is not likely to evaporate overnight, China has begun taking steps to challenge American preeminence in new realms of warfare. And the Chinese advances are directed at areas likely to be most important in the 21st century: cyberspace and outer-space. A growing educational gap between Chinese and American students in key STEM research fields means that a divergence in talent may place the U.S. at a disadvantage. Meanwhile, as the U.S. has been dealing with the turmoil wrought by its most recent election, China has been moving ahead with plans to connect the Eurasian continent through Chinese infrastructure and transit links, an ambitious endeavor named “One Belt, One Road” (also known as the Silk Road Initiative), an economic and political strategy that would reorient large swaths of the developing world around a Chinese metropole.

While McCoy prefaces his argument by acknowledging the inherent difficulties of prognosticating world events, the case he makes for a precipitous decline in U.S. power over the next decade is compelling. If trends continue, by 2030 the American Century — proclaimed with such confidence not long ago — could be “all over except the finger-pointing.”

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at a U.N. Security Council meeting on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction on Sept. 21, 2017 at the United Nations in New York.

Photo: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

The argument taken by Wright’s book is less dramatic, though in practice his conclusions are not vastly different. In the aftermath of a bruising decade-and-a-half of failed wars, financial crises, and political dysfunction, the U.S. seems to have lost both the will and ability to hold off threats to the international system it created. For their part, the American people have also lost faith in the ability of their elected officials to govern international affairs competently or deliver on any of the grand promises that have accompanied past wars and interventions.

Partly as a consequence of so many self-inflicted losses, China, Russia, and Iran have all mounted growing challenges to American hegemony in recent years, contesting the tenets of the U.S.-enforced order in the South China Sea, eastern Europe and the Middle East, respectively. Russia has successfully annexed territory and asserted its influence along its periphery, in places like Ukraine, while China has moved ahead with plans to put the economically-vital South China Sea region under its control. Instead of a world in which a hegemonic U.S. enforces the political and economic rules of engagement in these regions, its now possible to see a future in which the world is carved up into a “spheres of influence” system that gives regional powers wide latitude to set the agenda in their immediate neighborhood.

Such a development should give principled opponents of U.S. foreign policy pause. Although the crimes and follies of American imperialism over the past several decades are clear, it’s not obvious that a world divided between several regional hegemons would be more peaceful or stable. In the absence of the U.S. hegemonic presence, the world would likely see numerous sub-imperial states emerge, each seeking to impose their own vision of political order onto their region and being unconstrained by the threat of an outside power intervening to stop them. What’s worse, none of the powers seeking to replace the U.S. is even notionally committed to liberal principles like international human rights, meaning the likely retreat of such concepts along with U.S. influence. The damage that the U.S. did to its own professed values through direct abuses as well as the politicization of humanitarian discourse in recent years did little to help their survival. Like the British and French empires before it, the use of torture helped undermine the America’s reputation and its ability to use cultural persuasion instead of force as a means of building popular support. In the absence of the U.S., though, it remains unlikely that a reconstituted system of Russian, Chinese, or Iranian local imperialisms would take meaningful steps to uphold liberal values that the U.S., at least on occasion, made gestures toward promoting.

According to Wright, the strength of America’s global governance has always lain in the fact that the ideals that it promoted were genuinely popular, even if they were applied with inconsistency. Principles like free trade and the promotion of human rights standards boasted significant popular support around the world, while small states benefitted from the American commitment to curb the predatory behavior of their larger neighbors. Even in a world where the U.S. has been cut down to size and reduced to the status of a former global hegemon, it’s still possible for it to remain a leader among the countries in its own neighborhood. Barring a continued hard turn toward nativism, the U.S. would have an important role to play as the anchor state of the Western Hemisphere, serving as an economic and political fulcrum for the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

As the American global empire begins its long and fitful decline — a process initiated by the calamitous 2003 invasion of Iraq that has now given rise to the presidency of Donald Trump — the most worrisome prospect may be how this affects the U.S. itself. Writing in 2010 the late intellectual Tony Judt reflected on the world of emerging instability and uncertainty being wrought by the financial crises and wars that had opened the new century. Less than a decade later, his words seem remarkably prescient in anticipating America’s imperial twilight and the rise of its new demagogic politics:

[We] feel more comfortable describing and combating the risks we think we understand: terrorists, immigrants, job loss or crime. But the true sources of insecurity in decades to come will be those that most of us cannot define: dramatic climate change and its social and environmental effects; imperial decline and its attendant “small wars”; collective political impotence in the face of distant upheavals with disruptive local impact. These are the threats that chauvinist politicians will be best placed to exploit, precisely because they lead so readily to anger and humiliation.

The United States will leave behind a complex legacy as its global footprint recedes. Despite well-documented crimes during wars of choice in Vietnam, Iraq, and other peripheral regions of its global empire, much of the world also experienced advancements in human rights and economic prosperity during the period of America’s post-World War II hegemony. The late British empire left behind a similarly complicated legacy: one that included massacres and disastrous geographic partitions, but also left many parliamentary democracies in the lands of its former colonies. Likewise, the final judgment on the U.S. empire might be more nuanced than a rigid ideological position can accommodate. As it continues its descent from superpower status, those of us born into the world shaped by the United States can only hope that its collapsing imperial system experiences a soft landing – and that American leaders can learn to make peace with a world in which their country is but one power among many.

Top photo: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump are reflected in a mirror as they listen to opening statements before a luncheon at the Palace Hotel during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 20, 2017 in New York.

The post The View From the End of the American Empire appeared first on The Intercept.

Source: The Intercept | 24 Sep 2017 | 12:15 pm IST

Laver Cup 2017: Roger Federer & Rafael Nadal win first doubles match

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal win their first doubles match together on the second day of the inaugural Laver Cup.

Source: BBC News - Home | 24 Sep 2017 | 12:10 pm IST

Poet Aja Monet: ‘White Folks Have to Face Who Trump Is’

The Brooklyn-born Cuban-Jamaican poet Aja Monet has emerged as a powerful voice of struggle for justice against police violence and violence against women. Her poems also critique capitalism and men who make war. Monet spent time in Palestine and has become an outspoken critic of Israeli occupation. Aja Monet’s weapon is her poetry and spoken word. She has a new collection of her poetry that has just been published by Haymarket Books. It is called “My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter.”

On the Intercepted podcast, we talked to Aja Monet about the struggles of being a woman in modern society, racism, war, and Donald Trump. She said that Trump has not changed her or her work. “It’s no different,” she said, adding, “I think it’s different for a lot of white people. I think a lot — a majority — felt like this country was progressive because it had a black president. And so I think people were really blind to what’s actually going on in this country and what’s always been going on. And so, for me, I think Trump is only a reflection of their quote-unquote “worst,” but there’s even worse out there. And I think white folks have to face who Trump is and they need to face what he represents and what he’s spewed to the world and the values that he’s demonstrating that he believes are American.” What follows is the transcript of the entire interview:

Jeremy Scahill: Aja Monet, welcome to Intercepted.

Aja Monet: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

JS: There’s a lot I want to ask you about, but I first wanted to go in on the title of your latest book, “My Mother Was A Freedom Fighter.” Maybe you could just explain where the inspiration for that title came from?

AM: So the title is from a poem that is called “My Mother Was A Freedom Fighter,” and the poem essentially covers what I feel is the story of the trajectory of women who have nurtured and who have had to take care of other people and raise society and raise cultures and raise civilizations. And we think about mothers in such a, like we say it in a very romantic way, like, “Oh, my mother, I wouldn’t be here without my mother,” blah blah blah. But I don’t think we talk about it very practically. Like, what women do and what specifically women who bear children and take care of children, or maybe not be able to bear children, but nurture and take care of other people’s children, they teach the values of society.

And so I feel like every woman I know who has tried to exist in contemporary society, at least, or in any society in their time, has struggled to be and exist and to love and to nurture, and to raise up other nurturing loving people. And I think we haven’t really seen, at least in America, we haven’t seen a lot of support around what women do for society and the values that they instill in people.

JS: It’s interesting how you write in some of your work about the about the body of women, and about stretch marks in particular, and you talk about it as like, almost like pieces of art in some of your writing. And also very powerfully talking about C-sections, contemplation of abortion, what it means then for the child that’s born. I mean it’s really visceral stuff that seems borne of your personal experience, too.

AM: Yeah I think part of it is my mom. I wouldn’t be here without my mother, of course. And it’s been a complicated relationship for me.

I think a lot of young women daughters go through that where a woman trying to raise a child but also a woman trying to raise another woman is in and of itself its own difficult journey. And no one really teaches you how to do that the right way. I don’t think there is a right way.

However, my mom was a single mother and so seeing her raise three kids by herself and seeing the decisions she had to make and the ways that she had to make them. And some of the stories she shared and the things that she — the trauma she carried. And the complication of having these children. Yes she loved us but it also made her life very hard and very difficult and there wasn’t a lot of help. You know, there weren’t people — my father wasn’t really there. And I think that there should be safety nets for women specifically who are creating quote-unquote “the labor force of society,” that there’s something more than just being a being a romantic notion of motherhood is great. It’s like, the struggle that women have around whether they should have children, not just because I want to be a pro-feminist and I’m like, “Oh, abortion is my right!” But it’s also like a lot of black women never had the right to have children, during slavery their children were taken from them.

So the whole, the story of the transatlantic slave trade, and what people had to go through during babies overboard. I mean that’s all part of our narrative. So our whole relationship to the right to have children and to raise them is a whole different narrative than the “white feminist” quote-unquote narrative which is, “I don’t want to be in the house and I don’t want to…”

You know, there’s a lot of black women know that we love the chance to be in the house and not have to always take on the role of both “the man” and “the woman,” quote-unquote.

Obviously gender is very different and depending on how people identify. However I do believe that the womb is non-gender-conforming. You know, I think that it holds both masculine and feminine energy. And those are things I question why are we so focused on this one performance of gender or what that is, when I believe women, as we call them, have defied what the performance of gender is supposed to be, and particularly mothers.

So that’s that struggle for myself has been there because I’ve seen my mother struggle with it. And I’ve gone through personal experiences where I’ve wanted to have children and I wanted to create a life, and maybe felt like I wasn’t in the best position and felt like I wasn’t supported.

And there’s so much fear around it, there is so much—just, we don’t talk about it in a very uplifting, loving way. You know? How the narrative built around family is so weird in America, is like the picket fence and that whole narrative. But the complication is not often told. And so, I think I look forward to sharing these poems because it complicates the narrative and it gives something else to show what motherhood could be, I think.

JS: Which piece do you think would be most relevant for this part of the conversation? I mean if you have one based on what you were just saying. I don’t want to tell you what to read.

AM: So, there’s so many different poems. There’s a poem that I wrote called, “Dream Deferred.” There’s also a poem called, “The Emerging Woman After Aborting A Girl.” “Dream Deferred” is shorter. So the first poem is called, “The Emerging Woman After Aborting A Girl.”

“Eight a.m. in September, my daughter chose to show up at my doorstep unannounced. Had the nerve to come talk to me about being a mother when I wasn’t ready for no giving up my life to mother no ungrateful child. Wasn’t in no place to open no doors, to let her see my empty cupboard, to open my empty fridge. I ain’t got time to explain to no child why I write poems to relic the ruckus, why I collect sally-made letters in bags and post collages on walls. Or why I can’t love the way nobody taught me how. Or why my flaws show up in her face. Or how my dimples fall deep in her cheekbone. Ain’t got the heart to reason with her. My selfish choices are all the ways I couldn’t be of sacrifice. I couldn’t be nobody’s Christ. I ain’t got enough hours in the day to be somebody’s God. And I look at her face. I couldn’t bring myself to open the door. I couldn’t stand to see her through the peephole. All my life flashed before my eyes and one day, one day she’ll be a woman or not, have some children of her own or not. She’ll understand or not. Not till she does will she know the depth how we raise our heartaches and love the world whole, healing through snatches at glimpses of ourselves while we offer pieces of flesh to earth. Naw, there ain’t no mother here. You best be on your way.”

AM: And, I’ll share why those two poems in a bit. But this is “Dream Deferred”:

“I wear a wreath of miscarriages, the right and wrong of it. Heavily drugged, I bled and bled, watching droplets of me swirl down the drain, my breasts were voltaic to touch, shouting words at doorknobs. I cry my worst cry,

ugly, my mouth is frightened, my partner cannot face me, he is on call. Everywhere we go, I am a single mother mourning in public, my joy is short-lived. I mutter confessions to strangers, “I’m fine, I promise, I’m fine.”

JS: So you chose those pieces in the context of this conversation. What was going through your mind, or what was the connection?

AM: Well, for me, there’s several different poems I could have chosen, that all touched on different parts of what I was saying. But I think the first one was a poem that I wrote trying to reconcile my own — the things that were told to me about having a child and how that might have shaped the moment where I didn’t want to have to have a child, and I didn’t think I was ready, and I didn’t think the life was really … You know, I mean, I say, “Eight a.m. in September, my daughter chose to show up at my doorstep unannounced.” You know? And, “Had the nerve to come talk to me about being a mother when I wasn’t ready for no giving up my life to mother no ungrateful child.”

Part of that is these are things that are said from mothers, and my mother, that I know had she had more support or had she been around a better relationship with her mother, that perhaps it would’ve been a very different response to having a child, and joy that you come with having child. And I think I think there’s a different woman who emerges after a woman decide to not keep a child. I think you come into questions about what does it mean to be a woman why are you bestowed this “responsibility,” quote-unquote? Why does your body change? And what does it do and how does that affect you?

And so, I think it was a moment where I felt mostly transformed, and also that I needed to find a way to process what I was feeling, you know? That sometimes words help you communicate that.

And these are two very different situations. “Dream Deferred” was, for me, it has a lot of meanings and I don’t know without crying, I don’t know how comfortable I will feel speaking about it. But my partner is the head of organization called Dream Defenders and Langston Hughes wrote a poem speaking on “Dream Deferred, and “a raisin in the sun” and “what happens to a dream deferred?” And he speaks about it from the perspective of a black person in America, what happens to someone when they don’t fulfill their dream. And, for me, this was a time when I was in a different place in my life and I thought I would have loved to have a child and I was at the best place to, in my spirit and ability, and I couldn’t. I didn’t.

And everyone around me had seen the hysteria of what I was in engaging in, or what that felt like, but they couldn’t understand it. And so that’s why I said, “I’m a single mother mourning in public.” Something about it was you felt like, he couldn’t understand it, he couldn’t empathize, there was no–as sad as it is, there was little to no compassion. And I think men have very little understanding of what questions women are forced to face in light of how their bodies are. You know in light of a lot of what their bodies do and speak and say for them and the spirit of that.

And I think that there was a moment for me in this poem where I felt like I spoke up, feeling so silenced about the whole situation. A lot of my poems are the ways that I kind of speak to the situation and I try to resolve something in it.

JS: In terms of the world that you live in, and the work that you do and the creativity of your work, does it change from president to president, particularly in the case of having—I mean you wrote you wrote a poem that really cut to the heart of the hypocrisy of some key parts of Barack Obama’s legacy, which also is one of my favorite poems that you wrote in terms of the overtly political work.

Has it changed you or your view of the world at all to have someone like Donald Trump in power? And saying some things overtly and plainly that are considered a little more couth if you say them, if you only whisper them in the corridors of power in Washington, rather than tweet them or say them out loud?

AM: I think it’s not different. It’s no different. I think it’s different for a lot of white people. I think they, a lot — a majority — felt like this country was progressive because it had a black president. And so I think people were really blind to what’s actually going on in this country and what’s always been going on.

And so, for me, I think Trump is only a reflection of their quote-unquote “worst,” but there’s even worse out there. And I think white folks have to face who Trump is and they need to face what he represents and what he’s spewed to the world and the values that he’s demonstrating that he believes are American.

Because I’ve always known America was not him and I’ve always known that America was not great. And so it’s not lost on me that we have a lot of work to do. We’ve always had a lot of work to do.

I think now it just gets more people at the protests maybe, you know? Maybe more people show up to the rallies and maybe more people are trying to do things like this in interviews or new marketing, and people are trying to find their own ways of making a difference in a more profound. Because I think for a lot of America it was all about “how much money can I make?”; “how much money can I make?”; “how much —?” and when you brought up race or sexism or any of those things it was like, “Oh you get in the way of money, so shut up.” You know?

And so I think we have to find ways to really redefine what it means to be human. We’ve always had to do that. And what it means to love one another and to truly stand for freedom, equality, justice. Those are all things that only the people who have been fighting this country really know, because they’ve been pushing the country to really stand for what it means.

And am I scared of the fact that women are under threat, et cetera and he says crazy things?

Yeah, but, honestly I was talking to someone today, I feel like it might have been worse if Hillary Clinton was in office. Because people thought Obama made racism a foreign thing, and all we saw was the escalation of racial violence because people were so just disgusted by the possibility that a black man could be president. And I feel like if Hillary would’ve won, it might have been, there might have been women getting in all types of crazy situations.

So I think, regardless, we’re in a country that has not faced itself and has not done the work it needs to do. And most countries, nation-states, whatever have to re-evaluate what it stands for, why it is, who it is, and who does it represent. And, so we’re in a place where we need to do that. And we’re a young country. You know, we’re fairly young.

JS: Maybe you could share, given that we were just talking about the previous presidency, “It Is What It Was.”

AM: “It Is What It Was.”

“it is what it was”: “When your president bails out the banks, not the students, it don’t make no difference

if he’s black or blue. All you care about is how much money you got before you overdraft your account, for reading books and writing essays, and all you got to show for it is garnished checks, cups of noodles, fancy friends, and terms your family don’t understand.

They just want to know why you got two degrees and no health care and no decent income. I tell them, I got all the ways of talking about the problem but no way to make solutions. So, dear Mr. crazy foreign policies, false flags, war and propaganda, Mr. GMOs, chem trails, drones and deportations, dear Mr. false hopes and bamboozled dreams, Mr. Osama bin Laden and Gaddafi killer, Mr. no powers to close Gitmo while chastising black folk to defend your white cousins, we know Trayvon could’ve been your son. Sad thing is, he was. He was you, too.

JS: We only have minutes left and I want to try to run through two other quick parts of your work.

First, talk about your involvement with making, I mean, some people think of it as a hash tag, #sayhername, because it went viral on Twitter and on social media.

But maybe talk about that campaign and your role in it and what was at the center of it.

AM: Well, I was reached out to by Eve Ensler, who was working with, I believe it was Kimberly Crenshaw she was working with on it. And there was another friend of mine, Rachel Gilmer, who now is the co-director of Dream Defenders in South Florida, who was helping to organize this event that they wanted to do that would share and pay homage to all the women who have been murdered by police. Because, I don’t think it matters whether you’re women or men, who’s murdered by the police, it’s just wrong.

However, we do tend to memorialize and lift up the names of men a lot more than we do women. I think that’s just in all fields, in all scenarios that happens. And in this specific situation, the mantra was “Say Her Name.” You know? There’s power in a name. There’s power and people’s spirits are carried through names, and so how do we lift up these names and let them know that one, they’re not forgotten, and two, the world is going to do something about it and that their lives were not lost in vain?

And so, Eve Ensler asked me if I would read a poem, and at the at the time I didn’t know what I was going to read or what I was going to say, and so I wrote this maybe about a few hours before the actual rally in Union Square.

And I was, I think there’s a lot of pressure when you’re a writer, just in general, to write things on a deadline. But there is always even more pressure when it is for the people, and you want the people to feel it, and you want them to know where you’re coming from and you want people to feel elevated or risen in some way.

And so I think there was a, there’s still issues I always have with my writing, where I’m constantly grappling with: Did I communicate when I really want? Did people really get, come away with what I hope they did? And did I, did I speak truth to power for myself?

And so “Say Her Name” for me was a poem that I felt needed to be written. And I was grateful I was asked to read it because it was my marching order, it was what I was called to do so.

So, “Say Her Name”: “I am a woman carrying other women in my mouth. Behold a sister, a daughter, a mother, dear friend. Spirits demystified in a comrade’s tone. They gather to breathe and exhale, a dance with the death we know is not the end. All these nameless bodies haunted by pellet wounds in their chest. Listen for us in the saying of a name you cannot pronounce. Black and woman is a sort of magic, you cannot hash tag the mere weight of it, too vast to be held.

We hold ourselves, an inheritance felt between the hips, woman of soft darkness, portal of light, watch them envy the revolution of our movement. We break open to give life flow, while the terror of our tears, torment of our taste, my rage, is righteous, my love is righteous, my name, is righteous. Hear, what I am not here to say: We too have died. We know we are dying too. I am not here to say: Look at me, how I died so brutal a death, I deserve a name to fit all the horror in. I am here to tell you how if they mentioned me in their protest and their rallies, they would have to face their role in it, too. My beauty, too.

I died many times before the blow to the body. I have bled many months before the bullet to the flesh. We know, we know the body is not the end. Call it what you will. But for all the hands, cuffed wrists of us, shackled ankles of us, the bend over to make room for you of us. How dare we speak anything less than: I love you?

We, who love, just as loudly in the thunderous rain as when the sun shines golden on our skin and the world kissed us unapologetically. We be so beautiful when we be. How you gonna be free without me?

Your freedom tied up with mine at the nappy edge of my soul, singing for all my sisters, watch them stretch their arms and my voice, how they fly open chested toward your ear. Listen for Rekia Boyd, Tanisha Anderson, Yvette Smith, Aiyana Jones, Kayla Moore, Shelly Frey, Miriam Carey, Kendra James, Alberto Spruill, Tarika Wilson,, Shereese Francis, Shantel Davis, Malissa Williams, Darnisha Harris, Michelle Cassell, Pearlie Golden, Kathryn Johnston, Eleanor Bumpers, Natasha McKenna, Sheneque Proctor, Sandra Bland.

We are each saying we do not vanishing the baited breath of our brothers. Show me. Show me a man willing to fight beside me, my hand in his, the color of courage. There is no mountaintop worth seeing without us. Meet me in the trenches where we lay our bodies down, in the valley of a voice. Say it. Say her name.”

JS: I wanted to ask you also about the time that you spent in Palestine and you see the connection between the other work that is so clear in your work, in your written work and your spoken work, the work that you’re doing on a daily basis. What is the connection between that and the time you spent in Palestine?

AM: Well, I met my partner in Palestine. I was invited by a friend of mine, Maytha Alhassen, who’s a credible scholar. And she’s been writing it for her entire career.

JS: She wrote the forward to your book, also.

AM: Yes. And she had been writing about, she spends a lot of time looking at the relation between African-American and Arab-American communities and she studied a lot, extensively, Malcolm X and the ways in which poetry showed up in his work and Arabic poetry in particular. And that there’s been these connections, even though the narrative has not always been showing or demonstrating that.

And she thought would be powerful to have a poet go on this delegation that they were helping to organize with Dream Defenders.

And the delegation started Ahmed Abu-Zaid, he is from Palestine, he had been working with Dream Defenders from its inception and essentially saw the connection between what was happening here in the state violence against black and brown bodies and what was happening in Palestine and the violence, the state violence, the state of Israel’s violence against Palestinians.

And, so, for him it seemed like a no brainer. And he wanted, it was always his dream to be able to bring people to learn about the culture and just everything that’s happening there. And he believes, as I do, that in order for our resistance movements to be strong, we have to be united and we have to, you know, wherever injustice is taking place I think we should be speaking against the injustices of human dignity and human kind in freedom and existence. And that’s definitely taking place in the state of Israel against the Palestinian people.

And so, we were we were very vocal about wanting to demonstrate our, our solidarity with them and what that means for me is engage witness, it means carrying the debt with them. It means saying, “I don’t go through the same exact thing as you. It’s very different in actuality. However, I see the complicities of my country. I see what my tax dollars goes towards. I see that it is unjust in many ways back home. But now I’m less alone, I feel less alone and almost less afraid because I know I’m less alone.”

And building that those relationships with Palestinians is part of our humanitarian work as international peoples, you know, people of the diaspora.

So, you know, there’s so many layers and so many connections. And for me, I’m still learning, still processing. We want arts and culture to be a big part of how we demonstrate solidarity because we believe art and culture is how we help introduce new values, ideas and and start to understand the meaning of why are we here, what are we here for, and what is our purpose together.

And so, we’re trying to make more ways for Palestinian artists to be heard and seen and spoken for, and, for themselves. And to make it so that conversation is not all one sided, the master narrative is often from the perspective of Israelis, Zionist Israelis. So how do we lift up the counter-narratives, the stories of people who have been oppressed and silenced? And we’re still discovering what that relationship-building looks like.

And we believe in engaged witnessing. Not just coming and being a tourist and go, “That’s really sad over there.” But how do we take action? How do we see something and not try to speak for other people, but empower each other to be free by our shared love of humanity and dignity and justice?

JS: There’s so many more poems and pieces I’d like to ask you about, but we’re short on time. So, I’ll just ask you to end with what I thought was a really beautiful, albeit very short, poem: “Undressing A wound.”

People often accuse the left of having no sense of humor or of being all fire and brimstone about how terrible everything is. I used to joke when I would go on book tour that I would give out razors to people to just end it after the talk.

AM: Oh man!

JS: But there were flashes of the famous Che Guevara quote, when I was reading this for me, about that the “true revolutionary is guided by love.” And I don’t know if that’s intentional or not, but to me it’s kind of an epic, almost mini-anthem that you wrote here, for hope. And I was just wondering if you’d share, “Undressing a wound.”

AM: Oh, you mean the little thing on the bottom?

JS: It’s simple, but I love it.

AM: “Undressing A Wound: “Radically loving each other is the only everything worth anything.”

JS: Aja Monet, thank you very much for joining us on Intercepted.

AM: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

The post Poet Aja Monet: ‘White Folks Have to Face Who Trump Is’ appeared first on The Intercept.

Source: The Intercept | 24 Sep 2017 | 12:00 pm IST

Hopes for Mexico quake survivors dimming

Rescue prospects for are fading as searches for survivors enter sixth day following Mexico's deadliest earthquake in 32 years.

Source: RTÉ News - News Headlines | 24 Sep 2017 | 11:45 am IST

Axon hopes you'll submit smartphone video as evidence

In theory, handing your smartphone video over to the police if you have evidence of a crime is the right thing to do -- it provides accountability and could be the key to a conviction. However, those contributions are about to enter a gray area. Ax...

Source: Engadget RSS Feed | 24 Sep 2017 | 11:04 am IST

Germans elect a new government but miss a debate over their future

BERLIN — A sleepy German election Sunday will be a bookend of sorts to this year's string of high-stakes contests across Europe, seen as decisive measures of the reach of far-right populism after the election of Donald Trump and the decision of British voters to leave the European Union. Even though Germany's far-right faction — […]

Source: WorldViews | 24 Sep 2017 | 11:00 am IST

Both sides of abortion debate ‘abuse existence’ of people with disabilities

‘We must stop our existence being used and abused,’ says leading disability campaigner

Source: The Irish Times - News | 24 Sep 2017 | 10:39 am IST

Hurricane Maria: Puerto Rico facing crisis

The entire island is still without power and engineers say it could take months to be restored.

Source: BBC News - Home | 24 Sep 2017 | 9:22 am IST

Saudi Arabian Textbook Shows Yoda Joining The UN

Long-time Slashdot reader Mikkeles quotes the BBC: Saudi Arabia's education minister has apologised for the production of a school textbook in which the Star Wars character Yoda is seen superimposed on a photograph of the late King Faisal... The image, which shows the diminutive Jedi Master sitting beside King Faisal as he signs the UN Charter in 1945, was created by the Saudi artist Shaweesh. He told the BBC it was not yet clear how it had ended up in the textbook... The 2013 artwork, entitled United Nations (Yoda), is part of a series in which symbols of American pop culture -- ranging from Captain America to Darth Vader -- are superimposed onto archive photos of historical events... Shaweesh said he included Yoda because, like King Faisal, he was "wise, strong and calm". "Someone should have checked the image before printing," he added.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot | 24 Sep 2017 | 8:30 am IST

Bali volcano: 34,000 flee Mount Agung as tremor magnitude intensifies

Number of people leaving homes in the shadow of the volcano has tripled amid fears it could erupt for the first time in more than 50 years

More than 34,000 people have fled from a rumbling volcano on Bali as the magnitude of tremors grows, prompting fears it could erupt for the first time in more than 50 years, an official has said.

Related: Bali: travel warning issued as volcano threatens to erupt

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 8:28 am IST

North Korea foreign minister says firing rockets on US mainland 'inevitable'

Ri Yong Ho tells the UN general assembly that Donald Trump was on a ‘suicide mission’ as tensions between the nations escalate further

North Korea has said that firing its rockets at the US mainland was “inevitable” after Donald Trump called Pyongyang’s leader “rocket man”, in a further escalation of rhetoric between the two leaders.

North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho’s remarks before the United Nations general assembly came hours after US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers escorted by fighter jets flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea, in a show of force the Pentagon said demonstrated the range of military options available to the US president.

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 8:25 am IST

Teaching the children of Boko Haram fighters

Zannah Mustapha founded a school for children affected by Boko Haram violence in the heartland of the Islamist insurgency in Nigeria.

Source: BBC News - Home | 24 Sep 2017 | 8:22 am IST

In the Last Days of the City review – elegiac portrait of Egyptian revolution

Cairo is the star of a profound film about the two years leading up to the turmoil of 2011

Part documentary, part fiction, this profound, elegiac picture is as trickily undefinable as its subject, the city of Cairo in the two years in the run-up to the Egyptian revolution in 2011. The film uses the device of a fictional film-maker grappling with a documentary portrait of his home city, a mercurial subject, as he struggles with more quotidian concerns such as the quest to find somewhere to live. Woven into the story are messages from friends – video missives from Berlin, Baghdad and Beirut – and documentary footage of the city.

It’s a work of gentle, swelling sadness that mourns a spirit of artistic and creative freedom quashed and it has become something of a cause celebre, since it was effectively banned in Egypt after being unceremoniously pulled from the Cairo international film festival last year.

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 8:00 am IST

Merkel: The world's most powerful woman

Likely to win a fourth term in office, Angela Merkel could go on to become Germany's longest serving Chancellor.

Source: RTÉ News - News Headlines | 24 Sep 2017 | 7:30 am IST

US bombers fly off North Korean coast in show of force

The Pentagon said that US bombers accompanied by fighter jets flew off the coast of North Korea today in a show of force while North Korea's foreign minister assailed Mr Trump at the opening of his address to the UN this evening.

Source: RTÉ News - News Headlines | 24 Sep 2017 | 7:16 am IST

Jacinda Ardern remains positive of way forward after New Zealand election – video

Speaking outside her Auckland home on Sunday, Labour party leader Jacinda Ardern vows to fight on for change in New Zealand government despite falling short of unseating the ruling National party. With talks set to begin between the two major parties and kingmaker New Zealand First’s Winston Peters, Ardern says 'I think New Zealanders would expect that we would form a credible, stable government with the parties that they have voted into office' 

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Source: World news | The Guardian | 24 Sep 2017 | 6:36 am IST

Uber is ready to cut a deal to get its London license back

Uber may have lost its London taxi license with no small amount of drama, but it's already willing to make concessions. The ridesharing outfit's city manager Tom Elvidge tells the Sunday Times that he would "like to know what [Uber] can do" to "get t...

Source: Engadget RSS Feed | 24 Sep 2017 | 5:33 am IST

Experian Criticized Over Credit-Freeze PIN Security and 'Dark Web' Scans

Security researcher Brian Krebs complains that Experian's identity-protecting credit freezes are easily unfrozen online. An anonymous reader quotes the Verge: Experian makes it easy to undo a credit freeze, resetting a subject's PIN through an easily accessible account recovery page. That page only asks for a person's name, address, date of birth, and Social Security [that] was compromised in the Equifax breach, as well as other breaches, so we can probably assume hackers possess this information. After entering that data, attackers then just have to enter an email address -- any email -- and answer a few security questions. That might not jump out as insecure; security questions exist for a reason. But the questions themselves are easy to answer, particularly if you know how to use the internet and a search bar. Krebs says sample questions include asking users to identify cities where they've previously lived and the people that resided with them. Much of that information is available through a person's own social media accounts, search engines, or Yellow Pages-like databases, including Spokeo and Zillow... In response to Krebs' report, Experian claims that it goes beyond the measures identified to authenticate users. "While we do not disclose those additional processes," said the company in a statement, "they include a broad array of checks that are not visible to the consumer." Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports that Experian is also advertising a "free scan of the dark Web" which actually binds anyone who accepts it to their 17,600-word terms of service, as well as acceptance of "advertisements or offers" from financial products companies -- plus "an arbitration clause preventing you from suing the company" which a spokesperson acknowledges could remain in effect for several years.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot | 24 Sep 2017 | 4:30 am IST

'Super Mario Run' update breathes life into Nintendo's mobile plans

You'd be forgiven for wondering what was happening with Super Mario Run. After a flurry of activity in its first few months, things have mostly quieted down. However, Nintendo is about to spark a bit of life into its signature mobile game. It's re...

Source: Engadget RSS Feed | 24 Sep 2017 | 3:35 am IST

Inside Amazon's Warehouses: Thousands of Senior Citizens and the Occasional Robot Mishap

Amazon aggressively recruited thousands of retirees living in mobile homes to migrate to Amazon's warehouses for seasonal work, according to a story shared by nightcats. Wired reports:From a hiring perspective, the RVers were a dream labor force. They showed up on demand and dispersed just before Christmas in what the company cheerfully called a "taillight parade." They asked for little in the way of benefits or protections. And though warehouse jobs were physically taxing -- not an obvious fit for older bodies -- recruiters came to see CamperForce workers' maturity as an asset. These were diligent, responsible employees. Their attendance rates were excellent. "We've had folks in their eighties who do a phenomenal job for us," noted Kelly Calmes, a CamperForce representative, in one online recruiting seminar... In a company presentation, one slide read, "Jeff Bezos has predicted that, by the year 2020, one out of every four workampers in the United States will have worked for Amazon." The article is adapted from a new book called "Nomadland," which also describes seniors in mobile homes being recruited for sugar beet harvesting and jobs at an Iowa amusement park, as well as work as campground hsots at various national parks. Many of them "could no longer afford traditional housing," especially after the financial downturn of 2008. But at least they got to hear stories from their trainers at Amazon about the occasional "unruly" shelf-toting "Kiva" robot: They told us how one robot had tried to drag a worker's stepladder away. Occasionally, I was told, two Kivas -- each carrying a tower of merchandise -- collided like drunken European soccer fans bumping chests. And in April of that year, the Haslet fire department responded to an accident at the warehouse involving a can of "bear repellent" (basically industrial-grade pepper spray). According to fire department records, the can of repellent was run over by a Kiva and the warehouse had to be evacuated.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot | 24 Sep 2017 | 2:30 am IST

Hurricane Maria wreaks havoc on Arecibo radio telescope

Puerto Rico is suffering on an unimaginable scale in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Many have been displaced from their homes, and the entire territory may go without electricity and reliable communication for months. And while the human tragedy is cle...

Source: Engadget RSS Feed | 24 Sep 2017 | 2:01 am IST

Watch the NFL's London game at 9:30AM Eastern

You're about to get a chance to watch an out-of-the-ordinary NFL game wherever you happen to live. The league and Yahoo (disclaimer: yes, they're part of our parent company Verizon) are streaming a special game in London on September 24th at 9:30AM...

Source: Engadget RSS Feed | 24 Sep 2017 | 12:32 am IST

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