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FIP Year In Review

FIP Month in Review

FIP Archive Search




2015-07-15
Multiple Discoveries from NASA's New Horizons Pluto Mission

2014-07-09
R.I.P. William 'Bill' Herbert Kelder - Intellpuke

2013-11-28
Gamers Donate 37,500 Pounds Of Food To Needy

2013-09-30
Statement From The Whitehouse Regarding The Government Shutdown

2013-09-29
An Open Response To 'Organizing for Action'

2013-08-26
Bayou Corne: The Biggest Ongoing Disaster In The U.S. You Have Not Heard Of

2013-04-21
Boston Mayor Hopes Feds 'Throw the Book' at Marathon Bombing Suspect

2013-04-19
Boston Police Closing In On Suspects

2013-04-15
2 Explosions At Boston Marathon. 2 Dead, Many Injured.

2013-01-03
The Press vs Citizens Rights and Privacy - Act 3

2012-12-30
CBS News - Year In Review 2012

Nature.com - 366 Days: 2012 In Review

The Guardian - 2012 In Review: An Interactive Guide To The Year That Was

TruTV - The Biggest Conspiracy Theories of 2012

Colbert Nation: 2012: A Look Back

FIP Year In Review(s?)

2012-12-25
Happy Holidays

2012-12-21
Welcome To A New Era!

2012-12-16
An Open Letter To United Health Care, Medcom, And The Medical Insurance Industry In General

2012-11-17
Whitehouse Petition To Remove "Under God" and "In God" From Currency And The Pledge.

2012-11-15
December 21, 2012

2012-11-11
If Hillary Clinton Ran For President, She Would Probably Be The Best-prepared Candidate In American History

2012-11-10
CIA Director David Petraeus Resigns After FBI Investigation Uncovers Affair With High-Profile Journalist

FIP Format Update

2012-11-07
Thank you for voting.

2012-11-06
Live Election Results

2012-09-30
FIP In Hiatus

2012-09-18
U.S.-Afghan Military Operations Suspended After Attacks

Iran Nuclear Chief Says IAEA Might Be Infiltrated By 'Terrorists And Saboteurs'

Romney Stands By Gaffe





Free Internet Press - News Aggregator
Updated every 10 minutes.
Syrian refugee band in Berlin creates 'place with no borders' through music
2016-08-28 06:22:05 (5 minutes ago) 

Amid a growing backlash against Muslim migrants, this band acts as ambassadors of goodwill in Germany.

        
 
Ohioans gambling have lost $9.7 billion over four years
2016-08-28 06:21:50 (6 minutes ago) 
People love to gamble in Ohio. From a $1 scratch-off lottery ticket to a $10,000 bet at a casino, we have it all. But those betting at the state’s four casinos, seven racinos at horse-race tracks, and the Ohio Lottery have lost $9.7 billion in the past four years, according to a Dispatch analysis. Including all major forms of legal gambling, nearly $62.9 billion was bet and $53.3 billion was won from 2012 to 2015.adcelannotate = {"mobilepaywallcategory" : "MOBILE_PREM-LOCAL","nativepaywallcategory" : "NATIVE_PREM-LOCAL"};
 
Paul Whatuira - How te reo Maori saved my life
2016-08-28 06:21:46 (6 minutes ago) 
Aroha – love. It is only five letters but one of the most beautiful and powerful words in te reo Maori.
 
Skin Deep: What a Hand Model Knows About Skin Care
2016-08-28 06:21:25 (6 minutes ago) 
Adele Uddo is one of the most successful models you’ve never heard of, even though her job is to stay mostly out of the picture.
 
College football Down Under attracts 61,000 fans at Sydney
2016-08-28 06:20:16 (7 minutes ago) 
SYDNEY (AP) -- The beer ran out in some sections of the Olympic stadium, but most of the 61,247 spectators at Saturday's U.S. college football opener in Sydney between California and Hawaii appeared to be enjoying their American "gridiron" experience....
 
Vaccine sprint
2016-08-28 06:10:21 (17 minutes ago) 
Africa's worst yellow fever outbreak in 30 years prompts a race to protect millions of people from the disease, complicated by a shortage of vaccines.
 
Gas mix-up grief ‘compounded’
2016-08-28 06:01:51 (26 minutes ago) 
The family of a newborn baby who died in gas-mix up accuse the NSW government of “rushing” them in their grieving process.
 
Germany expects fewer than 300,000 refugees this year
2016-08-28 06:00:16 (27 minutes ago) 
BERLIN (AP) -- Germany's top migration official expects fewer than 300,000 refugees will come to the country this year....
 
Community Secret Ballot [pashute]
2016-08-28 05:50:53 (37 minutes ago) 
 
Welcome breakthrough for Black Caps as JP Duminy departs
2016-08-28 05:41:39 (46 minutes ago) 
New Zealand has made an much-needed breakthrough in the opening session of day two of the second and final cricket test with South Africa at Centurion.
 
New Baltimore Surveillance Program Raises Trust Issues
2016-08-28 05:41:11 (46 minutes ago) 
 
Pakistan says 4 militants behind 2009 cricket attack killed
2016-08-28 05:21:58 (1 hours ago) 

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani officials say four Islamic extremists allegedly involved in a 2009 attack on the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team have been killed in a shootout with police. The officials did not identify the militants or their armed group. The attack on the cricket team killed six police and two bystanders, and […]
 
Hillary Clinton's and Donald Trump's economic policies: What they really mean for jobs, the economy
2016-08-28 05:21:26 (1 hours ago) 
The Plain Dealer, with the help of three local experts, is taking a look at where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump come down on economic policy. Their positions could influence whom voters choose.
 
Hurricane GASTON Forecast Discussion Number 23
2016-08-28 05:21:14 (1 hours ago) 
Issued at 500 AM AST SUN AUG 28 2016 000 WTNT42 KNHC 280857 TCDAT2 HURRICANE GASTON DISCUSSION NUMBER 23 NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL072016 500 AM AST SUN AUG 28 2016 For much of the night, there was little overall change in the organization of Gaston. A ragged eye had occasionally been seen in infrared satellite imagery, and an 0529 UTC AMSR microwave overpass detected an eye that was open over the southwestern quadrant. However, within the past hour or so, the eye has become a little more apparent, with some cooling to the surrounding cloud tops. As a result, the initial intensity has been increased to 80 kt, which is slightly above the latest subjective Dvorak estimates because of the recent increase in organization. Gaston is forecast to remain in a low-shear environment and over warm water during the next 24 hours, which should allow for additional intensification. After that time, the NHC forecast shows a leveling-off of Gaston's intensity due to the possibility of upwelling of cooler water resulting from the expected slow motion of the hurricane. Later in the period, increasing in southwesterly shear is likely to cause some weakening, but Gaston is predicted to remain a hurricane during the entire 5-day forecast period. The forward motion of the hurricane appears to be slowing down as anticipated, with recent satellite fixes indicating an initial motion of 325/5 kt. Gaston should continue to decelerate during the next day or so as it remains within an area of weak steering flow. In a 2 to 3 days, a mid-latitude trough is forecast to dig southward off the northeastern United States coast, which should begin to steer Gaston northeastward, but a a slower speed than that of typical recurving hurricanes over the North Atlantic. The track guidance is in good agreement on this scenario, and the NHC track is near the consensus of the dynamical models. FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS INIT 28/0900Z 30.1N 54.6W 80 KT 90 MPH 12H 28/1800Z 30.6N 55.0W 90 KT 105 MPH 24H 29/0600Z 31.0N 55.3W 95 KT 110 MPH 36H 29/1800Z 31.3N 55.2W 90 KT 105 MPH 48H 30/0600Z 31.9N 54.3W 90 KT 105 MPH 72H 31/0600Z 33.3N 51.2W 90 KT 105 MPH 96H 01/0600Z 35.8N 46.2W 80 KT 90 MPH 120H 02/0600Z 38.5N 39.5W 70 KT 80 MPH $$ Forecaster Brown
 
We Were All Slightly Space Nuts: Biosphere 2 Pioneer
2016-08-28 05:01:24 (1 hours ago) 
One of the project's pioneers Mark Nelson remembers what life was inside the dome and the lessons it provided for life in space.
 
Hurricane LESTER Forecast Advisory Number 15
2016-08-28 05:01:24 (1 hours ago) 
Issued at 0900 UTC SUN AUG 28 2016 000 WTPZ23 KNHC 280841 TCMEP3 HURRICANE LESTER FORECAST/ADVISORY NUMBER 15 NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL EP132016 0900 UTC SUN AUG 28 2016 THERE ARE NO COASTAL WATCHES OR WARNINGS IN EFFECT. HURRICANE CENTER LOCATED NEAR 17.9N 122.2W AT 28/0900Z POSITION ACCURATE WITHIN 20 NM PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE WEST OR 270 DEGREES AT 12 KT ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 978 MB MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 85 KT WITH GUSTS TO 105 KT. 64 KT....... 20NE 15SE 15SW 20NW. 50 KT....... 40NE 30SE 20SW 30NW. 34 KT....... 90NE 70SE 50SW 80NW. 12 FT SEAS..180NE 120SE 120SW 150NW. WINDS AND SEAS VARY GREATLY IN EACH QUADRANT. RADII IN NAUTICAL MILES ARE THE LARGEST RADII EXPECTED ANYWHERE IN THAT QUADRANT. REPEAT...CENTER LOCATED NEAR 17.9N 122.2W AT 28/0900Z AT 28/0600Z CENTER WAS LOCATED NEAR 17.9N 121.6W FORECAST VALID 28/1800Z 17.9N 124.1W MAX WIND 85 KT...GUSTS 105 KT. 64 KT... 20NE 15SE 15SW 20NW. 50 KT... 40NE 30SE 20SW 30NW. 34 KT... 90NE 70SE 50SW 80NW. FORECAST VALID 29/0600Z 18.1N 126.9W MAX WIND 85 KT...GUSTS 105 KT. 64 KT... 25NE 20SE 15SW 25NW. 50 KT... 50NE 40SE 30SW 40NW. 34 KT...100NE 70SE 60SW 90NW. FORECAST VALID 29/1800Z 18.2N 129.7W MAX WIND 80 KT...GUSTS 100 KT. 64 KT... 30NE 25SE 20SW 25NW. 50 KT... 50NE 40SE 30SW 40NW. 34 KT...100NE 70SE 60SW 90NW. FORECAST VALID 30/0600Z 18.4N 132.3W MAX WIND 75 KT...GUSTS 90 KT. 50 KT... 50NE 40SE 30SW 40NW. 34 KT...100NE 70SE 60SW 90NW. FORECAST VALID 31/0600Z 18.4N 137.4W MAX WIND 75 KT...GUSTS 90 KT. 50 KT... 50NE 40SE 30SW 40NW. 34 KT...100NE 70SE 60SW 90NW. EXTENDED OUTLOOK. NOTE...ERRORS FOR TRACK HAVE AVERAGED NEAR 125 NM ON DAY 4 AND 150 NM ON DAY 5...AND FOR INTENSITY NEAR 15 KT EACH DAY OUTLOOK VALID 01/0600Z 18.6N 142.2W MAX WIND 75 KT...GUSTS 90 KT. OUTLOOK VALID 02/0600Z 19.4N 147.1W MAX WIND 70 KT...GUSTS 85 KT. REQUEST FOR 3 HOURLY SHIP REPORTS WITHIN 300 MILES OF 17.9N 122.2W NEXT ADVISORY AT 28/1500Z $$ FORECASTER KIMBERLAIN
 
Hurricane GASTON Forecast Advisory Number 23
2016-08-28 05:01:23 (1 hours ago) 
Issued at 0900 UTC SUN AUG 28 2016 000 WTNT22 KNHC 280852 TCMAT2 HURRICANE GASTON FORECAST/ADVISORY NUMBER 23 NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL072016 0900 UTC SUN AUG 28 2016 THERE ARE NO COASTAL WATCHES OR WARNINGS IN EFFECT. HURRICANE CENTER LOCATED NEAR 30.1N 54.6W AT 28/0900Z POSITION ACCURATE WITHIN 20 NM PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE NORTHWEST OR 325 DEGREES AT 5 KT ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 975 MB MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 80 KT WITH GUSTS TO 100 KT. 64 KT....... 15NE 15SE 10SW 15NW. 50 KT....... 60NE 40SE 20SW 40NW. 34 KT.......120NE 120SE 50SW 80NW. 12 FT SEAS..180NE 120SE 120SW 180NW. WINDS AND SEAS VARY GREATLY IN EACH QUADRANT. RADII IN NAUTICAL MILES ARE THE LARGEST RADII EXPECTED ANYWHERE IN THAT QUADRANT. REPEAT...CENTER LOCATED NEAR 30.1N 54.6W AT 28/0900Z AT 28/0600Z CENTER WAS LOCATED NEAR 29.9N 54.5W FORECAST VALID 28/1800Z 30.6N 55.0W MAX WIND 90 KT...GUSTS 110 KT. 64 KT... 15NE 15SE 10SW 15NW. 50 KT... 60NE 40SE 30SW 40NW. 34 KT...120NE 120SE 60SW 90NW. FORECAST VALID 29/0600Z 31.0N 55.3W MAX WIND 95 KT...GUSTS 115 KT. 64 KT... 20NE 20SE 15SW 20NW. 50 KT... 70NE 50SE 40SW 50NW. 34 KT...130NE 120SE 80SW 110NW. FORECAST VALID 29/1800Z 31.3N 55.2W MAX WIND 90 KT...GUSTS 110 KT. 64 KT... 30NE 30SE 20SW 30NW. 50 KT... 70NE 60SE 50SW 60NW. 34 KT...140NE 120SE 90SW 110NW. FORECAST VALID 30/0600Z 31.9N 54.3W MAX WIND 90 KT...GUSTS 110 KT. 50 KT... 70NE 70SE 50SW 60NW. 34 KT...140NE 130SE 100SW 110NW. FORECAST VALID 31/0600Z 33.3N 51.2W MAX WIND 90 KT...GUSTS 110 KT. 50 KT... 80NE 80SE 70SW 60NW. 34 KT...140NE 150SE 120SW 110NW. EXTENDED OUTLOOK. NOTE...ERRORS FOR TRACK HAVE AVERAGED NEAR 150 NM ON DAY 4 AND 200 NM ON DAY 5...AND FOR INTENSITY NEAR 15 KT EACH DAY OUTLOOK VALID 01/0600Z 35.8N 46.2W MAX WIND 80 KT...GUSTS 100 KT. OUTLOOK VALID 02/0600Z 38.5N 39.5W MAX WIND 70 KT...GUSTS 85 KT. REQUEST FOR 3 HOURLY SHIP REPORTS WITHIN 300 MILES OF 30.1N 54.6W NEXT ADVISORY AT 28/1500Z $$ FORECASTER BROWN
 
Dwyane Wade's Family Plans Vigil, Launches Fund for Fatally Shot Cousin
2016-08-28 04:50:03 (2 hours ago) 
Chicago police are questioning three individuals in connection with the killing.
 
Belgian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton's grid penalties explained
2016-08-28 04:30:20 (2 hours ago) 
BBC Sport answers the questions surrounding Lewis Hamilton's 55-place grid penalty, and assesses its impact on the rest of the season.
 
Italian museums giving Sunday proceeds to rebuild quake zone
2016-08-28 04:11:39 (2 hours ago) 

ROME (AP) — Italy’s state museums are donating their proceeds Sunday to relief and reconstruction efforts in the area devastated by an earthquake. The 6.2 magnitude quake on Wednesday flattened three medieval towns in central Italy, destroying not only private homes but also churches and other centuries-old cultural treasures. The idea is to use art […]
 
Italian museums giving Sunday proceeds to rebuild quake zone
2016-08-28 04:01:45 (2 hours ago) 

ROME (AP) — Italy’s state museums are donating their proceeds Sunday to relief and reconstruction efforts in the area devastated by an earthquake. The 6.2 magnitude quake on Wednesday flattened three medieval towns in central Italy, destroying not only private homes but also churches and other centuries-old cultural treasures. The idea is to use art […]
 
Lower Hutt family seeking reimbursement for rent spent on home they fled after paedophile moved next door
2016-08-28 04:01:32 (2 hours ago) 
A Lower Hutt family wants the Government to reimburse them for rent money spent after fleeing a paedophile put next door.
 
10,000th Syrian reaches US this week in resettlement program
2016-08-28 04:00:15 (2 hours ago) 
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) -- The U.S. ambassador to Jordan says Washington will reach its target Monday of taking in 10,000 Syrian war refugees in a yearlong resettlement program....
 
MiSK fest draws visitors in thousands
2016-08-28 03:50:25 (3 hours ago) 
Author: ARAB NEWSSun, 2016-08-28ID: 1472338894518162200

RIYADH: The Hakaya MiSK festival drew 24,537 visitors on its third day, bringing the number of guests at the event to 43,755 so far.

The festival, organized by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s MiSK Charity Foundation, is slated to continue for three more days.
The attendees, mainly young men and children, took part in the activities at the creative sections for writing, drawing, animation and visual production sections. Outstanding projects by young Saudi creators proved they were professional enough to make it to these platforms and workshops.

Main category: Saudi Arabia
 
Makkah museum a big draw
2016-08-28 03:50:25 (3 hours ago) 
Author: SULTAN AL-SUGHAIRSun, 2016-08-28ID: 1472338863978145900

MAKKAH: Pilgrims have started arriving in large numbers to perform Haj and the Two Holy Mosques Museum is among the various places in Makkah that are in focus.

The museum, which is a window to historical, social and cultural features of a nation and religion, attracts visitors and pilgrims throughout the year, but it turns into a beehive of activity during Haj.

Main category: Saudi Arabia
 
$10bn boost: Global bond sale plans hailed
2016-08-28 03:50:25 (3 hours ago) 
Author: KHALIL HANWARESun, 2016-08-28ID: 1472342412668442100

JEDDAH: Economists see considerable benefits for the Kingdom from the government’s plans to issue at least $10 billion worth of bonds in early October in its first international bond sale.
Saudi Arabia’s low debt-to-GDP ratio provides it with ample room to grow its bond issuance program in a relatively lower rate environment, said John Sfakianakis, director of economic research at the Gulf Research Center.
“The issuance of sovereign bonds by Saudi Arabia are extremely important for its revenue diversification efforts,” he told Arab News.

Main category: Economy
 
Meet the 'Tunnel Rats' Patrolling Deep Under the Border
2016-08-28 03:41:06 (3 hours ago) 
On the surface the deterrents are clear, but deep underground there are border patrol agents patrolling the U.S., Mexico border.
 
Acid attack at sex club
2016-08-28 03:21:35 (3 hours ago) 
A man has been charged after filling a lubricant dispenser with hydrochloric acid at a gay and bisexual venue in Sydney.
 
Large police presence in Kaiwaka, north of Auckland
2016-08-28 03:21:33 (3 hours ago) 
Police and the Armed Offenders Squad are conducting a search warrant at a house in Kaiwaka, 100 kilometres north of Auckland.
 
Clinton Receives First Intelligence Briefing as Nominee
2016-08-28 03:21:09 (3 hours ago) 
Hillary Clinton stopped by an FBI office for her first intelligence briefing as Democratic nominee all while trying to keep the focus on Donald Trump.
 
A Cruel Summer of Wretched, Big Movies
2016-08-28 03:10:19 (3 hours ago) 
Sexism, racism, hackery and Meryl Streep drive a film reviewer to despair.

It’s been a bad summer for big movies.

This was acid-clear early on with an unending parade of sequels that nobody wanted, and nobody was much interested in. Summer blockbusters sashayed onto the big screen, swollen with trailers, featurettes, blarney, blah blah, and hyper hype, and then slunk away a few weeks later, their sad little tails tucked between their legs. Hello, Tarzan. Goodbye Tarzan. X-Men: Apocalypse? No. And still more… Warcraft, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Independence Day: Resurgence, Star Trek Beyond, Jason Bourne—the surfeit of films with colons in their titles should tell you something.

Suicide Squad suffered the most precipitous decline, with its numbers dropping off a cliff, but other tent poles collapsed in similar fashion. Even the classy films, for the oldies, were less than thrilling. In light of which, I would officially like to announce my plans to end Meryl Streep. I have pinpointed the place where I went from tolerating Streep to plotting her demise. It fell somewhere between Mamma Mia and It’s Complicated. She has even made me feel badly about people that I used to love (Oh, my sweet Julia Child) and for that I curse her. (Howls “STREEEEEEP!” and shakes fist at the sky.)

Streep has honked and tootled through a long line of Mother Goose characterizations from Maggie Thatcher to Emmeline Pankhurst. She adds yet another in the robust figure of one Florence Foster Jenkins. The lady in question had the dubious distinction of being named the worst singer in the world. Alas the poor dear came to fame before the age of lip-syncing or Auto-Tune. The few recordings of her still in existence will make your ears bleed, and neighbourhood dogs run in the opposite direction, yipping like they’ve been scalded. The actress takes to the delusional singer con brio, as they say. The result is like being fed too much screaming cake.

And there was even more bad news including Bad Moms and Nine Lives, wherein Kevin Spacey is transmogrified into a naughty pussycat. Could it possibly get any worse? Why yes, it can!

Here at the tail end of the season, we have reached a particularly low point, with what is being called the hit of the summer. If by that, they mean a mafia hit, then maybe. I offer you: Sausage Party. In my defense, I wasn’t planning on seeing the film. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The reviews have mostly been kind, and even generous. All I can say to this is what the hell were you thinking, A.O. Scott? I think I add you to my hit list as well.

The premise of Sausage Party is that all food is sentient and, feeding into the Pixar model, full of feelings. In this case, the feelings are mostly horny, angry and nasty – a variation of the Hobbesian ethos. The film, penned by Vancouver’s Seth Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg, who were also responsible for Superbad and The Interview, tell the travails of a wiener named Frank (Rogen) and his ladylove, a hotdog bun named Brenda (Kristen Wiig). The film assembles an impressive array of talent to give life to the various foodstuffs including Edward Norton, Salma Hayek, James Franco, Michael Cera, Jonah Hill and Paul Rudd.

Every day inside a supermarket called Shopwells, hopeful jars of mayonnaise, bottles of ketchup and packages of wieners greet the morning with a hymn to the glory and goodness of the gods. The ‘gods’ are ordinary human shoppers and the community of food lives out its short shelf life in hopes of being plucked from the aisles and delivered to “The Great Beyond” by these noble creatures. The catch, of course, is that The Great Beyond is a nice bit of mythology cooked up by a group of elderly foods (the non-perishables) to blind the common food to the truth. I am sure you can easily extrapolate from there, opiate of the masses, blah blah, blah. But as Werner Herzog once said: “I believe the common denominator of the universe is not harmony, but chaos, hostility, and murder.” So it is in Sausage Party. Add in hunger, since that is where we start. Humans aren’t gods, they’re monsters, filled with endless appetite and inventive methodologies to dismember, eviscerate and disembowel innocent wieners.

When Frank learns the truth from a suicidal jar of honey mustard, he sets out on a quest to save his fellow foodstuffs and be reunited, most intimately, with his love.

The film posits an interesting, albeit ridiculous, thesis and initially one’s hopes perk up like a shy forest creature. Multiple ideas, such as animal liberation, a critique of organized religion, even an allegory of Plato’s cave are sketched out. To be fair, there are hints of an interesting perspective shift, and at the heart of it all, a curious darkness. Life is random, meaningless and often unbearably cruel. But the writing never really develops much further than the laziest of tropes. Swearing, sex and bad puns are slathered on like a thick coating of Miracle Whip to bind it all together.

‘Loud, dumb, cheaply animated’

The film’s most notorious scene, in which all the food happily participates in polyamorous orgy, is cheerful enough, and strangely inoffensive. Watching a Jewish bagel have sex with an Arab lavash, mostly all I felt was bemused. In a meaningless universe, might as well get it on, foodies! I am sure the Epicureans are happily applauding from The Great Beyond. Curiously enough, the foodstuff does not seem to actually possess sex organs, although they do have nice white gloves and saddle shoes. Where is the wiener’s wiener, you may well ask? These and more vexing questions are not the source of my problem with the film.

Sausage Party is loud, dumb, cheaply animated and written at a Grade 9 level – all that is to be expected. Even the more salacious aspects aren’t that troubling.

But before we get to the cathartic power of sex, we are forced to endure racist bullshit of staggering proportions. Chinese food wears woven bamboo hats and has slanted eyes. A First Nations character is given the name Firewater. Grits, played by Craig Robinson, is given an exaggerated Samuel “Mofo” Jackson accent. (This was supposedly changed from the original character based on Uncle Tom’s Rice, whose plantation-era drawl proved so offensive that it was replaced by a slightly less offensive stereotype.) Twinkies are gay, but so is every other fruit in a grocery aisle that worships George Michael. It just goes on and on.

This a film that celebrates the puerile and scatological like twin covenants. Humans, with their endless appetites, and even grosser emissions — a toilet roll and a used condom scream in agony at what they have witnessed — are monstrous. Perhaps this is meant to be a critique of the food industry, but it reads more like laziness, juvenilia and plain old white boy privilege. It is hard to enjoy stupid jokes when they’re coated, nay, soaked, in such appalling casual racism. The rather thin rebuttal is that the film is universally offensive to everyone, but it was written, directed and produced by white men, as per usual. Barf!

Is this what we’ve come to? If so, let’s link arms and step off the abyss as a species.

Netflix saves the summer

But wait, you say, the movies aren’t done yet, there’s still some life, some thought, and surely some good news? Right? Yes, certainly, although it came from unexpected directions. Korea, for example, with Train to Busan being one of the more fast and furious rides this summer. There were plenty of smaller films that were great such as The Fits, Captain Fantastic and, as always, lots of documentaries. In Vancouver, the celebration of B&W movies at Vancity and the return of Film Noir at the Cinematheque are reasons for gladness.

But the real hit of the summer wasn’t on the big screen, but on a computer screen. Netflix’s Stranger Things reminded me of reading Stephen King novels, whilst sucking down a grape Slurpee and watching The Goonies—all simultaneously. For anyone who came of age in the ‘80s, the experience was a little like a spontaneous cheese-filled orgasm of references right down to the John Carpenter-inspired score. (If you want to see what a cheese-filled orgasm looks like, you can always watch Sausage Party.)

Sure, Stranger Things was silly as hell, but so what? Its cornpone heart was in the right place. Its wealth of references, direct quotations and outright homage reminded me of the most pleasurable aspects of these ’80s films and books, a quality that, for lack of a better word, I would call cozy.

Nostalgia plays a role here, but the experience harkened back to something else that I had almost forgotten — namely, the satisfaction that comes from bringing different sets of characters together in a shared resolution. Add in a truly inspiring lead at the centre of the action, a swell soundtrack and a glorious compendium of ‘80s typefaces and you have a hit.

But the most surprising element in Stranger Things was a curious form of innocence. Like cool water, it flowed over me, soothing, peaceful and joyful. Innocence may seem odd for a series that is so patently obvious about its methodologies and outright manipulations. The Duffer Brothers, as twins Matt and Ross Duffer are known, play the Spielbergian emotional strings with abandon. But, damn it! The stuff still works, maybe because at the heart of it, there is love. It comes shining through, like a beacon of light, and it this quality that draws your attention.

I still want to love summer movies, not to be faintly disgusted, or bored, or oftentimes both. This isn’t snobbery, this is pain speaking. It is hard to not feel somewhat despairing about mainstream film—degraded and dumbed down to such a point that you feel sullied whenever you step inside a goddamn Cineplex.

Perhaps one should only write about things that you like or want to help. It’s a nice sentiment, and no one ever enters a movie theatre hoping for 90 minutes of torture. You usually head in like you would on a first date, vaguely hopeful, somewhat excited, and just wanting to have some small modicum of pleasure. It doesn’t seem like that much of a demand. But increasingly, it is.

The other night as I was getting ready for bed, Mad Max came on Channel 68. I sat down, watched it and cried. It was so lovely. 

 Related StoriesStanford Bans Hard Alcohol at Parties, Avoiding the Real Causes of Sexual AssaultIn Search of Christine Chubbuck: The Mystery of TV's First On-Air SuicideThey Want to Destroy Leslie Jones: Harassment Targeting 'Ghostbusters' Star Exposes the Ugliness Driving the New Right
 
Please Write and Tweet John Oliver to Thank Him for His Program Revealing Charter Fraud
2016-08-28 03:10:19 (3 hours ago) 
Don’t let the charter industry intimidate him.

As readers of this blog know, deregulation of charters leads to fraud, graft, and abuse. On this site, I have documented scores of examples of fraudsters and grifters who take advantage of weak (or no) oversight to enrich themselves and to strand children in bad schools.

A few days ago, John Oliver ran an excellent segment about charter schools and the fraud associated with them. He barely scratched the surface. Charter supporters are furious and are saying that he “hurt” children, he savaged children, etc. (This is a familiar tactic; when I criticized the improbable test scores in New York City almost a decade ago, I was told that I was “hurting children and their teachers” by questioning the validity of the dramatic rise in scores.)

Fraud is a feature of deregulation, not a bug. When no one is looking, some people steal. Not everyone steals, but many do. That is why Ohio, Florida, Michigan, and California are scamming taxpayers. No one is demanding accountability. Politicians get paid off by charter friends, then cripple any effort to oversee them Ohio and Michigan spend $1 billion a year to subsidize charter schools, which are lower-performing than public schools.

The corporate reformers and privatizers are bombarding John Oliver with tweets and messages attacking his show.

Please let him know you support him.

Please take the time to contact John Oliver by writing him at management@avalonuk.com.

And tweet him @iamjohnoliver.

Don’t let the charter industry intimidate him.

 

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Have You Ever Seen a More Cynical Political Pivot Than Donald Trump Trying to Avoid Electoral Disaster?
2016-08-28 03:10:19 (3 hours ago) 
Pundits are oh so ready to engage in the masquerade that Trump has "changed."

If, like me, you think that a President Trump would be (not to coin a phrase) a total disaster, Hillary Clinton’s widening lead in the polls gave you about five minutes to breathe easier, until Trump replaced his campaign chairman with honchos blunt enough to admit that his ugliness was killing him with undecided voters, and pushy enough to make him pretend to almost apologize for it.

Was last week a true turning point for Trump? Did it signal a transformation from the man-baby who won the Republican primaries to someone with the temperament to be president? In the word of the moment, is this the “pivot” that Clinton’s supporters have most feared?

There are more strata of cynicism in the idea of a pivot than layers of pastry in a mille-feuille.

Start with the presumption of two kinds of Americans. Some of them – political insiders, media junkies, savvy citizens – know the score. They’re hard-boiled enough to get that candidates can sometimes lie with impunity; that everything can come down to image and optics; that in an era of post-truth politics, narratives can matter more than facts.

The other Americans are the useful idiots whose gullibility is what pollsters measure. When a candidate pivots from one message in the primaries (e.g., Blacks are scary), to a contradictory message in the general (Blacks are suffering), or when a nominee torques from bullying (smearing a Gold Star mother, say) to sensitivity (I regret causing personal pain), his or her campaign calculates that the base and the undecideds will just roll with it. They’ll bend themselves into pretzels, believe the character swings, dissolve the flip-flops in the solvent of amnesia.

So when insiders speculate whether the Trump pivot has at long last arrived, what they’re really asking is whether Trump has the discipline to maintain the masquerade that he’s changed. If he doesn’t consistently act as though he can get his id under control, too many voters may conclude that the pathological liar and narcissist they saw in the primaries – whom the elite knows is the real Trump – is in fact the real Trump.

The cynicism of the pivot ploy came into sharp focus when Trump, under the tutelage of his new chieftains — Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway — declared in Charlotte, N.C., “Sometimes, in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that.”

If you saw him say that, you couldn’t mistake the meaning of the smirk on his face: “This is an act, people. I’m bluffing.” No wonder the crowd laughed at the preposterousness of it. “And believe it or not,” he continued, “I regret it.” Trump’s signature catchphrase is “believe me,” so when he says “believe it or not,” it’s a tell, a hostage video. “Or not” is the equivalent of blinking “I’m lying” in Morse code. The only disclaimer missing was putting air quotes around “regret.” No wonder his mea quasi culpa was met with even more laughter, and a Trump-Trump-Trump chant from the crowd; it was their way of saying they knew he was faking it.

Last Friday’s Morning Joe on MSNBC epitomized the media response to the Trump shakeup. The question on the table wasn’t whether Trump had truly changed; no one on the panel thought his pivot meant anything truthful about his temperament. Instead, it was all about performance, stagecraft, illusion – whether Trump’s new minders can make him stick to the new script, whether they can market it with a straight face, whether the audience will buy it. Joe Scarborough called Conway’s TV debut as campaign manager “the best pundit performance of the year.” “It was quite a performance,” agreed Andrea Mitchell, because “it didn’t have performance written all about it – it was natural.” Eugene Robinson thought Trump’s attempting a pivot would “if not gladden the hearts of worried Republicans, at least calm their night sweats.” Chris Cillizza wondered if Trump, a billionaire who managed to depict himself as a populist in the primaries, had already “damaged himself so badly, image-wise, that a change like this is not able to be sold to a skeptical electorate.” Brand maven Donnie Deutsch said no, it wouldn’t work, because “people are not stupid.” The press needs to stop setting the bar so low, “to stop giving him presidential points because he can read off a teleprompter and he’s not insulting anybody.”

Within hours of his Charlotte speech, a Clinton ad collected video of Trump being asked if he regretted taking shots at the Khans (“I don’t regret anything”); if he regretted denying that John McCain was a war hero (“I like not to regret anything”); if he regretted calling Mexicans rapists (“No, not at all); if he wanted to apologize for anything (“No, I don’t apologize”). Will it work? Trump’s tears may be crocodile contrition, but fact checking, even via video, sometimes can’t keep a good charlatan down.

Nor, maybe, will Trump’s message discipline stick any longer than after other reboots. Yesterday Conway tweeted that Trump "doesn't hurl personal insults." But during today’s Morning Joe, Trump took to Twitter to call Scarborough and co-host Mika Brzezinski “two clowns,” adding that she’s “a neurotic and not very bright mess.” So much for temperament transplants.

A political pivot is a con that wins wolf whistles from people who think they’re too smart to fall for it.  I wonder what it would take to motivate some connoisseurs of that fakery to volunteer a little time on the vice squad cleaning things up.

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Pioneer Square
2016-08-28 03:02:03 (3 hours ago) 

Things to do in the neighborhood for the week beginning Aug. 28.
 
Would-be bomber fails to detonate in Indonesian church
2016-08-28 02:41:49 (4 hours ago) 

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Police in western Indonesia say a would-be suicide bomber failed to detonate explosives in a packed church during Sunday Mass. National police spokesman Maj. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar says the assailant left a bench and ran toward a priest at the altar but a bomb in his backpack apparently did not […]
 
Would-be bomber fails to detonate in Indonesian church
2016-08-28 02:31:58 (4 hours ago) 

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Police in western Indonesia say a would-be suicide bomber failed to detonate explosives in a packed church during Sunday Mass. National police spokesman Maj. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar says the assailant left a bench and ran toward a priest at the altar but a bomb in his backpack apparently did not […]
 
Czech tramper Pavlina Pizova familiar with death on the mountains
2016-08-28 02:21:40 (4 hours ago) 
The Czech tramper who survived a torturous month alone in remote Fiordland has previously mourned friends who died in the mountains.
 
Japan braces for a third powerful typhoon in a week
2016-08-28 02:10:40 (4 hours ago) 
 
NFL star Colin Kaepernick sits in protest during national anthem
2016-08-28 01:50:40 (5 hours ago) 
NFL star Colin Kaepernick explains why he chose to sit during the national anthem for a pre-season game.
 
Hurricane Gaston reforms, moves northwest in the Atlantic
2016-08-28 01:41:50 (5 hours ago) 

MIAMI (AP) — Hurricane Gaston has reformed, gathering strength as it moves northwestward in the Atlantic. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says Gaston reformed as a hurricane Saturday night, clocking 85 mph (140 kph) winds. The storm was located about 655 miles (1,055 kilometers) east southeast or Bermuda. Gaston was moving at about […]
 
LEADING OFF: Ellis starts for Phils, Jones maybe OK for O’s
2016-08-28 01:41:50 (5 hours ago) 

A look at what’s happening all around the majors today: ___ SUNDAY SCHOOL A.J. Ellis is set to make his first start for the Phillies when he catches 24-year-old Vince Velasquez (8-6, 4.31 ERA), who is winless in seven outings since July 8. The 35-year-old Ellis, obtained Thursday from the Dodgers in a surprising trade […]
 
Apple Fixes Three Zero Days Used In Targeted Attack
2016-08-28 01:41:34 (5 hours ago) 
Trailrunner7 quotes a report from On The Wire: Apple has patched three critical vulnerabilities in iOS that were identified when an attacker targeted a human rights activist in the UAE with an exploit chain that used the bugs to attempt to remotely jailbreak and infect his iPhone. The vulnerabilities include two kernel flaws and one in WebKit and Apple released iOS 9.3.5 to fix them. The attack that set off the investigation into the vulnerabilities targeted Ahmed Mansoor, an activist living in the UAE. Earlier this month, he received a text message that included a link to what was supposedly new information on human rights abuses. Suspicious, Manor forwarded the link to researchers at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, who recognized what they were looking at. "On August 10 and 11, 2016, Mansoor received SMS text messages on his iPhone promising ;new secrets' about detainees tortured in UAE jails if he clicked on an included link. Instead of clicking, Mansoor sent the messages to Citizen Lab researchers. We recognized the links as belonging to an exploit infrastructure connected to NSO Group, an Israel-based 'cyber war' company that sells Pegasus, a government-exclusive "lawful intercept" spyware product," Citizen Lab said in a new report on the attack and iOS flaws.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

 
Nephew of Sinaloa cartel leader shot dead
2016-08-28 01:30:42 (5 hours ago) 
Gunmen killed the nephew of a Sinaloa cartel leader in the latest attack against relatives of people linked to the drug organization.
 
Presidential museum gets rare Lincoln biography
2016-08-28 01:30:02 (5 hours ago) 
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. • At the same time that Kathryn Harris, president of the Abraham Lincoln Association, was meeting with the association’s board, a rare Lincoln biography was being sold at a Chicago auction house.
 
India tests new space rocket engine
2016-08-28 01:22:08 (5 hours ago) 
India on Sunday successfully tested a new rocket engine of the Super Sonic Combustion Ram Jet (SCRAMJET) from the southern spaceport of Sriharikota.
 
The Saturday Profile: A Critic’s Lonely Quest: Revealing the Whole Truth About Mother Teresa
2016-08-28 01:21:32 (5 hours ago) 
Dr. Aroup Chatterjee has spent hundreds of hours researching the soon-to-be saint. “I just thought that this myth had to be challenged,” he said.
 
Olympian sells medal to fund child's cancer treatment
2016-08-28 01:10:38 (5 hours ago) 
For an athlete, an Olympic medal is a priceless possession.
 
"Dead" walk year-round at new Universal Hollywood attraction
2016-08-28 01:10:02 (5 hours ago) 
Greg Nicotero, makeup mastermind for AMC's "Walking Dead," helped to create new permanent scares.
 
Rio Paralympics 2016: Chris Sharp and New Zealand's para-sailors aim to surprise
2016-08-28 01:01:43 (5 hours ago) 
 
In North Korea, a hardboiled (and fictional) cop keeps watch
2016-08-28 01:01:42 (5 hours ago) 
 
Syrian refugee band in Berlin creates 'place with no borders' through music
2016-08-28 06:22:04 (5 minutes ago) 

Amid a growing backlash against Muslim migrants, this band acts as ambassadors of goodwill in Germany.

       
 
Licking County deputy suspected in crime gets two raises while case drags on
2016-08-28 06:21:50 (6 minutes ago) 
NEWARK — In the 16 months since he has been on leave pending a criminal investigation, a deputy with the Licking County sheriff’s office has continued to collect a paycheck and has received at least two raises.adcelannotate = {"mobilepaywallcategory" : "MOBILE_PREM-LOCAL","nativepaywallcategory" : "NATIVE_PREM-LOCAL"};
 
Donald Trump Hires First and Deals With Background Questions Later
2016-08-28 06:21:26 (6 minutes ago) 
The Republican presidential candidate has shown a lenient side in the vetting of campaign officials who turn out to have come with red flags.
 
Letter of Recommendation: Letter of Recommendation: Safety Razors
2016-08-28 06:21:25 (6 minutes ago) 
How did marketers convince people that masculinity meant never being around sharp objects?
 
College football Down Under attracts 61,000 fans at Sydney
2016-08-28 06:20:16 (7 minutes ago) 
SYDNEY (AP) -- The beer ran out in some sections of the Olympic stadium, but most of the 61,247 spectators at Saturday's U.S. college football opener in Sydney between California and Hawaii appeared to be enjoying their American "gridiron" experience....
 
Crews search Camber Sands for swimmer
2016-08-28 06:10:21 (17 minutes ago) 
A multi-agency search is under way at Camber Sands for a person thought to be missing in the sea, the RNLI has said.
 
Media reports 41 cases of locally-transmitted Zika virus in Singapore
2016-08-28 06:01:48 (26 minutes ago) 
Singapore has confirmed 41 cases of locally-transmitted Zika virus, local media reported on Sunday, citing the city-state's health ministry.
 
Germany expects fewer than 300,000 refugees this year
2016-08-28 06:00:15 (27 minutes ago) 
BERLIN (AP) -- Germany's top migration official expects fewer than 300,000 refugees will come to the country this year....
 
Bake Off's Mary Berry criticised by MasterChef judge over fryers
2016-08-28 05:50:19 (37 minutes ago) 
MasterChef judge Gregg Wallace criticises Great British Bake Off star Mary Berry, calling her comments on deep-fat fryers an "attack on our British way of life".
 
A man hospitalised after Hawke's Bay crash
2016-08-28 05:41:39 (46 minutes ago) 
A car has careered off the road and into a building in Napier.
 
New Baltimore Surveillance Program Raises Trust Issues
2016-08-28 05:41:08 (46 minutes ago) 
 
Moana points the way forward for actor diversity
2016-08-28 05:21:44 (1 hours ago) 
When the Disney film Moana lands this November, it will feel fresh to many moviegoers for an unusual reason: It is a mainstream Hollywood animated film that casts featured voice actors of colour who represent the culture being depicted.
 
Comment here on cleveland.com court and crime stories for Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016
2016-08-28 05:21:26 (1 hours ago) 
cleveland.com readers can offer their thoughts in the comments section.
 
Capitol Insider: Trump adopting Kasich’s view on immigration?
2016-08-28 05:02:00 (1 hours ago) 
The words were barely out of Donald Trump’s lips on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show last week when Jon Keeling tweeted: “Where Trump officially co-opts John Kasich’s immigration policy.”adcelannotate = {"mobilepaywallcategory" : "MOBILE_PREM-LOCAL","nativepaywallcategory" : "NATIVE_PREM-LOCAL"};
 
Hurricane LESTER Graphics
2016-08-28 05:01:24 (1 hours ago) 

5-Day Uncertainty Track last updated Sun, 28 Aug 2016 08:42:10 GMT


Wind Speed Probabilities last updated Sun, 28 Aug 2016 08:41:35 GMT
 
Summary for Hurricane LESTER (EP3/EP132016)
2016-08-28 05:01:24 (1 hours ago) 
...LESTER SLIGHTLY WEAKER...MOVING DUE WEST... As of 2:00 AM PDT Sun Aug 28 the center of LESTER was located near 17.9, -122.2 with movement W at 14 mph. The minimum central pressure was 978 mb with maximum sustained winds of about 100 mph.
 
Summary for Hurricane GASTON (AT2/AL072016)
2016-08-28 05:01:23 (1 hours ago) 
...GASTON CONTINUES TO STRENGTHEN... As of 5:00 AM AST Sun Aug 28 the center of GASTON was located near 30.1, -54.6 with movement NW at 6 mph. The minimum central pressure was 975 mb with maximum sustained winds of about 90 mph.
 
Promises houses can be more expensive - and more affordable - do not compute
2016-08-28 04:42:12 (2 hours ago) 
OPINION: It may be open to debate whether John Key and his Cabinet are facing a "crisis" over housing.
 
US elections: Trump details plans to track illegal immigrants
2016-08-28 04:30:20 (2 hours ago) 
US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump says he will develop a "tracking system" to remove illegal immigrants who outstay their visas.
 
10,000th Syrian reaches US this week in resettlement program
2016-08-28 04:11:39 (2 hours ago) 

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to Jordan says Washington will reach its target Monday of taking in 10,000 Syrian war refugees in a yearlong resettlement program. The program emerged as an issue in the U.S. presidential campaign, with Republican nominee Donald Trump alleging in the past that displaced Syrians constitute a potential security […]
 
10,000th Syrian reaches US this week in resettlement program
2016-08-28 04:01:45 (2 hours ago) 

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to Jordan says Washington will reach its target Monday of taking in 10,000 Syrian war refugees in a yearlong resettlement program. The program emerged as an issue in the U.S. presidential campaign, with Republican nominee Donald Trump alleging in the past that displaced Syrians constitute a potential security […]
 
Meet the 'Tunnel Rats' Patrolling Deep Under the Border
2016-08-28 04:01:13 (2 hours ago) 
On the surface the deterrents are clear, but deep underground there are border patrol agents patrolling the U.S., Mexico border.
 
10,000th Syrian reaches US this week in resettlement program
2016-08-28 04:00:14 (2 hours ago) 
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) -- The U.S. ambassador to Jordan says Washington will reach its target Monday of taking in 10,000 Syrian war refugees in a yearlong resettlement program....
 
Female units assigned to assist pilgrims
2016-08-28 03:50:25 (3 hours ago) 
Author: ARAB NEWSSun, 2016-08-28ID: 1472338863918145000

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Haj and Umrah has assigned female units to assist pilgrims, inspect departments dealing with women during Haj, take needed notes and help them receive appropriate services.
The women’s department at the ministry has played an important role in serving pilgrims over the years, carrying out several administrative, legal or social tasks, in addition to monitoring all women's issues during Haj and Umrah.

Main category: Saudi Arabia
 
Health insurance for private sector retirees demanded
2016-08-28 03:50:25 (3 hours ago) 
Author: ARAB NEWSSun, 2016-08-28ID: 1472338844068139400

JEDDAH: At a time when the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI) refuses to provide medical insurance for private sector retirees, Shoura Council members and specialists confirmed to Aleqtesadiah that it is time for GOSI to adopt a health care system for them because it has become a necessary requirement.
One of the proposals by specialists is to deduct a small percentage of salary to establish a cooperative solidarity fund divided equally between GOSI and subscribers. In addition, insurance companies will be contracted to serve them after retirement.

Main category: Saudi Arabia
 
Would-be bomber fails to detonate in Indonesian church
2016-08-28 03:41:48 (3 hours ago) 

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Police in western Indonesia say a would-be suicide bomber failed to detonate explosives in a packed church during Sunday Mass.

        
 
Europe at Midnight: SF, with a very British take
2016-08-28 03:31:08 (3 hours ago) 
SF blogger Paul McAuley on his favourite Arthur C. Clarke award hopeful
 
Live: Black Caps v South Africa - second test, day two
2016-08-28 03:21:33 (3 hours ago) 
The Black Caps clash with South Africa on the second day of the second test, at Centurion.
 
Watch Swiss Wrestlers Rumble on Sawdust Pits
2016-08-28 03:21:13 (3 hours ago) 
Every 3 years Switzerland organizes its wrestling festival Schwingfest, attracting some 250,000 spectators.
 
Katrina Pierson Goes on Fox News to Blame Obama for Trump’s Immigration Flip-Flop
2016-08-28 03:10:19 (3 hours ago) 
You can't make this stuff up.

A spokeswoman for Donald Trump said Saturday that the Republican presidential candidate had appeared to change his hardline views on immigration because he didn’t want to be like President Barack Obama.

Appearing on Fox News, Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson was asked why Trump’s “clear” immigration policies had become “complicated” over the past week.

“Well it is not really complicated,” she replied. “Mr. Trump is simply trying to have a discussion about what needs to happen and what he wants to do. He has said many times in many rallies that he doesn’t want to be like Barack Obama and start signing executive orders, and he will have to work with Congress to get some of the more complex things done. But his overall message has not changed. There is no path to citizenship. There is no path to — those here illegally will have to leave.”

Trump has vowed to kick more than 10 million undocumented immigrants out of the country using a “deportation force” and to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. But Trump has suggested he is willing to “soften” his hardline views.

Pierson said Trump is merely using different words to describe his immigration plan. “He’s just not using those words anymore, and he does want to work with people, which is why he said that in order to get this process done,” she remarked.

Watch the video below: 

 

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Goodbye to the Loudest Drunk in NPR’s Online Bar
2016-08-28 03:10:19 (3 hours ago) 
Once seen as a way to democratize the media, news site commenting sections have become playgrounds for nasty trolls.

Good riddance to NPR’s comment section, which is shutting down Tuesday after eight years. There has to be a better way for news organizations to engage with the public.

NPR is joining a growing list of media organizations that have said “finito” to comments including, ‘This American Life,’ Reuters, Recode, Mic, The Chicago Sun-Times, Popular Science, CNN, The Toronto Star and The Week.

When comments sections were initiated on news sites, they were hailed as a means to democratize the media, allowing a two-way conversation between readers and the journalists who serve them.

But readers are often talking to each other because most journalists don’t engage. And there’s a reason. The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza enthusiastically embraced his audience when he started his political blog, The Fix, in 2006.

“I would regularly go into the comments to interact (or try to interact) with readers. I incentivized and deputized regular commenters to keep order,” he wrote in a column that extolled NPR’s decision. “Then I gave up. Because none of the tactics or strategies we tried ever had any real impact on the quality of the dialogue happening on The Fix. No matter what the original post was about, a handful of the loudest—or most committed—voices in the room hijacked the comments thread to push their own agendas.”

As NPR’s ombudsman from 2007 to 2011, I know firsthand how futile and frustrating comments sections are. Even though NPR had a sign-up system, and hired an outside moderator to check comments before posting, a listener could still create an alias and write whatever he (and it was usually men) liked. The comments were often mean-spirited and did little to foster civil conversation.

‘The goal is dialogue,” I wrote in a 2011 essay on comment sections for the Nieman Reports, “but it’s pretty clear that the debate between dialogue and diatribe is still being waged. From the view I’ve had for the last three years as NPR’s ombudsman I’d say diatribe is winning—hands down.”  It’s still true today.

The trolls who rule the comment seas may actually have won because they often scare away people with their vicious attacks. An infinitesimal number of NPR’s 25 to 35 million unique monthly users bothered to join story-page conversations.

“Far less than one percent of that audience is commenting, and the number of regular comment participants is even smaller,” wrote Scott Montgomery, NPR’s managing editor for digital news announcing the shutdown. “Only 2,600 people have posted at least one comment in each of the last three months—0.003 percent of the 79.8 million NPR.org users who visited the site during that period.”

NPR’s current ombudsman, Elizabeth Jensen, noted that caretaking NPR’s commenting system becomes more expensive as the number of comments increases—sometimes costing twice what was budgeted. So basically, NPR decided it’s not worth the money to engage only a sliver of its audience.

Cost is certainly a critical factor for any media company but the more valid question remains: What is the value of commenting unless it’s tightly moderated and journalists engage?

There are some sites that handle comments well, noted Alex Howard, a senior analyst at the Sunlight Foundation. “Building a healthy online community is hard, but outlets like TechDirt and forums like MetaFilter show that it’s not only possible but sustainable,” said Howard. “At their best, good comments are improvements upon the journalism they’re focused upon, but they require convening a community and investing in editorial moderation and tools.”

Howard, among others, is not happy with NPR’s decision.

“As a life-long consumer of NPR news and programs, I’m saddened that one of the world’s great public media organizations is backing away from investing in creating and maintaining a healthy forum for the public to discuss the news on a platform owned by the public, not private technology companies,” he said.

NPR’s Montgomery points out that the network hosts 30 Facebook pages and more than 50 Twitter accounts as well as having a “vibrant presence on Snapchat, Instagram and Tumblr.” He said NPR is exploring other promising engagement tools.

Monica Guzman, a 2016 Nieman Fellow, who has written a guide for community engagement, believes news organizations that rely on social media platforms to talk to their audience are making a mistake.

“That’s problematic because you can’t control it, even though it’s nothing but beneficial in terms of growing an audience,” she told the Coral Project, an effort to respond to the problem. “The more we [hand over to] other platforms, the less control we have period.”

While NPR may post 20 stories a day on Facebook and get robust comments, the discussion stays on Facebook’s servers and NPR can’t mine it in any meaningful way. “The vast majority of newsrooms use third-party tools that have their own data storage,” said Andrew Losowsky, who heads the Coral Project. “Connecting to your own database is very difficult.”

The New York Times handles comments by strategically opening up only 10 percent of its stories for comments and then heavily moderates the debate.

With all of journalism’s innovations, there has to be a better way for news sites to bring the audience closer to the journalists—and there might be if the Coral Project is successful.

In November 2013, New York Times and Washington Post staffers met to discuss finding better ways to engage their communities. They teamed up with the Mozilla Foundation and began a unique collaboration in 2014 with the help of a $3.89 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Last year, Coral Project team members began interviewing 300 people in 150 newsrooms in 30 countries.

The project is now working on creating free open-source tools and developing practices for any size media outlet to forge better, more productive communities around their journalism.

“The online space is a place for engaging,” said Losowsky. “But if there is no engagement between the biggest fans and journalists themselves, then we are getting a distancing of the newsroom away from the readers. I feel like that’s the wrong thing.”

Right now, news outlets focus on getting rid of trolls rather than search for premium gold comments.

“We have the ability to find the worst people on our sites,” said Losowsky. “But there’s almost nothing that really helps find the best people. So what you have is the best commenters feeling like they are not getting attention from the newsroom. And they are not. You need to celebrate the best comments and find and encourage those people to do more.”

The project is developing four tools—one known as “Ask” should be out at the end of the month. “It’s like Google forms combined with Storify,” said Losowsky. “With Ask, you can quickly and easily build a form to ask specific questions of your audience. You can embed it on your website, connect contributions with those in your comments or on previous forms, and create a gallery of the best answers to display in a future story.”

Another tool, Trust, is being tested at the Washington Post. It’s designed to filter and find high quality commenters that an organization can trust. If there’s an expert who is a regular commenter, the news outlet would know about that person and could highlight their contribution.

“You can see how users are acting across your site, and then write simple formulas to find good and bad contributors across a range of different contexts,” according to the beta Coral Project website.

After over a decade of stagnation in comment sections, the Coral Project or, Hearken, which allows journalists to partner with the public, may be what’s needed to shift the debate from negative to positive, listen more to the audience and enhance the conversation for those who want to be involved.

 

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Noam Chomsky: How Obama Has Ushered in 'a New Era of International Terrorism'
2016-08-28 03:10:19 (3 hours ago) 
Chomsky and Emran Feroz talk Obama's political legacy in the Middle East, the deal with Iran and the refugee crisis.

The following is a recent interview with Noam Chomsky on the Middle East and the Obama Administration's policies towards Syria, Egypt and Iran, and the rise of right-wing extremism and nationalism in Europe.

Emran Feroz: Barack Obama's presidency is coming to an end. With reference to the political situation in the Middle East, what remains of his historical speech in Cairo and what of his Middle East policy in general?

Noam Chomsky: At the time I felt that the speech was pretty vacuous. I didn't expect anything from it, so I wasn't disappointed. One positive aspect of his policy is that there have been no major acts of aggression like the vicious invasion of Iraq, which in my opinion was the worst crime this century. And I suppose you could describe the negotiation of the agreement with Iran as positive too. But it could have been done much earlier. Still, better an agreement with Iran than no agreement.

Obama's major legacy in the Middle East is the US drone campaign, which is ushering in a new era of international terrorism. I predict that its impact will be wide reaching. Drone technology will not only expand, it will also become a useful tool for all kinds of different terrorist groups in the near future. In the case of the Arab Spring, Obama – and his allies – supported the established dictators as long as it was possible. Moreover, they also tried to shore up the old systems even after the revolutions had started.

EF: We are still witnessing these brutal dictatorships, in Egypt particularly, but also in Syria. Has the Arab Spring been a total failure?

NC: That's hard to say. Some progress has been made, but there is still much to be done. There have been significant changes which could have formed the basis for something. In Egypt, for example, the labour movement, which is an important and leading part of the Arab Spring, did make some substantial gains. I don't think the Sisi dictatorship is capable of dealing with Egypt's mammoth problems. I suspect this is just another stage of many as the country edges towards democratisation and freedom. Syria is a different story. The country appears bent on self-destruction. Anything that might be done to mitigate the situation simply leads to another disaster.

EF: To what extent is the US administration responsible for Syria's implosion?


 

NC: It's hard to say. The Assad regime is absolutely monstrous and responsible for a large majority of the atrocities. IS is another monstrosity. The al-Qaida affiliated al-Nusra Front is not much better than IS, while some of the other major groups are closely linked to it. The Kurdish groups have succeeded in defending their own territory and establishing a more or less decent system within. And then there are various other groups – local militias and parts of the original reform movement and some other more democratic elements.

To what extent they still exert any influence is debatable. The veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk claims they no longer exist. Others say they are a substantial force. It's a patchwork of many different groups. At the moment, there are some small signs of progress that might possibly lead to a ceasefire or some kind of negotiated agreement. We can be sure that this will be pretty ugly. But it's still better than suicide.

EF: You already mentioned the deal with Iran. Many people say it's one of the biggest successes of the Obama administration, while others say it will lead to the nuclearisation of the Arab Sunni states. Why do you think it is a success?

NC: I think the deal was a success, but I also think there is a problem with how the issue has been presented. It would have been a major step had those involved accepted Iranian, Arab and, in fact, global opinion and moved towards establishing a nuclear-weapons-free-zone in the region. Indeed that is what Obama promised. The deal is a small step in the right direction. We – and that includes the US intelligence agencies - don't know whether Iran was planning to develop nuclear weapons. I think we can be fairly confident that it was planning to develop nuclear capability. On the other hand, any nation with nuclear power or technology can be said to possess this capability. Considering, however, the restrictive conditions in which it was reached, the agreement was a step forward.

EF: On the subject of success, to what extent can we say there's been any in Israel and Palestine?

NC: We've seen zero success there. If we put aside words and look at actions, the Obama administration has been the most supportive administration of Israeli expansion so far. While the rest of the world condemns the illegal settlements, the US is still supporting the Israeli government in this point. There is still military, diplomatic, economic and even ideological support for continuing the settlement programme. Obama's most remarkable move, one of the few that actually received some public attention, was his veto of the UN security council resolution in February 2011 which literally endorsed official US policy. The resolution called for limiting settlement expansion while the Obama veto claimed it was a drawback to peace. In fact, we're currently seeing negotiations with Netanyahu over increasing extensive US aid, which basically feeds settlement expansion. Gaza has just been subjected to brutal and savage attacks by Israel with US support.

EF: We're seeing a rise in nationalism and right-wing extremism in Europe at the moment. First and foremost the hatred is being directed at the refugees fleeing the chaos in the Middle East. With the rise of Donald Trump, a similar picture seems to be developing in the United States. Do you think that the fear-mongers are winning?

NC: It's very interesting to look at the so-called refugee crisis. In Austria, for example, a neo-Nazi is on the verge of political victory. Austria has taken in a very small number of refugees. One of the most forthcoming countries in Europe, I suppose, is Sweden, which has taken in some 160,000 refugees. Sweden is a rich country with a population of 10 million, so now refugees make up about 1.5 per cent of the population. But this is still a very small number compared to a poor country like Lebanon, which has no role in generating refugees. But refugees currently make up 40 percent of its population; 25 percent of those are Syrians. Jordan has also taken in a huge number of refugees, while most European countries have apparently absorbed very few.

But where are the refugees coming from? Most of them come from the Middle East, but some are also coming from Africa. Europe has a long history in Africa. For centuries, Africa suffered devastation and destruction, which is still one of the reasons why people are fleeing from Africa to Europe. In the Middle East, there are many causes for the crisis, but one major and overwhelming cause is the American and British invasion of Iraq, which virtually destroyed the country. Iraqis are still fleeing, at the moment mostly from a sectarian conflict that barely existed before the invasion. Look more closely and it is clear that there are countries that have generated refugees throughout their history – and they include the US, Britain and a number of European countries.

Interview conducted by Emran Feroz

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The Scandal of EpiPens Runs Deeper Than Most of Us Realize
2016-08-28 03:10:19 (3 hours ago) 
There's a method to the madness of Big Pharma's prioritizing profit over human life.

It has been two years since Gilead Sciences Inc. rolled out its $1,000-a-pill hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, priced at $84,000 for a course of treatment and met with disbelief from patients, insurers and health care professionals. After an 18-month investigation the Senate Finance Committee concluded prices did not reflect Gilead’s development costs and that the drug maker cared about "revenue" not "affordability and accessibility.” The committee also found that Sovaldi and a related pill, Harvoni, cost taxpayers $5 billion in 2014.

It’s been one year since Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. hiked the price of a once-daily form of Wellbutrin, a 30-year-old antidepressant, to $1,400 a month despite the existence of a $30 generic and refused to lower prices on the millions hospitals pay for its life-saving heart medicines.

And it has been only a few months since a smirking Martin Shkreli, former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO, gave a figurative finger to Congress by refusing questions about why his company raised the price of the life-saving drug Daraprim, crucial for AIDS patients, from $13.50 a tablet to $750 per tablet.

Now, in the latest extortion pricing from Big Pharma, the Pharma company Mylan has jacked the price of its EpiPen, an emergency allergy treatment that saves lives, to $600 up from the $100 it only recently cost. Even as patients, health providers and former Mylan spokesperson Sarah Jessica Parker expressed outrage, the Pharma company announced it would supply financial assistance for poorer people.

“Financial assistance” for low-income patients is a PR ruse that Pharma uses to dodge the accusation that it is killing people who cannot afford its drugs. It is a bald-faced example of “cost shifting” in which taxpayers and people with private health insurance involuntarily cover Mylan’s “generosity”—and the drug giant still gets its obscene, extortion pricing. When drug prices begin to cost four digits a month—think Abilify or Humira—Pharma always rolls out its we-have-a-heart price assistance and coupon ruse.

Who Is Mylan?

Mylan has grown from a generic drug company that saved people money from brand-name drugs to an aggressive specialty drug company and serial company acquirer, acquiring eight companies including Merck KGaA over the years. Employing 30,000 and selling drugs in more than 150 countries, Mylan is a drug giant. But like many Pharma companies it does not think it should have to pay U.S. taxes just because it lives on them, hugely financed by Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, the VA and other government health plans. In 2015, Mylan enacted a “tax inversion” by merging with a company in the Netherlands and establishing its corporate headquarters abroad.

There is an irony to Mylan’s growth and desire to dodge U.S. taxes. Its CEO, Heather Bresch, is the daughter of Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) who is among many federal lawmakers against the overseas tax dodges. Ethical questions have swirled about Bresch herself as well as the company’s persistence in manufacturing drugs for lethal injections when other Pharma companies have stopped.

And there are other questions. Mylan spent $4 million lobbying Congress, resulting in the 2013 School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, that sold EpiPens through school subsidies.

Why Is Pharma Pricing Drugs at Extortion Prices?

It is no secret that Pharma began charging four and even five digits a month for its drugs at the exact moment its pricy billion-dollar blockbuster drugs like Lipitor went off patent and it was in danger of no longer being a Wall Street darling. At the center of the extreme-priced drugs are “biologics”—liquids such as Humira and Enbrel that are not just costly but are not as easily duplicated by generic drugs as pills, allowing more profits. Just as noteworthy are the new Hep C drugs mentioned above; a new injectable biologic that lowers cholesterol called Praluent that Pharma hopes will replace statin profits and costs $14,600 a year; and a new anti-osteoporosis drug, Radius, to cash in on the lucrative bone market. Radius will compete with the bone drug Forteo, say industry watchers, a drug that costs $3,100 for a four-week supply and whose price manufacturer Lilly has raised twice per year by 9 to 15 percent in recent years.

Pharma PR Campaign Targets Lawmakers

With Congress looking at the price of Hep C drugs like Sovaldi and Harvoni, calling Martin Shkreli to testify, looking at Pharma companies trying to flee taxes by incorporating abroad and no doubt soon to look at EpiPen prices, Pharma has launched a charm offensive to lawmakers. Don’t cut us off, says the “Hopes to Cures” campaign launched by Pharma’s lobbying group PhRMA.

Running mostly in Washington D.C., to reach lawmakers, the campaign is designed to defend Pharma’s new extreme prices through showing patients whose lives were saved or lengthened by Pharma medicines. Launched in 2014, industry group PhRMA plans to add a "massive" amount of money to the tearjerker campaign as it anticipates political battles over drug prices. Already this year PhRMA has spent $11.7 million lobbying lawmakers.

Parading sick patients in front of the FDA and state officials to see the "good” the high drug prices are doing is a time-tested tactic of Pharma. Co-opted patients (sometimes called astroturf because they are not really grassroots) “appear before public and consumer panels, contact lawmakers, and provide media outlets a human face to attach to a cause,” writes Melissa Healy of the Los Angeles Times, “when insurers balk at reimbursing patients for new prescription medications.”

The Hopes to Cures campaign continues the manipulative tradition. Like “Ask Your Doctor” ads, the soft focus videos in the campaign are full of rainbows, puppies and Mr. and Mrs. Front Porch whose lives are improved by Big Pharma. Except that it is hooey.

By focusing on drugs that treat thyroid cancer or HIV/AIDS, the vignettes of patients deliberately imply Pharma’s high-priced drugs are all life saving and that price regulation would threaten the patients’ lives by jeopardizing “research.” Yet according to sources including the national watchdog group Public Citizen, Pharma’s actual research is one-fifth of what it claims, and taxpayers kick in a big portion of it.

Nowhere in the PhRMA charm offensive to lawmakers are actual costs mentioned like the 12 cancer drugs that cost above $100,000 a year, though many do not clearly even extend life. Instead the videos talk about rare diseases and rare cancers that presumably would not be cured if lawmakers curtail Big Pharma profits. Also, nowhere in the campaign does Pharma admit that it sells a lot more thyroid, cholesterol, ADHD and acid reflux drugs than life-saving cancer drugs. PhRMA’s Hope to Cures campaign even claims high-priced meds help the economy by creating jobs, like for “sheet metal workers.” Riiiiight.

But of course the EpiPen as well as Daraprim, the drug desperately needed by AIDS patients whose price Martin Shkreli’s Turing Pharmaceuticals gouged, do save lives. That is why Pharma’s extortion pricing—pricing not on what a drug costs but what people’s lives are “worth”—is evil.

 Related StoriesEpiPen Maker’s Stock Value Plunges Nearly $3 Billion as Investors PanicWhy Mylan's Alleged Solution to Its EpiPen Price-Gouging Scandal Is a ScamMylan Pushed for Law to Make EpiPens Mandatory in U.S. Schools—Then Fled Overseas to Avoid Taxes
 
Promises houses can be more expensive - and more affordable - does not compute
2016-08-28 03:01:51 (3 hours ago) 
OPINION: It may be open to debate whether John Key and his Cabinet are facing a "crisis" over housing.
 
Sex and Dating: Now the Thinking Gal’s Subject
2016-08-28 02:41:15 (4 hours ago) 
Who says love and sex aren’t serious subjects for serious writers? A phalanx of young, female authors are challenging that assumption.
 
Trump warns of regulations, taxes harming family farmers
2016-08-28 02:21:53 (4 hours ago) 

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Donald Trump said rival Hillary Clinton will push regulations and high taxes that will hurt family farmers as he campaigned in Iowa, an agricultural state that remains a presidential election battleground. Trump warned a crowd in Iowa on Saturday that Clinton “wants to shut down family farms” and implement anti-agriculture […]
 
Warriors lose to Wests Tigers to end finals hopes
2016-08-28 02:21:40 (4 hours ago) 
Warriors fans can mark 2016 as yet another failed season after the 24-36 loss to Wests Tigers at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday ended hopes of making the finals.
 
Europe migrant crisis: Germany expects 'up to 300,000' this year
2016-08-28 02:10:19 (4 hours ago) 
Germany expects up to 300,000 migrants to arrive in the country, according to the head of Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.
 
Friends, Colleagues to Remember Slain Mississippi Nuns
2016-08-28 01:50:02 (5 hours ago) 
Friends and colleagues who knew two nuns killed in their Mississippi home are gathering to remember them
 
Friends, colleagues to remember slain Mississippi nuns
2016-08-28 01:41:50 (5 hours ago) 

DURANT, Miss. (AP) — Friends and colleagues who knew two nuns killed in their Mississippi home are gathering Sunday to remember them, as authorities continue to investigate the harrowing crime that shocked people in the small communities where the women committed their lives to helping the poor. Rodney Earl Sanders, 46, of Kosciusko, Mississippi, has […]
 
A decent run in the All Blacks could beckon for Anton Lienert-Brown
2016-08-28 01:41:37 (5 hours ago) 
It would be hard to leave Anton Lienert-Brown out after that.
 
Suspect in Killing of Two Miss. Nuns Confessed: Sheriff
2016-08-28 01:41:10 (5 hours ago) 
 
New Lancer boots La Salle past Sycamore in OT
2016-08-28 01:30:39 (5 hours ago) 

La Salle kicker Paul Young spent nearly the entire fourth quarter of Saturday night's resumption of the La Salle-Sycamore high school football season opener kicking into the practice netting.

        
 
Italy mourns earthquake victims, death toll rises to 291
2016-08-28 01:22:08 (5 hours ago) 
The death toll in the 6.0-magnitude earthquake that hit central Italy Wednesday evening has risen to 291, said the Civil Protection agency on Saturday evening.
 
Bolivian president says government defeats "coup" by miners
2016-08-28 01:22:08 (5 hours ago) 
Bolivian President Evo Morales said on Saturday his government had defeated a "coup d'etat" by protesting miners.
 
Why Colin Kaepernick Didn’t Stand for the National Anthem
2016-08-28 01:21:32 (5 hours ago) 
The 49ers quarterback said he could not show pride in the flag of “a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
 
Mom: "Drug policy is the reason people are dying"
2016-08-28 01:10:38 (5 hours ago) 
In March, Louise Vincent's 19-year-old daughter died of a heroin overdose. But it's not the drug she blames for her daughter's death -- it's drug policy.
 
‘No vacancies’ for blacks: Trump’s start in real estate included accusations of bias
2016-08-28 01:01:55 (5 hours ago) 

NEW YORK — She seemed like the model tenant. A 33-year-old nurse who was living at the YWCA in Harlem, she had come to rent a one-bedroom at the still-unfinished Wilshire Apartments in the Jamaica Estates neighborhood of Queens. She filled out what the rental agent remembers as a “beautiful application.” She did not even […]
 
Plenty of work ahead for Silver Ferns after new era starts with big win over England
2016-08-28 01:01:43 (5 hours ago) 
As her first game in charge of the Silver Ferns began on Saturday night in Auckland, new coach Janine Southby was making sure to keep her focus.
 
Thousands enjoy day one of FYF Fest 2016 despite line hiccups
2016-08-28 01:01:34 (5 hours ago) 
 
Donald Trump Trump sees the invisible people
2016-08-28 06:21:59 (6 minutes ago) 

His name doesn’t even appear in the book. But make no mistake. “Hillbilly Elegy,” the new best-seller by J.D. Vance, is, in a very real sense, about Donald Trump. More to the point, it’s about the people who have made his unlikely run for the presidency possible. It is also, not coincidentally, a book about […]
 
Black Caps strike twice but South Africa maintain control of series decider
2016-08-28 06:21:46 (6 minutes ago) 
New Zealand dashed the dreams of another potential South African hundred maker at Centurion yet the Proteas are still in control of the second and final test early on day two at SuperSport Park.
 
Op-Ed Columnist: The Alt-Right Is All Wrong
2016-08-28 06:21:26 (6 minutes ago) 
The alt-right finds a host body in Donald Trump and Hillary finds easy targets in the Donald and the alt-right.
 
Unscrupulous attorneys prey upon immigrants held in federal detention, advocates say
2016-08-28 06:21:11 (6 minutes ago) 

It was only too easy for legal assistant Hector Alfonso Sanchez to pose as an immigration lawyer and solicit clients locked up in federal detention.

Sanchez traveled from his office in San Antonio to detention centers across the country to interview immigrants and accept payment, according to the...

 
College football Down Under attracts 61,000 fans at Sydney
2016-08-28 06:20:16 (7 minutes ago) 
SYDNEY (AP) -- The beer ran out in some sections of the Olympic stadium, but most of the 61,247 spectators at Saturday's U.S. college football opener in Sydney between California and Hawaii appeared to be enjoying their American "gridiron" experience....
 
College football Down Under attracts 61,000 fans at Sydney
2016-08-28 06:10:19 (17 minutes ago) 
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Renee Zellweger told not to gain weight for Bridget Jones's Baby
2016-08-28 06:01:48 (26 minutes ago) 
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Turkish bombing kills at least 20 in northern Syria
2016-08-28 05:51:38 (36 minutes ago) 

BEIRUT (AP) — A Syria monitoring group and a spokesman for a Kurdish-led force say Turkish airstrikes and shelling have killed as many as 20 civilians in northern Syria. Turkey sent tanks across the border to help Syrian rebels drive the Islamic State group out of the border town of Jarablus last week in an […]
 
Turkish bombing kills at least 20 in northern Syria
2016-08-28 05:41:52 (46 minutes ago) 

BEIRUT (AP) — A Syria monitoring group and a spokesman for a Kurdish-led force say Turkish airstrikes and shelling have killed as many as 20 civilians in northern Syria. Turkey sent tanks across the border to help Syrian rebels drive the Islamic State group out of the border town of Jarablus last week in an […]
 
First Person: Black Health Matters
2016-08-28 05:41:19 (46 minutes ago) 
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Pakistan says 4 militants behind 2009 cricket attack killed
2016-08-28 05:31:50 (56 minutes ago) 

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani officials say four Islamic extremists allegedly involved in a 2009 attack on the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team have been killed in a shootout with police. The officials did not identify the militants or their armed group. The attack on the cricket team killed six police and two bystanders, and […]
 
Welcome breakthrough for Black Caps as Duminy departs
2016-08-28 05:21:44 (1 hours ago) 
New Zealand has made an much-needed breakthrough in the opening session of day two of the second and final cricket test with South Africa at Centurion.
 
Who, exactly, is rigging Ohio congressional districts? Thomas Suddes
2016-08-28 05:21:26 (1 hours ago) 
Ohio's current congressional districts were ordered like take-out by then-U.S. House Speaker John A. Boehner, a suburban Cincinnati Republican, writes Thomas Suddes.
 
South Syndey heap more misery on woeful Newcastle Knights
2016-08-28 05:01:56 (1 hours ago) 
South Sydney have extended Newcastle's miserable club record to 17 straight losses, thrashing the Knights 34-12 at Hunter Stadium in Newcastle on Sunday.
 
Hurricane LESTER Wind Speed Probabilities Number 15
2016-08-28 05:01:24 (1 hours ago) 
Issued at 0900 UTC SUN AUG 28 2016 000 FOPZ13 KNHC 280841 PWSEP3 HURRICANE LESTER WIND SPEED PROBABILITIES NUMBER 15 NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL EP132016 0900 UTC SUN AUG 28 2016 AT 0900Z THE CENTER OF HURRICANE LESTER WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 17.9 NORTH...LONGITUDE 122.2 WEST WITH MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS NEAR 85 KTS...100 MPH...155 KM/H. Z INDICATES COORDINATED UNIVERSAL TIME (GREENWICH) PACIFIC DAYLIGHT TIME (PDT)...SUBTRACT 7 HOURS FROM Z TIME HAWAIIAN STANDARD TIME (HST)...SUBTRACT 10 HOURS FROM Z TIME WIND SPEED PROBABILITY TABLE FOR SPECIFIC LOCATIONS CHANCES OF SUSTAINED (1-MINUTE AVERAGE) WIND SPEEDS OF AT LEAST ...34 KT (39 MPH... 63 KM/H)... ...50 KT (58 MPH... 93 KM/H)... ...64 KT (74 MPH...119 KM/H)... FOR LOCATIONS AND TIME PERIODS DURING THE NEXT 5 DAYS PROBABILITIES FOR LOCATIONS ARE GIVEN AS OP(CP) WHERE OP IS THE PROBABILITY OF THE EVENT BEGINNING DURING AN INDIVIDUAL TIME PERIOD (ONSET PROBABILITY) (CP) IS THE PROBABILITY OF THE EVENT OCCURRING BETWEEN 06Z SUN AND THE FORECAST HOUR (CUMULATIVE PROBABILITY) PROBABILITIES ARE GIVEN IN PERCENT X INDICATES PROBABILITIES LESS THAN 1 PERCENT PROBABILITIES FOR 34 KT AND 50 KT ARE SHOWN AT A GIVEN LOCATION WHEN THE 5-DAY CUMULATIVE PROBABILITY IS AT LEAST 3 PERCENT. PROBABILITIES FOR 64 KT ARE SHOWN WHEN THE 5-DAY CUMULATIVE PROBABILITY IS AT LEAST 1 PERCENT. - - - - WIND SPEED PROBABILITIES FOR SELECTED LOCATIONS - - - - FROM FROM FROM FROM FROM FROM FROM TIME 06Z SUN 18Z SUN 06Z MON 18Z MON 06Z TUE 06Z WED 06Z THU PERIODS TO TO TO TO TO TO TO 18Z SUN 06Z MON 18Z MON 06Z TUE 06Z WED 06Z THU 06Z FRI FORECAST HOUR (12) (24) (36) (48) (72) (96) (120) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - LOCATION KT 15N 125W 34 1 2( 3) 1( 4) X( 4) X( 4) X( 4) X( 4) 20N 125W 34 3 12(15) 1(16) X(16) X(16) X(16) X(16) 15N 130W 34 X 2( 2) 4( 6) 2( 8) 2(10) X(10) X(10) 20N 130W 34 X 2( 2) 35(37) 9(46) 1(47) X(47) X(47) 20N 130W 50 X X( X) 6( 6) 3( 9) X( 9) X( 9) X( 9) 20N 130W 64 X X( X) 1( 1) 2( 3) X( 3) X( 3) X( 3) 15N 135W 34 X X( X) X( X) 3( 3) 10(13) 1(14) X(14) 20N 135W 34 X X( X) 1( 1) 10(11) 43(54) 1(55) X(55) 20N 135W 50 X X( X) X( X) 1( 1) 15(16) X(16) X(16) 20N 135W 64 X X( X) X( X) X( X) 6( 6) X( 6) X( 6) 15N 140W 34 X X( X) X( X) X( X) 4( 4) 11(15) 1(16) 15N 140W 50 X X( X) X( X) X( X) X( X) 3( 3) 1( 4) 20N 140W 34 X X( X) X( X) X( X) 17(17) 28(45) 2(47) 20N 140W 50 X X( X) X( X) X( X) 2( 2) 14(16) 1(17) 20N 140W 64 X X( X) X( X) X( X) 1( 1) 5( 6) X( 6) 15N 145W 34 X X( X) X( X) X( X) X( X) 6( 6) 7(13) 20N 145W 34 X X( X) X( X) X( X) X( X) 15(15) 24(39) 20N 145W 50 X X( X) X( X) X( X) X( X) 3( 3) 10(13) 20N 145W 64 X X( X) X( X) X( X) X( X) 1( 1) 2( 3) 25N 145W 34 X X( X) X( X) X( X) X( X) 1( 1) 2( 3) 15N 150W 34 X X( X) X( X) X( X) X( X) X( X) 4( 4) 20N 150W 34 X X( X) X( X) X( X) X( X) 1( 1) 12(13) 20N 151W 34 X X( X) X( X) X( X) X( X) X( X) 9( 9) BUOY 51004 34 X X( X) X( X) X( X) X( X) X( X) 3( 3) 20N 154W 34 X X( X) X( X) X( X) X( X) X( X) 3( 3) $$ FORECASTER KIMBERLAIN
 
Hurricane GASTON Graphics
2016-08-28 05:01:23 (1 hours ago) 

5-Day Uncertainty Track last updated Sun, 28 Aug 2016 08:54:21 GMT


Wind Speed Probabilities last updated Sun, 28 Aug 2016 08:53:34 GMT
 
One rescued, two missing after plane crashes in Lake Pontchartrain
2016-08-28 04:50:40 (2 hours ago) 
Two people are missing after a small plane crashed in Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans, authorities said.
 
Prime Minister John Key takes on cameo role in Taranaki video project
2016-08-28 04:42:12 (2 hours ago) 
Prime Minister John Key has played a cameo part as a pilot in a Taranaki dance video set to the tune of Poi E.
 
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden laments his side 'throwing away' match as they bow of finals contention
2016-08-28 04:21:25 (2 hours ago) 
A gutted Warriors coach Andrew McFadden said his team threw away their game against the Tigers on Sunday, while accusing Aaron Woods of milking a crucial penalty.
 
Airline pilots arrested on alcohol charge at Glasgow Airport
2016-08-28 04:10:22 (2 hours ago) 
Two airline pilots are arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol as they prepared to fly from Glasgow Airport to New York.
 
Jamie Whincup wins to reach Supercars ton as Shane van Gisbergen finishes fifth
2016-08-28 04:01:32 (2 hours ago) 
Holden's Jamie Whincup has become the second driver in Supercars history to claim 100 career race wins.
 
Liquid Gold: Why Cow Urine Is as Valuable as Milk in India
2016-08-28 04:01:13 (2 hours ago) 
 
Syria barrel bomb attack: At least 16 killed at wake in Aleppo
2016-08-28 03:50:46 (3 hours ago) 
At least 16 people died when two barrel bombs struck as mourners attended a wake for children killed in a separate barrel bombing in Aleppo, a Syrian monitoring group said.
 
Travelers from Brazil told to take precaution
2016-08-28 03:50:25 (3 hours ago) 
Author: ARAB NEWSSun, 2016-08-28ID: 1472338863938145300

JEDDAH: The Health Ministry called on citizens and residents returning from Brazil and other Zika virus-affected countries to take steps to prevent importing the virus into the Kingdom.
“Those who are coming from Brazil and other affected countries, which are listed on the ministry’s official website, are asked to see a doctor and disclose the date of travel in case the symptoms appeared, such as high temperature, rash, joint and muscle pain or eye redness within two weeks of returning from these countries.” the ministry said in a statement.

Main category: Saudi Arabia
 
China refuses to link terrorism with religion
2016-08-28 03:50:25 (3 hours ago) 
Author: ARAB NEWSSun, 2016-08-28ID: 1472338844108139700

JEDDAH: As Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman embarks on a historic visit to China, Beijing's Ambassador to Riyadh Li Huaxin has stressed that terrorism is a common threat to humanity.

He said that terrorism could be battled by promoting economic and social development, appropriately addressing regional conflicts and promoting mutual respect among civilizations, religions and nations.
“China and the Kingdom are both victims of terrorism. The Chinese government rejects terrorism in all its forms, and refuses to link it with a certain religion or sect,” Li said.

Main category: Saudi Arabia
 
EU Copyright Reform Proposes Search Engines Pay For Snippets
2016-08-28 03:41:26 (3 hours ago) 
An anonymous Slashdot reader reports that the European Commission "is planning reforms that would allow media outlets to request payment from search engines such as Google, for publishing snippets of their content in search results." The Stack reports: The working paper recommends the introduction of an EU law that covers the rights to digital reproduction of news publications. This would essentially make news publishers a new category of rights holders under copyright law, thereby ensuring that "the creative and economic contribution of news publishers is recognized and incentivized in EU law, as it is today the case for other creative sectors."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

 
Philippines: IS-linked Maute group frees militants in prison raid
2016-08-28 03:30:20 (3 hours ago) 
Muslim extremists supporting the so-called Islamic State (IS) free at least eight fellow militants and 15 other inmates in violent prison raid.
 
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2016-08-28 03:21:33 (3 hours ago) 
The scorecard from the second day of the second test between the Black Caps and Proteas, at Centurion in South Africa.
 
Hurricane Gaston Reforms in Atlantic Ocean
2016-08-28 03:21:13 (3 hours ago) 
 
How Dostoevsky Predicted Trump's America
2016-08-28 03:10:19 (3 hours ago) 
"Demons" warns readers about the destructive force of demagoguery and unchecked rhetoric.

As a professor of Russian literature, I’ve come to realize that it’s never a good sign when real life resembles a Fyodor Dostoevsky novel.

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, with its riotous rhetoric and steady stream of scandals, calls to mind Dostoevsky’s most political novel, “Demons,” written in 1872. In it, the writer wanted to warn readers about the destructive force of demagoguery and unchecked rhetoric, and his cautionary messages – largely influenced by 19th-century Russian political chaos – resonate in our present political climate.

To show his readers just how bad things could get if they didn’t pay attention, Dostoevsky linked his political nightmare to unhinged impulses and the breakdown of civility.

A passion for destruction

Dostoevsky was as addicted to newspapers as some of us are to social media, and he often plucked crises and violence right from the headlines, refashioning them for his fiction.

Russia during the 1860s and 1870s – the heyday of the author’s career – was experiencing massive socioeconomic instability. Tsar Alexander II’s Emancipation of the Serfs freed Russian peasants from a form of class bondage, while the subsequent Great Reforms aimed to restructure the executive and judidical branches, as well as the military, tax code and education system. The reforms were supposed to modernize the country by dragging it out of the caste-like system of estates and legal privilege. But it didn’t do much to improve the economic lot of the peasant.

It was a reversal of America’s present political landscape. While today there’s simmering discontent from the right, in 19th-century Russia it was leftists who were enraged. They were angered by the reforms for not going far enough and had lost hope in the government’s ability to produce meaningful change.

Sergei Nechaev influenced Dostoevsky’s Pyotr Verkhovensky. Wikimedia Commons

One of the only unifying ideas among the more radical left-wing political factions of the period was the belief that the tsarist regime must be eliminated. Important public figures, like Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, advocated for destruction of the status quo as an end greater than all ideologies. As Bakunin famously exhorted: “The passion for destruction is a creative passion, too.”

Bakunin’s conviction that a new world could rise only from the ashes of tsarism was actually put into practice by his one-time disciple, Sergei Nechaev, who was the inspiration for Dostoevsky’s protagonist in “Demons,” Pyotr Verkhovensky.

A slippery slope from incivility to violence

In 1869, Nechaev orchestrated the murder of a young student, an event that so shocked and angered Dostoevsky that it became the basis for “Demons.”

The novel begins in a boring provincial backwater inhabited by middle-aged people and ineffectual young liberals, all engrossed in their romantic lives. Pyotr Verkhovensky arrives and persuades many of these same characters to join his underground revolutionary society. Passions are stirred and the local order destabilized as the town enters a downward spiral that concludes with arson and several murders.

What’s most relevant to our time in “Demons” is not its ideologues but the anti-intellectual and impulse-driven nature of Pyotr’s rebellion. In Pyotr, Dostoevsky created a demagogue and pure nihilist, a political figure who appeals to people’s baser desires. Under his influence, the townspeople lose all impulse control and grow reckless, rebelling against all conventions of decency for a good laugh. At one point they desecrate a sacred icon; at another, they gleefully gather around the body of someone who has committed suicide and eat the food he’s left behind.

If their pranks, insults and disorder seem harmless, the decline in the level of public discourse act as a precursor to the violent and destructive acts at the novel’s conclusion. A skilled psychological writer, Dostoevsky never saw violence as divorced from normal human behavior. What’s most haunting about his works is just how close otherwise ordinary people are from doing extraordinarily awful things.

In “Demons,” narrative tensions escalate in a deliberately gradual way. What begins as minor impoliteness becomes scandal, arson, murder and suicide. Dostoevsky is essentially saying that criminal acts are rooted in social transgression; uncivil behavior facilitates scapegoating, dehumanization and, eventually, violence.

‘Make America Great Again!’

Donald Trump’s unconventional campaign for president powerfully evokes Dostoevsky’s novel. Aside from his pro-gun and anti-immigration positions, Trump doesn’t offer many concrete political plans. As we evaluate what motivated 14 million Americans to vote for him in the primaries, we might consider new research showing that his candidacy has a primarily emotion-based – rather than ideological or economical – appeal. There are notable anti-establishment sentiments among his supporters; many are disaffected, middle-aged white people who believe that American institutions aren’t working on their behalf.

And while his notorious campaign motto “Make America Great Again” is framed in a positive way, it actually advances a version of Bakunin’s creative destruction. It stands for purging the establishment, for recreating a nostalgia-tinged version of some lost, past America. We’ve already seen this destructive drive in its more Nechaevist, low-brow form at Trump rallies, where several people have been attacked.

There’s another aspect of Trump’s popularity that ties him to Dostoevsky’s “Demons.” Trump, in the way he carries himself, embodies the complete disavowal of impulse control we see in the novel. Unlike most political candidates, he speaks off the cuff, simultaneously reflecting and stoking the anger and pessimism of his supporters.

For instance, he said he wanted to “hit” some of the speakers who criticized him at the Democratic National Convention; in his words, there’s anger, a need to provoke and deep-seated irreverence. His supporters feel empowered by this. Without weighing his policies, they’re viscerally drawn to the spectacle of his candidacy, like the townspeople following Pyotr Verkhovensky in “Demons” who delight in the gossip and scandals he creates.

To complete the parallel, we might turn to the novel’s ending, which could have a sobering effect. Basic incivility gives way to an anarchic vision of creative destruction; many die or lose their minds due to Pyotr’s machinations. At one point, seemingly without thinking, crowds crush a female character to death because they falsely believe she’s responsible for the violence in town.

When audiences at Trump rallies verbalize violence by screaming “Lock her up” and “Kill her,” or when Donald Trump – either wittingly or unwittingly – advocates Second Amendment violence, I wonder whether they aren’t coming dangerously close to the primal violence of “Demons.”

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Baby Dolls Aren’t Birth Control: School-Issued Fake Babies Aren’t Stopping Teen Pregnancy
2016-08-28 03:10:19 (3 hours ago) 
A new study suggests that "baby simulator" programs are actually encouraging girls to have babies.

From this week’s department of No Kidding, Everybody, a new Australian study published Thursday found giving teenage girls dolls to deter them from getting pregnant doesn’t work. In fact, girls from schools that use “baby simulator” programs are actually 36 percent more likely to become pregnant by the time they’re 20 than those in schools that don’t. Apparently, dolls are not birth control. Huh.

The study’s results, published in The Lancet, involved 2,800 girls at 57 western Australian schools from the ages 13 to 15, following them until they turned 20. The RealCare baby dolls are supposed to be a boot camp — the dolls cry, fuss and require feeding and diaper changing. They’re part of an educational curriculum designed to show girls “the physical, emotional, social, and financial consequences of becoming pregnant and dealing with parenthood.” The Reality Works company that produces them promises that its product “provides unforgettable lessons” for use in teen pregnancy prevention, as well as child care. They’re also not cheap, costing around 1,200 Australian dollars each.

In a statement this week to ABC News, the company argued that the study “was not a representation of our curriculum and simulator learning modality but the researchers ‘adaptation’ and is consequently not reflective of our product nor its efficacy.” Reality Works says the study tracked girls who’d put in “a mere 2.5 hours” of hands-on time. ABC also notes that the simulators are used in 89 countries, including the U.S.

Of course, small scale studies are imperfect vessels. But if, as the study’s lead author Sally Brinkman says, one result of these experiments is that “A lot of the teenagers become attached to their fake babies,” one can understand how that might not be the intended result. The findings also cite other studies that suggest that “few girls believed caring for their own infant would be the same as caring for a simulated infant.” Is this like how video games don’t actually prepare one for driving? Likewise, is it any shock that here in the U.S., the states with abstinence-only sex education have the highest teen pregnancy rates? Things that tend not to be effective: initiatives that try to dissuade teens from having sex or flat out pretend that they don’t.

So, what does help? Surprisingly, two years ago, the National Bureau of Economic Research found a correlation between areas of high viewership of MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” and declining adolescent birth rates. Researchers concluded that the show likely “had an influence on teens’ thinking regarding birth control and abortion.” So maybe actual human experience trumps playing with dolls.

But you know what really seems to do the job in preventing pregnancy? Birth control. Last year, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released its findings that after offering free, long-term birth control options across the state, the teen birthrate dipped by 40 percent, and the abortion rate dropped by 42 percent over a four year period. And the biggest changes were in the poorest communities.

As Peggy Orenstein masterfully explained in her book “Girls & Sex,” the climate around sex education for females is centered on telling them what not to do: Don’t be a victim. Don’t get pregnant. Don’t. As she told Salon earlier this year, “And then we tell them to go into their sexual encounters with a sense of equality. How is that supposed to happen?” When education gets real about female sexuality, including healthy relationships and birth control, girls have better odds of controlling their own reproductive futures. No, a doll won’t directly lead to unplanned pregnancy, but unrealistic initiatives won’t curtail it either. And in an editorial accompanying the Lancet study, Dr Julie Quinlivan of the University of Notre Dame put it simply when she said, “We cannot afford the quick fix, especially when it doesn’t work.” 

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5 Dumbest Right-Wing Moments This Week: Eric Trump’s Ridiculous Assertion
2016-08-28 03:10:19 (3 hours ago) 
There’s been an abnormally large dose of stupid coming out of the Trumposphere.

The Trumpian universe vacillates between dumb and evil, sometimes in the same sentence. Following their fearless leader, Trumpians talk (or tweet) first, and think later, or perhaps not at all.

When that fails, they simply deny saying what they said, or that words have any meaning. Or they just keep saying things that are demonstrably untrue because they feel true.

Examples abound from the week that was, starting with the family.

1. Trump’s genius son reveals Trump campaign creation myth.

Donald Trump’s gifted son Eric has revealed the original lie of his father’s sh*tshow of a campaign. No, it is not President Obama’s Kenyan birth, or secret status as a Muslim “Manchurian candidate.” It is something a bit more mundane, but no less dastardly. And it’s a Christmas story. Who doesn’t love a Christmas story?

Turns out Trump entered our political sphere because the Obama/Grinches stole Chistmas. "He sees the tree on the White House lawn has been renamed 'Holiday tree' instead of 'Christmas tree,'" the young Trump said in an interview this week. "I could go on and on for hours. Those are the very things that made my father run, and those are the very things he cares about." 

Except for one teeny tiny leetle thing. It’s not true. Has no basis in reality. Didn’t happen. The White House Christmas Tree is still called the "White House Christmas Tree."  It’s not even the "White House Xmas Tree." There's been no concession to secularism, to separation of church and state. It’s a made-up story, a myth, a manufactured crisis, and all part of the nonexistent war on Christmas that isn’t being waged anywhere.

To be fair, Trump Jr. pointed out other outrages galvanizing his father’s run.

“He opens the paper and some new school district has just eliminated the ability for its students to say the Pledge of Allegiance, or some fire department in some town is ordered by the mayor to no longer fly the American flag on the back of a fire truck," Eric Trump told The Stream's James Robinson on Friday. 

There are just a few things wrong with this statement. First of all, Donald Trump doesn’t open a paper. He opens his Twitter feed, Fox News or maybe Breitbart. Sometimes he glances at the National Enquirer, especially if “people are saying” there’s a good conspiracy theory about Ted Cruz’s father, or Hillary Clinton’s health on the cover. Second, a newspaper that covers things like that would go out of business fast due to snoozing readers.

Looks like the whole family needs to broaden their media diet, currently consisting exclusively of Faux News.

2. Maine’s governor seems genuinely perplexed about what racism is.

Trump-loving Maine gov Paul LePage can never convince anyone that he is not racist. The track record is just there, like Trump’s. It spans decades.

But it’s kind of funny to watch. LePage is like an even more ill-tempered Elmer Fudd. The more he sputters and tries, the more he shoots himself in the foot or face.

At a press conference Friday, LePage, who has lamented the fact that drug dealers come from New York and impregnate white girls in Maine, sought to prove just how not racist he is.

“A bad guy is a bad guy. I don’t care what color he is. When you go to war, if you know the enemy, the enemy dresses in red and you dress in blue, you shoot at red,” he said. “You shoot the enemy. You try to identify the enemy. And the enemy right now, the overwhelming majority of people coming in are people of color or people of Hispanic origin.”

See, not racist at all! What’s so racist about seeing people of color as the enemy?

LePage already had a busy week. The day before, he had taken his anger management issues out for a spin when he left a profanity-laced voicemail for Democratic State Rep. Drew Gattine: “I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people and you little son-of-a-bitch, socialist c**ksucker.” He went on to lament that they cannot settle their differences with an armed duel.

On Wednesday, LePage called Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father who had criticized Trump at the RNC, a “con artist.” During the same speech he also said nearly all of Maine’s drug dealers are black or Hispanic.

Just another week of not being racist (or homophobic or Islamophobic) for LePage.

3. Trump’s highly sophisticated campaign tactic works brilliantly again.

A centerpiece of the Trump campaign has been, “I know you are but what am I?”

This is also known as, “I am rubber, you are glue, anything you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”

When commentators and even some doctors began to question Trump’s mental fitness to be president, suggesting in increasing numbers that he might be crazy or demented, he ramped up the conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s health. And since he’s been making such a sincere effort to win over black voters, which is difficult with his long history of easily documented racism, he ingeniously decided to turn the tables and call Hillary Clinton a “bigot.”

He’s rubber; she’s glue. Also, she started it!

This came on the heels of Trump’s recent highly sophisticated appeal to black voters that they should vote for him because, “what have you got to lose?” Never mind the fact that he has hired white supremacists like Steve Bannon to work on his campaign and welcomed the support of other racist members of the so-called “alt-right.” Ever enterprising, on Saturday, Trump sought to capitalize on the tragic shooting death of basketball player Dwyane Wade’s cousin. Now “African-Americans will vote Trump,” he sensitively tweeted.

For this remarkable piece of craven exploitation of a real tragedy, he was promptly and roundly destroyed on the internet.

4. Ann Coulter is having a really hard week, guys, so she’s going to need to mock disabled people.

Visiting her pal and fellow Trumpian Sean Hannity this week, Ann Coulter just had to blow off some steam. To hear the Donald “softening” his stance toward undocumented immigrants, and suggest he might not deport 11 million people at once was just really hard for her. Poor thing.

She told Hannity she was against any kind of pivoting for Trump, no matter how disingenuous. “I think it's stupid because all Trump is doing is demoralizing his base,” Coulter said. “The people who hate him still hate him, but now they can call him a flip-flopper. Way to go, whoever told Trump to say that.”

Trump’s walking back of his hardline immigration stance comes at an inconvenient time for Coulter, who has just released an entire book fawning all over him. Among the marvelous things Coulter argues in this tome is that Trump was not really mocking the physical disabilities of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski that time when Trump was clearly mocking Kovaleski. Coulter instead argues that Trump was just “doing standard retard.”

Wow.

Not that she needed to, but Coulter once again has reaffirmed her place in the firmament of detestable a**holes.

5. Sarah Palin, still feeling the Trump love from afar, but a teeny bit worried.

Like Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin loves her some Trump, even if his campaign has done its darndest to keep her at arm’s length after she made some truly incoherent speeches on his behalf. But like Coulter, Palin is a little worried that Trump might be going soft on all those rapists Mexico is sending here.

On Thursday, Palin decided to phone it in to Fox’s Eric Bolling, who was sitting in for Bill O’Reilly. Her main point: Donald is still going to build that wall. “Donald Trump understands that enforcing the laws and building that wall are paramount to what the will of the people is, and thank God, he’s still preachin’ that!” she reassured the worried Fox audience.

Hallelujah!

Apart from the wall, Palin also had some carefully considered, reality-based plans to discourage people who are here illegally. “Well, we have to quit incentivizing those who are here illegally, keeping them here, by not employing them, not giving them free health care, free college, free phones, free Happy Meals, free anything!” she said.

WTF is she talking about!

Perhaps Katrina Pierson summed up the whole Trump campaign words-to-reality-relationship best this week when she explained that contrary to appearances, Donald Trump was still the same old bigot he always was. “He hasn’t changed his position (on immigration),” she said. “He has changed the words he is saying.”

Well, that certainly clears everything up!

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Hurricane GASTON Wind Speed Probabilities Number 23
2016-08-28 05:01:23 (1 hours ago) 
Issued at 0900 UTC SUN AUG 28 2016 000 FONT12 KNHC 280853 PWSAT2 HURRICANE GASTON WIND SPEED PROBABILITIES NUMBER 23 NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL072016 0900 UTC SUN AUG 28 2016 AT 0900Z THE CENTER OF HURRICANE GASTON WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 30.1 NORTH...LONGITUDE 54.6 WEST WITH MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS NEAR 80 KTS...90 MPH...150 KM/H. Z INDICATES COORDINATED UNIVERSAL TIME (GREENWICH) ATLANTIC STANDARD TIME (AST)...SUBTRACT 4 HOURS FROM Z TIME EASTERN DAYLIGHT TIME (EDT)...SUBTRACT 4 HOURS FROM Z TIME CENTRAL DAYLIGHT TIME (CDT)...SUBTRACT 5 HOURS FROM Z TIME WIND SPEED PROBABILITY TABLE FOR SPECIFIC LOCATIONS CHANCES OF SUSTAINED (1-MINUTE AVERAGE) WIND SPEEDS OF AT LEAST ...34 KT (39 MPH... 63 KM/H)... ...50 KT (58 MPH... 93 KM/H)... ...64 KT (74 MPH...119 KM/H)... FOR LOCATIONS AND TIME PERIODS DURING THE NEXT 5 DAYS PROBABILITIES FOR LOCATIONS ARE GIVEN AS OP(CP) WHERE OP IS THE PROBABILITY OF THE EVENT BEGINNING DURING AN INDIVIDUAL TIME PERIOD (ONSET PROBABILITY) (CP) IS THE PROBABILITY OF THE EVENT OCCURRING BETWEEN 06Z SUN AND THE FORECAST HOUR (CUMULATIVE PROBABILITY) PROBABILITIES ARE GIVEN IN PERCENT X INDICATES PROBABILITIES LESS THAN 1 PERCENT PROBABILITIES FOR 34 KT AND 50 KT ARE SHOWN AT A GIVEN LOCATION WHEN THE 5-DAY CUMULATIVE PROBABILITY IS AT LEAST 3 PERCENT. PROBABILITIES FOR 64 KT ARE SHOWN WHEN THE 5-DAY CUMULATIVE PROBABILITY IS AT LEAST 1 PERCENT. - - - - WIND SPEED PROBABILITIES FOR SELECTED LOCATIONS - - - - FROM FROM FROM FROM FROM FROM FROM TIME 06Z SUN 18Z SUN 06Z MON 18Z MON 06Z TUE 06Z WED 06Z THU PERIODS TO TO TO TO TO TO TO 18Z SUN 06Z MON 18Z MON 06Z TUE 06Z WED 06Z THU 06Z FRI FORECAST HOUR (12) (24) (36) (48) (72) (96) (120) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - LOCATION KT SANTA CRUZ AZO 34 X X( X) X( X) X( X) X( X) X( X) 8( 8) $$ FORECASTER BROWN
 
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2016-08-28 04:00:15 (2 hours ago) 
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Scholarship students in US make a mark with social work
2016-08-28 03:50:25 (3 hours ago) 
Author: ARAB NEWSSun, 2016-08-28ID: 1472338894788162900

JEDDAH: Saudi scholarship students in the US have taken up the cudgels against attempts to distort the image of Islam and Muslims by getting involved in social and charity work.
“We need to participate in the American community service to project the true picture of Saudi society,” said Ph.D. scholarship student Yusuf bin Ali Al-Rajhi.
He took advantage of the summer vacation to work for a New York charity to take food from restaurants to the houses of the homeless and elderly, and then take the garbage and waste from there to the allocated dumping sites.

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Health campaign to target Haj camps
2016-08-28 03:50:25 (3 hours ago) 
Author: MOHAMMED RASOOLDEENSun, 2016-08-28ID: 1472338863958145600

RIYADH: As part of its health awareness campaign during Haj, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has prepared a mobile health awareness team that will provide health tips and guidelines to pilgrims in their own camps.
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2016-08-28 03:50:25 (3 hours ago) 
Author: ARAB NEWSSun, 2016-08-28ID: 1472338844138140000

JEDDAH: Crown Prince Prince Mohammed bin Naif, deputy premier and interior minister, has approved the appointment of Waheeb Mohammed Al-Sahli as undersecretary for Madinah Governorate.
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Vijay Prashad: Turkey's Offensive Against ISIS & Press Crackdown Is Really Just War on Kurds
2016-08-28 03:10:19 (3 hours ago) 
Syrian Kurdish militias are backed by the United States.

As the United States backs a Turkish military incursion into Syria targeting ISIS-held areas along the border, Turkey says it’s also concerned about Syrian Kurdish militias at the border who are backed by the United States. We look at the conflict, how it relates to the recent thwarted coup attempt, and the government’s subsequent arrests of journalists on terrorism charges with an acclaimed scholar who has followed the region closely for years: Vijay Prashad. He is a professor of international studies at Trinity College and columnist for the Indian magazine Frontline. His new book is "The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution."

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: An explosion at a police station in Turkey near the border with Syria has reportedly killed at least 11 people and wounded 70. State-run media is reporting that Kurdish militants were responsible for the attack, but there’s been no claim of responsibility. This comes as the Turkish military has sent additional tanks into northern Syria, intensifying its ground offensive in the ongoing conflict. The U.S. military is backing Turkey’s incursion, which began earlier this week with an aerial bombing campaign. Turkey says the offensive is against ISIS-held areas along the border. But Turkey says it’s also concerned about Syrian Kurdish militias at the border. Those militias are backed by the United States. On Wednesday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced Turkish-backed Syrian rebels claimed—reclaimed the Syrian town of Jarabulus from the Islamic State.

PRESIDENT RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: [translated] As of this moment, Free Syrian Army and residents of Jarabulus have taken back Jarabulus. They have seized the state buildings and official institution buildings in the town. According to the information we have received, Daesh had to leave Jarabulus.

AMY GOODMAN: Turkey’s offensive is dubbed "Euphrates Shield," and it’s the country’s first major military operation since a failed coup shook Turkey in July. On Wednesday, the Turkish president, Erdogan, met with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who said the United States supports Turkey’s efforts to control its borders. VICE

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We believe very strongly that the Turkish border must be controlled by Turkey, that there should be no occupation of that border by any group whatsoever, other than a Syria that must be whole and united, but not carved in little pieces.

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says videos posted to a social media website Thursday depict carnage in the Bab al-Nairab neighborhood of Aleppo, where two barrel bombs were reportedly dropped, killing at least five people. The group also reported additional strikes across Aleppo and its suburbs, saying the dead were mostly women and children.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The strikes came as the United Nations announced Russia has agreed to a 48-hour humanitarian truce in Aleppo to permit aid deliveries, pending security guarantees are met by parties on the ground. The United Nations has been pushing for a weekly 48-hour hiatus in fighting in Aleppo to assist the city’s approximately 2 million people who have been suffering as Syria’s five-year-old conflict continues to take a massive humanitarian toll. A separate United Nations team has concluded the Assad government and ISIS militants carried out repeated chemical weapons attacks in Syria in 2014 and 2015. The report accuses Assad of twice using chlorine gas. It also accuses ISIS of using mustard gas.

AMY GOODMAN: All of this comes as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, are meeting today in Geneva to discuss details of a cooperation agreement on fighting Islamic State in Syria. For more, we’re joined by the acclaimed scholar who has followed the region closely for years, Vijay Prashad. He is a professor of international studies at Trinity College, columnist for the Indian magazine Frontline. His new book is called The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution. Professor Prashad’s previous books include Arab Spring, Libyan Winter and The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South. Vijay Prashad, welcome back to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you in studio.

VIJAY PRASHAD: Thanks a lot. Great to be here.

AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s start with what’s happening right now in Turkey, where Vice President Joe Biden just was.

VIJAY PRASHAD: Well, the situation in Turkey is very dire. As you know, on July 15, there was the failed coup. But the matters in Turkey have unraveled long before this failed coup. You know, the crackdown on reporters has been going on for at least a year and a half, if not longer. The internal politics of Turkey has been in disarray. One of the interesting things about the government of Mr. Erdogan is that, previously, he had started a peace process with the Kurdish Workers’ Party, the PKK, which the United States and Turkey sees as a terrorist outfit. They had started a protracted peace process called the Imrali process. But this war in Syria has essentially unraveled that peace process, and the Turkish military has gone back on the full offensive against the Kurds in southeastern Turkey, and, as well, as you saw this week, the Turkish army has crossed the border into Syria to stop the advance of Syrian Kurds from creating what the Syrian Kurds call Rojava, which would be a statelet of Syrian Kurds which is right on the Turkish border. You know, the reason that operation is called Euphrates Shield is that the Euphrates runs in that region from north to south. And what the Turkish government would like to see is for the Syrian Democratic Forces, which has a large Kurdish component, to move back east of the Euphrates—in other words, withdraw from Jarabulus, withdraw from Manbij, which they had taken quite—in a celebrated victory, and therefore prevent the creation of this Kurdish statelet called Rojava. On the surface, they say it’s about ISIS, but really this is about the protracted war that the Turkish government has begun again against the Kurds.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But interestingly, you mentioned the failed coup. The New York Times, for instance, is reporting today that Erdogan wanted to go into Syria earlier, but the military was resisting, and it was only as a result of his being able to purge and remove so many top military officers that now he’s been able to do—to effect this incursion. VIJAY PRASHAD: This is likely the case, you know, but it’s also been the situation that this is not the first Turkish entry into Syria. The Turks had entered previously; the Turkish military had. You know, there’s a celebrated shrine, a memorial to one of the founders of the Ottoman Empire, and the Turkish military had entered to secure that monument earlier. Turks had also, of course, kept their border open and had allowed supplies and people to cross the border into various proxy groups, whether it’s Turkish-backed proxy groups, Saudi groups, Qatari groups—and, in fact, the Islamic State. You know, they have used for years the Turkish border. And I think that the sheer instability of the war in Syria has returned, you know, the conflict into Turkey—what the CIA, after the successful coup in Iran in 1953, called blowback. You know, this is, in a sense, blowback against Turkey. So, they have previously entered Syria with the military. They have, of course, supported their proxies. But now, I think, with the gains made by the Kurds, this is as much a political entry as anything. You know, the principal reason, I would argue, that they’ve entered Jarabulus is to stop the creation of Rojava.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Vijay Prashad, and we’re going to continue this conversation after break. Vijay Prashad is professor of international studies at Trinity College, columnist for the Indian magazine Frontline. His new book is called The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution. We’ll talk about, well, Turkey, Syria, Libya, and also the U.S. elections, before we speak with Emma Thompson. The famed actress is now back in Canada after going to the Arctic. Stay with us. [break]

AMY GOODMAN: "Denizlerin Dalgasiyim," "I am the Waves of the Sea," by Selda Bagcan. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. We’re speaking with Vijay Prashad, professor of international studies at Trinity College and author of a new book. It’s called The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution. I want to turn to a novelist who was just arrested. I want to talk about press freedom in Turkey. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that Turkish author and columnist Asli Erdogan—no relation to the president—has written about her treatment in prison since her arrest earlier this month, after the government closed down the newspaper where she worked. She now faces a pending trial on terrorism charges and says she’s been denied medication or sufficient water for five days and is diabetic. She’s one of many journalists and writers who have been arrested on charges of terrorism in Turkey. About 10,000 people have been arrested since the coup, at least that we know, or the attempted coup, though Erdogan, of course, wrested power back. Professor Vijay Prashad, what about Asli?

VIJAY PRASHAD: Well, look, you know, she is one of the tens of thousands of people who have been arrested under so-called suspicion that she was doing propaganda for the Kurdish Workers’ Party, the PKK. You know, here’s a celebrated novelist, a journalist for a newspaper whose entire staff pretty much, the editorial staff, has been arrested. Newspapers have been facing a great challenge inside Turkey, and broadcasters. If anybody has questioned the fact that the Turkish government, you know, has been allowing fighters to cross the border, they have been arrested. And this has been happening for the last several years. You know, that’s why I say the failed coup of July 15th has just provided the government with the opportunity to go very deep into its list of those whom it sees as dissenters, and pick them up. But they’ve been going after reporters for years now. Anybody who challenges their narrative of the war in Syria, they consider a threat, and they accuse them of being linked to the PKK. You know, this is one of the simplest ways of delegitimizing somebody, is to say that they are a propagandist for the PKK. And that’s precisely what they’ve said to her. They’ve also held her in solitary confinement. And she has asked to go back into the general population. You know, that’s a—it’s a humanitarian thing, on the surface of it. And also, you know, this is somebody with medical problems, and they’ve denied use of medication and a proper diet. But she’s only one. You know, as you noted, there are thousands of journalists who have been picked up. And sadly, a number of them are Kurdish journalists, independent journalists from the southwestern region of Turkey, who have been picked up.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And you mention the Kurdish Workers’ Party. Clearly, Turkey is a far more developed country than most of the other Middle East countries and, along with Egypt, probably has the largest working class, per se. Has there been any ties between the Kurdish Workers’ Party and ongoing workers’ movements in Turkey among the rest of the population?

VIJAY PRASHAD: So, the Kurdish Workers’ Party starts, you know, as a principally Kurdish nationalist force, separatist force. But Turkey is an interesting country, because, you know, the largest Kurdish population in a city is not in the southeast, but is in Istanbul. So, you know, about 10 years ago or so, the Kurdish Workers’ Party began to move from the position of secessionism to the position of more rights inside Turkey. And there have been a series of attempts to unite with the Turkish left, various small leftist parties, to create an umbrella party that would both fight for rights of all kinds of people—gays and lesbians, women, workers and Kurds—inside Turkey. And the most recent, you know, party of this kind was the HDP, which had in both elections in 2015—there were two parliamentary elections—did enough—you know, did well enough to block Mr. Erdogan’s attempt to create a presidential form of government. And in a sense, this domestic pressure from the HDP has also upturned the applecart, as far as Mr. Erdogan’s domestic agenda is concerned.

AMY GOODMAN: You know, Joe Biden was just there, the vice president. Turkey, Erdogan has been demanding the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, who is in the Poconos in Pennsylvania. Biden wrote a piece in a Turkish paper, and Foreign Policy has said that Turkey has admitted that they have not given evidence that this man was behind the attempted coup. Explain, overall, the significance, for people who have never heard of him. It’s not just about the PKK in Turkey.

VIJAY PRASHAD: No, it’s not. The PKK provides, I think, the opportunity for the Turkish government to go after a large number of journalists, because many of these journalists that they’ve picked up are people of the left. The purges in the military, in the judiciary, in those sectors, they’ve blamed on people with sympathies to the Gülen movement or been members of the Gülen movement. Now, when Mr. Erdogan came to power in the early 2000s, one of the great fears of this kind of Islamist movement was that they would suffer a coup by the military, that the military, which was largely republican, would go and overthrow them. So, from the very beginning, the AKP party, the party of Mr. Erdogan, has been very careful not to antagonize the military. And through the early years, Mr. Gülen’s movement and Erdogan both collaborated in stuffing their people into the military and into the judiciary. In a sense, this is now a family fight, that the very people that they stuffed into the military and into the judiciary have, of course, now turned on Mr. Erdogan. So he is now purging these people from positions of some authority. So it’s not untrue that the Gülenists are inside the military and inside the judiciary, but they were put there essentially to facilitate the Islamization of these institutions.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And the Gülen movement, in one of the bizarre examples of what’s happening in education in the United States, runs the largest charter school network in the United States. They have charter schools across the country, especially in Texas. Is there any indication—and they’re bringing in Turkish educators to come into the United States to work in these schools. Do you have a—have you studied that at all?

VIJAY PRASHAD: No, I haven’t looked at that, but I’ve read about it. And the interesting feature, of course, is that this charter school movement or this push towards having faith-based schools in the United States is so closely linked to the agenda not only in Turkey, but in Pakistan, in various other places. And, you know, you see the downside of this: the promotion of a kind of theocratic mindset, the promotion of, you know, a lack of appreciation of the diversity of populations, of minorities, of science, you know, things like that. So, of course, the United States—I’m glad you raised this, because the United States is not somehow outside this process. You know, the United States is very much in this process, not only by promoting this overseas, but, of course, by promoting it from Texas to New York. It’s not only Texas, Juan. We like to think of Texas as a sort of, you know, bastion of the American Taliban, but this American Talibanization has been happening everywhere.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to move from Turkey to Saudi Arabia. While Joe Biden went to Turkey, Secretary of State John Kerry went to Saudi Arabia. Talk about Saudi Arabia and what’s happening today and the U.S. role in Saudi Arabia.

VIJAY PRASHAD: Well, this is actually, I think, the most important meeting. And it’s important that Mr. Kerry went to Saudi Arabia before meeting Lavrov in Geneva. And the reason I say this is that, you know, the Russians, the Iranians and the Americans have now come to the understanding that the process in Syria cannot start with the demand that Mr. Assad has to go. And why I say this is that Turkey has in the last couple of weeks come to the same position. So, the current prime minister of Turkey has quite clearly said that they no longer require Mr. Assad to leave as a precondition for the peace process, but he can stay, as the prime minister said, for a transitional period. The only power in the region, the so-called subjugating powers of the region, that has not accepted this view is Saudi Arabia, and, to some extent, its Gulf Arab allies. You know, Saudi Arabia is fighting an extraordinarily brutal war in Yemen. It is obstinate in that war. It’s made no gains, despite the fact it’s been bombing Yemen for over a year. And, of course, the United States government has continued to resupply Saudi Arabia through this period. So, Mr. Kerry’s—

AMY GOODMAN: Engaged in the largest weapons sale in U.S. history with Saudi Arabia.

VIJAY PRASHAD: Precisely, the largest weapons sale, which Mr. Obama justified on economic grounds, which I thought was the most vulgar thing. In his statement, he said—or his proxy said, his spokesperson said, that this is the largest weapons sale, which benefits most of the states in the United States, because they will have bits and pieces of manufacturing. But the point I just want to make is that for Mr. Kerry to be in Saudi Arabia is important because one of the features that they need to be pushing is that Saudi Arabia needs to now adopt the view that there needs to be a long transitional process in Syria. They cannot demand the Assad—Mr. Assad leave as a precondition. Everybody else has accepted this except Saudi Arabia.

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Did a Warren Buffett-Owned Jet Airline Bait Unionized Pilots With a Fake Twitter Account?
2016-08-28 03:10:19 (3 hours ago) 
NetJets is trying to have a case saying so tossed out.

The private business jet company NetJets, which is a subsidiary of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, is pushing for an Ohio judge to toss out a pilot union's lawsuit.

The 2014 complaint, which was filed by the union representing NetJets pilots, says that the company illegally accessed a password-protected message board used by NetJets employees. The lawsuit alleges that NetJets created a fake Twitter account called “TwinkieTheKid,” which was used to bait pilots into participating in “unlawful job actions." The union claims that the Twitter account was part of a wider plan to sue the union, as it was only actively tweeting for three days—the same three days when employees were engaged in informational picketing. The account hasn't tweeted since November 2014, but it appears as of this writing that it was never deleted.

NetJets claims that they launched an internal investigation into the matter and concluded that one person was responsible for the account and that he had acted without the knowledge of the company. "This situation, which involved a single manager acting alone, is the only episode of inappropriate conduct we have discovered in this ongoing investigation," a company spokesperson told Aviation International News. However, the lawsuit also alleges that management hung an actual Twinkie in its corporate offices alongside photos of some union members, to imply that the workers were being watched. The suit claims that the Twinkie was hung as a way to "ratify" the company's illegal action.

As a piece by Tim Ferholz from 2015 points out, "Many of the tweets are quite opaque, if you’re not familiar with airline labor negotiations and inside jokes among pilots, or obviously produced by bots... But this may be the first time Twitter sockpuppetry has taken center stage in a labor battle."

Labor unrest isn't generally associated with Buffett-owned companies, but the Wall Street Journal has referred to NetJets as "a periodic source of worry for Mr. Buffett." In addition to the union-busting allegations, NetJets employees have protested “unjustifiable cost cuts and overhead reductions in the face of increasing flight demand, record profits and a dramatic reduction in debt."

NetJets says that the union has failed to back up any of its assertions with facts and that the lawsuit is merely a device to launch a "witch-hunt" against the company's management and pilots who are supportive of the management.

A recent piece at CNBC declared that Buffett's jet company was "changing how the wealthy fly." Mark Wilson, president of NetJets Europe, told CNBC,"To date 2016 has also been a strong period of growth for us, and we continue to increase our market share."

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There's Only One Way for the Catastrophes in Syria to End, and It's Not Through Violence
2016-08-28 03:10:19 (3 hours ago) 
Outrage will not bring back Syria's children.

Pictures of children, dead and alive, from the embattled city of Aleppo are heartbreaking. Whether it is Omran Dagneesh, who survived Syrian air strikes, or his brother Ali, who died, or Mohamad Tha’er Taher, who was killed by rebel shelling in June, the killing of children continues to rankle the world.

Nobody in this battle has clean hands. The fate of hundreds of thousands of people rests on the brutality of guns. Diplomats until now have been unable to create a peace to save them. 

Bewilderment is the general sensibility among Syria's neighboring countries and in Syria itself. Where is the exit from this madness? Hundreds of thousands of people trapped inside and around Aleppo. Bombs, shells, gunfire—that is the soundtrack for the people of this great city. It has been reduced to this meagerness, this brutality.

Aleppo, for the past few years, has been cut in half – West Aleppo controlled by the government, while East Aleppo is with various rebel groups. Both sides have been hit hard by the violence. The Old City, a UNESCO world heritage site, is the frontline. It is in ruins.

Nothing pains us more than death or injury to children. Images of Aylan Kurdi’s body lying dead on a beach in Turkey rattled large numbers of people. Now comes images of those who remained, for security is not given to these children either in flight or at home. Estimates of the dead suggest that of the half a million killed in this five-year conflict about 50,000 were children.

UNICEF’s chief Anthony Lake watched images of Omran Dagneesh and said, "Empathy is not enough. Outrage is not enough. Empathy and outrage must be matched by action."

Action?

But what action is possible? Lake was Bill Clinton’s National Security Adviser in the 1990s. It was Lake, with the urging of U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Madeleine Albright, who proposed a military plan to go after Serbia. Lake and Clinton’s hawkish team pursued a policy of military intervention that culminated in the 1999 NATO bombing and dismemberment of Yugoslavia. Is this the action that Lake would like to see?

What would U.S. or NATO armed action look like in Syria today? Washington insider Dennis Ross (with Andrew Tabler) asked the U.S. to "punish the Syrian government for violating the truce by using drones and cruise missiles to hit the Syrian military’s airfields, bases and artillery positions where no Russian troops are present." The U.N.-brokered truces have held here and there and have been crucial to the delivery of humanitarian goods into many towns. These truces are crucial.

U.N. Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien said recently that if the U.N. cannot secure a truce in Aleppo then the world will witness "humanitarian catastrophe unparalleled in the over five years of bloodshed" in Syria. Ross and Tabler suggest it is Assad’s forces that break the ceasefire and therefore punishment of his assets will secure the ceasefire. But this is not the case at all. Ceasefire violations and inhumane sieges have been general across Syria. The point is not the "red line" for the strike, for the warfare liberals such as Ross have sought several such "red lines" to urge a strike on Syria, whether attacks on civilians, use of chemical weapons or now violations of the truce.

If Assad and the Russians withdrew from the Aleppo battlefield, what would be the outcome? Aleppo would then be overrun by rebel formations. Those with the most muscle, who have demonstrated that they would drive an agenda are the least appealing: the newly renamed al-Qaeda affiliate (Jabhat Fateh al-Sham), Turkish and Saudi proxies as well as the Islamic State. Civilian-run groups will be unable to hold off this onslaught.

When the al-Qaeda affiliate – Jabhat al-Nusra – took Idlib last year, it set aside its less militarily powerful allies. In Ma’arat al-Nu’man, other forces tried to assert themselves with protests, but Nusra shut them down. Nusra went to battle against the 13th Division of the Free Syrian Army, just as it had done in southern Idlib against Jamal Marouf and the Syrian Revolutionaries Front. None of these groups could withstand the ferocity of Nusra. If the Syrian army withdraws, it is the new incarnation of Nusra that will seize Aleppo. Any expectation that liberal or left forces will be able to assert themselves – given the balance of forces – is dangerously naive.

The sensibility of the dominant rebels is provided by one of its sheikhs, Abdallah al-Muhaysini from Saudi Arabia’s heartland. Al-Muhaysini has recently called for the unity of all fighters under the flag of the new Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, anointed by al-Qaeda. His enormous influence is outsized and dangerous. When the group – in its earlier incarnation – seized the Abu al-Duhur Air Base in Idlib, al-Muhaysini was there. He egged the fighters to kill the Syrian army captives (they executed 60 Syrian soldiers). He used harsh, prejudicial words to describe these fighters – Nusairi and Rafida, nasty words used against Alawites and Shiites respectively. This is the tenor of what commands the opposition – Saudi sheikhs with a temperament of poisonous hatred.

Divided Syria

What about the Syrians themselves? Many of those among the liberals and the left who urge Western military intervention assume that Syrian society is easily identifiable – the mass on one side and Assad on the other. But this is a false sense of reality. Syria is deeply divided, not only along lines of sect, ethnicity and class, but also along lines of politics. It is this divided Syria that is not being heard – for what it says is a mirror of the war itself. "Listen to Syrians," goes the refrain. But which Syrians? There is no homogeneous Syrian public opinion; it is fractured. As Syrian economist Omar Dahi told me, "the din of war silences all reasonable voices on all sides."

I ask Dahi about the urgency of action, the need to do something, the call to arms. "All the main sides and their backers should acknowledge there is no military solution," Dahi says. "Not because it isn’t possible or even because the price of victory is too steep, but precisely because the society is divided." Syrians are "unhappy with the choices they have been offered," says Dahi. Calls for further military intervention, he says patiently, are not going to help. They will "further inflame the war and militarization."

Diplomacy

Ross and the warfare liberals ignore the ugliness on the ground. For them, Syria is a chessboard. A weaker Assad, they feel, would put more leverage in the hands of the U.S. against the Russians. They see Syria (and Ukraine) as merely the battlefield for a large confrontation with Russia. Such an outlook is narrow and it shows little concern for the terrible situation in the country.

Inside Syria and in its neighborhood the situation is dire. Even Turkey has now come to recognize the uncomfortable reality: namely that a peace process that is as expansive as possible is more important than the immediate defeat of Assad (which was Turkey’s position in 2011). Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has said that Assad’s removal is not a prerequisite for serious talks toward peace. The new relationship between Turkey, Iran and Russia – however fractious – is indicative of the frustration with the stalemate and the dangerous spiral of violence this policy had created. Assad, the Turks say, could have a "transitional" role in the process. As part of this new arrangement, Turkey has also said that it would more forcefully close its border, shutting off supply lines for the rebels. Turkey’s entry into Syria to seize Jarabulus to fight ISIS – with both Western and Russian assent – cements this new direction. It provides Turkey with what it wants – namely to block the creation of a Kurdish enclave – and it puts Turkey directly against ISIS.

What the Russian intervention did was to embolden the Syrian government. Western aerial bombardment against Damascus could no longer happen (Ross and his warfare liberals tried to argue around this, to no avail). With that off the table, the Syrian government and its allies moved to break the siege of government-held West Aleppo from Homs. That battle could not have taken place without the sword of aerial bombardment off its neck. Assad’s armies might have swept up the western edge of Syria, but they are not any more confident now than they were a few years ago. Morale remains low and recruits are not easy to come by. Reinforcements from Iran and Lebanon continue to make the difference in hard-fought encounters with the rebels. Aerial bombardment by Russia has been essential.

Now, if the Turks close their border, the rebels will have a hard time resupplying themselves. It would mean that even an exhausted Syrian army could make gains against the rebels. It is unlikely that Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf Arab states would be able to come to the rescue of their proxies – Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen is also at a stalemate. Its enemy there – Abdullah Saleh – has made his own noises about relations with Russia.

What does this mean for the Syrian people? No good news is on the horizon. The fighting will continue. The new rebel platform – anchored by the al-Qaeda affiliate – refuses to come to the table. Pragmatism is not its mood. The Syrian government will continue to batter at East Aleppo and elsewhere, hoping to break the confidence of the Islamist rebels. More blood will be shed and more refugees will try to flee the country. Anthony Lake is right in one respect: outrage will not make this war end. Action is needed. But the question remains: what kind of action?

Syria’s government has shown that it is willing to come into a peace process. Russian and Iranian pressure is essential to ensure that it takes the negotiations seriously. Turkey’s indication that it will now close its border is a very good sign. It means that resupplying of the Islamist rebels – many Turkey’s proxies – will be harder to do. U.N. Resolution 2178 calls upon member states to no longer fund "foreign terrorist fighters," which should put some pressure on countries such as Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia – from where funds to the Islamist rebels come. The ground is now slowly being set for the U.N. to call for a new dialogue to build on the humanitarian truces. These have been the only effective way to bring relief to a worn-out population and to rebuild trust in a divided society – which is, after all, the basis of peace.

 

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