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posted by mrpg on Saturday October 21, @09:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the and-the-fauna? dept.

The last two of eight prototypes for President Donald Trump's proposed border wall took shape Thursday at a construction site in San Diego.

The prototypes, including one built by Israeli defense firm Elta, form a tightly packed row of imposing concrete and metal panels, including one with sharp metal edges on top.

[...] The models, which cost the government up to $500,000 each, were spaced 30 feet (9.1 meters) apart. Slopes, thickness and curves vary. One has two shades of blue with white trim. The others are gray, tan or brown — in sync with the desert.

Bidding guidelines call for the prototypes to stand between 18 and 30 feet (5.5 and 9.1 meters) high and be able to withstand at least an hour of punishment from a sledgehammer, pickaxe, torch, chisel or battery-operated tools.

Features also should prevent the use of climbing aids such as grappling hooks, and the segments must be "aesthetically pleasing" when viewed from the US side.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday October 20, @02:30PM   Printer-friendly
from the I-said-no dept.

After Catalonia's leader missed a deadline to clarify the government's stance on an independence referendum, and missed another deadline (Thursday calling for an unambiguous renouncement of the independence referendum, the Spanish government plans to strip Catalonia of its autonomous status:

Spain was preparing to impose direct rule over semi-autonomous Catalonia after the region's leader Carles Puigdemont declined to categorically renounce an independence referendum, the prime minister's office announced Thursday.

Spain's government said it would hold a special Cabinet meeting and "approve the measures that will be sent to the Senate to protect the general interest of all Spaniards."

At the Cabinet meeting, the government would invoke Article 155 of Spain's constitution allowing it to strip Catalonia of its self-governance. That would take effect on Saturday, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's office said in a statement.

Madrid had given Puigdemont a 10 a.m. (4 a.m. ET) deadline to clarify his government's stance on a non-binding declaration of independence passed by the regional legislature following a successful referendum on secession. But the Catalan leader insisted on keeping his options open, but that wasn't good enough for Spain's government, which had insisted on an unambiguous "no."

Bloomberg reports "Merkel and Macron Have Spain's Back as Catalan Crisis Escalates":

European Union leaders offered their support for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as he prepares to suspend the powers of the Catalan administration to clamp down on its push for independence. EU chiefs arriving for a summit in Brussels on Thursday said they backed Madrid and stressed that the issue of Catalonia's independence was a domestic one for Spain.

"We're looking at this very closely and support the position of the Spanish government, which is also a position that's been adopted across parties," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "Of course this preoccupies us, and we hope that there can be a resolution on the basis of the Spanish constitution." Asked whether he supported the Spanish government, French President Emmanuel Macron said "always," adding that "this summit will be marked by a message of unity of its members in regards to Spain."

Also at BBC, The Guardian, and EUObserver (opinion).

Previously: Spain Trying to Stop Catalonia Independence Referendum
Police and Voters Clash During Catalan Independence Referendum

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday October 20, @01:36AM   Printer-friendly
from the et-tu-brute? dept.

⚠ Warning: Contents of summary and comments may be offensive. ⚠

Cambridge Uni students get Shakespeare trigger warnings

Shakespeare contains gore and violence that might "upset" you, Cambridge University students have been warned. The "trigger warnings" - red triangles with an exclamation mark - appeared on their English lecture timetables.

Lectures including Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus contain "discussion of sexual violence, sexual assault", the BBC's Newsnight programme has learned.

The university said the warnings were "at the lecturer's own discretion" and "not a faculty-wide policy". The lecture timetables were issued to this term's students by the university's faculty of English.

[...] Asked about the warnings, one Cambridge academic who did not wish to be named, said their "duty as educators was to prepare students for the world not protect them for three years". Prof Dennis Hayes from Derby University's education faculty said: "Once you get a few trigger warnings, lecturers will stop presenting anything that is controversial... gradually, there is no critical discussion".

Cambridge University said the English faculty "does not have a policy on trigger warnings", but added: "Some lecturers indicate that some sensitive material will be covered in a lecture... this is entirely at the lecturer's own discretion and is in no way indicative of a faculty-wide policy."


Also at Cambridge News, The Guardian, and The Independent.

Original Submission

posted by FatPhil on Thursday October 19, @06:47PM   Printer-friendly
from the unsafe-at-any-typing-speed dept.

Donald Trump has threatened to shut down NBC and other American networks, saying that they peddle fake news.

"With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!" Mr Trump wrote in a tweet.

Mr Trump's tweet came in response to a story written by NBC, which said that Mr Trump had sought to increase America's nuclear arsenal tenfold after taking a look at a briefing slide that showed stead reduction of the US nuclear arsenal since the 1960s. The story cited three officials who were reportedly in the room when Mr Trump made the comments.

Source: Donald Trump threatens to shut down NBC and other TV news networks that criticise him

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday October 19, @11:44AM   Printer-friendly
from the fortunes-declining-like-many-other-americans dept.

AlterNet reports

Donald Trump has dropped 92 places in the Forbes list of wealthiest Americans, with the magazine putting his wealth at $3.1bn, down from $3.7bn last year.

[...] Forbes ranked the first billionaire president as the 248th wealthiest person in America. The year before, he was ranked 156th.

As a candidate, Trump said his net worth was more than $10bn, but Forbes pegged that figure at $4.5bn in September 2015. By Forbes' estimates, Trump's wealth has fallen 31% in two years.

According to Forbes' story:

It was another record year for the wealthiest people in America, as the price of admission to the country's most exclusive club jumped nearly 18% to $2 billion. Even at these new heights, entrepreneurs are breaking into the ranks for the first time as they mint fortunes in everything from telecom to booze to fishing. There were 22 newcomers, 14 of whom are self-made entrepreneurs. Among the most notable: Arizona iced tea cofounder Don Vultaggio; Netflix cofounder Reed Hastings; Tito Beveridge, the creator of Tito's Handmade Vodka; Chuck Bundrant, whose Trident Seafoods sells his fish to places like McDonald's and Burger King; and Rocco Commisso, founder of cable TV and broadband firm Mediacom and owner of the New York Cosmos, a soccer club based in Brooklyn.

The most notable loser was President Donald Trump, whose fortune fell $600 million to $3.1 billion. A tough New York real estate market, particularly for retail locations; a costly lawsuit and an expensive presidential campaign all contributed to the declining fortune of the 45th president.

If you prefer, you can just go straight to the list [Edit - that requires JS from and, JS-phobes can get just the raw numbers here -- FP].

In November, some thought that having a successful businessman at the helm would cure USA's ills. I wonder if this will increase the incidence of buyer's remorse among voters.

Original Submission

posted by CoolHand on Friday October 13, @12:41AM   Printer-friendly
from the somebody-get-the-popcorn dept.

A major shift from the Boy Scouts of America:

Irving, Texas – October 11, 2017 – Today, the Boy Scouts of America Board of Directors unanimously approved to welcome girls into its iconic Cub Scout program and to deliver a Scouting program for older girls that will enable them to advance and earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout. The historic decision comes after years of receiving requests from families and girls, the organization evaluated the results of numerous research efforts, gaining input from current members and leaders, as well as parents and girls who've never been involved in Scouting – to understand how to offer families an important additional choice in meeting the character development needs of all their children.

"This decision is true to the BSA's mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law. The values of Scouting – trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example – are important for both young men and women," said Michael Surbaugh, the BSA's Chief Scout Executive. "We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children. We strive to bring what our organization does best – developing character and leadership for young people – to as many families and youth as possible as we help shape the next generation of leaders."

[...] Starting in the 2018 program year, families can choose to sign up their sons and daughters for Cub Scouts. Existing packs may choose to establish a new girl pack, establish a pack that consists of girl dens and boy dens or remain an all-boy pack. Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls. Using the same curriculum as the Boy Scouts program, the organization will also deliver a program for older girls, which will be announced in 2018 and projected to be available in 2019, that will enable them to earn the Eagle Scout rank. This unique approach allows the organization to maintain the integrity of the single gender model while also meeting the needs of today's families.

I'll admit it, I was a little surprised by the announcement. As a longtime member of the BSA and an Eagle Scout, I find this extremely interesting. I know some who are dead set against it, and others who are totally for it. My personal opinion is that it will be a good thing, both for the BSA and for the young men and women who become part of the organization.

The biggest loser in all of this will probably be the Girl Scouts. I can see their membership numbers dwindling rapidly if/when this takes off.

As a side note, Scouting has been co-ed in many countries for decades.

Both the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts have seen decreasing membership in recent years, and both have been trying to find ways to increase their membership. In this context, they now seem to be butting heads:

The Boy Scouts will soon include girls, and not everyone's happy about it.

The 107-year-old organization announced Wednesday that younger girls will be allowed to join Cub Scouts and that older girls will be eligible to earn the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout.

[...] For months, Girl Scouts USA had a notion BSA would try to start recruiting girls. In August, Buzzfeed News obtained a strongly worded letter in which GSUSA President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan accused the BSA of courting girls to boost falling enrollment numbers.

From the letter:

We are confused as to why, rather than working to appeal to the 90 percent of boys who are not involved in BSA programs, you would choose to target girls.

What are your thoughts? Were you ever a boy scout, or a girl scout, or did they ever affect you in any way? And do you think the BSA should be praised for opening their doors to girls or should they be castigated for 'targeting' girls who would be better off staying with their own kind?

Original Submission #1   Original Submission #2

posted by Fnord666 on Thursday October 12, @07:23AM   Printer-friendly
from the oink-I-say dept.

Newsweek has this article on America's skewed definition of terrorism:

What is terrorism? According to the FBI, animal activists who stole two piglets from a farm were terrorists. As of now, Stephen Paddock, who killed 58 people at a country music concert in Las Vegas two weeks ago, has not been labeled a terrorist by the federal security organization.

In a viral story posted on The Intercept, journalist Glenn Greenwald details an account of federal agents investigating animal activists and scouring farm-animal sanctuaries to find two missing piglets that allegedly had been stolen from a farm. The FBI devoted such resources to finding these two piglets because their alleged theft and the capturing of undercover videos of the farm's conditions count as terrorism.

Why is the piglet theft classified as terrorism, but not the Las Vegas shooting? The distinction is rooted in the definition of the term. In spite of the emotions the word "terrorist" might elicit, the definition is not "mass killer" or "Muslim extremist" or "very bad person." The legal definition of terrorism is "the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property in order to coerce or intimidate a government or the civilian population in furtherance of political or social objectives."

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday October 10, @06:16AM   Printer-friendly
from the ethics-committee dept.

Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard

Bath Spa University is conducting an internal inquiry into claims that it turned down an application for research on gender reassignment reversal because it was "potentially politically incorrect" and would attract criticism on social media.

James Caspian, a psychotherapist who specialises in working with transgender people, proposed the research about "detransitioning" to the university in south-west England, which, he said, initially approved the application.

When he went back with his preliminary findings that suggested growing numbers of young people, particularly women, were regretting gender reassignment, Bath Spa said his proposal would have to be resubmitted to the ethics committee, which rejected it.

Caspian, who enrolled on an MA course at the university, said he was "astonished" by the decision and had sought legal advice.

"The fundamental reason given was that it might cause criticism of the research on social media, and criticism of the research would be criticism of the university. They also added it's better not to offend people," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Monday.

I was going to add some snark here but they pretty well covered making a mockery of academia for me.

Source: The Guardian

Also at: The Times

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Sunday October 08, @07:24PM   Printer-friendly
from the killing-machine-marginalia dept.

Editor's summary: BuzzFeed, a media outlet and Pulitzer Prize finalist, obtained leaked emails from Breitbart News, some of which were published in Buzzfeed's roughly 9,000-word exposé of the site's inner workings. The article chronicles the rise of Milo Yiannopoulos, Breitbart's tech editor, and his relationship with Steve Bannon, the recent White House Chief Strategist who left the Trump administration and resumed his position as executive chairman of Breitbart News in August. It also details exchanges between Yiannopoulos and people such as Peter Thiel, Devin Saucier, and Curtis Yarvin, among others. The article shows how Breitbart "smuggled white nationalist ideas into the mainstream" by using Yiannopoulos as a go-between for white nationalists and others in his following, who provided him with story tips and constructive (?) criticism.

Vice Media has fired Mitchell Sunderland, an editor and writer for Broadly, Vice's women-focused site. Sunderland emailed Yiannopoulos and encouraged him to mock the feminist writer Lindy West. He also sent a Broadly video about the Satanic Temple and abortion rights to Tim Gionet, Yiannopoulos's tour manager, resulting in this story. Dan Lyons, a writer for the TV series Silicon Valley and author of Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble, and David Auerbach, a former technology writer for Slate, also passed along news tips to Breitbart. Auerbach has vociferously denied writing the emails.

Milo Yiannopoulos responded on Thursday, mainly taking issue with a video of him singing karaoke while Richard Spencer and others raised Nazi salutes. Yiannopoulos wrote, "I have said in the past that I find humor in breaking taboos and laughing at things that people tell me are forbidden to joke about. Everyone who knows me has seen me make jokes about some awful things. But everyone who knows me also knows I'm not a racist. As someone of Jewish ancestry, I of course condemn racism in the strongest possible terms. I have stopped making jokes on these matters because I do not want any confusion on this subject. I disavow Richard Spencer and his entire sorry band of idiots. I have been and am a steadfast supporter of Jews and Israel. I disavow white nationalism and I disavow racism and I always have. I have severe myopia, due to a congenital eye defect, as has been widely reported and as many people know or have seen from my squinting during public speeches. In a dark bar, I did not see these hand gestures. If I'd have realized white nationalist losers were hailing me as their leader, I'd have immediately walked off stage. I stand for, as always, race-blind nationalism. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm enjoying my honeymoon with my black husband."

Broadening Brush: Alt-White, Buzzfeed Exposé!

BuzzFeed has published documentation of the direct connection of Breitbart News, the alt-right movement, and Milo Yiannopoulos to white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups:

In August, after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville ended in murder, Steve Bannon insisted that "there's no room in American society" for neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates, and the KKK.

But an explosive cache of documents obtained by BuzzFeed News proves that there was plenty of room for those voices on his website.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, under Bannon's leadership, Breitbart courted the alt-right — the insurgent, racist right-wing movement that helped sweep Donald Trump to power. The former White House chief strategist famously remarked that he wanted Breitbart to be "the platform for the alt-right."

The article is extensive, quoting from emails from the Breitbart organization itself.

In March, Breitbart editor Alex Marlow insisted "we're not a hate site." Breitbart's media relations staff repeatedly threatened to sue outlets that described Yiannopoulos as racist. And after the violent white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, Breitbart published an article explaining that when Bannon said the site welcomed the alt-right, he was merely referring to "computer gamers and blue-collar voters who hated the GOP brand."

These new emails and documents, however, clearly show that Breitbart does more than tolerate the most hate-filled, racist voices of the alt-right. It thrives on them, fueling and being fueled by some of the most toxic beliefs on the political spectrum — and clearing the way for them to enter the American mainstream.

Sometimes, it is good to know who you are lying down with, so you will know why you have fleas. And sometimes, journalists ought to "follow the money." I highly recommend reading the article, "Here's How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled Nazi and White Nationalist Ideas Into The Mainstream".

Liberal collusion with Alt-right! Shocking!

Now the Salon is getting into the fray, reporting on BuzzFeed's dump of Breitbart emails and pointing out that many liberal journalists are implicated.

A recently released cache of email correspondence revealed direct collaboration between popular alt-right website Breitbart and purported white nationalists and neo-Nazis. While the revelations are damning, they are not entirely surprising to those who follow Breitbart's editorial strategies. More shocking, perhaps, is that a number of purportedly liberal journalists have also secretly colluded with Breitbart over the years.

Again, this is a lengthy article, well worth the read, that goes into detail on the relations of Breitbart News to other journalistic entities, and political extremists. One example:

The surprising journalistic connections to Yiannopoulos include David Auerbach, a tech critic who has contributed extensively to Slate and has been published in intellectual left magazines like n+1, Triple Canopy, and even the Nation, one of the most esteemed voices of the American left. Auerbach once wrote a longform piece of cultural criticism for Triple Canopy exploring how the politics of anonymous online forum culture (A-Culture, in his parlance) eventually evolved into the fusion of libertarianism and racist nationalism that we now associate with sites like 4chan, 8chan and Reddit in its prelapsarian days.

Though anonymity does not play directly into the majority of the discussions on forums associated with A-culture, it is responsible—along with the written nature of the discourse—for the characteristics that have emerged from those sites. . . . Anyone entering into an A-culture forum is likely to witness a nonstop barrage of obscenity, abuse, hostility, and epithets related to race, gender, and sexuality. Anyone objecting to this barrage will immediately attract a torrent of even greater abuse. These forums maintain an equilibrium of offense designed to drive away anyone who is not sympathetic to the general libertarian mindset.

But it does seem that Buzzfeed has stirred up a hornet's nest of buzzing, the type of thing that may even attract buzzards.

Shortly thereafter, Auerbach tweeted that he had "told [Buzzfeed editor Ariel Kaminer] that this stuff was untrue. He's currently trying to put words in my mouth." Auerbach went on to speculate that "Buzzfeed might have it in for me because I criticized Buzzfeed chair Keith Lerer for hiring 4chan's founder." "I also criticized Buzzfeed's business model in NYMag," he added. "So yeah, they're probably pissed at me."

More about sexism and male privilege than racism. Or more of a cat-fight among journalists and whatever those who work for Breitbart are. As Alice said, "Curiouser and curiouser."

Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

posted by mrpg on Friday October 06, @02:00AM   Printer-friendly
from the nation-state-is-over dept.

Some of the great moments of history sneak up on businesspeople. Two years ago, Britain looked to be Europe's most economically rational country; now its companies seem to be rolling from one economic earthquake to another, with Brexit looking increasingly likely to be followed by the election of a near-Marxist prime minister, Jeremy Corbyn.

Looking back, two things stand out. First, there were some deep underlying "irrational" causes that business ignored, such as the pent-up anger against immigration and globalization. Second, there was a string of short-term political decisions that proved to be miscalculations. For decades, for example, attacking the European Union was a "free hit" for British politicians. If David Cameron had it to do over again, would he really have made the referendum on whether to stay in it a simple majority vote (or indeed called a vote at all)? Does Angela Merkel now regret giving Cameron so few concessions before the Brexit vote? Would the moderate Labour members of Parliament who helped Corbyn get on their party's leadership ballot in the name of political diversity really do that again?

Now, another rupture may be sneaking up on Europe, driven by a similar mixture of pent-up anger and short-term political maneuvering. This one is between the old West European democratic core of the EU, led by Merkel and increasingly by Emmanuel Macron, who are keen to integrate the euro zone, and the populist authoritarians of Eastern Europe, who dislike Brussels. This time the arguments are ones about political freedom and national sovereignty.

Eastern Europe's gripes are nothing a little anschluss couldn't cure.

Original Submission