Journalist Austin Tice: Held Captive in Syria since 2012; believed to still be alive 

Updated by Maya Salam, Parents of Austin Tice, Held Hostage in Syria, Say He Is Alive, NY Times, Jun 28, 2017, available at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/28/world/middleeast/austin-tice-hostage-syria.html (last accessed Sep 12, 2017).

#Syria #hostages #MAGA #diplomacy 

Longreads

Syria is the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. In the last three years at least 60 of them have been killed while covering the conflict there, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Missing from the statistics is anything about the kind of journalist who goes to Syria and why. After the death of Marie Colvin, in a blizzard of Syrian Army shells in Homs in February 2012, much of the Western media drew back from covering the country. Meanwhile, a lightly resourced, laughably paid, almost wholly uninsured cadre of freelancers, often armed with little more than a notebook and a mobile phone, infiltrated Syria anyway. A few were crazy narcissists or war-zone tourists, but most were serious reporters. Four-fifths of all journalists working in Syria, according to one estimate, are freelance and answering to no one but themselves.

Austin Tice was one of these. So was…

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Nasty Women and How to Deal with their Unfortunate Lack of Class

Why Women Can Be So Mean to Each Other and How to Protect Yourself

Excerpt:

“Some women don’t play by the rules. Many times, though, we realize this only in hindsight.

We assume her warm overtures are genuine, so we extend our friendship and trust.  However, instead, she betrays us, often at great personal and professional cost.  We may wonder what happened and why we didn’t see it coming.

But we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves. Some women haven’t left behind the childish games they learned on the playground in elementary school.

Little has changed as they’ve gotten older, except they’ve become much better at bullying others, under the radar. They’ve become masters at creating chaos without tipping anyone off, except the unfortunate victim who’s still pinching herself to see if this really happened, and wondering if anyone else would believe what she’s just experienced.

A few social scientists are now beginning to study and publish ground-breaking work on adult female bullies, because, for too long, most people assumed they didn’t exist.”
© Mary Strayhorne ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Founders Intent with Respect to the Electoral College

A response to Lawrence Lessig’s article, “The Constitution lets the electoral college choose the winner. They should choose Clinton.” (24 Nov 2016 Washington Post).  Lawrence Lessig is a professor at Harvard Law School and the author of “Republic, Lost: Version 2.0.” In 2015, he was a candidate in the Democratic presidential primary.

Lessig limited his argument on two major points:

  1. The founders intended the electoral college to be a circuit breaker, yes, but to prevent the mob mentality of a minority of states with greater population concentrations forcing ideology on the majority of states.
  1. Clinton has been subject of many investigations and scandals over the years, including being up for potential indictment during the campaign for her actions holding public office, which, if followed through during her presidency, she’d be impeached, like Nixon….effectively a disqualification.  Trump has not been indicted, nor was their any pending indictable offenses.

“it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.”

Perhaps, there should be an amendment to the constitution that disqualifies a candidate under investigation for alleged indictable crimes carried out while holding public office.  The reason being that even if they do get into office, they may be impeached anyway and, if not, they certainly hold a powerful position to actually curb investigative activities during their term or give the appearance of impropriety.  A long held principle in the law is that a judge must recuse himself to avoid the look of impropriety in the interest of justice.  Why should the executor of the law (or even legislators and administrators also) not be held to the same standard?

From Federalist 68 on the electoral college:

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Post-Trump Victory & Uncertainty: A Note to the Fearful Masses

To anyone who fears a Trump-fueled racist fallout, read this and allow it to guide your wisdom and strength in these uncertain times.
Being American is not about race, it is about nationality and how one identifies themselves.

We are all Americans.

We welcome you and your views. We also welcome the right of people to use the democratic process to choose a leader.

Though Trumps words were poorly chosen, we still have an opportunity to communicate to this leader that we will not stand for the mistreatment of any citizen or visitor to our country. Period. Read More

Censoring the Internet

China’s scary lesson to the world: Censoring the Internet works – By Simon Denyer, Washington Post, May 23, 2016

BEHIND THE FIREWALL: How China tamed the Internet | This is part of a series examining the impact of China’s Great Firewall, a mechanism of Internet censorship and surveillance that affects nearly 700 million users.

In China, the government can censor the pics and memes you send to your friends via IM– Posted on Jul 19, 2017 by Caleb Chen

“Chinese censorship has hit new dystopian levels. Internet censors in China are now able to delete an image sent from Party A to Party B, before the image makes it to Party B. While China has long had the power to scrub text and remove public posts, the ability to censor images in one-on-one WeChat is new and demonstrates exactly how far the government’s tendrils extend into Chinese tech companies.”

Also, take a look at the E|S|P previous post on censorship and surveillance:

Our Inevitable Descent into Censorship: A story that begins with surveillance – by Mary Strayhorne, Mar 26, 2016
Credits

Featured image source:  Cartoon by Brian Gable, The Globe and Mail, Toronto (published by CartoonArts International / The New York Times Syndicate, Feb 6, 2006, available at  https://www.nytsyn.com/cartoons/cartoons?start_date=1901-01-01&search_id=5782576&media_type=cartoons#271380) (last accessed Sep 12, 2017).

Our Inevitable Descent into Censorship: A story that begins with surveillance

“The “spiral of silence” is a well-researched phenomenon in which people suppress unpopular opinions to fit in and avoid social isolation. It has been looked at in the context of social media and the echo-chamber effect, in which we tailor our opinions to fit the online activity of our Facebook and Twitter friends. But this study adds a new layer by explicitly examining how government surveillance affects self-censorship.”

Elizabeth Stoycheff, assistant professor at Wayne State University and the lead researcher of a recent study that “shows that knowledge of government surveillance causes people to self-censor their dissenting opinions online” was “disturbed by the findings.”  The study–published in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly and reported by the Washington Post–scruitinized “the effects of subtle reminders of mass surveillance on its subjects” where “the majority of participants reacted by suppressing opinions that they perceived to be in the minority.”  Stoycheff said that “participants who shared the “nothing to hide” belief, those who tended to support mass surveillance as necessary for national security, were the most likely to silence their minority opinions.”  Mass surveillance silences minority opinions, according to study (Karen Turner, Washington Post)

She further remarked that “the fact that the ‘nothing to hide’ individuals experience a significant chilling effect speaks to how online privacy is much bigger than the mere lawfulness of one’s actions. It’s about a fundamental human right to have control over one’s self-presentation and image, in private, and now, in search histories and metadata.”

With an almost lethargic sense of irony, I was pretty dispassionate about this tiresome conclusion.  Fear of being judged is hardly a novel revelation.  Think back to high school, someone was always watching or being meticulously judged for dressing funny, acting strange, or generally being out right weird.  Guilty.

I was never very good at censoring myself and still (clearly) have a penchant for being borderline criminally outspoken.  So, censorship.  What does it look like as it evolves in a modern digital age?  How does surveillance play a role in the devolution of the unhindered flow of ideas?  Wait, why was I not in a rage about this?   My critical thinking brain triggered and thus began my barfly research and blogging tendency. Read More

Karl Marx’s Idealistic Concept of the Equalizing Effect of Socialism: A Perspective from the Dead Center of the Former Middle Class

To be clear, I grew up within a solid middle class family. My father was a lawyer who spent most of his career as a workers’ compensation attorney for hard working, often blue collar clients. My mother was a high school educated real estate paralegal–with a few college credits under her belt–who worked her tail off for over 20 years for attorneys until she went out on her own to form a title company. My parents worked their butts off. I know, my brother and I were latchkey kids in the 80’s and 90’s, born and raised in the DC suburbs. Never rich, sometimes well off, sometimes not so well off and at the mercy of market forces we could not control ourselves. We make good Marx ideology candidates. Keep reading.
I spent the first 15 years of my post-public high school life working and earning four degrees: an associates, a bachelors, a Juris Doctor, and, finally, a Master of Laws. I also have over $300,000 in student loan debt. Yes, it is blood curdling. So, you bet your ass, I paid attention in class and worked my tail off too.

I emerged ready and willing to hit the ground running, only to find that my education no longer holds the same market value it did when I was sold the idea of more degrees. I had educated myself out of the market entirely.

After all that hard work, with crippling student loans to pay back, and not one response to a single resume in 6 months (not one in dozens of applications), to say I was livid would be an understatement. What has become the ultimate equalizer now? Technology. In my case, likely a poorly designed job applicant algorithm.

So, I did what any over-educated and underemployed person would do, I sat and thought, tried to figure out where it all went wrong. I spent months thinking I did something wrong, that I used poor judgment, that I was wrong somehow. I played through all scenarios and kept landing on the same question mark: ‘wait, so when did life become fair enough so that everyone gets a trophy for just showing up?’

No. You dear sweet idealistic people brought up with privilege and self-esteem, life is not fair. If you disagree, then I point you to the ISIS crisis. Do you think they or their victims find life fair? But I digress.

For now, I point my critical finger at Karl Marx and I begin my analysis on him. If you don’t know who he is, I’m sure you are well-versed in Wikipedia, though I urge you to spend time to review multiple credible sources. What’s a credible source? If you are college educated, shame on your teachers or shame on you for not paying attention in class that day.  If you are high school educated or otherwise, it isn’t typically found on a standardized exam and I would be happy to explain. Read More

From Great Universities to “Knowledge Factories”: Another American Institution in Decline

ACADEME BLOG

Thomas Frank, perhaps best known for What’s the Matter with Kansas?, an examination of America’s new conservatism, has an article in Salon, “The New Republic, the torture report, and the TED talks geniuses who gutted journalism.” Toward the end, he writes this:

The new press lord’s deeds are all made possible by the shrinking significance of everyone else. Compared to the patois of power, the language of journalism is but meaningless babble. Compared to once having been a friend of Zuckerberg, no form of literary genius matters any more. Compared to the puissance and majesty of the CIA, we amount to nothing. We are playthings of the powerful, churned out by the millions every year from the nation’s knowledge factories. We are zeroes to their ones, ready to rationalize monopoly or rectal hydration at a moment’s notice.

We’ve been through all of this before, though Frank doesn’t write…

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Looking Bad Is The New Looking Good

Yes.

I Miss You When I Blink

Here’s an advertising trend that comes up every now and then: putting glamorous apparel on models made to look sad/greasy/hostile. I’m stumped by this. Why would it help sell an outfit to show that outfit on a person who looks miserable? There must be a method to this madness, or so many designers wouldn’t be doing it. But what? What’s the thinking?

To get my head around the idea, I tried to envision how each of these ads came to be, by imagining a conversation among these characters:

Ad Exec: Mike
Photographer: Steve
Models: Zelda, Daphne, Marcia, Lisette, Brenda, Chloe and Babs
(* None of these are the real people’s names, obviously. They’re just people I’m making up in my head.)

* * *

Celine

Mike: So Zelda, what we’re going for here is warmth of coat, coldness of heart, OK?

Steve: That’s right. Zelda, give us a look…

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