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In the News 02.26.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 02.26.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@paris.with.me
In the News 02.26.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@oljaryz
In the News 02.26.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@carolinereceveur

Donald Glover Can’t Save You

Donald Glover sat behind the wheel of the Nissan Sentra, his door ajar, and lit a joint. In the scene he’d just finished, for the show “Atlanta,” he’d jammed on the brakes to avoid a wild boar in the road, an apparition that made him wonder just how high he was. On this crisp October morning, the car was parked beside Gun Club Road in northwest Atlanta, a woodsy region where a few shacks and a cemetery were all that gestured toward urban life. “This isn’t real,” Glover said—his joint was a prop, filled with clover and marshmallow leaves. “But it actually makes me feel kind of high. Smoking in the car like high school.” He passed the joint to his co-star Zazie Beetz, who inhaled companionably as Glover nodded along to the rhythm of the door-alarm beeps.
Glover is the thirty-four-year-old creator, head writer, occasional director, and star of “Atlanta,” the black comedy about black life—three men and a woman going nowhere much, and beginning to realize it—that in its first season won two Golden Globes, two Emmys, and nearly universal admiration. Chris Rock told me, “ ‘Atlanta’ is the best show on TV, period.” In this episode, from the second season (which débuts this Thursday, on FX), Glover and Beetz’s characters, Earnest (Earn) Marks and Vanessa (Van) Keifer, are driving north from Atlanta in Van’s old Sentra to a German festival called Fastnacht. Van, who speaks German for reasons we never learn, is excited; Earn, who inclines toward watchful truculence, is not. Earn and Van have a daughter and they sleep together off and on, but they are not precisely a couple. “At FX, they didn’t get Earn and Van at all,” Glover told me. “I said, ‘This is every one of my aunts—you have a kid with a guy, he’s around, you’re still attracted to him.’ Poor people can’t afford to go to therapy.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

A Kingdom From Dust

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On a summer day in the San Joaquin Valley, 101 in the shade, I merge onto Highway 99 past downtown Fresno and steer through the vibrations of heat. I’m headed to the valley’s deep south, to a little farmworker town in a far corner of Kern County called Lost Hills. This is where the biggest irrigated farmer in the world — the one whose mad plantings of almonds and pistachios have triggered California’s nut rush — keeps on growing, no matter drought or flood. He doesn’t live in Lost Hills. He lives in Beverly Hills. How has he managed to outwit nature for so long?

The GPS tells me to take Interstate 5, the fastest route through the belly of the state, but I’m partial to Highway 99, the old road that brought the Okies and Mexicans to the fields and deposited a twang on my Armenian tongue. The highway runs two lanes here, three lanes there, through miles of agriculture broken every 20 minutes by fast food, gas station, and cheap motel. Tracts of houses, California’s last affordable dream, civilize three or four exits, and then it’s back to the open road splattered with the guts and feathers of chickens that jumped ship on the slaughterhouse drive. Pink and white oleanders divide the highway, and every third vehicle that whooshes by is a big rig. More often than not, it is hauling away some piece of the valley’s bounty. The harvest begins in January with one type of mandarin and ends in December with another type of mandarin and in between spills forth everything in your supermarket produce and dairy aisles except for bananas and mangoes, though the farmers here are working on the tropical, too.

I stick to the left lane and try to stay ahead of the pack. The big-rig drivers are cranky two ways, and the farmworkers in their last-leg vans are half-asleep. Ninety-nine is the deadliest highway in America. Deadly in the rush of harvest, deadly in the quiet of fog, deadly in the blur of Saturday nights when the fieldwork is done and the beer drinking becomes a second humiliation. Twenty miles outside Fresno, I cross the Kings, the river that irrigates more farmland than any other river here. The Kings is bone-dry as usual. To find its flow, I’d have to go looking in a thousand irrigation ditches in the fields beyond.

Read the rest of this article at: The California Sunday Magazine

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The Rise of Virtual Citizenship

“If you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what citizenship means,” the British prime minister, Theresa May, declared in October 2016. Not long after, at his first postelection rally, Donald Trump asserted, “There is no global anthem. No global currency. No certificate of global citizenship. We pledge allegiance to one flag and that flag is the American flag.” And in Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has increased his national-conservative party’s popularity with statements like “all the terrorists are basically migrants” and “the best migrant is the migrant who does not come.”

Citizenship and its varying legal definition has become one of the key battlegrounds of the 21st century, as nations attempt to stake out their power in a G-Zero, globalized world, one increasingly defined by transnational, borderless trade and liquid, virtual finance. In a climate of pervasive nationalism, jingoism, xenophobia, and ever-building resentment toward those who move, it’s tempting to think that doing so would become more difficult. But alongside the rise of populist, identitarian movements across the globe, identity itself is being virtualized, too. It no longer needs to be tied to place or nation to function in the global marketplace.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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The Unchecked Influence of NRA Lobbyist Marion Hammer

Jared Moskowitz, a Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives, was debating tax policy on the chamber floor, in Tallahassee, last week, when he received a call from his wife, Leah. He was surprised to hear her crying. She was trying to pick up their 4-year-old son, Sam, who attends a preschool in Moskowitz’s district, which encompasses two affluent communities about an hour north of Miami — Parkland and Coral Springs. Leah had seen a number of police officers outside the building. Moskowitz called the local sherff’s office and learned that the preschool was on lockdown, because there was an active shooter at the nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Moskowitz, who graduated from Douglas in 1999, called Leah back, then walked over to Richard Corcoran, the speaker of the House, and explained that he had to leave. “I think people were still getting killed while we were talking,” Moskowitz told me.

Parkland is almost 500 miles south of Tallahassee; by the time Moskowitz’s flight landed, he knew that 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who had been expelled from Douglas, had used a legally purchased AR-15 semiautomatic rifle to kill 17 students and staff members and seriously wound more than a dozen others. Moskowitz drove to the Marriott Hotel in Coral Springs, a few minutes from Douglas. Law-enforcement officials had directed parents and family members of missing children to a ballroom there.

Some mothers and fathers were praying; others grew exasperated. “Just tell me!” one parent yelled at the F.B.I. agents and the police officers who stood among them. “Is he in the school?” After midnight, officials began to take families to an adjoining room, one at a time, where they were told whether their child was dead or in the hospital. “You could hear them screaming through the wall,” Moskowitz recalled.

Read the rest of this article at: The Trace

Fake News Is An Existential Crisis For Social Media

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The funny thing about fake news is how mind-numbingly boring it can be.

Not the fakes themselves — they’re constructed to be catnip clickbait to stoke the fires of rage of their intended targets. Be they gun owners. People of color. Racists. Republican voters. And so on.
The really tedious stuff is all the also incomplete, equally self-serving pronouncements that surround ‘fake news’. Some very visibly, a lot less so.

Such as Russia painting the election interference narrative as a “fantasy” or a “fairytale” — even now, when presented with a 37-page indictment detailing what Kremlin agents got up to (including on US soil). Or Trump continuing to bluster that Russian-generated fake news is itself “fake news”.

And, indeed, the social media firms themselves, whose platforms have been the unwitting conduits for lots of this stuff, shaping the data they release about it — in what can look suspiciously like an attempt to downplay the significance and impact of malicious digital propaganda, because, well, that spin serves their interests.

The claim and counter claim that spread out around ‘fake news’ like an amorphous cloud of meta-fakery, as reams of additional ‘information’ — some of it equally polarizing but a lot of it more subtle in its attempts to mislead (e.g. the publicly unseen ‘on background’ info routinely sent to reporters to try to invisible shape coverage in a tech firm’s favor) — are applied in equal and opposite directions in the interests of obfuscation; using speech and/or misinformation as a form of censorship to fog the lens of public opinion.

This bottomless follow-up fodder generates yet more FUD in the fake news debate. Which is ironic, as well as boring, of course. But it’s also clearly deliberate.

As Zeynep Tufekci has eloquently argued: “The most effective forms of censorship today involve meddling with trust and attention, not muzzling speech itself.”

So we also get subjected to all this intentional padding, applied selectively, to defuse debate and derail clear lines of argument; to encourage confusion and apathy; to shift blame and buy time. Bored people are less likely to call their political representatives to complain.

Truly fake news is the inception layer cake that never stops being baked. Because pouring FUD onto an already polarized debate — and seeking to shift what are by nature shifty sands (after all information, misinformation and disinformation can be relative concepts, depending on your personal perspective/prejudices) — makes it hard for any outsider to nail this gelatinous fakery to the wall.

Read the rest of this article at: TechCrunch

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @brothervellies; @katie.one; @brightonkeller

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