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In the News 04.25.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 04.25.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@rachel.angele
In the News 04.25.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@paris.with.me
In the News 04.25.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@alisaanton

The Known Unknown: Tales of the Yucca Man

The story you’ll hear most often goes like this: There’s a young Marine on guard duty in some far-off corner of the massive Twentynine Palms desert training base. He hears an awful sound in the dark, something like a growl. Then, the breathing, coming from one side of his lonesome little guard booth and now from the other.

It’s circling him.

He steps out into the dark, his sidearm drawn. There it stands, eight feet tall, an unbearable stench from its hairy body, the eyes glowing like red coals.

Sometimes, the Marine is knocked unconscious by the beast and found hours later by the next shift. One version occurs at the old rifle range, where the watchman — also armed with a rifle — wakes from the assault to find his weapon bent in half.

Read the rest of this article at: Longreads

What New York Was Like In The Early ’80s — Hour By Hour

A chance encounter with David Bowie at a downtown nightclub. Boozy, drug-fueled parties that lasted until dawn. A walk across the Williamsburg Bridge — just to save a subway token. Mornings spent alone, writing in a studio in the West Village. Afternoon workouts. Dinner on the Upper East Side with a former president of the United States. These are the moments, large and small, recounted by 36 writers, artists, fashion designers, musicians and more who lived in New York City in the early ’80s. Together, this chorus of voices — assembled, edited and condensed — creates a compelling mosaic, revealing a city bustling with creativity but also slowly emerging from its recent near-bankruptcy, with upscale restaurants just blocks away from rubble-filled, graffiti-painted lots. Whether you were struggling, successful or just plain lucky, these stories remind us that in these years New York City — dirty, dangerous, derelict, dazzling — was the only place to be.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

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Jeff Bezos v The World: Why All Companies Fear ‘Death By Amazon’

The computer on which this article was written is sitting on a laptop stand that tells you everything you need to know about how Amazon does business. At $19.99 (£14.99) a pop, the laptop stand combines everything customers love about Amazon: utility, price and convenience. It’s also a total and complete knockoff – of a laptop stand that the San Francisco-based company Rain Design began selling nearly a decade before Amazon decided to make its own.

Amazon’s innovation with its own version was to replace Rain Design’s raindrop logo with its own smiley arrow logo – and cut the price in half.

“All Amazon had to do was pick the best one and copy it,” said Rachel Greer, a former product manager for Amazon who runs a consulting firm for Amazon vendors.

Rain Design isn’t the first company to fall victim to the aggressive techniques Amazon uses to achieve market dominance. Although its retail site is the most visible of its business strands, the $740bn company has quietly stretched its tentacles into an astonishing range of unrelated industries. Google and Facebook might have cornered the online advertising market, but Amazon’s business successes now include groceries, TV, robotics, cloud services and consumer electronics.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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Where Countries Are Tinderboxes And Facebook Is A Match

MEDAMAHANUWARA, Sri Lanka — Past the end of a remote mountain road, down a rutted dirt track, in a concrete house that lacked running water but bristled with smartphones, 13 members of an extended family were glued to Facebook. And they were furious.

A family member, a truck driver, had died after a beating the month before. It was a traffic dispute that had turned violent, the authorities said. But on Facebook, rumors swirled that his assailants were part of a Muslim plot to wipe out the country’s Buddhist majority.

“We don’t want to look at it because it’s so painful,” H.M. Lal, a cousin of the victim, said as family members nodded. “But in our hearts there is a desire for revenge that has built.”

The rumors, they believed, were true. Still, the family, which is Buddhist, did not join in when Sinhalese-language Facebook groups, goaded on by extremists with wide followings on the platform, planned attacks on Muslims, burning a man to death.

But they had shared and could recite the viral Facebook memes constructing an alternate reality of nefarious Muslim plots. Mr. Lal called them “the embers beneath the ashes” of Sinhalese anger.

We came to this house to try to understand the forces of social disruption that have followed Facebook’s rapid expansion in the developing world, whose markets represent the company’s financial future. For months, we had been tracking riots and lynchings around the world linked to misinformation and hate speech on Facebook, which pushes whatever content keeps users on the site longest — a potentially damaging practice in countries with weak institutions.

Time and again, communal hatreds overrun the newsfeed — the primary portal for news and information for many users — unchecked as local media are displaced by Facebook and governments find themselves with little leverage over the company. Some users, energized by hate speech and misinformation, plot real-world attacks.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

The Reinvention Of America

I have seen the future, and it is in the United States.

After a several-year immersion in parts of the country that make the news mainly after a natural disaster or a shooting, or for follow-up stories on how the Donald Trump voters of 2016 now feel about Trump, I have a journalistic impulse similar to the one that dominated my years of living in China. That is the desire to tell people how much more is going on, in places they had barely thought about or even heard of, than they might have imagined.

In the case of China, that impulse matched the mood of the times. In the years before and after the world financial crisis of 2008, everyone knew that China was on the way up; reporters like me were just filling in the details. In the case of the modern United States, I am well aware that this message runs so counter to prevailing emotions and ideas as to seem preposterous. Everyone knows how genuinely troubled the United States is at the level of national politics and governance. It is natural to assume that these disorders must reflect a deeper rot across the country. And indeed, you can’t travel extensively through today’s America, as my wife, Deb, and I have been doing in recent years, without being exposed to signs of rot, from opioid addiction to calcifying class barriers.

At the time Deb and I were traveling, sociologists like Robert Putnam were documenting rips in the social fabric. We went to places where family stories matched the famous recent study by the economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton of Princeton, showing rising mortality among middle-aged whites without a college degree for reasons that include chronic disease, addiction, and suicide. In some of the same cities where we interviewed forward-moving students, civic leaders, and entrepreneurs, the photographer Chris Arnade was portraying people the economy and society had entirely left behind. The cities we visited faced ethnic and racial tensions, and were struggling to protect local businesses against chain stores and to keep their most promising young people from moving away. The great majority of the states and counties we spent time in ended up voting for Donald Trump.

What we learned from traveling was not that the hardest American challenges of this era are illusory. They’re very real, and divisions about national politics are intense. So we made a point of never asking, early on, “How’s Obama doing?,” or later, “Do you trust Hillary?” and “What about Trump?” The answers to questions like those won’t take you beyond what you’ve already heard ad nauseam on TV.

Instead we asked people about their own lives and their own communities. Reporting is the process of learning what you didn’t know before you showed up. And by showing up in Mississippi and Kansas and South Dakota and inland California and Rust Belt Pennsylvania, we saw repeated examples of what is happening in America’s here and now that have important and underappreciated implications for America’s future.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.

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