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News 07.05.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 07.05.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@itziaraguilera
News 07.05.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@itziaraguilera
News 07.05.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@itziaraguilera

When Alshair Fiyaz, a wealthy businessman with a shaggy mane of hair, walked into the garden of London’s Four Seasons Hotel on a pleasant June evening five years ago, he had no idea he was being followed. He was there to meet Walid Choucair, a trader wearing a hoodie who collected “Star Wars” memorabilia and expensive guitars. Neither one noticed an officer from the National Crime Agency stick a recording device in the greenery.

The investigator was tracking Fiyaz in connection with an insider-trading probe being conducted by the NCA, the U.K. equivalent of the FBI. Choucair wasn’t a suspect, and the officer didn’t know who he was before planting the bug. But after the meeting, the officer followed Choucair to an apartment near the Royal Albert Hall on the edge of Hyde Park.

That fateful encounter at the Four Seasons, recounted in court, would turn Choucair, whose life was an adrenaline-charged chase for information about big deals, into Europe’s most high-profile insider-trading defendant. And his two trials—the first ended last year in a hung jury, the second with a conviction last week—opened a window on a loose network of traders from London to Dubai as well as a multinational investigation into suspected insider trading.

Read the rest of this article at: Bloomberg

News 07.05.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Twelve hours before he locked himself in his bedroom and took his own life, Alan García, Peru’s two-time former President, gave an interview to the national radio-and-television station RPP, from a local university where he taught. It was a Tuesday evening in mid-April, during Holy Week, and the city was swirling with rumors about García’s imminent arrest. He had been implicated in a dizzyingly complex transnational corruption scandal that had already enveloped much of the Peruvian political class. Now, after months of silence in the face of mounting pressure from prosecutors and the press, he’d decided that it was time to talk.

Jenny Alvaro, a producer of the interview, was meeting García for the first time, but she thought she knew what to expect: the bombastic, theatrical, larger-than-life politician who had been a presence on the national stage for more than three decades. “I’d seen him on television, at rallies, and had always heard he had an imposing presence,” Alvaro told me. Instead, García that evening was calm, even subdued, with little of the bluster usually associated with his public persona. He wore a dark-blue suit, a white dress shirt unbuttoned at the neck, no tie. His black hair, with a wisp of gray in front, was combed back and thin compared with the wild mane he’d had in his youth. He had been dashing as a young man but had gained weight as he aged. He was known to be meticulous about his image, to have strong opinions about the fine details of his televised interviews—which camera angle suited him best, where he should be placed in relation to the interviewer. But now García was pliant, almost deferential. Alvaro told him where to sit and which direction to face, and when, for a moment, he seemed to doubt her she assured him, “It will make you look younger, Mr. President.” García laughed.

The interviewer that evening, Carlos Villarreal, had known the former President—and covered his exploits—for twenty years. García told him that he had just half an hour before he was scheduled to teach his weekly class on political theory, and that he liked to set an example for his students by being on time. (In a country that is, broadly speaking, agnostic on the importance of punctuality, his insistence on this point amounted to a personal quirk.) When the interview began, García frowned and nodded as Villarreal alluded to new allegations that might send him to prison. Finally, Villarreal asked, “Are you aware that this interview with RPP could be your last?”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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The piping on the red snowsuit was yellow, and on the green snowsuit it was blue: fire-engine red, sunflower yellow, summer-grass green, deep-ocean blue, the palette of preschool, the colors in a set of finger paints. I loved everything about those mail-order snowsuits—the snap-off hoods, the ribbed cuffs—but I especially loved the piping, which ran, as thick as a pipe cleaner, across the yoke of each jacket and down each leg of the pants, like the stripes of a military uniform. Just what I’d have done if I’d sewn them myself. It made the boys look like soldiers from different regiments. The red-and-yellow brigade of the two-year-olds, the green-and-blue brigade of the four-year-olds. I still dream about them—the snowsuits, the little boys.

I sewed my first son his first snowsuit when I was pregnant with him, in the middle of a hard and terrible winter, the ramp-up to Y2K, the much anticipated end of the world. He wasn’t due till the very beginning of April; it would be spring by then, thawed, even blooming. Still, wouldn’t he be cold? He was coming out of me: didn’t he need something to go into? I bought a yard of Kermit-green fleece and a matching zipper, and I stitched for him that sort of star-shaped sack Maggie Simpson wears. (Most of my ideas about parenting came from Marge, fretting beneath her blue beehive.) The zipper ran from the left foot to the right shoulder. I sewed on little flaps for his tiny hands to be tucked into, like letters into envelopes. I tried the snowsuit out on a stuffed bear the brown of the bark of a sugar maple. We named the bear Elly, for Eleanor Roosevelt, and I carried her around the house in her new fleece suit, practicing.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 07.05.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 07.05.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Who rules the underworld today, and where do they conduct their business? Once there were the familiar mugshots and Runyonesque nicknames, the clubs and pubs where the usual suspects gathered, plotted and schemed. Now organised crime is run like any other business, and its leading figures look like every other broker or tycoon. We have entered into a world of what Sir Rob Wainwright, until recently Europe’s most senior police officer, calls “anonymised” crime. The underworld has become the overworld.

The National Crime Agency has estimated that £90bn of criminal money is being laundered through the UK every year, 4% of the country’s GDP. London has become the global capital of money-laundering and the beating heart of European organised crime. English is now the international underworld’s lingua franca. Crime is an essential part of the British economy, providing hundreds of thousands of jobs, not just for professional criminals – the NCA reckons there are 4,629 organised crime groups in operation – but for police and prison officers, lawyers and court officials, and a security business that now employs more than half a million people.

Just as the names of familiar shops have been departing from the high street, the old family firms of criminals are disappearing, whether in London, Glasgow, Newcastle or Manchester. And just as British football fans have had to learn how to pronounce the names of the legions of new foreign players, detectives have had to learn to do the same for the increasing number of new criminals. Britain was once dealing with drugs imports from half a dozen countries; now it is more than 30. A young person who would in the past have sought an apprenticeship in a trade or industry may now find that drug dealing offers better career prospects. And, apart from drugs and guns, British trading channels now facilitate the trafficking of women from eastern Europe and Africa for prostitution and children from Vietnam as low-level drug workers.

The underworld’s modus operandi has shifted in the past quarter century. “The international nature of crime and technology are probably the two biggest changes,” says Steve Rodhouse, the NCA’s head of operations. Speaking at the NCA’s unprepossessing headquarters in Vauxhall, south London, Rodhouse explains how the agency’s work has mushroomed. “Pretty much all of the NCA’s most significant ‘high-harm’ operations now involve people, commodities or money transferring across international borders. The days of having a drugs gang, a firearms gang or a people-trafficking gang have changed because of the concept of polycriminality. Groups satisfying criminal markets, whatever they may be, is now much more common. These are businesses and people are looking to exploit markets, so why confine yourself to one market?”

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

A few years ago, a scientist named Nenad Sestan began throwing around an idea for an experiment so obviously insane, so “wild” and “totally out there,” as he put it to me recently, that at first he told almost no one about it: not his wife or kids, not his bosses in Yale’s neuroscience department, not the dean of the university’s medical school.

Like everything Sestan studies, the idea centered on the mammalian brain. More specific, it centered on the tree-shaped neurons that govern speech, motor function and thought — the cells, in short, that make us who we are. In the course of his research, Sestan, an expert in developmental neurobiology, regularly ordered slices of animal and human brain tissue from various brain banks, which shipped the specimens to Yale in coolers full of ice. Sometimes the tissue arrived within three or four hours of the donor’s death. Sometimes it took more than a day. Still, Sestan and his team were able to culture, or grow, active cells from that tissue — tissue that was, for all practical purposes, entirely dead. In the right circumstances, they could actually keep the cells alive for several weeks at a stretch.

When I met with Sestan this spring, at his lab in New Haven, he took great care to stress that he was far from the only scientist to have noticed the phenomenon. “Lots of people knew this,” he said. “Lots and lots.” And yet he seems to have been one of the few to take these findings and push them forward: If you could restore activity to individual post-mortem brain cells, he reasoned to himself, what was to stop you from restoring activity to entire slices of post-mortem brain?

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

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