News 11.23.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 11.23.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 11.23.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 11.23.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

“It is now too late to stop a future collapse of our societies because of climate change.”

These are not the words of a tinfoil hat-donning survivalist. This is from a paper delivered by a senior sustainability academic at a leading business school to the European Commission in Brussels, earlier this year. Before that, he delivered a similar message to a UN conference: “Climate change is now a planetary emergency posing an existential threat to humanity.”

In the age of climate chaos, the collapse of civilization has moved from being a fringe, taboo issue to a more mainstream concern.

As the world reels under each new outbreak of crisis—record heatwaves across the Western hemisphere, devastating fires across the Amazon rainforest, the slow-moving Hurricane Dorian, severe ice melting at the poles—the question of how bad things might get, and how soon, has become increasingly urgent.

The fear of collapse is evident in the framing of movements such as ‘Extinction Rebellion’ and in resounding warnings that business-as-usual means heading toward an uninhabitable planet.

But a growing number of experts not only point at the looming possibility that human civilization itself is at risk; some believe that the science shows it is already too late to prevent collapse. The outcome of the debate on this is obviously critical: it throws light on whether and how societies should adjust to this uncertain landscape.

Read the rest of this article at: Vice

News 11.23.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 11.23.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

I was in a reading once with Paul Sorvino where Francis was on the phone talking to one of the studio heads, maybe it was Bob Evans, about another actor—I’m not gonna say who it was, but if I said who it was, you’d say, “Jesus.” But they were in a hit movie at the time. And Francis is very open. He’s talking in front of an actor. Saying, “I really don’t think that they’re right for it, blah blah blah.”

Was it Michael that you were reading for?
De Niro: I could have been reading for Michael, or I was reading for Sonny. Because I knew that Francis wanted Al for Michael. But the word was out also that he wanted Jimmy Caan for Sonny. But he was going through the pressure, Francis, unbelievable pressure that they were gonna push you to do things. It’s just the nature of it.

I wonder if you guys are friends in part because so few other people can really relate to your respective life experiences.
Pacino: We get together. And there’s a trust there. There just is. We understand this thing together a little bit better. And you go there sometimes just to get some feedback. We talk about things.

De Niro: Kibitz. I don’t know if you know that word.

I do.
Pacino: We kibitz.

I imagine there are not a lot of people who can understand, really, what it’s like for the two of you —
Pacino: Well…

Maybe not. You’re disagreeing.
Pacino: I mean, it’s just such a different world now. Celebrity is different. And fame is, I think, sought-after more than it ever was in my lifetime. It’s sort of a cart-before-a-horse kind of thing.

Younger actors cite you guys to me, and they’ll say they admire you guys for giving less away. Like, Al, maybe you’ve done a couple of things, like a big Playboy interview, but Bob, you hardly do interviews at all.
Pacino: He used to tell it to me. He’d say, “No, I don’t need to. I’ll go to Al and talk about it.” No, I’m totally joking.

Did you have to learn that, Bob, or was that always your instinct?
De Niro: No, it’s just the way I am. I just feel a little—but I felt that you were that way too.

Pacino: I was that way. I mean, that Playboy interview, that was Larry Grobel, who I got to know. But I’ll tell you the truth, I think I did it because he did Marlon! And he did Barbra Streisand, you know? And I thought, Wow. And he came to me and I said, “Well, Marlon…” See, a lot of my influence, I don’t know about Bob, was Marlon. The way he dealt with things. He was reclusive in a way. And so I thought you don’t give that away, because that is part of what your performance art is.

De Niro: Yeah.

Read the rest of this article at: GQ


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The sidewalks of north Park Slope must be among the narrowest and most uneven in Brooklyn. They crash against the stoops of landmarked brownstones and split over the roots of oak and sycamore trees, menacing the ankles of pedestrians. Baby strollers compete for space with dogs of all sizes, shoals of high-school students, and shopping carts from the Park Slope Food Co-op. Here comes one now, rattling catastrophically, like Max Roach whaling on the high hat. It’s pushed by a Co-op member, who is accompanied by another, in an orange crossing-guard vest: a walker, in Co-op parlance, who will return the cart after the shopper has unloaded her groceries at her house or her car, or hauled them into the Grand Army Plaza subway station. It is against one of the Co-op’s many rules for the shopper to have the walker do the pushing; that’s the shopper’s responsibility. It is also against the rules to drag a walker beyond the Co-op’s strict walking bounds, though some members, when they have escaped the reach of the institutional eye, will try to get away with murder. The noblest aspirations of civilized society versus the base reality of human nature is a theme that frequently comes up at the Park Slope Food Co-op.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 11.23.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 11.23.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

HONG KONG — The students booked their tickets home at the end of the semester, hoping for a relaxing break after exams and a summer of happy reunions with family in China’s far west.

Instead, they would soon be told that their parents were gone, relatives had vanished and neighbors were missing — all of them locked up in an expanding network of detention camps built to hold Muslim ethnic minorities.

The authorities in the Xinjiang region worried the situation was a powder keg. And so they prepared.

The leadership distributed a classified directive advising local officials to corner returning students as soon as they arrived and keep them quiet. It included a chillingly bureaucratic guide for how to handle their anguished questions, beginning with the most obvious: Where is my family?

The directive was among 403 pages of internal documents that have been shared with The New York Times in one of the most significant leaks of government papers from inside China’s ruling Communist Party in decades. They provide an unprecedented inside view of the continuing clampdown in Xinjiang, in which the authorities have corralled as many as a million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and others into internment camps and prisons over the past three years.

Read the Full Document: What Chinese Officials Told Children Whose Families Were Put in Camps

The party has rejected international criticism of the camps and described them as job-training centers that use mild methods to fight Islamic extremism. But the documents confirm the coercive nature of the crackdown in the words and orders of the very officials who conceived and orchestrated it.

Even as the government presented its efforts in Xinjiang to the public as benevolent and unexceptional, it discussed and organized a ruthless and extraordinary campaign in these internal communications. Senior party leaders are recorded ordering drastic and urgent action against extremist violence, including the mass detentions, and discussing the consequences with cool detachment.

Children saw their parents taken away, students wondered who would pay their tuition and crops could not be planted or harvested for lack of manpower, the reports noted. Yet officials were directed to tell people who complained to be grateful for the Communist Party’s help and stay quiet.

The leaked papers offer a striking picture of how the hidden machinery of the Chinese state carried out the country’s most far-reaching internment campaign since the Mao era. The key disclosures in the documents include:

•President Xi Jinping, the party chief, laid the groundwork for the crackdown in a series of speeches delivered in private to officials during and after a visit to Xinjiang in April 2014, just weeks after Uighur militants stabbed more than 150 people at a train station, killing 31. Mr. Xi called for an all-out “struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism” using the “organs of dictatorship,” and showing “absolutely no mercy.”

Terrorist attacks abroad and the drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan heightened the leadership’s fears and helped shape the crackdown. Officials argued that attacks in Britain resulted from policies that put “human rights above security,” and Mr. Xi urged the party to emulate aspects of America’s “war on terror” after the Sept. 11 attacks.

•The internment camps in Xinjiang expanded rapidly after the appointment in August 2016 of Chen Quanguo, a zealous new party boss for the region. He distributed Mr. Xi’s speeches to justify the campaign and exhorted officials to “round up everyone who should be rounded up.”

•The crackdown encountered doubts and resistance from local officials who feared it would exacerbate ethnic tensions and stifle economic growth. Mr. Chen responded by purging officials suspected of standing in his way, including one county leader who was jailed after quietly releasing thousands of inmates from the camps.

The leaked papers consist of 24 documents, some of which contain duplicated material. They include nearly 200 pages of internal speeches by Mr. Xi and other leaders, and more than 150 pages of directives and reports on the surveillance and control of the Uighur population in Xinjiang. There are also references to plans to extend restrictions on Islam to other parts of China.

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

Up at the castle, in front of the cameras, the puppets were eagerly preparing for a festival. Dwarfed beneath high rows of stage lights, in front of painted trees, they bopped happily along the pretend stone wall. But there was a buzz kill: King Friday XIII, the mighty ruler in his bright purple cape, decreed that the festival would be a bass-violin festival.

“But you’re the only one who plays the bass violin,” one of the neighbors pointed out.

“Oh, so I am,” the king replied. “Well, it looks like I’ll have a very large audience.”

Fred Rogers was on his knees behind the castle, dressed all in black, working the puppets, his posture straight as a soldier’s, lips pursed tight as he voiced the king. There were cushions strewn on the floor and blocks of foam rubber taped to the parts of the castle where he tended to bonk his head. In one swift movement he crouched, slipped off the king, slid on another puppet. He shot his arm up, returned to his knees, but this time he slouched, his face softening as he voiced the meek and bashful Daniel Striped Tiger.

And so the neighbors scrambled about trying to figure out a way to be part of the festival. Stumped, and on the sly, they began to invent bass-violin acts they might contribute. One dressed up her accordion to look like a bass violin, another practiced a dance with one, another tried to turn herself into one by wearing a big fat bass-violin suit. Another, a goat, recited a bass-violin poem in goat language. (“Mehh.”)

Was this O.K.? Would the king approve?

He did. In fact, he was delighted. It turned into a most rockin’ bass-violin festival, neighbors singing and twirling with pretend and real bass violins (including a puppet holding a bass-violin puppet), around balloons with little cardboard handles taped to them to look like bass violins, to rousing bass-violin/accordion polka tunes accompanying bass-violin-inspired goat poems.

“If you didn’t know what was going on,” one of the guys on the crew said, “this could be a very weird situation.”

I appreciated that. I worked for a different department in the building, at WQED in Pittsburgh, down the hall. They had microwave popcorn in the cafeteria. To get to the popcorn you had to walk by Studio A, and there was usually the blue castle parked outside it for storage. If the castle wasn’t there, you knew they were taping inside, and sometimes you heard music. It was fun to go in and watch, if only to take in the live music, usually jazz, and to marvel at the bizarro factor. Like Fellini for preschoolers. My brother-in-law Hugh Martin had worked as director and producer of the program for a couple of years. He was long gone, had moved to New York, but he credited Fred with starting his career. Fred loved Hugh — so by association people were nice to me. It helped. I was 26, just out of grad school.

I wanted to ask Fred how he came up with the idea for goat poems. Whose day allows them to sit around thinking about accordions dressing up like bass violins? The first time I talked to him in his office, one floor up from Studio A, I tried to get him to explain. He kept turning the focus on me. It took us a while to get past the deflection match. He asked me about grad school. I hardly wanted to think about that, about the dark cloud hovering over my feelings about my time there. I asked him what he was working on. Any new scripts or songs?

He put his eyebrows up. “It’s so hard, isn’t it?” he said. “I think there are many people who bring a whole lot of baggage from their past and a whole lot of anxiety about the future to the present moment. What’s so great is that people can be in relationship with each other for the now.”

“Yeah,” I said.

“If we can somehow rid ourselves of illusions,” he said. “The illusion that we are greater or lesser than we are. The illusion that we’re going to save the world. There are a lot of illusions that people walk around with. I would love to be able to be present in every moment I have.”

I distinctly remember having little more to offer than, “Yeah.”

His office was more like a living room. No desk, just his easy chair and a soft brown couch — plus a flowering peace plant, a piece of driftwood, a miniature sandbox and other random gifts people had brought him over the years, many of which he pointed out, then told stories about the people who gave them to him.

“I think the greatest thing about things is they remind you of people,” he said.

I supposed so. And more so as I thought about it.

“I want to tell you about my tie,” he said. He lifted it up and looked at it. “Do you know what this tartan is? This tartan is the clergy tartan. I suppose if somebody were Scottish, they would recognize it. But I don’t think most people know. I wear this tie more than any other. Maybe I just feel, you know, that it represents a big part of who I am.”

Muted lavender and light blue, the clergy tartan is one traditionally worn only by people involved in ministry. Fred said it was a gift from Bill Barker, one of his closest friends and the minister who gave the charge at Fred’s ordination in the United Presbyterian Church in 1963: “We charge you to shake us through a God who involves Himself in our world, into the world where He already is. … This world of TV cameras, of puppets, of children, of parents, of studios, of directors, of actors, this [too] is God’s world. … We, as the Church, charge that you speak to us to disturb us. … We charge you to speak to us to remind us that we too, through you, must be involved.”

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

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