News 07.27.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 07.27.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 07.27.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 07.27.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

New York established a police department in 1844; New Orleans and Cincinnati followed in 1852, then, later in the eighteen-fifties, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Baltimore. Population growth, the widening inequality brought about by the Industrial Revolution, and the rise in such crimes as prostitution and burglary all contributed to the emergence of urban policing. So did immigration, especially from Ireland and Germany, and the hostility to immigration: a new party, the Know-Nothings, sought to prevent immigrants from voting, holding office, and becoming citizens. In 1854, Boston disbanded its ancient watch and formally established a police department; that year, Know-Nothings swept the city’s elections.

American police differed from their English counterparts: in the U.S., police commissioners, as political appointees, fell under local control, with limited supervision; and law enforcement was decentralized, resulting in a jurisdictional thicket. In 1857, in the Great Police Riot, the New York Municipal Police, run by the mayor’s office, fought on the steps of city hall with the New York Metropolitan Police, run by the state. The Metropolitans were known as the New York Mets. That year, an amateur baseball team of the same name was founded.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 07.27.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 07.27.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In the mid-nineteen-seventies, the West German Army, the Bundeswehr, built a vast underground bunker near the town of Traben-Trarbach. It was five stories deep, had nearly sixty thousand square feet of floor space, and was designed to withstand a nuclear attack. Eighty days’ worth of survival provisions were stored inside, including an emergency power supply and more than a million litres of drinking water. You entered the facility through an air lock; the interior temperature was set to seventy degrees. The walls were concrete, thirty-one inches thick, and some were lined with copper. The rooms were soundproof and transmission-proof. Between 1978 and 2012, the bunker was the headquarters of the Bundeswehr’s meteorological division, and at any one time about three hundred and fifty civilian contractors worked there; most of them focussed on predicting and plotting weather patterns wherever the German military was deployed. New employees often got lost. On each level, the walls were painted a different color, to help people orient themselves—but the bunker was symmetrical, so one side looked much like another. There was no natural light. In winter, workers on day shifts arrived in the dark and left in the dark.

In 2012, the Bundeswehr moved its meteorological division to another site. Germany’s federal real-estate agency, known as BImA, listed the bunker for three hundred and fifty thousand euros. The low price reflected the unusual nature of the property and the expense of maintaining it. The bunker sat beneath a plot of some thirty acres, in a forested area on a hill outside Traben-Trarbach, which is an hour east of the Belgian border. The perimeter of the property was marked by ramparts and a fence, and aboveground the site contained several large structures, including a gatehouse, an office building, a tall aerial with satellite dishes, a helipad, and barracks constructed by the Nazis in 1933. The Bundeswehr had employed twelve men, who worked in shifts around the clock, solely to insure that the bunker was properly ventilated and did not flood. The German government hoped that a technology business, or perhaps a hotel, might want the premises, but there were few prospective buyers.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker


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The owners of a laundry shop in central Taiwan have become Instagram stars for posing in garments left behind.

Chang Wan-ji, right, and Hsu Sho-er run a laundromat in Taichung, Taiwan. They are also an Instagram hit.Credit…Reef Chang

TAICHUNG, Taiwan — At Wansho Laundry in central Taiwan, most dirty clothes dropped off to be steamed or washed or dry-cleaned end up right back in the hands of their rightful owners, cleaner than when they arrived.

Abandoned garments, however, can end up on Instagram.

The blouses and skirts and trousers adorn the bodies of the laundry’s octogenarian owners, Chang Wan-ji and Hsu Sho-er, who have become globally famous for modeling outfits curated from the hundreds of forgotten items left behind by absent-minded customers.

No one is more shocked than their 31-year-old grandson and unofficial stylist, Reef Chang, by the couple’s newfound fame. “I was really surprised,” the younger Mr. Chang said recently. “I had no idea so many foreigners would take interest in my grandparents.”

He originally came up with the idea for the Instagram account, he said. Their business had slowed during the coronavirus pandemic, and his grandparents were wary about going outside even as Taiwan took highly effective measures to fight the virus. With nearly 24 million people, Taiwan has reported only 458 cases, 55 local transmissions and seven deaths.

“They had nothing to do,” he said. “I saw how bored they were and wanted to brighten up their lives.”

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

News 07.27.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 07.27.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

On 11 April 2015, Ella Parry stood beside her small pink car, outside her council flat in Shrewsbury, watching the road. She was waiting for her mother to drop off her 17-year-old sister, Becky. The sisters were planning to go shopping together in Chester.

“Ella got into her car as we arrived, so I just caught a glimpse of her,” recalled her mother, Fiona Parry. “The sun was shining and Ella was smiling.” Ella was 21, tall and slim, with choppy blond hair. That day, as always, she wore full makeup – pale foundation, red lips, black Amy Winehouse-style eyeliner. Parry waved as they drove off. She would never see Ella alive again.

Since her early teens, Ella had been troubled. “She began to be unhappy about who she was, and it escalated,” said Parry. There were constant rows at home, she was excluded from school a few times for disruptive behaviour, and on one occasion the police were called after she tried to set fire to a building. At 17, Ella left home, and referred herself to social services. She was given accommodation and referred for mental-health assessment. She was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, characterised by emotional instability.

She was also, however, potentially brilliant. After she left home she did A-levels and went on to university. She seemed to be finding her direction in life: she worked as a “young health champion” on a project for vulnerable 11- to 18-year-olds. An NHS manager who worked with her described her as “incredibly talented”. “Everyone gravitated towards Ella, with her punky hair that was sometimes pink and that she wore sometimes with flowers in it,” said Karen Higgins, who met Ella in 2013 while on secondment to lead a project with Shropshire Youth Services. “She really understood young people and she had so much time and compassion for them.”

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

News 07.27.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

EARLY IN 2019, a year before the world shut its borders completely, Jorge A. knew he had to get out of Guatemala. The land was turning against him. For five years, it almost never rained. Then it did rain, and Jorge rushed his last seeds into the ground. The corn sprouted into healthy green stalks, and there was hope — until, without warning, the river flooded. Jorge waded chest-deep into his fields searching in vain for cobs he could still eat. Soon he made a last desperate bet, signing away the tin-roof hut where he lived with his wife and three children against a $1,500 advance in okra seed. But after the flood, the rain stopped again, and everything died. Jorge knew then that if he didn’t get out of Guatemala, his family might die, too.

Even as hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans fled north toward the United States in recent years, in Jorge’s region — a state called Alta Verapaz, where precipitous mountains covered in coffee plantations and dense, dry forest give way to broader gentle valleys — the residents have largely stayed. Now, though, under a relentless confluence of drought, flood, bankruptcy and starvation, they, too, have begun to leave. Almost everyone here experiences some degree of uncertainty about where their next meal will come from. Half the children are chronically hungry, and many are short for their age, with weak bones and bloated bellies. Their families are all facing the same excruciating decision that confronted Jorge.

The odd weather phenomenon that many blame for the suffering here — the drought and sudden storm pattern known as El Niño — is expected to become more frequent as the planet warms. Many semiarid parts of Guatemala will soon be more like a desert. Rainfall is expected to decrease by 60% in some parts of the country, and the amount of water replenishing streams and keeping soil moist will drop by as much as 83%. Researchers project that by 2070, yields of some staple crops in the state where Jorge lives will decline by nearly a third.

Scientists have learned to project such changes around the world with surprising precision, but — until recently — little has been known about the human consequences of those changes. As their land fails them, hundreds of millions of people from Central America to Sudan to the Mekong Delta will be forced to choose between flight or death. The result will almost certainly be the greatest wave of global migration the world has seen.

In March, Jorge and his 7-year-old son each packed a pair of pants, three T-shirts, underwear and a toothbrush into a single thin black nylon sack with a drawstring. Jorge’s father had pawned his last four goats for $2,000 to help pay for their transit, another loan the family would have to repay at 100% interest. The coyote called at 10 p.m. — they would go that night. They had no idea then where they would wind up, or what they would do when they got there.

From decision to departure, it was three days. And then they were gone.

FOR MOST OF HUMAN history, people have lived within a surprisingly narrow range of temperatures, in the places where the climate supported abundant food production. But as the planet warms, that band is suddenly shifting north. According to a pathbreaking recent study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the planet could see a greater temperature increase in the next 50 years than it did in the last 6,000 years combined. By 2070, the kind of extremely hot zones, like in the Sahara, that now cover less than 1% of the earth’s land surface could cover nearly a fifth of the land, potentially placing 1 of every 3 people alive outside the climate niche where humans have thrived for thousands of years. Many will dig in, suffering through heat, hunger and political chaos, but others will be forced to move on. A 2017 study in Science Advances found that by 2100, temperatures could rise to the point that just going outside for a few hours in some places, including parts of India and Eastern China, “will result in death even for the fittest of humans.”

Read the rest of this article at: ProPublica

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