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News 01.06.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 01.06.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 01.06.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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Nora Ephron invented fall. A sweeping generalization, of course, a wild assertion, to assign an entire cinematic season to one filmmaker, as if many others haven’t done it equal amounts of justice, as if other seasons cease to exist in Ephron’s films. Okay, an adjustment: Nora Ephron invented fall in New York. Still a reach? Maybe. But when you think about fall on film, chances are you think of Nora Ephron, and when you think about the films of Nora Ephron, it’s pretty likely you’ll think about fall.1 See what I mean?

I’ve spent 10 falls in New York, a number I believe is large enough to finally grant me permission to officially call myself a New Yorker. Each of these falls—when the air turns crisp and store windows begin to fill with leather jackets and wool sweaters in varying shades of reds and oranges and browns—I swear that this will be the year I buy my Sally Albright Outfit. And each year I fail, surprised to find that it’s suddenly November and there are no slacks hanging in my closet, or quirky printed turtlenecks, and that it’s too cold to stroll the city in nothing heavier than a herringbone blazer. Still, each year, I walk or run through Central Park multiple times a week, consistently marveling at its beauty as if for the first time, stopping to take photos of changing leaves as if I have never once seen foliage. But even at its best, it never looks quite as good as it does in When Harry Met Sally. The trees are never so perfectly uniform orange, never so vibrant all at the same time without a few still-green stragglers. The paths are never that absent of tourists, the dead leaves never that thick and crunchy under your feet. The autumnal park on display in When Harry Met Sally is, if not a version of the city I arrived too late to witness, then perhaps one that even in its own time was more of a dream-like version, a Facetuned glow up, a Ludwig filter on reality.

Read the rest of this article at: Bright Wall/Dark Room

News 01.06.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 01.06.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

ALMATY — China has built more than 100 new facilities in Xinjiang where it can not only lock people up, but also force them to work in dedicated factory buildings right on site, BuzzFeed News can reveal based on government records, interviews, and hundreds of satellite images.

In August, BuzzFeed News uncovered hundreds of compounds in Xinjiang bearing the hallmarks of prisons or detention camps, many built during the last three years in a rapid escalation of China’s campaign against Muslim minorities including Uighurs, Kazakhs, and others. A new analysis shows that at least 135 of these compounds also hold factory buildings. Forced labor on a vast scale is almost certainly taking place inside facilities like these, according to researchers and interviews with former detainees.

Factories across Xinjiang — both inside and outside the camps — tend to share similar characteristics. They are typically long and rectangular, and their metal roofs are usually brightly colored — often blue, sometimes red. In contrast to the masonry and concrete of typical detention buildings, the factories have steel frames, which can be erected within as little as a month. The steel frame is sturdy enough to hold the roof without interior columns, leaving more space inside for large machinery or assembly lines. Some of the biggest factory buildings have strips of skylights to let light in.

Collectively, the factory facilities identified by BuzzFeed News cover more than 21 million square feet — nearly four times the size of the Mall of America. (Ford’s historic River Rouge Complex in Dearborn, Michigan, once the largest industrial complex in the world, is 16 million square feet.)

And they are growing in a way that mirrors the rapid expansion of the mass detention campaign, which has ensnared more than 1 million people since it began in 2016. Fourteen million square feet of new factories were built in 2018 alone.

Two former detainees told BuzzFeed News they had worked in factories while they were detained. One of them, Gulzira Auelhan, said she and other women traveled by bus to a factory where they would sew gloves. Asked if she was paid, she simply laughed.

Read the rest of this article at: BuzzFeed

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FACTS ARE STUBBORN things. And that stubbornness was a vital asset for Wikipedia in 2020, as it unapologetically banned from its pages disinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic and the presidential election. The contrast was sharp with global digital platforms like Facebook and YouTube, which slowlyand often ineffectually, responded to false political and scientific claims living on their servers.

Yet as Wikipedia begins a new year with a burnished reputation as a trusted, fact-based resource, it faces thorny questions beyond accuracy that threaten its grand, encyclopedic mission: Can the community of editors and administrators who collect and present the facts become as sturdy and reliable as the facts themselves? The fear is that unless Wikipedia diversifies its editing ranks, it will be unable to produce the needed context, proportionality, fairness, and imagination to accurately collect the world’s knowledge.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

News 01.06.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 01.06.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Sandy Gray was fishing in the peat-black waters of Loch Ness when he discovered an unusual animal. It was a sleety Saturday in March 1932, and the animal was a large, elaborately colored bird with a glossy green head, a fan of coppery-red plumes, and a dark-metallic breast. Sandy spent much of his free time on the loch (the Scottish word for “lake”) and knew that this creature was a rare discovery. The bird was badly injured; it appeared to have been shot or trapped. Sandy, a bus driver from the tiny loch-side village of Foyers, attempted to save it. He took it home but could only keep it alive for a few days. After it died, Sandy took it to the nearby town of Inverness to have it identified.

The bird, according to the Inverness librarian, was a mandarin duck. It was native to Asia and entirely alien to Loch Ness, which carves a glaciated furrow through the rugged splendor of the Scottish Highlands. It seemed that the duck had escaped or otherwise been released from captivity into an unfamiliar habitat. Sandy’s remarkable find was reported in newspapers across Scotland. “Beautiful Visitor to Loch Ness,” read one headline.

It was not the last time Sandy Gray would be in the papers for an unusual encounter at Loch Ness.

lexander “Sandy” Gray was born within sight of the loch on March 28, 1900. He grew up in Foyers, midway along the southeastern shore, in a secluded home known as the Bungalow. His father, Hugh, was a foreman at the British Aluminium Works smelting plant, which was hydroelectric-powered by the dramatic 140-foot cascade of the Falls of Foyers. The stone gable–fronted plant employed several hundred workers, and since opening in 1896 it had transformed Foyers from a tiny sheep-farming community, where many residents spoke the Scots Gaelic language, into an expanding industrial village.

The Bungalow was a large green-painted wood and corrugated-tin structure surrounded by well-kept lawns, rose beds and vegetable patches. Set in trees behind the plant, it had separate dwellings for family and for lodgers, and it became a hostel for plant workers. It also had a large room known as the Bungalow Hall, where Sandy’s mother, Janet, hosted tea parties for the local community and his father hosted temperance meetings. The Bungalow Hall also served as Foyers’ church and schoolhouse before the villagers built dedicated buildings.

Sandy and his younger brother, Hugh Jr., or Hughie, sang in the church choir and attended Sunday school together. Foyers was an idyllic place to grow up, where the local children enjoyed adventures in the forests, by the shore, and on the water. The boys had three young sisters, Bessie, Anne and Mary, though Anne, the middle sister, died in infancy in 1905. There were other tragedies in Foyers. Aluminum smelting was a new and dangerous process, and an explosion killed one young man and seriously injured several others at the works. And inside the rubble-stone plant, amid the volcanic heat of the smelting furnaces, the then-underestimated threat of toxic aluminum dust lingered in the air.

The village’s favorable location provided direct access to the loch, and salmon and trout were bountiful in the murky freshwater. Many of the villagers were keen shore and boat fishermen.

Read the rest of this article at: Narritively

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News 01.06.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

They came to Dubrovnik by cruise ship or Ryanair — members of a new hypermobile class of tourist, who traveled for cheap and didn’t stay long. They’d seen its walled Old Town on “Game of Thrones,” and they wanted to be there themselves, so they went. Venice, Barcelona, certain beaches in Thailand — these places had all faced their own “overtouristing” problems, but even by this standard, Dubrovnik was extreme. On busy days, tourists could outnumber permanent Old Town residents about 6 to 1. With a main thoroughfare less than a thousand feet long, this pressure on the city’s charm was overwhelming. By 2017, tourism had so overburdened the Old Town that UNESCO was threatening to revoke its World Heritage status. Mayor Mato Frankovic set out to save his city by sabotage, capping passage through the gates at 4,000 daily visitors and functionally banning new restaurants. Nevertheless, the tourists kept coming.

But then, around March 2020, they stopped. After the Diamond Princess debacle, no more cruise ships appeared in the port. Airplanes were grounded, then took flight again — ending an age of quick and easy travel and ushering in a new, slower one. Pandemic travel was arduous and impeded by knotty, sometimes contradictory governmental guidelines. To travel under these conditions required an unhinged urge to take flight and a bureaucrat’s eye for parsing fine print. Brian Kelly, the founder of a website called The Points Guy, had both — plus a few million unused frequent-flier miles. This was how, on Saturday, Aug. 7, he found himself heading from New York to Dubrovnik, to see the walled city with nobody there.

His trip began at 2 p.m. the day before, with an express nasal swab at NYU Langone Medical Center. Travelers arriving in Croatia were at that time required to present a negative coronavirus test no more than 48 hours old. Between test-processing time and travel time, the tight window posed a logistical challenge. But Kelly, as the face of the world’s most popular credit-card rewards blog, had plenty of experience interpreting strict guidelines. For 10 years, readers had come to his site for help turning terms of service into free trips. In this way, the pandemic was another day at work. That afternoon, he posted footage of his nasal swab to Instagram. Nine hours later, he shared his results: negative.

The following evening, he arrived at J.F.K. ready to board a Virgin Atlantic flight to London. The business-class ticket cost him 57,500 miles, plus $724 cash. He eased his way through the TSA PreCheck line and signed into the Delta Sky Club lounge. (The airline, he knew, had a partnership with Virgin.) A bartender announced the evening special: 10,000 points for a bottle of Dom Pérignon. On that day, The Points Guy — which publishes monthly cash valuations of the top 45 rewards currencies — had Delta miles trading at 1.1 cent each. Kelly did a quick calculation in his head: The deal was worth about $110. The same bottle of Dom at a restaurant might go for $250, or more. He ordered the Champagne.

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

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