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News 16.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 16.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 16.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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On the day that he wrapped shooting on the second season of Ted Lasso, Jason Sudeikis sat in his trailer in West London and drank a beer and exhaled a little, and then he went to the pitch they film on for the show—Nelson Road Stadium, the characters call it—for one last game of football with his cast and crew. There’s this thing called the crossbar challenge, which figures briefly in a midseason Ted Lasso episode: You kick a ball and try to hit not the goal but the crossbar above the goal, which is only four or five inches from top to bottom. And so Sudeikis arrived and, because he can’t help himself, started trying to hit the crossbar.

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

News 16.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 16.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

I keep returning to New Year’s Day 2013.

That evening, I received an unexpected call from Ilham Tohti, an economics professor at Central Nationalities University in Beijing. After exchanging pleasantries, Ilham declared: “Xi Jinping has taken power. Things will get better for us now; don’t lose heart. Tell our other friends in Urumqi that now is the time for ”

Given the lack of transparency in Chinese politics, the political inclinations of new leaders are often a topic of intense speculation. When Xi took power, Uyghur intellectuals noted that his father, a former senior party official, had been responsible for China’s northwest, including Xinjiang, and mused that Xi might be pro-Uyghur. Liberal Han intellectuals wondered if Xi might be a closet liberal. Neither proved true.

While today it is clear how absurd it was to expect any good to come from Xi’s rise, at the time such hopes were cherished by numerous Uyghur intellectuals. These were hopes born of desperation, a battered community’s daydream of better treatment by its rulers.

I had met Ilham when I was an undergraduate and Ilham was studying for his master’s in economics. He would go on to become one of the most prominent Uyghur critics of Communist Party policy. In the mid-2000s, he founded a Chinese-language website, where he began publishing articles defending Uyghurs’ legal rights.

llham was placed under police surveillance, but he always believed that the government would not arrest or imprison him. He was, after all, a professor at a university in the national capital, and considered himself to be operating entirely within the law.

But things did not turn out as Ilham thought they would. In mid-January 2014, news of Ilham’s arrest at his Beijing apartment reached us in Urumqi. I heard from a friend that he had not been arrested by the Beijing police alone; instead, officers had arrived from Urumqi to take him away. The involvement of the Urumqi police, traveling 1,700 miles to make the arrest, meant that this was a decision made at the highest levels.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

The Balmoral in Chestnut

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Everyone knows where the happiest people in the world live—the United Nations tells us every single year. For the past several years, Finland has been ranked No. 1, sitting atop the pack of Nordic countries, which are all considered very happy. And since they’ve cracked the happiness code, as my colleague Joe Pinsker wrote recently, many of the rest of us are tempted to mimic Nordic habits. Live like a Finn—take a short walk in the forest, go ice swimming—and all will be well, right?

Not so fast. In order for the World Happiness Report and other international happiness indexes to compare self-reports of happiness, they have to assume that people around the world define happiness and answer happiness surveys in roughly the same way. If this assumption does not hold, then happiness indexes are about as reliable as a ranking of music quality based on how much residents of each country say they like their local songs. This would indicate something about each country’s enthusiasm for their musical styles, but would provide little information about what music is objectively “best,” given differences in people’s traditions and tastes.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 16.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 16.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

It arrived at the height of the pandemic, in a brown envelope with no return address and too many stamps, none of which had been marked by the post office. It was addressed to me at my parents’ New York City apartment, where I haven’t lived in more than a decade. My mother used the envelope as a notepad for a few weeks, then handed it off to me in July; it was the first time I’d seen her after months of quarantine. Inside the envelope was a small, stapled book—a pamphlet, really—titled “Foodie or The Capitalist Monsoon that is Mississippi,” by a writer named Stokes Prickett. On the cover, there was a photograph of a burrito truck and a notice that read “Advance Promotional Copy: Do Not Read.” The book began with a Cide Hamete Benengeli-style introduction attributed to a Professor Sherbert Taylor. Then a fifty-five-page bildungsroman written in short sections with boldface titles. The prose reminded me a bit of Richard Brautigan.

Because I write book reviews, dozens of unsolicited books are sent to my house every month. Many of them, I confess, barely catch my attention before they’re added to a stack on the floor. But I sat down and read this one all the way through. The narrator of “Foodie” is Rusty, who thinks back on his days in high school, when he worked as a thumbtack-maker’s apprentice, then in a floor-mat factory. Rusty meets another kid from school, an idealist called Foodie whose real name is Gourmand, and whom Rusty describes as “a tetherball champ, a king of the taco stands,” in a town “at the edge of the 8-track suburbs.” Foodie, Rusty says, “was the kindest werewolf on the warfront, and I was his hairdresser.” They start spending time with a hulking, ruthless classmate named Dale, who is “right-handed and immoral as parchment,” and fated to die young because he has a white-collar job that causes him to move through time more quickly than his friends do. After Dale’s death, Foodie and Rusty part ways.

The book was good. But who was Stokes Prickett, and how did this person get my parents’ address? Initially, I suspected a friend who was fond of pranks or an enemy who knew that I was prone to go down rabbit holes. I posted details about “Foodie” on Twitter, hoping to drum up some information. A few people told me that they had also received it—they were mostly writers, editors, and critics—but no one had a clue about what was going on. The writer Ryan Ridge pointed out that Prickett seemed to be a fan of the magazine that he edits, Juked. Several Juked contributors had received the book. I e-mailed the person who took the picture of the burrito truck, which is in the public domain. “I’d love to tell you about it,” the photographer replied, “but I have no idea what you’re talking about :).” In the introduction to “Foodie,” Sherbert Taylor writes, “I prefer to dissuade his obsessive biographers and accept that his identity is best unsought.” Perhaps the professor was right.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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News 16.07.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The last time that General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke with President Donald Trump was on January 3, 2021. The subject of the Sunday-afternoon meeting, at the White House, was Iran’s nuclear program. For the past several months, Milley had been engaged in an alarmed effort to insure that Trump did not embark on a military conflict with Iran as part of his quixotic campaign to overturn the results of the 2020 election and remain in power. The chairman secretly feared that Trump would insist on launching a strike on Iranian interests that could set off a full-blown war.

There were two “nightmare scenarios,” Milley told associates, for the period after the November 3rd election, which resulted in Trump’s defeat but not his concession: one was that Trump would try “to use the military on the streets of America to prevent the legitimate, peaceful transfer of power.” The other was an external crisis involving Iran. It was not public at the time, but Milley believed that the nation had come close—“very close”—to conflict with the Islamic Republic. This dangerous post-election period, Milley said, was all because of Trump’s “Hitler”-like embrace of the “Big Lie” that the election had been stolen from him; Milley feared it was Trump’s “Reichstag moment,” in which, like Adolf Hitler in 1933, he would manufacture a crisis in order to swoop in and rescue the nation from it.

To prevent such an outcome, Milley had, since late in 2020, been having morning phone meetings, at 8 a.m. on most days, with the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the hopes of getting the country safely through to Joe Biden’s Inauguration. The chairman, a burly four-star Army general who had been appointed to the post by Trump in 2019, referred to these meetings with his staff as the “land the plane” calls—as in, “both engines are out, the landing gear are stuck, we’re in an emergency situation. Our job is to land this plane safely and to do a peaceful transfer of power the 20th of January.”

This extraordinary confrontation between the nation’s top military official and the Commander-in-Chief had been building throughout 2020. Before the election, Milley had drafted a plan for how to handle the perilous period leading up to the Inauguration. He outlined four goals: first, to make sure that the U.S. didn’t unnecessarily go to war overseas; second, to make sure that U.S. troops were not used on the streets of America against the American people, for the purpose of keeping Trump in power; third, to maintain the military’s integrity; and, lastly, to maintain his own integrity. He referred back to them often in conversations with others.

As the crisis with Trump unfolded, and the chairman’s worst-case fears about the President not accepting defeat seemed to come true, Milley repeatedly met in private with the Joint Chiefs. He told them to make sure there were no unlawful orders from Trump and not to carry out any such orders without calling him first—almost a conscious echo of the final days of Richard Nixon, when Nixon’s Defense Secretary, James Schlesinger, reportedly warned the military not to act on any orders from the White House to launch a nuclear strike without first checking with him or with the national-security adviser, Henry Kissinger. At one meeting with the Joint Chiefs, in Milley’s Pentagon office, the chairman invoked Benjamin Franklin’s famous line, saying they should all hang together. To concerned members of Congress—including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—and also emissaries from the incoming Biden Administration, Milley also put out the word: Trump might attempt a coup, but he would fail because he would never succeed in co-opting the American military. “Our loyalty is to the U.S. Constitution,” Milley told them, and “we are not going to be involved in politics.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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