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In the News 11.07.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 11.07.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 11.07.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 11.07.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Chilcot Report on Iraq War Offers Devastating Critique of Tony Blair

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LONDON — On July 28, 2002, roughly eight months before the American-led invasion of Iraq, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain sent President George W. Bush a personal note that alarmed some of Mr. Blair’s top national security aides — and was greeted with relief in Washington.

“I will be with you, whatever,” Mr. Blair wrote, in what appeared to be a blanket promise of British support if the United States went to war to topple Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi leader. Getting rid of Mr. Hussein was “the right thing to do,” Mr. Blair wrote, predicting that “his departure would free up the region.”

Fourteen years later, Mr. Blair’s pledge was revealed publicly on Wednesday as part of a voluminous, seven-year official investigation into how and why Britain went to war in Iraq.

The main conclusions in the report, by the independent Iraq Inquiry Committee, were familiar: that Britain, like the United States, used flawed intelligence to justify the invasion, that Iraq posed no immediate national security threat, that the allies acted militarily before all diplomatic options had been exhausted and that there was a lack of planning for what would happen once Mr. Hussein was removed.

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times

A Better Kind Of Happiness

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Nearly two and a half millennia ago, Aristotle triggered a revolution in happiness. At the time, Greek philosophers were trying hard to define precisely what this state of being was. Some contended that it sprang from hedonism, the pursuit of sensual pleasure. Others argued from the perspective of tragedy, believing happiness to be a goal, a final destination that made the drudge of life worthwhile. These ideas are still with us today, of course, in the decadence of Instagram and gourmet-burger culture or the Christian notion of heaven. But Aristotle proposed a third option. In his Nicomachean Ethics, he described the idea of eudaemonic happiness, which said, essentially, that happiness was not merely a feeling, or a golden promise, but a practice. “It’s living in a way that fulfills our purpose,” Helen Morales, a classicist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told me. “It’s flourishing. Aristotle was saying, ‘Stop hoping for happiness tomorrow. Happiness is being engaged in the process.’ ” Now, thousands of years later, evidence that Aristotle may have been onto something has been detected in the most surprising of places: the human genome.

Read the rest of this article at The New Yorker

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Shop The Le Marais Mini Bucket Bag in Bruyère at Belgrave Crescent & This Is Glamorous – The Shop

The Power of Altruism

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Western society is built on the assumption that people are fundamentally selfish. Machiavelli and Hobbes gave us influential philosophies built on human selfishness. Sigmund Freud gave us a psychology of selfishness. Children, he wrote, “are completely egoistic; they feel their needs intensely and strive ruthlessly to satisfy them.”

Classical economics adopts a model that says people are primarily driven by material self-interest. Political science assumes that people are driven to maximize their power.

But this worldview is clearly wrong. In real life, the push of selfishness is matched by the pull of empathy and altruism. This is not Hallmark card sentimentalism but scientific fact: As babies our neural connections are built by love and care. We have evolved to be really good at cooperation and empathy. We are strongly motivated to teach and help others.

As Matthieu Ricard notes in his rigorous book “Altruism,” if an 18-month-old sees a man drop a clothespin she will move to pick it up and hand it back to him within five seconds, about the same amount of time it takes an adult to offer assistance. If you reward a baby with a gift for being kind, the propensity to help will decrease, in some studies by up to 40 percent.

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times

Walking While Black

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My love for walking started in childhood, out of necessity. No thanks to a stepfather with heavy hands, I found every reason to stay away from home and was usually out—at some friend’s house or at a street party where no minor should be—until it was too late to get public transportation. So I walked.

The streets of Kingston, Jamaica, in the 1980s were often terrifying—you could, for instance, get killed if a political henchman thought you came from the wrong neighborhood, or even if you wore the wrong color. Wearing orange showed affiliation with one political party and green with the other, and if you were neutral or traveling far from home you chose your colors well. The wrong color in the wrong neighborhood could mean your last day. No wonder, then, that my friends and the rare nocturnal passerby declared me crazy for my long late-night treks that traversed warring political zones. (And sometimes I did pretend to be crazy, shouting non sequiturs when I passed through especially dangerous spots, such as the place where thieves hid on the banks of a storm drain. Predators would ignore or laugh at the kid in his school uniform speaking nonsense.)

Read the rest of this article at Literary Hub

Simone Biles’ Mental Gymnastics

Any elite athlete is under pressure to excel. Simone Biles is under pressure to be inevitable.

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At 9 a.m. on a Wednesday in January, 18-year-old Simone Biles was dancing in the middle of World Champions Centre in Spring, Texas, but no music was playing. Clad in black spandex shorts and a hoodie — all Nike, her corporate sponsor — the three-time world gymnastics champion was going through the motions of her new floor routine as Dominic Zito, the national team choreographer, stood on the sidelines, watching her as she sashayed across the mat.

Biles was the only athlete practicing in the 56,000-square-foot facility that was being built by the world champion’s family. I had twice driven past a nondescript side door, which was functioning temporarily as the gym entrance, before I realized that it was the only way in. The front of the building, which now holds offices and a pro shop, was still under construction.

It was finally time for Biles to try the routine with the music. She stripped off her hoodie, revealing a racer-back tank top underneath. In the leotards she normally performs in, even sleeveless ones, you don’t see the shoulder blades. You can’t see the finer points of her strength, how she lifts her arms, activating all of the muscles in her back. All you can see are her impressive arms and shoulders, which are cut, defined, wide, tapering down into her no-hipped lower body.

Zito hit play on his laptop, and Brazilian music blared from speakers. The selection was the first indication that the long-awaited Olympic year had finally arrived. In 2012, Gabby Douglas arrived in London expecting to do well, but she wasn’t the standout favorite. If she hadn’t won the gold, it’s unlikely it would have been seen as a shocking upset.

The same can’t be said for Biles, who turned 19 in March. Since she aged into the senior ranks in 2013, Biles has broken or tied every record in women’s gymnastics and has been called the “most talented gymnast ever.” In 2015, she became the first woman to win three consecutive world all-around titles. That was also the same year she broke the record for most gold medals won by a female gymnast in a world championship competition. For Biles, going to the Olympics is not so much about winning as it is not losing the gold.

Today, she and her coaches are trying to crack an impossible-seeming question: How do you end the floor routine of one of the greatest athletes of all-time? What pose can possibly say all of that?

Zito told me that he was under orders from national team coordinator Martha Karolyi to create “something sexier” for the gymnast. When Biles first burst onto the scene in 2013, she was just shy of 16 with a mouth full of braces. But she will be 19 in Rio. Cute isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Read the rest of this article at Buzzfeed

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @freyaeverafter_, @clausdalby, @vendelasvensson