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In the News 04.20.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 04.20.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@songofstyle
In the News 04.20.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@mireia_gracia_
In the News 04.20.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@ironnsalt

How To Get Rich Quick In Silicon Valley

It’s lunchtime on a Tuesday, and the kids are piling into a pizzeria booth in Coral Springs, Fla., to plot a revolution. “The adults know that we’re cleaning up their mess,” says Cameron Kasky, an 11th-grader at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who started the #NeverAgain movement to curb gun violence three weeks earlier in his living room. “It’s like they’re saying, ‘I’m sorry I made this mess,’” adds buzzcut senior Emma González, “while continuing to spill soda on the floor.”

Kasky and González are sitting with two more of the movement’s leaders, Alex Wind and Jaclyn Corin. Except they’re not sitting, exactly. They’re crouching diagonally on the seat and leaning back on one another’s knees in order to devour their calzones while maintaining as much physical contact as possible. Corin throws a crouton into González’s mouth. Kasky uses Corin’s knees as a pillow. The conversation turns from their fellow organizer David Hogg (“So laser-focused,” González says, that “he could make his body get pregnant if he wanted to”) to the conspiracy theory that they’re actors being paid by shadowy donors (prompting Kasky to ask why his credit card was recently declined at McDonald’s) to their prolific trolling of the NRA. They agree that the gun lobby’s spokeswoman, Dana Loesch, is “very hot but kind of scary,” as González puts it.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

Germany And Immigration: The Changing Face Of The Country

10.04.2018Spieler des augsburger FuÃballvereins "TSV Kriegshaber Augsburg" zu besuch beim  lokalen "Plärrer" Volksfest.

Fessler is angry about the stress it has caused him, especially because of the feeling he has that no one is willing to help him in this difficult situation. He says that, not too long ago, when his wife tried to take out the trash, a group of men stood in her way and spit in her face. “We were panicked that she might have caught something,” Fessler says. He also claims that another man groped his daughter’s genitals as she was going to the mailbox, but neighbors intervened. When Fessler travels for business, his wife and daughter now stay in a hotel or with their grandmother. “We’re afraid,” he says.

The businessman has pursued several possible solutions. He wrote the word “city” in Arabic on a sign in an effort to redirect hostel residents onto a different route into town. But local authorities told him that doing so wasn’t allowed. He also hoped that the city would build a new sidewalk along the main road so that they wouldn’t all have to walk past his home. But the municipal council rejected the idea almost unanimously. The council, said an SPD politician, didn’t want to “send a message of exclusion and racism.”

“Of course,” Fessler says. “They also don’t have a single African walking past their homes.” Fessler used to be a member of the CDU but he left the party in protest against Merkel’s refugee policies. In the last election, he cast his ballot for the AfD. “I am a protest voter,” he says.

Fessler isn’t the only former CDU voter to have turned his back on the center-right party. Many have done so for reasons relating more to a feeling of cultural alienation than to the absolute number of immigrants taken in by Germany. They were concerned about excessive immigration, but they also felt shut out by a societal expectation that they view the newcomers as a benefit to the country.

The legacy of the 1968 generation, the changing role of women, the acceptance of homosexuality, the multicultural ideal: To voters like Fessler, such ideas make their homeland feel just as foreign as do minarets and women wearing headscarves. With the CDU following Merkel to the center, they lost their political home as well. The further to the left Merkel led the party, the further to the right one element of society drifted.

Read the rest of this article at: Spiegel

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

Shop the Tuscany Tote in Midnight
at Belgrave Crescent & shop.thisisglamorous.com

How Janelle Monáe Found Her Voice

On a hot December afternoon, the sky hazy from wildfires that raged just beyond the Los Angeles city limits, a handful of people gathered outside a nondescript Super 8 motel off Sunset Boulevard. Nearly all were dressed head to toe in black: elegant crepe shirts, fitted leather pants, wide-brimmed hats. The group made their way inside to the Girl at the White Horse, a discreet bar nestled in the space below the motel. Here, the air was still hazy — the synthetic kind, from a machine — and lights tinted the room pink and red, colors of the heart. Low vibrational tones, not unlike those coaxed out of Tibetan singing bowls, droned in the background. Most of the invitees worked for radio stations, record labels or awards shows, and while they waited, they ordered cocktails created for the event: “Pynk” (rosé, gin, aperol and grapefruit) or “Screwed” (pineapple-infused tequila, lime, agave with a touch of pepper).

As the sounds faded, the guests turned their attention to the eight women marching into the bar. Each wore aviators, leather jackets over black bodysuits and brightly colored tights. They struck dramatic poses — an arm flung over an eye, a hand on a cocked hip, a leg held askew — and paused as the singer Janelle Monáe strolled into the room and took her place in the middle. She was dressed in a studded motorcycle jacket over a white crop top, black palazzo pants, suspenders, a derby wool hat and mirrored sunglasses. A navel-length ombré rattail snaked over her shoulder. For a moment, she stood perfectly still, letting the room drink her in.

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

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The Mystery Of The Killer Vacation

Now Smith was making good on all that dreaming. After that first message, which arrived in June 2010, other missives from abroad began tumbling in. Typically short and riddled with typos, the e-mails glamorized Smith’s new vagabond life. He sent his brother, Paul, a picture of the Playmate and a quick note: “This is the girl I am with.” On July 10, Smith e-mailed that he had visited the Galápagos, Peru, and Chile and announced that he planned to hit 25 more islands. “I love it down here, might never come back,” he wrote in an August 4 e-mail. “HA. Just kidding.”

A few weeks later, though, an e-mail sent to his parents, Steve and Debi, abruptly struck a darker tone. Smith wrote that he was thinking of doing “the unspeakable.” A month later, the family’s anxiety cranked up when they received a similarly alarming note. Smith wrote that he was feeling bad, taking drugs, and thinking again about killing himself.

Chris had never before mentioned suicidal thoughts, so the messages were hard to digest. But Paul knew the sort of pressure that his brother had been under before the trip, as he had been finalizing the buyout of his company. Smith feared being sued. And he worried that the IRS was going to pounce for back taxes. Paul had initially figured that his brother’s trip meant he was beyond all that—that Chris, as he says, was able to “just throw all the stress in a bucket and say, ‘I’m done with it. I’m out.’ “

But now the suicide threats made clear that Smith’s Playmate vacation wasn’t turning out to be the cure he’d hoped for. And maybe his problems were bigger than anyone knew. “It felt like he was going off the deep end,” Paul says. “Something was very wrong.”

Business problems or not, fleeing for some tropical Eden had long been Smith’s plan. “He was always trying to figure out ways to make enough money to leave the United States,” says one of his best friends, Grady Jackson.

Jackson and Smith had grown up together near Santa Cruz, California, where Smith had gotten good enough at wakeboarding to compete professionally. But water felt like concrete when you crashed on it at 60 miles per hour, and after Smith blew out his Achilles tendon, he decided to retire. The goal was clear for Smith, but a financial game plan was elusive. By 2004, he was crashing on Jackson’s couch, driving a Honda CRX and pining for a Ferrari. He liked to surf and party, but he was determined to not become just another beach burnout. Instead, he worked long days and late nights pursuing his dream: to become a technology entrepreneur.

When a rich friend told him that he owned a warehouse full of unwanted junk, Smith came up with the idea to start selling what he could at a flea market. While hardly the seeds of the next Google, the business inspired Smith to launch a site called Localprofit.com, a search engine for wholesale shoppers that, at its peak in 2006, netted him $72,000 in a single month. Around the same time, Smith also created a social network for surfers called Swellster. The site never got much traction, but pursuing tech riches spurred Smith to move to southern California and to start making connections in advertising and marketing. Finally, in 2008, Smith met a man named Edward Shin, who would become his business partner and the missing key to the fortune Smith sought.

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

We Don’t Have Elections

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Last week, during Mark Zuckerberg’s painfully unconvincing simulation of humanity before the U.S. Congress, Senator Ted Cruz led the charge in accusing Facebook of harboring the disease known as liberalism. The singularly obnoxious gentleman from Texas said that Facebook displayed “a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship”—notably against the pro-Trump YouTube personalities Diamond and Silk, who, based on their prominence in an otherwise unremarkable set of hearings, seem to be among the best represented constituents in America. Because Facebook must maintain a patina of ideological neutrality, Zuckerberg took Cruz’s admonishment in stride. “I understand where that concern is coming from,” Zuck said, “because Facebook and the tech industry are located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place.”

To some, Zuckerberg’s admission—there be lefties in them hills—might seem like a CEO prostrating himself before a committee that, however blatantly incompetent, still retains some political power. ThinkProgress accused Zuck of “pandering” to the execrable Cruz. For the right-wing chest-thumpers of The Federalist, though, the exchange was practically mortal combat. Cruz “savaged” Zuckerberg, the site crowed, “making the Silicon Valley billionaire squirm.”

In fact, the brief spat was, like the rest of the hearings, dead on arrival, not even rising to the level of theater. But Zuckerberg did reveal something about Facebook’s self-image, about how the company tries to carefully triangulate its position so that it stands firmly in the Overton window of acceptable opinion. The truth is that while tech giants act with an authoritarian indifference toward their citizen-consumers, it’s increasingly important they are seen as liberal. These are self-endowed nation-states whose CEOs meet with world leaders like Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. And like bin Salman, our tech CEOs see the trappings of representative democracy as a kind of aesthetic, a pose to be trotted out when it serves a certain public image. They may speak of connection and community and the rights of users, but all this is belied by their behavior, which is conditioned by ruthlessness.

It should shock no one if Facebook emerges from its latest privacy imbroglio with a meager fine and a promise to do better—even as our elected leaders, whose lack of knowledge of Facebook’s workings reflected their advanced age, tut-tutted that this time Facebook has to do better. The canon of American regulatory practices tends toward the ceremonial, with extreme deference shown toward corporations that may one day hire former regulators. Senator Lindsey Graham even invited Zuckerberg to submit possible regulations—an example of regulatory capture so blatant that “corruption” doesn’t even seem like the proper word. Playing along, Zuckerberg expressed an openness to regulation, though he asked for a light touch, which, barring another data spillage, he should expect. Beyond a few mild critiques, Congress’s overriding opinion of Zuck seems to be that he was a classic American success story, and perhaps—in his cunning acquisition of ungodly riches on the backs of others’ labor—he is.

While tech giants act with an authoritarian indifference toward their citizen-consumers, it’s increasingly important they are seen as liberal.

To better understand Silicon Valley’s politics, we might return to the nation-state metaphor and consider technology companies as recently ascendant great powers. Endowed with impressive resources, making themselves known in assorted global capitals, their CEOs are greeted in the manner of heads of state. Their vast offshore cash reserves resemble sovereign wealth funds, whose investments have the power to shape politics. In 2016, Zuckerberg met with bin Salman—a distinction that would later be afforded to Jeff Bezos, who plans to build data centers in the theocratic desert kingdom. A meme circulating on Twitter captured the Zuck/bin Salman relationship: the two, barely a year apart in age and dressed informally, stand laughing. Zuckerberg asks, “Do you want data on Saudi users?” bin Salman replies, “Thanks habibi we don’t have elections.”

Facebook doesn’t hold elections either, though it once did, claiming that its users could vote on site policies. Of course, these exercises in democratic governance went nowhere and were eventually discontinued. But the company—and its CEO, who controls a majority of voting shares—still presents itself as a benevolent guardian of its users. Like the Saudi prince, it only wants to do best by its people.

Read the rest of this article at: The Baffler

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.