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News 12.14.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 12.14.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@carnivala
News 12.14.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
One King's Lane
News 12.14.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@vogueliving_us

99 Good News Stories You Probably Didn’t Hear About In 2018

For the last 12 months, the global media has been focused on a lot of bad news. But there were other things happening out there too. Good news stories that didn’t make it onto the evening broadcasts, or your social media feeds.

We spent the year collecting them, in our ongoing mission to stop the fear virus in its tracks. Enjoy.

Read the rest of this article at: Future Crunch

News 12.14.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Unbelievable Tale Of A Fake Hitman, A Kill List, A Darknet Vigilante… And A Murder

News 12.14.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

I did not know Bryan Njoroge. I had never met him, talked to him, or encountered him online. In ordinary circumstances, I would have never heard of his death, more than 6,500 kilometres away. Yet in late June 2018, a message arrived in my inbox. Its subject read: “Suicide (or Murder)?” The email contained a link to a webpage showing unequivocally that someone wanted Bryan dead.

On May 29, a person calling themselves Toonbib had exchanged messages with someone they thought was a Mafia capo renting hitmen on the dark web. Toonbib had sent a picture of Njoroge in a suit, lifted from a school yearbook, and an address in Indiana where Njoroge – a soldier, who usually resided at a military base in Kentucky – would stay for a few days. “He will only be in location from june 01 2018- june 11,” Toonbib wrote. They paid about $5,500 in bitcoin for the hit.

The day after, Toonbib started chasing the presumed capo for an answer, which took some more time to arrive. “I will assign an operative to your job and it will be done in about a week, is this ok? I will get back to you shortly with an estimated date,” the capo wrote on June 1. Toonbib never answered. On June 9, Bryan Njoroge was found with a fatal gunshot wound to the head, near a baseball field in Clarksville, Indiana. His death was recorded as a suicide.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

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The Hell That Lars Von Trier Built

Lars von Trier’s highly anticipated and already hotly debated new film, The House That Jack Built, begins with a black screen and a disembodied male voice saying, “Can I ask you something?” An older man, equally invisible, replies, “I can’t promise I’ll answer.” As we eavesdrop on this cryptic conversation, the darkness before our eyes seems to somehow grow deeper; we have no choice but to focus solely on these unknown voices. Slowly, von Trier draws in the viewer and makes him weary, calling back to the opening of his 1991 film Europa, in which Max von Sydow’s velvety tones take the viewer into a trance “still deeper into Europa,” while the repetitive rhythm of railroad tracks flashes on screen. The effect in both of these sequences is unmistakably hypnotic.

The older man heard in The House That Jack Built soon warns his interlocutor Jack, who wishes to confess more about himself, “just don’t think you’re going to tell me anything I haven’t heard before.” There might be a hint of irony in the old man’s blasé attitude; knowing the director’s confrontational and playful work, chances are that Jack’s tales and opinions at least will be fascinating, and probably outrageous. Yet the old man’s irritation also speaks for von Trier’s: the Danish director, now 62 years old, doesn’t guarantee answers and has seen things you people wouldn’t believe. To his detractors, his fans, and all his spectators, von Trier says “close your eyes, relax, and let me take you to the scary places I know so well.”

Read the rest of this article at: The Ringer

News 12.14.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

He Helped Build An Artists’ Utopia. Now He Faces Trial For 36 Deaths There.

News 12.14.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Once a week, Max Harris is allowed to leave his 6-by-12-foot cell to go outside. The first thing he does, before the other inmates arrive in the small cement yard in Santa Rita Jail, is run around and yell, “Safari!” as he picks up all the bugs — the furry moths with leopard spots, the grasshoppers in jade armor. He wants to move them out of harm’s way before other men in red-and-white-striped jumpsuits start playing basketball. Sometimes he’ll find a honey bee in distress, lost and spinning in a circle, and he’ll give it a little water, or water mixed with apple jelly, if he can find a half-eaten packet. “It nourishes it,” he says. Or, he’ll see a moth with cobweb stuck on its antenna, and he’ll calmly, lovingly remove it. Each life is precious. Each life is beautiful. Harris, a vegan since age 14, believes this to his core. To Harris, even a fruit fly pirouetting in his cell is a miracle. “It’s like a dog,” he told me. “A little Labrador or something. It’s different, but it’s still this little shard of life. It’s still this spark of divinity in this moving work of art.”

Harris has lived in this jail in Dublin, Calif., for 18 months now. Before his arrest, he lived in Oakland, in a 10,000-square-foot warehouse filled with artists. There, near his bed, in his live-work space, a spider built a nest. He named the spider Norbit, and when Norbit’s eggs hatched he named the babies Hexbit, Drillbit, Babybit and so on, and he let them stay too. In the warehouse, Harris believed that he found, for the first time, a true home for his artistic dreams, a place that sanctified creativity as he felt it should be sanctified. And he did find beauty there. But he also found a darkness blacker than anything he could ever have imagined. When I met him, last spring, his long face looked drawn, the moon tattoo on his left cheek distorted under the gravity of his sadness. His limbs drooped off his 6-foot-3 frame like the branches of a willow tree. Plugs, made from the tops of hot-sauce bottles, filled the sagging, hollowed-out lobes of his ears. He is 29, but his hair, once blue, once mohawked, once dreadlocked, is streaked with gray.

In the heavy months awaiting trial, Harris has been trying to hang on to his gentleness. He has been trying to grow his compassion, so that something, anything, positive might come of all this grief. He studies Zen Buddhism. He keeps the Jewish Sabbath. He prays to his Christian God. He switches the TV from Fox News or football to Animal Planet when the other inmates, who tell him he’s like a butterfly, can tolerate it. Yet life can be cruel, and even a person striving toward right thought can set off cascades of events that go incomprehensibly awry. One day in September, Harris told me that a fellow inmate found a praying mantis in the yard. The inmate cupped it in his hands, this bright green marvel. Harris thought it was one of the most spectacular things he’d ever seen. The inmate who found the insect wanted to take it to his cell to keep as a pet. Harris intervened. “No, man,” he said, “how could you bring someone else into incarceration?”

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

Machine Politics

News 12.14.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Goliath of totalitarianism will be brought down by the David of the microchip,” Ronald Reagan said in 1989. He was speaking to a thousand British notables in London’s historic Guildhall, several months before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Reagan proclaimed that the world was on the precipice of “a new era in human history,” one that would bring “peace and freedom for all.” Communism was crumbling, just as fascism had before it. Liberal democracies would soon encircle the globe, thanks to the innovations of Silicon Valley. “I believe,” he said, “that more than armies, more than diplomacy, more than the best intentions of democratic nations, the communications revolution will be the greatest force for the advancement of human freedom the world has ever seen.”

At the time, most everyone thought Reagan was right. The twentieth century had been dominated by media that delivered the same material to millions of people at the same time—radio and newspapers, movies and television. These were the kinds of one-to-many, top-down mass media that Orwell’s Big Brother had used to stay in power. Now, however, Americans were catching sight of the internet. They believed that it would do what earlier media could not: it would allow people to speak for themselves, directly to one another, around the world. “True personalization is now upon us,” wrote MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte in his 1995 bestseller Being Digital. Corporations, industries, and even whole nations would soon be transformed as centralized authorities were demolished. Hierarchies would dissolve and peer-to-peer collaborations would take their place. “Like a force of nature,” wrote Negroponte, “the digital age cannot be denied or stopped.”

One of the deepest ironies of our current situation is that the modes of communication that enable today’s authoritarians were first dreamed up to defeat them. The same technologies that were meant to level the political playing field have brought troll farms and Russian bots to corrupt our elections. The same platforms of self-expression that we thought would let us empathize with one another and build a more harmonious society have been co-opted by figures such as Milo Yiannopoulos and, for that matter, Donald Trump, to turn white supremacy into a topic of dinner-­table conversation. And the same networked methods of organizing that so many thought would bring down malevolent states have not only failed to do so—think of the Arab Spring—but have instead empowered autocrats to more closely monitor protest and dissent.

Read the rest of this article at: Harpers Magazine

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

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