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News 10.14.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 10.14.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 10.14.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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When he discovered that the ship’s underwater plow was stuck at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean, 50 miles off Alaska’s coast, Frank Cuccio thought of Ernest Shackleton. In October 1915, the British explorer was forced to make a desperate escape from the Antarctic after pack ice and floes crushed his ship, the Endurance. The vessel Cuccio was aboard, the Ile de Batz, had been laying fiber-optic cable along the inhospitable route known as the Northwest Passage. But the Ile de Batz’s 55-ton excavator, which had been cutting a trench for the cable, had dug too deep in the hard-clay seabed. If they didn’t unclench it fast, the ocean surrounding them would soon freeze. “I realized we don’t have time to fool around, or we’re going to get trapped in a Shackleton situation,” Cuccio recalls. “The weather was getting uglier, and other ships had been gone for weeks.”

Cuccio worked for Quintillion Subsea Holdings LLC, a telecommunications startup in Anchorage that was trying to build a trans-Arctic data cable it said would improve web speeds for much of the planet. This idea captivated the public, but by the time the Ile de Batz’s plow got stuck, in September 2017, the company was struggling. Co-founder Elizabeth Pierce had resigned as chief executive officer a couple months earlier amid allegations of fraud.

Read the rest of this article at: Bloomberg

News 10.14.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 10.14.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

We met in cafés and empty offices. A young wife spoke for the first time about her missing husband. A nephew had lost his aunt. Many mothers had lost many sons. Some had never shared their story with a stranger before. They sat on benches and in hallways, waiting their turn to speak. Some had left their villages before dawn to drive or hitch a ride to the city. When they finished, they stood up and went home again.

One man brought a tattered red-and-gold Chinese registration book belonging to his dead father, who peered out from beneath an imposing fur hat in the identifying photograph. Another man brought his two sons. A woman arrived with the names of her fourteen missing grandchildren. Some brought records of births and marriages, deeds, letters, family snapshots, petitions, or copies of UN conventions. Others were empty-handed.

They came to tell the stories of loved ones who are among the estimated eight hundred thousand to two million people believed to be detained inside concentration camps in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Some were former detainees themselves, victims of the most ambitious mass internment drive in recent history.

Xinjiang is China’s largest and most diverse administrative area. It is larger than any country in Europe save Russia—if it were a country itself, Xinjiang would be the eighteenth largest in the world—and, with around twenty-four million people, about as populous as Australia. It has sometimes been called China’s Muslim frontier. For centuries, Xinjiang has been home to a variety of Turkic cultures and ethnic groups, including Uighurs, who number more than twelve million in the region, alongside more than one million traditionally nomadic peoples such as Kazakhs, Mongols, and Kyrgyz.

In the 1940s, Xinjiang was briefly the site of a Soviet-sponsored East Turkestan Republic, and a strain of independence has long persisted among a small minority there. Following an increase in violence and suicide attacks, allegedly committed by Uighur separatists, in 2014 China launched its Strike Hard Campaign against the “three evils” of terrorism, separatism, and extremism—a People’s War on Terror that soon metastasized into a war against all forms of Islam and virtually every facet of minority identity, including language, dress, and family ties. Over the past five years, authorities in Xinjiang have implemented the most advanced police state in the world. It is an exclusion zone of high-tech surveillance, roadblocks and checkpoints, the compulsory collection of biometric data, forced labor, and political indoctrination for millions of Turkic Muslims.

Read the rest of this article at: Believer Magazine

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LOS ANGELES — It’s been quite a year for Noen Eubanks.

Last September, he was a high school senior living in the suburbs of Atlanta, acting in high school plays and planning to study video game design one day. Like so many before him, he was also just trying to get through adolescence without being teased.

Then, he started a TikTok account, posted a short video of a joke he wanted to show his older brother, and forgot about it. He came back later to find about 100 views — a lot, he thought at the time. So he kept at it. “I lost my mind,” he said.

Today, he’s got over 5 million subscribers and is living in Hollywood Hills, having been hired as the new face of Kyra TV, a Youtube media company with a Gen Z fan base, earlier this summer. He has a producer, who develops content and brand partnerships for him, a clothing line in the works (it will debut with a sweatshirt) and a salary.

Next, Mr. Eubanks, 18, joked, he might “buy a country.”

“I just kind of went with it,” he said. “Sometimes you just have to let go, because if you hold on to things you’re basically fighting yourself.”

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

News 10.14.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The plane took off in weather that was surprisingly cool for north-central Bolivia and flew east, toward the Brazilian border. In a few minutes the roads and houses disappeared, and the only evidence of human settlement was the cattle scattered over the savannah like jimmies on ice cream. Then they, too, disappeared. By that time the archaeologists had their cameras out and were clicking away in delight.

Below us was the Beni, a Bolivian province about the size of Illinois and Indiana put together, and nearly as flat. For almost half the year rain and snowmelt from the mountains to the south and west cover the land with an irregular, slowly moving skin of water that eventually ends up in the province’s northern rivers, which are sub-subtributaries of the Amazon. The rest of the year the water dries up and the bright-green vastness turns into something that resembles a desert. This peculiar, remote, watery plain was what had drawn the researchers’ attention, and not just because it was one of the few places on earth inhabited by people who might never have seen Westerners with cameras.

Clark Erickson and William Balée, the archaeologists, sat up front. Erickson is based at the University of Pennsylvania; he works in concert with a Bolivian archaeologist, whose seat in the plane I usurped that day. Balée is at Tulane University, in New Orleans. He is actually an anthropologist, but as native peoples have vanished, the distinction between anthropologists and archaeologists has blurred. The two men differ in build, temperament, and scholarly proclivity, but they pressed their faces to the windows with identical enthusiasm.

Dappled across the grasslands below was an archipelago of forest islands, many of them startlingly round and hundreds of acres across. Each island rose ten or thirty or sixty feet above the floodplain, allowing trees to grow that would otherwise never survive the water. The forests were linked by raised berms, as straight as a rifle shot and up to three miles long. It is Erickson’s belief that this entire landscape—30,000 square miles of forest mounds surrounded by raised fields and linked by causeways—was constructed by a complex, populous society more than 2,000 years ago. Balée, newer to the Beni, leaned toward this view but was not yet ready to commit himself.

Erickson and Balée belong to a cohort of scholars that has radically challenged conventional notions of what the Western Hemisphere was like before Columbus. When I went to high school, in the 1970s, I was taught that Indians came to the Americas across the Bering Strait about 12,000 years ago, that they lived for the most part in small, isolated groups, and that they had so little impact on their environment that even after millennia of habitation it remained mostly wilderness. My son picked up the same ideas at his schools. One way to summarize the views of people like Erickson and Balée would be to say that in their opinion this picture of Indian life is wrong in almost every aspect. Indians were here far longer than previously thought, these researchers believe, and in much greater numbers. And they were so successful at imposing their will on the landscape that in 1492 Columbus set foot in a hemisphere thoroughly dominated by humankind.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

In February, 2017, I stepped off a plane in Tampa, drunk and dope-sick. I was twenty-four, and for the past eight years I had been shooting up heroin, cocaine, and all manner of pills: Dilaudid, Opana, OxyContin, Desoxyn, Ritalin. Now I was on my way to River Oaks, an addiction-treatment center, where I would spend the next forty-five days. River Oaks was on a gated campus, surrounded by a small forest with trails running through it. I was withdrawing from heroin and benzodiazepines at the time, and mornings were the worst: I woke in the dark at 6 a.m., the pain of withdrawal not yet mediated by the day’s first dose of Suboxone or Librium. I promised anyone who met me that I would die, simply die, of withdrawal; when, on day twenty-three, I had a seizure, I thought, Yes, I am really dying, but then I lived.

We had access to dietitians and personal trainers, yoga sessions and intravenous vitamin therapy; pharmacogenetic testing determined which medications worked best with our DNA. When it was time to leave, I had become so comfortable that I walked the grounds barefoot, making laps around the Serenity Trail, feeding apples to the horses by the stables where we met for equine therapy, on Wednesdays.

I made a few friends there, but we soon dispersed, some to Baltimore, others to New Jersey, one to wake up in the morning to find that his girlfriend had died beside him in the night, high on heroin, having aspirated her vomit. The rest of us—those without jobs, school, or families calling us home—moved into sober homes in South Florida.

South Florida—the densely populated area comprising Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties—has four hundred and seventy-eight licensed facilities for drug treatment. There are more treatment centers than public elementary schools. It’s difficult to live here for long without hearing someone’s sad story: the Lyft driver who loved cocaine and still does, but from a distance now; the anesthesiologist who studied at Johns Hopkins and shot up fentanyl before it was popular.

For the next few months, I moved between recovery and relapse, cycling through the Twelve Steps, then going off in search of drugs. I would walk out of group therapy in a huff and then, days later, check into another detox for whatever length of time insurance would cover. After inpatient rehab, I’d move to sober housing and enroll in an outpatient program at a nearby clinic. As long as I was insured, I didn’t have to touch money. There’s a name for this peripatetic life style: clinicians, clients, and local officials call it the Florida Shuffle.

I spent the month of May in Delray Beach, in an antebellum-style mansion with Spanish moss hanging from the trees in the front yard, spiral staircases indoors, and large white vitrified tiles in the dining room. This was a partial-hospitalization program, where people are sent after they detox from a relapse. We recited the Serenity Prayer before we ate, pleased by the way we felt ourselves rising to the occasion. Many of us were not yet twenty-five, but we had lived in a disorderly way, and because of that we felt ancient, as if we had survived something, which we had. It was only honorable that we should try to live well.

In June, I found myself living, for the second time, in an old residential motel in Boca Raton, which had been converted into apartments for drug addicts and alcoholics passing between rehab and polite society. The apartments were on a street called West Camino Real; nearby, houses sell for about a million dollars and even the grocery store offers valet parking. My building was tiny, spare, and utilitarian. Each day, we were required to attend four hours of group therapy; each week, we had our urine tested for drugs. Both of these services were billable to insurance.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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