News 09.23.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 09.23.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 09.23.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 09.23.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

A smiling woman unloads a dishwasher. The image, now embedded in a tweet, has been sourced from a collection of stock photos including other smiling women stationed at the same dishwasher. Partitioned into a neat, four-by-four grid, the image is topped with a familiar blue header and an apparently innocuous directive: “Select all squares containing a dishwasher.” Eight have been selected, as indicated by a familiar blue checkmark, but they contain the smiling woman, not the appliance. Is this a sophisticated critique of technology’s role in the gendered division of labor, or is it merely the handiwork of a misogynistic troll?

Read the rest of this article at: Real Life

News 09.23.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 09.23.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

As patrol boats with flashing blue lights surrounded the Iuventa, just outside the port of Lampedusa on the evening of 1 August 2017, its crew were more annoyed than alarmed. For three days, the old fishing trawler, crewed by volunteers from the German NGO Jugend Rettet (Youth Rescue), had answered a string of requests from the Italian coastguard that to them made no sense. “This madness hopefully will soon be over,” read a message sent from the ship’s bridge to Jugend Rettet base camp shortly after 10pm.

In the summer of 2017, two years on from the peak of Europe’s refugee crisis, smugglers in Libya were still sending hundreds of people a day to sea in unsafe rubber boats, and the Iuventa’s crew wanted to be where the action was. In a patch of sea just off the coast of north Africa, about a dozen NGO ships were searching for boats in distress – a direct challenge, as many of them saw it, to European governments that had scaled back state-run rescue efforts.

Yet the Iuventa had been following instructions that drew it further away from the rescue zone and closer to Italian territorial waters. According to the ship’s records, the Italian coastguard first told the crew to rendezvous with an Italian navy ship to collect two men found adrift at sea, and deliver them to another. The second ship never turned up. Then they were told to look for a blue and white fishing boat with 50 people on board, apparently foundering in the sea close to Lampedusa. As night fell on 1 August, after a day spent searching the waves in vain, a message came through: call off your search and proceed into port.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

Life Lately: Recently in Photos December 2018

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In the prelude to Martin Amis’s latest book Inside Story, the author not only speaks directly to the reader, but warmly invites us into his home, offers us a drink, shares the latest tidbits about his wife and children who will be joining for dinner, and assures us that the upstairs bedroom is ours to enjoy. “Oh, don’t mention it—de nada,” Amis insists. “The honour is all mine. You are my guest. You are my reader.” (One imagines the good fortune of landing in New York City and crashing in the Cobble Hill brownstone that Amis and his wife, the writer Isabel Fonseca, shared before it was damaged in a fire in 2016.)

With an unauthorized biography, the reader becomes, whether we like it or not, a thief, breaking into a public figure’s home to root through their stuff and unearth their secrets. But with a memoir, the author welcomes the guest in and allows us to snoop around at our leisure. Amis cuts to the chase, then, telling us to take what we’d like. But, as you might have guessed, Inside Story is no ordinary memoir. In fact, it calls itself a novel. In truth, it’s a hybrid beast, a record of a real life written with all the freedom of fiction—its style, tactical ingenuity, and narrative leaps—while also moonlighting as an advice book to young writers and a literary critique of some of the key influences on Amis’s work (Saul Bellow and Philip Larkin are high up on the list of saints).

Read the rest of this article at: Interview

News 09.23.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 09.23.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

An adolescent boy in a blue T-shirt, hosting a press conference on his first trip abroad, is sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with an Indian girl as she reads from a piece of paper. In front of Canadian reporters, the girl implores the Indian government to address the practice of child labour.

The boy, Craig Kielburger, needs no notes. With what a travelling Maclean’s reporter then described as “the poised assurance of a veteran performer,” young Craig demands a meeting with prime minister Jean Chrétien to discuss the issue.

“Forget being prime minister for a second. Just simply as a Canadian, it’s his moral responsibility to do this,” he insists. The two meet for 15 minutes five days later, in January 1996, and though Craig complains to reporters that Chrétien’s commitment to child labourers is “vague,” the appointment itself is an out-and-out victory for a growing movement of impassioned Canadian youth.

Fast-forward nearly two decades. Onstage in front of 16,000 youth who have earned their tickets through service and fundraising, Craig Kielburger is elated. Wearing a blazer-and-jeans combo that matches his older brother Marc’s, he hypes up the crowd. “We are honoured to welcome to the stage two individuals who are passionate about young people, bettering their community and the world.”

For one of the guests, it is a “first public appearance” since being sworn in less than a week ago, Marc exclaims. “How cool is that?” The fresh-faced crowd goes wild. The guest, Marc tells them, “truly believes in the power of young people” and “truly believes in you.”

As Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, appear on stage, a hot microphone catches Craig making a joke about “campaign rallies” as he hugs the newly elected Prime Minister.

In his brief remarks, Trudeau, with rolled-up shirt sleeves, sums up the nebulous mission of the charity’s modern-day iteration. “WE Day is about showing you that ‘we’ is powerful, that ‘me’ as part of ‘we’ is powerful, and that together we can and will change the world.”

The contrast between the two images is stark. In the former, a young boy rails against the vague assurances of one Canadian prime minister, demanding he back up his empathetic signals with action; in the latter, that boy-turned-seasoned-charity-mogul embraces the platitudes of another PM, seemingly secure in his belief that this is the best way to change the world.

Read the rest of this article at: Maclean’s

News 09.23.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

There is a cohort of close observers of our presidential elections, scholars and lawyers and political strategists, who find themselves in the uneasy position of intelligence analysts in the months before 9/11. As November 3 approaches, their screens are blinking red, alight with warnings that the political system does not know how to absorb. They see the obvious signs that we all see, but they also know subtle things that most of us do not. Something dangerous has hove into view, and the nation is lurching into its path.

The danger is not merely that the 2020 election will bring discord. Those who fear something worse take turbulence and controversy for granted. The coronavirus pandemic, a reckless incumbent, a deluge of mail-in ballots, a vandalized Postal Service, a resurgent effort to suppress votes, and a trainload of lawsuits are bearing down on the nation’s creaky electoral machinery.

Something has to give, and many things will, when the time comes for casting, canvassing, and certifying the ballots. Anything is possible, including a landslide that leaves no doubt on Election Night. But even if one side takes a commanding early lead, tabulation and litigation of the “overtime count”—millions of mail-in and provisional ballots—could keep the outcome unsettled for days or weeks.

If we are lucky, this fraught and dysfunctional election cycle will reach a conventional stopping point in time to meet crucial deadlines in December and January. The contest will be decided with sufficient authority that the losing candidate will be forced to yield. Collectively we will have made our choice—a messy one, no doubt, but clear enough to arm the president-elect with a mandate to govern.

As a nation, we have never failed to clear that bar. But in this election year of plague and recession and catastrophized politics, the mechanisms of decision are at meaningful risk of breaking down. Close students of election law and procedure are warning that conditions are ripe for a constitutional crisis that would leave the nation without an authoritative result. We have no fail-safe against that calamity. Thus the blinking red lights.

“We could well see a protracted postelection struggle in the courts and the streets if the results are close,” says Richard L. Hasen, a professor at the UC Irvine School of Law and the author of a recent book called Election Meltdown. “The kind of election meltdown we could see would be much worse than 2000’s Bush v. Gore case.”

A lot of people, including Joe Biden, the Democratic Party nominee, have mis­conceived the nature of the threat. They frame it as a concern, unthinkable for presidents past, that Trump might refuse to vacate the Oval Office if he loses. They generally conclude, as Biden has, that in that event the proper authorities “will escort him from the White House with great dispatch.”

The worst case, however, is not that Trump rejects the election outcome. The worst case is that he uses his power to prevent a decisive outcome against him. If Trump sheds all restraint, and if his Republican allies play the parts he assigns them, he could obstruct the emergence of a legally unambiguous victory for Biden in the Electoral College and then in Congress. He could prevent the formation of consensus about whether there is any outcome at all. He could seize on that un­certainty to hold on to power.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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

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