News 10.23.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 10.23.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 10.23.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 10.23.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Marc Polymeropoulos awoke with a start. The feeling of nausea was overwhelming. Food poisoning, he thought, and decided to head for the bathroom. But when he tried to get out of bed, he fell over. He tried to stand up and fell again. It was the early morning hours of December 5, 2017, and his Moscow hotel room was spinning around him. His ears were ringing. He felt, he recalled, “like I was going to both throw up and pass out at the same time.”

Polymeropoulos was a covert CIA operative, a jovial, burly man who likes to refer to himself as “grizzled.” Moscow was not the first time he had been on enemy territory. He had spent most of his career in the Middle East, fighting America’s long war on terrorism. He had hunted terrorists in Pakistan and Yemen. He did the same in Iraq and Afghanistan. He had been shot at, ducked under rocket fire, and had shrapnel whiz by uncomfortably close to his head. But that night, paralyzed with seasickness in the landlocked Russian capital, Polymeropoulos felt terrified and utterly helpless for the first time.

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

News 10.23.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 10.23.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

On a bright Tuesday afternoon in Paris last fall, Alex Karp was doing tai chi in the Luxembourg Gardens. He wore blue Nike sweatpants, a blue polo shirt, orange socks, charcoal-gray sneakers and white-framed sunglasses with red accents that inevitably drew attention to his most distinctive feature, a tangle of salt-and-pepper hair rising skyward from his head.

Under a canopy of chestnut trees, Karp executed a series of elegant tai chi and qigong moves, shifting the pebbles and dirt gently under his feet as he twisted and turned. A group of teenagers watched in amusement. After 10 minutes or so, Karp walked to a nearby bench, where one of his bodyguards had placed a cooler and what looked like an instrument case. The cooler held several bottles of the nonalcoholic German beer that Karp drinks (he would crack one open on the way out of the park). The case contained a wooden sword, which he needed for the next part of his routine. “I brought a real sword the last time I was here, but the police stopped me,” he said matter of factly as he began slashing the air with the sword.

Those gendarmes evidently didn’t know that Karp, far from being a public menace, was the chief executive of an American company whose software has been deployed on behalf of public safety in France. The company, Palantir Technologies, is named after the seeing stones in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.” Its two primary software programs, Gotham and Foundry, gather and process vast quantities of data in order to identify connections, patterns and trends that might elude human analysts. The stated goal of all this “data integration” is to help organizations make better decisions, and many of Palantir’s customers consider its technology to be transformative. Karp claims a loftier ambition, however. “We built our company to support the West,” he says. To that end, Palantir says it does not do business in countries that it considers adversarial to the U.S. and its allies, namely China and Russia. In the company’s early days, Palantir employees, invoking Tolkien, described their mission as “saving the shire.”

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

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Everyone crammed into the Las Vegas hotel suite was asleep except for Vince Ramos. The Wynn luxury hotel, with its indoor gardens, seafood restaurants, and extravagant shopping, had been this group’s world for the past few days, with law enforcement officials from the U.S., Canada, and Australia grilling Ramos. Four or five officials lay down after another session of questioning their suspect.

Ramos had short breaks to see his wife and one of his children, who were staying in their own room nearby. Fearing he wouldn’t be able to see his family if he didn’t do so, Ramos spoke at length with the agents. Ramos looked like a ghost during those breaks when his family saw him, they said.

His trip to Vegas had been a setup.

Read the rest of this article at: Vice

News 10.23.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 10.23.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

A basic truth is once again trying to break through the agony of worldwide pandemic and the enduring inhumanity of racist oppression. Healthcare workers risking their lives for others, mutual aid networks empowering neighbourhoods, farmers delivering food to quarantined customers, mothers forming lines to protect youth from police violence: we’re in this life together. We – young and old, citizen and immigrant – do best when we collaborate. Indeed, our only way to survive is to have each other’s back while safeguarding the resilience and diversity of this planet we call home.

As an insight, it’s not new, or surprising. Anthropologists have long told us that, as a species neither particularly strong nor fast, humans survived because of our unique ability to create and cooperate. ‘All our thriving is mutual’ is how the Indigenous scholar Edgar Villanueva captured the age-old wisdom in his book Decolonizing Wealth (2018). What is new is the extent to which so many civic and corporate leaders – sometimes entire cultures – have lost sight of our most precious collective quality.

This loss is rooted, in large part, in the tragedy of the private – this notion that moved, in short order, from curious idea to ideology to global economic system. It claimed selfishness, greed and private property as the real seeds of progress. Indeed, the mistaken concept many readers have likely heard under the name ‘the tragedy of the commons’ has its origins in the sophomoric assumption that private interest is the naturally predominant guide for human action. The real tragedy, however, lies not in the commons, but in the private. It is the private that produces violence, destruction and exclusion. Standing on its head thousands of years of cultural wisdom, the idea of the private variously separates, exploits and exhausts those living under its cold operating logic.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

News 10.23.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Because senator Kamala Harris is a prosecutor and I am a felon, I have been following her political rise, with the same focus that my younger son tracks Steph Curry threes. Before it was in vogue to criticize prosecutors, my friends and I were exchanging tales of being railroaded by them. Shackled in oversized green jail scrubs, I listened to a prosecutor in a Fairfax County, Va., courtroom tell a judge that in one night I’d single-handedly changed suburban shopping forever. Everything the prosecutor said I did was true — I carried a pistol, carjacked a man, tried to rob two women. “He needs a long penitentiary sentence,” the prosecutor told the judge. I faced life in prison for carjacking the man. I pleaded guilty to that, to having a gun, to an attempted robbery. I was 16 years old. The old heads in prison would call me lucky for walking away with only a nine-year sentence.

I’d been locked up for about 15 months when I entered Virginia’s Southampton Correctional Center in 1998, the year I should have graduated from high school. In that prison, there were probably about a dozen other teenagers. Most of us had lengthy sentences — 30, 40, 50 years — all for violent felonies. Public talk of mass incarceration has centered on the war on drugs, wrongful convictions and Kafkaesque sentences for nonviolent charges, while circumventing the robberies, home invasions, murders and rape cases that brought us to prison.

The most difficult discussion to have about criminal-justice reform has always been about violence and accountability. You could release everyone from prison who currently has a drug offense and the United States would still outpace nearly every other country when it comes to incarceration. According to the Prison Policy Institute, of the nearly 1.3 million people incarcerated in state prisons, 183,000 are incarcerated for murder; 17,000 for manslaughter; 165,000 for sexual assault; 169,000 for robbery; and 136,000 for assault. That’s more than half of the state prison population.

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

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