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From the Rubble of Atlases, a Colossus Will Rise – The New York Times

The Temple of the Olympian Zeus, also known as the Olympieion, was built using Carthaginian slave labor presumably prisoners of war captured in the Battle of Himera. The dimensions were roughly the same as an American football field and its end zones: 340 feet long and 160 feet wide, and rose to a height of 120 feet, not including the foundation.

Evidently, the work was never completed. When Carthage conquered Akragas in 405 B.C. after an eight-month siege, the temple was still open to the sky, perhaps owing to the difficulty of building a roof to span the distance.

In detailing the enormity of the Olympieions scale, Diodorus wrote that the fluting of the outer columns was big enough for a man to stand inside. Unlike most pillars of the period, the temples were not free-standing but demi-columns, 23 by 46 feet, engaged in a continuous curtain wall to support the weight of horizontal architectural detailing that composes the entablature. If the scale model in the museum is to be believed, the Atlases stood on a recessed ledge in the upper portions of the bays, hands stretched above their heads.

The Olympieions unstately pile is the result of two millenniums of earthquakes and pilfering. During the mid-1700s, stonework was quarried and hauled away for use in breakwaters and jetties at the nearby town of Porto Empedocle.

The concept of the project has been criticized for violating professional standards and, perhaps, good taste. No archaeologist would endorse the use of ancient sculpture, no matter how fragmentary, to create a modern sculpture, even if the purpose is to highlight the sites antiquity, said C. Brian Rose, an archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Nowadays, a copy of the museums Atlas, cobbled together in the 1970s, lounges near the rubble, roped off from the public. Many visitors believe the Atlas on the ground is authentic, said Leonardo Guarnieri, a park spokesman, with a shrug worthy of Ayn Rand. It is not authentic.

He added that the hands of the new golem Atlas would be unencumbered. That ought to take a load off his shoulders.

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From the Rubble of Atlases, a Colossus Will Rise - The New York Times

In The News – Page 30 – ScoopDuck

The Swedish Bumblebee

There is this odd story about bumblebees and flying. You know, these oval, buzzing, funny-looking insects that we often find hovering around our gardens in summer. The story, as I heard it, is that the bumblebee defies the laws of aerodynamics: it shouldn't be capable of flying with those tiny wings and that monster of a body (for an insect, anyway). Allegedly, it doesn't generate enough lifting power for its chubby body to take flight. (Just to make sure: this is false and the bumblebee's flight is perfectly consistent with the laws of aerodynamics).Yet, the bumblebee is flying. Clearly, these annoying little insects defy gravity every single day, suggesting commonsensically that there wasn't much point in supposing that they couldn't. In any case, the bumblebees of the world didn't care much for the musings of mice and men; they kept buzzing around, blissfully ignorant of their apparently supernatural powers. In the world's eyes, Sweden holds a similar position. Its economy always did much better than we'd except at a first-pass analysis. With the corona pandemic, we now have another episode of the Swedish Bumblebee story. Economically, Sweden shouldn't be as successful as it is. According to most economic thinking, a large government sector, the world's highest marginal tax rates, strong unions, and a generous welfare state should result in an economy with lots of slack and a society of slackers. Yet, it prevails: in GDP-per-capita terms it does at least as well as its European peers, markedly outperforms the allegedly free market-loving Britain and trails the United States only by about 1415% on aggregate levels. While its unemployment rate usually hovers a few percentage points above the British or American one, Sweden routinely scores well on quality-of-life rankings and it has long had the highest labor participation rate in the European Union. On top of that, Stockholm's tech start-up scene rivals the global metropolises of the world.There is no shortage of explanations to account for Sweden's odd economic behavior. Those on the left have usually invoked feedback loops from a large social safety net, redistributive taxes, societal trust, or universal health care. Others point to early widespread literacy, universal schooling, a strong work ethic, and strong cohesive communities. Right-wing explanations often rely on shared identities, values, and sometimes even ethnic homogeneity. Free-marketeers of one variety or another have usually said that it's because at heart Sweden is a hyper-capitalist economy how else could it afford to pay for such an outrageously large and generous state apparatus?None of these explanations are ironclad; if they were, we wouldn't have an argument over them. Virtually every Western country has high-quality universal health care; literacy has been near-universal for generations; and Sweden doesn't score that well in rankings of economic freedom.While international academics and policy wonks debate what's fueling Sweden's success and what portion of Swedish society could effectively translate into their countries the Swedish bumblebee hovers along, unperturbed by stories about its success. Blissfully ignorant of the many ideological attempts to prove its inability of flying, it flies all the same. With the pandemic, we've now received another data point for the Swedish bumblebee saga. Naturally, this one also comes ready-made to fit one's prior ideological beliefs. For those who say that lockdown is the answer to every problem, Sweden's relatively more open approach should have led to mass casualties, topping the charts of per-capita deaths. It doesn't. Its admittedly dismal outcome is surpassed by the heaviest of lockdowners: U.S., U.K., Spain etc. If you believe that lockdowns work to prevent the spread of the disease and deaths, Sweden is performing annoyingly well and should be a sobering wake-up call. It hasn't done too much in the way of closing society: it didn't close borders, schools, bars, shopping malls or almost anything else, but it still has fewer per-capita deaths than many countries that threw everything and the kitchen sink against the virus. For those who say that lockdowns are pointless power moves and symbolic expressions of societal self-harm, Sweden is the grand hero in terms of keeping society open. Then again, many, many more have lost their lives there than in the fortress-style lockdowns of Australia and New Zealand, South Korea and Iceland not to mention the neighboring countries of Norway, Finland or Denmark whose death rates are one-tenth to one-fifth of Sweden's. That's awkward if you, myself included, think that politicians of the world have reacted too harshly for too long.While the partisan stories line up and the spin doctors have sharpened their Sweden story, Sweden itself has ignored their musings just like the calm, humble bumblebee it is. Wide-eyed, most Swedes have watched remarkably inaccurate international coverage of its pandemic policy then shrugged it off, returned to their home offices, washed their hands with sanitizers and kept their distance while out and about. Throughout the pandemic Sweden has followed its own decentralized public health governance and its politicians have mostly stepped out of the way, dealing with the pandemic calmly and prudently. Despite an avalanche of foreign criticism of its pandemic response, it has held its ground, mostly immune to foreign rumblings, denunciations, and indignant judgments. The bumblebee keeps flying, unflustered by all the attention. Outliers be outliersIn any scientific venture, outliers attract attention. They're either intentionally ignored, waved away as something peculiar, or ruthlessly attacked for misbehaving. Of course, outliers point out that something is fundamentally wrong with our basic model. On economic well-being, it's clear that a country with an invasively large government sector and extraordinarily high taxes can still perform well. In the corona debates, the simplified story that lockdowns prevent spread and open societies kill people should be relegated to the dustbin of impressive theories at odds with reality. Admiring the Scandinavian land of IKEA, Volvo, ABBA, Spotify, and Klarna, everyone can fuel their priors; confirmation bias for all! All the while the bumblebee bumbles along, uninterested in your imagined reasons for why it flies.

Do not ever say that the desire to do good by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives. Ayn Rand

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In The News - Page 30 - ScoopDuck

Trump’s America Remains Stuck in the Shadow of Reagan – Boston Review

Wikimedia

Only a few decades old, the corporate autocracy the former president unleashed on the United States is not natural law. It had to be created, and it can also be undone.

Reaganland: Americas Right Turn 19761980Rick PerlsteinSimon and Schuster, $40 (cloth)

From a humanitarian perspective, the Trump administrations handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a disaster. But in the eyes of U.S. corporate leaders in a handful of the countrys wealthiest companies, Trumps COVID-19 policy has been quite successful. The stock market has mostly recovered since the crash in March, and Jeff Bezos has made more than $70 billion.

Trumps most enduring deformation of U.S. political life will derive from his slavish devotion to unchecked corporate power and consolidating influencein the hands of a few billionaires.

In Washington it has long seemed that the well-being of corporations takes priority over the well-being of citizensbut there has never been such obvious proof. During a recent round of debates on further stimulus provisions, Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell made it clear that his primary concern is not relief packages for devastated communities, but a liability shieldthat is, a provision that insulates corporations from COVID-related lawsuits.

When Donald Trump won the presidential election in 2016, he and his pundits declared it a victory for the white working class. But the main beneficiaries of the past four years have been business executives and billionaires. Trumps presidency, whether it spans four years or longer, will be remembered for its open war on democracy, its overt racism and xenophobia, and the frequency with which the president voiced open disregard for human life (as when he recently said that the pandemic-related deaths in blue states dont count).

But in the end, Trumps most enduring deformation of U.S. political life may derive from his slavish devotion to unchecked corporate power and his work in further consolidating power in the hands of a few billionaires. As Christian Lorentzen recently wrote in Bookforum, the Republican Party under Trump should primarily be understood as an electoral entity that reliably obtains tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation for big business, increased budgets for the military, and little of anything else for anyone else.

How did the United States end up here? How did a country that prides itself on the opposing concentration of poweron extensive checks and balancesend up generating a corporate autocracy so complete that it is nearly impossible to imagine its end? Any attempt to understand and dismantle this current regime must begin with an appreciation of how it evolved in the first place. On this front, historian Rick Perlsteins new book, Reaganland: Americas Right Turn 19761980 (2020), provides invaluable context, alongside a timely reminder that this political development is still quite new.

Though Reagan's ascent to power bears countless parallels to our time, it also explains how corporate power came to be enshrined in Washington.

Reaganland depicts the rise of Ronald Reagan in the late 1970s. It is the final volume of Perlsteins four-book series on the modern history of U.S. conservatism (beginning with Before the Storm in 2001), which follows the movement from Barry Goldwaters rise in the early 1960s through Reagans election in 1980. The period of Reagans ascent bears countless parallels to our time: a politics that coalesces around a B-list celebrity, the deployment of racist dog whistles, the mobilization and consolidation of the Christian right, and the rise of radical conservatism. But most striking is the books depiction of how corporate power came to be enshrined in Washington. Perlsteins is not the first book to deal with the convergence of corporate interests and Republican Party orthodoxy; other notables include Kim Phillips-Feins Invisible Hands (2009) and Jane Mayers more recent Dark Money (2016). Yet Reaganland significantly contributes to our understanding of U.S. plutocracy by focusing on the moment in the late 1970s when corporate lobbyists became an overwhelming political force.

Today we take for granted that corporations practically run Washington, meaning that any ambitious legislation must pass through countless corporate lobbyists before Senators dare vote. But in the mid-1970s, as Reagan was emerging as a national star of conservatism, corporate power in Washington was weak and disorganized. This would all change in just a few years.

The rise of corporate power in U.S. politics owes neither to some intrinsic flaw in the United States nor to the unstoppable forces of the global economy. Reaganland, echoing Perlsteins previous books, instead explains that tireless political activism and organization determined the triumph of radical conservative ideas in economic policy. The conservative movements new institutions owed to the Republican Partys increased responsiveness to organized corporate lobbying, and a new breed of activist business executives armed with the tomes of Ayn Rand and Friedrich Hayek. Describing these executives, whom Perlstein dubs boardroom Jacobins (in an ironic reference to the French anti-royalist revolutionaries), he writes:

According to the theories of Karl Marx, revolutions happen when a group of people in a similar position in the economic structure become a class for itself: when they become conscious of their collective grievances, stop fighting one another, and organize to fight their common oppressor instead. That was what was happening in America [in the mid-1970s]. Only the class in question wasnt the proletariat. It was the corporate executives.

And this was a great reversal from the previous decade. During the 1960s, with the rise of consumer advocacy groups and activists such as Ralph Nader, a newly energized left had successfully challenged corporate disregard for issues such as pollution and car safety. Following 1968the portion of Americans who said business tries to strike a fair balance between profits and the interest of the public fell from 70 percent to 18 percent by 1973. By the early 1970s, corporate leaders expressed a feeling of exclusion from political power in the United States. We dont have a business community, just a fragmented bunch of self-interested people, one business executive complained in 1975.

This sense that an emerging left had victimized big business led corporate interests to consolidate, as they found a common enemy to mobilize against. This fight against the left energized a new breed of corporate activists and lobbyists, who began to meet informally around Washingtons K Street and in hotels in downtown D.C. (the Carlton Group, a famous network of lobbyists, literally met in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton hotel). Perlstein depicts colorful, largely unknown pioneers of the early years of corporate lobbying, such as Charls Walker. Walker, who Perlstein describes as a sort of Vladimir Lenin of the new class-for-itself style of corporate lobbying, would shape the 1978 corporate tax reform often seen as a precursor to Reaganomics.

Walker founded the American Council for Capital Formation and lobbied to make the three martini lunch tax deductible. An early Reagan supporter, he also shaped the Reagan campaigns economic agenda by convincing him that he could simultaneously promise massive tax cuts and huge increases in military spending. Walker lobbied Congress to support the 1978 tax reform by selling it as beneficial for the middle class, despite the fact that 80 percent of the benefits went to just 10 percent of the biggest corporations. This has since become the model for Washingtons tax reform debates.

Conservative business activists convinced the American public that tax rates for corporations and capital gains were the most pressing economic issues of the 1970s.

Activists like Walker, and the organizations they formed (such as Business Roundtable and National Federation of Independent Business), executed one of the most remarkable political shifts in modern history. In just a few years, they convinced the American public that tax rates for corporations and capital gainswhich were then paid by only a sliver of the wealthiest Americanswere the most pressing issues of the era. Indeed, this was the fruit of a successful propaganda campaign from the nations boardroom Jacobins, Perlstein writes.

And Reagan did not only ride this wave of corporate activism into the White House, he was also one of its most successful activists. Reagan was uniquely skilled at transforming the rhetoric of corporate lobbyists and economists into a language that resonated with the middle-class, selling the hooey of trickle-down economics as beneficial to the general public. This was perhaps his greatest contribution to the emerging networks of boardroom Jacobins of the late 1970s. Reagan triumphantly declared that massive tax cuts would pump through the economy, generating growth, new jobs, and thus new sources of revenue for the government, while dismissing those who questioned how tax cuts could generate more revenue as old-fashioned economists stuck in static analysis. The so-called Great Communicator was able to impart conservative economists messages with a folksy populism, describing consumer advocates such as Naderand any Democrats who dared call for increased regulationas elitist bureaucrats who believed Americans were too dumb to buy a box of corn flakes without being cheated.

Reagans rise as a national conservative star occurred in tandem with the strengthening of the corporate lobbying infrastructure. K Street, Perlstein writes, was finally getting its act together. And U.S. politics would never be the same: After a decade of pummeling by liberals, the denizens of Americas better boardrooms, who had once comported themselves with such ideological gentility, began behaving like the legendary Jacobins of the French Revolution. They declared war without compromise.

The political success of Reaganism transformed both the Republican Party and their Democratic counterpart. Writer Anand Giridharadas recently said that in the decades following Reagans election, the left absorbed the rights hatred of government and its devotion to corporate power almost like a secondhand smoke.

Corporate executives and billionaires wield enormous cultural power, shaping public opinion with their massive reach in the news media.

To be sure, corporate executives and billionaires do not wield more votes than citizens. In fact, they represent only a tiny fraction of the voting population. But their cultural power is enormous; they are the ultimate influencers, shaping public opinion with their massive reach in the news media. When Bernie Sanders led the polls in the Democratic primary earlier this year, the heads of financial institutions and large corporations provided the media with an endless succession of panicked statements. Lloyd Blankfeinformer CEO of Goldman Sachs, longtime Democratic Party donor, and old friend of the Clintonstold the Financial Times that he would probably vote for Trump in November if Sanders were the Democratic nominee. When COVID-19 deaths rose globally this spring, Leon Cooperman, chairman and CEO of Omega Advisors who boasts a net worth of $3.2 billion, told CNBC, I look at Bernie Sanders as a bigger threat than the coronavirus.

Even with the economic centrist Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee, the slightest departure from neoliberal economic orthodoxy leads to an immediate slap on the wrist, with billionaires and executives swarming TV to complain that increasing the capital gains tax from 20 to 22 percent will be the end of the United States as we know it. Cable news hosts never seem to tire of providing Kleenex for the crocodile tears of billionaires. And it is not just CNBC and Fox Business Channel, but the Sunday morning political showsincluding Fareed Zakaria GPS (CNN), Meet the Press (NBC), and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallacethat regularly invite billionaires on air for no reason other than their wealth.

And perhaps this is the deepest legacy of Reaganism. The pollster David Shor recently explained to New York magazine that the power of billionaire activists, or the boardroom Jacobins, is not just the power of their fat pocketbooks; rather, they possess cultural power:

Why do so many moderate Democrats vote for center-right policies that dont even poll well? . . . [T]he thing is, while that median voter doesnt want to deregulate banks, that voter doesnt want a senator who is bad for business. . . . I think thats a very straightforward, almost Marxist view of power: Rich people have disproportionate cultural influence. So business does pull the party right. But it does so more through the mechanism of using its cultural power to influence public opinion, not through donations to campaigns.

The corporate autocracy is not natural law; it was established by a small cohort of political activists. This means that it will not last forever.

Rick Perlsteins Reaganland reminds us that the victories of Reaganism were not just political, but cultural. Reaganism entrenched the belief among middle-class Americans that any opposition to capital gains tax cuts and corporate deregulation was inherently unpatriotic. But Perlsteins book also reminds us that this state of affairs is not natural law; it was established by a small cohort of radical, political activists. This also means that it will not last forever.

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Trump's America Remains Stuck in the Shadow of Reagan - Boston Review

The Tories are divided between libertarians and authoritarians. Who will win? – TheArticle

On the battleground of Covid-19, a struggle is under way for the soul of the Conservative Party. It is being fought out between Tory loyalists who back Boris Johnsons approach to the pandemic and small-state Conservatives. The latter compare the arbitrary, even autocratic approach implied by the Governments latest anti-coronavirus measures to Big Brother in George Orwells Nineteen Eighty-Four. The question is: who will win?

It would be simplistic to characterise this clash of ideology as one of authoritarians and libertarians. Neither the Prime Minister nor the rest of the Cabinet would, in normal times, be seen as advocates of big government, let alone a quasi-dictatorship. As for the rebels, who are said to number up to 80 MPs, they are not yet a coherent, organised lobby group, comparable to the Thatcherites and Wets, or the various factions on the European Union.

And yet such labels are useful. The Tory authoritarians, if we may call them that, believe that in a public health emergency of this magnitude, the end justifies practically any means. So they greet with equanimity such draconian restrictions on individual liberty as the ban on singing and dancing in pubs, or 4,000 fines for reckless refusal to self-isolate. The authoritarians are also relaxed about bypassing normal parliamentary scrutiny, on the grounds that there simply isnt time for the endless procedural skirmishing that has dragged out the Brexit process. Their justification for toeing the party line is that the sooner the country submits to a strict prophylactic regime, the sooner the pandemic will be over and that this is what the public wants and expects from the Government anyway.

The libertarian rebels are dismayed and angry about what they see as a betrayal of everything they went into politics to do. Their de facto spokesman is Steve Baker, for many years a thorn in the side of David Cameron and Theresa May as a leading light of the European Research Group (ERG).

Baker is a fascinating figure, not least because he is a rare beast in the Tory menagerie: a principled libertarian who is not ashamed to stand by his convictions even when they are unpopular. A stubborn, self-made Cornishman with an RAF background, Baker belongs to the international libertarian movement. He helped found the Cobden Institute to propagate the gospel of 19th-century classical liberalism and Austrian thinkers such as Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich von Hayek.

Such doctrines are much more influential in the United States. There libertarian ideas are popularised by the novels of Ayn Rand, promoted by philanthropists, think tanks and other institutions, such as George Mason University, but rooted in the American Revolution. Here in the UK, libertarians have never controlled the commanding heights of the economy in the way that Alan Greenspan chaired the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006.

Yet under Margaret Thatcher the currents of classical liberal and libertarian thought coursed through the veins of the British body politic, including limited government, privatisation, free market economics and low taxation. Unlike most Tory MPs, Steve Baker is a trained engineer; yet he has a profound aversion to social engineering of any kind. Libertarian hostility to the EU is not based on nationalism indeed, they tend to favour the free movement of people but on the regulatory mania of the European model. Libertarians are usually sticklers for parliamentary procedure, because only constant vigilance can ensure democratic accountability of national or supranational authorities. Hence the ERGs erstwhile hero Jacob Rees-Mogg, now Leader of the House of Commons, is under pressure to allow MPs proper consultation and debate before yet more draconian rules are imposed.

Indeed, Boris Johnson himself is seen on the small-state wing of the party as a hostage to Big Brother. Comparing the Prime Minister to King Thoden in Tolkiens Lord of the Rings, Baker issued an appeal to liberate the old Boris: The king is under the spell of his advisers. And he has to be woken up from that spell.

When he was a columnist for Charles Moores Daily Telegraph, Boris Johnson backed libertarian campaigns for the decriminalisation of cannabis and the privatisation of the BBC. It is true that he has elevated his former Editor to the Lords and hopes to appoint him as chairman of the BBC. In that capacity, no doubt, Lord Moore of Etchingham would infuriate all the right people and might even hasten the inevitable demise of the licence fee.

But now that Boris Johnson is firmly ensconced in Downing Street, he cannot afford to risk the wrath of the British people, which has yet to be persuaded that there is any alternative to local lockdowns and other restrictions on social activity. It is not the spell of his political and civil service advisers that compels him to take ever more authoritarian measures, so much as the fear of losing touch with public opinion.

The bumbling mannerisms and flashes of brilliance that made Boris a star in peacetime have not deserted him, but they are out of place in time of war the war against coronavirus. He seems to many, not least in his own party, to have temporarily lost his touch. Yet there is nobody to replace him. Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, is more popular because it is his job to dispense largesse, but if there were any substantial policy difference between No. 10 and No. 11 Downing Street, we would know about it by now.

As long as the Government remains united behind the authoritarian approach, the Tory libertarians have nowhere to go. The anti-lockdown movement has a legitimate place in the public debate, but it is powerless to prevent the curfew, surveillance and social isolation juggernaut from crashing through. The pandemic has yet to subside. Until it does, the sad words of King Thoden will echo through Englands green but not so pleasant land: The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow.

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The Tories are divided between libertarians and authoritarians. Who will win? - TheArticle

The American Way – The Standard

By David Todd McCarty | Friday, September 4, 2020

That hot dog youre holding this weekend comes courtesy of organized Labors response to racism, greed, xenophobia, cruelty and oppression that ushered in the eight-hour workday and the concept of the weekend. The thing that gives that Labor Day hot dog its bite, is not the spicy mustard, but the blood, sweat and tears that were shed by millions of workers in their fight for basic dignity. Those poor souls who endured horrific conditions and paltry pay, in order to build the infrastructure of this nation. The immigrants who contributed mightily to the profound wealth of a small minority of this countrys elite that would become our new aristocracy. The new boss, same as the old boss.

It is because of their hardscrabble fight that you have the standard eight-hour work day, any chance at all of working in relatively safe conditions, and the once unthinkably frivolous privilege of the weekend off. Labor Day itself was a holiday born out of an attempt to repair ties with rioting American workers. After years of debilitating strikes, brutal crackdowns and violent uprisings, business leaders finally realized that if they didnt mollify the working class, they would never get anything done. Not to mention the very real fear that they would one day be strung up from a nearby light post, their homes and factories burned to the ground, over the deplorable working conditions they were using in order to exact their untold riches.

The Labor Movement of the late 19th century, was a ragtag collection of socialists, communists and anarchists from Europe who believed the capitalist system should be dismantled because it exploited workers. On May 4, 1886 in Haymarket Square in Chicago, 2000 workers filled the square, protesting appalling working conditions and as police arrived to break up the scene, someone threw a bomb at them, causing the police to open fire. Seven police officers an at least one civilian died. The event, which came to be known as the Haymarket Riot, set off a national wave of xenophobia, as foreign-born radicals were rounded up by police, including eight men accused of being anarchists, who were tried with no evidence linking them to the crime, and sentenced to hang. Four were hung, one died of suicide the night before, one was given fifteen years in prison and two others had their sentences later commuted.

On May 11, 1894, employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike to protest wage cuts and the firing of union representatives. On June 26, the American Railroad Union, called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars, crippling railroad traffic nationwide. To break the Pullman strike, the federal government dispatched troops to Chicago, unleashing a wave of riots that resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen workers.

In the wake of this massive unrest and in an attempt to repair ties with American workers, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed it into law.

The idea of a workingmans holiday, celebrated on the first Monday in September, had already caught on in cities across America, and other states passed legislation recognizing it. Initially, it wasnt anything close to a paid holiday, or even anything official. It was simply a day where no one went to work. They werent given the day off, they took it.

Meanwhile, here in Cape May County, Republican-Controlled Trump Country, we cant be bothered to celebrate Labor Day, or recognize the efforts of the Labor movement in any meaningful way. Instead, the elected leaders of Middle Township, decided to commemorate this hallowed Federal holiday, not by celebrating the labor movement, but by engaging in a state-sponsored religious prayer meeting, partisan political speeches on the value of free speech, thoughts on freedom of the press by Al Campbell, retired Managing Editor of the local conservative media outlet The Herald, and for no earthy reason having anything to do with the labor movement or freedom of speech, a police honor-guard.

Republican Mayor Tim Donohue, who is a vocal Trump supporter, and a big booster of the many Republicans running for office, claimed that the event was not political in nature so equal time for dissenting opinion was not a factor. They didnt feel any need to invite any Democrats, though they did include two Black women, one is a Republican teacher who was invited to speak on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving white women the right to vote, and the other a representative from the local chapter of the NAACP who read a poem she wrote titled, She and spoke about the reality of the Black experience in America.

This is not a political event and the speakers have been ask to speak to the topic of free speech, not the 2020 election, claimed Donohue. The invited speakers are Middle Township residents and their duly elected representatives at the local, county, state and federal level. This is our standard practice for major public events in Middle Township. It just so happens that, at this time, all those elected officials are Republicans. The people voted and the current office holders the people elected have been invited to participate.

The speeches were as predictable as they were forgettable. They contained ridiculous attacks on the Governor for allegedly violating their civil rights in the name of public safety. Reflections on freedom that focused on their right to discriminate, subjugate, exercise hate speech and arm themselves. They celebrated both the police and the military, but not the worker or the oppressed. They decried the leadership of the State, but took no responsibility for the failed leadership of the country. They criticized the civil unrest in our nations cities but failed to recognize the cause. They proclaimed, without a spec of ironically, that this was not the American way, even as they recalled the nations violent revolution. This is a curious aspect of our nations identity that we frame our revolution as a pure act of selfless righteousness, and not a bloody fight for power.

Its worth noting that America was founded by an elite group of wealthy, land owners who convinced the working class to violently overthrow the existing government in the name of liberty, all the while importing African slaves to work the land they were stealing from the natives. They didnt question taxing the people, they simply wanted to change who was doing the taxing.

American history is littered with examples of violence and cruelty, war and unrest, almost always in order to benefit the rich and powerful, and always at the expense of the weak and the poor.

The Labor Movement was an attempt to balance those scales of justice, at least when it came to fair wages for a hard days work. A more level playing field for those who wished to have a bite of the American Dream theyd been promised. A more egalitarian outlook on the future of America.

But it is the very Ayn Rand Republicans who have convinced not only themselves, but the poor, undereducated whites of America, that those in power have no responsibility to anyone other than themselves. The Grand Old Party has set themselves up as the new oppressors of America; the pigs of George Orwells farm wearing pants and drinking brandy. Wealthy businessmen who seek to avoid taxes, eliminate government services, curtail interference in how they make their money, and protection for their interests. They are the new ruling class. One that has managed to convince the populace, much like they did in the late 18th century, that the empty promises of liberty and freedom, are what they will be given, if only they hand over their gold and silver.

Political parties in America are designed to acquire and hold power in the hands of the few. Labor Unions were established as an attempt to provide a counterweight to that extreme power, and more equitably distribute it among the masses so that more might benefit. This isnt socialism or communism, its just a fair market.

We claim to value freedom, equality and democracy in America, but too many of our leaders believe that power should be held by them alone. No one in power truly values democracy, or wishes to be questioned. They have no desire to be considered your equal. They expect to be praised and thanked and handsomely rewarded, not criticized.

If Labor Day teaches us anything, it is that we will never receive our due by waiting and hoping for someone to give it to us, we must take it.

Because like it or not, that is the American way.

Follow David Todd McCarty on Twitter @davidtmccarty and The Standard @capemaystandard

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The American Way - The Standard

Dave Rubin’s Galaxy Brain – Splice Today

Last month, Dave Rubin, host of The Rubin Report, predicted Donald Trump would get 30 percent of the black vote in November, even though he only received eight percent of that vote in 2016. That was just the latest reminder that Rubin's the only non-intellectual member of the Intellectual Dark Web, which is putting it kindly. The podcast host claims hes a "facts over feelings" guy, but you'd be hard pressed to find political analysis as dopey as that in even the dimmest corners of the Internet.

Although I had some fondness for Rubin when he left Cenk Ugyur's unwatchable The Young Turks and began pushing back against progressive orthodoxies, his approach to airing his newfound political views soon wore on me. The guy tried too hard to promote himself as one of the few enlightened liberals who can have a civil conversation with anyone, regardless of their politics. Rubin's fawning over now-canceled Milo Yiannopoulos on The Rubin Report rubbed me the wrong way, but the final straw was his interviewwith Stefan Molyneux, who went on at length, and unchallenged, about the intellectual inferiority of black people due to genetics. Here's a quote from the interview that Rubin let stand: "If a white kid is raised by a black family, hell end up with a 100 IQ, but if a black kid is raised by an upper middle class white or Jewish family hell end up with an 85 IQ. In other words, its all genetics."

Since then, Rubin has regularly made ludicrous comments. While choosing the worst is challenging, a top contender was when he said that he and Molyneux were part of the "new center." Challenged on saying this about someone often associated with the alt-right, Rubin denied having said it, even though he was caught on videosaying it. If Rubin's going to be one of those people who choose to gaslight instead of admitting to making a mistake, he's going to have to learn how to lie convincingly. Perhaps he should study master gaslighter Trump, the man he admires but doesn't have the courage to endorse by name. As close as he's come is to tell Democrats to vote for Republicans in November.

Joe Rogan has caught on to Rubin's act. On one of his recent podcasts, he talked about how it's possible to be friends with people he disagrees with as long as their beliefs are sincere. "But if someone's a grifter," he said, "you've got to cast them out." The grifter he was referring to was Dave Rubin. Rogan didn't didn't mention Rubin by name, but it's obvious who he was talking about. A forlorn-looking Rubin statedpublicly that he called Rogan "a bajillion times" requesting an appearance on his show to promote his new book, but Rogan wouldn't even return his calls.

Rogan has hosted conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, so you have credibility issues when he ghosts you. Rubin embarrassed himself during his last appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience with a glib libertarian harangue about how the government can't do one single thing right. He chose the USPS as an example of government inefficiency, blathering on about how the price of sending a letter would drop if the USPS no longer existed because "competition would start kicking in" from "UPS and Amazon and Fedex and drones and blah blah blah." So the low-cost provider is eliminated, but that somehow increases competition, and prices go down? He was as coherent as a beauty contest contestant trying to explain how she'd achieve world peace.

Rubin wasn't done humiliating himself. To illustrate his point, he told Rogan he had a good story for him. He talked about recently purchasing some newborn chicks for his backyard via USPS, which delivered them overnight from Cleveland to L.A. That's the whole story. That's rightto illustrate the inefficiency of the USPS, Rubin explained what a good job they did. Rogan, sounding bored and annoyed with his guest's ramblings, then turned the screw, pointing out that the USPS is the only enterprise that will ship baby chickens, something it's been doing since the 1800s. Rubin stammered that he was sure that UPS and FedEx would deliver chicks in the absence of the USPS, even though they'll deliver almost anything now but have chosen not to ship this item.

Rubin has made a lot of money by appealing to conservatives who like to hear a so-called liberal dump on his own tribe. But being for gay marriage and the legalization of marijuana doesn't make him a liberal. Rubin calls himself a classical liberal, but he's really a libertarian. He often sounds like the college freshman who returns home for Christmas after having read Ayn Rand for the first time. In other words, his enthusiasm exceeds his knowledge. He doesn't know that though. "My brain is still in recovery mode," he said not long ago, "taking in so many high-level ideas."

Judging by some of the unintelligible things Rubin says, that recovery is going to take a long time. Discussing his decision to remain in L.A. after contemplating leaving, he saidthis on The Rubin Report: "If someone like me can't live in Californialike it's become so extremethen the American experiment is over. Okay, we're in civil war." Sometimes the guy gets a little dramatic.

Rogan said Rubin needs to admit he's wrong and apologize. It's unlikely that hed upset his gravy train by doing that, but one things certainDave Rubin is not someone to be taken seriously when he talks about ideas.

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Dave Rubin's Galaxy Brain - Splice Today

Is Ethereum left and Bitcoin right? Cointelegraph Magazine – Cointelegraph

Hacktivist Bitcoin developer Amir Taaki took aim at Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin on Twitter recently for essentially writing off smart contracts inventor Nick Szabo as a right-wing crank.

Taaki wrote that this sort of attitude was typical of an Eth[ereum] culture which is about sparkling burner parties, privileged digital nomads, microdosing LSD, sex orgies and social-justice / vague doing-good.

Pretty much everyone had the same initial thought: Why arent I getting invited to these parties?

But Taakis comments also highlighted the political divisions between Ethereum and Bitcoin. Is it really as simple as Bitcoiners lean to the right and Ethereans lean to the left?

You can make up your own mind about Nick Szabos views, thanks to this obsessively curated list of his tweets. Buterin characterizes Szabos utterances as bad faith arguing and incholate yelling. He appears to regret naming a denomination of Ethereum after Szabo.

But Taaki, who is British-Iranian, took exception to white-leftypol Ethereans canceling Szabo because he doesnt fit their worldview and wrote in a tweet that they reminded him of white left (fake socialists) on an anti-rascist crusade.

Its neo-colonialist white saviour attitude, he wrote. Eth is exactly this.

To be fair, Ether isnt exactly like that, but there are definitely some elements that might lead you to draw that conclusion. To take one example, the man sometimes referred to as Ethereums chief economic thinker is self-proclaimed social liberal radical Glen Weyl, who founded RadicalxChange. Thats the sort of progressive, nonprofit outfit that thinks the No. 1 most crucial thing to inform new visitors to its website is not what it actually does some sort of think-tank stuff? but that it stands with the social justice movements Black Lives Matters and Global Pride. Buterin is a big fan of Weyls and sits on the board of RadicalxChange. The pair have held lengthy email exchanges about his societal engineering ideas, which include imposing a tax to penalize using standard white English or taxing masculinity to subsidize femininity. A proponent of a Universal Basic Income and quadratic voting, Weyl gave a speech at Ethereums DevCon that he described as a rally cry against extreme individualism and capitalism. At its conclusion, he explicitly asked for questions from women and minority groups first. Of course, Ethereum conferences are just as full of nerdy white men as the rest of crypto, but at least the first guy to ask a question had the good grace to apologize for that fact.

Try that kind of left-wing malarky at a meet-up for hardcore Bitcoiners, though, and you could bring a firestorm down on your head, as the author of Mastering Bitcoin: Unlocking Digital Cryptocurrencies, Andreas M. Antonopolous, found out when he asked his audience for a few suggestions of podcasts he could appear on that werent the stereotypical white, male, finance-focused podcasters he talks to endlessly, as he wanted to reach out to a broader audience.

This seemingly innocuous request outraged his fanbase (which may have some crossover with the Gamergate crowd) and caused a Twitter storm, with users complaining about how Bitcoin doesnt care about identity politics and getting their noses out of joint at his outrageous rejection of meritocracy by trying to chat to some different people. Even Bitcoin icon Hodlonaut questioned his focus on race and gender.

Antonopolous was unrepentant. I will not apologize for being an SJW, he wrote, characterizing the backlash as: A lot of whining because I didnt allow the implicit bias to drive 90% of my podcast interviews but only 75-80%. Oh the horror.

Bitcoiners and Ethereans clearly have differences, which is why Crypto Twitter is beset with largely pointless debates about supply gate and pre-mined coin scams. When Peter McCormack, the host of What Bitcoin Did, asked his followers What is BTC v ETH really about? influencer American Hodl summed it up as: Liberals do Ethereum and Conservatives do Bitcoin.

Its not quite that simple of course: Plenty of left-wing people are into Bitcoin, and plenty of right-wing people like Ether. Even Weyl cant be easily boxed into the left or the right, as he somehow manages to combine his love of socialism with a love of right-wing libertarian hero Ayn Rand. As Bitcoin.com founder Roger Ver told Cointelegraph Magazine: Both camps are so big now that there are people from every political persuasion involved now.And politics understandably comes a distant second when theres money to be made. As DeFi influencer Degen Spartan said when explaining that hes not a Bitcoin maximalist or an Ethereum maximalist: Im a profit Maxi.

But still, there is a widespread perception that those with conservative or right-wing ideas are more drawn to Bitcoin and those of a more progressive bent support Team Ethereum. A CoinDesk survey of 1,200 crypto users in 2018 lent weight to this idea, finding that 55% of Ethereans tended left, while 55% of Bitcoiners tended Right. A further 3% of Bitcoiners claimed to be nihilists, which may explain all those Pepe the Frog crypto edgelords on 4chan.

(As an interesting aside, the more hard currency focused the coin, the more right wing, with Monero coming in at 57% right wing, Bitcoin Cash (63%) and Litecoin (69%). The DASH guys must have cupboards full of MAGA hats and Tiki Torches because 78% of them are on the right.)

Quantum Economics founder Mati Greenspan says there are philosophical differences between the two leading cryptocurrency projects that help explain these tendencies.

It makes sense given the nature of what the coins do, he said. I would assume that most people that are into Bitcoin are people who advocate for less government intervention and especially less government intervention in money simply because thats what Bitcoin was built for.

As far as Ethereum is concerned, that has many more practical applications that dont necessarily have to do with governments or banking or even finance in general. It appeals to anyone whos into technology.

Greenspan cautions that hes not basing his views on hard data but says that from what hes observed: People who prefer Bitcoin are the type of people who are kind of set in their ways, or that are of a strong mind. Whereas people who use Ethereum and other altcoins are generally going to be more people who are more open to new ideas.

Professor David Golumbia is the author of The Politics of Bitcoin: Software as Right-Wing Extremism. In the polemic, he argues that not only was Bitcoin borne out of the right-wing libertarian culture of the cypherpunks but that the technology itself is inherently right wing.

Theres little doubt that key figures in Bitcoins prehistory such as Eric Hughes, Timothy C. May and John Gilmore were staunch libertarians. They opposed big government and taxation and worried about privacy, the rise of the surveillance state and freedom of speech.

Golumbia says the ideas of right-wing Austrian economist Murray Rothbard, who coined the political philosophy anarcho-capitalism, were also very influential to Bitcoins early days. That extremely libertarian form of politics that advocates for the elimination of centralized states in favor of self-ownership, private property and laissez-faire style free markets obviously will sound familiar to anyone who has been around Bitcoiners.

It was born out of anarcho-capitalism, Golumbia says of Bitcoin. Rothbard has these ideas that there is a single thing called the State whose only point of existence is to enslave people. The only free individual is somebody who is free of government. And these people believed and they still believe that it was possible to use encryption technology to hide oneself from the state.

In Golumbias view, Bitcoin was designed to become the currency of this new realm, money outside of the control of the state. (Golumbias theory runs into trouble attributing this political ideology to Satoshi Nakamoto directly, and he barely mentions him in our hour-long chat.)

Needless to say, Golumbia is not a fan of the whole culture. He calls May the author of the Crypto Anarchist Manifesto a pretty racist, sexist, very disturbing guy and paints a portrait of the cypherpunk mailing list as a sort of alt-right techie version of the Tea Party.

It is really loud and vicious when you read it, full of hate directed at a lot of people. It intersects with a lot of other anti-government movements we have in the world, he said.

Needless to say, this view is highly contested. McCormack called it insulting when I described it to him.

They were certainly paranoid, and I think legitimately paranoid, said McCormack. But I wouldnt say right wing at all. I would almost imagine a lot of them apolitical. They just wanted to build a better world.

I consider them a group of freedom fighters who recognize the overreach of the state, the risks associated with lack of privacy, increases in surveillance, and abuse of the money system by corrupt politicians. They wanted to build tools and technologies to free themselves.

I think if anything, theyre a group of fucking heroes.

Bitcoin.com founder Roger Ver said that when he got involved in 2011, the early Bitcoiners were all libertarians with a strong belief in free markets. He doesnt see such views as right wing. Just read about the thoughts of early Bitcoiners like myself, Ross Ulbricht, Gavin Andresen, and others, he said. We were all libertarians, not conservatives or right-wingers.

Voluntaryism which is an offshoot of anarcho-capitalism was what motivated me and others to get involved and promote Bitcoin early on.

Bitcoin was made up and promoted by a bunch of anarcho-capitalists originally. Later, its development community was taken over by a bunch of blue-haired San Francisco leftists types. Most of the AnCaps have moved on to coins like BCH, or ETH.

Kain Warwick, the founder of Ethereum-based DeFi protocol Synthetix, said that no one involved in the early days of Bitcoin could correctly be called a conservative.

You couldnt be a conservative in the sense of trying to maintain the status quo in the legacy financial system. You had to see some problem that you thought needed to be solved in order for Bitcoin to make sense to you, he said.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, those blue-haired leftists were gaining numbers. Buterin describes two strands of political thought growing together in Bitcoins early days. In the crypto space, as early as in 2010 or 2012, there were a lot of people interested in libertarianism, and a lot of people interested in socialism, Buterin said. There was this kind of idealistic energy.

While the two strands can be reconciled, Ethereans approach to rapid technological progress and evolving codebases is much more difficult to reconcile with Bitcoiners who are invested in protecting the fundamental properties of Bitcoin. successfully merge. As Bitcoins ideology around hard money, fixed supply, decentralization and security became stronger, the Bitcoin community became more resistant to changes to its fundamental properties. Something Ver discovered during the damaging block size debate that led to the creation of Bitcoin Cash.

Bitcoin Magazine co-founder Buterin also ran up against an unwillingness to experiment when he argued in 2013 that Bitcoin needed a scripting language for application development. When he failed to get support, he launched Ethereum in January 2014.

Viewed this way, the BitcoinEthereum battle is not so much Left vs. Right, but Progress vs. Stability. If, as Warwick said, no one in the early days of Bitcoin could be conservatives, then have Bitcoiners now become the new conservatives set on maintaining the crypto-financial order?

Jonathan Haidt, in The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, makes the point that Liberals and Conservatives are both largely correct about their central concerns they just prioritize different values and dont understand where the other side is coming from. The same is probably true for Bitcoin and Ethereum. For many Bitcoiners, its all about hard money, stability, immutability and security, so theyre unwilling to risk whats been built. Why improve on perfection? That makes Ethereum a fail. But for many Ethereans, its all about experimenting in the name of making technological progress, which makes Bitcoin a fail. If a few things get broken along the way like the DAO hack, ICO scammers and DeFi smart contract bugs thats just the cost of progress.

Id rather avoid left and right wing, said Bitcoiner McCormack. Id rather say Bitcoin is conservative; therefore, its likely to attract more people with conservative viewpoints.

Move slowly. Dont fuck this up. This is the best money weve ever had. Its slowly, slowly simple, simple.

And yes, Ethereum you could argue is McCormack clearly couldnt bring himself to call Ethereum more progressive. Instead he said: I think Ethereum people just want to go out and experiment, kind of like scientists, experimental technologists. They want to do a lot more with it.

Warwick is one of those scientists who is comfortable with change. Synthetix began life as a stablecoin project, morphed into synthetic derivatives, and continues to reinvent itself once or twice a year as new ideas come along.

He attempted to integrate Bitcoin with online payments in 2012 but saw the technology as a starting point, rather than a finished product.

People who wanted to opt out of the legacy financial system, a lot of those people, you know, ended up in Bitcoin, he said. And then people who wanted to kind of extend the power of Bitcoin and extend the potential of what could be built ended up in Ethereum. If you didnt end up in Ethereum, almost by definition, you were someone who was kind of less open to innovation and more conservative.

Greenspan makes the point that Bitcoin is also much bigger, which limits its ability to turn on a dime.

Bitcoin is a whale compared to Ethereum, which is more like a fly but you know, flies can move a lot faster than whales can, he said. They can do different things. Sometimes theyll keep running into a window in the hope of finding an exit, whereas whales are pretty predictable. Theyre not going to suddenly turn around and go the other way.

Warwick believes that the Ethereum community embraces more progressive politics.

The Crypto Twitter that Im in is very deep Ethereum Twitter, he explained. There is an awareness of societal issues outside of just financial infrastructure. I think that people are much more open to these things and some questioning of the structure of society and how its evolved, he said.

This political bent shares some similarities with Silicon Valleys left-wing, utopian politics, where technology is seen as something that can kind of solve all of the worlds problems.

I am very sympathetic to that view, Warwick said. One of the interesting things about Ethereum is this idea of restructuring the financial infrastructure of the world to make it more open and transparent, and lower barriers to entry. I think its really powerful. Technological progress could be one of the biggest levers that weve ever seen in terms of improving the world. So, I still am hopeful and optimistic about technological progress.Which isnt to say many Bitcoiners dont also dream of a better and brighter future due to Bitcoins innate properties. But theres also considerable focus on Bitcoin as an insurance policy against hyperinflation and the collapse of fiat, which is an altogether more dystopian future.

McCormack has a much less positive view of Ethereums grand ambitions. I think theres a lot more interference on the left, a lot more desire for rules about what you can, you cant do, for that kind of stupid equality of outcome, he said. I think, I think you may find that a little bit of that in the Bitcoin versus Ethereum thing. I have noticed that Vitalik tends to express more socialist opinions, which is perhaps why Ethereums monetary policy is looser than that of Bitcoin.

Having an undisputed leader like Buterin in a decentralized project also sees Ethereum accused of top-down control and centralized planning. Bitcoin maximalist Samson Mow from Blockstream attacked Buterin on McCormacks podcast in mid-August for saying years ago that the internet of money should not cost five cents a transaction.That is very anti-free market, Mow claimed. Thats a Soviet-type economic event. Thats a central planning agency that sets the levels of production wages and prices of goods, whereas I think most Bitcoiners are very free market and capitalists, which is, you know, transactions will cost what they cost.On HackerNoon, journalist Kay Kurokawa wrote of Ethereum that its leftist tendency is made clear by the grandiose plans of its developers and the actions it has taken to resolve difficult situations such as the DAO hack. Their proposed move to proof of stake will certainly move Ethereum even further to the left.But for all of this criticism of Ethereums politics, its not a particularly ideological project. McCormack himself made this point at the end of the Buterin/Samson Mow debate.

For me, I think whats really missing in Ethereum is a strong philosophical backbone, he said. And thats what Bitcoin has, and why we dont have yield farming and YAMs and all this bullshit existing on Bitcoin because its very simple and just focused on one thing, which is what I like about it.

In the end, what unites people in the blockchain world is arguably more important than what divides us. One thing that almost everyone interviewed for this piece agreed on was that there continues to be a wide streak of libertarianism running through crypto culture. Although what is known as Libertarianism is most closely associated these days with guns and freedom lovers on the American right, there have been plenty of left-wing libertarian movements over the years from the peace and love hippies to anti-authoritarian punk rockers. Libertarianism is probably best described as a preference thats at the opposite end of the scale to authoritarianism.

I think a lot of the people who are building the space truly believe that there are fundamental flaws in the status quo and want to fix them, and I think that most of the time, or quite often, that does come from some sense of anti-authoritarianism or being against the establishment, said Warwick.

At a deeper level, anti-authoritarianism seems baked into the design of blockchain itself. Authoritarian elements on the far left and the far right might want to impose their crackpot ideologies by force, but that cant happen with a genuinely decentralized blockchain project because there is no central authority able to impose it.

Decentralization is a libertarian concept by nature. For sure, said Greenspan.

Originally posted here:

Is Ethereum left and Bitcoin right? Cointelegraph Magazine - Cointelegraph

Get Ready for the Great Urban Comeback – The Atlantic

On December 16, 1835, New Yorks rivers turned to ice, and Lower Manhattan went up in flames. Smoke had first appeared curling through the windows of a five-story warehouse near the southern tip of Manhattan. Icy gales blew embers into nearby buildings, and within hours the central commercial district had become an urban bonfire visible more than 100 miles away.

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Firefighters were helpless. Wells and cisterns held little free-flowing water, and the rivers were frozen solid on a night when temperatures plunged, by one account, to 17 degrees below zero. The fire was contained only after Mayor Cornelius Lawrence ordered city officials to blow up structures surrounding it, starving the flames of fuel.

A new Manhattan would grow from the rubblemade of stone rather than wood, with wider streets and taller buildings. But the most important innovation lay outside the city. Forty-one miles to the north, New York officials acquired a large tract of land on both sides of the Croton River, in Westchester County. They built a dam on the river to create a 400-acre lake, and a system of underground tunnels to carry fresh water to every corner of New York City.

The engineering triumph known as the Croton Aqueduct opened in 1842. It gave firefighters an ample supply of free-flowing water, even in winter. More important, it brought clean drinking water to residents, who had suffered from one waterborne epidemic after another in previous years, and kick-started a revolution in hygiene. Over the next four decades, New Yorks population quadrupled, to 1.2 millionthe city was on its way to becoming a fully modern metropolis.

The 21st-century city is the child of catastrophe. The comforts and infrastructure we take for granted were born of age-old afflictions: fire, flood, pestilence. Our tall buildings, our subways, our subterranean conduits, our systems for bringing water in and taking it away, our building codes and public-health regulationsall were forged in the aftermath of urban disasters by civic leaders and citizen visionaries.

Natural and man-made disasters have shaped our greatest cities, and our ideas about human progress, for millennia. Once Romes ancient aqueducts were no longer functionaldamaged first by invaders and then ravaged by timethe citys population dwindled to a few tens of thousands, reviving only during the Renaissance, when engineers restored the flow of water. The Lisbon earthquake of 1755 proved so devastating that it caused Enlightenment philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau to question the very merits of urban civilization and call for a return to the natural world. But it also led to the birth of earthquake engineering, which has evolved to make San Francisco, Tokyo, and countless other cities more resilient.

Derek Thompson: Hygiene theater is a huge waste of time

Americas fractious and tragic response to the COVID-19 pandemic has made the nation look more like a failed state than like the richest country in world history. Doom-scrolling through morbid headlines in 2020, one could easily believe that we have lost our capacity for effective crisis response. And maybe we have. But a major crisis has a way of exposing what is broken and giving a new generation of leaders a chance to build something better. Sometimes the ramifications of their choices are wider than one might think.

As Charles Dickens famously described, British cities in the early years of the Industrial Revolution were grim and pestilential. London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leedsthey didnt suffer from individual epidemics so much as from overlapping, never-ending waves of disease: influenza, typhoid, typhus, tuberculosis. They were also filled with human waste. It piled up in basements, spilled from gutters, rotted in the streets, and fouled rivers and canals. In Nottinghamthe birthplace of the Luddite movement, which arose to protest textile automationa typical gallon of river water contained 45 grams of solid effluent. Imagine a third of a cup of raw sewage in a gallon jug.

Read: Is progress good for humanity?

No outbreak during the industrial age shocked British society as much as the cholera epidemic in 1832. In communities of 100,000 people or more, average life expectancy at birth fell to as low as 26 years. In response, a young government official named Edwin Chadwick, a member of the new Poor Law Commission, conducted an inquiry into urban sanitation. A homely, dyspeptic, and brilliant protg of the utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham, Chadwick had farsighted ideas for government. They included shortening the workday, shifting spending from prisons to preventive policing, and establishing government pensions. With a team of researchers, Chadwick undertook one of the earliest public-health investigations in historya hodgepodge of mapmaking, census-taking, and dumpster diving. They looked at sewers, dumps, and waterways. They interviewed police officers, factory inspectors, and others as they explored the relationship between city design and disease proliferation.

The final report, titled The Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population of Great Britain, published in 1842, caused a revolution. Conventional wisdom at the time held that disease was largely the result of individual moral shortcomings. Chadwick showed that disease arose from failures of the urban environment. Urban disease, he calculated, was creating more than 1 million new orphans in Britain each decade. The number of people who had died of poverty and disease in British cities in any given year in the 1830s, he found, was greater than the annual death toll of any military conflict in the empires history. The cholera outbreak was a major event that forced the British government to reckon with the costs of industrial capitalism. That reckoning would also change the way Western cities thought about the role of the state in ensuring public health.

The source of the cholera problem? All that filthy water. Chadwick recommended that the government improve drainage systems and create local councils to clear away refuse and nuisancehuman and animal wastefrom homes and streets. His investigation inspired two key pieces of national legislation, both passed in 1848: the Public Health Act and the Nuisances Removal and Diseases Prevention Act. A new national Board of Health kept the pressure on public authorities. The fruits of engineering (paved streets, clean water, sewage disposal) and of science (a better understanding of disease) led to healthier lives, and longer ones. Life expectancy reached 40 in England and Wales in 1880, and exceeded 60 in 1940.

Chadwicks legacy went beyond longevity statistics. Although he is not often mentioned in the same breath as Karl Marx or Friedrich Engels, his work was instrumental in pushing forward the progressive revolution in Western government. Health care and income support, which account for the majority of spending by almost every developed economy in the 21st century, are descendants of Chadwicks report. David Rosner, a history and public-health professor at Columbia University, puts it simply: If I had to think of one person who truly changed the world in response to an urban crisis, I would name Edwin Chadwick. His population-based approach to the epidemics of the 1830s developed a whole new way of thinking about disease in the next half century. He invented an entire ethos of public health in the West.

Everyone knows the story: On the night of October 8, 1871, a fire broke out in a barn owned by Patrick and Catherine OLeary in southwest Chicago. Legend blames a cow tipping over a lantern. Whatever the cause, gusty winds drove the fire northeast, toward Lake Michigan. In the go-go, ramshackle era of 19th-century expansion, two-thirds of Chicagos structures were built of timber, making the city perfect kindling. In the course of three days, the fire devoured 20,000 buildings. Three hundred people died. A third of the city was left without shelter. The entire business districtthree square mileswas a wasteland.

On October 11, as the city smoldered, the Chicago Tribune published an editorial with an all-caps headline: cheer up. The newspaper went on: In the midst of a calamity without parallel in the worlds history, looking upon the ashes of thirty years accumulations, the people of this once beautiful city have resolved that chicago shall rise again. And, with astonishing speed, it did. By 1875, tourists arriving in Chicago looking for evidence of the fire complained that there was little to see. Within 20 years, Chicagos population tripled, to 1 million. And by the end of the century, the fire-flattened business district sprouted scores of buildings taller than you could find anywhere else in the world. Their unprecedented height earned these structures a new name: skyscraper.

The Chicago fire enabled the rise of skyscrapers in three major ways. First, it made land available for new buildings. The fire may have destroyed the business district, but the railway system remained intact, creating ideal conditions for new construction. So much capital flowed into Chicago that downtown real-estate prices actually rose in the first 12 months after the fire. The 1871 fire wiped out the rich business heart of the city, and so there was lots of money and motivation to rebuild immediately, Julius L. Jones, an assistant curator at the Chicago History Museum, told me. It might have been different if the fire had just wiped out poor areas and left the banks and business offices alone. Whats more, he said, the city used the debris from the fire to extend the shoreline into Lake Michigan and create more land.

Derek Thompson: The workforce is about to change dramatically

Second, a combination of regulatory and technological developments changed what Chicago was made of. Insurance companies and city governments mandated fire-resistant construction. At first, Chicago rebuilt with brick, stone, iron. But over time, the urge to create a fireproof city in an environment of escalating real-estate prices pushed architects and builders to experiment with steel, a material made newly affordable by recent innovations. Steel-skeleton frames not only offered more protection from fire; they also supported more weight, allowing buildings to grow taller.

Third, and most important, post-fire reconstruction brought together a cluster of young architects who ultimately competed with one another to build higher and higher. In the simplest rendition of this story, the visionary architect William Le Baron Jenney masterminded the construction of what is considered historys first skyscraper, the 138-foot-tall Home Insurance Building, which opened in 1885. But the skyscrapers invention was a team effort, with Jenney serving as a kind of player-coach. In 1882, Jenneys apprentice, Daniel Burnham, had collaborated with another architect, John Root, to design the 130-foot-tall Montauk Building, which was the first high steel building to open in Chicago. Another Jenney protg, Louis Sullivan, along with Dankmar Adler, designed the 135-foot-tall Wainwright Building, the first skyscraper in St. Louis. Years later, Ayn Rand would base The Fountainhead on a fictionalized version of Sullivan and his protg, Frank Lloyd Wright. It is a false narrative: Sullivan and Wright are depicted as lone eagles, paragons of rugged individualism, Edward Glaeser wrote in Triumph of the City. They werent. They were great architects deeply enmeshed in an urban chain of innovation.

It is impossible to know just how much cities everywhere have benefited from Chicagos successful experiments in steel-skeleton construction. By enabling developers to add great amounts of floor space without needing additional ground area, the skyscraper has encouraged density. Finding ways to safely fit more people into cities has led to a faster pace of innovation, greater retail experimentation, and more opportunities for middle- and low-income families to live near business hubs. People in dense areas also own fewer cars and burn hundreds of gallons less gasoline each year than people in nonurban areas. Ecologically and economically, and in terms of equity and opportunity, the skyscraper, forged in the architectural milieu of post-fire Chicago, is one of the most triumphant inventions in urban history.

March 10, 1888, was a gorgeous Saturday in New York City. Walt Whitman, the staff poet at The New York Herald, used the weekend to mark the end of winter: Forth from its sunny nook of shelterd grassinnocent, golden, calm as the dawn / The springs first dandelion shows its trustful face. On Saturday evening, the citys meteorologist, known lovingly as the weather prophet to local newspapers, predicted more fair weather followed by a spot of rain. Then the weather prophet went home and took Sunday off.

Meanwhile, two storms converged. From the Gulf of Mexico, a shelf of dark clouds soaked with moisture crept north. And from the Great Lakes, a cold front that had already smothered Minnesota with snow rolled east. The fronts collided over New York City.

Residents awoke on Monday, the day Whitmans poem was published, to the worst blizzard in U.S. history. By Thursday morning, the storm had dumped more than 50 inches of snow in parts of the Northeast. Snowdrifts were blown into formations 50 feet high. Food deliveries were suspended, and mothers ran short on milk. Hundreds died of exposure and starvation. Like the Lisbon earthquake more than a century before, the blizzard of 1888 was not just a natural disaster; it was also a psychological blow. The great machine of New York seized up and went silent. Its nascent electrical system failed. Industries stopped operating. The elevated railways service broke down completely, the New York Weekly Tribune reported on March 14:

The New York now buried under snow had been a steampunk jungle. Elevated trains clang-clanged through neighborhoods; along the streets, electrical wires looped and drooped from thousands of poles. Yet 20 years after the storm, the trains and wires had mostly vanishedat least so far as anyone aboveground could see. To protect its most important elements of infrastructure from the weather, New York realized, it had to put them underground.

First, New York buried the wires. In early 1889, telegraph, telephone, and utility companies were given 90 days to get rid of all their visible infrastructure. New Yorks industrial forest of utility poles was cleared, allowing some residents to see the street outside their windows for the first time. Underground conduits proved cheaper to maintain, and they could fit more bandwidth, which ultimately meant more telephones and more electricity.

Second, and even more important, New York buried its elevated trains, creating the countrys most famous subway system. An underground rapid transit system would have done what the elevated trains could not do, The New York Times had written in the days after the blizzard, blasting the inadequacy of the elevated railroad system to such an emergency. Even without a blizzard, as Doug Most details in The Race Underground, New Yorks streets were becoming impassable scrums of pedestrians, trolleys, horses, and carriages. The year before the blizzard, the elevated rails saw an increase of 13 million passengers. The need for some alternativeand likely subterraneanform of transportation was obvious. London had opened the first part of its subway system several decades earlier. In New York, the blizzard was the trigger.

New York is built on disasters, Mitchell L. Moss, a professor of urban policy and planning at NYU, told me recently. Theres the 1835 fire, and the construction of the Croton Aqueduct. Theres the 1888 blizzard, and the construction of the subway. Theres the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, which killed 146 workers in Manhattan. Frances Perkins would say, The New Deal started with the factory fire, because it was the disaster that led to a New York State commission on labor conditions, which in turn led to the eight-hour workday. In all of these physical disasters, New York City has responded by changing for the better.

Read: How Frances Perkins, the first woman in the U.S. Cabinet, found her vocation

In October 1904, after years of political fights, contractor negotiations, and engineering challenges, New Yorks first subway line opened. In a lightning-bolt shape, it ran north from city hall to Grand Central Station, hooked west along 42nd Street, and then turned north again at Times Square, running all the way to 145th Street and Broadway, in Harlem. Operated by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, the 28-stop subway line was known as the IRT. Just months later, New York faced a crucial test: another massive winter storm. As the blizzard raged, the IRT superintendent reported 446,000 passengers transported, a record daily high achieved without a single mishap.

Not all calamities summon forth the better angels of our nature. A complete survey of urban disasters might show something closer to the opposite: Status-quo bias can prove more powerful than the need for urgent change. As U.S. manufacturing jobs declined in the latter half of the 20th century, cities like Detroit and Youngstown, Ohio, fell into disrepair, as leaders failed to anticipate what the transition to a postindustrial future would require. When business districts are destroyedas in Chicago in 1871an influx of capital may save the day. But when the urban victims are poor or minorities, post-crisis rebuilding can be slow, if it happens at all. Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans in 2005 and displaced countless low-income residents, many of whom never returned. Some cataclysms are not so much about bricks and mortar as they are about inequality and injustice. Natural disasters on their own dont do anything to stem injustice, observes Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, a professor of African American studies at Princeton. Without social movements or social upheaval, the recognition of inequities never progresses beyond an acknowledgment that We have a long way to go.

Still, catastrophes can fix our minds on a common crisis, pull down political and regulatory barriers that stand in the way of progress, and spur technological leaps, bringing talent and money together to solve big problems. Disasters reveal problems that already existed, and in doing so, create an opportunity to go back and do what you should have done the first time, Mitchell Moss said. New York City didnt have to suffer a devastating fire in 1835 to know that it needed a freshwater source. Nonetheless, when Lower Manhattan burned, city leaders were persuaded to act.

Normal times do not offer a convenient news peg for slow-rolling catastrophes. When we look at the world around usat outdated or crumbling infrastructure, at inadequate health care, at racism and povertyit is all too easy to cultivate an attitude of small-minded resignation: This is just the way it has always been. Calamity can stir us from the trance of complacency and force us to ask first-principle questions about the world: What is a community for? How is it put together? What are its basic needs? How should we provide them?

These are the questions we should be asking about our own world as we confront the coronavirus pandemic and think about what should come after. The most important changes following past catastrophes went beyond the catastrophe itself. They accounted fully for the problems that had been revealed, and conceived of solutions broadly. New York did not react to the blizzard of 1888 by stockpiling snow shovels. It created an entire infrastructure of subterranean power and transit that made the city cleaner, more equitable, and more efficient.

The response to COVID-19 could be similarly far-reaching. The greatest lesson of the outbreak may be that modern cities are inadequately designed to keep us safe, not only from coronaviruses, but from other forms of infectious disease and from environmental conditions, such as pollution (which contributes to illness) and overcrowding (which contributes to the spread of illness). What if we designed a city with a greater awareness of all threats to our health?

The responses could start with a guarantee of universal health care, whatever the specific mechanism. COVID-19 has shown that our survival is inextricably connected to the health of strangers. Because of unequal access to health care, among other reasons, many peopleespecially low-income and nonwhite Americanshave been disproportionately hard-hit by the pandemic. People with low incomes are more likely than others to live in multigenerational households, making pathways of transmission more varied. People with serious preexisting conditions have often lacked routine access to preventive careand people with such conditions have experienced higher rates of mortality from COVID-19. When it comes to infectious diseases, a risk to anyone is a risk to everyone. Meanwhile, because of their size, density, and exposure to foreign travelers, cities initially bore the brunt of this pandemic. There is no reason to think the pattern will change. In an age of pandemics, universal health care is not just a safety net; it is a matter of national security.

City leaders could redesign cities to save lives in two ways. First, they could clamp down on automotive traffic. While that may seem far afield from the current pandemic, long-term exposure to pollution from cars and trucks causes more than 50,000 premature deaths a year in the United States, according to a 2013 study. Respiratory conditions aggravated by pollution can increase vulnerability to other illnesses, including infectious ones. The pandemic shutdowns have shown us what an alternative urban future might look like. Cities could remove most cars from downtown areas and give these streets back to the people. In the short term, this would serve our pandemic-fighting efforts by giving restaurants and bars more outdoor space. In the long term, it would transform cities for the betteradding significantly more room for walkers and bicycle lanes, and making the urban way of life more healthy and attractive.

Second, cities could fundamentally rethink the design and uses of modern buildings. Future pandemics caused by airborne viruses are inevitableEast Asia has had several this century, alreadyyet too many modern buildings achieve energy efficiency by sealing off outside air, thus creating the perfect petri dish for any disease that thrives in unventilated interiors. Local governments should update ventilation standards to make offices less dangerous. Further, as more Americans work remotely to avoid crowded trains and poorly ventilated offices, local governments should also encourage developers to turn vacant buildings into apartment complexes, through new zoning laws and tax credits. Converting empty offices into apartments would add more housing in rich cities with a shortage of affordable places to live, expand the tax base, and further reduce driving by letting more families make their homes downtown.

Altogether, this is a vision of a 21st-century city remade with public health in mind, achieving the neat trick of being both more populated and more capacious. An urban world with half as many cars would be a triumph. Indoor office and retail space would become less valuable, outdoor space would become more essential, and city streets would be reclaimed by the people.

Right now, with COVID, were all putting our hopes in one thingone cure, one vaccineand it speaks to how narrow our vision of society has become, says Rosner, the Columbia public-health historian. His hero, Chadwick, went further. He used an existential crisis to rewrite the rules of modern governance. He shaped our thinking about the states responsibility to the poor as much as he reshaped the modern city. We should hope that our response to the 2020 pandemic is Chadwickian in its capacity to help us see the preexisting injustices laid bare by this disease.

One day, when COVID-19 is a distant memory, a historian of urban catastrophe might observe, in reviewing the record, that human beings looked up, to the sky, after a fire; looked down, into the earth, after a blizzard; and at last looked around, at one another, after a plague.

This article appears in the October 2020 print edition with the headline How Disaster Shaped the Modern City.

* Illustration by Mark Harris; images from Interborough Rapid Transit Company; National Weather Service; Wiley & Putnam / Artokoloro / British Library / Alamy; Thomas Kelly / Library of Congress

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Get Ready for the Great Urban Comeback - The Atlantic

Q&A: Lucas Wrench of OK #1 | The-voice | tulsapeople.com – tulsapeople.com

Tulsa artist, curator and new DJLucas Wrench has been exploring local and worldwide streaming radio after COVID-19 disrupted his original idea for his space, OK #1. Check below to find 91.1 FM's full schedule. We touched base with Wrench to see how his exploration into radio has been, what is next for his space and much more.

Tell me about OK No.1 in general, what is it?OK #1 is an art space/ community space/ storefront on Route 66 between Yale and Sheridan which opened last September. The goal is to host projects that wouldnt otherwise exist in Tulsa, which leaves it pretty open ended. Tulsa has music venues and some art galleries, so OK #1 is there for activities in the 'other' category. With COVID-19 all the public events transitioned online, and the storefronts become a space for groups that need physical space to meet and organize. The Socialist Rifle Association used it at the start of the pandemic as a warehouse to distribute emergency supplies, street medic groups have been using it as a meeting and training space, and now its also HQ for the radio station.

Tell me about the radio station! Where did that idea come from? What difficulties have you faced while trying to create it?The project started when a friend gave me an enormous H.A.M. radio antenna thatd been sitting in their backyard. I didnt know very much about radio, so I assumed if I had a huge antenna it wouldnt be very hard to start a pirate radio station. It eventually turned out that the antenna wasnt the right kind, and everything had to be done from scratch, but by then I was too far gone.

More broadly, COVID-19 necessitates thinking of new ways to present work, and radio is tried and true. KCHUNG is a community-run pirate radio station in LA I was inspired by, and other cities have similar projects. Especially now that music venues are shut down, it seemed like thered be a lot of interest in that kind of community radio model here in Tulsa.

Im hoping to get to the point where the station can run on its own, and OK #1 is just providing the space. I dont want to be determining the content or schedule or who gets a show. The idea is its open to anyone who wants to participate.

What plays on the radio station and where can people hear it?Anything the DJs want to play! We broadcast on 91.1 FM, with a range of about two miles from the storefront, but it varies with the weather and elevation and all that. East of the space is downhill so it reaches further. Its also streaming online worldwide at okno.one. Were at the point where theres at least one show a day, and lots more are on the way. Theres no official calendar yet but heres the schedule so far:

Travis Mammedatys Red Road Show on Sundays at 4 p.m.

Bad Ground is Sunday at 7 p.m.

DJ No Name is on Mondays at 9:18 p.m.

Lars Gardner and Noah Beal have a show Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m.

Wednesdays we have Elisa Harkins Mvhayv Radio at 5 p.m., Olivia Woodall on at 7 p.m., and Natty Gray on at 8 p.m.

Thursday afternoon from 1-3 p.m. is Food Stamps and Drink Tickets with Kris Rose.

Nathan Young who runs Tulsa Noise is doing a Friday night show at 7 p.m., and DJ $ir Mike is on at 10 p.m.

The worst show by far is my Saturday afternoon talk show where I mostly ramble aimlessly for an hour, and then we have Ghoulies Mansion on Saturday night at 8 p.m.

What else is coming in the future from OK No.1?In September were hosting a video lecture called Obedient x3 by Zach Blas, exploring the bizarre mix of ideologies and influences that shape Silicon Valley and the tech industry more broadly. Its part of a trilogy of queer science fiction Zachs been working on. The last one imagined Ayn Rand on an acid trip encountering the dystopian future of the Internet, this one will get into the Doors and The Lizard King, nootropics, queer utopias, witchcraft, and more!

And then Crystal Campbell and I are working on a series for the end of the year with a group of artists doing really interesting work around archives and archival practices. But lots more schemes on the way. Stay tuned.

Anything else you want to add?Please dont report us to the FCC and please host a show! Its open to all, just get in touch. Also if anyone wants to send us $500, itd let us upgrade the transmitter to get full Tulsa-wide coverage. PayPal.me/OKno1

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Q&A: Lucas Wrench of OK #1 | The-voice | tulsapeople.com - tulsapeople.com

Twitter Had A Meltdown Over What ‘Red Flags’ To Look Out For On a Man’s Bookshelf – Junkee

"Hitting my head with a hammer so I can become illiterate for all the beautiful, amazing Queen's out there"

A single Tweet about the warning signs on a mans bookshelf effectively ruined Twitter for a whole day.

US journalist Jess McHugh started a furor on Tuesday when she tweeted out the top 7 warning signs on a mans bookshelf, listing off a few classics for any intellectual bro Hemingway, Infinite Jest, Bukowski and libertarian Ayn Rand.

The other references felt awfully specific who reads Goethe or says that Lolita or Fathers & Sons, a staple of 19th century Russian literature, is their favourite book?

The tweet caught on, and responses were pretty split between sharp agreeance and mocking, as well as a series of men who then shared their bookshelves or went through the list truly the biggest red-flag of them all.

For some, the post itself was deeply triggering, bringing back memories of boyfriends past.

Wish Id known about the too much Hemingway with my college boyfriend, replied Giulia Pines. He actually READ ME PASSAGES in this swoony voice he always used, like this was the most profound insight into humanity Id ever get.

Many suggested their own personal red-flags. There was the category of books they should have outgrown by adulthood, such as On The Road, Catcher In The Rye and Into The Wild or people who are really into Vonnegut. Then there were suggestions of a good bookshelf, which is just a really embarrassing idea to put out into the world.

Meanwhile, others counter-argued that having an obsession with Young Adult fiction as an adult is far worse than being an insufferable lite-intellectual.

Most people were just pretty frustrated with the earnest traction the tweet got in the first place, given that owning or reading a book doesnt mean you politically align with its message or author, and we also had this conversation 20,000 times on Tumblr back in 2011.

Overall, it was a terrible time on Twitter.com filled with terrible opinions, salvage by the meta-joke responses which laughed at how laughing at someones bookshelf is much more of a red flag than having read Infinite Jest. Enjoy those below.

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Twitter Had A Meltdown Over What 'Red Flags' To Look Out For On a Man's Bookshelf - Junkee

Who Is Keith Raniere of ‘The Vow’ – Where Is He Now? – Men’s Health

Over the next nine weeks, and as NXIVM founder and convicted felon Keith Raniere awaits sentencing for charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy, HBO will air its recent documentary, The Vow, which examines the founding of NXIVM as well as Raniere's own criminal behavior.

The documentary features interviews with former NXIVM members, most notably Mark Vicente and Sarah Edmondson, who discuss their membership to NXIVM and relationship with Raniere. The documentary's existence has already provoked current NXIVM members, many of who have called for other members to petition HBO to remove their likenesses from the documentary.

Though the activities of Raniere and the NXIVM organization are by now widely known, The Vow will provide viewers with additional footage from inside the organization's seminars and will feature more damning interviews.

In the documentary's first episode, we're clued into the early cult of personality, which quickly developed around Raniere, based on claims of aberrational I.Q. scores and musical and athletic abilities. Raniere wasn't merely a leader, members believed, but a genius and visionary. They referred to him, just as he asked, as "Vanguard."

Here's what lay behind Vanguard's veneer.

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Raniere grew up in upstate New York in the 1960s and 70s. His former partner, Barbara Bouchey, later told CBC that Raniere said he first became enlightened at age 13. Bouchey described manipulative behavior even then, with Raniere taking calls from multiple girls, telling each that he loved her. (Bouchey learned this through Raniere's mother.)

Even as he got older, Raniere apparently continued relations with this age group. When he was 24, Raniere had a sexual relationship with at least one 15-year-old girl.

In his 20s, Raniere began developing a personal ethos modeled, in part, on Ayn Rand's objectivismmost notably, the idea that individuals ought to aggressively pursue personal goals.

Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Raniere worked in marketing and founded his own company, which would later be shut down after a civil suit alleged the company to be a pyramid scheme.

In 1998, Raniere created the Executive Success Program (ESP), a motivational group targeting business leaders and rich professionals, offering something of that Ayn Rand-inspired egoism. Five-day lectures could run upwards to $10,000. Word of mouth helped recruit more than 3,000 people to the program over the next five years.

Amy Luke

In a 2003 cover story, Forbes wrote that Raniere had cashed in on the "high-profit fad of executive coaching." The story also noted troubling behavior, as reported by families of ESP members (the organization was by then called NXIVM). These behaviors included alleged psychological manipulation and separation of members from their own families.

NXIVM expanded worldwide. Members then began observing some of Raniere's darker, misogynistic practices. Witnesses at Raniere's trial said he began having sexual relationships with NXIVM members. The women were told that they could only have sex with Raniere, who also ordered women to starve themselves and, according to testimony, made women snort like pigs when eating.

In 2015 Rainere created a special division of NXVIM called "D.O.S.," the acronym based on a Latin phrase. It's rough translation: "Lord/Master of the Obedient Female Companions."

During Raniere's trial, various women testified how they were lured into NXIVM's D.O.S. They said they had been told it was a women's empowerment sorority and that it required "collateral" of them, including explicit photos and information on their families, which could be used to damage their reputations. These women were later branded in ceremonies with a cauterized pen. Their brand: Raniere's name.

According to testimony, Raniere had sexual relationships with more than 20 women of the NXIVM organization, multiple who became impregnated and required abortions. One girl was as young as 15.

Spencer Platt

Raniere then began recruiting "first-line masters," women who, according to witnesses, would help procure women for D.O.S. One notable first-line master was Allison Mack, an actor known for her role in the TV show Smallville. (Mack would plead guilty to federal charges before trial; Raniere would plead not guilty.)

In 2017, the Justice Department launched an investigation into NXIVM.

In March 2018, Raniere was arrested at a Mexican resort and brought back to the United States to face federal charges. Raniere would ultimately be charged with racketeering, forced labor conspiracy, sex trafficking, and human trafficking.

In June 2019, Raniere was found guilty of all charges.

After the trial, U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said the trial "revealed that Raniere, who portrayed himself as a savant and a genius, was in fact, a master manipulator, a con man and the crime boss of a cult-like organization involved in sex trafficking, child pornography, extortion, compelled abortions, branding, degradation and humiliation."

Keith Raniere Conversations via YouTube

Raniere has since been awaiting sentencing in New York. As of earlier this year, Raniere was being held in a federal jail in Brooklyn, with his sentencing pushed back from March due to COVID-19.

Raniere is now scheduled to be sentenced on October 27. He faces a potential life imprisonment.

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Who Is Keith Raniere of 'The Vow' - Where Is He Now? - Men's Health

There’s more than one way to deliver the mail – Newsday

U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is testifying before Congress to defend his management of the Postal Service amid concern over voting by mail and the integrity of the November election. Democrats have questioned whether recent slowdowns and cutbacks at the post office under DeJoy may be part of an effort to suppress voting orchestrated by President Donald Trump, according to Bloomberg News. DeJoy told a Senate committee that allegations that cutbacks at the post office are aimed at having an impact on the November election are an "outrageous claim." DeJoy said he's simply trying run the Postal Service, which loses money, more efficiently and like a business.

Bloomberg Opinion figured it would be a good time to see how mail delivery works in other parts of the world, and whether the types of issues that are in focus in the U.S. exist elsewhere. Here are the results:

Germany's Publicly-Traded Post Office

Germany will mark the 20-year anniversary of its postal service becoming a publicly traded company in November. Today, Deutsche Post AG boasts a 47 billion euro ($56 billion) market capitalization, is nicely profitable, employs more than half a million people and is held in generally high esteem by the public. The shrinking German letters business accounts for just 15% of its 63 billion euros total revenues; services such as express delivery, freight forwarding and e-commerce make up the rest.

Yet for all its profits and solid management, Deutsche Post is hardly the corporate embodiment of Ayn Rand. It's still obliged to deliver domestic mail six days a week, the unionized German workforce sometimes goes on strike and the state still owns one-fifth of the shares via the KFW development bank. Retaining the state as an anchor shareholder has boosted Deutsche Post's credit standing, allowing it to borrow cheaply. Before becoming a public company, it also transferred a big chunk of civil servant pension liabilities to the government, lightening a burden that weighs heavy on the U.S. Postal Service.

While there are occasional gripes about service quality and rising postage costs, Deutsche Post is a regulated entity and no longer much of a political football. Public aversion to post office closures was overcome by allowing independent retail stores to operate small postal franchises, which are open longer. Customers can also collect internet shopping from unstaffed parcel machines and buy stamps online. And voting by mail has steadily risen to almost 30% of votes cast in the German federal election, and is uncontroversial.

- Chris Bryant

Go inside New York politics.

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The U.K.'s Royal Mail: Essential Yet Struggling

At the peak of the pandemic in April, a British postman managed to deliver a parcel labelled "vital survival stuff" whose address was simply "somewhere in Sheffield." The postman located the addressee through Facebook and delivered the package of chocolate bars from a sender in Sweden.

Apart from that, things have been pretty grim at Royal Mail, Britain's privatized mail service, which is struggling to modernize in the face of labor opposition. It has recently faced job cuts and restructurings, threats of strike action, walkouts over poor safety measures (four postal workers have died from COVID-19) and a 1.5 million pound ($1.96 million) fine for tardy delivery of first-class mail and overcharging customers for stamps.

Royal Mail has a universal service obligation, and is required to make deliveries six times a week around the country, so it is limited on the cost-cutting side. Somewhat confusingly, it was separated in 2012 from the state-controlled Post Office, which runs the network of over 11,600 branches that provide handles postal as well as government and financial services. Post Office branches are largely run by franchise partners and independent retailers, often known as subpostmasters, who are paid a fixed fee or commission. The number of branches has halved over the years, but 99% of the U.K. population must still be within three miles, and 90% within one mile, of an outlet. And yet it too has had to grapple with changing demand in the the digital age, a shrinking revenue base and court battles with stakeholders.

Whatever their respective struggles, Brits seem attached to both services, for different reasons. The decline of old-fashioned mail and the rise of Amazon.com have not shaken belief that a universal service obligation for mailed communications, symbolized by those iconic red pillar boxes that have been around since 1852, is part of the social contract. More than 18% of ballots cast in the 2019 general election were postal ballots.

As for the Post Office, for all the concerns about branch closures and declining profits, it made an operating profit of 40 million pounds in 2019. A 2016 study put the social value of the Post Office - what people were willing to pay for its services - at between 4.3 billion pounds and 9.7 billion pounds.

- Therese Raphael

Japan's Post Office Is Bigger Than Citigroup

What's Japan's largest financial company after Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc.? By some measures, it's the country's postal service, Japan Post Holdings Co., with an asset base larger than those of Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co.

Postal savings banks have been around almost as long as state postal services, and Japan's has long been a behemoth. Since the late 19th century, much of its wealth was built upon deposits taken in the country's post offices and reinvested in nation-building infrastructure. Thanks to income from Japan Post's separately-listed banking and insurance arms, the parent company is forecast to make 280 billion yen ($2.65 billion) of net income this year despite its core postal business not earning a cent.

To be sure, life as a Japanese bank in the 21st century isn't all that more lucrative than existence as a postal service especially when, as has historically been the case, you're obliged to invest in negative-yielding Japanese government debt. The parent company and Japan Post Bank Ltd. have each lost almost half their equity value since a 2015 initial public share offering. Still, analysts expect the group as a whole to make stable profits well into the current decade, and retail investors continue to sock their money away. The 4.48 trillion yen increase in deposits in the June quarter was the biggest in records dating back to 2014. There are worse ways of keeping a public service in operation without draining the public purse.

- David Fickling

Australia Post Is Looking to Pivot

The coronavirus pandemic has underscored the ways that Australia Post has been torn in two directions in recent years. For years, the balancing act pursued by its managers has been around minimizing costs from its loss-making letter delivery arm while maximizing its profits from parcels, where its dominant position has helped it prosper from growing volumes of online shopping.

Letter volumes have fallen by more than half since 2008, and one of the first moves AusPost made was to switch to deliveries only every second day, rather than daily - a temporary measure that few would be surprised to see become permanent. At the same time, parcel volumes were up around 50% or more on usual levels at the peak of the lockdown, and the company is looking to increase the frequency of deliveries to handle the flood.

Growing numbers of parcels will lift revenues, but they may cause margins to narrow, too. AusPost has had to pay third parties to make deliveries because it doesn't have enough staff to handle the surge. Its fleet of delivery motor scooters looks increasingly obsolete, too, in an era when vans are needed to cope with growing volumes of bulky packages.

After a flurry of interest in privatization earlier this decade, that talk has long since died down. The more likely outcome would be less frequent, costlier letter deliveries so that core business is finally able to stand on its own feet.

- David Fickling

Burgess is the Executive Editor for Bloomberg Opinion. He is the former global cxecutive editor in charge of financial markets for Bloomberg News. As managing editor, he led the company's news coverage of credit markets during the global financial crisis.

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There's more than one way to deliver the mail - Newsday

Before Watching HBO’s The Vow, Here’s What You Need to Know About the NXIVM Cult – POPSUGAR

An addition to HBO's library of powerful documentaries, The Vow takes a closer look into the unsettling world of NXIVM. On the surface, NXIVM had been known as a secretive self-help organization for its members, including celebrities and other well-to-do figures. But beneath the veneer of personal development were more sinister structures, namely, a sex cult and a pyramid scheme. Here's everything you need to know about the true story of the enigmatic NXIVM cult before catching the documentary.

Founded by Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman in 1998, NXIVM first started as a multilevel marketing company that celebrated ideas of self-empowerment. According to Rolling Stone, it blended together ideologies similar to Scientology, the self-help group EST, and Ayn Rand's objectivism. The company promoted personal-development courses and training workshops called "Executive Success Programs." Over the years, roughly 16,000 people flocked to its headquarters in Upstate New York. Classes were said to bring about greater self-fulfillment by removing psychological and emotional barriers, though some likened the program to a cult where Raniere psychologically broke down subjects. NXIVM especially attracted wealthy women looking to improve themselves. It touted Raniere, its founder, as an accomplished genius with an IQ of 240.

Beneath the surface, however, more disturbing activities took place. NXIVM's inner circle was DOS, an abbreviation for the Latin phrase "Dominus Obsequious Sororium." The phrase roughly translates to "master of the obedient female companions." DOS was, on the surface, touted as a self-empowerment group for women within NXIVM. In reality, women recruited other "slaves" and became their "masters." At the top of this insidious pyramid was Raniere, who the FBI said used this system to get women to sleep with him and do work for free. In court, former members testified that the leader controlled the women by dictating whom they dated, what they ate, and even how much they weighed. During the initiation process, women found themselves being branded after making vows of obedience. One could interpret the brand symbol as a combination of "KR" and "AM" the initials of Keith Raniere and Allison Mack.

Mack, known for her acting on Smallville, has been considered Raniere's co-conspirator and second-in-command. Mack recruited young women to join NXIVM and DOS, allegedly scouting at sororities. To join, women needed to turn over compromising collateral, such as nude photos. Other than being blackmailed, those who did not pay penalties for breaking orders in DOS were often forced to fast or undergo physical punishment. Raniere even ordered one member, an undocumented woman named Daniela, to be confined to a room for two years for taking interest in another man. Disturbing disappearances, suicides, and child pornography have also been linked to the organization.

The self-help courses also raised concerns about a pyramid scheme. In a lawsuit against Raniere and his associates, plaintiffs said that they were lured by false scientific claims into paying thousands of dollars for NXIVM classes. NXIVM performed illegal human experiments and claimed to have the cures to medical conditions. Members were subjected to psychological and verbal abuse, and their fears were used against them when they threatened to leave the organization. NXIVM promoted the idea that people could only take care of their problems through its classes. Eventually, members could even grow inside the company and create a career within it. However, only a handful ever made money, while most worked without pay and lost savings.

Today, Raniere and his accomplices, including Mack, have been convicted on various charges, including racketeering and sex trafficking. Raniere is set to be sentenced in October 2020 and faces the possibility of life in prison.

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Before Watching HBO's The Vow, Here's What You Need to Know About the NXIVM Cult - POPSUGAR

Readers Are Debating Over These 7 Books And Whether They’re Deadset Red Flags When Dating Men – Pedestrian TV

Let me paint a picture for you. You go on a lovely Tinder date with a man who seems pleasant enough. You go back to his house because why not, youre an independent woman after all. You sit on his bed next to his acoustic guitar and record collection Radiohead Kid A, of course. He says Ill be one sec, stay there.

Your eyes begin to dart around the room and are immediately drawn to his abundant book shelf. Hemingway, Hemingway again and again Bukowski, Ayn Rand, Lolita? Ok this is getting weird. You hear footsteps. He opens the door. Hey, sorry about that. Anything wrong? You hold your breath and RUN

Ok a little bit extreme, but you get the picture. The above scenario demonstrates the literary red flags to look out for in a man, all thanks to this viral tweet.

The tweet highlights the Top 7 Warning Signs In a Mans Bookshelf and has certainly divided the internet. Why? Because no one likes to think their taste in literature is a red flag.

Other books mentioned in the comments were Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger, Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams and On The Road by Jack Kerouac. Personally, any talk of Nietzsche is a solid turn off for me, but thats a whole other kettle of fish.

The comments trying to defend themselves arent helping their cause either. If you want a prime example of this just have a look for yourself.

Other commenters defended the tweet saying that it was all too true.

So what can a man do to stop being ridiculed about his taste in literature? Just dont read. Plain and simple.

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Readers Are Debating Over These 7 Books And Whether They're Deadset Red Flags When Dating Men - Pedestrian TV

21 Quotes That Transformed My Life and My Business – The Good Men Project

While remote work has become the norm for millions of people all over the world, if you were to walk into nearly every successful entrepreneurs office, youll likely see a photo with a quote underneath it framed on a wall where everyone can see it. Sometimes it acts as a reminder for the entrepreneur themselves, other times it serves as motivation for their employees.

Jim Rohn, the late great business philosopher used to say back in the 80s Every house over $250,000 has a library in it. Why do you think that is? I must admit as a young entrepreneur those words fell on deaf ears, but as I aged, I realized the wisdom contained in books.

T. Harv Eker tells his audiences that if he walked around with them for a day, hed be able to guess their bank balance. Put Rohns and Ekers concepts together, and I believe if I were to see someones library, Id be able to tell what areas of their life they are struggling with. Books, like the quotes on peoples walls at the offices, tell a story.

Over the last 20 years, I have read hundreds of books, filled with thousands of incredible ideas and powerful quotes. The following are 21 of my favorites and are deserving of a place on your wall, whether at the office or at home. To me, the greatest quotes are ones that make us think which is why I prefer to present these quotes with no commentary.

If I were sitting across from you right now, I would only ask you to do one thing. After you read each quote, just stop and ponder. Let it sink in.

How does it apply to your life? What did the person who said each one wants their listeners to get from it?

1. A small leak will sink a great ship. (Benjamin Franklin)2. What you do in the dark, puts you in the light. (Under Armour)3. Its not the lack of resources, its your lack of resourcefulness that stops you. (Tony Robbins)4. Ive missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. Ive lost almost 300 games. 26 times, Ive been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. Ive failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. (Michael Jordan)5. Begin with the end in mind. (Stephen Covey)6. Dont wish life were easier, wish you were better. Dont wish for less problems, wish for more skills. (Jim Rohn)7. If you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it. (Anthony J.DAngelo)8. Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers. (Harry Truman)9. Problems are only opportunities in work clothes. (Henry J. Kaiser)10. The most effective way to do it, is to do it. (Amelia Earheart)11. The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is. (Winston Churchill)12. Invest three percent of your income in yourself in order to guarantee your future. (Brian Tracy)13. It takes but a few minutes to burn a house which may have taken years to erect. A single stroke of the artists brush will ruin a picture on which he may have been working on for years. (Orison Swett Marden)14. There are two things that change your life. Something new comes into your life, or something new comes out of you. (Brendon Burchard)15. Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (Albert Einstein)16. The question isnt who is going to let me; its who is going to stop me? (Ayn Rand)17. The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sail. (Myles Munroe)18. If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, Id spend six sharpening my axe. (Abraham Lincoln)19. Bad excuses are worse than none. (Thomas Fuller)20. Just as iron rusts from disuse, even so does inaction spoil the intellect. (Leonardo Da Vinci)21. Chains of habits are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken. (Warren Buffet)

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21 Quotes That Transformed My Life and My Business - The Good Men Project

In Times of Crisis, Is Dystopian Media Dangerous or Inspirational? – Study Breaks

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Dystopian media has been incredibly influential since the genre was kickstarted by Jack Londons 1907 novel, The Iron Heel, and Yevgeny Zamyatins 1924 novel, We. These two works are known as the grandfathers of the futuristic, dystopian genre and have inspired some of the best-known dystopian literature that has come out of the 20th century.

They influenced books like 1984 by George Orwell, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and Anthem by Ayn Rand, who have all made a similar mark on the literary world with their compelling visions of extreme societal distress and protagonists that endure and, sometimes, dissent against those in immoral positions of power over them.

However, theres an accompanying stigma that marks works like these as exaggerated, near caricatures. These novels are seen as unrealistic by young people, becoming fantastical rather than cautionary.

That was until the resurgence of dystopian media in young adult fiction in recent years.

Due to works like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth and The Maze Runner by James Dashner, this genre has become an integral part of entertainment. These titles made the early 2010s the start of the dystopian genre renaissance.

Their messages were popularized through their depictions of fascinating characters, compelling storytelling and captivating romances. These authors were able to simultaneously horrify their readers with their portrayals of corrupt governments and brutal mistreatment, while assuaging them with relatable protagonists.

As the 2010s have demonstrated, inserting like-minded characters as the rebellious heroes fighting against injustice has made these tales of woe more digestible to young readers. The novels accessed young peoples way of thinking about their own impact on society and how the righteous should always prevail over corruption. The fact that movie releases were usually coupled with these works allowed this message to reach even larger audiences.

As todays social climate takes a significant turn toward public unrest, young people have been making their voices heard on the streets, on social media and in their everyday lives. For example, the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) has gained massive traction in the past few months since the murder of George Floyd.

Though massive social change has become prevalent in the last few years, the BLM movement has incited an extraordinarily vocal response due to the publics unwillingness to lose any more Black lives to police brutality.

Though there have been cases of vandalism and looting, the majority of protests have stayed peaceful and have only escalated into riots when police have instigated violence at demonstrations.

Even with the threat of carnage, along with the risk of contracting COVID-19, thousands of young people continue to brave the streets to prove their dedication to the cause.

So, is this idealistic commitment to the movement a learned behavior from our favorite authors from our youth? Did dystopian media show us too many possibilities for a darker reality and turn our generation into extreme advocates for change?

Most importantly, should this relationship be something to fear?

As the country continues to take a turn for the worse and U.S. politicians resemble the oppressive forces that are depicted in these harrowing dystopian novels, a connection begins to form between young peoples activism and the media theyve consumed.

The Washington Post and Psyche Magazine documented a 2019 study based on an assortment of college students. They tested these students opinions on political activism and how they responded to acts of violence and riots in the name of a greater cause.

One group was exposed to aggressive scenes from The Hunger Games beforehand, another was subjected to excitable scenes from The Fast and the Furious franchise and the last one was subjected to no media.

Assistant Professor Calvert Jones wrote, Dystopian fiction shaped peoples ethical judgments. It heightened their willingness to justify radical political action compared with the no-media controls. Equally violent and high-adrenaline action scenes from Fast and Furious had no such effect. So violent imagery alone could not explain our findings.

Jones specifies that participants shown rebellious scenes were around 8% more likely to agree to view radical and violent protest as understandable. This focus groups revealed that the fiction made them feel ready for action that even ordinary people can challenge the status quo and rebel against the system.

While the study didnt necessarily prove that these students were more likely to overthrow the government, it proved that dystopian media increased their openness to extreme forms of political action.

So, is this reaction something to fear?

It seems that society considers this reaction a threat to maintaining public peace. This belief was evidenced in 2017 through the U.S. Department of Educations efforts to ban a multitude of dystopian books in schools. This collection included Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood as well as 1984 and Brave New World.

All these novels contain a message of defiance against repression and each has been continuously questioned by authority figures as too dark to be trusted in the hands of young people.

Dystopian media may play a role in young individuals acceptance of radical political action against tyrannical forces. However, that does not mean it is the only factor.

Though this is a generation that is out on the streets calling for change, it is a group of people that have been preceded by older generations. Before BLM, there was the civil rights movement, and before #MeToo, there was the pro-choice and womens suffrage movement.

Change was incited by our ancestors before us, just as it will be for our children and grandchildren.

There will always be a push for the betterment of society from those who can envision an improved future. Or, in this case, fear a graver one.

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In Times of Crisis, Is Dystopian Media Dangerous or Inspirational? - Study Breaks

Get Ready for a Week of Unhinged Attacks on Biden and Harris – The Bulwark

While the left is showing signs of dissatisfaction with the Democratic partys candidate for president and arguing that the partys program is not progressive enough, the right has become positively unhinged, warning that the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket will lead to full-blown Soviet-style socialism, or even the collapse and destruction of the United States.

For his part, Bidens policy proposals are solidly within the center-left mainstream. He has proclaimed his opposition to Medicare for All, calling instead for an expansion of health coverage through a public option; he has condemned the violence that has taken place during protests, particularly on the West Coast; and his campaign publicly repudiated and condemned Linda Sarsours stance on Israel after the left-wing activists appearance at a virtual assembly associated with the convention.

The right, however, is not buying into John Kasichs claim that Biden will not capitulate to the left. On the contrary, they are certain that if Biden is elected, he not only will move the United States to socialism but will implement every far-left proposal from the Green New Deal to socialized medicine.

If Biden should win, they predict, Americans can expect Portland-style violence to be Americas future. On the Commentary website, senior editor Abe Greenwald writes that What were witnessing, day after day, is revolutionary violenceand it is tearing up the country at a furious pace. We cannot dismiss the violence because the rioters are young, Greenwald writes in the magazines September issue, because so were Maos Red Guards, and besides, the Russian Revolution was preceded by 12 days of protests kicked off by a Womens Day March. The stakes are as high as they come: The battle for the survival of the United States of America is upon us, Greenwald says. This is . . . most fundamentally a revolution against the United States of America and all it stands for.

Why should we take this seriously? His argument is as sane as when Attorney General John Mitchell looked out his window at protesters against the Vietnam War and said Its looks like the Russian Revolution. Greenwalds unstated conclusion is that, since the tyrannical mob poses the most danger to the nation, Donald Trump cannot be as dangerous as the Democrats want you to believe.

Others are even less sanguine. In David Horowitzs Frontpagemag website, scholar Bruce Thornton says boldly: the president has a faithful and energized base and a record of accomplishment compared to the Dems lunge to the lunatic left. Thornton agrees with the rest of the Trumpist right that the Democrats have abandoned their traditional center-left governing philosophy and embraced a socialist ideology that for over a century has serially failed everywhere it has been tried. Dont actually listen to what Biden says, Thornton implies; just proclaim Biden believes the opposite. When Trump says something outrageous, the response from his defenders usually is ignore what he says, followed by look at what he does. When Trump then actually does something extremely dangerous, the same Trumpists just say to let it pass, or offer apologias and argue that his steps were correct.

David Horowitz himself is even more vehement than his group of writers, claiming that Our cities are under siege by communists like Bernie and other self-declared enemies of America who have made eminently clear that they are Marxists and their goal is the destruction of our democracy, which they hope to replace with a communist gulag. The destructive and violent events in Portland, he writes, are acts of treason [that] have had the full support of the Democrat Party not only in the cities themselves but in Washington. That is why Portland, he knows, is the issue that will re-elect Donald Trump in November.

As for Obamas powerful convention speech warning about the potential end of American democracy should Trump be re-elected, Horowitz has already argued that Obamas White House engaged in acts of treason. These took place supposedly when the Obama team attempted to block and then overthrow the Trump presidency by falsely accusing it of collusion with Russia against the president and then to obstruct his administration and overthrow him. He quotes former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who said that Obama and his team tried to stage a coup, which is nothing but treason. Obama, Horowitz writes, waged a direct attack on the most fundamental institution of our democracyelections. As to the current presidents war on free elections, Horowitz has nothing to say.

This is tame compared to the attacks aimed at Kamala Harris, whom Trumpists claim will be the real president should Biden win. Thornton calls her one of the most progressive and aggressively woke members of the Senate. She has endorsed the far-left policies of the Sanders-AOC wing. Horowitz himself calls her a political opportunist and serial liar.

Writing for Breitbart, Jim Pinkerton calls her a representative of the woke left-libertarianism of the San Francisco Democrats once put in their place by the late Jeane Kirkpatrick. Harris stands with a group, he writes, that is a part Karl Marx, one part MSNBC, one part Michel Foucault, and maybeeven a little bit of Ayn Rand. She is part of a leftism that mostly leaves billionaires alone, free to further build their fortunes. To this reader, his complaint sounds like hes talking about Donald Trump.

If possible, American Greatness, the Trumpist website, takes this hyperbole and hysteria to new heights. Matthew Boose writes that the Kamala Coup that the Biden-Harris ticket has orchestrated is a swindle. In Harris we will have a regentess who is

merciless. If she is successful, the revenge will be merciless too, not only against Trump, but against his supporters. The country will suffer as a result.... [Harris and Biden] will give amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants . . . disarm Americans, even as they defund police . . . and leave citizens vulnerable to criminals and mobs. They have demonstrated that they have no sympathy for this country, its people, or its borders. There is no reason to suppose that their talking points on these questions are mere rhetoric. They will do these things.

Do not be fooled, Boose warns: Harris will be presented sympathetically by the Democratic party machine and the mainstream media will do everything they can to make her look benign, authentic, and moderate when in reality she does not believe in anything and wears her thirst for power on her sleeve. Harris and Biden are actual tyrants in waiting. (Note, of course, that Booses argument contradicts the arguments that Biden and Harris secretly stand for socialist revolution.)

So, as this weeks Republican convention proceeds, steel yourself for this sort of vicious attack on Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Trump will go lower than his lowest point of attack yet. And his base, he hopes, will eat it up and come out to re-elect him.

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Get Ready for a Week of Unhinged Attacks on Biden and Harris - The Bulwark

Revealed: How U.S. Gov’t & Hollywood Secretly Worked Together to Justify Atomic Bombings of Japan – Democracy Now!

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! Im Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. This is The Quarantine Report.

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the U.S. dropping the bomb, the atomic bomb, on Hiroshima, 75 years ago today, ushering in the Atomic Age, August 6, 1945. This is J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist credited with coordinating the creation of the atomic bomb, head of the Manhattan Project, describing his feelings as the first nuclear explosion in history lit up the Trinity blast site in New Mexico, the test site, on July 16th, 1945.

J. ROBERT OPPENHEIMER: We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed. A few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the prince that he should do his duty, and, to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.

AMY GOODMAN: Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. Thats the scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer quoting the Bhagavad Gita.

Well, we turn now to look at how the U.S. government controlled the narrative about the race to build and use the first atomic bomb, especially by controlling how that story was portrayed in the media. This is the focus of a new book called The Beginning or the End: How Hollywood and America Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The Beginning or the End is also the name of a 1947 movie by MGM.

Well learn more about that and so much more with journalist Greg Mitchell, whos written extensively on Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings, also the author of Atomic Cover-up and Hiroshima in America, with Robert J. Lifton, and former editor of Nuclear Times magazine.

Its great to have you with us, Greg. Terrible anniversary, the 75th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb, ushering in the Nuclear Age. Greg, before we talk about the film, The Beginning or the End, that started to recreate a narrative about what happened, for people who are not familiar with what happened then, the significance of J. Robert Oppenheimer, President Trumans decision to drop the bomb? Tell us why the bomb was dropped, and the criticism at that time through to today, that was not so much heard at the time.

GREG MITCHELL: Yes. Thank you. Happy to be here.

Well, you know, the stated reason for dropping the bomb, which has become what I call the official narrative, really, to this day, as weve seen again with the media coverage of the past month, was that it was the only thing that could end the war, it saved a million American lives, the Japanese would not have surrendered, we would have had a costly invasion of Japan, and we really needed to drop the bomb, it was the only thing that worked. This came out in Trumans initial statement, where he called Hiroshima a military base. So, from the beginning, it was important to communicate to the American people that this was a decent and necessary act.

And, of course, evidence has emerged over the decades which shows that there were alternatives. For example, Truman had just gotten Russia to declare war on Japan, to promise to declare war on around August 9th. And there are many people who believe that Japan including Truman believed that Japan would have surrendered quickly after the Russian declaration of war. And so, theres all sorts of evidence that has emerged that the use of the bomb was not necessary, could have been delayed or not used at all.

But what was important was to set this narrative of justification. And it was set right at the beginning, and by Truman and his allies, and with a very willing media, and then, following that, suppression of evidence from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, confiscation of film footage, photographs, censorship office in Tokyo.

My book picks up carrying the story to Hollywood. And I think it tells the whole story of this period and what happened in this crucial turning point, oddly, through this rather entertaining story about this movie, because the way that Truman and the military intervened to make to adjust the movie and totally get revisions in the script to reflect this official narrative, rather than raise questions about the bomb. And then, ultimately, when the movie came out, it was nothing more than propaganda. And so, really, the story of this movie, and as I tell in the book, it really reflects so much about this turning point in America, where we are set on this path to endorsing the use of the bomb, by most in the media and by many among the public, right to this day.

AMY GOODMAN: Greg, a very quick thing, before we talk about the film, that other film you talk about. The U.S. government secretly filmed the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, not just from the sky, but the devastation on the ground, brought that film back to the scientists at Los Alamos, who did the Manhattan Project, made the bombs. And the reports are that these scientists threw up. They were vomiting as they saw this film, horrified, not understanding this would ever be used on Japan. Can you talk about everyone from Albert Einstein to J. Robert Oppenheimer, and how they ultimately felt? That film would be then highly classified for decades

GREG MITCHELL: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: obviously not incriminating, not sharing nuclear secrets, but because of its huge effect.

GREG MITCHELL: Yeah. Well, in fact, as the book shows, the MGM movie, The Beginning or the End, was actually inspired by one of these scientists. And there were so many of the atomic scientists who were appalled by what had happened with the use of the bomb and the dangers for the future. And so, one of these scientists from Los excuse me, from Oak Ridge contacted his former chemistry student, the actress Donna Reed, oddly, and Donna Reed set in motion MGM making this movie. But it was

AMY GOODMAN: This is Donna Reed, the famous actress.

GREG MITCHELL: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Her science teacher?

GREG MITCHELL: Her high school chemistry teacher ended up in the Manhattan Project. He wrote her a letter two months after the bombing, saying that she must get Hollywood to make a big-budget movie that would warn the world about the dangers of remaining on this nuclear path. And, of course, as you mentioned, Albert Einstein was very much allied with that, was probably the leading spokesman for that.

And, you know, Donna Reed set in motion where MGM did start did launch this movie. At Paramount, they launched a competing movie, with Ayn Rand, of all people, as the screenwriter. So, the book talks a good deal about that. Ayn Rands script was ultimately too wacky even for Hollywood, and so Paramount then threw in with MGM on their movie, on their terrible movie.

But in any case, the scientists did a large number of them did very much turn against the bomb. And partly for their troubles, they were the leading scientists were surveilled and followed, and their phones tapped, by the FBI.

You mentioned the confiscation of this footage. Just very, very briefly, both the Japanese a lead Japanese newsreel team and then a U.S. military team filmed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the weeks and months after the bombing. The U.S. footage was all color footage. It was probably all whenever you see any color footage from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it comes from this U.S. military team. And I told this story first in Atomic Cover-up, a book I wrote a few years ago, and now Ive just directed a film, also called Atomic Cover-up, that explores how both the Japanese footage and the American footage was suppressed for decades, because it just it showed too much of the human effects of the bombing.

But thats kind of a related story to my current book, because Hollywood essentially did the same thing. It was different, but it was taking a movie script, completely revising it, changes ordered by even the White House. A costly scene had to be reshot on orders from Truman and the White House, that would explain his decision to use the bomb more favorably, you might say, which MGM did. So, I mean, its quite incredible, just that one example, among many, of a sitting president ordering a movie studio to reshoot the key scene in a movie to reflect more favorably on him and what he did.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Greg Mitchell, I want to turn to the present day and where the U.S. now stands on the use of nuclear weapons, not just 75 years ago. But today you write that 75 years after the first use of nuclear weapons, its still supported by a majority of Americans. You cite a recent survey conducted by YouGov and The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists that found that more than a third would support a nuclear strike on North Korea, if North Korea tested a long-range missile capable of reaching the U.S., even if that meant the death of a million civilians.

GREG MITCHELL: Yeah. I mean, whats really driven my work for almost four decades now is, you know, people say, Why does Hiroshima matter today? or, you know, You cant change history, even if you could. But the simple fact is that America continues to have whats called a first-use policy. It means any president is enabled to order a preemptive nuclear strike in other words, in response to a conventional war or, as you just mentioned, a threat, a perceived threat, from a rival or an enemy. I think most people still think America would only launch in retaliation, but thats not true. Weve had a first-use policy or first-strike policy. And there have been efforts to change it. Its not happened. So we still have a first-use president.

Now we have a president in the White House who, you know, many people are very fearful of what he might do in a crisis, or in response to a tweet even. Hes not exactly the stable genius that he claims to be. And so, we have this policy still in effect.

And thats why I keep coming back to Hiroshima every year and in books and articles, is because the media, particularly, continues to endorse the use back then. Certainly, no president has really come out against it. Top officials continue to endorse it. And the fact that were making you know, on the one hand, well say, We must never use nuclear weapons again. Theyre too terrible, and so forth. But the two times we already used them, you know, was necessary. And so its this endorsement of the use of the bomb then. I think we could all rather easily see if we launched another nuclear attack, the same defenses would come out. We have this in our background. We have this in our history. The world largely condemns it, but it is in our history. And it has been judged

AMY GOODMAN: And at that time, Greg Mitchell, the number of people who died, believed to be over 200,000, the two atomic bombs that were dropped?

GREG MITCHELL: Yes, 200,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Im going to leave it there, on this 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Thanks so much for joining us.

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Revealed: How U.S. Gov't & Hollywood Secretly Worked Together to Justify Atomic Bombings of Japan - Democracy Now!

California students call to remove Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher busts – Campus Reform

A petition at Chapman University calls for the removal of busts depicting Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and other prominent conservatives.

With more than 700 signatures, the petition demands that the university remove and replace the "problematic" conservative icon depictions.

"There are a handful of busts displayed around Chapman University's campus that do not reflect the ideals of the University, the petition reads. In order to create a safer and more inclusive environment for Chapman's marginalized students and community, we feel the busts of Ronald Reagan, Albert Schweitzer, Margaret Thatcher, Milton Friedman, and Ayn Rand need to be removed and replaced."

"we feel the busts of Ronald Reagan, Albert Schweitzer, Margaret Thatcher, Milton Friedman, and Ayn Rand need to be removed and replaced."

"During these times of reckoning with serious injustice in the U.S. we are asking for your support and for the Chapman Administration to hear our demands," the petition continues. It goes on to include a letter that will be sent to the university's administration "once this petition has been shared enough."

The letter states, in part, "While some believe the removal of busts and statues equates to erasing history and hiding past mistakes, we believe their removal provides opportunity for deeper understanding and engagement in history. We believe the removal provides not only a display of allyship but also a hopeful opportunity for educating students on the ways these historical figures abused their power to mistreat others."

[RELATED: NYC art professors support removal of 'racist' Teddy Roosevelt statue]

[W]e hope this transforms into an opportunity to recognize our history and the ways certain historical figures have abused their power at the expense of marginalized groups," the letter concludes.

The petition suggests replacing the current busts with busts of Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Harvey Milk, Nelson Mandela, Princess Diana, John Lewis, Cesar Chavez, James Baldwin, and Dolores Huerta.

[RELATED: 'Stunning image' shows 'toppled' George Washington statue at GWU]

Chapman College Republicans said in response to the petition, This reckless removal of history is dangerous, especially for a University whose job is to educate in an attempt to better their students and their futures. For a school that has put so much effort in pushing for diversity, the removal of these statues would be proof that Chapman University takes no pride in intellectual diversity of their student body."

Pointing out that "diversity comes in multiple forms," including diversity of thought, the group said, We conservatives do not push to remove parts of history that we do not like. we expect the same in return. When you remove history you cannot learn from it, you repeat peoples mistakes and we cannot better ourselves. There are many conservatives on campus who support the Republican Party and Ronald Reagan who feel they are unable to speak out about their beliefs in fear of being shunned by unaccepting members of the student body.

Chapman College Republicans President Justin Buckner further told Campus Reform, "the main reason we felt it was necessary to speak out on this issue was that the petition claimed the statues on campus did not represent the ideals of the University, which is not true."

The removal ofRonald Reagan, Buckner continued, one of the most pronounced modern-day conservative voices in American history,would symbolize that anyone who believes in modern-day conservatism has no place on our campus. We want everyone to have representation and feel welcomed at Chapman University, regardless of your political beliefs.

Chapman University shared an email with Campus Reform that was sent to the campus community in which President Daniele Struppa wrote, "I have carefully read it [the petition] and I appreciate its emphasis on a shared reflection of who we are as an institution and how our physical campus reflects our collective values. As stated in the petition, many believe the removal of particular busts will provide an opportunity for deeper understanding of and engagement with history while creating a safer environment for students. While I am deeply committed to both of these goals, I strongly believe that the removal of these busts is counter to accomplishing those very objectives."

Follow the author of this article on Twitter:@Arik_Schneider

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The GOP Are Standing on Trump’s Sinking Ship, But Democrats Need a Vision Beyond Electing Biden – Common Dreams

Reality is finally catching up with our reality TV star President. Faced with an unprecedented economic collapse triggered by his own clear failure to contain the COVID-19 pandemic (something other industrialized nations have managed to pull off), the Donald tweeted hopefully last week that the November election might need to be rescheduled.

No one really knows if Trump is hoping to emulate the strongmen he admires and name himself president-for-life, or if he was just trying to create a distraction from the awful jobs numbers that show what a mess hes made of the U.S. economy.

"Trump has lied so much for so long, people are finally just tuning him out."

Either way, its clear he sees the writing on the wall. The American people have had enough of malignant narcissism and feckless governing. They are tired of living with the disastrous results of this Presidents non-leadership. Joe Biden is ahead of Trump by double digits, and is leading in swing states including Wisconsin. Unless the Republicans up their voter suppression game to previously unimagined heightsor, as Trump suggested, call off the electionTrump is toast.

As terrible as these times areand as terrifying as it is to see things devolve so far so fastthere is something hopeful about Trumps failure.

For one thing, Trump himself is losing the one thing that is most precious to himour undivided attention. The fact that Trumps election gambit failed to elicit a big reaction from either side of the aisle in Congress or from the public shows that weve entered a new phase of politics. Call it Trump fatigue. Trump has lied so much for so long, people are finally just tuning him out. No amount of posturing, preening and shock-jock showmanship can distract people forever from their own circumstances.

Even better, Trumps efforts to start a race war are falling flat. Americans have awakened to the struggle against systemic racism and favor the police reform measures Republicans in Congress have resisted. They dont want federal troops called in to defend their cities against Black Lives Matter protesters. Federal troops who were grabbing protesters off the streets in Portland are quietly retreating. And Trumps fear-mongering campaign doesnt seem to be working, either. Thats partly because the so-called suburban housewives he is trying to appeal to are not the frightened shut-ins he imagines and partly because things are so damn bad already. Its hard to win by warning that if you are not reelected the result will be chaos and collapse while presiding over chaos and collapse.

Trump is so godawful, you would think more Republicans would be jumping ship already. But apart from Mitt Romney, Charlie Sykes, and a handful of other principled conservatives, GOP politicians appear to be willing to go all the way to the bottom with their epic failure of a president.

Dont kid yourself about those principled conservatives, though. While Trump is uniquely bad, he is also a product of the Republican Party. He yells out loud what more respectable politicians used a dog-whistle to convey. The basic outline of Trumpismthe greed-is-good, step-on-the-poor, racist, sexist, rich white male triumphalismhave been baked into the party for a long, long time.

Its no big surprise that Trumps chief enabler is Wisconsins own U.S. Senator Ron Johnson. Johnson, a Republican and one of the richest men in the Senate, who has reportedly doubled his net worth of tens of millions of dollars since taking office, proposed last week that jobless Americans receiving emergency unemployment benefits during the pandemic should take a haircutfrom $600 per week to $200. This would solve the problem, Johnson suggested, of creating an incentive for the unemployed not to go back to worksince $600 a week is more than a lot of American workers earn in their regular jobs.

Never mind that that incentive doesnt existas Marty Schladen reports, a group of Yale economists studying unemployed workers concluded the expanded benefits neither encouraged layoffs during the pandemics onset nor deterred people from returning to work once businesses began reopening. Furthermore, states that had waived work search requirements have started to reinstate them.

Johnson is an Ayn Rand acolyte like his fellow Wisconsin Republican, former House Speaker Paul Ryan. Ryan was often contrasted with Trump. He was lauded as a deep thinker and a man of principle who was serious about balancing the budget. His signature budget proposal would have turned Medicare into a voucher program and he warned that the safety net could become a hammock for lazy jobless people (this in a district where middle class families saw their futures go up in smoke when the GM plant closed).

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Ryan was Trump-litea rich white guy who dreamed up ways of making life harder for struggling workers as a kind of moral improvement program, used racially coded language about welfare and food stamps, and defended the interests of big business and the wealthy.

Like Ryan, Johnson has the soothing aura of money about him, which seems to explain why he is taken seriously, despite spouting jaw-dropping nonsense about how we shouldnt worry too much about COVID-19 and his touting of rightwing conspiracy theories.

Johnsons tolerance for nonsense has earned him a spot as Trumps wingman. As chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, Johnson has been busy issuing subpoenas in the Obamagate investigation of wingnut conspiracy theories involving Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

Good luck with that.

If Trump cant distract voters with his threats to cancel the election and let blood flow in the streets, it seems unlikely that Johnson will get big ratings with his cockamamie investigation.

Heres the good news: Trumps failure is a sign of weakness in the Southern Strategy, trickle down economics, and the whole antisocial Republican program.

Thats a good thing.

The question is what comes next?

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee is not exactly the face of the future. He will no doubt run a more competent administration, and will appoint people who actually care about governing. Thats a good start. But going back to the past is not going to solve our worst problems. The bandages have been ripped off of some deep wounds in our country, and its going to take tremendous energy and creativity to heal. Biden would do well to listen to his more progressive rivals from the primary campaign, who tapped into deep generational angst about inequality, college debt, systemic racism and the fact that we are teetering on the tipping point of total climate destruction.

And, of course, unless the Democrats take back the Senate, there will be no progress at all.

Progressive ideas that Biden himself used to brush off are going to have to get a serious hearing, and urgent actionincluding taking on the brutal, racist system of policing and mass incarceration, providing high-quality health care to every American, radically re-regulating Wall Street, guaranteeing Americans a living wage and access to college, and criminalizing the sociopathic behavior of fossil fuel company executives who are literally killing the planet.

The curtain is coming down on the Trump show. We need to make sure it rises on a better day.

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The GOP Are Standing on Trump's Sinking Ship, But Democrats Need a Vision Beyond Electing Biden - Common Dreams


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