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10 ways to spot online misinformation – The Conversation US

Propagandists are already working to sow disinformation and social discord in the run-up to the November elections.

Many of their efforts have focused on social media, where peoples limited attention spans push them to share items before even reading them in part because people react emotionally, not logically, to information they come across. Thats especially true when the topic confirms what a person already believes.

Its tempting to blame bots and trolls for these problems. But really its our own fault for sharing so widely. Research has confirmed that lies spread faster than truth mainly because lies are not bound to the same rules as truth.

As a psychological scientist who studies propaganda, here is what I tell my friends, students and colleagues about what to watch out for. That way, they can protect themselves and each other from lies, half-truths and misleading spins on current events.

If something you see online causes intense feelings especially if that emotion is outrage that should be a red flag not to share it, at least not right away. Chances are it was intended to short-circuit your critical thinking by playing on your emotions. Dont fall for it.

Instead, take a breath.

The story will still be there after you verify it. If it turns out to be real, and you still want to share it, you may also want to consider the fire you may be contributing to. Do you need to fan the flames?

During these unprecedented times we have to be careful about not contributing to emotional contagions. Ultimately, you are not in charge of alerting the public to breaking news, and youre not in any race to share things before other people do.

A new tactic being adopted by misinformation warriors is to post feel-good stories that people will want to share. Those pieces may be true or may have as much truth as urban legends. But if lots of people share those posts, it lends legitimacy and credibility to the fake source accounts that originally post the items. Then those accounts are well positioned to share more malicious messages when they judge the time is right.

These same agents use other feel-good ploys as well, including attempts to play on your vanity or inflated self-image. Youve probably seen posts saying Only 1% of people are brave enough to share this or take this test to see if you are a genius. Those arent benign clickbait theyre often helping a fraudulent source get shares, build an audience, or in the case of those personality quizzes or intelligence tests they are trying to get access to your social media profile.

If you encounter a piece like this, if you cant avoid clicking then just enjoy the good feeling it gives you and move on. Share your own stories rather than those of others.

What you read may make some extraordinary claim like the pope endorsing a U.S. presidential candidate when he has never endorsed a candidate before. Astronomer and author Carl Sagan advocated for the response you should have to such claims: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, which is a longstanding philosophical premise. Consider whether the claim youre seeing was supported by any evidence at all and then check that the quality of that evidence out.

Also, remember that a quirk of human psychology means that people only need to hear something three times before the brain starts to think its true even if its false.

If youre reading something that matches so well with what you had already thought, you might be inclined to say Yep, thats true and share it widely.

Meanwhile, differing perspectives get ignored.

We are strongly motivated to confirm what we already believe and avoid unpleasant feelings associated with challenges to our beliefs especially strongly held beliefs.

It is important to identify and acknowledge your biases, and take care to be extra critical of articles you agree with. Try seeking to prove them false rather than looking for confirmation theyre true. Be on the lookout because the algorithms are still set up to show you things they think you will like. Dont be easy prey. Check out other perspectives.

Posts that are riddled with spelling and grammatical errors are prime suspects for inaccuracies. If the person who wrote it couldnt be bothered to spell-check it, they likely didnt fact-check it either. In fact, they may be using those errors to get your attention.

Similarly, a post using multiple fonts could unintentionally reveal that it had material added to the original or be trying to deliberately catch your eye. (Yes, the errors in the heading for this tip were intentional.)

Memes are usually one or more images or short videos, often with text overlaid, that quickly convey a single idea.

While we may all enjoy a good laugh with a new Ermahgerd meme, memes particularly those sowing political discord have actually been identified as one of the emerging mediums for propaganda. In recent years, the practice of using memes to incite divisiveness has rapidly escalated, and extremist groups are using them with increasing effectiveness.

For example, white supremacist groups have commandeered the Pepe the frog meme, a cartoonish image that may attract younger audiences.

Their origins as benign, humorous images about grumpy cats, cats who want cheeseburgers or calls to keep calm and carry on have led our brains to classify memes as enjoyable or, at worse, harmless. Our guards are down. Plus their short nature further subverts critical thinking. Stay alert.

Was the post from an unreliable media outlet? The Media Bias/Fact Check website is one place to look to find out whether a particular news source has a partisan bias. You can also assess the source yourself. Use research-based criteria to judge the quality and balance of the evidence presented. For instance, if an article expresses an opinion, it may present facts slanted in a way favorable to that opinion, rather than fairly presenting all the evidence and drawing a conclusion.

If you find that youre looking at a suspect site, but the specific article seems accurate, my strong suggestion is to find another credible source for the same information, and share that link instead. When you share something, social media and search-engine algorithms count your sharing as a vote for the overall sites credibility. So dont help misinformation sites take advantage of your reputation as a cautious and careful sharer of reliable information.

It may be surprising, but politicians and other public figures dont always tell the truth. It may be accurate that a particular person said a particular sentence, but that doesnt mean the sentence is correct. You can double-check the alleged fact, of course, but you can also see how truthful particular people are.

If youre hearing information from a friend, of course, theres no website. Youll have to rely on old-fashioned critical thinking to evaluate what she says. Is she credible? Does she even have sources? If so, how reliable are those sources? If evaluating the message is too much work, maybe just stick with the like button and skip the share.

If you find something that seems compelling and true, check out what nonpartisan sources say on the subject. For a view of media outlets perspectives, take a look at the Media Bias Chart.

Finding no mention of the topic in nonpartisan media may suggest the statement or anecdote is just a talking point for one side or the other. At minimum, ask yourself why the source chose to write or share that piece. Was it an effort to report and explain things as they were happening, or an attempt to influence your thinking or actions or your vote?

There are a lot of reputable fact-checking organizations, like Snopes and FactCheck. There is even a dedicated meme-checking site. It doesnt take long to click over to one of those sites and take a look.

But it can take a very long time to undo the harm of sharing misinformation, which can reduce peoples ability to trust evidence and their fellow humans.

To protect yourself and those in your social and professional networks be vigilant. Dont share anything unless youre sure its true. Misinformation warriors are trying to divide American society. Dont help them. Share wisely.

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10 ways to spot online misinformation - The Conversation US

SXSW Review: ‘Feels Good Man’ documents the rise of Pepe the Frog – Vanyaland

Editors Note: The 2020 SXSW Film Festival was canceled a few weeks ago due to concerns over the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This was the right choice, but it has deeply hurt both the financials of the people of Austin who depend on the festival for their livelihood and the filmmakers who would have had their work showcased there. Were doing our part: To the best of our ability, were still covering films that would have played the festival, and all this week, well be bringing you reviews of smaller films that you should be on the lookout for. We ask that you consider doing yours, and donating to one of these charities if you have the means.

***

Its a risky thing to make a movie about a meme, and its even riskier to assume that itll remain relevant for the time itll take you to complete filming. Most will be lost to the vast ocean and tempestuous tides of internet culture, but there are a few who have held on throughout the sea-changes. Chief amongst them is Pepe the Frog, whose origins in alternative comics at the start of the modern internet era led the cartoon frog to become one of the internets most recognizable images. But this dissemination had a darker side, and its one that youre probably familiar with: By the end of 2016, Pepe had become synonymous with the alt-right and a bunch of other malicious internet actors, and Arthur Jones compelling doc Feels Good Man tries to explore how and why this happened, as well as the fallout that this development had on the memes creator.

Pepe began his life as a character in Matt Furies Boys Club, an alt-comix tale of a group of chill cartoon dudes and their post-college bong-and-pizza slackerdom, and because Furie put his work up on MySpace, it eventually caught on with people on the internet at large. Furies a fascinating figure: hes a soft-spoken, introspective fellow who partied hard once upon a time but settled into some approximation of adult life over the course of his career as a cartoonist. A few talking heads acknowledge how Pepe seems to be his stand-in in the Boys Club comics, and Furies other projects, including his work as a childrens book author and illustrator, only serve to underline it: theyre full of frogs. Yet, he initially has a live-and-let-live response to how his creation is being used on the internet: its harmless fun, right? And, sure enough, it was: Pepe began helping people express complicated emotions in online spaces like 4chan, and Jones stacks his documentary with psychologists and theorists offering interesting explanations as to why.

But in the middle of the 10s, something changed: As all things in those spaces are wont to do, the mainstream culture picked up on Pepes usage in these spaces, and like most closed-off cultural groups when their shit goes mainstream, they reacted poorly. Really ugly and offensive images of the character began popping up online, attempting to throw normies off of the groups scent, and that approach only leads to mayhem. As Jones points out, at some point ironic hatred becomes indistinguishable from the real thing, and you suddenly have Pepe appearing on the Anti-Defamation Leagues list of hate speech symbols. Its at this point in which Furie decides to fight back against his creations misuses but when he also realizes that he cant put the toothpaste back into the tube, and the measures that hes taking might be too little, too late. Its also when Jones documentary gets truly fascinating as he starts pulling in some truly bizarre experts including an occultist magician, who highlights the black-magic energy that might have fueled the whole political enterprise and also when the film gets legitimately scary.

It was always going to be a tall order for Jones to try and put the whole sweep of fast-changing internet culture in a 90-minute documentary, but he does a surprisingly solid job at condensing large amounts of information down to their basic elements. It may be too broad for some, but theres a lot to learn here, and its presented in lovely fashion, chock-full of beautiful animation thats nearly ripped straight from Furies comics. Theres a part of me that wishes that Jones would have waited even longer to make this documentary, just to document the memes further mutations over the years. The ones we see here where Pepe becomes a bizarre symbol of internet commerce through the rare Pepes online or a late-stage wrestling-style face turn where the meme is adopted by pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong are fascinating, perhaps worthy of their own docs in the first place. But theyre ultimately addenda to Furies story, which, in its own way, feels mostly complete: He gave part of himself to the world, the world transformed it into something he didnt recognize anymore, and now hes doing his best to assert control over his creation and, more importantly, over his own identity to the world at large. It all adds up to this: Feels Good Man is one of the smartest docs made about the meme era yet, and its a genuinely fascinating watch.

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SXSW Review: 'Feels Good Man' documents the rise of Pepe the Frog - Vanyaland

Meme of The Decade – The Banner Newspaper

By: Joseph Caruselle

A compilation of Pepes many reactions. Credit: Dank Meme Team

It is very rare and unique for something to become a cultural phenomenon. Of the many interesting elements that make up our modern society, one I feel should not be overlooked is the shared experience of memes.

With only an image and 15 words or less, we can share relatable experiences. When we share them, we do it with the people that matter most to us, like our friends and family.

That is why it is important for us to take a moment to appreciate these things that bring us closer together.

After much deliberation and dispute, the Meme of The Decade was voted on and approved by nearly 125,000 anonymous Reddit users. For those who are unfamiliar, Reddit is a popular internet forum made up of thousands of smaller communities, each dedicated to different hobbies or interests.

So, after 4 rounds of voting and nearly 2 months of heated debate, it was ultimately decided that Pepe the Frog was to be our Meme of The Decade.

Pepe the Frog is a cartoon frog created by the cartoonist Matt Furie for his comic Boys Club, and while some might recognize it as a symbol of hate used by alt-right groups, it is also a symbol of resistance according to Hong Kong protestors.

At the end of the day, Pepe the Frog is simply a cartoon that we assign meaning to according to who we are. These images travel far and wide because they are shared human experiences that know no bounds.

It is hard to understate the sheer number of different subreddits as they are called, that are each dedicated to different things like gardening, movie reviews, politics, relationship advice, scientific journals, music videos, and just about everything else.

For all intents and purposes, it is the one-stop-shop of the internet.

Of the many smaller communities there are meme communities. Still too many to count as they each break up into different types of memes.

To give you an example Ill share one of my favorites, dedicated to the Star Wars prequel movies only (Episode 1, 2, and 3).

Of course, it must be said that we are at war with our sister subreddit dedicated solely to the Star Wars sequels movies (Episode 7, 8, 9). Many of the memes that make up these subreddits are sometimes just fun jabs at each other.

Im sure many people might find this kind of thing to be gibberish, and with good reason. You must understand that these are the kinds of things that tie us together as a community. When you share a meme with a friend and they reply, Oh, I saw that! with a big smile on their face, it is both wondrous and infuriating.

But we love it just the same.

It is also worth mentioning that there is no official authority of memes, there is no meme police, and there are no meme laws.

It is very possible that you have never shared a Pepe meme or have only seen it in passing, but that doesnt matter, because we each have our own meme of the decade.

Reddits communities can be a closed loop at times, which is why I thought it important to end on this note.

Whatever memes you share with your loved ones, make sure to take an extra moment to appreciate all the times theyve really made you laugh, smile, or simply just blow air out of your nose.

They are a special part of our society and I think were lucky to be a part of it.

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Meme of The Decade - The Banner Newspaper

What is the ‘boogaloo’? How online calls for a violent uprising are hitting the mainstream – NBC News

An anti-government movement that advocates for a violent uprising targeting liberal political opponents and law enforcement has moved from the fringes of the internet into the mainstream and surged on social media in recent months, according to a group of researchers that tracks hate groups.

The movement, which says it wants a second Civil War organized around the term "boogaloo," includes groups on mainstream internet platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Reddit, as well as fringe websites including 4chan, according to a report released Tuesday night by the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI), an independent nonprofit of scientists and engineers that tracks and reports on misinformation and hate speech across social media.

While calls for organized and targeted violence in the form of a new Civil War have previously circulated among some hate groups, the emergence of the term "boogaloo" appeared to be a new and discrete movement. NCRI researchers who analyzed more than 100 million social media posts and comments found that through the use of memes inside jokes commonly in the form of images extremists have pushed anti-government and anti-law enforcement messages across social media platforms. They have also organized online communities with tens of thousands of members, some of whom have assembled at real-world events.

The report "represents a breakthrough case study in the capacity to identify cyber swarms and viral insurgencies in nearly real time as they are developing in plain sight," John Farmer, a former New Jersey attorney general who is director of the Miller Center for Community Protection and Resilience at Rutgers University, wrote in the report's foreword.

The report comes as U.S. law enforcement officials and researchers at various levels have issued warnings about the growing threat posed by domestic extremists motivated by fringe ideologies and conspiracy theories. NCRI director Joel Finkelstein, a research scholar at the James Madison Program at Princeton University, said the report had been sent to members of Congress and the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice, among others.

Paul Goldenberg, a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, said the report was "a wake-up call."

"When you have people talking about and planning sedition and violence against minorities, police and public officials, we need to take their words seriously," said Goldenberg, who is also CEO of the security consulting company Cardinal Point Strategies.

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Goldenberg said the report had "gone viral" within law enforcement and intelligence communities since its limited release last week. People are reading it and distributing it "far and wide," he said.

The current boogaloo movement was first noticed by extremism researchers in 2019, when fringe groups from gun rights and militia movements to white supremacists began referring to an impending civil war using the word "boogaloo," a joking reference to "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo," a 1984 sequel movie about breakdancing.

The term is used to describe an uprising against a seemingly tyrannical or left-wing government, often in response to a perceived threat of widespread gun confiscation. For many, the word "boogaloo" silly on its face is used jokingly or ironically, but for others, the boogaloo memes are shared alongside violent text and images, seemingly to inflame an eventual confrontation.

In the last three months, boogaloo-related conversation has grown rapidly, according to the researchers, who found that use of the term has increased nearly 50 percent on platforms like Reddit and Twitter over the last few months. Increased exposure, the researchers warn, carries the danger of indoctrination.

Boogaloo extremists have used social media to "strategize, share instructions for explosives and 3-D printed firearms, distribute illegal firearm modifications, and siphon users into encrypted messaging boards en mass," according to the NCRI report. The report also notes how the boogaloo concept has been monetized, through merchandise advertised through Facebook and Instagram ads, and marketed to current and former members of the military.

On Facebook and Instagram, the researchers pointed to several boogaloo-themed public groups and accounts with tens of thousands of members and followers.

A spokesperson for Facebook said in an emailed statement that the company monitored groups that called for violence.

"We've been studying trends around this and related terms on Facebook and Instagram," the spokesperson said. "We don't allow speech used to incite hate or violence, and will remove any content that violates our policies. We'll continue to monitor this across our platform."

Since NCRI generated the report last week, membership in several boogaloo groups on Facebook has nearly doubled, according to an NBC News analysis. Two of Facebook's most popular boogaloo groups, which boasted nearly 20,000 followers during the same period, are no longer available this week.

Much like the OK hand symbol co-opted by white nationalists who later denied the association, the ambiguity of the term "boogaloo" works to cloak extremist organizing in the open.

"Like a virus hiding from the immune system, the use of comical-meme language permits the network to organize violence secretly behind a mirage of inside jokes and plausible deniability," the report states.

The term "boogaloo" has also been seen in real-world activism. At the Virginia Citizens Defense League's annual Lobby Day in Richmond in January, a group of protesters who go by the name Patriot Wave wore Pepe the Frog patches emblazoned with "Boogaloo Boys." One man carried a sign that read, "I have a dream of a Boogaloo." The rally was held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

NCRI was able to trace the origin of the use of the term "boogaloo" to 4chan's politics-focused message board, where racist and hateful memes often get their start. "Boogaloo" was often associated with apocalyptic and racist terms like "racewar" and "dotr," a white power fantasy that imagines a time when "race traitors" will be murdered.

The report tracked events when online chatter about an impending boogaloo spiked. The analysis found a peak during a November standoff in upstate New York between an Army veteran and police over a domestic dispute. The veteran, Alex Booth, chronicled the standoff on his pro-gun Instagram account, "Whiskey Warrior 556," claiming to followers that his guns were being confiscated. The incident made the boogaloo meme go viral and gained Booth over 100,000 followers.

The second boogaloo meme peak appeared around the House's impeachment of President Donald Trump, the report found.

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What is the 'boogaloo'? How online calls for a violent uprising are hitting the mainstream - NBC News

The 1975s New Meme-Heavy Video Will Make You Feel 1,000 Years Old – Vulture

Matty Healy and the boys from the 1975 have returned with another single from their upcoming album, Notes on a Conditional Form, out on April 24. The Birthday Party, the third cut off the forthcoming project, takes us on a digital detox. In the music video, co-directed by Ben Ditto and Jon Emmony, an animated Healy relinquishes his phone and is outfitted in a white linen getup before entering an extremely online Garden of Eden replete with memes. Healy soon encounters a yogi incarnation of Pepe the Frog. Seemingly disturbed, he backs into a motley ensemble of internet characters, including the crying cat and anime icon Earth-chan. As Healy sings about chatting with a guy named Greg, a man races between trees, plastering posters reading Looking for Goth GF before a banner of our favorite Butthurt Dweller appears. Then we get a quick medley of Healy doing some Fortnite dances.

Healys journey continues up in the clouds, where he catches the eye of a distracted boyfriend and does a little shuffle with a distorted Shrek, a toothy rainbow teddy bear, the terrifying Momo sculpture, and the girl thats like ermahgerd.We even get a cameo from the coolest Danny Phantom character, certified e-girl Sam Manson. As the song comes to a close, the rest of the band appears, sans instruments, for a little jam session. Then all the memes join hands in a circle and Healy tenderly embraces a carbon copy of himself. Did you catch all that?

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The 1975s New Meme-Heavy Video Will Make You Feel 1,000 Years Old - Vulture

What Does Pepe the Frog Mean? | Memes by Dictionary.com

Artist Matt Furie created Pepe the Frog as an easygoing, bro-like character in his 2005 comic series, The Boys Club. In one comic, Pepe urinates with his pants down at his ankles. Sporting a relieved grin, Pepe says, Feels good man.

Pepes creator told The Daily Dot in April 2015 that the name Pepe (though pronounced differently) evokes pee-pee, in keeping with the literal bathroom humor the original character is known for.

According to Know Your Meme, users began creating their own Pepe images in 2008 in forums on the imageboard site 4chan. These Pepes, riffing on the frogs signature smile, spread online as a humorous reaction, much as people post GIFs to illustrate how they feel about something. One common variant shows a smirking Pepe, often called Smug Pepe, his thumb tucked knowingly under his chin. Additionally, the variants Sad Pepe and Angry Pepe are also common.

By 201415, Pepe had gone full mainstream, with singers Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj notably posting Pepe memes on Twitter. But as The Daily Beast reported in May 2016, some white supremacists were disappointed by Pepes widespread popularity. And so, as a dark and shocking joke, they fashioned Pepes with various anti-Semitic and other racist imagery in efforts to make Pepes widespread use less appealing to those outside their circle. One depicts a caricatured Jewish Pepe smiling at burning Twin Towers on September 11. Another swaps out Pepes Feels good man for Kill all Jews.

Starting around 2015, alt-right supporters of Donald Trump embraced the bigoted Pepe memes, spreading suited-up and blonde-coiffed versions of the frog after the likeness of their candidate. While apparently unaware of Pepes symbolism, Donald Trump retweeted a Trump Pepe in October 2015, as did Donald Trump Jr. following Hillary Clintons basket of deplorables comment in September 2016. Many alt-right social media users have even deployed the frog emoji in their online monikers to represent Pepe and their political affiliations. Pepe has also inspired a hand gesture, resembling the OK sign, that Mediaite claims a ten-year-old flashed on a tour of the White House in March 2017.

This unassuming cartoon frog became so established as a racist symbol that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) labeled Pepe the Frog as a hate symbol in September 2016. Around this time, the Clinton campaign released their own explainer on Pepe, commenting that the cartoon frog is more sinister than you might realize. Another one of Pepes political iterations is as Pepe Le Pen, which depicts French far-right nationalist politician Marie Le Pen as the frog.

Originally posted here:

What Does Pepe the Frog Mean? | Memes by Dictionary.com

How ‘Pepe the Frog’ went from harmless to hate symbol …

Denizens of the darker corners of the Internetturned an innocent frog comic into a hate symbol of the "deplorable" alt-right.

"Pepe the Frog" first appeared in 2005 in the comic "Boy's Life" by artist and illustrator Matt Furie. The comics depictPepe and his anthropomorphized animal friends behaving like stereotypical post-college bros: playing video games, eating pizza, smoking potand being harmlessly gross.

In 2008, fans of the comic began uploading Furie's work online. In one comic, Pepe responds to a question about his bathroom habits with, "Feels good, man."

That reaction image and catchphrase took on a life of its own on the Internet, meriting a Know Your Meme entry by 2009. Alternate iterations of Pepe, including sad, smugand angry Pepes, followed. Pepe memes are ubiquitous across 4chan, Reddit, Imgur, Tumblr, and other social media and image-sharing sites.

It all seemed in good fun, but in late September, Pepe's green visage was designateda hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League.

The ADL's online hate symbol database is designed to help law enforcement, educators, and members of the general public identify potentially hateful images, explained Oren Segal, the director of the organization's Center on Extremism. He said that in recent years, hate symbols have proliferated online. Now, with things like Pepe the frog, anti-Semitic images are originating and circulating almost primarily on social media.

In some instances, Pepe wears a Hitler mustache, and his signature message is replaced with "Kill Jews Man." In others, Pepe poses in front of a burning World Trade Center, dressed like an Orthodox Jewish person with a yarmulke and payot. He's also been spotted wearing a Nazi soldier's uniform and in a KKK hood and robe.

In May, the Daily Beast spoke to a white supremacist who said there had been a concerted effort on the site 4chan to "reclaim Pepe" from normal people in late 2015. Pepe had gone mainstream: He's been tweeted by Katy Perry, who said she has a "Pepe file" on her computer, and has made multiple appearances on Nicki Minaj's Instagram. So the supremacist groupremixed him with Nazi propaganda for a laugh.

It originated on /rk9/, the 4chan message board associated with some of the least savory elements of the Internet. Last fall, people on that board purposefully framed two innocent individuals for the Umpqua Community College shooting. It's allegedly where Isla Vista shooter Elliot Rodger announced his shooting before it took place in a post with aPepe meme.

Nazi Pepe made its way to Twitter, where people who regularly tweeted messages supporting white nationalism and anti-immigrant views quickly absorbed it into their Internet repertoire. People who identify with those movementsadd the frog emoji to their Twitter name.

In August, Hillary Clinton gave her now-infamous speech denouncing some of Donald Trump's supporters, particularly the segment known as the alt-right, as a "basket of deplorables."

A couple weeks later, Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. posted a photo on Instagram that depicted him and other supporters as "The Deplorables" -- a play on the poster from the movie "The Expendables." In the lineup? Pepe.

Two weeks after that, the ADL made its official designation. Segal, the representative for the organization, said that while the ADL was researching harassment of journalists on Twitter -- particularly the use of the triple-parenthetical (((echo))) around names to designate Jewish people -- they began to notice Pepe's face coming up more frequently.

He said people on his staff were aware of Pepe's original, inoffensive incarnation, but it was clear that the frog had become associated with anti-Semitic opinions online.

"When we felt that [Pepe]was reaching that point of the hateful version becoming more widespread, that's a criteria for adding it to our hate symbols database," he explained.

Hopefully, he says, the Pepe meme will be able to move past this dark point in its history and go back to just being fun. If enough people share positive -- or at least non-hateful -- Pepe memes, to the point where few people encounter Nazi Pepe online, it wouldn't be a hate symbol anymore.

"The hate symbol database isn't the final stop for this meme," he said.

That came as a big relief to Furie, the artist who created Pepe. He has been understandably devastated by the turn his creation has taken.

"To have it evolve into what it is today, it's a nightmare," Furie said. "It's kind of my worst nightmare ... to be tangled in forever with a symbol of hate."

I would love to help the ADL and do my part by flooding the Internet with positive Pepe memes,he added.

He's not evena particularly political guy. Prior to the ADL's hate symbol announcement, he had never heard of the alt-right or the nascent white supremacist movement that's sprung up around Trump. Though he'd heard of Pepe being used as a meme as far back as 2008, he never made the memes himself. He says he plans to vote for Hillary Clinton.

"I'm a lifelong artist," said Furie, who lives in Los AngelesKoreatown neighborhood. "Hate and racism couldn't be further from something on my radar. I try to focus on positivity and nature and animals."

Furie stopped drawing Pepe about sixyears ago, though he did revive him recently for a very special drawing on his Tumblr. It depicts the frog wearing a "Make Pepe Great Again" hat, urinating on a green-faced Trump.

Reclaiming your own work from anti-Semites: Feels good, man.

@jessica_roy

jessica.roy@latimes.com

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How 'Pepe the Frog' went from harmless to hate symbol ...

Pepe the Frog – adl.org

Pepe the Frog is a cartoon character that has become a popular Internet meme (often referred to as the "sad frog meme" by people unfamiliar with the name of the character). The character first appeared in 2005 in the on-line cartoon Boy's Club. In that appearance, the character also first used its catchphrase, "feels good, man."

The Pepe the Frog character did not originally have racist or anti-Semitic connotations. Internet users appropriated the character and turned him into a meme, placing the frog in a variety of circumstances and saying many different things. Many variations of the meme became rather esoteric, resulting in the phenomenon of so-called "rare Pepes."

The majority of uses of Pepe the Frog have been, and continue to be, non-bigoted. However, it was inevitable that, as the meme proliferated in on-line venues such as 4chan, 8chan, and Reddit, which have many users who delight in creating racist memes and imagery, a subset of Pepe memes would come into existence that centered on racist, anti-Semitic or other bigoted themes.

In recent years, with the growth of the "alt right" segment of the white supremacist movement, a segment that draws some of its support from some of the above-mentioned Internet sites, the number of "alt right" Pepe memes has grown, a tendency exacerbated by the controversial and contentious 2016 presidential election. Though Pepe memes have many defenders, the use of racist and bigoted versions of Pepe memes seems to be increasing, not decreasing.

However, because so many Pepe the Frog memes are not bigoted in nature, it is important to examine use of the meme only in context. The mere fact of posting a Pepe meme does not mean that someone is racist or white supremacist. However, if the meme itself is racist or anti-Semitic in nature, or if it appears in a context containing bigoted or offensive language or symbols, then it may have been used for hateful purposes.

In the fall of 2016, the ADL teamed with Pepe creator Matt Furie to form a #SavePepe campaign to reclaim the symbol from those who use it with hateful intentions.

More here:

Pepe the Frog - adl.org

How Pepe the Frog Became a Nazi Trump Supporter and Alt …

The green frog was behind the United States side of the metal fence at the countrys southernmost border, smirking and holding a Donald Trump campaign button up to his chin.

A caricature of a Mexican couplethe man dressed in a sombrero and poncho, the woman with braided hair and an infant in her armslooked out at him through the barricade and cried.

Then the frog was someplace else entirely, this time covered in Nazi insignia: above his smirk, the phrase SKIN HEAD and a swastika; over his left eyelid, 14, the numeric shorthand for we must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children; and over his right eyelid, 88, which stands for Heil Hitler.

And there the frog was yet again, standing at a lectern stamped with the presidential seal, a red tie hanging from his green neck, Trumps iconic hair arranged on his head and an American flag at his back.

This is Pepe, a cartoon amphibian introduced to the world sans swastikas and Trump associations in 2005, on Myspace, in the artist Matt Furies comic strip Boys Club, and popularized on 4chan in the ensuing 11 years, culminating in 2015, when teens shared Pepes likeness so many times he became the biggest meme on Tumblr. (Furie did not respond to an interview request from The Daily Beast.)

Like all great art, Pepe was open to endless interpretation, but at the end of the day, he meant whatever you wanted him to mean. All in good fun, teens made Batman Pepe, Supermarket Checkout Girl Pepe, Borat Pepe, Keith Haring Pepe, and carved Pepe pumpkins.

But he also embodied existential angst. Pepe, the grimiest but most versatile meme of all, was both hero and antiheroa symbol fit for all of lifes ups and downs and the full spectrum of human emotions, as they played out online.

On social media, Pepe became inescapable. Katy Perry tweeted a crying Pepe with the caption Australian jet lag got me like, racking up over 10,000 retweets. Nicki Minaj posted a twerking Pepe on Instagram with the caption Me on Instagram for the next few weeks trying to get my followers back up, which 282,000 users liked.

And then, recently, things took a turn: Pepe became socially unacceptable.

Turns out that was by design.

@JaredTSwift is an anonymous white nationalist who claims to be 19 years old and in school someplace on the West Coast. He told me there is an actual campaign to reclaim Pepe from normies.

Normies are basicsagreeable, mainstream members of society who have no knowingly abhorrent political views or unsavory hobbies. They are Katy Perry, and when they latch onto a meme, the meme dies the way your favorite band dies when it sells out and licenses a song to Chevrolet. When mainstream culture gets in on the joke, in other words, the joke is ruined forever.

The campaign to reclaim Pepe from normies was an effort to prevent this sort of death, but it also had the effect of desensitizing swaths of the Internet to racist, but mostly anti-Semitic, ideas supported by the so-called alt-right movement.

It began in late 2015 on /r9k/, a controversial 4chan board where, as on any message board, it can be difficult to discern how serious commenters are being or if theyre just fucking around entirely. Nevertheless, /r9k/ has been tied to Elliot Rodgerthe UC Santa Barbara shooter who killed six people in 2014who found fans there, and GamerGate. There, Pepe transformed from harmless cartoon to big green monster.

We basically mixed Pepe in with Nazi propaganda, etc. We built that association, @JaredTSwift said.

He sent me a rare Pepe, an ironic categorization for certain versions of the meme: Pepe, his eyes red and irises swastika-shaped, against a trippy rainbow backdrop. Do with it what you will, he said.

Building the Trump association came next, after which @JaredTSwift said the images got crossover appeal. They began to move from 4chan to Twitter, which is when journalists were exposed to it via Trump memes.

On Jan. 7, Cheri Jacobus, a Republican consultant and pundit who is suing Trump for defamation and has been harassed by Trump supporters, tweeted, The green frog symbol is what white supremacists use in their propaganda. U dont want to go there.

#FrogTwitter considered Jacobus, the first prominent person to be duped, its first scalp and inundated her with ever more Pepe images and Trump memes, some of which were violent and sexually explicit.

In one, a blond woman is decapitated before Pepe has intercourse with her headless body. In another, Jacobuss face is photoshopped onto a topless woman kneeling before Trump, who is himself photoshopped to wear a Nazi uniform.

When they adapt Pepe the green frog and turn it into an anti-Semite, staring into the screen with the World Trade Center behind it, is that cute or funny? she asked when reached by phone Wednesday.

Does that make it OK? I dont know, she said. Violent and disturbing images are violent and disturbing images regardless of what their stated reasons are.

Jay Nordlinger, a senior editor at National Review, a conservative publication opposed to Trumps candidacy, asked Twitter on Jan. 30, Does anyone know what that green face is that alt and cuck people put in their avatars and their other images?

@TopKanker replied with an image of Pepe dressed as a Nazi soldier and holding a Star of David.

On May 16, Ben White, a reporter for Politico, tweeted a drawing of Pepe and asked, What/who is this character and why do I see it associated with Trumpsters/Alt-Right types all the time?

#FrogTwitter descended on Whites mentions, with predictable results. @DonaldjBismarck, a self-described Nationalist, replied with a meme of Hillary Clinton, squinting at a computer screen and asking, WHO THE HELL IS PEPE?

Turns out asking about Pepe was a bad idea, White tweeted, in conclusion.

But Pepes twisted transformation wouldnt be complete until a few hours after Whites foray down the froghole, when Margarita Noriega, an executive editor at Newsweek, tweeted a Pepe at Marco Rubio.

Benny Polatseck, who runs the public relations firm Colossal PR, accused Noriega of employing an image used by racists to make fun of latinos. Noriega deleted the Pepe.

Most memes are ephemeral by nature, but Pepe is not, @JaredTSwift told me. Hes a reflection of our souls, to most of us. Its disgusting to see people (normies, if you will) use him so trivially. He belongs to us. And well make him toxic if we have to.

@JaredTSwift said some of the support for Trump was in jest, but for most of his cohorts, its sincere. He even claimed to have voted for Trump in the primary himself, wherever it is he lives, and said hed vote for him in the general, too.

In a sense, weve managed to push white nationalism into a very mainstream position, he said. Trumps online support has been crucial to his success, I believe, and the fact is that his biggest and most devoted online supporters are white nationalists. Now, weve pushed the Overton window. People have adopted our rhetoric, sometimes without even realizing it. Were setting up for a massive cultural shift.

Another anonymous white nationalist, @PaulTown_, claimed to be in my late 20s, but declined to say where he exists geographically, other than to confirm that, every few months, he meets the members of his community in New York City. He estimated the broad #FrogTwitter movement to consist of about 30 people but said 10 core members helped plot it out over drinks in late 2015, before taking to /r9k/.

We all do some weightlifting, so we met through friends involved in that scene, he said. Turning Pepe into a white nationalist icon was one of our original goals, although weve had our hands in many other things.

One of those things has been helping to turn Taylor Swift into an Aryan goddess. When several publications (Broadly, Slate, and The Washington Post) this week reported on the alt-rights fixation on the pop star, #FrogTwitter was somewhat triumphant. I never thought that would work, @JaredTSwift said, but they finally noticed.

@PaulTown_ characterized Pepe as an experiment the group used as a test.

As you can see, he said, it went better than we could ever have imagined.

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How Pepe the Frog Became a Nazi Trump Supporter and Alt ...

Sundance: Feels Good Man charts a path of redemption for Pepe – TechCrunch

Can a meme be redeemed? Thats the central question in Arthur Jones Feels Good Man a documentary that premiered at Sundance this year charting the course of the creator of Pepe the Frog, a comic book character turned universally recognized meme, as he attempts to reclaim it from racists and shitposters.

The sweet, gentle pacing of the doc fits well with the calm, sensitive demeanor of its creator Matt Furie . Furie is described as ethereal by one of his friends in the piece and thats mostly true. As Pepe is created, then coopted by the residents of 4chan and turned into a meme representing ennui, disenfranchisement and white supremacy in turn, Furie takes it mostly in stride.

But hes not without passion, as lines begin to be crossed and Pepe becomes registered as hate speech by the Anti-Defamation League, Furie sees an opportunity to try to reclaim his symbol. Hes unsuccessful for the same reason anything is popular on the internet there are simply too many nerve endings to properly anesthetize them all.

The vast majority of the people that use Pepe are completely unaware of its origins. And the general community of Internet people that communicate via memes go a step beyond that to being un-able to even grasp the concept of ownership. Once something has entered into the cultural bloodstream of the Internet, its origins often dwindle to insignificance.

That doesnt, of course, stop a creator from existing or caring how their creation is used. And the portrait painted here of a gentle and caring artist forced to watch the subversion and perversion of his creation is heartbreaking and important.

Feels Good Man stands above the pack of docs about internet cultural phenomenon. It peels back enough of the layers of the onion to be effective in ways that analysis of culturally complex idioms born online are often deficient.

Too many times over the years weve seen online movements analyzed with an overly simplistic point of view. And the main way they typically fall down is by not including the influence and effect of that staple of online life: trolls. People doing things for the hell of it who then become a part of a larger movement but always have that arms length remove to fall back on, able to claim that it was just a gag.

Jones mentioned during a Q&A after the screening that they wanted Furies art to be a character, to have a part to play throughout the film. In addition to scenes of Matt drawing, this is best accomplished by the absolutely gorgeous animation sequences that Jones and a team of animators created of Pepe and the rest of the Boys Club characters. Theyre delightful and welcome respite from the somewhat hammer-like nature of the dark places Pepe is unwittingly drawn by the various subcultures he is adopted by.

Its not a perfect film; the sequences with an occultist are goofy in a way that doesnt fit with the overall flavor of the piece. But its probably one of the better documentary films ever made about the Internet era and well worth watching when it gets picked up.

More here:

Sundance: Feels Good Man charts a path of redemption for Pepe - TechCrunch

Big premieres in the Big Sky: 149 films at Big Sky Film Fest – Montana Kaimin

The largest nonfiction film festival in the American West is back to make Missoula think, feel and consider new perspectives.

The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival opens Friday night, Feb. 14, and continues until Feb. 23. It is the festivals 17th year, and it will continue to prove the importance of showcasing diverse voices.

Its a very specific type of event, executive director Rachel Gregg said. Because all of the films are nonfiction, there are very real implications in each piece, whether thats the impact of plastic in the United States or the revolution in Armenia, according to Gregg.

The Big Sky Film Festival is the largest film festival in Montana. Nearly 150 films are represented this year, 20 of which are having their worldwide premiere.

The films are made and produced in more than 50 countries, bringing diversity and different perspectives to the festival. Of the films, 70% will be represented by directors, producers or subjects at the festival.

Many films have distinct Montana roots, including The House That Rob Built. The film follows the former Lady Griz coach Rob Selvig and how he ushered strong, accomplished women into the world while building an impressive program that still resonates at UM.

Outreach is one of the largest parts of the Big Sky Film Institutes mission. According to Gregg, there are students who come to the festival now who remember when the Institute came to their elementary schools. Gregg said fostering a love of film is rewarding for everyone involved.

And when it comes to fostering a love of filmmaking, the Institute also values promoting the voices of promising filmmakers.

DocShop is a Big Sky Film Festival event geared directly toward students or beginner filmmakers. Its a free event for UM students and is designed to help filmmakers navigate the gig economy of filmmaking, learn how to work with collectives and collaboratives, network and grow a passion for documentaries.

Attendees can attend workshops and panels led by other filmmakers and producers. They are able to learn through the experiences of others and culminate a sense of personal sustainability to avoid burnout in the industry. Gregg says the mission of DocShop is to help budding filmmakers realize that making documentaries is a sustainable, real career.

DocShop ends with the Big Sky Pitch, where attendees can pitch their films to funders and industry representatives from the likes of HBO, the BBC, PBS, the Sundance Doc Fund and the Tribeca Institute. Its an opportunity like no other and pushes forward the goal of outreach for the Big Sky Film Institute.

For the 2020 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, almost 2,000 films were submitted for selection. For six months, a panel of 12 reviewed the films, narrowing it down until a smaller panel made the final selections. Joanne Feinberg, festival programming director, combed through selections until she narrowed it down to the final 149. She says she is consistently blown away by the power of the stories told, making it hard for her to choose a favorite.

With almost 150 films, it can be slightly intimidating for audiences to choose which films they want to see. But Gregg and Feinberg have some tips. The films are organized by strands, ensuring that viewers dont have to comb through a plethora of films to find one they are interested in. Some examples are Nature, Activism, Stranger than Fiction, Sports and Younger than Yesterday. The festival has made sure there is something for everyone.

And if viewers still cant pick, Gregg and Feinberg suggest attending a shorts block. Some themes are the power of women, investigative journalism, immigration and love. The average filmgoer sees three or more films, but with the student ticket price of $7, students are encouraged to watch as many as they can.

The Big Sky Film Festival opens Friday at the ZACC with a Valentines Day theme. Audiences can expect to feel the love with stories that tell of the lives and loves of queer people, a couple reconnecting despite Alzheimers, the stories of broken hearts told through sock puppets, an exotic dancer and her former fan-boy turned romantic partner, and a transgender rocker finding love and identity on both sides of the gender line. (Meghan Jonas)

With more than 140 films featured at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, it can be tricky to know where to start. Here are a few picks from the Kaimin Arts & Culture team that give you a look into what you can see at the four screening locations around town in the next two weeks. From a boxing club on the Blackfeet reservation to brewed beer in Palestine, or roller skating in L.A. to heartbroken sock puppets, we think its safe to say youll find something youll like.

In 33 states across the country, women are unable to use government insurance, including Medicaid, to help pay the cost of an abortion.

In Philadelphia, the Womens Medical Fund works, with donations, to help American women cover the expense when they have no other funds available.

The funding group, or WMF, is one of many in the country. The women who work at the call center have a certain amount of funding they are able to use each day, and each woman working on the call line goes by the name Lisa.

Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa directors Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater and Mike Attie are taking on the Hyde Amendment of 1976, a legislative ban on the use of federal funds to help cover the cost of abortion procedures. Its named after Henry Hyde, the Republican congressman from Illinois who sponsored the bill.

A dial tone plays between each scene. It is impossible to ignore the number of women who call the health line every day, trying to decide how to cover the cost of a procedure and still pay their rent, take care of their children or buy groceries.

Its impossible to ignore the reality that the Hyde Amendment is targeted at poor women, leaving one out of three women who have Medicaid insurance seeking an abortion forced to carry their pregnancies to term.

In Abortion Helpline, we watch Rep. Cynthia McKinney address the House. The Hyde Amendment is nothing but a discriminatory policy against poor women, who happen to be disproportionately Black, she says.

Mr. Chairman, we cant save the unborn children of the rich, Congressman Hyde says. Thank God we can save some of the children of the poor.

Abortion Helpline, This Is Lisa makes its northwest debut Feb. 15 at the ZACC, 3 p.m. and Feb. 19 at the ZACC, 1:30 p.m.

(Erin Sargent)

Turns out, Facebook isnt just following your every move like a desperate ex, its also deliberately ignoring the complaints of those damaged by fake news schemes.

This 16-minute nail biter follows Anas Modamani, a young Syrian refugee who fled to Germany in 2015. To celebrate, he snapped a selfie with prime ministerAngela Merkel and got more than he asked for when the picture went viral for all the wrong reasons.

Directed by Adrienne Collatos, a prestigious film producer with more than 40 credits to her name, Anas v. the Giant is a tightly crafted documentary worthy of a much longer runtime.

Modamani is a sympathetic figure, but Collatos doesnt confine him to that label. Instead, we see him as a fighter, asurvivor of the Syrian Civil War who came to Germany hoping for a better life, only to face a new battle against forces much more nebulous than armies.

Anas v. the Giant offers a uniqueperspective on the wave of nationalism that swept through Europe following the onset of the Syrian refugee crisis. Asthousands of migrants faced an onslaught of racism and prejudice at the gates of Europe, Modamani had to contend with that racism manifested in the gross form of the Giant, Facebook.

At one point, Modamanis German host mother remarks, We met on Facebook. Crazy, isnt it?

Crazy, indeed. Those looking for another reason to loathe the upturnednoses of Silicon Valley will love Anas v. the Giant.

Anas v. the Giant makes its northwest debut Feb. 20 at the Elks Lodge, 6:30 p.m.

(Austin Amestoy)

Brewed in Palestine is an up-close and personal look at the Khoury family and their craft brewing company Taybeh Beer. Located in the old city of Taybeh on the West Bank, the family and company operate on a fragile border.

The film, directed by Emma Schwartz, aims to provide a micro view of a Palestinian family to add texture and context to the macro tension between Israel and Palestine. Schwartz had been living on the West Bank, and kept hearing about the Khoury family and their brewery. It wasnt until she had a Taybeh beer in Tel Aviv that she decided to reach out.

I wanted to tell a story about what I experienced about life in Palestine,Schwartz said.

The process of producing the beer to get it to market is very difficult for Taybeh because Israel has strict export policies. If the Khourys missed a boat for shipment, they would have to wait an additional week before they could make another attempt.

During the film, an already difficult process becomes nearly impossible for the Khoury family.

In December of 2018, the Israeli army shut down the city of Ramallah. All roads, in and out, were closed off, preventing Taybeh from exporting beer for a week. Schwartz got trapped in the city as well. She and her crew were capturing some background footage when thelockdown began.

Its really a remarkable testament to what people go through, Schwartz said.

Brewed in Palestine will be making its Montana premiere Monday, Feb. 17 at the Wilma, 1 p.m. and Feb. 22 at the Elks Lodge,6:30 p.m.

(Alex Miller)

Never has there been a documentary that lets the good times roll quitelike this.

In L.A. Roll, director and cinematographer Helki Frantzen takes viewers on a groovy tour of Los Angeles roller skating culture as the film navigates the ups and downs of a beloved hobby threatened by rink closures and urban tragedy.

L.A. Roll had me physically grinning and bobbing my head to the collective heartbeat of the skaters, in no small part due to Frantzens camerawork. Never has the marriage of director and cinematographer in one person been so sweet as when it results in sweeping shots of gleefulskaters pouring their hearts out on the rink. For much of the doc, I felt like I was there skating alongside them and I couldnt wipe that goofy smile off my face.

If the main strategy of L.A. Roll is to hook the viewer into the colorful world of Los Angeles roller rinks, then itssecret weapon is the poignant message it carries about the importance of fostering connections in a disconnected and often drab world.

As the roller rinks frequented by L.A.s many skate clubs begin to shutter, one by one, the group is forced to adapt to new and less familiar venues. The closure of its most-frequented joint leads another rink across town to extend an invitation. Fountain Valley Skating Centers floor, once occupied only by the occasionalballerina, soon booms with swirling circles of skaters.

In many ways, the narrative success of L.A. Roll hinges on juxtaposition. Many skaters see the rink as a place to escape the doldrums of work and school. Frantzen follows a group of mechanics as they work, dust-covered, on an old red beater. At night, they kick up dust together on the floor, working on a different set of wheels.

You dont mind if I catch the next flight to L.A., do you?

L.A. Roll makes its world premiere Feb. 19 at the ZACC, 4 p.m. and Feb. 21 at the ZACC, 6:30 p.m.

(AA)

Memes are art. Im not joking.

Having been a dank meme lord and Shrek worshipper for a good chunk of my life, Ive seen that the strangest viral trends can act as a vehicle for creative expression and political commentary, just like any great painting.

Unfortunately, art can be dangerous when in the wrong hands.

Such is director Arthur Jones thesis for Feels Good Man, which chronicles Pepe the Frogs troubling evolution from a comic book protagonist, to a strange, but harmless, meme, to the unofficial mascot of the alt-right movement.

I had some knowledge of Pepes abrupt transition to Nazi status, but I had no idea that its impact beyond the internet was this great. We watch as 4Chan uses the frog to repel female internet users, inspire hate crimes and even influence the 2016 presidential election.

The documentary footage is supplemented with a psychedelic background score and eccentric animations of Pepe and his friends from his origin comic, Boys Club. They give the film a unique atmosphere and add to the creepy, cult-like nature of the 4Chan incels.

But by far the most powerful moments of Feels Good Man are those we spend with Pepes creator, Matt Furie. His futile attempts to get the frog back into his control are heartbreaking and it reminds us of the emotional connection artists form with their work. As someone who hopes to pursue filmmaking, this one struck a chord with me.

Admittedly, the film feels too long and loses some of its emotional punch in the last third. But Feels Good Man is a horrifying reminder that both art and the internet have a dark side. Ill be thinking long and hard next time Im about to hit like on an All Star remix.

Feels Good Man plays Feb. 15 at the Wilma, 8:30 p.m. and Feb. 22 at the ZACC, 2:45 p.m.

(Clint Connors)

Something about sock puppets just triggers sadness. The downward slope of their mouths makes it look like theyre permanently frowning, and you cannever quite tell what's going on in the blank states of their googly eyes.

Perhaps thats why theyre the main focus of Broken: A Sockumentary. In this film, director Hannah Dougherty collects interviews of people who have experienced an abrupt end to a relationship.

And the audio of both Dougherty and her subjects is mouthed by, you guessed it, sock puppets.

This is apparently the first entry in a series that, as the synopsis on thefestivals website puts it, investigat[es] the human experience. Thus, it at first seems strange that the films main players arent human.

However, using animals or inanimate objects as metaphors for our feelings has always been a powerful tool, stretching back to Aesops fables and the like. Puppets, in particular, have a strange way of connecting to our psyche.

Broken does just that, largely thanks to its stellar puppeteers. Each hands subtle movements and ticks make these socks feel alive.

In addition, Dougherty refrains from making her direction showy, a gentleapproach that places the attention solely on the emotions of her subjects.

On paper, a wool sock crying mid-interview sounds silly, but because of the careful calculations of Dougherty and her performers, the scene is bizarrely, and emotionally, resonant.

Bizarre and emotional are two keywords when describing Broken. Its a somewhat risky experiment that fell into the right hands, creating a shockingly moving experience. Elmo, eat yourheart out.

Broken: A Sockumentary plays Feb. 14 at the ZACC, 7 p.m., and Feb. 21 at theWilma, 1 p.m.

(CC)

Its going to take a long time for Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible to stop replaying in my head.

Directors Tom Rinaldi and KristenLappas craft a powerful journey into the heart of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement (MMIW) and the boxing program one man started in hopes of fighting back.

The ESPN-produced film centers on three families from the Blackfeet Nation, each of which has faced the realities of MMIW in different ways. One of them is the family of Ashley Loring, a Blackfeet woman who disappeared in 2017.

The film opens on breathtaking overhead views of northern Montana, where the Loring family has taken the investigation of Ashleys disappearance into their own hands. The contrast of the surreal landscape to the search unfolding across it is gut-wrenching. It sets the stage for a beautiful film, both in look and message.

The namesake and focus of the film is the Blackfeet Nation Boxing Club. Founded in 2003 by former probation officer and boxer Frank Kipp, the club sees dozens of kids learning the skills of self-defense needed to fight back and prevent their own disappearances.

I was blown away by how deftly Blackfeet Boxing communicates the tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous people, while also celebrating the triumph of the boxing club and some of its mostsuccessful athletes.

Blackfeet Boxing tackles MMIW head-on, much like its athletes, and shows us that hope must never be lost. Kipps club grows from a few fighters to an entire team, all boxing to honor the missing. And, although its been two years, the friends and family of Ashley Loring continue their search.

The faces of MMIW are not invisible, and neither is Blackfeet Boxing.

Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible makes its world premiere Feb. 19 at the ZACC, 1:30 p.m. and Feb. 23 at the Wilma, 3:30 p.m.

(AA)

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Big premieres in the Big Sky: 149 films at Big Sky Film Fest - Montana Kaimin

Hong Kong rings in Chinese New Year with protest-themed gifts – Quartz

From Molotov-cocktail-embroidered tote bags to Be Water chapstick, Lunar New Year shopping in Hong Kong has a distinctly rebellious agenda this year.

All over the city, pop-up shops and not entirely legal street markets have cropped up in the days ahead of the new year, which begins on Jan. 25 and will be the year of the rat in the traditional Chinese zodiac. The sellers and shoppers are defying the Hong Kong government, which has banned stalls selling political-themed goods and satirical giftstraditionally a mainstay of these marketsfrom its official new year bazaars. Theyre also promoting what the protest movement calls the yellow economic circle, or spending in ways that support ones political values.The tactic seems to be workingphotos from the past weekend showed very sparse attendance at one of the main official markets.

Many of the defiantly unofficial markets, on the other hand, were hugely popular. One such market in Hong Kongs Sai Ying Pun area was packed over the weekend, as shoppers came to spend at street stalls that in some cases will donate proceeds to the protest movement, and to buy locally made goods. Its another reshaping of the economic landscape, with consumption shifting away from Hong Kongs ubiquitous shopping malls which are now themselves frequently the site of protests.

Many shoppers took photos at a stall in front of a massive print of a painting by an artist couple who go by Lumli and Lumlong. In the painting, the left side of the figure was a nod to the protests frontline fighters, and had been done by Lumlong, while the right side depicted the peaceful protester and was painted by Lumli. Among the weapons the figure is wielding are a traffic cone, water, and a pet food dishall to put out tear gas, Lumli said.

This year is very special, said Lumli. The government did not want to give the pass to us, so we have to make this market by ourselves we want to develop our yellow market, our yellow economic circle.

On the opposite side of the street, another stall was offering tote bags and a planner emblazoned with a petrol bomb patch. A young woman at the stall said the bags have been quite popular, and that they had sold about 100 of them. Since stalls at the market werent accepting payment directly, this involved sellers handing out chits and buyers going elsewhere to make a payment, in a line that at times included over 100 people waiting patiently to pay.

Next to them, high school students manned a stall with gift envelopes for giving out money during the new year. Each envelope depicted a kind of protester, or a first-aid volunteer. One envelope depicted an imaginary creaturea winged lionthat has become a common way to refer to vigilante justice, used at times by both protesters and their opponents. Nearby, Be Water lip balm was also on offer, a reference to the guiding philosophy of the protests.

One woman was selling patches which could be fixed to a purse, or sown onto a tee shirt. They depicted protest icons like Pepe the Frog, and a pig from popular local forum LIHKG known commonly as LinPig.

One of the most popular services at the fair was entirely free. As many as 50 people lined up at a time to get their bag or tee shirts hand-stamped with a logo that depicted a helmet and goggles, and a slogan.

A few train stops away, in the busy shopping district of Causeway Bay, another Lunar New Year market had set up shop in a pop-up space formerly occupied by a large cosmetics store. Hong Kongs retail sales, driven by luxury brands, had a tough year in 2019.

In the pop-up store, people weaved their way through narrow aisles lined with various stalls, where different sellers plied their wares on tabletops. The atmosphere was so festive and relaxeda far cry from the tense protests also going on that daythat when the lights temporarily cut out, no one seemed particularly annoyed. A miniature Lady Libertythe statue depicting a protester in a gas mask, goggles, and a helmeteven appeared to glow in the dark. When the lights flicked back on minutes later, shoppers clapped and cheered.

One stall sold surgical masks explicitly marked Made in Taiwana nod to some protesters efforts to boycott China-related businesses. Another sold protest-branded wrist watches, with the hand mannequin holding up a miniature yellow umbrella. Close by, a stall selling flowers had decorated chrysanthemums into LinPigs.

With snacks often being a main attraction at these fairs, there was a wide selection of protest-themed foods. There were cookies decorated with LinPig and protest slogans, while one local brewery sold bottles of black IPA wrapped in the iconic blue-and-white checkered pattern of Life Bread, popular local brand of sliced bread. The humble pantry item became a protest symbol after video emerged in November of a police officer taunting protesters holed up inside Polytechnic University during the siege of the school, saying he would go enjoy sumptuous hotpot at the end of his shift while the protesters would have to subsist on sliced bread.

Yan, 23, a social work student who checked out one of the pop-ups on Sunday, said that she liked that most of the products were handmade and that she could support people with the same political stance as her. By buying something from these sellersin her case a tote and a set of strawsshe said she hoped she could also give a message to the government that we are standing together to fight.

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Hong Kong rings in Chinese New Year with protest-themed gifts - Quartz

Sorry Racist Friend, That MLK Quote You Posted Yesterday Meant Nothing Coming From You – Moms

Dear racist friend: that Martin Luther King Jr. quote you posted yesterday wasnt enough to convince me that youre not terribly racist.

Yesterday was MLK Day, the annual event where we celebrate the life of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. which was cut short by a gunshot wound on January 20th, 1968. The day marks an annual reminder that all is still not well within the United States when it comes to race and equality.

Its also my annual reminder of how even the most racist people on Earth will take one day out of the year to sheepishly acknowledge a man who was killed by an avowed racist.

I found a really good tweet about the whole thing the other day. It was from the FBI, of all places, which did exactly as you did and tweeted out a solemn and inspirational quote from the late Doctor. "The time is always right to do what is right," read the quote, which is exactly the sort of thing youd see on an inspirational poster with a black-and-white photo of Martin Lither King Jr. in the background.

RELATED: Is Disney Plus' Disclaimer About Racist Scenes Enough?

But heres the thing: the FBI HATED Martin Luther King. They were actively trying to sabotage him at every opportunity. After Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech at the National Mall in August of 1963, the FBI approved a huge surveillance operation against Dr. King, with Domestic Intelligence Chief William Sullivan calling him "the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation."

The surveillance didn't reveal any illegal actions on MLK's part, but they did reveal a history of extramarital affairs. Later, the FBI packaged up all their "King sex tapes" and then mailed them to his home address. His wife opened the package. She wasn't pleased.

Worse, the letter inside the package made it seem like it was written by a disillusioned black former supporter and demanded the King halt his activism. To date, the FBI has never apologized.

That one nice MLK quote really doesnt cut it from them, and it certainly doesnt cut it from you. Now, stop sharing all those Pepe the Frog memes and be a civilized human being for once.

Source: Twitter, Vox

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Sorry Racist Friend, That MLK Quote You Posted Yesterday Meant Nothing Coming From You - Moms

Hide the Pain Harold is the meme of the decade (according to Imgur) – The Next Web

Distracted boyfriend, American Chopper yelling scene, Pepe the Frog, woman yelling at a cat all memorable memes. But which one of those is the meme of the decade? Its a hotly contested topic, thats for sure. But according to image sharing platform Imgur, the most impactful meme of the decade is none of those.

We asked Imgurians to decide, once and for all, which meme was their favorite meme from the 2010s, the company wrote in a blog post. From 2,000 nominations, the top 10 were selected to battle it out in the final round. A total of 54,768 votes were cast in 72 hours by Imgurians. It was a close race, but were proud to announce Imgurs Meme of the Decade is Hide the Pain Harold.

Hide the Pain Harold represents a deep-seated emotion, a quiet dread, or existential anguish that resides in all of us, Imgur writes.

To clinch this prestigious title, Harold edged out the badly photoshopped Michael Cera and the this is fine dog memes.

Grumpy Cat, Nodding Gandalf, and Obama-Biden Bromance were also among the top contestants.

You cant argue with the numbers.

The man behind the meme isAndrs Arat, a retired engineer from Hungary whose rise to fame began with a random shoot for a stock photo website.

Nine years ago, I did a reverse image search on a photograph of me and was shocked to discover it had become a meme.Arat wrote in a piece for The Guardian. People online thought my smile, combined with the look in my eyes, seemed terribly sad. They were calling me Hide the Pain Harold.'

The photo came from a shoot Id done a year earlier, when I was still working as an electrical engineer, he added. A professional photographer had got in touch after seeing my holiday photographs on Facebook. He said he was seeking someone like me to be in some stock images.

Once the memes were out in the world, journalists began to contact me, and wanted to come to my home to interview me. My wife hated it: she thought it interfered in our private life and didnt like the way I was portrayed, he said. I was given a role in a television commercial for a Hungarian car dealer. []The fee for that commercial changed my wifes mind about the meme.

Congrats on the meme of the decade award, Harold. Youre an absolute fucking legend.

Read next: Facebook now sends you a notification when you log in to third-party sites

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Hide the Pain Harold is the meme of the decade (according to Imgur) - The Next Web

We wish we’d written that: STAT staffers share their favorite stories of 2019 – STAT

As we look back on 2019, we at STAT find ourselves a little jealous.

There has been a lot of stellar health and science journalism this year, and below is a roundup of the stories we wish we had written.

And wed be remiss if we didnt admit the origins of this annual tradition Bloomberg Businessweek did it first, and head over there for more great reads.

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Story by Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken, CNN InvestigatesPhotographs by Melissa Lyttle for CNN

Teaira Shorters appendix ruptured while she was in jail, serving time for minor offenses such as not wearing a seatbelt. She began to experience symptoms while in custody but her pleas for medical help were ignored for days which ultimately resulted in a life-threatening infection.

This investigation of an individual case sheds light on institutional problems in our foster care and prison system that put vulnerable populations at terrible risk. Melissa Lyttles photographs bring us directly into the life of this young woman trying to move forward. Contributed by Alissa Ambrose

By Ryan Cross, Chemical & Engineering News

When a young man in Wilsons clinical trial of a gene therapy died, in 1999, it basically shut down the field for a decade and made Wilson a pariah. C&ENs profile shows us not only how the tragedy made Wilson reassess his approach to science but also how it turned him into one of gene therapys most outspoken critics: Although he believes deeply that repairing genes can cure some of our most devastating diseases, Wilson is also outspoken about the risky approaches that some gene therapy studies are taking today. Contributed by Sharon Begley

By Ava Kofman, ProPublica

To read this piece is to see todays equivalent of a Dickensian debtors prison. Ava Kofman lays out, detail by infuriating detail, how digital technologies touted as progress are used to criminalize poverty. Supposedly, installing ankle monitors is a way to get people out of jail. But because companies charge the wearers daily fees they often cant keep up with and because their devices make it especially hard to land or hold down a job the practice ends up sweeping more people behind bars. Kofman masterfully weaves a tale of bodies controlled by private firms, of lives upended by machines that were supposed to set them free. As one young man puts it, I get in trouble for living. For being me. Contributed by Eric Boodman

By Martin Enserink, SciencePhotography by Tom Bouyer, Expedition 5300

Journalist Martin Enserink journeyed high into the Andes to write about research into the effects of chronic mountain sickness traveling, effectively, into thin air. He and photographer Tom Bouyer, whose striking photographs make this a visually arresting piece, traveled to La Rinconada, Peru, the worlds highest settlement and a gold mining town. If that activity draws to mind the wild, wild west, hang on to that thought. Enserink described La Riconada, which is north of Lake Titicaca, as Madmaxian, observing that the researchers typically retreat to their hotel rooms by 8 p.m. for safetys sake.

This forgotten part of the world is perilous for other reasons. People living in an environment with half the oxygen available to lungs at sea level can experience a host of physical ailments. These researchers would like to pave the way to therapies for chronic mountain sickness, but first need to better define what living and working at this altitude does to human bodies. Its a fascinating read. Contributed by Helen Branswell

By Ben Elgin, Bloomberg

At first, the foreboding ads flooding D.C.-area television sets didnt make much sense: Why would an advocacy group representing Americas sheriffs care whether states can import prescription drugs from Canada? Bloomberg investigated and found an answer: The pharmaceutical industry was funding the ads through an intermediary group, the Partnership for Safe Medicines. In a year already dominated by heavy-handed lobbying and advocacy surrounding prescription drug pricing, Bloomberg spotlighted one of the most brazen examples of indirect ad campaigns meant to gin up antagonism toward attempts at lowering drug prices. Contributed by Lev Facher

By Caroline Chen, ProPublica

Chens exhaustive investigation of the unregulated $2 billion stem cell industry showed how questionable marketing practices and misleading scientific claims are duping patients into paying thousands of dollars for injections of amniotic stem cells that dont work. Chens work prompted the Food and Drug Administration to ramp up its enforcement efforts. Contributed by Adam Feuerstein

By Rob Copeland and Bradley Hope, Wall Street Journal

This is the story of how Martin Shkreli, the cartoonishly disgraced biotech entrepreneur, continued to run his synonymous-with-greed drug company from federal prison. There are memorable cameos from inmates called Krispy and D-Block, fascinating details about a corporate power struggle, and an Austrian interior designer who made a regrettable investment. But the star of course is Shkreli, whose jailhouse persona lands somewhere between Jordan Belfort and Pepe the Frog. Despite lots of seemingly reasonable advice to just give it a rest, he remains convinced of his own gift for drug development and incapable of ever, for any reason, logging off. Contributed by Damian Garde

By Betsy McKay, Wall Street Journal

Our job as journalists is to notice the obvious, and this story does that brilliantly. For years, cardiovascular disease has been in decline, and it was expected to fall below cancer as the leading cause of death. In the words of Robert Anderson, chief of the CDCs mortality statistics branch, Its highly unlikely given the current trend that there will be a crossover anytime soon. In fact, the rates of heart attack and stroke mortality among people in their 40s and 50s are increasing. The story even takes a paragraph to embrace a celebrity angle, noting the deaths due to stroke of 90s icons John Singleton, who directed Boyz N the Hood and Luke Perry, who played bad boy Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills, 90210. But the story does more, explaining how heart disease patients have changed over 20 years. Once, they were men who smoked and had sky-high LDL levels. Now they are younger, more obese, and more likely to be women. The big question left behind is what society can do to put cardiovascular disease back in decline. Contributed by Matthew Herper

By Mike Hixenbaugh and Keri Blakinger, NBC News and the Houston Chronicle

In this series, reporters from NBC News and the Houston Chronicle reveal how incorrect determinations of various forms of child abuse have imprisoned relatives or separated them from children. These are incredibly complicated stories involving vulnerable children, and they show how difficult it can be to distinguish between accident and abuse. But the series reveals the ties among childrens hospitals and child welfare and law enforcement agencies and the authority conceded to doctors by the legal system. What comes across is how parents worries about a sick or injured child might just be the start of their nightmare. Contributed by Andrew Joseph

By Nellie Bowles, New York Times

Weve all heard the stories of the Silicon Valley pioneers who, after having gotten us all hopelessly addicted to our phones, now carefully limit their own childrens screen time. In this smart and provocative news analysis, reporter Nellie Bowles examines that phenomenon as well as its flip side. She tells the story of a health-tech startup called Care.Coach that employs workers in the Philippines and Latin America to operate digital avatars that live within tables and are being tested as companions for low-income seniors in the U.S. Its a telling example, she writes, of a growing class divide in how care, education, and all those services and interactions that make up our lives get delivered. As more screens appear in the lives of the poor, screens are disappearing from the lives of the rich, Bowles writes. Its an observation thats lingered with me and shaped how I, as a health-tech reporter, think about covering the growing number of health-care inventions that get delivered through screens. Contributed by Rebecca Robbins

By Anna Edney, Susan Berfield, and Evelyn Yu, Bloomberg Businessweek

Bloombergs Anna Edney has owned the generic drugs might kill you beat literally all year long, from three features over three days in January to a cover story in September to right up to the week she started her maternity leave. (Congratulations, Anna!) Pharmaceutical manufacturing and quality control is rarely the flashiest or the easiest thing to write about. But she and her colleagues showed real problems in the oversight of generic drug factories in the U.S. and overseas and illustrated the consequences lackluster oversight can have for real people. My hat is also tipped to Justin Metz, who did the simple and perfect cover photo illustration for one of Edneys stories in the Sept. 16 edition of Businessweek. Contributed by Kate Sheridan

By Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic

The Atlantics Sarah Zhang has done fantastic reporting this year on the cultural ramifications of consumer DNA testing, including this story about an Indiana fertility doctor named Donald Cline. Decades ago, Cline allegedly used his own sperm to impregnate his patients without telling them. DNA tests from 23andMe and Ancestry.com have turned up at least 50 children Cline fathered with his patients. This story told with sensitivity and gripping detail examines how those children found each other and how Clines actions have impacted their lives. Contributed by Megan Thielking

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We wish we'd written that: STAT staffers share their favorite stories of 2019 - STAT

The hope of Chanukah – The Spectator USA

The neighbors got together for drinks and carols at the weekend. As an English Jew, I love the carols all those old-time bangers from the time when midwinter really was bleak, all those Zionist lyrics about royal Davids city and kings in Israel. I consider it a mitzvah, a religious obligation, to spread the joy, because theres not enough joy to the world these days, so I play the piano, this year in an impromptu trio with an Irish American fiddler and an English literary critic who, it transpires, toots a mean descant on the trumpet. We spread the joy as a farmer spreads muck, but its the spirit that counts. Without rehearsal or premeditation, we turned Silent Night into a Dean Martin drunk song.

Two nights later, it was the first night of Chanukah. My three daughters lit three menorahs and we sangMaoz Tzur (Rock of Ages):

Furiously they assailed usBut Thine arm availed usAnd Thy word broke their swordWhen our strength failed us

The song has become associated with the Maccabean Revolt of 167 BC the first nationalist movement in history but it was written, like many of the carols, in the Middle Ages. Its impossible not to read those words without thinking of those who fought for their religious freedom against the Syrian tyrant Antiochus IV and those who died for it in medieval and modern Europe as in a kosher market in Jersey City.

It may come as a surprise, but Jews dont spend most of their time thinking about anti-Semitism. Or rather, we spend as little time as safely possible thinking about it. We are obliged to choose life, and life and the making of joy and children mean we must refuse to be defined by a morbid shadow-play of other peoples projections. The tide of hate and violence is rising, however.

It has become acceptable to say appalling things about Jews some of them calumnies carrying the stale flavor of the Middle Ages, some of them more recent and carrying the Germanic taste of blood and iron things that remain unsayable about any other people. Especially online, which for reasons that elude me is considered to be a Casablancaof the media, where anything goes and no one is accountable.

It also appears to have become acceptable, in New York City in particular, for Orthodox Jews to be assaulted without the police or mayor doing much about it. And it appears that the strength of many Jewish organizations, the Anti-Defamation League among them, is more devoted to sustaining the Democratic partys coalition than to doing their job of defending Jews. The same goes for many assimilated Jews, who keep their own heads down and complain that religious Jews make it hard for themselves and everyone else. But there are also many, including many people who are not Jewish, who do stand up for what is right and fair, and who fight against lies and incitement.

Furiously they assail us. This year was the first year I received anti-Semitic tweets, anonymous physical threats, notifications that my name was on a list for future punishment, Holocaust denial (on one impressively sick occasion in rhyming couplets) and, in an unneeded further proof of the collapse of our public discourse, images of the alt-right fetish object Pepe the Frog. This year, while the dimwitted online world argued about tropes, my younger daughters learnt to read trope, the ancient cantillation that they will perform when the elder of them has herbat mitzvahin May. Rock of Ages, let our song / Praise thy saving power.

So I refuse to give up hope, and I know that we will be here, and there too, for as long as we have the faith to do so. In many ways, we are living in an age of miracles. The United States, despite its balkanized society and demented politics, remains an island of tolerance between religions, despite the perverse hostility of the Democratic left, street thugs and a few college professors. The state of Israel, which did not exist when my grandparents families were murdered, is thriving and has never had such good diplomatic relations with some many states and peoples. This year, work began on the Abrahamic Family House, in the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi, a development whose centerpiece is a common religious space, with a mosque, a church and a synagogue.

The year ended with what, for an English Jew living in the United States, was an almost overwhelming double gift. On December 11, President Trump extended the protections of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act (1964) to Jews, as the George W. Bush administrations Department of Education had decreed in 2004 for Sikhs, Muslims and Jews, and the Obama administrations Department of Justice had confirmed in 2010.

On December 12, Jeremy Corbyn and a hard-left Labour party were demolished in Britains general elections. The elections were about many things Brexit, the National Health Service, the prospect of punitive taxation but a crucial factor was Corbyns foul politics, including his defense of the murderers of the IRA, Hamas and Hezbollah, and his seeking out of the company of Holocaust deniers and those who rationalize a selective and obsessive hatred as anti-Zionism.

On the first night of Chanukah, Britains prime minister Boris Johnson sent amessage to Britains Jews: When the Maccabees drove the forces of darkness out of Jerusalem, they had to do so on their own. Today, as Britains Jews seek to drive back the darkness of resurgent anti-Semitism, you have every decent person in this country fighting by your side.

From darkness to light: from the prospect of a Labour government that promised to drive Zionists almost all Jews, in fact from public life, to a Conservative government whose leader sends a clear and moral message, albeit one in which Johnson, an Oxford-educated Classicist, mixed Antiochus III with Antiochus IV.

President Trumps Executive Order and the British publics rejection of Corbyn show that the Jews are not alone in these difficult times. They show that, for all the experts who complain about populism, decency is not inimical to democracy. They show that, despite everything, we should look forward in hope.

I pray that the coming year will be a better one for all of us, including the Kurds of Syria, the Muslims of China and thepeople of Iran, hundreds of whom have beenkilled in recent weeks for demanding their freedom. The Abrahamic family house has many mansions.I wish all my friends and readers a Happy Christmas and aChag Chanukah Sameach.

Dominic Green is Life & Arts editor of Spectator USA.

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The hope of Chanukah - The Spectator USA

When the O.K. Sign Is No Longer O.K. – The New York Times

The gesture is not the only symbol to have been appropriated and swiftly weaponized by alt-right internet trolls. The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified memes featuring the hoax religion of Kek and the cartoon character Pepe the Frog, among others, as being at the forefront of white nationalists efforts to distract and infuriate liberals.

A number of high-profile figures on the far right have helped spread the gestures racist connotation by flashing it conspicuously in public, including Milo Yiannopolous, an outspoken former Breitbart editor, and Richard B. Spencer, one of the promoters of the white power rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 that resulted in the death of a 32-year-old woman.

The gesture was in the headlines again after Roger Stone, a longtime political adviser to President Trump, met with a group of white nationalists known as the Proud Boys in Salem, Ore., in 2018 and was photographed displaying it with them.

Critics expressed outrage when a former White House aide, Zina Bash, appeared to be flashing the sign as she sat behind Brett M. Kavanaugh during his televised Senate confirmation hearings for his appointment to the Supreme Court. Defenders of Ms. Bash insisted that she had not intended any racist connotation and was merely signaling O.K. to someone.

That the gesture has migrated beyond ironic trolling culture to become a sincere expression of white supremacy, according to the Anti-Defamation League, could be seen in March 2019 when Brenton Tarrant, the white supremacist accused of killing 50 people in back-to-back mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, smiled and flashed the sign to reporters at a court hearing on his case.

Some people who have used the gesture publicly in a way that seemed to suggest support for racist views have faced consequences. In 2018, the United States Coast Guard suspended an officer who appeared to use the sign on camera during an MSNBC broadcast. Later that year, four police officers in Jasper, Ala., were suspended after a photo was published showing them flashing the sign below the waist. And over the summer, a baseball fan was barred indefinitely from Wrigley Field in Chicago after making the gesture behind the NBC sports commentator Doug Glanville during a broadcast of a Cubs game.

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When the O.K. Sign Is No Longer O.K. - The New York Times


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