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Survivalism 101: A Survivalist Preparation Guide | Gaia

Grow your innate survival abilities and watch your sleep improve and your worries lessen. Often your greatest fears become your greatest strengths; consider teaching others as you hone your skills.Here are a few ways to establishyour independence.

Learn how to grow your own food. Also, learn how to store, pickle and dry food. Learn how to cook with minimal ingredients. Consider growingmedicinal plants and learning the edible and medicinal plants that naturally grow in your local environment. When you grow your own food pre-apocalypse, you may even save $24,000 per year. Composting skills are also extremely valuable, especially if biomass energy is generated.

Read about the cycles of the sun and moon. Document eclipses, astronomical changes and learn to navigate by the stars. Master navigators were often the explorers and elders of ancient civilization, revered for their understanding of earth systems. Now a lost art, some cultures still use Old World navigation: Polynesians are still considered genius navigators and useancient techniques to travelthe ocean by canoe.

Learning to hunt, fish and raise livestock are invaluable skills. Hunting and fishing may involve various weapons or trapping techniques. The Boulder Outdoor Survival School teachesthree basic hunting strategies; the strategies are based on the tactics used by animals, such ascanine (chase/pack hunting), feline (spot and stalk) and raptor (ambush). Urban agriculture programs are surfacing all around the world, which supports efforts to raise chickens, rabbits or even apiary endeavors. Explore the urban agriculture policies of your local government.

While your first step is to measure and lower your energy use, you may also invest in renewable and alternative energy sources. Invest in solar panels, a generator, wind turbines and property with geothermal energy.Teslas solar shingles are inspiring new home designs: consider following the work of energy progressives like Tesla and the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Learn how to heal yourself. How to take care of yourself. If you are dependent on medicine, find a natural remedy you can grow. If you need glasses, consider getting laser eye surgery. Steve Huffman, CEO and Founder of Reddit and survivalist, got laser eye surgery so he would no longer be dependent on his contact lenses or glasses. If you have allergies, exploreimmune-building tactics you can take to increase your tolerance.

Take technology, engineering or construction classes. Learn how things work, how to take them apart and put them together. In large part, survivalskills involve understandingnature and learning how to use natural materials and processes to survive. Take survivalist courses: learn how to build a snow cave and start a fire without matches. Here are some other training courses to consider:

Establish a meeting place or signal system with loved ones. FEMA provides guidelines for emergency preparation, including organization of identification and financial documents. However, in the event that government emergency services are not operating, consider drafting a basic plan on whereand when to congregate with family members, on high ground and at a certain time driven by nature, such as sunrise.

Throughout history, many indigenous cultures have lived in harmony with the planet, with respect for nature, animals and the cycles of the planets. Learn about indigenous cultures in your area: how they handled weather extremes, the plants they ate and used, and how they built shelter. These practices were refined over centuries and offer ingenious survival tricks.

The lone wolf survival strategy is only one approach to survivalism. According to Gregg Braden, cooperation, not competition, is the most successful evolutionary driver and thus, adaptation strategy. Create a network, understand each others strengths and weakness, work together to create and implement solutions.

Learn how to defend yourself. For some this may mean stockpiling ammunition, but considering that is not a sustainable tactic,try learning martial arts, archery or basic defense strategy. Placement of a shelter, on high ground and with a birds eye view, is an example of a tactical defense strategy.

The principles of Ubuntu may seem idealistic, but a survivalist future based on contributionism is certainly possible. To prepare, develop a craft people will need and appreciate. For example, learn to grow strawberries for a world wanting sweetness or knit wool hats for cold winters. Consider your personal strengths and leveragethem.

It may seem counterintuitive, but survivalism requires practice. Embody a mindset of sustainability and independence. Set aside time each year to test and advance your survival skills. Try a survival field course:you can find courses and schools that offer urban or wilderness survival training. Eventuallyyou may even consider living off the grid full time.

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Survivalism 101: A Survivalist Preparation Guide | Gaia

COMMENT | The human experience in the Covid-19 outbreak – Malaysiakini

COMMENT | Merely months ago, Covid-19 was an intangible phenomenon in faraway nations; today, humanity is under lockdown and the very structure of society has been dismantled. Pinpointing an area of our lives that has been indelibly changed by the outbreak is a task so straightforward it becomes difficult: how do we choose between healthcare, with millions infected; the economy, as unemployment skyrockets worldwide; or the law, exploited for increasingly autocratic purposes?

Discussions about the outbreak are often caught in these large frameworks - important, but neglecting the nuances of each persons experiences. With this in mind, this article will instead focus on how the human experience has been transformed in three ways: firstly, through tribalism and fragmentation; secondly, a more complex understanding of connection; and finally, the disruption of normalcy.

Firstly, the pandemic has sparked a trend towards division, as fear prevails and politicians prey upon insecurity. From India to Italy, divisive parties already fed upon the populaces discontent with diversity (presumed to cause economic and social decline) before the crisis. The tribalistic sentiments such parties evoked - defensiveness and antagonism - have proliferated as we scramble for a sense of security and someone to blame.

Individually, it is most prominent in panic buying, captured in viral clips of fighting shoppers that encapsulate a regression to us versus them survivalism. On a social level, "otherisation" has manifested in "No Chinese" signs in Seoul, mistreatment of resident Africans in Guangzhou and countless other instances of discrimination against groups baselessly deemed vectors of disease.

In addition to prejudice against specific individuals, people have expressed their fear by ...

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COMMENT | The human experience in the Covid-19 outbreak - Malaysiakini

The end is near? Why some Latter-day Saints (hey, it’s in their church’s name) and others think it is. – Salt Lake Tribune

The world was supposed to end Wednesday, a doomsaying Latter-day Saint couple in Idaho predicted, and usher in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

If youre reading this, however, you know that the Earth continues to turn, with no sign of the Christian Savior.

No matter how discredited the Daybells are, though, there are still hundreds if not thousands of Latter-day Saints and other believers who are looking for signs of the prophesied apocalypse and insist it is imminent.

Some, in fact, calculate that the end will come sometime in July or August, based on their interpretation of scriptures.

Even without these extraordinary circumstances, the very name of the Utah-based faith The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims that these are latter days.

And church President Russell M. Nelson, though not giving a date, has referenced the Second Coming more than his immediate predecessors.

For her part, Mormon prognosticator Julie Rowe, who lays claim to visionary powers herself, dismisses the Daybell prophecy.

Ive asked the Lord over and over, but nothing is coming, she says in a phone interview. Chad Daybell is deceived.

Daybell was Rowes publisher and friend for years, but she says he now has given into lust and greed.

From that day to this, Blythe says, the church has steadfastly preached that it existed in the last days, but the end was always described as a generation or more away.

Things are going to move forward at an accelerated pace, he told the Church News. The church is going to have an unprecedented future, unparalleled. Were just building up to whats ahead now.

This is a hinge point in the history of the church, Nelson wrote, and your part is vital.

We are just building up to the climax of this last dispensation when the Saviors Second Coming becomes a reality, the 95-year-old leader said, reminding the faithful that a necessary prelude ... is the long-awaited gathering of scattered Israel.

Nelson then described Christs triumphant reign.

He will govern from two world capitals: one in old Jerusalem and the other in the New Jerusalem built upon the American continent, the Latter-day Saint leader said. From these centers, he will direct the affairs of his church and kingdom. Another temple will yet be built in Jerusalem. The earth will be returned to its paradisiacal state and be made new. There will be a new heaven and a new earth.

Nelson gave no timing for these events, though.

That hasnt stopped some members who have had dreams or visions, or spent years trying to piece together scriptural clues, from seeking safe spaces to have these conversations, the scholar explains, whether in small pockets of family members or small like-minded groups.

And now, more than ever, on the internet.

At first blush, these world watchers appear to be committed Latter-day Saints loyal to the institution and tradition, says Lindsay Hansen Park, executive director of the Sunstone Education Foundation.

The more radical interpretations of Mormon scripture they embrace are tolerated by local lay leaders, says Park, because they form in geographical pockets where the groundwork for extreme ideas has already been seeded.

Western Latter-day Saints, including the Cliven Bundy clan, often embrace libertarian rural values, she says, because issues of sovereignty and range wars are deeply tied to faith for many in the area.

Similar veins run within the Latter-day Saint mainstream in Utah, Nevada, Arizona and Idaho, says Park, who hosts a podcast, Year of Polygamy, that traces breakaway sects within the Mormon tradition.

These movements attract Latter-day Saints, Park says, because they get more theological autonomy in a tradition that promises the possibility of mystical experiences and spiritual gifts.

They are largely influenced by both popular American Christian culture (energy work, essential oils, Christian mysticism, survivalism), she says, and by the red-scare preachings of former church President Ezra Taft Benson and John Birch Society advocate Cleon Skousen.

Benson, U.S. secretary of agriculture under Dwight Eisenhower and later the churchs 13th president, grew up on a farm in Idaho. Through the years, he became increasingly convinced of Cold War conspiracies and doomsday scenarios.

Bensons apostolic status led many members to believe his ideas were endorsed by the church, Harris says, as if they represented a mainstream position rather than the fringe.

Despite being regularly rebuked by other church authorities, including Presidents David O. McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee and Spencer W. Kimball, says the scholar who teaches history at Colorado State University-Pueblo, Benson continued to call the civil rights movement a communist plot.

His end times warnings about the United Nations, a new world order and the need to arm against a police state to protect the Constitution were passed down to each new generation.

Whats new in todays apocalyptic movement, Harris says, is the inclusion of near-death revelatory experiences, which can be compelling and hard to control.

In 2014, Rowe, a Mormon mother of three in Kansas City, Mo., detailed her near-death experience a decade earlier in A Greater Tomorrow: My Journey Beyond the Veil. She writes that she visited the afterlife and saw visions of the past and future.

The book took off, she says, selling more than 60,000 copies, and Rowe became a sought-after speaker.

LDS Church headquarters received so many inquiries about Rowe that church officials sent a letter to administrators and teachers in the Church Educational System, saying that her book was not endorsed by the church and that her experiences do not necessarily reflect church doctrine, or they may distort doctrine.

Still, her popularity ballooned as she continued to publish books with Spring Creek Book Co. in Rexburg, Idaho, run by Chad Daybell.

That conference was the beginning of the end of her friendship with Daybell, Rowe says. I saw a lot of red flags.

But the charismatic prepper continues to expand her efforts to include several podcasts, a nonprofit dedicated to creating safe houses for those needing refuge, and one-on-one energy therapies.

On May 26, 2019, Rowe announced on her podcast that she was excommunicated from the church for apostasy, teaching false doctrine, priestcraft, and defaming the good name of the church, Blythe reports in his book, and that she said it was the work of corrupt men who had infiltrated Latter-day Saint leadership.

She prophesied that church leaders would eventually visit her where she would be living in Idaho after the destruction in Salt Lake City, Blythe writes, and seek her forgiveness.

Since then, though, he says other apocalyptic groups especially AVOW (Another Voice of Warning), which has some 20,000 online followers have distanced themselves from Rowe in hopes of staying close to the church.

Even so, Rowe presses on with what she sees as her mission: to warn people and help them discern what is coming:

That includes a bigger earthquake next year along the Wasatch Front (I had a vision of the [March 18] Salt Lake earthquake and the trumpet falling off Angel Moronis statue), another pandemic in the fall, the U.S. eventually being enslaved to a new world order, and two-thirds of the planets people perishing.

Lucifer is behind it, Rowe declares. He [and] a 13-man council (the puppet masters) headquartered in Switzerland are orchestrating everything.

Police sources in Rexburg say Daybells friends were told that the beginning of the end would happen July 22.

Vallow and Daybell married weeks after Daybells wife died and the jailed mother told Gibb there was going to be an earthquake that was going to hit so large in Utah by the end of 2019 that (people) wouldnt notice anything in her personal life going on, Gibb says in the interview. Lori often mentioned the world would end in 2020, and Jesus Christ would return to the earth. She based this belief on scriptural study and research.

On Wednesday, lots of former Daybell devotees gleefully posted on social media, Marked Safe from the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Other Latter-day Saints, though, still have an explanation for why the summer of 2020 might be an auspicious date for the beginning of the end. It is based on the oft-cited seven seals described in the Bibles Book of Revelation.

If a day in Gods time is a thousand human years, then the earth has a temporal existence of 7,000 years, it says in the LDS Churchs Doctrine and Covenants Section 77. The seventh seal was opened in 2000, so this analysis goes.

Yet, the opening of the seventh seal was not the only clue for end times events, Blythe notes in a post on his website. The Book of Revelation does not present the Second Coming occurring alongside the opening of the seventh seal.

He notes that the scriptural passage continues: And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

Doing the math, if a half-hour of Gods time equals 20.8 earth years, that would bring the date closer to August.

Latter-day Saints continue to be intrigued by trying to uncover the meanings in Mormon and biblical apocalyptic verses especially amid COVID-19.

A YouTube video aimed at Latter-day Saints uses many of these scriptures to build a timeline full of solar eclipses and speculations about times of tribulation and its been viewed more than 636,000 times.

Five months ago, most Latter-day Saints would have ignored the altogether, Blythe says. Now [it] has a huge audience.

David Gillmore, who runs LDS Prepper in Shelley, Idaho, has sold more of his products water filtration systems, plant food, 10-inch can sealers, organic seed banks and gardening course books in the past eight weeks than all of 2019.

Noah was the first prepper, the amiable Gillmore quips, prepper with a purpose.

But Gillmore is clear: He is not a doomsday prepper or anticipating Christs imminent return or listening to somebodys dreams or visions about the end of the world.

No, he says, We are preparing for life.

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The end is near? Why some Latter-day Saints (hey, it's in their church's name) and others think it is. - Salt Lake Tribune

‘The Office’: How the Jim-Dwight Rivalry Impacted the Actors’ Off-Screen Relationship – Showbiz Cheat Sheet

Fans of The Office loved seeing Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) romance Dunder Mifflin receptionist Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer). While the couple brought in a big audience, another duo on the show was also a major draw.

The running rivalry between Jim and Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) helped make The Office must see TV. With the two characters playing complete opposites, Krasinski and Wilson perfected their on-screen personas, which also had an effect on how they interacted off camera.

When producers on The Office began casting calls, Krasinski was originally invited to play Dwight Schrute. Immediately the actor knew it wouldnt be a good fit.

When they asked me to audition for this, they actually sent the sides for Dwight, and there was something very weird, Krasinski told NPR in 2016. There was something in me that just said if I go in, I want to go with my best foot forward. I dont feel like Im Dwight. I feel like Im more Jim.

Apparently Krasinskis choice didnt sit well with producers, who saw the 13 Hours star as the office nerd Dwight. At first they rescinded their offer but fortunately came around to give the actor a chance.

RELATED:The Office: John Krasinski Kept One Memento When He Thought The Show Was Going to be Cancelled and its Not the Teapot

My manager at the time called and said, you know, he doesnt want to go in for Dwight. He wants to go in for Jim, and they said, great, then he wont come in at all, Krasinski recalled. There was about three weeks there where I thought the role was gone, the opportunity was gone. And then they called and they said, OK, he can come in and read for Jim, which was pretty amazing.

Wilson created an iconic character in his portrayal of Dwight. Playing the offbeat salesman with a penchant for Battlestar Galactica, pingpong, survivalism, and karate, Wilson tired of being seen as only the odd beet farmer rather than a versatile actor.

I am not Dwight Schrute, okay? Wilson said in a humorous rant on Crooked Medias Lovett or Leave It podcast. I played a character for 200 episodes, and it was an awesome character, and he was a beet farmer. That doesnt mean you should hand me beets and make beet jokes every time I go into Starbucks and ask if they have like a beet latte or something like that.

Often approached by fans, The Office alum prefers not to be barraged with a plethora of Dwight-isms.

RELATED:John Krasinski May Have Given The Offices Jim and Pam a Shout Out in A Quiet Place

Dont hand me reams of paper, and dont say fact to me, and dont ask me which bear is best, he requested. And thank you for watching the Emmy-winning showThe Office.

Jim frequently played tricks on Dwight, and Dwight would respond by hurling insults at Jim. Krasinski revealed their on-screen sparring gave them a sort of familial relationship.

Ithink the rivalry made us become kind of like brothers, Krasinski said in his NPR interview. Theres that rivalry between brothers, obviously. And its not necessarily competitive. Its just this free spirited thing. I think that we really did become a family on that show.

As brothers often have their share of roughhousing, the script sometimes required Jim and Dwight to tussle, which often resulted in an injury for Krasinski.

RELATED: Why John Krasinski Had To Use His Jim-from-The-Office Power for This Film

Another thing that was funny about Rainn and my relationship was like a brother, one of the things that I got nervous about was play fighting with him because hes a very good actor, Krasinski explained. But I, for some reason, would always end up injured when we did any play fighting. So the producers picked up on this and said, you know, Rainn, really just be fake on this. You know, just try to preserve Johns health.

The brotherly sparring paid off because the Jim-Dwight rivalry remains one of the most beloved in television history.

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'The Office': How the Jim-Dwight Rivalry Impacted the Actors' Off-Screen Relationship - Showbiz Cheat Sheet

The 15 Best Zombie Movies of All Time – Men’s Health

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Zombie movies have been an important part of the horror field for a very long time, but the sub-genre has expanded to include picks that are comedic, action-heavy, and even romantic.

But if you're wondering just why people find zombie movies so fascinating, Stanford literary scholar Angela Becerra Vidergar once explained that, "We use fictional narratives not only to emotionally cope with the possibility of impending doom, but even more importantly perhaps to work through the ethical and philosophical frameworks that were in many ways left shattered in the wake of WWII [when the genre became popular]...In a way, survivalism has become a dominant mode of self-reference for a greater number of people. You see that in the obsession in apocalypse and disaster in the fictional stories we tell."

And while the current coronavirus pandemic has led many people to reach for happier, lighter movies to watch, there's also a good reason why you're reaching for your favorite post-apocalyptic flick: "There is this glimmer of hope that I am really interested in," Vidergar explains. "Even if as a society we have lost a lot of our belief in a positive future and instead have more of an idea of a disaster to come, we still think that we are survivors, we still want to believe that we would survive."

So if you're looking for a new zombie flick to watch, we have some picks for youhere are the 15 best zombie movies of all time.

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1Train to Busan

This South Korean film takes place on a train to Busan as a zombie apocalypse suddenly breaks out both in the country on the train, and the passengers have to figure out how to stay alive while also trying to find a safe station to stop the train. The movie's sequel, Peninsula, will be released this year.

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2World War Z

World War Z's power is in its realism, and the zombie outbreak is portrayed in locales worldwide from Newark, New Jersey to Cardiff, Wales. However, Brad Pitt is there to save the day as United Nations investigator Gerry Lane.

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3Zombieland

Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin star in this comedic zombie tale about a group of survivors that try to find a sanctuary free from the zombies ravaging the nation. Expect funny gags, lots of zombie killings, and a cameo from a beloved actorand if you need even more zombie in your life, check out the sequel Zombieland: Double Tap.

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4Little Monsters

What do you get when you mix together Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong'o, a bunch of kindergarteners, and a sudden outbreak of zombies? Movie magic!

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5Night of the Living Dead

George A. Romero's 1968 film revitalized both the horror and zombie genre and in 1999, the legendary film was added by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry. However, there was a lot of controversy when Night of the Living Dead first premiered in theaters, primarily due to its realistic gore and scary plot line. The movie follows seven people who are trapped in a farmhouse in rural Pennsylvania while facing an attack from a group of undead corpses.

6Dawn of the Dead

The classic 1978 film is the second entry in George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead series, and it follows a group of survivors as they barricade themselves inside a suburban shopping mall amidst a zombie outbreak. Unfortunately, the 70's version isn't available for streaming online but you can also check out the 2004 remake.

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728 Days Later

This film was ranked on the top 100 list of the best British films ever, and it follows a group of four survivors as they struggle to cope with their new reality after a zombie outbreak starts when a group of animal activists release a chimpanzee infected a contagious rabies-like virus. It was later followed by a sequel titled 28 Weeks Later.

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8Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies will truly make you believe that you can find love anywhereeven in the middle of a post-apocalyptic zombie-infested world.

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9Shaun of the Dead

This film is definitely for viewers that like some laughs with their zombie flicks, and Shaun of the Dead includes references to Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and 28 Days Later.

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10The Cabin in the Woods

This movies follows a group of college kids (including Chris Hemsworth and Jesse Williams) as they spend a weekend in a remote forest cabin. What they don't know is that engineers are remotely controlling the cabin from a secret lab, and they soon fall victim to the zombies surrounding the property.

11Maggie

Maggie follows Arnold Schwarzenegger as father that finds it hard to cope after his daughter (played by Abigail Breslin) is bitten by a zombie during a countrywide zombie outbreak.

12Resident Evil

Based on the video game franchise of the same name, Resident Evil films follow former security specialist and covert operative Alice (Milla Jovovich) as she fights against the Umbrella Corporation, whose powerful bioweapons have triggered a zombie apocalypse. Fun factThe Resident Evil film series has grossed over $1 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film series based on a video game.

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13The Dead Don't Die

Hold on, we need this movie's extremely stacked cast first: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Chlo Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, Rosie Perez, Iggy Pop, Sara Driver, RZA, Selena Gomez, Austin Butler, Tom Waits, and Carol Kane. Whew. The Dead Don't Die follows a small town's police force as they combat a sudden zombie invasion.

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14The Cured

After a plague-like virus that turns its victims into zombies sweeps through Europe, 75% of said victims are captured, treated, cured, and then released back into society. However, 25% of the infected are resistant to treatment, and the government is eager to get rid of them.

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15Return of the Living Dead

The 1985 film follows a group of people in Louisville, Kentucky, (including some rowdy teenagers) as they deal with the accidental release of zombies in their town. Return of the Living Dead is notable because the zombies in the film eat brains instead of flesh, and its the first known film to show zombies that can run and speak. The movie also led to four sequels, with the most recent one being released in 2005.

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The 15 Best Zombie Movies of All Time - Men's Health

What To Make Of The Mysterious Melania Trump – Worldcrunch

NEW YORK As I finished reading The Art of Her Deal, a biography on Melania Trump by Mary Jordan, it struck me that I could not remember anything relevant that the first lady has ever said that would be worth publishing. Nothing I have heard from Melania has ever been uplifting or even depressing. And in Jordan's book, there was nothing new in what Melania was saying, nothing inspiring, nothing we haven't heard before. It was as if Melania had kept repeating the same mantra again and again, like this phrase, largely used in Slovenian: "The sun always shines after the rain!"

In the book, Melania's expressions are packaged in small blurbs and read like haikus on survivalism that contain common-sense wisdom, rooted deeply in a rural mindset. Her words have an overtone of fatalism, restraining even the tiniest glimmer of hope. Most of the time, when she says something, it's just a dull expression of an obsolete weltanschauung.

Choosing words can be either an art or just the plain repetition of common sense expressions that we Slovenians inherited from our rural ancestors and the Habsburgs. Is it possible that Melania uses them to cover-up her misanthropic nature? She may also sound dull and reluctant for many reasons we do not know about: perhaps because of her looks, which to her mind might not be good enough for public appearance; or maybe she is simply not interested or is unsure about what to say. Maybe it's because a nondisclosure contract with her husband bans it. Or could she be putting the president of the United States on ice, ignoring him because he offended her? Perhaps she carries herself the way she does because her mother taught her how to survive in a world governed by men; how to defend herself and be desirable at the same time, a technique Melania applied to Donald Trump from their first encounter on.

Most of the time, when she says something, it's just a dull expression of an obsolete weltanschauung.

Melania lives in a cocoon, protected with layers of common sense wisdom she learned during her childhood. On rare occasions, when she steps out of her golden cage and opens her mouth, she reminds us of Chance the gardener (Peter Sellers) in Hal Ashby's 1979 cult movie Being There.

Chance lives in the townhouse of a wealthy old man in Washington D.C., tending to the garden. He never leaves the property. Other than gardening, he watches TV, his only contact with the outside world. When his benefactor dies, Chance finally leaves the house, wandering aimlessly. He passes a TV shop and sees himself captured by a camera in the store window. Entranced, he steps backward off the sidewalk and is struck by a chauffeured car, owned by mogul Ben Rand.

Rand's wife, Eve, who is in the car, brings Chance to their home to recover. Rand is a confidant and advisor to the president of the United States, whom he introduces to Chance. In a discussion about the economy, Chance takes his cue from the words "stimulate growth" and talks about the changing seasons of the garden. The president misinterprets this as optimistic political advice and quotes Chance in a speech. Chance now rises to national prominence, attends some important dinners, develops a close connection with the Soviet ambassador, and appears on a television talk show during which his detailed advice about what a serious gardener should do is misunderstood as his opinion on what his presidential policy would be.

The Trumps in November 2019 Photo: Andrea Hanks/White House

Being There is a comedy. It's a story about a misunderstanding between parallel worlds. As Chance, Melania is misread for what she really is. Or better, her parsimonious words are generic and open to loose interpretations, just like Chance's. "People do not know me," Melania says repeatedly, meaning, nobody understands her. She is right. One of the best insider moments that open a little crack into Melania's personal life is a quote about the spa Melania built in a section of the top floor of the Trump Tower penthouse in Manhattan. Melania described it in an interview for Allure magazine in 2008:

"I wanted some privacy and comfort when I needed to get a massage, manicure or pedicure, or have my hair or makeup done. It's 300 square feet, all white marble and silver fixtures with white towels and robes. Everything is from Italy and it's all very modern a very different look from the rest of the apartment which is more baroque."

Taking care of her body is essential central, the core business of Melania Trump. Her body is her most important asset, her looks are her passport. She spends most of her time in a spa or any place where she can recreate her image before she appears in public. She depicts her beauty parlor in aseptic, surgical terms, as space where she painstakingly works herself to perfection. When Melania was asked if Donald Trump ever joined her in the spa, Melania laughed. The spa is her sanctuary. Nobody could cross that threshold.

Of course, the interview with Allure is 12 years old, but according to a Vanity Fair report, Melania Trump's makeup artist of over a decade, Nicole Bryl, was responsible for setting up a designated room for hair, makeup and wardrobe in the White House. "Melania wants a room with the most perfect lighting scenario, which will make our jobs as a creative team that much more efficient since great lighting can make or break any look," she said. Bryl added that it takes "about one hour and 15 minutes of uninterrupted focus" to do the first lady's makeup.

Her looks are her passport.

But there is more. The fresh news comes from Jordan's book after she interviewed the housekeepers at the Bedminster Trump National Golf Club, one of the presidential couple's favorite places. "One of the worst jobs was cleaning up the residue from Melania's regular applications of tanning spray to make sure any traces were removed from all the white surfaces in the bathroom. The bronzer washed off in the shower, and Melania used it nearly every time she left the house," the housekeeper Victorina Morales said. Is this what Melania is all about? Devotion to her body? Solitude in her beauty?

As Mary Jordan observes, Melania's inner circle is small, her former staff sign non-disclosure agreements and old acquaintances in Europe are discouraged from speaking: "In three decades as a correspondent working all over the world, I have often written about the reluctant and the reclusive, including the head of a Mexican drug cartel and a Japanese princess, but nothing compared to trying to understand Melania," Jordan writes in the book.

In my own journalism career, I have always tried not to interview people like Trump and Berlusconi, as any dialog with them would be completely predictable and useless. Melania, I thought, was a different story. I wrote my first piece about her at the insistence of my friends and readers, who thought that I was in a unique position to do so. However, I soon understood the difficulty of the endeavor:

"A couple of years ago, as a Slovenian reporter, I started to follow Mrs. Trump's Twitter account, @MELANIATRUMP. I dropped the effort soon after because my former countrywoman did not show any signs of political life or any otherwise interesting activity. It was all about tacky mundanity interrupted by occasional close-up photos of a single rose. An attempt to demonstrate her artistic talent or just touting the fact that her Donald brought her a bouquet of roses? I did not pay attention to these details back then."

Writing about Melania can only be done by adding speculation and fiction.

I very quickly abandoned the effort to reach Melania for an interview. None of the contacts I had worked, all channels were blocked. There were people who in return for a payment were offering pieces of third-hand information on Melania. Disgusted, I refused all of them. Whichever way I turned, I bumped into a thick wall. I assume Jordan must have felt the same since she considered Melania to be a more reluctant and reclusive subject than the head of a Mexican drug cartel and a Japanese princess. My conclusion, more than four years ago, was that writing about Melania can only be done by adding speculation and fiction. I concluded my first piece on Melania Trump by writing:

To me, Melania is similar to a sleeper cell. She's not a terrorist of course, but she could be radicalized in the same way former Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi's wife, Veronica Lario, did. She was a B-list actress when Berlusconi approached her at a bus station in Milan. He went to see her in a theater. Veronica was nowhere to be seen for many years. She gave Berlusconi three children and lived in a "castle" as Melania does. Then Veronica met an intellectual a philosopher and former mayor of Venice, Massimo Cacciari and became radicalized. She'd had enough of her husband's nonsense. Illuminated by Cacciari, she didn't want her kids to be like their father. She filed for divorce and started the end of the Berlusconi era. All this after the whole country failed to get rid of him.

Unlike Veronica, Melania Trump has only one 10-year-old son with Donald Trump. She spends a lot of time with him and apparently talks to him in Slovenian. Is there the hope that Melania will do something similar to what Veronica did? And as a consequence deprive Trump of her support or stop him from being that violent, reckless person that he is? Or perhaps come out on the open and say something that will stop Mr. Donald Trump from running for president?

Lauren Collins of the New Yorker read correctly what I was trying to do:

"On the site Yonder News, the Slovenian-born journalist Andrej Mrevlje considered in what amounted to an inspired piece of non-fan fiction whether Melania could ever undergo a transformation similar to that of Veronica Lario, Silvio Berlusconi's ex-wife." In her great piece, Collins she too, was never able to interview Melania found a magnificent definition for the presidential couple: "For Trump, as it turns out, Melania is the perfect body on which to hang a brand."

Once I started to write about Melania, I received calls and emails from journalists who were trying to know more about her, checking in with me to see if Melania was a story worth writing. I told them about what I thought was the main difficulty, the challenge.

I thought that Melania could be a great character for a spy novel. An inspirational, beautiful woman planted as a spy in the White House by a group of former international diplomats with financial links to Silicon Valley. They are using the first lady to promote a new device that would enable corporations, with the help of the Chinese, to surveil the communications among "Five Eyes," intelligence agencies from the dilapidating Western world. The group organizes a cover-up operation, a horse parade on Pennsylvania Avenue. But the transport of 400 Lipizzaner horses gets hacked by Russians and becomes a cover-up for another big operation, in which the initial group of plotters plays the role of double agent for a Pan Slavic organization that smuggled trillions of dollars from Russia into Swiss banks.

In the novel, a famous young pop philosopher organizes lectures and workshops on film, Lacan, and Hegel in the Rose Garden of the White House. The presidential palace becomes an intellectual gathering spot, a booming cultural center like College de France in the age of Michel Foucault. But things get complicated when the beautiful female agent, the first lady, falls in love with the famous philosopher. The well-balanced spy business gets disrupted as the first lady starts to take over the White House, causing the president to have a massive heart attack when he realizes that his wife and philosopher speak the same language.

I thought that Melania could be a great character for a spy novel.

The Art of Her Deal, is, obviously, a completely different book. It has 280 pages of starkly different material, based on Jordan's 44 minutes of phone interviews with Melania in 2016. Nevertheless, the book has a fascinating opening. In the first chapters of the book, Melania Trump appears smart, balanced, and determined, with a strong agenda in mind. Melania is portrayed as the strategist who the 45th president of the United States depends on. She is the Melania who picked Pence as vice president, the wife who scolded her husband for being a wimp during the campaign, commanding him to go back to fight and win the election. Melania who stubbornly remained in New York for the first six months of Trump's presidency.

Refusing to go to the White House from day one, Melania must have remembered her mother's advice on how to use her charms (the words are mine). While she was away from the White House, she became aware, Jordan wrote, of the leverage she had when it came to her influence over her husband. Trump's team was pressing her to come to Washington and help stabilize the president. According to Jordan, Melania wanted to secure her son Barron's position with a new nuptial agreement, leveling his status to that of the other four Trump children. Melania won, earning a new nuptial agreement, writes Jordan. Her actions echo what Veronica Lario did to her husband, tycoon, and prime minister Silvio Berlusconi before she filed for divorce.

When I read the first part of the book, I thought it was promising. I loved the way Jordan demonstrates the rudeness of young Melania ascending the social ladder. She built good working relationships with the people who helped her modeling career. But as soon she managed to take it a step further, when she left Ljubljana for Milan, then went to Paris and eventually ended up in New York, she never looked back. She cut off all contacts and past relationships. There are plenty of interesting details in Jordan's book if you are interested in Melania's world. I for one did not know that Donald Trump suffers in small spaces and how obsessed he is about sleeping in his own bed. There is more.

But in my opinion, the interesting part of the book, unfortunately, dissolves into detailed reporting of Melania's modeling career. Jordan confirms many times that Melania is a so-called "commercial" model, good for catalogs and advertising, but nothing like a top, career model. But we kind of knew that. As I was reading the book I slowly lost interest and started to wonder who on earth would like to know the minutes of Melania's life with roommates, managers, rivals, in short, explaining all the petty networks that helped her to climb to Trump Tower.

It seems that Jordan got carried away by her journalistic ethics to report out facts. As the facts were scarce, she plunged into the microcosms of a person leading a totally uninteresting life. As a consequence, there are at least two Melanias in Jordan's book. Let's hope nobody tries will to write about a third one.

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What To Make Of The Mysterious Melania Trump - Worldcrunch

‘The Office:’ How the Jim-and-Dwight Rivalry Impacted the Actors’ Offscreen Relationship – Showbiz Cheat Sheet

Fans of The Office loved seeing John Krasinski, who played Jim Halpert, romance Dunder Mifflin receptionist Pam Beesly, portrayed by Jenna Fischer. While the couple brought in a big audience, another duo on the show was also a big draw.

The running rivalry between Jim and Dwight Schrute, played by Rainn Wilson, helped make The Office Must See TV. With the two characters playing complete opposites, Krasinski and Wilson perfected their on-air personas which also had an affect on how they interacted off camera.

When producers on The Office began casting calls, Krasinski was originally being invited to play Dwight. Immediately the actor knew it wouldnt be a good fit.

When they asked me to audition for this, they actually sent the sides for Dwight, and there was something very weird, Krasinski told NPR in 2016. There was something in me that just said if I go in, I want to go with my best foot forward. I dont feel like Im Dwight. I feel like Im more Jim.

Apparently Krasinskis choice didnt sit with producers who saw the 13 Hours star as the office nerd Dwight. At first they rescinded their offer but fortunately came around to give the actor a chance.

RELATED:The Office: John Krasinski Kept One Memento When He Thought The Show Was Going to be Cancelled and its Not the Teapot

My manager at the time called and said, you know, he doesnt want to go in for Dwight. He wants to go in for Jim, and they said, great, then he wont come in at all, Krasinski recalled. There was about three weeks there where I thought the role was gone, the opportunity was gone. And then they called and they said, OK, he can come in and read for Jim, which was pretty amazing.

Wilson created an iconic character in his portrayal of Dwight. Playing the offbeat salesman with a penchant for Battlestar Galactica, ping pong, survivalism, and karate, Wilson soon tired of being seen as only the odd beet farmer rather than a versatile actor.

I am not Dwight Schrute, okay? Wilson said in aCrooked Mediapodcast, according toEntertainment Weekly. I played a character for 200 episodes, and it was an awesome character, and he was a beet farmer. That doesnt mean you should hand me beets or make beet jokes every time I go into Starbucks and ask if they have like a beet latte or something like that.

Often approached by fans, The Office alum prefers not to be barraged with a plethora of Dwight-isms.

RELATED:John Krasinski May Have Given The Offices Jim and Pam a Shout Out in A Quiet Place

Dont hand me reams of paper, and dont say fact to me, and dont ask me which is bear is best, he requested. And thank you for watching the Emmy-winning showThe Office.

Though Jim was frequently seen playing tricks on Dwight while Dwight would respond by hurling insults at Jim, Krasinski revealed that their onscreen sparring gave them a sort of familial relationship.

Ithink the rivalry made us become kind of like brothers, Krasinski said in his NPR interview. Theres that rivalry between brothers, obviously. And its not necessarily competitive. Its just this free spirited thing. I think that we really did become a family on that show.

As brothers often have their share of roughhousing, the script sometimes required Jim and Dwight to tussle which often resulted in an injury for Krasinski.

RELATED: Why John Krasinski Had To Use His Jim-from-The-Office Power for This Film

Another thing that was funny about Rainn and my relationship was like a brother, one of the things that I got nervous about was play fighting with him because hes a very good actor, Krasinski explained. But I, for some reason, would always end up injured when we did any play fighting. So the producers picked up on this and said, you know, Rainn, really just be fake on this. You know, just try to preserve Johns health.

The Jim-and-Dwight rivalry remains one of the most beloved in television history.

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'The Office:' How the Jim-and-Dwight Rivalry Impacted the Actors' Offscreen Relationship - Showbiz Cheat Sheet

‘A stain on national life’: why are we locking up so many children? – The Guardian

Gethin Jones is a man of wisdom, insight and compassion. He has an insiders bitter understanding of life in care, youth justice, drug addiction and prison. In many ways, his story is one of all that is wrong with the criminal justice system when it turns its firepower on the young.

I spoke to Gethin late last year as I approached my 50th birthday. He and I are about the same age. In terms of our life journeys, that is where the similarities largely end. Now smartly dressed, balding, but looking every inch the successful professional that he is today, Gethins start in life could not have been more different.

His mother, a single parent to four children, had spent her childhood in care and had learning difficulties. With hindsight, Gethin understands that his mothers history and struggles made it impossible for her to relate to her children in an ideal and entirely nurturing way. Without a hint of blame, he observes that he simply did not have the sort of family relationships and support that a child needs to thrive. Gethin soon found himself ensnared in the criminal justice system.

His first conviction was at the age of 11, the result of what he describes as erratic behaviour. A predictable pattern ensued: a year later he was in the care system; by 13 he had been expelled from school; at 14 he was sent to youth custody for the first time, came out, went back in, and before he knew it his childhood was gone for ever. He had spent most of his teens behind the door. And then things really took a turn for the worse.

Gethin reached the age of 20 and had not once seen a child psychiatrist, psychologist or any other professional with the time and skills to find out what was going on and to help him find a different way to live. Having been told by everyone in authority, throughout his childhood and teenage years, that he was destined not only for failure but for prison and drug addiction, it was unsurprising that the predictions came true.

Gethin recalled one occasion when he was released from a young offender institution on a Friday, stole some cigarettes from the petrol station on the Saturday, was arrested and in a police station over the weekend, before being remanded back to custody by the magistrates court on the Monday morning. No matter the order made against him by the courts, Gethin would breach it and go back inside.

As soon as he graduated to adult prison, Gethin found heroin, having never taken it on the out. It became his driving force for the next decade, and he entirely gave up on any way of life beyond the drug, crime and prison. The most terrible irony of all is that his fierce intelligence was never extinguished. He knew exactly what he had become and why. Appearing before yet another court when he was 20, to receive yet another prison sentence, he told the judge: What you see before you is what you created.

The judge disagreed, dismissing all talk of rehabilitation, of giving Gethin a chance to pursue training and employment of some kind. You are a professional criminal, he pronounced. You will never be a bricklayer or a plumber. You will never be anything.

This was the verdict of the criminal justice system on Gethin Jones, a young man barely out of his teens. You can almost hear the cheers for the judges remarks from a certain brand of politician, from much of the media and, at election time, from plenty of voters.

Over the past 25 years, as a criminal defence lawyer, I have seen first-hand how criminal justice works, not just in Britain but around the world. And one of the most pointless and counteractive parts of the criminal justice system I have seen is the incarceration of children.

I am no apologist for violence and antisocial behaviour. My views on children in the criminal justice system, just as my views on the use of prison and the prohibition of drugs, do not arise from some sentimental, soft, liberal perspective. Quite the opposite I am interested only in the hard facts as to what does and does not work in reducing crime, improving lives and, first and foremost, preventing as many people as possible from becoming victims.

In 1970, a new era of getting tough on young offenders really began to gather momentum with the incoming Conservative government. The number of juveniles locked up each year increased by 500% between 1965 and 1980. Earlier faltering steps towards a welfare-based approach to youth justice had well and truly come to an end. Utterly contradictory policies towards young offenders prevailed in the 80s and 90s, veering between the exploration of non-custodial alternatives and increased sentence lengths, introduced by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994.

Despite a reduction in the number of young prisoners in recent years, some innovations, such as mandatory detention for young offenders for certain weapons offences, have once again seen the return of the get tough approach. At no time in recent history have the conditions inside young offender institutions been more oppressive and violent than they are in 2020. Considered by many to be even more dangerous than adult prisons, establishments such as Feltham YOI, west of London, closely replicate the feral violence of custodial institutions in the Victorian age.

As one inmate put it after his release: Literally every day I was there, youd see a fight. It just happened all the time, literally all the time. Another young man who was sent to Isis YOI in south-east London spoke of the sort of violence that erupted there: Someone got stabbed in the neck in the shower. It was very gruesome and horrifying for me to see all the blood spurting out and someone on the floor nearly dying.

For one teenager, Zahid Mubarek, Feltham was to mark the end of his young life altogether. Zahid was serving his first and only custodial sentence, for stealing some razor blades (value 6) and vehicle interference. Towards the end of his sentence, Zahid was allocated a new cellmate. Robert Stewart was a psychopathic and violent racist, and had already been involved in killing another inmate before he was placed with Zahid, who spent the last days of his life in constant fear.

The prison officer who made the decision to place Stewart with Zahid apparently knew nothing of the previous murder. Nobody noticed that, slowly but surely, Stewart was dismantling a table in his cell. He eventually managed to separate one of the table legs and, in the early hours of the very day that Zahid was due to be released, battered him to the edge of death in his sleep. Zahids uncle, who saw him lying in a hospital bed, clinging to life, realised that there was no hope. His injuries were so horrendous, I knew he would not be able to survive them, he later recalled.

An inquiry into Zahids death heard that some of the officers at Feltham had engaged in a practice known as gladiator or colosseum, in which black or ethnic minority inmates were deliberately placed with known racists. It was said that bets were then placed on how soon violence would erupt in the cell.

So much for civilised 21st-century Britain. This is the society we have created and, just as with prison policy across the board and our approach to drugs, we have got it completely wrong. Not only are young offender institutions places of misery, violence and death (there is a suicide in a British young offender institution almost every month, and self-harm is at epidemic levels), but they also have precisely the opposite effect to that which is claimed by their advocates. YOIs, and in fact youth custody centres and juvenile facilities all over the world, are one of the most effective methods ever invented to increase rates of reoffending and worsen levels of crime by young people.

One former inmate, Jason, spoke of his stays in seven different institutions between the ages of 14 and 17. At first it was a bit of a shock to the system not having your family around, and then I got used to it, he said. Jasons time inside was not put to waste. How to weigh up drugs and sell them, how to make a profit on them, car theft. Ive learned how to fight in jail. Youve got to fight quick it can only last a couple of seconds before you get stopped, so youve got to fight better. You go for hurting as soon as possible fighting, kicking, biting, together.

Young offender institutions are not only universities of crime, but a form of medieval survivalism, played out in gyms, corridors, dining halls and, for some of the most tragic victims of all like Zahid in bed, fast asleep.

Recidivism the tendency to reoffend is a word that is largely confined to criminology lectures, official statistics and the occasional government report. It is not a headline-grabber like hooligan, thug or teen gangster. Few politicians get excited about statistics, still less about those that tend to undermine the prevailing public mood around election time.

Perhaps readers with an above-average interest in criminal justice policy may have read the word recidivism with a guilty lack of enthusiasm. You could be forgiven for doing so, when politician after politician advocates a crackdown on antisocial behaviour, gang violence, knives and even feral youth. In response, many elements of the news media duly oblige with copious acclamatory reports of such policies. Voters respond with approval in large numbers at the ballot box, in Britain and elsewhere, and parliament duly obliges by passing harsh sanctions for children and young people, whichever party is in power.

In the US, mandatory custodial sentences have long been a feature of the sentencing of children, even in some cases leading to the imprisonment of those under 18 for the rest of their natural lives. In England, we have been steadily moving in the same direction, as politicians respond slavishly and without reason to each round of media coverage of a youth crimewave. Escalating incidents of knife violence in recent years, specifically those involving young people, have led to the introduction of a mandatory custodial sentence for a first offence of threatening someone with a knife or a second offence of possessing one. The use of evidence, or of any form of analysis of what actually works to reduce youth crime, always gives way in the end to populism.

In 2019, the home secretary, Priti Patel, took the tough on crime rhetoric to a new level in British politics when she said that she wanted people, including young offenders, to literally feel terror at the thought of what would happen to them if they committed a crime. She has advocated increased use of custodial sentences, aggressive police action against young people on the streets in the form of greater use of stop and search, and a zero-tolerance approach to cannabis possession. Patels supporters could be heard cheering on this war on crime.

Throughout all of these waves of media and political tub-thumping about youth crime, and subsequent policies on child sentencing, one thing above all shines through: recidivism. Just as with the imprisonment of adults, the criminalisation and incarceration of young people simply does not work. I have lost count of the times I have patiently and calmly used unambiguous evidence to that effect, only to be met with a shrug of the shoulders and an admonition to think of the victim, protect the public or impose punishment.

Criminalising children causes more crime and more victims and locking children up even more so. Prison and drug reform are important to me, but a sea change in our handling of troubled children, in society as a whole, and not just in the criminal justice system, is the most important issue of all.

Despite all the media coverage around antisocial behaviour, knife crime and young people, we have actually seen a sharp decline in the overall number of recorded crimes committed by children. As with all recent crime figures, there has been a huge distortion in Britain as a result of dramatic reductions in police numbers and in the funding of the criminal justice system, including the courts, prosecutors and defence lawyers.

One explanation for falling crime rates in certain categories is undoubtedly that there are fewer police officers to make arrests, fewer prosecutors to bring charges and fewer courts to sentence offenders. But, on any view, the figures show that reduced use of custody does not mean big increases in crime by children quite the opposite.

The Prison Reform Trusts annual Bromley Briefing sets out in stark terms the countless dangerous, unfair and irrational outcomes of the child justice system. Despite a dramatic fall in the overall number of young people under 18 in custody (70% since 2009), the number of crimes committed by that age group has fallen even more (75%). This hardly suggests a link between increasing the incarceration of the young and the reduction of youth crime. Young inmates are many times more likely to have been in the care system than other children, which surely calls out for attention to what happens in care as a top policy priority, rather than simply locking up even more care-leavers.

Tragically, in what amounts to a stain on Britains national life, the proportion of young ethnic minority people in custody has increased in the past decade, along with assaults, use of physical restraint and self-harm incidents. In fact, the total number of violent incidents is higher than when there were three times the number of young inmates as there are today. We are brutalising children on a daily basis, all in the name of getting tough on crime. The media, politicians and the public are mostly looking the other way. Hundreds of the most damaged and vulnerable young people in our society face the daily risk of violence, self-harm and death, and we are all allowing this to happen.

But surely putting children through this dystopian nightmare must teach them a lesson, whatever the sentence? Dragged through the courts, given a dressing down by the judge, treated like what they are criminals? Who would want to go through that twice? Or more? The answer is, of course, that nearly all of them end up back in the system not twice, but countless times, and those who receive the toughest sentences do so the most.

Official figures show the shocking truth about the criminalisation of our children. More than 40% of young people subjected to the criminal justice process reoffend within 12 months. Imagine if a manufacturer were building cars that crashed at a rate of 40% a year, due to a design flaw. There would be an uproar. Vehicles would be subjected to factory recalls, safety certificates would be withdrawn and the offending business would be shut down by public demand. But the average young offender crashes not just once, but reoffends a staggering four times, after being sentenced by the criminal courts. With that shameful rate of failure, the youth justice system should be demolished altogether and rebuilt from the ground up.

The plain truth is that the tougher we get on young people, the more crimes they commit, the more victims we create, and the greater the total of human misery for our society.

Heroin took hold of Gethin, and was both available and, by the time he became hooked, acceptable as a form of escape in the prison environment. He explained how this had come about, after a history of disapproval of smackheads among the general prison population, for whom smoking cannabis had long been a more tolerated form of drug use. In the mid-90s, they introduced mandatory drug testing, and that led to an explosion in heroin use in prison, he explained. It only stays in your system for a couple of days, whereas weed is there for weeks. Yet another perverse manifestation of the law of unintended consequences in the criminal justice system a generation of heroin addicts, created directly by a testing policy that had been given no real thought before it was introduced.

Years passed, and Gethin got out and went back in much of his third decade of life was also spent inside. He noticed a change over the years. It used to be 80% career criminals, and 20% addicts and the mentally ill, he told me, Now its the other way around.

In his late 20s, believing that his life would never be more than a bag of gear, a prison cell and a council estate, Gethin was a cornered animal and [his] soul was dying. Miraculously, after receiving yet another prison sentence, this time of four years, he met people who, for the first time in his life, treated [him] with respect and care. Caring staff on the inside were followed by engagement with services, official and voluntary, after he was released from that sentence. Six long years later, Gethin had completed what he describes as his whole rehabilitation journey.

He was well on his way to the age of 40 by this stage childhood, youth and young adulthood were mostly behind him. There is only one feature of Gethins life that sets him apart from the majority of other children arrested, criminalised, brutalised and institutionalised by our criminal justice system: he managed, eventually, to escape. He now runs a successful business, Unlocking Potential, which draws upon his own experiences to provide training, mentoring and commercial services, aimed at inspiring others and supporting projects to engage with offenders of all ages in ways that might actually make a difference.

Gethin is in no doubt that what he said to the judge all those years ago was the truth. The criminal justice system that judge represents which operates on behalf of us all is what created Gethin the child, Gethin the young offender, Gethin the addict, Gethin the adult criminal. It is the same system that created all the young men I met at young offender institutions.

Gethin believes that a legal and safe supply of drugs, access to counselling, addiction services and appropriate forms of therapy would have a huge impact on young people in the criminal justice system particularly those who have passed through the care system and experienced trauma in their lives.

He spoke of a 14-year-old child criminal, recently named and shamed in the press for antisocial behaviour. The boy had become feral at the age of five after his mother died. His father had cancer. The boy was highly aggressive and had, unsurprisingly, entered the criminal justice system. Where were we when he was five? Gethin asked, rhetorically.

The only thing that mattered to Gethin was safety both for the child, and for the rest of us. He had no doubt that it was possible to offer security for the damaged children crossing the radar of the police, and that those leaving care in particular needed to receive huge financial investment, just to provide the basis of a stable adult life. The shameful truth is that we spend almost nothing on the sorts of services needed to support young people through the most troubled of times to pick them up when they fall, and to provide them with the basic ingredients to enter adulthood as fully functioning members of the community, rather than as pariahs, blighted for life by the label criminal.

We nevertheless pay hundreds of thousands of pounds to process many of these children through the criminal justice system, and to warehouse them for years and even more if they end up graduating to adult prisons, as most of them do. Indeed, we happily condemn damaged children at enormous expense to hellholes like Feltham, where they are more likely to be assaulted or killed than to find an escape from the revolving doors of courts, prisons and addiction.

This is an edited extract from Justice on Trial: Radical Solutions for a System at Breaking Point by Chris Daw, published by Bloomsbury and available at guardianbookshop.co.uk

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'A stain on national life': why are we locking up so many children? - The Guardian

What Does Al-Qaeda Tell Us About The Base? – The Defense Post

Homegrown terrorismhas been a security concern in the United States for many years, focusing primarily on affiliates of al-Qaeda andISIS. Threats from these groups continue, and the prospects of an attack are worrisome.

However, equally troubling is the rapid growth and vocal intensity of white, racially motivatedviolent extremist groupsthat prioritize and engage in domestic terrorism.

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that the number of white nationalist groups in the US has increased 55 percent for the last three years and that white nationalism poses a serious threat to national security and pluralistic democracy.

The Anti-Defamation League reported that the white supremacists have committed 78 percent of right-wing extremist-related murders over the last 10 years and that the right-wing extremists were responsible for 90 percent of domestic extremist-related murders. White supremacists, in particular, were responsible for 81 percent of extremist killings in 2019 alone.

Among these groups is The Base, a fairly new organization that warrants scrutiny. Perhaps by coincidence or by clever calculation, the groups name is the English translation of the Arabic word al-Qaeda, which also is the name of a Salafi jihadist terrorist organization.

Terrorist organizations, regardless of their ideology or goals, share the same apartment. Their ideologies represent different floors in the same building. While they seem to follow different pathways, their methods, tactics, and strategies for communicating with their target audiences are almost identical to those of their so-called adversaries.

In the United States, The Base exists to target Jews, Muslims, and anyone the group views as the other, including Westerners who indulgeimmigrants, Muslims, and Jews. Similarly, al-Qaedas archenemies are Jews, Westerners, infidels or nonbelievers, and Muslims who embrace Western values.If one compares the narratives, the main themes and justification for violence espoused in Norwegian white supremacist Anders Behring Breiviks 1,500-page manifesto2083: A European Declaration of Independencepublished in 2011 andOsama bin Ladens 1996Declaration of War, one might think that the same person could have written both pieces.

Bin Ladens narrativeabout the Muslim world being invaded by the Jewish-Christian alliance and their collaborators echoes Breiviks call for the execution of traitors, a war against non-whites and the deportation of all Muslims from Europe.

At first glance, al-Qaedas Salafi jihadist ideology and Breiviks white-supremacist ideology may seem opposite to each other, but they are actually twins. Both harbor a violent extremist ideology.

Similar parallels can be drawn between the English The Base and the Arabic The Base al-Qaeda.

The Base, awhite supremacist neo-Nazi group, was formed in 2018 by an American,Rinaldo Nazzaro, who uses the pseudonymsNorman Spear and Roman Wolf. He allegedly lives in Russia, where hecovertly leadsThe Base as itplots and carries outcriminal acts. Just like its namesake al-Qaeda, The Base is in a quest for a race war that pits a supreme white race against the others.

A second parallel is the process of radicalization. Both groups rely on indoctrination, the dehumanization of the other, and the legitimation of violence. A sense of being under constant attack and overwhelmed by the other-enemy motivates these groups to engage in extremelyviolent attacks on perceived enemies.

A third similarity is an autonomous or loosely connected hierarchical structure marked by leaderless resistance, self-motivated attacks, self-radicalization, a self-trained lone-wolf style of attacks, and the effective use of social media and encrypted messaging.

The final resemblance is the pursuit of anapocalyptic ideology. Both Salafi jihadists and white supremacists believe in a savior of their own version and that they are destined to prepare the groundwork for their savior. Both al-Qaeda and The Base also call for a change in the existing order and are motivated to engage inindiscriminate killingto achieve their desired change.

Members of The Base, therefore, embrace survivalism and accelerationism. Whilesurvivalismrefers to being prepared for apocalyptic destruction of society and catastrophe, accelerationism requires a desire for violence of any kind that can accelerate societys collapse and create chaos. Accordingly, members of The Base stockpile resources, including weapons and ammunition, and engage in acts of violence and terror believed to be essential for achieving the groups goals.

Looking at the number of terrorist activities and attacks,The Baseis a relatively insignificant group in terms of its capacity to engage in major terrorist attacks. However, its loosely connected and autonomous structure enables the group to engage in activities ranging from vandalism to self-initiated lone-wolf attacks and possibly the orchestration of massive ISIS-like attacks, such as those in Paris in 2015.

These groups are small, which makes them difficult to detect. Members of such groups can be in multiple locations while they plan attacks as lone actors. In late September 2019, for example, a member of The Base in New Jersey recruited two individuals and persuaded them tovandalize two synagoguesin two different states on two consecutive days.

Judging the threat from The Base and other racially motivated violent extremist groups as a lesser evil than al-Qaeda or ISIS would be a catastrophic mistake. Adherence to the concept of leaderless resistance helps these groups to avoid detection and early intervention by the intelligence agents and law enforcement officers.

Given the surge in The Bases recruitment activities and participation in terrorist attacks in the United States, white racially motivated violent extremist groups should be taken very seriously. These groups may be even more of a threat than some Salafi jihadist groups as most of these groups are based and operate in the US.

It is essential to be alert and ready, both tactically and strategically, to thwart the growing number and malicious efforts of white racially motivated violent extremist groups as earnestly as we do when it comes to Salafi jihadi groups.

Zakir Gul, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in Criminal Justice at State University of New York in Plattsburgh. His research and teaching focus on terrorism, cyberterrorism, homeland security, intelligence, and policing.

Suleyman Ozeren, Ph.D., is adjunct faculty and a research scholar at George Mason University. His research and teaching focus include terrorism and counterterrorism, countering violent extremism (CVE), conflict resolution, and the Kurdish issue.

Ismail Dincer Gunes, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Homeland Security & Criminal Justice at Sul Ross State University. His research and teaching focus on security studies including terrorism, homeland security, and policing.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Defense Post.

The Defense Post aims to publish a wide range of high-quality opinion and analysis from a diverse array of people do you want to send us yours?Click hereto submit an op-ed.

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What Does Al-Qaeda Tell Us About The Base? - The Defense Post

The influencers of pandemic gardening – Engadget

Espiritu is behind Epic Gardening, the hugely popular, multiplatform gardening social media presence. At age 32, the San Diego-based gardener has laid down roots in YouTube (660,000 subscribers), Instagram (221,000), TikTok (523,000), even Pinterest, and his follower count easily crests 2 million across them. Thanks to a mix of advertising revenue and brand deals -- Espiritu is the official American purveyor for Australian raised-vegetable-bed brand Birdies, for example -- Epic Gardening is his full-time job.

A cornerstone of Espiritus appeal is that hes self-taught. He first began gardening in 2011, after graduating with a business degree: He had been paying his bills through playing online poker and planted his first seeds as a hobby. By 2016, he left his role as a founding member of publishing startup Scribe Media to pursue Epic Gardening full time. His style is easygoing, knowledgeable and approachable. His recent series tackles beginner mistakes like Starting Your Garden in The Wrong Place and Planting at the Wrong Time. Hes made most of these mistakes himself.

It started when I noticed there wasnt really gardening information that speaks to an average human being, Espiritu said. Theres all of this jargon -- like deadheading your roses [pruning a dead bloom to encourage new growth] -- and we don't know what that means when we're just starting out. We need someone to speak to us in plain English, on a platform that we actually consume, not the county extension office website or a Master Gardener website. (The Master Gardener program is a national system for basic horticulture training.)

He added, Those are great sources of information, if you're already in the game -- but these people aren't in the game.

These months of sheltering in place have been boom times for urban-gardening influencers. Amateurs have flocked to the hobby, and Espiritus following has grown astronomically. It's like 150,000 in a month, Espiritu told me, of his YouTube following, and it took me five years to get my first 100,000. Hes had to post a disclaimer on his Instagram Stories, explaining hes getting too many questions, in comments and DMs, to adequately answer all of them. His blog, started in 2013, has crested 1 million views per month. When we first spoke over the phone, in late March, he was packing hundreds of signed copies of his urban-gardening book. As of mid-June, Espiritu had bought a new home, with the intention of turning it into an Instagram-worthy homestead.

This all goes back to the pandemic. While most of the panic buying is around survivalism -- toilet paper, frozen foods, canned beans -- seeds have also been selling wildly, The New York Times has reported. Though the food supply chain is stable, its difficult not to feel the nippings of anxiety when grocery shopping. In this kind of environment, the idea of producing ones own food can offer an enviable illusion of control.

The idea of farming as a respite from the hamster wheel of late-stage capitalism is hardly new. Toiling with the land can sound like liberation for a generation consigned to a nine-to-five until death -- even as that idealized version of farming is far from the truth. The fantasy plays out in games like Stardew Valley (which has sold more than 10 million copies), where you leave your big-city job to work on your grandfathers land. Ideas of agrarian self-sufficiency also litter the American imagination historically, with victory gardens -- personal gardens meant to divert stress from the agricultural system -- emerging during World War I and II.

Ive also noticed this trend anecdotally. Friends who had been disinterested in gardening have begun growing basil, mint, rosemary. During an early March trip to Target in Los Angeles, I noticed the seed display had been moved by the checkout, suggesting you might casually consider growing an entire plant the same way youd buy a last-minute pack of gum. When I returned to that Target in April, the edible side of the display had been ransacked of everything but a few potato-seed packets. The ornamental section, plied with images of beautiful flowers, was fairly untouched.

There is a bump in sales for all garden centers, seed companies and growing-related products, Brijette Romstedt, owner of San Diego Seed Company, wrote to me, due to the insecurity people are feeling due to the pandemic. There is much to be insecure about: Were relying on fashion houses and perfumers to produce PPE and hand sanitizer.

Social media presences like Epic Gardening have become vital entry points for first-timers -- many of whom are quarantined in an apartment or a parents home, have limited space to grow and have never done it before. Yet gardening influencers also present a specific irony: Tending to soil requires deep patience while social media is a factory of instant, aggressive gratification.

I just did a video about the things you can grow in under a month, though there's not that many, Espiritu said. And the questions have become a lot more basic. People are like, Why didn't my lettuce grow, why is it looking bad. I tell them, That's because it's only been alive for two weeks.

Newer urban-gardening accounts have rapidly gained followers, using the pandemic as a vehicle for growth. YouTube videos of low-effort tutorials, like regrowing green onions by sticking them in a glass of water, have gained serious traction, though some of them arent useful. Yes, you can regrow like twentysomething different types of common vegetables, Espiritu explained. But what you get is unexpected. If you're regrowing your carrot tops you don't get carrots -- you get greens, which no one's going to eat.

Growing something you can eat is more complex than admiring how quickly your green onions regenerate, especially if youre starting with a seed. Considerations include hardiness zone (climate regions where certain plants thrive), container type, pest control, to name a few. But its easier to get hooked on the beautiful gardening inspo of Instagram and other platforms, where the time between planting and harvesting appears to be just a few seconds.

Its not a fast field, Espiritu said. He had recently released a TikTok video of his five-level vertical garden of green beans and strawberries, brimming with leaves. Thats 45 days of growing.

Instagram is designed to monetize the time you spend on it, regardless of accuracy. Its easy to smash that follow and fall down a wormhole of unrealistically beautiful people, places or potatoes. My explore tab feeds me triptychs of dewy plants and dewier faces, and Im debased enough to admit it doesnt not work for me.

Nick Cutsumpas -- who competed in Netflixs The Big Flower Fight -- runs farmernicknyc, a Brooklyn-based houseplant consultant account. He says hes more invested in sustainability and agriculture but found those passions less grammable. Youve seen the people on Instagram who have these amazing homesteads, right? he explained. It only looks that way for maybe two or three months. If I took a picture of my garden in December it would get three likes, because there's nothing there.

The popularity of urban gardening during the pandemic has allowed Cutsumpas to post more agricultural content, like germinating seeds in his bedroom. (Hes also taking courses at the New York Botanical Gardens and has partnered with Greensulate, a green roof company, to convert the rooftop of a Staten Island building into a garden.)

But the majority of his content still plays to what attracts eyeballs. I hate the term influencer, Cutsumpas explained, invoking images of bikini-clad women in far-flung locales. Its a bit hypocritical when Cutsumpas also flaunts his abs in front of a plant for World Naked Gardening Day. If this is what it takes for someone to be inspired to buy more plants, eat more plants, follow my account and pick up sustainability tips, then I am 100 percent OK with that, Cutstampas said. But I get it: Instagram favors the thotty.

Contrast this with the Master Gardener program -- also known as Extension Master Gardener, or EMG. This national program was created in Washington State in 1972 to address the public lack of knowledge about gardening. The program is often tied to universities: The EMG website has every state universitys program listed. Though course load varies by state, becoming certified might require a semester of studies and some 40 hours of volunteering, along with an open-book final. The program isnt meant to confer academic mastery. Instead it gives laypeople a ground floor of horticultural knowledge and a scientific approach thats way more effective than Googling alone.

People bring in a plant sample or email a photo to the extension office Master Gardener desk, said Signe Danler, instructor of the EMG program at Oregon State University (OSU). The Master Gardeners on duty that day might say, You've got aphids, if its obvious. If it's more complicated, there's a library and lots of online resources. If necessary, they can bump it up to the university level and have a pathology test done. Under normal circumstances, Master Gardeners also run demonstration gardens and tables at farmers markets to field questions.

I was interested in gardening from a very young age, said Danler. I gardened when I was in my teens, and I started gardening in planter boxes as soon as we bought our first house, my husband and I, back in 1981. Though Danler took community college courses in horticulture in the late 80s, she waited until her youngest child was in high school before pursuing a bachelors at OSU. Thanks to encouragement from an advisor and a scholarship, Danler went on to complete her masters; OSU hired her soon after.

Over the phone, Danler cracked jokes that make starting out as a gardener feel more approachable. I emphasize with my students, expect to kill plants, Danler said. Obviously, you don't wanna kill your vegetables every year, or you don't get anything to eat. But when you've been doing it as long as I have -- Ive killed hundreds of plants. That's just part of the learning process.

Like farming influencers on Instagram, OSU has seen a recent spike in urban-gardening interest, especially after making its courses free to the public. Its urban-vegetable-gardening module had 34,000 students in mid-April -- compared to the usual size of a dozen students. Danler said that there were so many signups in the first weekend the system crashed.

Danler is suspicious of urban-gardening influencers -- or more precisely, suspicious of solutions that are peddled without scientific rigor. There are definitely people presenting themselves as authorities and handing out information thats plain wrong, Danler explained. For example, people may think, If I make a home remedy, itll be safer than something I buy at the store. But you can harm plants, you can do permanent damage to your soil, you can harm other animals.

Danler has been working hard to diversify her student base, put more of OSUs courses online and make the program more accessible. When she teaches the home horticulture certificate course, which has the same training, the same classes but doesnt require volunteer hours, she gets far more students, from more-diverse backgrounds.

Unfortunately, EMG requirements can weed out folks who might otherwise be interested. A 2016 demographic study found that Master Gardener volunteers were primarily white women educated, retired, and of economic means. Their mean age was just under 65 years old.

I took a store-bought potato -- and I knew nothing about farming potatoes -- and I just stuck it in the dirt. Fanny Liao, the gardener behind Instagram account fansinthegarden, said. It was winter time, and I didn't know that it was going to be slow-growing because there's no sun. It took about six months for that plant to grow. I thought, It's pretty, I'm going to get a pound or two of potatoes, it will be awesome. I dug it up, and I got one. It was smaller than my fist.

Liao, who is based in Los Angeles County, began gardening for the first time in December 2017 and started her account in order to photo-journal for [her] mental health. Liao knew nothing about gardening when she started, and this entry-level focus helped her reach over 11,000 followers as of July, despite having less than 5,000 followers at the start of the pandemic. She intends to keep her platform open to beginners, and with a smaller following shes less likely to get bogged down with questions.

Liao has no intentions of changing her strategy to attract more followers -- though it helps that her account already adheres to the Instagram aesthetic. Despite her story of the solitary potato, her feed boasts vibrant harvests, like a handful of radishes in an ombre from white to fuschia or carrots that look like theyre hugging. I take images that are appealing, because it shows people yes, you could grow this, Liao said. When people see it, they're like, What variety is this or How long does it take from seed to harvest?

Rather than seek formal educational programs -- or online extension courses -- Liao has relied on advice from other gardeners on social media, and a healthy dose of trial and error. She credits much of her learning to Epic Gardening, and to CaliKims YouTube and Instagram. Gardening is a never-ending learning process, Liao said. I'm not an expert in this field, so I'm going to leave it for the experts to answer the technical questions like Kevin [Espiritu] does. If you're asking me what's the ratio of soil that I need to put into the amendment? That's not something that I know.

Her success is just one example of the way Instagram has democratized access, diversifying the pool of urban-gardening educators. This pool includes Espiritu, who is half Filipino and half white, and someone like Timothy Hammond, a Black urban gardener based in Houston, Texas, who runs bigcitygardener on Instagram. He started bigcitygardener in April 2017 to try and make gardening accessible and related to everyone. Liao has become well-known enough that she inspired another Asian American woman -- Northern California-based friend Alex Hisaka, who runs forestlandfarmer -- to start her own gardening Instagram account.

I felt comfortable asking Liao novice questions like what grows fastest (lettuce and radish) and whether I can expect to grow enough basil to make pesto (Ill need to prune aggressively for basil to be bushy enough), questions asked in earnest at the end of the interview, after wed shaken off our formalities. I wanted to hear from the woman who spent six months nurturing a single potato -- so embarrassingly off target from her ambitions, comparable to the three months I spent doting over 10 basil seeds, whose yield provided me with a sprinkle of garnish for a grocery store frozen pizza rather than the pesto of my dreams.

Danler plays in a different league from the influencers -- one that takes in mind the health of the soil over time and its larger environmental impact, one a beginner might eventually aspire to.

It can be hard for experienced folks like myself to remember just how much there is to know, Danler said after I shared Espiritus videos with her. All of his information is correct. I like his low-key, straightforward style. He's addressing that level of basic knowledge, and doing it well.

Despite this gulf, when I asked her for advice for first-time gardeners, she echoed the same sentiments as every influencer I spoke to: Don't get too bogged down. Gardening should be first and foremost something that you enjoy. It should feed your soul.

This is easy to forget, thanks to the gig economy, which has recast hobbies as side hustles, narrowing their value into what can be monetized or used to build a social media audience.

But posting my own plants to Instagram has only ever offered me a cheap, momentary thrill. It is the slower, unanticipated joys of growing that have actually been nourishing: watching an orchid send out roots, seeking footholds and future lives in the humidity of the air; watching a Pilea peperomioides sprout new limbs, living up to its nickname, friendship plant, when I gift these cuttings to others. Eating my basil was a separate, individual delight from actually growing it. I checked its progress every morning like a parent marking their childs height on the door frame.

Regardless of qualification or skill, my favorite instructors have been the ones who remind me of the joys of growing for the sake of growing. TikToker Garden Marcus captures this ethos best. Watching one of his most popular videos about propagating pineapple is like taking a shot of sunlight.

The steps are simple: Cut the top off, put it in water until it sprouts roots, plant it in soil and water it. Marcus reflects on the pineapples hes rooted over the years -- this method of propagating doesnt produce new pineapples, instead the top grows more leaves -- and zooms in on a lizard that lives in one of the older bushes. He likes to feed the plant the water it was rooted in, a move with no particular utility, just a warm human impulse. And yes, he also regrows the tops of his carrots.

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The influencers of pandemic gardening - Engadget

Inside the luxury nuclear bunker protecting the mega-rich from the apocalypse – CNET

For most of my adult life, I've had an apocalypse plan.

It's been straightforward. Grab my go bag, drive out to a shack in the woods, then hunker down under the floorboards eating canned food through the valve in my gas mask, waiting for the nukes to drop.

But after visiting my first real nuclear bunker, my apocalypse plan has been upgraded. Now my list of needs includes "underground swimming pool" and "postapocalyptic rock-climbing wall." I've become fussy about how I'll spend time during the planet's dying breaths. My bug-out bag has gotten bougie. I've seen the world's most high-tech bunker, and I want in.

Welcome to the Survival Condo. This former Atlas Missile silo turned luxury condominium complex offers the world's rich and powerful a chance to buy into the ultimate life insurance: an apocalypse bunker that promises the perfect combination of shelter and style.

The Survival Condo has a lot of the hallmarks of your standard fallout shelter. It's underground (200 feet underground, in the middle of rural Kansas, 200 miles from Kansas City). It was built during the Cold War (as a nuclear missile launch facility). It's also been retrofitted with nine-foot-thick reinforced concrete walls designed to survive everything from tornadoes to 12-kiloton nuclear warheads dropping half a mile away.

This story is part of Hacking the Apocalypse, CNET's documentary series on the tech saving us from the end of the world.

But if the proverbial hits the fan and you need a place to go, don't plan on coming here. Even if you could find it (the location is secret), the bunker is guarded 24 hours a day. Besides, that's not even your main problem. Your biggest barrier to getting in? This kind of security comes at a price.

The starting cost for a unit in this complex is $1 million, plus an extra $2,500 per month in dues to cover your living expenses: electricity, water, internet, all the tinned eggs you could dream of.

For the ultra-rich and paranoid, though, you can't put a price on safety. When nuclear war is on our doorstep, do you think the world's rich and powerful will be quaking in the streets? Hell no. They're going underground. And I'm determined to join them.

Hacking the Apocalypseis CNET's new documentary series digging into the science and technology that could save us from the end of the world. You can check out our episodes onPandemic,Nuclear Winter,Global Drought,Tsunamis,CryonicsandEscaping the Planetand see the full series onYouTube.

Nuclear winter isn't like spending Christmas upstate. It's a global nightmare realm, where Ice Age-like temperatures last for years, populations perish and life as we know it becomes the stuff of sci-fi nightmares.

At least that's according to Brian Toon, professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University of Colorado and world-renowned expert on the global effects of nuclear war.

I met with Toon in his offices in Boulder, Colorado, to learn about exactly what happens when a 100-kiloton nuclear weapon falls.

After a nuclear blast, smoke gets pushed into the stratosphere where it can block out sunlight for years.

"If you get within a mile or so, the pressure wave is so intense it will blow down concrete buildings," says Toon. "And somewhere in that zone, there's a blast of radiation ... and basically half of the people exposed to that would die over a week or two from radiation burns on their skin and radiation poisoning."

Toon says a nuclear explosion is like "bringing a piece of the sun down to the Earth," and the aftermath of that kind of explosion causes huge fires -- think citywide infernos. Those fires push huge amounts of smoke up into the stratosphere. And because it never rains in the stratosphere, sunlight can't reach Earth. Welcome to nuclear winter.

The pressure wave is so intense it will blow down concrete buildings.

Professor Brian Toon

"The temperatures become colder than the last Ice Age," says Toon. "So we have sub-Ice Age temperatures over the whole planet for about 10 years."

That's exactly why the Survival Condo exists -- to protect the mega-rich from the devastation of global nuclear war, and to make sure the world's most powerful people can survive in comfort, rather than shivering in the wasteland, waiting to have their billionaire brains eaten by hungry hordes.

The Survival Condo sits behind a barbed-wire fence that's guarded 24/7.

It took three hours to get to the Survival Condo from the Kansas City airport, though your mileage may vary (citywide evacuations and blown-out bridges will add travel time). But after passing broad fields and bright red barns, I've found what I came for: The best the world has to offer in high-tech apocalypse prepping.

From the outside it doesn't look like much. A guard behind a barbed-wire fence. A wind turbine quietly turning in the breeze. Carefully placed surveillance cameras. And two eight-ton doors set into the nondescript hill in front of us. But this isn't some foxhole in the middle of nowhere. Inside is one of the most luxurious and unusual apartment complexes you're likely to find.

After I'm ushered through the perimeter fence, the massive doors in the hill open and I'm greeted by Larry Hall, the owner of the Survival Condo. He's a burly man with a firm handshake, and he's the picture of Kansas hospitality -- he invites me into the bunker like a neighbor having me over for Sunday afternoon beers.

The Survival Condo descends 15 floors and 200 feet underground.

But as we step inside, I realize this is no ordinary house tour. Despite the glaring sun outside, the air inside is cool and still. My footsteps echo on cold concrete. And as the eight-ton doors slam behind me with a resounding bang, it occurs to me I'm essentially trapped. There's no way I'd be able to get out of here on my own.

I'm at the very top of a bunker that descends 15 floors and 200 feet underground. On this upper level, a wide dome set into the hill houses the main entry and communal recreation facilities. That's where you'll find the pet park, climbing wall and swimming pool (complete with a water slide).

Beneath the dome, the cylindrical silo houses a further 14 floors -- the top three floors are where you'll find the mechanical rooms, medical facilities and a food store (complete with a full hydroponics and aquaculture setup), followed beneath by seven levels of residential condos. At the bottom, the final four floors house the classroom and library, a cinema and bar, and a workout room (with a sauna).

As we make our way through the main entry chamber (which acts as a protected car park if residents need to unpack their all-terrain vehicle during lockdown), Hall talks me through the layout, rattling off a baffling array of features like ballistic walls and bulletproof doors. We kick things off in the "entrapment area."

"If there's rioting or food shortages, that's a normal thing," Hall says, referring to the kind of run-of-the-mill emergencies you might find in the apocalypse.

"But what if there's radiation because of a dirty bomb? You would have to go in this room, which is a decontamination scrub room. The chemicals in here can take care of everything. We have iodine pills to treat you for radiation, we have Geiger counters that detect radiation, and we have special chemicals to scrub both biological and radioactive contaminants from you. But you would lose your clothes. You'd be naked and afraid."

As we wind our way through the Survival Condo, it's like I'm in an episode of Cribz, set in a dark, alternate reality. This is where we keep the camo gear! This is the gun range! Here's how we scrub the volcanic ash out of the air in the event of a supervolcano!

I don't even own a gun, let alone many guns that would necessitate an entire room. The Survival Condo on the other hand...

A short elevator ride down to the cinema level, and we stop to scroll through the 2,000 films on the Survival Condo's internal database (we settle on Armageddon). I head to the gym and try out the exercise bike and sauna room. We pop into the school room and walk past a row of sleek iMacs, still in their plastic wrapping, awaiting the classroom of students that may never come.

The computers here are also equipped with internet... sort of. Everyone who has bought a unit in the Survival Condo has also provided a list of their interests: woodworking, knitting, post-apocalyptic survivalism. Hall and his team feed those keywords into software that crawls the internet, downloading and caching information and websites for each resident.

"So in the event that we had a catastrophe where the internet went down, we would have downloaded a lot of medical information and survival and hobby information for our residents so that they could still use their search engine," Hall says.

After touring the shared facilities, we get a look inside the condos themselves. These aren't the tiny panic rooms I'd been expecting -- they feel like units in a new apartment complex in San Francisco or Manhattan. The kitchens are full of stainless steel appliances, a Sub-Zero fridge here, a Wolf cooktop there. There are brand-new couches, untouched coffee tables and beds that are, frankly, way more comfortable than my bed back home.

The underground units inside the Survival Condo feature TVs instead of windows, showing a view of the outside world.

In the bathroom, an automated bidet awaits. While it's not my first preference in post-ablution freshness (I tried once, there was a lot of shrieking), Larry Hall tells us the complex was designed with long stays in mind -- up to five years. The amount of toilet paper required for the maximum occupancy of 75 people over five years would fill an entire floor of the condo. Turns out everybody poops, but in the apocalypse, you're going to have to do it without TP.

Toilets aside, I could see myself living here. It doesn't feel cramped, and that's probably because of the view. In a decorating touch straight out of Back to the Future II, TV panels built into the walls of each condo act as high-tech "windows" to show residents the real world.

As a bonus, if the world is really ending, these windows display a real-time view of the carnage outside, thanks to the Survival Condo's external surveillance cameras. Everyone come to the kitchen! The surface-dwellers are hunting in packs now!

Down the road from the Survival Condo, Hall has secured a second missile silo he plans to convert into an even bigger bunker. Right now this space isn't much more than a concrete shell, but it gives me a sense of the scale of the kitted-out bunker I've just visited. The deep silo has been divided up with new concrete floors, but an elevator shaft cut down the middle gives me a giddying view of just how deep this place goes.

This missile silo, which will be converted into a second Survival Condo, still has the original blast doors built during the Cold War.

Down a side passage, separated from the main silo by massive blast doors, we find the original living quarters for the military personnel who staffed this facility during the 1960s, living and working in cramped rooms for two weeks at a time. The place looks like a scene from the game Half-Life: peeling paint, rusted metal, old bathroom stalls that definitely look haunted.

The original Atlas Missile Silos were built to house America's nuclear missiles during the Cold War.

This place is a Cold War relic now, but Hall plans to spend the next two years retrofitting it to create another luxury bunker. Given that it's three times the size of the original Survival Condo, he's expecting a price tag of $50 million to $60 million on the build, but he already has a waiting list of people interested in buying the new units. Clearly, business is booming.

Getting a bolt-hole in one of these bunkers doesn't come cheap, however. The smallest half-floor unit in the original Survival Condo sells for $1 million, while the large, full-floor units go for up to $3 million.

Despite that high cost, Hall says his clients are willing to spend the money.

"All of our people are self-made millionaires," Hall tells me. "They're very successful: doctors, engineers, lawyers, international business people... almost all of them have children. And they're concerned about the 'what if' scenario."

Hall rattles off a list of potential "what ifs": Superstorm Sandy, tsunamis, Pacific earthquakes, hurricanes in Texas, global climate change, food shortages, economic collapse, meteorite impact, solar flares...

"If those are the kind of things that bother you, this is the kind of facility it takes to not worry," he says.

All of our people are self-made millionaires... and they're concerned about the 'what if' scenario.

Larry Hall

Those are the kinds of things that bother me, Larry. But frankly, I'm learning that I can't really afford to be worried. I don't have the money to buy a pied--terre in Kansas, just in case.

I don't own a bulletproof, extended-range vehicle to get me there, and you'd better believe I don't have a private jet waiting in the garage.

I realize with a kind of cold, inevitable terror that I've been blessed with nuclear fears and a tin-foil-hat budget.

I guess there's a grim irony in the idea that even when the nukes drop and the very fabric of society has disintegrated beyond recognition, the rich and powerful will still have it better off than the rest of us.

We'll still be a society of haves and have-nots. Except in this case, the haves will be watching Armageddon from the comfort of their air-conditioned, underground cinema. And the have-nots will be out in the wilderness, freezing through nuclear winter and picking over the bones of our loved ones, trying to survive the real thing.

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Inside the luxury nuclear bunker protecting the mega-rich from the apocalypse - CNET

The 12 Best Zombie Movies of All Time – Men’s Health

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Zombie movies have been an important part of the horror field for a very long time, but the sub-genre has expanded to include picks that are comedic, action-heavy, and even romantic.

But if you're wondering just why people find zombie movies so fascinating, Stanford literary scholar Angela Becerra Vidergar once explained that, "We use fictional narratives not only to emotionally cope with the possibility of impending doom, but even more importantly perhaps to work through the ethical and philosophical frameworks that were in many ways left shattered in the wake of WWII [when the genre became popular]...In a way, survivalism has become a dominant mode of self-reference for a greater number of people. You see that in the obsession in apocalypse and disaster in the fictional stories we tell."

And while the current coronavirus pandemic has led many people to reach for happier, lighter movies to watch, there's also a good reason why you're reaching for your favorite post-apocalyptic flick: "There is this glimmer of hope that I am really interested in," Vidergar explains. "Even if as a society we have lost a lot of our belief in a positive future and instead have more of an idea of a disaster to come, we still think that we are survivors, we still want to believe that we would survive."

So if you're looking for a new zombie flick to watch, we have some picks for youhere are the 12 best zombie movies of all time.

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1Train to Busan

This South Korean film takes place on a train to Busan as a zombie apocalypse suddenly breaks out both in the country on the train, and the passengers have to figure out how to stay alive while also trying to find a safe station to stop the train. The movie's sequel, Peninsula, will be released this year.

Stream it here

2World War Z

World War Z's power is in its realism, and the zombie outbreak is portrayed in locales worldwide from Newark, New Jersey to Cardiff, Wales. However, Brad Pitt is there to save the day as United Nations investigator Gerry Lane.

Stream it here

3Zombieland

Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin star in this comedic zombie tale about a group of survivors that try to find a sanctuary free from the zombies ravaging the nation. Expect funny gags, lots of zombie killings, and a cameo from a beloved actorand if you need even more zombie in your life, check out the sequel Zombieland: Double Tap.

Stream it here

4Little Monsters

What do you get when you mix together Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong'o, a bunch of kindergarteners, and a sudden outbreak of zombies? Movie magic!

Stream it here

5Dawn of the Dead

The classic 1978 film is the second entry in George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead series, and it follows a group of survivors as they barricade themselves inside a suburban shopping mall amidst a zombie outbreak. Unfortunately, the 70's version isn't available for streaming online but you can also check out the 2004 remake.

Stream it here

628 Days Later

This film was ranked on the top 100 list of the best British films ever, and it follows a group of four survivors as they struggle to cope with their new reality after a zombie outbreak starts when a group of animal activists release a chimpanzee infected a contagious rabies-like virus. It was later followed by a sequel titled 28 Weeks Later.

Stream it here

7Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies will truly make you believe that you can find love anywhereeven in the middle of a post-apocalyptic zombie-infested world.

Stream it here

8Shaun of the Dead

This film is definitely for viewers that like some laughs with their zombie flicks, and Shaun of the Dead includes references to Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and 28 Days Later.

Stream it here

9The Cabin in the Woods

This movies follows a group of college kids (including Chris Hemsworth and Jesse Williams) as they spend a weekend in a remote forest cabin. What they don't know is that engineers are remotely controlling the cabin from a secret lab, and they soon fall victim to the zombies surrounding the property.

10Resident Evil

Based on the video game franchise of the same name, Resident Evil films follow former security specialist and covert operative Alice (Milla Jovovich) as she fights against the Umbrella Corporation, whose powerful bioweapons have triggered a zombie apocalypse. Fun factThe Resident Evil film series has grossed over $1 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film series based on a video game.

Stream it here

11The Dead Don't Die

Hold on, we need this movie's extremely stacked cast first: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Chlo Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, Rosie Perez, Iggy Pop, Sara Driver, RZA, Selena Gomez, Austin Butler, Tom Waits, and Carol Kane. Whew. The Dead Don't Die follows a small town's police force as they combat a sudden zombie invasion.

Stream it here

12I Am Legend

While some say I Am Legend isn't a zombie film, there are plenty of fans of this Will Smith-helmed flick that believe its part of the genre. Based on Richard Matheson's 1954 novel I Am Legend, Smith plays a US Army virologist that's the last human in NYC after a virus which was originally created to cure cancer wipes out most of mankind.

Stream it here

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The 12 Best Zombie Movies of All Time - Men's Health

Armed Man Who Allegedly Stormed Trudeau’s Residence Appears to Have Posted QAnon Content – VICE

Photos via Grindhouse Fine Foods Instagram and THE CANADIAN PRESS/ADRIAN WYLD

Update: This post has been updated to include the charges against Corey Hurren and comment from Marc-Andr Argentino.

Less than an hour before Corey Hurren allegedly drove his pickup truck through the gates of Rideau Hall, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lives, a social media account for his business posted a meme that blames the global elite for COVID-19.

At 6:05 AM, the Instagram account for Grindhouse Fine Foods, the company Hurren operates, posted a meme relating to Event 201a pandemic training event put on in part by the Bill Gates Foundation. At 6:40 AM, RCMP said Hurren rammed his truck, which contained multiple firearms, through the gates hard enough to set his airbags off. He left the truck on foot with a rifle in his hand and was intercepted by RCMP officers who, after hours of negotiation, were able to take him into custody without incident just before 8:30 A.M.

On Friday afternoon, RCMP announced a slew of firearms charges against Hurren, a member of the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve. They include: four counts of careless use of a firearm, four counts of illegally transporting of a firearm, four counts of possession of a weapon for a dangerous reason, one count of possession of of a prohibited devices, four counts of possession of a restricted firearm with ammunition, and one count of uttering threats. Hurren attended a bail hearing Friday afternoon but it was pushed back until July 17. He will remain in police custody till then.

RCMP Deputy Commissioner Mike Duheme said there was never any danger to Trudeau or Governor General Julie Payette as they werent at their homes at the time of the incident. While the RCMP says the man had several weapons on him they did not elaborate about the specifics of the weapons.

Citing anonymous sources, several media outlets have reported that Hurren was armed with several rifles and a shotgun, at least one of which was on him at the time of his arrest. Hurren also allegedly had a note on him that he wished to deliver to Trudeau.

According to LinkedIn, Hurren has operated Grindhouse Fine Foods, a meat company, since 2014. The companys Instagram account features posts that are related to the business, such as images of sausages, and others that are personal in nature, such as photos of Hurren.

Hurren in a Instagram post from Decemeber 2019. Photo via Grindhouse Fine Foods Instagram.

On March 27, Grindhouse Fine Foods posted a QAnon meme. It features a white rabbit (the mascot for the conspiracy) at the wheel of a car. The Instagram caption says: Has anyone else been following 'Q' and the 'White Rabbit' down the rabbit hole and how this all relates to the coronavirus/COVID-19 situation? Lots of coincidences in all these 'Q' posts if this turns out to be a 'Nothingburger'." He then lists a plethora of conspiracies in the hashtags which include the killing of Seth Rich, adrenochrome, pizzagate, pedogate, and several related to sex offender Jeffery Epstein. The account also posted several hashtags linked to QAnon like WWG1WGA, a storm is coming, and the deep state.

QAnon is a wide-ranging conspiracy in the United States that focuses on Donald Trumps battles with deep state enemies.

Marc-Andr Argentino, a PhD candidate at Concordia University who studies QAnon and similar movements, flagged Hurren's post to VICE. Argentino said Hurren's posts indicate that he's not a die-hard QAnon adherent, but may have gotten into the movement during the pandemic because of economic and political stress. However, Argentino stressed that we still dont have the full picture of what Hurren believes at the moment.

He's consumed enough of the content to know the very specific hashtags to use, said Argentino.

The meme Grindhouse posted shortly before Hurren allegedly rammed the gates at Rideau Hall was also posted to the account in May. It refers to Event 201, an international training exercise put on by Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Economic Forum in October 2019. The exercise was to test the readiness of the world in the event of a global pandemic. Many conspiracy theorists believe it indicates that Bill Gates, alongside other elites, orchestrated the pandemic. The Event 201 post was first reported on by the Toronto Star.

Hurren is from Bowsman, Manitoba, one of the northernmost farming communities in the province. In Grindhouses social media posts, Hurren frequently refers to the fact hes a veteran who recently rejoined the military as a Canadian Rangers member. The Rangers are a part of the national reserve that serve in remote regions.

A robot with the bomb squad recovered a collection of military rations in Hurren's vehicle following the arrest.

The instagram post referring to QAnon. Photo via Grindhouse Fine Foods Instagram.

In one of Grindhouses Instagram posts, Hurren said he had to temporarily shut down his business because of COVID-19.

"As some of you may already know, things have been on hold with my GrindHouse meat products due to the logistics of the COVID-19 situation," he wrote. "I am not sure what will be left of our economy, industries, and businesses when this all ends."

For most of the year, the posts focused on his company (his Ring of Fire sausage, in particular,) his time with the Rangers, and survivalism. That changed in March when COVID-19 hit, and the posts became far more focused on the pandemic and began to reference conspiracies.

The day before Hurren allegedly rammed the gates, an anti-Trudeau rally took place in Ottawa. While the rally was about a variety of subjects, including pushing back on COVID-19 safety measures, many of the attendees were adherents of the conspiracy. Footage of the gathering, which drew hundreds of people, was amplified by Q, the central figure of the QAnon conspiracy. Photos of the event show many attendees holding signs relating to Q. The group chanted where we go one we go all, the main slogan of the conspiracy.

There is no evidence directly linking Hurren to the rally. Duchene said at the press conference that as far as he knew, the suspect was not in Ottawa for another reason but declined to go into any details relating to his travel or activities in Ottawa prior to breaking through the gates of Rideau Hall armed.

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Armed Man Who Allegedly Stormed Trudeau's Residence Appears to Have Posted QAnon Content - VICE

Else Blangsted, Who Fled the Nazis and Found a Hollywood Ending, Dies at 99 – The New York Times

Else Blangsted, who fled Nazi Germany as a teenager believing she had given birth to a stillborn child, then gradually built a career as a leading music editor on Hollywood films, died on May 1 in Los Angeles. She was 99.

Her death was confirmed by her cousin Deborah Oppenheimer, an Oscar-winning producer.

For over 30 years, Ms. Blangsted played a major part in shaping how movie music was heard, through her work on features like The Color Purple, Tootsie and On Golden Pond.

She broke down film scripts to provide detailed instructions showing composers where, in dialogue or action, to place parts of their scores, and for exactly how long. She was also the composers representative through the recording sessions.

The information that came from her was crucial, Dave Grusin, the Oscar-winning composer who was Ms. Blangsteds collaborator on Tootsie and many other films, said in an interview. I knew what I was doing was working if she said I was on the right track.

But music editing is an unsung profession. Music editors do not receive Academy Awards, as film and sound editors do. When Mr. Grusin won an Oscar for his score for The Milagro Beanfield War (1988), Ms. Blangsted, his editor on the film, went unrecognized.

Her only major industry honor was the 2006 life achievement award from the Motion Picture Sound Editors, an industry group. In written remarks read at the ceremony, Robert Redford, who directed two of the films Ms. Blangsted worked on, Milagro and Ordinary People, said she had the mind of an artist and the soul of a saint.

But even as Ms. Blangsted had firmly established her reputation as a creative and outspoken partner to composers, the story of her child was about to enter a new chapter.

Else Siegel was born on May 22, 1920, in Wrzburg, Germany. Her father, Siegmund, was a horse trader, and her mother, Lilly (Oppenheimer) Siegel, was a homemaker, with whom Else had a difficult relationship. In a profile in The New Yorker in 1988, she said her mother subjected her to a life of misdemeanors, punishments and a lack of forgiveness.

When she was 15, she began dating Eric Seelig, then, 24, and soon after became pregnant. She told no one. Soon after, with the Nuremberg Laws restricting where Jews like her could attend school, her family sent her to a Jewish boarding school in Switzerland. It was September of 1936.

By January 1937, when she was seven months pregnant, the tightness of her corset was causing her to faint. Desperate and ashamed, she tried to kill herself by lying on a snowy hill near the school, hoping to freeze to death.

She was found hours later, her lower legs frostbitten. Her secret was out.

In early March, she went into labor. They used chloroform in those days, and I passed out and came to and I must have said, Is it a boy or a girl? and they put the mask back on, she said when she was interviewed for a documentary, Looking for Else (2007).

Later, I demanded: Where is the baby? I need somebody to take the milk.

There is no baby, a nurse told her. The baby is dead.

Else thought she had killed her baby by keeping the corset too tight. But her family, who was ashamed of her behavior and fearful of Nazi repression, lied to her and sent the baby girl to a nursery where a German-Swiss couple adopted her.

Knowing nothing of the deception, Else returned to Wrzburg and in August boarded a luxury liner for New York City. After arriving alone, she headed to Los Angeles, where a sponsor family put her in touch with a local rabbi, who found her work as a maid and, later, as a nanny for Warner LeRoy, the son of the prolific director and producer Mervyn LeRoy.

At 17, she had made her Hollywood connection, but it was, at best, a modest one. Mervyn LeRoy was married to Doris Warner, a daughter of Harry Warner, one of the founders of Warner Brothers studio. After a year as a nanny, Else found work at Warner Brothers; in shoe and pants factories and as a seamstress at Warner Brothers.

But she was lonely. She wrote to Eric, who was living in Argentina, and asked that he marry her. In 1940, they wed, and had a daughter, Erica Seelig, four years later. They eventually divorced.

Her jobs continued: She was a wardrobe woman, helping actresses look their best in their costumes, an actress, and a waxer, who protected film emulsions. In 1960, she was hired as a music editor at a postproduction house; her only credentials were being able to read music and play the piano and guitar. That led to work at Paramount and Columbia.

Her reputation was building. Her importance to me was not only her portfolio, but her charisma, her sense of authority, her humility and her survivalism, said Van Dyke Parks, the musician and composer who wrote the music with Perry Botkin Jr., for the 1978 comic western, Goin South, starring and directed by Jack Nicholson.

Then one day in 1984, she got a call from an aunt who read an ad in Aufbau, a journal for German-speaking Jews. Her daughter was not only alive, but wanted to meet her. She went by Lily Kopitopoulos, was 47 and living in Switzerland.

Ms. Blangsted tracked down her number and called.

This is your Mama, she said, according to the article in The New Yorker. Forgive me. The nurse told me you were dead.

When they finally met, Ms. Blangsted said in Looking for Else, It was the end of drama, the end of shame, the end of accusations, the end of migraines.

Their reunion included trips to each others homes and several years in which Ms. Blangsted moved to Switzerland to be near Ms. Kopitopoulos. They drifted apart after about 20 years, during which one of Ms. Kopitopouloss sons, Sandy, directed Looking for Else, with Daniel Maurer.

In addition to her daughters and grandson, Ms. Blangsted is survived by another grandson, and two great-grandsons. She married Folmar Blangsted, the Danish-born film editor of A Star is Born (1954) in 1960; he died in 1982.

Ms. Blangsted, a witty person known for her frequent laughter, had many actor friends including Lee J. Cobb, Gregory Peck, James Cromwell and Mr. Moore. She met Mr. Moore, the star and composer of Six Weeks (1982), when he was already working with a music editor. The director, Tony Bill, wanted him to meet Ms. Blangsted.

After watching the film together, she recalled in a 2011 profile of her in Patch, a local news website: I said to him, You have two-and-a-half minutes to make up your mind that I will be your music editor. I went away. Came back and he nodded his head, very definitely.

They remained friends until 2002, when, as he lay dying, she called to read him Dickens over the phone.

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Else Blangsted, Who Fled the Nazis and Found a Hollywood Ending, Dies at 99 - The New York Times

Inside ultra-luxurious disaster survival kits where super-rich can pay 4k for night vision goggles and posh – The Sun

PREPPERS have been infamous for their tin foil hat theories and apocalyptic paranoia since time immemorial.

But now that a terrifying pandemic is our daily reality, being prepared for the worst doesn't seem so silly after all and wealthy celebs are buying into the idea with super-stylish survival kits.

Those used to leading lives of luxury want to make sure they can get through doomsday in style.

That's why there's now a whole industry catering to mega-rich stars worried about the apocalypse.

For a few thousand quid, you can get night vision goggles that come in a bag monogrammed with your own initials.

Kim Kardashian shared a selfie of herself with a survival kit back in February, writing "I travel prepared".

And billionaires worried about civilisation breaking down are currently snapping up five-star nuclear blast-proof bunkers fitted with wine cellars and swimming pools.

But even lowly millionaires might be more inclined to take survivalism seriously after their Beverly Hills homes burned in wildfires and their New York penthouses have been shuttered in lockdown.

Here's a look at the luxury survival kits offering the great and good a stylish solution for getting through armageddon.

For those seeking Kardashian-endorsed survival glamour, look no further than Judy.

Created by Simon Huck, a celebrity PR whiz, Judy is a survival kit company whose products have cropped up in the Instagram accounts of the Kardashians.

The firm offers a range of kits that have been flying off the shelves since the start of the pandemic.

The emergency Judy packs are designed in bright orange and range in price from 49 to 204.

Designed to help one person survive for 24 hours, the company's smallest kit is called The Starter (49).

The bum bag contains a first aid kit, a poncho, a water pouch, a blanket, a phone charger, a whistle, glow sticks, and nutrition bars.

But for those feeling more flush, they can get The Mover a big rucksack containing everything in The Starter, plus extras like a dust mask, biohazard bag, and of course hand sanitiser.

"The Starter and the Mover sold out in the first three weeks they went on sale," Huck told The Times.

"A lot of millennials bought Judys for their parents."

But if you're looking to stylishly survive with your loved ones, you can splash out on The Safe for 204.

Designed to support four people for 72 hours, the big box of survival goodies has everything included in The Mover, plus candles, a hand-cranked radio, and waterproof matches.

"The foundations of all emergency kits are food, water and first aid," Huck added.

Having the foundations of a survival kit is one thing having the most suped up kit money can buy is another.

For a mere 4,116, you can get yourself The Prepster Ultra Advanced Fireproof Emergency Bag.

As the name suggests, the bag is made with a special flame-retardant material used in firefighting suits.

And it can be monogrammed with your initials so you don't mix it up with anyone else's four-grand survival kit when the apocalypse comes.

Each bag, made by Preppi, contains practical necessities like a Garmin satellite messenger and SOS locator beacon, a night vision scope, a solar panel, and an emergency charging kit.

It also holds a water purifier, a Leatherman black carbon steel multitool, and a comprehensive first aid kit.

But it also affords its well-healed owners a few luxuries including premium chocolate and a poker set.

Preppi says the Prepster Ultra Advanced provides "ample luxe comforts" for two people that will sustain nutrition, hydration, power, and communication.

Everything you could ever need, really, for when the aliens invade.

If the apocalypse turns out to be zombies rather than aliens, one company has you covered, provided you're in the US.

OpticsPlanet put together its specialist ZERO kit Zombie Extermination, Research and Operations for those determined to make it through doomsday.

For just 16,207, the company will ship you everything you need to fend off the flesh-eating undead and the equipment to find a cure.

"When the undead hordes rise from their shallow graves to wreak havoc on all decent civilisation, you'll need to both fight back (Extermination), and find a cure (Research)," OpticsPlanet says.

The pricey kit includes a zombie knife, a thermal imaging camera, and gun attachments like shotgun torches and red dot sites to spruce up your personal arsenal.

It also includes a "Battle Mug" which, as well as being an indestructible drinking vessel, doubles up as a blunt-force weapon.

But what really sets the ZERO kit apart is its inclusion of lab equipment so you can pass time in the apocalypse working on a cure for the zombie virus.

It comes with a microscope, pipettes and beakers to aid your world-saving research efforts assuming you have any idea what you're doing.

For those who aren't looking for a fight, there's now a huge industry of luxurious survival shelters for the uber-wealthy.

A far cry from the dingy Anderson Shelters of the Blitz, billionaires are now snapping up subterranean luxury bunkers that boast swimming pools, tram systems, and even wine cellars.

Some, like the Oppidum in the Czech Republic, will even include a spa for their billionaire buyers but they're going fast.

Despite costing at least $1.5million, all of the units in a converted nuclear missile silo at the Survival Condo in Kansas have already sold out.

"Your father or grandfather's bunker was not very comfortable," Robert Vicino, the CEO of high-end shelter company Vivos, told CNN.

"They were grey. They were metal, like a ship or something military. And the truth is mankind cannot survive long-term in such a Spartan, bleak environment."

Vivos XPoint bunkers in South Dakota are made from repurposed military munitions depots costing up to 160,000 and could one day be home to 5,000 survivalists.

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The firm also offers a "modern day Noah's Ark", in a former Cold War-era ammunition storage facility in Germany.

This particular shelter includes its own tram network to transport residents to the bunker's restaurants, cinema and games rooms.

"We have all the comforts of home, but also the comforts that you expect when you leave your home," Robert added.

The rest is here:

Inside ultra-luxurious disaster survival kits where super-rich can pay 4k for night vision goggles and posh - The Sun

Far More Valuable Than a Stockpile of Food and Money – Investment U

Financial Freedom

By Joel Salatin

Originally posted May 19, 2020 on Manward Press

Editors Note: Exciting news Joels latest book is available for pre-order! Called Beyond Labels, the book confronts the biggest issues in Americas food supply and shows how easy it can be to take charge of your own health one bite at a time. The ideas, evidence and takeaways from this book have the power to reshape Americas declining health. Click here to pre-order today.

I remember like yesterday the conversations and conundrums surrounding Y2K. Pundits were all over the map, from Nothing will happen to Were going to be living in caves and whittling cooking utensils with pocketknives.

Sorting out the proper response occupied hours of reading, seeking, praying and late-night discussions.

Back in Y2K, the issue was internet failure, grid failure, microchip failure. It was a technology malfunction that would bring the world crashing down to something resembling the 1940s.

Today, the issue is not really COVID-19; its a complete collapse of what some call the Everything Bubble.

We all follow certain thinkers who earn our respect because they have a track record of good decisions. One of my guys says the pandemic enabled governments that were bankrupt to blame something else for economic collapse. Its the perfect scapegoat.

Whether it was contrived or not, it certainly bailed out our spendthrift politicians from having to own their financial chaos.

Most wise people realize by now that the pandemics issue is not sickness; its money.

It begs the question If by December were in postapocalyptic times, what will you do?

Too Late

Last week I spent an hour on the phone with two bright, middle-aged couples who were looking for the proper survival response to a cultural cataclysm.

The husbands in both of these couples were ex-military and believed things would be dire over the next few years. Their question: What is our best avenue to create security for our families during cultural chaos and collapse?

Steeped in survival lore, they looked first at hermit mountain man strategies.

The word survivalist conjures up the thought of a lone existence sequestered in a cave or cabin in a remote wilderness living on edible wild plants and backwoods cunning. Deadfall traps, cordage made from sinew and clothes made from buckskin this life certainly has an appeal, especially for introverts or people who have been abused and hold a strong distrust of neighbors.

The problem with this scenario is that it requires massive amounts of self-reliance skills. You dont just step out of your computer job and know how to set a deadfall trap to successfully kill a rabbit.

And you have to figure out where youre going to go to survive. People who create survival podcasts and YouTube presentations eat, drink and sleep survival techniques. And they do it for a long time.

If you wait for things to start collapsing before you head for the hills, youre too late. Youll never learn the skills fast enough to survive.

If this is your option, you have to do it now, way ahead of the collapse. But almost no one is willing to do that. Were all enamored by the skills these survival gurus have, but few of us are willing to spend the years building to that mastery. For a lot of reasons, this survival trajectory is simply not practical.

Whats the other option?

Invest in Connections

Its on the opposite end of the spectrum, what I call communal survivalism.

In that scenario, you invest in relationships. Ive always said Id like to be Amish without the costume. If you surround yourself with an eclectic blend of expertise, youll collectively have the knowledge and skills to weather the chaos.

That is something you can do without actually jumping off a cliff. It will take time, to be sure, but it can be cultivated while youre still enjoying the benefits of a quasi-functional culture.

Im not talking about a cult; Im talking about something far more basic than an insurance policy and far more long-lived than a stockpile of food.

Interestingly, in the last couple of years Ive helped several people find property near us as a bunker for hard times. Some moved here and some didnt. They realized that our farm, with its low carbon footprint and our team that can grow, build, and fix things, is as secure as just about anything. And so they bought land nearby that we manage for them while securing a haven in case of ground zero.

I have no idea if the monetary system will collapse or if savings will be wiped out. I do know that realtors report skyrocketing interest in rural properties right now. But nobody is listing because of uncertainty.

The properties listed prior to the pandemic are on the market and not being taken off. But no new ones are coming on yet. They will once the dust settles a bit.

Building Your Fort

In times of uncertainty, people head to the fort. In todays world, the fort is not a physical stockade; its a knowledge and skill stockade. The physical part is simply a land base with resources to support the people occupying the property.

Goals for preparing, then, revolve around land, expertise and as much independence as possible.

When people start talking about not being able to get electricity or not being able to buy gasoline and grain, they must realize that in such a postapocalyptic world, we wont be techno cherry-picking. Well be eating herbivores and growing seed-saved vegetables, and society will be in complete breakdown.

Thats an extreme scenario and probably wont happen.

But hiccups in supermarket supplies are quite likely. Hiccups in your 401(k) are certainly possible. Restrictions to commerce, nationalization of business and other key disruptions could happen.

The pandemic has awakened a new sense of urgency for personal security in uncertain times.

But rather than casting off from society and heading for the hills, I suggest a more prudent and practical course of action is to develop a relationship with a place and an outfit, or community, that exhibits principles of resilience. That investment might yield a better return.

Like what youre reading? Let us know your thoughts here.

Joel Salatin calls himself a Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic farmer. With a room full of debate trophies from high school and college days, 12 published books, and a thriving multigenerational family farm, he draws on a lifetime of food, farming and fantasy to entertain and inspire audiences around the world. Hes as comfortable moving cows in a pasture as he is addressing Fortune 500 CEOs at a Wall Street business conference. A fierce defender of personal freedom and choice, he brings an unorthodox viewpoint that readers of Manward Digest cant get enough of.

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Far More Valuable Than a Stockpile of Food and Money - Investment U

The Growing Threat Posed By Accelerationism And Accelerationist Groups Worldwide Analysis – Eurasia Review

By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Samuel Hodgson and Colin P. Clarke*

(FPRI) As the world is paralyzed by the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), some violent non-state actors have welcomed the global pandemic as anopportunityto push their propaganda and ideology, and perhaps to strike at their perceived foes. White supremacist extremists see the pandemic as confirmation of many of the movements preexisting beliefs, and as an opportunity to pursue their violent aims, as the virus induces anxiety related to the economy, immigration, and uncertainty over the future.

A group known as accelerationists, in particular, has seized on the pandemic. Online, they have advanced a raft of conspiracy theories,disinformation, and hateful propaganda accusing Jews and migrants of responsibility for starting and spreading the virus, respectively. Accelerationists believe that thesocial upheavalthey promote, which is viewed as a necessary prelude that will usher in the rebuilding of society on the basis of white power, has been made plausible by the scenes of illness and death dominating mainstream news coverage.

Accelerationism is the most inherently violent and dangerous ideology circulating in the global white supremacist extremist movement. Accelerationists believe that a race war is not only inevitable, but desirable, as it is the only path to achieving white power by bringing about the downfall of current systems of government. Their beliefs are shaped in large part by James MasonsSiege,which draws on Charles Manson, Adolf Hitler, and prominent American neo-Nazi William Pierce, author ofThe Turner Diaries. Accelerationists call for the expulsion or extermination of Jewish people, ethnic and racial minorities, and white race traitors, a category that includes race-mixing white women, academics, journalists, and politicians. Their online conversations are molded by a belief that other white supremacists are insufficiently extreme and that only violence directed against the political system can lead to the establishment of white power.

Accelerationists are especially dangerous because they believe an act of mass violence by a single individual (a lone wolf) or small cell can trigger their desired race war. Such attacks are intended to force the white population to recognize their true enemy, join a revolutionary uprising, and destroy the political system. Accelerationists organize themselves to facilitate these attacks, following the principles ofleaderless resistanceand calling on individuals or small cells to perpetrate revolutionary acts of violence without centralized leadership. Accelerationist networks form small cells to train for and coordinate such attacks. These cells are typically organized geographically, either by country or region, to facilitate activities like physical fitness exercises and paramilitary training. Such a compartmentalized organization, where network and white supremacist movement members take action based on a shared vision rather than at the direction of a single leader, is deliberately designed to resist infiltration by law enforcement.

Accelerationisms call for armed resistance by lone wolves in the name of hastening of an inevitable societal collapse has produced violent results. The manifestos of bothBrenton Tarrantand John Earnestwho in 2019 perpetrated mass shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, and a synagogue in Poway, California, respectivelyespoused key concepts of accelerationism in describing their motivations or calling for further action.Other plotsby accelerationist cells have been foiled, but reflected an intent to act towards similarly violent ends.

Several accelerationist networks have emerged. The most notorious, and one of the most prolific, is Atomwaffen Division (AWD), which emerged from the now-defunct fascist online forum Iron March in 2015. The group has international reach, with members and active cells,whichappear to operatewith a high degree of independence, in several countries. The organization seeks to initiate a race war that will lead to the destruction of the current political system. Members have repeatedly shown their commitment to advancing societal breakdown through violence in order to achieve white power goals. Their forums and chat groups circulate a core set of texts, most prominentlySiege.

AWD has a strong U.S. presence. Since its formation, members have been identified in several states, and their social media and propaganda reveals that they have likely held paramilitary training camps in Texas, Nevada, Illinois, and Washington. These camps have featured live-fire weapons training and firearms instruction, in addition to hand-to-hand combat training, instruction in survival skills, and other physical fitness activities. Members have plotted attacks in the United States, including a cell in Florida that had acquired explosive materials and may haveintended to targetthe electrical grid or a nuclear power plant in 2017. Other activities by the members include the murder of a gay Jewish man in California and anintimidation campaigntargeting journalists and political figures.

In addition to activity in the United States, AWD appears to have a significant presence in Germany and members inCanada. U.S.-based members are reported to have traveled to England, Poland, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, andGermany. While the purpose of these trips is unclear, photos of members holding an AWD flag in front of Wewelsburg Castle, a site of particular historical significance for neo-Nazi groups, have appeared in AWD propaganda, including in the announcement of its German branch, AWD Deutschland.

Atomwaffen has inspired a number of related organizations with shared ideologies and occasionally overlapping membershipsincluding not only AWD Deutschland, but also Feuerkrieg Division (FKD) and Sonnenkrieg Division. FKD was founded in the Baltics, and reportedly has members in several European countries and the United States. The groups propaganda reveals that it, like AWD, explicitly embraces employing violence for the purpose of bringing about a race war. FKD has been implicated in terrorist attacks and plots in the United States and Europe. While the scope of the groups U.S. presence is unclear, at least one former member, Conor Climo, has admitted to discussing attacks on Jewish and LGBT sites inLas Vegas, Nevada,and conducting surveillance in support of potential plots. Climo was also found to have assembled bomb-making materials in his home.

Sonnenkrieg Division is aU.K.-basedgroup whose members have distributed propaganda encouraging terrorist attacks, and have acquired bomb-making instructions. Like AWD, Sonnenkriegs members have advocated for mass violence online. Its membership includes former members of National Action, a neo-Nazi terrorist organization currently banned in the United Kingdom. In February 2020, the U.K. home secretary announced thatSonnenkriegwill also be banned as a terrorist group. In private forums, Sonnenkrieg members have discussed traveling to the United States to meet with AWD.

The United States is also home to The Base, another U.S. group with international membership, which was organized in 2018. An individual who refers to himself as Norman Spear and Roman Wolf formed the group with a similar goal to AWDs founders: preparing adherents of white supremacist extremist ideology to commit acts of terrorism and participate in an anticipated civil war. While Spear has attempted to publicly disavow violencedescribing The Base as a survivalism & self-defense networkhe has acknowledged that members of his group are militant, and seek to foment an insurgency. Spear has also tacitly justified the use of terrorism. For example, he commented in a June 2018 Gab post: Its only terrorism if we loseIf we win, we get statues of us put up in parks. Spear has since been revealed through independent investigations byThe Guardianand theBBCto be a U.S. citizen residing in St. Petersburg, Russia, raising questions about the groups potential foreign connections.

The majority of The Bases activity takes place in the United States, where cells and members have been identified in Maryland, Georgia, New Jersey, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The group has held paramilitary hate camps in Georgia and elsewhere in the United States, and hasreportedlysought to hold similar camps in Canada. The groups physical meetups regularly attracted at least one Canadian member.

Members of The Base explicitly advocate for mass violence in their online communications. While The Base has not successfully executed a terrorist attack, members from Maryland and Canada wereindictedin January 2020 on firearms charges and crimes related to the harboring and transportation of an alien, in connection with a plot to carry out an attack at a gun-rights rally in Richmond, Virginia. Three other members were charged the same month in Georgia with conspiracy to commit murder in relation to a plot to kill anti-fascist activists, while other members have been charged or indicted for vandalizing synagogues in Michigan and Wisconsin, in a scheme that was coordinated by a member from New Jersey.

As witnessed with the recent case ofTimothy Wilson, a white supremacist who was killed in a confrontation with the FBI before he could follow through on his plans to bomb a hospital in the midst of the pandemic, the domestic terrorism threats that existed before the pandemic will not cease. Indeed, they may very well be exacerbated by individuals and groups intent on wreaking havoc at a time when first responders, law enforcement, and other emergency personnel are preoccupied. The group to which Wilson belonged, Vorherrschaft Division, appears to have had limited activity beyond their Telegram channel and a single act of anti-Semitic vandalism until his plot, demonstrating the dangerous potential of accelerationist ideology to produce violence.

What seems certain is that accelerationists propaganda will be invigorated by the pandemic, focusing on themes that dovetail with their ideology and further complicating national security in the midst of a global health crisis.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a non-partisan organization that seeks to publish well-argued, policy-oriented articles on American foreign policy and national security priorities.

*About the authors:

Source: This article was published by FPRI

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The Growing Threat Posed By Accelerationism And Accelerationist Groups Worldwide Analysis - Eurasia Review

Extraction Review: Chris Hemsworth and the Russo Brothers Team Up for a Tedious Action Ride – IndieWire

From Thor to Fat Thor and various roles in between, Chris Hemsworth has never been shy about using silliness to subvert his god-like good looks. Drawn like a Times Square caricature of an Abercrombie & Fitch model, the Australian star has always been willing and able to shape the absurdity of his sex appeal into the punchline of a joke that were all in on together, or at least use it to suspend our disbelief in a cartoonish movie world that would otherwise be impossible to accept with a straight face. (See: Blackhat. No, really, see it its good).

In that light, its pretty tempting to laugh when the hot but haunted mercenary Hemsworth plays in is formally introduced during a scene in which hes roused from a drunken stupor on the edge of a cliff, jumps off a skyscraper-sized waterfall thats high enough to horrify lesser men, and then sobers up by meditating at the bottom of the lake. When the characters name is revealed to be Tyler Rake too generic for a spit-take, but too ridiculous to swallow theres reason to hope that Extraction is only pretending to be a serious action film with the soul of a paperback thriller, and that the Russo brothers have actually convinced Netflix to shell out a small fortune on some kind of stone-faced Jack Reacher parody.

Alas, self-awareness proves not to be one of this movies small but potent handful of strengths, and hopes of Hemsworth being able to charm his way through it are almost as short-lived as the hundreds of faceless henchmen who Tyler Rake slaughters over the next 100 minutes. As the simple premise of Extraction snaps into view, even the relative complexity of a Lee Child novel begins to seem far out of reach. By the time the first act crescendos with an 11-minute long-take in which Rake murders enough people to be considered a liberal hoax, this visceral but derivative shoot-em-up has reduced itself to something of a watered down cross between The Raid and Man on Fire, with little hope of claiming any clear personality of its own. With Hemsworth boxed in by a movie that wont allow him to have any fun, the only real consolation here is that director Sam Hargrave takes the action as seriously as he does everything else.

Written by Joe Russo (in a loose adaptation of his own graphic novel), and co-produced with his brother Anthony, Extraction marks the sibling duos first major foray into streaming since the historic success of Avengers: Endgame. For the most part, however, it feels as if the projects most essential creative voice belongs to first-time director Sam Hargrave, who initially pinged on the Russos radar after working as Chris Evans stunt double in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Following in the recent footsteps of former stunt coordinators like John Wick co-director Chad Stahelski, Hargrave steps behind the camera for a brutal and relentless action extravaganza that relishes its violence the way a David Mamet film might savor its dialogue. Like John Wick or Atomic Blonde (the latter of which bears Hargraves bruising imprint), Extraction displays an almost poetic command of close-up combat. Unlike those films, however, this one has no idea how to express itself whenever the killing stops.

In that sense, Extraction has a lot in common with, say, a reckless mercenary who runs suicide missions because hes better at inflicting trauma than processing his own. It would be a bit too generous to call Tyler Rake a character (hes more like an open wound that scabbed into giant muscles instead of a scar), but that doesnt stop the worlds most elegant arms dealer (Golshifteh Farahani) from hiring him to rescue the 14-year-old son of a Mumbai druglord after the boy is kidnapped by his fathers menacing Bangladeshi rival (Indian heartthrob Priyanshu Painyuli, leaning into the villain role with the kind of entitled menace that can only be described as Kushner-adjacent).

And thats basically it: Tyler shoots his way through the streets of Dhaka, plucks the terrified young Ovi (Rudhraksh Jaiswal) from a pile of fresh corpses like a pearl from the mouth of a clam, and then tries to escape from the citadel-like city with the package intact. Hargrave and his crew make excellent use of locations throughout India, Thailand, and Bangladesh; Ovis lavish but lonely mausoleum of a house is more expressive than the character itself is ever allowed to be, while Dhakas cluttered streets teem with life (and the palpable threat of collateral damage).

Its a good thing the films geography is so dynamic, because most scenes in Extraction are only differentiated by how people die. Sometimes Tyler Rake kills people with a gun, sometimes Tyler Rake kills people with a car, and sometimes Tyler Rake kills people with the giant wads of meat and bone that branch out of his wrists. The question isnt if Tyler Rake will kill someone with a rake, but how (Hargrave arrives at the right answer). Simplicity can be a virtue in a movie so driven by shoot-outs, but Russos threadbare script isnt rich enough to elevate constant stimuli into genuine spectacle.

Tylers whole guilt-ridden soldier with a secret thing leans into every trope that it seems poised to subvert David Harbour drops in for a second act exposition dump that confirms all your worst suspicions and stops the movie dead in its tracks while the film itself hardly musters any interest in Tyler and Ovis surrogate family bond. Both of them are desperate for the love theyve lost or never had, but any such emotional stirrings are suffocated under a smoggy pile of Redbox-ready genre tics. When the villain barks at his goons that he wants every gun in Dhaka pointed at this guy!, you realize the films palpable sense of place has succumbed to its generic self-identity.

And yet, Extraction is most flavorful along the margins. The limits of survivalism are better explored through a few minor characters than they are the films leads; its particularly rewarding to follow one scrappy kids tragic rise from the Bangladeshi slums to the upper ranks of the villains organization, as he takes the only path life makes available to him. His arc isnt motivated by bravery or cowardice so much as the absence of any choice altogether, and it elegantly dovetails with Tylers journey before all is said and done. It also gives Hargrave a good excuse to shoot Hemsworth beating the absolute crap out of some overmatched children, but thats just an incidental bonus.

If Extraction is at its best when its characters collapse into the same space, then perhaps its fitting that Hargraves debut will be remembered for the elaborate long-take that bleeds across the middle of the movie. Its an impressive feat, but like much of this steroidal misfire the shot is too enthralled by its own capacity for violence to have any real fun with it. Despite evincing a natural flair for carnage that should make Hargrave a valuable Hollywood presence for a long time to come, the oner here is stitched together from a number of discrete shots in a way that makes you question the reality of what youre seeing, rather than marvel at it.

The Raid 2 made this kind of thing en vogue, and the likes of Atomic Blonde managed to fake it so real, but Extraction pulls just a few too many of the wrong punches. Theres a fine line between awe and tedium, and sometimes not even Chris Hemsworth is able to blur it for us.

Extraction will be available to stream on Netflix starting April 24.

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Extraction Review: Chris Hemsworth and the Russo Brothers Team Up for a Tedious Action Ride - IndieWire

Does the Theoretical Arrow Fired by Jane Goodall End at the Feet of Jair Bolsonaro? – CounterPunch

Photograph Source: Erik (HASH) Hersman from Orlando CC BY 2.0

We oh-so civilized humans seem to think we know everything except perhaps how to behave decently and rationally all the time, as Dr Jane Goodall noted when comparing Donald Trump to an anthropomorphised image of the male chimpanzee and it is the methodologies and exalted stature of the sciences, including history, that have conferred upon us this mantle of knowledge.

As Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind author, Yuval Noah Harari, opines: Today [humanity] stands on the verge of becoming a god, poised to acquire not only eternal youth, but also the divine abilities of creation and destruction.

Long before Harari waxed lyrical about the potential omniscience of humankind the philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach set down a far sounder reason than Harari has for humankinds apparently transcendental consciousness (Nietzsche probably came up with the simplest and best). Feuerbachs notion was generated from the ways he saw science changing knowledge. Humans, he argued, now had the ability to know everything not as individuals but as a collective.

To explain with an analogy: people who use buses in a city know the routes they take, the numbers of the buses, the places they stop. But they dont know all the routes. However, if you brought together all the bus users in the city then any question about how to get from one place to another by bus would be answered. The collective knowledge of the group would be a complete knowledge. The group would also actually know more than individual bus route planners, or coordinators, who would have to consult documents to obtain an answer.

In a similar way, any scientist has access to all the work of every other scientist and so, theoretically, the totality of scientific research, past and present, amounts to the full knowledge of the world at any particular time. Individual scientists do not know everything but as a group that has recorded its findings they do. This final frontier of knowledge and science makes the human species, according to Feuerbach, special. Humans have what amounts to a collective consciousness, and modern science makes that consciousness omniscient. This collective consciousness stored in libraries of various kinds allows science to move very quickly in developing new technologies. This then enables what appears to us as an exponential growth in progress over even very short periods of time a technological revolution every few years.

But this progress is not the progress of humans as humans, it is the progress of things. Yes, humans change because of the things that are around them, but the purpose of progress is not to develop the human being to develop enjoyment, leisure, connection and independence the purpose is to make wealth. Steven Pinker, for example, argues that advances in technology, along with the development of the institutions that govern us, have made us better people but he warns that most people, consciously echoing Hobbes, are essentially bad and if left to their own devices they would revert to all sorts of evil practices. Using this reasoning one can only conclude that the tribespeoples of the Amazon and elsewhere must be living in awful conditions as well as being unspeakably nasty to each other and so, following Pinkers logic, if we genuinely care about others, we should support the efforts of Brazils Bolsonaro to improve their lives.

Eminent thinkers, Richard Wrangham, Dale Petersen, Jane Goodall, Pinker and E. O. Wilson essentially share a common approach in how to interpret and understand what they view as human nature. They share what is, for all intents and purposes, an evolutionary psychology viewpoint. This strand of scientific exploration finds much evidence and justification in the famous studies of chimpanzees our closest relative in Gombe National Park in Tanzania led by Jane Goodall. There is, I suggest, a direct methodological and theoretical arrow fired by Goodall that ends at Pinker but if we keep following the logic it becomes apparent that the arrow does not stop at Pinker, it lands at the feet of Jair Bolsonaro.

Evolutionary psychology tells us that we can begin to understand what motivates present day civilized humans by looking into how humans of the past reacted psychologically to the environments they lived in. A simple example: humans have a fight or flight response to potential danger because in caveman days humans were always being surprised by saber-toothed tigers that wanted to eat them. Evolutionary psychology also tells us that people can only be relatively free when they are released from the imperatives of survival and reproduction and such freedom can only be found (of course!) in civilization. This means that all primitive peoples are oppressed by the daily struggle to survive and reproduce. And all other animals are equally fettered. This is why other animals and tribal peoples have no decent art museums or concert halls and no bands like The Rolling Stones they are too busy staving off hunger all day and trying to have more kids. (Its interesting that the worlds population remained fairly static until the emergence of the first States when the population exploded within those States so maybe those primitive, un-enslaved folk werent even very good at having children)

These well-accepted academic notions about humans before civilization contain some very stupid assumptions. They assume if you follow the logic properly that humans prior to civilization were not masters of their environment in the same way that any other animal is/was master of their environment. It projects back the notion of a modern/civilized human who has not been educated or taught how to dress properly and adds to this the image of a human who is constantly surprised and overwhelmed by the environment they inhabit. These weird fictional projected-back people are only able to become better at living when they have discovered fire; when they have discovered the wheel; when they have learned to trade and to read; when they have discovered the refrigerator

So, these fictional people of the long-ago past have two important features: they are simultaneously helpless and stupid. It is only on the long road to present-day civilization that they become less helpless and less stupid.

If we think more about how humans like us coped in the wild before television we discover that we should see all other animals as helpless and stupid too all of them only just managing to survive in their environments. And we must also see all the tribespeoples around the world who live in the forests, in the hills, and on the plains as equally helpless and stupid. We are forced to wonder just how these people are surviving right now the misery they must be in! They must be so stressed by their helplessness and the fearful environment they inhabit. Then we are forced to wonder how the anatomically-modern human species survived for the vast majority of its existence 200,000 years at least without the benefits of civilization (which began arriving around 7000 years ago) in this continually helpless and surprised state. If they were so helpless and stupid why didnt they die out long ago, or did civilization save them just in the nick of time? And how come all the helpless and stupid animals that inhabit the world seem to carry on surviving? And how come the Yanomami are still here, or the Sentinelese? Questions, questions

How do/did these groups modern day tribespeoples; humans who lived between 200,000 and 7000 years ago; and all the animals manage to persist in such awful circumstances? Their stress levels due to their stupidity and helplessness must be, and have been, through the roof! Once again if we follow the line of the logic we have no option but to support the humanitarian work of Jair Bolsonaro and others in trying to rescue primitive peoples from their own foolish lifestyles and ignorance. And not only are the tribes of the Amazon stupid and helpless, badly dressed, not dressed at all, and lacking in civilized etiquette they are in the way of making a few bucks. They need to be proletarianized, and if a lot of them die in the process well, its no big deal In this scenario under the logical big tent erected by Goodall et al Bolsonaro wins twice: firstly he is doing humanity a favour by bringing civilized behaviour to the savages, and secondly he is helping his friends make money.

This is the logic required in order to keep faith with the theories and fancies of experts such as Goodall and Pinker. If one uncovers and follows the Enlightenment logic and the civilizing sermon embedded in their writings one is drawn to this uncomfortable conclusion.

Our esteemed betters, who regularly appear on TED Talks, for example, think they can effectively know everything. It was Marx, interestingly or alarmingly, depending on the depth of ones investment in Marx who taught us just how the human species is able to know everything. He went further than Feuerbach, turning Feuerbachs notions of collective human possibility into the science of sociology the discipline for which he is considered a chief founder. After Marx, sociological studies were grounded in the empirical collation of factors that amounted to the totality of the economic and social environments that people lived in. If one was to reveal true human motivations it was no longer any use listening to what people said about themselves, one had to investigate their economic and social circumstances. Marx wrote: Whilst in ordinary life every shopkeeper is very well able to distinguish between what somebody professes to be and what he really is, our historians have not yet won even this trivial insight. They take every epoch at its word and believe that everything it says and imagines about itself is true. There is a lot to be said for this approach of course, but the problem with it is that it doesnt always work in fact, never in societies without economies, and it works less well in societies that have economies that are different to capitalist ones. Money makes liars and deceivers of us all, not always because we are bad, usually because we just want to survive.

Jean Baudrillard pointed out in the early 1970s that the Marxist effort to explain human motivations through the economic environment does not work if the society does not have an economy. Marxists, for their part, have struggled with how to incorporate primitive societies into Marxist methodology, and so have all the other anthropologists who look for the economic motor as the key to understanding human societies. The famous anthropologist Richard Lee, for example, tried his best to argue that primitive society was a society of economic production with his theory of the communal mode of production. But his argument is ultimately not very convincing, as I have explored elsewhere.

Marxs sociology works superbly in a capitalist society and, being taken with it, the famous Annales School in France decided to study the history of previous epochs societies with States and classes, not primitive societies using a form of this Marxist lens. But the broad and compelling histories produced by this school are riven with the same smug, self-congratulatory, vein that runs through the vast bulk of academic work. For them, as with most other historians, it was as if all previous hierarchical and exploitative societies were precursors to an inevitable capitalism. Their approach was to look at societies in the manner of a Sherlock Holmes to place the whole society under their penetrating magnifying glass in order to discover the truth. But like all such endeavours maybe excepting those of Holmes himself what they really got from their studies was only the truth that they already had in their minds.

For example, Fernand Braudel was able to write of (nine-thousand-year-old) atalhyk: But what must be remembered is that the most important source of income for the town was trade. The presumption of town, income, and trade forces upon us a particularly modern representation of atalhyk. Braudel encourages us to believe that we could look at what went on there through the eyes of a local some nine thousand years ago. But he could discover these things only because that was all he was looking for: [atalhyk and other towns] had made a start, prefiguring the future At some point these ventures received a mortal blow [and they] would simply disappear [but] local setbacks notwithstanding, it was here [in the Middle East] that civilization would first spring to life. Braudel was enamoured of modern civilization and wanted to uncover its glorious beginnings. Braudel, by-the-way, had no idea why these early civilizations disappeared and he glossed over this fascinating problem you see, if you are an intellectual you must ensure that people fail to notice the holes or problems in your theses. He was a Sherlock Holmes with rose-tinted spectacles, who felt able to pat what he considered to be a baby civilization on the head for its sterling efforts.

Braudels most famous student, Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, in 1990 wrote the micro-historical account of a medieval French village titled, Montaillou. This was a painstaking investigation that claimed, as he wrote, to have got down to the basic unit, the unit of the people, the peasants in order to discover what made a citizen of Montaillou tick above such basic biological drives as food and sex.

But Le Roy Ladurie should have tried harder not in his meticulous research but in the effort to be remain humble or, rather, to intelligently acknowledge that despite all his research he could never see the world through the eyes of the people he studied, and so he could never really know them as he claimed.

To explain with an analogy: we can, for example, understand when someone tells us that medieval peasants lived by a cyclical calendar derived from agrarian existence but, despite this, we are unable to view time as a rotation because we cannot look up from this page and comfortably accept, or throw out the notion, that time is not linear. As the historian A. J. Gurevich writes of the transition from feudal to urban capitalist conceptions of time: The alienation of time from its concrete content raised the possibility of viewing it as a pure categorical form, as duration unburdened by matter. It was the success of the introduction of supply chains, distribution, and factory work, culminating in railway timetables, that led to the abandonment of any sense that time was cyclical, seasonal, or connected to the earth. This linear expression of time is now hard-wired into our brains.

We cannot see through the eyes of a person inhabiting a different mode of living. Our consciousness is determined by the daily life we live, and the principles and values generated by and acting upon this actual daily existence. Once a society is established, then that society becomes an organic whole, a mode of living (not necessarily an economy). A twenty-first century Parisian can as little decide to understand time as cyclical as a medieval European peasant could decide to understand time as a separate linear category of the universe.

So, Marxs Sociology and the discipline of Evolutionary Psychology are the twin methodologies that tell us how humans work in the world at any time and in any environment and situation. We are, according to these amazing know-it-alls, shaped and beset by the psychological inheritance of, for example, fight or flight, or the demonic male, and our need to survive economically.

In fact, our whole approach to the study of humans and other animals is based on the tenets of survivalism. Apparently, the world is a tough place, full of things that want to eat you or kill you for no reason. The primary task of every animal is therefore to survive these challenges and reproduce themselves, whether it be through surviving in a forest, or creating the technology that enables humans to live in houses and drive cars and if we think that we have any other real motivations then the historians and sociologists can tell us that these other motivations are secondary to survival. Indeed, this perspective works wonders in explaining the way we live in modern civilization, or capitalism, where money is the meter of the rhythm of our lives:

Art is a function of money, discuss.Philosophy is a functionof money, discuss.Love is a function of money, discuss.Too little, too much, or justprecariouslyperfect,the life you leadis a function of money.Discuss.

Is survivalism the ethos of primitive peoples? No. They laze about in hammocks, and never work. They live a life rich in dreams and connection to their environment, as Davi Kopenawa has explained in The Falling Sky.

One of the amusing consequences of the combination of evolutionary psychology with Marxist, or sociological, explanations of how societies apparently operate are these ridiculous lines from Yuval Noah Harari in his book Sapiens:

On a hike in East Africa 2 million years ago, you might well have encountered a familiar cast of human characters: anxious mothers cuddling their babies and clutches of carefree children playing in the mud; temperamental youths chafing against the dictates of society and weary elders who just wanted to be left in peace; chest-thumping machos trying to impress the local beauty and wise old matriarchs who had already seen it all.

The family group he describes could be any family group from present-day Los Angeles but two million years ago! Really?! What kind of Fred Flintstone tomfoolery is going on here?

While all this apparent knowing of everything has been turned upside down by the present ecological and biological crises, we mustnt think that the twin prongs of certainty about the nature of human beings one prong being primitive psychology and the other the imperative of survival and reproduction, or the economy will disappear. In fact, they are likely to become even more forceful in the coming years, as the need for a more powerful State apparatus and a more disciplined populace becomes ever more necessary to keep the wheels of the anti-human economy in motion

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Does the Theoretical Arrow Fired by Jane Goodall End at the Feet of Jair Bolsonaro? - CounterPunch

‘Preppers’ in Costa Rica on alert for the coronavirus and the feared global collapse – Q Costa Rica News

Friday before Semana Santa, in the hours before the strict measures to minimize the spread of the new coronavirus during the holiday period, thousands crowded the countrys supermarkets, Walmart and Pricesmart, for example, buying rice, beans, canned tuna and huge amounts of toilet paper.

Meanwhile at home, watching the news and witnessing such unprecedented crowds were the Tico preppers, who without saying a word and with a beer in hand settled very quietly on their living room sofar, watching the news.

When the first case of the covid-19 appeared in Costa Rica and the population was asked to stay home, the preppers did not need to go out. They had zero fear, since everything they needed to subsist for a long time had already been in their homes for months, or perhaps years.

We have everything. The crowds we saw, when this coronavirus thing started, are part of the first wave of a possible system crash. People feel fear and, since they are not prepared, they leave their house desperately looking to get supplies, because in these countries there is no culture to store, everything is bought daily, Eduardo Rojas, who proudly proclaims himself a prepper, told La Nacion.

The preppers, for those who do not know the term, are those people who take maximum precautions to survive in situations of extreme emergency or even the inevitable end of the world.

Along these lines, the collapse of society due to an economic crisis, a war world or a deadly pandemic, are part of the events for which they prepare with strict discipline.

That is why, in the midst of the world emergency due to the new coronavirus, the Costa Rican preppers, in Spanish sacan pecho adopting an attitude of pride or defiance, as well acting decisively and courageously in a difficult situation.

Unknown to them, family and even friends have called them insane, but now they have noticed how the perception towards their unique practices has changed. A lot.

These days they dont call us crazy anymore, says Ricardo Calvo, a long-standing national prepper, who has his survival refuge in a wooded site in the Cerro de la Muerte.

Rojas, for his part, has never been bothered for being considered the crazy sheep of the family. After all, he knows that whenever his loved ones need something, they turn to him and that, in the midst of the current pandemic, they have begun to see him with different eyes.

It is wavering, in the middle of any emergency, they always resort to me. It has always been like this. That in the middle of a family piata a boy gets a scrape playing with others, they always come to me because they know that I always have band-aids, special knives or items to control any unexpected situation. Then we stop being the strange ones, comments this Josefino smiling, very proud of his extensive knowledge in survivalism and his great expertise as a paramedic and mountaineer.

The only bad thing is that his relatives may love him very much and show him more appreciation than normal in these troubled times, but Rojas is forceful in one thing: if there were to be a global collapse, very few could go with me. Siblings and even parents, who do not adopt the system, can unfortunately be left out. This may sound selfish, but it is not, it is realistic, because a large number of people would be impossible to handle.

Alexnder Snchez, in preparing his report, said that after listening to this sincere confession, inevitable questions arise: in the time of the covid-19, will it be necessary at any time to take such radical actions? How do preppers analyze the current pandemic? Will we be at risk of collapse worldwide? What do preppers really fear?

Their responses will surprise you.

Ricardo Calvo, a 48-year-old naturalist guide, is undoubtedly one of the best-known preppers in the country. His farm, located near kilometer 70 of theInter-American Sur (ruta 2), is his refuge in the event that an apocalyptic event threatens his life and that of his loved ones.

On his property Calvo stores water, all kinds of grains, generates energy autonomously and designed evacuation routes for when the spark ignites and the chaos begins.

Calvo, as he commented to La Nacions Revista Dominical last November, is aware that his lifestyle generates different opinions in people: Many think that I am a truly fatalistic individual and that all my logistics are focused on preparing me for the call of the end of the world'.

However, Calvo does not consider himself a fatalistic person, but realistic and cautious.

As for the fact that we are preparing for the end of the world, that is not true. We do it for a collapse or chaos that may occur at the least expected moment, and that could put our lives at risk, said the survivalist.

Calvo has lived relatively calmly, however, these days, he and his survivalist community are more restless than ever. The covid-19 pandemic has put them on their guard, as everything seems to indicate that this is not a minor episode.

Im going to tell you one thing. Not that I think that the coronavirus is going to be the end of the world, no, I dont think so. I think things are going well in Costa Rica. But something is true, this is like a tug of war for society, something that will make us all react and prepare better. Now everyone is going to understand us, without a doubt it will be like this, said Calvo.

But while Calvos predictions sound relatively favorable, this prepper doesnt rule out the possibility that something could go wrong and things with the covid-19 get completely out of control.

Sure, the possibility of everything going wrong exists. Lets remember that this is unprecedented in our history and the same Health Minister, Daniel Salas, cannot answer how long he will have to maintain the protocols to avoid contagion since everything must be measured day by day. Until now everything is unknown and that keeps you in suspense, he reflected.

In summary, what Calvo fears the most are two things: firstly, that there will be a massive contagion of police officers and, secondly, the impact that the economic crisis will inevitably have on people, which inevitably brings with it the pandemic.

Calvos fear of the loss of the police to keep order is based on his observations that many people cannot even obey a simple sanitary order, not heeding to the call to stay at home, th hundreds daily violating the vehicular restrictions. We already know that the economy of Costa Rica is going to be torn to shreds, that is a fact, so nothing is going to be the same as before, he warns.

For him, looting, despair, and anarchy would be the consequences of a dangerous combo: a crisis of citizen security and hunger.

Im going to confess something to you. Me and the preppers in my community we were not prepared for a health emergency, because we did not have gallons of gel stored, or masks, or anything like that. We should have done it, I did not prepare for a pandemic of this type, but what we did prepare for was the lockdown, said Calvo.

One cannot predict everything that is going to happen, it is impossible, one must be prepared for a sudden change in society. For example, the last minute preppers were the ones that caused supermarkets to collapse and spread the virus further in Costa Rica and around the world.

It is noted that human reaction is dangerous. In such a case, one should focus and be prepared in case a wave of looting comes into being, he added.

For that, Calvo and his community of preppers already have some security protocols planned in their survival hideout. And yes, this includes weapons.

For preppers like Eduardo Rojas, owner of a mountaineering business located in Guadalupe, he points out what can happen before a global collapse breaks out.

He calls it waves that society goes through before possible chaos.

I said it before. The first wave has to do with what we have already seen in Costa Rica. Feelings of hysteria about what is going to happen, the expectation of whether I am going to get sick or not, and the necessary practice of washing my hands every now and then. Confining yourself in one place, Rojas explained.

The second wave, according to Rojas, is the gradual collapse of the economic system, where people begin to see their purchasing power diminished, either because they lost their jobs, their jobs were suspended or their working hours were reduced. We are already seeing that.

Finally, the third wave is the one that nobody wants to see, It is the complete collapse of the economy and the political system, a fact for which virtually no one would be prepared. At this stage, according to Rojas, people do not have access to basic food and hunger begins to rise dangerously, according to Rojas.

Rojas and other preppers already have plan A, B, and C.

First, he would take refuge in his house, then in another strategic position already identified and, finally, if necessary, in a secret place outside the Metropolitan Area. The evacuation routes are already planned out and could be activated the day this prepper considers that the security of his family nucleus is being violated.

For Rojas there are already signs to be concerned about, especially due to economic and social behavior. You can already see that there are more aggressive and intolerant people than usual and that is evident with the Nicaraguan issue, said the prepper.

When people are stressed and confined, receiving worrisome information and without work all day, it becomes a time bomb, about to explode. The social order is simply broken. For me, the possibility of that happening is high, because when they tell you that the covid-19 vaccine will be ready in 18 months or 12 months, imagine, he added, pessimistically.

Rojas says he is on yellow alert.

Preppers in Costa Rica use social networks, the different groups keeping in touch and informed.

All the news shared in the Facebook groups are commented with singular fury by the preppers, who in these days are in solidarity and uniquely united.

For many, the moment to act seems to be close, very close.

Another thing that Tico preppers do is stay on top of what other preppers around the world are doing.

Like the extreme measures taken by the Gembala family, to avoid the global pandemic, left Indiana moving into converted former military shelters in South Dakota, saying: Weve got life insurance and car insurance now weve got TOTAL insurance.

Sources: La Nacion, Revista Dominical, RT, Facebook

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'Preppers' in Costa Rica on alert for the coronavirus and the feared global collapse - Q Costa Rica News


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