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The lost art of getting lost

BBC UK Ed. - Fri, 2015-10-09 17:26
The lost art of getting completely and utterly lost
Categories: MediaTorrent

VIDEO: North Korea celebrates ruling party

BBC UK Ed. - Fri, 2015-10-09 17:23
North Korea is preparing to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party.
Categories: MediaTorrent

Reality TV Recaps for the Week of September 25

Newsweek - Fri, 2015-10-09 17:22

Trash Buffet is a weekly column at Newsweek, a digest covering the world of reality television spanning from the wonderful to the weird to the worst. We’ll cover five series over the course of a single season, handpicking the highlights and the opposite-of-highlights.

As a result of prolonged exposure to the warming gamma rays of reality television, dutiful viewers notice patterns begin to emerge. For example, people’s faces always get really red when they cry, almost like they’re trying to flex the tears out of their eyeballs with their cheek muscles. Stranger still, a little glitchy trope of cross-cutting I call the Self-Reflexive Edit is a constant across multiple programs—not just this week, but in numerous past weeks as well. Exchanges similar to the following are not at all uncommon:

PERSON: I can’t believe this is happening!
[cut to talking-head confessional]
PERSON: I couldn’t believe that that was happening.
[cut back to action]

I cannot for the life of me figure out why editors do this, or why it’s so common in reality subgenres. The only guess I can surmise would be that the programs do not trust that the audience possesses the observational powers or basic intellect to understand the events happening onscreen, and so they assume that all developments must be stated directly and in the least ambiguous language possible. This seems like a nasty thing to suppose, but why else would they make a person say “I was so happy!” if they assumed the audience could come to that conclusion independently?

Paranormal Witness is made up entirely of tautologies like this. Each program consists of a series of Self-Reflexive Edits strung together along the thin wire of a questionably true horror tall-tale that the program proudly touts as purely factual. Questions of knowing dishonesty aside, the run time of each installment could be cut in half with minimal difficulty—just dump all the footage in which the narrators repeat themselves. The core concept of the show—“person recounts a brush with the supernatural as SyFy dramatically restages it”—demands Self-Reflexive Edits like these. The whole hook is the thrill of seeing these anecdotes brought to life with chilling immediacy. And yet if the redundancies were eliminated and narrators stopped describing events exactly as they’re happening, what’s left over would be a forgettable, inessential horror movie with a “based on a true story” label. Ah, well. Hopefully next week will have something scarier to offer than a girl’s eyes turning white and speaking in garbled voice-box demon tones.

Trash Buffet’s Safety Tip of the Week: If you’re fleeing your home because you fear that a minion of the dark lord may be haunting it, and you know full well that you’ve got a life-threatening heart condition, don’t forget to grab your medication before you’re out of the house.

From the conceptual stages, Bizarre Foods was rife with the potential for incident. A white guy traveling all around the world sampling weirdo foods from exotic cultures? In the inaugural coverage last week, it almost felt like a clock, counting down to a tone-deaf instance of cultural appropriation or insensitivity, should be nestled discreetly in the corner of the screen. (It ticked especially loudly when host Andrew Zimmern described this week’s locale as “undeveloped and unspoiled.”) But Zimmern is understanding, respectful and restrained while interloping in foreign lands, never asserting his own whiteness with thoughtpiece-generating tactlessness. Beyond a chronicle of one man’s journey to ingest every earthly object that humankind has deigned to declare “edible,” Bizarre Foods represents a gesture of cross-cultural goodwill. It’s beautiful to see the boundaries between Zimmern and the uniformly friendly locals he encounters break down as he samples the cuisine. Music, slapstick humor and good food can unite those with disparate backgrounds.

This week’s installment sends Zimmern off to the craggy cliffs and rolling hills of Croatia to sample delicacies from the green zone between Mediterranean and Eastern European traditions. Zimmern manages to sniff out some truly outrageous culinary creations, too. He tries fried blood with onions, roasted doormouse cooked in “hot hotted mouse fat," which I can only assume translates back into Croatian as a slightly different series of words, and he’s a good sport when presented with stewed calves’ brains, describing them as having “a chalky, mineral flavor.” This is a remarkably diplomatic way of saying that something does not taste good, and a testament to Zimmern’s unflagging professionalism. The piece de resistance, however, is lamb organs cooked over an open flame while wrapped in the “paper-thin layer of caul fat around the liver” of the same lamb. The camera doesn’t spare the viewers the sight of Zimmern peeling the translucent fat layer with the same glee with which kindergartners peel dried glue off of their fingers. It is, in a word, harrowing.

Impromptu Lesson On Croatia’s Shifting National Identity: At one point, Zimmern speaks a little about the change in cultural tides around Croatia, as economic expansion necessary for growth at the national level threatens the sanctity of Croatia’s local culture. The term he’s looking for, or perhaps forbidden from saying out loud, is “globalization,” though at the local level, we call it “gentrification.” And just like that, a single episode of Bizarre Foods teaches viewers the sum total of most undergrad Intro to International Development classes!

After confronting Monica with challenges to her legitimacy from her sisters and father in the past couple episodes, this week’s installment of Monica the Medium retreats back to unquestioning acceptance of the efficacy of Monica’s powers to contact the dead. I don’t watch TLC outside of the programs enumerated here, so I don’t see too many commercials for their programming, but I like to believe that the promotional materials for this week’s episode of Monica the Medium used at least some variation on the phrase, “This week, the stakes are HIGHER. THAN. EVER.” Because they are! Monica spies a missing-person flyer tacked to a telephone pole and that gets her thinking perhaps it’s high time she used her unique talents to serve the greater good, rather than making strangers cry at restaurants.

Heretofore, Monica’s readings have been largely harmless, providing random passersby with the comforting words they so desperately want to hear. (If Monica did a reading and Spirit told her, “Oh, yeah, I hated those people so much. I’m glad I’m dead so I don’t have to deal with those jagoffs!” would she relay that message?) But in meddling with an actual missing-persons investigation, Monica’s powers stand to cause some real damage for the first time in the show’s history.

Curiously, at no point does Monica approach the police to offer her supernatural assistance—not that we see, anyway. Monica goes directly to the family placing the flyers around town and offers her services to them. But wait, you may think, if Monica can contact the missing person, wouldn’t that sort of be an admission that she’s died already? Not so, it conveniently turns out! Monica gives her previously unmentioned mentor a ring so that they might “double-link” to the missing party, a process through which two mediums can conjoin their abilities to reach those not yet dead. Alongside her thickly accented, garishly coiffed mentor, Monica goes through the same drill of relaying messages of love and support to those present. As if to seal the deal, one of the men searching for the missing person faces the camera and flatly states that he didn’t believe in mediums, but now he does. What convinced him is not entirely clear.

Number of Strangers Monica Has Abruptly Brought to the Point of Tears: 28 (to be kept as a running tally throughout the season)

  Monica the Medium 1x06 - Reading

What did you think of this reading from the last episode of #MonicatheMedium?

Posted by Monica the Medium on Sunday, October 4, 2015

At a glance, the situation that allowed Suddenly Royal to come into being is a little difficult to believe. That some random American could do a little investigation into his family tree, discover regal lineage and simply waltz off to Europe to claim his throne was an awful big pill to swallow. This week, the audience learns that that seemed untrue because it is; becoming a king in the U.K. is a bit more complex than having the right bloodline. Though the producers don’t lay out the specifics in too much detail, it seems the people of the Isle of Mann (charmingly referred to by the demonym “Manx”) must give their formal approval of any bid to claim the throne before the regent may accept his mantle. In this hour, David Howe travels around the island on a tour to curry favor with the locals, and finds to his great disappointment that many Manx folks aren’t too keen on the idea of an American with precious little understanding of the local culture becoming their new ruler.

Deep in the episode, the producers run through a montage of Manx locals expressing their distaste for the prospect of an American in the throne, sometimes even blatantly mocking or belittling David. This seems uncharacteristically mean-spirited for the light and fluffy tone of the program, and yet including this footage may be the wisest move the show’s made thus far.

David’s a pretty easy guy to make fun of, so showing real human beings dumping all over him and his reaction of vulnerability provides a vital reminder that, idiotic canned one-liners or no, he’s still a human being. His intentions are pure—he wants to have a knighting ceremony called an investiture to show that he’s grateful to the folks who helped him get set up in Mann and that he’s immersed himself in the local Manx tradition. And yet the men and women interviewed react with such outright hostility and derision that it’s impossible not to feel at least a little bad for the poor guy. As David’s close friend and personal adviser Lady Colin Campbell puts it during a much-needed session of real talk, “You can’t be mini-pregnant and you can’t have a mini-investiture.” It’s harsh, but she’s not wrong. If David sincerely hopes to become royal, and do so in a sudden fashion, he’ll have to commit more fully to his new life. Next week, his wife's outright refusal to move full-time to the Isle will throw that in jeopardy, but for now, David got a much-needed dose of sympathy.

Quote of the Week: “I got a D in German in high school. I still got elected vice president of the German club, but that was really more of a popularity contest.” -David Howe

The best episodes of The Office—which is to say, all of the best episodes of the reality TV form that Greg Daniels and NBC’s crew employed—created drama through suggestion. That which was implied rather than made explicit left a much greater impression, because it felt as if the viewer was getting a peek at something he or she shouldn’t be allowed to see. The series highlight, “Dinner Party,” placed a handful of Dunder Mifflinites in the middle of a nightmarish soirée thrown by Michael Scott and his emotionally abusive romantic opposite Jan, exposing peeks into the profound dysfunction of their unholy union throughout the evening. Now there’s nothing in this week’s episode of Sister Wives quite as disturbing as the bit in “Dinner Party” where Michael throws in the towel and straight-up accuses his girlfriend of being Satan, but they come pretty damn close.

Kody Brown’s family is falling apart. Sister-wife Meri made headlines recently when it was exposed that she had cheated on Kody, then made more headlines when it was revealed that she was catfished, then made even more headlines when it was revealed that most of the transcript of the conversations between her and the catfisher consist of her talking about what torture being married to Kody is. Meanwhile, Christine has her doubts about the viability of plural marriage and is seriously considering a separation from Kody after the lessons of their group therapy session last week don’t appear to have taken with him.

This week, the Brown family provides the folks at home with one of those delicious, unintended glimpses into the underlying turmoil of their home life. They register for a cardboard-boat race as part of Las Vegas’s grand Pirate Festival and inadvertently provide the show with a canny metaphor for their flagging union. The devilishly well-named S.S. Just Enough To Participate makes it onto the water following a laborious and uncooperative process of construction between an unduly impatient Kody and his family—and it stays afloat, too. But only barely. When Kody and his wives dock at the shore after coming in dead-last, they find that the boat would’ve sunk with another couple minutes on the water. They laugh it off, but the subtext is clear: The ship’s going down.

Bonus Quote of the Week: "Sometimes I’m a grumpypants and I don’t mean to be.” —Kody Brown, who is a fully-grown adult man

Categories: MediaTorrent

VIDEO: Fassbender and Winslet on Steve Jobs film

BBC UK Ed. - Fri, 2015-10-09 17:18
A new film about Apple co-founder Steve Jobs examines the man's life, personal relationships and gadgets.
Categories: MediaTorrent

TV Report Highlights Plight of Europe's Lost Refugee Children

Newsweek - Fri, 2015-10-09 17:13

The case of a 5-year-old Syrian boy, featured on the BBC program Panorama after he was discovered in Serbia with a black eye and a broken jaw and crying for his mother, has highlighted the soaring numbers of child refugees traveling in Europe without their parents as a result of the continent's refugee crisis.

The boy, Azam, had been sleeping on the ground when he was hit by a taxi in early September. He received some medical treatment for injuries in Belgrade, but disappeared before medical authorities could give him the proper treatment he required in a hospital. He vanished with an adult who claimed to be his father, although the boy said his real father was in Syria.

After the program aired, the hashtag #FindAzam became a trending topic on Twitter. This week, it has been used more than 8,000 times in places including Austria, Germany, France and Sweden. At the time of publishing, Azam has still not been found.

Azam is one of thousands of children traveling without parents, and who often go missing from camps or refugee centers. According to the latest available data from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, 23,160 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in 2014, and 2,240 of them were less than 14 years old. However, this figure does not take into account the numbers of children who do not apply for asylum or are not registered.

According to UNICEF, a total of 110,000 children sought asylum in Europe between January and July 2015—an average of over 18,000 children every month. The figure marks an 80 percent increase from the same period in 2014.

"There is a huge [number] of children arriving on their own in Europe right now," Delphine Moralis, secretary general of Missing Children Europe, a group that helps missing and sexually exploited children, tells Newsweek. The organization, which represents a network of 30 NGOs in 24 countries in Europe, says an estimated 50% of unaccompanied migrant children go missing from reception centers within the first 48 hours after their arrival, and many of these children are never found again. Some intentionally leave the centers because they have specific migration plans in mind or have agreed to meet people in different countries, explains Moralis. Others have met traffickers outside of the centers, and some are simply wary of lengthy and tough asylum application procedures and so run away.

"Azam's case is just one of many cases, one of many children who go missing. It's on the increase and it's very challenging and worrying," says Moralis. It's particularly worrying, she says, because unaccompanied children are vulnerable to trafficking, forced labor and sexual exploitation.

Many of the children are fleeing the ongoing war in Syria. Over four million Syrians—half of them children—have fled the country since the conflict started nearly five years ago, according to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).

Moralis explains that some of the children leave their home countries on their own, often sent by families who hope they will reach safety and the chance of a better life. Moralis says she has heard stories of parents who have sold their houses in order to pay for smugglers to take their children to Europe.

The journey to and through Europe is dangerous and harsh. The Daily Telegraph reported in September that three children, all under the age of 10, had been temporarily blinded by tear gas during clashes between refugees and Hungarian police, while another was reported as suffering a head wound on the Serbian border.

"These children are obviously very scared," says Carolyn Miles, president and chief executive officer of the charity Save the Children, who is currently based on the Greek island of Lesbos. She is working to reunite a 9-year-old Syrian who was separated from his family on the Turkish-Lebanese border, and turned back by Turkish authorities.

Last month, the FRA urged European leaders to address the situation, calling on member states—especially frontline states receiving refugees—to "mobilize their national child protection systems and provide them with additional emergency resources to ensure the well-being of all refugee children."

"As FRA has pointed out over the years, there is a need to ensure that member states uphold their duty to care for and protect children, especially now as so many are arriving at the EU's borders," a statement from the agency read. The FRA wants authorities to strengthen and harmonize child protection systems across the EU, as well as to guarantee adequate care and minimum reception standards at all times.

But Miles says the number of unaccompanied children is only going to rise this year. "Now you're seeing a huge flood of refugees in Europe just in the last year, so there will be more and more unaccompanied children because they got lost, or their families say they should leave Syria and go on their own. Those numbers will definitely go up this year."

Categories: MediaTorrent

Times of Israel Creates Persian Edition to Reduce Hostility With Iran

Newsweek - Fri, 2015-10-09 17:08

A prominent Israeli news website has launched a new edition for Persian speakers aimed at "reducing hostilities" with Iran.

The Times of Israel, an English-language news website about Israeli domestic and foreign affairs, announced the edition with an article written by the site's editor, David Horovitz, telling Persian speakers "Khosh Amadid!" a greeting that translates as "Welcome!"

"The Times of Israel's Persian edition is emphatically aimed at opening communications with all Persian speakers, inside and outside Iran, and reflects our conviction that decent journalism is potent in reducing hostility and smashing stereotypes," wrote Horovitz.

This is the first time that an Israeli publication has attempted to connect with the Persian-speaking world, Horovitz says. The site will be overseen by Persian editor Avi Davidi under the domain fa.timesofisrael.com.

The new Persian edition of The Times of Israel. fa.timesofisrael.com

Davidi said the site will give readers a direct interaction with Israel, in contrast to the hostile coverage towards Israel in the Iranian press while telling them things about the Iranian regime that it would not want them to know.

Iran's hardline leadership, particularly Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has called for the destruction of Israel. In an address in Tehran last month, Khamenei predicted that Israel will soon no longer exist.

"With Allah's help," Khamenei said, according to Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, "there will be no such thing as a Zionist regime in 25 years."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long been a critic of Iran's nuclear program and in July called a landmark nuclear deal struck between Tehran and six world powers a mistake of "historic proportions."

Despite being an Islamic Republic, Iran has a Jewish population of 9,000, the largest in the Middle East apart from Israel and Turkey.

Categories: MediaTorrent

Hillary Clinton’s Three Options for Handling the TPP if She Becomes President

ForeignPolicy blog - Fri, 2015-10-09 17:07
Now that Clinton has come out against the trade deal, what could she do about it if she's elected?
Categories: GlobalWire

Leaked (final?) TPP Intellectual Property chapter spells doom for free speech online

BoingBoing - Fri, 2015-10-09 17:05

Wikileaks has published a leaked draft -- dated Oct, 5, and thus possibly the final text -- of the "Intellectual Property Chapter" of the Trans Pacific Partnership, and it's grim reading. (more…)

Categories: Crunknet

Justin Bieber Reveals His ‘Purpose’ Album Art Through Instagram

Newsweek - Fri, 2015-10-09 17:05

You can renew your faith in Justin again, Beliebers. The Canadian pop star turned bad boy is back with a new album, Purpose, and he unveiled its artwork on Friday in nine separate photos on Instagram. The album art was revealed through a multiple grid on Bieber’s Instagram account, in succession to form a symmetrical grid on his feed, and it features a reverent Bieber, head bowed and cross tattoo situated between his hands. The artwork was crafted by Los Angeles–area graffiti artist Retna, who drew cryptic graffiti symbols in front of Bieber.

Specific details on Purpose have not been released thus far, save for the tease of two chart-topping singles, “What Do You Mean?” and the Skrillex and Diplo collaborative single “Where Are U Now.” But the panel-by-panel unveiling revealed a few crucial things about Purpose. First off, the album will be released in “#5weeks,” according to the photo captions, which would mean a November 13 drop.

The album may also have a religious flair. Of course, Bieber’s philosophical kick isn’t new. A previous Instagram post featured Bieber looking pensive, with the caption: “Seek and you will find me—God.” But judging from the album’s title and the distinctly prayer-like stance he’s in on the album’s artwork, it may finally be reflected in his music.

Fortunately for fans, though Bieber’s sound has matured over the years—evolving from crooners like “Never Say Never” to R&B slow jams to his current downtempo EDM-tinged tracks—the new artwork shows that the dude still loves being shirtless.

Historically, the Biebz has been a fan of the slow, gradual reveal. Earlier this year, he direct messaged a select few of his Twitter fans with mysterious drawings of clocks bearing snippets of lyrics to his single "What Do You Mean?" His last album, Journals, featured tracks that were released once a week from October 2013 to December 2013.

But for this latest roll-out, he may have taken a cue from Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky, who back in April unveiled At.Long.Last.A$AP using the multiple-photo grid technique. (A$AP is a notorious Instagram innovator, and he has been using his account as a revolving art installation. In May, he collaborated with artist Robert Gallardo to bring followers a photo experience in which, over the course of 10 hours, he shared over 150 photographs of an evolving grayscale gradient comprised of Polaroids, paintings and pattern work, according to BuzzFeed. It lost him about 100,000 confused followers in the process, but it was an ingenious way to attract attention to his upcoming album.) But Justin Bieber has one of the most popular accounts on Instagram, boasting 40 million followers to date (compared with Rocky’s 2.1 million), meaning that music marketing on Instagram just took a whole different turn.

It’s fitting too that Instagram recently launched @Music, an account on the app that follows the movements of musicians on Instagram, and features “off-the-beaten path, hard-to-find accounts,” as Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom was quoted as saying to BBC. Whether it’ll take off is a different question: As of press time, the account has a mere 498,000 followers.

But @Music has one thing going for it: The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. In our tl;dr (too long, didn’t read) era, musicians and other artists are pretty much required to acquiesce to the image-driven demands of their fans if they hope to successfully market their new projects. Now it seems that even Justin is a Belieber.

Categories: MediaTorrent

Watch: New Trailer For 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies'

Newsweek - Fri, 2015-10-09 17:01

Lionsgate has released a new trailer for its Jane Austen adaptation Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and it is exactly what you were probably expecting. 

The film stars Lily James as Elizabeth Bennet, alongside Sam Riley as the dreamy Mr. Darcy. James, best-known for her role in  Downton Abbey, will also appear alongside British model Suki Waterhouse and previous Doctor Who incarnation Matt Smith.

The trailer begins in standard Austen adaptation mode: gentle piano music and a magnificent house accompanied by a voiceover about the qualities a 19th century woman needs to survive in society. Then, half way through, a zombie appears in the background smeared in blood. Quite the plot twist.

The British ensemble must learn how to fight the undead in Austen's classic novel of love and social status in Regency-era England. Based on Seth Grahame-Smith's parodic novel of the same name, which combines Austen's 1813 classic with elements of modern zombie fiction, Elizabeth and the rest of the Bennet sisters put their polite etiquette to one side to battle the hordes of the brain-hungry undead.

The move is set for release February 5.

Categories: MediaTorrent

Twitter Plans Layoffs Next Week: Report

Newsweek - Fri, 2015-10-09 17:01

Twitter Inc. is planning company-wide layoffs next week, technology news website Re/code reported on Friday, citing sources.

The news comes after Jack Dorsey was appointed permanent chief executive on Monday.

It is unclear how many of Twitter's staff will be laid off, but it is likely it will affect most departments, Re/code said, citing company insiders.

The company employs about 4,100 people in more than 35 offices around the world, according to its website.

Twitter's layoffs come at the same time as it restructures its engineering organization to make it more efficient, Re/code reported.

It is likely that many of the people impacted by the layoffs will be engineers, the report said.

"We’re not commenting on rumor and speculation," Twitter spokeswoman Natalie Miyake told Reuters.

Categories: MediaTorrent

Help convince LEGO to produce "Lovelace and Babbage" play set / Raspberry Pi case

BoingBoing - Fri, 2015-10-09 16:49

This delightful Lovelace & Babbage Analytical Engine is gathering support on LEGO Ideas (formerly CUUSOO) where the community can up-vote fan-made play sets into consideration for production.

Featuring Lada Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, this set pays beautiful, Victorian tribute to their collaboration on the mechanical general-purpose computer of his design, including her pioneering work in creating the algorithm that would be used to program it.


What's more, the lovely, monochromatic Analytical Engine model can be used to house a Raspberry Pi Linux computer. Swoon.

Creator Stewart Lamb Cromar also proposes two bonus sets, an "Ada Junior Classroom" and a "Babbage Tea Party".

If you're interested in making this set a reality, please head to LEGO Ideas and support the project. Currently at around 3000 votes, they require 10,000 to be reviewed by LEGO for possible production.

Lovelace ande LEGO Ideas set 

Categories: Crunknet

MTA Not Pleased ‘Muslims Are Coming!’ Ads Are Coming

Newsweek - Fri, 2015-10-09 16:44

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has issued a strong reaction to a Wednesday court ruling that it must allow ads for a film titled The Muslims Are Coming! On Friday, it said that while the judge termed the ads "mere humorous statements that American Muslims are 'just like other Americans,'" the MTA "disagrees" and "will continue to strive to apply its new advertising standards fairly and uniformly."

“Luckily, it’s not up to the MTA to decide who Americans are,” says Negin Farsad, co-creator of The Muslims Are Coming!, which follows Muslim-American comedians as they tour Middle America, trying to combat Islamophobia. “They clearly take issue with the judge likening us to any other American.”

“It shows just how much we need the legal system to protect us in these cases,” she continues. “I’m really stunned that as an agency that services New York City so well in so many cases, that they are so wrong on this issue."

After a nearly six-month back-and-forth over everything from word usage to font size, Farsad says, the MTA approved the ads and scheduled them to run in April and May. But then weeks later, after adopting a new advertising policy prohibiting political messages, the MTA reversed its decision, determining that the posters were political. The rejection prompted the film's production company to sue the MTA in June.

Two posters from The Muslims are Coming! ad campaign. The Muslims are Coming!

On Wednesday, the judge ruled against the MTA, calling it "utterly unreasonable" for the MTA to conclude, without having clearly articulated its advertisement standards, that the word "Muslims" is inherently political. But the MTA disagrees. An MTA spokesman tells Newsweek:

The MTA is continuing to review yesterday’s decision in Vaguely Qualified Productions v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority.  The MTA is pleased that the court re-affirmed several points of critical importance.  First, it confirmed that “transit authorities are entitled to enact advertising policies that restrict political speech.”  Second, it confirmed that the MTA’s review of ads under its current advertising policy are subject to a reasonable and viewpoint neutral standard.

The MTA had initially approved, under its former advertising standards, the Muslims are Coming ads, whose sponsors had explained were both responding to ads posted earlier by the American Freedom Defense Initiative and promoting a movie. But after adopting a new advertising policy prohibiting political ads, the MTA determined that the Muslims are Coming ads were political. The court, however, has now concluded that the ads are more appropriately characterized as mere humorous statements that American Muslims are “just like other Americans.” Though the MTA disagrees, MTA will continue to strive to apply its new advertising standards fairly and uniformly.

"The judge...pointed out that we were treated very differently than other clients [who] were getting political posters through this system without much scrutiny,” says Farsad. “But we were scrutinized heavily, down to font. To me that goes to show that the MTA had felt that unlike other Americans, we deserved that extra scrutiny. And this statement just further clarifies that.”

With a series of anti-Muslim rallies planned for Saturday at mosques and other Islamic sites around the country, The Muslims Are Coming! co- creator Dean Obeidallah suggests the time is right for the ads to run. “The message of the film is needed more now than when we released given the spike in anti-Muslim sentiment,” says Obeidallah.

According to an MTA spokesman, the MTA is continuing to review the court’s decision, suggesting it may appeal.   

“I want the MTA to know, even though they lost, we can work together, and I still love me some F train,” says Farsad. “We're just gonna make that train ride a little funnier.”

“If they don’t appeal, then the ads will be up in 140 subway stations in the near future, but not sure if that is a few weeks or a month or more,” adds Obeidallah. “I hope this victory encourages not just people in our community but any group who feels like their rights have been trampled on.”

Categories: MediaTorrent

Canadian Tories funneled $8M in tax money to US Republican Party's NGO

BoingBoing - Fri, 2015-10-09 16:40

Under the Stephen Harper government, $8M was given to the John McCain-chaired International Republican Institute, a non-governmental organization started by the US Republican party to advocate for right-wing policies abroad. (more…)

Categories: Crunknet

Russia hopes for Grand Prix boost

BBC UK Ed. - Fri, 2015-10-09 16:30
Russia will take the Formula 1 centre stage this weekend in Sochi, and race organisers hope it can boost tourism and also fuel interest in motorsport.
Categories: MediaTorrent

New rules for SeaWorld orca whales

BBC UK Ed. - Fri, 2015-10-09 16:26
California authorities have approved an expansion of SeaWorld's aquarium tanks, home to their 11 orca whales.
Categories: MediaTorrent

England 2-0 Estonia

BBC UK Ed. - Fri, 2015-10-09 16:24
England maintain their 100% record in qualifying for Euro 2016 with a comfortable victory over Estonia at Wembley.
Categories: MediaTorrent

Firstborn Kids More Likely to Be Nearsighted

Newsweek - Fri, 2015-10-09 16:21

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a common vision problem that affects as much as 30 percent of the U.S. population. Researchers have identified a number of factors that may figure into why a person’s ability to see distances may deteriorate early in life. Part of the reason is certainly your DNA, though researchers have found genetic inheritance accounts for only a small number of people with myopia. The work of the modern world, where we all stare at computer screens hours each day, could also explain rising rates of nearsightedness. And now a new study finds birth order may also play a role in vision problems.

The study, published Thursday in JAMA Ophthalmology, looked at data from the UK Biobank, an initiative to track health and disease trends in the country, which was started by the government in partnership with a number of medical institutions. All subjects were white, between the ages of 40 and 69, and had vision assessments with no history of eye disorders. After adjusting for factors such as age and gender, the researchers found firstborn individuals were about 10 percent more likely to be nearsighted. They were also about 20 percent more likely to have severe distance vision problems than later-born individuals.

The authors suggested that nearsightedness may be more common among firstborn children due to the overzealous efforts of parents to encourage academic achievement and learning. This could mean eldest children end up doing activities that predisposes them to myopia—spending more time inside and on the computer, for example (other recent research has found children who are outdoors more often have better distance vision). By the time a second or third child comes around, parents may become a little more lax about academically enriching but eye-straining activities.

To test their hypothesis, the researchers then adjusted their data for “education exposure”—specifically, whether the individual had received a full-time education and their highest degree earned. After that, the researchers observed the association between birth order and myopia decreased by approximately 25 percent.

"These results add to the extensive literature implicating a role for education in the etiology of myopia,” the researchers wrote in the study. “Although a causal relationship cannot be confirmed using observational data."

Categories: MediaTorrent

Why everyone needs a weaponized spatula

BoingBoing - Fri, 2015-10-09 16:20

In the latest episode of the Cool Tools Show podcast, Kevin Kelly and I interviewed Andrew Leonard about some of his favorite tools. (more…)

Categories: Crunknet

New iPhones use LTE on any American carrier, despite the way they're listed

MacWorld - Fri, 2015-10-09 16:16

The new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus each come in two models that work on global LTE networks; a third set caters to China’s unique network demands. Some confusion resulted from Apple’s update to its LTE compatibility page, which seemed to imply that the model for AT&T’s network wouldn’t work over LTE on Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint’s networks. But that’s not the case, as Apple confirmed for Macworld.

Buy any non-Chinese model, and it will work over LTE (and regular networks) on any American carrier. There’s just one small difference with AT&T involving additional frequencies it has a long-term plan to deploy fully.

The confusion arises in part because the explanation and split among supported networks is somewhat different with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. With the 2014 phones, the model oriented toward AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon lacked some bands primarily used elsewhere in the world. That’s been resolved in the 6s/6s Plus, and Apple could be clearer about communicating it.

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Categories: AppleCore
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