FACT: Donald Trump would force schools to allow guns in classrooms on his first day in office.
http://www.vice.com/536780 Mike Pearl news news http://www.vice.com/read/how-domestic-violence-feeds-the-mass-shooting-epidemic-in-america Fri, 20 May 2016 19:30:00 +0000
Over the past seven days, America has witnessed four
mass shootings that left four dead and 12 injured. These attacks bring the
US mass shooting body count so far this year to 110 dead and 384 injured in
Meanwhile, Europe suffered zero
mass shootings last week, holding the continent’s body count in such
attacks in 2016 steady at 18 dead and 55 injured.
That doesn’t mean that the week was totally quiet for Europe.
On Saturday, a well-reported
brawl in a Moscow, Russia, cemetery involving at least 200 combatants
reportedly using everything from shovels to firearms left at least three dead
and 23 wounded. At around the same time, a police operation
searching for a murderer in the city of Derbent in Russia’s Dagestan
Republic went south when allegedly ISIS-linked militants attacked the cops,
ultimately killing two and wounding upwards of a dozen. But while these attacks
were massive, neither clearly qualifies as a mass shooting as it seems that very few of
the casualties in either stemmed from firearms—in the former melee weapons and in
the latter grenades were likely behind the bulk of the damage.
Most of America’s mass shootings didn’t receive as much
widespread attention as Moscow’s massive scrum—likely because they appeared, by American standards, almost routine. On Saturday, a late-night shooting
at a bar in Charleston, West Virginia left one dead and three injured. Almost
exactly a day later, another bar shooting in Evansville, Indiana, left another
four wounded. And on Wednesday, a street shooting in Indianapolis, Indiana, wounded
yet four more.
The only mass shooting that drew widespread media attention
in the US over the past few days was a widely-reported domestic incident Tuesday in
which cops say a 23-year-old man in Ravenel, South Carolina, killed his girlfriend’s
mother, sister (who was pregnant with twins), and eight-year-old niece in their mobile
home just as she arrived. He then chased her into the open, shot her in the
leg, and fired his gun wildly as he dragged her down the street by the hair and
tried to drive away with her.
Domestic incidents don’t account for nearly as many US mass
shootings as, say, escalated fights in nightspots. In 2016, just eight out of 103
incidents to date have clearly stemmed from familial or partner disputes or
violence. But all of these incidents have been gruesome, both in their body
counts and the details that emerged from them. To wit, although not as
notorious as the Piketon, Ohio, massacre or the Hesston, Kansas, or Kalamazoo,
Michigan, mass shooting sprees, a domestic incident-turned-mass shooting on February 23 in Phoenix, Arizona, and another on January 27 in Chesapeake,
Virginia, had two of the largest mass shooting death tolls this year—four and
five dead respectively. And the accounts of
these assaults also rival high-profile cases in terms of their gory details, amplified by an intangible sense of betrayal.
Given what Michigan State University criminologist David L.
VICE last week about how it’s usually easier to catch a suspect or get witnesses to talk when the attacker and victims knew each other, one might
expect some of the eye-catching horrors of domestic-related mass
shootings stems from the fact that their circumstances and
motives are clearer.
But data collected by the gun violence prevention
for Gun Safety and analyzed by the Huffington Post suggest domestic-related mass shootings may actually be uniquely horrific. Whereas they make up a minority of mass shootings as VICE
defines them and often receive less attention than random public shooter
rampages, when you look at shootings between 2009 and
2015 involving four or more deaths, 57 percent of these especially lethal incidents involved
intimate partners or family members. Often unfolding in confined spaces, it’s easy to see how these shootings
can become concentrated bloodbaths if enough people are in a house. Nearly two-thirds of the victims in these incidents are women and children as well,
whereas what we might call the “traditional” victims of gun violence and other mass shootings tend to be men.
disproportionally high body counts, unusual victims, and a violation of the
safety of homes make these not-so-uncommon types of mass shootings seem especially cruel.
Tragically, many domestic shootings (mass or otherwise)
clear signs of violence by the shooters. The alleged Ravenel shooter, for
instance, was arrested last August after reportedly hitting the girlfriend he
eventually shot; she was pregnant at the time. Despite these red flags, these violent partners or family members (usually men) often manage to retain
their guns or obtain them through unregulated or illicit channels. Various advocacy groups have pointed out this problem and multiple ways in which it might be
addressed—without infringing on the rights of law-abiding, non-violent gun
owners. But there seems to be limited, if any, national desire to address
this problem, which allows especially deadly and horrific
mass shootings like Ravenel to happen far too often.
Follow Mark Hay on Twitter.
http://www.vice.com/536750 Mark Hay news news http://www.vice.com/read/we-spoke-with-the-scientist-studying-how-to-live-as-long-as-possible Fri, 20 May 2016 19:30:00 +0000
Image by Lia Kantrowitz
The Gerontology Research Group was founded by a guy named Dr. Stephen Coles who was obsessed with slowing or reversing aging. He didn’t succeed; cancer killed him at the relatively young age of 73. However, his brain was frozen with the hope that he could continue his studies once the technology existed to upload his memory to a computer. The website dedicated to his life’s work seems similarly frozen in time––an Angelfire-esque relic of web 1.0. Meanwhile, as Coles’s acolytes wait for his resurrection, they’re busy verifying the claims of people who say they’re supercentenarians, that is, over the age of 110. Although the group doesn’t seem to be hosting events any longer, they still have ambassadors all over the world digging through records as well as a network of scientists scientists trying to stave off the inevitable human end for as long as possible.
About two weeks ago, I woke up with a numbness in my hand. I interpreted this sensation to mean that I’m dying, because I’m an adult child. And naturally, as a coping mechanism, I became very interested in the GRG’s research. After all, it’s very calming to read about a lady who smoked cigarettes for a literal century and maintained a pulse until she was 122.
Eventually I decided to confront my mortal terror even more directly by calling the director of the GRG’s research and database division. Robert Young (real name) was a kid who corrected people’s grammar at the age of two and then grew into the kind of adult who brags about his former precociousness in conversation. But he also has an obsessive mind when it comes to statistics and knows more about death than anyone alive. My hypochondria wasn’t cured through our chat, but the gerontologist did teach me about the maximum human lifespan and what getting older means on a cellular level, as well as the story of the woman they call the “Michael Jordan of aging.”
VICE: Have you always been interested in studying super old people, even as a kid?
Robert Young: The fact of the matter is that I became interested in this when I was a small child––about three-and-a-half. My great-great uncle was a World War I veteran and he passed away, and basically what happened was I asked my mother why he died, and she said, “Well, because he was old.” So I thought in my mind that if old people died first, I wanna be friends with the old people so I can remember them while they’re still here. And his wife, my great-great aunt, was 85 at the time, and she ended up living to 96 years, 361 days old. And that really kind of made me upset, because she died just four days short of 97. So I went from being interested in the maximum life span to more specifically keeping track of ages.
I got my first Guinness Book of World Records at the age of 10. Most of the oldest people were female, except for the title holder, who was a male, and he was 118. And no one else was older than 113. Something didn’t look right. That got me interested in age validation, and later it turned out he was actually 15 years younger.
What’s the goal of the GRG? Do you want to live forever?
So basically at the moment it has two main departments. One is run by the successor of Dr. Coles, who founded the GRG in 1990 and passed away in 2014 at the age of––unfortunately––only 73. The goal was for other scientists to get together and discuss the aging process and discuss potential treatments for the aging process. The idea at the time was that Western medicine was too focused on treating the symptoms of aging and not focused on treating the causes of aging. The idea was that if you put a bunch of bright minds together, you would get good results.
What’s the history of age validation?
It started in the 1800s with life insurance policies. Actuaries were trying to figure out how long people lived to calculate rate for those policies. Except for the small niche field of actuarial research, very little research was done into supercentenarians.
There was no database when the GRG decided to start keeping track in 1998. About 1 in 5 million people in the US are 110 and older, and before the internet came along there was no way to assemble someone that rare into data groups. But when the internet came along, we could get information from all over the world, and it became viable to study them as a population group. Things have changed so fast since the GRG went online in 1995, almost 21 years ago. Smart phones came around 2007, 2008. Go back to 2004 and Ancestry.com only had 20 percent of the US census data online. Go back to 2000 and if you wanted to find a document on an extremely old person, you had to use the old hand-crank newsreel. Wow. It could take hours upon hours to look on every line of every page.
I feel like there’s a story every month about the world’s oldest person dying. Are you ever like “Oh shit, how’d we miss her?” Or do you ever see people being reported on that you know are liars?
So here’s the thing. There’s a misconception that the world’s oldest person dies all the time. Not true. Since Guinness started keeping track in 1955, the average length of reign has been about 1.06 years. Part of the problem though is that we do have unverified claims of people saying they’re older than the oldest person and that gets reported by the media. If you go online you can look up Typologies of Extreme Longevity Myths, a study of Social Security Administration data showed that over 98 percent claims turned out to be false. And the US data is among the best in the world. So you can imagine if you’re trying to look at places like Nigeria and Pakistan where 110 years ago, those records did not exist.
You also get what’s called the longevity myth, which is where people’s imaginations exceed reality. So if you don’t have a record of when you’re born and you’re going to guesstimate your age, and after the age of 80, people begin to inflate their age. Before 80, people understate their age. I think this is because of youth, vanity. But when people reach the point that age is something you don’t wanna hide and be proud of––usually this involves the great grandmothers or the oldest person in the village––then it becomes a source of pride. The other thing is there’s a fear of death. To hear a story about how there’s a 130-year-old living out in the woods in the middle of nowhere sounds great.
Give it to me straight. What is the longest I could possibly live?
Scientifically speaking, the odds of anyone ever living to 127 at the moment are one in a trillion, which means it’s not happening. Living to anywhere between 115 and 120, you have what I call “probable impossible,” I’d say there’s about a 1 percent chance, but there’s still a possibility. Between 120 and 127, the odds of surviving really begin to disappear totally. When we look at the statistics, we have currently 2,500 cases of people 110 plus. Of those, by the age of 118, only two. When you’re going from 2,500 to two in just eight years, to me that’s scary. That’s just that there’s a maximum life span. The death result is much higher than random chance––if you got hit by a bus, got shot, got sick. There must be a biological component. And studies show that there’s a maximum life span for every mammal that’s different. The oldest cat was 38. The oldest dog was about 30. The oldest mouse was four. The oldest elephant was 78. The oldest human was 122. Whales seem to live longer than humans. The oldest one on record was 211. Tortoises live to about 200.
Don’t lobsters live forever or something?
Here’s the thing. Some species such as lobsters and clams manage to get around aging by continuing to grow. Clams add a ring each year, lobsters continue to grow larger. Humans stop growing between 20 and 25. Most species stop growing and start aging. Then it becomes an issue of what your biological time clock is set to.
Humans seem to have a warranty period of about 100 years. The average cell divides every two years. Cells divide about 50 times. To get to 115, you’d have to age about 15 percent slower than normal. Basically, Jeanne Calment, who lived to be 122, was called the Michael Jordan of aging. The point was that all the practice in the world isn’t going to make you play basketball like Michael Jordan. OK? On the other hand, if Michael Jordan never practiced, he wouldn’t be as good as he was. So you have to fulfill your potential by trying to do the best you can do, but at the same time, you can’t make yourself a longevity star.
Earlier you mentioned that we should focus on treating aging itself rather than symptoms. I don’t think I even know what aging is.
That is an issue. Scientists don’t agree on what aging is. You have the entropic metabolic processes resulting in accumulated damage due to inefficient operation over time. So there’s intrinsic aging, which means biological aging, and external aging, which is effects. For example, you’re more likely to age faster if you’re in the sunlight all the time. That’s a secondary effect. You’re more likely to age faster if you smoke cigarettes.
Right now 48 of the 50 oldest people to have ever lived were women. Why?
Some ideas in the past came around that were discredited. For example, they said that it was about menopause and hormones. What we’ve found from the data at the GRG is that women outlive men at every age, including in the womb. Males are conceived at a ratio of about 125 to 100 over females by birth. This is biological compensation. Male fetuses have a higher mortality rate. Males outnumber females by about 105 to 100. The greater mortality rate means by about age 13, women are equal to men. This seems to be a biological effect. There’s a concept called the Double X hypothesis. The Y chromosome is much smaller, and the vast majority of your DNA profile is around X. Normally, if a man has a mistake on the first X, like the genetic defect for colorblindness, he’s basically toast. He’s going to be colorblind. But on a woman, they are much less likely to be colorblind because they would have to have the mistake on both X’s, so they get two chances to get it right as opposed to just one.
What countries have the oldest people? Is there a diet or lifestyle or place that has a particularly high concentration of supercentenarians?
The maximum human life span is the same everywhere. When Susannah Mushatt Jones passed away on May 12, she was 116. And the oldest person in Europe was 116. The oldest person in Japan was 115. Very close together. Although the US doesn’t have anybody who’s 116 at the moment. The oldest person in North America lives in Jamaica and is 116. What we see is variation by region is very small.
There is some variation based on environment and lifestyle issues. You can add two or three years or minus. Supercentenarians tends to do better in warmer climates. It’s interesting––Sweden hasn’t had anyone yet over the age of 113. Places like the Carribbean, South Japan, South Europe, the Meditterraen tend to do well. But you have to understand, we’re relying on the record systems of these places from 110 years ago and approximately 98 percent of the records available are going to be from regions like North America, Europe, South America, Australia, Japan. There are vast regions of the world that had no records or almost no records––for example, Saudi Arabia. Some of the rulers of Saudi Arabia in the past didn’t have birth records. China had birth registration by the 1950s, so by the 2060s, we’re going to see some good data from China.
I don’t think I could find my birth certificate if I had to. If I live to be old, how would you verify my age?
A lot of the records are online. The key today is making sure the person alive is the person in the birth record. So basically, we need three keys for validation. One at or near the birth event. We need unique identifiers that allow you to identify the person in the birth record with the person alive today. We want recent identification showing the person and what they look like. And we want a mid-life record, such as a marriage certificate or a war record or something like that to help flesh out the story. If the person stayed in the same town for most of their life, if they stayed connected with their family, if they show up in census matches, it can be fairly easy to validate that the person alive today is in the person in the birth record. If the person disappeared off the grid, it becomes a problem.
Do you get the sense that it’s even worth living that long? Is there any quality of life at 115?
I’ve probably met over 50 who are 110 plus. It can vary. One of the things that’s clear to me is that you can’t put them all in one category. We had one woman who was 116 who lived in her own home, she could walk with a walker, she ate Wendy’s, she watched TV, she could do an interview. That’s the ultimate extreme case of living well and hanging out with the great, great grandkids. On the other hand, we had a woman who was confined to bed for 21 hours a day, awake for only three, unable to get up. That’s a sad situation where maybe it’s not worth it. Most people are somewhere in the middle. One more thing I wanna say is that the people who live the oldest are in the best shape. So almost everybody that lives to be 115 was living on their own at 100. So we need to get rid of this idea of, “I’m going to be 30 years in a nursing home.” It’s not like that.
What kills people who are that old?
Pneumonia is a big killer for 115 plus. Scientists don’t wanna say this, but in many cases, it’s just the aging process itself. There are times when they are simply in their room and fall asleep and never wake up.
I read on your website that Dr. Coles was frozen. What’s the deal with that?
His brain was frozen. Well the idea is that in the future, we may be able to upload people’s memories on a computer. The technology doesn’t currently exist for that. So if you freeze the person’s brain, you might be able to encode the memories maybe 100 years from now.
Is that something you’re interested in?
I’m not sure yet. One thing you have to understand is that it’s probably $100,000 . I think in Dr. Cole’s case the Alcor Life Extension Foundation agreed to preserve his brain. Dr. Coles was involved in so many different fields––robotics, artificial intelligence. So looking at it from that perspective, if you’re going to preserve a great mind, why not have it be someone like Dr. Coles?
So the absolute maximum human age is 122, right? And in my lifetime, will I see that increase?
The observed ceiling is 122. Scientists have calculated that if you have 100 hypothetical universes, and the total number of persons whose births, deaths, and other records were recorded in vital statistics 110 plus years ago was over 800 million, the odds of one person reaching 122 was about 13 percent. Which means there was only a one in seven chance that Jeanne Calment would happen. Which is not that extreme. But the bottom line is that it was more likely not to happen. But I would say 125 is the realistic estimate for the limit, and 127 is possible if everything went right. It could happen in the future.
No mammal species has broken through the maximum life span barriers with the help of scientists. Only fruit flies. It’s going to take a lot more research to get to that. But beyond scientific breakthroughs, a person living today has a better life trajectory than the person who lived 110 year ago. Susannah Mushatt Jones, who was 116, was born into a segregated world in Alabama. Her family used the barter system. They were extremely poor. They didn’t have decent health care. So I think that we’re still going to see gains because people in the past who didn’t have these benefits managed to live to 116. With these benefits, I think you could add another five, or even seven years.
Follow Allie Conti on Twitter.
http://www.vice.com/536028 Allie Conti http://www.vice.com/read/how-an-unofficial-mcdonalds-museum-is-helping-one-man-achieve-his-destiny Fri, 20 May 2016 19:35:00 +0000
Albert Okura in the unofficial McDonald’s museum. All photos by Justin Caffier
Albert Okura is a man obsessed with his destiny. The third-generation Japanese-American believes it was his destiny when he founded Juan Pollo, a Mexican-themed rotisserie chicken restaurant chain, in 1984. As he puts it, he is fated to roast more chickens than any man on Earth. By his own estimates, he’s already personally cooked over one million birds. But he is far from done.
Okura also operates an unofficial McDonald’s museum in San Bernardino, California, on the site of the chain’s first ever restaurant. This too plays a role in his destiny fulfillment, and he will do anything—including swapping bodies—to ensure this destiny is fulfilled. But more on that later.
The site where the museum stands was originally home to an octagonal shack where brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald served barbecue-smoked meats and tamales to local teens and Route 66 tourists in the 1940s. Today, Okura’s museum houses old photos and memorabilia, chronicling the growth of the chain—from its humble pre-war beginnings, to its Ray Kroc-helmed franchise explosion, to its current international sprawl.
Okura greeted me at the museum’s entrance and immediately made it known that the site is in no way, shape, or form affiliated with the McDonald’s corporation.
“They don’t officially recognize us and they haven’t made official contact, but I know they’re monitoring us,” Okura told me. “They understandably don’t want us capitalizing off their name. I own a restaurant business and I have my office here, but I don’t promote that part. I just see this as such a historically significant place.”
And it’s easy to believe Okura when he says that. He’s very careful to stay within the letter of the law with the museum. He explained that while he can make reference to the historic nature of the site, he can’t claim any corporate affiliation with McDonald’s. There are no gentle nudges for “donations” that you might find at other attractions that pepper the towns of historic Route 66. He’s able to display the bronze plaque which notes the site as a landmark, but only because it happened to come with the property—another indicator of “destiny,” as Okura sees it.
Okura showed me shelves filled with every conceivable bit of history from the restaurant’s early days: Autographed photos of the restaurant’s employees. Tiles saved from another early McDonald’s location, which was shut down and bulldozed. Even an early straw wrapper, from the original restaurant, flattened and framed.
“I want to find the story behind each item,” Okura said, which explained why the walls and cases were plastered with handwritten notes detailing the origins of each object. Cardboard boxes of foreign entrées, promotional tie-in placemats, and various, horrifying iterations of Ronald McDonald were everywhere, and Okura had a story for each one.
We made our way to the back section of the room where Happy Meal toys—both international and domestic—were shelved. For some reason, two entire cases were devoted to a hodgepodge of “competitor toys,” from restaurants like Wendy’s and Burger King.
That’s the thing about this place: There’s a massive collection of “stuff” in the museum, but not much curation. Okura’s policy that no item is too trivial for his McRepository left me feeling like I was in the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, unsure of where to direct my attention.
But this place is no joke to Okura. He belongs to a dying breed of people who still see the American Dream as an attainable reality, and his McDonald’s fandom is rooted in his idolatry of the three men who made the company what it is today. He’s read all the books about and by them, and eagerly awaits the forthcoming biopic, The Founder, which tells the story of the chain’s formative years, ending with Ray Kroc leading the brand to global domination.
Like Kroc, Okura plans to turn his restaurant, which currently has over 25 locations, into an international staple. Okura gave me a copy of his book, The Chicken Man With a 50 Year Plan, pointing out that he purposefully wore sunglasses for the cover photo, so that people might mistakenly assume he was Hispanic, not Asian, thus lending authenticity to his Mexican-themed chicken chain.
Okura invited me to try Juan Pollo’s chicken for myself, so I followed him to his restaurant. While I ate—half a chicken, with a side of macaroni casserole and beans, at Okura’s recommendation—he told me about his three adult children. It wasn’t just fatherly boasting. They too are part of his master plan. All three studied business, and are set to take over the chain and expand it to the social media age. “It’s their destiny,” he added.
For a man so focused on fatalism, Okura seemed to put a lot of thought and energy into ideas that would dramatically alter his future, sometimes in fantastical ways.
For instance, now that he’s in his 60s, Okura says he’s trying to acquire as much money as possible—not just to grow his chain, but to potentially place his brain in a “younger, stronger, faster” body, should such technology become available in his lifetime. “The poor never get anything like that so I’ll need to have enough money to make that happen.” If things don’t pan out that way, Okura feels he can at least make it to 120 years old, given medical advancements and his family’s history of living long.
And what will happen once he’s roasted more poultry than anyone else? He says he’ll follow in the footsteps of another of his idols, General George S. Patton, best known for leading the United States Army to victory in the invasion of Normandy during World War II.
“He believed his whole life that he was meant to lead armies into battle as a great general and he worked his whole life towards that. He was the only American general the Germans feared,” Okura explained. “He fulfilled his destiny. Then, right after the war ended, a freak car accident, and he was dead.”
I have no clue as to whether or not it’s Okura’s destiny to rotisserie grill chickens all the way into the next millennium, or whether he’ll live forever in an ever-changing stable of host bodies. But his chicken was pretty good, and if there’s anyone with the drive and focus to pull off such an improbable goal, it’s him. He doesn’t even need a Ray Kroc.
Follow Justin Caffier on Twitter.
http://www.vice.com/536452 Justin Caffier food food http://www.vice.com/read/a-new-video-shows-a-detroit-school-cop-manhandling-a-teen-girl Fri, 20 May 2016 18:00:00 +0000
A five-minute video uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday shows a Detroit school cop manhandling an unarmed student this past winter, the latest in a series of disturbing episodes set in one of the few places where America’s children are supposed to be safe from violence.
The security camera footage, which begins at 8:25 AM on December 9, 2015, shows Cass Technical High School tenth-grader Destiny Heard being pushed, kicked, and dragged by Detroit Public Schools Public Safety Officer Charles Braziel as two security officers contracted by the district police department look on. While it is difficult to see the student the whole time—she is blocked by the three officers for a portion of the tape—the 15-year-old tells VICE that at one point during the video, when she is seen crouched on the floor, she was pepper-sprayed by Officer Braziel.
The video ends with one of the security guards carrying her down the hall as she twists and turns her body wildly.[embedded content]
“I truly did not expect anything like this to happen when I went to school,” says Heard, who was apparently suspended for a month after the incident for allegedly kicking Braziel. “I’ve read about police brutality and read about it happening at other schools, but you don’t think, Oh I am going to school, and this is what’s going to happen to me. I was absolutely hysterical and surprised, I didn’t understand what I did.”
According to the sophomore student, the incident began after she arrived to school late and decided to use the elevator to get to her class on the sixth floor. Inside, a teacher asked to see her elevator pass, and when she produced an expired slip, Heard says she was told to get out. When she lingered by the elevator, the teacher accused her of trying to get back on and called a security officer. After a brusque exchange where Heard was asked to produce her identification, she says she headed to the second floor, where she was greeted by another security officer and then Orlando Bogins, the school’s dean of students.
At this point, Heard says that Bogins—who had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication—began yelling at her for being insubordinate. She says she asked him not to shout at her in the hall, and when he continued to yell, she put her earbuds back on to ignore him. As Bogins continued to reprimand her, Heard says Officer Braziel came over and told her to give him her phone connected to the headphones. She refused, she says, at which point the officer apparently seized it from her, and in the process pushed her to the ground.
Around this point in time, the student claims, Bogins walked away, leaving her alone with the school cop. She says the officer told her to get up, and when she said no, instead asking for medical attention, he grabbed her. Seconds later, the incident on camera began, according to the teen.
How a back-and-forth over an elevator ride and relatively mild insubordination could end with a child being pepper-sprayed and then suspended for 30 days is perplexing. Especially when you consider that the first campus cop program in America was launched in nearby Flint, Michigan, in the 1950s, with an eye toward building relationships between law enforcement and youth.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the situation Heard found herself in may be due at least in part to a dramatic shift in campus police programs that began in the 1990s. That’s when the concept of “juvenile super-predators” and “teenage time bombs” dominated the daily news cycles. This mass hysteria over violent teens reached its apex in 1999 with the Columbine High massacre in Colorado; around that time, the Justice Department’s COPS in Schools grant program pumping out millions of federal dollars to support campus police officers. Michigan received $18,778,285 during that time period, adding 152 new police officers into schools with that money. A 2013 report from CRS found that while there were only 12,000 campus cops nationwide in 1997, by 2003 that number had grown to nearly 20,000.
With more police, and more money supporting said police, came a shift in their role on campus. According to the same CRS report, about one-quarter of modern campus cop programs were created in large part because of media-incited fears, and another 25 percent were intended to deal with vandalism and rowdiness.
In effect, this means police are not only on hand to stop violence (only 4 percent of campus police programs were started for violence issues, according to the CRS report) but also to handle daily skirmishes and insubordination issues—problems that might previously have been handled by a teacher or administrator.
In Michigan, this trend toward more punitive measures is documented in a 1996 report by the state’s Advisory Committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights, which notes how the year prior, the state legislature was pushing for more “metal detectors and police officers as the primary focus for preventing disciplinary problems.” Fast-forward 20 years, and Detroit Public Schools (DPS) has 78 police officers patrolling its schools and surrounding areas (43 officers designated specifically for the district’s 25 high schools); in fact, DPS, which has been under state control on and off since 1999, is the only district in Michigan with its very own full-service police agency.
This means incidents that previously might have resulted in a conversation with a principal or an after-school detention may now be more likely to get handled by law enforcement.
“Everybody from the teacher on did the wrong thing, nobody did the right thing,” adds Herd’s mother, Venus, who says she found her daughter, “clothes all wet, eyes all puffy,” when she arrived at the school later that morning.
Following the confrontation, which resulted in an ambulance taking Herd to the hospital, the school’s principal, Lisa Phillips, suspended the teen for 30 days, according to her mother. The schools said she had kicked Braziel, though the child denies doing so.
“I asked Principal Phillips to please investigate before suspending, but she said she was following protocol and recommend a suspension pending expulsion,” says the mother, who was disappointed with how the principal handled the incident. “I had so much admiration for Principal Phillips, and I never expected her to take the stand she took. I think she should have said this is not going to be tolerated, no student in my school will be treated this way, and he should have been out of the building.”
VICE reached out to Principal Phillips and DPS’s communications officer, who runs PR for the district’s police department as well, but had yet to hear back at the time of publication.
In mid-January, Herd was allowed back into school, but the spat wasn’t exactly over. Brazil pressed charges against the teen, resulting in more than one trip to the Lincoln Hall of Justice, Detroit’s family-juvenile court. While the judge presiding over the case ultimately dropped the charges, the incident has been more than traumatic, according to the mother and her child, who believe the school intended to keep the video and assault under wraps (the footage only saw the light of day because the judge subpoenaed it, according to Heard.)
“I am absolutely appalled by the situation,” says Herd, who has started seeing a therapist to deal with anxiety and depression. “None of it was justifiable.”
In March, several high school students were pepper-sprayed by Detroit campus police after a brawl broke out at Central Collegiate High School, a school within the state-run Education Achievement Authority, which contracts campus police officers from DPS’s department. And last October, video of a student at a school in South Carolina getting thrown across the floor went viral nationwide.
But for at least some teachers at Cass Tech, one of Detroit’s top-performing high schools, the new video is both unexpected and deeply unnerving.
“I don’t care what the girl did leading up to this, this is wrong, this is police brutality,” says Joel Berger, an English teacher at the school who found out about the incident on Thursday. “In class discussions, students sometimes broach the topic of police brutality, but it is truly shocking and heartbreaking to see an example of it hit so close to home.”
*Update 5/20: After this article was published, Michelle Zdrodowski, executive director of communications for Detroit Public Schools, issued the following statement to VICE:
“The Detroit Public Schools Police Department conducted a thorough investigation beginning on December 12, 2015 in response to a complaint filed surrounding the actions in the video. Judge Rhodes has reviewed the video, documentation involved in this investigation and is satisfied that this matter was appropriately addressed by the Detroit Public Schools Police Department. Consistent with Judge Rhodes’ commitment to transparency, the District is releasing the report filed by the Detroit Public Schools Police Department regarding the incident in question. In adherence to the FERPA law, names of students have been redacted.
According to the DPS Police Department’s final report, it was deemed that the officer followed proper procedures as outlined in the Force Continuum Policy contained in the DPS Police Officer Manual. In addition, the report outlines that several witnesses were interviewed, statements were consistent and the conclusions were justified by the evidence.”
Follow Allie Gross on Twitter.
http://www.vice.com/536622 Allie Gross news news http://www.vice.com/read/we-asked-young-women-who-do-no-hookup-tinder-about-why-they-do-it Fri, 20 May 2016 18:10:00 +0000
For many of us, Tinder is just about fucking, but not for everyone. All photos by author
Tinder is the hook-up generation’s GPS for banging. It’s quick, convenient, and provides access to seeing a new person naked IRL. Is it mainly to get laid? For myself and most people I know, that answer is a loud and inarguable “Obviously.”
But browse through Tinder on any given day and you’ll find people who disagree. Marked with bios that read “No hook-ups, swipe left bitch!” (real message in the bio of somebody I matched with), there are people on the app who legitimately say they’re not on there for a quick orgasm. Some say they want friends, or long-term relationships, while others just want to avoid the emotional turmoil of fuck-and-chuck hook-up culture. Wanting to know a bit more, I asked some women I matched with why they’re not down with hookups.
Fatima, 19, Student
VICE: If not hook-ups, what are you looking for on Tinder?
Fatima: To be honest, at first, I was down for whatever, but after a year of going wild, I told myself my second year of college that I just wanted a boyfriend. , but I’d rather have someone long-term than a one-night stand.
Was there anything in particular that turned you off from hook-up culture?
Lack of attractive guys I guess. Every guy I was down for lived too far for me to travel and every close guy was a fuck boy, so even if I wanted to have a friends with benefits with , before I could say anything, he was gone.
Have you had any luck with meaningful dates through here yet?
Well, I was a sheltered child so going off to college and being free—I went wild with hook-ups, even my guy friends would give me props and say I’m their idol. , I thought I had one the other day—I was not at all prepared to do anything but maybe a make-out sesh. I thought it went great and the guy said he had fun too, but then he ignored me and I finally got an answer from him which was, “It’s not what I’m in for,” which sucked.
Do you get negative responses when dudes find out you’re not into just hooking up right away?
Not really. I recently started turning people down, and I’ve been doing a horrible job, you feel?
I do. At least you’re trying! What’s your ideal non-hook-up date, if there is one?
Nothing fancy really. I’m not a picky person. Like, as long as I’m with them, we could do anything and it’d be fine. But probably outside of a bedroom would be best.
Tiffanie, 20, Swim Coach
VICE: Your bio says to “swipe left” if someone wants to hook-up. Why?
Tiffanie: Tinder hook-ups are not good in my opinion. That’s just my opinion. I think it’s selling yourself short.
What do you mean by that?
I don’t know. Like, you don’t know these people. That alone makes me skeptical of meeting up with somebody. Why would I want to bang them off the bat? It doesn’t make sense. It’s not safe either.
So, are you against all hook-ups or just quick, fast hook-ups? Like, would you go on a date with somebody and then maybe hook-up afterward?
For sure, but they’d have to introduce it as a date and I’d have to like them. If someone’s just in for sex, that’s not something I’m comfortable with. They can do that on their own time and I’m OK with it, I just don’t really want to in that sort of thing.
What’s your experience on Tinder been like?
It’s been good—I’ve met great people on here. I have a few good friends now because we met on Tinder. There was a guy I was seeing for a bit off here, but we’re no longer together. We still talk.
Tinder is generally sold as central to the “Netflix and Chill” deal. Would you say it’s built mainly for hook-ups and quick sex?
I don’t think so, at least, not in my experience. It’s a really fast way to meet people, but it’s not like, overly-sexualized, y’know? The only and I are officially done.
Why did you choose the no hook-up policy on here?
Well, I don’t think hooking up with other guys is the right way to get over someone. It just ends up making me feel disgusted and upset with myself.
Have you used Tinder for hook-ups in the past?
No, I normally used Tinder just to meet new people, but sometimes it leads to hook-ups. Now I just tend to avoid it.
What about hooking up casually makes you feel bad about yourself?
In the past, I would’ve used hooking up to make me feel complete. I haven’t been “alone” in three years, so when I was, hooking up with someone was the way to go—especially with my close guy friends. Eventually people started calling me a whore, and I became something that I didn’t want to be anymore. I guess I’m trying to cope with being single by not hooking up with people anymore, trying to find a new distraction in my life.
On the reverse side, has anyone got mad that you didn’t want to hook-up?
No, I’ve never actually had anyone get mad at me, which is kind of surprising since it’s Tinder.
Karen, 19, Undeclared
VICE: Alright, if you don’t me asking, why don’t you have ‘No hook-ups’ in your bio?
Karen: Well, just because I’m not on Tinder for hook-ups doesn’t mean I’m opposed to it. Like, my general motive on Tinder is just to talk to cool people, but if a hook-up becomes a thing then maybe I would.
That makes sense. Do you usually tell people that off the bat or do you wait until they ask you to hook-up?
I pretty much wait until they ask. I find it weird to announce a no hook-up policy. It’s like, would I go up to someone I just met in real life and tell them I have a no hook-up rule?
What’s the response been when you tell somebody you’re not about quick hook-ups?
I usually just ghost those people. Unless I’ve formed a friendship with them, then I’ll tell them. Most people I end up befriending and asking have been super respectful and we just continue being friends. But the few times guys would throw temper tantrums and call me rude things, or they’ll keep trying to convince me to .
That’s something that seems to be a common sentiment about women I know who use Tinder. How often do you find yourself telling people no?
I actually haven’t been on Tinder for a while. I was in a relationship and completely deactivated my account, I just got back on a week ago. So far, none, but I think I got it quite a lot. Like I said, I’d just ghost them.
With all that stress, do you think Tinder’s worth its weight for you?
Kind of. I mean, I’ve honestly met a lot of cool ass people who have, one way or another, really changed my life and helped me grow as a person. I think the shittiness of it is worth it when you find some people you can bond with that you maybe wouldn’t have met in real life.
Nikita, 19, Student
VICE: I’ll start off by asking the obvious: why choose Tinder for not wanting to hook-up?
Nikita: Mostly because a lot of my friends have formed meaningful relationships with guys off Tinder that didn’t necessarily start off with sex.
Do you find yourself getting a lot of people hitting you up just to bang?
How long does it usually take before they drop the question?
Usually four or five messages, but some will directly message me something sexual as their first message, which I do appreciate more because it’s direct and I know what they’re all about.
Do people ever get mad at you for saying “No thanks”?
Not really, but I am pretty straightforward about no hook-ups in my bio. I do find that guys have trouble believing I’m not looking for a hook-up though, but no one has really gotten angry about it.
That’s interesting that they ignore your bio or think you’re lying. Have you went on any successful dates through Tinder yet?
Interviews have been edited slightly for clarity.
Follow Jake Kivanç on Twitter.
http://www.vice.com/536727 Jake Kivanç stuff stuff http://www.vice.com/read/risk-is-a-weirdly-satisfying-look-into-the-life-of-julian-assange Fri, 20 May 2016 16:19:00 +0000
the unveiling of her newest film, a five-years-in-the-making profile of
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his key collaborators Sarah Harrison and
Jacob Appelbaum, Oscar-winning documentarian,
New York Times Magazine cover
subject, and alleged enemy of the state Laura Poitras didn
‘t mince words
when asked if there had been friction between her and Assange during and after
the shooting of her documentary. “I’m curious as to
what your sources are,” Poitras shot back
at a French journalist, amid rumors of a last-minute recut of the film at the
behest of Assange, who is nearing his 2,000th day in the virtual prison of
asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. “I’m very supportive
of the work they do at the site.”
a sit-down the next day at the Croisette Beach Hotel, Poitras told me that it
had taken some finesse to get access to Assange. “It was a long process,” Poitras said of her
courtship of Assange, whom she initially approached after the release of
Collateral Murder in 2010. By that point
she was already being tracked by the government, and Assange was taking council
not to step foot in the United States. “I
was five years into this, I knew I was on some sort of list,” Poitras explained. “But once I started
filming with them, I started getting stopped every time I was in Europe.”
film, which had its world premiere at the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight on Thursday,
is a savvy companion piece to her riveting 2014 Edward Snowden doc, Citizenfour. After the Snowden
revelation, Poitras envisioned them as one film, but gradually it became clear
she would have to bifurcate the projects.
Risk follows the work of
Assange’s outfit from the
release of various unredacted state department cables in 2011. Opening with a
scene of Harrison calling the US State Department—asking to speak to Hillary Clinton
herself about the matter—the film documents
the ongoing exile of Harrison, a UK citizen of Australian descent who cannot
return to ol’ Blighty after
helping Snowden find his way to Moscow in 2013, and Assange, who has been holed
up the past four years at the Ecuadorian embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden
for sexual-assault charges that some feel are a trumped-up way of landing him
in US hands. “Julian Assange is a
political prisoner who sought asylum,” Appelbaum
told me at the premiere, “His courage
VICE Talks Film with ‘The Look of Silence’ director Joshua Oppenheimer
of Assange last
Review of Books
Risk is a relatively kind portrait of the work WikiLeaks has done and
the personalities at its center. Partitioned into ten nameless chapters, the
movie breezes by a number of the websites’
most significant leaks, including the video of US helicopters gunning down
journalists that Chelsea Manning helped them acquire, costing the transgender
woman her freedom for the rest of her natural life. One bravura sequence takes
us to Egypt as Appelbaum, at a tech conference in Cairo the year after the Arab
Spring, castigates a panel of Arab ISP executives, claiming that each of them
in their own way tried to stifle the Egyptian revolution by limiting internet
access and censoring social-media websites. The movie sacrifices a narrative
arc for a sort of segmented vignette approach, one that adds up to a fragmented
but weirdly satisfying glimpse at the most controversial journalists in the
comes across as a slick yet humane operator, Assange’s right-hand woman
and increasingly, due to the tentacles of Western justice attempting to bring
Assange to heel, the public face of the organization. Shot with the same
assured verité that powered
Poitras generates remarkable tension in the sequence where Assange is
attempting to gain asylum from a nation with a UK embassy. After Iceland falls
through, the Ecuadorians come to the rescue at the 11th hour, just as a police
presence arrives outside WikiLeaks’ London
headquarters, with the intent to capture Assange.
documentary has moments of levity, too—after
the WikiLeaks founder finds his way to the Ecuadoran embassy, he is visited by
Lady Gaga, who grills him in an impromptu interview. After haranguing him to
switch from the jacket and oxford he’d
planned to wear into a “dirty fucking
inquires, in a sequence dominated by jump cuts, “Do you ever feel like fucking crying?” Gaga, in a stylish
black floppy hat, holds her camera mere feet from his face. Assange rebuffs the
thought immediately. After years of this high-stakes work, he’s ice-cold. Though
he cops to still occasionally having such feelings, he lost the ability to cry
is trying to stay fit at picture‘s end, boxing and doing sit-ups,
huffing fresh air out of a barely cracked window while his exiled
collaborators, who both read prepared statements of solidarity after the
screening, continue to be threatened. Poitras too: In the wake of her laudatory
American theater-of-war documentaries
My Country, My Country and The
, she has been on the US Department of Homeland Security watch list
she revealed in her recently closed Whitney Museum installation
Poitras has sued the government to find out details about her case.
of a counter-terrorism official at the FBI’s New
York Field Office, recorded in secret by a Poitras sympathizer, identifying her
as an “anti-American” filmmaker.
of course, couldn’t be further from
the truth. One senses, throughout this remarkable picture, the personal risk
that Poitras is taking right along her subjects.
“As far as I know,
it’s ongoing,” Poitras said,
referring to the government’s secret
investigation of her.
Risk proves to be a meditation on the costs of
bearing inconvenient witness, for both subject and author.
http://www.vice.com/536693 Brandon Harris film film http://www.vice.com/read/do-new-age-remedies-actually-help-you-quit-smoking Fri, 20 May 2016 17:05:00 +0000
Me with my daily cigarette intake before the experiment. Image by Mitch Pinney
As of this month I’ll have been smoking for nine years. My experiences trying to ditch cigs—with Nicabate, Champix, and a few cold turkey attempts—have always ended with me feeling sick and giving up. For a long time it’s seemed like I’m condemned to addiction.
That’s because quitting is really hard. Although most smokers plan to quit, the numbers suggest few actually pull it off: One study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that while 77 percent of smokers intended to change their behavior, only 19 percent managed to quit for longer than a month.
After looking at my track record (basically just a history of me quitting quitting) I decided it was time to try something different. The internet offered me thousands of alternative solutions, but only four seemed even remotely plausible: the aversion method, acupuncture, natural remedies, and hypnotherapy.
So I tossed my last cigarette, told my dad I was quitting for good, and gave myself a month to try and make it stick. Every week I’d try a different alternative remedy until I found something that worked. Because something had to, right?
Week one: Making myself hate cigarettes by chain smoking
Aversion therapy meant smoking three cigarettes in a row every time I smoked, totalling at least 25 a day. Image by Mitch Pinney
The idea behind aversion therapy is simple: Link a negative response to a habit you’re trying to break and, in turn, you’ll never want to do it again. Research has shown that aversion therapy’s effectiveness is unreliable. However, the idea of chain smoking three cigarettes at a time, at least 25 smokes a day, sounded like it might just do the trick.
All I can say is that smoking this much fucking sucked. I’m aware that’s the point of aversion therapy, but still, it was a disgusting and ineffective way to quit. By the end of the week, I genuinely felt poisoned—mind and body.
I couldn’t concentrate or communicate. I smelled terrible and constantly felt sick. Cigarettes did became a chore, which should’ve meant success. But my cravings and triggers still existed, and the only technique I had to deal with them was smoking more.
My sense is that even if you were to try to aversion approach for longer than a week, you wouldn’t actually quit. You’d just become a heavier smoker.
The verdict: 1/10
Week two: Distracting myself from cigarettes with needles
I was told acupuncture would help relieve the stress of quitting. Image by Emilie Kilvington
Acupuncture works on the belief that certain points of the body are related to certain feelings. So putting a needle in these spots should relieve some pressures and negative emotions. There’s research to suggest it can even reduce your desire to smoke.
I booked in for three hour-long sessions of acupuncture with Renee Knott, specially designed to stop nicotine cravings. We started each one by measuring my pulse, before inserting needles in my ears, wrist, forehead, and feet—all, Renee told me, are major spots for addiction and stress. The session would finish with meditation and a massage.
The meditation and massage were actually the most relaxing part. Image by Emilie Kilvington
For me, acupuncture felt effective because I was replacing cigarettes with an entirely new experience. It wasn’t much about the actual needles, but rather the whole process of relaxing.
I found looking forward to my next session, or trying Renee’s techniques that made me feel like I didn’t need to smoke as much, especially for stress. Although I still smoked during this week, I felt guilty every time I did, and ended up cutting down from 15 to about five a day.
The verdict: 7/10
Week three: Trying to suppress my cravings by downing “natural remedies”
My natural remedies: herbal cigarettes, lime juice, black pepper oil, St John’s wort, and passionflower tea. Image by Mitch Pinney
While it all might seem a bit airy-fairy, there’s scientific evidence to suggest some herbs and oils operate in the same way as Nicabate, meaning they suppress your nicotine cravings and replace cigarettes with something less harmful.
Thai researchers have reported that drinking fresh lime juice can be nearly as effective as medication, while a US study found black pepper essential oil and passionflower tea can reduce nicotine cravings. St John’s wort can help with stress and anxiety—a common side effect from quitting. And herbal cigarettes are just something you can smoke that aren’t addictive.
Despite being hopeful, I found none of these stopped my cravings nearly as much as medication had in the past. Maybe getting teased by co-workers for sniffing black pepper oil put me off, but most likely it just doesn’t work. Either way, realistically you should just get your medicine from a doctor.
Nope. Image by Mitch Pinney
Also herbal cigarettes taste like shit.
The verdict: 3/10
Week four: Trying to hypnotize myself out of a bad habit
Me and my hypnotherapist Laura Masi. Image by author
Hypnotherapy was completely different to what I expected. Before my session with hypnotherapist Laura Masi, I went through a week-long “pre-therapy” which involved meditating for 20 minutes every day. I also had to write down every time I smoked and why. At the time, I remember feeling like this was going to be bullshit.
A podcast Laura got me to listen to every day before my hypnotherapy session. Image by author
During the actual hypnosis session, Laura put me under and told me a bunch of nice things: I have the power to quit, I’m not a slave to my addiction, etc. She also made me verbalize why I smoke and what “parts of me” let that happen.
Essentially, hypnotherapy is just deep meditation with a very supportive friend encouraging you to quit. And this isn’t a bad thing. I left the session feeling like I didn’t need to smoke, and if I did have a naughty cig, I’d feel guilty. Admittedly, that’s exactly what I did less than two hours later but, oddly enough, I never felt like hypnotherapy was a failure.
In my previous attempts to quit, relapsing felt inevitable. But after this I had this newfound sense of confidence. I recall Laura saying when I was under, “Whether you quit today, or in the future—you will quit.” I’m aware it all sounds tacky, but that’s where I see the real merit in hypnotherapy. Unlike other therapies, where you are reliant on a substance to quit, with hypnotherapy the responsibility is on you.
The verdict: 8/10
Image by Mitch Pinney
Quitting smoking is no mean feat, especially when you’ve been doing it for nearly half your life. It’d be easy to dismiss these therapies as failures, but I think that would be unfair. What I gained was a lesson in dedication.
The reality is you can quit in the way that works for you, but it’s going to take more than lime juice or needles. You actually need the confidence to quit, and to keep trying if you fail. The reality is that right now I just don’t want to quit enough. I’m aware that many wait their whole lives for a bolt of inspiration, only to find it in the form of an inoperable stage IV tumor. But that’s the problem with smoking: it’s just so comforting that the threat of cancer makes me want to calm down with a cig.
It’s hard to say when I’ll quit, but this has shown me that I can and someday will. My history might show otherwise, but I’m more prepared and confident than in the past. It’s just going to take a few more tries.
Follow Sam Nichols on Twitter.
http://www.vice.com/536697 Sam Nichols stuff stuff http://www.vice.com/read/meet-the-bmx-racer-raising-awareness-about-concussions-in-biking Fri, 20 May 2016 04:00:00 +0000
All photos courtesy of Jason Fraga
In 2010, Jason Fraga drove to a supermarket near his home in Belchertown, Massachusetts, to pick up some groceries. A veteran BMX racer, he was accustomed to the claustrophobia of the pack, the thrown elbows, and the barely controlled choreography of speed on the dirt track. But when another shopper wheeled his cart into Fraga’s path, something snapped. It was a completely unremarkable cut-off, the type of thing that happens a hundred times a day in a grocery store, and yet he found himself overcome with rage. He wanted to kill the man who’d pulled in front of him. What’s worse, he didn’t understand why.
Later, it would seem obvious: The day before, Fraga—founder of the Knockout Project, a forum dedicated to spreading awareness of concussions in sport—had suffered a concussion. It was his ninth. Or maybe his 19th. It’s hard to say, because for years, stretching back to when he first started racing as a kid in the early 1980s, concussions were rarely talked about.
Today, the discussion around concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) revolves largely around professional football. In 2015, a federal judge approved a class-action lawsuit brought by some 5,000 former NFL players who accused the league of downplaying the dangers of the game.
Those dangers include chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a degenerative disease caused by an individual blow or series of smaller blows to the head. According to the Boston University CTE Center, symptoms include deteriorating cognitive function, memory loss, dizziness, headaches, erratic behavior, impaired speech, vertigo, and suicidal ideation. In 2012, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend, and then himself, in front of his coach at the stadium where he played. The same year, former linebacker Junior Seau killed himself. Autopsies later revealed evidence of CTE in both of their brains. Since then, a number of high-profile football players, like San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland, have retired early, citing concerns about CTE.
It isn’t limited to football: In February, Dave Mirra, the most-decorated BMX rider in X Games history, was found dead of an apparent suicide at his home in North Carolina. Toward the end of his life, friends reported Mirra was behaving strangely, and many have speculated that he was suffering from some form of CTE, although results of an autopsy that might prove this have not yet been released.
“The rub some dirt on it mentality you see in football is the same … you start getting really depressed, like, How do I even deal with life?“
Fraga started the Knockout Project in 2012, after meeting a group of kids in the waiting room at his specialist’s office, all of whom were suffering the same type of brain injury symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that almost 250,000 children were treated for concussions in 2009, the most recent year for which data is available, up 57 percent from a decade earlier.
“It was a really difficult thing to see, so I figured at that point I had to do something,” Fraga said. He added, “If I’m going to be forced to live this shitty existence, at least I’m going to warn people.”
The organization connects with athletes at every level of play, from high school sports to professional football. Many are simply looking for others who can commiserate.
“There is nothing more painful than having an injury that other people can’t physically see,” a former high school basketball player wrote in a personal essay on the Knockout Project website earlier this year. “There’s no cast, there’s no brace, and there are no crutches. Nobody can see that you’re physically, mentally, and emotionally dying inside.”
While some have advocated for banning sports that cause high numbers of head injuries, Fraga is not an abolitionist. The primary message he wants to impart, particularly to young athletes and their parents, is to get checked out after a hit; if it turns out to be a concussion, he said, cognitive rest is critical, and athletes should make sure they are free of symptoms and cleared by a doctor before returning to the field.
It sounds obvious, he said, but it’s something he’d never considered before. “We just went back out and blasted ourselves.”
Follow Luke O’Neil on Twitter.
http://www.vice.com/536402 Luke O’Neil sports sports http://www.vice.com/read/what-malcolm-x-would-say-about-donald-trump Fri, 20 May 2016 15:45:00 +0000
Donald Trump will be the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nominee, which means he could well become the most powerful man on Earth. Given his extreme stances on issues that impact black and brown people (young blacks need more “spirit”), immigration (he wants to build his famous wall to keep out “rapists“), and terrorism (he wants to ban Muslim immigration and possibly put Muslim citizens in a database), it’s easy to understand why so many young people are baffled that the divisive real estate mogul and reality TV star’s candidacy has made it this far.
Of course, Trump isn’t the first modern Republican candidate to lead a mainstream campaign so xenophobic it snagged the support of white supremacists. Back in 1964, Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater was backed by segments of the Ku Klux Klan. The infiltration of white supremacists into the center of the national conversation was no surprise to black nationalist Malcolm X back then, who felt the rise of Goldwater was not some aberration, but instead a reflection of core American values. In fact, in an op-ed in the Saturday Evening Post just weeks before the general election, Malcolm cynically wrote that Goldwater was better than Lyndon B. Johnson, the Democratic incumbent who had just passed the most important civil rights law in US history, because “black people at least know what they are dealing with.”
(Both Trump and Goldwater eventually disavowed the KKK, but that did not stop fringe white supremacists from continuing to champion their candidacies.)[embedded content]
According to Zaheer Ali, a scholar and expert on Malcolm X, the 20th-century black icon may well have viewed Trump’s candidacy in a similar vein, and might have argued he’s just laying bare bigotry essential to American culture. Although it’s always a bit dangerous to extrapolate on what historical figures like Malcolm X might say or do in a modern context—something Ali warned me about repeatedly—I think Malcolm’s insight can be useful in sizing up what’s happening right now in US politics and what the potential presidency of man like Trump means for black and brown people.
If Malcolm X were still with us, he would be celebrating his 91st birthday this week. His life was cut short on February 21, 1965, when he was assassinated by three members of Nation of Islam (NOI), a religious and political movement for which he once served as national spokesperson. Before his death, Malcolm X managed to channel the rage he had over being terrorized by white supremacy, first into crime, then into black nationalism with the Nation of Islam, and finally into a sort of global-minded humanism. It was through those life transitions that he acquired the wisdom reflected in his scathing analysis on the black experience in America.
To properly apply the philosophy and ideas of Malcolm X to the Trump question, I forced Malcolm X expert Zaheer Ali to venture deeper into the realm of conjecture. Here’s how Ali thinks Malcolm X might view the positions of prospective presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2016.[embedded content]
VICE: There seems to be extreme anxiety around Trump possibly taking office. In a general sense, what would a potential Donald Trump presidency mean to Malcolm X?
Zaheer Ali: Malcolm X did not view American politics in the same dire circumstances that many of us do today. Malcolm X had transcended his American national identity. He was not an American nationalist—to that extent, he did not feel that his fate rested in the hands of whoever sat in the White House. Malcolm X argued for a transnational identity and movement for black people in the United States. He wanted to shift the black civil rights struggle to a human rights struggle, which elevates it to an international concern. To that end, Malcolm X spent much of the last years of his life abroad. In general, he did not think it was wise for black people in America to hang all of our hopes on the outcome of a presidential election. So it is important to think of his work as transcending the election cycle and the histrionics of an election. To Malcolm X, it was a long game.
OK. So Malcolm X saw white right-wing politicians like Trump as being not all that different from the white politicians on the left, since America is fundamentally a white-supremacist nation. And he didn’t think blacks should confine our identity to national politics, since we’re in a much bigger struggle. Does that mean Malcolm X might think it’d be a big waste of time to even cast a ballot against Trump in the 2016 election?
Well, he says a ballot is like bullet, and you don’t waste your bullets. In other words, he thought people should organize and be very purposeful in how they vote. He thought you should vote, but just remember that voting should not be the only political act that you do. Mobilizing all of our political capital, resources, and power in one election is not a wise political move.
“We need to expand the civil rights struggle to a higher level—to the level of human rights… ” —Malcolm X
I guess I’ve sort of taken for granted the idea that Malcolm X would be in complete opposition to Trump. But there are some things that maybe they’d agree on, like reigning in gun control? Or would he be like many modern black leaders, who want to see more gun control, because of the high rate of gun violence in black communities?
In 1964, he advocated for African Americans to own guns in order to defend themselves when the government had failed protect their lives and property. This is the context for Malcolm X’s gun advocacy. So, to the degree that modern advocates of gun ownership rest their argument in the context of self-defense, there might be some convergence.
He would probably be very concerned about how regulations on the Second Amendment are deployed, considering the disproportionate focus and targeting of black communities by the law enforcement. Remember, after Malcolm X was assassinated, we saw the disproportionate incarceration of African Americans. We saw how structural inequality shaped the discourse, prosecution, conviction, and sentencing of African Americans. And a lot of this took place around discourse about stopping gang violence and crime in the black community, an effort some black lawmakers supported. Of course, these black leaders weren’t calling for the criminalization of black people. Unfortunately, that is what we got. Because of this criminalization of blackness, I think Malcolm X would be weary of how new gun control laws might be disproportionately enforced in black communities.
“n the areas where the government has proven itself either unwilling or unable to defend the lives and the property of Negroes, it’s time for Negroes to defend themselves.” —Malcolm X
Donald Trump doesn’t offer the same kind of comprehensive plans for fighting structural racism as Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. But he is a businessman, and his supporters say he knows how to create jobs, something black folks need since unemployment is over twice as high in the black community than in for whites. How do you think Malcolm X would view all of this?
Early on, Malcolm X embraced what he called an “economic philosophy of black nationalism,” which he argued was black people controlling the economies of their communities. We know now that this model works most effectively when there’s a segregated market that is sort of captive. At the end of the day, black-owned businesses on a hyper local scale are not going to solve unemployment, the high incarceration rate, or disparate wealth and income inequality. Not saying it shouldn’t happen—it should happen. The more economic activity African Americans can engage with on any scale is beneficial. But what we need is a structural transformation. And Malcolm X was thinking about that towards the end of his life.
Later in his life, Malcolm grew increasingly critical of capitalism. There is one interview, where he says capitalism and racism are intertwined. So if we really want to address the inequality that black people are experiencing in the US, we have to talk about the way capital is organized, accessed, and distributed. In that respect, Bernie Sanders’s ability to highlight that nature of the problem is something that I think is consistent with the kinds of questions Malcolm was raising toward the end of his life.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons. Originally published in Ebony Magazine.
Malcolm X was a Muslim. It’s probably very different to be a Muslim in the aftermath of 9/11 than it was in the 1950s and 60s. After all, a big part of Trump’s appeal to voters is his so-called tough stance on Islam, since he frames all followers as a potential threat. How do you think Malcolm X would have viewed all that?
When Malcolm X was was well aware how much of a target the convergence of his black and muslim identity made him. He was under FBI surveillance. When he traveled, he believed he was under CIA surveillance. He was targeted because of the way he practiced and preached Islam—it was a way that increased, enhanced, and nurtured his black nationalist politics.
When he was in Mecca, he wrote that he thought Islam could help America in its race problem. Because while he was there, he saw white Muslims, and he saw how Islam could help deconstruct the racial identity that he felt was at the root of social and cultural racism. He thought that if white Americans could adopt Islam, it could break their socially constructed identities as white people, which were an impediment to equality. He saw Islam as an asset to his liberation problem as a black man in America and America’s crises with race. So he would have seen the attempts to demonize Islam and Muslims as an attempt to demonize and marginalize and silence something that was beneficial to black Americans and America in general.
Of course, he could not have predicted the rise of extremists who use the religion to commit acts of violence against innocent people. What he would have said in this context, I don’t know. But Malcolm X was always critical of the way America exercised its power in the world in ways that created inequalities and imbalances. So he’d probably be critical of America’s role in helping foster the emergence of extremism within Muslim communities. I think he would have been very clear in his critique of the American empire. But there is no evidence that he would have embraced the violence perpetrated by someone like ISIS, who hurt other Muslims.
“The economic philosophy of black nationalism is pure and simple. It only means that we should control the economy in our community.”—Malcolm X
Women aren’t crazy about Donald Trump. And for good reason. A recent New York Times piece ran down some of his unwanted or aggressive advances toward women, highlighting his penchant for focusing on physical appearance. He’s also perceived as having a sort of 1950s-style patriarchal perspective. And he’s known for sometimes being disrespectful to women who challenge him, like Fox’s Megan Kelly. Where did Malcolm X stand with women? Was he more woke than Donald Trump?
Malcolm X was not a feminist. But he was moving in a direction of seeing the valuable role women could play in the movement of liberation.
The Nation of Islam’s framework for gender was pretty conservative. It was a patriarchy. And I think Malcolm X was, at times, a kind of benevolent patriarch. He felt that black women should be celebrated and black beauty should be celebrated. It was in an objectifying way, but it was done to counter the stereotypes that existed of black people. Black women had to carry the burdens of the community in many ways and had to do so without the support of the men in their lives. They had often been rejected by the men in their lives because of white-supremacist standards of beauty. Malcolm X supported black women by placing them in positions of authority after he left the NOI, and he argued to other international Muslim leaders to do the same. So, he was someone who was always rethinking views and evolving.
One of the things interesting about Donald Trump is that he’s given more progressive lip service to LGTB issues than other Republican candidates. He recently said he opposed North Carolina’s bathroom law, for example. Of course, he’s also (at least this year) against gay marriage and has expressed support for the First Amendment Defense Act, which would allow business to discriminate based on sexual orientation. Where did Malcolm X stand on the gays?
He came out of a political religious tradition that was heteronormative. That said, Malcolm X knew James Baldwin and Bayard Rustin, and he respected them. He thought they had much value to contribute to black people. How much he knew of their sexual orientation is unclear. But I don’t think they hid it. What we can say is that Malcolm seemed to be moving to the point where everyone had something to contribute to freedom, justice, and equality. How far he would have gone with that, I don’t know. And how that would have come in conflict with his own personal religious ideas, I can’t say. There are probably people who would say Malcolm X would be very much against the kind of public legalization and legitimacy granted to LGBT people. But whatever Malcolm X’s personal views may have been about LGBT issues, it did not stop him from engaging in substantive and productive interaction with people like James Baldwin and Bayard Rustin.
“A ballot is like a bullet. You don’t throw your ballots until you see a target, and if that target is not within your reach, keep your ballot in your pocket.”—Malcolm X
As you said, Malcolm X looked at the black experience from a global perspective. And in terms of foreign policy, he was very critical of our interventions across the globe, including the Vietnam War. Donald Trump has this whole American First concept within his campaign. Some people label it as sort of isolationist, as it’s supposed to be about about ceasing some of our interventions into the problems of other countries and turning our focus back onto the US. Do you think that’s the kind of thing that would appeal to Malcolm X?
To the extent that anyone is talking about reducing America’s footprint in the world—and let’s be clear, that foot has typically landed on the throat of black and brown people—that is a conversation Malcolm X would have welcomed.
But this is complicated. Because if Donald Trump’s view of non-interventionism is coming from a perspective of America First, Malcolm’s is coming from a position of Black People First. To the degree that America First aligns with Back People First, cool. But if America First elevates black people within the US, but hurts black people abroad, I don’t think that is something Malcolm X would support.
Malcolm X was not interested in Making America Great Again, he wanted to check the growth of the American empire. Trump’s isolationism seems born out of a kind of nativism. Whereas the non-interventionism that Malcolm X might have embraced would have been born out of a transnational solidarity with people from other parts of the world.
How do you think Malcolm X would respond to this idea that America was ever great?
He would have appended “for white people” to that phrase. Look at the post-war economic boom in the 1950s. This is the time when America was feeling itself as a superpower. It had been the only nation to drop an atomic bomb, so it had demonstrated its military might. The level of economic activity that the war produced was astronomical. The 1950s are also a point of reference for “the good old days,” because Malcolm X’s 1960s represents a decade of rupture from that narrative.
The problem is that the 1950s bliss was not enjoyed by African Americans. So if you mentioned making America great again to Malcolm X, I think he would say of course America was great, but not for us.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
All pull quotes taken from Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech delivered April 3, 1964, in Cleveland, Ohio.
Zaheer Ali served as project manager of the Malcolm X Project (MXP) at Columbia University and contributed as a lead researcher for Manning Marable’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention (2011).
An earlier version of this article mischaracterized Malcolm X’s stance on the private ownership of military grade weapons. Malcolm X was photographed in the 60s with a M1 carbine, which was a military weapon at the time.
Follow Wilbert L. Cooper on Twitter.
http://www.vice.com/536461 Wilbert L. Cooper news news http://www.vice.com/read/nuit-debout-french-protest-876 Fri, 20 May 2016 15:45:00 +0000
Photo by Nicolas Vigier via
This article originally appeared on VICE France
So far, every time I’ve attended a Nuit Debout protest, I’ve left feeling a little disappointed. The few times I’ve been, it seemed more like a big gathering of lost hippies than a genuine protest movement. But, at the same time, I’m well aware that the people who make up Nuit Debout do it for the right reasons.
Nuit Debout is a movement of daily anti-capitalist protests that started on March 31 this year on the Place de La République in Paris. The movement is a reaction to the breakdown of the social and economic situations in France over the past few years. But what lit the flame of the protests was the announcement of a new labour law by French Minister of Labour Myriam El Khomri, which protesters saw as the end of the protection of the French worker.
The Nuit Debout movement is reminiscent of Occupy and similar protests that have spread around the world in the past few years—like the Indignados movement of the Puerta del Sol in Madrid in 2011 and the 700 Euro Generation at Syntagma Square in Athens. Like a lot of these movements, Nuit Debout wants to organize itself organically, without a leader. At their general assemblies you mostly find militant supporters of the Leftist Front and the Green Party, unionists, community activists, and students. The protesters want to work within a direct and horizontal democracy and don’t just oppose the new labour law, but also the current political institutions and economic system in general. Nuit Debout has spread to other towns in France and has even popped up in Belgium, Spain, Germany, and Portugal.
Photo by Nicolas Vigier via
In theory, the political and social nature of Nuit Debout—like its aspirations to horizontal democracy—is the essence of the movement. But in practice, that also makes it unclear what its direction is; you’d be forgiven for asking whether it really is a new revolutionary movement or just an idealistic flashmob. The hundreds of people who have gathered every night since late March are, for the time being, not making a concrete impact on anything. When Le Figaro—the most read right-wing media outlet in the country—asked its readers whether they thought the Nuit Debout movement was going to last, 67 percent of them gleefully said that it wouldn’t. In the same paper, the author of the book Don’t help yourself, the state will help you, wrote an op-ed titled “Nuit Debout: Dawn of the hipsters”.
I went back to Place de la République to see what the atmosphere was like a couple of weeks after the demonstrations started. Basically, the Nuit Debout protesters are mainly white high school kids and university students, passive revolutionaries, progressives, humanists, and some actual misfits. Walking around, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the young people who are suffering the most because of the current French system aren’t participating in this movement. For now, it’s all pretty calm—there isn’t necessarily a sense of revolution in the air.
The protest area is split in two: there’s a speaker’s corner on one side, where people participate in a political open-mic session of sorts. The other side mostly reminds me of a circus. There are slackliners, am-dram actors putting on a politically charged show, a fire breather, jugglers, and circle drummers. The dividing line between these two spaces is made up of some kids picnicking on the concrete.
In the speaker’s corner, people were trying to right all the wrongs in the world, but it became immediately clear that there are a lot of wrongs to right—too many, perhaps, to be dealt with by a relatively unorganized group of street protesters.
At the center of the square people wandered about like they were at a festival, stopping here and there to have a grilled sausage or watch bit of a play. In the speaker’s corner, people were trying to right all the wrongs in the world, but it became immediately clear that there are a lot of wrongs to right—too many, perhaps, to be dealt with by a relatively unorganized group of street protesters. Some speakers were fighting for women’s rights, others argued we should have a democracy without political parties, and some were demanding an end to people being dicks to each other on the subway. Which is fine, of course, because they’re all noble causes.
But this broad range of demands is also what could limit the impact of the movement, given that such a splintered message won’t keep people in power up at night. Nuit Debout reveals a political problem: it’s a gathering of people who want to make a point about this political issue—but it’s still mostly just a political awakening, not a revolutionary force.
That doesn’t mean that Nuit Debout isn’t an important social space, of course. From what I saw and heard, the El Khomri Law is a constant topic of discussion on the square. But what really binds people together is the general frustration at the right-wing policies of the supposedly left-wing government of President Hollande.
Photo by Maya-Anaïs Yataghène via
In a televised interview on September 9, 2012, François Hollande set a goal for himself: to reverse “the trend in unemployment within a year.” But in 2014, unemployment had risen to over 5 million people in mainland France alone. This year, unemployment has gone up again. Young people are hurt most by this trend—one in four French people under 24 are out of work.
Hollande is not yet at the end of his first term, but a big chunk of his supporters on the left—workers, civil servants, and people under 30—feel that he’s turned his back on them. Young people and working class voters in areas where support for the Communist Party used to be a given are now collectively voting for the far-right Front National.
French voters on the left feel Hollande has had a socio-liberal change of heart and abandoned his left-wing values—for example, when he canceled €30 billion ($33 billion) in social charges or when he planned a €50 billion ($56 billion) cut in public spending. Voters feel he has been prioritizing support of businesses over supporting the middle classes, further alienating himself from French socialism.
On top of that, Hollande took various controversial security measures after the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015. His bill around taking away French nationality from potential terrorists was the most problematic for many within the French left; the same suggestion was made directly after the attacks by right-wing former president Nicolas Sarkozy and Front National leader Marine Le Pen.
Given the anger and disappointment concerning this government’s policies, it’s no surprise a movement like Nuit Debout has emerged. It’s easy to scoff at the theater productions and the drum circles, but at least these people are actually taking to the streets to make their opinions heard. I know too many young people who identify as leftist but who, in reality, are apolitical bums, mostly concerned with their personal development, success, and finances. I’m one of those people, actually. A generation of apolitical bums never changed anything, so it’s great news that a new generation is standing up for what they believe. And if that involves some juggling, so be it.
http://www.vice.com/536658 Félix Macherez news news http://www.vice.com/read/greek-army-worst-hazing-rituals-876 Fri, 20 May 2016 12:00:00 +0000
All photos by Alexandros Avramidis
This article originally appeared on VICE Greece
Military conscription was first introduced in Greece in 1909, following a coup that brought prime minister Eleftherios Venizelos to power. Since then, the length of the service has changed at times to reflect the country’s political situation. In 2009, it was decided that mandatory military service in Greece would last for nine to 12 months for men between the ages of 19 and 45, and that’s still the case today.
Besides the horrible food and the fact they waste a year of their lives sitting around doing absolutely nothing, Greek guys also have to face a number of hazing rituals designed to humiliate new recruits and entertain old ones. I asked some friends of mine to share some stories from their “good old army days.”
“I chose to serve my time in the Special Forces, so I was prepared to get hazed. I’d heard countless stories about having to sprint while carrying your full armament, endless crawls in the mud and timed team showers, but nothing could prepare me for the initiation ceremony that old recruits have aptly named ‘The Nausea.’
“It was my first week on duty and we’d just finished eating, when the whole unit was told we were to exercise until someone vomited. And so we did—we ran, we jumped, we climbed, we did push-ups and crunches in the blaring sun until this one guy kneeled down on the ground and begun to retch grains of rice and a horrible green liquid. I still don’t know how I managed to keep myself from doing the same when I saw what was coming out of his mouth.”
“My unit was on kitchen duty when it started raining. In fact, I was peeling potatoes when an officer walked in and handed us a bunch of newspapers and bottles of cleaning spray and told us to go wipe the windows of the building from outside while it was raining. Basically, the whole exercise was pointless because the windows kept getting wet again and again and again.”
“About ten of us newbies entered our room after training, when a group of older recruits called us to attention, leaving us to stand for about 15 minutes, I think just for fun. Then the oldest recruit, who was basically in charge, asked loudly: ‘Who digs jukeboxes?’ A tiny, scrawny guy dared to respond that he did, and so they picked him up and locked him in a clothes trunk.
For the next hour or so, they kept slipping coins through a crack in the trunk and he was obliged to sing a new song every time they did. This happened quite a few times over the next next year, but I dodged the bullet. I’m very tall, so they couldn’t fit me in the trunk.”
“Older recruits would make us stand up, arms stretched, holding a shelf with stuff on it. Under our hand they’d fasten a bayonet, so that if anyone got tired and their hand slipped, they’d get stabbed.”
“I was part of the Evzones, or Presidential Guard, an elite unit that is supposed to guard the Greek Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Presidential Mansion, and the gate of Evzones camp in Athens. The Evzones are supposed to stay completely motionless and at attention for long intervals, so ensuring a soldier has the necessarily stamina and self-control is a big part of the Evzones training and the hazing surrounding it.
I had to stand motionless and at attention for half an hour while three older recruits tried to provoke me. That included continuous slaps on the face and neck—which is referred to as “codfishing”—and covering my face and hair with shaving cream until I looked like a Smurf.
The hazing was intense, but when I was an older recruit I could do whatever I felt like—for instance, I could make anyone freeze just by shouting, ‘Freeze!'”
“Every time a general or other ‘top brass’ inspected our chambers, they’d find stains and dirt in the toilets and showers. Every single time, we had to clean the toilets and the showers with our toothbrush. It’s one of the most common and disgusting hazing rituals in the army.”
“We had just finished an evening report so the officer on duty—a well-known asshole —sent us all upstairs to our quarters. Just after we’d laid down he called us all downstairs again, because supposedly we were making noise. He did this a few times, and every time we had to get to his office in full gear—gun, helmet, boots, everything—as if we were about to go to war. Then he made us march for an hour. It was 1AM when he finally let us sleep.
The tragedy was that some of us had watchtower duty after, or service in the morning, so we basically didn’t sleep at all. He was a brute, the definition of an army nut.”
“Early in the morning, it’s inspection time. The officers check if everything is clean and in place in the army chambers. They are particularly strict about the way you make your bed—the sheets and covers need to be folded in hospital corners. One morning I’d made mine perfectly, but they still completely stripped my bed, claiming that it wasn’t good enough, and made me do it again. And again. And again. I had to make my bed five or six times before they were satisfied, just because they felt like hazing me.”
http://www.vice.com/536660 Pavlos Toubekis stuff stuff http://www.vice.com/read/what-would-happen-to-the-uk-us-special-relationship-if-donald-trump-is-president Fri, 20 May 2016 14:45:00 +0000
Image by Lia Kantrowitz
This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
These are uncertain times for the “special relationship” between Britain and the United States. In decades past, no one needed to worry that, when there were wars to be fought, profits to be made, and financial regulations to be slashed, trusty old sidekick Britain would be there to back up gallivanting leading man America.
You have to wonder whether that will change now that Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee. British politicians from all parties have been lining up to cash in some free positive PR by having a pop at the biggest target in world politics. David Cameron called his proposal to ban all Muslims from the US “divisive, stupid, and wrong.” The new Labour mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, called Trump “ignorant.”
But the Trump is a violently sensitive man, and he’s not happy about all this. When Piers Morgan put the quotes to him, he seemed to threaten Khan, saying, “Tell him I will remember those statements,” and hinted that Cameron’s comments mean the US and the UK “won’t have such a good relationship anymore.”
With this in mind, I met up with Simon Tate, author of, A Special Relationship? British Foreign Policy in the Era of American Hegemony, and a senior lecturer in the school of Geography, Politics, and Sociology at Newcastle University.
Illustration by Sam Taylor
VICE: How important is the special relationship right now, for both Britain and the United States?
Simon Tate: The first mention of there being an Anglo-American “special relationship” is in Winston Churchill’s “Sinews of Peace” address, delivered in Fulton, Missouri, in 1946. He said, “Neither the sure prevention of war, nor the continuous rise of a world organization, will be gained without what I have called the fraternal association of the English-speaking peoples… a special relationship between the British Commonwealth and Empire and United States.”
In the British public psyche, the relationship is still very important. For politicians, it’s not quite as important as it once was. Both Obama and Cameron have made comments over the last seven years that have sought to move the focus of their foreign policy elsewhere. Cameron once said Britain should be less “needy” when it comes to the US.
A number of British politicians have attacked Donald Trump. In return, Trump has said, “It looks like we’re not going to have a very good relationship.” What do you think a Trump–Cameron special relationship would look like?
My best guess is that a Trump-Cameron relationship will be fairly frosty at a personal level, but the relationship will endure at least at the level of security and intelligence sharing, which is where the relationship really is special and functions best. In fairness to Trump, we also have to remember that the US doesn’t instinctively think of the Anglo-American relationship as a special one—that’s a British term.
Even if he doesn’t become president, Donald Trump might come to Britain soon as part of a foreign trip. That could be a diplomatic nightmare, right?
If you’re the British government, normally you want to meet potential incoming presidents early and get your priorities on the table. It’s just the done thing. I’ve got a hunch the British government might not want to do that, because if it does, it’ll give Trump credibility as a potential leader, and it forces the British to possibly rethink their foreign policy, which they certainly don’t want to do until the Brexit campaign is finished.
What happens if Cameron refuses to meet with Trump?
I don’t think there’s a precedent for that. Potentially, it seals what happens to the special relationship in the next eight to ten years. It’d be hasty to say that it ends the special relationship, because it tends to bounce back, but it certainly goes through some very frosty periods.
And if Cameron does meet with Trump, it could play very badly in the UK. It could actually be good for Britain’s Labour Party Leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
Yes, and I think Corbyn is very interesting here, because he has the potential to reshape British foreign policy. In the years to come, the special relationship won’t be as important as it used to be, but I don’t think the British public is ready for it to end. And I don’t think the Conservative Party is ready for Europe to be our main foreign policy ally.
But I imagine Corbyn looking to speed up the movement of British foreign policy away from its alignment with the US—making us less “needy.” This will probably happen anyway, as Britain seems to be looking toward a multi-polar world with lots of foreign-policy relationships, though that seems to have stalled recently under the current government. Under Corbyn, this move in foreign policy might evolve more quickly.
Theoretically, what would happen if Trump were president and Corbyn were prime minister?
Corbyn and Sanders would be a game-changer. If you think of those two working together over a significant period, you’d be looking at a very different kind of geopolitics. I think the special relationship would shrink to being a military, security, and intelligence relationship. Trump would have to be crazier than people think he is if he decided he didn’t want to share military and security intelligence. And that relationship operates at a level that is almost independent of who the president is.
Some would say a much more dangerous kind of geopolitics. That Trump and Corbyn would not be “responsible,” at least in issues of defense.
I think it depends on who you think should be defending the world. Let’s not forget the UN, let’s not forget NATO: Is that not their job? It depends on many things, including whether you think Russia is dangerous or a useful balance.
How bad would things have to get between, say Trump and Cameron, for there to be trade or foreign-policy implications?
I can’t imagine it ever coming to that. Ultimately, both Cameron and, increasingly, Trump, are hard-nosed politicians, and it isn’t in either of their interests to rewrite economic and foreign policy around a personal grudge. Also, much of the special relationship functions at a military and security level, almost independently of political leaders.
I don’t think we should confuse the term special relationship with a preferential relationship—it is special in the sense of shared culture and history, but not in terms of the two countries doing each other favors, as evidenced by Obama’s message that outside of the EU, Britain would have to go to the back of the line for a new trade deal with the US.
But what happens if a British PM and Trump just don’t talk to each other?
For Britain, it’s a much bigger problem, because we’re used to the relationship being special, whereas America talks about “special relationships.” For most British people, it’s not about intelligence sharing; it’s about state visits. It’s about Obama going to visit the queen.
“Blair was a classic example of British overstretch. He couldn’t say, ‘Let’s do less.'”
So the worst-case scenario is that we don’t have Donald Trump meet the queen?
We don’t have state visits, and in that sense, it looks like the special relationship has ended. But historically, when it has looked like it’s ended, it hasn’t, because of the importance of Europe and the role Britain played negotiating with Europe on America’s behalf. That role doesn’t exist anymore.
So if the special relationship dips, can it recover this time?
America doesn’t need Britain the way it once did. In the past, when the relationship went frosty, it had to recover because both sides needed it to. Britain, with its diplomatic ties all over the world, was still a go-between for America. This time, America doesn’t quite need Britain in the way that it did.
This is something we forget: Britain had phone numbers for the whole world.
Blair tried to exploit that in the run-up to the Iraq war. He was off touring the world, using these links and this influence.
Did it work?
No. It’s that kind of delusion: We’ve still got the phone numbers, but having them doesn’t mean you have influence.
So, really, the worst-case scenario could be a best-case scenario, one that actually allows a different kind of Britain to emerge, a Britain that is more happily realistic about its place in the world.
And about what it can and can’t achieve. It’s OK to say “let’s do less” in the way that Blair, who was a classic example of British overstretch, couldn’t.
I can’t imagine former London Mayor Boris Johnson being happy about that, were he to be prime minister.
Oh God no.
How do you think him and Trump would get along?
Boris is a shrewd politician, so he’d make it work in some way. There is the shared neoliberal-economic outlook with Trump, which bonded Reagan and Thatcher so well. The Johnsons also have family ties with the US. So did Churchill, Boris’s hero, and if Boris can use those ties to the same effect, it will certainly help to oil the diplomatic wheels.
The Boris and Donald show would be quite something.
It would be spectacular! Because they don’t have the diplomatic language you expect from politicians. I wouldn’t say stream-of-consciousness, but it’s not far off.
Would it be terrifying for the rest of the world?
It would be terrifying because it would be unpredictable. I think what you are hoping is that, in Britain’s case, the civil service sets the agenda and says, “This is what we need to do. There are certain limits on what you can and can’t do.” In America, it’s different, but you are still hoping for checks and balances to come into play.
We’ve had this concern in the past—that the personalities of presidents and prime ministers will conflict and that the special relationship will be damaged. But with Blair and Bush, Obama and Brown, and Obama and Cameron, the status quo has prevailed. Will that not be what happens again, even if Donald Trump gets in?
More than likely, the special relationship will prevail. Anthony Eden spectacularly annoyed the Americans through the invasion of Suez, yet his successor MacMillan got on incredibly well with President Kennedy, and no lasting damage was done. It is also true that personalities are only one facet of the special relationship—many suggest that it is the military, security, and intelligence sharing that is more important. If anything makes the special relationship less important going forward, it will either be the strengthening of the EU as a foreign policy actor—and how Britain responds to that—or the refocusing of US foreign policy away from Europe and Russia and toward the Middle East.
http://www.vice.com/536651 Oscar Rickett news news http://www.vice.com/read/why-are-women-in-london-having-so-many-abortions-highest-rate-in-uk Fri, 20 May 2016 15:00:00 +0000
Image via Flickr user Daniel Lobo
Abortion rates among women in London are higher than the
rest of the country, a survey by the Office of National Statistics
(ONS) has shown, revealing that nine out of the ten areas with the highest abortion rates for 2015 in England are in the capital. Barking and Dagenham had the highest overall abortion rate, at 29 for every 1,000 women aged 15 to 44.
This comes just days after the news that the annual number of
abortions in the country has hit a five-year high.
But why London? The answer surely lies in the widening gap between rich and
poor. The five areas with the highest number of terminations in England were Barking and Dagenham, Lewisham, Waltham Forest, Croydon, and Enfield—all in London and all on a different planet to Chelsea, Chalk Farm, and Highgate. According to London’s poverty profile, four of those five high-ranking regions are among the most impoverished in the capital.
We spoke to Katherine O’Brien, public policy manager at British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), to find out why.
Dagenham via wiki
VICE: What were your first thoughts when you saw these stats?
Katherine O’Brien: What’s interesting is that the overall abortion rates in all of
these boroughs is falling. So while they’re still significantly higher than the national
average, they are still coming down. That’s important to remember. These are also areas with high conception
statistics too, so it’s a case of a lot of conception alongside a lot of abortion.
These boroughs do follow the new national trend in terms of age groups, which is that this is not
just a case of thousands of unwanted teenage pregnancies. It’s the rates of older women having abortions which is rising, while teens are falling. It’s a complicated picture.
It’s not as simple as saying these are young London women who need better sex
education in school—although that will be a part of it. It’s not just a
younger women’s issue.
In Barking and Dagenham, in fact, there has been a 19 percent reduction in teen abortions on the previous year. All of these boroughs are very poor though—is that the driving factor?
Yes, you’ll notice is that the high
levels of deprivation are across the board—just looking at Barking and Dagenham, there are high levels of unemployment, high levels of young people not in education or training, levels of poverty, child poverty. While we know that deprivation isn’t
necessarily a direct cause of unplanned pregnancy or abortion rates, it’s
certainly a factor and the two are very linked. Deprived areas also have poorer healthcare
outcomes across the board. This isn’t just an area with higher
abortion rates, but with high rates of mental health problems or shorter life expectancies. All these things play into each other.
Some people who read the headline “London has highest abortion rates” might assume that it’s rising either due to teen pregnancies, which you say isn’t the case, or that other cliché, that high-powered career women are too busy to have children, or more children.
That has been a lot of the media rhetoric
around the rise in older women having terminations. Abortion is a part of women’s lives now
because of changing social aspirations, but then in this case, quite the contrary—it’s boroughs
with very high levels of unemployment. This is why these statistics paint such
a complex picture: on the one hand abortion is linked
to women being more involved in the workplace, but on the other hand it’s linked
to deprivation, poverty and unemployment. London is definitely more a case of
For the most part, access to contraception is improving—but studies suggest that the contraception itself is the problem. A professor told the BBC that it was health concerns and a dislike of contraception that could be partially to blame for the rise in abortions. Having to fuck around trying different methods of contraception because of bad side effects is an ongoing issue.
Exactly. As any woman will know, every type of contraception comes
with potential side effects. Indeed, the effective long-term methods like the
implant and the coil are encouraged by healthcare professionals because they’re
so good at preventing unwanted pregnancy—but these are the ones that will come
with difficult and unmanageable side effects, whether mental or heavy bleeding
or pain or something similar. For some women, these methods just don’t work.
The problem here is that often in areas with high rates of teen pregnancy or abortion women will be encouraged to use these long-lasting methods with side effects, which are seen as a “silver bullet” to reduce these rates. Young people are encouraged to use them, but of course they might not be the right thing for them.
Women don’t want to use these methods or stop
using these methods altogether. Some women will think, ‘You
know what, I’ve had such a terrible time with my implant, I don’t want another
method right now.’ It makes women wary of trying a new one.
solution, until a better form of contraception is eventually produced?
It’s about allowing women to choose from the whole range of
contraceptive options. There are new methods such as the
contraceptive patch and the vaginal ring, which don’t have the same level of
side effects, but are more expensive. We’re worried that women might not be
being offered the full range of methods at a time when budgets are really tight
and everyone is under pressure to cut costs. All options have to be available to
all women if these abortion rates are to reduce in these places.
Follow Hannah Ewens on Twitter.
http://www.vice.com/536650 Hannah Ewens news news http://www.vice.com/read/serial-killer-twitter-teenage-girl-fans Fri, 20 May 2016 14:25:00 +0000
Back in the old days, before the internet and stuff, if you had a thing for a serial killer it was tradition to send him a love letter in prison. But times change. Men are allowed to cry. You can use telephones to look at people’s vacation photos. You can proclaim your love for serial killers on social media, and join thousands of others in following fan pages dedicated to some of history’s most notorious names.
Scrolling through a number of these accounts, it seems that an overwhelming amount of followers are young women—some as young as 16. Confusingly, many of them identify as feminists in their Twitter bios. I couldn’t work this one out; generally, feminism has little to do with lionizing men who are famous for killing women.
But I wanted to understand. What is it about serial killers that appeals to these young women? Why are they comfortable showing off their obsessions on Twitter, the most public forum of them all, when previous digital generations lurked in the darkest depths of anonymous forums, discussing the raw physical appeal of Fred West with other anonymous avatars?
This kind of thing has gone on across Tumblr for years, but even there identities tend to be better concealed. On Twitter, photos and sometimes full names are out in the open for everyone to see (although I’ve withheld the identities of those I spoke to for this piece).
Let’s start with @DailyKillerFact, an account based in Canada with 8,000 followers and infamous serial killer and rapist Richard Ramirez’s face as the profile pic. A short scroll through its feed, I found a tweet that showed photographs taken at the crime scenes of victims of the Hillside Stranglers, a pair of cousins who murdered ten women in Los Angeles between 1977 and 1978. The women in these photos were naked and had been dumped at the side of the road after being raped and killed.
After a short debate with my girlfriend, who wanted to report the page, I instead decided to look at the people who had retweeted and liked the photos. I needed to know what kind of person clicks the “heart” button under pictures of murdered young women.
The answer was: mostly young women. Many with bios that contained the word “feminist” alongside things like “Ted Bundy’s no.1 fan” or “serial killer enthusiast.” I decided to contact some of them to hear what they had to say.
The first person to respond was a 17-year-old who goes to high school in a town of 1,200 people in rural America. While some of her friends know she’s interested in serial killers, she said, they don’t know that her obsession is of a sexual nature.
“I’m sexually attracted to people who have committed violent crimes,” she told me, off the bat. “I think my favorites are the ones who were into necrophilia. There’s a word for —hybristophilia.”
VICE: That’s good to know. Do you remember who or what first turned you on to murderers?
I was watching a documentary about Jeffrey Dahmer and I thought he was attractive, even though he was gay. It took me a while to realize I actually liked him because he killed and ate people.
Just to be clear: you wouldn’t actually want a serial killer to kill and eat you, or to kill and eat anyone yourself?
I don’t want to kill people, but if someone I knew started killing people, I would probably want to screw them regardless of any other part of their personality.
But you identify as a feminist—isn’t men killing, raping, and eating women kind of the opposite of feminism? Or is it the fact that this is exactly the kind of thing you’re not supposed to find attractive that makes it appeal to you so much?
I am a radical feminist who also happens to be highly attracted to people that abuse and murder women. Oops. I actually don’t find Dahmer attractive any more, I like Bundy and Ramirez a lot better, ha-ha.
Do you think these Twitter accounts are irresponsible? Could they normalize killing, desensitize people to it, or even influence people to commit similar crimes?
I think that if anything were to normalize crime it would be popular television. Maybe accounts like @TrueCrimePolls that seem to admire murderers could sort of encourage it, but accounts that only post facts probably don’t. I would think that shows like Hannibal that put violent criminals in a good light are more the perpetrator than people who seek to inform.
Heading over to @TrueCrimePolls, I perused the content. It seemed glibber, more tongue-in-cheek, and with a sort of J-17, teenage crush vibe. It polled followers with questions like “Would you rather have T.J. Lane’s acne?” and posted statuses telling us it was Sandy Hook killer Adam Lanza’s birthday.
Back on @DailyKillerFact was an avalanche of “facts” accompanied by pictures of murderers. Above a photo of Henry Lucas, who stabbed his own mother in the neck and went on to kill 11 more people, there was a caption: “An FBI agent asked Henry Lucas why he had sex with women after he killed them. He replied: ‘I like peace and quiet.'”
More young feminists responded to my messages. Dahmer, Ramirez, and Bundy repeatedly came up as the most popular killers.
“Ramirez is the most attractive, Bundy is the second, and Dahmer’s third,” said a 16-year-old from rural Ohio.
Is there a community of fans like you on social media? And are you comfortable with people knowing about your interests?
I’m pretty open with people knowing about it—I don’t care. People are so closed-minded. I’ve always been into crime documentaries, but it wasn’t until recently I got into serial killers, because of Richard Ramirez. There’s just something fascinating about him.
Why is it that so many young women appear to be attracted to murderers? Would any of them actually want to meet and be involved with a killer? Would you?
It depends. I think women who like serial killers are just attracted to the danger. It all depends on the personality of the killer as to whether or not I’d get involved with one.
Did Ramirez hate women? Was that his motivation for killing them?
I think it was just bloodlust. He loved the sex that was associated with the violence. I don’t think he hated women. In his death row interview he stated that until he started talking to all his female groupies he didn’t realize women really had feelings.
Ted Bundy. Screengrab via Youtube
In the UK, a 19-year-old sociology student responds to my question: what exactly is it about serial killers that appeals to you?
One thing that interests me a lot how they deviate from the norm and don’t really care.
Would you say you have a romantic attraction to some of these famous serial killers?
Because they might actually kill you? Is that what you like about them?
I wouldn’t necessarily say that. Violence is just exciting. If I was to have a killer as a boyfriend it would make me excited, you know? It’s a bit like Russian roulette—my turn could be soon and he could kill me. Spice things up a bit. Conventional stuff is boring.
Are you OK with people knowing?
I’m very open about it, to be fair. My friends know. I don’t really speak about it with my family, though. They probably wouldn’t like it.
Do you consider yourself a feminist?
I have mixed feelings about this, but yeah, I guess so.
Back in the US, a 20-year-old I’ve messaged is firmer about her gender politics. Describing herself as an intersectional feminist, she says: “My feminism condemns what they have done and obviously does not want it to happen again to more women—or anyone, for that matter. I am horrified at the actions, but interested in the deep ‘why?’ factor. Some are attractive physically, I will give them that. But I’m more interested in the psychology.
Do you think there’s an effect from the images you see?
It does desensitize people. The gory images get easier and easier to look at.
Although I’ve heard a number of explanations, I still can’t really fathom why anyone would be attracted to a serial killer, or want to speak so publicly about it. Taking an interest in the psychology of a killer, I get. But actively wanting to date someone who famously enjoys killing women seems a bit counterintuitive.
That said, maybe I’m just not supposed to understand it. Maybe teenage-feminist-serial-killer-fan Twitter just isn’t meant for me.
Follow Joshua Surtees on Twitter.
http://www.vice.com/536620 Joshua Surtees stuff stuff http://www.vice.com/video/cash-for-kim-north-korean-forced-labourers-are-working-to-their-death-in-poland Fri, 20 May 2016 14:10:00 +0000
To turn on English subtitles, click “CC” and change the language to English.
Going off an accident report obtained by VICE, stating that a North Korean welder lost his life in the CRIST shipyard in the Polish seaport of Gdynia, filmmakers Sebastian Weis and Manuel Freundt have uncovered which companies are using North Korean laborers in Poland.
Weis’s and Freundt’s investigation has revealed the conscious and unwitting beneficiaries of these exploitative working conditions. They spoke with North Korean laborers who have been isolated and kept under watch, and who were most likely too afraid of punishment to report their living and working conditions in Poland.
VICE has also gained exclusive access to documents that reveal the wages of North Korean laborers in Poland before the Kim regime’s deductions, as well as confidential service contracts, payment records, registers of persons, passport copies, and excerpts from a population register smuggled out of North Korea, indicating that a Polish company is likely being run by a high-ranking member of the North Korean military.
The research unravels a complex web of organized exploitation, bureaucratic chaos, official indifference, and political ignorance that extends all the way to the European Commission. Most of all, the film shines a light on working conditions that can only be described as forced labor, as defined in the European Convention on Human Rights and by the International Labor Organization.
The documentary poses the question of whether the presence of North Korean forced laborers in Poland is a bureaucratic system error, or rather the result of economic policy that turns a blind eye to the consequences of its actions, as long as European companies profit, while the Kim regime bypasses international sanctions to fill state coffers with foreign currency.
http://www.vice.com/536632 VICE Germany news news http://www.vice.com/read/im-losing-my-mind-after-refusing-to-plead-insanity-for-murdering-my-mom Fri, 20 May 2016 13:45:00 +0000
Life Inside is an ongoing collaboration between the Marshall Project and VICE that offers first-person perspectives from those who live and work in the criminal justice system. Chris Dankovich is a 26-year-old inmate at Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer, Michigan, where he is serving a 25-to-37-year sentence for a second-degree murder he committed when he was 15. He stabbed his mother 111 times.
It was as if I had been bleached from the room.
My six-by-ten cell was white, the walls were white, the floor was white, and the lights were white but never dimmed. The only object in the room, apart from the mattress on the floor, was a stainless-steel toilet—which reflected the white light.
In the courtroom just hours earlier, on May 1, 2006, I’d received a sentence of 25 to 37 years in prison. The judge reminded me I could change my no-contest plea by claiming insanity.
I refused and was removed from the court.
Now I was in the “Pole,” which someone had explained to me was the “Psychological Hole.” It was a place for protecting me, physically, from myself. As I sat there—sometimes reflecting, sometimes just staring at the wall, sometimes napping—I began to wonder whether it got its name because it was where they put people who were crazy, or whether it’s because this was the place they put people to make them crazy. Was there even a distinction?
Apart from when staff delivered meals, I never knew what time it was.
There, to the right, was a message written on a window: “100% Jamaican.” It was scrawled in toothpaste and feces.
But even if the court had listened to the psychologists, I refused to. Try to imagine being 15 years old and being told that you, your brain, and your conception of reality (and everything you knew) was wrong. There I was, so crazy I wouldn’t plead crazy.
When you are alone, truly alone, with no distractions, the only thing you can hear are the whispers of demons. Not real voices, but thoughts that infect your mind, your sense of self, your sense of what is real. What you hear is determined by whether you listen. There is only so much a mind can put up with, particularly when faced with unlimited nothingness.
Is it really possible to drive someone crazy? In such a short time, no, at least not permanently. I could feel it welling up, though. A hypersensitivity at first—I noticed the most subtle, alternating flickering of the white light (on a scale of one to ten, it was the difference between a 9.9 and 10). Patterns, faces, and images appeared in the texture of the walls next to small stains I hadn’t noticed before, the origins of which I didn’t want to consider.
As I lay there, blanket over my head, pinpricks of light shining through the threads, I imagined scenarios in my mind.
There was the girl I used to talk to back in school, who I imagined was coming to check in on me and see how I was doing. I imagined meeting my judge again, and this time I could say whatever I wanted to him—some combination of “fuck you” and “please help me.”
I imagined myself in the hospital, where I went around my 11th birthday, after my mother (to whose murder I had just pleaded no contest) sucker-punched me and threw me head-first into our living room’s glass-and-wood coffee table.
And I saw myself as I was a year earlier, when I had been incarcerated in the highest-security building of the juvenile detention facility. It was the best, and the freest, year of my life, having spent the previous 15-and-a-half years in a house with someone who kept my bedroom window nailed shut and barred me from going outside.
Soon I merely imagined a companion who anesthetized my loneliness: a beautiful girl with a face and a name I could whisper as if she were actually there. A person to talk to, to hold, to hold me.
In my solitude, alone and away from my mother and everyone else who could possibly listen or would possibly care, I muttered thoughts to this girl. And I would imagine her responses, sometimes subtly mouthing the words I pretended she’d say.
http://www.vice.com/536419 Chris Dankovich stuff stuff http://www.vice.com/read/the-vice-morning-bulletin-05-20-16 Fri, 20 May 2016 10:01:00 +0000
(Photo by Phil Roeder, via)
Everything you need to know about the world this morning, curated by VICE.
- DNC to Offer Sanders Policy Influence
In an attempt to avoid conflict at the party convention, the Democratic National Committee plans to offer Senator Bernie Sanders a seat on a key platform committee. Sanders reportedly plans to push his party toward more left-wing policy positions, including a $15 national minimum wage and a more balanced position on Israel.—The Washington Post
- Oklahoma Passes Bill Banning Abortions
The Oklahoma state legislature has passed a bill that would criminalize abortion. Any doctor found to have performed an abortion, except when saving the life of the mother, would be guilty of a felony and receive up to three years in prison. Republican Governor Mary Fallin now has five days to approve the bill.—The New York Times
- Trump Delegate Indicted on Child Porn Charges
Donald Trump’s campaign team said a Maryland delegate accused of producing child pornography will be “replaced immediately.” Caleb Andrew Bailey, 30, has been indicted for the illegal transport of explosives, illegal possession of a machine gun, and child pornography offenses.—USA Today
- San Francisco Police Chief Reigns
San Francisco’s Police Chief Greg Suhr has stepped down hours after a police officer shot and killed an unarmed black woman, 27, suspected of driving a stolen car. Suhr’s resignation was announced by Mayor Ed Lee, who had asked him to quit. It follows recent criticism of racist texts traded by the city’s police officers.—CBS News
- Debris Discovered from EgyptAir Plane
Debris from EgyptAir flight MS804 has been found in the Mediterranean, according to the Egyptian military. Wreckage and passenger belongings were found 180 miles off the coast of Alexandria. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi confirmed the crash and offered his condolences to families of the 66 passengers and crew members on board the Paris to Cairo flight.—CNN
- Second Schoolgirl Rescued in Nigeria
A second girl from the group of 219 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram two years ago has been found, according to the Nigerian army. Serah Luka was among 97 women and children held hostage by Boko Haram who were freed after an operation by Nigerian soldiers in Borno state. The soldiers killed 35 Boko Haram fighters.—Al Jazeera
- Tsai Ing-wen Sworn in as President of Taiwan
Tsai Ing-wen has become Taiwan’s first female leader, having been sworn in as the country’s new president. She urged China to “drop the baggage of history,” but also called for “positive dialogue.” Ms Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party DPP has traditionally favored independence from China.—BBC News
- Israeli Defense Minister Quits
Moshe Yaalon, Israel’s Defense Minister, announced his resignation on Friday, citing a “lack of faith” in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu reportedly offered far-right nationalist politician Avigdor Lieberman the job. Netanyahu is thought to want Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party to join his coalition government.—Reuters
A medical marijuana dispensary (Photo by Adam Jones, via)
- Original Member of Beastie Boys Dead at 52
John Berry, a founding member of the Beastie Boys, credited with coming up with the group’s name, has died at the age 52. Berry’s father said he had been suffering from frontal lobe dementia.—Rolling Stone
- Doctors Cleared to Prescribe Medical Marijuana to Vets
The House of Representatives has voted to allow Veterans Administration doctors to recommend medical marijuana to patients in states where the treatment is legal. It strikes down a Department of Veterans Affairs restriction on medical weed.—The Huffington Post
- Letter that Inspired Kerouac Up for Auction
The 40,000-word letter Neal Cassady sent to Jack Kerouac in 1950, said to have inspired the spontaneous prose style of On the Road, will go up for auction in June. It is expected to sell as much as $600,000.—VICE
- British Columbia’s Tent City to Get Toilets and Showers
A tent city occupying the lawn of a British Columbia courthouse will get flushing toilets and portable showers next week, thanks to a non-profit from Vancouver. A court order has protected the camp from being dismantled, at least until September.—VICE News
Done with reading for today? That’s fine—instead, watch our new documentary about terminally ill Serbians risking jail time to access medicinal cannabis oil.
http://www.vice.com/536548 VICE Staff news news http://www.vice.com/read/cuttings-annie-collinge-sarah-may-v23n3 Mon, 16 May 2016 13:00:00 +0000
Photographer Annie Collinge and set designer Sarah May collaborated together to bring us the beautiful “Cuttings” portfolio this month. The project was recently made into a book from their experiments with materials over the past several years. Annie was previously in our 2012 photo issue for her project, Five Inches of Limbo, where she featured junk store dolls and people she met on the streets of NYC who resembled them.
http://www.vice.com/533741 Annie Collinge and Sarah May photo photo http://www.vice.com/read/game-of-thrones-confirmed-my-immigrant-parents-suspicions-that-americans-are-violent-psychopaths Fri, 20 May 2016 04:00:00 +0000
Over the past few years, I’ve been trying to spend more time
with my parents. Recently, because of my
job as the culture editor of this website, spending time with them has involved watching TV with them.
When my father visited New York earlier
this year, I suggested we watch the “Parents” episode of
Master of None, in which Aziz Ansari‘s character and his Taiwanese American friend take their immigrant
parents out to dinner. Like the characters on the show, I thought this might be
a possible bonding experience, one generation of Asian Americans learning from the plights of another. My father, who was born in Nanjing, China, in 1939 and grew up in Taiwan, wasn’t so
impressed, pointing out the inaccuracies of the regional accents.
“That’s a Cantonese accent,” he scoffed,
about a scene supposedly set in rural Taiwan.
“So it’s not realistic?” I asked.
“Pssh,” he said.
After the show was over I asked what he thought about it.
“I don’t think many people will watch it.”
“Well, did you at least enjoy it?” I asked.
“Not really,” he said. “I usually like
more realistic shows. I like
and Madam President.”
Although a bit deflated, I still enjoyed our experience together,
and was amused by his response. More than that, I felt I learned something I
wouldn’t have otherwise known about him.
The author with his family in Montreal in the mid-1990s
It was with this in mind that, on my most recent trip home to South Carolina, I decided to make my parents watch Game of Thrones with me. GOT is possibly my favorite show on TV, and certainly the one I’ve spent the most time with. After ignoring it for years, this past April I became hooked, binge-watching five seasons in the span of weeks. Now I reference it constantly in social situations. It’s gotten to the point that
VICE’s art editor Nick Gazin drew a
portrait of me with the tagline “James of Thrones.” My
approach to solving various life-conflicts has devolved to, essentially, asking
myself what would Tyrion Lannister do? (Make a joke, then do something clever.)
Anyway, I wanted to share this interest with
my parents—”For work,” I added, playing the dutiful Asian card—and
they graciously agreed to help.
Though my mother seemed to do it entirely out
of maternal kindness, my father appeared mildly curious. He said he’d heard about the
show. When I told him it was one of America’s most popular TV shows, he said, a
bit huffily, “I know, I know.”
“How Come So Many Evil People?”
Warning: Light spoilers through season six, episode four.
I decided to start them off at the beginning of season
six, because I didn’t want to drop them into the middle of the new season, and also
because I didn’t think anyone would want to read about season one, regardless
of who they’re watching it with.
I regretted starting
so far into the series immediately. The first episode, “The Red Woman,” changes
perspectives and settings every few minutes, as if to remind viewers that each
remaining character still exists. Watching with my parents was going to require a lot more explaining
then I had bargained for. I explained to them who Jon Snow was, who Sansa Stark was, who Theon Greyjoy was, who the men attacking them were, who Ramsay Bolton was, who Brienne of Tarth was, and who Podrick was.
Onscreen, the Waif from the temple of the Many-Faced God tossed a
bo staff at Arya Stark, then began hitting her before she could defend herself.
“What is that,” my mother asked, of the scene. “Want her to fight?” With each blow my mother made a sound of disapproval and shook her head as my father watched silently.
“How come so many evil people?” my mother
said, disturbed. “I don’t really like that. Who write this
movie is bad. Very cruel. Very few kindness.”
“Stupid People Watch Stupid Movie”
Onscreen, the titular Red Woman Melisandre began to slowly
disrobe, removing her amulet to reveal her true identity as an extremely old woman,
and my father yawned.
“Ai yu, did you see that?” asked my mother, astonished. “The young beautiful
lady become so old lady? In order to save that person life? She become a completely
“No, this is not a good movie, Jems,” my mother concluded,
after the old-woman version of Melisandre climbed into bed, ending the episode. “Whoever write
this, I don’t like it. Bad. Everything is violence.”
“Um-hmm,” I said.
“It promote the
violence, is bad. Did you see, all the children is hitting each other?” she said, referring to my sister’s young kids, who were in the other room. “Even our
little one. I saw hitting, kicking. I say, ‘No, don’t do that.’ And your sister
is going to let them take the lesson in karate, so promote the hitting and
“Can you understand why Americans like
this TV show?” I asked.
“Many stupid,” posited my father.
“They reflect the meanness in the people,”
said my mother. “Evil. See evil like nothing. No, it not my kind of movie.”
At this my father yawned extremely loudly.
“Stupid people watch stupid movie,” he
mused. He turned the channel to the local news and yawned loudly again.
After the local weather segment, he got up and went to bed. I asked my mother if
she wanted to watch the
second episode of season six.
“Well, I’ll stay with you, whatever you
do,” she said, beaming though a little worried. “Mommy love you and your sister.”
“That’s His Father, and He Kill Him?”
“So who is this person?” my mother asked, as Ramsay Bolton
stabbed his father in the gut.
“Remember the guy who I told you was
the worst?” I said. “That’s him.”
“That’s his father, and he kill him? What
kind of people are they?”
After watching Ramsay feed his
mother-in-law Walda and his newborn baby brother to the dogs, my mother turned
to me, appalled.
“Jem, this is a bad movie,” she said, shaking her head. “You shouldn’t watch. When we see people don’t have heart, our
heart will harden too. We always get inferenced by the thing we see.”
sighed and continued: “I think that America has problem, enjoy this kind of movie, really have
problem. No wonder they vote for Trump. They crazy. I cannot believe this.”
Onscreen, in yellow- and orange-toned
Dorne, Ellaria Sand stabbed Prince Doran in the stomach and one of the Sand
Snakes stabbed his bodyguard in the back.
the guy who was stabbed?” I said, to give some context. “He was the prince of
Dorne. And his son was killed by the same group of people. Does that make
My mother sighed wearily. “Just too many
kingdom, too many princes.”
“Oh, this is the dwarf,” she said,
upbeat, when earnest-faced Tyrion Lannister appeared in the dragons’ lair. Tyrion
seemed to be one of the few characters she actually liked, perhaps because I
had introduced him in an earlier scene as “smart” and “decent.”
“It interesting that monster can listen
to him,” observed my mother, smiling at Tyrion’s ability with the dragons.
“Even Shakespeare Was Not This Violent, and They Have Lots of Good Conversations.”
After Jon Snow is revived and the credits rolled, my mother
said, “OK, we have two episode. Don’t watch more. That’s enough. Whoever wrote
this story, too violent, not good idea. You know when people watch too much
violence, they become violent. They don’t see anything wrong with violence.
Their heart become very hard. They have no sympathy. This is not for Mommy.”
“Do you see any redeeming qualities?” I
“Well, I don’t know,” said my mother.
“People feel differently, but the way I see, it just too much violence for me.
It’s not my kind of movie. Do you know what kind of movie I like better? Something
The Sound of Music. Something
not violent. Or
The Nun Story, Romeo and Juliet. Even Shakespeare was
not this violent, and they have lots of good conversations. The sad thing is, I
see lots of old classic movies when I’m growing up, and I think they’re
beautiful. And now lots of movie are violence, and it’s really not good. People
are different. I don’t like this kind of movie. Actually, I prefer movie that promote love and kindness, not just violence and illegal stuff. Really too many evil, and too many scam.”
“OK,” I said. “We’ll watch one or two
My mother laughed, and repeated, “OK,”
without much enthusiasm.
When 9 PM rolled around the next night, my father had disappeared
from the kitchen, but I was able to persuade my mother to watch the
fourth and newest episode with me.
By Game of Thrones standards, “Book of the Stranger” is miraculously nonviolent, mostly showing scenes of happy-ish reunions and scheming, though it does end—spoiler—with a long segment in the Dothraki camp, where two of the Kalansar are killed in a dark alley and Dany burns the remaining patriarchs alive before victoriously emerging from the building’s flaming shell, unharmed (and unclothed).
After the episode, I asked my mother what
she thought. “Did you like it better now? Same? Was it still too violent?”
“Still too much violence,” she said, shaking
her head, then smiling: “And too nekkid.”
I was still thinking about the experience a few days later, back in Brooklyn. I had laughed at many of my parents’ responses, but there was something else that stuck with me, after the laughter. I occurred to me that, at some point, our roles had somehow reversed. Instead of their explaining things to me, the
way it used to be, here I was explaining everything to them, elaborating the backstory, discerning what was important for them to know and what they could just
My new role extended beyond guiding them through Game of Thrones, this TV show neither of them had watched nor would ever likely watch again. It included things like having to teach my father how to send texts on their new
iPhone (they share a single cell phone between them), having to set up my mother’s email account. Helping my father to carry a bookcase and my mother to wash the dishes. Invisible though irrevocable moves toward finality and what I imagined as a kind of darkness.
I thought of the future, of wanting to raise kids of my own some day, and remembered something the writer
Alejandro Zambra had once
said, how “the purpose of adults is to answer difficult
questions for children,” and I knew I would need to improve, before it was too
Follow James Yeh on Twitter.
http://www.vice.com/536076 James Yeh stuff stuff http://www.vice.com/read/why-some-queer-people-are-boycotting-la-pride Fri, 20 May 2016 04:00:00 +0000
Marchers promoting ‘Transformers: The Ride’ and the TV show ‘Sean Saves the World’ at LA Pride, 2013. Photo by Jamie Lee Curtis Taete
The world’s first organized pride parades took place simultaneously in New York City and Hollywood, California on June 28, 1970. The Los Angeles march was organized by Christopher Street West (CSW), an organization founded in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots, which had happened exactly one year earlier. The parades symbolize the moment when the queer community literally took to the streets with the unanimous proclamation that we are here, and everywhere.
CSW has remained at the wheel of the now-colossal LA Pride Event every June. However, over the years, the organization has faced criticism and raised eyebrows for some of its decisions. Like the time they named Paris Hilton and her mother Grand Marshals of Pride. The pop culture icon’s response to being asked to be a major part of LGBTQ history and remembrance? “That’s hot.”
This year, CSW sparked controversy following several major changes to LA Pride. The first and most symbolic was the “rebranding” of Pride into a music festival featuring headliners Carly Rae Jepsen and Charlie XCX. This led to an increase in ticket prices from $20 a day to $35 a day or $55 for a weekend pass. The Friday night Trans Social celebration was cut down from four to two hours, and the Friday night Dyke March was trimmed from seven to two hours. The traditional “Free Friday” was eliminated altogether. The fact that LA Pride is an LGBTQ is only mentioned as a footnote on the event’s website.
Staff from the Los Angeles-based Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team (APAIT) under the direction of Peter Cruz, initially brought their concerns to CSW at their public board meeting, where they spoke during public comment. A few weeks later, they discovered that CSW was moving forward with the changes.
“That’s when we spoke at the West Hollywood City Council meeting and we expressed our feelings to them,” Cruz told VICE. “It was very telling because at the city council meeting, it was clear that it wasn’t just us, it was the LGBTQ community at large that were against the changes made by CSW.”
Following this, APAIT officially withdrew from LA Pride and announced their intentions to boycott the festivities. The movement grew swiftly under the #NotOurPride hashtag and was endorsed by several other groups, including the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF). Cruz drafted a letter of demands that addressed multiple points: that the lesbian and transgender celebrations be returned to their original length with a statement of apology from CSW, increased transparency with need-based ticket distribution, clarity on how many nonprofits will be able to have booths at the festival, and an apology to the LGBTQ community for the “rebrand.”
LA Pride responded with a letter on Friday, May 13 that apologized to the community at large and conceded to lower the ticket prices (the updated site lists the new prices as $25 a day in advance or $30 at the door, with weekend passes available for $45) and restore the trans event to its original length, as well as the return of “Free Friday.”
Without meeting the other demands, though, the boycott will go on as planned. “While this is a good first step in the right direction, it is still not enough to warrant an end to the boycott,” said Cruz.
“This is much beyond transgender inclusion,” said LGBTQ activist Robin Tyler, who told VICE the real issue is CSW’s interest in making money, rather than serving the community.
In a statement to VICE, Chris Classen, president of CSW, denied this was the case. “CSW would never, intentionally or unintentionally, dimmish where we came from, and where we are going. CSW looks for corporate partners to help underwrite the cost of producing the celebration. We also keep in mind that we don’t want it to be too corporate.”
Los Angeles Pride isn’t the only festival facing accusations about commercialization. Chipotle floats and alcohol sponsors have become standard fixtures at these gay bacchanals, raising eyebrows and inciting movements like Gay Shame in San Francisco, a collective of queer individuals who declare that “we will not be satisfied with a commercialized gay identity that denies the intrinsic links between queer struggle and challenging power.”
As Christina Cauterucci pointed out in her 2015 criticism of Washington DC’s Capital Pride: “Today’s Pride threatens to turn a historical, divorced from the context of ongoing battles for queer liberation in favor of a bland street fair that suits the least common denominator of the gay experience.”
CSW’s response has left some feeling uneasy, particularly because of recent threats to transgender rights—including recent legislation in North Carolina, which makes it illegal for anyone to use a bathroom that does not adhere to the gender found on their birth certificate.
So while the LGBTQ community at large is fighting for civil rights, the significance of Pride—as not only an event, but a concept—becomes all the more essential. There is still a need to declare, once again and at an all-time high decibel, We are here, we are everywhere. Cruz and his fellow organizers are adamant that their Pride cannot be bought or sold.
“My family totally didn’t accept me being gay and so I had to deal with the coming out process and the baggage that comes with it by myself,” Cruz said. “And the first time I was at LA Pride, I thought, I can openly be me, and not have to hide being gay. People don’t care here.”
There is a community meeting of #NotOurPride scheduled for Thursday, May 19 at ACLU of Southern California from 6:30-8:30 PM, where the boycott will decide how they are going to respond officially to CSW’s letter.
http://www.vice.com/534847 Joe Faragher news news http://www.vice.com/read/on-demand-fuel-services-could-make-gas-stations-go-extinct Fri, 20 May 2016 04:00:00 +0000
Photo courtesy of Filld
The first modern gas station opened in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on December 1, 1913. It was a Gulf Oil station, where gas attendants refueled cars from pumps around a pagoda-style building. On its first day in business, gas sold for 27 cents per gallon.
As gas stations became ubiquitous, they shaped our roadsides and symbolized mobility. It’s where baby boomers like my dad learned basic car maintenance; after the oil crisis of the 1970s, gas stations also connected us to foreign affairs. I work at a gas station in Pittsburgh, not far from that original Gulf Oil station, and I’ve always loved the way gas stations bring together people from all walks of life. Regardless of race or gender or class, everybody needs to fill up.
But the days of gas stations could be numbered. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors, predicted they’d go extinct in the 2014 documentary Pump, due to the rise of electric cars. Over 300,000 people are on a waiting list to buy Tesla’s Model 3 and earlier this month, General Motors and Lyft announced they would begin testing self-driving electric taxis within a year. Some experts estimate electric vehicles could become mainstream by 2040. And in the meantime, fuel delivery startups have already begun inching out conventional gas stations.
Companies like Yoshi and Filld—which some have described as “Uber for gas stations”—could obliterate gas stations even before cars stop using gas. Here’s how it works: Through an app, customers can summon a driver to fill up their tanks, at any time and almost any place. Yoshi members pay $15 a month for the convenience and receive about 25 cents off per gallon. Non-members pay around 30 cents per gallon above the market rate. Yoshi also sells a mechanism so delivery drivers can open fuel cap flaps.
Filld customers have to leave their gas flaps open each time, and they’re charged a delivery fee up to $5 on top of the price of fuel, which is matched with the cheapest nearby gas station.
Photo courtesy of Yoshi
Yoshi has thousands of customers in San Francisco, Nashville, and Atlanta. Filld serves Silicon Valley and San Francisco, but has plans to expand. Similar companies have popped up in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Seattle.
Yoshi and Filld each have a fleet of pickup trucks with 110-gallon tanks in the bed. That’s the largest possible size allowed by law before a permit is required, and their equipment is certified by the Department of Transportation. Yoshi co-founder Nick Alexander told me his company is safer than filling up at a gas station, because his drivers use a grounding cable to prevent static electricity build-up (which is uncommon, but can cause refueling fires).
“Whenever you see the horror YouTube videos where something goes wrong, it’s because there was a spark,” he said. “We eliminate any chance of that.”
I understand the appeal. Most of our customers have made it perfectly clear that they don’t like gas stations: It’s another stop on the way home, it’s crowded, other drivers can be pushy and rude, and the stations can be dangerous at night. Gas stations don’t have a lot of fuel options either—most stations only offer gasoline; methanol, hydrogen, or compressed natural gas pumps would require renovations so expensive that most gas station owners won’t do it without grants.
Yoshi and Filld hope to change that by making alternative fuel sources more accessible. Christopher Aubuchon, the CEO of Filld, told me “our equipment can handle ethanol and methanol right now.” And Alexander, from Yoshi, said his company is “less interested in gas than we are for paving the way for hydrogen cars.”
Like a future where electric cars are ubiquitous, it might be some time before alternative fuel becomes the norm. Roughly 40 million gas tanks are filled each day, and going to the gas station seems ingrained into our culture, environmental concerns notwithstanding. Unlike Uber and Lyft, which were successful in part because the taxi industry was already vulnerable, the gas station industry earned record profits the last two years.
Jeff Lenard, the Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives for the National Association of Convenience Stores, has doubts about the future of fuel delivery. “There’s a reason people don’t pay for full service at gas stations anymore—it’s cost,” he told me.
Indeed, gas station attendants exist almost exclusively in states like New Jersey and Oregon, where state laws prevent people from pumping their own gas. Aubuchon hopes Filld drivers will become a 21st Century version of the attendant, by washing windows and checking air pressure in addition to filling up the tank.
But what about all the other conveniences that gas stations offer—the hot coffee, the snacks, the lottery tickets? If the gas station’s days are numbered, where will people have the chance to rub shoulders with people from other walks of life?Aubuchon hopes parks will become the next community hub, but that seems too idealistic. And other community spaces—like grocery stores or shopping malls—are slowly being replaced by on-demand delivery services.
Last year, Sheetz—one of the country’s biggest gas station chains—opened a fuel-less store with space for 200 people. It sells all the conveniences of a gas station, minus the gas. In the future, Sheetz could start delivering food and alternative fuel through an app too, and eventually, in theory, people could order Sheetz slushies through an app while waiting for their car batteries to charge.
Whatever the future holds, one thing is clear: The gas station where I work, like that very first one in Pittsburgh, will one day be a relic of the past.
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http://www.vice.com/536065 Gavin Jenkins tech tech http://www.vice.com/read/inside-the-florida-trailer-park-for-convicted-sex-offenders Thu, 19 May 2016 20:00:00 +0000
Jamie Turner, left, takes part in a therapy session in Pervert Park. Image courtesy of The Film Sales Company. Photo by Lasse Barkfors
Jamie Turner ruined his life when he was 22 years old. He was looking for attention by responding to an older woman seeking sex on Craigslist, but the poster, who was supposedly 30, said she wanted to bring her teenage daughter in the mix. The woman was persistent, Turner later claimed in counseling—she kept pushing.
When Turner eventually showed up at what he thought was the woman’s house, he was cuffed by undercover cops To Catch a Predator style.
Once he was released from prison, life didn’t get much better for Turner. In Florida, as in many states, sex offenders typically aren’t allowed to live near places where children congregate. In fact, it’s so hard to find a place that isn’t close to a school, a park, a playground, or a daycare center that parole officers in Miami have been known to drop people off under a bridge for lack of better options. (And even then, they were in apparent violation of the law.) Once Turner was close to being released, a prison employee helped him check various addresses to see where he could go.
“She checked my father’s address and it was a perfect bubble of awesomeness,” Turner, who’s now 27, told VICE. “But a real asshole of a probation officer rejected it and said there was a community pool there. And I couldn’t go to my mom’s because she lives within 700 feet of a playground.”
Instead, he ended up booking a room at a “real shit-hole” of a hotel where he said the owners charged sex criminals weekly rates to live three-to-a-room. But the day before his release, that spot was given to someone else. Turner panicked, because he heard that if you’re a sex offender and don’t have a permanent address when your sentence is up, you get sent directly to county jail.
Luckily for Turner, he snagged one of the coveted 120 spots at Palace Mobile Home Park in St. Petersburg, where he became a subject of a new documentary called Pervert Park. The Sundance award-winning film, which opens in New York on Friday, is a study of one of the few places in America intended to exclusively house sex offenders. It offers a series of unflinching portraits of people who do terrible things and somehow have to live with their pasts.
Scandinavian filmmakers Frida and Lasse Barkfors first read about Palace in a Danish newspaper, and got the sense it was a self-contained, almost communal place where residents provided services for one another and rarely interacted with the outside world. When they first visited in 2010, they realized that, in reality, Palace is the home of Florida Justice Transitions, a program designed to help offenders reintegrate into a society that wants them to disappear forever.
Even though it wasn’t what they expected, the couple started filming anyway, though at first, they were too terrified to leave each other’s sides while doing so. As one might imagine, some of what they heard was downright terrifying. For instance, the film opens with a shaking, apparently drugged-up man describing the time he was sexually rejected and then reacted by driving to Mexico, abducting a child, and raping her in the desert.
“I made sure that we were sitting between him and the door and not the opposite.” Frida told me.
But it was important for her to start off the film with the most disturbing interview possible, so that the audience wouldn’t feel like the abuse was being minimized. This was also strategic from a basic storytelling perspective.
“We wanted the film to feel how we felt when we first came into the park,” Lasse told me. “We were scared when we first came here and we learned slowly about this and we wanted to make the same journey for the viewer.”
Image courtesy of The Film Sales Company. Photo by Lasse Barkfors
However, Pervert Park does serve to at least partially humanize people we might typically consider soulless monsters. Some are shown to be victims themselves, like William Fuery, the park’s maintenance man. He says he grew up getting fondled by his babysitter and got a girl pregnant when he was a teen. After deciding to man up and join the Navy, Fuery ran into trouble again when his family car broke down on a trip to Chicago. While he was getting help, a drunk driver killed his wife and one-year-old son. Later, when he was with a new woman, her daughter had a sleepover. He was in bed smoking a joint and masturbating to pornography, he says, when a young girl walked in the room. She told her parents what happened and they insisted that he molested her, even though the girl said he did not, according to Fuery.
He got five years probation, but then ended up going to prison for dirty urine.
A more complicated example is that of Tracy Lynn Hutchinson, who says she was raped by her father and his friends growing up, and went on to have a sexual relationship with him as an adult. Later, she met a man online who said he would send her money if she had sex with her eight-year-old son. Initially, Hutchinson says, she resisted, before eventually committing the crime. Given her experience with incest, it’s unclear if she understood how wrong that was at the time she did it, though. And while the park has an in-house counselor, Hutchinson tells the filmmakers this is the first time she’s truly confessed her whole story.
Suffice it to say the subject matter is far from light, but there is something fascinating about watching people say things that are borderline unspeakable on camera—and through tears. Maybe it’s just misery porn. But it’s also uniquely confusing and even surreal to feel empathy for people who have been convicted of harming a child. And the larger point to the film is asking how much more America need to punish people who have already served prison time, particularly the ones who seem to display genuine remorse. As the number of sex offenders in Florida has more than doubled in the past decade, the question of what to do with them is even more important than when the film began production.
Still, Frida maintains that she and her partner did not set out to make an “activist” film. “If people see this and think that we should treat these people better, that’s great,” she said. “If not, then fine. We just wanted people to see the other side.”
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http://www.vice.com/536338 Allie Conti film film http://www.vice.com/read/edward-burtynsky-shows-us-impending-enviro-apocalypse-in-high-definition Thu, 19 May 2016 19:55:00 +0000
All photos by Edward Burtynsky, courtesy of Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto unless otherwise noted
Edward Burtynsky is one of the better-known contemporary Canadian photographers. People in and outside the industry have marveled at his still and moving images that show the devastating impacts humans have had on nature. His work is at once stunning and revolting. “Manufactured Landscapes,” his photo and documentary project on the consequences of industrialization produced in the first half of the aughts, was, for many, an awakening: our footprint was, is, colossal. Three years ago, he released “Watermark,” which explores our relationship with water, reminding us of its importance, to us and to the whole fauna and flora, and that it should not be taken for granted.
Now, he’s working on a new project “Anthropocene.” To make the case that humans have ushered the planet into a new geological era, he’s embraced new technologies, from 3D printing to virtual reality. As he recounted his experience filming the largest burning of illegal ivory tusks in Kenya, from which he had just returned and enthusiastically explained the mandate of his new studio Think2Thing, I was reminded of the enduring role storytellers, journalists, photographers, filmmakers, artists, and the likes have in raising awareness and provoking discomfort, so that we do not resign ourselves to the status quo.
VICE: At the end of April, Kenya’s President set ablaze 105 tons of illegal elephant ivory and more than one ton of poached rhino horns. What compelled you to capture this historical moment?
Edward Burtynsky: I’m currently working on a multimedia project that involves a feature documentary film, a book, an exhibition, which on top of having prints on the walls offers new experiences such as virtual reality and 3D. It explores the idea of the “Anthropocene.” Humanity spent the last 11,000 years in a stable period called the Holocene. But geologists are now saying that we should think of the present as a time of change for the state of the planet. We’re entering the “Anthropocene.” The whole project tries to define what are the characteristics of this event, what we are doing that is bringing this event forward, and how is this event revealing itself from the sediments to the atmosphere. One of the ways to go about it is to look at extinction. The last time we had such a big extinction was over 60 million years ago when the dinosaurs disappeared. A meteor impact hit the planet and created a dark decade. Now, rather than a meteor impact, extinction is brought about by humans. We are the event. The elephants, for instance, have been dropping at a rate of approximately 12 percent per year because they’re being hunted by and large for their tusks. The Kenyan burning of ivory stockpile is a response to that, a way to take ivory off the market.
Yet, many critics have said that destroying the seized tusks won’t actually stop the poaching of elephants.
I don’t think it will; but it does bring awareness. By making people realize that this is a terrible problem that is happening right now, you can bring that story to the buyers of ivory, to the people who have some control over borders and who can stop the flow of ivory. You have to bring attention to the problem because if you don’t, then nothing happens. It’s a desperate measure in desperate times. Everybody that was there hopes that we’ll never have to have another one like this.
Authorities estimated that about 12,000 tusks were being burned, about 6,000 elephants. Since it is believed that 25,000 elephants are killed annually, this represents only a quarter of the yearly destruction of herds by humans. So, the people present were by and large saddened by the fact that humans can’t keep their hands off these magnificent animals because it’s worth so much money. The piles of burnt ivory were valued at over $150 million.
What was that moment like?
It was very tense. It was pouring the whole morning and the evening before. We wanted to shoot something that would be memorable but, by morning, we still hadn’t had permission at that time to fly the drone we brought equipped with a 5K EPIC camera. In Kenya, drones are illegal. Since the President was going to be present, there was no way that we could do a sneak drone flight through it. We didn’t get permission until about an hour after the leader, Uhuru Kenyatta, had left the site. We had about an hour and a half before sunset. It took us about forty minutes to get it up in the air and we got 3 successful flights over the site while it was burning.
Why bring new capture technologies to cover an event such as the burning of illegal ivory?
Thanks to high-resolution cameras we were able to shoot simultaneously around the piles and capture over 2,000 images. Then, we used software to put all of these together and render each tusk fully, including the text that identified each one, the texture, and the colors. The resulting file can be printed as a 3D object, experienced online or in virtual reality. At some point, you’ll be able to experience the pile at scale and walk around it.
I see it as an extension of capturing and experiencing our world through the photographic process. For a long time, we had the X and the Y, the two dimensions; but now, we can add the third dimension, the Z. I’ve been calling it “Photography 3.0.” I like exploring new tools and bringing them to artists. It’s what I did 30 years ago with color printing at Toronto Image Works. Now we’re bringing artists in here to be able to use these new tools to start to think differently, to make things that were impossible up until now.
Photo by Jim Panou / Edward Burtynsky Studio
Throughout your career, you’ve been documenting devastating impacts that humans have had on the environment, what changes have you noticed in our relationship to nature over that period of time?
I’ve been interested in the scale and speed at which humans have been affecting the natural world. Whether it’s sea life, wetlands, or forests, we’ve been involved in the transformation of many landscapes. All living creatures go to nature to find the source of what they need to survive. What I’ve seen working on my projects for the past 35, 40 years, is the speed and scale of change brought about by technology, that has allowed us to move from, when I was born, 2.5 billion humans to now 7.5. That acceleration has a lot of repercussions for the environment: oceans are being depleted of fish, getting warmer, and more acidic; coral life is nearly lost; forests are constantly being pressured. We’re creating wasteland from what once was a natural landscape. It is daunting to think of what the solutions are. Having seen those wastelands has given me the sense that time is of the essence. Time for talking is over and it’s time for action. The burning of the tusks, whether people agree with it or not, is something that brings world attention and says: “we need to do something now, not tomorrow.”
What impacts are Canadians having on the environment?
As Canadians, we are the custodians of one of the most important forest in the world, the Boreal forest. Biologists and scientists like to say that it’s the second lung of the world, the first being the Amazon. It’s under threat because of global warming, the pine beetle epidemic, drought, and so on. We also have the Great Lakes, which represent 22 percent of the world’s known available freshwater. Add to that the two million lakes north of the 49th parallel and we have 32 percent of the world’s known freshwater. In comparison, China with 1.5 billion people only has eight percent. We are the stewards of an incredible and important piece of property. Thus, we have a big responsibility.
I’m encouraged by the current government because the discussion is now on the table and an action plan is being put together. We still have things to resolve such as how to deal with the oil sands and the additional CO2 emissions that results from that type of extraction and how can we become an example for the world. The biggest thing that the Western world has to do is help to prevent an increase in the number of coal plants going into India, Indonesia, Africa, and China. If all the coal plants that are currently in the books are constructed, then, I believe it’s game over. So we need to figure out how do we leapfrog over coal power.
One can make the argument that the forest fires happening in Fort McMurray remind Canadians of the impacts of our behaviors.
We’re seeing these enormous events occurring now, from the loss of the coral reef, to Hurricane Katrina, or the forest fires in Fort McMurray, that can be attributed to the burning of fossil fuel, the reduction of forest canopies, or of planktons in the ocean, and so on. We’re losing the natural mechanisms for dealing with C02 while adding more of it to the system. Our hands are all over the problems.
Photo by Jim Panou / Edward Burtynsky Studio
In that context what impact can visual storytellers such as yourself, still hope to make?
As photographers, we capture these worlds that most of us no longer engage with, such as the wastelands, or the mines, the logging areas or the fisheries. There are no reasons for us to go there anymore. We go to the shopping mall instead. Showing these places on films or on camera allow us to own up to the fact that there is another world that is experiencing change. As our cities grow, other areas are diminishing. There’s a yin to the yang. I believe in the power of images to be able to open up consciousness and raise awareness to a world that’s happening around us and that we have no opportunity to see on our own.
What does 3D bring to the table?
3D is allowing artist to have access to tools that give them new ways to tell stories. Artists are a consciousness. They are often the researchers in the R&D lab of human experience, understanding where we’re going, where our psyches are going, and where desires are going. Artists are always at the cutting edge of fooling around with the expanding human consciousness. 3D, whether as a computer or VR experience, or as a physical object, will have impacts deep into the future. I’m interested in getting them in the hands of creators to build better worlds.
For instance, we’re trying to replicate the shell of a turtle that’s being threatened by ravens who have taken to killing them for fun. With the help of scientists we’re hoping to create a realistic copy that as soon as the raven pokes it with his beak sends a smell or a response that deters him from trying again. We’re intervening in nature to create a moment that helps these turtles survive. To succeed it needs to be as realistic as it can be.
You’re also working with virtual reality, why take on two new technologies at once?
There a natural fit. If I’m working with capturing something full color in three dimensions that I can print, than it already exists as a file on the computer and can be easily experienced in the virtual reality headsets. Once you go in the third dimension, all these tools start to make sense. They’re just extensions of ways of experiencing the world.
A lot of people believe VR creates more empathy; do you share those views?
It can create more empathy in the viewer if used properly. Right now, it’s still a pretty blunt instrument. People are not using it so effectively. I’m really curious as to how one begins taking someone through a 360 experience and actually guides their viewing, keeping their attention in the right space. When done well, you can feel as if you’re actually in another space experiencing that moment and it’s kind of uncanny.
Hearing you talk, I feel that calling you a photographer would be reductive or is it that being a photographer is more than taking pictures?
I’ve never been just a photographer because my curiosity runs 30 deep. Now, it’s a team effort. I’m more of a director now, whether it’s running my businesses, making films, or photography. I’m using teams to achieve what it is that I want to achieve. I couldn’t be doing this without great people around me.
What have been some of the most memorable moments that you have experienced?
One of the first places where I was totally blown away, were the shipwrecks in Bangladesh in the 2000s. It was like being Dickens and going back to see the beginning of the industrial era when the conditions were so dangerous people were dying. It was jaw-dropping and hard to believe that it was happening today. Around the same time, I also went to India. Coming from Canada, I had never seen such poverty, people being born and dying on the streets, the whole cycle of life right in front of you. It was an awakening in understanding the scale of humanity and its impacts.
How have those experiences shape the way you lead your life?
I try to live as sustainably as one can. I have this property up North where I planted over 2,000 trees. When I travel, I offset on the best standard I can find. I’ve had a hybrid car for years and only use it when absolutely needed. I prefer to bike. I try to eat sensibly. And in my work, I always advocate for a more sustainable world. I’ve become a strong advocate for sustainability.
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http://www.vice.com/536372 Laurence Butet-Roch photo photo http://www.vice.com/read/the-artist-who-plays-house-with-her-deformed-sculptures Thu, 19 May 2016 16:34:00 +0000
Sculptures on exhibit at La Neomudejar in Madrid, Spain. All photos by Tiffany Han
Fardou Louise Keuning and I were seated at a long dinner table at La Neomudejar, an experimental art museum in Madrid, Spain. The lighting was dim, like a séance in a bad horror film, and the six guests seated around the table weren’t too lively either. In fact, they didn’t move or speak at all. Their bones were made of chicken wire, their skin papier-mâché. The food was fake, too: insulation-foam cakes, uncooked noodles, and toy chicken legs.
Keuning, a 31-year-old artist from the Netherlands, calls these sculptures her “creatures,” and it’s not difficult to understand why. Some have deformed limbs; others have burnt skin. Their facial expressions range from Buddha-like tranquility to utter terror. She doesn’t just call them “creatures”—nearly human, but not quite—because of their unusual aesthetic. It’s because, to her, they are almost alive.
Fardou Louise Keuning posing with one of her “creatures”
Before starting the dinner parties at La Neomudejar, Keuning had already forged a successful art career. She trained in sculpture and installation at the Amsterdam University of the Arts, and after graduating in 2008, she took on artistic residencies in Africa and Brazil.
“I got really inspired by these African animistic beliefs that material can have senses,” she told me. “In voodoo, the sculptures come alive. You have to bring them food, you have to bring them drinks. You have to actually play with them.”
For Keuning, sculpting wasn’t just about making a perfectly symmetrical face or realistic skin—that was only the beginning. “When the sculpture itself says, ‘Hey, now I’m finished, now I’m someone—then we can start to meet.”
She called the process of bringing her creatures to life “play,” like an adult version of a childhood tea party. “I play with them like when I was a little girl. You have these fake teacups and fake food, you’re playing like there’s a little party and your friends are coming over.”
Keuning’s “tea party” doesn’t stop when an exhibition ends. In fact, when her show at La Neomudejar closed at the end of April, she propped her creatures up in chairs, at a table, to live out their days at her father’s country house in Ontinyent, Spain, at least until her next exhibition. “They will never be packed up in plastic.”
Gigo, a sculpture made from silicone molds of Keuning’s husband
It’s hard to understand Keuning’s relationship to her “creatures,” until you’ve seen Gigo. Unlike the rest of Keuning’s creatures, Gigo isn’t deformed or burnt. He has a rounded chin and thin lips, and his eyes are closed in relaxation. You might even call him handsome. Even still, it took me by surprise when Keuning called him her boyfriend.
Gigo’s face and hands were created from a silicone mold of Keuning’s husband, which was then filled with urethane foam. One of Keuning’s friends, the artist Mareke Geraedts, clarified that Gigo was more like a personification of a boyfriend than an actual lover. “She made Gigo into a more universal concept—love, coming home, trusting the one you love,” Geraedts explained via email.
But that doesn’t quite capture the way Keuning behaves around the sculpture. Shortly after he was created, Keuning took Gigo with her on an artistic residency in Spain. “I was living with him day in and day out, trying to figure out if he could become more than just a papier-mâché doll because of all the energy I put into it,” she said. “I thought, ‘I’m going to make a boyfriend, and do everything you do with a partner.'”
Keuning documented their burgeoning relationship on social media. The photos are startlingly normal, despite the fact that Gigo is inanimate. On her Facebook page, there are pictures of the pair drinking together on a sunny day; on YouTube, she’s posted videos of them cuddling on a couch. In one video, labeled “just chatting,” Keuning sits next to Gigo for more than five minutes, just smoking and talking. He doesn’t talk back.
“They can never live completely like we do,” Keuning told me. And as convincing as Keuning’s world is, the woman is an artist, and this is her livelihood.
Still, it doesn’t seem like the vacation was just for show. Her attention to Gigo was too meticulous, the theatre taken too far for just a couple clicks on YouTube. She took him to restaurants and to the beach. She celebrated his birthday with candles and a cake. She ordered him meals and bought him drinks at clubs. Geraedts said she even took him swimming.
If you had seen them out, you wouldn’t just wonder why this woman was with a doll—you might wonder if she thought he was real. One night, Keuning recalled, she and Gigo were eating in the back of a restaurant when an older woman sat down with them in silencesilently touched Keuning’s hand, and said, “I wish you so much strength in your process.”
Keuning was taken aback by the comment; Gigo sat there in silence, same as always. “She said, ‘I think that your husband died from a terrible accident with fire or something.’ She thought it was kind of a therapy,” Keuning explained.
Sitting with Keuning and Gigo, it’s hard not to wonder if the stranger was right. Was there something the artist was trying to work through with her “creatures”?
“A very close friend said, ‘Wow, I grew up with you, and it seemed like you had a normal youth,” Keuning admitted. “These kinds of creatures… It seems to me like it would come out of the hands of somebody who had lived a really traumatic situation.”
But, she says, that’s not the case. She hasn’t suffered any trauma, and she insists she’s had a perfectly normal life. Maybe she’s just a sensitive person, more affected by all of the sadness in the world then most people. Or maybe, she says, the sculptures came out of the people-watching trips she took as a child, when she would study each person’s unique features, wanting to examine each individual, deformities and all.
The first creature I met at La Neomudejar was short, her mouth open, revealing tiny teeth. Her arm looked like it had healed wrong after a bad break. According to Keuning, the creature was inspired by a real woman she met in China. “She was deformed like that,” Keuning said. “When I met her she was trying to sell me a tourist card.”
She remembered talking to the small woman and focusing on her nicely pleated pants. “I thought, ‘Wow, if you are already so deformed, why would you even the effort?'” A look of guilt passed over Keuning’s face. “Then I thought, ‘Wow, what a horrible thought. A thought to be extremely embarrassed about.'”
She decided to make a sculpture of the woman as a sort of redemptive act. “It’s going to be part of my family,” she said. “This deformed person is going to be apart of my family now.”
Each of the sculptures has a story like that. At the back of the dinner table sat a gray-haired woman called “Grandma,” whose peaceful expression made me feel calm. On the ground lay a dead animal, inspired by a dog Keuning saw trampled on the street in India.
Then I saw Gigo. Keuning was running her hands through his black hair affectionately, like you would a lover.
We all imbue objects with our own personal magic: faded photographs of relatives that have passed on, or a relic of an ex that you just can’t throw away. Perhaps Keuning is just a bit more honest about that process.
As I left the darkened exhibit, I accidentally stepped on one of her creature’s feet. The words “I’m sorry” almost escaped my lips. I only stopped myself because I didn’t know to whom I should apologize.
Follow Matt St. John on Twitter.
http://www.vice.com/536346 Matt St. John stuff stuff http://www.vice.com/read/are-mass-shooting-alert-systems-coming-to-america Thu, 19 May 2016 19:00:00 +0000
Earlier this week, the Michigan
State Senate took up a new bill, the Public Threat Alert System Act, that would allow state police to tap into emergency alert systems and send radio, television, and text messages to the public about “clear,
persistent, ongoing, and random threats.”
shootings, shooting sprees, and terrorist attacks.
Private companies have long employed internal alert systems for such tragedies, and since
2008, national law has required federally-funded colleges to send email and text warnings when attacks occur on campus. But the Michigan bill appears to be the first concrete effort to implement a dedicated, statewide alert system for shootings that would be as pervasive as, say, emergency weather alerts. Amid what is essentially a mass shooting epidemic, this raises the question of whether such systems could—or should—one day become an inescapable part of American life.
Already passed by the State House in a 106-2 vote on May 10, the bill has received widespread
and bipartisan support from lawmakers and the public as a cheap
and easy step to help protect citizen bystanders. The bill’s
path through the legislature seems smooth enough that one of its supporters
expects it should
clear the Senate before the end of the summer. Assuming embattled Governor Rick Snyder signs on, the system could go online as soon as this fall. But despite near-universal local acclaim, some outside observers like James Alan Fox,
an expert on the dynamics of active and mass shootings at Northeastern
University, see the Public Threat Alert System Act as no more than
feel-good measure that will accomplish little. In fact, Fox suspects it could do more harm than good.
“It’s a knee-jerk over-response to a low-likelihood event,”
Fox tells VICE. “The response will create unnecessary havoc.”
The Public Threat Alert System Act is most directly a response to a mass shooting spree in the state this February, when cops say Uber driver Jason Brian Dalton‘s drove around the greater Kalamazoo area for nearly seven hours firing randomly at people with a 9mm semiautomatic
handgun, ultimately killing six and injuring two. In the days immediately
following the attack, stories about locals
out on the streets who didn’t find out about the shootings for hours and
about the failure
of Western Michigan University (two miles away from the shooter’s route at various times) to notify students with its own system helped trigger calls by local media outlets and interest groups for a new alert.
On March 8, Brandt Iden, a Republican state representative from Oshtemo, one of
the townships Dalton terrorized, introduced House Bill 5442, the embryo of the
“I was on Stadium Drive getting gas at about the same time
that the shooter would have been traveling down ,” local media
outlet WEMU recently quoted the state lawmaker as saying,
in a reflection of what he believes
was a common experience of dangerous ignorance. “I would have started to
pay a lot more attention had I gotten this notification on my cell phone that
said, ‘Brandt, be alert.'”
Iden subsequently collaborated with Jon Hoadley, a Democratic state representative who had his own (nearly identical) bill already in the works—their unwittingly parallel efforts a testament to the local appetite for change. The duo enjoyed the
support of the Kalamazoo County Sheriff, local residents, and family
members of victims in Dalton’s rampage. As it stands now, their
bill requires local cops who hear about an active-shooter to contact the State
Police, who would then verify that the incident meets criteria of their own determination before notifying broadcasters and
utilizing telecom channels to send out media alerts and distribute text
notifications to all wireless phones in a certain geographic area. (VICE reached out to the Michigan State
Police to see if they have devised any of the specific criteria for what would trigger a
notification, but had yet to receive a response as of publication.) Local
broadcasters have pointed out they technically won’t be required to distribute the
message, but given the optics of throwing a fit over warning people about a mass shooting, we can expect them to participate.
has compared the system to America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response
(AMBER) Alerts—which if nothing else offers some conceptual and infrastructural precedent for this new system.
The Michigan bill more directly piggybacks on the local
infrastructure put in place late last year after the state created a Blue
Alert program. Launched
in 2008 in Florida and now active in 25 states (including Michigan), Blue
Alerts send out information, usually by voluntary radio and television
broadcasts, about suspects who’ve killed or injured law enforcement officers but remain at large. In Michigan, the Alert was adopted after
outcry that if it’d been enacted earlier, authorities may have more quickly
brought the killer of State Trooper Paul Butterflied, gunned down in Mason
County in 2013, to justice. The state legislature determined that the program would cost about $20,000 upfront and
$300 a month to maintain, which seemed OK despite budget woes and austerity measures.
When it comes to the new active shooter system, lawmakers have determined it could be incorporated into the of the Blue Alert system’s
infrastructure with “nominal fiscal impact.”
For his part, Fox suspects that the Michigan law, when it passes, won’t
immediately trigger other states to follow suit. But if it seems to be working in Michigan, or if there are more random mass
shootings with hours of lag time between outset and neutralization of the shooter(s) nationwide, it could be the start of a trend.
Still, this mass shooter alert system
doesn’t excite Fox, who notes that most active shooter situations are
geographically contained and
brief—enough so that the sound of gunfire is usually the fastest and best
alert for anyone in actual danger to seek shelter. By the time there’s enough
good information to issue a solid alert, Fox says, the incident is often over. And he maintains that there are plenty of ways—mostly by creating undue fear with premature or overly broad warnings—a successfully-triggered alert can
Even if the
implicit costs of the alert are low, it’s hard to argue with Fox that these systems will only provide protection in cases similar to the Kalamazoo mass shooting—a rare
subset of an all-too-common form of gun violence. And Americans as
a society may well be too eager to grab on to easy, low-cost, high-profile, program to address mass shootings and the threats they pose as a whole—if only to feel
like they’re doing something to improve security. Gun control advocates, for instance, may see warning systems as a distraction from efforts to stop machines of death from proliferating in their communities in the first place. But given the sheer volume of mass gun violence plaguing the country, that one state is using its own localized nightmare to experiment with a better response mechanism is not only understandable, but seemingly inevitable.
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http://www.vice.com/536333 Mark Hay news news http://www.vice.com/read/we-cant-commit-to-one-person-because-theres-always-someone-smarter-and-hotter-science-vgtrn Thu, 19 May 2016 18:20:00 +0000
If trust issues weren’t bad enough, this study probably makes it sting a bit more. Photo via Flickr user Tuncay Coskun
In what comes as zero surprise to anybody under the age of 40, a new study looking at long-term relationships found that the reason we have trouble settling down is because we’re constantly analyzing and searching for a better, more-compatible match.
The research published this month from University of Texas looked at 119 men and 140 women who were in long-term relationships and discovered that partners chose each other based on an algorithm of 27 qualities, including attractiveness (of course), intelligence (good to know), health (fair enough), and financial responsibility (fuck).
The researchers then divided up the couples by the partner who was generally more desirable and the partner who was generally less desirable, based on the qualities described above (ie. the reacher and the settler).
The team found that when the more the desirable partner was exposed to other people who fit their ideal needs, it was harder for that person to remain loyal and affectionate to their significant other. If the partner was less desirable, they remained satisfied and were more likely to stay committed to their relationship.
Daniel Conroy-Beam, a psychology researcher and one of the lead members on the study, told VICE the partners who were more desirable sometimes do make their relationships work, but only if that person has a limited number of options to upgrade from their existing relationship.
Conroy-Beam added that, while the study didn’t look at couples long enough to conclude that imbalanced relationships were bound for doom, he expects that most of the pairings would begin to see rifts once the more desirable person’s status allowed them to meet more people at their calibre—or if the other person’s desirability dropped too low.
“We know that we have these kind of ideal preferences for what we’d want in a mate in a perfect world. We know what people desire, but it hasn’t been very clear what these desires do,” he told VICE. “This was us trying to find out if we can use our desires to predict what’s going on in our actual relationship.”
In follow-up research, the team looked at how partners who experienced strained relationships coped with or tried to keep those bonds together. Once again, the researchers found that those who were less desirable or had fewer options tried to keep the relationship going longer and reported higher levels of happiness. These partners would also make more of an effort to keep their partners from seeing other people (referred to in the research as “mate shielding”) and worked harder to make themselves more attractive.
Conroy-Beam says that the team didn’t look directly at social media as a factor—noting that the need to upgrade is a “fundamental part of human nature.” Rather, he believes the mating environment has “changed dramatically over the last few years” with dating apps like Tinder, which may exacerbate our inability to commit.
“The psychology has always been the same, but the dynamics have changed because the mating environment has changed,” he told VICE. “This behavior has evolved over a long period of time where we as humans have been exposed to relatively small groups of mates, but now, with modern technology, we have access to a functionally infinite number of mates.”
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http://www.vice.com/536364 Jake Kivanç stuff stuff