thursday | 4 april 2013

WAR AND PEACE

‘THERE’S NO TURNING BACK’ MY INTERVIEW WITH A HUNTED AMERICAN JIHADIST

Spencer Ackerman | Wired

Omar Hammami, the most prominent American jihadi left alive, probably should be running. When Hammami came to Somalia for jihad in 2006, he never anticipated that al-Qaida’s local affiliate would pledge to kill its former propaganda asset. And last month, the U.S. government put a $5 million bounty on the head of the 28-year-old Alabama native. These could be the last moments of Hammami’s life.

But Hammami tells Danger Room in an extremely rare and exclusive interview that he’s staying put. From an undisclosed location in Somalia, he grows vegetables, helps his wives around the house, and trolls his one-time colleagues in al-Shebab on Twitter, his newfound passion. As @abumamerican, he’s tweeting his ongoing jihad in 140-character installments, and is happy to debate it with U.S. national security professionals. Uniquely among jihadis, Hammami shoots the breeze with the people whose job it is to study and even hunt people like him.

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HISTORY | BIOGRAPHY

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MOTHER OF THE MOVEMENT

THE REBELLIOUS LIFE OF ROSA PARKS BY JEANNE THEOHARIS
Nell Irvin Painter | The New York Times

rosaKing carefully managed his public persona, but Parks’s image escaped her control. She seems to have entered history with her mouth closed and her mind elsewhere. President Obama voiced the familiar view that she was “just wanting to get home after a long day at work” and “may not have been planning to make history.” But as Jeanne Theoharis shows in her insightful biography, “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks,” this perspective obscures Parks’s lifelong ­activism and “fierce determination.” Parks was not an apolitical, middle-aged lady whose fatigue kept her seated. Both shy and militant, she was a committed activist enmeshed in racial politics — and their class and gender complications — wherever she lived.

. . . This first comprehensive biography rightly keeps an eye on Parks after Montgomery. Theoharis depicts Detroit’s entrenched discrimination and Parks’s decades of civil rights activism there. Supporting U.A.W. Local 600, calling Malcolm X her hero, visiting a Black Panther school in Oakland, opposing American involvement in Vietnam and attending the Million Man March at the invitation of Louis Farrakhan, she collaborated with left-wingers and Black Power advocates.

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MEDICINE | MEMOIR

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THE MEANING OF WHITE

Emily Urquhart | The Walrus

My child is the fairest of them all. The weight of my pride is unbearable, too big for our tiny room in the maternity ward. I stage a photo shoot on my bed, and Andrew takes the picture that will become Sadie’s birth announcement. I beam the image across the globe.

The next day, Andrew takes Sadie in his arms and goes for a walk down the hall. The nurses crowd around, making a fuss over her white hair and scolding him in the same breath. “No walking with babies in the hall! That hair! The liability!” He is heading back to our room when he overhears one of the nurses ask, “Is that baby an albino? ”

They return trailed by a heavy-set nurse with dark hair and few teeth. “Is she an albino? ” the nurse asks, lisping slightly, a note of alarm in her voice. “No,” I tell her firmly. The woman stares back at me, bug-eyed, bewildered. Then she lets herself into our bathroom, where she cleans the toilet, empties the trash bin, and wipes down the sink. She is wearing nurse’s scrubs, but it is clear now that she is a janitor.

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LAW | FINANCE

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BANKERS COURT WINS COULD COME BACK TO HAUNT THEM

Mike Konzcal | Bloomberg

. . . an asymmetry exists in the types of claims that courts will accept. As David Arkush, an attorney at Washington- based law firm Gupta Beck PLLC, put it: “Businesses nearly always have standing to challenge rules that affect them. But if you’re someone who benefits from a rule and thinks it should be stronger, it’s much harder to get into court.” That’s a much less reform-friendly balance than the rule-making process, which requires regulators to read and weigh comments from all sides equally.

Second, litigation is a blunt and unpredictable weapon with the power to gut whole sections of financial reform, as opposed to merely watering them down. It’s very hard for regulators to anticipate exactly what parts of their rules lawyers will challenge, and how the courts will react.

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MEMORY | JOKES | THE INTERWEB

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HOW METAFILTER BROUGHT A DECEASED FATHER’S JOKES BACK TO LIFE

Rebecca Rosen | The Atlantic

Two weeks ago Daniel Drucker went to Metafilter with a request.

“My father passed away this morning,” he wrote. “I’m going through his file, and I came across JOKES.TXT … which contains only the punchlines.” Could the Metafilter hivemind work backward and supply the missing the jokes? It could, and rapidly. Drucker posted his query at 4:49 pm; four hours later, 30 of the 31 jokes were solved, so to speak. The final one — a “broken” joke about a talking golf ball — was cracked two days later.

. . . The response of the Metafilter community was, Daniel says, “phenomenal.” The thread even inspired a second thread (a meta-, metathread, if you will), of appreciation for the original. There, one user, HotToddy, summed the whole episode up perfectly. “What an amazing thing,” he wrote, “your dad inadvertently arranging for your friends to tell you jokes all day long on the day he dies.”

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PHOTOGRAPHY

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40 YEARS OF QUIRKY AND CLASSIC AMERICA, THROUGH THE EYES OF A LEGEND

David Rosenberg | Slate
winograndOf the more than 300 images on view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) highlighting Winogrand’s career, roughly 100 have never been seen before. The show, aptly titled “Garry Winogrand,” will be on view until June 2. Yale University Press, in association with SFMOMA has published a corresponding retrospective catalog, Garry Winogrand, which includes more than 400 images from the Bronx native’s career.

Images from the book include both spontaneous, private moments and unusual images of politicians, protesters, and people from marginalized communities: In other words, it’s a snapshot of America from a variety of decades and circumstances.

tvkids
worldsfair
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CONSUMPTION

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I’VE SEEN THE FUTURE OF RETAIL

Matthew Yglesias | Moneybox | Slate

. . . I’ve seen the future, and it’s name is Walgreens. Specifically the new flagship Walgreens at the corner of 7th and H Northwest in the District of Columbia. It’s a magical place that paints the way forward for retailers and, indeed, the entire American economy.

. . .

But it’s downstairs where things really take off. You check in here at their clinic to get your health care needs taken care of. And this is not like a lame doctor’s office, which is only open during times when you need to be at work. They open at 8 a.m. and don’t close until 7:30 p.m. on weekdays, and are open 9:30 to 5:30 on weekends. A nurse practitioner will see you for a range of vaccinations and basic checkups, while also treating lots of routine medical issues ranging from colds and bronchitis to sprained ankles and minor burns. Chicken pox? Done. Head lice? Done. And since it’s a drug store, you can get your prescription filled just steps away.

They’ve got neat little exam rooms with all the fixins and of course your basic drug-store stuff like toothpaste and a broad selection of condoms to help undermine the traditional linkage between sex and procreation.

Greeting cards and random electronics, too. There was even a staffer equipped with an iPad to help answer your questions. If you want a product they don’t carry, she’ll use her iPad to search for a close equivalent that they do have. She told me she’s already used it twice in the past week to help clients who don’t speak English translate their requests so she can help them find what they need.

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MUSIC

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THE JOY FORMIDABLE: WOLF’S LAW

Raj Dayal | Pretty Much Amazing

joyformidableThe more expansive sound of this second album showcases the band’s growth. The titanic licks and precision heavy metal drumming are big and sweaty. The songwriting is notably more sophisticated in its approach to lost love and fleeting moments. The album even includes a bent towards the expansiveness of nature, no doubt brought on by the fact that it was recorded in Maine during winter.

While much of the album takes the familiar sound of what the band does well and turns it up to 11, the enigmatic Ritzy Bryan somehow reveals a tender side to her voice while the music is clearly in the red.

joy-formidable

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