As the World Turns Far-Right | Yemen Is Still Starving And We’re Not Sharing | Rome Wasn’t Cleaned In A Day


From the BBC: “Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro has won a sweeping victory in Brazil’s presidential election. With almost all of the votes counted, Mr Bolsonaro has 55% of the votes against 45% for Fernando Haddad from the left-wing Workers Party. Mr Bolsonaro campaigned on a promise to eradicate corruption and to drive down Brazil’s high crime levels. The election campaign has been deeply divisive. Each camp argued that victory for the other could destroy Brazil.”


“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” – Robert Frost

“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” – Ibid.


Rome Wasn’t Cleaned In A Day: It’s less like “Roman Holiday” and more like “Nightmare on Olmo Street”. The ancient and beautiful Italian capital is in so much disrepair that thousands of protestors gathered Saturday in front of Rome’s city hall to decry the situation and say they just can’t take it anymore. While the city’s first female mayor is being blamed for failure to fulfill her campaign promises to clean up the mess, critics admit the city has been in decline for years. Mayor Virginia Raggi, a member of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, and only in office since 2016, said she needed more time to overcome Rome’s myriad problems, but added that she is already making good progress. Maybe. But you couldn’t tell it by the overflowing rubbish bins, giant potholes, exploding city buses, runaway escalators, and roving wild animals. One resident put it delicately: “Rome has become an open sewer, a scandal, full of rats, foxes, wild boar and rubbish. We are drowning in trash and we can’t take it anymore.”

Matteo Salvini, Italy’s interior minister and leader of the anti-immigrant League party, was heckled by activists in the San Lorenzo district of Rome when he arrived last week to lay a rose in front of an abandoned building where the body of a 16 year old girl was found. Police believe the girl was repeatedly raped in the building, which is often used as a drug den; four African migrants have been arrested. The body of another teenage girl was found last February, allegedly killed by a Nigerian drug dealer. Salvini has been accused of using the deaths to fan anti-immigrant flames and heighten political favor for himself and his League party. A prolific user of social media, Salvini had tweeted he would be traveling to the San Lorenzo district, thereby tipping off the crowd of cameramen, TV anchors and activists who awaited him.


Gansu, I Think We Have A Problem: In the 1950s and 1960s it was the US and Russian governments locked in a space race competition. Fast forward a half-century and the big players are Elon Musk and Xi Jinping. Musk founded his Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), a private American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company, in 2002. He’s been doing pretty well with it, and can point to lots of successful unmanned space flights. Chinese President Xi Jinping, since coming to office in 2012, has been racing to make China the “space flight superpower”, with a goal of sending a permanent manned space station into orbit by 2022. Last August, Musk confirmed a report by NASA that estimates SpaceX will be ready to launch a human into space as early as April 2019. On Saturday China’s first privately developed carrier rocket ZQ-1 blasted off in the Gansu province, but almost immediately fell back to earth. It was a big disappointment for Chinese companies wanting to rival SpaceX. (Guardian)

Musk and his $40 Million Tweets: August was a busy month for Musk, but it wasn’t all good-busy. Elon tweeted he was considering taking his sustainable energy company, Tesla, private at $420 a share, and that he had “funding secured”. It wasn’t true. In September the SEC charged the billionaire business owner with misleading investors, and causing them monetary harm in the ensuing market chaos. Both Musk and his company were fined $20 million each. Elon had to step down as Tesla’s chairman; he remains CEO. Friday night the intrepid entrepreneur responded to a Twitter query —about the $40 million tweet —with two words: “Worth it.”(Guardian)

– “‘They Don’t Have Money’: Greece’s Prostitutes Hit Hard by Financial Crisis” (NYT)

– ”Cherry blossoms all over Japan have been tricked into thinking it is spring” (WaPo)


Yemen Is Still Starving And We’re Not Sharing: As New York Times journalist Declan Walsh continues reporting on Yemen’s human tragedy, resulting from Saudi Arabia’s ruthless war against Houthi rebels controlling territory in the north, Facebook intervened Friday to remove posts of the article and prevent users from sharing it because it included several photos of emaciated children. The photos included crying and starving babies. The flesh on a seven-year old girl’s wasted body was so paper-thin her collarbone and rib cage were clearly visible. Tens of thousands of readers shared the article on the social media platform, but then received a message that the post was not in line with Facebook’s community standards. But by Friday night, a Facebook spokeswoman emailed a statement that read: “As our community standards explain, we don’t allow nude images of children on Facebook, but we know this is an important image of global significance. We’re restoring the posts we removed on this basis.”

Under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salam, the Saudi-led coalition and its Yemeni allies have imposed a raft of punitive economic measures, including periodic blockades, stringent restrictions, and withholding the salaries of about a million civil servants. The measures have been successfully laying the economy to waste by slowly destroying the infrastructure.

Of nearly two million malnourished children in Yemen, 400,000 are considered critically ill, and the number is projected to rapidly rise. Aslam is an impoverished northwestern town that has been swamped with refugees fleeing the fighting in Hudaydah, the embattled port city 90 miles south. A doctor at the health clinic there, practically unable to keep up with the dead and dying and overwhelmingly frustrated, said: “We are being crushed…the Khashoggi case is getting so much attention while millions of Yemeni children are suffering. Nobody gives a damn about them.” Joseph Stalin is believed to have once remarked: “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.”


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Tree Of Life Victims Named: The names of the 11 victims of a shooting rampage at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, were released Sunday morning. They ranged in age from 54 to 97 years. All but two were over 65, and included a married couple, and two brothers. Six persons were wounded, including four police officers. Federal prosecutors have charged Robert Bowers, 46, with 29 separate federal crimes for the Saturday morning massacre. 11 of the counts carry the death penalty. Bowers’ social media was rife with anti-Semitism; he also wrote online that he disliked President Trump because the latter was too soft on “the (Jewish slur deleted) infestation”. Trump’s defenders tried to use Bowers’ words to exonerate the president from any culpability arising from Trump’s frequent disparaging, demagogic rhetoric. Bowers’ last hate-filled, anti-Semitic post before proceeding to gun down the helpless worshipers wasn’t to Facebook or Twitter, but to Gab, a two-year old “free speech” alternative social network that has become a haven for White Nationalists, neo-Nazis and other extremists. (NPR, WaPo, NYT)

– “Fingerprints, DNA And Social Media Posts Helped FBI Identify Bomb Suspect Cesar Sayoc: Sayoc, 56, was arrested on Friday morning in South Florida and now faces federal five federal crimes including; transporting explosives across state lines, illegally mailing explosives, threatening former presidents and others, threatening interstate communications and assaulting federal officials” It’s amazing that they caught him, but he wasn’t exactly keeping a low profile. (NPR & NYT)

– “The Migrant Caravan Is a Right-Wing Fever Dream: And Donald Trump is using it as a wedge issue in the midterms” (Ringer)

– “Megyn Kelly’s Crash at NBC in One Word (Hers): ‘Wow’” (NYT)


– “‘There are no rules’: the unforeseen consequences of sex robots” First rule of robot sex club: write op-eds about robot sex club. (Sydney Morning Herald)

– “A decade of data reveals that heavy multitaskers have reduced memory, Stanford psychologist says” (Stanford News)

– “Even a 10-Minute Walk May Be Good for the Brain: Ten minutes of mild exercise can immediately alter how certain parts of the brain communicate and coordinate with one another and improve memory function.” (NYT)

– “In Groundbreaking Decision, Feds Say Hacking DRM to Fix Your Electronics Is Legal: The new exemptions are a major win for the right to repair movement and give consumers wide latitude to legally repair the devices they own.” (Motherboard)

– “Why Are We Still Teaching Reading the Wrong Way?: Teacher preparation programs continue to ignore the sound science behind how people become readers.” (NYT)

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