Millennials Do One Thing Right
February 21, 2020
Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.”
― Henry David Thoreau
“Every generation welcomes the pirates from the last.”
― Lawrence Lessig
The Marshal’s March on Libya
When Americans hear Benghazi, many recall the 2012 attack by extremists on the US consulate in Libya and the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. It brought about long, costly investigations by Republican congressmen into the actions of Hillary Clinton, then President Obama’s secretary of state.
Benghazi was the epicenter of 2011’s Arab Spring uprising; that August Libya’s long-time dictator Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi was overthrown and killed. The next several years saw continued conflict, with the city and much of the country variously controlled by a patchwork of armed groups, local and trial militias, Islamist militias, even al-Qaida and the Islamic State. During that time a former senior military officer under Qaddafi was strengthening his forces, known as the Libyan National Army.
After years of fighting Commander Khalifa Hifter has emerged as the strongman ruler of Benghazi, in eastern Libya, but he clearly has greater ambitions. He’s been waging an all-out assault on the capital of Tripoli for 10 months in an effort to take control of the entire country.
The 76-year-old military ruler promised to build a stable, democratic and secular Libya; critics say he is brutal and autocratic. Hifter had shut out Western journalists, but a rare visit by one in 2018 revealed a puritanical and lawless authoritarianism. Hifter’s plainclothes security agents are everywhere, spying. He’s handed control of mosques to extremist preachers, and showered patronage on a tribal death squad — the Avengers of Blood — blamed for disappearances and killings of Hifter’s political opponents. A liberal activist who fled after death threats said Benghazi’s citizens are “living in a prison.” (NYT, $)
Joe Raedle via Getty Images
The Last Generation
- A joint report by the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and the Lancet Commission has revealed that out of 180 countries studied and ranked, none of them offers a child both the chance of a healthy upbringing and an environment fit for their future. The report focused on health and wellbeing factors such as education, nutrition and child mortality as well as carbon emission levels.
- The harrowing findings have been analyzed by experts, who say climate change and harmful advertising encouraging fast-food consumption and under-age drinking are putting children at risk across the globe. All progress which has been made over the past two decades may be “set to reverse” if radical changes are not made by governments around the globe.
- “More than two billion people live in countries where development is hampered by humanitarian crises, conflicts, and natural disasters, problems increasingly linked with climate change,” said minister Awa Coll-Seck, a co-chair of the Lancet Commission. The report is calling for a new global movement driven by and for children which focuses on both healthier lifestyle trends as well as attempting to stop the rate of CO2 emissions from growing. (BBC)
Antarctica’s Chilling Breakup
- On February 9 a massive new iceberg broke off Pine Island Glacier (PIG), Antarctica’s fastest melting glacier, responsible for about 25 percent of Antarctica’s ice loss. The new iceberg, designated B-49, covers 40 square miles and is about two times the size of Washington DC. In all, 120 square miles of ice broke off, or calved, on that date. “Calving” is a routine process that happens to every glacier; in the past PIG would calve every four to six years.
- But now its calving is occurring almost annually, and glaciologists believe global warming is the cause. What is happening to PIG is particularly alarming because it’s the biggest single contributor to global sea-level rise of any glacier on Earth. One scientist said PIG has the ability to raise global sea levels by four feet in total. Even a few millimeters of sea level rise will start flooding low lying communities world-wide. (NBC, KERANews)
Post-Mao M(a)ove Out
- Three Wall Street Journal reporters based in Beijing have been kicked out of the country. It’s the first time in the post-Mao era the Chinese government has expelled multiple journalists simultaneously from one international news organization. China’s Foreign Ministry revoked the reporters’ press credentials over a headline in an opinion piece the Journal published February 3.
- The headline referred to China as “the real sick man of Asia.” The three journalists work for the Journal’s news operation, which is separate from the opinion desk. The Journal’s publisher and CEO of its parent company, Dow Jones, asked the Foreign Ministry to reconsider. “This opinion piece was published independently from the WSJ newsroom and none of the journalists being expelled had any involvement with it,” he said.
- A spokesman for the Committee to Protect Journalists called for immediate reinstatement of the reporters’ press credentials, saying it was counterproductive to limit the flow of news and information during a global health crisis. The move makes China ” appear less like a confident rising power than a thin-skinned bully,” he added. (WSJ)
Additional World News
- JP Morgan economists warn of ‘catastrophic’ climate change (BBC)
- Firms making billions from ‘highly hazardous’ pesticides, analysis finds (Guardian)
- Great Barrier Reef on brink of third major coral bleaching in five years, scientists warn (Guardian)
- Australia’s royal commission into bushfires to focus on preparing for future emergencies (CNN)
- Jails Have a Class System in Britain (Atlantic, $)
- New Iranian Missiles Pose Threat to U.S. Aircraft in Yemen, Pentagon Says (NYT, $)
- The future of Japan’s master artisans (BBC)
Mr. Roger, Won’t You Be My Cellmate?
- Federal judge Amy Berman Jackson delivered a scathing indictment of Roger Stone’s actions before sentencing him to 40 months in prison and a $20,000 fine Thursday. Stone was convicted last fall of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering regarding his efforts for longtime friend Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
- Meanwhile the president was in Las Vegas, where he continued his familiar rant against the criminal justice system as he addressed an audience of former prisoners graduating from a program designed to give felons a second chance in society and the workforce. Trump declined to say whether he would pardon Stone at present, but still delivered a full-throated defense of his associate of many decades, saying: “They said he lied, but other people lied, too.”
- Trump also criticized the jury in the case and was met with curious looks from some of the graduates and their families when he declared: “These people know about a bad jury.” Stone has a pending motion for a new trial before Judge Jackson, prompting Trump to conclude: “Roger has a very good chance of exoneration in my opinion.” (CNN)
- ‘Disgusted’ judge jails Trump ally Roger Stone (BBC)
(Don’t) See Me Afterschool For Detention
- New California legislation outlawing private prisons will cost the city of McFarland, a small agricultural town in the Central Valley, $1.5 million a year in taxes and other fees currently being paid by prison operator, the GEO Group. To offset those devastating losses, the multibillion-dollar corporation proposed to the McFarland City Council it be permitted to convert its two state prisons — slated for closure — into detention centers for undocumented workers, under a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It’s a plan city leaders said could provide their impoverished town with a financial lifeline.
- Only one problem: McFarland is home to thousands of undocumented workers, who toil in the vineyards and the almond, pistachio and citrus orchards stretching out in every direction.
- Private estimates put half the city’s 15,000 residents into the undocumented category, making them the very people likely to be housed behind the bars that formerly held convicted criminals. So late into the night on Tuesday, several hundred field workers and other residents protested outside the council’s public hearing, apparently successfully, shouting in Spanish: “No ICE! No GEO! We’re farmworkers, not delinquents.” (NYT)
Additional USA News
- US intelligence warned House members Russia is working to get Trump re-elected – reports (Guardian)
- Mike Bloomberg tweeted a fake debate video. Is it disinformation? (Vox) & How fake faces are being weaponized online (CNN)
- The complicated truth behind Trump’s ‘American comeback’ (BBC)
- Why Does It Cost $750,000 to Build Affordable Housing in San Francisco? (NYT, $)
- On Rising Great Lakes, Backyards Are Disappearing Overnight (WSJ, $)
An Algorithm to End Sickness
- Researchers looking for new antibiotics to treat drug-resistant bacteria trained a “deep-learning” algorithm to identify the sorts of molecules that kill bacteria. In a matter of hours after being fed data for analysis, the algorithm came up with a powerful compound able to kill some of the most dangerous drug-resistant bacteria in the world.
- Tests showed the new drug wiped out a range of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, including two of the three high-priority pathogens that the World Health Organization ranks as “critical” for new antibiotics to target. To hunt for more new drugs, the team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) then turned to a massive digital database of about 1.5 billion compounds. They set the algorithm to work on 107 million of them; three days later the program returned a shortlist of 23 potential antibiotics, of which two appear to be particularly potent.
- One team member said it would have been impossible to screen all 107 million compounds by the conventional method of obtaining or making the substances, then testing them in the lab. “Being able to perform these experiments in the computer dramatically reduces the time and cost to look at these compounds,” he said. (Guardian)
A New Millennium of Loyalty
- Despite the booming job market, reports have found that younger workers – generally in the generation classified as “millennials” – are proving as loyal to employers as the generation before them. The data analyzed by the Pew Research Center suggest younger workers may be more loyal than their predecessors were as they were getting their careers under way.
- Unemployment rates are the lowest America has seen in five decades, but there remains a very high level of anxiety about job security – which makes young employee loyalty an interesting phenomenon. The loyalty among younger workers contradicts a persistent myth among job recruiters that millennials are more eager to switch jobs. (WSJ, $)
- What’s Driving the Millennial Political Takeover? (NYT, $)
- Coronavirus outbreak to cost airlines almost $30bn (BBC) & Coronavirus is starting to impact the business of Apple, Facebook, and other companies (Vox)
- Facebook will now pay you for your voice recordings (The Verge)
- The conversation about American torture is 400 years old (Aeon)
- A Ton of Giant Viruses Are Living in Your Mouth (Atlantic, $)
- Could micro-credentials compete with traditional degrees? (BBC) & Lambda School’s Job Placement Rate Is Lower Than Claimed (NY Mag)
- The simple maths error that can lead to bankruptcy (BBC)
- The computer pioneer who built modern China (BBC)
- The 7 most important workout moves you should be doing: Forget fancy fitness classes and trendy workouts — these are the only exercise moves you need to know. (Cnet) & In 6 Minutes, You Can Be Done With Your Workout (NYT, $)
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