A riot foretold

Is malevolence or incompetence at the heart of the story in Ferguson?

“Perhaps it only seems contradictory that the deaths of Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin, John Ford and Michael Brown—all unarmed black men shot by men who faced no official sanction for their actions—came during the first black Presidency.” Image Credit

Jelani Cobb | The New Yorker

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Koh Tao’s dark side

Murder, migrants and scapegoats in the seedy underbelly of Thailand’s tropical paradise

“As the hunt for the Britons’ killers dragged into a third week and the junta’s prime minister, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, said migrants were the most likely culprits, there was understandable nervousness on Koh Tao. “Shortly after the killings the migrant community started to tell us there was a lot of torture going on, a lot of abuse by the police…”” Image Credit

Peter Walker | The Guardian

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Music & money & hate.

White power music was in trouble, but then iTunes happened

“However, regardless of the rules, music that is undeniably “objectionable” and “in poor taste” is openly available…Take for instance, the song “Fire Up the Ovens” by the Bully Boys, which features the verses like these: “Leave no stone unturned / We’re going to burn until the last Jew burns / Fire up the ovens, fire up the ovens…”” Image Credit

Keegan Hankes | Southern Poverty Law Center

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Automation makes us dumb

How computers are diminishing human skills, and how to stop it

“That happy trend continued with the introduction of computerized “fly-by-wire” jets in the 1970s. But now, aviation experts worry that we’ve gone too far. We have shifted so many cockpit tasks from humans to computers that pilots are losing their edge—and beginning to exhibit what the British aviation researcher Matthew Ebbatson calls “skill fade.”” Image Credit

Nicholas Carr | The Wall Street Journal

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The moral dilemma of loving boxing

How can you love a sport that has such a bad outcome for most of its athletes?

“Every time I see a documentary with old fighters…I am filled with fascination over their remembrances, but often sadness over their inability to express them. Great fighters like Joe Frazier, Meldrick Taylor, and of course, Muhammad Ali, often need to have subtitles put beneath their faces so we can understand their words. It is a tremendous price to pay…” Image Credit

David Phillips | The Sweet Science

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And the most powerful Internet mogul of 2014 is…

How Will Ferrell and Funny or Die could be laughing all the way to the bank

“It almost didn’t happen at all: Ferrell and McKay admit that if they’d followed their original instincts, the site would never have gotten off the ground. Mark Kvamme, a partner at the famed VC firm Sequoia Capital, teamed up with the head of business development at Creative Artists Agency to pitch them the idea. Thanks, Ferrell and McKay said, but no thanks.” Image Credit

Amy Wallace | GQ

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The quiet German

On the ‘astonishing’ rise of Angela Merkel

“While Wagenknecht accuses the government of supporting Fascists in Kiev, Merkel gets up to chat with her ministers in the back row. She returns to her seat and rummages in an orange-red leather handbag that clashes with her jacket. When she glances up at Wagenknecht, it’s with a mixture of boredom and contempt.” Image Credit

George Packer | The New Yorker

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The ghosts of Bhopal

The story of the worst industrial disaster in history

“Feroza, the wife of Afzal the painter, is placed upon a funeral pyre, from which she rises like a ghost. Sunil Verma is a boy of 13. Running willy-nilly from his home, he stops to pee and passes out. Presumed dead he is piled into a vehicle to join the company of corpses. Later, he will wake up.” Image Credit

Jennifer Wells | Toronto Star

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The question of Edward Snowden

On Citizenfour

“But there were other things that gave him pause: the astonishing license for ad hoc spying, for example…“We could watch drone videos [of the private doings of families in Yemen, Afghanistan, and Pakistan] from desktops.” This, Snowden has said, was one of those things “that really hardened me.”” Image Credit

David Bromwich | The New York Review of Books

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India’s ladies’ detective agencies

The social media boom is playing havoc with marriage in urban India

“There were a handful of female detectives working in Delhi when Paliwal started out, but now women are a dominant presence. A basic internet search for female detectives in Delhi throws up a glut of agencies. Most stress the point with dubiously sourced photographs of women in overcoats, hats and dark glasses, with binoculars.” Image Credit

Snigdha Poonam | The Guardian

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