[syndicated profile] associatedpress_usa_feed
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate Republican health care bill would guarantee immediate assistance for insurance markets that are struggling in many states. Yet overall it would do the same thing as its House counterpart: less federal money for health insurance and a greater likelihood that more Americans will be uninsured....

The Joy Of Being Bobby Hill

Jun. 22nd, 2017 04:01 pm
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Posted by Zeon Santos

Bobby Hill may not be the most physically attractive, physically fit or physically capable kid in Arlen, and he ain't exactly a smartypants neither. But there is no wiser or more tuned in kid than Bobby Hill, Texas's answer to the Dalai Lama.

Okay, that may be overstating it a bit, Bobby's more like Buddha, Pooh Bear and Curly from the Three Stooges all rolled into one lovable cartoon character.

And yet Bobby Hill seems so real, like someone we've all known and cheered for as they take on the world, unafraid to be an adorable oddball in a world full of bullies.

See 20 Bobby Hill Moments That Hit A Little Too Close To Home here

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Posted by millipede

A question posed to the married men of Reddit: what moment with your future wife made you think "Yup, I'm asking this girl to marry me."? (SLReddit) Although the one-sidedness of the question is not ideal (how about "married women, when did you know you wanted to marry your husband"), there are some great stories in here, from the touching to the silly.

(The thread prompted me to ask my husband when he knew he wanted to marry me, and he cited a time I unceremoniously told someone off on social media). I highly recommend asking your partners when they knew!
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Posted by IAN AUSTEN

The Canadian prime minister spoke about President Trump, Twitter and Nafta at an event in Toronto organized by The New York Times and the Rotman School of Management of the University of Toronto.
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Posted by KATIE THOMAS

The case of Exondys 51 poses emotionally charged issues for families of young boys with a rare illness, who are fighting companies to get coverage for an expensive drug approved on a lower bar of proof.
[syndicated profile] nytimes_homepage_feed

Posted by RICK GLADSTONE

The agreements, for 73 aircraft, suggest an industry bet that the Trump administration will not block such transactions despite its hostility toward Iran.
[syndicated profile] associatedpress_usa_feed
DETROIT (AP) -- Authorities say a Canadian man from Tunisia crossed legally into the U.S. days before stabbing a police officer in the neck at a Michigan airport. The attack raises questions about security along the northern border, including what the process is for travelers and how many people are detained or denied entry. A look at some common questions and answers....
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Posted by James Hamblin

I’m sitting alone in an enormous tent on the campus of the Aspen Institute right now. The big “IDEAS” sign is in place, and the stages are set. The Aspen Ideas Festival is about to begin.

When I talk to people throughout the year about the Aspen Ideas Festival, the main question I hear is, “What?”

The Ideas Festival is a far-reaching gathering of journalists and thought leaders of all stripes—politicians, artists, activists, industry, not otherwise specified. The first three days is entirely about health (actually called Spotlight Health) and I’m fortunate to be part of it for my fourth summer (because The Atlantic co-sponsors the festival).

No one else is here yet, though, so I am a thought leader without thought followers. This is emotionally taxing, and combined with the thin mountain air, my head is already starting to hemorrhage ideas.

So from a tent alone on the campus of the Aspen Institute, I write them down. Here are a few that I can already tell are not going to be “prime time” ideas at Spotlight Health. Some might get me asked to leave. But some might actually be pretty good ideas by non-thought-leader standards and could probably make somebody a million dollars. (That’s not enough to buy an apartment in Aspen, but it is in a lot of places.)

Standing tickets for airplanes

Sedentary lifestyles are a serious health problem, and so is airplane death from a pulmonary embolism. So why is sitting the only way to fly? Why not have the option to stand? Especially for a short flight. I bet we could fit more people on the plane, and fewer people would get head lice from the seats. (Don’t know if that’s an actual problem or just one I always imagine.) I realize this isn’t for everyone, and that during takeoff and landing we’d probably have to be strapped to a wall or pole, which many people wouldn’t enjoy.

Bike helmets for ride share

Like New York and D.C., Aspen has a great bike-share system. I’ve already used it to cruise the A.M. downtown Aspen scene, which is more lively than the midnight downtown Aspen scene. I didn’t bring a helmet, so I rode without one. There are bike lanes and very little traffic here, so it was fine, but it gave me the idea that even shared bikes should include some sort of helmet. Though again that raises the specter of head lice.

A suit you can wear that makes you very strong, possibly invincible, except to people who know how to deactivate the suit.

One year at Spotlight Health I wore an exoskeleton that was meant to simulate what it’s like to be 70-some years old—including arthritis, cataracts, and tinnitus. Similar exoskeleton products in development are meant to help with mobility in people with neuromuscular disorders. An idea, then, is to take it a step further. It would be sort of like Iron Man, but less sensational. The most you could lift would be a car or something.

A public option

The idea is basically that everyone in the country could buy into Medicare if they want to.

When a professional columnist writes “Let me explain,” an algorithm immediately removes the columnist from payroll.

I should keep the rest to myself.

Stay tuned for more real-time writing from The Atlantic staff about what’s happening at the Ideas Festival. The ideas will be bigger and better than this, I promise.

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Gretchen: There’s this one part of Arrival, which I think is the biggest quibble that linguists have with the story, where the physicist character says to the linguist, “You think of language like a mathematician.” And she’s just like “Yeah.”

Lauren: Whereas if she was a real linguist she’d be like, “Um, yeah, obviously.”


Gretchen: I mean, I’m glad they made the point somehow, but this is literally what linguistics is.



- Excerpt from Episode 3 of Lingthusiasm: Arrival of the linguists - Review of the alien linguistics film. Listen to the full episode, read the transcript, or check out the show notes for more linguistics thoughts about the movie.
(via lingthusiasm)
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Posted by BENJAMIN HOFFMAN and MARC TRACY

The 76ers have the top pick in the draft, followed by the Lakers. After that it gets interesting. Stay here for pick-by-pick updates and analysis.
[syndicated profile] discover_topstories_feed
When something is described as egg-shaped, the ubiquitous hen’s egg typically comes to mind. But for birds, eggs come in myriad shapes: owl eggs look like ping-pong balls, hummingbird eggs are shaped like jelly beans, swift eggs are pointed at one end like a pear.

So what's the reason?

Biologists have been asking that question for quite some time, and their hypotheses are perhaps just as varied as the eggs themselves. Scientists in the past have concluded that cliff-dwelling birds lay
[syndicated profile] associatedpress_usa_feed
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Officials denied parole Thursday for convicted killer Patricia Krenwinkel - a follower of cult leader Charles Manson - after considering whether battered women's syndrome affected her state of mind at the time of the notorious murders nearly five decades ago in California....
[syndicated profile] theatlantic_health_feed

Posted by Russell Berman

In the hours after Senate Republicans released their long-awaited plan to roll back the Affordable Care Act, it was nearly impossible to find an enthusiastic supporter of the proposal—even among the lawmakers it was most aimed to please.

There was no grand unveiling of a bill that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his lieutenants supposedly spent weeks perfecting behind closed doors. No triumphant declarations of a promise kept, nor even confident predictions of passage. Shortly before 11 a.m. ET, while Republicans were still being briefed on a bill they had yet to see, the Senate Budget Committee sent out a link to the plain, 142-page text of the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.” McConnell went to the Senate floor to talk up the plan as best he could, but even he could only muster modest praise.

“We debated many policy proposals. We considered many different viewpoints,” he said. “In the end, we found that we share many ideas about what needs to be achieved and how we can achieve it.”

Barely two hours later, his bill was already teetering.

Four conservative senators—Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin—quickly declared their opposition to the plan as written on the grounds that it did not go far enough in fulfilling the GOP’s promise to repeal Obamacare. “Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill,” they said in a joint statement while reiterating their desire for more negotiation.

Along the center of the Republican caucus, the watchword was “concern.” A spokeswoman for Susan Collins of Maine, the closest the GOP has to a centrist in the Senate, said she had “a number of concerns” and would await the analysis of the Congressional Budget Office due early next week. Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, facing a tough reelection fight in 2018, said he had “serious concerns about the bill’s impact on Nevadans who depend on Medicaid. Ditto Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, who cited his own “real concerns” about the GOP proposal to make deep cuts to Medicaid and phase out the program’s expansion under Obamacare over four years beginning in 2020, rather than the seven he had proposed.

Any three of those Republicans would be enough to defeat the bill. With Democrats united in opposition, McConnell can lose no more than two of his 52 Republican members and have the bill pass with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence. The reaction from outside the Capitol was no better. Governor John Kasich of Ohio decried the GOP’s “one-party approach” and said he had “deep concerns” with the details of the bill. On the right, the conservative group FreedomWorks gave its backing to the four Senate holdouts and needled McConnell for reneging on his promise to fully repeal Obamacare. The law’s namesake, former President Barack Obama, issued a rare and lengthy statement denouncing the proposal for its “fundamental meanness.” Even President Trump withheld anything resembling an enthusiastic endorsement.

Yet just as an initial onslaught of conservative criticism didn’t ultimately doom the House’s American Health Care Act, the chilly reception won’t necessarily sink the Senate’s broadly similar plan, either. For the moment, the two most important words in the bill are the ones that adorn each page: Discussion draft. Senate budget rules require that the legislation be open to nearly unlimited amendments before a final vote, and it appears that McConnell designed the bill with future changes in mind. Republicans complaining about particular provisions or omissions will have the opportunity to make changes and then, if they vote for a revised version, claim credit for “improving” the bill.

Portman, Heller, and Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia could try to substitute their proposal for a longer transition away from Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, as well as adding significantly to the $2 billion the current draft allocates to fight the opioid epidemic. For his part, Cruz made clear that he wanted to “get to yes” on the bill and offered a series of proposed changes.

“Don’t be fooled,” warned Senator Patty Murray of Washington state, a member of the Democratic leadership. “Senate Republican leaders are going to spend this weekend doing everything they can to cut backroom deals and get the 50 votes they need to jam Trumpcare through the Senate—and that’s why it’s so important that Democrats and patients and families across the country keep fighting back and making clear any senator who votes for this mean, heartless bill will own the consequences.”

Still, the hurdles McConnell faces are considerable, and skepticism about whether he can get 50 Republican senators to agree on a final bill is justified. He must try to mollify the concerns of one faction without sacrificing the support of another. Given the Senate plan’s similarity in scope and structure to the House bill, it is likely the CBO will report that millions of Americans would be in danger of losing their insurance if the proposal takes effect. (The House bill would result in 23 million fewer insured people over a decade, the CBO found.) Such a finding could scare off moderate Republicans, while conservatives might well be disappointed if the CBO does not project that average premiums would drop significantly under the Senate bill. McConnell could be faced with a choice next week of calling a vote on a bill that would fail or delaying the debate and keeping the proposal in limbo while senators head home for a July 4 recess.

Democrats cannot defeat or stall the bill on their own, but they are expected to challenge many of its provisions under the Senate’s reconciliation rules requiring that they be related to budget matters. A senior GOP aide acknowledged that “discussions are ongoing” with the Senate’s parliamentarian about some parts of the bill, including provisions that restrict the use of tax credits for insurance plans that cover abortion. The changes that Cruz is seeking might also not be allowed.

By Thursday’s end, the public finally knew a whole lot more about what’s in the secretive Senate bill, but its fate had become no easier to predict.

Dear Readers ...

Jun. 22nd, 2017 09:49 pm
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We’re experimenting with having a bulletin board on our site for our journalists to talk directly to our readers about our coverage.
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Posted by Teresa Jusino

Milana Vayntrub, whom you might know from the hit show This Is Us, came to the United States from Russia when she was three. In this short, but awesome video that’s part of the Lives of Women series, she talks about her experience as a child comparing herself to American children, and how much she values the organization that worked with her family to help them get settled and thrive. (via Women and Hollywood)

First, they went back into the past. Now, they’re going into the future. Well, their future, which is really 1991, which is our past. It’s all very confusing, but it looks highly entertaining. Check out the trailer for the upcoming Wet, Hot, American Summer: Ten Years Later on Netflix. (via Deadline Hollywood)

That’s it from us! What have you seen out there today?

(image: screencap)

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The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

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Posted by Vivian Kane

We all know by now that Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t know what’s being sold on her website. (Either that or she claims not to so as to avoid criticism for selling truly stupid nonsense.) Still, no number of occasional damage control this medical advice is not written by medical professionals disclaimers can make the fad products being linked to and sold on her site any less ridiculous.

Like, for instance, when Goop tries to promote stickers made from NASA spacesuits that claim to get your body to its “ideal energetic frequency.” See now, I’m not sure if you’re aware, but according to these non-doctors, stress and anxiety can deplete our natural energy reserves, and the only solution is space stickers. “Body Vibes” stickers go on your chest or your left arm or shoulder, come pre-programmed with space technology to “fill in the deficiencies in your reserves, creating a calming effect, smoothing out both physical tension and anxiety.”

I wouldn’t have thought that’s real, but it says it on a celebrity’s website, so you know it’s true. Plus, they cost $120 for a 24 pack, and nothing that costs more than $100 could be a lie, right?

Over on the “Science & Technology” page of Body Vibes’ website, we learn that the stickers are “embedded with a specific combination of bio-frequencies designed to enhance and activate particular targeted systems.” The stickers are made from “an exclusive material originally developed for NASA.” This “carbon fiber compound” can hold “specific frequency charges that naturally stimulate the human body’s receptors.” Wow! Those sure are some impressive science words.

Just look at the stickers healing the world:

And healing Spencer Pratt:

A post shared by Body Vibes (@mybodyvibes) on

THEY OPEN YOUR MIND, GET IT.

Open your mind before you open your mouth… or your legs 💡

A post shared by Body Vibes (@mybodyvibes) on

(Side note, WTF is that caption?)

So what does an actual representative from NASA think of this? According to Gizmodo, former chief scientist at NASA’s human research division Mark Shelhamer also said “Wow.” As in–actual quote–”Wow, what a load of BS this is.”

Shelhamer calls Body Vibes’ and Goop’s claims “snake oil,” saying astronauts don’t even have suits lined with carbon fiber, or if they did, it sure as hell wouldn’t have any monitoring/bio-frequency purpose.

Goop has now removed their claim that the suits are in any way affiliated with NASA and reminded Gizmodo that their website doesn’t recommend products, they merely want to “encourage conversation.” Despite the fact that the site’s headline says these are “Wearable Stickers That Promote Healing (Really!),” that “really” was just, you know, a conversation starter. Well, good job, because now we can all engage in conversation about how abysmally laughable your website is.

Body Vibes, on the other hand (still linked to by Goop), looks to stand by their science. Of course, if you spend $120 on the Lisa Frank knockoffs and don’t feel the “mobile software” filling your deficiencies, it’s probably just because “some people experience immediate benefits, while others realize the results over time.” Another couple of hundred dollars should do the trick.

(via Gizmodo, image: janet lackey/Flickr)

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The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

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Posted by Laura Bliss

It’s a common sight in the summertime: a shop door propped open, streaming conditioned air onto a sweltering sidewalk.

Retailers do it to lure in customers, believing a chilled, open entry means steadier spending. Sweaty pedestrians might appreciate the brief reprieve.

But it’s also wasteful, especially in a season when electricity grids are working on overdrive to keep cities cool. According to ConEdison, a 10,000-square-foot business—think of a large Gap store—that keeps a door open with the AC running will spend an extra $1,000 on electricity over the course of a summer. It would also drink up nearly five barrels of oil, and pump 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That’s like an putting an extra car on the road for six months.

“It’s an obvious form of energy litter,” says Nate McFarland, the director of communications at Generation 180, a young nonprofit devoted to changing social norms around energy use. With its first campaign, McFarland’s group hopes to use the power of social pressure to shut doors. Launched this week and lasting through September, “Keep It Cool” is crowdsourcing reports of AC-wasting businesses and tagging them to a common map.

With cities now taking it upon themselves to deliver massive greenhouse gas cuts promised by the U.S. in the Paris accord, “this is also something we can have a direct impact on with CO2 emissions,” says McFarland.

Keep your winter wonderland inside, please, downtown Alexandria. (Keep It Cool)

Conscientious observers anywhere in the U.S. can anonymously send in a retailer’s name and location via Facebook messenger; reports of closed and open doors are equally welcome. If it’s the latter, a special bot built by Generation 180 searches the web for an email address attached to the business, and sends a note nudging the owners to pull it shut. If they reply within a week, the store gets a green pin on a collective map, marking its door closed. If they don’t, the pin is yellow. (Watch an instructional video here.)

To convert “offending” businesses to green, Generation 180 sends extra emails packed with evidence in support of a closed-door policy. Large retailers in the U.K., for example, have reported no impact on sales stemming from a similar campaign. Young shoppers in particular like to know that they’re patronizing environmentally friendly establishments. And letting AC pour out of open doors and windows is already illegal in New York City, where blackout risks are on the rise. Last summer, the city expanded a law fining businesses $250 for the practice, and ramped up inspections and patrols.

Generation 180 won’t be policing businesses themselves, or following up with green pins to make sure doors stay shut. The campaign is simply designed to draw attention to a highly avoidable carbon suck. If enough word spreads that a critical mass of yellow and green builds in a couple of cities on the map, that’ll be a successful season. “To us, each pin represents a business and a person that cared enough to notice this practice,” says McFarland. At the start of another super-hot summer, those habits need all the attention they can get.

[syndicated profile] wwdn_feed

Posted by Wil

Oh my god you guys this was so much fun to play and film.

Steam Park is the rare tabletop game with a dice mechanic at its core that I can massively enjoy playing, no matter what the dice do to me.

Get ready for poop jokes!!

[syndicated profile] theatlantic_politics_feed

Posted by Russell Berman

In the hours after Senate Republicans released their long-awaited plan to roll back the Affordable Care Act, it was nearly impossible to find an enthusiastic supporter of the proposal—even among the lawmakers it was most aimed to please.

There was no grand unveiling of a bill that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his lieutenants supposedly spent weeks perfecting behind closed doors. No triumphant declarations of a promise kept, nor even confident predictions of passage. Shortly before 11 a.m. ET, while Republicans were still being briefed on a bill they had yet to see, the Senate Budget Committee sent out a link to the plain, 142-page text of the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.” McConnell went to the Senate floor to talk up the plan as best he could, but even he could only muster modest praise.

“We debated many policy proposals. We considered many different viewpoints,” he said. “In the end, we found that we share many ideas about what needs to be achieved and how we can achieve it.”

Barely two hours later, his bill was already teetering.

Four conservative senators—Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin—quickly declared their opposition to the plan as written on the grounds that it did not go far enough in fulfilling the GOP’s promise to repeal Obamacare. “Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill,” they said in a joint statement while reiterating their desire for more negotiation.

Along the center of the Republican caucus, the watchword was “concern.” A spokeswoman for Susan Collins of Maine, the closest the GOP has to a centrist in the Senate, said she had “a number of concerns” and would await the analysis of the Congressional Budget Office due early next week. Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, facing a tough reelection fight in 2018, said he had “serious concerns about the bill’s impact on Nevadans who depend on Medicaid. Ditto Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, who cited his own “real concerns” about the GOP proposal to make deep cuts to Medicaid and phase out the program’s expansion under Obamacare over four years beginning in 2020, rather than the seven he had proposed.

Any three of those Republicans would be enough to defeat the bill. With Democrats united in opposition, McConnell can lose no more than two of his 52 Republican members and have the bill pass with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence. The reaction from outside the Capitol was no better. Governor John Kasich of Ohio decried the GOP’s “one-party approach” and said he had “deep concerns” with the details of the bill. On the right, the conservative group FreedomWorks gave its backing to the four Senate holdouts and needled McConnell for reneging on his promise to fully repeal Obamacare. The law’s namesake, former President Barack Obama, issued a rare and lengthy statement denouncing the proposal for its “fundamental meanness.” Even President Trump withheld anything resembling an enthusiastic endorsement.

Yet just as an initial onslaught of conservative criticism didn’t ultimately doom the House’s American Health Care Act, the chilly reception won’t necessarily sink the Senate’s broadly similar plan, either. For the moment, the two most important words in the bill are the ones that adorn each page: Discussion draft. Senate budget rules require that the legislation be open to nearly unlimited amendments before a final vote, and it appears that McConnell designed the bill with future changes in mind. Republicans complaining about particular provisions or omissions will have the opportunity to make changes and then, if they vote for a revised version, claim credit for “improving” the bill.

Portman, Heller, and Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia could try to substitute their proposal for a longer transition away from Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, as well as adding significantly to the $2 billion the current draft allocates to fight the opioid epidemic. For his part, Cruz made clear that he wanted to “get to yes” on the bill and offered a series of proposed changes.

“Don’t be fooled,” warned Senator Patty Murray of Washington state, a member of the Democratic leadership. “Senate Republican leaders are going to spend this weekend doing everything they can to cut backroom deals and get the 50 votes they need to jam Trumpcare through the Senate—and that’s why it’s so important that Democrats and patients and families across the country keep fighting back and making clear any senator who votes for this mean, heartless bill will own the consequences.”

Still, the hurdles McConnell faces are considerable, and skepticism about whether he can get 50 Republican senators to agree on a final bill is justified. He must try to mollify the concerns of one faction without sacrificing the support of another. Given the Senate plan’s similarity in scope and structure to the House bill, it is likely the CBO will report that millions of Americans would be in danger of losing their insurance if the proposal takes effect. (The House bill would result in 23 million fewer insured people over a decade, the CBO found.) Such a finding could scare off moderate Republicans, while conservatives might well be disappointed if the CBO does not project that average premiums would drop significantly under the Senate bill. McConnell could be faced with a choice next week of calling a vote on a bill that would fail or delaying the debate and keeping the proposal in limbo while senators head home for a July 4 recess.

Democrats cannot defeat or stall the bill on their own, but they are expected to challenge many of its provisions under the Senate’s reconciliation rules requiring that they be related to budget matters. A senior GOP aide acknowledged that “discussions are ongoing” with the Senate’s parliamentarian about some parts of the bill, including provisions that restrict the use of tax credits for insurance plans that cover abortion. The changes that Cruz is seeking might also not be allowed.

By Thursday’s end, the public finally knew a whole lot more about what’s in the secretive Senate bill, but its fate had become no easier to predict.

[syndicated profile] fairdotorg_feed

Posted by Adam Johnson

"Stumbling Into War" headlinesA recent headline in The Atlantic (6/9/17) earnestly pondered if the US was “Getting Sucked Into More War in Syria.” “Even as Washington potentially stumbles into war…” was how the article’s discussion began.

One of the most common tropes in US media is that the US military always goes to war reluctantly—and, if there are negative consequences, like civilian deaths, it’s simply a matter of bumbling around without much plan or purpose.

This framing serves to flatter two sensibilities: one right and one vaguely left. It satisfies the right-wing nationalist idea that America only goes to war because it’s compelled to by forces outside of its own control; the reluctant warrior, the gentle giant who will only attack when provoked to do so. But it also plays to a nominally liberal, hipster notion that the US military is actually incompetent and boobish, and is generally bad at war-making.

This is expressed most clearly in the idea that the US is “drawn into” war despite its otherwise unwarlike intentions. “Will US Be Drawn Further Into Syrian Civil War?” asked Fox News (4/7/17). “How America Could Stumble Into War With Iran,” disclosed The Atlantic (2/9/17), “What It Would Take to Pull the US Into a War in Asia,” speculated Quartz (4/29/17). “Trump could easily get us sucked into Afghanistan again,” Slate predicted (5/11/17). The US is “stumbling into a wider war” in Syria, the New York Times editorial board (5/2/15) warned. “A Flexing Contest in Syria May Trap the US in an Endless Conflict,” Vice News (6/19/17) added.

Sliding,” “stumbling,” ”sucked into,” “dragged into,” ”drawn into”: The US is always reluctantly—and without a plan—falling backward into bombing and occupying. The US didn’t enter the conflict in Syria in September 2014 deliberately; it was forced into it by outside actors. The US didn’t arm and fund anti-Assad rebels for four years to the tune of $1 billion a year as part of a broader strategy for the region; it did so as a result of some unknown geopolitical dark matter.

Reuters: White House says it retains right to self-defense in Syria; Moscow warns Washington

Note that “self-defense” here means shooting down a plane flying over another country because it’s trying to bomb forces that you’re supporting to try to overthrow that country’s government. (Reuters, 6/19/17)

Syria especially evokes the media’s “reluctantly sucked into war” narrative. Four times in the past month, the Trump administration has attacked pro-regime forces in Syria, and in all four instances they’ve claimed “self-defense.” All four times, media accepted this justification without question (e.g., Reuters, 6/19/17), despite not a single instance of “self-defense” attacks occurring under two-and-a-half years of the Obama administration fighting in Syria. (The one time Obama directly attacked Syrian government forces, the US claimed it was an accident.)

Why the sudden uptick in “self-defense”? Could it be because, as with the bombing of ISIS (and nearby civilians), Trump has given a green light to his generals to adopt an itchy trigger finger? Could it be Trump and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who has a decades-long grudge against Iran, want to blow up Iranian drones and kill Iranian troops? No such questions are entertained, much less interrogated. The US’s entirely defensive posture in Syria is presented as fact and serves as the premise for discussion.

When US empire isn’t reluctant, it’s benevolent. “Initially motivated by humanitarian impulse,” Foreign Policy‘s Emile Simpson (6/21/17)  insisted, “the United States and its Western allies achieved regime change in Libya and attempted it in Syria, by backing rebels in each case.”

“At least in recent decades, American presidents who took military action have been driven by the desire to promote freedom and democracy,” the New York Times editorial board (2/7/17) swooned.

“Every American president since at least the 1970s,” Washington Post’s Philip Rucker (5/2/17) declared, “has used his office to champion human rights and democratic values around the world.” Interpreting US policymakers’ motives is permitted, so long as the conclusion is never critical.

Vanity Fair: Is Putin’s Master Plan Only Beginning?

Vanity Fair (12/28/16): No “stumbling” for Vladimir Putin.

In contrast, foreign policy actions by Russia are painted in diabolical and near-omnipotent terms. “Is Putin’s Master Plan Only Beginning?” worried Vanity Fair (12/28/16). “Putin’s Aim Is to Make This the Russian Century,” insists Time magazine (10/1/16).

Russia isn’t “drawn into” Crimea; it has a secret “Crimea takeover plot” (BBC, 3/9/15). Putin doesn’t “stumble into” Syria; he has a “Long-Term Strategy” there (Foreign Affairs, 3/15/16). Military adventurism by other countries is part of a well-planned agenda, while US intervention is at best reluctant, and at worst bumfuzzled—Barney Fife with 8,000 Abrams tanks and 19 aircraft carriers.

Even liberals talk about war in this agency-free manner. Jon Stewart was fond of saying, for example, that the Iraq war was a “mistake”—implying a degree of “aw shucks” mucking up, rather than a years-long plan by ideologues in the government to assert US hegemony in the Middle East.

War, of course, isn’t a “mistake.” Nor, unless your country is invaded, is it carried out against one’s will. The act of marshalling tens of thousands of troops, scores of ships, hundreds of aircraft, and coordinating the mechanisms of soft and covert power by State and CIA officials, are deliberate acts by conscious, very powerful actors.

Media shouldn’t make broad, conspiratorial assumptions as to what the bigger designs are. But neither are they under any obligation to buy into this mythology that US foreign policy is an improvised peace mission carried out by good-hearted bureaucrats, who only engage in war because they’re “sucked into” doing so.

Khamriin Khiid in Mongolia

Jun. 22nd, 2017 05:33 pm
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The Shambala.

According to Mongolian Buddhism, a spot in the middle of the Gobi desert is where the strongest spiritual energy in the world converges. To mark the location, the monastery complex was built in the 19th century, Khamriin Khiid.

The original Khamriin Khiid monastery was founded in 1820 by Danzanravjaa, known as the Terrible Noble Saint of the Gobi, who observed the location's tremendous energy. At its peak, the monastery housed up to 500 monks, and included more than 80 temples within the complex. 

Danzanravjaa was a great scholar and practitioner of the arts, as well as a social reformer. He set up a theater at the monastery for people to develop their singing and acting skills, and a public school, which encouraged education for both men and women.

The lively and productive monastery was destroyed in 1937, in the wake of the Communist purge against religions, and Khamriin Khiid in its current form was reconstructed in 1990. Today, hundreds of pilgrims visit the site every day at dawn to benefit from the spiritual energy that is believed to radiate as a new day is born.

Shambala, the centerpiece of the complex, is surrounded by 108 stupas, encircling other holy monuments and temples, the most prominent of which has a large pair of eyes staring at visitors. The enclosed space is said to be warmer due to the energy that emanates from Shambala, and it is not uncommon to see pilgrims taking off their shoes to better absorb the energy.

Another form of worship is the throwing of rice, millet, milk and vodka on monuments. Other visitors walk around singing a song composed for Khamriin Khiid. Outside the enclosure are the series of caves where Danzanravjaa and other monks meditated for 108 days, two huge breast-shaped mounds covered in milk, a wind-activated bell, and the actual monastery. 

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ZAPA Concrete Holubice (ZAPA Beton Holubice)

Zapa Concrete Holubice is concrete factory designed by architect and artist Jan Radato look like four giant soldiers with an ancient cannon.

This industrial art commemorates the Battle of Austerlitz, on December 2, 1805, also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, which was one of the most important and decisive battles of the Napoleonic Wars.

Where Tomorrow's Floods Will Come

Jun. 22nd, 2017 05:52 pm
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Posted by Linda Poon

Tropical storm Cindy made landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border early Thursday morning. Two states—Louisiana and Alabama—have declared a state of emergency. The storm has killed a 10-year-old boy in Alabama, while battering cities across a 500-mile stretch along the Gulf Coast with tornadoes, winds as high as 50 mph, and rainfall of up to 12 inches. Cindy has since been downgraded to a tropical depression, meaning sustained wind fell below 39 miles per hour. Up to 15 inches of rain could soak certain areas, according to the National Weather Service.

It isn’t just the coastal cities that are feeling that impact: Millions more residents as far north as the Ohio Valley are also at risk of inland flooding due to the heavy rainfall and swelling waterways as the storm moves northeast toward the Mid-Atlantic region.

As the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration explains, the majority of deaths during hurricanes (which differ from tropical storms only in the speed of maximum sustained winds) don’t happen along the coast. Between 1970 and 1999, roughly 60 percent of deaths happened in inland communities. Within cities, those floods can also cause billions of dollars of damages.

Such flooding will be a feature of our future, as Cindy-esque tropical storms and unnamed super-rains are symptoms of a warming world, meteorologist Eric Holthaus writes in Pacific Standard. “Since a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor (thanks to enhanced evaporation and other factors), rainfall rates during extreme events have become more intense.”

The good news, according to a new study backed by the National Science Foundation, is that overall, the U.S. has been making efforts to avoid development in flood zones, defined as an area that has a 1 percent of flooding in any given year. That’s particularly true in coastal areas, where urban development in these places has generally decreased. There have, however been prominent exceptions. Development in Miami has been continuing apace, despite the extreme risk presented by both storm-related flooding and rising sea levels. And in the New Jersey shore towns devastated by Hurricane Sandy, as the New York Times reported last week, there’s been a boom in new high-end housing steps from the beach.

But when the researchers overlaid national data on land cover, flood hazard, and population onto the U.S. as a whole, they found something alarming. "Within this general trend, a surprising result is that we found more [increase in] urban development in the flood zones in the inland counties than in coastal areas,” says Nina Lam, a professor of environmental studies at Louisiana State University and the study’s lead author.

This map of the rate of change in urban development inside flood zones between 2001 and 2011 show pockets (in orange shades) of high increase of urban land inside areas that are at risk of flooding. (Reprinted by permission of the AAG, from Changes in Exposure to Flood Hazards in the United States, by Yi Qiang, Nina S. N. Lam, Heng Cai, Lei Zou)

Though it wasn’t part of the study, the researchers suspect that it could be a lack of awareness about the flooding risks within inland communities. Residents might misinterpret the term “100-year-flood” to mean that a flood happens once every century. But what the term really means is that an area has 1-in-100 chance of flood in any given year, based on the historic record. There’s another 1-percent chance of an equal (or greater) flood two years in a row. Lam adds that it’s not just named storms like Hurricane Katrina or Tropical Storm Cindy, which are more of a risk in coastal areas, that result in these floods. Heavy, nameless downpours can easily cause catastrophic localized flooding, as they did in South Carolina in 2015 and in West Virginia last year. But because they don’t get quite the same media coverage, people are less aware of the risks.

Case in point: In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, says Lam, many New Orleanians moved inland to East Baton Rouge Parish. But the water followed them: In 2016, continuous torrential downpours dumped as much as two feet of rain in parts of East Baton Rouge in two days, causing an estimated $8 billion in damages for the whole state. That was a “1,000-year rain,” meaning there was a 0.1 percent chance of it occurring in any given year.

But terms like 100-year, 500-year, and 1,000-year floods are increasingly outdated, as my colleague Laura Bliss wrote about Baton Rouge last year. Given the Earth’s warmer atmosphere, flood risk assessments need to be updated accordingly.

Flood risks also may not be high on the list of priorities when developers choose where to build, particularly in inland areas. That’s troublesome because that also means that they are less prepared than their coastal counterparts to mitigate the impact when a storm hits. The thing is that forecasting inland flooding is tricky, according to NOAA. It’s a balancing act between predicting the amount of rainfall—a challenge in itself—and where it will hit hardest. A small shift in a storm’s path is enough to decide which rivers will and won’t flood.

Lam does note, however, that the in the years not included in her study (2012 and beyond) intense rain events that affect inland communities have aroused more attention, which she imagines should decrease that knowledge gap. But the study, and the storms—whether named ones like Cindy or the many nameless ones that will follow in its wake—should serve as a “wake-up call.”

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DETROIT (AP) -- Authorities say a Canadian man from Tunisia crossed legally into the U.S. days before stabbing a police officer in the neck at a Michigan airport. The attack raises questions about security along the northern border, including what the process is for travelers and how many people are detained or denied entry. A look at some common questions and answers....
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Posted by Marlene Cimons

Clouds

They've got scientists looking at clouds in a whole new way.

Researchers discovered lollipop-shaped crystals after scrutinizing more than 5 million images taken during a 2009 flight through a large cloud system in southwest…

No Miracle Cures

Jun. 22nd, 2017 02:20 pm
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diversityinya:

By Tracey Martin

Back in 2011 when I first started drafting Skid, it never occurred to me that my main character Gabrielle would be considered unusual. All I remember from that the time was wanting to tell a story that combined some of my favorite elements—romance and ghost stories and murder mysteries and crows that might really be servants of the underworld coming to steal your soul. Oh, and it would be set in an apple orchard, which struck me as the kind of almost mystical place where these various elements would naturally converge.

It would also star the sort of main character who I never saw in YA books, a girl that would be completely normal within the banality of my own existence. A girl living with an injured back and chronic pain.

See, my mother has been living with back problems since I was a child. My husband does too, thanks to being hit by a car (while he was on a bike) only a couple years after we met in college. And my own back pain issues began just a few years after that when I was in grad school. Pain was part of my life. A character dealing with those issues on top of falling in love and struggling with school and life and the collapse of her dreams—that was just how the world worked and the story I needed to write. I hadn’t read it before, and I just knew I couldn’t be the only one who could relate.

To paraphrase The Princess Bride, life is pain, or at least it is for many people. Studies vary, but approximately 15% of adolescents and teens report living with chronic pain of some sort. That’s part of the reason why the U.S. is facing an epidemic of addiction and overdoses caused by narcotic pain relievers. (While many people abusing these drugs may not need them, data suggests that most people who abuse painkillers started out taking the drugs for legitimate pain issues.) Modern medicine is capable of amazing feats, but its ability to address pain is woefully inadequate. It’s not just drug dependency that goes along with chronic pain either; it’s depression and suicide and an overall reduced quality of life.

Reading has always been one of those things that’s helped me cope, whether with pain or daily life stressors, and there’s a reason why I gravitate toward reading escapist stories. But even purely escapist stories can—and do—show us possibilities for real life. So long before I figured out the details of the orchard and its mystery (or the cute farm boy who lives there), I knew one thing about Gabrielle’s story. It had to be honestly hopeful. That is, I wanted Gabrielle’s story to be true to my experiences and to not trivialize what she goes through because there are no miracle cures in real life, not even love. In fact, I tend to believe in the opposite—we must heal ourselves in order to find love. But within that context, I didn’t want Skid to be a sad story because living with pain doesn’t need to be sad.

As Gabrielle figures out in Skid, we always have choices. Or as she puts it, as a former swimmer with shattered Olympic dreams, we can either keep swimming or we can let ourselves sink. Some days, that choice is harder to make than others, but ultimately, I hope we all find ways to cope and to work around whatever it is in our lives that’s trying to hold us back. I want everyone to choose to forge ahead, grasping the precious moments of life with both hands—the ones that remind us that life is, in fact, more than pain. It’s the fluttery feeling of first love, the sweet crispness of fresh apples, and the mysteries of the past and awe of the unknown.

And it’s there for all of us.

Tracey Martin wanted to be an astronaut, a doctor, and an actor, possibly all at once. Instead, she studied psychology, and that led her to have an epiphany–imaginary people are way more fun than real ones. And so she became a writer.

She likes her coffee simple, her music epic, and her movies to contain explosions. A city girl at heart, she doesn’t understand how she and her husband ended up living in New Hampshire, but writing keeps her off the mean, small town streets.

Skid is available for purchase.

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Posted by Elaine Godfrey

Today in 5 Lines

Senate Republicans released a 142-page proposal that would dismantle parts of the Affordable Care Act. Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, and Mike Lee said in a joint statement that they are “not ready” to vote for the GOP health-care bill, but are open to negotiations. Former President Barack Obama also weighed in, calling the bill a “massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America.” Trump said on Twitter that he did not record his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey, despite having suggested “tapes” exist of their talks. Edgar Maddison Welch, the North Carolina man who fired an assault rifle inside a restaurant in Washington, D.C. in response to an internet conspiracy theory, was sentenced to four years in prison.


Today on The Atlantic

  • Medicaid on the Line: Vann R. Newkirk II explains how the new Republican health-care plan will shift benefits from the poor and sick to the healthy and affluent.

  • What Gives?: Immigration restrictionist groups thought they had an ally in Donald Trump, but after the president fell short on several key campaign promises, those groups are losing faith in him. (Priscilla Alvarez)

  • ‘A Big Dem HOAX!’: A recent tweet from President Trump suggests that he no longer believes Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election, putting him at odds with the intelligence community and most congressional Republicans. (David A. Graham)

Follow stories throughout the day with our Politics & Policy portal.


Snapshot

Stephanie Woodward, who has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair, is removed from a sit-in at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office as she and other disability rights advocates protest proposed funding caps to Medicaid. Jacquelyn Martin / AP


What We’re Reading

Sweet Freedom: Years after her failed bid for the vice presidency, and perhaps inspired by the election of Donald Trump, Sarah Palin has embarked on a new business venture: “Running a right-wing content farm.” (Olivia Nuzzi, New York)

‘North Dakota’s Last Democrat?’: Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s decision whether to seek reelection in 2018 will be central to Democrats’ hopes of taking back Congress—and a test of the party’s “big tent.” (Burgess Everett, Politico)

A Microcosm: In recent years, politics in North Carolina has gone “haywire,” writes Jason Zengerle. Does the state's current political landscape offer a glimpse into the future of American politics? (The New York Times Magazine)

Sweet Tooth Sleuths: BuzzFeed reports that several CIA contractors were fired after stealing an estimated $3,314 worth of snacks from agency vending machines. (Jason Leopold and David Mack)

An Unwritten Law: Juries tend to side with police officers in cases where the officer feared for his or her life, writes David French, but “it’s imperative that juries understand that not all fear is reasonable, and some officers simply (and wrongly) panic.” (National Review)


Visualized

Side By Side: After weeks of deliberation, Senate Republicans have revealed their new health-care proposal. Here’s how it differs from both the Affordable Care Act and the House’s health-care bill. (Kim Soffen and Darla Cameron, The Washington Post)


Question of the Week

Since early June, Representative Mark Meadows, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, has been calling for Congress to cancel its summer recess in order to pass a few key items on the GOP agenda, like health care and tax reform. But lawmakers are reluctant to give up their summer breaks, partly because the recess gives them time to meet with their constituents back in their home states.

Do you think lawmakers should go on recess or stick around to focus on working through their agenda? And why?

Send your answers to hello@theatlantic.com and our favorites will be featured in Friday’s Politics & Policy Daily.

-Written by Elaine Godfrey (@elainejgodfrey)

Obama: 'This Bill Will Do You Harm'

Jun. 22nd, 2017 04:29 pm
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Posted by Vann R. Newkirk II

On Thursday, Senate Republicans released a draft version of their Obamacare replacement, the American Health Care Act. The bill looks similar to the version passed by the House in May, and would accomplish much of the same: a large increase in the number of uninsured people and drastic cuts to the Medicaid program that is critical for poor people, pregnant women, children, and people with chronic health conditions.

In the aftermath of the release of that bill, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hopes will pass the Senate in the next two weeks, former President Barack Obama issued a rare full-throated post-presidential statement criticizing the AHCA and the political process by which it came to be. The statement, posted to Facebook, comes on the heels of another statement in March defending Obamacare, and is also one of the most thorough defenses of his signature policy, even dating back to his time in office.

-Vann Newkirk


Our politics are divided. They have been for a long time. And while I know that division makes it difficult to listen to Americans with whom we disagree, that’s what we need to do today.

I recognize that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican Party. Still, I hope that our senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did.

We didn’t fight for the Affordable Care Act for more than a year in the public square for any personal or political gain—we fought for it because we knew it would save lives, prevent financial misery, and ultimately set this country we love on a better, healthier course.

Nor did we fight for it alone. Thousands upon thousands of Americans, including Republicans, threw themselves into that collective effort, not for political reasons, but for intensely personal ones—a sick child, a parent lost to cancer, the memory of medical bills that threatened to derail their dreams.

And you made a difference. For the first time, more than 90 percent of Americans know the security of health insurance. Health care costs, while still rising, have been rising at the slowest pace in 50 years. Women can’t be charged more for their insurance, young adults can stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26, contraceptive care and preventive care are now free. Paying more, or being denied insurance altogether due to a preexisting condition—we made that a thing of the past.

We did these things together. So many of you made that change possible.

At the same time, I was careful to say again and again that while the Affordable Care Act represented a significant step forward for America, it was not perfect, nor could it be the end of our efforts—and that if Republicans could put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I would gladly and publicly support it.

That remains true. So I still hope that there are enough Republicans in Congress who remember that public service is not about sport or notching a political win, that there’s a reason we all chose to serve in the first place, and that hopefully, it’s to make people’s lives better, not worse.

But right now, after eight years, the legislation rushed through the House and the Senate without public hearings or debate would do the opposite. It would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it. That’s not my opinion, but rather the conclusion of all objective analyses, from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which found that 23 million Americans would lose insurance, to America’s doctors, nurses, and hospitals on the front lines of our health care system.

The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. Those with private insurance will experience higher premiums and higher deductibles, with lower tax credits to help working families cover the costs, even as their plans might no longer cover pregnancy, mental health care, or expensive prescriptions. Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again. Millions of families will lose coverage entirely.

Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family—this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.

I hope our senators ask themselves—what will happen to the Americans grappling with opioid addiction who suddenly lose their coverage? What will happen to pregnant mothers, children with disabilities, poor adults and seniors who need long-term care once they can no longer count on Medicaid? What will happen if you have a medical emergency when insurance companies are once again allowed to exclude the benefits you need, send you unlimited bills, or set unaffordable deductibles? What impossible choices will working parents be forced to make if their child’s cancer treatment costs them more than their life savings?

To put the American people through that pain—while giving billionaires and corporations a massive tax cut in return—that’s tough to fathom. But it’s what’s at stake right now. So it remains my fervent hope that we step back and try to deliver on what the American people need.

That might take some time and compromise between Democrats and Republicans. But I believe that’s what people want to see. I believe it would demonstrate the kind of leadership that appeals to Americans across party lines. And I believe that it’s possible – if you are willing to make a difference again. If you’re willing to call your members of Congress. If you are willing to visit their offices. If you are willing to speak out, let them and the country know, in very real terms, what this means for you and your family.

After all, this debate has always been about something bigger than politics. It’s about the character of our country – who we are, and who we aspire to be. And that’s always worth fighting for.

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Capella de Nossa Senhora das Vitórias.

At the edge of the tropical tree line of Lagoa das Furnas there is a charming lake in the middle of São Miguel Island. Emerging from this fairytale landscape is the slim tower of a neo-Gothic church that dates to 1882. What began as a testament to the ailing wife of a wealthy Azorean gardener and amateur botanist, ended up as one of the most evocative churches in the whole archipelago.

Capella de Nossa Senhora das Vitórias, Chapel of Our Lady of Victories, was intended to honor Maria Guilhermina Taveira de Brum da Silveira, the wife of a local landowner named José Do Conto. She had fallen tragically and terminally ill, and her husband took it upon himself to create this magical lakeside chapel. Calling on his renowned design and landscaping talents, despite the structural elements the whole endeavor feels more like the soft-focus of magical realism than hard-edge gothic.

Do Conto didn’t actually finish the work himself, but compelled it to be done before he passed away in 1898. Living to see its completion, his wish to be buried next to his wife was fulfilled, and both are there in the Chapel. There are 18 windows, mostly filled with bright stained glass that shine down colorful gospel depictions on the couple’s final resting place. 

There are no services held here, which gives it an ancient, abandoned, and even timeless feeling as the natural elements take over. It stands like an old tree, firmly rooted and infused into the forest. Between the Chapel, the gardens, the lake, and the surrounding mountains, it stands out as one of the most endearing and rustic places in the Azores.

Llanymynech in Llanymynech, England

Jun. 22nd, 2017 04:51 pm
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Welcome to Wales

The small rural village of Llanymynech has a national border running down the middle of it’s main street. The eastern side of the road lies in England, and the western side of the road is in Wales.

The national border runs straight through the middle of the now sadly closed Lion Hotel, which had one bar in Wales, and two bars on the more popular English side. (England historically had more favourable drinking laws, allowing alcohol to be served on a Sunday.)

Today the geographic anomaly has more humdrum financial consequences for the residents of Llanymynech. For example, those on the Welsh side of the road get free prescription medication thanks to the healthcare laws of Wales, whereas those on the opposite side in England have to pay a small contribution.

The reason for the border running down the centre of the road is that it follows the path of an ancient earthen bank called Offa’s Dyke. The dyke was constructed in the 8th century by King Offa, who ruled the ancient English Kingdom of Mercia, to protect his lands from Welsh raiders from the neighbouring Kingdom of Powys. Today relations in the village between those on the west and east sides of the border are more benign, except perhaps during certain international Rugby matches.

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Posted by Mimi Kirk

When Singapore broke away from Malaysia in 1965 and became independent, it was a country of slums, illiteracy, and poverty, with a per capita GPD of $500 USD. By 2014, that figure had reached $56,000 USD—a little more than that of the United States. In only 50 years, the country transformed itself into one of glittering skyscrapers, tidy housing estates, and shopping malls, largely due to the vision and leadership of Lee Kuan Yew, or LKY, Singapore’s prime minister from 1959 to 1990.

LKY’s unsentimental approach to progress was partly responsible for this incredible growth. His government cleared dilapidated houses and hawker stalls to make way for a new Singapore—and the clearing didn’t stop once the country’s infrastructure was well developed. In 2005, for example, authorities demolished the beloved Old National Library to make way for a tunnel.

When LKY died in 2015, it seemed fitting that his will called for the demolition of the colonial-style bungalow he had lived in since 1945. He told a group of journalists in 2011, “Because of my house, the neighboring houses cannot build high. Now demolish my house and change the planning rules [for height, and] the land value will go up.”

Singapore’s ultra-modern skyline in 2015. (Edgar Su/Reuters)

But now, a complicated feud is underway between the current prime minister, Lee Hsieng Loong, who is the eldest son of LKY, and his two younger siblings about the fate of the house. While the siblings support demolishing it, a ministerial committee is considering other options, such as leveling the home but preserving the basement, where LKY and his political allies formed the People’s Action Party—the party that runs the country to this day. Though Prime Minister Lee has recused himself of any dealings with the house, his siblings accuse him of having plans to preserve it.

The debate over what to do with LKY’s home comes at a time when Singaporeans are growing increasingly interested in conserving their heritage. The demolition of the Old National Library is often referred to as the point at which more citizens began to question the government’s lack of interest in historic preservation.

The recent fight to save Bukit Brown cemetery, an enormous and historic graveyard through which the government is putting a highway, has seen some wins for civil society groups. Though plans to radically develop the space are still moving ahead, authorities now plan to move fewer graves—3,700 instead of 5,000—and the affected gravestones will be catalogued and stored rather than destroyed.

Another preservation controversy centers around the Sungei Road flea market, where vendors have been selling quirky wares since the 1930s. The market was already reduced to half its size in 2011 to make way for a subway station, and the government, which has plans to build housing on the site, will shut the entire operation down on July 11.

Though citizen groups have appealed to authorities to relocate the market, they have not received a response. The opposition Singapore Democratic Party has even gotten involved. Its leader Chee Soon Juan wrote on Facebook, “This is the tragedy in modern Singapore with a government that knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.”

The fate of LKY’s house will be linked to the current squabble in Singapore’s leading family. But if it is conserved in some fashion, it may signal a greater concern for the preservation of the country’s history on the part of the government. The next step would be for the government to engage more fully with civil society on heritage decisions regarding sites not associated with the party in power.

As Terence Chong and Yeo Kang Shua of the Singapore Heritage Society argue, whether or not LKY’s home is demolished, it provides an opportunity to strengthen due process when it comes to assessing a historical building or site. They suggest official engagement with historians, architects, and social scientists on such decision-making, and to make the dealings public. “These are heritage concerns that go beyond [LKY’S home],” they write in the Straits Times. “Discussing them openly and objectively would be to our benefit.

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