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‘Like prisoners of war’: North Korean labour behind Russia 2018 World Cup 

A test opening of St Petersburg’s Zenit Arena in February treated 10,000 spectators to car racing, motorcycle tricks, dancers and a performing bear introduced as “Russia’s greatest hero”. But the patriotic ceremony failed to note that the stadium, in which Russia kick off the Confederations Cup in a fortnight in preparation for next year’s World Cup, was built mostly by immigrant workers from Asia, including from one of the world’s most repressive countries, North Korea.

A subcontractor who asked to remain anonymous said at least 190 “downtrodden” North Koreans had worked long hours with no days off between August and November last year and that one, a 47-year-old, had died on site. “These guys are afraid to speak to people. They don’t look at anyone. They’re like prisoners of war,” the subcontractor said.

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/jun/04/like-prisoners-of-war-north-korean-labour-russia-world-cup-st-petersburg-stadium-zenit-arena

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2017 in Asia, Europe

 

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The Long, Lonely Road of Chelsea Manning

On a gray morning this spring, Chelsea Manning climbed into the back seat of a black S.U.V. and directed her security guard to drive her to the nearest Starbucks. A storm was settling over Manhattan, and Manning was prepared for the weather, in chunky black Doc Martens with an umbrella and a form-fitting black dress. Her legs were bare, her eyes gray blue. She wore little makeup: a spot of eyeliner, a smudge of pink lip gloss.

At Starbucks, she ordered a white-chocolate mocha and retreated to a nearby stool. Manning has always been small (5 foot 4), but in her last few months at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, she jogged religiously, outside in the prison yard and around the track of the prison gym, and her body had taken on a lithe sharpness, apparent in the definition of her arms and cheekbones. She looked healthy and fit, if a little uneasy, as people who have served long spells in prison often do.

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/06/12/magazine/the-long-lonely-road-of-chelsea-manning.html?referer=

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2017 in Reportages

 

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The Mountain and the Dry Desert Are Mine 

In Gwadar, the first thing that struck me was the hills. The color of bone, they line the coast, hacked into straight lines as if hewed by human hands or mining. But it is harsh winds that have chiselled these sharp squares and turrets. In the local Baloch language, Gwadar means “gateway of the wind.” Below the hills, barren scrubland stretches out, a sandy moonscape under white hot sun.

We had just touched down at the airport, a dusty strip of tarmac serving as a runway, fronted by a blocky concrete building with a sniper positioned on top. “This will be an international hub—the biggest airport in Pakistan,” said the army official escorting us.

There were more than twenty of us, a delegation of journalists flown from Islamabad to Gwadar to see the outpost touted by officials as the next Dubai or Shenzhen. We filed into the waiting armored vehicles, discombobulated after a bumpy three-hour ride on a military jet, strapped in like extras in a war movie.

https://www.guernicamag.com/the-mountain-and-the-dry-desert-are-mine/

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2017 in Asia, Reportages

 

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Micro-targeted digital porn is changing human sexuality 

It was only a couple of decades ago, before WiFi or the static death shriek of dial-up modems, that fetishes were hard-won secrets. The porno most of us stumbled across in our formative pubescence – a Playboy left on a rural Greyhound bus, or a waterlogged bodice-ripper in a back-alley dumpster – was all hard silicon protuberances and breathy nonsense. It was sexual, so it was almost invariably scintillating. But it was also ultimately just a flattening manifestation of one grotesque, misogynistic fantasy. Figuring out what actually got your motor running required work and guts. You had to dig deep into the bargain boxes of porn shops, open up with strangers (or worse, those you loved), and pray that you could find someone who understood and would accommodate your desires.
https://aeon.co/essays/micro-targeted-digital-porn-is-changing-human-sexuality

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Pornhub Is the Kinsey Report of Our Time

Waking up on a Sunday morning, I received a text about what happened after I left the previous night’s party. “Everyone got high and we played truth or dare. Ted and Ivan docked.”

“Are you serious?” I replied. “I thought that only happened in porn.” Defined by Urban Dictionary as “the act of placing the head of one’s penis inside the foreskin of another’s penis,” docking is an act that, until that fateful night, nobody at the party had attempted or witnessed firsthand. (Or so they claimed.) But once you know a thing is a thing, sometimes you can’t get it out of your mind. And in a fit of libidinous boredom, or idle curiosity, or lust, or who even knows why anyone does anything anyway — you do that thing. Because that thing exists, and so do you. At some point, someone had to.

On the internet, there is a maxim known as Rule 34, which states: If you can imagine it, there is porn of it. No exceptions. And now that we are solidly into the age of internet pornography, I believe we are ready for another maxim: If there is porn of it, people will try it. (Maybe we can call it Rule 35.) And if people are trying that thing, then inevitably some of them will make videos of that thing and upload those to the internet. The result: an infinitely iterating feedback loop of sexual trial and error. Once upon a time, someone would try something new on film and it would take years to circulate on VHS or DVD through a relatively small community of porn watchers. But today, even the mainstream is porn-literate, porn-saturated, and porn-conversant. For a sexual butterfly effect to take place, you don’t even need to try that thing with your body — you can watch it, text about it, post jokes about it on Tumblr, chat about it on Grindr, masturbate while thinking about it, and type its name into so many search engines as to alter the sexual universe. There is such a thing, now, as a sexual meme — erotic acts and fantasies that replicate and spread like wildfire.

https://www.thecut.com/2017/06/pornhub-and-the-american-sexual-imagination.html

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Two Impulsive Leaders Fan the Global Flames 

The Middle East.  Could there be a more perilous place on Earth, including North Korea?  Not likely.  The planet’s two leading nuclear armed powers backing battling proxies amply supplied with conventional weapons; terror groups splitting and spreading; religious-sectarian wars threatening amid a plethora of ongoing armed hostilities stretching from Syria to Iraq to Yemen. And that was before Donald Trump and his team arrived on this chaotic scene. If there is one region where a single spark might start the fire that could engulf the globe, then welcome to the Middle East.



As for sparks, they are now in ample supply. At this moment, President Trump’s foreign policy agenda is a package of contradictions threatening to reach a boiling point in the region. He has allied himself firmly with Saudi Arabia even when his secretaries of state and defense seem equivocal on the subject. In the process, he’s come to view a region he clearly knows little about through the Saudi royal family’s paranoid eyes, believing staunchly that Shia Iran is hell-bent on controlling an Islamic world that is 85% Sunni.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176303/

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2017 in Middle East

 

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“The Battle Lines of the Future”

That Donald Trump is a grand disruptor when it comes to international affairs is now a commonplace observation in the establishment media. By snubbing NATO and withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, we’ve been told, President Trump is dismantling the liberal world order created by Franklin D. Roosevelt at the end of World War II. “Present at the Destruction” is the way Foreign Affairs magazine, the flagship publication of the Council on Foreign Relations, put it on its latest cover. Similar headlines can be found on the editorial pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post. But these prophecies of impending global disorder miss a crucial point: in his own quixotic way, Donald Trump is not only trying to obliterate the existing world order, but also attempting to lay the foundations for a new one, a world in which fossil-fuel powers will contend for supremacy with post-carbon, green-energy states.
http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176294/tomgram%3A_michael_klare%2C_%22the_battle_lines_of_the_future%22/

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in North America

 

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Is there a neo-Nazi storm brewing in Trump country? 

When the men in black walked into her restaurant one Friday morning and sat at the round table in the corner, Brittany Porter knew exactly what they were.

Pale, skittish, aggressively tattooed, they wore black T-shirts with a cryptic white logo over their hearts. One had a razor inked along his left jaw and two SS lightning bolts dripping next to his eye like a double set of tears. One wore a handgun on his hip.

Porter went to the table, smiled and asked what they wanted. It was just after 8am. Two of the neo-Nazis ordered chicken nuggets.

On Facebook the night before, Porter read about the group of racists who were coming to eastern Kentucky to hold a rally. They had chosen an economically struggling stretch of coal country with a population that was 98% white and that had voted 80% for Trump. In their propaganda videos, the neo-Nazi leaders had talked about the scourge of drug addiction in Pike County.

At 30, Porter knew Pike County’s problems. She herself was a recovered addict, as was her friend Chrissy Wooton, another waitress at the restaurant. Neither of them trusted either political party. Wooton, whose husband is a coal miner, had voted for Trump. Porter had not.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/04/national-socialism-neo-nazis-america-donald-trump

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in North America, Reportages

 

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End of times for humanity 

The end of the world is a growth industry. You can almost feel Armageddon in the air: from survivalist and ‘prepper’ websites (survivopedia.com, doomandbloom.net, prepforshtf.com) to new academic disciplines (‘disaster studies’, ‘Anthropocene studies’, ‘extinction studies’), human vulnerability is in vogue.

The panic isn’t merely about civilisational threats, but existential ones. Beyond doomsday proclamations about mass extinction, climate change, viral pandemics, global systemic collapse and resource depletion, we seem to be seized by an anxiety about losing the qualities that make us human. Social media, we’re told, threatens our capacity for empathy and genuine connection. Then there’s the disaster porn and apocalyptic cinema, in which zombies, vampires, genetic mutants, artificial intelligence and alien invaders are oh-so-nearly human that they cast doubt on the value and essence of the category itself.

How did we arrive at this moment in history, in which humanity is more technologically powerful than ever before, and yet we feel ourselves to be increasingly fragile? The answer lies in the long history of how we’ve understood the quintessence of ‘the human’, and the way this category has fortified itself by feeding on the fantasy of its own collapse. Fears about the frailty of human wisdom go back at least as far as Ancient Greece and the fable of Plato’s cave, in which humans are held captive and can only glimpse the shadows of true forms flickering on the stone walls. We prisoners struggle to turn towards the light and see the source (or truth) of images, and we resist doing so. In another Platonic dialogue, the Phaedrus, Socrates worries that the very medium of knowledge – writing – might discourage us from memorising and thinking for ourselves. It’s as though the faculty of reason that defines us is also something we’re constantly in danger of losing, and even tend to avoid.

https://aeon.co/amp/essays/the-human-world-is-not-more-fragile-now-it-always-has-been

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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A question of justice

This April a number of Republican congressmen set up an Israel Victory Caucus in Washington (1). Its co-chair Bill Johnson said: ‘We believe Israel has been victorious in the war and that this reality must be recognised for any peace to be achieved between Israel and its neighbours.’ Historian Daniel Pipes added that ‘victory means imposing your will on your enemy.’ As if in response, hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners acted on a call from their best-known member, Marwan Barghouti, to go on hunger strike, their way of saying loud and clear that the Palestinians’ resistance continues and all ideas of their destruction are illusions.
http://mondediplo.com/2017/06/11palestine

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in Middle East

 

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