Archive for BOILERPLATE

Wiki-Polanski

blog_wikipolanskiThe arrest of Roman Polanski and the impending extradition attempt by the United States for the filmmaker’s 1977 conviction for having sex with a 13-year-old girl set off such a buzz on Wikipedia that the website’s administrators froze his entry — warring factions were battling over whether the director’s cinematic achievements deserve more space than his extra-legal affairs; Wikipedia’s policies have been under increased scrutiny since it announced last month it would review public edits before they go live, and additions to the site overall have seen a general slump in the past few years — stats show its most frequent editors are a mostly homogeneous group, which is contrary to the idea of the whole project; meanwhile, Criterion released a new version of Polanski’s Repulsion this month, sales of which his arrest will certainly not hurt.

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Ethiopia Everywhere

blog_ethiopiaLast weekend Ethiopian distance runner Haile Gebrselassie, who holds the world record for fastest marathon at 2:03:59, schooled the competition in Berlin for the fourth straight year, calling the win “good for my collection;” farmers in Kansas lately have been growing an Ethiopian grain — teff — that is gluten free, packs more protein than wheat, and can withstand drought and floods; and the Washington Post profiles Haile Gerima, an independent Ethiopian auteur whose internationally acclaimed 11th film, Teza, has its American debut today; STOP SMILING took a taste of Ethiopian cuisine for a restaurant profile in its DC Issue. -SS

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Goose Island Update

blog_gillmanLast winter a group of unionized workers in Chicago occupied their workplace — a windows and doors factory on Goose Island — when its owners tried to surreptitiously shut it down after having their line of credit cut by Bank of America, prompting nationwide news coverage and support from labor advocates; yesterday, In These Times reported that the factory’s former president has been arrested and charged with felony theft and money laundering related to his efforts to secretly move equipment from the Chicago factory to a non-union plant in Iowa; a book about the factory takeover by Kari Lydersen, Revolt on Goose Island, was released by Melville House this summer with a reading and discussion at the STOP SMILING Storefront.

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Wage-Earners Beware

blog_cashierA roundup of articles today looks at the potential foes one might face while working for a wage in the United States: First, a jaw-dropping new study shows that if you’re a low-wage worker, you’d do well to watch out for your employer — a whopping 68 percent of those interviewed reported at least one pay-related violation in the previous week; if you’re working in the American South, a new book advises that the media is against you, as it has historically acted as a mouthpiece for racist politicians who bash unions, civil rights and communism all in one fell drawl; surely by now you have guessed that Whole Foods CEO John Mackey might not be the best friend to his “team member” employees seeking health benefits from a program riddled with hidden system charges; finally, an Irish Bostonian comes forth to argue that Ted Kennedy was not the friend to the working man that his glowing obits make him seem.

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Hey Suburbia!

blog_suburbiaSome critics of Obama’s plan to fight housing segregation by dumping money into impoverished inner-city sectors and hoping for the best received welcome encouragement from a groundbreaking ruling earlier this month that makes it tough for affluent suburbs to shut their gates on low-income families; meanwhile, a Houston writer explains why suburbs deserve to exist inside city limits, and why “inner-city” and “urban” are no longer synonymous adjectives when attached to “neighborhood;” finally, a Slate photo essay takes us on a tour of Forest Hills Gardens, a transit-oriented planned community in New York built 100 years ago. -SS

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NASA’s Empty Pockets

blog_nasaA panel appointed by President Obama to evaluate the program proposed by NASA to put humans back on the moon in 2020 has intensely criticized the plan, which originated under George W Bush, saying that its budget would be unworkable even with the help of Santa Claus; at the same time, NASA has announced that it lacks the funding to reach its goal of monitoring 90 percent of deadly asteroids by 2020, which Congress mandated it do in 2005; all this makes one wonder if the severe head scratching over what food to serve astronauts on their upcoming three-year Mars mission is really what scientists should be concentrating on. -SS

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Life After Death

blog_fluResurrections take on a variety of forms today, some more literal than others: A family in Paraguay was baffled, overjoyed and angered when a baby declared dead at the hospital woke up after being taken home for his own wake; Michael Jackson’s death has resurrected his dwindling profitability to the tune of $100 million in just 48 days, with another $100 million projected before the end of the year; an exhibit at the International Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago shows the innovative ways in which medical arts students are bringing life to anatomy via photorealistic 3-D models and interactive animations; and lazy photojournalists are doing their halfhearted best to revive interest in Detroit by flocking to the city and taking pictures of the same decrepit structures as everyone else. -SS

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Let Them Eat Meat!

blog_mcdonaldsDark days for vegetarians may lie ahead: The White House has called for the removal of posters from the DC Metro that urge lawmakers to support mandated veggie options in public school lunchrooms, because the ads use the president’s daughters as linchpins in their argument; while we noted months back that organic farming has been hit hard by the recession, McDonald’s version of “downscale, industrialized, aggressively unhealthy” meat-centric cuisine has buoyed the company through a stretch of growth and prosperity; farmers in the northeast United States face seriously dwindling supplies of tomatoes as their crops are hit with late blight, the same disease that caused the Irish potato famine; and even fauna like their fair share of flesh, we’re reminded, as researchers discover a pitcher plant large enough to eat rats. -SS

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Jailhouse Roundup

blog_jailThe worlds that exist inside behind bars — ever-fascinating for their mystery, brutality and occasional bouts of poetry — continue to bubble up into the view of the unincarcerated: It’s no secret that California’s infamous “Chino” prison erupted in a riot last weekend, but no report of that violence comes close to what a young Iranian describes seeing after being arrested during protests following July’s disputed presidential election; in Mexico, drug cartel bosses and underlings continue to live in prison (and leave) much as they please; Christopher Hitchens notices that the two American journalists recently “saved” by the Clintons from North Korea look in better shape after six months in prison than most citizens of that country do normally; and City Journal provides an incredible look at the US jail system, where the volume and turnover rate of pre-trial detainees makes jailkeepers’ jobs much like “shepherding each of the thousands of commuters streaming through New York’s Penn Station to their trains safely and on time, except that the commuters are all criminals who keep changing their travel plans, and their trains, to which they don’t want to go, and have no fixed timetables”. -SS

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Fakes, Frauds and Fallacies, Oh My!

blog_counterfeitKeep an eye out, folks, counterfeits abound: The New York Times reported Tuesday that letters received by members of Congress from a nonprofit group arguing against a piece of climate-change legislation were actually from a lobbying group that represents a coal company — the alleged nonprofit doesn’t exist; Vanity Fair shines a dim light on North Korea’s opaque Office 39, a crime syndicate that, among other things, produces counterfeit US currency so real it passes through hypersensitive Las Vegas slot machines; finally, the BBC Magazine takes on a YouTube video that’s been viewed over 10 million times, which lays out statistics that suggest the EU will be home to a majority Muslim population in a matter of decades — a claim the news organization attacks as patently false.

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