Trumps War on the Press Follows the Mussolini and Hitler Playbook

Beneath the madness and the lies of The Year of Trump there remains a constant drumbeat, unyielding and determined. It broke cover on Jan. 22, 2017 when Kellyanne Conway introduced the term alternative facts.

The abasement of language by Donald Trump and his assorted flacks began long before, but this concept was so naked, so novel and so unblinkingly forthright that it established the rules for the assault to come, just as the first salvo of an artillery barrage signals the creation of a new battlefield where there will be many casualties.

And lets face it, the English language has taken a real pounding since then. Lies have poured forth from the White House at an astonishing rate: The Washington Post estimated that in Trumps first 355 days he made more than 2,000 false or misleading claims, averaging five a day.

Trump has spent two years vilifying the dishonest media (including The Daily Beast), even invoking the Nazi chant of enemies of the people. Aided by the alt right zealots at Breitbart, he has successfully persuaded millions of Americans that The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and MSNBC are seditious forces bent on denigrating and destroying the man they elected.

It is dismaying that it was so easy for him to do this, dismaying that independent journalism of quality is so easily discredited and dismaying that none of this seems to trouble the Republican Party.

And lets be clear: The protection of independent journalism isnt something that a lot of politiciansor a good number of the populationreally care about. Yet, in the end, it has really been a strong year for journalism. In particular, two papers, The New York Times and Washington Post, have re-established themselves as bulwarks against abuses of power, as they were at the time of the Pentagon Papers and Watergate.

Why have these two newspapers in particular once more demonstrated the best of American journalism? Its partly luck. The Post was basically saved by Jeff Bezos whose deep pockets have restored the resources of the newsroom. Under the editorship of Marty Baron they were positioned to seize the Trump moment and rediscovered the art of investigative reporting. Similarly the Times passed through a period in which it struggled to find a new business model for the digital age and eventually found it, enabling its Washington newsroom to become competitive again.

This underlines the fragile dependency of journalism on enlightened patronageon who owns a newspaper and particularly who owns the two papers that are regarded as national in prestige and potency together with the editorial independence and authority that that position requires. For all its fine reporting over the last year The Wall Street Journal does not have that kind of reputational backbone because it is owned by Rupert Murdoch, blatantly a Trump stooge.

But the battle is not yet won, and will not be without eternal vigilance. To realize the gravity of where we are now we need more context than is provided by recent history, we need to look at the history of Italy in the 1920s and Germany in the 1930s. In both nations tyrants arose who on the way to seizing power found it remarkably easy to denigrate and destroy independent journalism.

In Italy, Benito Mussolini came to power in October 1922. At the age of 39 he was the youngest ever prime minister, charismatic and full of energy. He was also careful to move slowly as, almost by stealth, he built a new illiberal state. In a country that for years had lacked unity he proposed a new focus for nationalism: himself. He was Italy. He described a parliament made impotent by its own factionalism a gathering of old fossils. Parliaments powers and the rights of a free press were stripped away.

The people, Mussolini said in July 1924, on the innumerable occasions when I have spoken with them close at hand have never asked me to free them from a tyranny which they do not feel because it does not exist. They have asked me for railways, houses, drains, bridges, water, light and roads. In that year the fascists won more than 65 percent of the vote in national elections.

Mussolinis absolute hold on power was made clear on Jan. 3, 1925, when he said: I and I alone assume the political, moral and historic responsibility for everything that has happened. Italy wants peace and quiet, work and calm. I will give these things with love if possible and with force if necessary.

As the editor, successively, of two newspapers in Milan and with a talent for populist polemic Mussolini had skillfully used the press for his own ends. Now he made sure nobody else would follow his example. Within a few years most of Italys newspapers were suppressed or put under party control. Some smaller newspapers claiming to be independent were still tolerated to give the appearance of freedom of opinion but they were a fig leaf to cover the end of press freedom. Without any effective challenge Mussolinis megalomania flourished. The crowds who gathered for his speeches cried Duce, Duce, Duce! We are yours to the end.

None of the ministers, officials and party secretaries around him were safe from his caprice. He was always right and anyone who contradicted him was fired. Mussolini was, simultaneously, prime minister, foreign minister, minister of the interior, commander in chief of the militia, and minister for the whole military, army, navy, and air force.

Some smaller newspapers claiming to be independent were still tolerated to give the appearance of freedom of opinion but they were a fig leaf to cover the end of press freedom.

These flagrant excesses of the founder of European fascism were later to seem buffoonish against the cold-blooded terror machine that Adolf Hitler built, just as rapidly, in Germany. But there was nothing comical about the 1920s for Italians: they had succumbed very readily to a maniac, and a maniac who understood that the state should control all propaganda (which is, after all, an Italian word) down to details such as decreeing that the national tennis team should wear black shirts.

In Germany the man who would go down in history as the evil genius of alternative facts, Joseph Goebbels, was appointed Minister for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda on March 14, 1933little more than a month after Hitler came to power in Berlin.

Goebbels said he wanted a ministry that was National Socialist [Nazi] by birth.

To staff it he was smart enough to tap into one of the most corrosive influences on the national mood at the time: a grudge, widely held, that Germanys descent into economic chaos had left many of the countrys best educated young people out of well-paid government jobs. From this group Goebbels recruited party zealots who were notably younger and smarter than other Nazi officialshe specified that he wanted those who displayed ardor, enthusiasm, untarnished idealism. (Watching the instant classic encounter between CNNs Jake Tapper and Trumps senior adviser for policy, Stephen Miller, suggests that Miller would have been a perfect recruit.)

Goebbels priority was to exert immediate control of the pressthe press, he instructed his staff, had to be a piano, so to speak, in the hands of the government. Germanys newspapers had been messengers of decay that were harmful to the beliefs, customs and national pride of good Germans.

Within a year all of Goebbels goals were achieved. Three previously independent news services were merged into one state-directed national news agency, the German News Service. All journalism was subjected to the policy of Gleichschaltungmeaning that they had to toe the party line on all issues.

A piano, so to speak, in the hands of the government.
Joseph Gobbels on the press

Previously newspaper publishers had been the legal entity responsible for everything that was published. Goebbels issued the Editor Statute that made editors equally accountable and any editor who resisted Gleichschaltung could be removed and, if particularly recalcitrant, would be sent to a concentration camp.

However, as had Mussolini, Goebbels recognized that the German press should be left with a fig leaf of apparent independence. One great liberal newspaper that happened to have an international following, the Frankfurter Zeitung, was allowed to remain publishing until 1943. Its editors grew expert at a kind of coded reporting with a semblance of neutrality that allowed experienced readers to sense what was really going on.

Two new and growingly important news outlets, radio and cinema newsreels, were put totally under Goebbels control: We make no bones about it, he said, the radio belongs to us, to no one else! And we will place the radio at the service of our idea, and no other idea shall be expressed through it.

The collapse of media independence was rapid and complete. But, as with all historical comparisons, this one can be pushed either too far or too little. Plainly America in 2018 is not the Europe of the 1930s and liberal paranoia in itself is not a sound basis for assessing just how dangerous an assault on journalism may turn out to be.

In 1933 Hitler was at the threshold of creating the instruments of a terror state. We are nowhere near that point. But what is striking now is how friendless the press was. Nobody fought the Goebbels takeover. Mussolini had identified and seized the same opportunity, finding it easy to issue edicts that closed down critical newspapers on the grounds of sedition.

This might seem astonishing in a country like Germany that had one of Europes most deeply rooted intelligentsias. But the universities were quiescent, the bourgeoisie, the aristocracy and the barons of industry were all tired of the Weimar Republics violent polarization between the fascists and the communists and for them press freedom was secondary to personal interests like jobs and, for the industrialists, to the fortunes to be made from re-armament.

Of course Trump has little if any grasp of European history and probably only the vaguest idea of who Goebbels was but his use of tweets reflects one of Goebbels basic tenets about propaganda: Berlin needs sensations as a fish needs water. Any political propaganda that fails to recognize that will miss its target.

So it happens that when it comes to news management Trump has pulled off something that Goebbels would applaud. He has made himself the Great Dictator of the news cycle. To do this he didnt need to knowingly emulate anyone in the propaganda arts because he is directed by his two dominant personal traits: narcissism and paranoia.

Almost every event is refracted through his own response to it, its media lifespan no longer than can be held in his own gnat-like attention span. His tweets are so bizarre, unhinged and frequent that they effectively confuse and distract much of the competing daily coverage. What seems aberrant at 6 p.m. suddenly seems the new normal by 7 p.m. (As Ron Rosenbaum powerfully demonstrates writing in the Los Angeles Review of Books, getting people to readily accept the aberrant as normal was one of Hitlers most effective early tactics.)

He has made himself the Great Dictator of the news cycle. To do this he didnt need to knowingly emulate anyone in the propaganda arts because he is directed by his two dominant personal traits: narcissism and paranoia.

And when Trump faces a news narrative that he cant derail, like the Mueller investigation, he sees it as a violation of his own powers, as he imagines them to be rather than as they really exist under the constitution.

Mussolini, very early in his rule, did the same thing, equating himself with the nation and regarding any insult to him as an insult to Italy. In Trumps mind it his base that exclusively represents the nationa belief constantly reinforced by Fox News for whom that base is a ratings gold mine. Trump and his lackeys on Fox have succeeded in equating respect for the kind of truth-telling that is built on learning and the ability to marshal facts with a simple demographic: its the exclusive province of metropolitan elites.

This tactic is based, at least in part, on a condition described by Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist. He calls it cognitive ease in which humans tend to avoid facts that are uncomfortable or require work to understand.

Goebbels understood that the reinforcement of prejudice was an intoxicating weapon of propaganda. Fed the right message, aggrieved and resentful minorities could be made to coalesce into a critical mass of activists. The Trump base has been built on this principle, and feels grateful to be led by such a man with whom they readily identify, even though his real interests (personal enrichment) are the opposite of theirs.

But perhaps the weirdest side of Trumps perception of his role and office is that in his mind his fate and that of the mainstream media are locked together in a life or death embrace. This is new. No demagogue in recent history has seen the effectiveness of his role being interdependent with a force that for most of the time he purports to despise.

Consider how he framed this belief when Michael Schmidt of The New York Times recorded one of the most bizarre interviews with him in the Grill Room of his West Palm Beach golf club during the holidays:

Were going to win another four years for a lot of reasons, most importantly because our country is starting to do well again and were being respected again. But another reason that Im going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if Im not there because without me their ratings are going down the tubes. Without me, The New York Times will indeed be not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times. So they basically have to let me win. And eventually probably six months before the election theyll be loving me because theyre saying, Please, please, dont lose Donald Trump.

Most of the rest of that interview was delusional drivel that provided an alarming insight into his mental processesin fact, it served as a kind of impromptu warm-up for the revelations of Michael Wolffs book, a kind of journalistic bomb cyclone.

What Wolff delivered between the covers of a book was an explosive concentration of reporting that isnt achievable through the daily news cycle. His method is really no different than that used by Bob Woodward in his books, notably on the origins of the Iraq war, where whole scenes are reconstructed with dialog without attribution, but carry the ring of authenticity. The difference in public impact is that Woodward was reporting after the event whereas Wolff delivers as, so to speak, the crime is still in progress.

Some sniffy journalists, David Brooks surprisingly among them, have complained that Wolff doesnt operate according to their understanding of journalistic standards. Well, for one thing he doesnt have the resources of a paper to support him. And he also demonstrates another vital point about the scope of journalism: sometimes the force of one is equal to the force of hundreds. At this moment we need both kinds of consequential reporting, the collective effort of a newsroom and the disruptive brilliance of the loner.

Calling out the lies hasnt stopped Trump. His motives may differ from those of Mussolini and Hitler. Hes not ideological. In his case autocratic instincts come as a psychological motor in the pursuit of greed and the protection of his unbridled and ludicrous ego. The lack of ideology doesnt make him any less dangerous, though.

Trump has no time for scruples. With his lawyers unable to kill Wolffs book (can book burning be far off in his mind?) he once again threatened to ramp up the libel laws to prevent the defamation of people like him. Hes trying to block the merger of AT&T and Time Warner in the hope that Time Warner will be forced to divest itself of his bte noir, CNN, hoping that someone more sympathetic to him will take it over, although Rupert Murdoch, the obvious candidate, says hes not interested, and he has been clearly looking for ways to punish Jeff Bezos for his re-arming of The Washington Post in changes to the tax code that would hit Amazon.

No demagogue in recent history has seen the effectiveness of his role being interdependent with a force that for most of the time he purports to despise.

All this should be very alarming, but Trump is operating in a worryingly permissive arena. There isnt, it seems, a stable public standard of truth in todays America. This is a culture where scientific truths are dismissed if inconvenient and ignorance is nourished. (Forty-three percent of Republicans believe that climate change is not happening.) One of the foundations of secular Western polities is that truth can be sustained only by honesty in language, that language must be used to interrogate information critically, no matter what its source.

In this struggle journalism is our last dependable line of defense. Its no exaggeration to say that the health, security, and integrity of the republic is at stake. History is an unforgiving judge and, just as the history of Europe in the 1920s and 30s reveals shameful failures in democratic institutions Americas current crisis will be judged by how effectively, or otherwise, the institutions designed to protect democracy worked.

No institution can achieve this without being able to operate on a generally agreed foundation of facts, of which the single most consequential fact is that the president is patently unfit for office. The second is that he is being kept in office by the obsequious Republican leadership who remain supine even after the outrage of the shithole outburst.

Principal among these are toadies like Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina who, rather than pursue the investigation of Trump would rather pursue the whistleblower, the British former spy Christopher Steele. Other Republicans are calling for Muellers investigation to be purgedusing a term that Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin all employed to protect themselves. Then there is Ayn Rands posthumous wrecking ball, House Speaker Paul Ryan, who delivered a groveling encomium when Trump signed the so-called tax reform bill, thanking him for exquisite presidential leadership.

There is a word for people like these. Its a word that needs to be revived from earlier use: Quisling. It was first used as a general pejorative early in 1933 as Hitler came to power, identifying a Norwegian fascist named Vidkun Quisling who modeled his party on the Nazis and, when the Nazis invaded Norway in 1940, urged collaboration with them.

As is so often the case it was Winston Churchill who gave it a permanent meaning when, in 1941, he said: A vile race of Quislingsto use a new word which will carry the scorn of mankind down the centuriesis hired to fawn upon the conqueror, to collaborate in his designs and to enforce his rule upon their fellow countrymen while groveling low themselves.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/trumps-war-on-the-press-follows-the-mussolini-and-hitler-playbook

Somebody Please Explain the Morning-After Pill to Male TV Writers

One of lifes more enduring mysteries is how an astonishingly small percentage of television writers understand the female reproductive system.

Black Mirrors fourth season hit Netflix last week, entertaining audiences with mini-movie-length meditations on all of the ways the tech-driven future will kill our bodies and souls.

This season is special. All six episodes feature a female lead, since women seem to be a newly-discovered demographic in entertainment.

But despite the deliberate effort to produce a show that is less pale and less male than most, one episode in particular has some women and public-health advocates rankled. (If you care about spoilers, now would be a good time to stop reading.)

Episode 2, entitled Arkangel, features a mother named Marie, played by Rosemarie DeWitt, who has a chip installed in her young daughters head that allows her to track the little girls movements and vitals. Complications arise as Sara matures, and boil over when Sara becomes sexually active as a teenager. In the scene that serves as the linchpin to the episodes bloody climax, Marie discovers, through her app companion to her daughters tracking chip, that the girl is pregnant. She drives to a drug store in the middle of the night and obtains Emergency Contraception, which she grinds up and casually adds to her daughters smoothie the next morning. Sara becomes nauseous at school, and the nurse informs her that her illness is due to the emergency contraception she took to end her pregnancy.

Black Mirror is a fictional show set in an imagined future, but none of the details of Saras pregnancy or drugging make any biological sense.

Pregnancy doesn't happen right after you have sex, explains Elizabeth Clark, Planned Parenthood Federation of Americas Director of Health Media.

And emergency contraception doesnt cause a morning-after abortion. Sperm can actually live inside someone's body for up to six days after sex, waiting for an egg to show up to be fertilized, Clark adds. The morning-after pill works by temporarily stopping ovulation so the ovary doesn't release an egg.

Emergency contraception wont work if pregnancy has already occurred and cant interfere with a pregnancy that already exists.

Further, the drug is most effective the sooner it is taken after unprotected sex, thus its availability over the counter is helpful to women who dont want to waste precious hours for a doctors permission. It doesnt make any sense, even in the world of Black Mirror, for Marie to hold the pills overnight and casually drop them in her daughters smoothie the next morning; that diminishes the drugs effectiveness.

Does it matter if nobody in the team behind ArkangelBlack Mirror creator and writer Charlie Brooker, episode director Jodie Foster, star Rosemarie DeWitt, the rest of the cast and crew and production teamcould pass a detailed exam on how pregnancy works? Of course not. But whats unfortunate about this particular mass flub is that their misconception mirrors the misconception contraception opponents rely on to justify restricting womens access to reproductive options.

Contraception opponents like the Catholic Church, the March for Life, Susan B. Anthonys List (a group that aims to elect anti-abortion politicians, a sort of Bizarro World EMILYs List), and others use emergency contraception and the abortion pill interchangeably, and by design. Belief that life begins at the moment of conception and not the moment of implantation means that anything that might deliberately interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus is the same thing as murder.

Conflation of emergency contraception and the abortion pilltwo very different medicationsreinforces that belief. Im not sure thats what director Jodie Foster would have intended.

Black Mirror is far from the first show to get it wrong. Back in 2011, The Walking Dead flubbed a morning-after pill plotline in a nearly identical way. When audiences pointed out the flaw, the shows creator Glenn Mazzara issued a flippant dismissal of their concerns.

We exercised our artistic creative license to explore a storyline with one of our characters, not to make any pro-life or pro-choice political statement, he said. We sincerely hope that people are not turning to the fictional world of 'The Walking Dead' for accurate medical information.

Seven years later, TV writers are making the same mistake, Donald Trump is president, and the Department of Health and Human Services is stacked with people who believe that myth. But sure, its just television.

Film and television have a unique opportunity to portray sexual and reproductive health care in medically accurate and nonjudgmental ways for millions of viewers, PPFAs Elizabeth Clark adds. With access to health care and sex education under constant attack, its more important than ever for us to see accurate storylines when it comes to contraception, abortion, and other sexual health issuesas well as a whole range of peoples authentic experiences.

Netflix and Black Mirror have not returned a request for comment.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/somebody-please-explain-the-morning-after-pill-to-male-tv-writers

I Made These Comics To Compare Chinese Culture With Western Culture Through Everyday Life

My name is Siyu. I was born and raised in Beijing, and I’ve spent last 10 years traveling, studying and working abroad in the US, UK, and France. Many people that I met were curious about China, but their impressions of China would end up with words like ‘communist,’ ‘pollution’ and ‘no Facebook.’ While many facts are true, the contemporary, living and multifaceted Chinese life is rarely heard of.

I started “tiny eyes” comics a year ago in the hope of sharing Chinese culture through everyday life, To me, learning about other cultures has always been a fun experience, and I want to pass this feeling to people who are curious about China. In lots of my comics, I compare Chinese culture to western culture. Through comparison, we realise how differently we act in front of the same situation and how we tend to think in a certain way instead of another. In the end, every culture is “weird” in its way, but it’s also the weirdness that makes it interesting.

I post regularly every week, and I share slices of my personal life and experience through Instagram. I hope you enjoy!

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I’ve experienced student dormitories in three countries: In the U.K. I have my own private room with shared public space; In the U.S. I shared my dorm with one roommate; In China, I used to live with 5 girls in the same room. This lack of privacy must be shocking for some of you, but in a country with 1.3 billion population, space is always a problem. While there are…

I’ve experienced student dormitories in three countries: In the U.K. I have my own private room with shared public space; In the U.S. I shared my dorm with one roommate; In China, I used to live with 5 girls in the same room. This lack of privacy must be shocking for some of you, but in a country with 1.3 billion population, space is always a problem. While there are many inconvenience not having enough private space, on the bright side, sharing a room with someone also makes you learn quite a deal about communication, responsibilities and tolerance.

Maybe you have heard that Chinese eat cats. A few horrible people in some obscure places maybe, but the majority, NO!!

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In China, people don’t say anything after someone sneezes.

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It’s hard for Chinese to directly express their love to their families and friends. Instead of saying love, we show care to the health of people we love, ask them if everything goes well, and buy nice things to make their life more comfortable. In history, Confucius enforced social orders by putting people in different relations/obligations, but the expression of personal feelings was never encouraged. Emotions need to be under…

It’s hard for Chinese to directly express their love to their families and friends. Instead of saying love, we show care to the health of people we love, ask them if everything goes well, and buy nice things to make their life more comfortable. In history, Confucius enforced social orders by putting people in different relations/obligations, but the expression of personal feelings was never encouraged. Emotions need to be under control. How do you show people that you care about them?

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It takes me sometime to get used to making constant eye contact when talking to people. Traditionally, Chinese people tend to avoid direct eye contact when talking to each other, which is a way to show respect and obedience, but in lots of western cultures, especially in English-speaking countries, avoiding eye contact signifies hesitation and dishonesty. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

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Beauty = Thin. “Gaining weight†brings absolute horror for many Chinese girls, even though most of them are already considered thin in other cultures. I’ve seen girls who eat only one apple a day and who drink special tea (which makes you go to toilet 20 times a day) in order to lose weight in a very short time. Movie stars and super models are pushing this aesthetic to its…

Beauty = Thin. “Gaining weight†brings absolute horror for many Chinese girls, even though most of them are already considered thin in other cultures. I’ve seen girls who eat only one apple a day and who drink special tea (which makes you go to toilet 20 times a day) in order to lose weight in a very short time. Movie stars and super models are pushing this aesthetic to its extreme through mass media. When will we be able to simple enjoy being who we are?

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We also have spoons, people!

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Can you name a classic Chinese design or a brand? Probably difficult. But have you bought anything “Made in China� Very likely yes. Chinese products are often associated with the word “cheap†and not high quality, sadly. Many aspiring local designers have been trying to create original and valuable products, but problem such as the lack of copyright protection has complicated the process. Still a long way to go.

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Chinese people love their food, they spend lots of time savouring and enjoying their meals. Food is not just “fuel†for the body, but a pleasure, an art, and a way of socialising. If you want to make friends, go eat. If you want to close a business deal, go eat. If you want to pursue a romantic relationship, go eat. Since ancient times, food has been considered priority in…

Chinese people love their food, they spend lots of time savouring and enjoying their meals. Food is not just “fuel†for the body, but a pleasure, an art, and a way of socialising. If you want to make friends, go eat. If you want to close a business deal, go eat. If you want to pursue a romantic relationship, go eat. Since ancient times, food has been considered priority in Chinese culture. The government’s goal was to make sure that each person is taken care of and “has enough to eatâ€. From another angle, it also suggests the realistic character of Chinese: food goes before ideas, and this life is more important than after life.

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Chinese have trouble taking compliments from other people, because they are raised to be humble, to be self-reflective, and to not stand out from the crowd. So when someone notices you and makes a compliment, you tend to lose the inner balance and get nervous very quickly.

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eople have less trouble naming Chinese political figures than naming great Chinese artists and scientists, who have also played a great role in shaping Chinese culture. Why? They don’t learn much about it in school; they don’t see them in the media often; and in China we lack initiatives and channels to communicate to the outside word.

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There’s a Chinese saying “三æ€è€ŒåŽè¡Œâ€, which means to think twice before taking actions. In history, Chinese value highly reflection and past experience, but acting cautious and staying wise didn’t save the people from the arrival of the early western explorers who sailed into the unknown and took chances at the risk of their lives. China was forced to take actions in its modern history, often times too fast in exchange…

There’s a Chinese saying “三æ€è€ŒåŽè¡Œâ€, which means to think twice before taking actions. In history, Chinese value highly reflection and past experience, but acting cautious and staying wise didn’t save the people from the arrival of the early western explorers who sailed into the unknown and took chances at the risk of their lives. China was forced to take actions in its modern history, often times too fast in exchange for development. While too much reflection on the past slows down the process of change and innovation, too much action without thinking results in waste of resources and irreversible consequences. It’s time for thinkers and doers to meet and learn from each other in this increasingly connected world. It’s happening.

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In China, it’s not rare to see young people choosing to live with their parents after getting out of college. For one thing, it’s more economical than renting a house on your own. And for another, Chinese are very family oriented, so getting support from your family it’s expected in the social norm. In the the United States, however, people value independence so much that it’s embarrassing to have things…

In China, it’s not rare to see young people choosing to live with their parents after getting out of college. For one thing, it’s more economical than renting a house on your own. And for another, Chinese are very family oriented, so getting support from your family it’s expected in the social norm. In the the United States, however, people value independence so much that it’s embarrassing to have things given to you while you have the ability to live on your own.

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In Chinese schools, smoking is strictly prohibited and any student who smoke is considered “badâ€. It’s not just in the sense of “bad for healthâ€, but also considered a symbol for moral degradation. In France, I notice that there are lots of teenagers who smoke, and it’s actually considered “cool†among their friends. There’s even peer pressure to learn how to smoke. Smoking is also a normal way of socializing…

In Chinese schools, smoking is strictly prohibited and any student who smoke is considered “badâ€. It’s not just in the sense of “bad for healthâ€, but also considered a symbol for moral degradation. In France, I notice that there are lots of teenagers who smoke, and it’s actually considered “cool†among their friends. There’s even peer pressure to learn how to smoke. Smoking is also a normal way of socializing so there isn’t any negative moral aspect associated with it.

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Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/comics-chinese-western-culture-comparison-tinyeyescomics/

Friends Watch 14-Yr-Old Get Raped in Basement & Stay Silent5 Months Later, Her Parents Discover the Truth

P.J. was only 14 years old when she met the man who would rape her.

Growing up in a military family, P.J.’s parents weren’t typically the kind to let their kids hang out with just anybody. But when the teen’s friends invited her to hang out with a military boy who was home for Christmas leave, they were surprisingly fine with it.

The friends all gathered in P.J.’s house, and in her parents’ basement, with several witnesses, P.J. was raped. Every one of them remained silent about what happened.

It wasn’t until five months later that P.J. found out that she was pregnant. The truth about what had happened in their basement finally came out when she told her parents.

They were shocked and furious. They felt guilty, and P.J.’s mother, Angela, admittedly considered taking her daughter to get an abortion.

“I really thought I would take her to terminate the pregnancy,” Angela explains. “I was pro-life but with exceptions. I didn’t want to do that, but I was always told it was the thing to do in the case of forcible rape. My husband, however, said he couldn’t have anything to do with the death of a child. That it was still a human life. Everywhere we went, friends and religious people were very adamant that we should terminate.”

Wrestling with the decision that weighed heavy on her heart, Angela was at a loss of how to best care for her daughter. Many of the people closest to her were encouraging her to help P.J. terminate the pregnancy, but her husband, Doug, was encouraging the opposite. She was reminded of her own experience with abortion.

“In college, I got pregnant and I went to a health clinic. I was 24 weeks, and I had an abortion. My mother forced me to because she didn’t want to be embarrassed by my poor choices. We never spoke about it again. I have never gotten over it.”

Like any parent, Angela wanted better for her daughter than what she had. She didn’t want P.J. to suffer from

the same guilt and regret that she was forced to experience every day of her life.

A friend called Angela and referred her to Trisha, who runs a Birth Right. She begged her to take P.J. there before they made any decisions.

“Trisha was the first person to say it was going to be okay. She was the first person who actually encouraged us to keep [the baby]. As a woman, even if you’re pro-life, you’re told there’s nothing worse you can do to a rape victim [than tell her to keep her baby]. I’ve been told by everyone, especially the media, that abortion is what you do. Trish gave us Rebecca Kiessling’s pamphlet. We prayed about it and it was the best thing we had ever done. After we left Birth Right, P.J. cried—not because she was upset—but she said she felt relieved and like we were in a safe place. She said she knew Miss Trisha had her best interest at heart. When we heard [the baby’s] heartbeat, it was over for me. This child will be a gift from God. P.J. spent a lot of quiet time reflecting. She had a wisdom I didn’t have. Her strength and wisdom is what got us through.”

As they pressed forward and prepared for baby James to make his grand entrance into the world, P.J.’s family decided to throw a baby shower. After all, this baby was P.J.’s first child and their first grandchild. While the circumstance was unfortunate, the life of this beautiful baby was completely worth celebrating!

P.J. gave birth to her son, James, in the fall of 2011. It was an exciting time full of joy and love, but the legalities of this little baby boy meant a long road ahead for P.J. and her family.

As they moved forward with pressing charges against the man who raped her, they learned some disturbing facts that could severely endanger both P.J. and James.

Where they lived, there were no laws in place to protect women and their children conceived in rape from their rapist. Something that seems so “obvious,” isn’t actually legislation, which is unbelievable. This man was legally allowed to move forward and seek custody and parental rights.

In addition to the lack of protection they were up against, the man who raped P.J. had also previously raped another soldier—a male. He was also in the process of being discharged from the Army for illegal drug use.

The other soldier later recanted his accusation, and the rapist was acquitted of rape. He was convicted of a felony for illegal use of cocaine, but those charges were no punishment for the pain and suffering he put P.J. through.

Eventually, the rapist’s attempts at getting partial custody of James failed.

Today, P.J. is a happy mama who spoils James with love and truth. She attends a women’s Bible study once a week, and she prays with James every day, constantly reminding him that he has always been wanted and loved.

As for their decision not to terminate the pregnancy, Angela couldn’t be more grateful.

“The minute we laid eyes on this child, we didn’t once equate him to the rapist. He’s just as much a victim. He has healed our family in ways we can’t explain. He is the most amazing gift from God. I don’t even know how to put it in words.”

**Names have been changed to protect the victims

Read more: https://faithit.com/teen-raped-parents-basement-told-abort-keeps-baby/

Trump Proposes To Open Nearly All US Waters To Offshore Drilling

In a huge reveal today, the Trump administration said it plans to release the largest number of offshore oil and gas lease sales in US history. If approved, it would permit drilling in almost all US continental-shelf waters, including protected areas in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.

The move rolls back a ban on new offshore drilling off the coasts of Florida and California. It also lifts a ban on drilling put in place by the Obama administration that protected more than 100 million offshore acres along the Arctic and Eastern seaboards.

In total, this means more than a billion acres will be considered for oil and gas production. This includes areas where drilling has been blocked for decades.

The draft identified 47 areas for potential oil and gas production, which industry companies can buy leases for between 2019 and 2024. 

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement the proposal could increase federal revenue by $15 billion. 

Only one of 26 planning areas would be off limits to oil and gas exploration. The plan does not include Alaska’s Bristol Bay, existing marine sanctuaries, or areas around Hawaii and US territories.

Today’s proposal comes after the passing of Congress’ tax bill last month that included a decision to open 1.5 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas drilling. Not only that, but just two weeks ago the Interior Department suspended a study conducted by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine on the safety of offshore oil and gas drilling platforms.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which oversees offshore leasing, promised that the environment would be protected. 

However, current opposition of the proposal cite safety concerns and potential environment impacts like the Deepwater Horizon accident in 2010.

New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan (D) tweeted: “Offshore drilling has caused some of the greatest man-made natural disasters of our time.”

A coalition of more than 60 environmental groups have denounced the plan, saying it would impose “severe and unacceptable harm” to America’s oceans, coastal economies, public health and marine life.

“These ocean waters are not President Trump’s personal playground. They belong to all Americans and the public wants them preserved and protected, not sold off to multinational oil companies,” read a statement sent to IFLScience that was signed by leaders of the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, League of Conservation Voters, and other environmental groups.

More than 140 municipalities have publicly opposed offshore drilling activities in the Atlantic, the environmental group Oceana said in a statement.

Diane Hoskins, campaign director for the group, called the plan “absolutely radical” and “is a clear example of politics over people, ignoring widespread local and state opposition.”

Supporters of the proposal, on the other hand, say it will create jobs and secure the United States as a major energy producer.

US Chamber on Global Energy Institute praised the proposal in a statement, saying it “unlocks the vast potential of American energy and expands [the] ability to export oil and gas to allies around the world.” Continuing the plan will “help cement America’s role as an energy superpower, creating jobs and contributing to [its] economy.”

It should be noted that the new plan does not immediately clear drilling, and finalizing it could take up to 18 months. Challenges are also expected from the courts and congress.

“Nothing is final,” Zinke added today at a news conference. “This is a draft program. The states, local communities and congressional delegations will all have a say” before the proposal becomes final.

The public has 60-days to comment on the proposed program, which is the first of two opportunities for public comment on the plan.

To comment on the proposal, go to the BOEM website. Comments will be accepted July 3 through August 17, 2018.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/environment/trump-proposes-to-open-nearly-all-us-waters-to-offshore-drilling/

31 Days of Happiness Countdown: Carrie Fisher’s dog is in the new ‘Star Wars.’ (Day 13)

Thanks for stopping by for Day 13 of Upworthy’s 31 Days of Happiness Countdown! Each day between Dec. 1 and Dec. 31, we’re sharing stories we hope will bring joy, smiles, and laughter into our lives and yours. It’s been a challenging year for a lot of us, so why not end it on a high note, with a bit of happiness? Check back tomorrow for another installment!

This red carpet stud is Gary Fisher.

Photo by Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images.

If that floppy tongue looks familiar, that’s because Gary was Carrie Fisher’s therapy dog.

She adored him. And she always brought him along for the ride.

Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Wizard World.

Fisher, who lived openly with bipolar disorder and died at age 60 last year, said Gary had always been a soothing presence by her side. “Gary is very devoted to me and that calms me down,” she told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in 2013. “He’s anxious when he’s away from me.”

But Gary, who reportedly now lives with Fisher’s former assistant, is staying in the spotlight. He’s even starring in the new film, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which Fisher filmed before she passed away. And honestly, he looks as cute as can be … for galaxy far, far away standards, at least.

Someone spotted a wrinkly four-legged alien in a sneak-peek image of the new film and asked, “Wait, is that Gary?”

Clair Henry of the “Star Wars” fan site Fantha Tracks tweeted at director Rian Johnson, asking if the “cute little creature” was, in fact, Fisher’s old pup.

Here’s that pic a little bit closer.

Image via Clair Henry/Twitter.

Johnson spotted her tweet and confirmed: Yep, that’s him!

(Granted, it definitely looks like Gary had been through the makeup and prosthetics department.)

Gary, you’re a silver screen star!

Fans are feeling lots of emotions over the latest “Star Wars” film — the last time Fisher’s General Leia Organa will grace cinema screens. For millions, Fisher was more than just a princess all these decades: She was a fighter, fierce friend, and an outspoken advocate for combating the stigma surrounding mental illness. She helped so many people simply be themselves.

It’s wonderful to know that part of her lives on in her best furry little friend.


31 Days of Happiness Countdown: DAY 1 / DAY 2 / DAY 3 / DAY 4 / DAY 5 / DAY 6 / DAY 7 / DAY 8 / DAY 9 / DAY 10 / DAY 11 / DAY 12 / [DAY 13] / DAY 14 / DAY 15 / DAY 16 / DAY 17 / DAY 18 / DAY 19 / DAY 20 / DAY 21 / DAY 22 / DAY 23 / DAY 24 / DAY 25 / DAY 26 / DAY 27 / DAY 28 / DAY 29 / DAY 30 / DAY 31

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/31-days-of-happiness-countdown-carrie-fisher-s-dog-is-in-the-new-star-wars-day-13

SERIOUSLY!? City of Seattle’s response to reports about new soda tax proves prog pols FAILED Econ-101

The city of Seattle had a new soda tax kick in on January 1st, and it’s quite a doozy:

Read more: https://twitchy.com/dougp-3137/2018/01/06/seriously-city-of-seattles-response-to-reports-about-new-soda-tax-proves-prog-pols-failed-econ-101/

Spinal-Cord Implants to Numb Pain Emerge as Alternative to Pills

For millions of Americans suffering from debilitating nerve pain, a once-overlooked option has emerged as an alternative to high doses of opioids: implanted medical devices using electricity to counteract pain signals the same way noise-canceling headphones work against sound. 

The approach, called neuromodulation, has been a godsend for Linda Landy, who was a 42-year-old runner when a foot surgery went awry in 2008. She was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome, a condition dubbed the suicide disease by doctors: The pain is so unrelenting that many people take their own lives.

Linda Landy and family

Last November, Landy underwent surgery to get an Abbott Laboratories device that stimulates the dorsal root ganglion, a spot in the spine that was the pain conduit for her damaged nerves. A year after getting her implant, called DRG, she’s cut back drastically on pain pills.

“The DRG doesn’t take the pain completely away, but it changes it into something I can live with,” said Landy, a mother of three in Fort Worth, Texas. She’s now now able to walk again and travel by plane without using a wheelchair. “It sounds minor, but it’s really huge.”

Crackdown on Opioids

Recent innovations from global device makers like Abbott to smaller specialists such as Nevro Corp. made the implants more powerful and effective. Combined with a national crackdown on narcotics and wanton pain pill prescriptions, they are spurring demand for implants.

The market may double to $4 billion in 10 years, up from about $1.8 billion in the U.S. and $500 million in Europe today, according to health-care research firm Decisions Resources Group.

“There was a big stigma around this when it first came out,” said Paul Desormeaux, a Decisions Resources analyst in Toronto. “The idea of sending an electrical signal through your nervous system was a little daunting, but as clinical data has come out and physicians have been able to prove its safety, there has been a big change in the general attitude.”

Read More: Millions Face Pain, Withdrawal as Opioid Prescriptions Plummet

At least 50 million adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only a fraction of them would benefit from spinal-cord stimulation — about 3.6 million, according to Decisions Resources — but those are patients who are often given the highest doses of narcotics. They include people with nerve damage stemming from conditions like diabetic neuropathy and shingles, as well as surgeries.

“There is no question we are reducing the risk of opioid dependence by implanting these devices,” said Timothy Deer, president of the Spine and Nerve Centers of the Virginias in Charleston, West Virginia, a hotbed of the opioid epidemic. “If we get someone before they are placed on opioids, 95 percent of the time we can reduce their need to ever go on them.”

Studies show spinal-cord stimulators can reduce use of powerful pain drugs by 60 percent or more, said Deer, a clinical professor of anesthesiology.

Read More: Tangled Incentives Push Drugmakers Away From an Opioid Solution

Technology breakthroughs that are just now reaching patients came from a better understanding of how pain signals are transmitted within the spinal cord, the main thoroughfare between the command center in the brain and the body.

For some chronic pain patients, the spinal cord runs too efficiently, speeding signs of distress. Stimulators send their own pulses of electrical activity to offset or interrupt the pain zinging along the nerve fibers. They have been available for more than three decades, but until recently their invasive nature, potential safety risks and cost limited demand.

Market Leader Abbott

Illinois-based Abbott, with its $29 billion acquisition of St. Jude Medical this year, took the market lead with advances that allow it to target specific nerves and tailor the treatment. Nevro, of Redwood City, California, has rolled out improvement to its Senza system, a best-in-class approach that is safe while getting an MRI and operates without the tingling that often accompanies spinal-cord stimulation.

In the latest devices, which cost $30,000 or more, codes that are running the electrical pulses are more sophisticated. The frequency, rate and amplitude can be adjusted, often by the patients, which allows personalized therapy. 

The new implants are also smaller: The surgery is generally an outpatient procedure with minimal post-operative pain and a short recovery. They have longer battery life, reducing the need for replacement. And patients can try out a non-invasive version of the equipment before getting a permanent implant.

“This is really a defining moment in what we can do to impact the lives of people who suffer from chronic pain,” said Allen Burton, Abbott’s medical director of neuromodulation. “We can dampen the chronic pain signal and give patients their lives back.”

Medtronic Plc, which pioneered the technique but ceded the lead in recent years, is now working on next-generation devices. The company recently gained approval for the smallest pain-management implant, Intellis. In development are devices that can detect pain waves and adjust automatically, said Geoff Martha, executive vice president of Medtronic’s restorative therapies group.

“A self-correcting central nervous system — that’s the panacea. That’s the ultimate goal,” Martha said. “It could take a huge bite out of the opioid problem.”

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-26/spinal-cord-implants-to-numb-pain-emerge-as-alternative-to-pills

    Former Coach Star And Longtime Comedian Jerry Van Dyke Dead At 86

    The famed younger brother of Dick Van Dyke and a longtime actor on Coach and other projects, Jerry Van Dyke has died.

    He was 86 years old.

    The longtime showbiz performer (pictured above, left, next to his brother Dick) died on Friday afternoon at his ranch in Arkansas with his wife Shirley by his side, according to TMZ.

    Jerry had been involved in a car accident two years ago, and apparently his health had been deteriorating ever since.

    The younger Van Dyke was a beloved comedian in his day, just like his older brother, and performed stand-up as a young man at military bases all around the world before making his acting debut on The Dick Van Dyke Show.

    He transitioned from that into appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, and eventually worked his way into becoming a regular on The Judy Garland Show.

    Of course, Jerry was best known for his role on Coach. The comedian-turned-actor earned four Emmy nominations for playing assistant coach Luther Van Dam on the show alongside star Craig T. Nelson.

    Related: Val Kilmer Opens Up About Battling Throat Cancer

    Jerry also more recently enjoyed roles on shows like Yes, Dear, and The Middle.

    He is survived by Shirley and their two children.

    Our thoughts and prayers go out to all his friends and loved ones.

    R.I.P.

    [Image via Getty Images.]

    Read more: http://perezhilton.com/2018-01-06-jerry-van-dyke-dead-86-years-old-former-coach-star-comedian-longtime-actor-car-accident