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Prep-School Grads Accused of Running Drug Ring

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 20:23

Welcome to high school. Two prep-school graduates are being accused of establishing a teen drug ring in the affluent Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia. On Monday, prosecutors filed charges against Neil Scott, 25, and Timothy Brooks, 18, the leaders of the so-called drug monopoly.

The two former students of the Haverford School, a $35,000-a-year all-boys preparatory school in Pennsylvania, allegedly used their lacrosse-team connections to establish a five-school drug enterprise, selling ecstasy, marijuana, cocaine and hash oil to students, the Associated Press reports. Dubbed the “Main Line Take Over Project,” the ring allegedly had marijuana shipped from California and recruited local teens to sell the drugs.

Authorities seized about 3.6 kg (8 lb.) of marijuana, a loaded assault weapon, two guns, over $11,000 and equipment to manufacture hash oil. Scott reportedly began selling weed when he returned to the area from San Diego last year. He told police a connection from California supplied the pot that he said would “sell very well on the Main Line because everyone between 15 and 55 loves good weed.”


Categories: Magazines

The Game of Thrones Sex Scene Can’t Be Both Rape and Not Rape

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 19:43
MoreRECAP: Game of Thrones Watch: History LessonsRape Culture Is Real


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Sunday night on Game of Thrones, Jaime forced himself on Cersei. This was problematic for a number of reasons: they’re siblings; they were having sex next to their son’s dead body; and the said dead son was the product of their incest. But the biggest problem with that scene was that Jaime raped Cersei … and some of the people on the Game of Thrones cast and crew who have been interviewed about the episode don’t seem to acknowledge it as such.

Margaret Lyons over at Vulture has already done a great job of explaining why, exactly, that scene was rape. (Cersei says “No” repeatedly, to which Jaime replies, “I don’t care.”) In the piece, Lyons quotes two of the Game of Thrones folks hedging against actually calling the assault rape.

Director Alex Graves told Alan Sepinwall at HitFix: “It becomes consensual by the end.”

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, the actor who plays Jaime, told the Daily Beast: “There are moments where [Cersei] gives in, and moments where she pushes him away. But it’s not pretty.” When asked if Cersei was raped, he answered, “Yes and no.”

The scene was enough to make everyone squirm, and it raises questions like, why did the script writers decide to diverge from the book (in which the sex was consensual — but still creepy for all the reasons listed above)? And will they handle the Cersei’s reaction to the incident with nuance and sensitivity? We might even ask why we keep seeing so much rape on TV. (I have my own theories.)

But first, we ought to take a moment to recognize that this incident isn’t a “gray area.” If a woman or man does not consent to a sexual act, and the other person forces him or her to continue, it’s rape. An incident cannot be both rape and “not rape.” There is no “yes and no” about it. A rape cannot “become consensual at the end.” You do not convince someone over the course of the act that they actually consented.

A lot of people — especially a lot of young people — watch Game of Thrones, and I imagine many of them read interviews with people like Graves and Coster-Waldau after the show. So it’s important that public figures like these should be conscious about how they respond to and describe these issues. How will victims of sexual assault be affected when a director and an actor in one of television’s most popular shows question whether no really means no?

I imagine that Graves and Coster-Waldau’s interpretations of the scene are linked to the common misconception that a person cannot be raped by his or her significant other. Jaime and Cersei are (however twisted it might be) a couple, and therefore some might falsely assume that all their sex must be consensual. But it’s not. That was rape. And I believe it’s important to acknowledge that, otherwise we risk delegitimizing assault.

To his credit, George R.R. Martin — who wrote the Song of Ice and Fire books upon which the Game of Thrones TV series is based — responded to fans’ concerns on Monday in the comments section of his own blog (Martin was not involved in writing the script for this episode):

In the novels, Jaime is not present at Joffrey’s death, and indeed, Cersei has been fearful that he is dead himself, that she has lost both the son and the father/ lover/ brother. And then suddenly Jaime is there before her. Maimed and changed, but Jaime nonetheless. Though the time and place is wildly inappropriate and Cersei is fearful of discovery, she is as hungry for him as he is for her.

The whole dynamic is different in the show, where Jaime has been back for weeks at the least, maybe longer, and he and Cersei have been in each other’s company on numerous occasions, often quarreling. The setting is the same, but neither character is in the same place as in the books, which may be why Dan & David played the sept out differently. But that’s just my surmise; we never discussed this scene, to the best of my recollection.

Also, I was writing the scene from Jaime’s POV, so the reader is inside his head, hearing his thoughts. On the TV show, the camera is necessarily external. You don’t know what anyone is thinking or feeling, just what they are saying and doing.

If the show had retained some of Cersei’s dialogue from the books, it might have left a somewhat different impression — but that dialogue was very much shaped by the circumstances of the books, delivered by a woman who is seeing her lover again for the first time after a long while apart during which she feared he was dead. I am not sure it would have worked with the new timeline.

That’s really all I can say on this issue. The scene was always intended to be disturbing… but I do regret if it has disturbed people for the wrong reasons.

Though Martin never explicitly calls the scene rape, he does express regret that the way it was presented on screen has upset people, which is a step in the right direction.

Categories: Magazines

Oklahoma Supreme Court Halts Execution of 2 Inmates

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 19:39

Oklahoma’s Supreme Court temporarily suspended the executions of two death row prisoners who questioned the source and safety of the state’s lethal injection drugs. On Monday, the court issued stays of execution for Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner, both of whom were convicted of murder in the late 1990s and were set to die on April 22 and April 29, respectively.

The inmates’ lawyers filed a joint request for a stay of execution on Monday because neither inmate had received “certifications, testing data, medical opinions or other evidence to support the state’s insistence that these drugs are safe, or to prove they were acquired legally,” the Associated Press reports.

On Monday, the court decided 5-4 to suspend those executions. “The ‘rule of necessity’ now demands that we step forward,” the Supreme Court’s majority opinion says. “We can deny jurisdiction, or we can leave the appellants with no access to the courts for resolution of their ‘grave’ constitutional claims.”

It continues, “As uncomfortable as this matter makes us, we refuse to violate our oaths of office and to leave the appellants with no access to the courts, their constitutionally guaranteed measure.”

The case is one of many surrounding the secrecy states have maintained surrounding the drugs they use during lethal injections. The decision to stay the executions comes just one month after a district judge struck down the state’s execution law, saying that keeping inmates from seeking information about the drugs used in injections violated the state constitution. Later in March, the state adjusted the combination of drugs used in executions, and informed the two inmates that they would be executed using a combination of five drugs that had never been used in the state. The lawyers sprung into action following that decision, with Monday’s stay being the end result of an on-going legal battle.

The inmates’ lawyers issued a statement Monday thanking the state’s supreme court. “With today’s stay, the Oklahoma supreme court will be able to fully adjudicate the serious constitutional issues about the extreme secrecy surrounding lethal injection procedures in our state,” the inmates’ attorneys Susanna Gattoni and Seth Day wrote, according to the Guardian.


Categories: Magazines

The Americans Who Question The Big Bang Theory and Other Fascinating News on the Web

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 19:21

1. The Big Theory Bang MoreFrench IT Employees Win Right to Unplug after Work and Other Fascinating News on the WebWhat to Know about the Heartbleed Web Security Flaw and Other Fascinating News on the WebMen Charged With Toppling Ancient Rock Formation Avoid Jail Time Huffington PostHere's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington PostDancing with the Stars: James Maslow, Meryl Davis & More Get the Party Started People

The closer science is to our bodies, the more we tend to believe it. Only four percent of us question whether smoking causes cancer, eight percent are skeptical about that whole DNA thing, and fifteen percent have doubts about the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Things change as we move away from ourselves: “About 4 in 10 say they are not too confident or outright disbelieve that the earth is warming, mostly a result of man-made heat-trapping gases, that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old or that life on Earth evolved through a process of natural selection, though most were at least somewhat confident in each of those concepts. But a narrow majority — 51 percent — questions the Big Bang theory.”

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+ Americans are also becoming less religious. Is the Internet to blame? OMG.

+ Some new research from Carnegie Mellon suggests that although Millennials are shying away from organized religion, they are not without faith. From Vox: “While only 52 percent of Millennials look to religion for guidance, 62 percent of them say they talk privately to God.” (I didn’t know Millennials talked privately at all…)

2. A Holding Pattern

“We literally watched all of Compton during the times that we were flying, so we could zoom in anywhere within the city of Compton and follow cars and see people.” This was just a test of a mass surveillance system. But it could be coming to a city near you.

+ Quentin Hardy in the NYT: How urban anonymity disappears when all data is tracked.

+ In Kansas City, tracking technology helped police find a highway shooter. Do the upsides of surveillance outweigh the downsides? (You can just answer that silently in your head and your vote will be automatically tallied.)

3. Sunk

“Above all, the conduct of the captain and some crew members is unfathomable from the viewpoint of common sense, and it was like an act of murder that cannot and should not be tolerated.” That’s South Korean President Park Geun-hye commenting on the arrests connected to the sinking of the Sewol ferry last week. Sixty-four bodies have been recovered and there are still more than 230 people missing.

+ Most of the victims are high school students. From Bloomberg: Two Hours Turned School Island Excursion to Horror at Sea

4. Back On Course

Thirty-eight year-old Meb Keflezighi from San Diego won today’s Boston Marathon while Rita Jeptoo came in first in the women’s competition. In some ways, the race was a victory for the whole city of Boston. Buzzfeed has a collection of images from the scene.

+ Artist Ronnie Goodman runs up to fifteen miles a day as trains for the SF marathon. He also lives under the freeway.

5. Internet Famous

Jerome Jarre. King Bach. Jamie Andries. Michelle Phan. NY Magazine takes you inside the weird world of Internet fame. Who did you think teenagers were watching on their phones?

+ Surprise! Your kids are really irritated when you ignore them and fixate on your phone. (I never gave my parents enough credit for being able to ignore me with nothing more than a rotary phone and some genuine disinterest.)

6. Sherpas On Strike

Some Sherpas are considering a strike after Friday’s brutal avalanche, the deadliest in Everest history.

+ “If, say, 1 percent of American college-aged raft guides or ski instructors were dying on the job — the mortality rate of Everest Sherpas — the guiding industry would vanish.” Outside’s Grayson Shaffer on the value of a Sherpa life. And here’s Shaffer’s 2013 piece: The Disposable Man: A Western History of Sherpas on Everest.

+ Who dies (and where) on Earth’s highest mountain?

7. Being There

Kenneth and Helen Felumlee never spent a night apart during their seventy years of marriage. “When Helen Felumlee passed away at the age of 92 Saturday morning, her family knew her husband Kenneth Felumlee, 91, wouldn’t be slow to follow her.”

8. This One Goes to 4-21

Yesterday was April 20, otherwise known as 420, a significant number in cannabis culture. The legend began at my high school. (San Rafael High was also the school attended by the guy who played Warren Coolidge on The White Shadow). A lot has changed since 420 originated in 1971. Pot has gone mainstream and is quickly going legal. And now it’s going high tech. Wired’s Mat Honan on how Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are rushing to cash in on cannabis.

+ MoJo: 24 mind-blowing facts about Marijuana production in America.

+ Village Voice: A day in the life of your friendly neighborhood weed messenger.

9. Meow Nix

In the last decade, scientists have learned a lot about canine cognition. But they’ve learned very little about cats. Apparently, cats are too smart to let themselves be studied.

+ Related: Photos of metal-heads and their cats.

10. The Bottom of the News

It’s hard to believe, but the FBI reports that a 16 year-old survived a flight from California to Hawaii while stowed away in a plane’s wheel well. (And he left his cell phone on during takeoff and landing.)

+ Quartz: Chipotle continues to refine the science of burrito velocity. Velocity I believe, but burrito?

+ The private lives of public bathrooms.

+ How Dodgeball became America’s most demonized sport. We had Dodgeball. Our kids have web comments.

Categories: Magazines

GM’s Recall Troubles Haunt Former Executive’s Run for Congress

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 18:52

If you think things look bad for General Motors now, they looked even worse back in the summer of 2005. Its finances were shaky, its models were unloved and the big carmaker’s future was very much in doubt. So it had a lot riding on the reviews of its newest line of small cars that was supposed to help it shift away from the slowing SUV sales it had relied on for years.

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Which is why the review of the Chevy Cobalt in the New York Times on June 19, 2005 was such good news for the company. The Times called the Cobalt “a good car, if not a great one,” a “creditable competitor” to comparable Toyota and Honda models, and one of several new GM models that were “vastly improved and generally likeable.”

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Sadly, no one in top management read the article, according to current GM officials who are currently scrambling to manage the PR fallout of the belated recall of Cobalts earlier this year. Or at least, say the current officials, no top managers read the sidebar story that ran next to the main review and reported on a troubling phenomenon: intermittent stalling of the Chevy Cobalt and loss of electrical power due to a problem with the ignition system.

GM now claims top managers only learned of the Cobalt’s ignition system problems this year, and only mid- and low-level officials have been punished. But the coverage of the ignition issue in the Times and elsewhere in June 2005 raises uncomfortable questions for GM, and for at least one former official from the time who is seeking public office.

The Times review was highlighted in documents released by the House oversight committee earlier this month, and was referenced in documents released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over Easter weekend. It reported that Chevy was telling dealers that drivers could accidentally cut power to the car’s engine and should be told to lighten the load on their keyrings. It cited one example of the cutoff occurring when the reviewer’s wife was driving the car, and it quoted a reviewer in a small Pennsylvania paper who said the problem happened four times in a week of testing the car.

A week after the Times review, the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote about the problem. And the House oversight committee also published a statement that had been released in June 2005 by a GM spokesman, Alan Adler, acknowledging the ignition problem and saying that dealers and “service advisers” had been told to tell customers to remove items from their keyrings that might be contributing to the shutoff problem.

Apparently only good news made it up the chain to top managers in 2005, however. In comments to the media and GM employees on Oct. 17, 2005, then-CEO Rick Wagoner praised the market success of the Cobalt and other new models, saying “these products have been well-received by the enthusiasts and general press.” Wagoner was forced out as part of GM’s restructuring during the government bailout of the company in 2009 and has largely stayed out of the spotlight since then.

Not all top officials from that time may find it so easy to stay out of the GM recall story as it unfolds, however. Debbie Dingell was GM’s Executive Director of External Affairs and Constituent Relations in 2005, overseeing the company’s marketing strategies, community relations and its relationships with labor, suppliers, dealers, business organizations and constituency groups. She too retired from GM in 2009. But after her husband John Dingell, the long-serving Congressman from Michigan’s 15th district, announced his retirement in February this year, she announced she would run for his seat.

Debbie Dingell declined to answer questions about the 2005 coverage of the ignition shutoff problem. However, she said through a spokeswoman that she knew nothing about the troubles besetting the Cobalts and other small cars when she worked for GM. “Her responsibilities were not related to the engineering and design segment of the business and she was not part of the management group related to or responsible for recall decisions,” says Liz Boyd, Dingell’s spokeswoman. Boyd says Dingell was not aware of the articles in the Times or the Plain Dealer and was not aware of the instructions sent to dealers and service managers regarding the ignition cut-off problem.

GM has named a former federal prosecutor to investigate what the company knew about the problem as it unfolded. Company spokesman Greg Martin said of the 2005 Times story, “It was printed in the paper and we’ll have further information as it becomes available.”

Categories: Magazines

HBO Renews Veep and Silicon Valley

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 18:49

No surprise here: HBO is renewing the two comedies that have been adding a lighter touch to its Game of Thrones-led Sunday night lineup. The premium cable network announced Monday that it was renewing Veep for a fourth season and Silicon Valley for a second, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Silicon Valley—a 30-minute comedy from Office Space creator Mike Judge about a group of wannabe entrepreneursgot 2 million viewers on April 6 when it premiered between the uber-popular Game of Thrones and the critically-acclaimed Veep. That makes it HBO’s biggest comedy launch since Hung in 2009, and even more fans flocked to the show through HBO’s streaming service, HBOGo.

The Julia Louis-Dreyfus vehicle, Veep, premiered to almost 1 million viewers, on par with its season two finale. Both Dreyfus and Tony Hale won Emmys for their performances in the political satire last year.

HBO already renewed two of its other freshman shows, Getting On and Looking. They will join Girls in the 2015 schedule, along with three other new comedies: Togetherness starring Mark Duplass, The Brink starring Jack Black and Tim Robbins and Ballers starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.


Categories: Magazines

What Americans Don’t Know About The Central African Republic

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 18:38

Most Americans know nothing about the Central African Republic. They guess that it must be in the middle of Africa, but that’s about it. When told where it is and the societal chaos and slaughter in CAR, they always ask why it’s not more in the news.

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Although I’ve traveled to much of the world including Africa, I had never been there until this month. The U.S. State Department invited a trio of American religious leaders to travel to the capital city of Bangui to see for ourselves and to talk peace. The three included Roman Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Muslim Imam Mohamed Magid (President of the Islamic Society of North America) and me. Why us? According to TIME Magazine, the religious composition of CAR is 52 percent evangelicals, 29 percent Catholics and 15 percent Muslims.

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We met with our counterparts in CAR, Catherine Samba-Panza (the transitional president of CAR), members of her administration, and representatives of the conflicting military groups. Our meetings were at a closed mosque, the Cathedral, the president’s residence and the home of the U.S. ambassador (although there is no current ambassador since our embassy has been suspended).

It’s not easy to explain what’s been happening. And, not everyone agrees to any explanation. The best chronology begins with a corrupt and failed central government that has been accused of injustice and incompetence. A rebel group called Seleka swept across the country with brutality and established a new government with a new president. The new president didn’t last long. An anti-balaka militia organized for protection and retaliation against the Seleka and have been accused of further brutality. A transitional government has been established, but it is poor, weak and often overwhelmed.

We heard stories that break your heart. Thousands killed, often with machetes. Widespread rape. Destruction of homes, shops and villages. There were 36 mosques in Bangui; now there are seven. One man told us that 13 of his brothers were burned to death the same day. Another told about a hand grenade thrown into a group of people while they prayed.

The National Highway was closed by all the unrest, so trucks and supplies can’t access the country. Villagers have fled into the bush out of fear; their villages are empty, and no crops are being planted. One million people have fled the country or are internally displaced. There is a refugee camp at the little airport that swelled to 100,000.

Seeds for planting are not available; some will be imported from Cameroon, but they are also in short supply and giving priority to their own farmers saying that any surplus will be sold to CAR. There is threat of wide-scale famine. Before all this CAR was one of the poorest nations in the world with people living on less that $2 per day. Current shortages are inflating food prices. In Bangui, the capital of CAR, chickens are selling for $12 each. (To make a comparison: If you earn $50,000 a year in the United States, it would cost you over $800 to buy one chicken for your family.)

We were in Africa on the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the genocide in Rwanda. There were repeated testimonies of foreign nations apologizing for not going to Rwanda and stopping the horrors before they turned into genocide. We need to take our own apologies and advice to do more in the Central African Republic.

Some say that this is a religious battle between Christians and Muslims. It is a common assertion in our western press. I can see why they say this, since there are similar lines politically, demographically and religiously. However, the leaders we talked to in CAR insist this is not a religious war. To the contrary, the religious leaders are the loudest most courageous voices against the violence and the strongest promoters of peace.

The word needs to get out. The whole world knows about the missing Malaysian airplane with 239 passengers and crew. Forty four million dollars have already been spent on the search. But, there are thousands missing in CAR, and it barely makes the news. International troops under United Nations leadership need to establish order and rebuild infrastructure. And relief and development assistance should be immediately deployed.

As we sat in the ambassador’s residence, one of the militia representatives said that the people of CAR have not made God the priority. He said that most important in the Central African Republic is for the people of the nation to turn their hearts and actions to God. His prayer was that human tragedy would turn into spiritual renewal.

Leith Anderson is the president of the National Association of Evangelicals

Categories: Magazines

Alleged Anti-Muslim Comments Stir Controversy in Midst of Indian Parliamentary Elections

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 18:28

A video purporting to show the head of a right-wing Hindu organization making anti-Muslim comments has sparked controversy in the midst of a highly contested national election.

The clip appears to show Pravin Togadia, head of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, telling an audience in the northwest state of Gujarat that Muslims should be blocked from buying property in Hindu areas.

The ruling Congress Party and other political parties quickly condemned Togadia, with the controversy coming more than halfway through the staggered parliamentary elections that began April 7 and end May 12. The Election Commission has directed local authorities to file a police report and sought a copy of the recording of the video before deciding on a course of action, the Times of India reports.

A lawyer for Togadia said in a legal notice sent to the media Monday that “the report about a misinformed incident in Gujarat as appeared in an English newspaper… is false, malafide and mischievous.”

The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, the leading opposition party, echoed his denial, according to the Times of India.

“I talked to Togadiaji. He said he did not make such a statement,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told journalists Monday.

The BJP, projected to win a narrow majority in this month’s elections behind prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, is riding high amid concerns about a slowdown in the economy. Modi has gained support by promising to revive growth, but critics worry about his record. They point to Hindu-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002 that left more than 1,000 people dead, most of them Muslims, under his watch as chief minister. He continues to face questions about the riots, though Indian courts have never found him criminally culpable and have cleared him of any wrongdoing.

[Times of India]

Categories: Magazines

Prosecutors: Prep School Graduates Ran Drug Ring

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 18:06

(ARDMORE, Pa.) — Two prep school graduates sought to use their sports connections and business acumen to establish a monopoly on drug sales to high school students in the affluent Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia, authorities said Monday.

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Neil Scott, 25, and Timothy Brooks, 18, recruited and supplied dealers with marijuana, cocaine, Ecstasy and hash oil to sell to teens at five high schools in the tony bedroom communities, authorities said.

A four-month investigation revealed the pair also hired students at Haverford, Gettysburg and Lafayette colleges to peddle drugs at those Pennsylvania schools, authorities said.

Scott and Brooks are graduates of The Haverford School, a $35,000-a-year private institution where both played lacrosse. They tapped their sports and social networks to help further their enterprise, officials said.

“They were using very traditional business principles,” Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said. “To take those skills and turn it into this kind of illegal enterprise is very distressing.”

Scott, Brooks and several others arrested in the alleged ring were arraigned Monday on drug charges and related counts.

Scott’s lawyer declined to comment, saying he hadn’t yet reviewed the case.

Brooks’ attorney, Greg Pagano, described his client as vulnerable and a bit depressed after leaving the University of Richmond last year due to an unnamed injury. Brooks lives at his family’s home in Villanova.

“He, regrettably, lost his way,” Pagano said. “His parents are devastated.”

Scott, of Haverford, began selling pot after he moved back to the area last fall from San Diego, where he worked at a medical marijuana dispensary, officials said.

Scott told police that he needed money and figured he could make it by selling better marijuana than what was currently available in the area. He told police that an unspecified California connection could supply him with high-quality pot, which “would sell very well on the Main Line because everyone between 15 and 55 loves good weed,” an investigator wrote in the affidavit.

Scott began having the drug mailed to Pennsylvania in late 2013 and called his operation the “Main Line Take Over Project,” authorities said. Officials began an investigation in January based on a tip and eventually executed search warrants at nine locations.

In all, they reported seizing eight pounds of pot, more than $11,000, a loaded assault weapon, two other guns and equipment to manufacture hash oil. Scott has been in custody since February, held on $1 million bail.

Authorities didn’t calculate the total value of the operation, but Scott told police he was making about $1,000 per week on marijuana alone, the affidavit said.

Ferman said the investigation continues. So far, eight suspects have been arrested, and authorities say at least three more are involved.

One suspect, a current student at The Haverford School, has been suspended indefinitely, said headmaster John Nagl. He said the alleged involvement of the student and two alums is “hugely disappointing.”

“Those choices reflect badly on the values the school stands for,” Nagl said. “They let down themselves and their families, who’ve made huge sacrifices to send them to this school.”

Categories: Magazines

Watch the Lyrid Meteor Shower Peak Tonight

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 18:06

Monday night is a great night to watch the annual Lyrid Meteor shower, which will peak between April 21 and 22—just in time for Earth Day.

The annual April shower— named after the constellation its nearest, Lyra— will peak at around 20 meteors per minute according to NASA, giving viewers watching either on NASA’s live stream or out in the wilderness a glimpse of the falling meteors streaming, glowing tails.

NASA recommends outdoor viewers settle in dark, clear-skied locations far away from city lights. The best viewing will be between midnight and dawn local time, which gives you plenty of time to head someplace dark. If you can’t make it outdoors (or you’re stuck on a well-lit city block) check out NASA’s live stream, which will air starting at 8:30 pm ET. Either way, don’t forget to look up!

Here’s a peak at the 2012 shower, so you can see what’s in store:

Categories: Magazines

Gates-funded Student Data Group To Shut Down

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 18:05

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — The head of a student data processing organization says it will shut down in the coming months following criticism that led to the recent loss of its last active client — New York state.

The Atlanta-based nonprofit inBloom was started with $100 million in financing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Carnegie Corp.

The goal was to give educators a data tool to personalize instruction. But the idea of storing sensitive student data in cloud-based servers had parents and lawmakers worried about privacy and security.

Earlier this month, New York backed out of plans to use inBloom. Illinois was allowing districts to use it, but none had.

In a statement Monday, Chief Executive Iwan Streichenberger called its demise a “missed opportunity” for teachers and school districts.

Categories: Magazines

Federal Judges Order Release of Targeted Killing Memo

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 17:47

Federal judges ordered the U.S. government on Monday to release parts a memo detailing why it targeted and killed an American who had joined al-Qaeda in 2011.

The order overruled a previous decision last year allowing the government to withhold the documents, which explain the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki in a drone strike in Yemen three years ago. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the Justice Department “waived its right to keep the analysis secret” after it released a “white paper” justifying the policy of monitoring Americans involved in terrorist activity on foreign soil for targeting and execution, the New York Times reports.

“Whatever protection the legal analysis might once have had has been lost by virtue of public statements of public officials at the highest levels and official disclosure of the D.O.J. White Paper,” Judge Jon O. Newman said, The Justice Department released the “white paper” after it was reported by NBC News.

The government may redact parts of the memo, the Times reports. It is unclear when these will have to go public. The case is a result of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits filed by the Times and two of its reporters, and the American Civil Liberties Union. The government can still appeal.


Categories: Magazines

Julia Roberts Shares Her Heartbreak Over Half Sister’s Death

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 17:40

Actress Julia Roberts described the sudden death of her half-sister Nancy Motes as “just heartbreak”. The 46-year-old star spoke to WSJ Magazine magazine just 20 days after Motes was found dead of an apparent drug overdose in February, although the interview was not published until today.

“It’s just heartbreak,” Roberts said, adding, “There aren’t words to explain what any of us have been through in these last 20 days. It’s hour by hour some days, but you just keep looking ahead.” Motes, who was found dead in Los Angeles on February 9, was 37 and had worked as a production assistant on Glee. The cause of death has not been released.

“You don’t want anything bad to happen to anyone, but there are so many tragic, painful, inexplicable things in the world,” Roberts said. “But [as with] any situation of challenge and despair we must find a way, as a family.”

Roberts told the magazine she had been practicing meditation and chanting in order to stay calm, a practice she passed along to her children. “We share and just say, ‘This is a way I comfort myself,’” Roberts said.

The full interview, available here, was conducted to promote an upcoming HBO film “The Normal Heart,” which stars Roberts.


Categories: Magazines

Vogue Has ‘No Plans’ to Work With Controversial Photographer Terry Richardson Again

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 17:07

Terry Richardson is back in the spotlight, and it’s not for a good reason. On the heels of a new scandal involving the embattled photographer, Vogue made clear it has “no plans” to work with Richardson in the future, telling Us Weekly:

“The last assignment Terry Richardson had for US Vogue appeared in the July 2010 issue and we have no plans to work with him in the future.”

It all started when British model Emma Appleton tweeted a screenshot of a message she said was from Richardson. The message implied that the photographer was offering the model an opportunity to be in Vogue in exchange for sex (see the tweet at Buzzfeed). Her tweet of the message went viral soon after she posted it. The model has since deleted her Twitter, while a Richardson spokesperson told Buzzfeed’s Kate Aurthur that the message is a fake.

A representative of Terry Richardson says RE the Emma Appleton text: "This is obviously a fake. Terry did not send this text."—
Kate Aurthur (@KateAurthur) April 20, 2014

Appleton later took to her Instagram account to address the situation.

Richardson has been repeatedly under fire for his alleged inappropriate behavior on set. Several models have come forward to discuss their experiences working with him, including Coco Rocha, who said she’s shot with him before but “won’t do it again.”

Despite this, he remains one of the most prominent photographers in the fashion world, successfully shooting a bevy of beauties ranging from Kate Upton to Beyoncé. He shot nearly nude photos of Miley Cyrus that went viral last year. In March, Richardson defended himself against the “cycle of Internet gossip and false accusations” in a column called “Correcting the Rumors,” which appeared on The Huffington Post.

“Sadly, in the on-going quest for controversy-generated page views, sloppy journalism fueled by sensationalized, malicious, and manipulative recountings of this work has given rise to angry Internet crusadesm” he wrote. “Well-intentioned or not, they are based on lies. Believing such rumors at face value does a disservice not only to the spirit of artistic endeavor, but most importantly, to the real victims of exploitation and abuse.”

The letter prompted a flurry of disgusted replies, including a direct response from a model who wrote about her experiences with him in 2010.

Categories: Magazines

Meb Keflezighi’s Boston Marathon Win Is a Victory For Us All

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:58

One year ago, two young immigrant men, fed up with the American way of life, allegedly terrorized the Boston Marathon. A year later, an old — by marathon-running standards — immigrant who has totally embraced his adopted country won the historic race, thrilling everyone in attendance. On the first running of the Boston Marathon since last year’s bombings, Meb Keflezighi is the perfect man for the moment.

The message this victory sends to the bombers is not subtle: Screw you. You squandered your opportunity, your chance at the American dream — which still exists, thank you. You blew it. This could have been you.

Keflezighi became the first American man to win a Boston Marathon since 1983. No one gave him much of a chance, given his age — he will turn 39 next month — and the reality that since 1991, a Kenyan has won the race 19 times.

But Keflezighi has surprised skeptics before. He won a silver medal in the Athens Olympics marathon in 2004, and in 2009 became the first American to win the New York City Marathon in 27 years. That win kindled a tortured debate about “real” Americanism; a commentary, entitled “Marathon’s Headline Win Is Empty,” said that “the fact that [Keflezighi] is not American-born takes away from the magnitude of the achievement … Nothing against Keflezighi, but he’s like a ringer you hire to work a couple hours at your office so that you can win the executive softball league.” Comments on a running site included: “Give us all a break. It’s just another African marathon winner” and “Meb is not an American – case closed.”

Yes, Keflezighi was born in an Eritrean house with no electricity. But his family fled that country’s war with Ethiopia when he was still a young boy. “I ran my first mile here,” Keflezighi told me in a 2012 interview before the London Olympics, where he finished fourth in the marathon. “I didn’t know the sport was an option in Eritrea.” He ran cross country in grammar school and high school in San Diego, and at UCLA. He’s a product of the American running system., for its part, apologized after the flap. But all questions about Meb Keflezighi’s Americanism have surely been answered by now. Especially on this day. Last year, Keflezighi attended the race, but did not run: he left only about five minutes after the bombs went off. “When the bomb exploded, every day since I’ve wanted to come back and win it,” Keflezighi said afterwards, via USA Today. “I wanted to win it for the people of Boston. It’s beyond words.”

He doesn’t need them. A year later, Keflezighi’s win speaks louder than any bomb ever could.

Categories: Magazines

Get Ready for a Netflix Price Hike

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:43
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Netflix is planning to raises its prices, the company revealed in its quarterly earnings report today. The price hike, which the company says will amount to one or two dollars per month, is planned to take place sometime between April and June. The increase will only affect new members for now. Netflix says current members will be able to keep their current plans for a “generous time period.”

The news of a price hike comes as Netflix continues to add new subscribers at a rapid pace. The company added 4 million new subscribers in the first quarter of 2014, bringing its total subscriber base to more than 48 million globally. The additions were above Netflix’s guidance of 3.85 million new members for the quarter thanks to a surge in international subscriptions. Netflix generated $1.27 billion in revenue for the quarter, in line with analyst estimates. Earnings were 86 cents per share, beating analyst targets by three cents.

In a letter to shareholders, Netflix also formally stated its opposition to the proposed merger between Time Warner Cable and Comcast that is currently being scrutinized by federal regulators. Netflix recently reached a deal to pay Comcast for a direct connection to its broadband network in order to ensure faster streaming speeds for its users. “Comcast is already dominant enough to be able to capture unprecedented fees from transit providers and services such as Netflix,” the company wrote in its letter. “The combined company would possess even more anti-competitive leverage to charge arbitrary interconnection tolls for access to their customers.”

Netflix stock jumped more than 6 percent in after-hours trading. It’s still down significantly from its all-time high of $458 in early March as part of an overall decline in the tech stocks over the last month.

Categories: Magazines

The Big Bang Did NOT Occur 50 Years Ago

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:35

If you’re over 50, you probably remember the Big Bang—indeed, it would be hard to forget it. One moment you’re part of an infinitely tiny, infinitely dense point that contains the entirety of the universe, and the next moment you’re accelerating outward faster than the speed of light, expanding along with space-time itself. That’s a remember-when day if ever there was one.

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You might argue that the Big Bang occurred a bit earlier than 50 years ago—13.8 billion years earlier, in fact—and most people might agree with you. What actually happened 50 years ago was that Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson of Bell Labs made measurements of the cosmic background radiation that provided the first solid evidence of the Big Bang’s existence. Still, that didn’t stop Bell Labs itself from noting the event with a recent e-mail blast inviting recipients to “Celebrate the 50th Anniv. of the Big Bang.” In light of a just-released AP poll showing that a stunning 51% of Americans say they are “not at all confident” or “not too confident” that the Big Bang even occurred, the last thing we need is more confusion on the point.

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OK, it’s not entirely fair to pick on Bell Labs. The mere fact that whoever composed the message felt a need to abbreviate the word “anniversary” reflects how hard it is to get anyone to open an e-mail message today unless the subject line is short and semaphores excitement. Still the e-mail does, even indirectly, speak to a certain anthropocentrism in the way we think about science and the entire enterprise of discovery. It’s not the event or the phenomenon itself that counts, it’s the fact that we—a clever if sublimely narcissistic species—at last stumbled onto it.

Geneticists have been guilty of this for a while now, talking about having “discovered” the genes for this or that trait, even though the genes were there all the time and the only things that changed was that we finally looked for them. Some researchers are self-correcting—preferring to talk about “pinpointing” or “identifying” genes—but others still opt for the Christopher Columbus phrasing, if only because it makes their work sound more dramatic.

Columbus himself came in for similar revisionist thinking since, like the genes, the New World was there all along. And of course, if anyone did any discovering, it was the indigenous people who had lived there for thousands of years before the Europeans even hoisted anchor and ventured out.

Explorers have always gotten the hyperbole treatment. Ever since the mid-20th century we’ve been talking about the “conquest of space,” despite the fact that with the exception of nine trips to our nearby Moon, we’ve never gotten out of low Earth orbit. Calling that the conquest of space is a little like paddling around in Boston Harbor and saying you’ve conquered the oceans.

We do something similar with heroic accounts of “taming the continent,” something of an overstatement given that multiple centuries worth of droughts, tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, dust bowls, forest fires and more have shown that the continent has retained its feral ability to bite back. We even overstate our talent for causing wholesale destruction—something you’d think we wouldn’t want to boast about. Environmentalists themselves have long warned that there’s a misplaced egotism in feel-good slogans about “saving the Earth.” The Earth will be perfectly fine, thank you very much. It’s survived multiple glaciations, asteroid hits and more in its long life and it will surely survive us, even if we temporarily toxify the place so much that the very species that created the mess—us—can’t live here anymore.

In the case of the Big Bang, it’s understandable to play up, even inadvertently, a graspable time frame like 50 years ago as opposed to a far less fathomable 13.8 billion. My colleague Michael Lemonick once playfully considered opening a story in TIME with the line, “Twelve million years ago last week a supernova exploded.” The then-science editor prudently nixed the idea—too great a risk of real misinformation leaking into the popular conversation. But the idea did speak to the way we all wrestle with the tininess of the time scales on which we live our lives compared to the vastness of the cosmic clock.

Human beings are undeniably an ingenious species. The things we’ve built, created and sussed out are genuinely remarkable. But they’re pinholes in the curtain compared to all there is to know. There’s no harm in being proud that we’re allowing some light in—just not too proud.

Categories: Magazines

If There’s an Apple vs Google ‘Arms Race’ for Mobile Game Exclusives, Android’s Losing

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:10

A story by the Wall Street Journal claims that Apple and Google have staked out a new battleground over mobile games, as both companies try to grab exclusives for their own platforms.

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Citing unnamed sources, the Journal says Apple and Google are apparently offering promotional placement to game developers in exchange for timed exclusivity. While the report claims no money is changing hands, top placement in the iOS App Store or Android’s Google Play Store can have a huge impact on sales, so developers have a strong incentive to consider these deals.

But while reading the Journal’s report, one thing struck me as odd: There isn’t a lick of evidence that Google is actually fighting back against Apple’s supposed exclusivity push. While the story provides several examples of Apple making exclusive deals with top game developers, it doesn’t offer a single instance of Google doing the same.

With Apple, Electronic Arts reportedly agreed to a two-month exclusivity window for Plants vs. Zombies 2, and ZeptoLab gave Apple’s platform a three-month head start for Cut the Rope 2. An executive at GameLoft also confirmed that the company talked to Apple about an exclusivity deal, but ultimately decided against it.

What examples do we have for Android? The Journal merely says that Google has helped promote apps that “integrate Android branding.” One deal, with Russian developer Game Insight, apparently involved a discount on in-game items shaped like Android’s robot mascot. It’s safe to assume Apple wasn’t competing for this deal, and besides, Game Insight isn’t nearly as well-known as ZeptoLab, Gameloft or Electronic Arts.

Deal or no deal, it’s hard to find many instances of games going Android-first. Some noteworthy exclusives do exist, including Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VI and Gree’s Rage of the Immortals, which both had roughly a one-month head start on Android. But there are many more cases of popular games hitting iOS first, including Threes, Deus Ex: The Fall, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Hearthstone, The Room 2 and Ridiculous Fishing.

The story also mentions Amazon, practically as an aside. But at least with Amazon there are previous, documented examples of exclusives for the company’s app store. (The Journal’s report doesn’t even mention that Amazon is now creating its own games, which, as an approach to exclusive content, is much more interesting than making limited-time deals with other developers.

The idea that Google and Apple are battling for exclusives sounds good, at least, as it’s reminiscent of how traditional game console makers buy up exclusives for their own platforms. I’m just skeptical that there’s much of a fight going on in this case. Or if there is, it’s been extremely lopsided in Apple’s favor.

Besides, exclusives don’t mean much if they aren’t being marketed as a way to lure people onto one platform instead of another. If Google was having success with locking up Android-only releases, wouldn’t we be hearing about it from Google, rather than from “people familiar with the situation?”

Categories: Magazines

There’s Now A Wide Selection Of Tinder Alternatives For Jewish Singles

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:09

Considering that there are dating apps for farmers looking for other famers, it should hardly be a surprise that there’s a new Tinder specifically geared towards Jewish singles.

JSwipe is a Tinder derivative that launched on the first day of Passover, perhaps aiming to distract a bread-starved consumer base with pictures of nearby Jewish matches. After clarifying your Jewish affiliation (Orthodox? Willing to convert?) and eating tendencies (What’s your stance on cheeseburgers?), users are free to swipe right (which prompts a happy face Star of David) and left (sad face Star of David) to their Semitic-seeking hearts’ content.

And why stop at just one Jewish Tinder alternative?

There’s also JCrush, an app that launched in early April for the less decisive lover. Not only do users have a “Maybe” option, but even if they swipe left for no (in this case shown by a red “x” mark with “Oy Vey” written across the symbol) they can go back to change their minds.

Note: Religious affiliation doesn’t assure quality control. Some mensch matches apparently believe “Mazel Tov, sweet cheeks!” is an appropriate conversation starter.

Categories: Magazines

The Cult of Orphan Black

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:00

Ahead of Saturday’s second season premiere on BBC America, the Internet was abuzz at the prospect of the return of Canadian sci-fi drama Orphan Black, which centers around a woman who discovers that she is actually just one of a number — ten to date — of identical clones living around the world with no idea of their origins. The series is fast-moving and, at times, funny, but that doesn’t quite explain the fervor it has created amongst its fanbase so quickly. What does Orphan Black have that other shows don’t?

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“I actually think that Orphan Black captures a lot of the things that make shows like Buffy [The Vampire Slayer] great in a way that Buffy imitators haven’t been able to,” says Lauren Davis, a writer for the science-fiction site io9. “It’s a female-centered show — and I think a lot of people underestimate how attractive that is for female viewers — with snappy dialogue, complicated relationships, accessible mysteries and a big bad. The characters are larger-than-life, giving the show the kind of escapism you might find in cartoons or action movies, but the relationships between them feel authentic.”

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That last part — the believability of the relationships between characters — is something that Orphan Black has over potential competitors like the CW’s The Tomorrow People or Syfy’s Helix. For all that Orphan Black may share in terms of conceptual DNA with those shows, Orphan Black manages to offer soap opera to balance out the melodrama of the more outré content in a more savvy, organic way than its genre siblings. “There is a kind of delicious Desperate Housewives darkness to it, with a bit of heart,” Davis says. “It’s a show that lets you wallow in a sort of stylized violence while also connecting you emotionally to the characters.”

The key to that connection isn’t simply the writing, but the performances — and most important, the performance of Taitana Maslany, the lead actress who manages to juggle ten different characters in a way that seems surprisingly believable. “As an acting showcase for the lead actor, it’s fantastic,” cartoonist Mathew Digges, a self-proclaimed fan of the show, told me. “That’s probably the main reason I’m watching: the appeal and charm of the lead, and the amazing work she does playing different characters.” (Davis agrees, suggesting that Maslany’s nuanced performance gives the show a “you have to see this trick” appeal for newcomers unconvinced by the show’s concept.)

Maslany is certainly important to Orphan Black, in ways that go beyond her impressive portrayals. She’s literally the face of the show — promotional campaigns for both seasons have centered around portraits of the actor, trusting that her look alone will be enough to make people sit up and pay attention — and has embraced the role, interacting with fans online and name-checking them during promotional appearances. The online interaction between the show and its fans has been key in building a fanbase as well; the show maintains active presences on both Tumblr and Twitter, tapping into an eager audience ready to share early glimpses at what’s to come. Not for nothing were sneak peeks for the show’s second season debuted online months in advance of the premiere itself; the resultant excitement amongst fans worked to spread the word and create buzz in a way that traditional advertising could never have managed.

In many ways, that attitude toward the fanbase is typical of the show’s status as genre television that has learned from the mistakes (and successes) of others. Like Lost, Orphan Black has an apparently labyrinthine mythology behind it — but unlike Lost, it’s a show that is happy to offer answers to important questions sooner rather than later. Like Heroes, each new discovery appears to point towards a grand conspiracy behind events, but there’s a throughline (and, ultimately, endpoint) to that conspiracy that grounds the series to prevent the kind of messiness and creative tailspin that that series fell into after its first season. More subtly, it’s also a series that learned the lessons of a show like Buffy and keeps its core cast appreciably small. Audiences know very clearly who they can trust and who to care about.

Is Orphan Black the product of genre fans (or at least, viewers aware of genre tropes) who have been smart enough to look at what’s gone before and recognize what worked and what didn’t, then? There’s something neat about that realization, and fitting, as well. After all, what could be better for a show about clones than for its creators to make it from the most successful DNA of all its predecessors?

Categories: Magazines