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Azerbaijan DispatchA village on the frontline of the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia welcomes peace — after more than two decades.Credit...Ivor Prickett for The New York TimesDec. 4, 2020Updated 8:58 p.m. ETCIRAQLI, Azerbaijan — The fate of the people of Ciraqli, in a rural corner of the southern Caucasus, had long been forgotten by the outside world since a war between Azerbaijan and Armenia halted in a cease-fire in 1994. But the conflict never ended for the villagers.The cease-fire left the two armies facing each other along a front line, barely a few hundred yards apart. Dug in behind big earth berms, the soldiers sporadically traded sniper and artillery rounds for the next 26 years.And so the people of Ciraqli have lived with war on their doorstep beside their own version of the Berlin Wall.When Azerbaijan launched an offensive in September to retake territory it lost in the war, Armenian forces replied with a ferocious barrage of missiles that sent most of the villagers fleeing for their lives.Now that peace has come, negotiated by the Russian government after six weeks of fighting, villagers were back home, picking up the pieces and patching up their roofs with a mixture of weariness and hope.“It was difficult,” said Vugar Aslanov, 51, one recent afternoon, as he cleared debris from a mortar strike on his barn. “Imagine, there is the enemy,” he said, gesturing across his yard.Black smoke rose from across the fields, where Armenian troops were packing up — and burning buildings — as they prepared to withdraw from the area under the peace deal. “We could not go to the fields, or on to the roof of the house because there is very little distance between us and them.”ImageCredit...Ivor Prickett for The New York TimesStone walls run along the properties on one side of the village and high mud berms guarded by military lookout posts mark the frontline beyond. Several ruined houses stand abandoned in a bare stretch of land that for decades was a no-man’s land.Over the years the casualties mounted on both sides into the thousands. The International Crisis Group counted more than 1,600 fatal casualties along the 100-mile-long Line of Contact in sporadic fire in just five years from 2015 to this year. The majority were military personnel but 256 were civilians living and farming along the line of contact.International monitors of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe made visits to the line twice a month but otherwise there was little mechanism to enforce the 1994 cease-fire.The frontline through Ciraqli village divided family properties and cut farmers off from their fields and the market towns where they sold their produce.Sveta Bayramova and her husband, Fikret Mamedov, built a wall at the end of their orchard to screen off their home from Armenian lookout posts. Their noisy flock of geese in the garden helped guard against intruders.Once in the middle of the night Ms. Bayramova surprised an Armenian military reconnaissance unit scouting out their backyard. Azerbaijani soldiers were creeping up on them and when she shouted, a shootout broke out. One Armenian soldier was captured but the rest fled back over the berm.ImageCredit...Ivor Prickett for The New York Times“I have been living here 28 years and we did not feel scared a single day,” she said defiantly.She lost her father in 1994 in the last days of the first war. A sniper shot and killed him as he was driving back from work near the frontline, she said.It took her brother two weeks of searching before he found the car with his father still inside, but her brother was captured and taken prisoner by Armenian soldiers before he could retrieve his body.Her brother was released but Ms. Bayramova said he never recovered from his ordeal and died of an aneurysm two years later.His ruined home stands in a buffer zone just beyond her garden wall. Her sister’s house is also in no-man’s land, she said. To the right she pointed out an Armenian guard post atop the earth berm within sight of her wall.Her siblings and relatives moved away from the village but she stayed on with her husband, who is a schoolteacher, and they raised three children just yards from the frontline.The Azerbaijani army set up a camp on the edge of the village and the government helped families build protective walls along the edge of their properties to guard against stray bullets. But the toll continued.ImageCredit...Ivor Prickett for The New York TimesOne afternoon in January 2000, Mr. Aslanov’s father was herding his sheep and cows in the field by his house. “An Armenian sniper shot him,” Mr. Aslanov said. “He was shot under the arm. He lost a lot of blood and died.”Mr. Aslanov, like most men in the village, is a veteran of the first war. He moved with his wife, who is disabled, and their two children to a nearby town when the war flared anew in September.Those who stayed hunkered in their homes along with a few local policemen, demonstrating a resilient stubbornness.They survived a monthlong barrage of rocket and mortar fire.“It was dangerous,” said Hikmet Mamedov, 36, a wiry farmer in a leather jacket, “but why should I leave?” (Several of the villagers bore the same surname but said they were not related.)In the war that ended in the 1994 cease-fire, Armenian forces seized control of Nagorno-Karabakh — a territory that was populated mostly by ethnic Armenians but legally part of Azerbaijan — and seven surrounding districts. They built extensive defenses against an attack by Azerbaijani forces along this part of the frontline because it offered the shortest route to Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh.Azerbaijani forces made the main thrust of their attacks on Nagorno-Karabakh in the south and never breached the frontline near Ciraqli. But that did not stop the two sides bombarding each other’s positions.Almost half the village was badly damaged in the recent fighting.ImageCredit...Ivor Prickett for The New York TimesRovshan Mamedov, 68, stood shocked and barely able to speak as he inspected the burnt-out shell of his home just yards from the frontline. “I left 15 minutes before it happened,” he said. “We heard shells coming in so we left.”He is now living with his wife and two grown sons in a school in a nearby town with other displaced families. “What can I feel? The most important is that we are alive,” he said.At the other end of the village, near the small army base, Elman Mamedov and his wife Parvana had salvaged their belongings into the only downstairs room that was undamaged. Three rockets had hit the two-story building, crashing through the roof and ceilings into the rooms below.“Bullets used to come but we were not expecting bombs,” Ms. Mamedova said.“Before the war, everything was very nice,” her husband said, looking out from his destroyed front porch. He fought in the war and lost his brother in 1993 in the fighting in the town of Aghdam, a few miles west of the village, he said.He voiced a quiet satisfaction that the tables had turned. “We are in a different position now,” he said. “The people who left will come back.”ImageCredit...Ivor Prickett for The New York TimesMost of the villagers are small farm holders and were happy that with the departure of Armenian forces they would gain access to fields across the frontline. “We are going to have our lands back,” Mr. Aslanov said. “We will celebrate when they have gone,” his son, Sahin, 18, added.Above all, they would welcome the absence of gunfire, Hikmet Mamedov said.“We are not going to be scared to let our kids outside,” he said. “We saw these wars, but we don’t want our children to see them.”

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The Trump administration won’t enforce its own deadline for ByteDance to sell or spin out video-sharing platform TikTok’s business in the US, according to Bloomberg.The latest deadline for that move, given by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) on November 28th, was today, December 4th. An extension isn’t expected, though the current deadline will “be overlooked while the discussions continue” between the Trump administration and TikTok, Bloomberg reports. CNN tech reporter Brian Fung is corroborating that the US won’t enforce its own deadline, with his sources amusingly suggesting that the lack of a deadline is proof that the US is “highly motivated” to complete talks about the sale.


US officials are “highly motivated” to complete the talks, the person said, and added that the lack of a new, specific deadline is indicative of that.— Brian Fung (@b_fung) December 5, 2020



The Trump administration has repeatedly argued that TikTok and ByteDance are a national security risk, and the US Commerce Department issued an order to block downloads of TikTok in September. But Trump then said that he approved of a bid by Oracle and Walmart “in concept” to create a new US-based entity called TikTok Global, though it’s not clear how that would address concerns of security risks. That deal also requires final approval from China, which hasn’t come yet, either.

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Google Fi will stop activating non-VoLTE phones in January, and encourage customers with older phones to upgrade with a $100 credit provided they purchase a new phone from the Fi store and activate it before December 31st, 9to5Google reports. Google’s hand is forced in the matter. Customers subscribe to Fi, but as an MVNO, Fi actually piggybacks on T-Mobile and US Cellular’s networks to provide coverage. Since T-Mobile has already announced its own plans to phase out support for non-VoLTE phones starting in January 2021, Fi has to as well.

VoLTE stands for “Voice over LTE”, which is the handling of phone calls over LTE data rather than older 3G tech. VoLTE calls are typically clearer, with fewer drops in connection, though they’re completely unavailable to older phones that only use 3G radios and even some early LTE models as well. Google stopped activating 2G and 3G phones August 4th of this year according to the Fi FAQs, but requiring VoLTE all but assures 3G’s days are numbered.There’s no hard date for the end of 3G service at Fi, but it is coming, and until Google makes an official announcement, your best bet is to look for when T-Mobile ends its coverage. T-Mobile gained a lot of sway over what Fi can offer when it purchased Sprint, giving it control over both of the biggest networks Fi relied on.There’s actually a couple cheap options on the Fi store that could serve as a quick fix. We like Google’s Pixel 4a, which normally sells for $349, but there’s also options that you could get for less than $100 with Google’s current holiday promotion.Upgrading to better cell service is a long term good for the usability of phones, but it is an inconvenience to customers. Verizon already made its change a while back, phasing out elements of 3G services in favor of LTE and 5G over time. AT&T and T-Mobile’s plans are a bit more abrupt. There’s an intense focus on upgrading to 5G that seems to be motivating all of this, which is especially inconvenient because around 30 million Americans still used 3G exclusively as of 2019. Unless customers are able to upgrade, they could be left behind.

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The associate pastor of a California megachurch that defied a state order and instead opened for indoor services has died.Bob Bryant of the Water of Life Community Church in Fontana in Southern California died Monday, just weeks after the evangelical church moved services inside, defying a California regulation that allows only outdoor services.Bryant, 58, who was married and had four children, will be honored at a memorial service Monday inside the church, according to its website, again in defiance of health regulations. Bryant became sick while on vacation last month and did not return to the church after he began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, a church spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times.But he continued working “right up until” he “wasn’t feeling well,” then became “incredibly sick,” KABC-TV in Los Angles reported. Bryant, described as a “larger-than-life” pastor who has been with the church for 20 years, worked on providing financial assistance to church members in need.Bryant suffered “aggressive pneumonia” and a heart attack, and was placed on a ventilator, according to a Facebook post by his wife, Lori Snider Bryant. 

Dan Carroll, senior pastor of the 20,000-member Water of Life church, didn’t address the controversy over the church’s decision to ignore health regulations.“It’s very painful,” Carroll said of Bryant’s death in an interview with KABC. “The whole COVID experience is very painful.”Carroll was one of several church leaders who signed a letter in mid-May vowing to reopen his church regardless of state restrictions designed to help stem the tide of COVID-19 infections.“We’re not here to be activists, we’re not here to be rebels; we’re here to be helpers,” Carroll said at a news conference at the time. He complained that “Californians of faith” felt as if they’d been “kicked to the curb” and “marginalized.”A federal judge ruled May 5 that Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) had the right to ban church assemblies during the coronavirus outbreak.As COVID-19 cases decreased, the state allowed churches to reopen with capacity caps in late May, but it again ended indoor services in mid-July in the hardest-hit counties.The Water of Life church ignored the restrictions and reopened for indoor services in early November, requiring masks and social distancing, according to a Facebook post. 






State health regulations ban indoor church services in the most restricted counties, where COVID-19 cases are the most rampant. San Bernardino County, where Water of Life is located, is in the most restricted category. The county received a complaint about indoor services at Water of Life in mid-November and issued a letter Monday calling for the church to comply with regulations, the Times reported.Bryant’s memorial service will be in the church’s Worship Center, according to the church website on Friday. It will also be streamed online. For those “joining us in person, social distancing will be practiced and face masks are required at all times while on campus,” the website noted.All funerals in San Bernardino County, whether church-based or not, are only permitted outdoors, according to the state health order.San Bernardino has among the highest rates of coronavirus infections among California’s 58 counties. On Friday, it became the 10th country in the nation to exceed 100,000 cases.

















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AbstractImportance Patients with COVID-19 may exhibit 25-hydroxyvitamin D deficiency, but the beneficial effects of vitamin D3 supplementation in this disease remain to be proven by randomized controlled trials.Objective To investigate the efficacy and safety of vitamin D3 supplementation in patients with severe COVID-19.Design, Setting, and Participants This is a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial conducted in two centers (a quaternary hospital and a field hospital) in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The trial included 240 hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19. The study was conducted from June 2, 2020 to October 7, 2020.Interventions Patients were randomly allocated (1:1 ratio) to receive either a single oral dose of 200,000 IU of vitamin D3 or placebo.Main Outcomes and Measures The primary outcome was hospital length of stay, defined as hospital discharge from the date of randomization or death. Secondary outcomes were mortality, admission to ICU, mechanical ventilation requirement, and serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, creatinine, calcium, C-reactive protein, and D-dimer.Results Of 240 randomized patients (mean age, 56 years; 56% men), 232 (96.7%) were included in the primary analysis. Log-rank test showed that hospital length of stay was comparable between the vitamin D3 supplementation and placebo groups (7.0 days [95% CI, 6.1 to 7.9] and 7.0 days [95% CI, 6.2 to 7.8 days]; hazard ratio, 1.12 [95% CI, 0.9 to 1.5]; P = .379; respectively). The rate of mortality (7.0% vs 5.1%; P = .590), admission to ICU (15.8% vs 21.2%; P = .314), and mechanical ventilation requirement (7.0% vs 14.4%; P = .090) did not significantly differ between groups. Vitamin D3 supplementation significantly increased serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels compared to placebo (difference, 24.0 ng/mL [95% CI, 21.0% to 26.9%]; P = .001). No adverse events were observed.Conclusions and Relevance Among hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19, vitamin D3 supplementation was safe and increased 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels, but did not reduce hospital length of stay or any other relevant outcomes vs placebo. This trial does not support the use of vitamin D3 supplementation as an adjuvant treatment of patients with COVID-19.Question Can vitamin D3 supplementation reduce hospital length of stay in hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19?Findings In this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial involving 240 hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19, a single dose of 200,000 IU of vitamin D3 supplementation was safe and effective in increasing 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels, but did not significantly reduce hospital length of stay (hazard ratio, 1.12) or any other clinically-relevant outcomes compared with placebo.Meaning Vitamin D3 supplementation does not confer therapeutic benefits among hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.Clinical TrialNCT04449718Funding StatementFunding/Support: This study was supported by Sao Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) (grants 20/05752-4; 19/24782-4; 20/11102-2; 16/00006-7; 17/13552-2; 15/26937-4; 19/18039-7) and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Cientifico e Tecnologico (305556/2017-7).Author DeclarationsI confirm all relevant ethical guidelines have been followed, and any necessary IRB and/or ethics committee approvals have been obtained.YesThe details of the IRB/oversight body that provided approval or exemption for the research described are given below:The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of Clinical Hospital of the School of Medicine of the University of Sao Paulo and by the Ethics Committee of Ibirapuera Field Hospital. All the procedures were conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. The participants provided written informed consent before being enrolled in the study (Ethics Committee Approval Number 30959620.4.0000.0068). The trial protocol and statistical plan are included in Supplement 1. This manuscript was written according to the recommendations by the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) guidelines (See Supplement 2).All necessary patient/participant consent has been obtained and the appropriate institutional forms have been archived.YesI understand that all clinical trials and any other prospective interventional studies must be registered with an ICMJE-approved registry, such as ClinicalTrials.gov. I confirm that any such study reported in the manuscript has been registered and the trial registration ID is provided (note: if posting a prospective study registered retrospectively, please provide a statement in the trial ID field explaining why the study was not registered in advance).YesI have followed all appropriate research reporting guidelines and uploaded the relevant EQUATOR Network research reporting checklist(s) and other pertinent material as supplementary files, if applicable.YesData AvailabilityData Availability StatementDataData available: Yes.Data types: Deidentified participant data.How to access data: Requests must be sent to rosamariarp{at}yahoo.comWhen available: Four months after publication.Supporting documentsDocuments types: None.Additional informationWho can access the data: Qualified clinical researchers.Types of analysis: Specified purposes dependent on the nature of the request and the intention use of the data.Mechanisms of data availability: Signed data access agreement.Any additional restrictions: The request must include a statistician.

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We all grow up in our own little bubble. Getting perspective on ourselves and/or our own lives is one of the harder things to do in life. I've always liked the following movie scene, but it took on new meaning for me after I was homeless:

Most of us go through life...knowing only that one little station to which we were born...you...have had the rare privilege of escaping your bonds for just a spell...



I was on the street about a year before it dawned on me how upper class my mother's expectations were. It took even longer for me to begin to comprehend how well off my parents had actually been at one time.



While I was growing up, my parents always conveyed this narrative of "We are just plain folks with blue collar jobs." I was a child, so I believed what I was told and it took a stint "on skid row" to get a clue that this wasn't the whole story.




I actively and intentionally used my time on the street as a means to gain insight into things about myself and my own life, especially in areas that weren't working well. Being homeless was a somewhat unique opportunity to get feedback on where my circumstances ended and where "I" began.



Growing up, I kind of thought "Most people are just nice." I had no means to figure out how much was natural charm, how much was me dressing well and the like and how much was people deferring to me because I was one of the highest ranked students in my school and so forth.


Being homeless taught me that, no, most people absolutely are not just nice. It also taught me that I actually can be charming and smooth talking.


It turns out that's a real skill that I have and it has real value. It wasn't simply about me thinking I knew how to ask nicely but really being deferred to by others because of my station in life.


Another interesting thing is that even while homeless people tended to read me as upper class. I was often mistaken for a tourist at first glance.

My casual attire of t-shirts and sweat pants was read to mean that I was on vacation, not sleeping in a tent in a patch of woods as my only housing. People had to see me a few times to realize I had habits like a homeless person and wasn't simply taking a break from more upper class attire.




While homeless, I belonged for a time to a toxic, classist forum called Metafilter. The mods there actively encouraged others to bully me and plenty of people embraced that edict with enthusiasm.


One woman who bullied me on Metafilter with more persistence than the norm was an ER doctor with mommy issues. Another real toxic asshole that stands out in my memory was an American man pursuing his PhD in Europe.


The best of the best of the best, sir!




I eventually concluded that in addition to the people there being generally warped and unhealthy individuals who were all too willing to behave abusively to someone who had nothing, I scared the hell out of them. They didn't want to believe that someone "like them" could end up homeless.


I still read as too upper class. I had too much education. I was too articulate. I was too well traveled. I wasn't an addict or a teen mom.

They wanted to believe that getting a good education and coming from a good home and so forth would guarantee their safety from the horrors of street life. I flew too much in the face of this delusion to be at all acceptable.


Rather than have compassion for "one of their own" who was "down on their luck," they actively harassed me and ultimately banned me. These are people who like to brag about what wonderful people they are.


I recently spoke with a woman from an even more upper class background than mine -- someone who only attended private schools growing up -- and she is currently homeless. She soon was actively insulting me, unwilling to believe that I was really "her equal" in any real sense.


This post is being written because of that conversation. She kept saying things like "I have a graduate degree!" and "I understand numbers and finance!"

She tried to insist that my offer to point her in the direction of gig work was unhelpful as she had some minimum income requirements to pay her student loans etc. Although she had reached out to me, it was as if she believed that I hadn't been through some of the exact same things myself while homeless.


In reality, her story had quite a few details that sounded exactly like mine. I got back into housing a few weeks after I made my last student loan payment.


Being homeless apparently flew in the face of all the stuff she believed about how life was supposed to work. She seemed to believe that an education would protect her. She seemed to believe that being "smart" would protect her. Etc.




If you are homeless and come from an upper class background, I will suggest that repeating all the things you believe about how life is supposed to work will not magically make them true and thereby fix your problems. Being verbally abusive to me because I don't have the kinds of answers you want won't either.


I encourage you to see this as a heavy dose of reality concerning where your mental models are broken. The only cure for what ails you is to start getting over your delusions and start adjusting your mental models to come up with a more accurate understanding of reality.


If you are upper class and not currently homeless, please take this post as one more message from some random internet stranger that, no, you are not magically exempt from the possibility of ending up on the street. If you are American and don't like that fact, taking it out on "the messenger" also won't fix the fact that America does a poor job of providing its citizens with a safety net in comparison to most developed countries.




The title of this post is from an old interview with Elizabeth Taylor. She was talking about what she got out of making her first movie while still a child.

She talked about how powerfully it shaped her mental models of the world to have that experience at a young age and how that positively impacted her life as an adult to have it very clear in her mind from an early age that "This is real. That's not."


While homeless, my hypothesis was that my life was broken at least in part because my mental models were broken. I sought to fix my mental models as a means to fix my life.


I did manage to get myself back into housing on my own efforts without being "rescued" by anyone nor going through some kind of program. I see that as evidence of the accuracy of my hypothesis.



Though I'm sure someone will read this and feel compelled to assert that "Correlation does not prove causation" and then link to some XKCD strip.

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It may be time to pour one out for the streaming service trial. CNET reports that HBO Max is no longer offering users a free week of watching its content, following both Disney Plus and Netflix’s examples earlier in the year. This change, probably not coincidentally, comes just weeks before December 25th, when Wonder Woman 1984 is set to launch on the service (as well as in theaters, but you should probably stay home). While it can’t compete with free, the $14.99 you’ll now have to pay to see the movie still compares favorably to the price of a theater ticket (and it’s a month of entertainment as opposed to two-ish hours).It’s not the first streaming service to nix a free trial before a big release: Disney Plus did it just a few weeks before it started streaming Hamilton. The logic is sound, if annoying: people want to watch the Big New Thing, and if you offered a free trial, they might just watch it and bounce. If they have to pay for it for a month, a lot will, and they might get hooked on something else while they’re looking around for other content to justify their month-long subscription. Or, if you’re HBO Max, they might see the absolute deluge of movies coming to the service next year and decide it’s worth keeping around.








Free trials don’t recoup a $200 million production budget.


So, if you were hoping to use the free trial to watch Wonder Woman 1984, it’s not an option anymore. Is it worth paying for a month of HBO Max? You’ll have to decide, though whether or not you’re willing to pay will probably be determined by how many of the other streaming services you pay for, because there sure are a lot of them. As for me, I’m just sad I have to cancel my plans of having an incredible week of free movie watching at the end of next year.


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Sometimes, with everything on fire and no end in sight, it’s nice to have a wholesome moment to remind us there are still beacons of light in this cruel world. I think this clip of Twitch streamer AjentVee getting super mega ultra excited over finding a rare Pokémon fits the bill. Let’s watch.Nice!Right?Wait…you don’t get it? Not a Pokémon fan?Okay, sorry, let me break it down for you because it’s wild.AjentVee has spent the last month or so tracking down a “shiny” Sinistea in Pokémon Sword and Shield as part of her overall goal to catch an entire Pokédex’s worth of these elusive, alternatively colored pocket monsters. But that’s not all: She also wanted her Sinistea to be “authentic,” which means that it’s one of the select few members of its species with a rare mark on the bottom of its teacup.This means that every time AjentVee encountered a Sinistea, there was a one in 500,000 chance it would be both “shiny” and “authentic.” By her own estimation, it only took 4,000 attempts, so I’d say she got off lucky! Not only that, but the Sinistea that ended up being authentic was the first shiny she encountered that day, and at just 11 minutes into her stream at that.Oh, and AjentVee was able to tell it was authentic on the inventory screen because only authentic Sinistea evolve with the Chipped Pot item, hence the “compatible” that appears under the Pokémon on the left-hand side of the screen. The fake varieties use a Cracked Pot instead. And evolving this shiny, authentic Sinistea will give her a shiny, authentic Polteageist, too. Two birds with one stone!G/O Media may get a commissionI couldn’t help but smile watching AjentVee celebrate her discovery, and I hope it does the same for you as we head into the weekend.

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California certified its presidential election Friday and appointed 55 electors pledged to vote for Democrat Joe Biden, officially handing him the Electoral College majority needed to win the White House.Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s formal approval of Biden’s win in the state brought his tally of pledged electors so far to 279, according to a tally by The Associated Press. That’s just over the 270 threshold for victory.These steps in the election are often ignored formalities. But the hidden mechanics of electing a U.S. president have drawn new scrutiny this year as President Donald Trump continues to deny Biden’s victory and pursues increasingly specious legal strategies aimed at overturning the results before they are finalized.Although it’s been apparent for weeks that Biden won the presidential election, his accrual of more than 270 electors is the first step toward the White House, said Edward B. Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University.“It is a legal milestone and the first milestone that has that status,” Foley said. “Everything prior to that was premised on what we call projections.”The electors named Friday will meet Dec. 14, along with counterparts in each state, to formally vote for the next president. Most states have laws binding their electors to the winner of the popular vote in their state, measures that were upheld by a Supreme Court decision this year. There have been no suggestions that any of Biden’s pledged electors would contemplate not voting for him.Results of the Electoral College vote are due to be received, and typically approved, by Congress on Jan. 6. Although lawmakers can object to accepting the electors’ votes, it would be almost impossible for Biden to be blocked at that point.The Democratic-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate would both vote separately to resolve any disputes. One already has arisen from Pennsylvania, where 75 Republican lawmakers signed a statement on Friday urging Congress to block the state’s electoral votes from being cast for Biden. But the state’s Republican U.S. senator, Pat Toomey, said soon afterward that he would not be objecting to Pennsylvania’s slate of electors, underscoring the difficulty in trying to change the election results through Congress.“As a practical matter, we know that Joe Biden is going to be inaugurated on Jan. 20,” Foley said.That was clear in the days after the election, when the count of mail ballots gradually made clear that Biden had won victories in enough states to win the Electoral College. It became even more apparent in late November, when every swing state won by Biden certified him as the winner of its elections and appointed his electors to the Electoral College. Trump has fruitlessly tried to stop those states from certifying Biden as the winner and appointing electors for the former vice president.He made no effort in deeply Democratic California, the most populous state in the nation and the trove of its largest number of electoral votes. Three more states won by Biden — Colorado, Hawaii and New Jersey — have not yet certified their results. When they do, Biden will have 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 232.Trump and his allies have brought at least 50 legal cases trying to overturn the results in the swing states Biden won — mainly Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. More than 30 have been rejected or dropped, according to an AP tally.Trump and his allies have also raised the far-fetched notion that Republican state legislatures in those states could appoint a rival set of electors pledged to Trump.But state Republican leaders have rejected that approach, and it would likely be futile in any case. According to federal law, both chambers of Congress would need to vote to accept a competing slate of electors. If they don’t, the electors appointed by the states’ governors — all pledged to Biden in these cases — must be used.The last remaining move to block the election would be the quixotic effort to vote down the electors in Congress.This tactic has been tried — a handful of congressional Democrats in 2000, 2004 and 2016 objected to officially making both George W. Bush and Trump president. But the numbers were not enough to block the two men from taking office.















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Page 6 INTRODUCTION SAILON-70


sections into "portions" (such as the Table of Contents or the Appendices), and portions into a document. The methods of bulding larger units from smaller ones are flexible and under control of the programmer.

The most trivial use of PUB is to create a document that is exactly identical to the manuscript, adding only headings and footings. PUB assumes that the format of each output page is as follows. The first three lines are a Heading area of which only the first is usually used. The next 48 lines (lines 4 to 51) are the Text area. Line 52 is blank and line 53 is a Footing area. The Footing area is for page numbers and other reference information, not for footnotes. (Footnotes are placed inside the Text area, towards its bottom).

The width of each page is assumed to be 69 characters. It is assumed that there is only one column of text output. Therefore, the longest an output line can be is 69 characters.

The number of lines in each area, the number of columns of text, and the number of characters in each column may be changed by declaration. See Section 6.7 and Section 7.13 for details. If all you want to do is widen the page, e.g., to 75 characters, then make the following line the first of the manuscript:.PAGE FRAME 53 HIGH 75 WIDE

The "Dot" in column one indicates that this line is a Command Line for PUB to obey and should not be printed in the document. If you would rather a different character in column one served for this purpose, see Section 2.2.

PUB assumes that you want no headings and footings. It will leave the heading and footing areas blank unless you specify otherwise. The simplest way to specify headings and footings is with the standard macros "EVERY HEADING" and "EVERY FOOTING". These macros can specify a title for the left edge, center, and right edge of the heading area and the footing area. For example, the macro call:.EVERY HEADING(PRELIMINARY REPORT,PARACYBERNETIC PHENOMENA,1972)



1.6

The Document Object Model (DOM) PUB did not have a document object model as powerful as that of DHTML. But it did have a hierarchy of elements, at the top of which were portions. Portions were major document divisions like the Table of Contents, the main body of text, and the Index. Like JavaScript, PUB offered the ability to append text, with or without markup, to elements. PUB offered both a simple and a fancy method of appending to elements. In the simple method, text without markup (i.e., after markup had been applied) was appended to the current line, lines were appended to the current paragraph, etc., up the hierarchy to the current portion. Today, pure HTML without scripts operates the same way. In the fancy method, one portion, usually the main body of text, sent text with unapplied markup to another portion. For example, the main body could send an entry to the Table of Contents, Bibliography, or Index. In pass 2, the receiving portion processed the markup as if it had been part of its original source code. In JavaScript today, a similar process applies when a script uses the writeln function to add markup to a related document in a frame. The PUB compiler had no predefined notion of a table of contents, bibliography, or index. The author could define as many portions as desired, with their format and structure determined by the script and the markup. Page layout in PUB vs. RUNOFF Instead of PUB's page frame, RUNOFF had distinct line length and paper length commands. In RUNOFF, the header command took one argument. Alignment was determined by a separate heading mode command. The page command and its partner, paging mode, controlled the printing of page numbers. PUB combined and generalized these facilities. The dot convention The dot convention originated in RUNOFF. Successors such as SCRIPT, GML, and troff followed suit. Commands had to start on a new line. PUB supported both command lines that began with a dot and intra-line switching between command mode and text mode, in a similar fashion to PHP today. TeX (1978) and SGML (1986) dropped the dot convention completely, and allowed markup to appear anywhere.

(read more)

The United States saw the most new coronavirus cases of the pandemic on Thursday, with deaths and hospitalizations also rising. Underlying conditions largely determine who survives. Credit...Philip Cheung for The New York TimesDec. 4, 2020, 8:18 p.m. ETHOUSTON — The United States is winding up a particularly devastating week, one of the very worst since the coronavirus pandemic began nine months ago.On Thursday, a national single-day record was set, with more than 217,000 new cases. It was one of many data points that illustrated the depth and spread of a virus that has killed more than 278,000 people in this country, more than the entire population of Lubbock, Texas, or Modesto, Calif., or Jersey City, N.J.“It’s just an astonishing number,” said Caitlin Rivers, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “We’re in the middle of this really severe wave and I think as we go through the day to day of this pandemic, it can be easy to lose sight of how massive and deep the tragedy is.”In California, where daily case reports have tripled in the last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new round of regional stay-at-home orders to address a mounting crisis over intensive-care beds. Some counties in the Bay Area said they were enacting tough new restrictions this weekend, before the state rules come into effect. And in South Florida, which is in the early stages of a new surge, physicians and politicians alike worried that there might not be enough resources to treat the sick.As the virus has spread, infectious-disease experts have gained a better understanding of who among the nation’s nearly 330 million residents is the most vulnerable.Nursing home deaths have consistently represented about 40 percent of the country’s Covid-19 deaths since midsummer, even as facilities kept visitors away and took other precautions and as the share of infections related to long-term care facilities fell substantially.Underlying conditions have played a pivotal role in determining who survives the virus. Americans who have conditions like diabetes, hypertension and obesity — about 45 percent of the population — are more vulnerable.And new evidence has emerged that people in lower-income neighborhoods experienced higher exposure risk to the virus because of their need to work outside the home.“The pandemic is us,” said Andrew Noymer, an associate professor of public health at the University of California, Irvine, who added that part of the word “pandemic” derives from “demos,” ancient Greek for “people.” “It’s the same word that gives us ‘demography’ or ‘epidemic.’ The pandemic is collectively all of our actions.”ImageCredit...Philip Cheung for The New York TimesUpticks on both coasts have more than offset the progress in the Upper Midwest, where new case numbers have started to fall. Some places in the Northeast are now reporting more cases each day than they were in the spring, in part because testing was limited then. Rhode Island is averaging more than 1,000 cases a day for the first time. In New York State, cases have reached record levels around Buffalo and Rochester, with no signs of slowing.More questions than answers remain about the virus and which people it kills, and why. There has been no modern pandemic of this scale and sort for infectious-disease experts and public health officials to draw from. As with cancer or even the common cold, no one has solved all of Covid-19’s many mysteries.“You may be a person with cancer who gets exposed to very little virus and you’re going to get a severe presentation,” said Dr. Luis Ostrosky, an expert in infectious diseases at McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. “But you may be a young person without comorbidities who gets a massive exposure and you may get a severe presentation as well.”Months ago, there was a notion that the virus was a big-city phenomenon, as New York, Detroit, New Orleans and other urban centers were hard hit. It has become clear that is no longer true, if it ever was.The virus has torn through places on the southwestern border with Mexico, where cases are spiking around Nogales, Ariz., and up on the northern border with Canada, too, where the Roseau, Minn., area has set records. Los Angeles and Miami are current hot spots, but so are Ziebach County, S.D., and Deaf Smith County, Texas.ImageCredit...Ramsay de Give for The New York TimesThe poor, in particular, have been more at risk than the rich, according to analyses of those who have been sickened by the virus or succumbed to it.And new studies have suggested that the reason the virus has affected Black and Latino communities more than white neighborhoods is tied to social and environmental factors, not any innate vulnerability.According to one recent study of cellphone data, people in lower-income neighborhoods experienced significantly higher exposure risk to the virus because they were compelled to go to jobs outside their homes.Through early May, the number of people in the most affluent neighborhoods who stayed home all day increased by 27 percentage points, while those in the lowest-income areas increased by 11 percentage points, according to an analysis by social epidemiologists at the Boston University School of Public Health.“Neighborhoods matter,” said Molly Scannell Bryan, a research assistant professor at the Institute for Minority Health Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “In Chicago, both your race and the race of your neighborhood affected where high death rates were.”Men are dying from the coronavirus at higher rates than women, data has shown. Some researchers suggest that one explanation is that men are generally in poorer health than women, more likely to smoke or have heart disease. By early December, at least 135,000 men had died from the virus in the United States, compared with at least 114,000 women, according to federal data.There are differences by state and by city, however. Women are more likely than men to die of the virus in Connecticut, but men are more likely than women to die in Arizona, New Jersey and the District of Columbia, according to research from the GenderSci Lab at Harvard, which created a tracker on gender disparities related to Covid-19.One of the key at-risk demographics are older Americans who live in nursing homes and similar facilities.More than 787,000 residents and employees of at least 28,000 nursing homes and long-term care centers for older people in the United States have contracted the coronavirus, according to a New York Times analysis based on federal, state, local and facility-level data. Of those infected, more than 106,000 have perished.The virus is known to be particularly lethal to those in their 60s and older who have underlying health conditions. And it can spread easily through congregate facilities, where many people live in a confined environment and workers move from room to room.ImageCredit...Grant Hindsley for The New York TimesAfter her husband’s nursing home in Boone, N.C., stopped allowing family members to enter the facility because of coronavirus risks, Doris Greer stood outside his window three or four times a week. They had a routine.Richard H. Greer, 79, who had heart problems and could not walk after a stroke, would call and ask his wife to bring their dogs, a Rat Terrier and “Boston Weiner” named Macy and Teton. Ms. Greer would drive over and a nursing home employee would slide Mr. Greer’s window open just a little bit, and the two would talk through the screen.Since March, Ms. Greer had prayed that the coronavirus would not make its way into her husband’s facility, but she thought her husband was well protected because he rarely, if ever, left his room.Then one day in the fall, she arrived at the window and a worker told her that her husband had tested positive and that they could not talk. His condition soon deteriorated.She was permitted to go into the facility briefly in September in protective gear. Mr. Greer was on oxygen and unconscious. Joined by her sister, she then went back outside and sat by his window and talked to him. She stayed until it was very late and then came back to the window the next morning.“I don’t know if he could hear me,” Ms. Greer said. “I just told him he was OK and that I loved him.”She was still there at the window when he died later that day.Manny Fernandez reported from Houston, Julie Bosman and Mitch Smith from Chicago, and Amy Harmon and Danielle Ivory from New York. Patricia Mazzei contributed reporting from Miami.

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The news for processors and system-on-chip (SoC) products thesedays is all about 64-bit cores powering the latest computers andsmartphones, so it's easy to be misled into thinking that all 32-bittechnology is obsolete. That quickly leads to the idea of removing supportfor 32-bit hardware, which would clearly make life easier for kerneldevelopers in a number of ways.

At the same time, a majority of embedded systems shipped today do use 32-bitprocessors, so a valid question is if this will ever change, or if 32-bitwill continue to be the best choice for devices that do not requiresignificant resources.


To find an answer, it is worth taking a look at different types of systemssupported in Linux today, how they have evolved over time with theintroduction of 64-bit processors, why they remain popular, and whatchallenges these face today and in the future.

32-Bit desktops

Linux was first written as a desktop system for IBM PC compatibles, and waseventually ported to almost every other desktop platform available in the1990s, including a lot of the early Unix workstations across allarchitectures.Over time, all of these were replaced with 64-bit machines or theydisappeared from the market, or in case of Unix workstations, both. Theearliest i386, Arm, MIPS, and PowerPC processors all got phased out overtime, but a lot of others still remain.


The table shows the 32-bit desktop platforms that proved popular enough tomake it into mainline Linux and stay there, supported mainly by loyalhobbyists:




PlatformArchitecturesEarliest supported machineLast supported 32-bit machineEnd of marketingReplaced by


Unix workstation

m68k

MIPSSPARC

PA-RISC

PowerPC

Sun-3/60

(1985)


IBM RS/6000 43P-240,

HP Visualize B180L

(1997)

1999

x86 Linux, 64-bit Unix

Apple Macintosh

m68kPowerPCia32

Mac II (1987)

Macbook(2006)

2007

x86-64, arm64 Mac

IBM compatible PC

ia32

PS/2 model 70 486

(1989)

Intel Atom D270 Netbooks(2009)

2011

x86-64 PC

Amiga

m68k

PowerPC

A2500

(1989)

AmigaOne SE(2003)

2004

-

Atari

m68k

Atari TT(1990)

Falcon(1992)

1993

-

Acorn RiscPC

Arm

StrongARM RiscPC

(1996)

StrongARM RiscPC J233

(1997)

2003

-

Netwinder

Arm

x86

Netwinder “Frog” (1999)

NetWinder 3100 (2001)

2001

-

Android Tablet/Laptop

Arm

ia32MIPS

Nexus 7(2012)

Various, Android 8(2019)

Ongoing

arm64

ChromeOS

Arm

Samsung 303c

(2012)

Asus Chromebook Flip (2015)

2017

x86-64, arm64

Baikal T1

MIPS

Tavolga Terminal

(2018)

Tavolga Terminal

(2018)

Ongoing

arm64





Android tablets using Armv7 processors are the only platform from the listabove thatremains widely available in 2020, but the end of marketing is in sight here aswell. Tablets based on 64-bit Armv8 CPUs are not just more powerful butoften also cheaper. Mainline support for many 32-bit Android tablets isonly starting to get added to the kernel. (For those who are unfamiliarwith the taxonomy of Arm processor variants, thistable describes them all).


The Baikal T1 chip is a curiosity, as it only exists for the Russiandomestic market to avoid relying on chip imports. It too has an Armv8successor, but that is not yet widely deployed. Kernel support for theBaikal T1 was added in 2020.

Traditional embedded Linux

The use of Linux in embedded devices started in the late 1990s and, overtime, spread to around 30 architectures, largely replacingother embedded operating systems. A lot of these were custom architecturesmade by companies that build system-on-chip designs around their own CPUcores. Over time, licensable CPU IP cores took over, with MIPS, PowerPC,x86, and SuperH cores being popular until Arm started replacing them.


These are the most recent licensable 32-bit generations for each of themain processor families supported in Linux-5.10:





Core

Architecture

Introduced

Replacement

New Architecture

Renesas SH-4A

SuperH

2004

(Licensed from Arm)

Armv7-A, Armv8-A

AMCC PowerPC 460

Power ISA 2.03

2006

X-Gene

Armv8-A

IBM PowerPC 470

Power ISA 2.04

2008

IBM A2

ppc64le

Freescale e500mc

Power ISA 2.06

2008

(Licensed from Arm)

Armv7-A, Armv8-A

MIPS Warrior P5600

MIPS32r5

2014

P6600, I8500

MIPS64r6, RV64

Arm Cortex-A17

Armv7-A

2014

(various)

Armv8-A

Cadence Xtensa LX7

Xtensa LX

2016

(unknown)

(unknown)

Andes D15F

NDS32v3

2017

A25, AX25

RV32, RV64

OpenCores mor1kx v5

OpenRISC 1000

2017

(various)

RV32, RV64

Microblaze v10.0

Microblaze32

2017

Microblaze v11.0

Microblaze32,Microblaze64

ARC HS4x

ARCv2

2017

HS5x, HS6x

ARCv3 (32/64 bit)

MIPS Warrior I7200

nanoMIPS

2017

I8100

RV64

T-HEAD CK870

C-SKY v2

2018

C910

RV64

Gaisler LEON5

SPARCv8

2019

NOEL-V

RV64


As the table shows, almost all of these cores have introduced 64-bitreplacements from their original designers, but most manufacturers keep on supportingthe 32-bit versions as well. Hitachi (now Renesas) and Freescale (now NXP) introduced64-bit core designs of their SuperH and PowerPC cores, but subsequentlyabandoned them in favor of licensed Arm Cortex-A cores.


The OpenRISC project is still active, but a lot of its contributors havemoved on to working on RISC-V designs. Cadence Tensilica has not announceda replacement for the Xtensa LX7 but is apparently focusing on its DSPcores.


Some CPU cores end up being used for a long time in new SoCs. For instance,the Arm9 CPU was originally created in 1998, with the Arm926EJ-S updatefrom 2001 still making it into the new Microchip SAM9X60 in 2019. Not onlythat, Microchip also still supports mainline Linux on its ancestor, the2003 vintage AT91RM9200, and promises to sell it as long as there isdemand.


The manufacturers' specifications for product longevity of a part cangive some indication of how long it will be used, but this is notalways the same as the time for which it will receive kernel upgrades. Manyembedded systems are shipped with an old kernel and never upgraded, othersmay be required to get periodic upgrades many years after the last one hasshipped.


These are some more examples of notable chips that are built on older coresor CPU architectures but will remain in production for several years tocome, usually side by side with more powerful and newer Armv7 or Armv8based parts.




SoC name

CPU

Introduced

Armv7/v8Replacement

Projected EOL

Renesas SH7734

SH-4A

2010

RZ, R-Car series

March 2025

NXP QorIQ P3041

PowerPC e500mc

2010

QorIQ Layerscape

June 2025

NXP MCF5441x

Coldfire v4 (m68k)

2010

i.MX

September 2025

Broadcom BCM2835

Arm1176JZF-S

2011

BCM2836+

January 2026

Qualcomm QCA9531

MIPS 24Kc

2014

IPQ series



Intel Quark SE C1000

Quark (486-like)

2015

-

July 2022

Allwinner F1C200s

Arm926EJ-S

2017

sunxi series



Microchip SAM9X60

Arm926EJ-S

2019

SAMA5



DM&P Vortex86EX2

Dual i686-like

2019

-

February 2029

Mediatek MT7621DAT

MIPS 1004Kc

2019

MT7622



Ingenic X2000

Xburst2 (MIPS32r5)

2020

-






The end-of-life date in this table usually refers to themanufacturer’s last guaranteed shipment date, often 10 or 15 yearsafter the introduction, but for popular chips like the BCM2835, kernelupdates may be needed long after the last chip has been sold. The m68k-basedColdfire MCF5441x is interesting because it represents the oldestarchitecture that Linux runs on, and it will still be sold until at least2025, which is 40 years after the introduction of its Sun-3 ancestor, theoldest machine with Linux support. At that point it will have outlivedalmost every other 32-bit architecture that was meant to replace it.


The more recent examples tend to be built as system-in-package processorsthat include 32 to 256 megabytes of DRAM. This helps further reduce boarddesign cost, which is the main reason to use any of these parts instead ofthe more common Armv7 alternatives in new designs.

Microcontrollers and DSPs

The line between an SoC and a microcontroller can be hard todraw. Typically a microcontroller is a highly integrated system that leavesout one or more of the essential parts of a modern SoC: a memory-managementunit (MMU), data cache, external DRAM memory, or sometimes anIEEE-754-compatible floating-point unit. Linux does not strictly requireany of those, but running without an MMU in particular limits theapplications that can be used on the system.

Digital signal processors (DSPs) are another special class ofprocessor. Like the now-removed Blackfin architecture, both the Texas Instruments C6x andQualcomm Hexagon DSPs are capable of running Linux in a limited way, butthis rarely seems to happen. Typically, these processors instead runbare-metal code and communicate with Linux running on an Arm core on thesame chip.


Support for MMU-less processors was merged into Linux-2.5.45 in 2002 andhas been proclaimed to be dying ever since. At its height, 12 MMU-less CPUarchitectures were supported, but most of those are obsolete and no longerwork with mainline kernels. The following are some of the still-supportedSoCs as of Linux-5.10:




MCU name

CPU

Introduced

NXP MCF537x

Coldfire v3

2007

NXP LPC4357

Cortex-M4

2012

TI TMS320C6678

C66

2014

J-core FPGA SoC

J2

2016

ST STM32H7

Cortex-M7

2016

Mediatek MT3620

Cortex-A7

2017

NXP i.MX RT1050

Cortex-M7

2017

Kendryte K210

RV64

2018

Espressif ESP32-S2

Xtensa LX7

2019




The most active microcontroller platform running Linux is now the STM32series. These can be even cheaper than the low-end MIPS32 or Armv5 chips,so they are sometimes used when manufacturing cost is more important thanperformance or the additional development effort. Power consumption andphysical size can also be reasons to use them. Some products have shippedrunning inside the built-in 2MB of SRAM, others use external DRAM or PSRAM,which again increases cost.


Kernel support for the i.MX RT series, MT3620, and ESP32 exists out of treebut has not been submitted for inclusion in mainline Linux. The KendryteK210 is special for being a 64-bit MMU-less CPU system; the kernel portmainly exists because there are still no other low-cost RISC-V chips withLinux support. The Mediatek MT3620 is another special case, it is designedfor the Microsoft Azure Sphere and does have an MMU, but runs Linux in only4MB of integrated SRAM.


Linux on microcontrollers competes with a wide range of open-sourcerealtime operating systems includingZephyr,NuttX,Mbed, andFreeRTOS.These tend to need less memory and are better suited for runningwithout a memory-management unit.

Linux on Armv7-A

It's hard to overstate the impact that Armv7 has had on embeddedcomputing. This can be largely attributed to the never-ending demand forfaster and more efficient processors in smartphones. Over the evolutionfrom the high-endNokia N96 in 2008 to this year's Apple iPhone 12, we see a 10x increasein clock frequency, an 8x increase in pipeline width, and a 6x increase inthe number of cores.


The Cortex-A9 managed to surpass practically all competing 32-bit cores ofthe time. It combined the advantages of an out-of-order pipeline, up tofour cores, NEON SIMD, and 40nm manufacturing, and went on to become the mostsuccessful licensable 32-bit CPU core of all time. In Linux-5.10, there are452 devicetree files based on 76 SoCs, or 30 SoC families, far morethan any other Arm core, and more than all non-Arm machines combined.


While the popular Cortex-A9 was the most advanced core in the firstgeneration of Armv7-A, which includes Cortex-A8, Cortex-A5, PJ4, andScorpion, the second generation Armv7VE cores ended up with theopposite situation. The high-end Cortex-A15, Cortex-A17, Brahma-B15, andKrait cores made a big entrance in mobile phones, automotive, and networkingequipment from 2012 to 2013, but as they ran into limitations of the32-bit virtual address space, they were quickly replaced with the emerging64-bit Armv8 based products.


Cortex-A7, in comparison, is a relatively simple, in-order CPU core, but onthe typical 28nm process it beats a 40nm Cortex-A9 in performance andoutclasses it in power consumption and die area. It also offers many of thefeatures of the Armv8 cores that were integrated into Armv7VE:virtualization, large physical address extensions (LPAE), up to eight cores,big.LITTLE configurations, and hardware integer division. Seven years afterits launch, Cortex-A7 remains the most common option for new low-costembedded SoCs with two or four cores, most commonly paired with around256MB of DDR3L memory per core either inside a system-in-package or on the board.


Cortex-A9 and Cortex-A7 together with their 64-bit counterparts havereplaced most other 32-bit architectures in embedded systems, including theMIPS32r2 cores that were common in wireless networking SoCs untilabout 2017. The 64-bit Cortex-A53 is now used in more SoCs than theCortex-A7, but is still behind the Cortex-A9.


There are two obvious factors that will determine the eventual demise ofArmv7-A:

A system that needs more than 2GB of memory orhigher performance than a quad-core Cortex-A7 ends up on 64-bithardware. Cortex-A7 is not available below 28nm semiconductortechnology and loses its cost advantage over 64-bit cores as 22nm and 14nmprocesses get cheaper.The Cortex-A32 core is a 32-bit version of the 64-bit Cortex-A35 that couldtheoretically address both the performance and the manufacturing points,but so far no SoC has been built around it. Apparently there is simply nopoint in using a feature-reduced core when the Cortex-A35 can do all thesame things but also support 64-bit code at only a marginally highercost. This means that, unless a new 32-bit Arm or RISC-V core manages totake over the extreme low end, Cortex-A7 will be the end of the line for32-bit Linux.






This graph shows how many SoCs use each of the Armv7 CPU cores over time asthe kernel adds devicetree source files for each one. Cortex-A9 initiallysaw the highest growth but has stagnated since, along with all cores otherthan the Cortex-A7. This timeline is delayed from the introduction of thehardware because support for older SoCs is sometimes added many years afterthe hardware was built.


Looking at individual boards, there would be an additional delay based onhow long an SoC is used in new products.

Year 2038

It is well understood that many 32-bit systems will stop working in theyear 2038 when the 32-bit time_t overflows. Extrapolating from thecurrent popularity of Armv7 SoCs and the time that chips for older architecturesare getting deployed, it seems likely that 32-bit hardware runningLinux will be sold well into the 2030s and in some cases stay in use fordecades after a product has first shipped, so this is a very real threat.

After years of work, the kernel itself is now completely converted tousing 64-bit time_t internally, and the musl C library hasswitched over, but any distributions based on the GNU C Library (glibc) are stillaffected by this problem and need to be rebuilt against a future version ofthe library once its 64-bit time support has been completed.

The degree to which distributions will be rebuilt is an open question,given the declining interest in 32-bit architectures among developers. Many binarydistributions, like Fedora, Ubuntu, and openSUSE Leap, have dropped supportfor all 32-bit architectures other than Armv7 and are likely to drop thatas well before they would consider rebuilding against a new glibc.


Debian still supports its official ports to Armv5 (armel), Armv7 (armhf),x86-32 (i386), and MIPS32r2 (mipsel), as well as non-official 32-bit portsto PowerPC, SuperH, PA-RISC, Motorola 68000, and x32. The port to Armv7 islikely to outlive all the other architectures the way it did on the otherdistributions, possibly for another ten years after the remaining ones aregone. This means there will likely be embedded users that wantDebian armhf to work beyond 2038.


While there was a plan to moveto a time64 glibc for Debian 11 (Bullseye) on armhf, theearliest possible release is now Debian 12 (Bookworm). There are still openquestions regarding whether this should replace the existing armhf port orwhether it needs to be able to coexist as a multiarch target with a new name andtarget triplet, which adds more work. These questions may become moot ifthere is not enough interest among porters to keep Debian supported on32-bit architectures in the future, which does seem to be a growing problem.


In embedded systems that compile everything from source using theYocto Project,Buildroot,OpenWRT, or similar distributions, thereis usuallyalready an option to use the musl-1.2 library to get full supportfor 64-bit time_t, if this isn't already the default.

Highmem

When a 32-bit system has more physical RAM than it can map into its linearvirtual address space, anything outside of that linear mapping is calledhighmem and requires using the kmap(), kmap_atomic(),or the newkmap_thread() helpers to be accessible temporarily from kernelcode. Requiring all user-space memory access to be written based on theseinterfaces is a burden to not just 32-bit architectures but also 64-bitones. Given the observation that 32-bit systems with a lot of memory areactually getting rarer over time, the question ofdeprecating highmem comesup on a regular basis.


This is a list of common 32-bit systems with large memory requirements, toshow which machines would be impacted the most from deprecating highmem:



Platform

Maximum memory

Introduced

Processor

Typical application

Intel Xeon MP

64 GB

2002

Netburst (x86)

Server

Calxeda Midway

16 GB

2013

Cortex-A15

Server

HiSilicon HiP04

16 GB

2014

Cortex-A15

Server

Annapurna AL5140

8 GB

2014

Cortex-A15

NAS Server

NXP QorIQ P4080

16 GB

2008

e500mp (ppc32)

Networking

Intel Axxia 5500

8 GB

2013

Cortex-A15

Networking

TI Keystone 2

8 GB

2013

Cortex-A15

Networking

Marvell Armada XP

8 GB

2012

PJ4B-MP

Networking

Nvidia Tegra K1 (T124)

8 GB

2014

Cortex-A15

Industrial

Renesas RZ/G1H

8 GB

2016

Cortex-A15

Industrial

NXP i.MX 6QuadPlus

4 GB

2015

Cortex-A9

Industrial

Baikal T1

8 GB

2015

MIPS P5600

PC

Rockchips RK3288

4 GB

2014

Cortex-A17

Chromebook

Samsung Exynos 5800

4 GB

2013

Cortex-A15

Chromebook

Intel Core Duo

3 GB

2006

P6 (x86)

Laptop

NXP MPC7448

2 GB

2005

PowerPC G4

Laptop



The largest configurations appear in large server systems that werereplaced with larger, 64-bit server systems many years ago. The same istrue for most 32-bit PC and laptop systems with 2GB of memory ormore. Early Chromebooks used Cortex-A15 or A17 CPU cores with 4GB ofmemory; they have stopped getting software updates in June 2020 but are oftenstill in active use and can run modern Armv7 Linux distributions as along-term alternative.


For embedded industrial and networking systems, 32-bit configurationswith up to 8GB exist and still require future kernel updates, but they arerare as the practical configuration is limited by the available DDR3memory they use. A board with 8GB of DDR3 memory needs eight 8Gb chips that areexpensive and not widely available, or sixteen 4Gb chips in a multi-ranksetup and complex board layout. Later 64-bit SoCs in comparison often useLP-DDR4 memory that supports up to 8GB with a single 64Gb chip.


Configurations with 2GB or 4GB of DDR3 or LP-DDR3 memory are common enough onCortex-A15-based embedded systems that they will have to be supported for along time. Cheaper Cortex-A7 based SoCs, instead, have a single narrowDDR3 interface, which limits the practical configurations to one or twochips with either 2Gb or 4Gb each, and avoids the use of highmem whenall memory fits into a 1GB low-memory area. LP-DDR4 or other technologies thatallow higher capacity are rarely used on these cheapest SoCs, because theytend to be more expensive for small configurations.


A rough plan for removing highmem, based these observations, could unfoldlike this:


Support for highmem gets worse over time, as the kernel is modified towork better on 64-bit systems while adding larger overhead on 32-bitkernels. This can be seen happening with the kmap_thread()addition.

32-Bit machines with the largest memory configurations, includingeverything over 4GB, are rare enough that they can eventually stop gettingkernel updates. Keystone2 and GZ/G1H are among those that still need kernelupdates on 8GB machines for the moment, i.MX6 with 4GB is in a similarsituation.

Compressed swap pages in the highmem area might still be used on laterkernels for that hardware, instead of directly providing high memory pagesto user space.

SoCs based on Armv7VE cores (Cortex-A7, -A15, and A17) inconfigurations with 2-4GB of RAM can move to the work-in-progresssupport for CONFIG_VMSPLIT_4G_4G that will allow accessing closeto 4GB of physical memory while also providing 4GB of virtual memory forprocesses. This comes at a higher performance cost than highmem but, sinceit is basedon features of the Armv7 MMU, will not be nearly as badas the comparable feature that was used on x86 in the past.

The same trick as Armv7VE might also be used on Baikal T1 with itsMIPS32r5 processor, but is harder to implement there. Older MIPS32 machinesonly support up to 512 MB of low memory due to hardware limitations.

Other 32-bit architectures can use CONFIG_VMSPLIT_2G_OPT tomake up to 2GB of physical memory available without highmem support, at thecost of reduced user virtual memory. This would include Cortex-A9 as wellas x86 and PowerPC machines, on which a CONFIG_VMSPLIT_4G_4Goption is unlikely to get implemented because of hardware limitations orlack of interest. If the plans for CONFIG_VMSPLIT_4G_4G work out, less than 1%of the machines should lose support for newer kernels after highmem getsremoved, and that number goes down as time passes. WithoutCONFIG_VMSPLIT_4G_4G on the other hand, losing support for aportion of the 32-bit machines might not be acceptable at all, so highmemwould have to remain an option for as long as users update their Armv7kernels.Either way, this topic will remain interesting for years tocome, as compromises continue to be made based on shifts in priority.

64-Bit hardware

The continued move towards 64-bit hardware means that most users no longerhave to worry about the problems of 32-bit systems such as the time_toverflow and limits of the virtual and physical address space, but this isnot true for everyone. For example:



There are a lot of legacy binaries that users may need to keeprunning, in particular on x86 machines, that have 30 years of backwardcompatibility including games ported from 32-bit Windows

Similarly, Android apps are often still being distributed as32-bit Arm binaries for the widest hardware compatibility in some markets,despite Google's push for apps in its own Play store to be builtfor 64-bit or architecture-independent.

As 64-bit processors take over the low-cost market, they get combinedwith smaller memory configurations, with as little as a single 2Gb DDR3system-in-package configuration for 256MB of physical memory. At thispoint, running 64-bit code has a significant overhead and there is astrong cost incentive to run 32-bit code instead of doubling the memorycapacity.The most common way to deal with this problem is to run a 64-bit kernel but bootinto an unmodified file system containing a 32-bit user space. This worksbecause the kernel has long supported both types of applications byimplementing a second set of system call entry points known simply as the"compat" layer for each interface that is incompatible. Thereare a few exceptions in device drivers that do not support compat tasks,but those are mostly limited to third-party modules outside of the mainlinekernel.


The same compat kernel support allows mixing 32-bit and 64-bit containerinstances, as well as mixing both types of applications inside of a single"multilib" or "multiarch" root filesystem. Usingcompat mode avoids most of the problems with highmem, but still requirescompiling all the 32-bit user application code with a time64-capable Clibrary to be able to run beyond year 2038.


On x86 and MIPS machines, another option is to run a 32-bit kernel directlyon 64-bit hardware, which provides better compatibility with device driversand lets users share both the kernel and root file system across 32-bit and64-bit hardware, but brings back the virtual address limitations of the32-bit kernel and will lack kernel features that are only available in64-bit builds. In theory, this is also possible on many Arm processors, butthere are many limitations:

Armv8 processors lack certaininstructions (setend, cp15 barriers,swp/swpb atomics) that may be used in older 32-bitbinaries. While the 64-bit kernel emulates these in compat mode, the 32-bitkernel emulation is less complete, so existing binaries that work on 64-bitArmv8 kernels as well as 32-bit Armv7 systems might not work on the same32-bit kernel running on Armv8 hardware.

Most CPU implementations require some errata workarounds in the kernelto work correctly. The 32-bit Arm kernel has workarounds for all Armv7cores, but not for Armv8 cores. This can result in undefined behavior anddata corruption in the worst case.

Many security features require 64-bit kernels, either because ofhardware limitations or missing implementation in 32-bit kernels. Thisincludes kernel page-table isolation("Meltdown" protection), kernel address-spacelayout randomization,PAN,UAO,BTI,PTR_AUTH, and hardwarecryptography. Runninga 32-bit kernel can therefore be less secure.

In general, this configuration is not well tested, as kerneldevelopers rightfully point to using 64-bit kernels as a betteralternative.

The latest generation of Armv8.2 cores have dropped hardware supportfor running 32-bit kernels completely. This includes the"little" Cortex-A55 as well as the all "big" coresstarting with Cortex-A76. These can still run 32-bit user space code incompat mode. Some future cores will drop 32-bit user mode as well, butit seems likely that there will still be "little" cores for aslong as there is demand for them. In fact it appears that there will be systems that can run 32-bit code only on some of the cores.


Despite these limitations, there have been large-scale deployments of32-bit Arm kernels on 64-bit hardware, notably in the Raspbian distributionthat manages to use the same code across Armv6 (Raspberry Pi 1 and Zero),Armv7-A (Raspberry Pi 2), and Armv8 (Raspberry Pi 3 and 4),as well as some low-end Android systems that appear to do this primarily to avoid thestricter Generic Kernel Image (GKI) rules that are required for shippingAndroid 10 with 64-bit Arm kernels.


Memory consumption by the kernel itself may turn out to be a reason tofinally add proper support for Armv8 processors to the 32-bit Arm kernel,to squeeze out the few last percent of usable memory in very smallmachines. As an estimate, there are multiple areas in which 64-bit kernelsadd an unavoidable overhead that can amount to dozens of megabytes:



The kernel image itself is roughly 50% larger compared to aThumb2-enabled Armv7 kernel. On a typical configuration, it can grow from10MB to 15MB, or more if the 64-bit configuration includes support foradditional hardware as is the case with Android GKI.

As each 4KB page in the system requires a struct pageentry that is typically 32 bytes larger on 64-bit kernels, one extramegabyte of memory is consumed for each 128MB of installed memory just tostore the mem_map array.

Each thread needs its own kernel stack, which is 16KB instead of8KB. This requires one extra megabyte for every 128 threads.

Page tables need one or two extra indirection levels to describe thelarger virtual address space, adding at least 4KB per process.

Slab caches in the kernel tend to be larger as well; in particular theinode cache can appear to use significant memory resources. Thisis harder to quantify, as the inode cache is dynamically sized; it grows aslong as memory is available but shrinks under memory pressure.


On processors that have no native 32-bit mode, it is also possible todefine an "ILP32"ELF format for 64-bit instructions. This is in fact available on both MIPS under the "n32" name and on x86as "x32". Neither of the two is widely deployed in practice,and the patches to add the same for 64-bit Arm kernels were never merged,in order to avoid fragmenting the ecosystem with incompatible binaryformats.


It appears that the emerging RISC-V SoCs designed to run Linux offer only64-bit mode. All the options available to Arm processors are theoreticallyavailable there as well, but in the absence of an established 32-bit RISC-VLinux ecosystem, it seems the architecture will end up largely skippingthat step entirely and instead accept the higher memoryconsumption. There are a few 32-bit RISC-V cores that include an MMU, suchas Rocket, Andes A25, VexRiscv, and Cloudbear BI-350, but so far, 32-bitRISC-V has only managed to make its way into microcontrollers, and while compat modeis theoretically possible with the architecture, neither the kernel noractual CPU implementations support it. An extreme example here is a recently announced low-cost SoC using a 64-bit RISC-V CPU with as little as64MB of RAM.


For the moment, 64-bit Arm processors hold the advantage over RISC-V,as they have two mature software ecosystems they can run, using morespace-efficient 32-bit user space for machines under 1GB. As memoryrequirements and capacities grow, more applications will run better whenbuilt for 64-bit and this difference becomes less important.

Conclusion

As a general rule, cutting-edge technology is short-lived as it quicklygets replaced with the next generation, while anything that performs itsfunction more cheaply than the competition can remain popular for a longtime, possibly decades. This effect can be seen with Motorola 68000architecture, the Arm9 CPU core, and the Raspberry Pi Zero board, which are alloutliving generations of superior replacements.

This effect gives hope to those waiting for the end of highmem, as the onlyhardware with memory configurations that require it was cutting-edge fiveor more years ago and can be expected to be retired within the next fiveyears.


The MMU-less microcontrollers and the smallest memory configurations forembedded systems may die a different death in the same time frame, as theseare often deployed in highly customized environments without a plan forkernel updates. Once the companies using them have stopped deployingsystems on new kernels, it may finally end, the same way that once-populararchitectures like Arm7TDMI or Blackfin disappeared in Linux.


In between those two extremes are a large number of embedded SoCs that arestill popular today, with Cortex-A7-based designs over time becoming theonly viable option for new 32-bit SoCs. These are cheaper and better thananything below them, while anything more powerful is in turn being replacedby 64-bit products. Once a 64-bit core beats the Cortex-A7 on performance,power consumption, and cost, this last market will move on to that for newproducts and 32-bit Linux kernels will only be needed for supportingexisting users. New board designs are likely to appear for five to tenyears after the last Armv7 chip has been created, but after that it cantake another decade before the remaining users finally stop upgrading theirkernels or replace their hardware. Index entries for this article KernelArchitectures GuestArticlesBergmann, Arnd


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Destiny waits for no god —

We have hopes for a less rocky S3 with new showrunner and several new cast members




Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) is hiding from the New Gods in Lakeside, Michigan in American Gods season 3 trailer.Shadow Moon flees to a small town in Wisconsin to escape the ongoing war between the Old Gods and the New Gods in the full trailer for the upcoming third season of American Gods. The visually striking (if narratively uneven) Starz series is adapted from the novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman.(Some spoilers for first two seasons below.)In season one, recently released convict Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) falls in with the mysterious Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) as his bodyguard after losing his wife, Laura (Emily Browning). But Mr. Wednesday is not who he seems. He's actually the ancient Norse god Odin, seeking to rally all the remaining Old Gods, who are slowly dying off from people's lack of belief. Their mission: beat back the encroaching influence of all the New Gods so they can survive. The New Gods are led by Mr. World (usually played by Crispin Glover, although he has many incarnations), i.e., globalization, and include Technical Boy (Bruce Langley)—reincarnated as Quantum Boy in S2—and Media (Gillian Anderson), reimagined as New Media (Kahyun Kim) in S2 when Anderson left the series.The first season covered roughly the first third of Gaiman's novel, culminating in a gathering of the gods at the home of the goddess Easter (Kristin Chenoweth), who inflicted widespread drought on Earth as Mr. Wednesday revealed his true identity. S2 largely covered the second third of the book, as the battle between the Old Gods and the New Gods heated up in earnest, with casualties on both sides. Frankly, the second season of American Gods was considerably weaker than the first—primarily due to a major showrunner shake-up and behind-the-scenes drama—although the seventh episode, "Treasure of the Sun" was among the series' best (it's one of Gaiman's favorites, too). It gave us more of Mad Sweeney's (Pablo Schreiber) backstory and ended with him being speared on Mr.  Wednesday's reforged sword, Gungnir.But before he died, the wily leprechaun magicked the sword into his Otherworld hoard where Wednesday couldn't retrieve it. Laura, who had bonded with Sweeney, swore to kill Mr. Wednesday in revenge, and took Sweeney's body with her when she left. Shadow ultimately discovers he is actually Mr. Wednesday's son, and a demigod, and ends the season by taking a bus headed north, with a mysterious new identity to shield him from the machinations of the New Gods.Gaiman confirmed at the 2018 New York Comic Con that S3 would cover the last third of the book, although he hinted last year of a planned fourth season. So it's possible the ten-episode third season might not wrap up the book's conclusion—or perhaps Gaiman has ideas for moving beyond the book with his new showrunner, Charles "Chic" Eglee (The Walking Dead).  Per the official S3 premise:American Gods is the epic story of an inevitable war building between the Old Gods of mythology and our New Gods of technology. Ricky Whittle stars as ex-con Shadow Moon, a man pulled into the service of the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, played by Ian McShane—only to discover that not only is his charismatic but un-trustable boss actually the Norse All-Father god Odin, he’s also...Shadow’s father. In S3, Shadow angrily pushes this apparent destiny away, and settles in the idyllic snowy town of Lakeside, Wisconsin to make his own path, guided by the gods of his black ancestors, the Orishas. But he’ll soon discover that this town's still waters run deep, and dark, and bloody, and that you don’t get to simply reject being a god. The only choice—and a choice you have to make—is what kind of god you’re going to be.There's been some shakeups in the casting this season. Obviously Mad Sweeney is no more, but Iwan Rheon (best known as the sadistic Ramsey Bolton on Game of Thrones) will play another leprechaun who will likely join up with Laura, based on the new trailer. Orlando Jones, who played Mr. Nancy, aka the Ghanian trickster god Anansi, was fiercely outspoken about his displeasure at being fired from the show, accusing Eglee of cutting out his character because Eglee felt it was the "wrong message for America." (A series spokesman denied the allegation and said the casting change was due to Mr. Nancy not being featured in the portion of the novel being covered by S3.) Mousa Kraish, who played the fiery-eyed gay Jinn, is also not returning for S3, although Omid Abtahi, who played the Jinn's lover, Salim, remains a series regular. Other new cast members include Blythe Danner as Demeter, Greek goddess of the harvest, who has a past romantic history with Wednesday; Herizen Guardiola as Oshun, Yoruban goddess of love and fertility; Marilyn Manson as a former "berserker," now lead singer with a Viking death metal band; Julia Sweeney as the self-appointed mayor of Lakeside; Eric Johnson as Lakeside's chief of police; Lela Loren as a local Lakeside reporter; Dominique Jackson as a female incarnation of Mr. World; and Danny Trejo as yet another incarnation of Mr. Word. (Globalization has many faces.)American Gods S3 debuts on Starz on January 10, 2021. Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) flees to Lakeside, Wisconsin under a new name. YouTube/Starz The town mayor (Julia Sweeney) assures him he'll fit right in. YouTube/Starz Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) still needs Shadow's support in his war against the New Gods. YouTube/Starz At least he still has an ally in Czernobog (Peter Storemare), Slavic god of darkness and death. YouTube/Starz Blythe Danner plays Demeter, Greek goddess of the harvest. YouTube/Starz Omid Abtahi returns as Salim, this time without his Jinn lover from past seasons. YouTube/Starz What would American Gods be without visions of the fiery-eyed beast? YouTube/Starz We'll be getting more flashbacks to the gods' rich history. YouTube/Starz Crispin Glover will reprise his role as Mr. World, leader of the New Gods YouTube/Starz Technical Boy is now Quantum Boy (Bruce Langley). YouTube/Starz Dominique Jackson is Ms. World, a female incarnation of Mr. World. YouTube/Starz Mr. World has many incarnations—like Danny Trejo. YouTube/Starz Marilyn Manson is a former berserker who fronts a Viking death metal band. Because of course. YouTube/Starz Laura Moon (Emily Browning) meets up with another leprechaun (Iwan Rheon). YouTube/Starz What will be Shadow Moon's (and Mr. Wednesday's) fate? YouTube/Starz


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Today we are releasing to our Beta customers a new capability that will revolutionize how you build formulas in Excel. Excel formulas are the world’s most widely used programming language, yet one of the more basic principles in programming has been missing, and that is the ability to use the formula language to define your own re-usable functions.

=LAMBDASimply put, LAMBDA allows you to define your own custom functions using Excel’s formula language. Excel already allows you to define custom functions, but only by writing them in an entirely different language such as JavaScript.  In contrast, LAMBDA allows you to define a custom function in Excel’s own formula language.   Moreover, one function can call another, so there is no limit to the power you can deploy with a single function call. For folks with a computer science background, you’re probably already familiar with the concept of lambdas, and the introduction of LAMBDA makes the Excel formula language Turing Complete...

Reusable Custom FunctionsWith LAMBDA, you can take any formula you’ve built in Excel and wrap it up in a LAMBDA function and give it a name (like “MYFUNCTION”). Then anywhere in your sheet, you can refer to MYFUNCTION, re-using that custom function throughout your sheet. I’ll show a couple examples below.

Recursion Reusable functions is reason enough to start taking advantage of LAMBDA, but there’s one more thing… you can do recursion. If you create a LAMBDA called MYFUNCTION for example, you can call MYFUNCTION within the definition of MYFUNCTION. This is something that before, was only possible in Excel through script (like VBA/JavaScript). I’ll also show an example below of how you can leverage this to build things that were not possible before without writing script.

Reusable Custom FunctionsOne of the more challenging parts of working with formulas in Excel is that you often get fairly complex formulas that are re-used numerous times through the sheet (often by just copy/pasting). This can make it hard for others to read and understand what’s going on, put you more at risk of errors, and make it hard to find and fix the errors. With LAMBDA, you have re-use and composability. Create libraries for any pieces of logic you plan to use multiple times. It offers convenience and reduces the risk of errors.

Station IDsFor example, imagine I have a list of station IDs, where the state is encoded in the ID, and I want to pull that value out:



There are many ways to do this with Excel functions, here’s how I did it (I’m sure many of you have much more efficient ways to doing this… forgive me… I know for example the team would remind me I should take advantage of the LET function)

=LEFT(RIGHT(B18,LEN(B18)-FIND("-",B18)),FIND("-",RIGHT(B18,LEN(B18)-FIND("-",B18)))-1)If I take that formula and copy it down the column, I can get the results shown in the table above.

There are two challenges with this approach:

Errors - If I find an error in my logic that I need to fix, I have to go back and update it everywhere it was used, and I might miss some. Additionally, there’s added risk whenever you have complex formulas repeated over & over again as opposed to defined just once and then referenced. If for example, there are some station IDs that look like this “105532-872332-WA-73”, my formula would not work with those. If I find this error and want to fix it, I then need to go back to every cell where I used that logic and update it.Composability/Readability - If I’m not the original author, it’s hard to know what the intention of that formula is (to pull out the location). It’s also hard to use this logic in combination with other logic, like if I want to take the station ID and do a lookup based on the calculated location.

Using LAMBDA, I can create a function named GETLOCATION, and put the formula logic in the definition for that function.

=GETLOCATION

=LAMBDA(stationID, LEFT(RIGHT(stationID,LEN(stationID)-FIND("-",stationID)),FIND("-",RIGHT(stationID,LEN(stationID)-FIND("-",stationID)))-1))Notice I specify the arguments my function will take (in this case stationID) and the logic for my function. Now in my spreadsheet, I can simply write GETLOCATION as a formula and reference the cell that has the stationID, just like any other Excel function. If I notice I have an error, I fix it in one place, and everywhere that uses that function is fixed.



Another added benefit, is that I can now compose that function with additional logic. For example, if I had a table of tax rates for each location, I could write this simple formula to return the rate based on the stationID.

=XLOOKUP(GETLOCATION(B18), table1[locations], table1[tax]).

OK, lot’s more to drill into here around how you can use this capability to build up a rich set of function libraries, make your sheets easier to understand and less error prone, etc. These functions can even take data types as arguments. We’ll post an example later of a custom function that takes two cities as input and calculates the distance between them using the geo coordinates and the radius of the earth to perform the calculation.

Let’s shift into the other big impact this will have on what you can build in Excel. This one is a bit more complex, but is pretty revolutionary for us… recursion.

RecursionOne of the big missing pieces in Excel formulas has been the ability to loop… to repeat over a set of logic at a dynamically defined interval. There are ways that you can manually configure the interval at which Excel recalculates to mimic this to an extent, but it’s not inherent to the formula language. That changes with LAMBDA.

Let’s take an example, albeit a bit contrived, but it’s a simple way to get the point across.Imagine I have a set of strings, and I want to specify which characters should be removed from those strings dynamically:



Because the set of characters you’re specifying are not static, there really isn’t any good way of doing this. If you knew it was always a fixed set of characters, you could do a ton of nested logic, but that would be pretty complex and error prone to author. Not to mention, if the number of characters to be removed was larger than what you’d accounted for, it would fail.

With LAMBDA, we can create a function called REPLACECHARS that references itself allowing you to iterate over the list of characters to be removed:

=REPLACECHARS=LAMBDA(textString, illegalChars,     IF(illegalChars="", textstring,       REPLACECHARS(        SUBSTITUTE(textString, LEFT(illegalChars, 1), ""),        RIGHT(illegalChars, LEN(illegalChars)-1))))Notice that in the definition of REPLACECHARS, there is a reference to REPLACECHARS. The IF statement says if there are no more illegal characters, return the input textString, and otherwise remove each occurrence of the leftmost character in illegalChars. Recursion kicks in with the request to call REPLACECHARS again with the updated string, and the rest of illegalChars. This means it will keep calling itself until it has parsed over every character to be removed, giving the desired result.



Not just numbers & stringsIf you’ve been following the Excel improvements over the past couple years, you probably noticed two significant improvements with the type of data you can work with in Excel:

Dynamic arrays - Rather than passing a single value into a function, you can pass an array of values, and functions can also return arrays of values. You can learn more about arrays here.Data Types – The value stored in a cell is no longer just a string or a number. A single cell can contain a rich data type, with a large set of properties. You can learn more about data types here.

Functions can take data types and arrays as arguments, and they can also return results as data types and arrays. The same is true with the lambdas you build.

Let’s take an example... I have a list of cities, and I want to calculate the total distance I’d travel if I were to go to each city in order.

We’ll post the code for this one in a later post, but it’s pretty basic:

We have an array of City data types. The city data type has the latitude & longitude properties.With latitude & longitude, we can do some basic math using the radius of the earth to approximate the distance between two points (that’s the first Lambda we call DistanceBetweenCities)We create a recursive lambda, DistanceBetweenMultipleCities, to iterate over the cities in the array. In addition to calling itself, to iterate over the list of cities, it also calls the DistanceBetweenCities function to get a running total of the distance traveled.



Try it yourselfIf you are in our Beta program, you can try it now yourself. We’d love your feedback as we continue to improve on this new capability.

Note: The lambda function is available to members of the Insiders: Beta program running Windows and Mac builds of Excel. Learn more about how to become an Insider here

LAMBDA OverviewThere are three key pieces of =LAMBDA to understand:

LAMBDA function componentsNaming a lambdaCalling a lambda function


LAMBDA function componentsLet’s look at an example which creates a basic lambda function.

Suppose we have the following formula:=LAMBDA(x, x+122)In this, x is the argument you can pass in when calling the LAMBDA, and x+122 is the logic.

For example, suppose you called the lambda and input the value 1 for x, Excel would do the following calculation:1 + 122Which, as we all know:1 + 122 = 123But how do you use these? If you've been pasting our examples into Excel, you may have noticed some #CALC! errors. To resolve those, you'll need to learn the next step.

Naming a lambdaTo give your LAMBDA a name so it can be re-used, you will want to make use of the Name Manager.

The Name Manager can be found in the Ribbon by going to:Formulas > Name Manager


Once you open the Name Manager you will see the following window


From this point you’ll want to create a new entry (New…) and fill out the associated fields

Name: The Name of your functionComment: A description and associated tooltip which will be shown when calling your functionRefers to: Your lambda function definition

Once you’re done, you can hit “OK” to store your lambda and you should see the definition returned in the resultant window.

And that’s it! Now you can make use of your newly crafted custom function in the workbook by calling it by its name. 

Calling LAMBDATo put it simply, you call a lambda function the same way you call native functions in Excel.

To illustrate this, lets revisit the previous example and show how to call MYLAMBDA with a value.=MYLAMBDA(122)Which of course returns the value:123One last thing to note, is that you can call a lambda without naming it. If we hadn’t named the previous formula, and just authored it in the grid, we could call it like this:=LAMBDA(x, x+122)(1)This passes in 1 for x, which returns123

Just the beginning... join us for the journeyAs you’ve probably noticed, we are improving the product on a regular basis. The desktop version of Excel for Windows & Mac updates monthly, and the web app much more frequently than that. We have a ton of improvements already planned for LAMBDA, but we’re looking to you for feedback along the way. One that I can tell you gets me every time is the experience of editing in the name manager... definitely lots of room for improvement there. We’ll also add some more array manipulation functions in the coming months that will help you build even more powerful lambdas taking more advantage of dynamic arrays.

Office InsidersJoin the Office Insider Program and choose the Beta Channel to get early access to LAMBDA in Excel. 

To give feedback and suggestions, click Help > Feedback, and Add #LAMBDA in your feedback so that we can easily find input about the feature. You can also post in the Excel Tech Community.

Connect with usStay connected with us.  Join our Excel Tech Community and check out this LAMBDA sample. Let us know what you think and we’d love to see what you build with LAMBDA!

Learn moreTo learn more about LAMBDA, please check out our help article and in the meantime we are excited to hear more from you about the LAMBDA formulas you have created!

LAMBDA Help



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Image: BioWare In honor of the Dragon Age games arriving on Xbox Game Pass and in celebration of today’s Dragon Age Day—and as some much-needed self-care, because the news surrounding this hallowed Day has been nothing if not depressing—I’m here to offer a tip to any Dragon Age newcomers eager to explore the world of Thedas for the first time: Play Dragon Age: Inquisition first. I want the Dragon Age: Origins diehards and the Dragon Age II enthusiasts to put down their pitchforks for a minute and listen: Your faves (and mine) are terrible jumping-off points, and insisting a newcomer play the games from the beginning is a surefire way to warn them off the series altogether. Here are three reasons why Inquisition is the better starting point.Honestly, I’d have taken dookie braids over this.Screenshot: BioWareEverything is prettier.The Dragon Age games don’t have the best character creators but Inquisition’s is a solid upgrade over the previous two. As I noted in my attempt to replay Origins, I had to mod the game if I wanted to make a character as dark-skinned as I am. In Dragon Age II the character creator isn’t much better, with dark skin still on the fair side of paper bag and still kinda weird and splotchy. Inquisition improves on both. There are a wider range of skin tones and a robust number of face-slider options with a unique interface that, for once, didn’t intimate me. Hair choices, on the other hand, are a bit lacking even if you aren’t looking for a curly or kinky hair option (which—outside of the standard fade-looking buzz cut—there isn’t one). G/O Media may get a commissionBeyond main-character aesthetics, Dragon Age: Inquisition’s Frostbite technology is a marked improvement over II’s Lycium engine, which cast the world in a dingy, washed-out light. Environments were sparse, colorless, topographically similar—everything’s just kinda flat and brownish in Ferelden and Kirkwall. In Inquisition, the environments are varied, filled with all kinds of geography to investigate to find hidden codex entries or astrarium puzzles to solve. Inquisition features a much more fluid combat style compared to its predecessors.Screenshot: BioWareGameplay is more beginner-friendly.This is a controversial reason as there are a lot of fans who prefer the slower and more tactical combat of Origins and II over Inquisition’s more action-RPG playstyle. But for newcomers, the Dungeons & Dragons-like flow of the earlier games’ combat, which requires pausing the action to issue commands, might feel antiquated or unwieldy, especially for players unfamiliar with that kind of mechanic. Dragon Age: Inquisition strips the bulk of the old systems away in favor of faster, more fluid abilities-driven combat.The open-world aspect is another controversial improvement, as players felt bogged down by the seemingly infinite number of quests (and bears) in the game’s notorious Hinterlands section. But having a full, populated world to explore is a vast improvement over Origins and II—games that felt like a lot of the environments were recycled and reskinned and locked behind loading-screen travel with a random encounter or two thrown in for spice. Exit the Hinterlands, pursued by a bear.Screenshot: BioWareIt’s the best Dragon Age story.The Dragon Age series likes to hit players in the face with its story from the very first second. In Inquisition, the menu screen, depicting a peaceful scene of mages and templars walking side-by-side, literally explodes the moment you click New Game. Inquisition really ups the stakes over its two predecessors. There is a big-ass hole in the sky threatening to destroy the world and you are literally the only person who can stop it—oh, and the power that grants you the ability to save the world? It’s killing you.You also don’t need to know the stories of Dragon Age: Origins or Dragon Age II to enjoy Inquisition. Of course knowing them fills in some useful background information, but any critical piece of knowledge is handily supplied by your companions and advisors—who are some of the best in the three games.I get by with a little help from my friends.Image: BioWareIt sticks the landing.Ok, I know I said I only had three reasons, but here’s a bonus one: Inquisition ends really well. Inquisition’s Trespasser DLC is some of the best video-game storytelling I have ever witnessed. It’s a beautiful epilogue to the game that offers a satisfying ending for your character and companions while providing a glimpse of the story to come. You can marry your love interest, adopt a dog(!!), and have a spa day with your homies all while discovering one of your allies has been plotting to destroy the world this whole time. Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II are good games that I love, but I think it takes a certain level of dedication to open them up in the year 2020 and play them again—dedication I don’t expect a brand-new player to have. There are confusing and downright un-fun mechanics to learn, slow stories to overcome, and drab, ugly environments (like the Fade and the Deep Roads) to plod through before the story gets good enough to merit continuing. Playing Dragon Age: Inquisition first allows you to skip over the growing pains of its two siblings and get right to the heart of what’s so amazing and alluring about the series. Then, if a new initiate is eager to experience the rest of the Dragon Age story, Origins and II will be there, ready to hopefully keep them in the fold.

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More problems arise as the Census Bureau rushes to compile information needed for apportionment before Mr. Trump leaves office.Credit...Mandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesDec. 4, 2020, 7:59 p.m. ETWASHINGTON — Census Bureau experts have uncovered serious flaws in a section of the 2020 head count that potentially affect the enumeration of millions of people, according to people familiar with the census operations, delaying still further the completion of state-by-state population totals that the White House has demanded before President Trump leaves office next month.Census experts told the Trump administration last month that data-processing delays were making it impossible to meet that schedule, but the agency’s political appointees have continued to press for shortcuts in an attempt to deliver on the White House’s demand. On Friday, people involved with the census but not authorized to make official comments said the latest delay — adding 10 to 14 more days to a process that was already set to end well beyond the Dec. 31 statutory deadline — appeared to doom that last-ditch rush.The extent of the additional problems — relating to the count of residents of group quarters like prisons, college dormitories or homeless shelters — effectively means that “that isn’t going to happen,” one official, who declined to be named for fear of retribution, said of meeting the deadline.The week’s developments are but the latest trials in a beleaguered and fraught census, with career officials forced to steer between a pandemic that all but halted the count for months and political pressure from the White House for results on the president’s timetable — sometimes, some career experts say, with little regard for accuracy.The Trump administration needs the bureau’s state-by-state population totals if it is to fulfill the president’s plan to strip undocumented immigrants from the state counts used to reapportion the House of Representatives. Such a move, unprecedented in American history, would produce an older, whiter, more rural population base for reallocating House seats that would mostly benefit Republicans, analysts say.Many experts see the bureau facing deadlines it can’t possibly meet while maintaining its standards. Some bureau officials remain concerned that Mr. Trump will demand numbers anyway, a move that could plunge the nation into uncharted legal territory if the Democratic House and the new Biden administration reject the results.“Anything produced in this compressed timeline the Trump administration has set increases the chances of a corrupted census,” Vanita Gupta, the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said on Friday. “The data problems can be fixed and the deadlines extended. But career census experts need to be able to fix the problems before the count is submitted. If the final data that is sent is shoddy, that could mean a failed census altogether.”ImageCredit...Erin Schaff/The New York TimesMr. Trump’s July order put enormous stress on the Census Bureau and its system for processing data at a time when it was also contending with the challenge of the pandemic.With counting operations all but ground to a halt in the spring, the administration asked Congress in April to extend the legal deadline for delivering reapportionment totals to April 2021, rather than Dec. 31.But in July, Mr. Trump abruptly reversed course, ordering that the Dec. 31 deadline be met. That forced Census Bureau experts to compress five months of data processing into two and a half months.The Supreme Court heard arguments this week in two lawsuits contending that Mr. Trump’s plan violated federal law and the Constitution, which says the census should count all residents, not just citizens, and requires congressional districts to be apportioned “counting the whole number of persons in each state,” using information from the census.The latest problems, which were not discussed at the Supreme Court argument, involve the tabulation of a category — people who live in group quarters — which totaled about 7.5 million residents in 2010, according to that year’s census.To provide accurate numbers, the census asks for advance estimates from the institutions that house them and then matches those estimates with the totals it receives from census-takers in the field. This month, data processing operations have turned up large discrepancies between the two numbers in group quarters nationwide, differences that can probably be resolved only by further review and in some cases returning to the field. (For example, a homeless shelter or a prison might have expected to house a larger number of daily residents than it actually had when the census was conducted.)By itself, that is not unusual; the bureau found similar variances in censuses in 2010 and 2000. In 2013, the bureau described how the numbers for residents of group quarters were resolved in a chart that is part of the 2010 census Planning Memoranda Series — effectively reducing the process to a historical footnote.But in those previous decennial counts, time had been built into the data-processing schedule to remedy that and other problems. This year, in its rush to produce figures for the White House, the Census Bureau had already cut its data-processing schedule nearly in half, leaving no margin for mistakes.Moreover, the discrepancies are exceptionally large this time because the coronavirus pandemic disrupted census work and led many residents of group quarters to move in the middle of the head count. This category includes college students in dormitories or off-campus apartments, many of whom returned home when the pandemic forced an end to in-person classes.ImageCredit...Stefani Reynolds for The New York TimesTerri Ann Lowenthal, a longtime census expert and consultant to a range of groups pressing for an accurate count, said the problems were not unexpected. She noted that the Census Bureau had cut back a dry run of its group quarters count and a post-count error check because of budget problems during a census dress rehearsal in 2018.“I’ve been raising a red flag about the group quarters operation,” she said. “I think the pandemic exacerbated problems the bureau has had historically with ensuring an accurate count of group quarters residents.”In meetings this week, the bureau ordered teams to find the source of the problems and recommend fixes by Sunday.Problems counting university students appear to have been worsened by requirements of federal privacy laws that Congress failed to address before the count began. At least one university omitted last names of its dormitory residents in files sent to the bureau. Many schools did not turn over addresses of students who lived off campus but returned home, meaning that census-takers in college towns had no idea whether vacant apartments they found were truly empty or should be counted as a student’s place of residence.Multiply that by millions of people who moved during the pandemic — children who brought parents home from nursing homes, jobless children who moved in with parents, relatives who consolidated households when money ran short — and the scope of the bureau’s problems becomes apparent, said Ron Santos, the vice president of the Urban Institute and president-elect of the American Statistical Association.“They could be in a situation where they don’t know what they don’t know, and by the time they find out, it’s too late,” Mr. Santos said. “I don’t have high confidence that this can be done in two weeks, or three weeks, or a month. I think the Census Bureau needs time to do its due diligence, sort out the problems and fix them.”In telling the administration last month that they would be unable to deliver totals to Mr. Trump before he leaves office, the bureau’s experts cited unidentified “anomalies” in the data that had to be resolved before work could continue.In a letter released this week, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform stated that internal documents obtained from the Census Bureau described “13 anomalies identified as of November 19 that impact more than 900,000 census records.” The documents noted that if new anomalies were identified, “additional time may be required for comprehensive release.”Officials say the group quarters discrepancies were among those anomalies, and that the true scope of the problem became known only as it was investigated.With prospects of meeting the White House deadline increasingly dim, the bureau’s political appointees have ratcheted up pressure on career experts to meet it anyway, scrutinizing the data-processing timeline for operations that could be shortened or delayed.Supreme Court arguments this week suggested that Mr. Trump’s effort to strip undocumented immigrants from reapportionment totals would face a second challenge — compiling an accurate count of people in the country illegally. Under questioning, Jeffrey B. Wall, the acting United States solicitor general, said that count “is fairly fluid.”

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Denmark has just taken a significant step to lead the world on addressing climate change. The country announced that it will phase out all oil and gas exploration contracts in the North Sea by 2050. It’s the first major oil-producing country to take such a big step. Following a December 3 vote, the Danish parliament has issued a near-total ban on companies receiving new licenses to hunt for and extract oil. The agreement will also cancel an eighth round of licensing that was set to occur. Licenses that were issued before the vote will be honored until 2050.“We’re the European Union’s biggest oil producer and this decision will therefore resonate around the world,” Danish climate minister Dan Jorgensen said on Thursday. The move to end oil and gas contracts by 2050 is not going to be cheap as it’s estimated to cost Denmark $2.1 billion, but the country appears ready to foot the bill. “It’s a tough decision, it’s an expensive decision, but it’s the right decision,” Jorgensen told the Washington Post.Denmark has been extracting oil and gas from the North Sea since 1972. Tax revenue from oil and gas production has greatly benefited its economy, helping to build the Danish welfare state that takes care of its citizens across their lifetimes. But ending oil and gas extraction and exploration, experts say, is the only way Denmark can meet the European Union’s climate pledge. In October, the European Union voted to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent from 1990s levels by 2030. The decision, which passed overwhelmingly, increased the bloc’s pledge to the 2016 Paris Agreement, signaling Europe’s serious commitment to ending the climate emergency. Denmark’s plans put the country in line with regional targets. “It’s taking a measure that will probably ensure that Denmark can meet this goal within the EU of reducing emissions to the point where they can pursue carbon neutrality by 2050,” Wil Burns, professor and co-director of the Institute for Carbon Removal Law & Policy at American University, told me. “And this is the only way they could effectuate that.”








Climate demonstrators gather around Parliament during the opening day on October 6, 2020, in Copenhagen, Denmark. Ole Jensen/Getty Images


The vote also came due to increased pressure at home. Copenhagen, the Danish capital city, announced plans in late 2019 to become the first carbon-neutral capital in the world, achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2025. And as Reuters reported in June, the Danish Council on Climate Change, an independent body that advises Denmark’s government, called for an end to oil and gas activities to salvage the credibility of Denmark as a leader in the fight against climate change. “A Danish halt for further exploration in the North Sea could send a strong signal in international climate politics and may even encourage other countries to follow suit,” the council said at the time.The international environmental activist organization Greenpeace expressed their support for the decision on Twitter, heralding the move as a “landmark decision.”


Historic WIN for climate & people power! In landmark decision, oil producer Denmark ends future licensing rounds for oil and gas exploration permits in the North Sea and sets existing production to expire no later than 2050. Now, more countries need to end oil! pic.twitter.com/NyUg4CtsCb— Greenpeace (@Greenpeace) December 4, 2020



Ending oil production by 2050 has been welcomed — and criticizedThe move was also hailed by EU government officials including Finnish Minister of the Environment and Climate Krista Mikkonen, who applauded the decision via Twitter saying that the world needs more leaders on climate change. Some other environmental groups were also happy. “This is a huge victory for the climate movement,” Helene Hagel of Greenpeace Denmark said in a statement. She added that Denmark has “a moral obligation to end the search for new oil to send a clear signal that the world can and must act to meet the Paris Agreement and mitigate the climate crisis.”Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was far less impressed, though, tweeting that the decision means Denmark will continue extracting oil and gas for another 30 years.


The real news here is that Denmark will apparently go on extracting fossil fuels for another 3 decades.To us children, this is not the "good news" that some people seem to think. We're in a climate emergency. Act accordingly.https://t.co/3ywKQNQXA0— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) December 4, 2020



Denmark’s decision shows that Paris and regional and national commitments to reducing emissions are starting to have some real impact — and that’s good.As the top oil producer in the European Union, Denmark’s move is significant, but other oil producing nations must take a similar pledge if there’s any hope of achieving the Paris Agreement’s target of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius. “You’re going to need a lot of other countries, especially major oil and gas producers, to step up,” Burns told me. “Norway and the UK both feel pressured to remain leaders on pursuing the climate agenda.”While the UK and Norway are both major oil-producing countries and located outside the EU, the desire to lead on climate change could push the nations to make stronger commitments.On December 3, the UK announced ambitious plans to cut emissions by 68 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2030. A report also calls on UK oil and gas firms to phase out production in the North Sea and make the transition to renewable energy sources. Peer pressure could also help further pave the way.Neighboring Norway, Burns noted, is a much larger producer of fossil fuels, so a commitment to end oil and gas extraction would be a much more dramatic step for that country to take.“If the US, this year or next year, starts to return as a positive force on climate, that along with measures like this one from Denmark might put pressure on other countries to do so,” Burns said. Will you help keep Vox free for all? There is tremendous power in understanding. Vox answers your most important questions and gives you clear information to help make sense of an increasingly chaotic world. A financial contribution to Vox will help us continue providing free explanatory journalism to the millions who are relying on us. Please consider making a contribution to Vox today, from as little as $3.



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A federal judge ordered the Trump administration on Friday to restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides protection from deportation to many undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.A federal judge in New York ordered the Department of Homeland Security to post publicly on its website within three days that it is accepting new applicants and renewals to the DACA program. President Donald Trump moved to end the DACA program in 2017, and it has been caught up in legal challenges ever since. This summer, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf had restricted the program to only those already enrolled, disallowing new applicants. Read the ruling here: 

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.















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Image: TwitchSince 2018, Twitch has had a tag system that allows streamers to categorize their broadcasts according to their content’s contents and give viewers an at-a-glance idea of what they’re about. Tags also tie into Twitch’s still-rudimentary (but increasingly prominent) recommendation system. Until very recently, “blind playthrough” was one of these official Twitch tags. Now, however, it’s not.“Blind playthrough” was meant to be applied to first-time runs through games, frequently with the implication that streamers didn’t want chat spoiling key story elements or trying to backseat game. Streamers and other content creators use the term pretty frequently. Recently, however, Twitch removed the “blind playthrough” tag following concerns about ableist language. Today, Twitch community and creator marketing director Erin “Aureylian” Wayne acknowledged the change on Twitter.“Happy to see Twitch has listened to everyone who shared feedback and removed the ‘Blind Playthrough’ tag to encourage more inclusive language for our community,” she wrote. “You can still use ‘First Playthrough’ or opt to use it in combination with ‘No Spoilers’ for the same sentiment.”Previously, the “blind playthrough” tag received criticism over disability connotations. In June, for example, AbleGamers COO and Twitch partner Steven Spohn discussed the tag in a longer thread about disability terms and negative language.“‘Blind playthrough’ or ‘going in blind’ can easily be replaced by saying ‘No spoilers playthrough’ or ‘Undiscovered’ or ‘first’ (if it is your first). A blind playthrough would be to turn your monitor off, and that’s not what most mean,” said Spohn. “Just as we used to say ‘gay’ when something was bad, using disability terms as an alternate word for a negative situation or feeling is common in today’s language. But just as we stopped saying gay to mean bad, we can stop saying these words too. Think about the words you choose.”G/O Media may get a commissionThe change is, as Spohn pointed out, kind of a no-brainer; “first playthrough” not only avoids adding another drop to an ocean of ableist language, but it also makes more sense. If I was a Twitch outsider, I could assume that “blind playthrough” might refer to any number of things. “First playthrough” is exactly what it says on the box: Somebody’s first time playing through a game.Some streamers, however, are hoping for something a little more substantial from Twitch in the future.“I still wish they had a disability tag so I can find more disabled gamers on Twitch to network with,” said streamer and artist DaniDawnstar, echoing a sentiment that is not uncommon across multiple marginalized communities on Twitch.Spohn, whose organization regularly advises video game companies on these sorts of issues, thinks things are headed in an encouraging direction.“I’m happy to see Twitch following through on promises to address and resolve issues and concerns from the disability community,” Spohn said on Twitter today. “It’s just the beginning.” Recommended Stories

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Rory Smith On SoccerArsenal’s recent history is a case study in slow, steady decline. With the club now staring at a long climb back to the top, it is also a warning to other elite teams.Credit...Eddie Keogh/ReutersDec. 4, 2020Updated 7:41 p.m. ETRoy Keane was joking. Probably. Arsenal had just lost at home to Wolves, condemning the club to its worst start to a season in almost 40 years. Mikel Arteta’s team had slumped to 14th in the Premier League. It had won only once, domestically, since early October. Still, though, Keane found a silver lining. “They’ll have just about enough to stay up,” he said.The line was delivered with enough relish to suggest his interest in Arsenal’s possible relegation was not so much sincere concern as an irresistible opportunity to warm the embers of an old rivalry. Keane does not think Arsenal is at risk of losing its place in the Premier League. Of course not. But then the content of the joke was not the part that was supposed to wound. The nature of it was.Entropy set in at Arsenal a long time ago. Soccer has a heightened sensitivity to sharp, drastic change — the sort that seems to materialize in a day, a week, and then evaporate — but also an ability to remain blissfully numb to the sort that spools out over the span of seasons and years.The winnowing of Arsenal is a case in point. The latter years of Arsène Wenger’s reign at the club were a case study in slow, steady and, in the moment, almost imperceptible decline: the gradual downgrading of Arsenal first from perennial title challenger to serial F.A. Cup winner, from mainstay in the Champions League to contender for a place and inexorably on, all the way down past hopeful to where it stands now: outsider.It would be quite wrong, of course, to suggest that nobody noticed. The crowds at the Emirates — before the nine silent months of the pandemic — regularly bubbled with mutiny and protest and dissent. AFTV built an entire media brand on the back of internecine squabbling about the direction of the club. Cubic tons of ink have been spilled detailing each unfurling crisis.ImageCredit...Adam Davy/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesBut something about the time lapse disguised the scale of the decline. That each step — from title challenger to top-four regular, top-four regular to top-four contender and so on — seemed shallow made it possible to miss just how far Arsenal had traveled from the peak, and just how steep the journey back to the summit might be.That is not to say someone should have spotted the direction of travel, that some soothsayer might have been able to surmise that this is where it would end. Such a prediction would have seemed — and to an extent still does, even with Arsenal marooned in its current mediocrity — laughable.This is not, after all, supposed to happen, not in the age of the superclubs, in an era in which soccer’s hierarchy is set in stone, when the elite enjoy such wealth and power and grace that they have become untouchable.A vast divide yawns between the elite and the rest, the bridge drawn up to prevent anyone crossing over. Mostly, we worry that strips teams of their right to dream, but it works in both directions: It also means those who have already made it no longer have any reason to worry. Sure, things might go wrong, but for a given value of wrong. In a bad season, you might finish sixth.And yet Arsenal proves that status is not frozen, not forever. It is not so long ago, after all, since this was the club that served as an emblem for the self-perpetuation of success. Arsenal could always qualify for the Champions League, 20 years in a row, because it always qualified for the Champions League.But even that did not mean it was immune to the effects of bad decisions. And, over the last decade or so, under the disinterested stewardship of the Kroenke family, there have been plenty of those.ImageCredit...Pool photo by Michael ReganEven Wenger, when we spoke a few weeks ago, wondered if he had stayed — been allowed to stay — too long. When he was replaced, it was by Unai Emery, a perfectly serviceable manager who was wholly unsuited to the job at hand. That unhappy experiment lasted 18 months before Arteta, having learned at the knee of Pep Guardiola, was drafted in.Off the field, the thinking has been even more muddled. Wenger himself had experimented with remedies. He empowered StatDNA, the analytics firm Arsenal had bought in 2012, but then seemed to move away from its work. When he left, Arsenal seemed to recognize that the job he had done for years was actually several different ones, and (to its credit) recruited specialists to fill each of them.In came Sven Mislintat, hailed as the visionary behind Borussia Dortmund’s success, who was tasked with turning Arsenal into the home of the best young talent in the world. Then came Raul Sanllehi, with his apparently comprehensive contacts book, with his promise to get Arsenal access to the best agents on the planet and, through them, the best players.But neither worked well with the other and both, eventually, would leave. Time for another idea: Edu Gaspar, another former player, was made technical director. Arteta was promoted, given wider-ranging responsibilities. Kia Joorabchian, the sort of man you suspect refers to himself as a superagent, seemed to have the inside track on the club’s transfer dealings.Arsenal’s squad lays bare the lack of coherence behind the scenes. Arteta now has eight (or nine, depending on your definition) central defenders at his disposal, but the club’s record signing, Nicolas Pepe, does not fit neatly into the team. His highest-paid player, Mesut Özil, has been reduced to live-tweeting the team’s games.ImageCredit...Paul Childs/Action Images, via ReutersHow to pick a route out of this mess remains a mystery, particularly under Arsenal’s current ownership. For a while, over the summer, it seemed as if Arteta’s bright promise as a coach might be enough. He had crafted a team that was resilient and disciplined and smart, one that offered a kernel of what an updated, modernized Arsenal could be. He won the F.A. Cup and the Community Shield.A few months later, that momentum has been surrendered. Arsenal heads to Tottenham on Sunday not only behind its league-leading rival in the table, but trailing Chelsea and West Ham, too. It is, for the time being, the fourth-best team in London.The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on its finances. Its roster is an uneasy blend of young promise and fading high-earners. It does not want to sell the former and it cannot move the latter; all it can do is let them run their contracts down. Where the money will come from for the necessary, multiyear rebuild is anyone’s guess.Arsenal will recover, of course. It will return, though it is likely to be a long and arduous journey. In the meantime, it stands as a warning to the rest of the elite that their place at the top table has not been granted in perpetuity: It is yours only so long as you make (enough of) the right decisions.And it offers inspiration to all those teams who harbor aspirations of, one day, usurping the established order: to Leicester and to Wolves and to Everton and the rest. The divide can be bridged. Permanence is an illusion. People — clubs — make mistakes, no matter their size or their wealth or their self-perception. Keane was joking, probably, when he said Arsenal would not suffer relegation. In a way, though, it already has.Finally, a Good Thing Out of BrexitThe sunlit uplands are just a few weeks away. Britain will leave the European Union on Jan. 1 and it will finally be free to … have its own currency? No, that’s not it. Control its own borders? Oh, it did that anyway. Turn Kent, the garden of England, into a gigantic parking lot for trucks? Seems a strange thing to want, but if that’s what you like, great.Brexit’s impact on soccer will, in all likelihood, not be particularly noticeable in the Premier League. English clubs will, in theory, no longer be able to recruit so liberally from Europe, but most of the players of interest to the teams of the country’s top division will readily meet the criteria to be granted permission to play in it. (Lower-tier teams, and the majority of clubs in Scotland, may feel more of an effect on their recruitment plans.)Most important, though, was one throwaway line hidden deep in the weeds of the Premier League’s statement on how international transfers will work in this brave new world. English teams will, starting Jan. 1, no longer be able to sign any international player until the player has turned 18.ImageCredit...Oliver Weiken/European Pressphoto AgencyThis, make no mistake, is a problem for the Premier League’s elite, who have spent the better part of two decades trawling around Europe for any fresh-faced teenager with even a scintilla of talent and using their financial muscle to draw them in. They have been allowed to do so because of a European Union exemption in FIFA’s statutes on the cross-border transfers of minors.Now they will have to stop. England’s clubs can no longer be hothouses of international talent. And — through gritted teeth — that is a good thing. It may, in fact, be the most obvious benefit anyone has seen from Brexit to date.There are some cases in which teenage players benefit from being allowed to leave their home countries in order to sign for one of the world’s biggest clubs. Players in countries without the infrastructure to nurture their talent, for example, or where their development might be improved by access to better facilities.For the most part, though, the E.U. exemption is used to pluck Spanish, Dutch, Belgian and French teenagers from academies that have reared them from a young age, and to do it at a knockdown price.The clubs that lose the teenagers are not reimbursed suitably for the work they have done; instead, they miss out on the premium fee they might receive if the player completed their education at home. The players are, with only a handful of exceptions, treated as assets, rather than individuals, to be fattened and sold at a profit, rather than given a chance to shine.It entrenches inequality, rather than addressing it, ensuring more and more of the world’s best talent coalesces at certain clubs. English teams have exploited it more than anyone else in recent years (Manchester United currently has three Czech or Slovak goalkeepers in its ranks, all of them teenagers) but must now stop. It would be a benefit of Brexit for everybody if FIFA took this as a chance to clamp down on the loophole, to close it, for everyone else, too.Change Is Good. But Not This Change.In its final moments, then, the Champions League group stage might deliver something approaching excitement after all. On Tuesday, one of Manchester United, Paris St.-Germain and RB Leipzig will be eliminated. On Wednesday, both (or neither) of Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid might follow.It is a welcome coda to what has been a particularly predictable six weeks, an autumn that has made the proposed restructuring of the competition starting in 2024 — adopting the so-called Swiss Model, in which teams would play 10 group games and be ranked on a “giant” league table of all 32 teams — seem, if not appealing, then at least understandable.The new plan solves severable problems. Well, no: It solves one problem in several ways. It means teams will play more games, and big teams will play more games against other big teams, which means everyone will make more money from broadcast contracts.ImageCredit...Peter Powell/EPA, via ShutterstockBut the plan fails on two counts. One: It is not nearly as intuitive as the current system, which is, and this is just pure science, the best format for a sporting competition yet invented, as the World Cup will prove in 2026. And two: It places too much emphasis on prestige fixtures, and too little on drama. It gives the powerful clubs too many chances to fail.What will make next week special is not that there will be lots of games between glamorous names, but that some of those glamorous names will be in jeopardy. Whatever change comes to the Champions League — and change can be good, too — that should be the priority: increasing the risks, not ring-fencing the rewards.CorrespondenceImageCredit...Anita Pouchard Serra for The New York TimesIt is probably no surprise that the death of Diego Maradona touched so many of you, but still, it has been lovely to read all of the memories of and tributes to him that have filled my inbox in the last week. I particularly liked Ron Amato’s conclusion after “bingeing on highlights reels” for a week: “He got the ball, and stuff happened.”Folu Ogundimu hit upon a question I’ve been thinking about, too: “How do you compare Pelé’s great artistry and influence on soccer to Maradona’s?” I had this thought while I was writing last week’s newsletter: I’m not sure you would say that Pelé changed the game, particularly, in the way that Cruyff definitively did — there isn’t a Pelé role or a Pelé tactic or a Peléan school of thinking. Pelé’s greatness maybe resides, instead, in the sense of mastery, that he had perfected the game.Thomas Jakobsh made an insightful observation, too, that “the suggestion his mistakes and frailties were the inevitable flip side, or byproduct, of his on-field genius” does not hold water. (This came up on Set Piece Menu this week, as it happens).“There is a much more prosaic explanation: The world is filled with grifters, con men, unscrupulous agents, hustlers, mobsters. As Jorge Valdano has elegantly explained, Maradona was a victim, perhaps even the perfect victim,” Thomas wrote. “Adulation stalked him since he was 16, and nothing in those first 16 years equipped him for what was to come. For this failure, there is a lot of blame to be shared.”And I just wanted to respond to Lucas Bongarra, who felt that last week’s piece communicated that Maradona was “not so spectacular, that he was great then, but couldn’t do any of the unbelievable stuff in today’s game.”That certainly was not what I thought last week’s column said. While I don’t think Diego Maradona transformed soccer, he most definitely transformed what we thought of as possible within it. As for whether he would thrive in the modern game: yes, obviously, he was inordinately talented. Whether modern soccer could produce a Maradona, I’m not so sure. That may be both to its credit and to its detriment.

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Credit...Matthias ZieglerHome and WorkIn a six-story building in the city’s center, Michael and Petra Mayer run — and reside in — one of the world’s oldest and most celebrated architectural glass and mosaic studios.The Mayer of Munich building has 15 glass and mosaic ateliers within its 54,000 square feet. This one is dedicated to glass painting.Credit...Matthias ZieglerBy Photographs by Matthias ZieglerPublished Dec. 2, 2020Updated Dec. 4, 2020, 7:41 p.m. ETTHE EXTRAVAGANT LUDWIG II, the so-called mad king of Bavaria, was said to love nothing more than a room aglow with painted glass. Indeed, his obsession with the art form galvanized the revival of stained-glass making in Germany, initiated by his grandfather Ludwig I in the early 19th century. During that era, elaborately designed windows — in churches but also secular buildings — became fashionable, with many German artists and artisans adopting the craft, including Joseph Gabriel Mayer, who in 1847 founded Munich’s Mayer Institute of Christian Art, a workshop that produced religious sculptures and altars. By the 1880s, Mayer, who had by then been joined by his son Franz Borgias, had offices in Paris, London and New York City. (The company still has an office on Manhattan’s Madison Square Park.)Over the years, Mayer created the windows for Ludwig II’s Neuschwanstein castle chapel in Bavaria, as well as the Königshaus am Schachen, his legendary folly of a hunting lodge near Garmisch-Partenkirchen. In 1892, Pope Leo XIII awarded the company the church’s prestigious Pontifical Institute of Christian Art title and, soon after, one of the most important commissions of that era, now perhaps the most recognized stained-glass window in the world: the Holy Spirit window above the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, an abstract design of deep orange and yellow splinter-shaped glass surrounding a dove. Mayer’s work, distinguished by its saturated colors, painterly but naturalistic images and allusions to late Gothic artists like Hans Holbein the Elder, came to define the era’s Catholic churches.ImageCredit...Matthias ZieglerIn the offices of the present-day Mayer of Munich atelier — a six-story, 54,000-square-foot industrial-style building from the early 1900s in the city center — a small framed etching of Joseph Gabriel Mayer hangs on the wall. With his unkempt curls and intense gaze, he bears a remarkable resemblance to his great-great-grandson Michael Mayer, who now runs the company alongside his architect wife, Petra. Michael studied mosaics in Friuli in his 20s and soon afterward dedicated himself to the family business. Petra wrote her architecture school thesis on how German cities should acknowledge historic Third Reich-era buildings with the conviction that we should not erase history; that societies should not be allowed to look away from their darkest deeds. “There are still multiple Nazi buildings in Munich that are, shockingly, not marked as such. The city tends to keep the buildings and just repurpose them as cultural or social institutions,” she says.The couple, who are in their 50s, met in 1993 when Petra was hired to help redesign P1, a legendary Munich nightclub in the basement of the Haus der Kunst, a modern art museum designed by one of Hitler’s favorite architects, Paul Ludwig Troost. Applying the ideas of her thesis to a public space, Petra decided she wanted to repurpose a type of metallic gold mosaic common in Third Reich-era Art Nouveau interiors to line a huge column in the center of the bar’s dance floor. “It’s fine to preserve these buildings and transform them into cultural spaces, but I think it’s important to note their origins,” Petra says. “In appropriating those historic gold mosaics, I meant to both mark and transform that World War II-era architecture.” She had heard there were historic examples of the tiles somewhere in the basement of the Mayer workshop, and made an appointment to see them. Michael showed her the company’s collection of Puhl & Wagner mosaics, which it had purchased in 1969 from the German government. Not long afterward, Petra and Michael fell in love and moved into his tiny bachelor pad in the workshop’s attic.THE MAYERS OVERSEE the business from a series of sunny, art-filled rooms on the top two floors of the building. Dozens of warrenlike workshops and ateliers crowd the four floors beneath — here, workmen restore historic stained-glass windows and mosaics, while others make contemporary works. The labyrinthine basement archive houses an extensive collection of vintage stained-glass works.ImageCredit...Matthias ZieglerImageCredit...Matthias ZieglerEven before the couple officially took over in 2013, they had begun transitioning the bulk of Mayer of Munich’s clients from religious institutions to contemporary artists. (Sometimes, the two overlap: Michael worked with Ellsworth Kelly to create the colored-glass windows of “Austin,” the artist’s 2018 chapel at the University of Texas’s Blanton Museum of Art.) In only the past two years, they collaborated on a massive outdoor mosaic created by the German artist Kerstin Brätsch for the Bas Smets-designed park at the LUMA cultural space in Arles, France; a pool designed by Peter Marino for the Hotel Cheval Blanc in Paris, opening in 2021; and public works for various New York City M.T.A. stations by Firelei Báez, William Wegman and Diana Al-Hadid. (One of their largest commissions to date has been the expansive white marble mosaic by Ann Hamilton that was installed two years ago at a World Trade Center subway station.)So dedicated are the Mayers to collaborating with artists that there are even three small one-bedroom apartments reserved for visiting artists next to the couple’s living quarters on the top two floors, which they share with their two young sons. Kiki Smith, who has worked with Mayer of Munich on more than 20 projects, and who attended a neo-Gothic church in New Jersey growing up, recalls being mesmerized by stained glass as a child. “I am very attracted to a serial pictorial narrative, and to the medium of glass,” she says. “I’m fascinated by something that can keep transforming. Glass can be a slow-moving liquid and a solid.” The Mayers have hosted Smith several times over the past decade. “I love being there,” she says. “To wake up in so much light every day is heaven for me.” Indeed, the Mayers’ top floor — a high-ceilinged atrium that includes the living room, dining room and kitchen — feels almost open to the elements, floating over the city. Stuffed birds perch on the shelves, and panes of antique stained glass are propped against or installed in windows. All this shares space with an eclectic collection of art: a cluster of framed Bavarian folk oils from Michael’s grandfather; three drawings on paper by the contemporary American artists Mike and Doug Starn; and a set of ginkgo leaves suspended in a series of glass cubes by the artist Jan Hendrix. Tucked in a small nook over the kitchen are a daybed and a large drawing of a pregnant Petra, a gift from Smith.ImageCredit...Matthias ZieglerOne of the windows in the living room, which faces in the direction of Munich’s Old Town, is made from broken pieces of painted glass — discards from one of Smith’s projects. “I have an impulse to save and fix things,” says Petra, who is constantly repairing forgotten treasures from the Mayer archives. A few years ago, she had a ceiling removed on the ground floor and found a stunning Expressionist archway from the late 1800s. More recently, off that same hallway, she claimed a small room with a mezzanine floor and turned it into a cabinet of wonders, displaying a series of works that 17 of the Mayers’ artist friends created for the company’s 170th anniversary in 2017. These include a piece entitled “Dancers” by Eric Fischl, in which four layers of painted glass reflect on one another, seemingly moving with the changing light; and a tiny triptych of mosaics by Vik Muniz.On the workshop’s facade, Petra and Michael installed 14 abstract mosaics that represent the stations of the cross made by the Nigerian artist Uche Okeke, who had worked at Mayer in the early ’60s. “I found these pieces gathering dust, and my friend Okwui Enwezor, who was the director of the Haus der Kunst museum, confirmed that they were Okeke’s,” says Petra. “It’s important to bring things out from the dark,” she adds. “And to let light heal them.”

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HighlightsPhotoCreditPhotograph by Hank Willis Thomas and Deb Willis. Styled by Alex HarringtonPhotoCreditCraig McDean. Photo in background: Chris Walter/Getty ImagesThe Grit and Glory of Dolly PartonMore than 50 years into her legendary career, she’s still capturing America’s particular mythology — its dreams and its disappointments — like no other.By Emily Lordi and Craig McDeanPhotoCreditPhotograph by Collier Schorr. Styled by Mel OttenbergBarbra Streisand Is, as Ever, Firmly in ControlSince her breakout in the 1960s, she’s been able to convince the world around her to listen — not by chasing trends but by remaining always and fully herself.By James B. Stewart, Collier Schorr and Mel Ottenberg

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U.S.|Judge Orders Government to Fully Reinstate DACA ProgramBREAKINGUp to 300,000 additional undocumented immigrants could be allowed to apply for protection from deportation under a new court ruling. President Trump had sought to cancel the program.Credit...Sandy Huffaker/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesDec. 4, 2020Updated 7:40 p.m. ETA federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore an Obama-era program designed to shield young, undocumented immigrants from deportation, dealing what could be a final blow to President Trump’s long-fought effort to end the protections.The program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was created by President Barack Obama in 2012. Over the years, it has protected more than 800,000 individuals, known as “dreamers,” who met a series of strict requirements for eligibility.Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn directed the administration to allow newly eligible immigrants to file new applications for protection under the program, reversing a memorandum issued in the summer by Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, which restricted the program to people who were already enrolled. As many as 300,000 new applicants could now be eligible, according to the lawyers who pushed for the reinstatement.The memo from the Department of Homeland Security also limited benefits under the program, including permits to work, to one year, but the judge on Friday ordered the government to restore them to a full two years. Judge Garaufis, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, also said the government must find a way to contact all immigrants who are eligible for the program to inform them of the change.The program still faces other challenges, including a case in federal court in Texas, where Republican attorneys general have asked a judge to declare the program unlawful.President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has vowed to restore the DACA program when he takes office next month, but a legislative solution that would permanently allow the dreamers to live and work legally in the United States remains elusive, leaving their fates to the shifting political winds.Still, the ruling is a significant legal setback to Mr. Trump’s yearslong attempt to make good on his promise to terminate the program, which applies to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as young children and have lived in America most of their lives.As a candidate, Mr. Trump insisted that the program, which Mr. Obama put in place through executive action, was unconstitutional, and as president he moved to end it in September 2017. The legal battle over the program culminated in a Supreme Court ruling this summer in which the justices said the president had not followed the proper procedures to end the program.In the wake of that ruling, Mr. Wolf only partially reinstated the program, refusing to allow new immigrants to apply and slashing the length of renewals to one year, instead of the two years previously allowed under the program.In November, Judge Garaufis determined that the partial reinstatement was invalid because it had been issued in the form of a memo by Mr. Wolf, who Judge Garaufis found had been unlawfully appointed to his position. On Friday, after hearing from both sides, the judge said the agency must announce the news of the full reinstatement on its website by Monday.“This is a really big day for DACA recipients and immigrant young people,” said Karen Tumlin, director of the Justice Action Center, who litigated the class-action case. “It opens the door for more than a million immigrant youth who have been unfairly denied their chance to apply for DACA.”The Trump administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Adam Liptak contributed reporting.

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If your iPhone 11 isn’t responding to touches, it might be eligible for a free fix from Apple. The company has launched a replacement program for iPhone 11 displays that stop responding to touches “due to an issue with the display module.” Apple says that “a small percentage of iPhone 11 displays” are affected.Devices affected by the issue were manufactured between November 2019 and May 2020, Apple said, meaning not every phone is affected. If you’re seeing the issue on your iPhone 11, you can check to see if your phone is eligible for the program by plugging its serial number into a box on Apple’s website for the replacement program. If your phone is eligible for replacement, you can find one of Apple’s authorized service providers to help, make an appointment at an Apple retail store, or contact Apple support to arrange for a mail in. And Apple says that affected phones are covered for two years from the day you bought it, so if the issue comes up for you sometime in that two-year window, you’re still eligible for a free replacement.


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A 66-year-old man has been charged with the murder of two women in Kent more than 30 years ago.Police said David Fuller, from Heathfield, East Sussex, has been charged with two counts of murder in connection with the deaths of Wendy Knell and Caroline Pierce in 1987.He has been remanded in custody to appear before Medway magistrates’ court on Saturday.Assistant chief constable Tracey Harman, of the Kent and Essex serious crime directorate, said: “While more than three decades have passed since these murders took place, I would urge anyone who has any information, no matter how minor or insignificant it may appear to be, to contact us.”Knell, a 25-year-old shop manager, was found sexually assaulted and beaten to death in her bedsit in Guildford Road, Tunbridge Wells, on 23 June, after failing to turn up for work.The second victim, also from Tunbridge Wells, was killed five months later after being attacked outside her home in Grosvenor Park. Pierce was last seen at about midnight on 24 November 1987, when she was dropped off by a taxi at her home.Screams were heard outside the house and her body was found by a farm worker in a drainage ditch 40 miles away on Romney Marsh on 15 December that year.Anyone with any information is asked to contact Kent police on 01622 652006 quoting case reference 46/YY/16746/20 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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In the fall of 2007, my parents gave me an unforgettable gift for my sixteenth birthday: a first-generation iPhone.I still clearly remember watching the keynote in which Steve Jobs announced the first Apple-branded phone a few months earlier. As a teenager attending high school in my hometown of Vicenza, Italy, I tuned into the livestream just before dinner, carefully listening to every word he said. That evening, Jobs started announcing a “widescreen iPod with touch controls”, a “revolutionary mobile phone” and a “breakthrough Internet communications device”–theatrically pausing before confessing that he was actually talking about one single device: the iPhone. Thousands of miles away from me, you could hear attendees exploding cheerfully through the live feed. Jobs went on demoing this amazing invention that, a decade later, would end up changing much more than the mobile phones market: it directly or indirectly impacted our society through mobile web, app stores, changing work-life balance, and social media.October came, and so did the day I finally got my iPhone. I was really excited as I was the first one in my social circle with one. Every other teenager (and adult!) that saw my phone reacted in awe and with lots of curiosity. More than a few were also secretly envious, something I secretly did not mind. To add to the novelty, at the time the iPhone was only available for sale in the US.To get an iPhone for me, my father had to ask a friend traveling to New York on a business trip to bring one back on the plane with her. That was not the end of it, however, as all phones were locked to the AT&T network. In order for me to be able to use my iPhone in Italy, I had to unlock it.That process required learning a variety of tools and techniques developed by hackers in the community, then documented in various blogs and forums. The first step was to jailbreak the phone, which gave you full access to the system and allowed you to run third-party apps. Then you’d have add one of those “hacking” apps to your phone, which patched the bootloader to remove the lock the US carrier had put on it. Despite sounding like a mouthful, the iPhone hacking community had worked hard on the User Experience (UX), making this entire process relatively easy for most people with basic tech skills.I really loved my shiny, new iPhone, and I was so excited about it that I was willing to accept many of its original limitations. It only supported slow 2G networks, didn’t have copy/paste, couldn’t transfer files via Bluetooth to my friends, and famously didn’t support Adobe Flash, which was ubiquitous on the web at the time.However, there was one thing I really couldn’t stand: the Messages application could only store 1,000 texts (SMS).That was 2007 — before the days of WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, etc. Instant messaging was something people did on their PCs only, with things like Windows Live Messenger (née MSN Messenger) or AIM.For a high schooler like me, text messaging was the main way I kept in touch with my friends daily (what was I supposed to do, call them?). With my carrier giving me a whopping 100 free texts per day (seriously, we had to pay for them), between sent and received texts it would take less than a week to reach the storage limit of 1,000.That’s when it all started.Because my iPhone was already “hacked” (jailbroken), as a requirement for unlocking it and use it in Italy, I had full system access already. That allowed me to c extract any document I wanted, including my phone’s text message database.It wasn’t even a month since I got my iPhone that I had already built a small “app” running on my laptop to archive my text messages forever. I would manually extract the SMS database from my iPhone, copy it to my laptop, then use a set of scripts written in PHP (the only programming language I knew at the time) to store the messages in a local database, and finally display them using a web-based interface.This thing I put together worked just fine for me, but I immediately realized the “business potential” of what I had just created. Just like myself, I assumed many others had the same annoyance. I could have used what I learned to help them too, and maybe make some pocket change in the process. As a matter of fact, I did consider myself an enterprising teenager.The idea had potential, and the “app” I built for myself already provided solid foundations, so I just needed to do a bit more work to turn it into a commercially-viable project.The biggest challenge was making the solution more accessible to others, including those who were not particularly tech-savvy. That’s when I started learning about app development for iPhone.Famously, Apple did not want the iPhone to support third-party apps at the beginning, saying developers should build web apps instead. That policy didn’t last long, and with the iPhone OS 2 update, launched in mid-2008, the official App Store came to life: the rest, as they say, is history.However, the hacking community had already found a way to sideload apps and had even developed an “app store” called Cydia where you could find games, apps, and even mods to enhance the capabilities of the operating system itself. Cydia came preinstalled on every jailbroken iPhone, which meant potentially hundreds of thousands of people had access to it.Everyone could build apps that would be published on Cydia, as long as you knew how to–something that was not remotely as easy to do as it is with today’s tools. As an enterprising teenager with quite a bit of free time on my hand during those winter afternoons and evenings, I took on that challenge.The first version of YouArchive.It came out in January 2008.Today, you would describe YouArchive.It as a cloud service to store iPhone text messages. You could store all your messages in there, then read and search them using a web-based application.There’s still a video left on YouTube showing the application in action (this was the third, and last, version):With YouArchive.It came an iPhone application too. Published on the Cydia app store, it allowed importing messages into the “cloud service” directly from the phone.YouArchive.It was free to use with a limit of 80,000 text messages. Because personal communications can be sensitive, all messages were stored encrypted. With a one-time payment of just €5 (about $6), you could become a VIP, remove any limit and enjoy unlimited storage.A screenshot of iTextUploader running on a first-generation iPhoneFor the next year and a half, YouArchive.It continued to grow organically. A few blogs and websites dedicated to iPhone “hacking” and to the underground app stores wrote about the app. Even a small radio program in the US featured itI continued developing the app as a side project while in high school. I was also providing tech support and maintaining the infrastructure.Listening to users' feedback, I would periodically add new features. YouArchive.It started displaying emojis as soon as the iPhone supported that (outside of Japan, it required downloading an app to enable them). Users asked for and got the ability to restore texts in another iPhone, before iCloud was available. I also implemented other privacy features such as requiring a password to open the mobile app.What I didn’t realize at the time, however, is that I had, unknowingly and unwillingly, built a spying tool, and a really convenient and efficient one.Enough users were paying the fee to become VIP that I could cover the costs of running the service–this was before everyone was using Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, so I was renting a co-located physical server which wasn’t cheap–and keep some pocket cash. Not much, but enough to pay for some hobbies and outings with friends.Most importantly, building YouArchive.It gave me a lot of satisfaction and the opportunity to learn a lot of things about software development, business, dealing with customers and listening to their feedback.When I finally shut the service down, in June 2010, YouArchive.It had about 32,000 registered users who stored over 76 million messages.The first, and stated, reason for the deprecation was a technical one: YouArchive.It’s iPhone app required using private APIs, which meant it could not be published on the App Store (and it still couldn’t to this day), limiting it to jailbroken phones only.The second reason however was the most important to me, even though I have not revealed it until now.About a year before the app closed, in April 2009 I implemented a new feature that was requested by many users: the ability to upload texts automatically, in background, without user intervention. For paying “VIP” users only, the mobile app could automatically send all new text messages to YouArchive.It, as often as every 15 minutes.Automatic upload was an incredible convenience for many users that wanted to hoard their texts like me, to keep them forever, search within them, print or export them, or just liked having a backup.What I didn’t realize at the time, however, is that I had, unknowingly and unwillingly, built a spying tool, and a really convenient and efficient one.Thanks to background uploads, people could install the YouArchive.It app on another person’s iPhone, set it up, maybe even hide it (something possible on a jailbroken iPhone), and then watch as the text messages come in, almost real-time. Jealous partners, stalkers and the likes could install this tool on an unknowing victim’s phone with relative ease.I can’t remember how I discovered that — it might have been a support request from a user or a post in a bulletin board. I also can’t know how many people were using YouArchive.It for their own archiving rather than to spy on others. Realizing what my users were doing, however, made me feel really uncomfortable and I did not want any part of that anymore.As a senior in high school, barely eighteen years-old, I realized for the first time how technology can have a dark side, and how it’s often in our hands, as developers or other creators of technological solutions, to account for unintended consequences.They say that software is eating the world. That was how Marc Andreessen started his famous essay in 2011, and as we read this nine years later, it is something that should resonate with most people.If you never read it, or if you haven’t read it recently, I recommend you pick up Andreessen’s article now. Written in one of the most flourishing times for technology, it is an ode to the utterly enthusiastic and optimistic culture that was shaping Silicon Valley and that brought us the tech giants on which we depend on daily: Google, Facebook, Uber, Twitter, Apple, etc (some of these companies had been around for decades, but started expanding significantly again during those years). In Andreessen’s mind, just like in the minds of many others in the same environment and time, a software-controlled future was not only happening and imminent (as history proved him right), but also idyllic. Technology was to be the great force that solved all of the world’s problems, and Silicon Valley was to be the place where that would begin.As tech companies were “moving fast and breaking things” while working towards “making the world a better place”, they were disregarding the potential side effects of their innovations. Just like me when I created my text message archival app, they failed to consider how their products and services could be misused by some individuals, or negatively impact groups of people, or even cause large-scale socioeconomic shifts.Perhaps few examples of how unintended consequences caused harm to real people, sometimes even up to death are as strong as what we see with social media.There are already countless essays arguing how companies like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter have failed us all, us humans, and have invoked for them to be shut down; this article isn’t one of them. I do think that generally social media has the potential to do good things: personally, I appreciate how Facebook and Instagram let me keep in touch with my family in another continent.I have no doubt that the people building those platforms are good people, with positive intentions. If anything, their only sin is an excess of optimism and trust in the fact that humans always have the best intentions at heart. While that’s true for most of the people, most of the time, sadly it isn’t always the case.The “like” button, in its various declinations, was meant as a fun way to engage with content our friends posted online. Its unintended consequences included creating a world in which everyone is compelled to always portray themselves under the best possible light, and living a life full of beautiful objects, exotic trips, intriguing adventures. These fun distractions turn into comparing our own life with what we perceive as other people’s perfect existences and make us feel anxious and depressed.To start, we need to abandon the assumption that technological innovation is always, necessarily good.On social media, people tend to create “echo chambers”, in which people surround themselves only with those who think alike. This causes increased ideological polarization, with consequent political destabilization of societies, as well as more unhappiness. Facebook’s solution to the privacy scandals of 2016, including the Cambridge Analytica situation, was to double-down on their groups feature, which are just amplifying reinforcement biases and polarization of thinking.One of the biggest virtues of social media is their ability to support free speech. A constitutionally-protected right in every country around the world, at least in democratic ones, its defense is a noble cause. However, they also provided a platform to spread misinformation, foreign state-sponsored propaganda, disproved conspiracy theories, and lies that can be outright harmful to people, such as false and unproven medical treatment. Italian writer, philosopher, and Nobel Prize laureate Umberto Eco famously called social media “the invasion of the idiots”.What’s worse is that the algorithms that control what we see on websites like Facebook and YouTube feed us with content that is more and more extreme and polarizing and provide free amplification to a lot of harmful content. Those algorithms were designed to recommend content based on what users seem to enjoy consuming, with the ultimate goal of driving more user engagement: if you watch lots of aviation-related videos, you’ll see more stuff about airplanes; likewise, if you follow lifestyle bloggers/vloggers, you’ll see more of that content. However, over time certain actors mastered techniques to game the way algorithms work, and push content to users that drives their own agenda; a clear example is RT, or Russia Today, a channel affiliated with the Russian government that spreads misinformation and conspiracy theories on YouTube.It does not have to be as grim as it looks.In fact, there’s a lot that the people who are creating new things can do: software developers, product managers, inventors, startup founders, hobbyists… Everyone who is driving the innovation can, and should, take action to ensure that technology has a positive impact on the world, not just on average but at a wholesome.To start, we need to abandon the assumption that technological innovation is always, necessarily good.Just because something can be built, it doesn’t mean it should be built. We should begin by stopping and considering how the innovation we are working on could be misused, or how it could come with negative externalities. This is an exercise that software developers tend to be naturally good at, given that considering every possible scenario and every what-if’s around something is a necessity when writing code. A healthy amount of cynicism could be helpful in this case: starting with the assumption that if something could be misused, then it will be misused by some people.Sometimes the potential for abuse is rather clear, or it should be. The creators of the anonymous messaging app Yik Yak, which for a bit was all the rage on college campuses, should have seen the wave of bullying and harassment coming. Likewise, it should have been fairly clear how the people-rating app Peeple was going to be misused, even by those who did not watch Black Mirror.Sometimes, instead, the potential for abuse more subdued, and careful thinking and planning is required to account for all unintended consequences. These are the situations in which “moving fast and breaking things” is actually your enemy. This way of working, the norm in many Venture Capital-funded startups, often causes creators to put growth before everything, and is the opposite of adopting a responsible amount of mindfulness.Instead, you should instead validate your idea, discuss it with others, and while testing prototypes, define meaningful KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) that look at the impact outside of your business goals too. For example, if the sole KPI is user engagement, you could end up writing algorithms that promote polarizing content which tends to be more addicting, but not necessarily positive for the society.Of course, there will be cases in which we’ll miss things, as hindsight only works backwards. To limit damage and prevent problems from spreading further than needed, creators should periodically re-assess how their solution is having an impact in the broadest sense. Keeping a humble and open mind, or in other terms assuming a “growth mindset”, helps continuously learning and finding surprising things. With constant learning, it’s possible to identify opportunities to course-correct and resolve the issues, real or potential, that could lead to our creations to be misused.Sometimes that involve simple design changes, for example aimed at making users more in control: looking back, I could have limited the possibility of using my app from ten years ago as a spying tool by displaying a notification every time text messages were being uploaded. Recognizing how much of a cesspool the YouTube comment section can be, Google tried to force people to use real names when commenting on videos in 2013, but quickly reverted the change after facing significant backlash–possibly because the move was designed more as an imposition of their ill-fated Google+ social network than something to actually help the community grow healthier.However, in other situations doing the most ethical thing might require taking painful actions too, such as pivoting an idea or shutting something down entirely. On this subject, the final episode of HBO’s Silicon Valley show was beautiful, by the way–but I won’t spoil it for you any more than this!Thankfully, the topic of ethics is getting more and more relevant in software development, and it’s now something that’s taught in college campuses too. We need a new generation of creators that are more attentive to the issues that technology can cause, and not just those it can solve; this includes being more cautious and carefully account for unintended consequences.The conversation is also getting more mainstream, as individuals are starting to keep tech companies more accountable for their actions. At the same time, governments are (slowly, but steadily) stepping in to regulate those companies' behavior when they believe society is being harmed: examples include protection of labor and privacy rights.Tech workers themselves are starting to wake up to the importance of their role, and are now speaking out, with ever-increasing frequency and passion. Employees at companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc, have raised their voices and staged walkouts to demand their organizations to do better at all kinds of things that matter to them, including: promoting diversity and inclusion in their workplace and in the world, protecting human rights globally, protesting the sale of their technology to the military or other organizations perceived as unethical, etc.These good changes are hopefully the start of something bigger, a moment in which every creator is putting ethical considerations up and front.At the end of the day, in fact, we are all just working to make the world a better place.

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With two crucial Senate seats up for grabs, Mike Pence and Barack Obama joined the fray in support of their party’s candidates, and President Trump is headed there on Saturday.Credit...Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesDec. 4, 2020, 7:22 p.m. ETATLANTA — Some of the biggest names in national politics jumped into the fiercely contested runoffs for two Georgia Senate seats on Friday, even as a second recount showed that Joseph R. Biden Jr. had maintained his lead in the state and Republicans braced for a visit by President Trump, who has railed against his loss there with baseless claims of fraud.With Mr. Trump set to campaign for the two Republican incumbents, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, on Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence and former President Barack Obama held dueling events to underscore the vital stakes in the special elections: If both Republicans are defeated, control of the Senate will shift to Democrats just as Mr. Biden moves into the Oval Office.Mr. Obama appeared virtually at a turn-out-the-vote event for Jon Ossoff, the Democrat facing Mr. Perdue, and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, Ms. Loeffler’s opponent, and spoke of his frustration in seeing his initiatives blocked by the Republican-controlled Senate when he was in office. “If the Senate is controlled by Republicans who are interested in obstruction and gridlock, rather than progress and helping people, they can block just about anything,” Mr. Obama said.Mr. Pence — with Mr. Perdue and Ms. Loeffler by his side — received a Covid-19 briefing at the Atlanta headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and said later at a rally for the Republican candidates that “we’re going to save the Senate, and then we’re going to save America.”A second recount of the presidential vote in Georgia has finished, according to the Secretary of State website, showing Mr. Biden ahead by about 12,000 votes with 100 percent of the counties reporting.New campaign financial reports filed late Thursday showed a staggering influx of money into the state in the first days of runoffs that were expected to set spending records, with more than $300 million booked in television, radio and digital ads, according to data from AdImpact, an ad-tracking firm. Media buyers said the price of ads was soaring, especially for super PACs, to unseen heights.The Senate races are playing out at a hyperpartisan moment in American politics that has led to a civil war among Georgia Republicans divided over whether to support Mr. Trump as he persists with false assertions that the election was stolen from him. In Georgia and elsewhere, the president’s lawyers remain engaged in a failing, last-minute effort to throw the election to Mr. Trump.Even as he tweeted this week that he wanted “a big David and Kelly WIN,” Mr. Trump called Brian Kemp, the state’s Republican governor, “hapless” for failing to work to overturn the election results, while also criticizing Georgia’s top election official, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. His sustained assault on Georgia’s voting system prompted an extraordinary rebuke this week from another high-ranking elections official, who warned of violent threats against poll workers and publicly pleaded with the president to cool down his conspiratorial rhetoric.On Friday, State Senator Elena Parent, a Democrat on the judiciary subcommittee, which met on Thursday, said that she had been the target of violent, anonymous threats that appeared on a public internet chat room.The president’s appearance in Valdosta, near the Florida border, on Saturday evening comes after a concerted campaign by his advisers and Republican lawmakers to convince him that his presence is vital to increasing turnout among his supporters. Initially reluctant, the president agreed to hold the rally after being told that victories by the Republican Senate candidates would help prove his contention that his own win in Georgia was stolen from him, according to aides familiar with the conversations.ImageCredit...Pool photo by Alyssa PointerBut some Republicans in Georgia and Washington are fearful that Mr. Trump will go off-script, and potentially attack Mr. Kemp or Mr. Raffensperger. Party officials also worry that the president’s claims of fraud could backfire, undermining turnout by convincing Republican voters that the special elections are rigged against them anyway.L. Lin Wood, a lawyer and Republican supporter of Mr. Trump, and Sidney Powell, a lawyer who has filed lawsuits on the president’s behalf, urged Georgians Wednesday not to vote “unless your vote is secure.”That same day, a number of prominent Georgia Republicans, including former Gov. Nathan Deal, signed an open letter in which they warned that “the debate surrounding the state’s electoral system has made some within our party consider whether voting in the coming runoff election matters.”The leaders said that the party needed to focus on winning the two Senate seats, or risk turning the Senate over to a Democratic Party that “wishes to fundamentally alter the fabric of our nation into something unrecognizable.”Some senior Republicans in Washington are doing little to hide their concern about the damage that they believe Mr. Wood and Ms. Powell are inflicting.“It’s encouraging the president is going down there to rally the troops, because I know there’s some inconsistent messages being sent to his base supporters,” said Senator John Cornyn of Texas. Chip Lake, a Georgia-based Republican strategist who most recently worked for Representative Doug Collins — who unsuccessfully vied in November for Ms. Loeffler’s Senate seat — said Friday that Mr. Trump was facing “one of the biggest political speeches the president’s ever had to make, because the stakes are that high.”“If we have any portion of our base that might decide to boycott this election for any reason whatsoever, then we might be handing over the Senate to Democratic control,” Mr. Lake said.Although a hand-recount of the state’s five million votes reaffirmed that Mr. Biden had indeed won the Georgia election, Mr. Trump’s campaign demanded a second machine recount. Fulton County, which includes much of Atlanta and is the state’s most populous, certified its results on Friday. As of Friday evening, state election officials had not responded to queries about when they would officially announce the results of the recount or recertify Mr. Biden as the winner.The urgency of the senate races was reflected in the huge amounts of money pouring into the four campaigns in recent weeks: about $187 million just in online donations from Oct. 15 to Nov. 23, according to federal records from the donation-processing sites ActBlue and WinRed.In that 40-day period, both Democratic challengers out-raised their Republican opponents every day from online contributions and surpassed the previous Senate fund-raising record for a full quarter. Mr. Warnock raised $63.3 million in online donations and Mr. Ossoff raised $66.4 million.In that time, the two Republicans raised $58.2 million.ImageCredit...Nicole Craine for The New York TimesBut well-heeled Republicans have erased much of the Democrats’ financial advantage with giant donations to a super PAC that raised $70 million in less than three weeks from a who’s who of Republican megadonors, including Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone ($15 million) and Ken Griffin of Citadel ($12 million). The media mogul Rupert Murdoch gave $1 million, as did his son, Lachlan, the chief executive of the Fox Corporation.Ms. Loeffler, one of the wealthiest members of the Senate, put $23 million of her own money into her campaign to get to the runoff and her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, has donated an additional $10 million to a pro-Loeffler super PAC.Big contributions from Democratic donors are lagging the Republicans. The leading Senate Democratic super PAC raised a little more than $10 million in the 20 days after the general election, records show. The biggest donation — $2.5 million — came from the organization that Stacey Abrams created, Fair Fight, after her narrow loss in 2018 for the governor’s race.As Ms. Abrams’s star power has increased, Fair Fight itself has emerged as a major magnet for Democratic giving, pulling in nearly $35 million in 40 days that ended Nov. 23. Ms. Abrams, widely credited with leading the Democratic renaissance in Georgia, also appeared in the virtual rally on Friday for the two Democratic candidates.“We won this election decisively, and, despite the number of recounts, it keeps giving us the same answer: that Georgia Democrats showed up, that Georgians showed up and that we decided that we wanted to move this nation in the right direction,” Ms. Abrams said.Mr. Ossoff voiced a major theme that both Democratic candidates were seeking to exploit: allegations that Ms. Loeffler and Mr. Perdue benefited from questionable stock trades as they learned about the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic. “We’re running against, like, the Bonnie and Clyde of political corruption in America, who represent politicians who put themselves over the people,” he said. Mr. Perdue and Ms. Loeffler have denied any inappropriate financial dealings.On Friday, Mr. Pence rallied on behalf of Ms. Loeffler and Mr. Perdue in Savannah, where he warned that Democrats would advance a liberal, big-government agenda if they were allowed to seize control of the Senate.“If you don’t vote, they win,” Mr. Pence told the small but enthusiastic crowd at the Savannah airport. “If you don’t vote, there could be nothing to stop Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi from cutting our military, raising taxes and passing the agenda of the radical left.”Mr. Pence was joined at the airport by Mr. Perdue but not Ms. Loeffler, who returned to Atlanta after a young man on her campaign staff was killed on Friday afternoon in a traffic accident.Before the rally, Mr. Pence attended the C.D.C. briefing with the Republican candidates, saying the nation is facing a “challenging time” but also “a season of hope,” with the likely approval of the first coronavirus vaccine coming as soon as next week.Sheryl Stolberg, Jonathan Martin and Rachel Shorey contributed reporting.

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It’s that time of year (as it was last year and the year before) when geographers cozy up to zoom chats with spatially-minded friends, replete with our finest topographically-themed virtual backgrounds, our Lego assemblages meticulously arranged within view, and only our most coveted geography tomes visible on the bookshelf (plus a handful outsider works like the Farside Gallery or knitting books sprinkled in to best reflect our multifaceted interests).Have you ever looked at a globe and thought…”You know, I think I could someday somehow craft up a sort of globe. I mean, why not; you carve up some canoe-shaped gores and just like put them together or something.”I have.Well behold, now we can all print out some 2D gores and gingerly tuck them into a 3D form! Download the craft template here—we’re all in this together now.



Crafty BitsHere are some snapshots of my assembly process. If I can do it, you can do it better…I printed the pages on cardstock. We have kids so there is always a healthy stack of cardstock paper lying around (if we were to ever run out it would be like Lord of the Flies). Regular print paper will work too, it will just be a bit more…delicate. Also, I used an exacto knife because I have one but I did a couple with scissors too and it went just as well.



After those charming little gore-lobes were extracted from their papery bonds I began folding them in. This part went surprisingly well; I thought I’d be fighting it and howling barbaric yawps deep into the night but it went together in a few minutes. I started by taping the ends of the lobes together (touching the equator together, taping inside), then ran a quick set of stabilizing tape bits along the mid-latitudes.



Same for the other hemisphere. See that white strip of paper edge along the seams? Me too. If you are a better crafter than me, you’ll run a blue marker along the cut edge of the paper before assembly. I am filled with regret, but will forgive myself in time.



Ok, this part was a joy. I was not prepared for how well the slots would fit and there was a satisfying little snap when the two hemispheres came together. I hope it goes that well for you.



You can’t tell in the pictures but my globe came out a bit oblong. Sort of like a rugby ball. Oh well, I’ll just say it was an aesthetic choice.Willow hot-glued a button and ribbon to the top so we could hang it on the tree.



Could it do with a bit of craft-savvy trim work like yarn or piping along the seams to dress it up a bit? Oh yeah, for sure. Also, if you are pressed for time, try cutting out the template without the tabs, stack the two cutouts like a sandwich, and just tape the six edges. Then you might be able to form it into something globe-like when you pull the two poles apart.Anyway, where were we? Oh, right, Geographic Information Systems…GIS Nerd FunThe ornament template was created in ArcGIS Pro. I’d been wanting to play around with creating globe gores in Pro for a while so this was a perfect excuse. I consulted with Esri’s resident geodesic genius Bojan Šavrič, and he suggested a couple projections to try for creating the gores. I went with Cassini. Oh, he also insisted I go with 12 gores instead of 6 because it would result in a rounder globe but he is a geodessist so of course he’d want more gores. I’m lazy so I went with 6.The extent that Cassini gives you in Pro is a 90° swath. So if I were super lazy and not just sort-of lazy I would just go with four gores and my job would be done. But I want 6 gores so that means my visible extent needs to be only (hang on…360 divided by 6 equals…) 60°. Hmmm…



So I made up a set of grid cube polygons at 10° intervals and split them (manual selection, then make layer from selected features in layer’s right-click menu) out into layers of 30° latitude bands. I gave them a new naming (in hindsight I wish I’d named them by their longitude range as it would have saved me lots of headaches in the following steps).



Then I used these to mask my globe’s image layer so that I was only seeing a 60° wide swath (because I want to have 6 gores, each 60° wide, circling the earth).



Then I duplicated the map, edited the projection to slide over another 60°, and updated my mask layers. See, another gore!



Then in a layout, I added in all the map views at the same map scale and same map view size, and arranged them in a radial fashion around the north pole. I sized the map frame so it was only big enough to show the north half of the gore, because I was doing the two hemispheres in separate layouts. Mostly it was a bunch of map frame copy/pasting, then swapping out the map that each map view pointed to. Lots of scale copy/pasting (lower-left corner) and manual positioning of the map navigation.Pro tip (wink): If your layout is in active map-navigation mode and you want to navigate within the overall layout, just hold the “1” key down (no need to constantly switch between activating/closing map nav mode). Aubri Kinghorn told me about that and it’s a mega time-saver.



You can set the rotation of the map frame, but the map within it stays un-rotated. So you set the angle in two places to rotate the map frame and the map itself, to the same desired angle. You do this to each map view, with the desired angle (I had 6 gores so it was increments of 60°). Check it…



I duplicated my Northern Hemisphere layout and reconfigured it to show the Southern Hemisphere. You have no idea how much this hurt my brain.



Ok, my friends, that’s all there is to it! If you’d like to open up my source Pro project, I’ve packaged it up for you here. You can apply your own cartography. Speaking of cartography, this ornament is a mini-version of a giant 8-foot globe Esri just installed on campus (more about that insanely fun project later)!So here is the paper globe ornament template, once more, if you want to give this fun craft a go! And if you do I would loooooove to see some photos of the process and result. You’ve been so generous in the past to share snapshots of the globe ornaments you, or your class, have made. It’s so fun. I hope you enjoy it and stay well my map friends!Love, John


About the author

I have far too much fun looking for ways to understand and present data visually, hopefully driving product strategy and engaging users. I work in the Content team at Esri, pushing and pulling data in all sorts of absurd ways -and then talking about it. I also get to spend time with the Story Maps team, working on fun and useful user experiences.When I'm not doing those things, I'm chasing around toddlers and wrangling chickens, and generally getting into other ad-hoc adventures. Life is good.

Loads more how-to posts: esri.com/arcgis-blog/author/j_nelson/My YouTube channel: youtube.com/c/JohnNelsonMapsLoads of Styles for Pro: esriurl.com/nelsonstylesInstagram: instagram.com/johnmnelson/ Connect:




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Illustration: Activision Blizzard / Netflix / KotakuFor those of you who love corporate beef, here’s a whopper: Activision Blizzard is suing Netflix. As reported by Deadline, Netflix poached a top Activision exec, chief financial officer Spencer Neumann, before his contract expired. In response, Activision filed suit in the Superior Court of California earlier today.According to Activision’s lawyers, Neumann started working at the Call of Duty factory in May 2017, with his contract set to lapse in April of this year. (The game publisher retained the right to extend that by one further year, too.) Netflix wooed him in late 2018. A job lasting merely a year-and-a-half job might be a corporate faux pas—and might be an eyebrow-raiser on a LinkedIn page—but it’s the contract violation that serves as the bedrock of today’s complaint.Activision is asking for a permanent injunction—basically, a court order that says, “You can’t do this anymore”—against Netflix, barring the streaming service from hiring Activision employees who may have “fixed-term employment agreements.” Activision is also asking for punitive damages, or “punies,” which is lawyer-speak for “$$$$.”Activision isn’t just apparently pissed about Neumann, though. Scroll through the complaint—which you can read here in full courtesy of Deadline—and you’ll see some language complete with thinly veiled irritation that Netflix is making apparent inroads into the video game space, following Neumann’s 2018 onboarding. Activision’s lawyers stress that Netflix attended E3 in 2019, and hosted a panel called “Bringing Your Favorite Shows to Life: Developing Netflix Originals Into Video Games.” I’m not so sure about the panel’s name. To date, I have yet to pout and then fail to protect a British VIP in a game based on The Bodyguard.I also haven’t seen an Emily in Paris game that lets me become the expat mid-level marketing guru I’ve always known has existed deep in my bones.G/O Media may get a commissionThe complaint points out that a game based on Stranger Things—the popular horror series that bears no resemblance to Super 8, nope, none at all—came out last year for multiple platforms. The suits also mention a video game based on The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. (Presumably, they’re talking about The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics, which came out in February.)Activision, of course, is now famous for publishing the Call of Duty franchise. According to the NPD Group, it’s the best-selling video game franchise in U.S. history.Read the whole report on Deadline.More at the nexus of Netflix and games:

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, have agreed to try to reach a deal that could be included in a must-pass spending measure.Credit...Erin Scott for The New York TimesDec. 4, 2020Updated 7:09 p.m. ETWASHINGTON — The prospects for an elusive bipartisan stimulus deal appeared to brighten on Friday as Speaker Nancy Pelosi projected fresh optimism that the House and Senate could come to terms and President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. prodded lawmakers to “act and act now” on a measure he insisted was within reach.Even as liberal Democrats warned that the emerging compromise was woefully inadequate amid economic devastation wrought by the pandemic, Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, told reporters that she and Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, had agreed to redouble efforts to find a deal that could be merged with an enormous year-end spending package currently under discussion.“That would be our hope because that is the vehicle leaving the station,” Ms. Pelosi said at a news conference in the Capitol Friday morning, a day after speaking with Mr. McConnell. He expressed similar resolve on Thursday.After months in which the two top congressional leaders refused to budge from their respective positions, the shared goal marked significant progress — particularly as Ms. Pelosi appeared poised to accept a far smaller stimulus package than she had championed.But while momentum has built behind a $908 billion plan outlined by a bipartisan group of moderates that top Democrats have embraced as the starting point for talks, significant hurdles remained. No actual bill has been written yet, and Mr. McConnell has yet to offer an explicit endorsement of a plan that is several times larger than what he has previously said Republicans could accept.Mr. Biden said on Friday that he was “confident” that an agreement was possible, but pointedly declined to answer when asked by reporters whether he had spoken with Mr. McConnell, a negotiating counterpart with whom he has brokered many deals.“It’s not going to satisfy everybody,” Mr. Biden said of the compromise plan, “but the option is, if you insist on everything, we’re likely to get nothing on both sides.”Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent and former Democratic candidate for president, was among those who were not satisfied. He said Friday afternoon that he could not support the proposal without changes, deriding the inclusion of a liability shield for businesses operating during the pandemic as “a get-out-of-jail-free card to companies that put the lives of their workers and customers at risk.” He said the omission of another round of $1,200 direct payments to Americans was “unacceptable.”“I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to significantly improve this bill,” Mr. Sanders concluded. “But, in its current form, I cannot support it.”The compromise proposal was offered by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Senators Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah and Susan Collins, Republican of Maine. The group and their aides are expected to continue working to finalize legislation through the weekend.Stimulus talks have been stalemated for months, with lawmakers unable to resolve differences over issues like the liability protections, a Republican demand that Democrats have resisted, and providing federal aid to state and local governments, a top priority for Democrats that many Republicans oppose. They are also still struggling to resolve a number of policy disputes in the must-pass bills needed to keep the government funded beyond Dec. 11.The emerging compromise would revive lapsed federal unemployment benefits at $300 a week for 18 weeks, and provide billions of dollars in funding for small businesses, schools and the imminent distribution of a vaccine.“What I have real concerns about is the American people thinking Congress struck a deal, we’re getting Covid relief, and then their lives changing very little,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, told reporters on Capitol Hill. “Will I support resources to hospitals and schools and firefighters? Absolutely. But I am extremely concerned that it’s not going to solve the immediate problems that people have.”Though Ms. Pelosi conceded there were still obstacles to an agreement, she insisted there would be “sufficient time” to close a deal before the Dec. 11 government funding deadline. She pointed to lower-than-expected job gains reported on Friday as an added accelerant.“There is momentum. There is momentum,” Ms. Pelosi said. “I am pleased that the tone of our conversations is one that is indicative of the decision to get the job done.”After months of insisting she would not accept a slimmed-down relief bill, Ms. Pelosi now appears poised to accept less than one third of the spending Democrats initially proposed to prop up small businesses, help the uninsured and jobless, boost state and local governments, and meet immediate public health needs.Mr. Biden and his advisers, faced with the prospect of the economy cratering even further before his inauguration on Jan. 20, have publicly pushed for lawmakers to reach agreement on a smaller package, promising more action in the coming months.“To truly end this crisis, Congress is going to need to fund more testing as well as a more equitable and free distribution of the vaccine,” Mr. Biden said. “We’re going to need more economic relief to bridge through 2021 until this pandemic and economic crisis are over.”Pressed on her reversal, Ms. Pelosi was defensive on Friday, saying her earlier, multitrillion-dollar proposals that Senate Republicans called nonstarters were “not a mistake” but important parts of a negotiating strategy that may now yield results. She insisted that Mr. Biden’s election and the looming arrival of two vaccines amounted to “a total game-changer.”“President-elect Biden has said this package would be at best just a start,” she said. “That’s how we see it, as well. It is less money, but over a shorter period of time, and we need to do it to save lives and livelihood with the hope that much more help is on the way.”Ms. Pelosi’s Republican adversaries portrayed her statements as an admission that she had put political considerations over those of American businesses and families. Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the minority leader, called the remarks “despicable.”“Anyone care to try and dispute the wasted time and damaged economy that came from this WASN’T flat out cynical politics on the Speakers part???,” Representative Bill Huizenga, Republican of Michigan, wrote on Twitter. “Workers and small businesses were crippled and we are in worse shape now because of it.”Thomas Kaplan and Jim Tankersley contributed reporting.

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Photo: Desiree do Valle / Netflix





It’s a high-concept, thorough summation of the best and worst of the holidays

By Dec 4, 2020, 7:01pm EST

















So much of Christmas is about tradition: eating the same foods we eat every year, singing the same songs, watching the same movies, and waiting for the inevitable point where Aunt Margie gets so wasted that she stops making sense and starts slurring absolute nonsense. Some might call it ritual, while some might call it tedium to be stuck in the same continuous loop year after year without anything changing or improving.That’s exactly what happens in Netflix’s newest Christmas movie, the Brazilian feature Just Another Christmas (or Tudo Bem No Natal Que Vem in Portuguese). Jorge (Leandro Hassum) has always hated Christmas because it’s the same day as his birthday, and he was always cheated out of a double celebration. Middle-aged and sick of having to dress up as Santa for his kids, he yells at his catatonic father-in-law (Levi Ferreira) for not being mentally there for the holiday. Grandpa Nhanhão places a curse on Jorge, who then falls off the roof while trying to convince his children he’s “Natal Papai,” as they call Father Christmas in Brazil.When Jorge wakes up the next day, it isn’t December 26th — it’s Christmas again, but a year has passed. He can’t remember anything that happened in the intervening 365 days, even though he got a promotion and a new car. Every year, he wakes up on Christmas, and “Christmas Jorge” can only remember the things that happened on Christmases past, not what happened in between. It’s a concept higher than the employees at a Denver weed dispensary.








Photo: Desiree do Valle / Netflix



At first, Just Another Christmas seems like just another rip-off of Groundhog Day, as Jorge starts to anticipate every beat of the days ahead. But that isn’t because the same day is literally repeating, it’s because Christmas is built around repetition. When every day is Christmas, Jorge can anticipate the rhythms better than most. But the film quickly diverges from the familiar mold. Once Jorge tells his long-suffering wife Laura (Elisa Pinheiro) about his “condition,” she informs the family, and they all start to account for it, so it isn’t some secret time loop he has to navigate alone.Over time, things start to slowly shift. Jorge’s kids grow older, his relationship with Laura frays, and he wakes up one Christmas with a short haircut and a mustache, which “regular Jorge” loves, but “Christmas Jorge” says makes him look like a Mario brother. It’s all delivered to comedic effect, with Hassum’s performance giving the character a sort of manic everyman quality. He never stops complaining or talking, but he also dutifully does whatever his wife says. Kevin Hart or Ray Romano would be perfectly cast in the English-language remake. (And it’d be good business for some studio to grab it — this is one of the best and most imaginative Christmas movies out there.)Just Another Christmas isn’t just a comedic examination of Jorge, it’s inevitably an examination of the holiday itself. At first, Jorge is exhausted by the way every Christmas is the same, but gradually, he realizes the importance of tradition. He starts to see the day as a chance to reflect, a way to get in touch with the ideal version of himself that only pops up once a year, and isn’t corrupted by the other 364 days per year of working hard, struggling with family, and the indignities of modern life. He also accepts that the holidays are different experiences for people in different phases of life, as he goes from getting the kids hyped for Santa to not having any kids home for Christmas.








Photo: Desiree do Valle / Netflix



As the film spans decades over the course of 100 minutes, it eventually becomes less of an examination of Christmas, and becomes an examination of life, and how people determine what’s important and what’s worth saving. It’s startlingly philosophical for a Christmas movie, but that’s all balanced out by the great verbal and physical comedy, including a hilarious ongoing gag about Jorge’s contentious mustache.The story and the performances — including an excellent turn by Danielle Winits as Jorge’s secretary Marcia — are the real draw rather than the style, which is competent but conventional. The film looks more like an expensive TV movie than a theatrical release, but it proves that great characters and an inventive (though belabored) concept can take a project far.Many Americans probably haven’t been to Brazil for Christmas, where it’s held in the summer, and they’re more likely to eat panettone than figgy pudding. But they’ll certainly recognize the feelings that surround the holidays, whether it’s the anxiety of shopping at a crowded mall, the dread of dealing with unruly family members, or the healing power of the Christmas spirit, when we finally decide to embrace it. Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also a pain in the ass, and it can be incredibly depressing for some people. Finally, there’s a movie that fully recognizes both, and is all the better for it. Just Another Christmas is streaming on Netflix now.














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Building radio receivers from scratch is still a popular project since it can be done largely with off-the-shelf discrete components and a wire long enough for the bands that the radio will receive. That’s good enough for AM radio, anyway, but you’ll need to try this DIY FM receiver if you want to listen to something more culturally relevant.Receiving frequency-modulated radio waves is typically more difficult than their amplitude-modulated cousins because the circuitry necessary to demodulate an FM signal needs a frequency-to-voltage conversion that isn’t necessary with AM. For this build, [hesam.moshiri] uses a TEA5767 FM chip because of its ability to communicate over I2C. He also integrated a 3W amplifier into this build, and everything is controlled by an Arduino including a small LCD screen which displays the current tuned frequency. With the addition of a small 5V power supply, it’s a tidy and compact build as well.While the FM receiver in this project wasn’t built from scratch like some AM receivers we’ve seen, it’s still an interesting build because of the small size, I2C capability, and also because all of the circuit schematics are available for all of the components in the build. For those reasons, it could be a great gateway project into more complex FM builds.



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President Emmanuel Macron and others there have been angered by outside criticism.By The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.Dec. 4, 2020, 7:00 p.m. ETCredit...Sebastien Nogier/EPA, via ShutterstockIn the wake of two horrific incidents of Islamist terrorism in France, President Emmanuel Macron and many of his countrymen have reacted angrily to criticism from abroad suggesting that French policies, and especially the French version of state-enforced secularism, somehow contributed to the lethal radicalization of a sliver of the country’s large Muslim population.The French reaction is understandable. The beheading of a schoolteacher and the murder of three churchgoers in Nice by Islamist terrorists cannot be justified by any grievance, real or perceived. Any attempt to lay the blame for these horrific crimes on their victims, or on national policies, is perverse. France, a country with a deep commitment to human rights and a robust tradition of self-criticism, offers many legal avenues of protest — witness the Yellow Vest movement that has periodically convulsed France for two years now.In the face of scathing criticism from Mr. Macron — expressed in a letter in The Financial Times, an interview with Ben Smith, the media columnist of The New York Times, and elsewhere — The F.T. and Politico Europe both removed articles questioning the role of French policies in Islamist violence. The core of the president’s complaint was that English-speaking countries that share France’s values were in effect “legitimizing this violence, and saying that the heart of the problem is that France is racist and Islamophobic.”It is not always fully appreciated outside France’s borders that the country is home to the largest number of Muslims in the Western world, more than 8 percent of the country’s total population. It also has a history of horrific terrorist attacks, including, in 2015, the raid on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the assaults on Paris cafes and entertainment halls that left 130 dead.Furthermore, France’s approach to ethnic minorities differs from the American model in fundamental ways not often understood. The American way is basically to promote the coexistence of different ethnic groups and religions; the French model, born of the French Revolution, is a universalist one in which people of all races, religions and backgrounds are treated without differentiation as citizens with equal rights. France maintains no register of people’s ethnicity or religion.A critical element of that model is the French concept of secularism, laïcité, a legacy of the French struggle against the power of the Roman Catholic Church. Whereas freedom of religion in the United States began as defense of religion against the state, France’s began with a defense of the state against religion. So French policies such as banning Muslim head scarves in school, perceived by many of the French as combating religious coercion, is often criticized in what the French call the “Anglo-Saxon” world as an attempt to forcibly impose French identity on immigrants.To its critics, the French model does too little to improve the lot of Arab and African Muslims living in suburban public housing, the “banlieues” where youth unemployment runs sky-high and many of the Islamist radicals are incubated. Conditions there have only worsened with the coronavirus pandemic.In a major speech in early October, Mr. Macron assailed the rise of “Islamist separatism” and promised a new law to defend France’s secular and democratic values. He also recognized the problem of the “ghettoization” of French cities where “we built our own separatism ourselves,” but the speech drew sharp criticism from French Muslims, including charges that it stigmatized Muslims, especially women and working-class Muslims.These are issues that should be open to debate, both within France and among mature democracies. But the debate cannot cross into any notion that any victim of Islamist terror “had it coming.” Mr. Macron is right to reject any such suggestion.But he goes too far in seeing malicious insult throughout the “Anglo-American media.” Serious news organizations in the United States, including The New York Times, have sought to offer full and nuanced reports on the terror attacks in France and on the French government’s policies. It was unfair of Mr. Macron’s international communications adviser, Anne-Sophie Bradelle, to suggest that The Times and The Washington Post said France was “at war with Islam.” Neither suggested this, or argued that France’s core problem was that it is “racist and Islamophobic.”But racism and Islamophobia are major problems in France, as they are in the United States, Britain and elsewhere in the Western world. So is Islamist terror, and the many issues of cultural integration, tolerance and competition posed by mass migration. These are the common challenges of the Western world, and no country has demonstrated a fully adequate response.Under President Trump, the United States government has woefully abandoned its tradition of openness to immigrants and refugees, and the president has deliberately fanned racism and intolerance for political ends. French news outlets have not spared Mr. Trump and his followers in their coverage of his administration, nor should they.The French media has also demonstrated a robust readiness to assail Mr. Macron’s policies, as it has done in recent weeks against the introduction of a “general security” bill that, among other things, included what looked like an attempt to protect the police from public scrutiny. After two incidents of police brutality caught on video, the bill was pulled back for a rewrite.That’s what the news media does, at home and abroad. It is its function and duty to ask questions about the roots of racism, ethnic anger and the spread of Islamism among Western Muslims, and to critique the effectiveness and impact of government policies. When terrorists strike, however, there is only one response. On that front, Mr. Macron, France is not alone.

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If you’ve ever wished you could share an in-app purchase with your family, you may be in luck. Today, Apple announced that subscriptions and one-time in-app purchases can now be shared among families. If you buy a consumable item, like coins in a game, you’ll still be the only one who can use them, but if you unlock an ad-free or pro version of an app it could be eligible for the new Family Sharing program. Apple announced this change back in June with Big Sur, but it’s finally letting developers flip the switch to allow subscriptions and purchases to be shared.


App developer PSA: it is now possible to enable Family Sharing for IAPs and subscriptions, but you have to turn that on in App Store Connect. For subscriptions, it's under the duration… pic.twitter.com/Hj3NBRN3L0— Steve Harris (@steveharris) December 3, 2020



Developers will need to flip that switch, though, as allowing Family Sharing of a subscription or purchase is a manual opt-in. At the moment, only one of my subscriptions, the calorie-tracking app FoodNoms, allows sharing its subscription, but other big names such as writing app Ulysses have also announced support for the feature. However, it does seem like the functionality is rolling out slowly. I asked my sister if she could access a subscription I had shared, and she couldn’t. If you’re the person who buys the subscriptions in the family, It’s easy to check which of them have the option to share by going to Settings, then clicking on your name. From there, tap Subscriptions.










At the top of the screen, you’ll see a switch labeled Share New Subscriptions. Setting it to on will automatically give your family members access to any eligible in-app subscriptions that you sign up for. If you’re planning on signing up for any embarrassing subscriptions that you think might get shared with mom and dad, you may want to turn this off for the time being. Beneath that, you’ll see the list of your current subscriptions. Tapping on one will bring you to the Edit Subscription screen, where you’ll see a Share with Family switch if the developer has decided to allow it. Turning it on will give your family access to the subscription just as if they had bought it themselves!








The Share with Family toggle will show up on apps that support sharing. For me, it was off by default.


MacRumors has reported that the process is different for sharing one-time in-app purchases. For example, Working Copy’s Pro version unlock is done through an in-app payment. For a family member to be able to access it, they’ll have to go to the App Store, click on their account button in the upper right corner, go to Purchased, and then select the family member that purchased the unlock. They’ll then have to download the app from that screen. Depending on how the app is set up, they may then need to click the Restore Purchases button. This process is way more involved, so I’d love to see some tweaks to it down the road.If your favorite app doesn’t support subscription sharing yet, it may be worth checking back in on the Subscription screen from time to time. There are reports of users getting notifications when one of their subscriptions becomes eligible for Family Sharing, but I haven’t gotten any yet. Given that I’m currently not able to share my budgeting app subscription with my wife, I’ll certainly be checking the Subscription screen every once in a while to see if my favorite apps are adopting the model.

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The American economic recovery continues to slow, stranding millions who have yet to find a new job after being thrown out of work by the coronavirus pandemic.The latest evidence came Friday when the Labor Department reported that employers added 245,000 jobs in November, the fifth month in a row that the pace of hiring has tapered off. The figure for October was revised downward to 610,000, from the initially stated 638,000.The unemployment rate in November was 6.7 percent, down from the previous month’s rate of 6.9 percent. But that figure does not fully capture the extent of the joblessness because it doesn’t include people who have dropped out of the labor force and are not actively searching for work.






















































Unemployment rate

















By Ella Koeze·Unemployment rates are seasonally adjusted.·Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics





















November’s job totals were dragged down in part by the loss of 93,000 temporary census workers who are no longer needed now that the official counting has wound down.More than half those knocked out of a job early in the pandemic have been rehired, but there are still roughly 10 million fewer jobs than there were in February. Many people in that group are weeks away from losing their unemployment benefits, as the emergency assistance approved by Congress last spring is set to expire at the end of the year.“We’re in an unusual position right now in the economy,” said Ernie Tedeschi, an economist at the accounting firm Evercore ISI. “Far off in the distance there is sunlight” because of progress on a vaccine, he said, but until then, “we’re going to have a few of the toughest months of this pandemic, and there will be a lot of scars left to heal.”






















































The number of people who have been unemployed long-term is still rising




Share of unemployed who have been out of work 27 weeks or longer














By Ella Koeze·Data is seasonally adjusted.·Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics





















Covid-19 caseloads have doubled in the past month, leading to new restrictions and tamping down shopping and other commerce. In much of the country, colder weather is likely to discourage outdoor dining, which many restaurants have depended on. And Congress has been unable to agree on a new spending package to help struggling businesses and households.Credit...Matt York/Associated PressMillions of federal student loan borrowers will continue to have a reprieve on their loans through Jan. 31, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced Friday, extending a pandemic relief measure that had been set to expire at the end of the month.The extension avoids what borrowers — and the loan servicers that handle their accounts — feared would be a messy disruption between the end of President Trump’s administration and the start of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s term.Mr. Biden has not said if he intends to extend the student loan moratorium, but he has called for limited student-debt cancellation and other relief efforts. The announcement means the moratorium, which has been in place since March, can be extended during the Biden administration with no interruption.As of Sept. 30, 23 million borrowers had taken advantage of the relief option, suspending payments on $927 billion in debt, according to Education Department data.The moratorium allows borrowers to skip payments on their federal student loans without penalty and without incurring interest. For those who opt to keep making payments, the entire amount goes toward their loan principal.The measure covers only federal loans that are owned by the Education Department, which holds the vast majority of all student loans. Borrowers with private loans still need to make those payments.The moratorium on payments extends to those who have defaulted on their federal loans and are having their wages garnished. Employers have been told to stop garnishing paychecks, Ms. DeVos said, and those who have had money garnished are due refunds.“The coronavirus pandemic has presented challenges for many students and borrowers, and this temporary pause in payments will help those who have been impacted,” Ms. DeVos said in her announcement. “The added time also allows Congress to do its job and determine what measures it believes are necessary and appropriate.”






















































Unemployment is falling across demographics















Unemployment rates for Black, Hispanic, Asian and white workers Unemployment rates for men and women
























By Ella Koeze·Rates are seasonally adjusted except those for Asian men and women.·Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics





















Distress can be found in nearly every corner of the labor market, but the pain is not evenly distributed.Joblessness among minority groups was significantly higher in November than the 5.9 percent rate for whites: 10.3 percent of Blacks, 8.4 percent of Hispanics and 6.7 percent of Asians were unemployed.The jobless rate for women edged down to 6.1 percent from 6.5 percent in October, but a chunk of that decline is because women, much more than men, have taken on family burdens caused by remote schooling and closed child care centers.Female and Black workers fill a disproportionate share of service sector roles as well as government jobs, which have shrunk significantly since February. In November alone, 21,000 local education jobs were lost.The pandemic has caused radical changes in the economy and the labor market in a short time. Large sectors of the economy like hospitality, travel and entertainment are floundering, while there have been spurts of growth in others like shipping, technology and cybersecurity that support work and shopping from home.“The damage is uneven,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist at the job site Indeed. As is the case with most downturns, he said, there are “widening racial and ethnic gaps and more pain for people with less education.”In other ways, he said, the damage to the labor market is different than in the past, with the loss of so many service jobs hitting bigger cities more.Credit...Andrew Harnik/Associated PressPresident-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. renewed his calls on Friday for Congress and President Trump “to act and act now” to boost the sagging economic recovery, while expressing confidence that further economic pain will bring lawmakers back to the negotiating table for an additional round of aid after he takes office in January.Speaking in Delaware, Mr. Biden thanked the Republican and Democratic senators who are attempting to negotiate a $908 billion compromise package during the lame-duck session, saying, “This situation is urgent. If we don’t act now, the future will be very bleak.” His statement followed the bleak jobs report for November, which showed U.S. hiring tapering off.He urged lawmakers to come back for another wave of assistance after Inauguration Day, in part to help hasten the deployment of a Covid-19 vaccine.“To truly end this crisis, Congress is going to need to fund more testing as well as a more equitable and free distribution of the vaccine,” Mr. Biden said. “We’re going to need more economic relief to bridge through 2021 until this pandemic and economic crisis are over.”Taking questions from reporters after his speech, Mr. Biden avoided answering whether he has spoken with Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, the majority leader, about negotiations over an aid package. But he said he believed that Republicans would see a need to work with his administration to pass another package this winter, because, he said, “the country’s going to be in dire, dire, dire straits if they don’t.”Republicans, he said, are “going to find that there’s an overwhelming need as these numbers skyrocket.”Videotranscripttranscript‘There Is Momentum,’ Pelosi Says of Coronavirus Relief DealSpeaker Nancy Pelosi expressed optimism a bipartisan stimulus deal could soon be reached after she and Senator Mitch McConnell agreed to find a compromise that could merge with a year-end spending package.As you know, we are engaged in the talks on the omnibus bill. When I spoke to Leader McConnell yesterday, we talked about the possibility of putting a Covid package on the omnibus bill. But he and I, being appropriators, know that if you’re going to do that, you have to have an omnibus bill. And so we have to work through all of the provisions that are still unresolved there. We’re making progress. Senator Schumer and I believe that the framework — the bipartisan framework unveiled by the senators in a bipartisan way with the support of House members, Josh Gottheimer in the House from our side — on both sides of the aisle could be the basis for real bicameral negotiations. President-elect Biden has said that this package would be just at best, just a start. And that’s how we see it as well. It’s less money, but over a shorter period of time. And we need to do it to save lives and livelihood with the hope that much more help is on the way. There is momentum. There is momentum with the action that the senators and House members in a bipartisan way have taken with them. It could provide meaning relief for millions who are suffering. Economically, personally, health-wise, and so I’m pleased that the tone of our conversations is one that is indicative of the decision to get the job done.Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed optimism a bipartisan stimulus deal could soon be reached after she and Senator Mitch McConnell agreed to find a compromise that could merge with a year-end spending package.CreditCredit...Erin Scott for The New York TimesSpeaker Nancy Pelosi flashed fresh optimism on Friday that the House and Senate could soon reach a bipartisan deal on an elusive pandemic stimulus plan after she and Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, agreed to try to find an agreement that could be merged with an enormous year-end spending package.“That would be our hope because that is the vehicle leaving the station,” Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, said at a news conference in the Capitol Friday morning, a day after her conversation with Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky. The phone call marked their first conversation since the election.Though Ms. Pelosi conceded there were still obstacles to an agreement, she insisted there would be “sufficient time” to close a deal before the Dec. 11 government funding deadline. She pointed to lower-than-expected job gains reported on Friday as an added accelerant.“There is momentum. There is momentum,” Ms. Pelosi said. “The tone of our conversations is one that is indicative of the decision to get the job done.”Mr. McConnell expressed similar resolve on Thursday, although he stopped short of endorsing the $908 billion outline proposed by a bipartisan group of moderates that Ms. Pelosi has said should be the starting point for talks, instead pressing for a far smaller bill.Stimulus talks have been stalemated for months, with lawmakers unable to resolve differences over issues like liability protections for businesses, a Republican demand that Democrats have resisted, and providing federal aid to state and local governments, a top priority for Democrats that many Republicans oppose. They are also still struggling to resolve a number of policy disputes in the must-pass bills needed to keep the government funded beyond Dec. 11, though most involved in the process say that a resolution is feasible before the end of the year.After months of insisting they would not accept a slimmed-down relief bill, Democrats now appear poised to accept less than one third of the spending they initially proposed to prop up small businesses, help the uninsured and jobless, boost state and local governments, and meet immediate public health needs, leaving other priorities unaddressed until President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. takes office Jan. 20.The emerging compromise would revive lapsed federal unemployment benefits at $300 a week for 18 weeks, and provide billions of dollars in funding for small businesses, schools and the imminent distribution of a vaccine.While a bipartisan group of senators is expected to continue working on finalizing legislative text through the weekend, there remain a number of significant hurdles. The policy divides that have helped derail attempts to reach agreement earlier this year persist even as lawmakers circulate a tentative outline.Pressed on her reversal, Ms. Pelosi was defensive on Friday, saying her earlier, multitrillion-dollar proposals that the Senate called nonstarters were important parts of a negotiating strategy that may now yield results. She insisted that Mr. Biden’s election and the looming arrival of two vaccines amounted to “a total game-changer.”“President-elect Biden has said this package would be at best just a start,” she said. “That’s how we see it, as well. It is less money, but over a shorter period of time, and we need to do it to saves lives and livelihood with the hope that much more help is on the way.”Wall Street continued its climb into record territory on Friday with a small gain, as growing confidence of a deal being struck on Capitol Hill for coronavirus relief outweighed a weaker-than-expected report on the labor market.“Compromise is within reach,” Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, said on Thursday. Mr. McConnell and Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the telephone on Thursday, their first conversation since the election. Democratic leaders, and some Republicans, have voiced support for a $908 billion framework for aid.The November jobs report, released Friday, showed a slowing recovery in hiring, with just 245,000 jobs added last month. On Thursday, the government reported that initial claims for state unemployment benefits in the United States dipped last week, after rising for two consecutive weeks.The S&P 500 rose about 0.9 percent, bringing its gains for the week to 1.7 percent. European stock indexes and most stock markets in Asia had also ended the day in positive territory.Oil futures also rose slightly, with Brent crude, the global benchmark, just short of the $50-a-barrel mark last hit in early March after major producers reached an agreement on Thursday for a modest increase in production in January. The agreement is a sign that they believe the world’s demand for crude is stirring after a mostly horrendous year for the oil business.Across the Atlantic, Brexit talks are continuing into perhaps their final weekend. Britain’s transition period for leaving the European Union ends Dec. 31, and it remains unclear if there will be a trade agreement for the new year. Any deal must be approved by the European Council, the bloc’s chief political body, made up of the heads of state of member countries. It holds its last meeting of the year next Thursday.With lawmakers in Washington signaling that they’re open to a compromise on a long-awaited economic aid plan, an alliance of 300 major public and private sector groups urged Congress to reach a deal.“There are signs that a once-nascent jobs recovery has markedly cooled — especially at the lower rungs of the income ladder,” the group, called the Covid Relief Coalition wrote in an letter to lawmakers released on Friday. The group includes industry associations representing businesses ranging from retail to hospitality, as well as a number of city, county, and state government associations.“Millions of jobs and the livelihoods of people who have built their small business for decades are just withering away because Congress has offered no relief since March,” Chip Rogers, president and chief executive of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, who helped spearhead the coalition, said in a statement released with the letter.The United States Chamber of Commerce also implored Congress on Friday to pass a new aid bill. “The fire alarm is sounding on our economy and the only question is whether Congress will respond,” said the U.S. Chamber in a separate statement.The business community’s plea comes at a time when virus cases are spiking and after the Labor Department reported that the rebound in the job market slowed drastically in November. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed optimism that the House and Senate could reach a bipartisan deal on an elusive pandemic stimulus plan before the Dec. 11 government funding deadline.“That would be our hope because that is the vehicle leaving the station,” said Ms. Pelosi at a news conference on Friday.Credit...Charles Krupa/Associated PressThe Hartford Courant, the Connecticut newspaper that has been in print since 1764, when it chronicled the locals’ dissatisfaction with British rule, is the latest daily that will try to cover the news without a newsroom.Tribune Publishing, the company that owns the paper, told employees on Friday that it would “close our Broad Street office, with no plan to find us a new one,” the Hartford Courant Guild, which represents editorial employees, said in a Twitter post.Andrew Julien, the Courant’s publisher and editor in chief, said in an email to staff members that the closing of the physical newsroom was “a decision about real estate needs amid a difficult and challenging time on both the public health and economic fronts.”Journalists will continue to do their work remotely, he added.“It won’t change the essence of what we do: Delivering the high-impact journalism readers have come to expect from the Courant and crafting creative solutions that meet the needs of our advertising partners,” Mr. Julien wrote.Tribune said in a statement that the newsroom would close on Dec. 27.“Out of an abundance of caution, we do not anticipate having employees that can work remotely coming back into the office at the Hartford Courant for the remainder of the year and into 2021,” the statement said.It continued: “As we progress through the pandemic and as needs change, we will reconsider our need for physical offices. We will keep employees informed of decisions as they are made.”Tribune Publishing, which is part-owned by the hedge firm Alden Global Capital, has shuttered a number of its newspapers’ offices over the last few months, with the great majority of its employees working remotely as the death toll associated with the coronavirus pandemic continues to climb.In August, the company closed the Lower Manhattan offices of The New York Daily News, which was once the largest circulation newspaper in the country. It also shut down the newsrooms of The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa.; The Orlando Sentinel; The Carroll County Times in Westminster, Md.; and The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md. A Chicago Tribune office for suburban publications in Aurora, Ill., was also closed.Alex Putterman, a Hartford Courant reporter and member of the guild, said that staff members were told on Friday that they would have to pick up their belongings before the office shut down for good. He said the staff had been working remotely since March, when the pandemic first took hold in the United States in the early months of the year.“It really hit hard,” he said in an interview. “We’ve been in that office for decades. We all value having the physical space, we value each other’s company. We had all been hoping we’d be able to return there after the pandemic and this is a big blow.”“For all we know at this moment,” he continued, “the plan is for us to be remote forever.”America’s unemployed workers — a large group nine months into the coronavirus pandemic — increasingly report that they have lost work permanently, rather than temporarily.






















































Job losses are increasingly likely to be permanent




Share of jobs lost each month that are temporary layoffs














By Ella Koeze·Data is seasonally adjusted.·Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics





















The share of jobless workers reporting that they are on temporary layoff has dropped in recent months, a trend that continued in November. But as that happens, an increasing portion have said that their layoffs are not expected to be temporary — 44.2 percent in November, up from 40.9 percent in October, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday.The report showed that 25.9 percent of the unemployed in November were on temporary layoff, while others had left their jobs or were entering or re-entering the job market.To be classified as unemployed on temporary layoff, a person must have a return date or expect to be recalled to their job within six months. Because of the uncertainty tied to the pandemic, people who did not know whether they would be recalled have been counted by the bureau as on temporary layoff.The danger that the pandemic will inflict lasting damage on the labor market is increasing as millions remain out of work, and as their unemployment appears likely to last until they can find new positions. Spells of joblessness can hurt workers’ résumés and can discourage some applicants, causing them to drop out of the search altogether.If that happens because of the coronavirus-induced recession, it would probably unevenly hurt Black and Hispanic workers and those with lower education levels. Those groups have suffered heavy job losses as many of the shops, restaurants and other service businesses that disproportionately employ them have closed.Economic officials have been urging Congress to provide additional economic support to cushion the blow. Several emergency programs, like forgivable small-business loans and expanded unemployment insurance, are about to end or already have.“Additional fiscal support is essential to bridge past Covid’s second wave in order to avoid labor market scarring, reductions in crucial state and local services, and bankruptcies,” Lael Brainard, a Federal Reserve governor, said in a speech this week.Credit...Octavio Jones for The New York TimesThe Cheesecake Factory misled public investors about its financial situation in the spring, as the coronavirus began to spread and officials imposed restrictions on in-person gatherings, regulators said on Friday.The Securities and Exchange Commission fined the company $125,000 over the matter. It’s a relatively small penalty, but the Cheesecake Factory — famous for its enormous menu, including more than 30 types of cheesecake — is the first to be penalized over its disclosures during the pandemic.In regulatory filings on March 23 and April 3, the Cheesecake Factory told investors that its restaurants were “operating sustainably.” In fact, the 294-restaurant chain was losing about $6 million per week and, by its own internal estimates, had only about 16 weeks’ worth of cash left.And while the company described steps it was taking to cope with the pandemic in its March filing — including borrowing $90 million from a corporate credit line — it did not disclose that it told landlords that it would not pay April rent because of the pandemic.The S.E.C. said that the company disclosed more accurate information with private equity firms and other lenders that it was negotiating with for a financial lifeline. The regulator said the Cheesecake Factory agreed to settle the charges, without admitting guilt, and had cooperated with the investigation.“When public companies describe for investors the impact of Covid-19 on their business, they must speak accurately,” Stephanie Avakian, the director of the commission’s enforcement division, said in a statement.On April 20, the Cheesecake Factory announced a $200 million investment from the private equity firm Roark Capital. The company’s chief executive, David Overton, said at the time that the deal “meaningfully” enhanced the company’s liquidity “to navigate the near-term Covid-19 landscape.” A representative for the Cheesecake Factory referred to a regulatory filing from the company on Friday acknowledging the settlement.Credit...John G Mabanglo/EPA, via ShutterstockThe food-delivery company DoorDash raised expectations for its initial public offering on Friday, increasing its hoped-for valuation to a new high of $35.3 billion.In an amended prospectus, DoorDash said it had increased the expected price range for its shares to $90 to $95 each, up from $75 to $85 earlier this week. At the top end of the new range, the company would raise about $3.1 billion in the sale.DoorDash is one of a number of start-ups to pursue an I.P.O. this year, banking on buoyant stock markets and investor demand for high-growth companies. Other debuts scheduled to price before the end of the year include Airbnb, the games platform Roblox and the e-commerce site Wish.DoorDash’s new valuation target, billions of dollars higher than it had planned for just a few days ago, shows just how lofty expectations have become. In a private fund-raising round in June, the company was valued at $16 billion.DoorDash has been pitching prospective shareholders — virtually, through videoconference calls — on its offering this week, touting its enormous platform and growth during the pandemic. The company argues that it stands to be one of the winners of the food-delivery space, even as it currently loses money.The company is expected to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange next week, under the ticker symbol DASH.As the coronavirus pandemic keeps shoppers out of stores and employees working from home, it’s no surprise that some of November’s biggest gains in hiring were in transportation, warehouse and health care jobs.Employers also continued hiring people in the business and professional services sector.Becky Frankiewicz, president of the staffing and placement company ManpowerGroup North America, said she had seen signs of energy in the labor market, noting that a survey of all publicly posted jobs showed 11 million openings in November, a million more than the previous month.






















































Job gains were unevenly spread across industries in November




Cumulative change in jobs since before the pandemic, by industry














By Ella Koeze·Data is seasonally adjusted.·Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics





















“We continue to see week-over-week job growth,” Ms. Frankiewicz said. “We’re nowhere near where we were, yet we continue to limp ahead with recovery.”There is seasonal hiring, she said, but the composition is different than in previous years. Instead of adding in-store retail staff to work cash registers, sales floors and call centers, employers are scooping up people to work in warehouses and to handle customer service calls from home.Nick Bunker, an economist at the job search site Indeed, said that since the summer, the story had been the same. “While the trend in jobs postings has continued to pick up, the pace of improvement is slower than it was,” he said.“The trend in postings about 12 percent below where it was last year,” Mr. Bunker said. “It’s much better than at the nadir of the labor market, but labor demand doesn’t seem to be anywhere near back.”Credit...Elaine Cromie for The New York TimesThe share of Americans either working or looking for a job — a figure known as labor force participation — fell in November and remains far below levels seen before the pandemic, a sign that the recovery remains incomplete as 2020 nears its end.The labor force participation rate declined to 61.5 percent last month, down from 61.7 percent in October. In February, before pandemic-tied layoffs started, the figure stood at 63.4 percent.For workers in their prime working years, defined as 25 to 54, participation is now at 80.9 percent, down from 81.2 percent in October and 83 percent in February.That labor force participation seems to be stagnating well below its pre-pandemic levels is a cause for concern. In the wake of the 2007-9 recession, labor force attachment for people in their prime working years remained depressed for years, serving as a sort of “shadow” source of would-be workers even as the unemployment rate declined.It is unclear whether that dynamic will repeat itself following this downturn, which has been very different.But as the pandemic drags on, workers are again finding themselves on the labor market’s sidelines. That has been especially true for prime-working-age women, who are disproportionately employed in service jobs most affected by efforts to contain the spread of infection and who have been more likely to drop out of the labor market because of family care responsibilities. That has mattered as schools fully or partly close, leaving children at home.Federal Reserve officials and other economic policymakers are watching figures like labor force participation — and how they are playing out across different demographic groups — as they take stock of the recovery.“The economic dislocation has upended many lives and created great uncertainty about the future,” Jerome H. Powell, the Fed’s chair, told lawmakers in testimony this week, adding that “we will not lose sight of the millions of Americans who remain out of work.”

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There is not yet a COVID-19 vaccine authorized for general use in the United States, but following promising clinical trials from Moderna and Pfizer, many Americans are starting to wonder when they’re going to soon get access to a vaccine and whether getting vaccinated will be a job requirement. Employers must abide by federal and state laws, but so far there is not a strong appetite for a federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate. In August, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, said he would “definitely not” support a nationwide mandate on the COVID-19 vaccine. “We don’t want to be mandating from the federal government to the general population. It would be unenforceable and not appropriate,” Fauci said. States and cities have mandated vaccines in the past. The 1905 Supreme Court case Jacobson v. Massachusetts upheld a state’s compulsory smallpox vaccination law. But even if a government mandate does not happen, could your employer still make it a job requirement to get a COVID-19 vaccine once it is widely available? Employers can likely mandate a vaccine, but they will have to consider employees’ rights first. Florida-based employment attorney Donna Ballman said that employers probably can mandate a COVID-19 vaccine with exceptions. If you’re an at-will employee, “employers can say, yes, provide proof that you’ve been vaccinated or you’re fired, or you cannot come in or you have to work remotely.” Ballman noted that for unionized workforces, collective bargaining agreements would need to be consulted before a mandate. Lawrence Gostin, a global health law professor at Georgetown University, said he could foresee a number of employers requiring staff to get a COVID-19 vaccine once it is widely available. He pointed to hospitals and health care facilities, which already require influenza vaccines as a condition of employment.“These have been thought to be lawful because the employer is not breaking any law. That is, they are doing it for the health and safety of their employers and their customers, and they have a duty to keep their employees and customers safe. And they are not discriminating on the basis of gender, race and disability,“ he said.“It's going to be more complicated than just signing a memo like, 'OK, everybody has to get the vaccine.'”- Donna Ballman, employment attorneyBut employees have rights, too. “Once you mandate, you very possibly have to pay people for their time to go get it,” Ballman said. “It’s going to be more complicated than just signing a memo like, ‘OK, everybody has to get the vaccine.’” Ballman said an employee is fired for not physically being able to get the vaccine on their own timeline, that could also be considered disability discrimination. In its 2009 guidance on pandemic preparedness, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces federal anti-discrimination laws, said that people with disabilities covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act and people whose religious beliefs are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act may be entitled to an exemption from a mandatory flu vaccine. In regards to a possible COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the EEOC told HuffPost it “is actively evaluating how a potential vaccine would interact with employers’ obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the other laws the Commission enforces.”What about other federal agencies’ guidance? Under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s general duty clause, employers must provide a workplace “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.” So far, OSHA has not said what its employer policies will be on COVID-19 vaccines. Gostin said he does not think OSHA will require employers to mandate vaccines, “but I could foresee that they would advise them to make COVID vaccines accessible to employees in the workplace.“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declined to comment on its employer recommendations regarding a COVID-19 vaccine. Instead of a mandate, employers could also make it harder to refuse a COVID-19 vaccine. Mandates are not the only option employers are starting to plan for.“Most clients right now are leaning toward encouraging rather than requiring the vaccine, just because there are still so many unanswered questions,” said Sharon Perley Masling, a director of workplace culture consulting at the Morgan Lewis law firm.Masling said these unanswered questions include whether a COVID-19 vaccine being approved under an emergency use authorization would be treated the same as if it were fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration; whether a vaccine will be available and under what circumstances to employees; and what would the side effects be of the vaccination. “I think it is wise for employers to start planning, but those plans are going to be revised as we get more information,” Masling said. Whether or not companies decide to require COVID-19 vaccination, their recommendations are expected to hold a lot of sway over employees’ health decisions. Gostin was the co-author of a June survey that asked 13,426 people in 19 countries about their acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine. About 61% said they would likely get a COVID-19 vaccine if their employer recommended it. In lieu of an employer mandate, small nudges like employees’ access to a vaccine can make a difference. Research has found that the more an employee walks by a worksite vaccine clinic, for example, the more likely they are to get vaccinated.Gostin said making a COVID-19 vaccination the norm at work could be an effective way to increase the number of employees who are vaccinated. Under this scenario, employers would offer it to all of their workers, and if an employee refused to get one, they would need to sign a form or get a doctor’s certificate stating why. Gostin said research has shown that those extra hurdles increase employee compliance on vaccinations. “That little nudge, making it just a little bit harder to say no, means more people say yes,” Gostin said. “You can accomplish the same objective without a mandate.”Experts are still learning about COVID-19. The information in this story is what was known or available as of publication, but guidance can change as scientists discover more about the virus. Please check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most updated recommendations.

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On this page we provide an overview of excess mortality along with charts to explore the data. You can learn in more depth about different measures of excess mortality, their strengths and limitations, and their comparability across countries in our work with John Muellbauer and Janine Aron.What is ‘excess mortality’?Excess mortality is a term used in epidemiology and public health that refers to the number of deaths from all causes during a crisis above and beyond what we would have expected to see under ‘normal’ conditions.1 In this case, we’re interested in how deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic compare to the average number of deaths over the same period in previous years.Excess mortality is a more comprehensive measure of the total impact of the pandemic on deaths than the confirmed COVID-19 death count alone. In addition to confirmed deaths, excess mortality captures COVID-19 deaths that were not correctly diagnosed and reported2 as well as deaths from other causes that are attributable to the overall crisis conditions.3How is excess mortality measured? How does this allow us to compare countries?Excess mortality can be measured in several ways. The simplest way is to take the raw number of deaths observed in a given period in 2020 – say Week 10, which ended on 8 March4 – and subtract the average number of deaths in that week over the previous years, for example the last five.While the raw number of deaths helps give us a rough sense of scale, this measure has its limitations, including being less comparable across countries due to large differences in populations.A measure that is more comparable across countries is the P-score, which calculates excess mortality as the percentage difference between the number of weekly deaths in 2020 and the average number of deaths in the same week over the previous five years.For example, if a country had a P-score of 100% in a given week in 2020, that would mean the death count for that week was 100% higher than – that is, double – the average death count in the same week over the previous five years.While the P-score is a useful measure, it too has limitations. For example, the five-year average death count might be a relatively crude measure of ‘normal’ deaths because it does not account for trends in population size or mortality. For a more in-depth discussion of the limitations and strengths of different measures of excess mortality, see our article with John Muellbauer and Janine Aron.We exclude the most recent weeks of data because it is incompleteMortality data is incomplete in the weeks, and even months, after a death occurs because of delays in reporting. For example, the chart here shows US data from 20165 on the completeness of death reporting by week after a death occurs. After four weeks, only 54% of deaths have been fully recorded; by eight weeks this figure is 75%, and it doesn’t reach 100% until almost a year after the date of death.6 Similar delays in reporting exist for all countries to varying extents.To avoid showing data that is incomplete and therefore inaccurate, we do not show the most recent weeks of countries’ data series. The decision about how many weeks to exclude is made individually for each country based on when the reported number of deaths in a given week changes by less than ~3% relative to the number previously reported for that week, implying that the reports have reached a high level of completeness.7 The exclusion of data based on this threshold varies from zero weeks (for countries that quickly reach a high level of reporting completeness) to four weeks.8How do levels of excess mortality compare across countries?Excess mortality for all ages

The chart here shows excess mortality during the pandemic for all ages using the P-score.9 You can see that some countries – such as England & Wales10 and Spain – suffered high levels of excess mortality, while others – such as Germany and Norway – experienced much more modest increases in mortality. To see the P-scores for other countries click Add country on the chart.



It is important to note that because the P-scores in this chart combine all ages, they are impacted by differences in mortality risk by age and countries’ age distributions. For example, countries with older populations – which have a higher mortality risk, including from COVID-19 – will tend to have higher all-age P-scores by default. When comparing countries it is informative to look at the P-scores for different age groups.





Excess mortality by age group

The chart here shows P-scores broken down by two broad age groups: ages 15–64, which contains most of the working age population, and ages 85+, which has the highest mortality risk.11 Two more age groups can also be selected by clicking Add country : ages 65–74 and ages 75–84.



You can see that Spain suffered high levels of excess mortality even for its younger, working population aged 15–64, while Germany experienced relatively low levels of mortality even for its most vulnerable population aged 85+.





Excess mortality using raw death counts

Besides visualizing excess mortality as a percentage difference, we can also look at the raw death counts as shown here in this chart. The raw death counts help give us a rough sense of scale: for example, the US suffered some 275,000 more deaths than the five-year average between 1 March and 16 August, compared to 169,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths during that period.



However, this measure is less comparable across countries due to large differences in populations. You can still see the death counts for other countries by clicking “Change country” on the chart. 





Why is it important to look at excess mortality?In our work on the Coronavirus pandemic we visualize the data on the confirmed number of deaths from COVID-19 for all countries. We update this data daily based on figures published by Johns Hopkins University (JHU).But these figures – as reported by governments and national health ministries – are the number of confirmed deaths due to COVID-19, which may differ from the total death toll from the pandemic for several reasons:Some (but not all) countries only report COVID-19 deaths that occur in hospitals – people that die from the disease at home may not be recorded;Some countries only report deaths for which a COVID-19 test has confirmed that a patient was infected with the virus – untested individuals may not be included;Death reporting systems may be insufficient to accurately measure mortality – this is particularly true in poorer countries;The pandemic may result in increased deaths from other causes for a number of reasons including weakened healthcare systems; fewer people seeking treatment for other health risks; or less available funding and treatment for other diseases (e.g. HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis);The pandemic may result in fewer deaths from other causes – for example, the mobility restrictions during the pandemic might lead to fewer deaths from road accidents.This list makes clear that the two statistics – confirmed deaths due to COVID-19 and excess mortality – are giving a perspective on different questions. The confirmed deaths often undercount the total death toll, but in contrast to excess mortality they contain information about the cause of death. The excess mortality includes not only those who have died from COVID-19, but also those from other causes. When during the studied period fewer people have died from other causes (such as road accidents), the excess mortality statistics might suggest a death toll from COVID-19 that is lower than the actual total. This means both metrics are needed to understand the total death toll of the pandemic.Excess mortality statistics will only be available for a small number of countriesExcess mortality data is unfortunately not available for many countries, and because the required data from previous years is lacking this will continue to be the case. When the goal is to monitor a global pandemic, this is a major limitation of this metric.Excess mortality can only be calculated on the basis of accurate, high-frequency data on mortality from previous years. But few countries have statistical agencies with the capacity and infrastructure to report the number of people that died in a given month, week or even day-to-day. For most low- and middle-income countries, such data is not available for previous years.As we see from the available excess mortality estimates – all listed below – this data is most often only available for richer countries that can afford high-quality data reporting systems. Researchers can draw on some other sources to estimate excess mortality – such as funeral or burial records – or on data from subnational regions of poorer countries (often the capital). But in many cases no information at all can be obtained.Publicly available data on excess mortalityInternational organizations are not publishing an international database on excess mortalityUnlike statistics on confirmed COVID-19 deaths – for which several organizations such as the WHO, ECDC, and Johns Hopkins University are collating data for all countries – there is no single source of data on excess mortality.This is a major problem for policymakers, researchers, and the general public that have a need to understand the ongoing pandemic.Several media publications and regional data sources are publishing public databasesSeveral media publications and regional data sources have been publishing excess death data for some countries.Human Mortality Database publishes downloadable data for a number of countries on its website. This is the source of the data in our charts.The Economist published the first database on excess mortality on GitHub. Its reporting on the topic can be found here.The New York Times publishes its dataset on excess mortality on GitHub. Its reporting on the topic can be found here.The Financial Times publishes its dataset on excess mortality on GitHub. Its reporting on the topic can be found here.The Washington Post publishes its dataset on excess mortality in the US on GitHub. The GitHub page also contains links to the Post’s reporting on the topic.Eurostat publishes downloadable data for European countries on its website.




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Max Roser, Hannah Ritchie, Esteban Ortiz-Ospina and Joe Hasell (2020) - "Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19)". Published online at OurWorldInData.org. Retrieved from: 'https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus' [Online Resource]



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@article{owidcoronavirus, author = {Max Roser, Hannah Ritchie, Esteban Ortiz-Ospina and Joe Hasell}, title = {Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19)}, journal = {Our World in Data}, year = {2020}, note = {https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus}}






















































































































































































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The Covid vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech was approved for use in the UK on Wednesday.Photograph: BioNTech SE 2020/PA



GP surgeries have been told to be ready to start staffing Covid-19 vaccination centres by 14 December.In a letter sent out across England’s primary care networks, NHS England and NHS Improvement warned the “scale and complexity” of the immunisation programme would make it “one of the greatest challenges the NHS has ever faced”.The letter was signed by Dr Nikita Kanani, medical director for primary care at NHS England and NHS Improvement, and Ed Waller, director of primary care. “It is crucial we start to activate local vaccination services to allow priority patient cohorts to start accessing the vaccine,” it said.

The vaccination sites must be ready to administer 975 doses of the vaccine to priority patients within three and a half days of delivery on 14 December.Speed is of the essence with the vaccine, as it is usually stored at -70C and will only remain stable at fridge temperatures of between 2C-8C for a limited period. There are 975 doses in each of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine packs, which has posed a logistical problem of how they can be broken up and distributed to other key sites, such as care homes.The first people to receive the vaccine in the centres will be those aged 80 and over, as long as their other risk factors, “clinical or otherwise”, have been taken into account.



NHS England and NHS Improvement said the number of vaccination sites in each clinical commissioning group (CCG) area will vary according to the number of residents it has who are over 80. CCGs have been asked to consider inequalities and deprivation – some of the biggest Covid-19 risk factors – when choosing the sites.Each centre will also be supplied with “IT equipment necessary to deliver the programme and a fridge”, the letter said.It added: “We will be writing to sites identified as part of wave 1 on Monday, setting out full details of vaccine supply dates, delivery of other consumables and equipment to the site, and the process for assuring readiness before delivery of vaccines.”It said staff at the vaccination sites would be provided with training, and be “given full support to mobilise within the timescale”.The staff at the first sites to open are due to get login details for the IT system set up to deliver the vaccination programme “as soon as possible”.



CCGs were told they must “offer all possible assistance” to the vaccine sites as the programme gets under way, including helping them with logistics and setting up clinical waste arrangements.They were also warned that while urgent care must be provided by GPs even when the vaccine is being delivered, the vaccination programme must be their top priority.



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Surveillance footage of ballot processing on election night in Atlanta is fueling a false social media narrative of “suitcases filled with ballots” hidden under a cloth-covered table and tallied without supervision, even as top state officials confirm election workers followed standard procedure.The video showed regular ballot containers on wheels — not suitcases — and both a state investigator and an independent monitor observed counting until it was done for the night, finding no evidence of improper ballots, state and county officials said on Friday.That hasn’t stopped President Donald Trump, his campaign, his lawyers and his supporters from sharing the video with false fraud accusations in a spate of Facebook and Twitter posts that have racked up millions of views in less than 24 hours.Here’s a look at the facts around this viral video:CLAIM: Poll workers and partisan observers were told to leave Atlanta’s State Farm Arena on election night, but four election workers stayed behind, pulled suitcases full of ballots out from under a table, and scanned them after hours without any supervision.THE FACTS: The video doesn’t show evidence of fraud, much less the “SMOKING GUN” evidence that Trump’s legal team claims on social media.No one told observers they had to leave, and both an independent monitor and an investigator oversaw the vote count, according to state and county officials. Confusion arose when election workers thought they were done for the night, but then were instructed to continue scanning ballots. But investigators who reviewed the entire surveillance tape confirmed it showed “normal ballot processing,” according to Gabriel Sterling, a top official in the secretary of state’s office.The video, which shows clips of surveillance footage from a room where ballots were counted, began gaining traction online on Thursday after volunteer Trump attorney Jackie Pick presented it for state senators during a hearing at the state Capitol.Pick claimed it showed a staff member telling partisan observers to leave the facility for the night about 10:30 p.m. After observers were “cleared out,” she said, four election workers stayed behind, pulled suitcases of ballots out from underneath a table, and counted them for two hours with no witnesses present.Fulton County Elections Director Richard Barron refuted those claims on Friday, saying in a public meeting that no observers were ever told to leave the facility.According to Barron, staff members who had been opening and flattening ballots for scanning started leaving the facility as their duties concluded.Other election workers started to pack up, Sterling told The Associated Press in an interview. They put prepared ballots back in boxes and away under a table “to close out for the night.” Members of the media and Republican observers began to leave the building too.Then, the supervisor onsite got a call from Barron, who instructed the team to continue scanning the ballots that had already been prepared. They pulled the same boxes of ballots back out, and resumed scanning, Sterling said.“These aren’t magical ballots,” Sterling told the AP. “They didn’t show up out of some other room.”Georgia law § 21-2-408 permits observers to stay in the room the whole time, but doesn’t require it for counting to take place.After a short period when observers weren’t present, an independent state election board monitor arrived to oversee the scanning at 11:52 p.m., Barron said. A state investigator arrived at 12:15 a.m. Both individuals remained at the facility until the count concluded for the night, he said.The Georgia secretary of state’s office said it was aware of the late-night counting, and confirmed that both its investigator and an independent monitor observed scanning “until it was halted for the night.”The office said it had launched an investigation into why partisan poll observers left before scanning ended.The president’s team is “intentionally misleading the public about what happened at State Farm Arena on election night,” Sterling tweeted Friday. “They had the whole video too and ignored the truth.”___Associated Press writer Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.















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This week, everything changed. Maybe? In an unprecedented move, Warner Bros. announced that its entire 2021 film slate would premiere in both theaters and on HBO Max, for a one-month exclusive run. Tentpoles like Matrix 4, Space Jam 2, Godzilla vs. King Kong, and Denis Villeneuve’s Dune would all become temporary streaming exclusives as a way to contend with the crushing weight of the COVID-19 pandemic. For moviegoers, it’s a boon. For those who treasure the theatrical experience, it’s a bit terrifying. As the theater business continues to face hardships with safety precautions and shutdowns, new movies continue to skirt traditional releases by going straight to VOD. This week offers a trove of movies that kinda sorta hit theaters earlier this year, along with some higher-quality straight-to-demand titles worthy of interest. So to help you wade through all the options, here are the new movies you can watch on VOD this weekend.FreakyWhere to watch it: Rent on digital, $19.99 Amazon, Apple, and Vudu








Photo: Universal Pictures


Blumhouse’s murderous take on the Freaky Friday formula is a scream. While the idea of a young woman and a 50-year-old serial killer switching bodies could kickstart an examination of gender and psyche, Freaky mostly sidesteps the larger implications for gags, gore, and maximum entertainment. From our full review during the movie’s limited theatrical run:[Freaky’s] well-paced, giddily gory scenes deliver in the horror department. Creative murder methods abound, including a particularly inspired scene involving a broken tennis racket. The script has a snappy sense of humor that winks at horror traditions. “Please don’t be the Butcher!” Millie fruitlessly whispers to herself when she spots the killer across a parking lot. “Everyone’s tired, we’ve done lots of hitting,” Millie-as-the-Butcher implores Naya and Josh after they initially disbelieve her story and attack her, in the school’s cafeteria, with tater tots and carrots. “You’re black, I’m gay, we’re so dead,” Josh complains to Naya when they’re in danger.Black BearWhere to watch it: Rent on digital, $5.99 Amazon, Apple, and Vudu








Photo: Momentum Pictures


Black Bear, which we caught at Sundance 2020, isn’t a movie for socially anxious audiences. It’s a drama with shifting realities — the kind of film where a story starts to play out, then plays out in an entirely different way, leaving the audience to decode what’s going on, and what it all means. But every version of the film’s reality is tense. Aubrey Plaza stars as a film writer-director who heads to a vast house in the woods which she’s been told is a retreat where she can work out the kinks in her latest project. Then her hosts (played by Christopher Abbott and Sarah Gadon) start picking nasty personal fights — with each other, with her, about her. With open nods to John Cassavetes, writer-director Lawrence Michael Levine pours on the drama as the three leads circle and stab at each other in different configurations. It’s an actor’s showcase and a compelling narrative mystery, but it’s also squirmy as hell, like being stuck in a house at the holidays with your angriest, most drama-seeking family members.GodmotheredWhere to watch it: Stream on Disney Plus








Photo: K.C. Bailey


Starring Jillian Bell as a fairy godmother in training and Isla Fisher as a single mom who could use a little help, Godmothered follows a particular trend of Disney subverting its own tropes for comedy. But it’s not quite Enchanted, as our review explores. Here’s a taste:While Enchanted focused on bringing fairy-tale magic to everyday life, Godmothered finds its originality in doing the opposite: By the end, it’s about how fairy tales could learn a thing or two from real life. Remembering what brings happiness in the day-to-day is more important than fixating on a nebulous happily ever after. The delivery isn’t that smooth; the conflict of fairy godmothering going out of style takes a backseat for most of the movie, before getting revved up at the end for an 11th-hour showdown, the narration done by some random old fairy back in the Motherland jolts out of the rest of the movie, and Mackenzie’s shift from seeing Eleanor as a nuisance to a blessing is absurdly swift. But the final fairytale subversion is crafted with a steady hand.MankWhere to watch it: Stream on Netflix








Image: Netflix


Fight Club, The Social Network, and Gone Girl director David Fincher is back with a new feature after a few years devoted to his TV series Mindhunter. And the project is an intoxicating doozy: Focused on the life of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, Mank tells the story of the making of Citizen Kane while jumping around time to explore its subjects turbulent career. Our full review captures just how off-kilter it is:The back-and-forth structure vaguely recalls Citizen Kane, yet it lacks the sophisticated, propulsive energy that powers that classic’s multiple-interview storytelling. The fluidity is replaced by clacking subtitles that identify the year and location in screenplay terms: “EXT. PARAMOUNT STUDIOS — DAY — 1930 (FLASHBACK),” and so on. Is this a commentary on the workmanlike effort that can go into even a nimble screenplay, or is the movie itself a little workmanlike? Fincher turns that ambiguity into a playfulness that even some of his pulp adaptations have lacked. Where films like like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo can feel like exacting, relentless journeys to nowhere in particular, Mank luxuriates in its dreamy atmosphere.FatmanWhere to watch it: Rent on digital, $6.99 Amazon and Apple








Photo: Saban Films


Brothers Eshom and Ian Nelms are the stylish filmmakers behind 2017’s Small Town Crime. Their latest feature sounds deranged: After financial hardship, Santa Claus himself strikes up a deal working for the military. At the same time, a little girl hires an assassin to take him down. Mayhem ensues. The hurdle for some viewers is that the controversial actor Mel Gibson stars as the “Fatman” himself. Mileage may vary, but Fatman’s notable for already making financial waves on VOD during the oddest holiday season on record.MulanWhere to watch it: Stream on Disney Plus








Photo: Jasin Boland/Walt Disney Pictures


Mulan debuted earlier this year on Disney Plus as part of the experimental Premier Access plan, which subscribers could purchase for an additional $30. But now, the live-action remake is free to stream on the service. Reactions may vary. From our review:The best point of comparison, however, remains The Rise of Skywalker. Mulan handily clears the bar set by live-action duds like The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, but it still fails to recapture the magic of the movie it’s adapting. It forgoes the strongest ideas in the animated film (the songs and the humble origins of heroism) in order to try to tell a more conventional story. In the animated film, the emperor says of Mulan: “You don’t meet a girl like that every dynasty.” She’s an unfollowable act. So is the 1998 movie.AmmoniteWhere to watch it: Rent on digital, $19.99 Amazon and Apple








Photo: Neon


The year is 1840ish, and Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) is hunting for fossils. When a young woman (Saoirse Ronan) is sent to live by her seaside dig location, the two strike up a intense and life-changing relationship. Ammonite played the (digital) festival circuit earlier this year to steady acclaim, and with Neon, the company behind last February’s Best Picture winner Parasite, behind it, the film is likely to be in the awards discussion until the Oscars happen in — yikes, April!? But this weekend, it’s skipping theaters so you can see it right now. Watch out for our review on the site soon.Dear SantaWhere to watch it: Rent on digital, $5.99 Amazon, $6.99 Apple, and Vudu








Image: IFC Films


From acclaimed documentarian Dana Nachman, this film takes viewers behind the scenes of the Postal Service in a slightly less political fashion than the last six months of Postal Service-related conversation. Specifically, Nachman dives into the 100- year-old Operation Santa Program of the United States Postal Service, with “unprecedented access” into what happens to the hundreds of thousands of letters addressed to Santa each year. From giant New York City operations to small-town Santas, the film promises a heart-warming, nonfiction experience with yuletide energy.

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Billy Joe Saunders outclassed a proud but ageing Martin Murray over 12 rounds in London on Friday night to retain his WBO super-middleweight title and will take his 30-0 record into negotiations in pursuit of the biggest prize at 12st: a fight with Canelo Álvarez.The Mexican, who was within days of signing to fight Saunders in March before boxing shut down under the weight of the pandemic, entertains Liverpool’s undefeated Callum Smith on 19 December. If Smith were to spring the upset of the year, an all-British fight with Saunders would be a distinct possibility next summer, says Eddie Hearn, but Álvarez is the target for everyone at or around super-middleweight.After outpointing the 38-year-old Murray, 120-109 twice and 118-110 in the third defence of his title, Saunders said: “I’ve just turned 31. I’m in my prime. I’ve been out a year and probably needed the rounds. It’s very important for me to stay in the gym now, because I’m not getting any younger.”Hearn, his promoter, said: “The deal was done with Canelo and it was a massive blow when it was called off. We can’t waste the opportunity to find out how good Billy is, but he’s not yet mixing with the elite of the elite: [Gennady] Golovkin, Canelo, Smith.”Murray hinted he would retire, revealing he had hurt his back two weeks before the fight, an injury which flared in the eighth round, but said: “I lost to the better man.” He will surely join the likes of Herol Graham and Kevin Mitchell as among the best British fighters never to win a world title, but he came desperately close, especially against the outstanding Sergio Martínez in Argentina in 2013.Murray also took Golovkin 11 rounds, drew with Felix Sturm and lost a split decision to Arthur Abraham, all of them outstanding fighters. Saunders, though, had his measure in nearly every round.“He’s a cunning old fox,” Saunders said. “He got through it and fair play to him. I hope he has a good Christmas.”Hearn was right to point out that Saunders was hard on himself after an impressive display against one of British boxing’s best. There were no knockdowns, although Saunders reckoned he deserved one when Murray went over in the fourth; it was ruled a slip.If a crowd had been allowed, they would have given both fighters a standing ovation at the end but, as Saunders pointed out, “it was like fighting in a cemetery”.

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President-elect Joe Biden — who received the most votes in presidential election history — may also end up having the quietest inauguration in recent memory. Biden hinted at a toned-down ceremony devoid of the usual galas and balls that usually accompany presidential inaugurations in a Friday news conference in Wilmington, Delaware.“The first and foremost thing is we’re going to follow again the science and the recommendations of the experts on keeping people safe,” Biden said, adding that specific details were still being hammered out. “So it is highly unlikely there’ll be a million people on the [National] Mall going all the way down to the [Lincoln] Memorial. ... But I think you’re going to see something that’s closer to what the convention was like than the typical inauguration.”The Democratic National Convention in August was nearly entirely virtual aside from Biden’s accepting the presidential nomination in person in Milwaukee.  “My guess is there probably will not be a gigantic inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. But my guess is you’ll see a lot of virtual activity in states all across America, engaging even more people than before,” Biden said.The president-elect also stressed that he couldn’t do “a super version of the president’s announcement in the Rose Garden nationwide,” a reference to an October White House event for Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination that led to multiple COVID-19 cases within President Donald Trump’s administration.Biden speculated that holding more events virtually might be an intentional choice by his party in the future.“It’s going to have to be more imaginative, ... but I think the convention we put on really opened up avenues that we never thought existed, and I doubt there will be ... another Democratic Convention that’ll be straight like it always has been,” Biden said. “I think we can include more people.”The president-elect told CNN on Thursday that he hoped Trump would put his pride aside and attend the inauguration to ensure “a peaceful transfer of power.” But he added that it was Trump’s personal decision and “of no personal consequence” to him.


















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About 150 General Motors Co . dealers have decided to part ways with Cadillac, rather than invest in costly upgrades required to sell electric cars, according to people familiar with the plans, indicating some retailers are skeptical about pivoting to battery-powered vehicles. GM recently gave Cadillac dealers a choice: Accept a buyout offer to exit from the brand or spend roughly $200,000 on dealership upgrades—including charging stations and repair tools—to get their stores ready to sell electric vehicles, these people said. The buyout offers ranged from around $300,000 to more than $1 million, the people familiar with the effort added. About 17% of Cadillac’s 880 U.S. dealerships agreed to take the offer to end their franchise agreements for the luxury brand, these people said. Most dealers who accepted the buyout also own one or more of GM’s other brands—Chevrolet, Buick and GMC—and sell only a handful of Cadillacs a month, the people familiar with the effort said. The skepticism from some Cadillac dealers underscores that, even as investors bid up the value of electric vehicles, questions persist about interest among consumers and the retailers who serve them.

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Ghebreyesus declared Friday that positive results from coronavirus vaccine trials mean the world “can begin to dream about the end of the pandemic,” but he said rich and powerful nations must not trample the poor and marginalised “in the stampede for vaccines.”He cautioned that while the virus can be stopped, “the path ahead remains treacherous”. The pandemic has shown humanity at “its best and worst,” he said, pointing to “inspiring acts of compassion and self-sacrifice, breathtaking feats of science and innovation, and heartwarming demonstrations of solidarity, but also disturbing signs of self-interest, blame-shifting and divisions”.Referring to the current upsurge in infections and deaths, Ghebreyesus said without naming any countries that “where science is drowned out by conspiracy theories, where solidarity is undermined by division, where sacrifice is substituted with self interest, the virus thrives, the virus spreads”.He warned in a virtual address to the high-level meeting that a vaccine “will not address the vulnerabilities that lie at its root” including poverty, hunger, inequality and climate change, which he said must be tackled once the pandemic ends.“We cannot and we must not go back to the same exploitative patterns of production and consumption, the same disregard for the planet that sustains all life, the same cycle of panic and meddling and the same divisive politics that fueled this pandemic,” he said.On vaccines, Ghebreyesus said, “the light at the end of the tunnel is growing steadily brighter,” but vaccines “must be shared equally as global public goods, not as private commodities that widen inequalities and become yet another reason some people are left behind.”He said WHO’s ACT-Accelerator program to quickly develop and distribute vaccines fairly “is in danger of becoming no more than a noble gesture” without major new funding. He said $4.3bn is needed immediately to lay the groundwork for mass procurement and delivery of vaccines and a further $23.9bn is required for 2021.The world spends $7.5 trillion on health every year, almost 10% of global GDP, he said, but most of that money is spent in rich countries on treating disease rather than on “promoting and protecting health.”“We need a radical rethink on the way we view and value health,” he said. “If the world is to avoid another crisis on this scale, investments in basic public health functions, especially primary health care, are essential, and all roads should lead to universal health coverage with a strong foundation of primary health care.”

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In his long-standing New York Times bestseller “The 5 Love Languages,” author Gary Chapman — a Baptist pastor, church counselor and speaker — first introduced his theory that people feel most loved when their partner expresses affection in their predominant “language.” The problem, he noted, is that we often show love to our S.O. in the way we personally like to receive it — even though our preference usually differs from theirs. That’s why figuring out your partner’s love language is essential. (You can both take the online quiz, if you haven’t already). Just because your love language is receiving gifts, doesn't mean you're materialistic or superficial. Of the five, receiving gifts is the love language people tend to make some unkind and untrue assumptions about. Whether this is your primary love language or your partner’s, don’t be so quick to judge. “People seem to look down on the ‘receiving gifts’ love language and attach unfair judgments,” Nicole Saunders — a therapist in Charlotte, North Carolina, who recommends the book to her clients — told HuffPost. “They may consider a person with that language to be materialistic, frivolous and shallow.” But that’s often not the case. Chapman explained that it’s not the price tag that’s important to this person — it’s the thought, care or effort that went into choosing or executing the gift. The right present makes this person feel seen, understood or appreciated. “If you’re kind of lighthearted about it and just say, ’Oh, well their love language is gifts so I’ll just give them anything,′ but it’s not something they have an interest in, then it will not mean as much to them as if they realize, ‘Oh, you knew me well enough to know that I collect spoons’ or whatever it might be,” Chapman said. “A thoughtful gift speaks more deeply than a gift given rather flippantly,” he added. People with this love language tend to be moved by the thoughtfulness of gifts, not their monetary value. In other words, don’t spring for a pair of fancy sneakers just because they’re expensive if your partner isn’t into fashion. The value of the gift is about more than the item itself — it’s about what it symbolizes. “To give a gift with meaning and thought behind it requires attention and empathy, which ultimately strengthens the relationship connection,” Saunders said. “And then the gift becomes a symbol of the sentiment, increasing its value.”Let’s say, for example, that your girlfriend mentions in passing that she’s been homesick and craving her mom’s snickerdoodles. The next week, you surprise her with a plate of freshly baked cookies. Maybe the ingredients only cost you $15, but the fact that you remembered her comment, reached out to her family for the recipe and baked them (despite your lack of culinary skills) would probably mean more than a present you bought because it seemed flashy or impressive. “People seem to look down on the ‘receiving gifts’ love language and attach unfair judgments.”- Nicole Saunders, therapist in Charlotte, North CarolinaThat said, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to speaking any love language well, as we all have nuanced preferences. To become fluent in your partner’s particular dialect requires listening for clues (and taking notes so you don’t forget!) that will help you meet their individual needs. Know that experiential gifts — like a weekend trip, art class or tickets to a concert or game — can be just as appreciated as tangible gifts. “Pay attention to the subtle likes, desires and pain points your partner expresses,” Saunders said. “For example, your girlfriend loves to get facials but does so rarely due to the expense. A great gift would be to figure out her favorite spa and purchase several treatments plus tip she can use throughout the year.”If your partner’s love language is gifts, don’t forget the special dates like birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and other milestones. Set reminders in your calendar so you don’t miss them. “If you forget their birthday, for example, that is like a dagger in their heart,” Chapman said. “They’ll think, ‘They don’t think enough about me even to get me something on my birthday.’”Equally important, though, is to sprinkle in “just because” cards and gifts throughout the year, no reason necessary. “Giving gifts on non-special days would also be important for you to understand,” Chapman said. “It’s not just holidays — any day is a good day to give a gift to a person whose love language is receiving gifts.” Grandparents' Best Marriage Advice

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news analysisWhile a compromise package gaining steam in Congress would provide urgent help to the economy, some people and businesses would be left out in the cold.Credit...Anna Moneymaker for The New York TimesDec. 4, 2020, 6:07 p.m. ETThe economic recovery, slowing for months, is in danger of going into reverse. That’s why a growing list of economists, business lobbyists and other advocacy groups are urging lawmakers to rally around the $908 billion aid package currently gaining bipartisan support in Congress.A plan of that size would fall short of doing everything that economists argue Congress should do to help workers and businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. But they said that if lawmakers could get the details right, Congress should do it anyway.“It’s within the range where you could argue it does enough good that it would be worth taking it,” said William E. Spriggs, a Howard University economist who served in the Labor Department under President Barack Obama. “But it leaves a ton on the table, and still leaves us with a big problem going forward.”The $908 billion compromise is not even a legislative proposal yet. It is a bipartisan framework, assembled by a group of senators led by Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia. Many of its details are still being negotiated, including how the government ought to distribute more aid to small businesses.Once the bill is complete, its success is not assured: Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has stopped short of endorsing it, and so has President Trump, who would need to sign any legislation approved in the lame-duck congressional session. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California has backed it as a starting point for renewed negotiations, and President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Friday that he was “encouraged” by the effort.Experts say the plan would provide relief to several battered corners of the economy. It includes nearly $300 billion for small-business aid, $180 billion for unemployed workers, and $160 billion for state, local and tribal governments.The plan wouldn’t help everyone who needs aid, and the support might not last long enough to bridge the economy to the rebound that is expected to come when coronavirus vaccines are widely distributed. And much depends on the details, particularly when they come to Americans who have been unemployed for months and small businesses that struggled to tap government programs early in the pandemic.But if the plan was passed soon, it would send money out quickly. And with virus cases rising and economic gains stalling, a growing number of politicians are willing to accept such a compromise.“You get most of the way there, you don’t turn around at the end,” said Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, one of several Republican governors who has called for more federal aid. “We can’t stop now, and I guess I would say that to my friends in Congress: We need your help one more time here. Help get us through what’s going to be a very tough winter.”November employment data released by the Labor Department on Friday underscored his point. Job growth slowed to 245,000, the weakest monthly gain of the recovery so far. The number of people trapped in long-term unemployment rose to nearly four million. Restaurants and retailers, whose rehiring of furloughed workers helped power the rebound in earlier months, cut jobs in November. The number of people who have lost their jobs permanently rose, the latest sign that the crisis will leave lasting economic scars.“I do feel a greater sense of urgency now, especially after seeing the jobs report,” said Karen Dynan, a Harvard economist and former Treasury Department official in the Obama administration. “We’re really starting to see the cracks now.”ImageCredit...Oliver Contreras for The New York TimesImageCredit...Erin Schaff/The New York TimesPerhaps the top goal for the aid package is preventing millions of families from losing their only source of income the week after Christmas.As many as 13 million Americans are receiving benefits under two programs that expanded and extended the existing unemployment insurance program. Those programs, created by Congress in the spring, are set to expire at the end of the year — an outcome that members of both political parties have said they want to avoid.The aid package being discussed in Congress would extend both programs, while also reviving the extra unemployment benefit that expired over the summer, most likely at half the original $600-a-week level. But depending on how the negotiations go, it may not further extend eligibility for people who are close to the end of their benefits already.Putting money into the pockets of the unemployed could be good for the broader economy: Research has found that unemployment benefits are among the most effective forms of economic stimulus because recipients are likely to spend rather than save the money. And by helping families avoid foreclosures, evictions and debt defaults, unemployment benefits can prevent the financial damage from spreading.But the most compelling argument may be not economic but humanitarian: Without the money, many families could go hungry, become homeless and face other hardships.ImageCredit...Bryan Denton for The New York Times“If households are in financial catastrophe, then we have a moral obligation as a country to help households regardless of what their spending or not spending does to the aggregate economy,” said Wendy Edelberg, director of the Hamilton Project, an economic policy arm of the Brookings Institution.Money in the proposal would similarly provide a lifeline to some small businesses that risk closing for good amid weak demand between now and when vaccines become available. Even large companies could be hurt if many smaller firms go under, which is one reason large business groups have called for immediate aid to small companies.“Jobs created by small businesses impact big businesses’ ability to sell to those people,” said Suzanne Clark, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “So we’re really worried about the totality of the ecosystem and the number of small businesses just hanging on by a thread.”But many business groups warn that the compromise plan does not include enough money, potentially leaving some companies without aid, in a repeat of the government’s initial round of Paycheck Protection Program loans in the spring. Lawmakers could again find themselves almost immediately facing pressure to allocate more money to the program.The structure of the aid is unlikely to provide a long-term bridge for certain types of businesses, including many in the hospitality industry, that might not return to pre-pandemic levels of activity for months or years.The deal would provide money to state and local governments, though the $160 billion being discussed is a small fraction of the $1 trillion that Democrats initially proposed last spring.State and local aid has been a major sticking point in negotiations, with Mr. McConnell dismissing it as a “blue-state bailout.” But Republican-led states face some of the biggest revenue gaps.States and local governments, which have been battered by pandemic-related costs and collapsing tax revenues, have already cut more than 1.3 million jobs, and much deeper cuts loom. Those cuts could have both short- and long-term consequences. A new round of public-sector layoffs and furloughs, combined with slowing private-sector hiring, could derail the precarious recovery. And cuts to schools, public transportation and other services could make it harder for the economy to regain momentum once the pandemic has passed.Even if Congress does reach a deal before the end of the year, Mr. Biden warned Friday that lawmakers would need to spend more once he took office. “The country’s going to be in dire, dire, dire straits if they don’t,” he said.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and other progressive members of Congress are demanding another round of stimulus checks for all Americans, and Sanders is threatening to oppose compromise legislation if it doesn’t include direct assistance.The bipartisan proposal currently gaining momentum among both Republicans and Democrats would allocate $908 billion dollars in COVID-19 relief, including funding for unemployed Americans, financial aid to states and localities with massive budget holes and additional funds for business loans. It notably does not include a second round of the extremely popular $1,200 stimulus payments.Sanders said he would vote against the current proposal, which was the outcome of negotiations between centrist lawmakers Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), among others, without significant revisions.“Given the enormous economic desperation facing working families in this country today, I will not be able to support the recently announced Manchin-Romney COVID proposal unless it is significantly improved,” Sanders said in a statement, adding that he could support the bill with serious revisions, including direct payments to Americans.“At a time when the COVID crisis is the worst that it has ever been in the U.S. with record-breaking levels of hospitalization and death, the Manchin-Romney proposal not only provides no direct payments to working families, it does nothing to address the health care crisis and has totally inadequate financial assistance for the most vulnerable. That is wrong morally and it is wrong economically if we hope to rebuild the economy,” Sanders continued.Sanders also balked at the “liability shield” provision in the bill, designed to protect businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits — something Republicans have long pushed for. Other progressives, including Reps. Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) positioned themselves similarly Friday, signaling growing frustration within the left flank of the Democratic Party. They have not said how they would vote on the current proposal.“The public should be able to see who is holding stimulus checks hostage & demanding immunity for big corporations exposing workers to COVID,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, demanding more transparency in the negotiations.  COVID relief needs to directly help everyday people.People need stimulus checks & UI.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 4, 2020


So far, COVID-19 relief negotiations have been held up at the highest levels of government, between House and Senate Leadership and top White House officials and Cabinet members. This latest proposal, negotiated between Manchin, Collins, Romney, and Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), was seen as a last-ditch effort to get some aid passed and signed into law before the end of the year. For the first time in months, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) expressed optimism about negotiations, suggesting the relief package could be tied to the spending bill Congress must pass by Dec. 11 to avert another government shutdown.But as it stands, the current proposal is likely to lose support on the flanks of both parties. Already, conservative members of Congress have voiced opposition to the inclusion of nearly $200 billion in state and municipal aid included in the package. Republicans, like Florida Sen. Rick Scott, have been opposed to giving additional financial resources to states, calling it a “bailout of poorly managed states.”It’s still too early in the negotiations to know whether opposition among progressives and conservatives is enough to tank a deal.That said, the most liberal members of Congress have a lot to complain about, too. This latest proposal is half the size of a $1.8 trillion bill the Trump administration proposed just two months ago. Democratic leadership turned down that offer saying it did not go far enough.Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), a close ally of Sanders, was among the few Democrats that spoke out early against Pelosi’s decision to walk away from negotiations in October. This latest bipartisan proposal, he says, is a significantly less desirable outcome.“It’s worse by almost every metric,” Khanna told HuffPost. “What is the metric that it’s better than?” “It shows that we should have taken the $1.8 [trillion] ― and I worried about this,” Khanna added. “I said, ‘Let’s take this or after the election it’s going to be far less.’”House Democrats passed a $3.4 trillion relief package, dubbed the Heroes Act, over the summer, which Republicans blocked entirely, claiming the price tag was too high. The pandemic has reached its worst levels this month, which is forcing cities and states to implement even more stringent lockdown orders. The United States has recorded its highest number of hospitalized patients this week, as well as the most new cases reported in one day. As of Thursday, the United States has recorded 14,139,577 cases of COVID-19 and 276,325 related deaths.















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The studio has embraced a digital future. The rest of the industry would do well to pay mind.By Ms. Swisher covers technology and is a contributing opinion writer.Dec. 4, 2020Credit...Friedemann Vogel/EPA, via ShutterstockThe windows are now smashed, and that’s a good thing, broken glass notwithstanding.At least that’s the case at Warner Bros. This week, the entertainment giant finally shattered Hollywood’s way of doing business, perhaps for all time. The company said its entire slate of movies for 2021 — 17 in all — would drop onto its HBO Max streaming service on the same day they appear in theaters, abandoning the old system of “windowing” its cinematic releases.Even now, making theater owners think they still mattered was a necessary bone that WarnerMedia’s chief, Jason Kilar, had to throw to those who had not yet grasped the depth of the digital revolution, which has only accelerated during the pandemic.But WarnerMedia has finally embraced the inevitable future, even if they’re not saying it explicitly. The rest of the entertainment industry would do well to pay mind.Or at least keep up with Mr. Kilar, who is doing this to light a fire under the underperforming HBO Max. The streaming service has been too little, too confusing and too late, which is why subscribers have not been racing to sign up and pay $15 a month for it. HBO Max is limp with only 8.6 million activations, even though the traditional HBO cable service has 38 million subscribers.Thus, along with new originals like a “Gossip Girl” reboot, WarnerMedia needs to lard up HBO Max with its upcoming slate of possible blockbusters, like “Dune,” “The Matrix 4” and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights.” The studio had already sent out a clear signal last month that the ground was shifting when it said its “Wonder Woman 1984” would debut on both HBO Max and in theaters on Christmas Day.In Olden Times — last week — streaming services would have to wait 90 days while the movies played in theaters exclusively, a retrograde policy given how much the audience has changed in the last decade and, especially, in the last six months.Mr. Kilar is calculating correctly that even the impending rollout of Covid-19 vaccines will not be enough to boost movie-theatergoing until at least next fall.But if I know him well — and I have known him for many years, since before he was pioneering the Hulu service, where he was forever hamstrung by old rules of the entertainment industry — he is also assuming that Warner’s future lies primarily in making its streaming service the center of the action. And that means making the studio’s reliance on big theatrical releases a thing of the past.This is not unlike the huge shift the software and hardware industries underwent long ago, moving on from splashy big analog debuts. Remember the Windows 95 extravaganza and when things actually were launched at the Consumer Electronics Show? Me neither. Now, new tech products come out every which way and in the manner that befits whatever they need to thrive.Much of what has befallen the movie-theater business is about secular change related to technology. But the industry has done itself no favors by offering terrible customer service, ever-higher prices and precious little in the way of innovation, even as home theater experiences have drastically improved.While several of Mr. Kilar’s underlings tried not to answer the question of whether the Warner 2021 movie-slate move was temporary or permanent — one called it a “unique, one-year plan,” and the always shifty term “hybrid model” was tossed around — it’s just a feint to protect a lie that Hollywood has told itself for far too long. Which is that it can no longer avoid the wrenching changes to its business fueled by the rise of digital technologies and changing consumer practices. These have been clear to anyone who has watched the relentless and impressive march of Netflix.HBO Max, which debuted in May, is hardly a competitor to the persistently innovative Netflix, which has 200 million monthly subscribers on its global service, with 73 million in the United States. And throughout the pandemic, Netflix — because it has been perfecting its original-content machine for years — has been churning out the hits, including “Tiger King,” “The Queen’s Gambit” and an even spicier fourth season of “The Crown.” Netflix’s level of excellence has demanded that others follow it.Warner is not the only one. There have been increasingly aggressive efforts to put streaming in the lead by the Walt Disney Company, which took the well-timed plunge with its Disney+ service earlier this year. Disney just reported an impressive 73.7 million subscriber tally, helped by its creative “Mandalorian” franchise. And it is making its live-action remake of “Mulan” available to subscribers after having experimented by charging $30 extra to watch it on the service.By making these dramatic shifts, Disney and Warner may be giving up hundreds of millions in box office revenue from theaters, of course, but it’s pain that is necessary, even if it means complaints from those owners.And how, with the howling. Stocks of theater chains plummeted even further after the Warner news, which was apparently not signaled ahead of time to the chains, and after Warner and the theaters had tried to put a happy face on the initial “Wonder Woman 1984” news.“Clearly, WarnerMedia intends to sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division — and that of its production partners and filmmakers — to subsidize its HBO Max start-up,” AMC Entertainment’s Adam Aron said in an email to The New York Times. “As for AMC, we will do all in our power to ensure that Warner does not do so at our expense. We have already commenced an immediate and urgent dialogue with the leadership of Warner on this subject.”Talk all you want, Mr. Aron, because no one is actually listening and your company’s stock is sinking, even if some people are profusely apologizing and sending you the $795 Christmas morning breakfast box from ROE Caviar. Eat up, because there’s a lot less where that came from. The theater business a very shaky prospect in the long term.Or just read between the lines of what Mr. Kilar told The Times: “I have a lot of confidence in the theatrical model, and I have a lot of confidence in the subscription model. In many ways, you could see a future where budgets and ambitions continue to grow because that which you make more convenient tends to be used more often.”Let me decode that for those who don’t yet get the narrative: You have to break a lot of windows to let in the air blowing in from the future.

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Boffins from China say that they have managed to detect as many as 76 photons using a quantum computer, a result said to be the second demonstration of "quantum supremacy" or "quantum primacy" – solving a problem that a quantum computer can do far better than a classical computer. Physicists from Shanghai's University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), led by Chao-Yang Lu and Jian-Wei Pan, reported their results in a paper published Thursday in the journal Science. The researchers conducted a Gaussian Boson Sampling test, a variation on the Boson Sampling technique proposed in 2010 by Scott Aaronson, professor of computer science at the University of Texas at Austin, and Alex Arkhipov, at the time a doctoral student. The experiment involves sending photons through a beam splitting system and measuring their distribution – a task that a quantum computer turns out to be far better at doing than a traditional supercomputer. The Chinese team developed an apparatus, dubbed Jiuzhang, that consists of a laser, mirrors, prisms, and photon detectors. The group reported that they achieved a sampling rate that's "~1014 faster than using the state-of-the-art simulation strategy and supercomputers." Intel Labs unleashes its boffins with tales of quantum computing, secure databases and the end of debuggingREAD MORE So there it is, further evidence that quantum computers really can do certain calculations better than classical computers. The result adds weight to Google's quantum supremacy experiment last year and also surpasses it: As Aaronson stated Thursday in a blog post, this is the first time the advantage of quantum computing has been demonstrated using photonics (light) rather than superconducting qubits. But the USTC experiment represents only one step in a long journey toward practical quantum computing. The research, Aarsonson observes, is not synonymous with a useful, universal, scaleable or fault-tolerant quantum computing – all milestones that have yet to be achieved. As a gauge of the gap between quantum computing today and where it needs to go to become commercially viable, Anne Matsuura, director of quantum and molecular technologies at Intel, said in a presentation on Thursday that because effective error correction in quantum systems requires tens of qubits to pick one logical qubit, Intel believes "that a commercial scale system will really require millions of qubits." Google's system topped out at 53 qubits. IBM managed a 65-qubit machine in September and promised a 1,000-qubit device by 2023. Aaronson also touched on another challenge facing those developing quantum computing systems: Validating results using costly supercomputing power. He was among the reviewers of the USTC paper and said he asked the researchers why they only bothered to validate the results of their experiment for up to 26-30 photons. Surely, he argued, they could verify to 40 or 50 using existing computers. "A couple weeks later, the authors responded, saying that they’d now verified their results up to n=40, but it burned $400,000 worth of supercomputer time so they decided to stop there," he wrote. And don't even think about trying to fully replicate the Jiuzhang results using a classical computer. The USTC paper estimates that the time cost for the TaihuLight (Fugaku) supercomputer to generate the same number of samples in 200 seconds as the Jiuzhang device would be 2.5bn years. Among cloud service providers that bill for compute time, you can imagine the appeal of this sort of research. ®

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TIL Rome has major struggles with expanding the subway system in the city because diggers keep running into major archaeological finds. The Metro C expansion has been in the works for the past 40 years and has unearthed Hadrian's Athenaeum, a military complex, and an amphitheater .

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Millions of people in the San Francisco Bay Area will go under a new stay-at-home order beginning this weekend as coronavirus cases surge and hospitals fill up, health officials announced on Friday. On Thursday California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, launched a regional stay-at-home order pegged to intensive-care unit capacity at hospitals. Once the ICU capacity of a region falls below 15%, a stay-at-home order will be triggered, with the vast majority of California expected to meet that criteria within the next few days.The Bay Area was not expected to hit that threshold until mid-December, but San Francisco and four other Bay Area counties – Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin and Santa Clara – as well as the city of Berkeley have decided to pre-emptively adopt the order in an effort to curb the surge.San Francisco, along with other Bay Area counties, is opting in to the Governor's regional Stay at Home Order effective Sunday at 10pm.We're on pace to run out of hospital beds to care for patients the day after Christmas. We must turn this around now. https://t.co/F0qwFnCb9e— London Breed (@LondonBreed) December 4, 2020The order represents the most serious restrictions the state has put in place since the spring. They require restaurants to close to indoor and outdoor dining. Bars and wineries must also close, along with hair and nail salons and playgrounds. Retail stores and shopping centers can operate with just 20% customer capacity. Gatherings of any size with people outside of one’s household are banned.The changes will take effect on Sunday and last through 4 January. Officials said the region’s hospital system would have been overwhelmed before the end of December, when Newsom’s order would apply.“We don’t think we can wait for the state’s new restrictions to go into effect later this month. This is an emergency,“ said Chris Farnitano, the Contra Costa county health officer.“Given the steep increase in Covid-19 cases in San Francisco, we must do whatever is necessary in order to get the virus under control,” said London Breed, San Francisco’s mayor. “This is about protecting people’s lives. We see how quickly it moves and how devastating the effects. We need to do everything we can to prevent our hospital system from becoming overwhelmed and to save lives.”The other four regions of the state – northern California, the greater Sacramento area, southern California and the San Joaquin valley – are expected to reach the below-15% threshold within the next few days.The new stay-at-home order will cut sharply into the most profitable shopping season and threaten financial ruin for businesses already struggling after 10 months of on-again, off-again restrictions and slow sales because of the pandemic.The Associated Press contributed reporting

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November’s hiring of 245,000, the fifth straight monthly easing in new employment, reinforces calls for action on a fresh relief package.






















































Job growth has slowed considerably




Cumulative change in all jobs since before the pandemic














By Ella Koeze·Data is seasonally adjusted.·Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics





















Dec. 4, 2020, 5:58 p.m. ETThe American job engine has slowed significantly, stranding millions who have yet to find work after being idled by the pandemic, and offering fresh evidence that the recovery is faltering.The Labor Department reported Friday that employers added 245,000 jobs in November, fewer than half the number created in October. The pace of hiring has now diminished for five straight months.While many of those knocked out of a job early in the pandemic have been rehired, there are roughly 10 million fewer jobs than there were in February. Many of the unemployed are weeks away from losing benefits that have sustained them, with emergency assistance approved by Congress last spring set to expire at the end of the year.The latest sign of economic headwinds arrived as members of Congress struggled to reach agreement on a new aid package. A bipartisan group of legislators has put forward a $900 billion proposal, and the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said the disappointing jobs report should add momentum to negotiations.President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., warning of “a dark winter,” emphasized the urgency of congressional action. “This is a grim jobs report,” he said in a statement. “It shows an economy that is stalling. It confirms we remain in the midst of one of the worst economic and jobs crises in modern history.”Covid-19 caseloads have doubled in the past month and are expected to rise further, discouraging people from in-store shopping and leading to new restrictions. And in much of the country, colder weather is likely to impede outdoor dining, which many restaurants have depended on.“We’re in an unusual position right now in the economy,” said Ernie Tedeschi, an economist at the accounting firm Evercore ISI. “Far off in the distance there is sunlight” because of progress on coronavirus vaccines, he said, but until then, “we’re going to have a few of the toughest months of this pandemic, and there will be a lot of scars left to heal.”One of the longer-lasting wounds is likely to be a large pool of people — many still of prime working age — who drop out of the labor force, remaining sidelined even when opportunities return.The share of those 16 or older who are in a job or actively seeking one fell in November to 61.5 percent and remains far below levels seen before the pandemic. The drop has been especially noticeable among women, who are heavily represented in the service industries hit hardest by the pandemic — like retailing and dining — and have been more likely to leave the labor market because of family responsibilities.The seasonally adjusted jobless rate dipped in November, to 6.7 percent from 6.9 percent, but that was primarily because more people gave up looking for work.






















































Unemployment rate

















By Ella Koeze·Unemployment rates are seasonally adjusted.·Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics





















“Temporary unemployment fell, but permanent job loss inched up,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist at the job search site Indeed. Easily won gains have already occurred, as employers recalled briefly displaced workers, making subsequent progress harder.“Measures of longer-term damage worsened slightly in November,” he said.Last month’s job totals were dragged down in part by the loss of 93,000 temporary census workers, unneeded now that the official counting has wound down.Yet even in the private sector, “momentum is slowing,” said Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. financial economist at Oxford Economics.While distress can be found in nearly every pocket of the labor market, the pain has been unevenly distributed. This downturn, like previous ones, is expected to widen wealth and income gaps and hurt people with the least education.Joblessness among Black and Hispanic workers was significantly higher last month than it was for whites, in part because they hold a disproportionate share of service jobs.Gabriela Villagomez-Morales, 36, was laid off from her position as an assistant teacher at a day care center in Tacoma, Wash., after the pandemic arrived in March and schools shut down.Ms. Villagomez-Morales, a single mother of four, was unable to pay the $1,000 rent for her house, so she packed up and moved in with her sister and her two children.ImageCredit...Jovelle Tamayo for The New York TimesShe has applied for jobs at restaurants and child care centers. Although she has yet to find work, she worries what will happen to her children if she does.“It would be difficult, because someone would have to watch my kids if I’m not at home,” Ms. Villagomez-Morales said. “Child care is really expensive.”There have been some signs of energy in the labor market. With the pandemic keeping shoppers out of stores and employees working from home, it’s no surprise that some of November’s biggest gains were in warehousing and moving goods and in health care jobs.Employers in business and professional services also continued hiring, although large sections of the economy — like hospitality, travel and entertainment — are still floundering.Becky Frankiewicz, president of the staffing and placement company ManpowerGroup North America, said a survey of all publicly posted jobs showed 11 million openings in November, a million more than the previous month.“We continue to see week-over-week job growth,” Ms. Frankiewicz said. “We’re nowhere near where we were, yet we continue to limp ahead with recovery.”






















































Job gains were unevenly spread across industries in November




Cumulative change in jobs since before the pandemic, by industry














By Ella Koeze·Data is seasonally adjusted.·Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics





















There has been seasonal hiring, but the composition is different from what it was in previous years. Instead of adding positions at cash registers, on sales floors and in call centers, employers are scooping up people to work in warehouses and to handle customer service calls from home.“We’ve placed several thousand associates last week for seasonal holiday push, and there are a lot of openings for work-from-home opportunities,” said Amy Glaser, senior vice president at the staffing firm Adecco.Ilias Simpson, the chief executive of Radial, which handles e-commerce operations for retailers and other businesses, said the company had hired 15,000 seasonal workers, nearly tripling its North American work force for the holidays.“We’ve been hiring since October,” Mr. Simpson said, noting that Radial had hired 40 percent more people than it did last year. “We’re in the middle of peak season.”He plans to add several thousand workers over the next six months, some in permanent positions.Last year, when the unemployment rate had settled below 4 percent, news that employers had added nearly a quarter of million people to payrolls in a single month would have been greeted with enthusiasm. But circumstances have changed radically in a short time.Now millions more people are unemployed. And the broadest measure of joblessness, which includes workers who have part-time work but would prefer full-time employment or have given up the job hunt, has been at 12 percent for two months.If job creation doesn’t pick up, it will take more than three years to get back to where the labor market was before the pandemic hit.Wendi Wilson, 54, has been out of work since March. She had worked for six years as a brand ambassador helping companies sell products at conferences on the Las Vegas Strip, making roughly $35,000 a year.Her state unemployment benefit amounted to $115 a week, which was augmented for a while by a $600 federal supplement before it ran out in the summer.That left Ms. Wilson struggling to pay the $1,170 rent for her two-bedroom apartment in Summerlin, Nev., and a $460 monthly car payment.In August, her unemployment benefits stopped, but she said she hadn’t been able to reach the unemployment office to get the extension she is entitled to. So Ms. Wilson has been using her savings to pay bills, including cashing in her retirement account. She is also relying on donations from friends.“I don’t have any savings left, and that’s scary to me because of my age,” she said. “I’m not used to having to depend on others to help me, and I don’t like it.”Gillian Friedman and Jeanna Smialek contributed reporting.

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The “public charge” rule was supposed to ensure that green cards go only to self-sufficient immigrants, but in the pandemic, it is driving up hunger and leaving Joe Biden with a quandary.Credit...Sergio Flores for The New York TimesDec. 4, 2020, 5:57 p.m. ETHOUSTON — The cars began filing into the parking lot shortly after 6 a.m., snaking around police officers who directed traffic to masked volunteers standing ready with boxes of frozen pizza, tortillas and brown bags of canned food.The coronavirus pandemic pushed many of the hundreds of families to the drive-through food pantry, but among the several immigrant families in line, another cause was at work: President Trump’s newly expanded regulation that blocks access to green cards for legal immigrants who are deemed likely to accept any government assistance. Even with citizen children who clearly qualify for federal assistance, undocumented immigrant parents are eschewing programs like food stamps and are flocking to food pantries.That, in turn, is badly straining relief agencies and presenting a challenge to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who could confront rising hunger by expanding government programs but will not be able to quickly undo the Trump administration’s expansion of a Clinton-era regulation that is pushing immigrant families away from those programs.“They stop enrolling their kids and asking for food,” said Cathy Moore, the executive director of Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services, which runs the drive-through food pantry in Houston. “They’re scared.”Dani, a 34-year-old undocumented immigrant from Honduras and the mother of three daughters, said she was alarmed early in the Trump administration when the president described immigrants as criminals and called for deportation raids. But she changed her behavior and dropped off food stamps and Medicaid in 2018 when the administration announced its so-called public charge rule, expanding the authority of officials to deny green cards to immigrants who might need public assistance.On Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Trump administration when it upheld preliminary injunctions against the public charge rule, deciding that the regulation was most likely not a reasonable interpretation of federal immigration law. But even as the policy continues to be litigated, it has already spread fear and confusion throughout immigrant communities.The Clinton administration instructed officials to deem immigrants a “public charge” in limited circumstances, like if they were receiving government cash benefits. But the Trump administration effectively created a wealth test for immigrants seeking permanent residency by rendering inadmissible applicants deemed likely to use a broad range of safety net programs.Some undocumented immigrants who have resided in the country for many years fear that using public benefits for their families could undermine their chances of securing permanent residency if a new Congress ever provided amnesty. If denied a green card, they believe that they would then become vulnerable to deportation.Unauthorized immigrants are already ineligible for most welfare programs, but multiple researchers have said the policy has prompted thousands of families to drop off the benefit rolls, even if their American-citizen children could use such programs with no effect on their immigration applications — families like Dani’s.ImageCredit...Sergio Flores for The New York Times“I remember all that about the public charge and everything, and I cannot sleep,” said Dani, who was especially concerned about her efforts to obtain a green card so she could stay with her children. “What’s going to happen if I’m deported? What happens if I’m sent away?”While some of Mr. Trump’s executive actions can be rolled back quickly by the incoming Biden administration, the public charge regulation, which went through the laborious regulatory process before it was enacted, will prove arduous to rescind if it is ultimately upheld by the courts. And reducing the distrust in the government it has caused will be a major challenge for Mr. Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the first Latino and immigrant chosen for that role.The department, which handles immigration matters like the issuance of green cards, has purview over the public charge rule.“The fear has risen to such a pitch that it will be a real challenge to assuage families’ fears. They are focused on public charge, but not solely public charge,” said Cheasty Anderson, the director of immigration policy and advocacy at the Children’s Defense Fund-Texas. “There isn’t going to be trust in the federal government among immigrant communities who are currently afraid and intimidated until they stop feeling attacked by the federal government apparatus.”T.J. Ducklo, a spokesman for Mr. Biden, reiterated that the president-elect would work to roll back the public charge rule and was committed “to engaging with communities from Day 1 to ensure that they are able to access the care that is available to keep their families safe and healthy.”A survey of 949 members of immigrant households conducted by the Urban Institute found that more than 20 percent of immigrant adults avoided public benefits like food stamps, housing subsidies, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program out of fear of risking future green cards in 2019. Researchers for Ideas42, a nonprofit research organization, estimated that 260,000 children nationwide were removed by their parents from nutrition and health care programs after the announcement of the rule.That estimate was based on a study that found 79,000 children withdrew from Medicaid in five states: California, New Jersey, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.The Trump administration said the rule was necessary to ensure that immigrants who come to the United States were self-sufficient and not a drain on taxpayer resources. After announcing the policy, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, a top homeland security official, revised the iconic sonnet on the Statue of Liberty by saying the United States would welcome those “who can stand on their own two feet.”ImageCredit...Sergio Flores for The New York TimesThe administration had also predicted the chilling effect. In the final rule, Kevin K. McAleenan, the acting homeland security secretary at the time, wrote that the policy might cause foreigners and American citizens in households with unauthorized immigrants “who may otherwise be eligible for public benefits” to drop out of the programs. The agency estimated that could save the federal government nearly $2.5 billion annually.The effects have been acute among immigrant families in Texas, according to a report released in November by the Children’s Defense Fund, which compiled data from 32 social services organizations around the border state. Ms. Moore’s organization reported a 37 percent decline in food-stamp enrollment from 2016 to 2019 among a clientele base made up of more than 80 percent immigrant families, even while demand at the organization’s food distribution site shot up 327 percent.Another organization, VELA, a nonprofit that assists families of disabled children with a membership that is 85 percent immigrant, reported an 80 percent drop in food stamp enrollment from 2017 to 2019.One of those who dropped off was Guillermina, a mother of three in Austin, Texas, who like other parents interviewed for this article declined to use her full name for fear of retaliation from the government. After hearing about the public charge rule, Guillermina withdrew from food stamps in 2018 and let her health insurance expire.Anything but the essentials suddenly became a luxury.“The biggest limitation for us was meat and protein. That was the most expensive thing,” Guillermina said. “The big thing was being able to know how to ration that item so we could include it in small bits throughout the week.”The lack of health insurance meant she could no longer send her 4-year-old son to speech therapy. Without therapy sessions, Guillermina’s 11-year-old daughter, who has autism, began to forget techniques she had learned for household tasks, resulting in bursts of anger.“The thing with public charge is it’s something that didn’t just affect me,” Guillermina said. “It affected all my family members, so many families I know in the process of fixing their papers — this fear of feeling like I never could access my benefits without the risk of deportation.”In McAllen, Texas, Nailea Avalos, a 32-year-old mother of three who has worked for years as a waitress, took a deep breath and began to cry at the mention of the public charge rule. Originally from Mexico, she used public benefits to supplement her income as a waitress and her husband’s earnings from construction until 2016, when a friend told her Mr. Trump could soon punish those who used assistance.She grew used to rationing food.ImageCredit...Sergio Flores for The New York TimesBut in 2018, her daughter Xiomara, 8 at the time, showed how much she needed Medicaid. When an asthma attack impeded Xiomara’s breathing for a week, Ms. Avalos said she used a nebulizer she still had from an earlier illness of her son’s rather than taking her daughter to a hospital. When Xiomara’s struggles continued, she took her across the border to Reynosa, Mexico, for medical treatment.“I felt like I wasn’t a good mother, that I wasn’t taking care of my child,” Ms. Avalos said.When her husband lost his job in construction during the pandemic, she was driven back to public benefits. She has been told that using government assistance for her citizen children will not affect her green card eligibility, but she said she was still filled with anxiety.“We’re leaving it to God, but we’re also hoping if we have a new administration and a new president, that all that changes,” Ms. Avalos said, adding that she hoped Biden administration officials “just have a conscience.”Some of the parents using the food pantry in Houston said they re-enrolled in the public benefits programs only because they lost their jobs in the pandemic. But parents like Dani said they still felt more comfortable waiting for hours with their children in line at the drive-through food pantry.“They should have the food stamps that they’re eligible for because these people need to be able to put food on the table for their children that are United States citizens,” said Ms. Moore, of Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services. “The collateral damage is to the children.”As a case manager approached driver-side windows to speak to the parents, the line of vehicles threatened to extend beyond the parking lot. Police officers would need to tell more drivers to come back another time.“It’s not jarring anymore,” Ms. Moore said. “It’s just the norm.”

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The US will pull out nearly all its estimated 700 troops in Somalia over the next few months, the latest in a series of short-notice withdrawals ordered by Donald Trump in his last few weeks in power.A Pentagon statement on Friday said that some of the troops would be repositioned in neighbouring countries while others – it did not say how many – would leave the region altogether.“The US is not withdrawing or disengaging from Africa. We remain committed to our African partners and enduring support through a whole-of-government approach,” the statement said. “While a change in force posture, this action is not a change in US policy. We will continue to degrade violent extremist organizations that could threaten our homeland while ensuring we maintain our strategic advantage in great power competition.”Most US troops are in Somalia to train the country’s special forces unit Danab to fight al-Shabaab extremists.The announcement comes a month after a CIA officer died during a failed raid targeting an al-Shabaab bombmaker. But the withdrawal order also fits a pattern of Trump’s lame duck period. He also ordered force levels in Afghanistan and Iraq cut to 2,500 in each country by mid-January, a few days before Joe Biden enters the White House.Analysts have suggested the main motive is to be able to claim to have fulfilled his campaign promise to stop America’s “endless wars”, while leaving the messy consequences of rushed withdrawals to his successor.“Al-Shabaab will see the US drawdown as a victory, a critical step in its mission to expel foreign forces from Somalia and seize control of Somalia,” said Tricia Bacon, a former state department expert on Somalia and counterterrorism, now an associate professor at American University. “The US drawdown will hinder Danab in particular, which has been the most effective Somali force against al-Shabaab, in significant part because of US support.”“This is a decision that would be prudently left to the incoming administration, rather than done in the final days of the outgoing one,” Bacon said.Jim Langevin, the Democratic chair of the House subcommittee on intelligence and emerging threats, denounced the withdrawal as “a surrender to al-Qaida and a gift to China”.Benjamin Friedman, the policy director of the Defense Priorities thinktank, welcomed the move as a step in the right direction in reducing US exposure abroad.“It seems to be a shift away from a broader effort to fight on behalf of the Somali government against al-Shabaab to a more focused counter-terrorism mission,” Friedman said. “But the change is not necessarily a step toward ending American military involvement in Somalia’s civil war.”

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Here’s what you need to know at the end of the day.Dec. 4, 2020, 5:45 p.m. ET(Want to get this newsletter in your inbox? Here’s the sign-up.) Good evening. Here’s the latest.ImageCredit...Jim Wilson/The New York TimesAnd on Capitol Hill, Speaker Nancy Pelosi flashed fresh optimism on Friday that the House and Senate could soon reach a bipartisan deal on an elusive pandemic stimulus plan as part of an enormous year-end spending package. The government funding deadline is Dec. 11.ImageCredit...Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters2. Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that while the coronavirus vaccine is on the way, the pandemic remains a devastating threat. Above, a hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y.“Hospitalizations are still rising and it’s a real problem,” said Dr. Henry Walke, who directs the agency’s Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections. “Health care providers are overstressed, beds are full.”His comments came during a visit by Vice President Mike Pence to the C.D.C.’s offices in Atlanta, where Mr. Pence, seeking to put a more upbeat spin on the situation, declared that America is in a “challenging time,” but also “a season of hope.”Cases are surging, especially in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States where, in many places, the virus caseload is exceeding peaks seen in the spring. And in California, the San Francisco Bay Area will proceed with a stay-at-home order this weekend and will not wait for the state to order the region to close.ImageCredit...New York Times database3. Europeans were desperate for a break from the coronavirus pandemic and headed off for their summer vacations. They paid dearly for it.The second wave hitting Europe is now deadlier than the first, forcing reluctant governments back into lockdowns and inflicting new scars on the European economy. Research shows swift internal reopenings with few restrictions, coupled with cross-border travel, were at the root of the second wave.ImageCredit...Jason Henry for The New York Times4. The House passed sweeping legislation that would decriminalize marijuana and expunge nonviolent marijuana-related convictions, a watershed moment decades in the making for advocates of marijuana legislation.The bill passed 228-164, marking the first time either chamber of Congress has ever endorsed the legalization of cannabis, but it is almost certainly doomed in the Republican-led Senate.The vote was the first time since June that Congress has taken up a major bill aimed at addressing racial disparities in the criminal justice system. After nationwide protests over the summer, the House passed a behemoth policing overhaul bill, which ultimately stalled.ImageCredit...Sharon Chischilly for The New York Times5. Native Americans helped flip Arizona, above. Can they mobilize in Georgia?Very few of Georgia’s more than 100,000 voting-age Native Americans cast ballots in November. Even a small increase can make a difference in two runoff elections next month that will decide which party controls the Senate. Buoyed by remarkable Native American turnout in other states last month, advocates are trying to make that happen at breakneck speed. Here’s a guide to registering and voting in the Georgia runoffs. Monday is the registration deadline.Both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are campaigning this weekend on behalf of the state’s two embattled Republican senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. The Democratic candidates, Jon Ossof and Dr. Raphael Warnock, held a virtual rally with former President Barack Obama.ImageCredit...Daniele Volpe for The New York Times6. Crippled by the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis, Central America is confronting another catastrophe: The mass destruction caused by two hurricanes that hit the region in quick succession last month.The destruction is only now becoming clear. Infrastructure, cropland and tens of thousands of homes are gone. The repercussions of the ruin are likely to spread far beyond the region. The hurricanes affected more than five million people, creating a new class of refugees with more reason than ever to migrate.“There are some estimates of up to a decade just to recover,” said Adm. Craig S. Faller, the head of the U.S. Southern Command, which has been delivering aid to survivors.ImageCredit...Mauricio Lima for The New York Times7. A recent video of a Black man being beaten by the French police thrust him into the spotlight. He spoke to us about the attack and its aftermath.The footage, which shows police officers gratuitously beating Michel Zecler, 41, a producer well known in the world of French rap, has prompted a national uproar and forced President Emmanuel Macron’s government to scrap and rewrite part of a security bill that would have restricted the filming of police officers.“What shocks me most is not that there are racist elements in the police,” Mr. Zecler said, adding that without security camera footage he would have probably been arrested. “What amazes me is that they felt confident enough to go that far, in their actions, in their words.”ImageCredit...Seth Wenig/Associated Press8. He’s making a list (disinfecting it twice).Not even Santa Claus can escape the pandemic — and the men who play him every year are trying to get through the season safely.Many pandemic-related innovations for Santa’s work have come out of 2020, including video calls and drive-through greetings. But one Santa Claus has another idea: Place Father Christmas in a vinyl dome.“If parents don’t want to explain virus transmission, they can say Santa got trapped in a snow globe by an elf magician and you have to come visit him at the globe,” said Ric Erwin, the chairman of the board of the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas, a national association for men who play Santa Claus at holiday events.ImageCredit...Johnny Miller for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Susan Spungen.9. The complex relationship between food and the pandemic.Most of us have spent a lot more time at home this year than usual — and for some people, this has meant more cooking. After all, food can nourish our souls as much as our bodies. The Times’s Opinion section asked six people who know about the power of food to talk about the flavors dear to their hearts. From Pandan cake to wild blueberries, here are their responses.Something else that may feed the soul? Latkes. Joan Nathan has found the crisp potato pancakes of her dreams, inspired by Swiss rösti, just in time for Hanukkah next week.There’s a flip-side to all of this time at home and in the kitchen: Many people are stress-eating and gaining weight as a result, according to a new study.ImageCredit...The New York Times10. And lastly, farewell to a champion.Betsy Wade arrived in The Times’s newsroom in 1956, four years after being fired as a reporter for The New York Herald for being pregnant. She instantly broke a 105-year-old practice of male copy editing in The Times’s news department, where women were rare, relatively underpaid and relegated largely to reporting on “women’s news” or secretarial jobs.In a 45-year Times career, Ms. Wade, pictured in 1975, fought a landmark sex discrimination case against the paper that was one of the industry’s earliest fights over women’s rights to equal treatment in hiring practices. She also became the first woman to lead the Newspaper Guild of New York, among other firsts. She walked so many of us could run.Ms. Wade died at her home in Manhattan on Thursday. She was 91.Have a groundbreaking weekend.Claire Moses contributed to the Briefing.Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.Want to catch up on past briefings? You can browse them here.What did you like? What do you want to see here? Let us know at [email protected]

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New shows come to the streaming giant all the time — too many to ever watch them all. We’re here to help.Dec. 4, 2020, 5:35 p.m. ETSign up for our Watching newsletter to get recommendations on the best films and TV shows to stream and watch, delivered to your inbox.Netflix adds original programming at such a steady clip that it can be hard to keep up with which of its dramas, comedies and reality shows are must-sees. And that’s not including all the TV series Netflix picks up from broadcast and cable networks. Below is our regularly updated guide to the 50 best shows on Netflix in the United States. Each recommendation comes with a secondary pick, too, for 100 suggestions in all. (Note: Netflix sometimes removes titles without notice.)We also have lists of the best movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, along with the best TV and movies on Hulu and Disney+.ImageCredit...Michael Lavine/Netflix‘Selena: The Series’ (2020-present)This lively musical biography covers the short life of the Tejano singing sensation Selena Quintanilla, following her rise from low-paying gigs to multiplatinum album sales. (Netflix has released nine of a planned 18 episodes.) What sets this series apart from so many other celebrity origin stories — as well as from the 1997 big-screen biopic “Selena” — is that each episode focuses quite a bit on Selena’s family, which provided her first backing band and was an enduring motivational force. Ricardo Chavira gives a fine performance as the driven patriarch Abraham Quintanilla, whose obsession with finding the right formula to make his daughter famous generates a lot of the plot in this fascinatingly detailed backstage drama. (For a fun series about a fictional band of young rockers, watch the supernatural comedy “Julie and the Phantoms.”)Watch it on Netflix‘Teenage Bounty Hunters’ (2020)In this rollicking action-comedy, Maddie Phillips and Anjelica Bette Fellini play the teenage sisters Sterling and Blair Wesley, who stumble onto a part-time job as “interns” for the bounty hunter Bowser Simmons (Kadeem Hardison) after they accidentally capture one of his targets. While juggling their complicated romantic lives and their studies at a private Christian school by day, the Wesley girls end up getting an education in their friends’ and neighbors’ secret lives by night. Our critic called the show “quirky and naughty and funny, the show so many teen shows think they are but aren’t quite, satirical and earnest often in the same scene.” Netflix cancelled it after one season, but that one season is a hoot. (For more clever and colorful adventures, stream the animated “DC Superhero Girls.”)Watch it on Netflix‘Big Mouth’ (2017-present)Netflix has become a haven for adult-oriented animated series, written and voiced by comedians who know that sometimes raunchy jokes are even funnier when delivered by cartoons. Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Jenny Slate and Jessi Klein are among the comics involved in “Big Mouth,” which follows a group of junior high schoolers who are tormented day and night by the monsters who embody their uncontrollable adolescent impulses. Our critic calls it “more sweet and insightful than its hormone-drenched premise might lead you to believe.” Now four seasons into its run, the show remains as refreshingly honest as it is hilarious. (Also funny and frank: the comedian Bill Burr’s animated “F Is for Family.”)Watch it on NetflixImageCredit...Des Willie/Netflix‘The Crown’ (2016-present)By the time this sweeping historical drama is done, the writer-producer Peter Morgan intends to have spent 60 episodes covering the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, from coronation to now. Claire Foy plays the Queen for the first two seasons, which take place from the late 1940s through the mid-60s. Olivia Colman takes the lead in Seasons 3 and 4, which begin in 1964 and move the story through England’s psychedelic, punk and Margaret Thatcher-Lady Diana eras. The A-list cast and the lavish production are the primary selling points of “The Queen,” which our critic called, “an orgy of sumptuous scenes and rich performances.” (If you like British history but aren’t interested in royalty, try “Peaky Blinders,” about the changes in the criminal underworld after World War I.)Watch it on Netflix‘Blood of Zeus’ (2020)Part of Netflix’s line of original anime, this stylish and action-packed series combines elements of classical Greek mythology with modern epics like “The Lord of the Rings” and “Game of Thrones.” The story follows Heron, a young hero who learns that he is actually a demigod and that he is destined to play a vital part in a long-gestating war against world-conquering demons. Fast-paced and ultra-violent, “Blood of Zeus” is a concentrated dose of adult fantasy. Our critic wrote, “The eight episodes are fantastically engrossing, and the imagery is gorgeous, adding layers of beauty to righteous rage.” (For another innovative animated adventure, watch “The Liberator,” which tells the true story of a U.S. Army officer during World War II.)Watch it on Netflix‘Outlander’ (2014-present)“Game of Thrones” gets more attention, but “Outlander” has been just as successful at adapting a sprawling book series — and at mixing political intrigue with high fantasy. Based on Diana Gabaldon’s novels about a time traveling 20th century English doctor (Caitriona Balfe) and her romance with an 18th century Scottish rebel (Sam Heughan), the show offers big battles, wilderness adventure and frank sexuality. It has a rare historical scope as well, covering the changing times in Europe and the Americas across centuries. Our critic wrote that it should appeal to viewers who “have a weakness for muskets, accents and the occasional roll in the heather.” (The German science-fiction series “Dark” features a similar mix of earnest drama and time-travel.)Watch it on NetflixImageCredit...Phil Bray/Netflix‘The Queen’s Gambit’ (2020)Based on a 1983 novel by Walter Tevis — an eclectic writer best-known for “The Hustler” and “The Man Who Fell to Earth” — the seven-part mini-series “The Queen’s Gambit” is about a chess prodigy who struggles with addiction and self-doubt while rising through the international ranks in the 1960s. Anya Taylor-Joy plays the young master, who has a tough childhood she finds hard to shake, even as she’s clobbering her competition. The creators, including Scott Frank, bring just enough ornate visual style to frame Taylor-Joy’s outstanding performance as a woman who gets lost whenever she looks beyond an 8x8 grid. Our critic wrote, “Frank wraps it all up in a package that’s smart, smooth and snappy throughout, like finely tailored goods.” (For more of Frank’s work, watch his western mini-series “Godless.”)Watch it on Netflix‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ (1969-74)The British sketch comedy troupe Monty Python combined the cheekiness of old English music hall comics with the surrealism and self-awareness of the psychedelic era. Their series, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” ran for four seasons from 1969-74 and was syndicated around the world, popularizing an absurdist approach to humor — and to life — that has inspired countless sketch comedians. Although the original show is 50 years old now, it “hasn’t aged a bit.” (The “Mr. Show” creators, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, were clearly inspired by Monty Python, as evidenced by their Netflix series “w/Bob & David.”)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Eike Schroter/Netflix‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ (2020)A more modernized take on the 1898 Henry James novella “The Turn of the Screw” — a frequently adapted tale of creeping paranoia — “The Haunting of Bly Manor” is set at a sprawling old estate where an au pair named Dani (Victoria Pedretti) keeps seeing strange apparitions in the shadows. The gothic drama was created by the acclaimed horror filmmaker Mike Flanagan (“Hush,” “Doctor Sleep”), and like his previous Netflix adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House,” this latest literary spook-show is as much about having characters confront their past traumas and their broken family relationships as it is about literal ghosts. It’s as moving as it is unnerving. (Stream “The Haunting of Hill House” too; the two series stand alone, but they do share some subtle connections.)Watch it on NetflixImageCredit...Elizabeth Fisher/CBS‘Evil’ (2019-present)The writer-producer team of Robert and Michelle King (“The Good Wife”) have made one of TV’s most charmingly bizarre mystery series with “Evil,” an offbeat examination into the culture-changing effects of fervent faith, religious and otherwise. The show has Katja Herbers as a skeptical psychologist who’s aiding a Catholic priest-in-training (Mike Colter) on a mission to investigate supernatural phenomena — while also working to stymie a mysterious man (Michael Emerson) who seeks to sow chaos. “Evil” is often quite funny and occasionally frightening. It is also a thoughtful attempt to understand the madness of modern life. A Times article about the creators called it “a response to the world as the Kings see it.” (For another offbeat supernatural procedural, watch “Lucifer.”)Watch it on Netflix‘Song Exploder’ (2020-present)Like the podcast of the same name, the documentary series “Song Exploder” has musicians describing in detail what went into the recording of some of their best-known work. Each half-hour installment relies mainly on interviews with the writers and performers — including R.E.M., Alicia Keys, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ty Dolla Sign — who listen to isolated tracks from their mixes with the host, Hrishikesh Hirway, and then get into the nuts and bolts of the creative process. The Times recommended the podcast to anyone “in the mood to get granular about the craft of songwriting.” This TV adaptation lives up to its source. (For a more expansive look at modern music, watch the decades-spanning “Hip-Hop Evolution.”)Watch it on Netflix‘Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts’ (2020)An unusually bright and cheery post-apocalyptic adventure, this kid-friendly cartoon follows a teenage girl named Kipo (voiced by Karen Fukuhara), who leaves her society’s underground hideaway to journey through a ruined landscape, populated by intelligent, superpowered mutant animals. There’s peril aplenty, but the show’s tone hardly ever turns too dark. The plucky heroine, her strange companions and the whimsical creature designs may remind animation fans of Hayao Miyazaki’s imaginative take on young adult fantasy. Our critic said, “It has a visual sophistication that separates it from the other shows.” (For another beautifully illustrated and emotionally satisfying animated fantasy series, stream “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Des Willie/Love Productions‘The Great British Baking Show’ (2010-present)In this internationally beloved reality competition, a handful of home bakers gather in a tent in the English countryside, where they make baked goods in front of demanding judges and supportive comedians. The roster of hosts and commentators has changed during the show’s decade on the air, but the appeal has remained steady. There’s just something special about “The Great British Baking Show,” a life-affirming series in which contestants of various ages and socio-ethnic backgrounds hug one another, cry together, share tips and enjoy one another’s company. Writing for The Times, Tom Whyman called it “the key to understanding today’s Britain.” (Daunted by all of the pretty-looking pastries? Check out the much sloppier sweets on “Nailed It!,” which is happy-making in its own way.)Watch it on Netflix‘Schitt’s Creek’ (2015-20)The Canadian sitcom “Schitt’s Creek,” created by the father-son duo Eugene and Dan Levy, took a while to find an audience. But by the end of its six-seasons, TV buffs and critics had fallen for this tale of a wealthy, spoiled family forced to move to a small town after they go broke. In 2020, the series set a record by sweeping all of the major Emmy awards in the comedy category, cementing the legacy of its snarky-but-humane exploration of ordinary life. In a Times article about the final season, Lara Zarum noted its “daffy charm” and the “winning combination of its characters’ caustic wit and the show’s fundamental warmth.” (For a different take on working-class woes, watch the recent remake of the TV classic “One Day at a Time,” which follows an eclectic and very funny Cuban-American family.)Watch it on NetflixImageCredit...Colleen Hayes/NBC‘The Good Place’ (2016-20)It’s difficult to describe this fantastical metaphysical sitcom without spoiling its surprises. It’s ostensibly about a selfish young woman named Eleanor (Kristen Bell), who with a handful of other iffy humans lands in a cockeyed version of the afterlife, managed by the cheerful kook Michael (Ted Danson) and his humanoid supercomputer, Janet (D’Arcy Carden). But with his philosophical digressions and fantastical comic inventions, the creator, Michael Schur, keeps viewers guessing all the way to the clever and emotional series finale. And even without the crazy plot twists, the show provides food for thought. Our critic wrote, “Mr. Schur seems to have found a deeper idea behind the show’s premise: Is acting good the same as being good?” (For another thoughtful sitcom about people struggling with virtue, watch “After Life,” created by and starring Ricky Gervais.)Watch it on NetflixImageCredit...Mike Kollöffel, Courtesy of DR TV‘Borgen’ (2010-13)The Danish political drama “Borgen” became a favorite of TV fans around the world back in the days when foreign-language shows were often available only on hard-to-find DVDs or marginal cable channels. Now Netflix is making the series more widely available, with a new English dub. That should help a larger audience discover this riveting fictional story about Denmark’s first woman prime minister (played by Sidse Babett Knudsen) and how she struggles to maintain her ideals and optimism. Our critic wrote, “It is remarkable how much suspense and psychological drama the show squeezes out of cabinet shuffles and health-care-reform bills in a small Scandinavian nation.” (For an equally addicting political thriller about a different era and country, stream “Babylon Berlin.”)Watch it on NetflixImageCredit...Eli Ade/OWN‘Greenleaf’ (2016-20)The political machinations and personality clashes inside a predominately Black megachurch generate the drama in “Greenleaf,” a soapy-but-realistic story about how one powerful Memphis family balances its Christian faith and worldly desires. The strong cast is led by Keith David as Bishop James Greenleaf, an inspiring pastor whose propensity for sin challenges his warring children, who debate whether the good he does justifies his mistakes. Our critic wrote that it “has the kind of 3-D depiction of faith you can get only from a family whose life is religion.” The series recently completed its fifth and final season; all of them are now available on Netflix. (For another richly detailed show about an American institution, watch “The Game,” about professional football players and their families.)Watch it on Netflix‘Cobra Kai’ (2018-present)The first two seasons of the martial arts melodrama “Cobra Kai” originated on YouTube; but now both are making the move to Netflix before season three debuts next year. A revival of the “Karate Kid” franchise, this fan-friendly series — which packs “a surprising emotional punch,” according to Bruce Fretts — brings back the original’s hero and villain, still played by Ralph Macchio and William Zabka. The show has enormous nostalgic appeal but is more complicated than the usual “underdogs versus bullies” arc. Instead, “Cobra Kai” gets into the family histories and the socioeconomic circumstances that made these characters who they are. (For more retro ’80s vibes, watch the docu-series “High Score,” about the evolution of video games.)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix‘When They See Us’ (2019)As a producer and director, Ava DuVernay has tackled the Civil Rights Movement, in her Oscar-nominated film “Selma,” and racial bias in the American criminal justice system, in her Emmy-winning documentary “13TH.” In her four-part mini-series “When They See Us,” she dramatizes the story of the Central Park Five, who were convicted of raping and almost killing a jogger in New York City in 1989, then exonerated in 2002. Salamishah Tillet wrote that the Five “emerge as the heroes of their own story — and if we pay heed to the series’s urgent message about criminal justice reform, ours too.” (For another politically pointed true-crime drama stream “Unbelievable,” which examines gender bias in policing)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Scott Everett White/CW‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ (2015-19)The musical-theater loving comic actress Rachel Bloom was a creator of and stars in this colorful dramedy, playing Rebecca Bunch, a depressed lawyer who gives up a promising career to move to the hometown of a man she briefly dated as a teenager. With its catchy songs (many of which were written or co-written by the Fountains of Wayne singer-songwriter Adam Schlesinger, who died in April) and its frank conversations about mental health, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” has an expressive, openhearted style, rooted in the creators’ compassion for flawed people. Our critic wrote, “The series is committed to the idea that every character can carry a story line, any person can be more than they appear.” (For a more dramatic take on the TV musical, stream “The Eddy,” about a Parisian jazz club.)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Andrew D. Bernstein/Netflix‘The Last Dance’ (2020)The Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls weren’t just the most dominant NBA team of the 1990s; they were also a constant source of off-the-court drama, famed for their glamorous lifestyles and bitter interpersonal conflicts. The addicting 10-part docu-series “The Last Dance” arrived at just the right time in the summer of 2020, giving sports fans and TV fans something to look forward to each week with its detailed look back at the Bulls and Jordan’s decade of glory and excess. Our critic Wesley Morris said: “You could call these 10 hours a walk down memory lane. But that’d be like calling Mardi Gras a parade.” (Another of 2020’s most talked-about docu-series is the soapy, strange-but-true crime story “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.”)Watch it on Netflix.‘Last Chance U’ (2016-20)This documentary series follows college football hopefuls who are teetering on the edge of oblivion, trying to bounce back from the academic, discipline and injury problems that derailed their dreams. The first two seasons were shot at East Mississippi Community College, the third and fourth at Independence Community College, in Kansas, and the fifth at Laney College in Oakland, Calif. Each balances stories about the players with a look at their tutors and coaches, showing how they all must adjust their hopes and expectations. Our critic Margaret Lyons wrote, “Alongside the show’s ability to engender simmering loathing for broken systems is its love for its subjects.” (For another engaging series about struggling athletes, from the same creative team, try “Cheer.”)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Brooke Palmer/NBC‘Hannibal’ (2013-15)Although this dark and bloody crime series takes its name from its villain, Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) — the brilliant psychiatrist and incorrigible cannibal introduced in the novels of Thomas Harris — the show is just as much about Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), the F.B.I. profiler whose investigations lead him into Lecter’s orbit. Over the course of three increasingly intense and operatic seasons, these two men circle each other in grim plots that incorporate elements of gothic horror and abstract art. Our critic was unimpressed with the early episodes of Season 1 but still praised its “superior production values” and “stylishness,” which become only more grandiose later on. (For another smart and artful take on the serial killer genre, stream “Mindhunter.”)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Kailey Schwerman/Netflix‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ (2020-present)Too often, when a new creative team revives an old favorite from pop culture’s past, it tries to update the material by making it more edgy. That’s not the case with the latest TV adaptation of Ann M. Martin’s “The Baby-Sitters Club” book series, which retains the easygoing charm and engaging plotting of the novels. The show’s creator, Rachel Shukert, doesn’t shy away from the unique modern pressures on teenage girls and the younger kids they look after; but the episodic stories here are bright and breezy, first and foremost. Our critic called the show “sweet but not cloying, smart but not cynical, full-hearted and funny enough to please both grown readers of the original books and the young target audience of the new series.” (For another sensitive and fresh adaptation of classic young adult fiction, watch “Anne With an E,” based on “Anne of Green Gables.”)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Lifetime, via Amazon Prime Video‘Supermarket Sweep’ (1990-95)There are only 15 episodes from the 1990s version of the game show “Supermarket Sweep” currently available on Netflix, but they’re all a must-see for anyone who still has fond memories from childhood of watching ordinary consumers race through the aisles of a fake grocery store, hunting for the top-dollar items. From the fashions to the host David Ruprecht’s questions — all of which are very much of their time — this series has an appealing time-capsule quality: It’s both a fun game show and an inadvertently nostalgic look back at the brand-name products from the past. (For a more highbrow game, turn to “Jeopardy!,” which is also available on Netflix in episode “collections” that rotate regularly.)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...David Lee/Netflix‘She’s Gotta Have It’ (2017-19)With his 1986 feature, “She’s Gotta Have It,” the writer-director Spike Lee established his reputation as an ambitious and imaginative artist, equally adept at raunchy comedy, romantic melodrama, social commentary and lyrical interludes. The TV adaptation of the movie is just as generously eclectic. Lee and his writers use the original’s story of a sexually liberated woman and her many suitors as a foundation for a freewheeling exploration of how Black bohemian life in today’s Brooklyn differs from life there in the ’80s. Our critic said, “More expansive than interior, more defiant than dreamy, it’s a vibrant if uneven work in heated conversation with itself.” (For another exciting and creative take on contemporary Black culture, watch “Dear White People.”)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...CBS, via Netflix‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ (1993-99)Of all the older “Star Trek” series, “Deep Space Nine” today feels the most ahead of its time. Set near a wormhole connecting distant quadrants of the galaxy, the show deals frankly with the tricky politics of a remote outpost where different species warily interact. It’s a complex kind of space western: like “Gunsmoke” with phasers. And while mostly episodic, “Deep Space” does feature longer story arcs and subplots, more akin to 21st century television. Our critic called the whole “Star Trek” franchise “part of our national mythology, a continuing megastory whose characters come to represent our abstract ideals.” (Some of the concepts and characters on “Deep Space Nine” were introduced on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” which is also on Netflix.)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Macall Polay/FX‘Pose’ (2018-present)Set amid the New York City “drag ball” scene of the late ’80s and early ’90s, the exuberant drama “Pose” is groundbreaking for the way it employs a large cast of transgender women playing transgender women. The series deals with serious issues — including the devastation of AIDS and the way the city’s economic boom of the ’80s bypassed the marginalized — but it is surprisingly optimistic, emphasizing the community fostered by these underground fashion and dance competitions (hosted by the acid-tongued Pray Tell, played by Billy Porter). Our critic wrote that “Pose” “stands, bold and plumed, and demands attention.” (For a perspective on the mainstreaming of L.G.B.T.Q. culture since the 1990s, watch the makeover show “Queer Eye.”)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Paramount Network‘Waco’ (2018)The tragic 1993 standoff between the United States government and the Branch Davidian religious sect sparked a bitter debate many Americans are still having about the rights of the state to curtail individual freedom. The absorbing six-part mini-series “Waco” gives the issues a fair hearing, presenting different perspectives largely through the viewpoint of an F.B.I. crisis negotiator played by Michael Shannon. As he tries to keep his impatient bosses from using brute force, the hero calmly reasons with the passionate evangelist David Koresh (Taylor Kitsch) in long and refreshingly nuanced conversations. Our critic praised Kitsch’s performance, saying he “radiates sincerity and has an overflowing charisma.” (For another excellent and enlightening dramatization of recent American history, watch “Manhunt: Unabomber.”)Watch it on Netflix.‘The Midnight Gospel’ (2020-present)The animator Pendleton Ward follows up his cult favorite kids’ series “Adventure Time” with something very different: a cartoon that combines surrealism and docu-realism, pitched to broad-minded grown-ups. The comedian Duncan Trussell provides the voice of the hero, Clancy Gilroy, a podcaster who travels across dimensions and through the universe, interviewing strange creatures in dangerous places. The illustrations are trippy, influenced by pulp science-fiction; but the dialogue is mostly casual and earnestly philosophical. The result is a show that on the surface looks like a mature animated fantasy but is actually a sweet and strange inquiry into what it means to be alive. Our critic called it “expansive and full-hearted and cathartic.” (For more TV-MA animation, try the eye-popping anthology series “Love, Death & Robots”.)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Eric Liebowitz/Netflix‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ (2015-20)Easily the most upbeat sitcom ever made about a woman who escaped from an oppressively patriarchal religious cult, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” stars Ellie Kemper as Kimmy, who somehow keeps her youthful enthusiasm when she arrives in New York City after 15 years imprisoned in a bunker. A stellar supporting cast — including Tituss Burgess as Kimmy’s perpetually jobless roommate, Carol Kane as her activist landlord and Jane Krakowski as her overprivileged boss — brings range to this show’s unusually sunny, zingy vision of 2010s New York. Our critic wrote, “The series leavens wacky absurdity with acid wit and is very funny.” Don’t miss the series’s epilogue either: an experimental interactive movie called “Kimmy vs. the Reverend.” (The “Kimmy” creators, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, also produced the equally hilarious but under-seen sitcom “Great News.”)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Justin Lubin/NBC‘Community’ (2009-15)When this fast-paced campus comedy debuted, it seemed on-track to be a smarter-than-average mainstream sitcom, featuring a talented young ensemble — including the future stars Donald Glover and Alison Brie — alongside the TV veterans Chevy Chase and Joel McHale. (At the time, our critic called it “Bracingly funny.”) Before long, the show’s creator, Dan Harmon, started playing around with the structure and style of “Community” episodes, making the show at once aggressively postmodern and unusually personal. By the end of its six-season run, this series developed into something more like a provocative and hilarious video essay, meant to ponder whether television formulas still matter. (For another self-referential sitcom, watch “Arrested Development.”)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Lara Solanki/Netflix ‘Never Have I Ever’ (2020-present)For “Never Have I Ever,” the creator of “The Mindy Project,” Mindy Kaling, draws on her own teenage experiences as a first-generation Indian-American who very much wanted to be part of the popular crowd. This clever and heartfelt sitcom is set in the modern day, but it should still be relatable to anyone who can remember the family pressures, personal traumas and unrealistic expectations that keep some kids from ever feeling “cool.” Our critic said this show “moves like a teen comedy and has a sort of ‘Mean Girls’ gloss on high school in terms of its anthropology of teendom and its school aesthetic.” (For a different tale of teen life — about misfits who reinvent themselves as high school sex therapists — stream “Sex Education.”)Watch it on Netflix.‘Fauda’ (2015-present)This intense thriller was cocreated by its lead actor, Lior Raz, who plays an IDF agent drawn out of retirement by the prospect of taking down a terrorist he thought he’d already killed. That one mission leads to unexpected complications and further side operations, some of them involving the hero’s going undercover with his adversaries. The matter-of-fact scenarios in “Fauda” are an attempt to reflect the tricky politics and daily sacrifices of crime-fighting in Israel. Our critic wrote that its story “spirals out in increasingly messy strands of betrayal and violence.” (For another crime drama about cultures in conflict, try “Giri/Haji.”)Watch it on Netflix.‘The Twilight Zone’ (1959-64)The Emmy-winning television writer and producer Rod Serling said he created this creepy science-fiction anthology series in part because he was tired of having TV executives nix the social commentary in his scripts. With “The Twilight Zone,” Serling and a handful of top fantasy writers riffed on paranoia, prejudice, greed and alienation in twisty stories about inexplicable supernatural phenomena. Some of the best episodes have stuck with viewers for decades, coloring the way they see the world. In a Times appreciation, the writer Brian Tallerico called the show, “an indelible part of the cultural lexicon.” (For a 21st century spin on “The Twilight Zone,” watch “Black Mirror.”)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Anika Molnar/Netflix‘Unorthodox’ (2020)Based on the Deborah Feldman memoir about life in a strict Hasidic Jewish community, this nerve-racking mini-series has Shira Haas playing Esty, a teenage bride who flees her husband in Brooklyn to move to Berlin, where she studies music. The plot in “Unorthodox” is split between the furor back home over Esty’s departure and her tentative steps abroad toward living freely and thinking for herself. As the two narrative strands come together, the story becomes increasingly tense. Our critic called the show, “a thrilling and probing story of one woman’s personal defection.” (For another well-written show about a person trying to renter mainstream society, stream “Rectify,” about an ex-convict who comes home after having spent most of his youth behind bars.)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Kevin Estrada/Netflix‘Gentefied’ (2020-present)Set in the rapidly gentrifying Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights, this lively dramedy follows the dreams and disagreements of three very different cousins, all of whom have their own ideas about how to keep their grandfather’s taco restaurant afloat. Savvy and often funny, “Gentefied” offers a snapshot of a Mexican-American culture in transition, in which deeply rooted traditions are threatened by economic and social change. Our critic wrote: “The show’s likability carries it through its rougher patches. This series puts a lot on its plate, and somehow, it all comes together.” (For another addicting show about Angelenos’ aspirations, watch the teen melodrama “On My Block.”)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Ursula Coyote/AMC‘Better Call Saul’ (2015-present)The “Breaking Bad” prequel series, “Better Call Saul,” covers the early days of the can-do lawyer Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) as he evolves into the ethically challenged criminal attorney “Saul Goodman.” Throughout the show, Jimmy crosses paths with another “Breaking Bad” regular, the ex-cop Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), during Mike’s first forays into the Albuquerque drug-trafficking business. In this frequently surprising and incredibly entertaining crime saga, these two very different men discover the rewards and the perils of skirting the law. Our critic wrote, “Cutting against the desperation and violence that frame it, ‘Saul,’ in its dark, straight-faced way, is one of the funniest dramas on television.” (Also a must-see? “Breaking Bad,” of course.)Watch it on Netflix.‘Night on Earth’ (2020)Special low-light cameras give this six-part nature documentary a look and feel unlike that of any other show of its kind. “Night on Earth” features footage from around the world, shot under the cover of darkness, during times of day when some animals mate and hunt. The series’s muted music and its soft Samira Wiley narration — paired with the ghostly images of creatures moving stealthily through the night — give it a uniquely otherworldly affect. The unusual style makes the wilderness seem all the more magical and precious. (For another perspective on the natural world, watch the docu-series “Our Planet,” which emphasizes the effects of human progress and climate change on the animal kingdom.)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Melissa Moseley/Netflix‘Grace and Frankie’ (2015-present)One of Netflix’s longest-running series, “Grace and Frankie” features two show-business veterans, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, playing a couple of very different California women who move in together after their husbands (played by Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen) reveal they’ve been gay lovers for decades. The show is both mainstream and risqué — like an adult version of the sitcoms the co-creator Marta Kauffman worked on in the 1990s when she helped bring “Friends” to the screen. Our critic praised the lead performances, saying that Fonda and Tomlin “pull this comedy about 70-somethings back from the brink of ridicule.” (For another lively sitcom about underdog women, watch “GLOW.”)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Byron Cohen/NBC‘The Office’ (2005-13)The American version of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s satirical mockumentary series “The Office” softens some of the original’s bite, but is still a funny and at-times harrowing look at the everyday miseries of white-collar work. When it debuted, our critic called it “the kind of seditious, unconventional comedy that viewers say they want and that television executives insist could never draw a broad enough audience to be a network success.” Viewers proved those execs wrong, though; the American remake ran for nine seasons. (Netflix doesn’t currently carry the British “Office,” but it does have Gervais’s and Merchant’s very funny follow-up, “Extras.”)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Hat Trick Productions‘Derry Girls’ (2018-present)The Northern Irish playwright Lisa McGee pulls some bawdy coming-of-age comedy out of her own experience of growing up in Londonderry in the early ’90s, during a time of intense sectarian violence between Catholics and Protestants. A cast of very funny young women bring zany energy to McGee’s rapid-fire dialogue and fast-paced stories, which are more about typical teenage high jinks than about bombings and riots. Our critic said the show “revels in the humor of specificity, the kind of exacting precision that somehow winds up feeling universal.” (For another lively take on unconventional women, stream the medical melodrama “Call the Midwife,” set in ’50s and ’60s London.)Watch it on Netflix.‘Stranger Things’ (2016-present)The first season of the retro science-fiction series “Stranger Things” arrived with little hype and quickly became a word-of-mouth sensation: Viewers were enchanted by its pastiche of John Carpenter, Steven Spielberg, Stephen King and John Hughes — all scored to ’80s pop. This story of geeky Indiana teenagers fighting off an invasion of extra-dimensional creatures from “the Upside-Down” has the look and feel of a big summer blockbuster from 30 years ago — “a tasty trip back to that decade and the art of eeriness,” our critic noted, but “without excess.” (If you prefer ’90s teen nostalgia, try “Everything Sucks.”)Watch it on Netflix.‘I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson’ (2019-present)The former “Saturday Night Live” and “Detroiters” writer and performer Tim Robinson created (with Zach Kanin) this fast-paced and funny sketch series, which is steeped in the comedy of obnoxiousness. Nearly every segment is about how people react when someone in their immediate vicinity behaves rudely or strangely — an astute depiction of how social mores sometimes fail us. More than anything, though, this show is just hilarious: “Netflix’s first great sketch comedy,” Jason Zinoman wrote for The Times. (For more twisted humor from a comedian with a strong personality, watch “Lady Dynamite.”)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Ray Mickshaw/FX‘American Crime Story’ (2016-present)Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, who created “Glee” and “American Horror Story,” bring dramatic verve to real-life celebrity murder stories in this anthology crime series, working with a team of talented collaborators. Season 1, “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” and Season 2, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” both feature unconventional narrative structures and star-studded casts; and offer fresh insight into well-known crimes. About “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” our critic wrote, “Its triumph is to take a case that divided the nation into teams and treat everyone, vulture or victim, with curiosity and empathy.” (For a more down-to-earth take on American crime, watch the equally superb “American Crime.”)Watch it on Netflix.‘Russian Doll’ (2019-present)The most obvious point of comparison for this oddball science-fiction dramedy is the movie “Groundhog Day,” since “Russian Doll” is also about a character who must relive the same day, over and over. Here, the trapped person is a sad-sack software engineer named Nadia (played by Natasha Lyonne, who also created the show with Leslye Headland and Amy Poehler); on the night of her 36th birthday, Nadia keeps dying and rebooting — like a video game character. Our critic wrote, “This is a show with a big heart, but a nicotine-stained heart that’s been dropped in the gutter and kicked around a few times.” (For more mind-bending TV, Netflix is also streaming the first two seasons of “Twin Peaks.”)Watch it on Netflix.‘BoJack Horseman’ (2014-20)It’s hard to explain “BoJack Horseman” to the uninitiated. It’s a showbiz satire about a self-absorbed former TV star trying to mount a comeback. It’s an existential melodrama about the fear of fading relevancy. Oh, and it’s a cartoon in which that former star is an alcoholic horse. Our critic wrote, “The absurdist comedy and hallucinatory visuals match the series’s take on Hollywood as a reality-distortion field. But the series never takes an attitude of easy superiority to its showbiz characters.” (One of the “BoJack” production designers, the cartoonist Lisa Hanawalt, also created the wonderful Netflix animated series “Tuca & Bertie.”)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Tina Rowden/AMC‘Halt and Catch Fire’ (2014-17)This thoughtful drama depicts the early years of the digital age, starting in the mid-80s, when personal computers and the internet became an integral part of our everyday lives. “Halt and Catch Fire” empathizes more than glamorizes, following the punishing step-by-step of four visionary engineers and programmers — sometimes partners, sometimes rivals — as they try (and often fail) to get their projects funded and shipped: “Failure,” our critic wrote, “from this show’s perspective, is not the end; it’s how people level up.” (For a different take on techies, stream the British sitcom “The IT Crowd.”)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Barbara Nitke/Netflix‘Orange Is the New Black’ (2013-19)Based on Piper Kerman’s memoir about serving time in a minimum security women’s prison, “Orange Is the New Black” showcases an eclectic cast, representing a wide spectrum of social classes and sexual orientations in alternately comic and poignant stories about crime, passion and privilege. The show was created by Jenji Kohan, who, as our critic wrote, “plays with our expectations by taking milieus usually associated with violence and heavy drama — drug dealing, prison life — and making them the subjects of lightly satirical dramedy.” (Kohan previously did the same with her series “Weeds.”)Watch it on Netflix.ImageCredit...Kevin Estrada/CW‘Jane the Virgin’ (2014-19)This spoof of the Latin American soap operas known as telenovelas also wholeheartedly embraces their shtick. “Jane the Virgin” starts out as the story of an aspiring writer, accidentally impregnated through an artificial insemination mix-up. The show then gets wilder, with at least one crazy plot twist per episode — all described with breathless excitement by an omnipresent, self-aware narrator. Our critic called it “delicious and dizzyingly arch.” (For another colorful, conceptually daring look at working class folks with artistic aspirations, stream “The Get Down.”)Watch it on Netflix.

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Maybe you’re feeling nostalgic for a classic James Bond film following Sean Connery’s death in late October. Or perhaps you’re simply feeling a gap given that the next film, No Time to Die, got pushed back to April 2021 or beyond. Either way, you can now binge a sizable selection of the James Bond collection completely for free (with ads) from YouTube, Peacock (with its free subscription), and PlutoTV.(Disclosure: Comcast, which owns Peacock parent NBCUniversal, is also an investor in Vox Media, The Verge’s parent company.)Not every provider has every film, and a few aren’t on streaming services at all: you’ll need to rent Skyfall and Spectre if you care to watch those again. It’s also not clear how long these films will be free to stream.But every Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and George Lazenby Bond film is represented here for now, and the first couple of Daniel Craig flicks as well. I’ve bolded the ones you can find on YouTube that you can’t find on Peacock and vice versa. PlutoTV has all of the below, save Quantum of Solace. You can also find most of the films on Hulu and Amazon Prime this month, though you’d have to pay for those subscriptions, and Netflix has Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, and three Pierce Brosnan flicks including GoldenEye — newly relevant now that the famed Arecibo Observatory, which gets destroyed in the film, has also collapsed in real life.YouTube, 20 films

Dr. NoFrom Russia with LoveGoldfingerThunderballYou Only Live TwiceOn Her Majesty’s Secret ServiceDiamonds Are ForeverNever Say Never AgainLive and Let DieThe Man with the Golden GunThe Spy who Loved MeMoonrakerFor Your Eyes OnlyOctopussyA View to a KillThe Living DaylightsLicence to KillGoldenEyeTomorrow Never DiesThe World is Not Enough


Peacock: 12 films

From Russia with LoveGoldfingerYou Only Live TwiceDiamonds Are ForeverThe Man with the Golden GunOctopussyLicence to KillGoldenEyeTomorrow Never DiesThe World is Not EnoughCasino RoyaleQuantum of Solace

I highly recommend The Living Daylights with Timothy Dalton. It’s underrated, and its car chase scene has yet to be beat. Did I mention I got to see a lot of the real Bond cars and took photos of them back in 2015?


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WASHINGTON – The campaign of President Donald Trump was so focused on not overspending that it turned down a $3 million request to help get out the vote in Georgia, and it appears to have headed into election night with tens of millions of dollars left unspent in the bank.“Trying not to win, I guess,” said one top Republican fundraiser who spoke to HuffPost on condition of anonymity. The fundraiser added that campaign manager Bill Stepien turned down spending extra money in Georgia, believing Trump would win there comfortably, and seemed overly concerned about the budget. “Bill was hellbent to not wind up in debt, but what the fuck?”Trump wound up losing Georgia by 12,000 votes to Democrat Joe Biden, now the president-elect. It was the first time since 1992 that a Democratic presidential candidate won the state.The Trump campaign denied it left money unspent. “We didn’t have millions of uncommitted dollars in the bank on Election Day, and anyone who says otherwise has no idea what the situation was,” deputy campaign manager Justin Clark said. “Every dollar we had was matched to an outstanding expense.”Stepien, meanwhile, called the allegation he rejected the get-out-the-vote request “false,” and another top campaign official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said no such request was made.“Door-knocking funding is generally [a Republican National Committee] expenditure, not the campaign. But when the RNC asked for assistance for that kind of thing, the campaign agreed every time. The RNC never communicated to the campaign that there was a request for Georgia door-knocking money,” the official said.Determining precisely when money was available to the campaign is impossible using Federal Election Commission filings because so much of Trump’s money came from small-dollar donors. Their contributions are listed in the aggregate and not broken out by amount and date until a donor’s cumulative total reaches a $200 threshold.But a HuffPost review of itemized donations to the Trump campaign and the Trump Make America Great Again Committee — the two entities that collected the most small-dollar donations for Trump’s reelection — in the latest FEC filings Thursday showed that the majority of them were made on or before Nov. 3.That means a large chunk of the money the Trump operation has in the bank now, and which the campaign points to as proof of Trump’s continued hold on the Republican voting base, actually came in before the election.Of the 524,023 small-dollar donations recorded by the Trump campaign between Oct. 15 and Nov. 23, only 182,938 — 35% ― came in after Election Day. And of the 928,981 contributions to Trump MAGA, 447,014, or 48%, came in after Nov. 3.Those two committees accounted for $109 million of the $119 million held by Trump’s three fundraising entities as of Nov. 23. The Republican National Committee had an additional $59 million.It’s unclear why the Trump campaign would leave any money unspent, particularly since polls showed that the president was likely to lose.“We raise the money to spend the money,” said Jennifer Horn, a former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party and a Trump critic. “There’s no heroism to having the money in the bank after the election if you lose.”One possible explanation may be Trump himself. Although federal law does not permit candidates to use leftover campaign money for their personal use, that is not Trump’s understanding of it.Trump was infuriated in 2016 when he learned that he was obliged under the law to set up a transition office and pay employees to prepare for a possible victory, even though he could use campaign funds for that purpose. “He saw it as his money,” one top aide on that earlier run told HuffPost on condition of anonymity.The Trump campaign boasted in a press release Thursday evening that $207.5 million had been raised across the various Trump committees and the RNC since Nov. 3, but declined to reveal how much of that had been raised after Nov. 23, the closing date for the latest FEC filings.Trump’s campaign has aggressively solicited money from its small-donor list in recent weeks, with multiple emails and text messages per day.Of the resulting donations, 75% of the first $6,667 goes to Trump’s “Save America” committee. And because it was created last month as a so-called “leadership” PAC, rather than a campaign committee, Trump can use the money pretty much however he wants — including for personal expenses such as travel and meals and even a salary for himself. Or even to make hush money payments.


















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Media|The Hartford Courant’s newsroom is closing down.Dec. 4, 2020, 5:01 p.m. ETDec. 4, 2020, 5:01 p.m. ETBy Credit...Charles Krupa/Associated PressThe Hartford Courant, the Connecticut newspaper that has been in print since 1764, when it chronicled the locals’ dissatisfaction with British rule, is the latest daily that will try to cover the news without a newsroom.Tribune Publishing, the company that owns the paper, told employees on Friday that it would “close our Broad Street office, with no plan to find us a new one,” the Hartford Courant Guild, which represents editorial employees, said in a Twitter post.Andrew Julien, the Courant’s publisher and editor in chief, said in an email to staff members that the closing of the physical newsroom was “a decision about real estate needs amid a difficult and challenging time on both the public health and economic fronts.”Journalists will continue to do their work remotely, he added.“It won’t change the essence of what we do: Delivering the high-impact journalism readers have come to expect from the Courant and crafting creative solutions that meet the needs of our advertising partners,” Mr. Julien wrote.Tribune said in a statement that the newsroom would close on Dec. 27.“Out of an abundance of caution, we do not anticipate having employees that can work remotely coming back into the office at the Hartford Courant for the remainder of the year and into 2021,” the statement said.It continued: “As we progress through the pandemic and as needs change, we will reconsider our need for physical offices. We will keep employees informed of decisions as they are made.”Tribune Publishing, which is part-owned by the hedge firm Alden Global Capital, has shuttered a number of its newspapers’ offices over the last few months, with the great majority of its employees working remotely as the death toll associated with the coronavirus pandemic continues to climb.In August, the company closed the Lower Manhattan offices of The New York Daily News, which was once the largest circulation newspaper in the country. It also shut down the newsrooms of The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa.; The Orlando Sentinel; The Carroll County Times in Westminster, Md.; and The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md. A Chicago Tribune office for suburban publications in Aurora, Ill., was also closed.Alex Putterman, a Hartford Courant reporter and member of the guild, said that staff members were told on Friday that they would have to pick up their belongings before the office shut down for good. He said the staff had been working remotely since March, when the pandemic first took hold in the United States in the early months of the year.“It really hit hard,” he said in an interview. “We’ve been in that office for decades. We all value having the physical space, we value each other’s company. We had all been hoping we’d be able to return there after the pandemic and this is a big blow.”“For all we know at this moment,” he continued, “the plan is for us to be remote forever.”

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The coronavirus vaccine will have only a marginal impact on hospital admissions over the next three months with the festive season likely to put additional pressure on health services, the UK’s chief medical officers have warned.In a letter to healthcare staff sent on Friday, the CMOs for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland said the effects of vaccination would likely be felt by spring but workers should brace themselves for an “especially hard” winter.They wrote: “Although the very welcome news about vaccines means that we can look forward to 2021 with greater optimism, vaccine deployment will have only a marginal impact in reducing numbers coming into the health service with Covid over the next three months … The social mixing which occurs around Christmas may well put additional pressure on hospitals and general practice in the New Year and we need to be ready for that.”The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Wednesday, meaning the UK is the first country in the world to have an approved vaccine.The vaccines are expected to be administered in England for the first time on Tuesday after they have been distributed to hospital hubs. Northern Ireland has also said it is on track to begin immunisations next week.Hospitals will begin by immunising care home staff, and hospital inpatients and outpatients aged over 80. Care home residents, who are in the highest priority category, pose a more difficult logistical challenge. At one point NHS staff were mooted to be the first to receive the vaccine but the letter states: “All healthcare workers would agree that the principal aim of the initial vaccination programme should be to protect the most vulnerable and those at highest risk of mortality.”It also points out that while the vaccine can prevent disease symptoms, there is a lack of firm data as to their effects on transmission of the virus. “It is going to be essential that people continue to maintain current PPE (personal protective equipment) and other measures to reduce transmission even after vaccination as we accumulate that data,” they say.Expressing admiration at the continued efforts of healthcare staff, the authors also encourage them to take part in trials, echoing Friday’s warning by Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization’s top emergency expert, that “vaccines do not equal zero Covid”.“We do not expect Covid to disappear even once full vaccination has occurred although it will be substantially less important as a cause of mortality and morbidity. It is therefore absolutely essential that we use the next months to learn as much as we can as we expect Covid to be less common in the future,” they said.“This will allow us to have the best chance of a strong evidence base for managing it over the coming years. We would therefore strongly encourage colleagues to continue to recruit or to participate in drug trials such as Recovery, vaccine trials, and observational studies such as Siren. We will all be very grateful for the results this will lead to in future years.”The chief medical officers said that lockdowns and other restrictions had helped reduce the peak and that in most areas of the UK hospital numbers were likely to fall over the next few weeks. But they warned that this would not happen everywhere and that the relaxation of restrictions over Christmas could change the outlook.

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When I was a kid, the sin of returning books late to the public library populated a category of dread for me next to weekly confessions to the Catholic priest (what can an 8-year-old really have to confess?) and getting caught by the dentist with a tootsie roll wrapper sticking out of my pocket. So decades later, when I heard about libraries going “fine-free,” it sounded like an overdue change and a nice idea.Collecting fines for overdue books has been going on for over a century, originally seen as a source of revenue and as an incentive for people to behave responsibly and actually return borrowed books. Then, as early as the 1970s, research and experiments with going fine-free began to pick up steam. But as recently as four years ago, over 90 percent of libraries in the U.S. were still charging small change for late returns.A Seinfeld episode from 2009, called The Library Cop, seems at once timely and untimely. This is Seinfeld; it will make you laugh.Missions, Policies, Changes:The last five years have been very busy in the world of overdue fines. In what has been the “Fine-Free Movement,” many librarians have begun to question the traditional policy of overdue fines, and attitudes have begun to change. Are fines consistent with a fundamental mission of libraries: to serve the public with information and knowledge? And to address that mission equitably across the diverse population of rich and poor library users?A 2016 Colorado State Library system report showed that eliminating overdue fines removed barriers to access for children. While some people only notice fines as an irritation, others feel the weight heavily enough to be driven away from the library.In 2017, a Library Journal poll of 450 libraries found that over 34 percent considered eliminating at least some fines.In 2018, a poll of Urban Libraries Council (ULC) member libraries found that the most common reason (54 percent, dwarfing all others) responding libraries had gone fine-free was that eliminating fines increased access for low-income users and children.By late in 2018, several big-city public-library systems including San Diego, Nashville, Salt Lake City, Baltimore,  St. Paul, and Columbus, Ohio eliminated overdue fines.The powerful American Library Association, representing some 55,000 members, adopted “a resolution of monetary fines as a form of social inequity” at their midwinter meeting in 2019.In January, 2019, the city of San Francisco issued an extensively-researched and influential report called Long Overdue, on the impact of fines on the mission of libraries, and the costs of eliminating fines on libraries, users, and the city and county of San Francisco. The report ultimately recommended eliminating overdue fines throughout the public library system.When the pandemic closed libraries and made it hard or impossible for people to return books, many libraries revisited their policies on overdue fines. In Washington D.C., an early shorter-term amnesty experiment at the beginning of COVID-19 grew into a subsequent vote by the Public Library Board of Trustees to expand eliminating fines for only youth, to everyone.Experiments in fines, amnesties, alternatives:Libraries have been experimenting with lots of different ways to address fines for overdue books. Some stopped fining all patrons; others only children or youth; still others exempted active military and veterans from fines. Some forgive fines up to a certain dollar amount. Santa Barbara, California, follows one common practice—forgiving fines for a certain number of days (30 in this case) days, then charging for the cost of the book, which can be forgiven upon its return.Lost or damaged books are in a different category. The loss of a book is much more costly and cumbersome to a library than a late return, and libraries work out various ways to address that.When libraries offer popular amnesty periods for returning overdue books, the books often pour in like gushers. An amnesty program in Chicago brought in 20,000 overdue items; Los Angeles nearly 65,000; San Francisco just shy of  700,000. And a bonus: After the Chicago library went fine-free, thousands of users whose fees were forgiven returned to the library for new cards, and readers checked out more books overall than before.Other libraries found substitutes for monetary fines. In 2018, the public libraries in Fairfax County, Virginia, began a food-for-fines program, which collected 12,000 pounds of food to donate to a nonprofit food pantry. Each donated item accrued one dollar toward a maximum $15 fine forgiveness. In Queens, New York, the public library has a program for young people to “read down” their 10-cent per day fines. One half hour of reading earns one dollar in library bucks to pay off fines.Calculating costs of fines and the benefits of going fine-free:The 2017 Library Journal poll of about 450 libraries across the country estimated that nearly 12 million dollars in monthly library fines would be collected nationwide that year.In fact, loss of revenue takes different size bites from libraries’ budgets. Some seemed like nibbles. When the New Haven, Connecticut, public library went fine-free in July 2020, the sum of overdue fines was less than one-quarter of one percent of the library’s annual budget. In San Francisco, fines in FY 2017-18 represented 0.2 percent of the operating budget. In Schaumburg Township, Illinois, 0.25 percent of the annual budget. In Santa Barbara, 1 percent. The St. Paul, Minnesota, libraries found that they spent $250,000 to collect $215,000 in fines.But a late 2018 ULC poll of 160 of its members reported that one in five libraries that were considering eliminating fines named the biggest deterrent as financial. (Only larger was political reasons, at 34 percent.) The Long Overdue report found that fines disproportionately harmed library customers in low income areas and those with larger proportions of Black residents. While libraries in all areas “accrued fines at similar rates,” those located in areas of lower income and education and higher number of Blacks, have “higher average debt amounts and more blocked users.”As Curtis Rogers, the Communications Director of the Urban Libraries Council described the findings to me: “Overdue fines do not distinguish between people who are responsible and those who are not—they distinguish between people who have or do not have money.”Funding sources for libraries vary considerably. Some libraries enjoy a secure line item in a city or county budget. Others patch together a more fragile existence of fundraising, philanthropy, public bonds and levies, and other sources.Other factors have changed the landscape as well. The growth of e-book lending, which can automatically time out and incur no fines, have cut into overall fine revenue numbers somewhat.To make up for losses in revenues, libraries have come up with creative answers. For example: processing passport renewals; a “conscience jar” for overdue books; charging fees for replacing lost cards and for copying, scanning, and faxing; charging rent for community rooms or theaters; and general tightening of spending.The impact of fines should be measured in ways beyond cash revenues. Collecting fines and blocking accounts can be time-consuming, stressful, and unpleasant for librarians, and can cause general discomfort and even ill will in a community.I witnessed a small episode of the toll that fines can take on the strong currency of people’s trust and goodwill in libraries. During a summer visit a few years ago to the public library in an unnamed town in the middle of the country, I was hanging around the check-out-desk when I saw a man reach the front of the line to borrow a few books. The librarian told him that his card was blocked, and he needed to pay his fines before he could borrow the book. The man was part of the town’s sizable Spanish-speaking population, and he didn’t understand the librarian. She repeated her message, louder each time. A line was building at the check-out. Finally, the man went to fetch his elementary-school-age daughter to translate for him. It all ended badly: He was embarrassed, the daughter was embarrassed. Others like me who witnessed the exchange were embarrassed. The man left without borrowing the books. The librarian was stuck behind non-transparent rules, although I have seen more gracious handling of such situations.In 2016, the Orange Beach, Alabama,  public libraries swapped overdue fines with voluntary donations, which they soon dropped as well. Steven Gillis, the director of the public library, wrote that the overall goodwill the library earned in the community with their new fine-free policy had leveraged into increased municipal funding from a sympathetic and appreciative city council.The Long Overdue report also found that eliminating fines increased general good will between users and staff, and also increased the numbers of users and the circulation of books. They saw no increases in late book returns.                                                     *      *      *In 2018, a young research fellow at the Urban Libraries Council (ULC), Nikolas Michael, set out to tell the story of libraries going fine-free by creating an interactive map, which has since become one of ULC’s most used resources.Here is the map and how it works:View larger map | Provided courtesy of the Urban Libraries CouncilEach arrow on the map represents a library that ULC has logged to tell its story of going fine-free. The gold arrows are ULC member libraries; silver are non-member libraries.The map is interactive; click on an arrow and you’ll see some of the why’s, wherefore’s, and impact of the change on a particular library. The map updates with each additional entry.Curtis Rogers, from ULC, and Betsey Suchanic, a program manager there, described on a Zoom call the background and impact the map has made on telling the story and building a movement.The map helps libraries make well-informed decisions, as they use it for research and evidence to weigh the pros and cons of going fine-free.In Philadelphia, Councilwoman Cherelle Parker called for a hearing to explore eliminating fines at the Free Library of Philadelphia. She directly referenced the ULC map of fine-free libraries as evidence. ULC submitted written testimony for the subsequent hearing, which happened about six weeks ago.The map and ULC’s other reporting on the fine-free movement contribute to larger-context conversations—for example, on the topic of the pros and cons of other kinds of municipal fines, like parking tickets.The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County just went fine-free, and they used the map specifically to make their case to their board. You can see the map on page 8 of the library’s PowerPoint presentation.                                                *     *     *America’s current national focus on issues of racial, economic, educational, health, and environmental equity, and on policing and justice, has a way of reaching a sound-bite ending in media segments or conference panel wrap-ups. It goes something like this: “We need to have a national conversation about …”Public libraries, which are in business to be responsive to public needs and wants, are a model for moving beyond conversations to action. For example, public libraries open their doors to homeless people, they feed hungry children in after-school programs, they offer free wifi access for people and places (especially rural) where it is hard to come by, and in increasing numbers, they find ways to forego monetary fines. These actions shore up in a tangible way a major mission of public libraries: to provide equal access to information and knowledge for all citizens.

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Work permits and caps on foreign players start on 1 January‘I am still waiting for the first advantage of Brexit,’ manager says
















































Jürgen Klopp during Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at Brighton; he believes English talent is thriving because players are trainng alongside some of the best youngsters in Europe.Photograph: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC/Getty Images



Jürgen Klopp said he is still waiting for the first benefit of Brexit following the Football Association’s announcement of its ramifications for English football.The FA, in conjunction with the Premier League and EFL, confirmed this week that English clubs cannot sign foreign players until they are 18, or more than three overseas players under 21 in a single transfer window once the UK leaves the EU on 1 January. Other rules include work permits, allocated on a points-based system, for all transfers from EU nations.Klopp, a long-time Brexit critic, believes the Home Office would have enforced greater restrictions but for resistance from many within the game, and he considers the transfer rules another example of Brexit’s negative impact.

The Liverpool manager said: “Michael Edwards [Liverpool’s sporting director] was involved in a lot of these discussions and the clubs fought pretty hard for a solution – kind of a good solution or as good as possible. Without the discussions it would have been worse. I am still waiting for the first advantage of Brexit that someone can tell me. What really improves after Brexit? It’s obviously not my thing to judge, but as an interested person I just wait until the first really positive impact of Brexit. Maybe I didn’t read it because I’m too much in football, but I don’t remember a lot, to be honest.”The Governing Body Endorsement plan is designed to promote more homegrown talent in the English game. Klopp, however, believes English talent is thriving because players can train alongside some of the best youngsters in Europe, an opportunity that will be lost post-Brexit.“People – the FA or whoever – want to make sure that the clubs don’t sign too many players from other countries because they are afraid that not enough English talents will make their way. But if you look at the English youth national teams at the moment they are in the top two or three – if not the top – in nearly all age groups; talent-wise they are 100%, and that is with the way we did it before.“So let’s think about why that happened. They had a lot of players around them that played good football as well. It’s helpful. We cannot just create more talents because we deny other talents. But, as I say, it’s not my thing to judge. It’s just one of the smaller problems which we will all be aware of when Brexit is finally there.”Trent Alexander-Arnold returned to training on Friday having missed the past four weeks with the injury picked up at Manchester City. He could be involved in Sunday’s game against Wolves.



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I can smell this bar. Screenshot: Dontnod / KotakuTwin Mirror, the latest game from Life is Strange developer Dontnod, is a dark psychological thriller set in a podunk mining town. Like many a small town, the best thing about the fictional Basswood, West Virginia is the grungy old Pac-Man machine in the back of the local dive bar.I wasn’t expecting the Pac-Man machine—which first shows up as a memory in protagonist Sam Higgs’ “Mind Palace,”—to be an actual playable video game. I figured it was just some nostalgic set dressing displaying a video loop of Pac-Man’s attract mode. Perhaps it was a nod to Dontnod’s partner, Bandai Namco Entertainment, owner of Pac-Man, his wife, and his child. It’s even got the naming of the ghosts bit. Screenshot: Dontnod / KotakuSam ends up in the bar attempting to piece together a bar fight which occured the previous evening. During the investigation sequence, I approached the machine and was prompted, to my surprise and delight, to play the smoke-stained, age-faded classic.Not going to win any records. Screenshot: Dontnod / KotakuG/O Media may get a commissionThe screen zooms in on the cabinet’s display, and boom, Sam Higgs is playing Pac-Man instead of trying to figure out why he woke up in a hotel room an hour earlier with his shirt soaked in someone else’s blood. That’s just the sort of small-town intrigue games like Pac-Man were designed to take our mind off of. Within moments I had almost completely forgotten about the guy I’d later find dead on the floor of the local newspaper’s office...an office with telling decorations on the wall.This Pac-Man is about to be murdered. Screenshot: Dontnod / KotakuTwin Mirror is not a game about Pac-Man. It’s about reporter Sam Higgs returning to Basswood after years of self-exile to deal with the death of a good friend. Years ago Higgs wrote an expose about the town’s mine, leading to many of the locals blaming him for the mine’s closure and the loss of their livelihood. It’s a tense backdrop for a murder mystery that only Higgs, with his keen analytical mind and his helpful imaginary friend, The Double, can possibly solve. Just thinking about the drama makes me want to go play a mindless arcade game.I would credit Dotnod’s keen attention to detail for the Pac-Man inclusion, but I’m pretty sure Bandai Namco played a big part. Plus, as competent as the developers are, they think this thing is a buttermilk biscuit: Buttermilk muffins, maybe. Sheesh. Screenshot: Dontnod / KotakuEither way, the Pac-Man machine is a great touch. There’s something about playing an arcade machine in a first-person, slightly angled view that gets my nostalgia gland going something fierce. Eventually I’ll solve the great mystery of Twin Mirror. For now, wakka wakka.

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With the vaccine rollout and a potential Brexit deal looming, his government has a chance to wash away its reputation for chaos and mismanagement.Credit...Henry Nicholls/ReutersDec. 4, 2020Updated 5:22 p.m. ETLONDON — Britain’s approval of a coronavirus vaccine this week, beating every other Western country, would be a political gift for any leader. But perhaps none needs it as much as Prime Minister Boris Johnson.A successful vaccine rollout could be the last chance for Mr. Johnson’s government to show competence, after botching virtually every other step of its response to the pandemic, from tardy lockdowns to a costly, ineffective test-and-trace program — all of which contributed to the country having the highest death toll in Europe.It also comes just as Britain has reached a climactic stage in its long negotiations with the European Union for a post-Brexit trading relationship. Allies of Mr. Johnson were quick to claim that the swift approval of the vaccine vindicated the Brexit project.That claim was quickly debunked. Nevertheless, the mass vaccination program will be an early test of how well Britain works once it is fully untethered from Europe.“The British government is looking for ways to claim a victory because they’ve made such a bloody mess of the epidemic,” said David King, a former chief scientific adviser to the government who has become a vocal critic of its performance. “The nationalistic response is brutish and rather distasteful.”Still, it is difficult to separate politics from public health. As the first vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine rolled into Britain in refrigerated trucks from Belgium this week, negotiators in London were in the last stages of trying to stitch together a long-term, E.U.-British trade agreement. The talks were paused on Friday evening, amid signs that a breakthrough would require personal intervention by Mr. Johnson.ImageCredit...Ksenia Kuleshova for The New York TimesThe pandemic has raised the pressure on him to strike a deal, since a failure could deepen the economic damage caused by multiple lockdowns. Yet the convergence of events could also be fortuitous, allowing the beleaguered prime minister to resolve an issue that has divided Britain for more than four years at the very moment that relief finally begins to arrive for a country ravaged by the virus.Pro-Brexit politicians struck a bluntly nationalistic chord, saying Britain’s early approval of the vaccine was the first of many triumphs — though for all the fanfare, it may be only days ahead of U.S. authorization and a few weeks ahead of the European Union.The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, said Britain moved faster than its neighbors because “we’re a much better country than every single one of them.” The leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said European regulators were “a bit sniffy” that they had not yet managed to approve it.“We have, we’re leaving, draw your own conclusions,” he declared. “We are now free of the dead hand of the European Union.”In fact, the swift approval of the Pfizer vaccine was not enabled by Brexit. Although Britain formally left the European Union last January, it continues to adhere to the bloc’s regulations until a transition period expires on Dec. 31.The British health regulator invoked an emergency power, available to all European Union members, to move faster in the case of a pandemic.Still, the optics of Britain striking out on its own, ahead of France and Germany, are appealing because they play into the pro-Brexit argument that a Britain unshackled from Brussels will be more agile and flexible, able to act as a free agent in the global market for everything from vaccines to ventilators.“No one is very proud of our record on the pandemic,” said Jonathan Powell, a former chief of staff to Prime Minister Tony Blair. “But they believe we’re magically going to become a better country by being outside of Europe.”ImageCredit...Andrew Testa for The New York TimesIf anything, Mr. Powell said, the Pfizer vaccine was a testament to the value of pre-Brexit, cross-border collaboration: It was developed by Turkish-born scientists at a German biotechnology firm, produced by an American pharmaceutical company and manufactured in a plant in Belgium.Brexit has colored Mr. Johnson’s handling of the pandemic in ways obvious and subtle. Britain declined to join a multi-billion-dollar European Union vaccine purchasing fund and shunned a European consortium to buy ventilators. The latter decision provoked anxiety in the early days of the pandemic, when it looked as if hospitals might not have enough machines for their patients.In the end, the hospitals were able to cope with the demand. On Monday, Mr. Johnson boasted that Britain, acting on its own, was the first country to pre-order supplies of the Pfizer vaccine, securing 40 million doses. All told, it has ordered more than 350 million doses of seven vaccine candidates, hedging its bets in case some do not pan out.But Mr. Johnson diverged from other European leaders in waiting until late March to impose a lockdown. This fall, amid a second wave of the virus, he again moved more tentatively than leaders on the Continent, imposing a nationwide lockdown only in November. Critics say those delays cost lives; Britain’s death toll just surpassed 60,000.“While we were in lockdown, we appeared to do nothing about a test-trace-and-isolate system,” Professor King said. “We still don’t have a system that has anywhere near the capacity we need.”He and other experts expressed less concern about the British regulator’s rapid approval of the Pfizer vaccine. Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, they said, had a history of independence and a reputation across Europe for thoroughly vetting new drugs.They also expressed confidence that the vaccine will be distributed through Britain’s National Health Service, not by private contractors, like the companies involved in the trouble-prone test-and-trace system.ImageCredit...Andrew Testa for The New York TimesEven so, there are worries about how to distribute the vaccine, which needs to be stored at ultracold temperatures. Before the first injections, the government abruptly changed the priority for who would get the shot first, ruling out those in nursing homes in favor of nursing home staff and people 80 and over in hospitals or with appointments there.The government’s muddled messaging has damaged Mr. Johnson, not just with the public but also with members of his own Conservative Party. He had to fend off a rebellion among Conservatives in Parliament this week over tiered restrictions that replaced the nationwide lockdown lifted on Tuesday.Experts said they were hopeful that the arrival of a vaccine would leach some of the vitriol out of the debate over lockdowns. But the government’s messaging could be a weakness in winning broad public acceptance of the vaccine. In addition to anti-vaccination activists, experts said it would confront wariness from people who will question whether Britain rushed its approval.“They need to think about people who are saying, ‘Why is this being pushed so quickly?’” said Devi Sridhar, director of the global health program at the University of Edinburgh, who added she would take it “tomorrow, if I could.”Mr. Johnson named Nadhim Zahawi, a Conservative member of Parliament with a background in public-opinion research, to coordinate the deployment of the vaccine. Mr. Zahawi, who has a degree in chemical engineering, co-founded YouGov, an internet polling company, which he later sold.In YouGov’s polling on the vaccine — conducted last month after Pfizer reported positive results in clinical trials — two-thirds of those surveyed said they were “very likely” or “fairly likely” to take the vaccine when it becomes available. A fifth said they were unlikely to take it, while 12 percent said they were not sure.“You’re going to have to see social influencers or health care workers lining up to take it,” Professor Sridhar said.

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It’s hard to buy a gift for someone when you’re in the early stages of a relationship: You don’t want to overplay your hand with something super sentimental or exorbitantly priced, but you also want to get across how much you’re into them. It’s a careful balancing act. If you’re stumped on what to get the new-ish guy in your life, we’ve got you covered. Below, 24 gifts that are just right for the early stages of a relationship.Kidwell Fire Escape Wall ShelfThe Skin Deep Couples Edition Card GameGo deeper as a couple — and ask heavy-hitting relationship questions you might not otherwise — with this deck of cards meant to foster connection. Get it for $24.99.A "Child" Ice Mold SetEmbark Dog DNA TestThis Embark DNA test will give your favorite dog dad insights into his pup's breed, health, ancestry and more with just a quick swab of the cheek. Get it for $149 at Amazon.Yosemite Mod Dome Night TeeA Boob PuzzleFill those endless hours at home during lockdown celebrating the female form with this boob-filled puzzle. (And here's a penis puzzle, if that's more his preference.) Get it for $40 at Jiggy."The Flavor Equation: The Science Of Great Cooking Explained"If he geeks out on in the kitchen, get him this critically acclaimed cookbook by Nik Sharma, a James Beard-nominated author who's also a molecular scientist. Get it for $31.50 at Amazon.Theragun Mini Handheld Percussive Massage DeviceIf he's going hard working out at home, get him this mini (and much-cheaper) version of the cult-favorite massage gun for sore muscles and trigger points. Get it for $199.99 at Target.A Half Dozen Bagels From H&H Bagels With Cream Cheese And Nova Scotia Salmon If he's jonesing for an authentic New York bagel while housebound, treat him to some damn good bagels and lox. Get it for $69 at Goldbelly.Jason Markk Shoe Cleaning KitNice Laundry Customized Lounge ShortFor your "comfort is king" king. (Though TBH, these shorts are so nicely tailored and un-slouchy, you'll probably steal them.)Get it for $49 at Nice Laundry. LED Toilet Night LightBose Noise Cancelling Over-Ear Headphones 700Season 13 Hot Ones Trio PackTurn date night into a "Hot Ones" taste test with this trio from the latest season of the popular YouTube series. Get it for $42 at Heatonist.Recycled Cotton Cuffed BeanieVSSL Camp Supplies Waterproof Flashlight Make him the happiest camper with this multi-purpose flashlight. It includes pretty much anything he might need on the trail or while camping: a razor blade, trail marking tape, a water purification kit. Get it for $129 at Nordstrom.Chinatown Market X Smiley UO Exclusive UV Color-Changing BasketballRound Neck Cashmere SweaterThe Personal Barber Shaving Club BoxBreda Virgil WatchThis gold and black square-faced watch isn't just chic, it's nicely priced, too. Get it for $115 at Amazon.Continental 80 Vegan ShoesPhoneSoap Smartphone SanitizerA gift that screams 2020, this handy storage case is outfitted with germicidal UV-C bulbs that completely sanitize your phone. Get it for $80 at Uncommon Goods.MALIN+GOETZ Cannabis CandleNewsletter Sign UpA weekly guide to improving all of the relationships in your lifeSubscribe to HuffPost’s relationships email










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And you can read four new in-universe stories.



If you've been hoping for a fresh glimpse of BioWare's long-confirmed but still frustratingly elusive Dragon Age 4 (or whatever it might ultimately be called), you're in luck; EA says the game will get its "next reveal" during Thursday's The Game Awards.The news comes via an official press release circulated to celebrate Dragon Age Day, which BioWare has marked with the release of four new stories set in the Dragon Age universe. EA says the stories, written by members of the game's narrative team, will "help paint the picture for the future of Dragon Age, including some insight into the next reveal at The Game Awards".Those wishing to delve a little deeper and scour the four stories in the hope of unearthing clues of things to come can do so over on the official Dragon Age website. The stories in question are The Next One by Bryanna Battye, Ruins of Reality by John Dombrow, The Wake by Mary Kirby, and Minrathous Shadows by Sheryl Chee. The next Dragon Age: Behind the scenes at BioWare. The Game Awards, presented by Geoff Keighley (who reconfirmed the news of an imminent Dragon Age reveal on his Twitter page), take place next Thursday, 10th December, at 7pm ET - which is midnight for us UK folk on Friday, 11th December. It'll mark two years since Dragon Age 4's formal reveal at the Game Awards 2018, which took the form of a brisk teaser trailer.The merest wisp of new information emerged earlier this year when BioWare shared footage of several Dragon Age locations running on next-gen consoles, while another peek in August offered up the tiniest smidgeon of in-game footage.Next week's showing, whatever form it ultimately takes, will mark the first time the new Dragon Age game gets a public outing following the departure of the series' long-term executive producer Mark Darrah, who announced his retirement from BioWare yesterday, alongside that of studio general manager Casey Hudson.Christian Dailey, who will now lead the new Dragon Age project, shared a blog post earlier today, writing, "Mark is someone that I look up to and is a true BioWare legend. We all hope to make him proud as we look to deliver the best Dragon Age story yet".


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Former President Barack Obama urged Georgians to vote in upcoming runoff Senate races, saying the outcomes will “determine ultimately the course of the Biden presidency.” “You are now once again the center of our civic universe,” Obama told Georgia residents Friday during a virtual rally for Democratic Senate candidates Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.Both candidates are in high-stakes runoff races for seats that will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate for at least the next two years. In the runoff, set for Jan. 5, Warnock and Ossoff are running against Republican incumbent Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, respectively. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be working with a GOP majority in the Senate unless Democrats win both their races in Georgia.“I know something about the importance of the U.S. Senate,” Obama said. When he was in office, Republican lawmakers repeatedly sought to obstruct legislation key to his agenda, including on immigration reform and expanding access to health care. Obama also said he had been frustrated by many of his own supporters while in office, saying it seemed as if they felt like they didn’t need to do anything after the presidential election because “we got Barack there.” “This is not just about Georgia. This is about America, and this is about the world,” he said. “And it’s in your power to have an impact.” 






Obama said a Senate led by the GOP could obstruct attempts to “deal with the aftermath of the pandemic.”  The Democratic-led House passed a major coronavirus relief bill, the Heroes Act, in May, but it stalled in the Republican-led Senate. The pandemic has only worsened, with cases and deaths skyrocketing nationwide, but Congress hasn’t passed another relief package since the spring. This week, the U.S. hit two grim milestones: A record 100,000 Americans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, and the U.S. saw its highest single-day death toll from the virus, with over 2,800 people dying Wednesday. Former Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams, who also spoke during the virtual rally, thanked volunteers for knocking on doors and registering people to vote ahead of the runoff. The deadline for registering to vote for the January elections in Georgia is Dec. 7.“We did something no one expected: We turned Georgia blue,” Abrams said. Get-out-the-vote efforts from Abrams and other Black women have been widely credited with helping to flip the red state in last month’s presidential election. Obama similarly sent “a message from the nation that we sure are proud of Georgia.” “The vote is an expression that what each of us does matters,” Obama said, adding that Americans are too often given the message that they need to be wealthy to have power. “But the premise of our nation is all people have a voice, all people have power in a government of, by and for the people.”


















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Google’s workplace culture is yet again embroiled in controversy.AI ethics researcher Timnit Gebru — a well-respected pioneer in her field and one of the few Black women leaders in the industry — said earlier this week that Google fired her after blocking the publication of her research around bias in AI systems. Days before Gebru’s departure, she sent a scathing internal memo to her colleagues detailing how higher-ups at Google tried to squash her research. She also criticized her department for what she described as a continued lack of diversity among its staff.In her widely read internal email, which was published by Platformer, Gebru said the company was “silencing in the most fundamental way possible” and claimed that “your life gets worse when you start advocating for underrepresented people” at Google.After Gebru’s departure, Google’s head of AI research Jeff Dean sent a note to Gebru’s department on Thursday morning saying that, after internal review, her research paper did not meet the company’s standards for publishing. According to Gebru, the company also told her that her critical note to her coworkers was “inconsistent with the expectations of a Google manager.”A representative for Google declined to comment. Gebru did not respond to a request for comment.Gebru’s allegation of being pushed out of the powerful tech company under questionable circumstances is causing a stir in the tech and academic communities, with many prominent researchers, civil rights leaders, and Gebru’s Google AI colleagues speaking out publicly on Twitter in her defense. A petition to support her has already received signatures from more than 740 Google employees and over 1,000 academics, nonprofit leaders, and industry peers. Her departure is significant because it hits on broader tensions around racial diversity in Silicon Valley as well as whether or not academics have enough freedom to publish research, even if it’s controversial, while working at major companies that control the development of powerful technologies and have their own corporate interests to consider.

What led to Gebru’s departurePeople are still trying to unravel exactly what led to Gebru’s departure from Google. What we know is that Gebru and several of her colleagues were planning to present a research paper at a forthcoming academic conference about unintended consequences in natural language processing systems, which are the tools used in the field of computing to understand and automate the creation of written words and audio. Gebru and her colleagues’ research, according to the New York Times, “pinpointed flaws in a new breed of language technology, including a system built by Google that underpins the company’s search engine.” It also reportedly discussed the environmental consequences of large-scale computing systems used to power natural language processing programs.As part of Google’s process, Gebru submitted the paper to Google for internal review before it was published more broadly. Google determined that the paper was not up to its standards because it “ignored too much relevant research,” according to the memo Dean sent on Thursday. Dean also said in his memo that Google rejected Gebru’s paper for publication because she submitted it one day before its deadline for publication instead of the required two weeks.Gebru asked for further discussion with Google before retracting the paper, according to the Times. If Google couldn’t address her concerns, Gebru said she would resign from the company.Google told Gebru it couldn’t meet her conditions and the company was accepting her resignation immediately.It’s a standard process for a company like Google to review the research of its employees before it’s published outside it. But former colleagues and outside industry researchers defending Gebru questioned whether or not Google was arbitrarily enforcing its rules more strictly in this scenario.“It just seems odd that someone who has had books written about her, who is quoted and cited on a daily basis, would be let go because a paper wasn’t reviewed properly,” said Rumman Chowdhury, a data scientist who is the former head of Responsible AI at Accenture Applied Intelligence and has now launched her own company called Parity. Chowdhury has no affiliation with Google.The conflict and Gebru’s firing/resignation reflect a growing tension between researchers studying the ethics of AI and the major tech companies that employ them. It’s also another example of deep, ongoing issues dividing parts of Google’s workforce. On Wednesday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint that said Google had spied on its workers and likely violated labor laws when it fired two employee activists last year. After several years of turmoil in Google’s workforce over issues ranging from Google’s controversial plans to work with the US military to sexual harassment of its employees, the past several months had been relatively quiet. The company’s biggest public pressure came instead from antitrust legal scrutiny and Republican lawmakers’ unproven accusations that Google’s products display an anti-conservative bias. But Gebru’s case and the recent NLRB complaint show the company is still fighting internal battles. “What Timnit did was present some hard but important evaluations of how the company’s efforts are going with diversity and inclusion initiatives and how to course-correct on that,” said Laurence Berland, a former Google engineer who was fired after organizing his colleagues around worker issues and one of the employees contesting his dismissal with the NLRB. “It was passionate, but it wasn’t just non-constructive,” he said.Why Gebru’s departure matters In the relatively new and developing field of ethical AI, Gebru is not only a foundational researcher but a role model to many young academics. She’s also a leader of key groups like Black in AI, which are fostering more diversity in the largely white, male-dominated field of AI in the US. (While Google doesn’t break out its demographics specifically for its artificial intelligence research department, it does annually share its diversity numbers. Only 24.7 percent of its technical workforce are women, and 2.4 percent are Black, according to its 2020 Diversity & Inclusion report.) “Timnit is a pioneer. She is one of the founders of responsible and ethical artificial intelligence,” said Chowdhury. “Computer scientists and engineers enter the field because of her.”In 2018, Gebru and another researcher, Joy Buolamwini, published groundbreaking research showing facial recognition software identified darker-skinned people and women incorrectly at far higher rates than lighter-skinned people and men. Her work has contributed to a broader reckoning in the tech industry about the unintended consequences of AI that is trained on data sets that can marginalize minorities and women, reinforcing existing societal inequalities.Outside of Google, academics in the field of AI are concerned that Gebru’s firing could scare other researchers from publishing important research that may step on the toes of their employers.“It’s not clear to researchers how they’re going to continue doing this work in the industry,” said UC Berkeley computer science professor Moritz Hardt, who specializes in machine learning and has studied fairness in AI. “It’s a chilling moment, I would say.”


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Lawmakers continue to negotiate over what federal unemployment policy will look like, and what they decide will determine the level of financial suffering for millions of Americans this winter.The simplest question is whether to extend the current federal benefit programs for the long-term jobless and gig workers, who aren’t usually covered by state unemployment systems. If those programs are allowed to expire at the end of December, nearly 12 million beneficiaries will lose that income.The second question is whether to give the unemployed extra money. In March, Congress added $600 per week for both state and federal benefits recipients. But that lapsed at the end of July, and politicians are deciding what, if any, extra money to provide going forward.A bipartisan compromise proposal that’s gained momentum in Congress this week would preserve the federal benefits for the long-term jobless and gig workers for four more months while reviving the former supplement, though at $300 instead of $600. These benefits are part of a broader package that includes small business aid, money for state governments and a clampdown on coronavirus lawsuits.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suggested Friday that the package could be tacked onto a broader funding bill that Congress has to pass by Dec. 11 to prevent a partial government shutdown. The senators and representatives who worked on the benefits deal over Thanksgiving have not introduced it as legislation or even summarized it in any detail. They simply announced Tuesday that they had agreed on overall numbers for categories of relief, with the unemployment provisions coming in at $180 billion. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said that figure accounts for 18 weeks of the federal unemployment programs plus the extra $300. “That includes gig workers and people that basically we covered under the first CARES Act,” Manchin said. The Congressional Budget Office has not scored the proposal, but Marc Goldwein, an expert with the nonprofit Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said that number sounded “about right.”






Still, there are trickier questions that Congress may wish to address. In the past, when the legislature has reauthorized a federal unemployment benefit that it previously allowed to lapse, beneficiaries received lump-sum payments accounting for the missed weeks. Manchin said this proposal would be retroactive only to the first of December. And the proposal apparently leaves out more support for people who have been unemployed so long that they will soon or have already run out of the standard six months of state benefits plus the three months of extra federal benefits. In response to the last economic crisis ― the Great Recession of 2007-2009 ― the combination of state benefits and ad-hoc federal extensions added up to nearly two years of aid. The number of workers currently unemployed for at least six months ― the threshold for being considered “long-term unemployed” ― has risen sharply to 3.9 million, or 36.9% of the unemployed population, the Labor Department reported on Friday. Many of these workers are people whose past jobs either can’t or shouldn’t exist with a highly contagious and deadly virus going around.Senate Democrats are pushing for extra weeks and have said that, instead of having an arbitrary deadline, federal benefits should remain in place so long as the unemployment rate exceeds 5.5%. It’s currently 6.7% and has been falling, though job growth has slowed and the rate could rise again in the coming months. “Around 4.4 million workers will have already run out of benefits by the end of the year, regardless of their surrounding economic situation, and millions more will exhaust them next year if Congress does not add additional weeks of eligibility” to federal programs, a group of Senate Democrats led by Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in a letter to Senate leadership this week. “Many workers need additional weeks of eligibility in these programs because demand for their services or industry has cratered during the pandemic,” the letter said.Many unemployed workers are closely following the developments on Capitol Hill. Wendy Dean of Naples, Florida, receives $494 every two weeks from one of the federal programs that’s expiring this month.Dean lost her job as a dental assistant in March and she can’t take a new job if it’s not safe. She has lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, meaning she’s at high risk for severe illness if she catches COVID-19.The 48-year-old has obsessively followed news of another possible relief deal as she searches for a new place to live with her teenage daughters, since their landlord wants them out. For months, lawmakers have said a deal is within easy reach if only the other side would drop its foolish demands. Dean has given up hope of receiving significant back benefits, but an extra $300 per week would help a lot ― if it happens. “It’s like teasing your kid you’re going to take them to Disney World,” she said. Dean noted that she and her daughters used to have annual passes to Disney World. Not anymore. She said she accidentally dropped an egg carton last week and broke down in tears. “I got really upset over $2.50,” she said. “I have this black cloud over me.”















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With salons largely closed until this week, male grooming has been in freefall since the start of the spring lockdown. DIY haircuts have not been successful for all. Yet one Hollywood star has proved that even in a global pandemic, bad hair is not the great equaliser we hoped it would be.George Clooney, the 59-year-old award-winning actor and human rights activist, has admitted to successfully cutting his own hair at home using a device called a Flowbee. “My hair’s really like straw, so it’s easy,” he told CBS Sunday Morning.According to Clooney, twice voted People magazine’s sexiest man alive, the $139.95 (£103) contraption is so reliable he has been using it for more than 22 years – and not simply during 2020. “My haircuts take literally two minutes,” he said, adding that its speed and efficiency had afforded him time to stain the garage doors, mop the floors and do much of the family’s washing during lockdown in their Los Angeles home.The Flowbee was a defining product of the 1980s infomercial boom in the US. It was invented in 1988 by Rick Hunts, a San Diego carpenter who was moved to invent the product after using his industrial vacuum cleaner to suck sawdust out of his hair. Hunts initially created and sold the gadget from his garage. But it was live demonstrations at a local county fair that edged him towards success, before global fame soon beckoned him, in the form of late-night TV demonstrations. By 2010, more than 2 million Americans had bought one.In effect a pair of clippers with different length “spacers” and a suction tube, its longevity is partly down to theatrics – according to various online tutorials, an “up and down bouncing motion is best” – as well as positioning within popular culture. The Flowbee appeared in the cult 90s sitcoms Party of Five and Home Improvement, and was one of the many products parodied in the film Wayne’s World, where it was misnamed the ‘suck cut’. It helps too that the product is almost too ludicrous to forget.Google searches for Flowbee took off following Clooney’s weekend admission and the Flowbee website itself crashed. But while his endorsement will no doubt lend invaluable celebrity cachet to the brand’s image, largely unchanged since the 1980s, the Clooney effect is not in fact responsible for the product’s pandemic-era success.As early as mid-March, the Flowbee had sold out on Walmart’s website and on Amazon. It is not available in the UK and, according to Fortune magazine, Amazon says it doesn’t know when the item will be back in stock. The UK saw a similar story when in April, John Lewis experienced a 200% increase in demand for clippers, and grooming tools from Philips and Remington sold out. All those products are, however, now available. According to its website, the Flowbee is not. Hunts, who demonstrates the model himself on the website, was not available for comment.

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Paris, FranceA protester stands next to burning cars with a placard that reads ‘our blood is boiling’ as thousands demonstrate against the French government’s global security law that would restrict sharing images of police. Civil liberties groups and journalists are concerned that the measure will stymie press freedoms and allow police brutality to go undiscovered and unpunished. The cause has gained fresh impetus in recent days after footage emerged of French police officers beating up a Black man, triggering a nationwide outcry.Photograph: Kiran Ridley/Getty Images



































Bangkok, ThailandPro-democracy protesters sit on rubber ducks during a rally in Bangkok. The demonstrators held the rally at the Ladprao intersection as part of a series of actions that have kept the pressure on the Thai government. Over recent months, demonstrators have shaken the country by criticising the monarchy, an institution protected by a harsh defamation law, and demanding the king relinquish some of his vast power and wealth.Photograph: Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images



































Orange County, California, USFirefighters battling the Bond fire haul a hose while working to save a home in the Silverado community of Orange County.Photograph: Noah Berger/AP



































Lumajang, East Java, IndonesiaVillagers gather to check the damage caused by lava following the eruption of the Mount Semeru volcano.Photograph: Juni Kriswanto/AFP/Getty Images






































Paris, FranceRiot police take cover during a protest against the ‘global security’ draft law, in which Article 24 would criminalise the publication of images of on-duty police officers with the intent of harming their ‘physical or psychological integrity’.Photograph: Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images



































Mexico CityA small group of dancers gather to pay their respects to San Andres and to ask for protection against coronavirus in preparation for the festivities of the Virgin of Guadalupe.Photograph: Hector Adolfo Quintanar Perez/Zuma/Rex/Shutterstock



































Salvador, Bahia, BrazilChildren outside their home at the Manuel Faustino squatter camp. Nearly everyone in the camp receives Covid-19 relief payments, which are set to be stopped at the end of the year, as do more than 67 million low-income workers in Brazil, nearly one-third of the population. The payments started at 600 reais (about $110) a month in April, but were then halved in September as President Jair Bolsonaro’s government struggled to fund them.Photograph: Rafael Martins/AFP/Getty Images



































Hamdayet, SudanRefugees who fled the conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia ride a bus going to the Village 8 temporary shelter near the border between Sudan and Ethiopia.Photograph: Nariman El-Mofty/AP






































Beijing, ChinaZhou Xiaoxuan weeps as she speaks to her supporters upon arrival at a courthouse in Beijing. Zhou, a Chinese woman who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against a TV host, said she hoped her case would encourage other victims of gender violence in a system that gives them few options to pursue complaints.Photograph: Andy Wong/AP



































Qadarif, SudanA Tigrayan woman stretches her arms at the end of Sunday Mass at a nearby church in the Umm Rakouba refugee camp.Photograph: Nariman El-Mofty/AP



































Houston, Texas, USDr Joseph Varon hugs and comforts a patient in the Covid-19 intensive care unit during Thanksgiving at the United Memorial medical centre in Houston. According to reports, Texas has reached over 1,220,000 cases, including over 21,500 deaths.Photograph: Go Nakamura/Getty Images



































Anyang, South KoreaWorkers wearing personal protective equipment spray disinfectant inside a classroom at Baekyoung high school ahead of the college scholastic ability test. The annual college entrance exam is considered one of the most important days in South Korea, where flights are banned during examination time and police escort students who are running late.Photograph: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg/Getty Images






































Madrid, SpainPeople watch a Christmas nativity scene in downtown Madrid. Spain will slightly ease the country’s curfew restrictions on some days over the Christmas holidays while keeping most limits in place due to the pandemic.Photograph: Bernat Armangué/AP



































Lake Forest, California, USA rabbit crosses a road to escape smoke and flames as firefighters work to contain the Bond fire near Lake Forest.Photograph: Patrick T Fallon/AFP/Getty Images



































San Juan County, Utah, USA monolith placed in the Utah wilderness. New clues have surfaced in the disappearance of the gleaming monolith that seemed to melt away as mysteriously as it appeared in the red-rock desert. A Colorado photographer told a TV station in Salt Lake City that he saw four men push over the hollow, stainless steel structure last Friday night.Photograph: Terrance Siemon/AP



































Verbier, SwitzerlandSnowmaker Guy Arnaud checks the quality of snow made by a machine during his shift, before the official opening of the Alpine ski resort.Photograph: Denis Balibouse/Reuters






































Buenos Aires, ArgentinaMatias Disciosia, a devoted Diego Maradona fan, looks through his closet at his home in Buenos Aires. ‘In reality, I don’t think about what people say, whether he’s good or bad or whether he’s an inspiration or not,’ said Disciosia. ‘Everything related to Maradona is a source of inspiration for those who feel him and carry his soul.’Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters



































London, EnglandJessica Walker and Nicola Foster at the newly reopened Charlton Lido.Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA



































Bangkok, ThailandProtesters march while carrying inflatable yellow ducks outside the headquarters of the 11th infantry regiment in Bangkok.Photograph: Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images



































Damascus, SyriaShatha, the daughter of 48-year-old Palestinian refugee Issa al-Loubani, looks out the window of their apartment in the Palestinian Yarmuk camp on the southern outskirts of Damascus.Photograph: Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images




































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President Donald Trump’s effort to overturn California’s ability to set fuel efficiency rules just lost another automaker. According to Reuters, Nissan said it was joining General Motors in abandoning the group of car companies that were previously supporting Trump’s fight with California. On November 23rd, GM announced it would leave the group of automakers that included Nissan, Fiat Chrysler, and several others, that were supporting Trump’s legal efforts to overturn pollution-fighting powers. Under the Clean Air Act, the state has historically been allowed to set its own emissions standards. And as the largest auto market in the US and one of the biggest in the world, California has a lot of influence over the auto industry.

Nissan, which along with its coalition partners Renault and Mitsubishi, is one of the largest automakers in the world. Notably, neither Nissan nor GM have said whether they would join an opposing group of automakers that includes Ford, BMW, Honda, and Volkswagen, which have agreed to abide by California’s fuel efficiency standards. The pro-California group of car companies, which first announced their intentions in July 2019, struck a deal with the state that roughly matches the cleaner car plan put in place by the Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency — a plan that the Trump administration has been working feverishly to undo since the president took office in 2017. President-elect Joe Biden has stated his support for the Obama-era rules (and by extension, California’s standards) and has vowed to push for the rapid adoption of zero-emission vehicles.

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The inaugural Autumn Nations Cup has not always felt like a substantial meal but something more nourishing might just await at Twickenham. It is a final, for a start, with a title at stake and, glory be, there will be 2,000 real live fans in attendance. If ever there was a year to be grateful for small mercies, this is surely it.It also offers England a chance to show they can respond to all-or-nothing end games rather better than proved the case in last autumn’s Rugby World Cup final. This fixture, against a below-strength France, is nothing like as pressure-laden but Eddie Jones is determined not to make the same mistakes he now thinks contributed to England’s downfall against the all-powerful Springboks.With the benefit of hindsight Jones feels England almost tiptoed towards the biggest game of their lives, underestimating the need to take a fresh guard mentally in the days after smashing the All Blacks in the semi-final. “In retrospect we probably didn’t attack the week like we normally do. It’s not necessarily a conscious decision. Sometimes you think: ‘Well, we’ve just got to continue.’ In sport there’s no such thing as continuing, you are either going up or you go down. We’ve made a big effort this week to attack the week, not to sit back, and to see where we can improve our game.”Hence the selectorial thinking, too, behind an England starting XV which contains a record 813 caps – compared with France’s paltry tally of 68 – and sees just one change, with Anthony Watson returning in place of his injured Bath teammate Jonathan Joseph. It might seem the equivalent of using a sledgehammer to crack une petite noix but Jones clearly reckons there is still plenty of time left before the next World Cup in 2023 to examine the claims of Dan Robson, Max Malins, Ben Earl, Jack Willis and Ollie Thorley. More valuable, to his mind, is sending out a message to all and sundry that England, having won the 2020 Six Nations, remain fully committed to raising the bar every time they take the field.And if world domination is the stated aim, what better role model for Jones to choose on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme than cricket’s incomparable Vivian Richards? Even the Master Blaster’s slow, deliberate swagger to the crease was a warning to the bowler and, sure enough, the ball would usually disappear to all parts. “We’d like to play like Viv Richards used to bat,” insisted Jones, glossing over the fact the West Indian legend played his last Test before the majority of this England squad were born. “Everyone wants to play beautiful rugby and we’re no different. Sometimes the conditions are conducive to that and sometimes they’re not, but we want to be a dominant force in world rugby.”None of this will mean much to the French but Jones reckons England are currently more like Australia’s captain Steve Smith: not particularly elegant but increasingly hard to dig out. “His ability to control the bowler is fantastic and that’s where rugby is going,” insisted the head coach. “At the moment defence is in the ascendancy but teams will work out how to attack rush defences and we’re in the process of developing our own attacking system to do that. It takes time.”Eddie Jones said he wants England to play like Viv Richards used to bat. Photograph: Dan Mullan - RFU/The RFU Collection/Getty ImagesThere have been few instances of England hitting much off the square, never mind over the pavilion, in an attacking sense over the past month but this weekend really should offer the opportunity to flex their muscles at some point. While the new-look visiting side contains several excellent up-and-coming talents, even the organisational genius of Shaun Edwards will be hard pushed to knit Les Bleus into a collective unit capable of conquering a venue where no first-choice French team has beaten England since 2007.It is easy to see the visitors, with nothing to lose, displaying plenty of early spirit but, as Georgia, Ireland and Wales can testify, getting smashed by Tom Curry, Sam Underhill and England’s other enforcers for 80 minutes soon becomes hard work, particularly with temperatures forecast to be on the froid side of chilly.Nor is it terribly likely that England will opt to throw caution to the winds, at least not until their forwards have propelled them into a significant lead. According to Jonny May, the sharpest knife in the Red Rose tool box, the notion of wingers floating around on the periphery like nervous debutantes is a throwback to a now-defunct era. “When I was young I used to think being on the wing was all about being in space, scoring tries, and making line-breaks. Now my mindset more than ever is chasing kicks, leading the defensive line, communicating, winning in the air. I build my game around that.”Given May has already scored seven tries in seven Tests against France, there must be a decent chance of him adding to the brace he scored when England were last beaten, in Paris in early February. It could be that these two sides have several high-profile duels to come in the next few years and it is already clear Jones will not rest until England’s 2019 final pain has been assuaged. “You never put it to bed. We weren’t good enough in that World Cup final. Even if you win the next World Cup, it stays with you. And that is what drives you to keep on wanting to get better. In any sort of sport you are in a cycle of success and failure – as soon as you’ve had success, failure is sitting next to you. And vice-versa.”Quick GuideEngland teamShowE Daly (Saracens); A Watson (Bath), H Slade (Exeter), O Farrell (Saracens, capt), J May (Gloucester); G Ford (Leicester), B Youngs (Leicester); M Vunipola (Saracens), J George (Saracens), K Sinckler (Bristol), M Itoje (Saracens), J Launchbury (Wasps), T Curry (Sale), S Underhill (Bath), B Vunipola (Saracens).Replacements: L Cowan-Dickie (Exeter), E Genge (Leicester), W Stuart (Bath), J Hill (Exeter), B Earl (Bristol), D Robson (Wasps), M Malins (Bristol), J Marchant (Harlequins).Which is why this weekend, psychologically, looms as a potential springboard to a better place. “When you lose a big final like that it stays with you for a long time,” confirmed Jones. “You reflect and think: ‘I should have done that, would that have made a difference?’ Then you consistently hear criticism of what you’ve done, which drives you a little bit more. You have got to learn from it. We are absolutely blessed within 13 months to have the opportunity to play in a final again. We lost our last final, so the big thing is to win.”If his full-strength side fail to deposit France’s callow understudies straight back over the sightscreen, Viv Richards should sue.

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Cake Bash’s Campfire mini-game, in which you have to toast perfect marshmallows, is sure to stoke any appetite.Screenshot: High Tea FrogEveryone loves a good sugar rush. It’s why, no matter how big the backlog, we gravitate to games that could generously be qualified as comfort food. But the sweetest sugar-rush I’ve run into lately isn’t some paint-by-numbers first-person shooter you’ve played a hundred times or some formulaic open-world adventure you won’t even need a tutorial for. It’s a little game called Cake Bash.You might’ve slept on Cake Bash, which officially came out in October—sandwiched between Hades and that early November hell week—for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Steam, and just last month for the Nintendo Switch. Don’t sleep on Cake Bash. Anyone seeking a raucous party game would be hard-pressed to find a more raucous one.Cake Bash reared its sugary head this summer as part of Xbox’s Summer Games Fest Demo Event. If you caught it then, you likely know what to expect: You and up to three other players choose an anthropomorphic pastry avatar (wth bots taking the place of any empty spots) and compete in bite-sized mini-games. Some might be traditional melee-style brawls, where you smack jelly beans off your opponents and stick them on yourself so you, not that ugly yellow eclair, can be the sweetest. Others might be more focused on survival; one standout is a mode called Fork Knife, which requires you to constantly sprint around a pie as slices give way, all while dodging cutlery that will disqualify you if hit. Another, one called Neapolitan, is all about balancing as many scoops of ice cream as you can without toppling your cone.Fork Knife cuts deep.Screenshot: High Tea FrogIn the time since the demo, Cake Bash added a larger game mode called Get Tasty, which packages all of these mini-games together. You and your fellow muffins, cakes, and donuts start out in the pastry case of some chic, bubblegum-pink patisserie. Your goal is to cover yourself with as much glacé ornamentation—candies and the like—so as to be the most appetizing treat, ultimately getting chosen by the customer to, yes, be eaten. Every mini-game you win allots you some in-game currency, which you can use to buy said ornamentation between rounds. Whoever has the most at the end wins. (Don’t think too hard about what it means to win.) The more you play, the more mini-games you’ll unlock. Once unlocked, you can play them any time in a mini-game specific mode, side-stepping the need to play through an entire “full” game of Get Tasty.G/O Media may get a commissionThe result is what you’d imagine would happen if Super Mario Party were set in a Dylan’s Candy Shop. And just like any round of Mario Party—whether you’re making your way through a 20-turn board or just dabbling in some mini-games—friends become enemies. Lovers quarrel. No one is safe from the fray. Evil reigns.It’s delightful.Still, there’s an inherent absurdity to Cake Bash that Mario Party and party games of its ilk don’t quite match—one that lightens the mood just enough. You might hate your friends while you’re playing, but you won’t actually lose any friendships at the end of the day. You’re playing as pastries! With cartoon limbs! And irrepressibly cheerful smiles! Turns out, once Yoshi’s smug face and Luigi’s cocksure arrogance are taken off the table, party games can be pretty sweet. In other words, Cake Bash might be a sugar rush, but it won’t ruin your appetite.More ways to not hate your friends:

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Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inboxApple TV+U.S. hospitals are past their breaking point. It’s time to go home and lock yourself down, if you can. Below, we’ve compiled six suggestions for a weekend spent in isolation.Watch.A staff writer on our Culture team, Megan Garber, found uncanny similarities between the title characters of two new television shows: Emily in Paris and Ted Lasso. Both projects, she writes, grapple “with cultural exchange during a time when American exceptionalism, always a myth, looks ever more like a lie.” Her essay is worth reading in full.Here are three other recent releases, as contemplated by our Culture team:   The horror movie The Nest is one of the best films of the year, David Sims argues. Netflix’s adaptation of the book Hillbilly Elegy is a miss, David warns. Another writer, Cassie Chambers Armstrong, argues that it doesn’t show the positive side of Appalachia.   HBO’s The Undoing has a dangerous blind spot, Eve Gerber argues. This holiday season, consider streaming one of these 20 great films about families and connection. But do not subject your child to Rudolph, Caitlin Flanagan argues: The world is bleak enough as it is.








Listen.This week, BTS achieved the unthinkable: The South Korean pop septet’s latest single, “Life Goes On,” topped the Billboard Hot 100 despite almost no radio play.Over the holiday, a new Miley Cyrus album arrived: Plastic Hearts is the singer’s “most full-throated, nostalgia-soaked, capital-R Rock statement yet,” our critic Spencer Kornhaber argues.Meanwhile, Elvis Costello’s 1979 album, Armed Forces, got a reissue. The work feels more relevant than ever, David A. Graham argues.If podcasts are more your speed, revisit our list of nine great episodes to start now.Read.It’s not too late to start a quarantine reading project. Pick a book that can help you find focus. Or one from a writer who reimagined womanhood. Subscribe to our Books Briefing newsletter for a roundup of what our writers are thinking about.As the year comes to a close, we’re curious: What was the best book you read? Tell us.NASA / THE HUBBLE HERITAGE TEAM / STSCI / AURAGo to space. A thought experiment, courtesy of our space reporter, Marina Koren: “Imagine yourself at a scenic vista somewhere on Earth. … As your brain processes the view and its sheer vastness, feelings of awe kick in.”Looking at a photo of the cosmos may trigger a similar effect, she reports. In short, galaxy brain is real.For more awe-inspiring stories, explore Marina’s reporting on a moon’s mysterious glow, the rogue planets that wander the galaxy, and the asteroids that could help decipher our entire existence.Aoldman / iStockphoto / GettyReflect. Arthur C. Brooks, a Harvard professor and our happiness columnist, argues that measuring your own happiness can help improve it.Tour America from your couch.Our “Fifty” project, from photo editor Alan Taylor, highlights extraordinary photography of each U.S. state. This week’s selection, pictured above, is known as the Keystone State. Can you guess which state that is?



We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to [email protected]








Caroline Mimbs Nyce is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic.



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Woof — it’s been a long week. If you feel like you’ve been working like a dog — or if the cat-astrophic news cycle is making you want to claw up your furniture — let us offer you the internet equivalent of a big pile of catnip: hilarious tweets about cats and dogs.We Shih Tzu not.Each week at HuffPost, we scour Twitter to find the funniest posts about our favorite furballs being complete goofballs. And, yes, they are sure to make you howl.So shoo your kitty off your keyboard and enjoy some very good tweets. And if you want some more, no need to beg. Check out last week’s batch right here.From @sarperduman: “Fevzi can’t sleep without listening to piano 😴😄” #catsofinstagram pic.twitter.com/nH8auJ0twT— Cats of Instagram (@catsofinstagram) November 30, 2020



Did my dog just pet my cat?? And did my cat just hug my dog??pic.twitter.com/6LFfdaHgBj— Back To Nature (@backt0nature) November 28, 2020


Being a cat parent is calling your cat by their given name 1% of the time and then just calling him "kitty cat" the other 99%.— Analise Nelson (@lalalanalise) November 30, 2020


Read instructions before assembling your cat. pic.twitter.com/p3KSw04L0X— Cheddar 🎄Blitzen⛄ Cat (@biscuitscheddar) December 4, 2020


I posted a few months ago about my neighbor’s cat who demands pets when I pull up in the driveway- well, it’s 8 months later and our routine has evolved! pic.twitter.com/COv075drmM— Nature Lovers (@natureslover_s) December 3, 2020


My dog is a T-Rex and you can’t convince me otherwise. pic.twitter.com/6Awsh0pODm— DogMomUSA (@DogMomUSA) November 30, 2020


When I feel like someone isn't giving me enough attention pic.twitter.com/IGLQDYZgoj— Rad Tasia, Fae of Yule (@GroovyTasia) December 2, 2020


I love how cats are so sweetly selfish. They just plop down on you like "Time for cuddles now!" and they don't--or, well, most of them don't--check first if it's okay. They just plop.— Ana Mardoll (He/Him) (@AnaMardoll) December 2, 2020


Catching feelings from the living room ♥️♥️♥️🎥: goldengirl_xena (IG)#mydogiscutest pic.twitter.com/ItpUtlLgVe— My Dog Is Cutest (@mydogiscutest) December 3, 2020


My dog has two moods 1. sleeping beauty 2. velociraptor— Jen_A_Palooza (@Ten_Toes_7) December 3, 2020


Fun Fact: Jack only enters the pool like this pic.twitter.com/IhwrPyhb2M— M_Crouton (@m_crouton) December 3, 2020


My dog: gosh no I don't really wanna go for a long walk, it's the afternoon and I'm not feeling it.Also my dog: IT IS NINE PM AND I AM FULL OF WIGGLES! LET'S GO!!!!— Courtney Milan 🦖 (@courtneymilan) December 2, 2020


He was a punk 💀 she did ballet 🩰 pic.twitter.com/DTYFDw5fU9— Lomitos Suavecitos (@SuavesLomitos) November 30, 2020



Thought my dog was just being affectionate but it turns out the best place to puke is on my feet.— Lisa Jakub (@Lisa_Jakub) November 30, 2020


I tried to take a pic of my dogs looking cute in their sweaters but this happened instead. 🤷🏻‍♀️ pic.twitter.com/Etew7Rfrqh— Andria Amaral (@andriaamaral) December 1, 2020


Who is she 😍 pic.twitter.com/JY7BiQ0za7— ℙ𝕒𝕧𝕝𝕠𝕧 & 𝕄𝕒𝕤𝕝𝕠𝕨 🐶 (@PAVGOD) December 2, 2020


should i return or keep it? pic.twitter.com/o7vHCz1iAf— Popular Cats (@PopuIarCats) December 2, 2020


I’m trying to fall asleep. I sense someone standing over me. I open my eyes. My partner is standing in the dark. “The cat wanted to say goodnight,” he says. He holds out the cat. The cat wants no part of this.— Meryn Lobb ⚔️ (@MerynLobb) November 30, 2020


This is Monty. He’s getting his passpawt photo taken but won’t stop making silly faces. Going to be here all day. Still 13/10 pic.twitter.com/Ut10Q7UY9j— WeRateDogs® (@dog_rates) December 3, 2020


— mondo diverso (@StefanoSMagi) December 2, 2020


Hiccuped while my cat was laying on my chest, which apparently just ruined her whole day.— Dublin (@DublinPDX) November 30, 2020


I'M A SURVIVOR...(sound on)😍😍😍😍😀😄😅🤣😂🎵🎶🎵🎶by mylinkconverter/IG pic.twitter.com/cHf5kbU4w2— laurent (@solivan675) December 2, 2020


I couldn’t find my dog for 5 minutes and it turns out I’m the worst person in the world and put the vacuum too close to his kennel when I was done and he’s been “stuck” waiting for someone to move it so he can get out pic.twitter.com/VdMYd3TQW5— Kels🖤 (@Keally22) December 1, 2020


we found a knife inside my dog’s bed, like IN it where the stuffing is like?!?! What is she planning?— lily but festive 🎄 (@lilyofmarz) November 30, 2020


who needs a snow plow when you have a bull-dozer(surfinggypsy IG) pic.twitter.com/inAWIat6JF— Humor And Animals (@humorandanimals) December 2, 2020


Molly, aka the Thing of Evil, takes a rest after taking down a gang of vicious birds. They'll know better next time. Note tongue, no doubt still tasting of feathers. pic.twitter.com/6tvAYMKenR— Stephen King (@StephenKing) December 4, 2020


He a whole snack😛🎥 IG katedupnik pic.twitter.com/YRoUYM39Df— Aussies Doing Things (@aussiesdointhgs) December 3, 2020


late to this but this is a very cat headline! a dog will come to the white house with you; a cat will be SAID to be JOINING you but it is possible that the cat will alter its plans https://t.co/YRf9RsOMcD— Alexandra Petri (@petridishes) November 30, 2020

















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October 2020

What is Neovim?

Neovim is a fork of the venerable text-editor vim, focused on extensibility andusability. It is not a rewrite but a continuation and extension of Vim. Manyclones and derivatives exist, some very clever—but none are Vim. Neovim is builtfor users who want the good parts of Vim, and more. See a list of differencesvia :help vim-differences.

Participating

If you are interested in contributing to Neovim, visit the githubpage for details.We have a great test suite and automated CI, so you can just jump in and have ago. Don’t be afraid to open a PR to get comments or just take advantage of theinfrastructure!

To get in touch with the team, join the gitter channel(also accessible via IRC), orvisit the Neovim subreddit, which many ofthe developers read. Taking part in conversations is a contribution, too!

What’s new

The last newsletter covered the release ofNeovim v0.3.0, it is now time to do the same thing with the most excitingNeovim release that happened since then: v0.4.4!

0.4.4 for Users


Neovim started detecting the background color of the terminal for xterm-compatible terminals (@joshtriplett, #9509) The 'maxcombine' option has been removed, it now always default to 6 (@bfredl, #7992) The 'fillchars' setting now has an eob option, letting users configure the character used to represent lines after the end of a buffer (previously hardcoded to ~) (@FriedSock, #8546) F has been added to the default 'shortmess' option and S has been removed (@justinmk, #8619, #10136) The CursorLine type will now be smarter: if its foreground color is not set, the text of the CursorLine will use the CursorLine’s background color and default syntax highlighting colors as foreground (@zhou13, #8578). The terminal UI can now support undercurl and colored underline, provided that your terminal has support for that (@blueyed, #9052). Neovim’s 'background' setting now defaults to dark to get a consistent setting across platforms (@justinmk, #9205). 'fillchars' and 'listchars' now are window-local options (@mhinz, #9539). The popupmenu can now be made (pseudo) transparent (@bfredl, #9571). Floating windows! This enables all kinds of useful features, such as big clocks (@bfredl, @dzhou121, #6619) Autocommands now have a ++once modifier to let them execute only once (@justinmk, #9706) A new autocommand event named CompleteChanged has been implemented (@chemzqm, #9616) Vim’s TermDebug plugin has been ported to neovim (@kwon-young, #8364). The wildmenu can now be turned into a popup menu with wildoptions=pum (@bfredl, #9607). In fact, that’s the default! There now are two events triggered when a UI connects to and disconnects from Neovim: UIEnter and UILeave (@equalsraf, #6917). There also are TermEnter and TermLeave autocommands triggered when entering/leaving a terminal (usama54321, #8550).


0.4.4 for Developers


New UI extensions: The ext_hlstate extension allows semantic identification of builtin and syntax highlights (@bfredl, #8221). The ext_linegrid extension sends more gradual screen updates for improved performance (@bfredl, #9064). The ext_multigrid extension introduces the concept of a “grid” which is just a rendering surface (@bfredl, @UtkarshMe #8455). The ext_messages extension enables UIs to provide an external command line (@bfredl, @dzhou121 #7466) ext_popupmenu makes neovim send information about its popup menu (@bfredl #9607). New API function: nvim_buf_get_offset: returns the byte offset of a line (@bfredl, #9180) nvim_buf_is_loaded: checks if a buffer is loaded (@phodge, #7688). nvim_create_buf: create a new buffer (@bredl, #9272) nvim_get_context/nvim_load_context: explore and restore the editor’s state (@justinmk, #10619. nvim_input_mouse: perform mouse actions (@bfredl, #9429). nvim_open_win: creating floating external windows nvim_set_keymap: sets a global mapping for a mode (@yilin-yang, #9224). nvim_win_close: close a window (@bfredl, #9667). nvim_win_set_buf: sets the current buffer of a window (@justinmk, #9100) nvim_win_set_config: configure the layout of a window (@mhinz, #9626). Changed API functions: nvim_buf_lines_event will now send events for terminal buffers (@justinmk, #8616). Neovim now always waits for a UI when launched with –embed, unless –headless is also supplied (@bfredl, #9024). Neovim’s libuv loop has been exposed to lua as vim.loop (@zhaozg, @andreypopp, #10123).


What’s next?

Neovim contributors have been hard at work and added a lot of new features to v0.5.0 like an LSP client written in Lua and TreeSitter integration. The next Neovim release promises to be fascinating!

Around Neovim



The wiki page of relatedprojects is an evergrowing list of projects that somehow make use of Neovim’s extended capabilities. Here’s a gist of additions since the last newsletter:

Plugins

The following plugins have found their way into our wiki:


coc.nvim: Language Server Protocol client that aims to replicate VSCode’s functionnalities markdown-preview.nvim: Provides preview of your markdown files in your browser, with synchronized scrolling. nvim-gdb: thin wrapper for GDB, LLDB and PDB nero.nvim: A REPL for Neovim neogdb.vim: Vim GDB front-end for neovim nvim-luadev: REPL for developing lua plugins Conjure: Clojure and ClojureScript tooling for Neovim over a socket Aniseed: Write plugins for Neovim in Fennel, a Lisp that compiles to Lua. nvim-luapad: Interactive real time neovim scratchpad for the embedded lua engine.


API Clients

Plenty of new API clients:


Java: neovim-java

D: viniarck/nvimhost-d

Scala: viniarck/nvimhost-scala

NodeJS: neoclide/neovim

Dart: smolck/dart-nvim-api

Ocaml: janestreet/vcaml



The python client also has been renamed to “pynvim”.

GUIs

Maybe 2018/2019 weren’t the years of the Linux desktop, but they sure were the years of the Neovim GUI:


veonim: a really cool electron-based GUI that aims to replicate the VSCode experience. DinVim Vim for Mac: A “safe and secure” Neovim GUI - available on the OSX app store. akiyosi/gonvim: A maintained fork of gonvim. etorth/libnvc: An easy to embed GUI based on SDL. mvilim/neovim-pytc-example: The first terminal UI for Neovim that isn’t the default terminal UI! GNvim: “GUI for neovim, without any web bloat” written in Rust. Firenvim: A big ball of web bloat that embeds Neovim in Chrome, Firefox and other browsers. glrnvim: A terminal wrapper that launches neovim inside of alacritty. yatli/fvim: A beautiful UI written in F# - who knew functionnal languages could actually be used for writing software? Neo Vim: A new attempt at integration neovim into VSCode. kethku/neovide: A “No nonsense Neovim client writen in rust” with a tiny bit of cursor madness. dontpanic92/dotnvim: A C# neovim client with transparent backgrounds!


Blog posts

Some posts that talk specifically about Neovim things:


Writing Neovim plugins in lua: https://www.2n.pl/blog/how-to-write-neovim-plugins-in-lua Writing your init.vim in lua: https://teukka.tech/luanvim.html Using Neovim’s event loop from lua: https://teukka.tech/vimloop.html


Stats

Changed lines since the last newsletter:git log v0.3.0..v0.4.4 --numstat --pretty=tformat: --numstat | nawk '{ add += $1; subs += $2; loc += $1 - $2 } END { printf "added lines: %s removed lines: %s total lines: %s\n", add, subs, loc }'added lines: 168844 removed lines: 75466 total lines: 93378


Merged commits:git log v0.3.0..v0.4.4 --pretty=oneline | wc -l3477


Different commit authors:git shortlog -e -s -n v0.3.0..v0.4.4 | wc -l164


Documentation changes:git log v0.3.0..v0.4.4 --numstat --pretty=tformat: --numstat runtime/doc | nawk '{ add += $1; subs += $2; loc += $1 - $2 } END { printf "added lines: %s removed lines: %s total lines: %s\n", add, subs, loc }'added lines: 9226 removed lines: 7002 total lines: 2224


Thanks

Thank you contributors, sponsors, bug-reporters, supporters.Note that you can now sponsor neovim via github Sponsors or on OpenCollective.Thank you @justinmk for the awesome project and thank you @brammool for your foundational work.


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The publication made the announcement on Thursday, noting that it created the Kid of the Year title to recognize the positive impact younger generations are making in the world. Time has named an annual Person of the Year – once called Man of the Year – since the 1920s.In a wide-ranging interview with actor and activist Angelina Jolie for Time, Rao shared that she’s researched and worked on ways to use technology to address issues like contaminated drinking water, opioid addiction and cyberbullying. The Colorado teenager told Jolie that her motivation to tackle these issues stemmed from her desire to make others happy. “That was my everyday goal, just to make someone happy,” she said. “And it soon turned into, ‘How can we bring positivity and community to the place we live?’”She later explained that when she was younger, she started to explore ways she could use science and technology to create social change. During the interview, Rao shared that she created a service called Kindly to help end cyberbullying; she is working on ways to test bio-contaminants in water; and she has worked with organizations and schools across the world to host workshops to support young people to nurture their own projects and inventions.But the list of accomplishments and accolades that she’s earned over the years doesn’t stop there. Humbled, honored, and excited! Special thanks to all my mentors, teachers, family, and friends who believed in me and supported me. Congrats to all the finalists and many of them are my friends @jordanjustright from @TheSTEAM_Squad @MightyRebekah @ElijahLee07. They inspire me! https://t.co/wr8EPhauw9— Gitanjali Rao (@gitanjaliarao) December 4, 2020


Rao was named “America’s Top Young Scientist” in 2017 by the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for inventing a lead-testing device for drinking water  ― an invention she said was motivated by the Flint Water crisis. In 2019, she was chosen for Forbes’ 30 under 30 list for accomplishments in science.The teenager published her first self-illustrated book titled “Baby Brother Wonders” at age 9, and she’s releasing a new book next year titled “A Young Innovator’s Guide to STEM: 5 Steps To Problem Solving For Students, Educators, and Parents.”Rao tweeted her excitement on Twitter Friday after being named Kid of the Year, thanking her mentors, teachers, family and friends who “believed in me and supported me.”The 15-year-old was selected by Time as one of the five finalists for Kid of the Year out of 5,000 young people in the U.S. ages 8 to 16. The other four finalists, who are also profiled in the magazine, are Tyler Gordon, 14; Jordan Reeves, 14; Bellen Woodard, 10; and Ian McKenna, 16.


















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Although many Republicans have insisted that President Donald Trump still has a chance at winning the 2020 election despite ample evidence to the contrary, Kellyanne Conway isn’t one of them.In an interview with 19thNews.org on Friday, the former White House counselor admitted that President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris won the election, while insisting that Trump has the right to continue challenging the election results.“The president wants to exhaust all of his legal avenues, as he has made clear many times,” Conway said. “Of course, that is his right.”But she didn’t express much hope in his efforts actually working.“If you look at the vote totals in the Electoral College tally, it looks like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will prevail,” Conway said. “I assume the electors will certify that and it will be official. We, as a nation, will move forward, because we always do.”Elsewhere in the interview, Conway expressed the need for a “peaceful transfer of democracy” regardless of which administration will be in power, adding, “We want the engines of government to keep going.”You can see Conway’s comments in the video below.

Conway isn’t the only GOP official willing to acknowledge that Trump lost the election.In a Zoom call on Wednesday, Georgia Sen. David Perdue also made comments suggesting that Biden will be the next president, according to The Washington Post.“We know what this change of command at the top will mean with our foreign relations,” said Perdue, who will face Jon Ossoff in a Georgia runoff election in January. “If we can keep the majority in the Senate, we can at least be a buffer on some of the things that the Biden camp has been talking about in terms of their foreign policy.”The recording comes just days before Perdue and fellow Georgia Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler are set to appear at a rally with Trump in Valdosta, Georgia, on Saturday.John Burke, Perdue’s campaign spokesperson, told the Post that the senator’s comments are a “non-story,” insisting that Perdue supports the president “and his fight for transparency and accuracy in this election.”
















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CrimeCredit...Pablo AmargoDec. 4, 2020, 4:42 p.m. ETNo fluffy bunny scenes in THE RABBIT HUNTER (Knopf, 512 pp., $27.95), just a sanguinary psycho-killer suspense story by Lars Kepler, a popular Swedish husband-and-wife writing team. There is, indeed, the sweet voice of a child chanting a nursery rhyme before each death. (“Ten little rabbits, all dressed in white / Tried to get to heaven on the end of a kite.”) But that’s more a grace note than a plot point in a story that hops from sophisticated political terrorism to graphic gore.Susan Furlong’s SHATTERED JUSTICE (Kensington, 293 pp., $26) is set in the remote Tennessee town of Bone Gap, where you’ll find armed militia encampments pitched in the woods and male strippers doing the grind at local bars. The discovery of a body in a playground brings out Brynn Callahan, a sheriff’s deputy, and her dog, Wilco, both veterans of the wars in the Middle East. In this sober series, a severed tongue, accompanied by a warning to “Speak no evil,” passes for down-home humor. The local lawman in John McMahon’s folksy police procedural THE EVIL THAT MEN DO (Putnam, 330 pp., $27) thinks that Mason Falls, Ga., is heaven on earth. When rapacious land-grabbers threaten to ruin it, murder ensues. The story of real-estate moguls running amok is sadly familiar, but it’s well told by McMahon, who writes with narrative flair and has the wit to name a biker bar “Motor Mouth.” Agatha Christie figures prominently in Kate Weinberg’s clever campus mystery, THE TRUANTS (Putnam, 311 pp., $26), which features a student with a passion for the “Queen of Crime” and an obsession with a like-minded teacher. “How would you feel if I told you I’d killed someone?” is typical of the academic chitchat in this smart debut mystery. How well do you really know your friends? Sophie Hannah, who can twist a conventional plot until it screams for mercy, puts an existential spin on the domestic-suspense novel with PERFECT LITTLE CHILDREN (Morrow / HarperCollins, 329 pp., $27.99). The suburban mom who narrates the story has her hands full with her own family. But she can’t help noticing strange things about her neighbors. Why haven’t the children grown? And has anyone seen their third kid lately? Brace yourself for the ending.In Jessica Barry’s DON’T TURN AROUND (HarperCollins, 320 pp., $27.99), Cait Monaghan is a Lyft driver who volunteers at an abortion clinic and delivers battered women to shelters. Barry captures both the excitement and the danger of being on the run when threats from internet trolls send her on a 300-mile road drive from Albuquerque to Lubbock. A jolly road trip it is not.Here we are, in the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, wondering who killed a crabby old recluse — and for what? In HARD CASH VALLEY (Minotaur, 204 pp., $26.99), Brian Panowich’s Georgia lawman Dane Kirby works the case — and the very model of a Southern noir hero he is, too. For a novel with plenty of manly violence, the characters — all tough talk and scarred souls — are drawn with unusual depth and subtlety. The plot is complex without being tricky (just follow the money) and the writing is something special. Caitlin Mullen’s spellbinding debut mystery, PLEASE SEE US (Gallery, 341 pp., $26.99), gives voice to seven prostitutes whose abused bodies were dumped in the marshes of Atlantic City. Mullen gives these victims the courtesy of rich histories and sympathetic understanding. By refusing to link these murders and raise the alarm of a serial killer in their midst, the tourist-pandering city robs them of the last comfort and dignity left to them — their kinship as women.A master forger’s failing eyesight has forced him into retirement in Bradford Morrow’s lovely literary mystery, THE FORGER’S DAUGHTER (Mysterious Press, 269 pp., $26). But how can this gifted artisan resist having a go at “Tamerlane and Other Poems,” Edgar Allan Poe’s first book, so rare it’s known as a Black Tulip? He passes the pen to his daughter, who joins him in creating a perfect literary forgery. In John Woods’s beautifully plotted LADY CHEVY (Pegasus Crime, 296 pp., $25.95), the descriptions of fracking will set your hair on fire. His 18-year-old heroine is a smart girl who knows she must get out of her poisoned environment if she stands a chance of having a life. Unfortunately, a fellow misfit talks her into protesting the environmental damage by committing an act of industrial terrorism that leaves a man dead.In addition to these 10, some of my favorite writers — Sara Paretsky, James Lee Burke, Donna Leon, Charles Todd, Louise Perry, Jussi Adler-Olsen, Joe Lansdale and Michael Connelly — had new books this year. I also want to make special mention of Samantha Norman, the daughter of Ariana Franklin and the author of “Death and the Maiden,” which brings to a satisfying conclusion her mother’s superb series of medieval mysteries.

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Two former workers claim New York Waterway fouled the river with unfiltered waste from boats’ toilets. The firm denies the allegations.Credit...Bryan Anselm for The New York TimesDec. 4, 2020Updated 4:41 p.m. ETWEEHAWKEN, N.J. — The dirtiest work happened while most of New Jersey slept, on boats docked across from Manhattan’s shimmering, half-lit skyscrapers.Employees of New York Waterway, a tour boat operator and the country’s largest private ferry company, would uncap a silver pipe and attach a small pump, forcing unfiltered waste from the boats’ toilets directly into the Hudson River, two former workers claim in court documents unsealed on Friday.The practice went on for years, according to the former employees, who have filed a whistle-blower complaint in federal court in Newark accusing New York Waterway of violating the federal Clean Water Act.“Anything that goes into a toilet would come right out,” said Rafi Khatchikian, 42, who was responsible for fueling and cleaning ferries at the company’s work dock in Weehawken. He worked the graveyard shift from September 2013 to August 2015, when he was fired after a diesel spill.“It’s, like, blended when it comes out,” he said. “It looks like oatmeal.”ImageCredit...Bryan Anselm for The New York TimesOnce, after a large tour boat outing, Mr. Khatchikian said the pump spewed waste into the river for more than 45 minutes.The company denies the allegations.“We think it’s totally without merit,” said Armand Pohan, the company’s chairman.Mr. Khatchikian and a second employee, Ivan Torres, said they were acting on instructions from their bosses at New York Waterway, a company that before the pandemic shuttled more than 30,000 passengers a day across the Hudson, a service it marketed as “the civilized commute.”Mr. Torres said the practice was part of the reason he walked off the job in 2015 and moved with his wife and two children to Florida, where he does maintenance work near Orlando.“It was horrible,” said Mr. Torres, a mechanic who said he began working for New York Waterway in 2011. “You’d go home and go to sleep and your nostrils still smelled of it.”New York Waterway was founded in 1986 by Arthur E. Imperatore Sr., a onetime trucking magnate who died last month at 95.A spokesman for the company, Patrick Smith, said the lawsuit was filed by “disgruntled ex-employees.”Federal prosecutors disclosed this week that they had declined to intervene in the case after a lengthy investigation led by the Environmental Protection Agency. Mr. Smith said this showed the “baseless nature of these claims.”A spokesman for Craig Carpenito, the United States attorney in New Jersey, had no immediate comment.“After years of investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has declined to participate in this meritless lawsuit, which was filed by two disgruntled ex-employees of NY Waterway,” Mr. Smith said in a statement. “The government’s decision in that regard speaks volumes about the baseless nature of these claims.”Michael Baldassare, a criminal defense lawyer hired by New York Waterway to address the lawsuit, declined to comment.Under federal law, whistle-blowers who disclose environmental fraud are eligible to be paid as much as 30 percent of fines recouped from polluters.The allegations had been under investigation by the E.P.A.’s criminal investigation division for more than two years, according to records obtained by The New York Times through the Freedom of Information Act.Are you a current or former employee of New York Waterway, the Environmental Protection Agency or the Coast Guard with a story to share? Contact us by sending us a confidential tip. We offer several ways to get in touch with and provide materials to our journalists.The E.P.A. inquiry began in July 2016 and appeared linked not just to the claims raised by the two men. Another employee, a captain, had expressed similar concerns, according to the records, which were heavily redacted.The captain, who the records suggest had been suspended after a boating accident, told the E.P.A. that “mechanics would plug in a pump right into the sewage and pump the sewage into the water (Hudson River),” a September 2016 investigation report states.The captain’s goal, reports show, was to return to work to “get video evidence of illegal sewage dumping.”Mr. Torres said he had done just that two years earlier.VideoCreditCredit...Ivan TorresIn a nighttime video with an Oct. 6, 2014, time stamp shared with The Times, a man can be heard stating that he is pumping waste into the river as the camera shows what appears to be liquid flowing from a hose. “It’s done on a regular basis,” the man says in the recording.Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, a nonprofit environmental watchdog, said the E.P.A.’s failure to pursue criminal penalties had caused untold harm to a river slowly recovering after decades of contamination.A segment of the 315-mile river was once a federal Superfund site, teeming with toxic PCBs, a synthetic chemical. But a dredging effort that began in 2009 has helped turn the Hudson into a watersport playground safe for kayakers, paddle boarders and the occasional wayward seal.On Oct. 4, 2018, Mr. Khatchikian’s lawyer, Michael D. Fitzgerald, notified New York Waterway that a complaint would be filed and asked the company to preserve all evidence.Twenty days later, E.P.A. agents boarded three ferries to try to place “concentrated green dye” in toilets to track the path of the wastewater, records show.The toilet on one ferry had been removed altogether. The bathrooms on two other ferries were locked from the outside.E.P.A. investigators had interviewed a New York Waterway vice president months earlier, who, records show, told them that “the boats do not have the ability to discharge directly into the water anymore.”The vice president, whose name was redacted, said that “if it happens, it is not company procedure.”A spokeswoman for the E.P.A., Mary Mears, said the agency had closed the investigation in December 2018, but reserved the right to “investigate any significant new information.”“E.P.A. took the allegations very seriously and we launched an in-depth investigation,” Ms. Mears said in an email.She said the agency “did not find the evidence that it would have needed to request that the U.S. attorney bring formal charges.”ImageCredit...Ivan TorresMr. Khatchikian said that on the nights he worked, he was the only employee responsible for emptying the ferries’ waste tanks and refueling boats.He said he believed he was instructed to use a small, hand-held pump to discharge waste into the river because of a shortage of employees and the difficulty of proper disposal.A long hose that was needed to hook boats to the lone stationary pump on the dock that could dispose of sewage properly froze in cold weather, he said. The legitimate pump also lacked the power to push the waste as far, or as fast, as it needed to go, he said.“It took longer to do it the right way,” Mr. Khatchikian said in an interview. “The illegal pump pumps very quickly — much, much faster.”Mr. Khatchikian was fired after a fuel spill. His termination letter claimed he left a fuel nozzle unattended and was “observed being inattentive.”Mr. Torres, 36, said he spoke to two E.P.A. investigators who came to his house in Florida, but declined to give them the video and photos he had taken out of fear of self-incrimination.“I’m going to make a very powerful man very angry,” he said about the company’s owner, “and what am I going to have to show for it?”He added, “You think they’re going to make a movie about me because I ratted out the New York Waterway?”Mr. Torres was recently added to Mr. Khatchikian’s lawsuit, providing him whistle-blower status and the promise of being eligible to share in a percentage of any potential fines generated by the lawsuit.A federal prosecutor who works for Mr. Carpenito participated in the E.P.A. investigation, records show. Mr. Carpenito had signaled in the court documents unsealed on Friday that he had no plan to intervene in the case. A spokesman, Matthew Reilly, had no immediate comment about the decision.ImageCredit...Ivan TorresIt has been clear for years that the financial stakes are high.As part of the inquiry, Mr. Fitzgerald hired a private investigator, Bari Kroll, and rented an eighth-floor apartment on the Weehawken waterfront for five months in 2018 to conduct round-the-clock video surveillance of New York Waterway’s work dock.On Oct. 3, 2018, at 4:20 a.m., Ms. Kroll said her surveillance cameras captured a greenish orb in the water near a ferry named the Bayonne, less than a day after E.P.A. records show that an agent had placed green dye in the toilet.Mr. Fitzgerald shared the video with the E.P.A. An E.P.A. report from the next day acknowledged that a ferry crew member appeared to spot something unusual in the river, leading the worker to shine a flashlight toward the water.“When the flashlight shines on the water,” the report states, “there are brief moments when the water appears to have a greenish tint.”ImageCredit...Bryan Anselm for The New York TimesThe allegations involve a time when New York Waterway was preparing to vacate, or overhaul, its Weehawken work dock.With one foot out the door, the company would have had little incentive to upgrade its balky sewage disposal system and could explain why it required employees to take environmentally damaging short cuts, Mr. Fitzgerald said.In 2017, New York Waterway spent about $11.5 million to purchase waterfront land in neighboring Hoboken, N.J., where it hoped to build a new work dock. It had been trying to buy the parcel for 10 years.The purchase, which impeded Hoboken’s plans to connect its waterfront amenities, became the subject of intense rancor and political intrigue. The dispute is unresolved.There have since been signs of wear and tear on New York Waterway’s fleet.Last year, the Coast Guard briefly pulled 23 of the company’s 32 boats out of service after deeming them “operationally unfit.”“I just don’t think that they wanted to put up the money to set up the pumping that they had to, to do this the right way,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.Derek M. Norman contributed reporting.

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in her wordsA mission to unearth forgotten female writers became a full-fledged publishing house. It has risen and fallen with the tides of feminism. And it’s not going away.Credit...Anna PariniDec. 4, 2020Updated 4:41 p.m. ET“It’s a radical act to publish women’s writing, and an equally radical act to keep it in print.”— Gloria SteinemIn Her Words is available as a newsletter. Sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox.It’s 1969. Across America, the culture wars are raging.At Goucher College, a private liberal arts school outside Baltimore, students enrolled in an 18th-century literature class take one glance at the syllabus and promptly ask their professor: “Where are the women authors?” The professor, herself a woman, is stumped. “There are none, because I’ve not read any,” she tells them.The stumped professor was Florence Howe, who died in September at 91, and this story, as she often explained, is how her lifelong project, the Feminist Press — now in its 50th year — was born.Initially, Ms. Howe proposed a series of short books to be written by famous contemporary women about women of the past. She approached three separate academic presses. But when they turned her down, she went wider, even taking her idea to Bob Silvers, the founding editor of The New York Review of Books. While the people she spoke with were excited by the idea, the financial managers were decidedly not; there was, she was told, “no money in it.”According to her lengthy 2011 autobiography, “A Life in Motion,” Ms. Howe wasted no time on disappointment, instead pivoting to publish the series herself with her husband’s help. She credits her husband with the concept as well as the name, the Feminist Press. “I could call it the Feminist Press, since he would be a part of it, and feminist was a non-gendered word that included men,” she wrote.ImageCredit...Robert M. KleinNews of the Press spread quickly. “Word traveled very fast even though we had no fax, no email, no computers,” Ms. Howe recounted in an interview to mark her 90th birthday. I said, “If at least 25 people show up” to my house in Maryland, “and they agree to meet at least twice a month, we’ll have a feminist press.”Fifty people showed up.The Press’s original mandate was to unearth forgotten female writers for the purpose of academic study. “What I wanted were books that could be used in the classroom,” Ms. Howe said in an interview last summer for this story, conducted with the help of Jisu Kim, a senior staffer at the Feminist Press. “Always, that was my goal.”Many “really important books” had gone out of print simply because they were written by women, says Jennifer Baumgardner, executive director and publisher of the press from 2013 to 2017.First up was Rebecca Harding Davis’s novella “Life in the Iron Mills,” originally published anonymously in The Atlantic Monthly in 1861. Next, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” by Charlotte Perkins Stetson (also: Charlotte Perkins Gilman), a title that languished in obscurity after its publication in The New England Magazine in 1892, but is now recognizable to nearly everyone who’s taken a women’s studies course.“Without the Feminist Press, we might not have known that women have always been writing our hearts out,” Gloria Steinem says. “We would have gone on thinking we were inventing the wheel instead of understanding that our mothers and grandmothers had been speeding along on their own. And we definitely wouldn’t have been able to read our counterparts in Africa or Asia.”Soon, then-present-day writers were added to the mix. In 1972, Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English brought their wildly successful self-published pamphlet, “Witches, Midwives & Nurses” to Ms. Howe.“We didn’t even think of going to a commercial publisher,” says Ms. Ehrenreich, the writer and political activist, who later penned the international best seller “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America.” “We wanted to feel very free in what we said.” The Press “was part of our movement as feminists.” More than four decades on, “Witches, Midwives & Nurses” remains the publisher’s strongest seller, a must-read in the midwife community.The press also helped sweep along the rising Second Wave feminist movement. Writers for Ms. Magazine were sent to the Press to publish their long-form work, according to Ms. Steinem.In the subsequent decades, the relevance of the Press followed a similar trajectory to the women’s movement: vibrant and essential at times, then slowly receding from view as the culture turned its attention elsewhere, until the next generation of women emerged with a fresh and urgent mandate to point it in a new direction.Ms. Baumgardner, for instance, describes thinking of the Press as a “very emotionally significant relic” when she first encountered it in the early ’90s, “as opposed to something that I set my watch by.”ImageCredit...Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic, via Getty ImagesBut it changed once again in 2014 when Beyoncé flashed the word FEMINIST behind her at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards. Then followed the election of Donald J. Trump and the global resurgence of the #MeToo movement, which thrust feminism back into the mainstream, along with the Press.“Everybody who had been, ‘Well, at least we don’t use the word “feminist,”’ had to scramble to catch up,” notes Ms. Baumgardner, who emphasized the Feminist Press had long been intersectional in its approach. “It already had all this authority in that space.”Jamia Wilson, who at 37 was named executive director and publisher in 2017 — both the youngest person to ever hold the position and the first Black woman — sees similarities between the era when the Press was founded and the current one, where, she says, “It’s extremely important for us to be an unapologetic feminist voice, no matter what happens.”“When ‘feminist’ was hashtag trending,” stresses Ms. Wilson, “we thought, ‘Great, but we were feminists before this happened.’ And we will continue to carry this mantle. We want everyone to be able to recognize themselves in a book.”Today, the Press employs five full-time staff members, three of whom are editors, and publishes between 15 and 20 titles a year. The offices (when people are able to get back to them) are at the CUNY building on Fifth Avenue in New York City, across the street from the Empire State Building, and above the former location of B. Altman, best known to current generations as the workplace of Mrs. Maisel. In normal years, it also hosts the annual Feminist Power Awards to honor female visionaries in a variety of fields.Unlike many larger publishers, the Press is entirely mission driven, Ms. Wilson says, and this informs everything it does. “Your advance might not have as many zeros as other places,” she says, “but your author care will be unmatched.” She compares the editing process to “going to the gynecologist and they put warm mitts on before they examine you — someone thought about your dignity.”Ms. Wilson also notes that, thanks largely to the political climate, she increasingly “gets the sense that authors like to be associated with the Feminist Press as part of the positioning of their book.”Dr. Brittney Cooper, who co-edited the The Crunk Feminist Collection, comprising essays on intersectionality, feminism, politics and culture based on the popular blog, says she is thankful the Feminist Press chose to publish the collection “without a lot of rigmarole.” It “represented an investment, and making sure that much of the thinking happening in the digital feminist era would be sustained for generations to come.”While the combination of the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests rocked much of the publishing world — independent bookstores, especially, are struggling and the largely white publishing industry has been undergoing a monthslong reckoning — the Press has remained steady. Ms. Wilson credits its long history in “gender justice” spaces, as well as 50 years of dealing with the financial challenges of the nonprofit space.“It’s not the first time we’ve seen adversity and had to work together to transform,” Ms. Wilson says.At the end of September it was announced that Ms. Wilson would be leaving the Press to take over as executive editor at Random House. She says since the announcement the board has been inundated with applications for the role. “I’m excited to see people’s excitement about this opportunity,” Ms. Wilson says. “The minute that we announced, people were like, ‘So how can I apply for that?’”“Feminist institutions are the things left standing after protest goes away,” Dr. Cooper says, “and that longevity gives us an anchor point for each new generation of activists that arises.”Indeed, “It’s a radical act to publish women’s writing,” Ms. Steinem says, “and an equally radical act to keep it in print.”In Her Words is available as a newsletter. 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Africa|Trump Orders All American Troops Out of SomaliaBREAKINGWhile the number of troops — about 700 — is small, it is a continuation of President Trump’s efforts to withdraw the United States from what he has described as endless wars.Credit...Senior Airman Kristin Savage/Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, via Associated PressDec. 4, 2020, 4:38 p.m. ETWASHINGTON — President Trump, continuing his end-of-term troop withdrawals from conflicts around the world, will pull American troops out of Somalia, where they have been involved in trying to push back advances by Islamist insurgents in the Horn of Africa.The Pentagon announced on Friday that virtually all of the approximately 700 troops in Somalia — most Special Operations troops who have been conducting training and counterterrorism missions — will be leaving by Jan. 15, five days before President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is scheduled to be inaugurated.Many of the troops will be “repositioned” to nearby Kenya, a Defense Department official said Friday. It was not immediately clear whether other parts of the American presence in Somalia — such as C.I.A. officers, the ambassador and other State Department diplomats who are based at a heavily fortified bunker at the airport in Mogadishu, the Somali capital — will also withdraw from Somali territory along with the military.The withdrawal from Somalia followed Mr. Trump’s orders to reduce the American presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, and reflected the president’s longstanding desire to end long-running military engagements against Islamist insurgencies in failed and fragile countries in Africa and the Middle East, a grinding mission that has spread since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.The Pentagon pledged that efforts to safeguard American interests would continue.“The U.S. is not withdrawing or disengaging from Africa,” it said in a statement. “We remain committed to our African partners and enduring support through a whole-of-government approach.”The United States will retain the ability to conduct counterterrorism operations in Somalia, especially drone strikes, and to collect early warnings and indicators regarding threats to the United States and allies from militant forces in the country.The mission in Somalia was in the spotlight in recent days, after it was reported that a veteran C.I.A. officer was killed in combat in Somalia, according to current and former American officials. The death already has rekindled debate over American intelligence’s counterterrorism operations in Africa. The officer was a member of the C.I.A.’s paramilitary division, the Special Activities Center, and a former member of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6.The troop withdrawal from Somalia comes just two weeks after Mr. Trump ordered the military to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, halving the number there to just over 2,000. Reductions in the American troop presence in Iraq also are underway.Also this week, the Pentagon policy official overseeing the military’s efforts to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria was fired after a White House appointee told him that the United States had won that war and that his office had been disbanded. The ouster of the official, Christopher P. Maier, the head of the Pentagon’s Defeat ISIS Task Force since March 2017, came just three weeks after Mr. Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and three other Pentagon officials and replaced them with loyalists.Acting Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller, who has been carrying out Mr. Trump’s purge at the Pentagon since he took over from Mr. Esper last month, characterized the moves as reflecting the success of the American-led effort to crush the terrorist state that the Islamic State created in large sections of Iraq and Syria.Defense Department officials familiar with internal deliberations said the Somalia pullout would not apply to American forces stationed in nearby Kenya and Djibouti, where American drones that carry out airstrikes in Somalia are based.Keeping those air bases would mean retaining the military’s ability to use drones to attack militants with the Shabab, a Qaeda-linked terrorist group — at least those deemed to pose a threat to American interests.Exiting foreign conflicts has been a central component of Mr. Trump’s “America First” agenda since he ran for office in 2016. That appeal has particularly animated his base of populist voters, many of them veterans who have grown weary of their roles in longstanding wars. The president views his record on this issue as important to any political future he might pursue.Most American troops in Somalia, the war-torn nation in the Horn of Africa, are Special Operations forces stationed at a small number of bases across the country. Their missions include training and advising Somali Army and counterterrorism troops and conducting kill-or-capture raids of their own targeting Shabab militants.The Pentagon has long argued that the United States can safely leave areas contested by militants when the local governments can safeguard their own territory. Mr. Trump’s order means direct training efforts with Somalia security forces would end.Mr. Trump’s push to leave Somalia before the end of his term comes at a delicate time: Somalia is preparing for parliamentary elections next month and a presidential election scheduled for early February. The removal of American troops could complicate any ability to keep election rallies and voting safe from Shabab bombers. It also comes at a time of political turmoil in neighboring Ethiopia, whose army has also battled the Shabab.Somalia has faced civil war, droughts and violence from Islamist extremists for years. The United States intervened in the country as peacekeepers, but abandoned it not long after the “Black Hawk Down” battle in 1993, which killed 18 Americans and hundreds of militia fighters.The Shabab, an Islamist terrorist group whose name means “the youth,” emerged around 2007 and have violently vied for control of Somalia with occasional attacks outside its borders, including an attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2013 that killed more than five dozen civilians and a deadly assault on an American air base at Manda Bay, Kenya, in January.Shabab leaders pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda in 2012. In 2016, shortly before leaving office, the Obama administration deemed them part of the congressionally authorized war against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks. Under the Trump administration, the military sharply increased airstrikes targeting Shabab militants.

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WarnerMedia is making a clear bet for 2021: its slate of movies won’t generate the revenue its studio division needs, but it can help boost HBO Max’s long-term success. The company announced yesterday that every one of its 2021 movies will debut on HBO Max in the United States at the same time they play in theaters. They’ll be available for one month, at no extra charge, and available to stream in 4K HDR. It feels like an inevitable shift; COVID-19 cases are surging around the world again, new content on streaming services is drying up, and WarnerMedia needs to figure out a way to keep revenue coming in. Looking at a year where cinemas might not open beyond 25 percent capacity in the United States and where people may not want to sit in a room full of strangers until a vaccine is released, it makes a lot of sense that Warner Bros. is using the opportunity to see how a simultaneous release could benefit HBO Max. It’s still not a great answer for anyone involved. It’s a loss for Warner Bros., it’s a loss for AT&T (which owns WarnerMedia), and it’s a loss for theaters. Warner Bros. is not going to make the revenue per-film it may have through theatrical release in a pre-COVID era. AT&T may lose $1.2 billion, according to analytical firm MoffettNathanson, at a time when the company is saddled with $160 billion of debt that it’s trying to quickly reduce and its pay-TV business is crumbling. Theater chains need big blockbuster and tentpole films to bring people in, but now many of those movies are available for people at home — where’s the incentive to go out when a virus is raging?

But the shift to HBO Max is a bet on long-term growth in streaming offsetting the immediate loss from theatrical and other revenue streams. It’s part of a long-term play at making streaming a primary business for WarnerMedia that’s been accelerated by the effects of the pandemic. This does come with some downfalls that are impossible to ignore: In 2019, Warner Bros. was the top earner for WarnerMedia, bringing in $14.4 billion — just under 50 percent of all revenues within the division. Some of it was from the box office, but a lot of it came from home video purchases and syndication. Since HBO Max is paying Warner Bros. for the rights to the films, it’s not additional revenue but shifting catalogs between one WarnerMedia property to another.WarnerMedia has been having problems growing its streaming service as fast as competitors like Disney. Part of that is that HBO Max is not available on Roku (something the team is working on), but part of it is a lack of event-type films to bring people in. By moving titles to HBO Max at the same time they’re in theaters, WarnerMedia gives current subscribers a reason to stay, and it’s hoping large swaths of new customers will sign up and keep paying $15 a month.“We’re going to have some really good content here that’s spoiling and can be used for other purposes,” AT&T CEO John Stankey said in an interview with The Washington Post on Friday. Disney saw similar success with Hamilton, a movie that brought in a large number of Disney Plus subscribers, and the number of people canceling their subscriptions remained relatively low even months after. If WarnerMedia can recreate that success — signing up millions of people every month with a big title, without seeing them later unsubscribe — could the long-term recurring revenue offset initial losses and put HBO Max in a truly competitive spot with other streaming platforms? That seems to be part of the bet. 2021 is going to be a rough year for studios regardless of the pandemic. There are currently 55 major features scheduled to open in 2021. Between May 28th and July 16th — a period of seven weeks that features big releases from every major studio — there are several blockbusters competing for people’s attention and money. Warner Bros.’ Godzilla vs. Kong will take on Disney’s Black Widow in early May, and then there’s F9, In the Heights, Venom: Let There be Carnage, Top Gun: Maverick, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and Uncharted to name a few more. Warner Bros. has 17 movies in 2021 — not all of those were going to be $800 million to $1 billion successes. Some may have actually lost money. This helps build a streaming business, even if it means sacrificing a few that may have done very well.

As 2021 currently stands, most movies are going to lose out because the competition is too big in a tight space. Plus, theaters may still be operating at far less capacity (as recommended by the CDC) in COVID-19 times, locations could remain closed in prime markets like New York City and Los Angeles, and people still might not feel comfortable returning to theaters. Add in that attendance was dwindling before the pandemic: in 2019, movie theater attendance per capita was at a century low, the number of young people going to theaters throughout the year is declining (despite this being the bracket that consumes the most content), and more than half of “frequent” moviegoers have stopped going as much, according to analyst Matthew Ball.WarnerMedia and AT&T were likely planning for losses regardless of skipping theaters, but it seems like they’re trying to reposition some of that loss into potential impactful growth for HBO Max. Christopher Nolan’s Tenet showed that there’s room for studios to take different approaches internationally and in the US. Internationally, where more theaters were open and coronavirus cases weren’t as large, the movie performed well, generating $300.4 million, but in the United States the film only amassed $57 million. Growing HBO Max in the United States and exploring more traditional revenue options internationally is a combination executives seem willing to take a bet on. No one really knows if this is going to work. Shareholders don’t, executives don’t, industry insiders don’t — but people know something has to happen. WarnerMedia isn’t in a position to hope for the best with its movies while also trying to figure out how to grow HBO Max. The simplest thing to do — not the easiest, and not necessarily the most immediately beneficial — is to take a year of likely losses theatrically and use it to scale HBO Max as quickly as possible in 12 months. Don’t be surprised when Disney announces it’s doing something similar next week.








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Rudy Guede, the only person definitively convicted of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher, has been granted permission by an Italian court to finish the rest of his sentence doing community service.Guede, 34, was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2008. Kercher, a 21-year-old student from Coulsdon, Surrey, was murdered in her home in the university town of Perugia in November 2007. Her body was found in her bedroom, partly undressed with multiple stab wounds. She had also been sexually assaulted.The convictions of two other suspects, Amanda Knox, an American student who shared the house with Kercher, and her Italian former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were overturned.Guede had already been given partial prison release in 2017 and until the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic had been working in the library of a criminology centre in the Lazio town of Viterbo. Umbria24 reported that the centre closed because of the pandemic and that Guede then began working as a volunteer for the Catholic charity, Caritas. Rome’s surveillance court has now entrusted him to social services in what his lawyer, Fabrizio Ballarini, said was a sign of Guede’s “high level of social integration” and “irreproachable conduct”.Ballarini told Umbria24 that Guede was also completing a master’s in historical sciences at Roma Tre university. Ballarini said the court’s decision was a “milestone” for Guede, who is “calm and socially well integrated”.Knox and Sollecito spent four years in prison after initially being convicted of Kercher’s murder. For Knox, three of those years was for a defamation conviction received after she wrongly accused Patrick Lumumba, a bar owner, of the crime. Lumumba spent two weeks in jail and was only released after someone came forward with an alibi for him.Knox and Sollecito were acquitted in 2011 before being convicted again in 2014 by an appeals court in Florence, which ruled that the multiple injuries inflicted on Kercher’s body proved that Guede could not have acted alone. Italy’s highest court overturned the decision in a definitive ruling in 2015, because of what it described as “stunning flaws” in the investigation that led to the convictions of Knox and Sollecito.

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Screenshot: PlayStation Studios / Bluepoint GamesAfter weeks of speculation, we finally have an answer regarding those loud, seemingly random sound effects haunting the Demon’s Souls remake: Sony told Kotaku they’re a glitch, nothing more.Since the game’s release last month, Demon’s Souls players have documented several instances of odd, clanging sounds that didn’t exist in the original, ringing out in various areas of the remake. While many (myself included) wrote off these out-of-place noises as an unintended bug, they managed to survive a handful of post-release updates. And they even seemed to be increasing in frequency and strength over the last few days.For example, this is what these noises sounded like the day Demon’s Souls launched, courtesy of Souls archaeologist Lance McDonald:And here’s the racket they’re making now, as captured by political commentator Hasan Piker on Twitch:G/O Media may get a commissionIn lieu of an official explanation, Demon’s Souls players naturally crafted several theories about what these noises might mean. Early on, some thought it could possibly be an indicator that the World Tendency mechanic was being altered online, sort of how you might hear other players ring the Bells of Awakening in Dark Souls. Others thought the sound effects were tied to the mysterious hidden door before it was eventually unlocked.The most interesting hypothesis, however, connected the remake to original Demon’s Souls developer From Software’s next game, the highly anticipated Elden Ring. Many believed the metallic clanging heard throughout the remake were the same noises made by the blacksmith in the opening of the Elden Ring reveal video from E3 2019. Take a listen:It was a wild theory, for sure, but it had one glaring hole: From Software, from what we can tell, wasn’t involved with the Demon’s Souls remake. Why would the studio use it as a vehicle to tease an upcoming project?That said, I completely understand why comparisons were made. Information-starved fans are looking for any new morsels to get excited about after From Software’s year of radio silence on Elden Ring, so much so that a simple acknowledgement of the game’s existence last month was enough to rile people up. It’s easy to make a connection when you’re hoping for something, anything new about an upcoming game.Thanks to players figuring out how to acquire the Providential Ring earlier this week, these sound effects were one of the last lingering Demon’s Souls mysteries still waiting to be solved. The cynic in me is satisfied with this conclusion, but the Souls fan in me is bummed that there isn’t something more meaningful happening here.Sony also told Kotaku that the team is looking into a fix for these audio glitches, so enjoy them while you can.

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spying eyes —

Privacy-minded lawmakers want feds to have to get warrants for web browsing data.




The federal government gathered up visitor logs for some websites in 2019, the Office of Director of National Intelligence disclosed in letters made public this week. And the feds cited authority derived from a provision of the Patriot Act to do it.Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe confirmed these actions in a November 6 letter to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), part of an exchange (PDF) first obtained and published by the New York Times. The exchange begins with a May 20 letter from Wyden to the ODNI asking then-director Richard Grenell to explain if and how the federal government uses section 215 of the Patriot Act to obtain IP addresses and other Web browsing information. At the time, the Senate had just passed legislation re-authorizing the law. Wyden was among the privacy advocates in the Senate pushing to amend the law to prevent the FBI from using Section 215 to obtain users' search and browsing histories, but his measure did not succeed.Ratcliffe's response to Wyden, six months later, said that the FBI did not use section 215 authority to harvest Internet search terms, and he added that of the 61 orders issued in 2019 (prior to the law's expiration in March of this year), none involved "the production of any information regarding Web browsing or Internet searches."However, on November 25, Ratcliffe sent another letter to Wyden to "amend" his previous response. As it turns out, one of those 61 orders did indeed result in the FBI gaining access to "information that could be characterized as information regarding 'Web browsing.'" Specifically, federal investigators collected log entries for "a single, identified US Web page" showing IP addresses that accessed it from "a specified foreign country." The document names neither the site nor the country in question.The amended letter "raises all kinds of new questions, including whether, in this particular case, the government has taken steps to avoid collecting Americans’ Web browsing information," Wyden said in a statement. The senator added, "the DNI has provided no guarantee that the government wouldn’t use the Patriot Act to intentionally collect Americans’ web browsing information in the future," and he urged Congress to pass an amendment he proposed earlier this year. What now?The Patriot Act, including section 215, was first adopted in October, 2001, in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Section 215 specifically allows the FBI to obtain an order from a secret court known as FISA—the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court—to collect any records it deems relevant to a national security investigation. This particular provision of law rocketed to visibility after Edward Snowden made his infamous leaks way back in 2013. In 2014, the list of records subject to collection under section 215 included not only phone and Internet data, but also some library records, tax returns, some medical records, financial information, credit card purchases, and a whole litany of other data points. The broad authority granted to federal investigators under section has remained controversial in the years since it entered the public awareness. Section 215 expired in March, however, and still has not been renewed.The Senate passed its version of a re-authorization bill on May 14. Wyden and Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) had initially put forth a bipartisan amendment that would limit the government's ability to conduct warrantless searches of America's browsing and search histories. Their measure received 59 votes, but in the hyper-partisan, dysfunctional modern era that did not put them over the 60-vote threshold necessary to avoid filibuster, and the amendment failed. The bill the Senate did pass, 80-16, did not include that privacy provision.We have a bicameral legislature, and so the House was making progress on its version of a bill by May 26, with strong support from Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) to add a privacy amendment in line with the one that didn't make it into the final Senate bill. On May 27, however, President Donald Trump threw the whole process into chaos when he abruptly urged Republicans not to support a reauthorization at all.That proved to be more or less the end of the matter for, apparently, this entire Congress. It remains unclear to what degree the upcoming administration of President-Elect Joe Biden will pursue the matter, especially as the party makeup of the incoming Senate will not be known until after the January 5 runoff election in Georgia.



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Art & Design|California Monolith Is Removed and Replaced With a CrossA group of young men chanting “Christ is king!” drove five hours to dismantle the third shiny metal structure to mysteriously appear in the last few weeks, leaving a wooden cross in its place.Credit...Kaytlyn Leslie/The Tribune (of San Luis Obispo), via Associated PressDec. 4, 2020Updated 4:22 p.m. ETHow the third monolith to crop up in the past month arrived atop Pine Mountain in Atascadero, Calif., where it was discovered by a hiker on Wednesday, remains a mystery.How it left is no secret: Several young men who officials said had apparently driven five hours from Southern California livestreamed themselves tearing out the shiny, three-sided steel structure in Stadium Park early Thursday morning, and then leaving a plywood cross behind in its place.“Christ is king!” the men, wearing night vision goggles and camo gear, chanted in the grainy video as they toppled the shiny structure, in a video that was posted to the streaming site DLive.tv by someone using the name CultureWarCriminal, but later removed, according to The San Luis Obispo Tribune. The Tribune described the video as “at times racist and homophobic” and said that the men sang along to country songs.One of the men said in the video that they removed the structure to “tell the alien overlords they are not welcome,” according to The Tribune. Another claimed they were operating “on direct orders of QAnon and President Trump himself,” referring to the conspiracy theory that falsely claims Mr. Trump is being undermined by a group of Democratic pedophiles. More than 600 people were watching at one point, according to the paper.A second video posted shortly after the first showed the men dragging the monolith down the hill while shouting “America first!” and referring to themselves as military veterans, according to the paper.The California monolith had been the third shiny metal structure to crop up in the past month. The first structure, which captured wide attention, was discovered in a remote section of the Utah desert on Nov. 18, and was initially believed to be the work of the Minimalist sculptor John McCracken — or aliens.Four men dismantled the Utah curiosity that had captivated the country just 10 days after it arrived, but not before it appeared to spawn copycats. A second structure popped up in the mountains of Romania on Nov. 26, shortly before the disappearance of the one in Utah. But the Romanian monolith also vanished on Tuesday, the Reuters news agency reported from Bucharest.Like the structure in Romania, the California structure appears to be a copycat of the original in Utah. It stood about 10 feet tall and weighed an estimated 200 pounds, according to the City of Atascadero. While the Utah structure was firmly mounted, The Atascadero News reported that the California monolith was a little wobbly and it seemed that it would be possible to push it over.Atascadero officials had previously marveled at the monolith’s arrival. Terrie Banish, deputy city manager of the small town of around 30,000 people on the central California coast, said in an interview on Thursday morning that whoever had installed it would have had to hike up to the site, which has an elevation of about 1,300 feet and is approximately two miles from the nearest parking lot.On Thursday afternoon, city officials lamented its removal.“We are upset that these young men felt the need to drive five hours to come into our community and vandalize the monolith,” the mayor of Atascadero, Heather Moreno, said in a release. “The monolith was something unique and fun in an otherwise stressful time.”The city’s police department remained unsure who installed the monolith and was reviewing the video and looking into the incident further, according to the release.Serge Kovaleski contributed reporting.

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Regnery Publishing



The following is an excerpt from "Big White Ghetto: Dead Broke, Stone-Cold Stupid, and High on Rage in the Dank Woolly Wilds of the "Real America"" by Kevin D. Williamson."Dogfood—yeah, dogfood—because it looks like ground-up dog food.” He’s embarrassed to be talking about this. “Or sand, because it’s brown. Or diesel. Or killa or 9-1-1. That’s the influence of rap culture down here.” He is a young, clean-cut, Eagle Scout–ish white kid, hesitant about using the words “rap culture,” like he’s not sure if he’s allowed to say that. But he goes on, matter-of-factly. He’s been off heroin for only a few months, so the details are fresh in his mind, even if he remains a little hazy on parts of his autobiographical timeline. “The 9-1-1, they call it that because they want you to know it’s potent, that you’ll have to go to the emergency room.”That’s a weird and perverse and nasty kind of advertising, but then dope-buying psychology isn’t very much like Volvo-buying psychology: Crashing is just another part of the ride. One spiteful dealer boasts about spiking his product with excessive amounts of fentanyl—a pharmaceutical analgesic used for burn victims and cancer patients—his plan being to intentionally send overdosed users to the hospital or the morgue . . . for marketing purposes. Once the word got out about the hideous strength of his product, that killa went right out the door ricky-tick.The young man explaining the current vocabulary of opiate addiction in Birmingham is barely old enough to buy a beer, and his face and voice are soft. He describes the past several years of his life: “dope-sick and stealing,” going from job to job—eight jobs in six months—robbing his employers of everything not physically nailed to the floor, alienating his family, descending. He was an addict on a mission: “You’re always chasing that first shot of dope, that first high—and the first one for me almost killed me. I was seventeen or eighteen years old, and I met a guy who had just got out of prison, doing a thirteen-year sentence for heroin possession and distribution. He was staying at the Oak Mountain Lodge, which is a nice little classic place.” (In 2013, four police officers and a drug dog had to be treated for exposure to dangerous chemicals after raiding a suspected meth lab in that hotel; the customer reviews online are decidedly mixed.) “I was snorting heroin when I met up with him, and set him up with my connect. He offered to shoot me up, and I wanted to do it. And I remember him looking me in the eyes and telling me, ‘If you do this, you’ll never stop, and you’ll never go back.’ And I said, ‘Let’s do it.’”He doesn’t know what happened for the next several hours. When he regained consciousness, his junkie buddy’s girlfriend was worriedly ministering to him.“That was first thing in the morning,” he says. “That night, I did another one.”Same results. “I’d nodded out from snorting it, but there’s nothing like shooting it.”He was, he says, a “pretty good junkie” for a time.This particular opiate odyssey starts off in a Walgreens, something that turns out to be absolutely appropriate. I’m headed up the south coast and then inland on the heroin highway up to Atlanta, starting from the Port of Houston, which connects that city with 1,053 ports in nearly 200 countries and which in December alone welcomed the equivalent of 63,658 20-foot cargo containers of goods into the United States. There was, the feds are pretty sure, some dope squirreled away in there. In fact, all sorts of interesting stuff comes in and out of Houston. In May, U.S. Customs seized a Fast Attack Vehicle with gun mounts headed to the Netherlands. It hadn’t been ordered by the Dutch military. (Organized crime in the Netherlands is bananas: A raid in the summer of 2020 found Dutch police opening up a shipping container expecting to find it loaded with narcotics or stolen goods, but what they found instead was a dentist’s chair bolted to the floor and handcuffs hanging overhead—it was set up as a mobile torture chamber, God knows why.) I’m at Walgreens because I’ve got a long drive ahead and I’m going to be out of pocket for a bit, and I have a prescription to fill: an honest-to-goodness Schedule II Controlled Substance, in the official nomenclature, a term that covers some pretty interesting stuff, including the oxycodone and fentanyl I’ll be hearing so much about in the next few days. Some of us are going to heaven, some of us are going to hell, but all of us have to stop at Walgreens first.The clerk is on the phone with a doctor’s office: “What’s your DEA number?”For working-class white guys who haven’t found their way into the good jobs in the energy economy or the related manufacturing and construction booms that have reverberated throughout the oil patch, who aren’t college-bound or in possession of the skills to pay the bills, things aren’t looking so great: While much of the rest of the world gets healthier and longer-lived, the average life expectancy for white American men without college educations is declining. Angus Deaton, the Princeton economist who won the Nobel Prize in 2015, ran the numbers and found (in a study co-authored by his Princeton colleague Anne Case) that what’s killing what used to be the white working class isn’t diabetes or heart disease or the consumption of fatty foods and Big Gulps that so terrifies Michael Bloomberg, but alcohol-induced liver failure, along with overdoses of opioid prescription painkillers and heroin: Wild Turkey and hillbilly heroin, and regular old heroin, too, the use of which has increased dramatically in recent years as medical and law-enforcement authorities crack down on the wanton overprescription of oxy and related painkillers.Which is to say: While we were ignoring criminally negligent painkiller prescriptions, we helped create a gigantic population of opioid addicts, and then, when we started paying attention, the first thing we did was take away the legal (and quasi-legal) stuff produced to exacting clinical standards by Purdue Pharma (maker of OxyContin) and others. So: lots of opiate addicts, fewer prescription opiates.What was left was diesel, sand—dogfood.The clerks at this Walgreens are super friendly, but the place is set up security-wise like a bank, and that’s to be expected. This particular location was knocked over by a young white man with a gun the summer before last, an addict who had been seen earlier lurking around the CVS down the road. This is how you know you’re a pretty good junkie: The robber walked in and pointed his automatic at the clerk and demanded oxy first, then a bottle of Tusinex cough syrup, and then, almost as an afterthought, the $90 in the till. Walgreens gets robbed a lot: In January, armed men stormed the Walgreens in Edina, Minnesota, and stole $8,000 worth of drugs, mainly oxy. In October, a sneaky young white kid in an Iowa State sweatshirt made off with more than $100,000 worth of drugs—again, mainly oxy and related opioid painkillers, from a Walgreens in St. Petersburg, Florida. Other Walgreens locations—in Liberty, Kansas; East Bradford, Pennsylvania; Elk Grove, California; Kaysville, Utah; Virginia Beach; New Orleans—all have been hit by armed robbers or sneak thieves over the past year or so, and there have been many more oxy thefts.It won’t make the terrified clerks feel any better, but there’s poetic justice in that: In 2013, Walgreens paid the second-largest fine ever imposed under the Controlled Substances Act for being so loosey-goosey in handling oxy at its distribution center in Jupiter, Florida, that it enabled untold quantities of the stuff to reach the black market. The typical pharmacy sells 73,000 oxycodone pills a year; six Walgreens in Florida were going through more than 1 million pills a year—each. A few years before that, Purdue was fined $634.5 million for misleading the public about the addictiveness of oxycodone. Kentucky, which has been absolutely ravaged by opiate addiction, is still pursuing litigation against Purdue, and it has threatened to take its case all the way to the Supreme Court, if it comes to that.Ground Zero in the opiate epidemic isn’t some exotic Taliban-managed poppy field or some cartel boss’s fortified compound: It’s right there at Walgreens, in the middle of every city and town in the country.I pick up my prescription and get on my way.The next afternoon, having driven past billboards advertising boudin and strip joints with early-bird lunch specials and casino after casino after sad little casino; help-wanted signs for drilling-fluid businesses and the Tiger Truck Stop (which has a twenty-four-hour Cajun café and an actual no-kidding live tiger in a cage out front); past Whiskey Bay and Contraband Bayou, where the pirate Jean Lafitte once stashed his booty; around the Port of New Orleans, another entrepôt for heroin and cocaine—it is almost as close to Cartagena as it is to New York—I arrive at a reasonably infamous New Orleans drug corner, where I inquire as discreetly as I can about the availability of prescription painkillers, which are getting harder and harder to find on the street.Until recently, this particular area was under the control of an energetic fellow called “Dumplin,” who, judging from his police photos, isn’t nearly so cute and approachable as that nickname would suggest. Dumplin ran a gang called 3NG, which presumably stands for “Third and Galvez,” the nearby intersection that constituted the center of his business empire.1 In March, Dumplin went away on three manslaughter charges and a raft of drug-conspiracy complaints. The opiate trade doesn’t seem to have noticed. Little teams of two or three loiter in residential doorways, and business gets done. Who is running the show now? Somebody knows.Everybody has heroin, but my inquiry about oxy is greeted as a breach of protocol by my not especially friendly neighborhood drug dealer, who doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who suffers breaches of protocol lightly. He looks at me with exactly the sort of contempt one would expect from a captain of an industry that uses lethal overdoses as a marketing gimmick.“This ain’t Walgreens, motherfucker.”“We partner with Walgreens.” If Dr. Peter DeBlieux sometimes sounds as if he’s seen it all, it’s possible that he has. As his name suggests, he’s a New Orleans local, and he has been practicing medicine in the city long enough to have seen earlier heroin epidemics. Now the chief medical officer and medical-staff president at University Medical Center, he speaks with some authority on how changes in global heroin logistics affect conditions in his emergency rooms, which have just seen a 250 percent spike in opiate-overdose cases in one month.“The first time we’d seen these numbers is when the heroin supply chain moved from the Orient to South America. Before that, New Orleans’s supply traditionally came with everybody else’s supply, from the Far East through New York, and then down to us. By the time it got to New Orleans, it was adulterated, much less pure. But then competitors from South America began bringing heroin along the same routes used to import cocaine. They brought a purer product, which meant more overdoses requiring rescue.” That was in the late 1980s and early 1990s, right around the time when our self-appointed media scolds were bewailing the “heroin chic” in Calvin Klein fashion shoots and celebrity junkie Kurt Cobain was nodding off during publicity events.The current spike in overdoses is related to a couple of things. One proximate cause is the increased use of fentanyl to spike heroin. Heroin, like Johnnie Walker, is a blend: The raw stuff is cut with fillers to increase the volume, and then that diluted product is spiked with other drugs to mask the effects of dilution. Enter the fentanyl. Somebody, somewhere, has got his hands on a large supply of the stuff, either hijacked from legitimate pharmaceutical manufacturers or produced in some narco black site in Latin America or China for the express purpose of turbocharging heroin. (Where did it come from? Somebody knows.) Fentanyl, on its own, isn’t worth very much on the street: It might get you numb, but it really doesn’t get you high, and such pleasures as are to be derived from its recreational use are powerfully offset by its tendency to kill you dead. But if the blend is artfully done, then fentanyl can make stepped-on heroin feel more potent than it is. If the blend isn’t right. . . medical personnel are known to refer to that as a “clean kill.”New Orleans has taken some steps to try to get ahead of this mess. One of the things that the city’s health providers had been experimenting with was giving addicts and their families prescriptions for naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, which is the anti-intoxicant used to reverse the effects of opiates in people who have overdosed. Put another way: The best clinical thinking at the moment—the top idea among our best and brightest white-coated elite—is to help junkies pre-plan their overdoses. If that’s shocking and depressing, what’s more shocking and depressing is that it really is needful. Essential, even. A few other cities have experimented with it, too, and not long after my conversation with Dr. DeBlieux, New Orleans’s top health officials handed down an emergency order to make Narcan available over the counter. Jeffrey Elder, the city’s director of emergency medical services, said that with the New Orleans emergency rooms seeing as many as ten opiate overdoses a day, the step was necessary. Dr. DeBlieux’s emergency rooms saw seven overdose deaths in January alone.There are stirrings of awareness in high places about heroin’s most recent ferocious comeback, but it has taken a while. Congress held hearings, and Senator Kelly Ayotte, the charismatic young New Hampshire Republican, introduced the Heroin and Prescription Opioid Abuse Prevention, Education, and Enforcement Act of 2015, currently on ice in the Judiciary Committee. That bill would . . . convene a task force.Dr. DeBlieux compares the public perception of heroin to the public perception of AIDS (the issues are not entirely unrelated) a generation ago: It is seen as a problem for deviants. AIDS was for perverts who liked to have anonymous sex with men at highway rest stops, and heroin is a problem for toothless pillbillies who turn to the needle after running out of oxy and for whores and convicts and menacing black men in New Orleans ghettos. Heroin, this line of thinking goes, is a problem for people who deserve it.“Nobody cares, because of who is affected,” Dr. DeBlieux says—or who is perceived to be affected. “There are two problems with that. One, it’s unethical. Two, it isn’t true.” It isn’t just the born-to-lose crowd and career criminals and deviants and undesirables. It’s working-class white men and college-bound suburban kids, too.Dr. DeBlieux and his colleagues are doing what they can to minimize the damage. University Medical Center distributes that Narcan through a private embedded pharmacy in the hospital, operated by—you won’t be surprised—Walgreens.Odyssey House is not a happy place. It’s a necessary place.I arrive too early for my appointment, so I have a look around the neighborhood. It is downscale, and there definitely is a little bit of unlicensed pharmaceutical trade being transacted nearby, but it’s far from the worst I’ve seen in New Orleans. I decide to go pick up some extra notebooks, and I end up—inevitably—at Walgreens. There are 8,173 Walgreens locations filling 894 million prescriptions a year, and that big ol’ record-book fine doesn’t look big up against $77 billion in sales a year. CVS does $140 billion a year, filling one-third of all U.S. pharmaceutical prescriptions. In a country of 319 million, there were 259 million opiate-painkiller prescriptions written last year. There were 47,000 lethal overdoses in the U.S. in 2014, almost 30,000 of which were prescription painkillers and heroin. Some 94 percent of heroin users told researchers that they got into heroin because the pills they started on became too expensive or too difficult to find, whereas heroin is cheap and plentiful. How do we keep up with all those pills? Where do they go? Somebody knows. It’s been only two weeks since there was an armed robbery of a Walgreens in New Orleans, but it wasn’t this one. That one is about 20 minutes away.I park my car on the street across from Odyssey House, down the block from a sign advertising free HIV screening, and an older white man comes out of his home to stand on the porch, staring at me. He’s still there, still staring, when I go inside the building across the street.Odyssey House is the largest addiction-treatment facility in Louisiana, treating about seven hundred people a month, about half of them from greater New Orleans. It was founded in response to New Orleans’s first major heroin epidemic, some forty-five years ago. Its clients are predominantly male, and about half of them are white in a city that isn’t. About 50 percent of its clients are there on court orders; the other half have simply decided that they want to live. Its CEO, Ed Carlson, has a master’s in clinical psychology and not many kind words for Louisiana’s former governor, conservative health-policy wonk Bobby Jindal. It’s partly a familiar complaint—Jindal’s rejection of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act means that about 90 percent of Odyssey House’s patients have to be covered by general state funds, which are scarce. But it’s also an illustration of one of the hidden costs of privatizing public-health services: the transfer of administrative costs from state agencies onto third parties, including nonprofits such as Odyssey House. “Under the privatization of the Bayou Health plans,” Carlson says, “it’s like this: I have a guy who shows up, who’s a heroin addict, who’s been in and out of the criminal justice system, maybe a twenty-year heroin addict, maybe semi-homeless, and he wants to get off heroin in our detox. And I have to spend an hour explaining to [insurance bureaucrats] why this guy needs treatment, usually with someone who doesn’t understand treatment at all.” That meant hiring more administrative help. “What it did was, it shot up our costs. Now we have people who all they do all day long is sit down and try to convince somebody that this person needs treatment. And they’ll say, ‘Has he tried outpatient?’ He’s a heroin addict. He’s homeless. He’s here at our door. I don’t have a problem justifying to them that a person needs services, but, once we’ve justified it, then let’s go with the level of services that a medical professional recommends.”Outpatient treatment? Heroin addicts as a class don’t have a real good record for keeping appointments.Odyssey’s program is intensive: It begins with a medically supported detox program, which isn’t all that critical for opiate addicts (the popular image of the effects of heroin withdrawal are theatrically exaggerated, as Theodore Dalrymple documented in his classic on the subject, Romancing Opiates) but which is absolutely necessary for alcohol withdrawal, which can be fatal. And the reality is that most heroin addicts drink their fair share, too. Detox is followed by a twenty-eight-day residential program, followed by housing support and an outpatient program. Odyssey has primary-care physicians and psychiatrists on staff, a separate residential program for adolescents, and more. They aren’t promiscuous with the money—for example, they don’t send methamphetamine addicts to detox, because their withdrawal lasts only a few hours and its main effects are discomfort and a few days of insomnia— but, even so, all this treatment gets expensive, and the city of New Orleans kicks in the princely sum of $0.00 in municipal money for these services, with the exception of some pass-through money from state and federal agencies.The medical consensus is that this sort of treatment provides the best chance for helping some—fewer than you’d think—of the chronically addicted, homeless and semi-homeless, destitute, low-bottom population. There’s no cheap way to do it. “There’s really only two things we know, from a scientific standpoint, about addiction,” Carlson says. “The first thing we know is that when a person has a problem with addiction and they have that moment, that break in the wall of denial—if they can access treatment at that point, then they’re more likely to engage in the treatment process and to be more serious about it. The other thing we know is that the longer we keep people in treatment, the longer they’re going to stay clean and sober.”In total, it costs just under $1 million a month to run Odyssey House and provide those services to its seven hundred or so patients. And what do the funding agencies get for that money? A one-year success rate of a little more than 50 percent—which is significantly better than that of most comparable programs. Beyond that one year? No one really knows. “The fact is that most people who need addiction treatment don’t really want it,” Carlson says.It isn’t clear that there really is a solution to the opiate epidemic, but if there is, there’s one thing you can be sure of: It is going to cost a great deal of money. “We have waiting lists for all our programs,” Carlson says with a slight grimace. “We could probably double in size and still have waiting lists.”Homelessness in New Orleans isn’t the only model of heroin addiction, or even the most prevalent one. Up in the land of Whole Foods and Starbucks and yoga studios in one of the nicer parts of Birmingham, it looks like a different world. But it isn’t. More white people, more Volvos—same junkies.Danny Malloy doesn’t sound like he belongs here. He has a heavy Boston accent, and he still shakes his head at some aspects of life in the South: “We measure snow in feet up there, but it’s inches down here,” he scoffs. There’s a little snow blowing around, and a few streaks of white on the grass. “No plows, no salt trucks, and nobody knows how to drive in it.” He ended up in Alabama the way people end up places. His parents were divorced when he was very young, his alcoholic father eventually sent him to live with an aunt, and he later sought out his estranged mother in Birmingham. “I didn’t know her,” he says. He was already a blackout drunk and had found his way to the pills, which he was both consuming and dealing.“I never realized I had a problem. I thought I was having a good time. I got into prescription pills. I really liked them—I mean like really liked them. It took probably three years of me dabbling in those before I was fully addicted, and every day I had to have Lortabs. I got into OxyContin and was selling those. I got set up by someone and sold to an undercover police officer. So I was arrested for distribution, and I was facing time. At that point, someone came along and said, ‘These pills are expensive, and you can’t sell them anymore. So why don’t you do heroin?’ I said I would never do that. I don’t want to use a needle. But, eventually, like a good drug addict, I was like, ‘Let me try that.’ The rest was history. I’ve been to fifteen or twenty rehabs, including psychiatric hospitals, arrests, detoxes, methadone rehabs. I couldn’t get rid of it. I did that for about seven years. Things got . . . really bad.” He’d been a college student, majoring in “whatever started at noon,” but he ended up being kicked out. “The first time I ever thought maybe I had a problem was when I got arrested and my face was down in a puddle with a cop on my back. That’s what it took.” Eventually, he put himself on a Greyhound and checked into the Foundry, a Christian rehab facility. “I never looked back. I turned my life over to God, and he took away the desire to use.” He pauses as if reconsidering what he’s said. “It isn’t magic.”Alabama doctors write more opiate prescriptions per capita than those of any other state. And where there is oxy, there will be dogfood. “The pills lead to heroin,” Malloy says. “You see these doctors getting arrested for running a pill mill. Well, they have hundreds of people they’re prescribing to, and when they tighten down on that, the next thing is the heroin.”Far from being an inner-city problem and a poor white problem, heroin is if anything more prevalent in some of the wealthier areas around Birmingham, says Drew Callner, another recovering addict and a volunteer at the Addiction Prevention Coalition in Birmingham, a faith-based organization aimed at realistic preventative measures and connecting addicts with recovery resources. “Heroin is easier to get, and it’s cheaper.” Callner’s father was a child psychologist, he was planning on becoming one himself, and he was a trust-funder—twice. “Yeah, I blew through two trusts,” he says, snorting.He’d been a Marine and wanted to become a firefighter, but the only thing he could commit to for the long term—fifteen years—was oxy and heroin. Beyond the depleted trust funds, the deficit that seems to weigh on him most heavily is that of time. He is thirty-two years old and has spent nearly half of his life as an active drug user. “Going back to school is interesting,” he says. “I’m in some English 101 class at 8:30 in the morning, that I’ve taken four or five times”—there were five or six colleges, and five rehabs in four years—“and I’m in there with a bunch of eighteen and nineteen-year-olds. It’s humbling. Humiliating. But when you get sober, you need something to ground you.”He’d derailed his life before it had really gotten underway, but his roommates in his last residential program—which he got out of just last week, with seven months’ sobriety—were a personal-injury attorney, a senior banker, and an accountant.“And then there was me. ”They call it the “red flag.” Some heroin addicts fall in love with the ritual of shooting up. Some of them have been known to shoot up when they don’t have any heroin, just to feel the calming presence of the needle in the arm. The ritual is familiar enough to anybody who has spent any time in that world: You put the chunk of tar or bit of powder in the spoon, squirt a little water in with the syringe, heat it up to get it to dissolve, drop a little pinch of cotton into the spoon for a filter, pull the heroin solution up through the cotton into the syringe, find a vein— this isn’t always easy, and it gets harder—work the needle in, pull the plunger back . . .And then, you see it: the Red Flag, a little flash of blood that gets pulled into the syringe and lets you know that you have found a vein, that you aren’t about to waste your junk on an intramuscular injection that isn’t going to do anything except burn and waste your money and disappoint you and leave you with a heroin blister. Certain addicts become, for whatever reason, almost as addicted to the needle—and addicted to the Red  Flag, to the sight of their own blood being extracted—as to the heroin itself.“When I couldn’t get heroin, I would just shoot anything,” Malloy says. “I would load up hot water and shoot it, just to feel the needle. I had to load it up and shoot it—it was a routine. So I started shooting Xanax, Klonopin, trying to shoot Vicodin, but that never works.”“I was the opposite,” Callner says. “Every time I shot up, I would hear my mom’s voice, telling me I’m a piece of shit. Plus, I’m not very vascular, so I had to shoot up on the outside of my arm, which meant looking at myself in the mirror. There was just something about that, five or six times a day, looking yourself in the eye and seeing the deterioration. And hating it.”“I remember using dull, dull needles, and having to stab myself until I found a vein,” recovering addict Dalton Smith says. “But I was obsessed with when you got the needle in, and pulling it back and seeing the blood. The red flag.” Smith sometimes shot up imaginary heroin, convinced that bits of carpet lint were heroin. “The fuzz—I remember seeing the fuzz from the carpet in my rig.”None of these guys comes from Heartbreak Hill. Some of them came from some money, came from good schools, went to college, had successful, high-income parents. But there was also divorce and addiction in the family—one young recovering addict is in the precarious situation of having to live with his alcoholic father—and a general sense of directionlessness. They are from that great vast America whose people simultaneously have too much and too little.One or two breaks in a different direction, and Dalton Smith might have been the youth minister at your church. (He still might be.) He’s got that heartbreakingly distinctive shamefacedness that you see whenever you’re around young addicts or young prisoners (there’s some substantial overlap on that Venn diagram) or other young people with woeful self-inflicted injuries, a shadow across the face that says that while he may be trying to have faith in whatever Higher Power that sets His almighty hand on recovering junkies in Alabama, that everything happens for a reason, and that he’s right where he’s supposed to be, he’d really give anything to be able to go back and change one thing on that chain of decisions that led to his messing his life up nearly irreparably before he was old enough to rent a car from Avis. He’s twenty-two years old. There’s a long chain of bad decisions that goes back to the beginning of his self-destructive career as a drug addict, and at its beginning is a twelve-year-old child. Ten years later, he knows a lot of words for heroin.“Down here, they sometimes call it 'boy'."Kevin D. Williamson is a reporter and columnist for National Review. He has written for the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Indian Express, Playboy, The New Criterion, Academic Questions, and Commentary, and for an infamous three days he was a staff writer at The Atlantic. He has taught at Hillsdale and the King’s College and writes a regular column for the New York Post. His previous books include "The Smallest Minority: Independent Thinking in the Age of Mob Politics".


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Divers clearing out a sprawl of abandoned fishing nets stuck in the Baltic Sea discovered more than they bargained for when they spotted an Enigma Machine, a device that encrypted secret messages used by the Germans in World War II. The leftover relic is a prized possession for history buffs and cryptography geeks. Pristine machines that are still functional can fetch several hundred thousand dollars. The one spotted by the divers, however, has rusted away after being submerged under water for several decades. Despite its off-color and battered appearance, the boxy hunk of metal with a few of its raised circular keys still visible is instantly recognizable. Incredible artifact – or vital component after civilization ends? Rare Nazi Enigma M4 box sells for £350,000READ MORE A pair of marine archaeologists from Submaris, a diving company located in Kiel, Germany, working with conservation charity the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), knew they had spotted something unusual, thanks to a sonar scan. “The WWF has been working for many years to rid the Baltic Sea of ​​dangerous ghost nets,” Gabriele Dederer, a consultant at WWF Germany, said in a statement translated to English. “We regularly find larger objects on which the nets get tangled underwater. Such so-called "hook points" are often tree trunks or stones. However, the Enigma is by far the most exciting find we have ever had. Das ist keine Schreibmaschine! Auf der Suche nach #Geisternetze|n haben die Taucher von #Submaris eine #ENIGMA gefunden. Das Gerät diente im Zweiten Weltkrieg zur Verschlüsselung von Funksprüchen. Nun kommt sie ins Museum: https://t.co/zQlGTwAmwV cc @drhuberfloh pic.twitter.com/y8cA6fWyxX— WWF Deutschland (@WWF_Deutschland) December 3, 2020 The team reckons the machine was thrown overboard in 1945 by the Nazis, after the German navy scuttled its own submarines to prevent the Allies from nabbing the tech toward the end of the war. The Enigma code was cracked by British boffin Alan Turing in 1942 at Bletchley Park, an instrumental figure credited for helping the Allies win the war and for saving millions of lives. “Should further archaeological finds come up, we would like to point out that there is a legal obligation to report, as this can be underwater cultural heritage," Dederer added. The device will be taken to the Museum of Archeology in Schleswig to be restored and preserved. ®

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PHP8 was released on the26th of November 2020. It brought a lot of interesting things,security-wise, but also showcases a couple of (minor) missed opportunities in myopinion.Type safetyI'm a big fan on relying on typing to ensure security properties,like Trusted types in javascript: itshouldn't compile if it's not secure.PHP8 won't try to cast string into numbers anymore, thanks to the Saner string to number comparisons RFC,meaning that collision with hashes starting with 0e and the likes are finallya thing of the past! This is a subset of Snuffleupagus' sloppy comparisonprevention feature.The Consistent type errors for internal functions RFCwill prevent things like 0 == strcmp($_GET['username'], $password) bypasses,since strcmp won't return null and spit a warning any longer,but will throw a proper exception instead. This was also a nice opportunityfor PHP to add annotations for functions parameters and return types.The Stricter type checks for arithmetic/bitwise operatorsand PHP RFC: Reclassifying engine warnings RFCare in the same spirit.JITPHP8 comes with a JIT based onDynASM, bringing an RWX memory space intoPHP's memory space, into a shared allocation, meaning that its offset won'tchange between different PHP8+ processes.Moreover, DynASM isn't designed with processing/compilation/execution ofuntrusted code in mind, and doesn't do things like constants blinding andadvanced folding to mitigate against spraying, nor random padding/nopinsertion, nor ensuring that the memory region is never both writeable andexecutable to prevent direct code injection. This means that it's now wayeasier to gain native code execution when exploiting memory corruptions,albeit to be fair, most attackers are happy with a php code execution,and won't push further.Having a JIT comes with a lot of code complexity and maintenance burden. I'llbe without doubt a great source ofbugs,for a minor speed improvement on real-life workloads.Cryptography

password_hash now automatically generates a salt, accepting a user-provided one is deprecated.crypt will now fail instead of silently falling back to DES when an unknown salt format was provided. The parameter is also made mandatory, hashing without a salt is now unsupported.RFC 5652 is now exposed via the OpenSSL extension.

Misc

The error control operator, aka @ won't silence fatal errors anymore, meaning that poorly written webshells will have more chances to leave traces in your logs.libxml_disable_entity_loader is now deprecated, even if it's not (yet) reflected in php's documentation. This is acceptable since PHP8 now requires at least libxml 2.9.0, which comes with external entity loading disabled by default.Access to undefined constants will throw an error, instead of being silently interpreted as a string, no more SALT being silently converted to "SALT".create_function was removed, closing its infamous code injection vector.array_key_exists throws when passed an array/object, instead of silently doing nonsense.The e modifier in mb_ereg_replace has been removed.Metadata associated with a phar will no longer be unserialized, killing a low-hanging RCE vector.FILTER_SANITIZE_MAGIC_QUOTES, get_magic_quotes_gpc and get_magic_quotes_runtime have been removed, people will now have to do proper sanitization instead.As usual, a couple of memory safety issues were fixed, some exploitable.

Missed opportunitiesUndefinedvariables, asopposed to cinstants, are still not an error, meaning that things like soltinstead of salt might (and will) go unnoticed.Converting an Array to a string will only yield a Warning instead of anerror, albeit that now that __toString can finallythrow, it might hopefully changein the near future.Albeit significant CSPRNGimprovements have beenmerged in PHP7, PHP8 didn't seize the opportunity to keep the momentum and toaliases rand and mt_rand to random_int, likeSnuffleupagus is doing.An other missed opportunity in my opinion is that there is still noway to disable some PHP's wrappers, except viastream_wrapper_unregisterbut this can be reversed withstream_wrapper_restore.Wrappers are scary: the main use I've seen for the filter://one isexfiltrating data via php://filter/convert.base64-encode/resource=/some/file, and is a decentamount ofarcanestuff lurking in the shadows.Providing a way to reduce this attack surface (like making streams opt-in)would be welcome.


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While it does use the same M12 batteries, this impeccably engineered work light isn’t an official Milwaukee product. It’s the latest creation from [Chris Chimienti], who’s spent enough time in the garage and under the hood to know a thing or two about what makes a good work light. The modular design not only allows you to add or subtract LED panels as needed, but each section is able to rotate independently so it points exactly where you need it.Magnets embedded in the 3D printed parts mean the light modules not only firmly attach to one another, but can be stuck to whatever you’re working on. Or you could just stack all the lights up vertically and use the rocket-inspired “landing legs” of the base module keep it vertical. Even if the light gets knocked around, the tension provided by rubber bands attached to each fold-out leg means it will resist falling over. In the video after the break [Chris] says the little nosecone on top is just for fun and you don’t have to print it, but we don’t see how you can possibly resist.The same PCB is used on both ends of the light modules.Of course, 3D printed parts and magnets don’t self-illuminate. The LED panels and switches are salvaged from cheap lights that [Chris] found locally for a few bucks, and a common voltage regulator board is used to step the 12 volts coming from the Milwaukee battery down to something the LEDs can use. He’s designed a very slick reversible PCB that’s used on either end of each light module to transfer power between them courtesy of semi-circular traces on one side and and matching pogo pins on the other.As we saw in his recent Dremel 3D20 rebuild, [Chris] isn’t afraid to go all in during the design phase. The amount of CAD work that went into this project is astounding, and serves as fantastic example of the benefits to be had by designing the whole assembly at once rather than doing it piecemeal. It might take longer early on, but the final results really speak for themselves.















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The Philharmonia is marking this year’s Beethoven anniversary with a rare complete outing for The Creatures of Prometheus, Beethoven’s only ballet, first performed in Vienna in 1801. Their approach is novel. Footage of Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting the score is interwoven with a narration by Gerard McBurney, drawn from the ballet’s synopsis, spoken by Stephen Fry, and illustrated with animations by Hillary Leben.The ballet recasts classical myth as an Enlightenment parable of the humanitarian power of art. Prometheus steals fire from Olympus to bring his two Creatures (the first human beings) to life, but it is on Parnassus, the mountain sacred to Apollo as god of the arts, that the Creatures gradually learn the nature of emotion and feeling, shedding their first tears over a drama performed by Prometheus and the tragic muse Melpomene, and laughing at the antics of Pan and Thalia, the Muse of Comedy.Narrator Stephen FryThe score pivots between the lofty and the demotic in ways that sometimes echo Mozart’s The Magic Flute, as classical minuets and gavottes for the gods, muses and graces give way to popular dance forms before the Creatures usher in a new human era to music that Beethoven unforgettably reworked in the final movement of the Eroica Symphony. Salonen conducts it all with great panache and grace, and there’s some lovely playing: the instrumental solos that Beethoven allocates to the various characters – Apollo’s harp, Melpomene’s oboe, the Male Creature’s bassoon, and so on – are done with wonderful elegance.Fry, meanwhile, has fun with McBurney’s engaging, erudite narration, while Leben’s animations have considerable wit and brilliance. Her big, blond Prometheus, funny as well as touching, is a bit of a practical joker as well as an anti-authoritarian rebel, while the gods are gently debunked. Orpheus, whose music could tame wild animals, is accompanied by a lyre-playing squirrel. Bacchus prances about in front of a group of line-dancing soldiers with only a bunch of grapes, rather than a fig leaf, to hide his modesty.It’s entertaining and moving in equal measure, and hugely enjoyable.• Watch on demand on the Philharmonia’s YouTube channel.

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The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday voted to federally decriminalize marijuana, marking the first time either chamber of Congress has voted to end federal prohibition of the drug.The Democrat-controlled House, which voted 228-164 mostly along party lines in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, celebrated the vote as a “historic” milestone for cannabis reform. It’s expected, however, to be a largely symbolic move, as the bill will almost certainly fail in the Senate.Nevertheless, supporters say the vote reflects shifting public opinion on marijuana. The drug is now legal in 15 states, and polling indicates that the majority of Americans support decriminalization. “We need to catch up with the rest of the American people,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a co-sponsor of the MORE Act, said in a statement.— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) December 4, 2020


Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), the only House Republican to co-sponsor the legislation, said the time had come to end the so-called war on drugs.“If we were measuring the success of the war on drugs … drugs have won,” he said, according to Axios. “Because the American people do not support the policies of incarceration, limited research, limited choice and, particularly, constraining medical application.”Rep. @MattGaetz: "The federal government has lied to the people of this country about marijuana for a generation." pic.twitter.com/47r06h2Gps— The Hill (@thehill) December 4, 2020


Other than removing marijuana from the federal schedule of controlled substances, the MORE Act provides for the expungement of some federal marijuana convictions and prohibits the denial of federal public benefits based solely on marijuana offenses. It would also place a 5% excise tax on marijuana that would help fund programs such as job training and reentry services for “individuals most adversely impacted by the war on drugs.”As the House noted in a statement, these individuals include a disproportionately large number of Black and brown people. “The continued enforcement of cannabis prohibition laws results in over 600,000 arrests annually, disproportionately impacting people of color who are almost four times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than their white counterparts, despite equal rates of use across populations,” the statement said. “Too often, cases of low-level cannabis possession escalate to police violence. For many, the selective enforcement of cannabis prohibition becomes a matter of life and death.” Blumenauer said that by not acting over the years, Congress has “failed three generations of Black and Brown young people, whose lives can be ruined, or lost, by selective enforcement” of marijuana laws. He said the MORE Act “will end that disaster.” Republican leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have scoffed at the bill, characterizing it as a trivial issue used by Democrats to divert attention from ongoing coronavirus stimulus bill negotiations.“The House of Representatives is spending this week on pressing issues like marijuana. You know, serious and important legislation befitting this national crisis,” McConnell said in a statement. “But here in the Senate, I put forward a serious and highly targeted relief proposal including the elements which we know the President is ready and willing to sign into law. Why should these impactful and non-controversial life preservers be delayed one second longer?” Democratic leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), said Wednesday that they would support a bipartisan $908 billion pandemic response bill. Schumer also expressed his support for the MORE Act on Friday.“Draconian marijuana laws contribute to racial inequality,” he said. “The House just took a historic step towards finally ending the federal prohibition on marijuana, advancing criminal justice reform, and helping level the economic playing field.”


















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White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx speaks to reporters on September 30. Drew Angerer/Getty Images



The latest research suggests mask mandates help control the spread of Covid-19.

By Updated Dec 4, 2020, 4:00pm EST This story was supported by the Pulitzer Center.

















Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, toured North Dakota this fall, as the state was overwhelmed by one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks in the country. While she commended the state’s testing efforts, she was distraught by the noticeable lack of face masks in public spaces. “This is the least use of masks that we have seen in retail establishments of any place we have been,” she said at an October 26 press conference. North Dakota, which at the time didn’t require masks, had the lowest mask-wearing rate in the country in October, according to survey data. North Dakota is not the only state that lagged in a mask policy in the throes of a major outbreak, however: Eight of the top 10 states that saw the highest new cases per capita in October did not have a widespread mask mandate, as the chart below shows. (Several of these Great Plains and Midwestern states were spared significant outbreaks of the virus until the fall.)








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But the dramatic surge of Covid-19 across the country this fall and winter has forced some states to change course. On November 8, Utah implemented a mask mandate, as new daily Covid-19 cases continue to rise in the state and across the country. Several other states have implemented or tightened mandates since then, including Iowa and North Dakota. Thirty-seven states now have mandates, according to the AARP. And on December 4, the CDC issued a new recommendation that people wear masks indoors at all times, unless they are at home.Over the course of the pandemic, America has been engaged in a massive and uncontrolled mask experiment: Some jurisdictions implemented and enforced mask mandates; others rejected them as public health guidance became politicized. President Donald Trump has repeatedly questioned and even scorned the use of masks, and several Republican governors have followed his lead. President-elect Joe Biden, meanwhile, has called for a national mask mandate and for Americans to wear masks for the “first 100 days” he is in office, as vaccines roll out. But the different state-level approaches mean researchers can now parse the results of a trial they never would have received approval to conduct. New research from Kansas and Tennessee suggests that not only do mask mandates prevent Covid-19 spread, they may also blunt the severity of illness and reduce the number of serious cases that require hospitalization. Other findings support the argument more and more public health experts are making: that masks remain among our cheapest most effective tools to control the pandemic — if worn consistently. “If you’re not in the ICU, the only tools at our disposal that we know work are the tried-and-true public health measures, like social distancing, hand-washing, and masks,” says Vin Gupta, a critical care pulmonologist and affiliate assistant professor for the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. “We’re bearing the brunt of those things being implemented poorly.”“You’re less likely to get Covid-19 if you’re wearing a mask,” says Donna Ginther, an economist and director of the Institute for Policy and Social Research at the University of Kansas. And “even if you do get sick while wearing a mask, you’re less likely to get deathly ill.” Let’s walk through some of the latest research on mask mandates and what it means as we head into one of the most perilous seasons in the pandemic so far. New evidence from Kansas and Tennessee that mask mandates control the spread of Covid-19 One intriguing piece of evidence of the effect of mask mandates on controlling the spread of the virus comes from Kansas. In July, Laura Kelly, the Democratic governor of Kansas, issued a mandate requiring everyone in public places to wear a mask where 6 feet of social distancing couldn’t be maintained. It prompted an immediate outcry from conservatives. Because of a state law passed in June that allowed counties to supersede the governor’s emergency powers, 81 counties out of 105 opted out of the mask mandate altogether, and only 21 counties decided to enforce it.Two researchers from the University of Kansas analyzed what happened next.








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Ginther, the economist working on this analysis, found that in the counties that enforced mask-wearing, new cases stayed roughly steady. But in the counties without mandates, even after controlling for how often people left their homes, they doubled. “We were stunned by the strength of the effect,” she says. The public health officer of Johnson, the state’s largest county, was so impressed he asked Ginther to share her work with the Board of County Commissioners, even though it’s not yet peer-reviewed or even written up into a paper. She is currently working on publishing the results.Ginther says it wasn’t until 12 weeks after the mandates took effect that the growth in cases began to slow. But she thinks her results are likely conservative. “A 50 percent reduction in cases is likely to be a lower-bound on the true effect of wearing a mask,” she says. “If you had 100 percent compliance, I would expect to see an even larger effect.” Other researchers have made related findings. A nonprofit group called Prevent Epidemics recently published a report showing that, following mask mandates, coronavirus cases declined in Alabama, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas. The CDC found that in Arizona, after a mask mandate was put in place, Covid-19 cases dropped 75 percent. Conversely, cases spiked 151 percent when stay-at-home orders were lifted, demonstrating that behavior has a significant impact on viral transmission. In addition to slowing the spread of the virus, new evidence from Tennessee shows that mask mandates could reduce the severity of the virus. A paper by researchers at Vanderbilt found that at Tennessee hospitals where at least 75 percent of Covid-19 patients came from counties with mask requirements, coronavirus hospitalization rates are the same as they were in July. In hospitals where fewer than 25 percent of patients come from places with a mask mandate, hospitalizations are 200 percent higher. What’s more, the researchers wrote, hospitals in areas with mask requirements and other mitigation strategies “are in a much better position to serve the entire spectrum of community health needs, not just Covid-19 patients.”Mask mandates lead to more people wearing masksEven if they aren’t always followed, mask mandates appear to be an effective tool in encouraging behavior change. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington found in August that mask use increased 8 percentage points after mask mandates, and increased 15 points if those mandates were enforced.Only around 65 percent of Americans currently regularly wear masks, according to IHME. But in Singapore, for instance, around 95 percent of people wear masks, and they have one of the world’s lowest coronavirus death rates. “We know that countries that wear masks are doing much better,” says Ali Mokdad, the chief strategy officer of public health at the University of Washington.Thirty-three states and Washington, DC, implemented statewide mask mandates between April and August. During the same period, an increasing number of Americans began to wear masks regularly, according to a weekly survey started in mid-April by the data intelligence company Premise.








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There is one caveat of all the analyses mentioned above: They simply observe behavior, which means that they can demonstrate associations — like case counts falling after mask mandates are put in place — but not causation. The gold standard to prove that would be a randomized controlled trial. But that’s a hard study to design in a pandemic because of ethical concerns. Even without randomized trials, Rebekah Gee, a public health policy expert and secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health, says the body of evidence “confirms what public health experts have known since early on in this pandemic, which is that masks work.”Masks could save 130,000 lives by February, but more Americans would have to wear them consistentlyIn fact, a study published October 23 in Nature Medicine by IHME’s forecasting team modeled current public health interventions — projecting case numbers based on current behavior — and found that universal mask use could save as many as 130,000 lives by the end of February 2021. Mokdad says that’s why it’s essential to have clear, consistent recommendations to wear masks. He adds, “We never debate seatbelts. Is it okay if only 80 percent of people wear them? We say everybody should.” But while he would prefer that 100 percent of people wear masks, Mokdad says at this point, any incremental increase in mask use “for me is a celebration.”Unfortunately, in many parts of the US, mask use is actually decreasing. In Florida, for example, which grappled with a serious surge in cases this summer, Mokdad says 70 percent of people were wearing masks in August. Now, only 65 percent are. “Wearing masks has been a response to fear rather than a good, persistent behavior,” Mokdad says. Vox analyzed the relationship between the frequency of wearing masks from the Premise survey data and the Covid-19 cases in states from April to October. As the charts below show, in states with mandates where cases surged in the spring, more people now wear masks. These states — where more people consistently wear masks — are now less likely to see another huge surge in cases.








Youyou Zhou for Vox


Even though mask use has risen in many states, the nation as a whole is on a troubling trajectory, with new daily cases, hospitalizations, and deaths all on the rise. Mokdad says he’s very concerned about the holidays. “As we go be with our loved ones — our grandparents, our kids — do you want to go sit at a table and risk the people you care about most, or do you want to wear a mask?” IHME models predict that if some US states increased their mask use from now on, they could reduce the number of future Covid-19 deaths by about 50 percent.The stakes for getting this right are high — not just for the holidays, but for the rest of the pandemic, however long that might be. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently echoed Biden’s call for a national mask mandate. “If you don’t want to shut down, at least do the fundamental, basic things,” Fauci told the editor-in-chief of JAMA, “the flagship of which is wearing a mask.”Rather than thinking about a mask mandate as something that takes away a freedom, as anti-mask protestors have claimed, Leana Wen, a physician and the former Health Commissioner for the City of Baltimore, says, “Mask-wearing allows you to do things.” If everyone wears a mask, it will keep transmission low, allowing businesses and schools to stay open. “If you want a more normal life, we need to adjust our behavior, as opposed to locking ourselves away,” Ginther says. “Masks rise to the top as an approach we can take as a society to have a more open economy but not get everyone sick.”Lois Parshley is a freelance investigative journalist. Follow her Covid-19 reporting on Twitter @loisparshley.Editor’s note, November 7: Due to a data error, a previous version of the chart of increases in Covid-19 cases in October did not include Hawaii and miscategorized Louisiana as not having a mandate. In fact, Louisiana implemented a mandate in August. The chart has been updated to reflect these changes.


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I’ve been playing with the builder patter to express test scenarios in a succinct and declarative manner. I’ve liked the outcome and feel that this design can yield to pretty good test code, so I’ll dig through this idea here. Note that, while this post and the associated code talk about Rust, the ideas presented here apply to any language. So don’t leave just because I said Rust!

While Rust provides excellent facilities to execute unit and integration tests via cargo test, the APIs to write such tests are… extremely limited. In essence, we can tag tests functions with #[test] and we can then use the assert* family of macros plus unwrap()/expect() calls to validate values. But that’s about it. No fixtures. No JUnit-like advanced features. No Truth-like expressive assertions. No nothing.These limitations, and in particular the lack of fixtures, can lead to convoluted test code. The fact is that some tests, even if they are true unit tests, require quite a bit of boilerplate: prepare fake objects with golden values, inject those into the code under test, and validate results. If we want to adhere to the principle of making each individual test case (aka each #[test] function) focus on a single behavior, we find ourselves with a lot of code duplication. Code duplication blurs the essence behind each test, which then makes tests harder to maintain—and hard to maintain tests is something you really do not want in a codebase.To mitigate these limitations and keep the content of test functions focused on behavior, I’ve found myself writing helpers of the form do_ok_test_for_blah(). These helpers wrap the blah() under test and abstract away all of the uninteresting setup/teardown noise, customizing these based on input parameters.The problem is that functions like do_ok_test_for_blah() quickly become complex. As you add more test cases, the amount of parameters to pass to these functions grows too, and the tests that used to be succinct aren’t any more. To compensate, you might add extra functions like do_ok_test_for_blah_with_bleh() that provide even further wrapping… but then you end up with a real mess that goes counter the original goal of simplifying the test code. Mind you, a lot of the older tests in EndBASIC suffer from this problem and it’s a pain to touch them, so I had to find a solution.Of course, there are crates out there to provide extra testing facilities for Rust. But how far can we get with the simple Rust primitives? Pretty far actually.

What if we used the builder pattern to define the test scenario with required and optional properties, set expectations in a declarative manner, and then hid the test logic within it?

The idea is to define a type (or struct, or class, or whatever your language of choice offers to encapsulate data) that holds all details needed to set up a test and also carries the expectations of the test. The type requires the minimum amount of parameters to run a “null” test scenario, and allows passing all other parameters in an optional manner. Lastly, a single run()-like function takes care of preparing the test scenario and running through it.

Let’s illustrate all these words with a trivial example.Consider a simple and non-generic sum_all function that takes an array of i32 values and sums them all:

#[cfg(test)] mod tests;

/// Sums all input `values` and returns the total.pub fn sum_all(values: &[i32]) -> i32 { let mut result = 0; for v in values { result += v; } result}


Yes, this is a simplistic function that can be trivially tested: using the builder pattern here is overkill, but hopefully you get the idea of how this helps verify more complex interfaces.To test this function, we define a SumAllTest type to represent the builder pattern, with these properties:

Given that sum_all() always returns a value, the test must always know what value to expect; therefore, we express this requirement as part of the type’s constructor.The data to pass to the function is variable, though, so we make it optional via an add_value() method. I’ve chosen to use an accumulator method here to further illustrate how a builder might be helpful.We define a run() method that consumes the builder and executes the test.

Our test code looks like this:

#![deny(warnings)]

use crate::*;

/// Builder pattern for tests that validate `sum_all`.#[must_use]struct SumAllTest { expected: i32, values: Vec<i32>,}

impl SumAllTest { /// Creates the test scenario and initializes it with the result we expect. fn expect(value: i32) -> Self { Self { expected: value, values: vec!() } }

/// Registers a value to pass to `sum_all` as an input. fn add_value(mut self, value: i32) -> Self { self.values.push(value); self }

/// Runs `sum_all` with all recorded values and checks the result. fn run(self) { let actual = sum_all(&self.values); assert_eq!(self.expected, actual); }}

#[test]fn test_sum_all_with_no_values() { SumAllTest::expect(0).run();}

#[test]fn test_sum_all_with_one_value() { SumAllTest::expect(5).add_value(5).run();}

#[test]fn test_sum_all_with_many_values() { SumAllTest::expect(8).add_value(3).add_value(4).add_value(1).run();}


The beauty of this design is that each test case is now declarative. The test case expresses, in code, what the test scenario looks like and what the expectations are. And given the simplicity of the calls, we can trivially express each scenario in its own test case. When we run the tests, we get what we expect:running 3 teststest tests::test_sum_all_many_values ... oktest tests::test_sum_all_no_values ... oktest tests::test_sum_all_one_value ... ok

test result: ok. 3 passed; 0 failed; 0 ignored; 0 measured; 0 filtered outGreat!But before we go, there is one key detail I glanced over. This detail is critical to ensure that your tests always do the right thing:IMPORTANT: The test builder has to be annotated with #[must_use]. You may want also want to accompany that with the optional #[deny(warnings)].You see: given the above design, it’s all too easy to forget to call run() on the test builder—and if you forget to do that, the test will do nothing and will always pass. That’s too risky for test code. Fortunately, by using the #[must_use] annotation on the builder type, the compiler will catch such problems.To witness: if we remove the run() call from any of the tests above and try to build:error: unused `SumAllTest` that must be used --> src/tests.rs:33:5 |33 | SumAllTest::expect(0); | ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ |Rust fails the build and tells us that we forgot to consume the builder object. There is no way we can forget to call run() once we have initialized a SumAllTest object, so the test code will always be exercised.

What do you think? Interesting? Problematic?For a more realistic example, check out EndBASIC read_line’s own tests. Want more posts like this one? Take a moment to subscribe! Enjoyed this article? Spread the word or join the ongoing discussion!

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Leck mich im Arsch ('Kiss my arse!', or literally 'Lick me in the arse') is a canon in B-flat major composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, K. 231 (K. 382c), with lyrics in German. It was one of a set of at least six canons probably written in Vienna in 1782.[1] Sung by six voices as a three-part round, it is thought to be a party piece for his friends. The main theme is derived from the final movement of Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 3 in G-Major.[citation needed]



English translation[edit]The German idiom used as the title of the work is equivalent to the English "Kiss my arse!" or American "Kiss my ass!"[2] However, the literal translation of the title is "Lick me in the arse".

Publication and modern discovery[edit]Mozart died in 1791 and his widow, Constanze Mozart, sent the manuscripts of the canons to publishers Breitkopf & Härtel in 1799 saying that they would need to be adapted for publication. The publisher changed the title and lyrics of this canon to the more acceptable "Laßt froh uns sein" ("Let us be glad!"). Of Mozart's original text, only the first words were documented in the catalogue of his works produced by Breitkopf & Härtel.[3]A new text version, which may have been the authentic one, came to light in 1991. Handwritten texts to this and several other similar canons were found added to a printed score of the work in an historical printed edition acquired by Harvard University's Music Library. They had evidently been added to the book by a later hand. However, since in six of the pieces these entries matched texts that had, in the meantime, independently come to light in original manuscripts, it was hypothesised that the remaining three may, too, have been original, including texts for K. 231 ("Leck mich im Arsch" itself), and another Mozart work, "Leck mir den Arsch fein recht schön sauber" ("Lick my arse nice and clean", K. 233; K. 382d in the revised numbering).[4] Later research revealed that the latter work was likely composed by Wenzel Trnka.[5][6][7][8]

Lyrics[edit]The text rediscovered in 1991 consists only of the repeated phrases:[9]


Leck mich im A... g'schwindi, g'schwindi!Leck im A... mich g'schwindi.Leck mich, leck mich,g'schwindietc. etc. etc.

where "A..." obviously stands for "Arsch"; "g'schwindi" is a dialect word derived from "geschwind", meaning "quickly".The bowdlerised text of the early printed editions reads:



Laßt uns froh sein!Murren ist vergebens!Knurren, Brummen ist vergebens,ist das wahre Kreuz des Lebens,das Brummen ist vergebens,Knurren, Brummen ist vergebens, vergebens!Drum laßt uns froh und fröhlich, froh sein!


Let us be glad!Grumbling is in vain!Growling, droning is in vain,is the true bane of life,Droning is in vain,Growling, droning is in vain, in vain!Thus let us be cheerful and merry, be glad!


Another semi-bowdlerized adaptation is found in the recordings of The Complete Mozart edition by Brilliant Classics:[10][11]



Leck mich im Arsch!Goethe, Goethe!Götz von Berlichingen! Zweiter Akt;Die Szene kennt ihr ja!Rufen wir nur ganz summarisch:Hier wird Mozart literarisch!


Kiss my arse!Goethe, Goethe!Götz von Berlichingen! Second act;You know the scene too well!Let us now shout the summary:Mozart here gets literary!


This is a clear allusion to the line "... er kann mich im Arsche lecken!" (literally, "he can lick me in the ass" or idiomatically "he can kiss my ass") attributed to the late medieval German knight Götz von Berlichingen, known best as the title hero of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's drama.This version contains a slight error about the Goethe source: the line occurs in the third act.[12][13]

See also[edit]"Difficile lectu" – a canon with a disguised Latin version of the same text"Bona nox" – "Good night", a multilingual scatological canonMozart and scatologyNotes[edit]


^ Eisen, Cliff, et al.: "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart", Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians Online, ed. L. Macy (Accessed 9 September 2007), (subscription required)

^ Schemann, Hans (1997). English-German Dictionary of Idioms. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-17254-3.

^ Preface to the Neue Mozart Ausgabe Vol. III/10, p. X.

^ Kozinn, Allan (2 March 1991). "Three Naughty Mozart Texts Are Found". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 September 2007.

^ Plath, Wolfgang; Bennwitz, Hanspeter; Buschmeier, Gabriele; Feder, Georg; Hofmann, Klaus (1988). Opera incerta. Echtheitsfragen als Problem musikwissenschaftlicher Gesamtausgaben. Kolloquium Mainz 1988. ISBN 3-515-05996-2.

^ Silke Leopold; Jutta Schmoll-Barthel; Sara Jeffe, eds. (October 2005). Mozart-Handbuch. Stuttgart: Metzler. pp. 640, 653, 689. ISBN 3-476-02077-0.

^ Dietrich Berke; Wolfgang Rehm; Miriam Pfadt (2007). "Endbericht" (PDF). Neue Mozart Ausgabe (in German). Bärenreiter. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2007. Retrieved 10 September 2007.

^ Catherine Carl; Dan Manley; Dennis Pajot; Steve Ralsten; Gary Smith. "Koechel List". Mozart Forum. Archived from the original on 14 August 2007. Retrieved 10 September 2007.

^ Denis Pajot: "K. 233 and K. 234 Mozart's 'Kiss my Ass' Canons." Mozart Forum Archived 2009-02-08 at the Wayback Machine

^ Brilliant Classics (2006). "Mozart Edition, Complete Works". Foreignmediagroup.com. Archived from the original on 21 September 2007. Retrieved 12 September 2007.

^ integralemozart.info (2007). "Mozart Complete Edition (Brilliant), Volume 8: CD 1, Canons" (PDF) (in German and Italian). Integrale Mozart. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 19, 2009. Retrieved 12 September 2007.

^ Wikisource. "Götz von Berlichingen/3. Akt (unexpurgated))" (in German). Wikisource. Archived from the original on 18 September 2007. Retrieved 12 September 2007.

^ Project Gutenberg. "Götz von Berlichingen/3. Akt (expurgated)" (in German). Project Gutenberg. Retrieved 12 September 2007.


Further reading[edit]Zaslaw, Neal (2006) "The Non-Canonic Status of Mozart's Canons", Eighteenth-Century Music (2006), 3: 109–123 Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/S1478570606000510External links[edit]

Leck mich im Arsch: Score and critical report (in German) in the Neue Mozart-AusgabeCanon for 6 Voices in B-flat major, K.231/382c: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project








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Image: BioWareYesterday BioWare general manager Casey Hudson and lead Dragon Age series writer Mark Darrah resigned from BioWare, spawning a wave of concern in fans over the continued health of the studio’s popular franchises. Today, Greg Ellis, the actor who voiced Dragon Age’s Anders and Cullen, took to Twitter to personally attack the writer, prompting a stern response from Darrah.In this tweet, Ellis publicly accused Darrah of being a “disloyal, duplicitous corporate fake,” and alleged that Darrah’s resignation from the studio was “enforced.”Screenshot: TwitterMark Darrah responded to Ellis in a quote tweet, saying “I’ve been letting you slide for a while but I think Dragon Age Day is maybe the day when that ends.”Screenshot: TwitterG/O Media may get a commissionDarrah goes on to suggest that Ellis’ behavior toward him and the larger community could potentially bar Ellis from ever working with BioWare again. Ellis, notable for his portrayal of Anders and Cullen, has fallen out of favor with some fans for his support of U.S. President Donald Trump and “out-of-the-box thinkers” like “Blexit” organizer and right-wing puppet , Candance Owens. Some of his other inspirations include noted bigot Jordan Peterson and Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA fame:Darrah implied Ellis’ accusation may be an attempt to garner “attention of a different group,” and noted that it will harm his reputation and future employment prospects with BioWare—”a company that cares about its public appearance.”EA and BioWare have not yet responded to Kotaku’s request for comment.

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Microsoft will let users create custom functions in Excel using the number wrangler's own formula language. "Excel formulas are the world's most widely used programming language, yet one of the more basic principles in programming has been missing, and that is the ability to use the formula language to define your own re-usable functions," said Microsoft. The addition is long overdue; those feeling a misplaced sense of déjà vu are likely thinking of functions implemented in the spreadsheet using an entirely different language, such as JavaScript or (heaven forbid) Visual Basic for Applications. It also, according to Microsoft, makes the Excel formula language "Turing complete". Dubbed LAMBDA, the feature (currently rolling out to beta customers) will be a lifesaver for anyone charged with maintaining herds of increasingly complicated spreadsheets, who have doubtlessly been wondering how it could be that Excel was missing such a seemingly obvious ability for so many decades. Sure, a ribbon toolbar is nice enough (or should be destroyed by fire, depending on your perspective), but being able to drop Excel's own formula language into a custom function is both a huge time saver and a boon for quality. While passing a value into a function is a handy thing, it is also possible to use dynamic arrays or rich data types. Devs expecting a Visual Code-like development environment for their opuses will, however, be a little disappointed. It's early days for the technology, and the implementation via the Name Manager is a little clunky. There is also some serious power lurking beneath the surface. Recursion, long missing from Excel formulas up to now, can be achieved by allowing functions to be called within functions. What could possibly go wrong? Not that one should be troubling production work with the new functionality. It remains in beta for the time being, and Microsoft has yet to indicate when it will hit General Availability. It is also unlikely to trouble those legacy spreadsheets that could really use some tidying by the use of formula functions in place of the copy-and-paste workarounds users have endured for the over three decades of Excel's existence. ®

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But if you’re not ready to upgrade, Best Buy has a handful of PlayStation 4 classics down to $8. That includes ancient games like God of War, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Bloodborne. These games were practically around at the same time as the dinosaurs, so enjoy your un-ray-traced casual games, gramps. I’m living in the future and all I do is play Godfall 24/7 now. This deal was originally published by Giovanni Colantonio. Whether you need to replace the batteries in your TV remote, smoke detector, or whatever else requires ‘em, it never hurts to keep a set of AAA batteries around. For a limited time, you can pick up 48 on Amazon for $11 using the promo code 50BNIPTR. Already have enough AAA batteries? Carry on then. But for those of you who crave the 1.5 volts of a Nafu alkaline battery, today’s your lucky day. Buy these and you can become Electro. Face off against the web-head himself in an electrifying duel audiences will rave about for years to come. You do not want to miss out on that. This deal was originally published by Gabe Carey.Ulta’s Beauty Box: Glitz Edition is one of the company’s best sellers and is a favorite among makeup aficionados. It’s currently $10 off and is filled with shadows, blushes, glosses, and anything you could need all valued at $172. This time they are offering the box in light pink instead of gold.This is a 49-piece kit, the case is reusable, and it’s easy to travel with. All the makeup within is cruelty-free and top quality. Here is what you’ll get: 30 eyeshadows, four blushes, four highlighters, two bronzers, two lip glosses, two sheer lip glosses, two eyeliner pencils, eyeshadow primer, brow gel, and an eyeshadow/blush brush. All of this makeup is highly pigmented, blendable, and made to create looks that will carry you through the day or night. Free shipping on orders over $35. This deal was originally published by Sheilah Villari.Christmas snow is a sight to behold and I’m lucky enough to grow up with a northern family so I got lots of it over the years. Bring some of that winter charm to your home and your tree this season with a 6 foot flocked snow Christmas tree. It’s 40% off and is definitely a nice twist to the traditional artificial tree. Just clip the coupon and use the code KINGSOMV73.These faux snow leaves and branches are a fun touch especially if you live in a place where holiday snow just never happens. The flocking is tightly fastened to the branches so no worries about it falling off and making a mess. This tree comes in three sections making it easy to put up and take down. This also means it’s simple to store. It’s a good size and definitely fills out once you have the branches properly fluffed. As with most of these trees, it is made of eco-friendly high-quality PVC material. It comes with a sturdy metal base with a plastic bottom to protect wood floors. This is a unique tree at a great price so I’m sure it won’t last long.This tree will ship for free.This deal was originally posted by Sheilah Villari.Air fryers are the latest kitchen gadget sensation, as they’re able to crisp up food—including meats and veggies—in a healthier way than traditional frying. But if you’re not keen on splashing out a big chunk of cash on another cooking appliance that you may or may not use that often, here’s a great deal on one that won’t break the bank.Right now, Best Buy is slashing $80 off the price of the Insignia 10-quart digital air fryer, making the price a mere $50. And unlike some air fryers, you get a clear window into the cook, letting you pull out your food at the exact right moment… or just marvel at the process.This deal was originally published by Andrew Hayward. Sometimes you just need a computer to get you from point A to point B. No fancy bells and whistles, no overclocking (whatever the hell that is), and no superfluous gaming amenities. If that’s the case for you, allow me to introduce you to the HP Pavilion TP01-1016 desktop, now 41% off its $600 list price at Staples. With it, you can browse the web, crunch your numbers, do some light photo and video editing, and do most other things that don’t require a high-end graphics card. Just plug it into your surge protector, hook up your monitor, and connect the included USB keyboard and mouse to get started.This bad boy can fit so much storage space in it, with a 1TB 7,200 RPM hard drive. And while you may be worried about speed—believe me, no one wants a beat-up old clunker of a computer that freezes up CONSTANTLY when you’re trying to do your Excel sheets—note that the Pavilion boasts a six-core 10th Gen Intel Core i5 processor, which is both midrange and pretty up-to-date. A decent 8GB of RAM keeps the multitasking dream alive, so you can listen to the “It’s 3 AM and I Can’t Stand the Sight of Not Being With You” lo-fi beats video on YouTube as you work without interruption. As is custom with today’s PCs, Windows 10 comes pre-installed, and you’ll have access to a range of connections including USB-C, an octuplet of USB-A ports of varying speeds, an SD card reader, HDMI, VGA, a headphone/mic combo jack—the works! Weirdly enough, it’s also got a DVD optical drive, which I didn’t know PCs still HAD. The more you know. This deal was originally published by Gabe Carey.  In order to game, you must first clear your mind. Close your eyes. Leave behind your worldly troubles. It is just you, a mouse, and a keyboard. Take a deep breath. Put a single Dorito on your tongue, as if you are receiving communion. When you open your eyes like a newborn infant, the first thing you will see is your monitor. So it’s important that you’re using one that capitalizes on your newfound mental clarity with an equally clear image. If you’re looking to upgrade, BuyDig has the LG UltraFine down to $399 using the promo code KHY27. It’s a 32"4K monitor with a 60Hz refresh rate, that’s optimized for gaming with Dynamic Action Sync (a fancy way to say it minimizes input lag). Add in Radeon FreeSync technology, which helps prevent stutters, and you’ve got a solid all-around gaming monitor destined to free your mind. This deal was originally published by Giovanni Colantonio.  Someone call Tim “The Toolman” Taylor because this is one deal even your problematic fave shouldn’t miss. Milwaukee’s 56-piece ratchet and 6-piece screwdriver tool set is currently on sale for 50% off the sticker price as part of Home Depot’s Tool Gift Savings promotion. For just under a Benjamin, you can start loosening even the most secure fasteners with a 56-piece set of ratchets. But it doesn’t stop there. The kit also includes a 6-pack of screwdrivers, an even mix of Phillips head and flat. All sockets come wrench-ready with a flush directional lever, a slim design profile, and an inner storage tray you can remove from the carrying case you’ll also find in the box. The whole set comes with a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty if anything goes wrong and is returnable up to 180 days after your purchase is made. Place the order to your house now and it should arrive by December 9. Ship-to-store options may vary, but my closest location personally says it won’t be available until at least December 15. Either way, you won’t have to pay a penny for shipping.Don’t mind me, I’m just in AuuGGhhh of the savings.This deal was originally published by Gabe Carey. Many states require kids to be strapped into some form of car seat until they’re 8 years old, and depending on the eventual size of your child, you might be inclined to keep ‘em in one for longer. Of course, if you’re expecting a baby soon, it’ll still be years off before you really know.That’s why the Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 convertible car seat is so handy. It’s a full-fledged infant car seat that you can use immediately, and then over the years you can convert it from rear-facing into front-facing, and finally into a highback booster and backless booster as your child grows and ages. Speaking from experience, you won’t want to have to buy another car seat in a few years if you can help it. Luckily, Amazon is taking $100 off of the Graco 4Ever DLX convertible car seat right now, marking it down to $200 in a variety of styles. Fingers crossed, it’ll be the only car seat you ever need for your impending kiddo. This deal was originally published by Andrew Hayward.

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Cyberpunk 2077, one of the most highly anticipated video games of the past decade, has already been delayed three times. Employees at CD Projekt Red, the Polish studio behind the game, have reportedly been required to work long hours, including six-day weeks, for more than a year. The practice is called “crunch” in the video game industry, and it is sadly all too common. It’s also something that the leadership at CD Projekt Red said wasn’t going to happen to the people making Cyberpunk 2077.Video game developers rarely speak openly with the press about their labor practices, but that’s just what CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwiński did in May 2019. In a conversation with Kotaku, he said that his company thought of itself as more humane than its competitors. While long hours would be permitted for those interested in working them, crunch would not be made “mandatory.” He called it a “non-obligatory crunch policy” and said it was something to be proud of.“We are known for treating gamers with respect,” Iwiński told Kotaku last year. “And I actually would [like] for us to also be known for treating developers with respect.” One month later he doubled down, all-but promising during a podcast that mandatory crunch would not be forced on his employees. Shortly thereafter, signs began to emerge that the Cyberpunk 2077 project was in trouble. In January 2020, CD Projekt announced the game’s first delay. The release date was moved from April to September. The multiplayer component was also pushed into at least 2022.“We need more time to finish playtesting, fixing and polishing,” said Iwiński and head of studio Adam Badowski. “We want Cyberpunk 2077 to be our crowning achievement for this generation and postponing launch will give us the precious months we need to make the game perfect.”That same day, during a public call with investors, CD Projekt revealed that crunch would ultimately be needed to get the game done on time. It would also be mandatory for at least some employees. “Is the development team required to put in crunch hours?” asked an investor, to which CD Projekt CEO Adam Kiciński answered, “To some degree, yes, to be honest.”“We try to limit crunch as much as possible,” Kiciński continued, “but it is the final stage. We try to be reasonable in this regard, but yes. Unfortunately.”Six months later, the game was delayed for a second time — from September to November. Once again, Iwiński and Badowski said that more time needed to be spent on polishing the final game. The COVID-19 pandemic was at least partly to blame.“The final few months are always the biggest hurdle, so these are always the most crucial months,” they wrote, “and we know that from our past experience. We’ve been there a couple of times in the past and of course this is the first time we’re doing that remotely, so we learn as we go — but that’s as much as I can say.”

In September, Bloomberg reiterated what CD Projekt’s leaders said to investors months before. A leaked email mandated six-day work weeks. Crunch had become a requirement, and according to anonymous employees, some developers had been working nights and weekends “for more than a year.”In other words, delays do not mean relief for workers. Oftentimes, it simply means working at the same exhausting pace for additional weeks or months.But the story doesn’t stop there. In October, CD Projekt announced that Cyberpunk 2077 had “gone gold,” meaning that the near-final game code had been sent to the major console manufacturers for certification to run on their devices. Then — a little more than three weeks later — the game was delayed again. Instead of Nov. 19, the game will instead launch on Dec. 10.The move undoubtedly stretched the period of crunch required of CD Projekt’s workers even further.Let there be no mistake that the practice of crunch is destructive. It’s a fact that those inside and outside the industry have acknowledged for decades. Human beings weren’t made to work these kinds of hours, and the true cost of crunch can be measured in the physical and the mental health of those it is forced upon — and also their families. CD Projekt claims to be a progressive company, and it maintains that employees will benefit from the success of the game that they’re helping to make. Badowski says that employees will share in the profits CD Projekt makes in 2020.But let’s not sugarcoat it: Crunch is cruel. It is the result of poor management, and evidence of a disregard for the people working to make the games that we love to play. Crunch at this scale, and for this duration, casts a shadow over Cyberpunk 2077 — and actively undermines some of the progressive and cautionary themes no doubt present in the game itself.








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Credit...Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York TimesPresident-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is set to give an address on Friday about what he called the nation’s “stalling” economy as the Labor Department released jobs report that he labeled “grim,” even as lawmakers continued to express optimism that Congress could reach a bipartisan deal before the end of the year on an elusive pandemic stimulus plan.During his remarks, which he will deliver in Delaware, Mr. Biden is expected to renew calls for Congress to quickly pass another round of virus relief.The employment report showed that the economy added fewer jobs in November than at any point since it began to rebound from recession in the spring. The figures disappointed forecasters and added new urgency to calls to buoy struggling workers and companies while the nation awaits a vaccine that could help reinvigorate the economy next year. Pointing to the lower-than-expected job gains as an added accelerant, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California flashed hope about a stimulus plan at a news conference in the Capitol on Friday morning, a day after she and Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, agreed to try to find an agreement that could be merged with an enormous year-end spending package.“That would be our hope because that is the vehicle leaving the station,” said Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, while insisting that there would be “sufficient time” to close a deal before the Dec. 11 government funding deadline.Officials at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the conservative business lobbying group, said on Friday that the jobs report was a warning to lawmakers that they must compromise quickly. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said in a statement that the report was a “blaring warning that a double-dip recession is looming.”Mr. Biden said on Friday that while he welcomed the talks over a compromise aid bill, it was unlikely to give the economy the full help it needs. “Americans need help and they need it now,” he said in a statement. “I am encouraged by the bipartisan efforts in the Senate around a $900 billion relief package. In the weeks since the election ended, there were questions about whether Democrats and Republicans could work together. Right now, they are showing they can. Congress and President Trump must get a deal done for the American people.“But any package passed in the lame duck session is not enough,” he continued. “It’s just the start. Congress will need to act again in January.” He added that his economic team was drafting additional stimulus measures to push through Congress once he is inaugurated. VideotranscripttranscriptA ‘Season of Hope,’ Says Pence of Possible Vaccine ApprovalVice President Mike Pence visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, offering an upbeat assessment of the coronavirus pandemic with the likely approval of the first coronavirus vaccine coming as soon as next week.First and foremost, on behalf of President Donald Trump and all the members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, just to say thank you. Thank you to the men and women of C.D.C., who have literally poured their lives over the last 10 months into saving lives across America. We’re in a challenging time in the course of this pandemic. And all of us have a role to play — wash our hands, social distance, wear a mask when it’s indicated. But we’re also in a season of hope. To be as we are maybe, Bob, just a week and a half away from what will be the likely approval of the first coronavirus vaccine for the American people. It is inspiring the people of this country. We’re going to put a priority on our seniors and staff in our long-term health care facilities. And we’re also going to be a priority on health care workers so that we continue — not only to put their health first — but also make sure that we have the staff in our hospitals, in our clinics to render care to Americans that are continuing to be impacted by this pandemic.Vice President Mike Pence visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, offering an upbeat assessment of the coronavirus pandemic with the likely approval of the first coronavirus vaccine coming as soon as next week.CreditCredit...Lynsey Weatherspoon/ReutersVice President Mike Pence appeared at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta Friday and said the nation was facing a “challenging time” but also “a season of hope,” with the approval of the first coronavirus vaccine coming as soon as next week.“Thank you to the men and women of C.D.C. who have literally poured their lives over the last 10 months into saving lives across America,” said Mr. Pence, who wore a mask during the visit.But with the virus now in its darkest phase — and hospitalizations and daily caseloads shattering records — the White House remains largely silent on the devastation being wrought around the country and continues to do little to amplify guidance from the C.D.C. that could help stem the spread.And while Mr. Pence sought to offer an upbeat assessment, Dr. Henry Walke, who directs the C.D.C.’s Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections, presented a far more sobering picture.“Hospitalizations are still rising and it’s a real problem,” he said. “Health care providers are overstressed, beds are full.”The C.D.C. issued new guidance on Friday urging state and local governments to put forth universal face mask directives in indoor settings outside the home, among other measures in the agency’s first comprehensive list of strategies for combating the coronavirus. The agency also called for increased access to testing and quarantine for those who are exposed.The vice president, who is the head of the White House virus response, made the stop on the way to a political rally in Savannah with Georgia’s two embattled Republican senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue — both of whom are in tough runoff races next month that will determine the balance of power in the Senate. The two, also wearing masks, joined Mr. Pence for a round table discussion with C.D.C. officials.Mr. Pence’s C.D.C. visit comes ahead of a “vaccine summit” at the White House on Tuesday featuring him, President Trump, government officials and industry workers. Two days later, a committee of outside experts will convene to make recommendations to the Food and Drug Administration about whether to grant emergency approval to Pfizer’s vaccine.After his visit to the C.D.C., Mr. Pence and the senators will head to Savannah for the rally. The ticketing site for the event makes no mention of masks but includes a disclaimer that attendees “assume all risks related to exposure to Covid-19.”It is not uncommon for senators to accompany administration officials who travel in their states. But given the proximity to the runoff elections, the senators’ participation drew criticism from their Democratic opponents, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who is running against Ms. Loeffler, and Jon Ossoff, who is challenging Mr. Perdue.“No photo opp is going to change the fact that for months, David Perdue and Donald Trump have laughed off and undermined recommendations from the C.D.C. while thousands of Georgians lost their jobs, got sick, and died,” Miryam Lipper, Mr. Ossoff’s communications director, said in an email message.The Democratic candidates are holding a virtual rally this afternoon with former President Barack Obama ahead of Georgia’s Monday deadline to register to vote in the runoffs.And Mr. Trump, who continues to press his baseless claims that the election was stolen from him in Georgia and other states, is speaking Saturday night at an in-person rally with the senators in Valdosta, Ga., hosted by the Republican National Committee, that also makes no mention of a mask requirement.President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. said on Thursday that he would implore Americans to wear masks for a little more than three months toward the beginning of his term.“Just 100 days to mask,” Mr. Biden told CNN. “I think we’ll see a significant reduction.” But until he is sworn in on Jan. 20, Mr. Biden’s ability to take direct action is limited.Videotranscripttranscript‘There Is Momentum,’ Pelosi Says of Coronavirus Relief DealSpeaker Nancy Pelosi expressed optimism a bipartisan stimulus deal could soon be reached after she and Senator Mitch McConnell agreed to find a compromise that could merge with a year-end spending package.As you know, we are engaged in the talks on the omnibus bill. When I spoke to Leader McConnell yesterday, we talked about the possibility of putting a Covid package on the omnibus bill. But he and I, being appropriators, know that if you’re going to do that, you have to have an omnibus bill. And so we have to work through all of the provisions that are still unresolved there. We’re making progress. Senator Schumer and I believe that the framework — the bipartisan framework unveiled by the senators in a bipartisan way with the support of House members, Josh Gottheimer in the House from our side — on both sides of the aisle could be the basis for real bicameral negotiations. President-elect Biden has said that this package would be just at best, just a start. And that’s how we see it as well. It’s less money, but over a shorter period of time. And we need to do it to save lives and livelihood with the hope that much more help is on the way. There is momentum. There is momentum with the action that the senators and House members in a bipartisan way have taken with them. It could provide meaning relief for millions who are suffering. Economically, personally, health-wise, and so I’m pleased that the tone of our conversations is one that is indicative of the decision to get the job done.Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed optimism a bipartisan stimulus deal could soon be reached after she and Senator Mitch McConnell agreed to find a compromise that could merge with a year-end spending package.CreditCredit...Erin Scott for The New York TimesSpeaker Nancy Pelosi flashed fresh optimism on Friday that the House and Senate could soon reach a bipartisan deal on an elusive pandemic stimulus plan after she and Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, agreed to try to find an agreement that could be merged with an enormous year-end spending package.“That would be our hope because that is the vehicle leaving the station,” Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, said at a news conference in the Capitol Friday morning, a day after her conversation with Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky. The phone call marked their first conversation since the election.Though Ms. Pelosi conceded there were still obstacles to an agreement, she insisted there would be “sufficient time” to close a deal before the Dec. 11 government funding deadline. She pointed to lower-than-expected job gains reported on Friday as an added accelerant.“There is momentum. There is momentum,” Ms. Pelosi said. “The tone of our conversations is one that is indicative of the decision to get the job done.”Mr. McConnell expressed similar resolve on Thursday, although he stopped short of endorsing the $908 billion outline proposed by a bipartisan group of moderates that Ms. Pelosi has said should be the starting point for talks, instead pressing for a far smaller bill.Stimulus talks have been stalemated for months, with lawmakers unable to resolve differences over issues like liability protections for businesses, a Republican demand that Democrats have resisted, and providing federal aid to state and local governments, a top priority for Democrats that many Republicans oppose. They are also still struggling to resolve a number of policy disputes in the must-pass bills needed to keep the government funded beyond Dec. 11, though most involved in the process say that a resolution is feasible before the end of the year.After months of insisting they would not accept a slimmed-down relief bill, Democrats now appear poised to accept less than one third of the spending they initially proposed to prop up small businesses, help the uninsured and jobless, boost state and local governments, and meet immediate public health needs, leaving other priorities unaddressed until President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. takes office Jan. 20.The emerging compromise would revive lapsed federal unemployment benefits at $300 a week for 18 weeks, and provide billions of dollars in funding for small businesses, schools and the imminent distribution of a vaccine.While a bipartisan group of senators is expected to continue working on finalizing legislative text through the weekend, there remain a number of significant hurdles. The policy divides that have helped derail attempts to reach agreement earlier this year persist even as lawmakers circulate a tentative outline.Pressed on her reversal, Ms. Pelosi was defensive on Friday, saying her earlier, multitrillion-dollar proposals that the Senate called nonstarters were important parts of a negotiating strategy that may now yield results. She insisted that Mr. Biden’s election and the looming arrival of two vaccines amounted to “a total game-changer.”“President-elect Biden has said this package would be at best just a start,” she said. “That’s how we see it, as well. It is less money, but over a shorter period of time, and we need to do it to saves lives and livelihood with the hope that much more help is on the way.”Credit...Stefani Reynolds for The New York TimesCall it the Return of Fauci.It’s not that Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, ever actually went anywhere. It just often seemed that way as he fell out of favor with his boss, President Trump, and was sidelined even as the country grappled with a pandemic.Now it is Mr. Trump who is leaving, and on Thursday, his successor had a message for Americans: Dr. Fauci will soon be back in the mix.“I asked him to stay on in the exact same role he’s had for the past several presidents,” President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. said, “and I asked him to be a chief medical adviser for me as well, and be part of the Covid team.”On Friday morning, Dr. Fauci told NBC’s “Today” show he had accepted the offer “right on the spot.”Mr. Trump had at times been openly scornful of Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and appeared put off by his popularity. The president, who often dismissed the threat of the coronavirus, was also frustrated by Dr. Fauci’s endorsements of masks and restrictions on movement, preferring the counsel of advisers who backed his call to reopen the economy as soon as possible.Even before Mr. Biden’s announcement Thursday, Dr. Fauci found himself in the news as American and British health officials skirmished over the U.K.’s announcement that it had beaten the U.S. in the race to approve a vaccine.Gavin Williamson, Britain’s education secretary, appeared to be crowing.“We’ve obviously got the best medical regulators,” he said. “Much better than the French have. Much better than the Belgians have. Much better than the Americans have.”Dr. Fauci seemed more than a little skeptical.The British authorities, he said, moved more quickly only because they had not scrutinized the vaccine test data as carefully as their American counterparts. “We have the gold standard of a regulatory approach,” he said.Later, a chagrined-looking Dr. Fauci, who is ordinarily averse to public conflict, appeared on British television saying that he wanted to apologize.“We do things a bit more differently, that’s all — not better, not worse, just differently,” he told the BBC.Credit...Kathryn Gamble for The New York TimesMore than a month after Election Day, two extraordinarily close House races remain unresolved.Here’s an overview of the races — in Iowa’s Second Congressional District and New York’s 22nd district — and what needs to happen before the results are finalized.Iowa 2This race for a seat being vacated by Representative Dave Loebsack, a Democrat, was always expected to be close, but it would have been hard to predict just how close.In the initial count, the Republican candidate, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, led Rita Hart, a Democrat, by 47 votes. A recount narrowed Ms. Miller-Meeks’s lead to just six votes, and Iowa officials certified her as the winner on Nov. 30.Ms. Hart chose not to challenge the results through the normal legal process, which would have involved district courts and the Iowa Supreme Court. Instead, she took the unusual step of contesting the election in Washington before the House Administration Committee, which has the power to conduct an investigation and make a recommendation to the full House on which candidate to swear in.New York 22Former Representative Claudia Tenney, a Republican who was unseated by Anthony Brindisi in 2018, led him by just 12 votes after all ballots appeared to have been counted in New York’s 22nd Congressional District, which includes Binghamton and Utica.But then 55 uncounted ballots turned up in Chenango County, throwing the race into even more turmoil than it had already been in thanks to the incredibly close margin and a set of 39 disputed ballots. The outcome may also depend on absentee and affidavit ballots whose validity a judge is expected to determine.There will be extensive litigation, and potentially a recount, before a winner is declared.This is the last outstanding race in New York, where the State Board of Elections certified all other results yesterday. Four other races where results had been delayed because of slow counting — in the First, Second, 11th and 24th Districts — were all recently called for Republicans.Credit...Stephen Speranza for The New York TimesThe coronavirus pandemic has inflicted an economic battering on state and local governments, shrinking tax receipts by hundreds of billions of dollars. Now devastating budget cuts loom, threatening to cripple public services and pare work forces far beyond the 1.3 million jobs lost in eight months.Governors, mayors and county executives have pleaded for federal aid before the end of the year. Yet the Republican leadership shows no sign of coming around on state and local aid, even as efforts to forge a new stimulus bill gained momentum this week.While Congressional Republicans have scorned such assistance, with the Senate majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, referring mockingly to a “blue-state bailout,” six of the seven states that are expected to suffer the biggest revenue declines over the next two years are led by Republican governors and won by President Trump this year, according to a report from Moody’s Analytics. Wyoming, Alaska and North Dakota, which largely depend on energy-related taxes, are among the Republican-led states facing the biggest revenue declines. All three depend on energy-related taxes and have suffered from the sharp decline in oil prices. Places where tourism provides a large infusion of revenues, like Republican-led Florida and Democrat-led Nevada, face revenue declines of 10 percent or more. Louisiana, which also voted for Mr. Trump, relies on both tourism and energy. And Republican-led Iowa is expected to suffer revenue declines as well. Elsewhere, the steep falloff in sales and income taxes — which on average account for roughly two-thirds of a state’s revenue, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts — is forcing Republican and Democratic officials alike to consider laying off police officers, reducing childhood vaccinations and closing libraries, parks and drug treatment centers.Eileen SullivanCredit...Audra Melton for The New York TimesWhen Georgia turned blue for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. this year after record voter turnout, it validated the political vision and advocacy of a group of Black women who have led a decades-long organizing effort to transform the state’s electorate.Democrats celebrated their work registering new voters, canvassing and engaging in long-term political outreach. The achievement seemed to confirm mantras that have become commonplace in liberal politics, like “trust Black women” and “Black women are the backbone of the Democratic Party.”With Georgia at the center of the political universe before two pivotal Senate runoff elections in January, the organizers are asking Democrats: Will you embrace our approach now?“I am unapologetically Black,” said Felicia Davis, a political organizer in Clayton County. “My agenda is Black. My community is Black. My county is Black. So what I do is Black. And for 20 years, we’ve been trying to tell people what was possible.”The coalition of voters who flipped Georgia was a diverse one. Every piece mattered: increased turnout among young voters; outreach to Black, Latino and Asian-American communities; and a rejection of President Trump by some college-educated white voters who typically vote Republican.But in the telling of many Black women who helped organize for Democrats this year, the story of how Georgia voted does not start with Mr. Trump’s election in 2016 or Mr. Biden’s campaign investment this year. It begins a decade earlier, when a new generation of Black female leaders decided to create their own structures after becoming fed up with a state party dominated by conservative “Dixiecrats” and a moderate establishment that presumed the electorate could not change.“People weren’t even paying attention, because they thought that’s just the way it was here,” said Nse Ufot, who leads the New Georgia Project, one of the most prominent groups.Credit...Al Drago for The New York TimesWASHINGTON — Funny what passes for a jolting revelation at the Capitol these days.“I think we all know that after the first of the year, there’s likely to be a discussion about some additional package of some size next year,” Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said on Tuesday as he discussed prospects for a coronavirus relief bill.“Depending on what the new administration wants to pursue,” he added, implying there would be a new president.Maybe he did not mean to be so forthcoming. Mr. McConnell and many of his fellow Republicans are engaged in a delicate verbal dance to avoid alienating the apparently significant portion of the party’s base that still believes that President Trump won. Nor do they want to antagonize the president to the point that he torments them with future grudges, tweets and primary challengers from Mar-a-Lago, which will become the next de facto Republican home office.Privately, pretty much all Republican senators acknowledge that yes, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Jan. 20. This includes even Mr. Trump’s staunchest supporters, like Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who admitted as much to Mark Becker, a former Republican official in the state.In recent weeks, the unwillingness of most Senate and House Republicans to acknowledge an obvious election result has reached new levels of absurd. Whenever another prominent Republican official admits that Mr. Biden in fact won, the news media updates the scoreboard like it’s breaking news, as if a new state had been called on election night.When Mr. McConnell was asked directly about Mr. Trump’s false claims, he reverted to his bland, inscrutable form. “The future will take care of itself,” he said.Credit...Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesPresident-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will face a narrowly divided Congress and a hostile Republican leadership as he tries to pass climate change legislation, piece by piece — knowing full well that the $2 trillion plan he campaigned on will be a tough sell.The leaders of his environment and energy team will be the ones tasked to find a path around Congress with regulations that can cut planet-warming emissions and survive judicial review.Mr. Biden, who already has said that former Secretary of State John Kerry will become an international “climate envoy,” is expected to announce his choices in the coming days. Here are the leading contenders, according to people familiar with the matter:Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency — Mr. Biden’s top choice is Mary D. Nichols, California’s climate and clean air regulator. He is also considering Collin O’Mara, president of the National Wildlife Federation, and Heather McTeer Toney, the former mayor of Greenville, Miss., and a regional E.P.A. administrator in the Obama administration.Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality — Mr. Biden is considering Mustafa Santiago Ali, a veteran of the E.P.A. who serves as a top official at the National Wildlife Federation overseeing social justice matters. Brenda Mallory, another E.P.A. veteran, is also in the running. She served as the general counsel to the environmental quality council during the Obama administration.Secretary of the Interior — Michael Connor, a former deputy secretary of the Interior in the Obama administration and a citizen of Taos Pueblo, one of the country’s 574 federally recognized Native American tribes, is viewed as a strong choice for the post. Two others under consideration are Representative Deb Haaland, Democrat of New Mexico, and one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress; and Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, who is retiring at the end of the year.Secretary of Energy — Ernest J. Moniz, a nuclear physicist who served as Mr. Obama’s second energy secretary, is on the short list. Arun Majumdar, currently leading Mr. Biden’s transition team at the department, is also under consideration, as is Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall who has a deep background in nuclear weapons.White House Climate Change Coordinator — Ali A. Zaidi, New York State’s deputy secretary of energy and environment, is widely considered a front-runner for the new position. The coordinator would work with high-level officials like Mr. Kerry. Jennifer Granholm, a former governor of Michigan and an energy adviser to Hillary Clinton, is also in the running.

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25-year-old billionaire —

Luminar used a special purpose acquisition company to avoid a traditional IPO.




Enlarge / Luminar CEO Austin Russell.LuminarLuminar founder Austin Russell has become one of the youngest self-made billionaires after the lidar maker debuted on public markets on Thursday. Russell, 25, was just 17 when he founded Luminar in 2012. Shares of Luminar rose above $30 a share on Friday, a massive 43 percent gain for the day on top of big gains on Thursday.Luminar has emerged as one of the leading companies in the fast-growing lidar industry.  Carmakers are expected to begin offering lidar as an advanced option for their vehicles in the next few years to enable better driver-assistance technology. Right now, lidar companies are vying to win contracts to supply these sensors.Luminar had a major win in May when it signed a deal with Volvo to supply lidar sensors for vehicles starting in 2022. It was one of the first such deals in the industry.More recently, Luminar struck a deal to supply lidar sensors to Mobileye, the Intel subsidiary that supplies many of the camera-based driver assistance systems in today's cars. Luminar is supplying sensors for Mobileye's self-driving prototypes, not production vehicles, so it wasn't a huge deal on its own. But if Mobileye winds up building its next-generation technology around Luminar's lidar—far from a sure thing—it could lead to a lot of Luminar lidar sales in the future.While industry leader Velodyne has traditionally made 360-degree spinning units designed to sit on a vehicle roof, Luminar's sensors are fixed in place and cover a 120 degree horizontal field of view in front of a vehicle.Long range is viewed as essential for advanced self-driving systems and Luminar claims its lidar has an industry-leading range of 250 meters. One reason for this is that its lasers operate at an unusual frequency. Most lidar sensors operate around 900 nm—largely because silicon-based lasers and sensors work well around this frequency. However, 900nm lasers are subject to strict power limits because they can damage the human retina. In contrast, Luminar operates at 1,550nm. The fluid in the human eye is opaque to light at this wavelength, greatly reducing eye safety concerns. As a result, Luminar can pump a lot more power into its lasers and hence achieve longer range. A major downside to 1,550nm lasers, however, is that it requires the use of more exotic semiconductors like indium-gallium arsenide that tend to be more expensive. But Luminar says they've figured out how to sell its sensors for less than $1,000 in volume.The big question facing Luminar is whether it can deliver on that goal. When Luminar released financial results ahead of this week's merger, it disclosed that it expected to sell 0.1 thousand—that is, around 100—lidar sensors in the 2020 calendar year. To justify its multi-billion dollar valuation, the company is going to have to figure out how to produce tens of thousands of units while hitting that less-than-$1,000 price target.SPACs are having a moment in the EV and lidar sectorsLuminar went public via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC)—a financial vehicle that helps startups bypass some of the complexity and paperwork of a traditional IPO. Instead of offering its shares directly to the public, Luminar merged with a company called Gores Metropoulos that had previously been created for the purpose of finding a startup to take public.This year has seen a boom in SPAC-based deals. Luminar rival Velodyne went public via a SPAC in September. The company's share price has seen only  modest gains since the deal was announced. Another lidar maker, Innoviz, is reportedly considering a SPAC merger.A little-known electric vehicle maker, Lordstown Motors, went public via a SPAC in October and got an enthusiastic reception from investors. So did another electric vehicle maker, Fisker. Yet another EV company, Canoo, announced a SPAC deal in August.

Skeptics worry that this alternate process lets companies opt out of due-diligence steps that help protect retail investors from fraud.Those worries were underscored when aspiring hydrogen truckmaker Nikola went public via a SPAC merger in June. A few months later, the public learned that the company's first product, a semi truck called the Nikola One, had never been functional, despite founder Trevor Milton's claims to the contrary. Milton was forced to resign and Nikola's value is far below the peak it hit shortly after the company went public. Anyone who bought Nikola stock in the first few days of trading has lost most of their money.



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Chrome OS 87 is rolling out now, and it adds a few nice features to help you while browsing the web and when using Bluetooth accessories (via 9to5Google).One new addition in Chrome OS 87 is tab search. I typically have dozens of tabs open at any given time, so I could see how tab search might be a really handy way to find something I’ve lost in the process. Google is also adding tab search to the desktop version of Chrome, though the company said in mid-November that the feature would be coming first to Chromebooks and to other desktop platforms “soon.”








Here’s what tab search looks like. Image: Google


Chrome OS 87 can also now show you the battery levels of Bluetooth devices that you have connected to your computer (such as wireless headphones) in the Settings and Quick Settings menus. I often use a similar feature on my Mac to know when I might need to charge up my AirPods, so I think this could be really useful on Chrome OS. Google has also added 36 new wallpapers from four different artists to Chrome OS 87.

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NEWS AND VIEWS 02 December 2020 Neurons progressively deteriorate with age and lose resilience to injury. It emerges that treatment with three transcription factors can re-endow neurons in the mature eye with youthful characteristics and the capacity to regenerate.

Andrew D. Huberman is in the Department of Neurobiology and the Department of Ophthalmology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305, USA. Contact


Ageing has negative consequences for all the cells and organs in our bodies. Our brains are no exception. Neurons in the developing brain form circuits that can adapt to change and regenerate in response to injury. These capacities have long been known1 to diminish over time, but the molecular shifts that underlie this deterioration have remained mysterious. Lu et al.2 show in a paper in Nature that neurons of the eye can be programmed to revert to a youthful state in which they reacquire their ability to resist injury and to regenerate. The authors’ findings shed light on mechanisms of ageing and point to a potent therapeutic target for age-related neuronal diseases.Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) reside in the eyes and thus outside the skull, but they are bona fide brain neurons. They initially develop as part of the forebrain. Subsequently, RGCs extend projections called axons out of the eye to make connections with neurons in the brain itself. These axons — which join together to form the optic nerve — survive and regenerate if they are damaged early in development, but not after they reach maturity3,4. Evidence indicates3,5 that this shift is intrinsic to RGCs, rather than reflecting changes in the surrounding cells.Myriad studies have searched for factors that can prevent or promote RGC survival and regeneration. A handful of such factors have been identified that can endow mature RGCs with some degree of survival and regenerative capacity — but not enough to fully maintain or restore vision after damage to the opticnerve4.Lu et al. asked whether it is possible to revert RGCs to a younger ‘age’, and whether doing so would allow the cells to regenerate. They infected RGCs in mice with adeno-associated viruses. These harmless viruses had been genetically engineered to induce expression of three of the ‘Yamanaka factors’ — a group of four transcription factors (Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and c-Myc) that can trigger mature cell types to adopt an immature state6. Such an approach normally comes with hazards in vivo: Yamanaka factors can cause cells to adopt unwanted new identities and characteristics, leading to tumours or death7. Fortunately, Lu and co-workers found that they could circumvent these hazards by expressing just Oct4, Sox2 and Klf4 (together called OSK).The authors tested the infected RGCs’ ability to regenerate if the cells’ axons were crushed. They found that the OSK-expressing viruses triggered RGC regeneration and long-distance axon extension following damage to the optic nerve (Fig. 1), with no apparent alterations to RGC identity, formation of retinal tumours or any other ill effects. Figure 1 | Restoring vision in mice. Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) transmit visual information from the eye to the brain along projections called axons. Damage to the RGC axons prevents transmission of this information, leading to sight loss. Lu et al.2 report that treatment of damaged RGCs with a transcription-factor cocktail called OSK restores the cells to a youthful state, leading to axon regeneration and restoration of sight in mice. OSK expression had beneficial effects on RGC axon regeneration in both young and aged mice. In some cases, the regenerated axons extended all the way from the eye to the optic chiasm (the location at the base of the brain at which the optic nerves from each eye cross to the opposite brain hemisphere). It is notable that the effects of OSK are seen in older animals, because studies of RGC regeneration are often conducted in relatively young animals, which have a residual natural regenerative ability. Thus, the evidence suggests that Lu and colleagues’ approach can fully restore long-distance regenerative capacity in mature RGCs — a milestone for the field.Almost all techniques previously used to enhance RGC survival and axon regrowth had to be performed before optic-nerve damage4 — a restriction incompatible with using a technique therapeutically. Excitingly, Lu and colleagues showed that they could induce OSK expression at different time points — even after axon injury — and still improve RGC survival and regeneration. These effects were not limited to optic-nerve injury; OSK expression also effectively reversed RGC and vision loss in a mouse model of glaucoma (the most common cause of human blindness). Expression of OSK in RGCs after axon and vision loss (but before the RGCs died) fully restored vision in these animals. The same was true for wild-type old mice: OSK allowed old mice to regain youthful eyesight.Why might reprogramming old RGCs to a younger state promote regeneration and restore vision? An emerging model in the field of ageing is that, over time, cells accumulate epigenetic noise — molecular changes that alter patterns of gene expression8, including transcriptional changes and shifts in the patterns of methyl groups on DNA. Collectively, these changes cause cells to lose their identity and so to lose the DNA-, RNA- and protein-expression patterns that once promoted their youthful resilience9,10. Given the growing excitement about DNA methylation as a marker of cell age, the authors asked whether OSK expression somehow counteracts the negative effects of ageing or axon injury on DNA methylation.The RNA components of a cell’s protein-synthesizing machine, called the ribosome, are encoded by ribosomal DNA genes that steadily accrue methyl marks with age. The ribosomal ‘DNA methylation clock’ is therefore considered to be a reliable estimate of cell age11. Lu et al. found that damaging the axons of RGCs accelerated ribosomal DNA methylation in a way that mimicked accelerated cellular ageing, whereas OSK expression counteracted that acceleration, indicating that tissue injury in general might be a form of accelerated ageing.The group also tested whether the removal of DNA methylation is required for OSK to regenerate axons or restore vision in old mice. The TET enzymes (TET1, TET2 and TET3) catalyse the removal of DNA methylation12. The authors showed that OSK induced expression of TET1 and TET2 genes, and that reducing TET1 and TET2 production blocked the effects of OSK on RGC regeneration and vision restoration in old mice. Thus, changes in DNA methylation seem essential for the effects of OSK. Indeed, Lu et al. found that OSK restored youthful DNA-methylation patterns across a broad set of genes involved in neuron survival, outgrowth and connectivity. These patterns occur at chromosomal regions that have high levels of PRC2 — a protein complex that alters methylation during development and ageing13. Going forward, it will be important to determine the exact extent to which the positive effects of OSK are mediated by resetting DNA-methylation patterns, and the downstream mechanisms that guide the cellular reset.Are Lu and colleagues’ findings likely to be relevant to humans? The authors found that OSK expression enhanced axon regrowth and cell survival in human neurons in vitro. The effects of OSK in people remain to be tested, but the existing results suggest that OSK is likely to reprogram brain neurons across species.Future research should also address whether OSK expression can have the same remarkable effects on neurons elsewhere in the brain and spinal cord. Given that RGCs are bona fide brain neurons, there is good reason to think they will. As such, the current findings are bound to ignite great excitement, not only in the field of vision restoration but also in those looking to understand epigenetic reprogramming of neurons and other cell types generally. For decades, it was argued that understanding normal neural developmental processes would one day lead to the tools to repair the aged or damaged brain. Lu and colleagues’ work makes it clear: that era has now arrived. Nature 588, 34-36 (2020) References1.D.-B., D. Nature 125, 230–231 (1930).2.Lu, Y. et al. Nature 588, 124–129 (2020).3.Goldberg, J. L., Klassen, M. P., Hua, Y. & Barres, B. A. Science 296, 1860–1864 (2002).4.Laha, B., Stafford, B. K. & Huberman, A. D. Science 356, 1031–1034 (2017).5.Horsburgh, G. M., Lund, R. D. & Hankin, M. H. J. Comp. Neurol. 327, 323–340 (1993).6.Takahashi, K. & Yamanaka, S. Cell 126, 663–676 (2006).7.Abad, M. et al. Nature 502, 340–345 (2013).8.Oberdoerffer, P. et al. Cell 135, 907–918 (2008)9.López-Otín, C., Blasco, M. A., Partridge, L., Serrano, M. & Kroemer, G. Cell 153, 1194–1217 (2013).10.Horvath, S. Genome Biol. 14, 3156 (2013).11.Wang, M. & Lemos, B. Genome Res. 29, 325–333 (2019).12.Rasmussen, K. D. & Helin, K. Genes Dev. 30, 733–750 (2016).13.Laugesen, A., Højfeld, J. W. & Helin, K. Mol. Cell 74, 8–18 (2019).Download references















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Amazon’s decision to fire warehouse worker Courtney Bowden violated labor laws, according to charges filed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last month and obtained by BuzzFeed News. Bowden was advocating for better working when the company abruptly let her go.Bowden was one of many workers fighting for paid time off at Amazon warehouses as the coronavirus pandemic intensified. While the company said it was rolling out increased safety measures, workers continued to get sick and executives became increasingly hostile to employee organizing efforts . In March, Bowden was fired over an alleged incident with her supervisor. Bowden’s termination came at a time of unprecedented demand for Amazon services. Throughout the spring, the company struggled to keep up with rising orders, even as coronavirus outbreaks swept across its own warehouses. Chris Smalls, a warehouse worker on Staten Island, organized a major walkout to protest the lack of personal protective equipment for employees. Amazon fired Smalls and coordinated a campaign to label him as “not smart or articulate” in the press.In May, The Verge reported that seven warehouse workers had died from COVID-19. Bowden argued that Amazon terminated her because she’d been speaking to co-workers about “pay and other workplace issues,” BuzzFeed News reports. The NLRB found the allegations credible enough to pursue charges, alleging that Amazon “has been interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees” as they exercised their protected rights. If Amazon loses the case, it could have to pay Bowden back wages for the period since she was fired. But Bowden said her goal is more than just financial. She told BuzzFeed News she wants “coworkers to see that speaking up about bad working conditions and work benefits is not wrong, and to not be fearful for speaking up for what’s right, because they have a right by law.”Bowden’s complaint is one of many legal actions currently being brought against the tech giant. In November, a judge dismissed a lawsuit from four former workers at a distribution center in New York. It argued the company had created unsafe working conditions during the pandemic. Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Verge.

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After six years, Bungie finally explained Banshee-44

By Dec 4, 2020, 3:37pm EST




Image: Bungie via Polygon















In Destiny 2: Beyond Light’s recent “Lost Lament” Exotic quest, Bungie revealed a connection between two old-school Destiny characters: evil tech magnate Clovis Bray and absent-minded Tower gunsmith Banshee-44. After players completed the Deep Stone Crypt raid, Banshee-44 had a request. He wanted players to recreate a lost sword of his, helping the forgetful gunsmith recover some of his lost memories. And at the end of that quest, Banshee-44 and the Guardians realized that the long-dead Clovis Bray had been reborn as the lovable gunsmith years ago.So how can these two polar-opposite characters exist as the same being? Some hidden Destiny 2 lore tells the story.Who is Banshee-44?








Banshee-44’s memory starts to stir. Image: Bungie via Polygon



In Destiny and Destiny 2, Banshee-44 sits behind his table in the Tower and polishes various weapons. He was the Armsday vendor in the original game and sells both weapons and mods in Destiny 2. Banshee-44 is an Exo, a robot with the mind of a living human uploaded into its consciousness. Banshee-44 — and other notable Exos like Saint-14 and Cayde-6 — aren’t biologically human, but other characters treat them as human beings because they have the mind and personality of someone who used to exist. Banshee-44 is gruff (voiced by John DiMaggio, Gears of War’s Marcus Fenix and Futurama’s Bender) but good-hearted. Aside from his kindly nature and scratchy personality, Banshee-44’s defining characteristic is his forgetfulness. The 44 in his name designates how many times his program has seen a reboot — notably much higher than Saint’s 14 or Cayde’s six. Each reboot takes his memory, and each reboot makes it harder to recall even his short-term experiences. Before the “Lost Lament” quest, Banshee-44’s bad memory had been played for a few gut punches in past Exotic quests. When Cayde-6 died at the hands of Uldren Sov in Destiny 2: Forsaken, Banshee-44 requested that players recover Cayde’s beloved hand cannon, Ace of Spades, from his murderer. Banshee-44 then helped the player fix Ace, vowing not to forget his friend. But even now, Banshee occasionally asks approaching Guardians if they’ve seen Cayde lately. A year ago, and a year after Cayde-6’s death, Banshee-44 asked players to find Cayde-6 and ask him how to find Banshee’s secret workshop so Guardians could acquire the Leviathan’s Breath bow — something Banshee had himself forgotten. Guardians then had to find it for themselves, as nobody wanted to watch Banshee-44 relive Cayde’s death over again.But with the “Lost Lament” quest, Bungie gave Banshee-44’s tragic memory a purpose. Who is Clovis Bray?








The only real remnant of Clovis is his giant AI Image: Bungie via Polygon



Unlike Banshee-44, Clovis Bray was a real bastard.Clovis, a human being, founded the BrayTech corporation, which was responsible for developing numerous technologies during the Golden Age. Clovis’ most recognizable contributions include the Warmind Rasputin and every Exo in the game. Clovis was a genius, but also a monster. He experimented on his dying son, and on his numerous grandchildren — two of which are other famous Destiny characters: Elsie Bray (the Exo Stranger) and Ana Bray.Clovis created his final research facility on Europa, where Elsie joined him as his reluctant assistant. On Europa, Clovis investigated what he called “Clarity Control,” which players know better as the Darkness. Through Clarity Control’s influence, he used the Vex to create Exos. Elsie and Clovis encountered a Vex invasion on Europa, which forced them both to let their human bodies die as they uploaded their consciousness into Exos. Clovis let his granddaughter go first, of course, to make sure the procedure worked properly.After the upload, Clovis emerged in two parts. The first was the Clovis AI, which continued to run the Deep Stone Crypt where Clovis ran his experiments. The second was Clovis-1, Clovis’ custom-made Exo body. And due to the ongoing Vex threat on Europa, the two never synced properly, allowing Clovis-1 to operate independently. How can Banshee-44 and Clovis Bray be the same person?








After “Lost Lament,” Banshee-44 realizes who he is. Image: Bungie via Polygon



During “Lost Lament,” players reactivate the Clovis AI and learn how Clovis-1 became Banshee-44.The Lament sword belonged to Clovis-1 through Clovis-43. He, alongside the Exo Stranger, took on waves and waves of Vex on Europa, burning through them with The Lament. During this battle, the Deep Stone Crypt rebooted Clovis 42 times, and he earned the nickname “Banshee,” due to his ferocious fighting style. After the battle, Clovis-43 worked with Elsie to shut the Clovis AI off. As Clovis lived as an Exo, his new self realized — through his relationship with Elsie — how much damage Clovis Bray did as a man. Wanting to spare Elsie from a relationship with himself and hoping to turn over a new leaf, Clovis-43 asked Elsie to reboot him again, giving him a new life and a new name. She rebooted him as Banshee-44 — this time with no recollection of his previous self — the Exo we know and love. But all the reboots took their toll, and Banshee’s memory would never fully recover. After Guardians place The Lament back in his hands, he regains some of his memories, at least temporarily. His fighting days behind him, he passes on the sword to the Guardians and vows to visit the Clovis AI on Europa before he could forget again. After this conversation, the Clovis AI suggests that it may try to subjugate Banshee-44 and bring him back into the Clovis fold. Banshee-44 represents the potential good in Clovis Bray, the genius without the baggage. If the Clovis AI could infiltrate the Banshee we know, his personality could be overridden completely and replaced by the Clovis AI — returning him to the base form of Clovis that Banshee has been running away from for 43 resets. But he didn’t get the nickname Banshee for nothing, and he may have one good fight left in him.














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SUNKEN TREASURE —

Enigma device stymied Allied intelligence until Alan Turing cracked it.




Enlarge / The Enigma cipher machine found in the Baltic Sea is lying on a table in front of the archaeological office of Schleswig-Holstein. After its discovery, the machine was handed over to the office by research diver Huber. Photo: Axel Heimken/dpa (Photo by Axel Heimken/picture alliance via Getty Images)Getty ImagesDivers scouring the Baltic Sea for discarded fishing nets have stumbled on the rarest of finds: an Enigma encryption machine used by the Nazis to encode secret messages during World War II.The electromechanical device was used extensively by the Nazi military to encrypt communications, which typically were transmitted by radio in Morse Code. Three or more rotors on the device used a stream cipher to convert each letter of the alphabet to a different letter.The Enigma had the appearance of a typewriter. An operator would use the keys to type plaintext, and the converted ciphertext would be reflected in 26 lights above the keys—one light for each converted letter. The converted letters would then be transcribed to derive the ciphertext.Cipher keys were changed using a series of device settings that were changed regularly using lists that were made available in advance. People receiving the messages had to use the same lists as the senders for the messages to be readable.Divers on assignment by the environmental group WWF found the Enigma machine last month while looking for abandoned fishing nets in the Bay of Gelting off the coast of Germany. As the image above shows, the recovered device was rusty and corroded, but individual keys showing the letters they designated remain intact and clearly visible. “A colleague swam up and said, 'There’s a net there with an old typewriter in it,'” Florian Huber, the lead diver, told the DPA news agency. The team soon realized the device was something much more remarkable.“I’ve made many exciting and strange discoveries in the past 20 years. But I never dreamt that we would one day find one of the legendary Enigma machines,” Huber told Reuters.The diver said he suspects the device was lost shortly before Germany’s surrender in May 1945. At the time, Nazi leaders issued an order for submarines to be scuttled in the Gelting Bay to prevent their capture by the Allied Forces.The Enigma made it hard for the Allied Forces to track German submarines until a British team led by mathematician and scientist Alan Turing broke the encryption the device used. The feat made it possible for the Allies to decipher messages about German military movements. Many historians credit the accomplishment with shortening the war and preventing many thousands of deaths.Experts from the State Archaeological Museum will restore the machine. The process, which will include a comprehensive desalinization, is expected to take about a year.



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Google has made significant progress toward developing its own processor to power future versions of its Pixel smartphone as soon as next year — and eventually Chromebooks as well, Axios has learned.Why it matters: The move could help Google better compete with Apple, which designs its own chips. It would be a blow to Qualcomm, which supplies processors for many current high-end phones, including the Pixel.Details:The chip, code-named Whitechapel, was designed in cooperation with Samsung, whose state-of-the-art 5-nanometer technology would be used to manufacture the chips, according to a source familiar with Google's effort. Samsung has also manufactured Apple's iPhone chips, as well as its own Exynos processors.In recent weeks, Google received its first working versions of the chip. However, the Google-designed chips aren't expected to be ready to power Pixel phones until next year. Subsequent versions of Google's chip could power Chromebooks, but that's likely to be even further off.In addition to an 8-core ARM processor, Whitechapel will also include hardware optimized for Google's machine-learning technology. A portion of its silicon will also be dedicated to improving the performance and "always-on" capabilities of Google Assistant, the source said.A Google representative declined to comment for this story.The big picture: The main processor, though just one component in a smartphone, plays an outsize role — helping determine the speed, battery life and capabilities of the device.Apple was early to design its own processor, but many companies have moved in that direction, both for the cost savings and to better control their own destiny. Google has been gradually building its semiconductor capabilities. The Pixel already includes custom Google chips for machine learning and image processing tasks, and the company has hired a number of chip experts from rivals, including Apple and Intel.Yes, but: There's a lot that goes into a phone processor, including core processing along with graphics, communications and other features. A shortcoming in any one area could force Google to stick with an existing chipmaker.

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