Unraveling Obama’s climate legacy may not be as easy as Trump thinks

Climate change is real, despite Trump's claims

Climate change is real, despite Trump’s claims (Credit: Getty/Jewel Samad)

President Trump recently fired off an executive order aiming to wipe out many Obama administration climate change measures, directing federal agencies to take or unwind various actions. Typical for this insider-friendly administration, it’s a polluter’s wish list.

As recently as 2009, Donald Trump and his children signed onto a full-page New York Times advertisement urging climate action, because the science was “irrefutable” and the consequences “catastrophic and irreversible.” Now this. Sad.

But like so much of what this Oval Office does, this executive order was more political theatrics than real policy. Whether Trump is in on the show, or whether he’s more like the addle-headed king whose ministers put shiny proclamations in front of him to keep him occupied and amused, is a question we need not answer here. Either way, his anti-environment entertainments will crash against the bulwark of good, old-fashioned administrative law — the rules governing how we govern.

America is not, despite Trump’s best efforts, a banana republic. The administrative agencies that Trump directed to stop taking action on climate change are obliged to follow the law first, not his executive orders, and they will be held to the law by courts. These agencies can’t make decisions that are, to use the standard of administrative law, “arbitrary and capricious.” This is a White House that lives by being arbitrary and capricious, but administrative agencies cannot be, or their work will be thrown out in court — not by “so-called” judges, by real judges.

Look at the Clean Power Plan, a main target of the recent executive order. That plan was established under the Clean Air Act, a law that overrides any executive order. The question of whether carbon dioxide is a pollutant under the Clean Air Act has been settled, by the Supreme Court no less. Its dangerousness has been established as well. So you have as a matter of law a dangerous pollutant, and under the law, that must be regulated.

The Clean Power Plan is not the only such regulation: EPA’s “Waters of the United States” rule is also based squarely on Supreme Court opinions interpreting the Clean Water Act. Under the Administrative Procedures Act, agencies implementing the Clean Air Act or the Clean Water Act have to follow real facts. “Alternative facts” conjured up in the fever swamp of the Breitbart imagination may be good enough for this White House, and falsehoods have long been cranked out by the fossil fuel industry’s climate-denial scheme, but it would be illegal for agencies to rely on them. Facts have to be real. They have to be sufficient to support the determination of the agency, and the determination has to reasonably stand on those facts.

Judicial review is the key backstop for addressing climate change. It is very hard for the lies that are at the heart of climate denial to withstand judicial scrutiny. Smelly conflicts of interest can be exposed, and administrators with those smelly conflicts can be removed. Judges aren’t influenced by campaign contributions or political threats. The law, and real facts, have the upper hand.

So this latest performance of the Trump Executive Order Show was mostly a waste of time, because ultimately lawyers and courts will see to it that law and truth have the final say. In the meantime, it’s still embarrassing. And it’s harmful, since in the fight against climate change, time is not on our side.

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Can Marijuana Help Crack Addicts Break Free Of Addiction?

Pot helps crack addicts wean off the addictive drug

Pot helps crack addicts wean off the addictive drug (Credit: Photo by maxknoxvill via Pixabay)

Fresh Toast

Currently, there are no effective pharmaceutical therapies for treating people addicted to crack cocaine. However, Canadian researchers recently investigated the influence of marijuana to help people with crack addictions reduce their use. Participants using cannabis did, in fact, reduce their crack intake. The study concluded that, “further clinical research to assess the potential of cannabinoids for the treatment of crack use disorders is warranted.”

That is certainly good news and offers hope for people unable to control their relationship to the hard drug. Making its first big appearance in the 1980s, crack was supposed to get the user addicted after just one hit, or so the story goes. Don’t believe everything you hear, as they say.

There is no doubt that crack is highly addictive, but it is pharmacologically the same as powder cocaine. While it creates a very sudden, intense high, there is little to support the claims that it is more addictive than powder cocaine. Still, rates of addiction are almost identical with nearly 6 percent of users of cocaine or crack developing substance use disorders.

Related Story: Study: Marijuana Is An ‘Exit Drug’ From Opioids And Addiction

This is not the first time marijuana has been investigated to see how it may help those addicted to cocaine. Researchers in Beijing and Baltimore collaborated to study mice that were intentionally addicted to cocaine and taught to self-administer mechanized shots of the drug. A synthetic cannabinoid, closely related to the active compounds found in cannabis, were administered to the test mice. Those with the synthetic cannabinoid in their systems did, in fact, choose to intake less cocaine. The scientists believe that the synthetic cannabinoid affected the (CB2) receptors of the mice, reducing desire for cocaine.

Researchers in Barcelona also found similar promising results working with mice, again by manipulating their cannabinoid receptors. Doing so reduced the desire and self-administration of cocaine. They concluded that manipulating the receptors “may be a novel target for the pharmacotherapy of drug abuse and addiction.”

Related Story: High Sobriety: This Rehab Clinic Lets Patients Smoke Marijuana

One small study in Brazil looked at the impact of cannabis use on the habits and the quality of life of crack users. It found a reduction in crack cocaine-seeking behavior and aggressiveness while partially improving quality of life. Marijuana reportedly helped users to find a better state of tranquility. Some reported that when they smoked marijuana first they became so relaxed and at ease that they didn’t subsequently use cocaine as they normally would have.

Cocaine addiction, regardless of type, endangers the user and reduces quality of life. Willing human subjects and unwitting lab mice have made sacrifices to increase our base of knowledge. Maybe one day an acceptable answer for helping cocaine addicts will be recommended cannabis therapy.

And they told us marijuana was a gateway drug INTO harder drugs. We are beginning to know better.

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Stealth sisterhood: I look white, but I’m also black. And I don’t hate Rachel Dolezal

Author, Mother

A photo of the author with her mother.

On a hot, humid New York City morning in 1980, I stood with my mother in the checkout line of an A&P supermarket near our home. As she pushed our groceries along the cashier’s belt with me trailing behind, mom realized she had forgotten her wallet at home, but she had her checkbook. Leaving me standing alone in the line for a moment while she saw the manager to have her check approved, the clerk refused to bag our groceries and hand them to me. She was black, and I was white. “These groceries belong to that woman over there,” the woman nodded towards my mother. “They ain’t yours.” Confused, I said, “But that’s my mother. I’ll take them for her.” She looked me up and down. “No,” she said, her voice cold.

The clerk refused to believe that indeed I belonged to, and came from, my black mother, until mom returned to find me choking back tears. She gave the clerk a tongue lashing, which was not her style, and we left the market.  Later, mixed Native American and black children threw stones at me near my home on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation as I rode my bike. They yelled, “Get off our land, white girl!” These painful and strange experiences gave me my first taste of racial prejudice, and they have stayed with me all these years.

I am a child of many nations. I am white, I am black, I am Native American. I am West Indian, German, Irish. Brown and light together — integrated, not inter-racial, because race means nothing when you come from everywhere.

This Sunday’s New York Times Race-Related section ran a fascinating piece on DNA and racial identity by West Chester University professor Anita Foeman. For the past decade, she has asked hundreds of people to take part in ancestry DNA tests, and to date, over 2,000 have participated. “But first,” she wrote, “I ask people how they identify themselves racially. It has been very interesting to explore their feelings about the differences between how they define themselves and what their DNA makeup shows when the test results come in.”

Those results are often startling to the subjects and rife with racial stereotypes, Foeman found. According to her studies, some who came up with surprise Asian heritage in spite of looking white or brown noted, “That’s why my son is good at math!” Others who explored African heritage responded, “I thought my biological father might be black; I heard he liked basketball.”  Many of us harbor deeply-rooted prejudices that we aren’t even aware of, until it matters to us.

I don’t remember what mom said that day in the supermarket, but I can tell you that while she had been the object of many, many racist remarks and challenging situations in her life, she was not entirely prepared for what happened that day. That’s not to say she didn’t talk about the reality of how our family was different from others. To try to address the dearth of literary references to kids who looked like me, my mother physically altered my childhood books, using markers to make one parent brown and other other white, while the child originally drawn remained white-appearing, like me. But the scene in the supermarket still took her by surprise.

Confrontations over race can still catch Americans unprepared, such as when Rachel Dolezal, the now-former head of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP, appeared on the media radar. Dolezal, who stopped by Salon recently to talk with me on her book tour, was born white but identifies as black and calls herself “transracial.”

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Dolezal was “outed” two years ago by her biological parents for not being black as she had claimed, and subsequently resigned from the NAACP. She became a polarizing figure under heavy media scrutiny as she appeared to dodge questions about her unconventional chosen identity. She has been unable to continue to work as a university instructor of African and African American art history, and to this day is despised by many observers, black and white, for posing as a black person.

My Salon colleague D. Watkins, an African American writer from Baltimore, wondered why Dolezal couldn’t just “use her whiteness to advocate for black people,” rather than making up and living in her own fantasy world where race and ethnicity no longer cause any social or political delineations. He is one of many to hold this opinion, and it’s one I agree with.

Rebecca Carroll wrote for Dame in 2015 about what she calls Dolezal’s “apocalyptic, White privilege on steroids” with a palpable anger shared by many people of color. When I talked to my childhood writing mentor Barbara Campbell, a former New York Times reporter who is African American and has two multiracial sons, she wondered about Dolezal with a mix of anger and genuine confusion. “What is wrong with that woman? I feel empathy for her, because she is clearly delusional, but she can step out into the world as a white woman any time she wants to stop being ‘black.’ Black women don’t have that luxury.”

Campbell explained that growing up in St. Louis, she had many light-skinned relatives who resembled Dolezal and could “pass” for white, but otherwise lived their lives as people of color. “They would go to ‘work white,’ because they could earn more money and get better-paying jobs, but then they would go home and be black.”

But this Dolezal thing — this is a horse of another color entirely. Why, wondered many, would someone white want to live within the very real challenges of being black in America, when she had a choice? Dolezal’s explanation? She doesn’t define herself by race, just a feeling of affinity with the black culture she’s always had.

As one might expect, the last few years have been tough since her exposure, she told me, noting her newly adopted legal name, Nkechi Amare Diallo, which she claimed was a “gift” to her by a Nigerian man. When she arrived at our offices, it was hard to know what to think, or believe. Frankly, it was hard to feel any animosity at all, despite the vitriolic sentiments many of my dark and light-skinned family, friends and colleagues had for Dolezal. She arrived carrying her beautiful, light brown baby son, Langston Hughes (Yes. Stop. That’s his name. What can you do?), who was cared for by her adopted black sister, Esther. Dolezal appeared like any other tired, working mom. I offered her coffee, and empathy, rather than taking an adversarial approach.

I did suggest, however, that some of the passages in her new book, “In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World,” were outrageous and possibly specious. Dolezal shrugged. “I don’t expect everyone to agree with or believe me,” she said. Among her claims: she grew up living in a tee pee in Montana (my Native American percentage shudders). She was beaten by her parents and forced to weave and wear a coat loomed from dog hair. She identified with people of color from an early age, after reading her grandmother’s National Geographic magazines, and spread mud on her face to try to feel what it was like to have brown skin. Dolezal has said some very polemical things, some — dare I say — dumb things, that do not make her a sympathetic figure. Comparing her white Montana childhood to what chattel slaves experienced, even if indeed she was miserable, is a stretch by any measure, and engendered rightful animus from real black folks.

Juggling Langston with one hand as he fussed after our interview, she inscribed a copy of her book to me with a careful and thoughtful note. Esther, sitting nearby, kept a watchful eye on the baby, and me. She was adopted by Ruthanne and Larry Dolezal in May 1995 at three months old (according to an interview their father Larry Dolezal gave People Magazine in 2015), and has sided with Rachel consistently, in the face of dissension between the other adopted siblings.  They — and Dolezal’s parents — say both Esther and Rachel are guilty of flights of invention, and in 2015, Ruthanne Dolezal told People, “Esther suffers from reactive attachment disorder and she seeks to cause trouble in the family. She is a chronic liar.”

In a 2014 blog post, Esther wrote: “I grew up in a pretty messed up family. And by messed up, I don’t necessarily mean dysfunctional (we were that too), but just plain strange.”

Whatever the reality, some mad funky stuff must have been going on in the Dolezal family to cause Rachel to want to be someone else.  Any person in an abusive situation can relate to the desire to be somewhere, or someone else, so much so that the brain does funny things to make it so in one’s own mind. Or maybe she made it up. We’ll never really know, as it’s her word against her parents’. But that isn’t the point, really.

The majority of the world may see Rachel Dolezal as a perma-tanned, African-braided town crazy, tone-deaf around the realities of white privilege and the acknowledgement of others’ lack thereof.  Some may feel sorry for her. And yet she says she has many quiet supporters, people who themselves feel different and unaccepted in their ethnicity because they look a certain way.

Sitting here in my white skin, with my half-brown black and Native American family, I felt a sadness for Dolezal. I waited for anger. But I found I couldn’t — didn’t want to — hate her, because though I’m a bonafide part-person of color — what I fondly refer to as a “stealth sister” — I am also a sort-of Zelig myself. I think anyone who wants to work for positive change deserves a chance to try. But the first of many differences between Rachel and me is that instead of trying to be different, I learned to be myself and to stand up for others, no matter their skin tone — but especially if they were brown. Because I watched racism happen to my beloved, smart, eloquent, beautiful, capable, passionate, kind, PhD-bearing brown-skinned mother, and so I know what it means to have limited choices, even as I have been blessed with many. And because I know that while Dolezal could choose at any moment to resume — not “pass” for — being white at her convenience, this is a privilege no person of color will ever enjoy.

Steven W Thrasher, a journalist who is half white and half black, wrote in the Guardian in June 2015 about the Dolezal phenomenon, when the story broke. “Many are, and may remain, put off by the sight of a seemingly fair-skinned white woman who passed herself off as a light-skinned African American woman and became a local leader in one of the nation’s most venerable black civil rights group,” he noted. “But like it or not, she’s exposed how shaky and ridiculous the whole centuries-old construct of individual “race” is.”

Even UNESCO, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, issued its “Statement on Race” in 1950.  In it, the social scientists declared that there was no scientific basis or justification for racial bias, according to a piece published July 18, 1950 in The New York Times.  It asserted that humans were equal based on four premises, as summarized by encyclopedia.com: “(1) the mental capacities of all races are similar, (2) no evidence exists for biological deterioration as a result of hybridization, (3) there is no correlation between national or religious groups and any particular race, and (4) “race was less a biological fact than a social myth”. Ultimately, it said, biology was the “universal brotherhood of man.”  The controversy around the UNESCO statement and some of these ideas clearly remains to this day.

And race and color, or ideas about where we come from and what that means, are fraught with challenges. Sometimes we discover, upon reflection, that we don’t look like what’s in our past, or how we feel about this make-up. Professor Foeman, having researched her own DNA and that of thousands of others who didn’t “look” like everything in their makeup, notes a change in thinking. “Today I look at faces, even my own, with new recognition,” she wrote. “I see that people regularly share narratives that miss something their physical features suggest, and sometimes we find ancestry that we would not have imagined. It is a new twist on an old narrative made possible by cutting-edge science.”

Checking the “other” box on my college applications years ago was a metaphor for fitting in everywhere and nowhere, always realizing the “gift” of light skin, trying never to take it for granted, and also remembering how kids threw stones at me for being white in the wrong place. Will kids throw stones a generation later at my own children? Maybe so. And what you see on paper is often not what you get, professor Foeman’s study highlights: When I arrived as a freshman at Vassar College, having checked said “other” box, I was assigned a “big sister” by the African American Association of students. The young woman tried to appear nonchalant when I met with her, but of course I was not what she expected. Nevertheless, she was kind and welcoming, but we both ultimately determined that the African American Club was not a natural home for me. I was too different, and I didn’t fit in. But what matters is that they would have had me.

When someone tells a racist joke, I flinch on so many counts, for all my people. I, like Rachel (and, it’s worth noting, many sociologists), support the notion of race as a social construct, as did my mother. I also hope that collectively we can move forward with a humanity that embraces identity choices without brazenly appropriating the harrowing experiences of others, like slavery. But I do not forget that we aren’t there yet. And I do not create fables around difference, and dissonance. No one should.

From her death bed, my mother and I discussed many things, and one of them was that she insisted I be an agent for change. She also reaffirmed that no matter what people thought of my heritage, it was most important to be a humanist — that is, to consider and respect all parts of my heritage, especially because I look white.

I don’t care that Dolezal lied, personally. I’m just not that invested in anything about her. I don’t feel betrayed. But I do understand the ire she engenders, and why many feel how they do about her.  Some will argue that writing this article feeds her delusions and gives them more of a platform. Maybe, but it also affirms Dolezal’s — and my own — thinking that a greater, ongoing discourse is important around identity and color discrimination. Not just her identity — everyone’s.  “I’m trying to move forward,” said Dolezal. “And, I really hope that . . . if people don’t agree with my identity, we can agree to disagree; we can rally around our shared ideals of justice and equality and freedom and work together.”  I agree with that. Do you?

We’ve closed comments on this post. If you’d like to respond to the story or share your own, send a note to lifeletters@salon.com, and we may publish it in a future follow-up post.

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Everyone can sing: Obsessing over talent might hurt your kids later in life


(Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment)

A Hungarian film titled “Sing” recently won the Oscar for best short film. “Sing” tells the story of young Zsófi, who joins a renowned children’s choir at her elementary school where “everyone is welcome.” The Conversation

Soon after joining, Zsófi is told by her teacher Erika not to sing, but only mouth the words. On the face of it, she accepts her teacher’s request stoically. But later in the movie, her anguish and pain become obvious, when she reluctantly tells her best friend what happened.

The movie goes on to reveal that Zsófi isn’t the only choir member who has been given these hurtful instructions. The choir teacher’s defense is, “If everybody sings we can’t be the best.”

I have been a professor of music education for the past 28 years, and I wish I could say that the story of a music teacher asking a student not to sing is unusual. Unfortunately, I have heard the story many times.

In fact, research shows that many adults who think of themselves as “unmusical” were told as children that they couldn’t or shouldn’t sing by teachers and family members.

All children are musical

Children are natural musicians, as they readily sing, dance and play music from the time they are infants. People ask me all the time how they can tell if their child has musical talent. I assure them that their child – indeed every child – has musical ability that can be developed into a satisfying and lifelong relationship with music.

However, as they get older, some children begin to get messages from peers, family members, the media and (unfortunately) music teachers that they may not be very musical – that they don’t have “talent.”

The ‘talent’ mindset

Shows like “American Idol” have promoted the notion that singing is a rare ability reserved for the talented few, and that those without such talent entertain us only by being ridiculed and weeded out.

This “talent mindset” of music runs counter to what psychologist Carol Dweck calls the “growth mindset” that is considered critical for learning: Students who view their success as a result of hard work will persevere through challenges, while students who believe their success lies with some innate ability – like “talent” – are more likely to give up.

My own research found that if children have a negative view of themselves as singers, they are much less likely to participate in music of any kind.

These self-perceptions of a lack of musical talent can then become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Research shows that adults who dropped out of music as children may lose their singing skills through lack of use and opportunity.

Kids who love music but do not think of themselves as musical could miss out on many of the social and cognitive benefits of music participation, on the experience of feeling connected to others through song. These benefits have nothing to do with talent.

Get children singing

How can we send children the message that singing is for everyone? I argue that change could begin both at home and at school.

For example, if you are a parent, you could sing the music you loved growing up and not worry about how good you sound. Having an adult in the home committed to music and singing without shame may be the most powerful influence on a child. You could sing with your kids from the time they are little, sing with the radio, sing in the car or sing at the dinner table.

As for my fellow music teachers, I ask that you encourage all of the children in your classrooms, schools and communities to sing whenever and wherever they get a chance. The sad truth is, when we, the musical experts, discourage a child from singing, it can deliver a fatal blow to the child’s musical self-image.

Music teachers need to teach in a climate of collaboration and participation where all voices are heard and valued – not one of audition and competition where only the best can sing.

The movie “Sing” is actually titled “Mindenki” in Hungarian, which means “Everybody.” That’s the uplifting message that Zsófi and her choir mates teach Miss Erika in the end. Singing is not reserved for the few: Either everybody sings or nobody should.

Steven M. Demorest is a professor of music education at Northwestern University.

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“Drew! Barry! More Power!”: The 10 best penguin movies ever made

Antarctic Babysitter

(Credit: Getty)

Penguins have been featured in everything from the indie drama “Five Corners,” where Heinz (John Turturro) gifts Linda (Jodie Foster) two penguins he stole from the Bronx zoo, to the documentary “Encounters at the End of the World,” where Werner Herzog asks marine ecologist Dr. David Ainley about insanity among penguins, before following a “deranged” penguin to his certain death. And of course, “The Penguin” was a villain in the “Batman” series.

But most of the 17 species of penguins became hugely popular in documentaries and animated films. Penguins are often depicted as comic because of the way they waddle. But they are cool and cute — check out the punk crests seen on the rockhopper penguins, or the black lines on the chinstrap species. As professional penguin counter Ron Naveen says, “We’d all have sadder lives if we didn’t have penguins to cheer us up!”

Here are 10 films ranging from narrative features and documentaries to animated films and even some shorts, that feature the adorable flightless waterfowl.

1.The Penguin Counters” is the latest documentary in the rookery of “penguin porn.” Inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton, Ron Naveen quit his job as a lawyer to become a penguin counter. He has spent 28 seasons in Antarctica counting penguins to make determinations about ocean health, climate change impact and other related factors, such as penguin populations, diet and more. This engaging nature documentary shows the arduous process of Naveen and his crew traveling to Deception Island (part of an active volcano) to count 60,000 chinstrap penguins. Along the way, they take time out to pay respects to Shackleton’s right-hand man Frank Wild, and visit the Falkland Islands, which respectively provide interesting historical footnotes as well as scenes of the Magellanic penguins in their natural habitat. But it is the scenes of the penguin colonies in Antarctica that will have animal lovers oohing and aahing. Just as Naveen and his crew wait to count penguins, so, too, do viewers. But the payoff of seeing the penguins is worth it.

2. March of the Penguins” The Oscar-winning documentary, narrated by Morgan Freeman, traces the annual mating habits (and circle of life) of the majestic emperor penguins in the South Pole. Filmmaker Luc Jacquet captures the harsh conditions and spectacular beauty that surround the penguins as they trek 70 miles to a secure ice floe. Moreover, while the film shows them marching in a single file, and sliding on their bellies, they are also seen comically slipping and also zipping through water and “flying” back up on to the ice. It’s mesmerizing. The film also chronicles the process of keeping the penguin chick egg safe and warm as expectant parents pass it back and forth. The film, a huge international hit, spawned the penguin craze that continues today.

3. “Penguins of Madagascar” The zany quartet of Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private were the breakout stars of the 2005 hit animated film “Madagascar. While these denizens of the Central Park Zoo literally flew in the 2008 sequel, “Madagascar 2” (well, until Penguin Air crash-landed in Africa and the plot kicked in), they also had their own TV series (2008-12), and, eventually, their own (unrelated) feature film in 2014. In the film, the amusing antics feature Skipper trying to control the other penguins as they embark on various capers. The penguins’ interest in “Cheezy Dibbles,” leads to a globe-hopping adventure to stop Dave, a jealous octopus who wants revenge on the cute penguins. It’s a silly film with some fun slapstick and corny wordplay, such as “You just mermaid my day!” and “Drew! Barry! More Power!”

4. “Happy Feet” Adorable, animated, anthropomorphic penguins sing and dance in this 2006 Oscar-winning film. Mumbles (Elijah Wood) is unable to sing because of a prenatal accident, but boy, can he tap-dance (like Savion Glover, filmed in motion capture). The film, which teaches lessons of difference and diversity (in a colony where penguins look pretty much the same), features many pop songs and poignant moments as Mumbles tries to woo Gloria (Brittany Murphy). And the film, directed by Aussie George Miller, gives Nicole Kidman a chance to act like Marilyn Monroe and Hugh Jackman a shot at impersonating Elvis. The film also raises environmental concerns from overfishing to pollution (as evidenced by plastic rings that choke the penguins). “Happy Feet” was a success at the box office, which of course prompted a sequel, the unspectacular 2011 feature “Happy Feet, Two.”

5. “Surf’s Up” 
Yet another animated penguin film, this comedy, made in 2007, was a surfing mocumentary. The sight gags range from penguin surfer hieroglyphics to footage from SPEN (Sport Penguin Entertainment Network). The plot has macaroni penguin Cody Maverick (Shia LaBeouf) following his dream to win a World Surfing Contest, like his hero, Big Z (Jeff Bridges). He finds a love interest in Lani, a gentoo lifeguard (Zooey Deschanel). The penguins are hilarious in “Surf’s Up, in the jungle or getting all bug-eyed reacting to wipeouts. A sequel,  “Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania” was released earlier this year.

6. “Farce of the Penguins” Easily the worst penguin film ever, this 2006 mockumentary, written and directed by Bob Saget, is a painfully dull and rude spoof of “March of the Penguins.” The film features footage of penguins in the Antarctic while comedians voice penguin crude humor. As one uncomfortable penguin (Gilbert Gottfried) screams about “freezing his nuts off,” he also gets into a fight with narrator Samuel L. Jackson over whether penguins have nuts. As Carl (Saget) and Jimmy (Lewis Black) march off to their mates, they participate in an Army-style call and response where they debate if penguin pussy is hot or cold. Despite the tuxes, however, it’s all very lowbrow, and best viewed with the sound off.

7.Mr. Popper’s Penguins” The classic 1938 children’s book by Richard and Florence Atwater became a Jim Carrey vehicle in 2011. The silly film has an uptight businessman who inherits six penguins (a mix of live and CGI birds) from his late adventurer father. He keeps them in his fancy New York apartment, where they run amok (one even gets caught in the toilet) and like to be kept very, very cold. Popper tries to keep the one named “Stinky” housebroken, but he has trouble grappling with the penguins’ noise and smell. Among the comic highlights is a set piece involving the penguins surfing down the ramp of the Guggenheim, and flying through the air. The film is mostly satisfying for its target audience: children and penguin lovers.

8. “Mondo Penguin” This humorous 2009 short claims that for the past 50 years, “Penguins have been making experimental and avant-garde films,” such as “Stop! It’s Frozen,” “The Fish, the Walrus, and My Insecurities” and “The Thought of Flight.” And Dr. Charles Heathrow (Andy Maguire), historian, writer and founder of Mondo Penguin, a nonprofit distribution operation for films “made by penguins and for penguins,” can’t think of a more beautiful film than “Tuxedo Drifter,” by Flippy. Thanks to “Mondo Penguin,” audiences can see glimpses of its genius.

9.The Wrong Trousers” Penguins are not always good or cute as evidenced in this Oscar-winning 1993 “Wallace and Gromit” short, featuring a mischievous penguin. When the crafty villain moves in with Wallace and Gromit, he disrupts the household dynamic, forcing the loyal silent dog to right the wrongs. Gromit observes the bird’s criminal scheme, which involves using a pair of “techno-trousers” that Wallace has invented to commit a diamond heist. While the penguin is cunning, he is no match for a dog who loves his owner. “The Wrong Trousers” features comic high jinks not only in the clever scenes of the penguin casing the joint — using a tape measure to maneuver up the side of the building — but also in the robbery itself (which causes the cool bird to sweat over a few developments) as well as during the madcap finale that plays out on a train track.

10. City Slickers” This charming documentary traces the African urban penguin Henry making his home in Boulders, a beachside town in South Africa. The film uses a penguin-cam to give the bird’s-eye view of life, and shows the penguins climbing, jumping and dodging traffic as they live side by side with townsfolk. A group of penguins invade local homes, pools and even a golf course! The penguins do have their own private beach where they burrow and fight as they molt, mate and feed and shelter their young chicks who are susceptible to predators and early death. Trevor de Kock’s film also chronicles the local rescue efforts when an oil spill threatened the penguins’ health and safety. While “City Slickers” is not an easy film to find, it is one of the most charming penguin documentaries.

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Remake of Classic ‘Your Brain on Drugs’ Ad Slams Disastrous Drug War

Remake of "This is your Brain" ad

Remake of “This is your Brain” ad


Twenty years ago today, one of the most memorable ads of all time was launched, when Rachael Leigh Cook and her frying pan starting smashing up eggs in her infamous, “This is Your Brain on Drugs” ad.

Today, Rachael Leigh Cook, her frying pan and eggs are back but this time in a new ad that slams the drug war and its racist enforcement.

The new video, made by Green Point Creative, opens with Cook and her frying pan. She holds up a white egg and explains that it represents one of the millions of Americans who uses drugs but never gets arrested. She then picks up a brown egg and says, “This American is several times more likely to be charged with a drug crime.”

The animated ad, narrated by Cook, then shows what happens to the brown egg that is arrested and funneled through the criminal justice system. The ad highlights a range of harmful collateral consequences that result from drug arrest, including the loss of student financial aid, hindered job prospects and broken up families. The add contrasts the white egg’s family that was never arrested, despite also using drugs.

The ad ends with Cook looking into the camera, holding her pan and with a smashed egg and saying, “The war on drugs is ruining peoples’ lives. It fuels mass incarceration, it targets people of color in greater numbers than their white counter parts. It cripples communities, it costs billions and it doesn’t work. Any questions?”

It is gratifying and promising to see the evolution in Rachael Leigh Cook and in the American public over these last 20 years. The war on drugs is a disastrous failure that has ruined millions of peoples’ lives, especially people of color. Let’s hope this ad is seen by as many people as the original and inspires folks to end this unwinnable war.


This piece first appeared on the Drug Policy Alliance Blog

Tony Newman is communications director for the Drug Policy Alliance.

Source: New feed

Drugmakers dramatically boosted lobbying spending in trump’s first quarter

The drug lobby is stepping up efforts to out-play Trump

The drug lobby is stepping up efforts to out-play Trump (Credit: AP)

Eight pharmaceutical companies more than doubled their lobbying spending in the first three months of 2017, when the Affordable Care Act was on the chopping block and high drug prices were clearly in the crosshairs of Congress and President Donald Trump.

Congressional records show those eight, including Celgene and Mylan, kicked in an extra $4.42 million versus that quarter last year. Industry giant Teva Pharmaceutical Industries spent $2.67 million, up 115 percent from a year ago as several companies embroiled in controversies raised their outlays significantly.

“It’s certainly a rare event” when lobbying dollars double, noted Timothy LaPira, an associate professor of political science at James Madison University. “These spikes are usually timed when Congress in particular is going to be really hammering home on a particular issue. Right now, that’s health care and taxes.”

Trump has come down hard on drugmakers, stating in a press conference before his inauguration that the industry is “getting away with murder.” He has promised to lower drug prices and increase competition with faster approvals and fewer regulations. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) have introduced bills to allow lower-cost drug imports from Canada or other countries.

Lobbyists weren’t expecting much by way of big policy changes during the comparatively sleepy end of the Obama administration this time last year, but with a surprise Trump administration and a Republican-controlled House and Senate, trade groups and companies are probably “going all in,” LaPira said.

Thirty-eight major drugmakers and trade groups spent a total of $50.9 million, up $10.1 million from the first quarter of last year, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis. They deployed 600 lobbyists in all.

PhRMA, the drug industry’s largest trade group, spent $7.98 million during the quarter —more than in any single quarter in almost a decade, congressional records show, topping even its quarterly lobbying ahead of the Affordable Care Act’s passage in 2010.

In their congressional disclosures, companies listed Medicare price negotiation, the American Health Care Act, drug importation and the orphan drug program as issues they were lobbying for or against. They do not have to disclose on which side of an issue they lobbied.

When Medicare prices are on the table, it should come as no surprise that pharmaceutical companies are interested in influencing congress.

“It’s quite literally hitting their bottom line,” LaPira said.

Drugmakers under fire more than doubled their lobbying dollars. Mylan spent $1.45 million during the quarter, up from $610,000 last year. The company’s CEO faced a congressional hearing in the fall when it raised the price of EpiPen to over $600.

Marathon Pharmaceuticals spent $230,000, which was $120,000 more than last year. Marathon was criticized in February after setting the price of Emflaza, a steroid to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy, at $89,000 a year. That angered advocates, Congress and patients who had been importing the same drug for as little as $1,000 a year. Marathon has since sold the drug to another company, and the price may come down.

Teva and Shire also more than doubled their spending. Teva was accused as part of an alleged generic price-fixing scheme in December, and the Federal Trade Commission sued Shire because one of its recently acquired companies allegedly filed “sham” petitions with the Food and Drug Administration to stave off generics.

Companies that make drugs for rare diseases also more than doubled lobbying dollars as congressional leaders and the Government Accountability Office work to determine whether the Orphan Drug Act is being abused. Those firms include BioMarin, Celgene and Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Celgene, which makes a rare cancer drug, more than tripled its first quarter lobbying to more than $1 million.

Despite efforts to make good on campaign promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act, House Republicans canceled a floor vote on the American Health Care Act in March after multiple studies estimated that millions of people would lose coverage if it passed, and neither Democrats nor ultra-conservatives lined up in opposition to the bill’s provisions. Drug prices weren’t a key part of the package.

KHN’s coverage of prescription drug development, costs and pricing is supported in part by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.


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On the Trump train to Siberia: Even on the Trans-Siberian Railway, I couldn’t get away from our new American reality

Trump Train

(Credit: Getty/Salon)

I did not expect to be in Siberia for Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Which is to say, I’d known for a few months that I’d be in Siberia on Jan. 20, 2017. I just thought I’d be missing Hillary Clinton’s inauguration instead. That thought had made me a little sad. Seeing the first woman president of the United States sworn in, it was a moment in history I hadn’t wanted to miss. But there was always YouTube, I told myself, and when opportunities come up to go someplace like Siberia and take the Trans-Siberian Railway, the world’s longest railway route, all the way from Vladivostok to Moscow, I take them.

I’m not going to pretend to be neutral here: On Nov. 8, when it became clear Trump would be president, I raged. I cried. I felt numb. I did not want to accept that an extremely accomplished, strong, smart woman had lost to a sexist, racist reality TV star. It was really too on the nose.

I sure didn’t want to see Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Spending Inauguration Day in Siberia seemed like a great idea. It was far away, a place associated with cold, exile and gulags, with a potential for isolation — could we even get the internet on the Trans-Siberian Railway? I liked the idea that we were going at the coldest time of the year. Dealing with the cold would give me something to focus on other than the reality of a President Trump.

Also, there was the whole Trump/Putin bromance, Russia hacked our election deal, and I’m a sucker for cheap irony.

I traveled with a good friend and her mom, whose parents were both born in Russia. The idea of this trip, besides taking the Trans-Siberian Railway all the way from beginning to end (or maybe it was the other way around, given we started in Vladivostok), was visiting some of the places Olga’s family had lived and worked in. Ulan Ude and Irkutsk were two of those places, on opposite ends of Lake Baikal, so those would be our stops between Vladivostok and Moscow.

Siberia, you should know, is beautiful, at times breathtakingly gorgeous, from our train a succession of little towns with brightly painted, steep-roofed wooden houses, onion-domed churches, frozen rivers, endless birch and pine forests frosted with snow, vistas of ice, all under a bluebird sky.

I slept through Trump’s inauguration, as our train rumbled through snow-covered villages, a modest city or two. When I woke up, there were notifications on my phone (it turns out you can get internet over data along most of the Trans-Siberian Railway route), informing me that “Donald Trump Has Been Inaugurated 45th President of the United States.” I didn’t want to use the data to click on the articles.

Shortly after that, we arrived in Ulan-Ude, capital of the Buryatia Republic. Buryats, a Mongolian people, make up close to a third of the population of Buryatia, and Ulan-Ude is an interesting-looking city, with its mix of Mongolian, old Russian and Soviet architecture. Ulan-Ude also has the world’s largest Lenin head, something to put on your list.

First post-inauguration Donald Trump sighting: On a TV in the lobby of the Hotel Geser in downtown Ulan-Ude. I made a face, shook my head. The Buryat desk clerk grinned, not meeting my eyes. I like to think she agreed with me.

“Congratulations on your new president,” said our guide for the day. She was an elegant Buryat, middle-aged, with impossibly round, prominent cheekbones, like half-plums.

“Oh no,” my friend Christy and I chorused. “We don’t like him. He is very bad for our country.” We went on. Our guide seemed shocked for a moment. “Well, it is worth celebrating a peaceful transition,” she said, smiling.

We managed to have a Trump-free trip until we left Irkutsk and boarded the train for Moscow. This would be our longest stretch on the train — four nights and four days. It turned out to be the oldest of the trains we traveled on, with suspension that approximated a bouncy castle. On the plus side, at least for the first few days it wasn’t as stiflingly hot as these trains can get —while you are trundling through Siberia and it’s -30F outside, it’s often semi-tropical inside the train’s compartments, with some women wearing butt-hugging short shorts and a few men going topless.

We were the only Americans we saw on this entire trip and just about the only tourists. Of course on a long trip without a lot of better things to do, we attracted some attention. I shared cat photos with a sweet carriage attendant while waiting for the bathroom at 4:30 a.m. (she worked the night shift). But it was a trio of Russian guys who were most interested in talking to us.

And they wanted to talk about Trump.

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It started with Inna, the sweet carriage attendant. Who did I like better, Trump or Obama? A tall Uzbek kid recently graduated from high school helped translate — he had a good Russian/English dictionary app on his smartphone. Obama, I replied.

A Russian guy popped his head out from his compartment. “Trump!” he said, making a thumbs-up gesture. He was in his thirties, a sleek and wiry man with dark, slightly feral good looks. He seemed to know this by the way he would pose, a study in taut relaxation.

“Trump . . . he has become crazy,” I said. Well, more accurately, the Russian phrasebook on my phone said. It was the best I could come up with.

“He’s rich!” the man said, translated by my Uzbek friend.

“His father’s money,” I replied.

“Why did you Americans vote for him?” the Uzbek wanted to know.

“Most of us did not,” I said.

He seemed sympathetic.

Later, the Russian guy, Nicolai, and two of his friends, Alexander and Igor, also in their thirties, came into our compartment. Alexander and Nicolai were truck drivers for Gazprom (Russia’s huge and partially government-owned natural gas company). Alexander, tall and pale, wore his blond hair in a sort of bowl cut, his eyes dark-circled, maybe from the cigarettes he constantly smoked. Igor was short, the shape of a small barrel, with a tanned face, shaved head and brown eyes that seemed warm. He was in the military. I’m not sure which branch.

It started off like this: I made the mistake of demonstrating my one solid Russian sentence: “I like Russian beer.” Friends, do not do this. Because what will happen is, a Russian guy will go down to the dining car and return with three cans of Baltika 7s for the American ladies in the compartment, along with cheaper Polish beers for themselves and a plastic water bottle full of vodka for everyone to share.

The reason for the plastic water bottle turned out to be that it is not exactly legal to drink alcohol in your train compartment, or at least that it was problematic for reasons we couldn’t determine. One of the carriage attendants — a stern-faced older woman with a poof blonde hairdo — came in at one point and scolded us: “The police are here!”

We all hid our beer cans like guilty teenagers.

We tried to offer the Russians beer in return, an imperial stout we’d bought at a craft beer bar in Irkutsk that came from a microbrewery in Krasnoyarsk, which is the third-largest city in Siberia. They refused the beer, but Igor in particular was quite interested in the label, a moody black-and-white image that turned out to be a missile launcher in a grove of birch trees.

Alexander showed us pictures of his two kids, a 10-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl. He took particular pride in sharing photos of his son in a martial arts uniform, practicing kicks and punches. Igor had pictures of his niece. Also many shots of jet planes and missiles.

It was at times a confusing couple of hours. They didn’t speak English, and of the three of us, only Olga spoke Russian, and not all that much. So the conversation proceeded with Olga translating what she could, the use of various dictionary apps and a lot of miming.

Igor was fascinated by my hair. He kept saying my hair “was like an Indian,” meaning a Native American, which he confirmed by doing a stereotypical war whoop, several times. He’d reach over and touch my hair to emphasize his fascination. For the record, my hair is longish, a mix of brown, blonde and silver, which I don’t color, and it’s parted on the side. I have no explanation for how this made me have “hair like an Indian,” particularly when Christy has long black hair that’s parted down the middle. You’d think she would be the one who had “Native American hair.” Instead, Igor kept saying he wanted Christy to stay so he could marry her, at times putting his arm around her. It’s possible he was a little drunk, but I’m pretty sure they all were.

And they all liked Trump. Nicolai liked that Trump was rich. Igor liked that Trump was strong — unlike Obama, whom he characterized as “Mickey Mouse.” Christy and I said we did not like Trump, that he was bad for America and for the world, that he’s crazy, that he got his money from his father — none of that mattered to these men. Trump likes Russia, and that was enough.

Why does CNN show such anti-Russian propaganda?, Alexander wanted to know. “Libya, Iraq, Syria — why do Americans think Russia is always the aggressor?” he asked mournfully. Why does “the black” Obama (that was Olga’s translation) blame them for everything?

Russia is a good country, Russians are good people, Putin has made things better, they said. It was hard for me to know how to reply, but then, I couldn’t speak their language.

I tried. I said, “You are Russian. You like Putin. That is up to you.” I gave them a thumbs up. “I am American. I don’t like Trump.” But they were not interested in hearing what I thought about my own president.

It didn’t matter that we said repeatedly how much we loved Russia, how beautiful we thought it was, how much we were enjoying our travels. Why did Americans have such negative opinions of Russia, they wanted to know? Why did they have so little understanding of what Russia is like? “We have no bears on the streets,” Alexander said, several times.

Why do Americans think Russia is bad?

Why don’t we love them?

Igor showed us more photos of planes and missiles. Russia would never use them, he insisted. We shouldn’t worry. “We’re not going to start Big Fire” — meaning a nuclear war.

“You are a very interesting person,” Alexander said to me. “You should study Russian. It is a very interesting language.”

“I want to,” I told him. “For my next trip.”

We had to toast to the veterans of wars at one point. You have to stand up to do this, and you do not clink your glasses. It is too solemn for that. Igor mentioned Stalingrad. “Only 1 percent survived,” he said.

Eventually, the three men drifted out. But Igor returned later with some tea that he wanted us to have. The tea helps you sleep and makes you strong, Igor told us.

The strict blonde train attendant passed by, looked in the compartment and saw that we were drinking tea. She smiled approvingly.

We spent at least 20 minutes trying to determine what a series of American movies Igor wanted to discuss were. He had the DVDs at home. The films might have featured Jon Bon Jovi. And a missing hand. And creatures with teeth. And possibly shooting.

We never did figure it out.

* * *

We finished up our travels in Saint Petersburg, a lovely city with so much art and history that a few days can’t possibly do it justice. On our last night, we visited the taproom of one of Russia’s better-known craft breweries. Chatting with one of the beer-tenders, who spoke excellent English, I mentioned the imperial stout we’d had on the train. I showed him a photo I’d taken of the label, the one with the missile launcher in a grove of birch trees.

He studied the photo and shook his head. “We avoid these kind of subjects for our labels, anything political. We get enough politics outside, we can’t get away from politics, with Putin.”

I lifted my glass in a toast. I sympathized. Unlike Russians, I don’t have to worry too much about my political opinions getting me arrested, or worse. But I can’t get away from politics either, not even in Siberia.

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Facial recognition is increasingly common, but how does it work?

Facial recognition surveillance system

(Credit: Getty/Maxiphoto/Salon)

The Trump administration’s efforts to impose new immigration rules drew attention — and legal fire — for its restrictions on the ability of people born in certain majority Muslim countries to enter the U.S. In the frenzy of concern, an obscure piece of the executive orders did not get scrutinized, or even noticed, very much: its expansion of facial recognition systems in major U.S. airports to monitor people leaving the U.S., in hopes of catching people who have overstayed their visas or are wanted in criminal investigations. The Conversation

It’s a much more powerful version of the method your phone or computer might use to identify friends in your photos. Using computers to recognize people’s faces and validate their identities can streamline access control for secure corporate and government buildings or devices. Some systems can identify known or suspected criminals. Businesses can analyze their customers’ faces to help tailor marketing strategies to people of different genders, ages and ethnic backgrounds. There are even consumer services that take advantage of facial recognition, like virtual eyeglass fitting and virtual makeovers.

There are also serious privacy concerns as government agencies and companies are more able to track individuals through their communities, and even around the world. The facial recognition market is worth approximately US$3 billion and is expected to grow to $6 billion by 2021. Surveillance is a large reason for growth; government entities are the primary consumers.
The FBI has a database with images of approximately half the U.S. population. There are also fears of people using facial recognition to engage in online harassment or even real-world stalking.

As facial recognition becomes more common, we must know how it works. As someone who studies and researches the legal implications of new technology in criminal investigations, I believe it’s important to understand what it can and can’t do, and how the technology is progressing. Only then can we have informed discussions about when and how to use computers to recognize that most human of features — our faces.

How it works

As one of several methods of what are called “biometric” identification systems, facial recognition examines physical features of a person’s body in an attempt to uniquely distinguish one person from all the others. Other forms of this type of work include the very common fingerprint matching, retina scanning, iris scanning (using a more readily observable part of the eye) and even voice recognition.

All of these systems take in data — often an image — from an unknown person, analyze the data in that input, and attempt to match them to existing entries in an database of known people’s faces or voices. Facial recognition does this in three steps: detection, faceprint creation, and verification or identification.

When an image is captured, computer software analyzes it to identify where the faces are in, say, a crowd of people. In a mall, for example, security cameras will feed into a computer with facial recognition software to identify faces in the video feed.

Once the system has identified any potential faces in an image, it looks more closely at each one. Sometimes the image needs to be reoriented or resized. A face very close to the camera may seem tilted or stretched slightly; someone farther back from the camera may appear smaller or even partially hidden from view.

When the software has arrived at a proper size and orientation for the face, it looks even more closely, seeking to create what is called a “faceprint.” Much like a fingerprint record, a faceprint is a set of characteristics that, taken together, uniquely identify one person’s particular face. Elements of a faceprint include the relative locations of facial features, like eyes, eyebrows and nose shape. A person who has small eyes, thick eyebrows and a long narrow nose will have a very different faceprint from someone with large eyes, thin eyebrows and a wide nose. Eyes are a key factor in accuracy. Large dark sunglasses are more likely to reduce the accuracy of the software than facial hair or regular prescription glasses.

A faceprint can be compared with a single photo to verify the identity of a known person, say an employee seeking to enter a secure area. Faceprints can also be compared to databases of many images in hopes of identifying an unknown person.

It’s not always easy

A key factor affecting how well facial recognition works is lighting. An evenly lit face seen directly from the front, with no shadows and nothing blocking the camera’s view, is the best. In addition, whether an image of a face contrasts well with its background, and how far away it is from the camera, can help or hurt the facial recognition process.

Another very important challenge to successful facial recognition is the degree to which the person being identified cooperates with — or is even aware of — the process. People who know they are using facial recognition, such as that employee trying to get into a restricted room, are relatively easy to work with. They are able to look directly at the camera in proper lighting, to make things optimal for the software analysis.

Other people don’t know their faces are being analyzed — and may not even know they’re being surveilled by these systems at all. Images of their faces are trickier to analyze; a face picked out of a crowd shot may have to be digitally transformed and zoomed in before it can generate a faceprint. That leaves more room for the system to misidentify the person.

Potential problems

When a facial recognition system incorrectly identifies a person, that can cause a number of potential problems, depending on what kind of error it is. A system restricting access to a specific location could wrongly admit an unauthorized person — if, say, she was wearing a disguise or even just looked similar enough to someone who should be allowed in. Or it could block the entry of an authorized person by failing to correctly identify her.

In law enforcement, surveillance cameras aren’t always able to get very good images of a suspect’s face. That could mean identifying an innocent person as a suspect – or even failing to recognize that a known criminal just ran afoul of the law again.

Regardless of how accurate it appears to be on TV crime dramas, there is room for error, though the technology is improving. The National Institute of Standards and Technology has estimated that stated error rates are declining 50 percent every two years, and are currently around 0.8 percent. That’s better than voice recognition, which has error rates above 6 percent. But facial recognition may still be more error-prone than iris scanning and fingerprint scanning.

Privacy concerns

Even if it’s accurate, though — and perhaps even more so as accuracy improves – facial recognition raises privacy concerns. One of the chief worries is that, much like the rise of DNA databases, facial features and photos are being warehoused by government agencies, which will become able to track people and erase any notion of privacy or anonymity.

New privacy problems are cropping up all the time, too. A new smartphone app, FindFace, allows people to take a person’s photo and use facial recognition to find their social media accounts. Ostensibly a convenient way to connect with friends and co-workers, the app invites misuse. People can use it to expose identities and harass others.

These new capabilities are also raising concern about other malicious uses of publicly available images. For example, when police issue alerts about missing children, they often include a photograph of the child’s face. There is little regulation or oversight, so nobody knows whether those images are also being entered into facial recognition systems.

This, of course, doesn’t even touch on using facial recognition tools along with other technologies like police body cameras, geolocation software and machine learning to assist in real-time tracking. That goes beyond simple identification and into the realm of where someone has been, and where the software predicts they will go. Combining technologies offers attractive options for crime fighting, and deepens the fissures in our privacy.

Technology provides powerful tools, and the law is often ill-equipped to keep pace with new developments. But if we’re going to be using facial recognition in immigration and law enforcement decisions, we must engage with its possibilities and its detriments, and understand the issues of accuracy, privacy and ethics this new capability raises.

Jessica Gabel Cino is associate dean for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Law at Georgia State University.

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Meet Power Plant Gym: The first to mix fitness and marijuana

Bong hit workouts are the new cool

Bong hit workouts are the new cool (Credit: AP)

Fresh ToastCannabis and athletics are a pairing that produce love and confusion in equal parts for a lot of people. Marijuana is a plant with many capabilities, able to invigorate and energize you while also letting you disconnect and relax at the end of your day, all depending on your mood and mindset. Power Plant Fitness in San Francisco plans to use the properties of cannabis as a way of enhancing the performance of their members and helping them focus on their workout.

Related Link: 7 Smoking Hot Marijuana Gift Ideas For 4/20 and Beyond

Even though Power Plant plans on giving cannabis to their members before or after their workout, as either an enhancement or a recovery tool, the gym doesn’t want their business to be exclusively about marijuana. The founders want to develop an environment of wellness where marijuana will play an important role and where people will feel like they belong, while also being something more than your average gym. Power Plant’s instructors are equipped with the necessary knowledge on training and physiology with the purpose of giving people the greatest results available while also debunking the myth of the lazy stoner and highlighting the positive power that marijuana can produce.

Related Link: Colorado Agency Teams Up With Lyft To Promote Driving Safety on 4/20

You can check out the video below which sheds a light on some of the reasons why this gym was developed and discusses some of the perks that marijuana offers to athletes.



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