Uncategorized

‘Very smelly’ cat stuck in car air vent

Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption The car’s owner has no idea how long the cat had been on board

A car had to be partially dismantled after a stowaway cat got “well and truly trapped” in the front grille.

It is thought the male tabby might have been stuck for up to two days when the driver of the Ford Focus noticed it staring back at him in Clacton, Essex.

Steven Kane had driven about 80 miles (128km) on a holiday from Hertfordshire and said he had no idea when “our little hitchhiker” got on board.

The AA took the car apart to get to the “very smelly” cat.

Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption The AA was called in to take the car apart

The unchipped moggy – nicknamed Ford – was both a little whiffy and hungry when he was pulled to safety after the car owner parked up on the seafront in Clacton, RSPCA inspector Lucy Brennan said.

Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption “I’d say ‘thanks’, but frankly this view is not much better…”

The charity had to call in the AA, who “carefully dismantled the car by taking out the headlights and bumper and freeing the poor moggy”.

You may also like/be interested in:

“He was very smelly and very hungry,” Ms Brennan said.

“The AA explained that even if the cat had been trapped when the motorist was driving the car, luckily the area he was in has no moving parts and doesn’t get hot when the engine is on.

Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption If Ford’s owner does not come forward, he will be rehomed

“Having said that, it must have been quite an ordeal for poor Ford,” she added.

The cat is now recovering after his moment of Top Gear-type madness earlier this month, but the RSPCA said his tail will need to be amputated as it was injured, although they are not sure whether this happened as a result of being stuck in the vent.

Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk

adminadmin‘Very smelly’ cat stuck in car air vent
read more

“Its Just a Snapshot”: Mom Sends a Must-Read Message to Parent Shamers & Judgers

It’s easy to parent shame when you’re getting a millisecond window into somebody’s life via a picture on social media.

“How dare that mom feed that 2-year-old a hot dog and Coke? It’s all junk food,” one might think in briefly evaluating a Facebook photo. But how do you know that mom doesn’t feed her child grilled chicken and steamed broccoli every other night of the week, and that this wasn’t just their fun “cheat” meal?

On the flipside, idolizing someone’s life based on a snapshot is easy to fall prey to as well. After that “perfect” family photo taken amidst majestic mountain scenery, that family may have been fighting like cats and dogs on the way home in the SUV.

The point, particularly that Etched in Home’s Casey Huff is trying to drive home, is that we only ever see “glimpses” into people’s live’s with pictures. Social media doesn’t tell the whole story. It can show somebody’s best side or worst side, but it never shows the big picture, so we shouldn’t judge as though we know that person’s life.

Read Casey’s wise words of advice that she shared with a snapshot of her sons in a Facebook post below:

“We all know.

It’s just a snapshot.


Facebook

It’s hard to remember that sometimes in a world that seems run by social media.

We see tiny glimpses of each other’s lives, and when we string enough of these tiny glimpses together, it’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking we’re seeing the full picture.

It’s easy to imagine that we “know” people who we don’t truly know, and it’s easy to assess the quality of each other’s existence without seeing the behind the scenes truths that make up each of our lives.

But here’s the reality:

That family who looks exceedingly happy in every photo? They may love each other endlessly, but I’m willing to bet they frustrate each other sometimes, too (and I’d also daresay that somewhere in the photo there’s a mom bribing everyone with candy if they’ll stop bickering and smile for “just two seconds!”)

That photo that shows a happy meal and soda sitting in front of a 2-year-old? I’m sure that little one’s parents feed him/her a balanced diet on most nights of the week, but that this particular evening was extra busy or just called for a special (and easy) treat.

That gorgeous girl, the one who looks flawless in every photo; the one who has curves in all of the right places, a killer sense of style, and every hair in place? I bet she battles self-confidence issues, too.

That photo of a kid sitting unrestrained in the front seat of a car? What you can’t tell is that they’re parked in the driveway. That newborn sleeping soundly in a sea of loose blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals? Just off camera is a Mama who is sitting a foot away keeping a watchful eye on her baby.

The Instagram feed of the spotless home; the one whose shiplap and sparkling wood floors make you pause just a bit longer in a moment of envy? I bet its floor has seen a box of Cheerios strewn carelessly about by tiny hands.

That candid shot with a mile-high pile of dishes looming in the background? I bet that sink isn’t always overflowing, and that its owners found the focus of the photo to be more important in that moment than a clean kitchen worthy of being shown off.

We forget that these images are just snapshots.

They’re just one second in time, one moment in the long line of millions of others that make up the who, what, where, when, why of our very existence.

Yet we judge, judge, judge.
And we shame, shame, shame.
And we idolize.
And we let ourselves feel less-than because of someone else’s moment and our assumption of perfection.

We allow social media to act as a textbook of our lives rather than a tool to document the seconds that pass by oh so very quickly.

But they’re just snapshots.

And a snapshot will never tell our whole story.”

Read Next On FaithIt
Dad Warns Parents to Check Children’s Toys After Making Alarming Discovery Under 3-Yr-Old’s Truck

Read more: http://www.faithit.com

adminadmin“Its Just a Snapshot”: Mom Sends a Must-Read Message to Parent Shamers & Judgers
read more

Keeping animals cool in the heatwave

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The RSPCA advises making sure dogs have plenty of fresh water, as they aren’t able to regulate their body temperature in the same way as people can

As temperatures continue to soar, livestock and pets require greater care than usual. A previously “fit and healthy” dog died recently in Greater Manchester from heatstroke after a morning walk. So what can you do to keep animals safe?

For many four-legged, finned or furry friends, the prolonged warm and dry weather can cause problems. The RSPCA has received hundreds of calls over recent days about animals suffering from heat exposure.

Dogs in particular struggle in the hot weather because they are not able to cool down through sweating, as humans do, and those breeds with long coats are especially prone to overheating.

A five-year-old German Shepherd was put down on Friday after suffering heatstroke following a walk. The RSPCA said the owner had been throwing a ball for their pet when the dog became ill, began suffering seizures and had to be put down.

The RSPCA has released a series of tips for keeping animals safe and comfortable during the heatwave.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionFive ways to keep your dog cool this summer

These include avoiding leaving animals in hot cars, conservatories, outbuildings or caravans, which, even just for a short while, can be fatal due to rising temperatures.

It also says it is best to walk a dog early in the morning or late in the evening when it is cooler, as paws can burn on a hot pavement. Exercise can also increase the risk of heatstroke.

For anyone popping on suncream, it might also be important to put some on your pet.

Animals’ exposed spots, such as ears and noses, are vulnerable to sunburn and – just like people – sun damage can lead to skin cancer.

Gareth Parry, from Shropshire, said his cat Mr Smith developed pre-cancerous cells on his ears, where his hair was most fine.

Image copyright Gareth Parry
Image caption Mr Smith’s owner regularly had to suncream his ears, as white cats are more prone to developing skin cancer

Mr Parry, 39, said: “His ears were almost completely pink because his hair was so white. His ears were practically bald.

“We used to have to put sun cream on every time he went outside.”

The Blue Cross said white cats were at a higher risk of developing skin cancer from sunlight exposure than others.

And horses are also at risk of being burned by the fierce sun.

Gemma Stanford, director of welfare for The British Horse Society, said: “Like paler-skinned and fair-headed humans, horses with flesh-coloured skin and grey or white hair are most susceptible to burning.

“Their noses are particularly sensitive to the sun.”

Image copyright British Horse Society
Image caption Horses also need suncream to prevent against burning

Even some breeds of cow can get sunburn on their noses – although the NFU said it was quite rare.

For farmers with livestock, the main problem could be a lack of food as, without rain, there is poor grass growth.

Mike Thomas, a spokesman for the NFU, said: “We set up a fodder bank, so members who are having problems can get in touch

“And members can help each other, someone who has a surplus of feed, can sell it on to other farmers.

“But animals are used to being out in all weathers, cows will naturally migrate to where the shade is and farmers will be putting out more water for them in their fields.”

Image caption The NFU said cows will naturally move into shadier spots during the heatwave

But there are plenty of ways to keep pets cool.

At the RSPCA Block Fen Animal Centre in Cambridgeshire, the staff have been keeping the animals cool with iced treats and a paddling pool.

Its staff advise freezing treats or water to give pets their own “ice cream”, while they also say damp towels for your pet to lie on or an ice pack wrapped in a towel could provide a welcome relief from the heat.

And what about more exotic animals?

West Midlands Safari Park staff have been hosing down ostriches and feeding giraffes ice lollies to help them cope with the heat.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionGiraffes handed lollies at West Midlands Safari Park

But even wildlife can struggle during the warm weather.

Fish rescue teams have been out at the top of the Teme, near Leintwardine in Herefordshire, where the drying river is causing problems for its resident trout.

The Environment Agency workers were out moving the fish to a more healthy flow downstream.

Dave Throup, from the agency said: “It does dry out, it has a history of drying out, it doesn’t happen every year, but when you get a lengthy dry period. What is different this time is that it has dried out very quickly.

“We have had to rush out to rescue the fish, as the river drops into the gravel, it leaves large pools so the fish get stranded and they can’t get downstream.

“The oxygen levels are dropping, the water is warming up, and the herons can see them. Unless we go in, they would die.”

Get in touch

It’s not just animals who are finding it difficult to cope in the heat – what tips do you have for staying cool?

Send us your ideas and we could be in touch.

If you are reading this page on the BBC News app, you will need to visit the mobile version of the BBC website to submit your question on this topic.

Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk

adminadminKeeping animals cool in the heatwave
read more

A High School Teacher Is Going Viral for Documenting the Dumbest Thing One of His Students Did

Being a teacher is one of the most fulfilling careers out there. Every day, you get the chance to mold the young minds who will grow up to be the leaders of the world.

You also get a front row seat to some of the most hilarious interactions ever.

Back in 2014, former teacher, NoahtheRed, made a Reddit post about the dumbest person he’d ever met. That person was a student in his ninth-grade class whom he referred to in his post as Kevin.

Here are some excerpts from NoahtheRed’s post.

Advertisement

Read more: http://twentytwowords.com/

adminadminA High School Teacher Is Going Viral for Documenting the Dumbest Thing One of His Students Did
read more

Cats choreographer Gillian Lynne dies

Image copyright Getty Images

Leading British choreographer Dame Gillian Lynne has died aged 92.

She passed away on Sunday evening at the Princess Grace Hospital in central London, her actor husband Peter Land said on Twitter.

Dame Gillian began her career as a ballet dancer but achieved her greatest success in the theatre world, devising the dances for Lord Lloyd-Webber’s Cats and Phantom of the Opera.

She worked on more than 60 shows in the West End and Broadway,

Lord Lloyd Webber, paid tribute to Dame Gillian on Twitter, writing: “Farewell dearest Gillie, three generations of the British musical owe so much to you.”

Last month Dame Gillian attended a renaming ceremony hosted by Lord Lloyd-Webber and producer Cameron Mackintosh, as the original London home of Cats was renamed in her honour.

The New London Theatre, now known as the Gillian Lynne Theatre, has become the first West End venue named after a non-royal woman.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Dame Gillian Lynne with Andrew Lloyd Webber at the renaming ceremony

Dame Gillian, who was born in Bromley, south-east London, started her career at the age of 16 performing classical roles with the Sadler’s Wells Ballet, moving on to stage musicals and television in the 1950s.

She went on to worked as a choreographer for the Northern Ballet and the Bolshoi.

In 1981 Dame Gillian took on Cats which ran for almost 9,000 performances in London, and five years later Phantom, a major international success and seen by many as her greatest achievement as a choreographer.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionAt the age of 88, Dame Gillian Lynne is recreating a ballet, ‘Miracle in the Gorbals’ which she performed to troops in the second World War

Her other credits include Lloyd-Webber’s Aspects of Love, the stage version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Barbra Streisand’s film Yentl.

She won two Olivier Awards during her career, as well as a Golden Rose of Montreux Award for her work on TV’s Muppet Show, and a Bafta for the BBC dance drama A Simple Man.

Her damehood in 2014 was for services to dance and musical theatre.

Elaine Paige, who played the lead in the original production of Cats, paid tribute her “dear friend and teacher”.

There was also praise from actress Dame Joan Collins, who described Dame Gillian as “brilliantly talented”.

The best way to get news on the go

Download the BBC News App.

Related Topics

Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk

adminadminCats choreographer Gillian Lynne dies
read more

Watch this orangutan play with a fidget spinner

Koko and Miss Patterson, a Stanford student, practicing sign language.
Image: Bettmann Archive/ getty images

Koko, the beloved gorilla best known for mastering sign language, died in her sleep at age 46 on Wednesday.

The Gorilla Foundation announced Koko’s death via social media on Thursday, saying she “touched the lives of millions as an ambassador for all gorillas and an icon for interspecies communication and empathy.”

Koko, whose full name was Hanabi-ko (meaning “Fireworks Child” in Japanese,) was born on July 4, 1971. Over the years the western lowland gorilla learned more than 1,000 different signs, developed a love of cats, worked alongside many humans including sign language instructor Dr. Francine “Penny” Patterson, and inspired several documentaries and the popular children’s book, Koko’s Kitten.

Her willingness to interact with people and her eagerness to learn allowed the world to observe a great deal about her species, and throughout the course of her life Koko made many celebrity friends, including Mister Rogers and Robin Williams.

After news of Koko’s death reached social media, fans showed an outpouring of love for the gorilla, thanking her for all her contributions.

The Gorilla Foundation noted in a press release that it will continue to honor “Koko’s legacy” and work with wildlife.

Read more: http://mashable.com/

adminadminWatch this orangutan play with a fidget spinner
read more

19 Pictures of the Craziest Coincidences on the Planet

Every so often, something happens that truly makes you believe that life is not random but a carefully planned out sequence of events.

Advertisement

Read more: http://twentytwowords.com/

adminadmin19 Pictures of the Craziest Coincidences on the Planet
read more

The great firewall of China: Xi Jinpings internet shutdown

The long read: Before Xi Jinping, the internet was becoming a more vibrant political space for Chinese citizens. But today the country has the largest and most sophisticated online censorship operation in the world

In December 2015, thousands of tech entrepreneurs and analysts, along with a fewinternational heads of state, gathered in Wuzhen, in southern China, for the countrys second World Internet Conference. At the opening ceremony the Chinese president, XiJinping, set out his vision for the future ofChinas internet. We should respect the rightof individual countries to independently choosetheir own path of cyber-development, said Xi,warning against foreign interference in other countries internal affairs.

No one was surprised by what they heard. Xi had already established that the Chinese internet would be aworld unto itself, with its content closely monitored and managed by the Communist party. In recent years, the Chinese leadership has devoted more and more resources to controlling content online. Government policies have contributed to a dramatic fall in the number of postings on the Chinese blogging platform Sina Weibo (similar to Twitter), and have silenced manyof Chinas most important voices advocating reform and opening up the internet.

It wasnt always like this. In the years before Xi became president in 2012, the internet had begun to afford the Chinese people an unprecedented level of transparency and power to communicate. Popular bloggers, some of whom advocated bold social and political reforms, commanded tens of millions of followers. Chinese citizens used virtual private networks (VPNs) to access blocked websites. Citizens banded together online to hold authorities accountable for their actions, through virtual petitions and organising physical protests. In 2010, a survey of 300Chinese officials revealed that 70% were anxious about whether mistakes or details about their private life might be leaked online. Of the almost 6,000 Chinesecitizens also surveyed, 88% believed it wasgood for officials to feel this anxiety.

For Xi Jinping, however, there is no distinction between the virtual world and the real world: both should reflect the same political values, ideals, and standards. To this end, the government has invested intechnological upgrades to monitor and censor content. It has passed new laws on acceptable content, and aggressively punished those who defy the new restrictions. Under Xi, foreign content providers havefound their access to China shrinking. They are being pushed out by both Xis ideological war and hisdesire that Chinese companies dominate the countrys rapidly growing online economy.

At home, Xi paints the wests version of the internet, which prioritises freedom of information flow, as anathema to the values of the Chinese government. Abroad, he asserts Chinas sovereign right to determine what constitutes harmful content. Rather than acknowledging that efforts to control the internet areasource of embarrassment a sign of potential authoritarian fragility Xi is trying to turn his vision ofaChinanet (to use blogger Michael Antis phrase) into a model for other countries.

The challenge for Chinas leadership is to maintain what it perceives as the benefits of the internet advancing commerce and innovation without letting technology accelerate political change. To maintain his Chinanet, Xi seems willing to accept the costs in terms of economic development, creative expression, government credibility, and the development of civil society. But the internet continues to serve as a powerful tool for citizens seeking to advance social change and human rights. The game of cat-and-mouse continues, and there are many more mice than cats.


The very first email in China was sent in September 1987 16 years after Ray Tomlinson sent the first email in the US. It broadcast a triumphal message: Across the Great Wall we can reach every corner in the world. Forthe first few years, the government reserved the internet for academics and officials. Then, in 1995, it was opened to the general public. In 1996, although onlyabout 150,000 Chinese people were connected tothe internet, the government deemed it the Year of the Internet, and internet clubs and cafes appeared all over Chinas largest cities.

Yet as enthusiastically as the government proclaimed its support for the internet, it also took steps to control it. Rogier Creemers, a China expert at Oxford University, has noted that As the internet became a publicly accessible information and communication platform, there was no debate about whether it should fall under government supervision only about how such control would be implemented in practice. By 1997, Beijing had enacted its first laws criminalising online postings that it believed were designed to hurt national security or the interests of the state.

Chinas leaders were right to be worried. Their citizens quickly realised the political potential inherent in the internet. In 1998, a 30-year-old software engineer called Lin Hai forwarded 30,000 Chinese email addresses to aUS-based pro-democracy magazine. Lin was arrested, tried and ultimately sent to prison in the countrys first known trial for a political violation committed completely online. The following year, the spiritual organisation Falun Gong used email and mobile phones to organise a silent demonstration of more than 10,000 followers around the Communist partys central compound, Zhongnanhai, to protest their inability topractise freely. The gathering, which had been arranged without the knowledge of the government, precipitated an ongoing persecution of Falun Gong practitioners and a new determination to exercise control over the internet.

The man who emerged to lead the governments technological efforts was Fang Binxing. In the late 1990s, Fang worked on developing the Golden Shield transformative software that enabled the government toinspect any data being received or sent, and to block destination IP addresses and domain names. His work was rewarded by a swift political rise. By the 2000s, he had earned the moniker Father of the Great Firewall and, eventually, the enmity of hundreds of thousands ofChinese web users.

Security
Security outside Googles office in Beijing in January 2010. Photograph: Diego Azubel/EPA

Throughout the early 2000s, the Chinese leadership supplemented Fangs technology with a set of new regulations designed to ensure that anyone with access to Chinas internet played by Chinese rules. In September 2000, the state council issued order no 292, which required internet service providers to ensure that the information sent out on their services adhered to the law, and that some domain names and IP addresses were recorded. Two years later, Beijing blocked Google for thefirst time. (A few years later, Google introduced Google.cn, a censored version of the site.) In 2002, the government increased its emphasis on self-censorship with the Public Pledge on Self-Discipline for Chinas Internet Industry, which established four principles: patriotic observance of law, equitableness, trustworthiness and honesty. More than 100 companies,including Yahoo!, signed the pledge.

Perhaps the most significant development, however, was a 2004 guideline on internet censorship that called for Chinese universities to recruit internet commentators who could guide online discussions in politically acceptable directions and report comments that did notfollow Chinese law. These commentators became known as wu mao dang, or 50-cent party, after the small bonuses they were supposedly paid for each post.

Yet even as the government was striving to limit individuals access to information, many citizens weremaking significant inroads into the countrys political world and their primary target was corruptlocal officials.


In May 2009, Deng Yujiao, a young woman working inahotel in Hubei province, stabbed a party official to death after she rejected his efforts to pay her for sex andhe tried to rape her. Police initially committed Dengto a mental hospital. A popular blogger, Wu Gan, however, publicised her case. Using information gathered through a process known as ren rou sousuo, orhuman flesh search engine, in which web users collaborate to discover the identity of a specific individual or organisation, Wu wrote a blog describing the events and actions of the party officials involved.

In an interview with the Atlantic magazine at the time,he commented: The cultural significance of fleshsearches is this: in an undemocratic country, the people have limited means to get information [but] citizens can get access to information through the internet, exposing lies and the truth. Dengs case beganto attract public support, with young people gathering in Beijing with signs reading Anyone couldbeDeng Yujiao. Eventually the court ruled thatDeng had acted in self-defence.

During this period, in the final years of Hu Jintaos presidency, the internet was becoming more and more powerful as a mechanism by which Chinese citizens heldtheir officials to account. Most cases were like that of Deng Yujiao lodged and resolved at the local level. Asmall number, however, reached central authorities inBeijing. On 23 July 2011, a high-speed train derailed inthe coastal city of Wenzhou, leaving at least 40 people dead and 172 injured. In the wake of the accident, Chinese officials banned journalists from investigating, telling them to use only information released from authorities. But local residents took photos of the wreckage being buried instead of being examined for evidence. The photos went viral and heightened the impression that the governments main goal was not toseek the true cause of the accident.

A Sina Weibo polllater blocked asked users whythey thought the train wreckage was buried: 98%(61,382) believed it represented destruction of evidence. Dark humour spread online: How far are wefrom heaven? Only atrainticket away, and The Ministry ofRailways earnestly requests that you ride theHeavenly Party Express. The popular pressure resultedin a full-scale investigation of the crash, andinlate December, the government issued a reportblaming poorly designed signal equipment and insufficient safety procedures. Asmany as 54 officials faced disciplinary action as aresult of the crash.

The internet also provided a new sense of community for Chinese citizens, who mostly lacked robust civil-society organisations. In July 2012, devastating floods inBeijing led to the evacuation of more than 65,000 residents and the deaths of at least 77 people. Damages totalled an estimated $1.9bn. Local officials failed to respond effectively: police officers allegedly kept ticketing stranded cars instead of assisting residents, andthe early warning system did not work. Yet the realstory was the extraordinary outpouring of assistancefrom Beijing web users, who volunteered theirhomes and food to stranded citizens. In a span of just 24 hours, an estimated 8.8m messages were sent onWeibo regarding the floods. The story of the floods became notonly one of government incompetence, butalso oneof how an online community could transform intoareal one.


While the Chinese people explored new ways to use theinternet, the leadership also began to develop a tastefor the new powers it offered, such as a better understanding of citizens concerns and new ways to shape public opinion. Yet as the internet increasingly became a vehicle for dissent, concern within the leadership mounted that it might be used to mobilise alarge-scale political protest capable of threatening thecentral government. The government responded withastream of technological fixes and political directives; yet the boundaries of internet life continuedto expand.

The advent of Xi Jinping in 2012 brought a new determination to move beyond deleting posts and passing regulations. Beijing wanted to ensure that internet content more actively served the interests of theCommunist party. Within the virtual world, as in thereal world, the party moved to silence dissenting voices, to mobilise party members in support of its values, and to prevent foreign ideas from seeping intoChinese political and social life. In a leaked speechinAugust 2013, Xi articulated a dark vision: Theinternet has become the main battlefield for thepublicopinion struggle.

Early in his tenure, Xi embraced the world of social media. One Weibo group, called Fan Group to Learn from Xi, appeared in late 2012, much to the delight of Chinese propaganda officials. (Many Chinese suspected that the account was directed by someone in the government, although the accounts owner denied it.) Xi allowed avisit he made to Hebei to be liveblogged on Weibo bygovernment-affiliated press, and videos about Xi, including a viral music video called How Should IAddress You, based on a trip he made to a mountain village, demonstrate the governments increasing skillatdigital propaganda.

Xi
Xi Jinping at the World Internet Conference in Jiaxing, China, in 2015. Photograph: Aly Song/Reuters

Under Xi, the government has also developed new technology that has enabled it to exert far greater controlover the internet. In January 2015, the government blocked many of the VPNs that citizens hadused to circumvent the Great Firewall. This was surprising to many outside observers, who had believed that VPNs were too useful to the Chinese economy supporting multinationals, banks and retailers, among others forthe government to crack down on them.

In spring 2015, Beijing launched the Great Cannon. Unlike the Great Firewall, which has the capacity to block traffic as it enters or exits China, the Great Cannon is able to adjust and replace content as it travels around the internet. One of its first targets was the US coding andsoftware development site GitHub. The Chinese government used the Great Cannon to levy a distributed denial of service attack against the site, overwhelming itwith traffic redirected from Baidu (a search engine similar to Google). The attack focused on attempting toforce GitHub to remove pages linked to the Chinese-language edition of the New York Times andGreatFire.org, apopular VPN that helps people circumvent Chinese internet censorship.

But perhaps Xis most noticeable gambit has been toconstrain the nature of the content available online. InAugust 2013, the government issued a new set ofregulations known as the seven baselines. The reaction by Chinese internet companies was immediate. Sina, for example, shut down or handled 100,000 Weibo accounts found to not comply with the new rules.

The government also adopted tough restrictions oninternet-based rumours. In September 2013, the supreme peoples court ruled that authors of online posts that deliberately spread rumours or lies, and wereeither seen by more than 5,000 individuals or shared more than 500 times, could face defamation charges and up to three years in jail. Following massive flooding in Hebei province in July 2016, for example, thegovernment detained three individuals accused of spreading false news via social media regarding the death toll and cause of the flood. Some social media posts and photos of the flooding, particularly of drowning victims, were also censored.

In addition, Xis government began targeting individuals with large social media followings who might challenge the authority of the Communist party. Restrictions on the most prominent Chinese web influencers, beginning in 2013, represented an important turning point in Chinas internet life. Discussions began to move away from politics to personal and less sensitive issues. The impact on Sina Weibo was dramatic. According to a study of 1.6 million Weibo users, the number ofWeibo posts fell by 70% between 2011 and 2013.


The strength of the Communist partys control over theinternet rests above all on its commitment to prevent the spread of information that it finds dangerous. Ithas also adopted sophisticated technology, such as theGreat Firewall and the Golden Shield. Perhaps its most potent source of influence, however, is the cyber-army it has developed to implement its policies.

The total number of people employed to monitor opinion and censor content on the internet a role euphemistically known as internet public opinion analyst was estimated at 2 million in 2013. They are employed across government propaganda departments, private corporations and news outlets. One 2016 Harvard study estimated that the Chinese government fabricates and posts approximately 448m comments on social media annually. A considerable amount of censorship is conducted through the manual deletion of posts, and anestimated 100,000 people are employed by both the government and private companies to do just this.

Private companies also play an important role infacilitating internet censorship in China. Since commercial internet providers are so involved in censoring the sites that they host, internet scholar Guobin Yang argues that it may not be too much of astretch to talk about the privatisation of internet content control. The process is made simpler by the fact that several major technology entrepreneurs also hold political office. For example, Robin Li of Baidu is a member of the Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference, an advisory legislature, while Lei Jun, founder and CEOof mobile phone giant Xiaomi, is arepresentative ofthe National Peoples Congress.

Yet Xis growing control over the internet does not come without costs. An internet that does not work efficiently or limits access to information impedes economic growth. Chinas internet is notoriously unreliable, and ranks 91st in the world for speed. As New Yorker writer Evan Osnos asked in discussing thetransformation of the Chinese internet during Xistenure: How many countries in 2015 have an internet connection to the world that is worse than itwas a year ago?

Scientific innovation, particularly prized by the Chinese leadership, may also be at risk. After the VPN crackdown, a Chinese biologist published an essay thatbecame popular on social media, entitled Why Do Scientists Need Google? He wrote: If a country wants tomake this many scientists take out time from the short duration of their professional lives to research technology for climbing over the Great Firewall and toinstall and to continually upgrade every kind of software for routers, computers, tablets and mobile devices, no matter that this behaviour wastes a great amount of time; it is all completely ridiculous.

More difficult to gauge is the cost the Chinese leadership incurs to its credibility. Web users criticising the Great Firewall have used puns to mock Chinas censorship system. Playing off the fact that the phrases strong nation and wall nation share a phonetic pronunciation in Chinese (qiangguo), some began usingthe phrase wall nation to refer to China. Those responsible for seeking to control content have also been widely mocked. When Fang opened an account onSina Weibo in December 2010, he quickly closed the account after thousands of online users left expletive-laden messages accusing him of being a government hack. Censors at Sina Weibo blocked Fang Binxing as asearch term; one Twitter user wrote: Kind of poetic, really, the blocker, blocked. When Fang delivered a speech at Wuhan University in central China in 2011, a few students pelted him with eggs and a pair of shoes.

Nonetheless, the government seems willing to bear the economic and scientific costs, as well as potential damage to its credibility, if it means more control over the internet. For the international community, Beijings cyber-policy is a sign of the challenge that a more powerful China presents to the liberal world order, which prioritises values such as freedom of speech. It also reflects the paradox inherent in Chinas efforts topromote itself as a champion of globalisation, whilesimultaneously advocating a model of internet sovereignty and closing its cyber-world to information and investment from abroad.

Adapted from The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping andtheNew Chinese State by Elizabeth C Economy, publishedby Oxford University Press and available atguardianbookshop.com

Follow the Long Read on Twitter at @gdnlongread, or sign up to the long read weekly email here.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

adminadminThe great firewall of China: Xi Jinpings internet shutdown
read more

Dazzling fireworks can have big drawbacks. But technology can help.

Some of us can’t wait for the summer sun to go down so we can set off fireworks.

But for others, the loud sounds and bright lights can be a problem.

If you’ve ever been to a fireworks show, you know that they can be spectacular. They can also be really overwhelming, especially for those who live with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Vince Bryant, a veteran living in Texas, told ABC News that the sounds of the fireworks are so much for him that he puts on headphones and locks himself in a closet when they start.

“It sends me right back to Iraq. Automatically it puts me in a situation like we fighting,” Bryant said.

And those with PTSD aren’t the only ones affected by bright, noisy light shows.

Cats and dogs are often terrified by what’s going on. And fireworks are not particularly great for some environments — especially those susceptible to wildfires. Even when fire isn’t an issue, environmental concerns remain. Fireworks contribute to pollution, and in some cases, the smog they create can last several days.

Once a spent firework has reached the ground, it can hurt in other ways. The residue that fireworks leave behind often ends up in lakes or rivers, and that can lead to health problems in humans.

Fortunately, technology has come a long way, and fireworks are only one way to celebrate summer holidays.

For one, fireworks distributors often sell silent fireworks. And communities are starting to celebrate with large-scale productions that aim to include everyone while keeping tensions, and pollutants, low.

At Travis Air Base in Northern California, traditional fireworks were replaced with 500 perfectly synchronized drones.

The drones fly in colorful formations without booms or whistles, allowing everyone to enjoy the beautiful light show without having to worry that a giant bomb is going off somewhere.

Other areas like Aspen, Colorado, where wildlife could be hurt by the fallout from fireworks, have ordered drone shows as an environmentally friendly display.

Here’s what some of the drone shows look like:

Bottom line: A more inclusive fourth is awesome for everyone.

There’s nothing exactly like the thrill of setting off a firework in the middle of the street and running as fast and far as you can before it goes off in a shower of sparks and shrieking whistles. But that’s just not  fun — or even doable — for everyone.

More options means more ways for friends, families, and loved ones to enjoy holiday light shows together. And after unlimited hot dogs and an entire day off, that’s the best thing of all.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/

adminadminDazzling fireworks can have big drawbacks. But technology can help.
read more

Anybody Missing An Absolutely Enormous Cat?

UPDATE: June 20 ― Chubbs the cat has been adopted by a couple in Monrovia, California, according to a Pasadena Humane Society statement sent to HuffPost. The couple, Yvette and Ruben Viola, lost their 14-year-old cat to cancer three months ago.

Chubbs was initially slated to go up for adoption Sunday, but the shelter postponed the date to investigate the claims of several people who said Chubbs was their cat. When the shelter found none of the claims to be credible, Chubbs went up for adoption on Wednesday. Yvette Viola, who had already visited Chubbs in the shelter, was first in line, according to the Los Angeles Times.

PREVIOUSLY:

A California animal shelter is trying to find the owners — or, if they can’t be found, a new home — for an extra-large, fluffy cat who was found wandering the streets.

“HUGE CAT ALERT,” wrote The Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA on Twitter Thursday. The accompanying photo of the big, blue-eyed cat staring into the camera has since gone viral.

“As millions of Americans hit the gym on the quest for the perfect summer body, a 29lb cat began an exercise regimen of his own,” the organization wrote on Facebook. “Earlier this week, the 10-year-old Himalayan mix took himself for an afternoon walk down a busy Altadena street. Luckily, he was found by a good Samaritan who lugged him to the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA for care.”

The cat, now being called “Chubbs,” didn’t have any ID. If an owner doesn’t come forward by 11 a.m. Sunday, Chubbs will be put up for adoption. Because he’s too big to comfortably fit inside a kennel, he’s currently residing in a staff office.

Though Chubbs is adorable, it’s not cute for cats to be so overweight. Excess weight can lead to a slew of serious health problems for animals, and pet obesity is a big issue in the United States.

“We need to get some weight off of him, and whoever adopts him is hopefully going to have a little bit of fun exercising him,” Pasadena Humane Society president Julie Banks told local news station KTLA.

When Chubbs came in, he had matted fur so severe it appeared to be causing him pain, likely because he’s too big to groom himself properly. That’s why, in the video above, much of Chubbs’ fur appears to have been shaved or cut off.

Despite his physical struggles, Chubbs’ sweet nature is shining through.

“He is 29 pounds of love,” Banks said.

Of course, even if you aren’t able to adopt Chubbs, there are still a ton of other cats available for adoption, both at the Pasadena Humane Society and at local shelters around the country.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

adminadminAnybody Missing An Absolutely Enormous Cat?
read more