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Filmic and most photographic images of war are shorn of the heart-pounding fear, awful stench, deafening noise and exhaustion of the battlefield. Such images turn confusion and chaos, the chief element of combat, into an artful war narrative. They turn war into porn. Soldiers and Marines, especially those who have never seen war, buy cases of beer and watch movies like “Platoon,” movies meant to denounce war, and as they do so revel in the despicable power of the weapons shown. The reality of violence is different. Everything formed by violence is senseless and useless. It exists without a future. It leaves behind nothing but death, grief and destruction. –“The Pictures of War You Aren’t Supposed to See,” Chris Hedges, TruthDig
A full 80 percent of the abuse reported in the study was perpetrated not by other inmates but by staff. And shockingly, 95 percent of the youth making such allegations said they were victimized by female staff. 64 percent of them reported at least one incident of sexual contact with staff in which no force or explicit coercion was used; staff caught having sex with inmates often claim it’s consensual. But staff have enormous control over inmates’ lives. They can give them privileges, such as extra food or clothing or the opportunity to wash, and they can punish them: everything from beatings to solitary confinement to extended sentences. The notion of a truly consensual relationship in such circumstances is grotesque even when the inmate is not a child. –“The Crisis of Juvenile Prison Rape: A new report,” David Kaiser and Lovisa Stannow, The New York Review of Books
Question: Is there an afterlife? —Matt
Answer: If you ever need to make your own Grand Canyon, start with a river and lift up the earth. As the ground rises the river will carry some of it away. Wait seven million years, at which point tourists will come. Some will see eons of erosion at work; others will believe that, a mere 4,500 years back, God dragged His fingernail across the desert. Like the group of evangelical-Christian creationists that rafted through in 2005. “One of the things it says to me,” a rafter was quoted as saying, “is I’m small and God and the world He created is huge. This is a man-dwarfing place.” –“Just Like Heaven,” Paul Ford, The Morning News
Number of free condoms handed out by the Brazilian government in advance of Carnival this year:
The best way to measure happiness is simply to ask people how happy they are.
Following three weeks of clashes between protesters and government forces that killed at least 17 people, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro announced a two-day extension of Carnival. “Happiness will conquer the embittered,” he said during an appearance at a recreation center.
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”