A Menacing Line of Hurricanes : Image of the Day

Meteorologists struggled to find the right words to describe the situation as a line of three hurricanes—two of them major and all of them threatening land—brewed in the Atlantic basin in September 2017.Forecasters were most concerned about Irma, which was on track to make landfall in densely populated South Florida on September 10 as a large category 4 storm. Meanwhile, category 2 Hurricane Katia was headed for Mexico, where it was expected to make landfall on September 9. And just days after Irma devastated the Leeward Islands, the chain of small Caribbean islands braced for another blow—this time from category 4 Hurricane Jose.

Source: A Menacing Line of Hurricanes : Image of the Day

Why we have to cut off the head of fascism again and again | Books | The Guardian

The 43 Club was founded in early 1946. It was comprised, at first, of tough, well-trained Anglo-Jewish former servicemen. These men set about disrupting the public meetings of the resurgent fascist movement. They also infiltrated it, at great personal risk, to gather intelligence – to learn their enemy’s plans so as to then sabotage them. They fought the fascists on the streets of British cities, and attracted increasing numbers to their cause. They were disciplined, principled and restrained. They were highly effective tactically, and didn’t hesitate to use brute force when it was required. By 1949 the fascist movement in Britain was effectively finished. Mosley had moved to France.Much of this is told by a founding member of the 43 Group, Morris Beckman, in an extraordinary book called The 43 Group: Battling with Mosley’s Blackshirts, published by the History Press. It’s a story of heroic resistance, also a kind of secret history of that rather murky period. I have borrowed heavily from Beckman’s account of that resistance in my new book, The Wardrobe Mistress. It is a novel of the London theatre in those years, and of the simultaneous revival of fascism in Britain. I end the story in a graveyard, with a kind of echo of the Nazi salute. Fascism may at times seem to fade away but it does not die. Whenever it raises its head, as Beckman and his friends understood and as did those protesters in Charlottesville, it must be resisted. Its head must be cut off, yet again.

Source: Why we have to cut off the head of fascism again and again | Books | The Guardian

New Klebsiella strains ‘worst-case scenario,’ experts say | CIDRAP “Pandemic watch…”

While the overall prevalence of hypervirulent, drug-resistant K pneumoniae in China appears to be low, Chen said, what he and his colleagues are worried about is that it will likely increase in Chinese hospitals, presenting clinicians with more severe infections that don’t respond to the current arsenal of antibiotics.But with few new antibiotics in the pipeline, physicians will be forced to keep using what they have, which will only hasten the further emergence of multidrug-resistant pathogens, said David van Duin, MD, PhD, an antimicrobial resistance researcher at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. “Emergence of combined increased virulence and resistance will force doctors to treat patients even more broadly upfront with last-line antibiotics, thus inducing additional resistance,” he said.And if the rapid global spread of the resistance gene MCR-1 is any example, these types of infections won’t be limited to China. The plasmid-mediated gene, which confers resistance to the last-resort antibiotic colistin, was identified in Escherichia coli bacteria in China in 2015, and since then has been detected in more than 30 countries. Other antibiotic resistance genes have demonstrated similar ability to spread rapidly via horizontal gene transfer. The genes and plasmids, and the bacteria that carry them, know no boundaries.”Multidrug-resistant organisms in one part of the world are a threat to patients everywhere,” van Duin said.

Source: New Klebsiella strains ‘worst-case scenario,’ experts say | CIDRAP

Facebook’s role in Trump’s win is clear. No matter what Mark Zuckerberg says.

By Margaret Sullivan,

What a ridiculous notion, Mark Zuckerberg scoffed shortly after the election, that his social-media company — innocent, well-intentioned Facebook — could have helped Donald Trump’s win.

“Personally I think the idea that fake news on Facebook . . . influenced the election in any way — I think is a pretty crazy idea,” he said. “Voters make decisions based on their lived experience.”

In fact, voters make their decisions based on many factors, not just their “lived experience.”

Disinformation spread on Facebook clearly was one — a big one. That was obvious in November. It was obvious in April when Facebook, to its credit, announced some moves to combat the spread of lies in the form of news stories.

It’s even more obvious now after Wednesday’s news that Facebook sold ads during the campaign to a Russian “troll farm,” targeting American voters with “divisive social and political messages” that fit right in with Donald Trump’s campaign strategy.

The news, reported Wednesday by The Washington Post, fits right in with the findings of a fascinating recent study by Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. Analyzing reams of data, it documented the huge role that propaganda, in various forms, played in the 2016 campaign.

“Attempts by the [Hillary] Clinton campaign to define her campaign on competence, experience, and policy positions were drowned out by coverage of alleged improprieties associated with the Clinton Foundation and emails,” the study said.

The Trump campaign masterfully manipulated these messages. Truth was not a requirement.

And Facebook was the indispensable messenger. As the Harvard study noted: “Disproportionate popularity on Facebook is a strong indicator of highly partisan and unreliable media.”

We don’t know everything about Facebook’s role in the campaign. What we do know — or certainly ought to know by now — is to not take Facebook at its word. It always plays down its influence, trying for a benign image of connecting us all in a warm bath of baby pictures, tropical vacations and games of Candy Crush.

The company recently changed its mission statement, as John Lanchester noted in a blistering takedown in the London Review of Books, mocking the “canting pieties” of such corporate efforts. What used to be just a soft ideal of “making the world more open and connected” is now giving people “the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

The new mission statement didn’t specifically mention bringing Russia and the United States closer together. But Facebook managed to accomplish that anyway.

Here’s an undeniable fact: Facebook is about advertising. And it is so wildly successful at leveraging our eyeballs and spending power into ad dollars that it is now valued at nearly $500 billion.

But for all its power and wealth, Facebook is a terribly opaque enterprise. (It recently hired former New York Times public editor Liz Spayd, a former Post managing editor, to help with “transparency.” Let’s just say that she has her work cut out for her.)

Facebook also has never acknowledged the glaringly obvious — that it is essentially a media company, where many of its 2 billion active monthly users get the majority of their news and information. As I’ve been pointing out here for more than a year, it constantly makes editorial decisions, but never owns them.

When its information is false, when it is purchased and manipulated to affect the outcome of an election, the effect is enormous. When the information purveyors are associated with a foreign adversary — with a clear interest in the outcome of the American election — we’re into a whole new realm of power.

Would Donald Trump be president today if Facebook didn’t exist? Although there is a long list of reasons for his win, there’s increasing reason to believe the answer is no.

I don’t know how to deal with Facebook’s singular power in the world. But having everyone clearly acknowledge it — including the company itself — would be a start.

For more by Margaret Sullivan visit wapo.st/sullivan