Shooters Quicker To Pull Trigger When Target Is Black, Study Finds – NPR STAFF AUGUST 29, 2015 6:37 PM ET

Shown a realistic human target — not just a silhouette like this one — shooters were more likely to pull the trigger if the target was black, according to an analysis of 42 studies. "Even if you think that you're not prejudiced," says researcher Yara Mekawi, "that doesn't necessarily mean that that's true in terms of split-second decisions that you might make in the real world."

Shown a realistic human target — not just a silhouette like this one — shooters were more likely to pull the trigger if the target was black, according to an analysis of 42 studies. “Even if you think that you’re not prejudiced,” says researcher Yara Mekawi, “that doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s true in terms of split-second decisions that you might make in the real world.” Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Are most people more likely to pull the trigger of a gun if the person they’re shooting at is black?

A new meta-analysis set out to answer that question. Yara Mekawi of the University of Illinois and her co-author, Konrad Bresin, drew together findings from 42 different studies on trigger bias to examine whether race affects how likely a target is to be shot.

“What we found is that it does,” Mekawi tells NPR’s Arun Rath. “In our study we found two main things: First, people were quicker to shoot black targets with a gun, relative to white targets with a gun. And … people were more trigger-happy when shooting black targets compared to shooting white targets.”

That is, shooters weren’t just faster to fire at black targets; they were also more likely to fire at a black target.

Interview Highlights

On the kinds of studies they were analyzing

Our inclusion criteria was pretty much that they used what’s called a first-person shooter task. … Participants are generally told that police officers are often put in high-stress situations where they have to make very quick shooting decisions.

And so they are presented with images of targets from various races that either have a gun or have some kind of neutral object. So, sometimes it’s a soda can; other times it’s a cellphone. And what they’re told is, to make the decision to shoot when they see a target with a gun.

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Al Jazeera journalists sentenced to three years in jail by Egyptian court – August 29, 2015 6:25AM ET Updated 9:39AM ET

Jailing of Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy, and Peter Greste a ‘death knell for freedom of expression,’ says Amnesty

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at Aug 30, 2015 3.30

A court in Egypt has sentenced three Al Jazeera journalists to three years in jail after finding them guilty of “aiding a terrorist organization.”

Egyptian Baher Mohamed, Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Australian Peter Greste were all handed three-year jail sentences when the court in Cairo delivered the verdict on Saturday, sparking worldwide condemnation of the decision.

Mohamed was sentenced to an additional six months for possession of a spent bullet casing. An appeal against the verdicts is planned.

Judge Hassan Farid, in his ruling, said he sentenced the men to prison because they had not registered with the country’s journalist syndicate.

He also said the men brought in equipment without security officials’ approval, had broadcast “false news” on Al Jazeera and used a hotel as a broadcasting point without permission. Following the sentence hearing, both Mohamed and Fahmy were escorted to Tora prison in southern Cairo, according to Egyptian media.

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Iowa Poll Shows Bernie Sanders Closing In on Hillary Clinton – By PETER NICHOLAS 8:14 pm ET Aug 29, 2015

Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in Eldridge, Iowa, earlier this month.
Getty Images

A new poll in Iowa shows Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton losing considerable ground to her chief rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, despite having built a formidable network of organizers and volunteers in the state that holds the first presidential contest.

The Iowa poll, released Saturday, showed Mrs. Clinton to be the first choice of 37% of likely Democratic caucus-goers. Mr. Sanders, an independent, received 30%, according to the survey by the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics.

The Iowa caucuses are set for Feb. 1.

In the 2008 campaign, Mrs. Clinton was the frontrunner in Iowa for much of the contest, only to see her lead evaporate as then-Sen. Barack Obamastormed to a first-place finish.

The Des Moines Register story about the survey quoted J. Ann Selzer, pollster for the Iowa Poll, saying: “This feels like 2008 all over again.

The Iowa poll comes after recent surveys in New Hampshire showed Mr. Sanders erasing Mrs. Clinton’s lead, as she contends with a controversy surrounding her use of a private email account and server during her tenure as secretary of state.

In a statement Saturday,  a spokesman for Mr. Sanders said: “What this new poll shows is that the more Iowans get to know Bernie, the better they like him what he stands for. We’ve seen the same thing in New Hampshire and across the country.”

In recent days the Clinton campaign has been touting its strength in Iowa. It put out a memo on Thursday saying, “By the numbers: The campaign has 47 organizers on the ground with more on the way,11 offices open from river to river where volunteers are being engaged, at least one identified supporter in each of Iowa’s 1,682 precincts, and the support of critical community leaders across the spectrum who are committed to Hillary Clinton and will power this campaign for the next five months.”

Since May, Mrs. Clinton’s support among likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers has dropped by 20 points, while Mr. Sanders’s backing has risen by 25 points since January, Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll results show.

The survey had some good news for Vice President Joe Biden, who is weighing a possible campaign. Even though he’s not a candidate, Mr. Biden was the first choice of 14% of likely caucus-goers – nearly double the level of support he received in May.

Mr. Biden finished fifth in the Iowa caucuses in 2008 and then dropped out of the race.


Jerry Seib: What the Early Presidential Polls Mean


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The New Tech of Disaster Response, From Apps to Aqua-Drones – TIM MOYNIHAN: 08.29.15. : 6:00 AM.

Hurricane Katrina was a tale of three disasters. The first was natural, a violent storm that devastated the Gulf Coast. The second was man-made, the catastrophic failure of levees protecting New Orleans. Together, these disasters killed more than 1,800 people and displaced half a million families. Damages ran into the billions, and the recovery continues even now.

The third was also man-made, and the most maddening: the failure of preparation, logistics, and action at every level. The Federal Emergency Management Agency drew widespread criticism for a slow, disorganized response that bordered on incompetence, and its poor communication and coordination with local and state authorities.

If such a disaster occurred today, FEMA insists it would respond swiftly and efficiently. It points to the leadership of Craig Fugate, whom President Obama tapped to head the agency in 2009. Fugate, unlike his much-maligned predecessor Michael Brown, is a former director of the Florida Emergency Management Division and has extensive experience managing disasters responses, particularly hurricanes.

No less importantly, FEMA has embraced key reforms, not the least of which is the authority to act immediately. Until 10 years ago, the agency had to await a governor’s request for federal aid before jumping in.

“One of the most important improvements we’ve made came as a result of congressional action to authorize FEMA to deploy resources to states before a presidential declaration request has even been made,” says Ted Okada, the agency’s chief technology officer. “If FEMA believes that a situation will require a presidential disaster declaration, we’re now authorized to expend funds out of the Stafford Act to prepare. By pre-staging resources such as water, generators, and staff, we’re able to faster mobilize response efforts.”

FEMA hasn’t faced a test quite like Katrina, but its ability to move quickly has changed how it responds. Even before Hurricane Sandy pummeled New York in October, 2012, FEMA deployed truckloads of food, water, generators and other supplies. Some 900 employees were standing by, primed to provide any assistance once the storm made landfall.

post-Sandy audit by the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees FEMA, gave the agency top marks. “FEMA prepared well for this disaster, overcame operational and staffing challenges, quickly resolved resource shortfalls, made efficient disaster sourcing decisions, and coordinated its activities effectively with State and local officials,” concluded the report. State and local officials, including New Jersey governor Chris Christie and New York senator Chuck Schumer offered similarly positive reviews.

The change in attitude and policy proved instrumental in setting FEMA on a new course. But technology played an equally important, if somewhat less obvious, role in how the agency and its counterparts at the state and local level, prepare for and respond to a crisis. These changes run the gamut from a comprehensive smartphone app to broader adoption of drones and robots.

The agency’s embrace of new tech prompted it to formalize the role of CTO, consolidating roles held by various people before Okada came aboard. It was a wise move, given how quickly things have changed in the past decade. When Katrina hit, social media was in its infancy, people still got a lot of their news from television and radio, and Blackberry and Razr phones were state of the art. These days, 40 percent of Americans use their phones to access government services, and 68 percent of them use phones to keep track of breaking news events, according to the Pew Research Center.

“FEMA must be able to reach at-risk populations that get their information from Twitter and Facebook,” Okada says. “We use social media as a platform to get information out, but also engage in widely distributed conversations. Better situational awareness allows us to improve decision making, leading to better survivor outcomes.”

According to FEMA, the app has been downloaded more than 200,000 times since it launched in 2011, and the organization has hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook. Social media played a larger role than ever helping FEMA and local organizations communicate to residents during Hurricane Sandy. To combat false information on Twitter during the storm and its aftermath, FEMA created a “Rumor Control” page and has done the same during more recent emergencies.

At the state level, disaster-response teams also are embracing social media. Bryan Koon, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, says the agency has streamlined statewide communications during events and created a two-way street of communication.

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How I Became A Bikini Body Builder –

Sabrina Mercado, 24, devoted a year to grueling training and life sans simple carbs—all so her body could be judged onstage.

​I played water polo in college, but after school, I couldn’t find a workout routine that fit. I started looking at fitspo on Instagram, and these female bikini athletes had the most incredible, muscular figures—I thought, “How can I look like that?” My stepdad and boyfriend helped me start lifting weights, and for a year and a half, I watched my body transform. Then I decided to see how far I could take it; I wanted to look back in 20 years and say, “I did this, I pushed myself, I looked like this.” So I signed up for a bikini bodybuilding competition.

In bikini bodybuilding, women compete onstage for the title of best physique. It isn’t the scary, steroid-y bodybuilding you’re thinking of; the women are just super fit, like models in a Nike ad. My very first competition was the World Beauty Fitness & Fashion Show on July 11, and I started training in January. It was a full-time commitment: I did 1½ hours of lifting five days a week, and I drank a huge amount of water and ate every 2½ hours. I took in 3,000 calories a day: After my morning workout, I’d have a double serving of oatmeal plus 2 cups of egg whites, scrambled. At 10 a.m., I’d eat one of those big, squat tubs of Greek yogurt and three slices of bread. And that was all before 11 a.m.

In spring, I started a new job in merchandise planning, and halfway through a meeting I’d have to get up and grab food to stay on schedule. I was the new girl who always had stinky ground turkey at her desk. On my first day, I blurted out, “Oh, it’s nice my desk is so close to the bathroom!” because I had to pee every 25 minutes. And I was totally that weirdo eating sweet potatoes and green beans on the subway. It wasn’t cute.

I couldn’t drink alcohol or deviate from the eating plan, so my social life took a hit. I’d order seltzer at bars and pull out a Tupperware of ground meat at restaurants. It was tough on my relationship, too, because I had so little energy—I’d say, “You can come over and sleep next to me!” But my boyfriend was  supportive, as were my friends and family.

My body was so depleted right before the competition, thanks to four hours at the gym every day and no carbs. I cried almost every day. Then I walked onstage and it all faded away. I thought, “Every second of the last six months was leading to this.” I felt so proud of myself! It was such a crazy rush of endorphins. Then I walked off and tore into a bag of Oreos. I didn’t place, but I know I did my best. I’m looking forward to having margaritas and pizza and cookies again, but I might sign up for a November competition and get back into training mode soon. I want to do better.

You know, I’ve been told my whole life that my brain is the most important thing, not my body, and it was funny to be doing something that’s strictly about my looks. I understand the criticism, but—have you ever worked so hard for something and then gotten an opportunity to showcase it? The rush of that moment on stage…for that, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

The US may have to go after the ‘Great Firewall’ to stop China’s cyber-attacks – South China Morning Post Sun Aug 30 2015


obama china cyberAssociated PressUS President Barack Obama is expected to take a firm line on the issue of hacking during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit.

As the world recalls how two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan to end the second world war in Asia 70 years ago, a digital deterrent of a similar magnitude could be Washington’s only way to stop cyber attacks from the latest Asian aggressor, China, experts say.

United States president Barack Obama is due to entertain his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Washington next month on a state visit and the issue of cyber espionage will “no doubt” be addressed, Obama said recently.

The issue rose to the fore in the wake of a major attack this summer on the US Office of Personnel Management, which saw hackers make off with the personal information of over four million current and former federal workers.

Officials have pointed the finger at hackers linked to China’s People’s Liberation Army, saying the data poses a security risk as it contains military records and other sensitive information, potentially including state secrets.

“We absolutely have to do something,” said Dennis Poindexter, author of The New Cyberwar: Technology and the Redefinition of Warfare.

As such hacks become more audacious the US needs the cyber equivalent of a nuclear deterrent, added Poindexter, a former faculty member at the Defence Security Institute under the US department of defence.

He pointed to this year’s OPM hack as an example of Chinese hackers inadvertently crossing the line of “acceptable” state espionage.

Former head of the National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency Michael Hayden told the Washington Post after the attack that “if I could have done it [as head of the NSA], I would have done it in a heartbeat”.

“You have to kind of salute the Chinese for what they did,” said US director of national intelligence James Clapper in June, referring to the sophistication of the hack.

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Ancient Ales | The Past, Present, and Future of Middle Eastern Beer Brewing – By Steve Hindy August 2015

When I was a Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press in 1980, I covered an Arab Summit meeting at the InterContinental Hotel in Amman, Jordan. We journalists gathered what news we could from the secretive proceedings, cobbled our stories together, and then spent our evenings around the bar, which was amply provisioned with the world’s best-known liquors and local and imported beer and wine. The Arab Summit was followed by an Islamic Summit, which was attended by the very same leaders. The InterContinental’s bar was shut down in observance of the Islamic ban on alcoholic beverages. I recall the hotel manager telling me that the whiskies, gins, vodkas, and other libations had been transferred to the delegates’ private suites. There was no drinking in public, but the liquor flowed in private.

Beer brewing, winemaking, and distilling all have long histories in the Middle East. In fact, liquor, beer, and wine are still available in most countries within the region, despite the Islamist revivals that have swept the area since the early 1980s. Heineken owns breweries in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon—it acquired the Egypt-based, century-old Al Ahram Beverages Company in 2006 and Lebanon’s Brasserie Almaza in 2002 (a brewery that has been in operation since 1933)—and its Middle East division boasts group operating profits of just under $8 million per year. In Lebanon, the main brands are Amstel and Laziza (which means “delicious” in Arabic).

Even in the countries that have banned alcohol outright (some of the Emirates, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia), non-alcoholic breweries abound. For example, Carlsberg, the world’s fourth-largest brewer, also owns a brewery in Saudi Arabia that produces Moussy, a non-alcoholic brew aimed at upscale and metropolitan consumers. It has a 38 percent market share of non-alcoholic brews in the nation. Not to be outdone by its rivals, in 2002 Heineken purchased the Al Ahram brewing company for control of Fayrouz—its signature malt beverage that claims the unique designation of being the world’s first, and so far only, halal (permissible within Islam) non-alcoholic beer.

It probably won’t be the last. According to an October 2014 report by Euromonitor International on drinks in Saudi Arabia, there is an “increasing presence of international brands in the country in clothing, food and drinks. Low/non alcohol beer, for these reasons, is now highly popular among Saudi Arabian youth, many of whom associate it with a sense of adventure, the thrill of being young and a sense of being free-spirited.”