Benches Clear — Again And Again — During Brawls Between Yankees And Tigers

The Yankees and Tigers raise dust on the diamond after both benches cleared in Detroit on Thursday.

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Things got a little out of hand in Detroit on Thursday.

The way the game between the Tigers and the New York Yankees opened, though, you’d be forgiven for having thought it was going to be just another dog-day matinee. The two teams exchanged a pair of runs in the early innings, but for the most part, it was shaping up to be a low-scoring, modest affair.

Then, Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer hit the Yankees’ Gary Sanchez with a fastball in the fifth inning. And in the sixth, Tigers star Miguel Cabrera stepped to the plate and promptly got a pitch thrown behind his back. In the hubbub afterward, both the Yankees pitcher, Tommy Kahnle, and his manager, Joe Girardi, were ejected.

But the dust briefly seemed to settle — until a few heated words between Cabrera and the Yankees catcher behind him, Austine Romine, exploded into a flurry of misplaced haymakers.

Matters devolved distressingly fast from there.

Benches clear, punches thrown in Yankees-Tigers game with Miguel Cabrera and Austin Romine at the center of it. https://t.co/g32ygLF1czpic.twitter.com/QMsJ5fEDQO

— MLB (@MLB) August 24, 2017

Within seconds both teams had leapt off their benches into the fray, players and managers alike grasping at jerseys, flailing at times to hit their opponents or hold their teammates back. Even the relievers ran in from the bullpen.

And at the center of the chaos, Cabrera and Romine kept at it.

“Wow!” the announcer on the game exclaimed, taken aback. “When was the last time you saw that?”

The answer: Quite a while, according to ESPN Stats & Info. The sports research service says the eight ejections by game’s end were the most seen in any game so far this season, and the five ejections earned by the Yankees alone — including both manager Girarand the guy who replaced him — were the most by a single team this season.

Both teams racked up so many because the bitterness didn’t end with the sixth inning brawl — nor did the dangerous pitches. The very next inning, the Tigers’ James McCann got beaned in the helmet with a fastball, and the inning after that, the Yankees’ Todd Frazier was hit with a pitch — both incidents prompting the benches to clear twice more.

we ain’t done yet #Yankees#tigerspic.twitter.com/nJPxO5gliK

— Batavia’s Best (@bataviasbest) August 24, 2017

After the game, Girardi laid the blame for the chaos squarely at the feet of the umpires, who he said sowed the seeds of the conflict by attempting — and failing — to eject some antagonists while leaving others in the game.

“Just a very poor job on their part,” Girardi told the media after the game. “Very, very poor.”

Luckily, though, there were no immediate reports of injuries from the series of brawls, though suspensions are likely to be forthcoming.

Oh, and the Tigers won, 10-6.

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Is The Secret To A Healthier Microbiome Hidden In The Hadza Diet?

Hadza man eating honey comb and larvae from a beehive.

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Matthieu Paley/National Geographic

The words “endangered species” often conjure up images of big exotic creatures. Think elephants, leopards and polar bears.

But there’s another of type of extinction that may be occurring, right now, inside our bodies.

Yes, I’m talking about the microbiome — that collection of bacteria in our intestines that influences everything from metabolism and the immune system to moods and behavior.

For the past few years, scientists around the world have been accumulating evidence that the Western lifestyle is altering our microbiome. Some species of bacteria are even disappearing to undetectable levels.

“Over time we are losing valuable members of our community,” says Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist at Stanford University, who has been studying the microbiome for more than a decade.

Now Sonnenburgand his team have evidence for why this microbial die-off is happening and hints about what we can possibly do to reverse it.

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The study — published Thursday in the journal Science — focuses on a group of hunter-gatherers in Tanzania, called Hadza.

Their diet consists almost entirely of food they find in the forest, including wild berries, fiber-rich tubers, honey and wild meat. They basically eat no processed food — or even food that comes from farms.

“They are a very special group of people,” Sonnenburg says. “There are only about 2,200 left and really only about 200 that exclusively adhere to hunting and gathering.”

Sonnenberg and his colleagues analyzed 350 stool samples from Hadza people taken over the course of about a year. They then compared the bacteria found in Hadza to those found in 17 other cultures around the world, including other hunter-gatherer communities in Venezuela and Peru and subsistence farmers in Malawi and Cameroon.

The trend was clear: The further away people’s diets are from a Western diet, the greater the variety of microbes they tend to have in their guts. And that includes bacteria that are missing from American guts.

“So whether it’s people in Africa, Papua New Guinea or South America, communities that live a traditional lifestyle have common gut microbes — ones that we all lack in the industrialized world,” Sonnenburg says.

In a way, the Western diet — that’s low in fiber and high in refined sugars — is basically wiping out species of bacteria from our intestines.

That’s the conclusion Sonnenburg and his team reached after analyzing the Hadza microbiome at one stage of the yearlong study. But when they checked several months later, they uncovered a surprising twist: The composition of the microbiome fluctuated over time, depending on the season and what people were eating. And at one point, the composition started to look surprisingly similar to that of Westerners’ microbiome.

During the dry season, Hadza eat a lot of more meat — kind of like Westerners do. And their microbiome shifted as their diet changed. Some of the bacterial species that had been prevalent disappeared to undetectable levels, similar to what’s been observed in Westerners’ guts.

But then in wet season — when Hadza eat more berries and honey — these missing microbes returned although they’re not really sure what’s in these foods that bring the microbes back.

“I think this finding is really exciting,” says Lawrence David, who studies the microbiome at Duke University. “It suggests the shifts in the microbiome seen in industrialized nations might not be permanent — that they might be reversible by changes in people’s diets.

“The finding supports the idea that the microbiomes is plastic, depending on diet,” David adds.

Now the big question is: What’s the key dietary change that could bring the missing microbes back?

Lawrence thinks it could be cutting down on fat. “At a high level, it sounds like that,” he says, “because what changed in the Hadza’s diet was whether or not they were hunting versus foraging for berries or honey,” he says.

But Sonnenburg is placing his bets on another dietary component: fiber — which is a vital food for the microbiome.

“We’re beginning to realize that people who eat more dietary fiber are actually feeding their gut microbiome,” Sonnenburg says.

Hadza consume a huge amount of fiber because throughout the year, they eat fiber-rich tubers and fruit from baobab trees. These staples give them about 100 to 150 grams of fiber each day. That’s equivalent to the fiber in 50 bowels of Cheerios — and 10 times more than many Americans eat.

“Over the past few years, we’ve come to realize how important this gut community is for our health, and yet we’re eating a low-fiber diet that totally neglects them,” he says. “So we’re essentially starving our microbial selves.”

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America's Credit Rating On The Line As Debt Ceiling Deadline Approaches

President Trump meets with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, during a budget discussion in March.

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With the federal government getting closer to running out of cash to cover all bills on time, companies that evaluate bonds are having to consider how to rate America’s creditworthiness.

And their job didn’t get any easier on Thursday when President Trump continued his attacks on congressional leaders over their failure to raise the federal debt ceiling.

Other U.S. officials have been trying reassure the financial markets that no default is imminent.

But in a morning tweet, Trump blamed the two top Republicans in Congress — House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — for not attaching the debt-ceiling legislation to a popular bill on veterans’ benefits. Whether that legislative strategy would have worked cannot be known. Further, attaching the debt ceiling to the veterans bill could have endangered one of the few legislative achievements Congress could claim in the midst of the GOP health care failure.

In any case, Congress now has just a few more weeks to raise the debt ceiling, which would enable the government to continue borrowing enough cash to pay all of its bills on time. If it doesn’t do so, the government would have to prioritize which of its bills it will pay. That would have enormous consequences in the financial markets.

…didn’t do it so now we have a big deal with Dems holding them up (as usual) on Debt Ceiling approval. Could have been so easy-now a mess!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 24, 2017

Ryan and McConnell have tried to send a message that a debt default is highly unlikely.

“We will pass legislation to make sure we pay our debts and we will not hit the debt ceiling. We’ll do this before the debt ceiling,” Ryan said during a visit to a Boeing plant in Washington state today. “There are many different options in front of us on how we achieve that.”

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has offered similar assurances.

“We’re going to get the debt ceiling passed,” Mnuchin said Monday at an event in Louisville, Kentucky. “Everybody understands, this is not a Republican issue, this is not a Democrat issue. We need to be able to pay our debts.”

But Trump’s attacks on Ryan and McConnell have raised questions about whether the passage of debt-ceiling legislation will be as smooth as congressional leaders hope.

Under President Obama, the White House and Congress often engaged in brinksmanship over whether to raise the debt ceiling, but always managed to do so at the last minute.

“Clearly we’ve had dozens of occasions when the debt limit has been raised in the past, and we don’t expect this time to be any different,” says Charles Seville, senior director at Fitch Ratings.

This time, however, the stakes are higher, said Richard Bernstein, former chief investment strategist at Merrill Lynch, in an interview with Politico:

“Not passing a debt limit hike in time would have an even greater impact on financial markets because when we did this in the past you had a Democrat in the White House and Republicans controlling Congress and people could basically understand the political aspects of what was going on. There was a mating dance and a conclusion.

“This time it’s Republican versus Republican. I don’t know how anyone can interpret that. Is this some kind of mating dance again. Or is it some more critical failure of government? I don’t know how to answer that. There is a potential for more volatility this time around than there might have been in the past.”

Bernstein believes Congress will ultimately vote to raise the debt ceiling.

Moody’s Investors Service said Thursday it would consider stripping the United States of its top rating if it were to default on bond holders, but not if it merely skipped paying some of its non-debt obligations.

But Fitch Ratings took a tougher stand, warning that even a debt-ceiling standoff, short of a bond default, could cause it to reassess the credit rating of U.S. Treasury debt. That’s because it would raise questions about the ability of the U.S. political system to get its house in order, Seville said.

“One thing that we have in the back of our minds is how the U.S. deals with its fiscal challenges and whether the policy-making process works,” he added.

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Judge Says Government Can Search Protest Site Records, With Safeguards

A man takes a selfie on the hood of a destroyed limousine during an Inauguration Day protest against President Trump on Jan. 20, in Washington, D.C. The Department of Justice has been cleared to search through website records related to organizing protests that day.

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A judge in Washington, D.C. has approved a government request to access data from a website organizing protests against President Trump’s inauguration — with the caveat that the Department of Justice must establish “additional protections” to safeguard users’ privacy and right to free speech.

DOJ already had a warrant approved by a judge to search records related to the site DisruptJ20.org, which organized protests on Jan. 20. More than 200 protesters were charged with rioting and the Justice Department is looking for evidence in some of those cases. But the web hosting company Dreamhost, which holds the records, challenged the government’s request, calling it overly broad and saying it threatens privacy and free speech.

D.C. Superior Court’s chief judge, Robert Morin, told lawyers for the Justice Department that they could proceed with a narrower version of their warrant. But the government needs to develop a plan to “minimize” the exposure of “innocent users,” as he put it.

The U.S. government had already scaled back the scope of its request before Thursday’s hearing.

The original request would have compelled Dreamhost to disclose 1.3 million IP addresses, which could reveal information about visitors to the protest-organizing site, the web hosting company says.

Dreamhost took the Department of Justice to court to challenge the scope of that request. Earlier this week, the government agreed to drop the request for visitor data en masse, and also exclude data from after Jan. 20 and unpublished drafts of the website.

Dreamhost welcomed that as a victory, but still expressed concerns over the revised warrant.

In the hearing on Thursday, lawyers for the web hosting company highlighted the fact that the warrant still asks for content from all email accounts on the “disruptJ20.org” domain. Raymond Aghaian, representing Dreamhost, compared it to searching every apartment in a building with a single search warrant.

Dreamhost also objected to the “two-step” process for executing the warrant. That’s one way that law enforcement searches for evidence in digital files.

Step one is to acquire a large pool of data, which will include items that have no connection to a criminal case; step two is to filter out the innocuous content and only “seize” the relevant evidence. In the Dreamhost matter, for instance, emails about hosting visitors to D.C. might be set aside; an email arranging to bring crowbars to a protest might be kept. Everything not seized as evidence is then sealed.

“The fact that an FBI agent will be sitting there and actually reviewing the emails and knowing who this person is … is an issue in and of itself,” Aghaian told NPR. Even if a person’s data is ultimately never seized, the fact that it was provided to the government in the first place could still have a “chilling effect,” he said. For instance, someone who wants to email an advocacy group might decide not to, knowing their email might later be accessible by the government under a search warrant.

The judge said he had to balance two legitimate interests — free speech and law enforcement needs — and ultimately ruled for a two-step warrant process with additional safeguards.

Specifically, he said the Department of Justice needed to specify in advance who would have access to the data, describe how they’d be filtering or searching through it, and present the courts with a detailed list of what they’d seized and why.

The Department of Justice would also be barred from sharing the data with anyone else, including other government agencies, and would need to design and present a system to “minimize” the impact on users not charged with crimes. It’s not clear what such a system would look like.

In the meantime, Dreamhost is supposed to pull all the data together and deliver it to the government; the Department of Justice will agree to not actually search through the data until they have the go-ahead from the courts.

Lawyers for Dreamhost say they are evaluating their options, including the possibility of appeal. The Department of Justice declined to comment on a pending case.

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A Dancer Spins From Classical Ballet To Modern Dance In 'Polina'

It Takes Tutu To Tango: Karl (Jeremie Belingard) and Polina (Anastasia Shevtsova) in Polina.

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Oscilloscope

For a short while, the French-made film Polina toes the line of traditional ballet narrative: a heroine’s journey from exceptional promise through bundled hurdles, all the way to the triumph of the tutu. Then the movie takes a sharp left turn into a whole other fairy tale, a vibrantly watchable modern dance musical with bits of histrionic life thrown in and the chance to see Juliette Binoche strut some smooth moves of her own. The almighty tutu gets no more than a cameo as a soft bed for two young principal dancers whose hormones run wild. It’s curtains for rigid Bolshoi orthodoxy as a young Russian ballerina on the cusp of stardom pries herself loose and goes her own way in life and art.

Saint Petersburg ballerina Anastasia Shevtsova stars as Polina, a sinuous nymph with leprechaun eyes whose poor but ambitious parents thrust her into rigorous training with Bojinski (Aleksei Guskov), a craggy martinet and every inch the barking maestro who stalks through every ballerina myth worth its salt. The scary dude devotes himself to taming his willful charge (“You’re not very limber,” he rasps as child Polina, played by Veronika Zhovnytska, positions her leg in close proximity to her chin) while grooming her to audition for the sacred Bolshoi. Only there’s a kink in the story that allows writer and co-director Valerie Muller to take a brief but unmistakable jab at the rigors of Soviet aesthetics. Bojinksi, we learn, was once an artistic renegade himself. So when Polina decamps for modern dance training in the West, he’s less devastated than the parents who have sacrificed their all for their daughter.

Love and hard knocks await in Aix-en-Provence, where Binoche’s contemporary dance choreographer Liria is no more inclined than Bojinski to indulge — or, crucially, stamp out — Polina’s willful obstinacy, a double-edged sword that gets in the girl’s way even as it propels her into a creative destiny more in tune with the diverse, edgy rhythms of urban life.

Co-directed by Muller with the French-Albanian choreographer Angelin Preljocaj, Polina is adapted from a graphic novel by Bastien Vives, a form that suits Polina’s journey to modernity but doesn’t translate all that well into realist narrative. Which may be why the film’s fluid visual rhythms are hampered by a clunky screenplay that’s riddled with cliché and strands poor Binoche in portentous credos (“All my work is about absence”) when she really means to galvanize Polina to quit being such a diva and get a life in the spit and grit of the city.

It’s there that Polina springs to vivid life as a winsome hip-hop ballet. A classically trained choreographer who transitioned to contemporary dance, Preljocaj has an exuberant grasp of the form’s democratizing power to plunder everyday gesture and make it heroic. The dance sequences are ecstatically photographed by George Lechaptois against a dramatic Antwerp skyline etched with cranes, where Polina teams up with a fetching hip-hop choreographer (Jeremie Belingard). Together the pair stitch together moves observed in the subway and the sleazy bar where Polina has found plebeian community. If that’s its own kind of cliché, it’s a lovely one for our age — and generous enough to dispatch Polina on a short trip home at the climax, to pay tribute to the classicist who both trained her and set her free.

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Netflix's 'Death Note' Should Be Returned To Sender

Crouch, Potato: Detective “L” (Lakeith Stanfield) pursues student-turned-vigilante Light Turner (Nat Wolff) in Death Note.

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James Dittiger/Netflix

Scrawl this one in your magic killer notebook if you’ve heard it before: A popular, beloved Japanese manga and anime catches the attention of an American studio desperate for that sweet trans-global box office. The American studio then opts to Anglicize the property, casting largely white actors and leaving intact only the exotic qualities of a vaguely Asian aesthetic. “The name is an intentional misdirection,” some astute viewer might observe. “He wants us to believe he’s Japanese.”

Friends, such a sentiment was not a studio note for this spring’s Ghost in the Shell remake, but rather a line of dialogue in the new Netflix offering Death Note — as self-incriminating a thing for an investigator character to say as ever there was.

Death Note was first a manga created by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata, then an anime series (currently available on Netflix as well), and then a live-action film series in Japan. In those earlier incarnations it made sense that a teen with supernatural murder-ability would want to style himself with the name “Kira,” which is derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the English killer. But once the book changes hands to some white kid in Seattle, and that kid is using “Kira” just to throw the feds off his scent, that’s little more than an “intentional misdirection” aimed at fans of the original Death Note.

Is director Adam Wingard’s take on the series the latest example of “whitewashing,” that dreaded entertainment industry crime? For a storyline centered around the idea that people can die as soon as their names and faces are known to the public, trotting out those same names, now attached to American faces, probably wasn’t the best move. The antihero who gains possession of the deadly notebook is still named Light, his investigator rival still goes by the alias “L,” and the spiny-headed trickster deity who pulls all the strings remains Ryuk (now completely divorced from his origins as a Shinigami, an ancient Japanese god of death). But hey, Japanese audiences reportedly weren’t terribly put out by the Scarlett Johansson-led Ghost in the Shell, and good things can still come from cultural transplants (see: The Departed). So don’t let the ickiness of this new Death Note distract from its true identity as a sloppy gutter thriller that makes less sense because it’s been divorced from its origin. The movie is a bored demon who bores his audience right along with him.

Wingard has a strong reputation in horror circles for his inventive genre spins You’re Next and The Guest. Then last year he directed Blair Witch, another meek franchise reboot (he seems to be carving a niche for himself, since his upcoming slate includes a new take on South Korean thriller I Saw the Devil and another Godzilla movie). Perhaps wary of the criticisms they’d be facing here, Wingard and his three screenwriters open their Death Note with visions of an American high school: football, cheerleaders, bullies who grab at backpacks. The new Light is a frosted-tipped goth played by Nat Wolff (Paper Towns), an actor whose demeanor is a bit too goofy-goober to sell the character’s underlying darkness. The lethal notebook falls to Light out of the sky, along with some convenient instructions: write down the name of a person and think of their face to kill them. Throw in a creative cause of death for good measure will it be a Final Destination-style chain reaction or a reprise of The Happening‘s awkward suicides? Maybe you’d like your target to do your bidding first, in a way that has nothing to do with his death. Why not?

Light is further egged on by Ryuk (voiced with trademark menace by Willem Dafoe), although the prosthetic-rendered demon has little to do besides sulk in corners and sneer; his real corrupting influence is girlfriend Mia (Margaret Qualley from The Leftovers), a cheerleader who turns into a psychopath quicker than it takes most pots to boil. The two cold-blooded killers share one of the least convincing “I love you” moments in recent memory, matched only by the hollowness of the betrayal that follows.

Who deserves to die? Light’s goal is to target the worst of the worst, beginning with the mobster who killed his mom and moving onto the world’s most nefarious criminals. His choices garner “Kira” a global following of worshippersbut of course, murder with total impunity can’t really be a force for pure good. That’s the narrative’s foundational hook, and “L” — a breezy-cool, hooded hacker type who joins forces with the Seattle police department to track down the menace — knows it. “L” attempts to counter Light’s every move in a global game of chess, adopting his single-letter pseudonym to keep “Kira” from killing him. Get Out‘s Lakeith Stanfield, a master of soft-spoken and slightly off characters, does what he can with “L”‘s eccentricities, but his spasms of personality (eating candy by the fistful, crouching on the furniture like a bird) seem to have been forced out of the actor like a Sunken Place possession. And no wonder, since they’re basically checkboxes on a fan-service list.

In fact, that sense of rushing through a checklist is a common trait of the entire film, which hits fast-forward on choice bits from a sprawling, 108-chapter narrative in order to seed 133 minutes of screentime. This means a lot of rule-reciting for little payoff, rapid-fire allegiance shifts, and rather jumbled philosophy about how “the people” need “a god.” Maybe the people should start with simpler demands, like a piece of licensed entertainment that doesn’t just give up after securing familiar character names. It might be time for this book to find yet another new owner.

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In 'The Villainness,' Revenge Is A Dish Served Stylishly

Assassin Sook-hee (Kim Ok-bin) switches sides (or does she?) in The Villainness.

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Jake Jung/Well Go USA

In the exhilarating introduction to The Villainess, you are there. But who are you?

Shot from the perspective of the attacker, the sequence tracks a lone fighter through a building full of thugs, all of whom get dispatched with bloody efficiency. Finally, the unseen figure enters a martial-arts studio with a dozen or so adversaries and a mirrored wall. Only when the camera catches the intruder’s reflection does the point-of-view switch from hers to ours.

Korean writer-director Jung Byung-gil likely employed this transition simply because it looks cool. But the moment serves also as a statement of the movie’s logic, which is essentially visual. Jung shreds a simple story and then weaves the pieces into an intricate tapestry of flashbacks and pure-action scenes, with the individual strands often sewn together by pictorial rhymes.

The one-against-dozens woman is the title character, given name Sook-hee (Kim Ok-bin). She’s there to avenge the murder of her new husband, the man she calls only “Mister” (Shin Ha-kyun). But Sook-hee’s murderous intensity is also rooted in the trauma of her father’s murder, which she witnessed as a girl more than a decade ago.

Sook-hee escapes the den of (apparently) thieves, only to be apprehended by police. Already a trained assassin, she’s taken to a secret agency for further instruction. She’ll remain an executioner, but one now working for the (possibly) good guys. They teach her killing and — as potential covers — cooking, acting, and ballet.

Her boss, a steely woman known as Chief (Kim Seo-hyung), is concerned only with skill and ruthlessness, not the righteousness of the organization’s work. She never delivers the self-justifying speech that would be obligatory in a Hollywood flick. Instead, Chief’s resolve is underscored in a moment when she ignores Sook-hee’s feelings while revealing absolutely none of her own.

Sook-hee’s new job is complicated by the fact that her brief marriage left her pregnant. Her training complete, Sook-hee moves with her young daughter into an agency-provided apartment in suburban Seoul. Her new cover? Theater actress. Her new neighbor? A cute guy (Bang Sung-jun) and agency-assigned watcher who’s also a potential boyfriend.

In a world of chaos, love is the only force more powerful than violence — although often not stronger than death.

As the latest baroque Korean revenge fantasy, The Villainess inevitably recalls the movies of Park Chan-wook. (Kim Ok-bin appeared in Park’s Thirst; Shin Ha-kyun was in both that film and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance.) Other precursors include Luc Besson’s La Femme Nikita and Gareth Evans’ The Raid, whose close-quarters mayhem Jung emulates repeatedly. After the opening’s slaughter in tight hallways, the director stages battles in a hurtling bus and — with swords on motorcycles — within a narrow highway tunnel.

Expertly edited, photographed, and choreographed, The Villainess also benefits from Koo Ja-wan’s percussive score and performances that persuasively shift between commonplace emotions and supernatural ferocity. Kim Ok-bin seems human even when the character she’s playing is a just an action figure.

Sook-hee is a puppet, of course, and not just of Chief. The director also manipulates her to appeal to the male enthusiasm for pretty women who turn out to be exceedingly dangerous. Jung might be commenting on that taste by sending his heroine to a school where both marksmanship and pirouettes are part of the curriculum. But probably not. Most likely he conceived the notion of homicidal ballerinas just because they look cool.

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Jeep: Why This American Icon Could Soon Be Part Of A Chinese Company

American troops use a Jeep in 1943 to clear land for Army camps in England.

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Ever since its fabled role in World War II, Jeep has been an American icon. And now the famous U.S. brand may be sold to a Chinese company.

Jeep was primarily made for the United Sates military, starting in 1941. It was used to transport troops during WWII and that’s when the rugged-looking vehicle captured the imagination of people worldwide.

The name Jeep is short hand for GP or Government or General Purpose. It was a simple, sturdy and flexible vehicle that allowed for easy fixing on the battleground. After the soldiers returned home, Jeep was ready for sale to the general public in 1945. Its arrival essentially introduced the SUV to the market.

The Chinese company Great Wall Motor this week expressed interest in acquiring the Jeep brand from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Zeroing in on Jeep isn’t surprising, given that it is the jewel in the company’s crown and makes up for a lot of Fiat Chrysler’s sales. In fact, along with the Ram truck, it makes up 95 percent of the company’s profits, according to Morgan Stanley.

Not only is Jeep a popular car worldwide, sales have been growing in China since the brand was reintroduced there. Jeep expects to sell 850,000 vehicles in China in 2018, up from 130,000 in 2013. IHS Markit predicts that SUVs sales will represent 40 percent of the Chinese auto market in 2020 — quadruple their share in 2010.

The fact that Fiat Chrysler may be considering the sale of its crown jewel gives a sense of the dire straits at the company. Chrysler has long been the sick man of Detroit. The company has nailed some of the city’s most important cultural, emotional and style moments, such as depicted in the company’s Super Bowl ads.

But its leadership over the decades, between Lee Iacocca and its current CEO, has been erratic. In the last two years especially, chief executive Sergio Marchionne has been trying to court merger or buyout partners.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the few vehicles made inside the city of Detroit today.

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The SUV bandwagon

Jeep expanded its SUV line in the 1980s and ’90s. The Jeep Grand Cherokee, introduced in 1993, is one of the few vehicles made inside the city of Detroit today. Jeep’s plants in Detroit and outside Toledo, Ohio, are tremendously important to the economies of those cities. Jeep is probably the most Midwest centered of the brands, when it comes to manufacturing. In addition to Detroit and Toledo, Jeeps are made in Kokomo, Ind., Belvidere, Ill., and Mexico.

Despite its popularity, Jeeps aren’t necessarily great cars. They, along with other Fiat Chrysler brands, are consistently the lowest-scoring brands by Consumer Reports in terms of quality.

The reporter’s take is that it is an SUV with no storage space. It has a small cabin, but because of its size, it’s hard to park. It gets terrible gas mileage. Its convertible top takes 20 minutes to take down.

But Jeep helped define the SUV age we live in. Few things represent America abroad more than the Jeep. Humvees just weren’t as fun.

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A Retired Marine And A Photojournalist Confront War's 'Invisible Injuries'

A U.S. Marine from the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, Alpha Company looks out as an evening storm gathers above an outpost near Kunjak, in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province.

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Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters/Viking

After Marine Sgt. Thomas (“TJ”) Brennan was hit by the blast from a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan in 2010, he suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him unable to recall much of his immediate past — including, at times, the name of his own daughter.

“When I got blown up, it erased a lot of my memories,” Brennan says.

Brennan began therapies to address his TBI. He used the 200 letters he’d exchanged with his wife to put together a broad narrative of his time at war. When it came to the grenade blast itself, Brennan pieced together the sequence of events surrounding his injury with the help of Finbarr O’Reilly, a photographer who had embedded with Brennan’s unit in Afghanistan.

“I have the whole sequence documented of him,” O’Reilly says. “One of the things I … [photographed] was this Afghan national policeman who fired the rocket that ultimately went astray and blew up very close to TJ, knocking him unconscious … and the explosion afterwards, and the guys who went to recover TJ.”

Back in the U.S., both men struggled with the aftereffects of war. Brennan suffered from PTSD and debilitating depression, while O’Reilly grappled with the psychological toll of years spent documenting human brutality in conflict zones across the world. Together, they collaborated on a memoir, called Shooting Ghosts, about what Brennan refers to as the “invisible injuries” of war.


Interview Highlights

On why O’Reilly pursued photojournalism, and how much of it is about the thrill of adventure

O’Reilly: I think, on some level, if we’re entirely honest with ourselves as photographers, yes, we do want adventure. We do seek out that thrill. The fact that that impulse matches with something that is considered a noble calling — truth-telling, or photojournalism as a profession — these are all worthy things to do, but it does draw people, such as myself, who did go in search of things that would give us a sense of purpose and meaning that was matched by our desire for adventure or for thrills. Initially at least.

When I started out I did want to have an interesting life. I did want to be in places where things were happening. I had traveled, after university, through east and Central Africa down to South Africa. And this is in 1994 — as the Rwandan genocide was beginning to happen — and then I was in South Africa when Mandela was elected. These were very intense experiences for me as a young individual, and I wanted to keep experiencing those kinds of things, and journalism seemed like the best way to do that.

Photographer Finbarr O’Reilly says he was drawn to Afghanistan’s “rugged, cinematic desert landscape.”

Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters/Viking

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Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters/Viking

On photographing the explosion that left TJ with a traumatic brain injury

Finbarr O’Reilly: My job in these situations is first of all not to get in the way of what’s happening, while also trying to remain safe myself. So I was very focused on my role while these guys were focused on theirs. So I would just photograph things unfolding.

On what it is like to live with a traumatic brain injury

Brennan: I was trying to take off my boots to take my first shower in a few months, when I first arrived at Camp Bastion [now Shorabak]. And there’s something really scary about being inside your own head and telling your hands to untie your laces — and they won’t listen.

You know what you’re supposed to be doing. You’re telling yourself what you’re supposed to be doing. And your fingers are working, but something’s not connecting. And the emotion and the fear that I felt in that moment and knowing that I had a difficult time recalling my own daughter’s name just an hour ago at the hospital – like, that was really scary. There are times now where I have [what] I call … “bad brain days,” and that first day in the hospital was one of my first bad brain days that I had.

On returning to his squad and suffering from residual symptoms of his TBI

Now retired from the Marines, TJ Brennan is a regular contributor to The New York Times’At War blog. He is also the founder of The War Horse, a non-profit online newsroom covering the effects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cindy Shepers/Viking

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Cindy Shepers/Viking

Brennan: The majority of traumatic brain injuries, they leave residuals. But not everyone experiences residual symptoms of their traumatic brain injury, so I thought that I was going to be OK when I went back out to my guys. And then, when it came time to me doing [what] I call … the basics of being a Marine infantrymen — having my squad’s identification numbers memorized, having their blood types memorized … when I went back and I started doing my pre-combat checks and pre-combat inspections, I was having a hard time remembering those.

That’s a real, “Oh, crap” moment, when you’re responsible for 15 lives. But I didn’t want to be labeled as a malingerer for saying I was having issues. Because, for me — my TBI — the symptoms manifest in a very physical way for me. But they’re very invisible to a lot of people, so it’s easy for people to discount invisible injuries.

On not seeking help for his trauma initially

Brennan: I ignored getting help for far too long. One of the main reasons why I wanted to write the book was because I understand how it feels to feel alone, like you’re the only veteran or service member going through an issue. It feels like you’re surrounded by extremely strong people who are wearing the same uniform that you are, and you don’t want to let them down. And that’s a lot of why I couldn’t bring myself to get help.

On deciding to be open about his own PTSD after a leader in the battalion gathered the unit to criticize a fellow Marine for having PTSD

Brennan: There was somebody in the battalion who was bitching [about] … pulling the PTSD “punk card.” And that was a symbolic moment to me, because it was [about] the stigma toward mental health treatment in action — whether it was 100 percent directed at me or not.

I immediately [felt like I] had been labeled a piece of broken gear. … That’s probably the best thing that could have happened to me in hindsight, because I knew it was either I walk back inside and say, “I’m not getting help, and I’m going to deploy back to Afghanistan with these guys in seven months,” or “I need to steel my resolve and go down the road of getting help, because I just need to accept that my career is over.”

I want to make one thing clear: The opinion that that “leader” showed that day, that’s not representative of every Marine. That’s not representative of every service member.

On helping another retired Marine through his writing

Brennan: What means the most to me was, after I wrote about my suicide attempt for The New York Times — I think it was 2013 — I had a Marine veteran reach out to me.

He called me on my office line while I was working at The Daily News in North Carolina. He really didn’t tell me too much other than the fact that he was an Iraqi immigrant that later joined up and served as a linguist during the wars. When he came home, his family disowned him. And it had probably been about seven or 10 days after the story had published, but he told me that he Googled “painless, quick suicide” or some sort of Google search about how to kill himself painlessly and not leave a big mess for his family. And the SEO — the search engine optimization — for The New York Times story made that the first thing that popped up [in his online search]. And he called me to tell me that my story renewed his commitment to stay alive.

Lauren Krenzel and Mooj Zadie produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Bridget Bentz, Molly Seavy-Nesper and Deborah Franklin adapted it for the Web.

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Cars Are Starting To Remind Us Not To Leave Baby In The Back Seat

Rear Seat Reminder, designed to remind drivers to check the back seat as they exit their vehicles, will be offered in many Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC vehicles by the 2018 model year.

General Motors

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General Motors

Your car already reminds you of a lot of things. Fasten your seat belt, charge your battery, inflate your tires, fill the tank.

Now Congress wants car makers to work in another one: a reminder to check the backseat. The goal is to cut down on the number of kids who die every year in hot cars. On average, 37 kids die each year that way; this year, the toll is 35, and it’s only August.

The Hot Cars Act of 2017 — recently introduced in the House and the Senate — doesn’t specify the form that reminder should take. Should it be a beep when you turn off the car? Should your car honk at you? Should your phone ring?

Dr. Aditya Belwadi’s job is to study questions like that. He oversees child passenger safety at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, looking at car seats, using crash dummies, computational models — anything related to kids’ safety and cars.

He did a survey of the technology that was available in 2011. His team went through 18 products, from wrist bands to pressure pads to GPS trackers. “We installed several makes, models, variations in technology, variations in how they notify the user,” Belwadi says. “We actually had kids under the age of 2 and children between 2 and 4 years of age in car seats with parents and drove them around.”

The team was trying to get a sense for how reliable these products were in real life: jostled around, battery run down, out of range, covered in bread crumbs and apple juice.

How’d it go? Well, the press release about the study was headlined: New Research Says Current Warning Systems Designed to Detect Children Left in Vehicles Are Not Reliable.

Now, the landscape of technology to address this problem has changed. Carmakers and car seat makers are getting involved.

General Motors released the Rear Seat Reminder system in the spring of 2016 in the GMC Acadia.

The reminder “is activated when you use a rear door 10 minutes before or any time when the vehicle is on,” says Tricia Morrow, a global safety engineer at GM. “Subsequently when you turn your vehicle off, the driver will hear five distinct chimes — they’re different than any other chimes that you would hear in your vehicle.” And a message displays in the dashboard. Morrow says the feature is now standard on over 20 models across GMC, Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac.

YouTube

This summer, Nissan came out with its own version, called Rear Door Alert. It will honk at a driver who opened the rear door before driving somewhere and then leaves the car without opening the rear door again.

Another promising technology is a chest clip sensor, introduced by car seat maker Evenflo in 2015, which notifies drivers if the harness is still clipped on a baby after the car is turned off.

Waze, the popular smartphone traffic app, also has an option that will remind you to look in the back seat when you reach your destination.

Belwadi thinks using the rear door as the trigger is the right approach, since it addresses kids both in and out of car seats. And he’s excited about the Hot Cars Act of 2017 and the role that it could play to push manufacturers to address the issue.

But even if the bill becomes law, new cars are required to have a reminder system, and it starts getting rolled out in every new car, it’s still going to be a very long time before this technology is truly widespread.

“If you bring a new technology in today it’s going to take a good decade before every single car is going to have that,” Belwadi says.

“These technologies really cannot replace the impact of human behavior,” he says. Parents are often tired, distracted, already pinged by so many other notifications from their cars and their phones. “How do you act? How do you notify the parent? Is it an app? Will it still work if your phone is dead? Is it a warning? Is your car going to honk or lower the windows, switch on the AC, or call 911?”

GM’s Morrow says the automaker has only done market research so far, so it’s not known how well these new technologies work in the wild. They’ve yet to undergo the battery of tests and scenarios the earlier tools went through in the 2011 survey.

A government safety message urges parents to put something in their car’s back seat so they won’t forget a baby is there.

safecar.gov

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safecar.gov

And even if research leads to solutions that are reliable, effective and easy to roll out, Belwadi warns that people still can’t let their guard down.

“One of the challenges with technology is the over-reliance of them,” he says. Public education and awareness is still essential, like the campaign “Look Before You Lock.”

It’s a horrible thing for a child to die in the back of a car. And it can happen fast. “A lot of times we think that it’s not going to happen to us because we’re very careful as parents,” Belwadi says. “But if you look at who this has happened to, it’s everyday mom and dad.”

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