Mic Check – Boko Haram Strikes Again, a Unified Theory of Jerks, and Peter Dinklage

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THE AGENDA 

Boko Haram militants slaughter hundreds in Nigeria: "Boko Haram militants dressed as soldiers slaughtered at least 200 civilians in three communities in northeastern Nigeria," per the Associated Press. Witnesses told the AP that the Nigerian military failed to intervene even though it was warned that an attack was imminent.

The 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre and “Tank Man”: Wednesday marked the 25th anniversary of pro-democracy protests in China that ended with a government crackdown killing hundreds of civilians. "Tens of thousands of people gathered" at a central Hong Kong park to mark the anniversary of the "bloody crackdown," reports the New York Times. The Chinese government isn’t taking this anniversary lightly: Human rights advocates report that in Beijing, access to the square, a symbol of the Chinese Communist Party’s nearly 65-year rule, had been restricted.

Today marks the anniversary of the famous “Tank Man” photograph from the Tiananmen protests. The Independent wonders what became of the lone protester who defied the regime’s tanks:


(Credit: The Associated Press)

China has been exercising tight control over references to the crackdown on the Internet:

+ Here’s what China sees when it searches for “Tiananmen” and other loaded terms.
+ There are at least 64 terms about Tiananmen censored on China’s Internet today.
+ This is what happens if you ask regular people on the street about Tiananmen.
+ Some protesters are slipping Tiananmen Square memes through China’s Web censors.
+ PolicyMic’s Sara Yasin rounds up 13 photos other than “Tank Man” that China doesn’t want you to see.

Inside the Obama administration’s thinking on Bowe Bergdahl: The Washington Post has anexcellent report on how the Obama administration decided to swap five Taliban detainees for the captured soldier: “The circumstances of Bergdahl’s captivity forced the administration to decide whether it would be willing to share more intelligence with Pakistan’s government, despite concerns about its loyalties, or deploy troops to try to grab Bergdahl. On each count, the answer from many inside the administration was no.”

+ The Post also spoke to Afghan villagers who recall the day Bergdahl stumbled into their midst: “We think he probably was high after smoking hashish … Why would an American want to find the Taliban?”

+ Today, in home movies: The Taliban released a video of the release of Bergdahl, which every pundit on the East Coast is now frantically analyzing.

The NFL is ditching Roman numerals: The NFL announced Wednesday that "Super Bowl 50 will be graphically represented using numbers instead of Roman numerals, which the league has been using since Super Bowl V in 1971," per ESPN.

Syrian president clinches election, I guess: Syria parliament speaker Mohammad al-Laham said Bashar al-Assad won the country’s presidential vote in a landslide with 88.7%, the Associated Pressreports. PolicyMic’s Jenna Kagel sums up the election in one devastating cartoon.

Astronomers discover potentially habitable planet in nearby system: An international team of researchers announced the discovery of two planets orbiting Kapteyn's Star, a star that is 11.5 billion years old and 13 light years from our Sun. One of the planets, Kapteyn b, is the right distance away from its star to maintain liquid water on its surface — a crucial requirement for life as we know it. "Finding a stable planetary system with a potentially habitable planet orbiting one of the very nearest stars in the sky is mind blowing,” study author Pamela Arriagada told National Geographic.

U.S. tech firms in China face media vitriol: Chinese state media has lashed out at Google, Apple and other U.S. technology companies, calling on Beijing "to punish severely the pawns" of the U.S. government for monitoring China. This is deliciously ironic because, let’s be real, everyone is monitoring everyone these days.

MATTERS OF DEBATE

So you’re surrounded by idiots. Guess who the real jerk is: Philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel works toward a unified theory of jerks in Aeon: “The jerk culpably fails to appreciate the perspectives of others around him, treating them as tools to be manipulated or idiots to be dealt with rather than as moral and epistemic peers. This failure has both an intellectual dimension and an emotional dimension, and it has these two dimensions on both sides of the relationship. The jerk himself is both intellectually and emotionally defective, and what he defectively fails to appreciate is both the intellectual and emotional perspectives of the people around him. He can’t appreciate how he might be wrong and others right about some matter of fact; and what other people want or value doesn’t register as of interest to him, except derivatively upon his own interests. The bumpkin ignorance captured in the earlier use of ‘jerk’ has changed into a type of moral ignorance.”

Everyone’s missing the real issue in the Bowe Bergdahl controversy: It’s not the legality of the prisoner swap or even Bergdahl’s loyalty to his country, writes investigative journalist Andy Worthington for PolicyMic, but the perverse logic by which detainees are actually freed from Guantanamo Bay: “This criticism is neither accurate nor helpful, and, in addition, it does not take into account the prisoners still held at Guantánamo: Specifically the 78 men, out of 149 remaining prisoners, who have been cleared for release from the prison, mostly since 2010 … As the storm over the prisoner swap rages on and, no doubt, eventually subsides, who will remember the cleared prisoners at Guantánamo and call for their release?”

The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson drives this point home: “Guantánamo itself is governed by emotion rather than principle or procedure.”

The Republican case against Republican economics: Pultizer Prize-winning journalist Thomas B. Edsall lays it out in the New York Times: “Once fissures have appeared in the conservative belief system, it will become increasingly difficult to maintain hegemony – or, to mix metaphors, you cannot unscramble a scrambled egg. Conservatism, as currently construed, faces the risk of irrelevance if it fails to address the consequences of globalization and automation, two of the most powerful forces driving the hollowing-out of the middle-class job market.”

Let’s stop talking about the Internet like it’s a human being: Matthew J.X. Malady makes the casefor not anthropomorphizing the Web in Slate: “Who doesn’t love to hear ‘The Internet just made a child’s dream come true,’ or ‘The Internet prevented an innocent man from going to jail’? Such comments allow us all to feel good about ourselves as Internet users and about humanity more generally. But there’s also a downside to this way of writing and talking. For one thing, it can obscure the specific people and events involved in, say, freeing an innocent man. It takes agency away from those people and hands it to an inanimate and highly abstract entity.”
 

MARVELS

Stop with the lunchtime Facebooking: Here are 14 brilliant piece of literature you can read in the time it takes to eat lunch. [PolicyMic]

So long, power cables: Wireless charging is coming. [TIME]

This woman a split-second decision to leave her child in the car while she went to the store. She had no idea it would consume the next years of my life. [Salon]

This is what it’s like to deliver bad news for a living. [The Atlantic]

What our overuse of the word “amazing” says about us. [Medium]

Google Glass, virtual reality, Big Data: How futuristic technologies go from hyped to hated — and back again. [Slate]

Scientists may have just discovered a way to save one of the world’s most important creatures: bees. [PolicyMic]

Maureen Dowd’s adventures in marijuana candy was funny, but Sarah Jeong’s parody is much, much better. [The Guardian]

Finally: Here’s a photo of Game of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage sporting a mullet, circa 1987. [Mashable]




Mic Check is carefully and dutifully assembled each day by Jared Keller. Did we miss something you wanted to read about? Want to see us focus on an under-covered issue? Have a tip for the next edition? Email jared@policymic.com


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Editor's Note: Feb. 24, 2015

An earlier version of this article failed to cite passages from Fox News, the New York Times and ESPN in accordance with Mic editorial standards. The article has been updated to properly attribute the language to those sources.

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Jared Keller

Jared Keller is the former director of news at Mic.

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