Mic Check — The Las Vegas Shooters' Disturbing Motive, Standing for a Month, and Sir Mix-a-Lot

Mic Check — The Las Vegas Shooters' Disturbing Motive, Standing for a Month, and Sir Mix-a-Lot

THE AGENDA 

Las Vegas shooters spoke of white supremacy and a desire to kill police: The pair of shooters that ambushed Las Vegas police into a firefight that left five people dead reportedly shouted, “This is the start of a revolution” before opening fire and draping their bodies with cloth showing a Revolutionary War-era flag. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that investigators also found paraphernalia associated with white supremacists.

Mother Jones trawled through the suspected shooters’ digital history and pieced together a disconcerting portrait: The two were “were a young married couple who espoused extreme pro-gun and anti-government views" who liked YouTube videos about shooting cops and wrote about their "coming sacrifices" against tyranny.

+ It's wrong to immediately equate someone's political leanings with a propensity for mass violence. However, PolicyMic's Tom McKay notes that this disturbing attack is becoming more common than you may think: "Violent right-wing extremism, it seems, remains alive and well in America, and some experts worry that now or in the future it could become as big a threat as Islamic terrorism posed over the past decade. By some measurements, it already does."

A computer just passed the “Turing Test” for the first time: A computer program became the first in history to successfully convince a panel of judges that it was a human being — more specifically, a non-native English speaking 13-year-old Ukrainian boy named "Eugene Goostman." "Eugene" and four other computerized contenders were participating in Saturday's Turing Test 2014 Competition at the Royal Society in London, which was held on the 60th anniversary of Turing's death.

+ Or did it? TechDirt's Mike Masnick looks beyond the headlines: "The whole concept of the Turing Test itself is kind of a joke. While it's fun to think about, creating a chatbot that can fool humans is not really the same thing as creating artificial intelligence."

Obama bypasses Congress to battle student loan crisis: On Monday, the president announced he will take executive action to help ease students' burden of paying back loans, capping loan payments for an estimated 5 million graduates at 10% of their monthly income. “It's not exactly a cure-all, but it's a start,” writes PolicyMic’s Chris Miles. “But more importantly, Obama is sending a message that he will 100% bypass a gridlocked Congress on this issue to work towards a solution to a student loan problem quickly ballooning out of control.”

Your police department is preparing for warThe New York Times has a grim report describing how the flow of weapons from the military to law enforcement agencies has hastened the militarization of your local police force: “During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft. The equipment has been added to the armories of police departments that already look and act like military units. Police SWAT teams are now deployed tens of thousands of times each year, increasingly for routine jobs.”

Don’t forget about the VA: The Department of Veterans Affairs said Monday that about 100,000 veterans are experiencing long waits for health care appointments at VA facilities, with more than half of them waiting 90 days or more, Reuters reports. In the results of an internal audit ordered as the scandal over deadly VA wait times exploded in May, the agency said it found that schedule misreporting was widespread. Of the 731 facilities surveyed, 76% experienced wait time problems.

Facebook’s (second) response to SnapChat accidentally leaks: A page for Facebook’s “Slingshot” app appeared in the Apple Store on Monday. A Facebook representative confirmed to The Verge that the release was an accident. The new app, Facebook’s second attempt at ephemeral messaging since the ill-fated “Poke,” lets users quickly send (and draw on) disappearing photos and videos to friends inside a minimal messaging interface.

“Gangnam Style” artist Psy’s latest single is going viral, and it’s a total disaster: Seriously, just watch it and let us know how long you last. I think I made it for 30 seconds, which I’ll never get back now.


MATTERS OF DEBATE

Why cultures shouldn’t steal from one another: All that is distinct about the world’s cultures could be stolen by the global mashup that is our cosmopolitan world, argues Nabeelah Jaffer in Aeon: “Symbols of any sort are a means to an end – they stir our memories in order to activate emotions. The cross reminds us of Christianity, and the story of the passion; Ronald McDonald of processed meat in a bun. Using a symbol for any new purpose can alter its meaning irrevocably. The swastika conveyed strength and good fortune to Hindu and Jain communities for centuries until it became, for much of the world, inextricably linked to Nazism. Today we appropriate symbols of other cultures in order to signal exoticism, or sensuality, or our rejection of mainstream society – but even the best intentions can seem to excuse a trade in stereotypes that harm others, and are the accreted sum of a hundred small offences besides our own.”

Take it from a former military deserter: Bowe Bergdahl has suffered enough: Graeme Wood of the Guardian reminds us of the tale of Charles Robert Jenkins, who spent decades in North Korea: “If Bergdahl follows Jenkins's lead and decides not to return home to Idaho, he will retire to somewhere as rural and remote as the land of his childhood, and spend a long while contemplating tragic decisions – in his case, without any compensating joys. He will at least have sunrises, and eventually, once the media lose interest, perhaps also a kind of peace.”

Sitting is bad for you. So I stopped. For a whole month. Dan Kois describes his experience in New York magazine: “I ordered insoles and an anti-fatigue mat and doohickeys to transform my office and home desks into standing workstations. I strapped on a fitness tracker to measure my activity. And I woke up this first morning ready to stand in the place where I live, and stand in the place where I work. My feet are going to be on the ground — ah, shit, do my feet ever hurt.”

MARVELS

This Kanye West Self-Confidence Generator is the best thing you’ll see all week. [USA Today]

An oral history of the "Mighty Ducks" trilogy. [TIME]

Why America is no longer the greatest nation in the world, in 9 charts. [PolicyMic]

Is the “short suit” actually going mainstream? Please God, no. [Business Insider]

The recession is making you racist. [The Atlantic]

People severely underestimate — and lie about  — how much we drink. [New York magazine]

How Britney Spears went to Vegas and became a feminist role model. No, really. [Matter]

Scientists just developed a revolutionary new way to diagnose and treat depression. [PolicyMic]

How to slack off at work — and not get caught. [Lifehacker]

Forty maps explain food in America. [Vox]

I lied earlier: Sir Mix-a-Lot doing “Baby Got Back” with the Seattle Symphony is actually the best thing you’ll see all week.

Mic Check is meticulously distilled from organic, fair-trade links purchased from a local vendor at your neighborhood farmer's market 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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