Saturday, September 20, 2014

The iPhone 6 Lines Had More Than Just Die-Hard Apple Fans

The iPhone 6 Lines Had More Than Just Die-Hard Apple Fans

The iPhone 6 Lines Had More Than Just Die-Hard Apple Fans

Posted: 20 Sep 2014 09:29 AM PDT

In the days before the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were released, the Apple Store in SoHo, New York City, was surrounded not by throngs of excited Apple fans, but by dozens of indifferent-looking, older customers.

According to a short film by Casey Neistat, many of the front-of-liners spoke little English, waiting for the Apple Store to open with a insouciance that seemed incongruous for the launch of one of the most-hyped gadgets of the year. Many of them bought two iPhones each in cash, and then resold the iPhones to another buyer, as seen in Neistat’s films. At least one line-waiter is also seen being arrested for reasons unclear.

What was going on here? The title of this video documenting iPhone 6 days suggests “Chinese mafia” involvement. While there’s no evidence of that exactly, there certainly does appear to be something fishy going on — it’s not impossible many of the first-in-line customers were there just to get some iPhone units to sell in the secondary market here or overseas.

AP Interview: El-Sissi Ready to Back Anti-IS Fight

Posted: 20 Sep 2014 09:23 AM PDT

CAIRO — Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi told The Associated Press on Saturday he is prepared to give whatever support is needed in the fight against the Islamic State group but called for a “comprehensive strategy” to tackle the roots of extremism across the region.

In his first interview with a foreign media outlet since taking office in June, el-Sissi sought to present himself and Egypt as at the vanguard of confronting militancy, citing it as the reason for his ouster of Egypt’s first freely elected president more than a year ago — a move that brought international criticism and strained ties with top ally the United States.

He told AP that Egyptians had realized the danger of “political Islam” and that if he had not acted, the Arab world’s most populous nation would have faced “civil war” and bloodshed now seen in Iraq and Syria.

“I warned about the great danger a year ago,” he said. “But it was not clear (to others) until the events in Iraq and the Islamic State’s sweep” over much of that country.

El-Sissi did not elaborate on what support Egypt might give to the U.S.-led coalition aimed at fighting the extremist group. When asked if Egypt might provide airspace access or logistical support for airstrikes, he said, “We are completely committed to giving support. We will do whatever is required.”

But he appeared to rule out sending troops, saying Iraq’s military is strong enough to fight the militants and “it’s not a matter of ground troops from abroad.”

Speaking in a chamber in his Ittihadiya presidential palace, he said it was “very important” to stop foreign extremists from joining militant groups in Syria and Iraq, warning that they will return to their home nations, including in Europe. But he said a broader strategy is needed that also addresses poverty and improves education in the region.

In his previous post as head of the military, el-Sissi ousted President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013 and launched a heavy crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood movement. Since then, more than 1,000 have been killed and more than 20,000 imprisoned as police have crushed protests and rounded up Brotherhood leaders.

El-Sissi said the Brotherhood “had a chance to rule Egypt” but that Egyptians turned against it — referring to the massive demonstrations in the summer of 2013 demanding Morsi’s ouster.

Justifying the crackdown, he said the Brotherhood had “chosen confrontation.” But he said followers of the group, which has been banned, could participate in politics in in the future if they renounce violence.

“To anyone who doesn’t use violence, Egypt is very forgiving,” he said. “The chance for participation is there.”

Behind the Scenes: The Hunt for al Zarqawi and the Power of ‘We’

Posted: 20 Sep 2014 09:00 AM PDT

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Follow Stanley McChrystal on LinkedIn. This post is part of a series titled “Behind the Scenes” in which Influencers explain in detail one aspect of their work. LinkedIn Editor Isabelle Roughol also provides an overview of the 60+ Influencers that participated in the package.

Thursday, the 8th of June 2006, was extraordinarily busy. The evening before, after 2 1/2 years of grimly lethal effort, the Task Force I commanded had located and killed al Qaeda in Iraq’s senior leader in Iraq – the shadowy Abu Musab al Zarqawi. And now, flush with intelligence carefully gathered during the hunt, we pressed the attack against the former commander’s entire network. On Balad Airbase waves of specially configured surveillance aircraft and helicopter loads of commandos launched into the night sky, destined for a collection of targets across war-torn Iraq. Inside an old aircraft bunker we’d converted into a high-tech command center, flat-screen televisions ringed the walls, glowing with real-time information or live video feeds. Civilian analysts scurried back and forth with hard copy intelligence reports; bearded operators in full kit sprinted in for last minute checks with the operations staff as helicopters whirred on the runway; medical staff ensured the readiness of their teams to deal with any casualties, and aviation liaisons kept dozens of aircraft moving around the battlefield in a high-stakes game of three-dimensional chess.

To an outsider, it might have looked like chaos. But to the trained eye, it was an organization in a state of exquisitely synchronized flow. What looked like a pick-up team of mismatched souls was, in reality, the most sophisticated and tightly integrated thinking organization I had ever been a part of. And this day would be one of the most important 24-hour periods that we would see during the war, with every member of the task force laser-focused to press the fight. It was an effort far beyond the capacity of any one person to manage.

“Sir, you have a phone call,” came the voice of one of my staff. I was taken aback, as he knew the criticality of the moment. My look told him I wasn’t really interested in talking with anyone at the moment, so he jumped in to save me the embarrassment of saying take a message. “It’s the President. President Bush wants to talk with you.” And so… you take the call.

The President was calling, very graciously, to thank me for what had happened the day before. We had killed our enemy’s most ruthless and effective leader. His removal was not the end of Al Qaeda in Iraq, but it was certainly the beginning of their demise.

“Stan, I want to thank you for what you’ve done today. It’s a great service to the country.” The words were kind, and the meaning pure. But as I stared out into the sea of energy in our operations center – where hardened warriors mixed fluidly with young civilians; where uniforms from multiple units were integrated with rock tee-shirts and ball caps; where men and women, youth and veteran, operated as one – I thought to myself, I don’t think I did anything… but they’ve certainly done something incredible.

“Thank you sir, I’ll pass that on to the force. They’ve done truly heroic work, and there’s still more to do.” It was the best I could come up with.

If I learned one thing in my 34-year career, it was this fact: I accomplished nothing, but we did amazing things. As a leader, I have always seen it as my most critical function to create the “we,” to place oneself at the center of diverse and amazing talent, and pull them together around a common purpose. “I” is ego, and a risky path for any leader. “We” is empowerment, transparency, and shared context – all of the things the modern environment requires to be effective.

But it is not enough to say these things – today’s leaders must work like they never have before to create the environment where this is not just theoretical chatter at the quarterly town-hall, but visible to your organization in the way you lead, the focus you demonstrate, and the methods in which you communicate with your people. Today’s workers are watching their leaders like they never have in the past. They know that yesterday’s stove-piped approaches won’t work. The also know that only “we”-focused leaders, those willing to put themselves in the middle of today’s chaos, will send them the message they need to hear.

A false interpretation of history of that critical day in 2006 could point to a few key leaders that were making the most important calls and to a small team that launched to find Zarqawi. But everyone involved would know that was inaccurate. The days of small teams solving for isolated problems are gone. Since leaving the service my colleagues and I have seen this same issue unfolding in every sector. Our mission has been, from our inception, to bring this message to others, to create the “we” that the modern world demands if organizations want to survive and excel.

At our zenith in Special Operations, we were a team-of-teams – a seamlessly interconnected organization the likes of which the battlefield had never seen. The speed at which we were able to share information across traditional silos, the contextual awareness that was shared at every level, and the empowerment that existed on the fringes of our organization allowed our thousands-strong, globally dispersed force to outpace the speed of the network-based enemy we were facing. We did so not by creating verticals of “I” – but by creating networked teams of “we.” The approached, forged in fire, is universal for the 21st century – and an “I” approach will never keep pace.

Stanley McChrystal is co-founder and partner at McChrystal Group.

U.S. Jets Intercept Russian Aircraft Near Alaska

Posted: 20 Sep 2014 08:35 AM PDT

Two American F-22 fighter jets intercepted six Russian military airplanes that neared the cost of Alaska, military officials said Friday.

The U.S. jets intercepted the Russian planes 55 nautical miles from the Alaskan coast, Lt. Col. Michael Jazdyk, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, told the Associated Press.

The Russian planes—which included two long-range bombers and two fighter jets—looped south and returned to Russia after the U.S. jets scrambled to meet them. The Russian jets did not enter sovereign airspace of the United States, but rather entered an area that extends 200 miles out from the coastline known as the Air Defense Identification Zone.

The U.S. fighter jets were scrambled “basically to let those aircraft know that we see them, and in case of a threat, to let them know we are there to protect our sovereign airspace,” said Jazdyk.


Video Of The Planet’s Most Terrifying (and Fictional) Traffic Crossroads

Posted: 20 Sep 2014 08:13 AM PDT


This article originally appeared on Lost at E Minor.

Oh my giddy aunt! This is most dangerous traffic intersection in the world. Thank your lucky stars it’s not a real one. With cars whizzing in all directions in endless streams and pedestrians carelessly braving the crossings by threading their way between speeding vehicles, just looking at this video has raised our heartbeat.

Thankfully this intersection doesn’t actually it exist, it’s the work of genius film-maker and editor Fernando Livschitz. By threading together different clips of the same crossroads in Argentina, Livschitz has masterfully created Rush Hour: a video of the planet’s most terrifying (and most fictional) traffic phenomenon.

(via Fastcodesign)

Apple Introduced Its First ‘Laptop’ 25 Years Ago and It Was Totally Awful

Posted: 20 Sep 2014 08:00 AM PDT

Twenty-five years ago Saturday, on Sept. 20, 1989, Apple released its first “portable” Macintosh computer — and “portable” belongs in quotation marks, because Sisyphus might as well have been made to lift this thing up a hillside for eternity.

Coming in at a hefty 16 pounds — that’s more than five MacBook Airs, and about four of IBM’s rival product at the time — Apple’s Macintosh Portable had a price tag to match its weight: $6,500 got you the machine, loaded with super-modern features like an “active-matrix screen” and a “cursor-control device called a trackball,” as TIME described it in the Sept. 25, 1989, issue. The computer also ran only on batteries; you couldn’t plug this big fella in to run off a wall outlet like you can with a modern laptop.

“Apple is taking pains to call the machine a portable rather than a laptop, but computer industry wags have already dubbed it a ‘luggable,'” reads TIME’s article about the Macintosh Portable, revealing that tech writers’ penchant for adorable nicknames (“wearable,” “phablet” and so on) is well-rooted in our trade’s history. “Even so, experts believe the Mac is likely to be a walkaway success.”

Clever pun, but we (or those experts!) were way off base: Customers greeted the Macintosh Portable like a sour apple; PCWorld would eventually deem it the 17th worst tech product ever made.

Read the most recent TIME cover story about Apple here: Never Offline

Watch How Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus Fare In a Drop Test

Posted: 20 Sep 2014 07:42 AM PDT

The biggest problem with iPhones—much like bones, and marriages—is that they break. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are no exception, and while they each do decently in a drop test over concrete, they can also suffer some pretty significant damage.

Scuffs on the case are annoying, and cracked screens are obviously worse. The phones are damaged in different ways depending on how they’re dropped, whether on their sides, fronts or backs.

Watch this here to see how the iPhone 6 fares in a drop test.

Everyone Gets Mad on Daily Show Shouting Match Between Redskins Fans and Native Americans

Posted: 20 Sep 2014 07:04 AM PDT

A Daily Show with Jon Stewart segment that features Redskins fans in a debate with activist Native Americans turned into a not-so-funny, caustic shouting match that angered many of the participants on the comedy news show.

Four hardcore Redskins fans signed up to be in an upcoming episode of the Daily Show, knowing they were likely to be mocked in an interview with correspondent Jason Jones, the Washington Post reports. But three hours into the taping, a large group of Native American activists—prearranged by Daily Show producers to confront the Redskins fans—appeared, and the segment descended into vitriol.

The Native American group, some of which are members of the comedy group the 1491s, entered the room where the Redskins were being interviewed. At first there was an awkward silence. Then, the Native Americans angrily accused the fans of supporting a racist mascot. One activist, Amanda Blackhorse said she called a fan an “alcoholic, someone who’s in denial and who doesn’t want to believe what they’re doing is not right.”

A 56-year-old Redskins fan, Kelli O’Dell, said she felt trapped, broke into tears and took off her microphone to leave the room.

“This goes way beyond mocking. Poking fun is one thing, but that’s not what happened,” O’Dell said. “It was disingenuous. The Native Americans accused me of things that were so wrong. I felt in danger. I didn’t consent to that. I am going to be defamed.”

The Daily Show told the Redskins fans that there would be a panel with Native Americans, but was unclear about whether there would be a cross-panel discussion.

The Native Americans took flak as they were being filmed for The Daily Show at the FedEx Field on Sunday, where Redskins fans tailgating an NFL season opener shouted obscenities at them. According to one of the Native Americans, one man shouted at them “Thanks a lot for letting us use your name, boys!”

The Redskins name and logo have long been a subject of controversy, with Native American groups filing successive lawsuits claiming the name is disparaging. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office voted to cancel the Redskins trademark, but its owner, Dan Snyder, has adamantly refused to change the team’s name.

The Daily Show episode in question hasn’t aired yet.

[Washington Post]

Former Defense Secretary: U.S. Should Have Kept Troops in Iraq

Posted: 20 Sep 2014 06:22 AM PDT

Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says the United States should not have completely pulled troops out of Iraq in 2011.

In an interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes, Panetta, who was defense secretary under President Barack Obama from 2011 to 2013 after being director of the CIA from 2009 to 2011, said he disagreed with the U.S. strategy of withdrawing soldiers from Iraq.

“I really thought that it was important for us to maintain a presence in Iraq,” Panetta said.

Panetta also said the U.S. should have provided weapons to Syrians who opposed Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, a view opposed to that of President Obama and many high-level security officials.

“I think the President’s concern, and I understand it, was that he had a fear that if we started providing weapons, we wouldn’t know where those weapons would wind up,” Panetta said. “My view was, you have to begin somewhere.”

The episode of 60 Minutes featuring Panetta will be broadcast Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ET.

We Need to Adjust Our Expectations of the UN

Posted: 20 Sep 2014 06:00 AM PDT

Each September since 1945 has delivered a delightfully awkward few days when world leaders—some of whose armies have bludgeoned each other all year on the battlefields—all converge on the UN General Assembly in New York.

The meeting inevitably provides ammunition for commentators who think the UN is impotent—“all talk and no action.” But this underestimates the impact—both positive and negative—that the UN can have around the globe.

The key to using the UN correctly is to be realistic about where it can, by nature, make a difference, and where it risks being sandwiched between so many competing interests that its leaders are forced bend over backwards to please all sides and end up pleasing none.

It also helps to understand a little bit about the UN’s history – when it was at its most and least effective. The United Nations never truly enjoyed a “golden age,” except, arguably, at the conceptual stage, in the immediate years before the organization’s official creation. Indeed, the name “United Nations” was coined by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the Declaration by United Nations of 1 January 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of 26 nations pledged their governments to continue fighting together against the Nazis and the Axis Powers. Ever since they crushed their common enemies, it was often joked that the only thing that ever truly united the United Nations was a dedication to keep Germany and Japan off the Security Council (while pretending to support their accession, of course).

Later, the Cold War forced the UN into an operational hiatus for years, bogging down the Security Council with vetoes, 271 of which were cast in all, mostly by the Soviet Union (128) and the United States (83) on almost every issue of contention. Then, suddenly, in the early 1990s, the implosion of the Soviet empire thrust the UN back into active war zones. UN officials had high hopes for its potential impact, pinned on low budgets, completely inadequate operational capabilities, and coupled with leftover confusion from the Cold War; many still believed that the organization should, or even could, remain neutral in fights that pitted states against officially designated terrorist organizations.

We learned the hard way that the UN couldn’t thrive in such a role. The bombing of our UN Baghdad headquarters in 2003, which killed 22 people and wounded over 100, was one of many resulting tragedies of that attempt at neutrality. In an effort to show its independence from the US, and please its anti-War membership, the UN ordered all US protection of its compound withdrawn. The moment the building was unguarded it was rammed by a truck bomb. At the time, the Al Qaeda attack forced the UN out of Iraq almost completely.

Almost. The coffin of perceived failure was missing one nail. That came in the form of the “oil for food” program scandal, which I saw close up during my time at the United Nations Iraq Program. In this case, the wily Saddam had kept meticulous records of every kickback and every bribe transferred under the UN’s $74 billion “oil-for-food” program before he was knocked out of power. When an Iraqi newspaper then published it, a snowball of revelations built up to the biggest corruption scandal in the history of the United Nations, nearly forcing then Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s resignation and casting what he called a “dark cloud” over the UN. Various polls showed a majority of Americans losing trust in the organization after that.

Iraq was a sort of perma-crisis that became a lightning rod for disputes at the UN, spanning the entire era between the end of the Cold War and the onset of the ‘war on terror.’ And today, Iraq leaves us once again with security and humanitarian conundrum for which, sadly, the UN does not have all the solutions. But it’s got food, and tents and sanitation kits, and regional conflicts still provide plenty of takers for those.

And here’s where we wade into uncharted territory – illuminating where, and when, the UN is actually effective. In recent weeks, as battles raged between the Islamic State and just about every minority of North-Eastern Iraq (of which only the Kurds were equipped, physically and culturally, to defend themselves) the UN was in a position to take the lead in quickly delivering aid and shelter to the refugees pouring out of Yazidi and Christian towns overrun by the new desert pirates that roam these parts waving black flags and threatening beheadings galore on all “apostates.”

At one point, I helped coordinate the activities of nine UN agencies, and saw that only a few branches of the gigantic bureaucratic octopus tended to perform well with money: The World Food Program, UNICEF, and UNHCR (which has done an incredible job taking in nearly three million refugees from Syria’s civil war to date) are top performers, and their role in assisting civilians in the aftermath of any fight against terror in the Middle East or Africa cannot be dismissed. Add to the equation occasional natural disasters, like tsunamis or earthquakes, or epidemics like Ebola and the question soon changes from whether or not we “need” the UN to how best we can “make use” of it. The UN’s pre-existing aid infrastructure is a net time saver, once crisis calls on bureaucrats to stop picking their noses and earn their salaries.

The UN system helps share the burden of intervention more widely among its members. Western democracies have domestic voters to account to, and these voters don’t want their own taxes to pay for every aspect of global security. So, short of offering the perfect alliance as a whole, the UN offers conduits to raise funds for critical assistance.

As an organization designed “to save humanity from the scourge of war” the UN has, of course, come up short. But let us not forget that the states that have slapped this organization with an impossible brief to begin are the same that often design its missions with unrealistic expectations and withhold the resources needed to let the UN do a good job. In the case of Ukraine, for example, the UN Security Council is blocked by Russia’s power of veto.

Looking back, however, at the first blueprint offered for an organization that might be capable of actually maintaining world piece, (Immanuel Kant’s treatise “On Perpetual Peace”) we are reminded that, right from the outset, Kant never set his hopes so high as to expect dictators to play a helpful role in spreading peace. In Kant’s humble opinion, only states that functioned democratically as republics, accountable to their own populations, could reliably maintain peace among themselves.

Kant advised that the only solution was for democracies to form temporary alliances to face down their common enemies. And that is as much as we can expect our elected leaders to do, using the UN as an umbrella organization when possible, and acting outside of it when universal agreement on the nature of good and evil escapes our global community.

Michael Soussan, a former UN humanitarian worker and Adjunct assistant professor at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, is the author of the classic satirical memoir “Backstabbing for Beginners: My Crash Course in International Diplomacy” (Nation Books), which is being adapted to feature film. A media consultant, he is a partner at This article originally appeared on The Weekly Wonk.


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