The failed attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn

A sign of the growing fear among the British elites about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s increasing popularity are the attempts to smear him. Robert Mackey writes about one such attempt by the right-wing British tabloid press led by Rupert Murdoch to accuse Jeremy Corbyn of having been a spy for the Czechoslovakian secret service during the Cold War. This was taken up by Conservative prime minister Theresa May and some of her cabinet members but the attempt failed miserably.
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The importance of hope and the danger of cynicism and pessimism in politics

I am usually optimistic about politics, that however bleak things look at the moment for the causes of equality and justice (and boy are they bleak right now) over time things will improve. But there is one issue where I felt where things would not improve and that is with gun control. My pessimism on that particular issue was sealed with the murders of twenty first grade children in Newton, an event that did not lead to any movement to limit the easy availability of high-powered weapons that pretty much anyone could get with no difficulty. It seemed like the political class was not going to interfere with the ability of any individual to buy unlimited numbers of weapons and ammunition to kill as many people as they can.
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Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons

I am back from my travels and was greeted with the news that Donald Trump seems to have backed off his earlier support for the anti-vaccination movement. At various points, he had expressed support for widely debunked claims that vaccines could cause autism and had even proposed setting up a commission to ‘study’ the issue, which many people feared would provide a highly visible platform for the skeptics to spread their ideas.
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How not to teach

For a term paper in an online course, a student was asked to pick a country and compare some trend between that country and the US. The student chose to compare social media use, with Australia as the other country. But she got the paper back with an F grade, the adjunct professor writing on it that she was failing the student and that Australia is a continent not a country. The student appealed the grade to the professor and the university administration and sent in some evidence that Australia was unique in being both a continent and a country. Her grade was then revised to a B+ and the professor was fired.
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A different response to the latest massacre

There seems to be something different in the reaction to the horrific school shooting in Florida. Students are taking the lead in demanding that something be done to combat the deadly rampages that routinely occur in the US due to the easy availability of high-powered weaponry. They are calling for a massive demonstration on March 24 in Washington, DC and around the country titled March For Our Lives to demand that action be taken.
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The Havana mystery

There was a story that appeared in the news some time ago about a mysterious sound that was supposedly affecting US embassy personnel in Havana and creating such debilitating effects that it resulted in some of them deciding to come back to the US. There were allegations that Cuba was waging some kind of high-tech warfare against the US but the case for that was pretty thin, even allowing for the fact that there would be no motive for them to do so, since they are interested in improving ties with the US.
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Is there art in artificial intelligence?

I mentioned the fascinating Science Café talk on Deep Learning. At the very end, there was a thought provoking question raised by an artist in the audience who asked whether such machines could create works of art. The speaker pondered the question and answered that in his opinion, the answer is no. His reasoning was that in a work of art, the artist is trying to convey something based on their life experiences and emotions and a computer, however sophisticated and capable of learning, would not be able to draw upon such resources.
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