For a second night in a row, tens of thousands of Brazilians took the streets on Tuesday to protest everything from the cost of living to government corruption.
"More than 50,000 people massed in front of the city's main cathedral. While mostly peaceful, the demonstration followed the rhythm of protests that drew 240,000 people across Brazil the previous night, with small bands of radicals splitting off to fight with police and break into stores.
"Mass protests have been mushrooming across Brazil since demonstrations called last week by a group angry over the high cost of a woeful public transport system and a recent 10-cent hike in bus and subway fares in Sao Paulo, Rio and elsewhere."
The government tried to appease the demonstrators. O Globo reports that 11 cities across the country lowered bus fares. If you remember, it was that hike that sparked the mass protests.
In São Paolo, Brazil's largest city, the mayor relented, saying he would rethink the 20 cent increase and meet with the protesters.
"If people make a decision to revoke the price increase, I'll do what they want me to do, because I'm the mayor of the city to do what the city wants me to do," he told the paper.
O Globo adds that in Rio de Janeiro, the site of the biggest protest on Monday, the governor of the state left the door open to revoke the hike.
Reuters reports that Tuesday night's demonstrations were "marred by a small group of rioters who smashed the windows of Sao Paulo's city hall then set fire to a police security post and a TV broadcaster's transmission van."
President Dilma Rousseff, a socialist, gave a speech in Brasilia on Tuesday, where she praised the demonstrations.
"Brazil woke up stronger today," Rousseff said. "The size of yesterday's demonstrations shows the energy of our democracy, the strength of the voice of the streets and the civility of our population."
If you're interested in more, NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro wrote a piece about the parallels between the Brazilian protests and those happening a world away in Turkey.
This week, Vice Magazine unveiled a fashion spread featuring images based on famous women writers who killed themselves. To call it merely tasteless would be to understate how calculated it was as well as how revolting it was — it literally created an image based on a real writer who really hanged herself with a pair of stockings, and then it told you where to buy the stockings.
And because it was awful, a lot of people wrote about how awful it was, and Vice eventually took it down from the online magazine while (of course) leaving it in the print edition, and they apologized, sort of, in that "sorry if you're mad about the fashion model we posed with a gun to her mouth" way that's so very common and dispiriting.
If I had to guess, I'd guess whoever thought of it will get a promotion.
Yesterday, my Twitter feed filled up with people who were horrified by the spread, but also with some folks arguing that it was the duty of all of us to ignore it and stop talking about it. The magazine, this thinking went, was obviously only were doing it to make people angry, to attract the attention that comes with horror, to get eyeballs that showed up expecting to be disgusted and were not disappointed.
If I had to guess, I'd guess it's probably true. The magazine's semi-apology claiming that this all stems from their attempt to be editorial isn't remotely persuasive; nobody puts a gun in a model's mouth and doesn't know that's going to be a storm. You only do it if you want the storm. They wanted the storm, they got it, they probably counted the clicks and are perfectly happy.
This particular line of thought, the settle-down line, holds that when you know something is bait, when you know it's there to make you angry, you simply ignore it. You see a fashion spread, for instance, where women killing themselves is used as fashion and commerce and smarmy provocation, and you know that if you say anything, they win. So you say nothing. You stay quiet.
There are times when this approach has some appeal to me. When I see on Twitter that someone with an egg avatar and two followers has gotten a writer I know to spend ages arguing back and forth about nothing, there is part of me that thinks, "Why bother? The world is full of awfulness; you will never beat back all of it." We all ignore things all day long; if we didn't, we'd never get anything done.
But Vice asks for credibility. It's trying to position itself as a force in a kind of gonzo journalism for bros. They have a series on HBO. They don't have an egg avatar. They get — and want — attention for the things they do that are serious. This isn't scouring the internet for obscure horrible people doing horrible things in tiny corners and exhausting yourself howling at the moon over it. This is seeing a powerful media brand selling degrading images of violence in an issue they're claiming is all about women in fiction.
It's insidious and frustrating, the idea that the more blatant an effort to offend for attention, the more the offended are to blame if they react. It imposes a sort of duty of measured inertness, as if you owe it to the greater good not to challenge something if the people who dumped it out into the world don't really believe in it but only want a reaction. It rewards anything you believe to be craven exploitation by suggesting that the more you believe it's just craven exploitation, the more you owe it to the world to sit silently, roll your eyes, and be quiet. It makes craven exploitation bulletproof.
It's insidious and frustrating, but (or maybe because) it's true. It's true, I suspect, that Vice probably got what they wanted from this when Jezebel wrote about it. It's true that we may all be following the intended script, including me. It's not that I don't get it; we all get it. And I can't speak for anybody else, but as a writer, I feel sort of bullied either way when things like this happen — bullied into responding as I know I'm expected to, or bullied into sitting quietly while somebody flicks me on the ear. Neither feels good; in fact, both feel awful.
But both feel awful because both are responses to something that feels awful already, which is seeing real and serious issues (I've seen it with race and sexuality and faith; in this case, it's the gross ways in which degradation, violence and fashion are mixed) exploited for attention. And that's still bad, even if it works.
When this happens, when I believe or half-believe that something is only there to make me angry, it feels less like simple click bait and more like taunting. What are you going to do about it? Go ahead. Get mad. You're only going to make it seem important.
Well, so be it. Perhaps there isn't a good way to call out quests for attention without rewarding them in the short term. But in the long term, this spread still happened, and Vice will always be the magazine that published it. And I will always be a writer who predictably wrote about how gross it was. I suppose we'll both have to live with it.
Jess Jiang and Lam Thuy Vo
The rise of curbside recycling programs in the last few decades has meant more glass recycling. But for a long time, many recycling centers didn't have the technology to turn recycled glass into the raw material for new bottles. Instead, recycled glass often wound up being used as a cheap construction material, or even to cover landfills.
Now, with new technology that can better sort glass collected in curbside recycling, more used glass bottles can be turned back into new glass bottles. To see how this works, we went to a glass recycling facility and a bottle factory.
Outside a recycling plant in Jersey City, there are piles and piles of what looks like garbage. But it's actually broken glass, mixed with things like plastic bags, bottle caps, etc. Large items like some cans and plastic jugs have already been sorted out.
Inside the plant, the stuff goes through more sorting. To isolate the glass, a magnet first pulls out metal caps, lids, small tin cans, and other pieces of metal.
Getting the metal out is the easy part. But to turn glass back into bottles, you also have to sort the broken glass by color. (Clear glass is the easiest to turn back into bottles, and the most valuable product of glass recycling.)
When recycling centers relied mainly on human labor, sorting out broken pieces of clear glass from the greens, browns, and blues was a slow and dangerous job, according to Tom Outerbridge, the general manager at the recycling facility.
Today, recycling plants use optical sorting machines. These machines take pictures of all the glass, and then use air jets to blow the clear glass onto a different conveyor belt.
The recycling plant sells the crushed clear glass to bottle manufacturers, like Ardagh Group in Salem, NJ. When we visited, they were making Snapple bottles, mason jars, and Nantucket Nectar bottles. Gary Shears, the general manager, says that they use about 150 tons of clear recycled glass a day.
Here's a bulldozer delivering 25 tons of recycled glass to the bottle factory:
The recycled glass is mixed with soda ash, sand, and limestone, and everything is melted together in furnace heated to 2,700 degrees. (We wanted to take a picture of the furnace, but they warned us that it was so hot that getting close to it could destroy our camera lens. Which makes sense, given that it was hot enough to melt glass.)
Gary says they can never get enough recycled glass. Recycled glass melts at a lower temperature than the raw materials used to make glass from scratch. So more recycled glass means huge energy savings. Right now, his bottles are made of about 20-25 percent recycled glass. Gary said he would use two or three times as much, if there was more recycled glass available.
The bright orange molten glass is weighed and cut into pieces called gobs, which are dropped onto molds to create the mouth of the bottles.
Then a glass blowing machine blows the gobs of molten glass into red hot bottles. Salem's newer machines can make about 400 bottles a minute.
The Salem glass factory ships about 3 million Snapple bottles a day, six days a week.
Good morning, here are our early stories:
And here are more early headlines:
Federal Reserve Policymakers To Release Economic Forecast Today. (Bloomberg)
Thousands Of Brazilian Protesters Turn Out Again In Sao Paulo. (AP)
Al Qaida Militants Attack U.N. Compound In Somalia. (Los Angeles Times)
UN Report: More Than 45 Million Refugees In 2012, An "Unseen Level". (Guardian)
Heavy Flooding In France Kills 1, Closes Lourdes To Religious Pilgrims. (France24)
American Medical Association Declares Obesity A Disease. (USA Today)
Danielle Bradbery Crowned Winner Of "The Voice". (People)
Man Pleads Guilty To Smuggling Snakes On A Plane. (KXAS)
The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- Kim Jong Un gave top officials in North Korea copies of Adolf Hitler's autobiography, Mein Kampf, as gifts on his birthday last January, according to a report in New Focus International, a newspaper written largely by North Korean defectors. It seems the book was intended to promote a study of Hitler's economic reforms, and was not necessarily meant as an endorsement of Nazism. New Focus International, which was founded by a former North Korean poet laureate, cites "a DPRK official in China," who told the paper that Kim admired the way Hitler reformed Germany's economy and military after the ravages of the first World War. If the reports are true, North Korea isn't the only place Mein Kampf has found an unlikely readership — Businessweek said last year that the book had become a bestseller in India.
- VICE has apologized for its "Last Words" fashion spread depicting the suicides of female authors such as Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf. The magazine removed the post from its website, and issued a statement from the editors: "The fashion spreads in VICE magazine are always unconventional and approached with an art editorial point-of-view rather than a typical fashion photo-editorial one. Our main goal is to create artful images, with the fashion message following, rather than leading. 'Last Words' was created in this tradition and focused on the demise of a set of writers whose lives we very much wish weren't cut tragically short, especially at their own hands. We will no longer display 'Last Words' on our website and apologize to anyone who was hurt or offended."
- For The New Yorker, Thomas Beller imagines which historical writers would have been good on Twitter: "Gertrude Stein, with her gnomish, arty, aphoristic tendencies, would seem to be ideal. 'There is no there there' may be one of the great proto-tweets."
- Author, "New Journalism" icon and wearer of white suits Tom Wolfe is said to be working on a book called The Kingdom of Speech. According to Publisher's Marketplace, the book is "a nonfiction account of scholarship proposing that humans are divided from animals by their power of speech." Wolfe has hinted at the idea before, notably in a 2006 lecture called "The Human Beast." He said, "Speech gave the beast its first ability to ask questions, and undoubtedly one of the first expressed his sudden but insatiable anxiety as to how he got here and what this agonizing struggle called life is all about. To this day, the beast needs, can't live without, some explanation as the basis of whatever status he may think he possesses. For that reason, extraordinary individuals have been able to change history with their words alone, without the assistance of followers, money, or politicians."
- For The New Republic, Molly Fischer considers the folly of marathon reading: "Especially at 3:50 a.m., a marathon reading can look a lot like a pious exercise [in] high-culture martyrdom — behold, Great Books instead of text messages! But ... the spirit of the marathon reading is more elusive."