Nobody In China Wants Tibetan Mastiffs Anymore

Nobody In China Wants Tibetan Mastiffs Anymore

Last year, a Tibetan mastiff reportedly sold to a Chinese businessman for $2 million. Now, the New York Times reports, surplus mastiffs are being sold to slaughterhouses for $5 each.

Earlier this year, Beijing animal rights activists stopped a truck carrying more than 20 Tibetan mastiffs—including one named Nibble—and 150 other dogs to a slaughterhouse, the Times reports:

The rescuers who saved Nibble and the others from an ignominious fate said the conditions of the transport were appalling. Several of the mastiffs had broken limbs, and they had not been given food or water for three days. By the time the dogs were released from their cages — the volunteers eventually paid the driver for their freedom — more than a third of them were dead.

“Fads are a huge driving force in China’s luxury market,” Liz Flora, editor-in-chief of marketing research company Jing Daily, told the Times. “Han Chineses consumers have been willing to pay a premium for anything associated with the romanticism of Tibet.”

About half of Tibet’s 95 breeders have folded since the height of the craze, in 2013. (In August of that year, a zoo in the eastern Chinese city of Luohe was caught trying to pass off a particularly large mastiff as a lion.) Keeping the dogs fed properly costs $50-60 a day, one veteran breeder named Gombo told the Times. “If I had other opportunities, I’d quit this business,” he said.

Photo credit: Shutterstock. Contact the author of this post: brendan.oconnor@gawker.com.

The Gawker Review Weekend Reading List [4.18.15]

The Gawker Review Weekend Reading List [4.18.15]

Hillary Clinton has a date with history. It was all but inevitable: The former Secretary of State officially announced her candidacy for president this week. Other hopefuls include Republican senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio. I’m stating the obvious here: but Cruz, Paul, and Biggest Idiot™ don’t have a real shot at winning; it will, however, be entertaining to watch them fumble all the way to wherever it is losers go when they don’t win presidential elections.

“Two Confessions” by Andrew Cohen

What gets far less notice, however, is how wrongful convictions stay that way, even after evidence of injustice appears to bubble to the surface. This is why the already well-chronicled saga of Davontae Sanford, a 14-year-old boy convicted of a 2007 quadruple murder in Michigan, is worth following closely again as it enters its latest and most bizarre phase.

Later today, Sanford’s lawyers will ask a Michigan judge to grant their client a new trial based on evidence and arguments that state judges and county prosecutors have never before addressed. The defense team essentially will be asking Michigan’s criminal justice system to finally make a choice between two confessions to the same crime; one by a boy whose story was contradicted by independent evidence, the other by a professional killer who accurately told the police where to find the murder weapon.

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/04/14/two...

“Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” by Choire Sicha

Charming Jon Ronson has always made me think of a Kurt Vonnegut character, and not just because his name calls to mind the maddening refrain, from “Slaughterhouse-Five,” of “My name is Yon Yonson.” Vonnegut ranks among the most moral of male novelists writing in English. His work was a life-or-death struggle to make sense of our stupid, dreadful, hilarious world. It has fallen to Ronson to carry Vonnegut’s project from fiction to reality.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/19/boo...

“Teach and Frisk” by Leighton Woodhouse

Yet the man running this class, a forty-two-year-old former public interest lawyer named Vitaly, may be on the brink of being fired. For the last four years, he has refused to conduct mandatory in-class weapons searches of his students—which the district argues keeps classrooms safe—because he believes that the policy is unethical and would destroy everything that makes his classroom successful.

http://www.theawl.com/2015/04/teach-...

“Blue Chips: An Oral History of Shaq, Penny, and the Orlando Magic’s Lost NBA Dynasty” by Jonathan Abrams

The Shaq and Penny Magic are in an unfortunate class similar to the ’70s Blazers, ’80s Rockets, or 2000s Kings — a story of unfulfilled potential and a dynasty that never was. “We were just having so much fun playing the game,” Scott said. “We weren’t really thinking about making history or understanding how good we really could be. All that stuff was happening so fast.”

Penny and Shaq. Shaq and Penny. For a brief time — they played only three seasons together — most of the NBA believed no one could stop them.

http://grantland.com/1990s-orlando-...

“The Myth of Police Reform” by Ta-Nehisi Coates

African Americans, for most of our history, have lived under the power of the criminal-justice system, not its authority. The dominant feature in the relationship between African Americans and their country is plunder, and plunder has made police authority an impossibility, and police power a necessity. The skepticism of Officer Darren Wilson’s account in the shooting of Michael Brown, for instance, emerges out of lack of police authority—which is to say it comes from a belief that the police are as likely to lie as any other citizen. When African American parents give their children “The Talk,” they do not urge them to make no sudden movements in the presence of police out of a profound respect for the democratic ideal, but out of the knowledge that police can, and will, kill them.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archi...

“Susan Miller, Your Internet BFF” by Devon Maloney

Much has been made over the past few years of the astrologer’s meteoric rise to fame, thanks to (among other things) her ardent fashion-world coterie and all the press that comes with it. Her horoscopes — not only those notoriously prolific monthly essays for her own website, AstrologyZone.com, but now also for 10 other international fashion magazines, from Elle to Vogue Japan — offer intimate, personalized readings while still pulling millions of eyeballs. At this point, her chatty, practical delivery is just as important as the forecasts themselves. The resulting readership is an often-rabid crowd that boasts VIPs like Gloria Vanderbilt, Rihanna stylist Adam Selman, and even will.i.am.

http://www.theverge.com/2015/4/15/8400...

[Image via Getty]

Report: Tampa Cops Targeting Black Cyclists

Report: Tampa Cops Targeting Black Cyclists

After conducting an analysis of more than 10,000 bicycle tickets issued by the Tampa police over the past 12 years, the Tampa Bay Times has found that 79 percent of those ticketed are black. Blacks make up about a quarter of the city’s population, the Times reports.

According to the Times, Tampa police have written 2,504 bike tickets—more than Jacksonville, Miami, St. Petersburg, and Orlando combined—in the past three years:

Tampa police are targeting poor, black neighborhoods with obscure subsections of a Florida statute that outlaws things most people have tried on a bike, like riding with no light or carrying a friend on the handlebars.

Officers use these minor violations as an excuse to stop, question and search almost anyone on wheels. The department doesn’t just condone these stops, it encourages them, pushing officers who patrol high-crime neighborhoods to do as many as possible.

Bikes, Tampa Police Chief Jane Cantor said in a statement, have “become the most common mode of transportation for criminals.”

“This is not a coincidence. Many individuals receiving bike citations are involved in criminal activity,” the statement reads.

However, the paper found that only 20 percent of those adults ticketed in 2014 were arrested; moreover, those arrests were “almost always for a small amount of drugs or a misdemeanor like trespassing.”

“Florida is one of the leaders in bicycle and pedestrian fatalities and Tampa is not immune to that,” Cantor’s statement reads. “Our goal is to make the roads safer for everyone.”

Image via Shutterstock. Contact the author of this post: brendan.oconnor@gawker.com.

It’s spring cleaning time. Even if you have the urge to clean your home from top to bottom, perhaps your natural laziness is keeping you from getting started. No worries, here are ten MacGyver-ish ways to freshen your home with minimal effort.

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Leaked Emails: Ben Affleck Suppressed Family's Slave-Owning Past

As a guest on PBS genealogy program Finding Your Roots, Ben Affleck discovered one of his ancestors owned slaves and asked producers suppress that fact, hacked Sony emails uploaded by WikiLeaks this week show.

The censorship—an apparent violation of PBS rules—is revealed in a July 2014 email thread between Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton and Finding Your Roots host Henry Louis Gates Jr. In it, the two discuss the unusual request of an unnamed “megastar” later referred to as “Batman.”

“[C]onfidentially, for the first time, one of our guests has asked us to edit out something about one of his ancestors—the fact that he owned slaves,” Gates writes to Lynton. “We’ve never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found. He’s a megastar. What do we do?”

In his reply, Lynton recommends removing the material as long as “no one [else] knows,” before writing “all things being equal I would definitely take it out.”

Eventually, Gates acknowledges that fulfilling the request “would be a violation of PBS rules, actually, even for Batman” and “would embarrass him and compromise our integrity,” concluding, “Once we open the door to censorship, we lose control of the brand.”

Nonetheless, the episode aired without the information.

In a statement released by Gates on Friday, the Harvard professor denied removing the material at Affleck’s request, saying it was ignored so as to focus on “the most interesting aspects of his ancestry”:

We are very grateful to all of our guests for allowing us into their personal lives and have told hundreds of stories in this series including many about slave ancestors—never shying away from chapters of a family’s past that might be unpleasant. Ultimately, I maintain editorial control on all of my projects and, with my producers, decide what will make for the most compelling program.

In a parallel statement, PBS praised Gates’ “editorial integrity” and repeated his claim that “he and his producers made an independent editorial judgment to choose the most compelling narrative.”

On Thursday, WikiLeaks unveiled a searchable archive of the complete Sony hack, making it easier than ever to browse the company’s inconvenient executive emails.

[ Image via AP Images//h/t NY Daily News]

If you didn’t see the before pictures you’d probably never guess that the rustic apothecary chest on the right was actually made from a basic IKEA cubby console. What a transformation.

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At Least 33 Dead in Afghanistan Suicide Bombing

A suicide bombing in Jalalabad on Saturday killed at least 33 people and wounded another 105, the Associated Press reports. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that the Islamic State had taken responsibility.

According to the New York Times, the attack took place as a crowd of people waiting to collect their pay at a branch of the Kabul Bank. Police said all the victims were civilians.

This was only the second of three bombs that exploded in Jalalabad on Saturday morning, the Times reports. The first—a planted bomb, not a suicide attacker—detonated at a religious shrine, wounding two; the third was found by police in a motorcycle outside a branch of the Central Bank of Afghanistan. It was detonated under controlled conditions.

The BBC reports that a spokesman claiming to represent ISIS said the group had perpetrated the attack, although the British news agency was very careful to distance itself from the claim:

Shahidullah Shahid, who claims to be a spokesman for Islamic State (IS) in Afghanistan, said the group was behind the attack on the bank.

He also named a man who he said was the attacker. The BBC cannot confirm either claim. If confirmed, it would be Islamic State’s first major attack in Afghanistan.

Mr Shahid was a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban until he was fired for pledging allegiance to IS last year.

The Taliban, meanwhile, has disavowed the attacks, denying their involvement in three different languages, the Times reports. “On ISIS we don’t comment,” the Taliban spokesman for eastern Afghanistan, Zabiullah Mujahid, told the paper.

“We haven’t commented on them in the past and we will not say anything now. We are responsible for the war in this country, and that is all we can comment and give views on.”

The Taliban would investigate the attack, Mujahid said: “Then I will comment and say who was behind it.”

Photo credit: AP Images. Contact the author of this post: brendan.oconnor@gawker.com.

Today on Adorama, you can pick up the X version of your favorite headphones for just $109 after a $20 rebate. That's a whopping $60 less than usual, and the best price we've ever seen. If you're not familiar with the these semi-legendary cans, readers voted them in as their favorite pair of headphones on Kinja Co-Op, they finished second in a Lifehacker Hive Five , and Lifehacker editorial named them their mid-range pick for best headphones . [Audio Technica ATH-M50x Headphones, $109 after $20 rebate]

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Is There Signal in the fMRI Noise?

A new paper in Neuroimage suggests that methods for removing head motion and physiological noise from fMRI data might be inadvertently excluding real signal as well. The authors, Molly G. Bright and Kevin Murphy of Cardiff, studied the technique called nuisance regression. It's a popular approach for removing fMRI noise. Noise reduction is important because factors such as head movement, the heart beat, and breathing, can contaminate the fMRI signal and lead to biased results. Nuisance regres

Most of us—no matter how many time-saving techniques we employ—don’t have enough time to waste. But productivity comes at a cost: having that down time is extremely beneficial. We fight against boredom, distraction, and procrastination all the time, but that doesn’t mean you should get rid of them completely.

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