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OPINION: Is it time to quit Facebook?

Each time we use Facebook, we perform labor, which is to say that we create value. There is no material product,but what we do produces cultural knowledge, shapes opinion and ultimately directs the flow of capital. Facebook has taken our relationships with one another and monetized it, turning our interactions into advertising opportunities. It relies on us to provide content, in the form of videos we shoot, articles we like, screeds we write, places where we check in and comments we post. Without our labor, it has no value; nor would it make any money (hence why Facebook includes the number of new and active users in each quarterly report). Which leads to the great deception of Web 2.0: We aren’t Facebook’s clients; corporations are. 

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Is it time to quit Facebook? Leave your comments below.

China aims to win Uighur ‘hearts and minds’ with concubine cartoon

China’s efforts to quell unrest among its predominantly Muslim ethnic Uighurs have included cracking down on both beards and traditional snacks, forcing mosques to display flags and charging a prominent economics professor with separatism— a crime punishable by death. Now Beijing is trying something more whimsical — a TV cartoonabout a disputed historical figure called the “Fragrant Concubine” in Chinese, or “Iparhan” in the Uighur language.
The quasi-historical figure of Iparhan was a Uighur noble who became a consort of an emperor during the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty in the late 1700s. The point of the animated program, according to Chinese media, is to celebrate a marriage of cultures.
But rights activists say the soon-to-be-released “Princess Fragrant”cartoon series — a joint venture between local authorities in the Uighurs’ native region of Xinjiang in western China and a production company based in the faraway southeastern metropolis of Shenzhen — will only further anger the embattled Uighurs, many of who say Beijing’s policies and a growing influx of China’s majority ethnic Han people into the region threaten their livelihood and culture.

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Photo: 天香公主 / Youku

China aims to win Uighur ‘hearts and minds’ with concubine cartoon

China’s efforts to quell unrest among its predominantly Muslim ethnic Uighurs have included cracking down on both beards and traditional snacksforcing mosques to display flags and charging a prominent economics professor with separatism— a crime punishable by death. Now Beijing is trying something more whimsical — a TV cartoonabout a disputed historical figure called the “Fragrant Concubine” in Chinese, or “Iparhan” in the Uighur language.

The quasi-historical figure of Iparhan was a Uighur noble who became a consort of an emperor during the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty in the late 1700s. The point of the animated program, according to Chinese media, is to celebrate a marriage of cultures.

But rights activists say the soon-to-be-released “Princess Fragrant”cartoon series — a joint venture between local authorities in the Uighurs’ native region of Xinjiang in western China and a production company based in the faraway southeastern metropolis of Shenzhen — will only further anger the embattled Uighurs, many of who say Beijing’s policies and a growing influx of China’s majority ethnic Han people into the region threaten their livelihood and culture.

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Photo: 天香公主 / Youku

New-school riders follow in tracks of the American hobo

BRITT, Iowa — Veteran hobo Gerard “Frog” Fortin hopped his first freight train in 1970 in Florida, riding an open-topped gondola car through the night to New Orleans. It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair.
“I remember that entire night. I didn’t fall asleep because I was just so mesmerized by the wide-open skies and the stars shining in on me. I was just so thrilled. I just felt that exhilarated. That wanderlust in me was finally filled,” he recalled, beaming at the memory. “It was total and absolute freedom.”
After 31 years traveling the United States and working as an itinerant laborer, cook and sometime oil rig worker in the Gulf of Mexico, Fortin, 64, joined a growing number of aging hobos who have retired and settled down.

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Photo: Eli Hiller

New-school riders follow in tracks of the American hobo

BRITT, Iowa — Veteran hobo Gerard “Frog” Fortin hopped his first freight train in 1970 in Florida, riding an open-topped gondola car through the night to New Orleans. It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair.

“I remember that entire night. I didn’t fall asleep because I was just so mesmerized by the wide-open skies and the stars shining in on me. I was just so thrilled. I just felt that exhilarated. That wanderlust in me was finally filled,” he recalled, beaming at the memory. “It was total and absolute freedom.”

After 31 years traveling the United States and working as an itinerant laborer, cook and sometime oil rig worker in the Gulf of Mexico, Fortin, 64, joined a growing number of aging hobos who have retired and settled down.

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Photo: Eli Hiller

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A stroke of colossal misfortune (and a giant asteroid) may have killed dinosaurs 66 million years ago

Scientists say they have solved one of the greatest riddles of paleontology: why dinosaurs went extinct 66 million years ago. A colossal stroke of bad luck — not just a giant asteroid — may have played a major role in the eradication of the creatures, according to a study published Monday in the journal Biological Reviews.

Read more on Al Jazeera America

A stroke of colossal misfortune (and a giant asteroid) may have killed dinosaurs 66 million years ago

Scientists say they have solved one of the greatest riddles of paleontology: why dinosaurs went extinct 66 million years ago. A colossal stroke of bad luck — not just a giant asteroid — may have played a major role in the eradication of the creatures, according to a study published Monday in the journal Biological Reviews.

Read more on Al Jazeera America

Tibetan medicine highlights compassion in modern health care

NEW YORK — The 10 minutes I spent with Dr. Choeying Phuntsok, a stolid, middle-aged practitioner of Tibetan medicine in New York, were marked by an uncommon degree of eye contact and warmth. It was a short, preliminary consultation, just enough for him to take the Tibetan equivalent of my vitals. But it lasted about as long as a head-to-toe check-up at my regular doctor’s office.
He held my left wrist, then my right, listening to the “shape” and frequency of my pulse through his fingers, eyes clamped in concentration. He examined my tongue and inquired about digestion and menstruation, but also my cultural background and stress levels. His preliminary diagnosis: Low hemoglobin levels and pressure on my heart and lungs.

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Photo: E. Tammy Kim/Al Jazeera America 

Tibetan medicine highlights compassion in modern health care

NEW YORK — The 10 minutes I spent with Dr. Choeying Phuntsok, a stolid, middle-aged practitioner of Tibetan medicine in New York, were marked by an uncommon degree of eye contact and warmth. It was a short, preliminary consultation, just enough for him to take the Tibetan equivalent of my vitals. But it lasted about as long as a head-to-toe check-up at my regular doctor’s office.

He held my left wrist, then my right, listening to the “shape” and frequency of my pulse through his fingers, eyes clamped in concentration. He examined my tongue and inquired about digestion and menstruation, but also my cultural background and stress levels. His preliminary diagnosis: Low hemoglobin levels and pressure on my heart and lungs.

Continue reading.

Photo: E. Tammy Kim/Al Jazeera America