Facebooks newest news feed: good for friends, bad for publishers

Changes to the algorithm mean your friends posts will be prioritized, and publishers that rely on Facebook traffic will be gnashing their teeth

To paraphrase Archimedes, give me an algorithm, and I can move the world.

Facebook announced yet more changes to its news feed algorithm on Wednesday, the secret sauce that determines whose posts show up on your Facebook page, and whose remain unseen.

The winners: you and your friends, whose posts will receive more exposure than they have in the recent past.

The losers: publishers, who rely increasingly on Facebook to send traffic to their sites.

This is not the first time Facebook has tweaked its algorithms, which invariably results in agonized cries and the gnashing of teeth from those negatively affected. In April, after Facebook announced plans to move content posted by friends higher in the feed, traffic to some publishers sites plummeted by 25%, according to a report in Digiday.

Now Facebook is going further with that strategy, based on feedback from readers who say they would rather hear about grandmas recipe for fried pickles or see pictures of their nephews bar mitzvah than the fallout from Brexit or Donald Trumps latest gaffe.

In other words, Facebook is shifting back toward what it was originally designed to do before it stumbled into the news distribution business.

Joshua Benton, director of Harvards Nieman Journalism Lab, sees this as an incremental change, a continuation of policies Facebook has been pursuing for some time.

Its another step in the line of decisions Facebook has made centering around increasing user loyalty and keeping them on site, he says. Publishers need to recognize that Facebooks incentives are different than theirs. Its another sign that publications will have to rely more on direct reader revenue and less on advertising revenue.

Benton doesnt see publishers making radical changes in how they work with Facebook, besides having their social media editors spend less time maintaining publications Facebook pages and more time getting readers to share articles.

But they may also have to up their analytics game if they wish to avoid being crushed like a bug, says Jay Rosen, a journalism professor for NYU and author of the Press Think blog.

Its a case of the weak trying to figure out the strong, he says. Companies with great analytics tend to know a bit more about what Facebook is doing. I dont think BuzzFeed is wondering whats going on with its Facebook news feed. Other publishers who dont have very good analytics probably feel a little helpless.

On the other hand, the fact that Facebook admitted that internal values drive its news feed instead of impartial algorithms largely out of its control, as it has claimed in the past is a step in the right direction, Rosen says.

But its not just publishers who will be affected. The changes will also impact Facebook pages launched by businesses who hope to use the social network. Overall, we anticipate that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages, explained Facebooks blogpost.

The specific impact on your Pages distribution and other metrics may vary depending on the composition of your audience. For example, if a lot of your referral traffic is the result of people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it, there will be less of an impact than if the majority of your traffic comes directly through Page posts.

These changes make life even harder for the millions of brands and small businesses that have made Facebook pages one of their primary promotional tools, says Kari DePhillips, founder of The Content Factory, a social media marketing agency.

Brands already have to pay to play on Facebook, she says. If you have 10,000 Likes, a very small fraction ever see your updates, unless they specifically opt in to be alerted whenever you make a post and that rarely happens. So to reach the audience that has taken the initiative to Like your page, you already have to pay for advertising. This underscores that even more.

Ultimately, its another sign that when you sign a deal with the devil, eventually youre going to get burned.

Facebook has the power to send more or less traffic to publishers whenever it wants to, says Benton. They control the algorithm, whereas we have only a dim insight into it. They get to do what they want.

Its good to be the largest hoarder of content on the internet.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jun/29/facebook-news-feed-algorithm-change-traffic-publishing

Boris Berian earns hero status off the track by winning run-in with Nike

The maverick 800m runner Boris Berian has forced Nike to back down in a contract dispute, leaving him free to compete at the US track and field Olympic trials

Athletics is a sport in desperate need of fresh heroes and the maverick American Boris Berian has a better chance than most of becoming one. Two years ago he was a college dropout, flipping burgers in McDonalds and sleeping on his friends couch. Now he is one of the fastest 800m runners in the world who is blessed with the looks of a lead in a post-apocalypse film, all tattooed, brooding and raw. But that is not the only reason why the 23-year-old has people talking. His willingness to face down Nike has, too.

In US track and field, sports brandsare not just kings; they are emperors. At a US meeting it is usual for athletes to be introduced second after the name of their sponsor has been announced. So a big name will be shaking off their nerves and excess adrenaline, when the announcer will declare Running for the Nike Oregon Project, Mo Farah!

That is just the way it is. But when Berian won the world indoor 800m title in March he made a surprise confession: he had been unable to get an official sponsor since ending his contract with Nike in December 2015.

Behind the scenes, though, it was more complicated. New Balance had offered Berian a three-year deal worth $125,000 a year but legally Nike had six months to match it. Which it did but with significant financial reductions if Berian got injured or underperformed.

Most athletes would have bitten their lips and moved on. After all, what chance would they have against a corporate behemoth? Berian, however, threw his chips in with New Balance and then further rubbed Nikes nose in them by winning the Diamond League Prefontaine Classic in Eugene in May, just up the road from the companys headquarters in Beaverton.

Nikes response was immediate: it went down the legal route. A judge quickly issued a temporary ban on Berian competing in New Balance gear which left his hopes of running at this weeks US trials in Eugene dangling by the thinnest of shoelaces.

Nike makes a popular training shoe called Free. That, ironically, was one thing that Berian was not allowed to be. And so he fought back. First he published his New Balance contract on the website Letsrun.com. Then he adroitly enlisted the support of social media and set up a crowdfunded campaign to fund his legal defence, which his agent Hawi Keflezighi likened to David against Goliath.

It helped, too, that senior figures at other sportswear brands such as Oiselle and Brooks stated that what Nike called standard operation procedure was not the case. As Jesse Williams, the sports marketing manager for Brooks, put it: In 12 years that I have been at Brooks, we have not signed any athletes to a contract with reductions.

High-profile rebellions by athletes are nothing new. They date back at least 110 years to when Peter OConnor, an ardent Irish nationalist from Waterford who was forced to compete for Britain in the 1906 Olympics, made his feelings clear after finishing second in the long jump. Instead of standing on the podium he clambered up the pole on which a Union flag was hoisted and unfurled a large green and gold flag bearing the words Erin Go Bragh (Ireland forever).

Then there were Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City punching their black-gloved fists toward the sky to show their support for the Black Panthers. And before London 2012 there were those athletes who railed against Rule40, which forbids athletes from advertising their personal sponsors if they are not also official Olympic partners.

This, though, was something else: a young athlete taking on a corporate giant. The case was due in court on Wednesday, two days before the start of the US Olympic trials. But late last week something remarkable happened. Nike backed down, saying it wanted to eliminate this distraction for Berian.

The reasons for its late conversion to altruism are not clear. One US analyst claimed that Nike tends to over-react when it sees competition and in the US New Balance is on the march. Another said Nike had gone in strong on Berian to discourage other athletes in its stable from doing the same. Whatever the truth, Nikes response turned what should have been a minor ripple into a whirlpool. And it could well bubble along until Rio. For if Berian does make the US Olympic team, as he should given that he has run faster this year and last than Kenyas David Rudisha, the Olympic champion, he will have to wear Nike as it is the official sponsor. And you can bet he will be asked about it.

Yet his decision to fight will have lasting repercussions. It means athletes now have a better understanding of what their rivals earn per year, and know that unlike Nike most companies will not reduce earnings if they fail to meet certain competitive objectives. They know their potential bonuses, too. Berian, for instance, revealed he was due to get another $150,000 if he won Olympic gold. And that is not beyond the bounds of possibility. Berian was born and lived at altitude, like the top Kenyans and Ethiopians, and was good enough to run 46 seconds for 400m while at high school. He could yet be an All-American hero on the track as well as off it.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2016/jun/26/nike-boris-berian-us-athletics

‘We thought this would be the end of us’: the raid on Entebbe, 40 years on

It was the most daring rescue mission of a generation, with a cast that included three future prime ministers, Idi Amin and more than 100 hostages. How did it change modern Israel? The men and women who were there look back

On 4 July 1976, the day the US celebrated its 200th birthday, an Israeli expat took a phone call that would change his life. A student in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he went by the name Ben Nitay, an Americanised shortening of the original, the better to fit into the land where he hoped to forge a business career and build a life. On the phone was his younger brother, calling with grave news. It concerned their older brother Yonatan, or Yoni. As children, they had idolised him; he was the one who led their games, who, they felt, had raised them. Then 30 years old, ruggedly handsome and newly installed as the head of Israels elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit, Yoni had, in the early hours of that day, led a raid to rescue more than 100 Israeli hostages held at Entebbe, Uganda. Word had just come that the operation had been an astonishing success and the hostages were free. But the leader on the ground Yoni had been killed in action. Their brother was dead.

And so, while the people around him watched marching bands and held street parties to mark Americas bicentennial, and while the world marvelled at the sheer audacity of a military raid that defied all odds, Ben Nitay born Binyamin Netanyahu made the seven-hour drive to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where his father was teaching. The 26-year-old was determined to break the news to his parents himself.

Yoni
Yoni Netanyahu. Photograph: Wikipedia

I walked up the path leading to their house which had a big window in the front, he recalls 40 years later, sitting in the office of the Israeli prime minister which has been his, on and off, for 10 of the last 20 years. I could see my father pacing back and forth. And all of a sudden he turned his head and saw me. He had a look of surprise, but he immediately understood and let out a sharp cry. And then I walked in. Netanyahu pauses as he relives the moment. This was even harder than Yonis death: telling my father and mother.

The family flew in virtual silence from the US to Israel for the funeral of the son and brother who had already been garlanded as a military hero and was now about to enter the national mythology. The Netanyahu name would take its place in the Israeli pantheon and, in the process, open up a path that would take young Binyamin to the top of Israeli politics a path that began in Entebbe.

The career of Netanyahu is the most visible legacy of that July day four decades ago, but the impact of Entebbe would be felt in countless other ways, too. With its extraordinary cast of characters including a trio of future Israeli prime ministers as well as the gargantuan, volatile Ugandan dictator Idi Amin Entebbe would alter the calculus in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, changing the way Israel saw itself and was seen by others. It would come to seem a high watermark in global attitudes to the country, perhaps the last time Israel was viewed with admiration rather than suspicion or hostility. Entebbe would become a byword for military daring, the subject of three blockbuster movies, taught and studied by armies around the world including by the architects of the raid that captured and killed Osama bin Laden. A raid that lasted a total of 99 minutes would live on for decades.

***

It began on Sunday 27 June with a routine Air France flight from Tel Aviv to Paris, carrying 247 passengers and 12 crew. The plane made a planned stop in Athens, but within a few minutes of takeoff from Greece, trouble struck. We heard shouting coming from the cabin, the planes captain, Michel Bacos, now 92, recalls. He sent his chief engineer to find out what was going on. He opened the cockpit door and found himself face to face with Wilfried Bse, armed with a revolver and a hand grenade.

Wilfried
Hijacker Wilfried Bse. Photograph: AP

Bse and his female comrade were part of a German faction known as Revolutionary Cells, or RZ, one of several urban guerrilla groups active in the era of the Baader-Meinhof gang. They had teamed up with two members of a breakaway faction of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Together, the four had boarded flight 139 at Athens, where security was notoriously lax. Bse shoved his way into the cockpit, threw out the co-pilot and, grabbing the microphone, announced that the plane would now be called Haifa 1, taking its name from the city in the north of the country the passengers called Israel and the hijackers called Palestine. Their demand was the release of 53 prisoners held in five different countries.

Even before they heard the announcement, in a heavy German accent, some of the passengers knew something was up. At the back of the plane, Sara Davidson a nervous flyer anyway had anxiously clocked the air stewardess emerging from the first class cabin, her face a ghostly white. This was meant to be the holiday of a lifetime, a trip to America to celebrate the bar mitzvah of her 13-year-old son Benny. But now Sara turned to her husband, a navigator with the Israeli air force, and told him she feared theyd been hijacked.

It wasnt such an outlandish thought. At that time, hijackings were frequent, a staple of nightly news bulletins. In 1972, there was one hijacking a month. For Palestinians, they had been a favoured tactic since the late 1960s, initially targeting jets of the Israeli national airline, El Al. Besides the ritual demands for the release of prisoners, hijackings were seen as a swift and powerful way to win publicity for what was then the emerging cause of Palestinian independence. Still, Saras husband laughed off her suggestion: You and your frightening ideas. Everything is OK. A minute later it was clear who was right.

Following Bses orders, Bacos flew the plane to Benghazi, Libya. He warned me not to break the landing gear: wed need to be able to take off again.

The Libyan stop was brief, just long enough for a British-born woman, Patricia Martel, to pretend she was having a miscarriage and get herself released from the plane. She had emigrated to Israel a few years earlier and was newly married; her mother had just died and she was en route to Manchester to visit her father. Not only was the miscarriage a fake, Martel wasnt even pregnant. But she was a nurse and a good actor.

Bacos was ordered to take off again. He asked Bse where: He says, Its none of your business.

The plane flew for hours, long enough for Benny to lie on the floor and sleep. So many hours we flew and flew, and we didnt know where to, Sara Davidson told me. The passengers tried to guess. Was their destination Siberia? China?

Eventually the plane touched down. Davidson and the others were allowed to open the window shutters and there on the tarmac stood the instantly recognisable, internationally notorious figure of Idi Amin, in camouflage battle fatigues. Only then did they realise that they were in Uganda. They were escorted off the plane and into the old terminal building of Entebbe airport.

They were no longer passengers. Now they were hostages.

***

Back in Israel, military planners were trying to assemble what they knew which was not much. At his desk in military intelligence sat the officer in charge of planning for missions of this kind, the former elite commando, and future prime minister, Ehud Barak. He had direct experience of rescue operations but this situation was infinitely more complex, chiefly because of the location.

The military brass gathered in a Tel Aviv conference room, adorned by an enormous globe. One general began turning it slowly before asking a colleague, Are you really sure you know where Entebbe is? As Barak told me recently in his office in Tel Aviv, We were in total blindness.

They worked through the night, assembling fragments of information. In the preceding years, Israel had forged alliances with several African states, Uganda among them. Amin himself had received military training from the Israelis; fighting for space among the medals on his enormous chest were the wings of the Israeli air force.

Ugandan
Idi Amin talks to hostages. Photograph: AP

The officers who had trained Amin came in to be debriefed. They offered the nugget that he coveted the Nobel peace prize. Someone attempted to pass the message to Kampala that if Amin brokered a peaceful resolution of the crisis, the Nobel might be his. Meanwhile, an engineer at an Israeli company that had tendered to build the new terminal at Entebbe airport came forward: he happened to have, stashed in his desk drawer, the plans of the old building in which the passengers were now held hostage. Barak and his team soon spread out the blueprints, studying the target.

Originally, they imagined their sole adversary would be the four hijackers (information on whom had been helpfully provided by Martel, the woman who had faked a miscarriage). But it was now clear Entebbe had not been chosen by accident: Amin and his regime were colluding with the hijackers. Israels plans adjusted accordingly.

Baraks team flirted with the idea of parachuting Israeli Navy SEALs into Lake Victoria: they could make the subsequent journey on rubber dinghies. We even thought about taking a speedboat from neighbouring Kenya, Barak told me, but Mossad, Israels intelligence agency, warned that the Kenyans, while prepared to cooperate tacitly, would not agree to such explicit participation.

Round and round they went. Barak was clear that if they could not come up with good military options, then the Israeli government despite its professed policy of no talking to terrorists would be forced to negotiate for the hostages release.

For the Davidsons and the others, every minute felt like a week, every day like a lifetime. Herded together and frightened, speaking only in whispers, they were watched over at gunpoint. And then, on the fifth day, came the separation.

The hijackers, in a plan agreed with Amin, divided Israelis from non-Israelis, gathering the former in the transit hall, the latter elsewhere. The non-Israeli group were soon released and flown to Paris. But included in the group kept behind were some Jews who were not Israeli. There were two couples, religious Jews, and they had no Israeli passports, Davidson recalls. They were crying and shouting that they are not Israelis it didnt help them. The [hijackers] just pushed them to the other room, which we called the Israeli room. Some remembered this process differently, but to Sara and others, it seemed as if the hijackers were dividing people not by citizenship, but by ethnicity. The fact that these orders were issued in German accents stirred a painful memory.

Selection, Sara Davidson says now, using the word deployed by the Nazis at the death camps, as they divided those who would live from those who would die. Among the hostages were Holocaust survivors, people with numbers on their hands, as Davidson puts it. And here they were, being selected by a German woman and a German man. It was very frightening.

Now it was just 94 hostages and a dozen crew. Bacos and his team were offered freedom, but refused it: they felt it was their duty to stay with their passengers. Time slowed to a crawl. The adults tried to distract the children with bottle tops and cigarette cartons turned into toys; theyd also work shifts, cleaning up or stretching out the food to make it last, and assembling a library of the books they had imagined reading on the flight. They slept an hour or two, lights on all night, a lot of mosquitoes and flies, Davidson says. The smell was terrible. No clothes to change into. No water.

As for Benny, I was living on an hour-by-hour basis, finding friends, trying to read, to play, to sleep. You get used to being a hostage. As a 13-year-old, you simply adjust. His greatest horror were the daily visits of Amin and his entourage, when the dictator would address the hostages. Sometimes posing as their protector, sometimes as a mediator, he would deliver long monologues, never allowing the hostages to speak. His sheer size was terrifying to the children. Benny would cower at the back, looking at Amins son and wife and aides. Theyre all in the shade when youre standing close to Idi Amin: hes simply gigantic.

***

Back in Tel Aviv, a plan was forming. The Israelis heard that Amin was due to spend the weekend on a diplomatic trip out of Uganda. That provided an opening. If Israel could somehow fly four huge Hercules transporters the 2,500 miles to Uganda, one of those could land and disgorge a motorcade of vehicles dressed up to look as if they were the dictator and his party returning from Mauritius. The call went out for a rare Mercedes limousine, like Amins. They found one but it was the wrong colour. Hurriedly, the Israelis sprayed it black.

Soldiers
Soldiers in a black Mercedes used in the raid. Photograph: Courtesy of Ministry of Defence Photo Archive/IDF

By Saturday night, the team was assembled, led by Yoni Netanyahu. They went through the plan again and again, preparing for every contingency. The four Hercules would be accompanied by two Boeing 707 jets, one to serve as a command post, the other as a field hospital to treat what they anticipated would be many injured.

On Saturday afternoon a force of more than 200 Israeli soldiers took off, bound for Entebbe. To avoid radar, they flew extraordinarily low at one point no more than 35ft off the ground. It was extremely bumpy, inducing intense vomiting in those on board. The flight took eight hours.

In the dead of night, Entebbe came into view. The designated runway was unlit; the planes would have to land in the dark. The first aircraft landed and out came the Mercedes. It headed straight for the terminal building. All was going to plan. It seemed the troops would retain their most precious advantage: the element of surprise.

But then a Ugandan soldier appeared, raising his rifle. Netanyahus deputy, Muki Betzer, who had previously lived in Uganda for four months, was untroubled: he thought the guard would wave them through. But Netanyahu made an instant decision. He and another commando fired at the soldier with their silenced pistols and the man fell. But then he sat back up, prompting another Israeli to shoot this time with an unsilenced weapon. Another Ugandan returned fire with a Kalashnikov. And thats it, disaster, Betzer says now, his memory of that night as sharp 40 years on, he insists, as if it were yesterday. Weve been found out. The element of surprise has been lost.

There was a firefight, Israelis and Ugandans shooting at each other. Netanyahu and Betzer ordered the Mercedes to stop not in the place they had planned and they jumped out and ran to the terminal building. The commando teams, who had been carefully assigned to different entrance points, were now mixed up. And all Betzer could think of was a botched rescue effort two years earlier, in the Israeli town of Maalot where Palestinian hostage-takers ended up killing 25 of their captives, including 22 children.

But somehow they made it in time: the hijackers had not had the chance to open fire on the hostages. As the commandos burst into the terminal building, one hijacker was killed instantly. Betzer saw two more as he entered: We shot them and killed them. Meanwhile a fellow soldier on a megaphone shouted in Hebrew and English: Lie down, dont get up. The army is here, the army is here.

***

Sara Davidson remembers it very differently. Saturday night had been particularly fearful. Sunday was the deadline, a word that, with its blunt first syllable, terrified Benny. If no prisoners had been released by then, the hijackers would start killing the hostages. Several people had been taken ill and the night was hot. Some of their captors were outside, sitting on chairs and sofas. Her husband was trying to read, her sons trying to sleep.

Suddenly they heard gunfire. We were sure this is the deadline and this is the end of us. Her husband sent them to hide in the bathrooms. He took one son to one toilet, she took Benny to the other and curled herself around him. I was just hoping they will kill me and that maybe I can save him. And during these terrible noises, smells and shouting and shooting, I heard him saying [the ancient Jewish prayer] Shema Yisrael. And listen, we are not religious people, and he didnt remember the prayer, he invented his own words: I want to be alive, I dont want to be killed.

And then she lifted her head a little and there, standing in the doorway, was an Israeli soldier, dressed in camouflage. He was talking to her in Hebrew. And he said, in a very calm voice, Listen guys, weve come to take you home.

Sara
I was hoping they would kill me and maybe I could save him: hostages Sara Davidson and her son Benny. Photograph: Michal Rubin for the Guardian

Once they were sure the shooting was over, leaving all the hijackers and at least 20 Ugandan soldiers dead, the Israelis shepherded the hostages into the waiting Hercules planes. They took off, bound for Nairobi. On board were 102 hostages and crew; four were either dead or missing.

Among them was the commander, Yonatan Netanyahu. Once the rescue had been completed, Betzer had got on the radio to report that their mission had been successful. He heard nothing but static. Eventually a radio operator came across to say: Yonis down, Yonis down. He had been shot within minutes of the first Hercules landing. A medic tried to treat him close to the terminal building, eventually handing him over to the commander of the medical unit, Dr Ephraim Sneh another future Israeli cabinet minister. Around 25 minutes after the planes had first touched down, Netanyahu died in Snehs arms. Now, at the front of the plane, a stretcher carried his body.

When Ehud Barak, who had been handling the Kenyan end of the operation, climbed aboard the Hercules in Nairobi, he was struck by the mood on board. The hostages were ebullient: this was just one hour after their liberation. But, he told me, The fighters were far from happy. They were very tired, more than anything else. And sad.

He approached Netanyahus body. His face was white. He was a handsome young man. I put my hand on his forehead: it was still warm. It was just an hour after he had died. It was kind of a serene face, not expressing any kind of suffering.

Soon the phone would ring in the home of the young man then called Ben Nitay.

***

Shortly after the hostages were home, what had been Operation Thunderbolt was renamed Operation Yonatan, in his memory. The family helped organise conferences in his honour and set up a Jonathan Institute, with branches in Israel and the US. The British journalist Max Hastings was commissioned to write a biography, Yoni, with the familys cooperation. The slain hero of Entebbe was becoming a national icon.

Hostages
The hostages return to Tel Aviv. Photograph: Courtesy of Ministry of Defence Photo Archive/IDF

Binyamin would speak at these conferences and run the institute in the US, setting out his view of how the west should defeat terrorism, focusing on states he believed enabled terror as Uganda had enabled the hijackers of flight 139. He began to drift away from the planned career in business and marketing, and into politics and diplomacy. With his US-accented English and telegenic looks, he fast caught the notice of Israels ruling circles and in 1982 was made No 2 in Israels Washington embassy. Within 14 years, he was prime minister.

Netanyahu himself readily admits it all began at Entebbe. Totally, he told me in Jerusalem. It changed my life and steered it to its present course.

Some say he has taken advantage of his experience. When I spoke to the Haaretz columnist and historian Tom Segev, he said, He is exploiting the history of his family, he is exploiting the story of his brother, he is exploiting a very shocking experience he had. But even Segev is at pains to stress that there is nothing artificial about the prime ministers pain: the two brothers were close, Binyamins grief genuine.

Others, including some who were there, believe Yonis role in the rescue has been exaggerated, with his fateful decision in that short journey to the old terminal opening fire when he did conveniently overlooked. There has been a war of the memoirs, with Betzers version in one corner, a book by the youngest Netanyahu brother, Iddo, in the other. When Hastings probed this controversy, he recalls now, he was warned off, including by Barak. He said, You are dealing here with the heritage of the state of Israel, with one of our national heroes. At your peril do you walk on his grave.

Binyamin
Binyamin Netanyahu at his brothers grave. Photograph: Ahikam Seri/AP

The presence in the prime ministers office of Yoni Netanyahus brother is only the most current and tangible legacy of Entebbe. In 1976, Israeli self-confidence was low. The country had been rocked by the surprise attack of the Yom Kippur war in 1973, which had felt like a brush with collective catastrophe. It had also watched, powerless, as 11 of its athletes had been held hostage, then killed at the Olympic games in Munich in 1972. Entebbe felt like an antidote, if not a redemption.

Inevitably, it had a direct impact on the Palestinians. Several factions had already moved away from hijacking, but after Entebbe that tactic was never tried again. Earlier this year, I met Leila Khaled in Amman, Jordan, who gained global notoriety for hijacking both a TWA flight to Tel Aviv in 1969 and an El Al plane to New York a year later. She told me what mattered was never the means but the ends: to present the Palestinian cause to the world. We were obliged to do it. Its not because we liked to, but because we didnt have the capacity to impose ourselves on the world. We have no land: its occupied. We have no state: we are refugees We had to ring the bell in a different way.

But Entebbe changed the tactical calculus. From then on, Palestinians had to reckon on the possibility that Israel might travel halfway across the world to free its people, if thats what it took. Hijackings were abandoned, then, a few years later, the Palestine Liberation Organisation renounced the armed struggle. Entebbe had helped establish the notion that Israels reach was simply too long for it to be defeated militarily.

In Uganda, Amins humiliation would lead to his overthrow less than three years later. Further afield, the raid would be taught at military colleges, including Sandhurst, as the model special forces operation. In 1980, when 52 US embassy staff in Tehran were held hostage, Jimmy Carter asked to see Shimon Peres who had been defence minister during Entebbe (and was played by Burt Lancaster in one of the three movies) to ask his advice.

Carter was planning an Entebbe-style rescue mission of his own. Peres told me: [Carter] said, If you were me, what would be your opinion? I said, Fly. You dont have a choice. Well, it was a catastrophe, as you know. The botched raid on Iran was a humiliation for the US president, aborted amid mechanical failures and a midair collision before Americas aircraft got anywhere near the US hostages. Eight US servicemen lost their lives; Carters standing never recovered. But that very failure fed the myth of Entebbe: it suggested that Israel had managed a feat that was beyond the capacity of even the mighty US.

As late as 2011, when the US military planned its operation to capture and kill Osama bin Laden, the man in charge was Admiral William McRaven, author of a detailed study of the raid on Entebbe. When it came to audacious missions involving stealth flights over vast distances, maintaining the element of surprise till the last moment Entebbe still seemed the best precedent.

There is perhaps a more subtle legacy, too. A year after Entebbe, Israel took the diplomatic path, engaging in direct negotiations which led to an eventual peace treaty with Egypt. Even so, the outrageous success of Operation Thunderbolt planted a thought among some on the Israeli right that proved hard to shift: the belief that there were few problems to which there was not a military solution, that the unglamorous business of compromise could be avoided, so long as the men in uniform were sufficiently creative, courageous or crazy to think of an alternative. Few Israeli politicians would admit they might be prone to an Entebbe syndrome, but that is often how it looks.

It also helps account for the most noticeable change since July 1976. The admiration triggered by Entebbe soon gave way to worldwide opposition to Israels invasion of Lebanon, to the wars that have come regularly since and, of course, to the entrenchment of the Israeli occupation. In the four decades that have passed, Entebbe and the feelings it stirred have come to feel very far away.

But not for the people involved and those they left behind. Not for Israels prime minister, who recalls the loss of his brother as like somebody amputated your arms and legs and youre never going to be whole again. Not for Benny Davidson, who says of Entebbe, I left as a child of 13, and I came back as a mature young man. And not for his mother Sara, now 81 years old, who still has tears in her eyes as she remembers the moment she and her child were saved and who says, 40 years on: The whole thing is still inside me.

One Day In Entebbe, presented by Jonathan Freedland, is on BBC Radio 4 at 8pm on 28 June and 5pm on 3 July.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/25/entebbe-raid-40-years-on-israel-palestine-binyamin-netanyahu-jonathan-freedland

Why is the ‘Independence Day’ marketing team showing fiery images of Ground Zero?

The marketing team behind Independence Day: Resurgence has released an interactive website called Independence Day My Street. It lets users type in an address, like their home, office, or ex-spouses favorite bar, and using a Google Maps-style application, it shows the scene after an alien attack.

Its meant to show movie fans what it would be like to be in the middle of the invasion, but its left Independence Day: Resurgence with an unexpected disaster on its hands.

You see, the website basically creates Ground Zero.

Several users and news sites have pointed out that Independence Day My Street lets people enter addresses from real bombings and terrorist attacks, like the World Trade Center, locations from the Paris attacks, and the Brussels airport.

The website shows each location in fiery ruins, similar to how they looked after their respective attacks. Lets just say looking up at a burning tower at 1 World Trade Center is awkward, even with the aliens.

Some critics have claimed that since those terrorist attacks never happened inIndependence Days universe, including those locations makes sense. However, the website does exclude some addresses from being used, such as the Pulse Nightclub inOrlando, site of the recent shooting thatleft 50 people dead, and theNewtownschool district, home of Sandy Hook Elementary.

Clearly, the marketing team thought it should be sensitive to some attacks, but not others.

This isnt the first time advertising campaigns have gotten flack for questionable campaigns. Last year, Activision promoted Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 by creating a fake terrorist attack and reporting it on Twitter in real time. Weve even seen these types of campaigns spark panic. In 2007, Cartoon Network got in trouble for its Aqua Teen Hunger Force viral marketing campaign in Boston, after onlookers mistook the LED signs as explosive devices. Half of the city was shut down as a result.

The studio behind Independence Day: Resurgence, 20th Century Fox, hasnt released any statements about the website. The film comes out July 24.

Read more: http://www.dailydot.com/entertainment/independence-day-my-street-criticism-ground-zero/

Magic out of mould: inside the worlds wildest restaurant | Jordan Kisner

The Long Read: In an age when chefs are regularly compared to artists and philosophers, Magnus Nilsson is among the worlds most renowned. But is the simple act of cooking ever worthy of such veneration?

Magnus Nilsson, the 32-year-old chef at Fviken, Swedens premier fine-dining restaurant, is not fond of repeating himself, but there is one sentence he repeats with such frequency and resolute force that it takes on the quality of a koan: Do it once, perfectly.

He says it when observing that one of his chefs has failed to place the dollop of burnt cream in the same place on every dish, or when explaining why he paid so much for his elaborate recycling and composting facility, which has reduced the restaurants waste to practically nothing.

This, too, was the guiding principle behind his most recent book, an encyclopedic record of the past several hundred years of Nordic home cooking comprising 730 recipes, including about 30 that Nilsson expects no one ever to cook. (That is not the point, he explained. It is a documentary.) When the publisher tried to strike one recipe from the collection because it was both impractical and, they feared, controversial (it included whale meat), Nilsson offered to return his advance and put the manuscript in a drawer, rather than publish it incomplete. He explained his reasoning with an amused shrug: Do it correctly or do not do it.

One of the central theses of The Nordic Cookbook is that a countrys dinner table reveals a great deal about its cultures values, economy, landscape, religions, politics, and even family structure. This idea is not original to Nilsson, but the Nordic Cookbook is the most exhaustive recent attempt to catalogue a segment of the world through its food. To compile it, Nilsson amassed 11,000 articles and 8,000 photographs, interviewed hundreds of people, and travelled to the farthest reaches of the region, from Sami country to the Faroe Islands. He did this in his spare time.

Nilssons day job, however, is running Fviken. Set 375 miles north of Stockholm, deep in the forested province of Jmtland, Fvikens 32-course tasting menu demands a journey: an hours flight from Stockholm to stersund, then a 75-minute drive north-west. Nilsson is quick to point out that the flight from Stockholm actually makes Fviken relatively low-fuss in terms of destination dining nevertheless, the restaurant is positioned like the prize at the end of a quest. Its setting is, especially to non-Swedes, otherworldly. In Jmtland, timberlands and mountain vistas unfold and unfold with little human interruption. There are only three people per square mile. At the height of summer, the sun shines for 24 hours a day. In the winter, the temperature drops to -40C. Reindeer wander the woods.

As a home for a fine-dining restaurant, it is an odd choice, yet Nilssons embrace of this landscape has set him apart as one of the most important, innovative chefs working today. In the eight years since its opening, Fviken has become a pillar of the new Nordic trend in food culture alongside Ren Redzepis Copenhagen restaurant, Noma. Like Redzepi, Nilsson is a forager he is also a hunter and expert gardener and much of his food is designed to bring you into some sort of encounter with its origin. One of his signature dishes is a single scallop poached in its own juices, which arrives at your table in its gigantic shell atop a bed of moss and burning juniper branches cut from behind the kitchen the ocean meeting the forest.

Food as an exercise in high aesthetics has been part of popular culture since the Spanish chef Ferran Adri brought his restaurant, El Bulli, and its pioneering molecular gastronomy lab to international fame in the late 1990s. But Fviken is at the vanguard of restaurants whose food is also talked about as an expression of moral values. This comes, in part, from Nilssons commitment to regional and local sourcing: he cooks almost exclusively with ingredients that can be bought within a few hundred miles. His chefs forage moss, herbs, grasses, mushrooms, flowers and seeds from the grounds every day, and about half the produce for the restaurant is grown in their garden. During the long winter months, when the sun only breaks the horizon line for an hour or two each day and the land is sheathed in snow and ice, the kitchen serves mostly foods they have harvested and foraged in the warm months and then preserved. With his pickled hand-picked carrots and dried cloudberries, Nilsson is the man millions of aspiring locavores wish to be.

Magnus
Magnus Nilsson, with Fviken restaurant in the background. Photograph: Per-Anders Jrgensen for the Observer

The food isnt just appealingly local; its a seemingly authentic expression of a place. All the ingredients have a story, which you hear before each course, and the meal made from them is an edible heirloom. Nilssons preparations draw on hundreds of years of regional food culture, which has naturally adapted to accommodate the environments extremes: the caramel for a tart is made with brunost, a sweet, fatty Norwegian cheese, and the bitter herb sauce served alongside it comes from techniques and ingredients of the native Sami people. The chocolate-like disc melting under your cut of meat comes from the wildflowers that overtake the mountains in the summer.

Nilsson has been showered with accolades and attention: rave reviews, multi-hour documentary series from PBS and Netflix, liberal use of the word wunderkind. A seasons worth of reservations in Fvikens 24-seat dining room sell out in minutes. His food is not popular, exactly it has been deemed important cultural material. (Nilsson himself recently referred to his food as intellectual property in a speech to his staff.) People have started restaurants with similar philosophies as a kind of homage. Google has invited him to give presentations at their headquarters. Diners flock from every country in the world. One recent guest in Fvikens dining room told me that he and his wife were not there just for the food. We think of him [Nilsson] more as a philosopher or poet than a chef, he said.

If our dinner plates reveal who we are, what does Nilssons rise to fame say about our fantasies and obsessions? The vast majority of people fascinated with Nilsson will never visit Fviken, so they follow along at home, watching him on TV or checking his Instagram, which recently featured a picture of what appeared to be two mouldy pellets of Frosted Wheat. It was mycelium growing on a bale of straw, the caption explained, waiting to be turned into broth before being served with a small lump of cultured butter. That nearly no one knows what mycelium is (its a fungus) doesnt bother his followers the thrill seems to be that somewhere in an imagined wilderness, a hunter-chef is cooking it perfectly. This is our contemporary fairytale: a Swede making magic out of mould.


My introduction to the Fviken kitchen was this: I watched two men spend several hours auditioning asparagus. It wasnt clear at first what they were doing. One would pick up a green stalk from the 10 that had been selected and turn it over in his hands gently, considering how best to peel it. Then the other would pick a stalk up and frown at it. After a while, one of the men, Nilssons chef de cuisine, a young Italian named Jakob Zeller, picked up a small paring knife and with meditative care traced a light cut around the circumference of the stalk, just below the crown.

He then placed the asparagus back down on the cutting board and, taking up a traditional vegetable peeler, made delicate strokes from the incision to the base of the stalk. A haystack of asparagus wisp collected on his board. Next to him, the sous chef, a Swede named Neil Byrne, tested ways to remove another stalks buds, hoping to make it look as though they had not been removed at all but that the restaurant had found magical asparagus that never had them to begin with. It took these men 35 minutes to peel three stalks.

It was mid-May, and Fviken was coming to the end of its eight-week yearly hiatus. The period of rest meant that the staff needed to retrain to execute the 32-course meal served at the restaurant. There were only three days until a trial run for family and friends, and four days until paying customers arrived. The Fviken team was deep in rehearsal mode, deciding the final details of dishes being introduced in the new season, memorising their responsibilities, and learning how to do every job perfectly.

On one side of the kitchen, an older sous chef trained a younger chef on the meat station, reminding him to consider the four seconds it takes to cross the room from the stove to the plate when planning cooking time. Nilssons head chef, a tall, rosy-cheeked Swede named Jesper Karlsson, had two apprentices practising arranging trays, memorising the positioning and shape of the plates for each course. Over in the corner, the new chef in charge of vegetables had been cutting the same stalk of rhubarb for an hour, perfecting his technique for a garnish that would accompany a braised lambs tongue.

The chefs workspace is perhaps the most beautiful room at Fviken, bright and calm, with white tiled walls and stainless steel worktops, appliances and cabinets. A large coal brazier stands in the middle of the room. Sunlight pours in through wide, gridded windows. The entire kitchen, from its floors to its hardware, is immaculate. The traditional ruckus and raised voices of the professional kitchen are absent. The chefs, dressed in white double-breasted jackets and pert caps, tread lightly, never clatter their implements, and speak to each other in soft, accented English.

After several attempts, Zeller and Byrne peeled an asparagus satisfactorily enough to consider cooking it. Zeller reached for a plate and arranged the stalk in the middle in its final form, the plate would hold only one stalk and a scoop of caviar. Zeller placed the model before Byrne. They took a step back and each assumed a thoughtful pose: arms crossed, eyes narrowed. Zeller cocked his head to one side and Byrne cocked his to the other. Finally, Byrne shrugged. Yeah, its OK, said Jakob, agreeably if not enthusiastically. The asparagus was sent to the steam oven for four minutes.

Just then, Nilsson entered the kitchen without a word and walked over to a cut of beef sitting on the counter waiting to be prepped. (Nilsson wears his hair shoulder-length and loose, and he is the only person in the kitchen who never wears a hat.) He lowered his nose to a half-inch above the meat, nodded, and then watched as the asparagus came out of the steaming oven. He stared at the vegetable for a few moments, made a few deft slices and popped a chunk in his mouth.

Nilsson and Zeller compared notes: even with the lightest touch, the peeler had stripped too much off the stalk, but how to get less than that? Nilsson disappeared to the dishwashing station and returned with a clean sponge. He took a raw stalk from the bin and gently scrubbed it down. Ah, OK, said Jakob, nodding and grinning. They would have to order more sponges.

Magnus
Magnus Nilssons book on Nordic home cooking contains 730 recipes, including about 30 that Nilsson expects no one ever to cook Photograph: Per-Anders for the Observer

Two hours later, the asparagus preparation had been decided on and it was time to complete full rehearsal of another dish: a cut of beef served over a thin disc of chocolate made from lupin beans. The sous chefs set all the component parts on the pass the area where dishes are assembled before being sent to the diners and the entire staff gathered around in silence to watch Nilsson model how this course would be composed on the plate.

The plating, with its fastidious preparations, varied implements and tiny dishes, was carried out with the hush of a surgical procedure. Nilsson turned on an overhead lamp and then leaned over the dish with his brow furrowed. He dipped a brush in softened butter. Where is the salt? he asked. Three young chefs lurched across the kitchen.

Eventually, he stood up, and the staff leaned in to look. It looks a bit on the dry side, Nilsson said to Peeter Pihel, the elder sous chef of the meat station. He waited for the younger chefs to take pictures for later study before slicing the meat and taking a bite, gesturing for his head chefs to follow.

Add some chives, Nilsson said. The meat has been hanging too long over here. It is maybe a little bit over-rested. Everyone chewed pensively. Yeah, he pronounced. Very good.

He crossed the kitchen to hand me a hunk and explained: It has been hanging too long in our aging area, so its too close in texture to charcuterie. The meat tasted rich and vibrant and unfamiliar.

Did you marinate it? I asked.

No, its just butter and salt, he replied. But its a dairy cow, which is much older than the beef anyone else cooks with and its more difficult to cook because its leaner and theres more connective tissue to break down. But if you cook it properly, it is very good.

So thats just the flavour of the meat itself?

He smiled, pleased. That is what beef is supposed to taste like.


Rehearsals continued through the end of the week. Monday would bring the trial for friends and family. Hatim Zubair, the formal, natty Canadian front-of-house manager, led three young women servers through the elaborate process of greeting guests. One server would stand on a little bench, looking out for approaching guests from the rooms one, high window, and announcing when someone was approximately 15 feet away so that Zubair could sweep open the door, as if by magic, right as they reached the threshold. Guests would then be ushered to the bar for champagne and cured meats.Together, the staff practised their routines multiple times for imaginary guests.

The repetitions continued in the kitchen as well with final tests of the lambs tongue, which was new to the menu. The tongue was to be served whole, braised slowly according to a method Nilsson found in a Swedish cookbook from 1768, and garnished with brined dandelion and slivers of rhubarb. In the same manner as before, the chefs gathered around Nilsson as he assembled the plate, arranging the dandelions in three shambling piles over the curving tongue. The rhubarb is too thick, he observed, glancing at the chef de partie responsible for vegetables. He then poured a bright green sauce around the base and placed a few thin discs of rhubarb over the top.

Nilsson and Zeller watched as the three younger chefs, who would be in charge of plating this course in the dining room, attempted to emulate his work.

Dont pour the sauce on the whole thing, then theres no contrast while eating, said Nilsson.

And dont have all the dandelion pointing in the same direction as the tongue because it will look boring, added Zeller.

The apprentices took more dandelions and tried arranging the dandelion over and over.

No, see yours does not look like mine, Nilsson said. See how mine began in three piles and then connected it a bit? Yours is just spread out.

They did it again. You are taking too long, Nilsson said mildly. It should be very quick.

Upstairs, two different chefs were debating the perfect angle for the pot handle during service of a burbot fish stew.

At first, it is difficult to see why Nilssons meal requires such preparation and repetition, but once you grasp the magnitude of the undertaking, a few days of rehearsal seems barely sufficient. The meal at Fviken can vary from 29 to 33 courses,each with two to six component parts that need to be prepared la minute. Most kitchens prepare in advance and then they assemble in the moment, Nilsson explained. We cook right up until the moment.

For that many courses to feel palatable or interesting to a diner, their pacing needs to be varied and strict. What fills people up is time, Magnus said. You can eat lots in 45 minutes, but if you spread the same amount of food out over four hours, you feel tired and full. If we do it right, they will eat everything.

The
The vegetable garden at Fviken produces about half the restaurants produce. Photograph: Erik Olsson

The kitchen is guided by a giant digital clock blinking each second in fluorescent red. The first seven courses, such as the linseed vinegar dip with mussel sauce, emerge from the kitchen every 100 to 120 seconds. After a pause, the larger dishes begin: burbot stew, the famous scallop, the lambs tongue, and several others, which arrive every six minutes or so, until the pace accelerates again to about once a minutethrough to the brown cheese pie. The pace picks up and slows down like this until the end of the night.

Every part of the evening is choreographed. The dining room occupies the second floor of an old barn, and to get to it, you ascend steep wooden stairs with no railing, past a full-length fur coat installed on the wall. Aging joints of meat hang from the wall, near to an enormous harness for unidentified livestock. The look is spartan-luxe, as if designed for a big man by another big man, which makes the pops of delicacy the long stems on the wine glasses, the narrow vases of wild herbs striking. Pinspot lamps are tucked discreetly in the rafters, shining tightly on the prettiest and most rustic pieces of decor. Like the food, the room is crafted to feel sylvan and wild, somehow more essential and real than your own life. It is theatre, but when its working you dont care.


There is something faintly absurd about all this,which is exactly what makes it appealing to so many people. One of the premises that has elevated Nilssons work to international acclaim is that food is art and therefore deserving of painstaking care, auteurship, intellectualisation, and occasional worship. To some, this truth seems evident, but it is hardly a given for hundreds of years, food had no such place in culture. (And, of course, even now only the privileged can afford to engage with it this way.) Writing for the New York Times in 2012, the critic William Deresiewicz issued a corrective: Both food and art, begin by addressing the senses, but that is where food stops an apple is not a story, even if we can tell a story about it. A curry is not an idea, even if its creation is the result of one.

One of Nilssons charms is that he acknowledges that his level of care and craftsmanship is extreme (ridiculous, if you think of food as fuel) while still making it seem like a reasonable, desirable, even practical approach. Though he is a tall and substantial man, Nilssons round, pink cheeks and winning smile emphasise his other boyish qualities: enthusiasm, curiosity, cheerful amiability, impatience. You can see the shining in his eye if he is happy, Zeller told me. And the other way around as well.

Nilsson grew up in the nearby city of stersund and it seems as though his ambitions for food were always titanic. When he was 15, he wrote himself a letter planning out the next 20 years of his life and promising that he would run the best restaurant in the world. He left home that year to go to cooking school in re, the ski resort town just over the mountain from Fviken. After school, he moved to Paris and took a position at lAstrance, a small Michelin-starred restaurant run by Pascal Barbot. He spent three years there, and then returned to Sweden, where he became so frustrated with the limited selection of produce and the feeling that he could not capture an original point of view with his food that he quit cooking altogether. He enrolled in sommelier school, thinking he might write about wine.

Through local connections, he met the owners of the Fviken property, who asked him to come and organise their wine collection. Gradually, he found his way into the kitchen, and in 2008, he took over officially, revamping what had been a small moose-and-potatoes restaurant into a stranger, more ambitious project.

Nilssons mind is connective, kinetic, multi-track. He once, in the kitchen, interrupted his own rapid-fire corrections of the five things going wrong with a course to ask whether I had noticed the pair of reindeer grazing at the edge of the woods, a thousand yards out the window. He talks with equal ease and interest about butchery, American regionalism, book publishing, the economics of dairy production, the history of Swedish socialism and the molecular life cycle of a raspberry. In his spare time, he likes to invent new ingredients or new ways of preparing food. One summer, he became fixated on making soft-serve ice cream. How to use only natural ingredients milk, eggs, etc and still get the texture? He figured out that the problem was that most soft-serve machines come preprogrammed to settings that would ruin natural custard, so he found a highly specialised machine from Japan, flew it over, and tested ingredients and settings several dozen times until he had the perfect, soft vanilla.

These experiments are primarily a way to keep himself entertained. They also, often, come from a sense that the status quo can and therefore should be improved upon. This was the impetus for Nilssons biggest extracurricular project: his charcuterie company, Underskers Charkuteriefabrik. Several years ago, Nilsson learned that the only pig farm in the area, which had been owned by the same family for generations, was bankrupt and set to close.

He brokered an arrangement: Fviken would buy the pig farmers entire annual output, purchase and convert a charcuterie factory 20 minutes away from the restaurant, and begin industrial manufacturing of cured meats to be distributed to grocery stores all over the country. The idea was to make everyday charcuterie that was just better than other everyday charcuterie, said Nilsson. They would also open a roving hot dog truck, the Korvkiosk, which would drive around Stockholm selling Swedish hot dogs known as korv and, because it pleased Nilsson, soft-serve ice cream.

As we walked through the factory one afternoon, Nilsson exuded excitement and conviction. He is the only chef of his calibre doing this kind of mass food production, and he is quick to acknowledge that fine dining does not prepare you for commercial production. So why do it? It couldnt be to build a brand: neither Nilsson nor Fviken are mentioned anywhere on the packaging or marketing materials.

Fvikens
Fvikens dining room. Photograph: Erik Olsson

The answer combines Nilssons brand of idealism and intense practicality. For one thing, he wants to counteract the exodus of people leaving Jmtland in search of work. I think it should be possible to live in these parts of the world, the rural parts, he said. Also I dont think that there is any benefit to producing most foods for consumption somewhere else and shipping them back. It doesnt make sense to me. Unlike many chefs, he is uninterested in opening more and more restaurants. But I like doing this, he said, facing the factory in front of us. I would like to do more of this. The best way of pushing [the world] in a direction that you want is to make the change yourself rather than go to food conferences and make little statements that people dont really care about.

A relentless commitment to the idea that the right choice is also practical in the long run is the hallmark of how Nilsson works. If you can increase the creative productivity of your restaurant by closing it eight weeks a year, you should do it. If you can keep open an excellent producer with local history and make good food available to more people, you should do it. Change, he hopes, begins with the revelatory first-hand experience of true quality. If you do something the right way, people might take notice and maybe want to do the same.


The night of the trial run began, as each service does, with a checklist. Jakob, who acts as each evenings traffic cop, stands before the staff holding a piece of paper with the name of every ingredient on the menu, from king crab legs down to the oils and garnishes. Every time he names an ingredient, the chef responsible for that piece of the meal affirms, Yes.

Shallot?

Yes.

Seeds?

Yes.

And so on.

The first time I saw this, Nilsson, who was whispering to me about the American electorate and Swedish regional politics, paused to explain that this ritual is the restaurants system of accountability. When they say yes, it means they take responsibility for the ingredient from its beginning to its current state, and then all the way to the diners mouth.

Fifteen minutes later, Zeller was still reading off the list: Lupin curd?Marigold flowers? Ice cream? And the machine? And the basket?

At seven oclock, the guests began to arrive and a silence fell in the kitchen. The chefs curled over their stations, and one of the apprentices began laying out the wide, wooden serving boards over the pass in preparation for the first course. Nilsson interrupted him to point out that one of the boards was not completely dry. The apprentice, a skinny young man with a toothbrush moustache, apologised and went away, returning with four trays to choose from. Nilsson said, his voice a little tighter, that it makes no sense to bring four trays over. Just choose two correct ones. The young man paused. And you cant freeze, you need to be able to take correction and keep working.

Yes, whispered the apprentice.

Service began half an hour late, and the first few dishes brought pandemonium: ingredients were not ready at the same time and chefs kept bumping into each other, scrambling to figure out who was responsible for small details, such as cloths for wiping, spatulas, chives.

An hour passed, then two. They struggled on through the courses the asparagus was not set in the exact same place on each plate. The sourdough pancake was too big. The lupin curd gratinwas a touch watery. Everything was too slow the big red numbers of the clock counted to zero and when the alarm beeped the zero remained, blinking, and still the plates did not go.

As the night wore on, Nilssons mood darkened and his body hunched. His brow travelled downward on his face until it was set in a deep furrow. He took over plating. Who is supposed to be wiping this after me? he called. Why are you not here? An apprentice stepped up with a towel and thrust it towards the plate. Nilsson slapped it away. But do not get in the way.

No one could do anything right, and the general consensus in the room seemed to be that this was their fault rather than Nilssons. His occasionally vicious impatience is offset in other moments by his quick return to genuine friendliness with his staff, most of whom are his age. I like that it must be very good all the time, said Zeller later. When he thinks somethings not right, he says Is this the best you can do? Ask yourself what is the best.

The
The remote landscape around Fviken, 350 miles north of Stockholm Photograph: Erik Olsson

Watching Nilsson in the kitchen, or anywhere, one gets the strong impression that this is the only level he can stomach. After a particularly rough episode involving a pork chop, he called a chef over. OK, now you have a moment. Do you have any questions? Are you prepared to do everything perfectly for the rest of service?

The young man began shuffling his notes, looking for his list of responsibilities. I need to check.

Yes or no?

I believe so

Yes. Or no.

Pause. Yes.

OK.

Nilsson then disappeared and popped back up in front of me, holding a glass of water. I just realised youve gone all night with nothing to drink! He grinned and settled in next to me, suddenly calm and chatty. This is pretty good. Weve had messier services. He told me about the first night of spring season last year, which had been even worse: late dishes, skipped courses, imperfect execution. Only the next day did he find out that two emissaries from the Michelin guide had been there. The meal, messy as it may have been by Fviken standards, earned the restaurant two stars.

The goal is for everyone to be on the road home by 11pm, but by that time the staff were just finishing service and preparing for their postmortem. The guests, happy and full, were finding their way from the dining room to the front yard to wrap themselves up and sit around a fire. In the kitchen, Nilsson took the team through the errors and success of the evening in the even, encouraging tones of a coach. The list of corrections, Nilsson admitted, was longer than it would normally be, but this was OK they would do it all again tomorrow.


Food can never be worth this, Nilsson said. It was the morning of the trial run, and he was sitting in the greenhouse he built in his garden in Mrsil, a small town 16 miles south of Fviken,where he lives with his wife and three young children. We had been talking about the 250 cost of the Fviken meal, and the even greater expense one has to lay out in airfare to get to the restaurant. One unsavory aspect of the notion that food is an expression of values a notion Fviken embodies is that it divides the world into virtuous and unvirtuous eaters in a way that is unavoidably tied to class. The ethical food choices (green, local, farm-to-table, non-GMO) are luxuries. It may be true that we would all be better off if everyone shared Fvikens values when it comes to food, but few individuals are wealthy enough to make that choice, let alone eat at Nilssons restaurant. Did it bother him?

Nilssons answer was predictably practical: the meal is expensive because excellent produce and an expert, well-treated staff is expensive. But he was uninterested in defending the cost on principle. The idea of paying that much for a meal is a little ridiculous in a way. The food can never really be worth it. But whats interesting is that the experience can be.

I finally ate the Fviken meal on my last night in Jmtland. In the dining roomarrived a pageant of dishes that was an almost hallucinatory assault on the senses. It was spectacular, but what was it that made this food meaningful? Was it the virtuosity? Was it the knowledge of what that virtuosity demanded? Everyone in the room had travelled hundreds or thousands of miles to be there. They ate their way through the courses carefully, comparing reality to expectation, appraising the experience as they would a painting by David Hockney.

By Nilssons calculation, maybe only 5,000 customers have ever actually been to Fviken. At the moment, he seems most excited about the way Fvikens principles might be extended beyond the restaurant. This is an age when a chef is required to be someone who has opinions and participates in a public space, he said. You have to be more than just your restaurant. He reaches a much wider audience through the media, but finds that an inefficient way of changing things because those people cannot taste his food. The food, he thinks, is the catalysing experience, the challenge: if you notice how much better this is than any other food you have had before, will you think to ask why? If you know the right way to do things, will you pursue it? This is why he is so enthusiastic about the Charkuteriefabrik, which can have 50,000 customers a week across Sweden. They dont get as much information as you do at Faviken, said Nilsson, but the food product itself, the same quality, it carries our message to them.

After his New York Times polemic against food as art, the outcry was so great that William Deresiewicz wrote a response. In it, he argued that food may be less the new art than the new religion. It is, he said, a way to bring us into relationship with reality. In the post-industrial age, in the post-electronic age, eating is one of the only remaining aesthetic experiences that is not reproducible. You have to be there, have to be present, have to be in contact with the thing itself.

Nilsson once said something similar in an interview, when he described what it was like to eat food by Michel Bras, one of his great masters: A plate comes alive when he makes it, and it vibrates. Do you understand? It actually vibrates, especially if youre open to that kind of experience. And I am.

This experience may come from food that looks like a masterpiece, but Nilsson doesnt think it has to. For me, that moment came after I had bid Fviken goodbye, driven through the sunlit night to the nearest airport, and flown to Stockholm. I sought out Nilssons Korvkiosk, which was parked outside Trdgarden, a trendy music venue located underneath a major highway bridge. Its blue and yellow neon sign hummed cheerily in the late-breaking dusk as young people milled around it, on their way to and from a concert. A white-aproned cookhanded me a skinny, slightly curved hot dog in a piece of fluffy yellow brioche, wrapped in paper. The meat was rough on the outside, pocked from charring, and dressed with a little ketchup. It was everything the Faviken meal was not: familiar, humble, a little bit ugly.

I ate it walking. It was perfect.

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  • This article was amended on 23 June 2016. An earlier version incorrectly referred to the chef Pascal Barbot as Pierre, and stated that mycelium is a mushroom. It is, in fact, the vegetative part of a fungus.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jun/23/magnus-nilsson-faviken-sweden

Meet the women helping build the tech industry in the Middle East

Attitudes in the Middle East are changing and women leading by example in the tech sector are claiming an important role

If you left your country of birth in the midst of a war and found yourself in a promising career at Google, youd be forgiven for staying put. But Lara Noujaim had other ideas. The business graduate travelled from Lebanon to California in 2006 and, after completing an MBA at Santa Clara University, she found work in Americas thriving tech sector, joining Google as a Data Evaluator in 2010. Three years later, however, she gave it up to pursue a very different ambition: she wanted to help create a games industry back home.

I could have stayed and built a career in the States, but Im a very patriotic person, we all are in Lebanon, she says. The games industry didnt exist, I came home to be part of creating it. I wanted to give something back.

In the west, Middle East reporting is often focused on disaster. With much of the region in varying degrees of conflict and chaos, its easy to overlook any other more positive developments. While Lebanon itself isnt at at war, it has seen a huge influx of refugees from neighbouring Syria, with as much as a third of the population now made up by displaced people. Games are an escape, a way to have fun, says Noujaim. But for us in Lebanon, games are also used as a distraction from frustration at events in the country.

I applied and the rest was history

When Noujaim got home, she very quickly heard about Game Cooks, a studio founded during the Arab Spring bytwo brothers, Lebnan and Arz Nader. They released a game called Run For Peace, which celebrated the notions of peaceful liberation and revolution that prospered during the era. The game really grabbed peoples attention because it was about peace in the Middle East, but it was also a quite addictive game, says Noujaim. I was really impressed by what they had accomplished placing Lebanon on the global mobile gaming map. Around the end of 2013, I found out they were looking to grow the team and fill a marketing position, I applied and the rest was history.

While the years since the Arab Spring have dampened those hopes for peace and change, Game Cooks is still working in mobile games development and has recently released a retro-arcade shooter called PolyBlast. Its about putting a piece of us as a collective inside our games and creating something new, says Noujaim. Hopefully this will be a standard for what other games studios in the Middle East will create.

Noujaim is adamant that her status as a woman in a predominately male environment hasnt held her back. If anything, she claims, the people she meets are pleasantly surprised rather than antagonistic and part of why she came back to Lebanon was to pave the way for a new generation of female tech entrepreneurs. Compared to other countries in the world, a big proportion of companies in the tech sector here are being led by women, she says. These are often people who, like myself, worked or studied abroad and have come back to start something new in the country or help create a new scene.

Run
Run For Peace. Photograph: Game Cooks / Apple


Partnerships with the UK

Meanwhile, Lebanon has been actively seeking partners to help nurture its tech industry. The UK Lebanon Tech Hub is a joint government initiative created to support developing talent within Lebanon and establish a network with the UK. Lebanon has one of the best education systems in the world and, with technology proving lucrative across the Middle East, the government has begun to highlight the need to invest in its assets before talented individuals move abroad. The UK government recently hosted over 15 of the top Lebanese technology companies in London, providing workshops, mentoring schemes and networking opportunities with the hope that these companies may base operations or future projects within the UK or make use of its partnerships in the future.

Habib Chams, project manager of IFP group and a key organiser at the MENA Games Conference in Lebanon, believes there are growing opportunities for tech and gaming companies in the region right now. There are so many things here that are not highlighted, you have a lot of talent across the region, he says. Creating and gathering the community is important for us.

The MENA conference has only been running for two years but in that time its already attracted speakers and sponsors from businesses such as Google, Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft. This year, Chams is running a special session based on how to work with children specifically, refugee children. One thing that war does is stop children from playing, from being children, he says. I think today with education and games, we have a medium that can help NGOs and humanitarian organisations reach out to them.

Syrian
Syrian children play in a makeshift refugee camp in Lebanons Bekaa Valley. Photograph: Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images

The conference also provides an important bridge between cultures. Many Western companies have identified the Middle East as a developing market but without detailed knowledge on the audience and how the market differs its easy for even established companies to make mistakes. At the same time, the region needs investment and a boost in reputation to attract and retain talent. Eve Tamraz has a background in biochemistry and is co-founder of White Lab, creator of the Sensio AIR gadget, which identifies specific allergens in the air and provides tips to counteract them. Thanks to the UK Lebanon Tech Hub, White Lab has been able to make quick progress on its technology. The tech hub has really really helped in terms of education, says Tamraz. I had a scientific background and they gave me the means to understand the business side of things.

The startup scene in Lebanon is moving faster than Paris

Tamrazs educated background isnt uncommon among women in Lebanon. Children are generally taught to speak both French and English and for a lot of students, including Tamraz, gaining fluency involves travelling to universities in Paris or America to complete their studies. In this way, Lebanese students also gain a wider view of the technology sector. Based in London, Tamaz plans to return to Beirut in the future to help mentor the next generation of scientists and set up a specialised laboratory. The startup scene in Lebanon is moving faster than Paris, you can feel this this drive they have to make things happen, she says. If you give people the tools to grow of course theyll grow and they have such great ideas its incredible.

While Lebanon seems to have taken drastic steps to improve technology and has given significant freedom to startups to pursue this goal, Iran faces a different situation. There, the government has similar structures to support the tech industry however, significant success can draw the ire of the authorities or other agencies when it comes without their express permission or involvement.

Jasmine Rove is a games developer who now works for a large corporation in London, but also invests in startups in Iran. One of her companies produced the biggest mobile game in the country, Fruitcraft, and now develops a range of apps for the local market. Shes had to be extremely careful about discussing the game development scene in Iraq, but says attitudes are changing. The government has been massively supportive recently, says Rove. If they want the country to survive, theyve realised they have to invest in startups. You still have a weird political system, you cant get away from that, but theyre keen to get this off the ground.

Thanks to its progressive education system, discrimination and sexism against women in Lebanon is relatively unusual. The developing tech scene has made efforts to encourage women into technical roles and while stereotypical attitudes toward male and female roles persist, its mostly due to a lack of opportunity rather than active discrimination. l think its more a mentality in Lebanon, says Tamraz. Unless youre a doctor or an engineer youre not not really worth it, but things are changing.

Noujaim agrees. The problem isnt that you have misogynistic views preventing women from working in the tech field. Its the fact that a lot of women still dont know they have the possibility to enter the tech industry; they dont consider it as an option yet. There are lot of workshops and initiatives coming into place to show to women early on when theyre still at school that this is a field they can make a contribution to, its not just for men. Part of the UK Lebanon Tech Hubs role has been to create mentoring opportunities and set up support groups specifically for women to create the connections they may not necessarily have made in Lebanon.

Greater obstacles

Women in Iran face greater obstacles, however. By law if I want to leave the country I have to get written permission either from my husband or my father, says Rove. I am still very much a second-class citizen … The weird laws are still there. Privately, women may be treated equally within the tech community, but oppressive attitudes clearly have an impact on development. It took us time to find really good women, says Rove. But now for example, our lead developer and director are women, within the actual ecosystem itself we want to be supportive. We want to help the next generation … If we dont do it, who will?

Women
Women in Iran face greater obstacles that their Lebanese counterparts, such as requiring written permission from their husband or father to leave the country. Photograph: Chye Shu Wen/GuardianWitness

There is, of course, a real need for female mentors and role models throughout the tech industry generally, but in the Middle East the focus is on encouraging more women to apply the skills they have learned to tech. Foundations such as ArabWIC, Arab Women In Computing, which has chapters across the region, will help. Coupled with a developing tech market, the opportunity for change is tangible, despite the resistance of certain government and religious agencies.

Zeina Saab is the founder of The Nawaya Network which focuses on training and development for youths in poorer economic situations. Saab worked at the UN but returned to the Lebanon to start a social development programme. I didnt want to be in a highrise in Manhattan working in a cubicle from nine to five, she says. I wanted to be closer to the people we were seeking to empower and honestly I couldnt be happier.

The programme is designed to provide underprivileged and low-income youths with leads on employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. One scheme offered is a three-month full-time coding bootcamp called SE Factory aimed at helping those with computer science degrees who wouldnt usually be suitable for wider employment to reach jobs they may otherwise not be able to get. The pilot programme is specifically focused on the tech industry while many other job markets in Lebanon are saturated, the tech industry is still calling out for applicants. Zeina has worked with Fadi Bizri from the Bader Young Entrepreneurs Program and received funding from the Asfari Foundation (based in the UK), Bank Audi and Bank Almawarid, with a view to rolling the scheme out nationwide if the pilots prove successful.

With such an overcrowded job market, stringent checks are made in Lebanon to prevent refugees working. While there are means to get around these checks with freelance work, theres clearly a lot more that can be done to build on the talents and skills 1.5 million displaced people have brought from Syria. In contrast with other industries, tech in Lebanon consists of a number of startups with a growing number of high paying jobs available, many refugees possess the technical ability to do these jobs but simply dont have the opportunity or networking skills in place to reach them.

Theres always the spectre of civil war and a repeat of sectarian street battles, says Saab. Id see young men on the streets ready to pick up a gun and kill their neighbour based on their political or religious affiliation. I thought about what was missing in their lives, what caused them to do this? It was obvious: a lack of opportunity, lack of hope. It was total despair they had nothing to lose … we wanted to create a network to open doors for these youths so they felt valued and could regain some of their dignity, to be part of a movement to make the most of their talents.

Its clear attitudes in some regions of the Middle East are changing and women leading by example in the tech sector are claiming an important role. Civil war held Lebanon back for decades, now theres a sense among entrepreneurs that the time is right to build something that could lead the country away from its troubled past and toward a prosperous future.

Some names have been changed to protect the identities of people interviewed.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jun/22/women-tech-games-industry-middle-east-iran-lebanon

More than 3,000 cases of beer stolen from Atlanta brewery | Fox News

June 21, 2016: This image shows beer stolen from Sweetwater Brewing Company in Atlanta, Ga. Approximately one-quarter of the nearly 3,300 cases were recovered at a warehouse in Clayton County, Ga. (Sweetwater Brewing Co. )

A mystery is brewing in Georgia after thieves stole two trailers containing nearly 3,300 cases of beer early Tuesday. 

SweetWater Brewing Co. said the trailers had been loaded for an early morning pickup when they were taken from the company’s plant north of downtown. The two trailers carried 3,272 cases altogether — or more than 78,500 bottles — of SweetWater’s Summer Variety Pack, company spokeswoman.

Both trailers were located with the help of GPS later Tuesday. However, the beer was gone. 

By Tuesday afternoon, about one-fourth of the stolen beer was found at a warehouse in Clayton County just south of Atlanta, spokeswoman Tucker Berta Sarkisian said. But Sweetwater marketing director Steve Farace told the Associated Press “we can no longer trust that that beer would be up to the quality standards that we as a brewery maintain, so unfortunately we have to destroy it all.”

“For a small company like us to lose that much beer, it really hurts,” Farace added.

The warehouse where the beer was found isn’t far from some of the locations where the 1977 movie Smokey and the Bandit was filmed. In the movie, Coors Beer is hauled across the South with a sheriff in hot pursuit. Those similarities have led to plenty of jokes inspired by the movie since word of the crime spread through the SweetWater plant, Farace said.

But it’s not generating many laughs at the company.

The timing of the heist is unfortunate, because one of the beers in the Variety Packs contained the company’s “Goin’ Coastal,” a pineapple-flavored IPA which has been in extremely short supply.

“This has pretty much wiped out our Atlanta inventory” for that particular beer, Sarkisian said.

The company is asking retailers to contact them if someone other than the company attempts to sell the beer, which has expiration dates of Sept. 20 or Sept. 21.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/06/21/more-than-3000-cases-beer-stolen-from-atlanta-brewery.html

How your clothes are poisoning our oceans and food supply

New studies show that alarming numbers of tiny fibers from synthetic clothing are making their way from your washing machine into aquatic animals

The first time professor Sherri Mason cut open a Great Lakes fish, she was alarmed at what she found. Synthetic fibers were everywhere. Under a microscope, they seemed to be weaving themselves into the gastrointestinal tract. Though she had been studying aquatic pollution around the Great Lakes for several years, Mason, who works for the State University of New York Fredonia, had never seen anything like it.

New studies indicate that the fibers in our clothes could be poisoning our waterways and food chain on a massive scale. Microfibers tiny threads shed from fabric have been found in abundance on shorelines where waste water is released.

Now researchers are trying to pinpoint where these plastic fibers are coming from.

In an alarming study released Monday, researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara found that, on average, synthetic fleece jackets release 1.7 grams of microfibers each wash. It also found that older jackets shed almost twice as many fibers as new jackets. The study was funded by outdoor clothing manufacturer Patagonia, a certified B Corp that also offers grants for environmental work.

These microfibers then travel to your local wastewater treatment plant, where up to 40% of them enter rivers, lakes and oceans, according to findings published on the researchers website.

Synthetic microfibers are particularly dangerous because they have the potential to poison the food chain. The fibers size also allows them to be readily consumed by fish and other wildlife. These plastic fibers have the potential to bioaccumulate, concentrating toxins in the bodies of larger animals, higher up the food chain.

Microbeads, recently banned in the US, are a better-known variety of microplastic, but recent studies have found microfibers to be even more pervasive.

In a groundbreaking 2011 paper, Mark Browne, now a senior research associate at the University of New South Wales, Australia, found that microfibers made up 85% of human-made debris on shorelines around the world.

While Patagonia and other outdoor companies, like Polartec, use recycled plastic bottles as a way to conserve and reduce waste, this latest research indicates that the plastic might ultimately end up in the oceans anyway and in a form thats even more likely to cause problems.

Breaking a plastic bottle into millions of fibrous bits of plastic might prove to be worse than doing nothing at all.

Barrows
Abigail Barrows, principal investigator of the Global Microplastics Initiative, says that microfibers are a bigger problem than most realize Photograph: Veronica Young


Scary science

While the UCSB study is sure to make waves, researchers are consistently finding more and more evidence that microfibers are in many marine environments and in large quantities.

Whats more, the fibers are being found in fresh water as well. This is not just a coastal or marine problem, said Abigail Barrows, principal investigator of the Global Microplastics Initiative, part of the research group Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation.

Of the almost 2,000 aquatic samples Barrows has processed, about 90% of the debris was microfibers both in freshwater and the ocean.

Microfibers are also the second most common type of debris in Lake Michigan, according to Sherri Masons research.

Finishing up research into tributaries of the Great Lakes, shes finding that microfibers are the most common type of debris in those smaller bodies of water. The majority [71%] of what were finding in the tributaries are actually fibers, Mason said by email. They exceed fragments and pellets.

Mason is finding that the wildlife is indeed being affected.

A study out of the University of Exeter, in which crabs were given food contaminated with microfibers, found that they altered animals behavior. The crabs ate less food overall, suggesting stunted growth over time. The polypropylene was also broken down and transformed into smaller pieces, creating a greater surface area for chemical transmission. (Plastics leach chemicals such as Bisphenol A BPA as they degrade.)

Mason said her concern is not necessarily with the plastic fibers themselves, but with their ability to absorb persistent organic pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and to concentrate them in animals tissues.

An increasingly toxic problem

Gregg Treinish, founder and executive director of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, which oversees Barrowss microfibers work, said studies have led him to stop eating anything from the water.

I dont want to have eaten fish for 50 years and then say, Oh, whoops, Treinish said.

His organization received $9,000 from Patagonia to research microfibers in 2016.

It absolutely has the potential to move up the food chain, said Chelsea Rochman, a postdoctoral fellow in conservation biology at the University of California at Davis and the University of Toronto. She cautioned, however, against a rush to avoid fish: I think no ones really asked questions directly about that yet.

Rochmans own recent study of seafood from California and Indonesia indicates that plastic fibers contaminate the food we eat.

Testing fish and shellfish from markets in both locations, Rochman determined that all [human-made] debris recovered from fish in Indonesia was plastic, whereas [human-made] debris recovered from fish in the US was primarily fibers.

Rochman said she cant yet explain why fish in the US are filled with microfibers. She speculates that washing machines are less pervasive in Indonesia and synthetic, high performance fabrics, such as fleece, which are known to shed a lot of fibers, are not as common in Indonesia.

Tiny
Tiny plastic fibers taken from a water sample in Blue Hill Bay in the gulf of Maine. Photograph: Marine Environmental Research Institute


Industry reacts … slowly

Companies that have built their businesses on the environment have been some of the first to pay attention to the growing microfiber issue. Patagonia proposed the Bren School study in 2015, after polyester, the primary component of outdoor fabrics like fleece, showed up as a major ocean pollutant.

Patagonia is part of a working group, as is Columbia Sportswear and 18 others, studying the issue through the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), a trade group consisting of about 1,300 companies around the world.

We believe the outdoor industry is likely one of those [industries that contribute to the microfiber issue], but we just dont know the breadth, said Beth Jenson, OIAs director of corporate responsibility.

In an email, Patagonia spokesperson Tessa Byars wrote: Patagonia is concerned about this issue and were taking concerted steps to figure out the impacts that our materials and products at every step in their lifecycle may have on the marine environment.

Miriam Diamond, an earth sciences professor who runs the University of Toronto lab where Rochman now works, said she believes so-called fast fashion could play a larger role than the comparatively smaller outdoor apparel industry. What I suspect is that some of the cheaper fabrics will more easily shed fibers. Its probably that the fibers arent as long or that they arent spun as well, Diamond said.

Inditex, which owns Zara and Massimo Duti among others, said microfibers fall into the category of issues covered by its Global Water Strategy, which includes ongoing plans to evaluate and improve wastewater management at its mills.

H&M declined to comment on the microfiber issue, as did Topshop , which responded by email we are not quite ready to make an official statement on this issue.

Time to take action

Mark Browne, the researcher responsible for first bringing microfibers to public attention, said that the grace period is over.

We know that these are the most abundant forms of debris that they are in the environment, Brown said. He added that government and industry must be asked to explain what they are going to be doing about it.

The Amsterdam-based Plastic Soup Foundation, an ocean conservation project co-funded by the European Union, said better quality clothing or fabrics coated with an anti-shed treatment could help.

The foundations director, Maria Westerbos, said a nanoball that could be thrown into a washing machine to attract and capture plastic fibers also seems promising.

Another solution may lie with waterless washing machines, one of which is being developed by Colorado-based Tersus Solutions. Tersus, with funding from Patagonia, has developed a completely waterless washing machine in which textiles are washed in pressurized carbon dioxide.

Others suggest a filter on home washing machines. More than 4,500 fibers can be released per gram of clothing per wash, according to preliminary data from the Plastic Soup Foundation.

But the washing machine industry is not yet ready to act. Jill Notini, vice president of communications and marketing for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, said the washing machine could very well be a source of microfiber debris, but that the proposed solutions are impractical.

How do you possibly retrofit all of the units that are in the market and then add a filter in and talk to consumers and say, Here is a new thing that youre going to have to do with your clothes washer?

She added that the industry still has trouble getting people to clean lint from the filters in their dryers.

For Plastic Soups Westerbos, the reluctance of the industries that operate in that crucial place between the consumer and the worlds waterways can no longer be tolerated.

Its really insulting that they say its not their problem, Westerbos said. Its their problem, too. Its everybodys problem.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jun/20/microfibers-plastic-pollution-oceans-patagonia-synthetic-clothes-microbeads

New Mexico Hatch chile labeling dispute heats up | Fox News

FILE – In this Aug. 30, 2008 file photo, framed by ristras, John Trewitt bites into a pod of fresh Hatch green chile, at the Hatch Chile Festival in Hatch, N.M. (Norm Dettlaff/The Las Cruces Sun-News via AP, File)

A federal appeals court has sided with a green chile growers group in southern New Mexico’s Hatch Valley in a dispute over what food can be labeled with the renowned Hatch name.

The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday ruled in favor of the Hatch Chile Association and allied Albuquerque food distributor El Encanto in their efforts to subpoena records that may indicate whether a rival’s products contain purely Hatch-grown chile as marketing suggests.

The subpoenas could influence the outcome of a related dispute before a federal trademark board over efforts by the Hatch Chile Co. to trademark the term “Hatch” for its exclusive use.

The written court decision pays tribute to the winding desert Hatch Valley for “producing some of the world’s finest chile peppers,” venturing that the area “may be to chiles what Napa is to grapes.”

Reversing a district court ruling, a three-judge panel noted Hatch Chile Co. initially said it did not know where its chiles came from, and directed questions to supplier Mizkan Americas, the owner of Border Foods and its southern New Mexico chile processing plants.

When a subpoena was issued to Mizkan asking about the provenance of its green chile, both Hatch Chile Co. and Mizkan filed successful motions to block the request in federal court.

“This seemingly mild dispute turned hot during discovery,” the judges wrote. “After seeming to encourage El Encanto to ask its suppliers for just this information, Hatch Chile filed a motion seeking a protective order.”

El Encanto does business under the Bueno Foods label.

Ross Perkal, an attorney for Hatch Chile Co., declined to comment on the ruling, citing pending litigation.

Hatch Chile Association board member Preston Mitchell applauded the ruling as a possible step toward reserving the Hatch name for chiles that can be traced to the Hatch Valley through a shared certification process. The association is seeking a certification mark for Hatch chile to help consumers verify the source.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/06/19/new-mexico-hatch-chile-labeling-dispute-heats-up.html

Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift: match made in heaven or a PR stunt? | Observer profile

Ever since that photo appeared of the actor and the singer canoodling on a beach, cynics have suggested it was a set-up. Or could it be that two of the most glamorous showbiz stars are for real?

Hiddleswift. It sounds like some arcane practice out of JK Rowling but it is, of course, the latest celebrity hybrid that takes its place alongside those other magnificent centaurs, Brangelina, Bennifer and Kimye. Names that are in ways that would require a PhD in marketing to explain so much more than the sum of their parts.

Ever since that fateful day, only last Thursday, when the Sun revealed its world exclusive with the deathless headline Tinker Taylor Snogs a Spy, the world has been coming to terms with the apparent merger of two leading glamour brands: the actor Tom Hiddleston and the singer-songwriter Taylor Swift

Photographs showed the alleged couple kissing and canoodling on some rocks on a beach in Rhode Island. Exactly how and why the photographs were taken remains the subject of fevered speculation. Some suggest that they are not authentic paparazzi work, insofar as they lack that hallmark sense of furtive intrusion. The word that has been used is staged.

That a fledgling romance between two such talented luminaries in distinct fields of the arts could be reduced to so crude an epithet is perhaps a reflection of the cynical times in which we live. That said, the images do indeed look as if a team of PR consultants and fashion stylists had just stepped out of the shot, rather than as though they were captured by lucky lurking snapper.

Which raises the question: why would a singer whose private life forms the basis of her songwriting and is the source of intense interest for her army of fans and a man widely judged to be waging an unprecedentedly aggressive campaign to become the next James Bond want to place themselves in a situation that gained global exposure?

Who knows? Forget the photos and enjoy the story, which comes with such a strong aroma of invention that it can only be true. It seems that they met last month at the Met Gala in New York, where Swift challenged Hiddleston to a dance.

Among his many gifts a passable Robert De Niro impression and a winningly bashful smile Hiddleston, as YouTube will confirm, is a seriously good dancer. And if it should turn out that buried in the works of Ian Fleming is a scene in which Bond struts his funky stuff, then the jobs in the bag.

Anyway, they danced, chatted and he called her the moment he heard that Swift had broken up from her boyfriend, the Scottish DJ Calvin Harris. Anonymous sources and this tale features more anonymous sources than a Seymour Hersh expos say that he sent her flowers and deployed that bashful smile so lethal in The Night Manager that it completely disarmed an arms dealer to devastating effect.

Or perhaps not. No one official is saying. Even the PRs are withholding a clarifying statement. All that leaves for the watching world are the enigmatic clues left on social media. Harris has unfollowed Swift and composed a (since deleted) gnomic tweet: Oh boy its about to go down. That may have referred to his next gig, but the consensus of opinion is that it means they are never ever getting back together.

If love has always been cruel, in the age of 24-hour status updates it can be particularly unforgiving. But then Swift, still only 26, has never been one for keeping her emotions to herself. As Rolling Stone said, she overshares louder than anyone else in the game. Her deceptively catchy brand of country-pop is shot through with the bittersweet memories of her various relationships with, among others, Jake Gyllenhaal, One Directions Harry Styles and Robert F Kennedys grandson, Conor.

She is an uncannily gifted songwriter, able to infuse irresistible riffs with surprisingly poignant lyrics. Her album 1989 the year of her birth has been hailed as a pop classic. She is hugely successful, rivalled only by Adele on the international stage, and said to be worth in the neighbourhood of $200m.

It says something about the elusive nature of sexual equality that a young, powerful, rich, attractive and extremely famous woman still represents a problematic equation. History, even more enlightened recent history, is not overendowed with men who are comfortable with taking a lesser position in the spotlight.

Taylor
Taylor Swift: an uncannily gifted songwriter, able to infuse irresistible riffs with surprisingly poignant lyrics. Photograph: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

But say what you will about old Etonians, they tend not to suffer from a shortfall in confidence. And one of Hiddlestons strongest suits is his easy physical charm. He has an exceptional sense of rhythm and moves like a dream, the director Joanna Hogg has said. And he looks not only smart enough to recognise the great good fortune that life has brought him, but also to enjoy it.

As he told an interviewer a couple of years ago when his career was starting to take off, with major parts in Steven Spielbergs War Horse adaptation and the Marvel Comics Thor series: Its mad and bananas and amazing. But I can handle it for the simple reason that it genuinely feels like its not real. You know when you go to a fancy dress party and everyone looks incredible and there are crazy things hanging from the ceiling? For about five hours or so, you enter into another world and then, when you come out of it, you are sitting at home with a cup of tea and a biscuit and youre thinking to yourself, Well, that was weird. Fun, but weird. Thats exactly what it feels like.

The suffering artist he is not. Having grown up in Oxford, attended the Dragon School, Eton and then Cambridge, where he gained a double first in classics, there is little argument that he has had a privileged start in life. His father was a self-made man from a working-class background in Glasgow who wanted to give his children a leg-up. His parents split up when he was 13 and had just started Eton, an experience of which he said: I like to think it made me more compassionate in my understanding of human frailty.

As a consequence, he has often been cast in film and television roles as a handsome young man condemned to accept a blessed existence. In this, he has never been better than in his very first film role in Joanna Hoggs excellent Unrelated, playing the object of a middle-aged womans thwarted desires.

Tom
Tom Hiddleston: boyish, unruffled. Photograph: The Guar

There is a boyish but unruffled quality about him that some critics have construed as complacency. Although The Night Manager the most expensive audition for the Bond part ever filmed was a success, it was said that Hiddleston didnt do much. But its fair to say that his main responsibility was looking captivating to both the male and female characters alike and he managed this with aplomb.

However, if the photos, and the subsequent ones of the couple getting on Swifts private jet, are true (even if staged), then Hiddleston is going to come under the kind of scrutiny that will test his refined unflappability to the very limit.

Swift, who likes to surround herself with a posse of famous friends (Lena Dunham, Cara Delevingne, Ellie Goulding), is used to the attention. She was declared a prodigy in the New Yorker when she was just 16. Taught to play guitar by a computer repairman when she was 12, she showed such promise that her parents relocated the family to Nashville when she was 14. By the time she was 18, her second album, Fearless, was a multimillion bestseller.

She is nine years younger than Hiddleston, but she has been in show-business as long as he has and she has within her a resilience that belies her tender years. The press has written in detail about all her relationships, but then so has she, the difference being that she doesnt name names. As she has said: The fact that Ive never confirmed whom those songs are about makes me feel there is still one card Im holding.

She hates the idea that she has been calculating about her private life, using it to increase her public reach. You can be accidentally successful for three or four years, she told one interviewer who raised the issue. Accidents happen. But careers take hard work.

As do relationships, especially in the glare of carefully arranged paparazzi cameras. Perhaps Hiddleswift will handle it with the ironic understanding that its not real but mad and bananas and amazing and its all just weird fun. But if they dont, well at least they make a pretty if not entirely convincing picture.

THE HIDDLESTON AND SWIFT FILE

Born Taylor Alison Swift, Reading, Pennsylvania, 13 December 1989; Thomas William Hiddleston, London, 9 February 1981.

Best of times Swifts fifth album, 1989, released in 2014 sold more copies in its opening week than any album in the previous 12 years. It also won three Grammy awards. Hiddlestons title role in BBC1s hit spy thriller The Night Manager was a huge hit with critics and TV audiences. Hes favourite to be the new James Bond.

Worst of times When Kanye West ruined Taylor Swifts acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV VMA awards, telling the audience that Beyonc should have won. Hiddleston starred in a 2014 Jaguar commercial criticised for encouraging irresponsible driving.

She says I went out on a normal amount of dates in my early 20s and I got absolutely slaughtered for it. I didnt date for two-and-a-half years. Should I have had to do that? No.

He says You cant treat the woman you love as a piece of meat. You should treat your love like a princess. Give her love songs, something with real meaning.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/jun/19/tom-hiddlestone-taylor-swift-match-made-in-heaven-pr-stunt