By now, anyone who spends much time on social media has gotten pretty used to the deluge of information that occurs whenever there is a breaking-news event like the destruction of Malaysian flight MH17. Photos, videos and news reports about the details all go flying past in our streams, many of them from reliable sources — and yet a staggering proportion of them are wrong, either accidentally or in some cases deliberately. Photos are doctored, quotes manufactured and numbers invented.
One of the most crucial journalistic skills is sorting out what’s true and what’s not in such situations, and while many professional journalists may not like it, thanks to the internet anyone can do this job if they have the inclination, the tools and the time. No one illustrates that better than British blogger Brown Moses, also known as Eliot Higgins, who has gone from being an unemployed office worker to a crucial source of real-time, fact-checked information about the war in Syria.
Higgins didn’t get to where he is now because he is some kind of superhuman genius, he just applied himself to learning as much as possible about the conflict he was trying to understand, and then used a variety of tools and skills to relentlessly check and re-check the information that was coming in via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and blogs. So what if you want to join in this process and help verify some of the information that is flying by — what can you do? Here are some tools, services and news communities that can help:
Hundreds of anti-choice activists are descending on New Orleans this week to stage protests around the city.
Reproductive rights advocates view the protests as part of a continued assault on women’s access to reproductive health care in the city and the state. The planned protests have local law enforcement gearing up for their presence with extra vans, barricades, plainclothes intelligence officers, cops wearing body cams, and some officers on horseback.
Operation Save America, formerly Operation Rescue National, began its week-long demonstration Saturday protesting New Orleans’ Causeway Medical Clinic and what the group has ascertained to be the private residence of an abortion provider. The protests that have been planned over the last several months will conclude on July 26.
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President Barack Obama urged the leaders of three Central American countries on Friday to work with him to stem the flow of child migrants who have surged across the U.S. border and warned that most of them would not be allowed to stay.
In a White House meeting with the leaders of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, Obama had a tough-love message: his administration had compassion for the children, but not many would qualify for humanitarian relief or refugee status. Many of the migrants have fled poverty and crime at home.
The meeting came as Obama struggles to contain a border crisis triggered by the tens of thousands of children who have crossed the Texas border with Mexico in recent months. They have overwhelmed border resources and put election-year pressure on Obama to resolve it. “There may be some narrow circumstances in which there is a humanitarian or refugee status that a family might be eligible for,” Obama said after talks with the leaders. “But I think it’s important to recognize that that would not necessarily accommodate a large number.”
European leaders are considering their toughest sanctions yet on Vladimir Putin as the U.S. says there’s evidence that Russia plans to supply rebels with heavy weapons including multiple rocket launchers.
With Ukraine and Russia trading accusations of shelling across each other’s borders, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pushing European Union leaders to sign off on new sanctions next week. Merkel wants “to intensify the sanctions” and wants “quick decisions on this,” Georg Streiter, a German government spokesman, said yesterday. The Italian government, which chairs the EU Council, expects a deal on sanctions by next week, an EU official said.
“The shooting down of the airliner was a tipping point that’s changed the EU constellation,” Joerg Forbrig, senior program officer for central and eastern Europe at the Berlin bureau of the German Marshall Fund of the U.S., said in a phone interview. “Putin has crossed a line and misread the mood in European capitals to close ranks on new sanctions.”
A 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire between Israel and Hamas started Saturday morning as diplomats worked to create a longer truce in the conflict that has killed more than 900 people — mostly civilians.
The cease-fire started at 8 a.m. Saturday (1 a.m. ET). If the 12-hour cease-fire holds, Palestinians will be able to move medical supplies into Gaza.
They also looked for more bodies and found at least 40 in areas that have been too dangerous to enter in recent days because of Israeli bombardment, Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra from the Gaza Ministry of Health told CNN Saturday.
Earlier this year in Arkansas, nine-year-old Hank asked if he could go rabbit hunting, alone, with his .22-caliber rifle. His uncle said OK, because the boy had been hunting with his family all through his childhood
Hank never came back. He slipped somehow, the rifle went off, and he was shot in the forehead.
Both Kelli and Brad, from whom she is separated, believe that the gun was faulty - it shouldn’t have gone off unless the trigger was pulled, they claim. Since Hank’s death, she’s been posting warnings on her Facebook page about the gun her son used: “I wish someone else had posted warnings about it before what happened,” she says.
Had Kelli not bought the gun and had Brad not trained his son to use it, Hank would have celebrated his 10th birthday on 6 June, which his mother commemorated by posting Hank’s picture on her Facebook page with the message: “Happy Birthday Hank! Mommy loves you!”
Little Hank thus became one in a tally of what the makers of a Channel 4 documentary called Kids and Guns claim to be 3,000 American children who die each year from gun-related accidents. A recent Yale University study found that more than 7,000 US children and adolescents are hospitalised or killed by guns each year and estimates that about 20 children a day are treated in US emergency rooms following incidents involving guns.
Another nine-year-old in Texas named Gia hunts zombies — cardboard cutouts her father places in trees, and has other targets for her shooting practice.
Instead of playing with Barbie dolls, Gia shoots them as target practice near her home. She owns six pistols, a shotgun and a Winchester rifle. Her dad has even more, and says: “There’s an expression in Texas: ‘If you know how many guns you’ve got, you haven’t got enough.’”
Again, Spyder, a single father, considers himself to be a good parent. He teaches his daughter the four rules of gun safety, rule four of which is: Know your target and what is behind it. “I taught her to have her finger off the trigger and point the gun away. That was already ingrained in her by [age] five. If you live in Texas or Oklahoma where there are guns, you’ve got to teach them that part,” says Spyder.
What about those who say that teaching children to use guns is wrong? “Tough shit. That’s what we do.”
Both families, and several others are featured in a Channel 4 documentary, Kids and Guns, which airs in the UK on July 31. According to The Guardian, it’s a non-judgmental look at how Americans gun-users raise their children, and how Americans avoid examination of the sometimes painful consequences of easy gun ownership.
BOISE, Idaho - A federal judge has struck down Idaho’s law banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on beliefs held by physicians and others that the fetus is able to feel pain at that point.
U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled late Wednesday in favor of Jennie Linn McCormack, who was 33 at the time she decided to challenge the state’s so-called fetal pain law and other abortion laws.
Idaho was one of seven states to adopt fetal pain laws in 2011, following in the footsteps of Nebraska’s approval of the law in 2010. But those laws are no longer the most restrictive. This week, lawmakers in Arkansas overrode a veto of a near-ban on the abortion procedure starting from the 12th week of pregnancy.
In his 42-page decision, Winmill sided with McCormack and her attorney, Richard Hearn, declaring Idaho’s fetal pain law places an undue burden on a woman’s right to have an abortion. The judge also took the Legislature — dominated by Republicans in both chambers — to task for the motives driving adoption of the law, finding that efforts to protect a fetus don’t outweigh a women’s right to choose.
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