Should you allow cookies? Cybersecurity experts weigh in

Yahoo! Life

Should you allow cookies? Cybersecurity experts weigh in

Korin Miller – May 15, 2022

There's a quick and easy way to delete cookies that track you online. (Photo: Getty)
There’s a quick and easy way to delete cookies that track you online. (Photo: Getty)

Over the past few years and particularly recently, you might have noticed a change when you browse the internet: Practically every website will ask you if you’ll accept cookies.

It’s due to a European data protection and privacy law called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Your so-called “cookie persona” (i.e. the online collection of your cookies) can be shared or sold to companies, and the law has recognized that this could compromise your privacy, Chuck Brooks, tech and cybersecurity expert and president of Brooks Consulting International, tells Yahoo Life. The result? You get asked everywhere if you’re OK with allowing cookies.

There is a quick and easy way to delete cookies that track you online: You can download software like McAfee Multi Access, which removes cookies and temporary files from your computer for you. An added bonus: It also blocks viruses, malware, spyware and ransomware attacks.

But it’s only natural to have questions about whether you should even allow cookies in the first place. Here’s what you need to know.

Experts say it's OK to allow cookies from senders and websites you know and trust. (Photo: Getty)
Experts say it’s OK to allow cookies from senders and websites you know and trust. (Photo: Getty)
First, a recap on what cookies are.

Cookies are one or more small pieces of data that identify your computer to a website with a unique code, Joseph Steinberg, cybersecurity expert and emerging technologies advisor, tells Yahoo Life. The cookies are sent by a web server to your laptop, phone or tablet while you’re on that server’s website. (Once you give the OK, of course.)

Your device stores the cookies and when you visit the website again, the server recognizes you, Steinberg explains. In addition to using cookies to know who you are, cookies are often used by marketing companies to target ads towards you, which explains why you might consider buying a pair of jeans on a website, only to see ads for those jeans when you go on other sites.

So, should you allow cookies?

Some websites won’t let you fully explore them without allowing cookies, making this a tricky issue.

Under GDPR, most people get daily requests from websites to allow permission to use tracking cookies, Brooks points out. “Users should always ask themselves, ‘Do I want to have the site accessible to my personal data?'” he says.

But, “generally speaking, cookies are fine and you can allow them,” Steinberg says. “In fact,” he adds, “cookies can be extremely useful — and many common activities would be difficult, if not practically impossible to achieve, without them.”

Authentication cookies, for example, allow a user who logs onto a website to click and view multiple pages on the site without having to re-authenticate each time they try to view another page, Steinberg explains. (Think: being able to cruise around your online bank information without having to log in to see every page.) “In many such cases, cookies are valid for only one ‘session,'” says Steinberg, and expire immediately after a web session ends. “But, in some cases, servers are programmed to create and accept such cookies to allow users access for many different sessions using ‘persistent cookies.'”

You can download software that removes cookies and temporary files from your computer for you. (Photo: Getty)
You can download software that removes cookies and temporary files from your computer for you. (Photo: Getty)

Cookies also allow a site to remember your personalization preferences, Steinberg notes, and refusing to accept cookies can make your user experience less optimal.

“Cookies have a bad reputation because they facilitate tracking, including across websites,” Steinberg says. That can allow a provider to track your activity wherever you go online, he points out.

“In general, users should only allow cookies from senders and websites that they really desire and keep it limited,” Brooks says.

Don’t have the time to be that selective? Software like McAfee Multi Access can take care of it for you, weeding out the cookies you don’t want while keeping the ones you do.

Overall, experts stress that all cookies aren’t bad — and some can even be helpful. Just be smart about the ones you accept in the future.

White House says 20 internet companies will provide effectively free internet to millions of Americans

Yahoo! Finance

White House says 20 internet companies will provide effectively free internet to millions of Americans

Ben Werschkul, Senior Producer and Writer – May 9, 2022

The Biden administration announced Monday that 20 leading internet service providers have agreed to offer basic low cost plans that will be free for millions of Americans after a refund.

The 20 companies, including AT&T (T), Comcast (CMCSA), and Verizon (VZ), cover more than 80% of the U.S. population. They will immediately provide at least one plan that costs no more than $30 a month and provides download speeds of at least 100 mbps.

The White House says that 40% of the U.S. population, about 48 million households, will be eligible to sign up through an existing program called the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The program is aimed at lower income Americans and offers participants a discount of up to $30/month on their internet bill, meaning they’ll effectively get free service if they can get online with one of these participating companies.

AT&T CEO John Stankey said his company’s new plan “when combined with federal ACP benefits, provides up to 100 Mbps of free internet service.”

“Internet for all requires the partnership of business and government, and we are pleased to be working with the Administration, Congress and FCC to ensure everyone has accessible, affordable and sustainable broadband service,” he said.

‘High speed internet at home is no longer a luxury’

Monday’s news come largely thanks to $65 billion set aside for high speed internet in the Bipartisan Infrastructure law. That money has helped fund the ACP and is also being directed towards parallel efforts to increase coverage areas and speeds.

“High speed internet at home is no longer a luxury: it’s a necessity for children to learn, workers to do their job, seniors and others to access health care through telemedicine, and for all of us to stay connected in this digital world,” a senior administration official told reporters in previewing the announcement.

‘A historic opportunity’

Families are eligible for the ACP mostly based on income level. Any household making less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Level — $55,500 for a family of four in the continental U.S. — is eligible. Households can also qualify if they participate in certain government programs like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income.

“The Affordable Connectivity Program is a historic opportunity to close the digital divide by empowering more Americans to get online and connect to our increasingly digital world, “ said David N. Watson, the CEO and president of Comcast.

The full list of participating companies includes Allo Communications, AltaFiber, Altice USA, Astound, AT&T, Breezeline, Comcast, Comporium, Frontier, IdeaTek, Cox Communications, Jackson Energy Authority, MediaCom, MLGC, Spectrum, Verizon, Vermont Telephone Company, Vexus Fiber, and Wow! Internet, Cable, and TV.

Verizon, as an example, will now offer its existing Fios service for $30/month to program participants. Other companies, like Spectrum, say they will increase the speeds of an existing $30/month plan to reach the 100 mbps standard set by the White House, where their infrastructure allows it.

Pushing more companies to ‘make the same commitments’

Notably missing from Monday’s announcement are many smaller and rural internet service providers that would have a challenge meeting the White House’s pricing or speed requirements.

“I think that there are roughly 1,300 participating internet providers in the ACP right now and we would obviously love for each and every one of them to make the same commitments that these 20 companies are doing,” said a senior administration official.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 14: U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks on the Biden administration’s Affordable Connectivity Program at the South Court Auditorium at Eisenhower Executive Office Building on February 14, 2022 in Washington, DC. During the event Harris announced that 10 million households had enrolled in the program which helps families access high-speed, affordable internet. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Vice President Kamala Harris discusses the Affordable Connectivity Program in February. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

These companies cover 50% of the rural population. Those Americans are still eligible to sign up for the ACP, but they may continue to face slower speed or plans that aren’t fully covered by the $30 refund.

So far, 11.5 million households have signed up to receive ACP benefits. The program was first created as a relief measure in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, and Biden officials have moved to make it a permanent as a way to lessen the digital divide.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will speak at the White House Monday alongside internet company CEOs as the first part of a multi-pronged effort to drive signups. That effort includes a new website, GetInternet.gov, and direct outreach from federal agencies like the Social Security Administration as well as states.

Ben Werschkul is a writer and producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.

A teacher in Russia was fired and fined after her eighth-grade student recorded her and turned her in for saying ‘Ukraine is a separate country’

Business Insider

A teacher in Russia was fired and fined after her eighth-grade student recorded her and turned her in for saying ‘Ukraine is a separate country’

Kelsey Vlamis – April 9, 2022

A woman walks past the graffiti on a fence which reads: “No war” and “Stop war”, on March 14, 2022 in Moscow, Russia.Contributor/Getty Images
A teacher in Russia was fired and fined after her eighth-grade student recorded her and turned her in for saying ‘Ukraine is a separate country’
  • An English teacher in Russia was punished for telling her student Ukraine was not part of Russia.
  • Marina Dubrova told the NYT: “It’s as though they’ve all plunged into some kind of madness.”
  • Putin last month spoke in favor of a “self-cleansing of society,” referring to those who are anti-war.

A teacher in Russia said she was fired and fined after being turned into the authorities for comments she made to students about Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Marina Dubrova told The New York Times she showed her eighth-grade class a YouTube video with an anti-war message. Afterwards a group of girls asked her about the war.

Dubrova, an English teacher on the Russian island Sakhalin, told the girls: “Ukraine is a separate country.” One of the girls responded: “No longer.”

Russian police arrived at her school days later, The Times reported, and a recording of her comments, apparently taken by a student, was presented at court.

She was fined $400 for “publicly discrediting” Russian forces and fired by the school for “amoral behavior,” she told The Times. When speaking about Russians in favor of the war, Dubrova said: “It’s as though they’ve all plunged into some kind of madness.”

There have been various reports of Russians turning each other in for speaking out against the war, which Russia calls a “special military operation,” though it’s unclear how widespread an occurrence it is.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last month indicated Russia must undergo a purging of society to root out those who are anti-war or align with the West.

“The collective West is attempting to splinter our society, speculating on military losses, on socioeconomic effects of sanctions, in order to provoke a people’s rebellion in Russia,” Putin said in a video address.

“But any people, the Russian people, especially, are able to distinguish true patriots from bastards and traitors and will spit them out,” he said, referring to people who do not support the Kremlin.

“I am certain that this necessary and natural self-cleansing of society will only strengthen our country, our solidarity, togetherness, and our readiness to answer any calls to action,” he added.

More than 4,300 anti-war demonstrators in Russia had been detained at protests across the country as of early March.

This open letter is from an Iowa Teacher addressed to FOX News host, Tucker Carlson, and is a MUST-READ!

Posted on FB by Rhae Ann Theriault – March 24, 2022
May be an image of 2 people

Dear Tucker Carlson:

Hey Tuck, I just finished watching a segment of your show. You know, the one where you suggest that there should be a camera in every classroom in order to root out… let me get this accurate…”civilization ending poison.”

I’m going to zig where you thought most teachers would zag. I welcome your Orwellian cameras in my classroom. Frankly, I don’t know many teachers who would object to having people watch what we do. As a matter of fact, I hate to tell you this Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson, but most of us spent the last year having video cameras in our classrooms.

See, I think you believe that your suggestion that people see what happens in our classrooms will somehow scare teachers. The truth of it is that we have been begging for years to have people, such as yourself, come into our classrooms. I somewhat famously asked Ms. DeVos to visit a public school before she became Secretary of Education (https://www.huffpost.com/…/an-introduction-from-public…). It’s unclear whether she has yet to set foot in an actual public school classroom, but I digress. I sense that you think you’ll see all of us pinko teachers speaking endlessly about Critical Race Theory leading to…and again, let me get this right, “civilization ending poison.” I’ve been in a lot of classrooms (more than you I am willing to bet) and think you’re going to be disappointed on that front. What happens in America’s classrooms is teaching and learning. Your “spy cameras” will see teachers and students working together to be better every day.

I’ll tell you what I saw on a tour of classrooms not that long ago. I saw a group of kindergartners trying to create bridges over running water with basic classroom supplies in a lesson about collaboration. I saw a high school literature class talking about the character development in The Glass Menagerie. I saw a middle school history class participating in group project where they had to solve problems in a fictional city, with specifics of how they would utilize resources and build public support for their projects. Anyone watching your cameras will see learning…all day every day. For those who watch your “nanny cams” carefully, they’ll see a lot of other things as well. They will see teachers working with students who have vastly different life experiences. They will see students who are fluent in multiple languages working with teachers to become proficient in yet one more language. They will see students who are hungry get their one solid meal a day in the cafeteria. They will see students itching for more fine arts, industrial technology, or world languages to be offered in their school. In my classroom, if we’re being honest, they’ll probably hear some sketchy intonation from my saxophones, and I promise we’re working on it. But for sure, they will see learning… all day every day.

To be honest, I’m fascinated by the logistics of your proposal. In a world where school districts are struggling to recruit and maintain teachers, who is going to man your “citizen review boards” (setting aside the fact that public school teachers already answer to publicly elected school boards)? For instance, in my school district I sense you would need well over 500 cameras going every day. Who watches those 500 screens 10 hours a day (I want you watching my 7 am jazz band and my after school lessons)? What qualifications would these “experts” need to know what they were watching for? What happens when they catch a teacher teaching… let me get this right… ”civilization ending poison?” Who do they report that to? I’m also curious who will pay for all of this incredible technology. Maybe I missed it, but can you point me to a K-12 institution where Critical Race Theory is being taught? Hell, can you define Critical Race Theory for all of us? I’m sure you’ve got answers to all of these questions.

Frankly, I’ve never been able to figure out, instead of dreaming up Orwellian plans to have Big Brother in all of our classrooms, why you don’t round up an army of bright young conservatives to actually step up and teach? Is it because teachers work hard, aren’t paid as much as those with similar educational backgrounds, don’t have support from our elected officials, constantly serve as punching bags for those who don’t understand public education, or is it just because it’s easier to throw rocks at a house than to build one?

Here’s the real deal Tuck, I grew up with my mom making me eat your family’s Salisbury Steaks once every couple of weeks (his family makes Swanson TV dinners) for many years. I struggle to take advice on teaching and learning from a guy who makes a steak that, on its best day, tastes like shoe leather that has been left out in a goat pasture for a few weeks. I get that Critical Race Theory is your latest attempt to scare your easily manipulated demographic, but let’s just admit that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

With all of that being said, count me on the cameras Tucky. Like many teachers, I’m in the early stages of understanding Critical Race Theory (most of us hadn’t heard about it until you and your people started crying about it), but if you find me teaching it, have one of the Tucker Youth watching your surveillance devices let me know. If Critical Race Theory involves talking honestly about American history, I’m probably doing that sometimes. I spent much of the last six years advocating for a way for teaching to become more transparent, and in the dumbest way possible, you are joining that crusade. Let’s make this happen TV Dinner Boy.

Sincerely, Patrick J. Kearney. Actual Teacher(Copied from Kim Larkin-Floria)

Crisis in Ukraine: Through TikTok and textbooks, American teens getting front-row seat to history

Bucks County Courier Times

Crisis in Ukraine: Through TikTok and textbooks, American teens getting front-row seat to history

Lillian Wu – March 7, 2022

While watching the Winter Olympics last month, I wondered if history was repeating itself in Russia. I’d read about a military buildup on the Russian-Ukrainian border since October, and now, I couldn’t help but think about how Putin had sent troops to Crimea right after the 2014 Winter Olympics.

In the days leading up to the invasion, I was surprised to see how transparent the White House was being with intelligence information. I associated foreign conflicts as spars handled by intelligence agencies and executive privilege and Cold War secrecy. The White House revealing that it had intercepted information about Russia’s plans was an invitation to Americans and the rest of the world to take a front row seat and keep up with events in real time.

I also imagine that the transparency was meant to counter and paralyze the potency of parallel disinformation from the Kremlin.

The result of the US’s swift response to Russia is a rare unity across the country about the need to uphold Ukraine’s sovereignty, as evidenced by applause from both sides of the aisle at Biden’s recent State of the Union address.

What is twiplomacy?: What the Russia-Ukraine conflict can teach us about diplomacy in the age of social media

More from Lily Wu: What we can learn from the saga of tennis great Novak Djokovic

When Putin invaded on Feb, 24, four days after the Olympics ended, I observed the conflict from two perspectives: that of a teenager and that of a history student.

As a teenager, I was again reminded that we live in a world of instant information. Rather than seeing video footage of the war through a medium like TV, I could swipe a few times on TikTok and see a video recorded by an eyewitness.

For teenagers all over the world, the accessibility of these videos is eye-opening: We are seeing these primary accounts because those filming are not separate from us. The difference between us and refugees is random chance that we were born in the U.S. and not Ukraine.

A Ukrainian Army soldier inspects fragments of a downed aircraft in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday. It was unclear what aircraft crashed and what brought it down amid the Russian invasion in Ukraine.
A Ukrainian Army soldier inspects fragments of a downed aircraft in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday. It was unclear what aircraft crashed and what brought it down amid the Russian invasion in Ukraine.

Seeing 15-second footage of refugees crowding onto trains on route to Poland, of a car barely squeezing out of the fumes from a nearby missile strike, even of Russian soldiers crying in interrogation and saying that they’d been told the invasion was just an exercise, has reminded me to adjust my perspective of my troubles and appreciate how lucky I am.

Not all the footage is disheartening, either — the Ukrainian people have proven themselves to be very brave, not least with President Zelensky joining the defense himself.

It is heartening to see unity from the West in its sanctions against Russia. Before the invasion, the trans-Atlantic relationship seemed to be leaning toward the “strategic autonomy” championed by French President Macron. Putin united the West against him, and it did so in a sweeping fashion, with countries like Switzerland breaking its tradition of neutrality, and Germany not allowing weapons to be transported through the country, respectively. The biggest economic sanction passed, banning Russia from SWIFT, also is an amazing precedent.

As a student, all kinds of connections to what I studied in world history last year fired in my head when watching the news.

Most obvious is Putin’s “justification” for war being to rescue Russians in Ukraine, mirroring Hitler’s claims of rescuing Germans in Czechoslovakia. As in 1939, Europe is trying to recover from the economic and emotional fallout of a war — in 1939, it was World War I and the influenza; in 2022, it is the COVID-19 pandemic. The difference this time around is that Europe has learned that appeasement will not work, even if there is still rebuilding to do at home.

Putin’s justification for invasion, including Ukraine historically belonging to Russia, is ironic. Historically, Russia belonged to the Mongols. Historically, parts of France belong to the Greeks. Given Europe’s history with territory wars, Putin’s claim opens a can of worms.

I think it’s possible that another one of Putin’s reasons for war is to distract Russians from his domestic troubles. The dissident Alexei Navalny has found some success gathering an opposition and rousing protestors, causing Putin enough trouble to warrant an assassination attempt in August. He is still active now in support of Ukraine. Thousands of Russians have been arrested for domestic protests against the Kremlin.

The latest on the conflict: Ukraine calls Russia’s proposed evacuation routes ‘unacceptable’; more talks planned Monday: Live updates

Of course, a real revolution by the people is no easy feat, but in the face of an escalating war and imminent economic attrition, maybe Russians could make their anger heard.

To me, that evokes an image reminiscent of the October Revolution, when Lenin led Russian civilians in a coup against the tsar and birthed the Soviet Union. One of Russians’ grievances in 1917 was an unpopular war. Could Navalny be a new Lenin? I don’t know. A revolution materializing, though, would be like coming full circle for Russia — as the will of the people created the Soviet empire, so could the will of the people topple the vestiges of the Soviet empire embodied by Vladimir Putin.

I don’t know enough to predict anything that will happen with this war; few people can. But in this past week, I’ve been reminded a lot of Mark Twain’s quote: “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”

If history can offer Ukrainians and the rest of the world any comfort, it is that allied forces will prevail.

Lily Wu
Lily Wu

Lily Wu is a junior at Hatboro-Horsham High School in Pennsylvania. She’s editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, on the girls’ varsity tennis team and runs a book club with friends. She loves Greek mythology.

General Patton’s Car Accident Remains Controversial Today

Motorious

General Patton’s Car Accident Remains Controversial Today

Steven Symes – December 30, 2021

⚡️ Read the full article on Motorious

Was it actually an accident?

Dead from injuries sustained in a car crash after the close of WWII, General George S. Patton, Jr. left in his wake a tremendous legacy. While some have mourned what was a tragic loss at the time, others over the decades have theorized Patton’s death was anything but an accident.

Learn about Henry Ford’s bizarre social program here.

Known for his aggressive nature just as much as his many battlefield victories, General George S. Patton was like a giant among men. He was one of the few allied generals who had combat experience commanding tanks during WWI, making him invaluable during the North Africa campaign. Later, he embarrassed many of his peers in Sicily, Italy by winning the race to Messina against the British Eighth Army.

In what might seem a little too coincidental, Patton was exposed for allegedly slapping and dressing down soldiers in a field hospital since they claimed to be suffering from battle fatigue. The press wanted Patton’s blood and they were able to get some worked up enough to call for him to be relieved of duty. However, General Dwight D. Eisenhower and General George C. Marshall stepped in, likely realizing Patton was too valuable to the war effort.

After spending some time in England, Patton was key to Operation FORTITUDE, the ruse invasion staged in Pas-de-Calais, France. German commanders were so fearful of Patton’s abilities and so convinced he was leading the real invasion that they maintained troops in Pas-de-Calais even after D-Day.

One of Patton’s most famous act of heroics was during the Battle of the Bulge when he led parts of the U.S. Third Army in a counterattack, saving the hopelessly besieged 101st Airborne Division. This endeared him even more to soldiers and the public in general.

On December 9, 1945, Patton was still stationed in Germany when he accepted an invitation from his chief of staff, Major General Hobart Gay, to go pheasant hunting near the base. Originally, Patton was sitting in the front seat of the Cadillac which was being driven by Private H.L. Woodring, his favorite chauffeur. However, when the general noticed the hunting guide’s dog was riding in an open-top jeep, he asked for the party to pull over and had the dog sit in the front of the car so it could warm up. Patton moved to the backseat. Sadly, the good deed would not go unpunished.

While traveling over a railroad crossing, the Cadillac collided with the passenger side of a U.S. Army truck which was turning left. Some claim the limousine Patton was riding in was traveling at a relatively low speed. Others say Private Woodring was going too fast for conditions. During the accident, Patton struck his head on the glass partition in front of him. That impact resulted in a compression fracture and dislocation of the cervical third and fourth vertebrae as well as cervical spinal cord injury. He was paralyzed from the neck down. A mere 12 days later, on December 21, one of the greatest generals the United States Army has ever known passed away from his injuries.

Fueling speculation that the accident with the U.S. Army truck was in truth not an accident but instead was a coordinated assassination was the fact Patton rubbed Russian officers the wrong way in many social and diplomatic relations. He also had been talking about the prospects of invading Russia, saying they were obviously inferior to Americans and would fold in no time. Many in the upper ranks of the U.S. Military didn’t like such a proposition, a feeling which was shared by much of Washington, D.C. and other powers that be of the time. Some believe it was Stalin who had Patton killed because he feared the man could pull off an invasion successfully. Others claim it was the CIA, others in the US government, actors in the British government, or even Allied leaders working with Stalin to get rid of Patton.

Patton also was vocal in post-war Germany about the denazification process and other moves with the government. Eisenhower removed him as the U.S. commander in Bavaria for the politically unwise statements and was transferred to the 15th Army Group, his final post.

The only four star general to be buried at an American Battle Monuments Commission cemetery, Patton was laid to rest alongside his men at Luxembourg American Cemetery, per his request. Just like in his life, in death the general was a man of the people. Beloved by his soldiers and a good portion of the public, it’s entirely possible others saw him as too big of a threat, especially since there was no longer a worldwide war to be fought.

Is the white population in the US really ‘shrinking’?

Is the white population in the US really ‘shrinking’?

<span>Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

 

The Census Bureau released the first detailed results of the 2020 census this month, and many media reports highlighted the nation’s growing diversity, which is real, and the dramatically shrinking white population, which is … not so much.

First the data: The white population didn’t “shrink” to 57.8% as widely reported – unless you believe in the old “one-drop” rule, where one ancestor of another race means you are not fully and authentically accepted as white. Moreover, this statistic excludes people who checked the Hispanic box, many of whom identify as ethnically Hispanic but racially white.

What happened for the first time was people who identify as “white” were also able to document their detailed multi-racial ancestry. In fact, including the 31.1 million white people who indicated they also were part of another racial group, whites in 2020 constituted 71% of the population – an increase of more than 4 million white people since 2010. That’s because the 2020 census form made it much easier for Americans to claim their diverse heritage compared with 2010, and this affects all groups, including the white population.

What’s becoming less common is Americans identifying as only one race. Fully 10% of all Americans selected more than one race, up from just 3% in 2010, a jump from 9 million to 33.8 million in only one decade. So, what could account for the incredible increase in multiracial population by 2020? Birth records indicate that just 2.3 million multiracial children were born during this decade. Certainly, more Black people or Pacific Islanders, for example, may have claimed white ancestry for the first time this decade. But people who previously identified as “white alone”, and who are claiming their Native American, Asian or African American ancestry for the first time, are probably the driving force behind the increase. The Census Bureau itself acknowledged that the “decline” in the white population is largely due to more white people choosing additional race categories.

A more accommodating decennial census form seems to be driving a strong increase in the number of people identifying as multiracial – particularly among white people. All those DNA tests we’ve been taking may have contributed as well.

And we need to also applaud the Census Bureau, not only for completing a census despite a pandemic, forest fires and legal obstacles, but also for a decade of research by Nicholas Jones and others on how best to provide Americans with the wherewithal to self-identify. As a result, what the 2020 census reveals is a more thorough understanding of how diverse, interconnected, and yes, interrelated we actually are – regardless of the categories society lumps us into … for better or worse.

It is shortsighted for journalists and even some social scientists to repeat the myth that the white population of the United States is dramatically shrinking. Instead of pretending that being white is part of a narrowly defined monolithic hulk, America needs to lean in on a new census category that will increasingly come to define us all – “people in combination with everyone else”. Not to do so will continue to feed into a whole suite of white supremacy and fearmongering that denies we are all created equal and are equal before the law and each other. But that’s not the reason it’s wrong to say the white population is shrinking. The reason is, it’s not true.

  • Dr. Allison Plyer, chief demographer of the Data Center in New Orleans and former chair of the US Census Scientific Advisory Committee
  • Dr. Joseph Salvo, former chief demographer of New York City and senior advisor to the National Conference on Citizenship

Taliban special forces bring abrupt end to women’s protest

Taliban special forces bring abrupt end to women’s protest

Afghanistan Women Fighting On     1-6

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Taliban special forces in camouflage fired their weapons into the air Saturday, bringing an abrupt and frightening end to the latest protest march in the capital by Afghan women demanding equal rights from the new rulers.

Also on Saturday, the chief of Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agency, which has an outsized influence on the Taliban, made a surprise visit to Kabul.

Taliban fighters quickly captured most of Afghanistan last month and celebrated the departure of the last U.S. forces after 20 years of war. The insurgent group must now govern a war-ravaged country that is heavily reliant on international aid.

The women’s march — the second in as many days in Kabul — began peacefully. Demonstrators laid a wreath outside Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry to honor Afghan soldiers who died fighting the Taliban before marching on to the presidential palace.

“We are here to gain human rights in Afghanistan,” said 20-year-old protester Maryam Naiby. “I love my country. I will always be here.”

As the protesters’ shouts grew louder, several Taliban officials waded into the crowd to ask what they wanted to say.

Flanked by fellow demonstrators, Sudaba Kabiri, a 24-year-old university student, told her Taliban interlocutor that Islam’s Prophet gave women rights and they wanted theirs. The Taliban official promised women would be given their rights but the women, all in their early 20s, were skeptical.

As the demonstrators reached the presidential palace, a dozen Taliban special forces ran into the crowd, firing in the air and sending demonstrators fleeing. Kabiri, who spoke to The Associated Press, said they also fired tear gas.

The Taliban have promised an inclusive government and a more moderate form of Islamic rule than when they last ruled the country from 1996 to 2001. But many Afghans, especially women, are deeply skeptical and fear a roll back of rights gained over the last two decades.

For much of the past two weeks, Taliban officials have been holding meetings among themselves, amid reports of differences among them emerging. Early on Saturday, neighboring Pakistan’s powerful intelligence chief Gen. Faiez Hameed made a surprise visit to Kabul. It wasn’t immediately clear what he had to say to the Taliban leadership but the Pakistani intelligence service has a strong influence on the Taliban.

The Taliban leadership had its headquarters in Pakistan and were often said to be in direct contact with the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency. Although Pakistan routinely denied providing the Taliban military aid, the accusation was often made by the Afghan government and Washington.

Faiez’ visit comes as the world waits to see what kind of government the Taliban will eventually announce, seeking one that is inclusive and ensures protection of women’s rights and the country’s minorities.

The Taliban have promised a broad-based government and have held talks with former president Hamid Karzai and the former government’s negotiation chief Abdullah Abdullah. But the makeup of the new government is uncertain and it was unclear whether hard-line ideologues among the Taliban will win the day — and whether the rollbacks feared by the demonstrating women will occur.

Taliban members whitewashed murals Saturday that promoted health care, warned of the dangers of HIV and even paid homage to some of Afghanistan’s iconic foreign contributors, like anthropologist Nancy Dupree, who singlehandedly chronicled Afghanistan’s rich cultural legacy. It was a worrying sign of attempts to erase reminders of the past 20 years.

The murals were replaced with slogans congratulating Afghans on their victory.

A Taliban cultural commission spokesman, Ahmadullah Muttaqi, tweeted that the murals were painted over “because they are against our values. They were spoiling the minds of the mujahedeen and instead we wrote slogans that will be useful to everyone.”

Meanwhile, the young women demonstrators said they have had to defy worried families to press ahead with their protests, even sneaking out of their homes to take their demands for equal rights to the new rulers.

Farhat Popalzai, another 24-year-old university student, said she wanted to be the voice of Afghanistan’s voiceless women, those too afraid to come out on the street.

“I am the voice of the women who are unable to speak.” she said. “They think this is a man’s country but it is not, it is a woman’s country too.”

Popalzai and her fellow demonstrators are too young to remember the Taliban rule that ended in 2001 with the U.S.-led invasion. The say their fear is based on the stories they have heard of women not being allowed to go to school and work.

Naiby, the 20-year-old, has already operated a women’s organization and is a spokesperson for Afghanistan’s Paralympics. She reflected on the tens of thousands of Afghans who rushed to Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport to escape Afghanistan after the Taliban overran the capital on Aug. 15.

“They were afraid,” but for her she said, the fight is in Afghanistan.

If everyone on Earth sat in the ocean at once, how much would sea level rise?

If everyone on Earth sat in the ocean at once, how much would sea level rise?


<span class="caption">There are a lot of people, but the oceans are very big.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/rear-view-of-boy-in-sea-against-sky-royalty-free-image/947393052" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Rosley Majid/EyeEm via Getty Images">Rosley Majid/EyeEm via Getty Images</a></span>
There are a lot of people, but the oceans are very big. Rosley Majid/EyeEm via Getty Images
 

Curious Kids is a series for children of all ages. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, send it to CuriousKidsUS@theconversation.com.

If everyone on Earth sat down in the ocean, how far would the water rise? – Zahkaev and Viktor

Hypothetical questions, like what would happen if everyone on Earth went for an ocean swim at once, are fun to think about. And using math, you can get pretty close to a real answer. Let’s start by considering a smaller version of the same question.

Bathtub math

If you fill a bathtub all the way to the top and hop in, you know you’re in for a soggy cleanup. The water overflows because your body pushes it out of the way – something called displacement. Since the tub has a solid bottom and sides, the only direction the water can go is up and out.

The amount of space an object – in this case, you – takes up is called volume. The volume of water that overflows the tub is equal to the volume of your body.

Now think about a situation where the bathtub is only half full. As you hop in, the volume of your body still pushes the water up. You can calculate how much the water level in the tub will rise with a few simple math equations.

Suppose the bathtub is a rectangular box. You can figure out how much the water level will rise when you sit down in the tub by considering how much volume you are adding to the tub and what size area you are spreading this volume over. The amount the water level rises is equal to the added volume divided by the area.

For a bathtub that is 5 feet long and 2 feet wide, the area is 10 square feet.

Now, let’s figure out your volume. To make the math easier, let’s suppose that you, like the bathtub, are also a rectangular box. Let’s say you are about 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide (from left to right) and 1 foot deep (from front to back). The volume of your body would be 4 feet x 2 feet x 1 foot, or 8 cubic feet.

When you sit down, you are adding the volume of approximately half your body to the tub. This means the height of the water level rise is equal to the volume of half your body, divided by the area of the tub. Using the estimates above, this leads to a water level rise of 4 cubic feet divided by 10 square feet, which equals about 5 inches. You would certainly notice that!

High altitude view of the Earth in space.
High altitude view of the Earth in space.
Scaling up

You can think about the oceans as a gigantic bathtub. More than 70% of the Earth’s surface is ocean, giving this bathtub an area of about 140 million square miles. To figure out how much the water will rise, we need to know the volume of people sitting in it and divide it by this ocean area.

Currently, there are almost 8 billion people on Earth. Human beings come in all sizes, from tiny babies to large adults. Let’s assume the average size is 5 feet tall – a bit bigger than a child – with an average volume of 10 cubic feet. Only half of each person’s body would be submerged when they sit down, so only 5 cubic feet adds to the water level. With 8 billion people total, you can calculate 5 x 8 billion which gives a whopping 40 billion cubic feet that would be added to the oceans.

But remember, this volume would be spread over the vast area of the oceans. Using the same bathtub math as before, we divide the 40 billion cubic feet of volume over the 140 million square miles of ocean.

The answer? The total rise in sea level would be about 0.00012 of an inch, or less than 1/1000th of an inch. If everyone completely submerged themselves, this would double the answer to 0.00024 inches, which is still only about the width of a human hair.

It turns out the oceans are enormous – and humans are just a drop in the bucket.

Hello, curious kids! Do you have a question you’d like an expert to answer? Ask an adult to send your question to CuriousKidsUS@theconversation.com. Please tell us your name, age and the city where you live.

And since curiosity has no age limit – adults, let us know what you’re wondering, too. We won’t be able to answer every question, but we will do our best.

This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Tony E. WongRochester Institute of Technology.

If China’s middle class continues to thrive and grow, what will it mean for the rest of the world?

If China’s middle class continues to thrive and grow, what will it mean for the rest of the world?


<span class="caption">Over the past few decades, hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens have become part of the middle class.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">AP Photo/Ng Han Guan</span></span>
Over the past few decades, hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens have become part of the middle class.
 AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

 

China’s large and impressive accomplishments over the past four decades have spurred scholars and politicians to debate whether the decline of the West – including the United States – as the world’s dominant political and economic force is inevitable amid the seemingly inexorable rise of the East.

The COVID-19 virus hit China first and hard, stalling its rapid economic growth for the first time since the Great Recession. But China’s economy grew by a blistering 18.3% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to 2020, keeping it solidly in place as the world’s second-largest economy. Many now believe that China, rather than the U.S., may drive the global recovery from the pandemic.

It’s not yet clear that this current rebound means China has regained its former growth rate. But if it does, I believe it will set off a global contest over which form of government will have a dominant influence over global affairs in coming decades: Western-style democracy or China’s brand of authoritarianism.

My research and that of others examines two questions:

  • Will China solve the biggest challenges to maintaining its four-decade growth rate of 7%-8% annually, which has propelled its rising global power?
  • If China does succeed in sustaining this pace, will this be a benefit to the rest of the world?
The ‘middle-income trap’

In 1978, Deng Xiaoping initiated transformative reforms that opened China up to the international community and foreign investment. In 2001, China joined the World Trade Organization and became an enthusiastic participant in global markets and value chains. As a result of these and other economic policies, China has succeeded in rapidly progressing from a low-income to a middle-income nation.

Put another way, globalization has certainly benefited China in many ways up to now. After generations of endemic poverty, hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens have seen wage increases leading to higher disposable income. Now, after paying for basic necessities, they have extra money to save or spend on consumer products such as trendy clothing or tech gadgets.

The gains are now spreading beyond urban centers, with the number of citizens who are both rural and poor in dramatic decline, dropping by 12.89 million between 2016 and 2017 alone. Rural consumer spending is on the rise. As increased agricultural output attenuates fears of famine, daily life in rural communities is improving, while the expansion of nonagricultural rural industries offers them alternative sources of income.

This growing material comfort has led to rising happiness about living in China. Even so, once a country like China achieves middle-income status, it can become trapped: unable to compete with other nations either in the knowledge economy – typically the province of high-income nations – or in the low-wage economy it has left behind.

In an influential study of this “middle-income trap” for a number of countries, the World Bank found that of 101 nations that were middle-income in 1960, only 13 had made it to high-income status by 2008. Partly this was because of what some call a “low productivity equilibrium,” with a relatively small fraction of the overall workforce employed in high-skill jobs such as medical care providers, engineers or managers, rather than low-skill jobs such as farm workers, factory laborers, or retail clerks and cashiers. The remaining 88 countries were either poorer or seemingly stuck in middle-income status.

In addition, many small and large manufacturing companies are responding to China’s rising wages by shifting their operations to countries with lower labor costs, such as India and Vietnam. Forty thousand factories shut down across China every year, eliminating jobs in droves. This means that China has milked low-skilled manufacturing for all its worth, and needs new policies to sustain growth.

China’s education challenge

The world is increasingly divided into two categories: countries that are well-educated and those that aren’t. Since the end of World War II, industrializing nations that have also invested substantially in improving the quality of their high schools, vocational schools and universities have largely avoided the middle-income trap and progressed to high-income status.

In Singapore, for instance, educational system investments of 12%-35% of the annual national budget have given rise to a well-educated, professional, thriving middle class that has anchored ongoing economic growth. Similarly, South Korea has invested heavily in education, spending on average 3.41% of its gross domestic product between 1970 and 2016. This has led to the emergence of a well-educated workforce that has promoted the nation’s economic development for many decades.

Some expert observers believe that China will likely make similar moves successfully, giving it a good chance of escaping the middle-income trap. But for this to happen, the leadership needs to make massive nationwide investments in its educational systems, ranging from improving rural and vocational schools to improving universities and broadening access to urban educational opportunities. These educational investments, which economists term “human capital improvements,” typically take a long time to fully develop.

If China sustained its average annual growth rate of 7% while making this workforce transformation, its per capita income would be about US,000 by 2035, which is almost identical to U.S. per-person income in 2014. That year, about 44% of the U.S. labor force had at least a college education, and 89% a high school diploma. Even optimistic statistical analysis shows that by 2035, China’s education levels will be far lower.

Therefore, the Chinese government will realize its hope of 7% annual growth over the next 20 years only if China manages to produce a numerical relationship between human capital and per capita income that is considerably higher than what the typical global experience thus far has been.

Another challenge is that China is an inequitable country, with the most deeply entrenched rural-urban gap in the world. Under China’s “hukou,” or household registration system, all citizens are assigned at birth to either a rural or an urban hukou. This system, which affects virtually every aspect of one’s life, privileges urban status by providing urban hukou holders with substantially greater and better educational opportunities.

As a result, 260 million Chinese rural hukou holders cannot access the superior education provided in cities. Even when they migrate to urban centers for work, they get left behind because their hukou forces them to live as second-class citizens in their adopted cities. So China must seriously reform the hukou system if it wants to get a secure footing among the “well-educated” nations of the world.

What would a high-income China mean for the rest of the world?

The noted China scholar and Stanford University professor Scott Rozelle has said that “the entire world will be much better off with a thriving China.” He reasons that the world would benefit thanks to continued access to many low-priced goods, while China itself would benefit because increasing personal prosperity would dampen civil political unrest.

But such success might also suggest to developing nations that when it comes to uplifting millions from poverty and delivering broad economic growth and development, socialism with Chinese characteristics is a more desirable model of government than the democracy practiced in the West.

The Chinese Communist Party wishes to remain a firmly authoritarian government. In China, a vast surveillance state tracks people’s faces, scans their phones and is even able to tell when someone has left home.

The government’s persecution of its Muslim-minority Uighur citizens in the Xinjiang region also provides a glimpse of how China might interact with nations and peoples that displease it in a world order that it dominates.

Meanwhile, China is already expanding its international clout through its “Belt and Road Initiative,” which involves investing billions in development projects across Europe, Asia, East Africa and the Western Pacific. In the process China is credibly demanding, and beginning to receive, a dominant political role on the world stage.

It’s too soon to tell whether China will continue to sustain rapid economic growth or make the investments and social reforms it needs to advance most of its citizens into the middle class. But given its determination and progress over the past several decades, it’s plausible that by midcentury, a China equal in wealth and political clout to the U.S. and its coalition of democracies may become a fact. Such a China may well have the power to fracture the current international order into two opposing and incompatible visions about the future of Asia and the world.