Newsweek Feb-27-15

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United States
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English
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The Newsweek/Daily Beast Company LLC
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Weekly
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16
silk road to hell

The clerk read each of the guilty verdicts, seven of them, while standing next to a large window that framed the Brooklyn Bridge in thin winter sunlight. That panoramic view will be one of the last Ross Ulbricht, who had just been convicted of multiple crimes, including narcotics trafficking conspiracy and money laundering, will likely enjoy for many years. The man who built Silk Road, the Amazon of what’s often called the Dark Web, took his conviction stoically, then turned and smiled at his family and supporters—young men and women who distrust the government at least as much as Tea Partyers do. As a federal marshal marched Ulbricht out a side door, a young man in black dreadlocks shouted, “Ross is a hero!” Derrick Broze, a member of the Houston Free…

12
the debate over an autism cure turns hostile

Jonathan Mitchell arrives at Boardwalk 11, a Culver City, California, karaoke bar, well ahead of the Saturday night crowd, takes his usual barstool in the back and nurses his usual glass of cranberry juice. A woman in heels and black Lycra leggings is singing Garth Brooks, “Friends in Low Places.” I’m not big on social graces, think I’ll slip on down to the oasis. Behind the bar table, Mitchell’s hands flap and flail about so softly most would not even notice his self-soothing fidgeting. At 59, Mitchell easily admits that he is lonely. He walks with heavy shoulders, and a facial expression that is part grin, part grimace. His social life revolves around weekly dinners with his parents, both in their 80s. He can’t keep a job. He can’t find a…

8
the kremlin’s european charm offensive

Vladimir Putin knows how to make friends and influence people. It takes charm, a little anti-Americanism, a dollop of conservative family-values ideology, some visionary-leader atmospherics and, of course, money. Over recent years the Kremlin has been busy deploying all these tactics and more to attract, or in some cases to rent, allies across Europe. Now, with the West uniting against Russia, the Kremlin has ordered that campaign expanded. With Russia’s economy nose-diving in the wake of EU and U.S. sanctions and falling oil prices, bringing influential Westerners over to Russia’s side has become essential, politically and economically. “Overall the plan is to have a way to subvert European unity, and ultimately Euro-Atlantic unity,” says Peter Pomerantsev, author of Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible, a study of the world of…

6
jordan goes all in against isis, but for how long?

Updated | One of the most storied units in Jordan’s security forces is the Royal Desert Patrol. Steeped in traditions that go back to the British Mandate days after World War I, the unit’s Bedouin scouts, wearing the distinctive red-and-white kaffiyeh headdress and bandoliers crisscrossing their chests, still ride camels alongside sandcolored Humvees as they track down infiltrators coming across the Hashemite Kingdom’s vast desert expanses. By all accounts, they’re very effective at guarding Jordan’s borders, while King Abdullah’s 110,000-strong military focuses on preserving internal order and, of course, his pro-American monarchy. But as the U.S.-led war against ISIS drags on in neighboring Iraq and Syria, there are suggestions Jordan’s military might take on a broader role. In the wake of the gruesome video showing ISIS militants burning alive a captured…

3
contacts with a zoom lens

It’s expected that as we age, our eyesight will go. There’s no shame, and not much fuss, in adding a pair of reading glasses to your arsenal of daily accessories—or getting your lenses split into bifocals. But for some older adults, age-related eye problems are much more dramatic than nearsightedness. Estimates suggest that by 2020, 196 million people worldwide will suffer from age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a form of blindness, essentially, that comes with growing older. AMD is the result of deteriorating cells in the macula, a small but essential area of the retina at the back of the eye. It causes a progressive loss of central vision, making a person unable to see what’s right in front of him or her. Though it leaves peripheral vision intact, AMD makes it…

6
the insane reason your clothes don’t fit… and the plan to fix that

The shoes I bought online don’t fit. I ordered them in “my size,” obviously, but that rarely means anything because all makers of shoes and clothes have their own ideas about sizing—which makes as much sense as allowing all the musicians in an orchestra to invent their own scales. The lack of standard apparel sizes is a bigger problem than you might expect. Beyond just annoying the shit out of every person who’s ever bought clothes or shoes, it’s fantastically wasteful and a serious drag on the global spread of online commerce. And yet the apparel and retail industries won’t fix it. In fact, they’re actively making it worse. But now we’re getting the first glimpses of how data can tame sizing entropy. Data-driven systems are beginning to learn enough about you…