“Not ‘Lone Wolves’ After All” – Rukmini Callimachi

ISIS recruiters use social media to find, lure, and direct volunteers from thousands of miles away, according to New York Times correspondent Rukmini Callimachi.

In an article published earlier this month, Callimachi expanded on ISIS’s role in a number of attacks in which the attacker only ever communicated with their ISIS handlers through the internet and via phone. Many of these attacks were previously considered “lone wolf” attacks, in which the attackers were believed to have no operational ties to ISIS.

The 2015 attack in which Elton Simpson opened fire on a community center in Garland, Tex. is one example Callimachi gave. While the Islamic State praised Simpson’s act of terror, law enforcement officials didn’t believe him to have any direct ties to ISIS promoters. However, a deeper search into Simpson’s Twitter activity revealed relationships with ISIS recruiters who actively encouraged such attacks.

While ISIS recruits were originally strongly urged to travel to Syria as a spiritual obligation. As many volunteers had trouble making the journey, the Islamic State began to encourage followers to carry out vicious attacks in their home countries.

“If the tyrants have closed in your faces the door of hijrah, then open in their face the door of jihad,” said Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, a spokesman for the Islamic State, to potential recruits.

In many cases, ISIS’s involvement in attacks doesn’t stop at encouragement. From thousands of miles away, the group has plotted attacks down to the bullets used.

In one example Rukmini gives, a plotted attack in India involved the Islamic State handlers giving an operative instructions to acquire weapons that were left for them in the branches of a tree. A similar situation happened in France in November 2016, in which a group of ISIS operatives were given specific instructions and GPS coordinates to find the weapons they were in possession of when arrested.

The Islamic State gained followers abroad by grooming citizens of Britain, Canada, the United States, and other western countries over the internet without ever meeting them in person. In a New Yorker podcast, Callimachi cites the case of a female Sunday school teacher who developed a connection to the Islamic State on Twitter.

“She was disgusted and horrified by [the beheadings],” Callimachi said. “So she went on Twitter, (…) and decided to send questions to them. And what surprised her is that they responded.”

What surprised the teacher even more, however, is that the group treated her kindly. They asked about her day, her health, and her hobbies. The woman, who Callimachi described as “having a mis-fit existence”, suddenly felt a sense of community and appreciation from these interactions.

In addition, many ISIS attackers had never actually travelled to Syria, met face-to-face with their handlers, or even seen photos of the people who were instructing them to carry out violence. In fact, many of the ISIS operatives found in the United States were U.S.-born citizens being “coached” from abroad. This leads to the question of how practical it is to ban or restrict immigration on the basis of preventing terrorism.
“Majority of attackers were from the country where attack was being planned,” Callimachi tweeted. “Hence visa ban would *not* have stopped these.”

What Void Magazine is all about

If you’re looking for some new places to eat, why note flip open this month’s issue of Jacksonville’s own Void Magazine to read about the tastiest bites in town? From the sweet and fruity glazed doughnuts of Orange Park’s The Urban Bean Coffeehouse to the deep southern kick of Southside’s Gilbert’s Social, the Void writers know their way around Jacksonville cuisine.

The magazine’s annual “food issue”, which was released for February and titled “Tastes of the 904”, is organized into flavor categories: salty, spicy, savory, sweet, and sour. Each flavor spotlights a unique local eatery, so there’s sure to be something for everyone. Void Magazine revolves around the community, after all.

This month’s issue is significant for another reason too. In “Tastes of the 904”, Zach Sweat announced his one-year anniversary as the publication’s editor-in-chief.

“It’s officially been a year since I took over as editor here at Void, which means I managed to not screw anything up too much,” he said in the latest issue’s editor’s note. “I have always had the best intentions for our community in mind, and I hope to see us continue to improve as we dig into the new year.”

“Tastes of the 904” also includes a page dedicated to hyping up restaurants that are currently under construction. With Void’s circulation of 91,000 readers per month, this massive word-of-mouth advertisement can have a significant impact on these up-and-coming businesses.

“I definitely like the community aspect [of Void],” Sweat says. “It’s crazy to see someone just start out, and then you do a little story on them, and they get really big. It’s cool to see how you can help someone like that.”

Void also heavily promotes the community from within by giving local writers and photographers a chance to have their work published. Aspiring writers can write for VoidLive.com, the magazine’s website, on nearly any topic they like. Sweat oversees every article, makes any necessary changes, before sending it out to be seen by all.

“Zach published my first photograph for Void when I was still in high school,” says Ian Zawacki, a surf reporter and intern photographer for Void. “I kept seeing him at promotional events and things like that, so that’s how I got to know him. As I improved at photography, he started sharing my photos on the Void Instagram page. For a kid who’s just starting out, that kind of social media thing is a big deal. Eventually my photos made it into the magazine. Void definitely played a role in jump-starting my career.”

Sweat graduated from UNF with a degree in Print Journalism in 2014, while working as an intern at Void. He tries to give other talented writers and photographers the same opportunity. Since Void doesn’t sell to readers, hiring volunteers and interns is mutually beneficial. Aspiring talents get an outlet to have their work seen and build their portfolio, while Void gets to boast many stories from a wide variety of authors.

“Zach mainly just wants skilled writers who have something fun to write about,” said Void staff writer Heather Henderson. “One time I was hungover at work, so I wrote a funny article about being hungover at work [laughs]. Void’s an entertainment publication, so as long as it’s interesting and not heavy or controversial, Zach is open to publishing most things.”

While Zach also stresses that Void wants nothing to do with controversy, that’s not to say they haven’t had their fair share of it.

“One time I wrote an article that was supposed to be light-hearted and facetious,” Henderson said. “I made a comment about Radiohead being boring, which was clearly just my opinion, and Void got so much crap from bitter Radiohead fans [laughs]. I think Zach became a bit more careful about what we publish after that, but we try to be laid-back.”

While Sweat said controversy is bound to happen from time to time, he still finds the magazine’s emphasis on the community to be his favorite part of the job.
“Void’s always been really positive in the community,” he said. “We always try to promote the good people who are doing cool stuff and share their stories.”

What Jacksonville’s Void Magazine is all about

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Void Magazine’s Zach Sweat announced his one-year anniversary as the publication’s editor-in-chief in the release of February’s “Food Issue.”

“It’s officially been a year since I took over as editor here at Void, which means I managed to not screw anything up too much,” he said in the latest issue’s editor’s note. “I have always had the best intentions for our community in mind, and I hope to see us continue to improve as we dig into the new year.”

Jacksonville’s own Void Magazine revolves around the community, after all. This year’s food issue, titled “Tastes of the 904”, focuses on the wide variety in Jacksonville’s cuisine. The issue is organized into flavor categories: salty, spicy, savory, sweet, and sour. Each flavor spotlights a beloved local eatery. Orange Park’s The Urban Bean Coffeehouse secured the “Sweet” spot with their fruity glazed donuts, while Southside’s deep southern hot-spot Gilbert’s Social snagged the title of “Sour” with the heavy emphasis on pickles and apple cider vinegar in their dishes.

“Tastes of the 904” also includes a page dedicated to hyping up restaurants that are currently under construction. With Void’s circulation of 91,000 readers per month, this large-scale word-of-mouth advertisement can have a significant impact on these up-and-coming businesses.

“I definitely like the community aspect [of Void],” Sweat says. “It’s crazy to see someone just start out, and then you do a little story on them, and they get really big. It’s cool to see how you can help someone like that.”

Void also heavily promotes the community from within by giving local writers and photographers a chance to have their work published. Aspiring writers can write for VoidLive.com, the magazine’s website, on nearly any topic they like. Sweat oversees every article, makes any necessary changes, then sends it out to be seen by all.

“Zach published my first photograph for Void when I was still in high school,” says Ian Zawacki, a surf reporter and intern photographer for Void. “I kept seeing him at promotional events and things like that, so that’s how I got to know him. As I improved at photography, he started sharing my photos on the Void Instagram page. For a kid who’s just starting out, that kind of social media thing is a big deal. Eventually my photos made it into the magazine. Void definitely played a role in jump-starting my career.”

Sweat graduated from UNF with a degree in Print Journalism in 2014, while working as an intern at Void. He tries to give other talented writers and photographers the same opportunity. Since Void doesn’t sell to readers, hiring volunteers and interns is mutually beneficial. Aspiring talents get an outlet to have their work seen and build their portfolio, while Void gets to boast many stories from a wide variety of authors.

“Zach mainly just wants skilled writers who have something fun to write about,” said Void staff writer Heather Hennerson. “One time I was hungover at work, so I wrote a funny article about being hungover at work [laughs]. Void’s an entertainment publication, so as long as it’s interesting and not heavy or controversial, Zach is open to publishing most things.”

While Zach also stresses that Void wants nothing to do with controversy, that’s not to say they haven’t had their fair share of it.

“One time I wrote an article that was supposed to be light-hearted and facetious,” Hennerson said. “I made a comment about Radiohead being boring, which was clearly just my opinion, and Void got so much crap from bitter Radiohead fans [laughs]. I think Zach became a bit more careful about what we publish after that, but we try to be laid-back.”

While Sweat said controversy is bound to happen from time to time, he still finds the magazine’s emphasis on the community to be his favorite part of the job.
“Void’s always been really positive in the community,” he said. “We always try to promote the good people who are doing cool stuff and share their stories.”

“Things that worry me, and things that don’t, in the global economy” -Rana Foroohar

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CNN Global Economic Analyst Rana Foroohar spoke at the University of North Florida Tuesday to address the current state of the financial industry and how it has contributed to the success of populist political candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

Foroohar, who was recently brought on as a global business columnist for Financial Times, also addressed some of the points made in her 2016 book Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business.

Citing a Kennedy School of Government survey of millenials and baby boomers, Foroohar explained that only 30% of millenials support the current U.S. capitalist system and consider themselves capitalists. Even more unexpected, only 50% of baby boomers reported the same. Foroohar cites an underlying economic trend in the past several decades as a reason behind the Kennedy findings.

This trend, she said, includes wages stagnating since approximately 2000, and earlier for the working class.

Foroohar also heavily addressed a massive amount of wealth owned by corporations, as well as the priorities of the current financial markets.

“Companies can make decisions while being detached from the issues of the country,” she said, also adding how the success of a nation’s companies is no longer reflective of the success of that nation’s economy.

She heavily referenced Apple Inc. to illustrate her point. Despite Apple owning around 10% of the nation’s liquid wealth, Foroohar said most of it is being held overseas in tax havens while the company borrows money from U.S. debt markets. Apple was able to do this with very low interest rates following the economic crisis.

Audience member and UNF student Katie Connors was shocked by Foroohar’s statistics on Apple.

“I knew tech held a lot of money, but I didn’t know just how much it truly was,” Connors said. “It really speaks a lot for the massive impact Apple has on the American people.”

According to Foroohar, Apple uses the money borrowed towards share buybacks and dividend payments, rather than research and development or U.S. factories. This results in money being given back to the nation’s wealthy and the success of corporations.

Stock markets are at an all-time high, yet Foroohar said the average American is struggling.

“Six out of the ten fastest-growing jobs are low wage,” she said.

Meanwhile, there is a lack in growth of middle-class-wage jobs. According to Foroohar, while Trump may have been an unlikely candidate in the past, his success in the 2016 election was due in part to American people losing faith in the current economic system. The current financial industry is geared towards benefitting Wall Street, she says, while Main Street is left struggling.

Bernie Sanders is another example Foroohar referenced with the rise of populism. While “socialism” might have had a negative connotation to older generations, she said millenials are more likely to align with it.

However, Foroohar made it clear that populism’s rise on both ends of the political spectrum is evidence that both Republicans and Democrats are displeased with current economic trends.

“Her talk seemed to resonate with so many different demographics,” said Emily Carson, an Accounting senior at UNF. “She also reported facts from both sides of the political spectrum, so I really appreciated that. And it’s good to see so a lot of young people interested in economic issues”

 

Should you ditch your dental floss? Study analysis

In August 2016, the Associated Press conducted an investigation that seemed to discredit the importance of teeth flossing. However, you might not want to toss away your dental floss just yet.
For decades, nearly all dental professionals stressed daily flossing to prevent complications such as gum disease and cavities. “Flossing is an essential part of takingcare of your teeth and gums,” according to the American Dental Association’s website.
Although the federal government has also endorsed flossing regularly since 1979, their latest dietary guidelines mysteriously excluded this recommendation. When the Associated Press then launched an investigation, they found that the government lacked any hard evidence of the benefits of flossing.
Snopes, a website dedicated to investigating public rumors, responded to the news a few days later. According to Snopes, the issues of conducting research of people’s flossing habits makes it difficult to prove the benefits of flossing. They claimed the AP’s investigation is not enough to truly determine the importance of flossing.
Snopes brings up several issues that could hinder research of the general public’s flossing habits. For instance, telling a control group of participants to never floss could be considered an ethical conflict. Additionally, researchers would have no way of knowing for certain whether participants actually floss or not. Even surveys can be misleading because people sometimes lie about their flossing habits to the dentist.
Rachel O’Malley, a psychology junior from Vero Beach at UNF, was more inclined to trust Snopes in this case.“The original article just seems kind of clickbaity,” she said. “Most people don’t floss regularly, so you know people are going to be sharing that article on Facebook and stuff like, ‘oh! Take that, dentists!’ but it’s like, common sense that cleaning between your teeth is probably better than just leaving s— in there.”
Much of the evidence in favor of flossing is anecdotal. “As soon as a patient opens their mouth, [a dentist] can tell which ones have been flossing and which ones haven’t been, because their gums are healthier,” said Dr.Timothy Iafolla of the National Institute of Health.
UNF nursing sophomore Robert Murphy from Ponte Vedra Beach said he felt the Snopes explanations seemed like cop-outs.
“A lot of people don’t floss anyway,” he said. “I mean, I never floss. I don’t see what’s really unethical about using people who wouldn’t be flossing otherwise as the control group for a study. Studies have been published on much more obscure things. It’s weird that it’s apparently so difficult to conduct a study on flossing.”
Researchers inability to know how well or how often the participants would be flossing is an additional complication, according to Snopes.
Kaylee Reynolds, a senior history major from Jacksonville also leaned more towards the Snopes standpoint.
“I was happy when I saw the [AP] article,” she laughed. “I’m so bad with flossing, so it gave me hope that maybe my dental health isn’t as bad as I thought. But I like Snopes.They’re always pretty good about fact-checking and being thorough, so I just tend to trust them.”