A Better Way to Confront MS-13

Fear of deportation in immigrant communities will make fighting transnational gangs harder, according to police leaders.

This story was originally published in Spanish in our sister site, CityLab Latino.

In December 2015, a Latino high school student in Montgomery County, outside of Washington, D.C., was in trouble.

He’d gotten involved with a group of kids in MS-13 or Mara Salvatrucha, the much-feared “transnational” street gang with roots in Los Angeles that has been increasingly active in cities and suburbs of the Northeast. But he longer wanted to be part of the gang: He stopped completing the tasks the gang requested of him, which led to a confrontation in which MS-13 members beat him. “He then turned to his School Resource Officer (SRO) and reported the gang related assault,” said J. Thomas Manger, Montgomery County Police Chief, during a recent Senate hearing. “The SRO, along with other officers from the department, took swift action and made several arrests.”

But the story of this victim, whose name the police kept anonymous, did not end well. The gang ordered another 15-year old to lure him into smoking pot in a solitary area. There, other members stabbed and stoned him to death. The gang’s reputation for using such violent tactics contributed to the community’s silence. “This is what local law enforcement across this country is faced with when confronting MS-13, and why it is so difficult to combat this group and obtain the trust of the most affected communities,” Manger said.

Last week, three police leaders of areas affected by the resurgence of gang violence last year gave testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs. As originally reported in InSight Crime, authorities from Montgomery County, Maryland; the city of Chelsea, Massachusetts, outside Boston; and Suffolk County in Long Island criticized the Trump administration’s approach to dealing with the rise of MS-13.

“MS-13 preys upon the immigrant community with the worst forms of violence and intimidation. So, we rely on victims and witnesses to help us identify, track down and apprehend MS-13 gangsters,” said Manger, who is also president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. “Without the cooperation of immigrants who have not committed crimes, we would never be able to find and arrest MS-13 criminals.”

For the Montgomery County police chief, the president’s pledge to enforce a mass deportation policy against undocumented immigrants will damage their attempts to control MS-13. “The moment those victims and witnesses begin to fear that their local police will deport them, cooperation with their police then ceases,” Manger said. “We would receive no information or intelligence. Were local police ever to engage in routine, civil immigration enforcement, we would no longer be able to do what President Trump asked of us [capturing the real criminals].”

Manger also cited the case of a suspect who was deported and, months later, returned to the U.S. to murder a 15-year-old in Houston. “This increased transience makes it more difficult for law enforcement to develop intelligence on the gang and identify and apprehend members who commit crimes and then move elsewhere.”

Indeed, massive deportation could intensify gang activity, according to Detective Scott Michael Conley of the City of Chelsea Police Department. “As law enforcement officers target MS members and incarcerate them or deport them, La Ranfla [the group that leads the gang from prisons in El Salvador] sends orders to the United States to recruit new members into those cliques,” he said. “La Ranfla does not want to lose the communities under MS control, either in El Salvador or the United States.”

Police also expressed concern for the welfare of children who have arrived in the United States without adult supervision, known as “unaccompanied alien children” or UAC. “Many of these children are vulnerable to gang recruitment because they are young, unaccompanied, adjusting to a new country, culture and language, and seeking a sense of belonging,” said Timothy D. Sini, Suffolk County Police Commissioner. Many of the year’s most violent gang-related crimes have taken place in Long Island. “This is compounded by the fact that the sponsors of these children in some cases prove not to be suitable guardians.”

Instead of deportation, the police leaders recommended other enforcement methods, emphasizing the need for a collaborative federal task force, laws that allow them to better monitor electronic communications among gang members, and more funding for investigations. All emphasized the critical importance of working with immigrant communities. “It is imperative that we dedicate resources to school-based and community-based gang prevention programs in order to reduce successful gang recruitment,” said Suffolk Commissioner Sini. “Such funding should be directly tied to the UACs placed in our communities, as they are some of the most vulnerable to MS-13 recruitment.”

My guest-appearance on Hello From the Magic Tavern

I’m a huge fan of the fantastically rude improv/current affairs/high fantasy podcast Hello From the Magic Tavern, I’ve enjoyed it ever since I binge-listened to the first season halfway through. (more…)

I’m a huge fan of the fantastically rude improv/current affairs/high fantasy podcast Hello From the Magic Tavern, I’ve enjoyed it ever since I binge-listened to the first season halfway through. (more…)

Two cats bouncing in sync up a wall onto another wall

The peace and quiet and the camera operator’s calm framing of the shot really make it. In a few days this will have gone viral, covered in jaunty music, giant text, and an inane voiceover.

The peace and quiet and the camera operator’s calm framing of the shot really make it. In a few days this will have gone viral, covered in jaunty music, giant text, and an inane voiceover.

Traditional capitalism needs “extra” people, but managerial capitalism has no use for them

The Nation’s outstanding roundtable  What Will Kill Neoliberalism? has many admirable interventions (including a notable one from Paul “Postcapitalism” Mason), but the one that got me right between the eyes was William Darity, Jr’s “A Revolution of Managers.” (more…)

The Nation’s outstanding roundtable  What Will Kill Neoliberalism? has many admirable interventions (including a notable one from Paul “Postcapitalism” Mason), but the one that got me right between the eyes was William Darity, Jr’s “A Revolution of Managers.” (more…)

Thinking of the history of life on Earth in terms of “energy epochs”

Olivia P. Judson’s paper in Nature, The energy expansions of evolution, presents a novel, beautifully written and presented frame for looking at the history of life on Earth: as a series of five epochs in which energy became more abundant and available to lifeforms, allowing them to scale up in complexity and fecundity: geochemical energy, sunlight, oxygen, flesh and fire. (more…)

Olivia P. Judson’s paper in Nature, The energy expansions of evolution, presents a novel, beautifully written and presented frame for looking at the history of life on Earth: as a series of five epochs in which energy became more abundant and available to lifeforms, allowing them to scale up in complexity and fecundity: geochemical energy, sunlight, oxygen, flesh and fire. (more…)

Aviation is hell because airline exec pay is solely based on quarterly profits

There was a time when airline execs were paid based on a mix of on-time arrivals, accurate and timely baggage delivery, and profits. Now it’s just profits. (more…)

There was a time when airline execs were paid based on a mix of on-time arrivals, accurate and timely baggage delivery, and profits. Now it’s just profits. (more…)

Optimizing for voice assistants: Why actions speak louder than words

The voice assistants of today are closer than ever to the sci-fi ideal of the all-knowing computer that we’ve been dreaming about for decades. But the way that users are interacting with them isn’t just with voice search – it’s with voice commands. How are these different, and what can you do to optimize for them?

“Hey Siri, remind me to invent you in 30 years”

In 1987, Apple came up with the idea of a “Knowledge Navigator”. You can see the full video here, but it’s a concept that’s remarkably – and perhaps, not coincidentally – similar to our modern smart device assistants, Siri among them.

Its features included a talking screen, reacting to vocal commands to provide information and sort calendars.

In theory, we’re there, 30 years later – though the reality doesn’t always quite match up to the dream.

Even when it does work, voice hasn’t always been exactly what people were looking for. The thing most adults said they wish their voice search systems could do was find their keys (though teens said they most wished it could send them pizza).

Although we’re getting to the stage where that’s possible now, the majority of developments in voice have been voice search – talking to your phone to find out information.

Showing search results for “Why can’t you understand me, you stupid phone”

But while talking to a device can be a better experience than playing around with a virtual keyboard on a phone or a physical one on a computer, there are two major issues with voice search.

The first is that it’s still clunky. Half the time you have to repeat yourself in order to be understood, particularly if the word you’re trying to get across is slang or an abbreviation of some sort, which is to say, the default sort of language you’d think would be fitting for “conversational” search.

It doesn’t feel smooth, and it doesn’t feel effortless – and that pretty much removes the point of it.

The other is that it simply doesn’t add value. A voice search isn’t achieving anything you couldn’t do by simply typing in the same thing.

But recently, we’ve seen developments to the voice control industry, starting with Alexa. At this point, everyone’s familiar with the Echo and its younger sibling, the Echo Dot – it’s been in adverts, our friends have it, maybe we have it ourselves.

The Alexa devices were among Amazon’s best-selling products in 2016, especially around Christmas, and the trend doesn’t show significant signs of slowing. But if we’ve had Siri since 2011, why is Alexa picking up so much traction now?

The answer is that it’s not voice search. It’s voice commands. Alexa is more exciting and satisfying for users because it provides an action – you speak to it and something happens. You now can order a pizza – or an Uber, or a dollhouse.

That’s what people have been wanting from their devices – the ability to control the world around them by talking to it, not just have an alternative to a keyboard.

Ultimately, the commands are more personal. You can go on a website and order a pizza, and you can customise it and pay for it and it’ll show up, but talking to Alexa is akin to saying to your friend “Order a pizza?” (Except Alexa won’t stop mid-phone call to ask you what the other topping you wanted was).

Where the majority of mobile voice commands are used for search, Alexa’s use cases are dominated by home control – 34% of users have Alexa play music, just under 31% get her to play with the lights, and 24.5% use it as a timer.

While Siri and the Google Voice Search system are both examples of narrow AI like the Echo, they make much more limited use of its capabilities – compared to Alexa, Google is not OK, and Siri can say goodbye.

“OK Google – who would win in a fight, you or Alexa?”

Alexa’s success has put Google into catch-up mode, and they have been making some progress in the form of Google Home. Early reviews suggest that it might actually be the better product – but it lacks the market momentum of the Amazon product, and it seems unlikely that the sales will be on an even footing for a while yet.

However, Google does have the advantage of some high-end technology, namely Alphabet DeepMind.

DeepMind itself is the company name, but the more familiar connection is the technology the company produces. DeepMind are responsible for the program AlphaGo that beat the world’s foremost Go player 4 – 1, as well as a neural network that can learn how to play video games with the same approach as humans do.

DeepMind can offer Google systems their machine learning experience – which means that Google Home’s technology might have more room to start leaning towards Deep AI in the future. Your device will be able to start adapting itself to your needs – just don’t ask it to open the pod bay doors.

“Watson – what wine would you recommend with this?”

The other major contender in the AI race has only just started dipping into the B2C commercial market, and not nearly to the same scale as Alexa or Google Home.

IBM Watson has, however, won Jeopardy!, as well as found places in healthcare, teaching, and weather forecasting – essentially, absorbing a great deal of information and adapting it for different uses.

Watson is now used by The North Face, for example, to offer contextual shopping through conversational search. Users answer questions, and Watson suggests products based on the answers.

Likewise, Bear Naked uses Watson to “taste test” their customized granola system for the user, so once you’ve designed your meal, it can tell you if you might want to cut back on the chocolate chips.

AI is a competitive market – and it’s a market synergizing with conversational and voice search to bring us ever closer to the computer from Star Trek, and even beyond it.

For now, however, narrow AI is the market – and that means optimizing sites for it.

SE-OK Google

Voice search means that people are searching much more conversationally than they used to. The best way to accommodate that in your SEO strategy is to give more attention to your long-tail keywords, especially the questions.

Questions are opportunities best met with in-depth, mobile-friendly guides that offer information to your customers and clients.

But this also applies when it comes to using apps in the way that Alexa and Google Home do. People aren’t just making voice searches now – they’re also making voice commands.

With that in mind, to rank for some of these long-tail keywords, you need to start optimizing for action phrases and Google-approved AI commands like “search for [KEYWORD] on [APP]”, as well as carefully managing your API, if you have one. And it is worth having one, in order that you can integrate fully with these new devices.

You can break down the structure of common questions in your industry to optimize your long-tail keywords for devices.

You’ll also need to look into deep-linking to optimize your apps for search. Deep-linking allows searchers to see listings from an app directly on search, and open the app from those search rankings, making for a smoother user experience.

Search results show your app data and link directly into the app

This is only going to become more important over time – Google have just announced that they’re opening up their technology, “Instant Apps”, to all developers.

Instant Apps mean that if the user doesn’t have the app, it can “stream” the page from the app anyway. It’s not a stretch to imagine that before long Alexa won’t need Skills to complete commands – so long as you’ve properly set up your API to work with search.

Siri, likewise, already has SiriKit, which allows developers to build markup into their apps that Siri can read.

“Alexa – What’s the Best Way to Deal with AI?”

Voice search is a growing part of the search industry. But it’s not the biggest opportunity of it.

Rather, companies should be focusing on integrating voice actions into their strategy – by deep-linking their apps, ranking for long-tail keyword questions, and making sure everything they want a customer can do, they can do with their voice.

Kindergarteners take photos of each other at graduation and yes, we need a tissue

TwitterFacebook

Forget horrible high school and college graduations: kindergarten graduation is where the *real* party’s at.

On Friday, Twitter user @oneliddoflacka posted this photo of her sister at kindergarten graduation. Her sister was caught taking photos of her fellow kindergarten “boyfriend.”

SEE ALSO: Dogs, ranked

The two couldn’t be prouder of one another.

My sister graduated from Kindergarten today, she’s been talking about this little boy all year. Guess that’s her boyfriend 😂🙄💕 pic.twitter.com/X6PSd2SMjs

— cutegirlgee (@oneliddoflacka) May 25, 2017

Image: oneliddoflacka

Image: oneliddoflacka

@Oneliddoflacka later clarified to Mashable that the two aren’t technically boyfriend and girlfriend, they just like each other. Read more…

More about Watercooler, Kids, Adorable, and Watercooler

TwitterFacebook

Forget horrible high school and college graduations: kindergarten graduation is where the *real* party’s at.

On Friday, Twitter user @oneliddoflacka posted this photo of her sister at kindergarten graduation. Her sister was caught taking photos of her fellow kindergarten “boyfriend.”

SEE ALSO: Dogs, ranked

The two couldn’t be prouder of one another.

My sister graduated from Kindergarten today, she’s been talking about this little boy all year. Guess that’s her boyfriend 😂🙄💕 pic.twitter.com/X6PSd2SMjs

— cutegirlgee (@oneliddoflacka) May 25, 2017

Image: oneliddoflacka

Image: oneliddoflacka

@Oneliddoflacka later clarified to Mashable that the two aren’t technically boyfriend and girlfriend, they just like each other. Read more…

More about Watercooler, Kids, Adorable, and Watercooler

How To Get Out Of A Rut: 5 Ways To Move On

You may have no idea what your reason for being is. You’re annoyed, dissatisfied and unexcited by everything. It’s monotonous, tedious and frustrating. And if you think you’re alone, think again. In fact, you’re part of the largest group of people on Earth. You don’t know what to do with your life and, worse, you […]

The post How To Get Out Of A Rut: 5 Ways To Move On appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

You may have no idea what your reason for being is. You’re annoyed, dissatisfied and unexcited by everything. It’s monotonous, tedious and frustrating.

And if you think you’re alone, think again.

In fact, you’re part of the largest group of people on Earth. You don’t know what to do with your life and, worse, you don’t know how to find out.

People are not born knowing their role in the world. In fact, we’re all born with endless possibilities and therein lies the problem. How do you even begin and, if you begin, how do you choose?

Can you move past the idea that there must be so much more? What are the ways to move on?

The Future is Yours—You Just Can’t See It

helping others

Life has many things in store for you. Family, friends, health, work, society—all of them change considerably during your lifetime. It’s unlikely that you will enjoy all these changes as not all of them will be positive.

Know this: your life’s journey is your masterpiece.

As you work in life, your purpose unfolds in front of you and your role in the world becomes clearer. Stop trying to meticulously plan your life. Planning is the antithesis to the adventure and improvisation that life requires. You’re in charge and that’s a great thing. A little scary maybe, but still a great thing. Remember that the best way to plan your future is to go out and create it!

Your default mode should be action. Doing [things] is honest philosophy. Stay positive and avoid criticizing others. Above all else, avoid negativity. Work to be helpful and try to look for ways to help other people.

At your job, help your boss. In your community, help your neighbors. For the rest of the world, help those less fortunate. Don’t enter the ugly fray that’s become so prevalent in our society. Always be on the side of positivity.

When you approach life this way, people seek you out and opportunities find you. It’s the law of attraction.

See Also: 12 Mind-blowing Tips for Increasing Your Overall Positivity!

Don’t Do What Makes You Happy

“Do what makes you happy” is a terrible advice from well-intentioned parents and teachers.

In fact, you should embrace discomforts and frustrations and move beyond your comfort zone. This is the only way to learn. To focus only on that which makes you happy means you avoid a great deal of life and the learning that comes with it.

Every time you move outside of your comfort zone, you learn more. Your role in life and your true happiness become clearer and you have more focus. You find out who you are and everything that you can endure. Each period of great discomfort teaches you about your preferences and that your limits are probably lesser than you imagined. Push your mind and body and then adjust. Do that again and again for that is the journey.

See Also: The Call for Change: Time to Step Out of the Comfort Zone

Investment In Your Mentality

ROI or Return on Investment is when you get back what you put in.

You already know about moving beyond your comfort zone – that’s the fun, adventurous part. However, sacrifice is tougher. It is the boring and frustrating part where most people choose to stop.

Note to self: “Don’t stop here.”

You need to understand that there is a long road to travel and that life is a marathon. Chances are you’re just beginning.

Humans are hardwired to want things now. It’s called immediate gratification and it’s a very powerful force. You should be smarter than everyone else, so think! invest in your future and reap your returns as you move forward.

Creating your future most often means sacrificing time with family and friends, working for long stretches in jobs you don’t enjoy, studying and saving your money. We all have limited time, energy and funds, but you must invest those limited treasures so that you can create a future of greater abundance.

Teach Yourself

teach yourself

Stop waiting to be trained! The truth is that you can’t gain knowledge without seeking it. Nobody can teach you anything anyway. They can only help you learn so understand that going through the process alone is one of the effective ways to move on.

When you don’t know something, read about it, work at it or ask questions. Read about new places, research careers that interest you and speak to people with more experience.

The more you explore, the closer you come to understanding who you are and what you’re supposed to be doing. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty because that’s the only way to know if you’re enjoying something. Keep in mind that you are your best mentor.

Big questions that can be helpful:

  • What are you most passionate about?
  • How can you give back to the world?
  • What would you prioritize if money and time were no objects?
  • Can you speak another language?
  • Is travel important to you?
  • What professional experience do you want to gain?

Today, hundreds of companies all over the world will allow you to travel, learn and give back while you continue to explore your passions, develop new skills and discover new interests. Start by helping in disaster relief abroad through All Hands Volunteers, offering your time to provide a better future to the kids in Latin America with Maximo Nivel or help orphaned and abandoned children in Africa and Asia through Orphfund. Your role in the world and your preferences continue to evolve over time, so continue teaching yourself and keep learning!

There Is No Right Time

Time waits for no one, so utilize the time you’ve been gifted. As much as possible, avoid falling trap to time wasters, like TV, social media, people who don’t like you and being negative. Instead, try reading, traveling and being with the people who like you.

Your path in life and your role in the world are only discovered as you work at it. So, work hard! A lot of people miss the idea of fulfillment and happiness because opportunity always looks like hard work.

Instead of thinking that way, engage your mind and body in creating your life’s journey. It won’t be easy and it won’t be perfect. That’s completely fine as it’s not supposed to be.

Thinking about it, waiting, being nervous or scared—these are all personal choices. If you want to move out of a rut, move beyond those choices. You will never regret your adventures if you’re learning new things.

 

The post How To Get Out Of A Rut: 5 Ways To Move On appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Asus skips robots at this year’s Computex event and flaunts super-thin laptops instead

 Remember Zenbo, the cute humanoid robot that stole the show at Asus’ Computex press conference last year? Zenbo was absent from the stage this year, as were ZenFones. Instead, in an unusual departure for the event, which took place today in Taipei, Taiwan, the focus was solely on Asus’ new laptops, with the spotlight shining on the newest additions to its ZenBook line: the ZenBook… Read More

 Remember Zenbo, the cute humanoid robot that stole the show at Asus’ Computex press conference last year? Zenbo was absent from the stage this year, as were ZenFones. Instead, in an unusual departure for the event, which took place today in Taipei, Taiwan, the focus was solely on Asus’ new laptops, with the spotlight shining on the newest additions to its ZenBook line: the ZenBook… Read More