- 2018-02-20 06:28:46 UTC
- 2018-02-20 00:28:46 -06:00 at epicenter
- 15.632°N 94.729°W
- 51.42 km (31.95 mi)
#Earthquake Detected! – M 4.8 – 67km S of San Francisco del Mar, Mexico
#Earthquake Detected! – M 4.8 – 67km S of San Francisco del Mar, Mexico
#Earthquake Detected! – M 4.7 – Palau region
Your burning outrage about the Parkland school massacre is already starting to flicker. The special counsel’s indictments of the Russian hacker operation, and President Donald Trump’s dizzying response to them, is competing for your attention (“This is code red” says New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman). And what’s that shiny object over there? A case for impeaching Justice Clarence Thomas? (“Drop everything and read this” urged HuffPost Editor-in-Chief Lydia Polgreen.)
Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association and its allies are maintaining their maniacal focus. Rush Limbaugh went on Fox News, right after an interview with several Parkland survivors critical of the gun lobby, to scold those who “bash the NRA” and insist the only solution to school shootings is “concealed carry in the schools.” The NRA’s 24-7 streaming network NRATV echoed the sentiment with the familiar refrain, “we need more good guys with guns.” Hosts complained that the school had only one armed guard, while advertising the NRA’s “School Shield” security initiative to freshly terrified school administrations.
Why does the NRA always win, despite the repeated national traumas, and despite poll after poll showing a majority in favor of stronger gun control measures? It’s not the money. It’s because the NRA has built a movement that has convinced its followers that gun ownership is a way of life, central to one’s freedom and safety, that must be defended on a daily basis.
The gun control majority gets worked up only in the days after public mass shootings, even though such events accounted for only 71 of the 38,658 annual gun fatalities in 2016. Then the news coverage shifts, political prospects for action diminish, and the majority gravitates to other political matters while guns continue to take lives in suicides, domestic violence incidents, other crimes and accidents every day.
Since the progressive political prism views campaign cash as the scourge of democracy, gun control proponents are quick to blame NRA donations for why Congress seems immune to public opinion. In a powerful speech last week in Florida, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior Emma Gonzalez excoriated “politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this” and added, “To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you.”
But it’s a mistake to attribute the NRA’s success entirely to its campaign spending. The dollar amount was considerable in 2016: $54.4 million. But that money was not spent on the entire Congress. Thirty million went to Donald Trump, the rest mainly to six Republican Senate candidates in competitive races, five of whom won. For most members of Congress, the amount of money they get from the NRA is a tiny percentage of their overall hauls. If money were the only reason for their gun rights stances, Michael Bloomberg could offer to double whatever the NRA gives them and flip their votes.
To beat the NRA at its own game, the gun control movement needs to better understand how the NRA has built an army of single-issue voters.
NRATV is a new piece of the puzzle, having been launched only in late 2016. But it’s a window into the culture that the NRA has nurtured for decades. Every minute, the network pumps out a message that can be delivered regardless of external events: Liberal elites want to take away your guns and freedom. Terrorists and criminals lurk everywhere and you need to know how to defend yourself. And by the way, look how cool guns are and how powerful they make you feel!
Some shows are standard conservative political talk show fare, with hosts who wear T-shirts emblazoned with “Socialist Tears” and mock mainstream media figures for alleged bias (the network is particularly obsessed with CNN’s Don Lemon).
Other shows are more like reality TV, such as “Love at First Shot,” which follows women novices as they get firearms training for “hunting, personal protection and competition” and learn the “lifestyle and cultural elements of being a gun owner.” The show “Noir” recently offered a slow-motion tutorial on how to be that “good guy with a gun” if you’re in a movie theater when a mass shooter enters. “They don’t always talk about gun issues,” gun policy expert Dr. Robert Spitzer said of the network to Time magazine, “It’s about beliefs and how people view the world.”
Who knows how many watch NRATV—the point is that it’s a distilled version of the message the gun lobby has been pushing into the culture for decades. That worldview keeps the NRA on-message when events don’t cooperate. But for frustrated and desperate gun control advocates, mass shootings goad them into chasing marginal proposals that have a real, or perceived, link to the immediate crime.
The Columbine school shooting prompted activists to prioritize the “gun show loophole” since the killers bought guns at a gun show where a background check wasn’t required. The Charleston church massacre led to calls to close the “Charleston loophole,” which allows someone to get a gun if a background check isn’t completed after three days. After the Las Vegas massacre, many demanded a ban on “bump stocks” that allow for more rapid firing.
Not only did activists fail to enact these policy ideas, the ideas, however laudable, don’t have much relevance to the vast majority of gun deaths. They can’t help motivate people after memories of the last massacre fade.
Gun control proponents don’t necessarily have to emulate the NRA and, say, launch a TV network. But they might consider marshaling the financial resources of Bloomberg, and other multimillionaires, and emulating one of the most successful public service advertising campaigns in history: the anti-tobacco “truth” campaign.
Hundreds of millions have been spent since 2000 by what is now called the “Truth Initiative” on edgy ads that turned teenage perception of what smoking represents from cool rebellion to corporate dishonesty. The ad campaign is not the sole reason, but it is widely credited for helping drive smoking levels among teens down from from 23 percent to 6 percent.
Like the tobacco industry, the NRA has been cultivating an image of guns as a source of freedom and cool, with the extra value of protection from grievous harm. A large-scale countercampaign could help reverse that image, highlighting the damage guns do every day: the depressed never getting another chance for mental health services, the children dying from home accidents, the domestic abuse victims who never could escape. Other spots could depict life where guns are controlled around the world, to show what is possible. A partnership with Hollywood could bring gun issues into more TV shows and movies, similar to how Hollywood was successfully pressured to stop making cigarettes look cool.
Such a campaign would have two main objectives: In the short run, keep the gun control majority engaged on a daily basis, and in the long run, reduce the demand for guns in areas where the NRA exerts political influence.
As heartwarming as it is to see high school students organize anti-gun marches, they are no more likely to be successful in busting the NRA narrative, or separating politicians from NRA money, than the parents of Columbine and Sandy Hook. The gun rights community is steeled against succumbing to sympathetic victims, as they have convinced themselves that they are above the politics of knee-jerk emotion.
Social conservatives are fond of the insight, “Politics is downstream from culture.” There is a big gun-rights culture that has a grip on our politics. Until there is a gun-free culture that can rival what the NRA has cultivated over decades, no national trauma, no matter how searing, is going to move the political needle.
Keen to use plenty of GIFs in your text conversations, social media interactions, or even your work? If you can’t find the the perfect one somewhere like Giphy, it’s pretty easy to make your own, providing you know how. We take a look at the best options out there for your smartphone.
GIFs are a fun way to communicate an emotion, joke, or sentiment in a way that’s eye catching, compact, and conveys more than a simple emoticon can. Who hasn’t been inspired by a cuddly cartoon character offering a hug? Or a bedraggled Keanu Reeves offering a supportive thumbs up? Or a perfectly looping Nyan Cat?
Here’s our favorite picks for creating GIFs through your iOS or Android phone so you turn video clips, photo sequences, and more into custom GIFs.
GIF X is free and verysimple to use. Simply import a video from your camera roll and start tweaking the clip to your liking. You can add numerous effects and masks to customize the look of the GIF, including adjusting opacity or size to suit a specific need.
Want to import GIFs from Giphy? That’s an option too. which offers a bit of flexibility in GIF selection. You can always choose to save as a movie file rather than a GIF which can be useful in certain situations. The focus is very much on flexibility, making it a good all rounder for folks who want to play around with GIFs but aren’t sure where to start.
The app’s focus is on helping you convert your videos and still images into GIFs and the way it goes about it is distinctly quirky stuff—just look at those screenshots—with options to add silly stickers, texts, and frames to your images. It’s quirky, it’s fast, and it’s definitely appealing to people with limited experience with image editing.
GIF Maker is particularly great if you’re one of those people that loves to share cute personal GIFs with friends and family. (Yes, I’m talking about myself.) You can create a GIF from a photo, video, or live photo, before adding a fun caption to highlight a certain occasion. The easy meme-style captioning opens up your designs to cute things about love, a fun happy birthday message, or a simple ‘It’s Friyay!’.
While it’s not going to be quite as practical as some of the other GIF making apps we’re showcasing, GIF Maker is a lot of fun when it comes to making a more intimate or personable GIF. There’s the usual selection of options for tweaking frame speeds, or adding filters too.
Not to be confused with the iOS app of the same name, this one is a little more rudimentary looking but just as useful. Through it, you’re able to cut and crop videos, as well as create a GIF from series of static images.
Both methods are pretty simple and it’s easy to tweak frame speed to get the desired effect. Once past that stage, it’s just as simple to add color effects, different fonts, and so forth. Filters can also be applied (but do expect a bit of an Instagram experience with intense filters you may want to tone down a bit). Once you’ve wrapped things up, there are plenty of different sources you can upload to including Giphy, Imgur, or simply send them over to your friend via your favorite social network.
Camera MX‘s focus isn’t so much on making GIFs from cartoons or videos you’ve grabbed from external sources. Instead, the focus is on bringing your photos to life. The app includes a “Live Shot” function that is very similar to the Live Photo feature on iPhones. Not only can you turn those Live Shots into GIFs but you can also scrub forwards and backwards within them to capture exactly the moment you want to immortalize as a GIF.
It won’t be for every situation as it’s squarely focused on photography rather than meme creations, but for those moments where you’re capturing memories and not just goofing around, it’s ideal.
All the other apps we’ve highlighted are based around the idea of using existing photos or videos to make a GIF. Pixel Animator takes a radically more hands on approach: you create every single pixel of a GIF. It’s a powerful little tool for Android that helps you create little sprites much like if you were sketching out drawings in a flip book.
It’ll definitely take some practice to truly master and certainly won’t appeal to those keen to finish things quickly, but it’s satisfying stuff. In the free version, you can create a 15 frame GIF and for a few bucks you can unlock unlimited frames. For those feeling restricted by current GIF options, it’s a ton of fun.
The U.S. Secret Service has denied a report that an agent was forced to tackle a Chinese security official after he tried to detain the American military officer carrying the U.S. nuclear launch codes during President Donald Trump’s visit to Beijing in November.
“FACT CHECK: Reports about Secret Service agents tackling a host nation official during the President’s trip to China in Nov 2017 are false,” the Secret Service tweeted Monday.
On Sunday, Axios reported that a skirmish happened when Chinese security services tired to interfere with the U.S. military aide carrying the so-called “nuclear football” — a briefcase containing the nuclear launch codes, with which the president of the United States can order a nuclear strike at any time from anywhere in the world. According to Axios, the American officer was allegedly prevented from entering the Great Hall of the People with President Donald Trump during his visit to China. The football is supposed to stay near the president at all times.
FACT CHECK: Reports about Secret Service agents tackling a host nation official during the President’s trip to China in Nov 2017 are false
— U.S. Secret Service (@SecretService) February 19, 2018
The Axios post, which cites five sources, claims the incident led to the Chinese apologizing.
The U.S. Secret Service did not immediately return calls seeking comment Monday.