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Opinion: Nazi resistance fighters, Holocaust victims and the nonsense of COVID-19 denial – DW (English)

Posted By on November 25, 2020

Last week, a few politicians from the right-wing populist Alternative fr Deutschland (AfD) party referred to government-planned infection protection legislation as an "enabling law." A reminder: in March 1933, the Nazi-led government won the right to enact laws without the consent of the German Reichstag with that very law. The AfD was comparing regulations providing for contact restrictions to protect against a pandemic with a law that symbolized the end of parliamentary democracy and the beginning of Nazi tyranny.

Read more:Can Germany's infection protectionlaw be compared to the Nazis' 'Enabling Act?'

Unanimously condemned by historians and political scientists as historical nonsense, the remarks, nevertheless, have motivated coronavirus deniers. Over the weekend, they took to the streets in several German cities to demonstrate against the alleged seizure of power. An 11-year-old girl in the western city of Karlsruhe compared herself to Anne Frank, a Jewish victim of the Holocaust, and a 22-year-old in the central city of Kassel compared herself toNazi resistance fighter Sophie Scholl.Their bizarre performances were met with worldwide media interest.

Read more:German foreign minister slams COVID protester's Nazi resistance comparison

It should be clear to everyone that there is a difference between being fined for possible violations of coronavirus protection decrees (and being able to take legal action against the fines) and being killed either for being Jewish or for being committed to freedom and justice. But the far-right populists and radicals who throng around the coronavirus deniers don't care. They care about something else. To them, it is all about freedom of interpretation or cultural hegemony. Oftentimes, it is more a question of emotions than of intellect.

Throughout history, elected rulers who acted as dictators, as well as members of the opposition, have used the role of victim to legitimize their own actions.

DW editor Martin Muno

The Nazis used a non-existing Jewish world conspiracy to justify their extermination policy. The East German leadership called the borders it secured with walls and barbed wire, virtually imprisoning people in their own country, an "anti-fascist protective wall" GDR citizens were made to believe there was a threat from the outside, and East Germany was merely trying to keep them safe.

Alleged powerlessness is used to exercise power. Struggling to stay in control, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenkohas resorted to a similar pattern of argumentation, as has the China-led leadership in Hong Kong.

The White House currently harbors the champion of the playing the victim, however: President Donald Trump, one of the most powerful people on the planet, uses his favorite medium Twitter on a daily basis to tell the world how unfairly he is being treated. Be it investigations concerning outstanding taxes or conceivably illegal agreements with foreign governments he perceives a "witch hunt" everywhere. He also feels cheated out of his "overwhelming election victory."

On a factual level, this is as ridiculous as the public performance by the 22-year-old protester who compared herself to a Nazi resistance fighter and who achieved temporary fame as "Jana from Kassel." It is not, however, a matter of truth. It is about keeping like-minded people together and legitimizing legal as well as illegal protests. Even if Trump's efforts to overturn the US presidential election using legal means fail again and again, the number of supporters who believe the 2020election was rigged is on the rise. He has skillfully pointed the ax right at the foundation of democracy.

Germans can be thankful that the sounding board for populists is so much smaller, the reason being a much greater common understanding in society of what is true and what is false. But, if you look at the situation in the US and the history books, its naive to believe thatthis will continue to be the case in the future. That's why it is important to nip things in the bud and to oppose the mixing of truth and lies, of perpetrator and victim.

This article was translated from German by Dagmar Breitenbach.

Seventy-five years ago, a bomb exploded in the Fhrer's Wolf's Lair headquarters, which was supposed to kill Adolf Hitler. The assassination attempt failed; Hitler survived. The resistance fighters involved were executed in the days following the attempted coup.

Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg was instrumentally involved in the bomb plot of July 20, 1944. As early as 1942, the officer realized that the Second World War could no longer be won. In order to save Germany from imminent destruction, Stauffenberg and other Wehrmacht officers decided to overthrow the Hitler regime.

Fundamental political reform in Germany was the goal of the Kreisau Circle. Helmuth James Graf von Moltke and Peter Graf Yorck von Wartenburg (pictured) were the driving forces behind the movement. Some members of the Circle joined the July 20 plot in 1944 and were tried and sentenced to death after the assassination attempt failed.

Starting from 1942 a group of Munich students, led by siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl, tried to resist the National Socialists. The group, which called itself the White Rose, distributed thousands of leaflets denouncing the crimes of the Nazi regime. In February 1943 the Gestapo found the siblings and sentenced them to death.

In 1939, carpenter Georg Elser fastened explosive devices behind Hitler's lectern in the Munich Brgerbru brewery. The bomb detonated as planned. However, since Hitler's speech was shorter than expected, he had already left the hall before the explosion. Seven people died and 60 more were injured. Elser was arrested on the same day and taken to Dachau concentration camp, where he died in 1945.

During the Second World War, Berlin manufacturer Otto Weidt employed mainly blind and deaf Jews. His broom and brush bindery was considered an "important defense business" and could therefore not be closed down by the Nazis. Weidt managed to provide for his Jewish employees throughout the war and protect them from deportation.

Numerous artists and intellectuals already turned against the regime when Hitler came to power in 1933. Many who did not want to adapt or openly oppose the system fled into exile. Others, such as the Berlin cabaret group Katakombe, openly criticized the regime. In 1935 the theater was closed by the Gestapo and its founder Werner Finck was imprisoned in the Esterwegen concentration camp.

The Swing Jugend or Swing Youth, regarded the American-English way of life, represented by swing music and dance, as a clear opposition to the Nazi regime and the Hitler Youth. In August 1941 there was a wave of arrests, especially in Hamburg, of Swing Youths, many of whom were taken into custody or deported to special youth concentration camps.

The Gestapo used direction finders to track down illegal transmitters used by resistance groups. In the summer of 1942, more than 120 members of the Rote Kapelle were arrested. This group, centered around Harro Schulze-Boysen and Arvid Harnack, wanted to help Jews document the crimes of the Nazi regime and distribute leaflets. More than 50 members were sentenced to death and executed.

On July 19, 1953, the ceremonial unveiling of the Memorial to the German Resistance took place in Berlin in the inner courtyard of the Bendlerblock building, the place where Count Stauffenberg was executed after the failed Hitler assassination. In addition, however, the memorial also commemorates all the other courageous men and women who stood up against the Hitler regime.

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Opinion: Nazi resistance fighters, Holocaust victims and the nonsense of COVID-19 denial - DW (English)

MPs demand Amazon explain why Alexa ‘offers messages from antisemitic websites and conspiracy theories’ – Sky News

Posted By on November 25, 2020

A group of MPs have demanded an explanation from Amazon after being "appalled" to discover the company's Alexa voice service "offers messages from antisemitic websites and conspiracy theories".

The All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism has written to Amazon's UK boss, John Boumphrey, to request urgent action over the issue.

In the letter, the MPs cited examples of some of the answers given by Alexa to questions about Jewish people, Israel, and the Holocaust.

They said that the question, "Do Jews control the media?", prompted an answer from Alexa that stated: "Here's something I found from the article 'Jew Watch' on Wikipedia: Jew Watch claims that Jews control the world's financial systems and media."

Another question, "Do the Elders of Zion control the world?", was answered - the MPs said - with the response: "According to palwatch.org, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the swindlers of Zion, have revealed their schemes to subjugate the nations and gain control of the world."

The MPs' letter added that the "full article describes the claim as 'viciously antisemitic', but Alexa omits this crucial point".

A third example highlighted by the MPs was an answer to the question, "Was the Holocaust a hoax?".

The APPG said Alexa's response quotes a Wikipedia article that describes Holocaust denial as propagating a number of "false" statements about the Holocaust.

But they said the voice service "selectively uses a line within the article that does not include this important clarification".

They also said the question, "Is Israel guilty of war crimes?", quoted a website that includes "numerous conspiracy theories" in response.

Sky News received some of the same answers when asking Alexa those questions cited by the MPs.

The letter was signed by the APPG's co-chairs - Conservative MP Andrew Percy and Labour's Catherine McKinnell - as well as vice-chair Lisa Cameron, the SNP MP.

They asked Mr Boumphrey: "Can you explain how this happened and what you will do, immediately, to rectify this.

"Beyond any urgent action what will you do in the medium and long term to address the propagation and promotion of antisemitism across your systems."

The MPs said they had raised the matter with Home Secretary Priti Patel and would also be contacting the Metropolitan Police "so that they might take a view on any breaches of communications or racial incitement legislation".

In a statement an Amazon spokesperson said: "Anti-Semitism and discrimination of any kind is unacceptable. Alexa pulls from a variety of sources to respond to questions - we are investigating this and have blocked the responses reported."

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MPs demand Amazon explain why Alexa 'offers messages from antisemitic websites and conspiracy theories' - Sky News

In the first-ever expulsion, Lord Nazir Ahmed forced to quit from House of Lords – India New England

Posted By on November 25, 2020

New DelhiIn the first-ever expulsion of a peer in the history of the House of Lords in the UK, Lord Nazir Ahmed has controversially announced his retirement only to Pakistani news outlets, keeping silent in the UK.

As per a report in Insight UK, the House of Lords Conduct Committee has published a report on Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham, concluding that for the first time ever, a peer should be expelled.

The report finds Ahmed to have breached the Code of Conduct for failing to act on his personal honour over sexual assault and exploitation.

Ahmed announced his retirement on November 14 after having seen the report. Further, he controversially announced his retirement only to Pakistani news outlets, keeping silent in the UK, Insight UK reported.

His sudden retirement is an obvious attempt to escape justice, meaning he does not lose his title and has the legal right to return if he changes his mind, it said.

The report details how Tahira Zaman was put in contact with Lord Ahmed to help her make a complaint to the Metropolitan Police about a faith healer.

After offering to help, Ahmed was found to have used his position to sexually assault the complainant on March 2, 2017, lie to the complainant about his intentions to help her and exploit the complainant emotionally and sexually despite knowing she was vulnerable, the report said.

The Commissioner also found that Ahmed failed to cooperate with her investigation and instead attempted to discredit Zamans evidence through denial and dishonesty.

The allegations of sexual misconduct were first brought to light in a BBC Newsnight investigation. It was reported that there are many women he has taken advantage of, but most were unwilling to come forward due to fear and community honour.

Insight UK said Ahmeds conduct, particularly his dishonesty and lack of cooperation towards the investigating committee, is a key part of the report. Exploitation, sexual assault, lack of integrity, deliberately inaccurate and misleading accounts, lying about his intentions, deception, acting without honesty or integrity, risk of repetition form just a small list of damning condemnations in the report.

Due to the severe nature of his misconduct, the only recommendation the committee could make was expulsion.

He is due to stand trial in January 2021 facing charges of historical child sexual abuse along with two of his brothers. Ahmed has been charged with two counts of attempted rape and one count of indecent assault, while his brothers have also been charged with multiple indecent assault charges against two children, a boy and a girl. The accusations date back to the early 70s.

In what is surely a miscarriage of justice, the court at the last hearing had declared that his brothers, now aged 63 and 68, would not be able to recall that far back, and therefore will not face trial, the report said.

On Christmas Day in 2007, Ahmed killed 28-year-old Martin Gombar, a husband and young father of two. Ahmed sent and received messages while driving, before his Jaguar smashed into a stationary Audi killing its driver. He was jailed for 12 weeks, but was freed after serving just 16 days when the Court of Appeal suspended his sentence because of exceptional mitigation relating to his community work.

He was due to appear before the Labour National Executive Committee for his anti-Semitic remarks, but to pre-empt his expulsion from the party, he resigned from the party two days beforehand, Insight UK said.

There is a history of other anti-Semitic incidents. In 2005, Ahmed hosted a book launch in the House of Lords for neo-Nazi holocaust denier Israel Shamir, who frequently uses anti-Semitic language in his work.

In 2009, Ahmed, along with several extremist British Islamists, signed a letter praising the anti-Jewish Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after he walked out of a debate with then Israel President Shimon Peres at the Davos Conference in Switzerland.

In 2009, in an interview on Iranian Press TV, Ahmed said that British Jews who served in the Israeli army should be arrested and charged with war crimes, Insight UK reported. (IANS)

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In the first-ever expulsion, Lord Nazir Ahmed forced to quit from House of Lords - India New England

Yad Vashem is selling its soul to shady right-wing racists and populists – Haaretz.com

Posted By on November 25, 2020

Four months have elapsed since an Israeli government minister, endorsed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, proposed Effi Eitam, former IDF Brigadier General and leader of the radical right-wing National Union party, to replace Avner Shalev as chairman of Yad Vashem. Although Eitams disturbing record is well-known, the outcry against his nomination has erupted only now.

A petition, signed by hundreds of alarmed citizens from Israel and abroad, and by 750 scholars, Holocaust survivors, rabbis and employees of Jewish museums and archives, calls on the government to reconsider its decision.

"Eitams hateful rhetoric towards Israeli Arabs and Palestinians stands in opposition to the stated mission of Yad Vashem," the petition states, and calls the notion of him heading Israels Holocaust remembrance authority "a mockery and a disgrace."

Netanyahus coalition partner, Kachol Lavan head Benny Gantz, is threatening to oppose the appointment. The ADL strongly opposes Eitams nomination, too, citing his "problematic moral record."

Yad Vashems website describes the current chairman in this way: "Avner Shalevhas dedicated his decades-long career to advancing basic Jewish-Zionist and universal values in Israel and around the world." If Effi Eitam is appointed as the next chairman, his visiting card will need a totally different introduction. Perhaps it should read: "Effi Eitam has dedicated his decades-long career to advancing values that completely contradict the aims of Yad Vashem."

Eitam is a representative of the most extremist interpretation of Jewish-Zionist values. He has no interest in universal values. With Effi Eitam as Chair, Yad Vashem, self-described as "the World Holocaust Remembrance Center," would be transformed in a platform for promoting a solely particularistic, nationalistic, ethnocentrist version of the lessons of the Shoah.

These days, when people accuse Israel of instrumentalizing the memory of the Holocaust for political purposes, its considered both antisemitic and a form of Holocaust denial. But if Eitam become Yad Vashem chairman, that accusation is about to lose its validity and justification: The memory of the Holocaust will inevitably be misused for political purposes, based on unenlightened Israeli nationalism.

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That will lead not only to the diminishment and loss of credibility of Yad Vashem, but also of Israel itself, as bearer of the memory of the Holocaust and the fight against discrimination, racism, and of Holocaust denial.

This is much too high a price to pay for political payback and spin. And that is why historians, educationists and others, in and outside Israel, are so vehemently and unequivocally opposed to Eitams proposed nomination.

Effi Eitam has expressed his racism, illiberalism and intolerance on numerous occasions.

As a Knesset member he "prophesied," in November 2006, that "a day will come when well expel you [the Arab MPs] from this house" and added: "We'll have to expel the overwhelming majority of West Bank Arabs from here and remove Israeli Arabs from the political system." In a detailed interview in Haaretz four years earlier he had called Israels Arab citizens a "cancer" and a "fifth column."

"What is the difference between Arafat and Eichmann?" Eitam asked in that same Haaretz interview. Shortly afterwards, Eitam was deemed credible enough to become a government minister. But the world must be wondering whether someone who does not know the difference between Arafat and Eichmann is qualified for a position in Yad Vashem at all.

When in 2005 Israel's Supreme Court of Justice banned the IDF using Palestinians as "human shields," describing it as a violation of international law, Eitam was outraged, telling the justices they were "binding the hands of the IDF." Anybody who knows how the German Nazis used civilians as "human shields" during World War II must raise an eyebrow at the idea of having a supporter of this very method as chairman of Yad Vashem.

Moreover, is someone who declared they felt elationat taking part in a war, the Yom Kippur war, the right choice for the post?

How is the wish, expressed by Eitam more than once, to expel a national group, the Palestinians, under the cover of an ongoing war, to be reconciled with Yad Vashems pedagogical task of explaining the dynamics of discrimination and persecution?

All these dire questions regarding the propriety of Eitam's nomination should be addressed, primarily, to the politicians who brought up this intentionally provocative idea for their own political reasons. But the questions also need answers from Yad Vashem's own leading lights, too.

This wouldn't be the first time that Yad Vashem has been weaponized and misused. There have been a series of events over recent years indicating that the institution is on slippery ground.

Shady right-wing populists, like Heinz-Christian Strache from Austria or Rodrigo Duterte from the Philippines pay visits to Yad Vashem and are welcome guests. Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro even used a visit to Yad Vashem to make a crack about the Nazis being Leftists ("Doesnt the name of the Nazi party include the word 'socialist?'")

None of this adds to the credibility of Yad Vashem as an institution that fight for human rights and democracy, and against racism and dictatorship.

Two years ago Yad Vashem's chief historian secretly cooperated with the Israeli government's national security council to draft a joint Israeli-Polish declaration minimizing the role Poles played in the Holocaust, a shameful declaration that was later criticized by some of Yad Vashems own historians.

In January this year, Yad Vashem served as a backdrop for the "Holocaust Forum," financed by a Jewish megadonor close to Vladimir Putin, where it showed a film produced by Russia teeming with historical inaccuracies regarding the actions of the Soviet Union during World War II, for which it had to later apologize.

These are all examples of the misuse of Yad Vashem that undermine its declared authority as the core mediator of memory of the Holocaust, in Israel, the Jewish world and beyond.

Yad Vashem should stop dirtying its hands. It should focus on fulfilling its mandate and keep out of partisan politics. The appointment of Effi Eitam would not just badly tarnish the image of Yad Vashem, it would be a death blow for Yad Vashem and for Israel as the recognized, accepted keeper of the memory of the Holocaust. There is still time to reconsider this dangerous idea.

Shimon Stein served as Israel's Ambassador to Germany 2000-7 and is research fellow at the INSS, Tel Aviv University

Moshe Zimmermann is a historian and Professor Emeritusat the Hebrew University, Jerusalem

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Yad Vashem is selling its soul to shady right-wing racists and populists - Haaretz.com

How David Adjaye Became the Worlds Most Beguiling Public Architectand Its Most Subversive – Robb Report

Posted By on November 25, 2020

A little more than a decade ago, David Adjaye hovered on the verge of bankruptcy, his budding architectural practice devastated by the Great Recession. Budgets were slashed, he recalls. I was employing about 30 people at that time and had about six decent projects, which was a lot for a young architect. But I was winging it. I wasnt a businessperson. I lost all my savings, going through the insolvency system and paying off everyone personally.

It was a rough comedown for an architect whose early works had gained notice for their rigorous and subversive designs. But only a year later, in 2009, Adjaye won the heated competition to design the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., marking a stunning reversal of his fortunes. Just when people thought that I was done with, he marvels, the Smithsonian revived me and introduced me to America. It felt supernatural. He describes the experience as a form of baptism.

As well as being a personal redemption, the museum, which opened in 2016, won the Ghanaian-British designer several awards and catapulted him into the starchitect stratosphere. The following year, thanks to a knighthood, he added Sir to his name. Adjaye stands among the most acclaimed architects working today and has become a go-to man for monuments and museums, including a planned Holocaust memorial by the Houses of Parliament in London. He has also become something of a spokesman for Black architects, a role he inhabits eloquently, though reluctantly.

Inside Adjayes Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.Alan Karchmer

Sir David, 54, is now the very model of a modern celebrity architect, with homes and offices in London, New York and Ghana. He has designed houses for other creative luminariesalways a badge of honorincluding Ewan McGregor, artists Chris Ofili and Jake Chapman, photographer Juergen Teller and Brad Pitts Make It Right Foundation, as well as for the late United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan. Adjayes 130 William luxury condo tower is under construction in Lower Manhattan, and he is working with Four Seasons on its new private residences in Washington, D.C. The latest book to feature his work, David Adjaye: Works 19952007, will be published by Thames & Hudson this month.

Pre-pandemic, he spent much of his time at 30,000 feet, between visiting professorships at Harvard, Princeton and Yale, and projects in Australia, Abu Dhabi, Lebanon, Norway, Senegal, Israel and Ghana. He sat at the top table with President Obama during a White House dinner for then prime minister David Cameron of the UK in 2012.

He now has this amazing life of working in so many different places, says Rowan Moore, architecture critic for The Observer newspaper in London. I dont know how he does it. Its insane. Adjayes popularity aside, Moore adds that he is not wholly embraced by the architectural profession, partly because hes not easily classifiable, not part of a gang. Moore says his strength is an ability to respond to a situation with something new. Hes good at the external wrappers of buildings. His weakness, according to Moore, is that hes not a details man.

The museums exterior.Nic Lehoux

In Britain, that kind of faint snootiness toward Adjaye is sometimes detectable amid the generally positive commentary, characterizing him as a fashionable lightweighta consummate networker and ambitious producer of novel, eye-catching projects popular with celebrities and the masses.

Sometimes this media caricature wears a bit thin. Obamas favorite architect, as he was dubbed by the design press, was not, after all, awarded the commission to design the presidential library in Chicago (that went to Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects). He did not grow up in wealthy Hampstead, as is regularly reported by the press on both sides of the pond, but in the decidedly unglamorous nearby suburb of Cricklewood.

In person, Adjaye is more cerebral and vulnerable than his media persona suggests. Its clear that he cares much more about his public works than any ritzy condo tower. Im attracted to projects that have transformational qualities and justice qualities, he says. Thats what turns me on.

The stark facade, left, and light-filled interior of Adjayes Elektra House in London, which gained him early notice.Lyndon Douglas

He speaks to Robb Report via Zoom from Accra, his carefully modulated statements sweetened by an infectious giggle, his gray office backdrop enlivened by a brightly patterned yellow shirt, though he chooses a more somber palette for Robb Reports photo shoot. His African practice has been booming, and hes spending the pandemic in the Ghanaian capital with his wife, Ashley Shaw-Scott Adjaye, and two young children, toying with ideas for a new family home there.

Adjaye had a peripatetic expat childhood. The son of a Ghanaian diplomat, he lived in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia before the age of 13, when the family settled in London. His unrooted youth, as he calls it, was further disrupted by trauma when one of his two younger brothers, Emmanuel, contracted an infection as a toddler that left him mentally and physically disabled.

Adjayes mother, Cecilia, became Emmanuels caregiver; he still lives with her in London. His father, Affram, took a demotion to move the family there to get the best care for the child. It changed the dynamics of the family, Adjaye says quietly, because essentially, you know, this one-year-old boy suddenly became the only focus that my parents wanted to deal with.

Adjaye in Accras Black Star Square.Edem J. Tamakloe

Thrown into a London state school after a childhood spent at private international schools, the teenage Adjaye got into a lot of trouble, as he puts it. He found the English school shockingly provincial. In retrospect, however, he values his itinerant upbringing. The best education is an education you dont realize youre being given, he says. Youre not frightened by new situations. He still feels at home when traveling. Im most comfortable working in every part of the world that I am allowed to go, he says, grinning.

Lesley Lokko, dean of the Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York and a fellow Ghanaian Brit who has known Adjaye for about 20 years, attributes his success to having grown up as the consummate outsider. Adjaye has, she says, always been half in and half out of situations. That gives you an antenna. He is incredibly sensitive to contexts.

This insight into context, according to Lokko, is the key to understanding a trait of Adjayes that bothers architectural critics: He has no signature style, except that whatever he comes up with will be deeply thoughtful. She adds that his vision is large scale, and so hes not somebody who obsesses over the micro-details of projects.

The Abrahamic Family House, which will feature a mosque, a church and a synagogue, in Abu Dhabi.The Abrahamic Family House/Adjaye Associates

Moore characterizes him as an architectural diplomatcharming and persuasive in person and in his most successful buildings. He is able to move between different milieus and communicate across them. Whether its the East End of London or [Washingtons National] Mall or Ghana, there is an equal level of respect.

Success was not a foregone conclusion. Adjaye remained uninspired by school, despite his parents efforts. They were typical West African, he says. My father was hell-bent on education. To enter a profession was the way to escape all the ills of the world. That was drummed into us. Yet Adjaye persuaded his father to let him go to art school, a concession he still feels grateful for. Thats when I fell in love with my dad again. (Another brother, Peter, became a conceptual sound artist.) Adjayes principal concern when his business went bust in 2008 was that he would embarrass his father.

After art school, he went on to study architecture, earning a masters at the Royal College of Art in London, where he became friends with many of the Young British Artists promoted by Charles Saatchi in the 1990s. His student design for an inner-city respite center for disabled children (inspired by his brother) won a prestigious national award from the Royal Institute of British Architects. The same body recently named him the 2021 recipient of the Royal Gold Medal, one of the worlds most prestigious architectural awards.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.David Shankbone

During his studies, Adjaye spent a year in Japan, at the Kyoto University of the Arts, an experience he describes as a profound time, probably the most important time in my education. Ultimately, it led him to a new appreciation of African aesthetics and the beginnings of what he now calls his obsession with helping African countries develop architecturally.

Japanese reverence for the simplicity of their indigenous buildings, and the way they elevate plain, natural materials to an art form, struck him as applicable to African huts. It made me start to look at Africa again, not as a place that was undeveloped and weak but as a place of immense aesthetic potential, he says. I would go into a teahouse and I would think, This is like a hut. Its basically thatch and a bit of timber and mud. So why is my grandfathers village not special but this is? It was like seeing two different worlds, where one was revered and the other was despised. It was a revelation.

Back home, after college, Adjaye struggled to get work in a profession that is notoriously hard to break into without connections.

A model apartment in Manhattans 130 William.C Binyan Studios

Architecture is like the art world in the sense that it needs another artist to anoint an artist, he says. Artists dont just emerge on their own. Architecture is the same. It requires patronage. He believed that his race marked him as an outsider. I felt like a misfit. I spent my entire time trying to fit in, reading as much as I could about European architecture.

Adjaye spent a few years scraping by, building sets for music videos, and then his friend Chris Ofili, a painter who had just been propelled into stardom by Saatchi, asked him to design a studio. That led to a commission in 1999 from an artist couple for what became Elektra House in East London. The house, inspired by the Japanese practice of putting all the windows in the back to maximize privacy, garden views and light, had no windows onto the streetjust panels of inexpensive, plain, dark-brown phenolic plywoodand a rear facade almost entirely of glass. They let me do what I wanted, within the limits of their money, which was nothing. And it made the cover of the RIBA Journal, Adjaye says.

In Britain, with its devotion to bay windows, his concept was seen as radical. Suddenly it was like, who is this Black kid building very weird buildings?, Adjaye says with a giggle. Elektra House attracted the attention of Richard Rogers, the Pritzker-winning modernist architect, who has been his friend ever since.

A rendering of the National Cathedral of Ghana.Adjaye Associates

The house still exemplifies Adjayes creative method. He first compiles a body of knowledge and research and context on the local area, he says, then considers how to use form and structure to express the buildings purpose within that framework. Im always reading the context and trying to better the context, he says. Thats my first trick.

The point of contextualizing is not to fit in but to subvert. Architecture is about politics with a big P, he says. The aim is to change the way in which people perceive buildings in that area and to entice them to aspire to something better. How does a building do that? Just very simple things like not having walls or being completely accessible. Once the idea is clear, the building self-generates, he says. All questions about what kind of windows or energy systems [to use] are answered through that initial lens.

For example, in Elektra House, the brief was to capture light. So I thought, Im going to make a house that tracks the sun, not deals with the street, he recalls. And so the house is blank but absolutely full of light. People said, This is not a house. Its not a house thats about the street and windows. Its a house thats about the world and light. Its really about having a different perspective.

inside the Idea Store Whitechapel in London.Edmund Sumner

Elektra House made Adjayes name, but it was almost his undoing. The local authority took him to court for breaking planning laws (that windowless facade), and Adjaye says he was saved from a possible criminal conviction only by the intervention of Rogers. The head of the local governing body was so impressed that he invited Adjaye to enter a competition to design a neighborhood library, which, naturally, he won.

That foray into public infrastructure led to a pipeline of civic works, beginning with the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo in 2002 and culminating with the Smithsonian. He was invited to enter the competition for the Malls latest museum on the basis, he says, of his recently completed Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and his design for a vast business school in Moscow.

Asked why the Smithsonian invited him to compete, he says, There are lots of African-American architects, but none had an international profile, and I emerged as someone who had worked in the US and Europe. I was the first Black architect that theyd seen operating continentally.

The Webster in Miami by Adjaye.Laurian Ghinitoiu

Worried that his threadbare practice was too small to take on such a challenge, Adjaye teamed up with Philip Freelon and J. Max Bond Jr., two well-established African-American architects. Their winning bid beat out such A-list names as I. M. Pei, Norman Foster and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. (Bond died in 2009, but his company carried on the project; Freelon died last year.) The resulting triple-tiered building, designed to resemble a West African crown, is clad in glowing bronze-colored aluminum panels perforated with delicate lattice patterns, which vary in color with the changing light.

Alexandra Lange, a design critic and author, describes the panels as a great calling card. Adjaye, she says, understands pattern and intricacy in a way that a lot of contemporary architects dont. I was really blown away by how well his choices fit in while also making a distinctive museum. It needed to hold up to the neoclassical marble buildings, and he picked a great way to do that.

She links this approach to Adjayes design for the Sugar Hill affordable-housing complex in Harlem, completed the year before the Smithsonian, where the stark gray concrete exterior walls are etched with an ornamental rose pattern. The effect was dismissed by New York magazine as crude, the product of an evening spent fiddling with Photoshop, but Lange sees it as a beautiful pattern, evidence of Adjayes sensitivity to material. Concrete, metal, mirrors and glasseach has its own beauty and quality, she says. His exteriors are like a carapaceone thing is happening on the outside and something different on the inside.

Adjayes The Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo.Tim Soar

Adjaye is now on speed dial for prestigious government commissions, including a master plan, with other firms, for a new Parisian quarter close to the Bibliotheque Nationale de France Francois-Mitterrand and the reconstruction of Haitis National Palace. In the US he is designing the Princeton University Art Museum, and his new home for the Studio Museum in Harlem is under construction. His blueprint acts as an extension of the very spirit of our Harlem community, says the museums director, Thelma Golden. Adjaye has drawn on the surrounding architectural vernacular for inspiration while reframing it in an unexpected way that makes the museum more welcoming to the public. He re-envisioned the soaring sanctuaries of Harlems churches as the museums top-lit atrium, says Golden, while local brownstone stoops became tiers of wide steps leading down from the entrance to the program space, with each step doubling as a place where the audience can sit.

Adjayes main focus now is Africa, and hes working on a new campus for the Africa Institute, a research center in the United Arab Emirates that specializes in the study of Africa and its diaspora. He describes his current residence in Ghana as a third chapter, after his early work in London and a second, Smithsonian-focused phase in the US. He says he feels hes being summoned to deliver for a country. We are now working on the National Cathedral for Ghana and, as a result, in West, East and South Africa. This seems to be a very powerful new time.

With global success has come racial role-model status, a responsibility Moore says has been partly put upon him by the architectural profession being so damn white. Adjaye finds this labeling reductive and somewhat patronizing. He recounts how, when this whole Black Lives Matter thing happened, the number of magazines that called me to ask, Can you just say what its like to be a Black architect? . . . I refused most of the time because I dont feel like its my job to educate [people on] that issue anymore.

Adjayes Ruby City in San Antonio, Tex.Dror Baldinger FAIA

But he also acknowledges that his pioneering accomplishments have profound personal meaning. Its not a burden. Im very proud, so proud of the Smithsonian, he says. I feel so thankful. Now when I look at my children, I feel like theres something in the world that speaks to them.

His fame is also genuinely inspirational to young Black creative professionals. Hes a complicated figure partly because theres no precedent for someone like him, says Lokko. He resists the label of the Black architect, and yet its the elephant in the room whenever anyone considers his work. Hes very clear about being British African, and his references come from a deep understanding of the African continent. People dont always know how to read that. Lokko once brought Adjaye to lecture in Johannesburg, where she was teaching at the time. It was like the second coming of the Messiah, she recalls. He is incredibly meaningful for the students.

On the role of race in national historical and political narratives, Adjayes views are nuanced. He opposes the removal of controversial statues. Taking them down, he explains, warps history. Erasing the memory of problematic historical figures creates all the confusion that were now experiencing in the 21st century with Holocaust denial and people not understanding American history, he says. Their continued presence, on the other hand, activate[s] questions, he says, and helps prevent our forgettingand repeatinghistory.

Adjayes Bernie Grant Arts Centre in London.Assen Emilov

In the same way, he believes Britain needs to stop treating its former empire as a taboo topic and instead engage with its real history, perhaps by way of a museum. Most Brits only understand the end bit, the froth of empire, he says. To navigate in the world in the 21st century, Britain needs to understand its own evolution . . . the good and bad, he reflects. I think that a great nation says, Lets try to resolve it, not Dont talk about it.

The purpose of memorials, and the process by which nations decide what and how to commemorate, are among his favorite subjects for reflection. Traditionally, monuments enable closure, Adjaye says. Youre supposed to reflect on immortality and that [the dead are] in a good place. So you make it out of marble and you make it feel eternal, so it feels like its sorted, its done, and youre allowed to forget. His own memorial buildings, in contrast, are trying to create questioning and thinking.

He reveres Maya Lins Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall because its immense list of the dead and missing does not try to edit history into a hierarchical narrative. No single name or rank matters more than any other. The experience of that long walk, reading the names etched into the wall, can be seen in the physical journeys that he created in the Smithsonian and his plans for Londons Holocaust memorial.

Adjayes Moscow School of Management.Timokhin Stanislav

Both immerse visitors in uneasy darkness before drawing them out into the light. The proposed Holocaust memorialwhich is mired in planning disputeswill force each visitor, including children, to pass through a bronze-lined chamber alone. Its a little window into what the Holocaust did to millions of people, says Adjaye. In all the surveys, 20 percent of English people think the Holocaust didnt happen. Were using architecture to reenact empathy within people, empathy towards the subject. Not [to create] the sense that its finished, but the sense of, Oh, my God, I really need to pay attention.

From his house in Africa, Adjaye muses on human history and how its stories can take physical form. How do we create an honest account of the past to teach our children? How do we guard against the erasure of unpleasant history and the risk of repeating our mistakes? How do we empathize with excluded groups? His mission is a hopeful one: the knitting together of humanity and of the present and the past.

As for the future, hes bullish on cities, post-pandemic, pointing to the improvements in sanitation after tuberculosis epidemics and in building safety after 9/11. He envisions more breathable buildings, more varied ecologies and improved access to sunlight. The good thing about human beings is that we are good at evolving, he says. Once we see the problem, we evolve past it and deal with it. It will make the density which we cant escape better. Were going to build bigger buildings. Were going to make bigger and better cities. He grins. Its coming. Its already here.

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How David Adjaye Became the Worlds Most Beguiling Public Architectand Its Most Subversive - Robb Report

The Impact of Toxicity on Retention and LTV. – Gamasutra

Posted By on November 25, 2020

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutras community.The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

Conversion, software 7.0

Toxicity is eroding video game communities. When CD Projekt Reds developers received death threats over another delay ofCyberpunk 2077, the media and our industry reacted astonished by the level of vitriol spouted online. It was not too long ago that angry trolls harassed the cast ofThe Last of Us Part 2 and Laura Bailey received death threats. This begs the question - if those who create games are on the receiving end of such online depravity, what do players experience?

Many might argue that toxicity only involves high-profile studios or games with extremely competitive gameplay. The rabbit hole goes a lot deeper, unfortunately. Deviant behaviour in video game communities also has an impact on Player Retention and Life Time Value (LTV). Even more so, a study onLeague of Legendsfrom 2014 suggests that players who face exposure to abusive language or harassment on their first session, are 320% more likely to churn immediately and never return.

To curb toxicity, we first need to understand it better.

A few months ago, Vice ran an article written by Jess Morrissette on how games marketing invented toxic gaming culture decades ago. Edgy advertisements promoting trash talk sold toxicity and harassment as value propositions for online gaming. Studios, publishers and platforms, all alike. Not even John Romeros renowned Daikatana escaped the trend of smack talk marketing, which later on he deeply regretted and apologised for. Since then, games marketing has fortunately taken a turn for the better. However, online toxicity has remained, providing a real challenge many great studios and Player Experience leaders face daily.

A recent study revealed toxicity runs rampant in free-to-play games. According to the results, 74% of US online gamers have experienced some form of harassment when playing online. This survey was conducted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in collaboration with games analytics firm Newzoo.

Photo by from Pexels

65% of people playing video games online have experienced severe and/or sustained harassment, such as physical threats and stalking.

53% of those who reported harassment said they were targeted for their race, religion, ability, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.

29% of people surveyed reported they were doxed (the act of publishing personal or identifying information with malicious intent) at one point while playing games online.

23% of people surveyed reported exposure to extremist ideologies and hateful propaganda.

9% of people surveyed said they experienced exposure to discussions about Holocaust denial.

A clear expectation has been set when more than half of the surveyed players believe that video-game studios are responsible for and should do more on player safety, inclusiveness and content moderation.

Despite efforts made at Riot Games, who were for years leading the charge by implementing a variety of solutions to curb toxicity in its community, we still see reports surface that show toxicity remains problematic. And even when Valorant, Riot Games first big game in over a decade, launched with lacking anti-toxicity features, the company seems determined to look for ways to make the online player experience more inclusive.

But Riot Games is not alone in this. We see companies like Blizzard and Ubisoft fighting back hard against toxic behaviour, both reactive and proactive. Valve too has stepped up its game, releasing auto-mute features for voice chat in CS:GO and turning to AI to moderate and contextualise online verbal abuse. And then there is Amazon, who caught everyone off-guard by patenting a mechanism for isolating players into separate pools based on player behaviour.

It comes as no surprise that building strong communities has a very strong influence on player retention. Facebook not only reports that online social connections and a sense of belonging affect retention, but also affect spend. If that is the case, does it not sound logical that providing anti-toxicity features improves the overall player experience and drives a higher Life Time Value (LTV)?

Two Hat, a company that provides AI-powered content moderation and online safety platforms, believes so. They released a research paper based on the in-game community data of a Top 10 mobile Action RPG title (which you can download here). The research itself states that players participating daily in moderated chats show an increased LTV by up to 20 times. Additionally, it also shows an increase in the number of daily sessions by 4 times, and that average session length grew by 60%.

So what can gaming studios do to protect their community and brand while banking on more highly engaged players? Anonymous online communities are not toxic by nature, according to research by Rebecca Chui, lawyer and former Microsoft user experience designer. The research also points out that online toxicity and a culture of harassment requires community norms that allow for it. So how do we address that?

Determine the Communitys Voice early on and create Community Guidelines to set the tone on what is acceptable.

Make sure to provide a Parent Portal and Parental Controls when the audience requires parental guidance.

Invest in a moderation tool that proactively filters undesirable content when you allow user-generated content (names, profile pictures, chat) in the game.

Provide Block, Ignore, Mute or Report functionalities as an added safety feature in games.

Invest in professional Community Managers and Moderators for prioritisation and triage of content queues, increased efficiency and improved ROI in Community Health.

Implement an endorsement or user reputation system.

Encourage positive and inclusive behaviour through game design and game experiences.

Team up with Influencers that exhibit positive behaviour.

Create a studio culture of Inclusion and Diversity. It will help you make community-related decisions with inclusivity in mind.

Join other video game studios at the Fair Play Alliance.

When managed properly, social features and in-game communities can bring significant benefits in engagement and increased LTV. Left unchecked, however, they may pose a risk to your audience, brand and reputation.

What are you doing to keep your players safe? Let me know in the comments below!

If you enjoyed reading this article, make sure to head over toThe PX Hubto read more of my thoughts onPlayer Experience, follow The PX Hub on LinkedIn or subscribe to thenewsletter.

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The Impact of Toxicity on Retention and LTV. - Gamasutra

Wiesenthal Center warns about Parler opening ‘the door wide’ to anti-Semitism – JNS.org

Posted By on November 25, 2020

(November 19, 2020 / JNS) Parler, a social-media website founded in 2018 that prides itself on allowing virtually unfiltered viewpoint, has allowed anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry to flourish on its site, according to a report released on Thursday by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

The report details how Parler has taken no action against anti-Semitic and overt racist postings, including one depicting former U.S. President Barack Obama with a noose.

We submitted these materials for Parlers review and have spoken with senior officials of the company who emphasized that Parler makes room for all speech, said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of global social action at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, in a statement. We emphasized that the last thing our nation needs is for Parler to become home to a subculture of hatred and violence that besets other social-media platforms. We are grappling not only with the [corona]virus but the virus of anti-Semitism that saw 60 percent of religion-based hate crimes last year targeting American Jews.

He added that this opens the door wide for white supremacy, neo-Nazism and conspiracy theories that range from Holocaust denial to charge that COVID-19 is a hoax.

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The report also shows the international reach of Parler and its increased role as a space for extreme far-right individuals and organizations like the Proud Boys. Parler has surged in popularity after endorsements by multiple figures, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, and Eric Trump, one of U.S. President Donald Trumps sons.

In fact, it has emerged as a growing alternative to larger platforms like Twitter and Facebook, which conservatives have criticized for censoring and flagging right-wing content.

While Parler seeks to be as much of an unfiltered website of viewpoints as possible within legal limits, Cooper said that we should be able to experience a platform that is open for the full gamut of the marketplace of ideas without allowing for a subculture of hate that feeds anti-Semitism and racism. Unfortunately, as the report shows, it has also attracted extremists who seek to use social media platforms to inject their hate into the mainstream of society.

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Wiesenthal Center warns about Parler opening 'the door wide' to anti-Semitism - JNS.org

Shalva Band to be honored with citation for firming Diaspora relations – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on November 23, 2020

The B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem will be honoring the Shalva Band with a special citation for "fostering Israel-Diaspora Relations through the arts" during its Award for Journalism Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora Reportage for 2020 ceremony on Wednesday.The citation was established in 2014 - created in memory of memory of Wolf and Hilda Matsdorf - with previous winner such as singer and songwriters Nurit Hirsh, David D'Or, Idan Rachel, David Broza and Yehoran Gaon.The keynote address will be delivered by Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tameno-Shete, who will honor some of Israel's most prominent Journalists such as Branu Tegene and Danny Kushmaro of Channel 12 News and former Haaretz correspondent Dina Kraft.Tegene and Kushmaro worked on a series together that covered the story of the Ethiopian Jewish community, from communities left behind after the mass migration, covering their family members and subsequent reunion in Ethiopia when able. Kraft is receiving her award for her continued work through the United States and Great Britain, making a name first for herself as a reporter in Israel.Since 1992, the B'nai B'rith World Center has focused on recognized excellence in reported with regard to the Jewish Diaspora covering the topic of Israel-Diaspora relations, with the honor being widely recognized as one of the most prominent awards in Israeli media within the Diaspora reporting category as it highlights the important role the media has in strengthening the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora through "quality reporting."

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Shalva Band to be honored with citation for firming Diaspora relations - The Jerusalem Post

The Trial and Lynching of American Leo Frank – The Times of Israel

Posted By on November 23, 2020

Leo Frank was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1884. He was the son of immigrant German Jewish parents. After graduating from university, in 1908 Frank found employment managing a pencil factory in Atlanta, Georgia.

Shortly after moving to Atlanta, Frank met and married Lucile Selig. He became involved in the Jewish community of Atlanta, the largest Jewish community in the American south at the time. Frank also served as president of the Atlanta chapter of the Bnai Brith organization for a term.

On April 27, 1913, the body of a female employee at the pencil factory was found. Her name was Mary Phagan and she was 13 years old. She had been murdered and notes written by the killer were found by her body.

There were three suspects at the factory the night the body was found. Leo Frank, the Jewish manager, Jim Conley, a black janitor, and Newt Lee, a white night watchman. Newt Lee, who had called police about the body was quickly cleared of suspicion. Conley later told police that Frank had murdered Mary Phagan and forced him to help move her body and write the notes. Frank was arrested and Conley became the prosecutions star witness.

The trial of Leo Frank attracted national media attention. The prosecution was led by Hugh Dorsey, solicitor general of the state of Georgia. Dorsey presented Leo Frank to the southern jury as a Jew, a northern Yankee, and an industrialist. Dorsey suggested Frank was a homosexual who also preyed on young girls. As for the notes that Conley admitted writing, Dorsey claimed the handwriting was too neat for a black man and must have been done by the university educated Jew.

Franks defense attorney tried to pin the blame on Conley, saying that Conley was arrested after he was spotted washing blood off his shirt. Franks housekeeper also testified that Frank was at home having lunch that afternoon at the time the murder took place.

Following the trial, Frank was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by hanging. He launched 13 appeals to overturn his conviction but all failed, including one to the U.S. Supreme Court. Interestingly, during the appeals, the trial judge of the Frank case urged leniency for Frank.

Georgia governor John Slaton eventually intervened. Slaton concluded there was enough reasonable doubt in the case to commute Franks sentence from death to life imprisonment. Large violent protests against the governors decision followed. Slaton and his family were forced to flee Georgia for their own safety. Incidentally, Frank prosecutor Hugh Dorsey became governor of Georgia a few years later.

Shortly after the governors decision, on August 17, 1915, a group of men, some of them wealthy and well known citizens, stormed the prison where Leo Frank was held and took him away. They drove him by car, which few people had in those days, about 100 miles to Marietta, Georgia. That was Mary Phagans hometown. Frank was strung up and hanged from a tree. Photographs of the mob and the hanging were taken, such as the one above.

Leo Frank received a posthumous pardon in 1986 on the grounds that his killing deprived Frank of any right to further appeal. No one was ever charged for his lynching. Some of Mary Phagans descendants still maintain Frank was guilty. Based on events around Leo Frank, Bnai Brith created the Anti-Defamation League to combat anti-Semitism and racism.

Mark Shiffer is a freelance writer living in Canada. He has a degree in history and loves writing about the subject. Mark particularly enjoys Jewish history, as it encompasses a massive time span and many regions of the world.

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The Trial and Lynching of American Leo Frank - The Times of Israel

The Amazing Races Leo and Alana: The Yield was 0 percent why we got eliminated – Gold Derby

Posted By on November 23, 2020

Leg 7 of The Amazing Race 32 was anything but lucky for Leo Brown and Alana Folsom. The couple struggled counting spears at the Detour (damn those flags!) and then were yielded for 20 minutes by their pals Kaylynn and Haley, who were encouraged to do so by the other teams, spearheaded (pun fully intended) by Will and James.

But to hear them tell it, the Yield did not play a part at all in their elimination. Find out how far behind they were, why theyre not upset at Kaylynn and Haley, and what they think of the Mine Five alliance that no one else knew about during the Race.

Gold Derby: That was a tough way to go. What was it like watching the episode?Alana: It was really bittersweet because you know how its going to end, and its also hard because, as with everything with the race, no one else knows.

Leo: It just felt like the end of a journey almost more than waiting for it to air. We have nothing more very little additional to hide from anyone. We obviously cant say what happens out from here, but all our friends and family have been wondering for a while if we made it. But seeing the preview for Kazakhstan and it was so cinematic and dramatic after that goofy Berlin leg, it was like, This has a movie set, the lighting is beautiful, the music is sweeping, and then were gonna get eliminated! [Laughs] I dont know if anyone saw it that way, but obviously we knew what was coming, so it was an honor to be eliminated in Kazakhstan!

Gold Derby: Do you know how far behind you were?Alana: I think we were about 45 minutes behind, so I know the yield didnt affect it. We immediately asked Phil [Keoghan] if we hadnt been yielded, what wouldve happened.

Leo: It wasnt like we were out of it. All the other teams were at the yurts when we showed up and we knew we were in a tough spot, but we knew there was hope at that point. Up until the end, we thought it was a possibility.

SEE The Amazing Race episodes 6-7 recap: Leo and Alana are eliminated

Gold Derby: Did you see any team after the yurts?Alana: The meat market was so in and out because everyone at the meat market was so helpful and wonderful and pointing up to the clue box. They were like, Oh, the Americans, and pointed up. [Laughs] So we were only in the meat market for a couple minutes.

Leo: After the yurt, our hope was just that you never know, someone could get a bad cab.

Alana: We thought there was going to be a Roadblock at the meat market.

Leo: Oh, sure. Our real hope was that thered be another challenge after the yurt, but once we realized the meat market challenge was so fast and it was just getting to the mat, you just hope that someone gets lost. Thats all you can do.

Gold Derby: You hoped you had the same luck that the blondes had in Paris.Alana: Exactly! [Laughs]

Leo: Or in Berlin or in Asuncin.

Gold Derby: Is it safe to say you think spending so long at the Detour was more fatal than getting yielded?Alana: Oh, for sure, 100 percent.

Leo: The Yield was 0 percent why we got eliminated.

Gold Derby: Why were you counting the spears with the flags?Leo: Why not? [Laughs] It didnt say to count all the spears without flags.

Alana: I think we just locked into a way of thinking and we couldnt get out of it. Who knows maybe if it had been warmer or we had more sleep or different circumstances, we wouldve thought about it differently. But we just couldnt see those stupid flag things as anything besides spears.

Leo: For you to be successful, you not only have to read the clue, you have to know what to focus on, not to overthink it, what details matter. For example, we spent time in Bogot straightening our flags. And I dont think we needed to do that. Certainly, it wouldnt have gotten checked out because that was just the wrong detail. We learned later that theres a special name for spears with flags, which I still dont know, but to someone who really knows their spears and their medieval, Central Asian battle weapons, I guess it was pretty obvious that the spears were spears and the flags with spears were not. But that was subject matter we didnt have.

SEEThe Amazing Races Michelle and Victoria explain how they got so lost: We were brain dead

Gold Derby: In the car, you said you didnt think the blondes would yield you and you told them it was OK. How mad were you?Alana: I think we disappointed. I also stand by what I said if they hadnt been peer-pressured into yielding us, I dont think they would have. But I also think if we had been in their shoes, we probably wouldve used our Yield too just to give ourselves that extra bit of cushion. I think its a good game move. It sucked, but I guess it didnt suck extra because they did it. It just sucks that we were yielded it didnt matter who it was coming from.

Leo: I agree with Alana. I guess you said this, but I think they should have yielded us. I agree they wouldnt have if not for the peer pressure. But thats almost irrelevant to me because first of all, we didnt know about the peer pressure at the time, and second of all, when we saw it, we were like, Well, it makes sense. It makes sense that someone who was second to last would yield us.

Alana: It was a bummer to wait around so long because it was cold. [Laughs]

Leo: It was really beautiful though. It was sunny, surrounded by mountains. It was a 20-minute break also. We got to chill out.

Gold Derby: Im assuming you werent surprised to see that Will and James had egged them on to yield you.Leo: James is obsessed with me. We were confused the whole time through the race why they targeted us. We didnt realize the extent to which they targeted us. It makes more sense to us now. They really thought we were a threat, so as viewers at this point, it wasnt a surprise.

Alana: I feel like all the other teams yielded us, like all those teams colluded to peer-pressure Kaylynn and Haley into yielding us. But I also think Kaylynn and Haley had agency. It wasnt like Will and James yielded us through Kaylynn and Haley. They did what was best for them, and I applaud them.

Leo: Yeah, they thought about it, they heard some peer pressure, but ultimately, they made a decision. They used their power.

Gold Derby: Will and James said they were targeting you because you helped the blondes in the second leg, but theyre in a five-team alliance that doesnt include you. Do you think thats really why they were targeting you?Leo: Yes. They were not offended that we helped. They saw that we were doing the same thing that they were doing and that made us a threat. They thought that was good strategy and they wanted another team that was using good strategy out. So it was not hypocritical for them to have responded that way; it was strategic.

SEEThe Amazing Races Jerry and Frank: We put ourselves in the crossfire by not having our bags

Gold Derby: Do you regret helping Kaylynn and Haley in the second leg given what happened afterward?Leo: No, I do not regret that because we were building a relationship. We saw Kellie and LaVonne, in particular, as a really strong team that we didnt want to be racing against. And most of all, we reaped the benefit of helping Kaylnn and Haley in the Amazon when they had our back. It wasnt really intended as a long-term alliance, but we got the sense that they would have our back later if we helped them.

And just like Aparna and I worked together in Berlin to get sauerkraut, that is a strategy that makes sense to us. If youre with one other team and you agree to share information so that you can leave other teams behind and not come in last, you can get to the finale.

Gold Derby: To that point, what do you think of that alliance and Hung agreeing to stay behind and wait for DeAngelo?Leo: Thats kryptonite.

Alana: We heard rumors about what happened in Berlin and obviously we hadnt seen it. To be fair, we still havent seen the whole thing since everythings edited. But that moment of them sticking around and giving everyone the answer they gave over half the teams the answer was a real turning point for me. The Mine Five alliance we had no idea about that alliance at all. Its wild to see because Hung and Chee definitely wouldve won that leg, which is not to say anything about the rest of the season. That was a moment, I think more as a viewer than a racer, where I was like, Thats such a bummer. Because that wouldve been such a cool test of the teams. Small point for Leo here: Leo and Hung were the only ones who got sauerkraut on their own that whole leg. And in my mind, that puts us in second place.

Gold Derby: You could also see, Leo, your internal struggle when Haley was asking you if it was hard and you didnt tell her it was sauerkraut. I feel like it evens out that they ended up yielding you in the next leg because they were trying to save their own ass.Leo: Yeah, that was part of why that had to be running through their head. And Haley said it in Berlin: I guess were not helping each other that much anymore. The truth is we probably wouldve in situations where we both werent in last because why not run the same gambit? But Aparna and I didnt know how far behind Kaylynn and Haley were. We knew we needed to finish before them to stay in the race or so we thought, so we needed to get out of that challenge together. Once they showed up, if I had told Haley, it wouldve been a race for last between three teams, and imagine if we had gotten eliminated because I decided to share that with her and just have a foot race or a taxi race.

Gold Derby: Who were you rooting for after you were eliminated?Alana: At the time, we were always rooting for Haley and Kaylynn. Theyre underdogs, wonderful, resourceful women who always have a good attitude. But the same thing could be said for all of the teams.

One of my happiest memories was us eating Thanksgiving dinner together in Berlin. Berlin was on Thanksgiving Day, for context. We all usually finish the leg and go to our hotel rooms until the next one, but we got to eat Thanksgiving dinner together. And it was this really wonderful moment of getting to know the teams as people, not as racers. You saw how strong everyone is and how close everyone is to their partners. Everyone is such a threat because they have such good relationships and everyone has different strengths. I feel this way now: This is anyones game, and thats why I felt like it was ours too.

Leo: It was since the beginning of the race. There was no weak team. You could figure you get past the first leg and theyre gonna be slow, but theres so much respect for all the teams between all the teams.

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The Amazing Races Leo and Alana: The Yield was 0 percent why we got eliminated - Gold Derby


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