Michael O’Neill :- Explaining and Exploring the Miraculous

Author :- Sam Scott
Magazine :- Stanford Magazine
Link

Story

Squint your eyes and Michael O’Neill’s emergence as the “Miracle Hunter” could resemble a typical Silicon Valley tale of pluck and ingenuity. He is, after all, just another Stanford engineering student who went deep with his research, parlayed the results into an innovative website and ran off to a future no one could have imagined a few years prior.

But the details . . . well, O’Neill would be the first to admit his professional life hardly fits a mold. “It’s such a weird topic I’ve devoted my life to,” he says. “If anybody talks to me funny, I hardly blame them.”

O’Neill, ’98, is an expert in miracles—the supernatural Christian kind, not the metaphors for last-gasp touchdowns or billion-dollar start-ups. It’s a multimedia pursuit that includes hosting his own radio show and television series on Catholic networks, conducting research, writing books and providing punditry on secular stages like the Dr. Oz Show and Megyn Kelly Today. And notwithstanding the occasional self-deprecating remark, he takes miracles very seriously.

“I call him the Virgin Mary’s number cruncher,” says Maureen Orth, a longtime writer for Vanity Fair who contacted O’Neill while working on a story for National Geographic about the worldwide devotion to Mary, the Biblical mother of Jesus and the most frequent subject of apparitions. O’Neill provided her with centuries of data to create a global map of thousands of supposed Marian apparitions sorted by their official status, from a small number of sanctioned miracles to the largest group of unconfirmed sightings. “I really respected him because he was very fact-based.”

Miracles—healings, apparitions, bleeding Eucharistic hosts, etc.—may seem a strange business for a mechanical engineer whose education was steeped in the properties of the physical world. For his senior product design project, O’Neill created a photovoltaic umbrella capable of soaking up enough solar rays to run a stereo on the beach, nothing to sniff at in the dawn before iPods and Bluetooth speakers.

Contrary to a lot of people’s expectations, the church is dubious of supernatural claims. It typically investigates them with an eye toward ending the distraction.
But an even higher power had always fascinated O’Neill, who grew up near Chicago in a devout family that placed divine intervention at the center of its lore. O’Neill’s grandmother had lost her faith decades earlier, going so far as to throw away rosary beads and statues. In response, his mother, then a child, prayed for the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the widely venerated appearance of Mary to a Mexican peasant nearly five centuries prior. When his grandmother returned to the church, his mother pledged herself to retelling the story every year at the feast celebrating the appearances.

It was only at Stanford, though, that O’Neill’s more formal interest in miracles began. His junior year, he took an archaeology class that required him to research an artifact that had impacted the world. He chose the tilma, or cloak, belonging to the man who saw Our Lady of Guadalupe. The cloak, according to believers, was miraculously emblazoned with an iconic image of Mary, starting a devotion that is credited with the conversion of Mexico’s Native population.

In the many hours he spent in Green Library for that project, O’Neill says he began delving into how the Catholic Church reacts to claims of miracles, which were far more common and scrutinized than he had known. Contrary to a lot of people’s expectations, the church is dubious of supernatural claims. It typically investigates them with an eye toward ending the distraction, embracing a scant few only after long inquiry.

Indeed, it’s semi-miraculous that anything ever gets sanctioned as a miracle, O’Neill says. But some do, and this mix of faith, skepticism and, ultimately, certainty intrigued him. “I just couldn’t believe that the institution would stick out its neck and say there were actual miracles happening in the world.”

A year later, when then-provost Condoleezza Rice gave his graduating class some parting advice—“Become an expert in something. Find your sliver of the universe and own it”—O’Neill felt a jolt of inspiration. After graduation, he started MiracleHunter.com as a centralized spot for his research into all things miraculous, adopting a more matter-of-fact approach than the pious tone he’d found elsewhere and creating a depository of information on the topic he says is unrivaled online.

Still, it was primarily a personal hobby aimed at expanding his own knowledge and one he kept secret from friends, girlfriends and even his mother. When people emailed him, he replied as Miracle Hunter, or “M.H.,” mindful of being lumped with UFO and Bigfoot believers.

By day, O’Neill worked for—and later led—the visual communication department of a consulting firm; his graphics and simulations were used in courtroom trials to explain engineering failures. By night, he turned to another realm altogether. “I didn’t want my name out there,” he says. “I was a reputable engineer. I didn’t want to confuse these two worlds too much.”
O’Neill travels the world to interview believers about their miracle claims.Photo: Courtesy Michael O’Neill

But in time, he let the word out to his inner circle and started to get speaking invitations, finding that even skeptics were curious to hear him out. Over the years, O’Neill has adopted an increasingly public presence focused entirely on miracles, much to the occasional bemusement of old acquaintances. “I get some pretty funny emails from old Stanford classmates and friends who say, ‘This is an interesting turn.’”

Of course, nobody hands you a turnkey career as a miracle hunter. O’Neill’s profile has grown thanks to a variety of roles he’s stitched together with a dose of earthly grit. “He beat me down over a three-year period to get a show on the air,” says the Rev. Francis Hoffman, executive director of Relevant Radio, a nationwide Catholic radio network where O’Neill hosts a weekly show, The Miracle Hunter. “What he’s done is 99 percent hard work.”

Hoffman calls O’Neill “an engineer at heart.”

“[T]hat’s the discipline he brings to it,” Hoffman says. “He seems to dominate all the facts when he’s talking about these things. He’s not sensationalist at all. I think that gives him a certain credible following.”

O’Neill’s career involves both explaining and exploring miracles. He’s been as far as the Philippines to interview believers, but he found one of his most engaging cases in his own Chicago backyard—a 20-something man whose recurrent wounds on his feet, hands and head defied his doctors’ explanations, and appear in O’Neill’s eyes to be stigmata, the miraculous appearance of the wounds of Christ.

In other cases, O’Neill allows that more secular explanations may be at play. A few years ago, he tested soil from El Santuario de Chimayo, a New Mexican sanctuary where abandoned crutches and wheelchairs testify to those who say they have been healed by the holy dirt. O’Neill says it’s possible the cures are more about the belief of the healed than anything intrinsic to the location. But he sees overlap between the placebo effect and the power of faith. “Where the line is between those two, we don’t know.”

He readily agrees that the vast majority of miracle claims have material explanation. Part of his job is tamping down the enthusiasm of those too eager to believe in the supernatural, he says. But the many false positives only make it all the more powerful when something passes the church’s scrutiny, he says. He knows how much effort went into trying to avoid that conclusion. Miracles aren’t the center of his faith, but they’re a way to show a hidden God reaching out.

“If I can somehow prove to myself that miracles are in fact happening around the world,” he says, “then that connects me to God somehow.”

Sam Scott is a senior writer at Stanford.

Links

  1. Magazine
    • Michael O’Neill Explains and Explores the Miraculous :- The Virgin Mary’s ‘Number Cruncher’
      Link
  2. Michael O’Neill
    • Miracle Hunter

Videos

  1. Dr. Oz
    • The Mystery of Miracles
      • Profile
        • Medical miracles are astounding and have no explanation but what makes an event miraculous? Dr. Oz welcomes author Michael O’Neill to discuss the parallels between science and religious belief.
          GUESTS: Michael O’Neill , Devon Franklin , Valerie Paters , Marilyn Denis,  Daphne Oz
      • Videos
  2. Rome Reports
    • ROME REPORTS – French fictional film explores Marian apparitions
      • Videos
        • Video #1
          Channel :- ROME REPORTS in English
          Published on Sep 14, 2018
          Link
  3. NBC
    • Today Show
      • Woman Says Her Tumors Disappeared After Visiting Religious Wisconsin Shrine | Megyn Kelly TODAY
        • Profile
          • Megyn Kelly speaks with Nancy Foytik, who was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. After visiting Wisconsin’s National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, the only place in the U.S. recognized by the Catholic church as a site where the virgin Mary appeared, Nancy’s tumors on her left lung disappeared. “We just knew when I walked out of the chapel that day that I was going to be cured,” she said.
        •  Videos
  4. Our Lady of Fatima
    • EWTN
      • EWTN News Nightly – October 5, 2016 “Our Lady of Fatima”
        • Profile
          • EWTN News Nightly – October 5, 2016 “Our Lady of Fatima”
        • Videos
          • Video #1
            Channel :- EWTN ( The Eternal Word Television Network )
            Published On :- 2017-April-20th
            Link
      • Miracles of BI. Francisco and Jacinta
        • Profile
          • Miracles of Bl. Francisco and Jacinta who will be made saints on May 13th.
        • Videos
          • Video #1
            Channel :- EWTN ( The Eternal Word Television Network )
            Published On :- 2017-April-20th
            Link
  5. Our Lady of Good Help
    • Profile
      • Belgian
      • Only approved approved appropriation in the United States
      • Year Occurred :- 1859
    •  EWTN
      • EWTN News Nightly – August 22, 2016 Our Lady of Good Help
        • Profile
          • EWTN’s Brian Patrick interviews “Miracle Hunter” Michael O’Neill about the recent news of the Church-approved apparition site Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Wisconsin receiving National status.
        • Videos
          • Video #1
            Channel :- Miracle Hunter
            Published On :- 2017-August-20th
            Link
  6. Miracle Hunter
    • How the Catholic Church Validates Medical Miracles
      • Profile
        • How does the Church verify miracles used to elevate holy persons to the canon of the Saints? Join “Miracle Hunter” Michael O’Neill as he details the rigorous process used by the Catholic Church to verify medical miracles at the famed Marian apparition site of Lourdes and those attributed to the intercession of those on the path to sainthood.
      • Videos
        • Video #1
          Channel :- TheMiracleHunter
          Published On :- 2017-Feb-11th
          Link
    • Green Bay Local
      • Green Bay Local 5 – Meet the Miracle Hunter
        • Profile
          • “Miracle Hunter” Michael O’Neill interviewed on Green Bay’s Local 5 about his visit to the The National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help to deliver the keynote address at the National Novena and film the new special “The Miracles of Champion”
        • Videos
          • Video #1
            Channel :- TheMiracleHunter
            Published On :- 2017-Oct-11th
            Link

 

Belinda Luscombe :- When fighting against each other, our brains works against us

 

Author :- Belinda Luscombe
Source :- Time Magazine
Link :- Link

First comes love, then comes marriage (or some modern equivalent), then comes the inevitable really stupid fight you keep having over who threw whom under the carriage last time you went over to that person’s place for that thing. Spats with your significant other—there are infinite varieties—are unavoidable. But they don’t have to be so bruising or so frequent, according to Stan Tatkin, therapist, researcher and author of the new book We Do: Saying Yes to a Relationship of Depth, True Connection and Enduring Love.

Tatkin studies couples by filming them during a fight and then doing video microanalysis (a slow-motion, frame-by-frame examination of the footage) to see what’s really going on. Through this analysis, he has found that the human brain has a set of characteristics that can make fights with our loved ones worse—and that we can out-maneuver, to find better resolutions faster. Not to be spouse-like or anything, but here’s what you’re probably doing wrong:

You’re relying too much on your memory.

Even when you’re 100% sure you recall exactly what your spouse did that was so egregious, you’re probably mistaken, says Tatkin. “The way we record experience depends on our state of mind,” he explains. So if we were emotional or stressed when something happened, our recollections can get skewed, and then as we recall it in a heightened emotional state, the brain adds even more new color. “When people fight over memory, they’re both likely wrong in some way,” says Tatkin. “Because of this, it’s usually better to just end the fight and make up, rather than trying to figure out who is correct.”

You’re expecting perception to be objective.

You know the old “Don’t look at me like that!” “Like what?” “Like you think I’m an idiot.” “I didn’t look at you like that” argument? That’s an example of how perceptions are also unreliable—especially under stress, says Tatkin, because our brains aren’t working at full capacity or normal speed so the usual filters are not applied. “There’s a network of structures that have to talk to each other in order to correct errors,” says Tatkin. “And there has to be enough time and energy for these error-correcting parts of the brain to do their job. When people are upset with each other, they’re moving too fast and they’re under-resourced, meaning that there’s literally not enough blood—oxygen and glucose—going to those areas of the brain.” So if your counterpart believes you looked at him or her in a certain way, it’s best not to expect them to correct a faulty perception right then and there. Just let them know that you love them and don’t think they’re an idiot.

You’re overestimating how well you’re communicating.

“The brain always conserves energy,” says Tatkin. “And that means that it takes shortcuts.” People are often not expressing as clearly as they think they are—or not completely understanding the message the person they’re talking to is getting. “I may be making clarity errors with you, in thinking that you understand. You, as the listener, may be making mistakes by assuming you understood something, or linking it to something else, that may be a leap too far,” says Tatkin. Or the disconnect can be even simpler. “One word may mean something to me and mean something very different to you,” Tatkin explains. “Even on a good day, our verbal communication is poor, and we are often misunderstanding each other most of the time. This just speaks to the imperfection of human communication across the world.”

Small misunderstandings can snowball and get worse over time, unless people realize what they’re doing. Tatkin’s solution? “One way around this is to slow down. Check: ‘O.K., do you mean this? Is that what you’re trying to say when you use that word?’” He believes partners should cut each other a little more slack. He likes the phrase a colleague uses: Be curious rather than furious.

You’re not looking at each other.

According to Tatkin, couples should avoid trying to argue without looking straight into each other’s eyes. “We’re visual animals and while you’re talking, and I’m looking at your eyes and your mouth—which is something we naturally do—I can make many of those corrections” of the misunderstandings that are arising, he says. It’s something the brain does naturally without us even noticing. “But if we’re on the phone or side to side, or we’re texting, anything and everything can happen, because we can’t verify visually.” Intentions and phrases can be misunderstood, and meanings and tones of voice inaccurately inferred. Only after people get better at communicating and fighting in close proximity should they even consider working things out via text. “I’m not saying nobody should ever do that,” Tatkin clarifies. “But I’m saying people who are terrible at this ought to get the other part down first.”

You’re seeking compromise but not collaboration.

There are, of course, those fights that are not simply a matter of communication but of genuine disagreement. Whether to buy or rent. Which school to send a kid to. Netflix or Amazon Prime. Those arguments take a bit of effort to solve, says Tatkinwho this time says brains can be used productively rather than overridden. These spats are more manageable if you both agree initially that you care about each other and the outcomehe says, recommending that each partner present an argument, each acknowledge the validity of the other’s argument and then each offer a solution that builds on the other’s.

That way, “both people are engaged in a collaborative effort to come up with something better than their own idea,” he says. Often, the solution to a disagreement only has to be one that works for right now, and can be adjusted later. “If people see each other as having a mutual stake in the outcome, and that they’re respecting that, and they are giving each other their due, and that they are working towards a win-win, which means not compromise but creativity, bargaining,” says Tatkin, “then they can move the ball forward enough for the next thing, and can take this thing off the table quickly and go have lunch.” Preferably somewhere romantic.

Bruce Springsteen :- “the wheels can come off a little bit”

Background

Personally, there are a few people I will pay to listen to; as I know they are sharing intimately and not trying to sway.

Bruce happens to be one of those very few people.

Esquire Interview

Bruce Springsteen gets candid about his mental health issues: ‘I’m on a variety of medications’ — or ‘the wheels can come off a little bit’
Link

Bruce Springsteen’s memoir Born to Run detailed his long history with depression — and he’s revealing more about his mental health battle.

In a new interview with Esquire, the legendary singer, who’s wrapping up his one-man show on Broadway next month, talks a lot about growing up the son of a paranoid schizophrenic. Springsteen, 69, also gets candid about his breakdowns — the first in 1982 and another in 2009 — and how he keeps his mental health in line.

Springsteen’s relationship with his father, Doug Springsteen, cast a shadow on him for much of his life. The star got some answers late in his dad’s life, when he was finally diagnosed with schizophrenia, before dying in 1998. His father never told Bruce that he loved him and often sat brooding in silence in their family home. While his father’s diagnosis explained much that Springsteen had not understood, it also made him worry for his own mental health and his family’s.

“I have come close enough to [mental illness] where I know I am not completely well myself,” Springsteen revealed to the magazine. “I’ve had to deal with a lot of it over the years, and I’m on a variety of medications that keep me on an even keel; otherwise I can swing rather dramatically and … just … the wheels can come off a little bit. So we have to watch, in our family. I have to watch my kids, and I’ve been lucky there. It ran in my family going way before my dad.

Springsteen talked about his first breakdown when he was 32. It was the time he released Nebraska (much was about his troubled upbringing) when he was road-tripping with a friend from New Jersey to L.A. On a late summer night, they drove through a Texas town where a fair was taking place. A band was playing, couples were dancing, kids were running around, and The Boss — from his car — watched the happy scene and cracked. He still doesn’t know what it was about that exact place and time that so affected him.

“All I do know is as we age, the weight of our unsorted baggage becomes heavier … much heavier,” he said. “With each passing year, the price of our refusal to do that sorting rises higher and higher. … Long ago, the defenses I built to withstand the stress of my childhood, to save what I had of myself, outlived their usefulness, and I’ve become an abuser of their once lifesaving powers. I relied on them wrongly to isolate myself, seal my alienation, cut me off from life, control others, and contain my emotions to a damaging degree. Now the bill collector is knocking, and his payment’ll be in tears.”

He said the breakdown led him to therapy — and it transformed his life. Not long after this, as he and his wife, songstress Patti Scialfa, were expecting their first child together, Springsteen’s dad came to visit and they had a ground-breaking moment. “You’ve been very good to us. And I wasn’t very good to you,” he recalled his dad saying. (In Springsteen’s show, he called this “the greatest moment in my life, with my dad.”)

In Springsteen’s book, he wrote about a second breakdown soon after turning 60 that lasted three years, which he described as an “agitated depression.” He told Esquire that he never contemplated suicide then or at any other point in his life. However, “I once felt bad enough to say, ‘I don’t know if I can live like this.’ It was like … I once got into some sort of box where I couldn’t figure my way out and where the feelings were so overwhelmingly uncomfortable.” He had “no inner peace whatsoever.”

While he wasn’t hospitalized, maybe he should have been. “All I remember was feeling really badly and calling for help,” he said. “I might have gotten close to that and for brief, brief periods of time. It lasted for — I don’t know. Looking back on it now, I can’t say. Was it a couple weeks? Was it a month? Was it longer? But it was a very bad spell, and it just came. … And it came out of the roots that I came out of, particularly on my father’s side, where I had to cop to the fact that I also had things inside me that could lead me to pretty bad places.”

Springsteen said he never tried to take his life during his weakest moments (protesting, “No, no, no”). Then the interviewer brought up Anthony Bourdain, asking if Springsteen could understand how his suicide could have happened.

“Well, I had a very, very close friend who committed suicide,” Springsteen replied. “He was like an older son to me. I mentored him. And he got very, very ill. So, ultimately, it always remains a mystery — those last moments. I always say, Well, somebody was in a bad place, and they just got caught out in the rain. Another night, another way, someone else there … it might not have happened. They were ill, and they got caught out in the rain. … I don’t know anyone who’s ever explained satisfactorily the moments that lead up to someone taking that action. So can I understand how that happens? Yes. I think I felt just enough despair myself to — pain gets too great, confusion gets too great, and that’s your out. But I don’t have any great insight into it, and in truth, I’ve never met someone who has.”

 

Listening

  1. Bruce Springsteen
    • Bruce Springsteen – One Step Up with Lyrics
      Link

 

 

Dr. Tamara O’Neal

Videos

  1. Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel address the media on Nov. 19, 2018, following the death of four people, including the shooter, after an attack at Mercy Hospital. (Chris Walker and Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)
    Link

Stories

Chicago Tribune

Slain Chicago doctor broke off engagement with her killer weeks before deadly Mercy Hospital shooting

Link

Tamara O’Neal’s family gathered in her parents’ living room in rural LaPorte County, Ind., on Tuesday, they traded stories about their love for a woman who had found her way in life as an emergency room doctor.

But there was one subject they were reluctant to talk about: Juan Lopez.

Lopez had killed O’Neal, his ex-fiancee, on Monday in a violent confrontation at Mercy Hospital & Medical Center in Chicago. The shootout also claimed the lives of a police officer and a pharmacist, as well as Lopez.

As recently as September, Lopez and O’Neal were engaged, with a wedding date fast approaching. But O’Neal had broken it off just weeks before she was to exchange vows with Lopez, said her aunt, Vickie O’Neal. It was unclear exactly why.

Her father, Thomas, chose his words carefully.

“The only thing I could say for that: She broke off the engagement; he couldn’t get over it,” he said.

Indeed, Lopez had confronted O’Neal on Monday to demand the engagement ring back, a police spokesman said. And Lopez had a history of threatening domestic violence. In 2014, a judge granted a restraining order against him for his ex-wife.

But O’Neal’s family members said they never could have imagined that the relationship would come to such a violent end.

“This was a total surprise to us,” O’Neal’s father said. “We knew that there was a disconnect there, but nothing to this magnitude. We never expected this.”

Instead, the family talked at length about their love for a daughter who had blazed a trail as the first doctor in the family.

She enrolled at Purdue University to study child psychology. While there, she was in a lab where she held a human brain, her father said. That was her breakthrough moment, when it clicked that she wanted to go to medical school, he said.

After receiving a bachelor of arts from Purdue, she enrolled in the summer of 2007 in a certificate program at Southern Illinois University — a program designed to give students the necessary coursework required for medical school.

It took nearly two years to finish the program, and in the spring of 2009, she enrolled in medical school at the University of Illinois at Chicago, graduating in 2014. She wasted little time diving into what she loved. Her first job, which lasted for nearly a year before she moved to Mercy, was as an emergency room physician at Franciscan Health in Michigan City, Ind.

For Trevonne Thompson, an associate professor of emergency medicine and medical toxicology at the University of Illinois, the news of O’Neal’s fatal shooting was particularly devastating. O’Neal had a bright spirit and a deep desire to help others, he said.

“From the time she was a medical student, she really stood out as someone very kindhearted,” said Thompson, who was O’Neal’s adviser and had known her since 2010. “She always wanted to reach back and help others, whether that was one of her patients or another medical student.

O’Neal didn’t have the typical path to medical school and entered as an older, more mature student, Thompson said. She distinguished herself from other students because not only was she focused and disciplined, but she also chose emergency care so she could reach the more vulnerable patients, he said.

So when Thompson heard there was a shooting at Mercy, the first thing he did was text his former student whom he had remained so close to. Normally, she’d respond immediately. When he didn’t hear back, Thompson said he started to worry.

“Part of her decision to go into this field was because so many people are underserved and emergency care is their last resort,” he said. “She felt emergency care was where she had the most to offer to underserved communities.”

As a black medical student, O’Neal made it her mission to connect with other African-American medical students so they could support each other through the notoriously grueling learning process, said Dr. Breana Taylor, a vascular neurology fellow at the University of Washington School of Medicine who attended medical school with O’Neal.

The summer before she started school, O’Neal rounded up about seven other black students and told them they would get through it, together.

“She’d make sure everyone had the notes that we needed,” Taylor said. “She’d put together our study group. She’d send you a text to wish you good luck. She was a source of continuous encouragement at a time when life seemed tough.”

O’Neal’s group started calling itself “OHQ” for one hitter quitters — which meant the members vowed to take every exam once and pass it on the first round. That meant they’d study together, coach and quiz each other so there would be no failures in their group, Taylor explained.

“Tamara valued keeping us all together and doing whatever she could to help us all succeed,” Taylor said. “She organized us, and it was that bond that got us through. She was the one that would randomly call to check on you. She was that person who became the connective thread in the group.”

O’Neal also had the fortitude to deal with traumatic injuries, her father said. It was “nasty stuff,” he said. “She used to send us pictures or try to tell us stories all the time.”

Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel address the media on Nov. 19, 2018, following the death of four people, including the shooter, after an attack at Mercy Hospital. (Chris Walker and Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)

Whenever O’Neal saw any patient in the emergency room, she asked about dangers in the home, including domestic violence. It is just one of the questions doctors ask patients during the triage process, said Dr. Patrick Connor, director of the emergency department at Mercy.

O’Neal’s fatal shooting was a reminder that doctors face the same challenges in life as the people they treat, Connor said after a Tuesday news conference outside Mercy Hospital. Domestic violence can touch anyone, can happen anywhere. Even in a place designed to provide care, he said.

Like many others interviewed, he turned the focus of his comments to O’Neal’s exceptional qualities.

“If I were to collapse right now and she was around, she was the person I’d want taking care of me,” he said.

 

He paused to pull out his phone. Just hours before O’Neal was killed, she took a selfie with a colleague. Both beaming, the photo was likely the last picture taken of O’Neal, Connor said. “That’s her, that’s who she was,” he said, showing the photo. An “absolutely bubbly, fantastic personality.”

Through her professional success, she never lost sight of her family.

The second of three children, she made weekly trips from her apartment in Chicago to the Christian Fellowship Worship Center in LaPorte, Ind., where her older brother, LaShawn, was the pastor. She was the choir director for about a year and a half, he said.

His sister could sing and play piano, he said. She was often a perfectionist who demanded excellence but was an open and joyful spirit.

She and her younger sister relished family get-togethers. The would often have contests like who could decorate their Christmas tree earliest, said her sister-in-law Jennifer O’Neal.

Or who baked the best dessert that was eaten the fastest, Her specialty was crab rangoon and spicy cabbage, her family said.

“She was the pride of our family,” O’Neal’s uncle, Anthony Bean Sr., said over the phone. “She was the only doctor in our family. I think she knew that, and I think that was part of her motivation, too, every day.”

Beane, assistant basketball coach for Southern Illinois University’s men’s basketball team, fondly recalled O’Neal stopping by his hotel to visit with him when he’d come down to play SIU while coaching at Illinois State. She was in the medical preparation program at the time, and would stop in after her night class. They would talk and laugh late into the night.

“It was just so refreshing because I knew she was on a road to really be successful,” he said. “I never thought those times would end so quick.”

 

Quotes

 

  1. Mayor Rahm Emanuel
    • “I ask each of us to hold our children, our loved ones all a bit closer,” Emanuel said. “Remember what is important in life and that there are others who are part of our larger family who will have a tear and a hole that will never heal–always a scar.”
    • “This tears at the soul of our city,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at a press conference Monday night. “It is the face and the consequence of evil.”
  2. Conor
    • The 38-year-old physician graduated from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago in 2016 and had worked as a resident at Mercy for two years. She raised money for disadvantaged children and led her church choir, Connor said, choking up with emotion and pausing frequently.
    • “That was her one thing she wanted … to be able to go to church on Sunday,” Connor said.
  3. John Purakal, MD ( @JohnPurakal )
    • I knew her, trained with her, saved lives with her and tonight, tried to save her life. Tonight, I broke down in front of my coworkers when we lost her, and tonight I held hands with her mother in prayer. Tonight, we lost a beautiful, resilient, passionate doc. Keep singing, TO.
  4. The Root
    • Natalie Degraffinried
      • If you see the pattern, you’ve probably discerned that black women die from homicide far more frequently than the average, as well.
      • It’s mind-boggling at this point to even try to come up with anything else to say to the men who do this, who watch it happen, who contribute to a culture where this has become terrifyingly quotidian. Stop murdering women. Stop murdering your partners. Stop abusing people you’re supposed to be caring for.
      • Stop ignoring us when we beg you to stop.

 

Financial Times ( FT ) :- Swift shows impact of Iran dispute on international business

Link

The Europe-US-Iran issue is existential for Swift as a global network

These could include asset freezes and US travel bans for the individuals, and restrictions on banks’ ability to do business in the US.

Swift’s very survival as a worldwide system for facilitating cross-border payments depends on it resisting such attempts to “weaponise” it for political ends, said Nicolas Véron, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

“The Europe-US-Iran issue is existential for Swift as a global network,” he said of the action against the company, which is owned by about 2,400 banks and other financial institutions.

Born in the 1970s out of leading banks’ desire to replace clunky Telex messages with a more reliable and faster payment system, Swift is now part of the world’s financial plumbing. Its 11,000-strong network of users expects the pipes to stretch as far and wide as possible.

The company runs a gigantic secure messaging service for the world’s financial institutions, transmitting payment requests across its electronic platform and keeping a record of such communications on servers in Europe and the US. It handles over 6bn messages a year.

Its role and dominance make Swift a very unusual company: a technology business that is systemically important for global commerce but that does not directly handle payments and whose turnover is a tiny fraction of that of a large bank. Its 25-member board of directors resembles a United Nations of executives specialised in the more prosaic side of banking: experts in payments processing, trade finance and interbank relations.

The Iran deal fallout is part of a post-millennium pattern of Swift becoming caught up in political fights. In 2006, EU lawmakers were outraged by revelations of a secret “Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme” that allowed investigators to tap Swift data held on a server in the US.

The company was also at the centre of international tensions in 2012, when it was ordered by the EU — following a US initiative — to disconnect from Iranian banks that were the subject of sanctions. These measures were later suspended in 2016 after the nuclear deal came into effect.

But Swift has fought back publicly against the idea that access to its services should be used to punish or reward governments.

The rows showed how it has become a sensitive asset: a gateway to the global finance system that comes under Belgian and European oversight but which has become of great interest to US authorities.

Swift’s global role is highlighted by its purpose-built headquarters, set amid manicured lawns and a miniature forest where deer and pheasants roam.

The neoclassical building houses just under 1,000 employees from about 50 countries and is the base for Swift’s central management. This is where internal cyber security and physical security experts duel: “red” teams probe for weaknesses in the system against “blue” opponents whose job is to defend its integrity.

The data centres themselves are in the Netherlands and the US state of Virginia, with a back-up in Switzerland. There are also emergency recovery sites whose location Swift does not disclose.

The National Bank of Belgium noted in a report last year that Swift’s activities have “been recognised as a significant factor in the safety and efficiency of payment and securities settlement systems” across the world.

About 90 per cent of Swift’s complex is out of bounds to visitors for security reasons, with some areas secured by code-operated doors. Even one of the architects from the Barcelona-based firm that designed the complex once had trouble getting in for a visit. Swift wants to keep both its customer data and intellectual property from prying eyes, with developers working on areas such as machine learning and data management.

While the company describes itself as a “neutral utility with a global systemic character,” insiders say its offices bear more resemblance to those of a tech firm, with an open-plan layout, a hot desk environment, little visible paperwork and few desk phones.

Swift has kept a low profile so far on the Iran sanctions, but a spokesperson told the FT that it would “naturally be consulting with and seeking clarification from both EU and US authorities”., adding: “Our mission remains to be a global and neutral service provider to the financial industry.”

The question is whether Swift can achieve both goals at the same time. A financial information network can either be “global with political neutrality, or not politically neutral and fragmented”, said Mr Véron. Politicisation and global reach “are mutually incompatible”.

Drake And Lessons in Life

Background

For me there are so few people that I can actually journey through life with.

Drake with his vulnerability happens to be one of them.

Videos

  1. Album :- Scorpion
    • Inspiration
      • Videos

Quotes

  1. Drake
    • Into You
      • I took that energy and put it into me
    •  Career
      • “I think maybe one of my biggest concerns in my career is just to figure out how to exit gracefully,” Drake explains. “I’ve watched people overstay their welcome, and I just don’t ever want to be that guy that’s addicted to the feeling of victory, addicted to the emotion of people digesting something that they love, and get to the point I’m just feeding them something and they’re just like, ‘Yeah…'”
        • Videos
    • Chris Brown
      • Drake Says He Doesn’t Want To Be Associated With Chris brown
      • Quotes
        • In an interview with GQ Drake is asked about the altercation with Chris Brown, he said: “I hear he has everything he could want now. I don’t want my name to be synonymous with that guy’s name. I really don’t. I wish we could sit down, just like you and me are right now, and talk it out man-to-man. But that’s not going to happen.”
        • Date Published :- 2013-June
        • Links
    • Meek Mill
      • “This really gave me peace of mind tonight. Healing and moving forward created one of the most electric and gratifying moments of my career,” he wrote. “@meekmill I’m happy that you are home and that we could find our way back to our joint purpose.”
  2. Jayceon Terrell Taylor
    • I know all about losses

 

Closing

Nice for what
Link

Lily Hay Newman :- How Google’s Safe Browsing Helped Build a More Secure Web

Background

Lily Hay Newman writing for the Wired has an Interesting Story on Google’s Safe Browsing.

The story is here.

Casey Chin

In the beginning there was phone phreaking and worms. Then came spam and pop ups. And none of it was good. But in the nascent decades of the internet, digital networks were detached and isolated enough that the average user could mostly avoid the nastiest stuff. By the early 2000s, though, those walls started coming down, and digital crime boomed.

Google, which will turn 20 in September, grew up during this transition. And as its search platform spawned interconnected products like ad distribution and email hosting, the company realized its users and everyone on the web faced an escalation of online scams and abuse. So in 2005, a small team within Google started a project aimed at flagging possible social engineering attacks—warning users when a webpage might be trying to trick them into doing something detrimental.

A year later, the group expanded its scope, working to flag links and sites that might be distributing malware. Google began incorporating these anti-abuse tools into its own products, but also made them available to outside developers. By 2007, the service had a name: Safe Browsing. And what began as a shot in the dark would go on to fundamentally change security on the internet.

You’ve been protected by Safe Browsing even if you haven’t realized it. When you load a page in most popular browsers or choose an app from the Google Play Store, Safe Browsing is working behind the scenes to check for malicious behavior and notify you of anything that might be amiss. But setting up such a massive vetting system at the scale of the web isn’t easy. And Safe Browsing has always grappled with a core security challenge—how to flag and block bad things without mislabeling legitimate activity or letting anything malicious slip through. While that problem isn’t completely solved, Safe Browsing has become a stalwart of the web. It underlies user security in all of Google’s major platforms—including Chrome, Android, AdSense, and Gmail—and runs on more than 3 billion devices worldwide.

In the words of nine Google engineers who have worked on Safe Browsing, from original team members to recent additions, here’s the story of how the product was built, and how it became such a ubiquitous protective force online.

Niels Provos, a distinguished engineer at Google and one of the founding members of Safe Browsing: I first started working on denial of service defense for Google in 2003, and then late in 2005 there was this other engineer at Google called Fritz Schneider who was actually one of the very first people on the security team. He was saying, ‘Hey Niels, this phishing is really becoming a problem, we should be doing something about it.’ He had started to get one or two engineers interested part time, and we figured out that the first problem that we should be solving was not actually trying to figure out what is a phishing page, but rather how do we present this to the user in a way that makes sense to them? So that started the very early phishing team.

One of the trends that we had observed was the bad guys figured out that just compromising other web servers actually doesn’t really give you all that much. What they were getting was essentially bandwidth, but not a lot of interesting data. So then they turned to their compromised web servers that got lots and lots of visitors, and it was like, ‘How about we compromise those people with downloads?’ So there was a change in malicious behavior.

We were already working on phishing, and I thought, you know, the malware thing may be even a larger problem. And we’re sort of uniquely positioned, because with the Google search crawler we have all this visibility into the web. So then we started with phishing and malware, and Safe Browsing came together that way.

Panos Mavrommatis, Engineering Director of Safe Browsing: Safe Browsing started as an anti-phishing plugin for Mozilla Firefox, since this was 2005 and Google didn’t have its own browser then. When I joined in 2006, the team lead at the time was Niels, and he wanted us to expand and protect users not just from phishing but also from malware. So that was my initial project—which I haven’t finished yet.

‘But we did not really conceive that 10 years later we would be on 3 billion devices. That’s actually a little bit scary.’

Niels Provos, Google

The goal was to crawl the web and protect users of Google’s main product, which was Search, from links that could point them to sites that could harm their computer. So that was the second product of Safe Browsing after the anti-phishing plugin, and the user would see labels on malicious search results. Then if you did click on it you would get an additional warning from the search experience that would tell you that this site might harm your computer.

One interesting thing that happened was related to how we communicated with web masters who were affected by Safe Browsing alerts. Because very quickly when we started looking into the problem of how users might be exposed to malware on the web, we realized that a lot of it came from websites that were actually benign, but were compromised and started delivering malware via exploits. The site owners or administrators typically did not realize that this was happening.

In our first interactions with web masters they would often be surprised. So we started building tools dedicated to web masters, now called Search Console. The basic feature was that we would try to guide the web master to the reason that their website was infected, or if we didn’t know the exact reason we would at least tell them which pages on their server were distributing malware, or we would show them a snippet of code that was injected into their site.

Provos: We got a lot of skepticism, like ‘Niels, you can’t tell me that you’re just doing this for the benefit of web users, right? There must be an angle for Google as well.’ Then we articulated this narrative that if the web is safer for our users, then that will benefit Google, because people will use our products more often.

But we did not really conceive that 10 years later we would be on 3 billion devices. That’s actually a little bit scary. There’s a sense of huge responsibility that billions of people rely on the service we provide, and if we don’t do a good job at detection then they get exposed to malicious content.

Mavrommatis: Around 2008 we started building an engine that ran every page Google already fetched, to evaluate how the page behaved. This was only possible because of Google’s internal cloud infrastructure. That was part of why Google was able to do a lot of innovation at the time, we had this extremely open infrastructure internally where you could use any unused resources, and do things like run a malicious detection engine on the full web.

Moheeb Abu Rajab, Principal Engineer at Safe Browsing: Coming from graduate school, I had been trying to build this type of system on a couple of machines, so I was spending lots of time trying to set that up. And it’s just minimum effort at Google to run on a huge scale.

Mavrommatis: The other thing we developed at the same time was a slower but deeper scanner that loaded web pages in a real browser, which is more resource-intensive than the other work we had been doing that just tested each component of a site. And having those two systems allowed us to build our first machine learning classifier. The deeper crawling service would provide training data for the lightweight engine, so it could learn to identify which sites are the most likely to be malicious and need a deep scan. Because even at Google-scale we could not crawl the whole search index with a real browser.

Noé Lutz, Google AI engineer, formerly Safe Browsing: Around the same time, in 2009, we worked on machine learning for phishing as well. And this was a pretty scary moment for the team because up until then we used machine learning as a filtering function, to figure out where to focus this heavy weight computing resource, but this was the first time we actually decided something was phishing or malicious or harmful or not harmful in a fully automated way.

I remember the day we flipped the switch it was like, now the machine is responsible. That was a big day. And nothing bad happened. But what I do remember is it took extremely long for us to turn that tool on. I think we all expected that it would take a couple of weeks, but it took actually several months to make sure that we were very confident in what we were doing. We were very conscious from the get go how disruptive it can be if we make a mistake.

Provos: The moments that stand out do tend to be the more traumatic ones. There was a large production issue we had in 2009, it was a Saturday morning. We had a number of bugs that came together and we ended up doing a bad configuration push. We labeled every single Google search result as malicious.

Even in 2009 Google was already a prevalent search engine, so this had a fairly major impact on the world. Fortunately our site reliability engineering teams are super on top of these things and the problem got resolved within 15 minutes. But that caused a lot of soul searching and a lot of extra guards and defenses to be put in place, so nothing like that would happen again. But luckily by then we were already at a point where people within Google had realized that Safe Browsing was actually a really important service, which is why we had integrated it into Search in the first place.

Nav Jagpal, Google Software Engineer: In 2008 we integrated Safe Browsing into Chrome, and Chrome represented a big shift, because before with browsers like Internet Explorer, you could easily be on an old version. And there were drive-by downloads exploiting that, where you could go to a website, not click on anything, and walk away with an infection on your computer. But then over time everyone got better at building software. The weakest link was the browser; now it’s the user. Now to get code running on people’s machines, you just ask them. So that’s why Safe Browsing is so crucial.

Mavrommatis: Around 2011 and 2012 we started building even deeper integrations for Google’s platforms, particularly Android and Chrome Extensions and Google Play. And we created unique, distinct teams to go focus on each product integration and work together with the main teams that provided the platforms.

Allison Miller, former Safe Browsing product manager, now at Bank of America (interviewed by WIRED in 2017): Safe Browsing is really behind the scenes. We build infrastructure. We take that information and we push it out to all the products across Google that have any place where there is the potential for the user to stumble across something malicious. People don’t necessarily see that that goes on. We’re a little too quiet about it sometimes.

Fabrice Jaubert, software development manager of Safe Browsing: There were challenges in branching out outside of the web, but there were advantages, too, because we had a little bit more control over the ecosystem, so we could guide it toward safer practices. You can’t dictate what people do with their web pages, but we could say what we thought was acceptable or not in Chrome extensions or in Android apps.

Lutz: There were also some non-technical challenges. Google is a big company, and it can be challenging to collaborate effectively across teams. It’s sometimes hard to realize from the outside, but Chrome is written in a language that is different from a lot of other parts of Google, and they have release processes that are very different. And the same is true for Android, they have a different process of releasing software. So getting everybody aligned and understanding each other, I perceived it as a big hurdle to overcome.

Stephan Somogyi, Google AI product manager, formerly Safe Browsing: This is a very hackneyed cliché so please don’t use it against me, but the whole ‘rising tide lifts all boats’ thing actually really holds true for Safe Browsing. There wasn’t ever any debate that we wanted to expand its reach onto mobile, but we had a profound dilemma, because the amount of data that Safe Browsing used for desktop was an intractable amount for mobile. And we knew that everything that we push down to the mobile device costs the user money, because they’re paying for their data plans. So we wanted to use compression to take the data we already had and make it smaller. And we didn’t want the users to get hosed by five apps each having their own Safe Browsing implementation and all downloading the same data five times. So we said let’s bake it into Android and take the heavy lifting onto ourselves all in one place. It’s been a system service since fall of 2015.

So we built a dead simple API so developers can just say, ‘Hey Android Local System Service, is this URL good or bad?’ We also wanted to write this thing so it wouldn’t unnecessarily spin up the cell modem and eat battery life, because that’s just not nice. So if the network isn’t up anyway, don’t call it up. We just spent an awful lot of effort on implementation for Android. It turned out to be a lot more subtle and nuanced than we first anticipated.

Mavrommatis: The other big effort that our team was involved in around 2013 and 2014 was what we call “unwanted software.” It’s primarily for desktop users, and it’s sort of an adaptation from actors who may have in the past been using just malware techniques, but now they would find that it’s possible to hide malware within software that seems focused on a legitimate function. It was unclear how antivirus companies should label this, and how big companies and browsers should deal with this. But what we focused on was what is the impact on the user?

Around 2014, our data showed that over 40 percent of the complaints that Chrome users reported were related to some sort of software that was running on their device that would impact their browsing experience. It might inject more ads or come bundled with other software they didn’t need, but it was a potentially unwanted program. These practices were causing a lot of problems and we would see a lot of Chrome users downloading these kinds of apps. So we refined our download protection service and also found ways to start warning users about potentially unwanted downloads.

Jagpal: It’s a large responsibility, but it also feels very abstract. You get a warning or alert and you think, ‘Wait a minute, am I protecting myself here?’ But it’s so abstract that if we write code for something concrete, like turning on a light switch at home, it’s like, ‘Whoa, that is so cool. I can see that.’

Jaubert: My 14-year-old definitely takes Safe Browsing for granted. He got a phishing message as an SMS text, so it didn’t go through our systems, and he was shocked. He asked me, ‘Why aren’t you protecting me? I thought this couldn’t happen!’ So I think people are starting to take it for granted in a good way.

Emily Schechter, Chrome Security product manager (former Safe Browsing program manager): You can tell people that they’re secure when they’re on a secure site, but what really matters is that you tell them when they’re not secure, when they’re on a site that is actively doing something wrong.

People should expect that the web is safe and easy to use by default. You shouldn’t have to be a security expert to browse the web, you shouldn’t have to know what phishing is, you shouldn’t have to know what malware is. You should just expect that software is going to tell you when something has gone wrong. That’s what Safe Browsing is trying to do.