Stories | Images | Bio | Contact

 

The Atlantic
  • Jenneh Getu, looked out a hospital window at the ambulances in the parking lot being pelted by hard rain, as the psychological-counseling session she'd come for began. "The sickness grabbed my husband," Getu said. "After four days, he died. We had just finished burying him when my son's skin started getting hot." Getu brought her 3-year-old from her rural hometown to Monrovia for help. "My son died on my lap in the taxi," she said. "I was forced to hold that body tight so people didn't know it's Ebola."

    Viviana Limpias, deputy representative of the United Nations Children's Fund in Cuba, said, "There's very little the privileged class has that everyone else doesn't have, except money." After the gallery closed in Havana Vieja, everyone retired to a four-story penthouse after-party. Men in linen suits and white crocodile-skin shoes gathered around the billiards table. Jack Bruce, the bassist of the 1960s British rock band Cream, found the hors d'oeuvres (I wanted to ask, but didn't, if he knew that Fidel had once outlawed the Beatles). The models piled into a velvet-lined hammock. By the time the black-tie clad waiters served the second course and we lit another round of cigarillos, I wasn't so sure Ms. Limpias was right.

    "Whenever they thought I was not telling the truth, the interrogator displayed a handcuff, an electric baton, and a handgun on the desk," Namgyal, a 37-year-old Tibetan monk, recalled. "They asked me: 'Which would you like to choose? Confession or tools?'".

    At the checkout counter, our grocer stuffed our 13 pound turkey and Lurpak butter into plastic bags with the expertise that had won him third runner-up in the National Grocery Association's Best Bagger Championship, held every year in Las Vegas. This is how I knew I was back in the Heartland, where grocery baggers are still judged on their "speed, distribution of weight, and proper bagging style," where strawberry Jello and Cool Whip is still served as a traditional dessert, and where much nasally lilting small talk is currently being devoted to the unseasonably warm weather.

    From a slump on his couch after a physical therapy session, he says, "I wanted to be a roughneck, to spit tobacco, and to kill the enemy. I was a young cowboy." It's a hard sentiment to hear, and yet somehow easy to understand. He continues, "Being a grunt is over, and that's the only thing I want to be".

    Forks was one of those post-timber towns that most people didn't know existed, the kind of town where if you knew where it was, chances were you lived there and wanted to leave. It's a rainforest settlement, a conglomeration of clapboard houses lining wide, mostly deserted streets, the air always feeling like it's about to rain, that is, if it's not already raining.

    Tracking Fahmy down took several days: endless Google searches, queries of domain registrations, tracking an IP address to a server host, and a call to Maderia, Portugal. Fahmy tries to fly under the radar; like any artist who attempts to provoke, he's gotten himself in trouble. Most recently, he was arrested on May 26 for pasting stickers of what he called the "Mask of Freedom," depicting a mannequin with a gas mask and text that read, "Greetings from the Supreme Council to the free youth of the nation."

    "The salary of an average Cuban is not enough to buy food for a month," said a Cuban government official on Monday, who asked to remain anonymous because, as she put it, "There can be confusion about who and who is not an enemy of the Revolution, and there are many people in Cuba who unfortunately can't tell the difference between one and the other." Cuba is a country accustomed to living in crisis.

    Although China has dramatically increased the availability of methadone in community-based treatment centers, treatment options remain inadequate. Amon explained, "In China, police can pick up anyone based on profiling, and force them to take a urine test." If the sample comes back positive, he said, "People are then taken straight to a detention center, where they are usually kept for two years or more." Previous detainees' ID cards -- used in China for many common activities, like checking into a hotel -- are marked, and police, seeking to meet strict quotas, are allowed to track former addicts' IDs and demand urine samples at any point.

    The same day Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced a new carbon tax, Mines Minister Norman Moore, one of the top officials in Western Australia, spoke openly about the possibility of Western Australia seceding, citing the unpopular tax as proof that the federation was broken. How did things get so far?

    It had been raining for several hours on Evening Song Farm, a 100-acre plot of land in the valley between Button Hill and Burnt Mountain, in the shadow of Killington's ski slopes. David Hibbard Rode was working on a cabin he'd spent several months building by hand when he noticed the creek below the building - the creek that normally ran as shallow as 6 inches - rapidly rising. As he ran back to the farm house, the water chased him into the fields, washing away the topsoil and swamping the farm machinery.

    Bill McKibben wiped his face and turned toward the sun. "I'm stunned," he said. "Three or four months ago, no one in this country had heard about the Keystone pipeline except a few people along its route. Now it's become in some ways the biggest political flashpoint of the Obama administration." On Sunday, Tar Sands' latest action drew 10,000 people to Pennsylvania Avenue, forming a ring several people deep around the White House. People held hands, chanted, and sang. Actor Mark Ruffalo came and brought his kids. "This is the beginning of the most exciting times of the last two generations," he said.

Bloomberg
  • Venezuela and Syria offer a grim vision of how the world might react to a warming future. "In almost all conflict," Homer-Dixon says, "a weak and corrupt state can't evolve market mechanisms to respond to scarcity." This means dysfunction tends to have a snowball effect: Scarcity reinforces corruption, which polarizes a political system and increases inequality. "Then everyone slides down the slope together," Homer-Dixon says.

New Yorker
  • Mahmud had recently received death threats for staging a protest of a campaign against Valentine's Day. She described being stuck at home, fearing for her life, when the doorbell suddenly rang four times. It turned out to be just a deliveryman. As she recounted the story, she laughed. "Fear is a state of mind," she said. "You can make it much bigger than it actually is."

Aeon
  • At the evening Ecstatic Dance, our DJ is in a feathered hat and leopard-print pants. He instructs us: 'No talking to allow for Spirit.' Then we're off, a woman with a mullet rolling on the floor and older white ladies in modest skirts conservatively bopping their knees. When the whooping and hollering starts, I'm swaying, me and this room of elderly strangers, dancing gracelessly and without shame. So science stretches the bounds of human ingenuity in one direction, and faith in the other.

Popular Science
  • Police drove through Kroo Bay this morning, past the open sewers and snuffling pigs, yelling at people to go inside-largely to no avail. All the 14,000 residents of the shanty town in Freeport, Sierra Leone, had been ordered to stay indoors for three days, to try to stop the spread of Ebola. But a rare spot of good news came in the form of a diagnostic test that may help prevent future epidemics.

    In the absence of hospital-based treatment, it's the people tending the sick, predominantly women, who are at the greatest risk. Paul Farmer says, "It's no accident that up to 75 percent of those afflicted with Ebola are women." If mothers and daughters are becoming default nurses, it's imperative that they be equipped for the job.

    In 1958, the Smithsonian Institution received a plain paper package in the mail. The only hint of its contents was the insurance on the brown carton, registered for one million dollars. Nestled inside the box sat the largest known blue diamond in the world. Diamonds are actually carbon, compressed under intense pressure and high temperatures. We hear a lot about carbon in its connection to climate change, but there's another cycle that carbon plays a critical role in, known as deep carbon, that may be crucial in the origin of life.

    On Oct. 1, 2013, Ross Ulbricht was spending a warm sunny afternoon in the science-fiction section of the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco public library. The baby-faced 29-year-old was working on a laptop when he was surrounded by federal agents, who had a straightforward mission: to capture Ulbricht without letting him close his screen. As the sun goes down north of the White Mountains, Ross' mother Lyn Ulbricht sips a cold drink at the bacchanalial Porcupine Freedom Festival. "This case will set precedent for laws that could impact the future and freedom of the Internet," she says. Law, like 3-D printing, is iterative, and setting aside Lyn Ulbricht's vested interest in seeing her son proved innocent, the question of who should regulate new technological developments, and how, is stubbled with controversy."

    Last Saturday in Monrovia, Liberia, neighbors stood in the street trying to block officials as the Liberian Ministry of Health brought 37 bodies of Ebola victims to a small plot of recently purchased land. In the midst of the burial, the excavator failed, leaving a few gaping holes in the ground and a pile of plastic covered shrouds. The bodies were left in open pits filled with water until Sunday, when a new delivery of cadavers was set to arrive. But in the midst of frightening news and growing terror, scientists may have found a new ally to fight the disease: plants.

    Sergeant Alexander Sotkin, a communications specialist in the Russian army, has big gray-green eyes, soft stubble, a strong chin--and a penchant for taking selfies. So far, the 24-year-old has posted 530 photos on Instagram: a typical mish-mash of his best angles, new tattoos, blurry concerts, and friends mugging for the camera. (He even has a few cute kitten pics thrown in for good measure.) But was he really posting pictures to Instagram from the Ukraine?

    People lined both sides of Boylston Street, rounds of cheers going up as runners approached the end of the 2013 Boston marathon. Then white smoke plumed. Windows splintered. Fifteen seconds later, another explosion, and glass shattered onto blackened cement. The detonations knocked athletes to the ground, in some cases blowing the shoes off their feet. Three people died, and another 264 were injured. In the aftermath, FBI agents turned to a technique called video synopsis that was invented by an Israeli company called BriefCam. But BriefCam isn't the only big tech development to come out of Israel recently.

Maxim
  • It was a dark and stormy night and we were in a dim, high-ceilinged room full of leather chairs arranged around custom light fixtures that created little oases in which to drink our scotch.

Matter
  • As Ukraine descended into war last spring, people on both sides of the border turned to Zello, an app that transforms smartphones into walkie-talkies, to stay up to date on the rapidly shifting fighting. "People were using it to warn about things like air strikes," says the app's co-founder, Alexey Gavrilov, adding that protesters also used Zello to organize protests. But Ukraine wasn't the only conflict zone to pick up on the app.

Businessweek
  • The Ello office, in the basement of a renovated loft in Burlington, Vt., is filled with shiny bicycles and Apple products perched on standing desks. Upstairs, espresso makers purr with Counter Culture Coffee grinds, and bespectacled tech bros hunch over laptops. The entryway is painted with a quote from Hunter S. Thompson: "Wow! What a ride!" "Right now we're throwing the coolest party on the Internet," one of the founders says, swinging his leather boots up onto a stool shaped like a robotic rabbit.

    When the starting gun went off in Alicante, Spain, on Oct. 4, a stiff breeze was blowing. Seven 66-foot sailboats approached the start line, fighting for the best angle as the wind shifted. Stays chimed. Men scrambled. A bright sun burnt silhouettes of sails across the horizon. Rather than fight for the line, one of the boats-the Dongfeng Race Team, the only Chinese boat ever to enter the event-broke with the rest.

    On Feb. 23, a squad of 30 black-clad military intelligence officers arrived outside Vivas's house on motorcycles and in police cars. The general emerged on the roof of his gate, wearing a flak jacket and carrying a semi-automatic rifle and pistol, an ammo-belt slung around one shoulder. He started to shout. "The only way I will be taken is in a body bag."

    The captain of the Venezuelan National Guard placed both hands on the table and leaned forward toward the video camera. "Señores generales," Scott said, "reflect, ask for forgiveness. We are in time to save the country. Tomorrow you yourselves could be victims."

Vice
  • The thunderheads loom dark and low as Mike Wiggins Jr. navigates the small motorboat through the shoulder-high grass. "All this," the Bad River Tribal Chairman says, gesturing at the many acres of wetlands that surround us, "could be ruined if that mine goes in." As if on cue, the first low rumble of thunder travels across the water, and a moment later the lightning begins. Wiggins guns the motor, counting seconds between flashes and rumbles. Being on the water during a thunderstorm is one of the few things Wiggins is scared of. Thunder, and the Gogebic Taconite iron-ore mine.

Outside
  • Fall on the Mediterranean Sea is unpredictable: The water is warm, the air is cold, and storms are frequent. Conditions like these create chop - small waves the boats pound over like ruts in a road. The weather itself can be a fierce competitor in this nine-month, 38,739-nautical-mile race. This year, an all-female team will compete for the top prize in this traditionally male-dominated sport.

    In September, when the nights cool and the mosquitoes follow the RVs inland, the salt marshes of Assateague National Seashore are perfect for a quick fall paddling escape.

Adventure Journal
  • There is the Brooklyn Bridge. Weathered wood and stone. The sun has a weight this afternoon, gold on everyone's shoulders. Monumentous women hold forth, thundering into each others' faces. A stroller rolls away from its mother. An old man hunches over a bowtie. "Annie." Two boys spitting Spanish squeak by on a junker, all sweat and bare skin. "Will you." A girl with long brown curls who rides to the city between 8:34 and 8:41 am. "Marry." The best behind I've ever seen on a red fixed gear, shoes to match. "Me." A Burma-Shave wedding proposal down the off-ramp. Pay close attention. The city on a bicycle is made for being free.

    Hannah Crabtree and Jessie Frost named their home the Rough Draft Farmstead because, Hannah says, "A farm is a constant evolution of ideas, whims, and mistakes." And they're proof it's not just the vegetables that undergo change on a farm. Jessie says, "While picking kale, carrots, and collards, I proposed to her in the gardens where we met and fell in love."

The New Republic
  • In his book Calming the Fearful Mind, Hanh explains that, at his monastery in France, the entire community gathers once a week in a circle around a vase of flowers. When someone wants to speak, they take the vase, and praise the person they are having trouble with before describing their problem. Everyone else just listens. It was hard to imagine Barney Frank and Allen West dissolving their differences over a vase of flowers, but Hanh seemed convinced that it could work.

NPR
  • Mos Def, Lupe Fiasco, Talib Kwali - meet Rambo. He's Montenegro's most socially conscientious rapper, and yes, his stage name is a reference to both John Rambo and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He's worried about the "post-industrial informatics revolution going on" right now, and yet lays down rhymes like "only one rule/always stay cool/like a swimming pool." At Eurovision, he shares the stage with a giant Trojan horse, which Rambo claims is actually a donkey. As Rambo himself says, "I am good with words. And by the way, I am also good with music so I can go to places which are beyond any description."

    Mes Aynak, in Afghanistan's Logar Province, boasts one of the largest undeveloped copper deposits in the world. But it is also home to vast archeological ruins, including 5th century Buddhist monasteries and even older Bronze Age settlements. Preservationists - working furiously to excavate the nearby ruins before they are buried under mining rubble - have urged restraint in developing the copper deposits. But those focused on Afghanistan's economic development have urged the country to move full speed ahead, citing the dire need for the $1 trillion in revenue that the mine could bring to the impoverished country. Is the potential for economic growth worth more than the loss of cultural heritage?

The American Prospect
  • The only laws viruses answer to are Darwinian - the infectious agents evolve useful adaptions through trial and error, often going through drastic transformations as they adapt to new hosts - and without blood tests, it's impossible to know for sure how many people have already been infected with MERS. It's quite possible it's much more widespread then it appears, with many mild cases going undiagnosed. As Keiji Fukuda, WHO's assistant director-general for health, said, "The thing that going forward makes my stomach feel upset is that we don't know what kinds of characteristics it'll gain."

    Of the five other transgender candidates on the ballot this spring, two others dropped out. Mazhar Anjo, a.k.a. "Nick," running in a nearby district, quit because people fired shots at her house. "Here if someone dies or someone is killed it only becomes a headline," Rana said. "The very next day everyone forgets whether the person existed."

Wired
  • Sabeen Mahmud has short-cropped hair and rectangular glasses; she'd fit right in hunched over a laptop at Philz or behind the counter at one of Apple's Genius Bars. Her resume matches her style. She's founded asmall tech company, opened a hip coffee shop and organized a successful hackathon. But Mahmud doesn't hail from the Bay - she lives in Karachi, a city more closely associated with extreme violence then entrepreneurs.

Pacific Standard
  • When the monkeys began producing antibodies rather than contracting polio, he took the latest solution, poured into a glass beaker, and knocked it back. According to his biographer, his assistant remembers Koprowski noting that it tasted like cod liver oil. "Have another?" the assistant joked. "Better not," Koprowski said. "I'm driving."

    On a recent sunny day before the monsoons began, a thin woman settled to the floor in the cool shade of a nondescript apartment building in Dharampura, where a Perna community lives on the outskirts of Delhi. Rani is not normally awake in the afternoon; the Perna practice a form of inter-generational sex work, which is a strangely polite way of saying that women here expect to be prostituted by their husbands.

Foreign Policy
  • The radical Islamist cleric Mohammed Yusuf founded Boko Haram -- which roughly translates to "Western education is a sin" -- in 2002 with the goal of establishing an Islamic state in Nigeria. From its base in the country's north, the group has been carrying out attacks against Nigerian civilians, police, and politicians since 2009 -- the same year that Yusuf died in police custody.

    A messy election could stall Zimbabwe's economic recovery, and political tensions are already flaring over the government's jailing of an MDC legislator over Christmas for allegedly suggesting that Mugabe, who has said in the past that gay people "destroy nationhood," had engaged in gay sex. In a land where a toilet paper roll costs $145,750 and the leader believes only God can remove him from power, the situation threatens to get bleaker and more bizarre before it gets better.

Grist
  • Every morning, 2,340 briefcase-holding and business card-carrying bodies walk through the halls of Congress and federal agencies with the sole aim of either passing, rejecting, or strengthening the policies that will combat the climate crisis. From Chevron to Chevrolet, from the American Jewish Committee to American Airlines, everybody is funding somebody to argue their case. This Washington insider game is what's determining the climate policies that come out of Washington. How can the everyday citizen get on the same playing field as these lobbyists?

Washington City Paper
  • The afternoon of June 29, the tar on Washington, D.C.'s streets was melting. Citizens and tourists alike collapsed inside in front of air conditioners. Corner stores sold out of ice. When thunderheads began to gather just before dusk, people breathed a sigh of relief. A quiet gloom fell over the city's neighborhoods, shading small square lawns that had been browning in the heat. But when the line of storms arrived, as the lightning cracked and the deluge began, the mercury crept past 104-the hottest day in June on record. The whip of the derecho's wind blew in undulating patterns, the kind of gusts you can see in the rain. At Reagan National Airport, the weather station reported wind speeds of 75 miles an hour. The next morning, after 22 people died, 4.3 million houses in the region lost power, and Mayor Vince Gray declared a state of emergency, the heat still had not broken.

U.N. Dispatch
  • In India and throughout the developing world, drug trials and medical research are still in a Wild West phase. In the coldest possible terms, these experiments depend on healthy people getting exposed to the disease in order to determine the vaccine's efficacy.

    Nafis Sadik, the Special Adviser to the U.N. Secretary General and former head of UNFPA, is 83 years old, although you wouldn't know it by looking at her. She has shockingly blue eyes, and a husky voice that carries from a podium. At the 2012 mHealth Summit, Dr. Sadik strode out to center-stage in a red power suit as house music whoomped through the convention center's subwoofers. "Growing up in India," she said, "mobile technology meant you had a car. When I was practicing" - she was an obstetrician in Pakistan before entering her career in policy - "few people had heard of mobile phones. Today, men still sit in cafes as they always did, with coffee in one hand, but instead of a water pipe in the other, now they have a phone."

    In 2011, there were 6 billion cell phone subscribers in the world. Especially in developing countries, where cell phones are arriving in hard-to-reach places that have never had landlines, mobile technology is proving invaluable, quickly becoming a ubiquitous health tool. But just the physical presence of cell phones doesn't make the technology a functional tool. As any field-savvy community worker will tell you, "Mobiles don't deliver babies, mothers do." As access spreads, health workers are learning that program designs are invariably limited by how effective their messaging is.

    Every 30 seconds a child dies of malaria. Spread by mosquitos, the disease is most prevalent in the areas that are least equipped to deal with it. In order to detect malaria, a doctor must usually check 100 to 300 "field-of-views," or different perspectives. But this process can be tricky and is expensive; according to WHO, in sub-Saharan Africa around 60 percent of the cases reported are actually false-positives. But the Ozcan Research Group's recent break-through may be about to change all that.

Medium
  • Over dinner at the top of the World Trade Center tower, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Ali Al-Nuaimi looked out over Dubai's skyline, pressed a silk napkin to his mouth, and said, "These are hard times. Anywhere in the world, these times are hard. You Americans, you have it hard too." His son, the Crown Prince, fiddled with his second silver salad fork and I nodded, not knowing what else to say.

Technical Whitepapers
  • Both Oregon and Vermont already have laws that direct their public utility commissions to collect a surcharge from their customers in order to fund energy conservation programs. These programs are managed by independent non-profit organizations created for that purpose, and have successfully achieved similar goals of reducing energy usage. As recently as March 2008, Vermont enacted a solar corporate tax credit tied to the federal solar tax credit, demonstrating interest in increasing renewable energy investment. But Oregon went further, creating an energy income tax credit program that funds both business and residential conservation and renewable energy investments. Oregon's program has been particularly functional because it uses a "pass through partner" provision that allows non-profit and municipal entities with no tax liability to participate. For-profit businesses may also utilize the pass through partner option to monetize their energy income tax credit upfront and thereby quickly fund a significant portion of their project costs. The state of Vermont could stimulate capital investment, conservation savings, and renewable energy sources through the introduction of a similar energy conservation and renewable energy income tax credit program. This proposal was presented to the Vermont State House of Representatives

    A new analysis by the Environmental Law & Policy Center reveals that the 1.5 million acre Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF) plays a key role in capturing and storing the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Although the CNNF amounts to only 0.2 percent of the nation's total forests, it is responsible for between 1.1 percent and 1.9 percent of the entire U.S. forests' sequestration-capturing and storing the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide that 1.4 million automobiles emit in a year. This means the CNNF is acting as a much larger carbon sink than its size would suggest, and this whitepaper details recommendations for maximizing the CNNF's carbon sequestration potential to create additional environmental and economic benefits. Thinking about forests as economic assets is a smart business approach to a reduced-carbon economy, and this whitepaper informed the Environmental Law and Policy Center's testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture.