Lois Farrow Parshley


Covid | Stories | BIO | CONTACT
    • What happens when an epidemic meets a pandemic? Experts warn the people who are already the most vulnerable are made even more vulnerable in a pandemic—and they're not getting the medical care they need

      Friday March 13 was an unlucky day for Fiona Lowenstein. Over the weekend, the 26-year-old spiked a fever, then she started coughing, and soon she was so short of breath she had trouble speaking. At the hospital, Lowenstein tested positive for COVID-19. She was admitted and put on supplemental oxygen. After two days, she improved enough to go home—but her symptoms didn’t stop there.

      The moral burden of these decisions weighs heavily on providers. That's one of the reasons it's essential to recognize that right now, human resources are our scarcest resource. And it's important to recognize the long-standing problem of healthcare inequities and how that impacts triage decisions. “We are rationing medical care all the time—in the US, we fundamentally ration it by ability to pay," says Julia Lynch, a University of Pennsylvania professor of political science researching health policy.

    • Oops, I think I touched my face. Here's what to do if you have a fever and a dry cough.

      "As an ER doctor trying to treat patients who may have Covid-19, I can't underscore enough how much harder the lack of testing is making our job," Rob Davidson, an emergency physician in western Michigan says. Davidson fears what’s coming next: "With only seven ventilators in my hospital, an overwhelming surge of Covid-19 patients may force me to choose one life over another based strictly on resources."

      Rural America is not prepared for Covid-19—more than half of U.S. counties don't have ICU beds. The 60 million people who don't live in cities are getting less attention, and have access to fewer resources, but they need help too. The projections all look grim, but as Craig Smith, the surgeon-in-chief of Columbia University, wrote—in an Alaska-appropriate metaphor—"So what can we do? Load the sled, check the traces, feed Balto, and mush on. Our cargo must reach Nome."

      An ER doctor in Pennsylvania, who is also a spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians, doesn’t mince words. "It's a total clusterfuck. There's no leadership at the top. States are having to outbid each other for supplies because the federal government has refused to take a role, or is taking a role too little or too late."

      "As an ER doctor trying to treat patients who may have Covid-19, I can't underscore enough how much harder the lack of testing is making our job," Rob Davidson, an emergency physician in western Michigan says. Davidson fears what’s coming next: "With only seven ventilators in my hospital, an overwhelming surge of Covid-19 patients may force me to choose one life over another based strictly on resources."

      Viruses don't discriminate. American healthcare does. "Saying the black community is at higher risk without providing context is dangerous," says Lubna Ahmed, director of environmental health at New York City nonprofit WE ACT for Environmental Justice. "It's not genetics that makes us more susceptible. You have to understand this is going back to issues of environmental racism. And it's not something that's unique to Covid-19."

      "If we didn't have WHO, we would have to invent it," says Lawrence Gostin, a professor at Georgetown University and a past critic of WHO's director-general.

      If you measure Covid-19 outbreaks by hospital regions, rural communities are not at all being spared by the pandemic. Andrew Pavia, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah School of Medicine, says, "I think we’ve oversimplified this idea of peaks. We're not seeing one epidemic nationwide, or even statewide — we're seeing different outbreaks, thousands of them playing out in different parts of the country."

      For the last eight weeks, Lauren Nichols, a healthy 32-year old who tested positive for #Covid19, has struggled with varied symptoms: respiratory, gastrointestinal, and neurological. She calls her experience "a vicious cycle of doubt, confusion, and loneliness" as doctors couldn't help, and symptoms kept re-emerging. Nichols is one of many #Covid19 patients whose recovery takes longer than the 2 weeks WHO says to expect for mild cases. "People need to know this disease can linger and wreck your life and health," one patient says. "And no one knows what to do for us."

      "This week, the son of one of the residents told me I was taking away their liberties by making them wear a mask in the common areas," says a nursing home administrator in Nebraska. "If they were only harming themselves, I would back off, but they are placing each and every resident here, and my staff, and our families in harm's way." She adds, "I can fight the virus, but fighting the lies is what becomes overwhelming."

      "They didn't want to have masks maldistributed, because of the dire need for, and lack of, PPE for health care personnel," says Eric Topol, a research methods expert and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, calls WHO's delay "preposterous." But, he adds, "That's not the reason to say you don't need masks — that's the reason to say we desperately need to make masks."

      "We know that people with no symptoms but who are infected with the virus can and do transmit it to others," says Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

      Desiree Ann Wood is a truck driver who's been organizing donations of PPE for other truckers—people who are struggling to maintain the country's supply chains without adequate PPE to keep themselves safe. Across the country as cases resurge, people like Wood are being forced to fill the vacuum of federal leadership and coordination, organizing grassroots efforts to protect their communities. "We see this over and over again," Wood says. "We've really been left out to the wolves."

      As of today, globally there have been at least 10,185,374 Covid-19 cases, and 503,862 deaths. These numbers are likely under-reported. Horrors at such a scale can be difficult to put in perspective. Psychologists call this effect psychic numbing. As we face a very grim summer, Paul Slovic, a psychologist who's studied psychic numbing, has some good advice: "Don't let despair stop you from doing what you can. Even partial solutions save whole lives." As causalities mount, here are a few stories from patients, people in Nigeria, Spain, Iran, England, Italy, and New Jersey—they each had different experiences, and their stories show some institutions clearly responded better than others. These aren't meant to be representative. Rather, it's a reminder that behind every Covid-19 statistic is a person with loved ones.

      Despite having an infection rate higher than New York City this spring, the Navajo Nation — under the leadership of its President, Jonathan Nez — has since successfully flattened its curve. He has some thoughts on effectively leading through this crisis, and on addressing some underlying inequities that were problems long before the pandemic. "We framed it within our cultural teaching: We teach that we have fought monsters, but today, we also have modern monsters."

      There are no easy answers about whether to send your child back to child care or school. Everyone's level of risk is different. But your choices will impact others too. Here’s a deep dive into what we know about COVID and kids, including how to assess various studies that initially appear contradictory. Dr. Megan Ranney says, "Your decision impacts not just your kid, but other families. So you have to consider not just your family, but the health of the community at large."

      The science is clear: Masks slow Covid-19 transmission. But how do we actually get Americans to wear them? The short answer: Shaming doesn't work, and neither does just criminalizing non-compliance. We need public education on why they work. As one expert asks, "What risk should we let people take when their decisions affect others?"

      Teachers sick in training, students on the first day of class. Half the counties in Mississippi already quarantined. A Kansas teacher started a crowdsourced Google doc because no federal agency is publicly tracking how Covid-19 is impacting schools. Sadly, this was all predictable—the single most important factor in school safety is community transmission. More on the back-to-school mess and how to assess your school's risk.

    • Kobus Steenkamp's farm sprawls along a dirt road in South Africa's central plains, where the sky makes everything seem small. Steenkamp woke up here one morning after the rains in 2010 to find something strange happening with his sheep. “You could see there's blood at their backs,” he recalls. All his pregnant ewes were losing their lambs. It was every farmer's nightmare...

    • I had the opportunity to share my reporting on the long-term consequences some Covid-19 patients are experiencing, and the emerging science on the many ways the virus may impact your body.

      Many are still talking about Covid-19 in terms of mortality—I had the chance to talk with Today Explained today about why that obscures the disease's full impact. Plus, weird things like why some Covid patients can no longer bear the smell of garlic.

      Schools in the US are reopening even though kids play a key role in community transmission of Covid-19. I had the chance to share my reporting on what's happening across the country as politicians and school districts wrestle with what happens next.

Covid | Stories | BIO | CONTACT
    • Friday March 13 was an unlucky day for Fiona Lowenstein. Over the weekend, the 26-year-old spiked a fever, then she started coughing, and soon she was so short of breath she had trouble speaking. At the hospital, Lowenstein tested positive for COVID-19. She was admitted and put on supplemental oxygen. After two days, she improved enough to go home—but her symptoms didn’t stop there.

      What happens when an epidemic meets a pandemic?

      The mountains have vanished in swirling mist. Deep in the highlands of Bosnia and Herzegovina, peaks roll under a wet blanket of fog. Each step is a good faith effort to believe the summit is in blind reach. My hiking companion has a dying cell phone in one hand, eyes glued to a faltering map app. In the other is a Garmin with an inadequately detailed GPX track. In front of us the hillside drops off into pearly space.

      Lightning cracks across the Adriatic Sea, flashing over the white cragged peaks that form the mainland's shore. Wind cut through the trees. Our hammocks began to sway. The water, so clear earlier that day, whipped into black waves. We were camped along an isolated cove on the Croatian island of Cres. Miles from anywhere, as the rain began in earnest, Bernhard Wache remained unruffled. Wache, a German designer and free-diver, was on Cres in pursuit of a dream: "We wanted to escape everyday life," the 46-year-old says. "We were looking for a way to feel what's essential again."

      As the mercury climbed to 118°F in downtown Phoenix, the Pinal County Sheriff's Department got a desperate phone call—two young men had gotten lost and were in bad shape. Michael Snyder, the trooper paramedic who responded to the call, said it wasn't his first of the day—even earlier, two female hikers had run out of water. He loaded the necessary equipment in the helicopter, "in case we needed to do a short haul rope under the helicopter, or rappel people in." As the helicopter took off, he received word that the subject's medical condition was deteriorating rapidly.

    • Your screen time, your text messages, your location can now be used to detect health problems from Parkinson’s to depression—potentially changing everything from insurance rates to medical breakthroughs. But is our personal information at stake?

    • Out the window, a traditional stone and timber village clings to the hills above the churn of an ice-blue river. Cane Petrevski, the head of the sustainability unit of North Macedonia’s Mavrovo National Park, stubs out one cigarette and lights another, gesturing out at the gathering dusk. The rivers, he says, are “the heart of the national park.” But Petrevski was alarmed to find the government had recently changed its zoning to allow hydropower, even in strictly protected areas.

    • Huge computer screens line a dark, windowless control room in Corvallis, Oregon, where engineers at the company Nuscale Power hope to define the next wave of nuclear energy. Glowing icons fill the screens, representing the power output of 12 miniature nuclear reactors. Together, these small modular reactors would generate about the same amount of power as one of the conventional nuclear plants that currently dot the United States – producing enough electricity to power 540,000 homes.

    • Medical research is starting to acknowledge the social causes of disease. Since people of color often lack access to healthcare systems, a big part of this is leaving clinical settings—like bringing cancer screenings to barbershops. But an even bigger part is asking questions about how America’s disparities dictate who gets sick in the first place.

      The old totalitarian model—the one taught in high school history—was based on a Stalinist state ownership of means. The 21st-century model is quasi-democratic. "Now comes the illiberal version," says Miklós Haraszti, director of research on human rights at the Center for European Neighborhood Studies of Central European University—and a Hungarian who watched his own country transform into a populist autocracy. "There are plenty of names for it, but they all mean the same thing. It's a new state culture, operating through the semblanceof democracy."

      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.

    • Kobus Steenkamp's farm sprawls along a dirt road in South Africa's central plains, where the sky makes everything seem small. Steenkamp woke up here one morning after the rains in 2010 to find something strange happening with his sheep. “You could see there's blood at their backs,” he recalls. All his pregnant ewes were losing their lambs. It was every farmer's nightmare...

    • This week, white-clad first responders have finally begun to leave Paradise, California, where they’ve been searching the rubble for human remains. This year has become the state’s most destructive fire season ever, topping even last year’s lethal record-setting. But we may not be accurately calculating the true death tolls of all this incineration.

      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.

    • For many, a sense of displacement has become intergenerational – families living in both present and past, reluctant time travelers for whom resentment can become an antidote to gloominess. One way to forget a certain kind of pain is to feel another. Rarely has understanding how partisan issues divide a country seemed more relevant than today; in the Trump era, social rifts can feel insurmountable.

    • "Jo diga! Jo diga! Jo diga!" Outside the governmental offices in Tirana, Albania's capital city, dozens of protesters shout in unison. "No dams!" Police officers form a human barricade in front of the demonstrators, a strange mix of local villagers and kayakers geared up in life jackets and GoPro'ed helmets. Many are lugging around boats and paddles, bumping into one another amid the throng. It's a Euro version of The Monkey Wrench Gang.

    • Six hours north of Reykjavik, along a narrow road tracing windswept fjords, is the Icelandic town of Isafjordur, home of 3,000 people and the midnight sun. On a blustery May afternoon, snow still fills the couloirs that loom over the docks, where the Pall Palsson, a 583-ton trawler, has just returned from a three-day trip. Below the rust-spotted deck, neat boxes are packed with freshly caught fish and ice. "If you take all the skins from that trawler," says Fertram Sigurjonsson, the chairman and chief executive officer of Kerecis Ltd., gesturing over the catch, "we would be able to treat one in five wounds in the world."

      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.

    • On a quiet summer evening, the Aurora, a sixty-foot cutter-rigged sloop, approaches the craggy shore of eastern Greenland, along what's known as the Forbidden Coast. Its captain, Sigurdur Jonsson, a sturdy man in his fifties, stands carefully watching his charts. Because the splintered fjords create thousands of miles of uninhabited coastline, there's been little effort to map this region. "It's practically uncharted," he says. "You are almost in the same position as you were 1,000 years ago." Until a century ago, Greenlandic hunters would cut maps out of driftwood. "The wooden part would be the fjord, so it would be a mirror image," Siggi says. Compared to a paper map, it was actually quite accurate." Unlike drawings, the contoured wood could be felt, useful in a region where the sun disappears for months at a time. As a source of information, a map is always a way of groping through the darkness of the unknown. But locating yourself in space has never been cartography’s sole function: Like these driftwood pieces, maps inevitably chart how cultures perceive not only their landscapes but their lives.

    • In an early spring evening in southwestern Albania, Taulant Hazizaj walks between silver-gray olive trees near the Vjosa River. Farms sprawl over the wide river valley, swatches of irrigated green giving way to the rocky swell of surrounding hills. He points to an ancient tree, whose gnarled trunk is wider than a mans outstretched arms. "This village has been here for 2,000 years," Hazizaj says of his hometown, Kuta, tucked above the water's edge. But in 2016, the Albanian government sold a concession to build a dam a few miles downstream, and now this olive grove, and much of the valley — including the village itself — may soon be underwater. "If the dam is built, all of that will be gone," Hazizaj says.

      Dangerous Dams Podcast We have been drawn to the idea that there's a way to generate energy without negative impacts through renewable energy projects like wind, solar, and hydropower. But perhaps the more honest answer is that for every way we find to produce energy there will be an impact, and we just need to be honest about what that is.

    • 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.

    • 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."

    • 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.

    • When Tony Kanaan gets behind the wheel of his Number 10 racecar—gunning for victory in the IndyCar Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway, in Fort Worth—he'll steer 1,570 pounds of metal. That can make a guy sweat—especially in turns that create 5 G forces, when drivers in open-wheeled IndyCars are often inches from each other's tires and the slightest muscle twitch can mean the difference between a big win and being airborne. So Kanaan is particular about what he wears in his cramped cockpit for those two hours of white-knuckle concentration. But this season he is wearing something no racecar driver has ever worn before: a shirt with electrically conductive nano-fibers.

      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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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."

    • Early on a recent morning, woodsmoke wafted above the murmur of village life in Gorama, Sierra Leone, as Rupert Allan sat sweating in the shade of a concrete veranda. A member of Missing Maps—a humanitarian project that maps parts of the world vulnerable to natural disasters, conflicts and disease—Allan tapped away on a small laptop next to a black goat and a small, tame monkey. Connected by a smartphone hotspot, Allan was in charge of mapping the nearby area. Even local team members were sometimes astonished when they came across villages where their maps had showed blank spaces. "You’re watching light dawn in their eyes, as they see no one has ever been here—no one has ever cared enough to come here,” he says. "There's just people living in the forest hacking their own roads with machetes, essentially unknown to anyone."

    • 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.

    • 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."

    • 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.

    • 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 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."

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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?

    • 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.

    • 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.

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"No matter where you go,
there you are."

y mother named me after her 1978 yellow Schwinn bicycle; she said she didn't want to waste a good name. I'm Lois, an eighth generation Oregonian, currently a freelance journalist and photographer.

Previously, I worked as an editor in the feature well at Popular Science, and before that at The Atlantic and Foreign Policy. I've reported from all seven continents. My work has been published, in print and online, at The New Yorker, Harper's, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Virginia Quarterly Review, Granta, National Geographic, Newsweek, Outside, Wired, The Washington Post, Scientific American, Popular Science, HuffPost, Vice, and Pacific Standard, among others. My work has won numerous awards, including the Mirror Award for Best Profile, the Bricker Award for Science Writing and Medicine, and a finalist for the British Association of Science Writers.

I was a Knight Wallace Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan (2017-2018), the Arizona State University Sustainable Journalism Fellow (2018), and the Snedden Chair of Journalism at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2019-2020. I've received other fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the National Geographic Explorers Grant, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the United Nations Foundation, the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the World Federation of Science Journalists, and the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics.

I'm interested in creative ways to use digital platforms, and in addition to writing and photography have worked with audio, video, cartography, and page design. I'm available for freelance assignments.