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Category Archives: Reportages

Seventy-Two Hours at the Hasidic Burning Man

Pushkin Street has been transformed into a holy bazaar, and it’s crowded. Elbow to elbow, fur hat to fur hat, loudspeakers blaring out the chance to redeem your soul, stock up on groceries, or simply dance, dance, dance to the ecstatic music proclaiming God’s—and Rebbe Nachman’s—eternal greatness.If you want any remote chance of getting to the counter at one of the makeshift falafel or shawarma stands knocked together for the benefit of the tens of thousands of pilgrims who’ve just arrived, you’ve got to bore through a morass of people waving shekels, dollars, and hryvnias like it’s 99-cent-drink night at the local dive bar. It’s a jungle out here, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, in Uman, Ukraine, the burial place of the 19th-century Hasidic mystic rabbi known as Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (in Hasidism, “rebbe” is an affectionate term for “rabbi” that also connotes a strong spiritual leadership). Nachman promised redemption for anyone who visited his grave, and for more than 200 years that grave has been the site of a fevered pilgrimage for Jews from around the world. In the past decade, the atmosphere has grown carnivalesque at times, as the followers of Nachman, traditionally Hasidim from religious upbringings, have swelled with former Deadheads, erstwhile Phish Phanatics, reformed criminals, and recovering (and sometimes not) alcoholics and drug addicts. The operative language is Hebrew, though you hear English, French, Yiddish, and Russian. The only ones speaking Ukrainian are the locals, who are allowed onto Pushkin Street if they can prove they live or work in the area, a measure meant, presumably, to ease crowding, but also to prevent violence between the native population and the tens of thousands of once-a-year religious tourists. As a result, Ukrainians are sparse, but they’re not the only ones: The pilgrims are all men. Here and there I notice posters in Hebrew slapped onto telephone poles and synagogue walls: it is forbidden in places where there are large gatherings of men for women to be found!

Source: Seventy-Two Hours at the Hasidic Burning Man – Vice

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2017 in Europe, Reportages

 

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Into the woods: how one man survived alone in the wilderness for 27 years

Christopher Knight was only 20 years old when he walked away from society, not to be seen again for more than a quarter of a century. He had been working for less than a year installing home and vehicle alarm systems near Boston, Massachusetts, when abruptly, without giving notice to his boss, he quit his job. He never even returned his tools. He cashed his final pay cheque and left town.Knight did not tell anyone where he was going. “I had no one to tell,” he says. “I didn’t have any friends. I had no interest in my co-workers.” He drove down the east coast of America, eating fast food and staying in cheap motels – “the cheapest I could find”. He travelled for days, alone, until he found himself deep into Florida, sticking mostly to major roads, watching the world go by.Eventually, he turned around and headed north. He listened to the radio. Ronald Reagan was president; the Chernobyl nuclear disaster had just occurred. Driving through Georgia and the Carolinas and Virginia, blessed with invincibility of youth, buzzed by “the pleasure of driving”, he sensed an idea growing into a realisation, then solidifying into resolve.

Source: Into the woods: how one man survived alone in the wilderness for 27 years | Michael Finkel | News | The Guardian

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2017 in Reportages

 

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Into the woods: how one man survived alone in the wilderness for 27 years 

Christopher Knight was only 20 years old when he walked away from society, not to be seen again for more than a quarter of a century. He had been working for less than a year installing home and vehicle alarm systems near Boston, Massachusetts, when abruptly, without giving notice to his boss, he quit his job. He never even returned his tools. He cashed his final pay cheque and left town.
Knight did not tell anyone where he was going. “I had no one to tell,” he says. “I didn’t have any friends. I had no interest in my co-workers.” He drove down the east coast of America, eating fast food and staying in cheap motels – “the cheapest I could find”. He travelled for days, alone, until he found himself deep into Florida, sticking mostly to major roads, watching the world go by.
Eventually, he turned around and headed north. He listened to the radio. Ronald Reagan was president; the Chernobyl nuclear disaster had just occurred. Driving through Georgia and the Carolinas and Virginia, blessed with invincibility of youth, buzzed by “the pleasure of driving”, he sensed an idea growing into a realisation, then solidifying into resolve.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/mar/15/stranger-in-the-woods-christopher-knight-hermit-maine

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in North America, Reportages

 

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The working class revolts

One recent afternoon I set out on my old Raleigh bike on a tour of post-Brexit Britain. Two years earlier I had travelled the country on my bike as I researched a book. Now, after the vote for Brexit, I began another journey, this time with an even stronger sense of political disorientation. I wanted to discover what had become of the euphoria and, indeed, anger so present after the referendum of 23 June. For two weeks I cycled through the ex-industrial towns and cities of the Midlands and the north of England, two of the regions I visited in 2014.My method then had been basic and, to some, ill-advised. Over the four months I cycled, I either wild-camped or stayed in the homes of people who had heard about my venture by word of mouth, or whom I’d met along the road, and I asked people, simply: “What is life like here?” I received a bewildering range of responses, from ­worries about wages or what world their children might inherit, to explanations about ecological and community projects built on a sense of renewal and hope. I encountered generosity and insight into different ways of life in Britain, and last summer published my findings as Island Story, a travelogue in the spirit of William Cobbett and Orwell.

Source: The working class revolts

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2017 in Europe, Reportages

 

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Elon Musk’s Billion-Dollar Crusade to Stop the A.I. Apocalypse

It was just a friendly little argument about the fate of humanity. Demis Hassabis, a leading creator of advanced artificial intelligence, was chatting with Elon Musk, a leading doomsayer, about the perils of artificial intelligence.They are two of the most consequential and intriguing men in Silicon Valley who don’t live there. Hassabis, a co-founder of the mysterious London laboratory DeepMind, had come to Musk’s SpaceX rocket factory, outside Los Angeles, a few years ago. They were in the canteen, talking, as a massive rocket part traversed overhead. Musk explained that his ultimate goal at SpaceX was the most important project in the world: interplanetary colonization.Hassabis replied that, in fact, he was working on the most important project in the world: developing artificial super-intelligence. Musk countered that this was one reason we needed to colonize Mars—so that we’ll have a bolt-hole if A.I. goes rogue and turns on humanity. Amused, Hassabis said that A.I. would simply follow humans to Mars.This did nothing to soothe Musk’s anxieties (even though he says there are scenarios where A.I. wouldn’t follow).

Source: Elon Musk’s Billion-Dollar Crusade to Stop the A.I. Apocalypse | Vanity Fair

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2017 in Reportages

 

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For insect detectives, the trickiest cases involve the bugs that aren’t there

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Gale Ridge could tell something was wrong as soon as the man walked into her office at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. He was smartly dressed in a collared shirt and slacks, but his skin didn’t look right: It was bright pink, almost purple — and weirdly glassy.Without making eye contact, he sat hunched in the chair across from Ridge and began to speak. He was an internationally renowned physician and researcher. He had taught 20 years’ worth of students, treating patients all the while, and had solved mysteries about the body’s chemistry and how it could be broken by disease. But now, he was having health issues he didn’t know how to deal with.“He was being eaten alive by insects,” Ridge, an entomologist, recalled recently. “He described these flying entities that were coming at him at night and burrowing into his skin.”Their progeny, too, he said, seemed to be inside his flesh. He’d already seen his family doctor and dermatologist. He’d hired an exterminator to no avail. He had tried Epsom salts, vinegar, medication. So he took matters into his own hands, filling his bathtub with insecticide and clambering in for some relief.But even that wasn’t working. The biting, he said, would begin again. Ridge tried her best to help. “What I did was talk to him, explaining the different biologies of known arthropods that can live on people … trying to get him to understand that what he is seeing is not biologically known to science,” she said.

Source: For insect detectives, the trickiest cases involve the bugs that aren’t there

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2017 in Reportages

 

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Can we know what animals are thinking?

In 1992, at Tangalooma, off the coast of Queensland, people began to throw fish into the water for the local wild dolphins to eat. In 1998, the dolphins began to feed the humans, throwing fish up onto the jetty for them. The humans thought they were having a bit of fun feeding the animals. What, if anything, did the dolphins think?

Charles Darwin thought the mental capacities of animals and people differed only in degree, not kind — a natural conclusion to reach when armed with the radical new belief that the one evolved from the other. His last great book, “The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals”, examined joy, love and grief in birds, domestic animals and primates as well as in various human races. But Darwin’s attitude to animals — easily shared by people in everyday contact with dogs, horses, even mice — ran contrary to a long tradition in European thought which held that animals had no minds at all. This way of thinking stemmed from the argument of René Descartes, a great 17th-century philosopher, that people were creatures of reason, linked to the mind of God, while animals were merely machines made of flesh — living robots which, in the words of Nicolas Malebranche, one of his followers, “eat without pleasure, cry without pain, grow without knowing it: they desire nothing, fear nothing, know nothing.”

https://medium.economist.com/can-we-know-what-animals-are-thinking-83991bc994c4

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2017 in Reportages

 

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Onzichtbare voedselreuzen 

Wij zijn het meel in uw brood, de tarwe in uw noedels, het zout op uw friet. We zijn de maïs in uw tortilla’s, de chocola in uw dessert, de zoetstof in uw frisdrank. We zijn de olie in de saladedressing en het vlees in uw maaltijd. We zijn het katoen in uw kleren, de rug van uw tapijt en de kunstmest op uw veld.’

Het bedrijf achter deze brochuretekst maakt deel uit van een clubje vrijwel onbekende multinationals die de wereldwijde handel met grondstoffen voor de voedingsindustrie domineren. Die handel is big business. Eigenlijk is het best een beetje vreemd. De vier bedrijven hebben een gigantische omvang, maar wat hun namen zijn weet bijna niemand. Ze zorgen ervoor dat de grondstoffen dagelijks van verre akkers en via de verwerkende industrie naar ons bord worden gebracht en controleren zo bijvoorbeeld zeventig procent van de wereldwijde graanhandel. De vier zijn multinationale handelshuizen die je qua omzet zou kunnen vergelijken met complete landen. Bekende voedingsbedrijven als Unilever en Nestlé of zaadveredelaar Monsanto zijn slechts kleine broertjes. De jaaromzet van de vier handelshuizen is samen zo’n 250 miljard euro, ongeveer de helft van wat er in Nederland in één jaar verdiend wordt. Hun namen zijn ADM, Bunge, Cargill en Louis Dreyfus en worden ook wel afgekort tot ‘ABCD’.

Https://www.groene.nl/artikel/onzichtbare-voedselreuzen

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2017 in Reportages

 

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Greece’s Anarchists Are Taking Better Care of Refugees Than the Government

On July 7, I received a message on Facebook.My name Mouaz Khrayba of Daraa, Syria I am 20 years old It is now in the Greek island of Samos My brother was one of the journalists of the events in SyriaI dream to be wellMouaz Khrayba, who had been put in touch with me by a mutual acquaintance, had attached photos of refugees protesting in front of barbed-wire fences on Samos. Many of them held signs, one of which asked simply: what is our destiny?In 2011, I came to learn, Khrayba lived with his family in Nawa, a small city in Syria’s Daraa Governorate. His mother was a teacher, and he grew up one of eight children in a happy home. Opposite their house was a garden with fruit trees and vegetables. Things took a turn during the protests that triggered the Syrian Civil War. The government repeatedly arrested his brother, Zahar, who worked as a media activist and protest organizer. In the armed uprising that followed, their family home was shelled and burned, and Zahar joined a Free Syrian Army battalion. He died of shrapnel wounds covering a battle in Nafaa. Khrayba’s father also lost his life during the war.

Source: Greece’s Anarchists Are Taking Better Care of Refugees Than the Government – Vice

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2017 in European Union, Reportages

 

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The CIA Didn’t Break Signal or WhatsApp, Despite What You’ve Heard

There’s been one particularly misleading claim repeated throughout coverage of CIA documents released by WikiLeaks today: That the agency’s in-house hackers “bypassed” the encryption used by popular secure-chat software like Signal and WhatsApp.By specifically mentioning these apps, news outlets implied that the agency has a means of getting through the protections built into the chat systems. It doesn’t. Instead, it has the ability, in some cases, to take control of entire phones; accessing encrypted chats is simply one of many security implication of this. Wikileaks’ own analysis of the documents at least briefly acknowledges this, stating that CIA “techniques permit the CIA to bypass the encryption of WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Wiebo, Confide and Cloackman by hacking the ‘smart’ phones that they run on and collecting audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.”

Source: The CIA Didn’t Break Signal or WhatsApp, Despite What You’ve Heard

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2017 in Reportages

 

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