>PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- "I think we can call this the calm before the storm," announced one Haitian radio broadcaster Friday afternoon as journalists, politicians and ordinary Haitians impatiently awaited the release of the official candidate list for the November 28 presidential election. But the storm hasn't broken--one could speak of scattered showers, perhaps, with a few burning tires in Gonaives, some peaceful protesters in Delmas--but nothing equaling the anticipated social hurricane.
Wyclef Jean is not in the running to be the next president of Haiti, contrary to the apparent desires of many Haitians filling the streets throughout the country over the last few days. The Provisional Electoral Council announced the list of 19 approved presidential candidates, and 15 rejected applications--including that of Jean's--late Friday night.
Richardson Dumel announces the official candidate list for Haiti's November 28 election at the Provisional Electoral Council in Petionville.
While the legal justifications for the decisions have not been released, the hindering factor was likely the question of residency. Candidates are required to have resided in the country for five years ahead of the election, and while Jean's lawyers maintained his paperwork was "tight", until the end, everyone could see that Jean traveled the world and spent much of his time in the U.S.
Thus closes a chapter of excitement both among ordinary Haitians and international media outlets that had overtaken the country since Jean applied to run.
What this means for politics in Haiti, and daily life for Haitians struggling through unemployment and quotidian instability, however, varies depending on the source. In any case the campaign circuit will be less of a spectacle without the highly popular hip-hop star.
Whoever does become president may struggle to garner popular support. Many youths said, both before and after the publication of the candidate list, that they would not vote if Jean was not deemed eligible.
Even after Reuters leaked the news of Jean's rejection on Thursday, many Haitians, as well as many in Jean's camp held out hope, waiting for the official results. At 6 p.m. on Friday, Nostand Justin was waiting outside Hotel Kinam where Wyclef was staying, a block away from the electoral council. "I am waiting for Wyclef because I love him," she said, "I'm going to vote, but not if he's not a candidate."
"Where is the president?! Give us Wyclef!" youth yelled, while waiting for Jean in Les Cayes on Sunday August 15, before he was blocked from participating in Haiti's presidential election.
"It is a sad day for Haiti, and a sad day for the youth," said Fritz Clairvil, one of Jean's aides. "Haiti has lost, once again, an opportunity to have a real change, because Wyclef is not a professional politician, and in Haiti you only have professional politicians who take over the country."
Even though Jean had not officially launched his campaign and had not presented any concrete plan, he was framed as change, and to some a risk worth taking. "He would represent a rupture with the status quo," said a business owner in Les Cayes last week.
Others, however, question the accuracy of his image of change. "We need to get out of the current framework, because it is always responding to a person or a personality and not a program." Said Alex Fils-Aimé, a government deputy for disarmament and political commentator. The interest of many youths in the campaign only to support Jean is testament to this interpretation.
Social stratification is prominent in Haitian society and politics. Some saw Jean as bridging the class divide, because, even though he is a multimillionaire, he spoke to the people--though of course, his brief public appearances and strolls through slums were offset by stays in luxury hotels and rides through the country in his Land Cruiser.
Jean maintains that he will continue representing Haiti and working to improve the country as he had before, wearing the flag as he tours the world--a role for which many detractors think the star is better equipped.
His supporters claim that unrest may still arise. "For the youth, and the university students unable to get a job, the unemployed and the people in tents, this was a coup," Said Jenson Desrosiers, one of Jean's aides, "because they know that if they had passed this stage they wouldn't be able to stop us ... and we're not going to let it slide." Desrosiers says they are waiting for people to cool down to avoid violence, but are planning protests to undermine the elections, and eventually the next president.
The most serious remaining contenders come from the established political elite. Mirlande Manigat is a university professor and former first lady who nearly won a 2006 senate seat before dropping out ahead of the run-off.* Jude Celestin, representing the ruling Unité party is the current national director of the office overseeing infrastructure, but has never been a public political figure. Jaques-Edouard Alexis is a two time prime minister under current president René Preval, but was dismissed from his post amidst food riots in 2008. Yves Cristallin is the national director of social affairs; Leslie Voltaire is the current special envoy for Haiti to the United Nations; and Yvon Neptune is a former senator and prime minister under former president Aristide.
Michelle Martelly, a Kompa music star known for stripping during his performances, is the only remaining pop-culture icon, and most see his candidacy as a joke.
Politics in Haiti has therefore returned to, well, politics, something many ordinary Haitians have grown weary of--with the political elite debating, seemingly to no end, while the masses struggle.
With or without Jean as a political contender, Fils Aimé asserted, "we need a total change in focus and values and energy." Whether Haiti's politicians will rise to the challenge remains to be seen. But the remaining contenders--each with his own history of implication in Haiti's messy politics--will have to work doubly to convince the people that they can change the status quo and improve the lot of everyday Haitians.
Allyn Gaestel is a freelance journalist based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, who writes on international politics, social issues, and human rights. She is a former United Nations correspondent and National Press Foundation Fellow.
The same part of the brain that allows us to step into the shoes of others also helps us restrain ourselves.
You’ve likely seen the video before: a stream of kids, confronted with a single, alluring marshmallow. If they can resist eating it for 15 minutes, they’ll get two. Some do. Others cave almost immediately.
This “Marshmallow Test,” first conducted in the 1960s, perfectly illustrates the ongoing war between impulsivity and self-control. The kids have to tamp down their immediate desires and focus on long-term goals—an ability that correlates with their later health, wealth, and academic success, and that is supposedly controlled by the front part of the brain. But a new study by Alexander Soutschek at the University of Zurich suggests that self-control is also influenced by another brain region—and one that casts this ability in a different light.
Why the ingrained expectation that women should desire to become parents is unhealthy
In 2008, Nebraska decriminalized child abandonment. The move was part of a "safe haven" law designed to address increased rates of infanticide in the state. Like other safe-haven laws, parents in Nebraska who felt unprepared to care for their babies could drop them off in a designated location without fear of arrest and prosecution. But legislators made a major logistical error: They failed to implement an age limitation for dropped-off children.
Within just weeks of the law passing, parents started dropping off their kids. But here's the rub: None of them were infants. A couple of months in, 36 children had been left in state hospitals and police stations. Twenty-two of the children were over 13 years old. A 51-year-old grandmother dropped off a 12-year-old boy. One father dropped off his entire family -- nine children from ages one to 17. Others drove from neighboring states to drop off their children once they heard that they could abandon them without repercussion.
Americans are optimistic about the communities they live in—but not their nation. Why?
I have been alive for a long time. I remember the assassination of John F. Kennedy, when I was a 10th-grader, and then watching with my family through the grim following days as newscasters said that something had changed forever. The next dozen years were nearly nonstop trauma for the country. More assassinations. Riots in most major cities. All the pain and waste and tragedy of the Vietnam War, and then the public sense of heading into the utterly unknown as, for the first time ever, a president was forced to resign. Americans of my children’s generation can remember the modern wave of shocks and dislocations that started but did not end with the 9/11 attacks.
Through all this time, I have been personally and professionally, and increasingly, an American optimist. The long years I have spent living and working outside the United States have not simply made me more aware of my own strong identity as an American. They have also sharpened my appreciation for the practical ramifications of the American idea. For me this is the belief that through its cycle of struggle and renewal, the United States is in a continual process of becoming a better version of itself. What I have seen directly over the past decade, roughly half in China and much of the rest in reporting trips around the United States, has reinforced my sense that our current era has been another one of painful but remarkable reinvention, in which the United States is doing more than most other societies to position itself, despite technological and economic challenges, for a new era of prosperity, opportunity, and hope.
Strangling public-sector unions in Wisconsin has shrunk teachers’ pay and benefits. Who’s next?
Back in 2009, Rick Erickson was happy with his job as a teacher in one of the state’s northernmost school districts on the shores of Lake Superior. He made $35,770 a year teaching chemistry and physics, which wasn’t a lot of money, but then again, he received stellar healthcare and pension benefits, and could talk honestly with administrators about what he needed as a teacher every two years when his union sat down with the school district in collective bargaining sessions.
Then, five years ago, Wisconsin passed Act 10, also known as the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill, which dramatically limited the ability of teachers and other public employees to bargain with employers on wages, benefits, and working conditions. After Act 10,Erickson saw his take-home pay drop dramatically: He now makes $30,650. His wife is a teacher, too, and together they make 11 percent less than they did before Act 10. The local union he once led no longer exists, and so he can’t bargain with the school district for things like prep time and sick days. He pays more for health care and his pension, and he says both he and his wife may now not be able to retire until they are much older than they had planned.
Babylonian tablets suggest that Earth’s rotation is slowing less than expected.
On the morning of April 15, 136 B.C.E., residents of the ancient city of Babylon, in what is now Iraq, experienced quite a sight. An hour and a half after sunrise, the moon moved across the face of the sun, blotting it out so only the golden halo of its atmosphere was visible. The sky went dark.
“Venus, Mercury and the Normal Stars were visible; Jupiter and Mars, which were in their period of disappearance, were visible in that eclipse,” a Babylonian astrologer inscribed in cuneiform, on a clay tablet now stored in the British Museum.
To measure the eclipse’s duration, the astrologer would have used a cylindrical vessel called a clepsydra, or a water clock, whose slow draining marked the passage of time. “It moved from SW to NE. 35 us [time duration] for obscuration and clearing up. In that eclipse, north wind which...” The rest of the observation is on a missing chunk of tablet and was lost to history, but the astrologer may have been noting that the wind shifted direction, which happens during a total eclipse.
Long-shot efforts to stop Donald Trump or change the election system risk taking up time and energy with little to show at the end.
As Donald Trump’s inauguration draws near, Democrats are channeling time and energy into long-shot political fights focused on the Electoral College. But while their efforts have generated media attention, they ultimately seem unlikely to win back the power liberals lost in the presidential election.
A group of Democratic electors areleading the charge for an Electoral College revolt by attempting to convince electors to deny Trump the White House when they vote for president later this month. At least one Republican elector has also publicly advocated for his colleagues to reject Trump: “I believe electors should unify behind a Republican alternative,” he wrote in a New York Times op-ed on Monday.
In a completely new approach, scientists reduced a hallmark of the disease in mice by stimulating their neurons with flickering lights.
When a crowd starts to applaud, each person initially does so to their own rhythm. But in some cases, those claps can synchronize, with hundreds or thousands or millions of hands striking in unison.
Something similar happens in the brain. When a single neuron fires, it sends an electrical pulse down its length. But large networks of neurons can also fire together, creating regular cycles of electrical activity that resemble the synchronized applause of a rapturous crowd. Formally, these are called neural oscillations; more colloquially, they’re brain waves.
These waves are classified by how frequently the neurons fire in a single second. If they fire one to four times, that’s a delta wave, which occurs during deep sleep. If they fire 12 to 30 times, that’s a beta wave, which is typical of normal wakefulness. And if they do so 30 to 90 times, that’s a gamma wave, which has been linked to higher mental abilities, like memory, attention, and perception. It’s no surprise, then, that scientists have seen disrupted gamma waves in many types of brain disorders, including injuries, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Unless he divests himself of his business holdings, the president-elect could violate constitutional rules meant to guard against corruption.
With the recent news that two Republican electors are refusing to vote for Donald Trump, we have been inundated with inquiries asking whether other electors should decline to select Trump because of a particular constitutional issue. It’s one we worked on when we were advising Presidents Bush and Obama, respectively: the Emoluments Clause.
Every elector must search his or her own conscience, but after a blizzard of reporting on the president-elect’s foreign business relations in recent days, it appears that Trump will be in violation of this clause of the Constitution from the moment he takes office—and the plan for his business that he hinted at on Twitter last week does not solve the problem.
Trump’s nominee for attorney general claims to have “filed 20 or 30” desegregation cases as U.S. attorney in Alabama, but there’s little evidence to support that.
Civil-rights organizations balked when Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, who was rejected for a federal judgeship in 1986 over allegations he made racist remarks, was chosen to succeed Loretta Lynch as attorney general. Sessions’s allies have sought to portray those criticisms as unfair, in part by pointing to his record of filing desegregation lawsuits as U.S. attorney in Alabama.
Sessions himself claims to have been a champion of desegregation. “I filed 20 or 30 civil-rights cases to desegregate schools and political organizations and county commissions when I was a United States attorney,” Sessions told National Review in 2009. Trump spokesman Jason Miller offered a similar claim in November, telling reporters on a conference call that “when Senator Sessions was U.S. attorney, he filed a number of desegregation lawsuits in Alabama.” Miller’s claim about his record has been reported by outlets including Politico, Wired, and The Washington Times. Conservative outlets have dismissed the questioning of his civil-rights record as "another in a long line of liberal smears" against a principled conservative, in part by citing his record on school desegregation.
Everyone has someone on their holiday shopping list who’s impossible to buy for. For the second year in a row, we asked Atlantic readers to describe their someone, and brainstormed a few perfect gift ideas for them.
There should be a word for it—the agony of loving someone, or feeling familially obligated to them, and having no idea what to buy them as the next gift-giving occasion draws near. Liebengeschenkenschmerz? We’ll workshop it.
Even if you’re a winter-holiday fanatic, that anxiety can put a damper on seasonal festivity. So, for the second year in a row, we set out to help, with a different take on the traditional gift guide. Last month, we put out a call to Atlantic readers to describe the person on their shopping list who’s the most difficult to buy for. We picked 15 across the spectra of relationship, age, gender, and location, and a collection of Atlantic staffers buckled down to brainstorm some fitting gift ideas. (Note: The descriptions from readers, in italics below, have been edited lightly for style and clarity.) Maybe one of our suggestions will suit the impossible someone on your list, or otherwise inspire some gift-giving greatness.