>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.
This wasn’t terribly surprising. When Streep was asked, last year, in the course of promoting her extremely feminist film Suffragette, whether she is herself a feminist, the actor replied that, no, she isn’t. Instead: “I am a humanist,” she said. “I am for nice, easy balance.”
Einstein’s gravitational waves rest on a genuinely radical idea.
After decades of anticipation, we have directly detected gravitational waves—ripples in spacetime traveling at the speed of light through the universe. Scientists at LIGO (the Laser Interferometic Gravitational-wave Observatory) have announced that they have measured waves coming from the inspiral of two massive black holes, providing a spectacular confirmation of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, whose hundredth anniversary was celebrated just last year.
Finding gravitational waves indicates that Einstein was (once again) right, and opens a new window onto energetic events occurring around the universe. But there’s a deeper lesson, as well: a reminder of the central importance of locality, an idea that underlies much of modern physics.
Today’s empires are born on the web, and exert tremendous power in the material world.
Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t had the best week.
First, Facebook’s Free Basics platform was effectively banned in India. Then, a high-profile member of Facebook’s board of directors, the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, sounded off about the decision to his nearly half-a-million Twitter followers with a stunning comment.
“Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades,” Andreessen wrote. “Why stop now?”
After that, the Internet went nuts.
Andreessen deleted his tweet, apologized, and underscored that he is “100 percent opposed to colonialism” and “100 percent in favor of independence and freedom.” Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, followed up with his own Facebook post to say Andreessen’s comment was “deeply upsetting” to him, and not representative of the way he thinks “at all.”
Across China, where new developments are keeping pace with the rapidly growing economy, reports continue to surface so-called "nail houses."
Across China, where new developments are keeping pace with the rapidly growing economy, reports continue to surface of so-called "nail houses." These properties, standing alone amid the ruins of other buildings, belong to owners who have stood their ground and resisted demolition. Defiant property owners say the compensation being offered is too low. Some of them have remained in their homes for years as their court cases drag on and new construction continues all around them. A few homeowners have won their fights, but most have lost. Meanwhile, these nail houses have become powerful symbols of resistance against the world's fastest-growing major economy.
The number of American teens who excel at advanced math has surged. Why?
On a sultry evening last July, a tall, soft-spoken 17-year-old named David Stoner and nearly 600 other math whizzes from all over the world sat huddled in small groups around wicker bistro tables, talking in low voices and obsessively refreshing the browsers on their laptops. The air in the cavernous lobby of the Lotus Hotel Pang Suan Kaew in Chiang Mai, Thailand, was humid, recalls Stoner, whose light South Carolina accent warms his carefully chosen words. The tension in the room made it seem especially heavy, like the atmosphere at a high-stakes poker tournament.
Stoner and five teammates were representing the United States in the 56th International Mathematical Olympiad. They figured they’d done pretty well over the two days of competition. God knows, they’d trained hard. Stoner, like his teammates, had endured a grueling regime for more than a year—practicing tricky problems over breakfast before school and taking on more problems late into the evening after he completed the homework for his college-level math classes. Sometimes, he sketched out proofs on the large dry-erase board his dad had installed in his bedroom. Most nights, he put himself to sleep reading books like New Problems in Euclidean Geometry and An Introduction to Diophantine Equations.
Ben Stiller’s follow-up to his own comedy classic is a downright bummer, no matter how many celebrity cameos it tries to cram in.
You don’t need to go to the theater to get the full experience of Zoolander 2. Simply get your hands on a copy of the original, watch it, and then yell a bunch of unfunny topical lines every time somebody tells a joke. That’s how it feels to watch Ben Stiller’s sequel to his 2001 spoof of the fashion industry: Zoolander 2 takes pains to reference every successful gag you remember from the original, and then embellish them in painful—often offensive, almost always outdated—fashion. It’s a film that has no real reason to exist, and it spends its entire running time reaffirming that fact.
The original Zoolander, to be fair, had no business being as funny as it was—it made fun of an industry that already seems to exist in a constant state of self-parody, and much of its humor relied on simple malapropisms and sight gags. But it was hilarious anyway as a candid snapshot of the fizzling-out of ’90s culture. Like almost any zeitgeist comedy, it belonged to a particular moment—and boy, should it have stayed there. With Zoolander 2, Stiller (who directed, co-wrote, and stars) tries to recapture the magic of 2001 by referencing its past glories with increasing desperation, perhaps to avoid the fact that he has nothing new to say about the fashion industry or celebrity culture 15 years laters.
When four American women were murdered during El Salvador’s dirty war, a young U.S. official and his unlikely partner risked their lives to solve the case.
On December 1, 1980, two American Catholic churchwomen—an Ursuline nun and a lay missionary—sat down to dinner with Robert White, the U.S. ambassador to El Salvador. They worked in rural areas ministering to El Salvador’s desperately impoverished peasants, and White admired their commitment and courage. The talk turned to the government’s brutal tactics for fighting the country’s left-wing guerrillas, in a dirty war waged by death squads that dumped bodies in the streets and an army that massacred civilians. The women were alarmed by the incoming Reagan administration’s plans for a closer relationship with the military-led government. Because of a curfew, the women spent the night at the ambassador’s residence. The next day, after breakfast with the ambassador’s wife, they drove to San Salvador’s international airport to pick up two colleagues who were flying back from a conference in Nicaragua. Within hours, all four women would be dead.
Most people know how to help someone with a cut or a scrape. But what about a panic attack?
Here’s a thought experiment: You’re walking down the street with a friend when your companion falls and gashes her leg on the concrete. It’s bleeding; she’s in pain. It’s clear she’s going to need stitches. What do you do?
This one isn’t exactly a head-scratcher. You'd probably attempt to offer some sort of first-aid assistance until the bleeding stopped, or until she could get to medical help. Maybe you happen to have a Band-Aid on you, or a tissue to help her clean the wound, or a water bottle she can use to rinse it off. Maybe you pick her up and help her hobble towards transportation, or take her where she needs to go.
Here’s a harder one: What if, instead of an injured leg, that same friend has a panic attack?
The bureau successfully played the long game in both cases.
The story of law enforcement in the Oregon standoff is one of patience.
On the most obvious level, that was reflected in the 41 days that armed militia members occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns. It took 25 days before the FBI and state police moved to arrest several leaders of the occupation and to barricade the refuge. It took another 15 days before the last of the final occupiers walked out, Thursday morning Oregon time.
Each of those cases involved patience as well: Officers massed on Highway 395 didn’t shoot LaVoy Finicum when he tried to ram past a barricade, nearly striking an FBI agent, though when he reached for a gun in his pocket they finally fired. Meanwhile, despite increasingly hysterical behavior from David Fry, the final occupier, officers waited him out until he emerged peacefully.
How teachers and parents can identify and cultivate children who think creatively and unconventionally
In his new book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, the writer, Wharton professor, and erstwhile magician Adam Grant explores the circumstances that give rise to truly original thinkers. Through stories of business “originals” such as the Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio, and the Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal, he explains how unorthodox thinking can result in unprecedented success or—if shaped by groupthink or myopic vision—miserable failure.
Grant is a gifted educator himself, and, as Wharton’s top rated teacher for the past four years, knows a little something about identifying and cultivating original thinking in his students. I asked Grant about the role teachers play in educating original children, and how teachers and parents alike can protect what’s special in these original children—traits that have the potential to disrupt lesson plans today, but, if nurtured and protected, may just change the world tomorrow. Below is a lightly edited and condensed version of our conversation.