You don't have to get far past the capital to see one economy end and another begin.
Few visitors to Cuba make it past the country's famed capital city, where cigar aficionados smoke up in private eating houses and
wealthy vacationers pass the nights in cabarets. But nine of Cuba's 11 million inhabitants live outside Havana, living very
different lives than the urban elite's. Here's a photographic tour of what the island looks like beyond its refurbished tourist destinations.
Above, a local farmer looks out over cropland in Viñales, in the northwestern corner of Cuba. Originally occupied by the Taíno -- Cuba's pre-Columbian
inhabitants -- Viñales became a destination for runaway slaves during colonial rule. Today, it is home to 27,000 people who live in one-story wooden and
concrete homes in a valley between the region's limestone cliffs. Outside of town, many of the farmhouses still lack electricity; in the mid-2000s, the
Cuban government and the UN Development Program teamed up to pay for the installation of thousands of solar panels around the region. Electricity is a
scarce resource in Cuba, leading to some dramatic services. In Viñales, for example, people dragged their old refrigerators out to the street in exchange
for free energy-efficient models from the government. Frequent public service announcements on the few Cuban television and radio channels stress the
importance of conserving both fresh water and electricity.
Sugarcane waves on a farm on the outskirts of Viñales. In 2011, President Raúl Castro agreed to stop subsiding the price of sugar. The goal was to
encourage private enterprise. In practice, Cubans are still able to buy sugar at a subsidized rate with their ration books, but not for much longer. These
government ration books currently provide about a third of the food the average Cuban eats; as many Cubans are living on a subsistence basis, higher prices
for a basic staple will be a struggle.
A farmer stands outside a hand-built thatch hut used for drying tobacco. Tobacco is another key Viñales crop, and the industry is a key engine of Cuba's
economy. Tobacco cultivation is labor intensive, and although collectively Cuban tobacco is a $200 million-dollar business, most tobacco farmers have small
profit margins. The process of planting, weeding, pruning, cutting, drying, and rolling tobacco takes time, especially without the aid of machines.
A farmer hoes a field using two oxen and a hand-lashed platform. Outside of the major cities, many daily activities are still performed by hand.
The open air kitchen of a farmer's family, including a typical wood-fired stove. Resolver,which translates literally into "to resolve,"
is a popular motto in the Cuban countryside, and people have developed ingenious ways of making ends meet, whether its augmenting income through various
gray and black market transactions, or cooking elaborate feasts in rudimentary kitchens like the one above.
Even in Havana, there exists a deep divide between the tourist economy and the resident economy. Above, pedestrians walk by an urban farm in Centro Habana,
a middle-class neighborhood. These government-backed operations are often the only way lower- and middle-class Cubans can afford fresh vegetables.
A crumbling building in a Havana suburb. As building materials are difficult to come by, many of Havana's streets have decrepit or collapsing structures.
Automobiles in Cuba are rare, old, and generally major air polluters. Cuban law makes it illegal to buy and sell cars made before 1960, and the government
restricts the right to car ownership except when it doles them out as rewards. For every 1,000 Cubans, there are 28 cars. (By comparison, the United States
has a car ownership ratio of 850 cars per 1,000 people.) There are other rules, too: all cars with blue governmental license plates are legally required to
stop and pick up hitchhikers. Above, a bus drives past a sign reading, "Defend socialism."
A taxi drives down a neighborhood street in Havana. While taxis catering to tourists charge between $4 and $6, a trip in a collectivo,an
informal taxi, costs 10 pesos in monedas nacionales, the currency for Cubans. Cuba has developed a dual currency system, with one currency, known
as cucs, used by foreigners, and monedas nacionales (MN), used by Cubans. The exchange rate is 25 MN to 1 cuc, which is worth a little
less than US$1. The disparity between the currencies has created inequality between those who work within the tourist economy and those who don't. One
driver I struck up a conversation with told me he was an engineer who worked a second job as a taxi driver to support his family. He owned his 1957
Oldsmobile, and had to pay the government a fee to be licensed as a collectivo driver. He told me that gasoline officially cost 1 cuc a liter
(approximately US$4.50 a gallon), but with a wink and a smile told me that it was possible to buy gas for as a little as 5 MN on the black market.
Two men enjoy the fresh sea breeze on the malecòn, the wide sea wall that runs along the edge of much of Havana. It's always populated, day or night. As
Cubans are not allowed to own property, many continue to live with their parents into their 20s and 30s -- making the malecòn a popular spot for
lovers to escape to.
A man reads the morning newspaper. Cuba's most widely circulated paper is the Granma, named for the boat that bore Fidel Castro and Che Guevara to
Cuba. Although Cuba has a literacy rate of 95.7 percent, the island's inhabitants are guaranteed neither the freedom of expression, nor the freedom of
press, and many critics of the regime are still regularly punished.
Men fish for dinner as the sun sets in Havana. Cuba has been praised for its ecological protections, although the pristine environment has more to do with
the country's anachronistic lifestyle than a commitment to green ideology. Nevertheless, Cuba suffers from its own brand of environmental degradation:
over-logging, the sprawl of the sugarcane fields, and mining pollution, among other problems.
Despite the U.S. embargo and the replacement of advertisements with political propaganda, many aspects of commercialism and American culture have managed
to reach Cuba. Above, a woman carries her son, who is holding a toy gun.
Above, cars drive past the capitol building, El Capitolio, in Havana. If the 1929 structure brings to mind the U.S. Capitol, it's no concidence. The Cuban building's cupola was actually constructed in the United States, and is a frequent reminder of the two countries' complex relationship.
Though it wasn’t pretty, Minaj was really teaching a lesson in civility.
Nicki Minaj didn’t, in the end, say much to Miley Cyrus at all. If you only read the comments that lit up the Internet at last night’s MTV Video Music Awards, you might think she was kidding, or got cut off, when she “called out” the former Disney star who was hosting: “And now, back to this bitch that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press. Miley, what’s good?”
To summarize: When Minaj’s “Anaconda” won the award for Best Hip-Hop Video, she took to the stage in a slow shuffle, shook her booty with presenter Rebel Wilson, and then gave an acceptance speech in which she switched vocal personas as amusingly as she does in her best raps—street-preacher-like when telling women “don’t you be out here depending on these little snotty-nosed boys”; sweetness and light when thanking her fans and pastor. Then a wave of nausea seemed to come over her, and she turned her gaze toward Cyrus. To me, the look on her face, not the words that she said, was the news of the night:
In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. Here’s why that’s disastrous for education—and mental health.
Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education describing a new campus politics of sexual paranoia—and was then subjected to a long investigation after students who were offended by the article and by a tweet she’d sent filed Title IX complaints against her. In June, a professor protecting himself with a pseudonym wrote an essay for Vox describing how gingerly he now has to teach. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me,” the headline said. A number of popular comedians, including Chris Rock, have stopped performing on college campuses (see Caitlin Flanagan’s article in this month’s issue). Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke.
Thicker ink, fewer smudges, and more strained hands: an Object Lesson
Recently, Bic launched acampaign to “save handwriting.” Named “Fight for Your Write,” it includes a pledge to “encourage the act of handwriting” in the pledge-taker’s home and community, and emphasizes putting more of the company’s ballpoints into classrooms.
As a teacher, I couldn’t help but wonder how anyone could think there’s a shortage. I find ballpoint pens all over the place: on classroom floors, behind desks. Dozens of castaways collect in cups on every teacher’s desk. They’re so ubiquitous that the word “ballpoint” is rarely used; they’re just “pens.” But despite its popularity, the ballpoint pen is relatively new in the history of handwriting, and its influence on popular handwriting is more complicated than the Bic campaign would imply.
Accusations of terrorism are a window into how the Turkish government tries to intimidate reporters, but also how a media bad boy is maturing.
Under Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s presidency, Turkish journalists have increasingly been badgered, intimidated, threatened, and punished. Now, however, the Turkish government is going after two foreign journalists.
It’s not difficult to see why the Turkish government might not want journalists in the area. Kurdish fighters, some backed by the U.S., have been battling ISIS in Iraq for months. While Turkey opposes ISIS, it’s also terrified of emboldened Kurds pushing for an autonomous state in the region. For decades, Ankara has fought a protracted war against Kurdish guerrilla groups in southeastern Turkey. After long trying to avoid being drawn into the conflict against ISIS, Turkey, a U.S. ally, has begun to take action, but it’s fighting against both ISIS and the Kurds, a strange case where, for the Turkish government, the enemy of my enemy might still be my enemy.
After calling his intellectual opponents treasonous, and allegedly exaggerating his credentials, a controversial law professor resigns from the United States Military Academy.
On Monday, West Point law professor William C. Bradford resigned after The Guardianreported that he had allegedly inflated his academic credentials. Bradford made headlines last week, when the editors of the National Security Law Journaldenounced a controversial article by him in their own summer issue:
As the incoming Editorial Board, we want to address concerns regarding Mr. Bradford’s contention that some scholars in legal academia could be considered as constituting a fifth column in the war against terror; his interpretation is that those scholars could be targeted as unlawful combatants. The substance of Mr. Bradford’s article cannot fairly be considered apart from the egregious breach of professional decorum that it exhibits. We cannot “unpublish” it, of course, but we can and do acknowledge that the article was not presentable for publication when we published it, and that we therefore repudiate it with sincere apologies to our readers.
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
What is the Islamic State?
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
The neurologist leaves behind a body of work that reveals a lifetime of asking difficult questions with empathy.
Oliver Sacks always seemed propelled by joyful curiosity. The neurologist’s writing is infused with this quality—equal parts buoyancy and diligence, the exuberant asking of difficult questions.
More specifically, Sacks had a fascination with ways of seeing and hearing and thinking. Which is another way of exploring experiences of living. He focused on modes of perception that are delightful not only because they are subjective, but precisely because they are very often faulty.
To say Sacks had a gift for this method of exploration is an understatement. He was a master at connecting curiosity to observation, and observation to emotion. Sacks died on Sunday after receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis earlier this year. He was 82.
The use of a stick to hold a camera at a distance for a self-portrait is not a new phenomenon, but the popularity of the new breed of extendable selfie stick has exploded over the past two years.
The use of a stick to hold a camera at a distance for a self-portrait is not a new phenomenon, but the popularity of the new breed of extendable selfie stick has exploded over the past two years. Multiple companies are producing varied versions of the device, tailored mostly to smartphone users. These sometimes-unwieldy extenders have been labeled as nuisances by some, especially in crowded public spaces, and have been banned in many museums, stadiums, and theme parks. Collected here are recent images of selfie sticks in use around the world, from high in the sky above China to the shores of Greece and beyond.
Many educators are introducing meditation into the classroom as a means of improving kids’ attention and emotional regulation.
A five-minute walk from the rickety, raised track that carries the 5 train through the Bronx, the English teacher Argos Gonzalez balanced a rounded metal bowl on an outstretched palm. His class—a mix of black and Hispanic students in their late teens, most of whom live in one of the poorest districts in New York City—by now were used to the sight of this unusual object: a Tibetan meditation bell.
“Today we’re going to talk about mindfulness of emotion,” Gonzalez said with a hint of a Venezuelan accent. “You guys remember what mindfulness is?” Met with quiet stares, Gonzalez gestured to one of the posters pasted at the back of the classroom, where the students a few weeks earlier had brainstormed terms describing the meaning of “mindfulness.” There were some tentative mumblings: “being focused,” “being aware of our surroundings.”
Can the sleek F-35 match the rugged dependability of the aging A-10? The Pentagon plans to find out.
If you’re the Pentagon, how do you choose between an aging, but dependable, fighter jet and a brand new aircraft that you’re not quite sure is up to the job? You have them fight it out, naturally.
That’s essentially what the Air Force said it would do when it announced that starting in 2018, it would pit the A-10 “Warthog” against the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in a series of tests to see if the new F-35s can adequately replace the A-10s, which the military wants to retire. A 40-year-old platform, the A-10 has been described by Martin Dempsey, the joint chiefs chairman, as “the ugliest, most beautiful aircraft on the planet.” It may be old, but as a certain Irish actor would say, it has a very particular set of skills: The A-10 excels at providing what’s known as “close-air support,” flying low and slow to provide ideal cover protection for U.S. troops fighting in ground combat. That capability is prized not only by the military, but also by a pair of key Republican lawmakers who oversee its budget, Senators John McCain and Kelly Ayotte.