Browsing articles from "September, 2014"

French Citizen Is Kidnapped In Algeria By Islamist Splinter Group

Sep 23, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on French Citizen Is Kidnapped In Algeria By Islamist Splinter Group

A Frenchman was kidnapped by an armed group in Algeria on Sunday, the French government said.

NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley reports the man was captured just hours after the Islamic State called on its followers to launch attacks against French citizens.

Eleanor filed this report for our Newscast Unit:

“A video released by a little known Islamist splinter group called the Caliphate Soldiers, shows the Frenchman sitting between two armed men with covered faces. He gives his name and age. He says he’s a mountain guide who was taken hostage on Sunday.

“The Frenchman then asks French President François Hollande not to intervene in Iraq.

“France carried out its first air raids against Islamic State positions in Iraq On Friday.

“Earlier today the Sunni militant group put out a statement calling on its faithful to kill americans, French citizens and other members of the coalition any way they can.

“Hollande spoke with the Algerian prime minister after the kidnapping. Both governments say everything is being done to find the missing Frenchman.”

France 24 reports that French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said, “France is not afraid” of the Islamic State.

“This is not the first time France has been threatened by terrorist groups who attack the values of tolerance… respect for human rights and democracy, which France has upheld through its secular history,” Cazeneuve said.

Reuters reports that the Caliphate Soldiers split from al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb back in September. Since then, it has “sworn loyalty to the Islamic State.”

U.S., Allies Hit Islamic State Targets In Syria, Pentagon Says

Sep 23, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on U.S., Allies Hit Islamic State Targets In Syria, Pentagon Says

An Islamic State militant, left, stands next to Raqqah residents Sept. 16 as they hold pieces of wreckage from a Syrian war plane after it crashed in the northeast Syrian town.i
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An Islamic State militant, left, stands next to Raqqah residents Sept. 16 as they hold pieces of wreckage from a Syrian war plane after it crashed in the northeast Syrian town.

Reuters /Landov


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An Islamic State militant, left, stands next to Raqqah residents Sept. 16 as they hold pieces of wreckage from a Syrian war plane after it crashed in the northeast Syrian town.

An Islamic State militant, left, stands next to Raqqah residents Sept. 16 as they hold pieces of wreckage from a Syrian war plane after it crashed in the northeast Syrian town.

Reuters /Landov

The United States and its allies expanded their assault against the Islamic State on Monday, striking targets inside Syria for the first time, the Pentagon said.

In a statement, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said the U.S. had used “a mix of fighter, bomber and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles.”

Kirby said that because these strikes are ongoing, he could not go into details about where in Syria the allies were attacking. But a Pentagon official tells NPR’s Tom Bowman that the strikes occurred near Raqqah, an Islamic State stronghold.

In his statement, Kirby did not name which U.S. allies took part in the strikes.

“The decision to conduct theses strikes was made earlier today by the U.S. Central Command commander under authorization granted him by the commander in chief,” Kirby said.

The expansion of the U.S. offensive against the Sunni militant group was expected. During a prime-time speech, President Obama said the U.S. would “take out” the Islamic State “wherever they exist.” Still, Syria has been a contentious issue for the administration, because it has taken a cautious approach toward intervening in the country’s civil war.

One of the worries has been that U.S. strikes on the Islamic State inside Syria could help the regime of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad.

If you remember, the Islamic State came to international prominence over the summer, when it began a brazen and lightning-fast attack on Iraq. Since then, the militant group has overtaken several Iraqi cities and has taken responsibility for the beheading of two American journalists.

As the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS and ISIL, moved farther into Iraq, the United States began an air campaign against the group.

Obama told the American public that this will be a protracted effort to destroy the group.

Sandwich Monday: The Abe Lincoln

Sep 22, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Sandwich Monday: The Abe Lincoln

The Abe Lincolni
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The Abe Lincoln

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The Abe Lincoln

The Abe Lincoln

NPR

Fourscore and 700 calories ago, I took my first few bites of the Abe Lincoln Sandwich from Skrine Chops in Chicago. In a tribute to our 16th president, they’ve stacked up sausages like Lincoln Logs, set them atop a bed of mashed potatoes and doused them in barbecue sauce, all on a hamburger bun.

Ian: How is this sandwich not the first thing on Lincoln’s Wikipedia page?

Kelsie: The ONLY way to play Lincoln Logs is with sausages.

Mike: Yeah, this really reminds me of playing with Lincoln Logs as a kid, only now it makes sense that my hands are covered in mashed potatoes.

Even Robert's patented Double Eagle Sandwich Grip cannot contain the mashed potatoes.i
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Even Robert’s patented Double Eagle Sandwich Grip cannot contain the mashed potatoes.

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Even Robert's patented Double Eagle Sandwich Grip cannot contain the mashed potatoes.

Even Robert’s patented Double Eagle Sandwich Grip cannot contain the mashed potatoes.

NPR

We were too busy thinking about lunch to realize that today is the 152nd Anniversary of the first issue of the Emancipation Proclamation, but our friends at NPR let us know. It’s an amazing coincidence, because as we all know, 152 is the Sausage Anniversary.

Miles: You have to admit, “Railsplitter” is a much cooler nickname than “Sausage Stacker.”

Ian: This tribute to Lincoln makes me feel like Taft.

Zombie George Washington: Just the mashed potatoes for me, please. My teeth don’t work.

Robert: I think we can all agree this sandwich deserves its place on Mount Rushmore.

The better angel of our nature needs CPR.i
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The better angel of our nature needs CPR.

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The better angel of our nature needs CPR.

The better angel of our nature needs CPR.

NPR

Robert: With this sandwich, that “With malice toward none” line kind of makes Honest Abe a big ol’ liar, doesn’t it?

Miles: No no no, the nickname “Honest Abe” dates back to when he explained his idea for this sandwich to his cabinet and they all said, “Honestly, Abe?!”

Mike realizes Abraham Lincoln has finally passed David Palmer as his favorite president.i
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Mike realizes Abraham Lincoln has finally passed David Palmer as his favorite president.

NPR


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Mike realizes Abraham Lincoln has finally passed David Palmer as his favorite president.

Mike realizes Abraham Lincoln has finally passed David Palmer as his favorite president.

NPR

Miles: I ate too much. Now I’m going to be Sick Semper Tyrannis.

Robert: This is a fun lunch, but I hate it when Abe and Stephen Douglas get in a debate about who picks up the check.

Mike: This explains why Lincoln was known as “The Great Emashedpotaters.”

[The verdict: a pretty spectacular sandwich. The mashed potatoes provide a nice flavor and a firm foundation on which to build the rest of the sandwich. It’s what we’ll be eating every President’s Day, and most other days, from now on.]

Sandwich Monday is a satirical feature from the humorists at Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me!

World Cafe Next: Cleopatra Degher

Sep 22, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on World Cafe Next: Cleopatra Degher

Cleopatra Degher.i
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Cleopatra Degher.

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Cleopatra Degher.

Cleopatra Degher.

Courtesy of the artist

Our World Cafe: Next artist this week, Cleopatra Degher, released her first full-length album, Pacific, earlier this month. Degher joins a rich lineage of folk musicians from the Golden State, but her spot in that history came with a long detour: Though born in San Diego, she grew up in Sweden and didn’t return to California until she was 18.

Still, Degher’s open, breezy arrangements speak fluent Californian. It’s as if she never left.

A Poet Parses The Legacy Of War In ‘My Life As A Foreign Country’

Sep 22, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on A Poet Parses The Legacy Of War In ‘My Life As A Foreign Country’


My Life As a Foreign Country

War is in Brian Turner’s blood. His father served during the Cold War, his uncle fought in Vietnam, his grandfather fought in World War II and his great-grandfather in World War I. And the family’s warrior tendencies went beyond deployments: Turner’s dad built a martial arts studio in the garage, and the family mixed napalm and blew things up for fun.

Turner himself, whose Army deployments included tours in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Iraq, is a poet as well as a soldier. His work includes the award-winning piece “The Hurt Locker,” inspired by his service in Iraq.

In his memoir, My Life As A Foreign Country, the poet turns to prose, using fragmented, lyrical language to explore his inheritance of war and what it means to be a soldier today.

Turner tells NPR’s Arun Rath that his squad leader once said, ” ‘Men, we’re in the job of hunting for people’s souls.’ “

The poet adds, “Of course, the contract that goes with that is that others will hunt for our own.”

Inspired by that reciprocal relationship, Turner offers readers a window into not only his family’s experience of war, but also the imagined perspectives of bystanders and enemies: bomb-makers in Iraq, families caught in the crossfire, the kamikaze pilots who fought his grandfather.

One perspective that is missing, Turner says, is that of the women in his family. “They’re connected to this conversation just as deeply, but this particular book, I really try to follow one vein … masculinity in war, the development of myself as a man,” he tells Rath. “But I think there’s probably another book in the future that will look to the other side of the house, and learn a great deal.”

Click on the audio link to hear the full conversation, including an excerpt from Turner’s memoir.

Interview Highlights

On his decision to enlist in the Army

For years people have asked me … And I would give them a shorthand, which is that I come from a long military tradition. But I realized that there are layers and levels within that answer that I … didn’t really have access to. That was the prompt for writing this book. …

Brian Turner is an award-winning poet. His previous books include Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise.i
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Brian Turner is an award-winning poet. His previous books include Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise.

Kimberly Buchheit/W.W. Norton Company


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Kimberly Buchheit/W.W. Norton Company

Brian Turner is an award-winning poet. His previous books include Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise.

Brian Turner is an award-winning poet. His previous books include Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise.

Kimberly Buchheit/W.W. Norton Company

It’s something that I’m still grappling with and I’m not quite yet able to answer. And the book itself led me into other questions that were unexpected.

On the decision to write from multiple perspectives, including that of the enemy

In the very moment when bullets are in the air … it’s more primal and much more dependent on fear. … But outside of those moments, the vast majority of the experience that I had — when I was in Iraq, for example, I would often wonder about the people who had shot at us the day before, the people whose houses we were about to raid that night. One of them could take my life. Or there’s a chance I could take theirs. And I wanted to understand them.

On his motivation to write a war memoir

I could have written this all completely for myself, which I did, on its own. But sharing it with others, what’s the point in doing that? Part of me hopes that through some of these moments, they might be completed in the reader … the war might come home. And I know that’s very difficult, I don’t want to inflict pain or indict the citizens around me. But this is a part of our time and I want to be in a dialogue with people about it.

On his advice to a grandson who may want to carry on the family tradition of military service

There’d be two things. The first and most fundamental would be, do you want to live a life in which you have taken part in taking someone’s soul? Taking the last breath of their life and placing the dirt over their grave? Can you walk into the rest of the days of your life with that weight?

The other thing I would say is, encourage them to go to a foreign country and live in a foreign country for a year. … To be able to look back from another part of the globe and see America with a certain remove. And maybe see its place in the world. I think they’d be much richer in their lives for that experience, for one. And then the second part of that is, if they still want to join the military, then I know they’re fully committed to this idea and that they’ll be better soldiers for it.

Jennifer Hudson’s New Album, A Poet’s War Memoir, And Young Players React To NFL

Sep 22, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Jennifer Hudson’s New Album, A Poet’s War Memoir, And Young Players React To NFL

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Jennifer Hudson's new album is titled JHUD.i
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Jennifer Hudson’s new album is titled JHUD.

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Jennifer Hudson's new album is titled JHUD.

Jennifer Hudson’s new album is titled JHUD.

Courtesy of the artist

In this week’s episode, Jennifer Hudson on her new album, JHUD, poet Brian Turner’s talks about his memoir, My Life As A Foreign Country, and young football players on the NFL’s recent scandals.

Man Caught At White House Is An Army Veteran

Sep 21, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Man Caught At White House Is An Army Veteran

Omar J. Gonzales, the 42-year-old man who the Secret Service says ran onto the White House grounds and entered a door Friday night, is an Army veteran who served in Iraq and was reportedly a sniper.

As we reported yesterday, Gonzales is accused of scaling a fence and running across the lawn of the presidential residence and opening a door at the North Portico just before 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Obama family was not at home at the time, and initial reports were that the intruder was unarmed – but court documents filed yesterday say he was carrying a small folding knife.

“Authorities have identified the intruder from Friday night’s shocking incident as Omar J. Gonzalez, 42, of Copperas Cove, Texas,” the AP reports, “and the Army said he had served from 1997 to 2003, when he was discharged, and then again from 2005 to December 2012, when he retired.”

Gonzalez has been suffering from depression and had been taking medication, according to a family member contacted by The Los Angeles Times. The relative says Gonzalez has had a hard time since he was injured by an IED while he was deployed to Iraq.

From the Times:

“A family member in California said Gonzalez, 42, of Copperas Cove, Texas, near Fort Hood, has been homeless and living alone in the wild and in campgrounds with his two pet dogs for the last two years.

“‘We talked to him on 9/11 and he said he planned to go to a Veterans Administration hospital to seek treatments,’ said the family member, who asked that he not be identified pending completion of the Secret Service investigation.

“‘He’s been depressed for quite some time,’ the relative said. ‘He’d been taking antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication. I suspect he stopped taking it, otherwise this wouldn’t have happened.'”

The Washington Post spoke to Gonzalez’s former stepson, who said the veteran is a trained sniper who is “a very good guy. He is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.”

MacArthur Fellow Trains Lawyers To Work For Clients, Not Judges

Sep 21, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on MacArthur Fellow Trains Lawyers To Work For Clients, Not Judges

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Jonathan Rapping, president and founder of Gideon's Promise.

Jonathan Rapping, a lawyer and champion of legal defense by training, was named as one of this year’s MacArthur Fellows, a class of 21 professionals doing innovative work across various fields including filmmaking, physics, and poetry. In 2007 Rapping and his wife Iham Askia, a former schoolteacher, founded the Southern Public Defender Training Center, an organization designed to better equip public defenders with the skills necessary to navigate a legal system that often fails poor, minority defendants.

Rapping and his team have since renamed the training center “Gideon’s Promise” after Gideon v. Wainwright, a pivotal 1963 Supreme Court decision that established the right to legal defense for all citizens accused of a crime. Despite being a monumental step in the right direction, Rapping says, Gideon alone cannot do enough to combat the failings of the modern American court system.

In Gideon's Army, Brandy Alexander defends a 17 year old on trial for armed robbery who she believes is innocent. He faces a 10 year mandatory minimum if convicted.i
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In Gideon’s Army, Brandy Alexander defends a 17 year old on trial for armed robbery who she believes is innocent. He faces a 10 year mandatory minimum if convicted.

Dawn Porter


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Dawn Porter

In Gideon's Army, Brandy Alexander defends a 17 year old on trial for armed robbery who she believes is innocent. He faces a 10 year mandatory minimum if convicted.

In Gideon’s Army, Brandy Alexander defends a 17 year old on trial for armed robbery who she believes is innocent. He faces a 10 year mandatory minimum if convicted.

Dawn Porter

Last year, filmmaker Dawn Porter directed and wrote Gideon’s Army, a feature-length HBO documentary chronicling the struggles of three black public defenders striving to navigate the southern legal system. Porter set out to make a film depicting the same kind of pervasive, process-centric legal culture that Rapping says Gideon’s Promise is meant to counteract.

We reached Rapping by phone to talk about his work.

Interview Highlights

How did you initially become interested in reforming the way public defenders represented their clients?

Rapping: After Hurricane Katrina hit, I was invited to come to New Orleans to and help with the effort to rebuild their public defender office. It was my first introduction to systems that were incredibly dysfunctional and had come to accept an embarrassingly low standard of justice for people.

In what ways were the standards low?

You would see these systems where human beings — almost exclusively poor and disproportionately people of color — were brought into these systems and just processed. No one was treated like a human being. …

It starts with legislators who in a “tough on crime” environment are really pressured to basically over-criminalize behavior. Then you get police who feel pressured to make arrests and to target certain communities. Prosecutors who frequently feel the pressure of a “tough on crime” environment charge more cases than the system is equipped to handle. As the system gets overwhelmed, the goal becomes getting this overwhelming number of cases through the system. Rather than focusing on justice, taking our time, and making sure that every person gets what our Constitution deserves, we start looking for shortcuts. …

Prosecutors start doing things like asking that poor people be held on bonds they can’t make. They do this knowing that when you’re sitting in jail on a bond you can’t make and the only way to get out is to take a plea, that’s an incredibly powerful tool for a prosecutor to get a quick conviction.

What did that look like on the defense side of things?

I would see these young, passionate public defenders who came to this work for the right reasons, but they came into systems where every pressure told them that the job was to help process people and move cases. You would see within a couple of years, many of these lawyers would either quit or they would just become resigned to the status quo. …

Let me give you a concrete example. When I first moved to Georgia, I remember the very first training that we did on basic motions practice. When it was over, one of the new chief public defenders tasked with ushering in this new system came up to me and said that while he liked the session, he wouldn’t be able to file that way. He explained that judges in Georgia would become angry with lawyers filing their motions. That was my first introduction to a culture that was judge-centered instead of client-centered. These lawyers had been socialized to see their role as pleasing the judge instead of fighting for their client.

How does Gideon’s Promise attempt to counteract that culture?

The idea was to build a network of public defenders who not only had the skills to represent people well immediately, but who also had a supportive community. So when they go into these dysfunctional systems that pressured them to process people, they have a set of strategies to overcome those pressures. It takes a lot of backbone for a young lawyer to walk into the system, stand up and say, “I need to be heard on this motion,” when they have judges yelling at them and telling them that they’re wasting time. That courage and support is what we try to provide our community of lawyers.

Afghan Rivals Prepare To Sign Power-Sharing Agreement

Sep 21, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Afghan Rivals Prepare To Sign Power-Sharing Agreement

Abdullah Abullah (left) and Ashraf Ghani, shown here on August 8, have been contesting the results of Afghanistan's runoff presidential election for months. They are expected to sign a power-sharing deal on Sunday.i
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Abdullah Abullah (left) and Ashraf Ghani, shown here on August 8, have been contesting the results of Afghanistan’s runoff presidential election for months. They are expected to sign a power-sharing deal on Sunday.

Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images


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Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images

Abdullah Abullah (left) and Ashraf Ghani, shown here on August 8, have been contesting the results of Afghanistan's runoff presidential election for months. They are expected to sign a power-sharing deal on Sunday.

Abdullah Abullah (left) and Ashraf Ghani, shown here on August 8, have been contesting the results of Afghanistan’s runoff presidential election for months. They are expected to sign a power-sharing deal on Sunday.

Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images

Secretary of State John Kerry and Afghanistan's presidential candidates, Ashraf Ghani (center) and Abdullah Abdullah (right), announce a deal in Kabul on July 12 to audit all Afghan election votes. Kerry returned last week and both candidates reaffirmed their commitment to the audit.

Supporters of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah rally Friday against alleged fraud in the presidential runoff election. Preliminary results were to be released Tuesday but have been delayed following Abdullah's accusations of widespread fraud.

Afghanistan’s disputed presidential election appears to be finally coming to a close. A spokesman for the current president, Hamid Karzai, says that the two rivals for the presidency have reached a power-sharing deal that will formally be signed on Sunday.

The deal would create a national unity government and delegate limited powers to the loser of the election.

Last month, NPR’s Sean Carberry reported that the long drama of this election was moving at a snail’s pace. “Afghans voted for a president on April 5. Then they cast ballots June 14 in a runoff between the top two candidates. Now all 8 million votes from that second round are being audited, a laborious process that includes daily arguments, occasional fistfights and yet another deadline that seems to be slipping away,” he wrote.

Abdullah Abdullah came out on top in the initial election. But in the runoff, Ashraf Ghani was the front-runner, which led Abdullah to declare election fraud and launched the lengthy audit of the votes.

During the recount process, Secretary of State John Kerry met with the candidates, who then announced a plan to come to an agreement and inaugurate a president by the end of August.

Carberry reports for our Newscast division that the agreement was delayed by Abdullah’s demand that the final results of the election not be made public:

“He has alleged that the U.N.-supervised audit of the vote did not eliminate what he has called industrial-scale fraud in favor of opponent Ashraf Ghani. Abdullah asked that the terms winner and loser not be used.

“While the details have not been released, President Karzai’s spokesman says the candidates have agreed to the language for the announcement of the results. It’s widely expected that Ghani will be declared Afghanistan’s next president.”

All’s Fair In Love And (The Rubber Used To Make) Condoms

Sep 21, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on All’s Fair In Love And (The Rubber Used To Make) Condoms

Finding the right condom just got a little bit more like finding a good cabbage.

Picky shoppers might notice labels on condom boxes these days that say fair trade, non-GMO and all natural.

A rubber tapper makes an incision in a tree on a plantation in Indonesia.i
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A rubber tapper makes an incision in a tree on a plantation in Indonesia.

A rubber tapper makes an incision in a tree on a plantation in Indonesia.



Tri Saputro/Center for International Forestry Research

Condoms don’t just fall off trees, but most of them do start there. The major ingredient in most condoms is natural latex, which comes from rubber trees. A lot has to happen to make tree sap into a Jimmy hat. A number of companies are trying to make that process more ethical, from tree to … well, you know.

There are Sir Richard’s, GLYDE, Fair Squared, Condomi, L. Condoms, French Letter and now Sustain, which hit U.S. stores this summer.

Some of these condoms are certified by the Fair Rubber Association, others by Green America. A PETA sticker ensures that the product hasn’t been tested on animals. Many have non-GMO labels. Some claim to have eliminated nitrosamines, a class of carcinogens that’s regulated in rubber nipples for baby bottles and pacifiers, but not in condoms.

Rubber drips from a tree into a bucket.i
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Rubber drips from a tree into a bucket.

Rubber drips from a tree into a bucket.



Faisal Akram/Flickr

For all-natural folk, some companies use dyes derived from red cabbage and carrots; some have natural licorice flavoring. For vegans, there are rubbers with something like thistle extract instead of casein, a milk protein that’s a common condom ingredient.

All this might leave you wondering how, exactly, a condom is made.

For millennia, the answer was: with whatever’s available. “They were made out of fish guts, lamb intestine, beef intestine, and linen,” says Aine Collier, who wrote a book about the history of the condom. “The ancient Egyptians used papyrus. The Japanese used extremely fine leather, and they even used a kind of shell that could be pounded. So, latex was a huge step forward, both for comfort and for safety.”

Condoms are still made from lamb intestines. But polyurethane, natural rubber and a synthetic rubber called polyisoprene are also used.

These days, step one for a latex condom is to go to a rubber tree plantation in South Asia, armed with a bucket and knife. Getting rubber out of a tree is a little like tapping for maple syrup.

When the sap cools down at night, it turns to liquid. When the sun resurfaces, it congeals back into a solid. Rubber tappers wake up in the wee hours of the morning to get to the sap before that happens. They make incisions in the bark to get it flowing, place a bucket below and let the milky sap bleed.

One experimental condom has tabs on either side so it's easier to put on in the dark.

An estimated 15 billion condoms are manufactured each year and 750 million people use them.

“And this is the raw material for balloons, football bladders, household gloves, baby bottle teats and condoms,” says Martin Kunz, founder of the Fair Rubber Association. The liquid travels to a factory, often near the plantation, where it’s processed, formed, tested and packaged. Kunz estimates that one tree can produce enough rubber to make about 100,000 condoms.

At the International AIDS conference, a female condom fashion show raised awareness about the rising need for more female condoms. Olwin Manyanye of Zimbabwe shows off one of the dresses decorated with a second-generation female condom, called FC2.

From tree to package, most of the human labor that goes into making a condom happens on the plantation. As with tea and coffee, rubber that’s certified fair trade costs more — about 25 cents extra for each pound of rubber. The money goes toward better housing and education, access to electricity, clean drinking water and health care for plantation workers.

The good deeds abroad are sometimes packaged with benefits at home. For every paraben-free love sock that L. Condoms sells, the company donates another to public health partners in sub-Saharan Africa.

Collier says while fair trade certifications may be valuable, in the grand history of condoms, eco-condoms aren’t particularly revolutionary. “I think what we’re seeing now, this sort of eco-twist to it, doesn’t really represent anything fantastic as far as research and development. Fair trade rubber is still rubber.”

In the end, Collier says, it may be just one more phase in the condom’s long history of creative packaging. A 17th-century sheath might have come with a pink ribbon. In the 1920s and 1930s, condom tins came with flapper silhouettes. Others sold then appealed to people’s fascination with Egypt.

“It wasn’t about the quality of the condom. Many were absolute crap. But people were buying them with the eye,” says Collier. “They loved the packaging, because it fit the lifestyle they were trying to lead. And I think that’s exactly what this fair trade, biodegradable, green, vegan condom sales thing is all about. It’s just marketing.”

Regardless, condoms are still the most effective way to keep sex safe.

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