Browsing articles from "March, 2015"

From A ‘Dragon Tattoo’ To The ‘Spider’s Web’: Stieg Larsson’s Hero Returns

Mar 31, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on From A ‘Dragon Tattoo’ To The ‘Spider’s Web’: Stieg Larsson’s Hero Returns

The cover to the book's U.S. edition is designed by the same artist who designed the covers to the original trilogy:€” Peter Mendelsund.i

The cover to the book’s U.S. edition is designed by the same artist who designed the covers to the original trilogy:€” Peter Mendelsund.

Courtesy of Afred A. Knopf


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The cover to the book's U.S. edition is designed by the same artist who designed the covers to the original trilogy:€” Peter Mendelsund.

The cover to the book’s U.S. edition is designed by the same artist who designed the covers to the original trilogy:€” Peter Mendelsund.

Courtesy of Afred A. Knopf

Just about a full decade since the girl with a dragon tattoo was introduced to readers, she’ll be making her grand return to fiction — albeit with another author’s name on the cover. Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy of crime novels is set to become something more on Sept. 1, when the series’ new addition hits store shelves as The Girl in the Spider Web. Publisher Alfred A. Knopf released the book’s title and cover art Tuesday.

Of course, the series is carrying on without its original architect, replacing Larsson with David Lagercrantz, a former crime reporter from Sweden. Larsson died of a heart attack at the age of 50 in 2004, before even the first Millennium novel — The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, in American editions — was published in Sweden. The whole of the series has been published posthumously.

Lagercrantz, who has the blessing of the Larsson estate and Larsson’s Swedish publisher, Norstedts, has made it clear that he plans to keep continuity with the originals — including the series’ familiar stars Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist.

“Stieg Larsson was a master at creating complex narratives, narratives made all the more forceful because of the journalistic authority with which they were originally written,” Lagercrantz said in a statement. “That was something that informed my approach to book four, and I’m confident Millennium readers will identify with the storylines in Spider’s Web.”

Despite Larsson’s passing, his publishers have noted that he had planned to continue the books well past the current trilogy. By some accounts, the overarching outline he had in mind included at least an additional seven novels.

Larsson’s longtime partner, Eva Gabrielsson disputes this — and her recent objections have stirred controversy since the series’ revival was first announced in January.

“Everyone thinks there was some grand scheme,” she told AFP just last week, “but no, he had no plan for the first three books and when he started writing the fourth one, it was spontaneous. He still didn’t have a plan.”

And Gabrielsson hasn’t pulled punches, even calling Lagercrantz a “completely idiotic choice” to continue the series. “They say heroes are supposed to live forever. That’s a load of crap, this is about money,” she said. “It’s about a publishing house that needs money, [and] a writer who doesn’t have anything to write so he copies someone else.”

To date, the series has sold some 80 million copies around the world.

The new book, much like its characters, has been wrapped in a fair bit of intrigue. Perhaps because of the fear of leaks, Lagercrantz wrote the novel on a computer with no Internet connection, and when he delivered the manuscript to Swedish publishers, he was careful to do so by hand, according to The Guardian.

Whatever the secrecy that attended its production, when it goes public in September, it’ll go big: The Girl in the Spider Web will be published simultaneously in 25 different countries, with a first printing of 500,000 copies in the U.S. alone.

The Fear Of Black Men In America: Join Our Twitter Chat #FearAndRace

Mar 31, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on The Fear Of Black Men In America: Join Our Twitter Chat #FearAndRace

NPR’s Michel Martin led two challenging conversations about race this week, focusing on fearful perceptions of African-American men and how these fears play out in people’s everyday lives. Guests including author and Georgetown University Law Professor Paul Butler examined the research and the complicated emotions behind this fear.

“When you’re in an elevator or walking behind somebody and you feel like you have to perform to make them feel safe, it’s like apologizing for your existence,” says Butler.

Others have already joined the conversation through social media. We heard from a white woman haunted by memories of being mugged by black men years ago, from a black pastor who has had the doors of some churches closed to him because of his race, and from another black man who described dealing with this fear as “heartbreaking.”

Now we want to hear from you. Join us for a Twitter chat with Michel Martin (@NPRMichel) and Code Switch’s Gene Demby (@GeeDee215) today at 12:30 p.m. ET. Join in by using the hashtag #FearAndRace. We’ll be collecting some of your messages here in this post.

Venezuela Cuts Oil Subsidies To Caribbean Nations

Mar 31, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Venezuela Cuts Oil Subsidies To Caribbean Nations

Low oil prices are forcing Venezuela to cut a generous subsidy program to Cuba and a dozen other Caribbean nations.

Venezuela is Latin America’s largest oil producer, and its economy depends heavily on oil exports. It’s been been hit hard by the tumbling oil prices.

“Venezuela is in desperate straits. The oil sector has been deteriorating, and now with the slumping oil prices, they needed cash desperately,” says Michael Shifter, the president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington, D.C.-based group that studies the region.

Shifter says it’s no surprise that Venezuela is trimming back a program that provides oil at subsidized, deferred payment rates to many of its Caribbean neighbors that are dependent on energy imports. Petrocaribe — an alliance of Venezuela and Caribbean nations — was created a decade ago by the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. It provided subsidized oil to countries such as Belize, Haiti and Jamaica.

The subsidies helped Caribbean nations balance their budgets and finance schools, social programs and small businesses and farms.

“This was part of his broader strategy to extend his influence to consolidate support and also to curtail influence of the United States in the region,” Shifter says. But he says when prices dropped, Venezuela “couldn’t sustain this, it was impossible.”

The Miami Herald, citing a report by Barclays investment bank, says shipments of subsidized oil to Petrocaribe members are down by about half for most countries from what they were in 2012.

Caribbean nations have been bracing for the steep cutbacks in shipments of cheap crude oil, according to The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper quotes the governor of Jamaica’s central bank saying his government is adjusting by being more cautious about what to expect from Petrocaribe.

Even Cuba — the nation most closely-aligned ideologically with Venezuela — is seeing cuts to its subsidies. The Barclays report says Cuba paid for its oil by sending doctors and teachers to Venezuela.

But IHS Jane’s Intelligence Review says ties between the two countries remain very strong.

With UConn, Maryland Wins, Women’s Final Four Has 4 Top Seeds And A Familiar Look

Mar 31, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on With UConn, Maryland Wins, Women’s Final Four Has 4 Top Seeds And A Familiar Look

Raise your hand if you're not bored with winning: Connecticut's Breanna Stewart and teammates celebrate their 91-70 victory Monday over Dayton during a regional final game in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament in Albany, N.Y. The victory sent the team to its eighth straight Final Four, where it will pursue its third straight title.i

Raise your hand if you’re not bored with winning: Connecticut’s Breanna Stewart and teammates celebrate their 91-70 victory Monday over Dayton during a regional final game in the NCAA women’s college basketball tournament in Albany, N.Y. The victory sent the team to its eighth straight Final Four, where it will pursue its third straight title.

Mike Groll/AP


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Mike Groll/AP

Raise your hand if you're not bored with winning: Connecticut's Breanna Stewart and teammates celebrate their 91-70 victory Monday over Dayton during a regional final game in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament in Albany, N.Y. The victory sent the team to its eighth straight Final Four, where it will pursue its third straight title.

Raise your hand if you’re not bored with winning: Connecticut’s Breanna Stewart and teammates celebrate their 91-70 victory Monday over Dayton during a regional final game in the NCAA women’s college basketball tournament in Albany, N.Y. The victory sent the team to its eighth straight Final Four, where it will pursue its third straight title.

Mike Groll/AP

The women’s Final Four will have a familiar feel to it with three of last year’s teams back in the national semifinals.

UConn, Notre Dame and Maryland all return to the Final Four while South Carolina is making its first appearance.

It’s the third time in the history of the Final Four, following 2012 and 1982, that all four of the top seeds made it this far.

“That’s the way it is in women’s basketball,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “The absolute best teams get to the Final Four. I’m not one bit surprised Notre Dame and South Carolina are there. That’s the way it is in our game. The best teams go to the Final Four every year.”

The Huskies will be trying for their third straight national championship and 10th overall, which would move Geno Auriemma into a tie with vaunted UCLA men’s coach John Wooden for the most all-time.

UConn will face Maryland and Notre Dame faces South Carolina on Sunday in Tampa, Florida. Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley will become the second person to both play and coach in the Final Four, joining Baylor’s Kim Mulkey.

“We are not just going to show up and just be happy to be there,” Staley said. “This particular regional final game isn’t the destination game for what we set out to do this season.

“So, you know, I think this was a statement game because we are going to — we punched our ticket into the Final Four and now it’s time to maybe check off some things that we’ve wanted to do, which is win the national championship.”

UConn has made it to a record eight straight Final Fours while Notre Dame is back for the fifth straight time. The only other teams to accomplish five straight trips to the national semifinals are Connecticut (2000-04), LSU (2004-08) and Stanford (2008-12).

While UConn has won four titles in its most recent run, including the past two, Notre Dame is still looking for its first championship during this streak.

“We have been there a number of times and not been able to finish,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “Each year, we feel like maybe this will be our year, but I think (we’re) definitely celebrating this whole week of what we accomplished all year long because only one team is going to win.”

Tony Fadell, Founder Of Nest Labs

Mar 30, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Tony Fadell, Founder Of Nest Labs

Host Jessica Harris talks to Tony Fadell, founder of Nest Labs and former Apple developer. Harris also talks with Lyndon Rive, co-founder of SolarCity.

Five Thoughts On Trevor Noah Taking Over ‘The Daily Show’

Mar 30, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Five Thoughts On Trevor Noah Taking Over ‘The Daily Show’

Seen here in 2012, Trevor Noah was announced Monday as the new host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central.i

Seen here in 2012, Trevor Noah was announced Monday as the new host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central.

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Seen here in 2012, Trevor Noah was announced Monday as the new host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central.

Seen here in 2012, Trevor Noah was announced Monday as the new host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central.

Getty Images

We learned Monday morning what will become of The Daily Show on Comedy Central after Jon Stewart departs: it will be hosted by Trevor Noah, a 31-year-old South African comedian who joined the show as a contributor in December of last year, where he opened with a joke about fearing the police in the United States more than the police in South Africa. We won’t know much about the shape of the new (or at least different) show for a while, but there are a few things to chew over in the wake of this news.

1. Noah has a couple of demographic characteristics not in common with Stewart or with much (but not all) of the rest of late-night comedy: he’s young (only 31), he’s biracial, and he’s not American. He’s also a guy who does a lot of comedy about race in his own standup, as in a set from London where he talks about how the marriage of his parents (as well as his birth) was actually illegal, and how his mother had to drop his hand and pretend not to be his mother in front of the police. (“I felt like a bag of weed.”) It’s not just the fact that Noah is biracial that makes him feel like a choice relevant to the moment; it’s the fact that he’s a performer who does a lot of very pointed material about race who’s taking over the show at a time when Stewart, too, was spending a lot of time talking about it.

Picking Noah also means the show’s coverage of the upcoming presidential election — historically some of its most-discussed work — will be headed up by someone who isn’t an American. That would have seemed like more of a headline, perhaps, prior to the ascendancy of John Oliver, who not only was a star on The Daily Show, but has now established himself as a commentator on American politics over on his own show on HBO, Last Week Tonight.

2. It might seem surprising that they would have Noah take over after such a short time with the show, but they undoubtedly vetted him pretty thoroughly before they added him in the first place. In a lot of ways, it’s probably smart to pick somebody who is of the show, but not too much of the show. Had they chosen one of the veteran correspondents who was so closely associated with Stewart’s version of The Daily Show, the old host’s absence might have felt more glaring. This pick provides some continuity but also a solid break between the old and the new, and perhaps some chance at making it his own.

3. Coverage of The Daily Show has historically treated it as a pure expression of Stewart’s sensibility, despite the fact that he’s supported by a staff of writers and producers. (Honestly, it’s a common problem with visible hosts and their invisible collaborators.) With Noah being so much younger and newer to the scene than Stewart has been for many, many years — and so much less familiar to much of the audience — we may see a shift toward the show being treated as less of a tour de force and more of a collaboration, which probably represents it more honestly, particularly while he’s getting himself established.

4. Speaking of writers, it will be interesting to see whether the existing writing staff sticks around without Stewart. Having to populate that writers’ room with new people would represent both a huge challenge and a huge opportunity.

5. And finally, for perspective’s sake, it’s important to remember that Jon Stewart today is an institution, but Jon Stewart when he took the show over from Craig Kilborn in early 1999 was not. David Letterman was coming off a canceled daytime show when he got into late night, and Conan O’Brien was a little-known camera presence when he got Letterman’s old job. The goofy idea of clear trajectories — that informed, crowdsourced, listicled speculation ought to be able to produce the most logical person to occupy every job based on publicly available lists of accomplishments and pro/con rundowns — is one that we’re probably lucky people don’t actually pay attention to.

Uphill Skiing Gains Traction In Colorado

Mar 30, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Uphill Skiing Gains Traction In Colorado

For a more invigorating workout, nonprofit worker Chris Lane uphill skis near Aspen four times a week.i

For a more invigorating workout, nonprofit worker Chris Lane uphill skis near Aspen four times a week.

Marci Krivonen/Aspen Public Radio


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For a more invigorating workout, nonprofit worker Chris Lane uphill skis near Aspen four times a week.

For a more invigorating workout, nonprofit worker Chris Lane uphill skis near Aspen four times a week.

Marci Krivonen/Aspen Public Radio

It’s spring break season and families and college students are heading to Colorado’s ski resorts. You’ve heard of downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, but a growing trend in these areas involves people skiing uphill.

It’s midday in Aspen, Colo., and uphill skier Chris Lane is on a break from work at a nonprofit. He clicks into his ski bindings and begins his 1,600 vertical foot journey uphill — on skis.

He’s going against downhill traffic, so he stays on the side of the ski run.

“We’ve always gone one of two ways — either this route. Or, we just go straight up,” Lane says, referring to the steeper and more physically demanding path. “When you go straight up it wears your legs out faster, but I like that because I like the work out.”

Like cross-country skis, Lane’s boots attach to the binding at the toe so his heels are free for climbing. Synthetic fur “skins” attached to the bottom of his skis provide traction on the snow.

In the winter, Lane stops going to the gym, opting for this outdoor workout instead. Normally, he’s out before the sun’s up, sliding his skis up groomed trails.

“It’s almost relaxing,” he says. “When I go up in the mornings in the dark, sometimes I’ll close my eyes for like a minute and just go uphill with my eyes closed … and it just feels so good.”

Aspen mayor Steve Skadron has his ski boots on at his desk. He wants to capitalize on his sport and bring mountain culture back to downtown.

“I skin, I uphill, participate in this hiking up the mountain,” Skadron says.

Aspen, Colo., Mayor Steve Skadron wants to make the mountain town the North American hub for uphill skiing.i

Aspen, Colo., Mayor Steve Skadron wants to make the mountain town the North American hub for uphill skiing.

Marci Krivonen/Aspen Public Radio


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Aspen, Colo., Mayor Steve Skadron wants to make the mountain town the North American hub for uphill skiing.

Aspen, Colo., Mayor Steve Skadron wants to make the mountain town the North American hub for uphill skiing.

Marci Krivonen/Aspen Public Radio

He worries the town’s become too upscale, like Beverly Hills and Manhattan.

“We have many high-end retailers here like Prada and Dolce and Gabbana, Valentino. And I’m grateful for their commitment to Aspen. I want to ensure that our downtown mix isn’t simply like every other high-end shopping mall.”

He’s working to lure companies to town that specialize in uphill skiing.

It’s a growing sector of the ski industry, especially among women. Snowsports Industries America reports sales of lightweight skis used in uphill skiing jumped more than 200 percent in one year.

Kelly Davis, research director for the trade group, says, “If it catches on in mountain towns, I think more resorts will open up to it and word will get out. I think we can expect to see more growth in this particular category.”

Still, the number of uphill skiers pales in comparison to the 11 million Americans who downhill ski. And, half of all ski resorts in the U.S. don’t allow uphill skiing. For some, it’s a safety issue.

Art Clay, 78, of Chicago takes a run in a light snowfall on Wednesday. Clay is a co-founder of the National Brotherhood of Skiers.

Back on the mountain, uphill skier Chris Lane continues his ascent. “I even like the sound,” he says. “The hypnotic, kind of metronome sound of the skis — click, click, click. I love that.”

The climb is tough but nothing new for Lane. He huffs and puffs his way uphill on skis four times a week.

With So Much Oil Flowing, U.S. May Be Reaching Storage Limits

Mar 30, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on With So Much Oil Flowing, U.S. May Be Reaching Storage Limits

Cushing, Okla., is a major oil storage site. Amid record oil production, some analysts worry the U.S. will run out of places to put it all.i

Cushing, Okla., is a major oil storage site. Amid record oil production, some analysts worry the U.S. will run out of places to put it all.

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images


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Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Cushing, Okla., is a major oil storage site. Amid record oil production, some analysts worry the U.S. will run out of places to put it all.

Cushing, Okla., is a major oil storage site. Amid record oil production, some analysts worry the U.S. will run out of places to put it all.

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Never before in history has the U.S. had so much oil spurting up out of the ground and sloshing into storage tanks around the country. There’s so much oil that the U.S. now rivals Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest producer.

But there’s been some concern that the U.S. will run out of places to put it all. Some analysts speculate that could spark another dramatic crash in oil prices.

Everyone in the oil trading business needs information. One thing they want to know these days is how full are oil storage tanks in places like Cushing, Okla. To find out, ask a professional — someone with eyes on the ground, and in the sky.

Genscape, an oil intelligence service, uses planes, helicopters and satellites to track where and how much oil there is all over the world. The company “does a James Bond approach and flies over the storage field twice a week,” says Hillary Stevenson, a manager at the firm.

Yemenis walk past near oil tankers that were burnt during clashes between Shiite Houthi rebels and their opponents in the capital, Sanaa, in September. Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes this week to counter the Houthis' offensive.

A production site in the Bakken oil patch as seen from inside an abandoned farmhouse just outside Watford City, N.D.

A pump-jack sits atop an oil well near downtown Sidney, Mont. The oil boom has brought thousands of new residents to the town, almost all of whom work in the Bakken oil fields in Montana and North Dakota. Sidney sits at the western edge of the Bakken oil patch, one of the most productive drilling areas in the country.

Workers walk inside the LyondellBasell oil refinery in Houston in 2013. Lower oil prices are stoking fears of an economic decline in the region.

In the U.S., you can tell how full some oil tanks are by flying over them and looking down. Others require a little more sleuthing, “by using IR or infrared technology cameras and flying over the tanks,” Stevenson says.

In Cushing, there are fields of giant storage tanks, some the size of high school football stadiums. Genscape estimates they’re about 70 percent full. As the storage tanks get closer to capacity, some analysts say that will drive prices lower.

Nobody knows that for certain and there are lots of scenarios. But as space gets tight, it gets increasingly more expensive to store oil. That should discourage speculators from buying oil and storing it, hoping to sell it later for a profit. If fewer speculators are buying, that means there’s less demand and prices fall.

“We’re running out of storage capacity in the U.S.,” Ed Morse, global head of commodities research at Citigroup, said at an event recently in New York. “And we’re seeing the indication of the U.S. reaching tank tops. It’s hard to know where the price goes down, but it does go down.”

The price of oil has already fallen from $100 a barrel last summer to $45 or $50 lately. Morse said lack of storage space could drive oil down to around $20 a barrel.

But there’s plenty of disagreement about that. Brian Busch, the director of oil markets at Genscape, says oil prices could fall, but not that much.

“If we saw crude oil that was trading [in the $30 range], $38-$35, that would not surprise me,” he says.

But Busch says no one truly knows. The recent fighting in Yemen pushed prices higher. If China’s economy started growing faster, that could raise prices. But an Iran nuclear deal might push oil prices down.

Putting those other factors aside, many experts doubt that the U.S. will get that close to running out of storage space.

Rob Merriam, who tracks oil supplies for the Energy Information Administration, says some of the current oil glut is seasonal.

“The analogy I would make is if you were in Boston and you look at the last 3 months and say, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re going to have two feet of snow every month,’ ” he says. “If you took that same straight-line projection, you would say by the end of August we’re going to be under 15 feet of snow.”

Just like snow melts as the temperature rises, demand for oil rises in the summer. People drive their cars more, more refineries are up and running and Merriam expects that those big storage tanks will get less full.

As far as what all this means for gasoline prices, the EIA estimates prices will stay flat through this summer. That’s still more than a dollar cheaper than last year.

A Teacher’s Moment: Finding ‘The Essence Of Poetry’

Mar 29, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on A Teacher’s Moment: Finding ‘The Essence Of Poetry’

The key moment in Jess Burnquist's class: The Cinnamon Roll begins with Brandon, Daisy, Andie, Angel and Summer.i

The key moment in Jess Burnquist’s class: The “Cinnamon Roll” begins with Brandon, Daisy, Andie, Angel and Summer.

Courtesy of Jess Burnquist


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The key moment in Jess Burnquist's class: The Cinnamon Roll begins with Brandon, Daisy, Andie, Angel and Summer.

The key moment in Jess Burnquist’s class: The “Cinnamon Roll” begins with Brandon, Daisy, Andie, Angel and Summer.

Courtesy of Jess Burnquist

This weekend, NPR Ed is featuring dispatches from teachers about the ups and downs of their work.

I remember being truly engaged in high school only a handful of times. Once was when my 11th-grade history class created puppets and produced a film for a contest about the writing of the Declaration of Independence.

I am still friends with several of my former classmates, and we laugh even now about how the Founding Fathers looked drunk in the pub scenes because our arms were tired from holding the puppets up, up, up. Thomas Jefferson’s head kept tilting to the right, then hitting the bar like a man who had indulged in one too many.

Project-based learning is a beautiful notion — unless your students refuse to work together. In that case it begins to feel like wishful thinking.

This year, the seniors in my Creative Writing class have grappled with teamwork. Mattie, the student-body president, tells me that it’s always been this way: “Since seventh grade, we’ve just never really meshed.”

I’m not sure what is at the root of their inability to connect, but being able to work together is the most crucial element of hosting our annual Poetry Nights.

These are a big deal at Combs High School, and the seniors in this class plan and organize them. Everyone’s family shows up to hear the seniors read poetry they’ve written. It’s frightening, it’s challenging. And when it works, hugely rewarding.

And so, if they were going to pull this off, this group needed to become a team.

After winter break, I met with my principal to warn her that this year’s seniors might not be able to get it together by the April deadline. She shrugged and said, “Let me know.”

It was the appropriate response, but at the time I wanted a lifeboat. I pushed Poetry Night out of my mind and instead focused on how to spice up our reading of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.

And it was through this lesson that we finally reached the point where I felt confident about Poetry Night.

Here’s how it happened.

Daisy, rolled up and supported by her classmates.i

Daisy, rolled up and supported by her classmates.

Courtesy of Jess Burnquist


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Courtesy of Jess Burnquist

Daisy, rolled up and supported by her classmates.

Daisy, rolled up and supported by her classmates.

Courtesy of Jess Burnquist

I created something called the Personal Quest Zine Project, explaining to my students, “Like Santiago in The Alchemist, you’re all about to embark on your lives. Find one thing in your life that you would like to conquer. It can be as simple as organizing your room or as complicated as dumping your current boyfriend or girlfriend.”

They leaned in. I continued, “You will have to present the outcomes of your quests to one another.”

Yup, a hand-made magazine … and the dreaded oral presentation. Groans, bodies slinking downward in chairs, eyes rolling. I raised an eyebrow and we moved on.

A withdrawn but eager young woman named Allie was the first to present. (We talk about a lot of personal stuff in my class, so we’re only using their first names.)

She was visibly nervous as she walked to the front of the room.

“My personal quest was to stop feeling guilty for no longer wanting a relationship with my biological dad,” she announced to her somewhat stunned classmates. She told the class that her biological father sends her two texts a year and doesn’t really know her.

She held up a poster board with pictures of herself and her twin sister. She began to cry as she pointed to pictures of her stepfather because they should have contained her biological dad. At the softball game. The school concert.

I let her know that she could stop if she needed to, but Allie was fierce about continuing. By the end of her presentation, several students were crying. She turned to me. I told her how proud I was of her for sharing something so personal.

Oscar was up first in the next class: a determined but sometimes distracted student with a sketchy track record for homework completion. The few pieces of writing he delivered this year have been really interesting, though.

He wrote about emigrating from Mexico and his memories of learning English. He began his quest with:

“I went hiking for the first time this week,” he told the class. An uphill climb into the Superstition Mountains.

He walked us through the experience: He didn’t want to ask for directions, he was wearing the wrong clothes. He described the great view from the top and how he was tripped and fell on the way down. He drew a funny comparison between hiking and getting a cookie from the top of the fridge.

The class laughed and then became a bit confused when Oscar shared that his quest really had nothing to do with hiking. The hiking story was a metaphor. A metaphor about getting a car. He explained the upward climb of getting a job, of finding the right car … but then having to be humble enough to ask his father for help.

Now that he had his car, he said, the real work had begun. He asked us to follow him out of the room, to the sun-drenched parking lot where he proudly showed us his used, red, somewhat worn Acura. We applauded.

I could feel the energy among the students shifting.

Daisy was next. She uttered a couple of sentences about how her personal quest involved living life to be happy.

And then, Daisy began to sob.

Not just a few tears or a catch in her voice, but actual sobbing. She explained between gulps of air that she didn’t want to go to college even though she could. She wanted instead to travel and try new things. She wanted to dance.

Her sobs increased. I was about to intervene when Mattie stood up and said that the class should give Daisy what’s called a “cinnamon roll.” She ushered volunteers to make a line. All but five or six students were standing in a crazy sort of human U shape.

Mattie directed the students to hold hands then instructed each person to turn towards the student next to them. And so the students folded into themselves in a tightly wound “roll” of an awkward embrace.

Daisy was at its center. But really, they all were at the center.

They had found their way to one another through compassion and empathy. They were working together. Student-centered, project-based learning – right there in a moment that, to me, captured the essence of the best kind of poetry.

I rushed to grab my camera. And I scribbled a reminder—next class—students to decide on this year’s theme for Poetry Night. It’s on!

Jess Burnquist teaches English and creative writing at Combs High School in San Tan Valley, Ariz.

Dozens Killed In Nigerian Election Violence As Polling Continues

Mar 29, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Dozens Killed In Nigerian Election Violence As Polling Continues

Nigerian electoral officials collate results at a polling station in the oil rich Niger Delta, Port Harcourt, Nigeria on Sunday. Millions of voters headed to the polls in the Nigerian general elections after being delayed for over a month.i

Nigerian electoral officials collate results at a polling station in the oil rich Niger Delta, Port Harcourt, Nigeria on Sunday. Millions of voters headed to the polls in the Nigerian general elections after being delayed for over a month.

Tife Owolabi/EPA/Landov


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Tife Owolabi/EPA/Landov

Nigerian electoral officials collate results at a polling station in the oil rich Niger Delta, Port Harcourt, Nigeria on Sunday. Millions of voters headed to the polls in the Nigerian general elections after being delayed for over a month.

Nigerian electoral officials collate results at a polling station in the oil rich Niger Delta, Port Harcourt, Nigeria on Sunday. Millions of voters headed to the polls in the Nigerian general elections after being delayed for over a month.

Tife Owolabi/EPA/Landov

Islamist insurgents in Nigeria have reportedly killed about 40 people, including a lawmaker, as the polling for a new president continues in the West African country.

Voting was extended for a second day after technical problems kept some from casting their ballots on Saturday. Incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan is squaring off against former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari.

According to The Associated Press: “Boko Haram extremists killed 41 people, including a legislator, and scared hundreds of people from polling stations in the northeastern Nigeria. In electoral violence elsewhere, three people including a soldier were shot and killed in southern Rivers state and police said two car bombs exploded at polling stations in the southeast but no one was injured.”

NPR’s Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports:

“Land and sea borders remain closed in Nigeria as voting continues in some areas for a second day, because of technical glitches with new biometric voting card readers.

“But officials are reporting record turnouts, even in areas they say were previously under threat or control of Boko Haram. Nigeria’s insurgency chief, Mike Omeri, said the city of Maiduguri — the metropolis of the northeast and the birthplace of Boko Haram – was one such example.”

The AP adds:

“Many Christian Nigerians attended Palm Sunday church services in which they prayed for a peaceful outcome for the elections.

“More than 40 people were killed in election-related violence Saturday, though millions were able to vote in a presidential election that analysts say is too close to call.”

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  • NPT: 2017-09-19 08:49 PM
  • EDT: 2017-09-19 11:04 AM
  • PDT: 2017-09-19 08:04 AM