Profile of Srdja Popovic, who was a member of Otpor (Resistance), the nonviolent group that helped topple Serbia’s dictator, Slobodan Milosevic, in 2000. He's since formed an NGO called Canvas, which advises rebels in 40 countries on how to use the tools of nonviolent struggle:
"The trainers, all former participants in protests, deliver the curriculum, usually in English. The trainees analyse and evaluate their country’s situation, after being coached in the theory of nonviolent struggle and the three principles for its success: unity, planning and nonviolent discipline. They study the role of consent and obedience, and 'pillars of society' (military, police, judiciary, bureaucracy), and how to lure ordinary people away from them and towards the nonviolent movement. Next come strategy and tactics, especially 'low-risk tactics', such as co-ordinated banging of metal pans at set times across a city—actions in which all can join, and which keep people in the movement even under harsh oppression."
PUBLISHED: April 26, 2012
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4540 words)
Somehow I’ve ended up helping to cater a party in Havana, and a burly, jovial architect called Rafael is asking me whether I’ve heard of Radio Bemba. Basically it’s the Cuban grapevine: “Bemba” is a slang word for big lips, and the expression has its origins in the way Fidel Castro communicated with his men in the 1950s when they were holed up in the Sierra Maestra building the revolution. Today, in a nation where the only official media are state-controlled, Radio Bemba has become shorthand for the word-of-mouth information network, which is by far the quickest (and often the most reliable) way to find out about anything from baseball chat to celebrity gossip to news of the latest defection to the United States.
PUBLISHED: July 12, 2011
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3446 words)
When I arrived in the university town of Nanjing on my first visit to China in 2007, I spent days on end watching and talking to students, marvelling above all at the confidence, competence and poise of the girls. I was working on a book about Pearl Buck, who grew up in the Chinese countryside before teaching on the Nanjing campus in the 1920s, so I knew a lot about the world of these girls’ grandmothers: a slow-moving world where traffic went by river steamer or canal boat, and the only wheeled vehicle most people ever saw was a wheelbarrow. Girls were shut up at home on reaching puberty with no further access to the outside world, and no voice in their own or their family’s affairs.
PUBLISHED: June 5, 2011
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4398 words)
Rock music in 2011 is not quite what it was in the mid-1960s. For one thing, it is full of challenging coincidences, such as the one reported by Pete Townshend in a recent e-mail. “I was supposed to be sailing in the St Barth’s Bucket Race on March 24th,” he wrote. That’s right: the writer of “My Generation”, “Substitute” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” now spends part of his time as a yachtsman in the Caribbean. “This was arranged last August,” he added. “In a challenging coincidence Roger Daltrey will be performing ‘Tommy’ on that very day for Teenage Cancer [Trust] at the Royal Albert Hall.”
PUBLISHED: May 29, 2011
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5230 words)
For decades, the way bad news was broken was, as one official British report put it, "deeply insensitive." Now we do it better, thanks to the efforts of one American widow. "Common sense tells us that those facts are an emotional bomb waiting to go off. And medical thinking now recognizes this: receiving bad news, according to the Western Journal of Medicine, 'results in cognitive, behavioral, or emotional deficit in the person receiving the news that persists for some time after the news is received.'"
PUBLISHED: April 18, 2011
LENGTH: 19 minutes (4944 words)
With any faith, it is fun to focus on the fanatics, but not very illuminating. On a recent trip to the Fifth Avenue store, not many faces fitted the stereotype of Apple partisans as hip, rich, Western youth. There was a man who looked like a diplomat with the United Arab Emirates’ flag on his lapel. A gaggle of teenage boys from Brazil horsed around in Portuguese. A red-haired youngster put down his Good News Bible to play an online game called “Combat Arms”. A middle-aged couple used the Bed, Bath & Beyond website. Apple’s success has transcended the asymmetrical-jeans-and-black-framed-glasses market. It is now a movement for the masses.
PUBLISHED: Dec. 19, 2010
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3863 words)
What story did this particular picture tell? Its minimal presentation left all interpretation to the reader, but as the News Chronicle was a left-leaning newspaper—fiercely anti-Franco, for example, in the Spanish civil war—the implication was clear enough: the picture exemplified the scandalous gulf between Britain’s rich and poor.
PUBLISHED: June 21, 2010
LENGTH: 28 minutes (7036 words)
The word "polymath" teeters somewhere between Leonardo da Vinci and Stephen Fry. Embracing both one of history’s great intellects and a brainy actor, writer, director and TV personality, it is at once presumptuous and banal. Djerassi doesn't want much to do with it. "Nowadays people that are called polymaths are dabblers—are dabblers in many different areas," he says. "I aspire to be an intellectual polygamist. And I deliberately use that metaphor to provoke with its sexual allusion and to point out the real difference to me between polygamy and promiscuity."
PUBLISHED: Jan. 10, 2009
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4569 words)