Richie Havens, a Brooklyn-born singer who sang gospel as a teenager, began playing folk music in Greenwich Village clubs in the 1960s and was the opening act at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair in 1969, died Monday of a heart attack at his home in Jersey City, N.J., according to his agent. He was 72 years old.
Havens had a long career as a musician, but if he had done nothing else, his performance at Woodstock would secure his place in American music history. Havens was the first performer to walk onto the stage at the festival; he sat on a stool and performed for nearly two hours — including an improvisation that incorporated the spiritual “Motherless Child,” later called “Freedom.” It became a highlight of the documentary about the festival and introduced him to audiences around the world.
As a black performer, he was a rarity in the folk-dominated Greenwich Village scene. His sandpaper soft voice and percussive guitar playing caught the ear of folk impresario Albert Grossman, who first signed Bob Dylan and helped create Peter, Paul and Mary. Havens released his breakout album, Mixed Bag, in 1967.
Havens went on to act in films and on television, and he continued recording for more than 40 years. He had a Top 20 hit in 1971 with a cover of The Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun” and released his last album, Nobody Left to Crown, in 2008. But it was onstage — with his guitar — that Havens was in his element. He toured constantly and in 2008 told NPR that he never planned his shows beyond the opening and closing songs.
“Many times people have come up to me after and they’d, they’d say, ‘Richie, do you know what you did?’ I’d say, ‘What?’ They’d go, ‘I wrote these songs down for you to sing and you sang ‘em all in a row.’ That’s the kind of communication happens, you know,” Havens said. “It’s like if you let the audience lead, then you are the audience.”
Havens connected with audiences from stages large and small for more than 50 years.
Richie Havens, Folk Icon, Dead at 72
Brooklyn native opened Woodstock in 1969
Richie Havens, who brought an earthy soulfulness to the folk scene of the Sixties and was the first act to hit the stage at Woodstock, died of a heart attack on Monday, April 22. He was 72 and was living in Jersey City, New Jersey. Last month, Havens announced he would no longer be touring due to health issues.
From the beginning, when he played Village folk clubs in the mid-Sixties, Havens stood out due to more than just his imposing height (he was six-and-a-half feet tall) and his ethnicity (African-American in a largely white folk scene). He played his acoustic guitar with an open tuning and in a fervent, rhythmic style, and he sang in a sonorous, gravel-road voice that connected folk, blues and gospel.
Like many of his peers, Havens was a songwriter (he co-wrote one of his best-known songs, “Handsome Johnny,” with actor Lou Gossett Jr.). But Havens also knew a great contemporary song when he heard it, and made his name covering and rearranging songs by Bob Dylan (“Just Like a Woman,” “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”) and the Beatles(“With a Little Help from My Friends,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Here Comes the Sun”). “Music is the major form of communication,” he told Rolling Stone in 1968. “It’s the commonest vibration, the people’s news broadcast, especially for kids.”
Rosa Khutor, where the Alpine Center and the Extreme Park are, present the biggest concerns to Olympic organizers.
SOCHI, Russia — The biggest worry among organizers for next year’s Winter Olympics is not whether the sites will be in order, or that the 30-mile road and the new railroad tracks and the thousands of hotel rooms all being built from scratch will be complete, or that the stands will be full of fans despite this city’s remote location.
The biggest worry is the one the Russians cannot control: the weather.
And they have plenty of reasons to worry.
Sochi is more worrisome. This city of nearly 500,000, filled with palm trees and year-round flowers, hugs the shore of the Black Sea. Unlike Vancouver, where most of the outdoor mountain events were held 90 minutes away around Whistler, the venues in the Caucasus Mountains are about 30 minutes away, up a winding canyon.
On the advice of a Finnish company called Snow Secure, the goal this season is to stockpile 500,000 cubic meters of snow into 10 shady pockets above the venues. The massive piles will be covered by insulated blankets, not unlike giant yoga mats, to protect them from the heat of summer.
Up to half of the saved snow may melt by next winter, but the site managers said they could conduct the Olympics even in the unlikely event that no natural snow falls next winter. The stockpiled snow can be shoved down the mountain with Sno-Cats or guided onto steep slides — pipes, a meter in diameter, cut in half — aimed at where the snow is most needed.
By now, you’ve probably heard people call themselves “slaves” to their phones or their computers. We all know what that means — but why are we allowing ourselves to be slaves to the very instruments of technology we’ve created?
Douglas Rushkoff, who spends his days thinking, writing and teaching about media culture, says it’s time for people to stop chasing every ping and start using technology in a way that makes us feel more free. Rushkoff’s latest work is called Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now. He joined NPR’s Audie Cornish to talk about the book.
On the challenge of unplugging
“It’s definitely hard. Your email inbox is a bit like a Las Vegas roulette machine. You know, you just check it and check it, and every once in a while there’s some juicy little tidbit of reward, like the three quarters that pop down on a one-armed bandit. And that keeps you coming back for more. But I think what happens is as we get more and more obsessed with those pings, we lose touch with sort of the continuity of life. We forget what it means to really just be there, looking in someone else’s eyes rather than down at our phone while we’re at a meal. And I guess a lot of what I’m trying to do with this book is to give people permission to take back their time.”
News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch views the digital tablet as part of a push to modernize the educational system. But he has another goal in mind as well. The media mogul is counting on future revenues from his educational branch to help shore up the finances of his newspaper and publishing division as it is split off later this year from the conglomerate’s vast holdings in television and entertainment.
In the past few years, Murdoch has described education as a market worth hundreds of billions of dollars. At a May 2011 event in Paris, Murdoch noted that the fields of medicine, finance and media have all accelerated their adoption of technology. But schools have failed to share such advances, he said.
Some former prisoners of re-education through labor camps and their supporters hold signs in Beijing declaring, “No Re-education Through Labor.” Popular opposition to the camps has grown as China’s state-run media has highlighted particularly egregious cases.
In January, the Chinese government announced it would “reform” the nation’s notorious re-education through labor camps. Under the current system, police can send people to the camps for years without trial, sometimes just for complaining about local officials.
“The system has drawn increasingly wide and fierce criticism from the public for years, and the need for reform is more necessary at present,” read a commentary in China’s state-run Xinhua news service last fall.
The government has yet to explain what reform would mean. However, the people who know the camps best — former inmates — say closing them is long overdue.
China’s Ministry of Justice says 160,000 people were imprisoned in 350 re-education through labor camps at the end of 2008.
Inmates include prostitutes, drug users and people like Shen, who have petitioned the central government to try to redress the wrongs of local officials.
As the author of a book about the opening of the American West in the 1850s (“Death of a Gunfighter: The Quest for Jack Slade, the West’s Most Elusive Legend”), I was astonished by David Brooks’s assertion that the pioneers who traveled west “volunteered to live in harsh conditions … so their descendants could live well for centuries” (“Carpe Diem Nation,” column, Feb. 12).
Posterity was the last thing on the minds of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who flocked westward during the decade after the California Gold Rush of 1849. Most of them were young single men hoping to strike it rich in the gold fields or escape the drudgery of farm life to a wild place that was far removed from the constraints of law enforcement, religion or the domesticating influence of women. (The ratio of men to women in the early West was at least nine to one, and in many places much higher.) Community was a concept they sought to escape, not to build.
With the notable exception of the Mormons who founded Salt Lake City, almost everyone in the early West was too preoccupied with day-to-day survival to worry about their descendants. Even the great entrepreneurs who organized the first freight-wagon trains, stagecoach lines, mail services and telegraph lines rarely planned more than three months into the future.
These remarkable pioneers did indeed transform the West in a remarkably short time, often at the cost of their lives or sanity. But they seem to us like visionaries only in hindsight.
Philadelphia, Feb. 13, 2013
This is odd. Take a look at this map of America at night. As you’d expect, the cities are ablaze, the Great Lakes and the oceans dark, but if you look at the center, where the eastern lights give way to the empty western plains, there’s a mysterious clump of light there that makes me wonder.
Suomi NPP Satellite/NASA Earth Observatory
It’s a little to the left, high up near the Canadian border. Just run your eye up that line of lights at the center of the country, look over to the upper left — there’s a patch that looks like a big city —but there is no big city in that part of North Dakota. There’s mostly grass. So what are those lights doing there? What is that?
If you need help, here’s the same map again, this time the patch is marked with a circle. It turns out, yes, that’s not a city. And those lights weren’t there six years ago.
During his inaugural address on Jan. 14, 1963, newly elected Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace vowed “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”
It was just a single line in a speech given 50 years ago today. But that one phrase, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever,” is remembered as one of the most vehement rallying cries against racial equality in American history.
The year was 1963. Civil rights activists were fighting for equal access to schools and the voting booth, and the federal government was preparing to intervene in many Southern states.
And on Jan. 14, in Montgomery, Ala., newly elected Gov. George Wallace stepped up to a podium to deliver his inaugural address.
Historian Dan Carter, who wrote The Politics of Rage, a biography of George Wallace, recalls how the streets of Montgomery were packed the day of Wallace’s inauguration. His followers from across the state crowded around the platform, Carter says, “many of them wearing these white flowers, which were meant to symbolize their commitment to white supremacy.”
An Austere Life as Uruguay’s President—Every Elected Official Should Be Required To Read This Piece…J.R.
THE SATURDAY PROFILE
By SIMON ROMERO
José Mujica, a former guerrilla who took office in 2010, donates most of his salary, shuns opulence and lives modestly, as he says the leader of a democracy should.
Maurice Herzog, a French alpinist who was hailed as a hero in his country in 1950 when he and a fellow climber became the first men to conquer a peak of more than 26,000 feet, that of Annapurna I in the Himalayas, died on Thursday in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris. He was 93.
His death was confirmed by Christian Brincourt, a longtime friend and former climbing partner. In a tribute, President François Hollande of Francesaid Mr. Herzog’s climb was “engraved enduringly in our collective memory.”
Before Mr. Herzog led a team up Annapurna in the spring of 1950, men had in fact climbed higher — close to 28,000 feet on Mount Everest and K-2, the two tallest mountains in the world. But those climbers had not reached the summits, and it would be three years before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay did so on Everest.
Mr. Herzog and Louis Lachenal reached the summit of Annapurna — the world’s 10th-highest peak, at 26,545 feet — on June 3 in brutal conditions; Mr. Herzog suffered frostbite that cost him most of his fingers and toes.
His star rose higher after he wrote an account of the journey that became what some call the most popular mountaineering book ever written. Titled “Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8,000-Meter Peak,” the book is a harrowing tale of courage, camaraderie and nearly catastrophic struggle.
“The whole of this book has been dictated at the American Hospital at Neuilly, where I am still having rather a difficult time,” he wrote in the introduction, a year after the journey. The book concluded with a famous inspirational line: “There are other Annapurnas in the lives of men.”
The book is said to have sold more than 11 million copies by 2000; National Geographic Adventure magazine called it “the most influential mountaineering book of all time”; Sports Illustrated ranked it 77th in its list of the top 100 sports books ever written. In recent years, however, Mr. Herzog was accused of suppressing competing versions of the climb for his own self-aggrandizement.
In the 2000 book “True Summit: What Really Happened on the Legendary Ascent of Annapurna,” the alpinist and writer David Roberts depicted Mr. Herzog as something of a glory hog. By Mr. Roberts’s account, Mr. Herzog used his prominence to obscure the achievement of Mr. Lachenal, whose diary often conflicted with Mr. Herzog’s book, telling of infighting among the climbers. (Mr. Lachenal also lost digits in the climb.)
Mr. Herzog’s daughter, Felicité, wrote a book in which she portrayed her father as a megalomaniac who “rewrote history, betrayed and neglected his entourage without ever having the sense of hurting anyone because society judged him to be so good.”
But he remained admired in France. Last year he was decorated with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest civilian honor.
Mr. Herzog was born on Jan. 15, 1919. He fought in the French resistance during the German occupation of France in World War II. After his famous climb, he served in several government posts, including as secretary of state for sports when Charles de Gaulle was prime minister and as mayor of the resort town of Chamonix in the French Alps. He was a member of the International Olympic Committee for 25 years and helped bring the 1992 winter games to Albertville, France.
He is survived by his daughter, from his first marriage, as well as his second wife, Elisabeth, and two sons, Mathias and Sébastien.
In 1953, Mr. Herzog wrote an essay for The New York Times in which he described the first time he went climbing in the Alps as a student, finding himself isolated, vulnerable, in peril — and thrilled.
“I believe what I felt that day closely resembles what we call happiness,” he wrote. “I also believe that if I felt such happiness in such rigorous circumstances it is because the planned, organized, predigested happiness that the modern world offers is not complete. It leaves certain sides of man’s nature unsatisfied.”
Pushing the Dream: An empowered movement of young undocumented immigrants seeking a pathway to citizenship is gearing up for the immigration debate in 2013. And they plan to hold President Obama accountable.
NEW HAVEN — It has been a good year for young immigrants living in the country without legal papers, the ones who call themselves Dreamers.
Their protests and pressure helped push President Obama to offer many of them reprieves from deportation. So far about 310,000 youths have emerged from the shadows to apply, with numbers rising rapidly.
Door-knocking campaigns led by those immigrants, who could not vote, mobilized many Latinos who could, based in no small part on the popularity of the reprieve program. After Latinos rewarded Mr. Obama with 71 percent of their votes, the president said one of the first items on his agenda next year would be a bill to legalize 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, which would offer a path to citizenship for young people.
Behind the political momentum, administration officials and advocates say, is an extensive and surprisingly adroit movement of youthful immigrants. Because of their illegal status, however, they have often been more influential than they have been visible. In the past two years, they pursued their goal of legal recognition through a calibrated strategy of quiet negotiations, public “coming-out” events where youths declared their status, and escalating street protests.
Now, movement leaders say, it is payback time. When Congress last debated broad reform, in 2007, populist energy was on the side of those opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants. Angry resistance from Republicans defeated a legalization proposal by President George W. Bush.
This time the young immigrants are the rising force, and they seek legislation to give them a direct and permanent path to citizenship. But recalling that Mr. Obama also promised at the start of his first term to move swiftly on immigration overhaul, they say their attitude toward him is wait-and-see.
Patagonia Catalogue Field Report
Featured in our Fall 2004 catalog
My work involves forecasting avalanches on a highway in southwest Colorado. Once you begin the life, it’s not easy to go back and learn from another. There’s just no time. I recently revisited an old ‘60s favorite, Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book, and he stressed that re-education is a necessary and important life process. I decide it’s time for re-education.
Saturday, July 5, 2003. I arrive in Chile to study under master snow-viewer, very old friend and avalanche forecaster for Ski Portillo, Señor Frank Coffey. An unusual six percent, low-density storm is my companion on arrival. Frank and the patrol go to work. One shot into the main gully above the plateau triggers a large slab avalanche that is heading uncomfortably toward us. Henry Purcell, the owner, suggests we cover up. We bend over in unison to take our punishment from a large powder cloud.
Frank descends into the Gargantita cliffs to retrieve a dud and triggers a meter-deep slab. He’s stuck on a 40-degree slope. A line is dropped and he climbs back to the land of the living. What’s the “sage wisdom,” I wonder to myself. “Experience is a series of nonfatal errors,” I conclude. In darkness, Coffey and I walk to La Posada for counseling. Six centimeters-an-hour stellar dendrites fall as we enter the warmth of the refugio for lomo pobre and pisco sours.
Monday, July 7, 2003. Seventy-six centimeters of wet, 14-percent-density snow falls from a morose sky. An inverted storm! It’s snowing eight centimeters an hour and things are starting to get ugly. A break allows us to get the avalanche work started. “Most of the control work is done by the storm,” Frank says. I hear avalanches running on both sides of the valley.
Tuesday, July 8, 2003. A storm stalls over the Andes with dying winds in its low-pressure spin. It’s snowing four centimeters an hour, with decreasing density. We’ve gotten over 200 centimeters in three days. I anticipate widespread slab avalanche activity, but there is little evidence. I don’t understand what’s happening. A half-meter of delicate snowflakes followed by 14 percent high-density snow with wind. The storm dies with goose feathers. Should I throw out everything I’ve learned? I think of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book.
Thursday, July 10, 2003. Sitting on my pack high on a ridge above Portillo, I spot Frank as he digs the first of many snow pits to prepare for heli-ski clients. Silence surrounds me as condors circle above, looking for fresh meat. I descend to inspect the pit and pucker as I stare at three centimeters of weak graupel lying between two slab layers. Frank smiles. “A little paranoid?” he says. “The two meters that dropped here was a pretty big shock to the snowpack. There are rounds mixed with the graupel, good bonding and warm snow/air temps.”
My life experience in a cold/unstable Colorado snowpack has jaded me. My mind drifts back to the Little Red Book. We ski one at a time from the cliff bands to the landing zone. A series of fine powder turns all the way to the valley bottom. Encantado!
About the Author
Jerry Roberts is an itinerant adventurer, mountaineer and guide. He also is an avalanche forecaster for a highway in southwest Colorado and pursues winter snow in the southern hemisphere as a snow safety consultant for the Chilean mining industry. For a diversion from his real life, he sails his motorcycle south.
It was hard NOT to notice it. Every time we would look to
the west, out of the window in the patrol shack on Hidden Peak,
it was there, arguably one of the most impressive features in Little Cottonwood
Canyon, the Coalpit Headwall.
We didn’t know if it had ever been skied, or even how to get
there. But since no one we knew had ever claimed to have skied it, we assumed
that it probably hadn’t. But that really didn’t matter that much. Staring out
the window, day after day, month after month, it looked big, and remote, and
above all, inviting.
We all worked at Snowbird back then, Peter Schory and I in
Snow Safety, and Joe Royer on the Patrol, and it seemed like all there was to
winter-life was doing avalanche control work, and skiing powder. So in general,
things were pretty good. This was in a time when backcountry skiing in the
Wasatch was a “fringe” sport, with most people waiting until the spring to
venture very far-a-field from the resorts. It was unusual to see tracks laid
down in steep terrain immediately following a storm, and those who did spend
their time skiing in the backcountry, very rarely had to compete for the best
The winter of 1974-75 in Little Cottonwood Canyon was epic.
An unusually dry November, giving us a very weak snow pack, led to dangerous
and unpredictable avalanches during the month of December. In the brief lifespan
of Snowbird, it was by far the most difficult early season we had yet seen. But
by January 1975, things were beginning to settle down, and it was turning into
a banner year. Between December 1st, and the end of April that season,
there had been 580” of snow recorded at the Guard Station in Alta, and on the 29th
of April, there was still 171” of snow on the Master Snow Stake, a record that
still stands for the most total snow on the ground at the Guard Station Study
Plot, ever. The month of May was a
continuation of the previous several months, with about 7’ of additional
snowfall. So by June, when it finally and rather suddenly turned into summer,
there was still ample snow cover, everywhere.
In an Oval Office conversation with a leading historian, the president discusses what he would do with a second term – and his opponent’s embrace of ‘the most extreme positions in the Republican Party
We arrived at the Oval Office for our 45-minute interview with President Obama on the morning of October 11th. After our conversation ended, the president would board Air Force One for Florida, where he was slated to hold a rally at the University of Miami before watching Vice President Joe Biden debate Rep. Paul Ryan. But now, before the tape recorders were turned on, the president and I chatted for a minute about “The Bronco Buster,” the Frederic Remington sculpture next to his desk that once belonged to Theodore Roosevelt. Then, as the small talk began to eat up too much time, Obama took charge. “All right,” he said briskly. “Let’s fire up.”
Regardless of who wins the presidential election, we already know now how most of the electoral map will be colored, which will be close to the way it has been colored for decades. Broadly speaking, the Southern and Western desert and mountain states will vote for the candidate who endorses an aggressive military, a role for religion in public life, laissez-faire economic policies, private ownership of guns and relaxed conditions for using them, less regulation and taxation, and a valorization of the traditional family. Northeastern and most coastal states will vote for the candidate who is more closely aligned with international cooperation and engagement, secularism and science, gun control, individual freedom in culture and sexuality, and a greater role for the government in protecting the environment and ensuring economic equality.
America’s political map may have its roots in the way each region’s settlers tamed social anarchy.
But why do ideology and geography cluster so predictably? Why, if you know a person’s position on gay marriage, can you predict that he or she will want to increase the military budget and decrease the tax rate, and is more likely to hail from Wyoming or Georgia than from Minnesota or Vermont? To be sure, some of these affinities may spring from coalitions of convenience. Economic libertarians and Christian evangelicals, united by their common enemy, are strange bedfellows in today’s Republican party, just as the two Georges — the archconservative Wallace and the uberliberal McGovern — found themselves in the same Democratic Party in 1972.
But there may also be coherent mindsets beneath the diverse opinions that hang together in right-wing and left-wing belief systems. Political philosophers have long known that the ideologies are rooted in different conceptions of human nature — a conflict of visions so fundamental as to align opinions on dozens of issues that would seem to have nothing in common.
William Koch Being Sued By Former Executive For Acting More Like A Paranoid Thug Than Usual (For A Koch) by Abby Zimet–COMMON DREAMS
Wild Bill Koch having a fine old time of it.
A bizarre story from the land of Koch: A lawsuit against William Koch – the one who built the Wild West town ’cause what else to do with all that money? – from his former executive Kirby Martensen charges the billionaire lured Martensen under false pretenses to a secluded ranch where he was imprisoned, interrogated, falsely accused of fraud, summarily fired through a car window, put under sheriff’s guard and forcibly flown away in Koch’s private plane under probably armed escort at 2 a.m., all because Koch had found out by surreptitiously snooping through emails that Martensen distrusted the upper management of Koch’s companies and suspected them of tax evasion on $200,000,000 in profits. Martensen is charging false imprisonment and civil conspiracy, which sounds pretty close to what all the Koch brothers have done to all the rest of us.
“William Koch promoted and implemented a plan to intimidate and discredit plaintiff for the purpose of chilling his speech and damaging his credibility.”
Hikers near Paonia, Colo. Bill Koch, a billionaire industrialist who owns a ranch in the area, is building an Old West town on his property. More Photos »
PAONIA, Colo. — This is a story of a quiet billionaire and a middle-class mountain town, of class divisions, small-town quarrels and competing visions of the future of the West. But at its core, like so many stories here in the aspen-dappled hillsides, it is really all about land.
Specifically, it is about a belt of public land that cuts straight through a ranch owned by the industrialist Bill Koch, whose brothers Charles and David are top contributors to conservative Republican causes.
A century ago, sheepherders used the corridor to drive their flocks from valley floors to high grazing grounds without crossing private property. For decades after, it was mostly forgotten by everyone but a few hunters and hikers — one of dozens of such access strips that stipple maps of the West like a shower of hyphens.
But recently, Mr. Koch has made it perhaps the most contested ground for miles around, setting off a debate about private property and public access, privilege and tradition in an era when boutique ranches and sprawling new Western manors are brushing up against working-class rural communities.
Three years back, Mr. Koch offered a deal to the government that would let him combine the north and south halves of his 4,500-acre Bear Ranch. He would acquire the federally owned corridor that splits his property and four smaller public plots, a total of 1,690 acres.
In return, he would donate two smaller but more valuable and often visited private parcels to the National Park Service: one in the Dinosaur National Monument in Utah, the other near a dazzling reservoir about 70 miles from here. He also promised to build 23 miles of trails and new access routes to the forest and wilderness.
Opponents saw it as a land grab, one that brought the chasm between rich America and just-getting-by America right to their corner of the Rockies. To the staunchest opponents, it was simple: a powerful out-of-town landowner wanted to close public lands in their backyard so he could have the run of his.
Students use a laptop at the Jose Maria public school in a shantytown on the outskirts of Lima, Peru on June 8. Peru has sent more than 800,000 laptop computers to children across the country, one of the world’s most ambitious efforts to leverage digital technology in the fight against poverty. Five years into the program, there are doubts about its success.
Five years ago, Peru plunked down $200 million on more than 800,000 low-cost laptops to distribute to schoolchildren. The purchase was part of the global One Laptop Per Child initiative that aimed to end poverty with computers.
But now there are a lot of questions about how successful Peru’s effort has been, especially in rural areas like the village of Lacachi.
Getting to Lacachi means first taking a country bus two hours from the nearest town, away from the shores of Lake Titicaca, then hiking a few miles through cold, windy hills. Lacachi is a cluster of mudbrick homes, pens filled with cows and pigs, dusty footpaths and a small elementary school painted pistachio green.
The school has about two-dozen kids. They wear sweatpants or long skirts to class, and sandals made of recycled tires. Each morning they line up outside in front of the mountains to sing the national anthem.
In many ways, Lacachi feels lost in time. Electricity arrived just a few years ago, and it goes out a lot. About half of the houses still don’t have power. Potable water is supposed to arrive next year. There’s no cellphone signal.
But because of Peru’s efforts to bring technology to schools, all of the kids here have laptops — sort of.
A rare thunderstorm produced hail, torrential rain and a double rainbow in downtown Fort Collins, Colo., last month.
Throughout the series First and Main this election season,Morning Edition is traveling to contested counties in swing states to find out what is shaping voters’ decisions.
The series started in Florida and the hotly contested county that includes Tampa, then continued to a county in Wisconsin that voted twice for George W. Bush and then swung to Barack Obama.
Renee Montagne just spent a few days in Colorado’s Larimer County, which, after a run of favoring Republican presidential candidates, also switched to Obama in 2008. This fall’s presidential race in Colorado is a dead heat.
We arrived in Colorado on a late summer afternoon. In the distance, dark purple thunderheads were building up, rolling in over dry brown fields. As we drove north from the Denver airport to Fort Collins, lightning flashed brilliantly in the rear-view mirror.
Despite what looked to be a fair amount of snow on the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, it’s been a dry summer for Colorado, marked by devastating wildfires and extreme temperatures. Almost everyone we talked to — from people we met on the plane to our various interviewees — seemed excited about the coming rain.
Even in a normal year — one not marked by dry weather — Colorado gets more than 300 days of sunshine. That plus the beautiful landscape attracts outdoor enthusiasts and adventure-seekers. It’s the healthiest state in an increasingly obese nation; it’s also one of the youngest and one of the most highly educated. Additionally, the Latino population — 20 percent of the state’s total population as of the 2010 census — is rapidly growing.
Fort Collins, where our reporting took us, is the home of Colorado State University, with about 26,000 students. The school sits adjacent to the older part of town, bounded on one side by College Avenue, essentially the main drag of this college town. Just a few blocks off campus, shops and restaurants and bars line the street. It’s a picturesque place — so much so that it served as the model for Disneyland’s Main Street.
Fort Collins is also the seat of Larimer County, one of just a handful of swing counties in this battleground state. Colorado’s nine electoral votes are up for grabs. One-third of the state’s voters are Republican, one-third are Democrat and one-third are unaffiliated — and it’s that unaffiliated vote that has the presidential candidates returning to the state again and again.
Both President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited the state in August, and just last week Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, held a town hall meeting in the small rural community of Timnath, east of Fort Collins.
Historically, both Colorado and Larimer County have trended Republican, but they’re both becoming more purple: In 2008, the county and the state voted for Obama.
We met a number of people who are likely to vote for Obama again, but there are others who are disappointed with how the past four years have gone. Both candidates will have another chance to convince Colorado voters Wednesday evening, when the first of the debates is held in Denver.
One of Havana’s busiest intersections, La Esquina de Tejas. More Photos »
People walking by on the street didn’t seem as skinny. That was the most instantly perceptible difference, if you were seeing Raúl’s Cuba for the first time. They weren’t sickly looking before, but under Fidel you noticed more the way men’s shirts flapped about them and the knobbiness of women’s knees. Now people were filling out their clothes. The island’s overall dietary level had apparently gone up a tick. (One possible factor involved was an increase in the amount of food coming over from the United States. Unknown to most people, we do sell a lot of agricultural products to Cuba, second only in value to Brazil. Under a law that Bill Clinton squeaked through on his way out, Cuba purchases food and medicine from us on a cash basis, meaning, bizarrely, that a lot of the chicken in the arroz con pollo consumed on the island by Canadian tourists is raised in the Midwest — the embargo/blockade has always been messy when you lean in close).
Check out this graph of America’s “Growing Season” — it measures the number of continuous days and nights when it never gets below 32 degrees. You could call this our “frost-free” time of year. In many places, the frost-free season begins in the spring and ends somewhere in October.
As you can see, over the 20th century, it’s been staying frost-free longer…and longer…and longer…
THE POLITICAL SCENE
LET’S BE FRIENDS
BY RYAN LIZZA SEPTEMBER 10, 2012
Why else would Obama spend hours on a golf course being lectured by Clinton?
Barack Obama and Bill Clinton have never been close. Some of their advisers concede that the two men don’t really like each other. They have openly disagreed on policy issues and political strategy, and the acrimony generated during the 2008 Democratic primaries, when Hillary Clinton ran against Obama for the nomination, has yet to fully dissipate. Nevertheless, a carefully orchestrated reconciliation of sorts has been under way for some time now. The former Democratic President, long spurned by the current one, has been given a prominent speaking spot at the Convention, in Charlotte, the night before the President’s speech—a spot usually reserved for the Vice-President. Joe Biden was bumped to the following night, in the slot immediately before Obama.
The reconciliation began in earnest late last summer. Patrick Gaspard, the former White House political director, who has moved to the Democratic National Committee, approached Douglas Band, Clinton’s closest political adviser and longtime gatekeeper, with some suggestions about how the former President might help with Obama’s 2012 reëlection campaign. Band, who, by reputation, has an acute sense for moments of political advantage, tried to explain that you don’t just call up Bill Clinton and tell him to raise money and campaign for you. Band recommended that the two Presidents begin by playing golf. The next day, Obama phoned Clinton and invited him out for a round. Several Clinton associates say that this was the moment they realized that Obama truly wanted to win in 2012. Why else would he spend hours on a golf course being lectured by Clinton?
The Presidential round was played at Andrews Air Force Base on September 24, 2011, and since then Clinton has become a visible and vigorous champion of Obama’s reëlection. Clinton agreed to participate in several fund-raisers; he was in a documentary, released on March 15th, attesting to Obama’s sound judgment in ordering the raid on Osama bin Laden; and he recently appeared in an Obama campaign ad. “President Obama has a plan to rebuild America from the ground up,” Clinton says. “It only works if there is a strong middle class. That’s what happened when I was President. We need to keep going with his plan.” Behind the scenes, Clinton has been involved in detailed discussions about campaign strategy.
For Clinton, Obama’s solicitousness is a welcome affirmation of his legacy and, perhaps, an opportunity to boost his wife’s Presidential prospects. For Obama, the reconciliation could help him win in November. It’s also an ideological turnaround: Obama, who rose to the Oval Office in part by pitching himself as the antidote to Clintonism, is now presenting himself as its heir apparent. It’s a shrewd, even Clintonian, tactical maneuver.
The relationship between a sitting President and his living predecessors is rarely easy. …………… READ MORE……………
By Rob Capriccioso August 24, 2012
WASHINGTON – Pat Rogers, a Republican National Committee (RNC) leader, is facing calls for his dismissal after telling the staff of Gov. Susana Martinez, R-N.M., that because she agreed to meet with American Indians, she disrespected the memory of Col. George Armstrong Custer.
Custer is infamous for being a U.S. Army commander in the mid-1800s who killed many American Indians during what are historically known as the Indian Wars. He was killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876.
Rogers is a GOP lobbyist and partner with the Modrall law firm of Albuquerque, New Mexico. A recent member of the RNC Executive Committee, he is also an RNC National Committeeman for his state. He is currently in Tampa, Florida preparing for the upcoming Republican National Convention.
Rogers was appointed to the GOP executive committee by former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, who faced his own Indian-themed controversy after using the phrase “honest injun” in 2010.
Rogers made the Custer-friendly statement in an e-mail obtained by Independent Source PAC and publicized by ProgressNow New Mexico, a liberal advocacy organization that is urging his exit from the RNC. Organizers with the group say his writing was a “tactless and bigoted statement.”
“The state is going to hell,” Rogers wrote in part of the e-mail. “Col. [Allen] Weh would not have dishonored Col. Custer in this manner.” Weh was a Republican candidate for governor of New Mexico in 2010 who ran against Martinez.
The e-mail was sent following a meeting in June between Martinez and the state’s tribes, according to ProgressNow. It was directed to senior members of the governor’s administration. The governor’s office has not responded to requests for comment.
“George Armstrong Custer may be regarded as a kind of military hero by Pat Rogers, but to the Native peoples of America Custer represents the bellicose imperialism that was responsible for the systematic slaughter of American Indians throughout this continent,” according to an e-mail being circulated by ProgressNow.
“Such a blatantly racist statement against our Native people is offensive from anyone, but to come from a national GOP leader and lobbyist for some of our country’s largest corporations is indefensible,” said Pat Davis, executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico, in a statement.
“These e-mails show the contempt and disrespect New Mexico’s Republican leadership has for our Native people. Unless they drop Pat Rogers immediately, we can rightly assume that those organizations he speaks for, including the RNC, Modrall Sperling and his lobbying clients, feel the same way.”
“Well, there’s an entirely different angle to this,” added Chris Stearns, a Navajo lawyer and chairman of the Seattle Human Rights Commission. “I think you could argue that when Gov. Martinez met with Pat Rogers, she disrespected the memory of intelligent people everywhere.”
ProgressNow New Mexico has posted an online tool that allows people to e-mail RNC leaders and the corporate CEOs of Rogers’ law firm and lobbying clients to call for his firing.
Rogers was forced to resign in July from the board of a state group, the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, after his role in a separate e-mail scandal was investigated. He had been criticized for using personal e-mail accounts to contact state government officials attempting to influence their decision-making–a practice that carries questions under state law.
The RNC and Rogers have not responded to requests for comment, although they have previously taken umbrage with ProgressNow New Mexico for its activism.
by Carl Hulse
Published: September 1, 2012
Mr. Bennet, a surprise pick to fill a Senate vacancy in 2009 who was considered to be at great peril of losing the seat, capitalized on a yawning gender gap and strong support among Hispanics to win. In the process, he showed the way for the Obama campaign to try to pull off a victory in the state despite his lagging popularity among white men.
“We did stitch together a winning coalition in 2010, and I think that coalition is part of the basis of what they are doing here in Colorado,” said Mr. Bennet, who works closely with the White House and is assisting in the president’s re-election effort.
Colorado, which will host the first presidential debate on Oct. 3, is unmistakably a top Obama target. The president has been to the state 11 times since being elected, and a visit on Sunday will be his seventh this year alone.
The campaign has opened more than 50 field offices in Colorado, compared with about a dozen for his Republican rival, Mitt Romney. It has also brought on members of Mr. Bennet’s team, including his chief political strategist, Craig Hughes, to provide their local expertise.
At the moment, Colorado is considered a pure tossup. Most iterations of the electoral map show it to be essential not only for the president to win but also to provide a foundation of support in the West. The campaign believes that it has the advantage, given its edge in registering voters in the state and Mr. Romney’s positions on immigration and women’s issues.
“You’d rather be us than them,” said Jim Messina, the president’s campaign manager and a Denver-born former aide to Senator Max Baucus of Montana, who is widely recognized for his knowledge about what works for Democrats in the difficult political terrain of the Mountain States.
Republicans say they think Mr. Romney can carry Colorado because of dissatisfaction over the economy among its voters — even those who supported Mr. Obama in 2008 and Mr. Bennet two years later. They expect social issues to play less of a role in the race. Still, they concede, it is very close.
“It could go either way,” said Dick Wadhams, a former head of the state Republican Party and a Colorado campaign strategist. “It is a game of inches.”
Democrats and Republicans believe that the outcome will be decided by voters in the suburban Denver counties of Arapahoe and Jefferson, particularly women but also Hispanics — the same voters who were so crucial to Mr. Bennet in 2010.
He was up against Ken Buck, a state prosecutor who had won a primary against Jane Norton, a former lieutenant governor, despite some notable flubs, including his saying that he was a stronger candidate because “I do not wear high heels.” Remarks like that, and his opposition to abortion in the case of rape or incest, provided an opening for Mr. Bennet to reach out to Republican and independent women who were conservative on economic issues but were wary of tough social stances — a hallmark of Colorado swing voters.
To gain ground, Mr. Bennet hammered Mr. Buck on the abortion issue and a rape case that he had declined to prosecute, which he explained by saying the victim might have had “buyer’s remorse.”
Mr. Bennet also ran an ad with a Denver obstetrician-gynecologist accusing Mr. Buck of being too extreme on the issue of women’s health. Mr. Bennet’s wife, Susan, and their three young daughters campaigned heavily for him.
The strategy paid off. Mr. Bennet won narrowly, by about 15,000 votes, but he piled up about twice as many votes as Mr. Buck among Hispanics and ended up with a 17-percentage-point edge among women — the best showing in all of the Senate races that year.
The Obama campaign was clearly paying attention. Mr. Obama recently campaigned in the state with Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University law student who got caught up in a battle over resistance to administration efforts to require health insurers to provide contraception. And the campaign is running ads in an aggressive effort to appeal to women.
One features two women discussing their fears about Mr. Romney being too extreme and out of touch on women’s health issues and his opposition to Planned Parenthood. “I think Mitt Romney would definitely drag us back,” one of the women says.
No one expects Mr. Obama to rack up the kind of margin with women that Mr. Bennet did. But the campaign is hoping to make up that difference with an ambitious outreach to younger voters, who did not vote in large numbers in 2010.
Mr. Wadhams, the Republican strategist, said he thought that Democrats were overplaying their hand on abortion in Colorado and that socially moderate Republican women and independents who were willing to support the president and Mr. Bennet were open to Mr. Romney if he delivered the right appeal.
“They want to vote for Mitt Romney if he can give them the sense that he will make the economy better,” Mr. Wadhams said. “In this election, I think they are far more anxious — absolutely terrified — about the future of the economy.”
Mr. Bennet said he was convinced that women in Colorado would strongly favor the president, given the record of Republicans in Washington and Mr. Romney’s views on issues they see as crucial.
“I am not sure there has been an election where women have a clearer choice,” he said.