The messy, brilliant life of Pablo Neruda ~ The Washington Post

April 18, 2018
 

Few poets offer their biographers as rich a vein of material as the Chilean Nobel Prize-winner Pablo Neruda . Born in Parral, Chile, in 1904, Neruda transcended his modest origins and provincial upbringing to achieve success and significance far beyond the dreams of most writers . Books like “Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair,” “Residence on Earth ” and “Elemental Odes” have sold tens of millions of copies . Nearly 45 years after his death, Neruda continues to be regarded as one of the most significant poets of the 20 th century. In his home country, he remains a beloved and potent national symbol.

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Mark Eisner’s new biography, “Neruda: The Poet’s Calling,” explores the complex confluence of factors that accounts for Neruda’s extraordinary fame and success. Far more than most modern poetry, Neruda’s body of work is quite accessible — a fact that reflects not only his personal preferences but also his political views. Moved at an early age by the exploitation of the disadvantaged, he viewed poetry as existing for the benefit of the common people. “Poetry is like bread,” he famously wrote. “It should be shared by all, by scholars and by peasants, by all our vast, incredible, extraordinary family of humanity.” When it was not overtly political, his poetry tended to concern itself with matters of quotidian existence, finding love and beauty in the commonplace, ordinary objects of daily human life.

Politics was never far from Neruda’s mind, and the story of his life is largely concomitant with the political history of the 20th century. The Chilean capital of Santiago, when he arrived there in 1921, was the center of an active student movement that hungered for progressive poetry. In the 1930s, he watched Spain fall into civil war from his post as a diplomat in Barcelona. Neruda already leaned toward socialism as a result of his Chilean experiences; now, watching as the Soviet Union stepped in to support the Spanish Republicans against Franco’s fascists while the rest of the world remained largely indifferent, he became a loyal communist and supporter of Stalin.

The origins of Neruda’s esteem for Stalin, then, are largely understandable. But his loyalty would persist for decades, long after reports of the brutal reality of Stalin’s dictatorial regime began to emerge, and though he did eventually repudiate that loyalty, it is not entirely clear why it took him so long. (Of course, Neruda was far from the only leftist intellectual of whom this could be said.)

Closer to home, his political activities were easier to admire. In Chile, he always managed to be on the side that opposed the dictators. When, in the late 1940s, the country’s Communist Party was outlawed and protests by coal miners were brutally suppressed, Neruda criticized the government in the international press and on the floor of the Chilean Senate. When the government tried to arrest him, he made a dramatic escape on horseback across the border into Argentina.

He returned to Chile in the mid-1950s and would spend most of the rest of his life there. His death from cancer , on Sept. 23, 1973 , occurred a mere 12 days after the U.S.-backed coup in which Augusto Pinochet ’s forces seized control from the democratically elected president Salvador Allende. Neruda’s funeral be came a spontaneous public demonstration of defiance against the new regime. While soldiers looked on, armed with machine guns but holding their fire, the crowd chanted, “He isn’t dead, he isn’t dead! He has only fallen asleep!”

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Former Patagonia CEO: Quit talking about ‘sustainability’ ~ NYT

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A guanaco in Patagonia Park, Chile. (Linde Waidhofer)

Kristine Tompkins is a former CEO of Patagonia and current president of Tompkins Conservation. Tom Butler is the author of Wildlands Philanthropy: The Great American Tradition and vice president for conservation advocacy at Tompkins Conservation.

PUERTO VARAS, Chile — “Sustainability” may be a worthy goal, but the word has become cliché, now typically deployed in its adverbial form to modify various nature-exploiting activities like “logging” and “fishing” or the catch-all “development.”

So let’s quit talking about “sustainable” this or that and face the overarching question about the future: Can we create a durable civilization in which humans become good neighbors in the community of life? Where our society is embedded in a matrix of wild nature that allows all creatures — from microorganisms to blue whales — freedom to pursue happiness and raise their progeny in a secure habitat?

The path to that flourishing future for the diversity of life is “rewilding” — helping nature heal by returning missing species and processes to parts of the planet where they’ve been eliminated or diminished by human activity. In a strange and inversely proportional ratio of planetary sickness to public concern, there seems to be less attention paid to the mountains of data that scientists are gathering on Earth’s ecological and climate unraveling. We have, however, seen the power of rewilding projects to capture public imagination and gain widespread support.

Recently, Argentine President Mauricio Macri and his family spent a weekend with the rewilding team from Tompkins Conservation, learning how biologists are reintroducing missing species to their former home in the Iberá marshlands of northern Argentina. After successfully returning giant anteaters, pampas deer, tapirs and green-winged macaws, the rewilding team is now working to breed jaguars in captivity so that their offspring may again roam freely in one of South America’s greatest natural areas.


A herd of guanacos in Patagonia Park, Chile. (Pablo Hubner)

 

In his first term, Macri established multiple new protected areas including Iberá National Park; its designation was prompted by the donation of privately assembled land from Tompkins Conservation. Macri has also articulated how expanded parks can help promote ecotourism-related economic vitality and help Argentina meet its commitments to address climate change: wild habitat equals natural carbon sequestered in soil and vegetation.

Similarly, on the other side of the Andes Mountains, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet is creating new marine and terrestrial protected areas. Several weeks ago, before leaving office, Bachelet stood in front of a herd of wild guanacos grazing in the Chacabuco Valley and signed a decree creating the new Patagonia National Park. This act was part of her administration’s agreement to accept a land donation of 1 million acres from Tompkins Conservation along with all of the public-use infrastructure built for two new flagship parks.

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Scott Pruitt Has Become Ridiculous ~ NYT

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Credit Illustration by Mike McQuade; Photograph by Tom Brenner/The New York Times

Despite stiff competition, Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, is by common consensus the worst of the ideologues and mediocrities President Trump chose to populate his cabinet. Policies aside — and they’re terrible, from an environmental perspective — Mr. Pruitt’s self-aggrandizing and borderline thuggish behavior has disgraced his office and demoralized his employees. We opposed his nomination because he had spent his career as attorney general of Oklahoma suing the federal department he was being asked to lead on behalf of industries he was being asked to regulate. As it turns out, Mr. Pruitt is not just an industry lap dog but also an arrogant and vengeful bully and small-time grifter, bent on chiseling the taxpayer to suit his lifestyle and warm his ego.

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In Cuba, the Castro era ends this week as Raúl steps down as ruler ~ An end of an era for many of us … The Washington Post

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Through the Space Age, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Internet era, Cubans held one constant: A Castro ruled the nation.

That is about to change.

Raúl Castro, 86, is expected to step aside as Cuba’s president this week, ending the epochal run of two brothers who sent shock waves through 20th-century politics. Nearly two decades into this century, and less than two years after Fidel Castro’s death, his brother’s exit from Cuba’s top job leaves this insular island at a crossroads, weighing how fast, if at all, to embrace change.

“This is an important moment for Cuba, but the truth is, nobody knows what to expect,” said Camilo Condis, general manager of Artecorte, a community project in Havana. “I mean, other than Fidel and Raúl, who is there? You didn’t really know anyone else.”

 

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“It’s about Raúl Castro saying, ‘I am president, but I have a term, and then someone else is going to lead . . . . If you are someone who really wants the regime to endure, it’s what Raúl needs to do.”

The transition is happening at a time when a decade-long opening under Castro has already begun to alter the fabric of Cuban life. Access to the Internet is still subpar, but hotspots are more widely available than ever before. There are now more than 5 million cellphones in this nation of 11.5 million people. More than 550,000 Cubans work in the private sector. After years in which Cubans were forced to obtain permission to leave the country, Cubans these days can travel freely. It is now possible to buy and sell real estate.

Yet in a country where streets are still swimming in 1950s Chevys and Fords, Cuban life can feel stuck in time, and plagued with problems that never really went away. Locals talk of periodic shortages — eggs, potatoes, toilet paper. In a potential sign of discontent, turnout in recent municipal elections stood at 82.5 percent — the lowest in four decades, and a stunningly low number in a country where citizens face high pressure to vote.

Sean Hannity’s idea of ‘attorney-client privilege’ was right out of ‘Breaking Bad

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Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel, left (Getty); actor Bob Odenkirk of “Better Call Saul.”

On Monday, Sean Hannity walked himself right into an awkward comparison.

It happened after the bombshell revelation in a Manhattan courtroom that Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s client list included the Fox News Channel host. On his afternoon radio show, Hannity explained that his relationship with Cohen was limited to a few “brief discussions” about business matters.

“I might have handed him 10 bucks [and said,] ‘I definitely want your attorney-client privilege on this,’ ” Hannity told listeners Monday afternoon. “Something like that.”

Online, the “handed him 10 bucks” line immediately launched comparisons to an infamous scene from AMC’s smash hit “Breaking Bad.”

In a memorable exchange, one of the shadiest lawyers in television history, Saul Goodman, played by Bob Odenkirk, tells the show’s meth-dealing main characters to “put a dollar in my pocket” to ensure that their conversations about criminal misdeeds remain protected.

And if you are trying to steer clear of a scandal, it’s best if your legal thinking does not echo the “Breaking Bad” lawyer, who later became the protagonist of the prequel, “Better Call Saul.”

But both “Breaking Bad” and Hannity’s conception of attorney-client privilege seem to rest on a faulty understanding of the legal concept. In a 2015 article in the New Mexico Law Review, Armen Adzhemyan and Susan M. Marcella compared the popular show’s presentation of the law with the reality of federal court, including what the pair called the “myth of the dollar bill.”

“Saul has a habit of grossly overstating the reach of the attorney-client privilege,” the two authors wrote.

The famous scene between Goodman, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman appears in the show’s second season, in the eighth episode, titled “Better Call Saul.” Hoping to intimidate one of the attorney’s clients, White and Pinkman kidnap Goodman at gunpoint, bind his wrists and take him out into the desert.

But in true sleazy lawyer fashion, Goodman flips the script, instead offering advice on the pair’s criminal enterprise.

“First things first, you’re gonna put a dollar in my pocket, both of you,” Goodman tells them. “You want attorney-client privilege, don’t you? So that everything you say is strictly between us? I mean it, put a dollar in my pocket, make it official.”

~~ READ/WATCH ~ A GOOD STORY  ~~~

 

The New Yorker, Daily Cartoon: Tuesday, April 17th

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Lights. Camera. Fiction!”

Down ‘The River Of Lost Souls’ With Jonathan Thompson ~ An Interview with CPR radio

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River of Lost Souls: The Science, Politics, and Greed Behind the Gold King Mine Disaster

Award–winning investigative environmental journalist Jonathan P. Thompson digs into the science, politics, and greed behind the 2015 Gold King Mine disaster, and unearths a litany of impacts wrought by a century and a half of mining, energy development, and fracking in southwestern Colorado. Amid these harsh realities, Thompson explores how a new generation is setting out to make amends.

As shocking and heartbreaking as the Gold King spill and its aftermath may be, it’s merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The disaster itself was the climax of the long and troubled story of the Gold King mine, staked by a Swedish immigrant back in 1887. And it was only the most visible manifestation of a slow–moving, multi–faceted environmental catastrophe that had been unfolding here long before the events of August 5, 2015.

Jonathan Thompson is a native Westerner with deep roots in southwestern Colorado. He has been an environmental journalist focusing on the American West since he signed on as reporter and photographer at the Silverton Standard & the Miner newspaper in 1996. He has worked and written for High Country News for over a decade, serving as editor-in-chief from 2007 to 2010. He was a Ted Scripps fellow in environmental journalism at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and in 2016 he was awarded the Society of Environmental Journalists’ Outstanding Beat Reporting, Small Market. He currently lives in Bulgaria with his wife Wendy and daughters Lydia and Elena.

The Humble Potato Is Exalted in the Mountains of Peru ~ NYT

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Nazario Quispe Amao, an agriculturist, planting potatoes on the outskirts of Chahuaytire, a mountain village in southern Peru. Potatoes were domesticated in the Andes more than 10,000 years ago. Credit, Guillermo Gutierrez Carrascal for The New York Times

Chahuaytire, Peru — Gumercinda Quispe is a descendant of Peruvian Incas and here, high in the Andes, more than 12,500 feet above sea level, she has prepared a nourishing, spicy potato soup, quacha chuño.

She has made it with both fresh potatoes and chuño, the dried, hard white potatoes that are still prepared just a stone’s throw away. The ancient preservation process includes soaking them in an icy stream, stomping them by foot to remove the skins and drying them in the sun.

The ancient Incas farmed the mountain slopes using terraces. Credit, Guillermo Gutierrez Carrascal for The New York Times

I love potatoes. They are not a staple in my native India, as they are in Peru. In India, they are a beloved, cheap treat. Cooked in thousands of different ways, almost always creatively burnished with selective spoonfuls from a treasure chest of seasonings and spices, potatoes are served in every town and village at mealtimes and as chutney-augmented street snacks. I wanted to learn more about potatoes here in the land of their birth.

In the little mountain village of Chahuaytire near the town of Pisac in southern Peru, Ms. Quispe and I sat down at a table close to the warm, sooty hearth in the rustic restaurant where she works. The sun was shining bright outside, and the sky was a clear, cold blue.

“Put some sauce in the soup and drink from the bowl,” she said, motioning to the verdant uchucuta sauce she had prepared. “Uchu” means “chiles” in the Quechua language of the Incas, and “cuta” means “ground.”

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Kiitella Medals: 2018 Toyota U.S. Alpine Championships @ Sun Valley

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Super G Womens Jr & Overall winners: Nina O’Brien, A J Hurt & Nellie Rose Talbot. Photo © Nils Ribi
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Super G Men’s Overall winners: Ryan Cochran-Siegle, Jack Gower & River Radamus. Photo © Nils Ribi

At the 2018 Toyota U.S. Alpine Championships, hosted by Sun Valley March 19-26, podium finishers were awarded some very impressive Idaho spuds – PLUS medals custom designed and fabricated by metal artist Lisa Issenberg, of Kiitellä (Finnish v. meaning to thank, applaud or praise). These “gold, silver & bronze” medals consist of jetcut satin-polished brass, steel and bronze. Kiitellä’s process includes a mix of both handcraft and industrial techniques… no two medals are the same.