The Last Word: Carlos Santana on Turning 70, Trump’s ‘Darkness’ ~ RollingStone interview

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Fifty-one years after the Santana Blues Band played its first shows, Carlos Santana never fails to surprise. He’s one of the spiritual founding fathers of the Sixties counterculture but currently lives in, of all places, Las Vegas with his wife, Santana drummer Cindy Blackman. “I’ve never had that gambling bug at all,” he says, “but everything I said I would never do is in front of me. I didn’t realize that some of the most gifted musicians, like Nat ‘King’ Cole and Sinatra, did [Vegas]. So I rearranged my position.” He records with modern pop acts and has covered AC/DC and Def Leppard – but reunited an early lineup of Santana last year and is about to release Power of Peace, his first-ever collaboration with longtime friends Ronald and Ernie Isley. Here, Santana shares life lessons from his five-decade cosmic journey – the beliefs that keep him going, how he’s trained his inner child and the times when he’ll defend himself.

What are the best and worst parts of success?
I get to meet like-minded people like Harry Belafonte and Desmond Tutu. I also got to meet Dr. J and Wilt Chamberlain. You ask Wilt, “Hey, how’s the weather up there?” He says, “Which state?”

Sometimes you also get to meet a knucklehead. If I’m out at a restaurant, I’m more than happy to take a photo with someone, but if they get a little too intense or drunk, I tell them, “I need you to honor my wife and honor me because you may have to call an ambulance for you and the police for me.” They say, “Oh, I thought you were spiritual.” I say, “I am, and I’m trying to stay that way.”

What was your favorite book as a kid, and what does it say about you?
Anthony Quinn’s autobiography The Original Sin. He had an inner child who was always putting him down. Everyone has some serious inner child that can be a demon and make you feel like crap. I learned to train that child to respect me and honor me.

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Outgoing Ethics Chief: U.S. Is ‘Close to a Laughingstock’

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WASHINGTON — Actions by President Trump and his administration have created a historic ethics crisis, the departing head of the Office of Government Ethics said. He called for major changes in federal law to expand the power and reach of the oversight office and combat the threat.

Walter M. Shaub Jr., who is resigning as the federal government’s top ethics watchdog on Tuesday, said the Trump administration had flouted or directly challenged long-accepted norms in a way that threatened to undermine the United States’ ethical standards, which have been admired around the world.

“It’s hard for the United States to pursue international anticorruption and ethics initiatives when we’re not even keeping our own side of the street clean. It affects our credibility,” Mr. Shaub said in a two-hour interview this past weekend — a weekend Mr. Trump let the world know he was spending at a family-owned golf club that was being paid to host the U.S. Women’s Open tournament. “I think we are pretty close to a laughingstock at this point.”

Mr. Shaub called for nearly a dozen legal changes to strengthen the federal ethics system: changes that, in many cases, he had not considered necessary before Mr. Trump’s election. Every other president since the 1970s, Republican or Democrat, worked closely with the ethics office, he said

A White House official dismissed the criticism, saying on Sunday that Mr. Shaub was simply promoting himself and had failed to do his job properly.

“Mr. Schaub’s penchant for raising concerns on matters well outside his scope with the media before ever raising them with the White House — which happens to be his actual day job — is rather telling,” Lindsay E. Walters, a White House spokeswoman, said in a statement that misspelled Mr. Shaub’s name. “The truth is, Mr. Schaub is not interested in advising the executive branch on ethics. He’s interested in grandstanding and lobbying for more expansive powers in the office he holds.”

Mr. Trump’s repeated trips to his family’s business properties — he has visited one of them on at least 54 days since moving into the White House nearly six months ago, including nearly 40 stops at a family golf course — have caused discomfort for Mr. Shaub each time.

“It creates the appearance of profiting from the presidency,” Mr. Shaub said. “Misuse of position is really the heart of the ethics program, and the internationally accepted definition of corruption is abuse of entrusted power. It undermines the government ethics program by casting doubt on the integrity of government decision making.”

Mr. Shaub recommended giving the ethics office limited power to subpoena records, as well as authority to negotiate prohibitions on presidential conflicts of interest; mandating that presidential candidates release tax returns; and revising financial disclosure rules. But he acknowledged that some of these proposals would be difficult to pass in Congress.

There are signs that lawmakers are open to considering the ideas. Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, the new Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he was preparing to meet with Mr. Shaub. The effort could be a test of what kind of appetite Mr. Gowdy has to challenge the Trump administration as the chairman of what is traditionally the most active oversight committee in Congress.

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Nine Offbeat Sports Documentaries on Netflix and Amazon Prime

Marginal sports, iconoclastic athletes and audacious style define these unconventional documentaries.

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Surfwise

Perfect as a companion — or counterpoint — to “The Endless Summer,” this documentary from Doug Pray unearths the peculiar true story of a family that spent 20 years living as nomads of surf and sand but suffered consequences from breaking with society. In the ’60s and ’70s, Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz and his nine children packed into an RV and traveled along the country’s beaches, where they became renowned for their ascetic lifestyle and their surfing prowess. With rapid-fire energy and scrupulous reportage, Pray reveals the principles and flaws of Paskowitz’s experiment and its impact on his children’s future.

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Meru

Documentaries about death-defying mountain climbs are practically a subgenre unto themselves, but what sets “Meru” apart is the you-are-there quality of the footage, which was shot by one of the climbers, Jimmy Chin, as he and his longtime partner ascended the “shark fin” route to the peak of Meru, in India. Even among experienced alpinists, the “shark fin” is considered a ludicrous summit because of the brittle rock on the incline, which can chip off with one misplaced swing of a pickax. Nevertheless, Chin kept a digital camera tucked into his gear and kept on shooting on the way up, even when his odds of survival grew perilous.

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On Any Sunday

Five years after popularizing surfing with “The Endless Summer,” director Bruce Brown did the same for motocross with “On Any Sunday” (1971) which continues Brown’s yen for voice-over narration, beautiful slow-motion action shots and the thrill-seekers who risk their necks in pursuit of the transcendent. Although Steve McQueen, himself a motorcycle enthusiast, turns up to show off his own considerable skills (he also helped finance the film), Brown focuses on Mert Lawwill and Malcolm Smith, two champion cyclists who chase big air and small paydays on the professional circuit. But Brown’s visual panache is the film’s biggest draw: His cameras are attached to cycles and helicopters, under jumps and around hairpin turns. He makes poetry out of derring-do.

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In Chile, Many Regard Climate Change As The Greatest External Threat

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Fernando Rojas has spent his life living by a large lake in central Chile. About seven years ago it began to shrink, and now most of the water is gone. He holds a photo taken when the lake was full.

Philip Reeves/NPR

Fernando Rojas is holding up a photograph of a pocket of countryside, between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes mountains, that has been his home, his livelihood, and his passion for all of his 74 years.

His picture shows a lake, brimming with water, in front of a range of hills that are silhouetted by the sun. In the foreground, by the water’s edge, there’s a small boat, ready to set sail. Next to that, there’s a wooden jetty, jutting out into the waves.

You would hardly know that this image, taken in Chile just a few years ago, is of the same depleted landscape on which Rojas is now standing, grim-faced, puzzled and — he says — full of sadness.

 

What water is left in the lake is in the hazy distance — about half of a mile away, a languid puddle, less than 3 feet deep, fringed by weeds and white egrets.

The Laguna de Aculeo — as this lake’s known — used to be a favorite retreat for many of the 7 million citizens of Chile’s capital, Santiago, 45 miles to the north.

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A dock rests in a dry waterbed in central Chile.

Philip Reeves/NPR

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Living Another Day, Thanks to Grandparents Who Couldn’t Sleep ~ NYT

“I have a feeling that this is the role that retired snow scientists play as well….just watching over the tribe in the wee hours.” D. Ferguson

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Researchers studied the mixed-age sleeping habits of the Hadza, a hunter-gatherer community in Tanzania, for insights into human evolution. CreditAlyssa Crittenden

You may not look forward to sleeping less as you get older. But maybe it wouldn’t seem as bad if you knew it once played an important role in human survival.

A new study, published Tuesday in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggests that the way sleep patterns change with age may be an evolutionary adaptation that helped our ancestors survive the night by ensuring one person in a community was awake at all times. The researchers called this phenomenon the “poorly sleeping grandparent hypothesis,” suggesting that an older member of a community who woke before dawn might have been crucial to spotting the threat of a hungry predator while younger people were still asleep. It may explain why people slept in mixed-age groups through much of human history.

“We may be looking at just another reason why grandparents were critical in human evolution,” said Alyssa Crittenden, an author of the study and an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Researchers analyzed the sleep patterns of a society of hunter-gatherers in Tanzania called the Hadza. Thirty-three members of the Hadza community wore small watchlike tracking devices on their wrists for 20 days.

The Hadza sleeping environment may have similarities to that of earlier humans, researchers said. They sleep outdoors or in grass huts in groups of 20 to 30 people without artificially regulating temperature or light. These conditions provide a suitable window to study the evolutionary aspects of sleep.

Out of more than 220 total hours of sleep observation, researchers found only 18 minutes when all adults were sound asleep simultaneously. Typically, older participants in their 50s and 60s went to bed earlier and woke up earlier than those in their 20s and 30s. On average, more than a third of the group was alert, or lightly dozing, at any given time.

Previous studies have observed this age-related variation in sleep times in animals, but this was the first study to find it in humans, Dr. Crittenden said.

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No One Cares About Russia in the World Breitbart Made ~ NYT ~ Op/Ed

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The revelation that Donald Trump’s son, son-in-law and campaign manager met with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer promising information that would “incriminate” Hillary Clinton was a true bombshell in an era when we have become almost inured to them. Here was proof that members of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign had, at the very least, been eager to collude with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

No one could gainsay the facts: Mr. Trump’s own son published them on Twitter.

As recently as five or 10 years ago, every major news outlet would have treated this set of facts as front-page news and a dire threat to Mr. Trump’s presidency. The conservative press and Republican voters might disagree on certain particulars or points of emphasis. But their view of reality — of what happened and its significance — would have largely comported with that of the mainstream. You’d have had to travel to the political fringe of right-wing talk radio, the Drudge Report and dissident publications like Breitbart News to find an alternative viewpoint that rejected this basic story line.

Not anymore. Look to the right now and you’re apt to find an alternative reality in which the same set of facts is rearranged to compose an entirely different narrative. On Fox News, host Lou Dobbs offered a representative example on Thursday night, when he described the Donald Trump Jr. email story, with wild-eyed fervor, like this: “This is about a full-on assault by the left, the Democratic Party, to absolutely carry out a coup d’état against President Trump aided by the left-wing media.”

Mr. Dobbs isn’t some wacky outlier, but rather an example of how over the last several years the conservative underworld has swallowed up and subsumed more established right-leaning outlets such as Fox News. The Breitbart mind-set — pugnacious, besieged, paranoid and determined to impose its own framework on current events regardless of facts — has moved from the right-wing fringe to the center of Republican politics.

It’s a process that’s happened organically. “They have an incredible eye for an important story, particular ones that are important to conservatives and Republicans,” Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general, told me in 2015, explaining how Breitbart News was shaping grass-roots conservative opinion by spreading its message across mediums that party leaders in Washington paid little attention to. “They’ve become extraordinarily influential. Radio talk-show hosts are reading Breitbart every day. You can feel it when they interview you.”

There have been mileposts along the way: the populist revolt on the right that killed bipartisan immigration reform in 2013, the toppling of House Speaker John Boehner in 2015. And, of course, the rise of Mr. Trump, whose attacks on the mainstream media have conditioned his supporters to dismiss as “fake news” any reporting that is critical of him or his administration — Mr. Trump has even criticized the coverage of his son’s Russia liaison, where the basic facts aren’t in dispute, as coming from the “fake media.”

The full scale of this transformation still hasn’t registered, but it’s evident in President Trump’s approval ratings. Despite six months of White House strife, precious few legislative achievements and a metastasizing Russia scandal, Republicans have largely stood by their president. While his national support has dipped below 40 percent, his approval rating within his own party remains strong: Republican support for the president has hovered around 85 percent since his inauguration. These numbers reflect a shift in Republicans’ disposition, of which Mr. Trump is both a major cause and the main beneficiary.

So far, there’s little sign that the president’s approval rating with Republicans is in danger of eroding. Earlier this month, a congressional source told me, Democratic strategists looking at a Republican-held swing district that is expected to be in play in next year’s midterm elections were shocked when a private poll they conducted showed that Republican support for Mr. Trump in the district is even stronger now than it was on Election Day.

A number of factors have been put forward to explain President Trump’s unexpected resilience. One line of argument is that he’s being buoyed by Republican lawmakers who could abandon him if they lose faith in his ability to deliver results. “The relationship has always been largely transactional,” the G.O.P. strategist Alex Conant told RealClearPolitics this month. “Republicans in Congress can pass laws, and Trump can sign them. Therefore, it’s mutually beneficial.”

Another argument holds that Mr. Trump’s efforts to discredit mainstream outlets, echoed by the right-wing media, have stripped his followers of their ability to distinguish what’s real from what isn’t.

Both arguments have merit. But the transformation of the Republican mind-set encompasses more than just news or politics. Andrew Breitbart, the founder of Breitbart News, liked to say that “politics is downstream from culture.”

Culture has always been a driving obsession of the conservative underworld of Breitbart and its ilk. “Andrew was always more interested in changing the culture than he was in changing what was going on in Washington,” Steve Bannon, who ran Breitbart News and is now Mr. Trump’s chief White House strategist, once told me. (Mr. Bannon left his position at Breitbart News in August of 2016 to take over the Trump campaign.)

One reason that an alternative view of reality has taken such deep root among Republicans is that they seem to be focusing more on the broader culture. Last week a new Pew Research Center poll showed that a majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents now believes that colleges and universities — the flash point of our current culture wars — have a negative effect on the country. This number is up sharply from the 45 percent who agreed with this same statement last year.

If you look at the other side of the aisle, about three-quarters of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents consistently say that colleges and universities have a positive effect on the country.

As American politics has become more polarized and tribal, it’s gotten harder to shake voters from their partisan loyalties. At least so far, the news that Donald Trump Jr. was prepared to accept Russian help to subvert a United States election doesn’t appear to have changed this state of affairs. If you’re not a Republican, watching Republicans react to the news can feel a bit like witnessing a mass hallucination. Even more so when some emissary from the alternate Republican universe like Kellyanne Conway teleports onto CNN or another mainstream outlet to state her case.

There’s no guarantee that this will endure. Even on Fox News, there are scattered signs that the latest Russia developments may finally be breaking through — at least to a few folks. “This was a bungled collusion,” the Fox pundit Charles Krauthammer said the other night, noting that he had previously been sympathetic to the White House line. “It undoes the White House story completely.”

But of course the conservative ranks have always included principled NeverTrumpers, whose resistance to the Republican drift has been mostly ignored by the rank and file. Don Jr.’s travails will be a good test of the resiliency of the new Republican worldview. If special counsel Robert Mueller finds evidence of Russian collusion, it will be followed by a bigger test measuring just what it takes to snap out of a mass hallucination.

Chinese Nobel Peace Laureate And Human Rights Advocate Liu Xiaobo Dies

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A chair sat empty for Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo in Oslo, Norway, in 2010. The rights activist was imprisoned in China in 2009.

Heiko Junge/AFP/Getty Images

Prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo, the only Chinese citizen to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize while still residing in China, has died at age 61. Liu died Thursday while on medical parole in northeastern China’s Shenyang city, where he was being treated for liver cancer. He was serving an 11-year prison sentence for trying to overthrow the government.

By the time Liu, a scholar and human rights advocate, was diagnosed in late May, his liver cancer was already in its late stages. Chinese authorities released video footage intended to show that Liu had been receiving good medical care, and they invited U.S. and German doctors to treat him. But Beijing rejected calls to allow him to seek treatment overseas.

Liu’s biographer and friend, the U.S.-based dissident Yu Jie, believes that China’s government had a motive to withhold or delay treatment: It feared the consequences of Liu getting out of prison alive.

In that case, Yu says, “he would [have] become a standard-bearer for China’s democratization and civil society.”

Liu was born in 1955 in northeastern China’s Changchun city, a center of heavy industry. He spent his teenage years in the countryside during the 1966 to 1976 Cultural Revolution and was admitted to college in 1977, as universities reopened following the decade of chaos.

In 1988, Liu received his doctorate in literature from Beijing Normal University, and he stayed on to work as a lecturer and literary critic.

“He was known then as a rebel, the black horse of the literary scene,” says Perry Link,a China scholar at Princeton and the University of California, Riverside who has translated Liu’s works into English. “And he took on just about everybody else and made fun of them and debunked them.”

Yu says Liu was especially good at debunking Chinese intellectuals who claimed to be liberals. “He perceptively discovered and criticized traces of the Communist Party’s education and brainwashing in them,” he says.

When the Tiananmen Square democracy movement broke out in 1989, Liu flew back to Beijing from New York, where he was a visiting scholar at Columbia University.

Along with three other protest leaders, Liu led a hunger strike in the heart of the square. Its aim, he said, was to compel both the government and the student protesters to reflect on their own behavior.

 

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China’s Religious Revival Fuels Environmental Activism 点击查看本文中文版

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A statue of Lao-tzu, the founder of Taoism, at the new Mao Mountain temple complex near Nanjing, China.CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

MAO MOUNTAIN, China — Far from the smog-belching power plants of nearby cities, on a hillside covered in solar panels and blossoming magnolias, Yang Shihua speaks of the need for a revolution.

Mr. Yang, the abbot of Mao Mountain, a sacred Taoist site in eastern China, has grown frustrated by indifference to a crippling pollution crisis that has left the land barren and the sky a haunting gray. So he has set out to spur action through religion, building a $17.7 million eco-friendly temple and citing 2,000-year-old texts to rail against waste and pollution.

“China doesn’t lack money — it lacks a reverence for the environment,” Abbot Yang said. “Our morals are in decline and our beliefs have been lost.”

Hundreds of millions of people in China have in recent years turned to religions like Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, seeking a sense of purpose and an escape from China’s consumerist culture.

Now the nation’s religious revival is helping fuel an environmental awakening.

Spiritual leaders are invoking concepts like karma and sin in deriding the excesses of economic development. Religious followers are starting social service organizations to serve as watchdogs against polluters. Advocates are citing their faith to protest plans to build factories and power plants near their homes.

“Certainly it is a very powerful force,” said Martin Palmer, the secretary general of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, a group that works with Chinese spiritual leaders. “People are asking, ‘How do you make sense of your life?’ An awful lot are looking for something bigger than themselves, and that is increasingly the environment.”

The Chinese government, which regulates worship and limits activism, has so far tolerated the rise of religious environmentalists.

President Xi Jinping has championed the study of Chinese traditions, including Taoism and Confucianism, in part to counter the influence of Western ideas in Chinese society. Mr. Xi, in articulating the so-called Chinese dream, has called for a return to China’s roots as an “ecological civilization” — a vision he has described as having “clear waters and green mountains” across the land.

Mao Mountain, with its stretches of untouched land, stands as a monument to nature. Chongxi Wanshou, Abbot Yang’s eco-friendly temple, opened in August 2016. Its 20 acres include an organic vegetable garden. Nearby is a giant statue of Lao-tzu, the founder of Taoism, who is worshiped here as a “green god.” Bees’ nests hang undisturbed, and signs remind passers-by that branches and trees are synonymous with life.

The mountain’s spiritual leaders say they are seeking to define a distinctly Chinese type of environmentalism, one that emphasizes harmony with nature instead of Western notions of “saving the earth.”

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The Unfinished Work of Alan Lomax’s Global Jukebox

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Alan Lomax, the musicologist and musician, with microphone, and Pete Seeger, right, practicing for a performance at Carnegie Hall in 1959. CreditJohn Cohen/Getty Images

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There’s a fundamental contradiction to the life and work of Alan Lomax, the prolific collector of American folk songs. He encouraged Western audiences to appreciate rural and indigenous traditions as true art, on the same level as classical music. Meanwhile, he wanted to help those marginalized societies maintain distinct cultural identities, empowering them against the encroaching influence of mass media.

So how does that work? How can we bring these traditions into a cosmopolitan world without compromising them? When a culture comes under the anthropologist’s gaze, can it still write its own history?

In 1983 Lomax established the Association for Cultural Equity, known as ACE, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing that tension, largely by making sure the communities he had recorded reaped some reward. This spring, the organization unveiled the Global Jukebox, a free, interactive web portal with recordings of more than 6,000 folk songs from around the world that Lomax recorded or acquired. Most have never been publicly available.

It’s still imperfect, but the jukebox is a huge achievement. It will ensure that his work lives on in a single, broadly accessible collection, under the stewardship of an organization whose mission he helped define. Yet there are some questions it still must answer. What is it doing to further the creative life of the communities that created this music? As Lomax put it in a dispatch from 1976, how can the jukebox “make culture again grow on the periphery — where culture has always grown”? And does the Global Jukebox resist the false notion that homegrown expression in nonurban areas is a thing of the past — or does it feed into it?

On the Global Jukebox website, the recordings are plotted on a world map. Using a system called cantometrics, devised by Lomax and the ethnomusicologist Victor Grauer, each song has been analyzed according to 41 variables, such as vocal inflection and ensemble size. Users can sort songs from around the world and sift for commonalities, finding clues to migration patterns, or the ways that societies with similar structures share modes of expression.

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