The Europeans Trying to Make Fascism Cool Again … and Failing

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You can find them on YouTube, if you’re so inclined — in action-packed footage of an angry crowd waving yellow and black flags, with lingering close-ups of young blond men. Hard-driving music accompanies captions in English that flash across the screen, lambasting the media for underreporting the size of the crowd and comparing the European Union to a communist dictatorship. It’s amateurish, but it has a young person’s energy — you might, when you were 15 and angry, have watched the video clip with your headphones on and thought, I’m angry too

This is Generation Identity, a Europe-wide anti-immigrant movement that recently has made headlines for its ongoing attempt to buy a boat in order to thwart nongovernmental organizations on the Mediterranean trying to rescue migrants making the dangerous sea crossing to Europe. It’s a teeming, grassroots, internet-savvy army of meme-making white nationalists. At least that’s the image they try to project. In reality, some observers say, the movement is far smaller — and more manufactured — than its participants would like the internet audience to believe.  

From 2000 to 2014, 94 people were killed in Europe by right-wing terrorists — nearly six times as many as by religiously motivated killers.

“It’s pretty much overblown,” says Stefan Lauer of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, which studies and combats right-wing extremism. “A lot of the action and performance stuff they’re doing is for social media. They have their own film teams with them, always. They film everything. But actually a lot of those happenings, if you saw them in town, you might not even know what they’re doing.” He estimates there are, at most, 200 identitarians in Berlin and maybe twice that number in Germany as a whole. Nevertheless, the movement has generated lots of German media attention that focuses more on a few internet-savvy projects and videos and less on the fact that this just isn’t a very influential — or even emergent — movement.

It’s not easy to contact the identitarians. Requesting an interview in English gets me bounced over to the Defend Europe project — that’s the name of the crowdfunded boat to keep refugees off the continent — where a tight-lipped woman named Diane says she won’t talk about their movement, only about the boat, but she has no comment on reports that the boat’s crew had been evacuated in Cyprus. She also categorically denies that the vessel’s crew members would interrupt the work of NGOs or interact with refugees. Their only mission, she says, is to “observe the activity of NGOs in the sea.” This is not the slick messaging one would expect, but the group can be excused for a bit of disarray — their boat project has run into several snags, tarnishing their get-things-done-with-the-power-of-the-people imaging. If your entire brand is based on being cool to attract new followers, it doesn’t help to look incompetent.

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Supporters of the Identitarian Movement march on June 17, 2017, in Berlin, Germany.

Source Photo by Michele Tantussi/Getty Images

You might think that hardcore nationalism with an ever-present threat of violence would be a hard sell in Germany. Fabian Virchow, director of a research unit on right-wing extremism at the University of Applied Sciences in Düsseldorf, says the identitarians get around this problem by reaching further back in history — and a bit east. Identitarian groups across Europe have adopted the lambda symbol, which supposedly adorned the shields of the Spartan army in ancient Greece, rather than more recognizable symbols of fascism. But the difference between identitarians and other white nationalist groups, like Pegida, is that their actions “hold an element of confrontation and exceed legal rules, [without] turning into violent action,” Virchow explains. And, of course, they have their own media team to publish videos about any public action they undertake.

 

To be sure, white supremacist groups across Europe have done real damage. In fact, a London think tank determined that from 2000 to 2014, 94 people were killed in Europe by right-wing terrorists — nearly six times as many as by religiously motivated killers. And Generation Identity and its youth may be a front for something even darker: Virchow explains that there are “older guys in the background,” and Lauer identifies many of the leaders of Generation Identity as former members of the National Democratic Party (NPD), an ultranationalist German party that has been the subject of multiple banning attempts due to its white nationalist views.

Where Generation Identity’s play may actually be abetting white supremacist movements is in cleaning up the far right’s image. “The language and the way they look, they don’t look like old-school neo-Nazis,” says Lauer. “These are younger people who are kind of … normal-looking, and that does work.” Even Facebook invitations to Generation Identity events are designed to make the movement look like an “attractive open youth movement,” Lauer says, which could help soften the public view of the far right. Maybe so, but Generation Identity promoters predicted they’d see a thousand people at a recent march in Berlin — and fewer than 600 showed up. 

My Life in a Long Line of Whiskey Hall of Famers

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In this occasional series, OZY takes to streets and neighborhoods across the globe to ask a simple question: “How was your day?” 

Bruce Russell
Austin, Texas

I’m at an airport reading the news. This year, I’ve been on the road and traveling around the country 90 percent of the time as the brand ambassador for Wild Turkey and Russell’s Reserve. When I’m not traveling, I’m teaching retailers, distributors and customers about Wild Turkey, Russell’s Reserve and the work my grandfather and father are doing. Which means I can be doing anything from introducing new products to talking about the unique way we do things.

Getting into the Hall of Fame for being distilling legends? That’s what it takes. That and a lifetime of hard work and dedication to the craft of bourbon making. I think both my father and my grandfather belong in the Hall of Fame because they worked their way from the ground up and remained steadfast when not many people were interested in whiskey. When Jimmy, my grandfather, started back in 1954, it was common to see him sweeping the floors and performing every task at the distillery. My dad, Eddie, was the same. To this day, they continue to produce some of the best bourbon in the world. It’s an easy thing to start a distillery today, now that bourbon is hot and you can call yourself a “master” distiller, but a true master knows that no job is too small and that graduating to Master Distiller takes years to achieve.

Sometimes people forget that taking opportunities to sit down … and chat … is how we develop lifelong support for our products and craft. 

I’m still the low man on the totem pole, so I work for everyone else! The thing that gives me the most joy is when I see someone interested in or enjoying the whiskey that my father and grandfather have spent their lives trying to perfect. Educating others on what makes not only our bourbon but all bourbon special is a huge passion of mine.

 

When I first went to college at the University of Kentucky, I wanted to be an engineer and work with robotics. I’ve always been a tinkerer to some extent, and it helps sometimes when I’m trying to learn the way distillation works. But I decided I wanted to stay in this business when I got a summer job at the distillery after my 21st birthday. When I saw how much passion and pride my dad and my grandfather have for their bourbon, and the other people who work at the distillery, I knew it was where I belonged. I’m 28 now. But that’s me — my younger brother, Jacob, coaches football at Union College in Kentucky.

The hardest part of the job? The nonstop schedule. It can be grueling at times, but that’s what it takes to succeed in this business. I think sometimes people forget that taking opportunities to sit down one-on-one and chat with a bartender or enthusiast, even if it’s over a nice bourbon, is how we develop lifelong support for our products and craft. 

But that’s work. For fun, if I’m not drinking bourbon? My favorite nonalcoholic drink is iced tea. At a bar, if I’m not drinking bourbon, I’m usually drinking beer or a Campari neat.  

The Most Dangerous State for Workers

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As a lifelong carpenter, Jared Castoreno had developed a reputation as a perfectionist. “Everyone knew him as Mr. Safety,” his brother, Aaron, remembers. But the Grand Forks, North Dakota, native also felt pressured by his employer to perform.

And so Castoreno continued on a remodeling job that hadn’t been checked by an electrician, despite multiple requests to his boss, his family says. Hours later, the 30-year-old was found dead, accidentally electrocuted (his employer, Civil Contracting Services, did not respond to requests for comment). The tragedy was compounded by North Dakota’s dismal safety record. “If my brother was working in a different state, he would still be alive,” says Aaron, who is now leading efforts to change workplace safety laws.

North Dakota has the highest fatality rate for laborers per capita in the nation.

Worse still, this is the fourth time in the past five years it has topped the list for most worker deaths. That analysis comes from an annual report published by the AFL-CIO, the largest union collaborative in the United States, which found 47 deaths on the job in North Dakota — a rate of 12.5 per 100,000 workers — in 2015, the most recent year of available data. The other states with the highest fatality rates included Wyoming (12 per 100,000), Montana (7.5) and Mississippi (6.8). Overall, nearly 5,000 people were killed in labor-related incidents that year.

There is no acceptable number when it comes to the loss of life and injured people.

Eric Brooks,  North Dakota area director, Occupational Safety and Health Administration

That harsh reality has manifested itself in tragic stories, while North Dakota workers feel that meetings and state court battles have done little to address their concerns. “It’s like I was just ignored,” said one injured worker, Tammy Kivley of Fargo, during a public comments hearing last year. The state’s worker compensation unit has drawn fire, paying less than $4,000 on average for each worker death, compared with the national average of about $15,000 according to the AFL-CIO report — which also found that it would take North Dakota’s seven safety and health inspectors more than a century to inspect each workplace across the 70,700-square-mile state.

 

That’s not to say nothing is being done, says Eric Brooks, the North Dakota area director for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Explosive oil growth in 2008 and a rash of retirements created “a perfect storm” for the agency. Yet 2012 was a turnaround year, Brooks says, forming new worker safety partnerships across North Dakota and Montana. “This year, we’re down to four fatalities,” he says. Still, he adds, “there is no acceptable number when it comes to the loss of life and injured people.”

But Brooks also believes that reports like the AFL-CIO’s don’t count transient workers coming from outside the state. Echoing a popular sentiment in the conservative state, Wade Boeshans, president of BNI Energy (which boasted zero work-related injuries last year), adds: “Working safely isn’t about rules, and it’s not about regulations. It’s about the way you start your day and what’s important to you. And what’s most important to us is that we all go home to our families intact.”  

How a Taxi Magnate Made the Cleveland Browns

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The Cleveland Yellow Cab Co., driven into the ground by Uber and other ride-hailing apps, is shutting its doors after decades of service to the Midwestern city dubbed America’s North Coast. The move signals a massive U-turn, considering that the firm owned for years by Arthur “Mickey” McBride — either the embodiment of the American Dream or a criminal with a veneer of legitimacy, depending on whom you ask — once monopolized Cleveland’s taxi service.

On May 25, 2017, Mickey’s grandson Brian McBride made the big announcement — one that should have been met with sorrow by Cleveland Browns fans, aka the Dawg Pound. Granddad McBride, after all, had not only driven to the top of the taxi game; he also launched the city’s famed football team.

Mickey arrived in Cleveland in 1913 to work as the circulation director for the Cleveland News. He had distinguished himself in his hometown of Chicago, first as a newsboy selling papers on street corners and then in circulation, a business where, as he told a Senate committee investigating organized crime, “You couldn’t be a weakling.” According to an FBI memo obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, “[McBride] directed the operations of strong-arm men in a bitter circulation war.”

I think [McBride] sensed it was an up-and-coming sport and a moneymaking opportunity.

John Grabowski

While never convicted of anything, McBride was dogged by allegations of organized crime, particularly with his ownership of a wire service that provided horse racing results — not illegal at the time but of great use to bookies and gangsters. “He wasn’t out doing illegal things himself,” says Cleveland mob historian Allan May. “He just knew the guys who were — many from his days at the News.”

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Arthur McBride testifying before the Kefauver Committee, a Senate committee on organized crime, in 1951.

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By 1930, McBride was making an estimated $15,000 a year working for the newspaper, but he quit to pursue his own interests, saying later, “Nobody ever got rich on a salary.” Even by then, he already had invested wisely enough in real estate that he didn’t have to work another day in his life. But in 1931, he bought a half-interest in the Zone Cab Company, one of several companies vying for fares in Cleveland, then the sixth biggest U.S. city. The Cleveland taxi war included strikes and fights that sometimes ended with cabs being set ablaze. McBride managed to buy the biggest cab company, Yellow Cab, in 1934, and order was soon restored to Cleveland’s streets. McBride’s taxi empire quickly spread to Akron and Canton.

The taxi magnate was indifferent to football until he went with his son Edward, a student at Notre Dame, to see the Fighting Irish play in 1940. He fell in love with the sport and decided he wanted a team in Cleveland. At the time, the Cleveland NFL team was the Rams. McBride offered owner Dan Reeves $105,000 for it, but the offer was rebuffed.

 

Four years later, in 1944, Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward — the man behind the first Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 1933 — started a new football league, the All-America Conference. McBride was interested in building a Cleveland franchise, as much out of civic pride as for profit. “A football team was cheaper to buy than a baseball team,” says John Grabowski, editor of the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. “I think he sensed it was an up-and-coming sport and a moneymaking opportunity.”

McBride was willing to spend the money, an estimated $300,000, before the first game was played, knowing it would bring the publicity a new team needed. “Cleveland has been good to me,” he said at the time. “I’ve made a great deal of money here. In return, I would like nothing more than to give the fans a team they can be proud of.” To that end, he asked a Plain Dealer sportswriter who the best football coach in America was — answer: Paul Brown — and hired him. He even bought a plane for West Coast travel and kept players who weren’t on the active roster — but Brown wanted nearby — on his cab company payroll, coining the term “taxi squad.”

As World War II ended, it looked like there would be two pro-football teams in Cleveland, the Rams and McBride’s, called the Browns after their coach. “McBride even made overtures to share Cleveland Stadium with the Rams,” says Jim Sulecki, author of a recent book on the Rams. But three weeks after the Rams won the NFL title, the team announced it was moving to Los Angeles and leaving Cleveland to McBride and the Browns.

The Rams had drawn a total of 73,000 fans in their four home games during that championship season, and more than 61,000 people came to the first Browns game in Cleveland. As coach, Brown essentially invented the modern game of professional football, coming up with concepts we now take for granted: the draw play, film study, speed testing for potential draft picks and the face mask. His team, in turn, ruled the All-America Conference, winning the league title in all four years of its existence, including an undefeated season in 1948. 

The team then became one of three All-America teams to move to the NFL in 1950, winning the title that first year in the league and thereby deepening the city’s love affair with the Browns.

The Peruvian Chef Daring to Serve Recycled Food — and End Hunger Nationwide

Palmiro Ocampo

I arrive at 1087 Restaurante at 8 p.m., ravenous after a week of hiking in the Andes. Palmiro Ocampo’s bistro in the swanky part of Lima is everything I expected of the tattooed young chef — hip, sophisticated, modern — but it’s also completely empty. If he can’t fill his restaurant on a Friday night, I wonder, how is he going to solve Peru’s hunger problem? But by the time I’m tucking into my broccoli pachikay (the third of nine courses on the tasting menu), there’s a heady buzz in the room. And when Ocampo finally arrives and I’m sizing up the Rescued Lemon (more on that later), there’s not a free table to be had.

Ocampo’s goals are ambitious but straightforward: Besides having “always a line outside” the year-old restaurant, he wants to achieve zero percent waste in his kitchen (he’s now at 25 percent; the global fine-dining norm is 65 percent) and plans to use his “culinary recycling” philosophy to eliminate extreme hunger in Peru by 2030. World Food Programme figures show 46 percent of Peruvian children under age 3 suffer from anemia due to malnourishment and 23 percent of the country’s population lives in poverty.

Malena Martinez — who heads Mater Iniciativa, the nonprofit foundation associated with Central, the Lima restaurant that holds the No. 1 spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for Latin America (compiled by 1,000 experts) — says Ocampo has set himself a very tall order, but she admires his drive. “Palmiro and his generation are the result of a newfound Peruvian pride that my peers didn’t have.”

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Palmiro Ocampo with inmates at the Santa Monica Women’s Prison in Lima preparing for a culinary recycling competition.

Source Courtesy of CCori/Facebook

Lima has three restaurants on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, placing it on par with New York and London. Peru’s culinary revolution, started in 1994 by restaurateur Gastón Acurio, finally gave Peruvians — long divided by language, culture and extreme topography — something to unite around, and it has gathered momentum faster than an Amazonian cloudburst.

Ocampo, now 34, was a student then, studying at the same prestigious but draconian military boarding school that Nobel Prize-winning author Mario Vargas Llosa parodied in The Time of the Hero. The canteen food hadn’t changed much since Vargas Llosa’s time, and young Ocampo saved his pocket money to dine at fancy restaurants — including Acurio’s Astrid y Gastón.

While his Cordon Bleu classmates obsessed over their precision cuts, Ocampo fixated on the astonishing waste.

Later, having followed in his physician father’s footsteps, he decided to abandon medical school to enroll at Le Cordon Bleu in Lima. His culinary training continued at Hofmann in Barcelona before further on-the-job learning in the kitchens of Noma and El Celler de Can Roca. His résumé is impressive (Anthony Castro, the sous chef at 1087, says Ocampo runs his kitchen like a military operation), but it’s not the finely honed techniques that distinguish him from his peers. Rather, while his Cordon Bleu classmates obsessed over their precision cuts, Ocampo fixated on the astonishing waste they produced. Ten years later, when he returned to the same institution as an instructor, he showed the students how to turn leftovers into restaurant-worthy dishes — and his life’s purpose took shape.

 

“This guy over here,” he says, pointing to my eighth course, “is Rescued Lemon,” a composition of confited lemon skins filled with yucca ice cream, made from the leftovers of Peru’s most popular culinary exports: ceviche and pisco sours. As I take a bite, Ocampo preempts my next question about his mission: “My work is to make a bridge between this fancyfood” — collapsing the two words into one — “and what I do at CCori,” the social research and development organization he runs with his wife. He promotes his anti-waste project to anyone who will listen — media, restaurant guests, fellow chefs — and by plowing the profits from the 10 recycled dishes on his menu back into CCori. So far he has teamed up with chefs at five homeless shelters in Peru to transform how they prepare food, helping one shelter to reduce its monthly food costs by 67 percent. With funding pledged by Peru’s government, local businesses and organizations like the World Wildlife Fund, CCori is thriving.

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The chef leading a monthly culinary recycling brainstorming session with his kitchen staff at 1087.

Source Courtesy of CCori/Facebook

Samantha Lewis, owner of the Lima Gourmet Company, which offers local food tours and classes, says the “fancyfood” part of Ocampo’s equation is in fine health. She describes his menu for 1087 as “playful, innovative and daring” and commends Ocampo for taking risks, even if they result “in hits as well as some misses.” She’s betting on Ocampo winning plaudits and awards — not just in Lima, but on a global scale.

But what about his other goal? Can the visionary chef eliminate hunger in Peru by 2030? Martinez is more keenly aware of the hurdles than most. “Feeding 240,000 malnourished kids will require more than the work of one cook,” she says. It demands government engagement on national, regional and local levels and across several agencies. Not to mention the challenge of persuading communities rooted in tradition to modify their diets and cooking habits.

Ocampo acknowledges that “eliminating hunger will be very, very difficult,” but he has an ace up his sleeve. Later this year, the first episode of Cocina con Causa (Cooking With a Cause) will air nationally in Peru. By teaching viewers how to use food scraps and leftovers so nothing goes to waste, Ocampo sees the series as his biggest opportunity yet to put nutritious, delicious and affordable meals within reach of all Peruvians. Martinez is surprised when I mention the prime-time TV program. “What a brilliant idea! That’s the kind of drive I’m talking about,” she says.

Another brilliant idea: Ocampo tells me the greatest obstacle to achieving zero percent waste at 1087 is the food left uneaten by diners that he can’t recycle. So, together with his friends at waste management initiative Sinba (short for sin basura or ‘without waste’), he’s planning to feed these scraps to pigs, which will in turn be slaughtered and served in his restaurant. Let’s call it a fork to farm movement …

* Correction: Mention of the Sinba initiative has been added to this feature.

You Haven’t Danced Till You’ve Salsa’d in Colombia

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It’s a true step back in time. At El Chorrito Antillano, the fashion and decor are reminiscent of the 1960s and ’70s — salsa’s heyday. Here, a gigantic embroidered tiger-on-a-shirt dances with teal blue tights. Carlos Arturo Quiñones, a regular salsero, alone and a bit tipsy, doesn’t hold back. He grabs a cowbell from the bar and sinks into “Sonido Bestial” with the confidence of a matador. He knows everyone and dances with anyone. On a Sunday night around 9:30 p.m., you’d never believe he’s 67 years old. “This is my pregame,” he tells me, plopping down on a stool and wiping the sweat off his brow.

Welcome to Cali, Colombia

This is what la vida salsera looks like in what many consider to be salsa’s capital. What makes salsa so cool here? The music that hasn’t yet been beaten down by time. The older folks revel in its nostalgia. The young are reviving it. And with a budget of about $40 per person, this list, Cali and the night is all you need.

Arrebato Caleño Salsa School

Want a few hours of salsa lessons before you get into it? Start here and learn the paso Caleño with instructor Alejandra Tovar and her team of salseros. Arrebato is nestled up in the heights of Cali’s colonial San Antonio district. The school will help you out with getting around the city and finding the rest of these spots, too. Personalized classes range from $10 to $20 per hour, and group classes are available. 

The chromed-out bar tables make you feel like you’re zooming through an episode of The Jetsons.

El Chorrito Antillano

Let’s get real. Quiñones’ joint is for those who enjoy the old school. But you can’t beat the chromed-out bar tables that make you feel like you’re zooming through an episode of The Jetsons. Like manager Luis Carlos Paredes says, “This is a place of nostalgia, of memories … the place where you come to listen to vinyl classics and remember that first girl you met.” Yup, at El Chorrito Antillano, 72-year-old disc jockey Wilson Gomez still spins vinyl from the 1960s and ’70s. The neighborhood might feel a bit sketchy, but don’t worry; the joint itself is safe, and plenty of cabs are always waiting outside to take you home.  

 

La Topa Tolondra

If you’re into a younger, more hip crowd, look no further than this hole-in-the-wall. La Topa Tolondra is a more experimental scene, without the hardcore traditionalism of El Chorrito. But it’s a small space and gets packed on Fridays and Saturdays. Note their Cool Monday option, a place for practicing your Spanish and “cultural exchange” before the week ramps up. If you want to watch the serious dancers show off their moves, go hit it up on Wednesdays.

 

Zaperoco

If Topa is jam-packed or you just want the night to keep rolling, the party here on Saturday night peaks at 1 a.m. Don’t be surprised if someone asks you to indulge in a shot of national rum and melt into their party. The cover of $5 per person gets waived on Thursdays. New to all this? Here’s a tip: There’s really only one way to sit at the rickety, wooden stools at a true salsa bar like Zaperoco. You stand up. You forget that cramped table in the corner. And baby, you move! And don’t fear that stranger who pulls you up out of your chair to dance. This is Cali! It’s what you do!

Cali’s Salsa Bars: Where to Find Them

Van Jones on Why ‘Occupy Silicon Valley’ Could Be Next

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On Election Night 2016, CNN commentator Van Jones went viral with his emotional “How do I explain this to my children?” monologue about Donald Trump. The activist and social entrepreneur — who has his own share of political scars — says the 45th U.S. commander-in-chief represents a new threat to the values he holds dear. He also maintains that “both parties suck” in dealing with modern challenges.

After participating in a panel discussion at OZY Fest in Central Park on July 22, Jones sat down with OZY to talk about the future of politics, media and artificial intelligence. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

I think both parties suck. I’ve said that repeatedly.

Van Jones

What political trend do you think is about to blow up?

It’s the robots. I’m telling you, automation is coming. Artificial intelligence — drones, smart screens, all these different things are going to be taking jobs away from humans for a long time. In the long run, will humans come up with something else to do with ourselves? Yes! But right now we’re talking about massive disruption. So [we have had] Occupy Wall Street. We don’t have Occupy Silicon Valley. Everybody’s saying how D.C. is terrible. But nobody’s challenging what Silicon Valley is doing or, more importantly, partnering with Silicon Valley to make sure that, as we make this transition into the digital age, we don’t leave billions of people behind.

What can the government do to tackle that?

We should be doing some of the basic stuff on infrastructure, education. The criminal justice system is a disaster. But talking about what’s coming down the road with a billion — that’s billion with a B — jobs getting wiped out by new technologies, you’ve got to really start training people to understand coding, to understand robotics. I work with the Dream Corps. We have a program called #YesWeCode, trying to teach coding in urban areas, especially to youths.

You’re also probably going to have to do something on the social safety net side. There are going to be a lot of people knocked out of work — not because they are lazy, not because they aren’t hardworking, not because they aren’t educated, but because a robot can do it better, or a piece of artificial intelligence can do it faster. So what do you do with those people? Do those people become homeless and live under bridges? Or do we figure out some way to have a more generous social safety net — tax the people who are becoming gazillionaires — and use that money to cushion the blow?

 

Does CNN bear any blame for the feud between the president and the network?

No, CNN is doing what CNN has always done. [It] asks questions and reports the news. If you don’t like questions and you don’t like the real news, you may not like CNN. Apparently, Donald Trump doesn’t like questions and doesn’t like real news. But what president has ever been investigated by the FBI and that wasn’t news?

In this climate, do you have concerns for your safety?

No. Anything can happen to anybody at any time, but I think most people see me as as straight a shooter as possible. I think both parties suck. I’ve said that repeatedly. I think the Republicans need to deal with some of the bigotry they’ve allowed to accumulate in their party. There’s no way the party of Lincoln should be the party of [White House chief strategist] Steve Bannon. That’s a problem in their party. The Democrats need to deal with some of the elitism that’s built up in our party. If you don’t listen to NPR and eat kale, we don’t want you. There’s something wrong with that. Both parties have to look in the mirror.

You’ve talked about countering Trump with a “Love Army.” Is the resistance living up to that?

I don’t think we have enough love. I keep hearing people say, “Love trumps hate.” You don’t look too loving. I don’t hear too much love in there. So I think Trump is worse than the most hysterical liberals think he is. I think if we have a major terrorist attack in the United States, Trump would go for full-on autocratic [rule]. I don’t see anything in him that would stop him from going for a full power grab if he had the opportunity. And I think Trump’s voters — a lot of them — are much better than people know. People who voted for Trump don’t agree with him on everything, just like people who voted for Hillary Clinton don’t agree with her on everything. So I think we’ve got to get back to a place where we recognize, yeah, be tough on the politician, but don’t be tough on the people.

Video by Kevin O’Dowd.

She’s Fighting to Empower Saudi Women Through Sports

Lina Khaled Al-Maeena

It was a good week. On July 11 — a decade and a half into Lina Al Maeena’s fight for women’s sports in Saudi Arabia — the Education Ministry announced that physical education classes in public schools will begin this fall. “It’s a big, big deal,” Al Maeena tells OZY. “It’s like your Title IX,” she adds, referring to the 1972 federal law prohibiting U.S. high schools and colleges from discriminating on the basis of gender in any activity, including sports.

When Al Maeena founded Jeddah United (JU), Saudi Arabia’s first private female basketball club, in 2003, the government did not license female gyms or clubs, and only a few elite private schools offered sports for girls. The team’s players faced backlash from disapproving family members to texted threats and harassment by the religious police, Saudi Arabia’s official enforcers of strict social mores. But today, after a long campaign to change attitudes toward women’s athletics, the Saudi government has written them into Vision 2030, its new economic development plan to improve infrastructure, encourage community sports and support elite competitors.

At the center of that shift is Al Maeena, whose strategy has been to rally the community before pushing for tectonic change. Armed with data supporting the link between sports and physical health, public piety and social values such as hard work and commitment, she looks at critics and sees potential allies. It’s a blueprint for progress — gradual, grassroots and doggedly persistent — that has inspired would-be activists for a range of women’s rights causes such as lifting prohibitions on driving and gender mixing.

Lina AlMaeena

Al Maeena stands with members of the Jeddah United team.

Source Mona Alzubair

“She has pushed the envelope for girls and women in sports, health and exercise, while simultaneously staying within the parameters of Saudi society,” says Deborah Packwood, an international sports consultant who has worked with JU.

When her quest began, Al Maeena was among very few Saudi women to grow up exercising. She played basketball at family gatherings and took PE classes at her private school. Her interest in sports continued at the University of New Mexico and George Mason University, where she played pickup games while studying communications and psychology.

Her experience was in large part the result of having parents, both well-known Saudi journalists, who believed their daughter should enjoy the same opportunities as their sons. In Saudi Arabia, a kingdom founded by the Al Saud family, who forged an alliance with the conservative religious establishment, women are still legal minors, requiring the consent of a male relative to travel, work and study. They cannot drive, and schools are gender segregated.

Conservative clerics urged followers to “protect” their daughters, wives and sisters from athletics. 

The country has modernized since its founding in 1932, but sports remain a source of conflict. Religious scholars have long argued that sports threaten a woman’s true nature, and if she competes against other women, she may someday compete against men — risking the cardinal sin of gender mixing.

When Al Maeena returned home after college in 2000, female sports were essentially prohibited. She married and welcomed her first child, triggering an episode of postpartum depression. “Why don’t you play basketball?” she recalls her husband suggesting. So she called her former school teammates and set up a game. “I felt better after an hour and a half. It’s a magical effect,” she says. She then determined to make it her mission to provide a similar outlet for other women.

 

Al Maeena launched Jeddah United in 2003 and recruited friends to join the team. Some families were incredulous, asking how they’d find a safe practice space — away from men and the religious police. They played in private facilities and only with other women. 

When she decided to expand from a single team to a training academy in 2006, Saudi’s General Authority for Sport didn’t license women’s clubs. So Al Maeena registered as a business with the Ministry of Commerce — just one example of how Saudi women have poked holes in a system seeking to circumscribe their lives.

JU grew quietly until 2009, when the team traveled to Jordan for a game broadcast on Saudi cable station Al Arabiya. After the match, newspapers published cover stories filled with outrage and decrying moral decline. Conservative clerics urged followers to “protect” their daughters, wives and sisters from athletics. “Do not distort the honor and reputation of Saudi women,” exhorted one of many online commentators.

The experience told Al Maeena she needed to focus her energy on the community as much as the team. So JU took to social media and gave interviews to communicate a simple message: Sport builds character and improves wellbeing, in line with Islamic values. Over time, and by going to great lengths to allay community concerns, JU found itself embraced. Bandar Ashrour, whose twin sisters were among the first to join the team, says the club’s sensitive approach “was comforting for us, to know that they were going to play in a contained environment.”

In 2012, Saudi Arabia sent its first-ever female athletes to the Summer Olympics. A year later, then–King Abdullah appointed the first women to the country’s advisory parliament. And for the first time, JU’s challenges were more logistical — finding enough female referees and coaches — than cultural.

At an outdoor practice in Jeddah, parents of young players gather along the sidelines. “I am thinking about joining myself,” one mother tells OZY as she watches her 8- and 10-year-old play. “I’ve noticed my daughter is trying more at school.” 

With Vision 2030, the Saudi government has committed to elevating the status of sports in the kingdom — and boosting physical activity among men and women alike. “It feels very validating,” Al Maeena says. Last December, King Salman appointed Al Maeena to the Shura Council, charged with advising the cabinet on legislation, where she continues to trumpet the importance of playing sports. Looking ahead, she says implementation will be the primary challenge: training enough female coaches, sports managers and athletes to raise generations of active girls.

But when it comes to meeting that challenge, Al Maeena will be ready. She has, after all, spent her life making the case.

The Secret Adventures of a Beer Brewing Expert

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In this occasional series, OZY takes to streets and neighborhoods across the globe to ask a simple question: “How was your day?”

Jan-Maarten Geertman
Zoeterwoude, the Netherlands

This morning I rode my bike to work for an early meeting at the brewery and missed breakfast, so I guess you could say I had beer for breakfast. Which is perfectly acceptable — I’m the product and process research manager at Heineken, or better yet, the brewery’s yeast expert. Yes, that’s a thing. In a nutshell, I study and experiment with yeast and the role it plays in the brewing process and the creation of new beers.

The pilot laboratory where I work is an offshoot of the main brewery in Zoeterwoude, just outside of Amsterdam. The main brewery is where most of our beer is brewed and then shipped to some of the 192 countries where roughly 25 million Heinekens are served each day.

The pilot lab is a pretty essential part of the company’s innovation and research departments. It’s where we brew our innovation prototypes; because everything is top secret, we give them cool code names like “Pioneer” and “Gotham.” Any day spent in the lab instead of behind my desk is an exciting day, and today was all about developing recipes for a series of wild lager brews — beer made using yeast directly from the wild, a beech forest in Patagonia, to be precise — as part of our Lager Exploration series.

Without yeast scientists like me, there’d be no beer. Can you imagine?

In the lab, I spend my days doing different experiments in developing new beers for the series. The lab is outfitted with a bunch of brewery equipment that lets our team make pretty much any kind of beer we could possibly dream of. I’m a scientist, so I tend to use more technical language, but in this case, I’ll just say that the possibilities here are endless — and that’s one of the things that makes my job exciting.

Most beers are made with a few basic ingredients. For us, we stick to the basics: water, barley and hops. Most beer lovers know that yeast, while not a main ingredient in Heineken, is a crucial catalyst in brewing that converts sugar into alcohol through a process called fermentation, and it plays a huge role in the flavor of any brew. Without yeast scientists like me, there’d be no beer. Can you imagine?

 

Before Heineken, my studies on yeast brought me to Ottawa, Ontario, where I led a team of yeast experts at Iogen Corp., redesigning and engineering yeast to enable it to make bioethanol from agricultural waste like corn stover and wheat straw. But when Heineken’s global master brewer, Willem van Waesberghe, called seven years ago with an offer to join the company as a senior scientist in yeast and fermentation, I jumped at the opportunity. Who could say no to working for one of the world’s largest brewers?

These wild lagers, though, are tricky because of the yeast — it was only recently found in nature, so [it] has never experienced life inside of a brewery fermentation vessel. Wild yeast is difficult to tame, but with our team of fermentation engineers, scientists, operators and product developers, we created the perfect brewing conditions for our new category. This has been the highlight — and probably the most challenging — of how I spend my time here. 

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Jan-Maarten Geertman’s magic.

Source Courtesy of Heineken

Today’s task was specifically to design the recipe that will let the wild yeast develop the flavors that characterize a wild lager. The first in the Lager Exploration series — we call it H41 — has a fuller taste, spicy with subtle fruity hints, than the traditional Heineken lager. This is when things get complicated and my years of training are put to the test. I must think through every possible variable: How much yeast should be applied? What fermentation temperature profile should be used? How much aeration is optimal? Which ingredients should we use? What are the best bottling conditions for this specific brew?

These questions may seem like minutiae, but it takes 28 days to brew a Heineken lager — twice as long as other lagers — so a mistake could set us back a month or more. There’s a lot of human resources that go into each experiment. Our fermentation engineer knows the ins and outs of our equipment and scaling the pilot — he’s the guy that makes sure we can reproduce our experiment brews in a real brewery. The product developer ensures that the recipe is made according to the right commercial specifications, like ABV. The operators are the ones who actually run the brews, adding the malts, the hops and the yeast to the process. And they’re who will eventually harvest the yeast and bottle the brew when it’s ready.

On days like today, when we gather in the pilot lab, the pivotal thought on everyone’s minds is that we are creating something that will give beer drinkers a new experience unlike what they’ve tasted before. And that’s something we’re extremely proud of. So, cheers to that.

Why More and More High Schools Are Acting Like Startups

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A railroad bridge had become a rusty eyesore in Marion, Iowa, and a local firm was on the hunt for a new design. So Martin Gardner Architecture turned to high school students. A group of budding architects from Iowa BIG, which brings in students from seven Cedar Rapids area high schools to spend part of their day on intensive, real-world projects, designed a new bridge and presented the proposal to the city council, which is still considering multiple designs.

The juniors and seniors who participate in what Troy Miller, BIG’s director of strategic partnerships, calls the program’s “community crowdsourced” curriculum report more confidence in their communications and real-world problem-solving abilities. The 2-year-old program is one of a growing number across the country embracing a startup mentality as schools try to build a bridge to the careers of the future. More and more administrators have “innovation” in their job titles. At Education Reimagined, a Washington-based think tank, the term “student” is out and “learner” is in to describe a never-ending process. Businesses large and small are getting involved as partners.

College isn’t the end goal.

 Stephen Spahn, chancellor, Dwight School

“Once we have an education system that supports adaptive, flexible learning spaces and places, we think it will spread like wildfire,” says Kelly Young of Education Reimagined, who notes that the past three years have seen huge growth in such environments. “It’s a matter of letting go [of] how we’ve done things and inventing the next generation of systems that recognize kids don’t need standardized education. They need flexible and adaptable education.”

A flexible model can conflict with measuring students based on standardized tests, and testing’s defenders say there’s no better way to measure students’ progress compared with a wide range of peers. “The jobs of the future aren’t going to be filling in bubble tests, but they do require reading and math skills,” says Chad Aldeman, principal at Bellwether Education Partners and a former U.S. Department of Education official.

 

Young says job titles and mission statements about innovation are a lot more common than the real thing. The most successful ones do more than get tablet computers in the classroom — they rethink instruction altogether. Nick Polyak, the superintendent of Leyden High Schools in Franklin Park, Illinois, took the board’s insertion of “innovation” into the district mission statement as license to take risks. Ninety percent of all tech-support tasks are now handled by high schoolers, he says. Students are encouraged to develop business plans for startups and use school facilities to videoconference with mentors in the business world. Polyak says it’s all being done with existing funds at a place where more than half of the students are from low-income households. Help often comes from the corporate world: Sprint, for example, is providing Wi-Fi hot spots for students who don’t have internet access at home.

The corporate influence has proved to be controversial. More than half of the nation’s schoolchildren now use Google in the classroom, from Gmail to Google Docs to Chromebooks. But from Chicago to Mississippi, lawyers and parents have raised concerns about how much data the search giant is mining from minors. Yet input from business can help educators build a creative and adaptable workforce. The most successful models, Young says, involve local businesses.

As part of the digital consortium of the AASA, the association of the nation’s public school superintendents, Polyak travels the country to learn from other innovative schools — still a rare find. There are “very, very limited public school examples of the startup,” he says. One of Polyak’s favorites is STREAM School, in Hamilton, Michigan, where seventh-graders spend half of their day outside the classroom, learning in nature.

The Dwight School in New York City made its name as an elite preparatory school for Harvard and Yale. Today, Chancellor Stephen Spahn is more worried about life prep. He’s in the process of hiring a chief innovation officer; and in late 2015, he launched a program called Spark Tank, in which students take an idea all the way from the sketch pad to the marketplace. “My view is when they walk out of high school, they should be able to walk into almost any industry in the world and be a productive member of any team,” Spahn says. “College isn’t the end goal.”

 

The biggest question is whether that mindset can work at scale. In Dallas, Billy Snow arrived this year as the chief of transformation and innovation for a district of 157,000 students, where he oversees the creation of new “transformation schools” and the reinvention of existing schools. The startups are not unlike charter schools, which have also grown in the Dallas area and are outside the school district’s jurisdiction. About 30,000 kids in the area attend charters, and another 50,000 attend private schools. Snow says the biggest task for the public school system in competing with charters is marketing, particularly in the southwestern part of the city where charters have blossomed. “There is a story they’re telling that is attractive to parents,” he says of charters.

So Snow is touting charter-like schools popping up across the district at a clip of about one per year. New school applicants can specialize in a foreign language, entrepreneurship or single-gender education, for example. This fall in a downtown high-rise, 100 students will begin at a high school with an architecture and urban planning focus. Students enter a lottery to attend the specialty schools, or they can attend neighborhood schools — which Snow says are starting to innovate as well. His job involves “being very creative and very much focused on giving kids the best product,” he says, sounding as much like an app creator as an educator.