Adonis Diaries

Archive for February 25th, 2016

Military checkpoint recreated at Cambridge University for ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’

An Israeli military checkpoint was recreated at the University of Cambridge on Monday, as part of Israeli Apartheid Week 2016.

Adonis Bouhatab shared a link.

The Cambridge University Palestine Society, along with various students, artists and activists, established the mock checkpoint in the centre of the university’s Sidgwick lecture site.

According to a statement by the Palestine Society, the aim was “to show a glimpse of what it is really like to live under an apartheid regime.” The statement continued:

Read: 68% of Palestinian deaths resulting from recent violence occurred at checkpoints

PalSoc stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their struggle, and in doing so, we answer the call of Palestinian civil society to engage in a non-violent campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions until Israel complies with its obligations under international law.

At the end of 2015, according to the UN, there were 543 obstacles to Palestinian freedom of movement in the Occupied West Bank.

Israel’s Separation Wall, (or wall of Shame) illegal as per the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, is a further tool of colonisation and fragmentation.

Also read: 20% increase in Israeli checkpoints, roadblocks across the West Bank

Israeli Apartheid Week is a series of global events seeking to raise awareness of Israel’s ongoing human rights violations and apartheid policies against the Palestinian people.

Photo credit- University of Cambridge Palestine Society.

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40 Words For Emotions You’ve Felt, But Couldn’t Explain

Brianna Wiest. February 16, 2016

Exulansis: when there’s not an actual word for what you’re trying to explain.
We feel more than we have the language to articulate and express, which is in itself profoundly frustrating.
People work through emotions by being able to identify them and use them as signals. A lot of the time, we’re left in the dark.
Enter the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, the brainchild of writer John Koenig, who is here to give you words for the feelings you may not have even known you were having. Here are 40 of them:

Onism

n. the awareness of how little of the world you’ll experience.

Imagine standing in front of the departures screen at an airport, flickering over with strange place names like other people’s passwords, each representing one more thing you’ll never get to see before you die—and all because, as the arrow on the map helpfully points out, you are here.

Mal de Coucou

n. a phenomenon in which you have an active social life but very few close friends—people who you can trust, who you can be yourself with, who can help flush out the weird psychological toxins that tend to accumulate over time—which is a form of acute social malnutrition in which even if you devour an entire buffet of chitchat, you’ll still feel pangs of hunger.

Sonder

n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

Hanker Sore

adj. finding a person so attractive it actually kinda pisses you off.

Chrysalism

n. the amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm, listening to waves of rain pattering against the roof like an argument upstairs, whose muffled words are unintelligible but whose crackling release of built-up tension you understand perfectly.

Altschmerz

n. weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had—the same boring flaws and anxieties you’ve been gnawing on for years, which leaves them soggy and tasteless and inert, with nothing interesting left to think about, nothing left to do but spit them out and wander off to the backyard, ready to dig up some fresher pain you might have buried long ago.

Occhiolism

n. the awareness of the smallness of your perspective, by which you couldn’t possibly draw any meaningful conclusions at all, about the world or the past or the complexities of culture, because although your life is an epic and unrepeatable anecdote, it still only has a sample size of one, and may end up being the control for a much wilder experiment happening in the next room.

Ambedo

n. a kind of melancholic trance in which you become completely absorbed in vivid sensory details—raindrops skittering down a window, tall trees leaning in the wind, clouds of cream swirling in your coffee—briefly soaking in the experience of being alive, an act that is done purely for its own sake.

Nodus Tollens

n. the realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore—that although you thought you were following the arc of the story, you keep finding yourself immersed in passages you don’t understand, that don’t even seem to belong in the same genre—which requires you to go back and reread the chapters you had originally skimmed to get to the good parts, only to learn that all along you were supposed to choose your own adventure.

Liberosis

n. the desire to care less about things—to loosen your grip on your life, to stop glancing behind you every few steps, afraid that someone will snatch it from you before you reach the end zone—rather to hold your life loosely and playfully, like a volleyball, keeping it in the air, with only quick fleeting interventions, bouncing freely in the hands of trusted friends, always in play.

Vemödalen

n. the frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist—the same sunset, the same waterfall, the same curve of a hip, the same closeup of an eye—which can turn a unique subject into something hollow and pulpy and cheap, like a mass-produced piece of furniture you happen to have assembled yourself

Kairosclerosis

n. the moment you realize that you’re currently happy—consciously trying to savor the feeling—which prompts your intellect to identify it, pick it apart and put it in context, where it will slowly dissolve until it’s little more than an aftertaste.

Vellichor

n. the strange wistfulness of used bookstores, which are somehow infused with the passage of time—filled with thousands of old books you’ll never have time to read, each of which is itself locked in its own era, bound and dated and papered over like an old room the author abandoned years ago, a hidden annex littered with thoughts left just as they were on the day they were captured.

Rückkehrunruhe

n. the feeling of returning home after an immersive trip only to find it fading rapidly from your awareness—to the extent you have to keep reminding yourself that it happened at all, even though it felt so vivid just days ago—which makes you wish you could smoothly cross-dissolve back into everyday life, or just hold the shutter open indefinitely and let one scene become superimposed on the next, so all your days would run together and you’d never have to call cut.

Nighthawk

n. a recurring thought that only seems to strike you late at night—an overdue task, a nagging guilt, a looming and shapeless future—that circles high overhead during the day, that pecks at the back of your mind while you try to sleep, that you can successfully ignore for weeks, only to feel its presence hovering outside the window, waiting for you to finish your coffee, passing the time by quietly building a nest.

Dead Reckoning

n. to find yourself bothered by someone’s death more than you would have expected, as if you assumed they would always be part of the landscape, like a lighthouse you could pass by for years until the night it suddenly goes dark, leaving you with one less landmark to navigate by—still able to find your bearings, but feeling all that much more adrift.

Pâro

n. the feeling that no matter what you do is always somehow wrong—that any attempt to make your way comfortably through the world will only end up crossing some invisible taboo—as if there’s some obvious way forward that everybody else can see but you, each of them leaning back in their chair and calling out helpfully, colder, colder, colder.

Midsummer

n. a feast celebrated on the day of your 26th birthday, which marks the point at which your youth finally expires as a valid excuse—when you must begin harvesting your crops, even if they’ve barely taken root—and the point at which the days will begin to feel shorter as they pass, until even the pollen in the air reminds you of the coming snow.

Adronitis

n. frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone—spending the first few weeks chatting in their psychological entryway, with each subsequent conversation like entering a different anteroom, each a little closer to the center of the house—wishing instead that you could start there and work your way out, exchanging your deepest secrets first, before easing into casualness, until you’ve built up enough mystery over the years to ask them where they’re from, and what they do for a living.

Rigor Samsa

n. a kind of psychological exoskeleton that can protect you from pain and contain your anxieties, but always ends up cracking under pressure or hollowed out by time—and will keep growing back again and again, until you develop a more sophisticated emotional structure, held up by a strong and flexible spine, built less like a fortress than a cluster of treehouses.

Silience

n. the kind of unnoticed excellence that carries on around you every day, unremarkably—the hidden talents of friends and coworkers, the fleeting solos of subway buskers, the slapdash eloquence of anonymous users, the unseen portfolios of aspiring artists—which would be renowned as masterpieces if only they’d been appraised by the cartel of popular taste, who assume that brilliance is a rare and precious quality, accidentally overlooking buried jewels that may not be flawless but are still somehow perfect.

Fitzcarraldo

n. an image that somehow becomes lodged deep in your brain—maybe washed there by a dream, or smuggled inside a book, or planted during a casual conversation—which then grows into a wild and impractical vision that keeps scrambling back and forth in your head like a dog stuck in a car that’s about to arrive home, just itching for a chance to leap headlong into reality.

Keyframe

n. a moment that seemed innocuous at the time but ended up marking a diversion into a strange new era of your life—set in motion not by a series of jolting epiphanies but by tiny imperceptible differences between one ordinary day and the next, until entire years of your memory can be compressed into a handful of indelible images—which prevents you from rewinding the past, but allows you to move forward without endless buffering.

Gnossienne

n. a moment of awareness that someone you’ve known for years still has a private and mysterious inner life, and somewhere in the hallways of their personality is a door locked from the inside, a stairway leading to a wing of the house that you’ve never fully explored—an unfinished attic that will remain maddeningly unknowable to you, because ultimately neither of you has a map, or a master key, or any way of knowing exactly where you stand.

Anecdoche

n. a conversation in which everyone is talking but nobody is listening, simply overlaying disconnected words like a game of Scrabble, with each player borrowing bits of other anecdotes as a way to increase their own score, until we all run out of things to say.

Catoptric Tristesse

n. the sadness that you’ll never really know what other people think of you, whether good, bad or if at all—that although we reflect on each other with the sharpness of a mirror, the true picture of how we’re coming off somehow reaches us softened and distorted, as if each mirror was preoccupied with twisting around, desperately trying to look itself in the eye.

Anemoia

n. nostalgia for a time you’ve never known. Imagine stepping through the frame into a sepia-tinted haze, where you could sit on the side of the road and watch the locals passing by. Who lived and died before any of us arrived here, who sleep in some of the same houses we do, who look up at the same moon, who breathe the same air, feel the same blood in their veins—and live in a completely different world.

Mimeomia

n. the frustration of knowing how easily you fit into a stereotype, even if you never intended to, even if it’s unfair, even if everyone else feels the same way—each of us trick-or-treating for money and respect and attention, wearing a safe and predictable costume because we’re tired of answering the question, “What are you supposed to be?”

Monachopsis

n. the subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place, as maladapted to your surroundings as a seal on a beach—lumbering, clumsy, easily distracted, huddled in the company of other misfits, unable to recognize the ambient roar of your intended habitat, in which you’d be fluidly, brilliantly, effortlessly at home.

Semaphorism

n. a conversational hint that you have something personal to say on the subject but don’t go any further—an emphatic nod, a half-told anecdote, an enigmatic ‘I know the feeling’—which you place into conversations like those little flags that warn diggers of something buried underground: maybe a cable that secretly powers your house, maybe a fiberoptic link to some foreign country.

Énouement

n. the bittersweetness of having arrived here in the future, where you can finally get the answers to how things turn out in the real world—who your baby sister would become, what your friends would end up doing, where your choices would lead you, exactly when you’d lose the people you took for granted—which is priceless intel that you instinctively want to share with anybody who hadn’t already made the journey, as if there was some part of you who had volunteered to stay behind, who was still stationed at a forgotten outpost somewhere in the past, still eagerly awaiting news from the front.

Daguerreologue

n. an imaginary interview with an old photo of yourself, an enigmatic figure who still lives in the grainy and color-warped house you grew up in, who may well spend a lot of their day wondering where you are and what you’re doing now, like an old grandma whose kids live far away and don’t call much anymore.

Fata Organa

n. a flash of real emotion glimpsed in someone sitting across the room, idly locked in the middle of some group conversation, their eyes glinting with vulnerability or quiet anticipation or cosmic boredom—as if you could see backstage through a gap in the curtains, watching stagehands holding their ropes at the ready, actors in costume mouthing their lines, fragments of bizarre sets waiting for some other production.

Avenoir

n. the desire that memory could flow backward. We take it for granted that life moves forward. But you move as a rower moves, facing backwards: you can see where you’ve been, but not where you’re going. And your boat is steered by a younger version of you. It’s hard not to wonder what life would be like facing the other way…

Kenopsia

n. the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet—a school hallway in the evening, an unlit office on a weekend, vacant fairgrounds—an emotional afterimage that makes it seem not just empty but hyper-empty, with a total population in the negative, who are so conspicuously absent they glow like neon signs.

The Tilt Shift

n. a phenomenon in which your lived experience seems oddly inconsequential once you put it down on paper, which turns an epic tragicomedy into a sequence of figures on a model train set, assembled in their tiny classrooms and workplaces, wandering along their own cautious and well-trodden paths—peaceable, generic and out of focus.

Jouska

n. a hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head—a crisp analysis, a cathartic dialogue, a devastating comeback—which serves as a kind of psychological batting cage where you can connect more deeply with people than in the small ball of everyday life, which is a frustratingly cautious game of change-up pitches, sacrifice bunts, and intentional walks.

Ecstatic Shock

n. the surge of energy upon catching a glance from someone you like—a thrill that starts in your stomach, arcs up through your lungs and flashes into a spontaneous smile—which scrambles your ungrounded circuits and tempts you to chase that feeling with a kite and a key.

Heartworm

n. a relationship or friendship that you can’t get out of your head, which you thought had faded long ago but is still somehow alive and unfinished, like an abandoned campsite whose smoldering embers still have the power to start a forest fire.

Xeno

n. the smallest measurable unit of human connection, typically exchanged between passing strangers—a flirtatious glance, a sympathetic nod, a shared laugh about some odd coincidence—moments that are fleeting and random but still contain powerful emotional nutrients that can alleviate the symptoms of feeling alone

Emails Show Hillary Clinton Aides Celebrating F-15 Sales to Saudi Arabia: “Good News”

Lee Fang. Feb. 22 2016

The shockingly brutal Saudi air campaign in Yemen has been led by American-made F-15 jet fighters.

The indiscriminate bombing of civilians and rescuers from the air has prompted human rights organizations to claim that some Saudi-led strikes on Yemen may amount to war crimes.

At least 2,800 civilians have been killed in the conflict so far, according to the United Nations — mostly by airstrikes. The strikes have killed journalists and ambulance drivers.

The planes, made by Boeing, have been implicated in the bombing of three facilities supported by Doctors Without Borders (Médicins Sans Frontières).

The U.N. Secretary General has decried “intense airstrikes in residential areas and on civilian buildings in Sanaa, including the chamber of commerce, a wedding hall, and a center for the blind,” and has warned that reports of cluster bombs being used in populated areas “may amount to a war crime due to their indiscriminate nature.”

Bombs dropped by fighter jets are pulverizing Yemen’s architectural history, possibly in violation of international humanitarian law.

A few years earlier, as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton made weapons transfer to the Saudi government a “top priority,” according to her closest military aide.

And now, newly released emails show that her aides kept her well-informed of the approval process for a $29.4 billion sale in 2011 of up to 84 advanced F-15SA fighters, manufactured by Boeing, along with upgrades to the pre-existing Saudi fleet of 70 F-15 aircraft and munitions, spare parts, training, maintenance, and logistics.

The deal was finalized on Christmas Eve 2011. Afterward, Jake Sullivan, then Clinton’s deputy chief of staff and now a senior policy adviser on her presidential campaign, sent her a celebratory email string topped with the chipper message: “FYI — good news.”

The email string was part of a new batch of emails from Clinton’s private server, made public on Friday evening as the result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

One American official, whose name is redacted in the emails, said he had just received confirmation that Prince Salman, now the king of Saudi Arabia but at the time the senior Saudi liaison approving the weapons deal, had “signed the F-15SA LOA today” and would send scanned documents the following day.

“Not a bad Christmas present,” he added.

Another official, whose name is also redacted, confirmed that a Saudi general who had been working with U.S. officials was “pleased, as are all of us,” and said he would soon contact executives at Boeing.

The congratulatory tone continues through the email chain with other officials, also with redacted names, calling the weapons deal “Great news!”

On December 26, Jeremy Bash, then-chief of staff at the Pentagon, sent the email string, titled “F-15SA Christmas Present,” to Sullivan, who sent it to Clinton with his own note at the top.

David Sirota and Andrew Perez have previously reported for the International Business Times that Clinton’s State Department was heavily involved in approving weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.

As weapons transfers were being approved, both the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Boeing made donations to the Clinton Foundation. The Washington Post revealed that a Boeing lobbyist helped with fundraising in the early stages of Hillary Clinton’s current presidential campaign.

Jeremy Bash is now managing partner at Beacon Global Strategies, a consulting firm that provides advice to Clinton on foreign policy while providing paid advice to the military contracting industry.

Related:

How often you felt the conversation was worth recording?

When your job hinges on how well you talk to people, you learn a lot about how to have conversations — and that most of us don’t converse very well.

Celeste Headlee has worked as a radio host for decades, and she knows the ingredients of a great conversation: Honesty, brevity, clarity and a healthy amount of listening. In this insightful talk, she shares 10 useful rules for having better conversations. “Go out, talk to people, listen to people,” she says. “And, most importantly, be prepared to be amazed.”

All right, I want to see a show of hands: how many of you have unfriended someone on Facebook because they said something offensive about politics or religion, childcare, food?

And how many of you know at least one person that you avoid because you just don’t want to talk to them?

00:31 You know, it used to be that in order to have a polite conversation, we just had to follow the advice of Henry Higgins in “My Fair Lady“: Stick to the weather and your health. But these days, with climate change and anti-vaxxing, those subjects are not safe either.

So this world that we live in, this world in which every conversation has the potential to devolve into an argument, where our politicians can’t speak to one another and where even the most trivial of issues have someone fighting both passionately for it and against it, it’s not normal.

Pew Research did a study of 10,000 American adults, and they found that at this moment, we are more polarized, we are more divided, than we ever have been in history. We’re less likely to compromise, which means we’re not listening to each other.

And we make decisions about where to live, who to marry and even who our friends are going to be, based on what we already believe. Again, that means we’re not listening to each other.

A conversation requires a balance between talking and listening, and somewhere along the way, we lost that balance.

Now, part of that is due to technology.

The smartphones that you all either have in your hands or close enough that you could grab them really quickly. According to Pew Research, about a third of American teenagers send more than a hundred texts a day.

And many of them, almost most of them, are more likely to text their friends than they are to talk to them face to face.

There’s this great piece in The Atlantic. It was written by a high school teacher named Paul Barnwell. And he gave his kids a communication project. He wanted to teach them how to speak on a specific subject without using notes.

And he said this: “I came to realize that conversational competence might be the single most overlooked skill we fail to teach. Kids spend hours each day engaging with ideas and each other through screens, but rarely do they have an opportunity to hone their interpersonal communications skills. It might sound like a funny question, but we have to ask ourselves: Is there any 21st-century skill more important than being able to sustain coherent, confident conversation?”

I make my living talking to people: Nobel Prize winners, truck drivers, billionaires, kindergarten teachers, heads of state, plumbers. I talk to people that I like. I talk to people that I don’t like. I talk to some people that I disagree with deeply on a personal level. But I still have a great conversation with them. So I’d like to spend the next 10 minutes or so teaching you how to talk and how to listen.

Many of you have already heard a lot of advice on this, things like look the person in the eye, think of interesting topics to discuss in advance, look, nod and smile to show that you’re paying attention, repeat back what you just heard or summarize it. So I want you to forget all of that. It is crap.

There is no reason to learn how to show you’re paying attention if you are in fact paying attention.

I actually use the exact same skills as a professional interviewer that I do in regular life. So, I’m going to teach you how to interview people, and that’s actually going to help you learn how to be better conversationalists. Learn to have a conversation without wasting your time, without getting bored, and, please God, without offending anybody.

We’ve all had really great conversations. We’ve had them before. We know what it’s like. The kind of conversation where you walk away feeling engaged and inspired, or where you feel like you’ve made a real connection or you’ve been perfectly understood. There is no reason why most of your interactions can’t be like that.

So I have 10 basic rules.

I’m going to walk you through all of them, but honestly, if you just choose one of them and master it, you’ll already enjoy better conversations.

Number one: Don’t multitask. And I don’t mean just set down your cell phone or your tablet or your car keys or whatever is in your hand. I mean, be present. Be in that moment. Don’t think about your argument you had with your boss. Don’t think about what you’re going to have for dinner. If you want to get out of the conversation, get out of the conversation, but don’t be half in it and half out of it.

Number two: Don’t pontificate. If you want to state your opinion without any opportunity for response or argument or pushback or growth, write a blog.

Now, there’s a really good reason why I don’t allow pundits on my show: Because they’re really boring. If they’re conservative, they’re going to hate Obama and food stamps and abortion. If they’re liberal, they’re going to hate big banks and oil corporations and Dick Cheney. Totally predictable. And you don’t want to be like that.

You need to enter every conversation assuming that you have something to learn. The famed therapist M. Scott Peck said that true listening requires a setting aside of oneself. And sometimes that means setting aside your personal opinion. He said that sensing this acceptance, the speaker will become less and less vulnerable and more and more likely to open up the inner recesses of his or her mind to the listener. Again, assume that you have something to learn.

Bill Nye: “Everyone you will ever meet knows something that you don’t.” I put it this way: Everybody is an expert in something.

Number three: Use open-ended questions. In this case, take a cue from journalists. Start your questions with who, what, when, where, why or how. If you put in a complicated question, you’re going to get a simple answer out.

If I ask you, “Were you terrified?” you’re going to respond to the most powerful word in that sentence, which is “terrified,” and the answer is “Yes, I was” or “No, I wasn’t.” “Were you angry?” “Yes, I was very angry.” Let them describe it. They’re the ones that know. Try asking them things like, “What was that like?” “How did that feel?” Because then they might have to stop for a moment and think about it, and you’re going to get a much more interesting response.

Number four: Go with the flow. That means thoughts will come into your mind and you need to let them go out of your mind. We’ve heard interviews often in which a guest is talking for several minutes and then the host comes back in and asks a question which seems like it comes out of nowhere, or it’s already been answered.

That means the host probably stopped listening two minutes ago because he thought of this really clever question, and he was just bound and determined to say that. And we do the exact same thing.

We’re sitting there having a conversation with someone, and then we remember that time that we met Hugh Jackman in a coffee shop. And we stop listening. Stories and ideas are going to come to you. You need to let them come and let them go.

Number five: If you don’t know, say that you don’t know. Now, people on the radio, especially on NPR, are much more aware that they’re going on the record, and so they’re more careful about what they claim to be an expert in and what they claim to know for sure. Do that. Err on the side of caution. Talk should not be cheap.

Number six: Don’t equate your experience with theirs. If they’re talking about having lost a family member, don’t start talking about the time you lost a family member. If they’re talking about the trouble they’re having at work, don’t tell them about how much you hate your job. It’s not the same. It is never the same. All experiences are individual. And, more importantly, it is not about you. You don’t need to take that moment to prove how amazing you are or how much you’ve suffered. Somebody asked Stephen Hawking once what his IQ was, and he said, “I have no idea. People who brag about their IQs are losers.”

Conversations are not a promotional opportunity.

Number seven: Try not to repeat yourself. It’s condescending, and it’s really boring, and we tend to do it a lot. Especially in work conversations or in conversations with our kids, we have a point to make, so we just keep rephrasing it over and over. Don’t do that.

Number eight: Stay out of the weeds. Frankly, people don’t care about the years, the names, the dates, all those details that you’re struggling to come up with in your mind. They don’t care. What they care about is you. They care about what you’re like, what you have in common. So forget the details. Leave them out.

Number nine: This is not the last one, but it is the most important one. Listen. I cannot tell you how many really important people have said that listening is perhaps the most, the number one most important skill that you could develop. Buddha said, and I’m paraphrasing, “If your mouth is open, you’re not learning.” And Calvin Coolidge said, “No man ever listened his way out of a job.”

Why do we not listen to each other?

Number one, we’d rather talk. When I’m talking, I’m in control. I don’t have to hear anything I’m not interested in. I’m the center of attention. I can bolster my own identity.

But there’s another reason: We get distracted. The average person talks at about 225 word per minute, but we can listen at up to 500 words per minute. So our minds are filling in those other 275 words.

And look, I know, it takes effort and energy to actually pay attention to someone, but if you can’t do that, you’re not in a conversation. You’re just two people shouting out barely related sentences in the same place.

You have to listen to one another. Stephen Covey said it very beautifully. He said, “Most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand. We listen with the intent to reply.”

One more rule, number 10, and it’s this one: Be brief.

[A good conversation is like a miniskirt; short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject. — My Sister]

All of this boils down to the same basic concept, and it is this one: Be interested in other people.

You know, I grew up with a very famous grandfather, and there was kind of a ritual in my home. People would come over to talk to my grandparents, and after they would leave, my mother would come over to us, and she’d say, “Do you know who that was? She was the runner-up to Miss America. He was the mayor of Sacramento. She won a Pulitzer Prize. He’s a Russian ballet dancer.”

And I kind of grew up assuming everyone has some hidden, amazing thing about them. And honestly, I think it’s what makes me a better host. I keep my mouth shut as often as I possibly can, I keep my mind open, and I’m always prepared to be amazed, and I’m never disappointed.

11:27 You do the same thing. Go out, talk to people, listen to people, and, most importantly, be prepared to be amazed.

Celeste Headlee. Writer and radio host
Years of interview experience gives her a unique perspective on what makes for a good conversation. Full bio

 

Renewed Efforts to Stop Subway Sex Crimes

“She’s more free to tell me everything that she felt happen to her,” Lt. Angela Morris, center, said of the importance of having female officers to handle sex crimes

  Credit Richard Perry/The New York Times

Fanning out along the platform at the City Hall subway station in Manhattan, the plainclothes police officers blended in with the morning commuters. As they prepared to board a northbound train, they watched closely, their eyes darting from rider to rider.

The team of seven officers was searching for men who use the subway’s crowded confines to get too close to women. Some furtively touch female passengers, while others rub up against the women they have targeted.

At Union Square, Detective Marquis Cross saw a man he recognized from a previous sex-offense arrest standing suspiciously close to a female passenger. As the woman left the train, Detective Cross jogged after her to ask if she had felt anything unusual. She said that she had not, but that the man did seem too close

The officers, all from the New York Police Department’s Transit Bureau, were working the Lexington Avenue line, one of the most overcrowded in an increasingly crowded system. The ever-tightening crush of passengers provides easy cover for men who prey on women, the police say.

Offenders will often step off a car and get back on just before the doors close so they have to squeeze next to other riders, Detective Cross said. “They’re looking for a particular crowd or person that they want to get behind,” he said.

Opportunistic sex crimes aboard subways are Not new, nor are they news to many women. Some have been grabbed or leered at by a man who is masturbating. Many others have heard a story from a friend who felt an uncomfortable touch but was unsure if she should say something.

But cellphone cameras and social media have given women tools to fight back and provided the police a way to identify some offenders.

Last year, in an effort to encourage more victims to come forward, the police began training more female officers to work the cases.

The police now send out a stream of alerts about such crimes using photos from victims’ phones to try to identify suspects.

One recent Twitter post shared a photo of a man suspected of grabbing a 27-year-old woman’s buttocks on a No. 7 train in Queens this month. Two days earlier, the police posted a photo of a man they say exposed himself to women on two trains at Grand Central Station.

Reported sex crimes on the subways rose 19 percent last year, to 738 from 620 in 2014.

Many of those crimes were forcible touching and public lewdness, the offenses most commonly charged in connection with the sort of sexual misconduct that Detective Cross and his colleagues were on the lookout for that morning on the Lexington Avenue line.

Joseph Fox, the chief of the Transit Bureau, said he believed the increase in reported sex crimes was a result of more women coming forward. He expects the number of reports will keep rising as the police continue to talk about the problem.

“Many men don’t know this issue exists; far too many women do,” Chief Fox said in an interview. “It’s a crime that goes largely unreported.”

Subway announcements have long warned riders about sexual misconduct, and social media and pop culture have amplified attention to it. The phenomenon was a plotline on the Netflix series “Master of None” when Aziz Ansari’s character confronts an offender on the subway

The police made about 400 arrests last year for sex offenses on the subways, nearly three-fourths of which took place when officers witnessed an episode or a victim sought out a nearby officer who located the suspect. Victims are often embarrassed, confused or rushing to work, so they may not stop to tell a transit worker or go to a police station, Chief Fox said.

One of two female officers on the recent patrol, Lt. Angela Morris has become well versed on sex crimes in the two and a half years she has worked on such cases.

Victims are frequently crying and express shock and humiliation, and they often appear more comfortable speaking to her rather than to her male colleagues, she said.

“She’s more free to tell me everything that she felt happen to her,” Lieutenant Morris said, adding that she had taken women whose clothing was damaged to buy a new outfit.

The most common reports in 2015 were for forcible touching (340 cases) and public lewdness (223 cases), both misdemeanors.

There were 130 episodes of sexual abuse, which can be a misdemeanor or a felony. Rapes, which are felonies, are rare on the subway, Chief Fox said. One was reported last year, and five were reported the previous year.

In 2014, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority created a website for sexual misconduct complaints, where riders can attach a photo or make an anonymous report. The agency has received more than 500 complaints so far, and it forwards them to the police, officials said.

In September, Tiffany D. Jackson, a 33-year-old fiction writer who lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, said that a man followed her onto a No. 3 train in Brooklyn, exposed himself and masturbated while staring at her.

She told the train operator and filed a report at a police station, though it was only after she posted an explicit photo of the man on Instagram and it circulated online that he was arrested.

At the Brooklyn station where Ms. Jackson first reported the encounter, the train operator directed her upstairs to a station booth for assistance. But she did not find that booth, and then, Ms. Jackson saw the offender standing next to her.

She said she hopped the turnstile, raced down to the platform and jumped on the next train toward Manhattan. At Times Square, she went to a police station, where she said officers wrote down her information and a description from the photo on her phone.

But Ms. Jackson said it felt as though they did not take her seriously. After she posted the photo on Instagram and her story spread, Chief Fox emailed her to say that he was sorry she had been victimized on the subway and that he took such cases seriously

“What’s so disturbing is that if I hadn’t posted the picture, one: He wouldn’t have been caught,” Ms. Jackson said. “And two: Nothing would have happened.”

As part of training for transit officers assigned to sex crimes, an anti-harassment group called Hollaback is providing guidance. The group’s deputy director, Debjani Roy, said officers must not dismiss victims’ concerns.

“It’s important to build that empathy and understanding that it is a very traumatic experience,” she said.

Note: In Egypt, this is a common happening to women on trains and buses


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

February 2016
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