Ex-CIA Director On National Security, Post-Truth 'Assault On Intelligence'

Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA and NSA, speaks at ‘Nobel Week Dialogue: the Future of Truth’ conference on December 9, 2017, in Gothenburg, Sweden.

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Julia Reinhart/Getty Images

President Trump has a heaping plate of foreign policy background to consume in May, which will see a possible summit with the leader of North Korea, a deadline to decide on restoring Iranian sanctions, and the move of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In the past, most presidents have leaned on the intelligence community for guidance and context — but President Trump has made plain his differences with the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency.

In The Assault On Intelligence, former CIA Director Michael Hayden says the Trump administration has ushered in what he calls a “post-truth world,” and he scolds the president for waging a war on U.S. spy agencies.

In its best form, Hayden writes, intelligence is the objective truth.

“I’ve always viewed the role of intelligence as creating the left- and the right-hand boundaries of logical policy discussion,” Hayden tells NPR. “If you deny intelligence its role, you deny yourself these boundaries — and that, of course, I think leads to some really serious situations.”


Interview Highlights

On Trump’s relationship with the intelligence community

Let me begin with [Trump’s] distrust of the community, which is a national tragedy.

We always have a challenge establishing a relationship with a new president. President Trump was always going to see the world quite differently than the way we did, but then the relationship-building got stunted by the Russian interference. The first time we had to seriously talk with this president, we were trying to convince him of something that other Americans were using to discredit his legitimacy as president. So we began this in a ditch.

Now, over to the way I think God made the president. Michael Gerson, President George W. Bush’s best speechwriter,said that the president lives “in the eternal now.” And the purpose of intelligence is to provide, “What’s the history? What are the likely consequences?” And so we have a president here who is spontaneous — has almost a preternatural confidence in his own instincts. And to be fair to the president, those are the instincts that got him elected when a lot of experts said that wouldn’t happen. …

We have a lot of presidents who’ve argued about intelligence — and if that was the only case here, this would be just one other story. But here’s a case of a president whose shown evidence that he bases his decisions not on objective reality.

A classic: He claimed that Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. John Dickerson of CBS was pursuing him on this question, saying “Do you have evidence Mr. President? What’s the evidence?” And the president’s only response was, “a lot of people were saying — a lot of people agree with me.” That is decisionmaking based upon something other than objective reality.

On the public’s reaction to pushback from the intelligence community

I get that we occasionally look angry, although I try to just stay with the fact-based case. But I don’t think we look fractured; I think we all share a very broad concern with what it is that the president is doing. …

What we have here is a president who does not seem to be controlled by the traditional norms of the office. We have never seen a president speak like this, act like this, disparage people like this. And of course, that generates a response from people who have been career professionals, because we think what the president’s doing is very harmful. The challenge we have is — how do we push back against that without breaking our own norms? And so, for intelligence, it might be leaking. For journalism, it might be an over-fixation on the work of the president.

And so I have to be careful; people like me have to be careful [that] when we are pushing back — which we think is quite legitimate — we don’t make the problem worse by undercutting our own legitimacy.

On the “post-truth” era

What we have — and this is the core issue — we, plural, the big We, are in a post-truth world, a world in which decisions are far more based upon emotion and preference, than they are on objective reality, data and details. And that’s an overturning of the Western way of thought since the Enlightenment. President Trump identified it, President Trump exploited it, and I think President Trump worsens it by the some of the things he does in office. But the trend is well beyond him and well beyond America.

Art Silverman and Jolie Myers produced and edited the audio story. Sydnee Monday adapted it for the Web.

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Kelly McEvers On Embedded's New Season And Hosting The Podcast Full-Time

Embedded, hosted by Kelly McEvers, returns May 3.

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Jay L. Clendenin/NPR

Embedded is the NPR podcast takes a story from the news and goes deep. Whether that means digging into the Trump administration’s past, the stories behind police shootings caught on video, or visiting a town ravaged by the opioid epidemic, host Kelly McEvers takes you where the news is happening.

The podcast is back for a new season, with new in-depth reporting in your feeds starting Thursday, May 3. Hear the trailer now, available in NPR One, Apple Podcasts and wherever you listen to podcasts.

NPR Extra caught up with McEvers about the latest story she’s telling and what’s next for Embedded.

Walk us through this season. What story are you digging into?

This is a project we started before the presidential election. A time that seems long, long ago. Our plan was to connect with the white working class, voters who said they would be left behind if Hillary Clinton were elected. Which is what everyone thought would happen. When that didn’t happen, and Donald Trump was elected, he made a lot of promises to these voters. One promise was that he would bring back the coal industry, which had suffered under the Obama administration. (There are a lot of reasons for that – stay tuned for the episodes!)

So we wanted to find out, will that promise be kept? To do that we decided to just follow some people in coal country for the first year and change of the Trump administration and watch how things unfold. The result will be five episodes, in sequence.

You moved from hosting All Things Considered in January to focus on Embedded full-time. What has that transition been like?

It’s been wild! While I miss All Things Considered (ATC) so much, I think my true calling is that of a reporter. Going out in the world, making sense of things, and then telling people what I learned is just what I do.

But I will say that there’s so much ATC that I bring with me every day. I interview people differently in the field, I am a way faster writer, and I feel a connection to the news – and a rigor about how to tackle the news – that I did not have before I spent time with the show. Also I have a much deeper appreciation for how collaborative this job is and has to be. ATC takes a village, every single day, and even though the Embedded village is smaller, I understand that each person is super crucial to making this thing work.

How do you want the podcast to grow? Are there any stories you hope to tackle in the future?

We are definitely looking at making more episodes. And we are staffing up! We’re hiring a couple of people, which is so exciting. Once we’re done with that we’ll really hunker down and start asking some big questions like what is the show, if there’s going to be *more* of the show? How can we do meaningful collaborations with folks throughout the public radio network? What kinds of stories should we be doing – stories that set us apart from other shows out there?

My hunch is that we will continue our examinations of the current administration while also going back to our roots, of taking a story from the news and going out in the world and settling into a place until we have answered the questions we have in our minds. As listeners know from our previous work, we care deeply about big stuff like immigration, policing, and the opioid crisis – so I’m sure you’ll see more of those kinds of stories in the future.

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Detroit Released From Financial Oversight, 3 Years After Emerging From Bankruptcy

A couple sits on Belle Isle while looking at the skyline in Detroit, Michigan, in 2017. The city has been released from state oversight of its finances after several years of scrutiny.

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Anthony Lanzilote/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The city of Detroit has been released from state oversight of its finances, three years after exiting the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Detroit posted balanced budgets and surpluses for each of those three years — a key factor in the decision by Michigan’s financial review commission, which voted on Monday to free Detroit from oversight.

It’s a landmark achievement for the city, one that had been anticipated for months.

“For the first time in four decades, Detroit’s elected leadership will be in complete control of government functions,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement.

Since 1977, the Michigan Chronicle explains, the city has always been under some form of federal or state oversight.

“That includes 36 years of federal court oversight of the Water & Sewerage Department for environmental issues, a decade of U.S. Justice Department oversight of the police department over use-of-force and lockup conditions, and a decade of U.S. Housing and Urban Development control of the Detroit Housing Commission due to poor performance,” the Metro Times writes.

Then, in 2013, during the heart of the city’s financial crisis, direct control of the city’s money was seized by the state government. As part of the plan to exit bankruptcy in December 2014, Detroit officials retook control — but with close oversight from the review commission.

“The mayor last year blamed state oversight for gumming up the works in Detroit because all major city and labor contracts are delayed 30 days waiting for approval from the state,” The Detroit News writes. “City and state officials have predicted for months that Detroit would emerge from state oversight this spring.”

Technically, the city’s finances will remain under a form of review. According tot he The Detroit News, that waiver will need to be granted anew each year, at least for the next decade.

Member station WDET reported on Monday that the economic indicators in Detroit and the surrounding county are almost entirely positive — but a new report from the Brookings Institution still lists Detroit as a “vulnerable” city.

“Because it fell so far in the 2000s and in many of the decades before that, it falls into this sort of vulnerable category,” the lead author of the report, Alan Berube, told WDET. “The recovery, I think, still is precarious with the long sweep of history. And whether or not it can persist if and when the national economy undergoes another downturn I think is still an open question.”

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'No More Hope': Slain Afghan Photographer Covered His Country's Turmoil For 2 Decades

Afghan girls practice taekwondo at Kabul Stadium on March 8, 2004, on International Women’s Day.

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Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

“No worry man, I am here.”

Afghan photojournalist Shah Marai sent the WhatsApp message Monday to a colleague stuck in traffic, trying to reach the scene of a suicide attack in Kabul. Minutes later, Marai, the chief photographer for Agence France-Presse, was killed in a second attack.

The 41-year-old photographer was one of at least nine Afghan journalists and more than two dozen others who lost their lives in the day’s coordinated suicide bombings, for which ISIS claimed responsibility. The second attacker was reported to have been disguised as a video cameraman.

#UPDATE Agence France-Presse’s chief photographer in Kabul, Shah Marai, has been killed.
He died in a blast that was targeting a group of journalists who had rushed to the scene of a suicide attack in the Afghan capital pic.twitter.com/rOa4rg24x9

— AFP news agency (@AFP) April 30, 2018

A BBC Afghan service reporter was also killed Monday in a separate attack. It was the deadliest day for journalists in Afghanistan since 2001, and certainly one of the deadliest for journalists in any country.

Marai began his AFP career as a driver in 1996, and rose to become one of Afghanistan’s best-known photojournalists, “his income supporting a large family that included three blind brothers and two blind children,” New York Times senior Afghanistan correspondent Mujib Mashal writes.

In the late 1990s, a time when Afghanistan was largely isolated, Marai covered life under the Taliban — who threatened and beat him while they were in power, according to AFP — and was present in Kabul when they were driven out of power in November 2001.

Security forces from the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance enter Kabul on Nov. 13, 2001.

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Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

“They hated journalists,” Marai recalled in a 2016 essay, “so I was always very discreet — I always made sure to put on the traditional shalwar kameez outfit when going outside and I took pictures with a small camera that I hid in a scarf wrapped around my hand.” The Taliban forbade photography of any living being, making photojournalism particularly risky, but Marai managed to shoot images showing grim scenes of daily life, including public amputations of suspected thieves’ limbs and women lining up for bread.

In the years that followed, Marai chronicled his country’s turmoil, its progress, and at times, the deaths of friends and colleagues — fellow journalists who lost their lives in Afghanistan’s violence. “Yet through it all he remained known for his humor, his love for his children — often bringing his sons to the bureau to visit colleagues — and his enthusiastic efforts to bring down office tension with games of ping pong or volleyball,” AFP reports. Marai was a father of six, including an infant daughter born in April.

In 2016, 15 years after the Taliban fell, “There is no more hope,” he wrote. He explained his worries and uncertainty about the future: “Life seems to be even more difficult than under the Taliban because of the insecurity. I don’t dare to take my children for a walk. … I have never felt life to have so little prospects and I don’t see a way out. It’s a time of anxiety.”

A selection of Shah Marai’s photos from Afghanistan follows.

An Afghan soldier keeps watch above a road leading to the Salang Tunnel during Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s visit on Aug. 27, 2003.

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Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

An Afghan health worker administers the polio vaccine to a child during a vaccination campaign in Kabul on Feb. 28, 2017.

Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

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Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

An Afghan policeman stands guard as an eight ton pile of opium, heroin and hashish are destroyed in Kabul in 2004.

Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

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Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

An Afghan poppy farmer uses a blade to score the surface of an opium poppy to extract raw opium in Laghman Province.

Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

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Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

Afghan men offer Eid al-Adha prayer at the Shah-Do Shamshira mosque in Kabul on Sept. 12, 2016.

Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

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Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

Afghan women line up to receive a donation of food material during the month of Ramadan in Kabul on July 9, 2015. The Afghanistan’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries has distributed foodstuffs to some 1000 vulnerable families in respect to the holy month of Ramadan.

Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

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Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

Newborn babies are wrapped in blankets at a maternity ward in the Malalai Maternity Hospital in Kabul on Dec. 26, 2017.

Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

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Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

Afghans on a ride at a fairground in Kabul on Sept. 6, 2017.

Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

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Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

Afghan National Army soldiers march at a ceremony marking the end of a formal disarmament and reintegration program in Kabul on July 7, 2005. Afghanistan said it had completed the first stage of the U.N.-backed disarmament program aimed at collecting weapons including tanks and cannon from tens of thousands of former militiamen.

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Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

Afghan residents inspect the site of a suicide bombing outside a voter registration center in Kabul on April 22. The attack killed four people and wounded at least 15. It was one Marai’s final assignments for AFP.

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Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

Afghan children who work as water vendors search for customers at the Kart-e-Sakhi cemetery in Kabul on Jan. 12, 2015. Thousands of victims of the country’s civil war of the 1990s are buried in cemeteries across the Afghan capital.

Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

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Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

Afghan mourners carry the coffin of Saeed Jawad Hossini, 29, one of seven killed in a suicide attack on a minibus carrying employees of Afghanistan’s TOLO TV channel in Kabul on Jan. 21, 2016.

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Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

An Afghan amputee sits at a Kabul hospital run by the International Committee of the Red Cross for war victims and the disabled on April 3, 2016.

Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

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Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Army soldiers inspect the wreckage of a U.S. MH-53 Pave Low Helicopter near Bagram Air Base on Nov. 24, 2003. Five soldiers were killed and seven others injured when the transport helicopter taking part in Operation Mountain Resolve, an operation to hunt down Taliban supporters and other militants.

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Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

Afghan female military officers attend their graduation ceremony in Kabul on May 27, 2010.

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Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

An Afghan woman takes a photograph with her cell phone as she and supporters attend the election rally of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah in Jalalabad on Feb. 18, 2014.

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Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

An Afghan pedestrian walks past snow-covered trees in Kabul on Feb. 5, 2017. Avalanches and freezing weather killed more than 20 people in different areas of Afghanistan, as rescuers worked to save scores still trapped under the snow.

Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

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Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

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Inflation Target Acquired

2

Every year, the average American buys a certain amount of goods and services. Inflation measures how the prices of those goods and services are changing.

The Federal Reserve has a target for inflation. It wants us at that sweet spot, where the economy is purring along, but not going so fast that it’s in danger of overheating.

That sweet spot is two percent. And we hit that today. Which is great news. The question is, what does the Fed do now to keep us there?

Music by Drop Electric. Find us: Twitter/ Facebook.

Subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts, PocketCasts and NPR One.

SOURCES:

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A Map To The Line, And How Not To Cross It: A Code Of Conduct For The Performing Arts

Some of the members of the We Have Voice Collective, the authors of a new code of conduct for preventing harassment in performing arts spaces. Front row, seated (left to right): Linda May Han Oh, Jen Shyu, Sara Serpa. Back row, standing (left to right): Imani Uzuri, María Grand, Terri Lyne Carrington, Fay Victor.

Jacob Blickenstaff

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Jacob Blickenstaff

This past fall, when news of the Harvey Weinstein scandal was galvanizing the #MeToo movement, some of us who work in the performing arts had a peculiar experience: Colleagues started asking if they’d sexually harassed us. A few of these colleagues may have been attempting to head off allegations, but many of them genuinely didn’t know if they’d crossed a line.

There are 14 musicians, all connected to the jazz world, who came together to address this concern in a specific way. They have formed a collective, calling it We Have Voice, with the purpose of sharing their priorities. Now, the group has created a document to bring attention to its mission.

At midnight (May 1), We Have Voice will release its Code of Conduct to Promote SAFE(R) Workplaces in the Performing Arts, an aspirational document that helps define sexual harassment and consent for the unusual workplaces and unique circumstances of the performing arts, offering clarity and tools for anyone who witnesses or experiences harassment. Unlike employees of formal workplaces, where human resources departments enforce harassment policies, musicians function in the uncharted territory of stages, dressing rooms, hotels, recording studios and galleries.

“This code is about protecting us in our workplaces — all of us in the performing arts,” says vocalist and composer Imani Uzuri, one of the collective’s fourteen members. “How we work and where we work is so fluid. We might have a rehearsal in the basement of a club or even in someone’s bedroom if we’re in a studio apartment. So it’s all about understanding what consent is in our particular workplaces.”

The notion of consent in these workplaces is particularly tricky. Instead of established management structures, performing artists work within the nebulous power dynamics of mentor-mentee and bandleader-collaborator relationships. Interactions can be particularly fraught on tour, for example, when a young musician might play in a celebrated bandleader’s group at a club and then continue on to a hotel room for a midnight jam session with the band. Differences of prestige and financial clout, along with typically permissive late-night cultures, can make these hazy work/pleasure scenarios especially vulnerable to abuses of power.

By phone and email, I spoke individually with six of the 14 members of We Have Voice about the Code of Conduct. The creative music community’s reckoning with harassment issues predates the precipitous rise of the #MeToo movement, stirred by some controversial statements about women in jazz from Robert Glasper in a March 2017 interview with Ethan Iverson. As essays and articles on gender discrimination in the music industry multiplied with the #MeToo movement, several women musicians discovered that, separately, they’d all been having the idea of writing an open letter.

“Some of us had already spent 20 years of dealing with the way things are in the music world,” says the collective’s Jen Shyu, a vocalist, composer, instrumentalist and dancer. “You say to yourself, ‘As soon as I get through this it will be fine.’ But we started asking, ‘Why can’t it just be right from the beginning?’ What we saw lacking in our culture, in our creative music scene, were any guidelines for conduct.”

Some of these musicians were old friends; some were only vaguely familiar to one another. As friends and colleagues spoke, their network grew to include 14 women: Fay Victor, Ganavya Doraiswamy, Imani Uzuri, Jen Shyu, Kavita Shah, Linda May Han Oh, María Grand, Nicole Mitchell, Okkyung Lee, Rajna Swaminathan, Sara Serpa, Tamar Sella, Terri Lyne Carrington and Tia Fuller.

In December, the We Have Voice collective published an open letter that expressed zero tolerance for sexual harassment, and called on peers, institutions and the greater community to create more equitable conditions in the performing arts. To date, the letter has nearly 1,000 signatures.

In early 2018, We Have Voice began painstakingly crafting the Code of Conduct via meetings, email and Google Hangout sessions, with members collaborating from the far-flung locations where they live and work. The code’s “SAFE(R) spaces” is a term that espouses intersectionality, an acknowledgment that the definition of “safe” shifts according to race, class, and gender and their interdependent systems. If this sounds grimly pietistic, the We Have Voice Collective itself practices intersectionality as joyful action. Encompassing a range of ages, ethnicities (Caucasians are a distinct minority), cultural backgrounds, sexual orientations and career trajectories, the group has fostered a distinct esprit de corps.

“Everyone is a leader, and everyone truly cares about what everyone else has to say,” says Shyu.

We Have Voice hopes for widespread Code of Conduct adoption among venues, festivals and summer camps, and members are also adding the clear, prescriptive set of guidelines and practices to their tour riders. “In order for it to be most effective, club owners or managers need to either make the Code of Conduct available as a visible poster, or it has to be announced before every performance,” says the collective’s Rajna Swaminathan, a composer and percussionist. “And it should be included in every contract with musicians, and highlighted.” Organizations and spaces that sign on to the Code commit to create and promote equitable conditions for everyone who works there.

Complicating the code’s adoption is jazz’s entrenched notion that transgression is foundational to its culture, that the most brilliant improvisers have always discarded artistic rules and social norms. We Have Voice isn’t having it.

“Jazz comes out of spirituals and the blues, and is embedded with codes of escaping enslavement,” says Uzuri. “There’s always been an understanding about resistance in jazz and creative music. But some boundaries are good. Transgression should never get to the point of abusing or oppressing someone else.”

Anticipating the objection that a conduct code kills seduction and romance — à la Catherine Deneuve’s recent denunciation of #MeToo’s “puritanism”—collective members say they don’t mean to take the sensuality out of the performing arts scene. “The lines can get really murky, and we understand that,” says Shyu. “I met my partner through a band I was in.” The Code of Conduct prohibits sexual force or coercion, not flirting and happy, consensual encounters. “People can still do what they want,” affirms Uzuri. “If they want to go all freaky Friday in the club, they can, as long as they’re in agreement.”

Collective members are as likely to cite generous male mentors as the post-structural theory of Judith Butler, and proceed from a deep conviction that the Code represents progress for all. This inclusive vision reflects the realities of their profession: Meaningful collaboration with everyone on stage is the only way forward for creative musicians. The Code of Conduct is an important shift from exposing harassment to preventing it. While #MeToo stories have had inestimable value in revealing sexism, they’ve also had some undesirable side effects. “Reading about trauma affects your psyche,” says We Have Voice’s Sara Serpa, a singer and composer. “You can internalize those #MeToo stories, and begin to see yourself as a victim or survivor. It’s not good for your life as a performing artist. That was why we started working so hard on this Code, to empower people and make a positive change in our environments.”

Of course the #MeToo movement, which was started by Tarana Burke in 2006, has always involved activism, not least of all Burke’s Just Be Inc., a nonprofit helping victims of sexual harassment and assault. “To me, this Code is part of a continuum,” says Uzuri. “In the ’90s, for example, we had Anita Hill coming forth with her work around sexual harassment. That helped more formalized spaces create a code of conduct on sexual harassment. Now we’re doing the same thing for the performing arts. We’re standing on the shoulders of so many other activists.”

The Code of Conduct’s implementation ultimately depends on self-governance within venues and organizations, but composer and flutist Nicole Mitchell believes that the code’s mere introduction facilitates change. “[I]t’s creating a standard for people to reach for,” she says, hearkening to the aspirational ideals of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, for which Mitchell served as the first female president. “It’s a way of putting something into the culture that not only inspires but challenges people to make a collective decision about their organization, to have accountability for these issues and make every effort to hold true to them.”

As of May 1, Code of Conduct adoptees include a dozen venues and organizations, including Biophilia Records, the National Jazz Museum of Harlem and the Vision Festival, where all fourteen members of We Have Voice will gather in person for the first time later this month.

“The Code of Conduct is a great point of reference for organizations, artists, businesses, etc.,” writes National Jazz Museum executive director Tracy Hyter-Suffern in an email. “However, it should also be springboard — a call to action. It shouldn’t be passive. It’s up to the entire artistic community to be deliberate in creating entrée, opportunity, collaboration and movement — and while we’re at it, equal pay for feminine brilliance.”

“The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is — it’s to imagine what is possible,” wrote feminist theorist bell hooks. It’s fitting that this group of improvisers would endeavor to move feminism forward, that artists would act as architects of social change. And while we have yet to see what difference the Code of Conduct makes in the performing arts, it’s already empowering the We Have Voice collective itself.

“There has always been this pattern of the woman being the only one in jazz, the only female musician in a group,” says Serpa. “When you come together like this, your whole perception of other women changes. We especially want to give younger women musicians another way into the culture, another way to relate to the creative music scene.”

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Russia Launches Floating Nuclear Power Plant; It's Headed To The Arctic

The Akademik Lomonosov, which the Russian energy company Rosatom calls “the world’s only floating nuclear power unit,” left port on Saturday.

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Rosatom

A massive floating nuclear power plant is now making its way toward its final destination at an Arctic port, after Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom launched the controversial craft over the weekend. It’s the first nuclear power plant of its kind, Russian officials say.

Called the Akademik Lomonosov, the floating power plant is being towed at a creeping pace out of St. Petersburg, where it was built over the last nine years. It will eventually be brought northward, to Murmansk – where its two nuclear reactors will be loaded with nuclear fuel and started up this fall.

From there, the power plant will be pulled to a mooring berth in the Arctic port of Pevek, in far northeast Russia. There, it will be wired into the infrastructure so it can replace an existing nuclear power installment on land.

Critics of the plan include Greenpeace, which recently warned of a “Chernobyl on ice” if Russia’s plans to create a fleet of floating nuclear power stations result in a catastrophe.

Russian officials say the mandate of the Akademik Lomonoso is to supply energy to remote industrial plants and port cities, and to offshore gas and oil platforms.

“The nuclear power plant has two KLT-40S reactor units that can generate up to 70 MW of electric energy and 50 Gcal/hr of heat energy during its normal operation,” Rosatom said. “This is enough to keep the activity of the town populated with 100,000 people.”

It will take more than a year for the power plant to reach its new home port. The original plan had called for fueling the floating plant before it began that journey, at the shipyard in central St. Petersburg – but that was scuttled last summer, after concerns were raised both in Russia and in countries along the power plant’s route through the Baltic Sea and north to the Arctic.

Greenpeace in Russia, for instance, said it collected more than 11,000 signatures against the plan to put nuclear fuel into the plant while it floated along St. Petersburg’s shores.

When Rosatom announced its change of plans last summer, Rashid Alimov, coordinator of the Greenpeace Russia anti-nuclear project said that the organization “still considers the very concept of a floating nuclear power plant too dangerous and a senseless technological solution.”

Rosatom says it hopes the floating nuclear power plant will be online in 2019. It adds that the power plant “is designed with the great margin of safety that exceeds all possible threats and makes nuclear reactors invincible for tsunamis and other natural disasters.”

The idea for an offshore nuclear power plant has also been floated in the U.S. – or more specifically, off of New Jersey’s coast. That plan arose in 1969, when the Public Service Electric & Gas Co. of New Jersey wanted to put a nuclear plant in the Atlantic Ocean, some 11 miles northeast of Atlantic City.

To enact that plan, suppliers were lined up, and millions of dollars were spent; a mockup was even built. But popular resistance emerged against it, and as The New Yorker reported in 1975, “More than 50 construction & operating permits were required, & none yet issued.”

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