New research suggests personality has a larger effect on success than IQ.
How much is a child’s future success determined by innate intelligence? Economist James Heckman says it’s not what people think. He likes to ask educated non-scientists — especially politicians and policy makers — how much of the difference between people’s incomes can be tied to IQ. Most guess around 25 percent, even 50 percent, he says. But the data suggest a much smaller influence: about 1 or 2 percent.
So if IQ is only a minor factor in success, what is it that separates the low earners from the high ones? Or, as the saying goes: If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?
Science doesn’t have a definitive answer, although luck certainly plays a role. But another key factor is personality, according to a paper Heckman co-authored in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month. He found financial success was correlated with conscientiousness, a personality trait marked by diligence, perseverance and self-discipline.
To reach that conclusion, he and colleagues examined four different data sets, which, between them, included IQ scores, standardized test results, grades and personality assessments for thousands of people in the U.K., the U.S. and the Netherlands. Some of the data sets followed people over decades, tracking not just income but criminal records, body mass index and self-reported life satisfaction.
The study found that grades and achievement-test results were markedly better predictors of adult success than raw IQ scores. That might seem surprising — after all, don’t they all measure the same thing? Not quite. Grades reflect not just intelligence but also what Heckman calls “non-cognitive skills,” such as perseverance, good study habits and the ability to collaborate — in other words, conscientiousness. To a lesser extent, the same is true of test scores. Personality counts.
Heckman, who shared a Nobel Prize in 2000 and is founder of the University of Chicago’s Center for the Economics of Human Development, believes success hinges not just on innate ability but on skills that can be taught. His own research suggests childhood interventions can be helpful, and that conscientiousness is more malleable than IQ. Openness — a broad trait that includes curiosity — is also connected to test scores and grades.
IQ still matters, of course. Someone with an IQ of 70 isn’t going to be able to do things that are easy for a person with an IQ of 190. But Heckman says many people fail to break into the job market because they lack skills that aren’t measured on intelligence tests. They don’t understand how to behave with courtesy in job interviews. They may show up late or fail to dress properly. Or on the job, they make it obvious they’ll do no more than the minimum, if that.
John Eric Humphries, a co-author of the paper, says he hoped their work could help clarify the complicated, often misunderstood notion of ability. Even IQ tests, which were designed to assess innate problem-solving capabilities, appear to measure more than just smarts. In a 2011 study, University of Pennsylvania psychologist Angela Duckworth found that IQ scores also reflected test-takers’ motivation and effort. Diligent, motivated kids will work harder to answer tough questions than equally intelligent but lazier ones.
Teaching personality or character traits in school wouldn’t be easy. For one thing it’s not always clear whether more of a trait is always better. The higher the better for IQ, and perhaps for conscientiousness as well. But personality researchers have suggested the middle ground is best for other traits — you don’t want to be so introverted that you can’t speak up, or so extroverted that you can’t shut up and listen.
What does any of this have to do with economics? “Our ultimate goal is to improve human well-being,” Heckman says, and a major determinant of well-being comes down to skills.
A newer study published this month in the journal Nature Human Behaviour focused on the flip side of success: hardship. After following some 1,000 New Zealanders for more than 30 years, researchers concluded that tests of language, behavioral skills and cognitive abilities taken when children were just three years old could predict who was most likely to need welfare, commit crimes, or become chronically ill.
The lead author of that paper, Duke University psychologist Terrie Moffitt, says she hopes the results would foster compassion and help, not stigma. Her results also suggested that helping people improve certain kinds of skills before they’re out of diapers would benefit everyone.
Em 2018 a máscara do Facebook caiu em definitivo. A gananciosa máquina que converte ódio e crimes em lucros é generosamente sustentada por todos nós, que já não temos desculpa.
Há um ano, já tínhamos ouvido falar da interferência russa nas presidenciais americanas e no papel que o algoritmo do Facebook desempenhou conscientemente em tudo isso. Sabíamos que o Facebook era uma excelente plataforma para a disseminação do discurso de ódio contra minorias, para a promoção do suicídio e para a fazer equivaler mentiras a verdades científicas. Mas não sabíamos a dimensão da coisa. Aliás, o quarto dia de 2018 começou com o senhor Zuckerberg a prometer resolver os problemas do Facebook. A partir daí foi uma animação. Só para destacar os casos mais graves, fica um resumo mensal do ano que passou:
Ainda em janeiro, no World Economic Forum, a plataforma é apresentada como uma ameaça à sociedade e um obstáculo à inovação.
Em fevereiro a Wired publica uma enorme investigação que detalha os pormenores e a dimensão da interferência russa na vida política americana através do Facebook.
Em março, o Observer dá a conhecer o imenso escândalo Cambridge Analytica, em que se confirmam os abusos de privacidade dos utilizadores para os manipular politicamente; os fundadores do WhatsApp, comprado pelo Facebook em 2016 e até aí funcionários da casa, aderem à campanha #deletefacebook; e o BuzzFeed dá a conhecer um memorando interno em que se defende o crescimento a todo o custo, mesmo que morram pessoas pela utilização da aplicação.
Chegamos a abril e são os próprios responsáveis a admitir que é muito provável que quase todos os dois mil milhões de utilizadores tenha sido, num momento ou noutro, vítimas de invasão de privacidade; e nas inquirições no congresso americano e no Parlamento Europeu, a postura robótica de Zuckerberg e a imagem das frases que deveria repetir expuseram a falácia de todo o processo.
Em maio entrou em vigor na Europa o GDPR, que deu imediatamente origem a centenas de processos contra a plataforma; e o relatório provisório da comissão parlamentar britânica que investigou o Brexit é demolidor para a suposta isenção política do Facebook.
Em junho o New York Times revelou que o Facebook deu aos produtores dos telemóveis acesso aos dados pessoais dos utilizadores; três dias depois, admitiu ter encontrado um erro em que a informação que estaria reservada apenas para amigos era afinal publicamente visível; e numa entrevista ao Guardian a comissária europeia Verstager alertou contra os riscos para a democracia que vêm dali, dizendo que não sabe se o Facebook tem demasiado poder porque teria antes de definir uma “teoria de maldade” aplicada à plataforma.
O verão não correu melhor, porque em plena ronda de relações públicas decorrida em julho, Zuckerberg admite que não quer limitar a liberdade de expressão e por isso defende o direito dos negacionistas do holocausto a estar presentes, mesmo que isso custe vidas e aumente a descriminação; uma semana depois, a publicação dos resultados financeiros faz desaparecer mais de 20% da valorização bolsista da empresa.
E em agosto as Nações Unidas acusam a plataforma de ter desempenhado um papel consciente no genocídio dos Royhinga em Myanmar, mesmo depois de sucessivos alertas oficiais em público e em privado; e uma nova investigação demonstrou como, na Alemanha, a propagação do discurso anti-refugiados coincidiu com ataques coordenados a refugiados.
Em setembro ficou a conhecer-se a extensão da manipulação política nas Filipinas e na Líbia graças à plataforma e às suas ferramentas; outra investigação jornalística mostra como o Instagram promoveu vídeos de abusos de crianças, acelerando a saída dos fundadores do Instagram por choques com Zuckerberg; e a própria empresa admitiu outra falha que permitiu o roubo de dados privados subsequentemente usados para manipulação financeira.
O último trimestre, por si só, seria suficiente para desgraçar qualquer empresa: em outubro chegaram as eleições brasileiras e com elas a revelação da forma como os grupos que promovem desinformação usaram o Facebook e o WhatsApp para atacar os concorrentes de Bolsonaro; na Índia, uma campanha anti-vacinação de crianças levou à suspensão de uma ação da OMS; e novos dados sobre os anúncios no Facebook demonstrou como se publicita a venda de casas e novos empregos excluindo minorias raciais e sexuais, como se falsificam informações políticas e como se podem colocar anúncios a recrutar para… o Estado Islâmico.
Em novembro relatou-se o impacto do Facebook nas campanhas de ódio étnico e nas matanças de minorias na Nigéria; o New York Times revelou como o Facebook pagou a empresas de relações públicas para denegrir publicamente, por vezes com base em insultos raciais, os críticos da empresa; a ameaça da nova lei de proteção de dados da União Europeia vai abrir caminho a novos processos; e a justiça britânica tomou posse de uma série de documentos que mostram como a empresa abusa do seu poder para esmagar a concorrência e abre caminho a novos processos milionários.
Chegados a dezembro, os próprios responsáveis de segurança da empresa admitem que as fotos de sete milhões de utilizadores foram partilhadas com mais de mil e quinhentas apps; e logo a seguir o New York Times publicou mais uma investigação em que revela como deu a empresas acesso às mensagens privadas dos utilizadores; Um dos papas de Silicon Valley, Walt Mossberg, apagou-se do Facebook pelo desconforto; o Senado americano publicou um relatório em que se revê em alta a interferência russa nas eleições americanas através do Facebook e Washington anunciou uma ação legal contra a plataforma e os seus responsáveis por causa dos falhanços na proteção de dados, provocando mais um trambolhão na bolsa (este “apenas” de sete por cento).
Nada disto acontece por acaso. Todos estes crimes ocorrem porque são inerentes ao funcionamento da própria plataforma e à forma como esta trafica tráfego e informações pessoais por publicidade.
Todos os dias, todos nós, com a participação nesta plataforma, aceitamos ser cúmplices conscientes destes crimes. Estamos a contribuir para crimes raciais, para genocídios, para manipulações políticas e para violações de privacidade. Somo parte ativa de uma máquina que promove emoções e difunde mentiras, enterrando verdades científicas debaixo de camadas e camadas de discursos de ódio. Pior do que isso, estamos a ser parte ativa de um sistema que está a pôr em causa o modelo de democracia liberal em que vivemos, com consequências dramáticas para o futuro. Sabemos isto tudo e continuamos lá. A culpa é nossa, toda nossa.
Para o ano, as coisas vão piorar. Em Inglaterra, porque o Brexit não vai ser bonito. Nos EUA, porque o Trumpismo está cada vez mais afinado como máquina de destruição da coesão nacional. Na Europa, porque vem aí uma eleição – e um parlamento – em que os populistas vão ganhar muito poder. Em Portugal, porque a informação livre vai continuar a morrer e a demagogia vai aumentar na aproximação às legislativas. Mas nada disto é grave: afinal, podemos sempre usar o Facebook para nos queixarmos.
Ler mais: O melhor resumo do caso contra o Facebook está resumido em Anti SocialMedia: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy. O livro foi publicado no início de 2018 e, apesar de não ter quase nenhum dos factos aqui relatados, demonstra quão grave já era a situação. E o seu autor, Siva Vaidhyanathan, é uma voz autorizada e reconhecida: doutorado pela Universidade do Texas, fundou a disciplina de Critical Information Studies e é uma voz influente no estudo das influências culturais dos média.
(Times) Is there really anything we can do to reduce the pain of the morning after a big night?P
It’s hard to avoid hangovers, particularly at this time of year — and, as we all know, they’re not a pleasant experience. Fatigue, dehydration, headache or muscle aches, dizziness, shakiness, and a rapid heartbeat are symptoms that three quarters of us experience at least some of after drinking, according to a study published in the journal Addiction.
The misery persists for an average of six and a half hours, with one in eight people admitting that their most recent hangover had lasted more than half a day, according to a survey by Cancer Research UK.
So what really causes us to feel so bad after drinking? And, more importantly, what, if anything, can we do to reduce the pain? The answer from scientists seems to be not as much as we would hope.
Despite what supplement and health tonic manufacturers would like us to believe, there is no cure for a hangover. “That’s because we are still not entirely sure precisely what causes the hangover,” says Sean Johnson, a researcher into alcohol and its effects at the University of the West of England in Bristol and a member of the Alcohol Hangover Research Group (AHRG).
“Researchers have ideas that are currently being tested, but we do not yet have a firm understanding of what happens in the body between consuming alcohol and waking up feeling like crap.”
What scientists do know, though, is that when we drink, our blood becomes concentrated with alcohol, and the higher the concentration of alcohol, the worse the symptoms to follow later. According to Johnson, hangover severity is worse when blood alcohol concentration reaches zero, which usually occurs 12 to 14 hours after you stop drinking. That is because, although the alcohol has left the system, the toxins left behind are at their peak.
“A hangover is the result of toxic substances such as acetaldehyde that are products of alcohol metabolism, and they contribute to us feeling sweaty and nauseous,” says Dr Sally Adams, assistant professor of health psychology at the University of Bath and another member of the AHRG panel. “These are most concentrated after 12 to 14 hours.”
A surge of other chemicals is also involved in causing hangover symptoms. “Alcohol initially produces an increase in the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine,” Johnson says. “So you feel great at first. But there follows an immune response that triggers an elevation of cytokines — inflammatory proteins that can cause you to feel hot, flushed and queasy.”
Your choice of drink will also play a role in determining the severity of your hangover. High levels of compounds associated with fermentation, called congeners, are linked to worse hangovers. More of these are found in dark-coloured spirits, such as bourbon and whisky, than in light-coloured drinks, such as gin and vodka.
Apart from swapping to lighter-coloured drinks, is there anything else we can do to avoid the worst of the post-party pain? In 2015 scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), an independent Australian government agency, suggested that consuming 220ml of Korean (also known as Asian) pear juice before drinking alcohol could reduce blood alcohol levels by 20 per cent and cut hangover suffering.
This particular variety of pear, sold in UK supermarkets, is said to act on the key enzymes involved in alcohol metabolism to help the body to eliminate alcohol more quickly. “Reductions were seen in blood acetaldehyde levels, the toxic metabolite thought to be responsible for the hangover symptoms, with pear-juice consumption,” the CSIRO team noted. Overall hangover severity, as measured by a 14-item hangover-symptom scale, was significantly reduced in the Korean-pear group compared with those who took a placebo drink.
Alternatively, you could try increasing your intake of asparagus. A 2009 study in the Journal of Food Science, showed that the amino acids and minerals in asparagus extract may alleviate hangovers and protect liver cells against toxins.
If these pre-binge measures might help, a Bloody Mary afterwards will not, say experts. Attempting to treat a hangover with yet more alcohol is a lost cause, says Dr Laura Veach, a researcher at Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina. She says that a hair of the dog the morning after may temporarily ease your suffering because it tops up alcohol in your system. “But it doesn’t cure the hangover,” Veach says. “It just sort of tricks you by masking the symptoms. They’re going to show up eventually.”
There is also bad news for older drinkers because, yes, hangovers do really get worse with time. That is because as we age, our tendons and cartilage lose fluid, which means we retain less water. And the less fluid we have in our bodies, the less capable we are of diluting alcohol, which means that any alcohol consumed is more concentrated and therefore more potent.
Menopausal women are also likely to suffer worse hangover symptoms for this reason, according to Liz Earle, a wellbeing expert and the author of The Good Menopause Guide (Orion Spring) “During the perimenopause and beyond, the body’s water content is reduced, so any alcohol consumed is more concentrated,” she says.
Johnson says that there are scientific reasons for the link. “Both alcohol and the menopause elicit an immune response and both produce elevated levels of cytokines . . . that are responsible for similar symptoms, such as hot flushes,” he explains. “In combination, alcohol plus the menopause could provide a double blow to the body, with the increased responses amplifying many menopausal symptoms, such as sleeplessness and fatigue.”
Whatever our age, our genes, too, have an affect on how bad a hangover will be. Which explains why some suffer more than others.
“We all respond differently to alcohol, with some being more sensitive than others to its effects,” Johnson says. “Some people are super-metabolisers of alcohol, meaning they experience less hangover effects. Others experience side-effects after very little.”
Will drinking a glass of water before bed prevent a hangover? Unfortunately not, say experts. Although dehydration will play a part in your hangover, there is no science confirming that it alone is responsible for your symptoms the next day.
“A hangover is more than just dehydration,” says Dr Adams. “After heavy alcohol consumption we see inflammation of the stomach and intestines, and an imbalance of electrolyte or body salt. Together these contribute to the symptoms, and a glass of water won’t resolve them.”
In recent years, a number of hangover remedies have emerged on to the market, some containing the herbal compound dihydromyricetin, shown in studies to sober up rats immediately, but all purporting to lessen the agony of a post-drink binge. Do they work? They might help to alleviate some of the symptoms, such as dehydration and loss of body salts in some people, says Johnson, but none will accelerate full recovery. “Nothing has yet been shown to help people overcome the impairments in cognitive functioning — such as concentration, memory and psychomotor performance — that are factors of a hangover,” he says.
Ultimately, trial and error is the best route to finding out what works for you after a night on the tiles. “Some people will find they respond to electrolyte drinks, others to painkillers and a banana, and you will need rest and recovery,” Johnson says. “Then it is just a matter of waiting for alcohol to leave your system and normality to resume.”
It’s office party time and the self-styled ‘Red-Nosed Regional Sales Managers’ are out to have a good time and shake off all the rumours about New Year redundancies. Snoop on the instant messages of Gail, the ambitious deputy, and her team
(BBG) No more dinners with female colleagues. Don’t sit next to them on flights. Book hotel rooms on different floors. Avoid one-on-one meetings.
In fact, as a wealth adviser put it, just hiring a woman these days is “an unknown risk.” What if she took something he said the wrong way?
Across Wall Street, men are adopting controversial strategies for the #MeToo era and, in the process, making life even harder for women.
Call it the Pence Effect, after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who has said he avoids dining alone with any woman other than his wife. In finance, the overarching impact can be, in essence, gender segregation.
Interviews with more than 30 senior executives suggest many are spooked by #MeToo and struggling to cope. “It’s creating a sense of walking on eggshells,” said David Bahnsen, a former managing director at Morgan Stanley who’s now an independent adviser overseeing more than $1.5 billion.
This is hardly a single-industry phenomenon, as men across the country check their behavior at work, to protect themselves in the face of what they consider unreasonable political correctness — or to simply do the right thing. The upshot is forceful on Wall Street, where women are scarce in the upper ranks. The industry has also long nurtured a culture that keeps harassment complaints out of the courts and public eye, and has so far avoided a mega-scandal like the one that has engulfed Harvey Weinstein.
Now, more than a year into the #MeToo movement — with its devastating revelations of harassment and abuse in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and beyond — Wall Street risks becoming more of a boy’s club, rather than less of one.
“Women are grasping for ideas on how to deal with it, because it is affecting our careers,” said Karen Elinski, president of the Financial Women’s Association and a senior vice president at Wells Fargo & Co. “It’s a real loss.”
There’s a danger, too, for companies that fail to squash the isolating backlash and don’t take steps to have top managers be open about the issue and make it safe for everyone to discuss it, said Stephen Zweig, an employment attorney with FordHarrison.
“If men avoid working or traveling with women alone, or stop mentoring women for fear of being accused of sexual harassment,” he said, “those men are going to back out of a sexual harassment complaint and right into a sex discrimination complaint.”
While the new personal codes for dealing with #MeToo have only just begun to ripple, the shift is already palpable, according to the people interviewed, who declined to be named. They work for hedge funds, law firms, banks, private equity firms and investment-management firms.
For obvious reasons, few will talk openly about the issue. Privately, though, many of the men interviewed acknowledged they’re channeling Pence, saying how uneasy they are about being alone with female colleagues, particularly youthful or attractive ones, fearful of the rumor mill or of, as one put it, the potential liability.
A manager in infrastructure investing said he won’t meet with female employees in rooms without windows anymore; he also keeps his distance in elevators. A late-40-something in private equity said he has a new rule, established on the advice of his wife, an attorney: no business dinner with a woman 35 or younger.
The changes can be subtle but insidious, with a woman, say, excluded from casual after-work drinks, leaving male colleagues to bond, or having what should be a private meeting with a boss with the door left wide open.
‘Not That Hard’
On Wall Street as elsewhere, reactions to #MeToo can smack of paranoia, particularly given the industry’s history of protecting its biggest revenue generators.
“Some men have voiced concerns to me that a false accusation is what they fear,” said Zweig, the lawyer. “These men fear what they cannot control.”
There are as many or more men who are responding in quite different ways. One, an investment adviser who manages about 100 employees, said he briefly reconsidered having one-on-one meetings with junior women. He thought about leaving his office door open, or inviting a third person into the room.
Finally, he landed on the solution: “Just try not to be an asshole.”
That’s pretty much the bottom line, said Ron Biscardi, chief executive officer of Context Capital Partners. “It’s really not that hard.”
In January, as #MeToo was gathering momentum, Biscardi did away with the late-night, open-bar gathering he’d hosted for years in his penthouse suite during Context Capital’s annual conference at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. “Given the fact that women are in the minority at our events, we want to make sure that the environment is always welcoming and comfortable. We felt that eliminating the after-party was necessary to remain consistent with that goal.”
In this charged environment, the question is how the response to #MeToo might actually end up hurting women’s progress. Given the male dominance in Wall Street’s top jobs, one of the most pressing consequences for women is the loss of male mentors who can help them climb the ladder.
“There aren’t enough women in senior positions to bring along the next generation all by themselves,” said Lisa Kaufman, chief executive officer of LaSalle Securities. “Advancement typically requires that someone at a senior level knows your work, gives you opportunities and is willing to champion you within the firm. It’s hard for a relationship like that to develop if the senior person is unwilling to spend one-on-one time with a more junior person.”
Men have to step up, she said, and “not let fear be a barrier.”
(OBS) Fernando Medina subiu ao palco e, de jaleca colada ao peito, juntou-se aos chefs premiados no guia. Saiba mais sobre estes e outros pormenores da cerimónia que trouxe quatro estrelas novas a Portugal.
Fernando Medina, presidente da Câmara Municipal de Lisboa, está na primeira fila daquela que é a primeira gala do Guia Michelin, edição de 2019, a acontecer em Portugal. O local escolhido para a estreia nacional é o Pavilhão Carlos Lopes, voltado para o Parque Eduardo VII, no coração de Lisboa. Avançando uma hora no relógio, agora a passar das 20h, Fernando Medina está no palco, de jaleca branca vestida, entre os muitos chefs distinguidos, quatro deles portugueses — Sá Pessoa, com duas estrelas para o Alma, em pleno Chiado, e Pedro Almeida (Midori, Sintra), Óscar Gonçalves (G Pousada, Bragança) e António Loureiro (A Cozinha, Guimarães) com uma estrela cada. A noite é de festa, mais espanhola do que portuguesa, mas Lisboa está no centro da constelação.
Às 19h, hora prevista do começo da gala de atribuição das estrelas em Portugal e Espanha, a sala do pavilhão ainda está por compor. Focos de luz projetam um vermelho intenso nas cortinas que envolvem o ambiente. Centenas de cadeiras pretas, algumas ainda vazias, desfilam ao encontro do palco vermelho, vermelhão, com proliferantes “macarons” desenhados a branco — mais comummente conhecidos como “estrelas”. A sala está longe de ocupar a dimensão total do pavilhão, já habituado a receber eventos gastronómicos como o Peixe em Lisboa: atrás das cortinas estão dezenas de cozinheiros em preparos para, finda a entrega, começarem o serviço de jantar onde todos os estrelados de Lisboa apresentaram vários partos, tudo isto orientado pelo chef José Avillez, que, nesta edição, não chegou às três estrelas — mas já lá vamos.
Discursos formais, em português, castelhano e inglês, dão finalmente começo formal à cerimónia. O diretor da Michelin em Portugal, Nuno Ferreira, passa a palavra a Mayte Carreño, diretora comercial da marca, que num português esforçado e ligeiramente arrastado passa a palavra a Ana Godinho, secretária de Estado do Turismo, que, por sua vez, passa a palavra a Fernando Medina, cuja apresentação já é dispensável. Quase todos os intervenientes se repetem e reforçam os “dois anos de namoro” para que a gala chegasse a Portugal, depois de nove anos consecutivos no vizinho ibérico.
19h34. Cabe a Mayte Carreño começar a desvendar as novas estrelas para 2019 e Gwendal Poullennec, o homem que gere 32 guias pelo mundo fora, apertar a mão aos premiados, entregar-lhes um guia vermelho — certificando-se que o seguram junto ao peito — e tira uma fotografia na sua companhia. Se houver chefrepetente, como é o caso de Martín Berasategui, que recebeu duas novas estrelas Michelin (passa a somar, no total, 10 distinções), também o retrato é repetido. Cerca de 30 chefs são chamados ao palco ao longo da noite, num espetáculo contínuo de tira casaco, veste jaleca, segura guia, posa para fotografia e espera em pé pelo final.
Entre as muitas distinções atribuídas, destaca-se a vez em que Henrique Sá Pessoa é chamado ao palco — confirmando as especulações de muitos, incluindo as do Observador –, sendo aplaudido de pé por grande parte dos presentes, com gritos de apoio e abraços repetidos — sobretudo ao chef Sergi Arola. Sá Pessoa não pode despir o casaco. Chega, ao invés, de jaleca própria colada ao peito, sem nada por baixo, como faz questão de evidenciar num gesto descontraído que quebra o ritmo rigoroso q.b da entrega de estrelas. Vai a nova jaleca por cima da “velha”.
“‘Es lo que es’, como dizem os espanhóis”
A utilização da palavra “gala” para definir o evento da passada quarta-feira remete, aos mais incautos, para uma ideia de entusiasmo, de expectativa. “Se for como as de Hollywood, vai ser brutal”, comentavam duas jovens no caminho para o Pavilhão Carlos Lopes, antes de tudo começar. Existiam pessoas bem vestidas? Sim, claro. Viam-se luzes coloridas, projeções gigantes e outros adereços? Obviamente. Mas e o “espetáculo” em si? Esse, como já é comum em noites como esta, é tudo menos empolgante. As quase duas horas de apresentação só ganham pujança quando se ouve o nome daqueles por quem se torce mais e, no caso português então, isso continua a não acontecer muitas vezes.
“Tenho pena que não tivessem havido mais, principalmente três estrelas e duas estrelas. O trabalho do João Rodrigues, do Alexandre Silva, do José Avillez, do Hans, do Koschina… Haviam muitos restaurantes que podia dar um passo para cima, mas o guia é mesmo assim, imprevisível”, disse ao Observador Henrique Sá Pessoa, um dos sortudos da noite — sim, porque ganhar uma estrela em português parece cada vez mais um ato de sorte e não de mérito –, que viu o seu Alma subir mais um patamar na hierarquia do guia, fazendo dessa forma com que a rua Anchieta, no Chiado, passasse a ser a mais estrelada do país. De um lado estão as traseiras do Belcanto e do outro, mesmo em frente, a porta principal do projeto de Sá Pessoa.
Lamentações à parte (porque elas existirão sempre), não se deve esquecer que Portugal, a partir de essa quarta-feira, ganhou mais três novas entradas no guia. No final do anúncio estrelado, toda a sala se levantou e, como de costume, a palavra foi dos chefs. Pedro Almeida, do Midori, em Sintra, foi um dos primeiros a cruzar-se com o Observador — ainda nem tinha saído completamente do palco — e, de sorriso rasgadíssimo afirmou que tinha acabado de realizar um sonho. “É muito bom, muito bom estar no meio destas pessoas todas que percebem montanhas de cozinha. Quem começa a trabalhar na cozinha quer sempre ganhar uma estrela Michelin”, atirou o chef que há vários anos tem unido Japão e Portugal num dos conceitos gastronómicos mais criativos e bem pensados do pais. Depois de satisfazer a curiosidade de uma jornalista espanhola que lhe perguntara o nome do seu restaurante, ‘Baloo’, como é conhecido entre amigos, destacou ainda que apesar da felicidade de ganhar a sua primeira estrela, isso não é motivo para se deixar deslumbrar. “[A estrela] é só um reconhecimento por aquilo que fazemos e pelo nosso valor. De resto acho que não muda nada, continuamos a ser as mesmas pessoas, a trabalhar com as mesmas paixão e força”, garantiu.
O mesmo Henrique Sá Pessoa que já foi citado há umas linhas atrás foi completamente absorvido pelos jornalistas portugueses — que era bastantes — neste momento pós-vitória. À semelhança do que acontece nos jogos de futebol, quando no final das partidas a comunicação social tenta arrancar declarações aos intervenientes, também aqui o chef do Alma foi requisitado uma e outra vez. Ao fundo da sala, no lado oposto ao palco, parou para explicar que ainda estava “meio na lua” com o que lhe tinha acabado de acontecer. Contudo, isso não o impediu de destacar o trabalho e importância da sua equipa neste triunfo: “Eu tive a sorte de ser escolhido, e muito mérito é devido á minha equipa, tivemos um ano muito duro, de muito trabalho e exigência. Senti que evoluímos muito, principalmente nestes últimos sete meses. Fico muito contente de poder partilhar esta conquista com eles.” Uma das particularidades da sua vitória foi o facto de ter surgido de forma tão célere, quando comparado com a de outros cozinheiros — só o seu vizinho da frente, José Avillez, conseguiu a mesma proeza de em dois anos passar de um para dois “macarons”. Sobre essa ascensão meteórica Sá Pessoa destacou alguns elementos que podem ter feito a diferença — “O Alma tem uma coisa boa: somos muito consistentes. Ao mesmo tempo sinto que evoluímos muito em aspetos como o serviço de sala e de vinhos. A equipa de cozinha cresceu, o menu também.” — mas no final assume que este género de coisas nunca são garantidas. “Acho que fomos dando passos no sentido da segunda estrela mas acho que é tudo muito imprevisível. Todos os anos há alegrias, tristezas e mais uma vez tenho pena que o João Rodrigues, o Alexandre Silva, o Zé Avillez e o Hans não tenha tido mais alegrias hoje, mas pronto. Es lo que es, como dizem os espanhóis.”
A boa disposição reinou entre todos. João Rodrigues, do Feitoria, aparece à esquerda, entre Óscar Gonçalves e Alexandre Silva, que está à direita.
De todos os vencedores da noite, os dois já referidos são os que mais normalmente chamam à atenção do público. Se bem que a visibilidade de Sá Pessoa se destaque mais da de Pedro, nenhuma das duas se compara sequer aos “underdogs” que viram o seu esforço premiado. “Não sou chef, sou o Óscar!”, atirou o líder da cozinha do G Pousada, o restaurante de Bragança que num instante saltou para as bocas do mundo, quando foi abordado pelo Observador. O clima na sala continuava fervilhante — se bem que alguns já se tinham pirado para a zona dos comes e bebes — mas Óscar Gonçalves parecia mais efusivo que tudo isso junto. “Ainda estou em êxtase, a viver o momento que não é só meu, atenção! Isto é de uma grande equipa que tenho atrás de mim, do meu irmão, dos meus pais, de toda a minha equipa de cozinha, de sala, de receção. Isto é um trabalho de equipa! Uma pessoa só não consegue! Quero agradecer deixar o meu ‘obrigado’ a todas essas pessoas e vamos continuar a caminhar juntos.” — sempre humilde e com os pés bem assentes na terra, Óscar falou do nervosismo da passada semana, quando muita gente o apontavam como vencedor certo da primeira estrela, e terminou falando da sua Bragança, a terra: “Conseguir fazer de Bragança um destino gastronómico era algo de muito bom.”
Foi precisamente sobre a importância desta aparente descentralização do guia em Portugal que falou António Loureiro, o chef d’A Cozinha, em Guimarães, que também foi premido. No seu jeito meio discreto e contido, o vencedor do Chefe Cozinheiro do Ano 2014 assumiu que não contava receber já a distinção, contudo, sempre trabalharam com esse objetivo em vista. Vencer foi algo de “fantástico, uma sensação espetacular”, mas não era algo com que tivesse “a contar já”, apesar de assumir que sempre teve “a ambição e vontade de lá chegar.” Sobre a descentralização afirmou que “se as cozinhas conseguirem acompanhar a potencialidade dos produtos que existem à sua volta”, faz todo o sentido “que existam mais estrelas espalhadas pelo país e não só nos grandes centros.”
Comer, beber, adeus e um queijo
Depois da tempestade vem a bonança, costuma-se dizer. No Pavilhão Carlos Lopes, depois de ter acalmado o tufão de entusiasmo e novidade que o anúncio das estrelas trouxe, era preciso celebrar — e foi isso que aconteceu. No átrio e alas laterais deste histórico edifício estavam espalhados os tais poisos daquilo que, teoricamente, representa o melhor da gstronomia em Lisboa e arredores. De um lado, a equipa do Fortaleza do Guincho trazia o mar consigo e apresentou-o na forma de deliciosa massada de peixe que vinha numa concha crocante. Mais ou lado, ainda na mesma faixa litoral lisboeta, Sergi Arola apresentava alguns clássicos do seu LAB como a Sardinha viajante, mas também outra iguarias como a estaladiça almofada recheada com creme de peixe e forrada com pele de atum, influências cabo verdianas trazidas pelo sub-chef Vladimir, que se cimentou como braço direito do cozinheiro espanhol.
No meio destes dois poisos a multidão parecia multiplicar-se cada vez mais. Fatos e gravatas roçavam constantemente com jalecas e aventais, ora sujos (os dos cozinheiros que estavam a trabalhar) ora resplandecentes (dos vencedores da noite). Portugueses que já tivessem assistido a cerimónias anteriores percebia claramente que os espanhóis estavam muito mais contidos do que é normal quando a festa é feita em sua casa, de tal forma que até paravam para contemplar paredes de azulejos — “Mira, que bonito!”, disse uma rapariga ao jovem que acompanhava enquanto olhavam para um moral azul e branco. No geral, o ambiente estava morno, apesar do do frio e chuva que se sentia lá fora.
Numa sala mais afastada da entrada, no topo esquerdo do edifício, Alexandre Silva dava a conhecer as suas criações e teve sempre a sua banca concorrida — claramente valeu a pena fechar o seu Loco estas noites, quanto mais não fosse para que o cozinheiro espanhol Diego Guerrero reencontrasse a equipa com quem trabalhou, num dos jantares a quatro mãos que Silva tem vindo a promover. Mal se viram, desfizeram-se em abraços.
“Tenho tanta pena de só ter chegado hoje e de me ir embora já amanhã… Gostava muito de provar mais coisas por cá!”, comentou uma jornalista espanhola que aguardava para ir à casa de banho. De copo na mão, lamentava já ter acabado a açorda com lavagante que provara no posto de Joachim Koerper, o alemão que há décadas orienta os desígnios do Eleven, em Lisboa. “Está demasiada fila, logo vou lá, se já estiver mais calmo”, rematou.
Os ponteiros do relógio iam andando e o aproximar das 22h foi fazendo com que alguns convidados fossem desmobilizando, quiçá encorajados pelo mau tempo que se fazia sentir. Como é hábito nestes eventos, no final é sempre oferecido a todos os convidados uma lembrança com algo um produto típico da região onde a gala se desenrola. O chouriço que foi dado em 2016, quando foi Girona o palco do evento, serviu de exemplo inteligente para provar que existe mais de uma maneira de deixar uma cidade na cabeça de alguém. Já foi várias vezes repetida a importância de ter a gala a acontecer em Lisboa, ela é de facto uma montra para as potencialidades gastronómicas (e não só) de um país. Quando chegou a altura de abandonar o Pavilhão, portanto, levantou-se a dúvida: o que seria o presente de agradecimento? “Aqui tem, muito obrigado!”, atirou a rapariga jovem, loura, que geria a entrega dos “miminhos”. Quando surge uma aberta e foi possível perceber o que vinha no saco preto que todos os que abandonaram o Parque Eduardo VII tinham na mão, a desilusão.
A já clássica fotografia de família, tirada depois de se anunciarem todas as novidades.
Por um lado, uma das prendas era um queijo amanteigado de ovelha, tudo certo. Acontece que vinha também um saco de café… italiano. “Não tinham nada mais português para oferecer aos espanhóis, principalmente, pois não?”, ouviu-se na fila. O argumento pode parecer débil mas, infelizmente, não deixa de ser verdadeiro. Quando toda a gente fala na importância de um evento desta dimensão acontecer em território luso, não devia haver mais iniciativa em promover o que é nosso? Também existem cafés portugueses…
Se a forma como Portugal é negligenciado já prejudica a visibilidade nacional, atitudes menos criativas como estas acabam por enfraquecer ainda mais o desejo de mostrar o que é nosso. Como se consegue fazer isso quando não há quase nada típico português no saco que é oferecido a todos os jornalistas espanhóis (e não só)? Decisões, decisões… Numa escala maior, essa noite de estrelas serviu para, principalmente, pôr no mapa certas áreas que até muitos portugueses ainda não devem conhecer, como Guimarães, Sintra ou Bragança. Por outro continuam a existir demasiados e aparentes motivos para não termos ganho tudo o que merecíamos. Ao menos deu para no final da noite usar aquela expressão — tão típica de Portugal: “Ora então, adeus e um queijo”.
(OBS) O Guia foi mais longe e fugiu à capital: os restaurantes G Pousada, em Bragança, e A Cozinha, em Guimarães, ascenderam à constelação Michelin. Segunda estrela para Sá Pessoa
O Alma, de Henrique Sá Pessoa, é o novo restaurante português a ser distinguido pela “cozinha excecional” e a “merecer o desvio”. O projeto que abriu em soft opening em setembro de 2015 acaba de arrecadar a segunda estrela Michelin, igualando-se ao Belcanto de José Avillez, até agora o único estabelecimento na capital a ser consagrado com dois “macarons”.
A gala desta quarta-feira, que apresentou a edição de 2019 do reputado — mas também polémico — Guia Michelin, realizou-se pela primeira vez em Portugal e ocupou o Pavilhão Carlos Lopes, no centro da capital. O evento ficou marcado por três novos restaurantes com uma estrela: um deles é o Midori, em Sintra, que passa, assim, a ser o primeiro espaço de cozinha luso-nipónica no país a entrar para o universo das constelações.
Em 2019, a vitória é sobretudo da descentralização. Fora de centros mais urbanos, o guia optou por estrelar o G Pousada, em Bragança, que está sob a direção dos irmãos Gonçalves e aposta na “valorização da cozinha moderna da região de Trás-os-Montes”, tal como se lê em comunicado, e o restaurante A Cozinha, em Guimarães, aos comandos do chef António Loureiro.
Dois novos restaurantes portugueses entraram ainda na categoria Bib Gourmand, que destaca a “melhor relação qualidade-preço”, e outros sete figuram como Prato Michelin, atribuição que significa “cozinha de qualidade”. São eles a Tasca do Zé Tuga, em Bragança, e o Avenida, em Lagos.
Ao contrário do que aconteceu em novembro de 2016, considerando o Guia para 2017 que viu 9 estrelas serem atribuídas a Portugal, na mais recente edição não houve qualquer “chuva de estrelas”. Ainda assim, os resultados mostram-se mais favoráveis em relação ao ano passado, quando apenas dois restaurantes receberam estrelas.
De Espanha, bons ventos e três estrelas
O Dani García, em Marbella, foi o único restaurante em Espanha a receber três estrelas Michelin. E apesar das novidades ao nível das duas estrelas (mais três restaurantes do que na edição anterior) e de uma estrela (mais 22 estabelecimentos), o grande destaque vai para o emblemático chef Martín Berasategui, que conseguiu incorporar mais dois restaurantes na lista de estabelecimentos com estrelas — chegou, assim, às 10 estrelas Michelin e consolida ainda mais o estatuto de chef espanhol com mais galardoado pelo guia.
De referir que 1.447 restaurantes espanhóis integram o Guia Michelin nas suas diferentes categorias, contra apenas 167 estabelecimentos em Portugal. Por outro lado, se em terras lusas não há qualquer estrela suprimida, o mesmo não se pode dizer em Espanha, país onde 13 restaurantes perderam os seus “macarons” por completo (à exceção de El Club Allard, que baixou de duas para uma estrela).
Lista dos restaurantes premiados (* indica novidade em relação ao ano passado):
Midori (Sintra, chef Pedro Almeida)*
G Pousada (Bragança, chef Óscar Gonçalves)*
A Cozinha (Guimarães, chef António Loureiro)*
Antiqvvm (Porto, chef Vítor Matos)
Bon Bon (Carvoeiro, chef Louis Anjos)
Casa de Chá da Boa Nova (Leça da Palmeira, chef Rui Paula)
Eleven (Lisboa, chef Joachim Koerper)
Feitoria (Lisboa, chef João Rodrigues)
Fortaleza do Guincho (Cascais)
Henrique Leis (Almancil, chef Henrique Leis)
LAB by Sergi Arola (Sintra, chefs Sergi Arola)
L’AND (Montemor-o-Novo, chef Miguel Laffan)
Largo do Paço (Amarante, chef Tiago Bonito)
Loco (Lisboa, chef Alexandre Silva)
Pedro Lemos (Porto, chef Pedro Lemos)
São Gabriel (Almancil, chef Leonel Pereira)
William (Funchal, chefs Luís Pestana e Joachim Koerper)
Willie’s (Vilamoura, chef Willie Wurger)
Vista (Portimão, chef João Oliveira)
Gusto (Almancil, chef Heinz Beck)
Alma (Lisboa, chef Henrique Sá Pessoa)*
Belcanto (Lisboa, chef José Avillez)
Il Gallo d’Oro (Funchal, chef Benoît Sinthon)
Ocean (Alporchinhos, chef Hans Neuner)
The Yeatman (Vila Nova de Gaia, chef Ricardo Costa)
(BBG) Battle lines blur over labeling lab-grown substitutes as Big Meat invests in the startups making them.
Lab-grown. Cell-based. Clean. In vitro. Cultured. Fake. Artificial. Synthetic. Meat 2.0. These are all terms that refer to the same kind of food, one that’s not even on the market yet.
But the companies making it have already raised hundreds of millions of dollars worth of investor cash and earned the close attention of U.S. regulators. Rather than methodically slaughtering animals, this industry uses science to grow what it claims is essentially the same thing as traditional meat. Given the planetary damage wrought by mass-market animal husbandry, such cellular agriculture is seen as the future of meat.
But what to name it, and getting people to eat it, is another matter altogether.
Crucial to public acceptance of any consumer product, of course, is branding. But no one can agree what to call this stuff. Originally, there was a push for the label “clean meat.” This was seen as a better alternative to the more clinical “lab-grown meat,” said Bruce Friedrich, co-founder and executive director of the Good Food Institute, which lobbies for these new products.
But then the traditional meat industry weighed in, saying the cellular version shouldn’t be called meat at all. “We’re using the term ‘lab-produced cultured protein,’” said Dan Kovich, deputy director of science and technology at the National Pork Producers Council. Other groups representing meat producers, including the North American Meat Institute, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Chicken Council, also objected to the “clean meat” label.
The U.S. meat industry represents almost $200 billion in sales, according to one industry estimate, and spends millions of dollars annually to keep Washington in its corner. Investing in this new sector could be giving it more leverage in the debate over what to call the product and how it should be labeled for consumers.
Now, other terms seem to be gaining traction, both in the U.S. and abroad. Mark Post, co-founder of Dutch company Mosa Meats, told AgFunder in July that he doesn’t use the “clean meat” label. “It can’t translate into Dutch, French or German, and it kind of suggests that current meat is dirty,” he said. A spokeswoman for the company told Bloomberg the term is “too antagonistic to industry.”
Meat producers have said “clean meat” is offensive, said Sarah Lucas, head of strategy & communications for Mosa Meat. Investors, meanwhile, “haven’t particularly said that they would like us to use one term over another,” she said.
In August, cellular agriculture company Memphis Meats (which counts among its financial backers meat giants Cargill and Tyson) used the term “cell-based” in a letter sent to the White House. The co-signer of the letter was none other the Meat Institute, the meat industry’s main lobbying arm.
“We thought it was reasonable and far better than ‘clean meat,’ which is inappropriate and inaccurate,” Eric Mittenthal of the Meat Institute told Bloomberg. Cell-based is “clear, factual and inclusive,” Eric Schulze, vice president of product and regulation at Memphis Meats, told federal regulators last month during a two-day meeting in Washington. “It is distinct from plant-based proteins and animal-based meats. It differentiates our products while also clearly conveying that cell-based meat is, in fact, real meat.”
JUST Inc., which said it may make its first commercial sale of a cultured chicken product this year, is in the “cultured” camp when it comes to names. Labels should include “a statement of identity which indicates that the product is cultured, as well as the species from which the product is derived,” Peter Licari, chief technology officer, said at the meeting.
Friedrich’s opposition notwithstanding, Good Food Institute Policy Director Jessica Almy told Bloomberg her organization has rethought its position on how to talk about the products, too. “It feels like ‘clean meat’ doesn’t resonate with everybody right now,” she said. Others see this budding consensus in a more cynical light.
“I think the meat industry has done something very clever,” said Sarah Sorscher, deputy director of regulatory affairs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer advocacy group. By investing in companies such as Memphis Meats, it now has a voice from within its own aspiring competition. “They’re not up against the meat industry,” she said of meat substitute companies. “Theyare the meat industry.
At the meeting last month, officials of the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture listened as industry representatives chewed over the labeling issue. It’s important to protect consumers with transparent labeling, Almy testified, adding that there should be some flexibility in labeling requirements. Meanwhile, Danni Beer of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association said new processes should be spelled out explicitly.
Brian Spears of New Age Meats argued that it would be dishonest to label meat substitutes as anything other than meat, since it’s really the same thing.
“This conversation is feeling more and more premature,” said Tyler Lobdell, a food-law fellow at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, who told Bloomberg the group seeks to ensure that the meat industry doesn’t hamper consumer options. “We just don’t know what the product looks like, so it’s hard to say what’s misleading when there are no products available.”
Barbara Kowalcyk, a professor in the department of food science and technology at Ohio State University, said there are still too many unknowns about the products and how they’re made—including food safety risks—for regulators to make any decisions.
“When I asked questions, there weren’t good responses, and that suggests we’re not ready for prime time,” she said. “Before we put it in the marketplace, we need to know the answers.”
One look at the American food landscape reveals that organic sales are outpacing everything else at the grocery store. Restaurant menus are highlighting the locality and diet of the animals they serve. Consumers are hungry for more natural foods and willing to pay more for them.
Key to the success of any new “meat” product, however, is overcoming what’s colloquially called the “ick” factor, and labeling is a big part of that. Almy contends that consumers aren’t overly concerned with the provenance of their meat (or its substitute). “I don’t think most consumers care how their meat is produced,” she said. “There’s a strong desire to not have requirements about distinguishing the origin of these products.”
Sorscher of CSPI called this approach a “horrible mistake.” Using the example of widespread consumer mistrust of genetically modified organisms in food, she predicted “there would be such a backlash from consumers, it would ultimately undermine these products.” Indeed, only 5 percent of Americans think such meat substitutes should be labeled as “meat” without further explanation, according to a survey conducted by Consumers Union, which has also called for more transparency.
“The labeling issue surrounding products of cellular agriculture is fundamentally a public policy question,” said Robert Hibbert, a partner at law firm Morgan Lewis who focuses on food and agriculture regulations. Because the FDA has allowed food companies wiggle room around identity standards (think “soy milk”) while also bringing enforcement actions when it sees potential for confusion, Hibbert said, it’s hard to predict how these labels will be treated.
Even those rooting for meat substitutes said consumers deserve to know what they’re getting. Jessica Resler is creative director at Participation Agency, an experiential marketing firm. A vegan who wants to see all slaughterhouses closed, she said a failure to disclose the meat’s origins will anger consumers.
Still, Resler said. “It has to be described on labels, for sure.”
Eventually, consumers will develop their own shorthand for meat substitutes, for good or for ill. “The mass-adopted term is going to be decided by the public.” Nik Contis, a branding expert at PS212, said.
Apple and its CEO have long touted personal privacy, distancing themselves from recent, growing scandals among tech companies — but the comments from Cook are some of the strongest to date.
CEO Tim Cook said the business of selling ads against personal data has become a “data industrial complex” and stopped just short of naming tech giants like Facebook and Google in his criticisms.
Apple backs federal privacy laws in the US, says Tim Cook Apple CEO Tim Cook blasted Silicon Valley tech companies and their abuse of user privacy in a keynote address at a privacy conference in Brussels Wednesday, saying personal information is being “weaponized against us with military efficiency.”
“Every day, billions of dollars change hands, and countless decisions are made, on the basis of our likes and dislikes, our friends and families, our relationships and conversations. Our wishes and fears, our hopes and dreams,” Cook said. “These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded, and sold.”
“Your profile is then run through algorithms that can serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into hardened convictions,” Cook said.
Apple and its chief executive have long touted personal privacy, distancing themselves from recent, growing scandals among tech companies — but the comments from Cook are some of the strongest to date.
He said the business of selling ads against personal data has become a “data industrial complex,” but stopped short of naming tech giants like Facebook and Google in his criticisms. However, Facebook and Google are the two largest companies that make money selling ads the way Cook described.
“We shouldn’t sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance. And these stockpiles of personal data serve only to enrich the companies that collect them,” Cook said. “This should make us very uncomfortable. It should unsettle us.”
GDPR: Why everyone is freaking out over four letters
Cook’s comments at the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC) received warm applause in the Belgian capital.
Many of the world’s data protection regulators gathered in Brussels — a city increasingly at the forefront of tech regulation — as the conference coincided with the introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) earlier this year.
GDPR refers to a piece of legislation that aims to give consumers control of personal data collected by tech companies. It came into force in May, just weeks after the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal enveloped Facebook — and raised the profile of data protection as a consumer need.
The scandal also prompted governments worldwide to finally consider taking action against an often-overlooked area of law. But, U.S. lawmakers are seen as lagging behind their European peers.
Apple’s chief executive lauded the “successful implementation” of GDPR on Wednesday. And, in a thinly-veiled message to tech behemoths stateside, Cook insisted U.S.-based companies had no need to fear more stringent privacy regulation laws.
“This crisis is real. It is not imagined, or exaggerated, or crazy. And those of us who believe in technology’s potential for good must not shrink from this moment,” Cook said.
“We at Apple are in full support of a comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States. There, and everywhere, it should be rooted in four essential rights,” Cook said — the right to have personal data minimized, the right to knowledge, the right to access, and the right to security, he said.
It is an honor to be here with you today in this grand hall, a room that represents what is possible when people of different backgrounds, histories and philosophies come together to build something bigger than themselves.
I am deeply grateful to our hosts. I want to recognize Ventsislav Karadjov for his service and leadership. And it’s a true privilege to be introduced by his co-host, a statesman I admire greatly, Giovanni Butarelli.
Now Italy has produced more than its share of great leaders and public servants. Machiavelli taught us how leaders can get away with evil deeds, and Dante showed us what happens when they get caught.
Giovanni has done something very different. Through his values, his dedication, his thoughtful work, Giovanni, his predecessor Peter Hustinx — and all of you — have set an example for the world. We are deeply grateful.
We need you to keep making progress — now more than ever. Because these are transformative times. Around the world, from Copenhagen to Chennai to Cupertino, new technologies are driving breakthroughs in humanity’s greatest common projects. From preventing and fighting disease, to curbing the effects of climate change, to ensuring every person has access to information and economic opportunity.
At the same time, we see vividly — painfully — how technology can harm rather than help. Platforms and algorithms that promised to improve our lives can actually magnify our worst human tendencies. Rogue actors and even governments have taken advantage of user trust to deepen divisions, incite violence and even undermine our shared sense of what is true and what is false.
This crisis is real. It is not imagined, or exaggerated, or crazy. And those of us who believe in technology’s potential for good must not shrink from this moment.
Now, more than ever — as leaders of governments, as decision-makers in business and as citizens — we must ask ourselves a fundamental question: What kind of world do we want to live in?
I’m here today because we hope to work with you as partners in answering this question.
At Apple, we are optimistic about technology’s awesome potential for good. But we know that it won’t happen on its own. Every day, we work to infuse the devices we make with the humanity that makes us. As I’ve said before, technology is capable of doing great things. But it doesn’t want to do great things. It doesn’t want anything. That part takes all of us.
That’s why I believe that our missions are so closely aligned. As Giovanni puts it, we must act to ensure that technology is designed and developed to serve humankind, and not the other way around.
We at Apple believe that privacy is a fundamental human right. But we also recognize that not everyone sees things as we do. In a way, the desire to put profits over privacy is nothing new.
As far back as 1890, future Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis published an article in the Harvard Law Review, making the case for a “Right to Privacy” in the United States.
He warned: “Gossip is no longer the resource of the idle and of the vicious, but has become a trade.”
Today that trade has exploded into a data industrial complex. Our own information, from the everyday to the deeply personal, is being weaponized against us with military efficiency.
Every day, billions of dollars change hands and countless decisions are made on the basis of our likes and dislikes, our friends and families, our relationships and conversations, our wishes and fears, our hopes and dreams.
These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded and sold.
Taken to its extreme, this process creates an enduring digital profile and lets companies know you better than you may know yourself. Your profile is then run through algorithms that can serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into hardened convictions. If green is your favorite color, you may find yourself reading a lot of articles — or watching a lot of videos — about the insidious threat from people who like orange.
In the news almost every day, we bear witness to the harmful, even deadly, effects of these narrowed worldviews.
We shouldn’t sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance. And these stockpiles of personal data serve only to enrich the companies that collect them.
This should make us very uncomfortable. It should unsettle us. And it illustrates the importance of our shared work and the challenges still ahead of us.
Fortunately this year you’ve shown the world that good policy and political will can come together to protect the rights of everyone. We should celebrate the transformative work of the European institutions tasked with the successful implementation of the GDPR. We also celebrate the new steps taken, not only here in Europe, but around the world. In Singapore, Japan, Brazil, New Zealand and many more nations, regulators are asking tough questions and crafting effective reforms.
It is time for the rest of the world — including my home country — to follow your lead.
We at Apple are in full support of a comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States. There and everywhere, it should be rooted in four essential rights: First, the right to have personal data minimized. Companies should challenge themselves to de-identify customer data — or not to collect it in the first place. Second, the right to knowledge. Users should always know what data is being collected and what it is being collected for. This is the only way to empower users to decide what collection is legitimate and what isn’t. Anything less is a sham. Third, the right to access. Companies should recognize that data belongs to users, and we should all make it easy for users to get a copy of, correct and delete their personal data. And fourth, the right to security. Security is foundational to trust and all other privacy rights.
Now, there are those who would prefer I hadn’t said all of that. Some oppose any form of privacy legislation. Others will endorse reform in public, and then resist and undermine it behind closed doors.
They may say to you, “Our companies will never achieve technology’s true potential if they are constrained with privacy regulation.” But this notion isn’t just wrong, it is destructive.
Technology’s potential is, and always must be, rooted in the faith people have in it, in the optimism and creativity that it stirs in the hearts of individuals, in its promise and capacity to make the world a better place.
It’s time to face facts. We will never achieve technology’s true potential without the full faith and confidence of the people who use it.
At Apple, respect for privacy — and a healthy suspicion of authority — have always been in our bloodstream. Our first computers were built by misfits, tinkerers and rebels — not in a laboratory or a board room, but in a suburban garage. We introduced the Macintosh with a famous TV ad channeling George Orwell’s 1984 — a warning of what can happen when technology becomes a tool of power and loses touch with humanity.
And way back in 2010, Steve Jobs said in no uncertain terms: “Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for, in plain language, and repeatedly.”
It’s worth remembering the foresight and courage it took to make that statement. When we designed this device we knew it could put more personal data in your pocket than most of us keep in our homes. And there was enormous pressure on Steve and Apple to bend our values and to freely share this information. But we refused to compromise. In fact, we’ve only deepened our commitment in the decade since.
From hardware breakthroughs that encrypt fingerprints and faces securely — and only — on your device, to simple and powerful notifications that make clear to every user precisely what they’re sharing and when they are sharing it.
We aren’t absolutists, and we don’t claim to have all the answers. Instead, we always try to return to that simple question: What kind of world do we want to live in?
At every stage of the creative process, then and now, we engage in an open, honest and robust ethical debate about the products we make and the impact they will have. That’s just a part of our culture.
We don’t do it because we have to. We do it because we ought to. The values behind our products are as important to us as any feature.
We understand that the dangers are real — from cyber-criminals to rogue nation states. We’re not willing to leave our users to fend for themselves. And we’ve shown we’ll defend those principles when challenged.
Those values — that commitment to thoughtful debate and transparency — they’re only going to get more important. As progress speeds up, these things should continue to ground us and connect us, first and foremost, to the people we serve.
Artificial Intelligence is one area I think a lot about. Clearly it’s on the minds of many of my peers as well.
At its core, this technology promises to learn from people individually to benefit us all. Yet advancing AI by collecting huge personal profiles is laziness, not efficiency. For artificial intelligence to be truly smart, it must respect human values, including privacy.
If we get this wrong, the dangers are profound.
We can achieve both great artificial intelligence and great privacy standards. It’s not only a possibility, it is a responsibility.
In the pursuit of artificial intelligence, we should not sacrifice the humanity, creativity and ingenuity that define our human intelligence.
And at Apple, we never will.
In the mid-19th century, the great American writer Henry David Thoreau found himself so fed up with the pace and change of industrial society that he moved to a cabin in the woods by Walden Pond.
Call it the first digital cleanse.
Yet even there, where he hoped to find a bit of peace, he could hear a distant clatter and whistle of a steam engine passing by. “We do not ride on the railroad,” he said. “It rides upon us.”
Those of us who are fortunate enough to work in technology have an enormous responsibility.
It is not to please every grumpy Thoreau out there. That’s an unreasonable standard, and we’ll never meet it.
We are responsible, however, for recognizing that the devices we make and the platforms we build have real, lasting, even permanent effects on the individuals and communities who use them.
We must never stop asking ourselves, what kind of world do we want to live in?
The answer to that question must not be an afterthought, it should be our primary concern.
We at Apple can — and do — provide the very best to our users while treating their most personal data like the precious cargo that it is. And if we can do it, then everyone can do it.
Fortunately, we have your example before us.
Thank you for your work, for your commitment to the possibility of human-centered technology, and for your firm belief that our best days are still ahead of us.
Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft, has died aged 65 from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
He had revealed the disease’s return only two weeks ago, after previously being treated for it in 2009.
He had said he and his doctors were “optimistic” about treatment.
His Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said: “I am heartbroken by the passing of one of my oldest and dearest friends… Personal computing would not have existed without him.”
In a statement confirming his death on Monday afternoon, his sister Jody described the businessman as a “remarkable individual on every level”.
“Paul’s family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern. For all the demands on his schedule, there was always time for family and friends,” the statement said.
“At this time of loss and grief for us – and so many others – we are profoundly grateful for the care and concern he demonstrated every day.”
The businessman made his fortune alongside school friend Bill Gates, after they co-founded technology giant Microsoft in 1975.
“From our early days together at Lakeside School, through our partnership in the creation of Microsoft, to some of our joint philanthropic projects over the years, Paul was a true partner and dear friend,” said Mr Gates.
“He deserved much more time, but his contributions to the world of technology and philanthropy will live on for generations to come. I will miss him tremendously.”
He left the company in 1983 following his first diagnosis of the blood cancer Hodgkin’s disease, but recovered to become a successful venture capitalist with his media and communications investment firm, Vulcan that he set up in 1986.
Dave Lee, BBC North America technology reporter, San Francisco
I’ve spent Monday at the 25th anniversary of technology magazine Wired, an event celebrating the history of not just the magazine, but technology itself.
Paul Allen, who will be deeply missed by those here, was one of the industry’s giants. His name would have been on Wired’s pages many, many times.
Mr Allen had beaten cancer before, and he had appeared confident that he could beat it again. Those close to him said he was active, on emails at least, until the very end – offering advice, strategy and insight to the many, many people who looked to him for support.
Mr Allen didn’t always have a great relationship with his co-founder, Bill Gates. The pair had a well-publicised row over stock ownership. But they shared an awful lot in common, first as children learning programming, and then as adults donating billions to philanthropic efforts.
Mr Allen’s investment firm confirmed news of his death on Monday evening.
“Millions of people were touched by his generosity, his persistence in pursuit of a better world, and his drive to accomplish as much as he could with the time and resources at his disposal,” Vulcan CEO Bill Hilf said in a statement.
Despite a long love affair with red meat, more Americans than ever are turning toward plant-based imitators at restaurants and grocery stores. Not the hockey puck veggie burgers in the back of your freezer, mind you—these are plant-based patties engineered to mimic the taste of real meat.
But making vegetation seem like flesh has always been tough. To create something that satisfies carnivores, Silicon Valley decided you have to use the components of real meat—and that means heading to the laboratory. Whether consumers will readily devour burgers made out of cells cultivated in a bioreactor, though, is an open question.
As with most everything Americans buy, branding such cultured meat will be critical. That’s the takeaway from a study released last week by Faunalytics, an animal-advocacy group, and the Good Food Institute, a nonprofit alternative animal products industry group. “Lab-grown,” “in vitro” or “cultured meat” burgers are unlikely to fly out of the freezer case. But calling them “clean meat,” a term pushed by the nascent industry, may encourage new adopters.
There’s a growing movement to rein in the global industrial meat complex. Consumers in developing nations with more disposable income are increasingly turning to beef products, matching the perpetual U.S. appetite for a food whose mass production has had negative environmental and health consequences. But first, you have to sell it.
“Appetite appeal is everything,” said Nik Contis, a senior partner at PS212, a brand consultancy. He agrees that of all the potential names, “clean meat” is the most favorable of what are generally “dystopian” monikers. “Whatever they label this, ultimately it can become a sort of linchpin in communicating to consumers,” he explained. “You want ‘yes,’ not ‘yuck.’”
Two thirds of people in the Faunalytics survey said they’d try meat generated from cell cultures when described as “clean meat” and after hearing positive descriptions of the products. The term, according to the survey, “reduces feelings of disgust.” Negative messages about conventional meat also helped with consumer acceptance.
Research by other firms not associated with animal advocacy, however, has been less favorable. According to data from food and agriculture marketing firm Charleston|Orwig, only 3 percent of consumers expressed “no reservations” about eating such products, while 57 percent responded, “No, absolutely not.” A third survey, by food trends research firm Datassential, found that 68 percent said they were “not interested” in cultured meats.
There’s another hitch: The beef, pork and chicken industries insist that if it doesn’t come from an animal, it shouldn’t be called meat at all. Ironically, Big Meat companies such as Tyson Foods Inc. and Cargill Inc. are pouring millions of dollars into startups seeking to make meat and fish products without killing animals.
The technology, if it can reach the right price point and be brought to scale, is nothing less than the disruption of agriculture as we know it, said Will Sawyer, lead economist for animal protein at CoBank. Aside from impacting the meat industry, there would also be substantial effects on global grain production, which exists mainly to feed animals, and on water and air quality, he said. Neither Tyson nor Cargill responded to requests for comment.
One might think that the benefits that flow to the environment and animal welfare would be key selling points for cultured meat—but you would be wrong. While younger consumers are attuned to such issues, they are, overall, the least-selected reasons for cutting meat consumption, said Kyle Chamberlin from Datassential.
The growth of plant-based foods is instead largely driven by health concerns. Almost half of consumers are buying veggie burgers because they think it’s better for them, according to a March Datassential report. GFI said there are health benefits to cellular agriculture. Unlike conventional meat, these products will be free of fecal contamination and won’t require antibiotics, thereby not contributing to human antibiotic resistance. But neither of these are the typical health-related drivers, like avoiding saturating fat and cholesterol and losing weight.
Companies could also theoretically combine animal muscle and fat cells to create a healthier nutritional profile, but that’s “an open question at the moment,” according to Matt Ball of GFI. For example, there’s been discussion of making beef without heme iron, a component of meat which some studies found may be linked to cancer.
Andrew Noyes, a spokesman for JUST, a startup that makes both plant-based meat substitutes and cellular agriculture, said his company’s prototypes have nutritional profiles “very similar” to conventionally produced meat. (His company recently raised $220 million.)
While cultured meat faces several obstacles, cultured fish may be easier to introduce. Finless Foods co-founder Mike Selden said “clean” fish will have an advantage over the real thing in that it doesn’t contain mercury and plastic. On the other hand, the fatty acid chains that make real fish good for you come from algae consumption. So companies are working on putting that nutrition back into the product.
The future of cultured meat will depend on whether it tastes as good as the real thing, is convenient and has the right price, said Justin Kolbeck and Arye Elfenbein, cofounders of Wild Type, a San Francisco-based cellular agriculture company. Their startup pledges to make “delicious, accessible, and affordable meat and fish,” starting with cultured salmon and trout. The company said it’s also designing a production process that could reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses.
The Datassential report points to one way of increasing consumer interest in these products. Many respondents said they’d be more interested if they knew more about production methods and a lack of health risks. Selden of Finless Foods agreed, saying that the more consumers learn about cellular agriculture, the more accepting they become.
Others aren’t so sure.
“This is a vast unknown,” said Mark Gale, Charleston|Orwig’s chief executive. Companies “shouldn’t assume that just because they might be able to make it, that necessarily, there will be broad adoption.”
"The things we've seen..."
The Hollow Crown: Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part II
‘Love Island’ is more lucrative option than Oxbridge
Appearing on the show boosts your lifetime earnings more than Oxbridge degree, economists find
And that’s were we are today…
As you might imagine, this is not a great incentive for young people to study and work hard…
At the same degree of success i would argue that a young boy or girl is wealthier earlier in life than an academic…
And that is precisely were the problem is.
Francisco (Abouaf) de Curiel Marques Pereira
(TheWeek) Economists find that appearing on hit ITV show boosts your lifetime earnings more than attending Oxford or Cambridge.
A group of economists have revealed that appearing as a contestant on Love Island is more lucrative than a degree from Oxford or Cambridge.
Analysis by Frontier Economics, an economic consultancy, estimated that someone who appears on the show could expect to earn at least £1.1m from subsequent sponsorship and appearance fees, while completing an undergraduate Oxbridge degree would leave you with with a comparatively meagre average return of £815,000.
“If you’ve got an offer from Oxbridge and Love Island, you’re better off going on Love Island,” Kristine Dislere, who completed her masters degree in economics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, told the Financial Times.
In order to estimate how lucrative a stint on the show could be, Dislere and fellow economists made calculations based on a number of factors. These included the typical rates for sponsored Instagram posts, club appearances, how often they appear and how much their earnings will decrease every year.
According to Frontier Economics, contestants who have been in the villa for the full series can be expected to earn £2.3m over the next five years.
Winners can expect to earn more, but not much more. Their expected return is £2.4m.
Even for those slightly less lucky it’s still a good proposition. Someone who is accepted onto the island (at any stage in the series) can expect to make an average of £1.1m once back out in the real world.
And it appears British school leavers “have instinctively come to a similar conclusion, with 85,000 applications to appear on the 2018 series, compared with only 37,000 applications for undergraduate degree courses at Oxford and Cambridge universities combined”, says the FT.
However, Dislere conceded, an academic path might actually be a better bet once acceptance rates are factored in. “One major thing we haven’t included are the odds of getting in [to Love Island], and the odds are stacked against you,” she said.
(OBS) Ao contrário do que sugere o filme A Hora Mais Negra, a decisão britânica de continuar a guerra em 1940 não foi o resultado de sondagens de opinião, mas de uma liderança que “caminhava com o destino”.
A Hora mais negra, que agora anda pelos cinemas à espera de um Óscar para Gary Oldman, não é um documentário histórico, mas apenas um filme, e, como filme, pouco mais do que estimável. Mas como será visto por muito mais gente do que aquela que alguma vez há-de ler Maurice Cowling (The Impact of Hitler), John Charmley (Chamberlain and the Lost Peace), Andrew Roberts (Eminent Churchillians) ou Graham Stewart (Burying Caesar), talvez justifique algumas reflexões. Porque a Primavera de 1940 não foi apenas a origem da lenda de Churchill, mas um dos momentos que definiu o mundo contemporâneo.
Para a elite inglesa, tratava-se de saber se fazia sentido continuar a guerra, depois de Hitler ter subjugado quase toda a Europa ocidental. O filme faz, como é costume, depender a decisão de Churchill. Ao contrário do costume, porém, sugere que não foi fácil. Churchill ainda não era um herói, mas apenas um político desacreditado por trapalhadas e deslealdades. Há porém dois equívocos que o filme mantém. Ao contrário do que parece sugerir, Chamberlain e Halifax, os contrapontos de Churchill, não estavam simplesmente intimidados pelo poderio da Alemanha, nem Churchill alguma vez poderia ter apelado, para desfazer as dúvidas da elite, a uma qualquer opinião popular (que a elite concebia, aliás, como algo relevante, mas controlável através de propaganda e de administração).
Winston Churchill com Neville Chamberlain, primeiro ministro inglês entre 1937 e 1940.
Chamberlain e Churchill, cuja rivalidade prolongava a dos respectivos pais, ficaram como o contrário um do outro. Mas Churchill nunca poderia ter sido primeiro-ministro sem o apoio de Chamberlain (mais decisivo do que o do rei ou dos passageiros do metro no filme). Essa é a chave desta história. Os conservadores tinham conseguido salvar o Reino Unido da ruína da I Guerra Mundial e do colapso da ordem mundial a partir de 1929. Chamberlain, porém, sabia que mais uma grande guerra europeia, fosse qual fosse o seu desfecho, comprometeria de vez o Império Britânico e a ascendência conservadora na Grã-Bretanha. Por isso, tentara tudo para evitar uma guerra.
Churchill, um feroz imperialista e anti-socialista, não era menos apegado ao mundo conservador. Mas estava convicto de que a Inglaterra não podia tolerar um continente dominado pela Alemanha. De facto, Chamberlain pensava o mesmo. Por isso, declarara guerra em 1939, quando se tornou claro que era impossível negociar com Hitler, entretanto reforçado com a aliança da União Soviética. Em 1940, Chamberlain não cedeu por causa da retórica ou de outros apoios de Churchill, mas porque sabia que o seu rival estava certo: era impossível ao Reino Unido aceitar a situação de um Estado cliente da revolução nazi, sem negar tudo aquilo em que, enquanto conservadores, ambos acreditavam.
Gary Oldman como Winston Churchill em A Hora Mais Negra.
A continuação da guerra não foi o resultado de sondagens de opinião, mas da afirmação de uma liderança. Em 1940, Churchill não disse que se sentia em sintonia com a opinião popular, ao contrário do que o filme sugere, mas a “caminhar com o destino”, isto é, com a interpretação providencialista que um grande aristocrata como ele tinha da história do Reino Unido e do seu Império. Para Churchill, aquela era uma batalha que a elite conservadora não podia evitar, custasse o que custasse.
A hora mais negra não foi apenas um momento difícil. Foi a hora mais trágica. Chamberlain estava certo: os conservadores perderam o poder em 1945, e quando voltaram, em 1951, já não havia Índia e as grandes indústrias tinham sido nacionalizadas. O mundo imperial e conservador de Churchill e de Chamberlain desaparecera, e não o devemos confundir com o “atlanticismo” da Guerra Fria. Mas ao sacrificar esse mundo na resistência contra Hitler, Churchill conseguiu isto: associar o velho espírito da liberdade conservadora a um momento de heroísmo, e assim fazer passar esse espírito, transfigurado e desamarrado da sociedade que o cultivara, para o novo mundo – um mundo que já não o percebe, mas ainda o sente, pelo menos numa sala de cinema.
Estou inteiramente de acordo que haja uma fiscalização a sério (a sério nunca houve) sobre as águas do Tejo, e subscrevo integralmente todos os esforços para que a Central Nuclear de Almaraz seja encerrada, e por completo.
Portugal não tem energia nuclear por opção.
Mas é como se tivesse…
A Central de Almaraz tem problemas constantes e recorrentes por ter uma tecnologia muito antiga.
Já há muito que foram ultrapassados todos os prazos de vida da central definidos aquando da sua construção.
Uma central nuclear a 100 kms de Portugal e a 300 kms de Lisboa e no maior rio da Península Ibérica que justamente desagua em Lisboa…
Nunca devia ter sido construída!
As Autoridades do País vizinho afirmam que não existe qualquer problema de contaminação radioactiva.
Mas o que é facto é que existem dezenas de reportagens sobre a população da zona.
Que descrevem uma situação totalmente diferente…
Um elevadíssimo numero de doenças , algumas delas raras, gado que não come e morre, pequenos animais que morrem precocemente, terrenos que se não podem utilizar etc.
E agora há a decisão de lá construir um cemitério nuclear…
O problema é de ambos os Países.
Urge é ser resolvido.
A bem de todos.
Francisco (Abouaf) de Curiel Marques Pereira
(EXP) Parlamento defende necessidade do Governo pressionar Espanha para fechar Almaraz.
A Assembleia da República defendeu esta quinta-feira a necessidade de o Governo adotar, em parceria com o congénere espanhol, medidas de combate à poluição do rio Tejo e de insistir no encerramento da central nuclear espanhola de Almaraz
O tema de Almaraz foi abordado esta tarde no Parlamento na sequência da discussão de uma petição, da autoria do movimento ambientalista ProTejo, e de seis projetos de resolução.
O texto da petição exorta o Governo português a insistir junto do Governo espanhol na necessidade de proceder ao fecho da central nuclear de Almaraz e a atuar junto das instâncias europeias para que seja cumprida a Diretiva Quadro da Água e feita “uma fiscalização ambiental mais rigorosa à poluição do rio Tejo.
Os projetos de resolução apresentados pelos grupos parlamentares, que serão votados na sexta-feira, foram igualmente no sentido de a tutela tomar uma posição mais forte junto de Espanha para que seja encerrada a central nuclear e pelo aumento das medidas de vigilância e de ação ambiental.
Nesse sentido, durante a discussão, houve um consenso alargado de todas as bancadas para a necessidade de o Governo atuar “com mais firmeza” na defesa do Tejo.
Portugal chegou a apresentar à Comissão Europeia uma queixa contra Espanha, mas acabou por retirá-la depois de um acordo patrocinado pelo executivo comunitário que previa a realização de um estudo de impacto ambiental transfronteiriço, em que o grupo de trabalho criado pelo Governo português considerou o projeto “seguro e adequado”.
A central nuclear de Almaraz localiza-se em Espanha, a 100 quilómetros da fronteira com Portugal.
Rabbi Elisha Salas, right, instructing a baker in Belmonte, Portugal, in the preparation of kosher challah, April 2012. (Courtesy of Shavei Israel)
(JTA) — Portugal’s tallest mountain range, the Serra da Estrela, is famous for its breathtaking waterfalls, turquoise lakes, terraced hillsides and challenging bike paths amid vast woods.
In winter especially, tourists from all over northern Europe flock to the sunny Serra, a thinly populated plateau the size of Rhode Island, for its exquisite wines, world-renowned sheep cheeses and exotic regional dishes (think breaded sweet sardines and Juniper beef stew).
In addition to these delicacies, Serra da Estrela in recent years has also emerged as Portugal’s undisputed powerhouse for kosher food – an unlikely development in a region with about 50 Jews.
Earlier this month, one of Serra da Estrela’s oldest producers of olive oil, Casa Agrícola Francisco Esteves, located in the town of Manteigas, launched a new kosher label in time for Hanukkah, the holiday when Jews celebrate a miracle connected to oil.
In the nearby town of Covilha on the range’s southern tip is the Braz Queijos cheese factory, which in 2009 obtained a kosher certificate for most of its products, becoming the first to do so in Portugal in modern times. Five years earlier, a winery in the same town produced what was said to be Portugal’s first kosher-certified wine in centuries. And in 2010, the town of Belmonte began hosting an annual kosher market ahead of Rosh Hashanah.
Visitors browsing the annual kosher market in Belmonte, Sept. 17, 2017. (Courtesy of Jornal de Belmonte)
This uptick in kosher food production is occurring amid Portugal’s growing awareness of its rich Jewish history. Perhaps hundreds of thousands of Jews lived in Portugal before 1536, when Portugal’s church and royal house joined the Spanish campaign of expulsion, executions and forced conversions known as the Inquisition.
The kosher trend is a way to “reconnect with our past,” according to Jose Braz, the cheese maker, who is not Jewish.
On a national level, Portugal and Spain have both undertaken extraordinary moves to atone for the Inquisition. In 2015, for example, both countries put into practice laws adopted two years earlier that have permitted some 5,000 descendants of Sephardic Jews to obtain Spanish and Portuguese nationalities. The measures were the world’s first Jewish laws of return since Israel passed its own in 1952.
Coupled with government investments of millions of dollars in Jewish heritage sites, officials in Madrid and Lisbon describe the move as correcting historical wrongs. But some observers believe it is also motivated by a desire to revive the Portuguese and Spanish economies, where unemployment is double the U.S. rate and more than a quarter of adults under 25 are jobless.
“The Sephardic Diaspora can be viewed as a large pool with the potential to benefit Spain and Portugal’s economies, provided that pool can be drawn to visit, settle and invest,” said Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel, a Jerusalem-based nonprofit that runs outreach programs for the descendants of Sephardic Jews.
Officials from both countries regularly cite tourism when spending public funds on restoring and highlighting Jewish heritage sites. For example, the recent $8.25 million investment in Portugal’s Rotas de Sefarad project — a statewide network of routes that highlight Sephardic heritage — “must contribute to strengthening tourism,” Celeste Amaro, a Portuguese Culture Ministry official, told the Journal do Centro newspaper last month.
But in the Serra da Estrela region, where many non-Jews have Jewish roots, gestures toward Judaism are more personal than those of Lisbon, according to Rabbi Elisha Salas, Shavei Israel’s Portugal envoy, who is based in the town of Belmonte. That municipality holds an annual kosher products market under the supervision of Salas, who ensures that the products brought there for sale by local farmers — including honey, olives and bread — meet the requirements of halachah, or rabbinic law.
“I don’t go over their financial reports, but I can’t see a huge demand for kosher products in Portugal that would make a certificate profitable,” he said. “What’s at work here in Belmonte is that you have firms and factories with owners who have Jewish roots, so they seek to get closer to Judaism at least through the products they make.”
That may be true, but the operators of newly kosher ventures seem unwilling to elaborate on that connection.
Patricia Duarte Madeira, the director of the Esteves oil factory, told JTA that she sought a kosher certificate only to serve the needs of customers in Belmonte, which she defined as “one of Portugal’s largest Jewish communities.” (While it’s true the city is home to one of Portugal’s three functioning synagogues, the Jewish population is about 50, according to Salas.) Madeira twice declined to answer when asked whether her family has Jewish roots.
Bakers prepare kosher challah for the Jewish community of Belmonte, April 2012. (Courtesy of Shavei Israel)
Braz, the Serra da Estrela cheese maker, also appeared skittish about his connection to Judaism. Although he had told the Israeli media that he descended from Anusim (Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity) — and he also told JTA that at least one of his grandmothers was aware of her Jewish ancestry and had retained some Jewish customs — he downplayed the matter in the Portuguese media.
“I think all of us here have Jewish DNA, but it’s speculative,” he said in 2009 during an interview with the Publico newspaper about the Israeli media’s interest in his kosher cheese.
Braz noted a 2008 study suggesting that 20 percent of Iberia’s population has Jewish genes.
“But I’m Catholic, I recently hosted the bishop of Guarda at the factory,” he said, adding that his “real interest is cheese,” not genealogy.
Yet many houses in Serra da Estrella require no research to demonstrate their Jewish provenance. In the town of Trancoso, near Covilha, for example, the stone walls of many homes feature well-preserved incisions made during and after the Portuguese Inquisition. Some marks read “horror” in Hebrew when read inversely; some ancient door frame panels include hollows that once would have held a mezuzah.
Visible only in small towns with concentrations of forcefully converted Jews large enough to give them some safety in numbers, the markings were preserved by the former owners as a “way of showing, without saying, that they remember who they really are, where they come from,” said Shavei Israel’s Freund.
The subterfuge extended to the kitchen: The country’s famed Alheira de Mirandela sausage, whose generous amount of garlic tends to overpower the taste of its other ingredients, was especially developed during the Inquisition for Jews who sought to eat kosher while appearing to be consuming pork like the general population.
Freund said such techniques are a testament to the brutality of centuries of persecution that extinguished one of the world’s most illustrious Jewish communities.
“After centuries of silence and persecution, it’s almost inevitable that people with Jewish roots should be careful about advertising it,” he said. “But for people in the food industry, obtaining a kosher certificate is a way of doing so in a tangible way that doesn’t bring up too many personal questions.”
(BBG) Olive oil lovers may finally get a break on their grocery bills, after three years of elevated prices for the staple of Mediterranean cooking.
Deoleo SA, the world’s largest olive oil supplier, expects rising global output in the 2017-2018 season will cut prices for consumers. That may help sales at the company, according to Chief Executive Officer Pierluigi Tosato, who is completing a financial restructuring.
Bigger harvests of the fruit across much of the Mediterranean region will lift oil output by an estimated 12 percent, even as top producer Spain deals with a third year of drought, Tosato said in an interview. “That will push oil prices downwards, giving new breath to the market,” he said in an interview.
In Jaen, a city in southern Spain that’s a trading hub for the oil used in salads and cooking, prices for the finest extra-virgin quality have held above 3 euros ($3.50) a kilogram for most of the past three years, after climbing from less than 2 euros in 2014, according to prices tracked by the European Commission.
Higher prices have pushed homemakers and restaurants to seek cheaper alternatives such as sunflower-seed oil, which trades at about 80 cents a kilogram in Rotterdam. “Many consumers in mature markets such as Spain and Italy have started buying cheaper seed oil. Once they shift, it’s really unlikely they’ll go back” at current prices, Tosato said.
Spain’s annual olive oil consumption fell by about 90,000 metric tons in the past five years, while sunflower-seed oil rose by 140,000 tons, according to Vito Martielli, a grains and oilseeds analyst at Rabobank in the Netherlands. Italians now use around 160,000 tons less olive oil than in 2011, while sunflower-seed oil rose by about 200,000 tons, he said.
Sunflower Is Winner
“If olive oil is not on the market, consumers have to find alternatives,” Martielli said. “We have some substitution in effect, and the oil that’s been winning, by far, is sunflower.”
Revived demand would help Madrid-based Deoleo. The producer of the Carapelli and Bertolli brands is forecasting a return to growth as it completes a restructuring. Its shares have dropped 24 percent this year, the worst performance on the 26-member BI Europe Packaged Food Valuation Peer Group index. Its market value is about one-tenth the 2 billion euros it had in 2007.
The company, which considers itself the largest marketer with a 10.4 percent world value share, is completing a financial restructuring plan and forecasts growth returning. Its shares rose 2.9 percent to 18 euro cents as of 4:20 p.m. in Madrid.
The outlook for a bigger crop may bring relief, with the International Olive Oil Council forecasting 2017-18 global output will rise by about 300,000 metric tons to 2.85 million tons. Spanish benchmark prices for intermediate quality virgin oil fell to about 3.50 euros on Thursday, down from about 3.70 euros a month ago, according to industry price tracker POOLred.
“The Spanish, Italians and Greeks like to consume olive oil — it’s the preferred oil,” said Martielli. “If it’s more affordable, they’ll switch back.”
Higher sales induced by lower prices would constitute only one pillar of the plan Deoleo has set in motion for a business rebound. The other will be a 15 million-euro investment mainly focused on expanding in international markets such as the U.S. and India.
In the U.S. and northwest Europe, as well as in emerging markets including Brazil and India, where olive oil is a niche product that’s appreciated for its health benefits, demand is still good despite high prices, according to Rabobank’s Martielli.
“This year has been a year of transition, the next one is going to be the year of expansion,” Tosato said, in remarks confirmed by his spokesman on Friday. “Our target for 2018 is having no losses after paying interest on debt.”
To achieve its goal, Deoleo can count on the support of its main shareholder, U.K. private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, which holds a 50.01 percent stake. “The relationship with CVC is very good. They see Deoleo as a long-term project and will invest in the company for many years,” said Tosato, who rules out a capital increase for now. “CVC said it will do it if it’s needed. It would be their own decision, but I don’t think it’s necessary.”
The company posted a nine-month loss of 5.4 million euros, down 80 percent from a year earlier. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization dropped 29 percent to 26.8 million euros. Net debt rose 3 percent to 549 million euros.
Deoleo “is always looking for acquisitions, even if the company isn’t yet ready, and would always have the support of CVC” for a potential transaction, Tosato said.
(Visão) Duas exposições em Lisboa para viajar até aos tempos jurássicos: Dinossauros Alive, na Cordoaria Nacional, e Os Dinossauros vão à Estufa, na Estufa Fria
Há um T-Rex em tamanho real, de boca aberta e dentes afiados, na entrada da Cordoaria Nacional, em Lisboa. Não é caso, porém, para se deixar intimidar pelo seu tamanho e ar ameaçador. O mais temido dos dinossauros recebe, amigavelmente, todos os visitantes da exposição Dinossauros Alive. Já lá dentro, são os rugidos de mais de 50 representações de dinossauros que captam o olhar através de diferentes cenários – bosques, desertos e florestas.
A mostra ocupa cerca de cinco mil metros quadrados do edifício. As crianças podem ainda entrar num simulador, fazer uma viagem em realidade virtual e assistir a um filme em 9D, ou participar no ateliê de paleontologia. Haverá ainda um espetáculo, o Dino Show, protagonizado, claro, por dinossauros e outras personagens.
Para ficar a conhecer as plantas que serviram de alimento a estes animais, que se extinguiram há 65 milhões de anos, é rumar também até à exposição Os Dinossauros vão à Estufa, que inaugurou esta sexta-feira, 17, na Estufa Fria, numa parceria da Câmara Municipal de Lisboa com o Centro Ciência Viva de Estremoz e a Escola de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Évora. Entre a vegetação, vão estar diversas réplicas em tamanho natural como, por exemplo, do herbívoro Protoceratops a lutar com o carnívoro Velociraptor, um enorme réptil voador, ou da reconstrução feita por um paleontólogo espanhol da mandíbula de um gigantesco tubarão que viveu na zona de Lisboa há milhões de anos e que nos conseguiria engolir com uma única dentada.
Estas representações são ainda acompanhadas por uma coleção de fósseis reais, representativa da evolução da vida na Terra, desde os primeiros vestígios, com cerca de três mil milhões de anos, e exemplares das primeiras plantas que colonizaram os continentes.
Dinossauros Alive > Cordoaria Nacional > R. da Junqueira, 342, Lisboa > até 28 jan, seg-sex 10h-18h, sáb-dom, fer 10h-20h > €11 (adultos), €8 (3-11anos), grátis até 3 anos
Os Dinossauros vão à Estufa > Estufa Fria > Parque Eduardo VII, Lisboa > T. 21 817 0996 > 17 nov-15 abr, seg-dom 9h-17h > €3,10 (adultos), €2,33 (6-18 anos), grátis até 6 anos
(Economist) In Europe, gains in longevity level off with country wealth. But healthy longevity does not
“IN THE end, it is not the years in your life that count. It is the life in your years,” goes the saying. Many people fear that a trade-off between the two is inevitable: they may live to a very old age, but their final years may be spent in wretched health.
Data from 30 European countries suggest that such a trade-off depends on where people live, and whether they are men or women (see interactive chart below). The number of years of healthy life that the average person can expect comes from a survey asking people about long-term health problems that limit their usual daily activities.
On average, European women who turn 65 can expect to live about three years longer than men at that age, who have a life expectancy of 17.4 years. However, women tend to spend much of that extra time in poor health; the number of healthy years for men and women is the same, at just over nine.
Does it help to live in one of Europe’s richer countries? The data suggest that life expectancy at age 65 rises with a country’s wealth, but only up to a point. The trend levels off at a GDP per person of around $30,000 (adjusted for differences in price levels between countries), which is roughly the dividing line between eastern and western Europe. By contrast, the time spent in good health increases in a linear fashion with a country’s wealth. Italian 65-year-olds, for example, can expect to live about the same number of years as Norwegian ones, even though Norway is much richer than Italy. But Norway’s elderly are likely to spend nearly 80% of their remaining time in good health, whereas those in Italy can hope for just 40%.
This may be a result of countries’ spending on public services and infrastructure. Many characteristic health problems of old age, such as difficulties with hearing or eyesight, are not fatal; but unless they are dealt with, and unless public spaces are adapted to the needs of the elderly, they can make life miserable. Pavements, street signs and pedestrian signals, for example, are often designed for the young and able-bodied. Richer countries have more money to spend on making them better suited to older age groups. That may not extend lifespans, but it can help people make the most of their remaining years.
(Reuters) EMERYVILLE, California – I dream of walking every other night. The dreams aren’t bitter. They’re charged with hope. It was this hope that led me to California to take part in clinical trials for a powered exoskeleton that is designed to help paralysed people like me walk again.
I’ve been using a wheelchair for the past 21 years after one day in May 1996 during what was supposed to be an idyllic vacation on the Greek island of Poros.
One moment I was on a cliff cranking up a rented scooter, still shaking the salty Aegean water off my hair after a swim. The next moment I was on the rocky beach five metres below, on my back. I realized I couldn’t move my legs.
As much as I loathe that day, I know that I was lucky. That goofy plunge I took with the badly parked scooter could have killed me or left me completely paralysed.
Instead, I fractured the 12th dorsal vertebra, right where the rib cage ends. That cost me the movement and feeling in my legs, except for some weak movement and dulled sensation in the upper thigh area.
My chances of recovery were little to none after the long hours my spinal cord remained compressed while I was taken by helicopter to Athens and moved between hospitals.
At 25, it sounded like a death sentence. Then I realized it was more of a life sentence – to lead a different life.
Now here I was in California’s Silicon Valley, thousands of miles from my home in Lisbon, wearing a walking, talking robotic suit called Phoenix, all titanium rods, aluminium-cased motors, wires, straps and protective padding.
When I took my first step, my wife, Liete, gave me a teary-eyed hug. I was too busy keeping my balance to celebrate. It took many more steps and several strenuous sessions before I started to enjoy seeing my wheelchair parked on the other side of the room as I trudged on – first in parallel bars, then with a walker and finally with crutches.
TO FETCH A BOOK
Relatives and friends have bombarded me for years with internet and social media links to the latest research into spinal injury.
It’s a mixed blessing because the research offers hope and yet at the same time shows how little progress there has been in practical terms, at least towards finding a cure.
Stem cell research to treat spinal cord injuries was the big topic 20 years ago. It still offers hope, but scientists say the effectiveness of the treatment is yet to be proven, and there are ethical and health concerns as well.
Experiments with implanted computer chips, sensors and electrodes that send signals from the brain to the muscles, bypassing the injured part of the spinal cord, have enabled some patients to regain some movement in their arms. But I don’t want electrodes in my brain.
Non-invasive systems like electrode caps that pick up brain waves and transform them into tiny electric shocks that make the muscles contract have so far proven too cumbersome.
Which brings me to exoskeletons. They do not claim to be the cure, but they can be a practical aid to making disabled people more mobile.
The original meaning of the word is a protective or supportive shell, like that of a shrimp. More recently it has come to mean an outer frame that not only supports, but also robotically simulates or enhances body movement. That makes paralysed people the perfect target group.
The fact is, we need to be in an upright position regularly or we develop blood circulation and digestive tract problems. We start losing bone mass, which makes leg bones brittle. Our bodies become more susceptible to infections.
A standing frame, where padded straps for the knee, waist and sometimes upper body keep you upright, is usually the solution at home. My frame allows a bit of leg movement, but it is still a mostly static, bulky contraption, which makes standing a rather tedious chore that I tend to skip too often. I am 46 now and the older I get, the less I can afford to skip it for my health.
If I could walk about the house instead, fetch a book or get a breath of air on the patio, that would be a life changer, not to mention the possibility of doing the same in the office or on the street.
THAT ISN’T ME
With time, and a lot of support from my family, friends and Reuters colleagues, I discovered you can get back in the saddle and regain independence.
Returning to work, first to a desk job in my native Moscow and then to reporting assignments in Latin America, was the most important step in that direction. At one point, I took the “back in the saddle” part so literally, I bought a thundering motorized tricycle which I rode with a bunch of Brazilian bikers.
“At 25 it sounded like a death sentence. Then I realized it was more of a life sentence – to lead a different life.”
I reported from slum riots and carnival parades in Rio and from tumultuous election rallies in Venezuela. I learned that even in the most chaotic situations, crowds tend to open a path for a wheelchair and strangers offer to help. I often ended up with a better vantage point than my colleagues.
Slowly, my body adapted. After battling bouts of depression, bladder infections and weight gain, I’ve taken up regular exercise in recent years and am now much fitter, generally in good health and have a moderately optimistic view of the future.
But walking remained off-limits. My leg muscles have largely atrophied, making my calves no thicker than my arms.
Not that I haven’t tried walking. Like many in my situation, I scoffed at the label “confined to a wheelchair,” seeking to prove to myself and others that it doesn’t apply to me. Just like “paralysed from the waist down,” the expression is often technically wrong. To us, every millimetre of working muscle counts.
A couple of months after my injury I was already learning how to walk in a spinal injury rehab centre in Aylesbury, England – on crutches and calipers or full-leg braces that prevent the knee from bending and stabilize the foot.
It was very hard work, especially on my arms and hands, and ultimately proved to be too much. I endured a couple of falls. Calipers just didn’t give me enough confidence to get up on my own or walk more than a few metres away from the exercise rails. The last time I used leg braces, along with a tailcoat and top hat, was on my wedding day in Brazil in 2002.
Over the years I’ve tried other walking aids. All required the assistance of a person called a “spotter” to help me stand. They gave me a very limited range and the speed of a tortoise.
All things considered, life was just easier and I was more independent in a wheelchair.
My home is easily accessible by wheelchair. I can fold it, put it in the car and drive wherever I like. Or I can just roll out onto the street for some air or a drink in a corner bar. Lisbon is not the most wheelchair-friendly place, but more and more buildings have ramps, lifts and adapted toilets.
FEAR OF FALLING
As I prepared for my journey to California in August, I tried to keep my hopes in check. I’d seen videos of paraplegics wearing robotic suits. They were all rather slow and in most cases required crutches for support. They were also generally prohibitively expensive.
If I could put this suit on unaided while in a wheelchair, stand up using crutches and walk around for an hour, that would be good enough for me, I told myself.
I was going to test an exoskeleton called Phoenix, which draws on technology developed at the University of California, Berkeley. The testing I signed up for is needed to win U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval. SuitX, the company developing the Phoenix, says it will be the lightest and most affordable version on the market.
SuitX’s CEO, Homayoon Kazerooni, is a professor and director of the Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory at the university. SuitX already makes industrial exoskeletons used, for instance, by airport baggage handlers.
Most exoskeletons have motors or hydraulics powering the hip and knee joints, but the Phoenix has only two motors at the hips, powered by a battery in a small backpack. Hinges keep your knees straight when your weight is on them and allow your lower leg to swing when you take a step.
Phoenix and I did not hit it off right away. In fact, had it just been a test drive and not the intensive two-week programme I had signed up for, I probably would have decided that it was not for me.
As much as I had told myself not to expect miracles, I was all psyched up for one. I even came to California wearing a pair of old boots from the time when I could walk. “These boots are made for walking and that’s just what they’ll do,” I hummed the old Nancy Sinatra hit as I laced them up. For more good luck, my wife and I picked a local cafe called “Can’t Fail” to start the first day of tests with a hearty breakfast.
The first disappointment came during the fitting session, when my boots were discarded. I had to wear special shoes to fit the metal soles of the exoskeleton, as well as tight ankle braces to stabilize my debilitated joints.
Standing up was tumultuous, with the physiotherapist and two other employees helping me through the process, which still required a good push off the bars.
Then came my first step. I had been ready to repeat Neil Armstrong’s “one small step” phrase, half in jest, but it got stuck in my throat. I was gripped by a fear of falling. The device felt more wobbly than I imagined. The time it took to regain my balance and shift my weight forward for my next step seemed like an eternity. My knees were half-bent because my hamstrings had contracted so much from sitting for so many years. My hands hurt from nervously gripping the parallel bars.
I was unimpressed, demoralised even, so Liete took me for a scenic drive in the hills near Berkeley, and later we indulged in comfort shopping and some Napa Valley wines. It helped. I slept well and woke up rested and looking forward to getting inside the exo-suit again.
Then I met Steve Sanchez, who has been SuitX’s “chief pilot” for the past five years and uses the device regularly. The ease with which he stood up from his wheelchair and walked about revived my spirits.
It took me several more days to overcome my panic and feel more or less comfortable on my feet. I could stand up, walk and sit down with a spotter. A female voice from a speaker in the suit’s frame encouraged me to keep moving. “Left, right, left,” it said in time with my steps.
My hands no longer hurt as much. At night when I couldn’t sleep I would go over my moves – where I’d failed, what I’d done right – so my walking would be slightly better the next day. In our downtime, we visited San Francisco’s museums and galleries and met friends. Recounting my experience to them helped me figure out that I was actually enjoying the testing more than I thought.
My rookie mistake, I realized, was not trusting the machine and trying to compensate for what I thought were its shortcomings with my own bumbling efforts to support myself and move my legs. After almost two weeks of training, walking was still a lot of hard work, but I was getting faster and gaining endurance.
My health was better, too. A long-time sciatic pain was gone. I even managed to shake off a bad cold, which would normally have landed me in bed. To me, the improvements were tangible.
At the end of the programme, the distance I covered during a set time interval had doubled since the mid-term test. I performed the theme from the classic movie about two Olympic runners, “Chariots of Fire,” as I approached the finishing line.
I’m starting to put aside money for a Phoenix because walking is a practical goal, not just a dream anymore.
The main commercial prospects for exoskeletons are in areas such as construction, baggage handling and other heavy manual labour, researchers say.
Exo-suits that raise productivity and reduce work-related injuries are less complex and face fewer regulatory hurdles than robotic suits designed for victims of spinal injury or stroke.
Advances in suits for industry “will speed the development of low cost, more functional rehabilitation/enable systems,” said Dan Kara, research director at technology market intelligence firm ABI Research. “It’s a virtuous circle.”
ABI projects that robotic exoskeleton sales will jump from $97 million globally in 2016 to $1.9 billion by 2025. It predicts almost a quarter of the 100,000 suits sold in 2025 will be for people with disabilities.
Better and cheaper battery technologies and stronger, lightweight materials will help drive this growth, analysts say.
Dozens of firms are developing medical exoskeletons, from start-ups to large companies like Korea’s Hyundai, which plans to launch a demo version of its H-Mex prototype in 2019.
Soft exo-suits worn like garments are being tested in the university labs of ETH Zurich and Harvard.
Nasdaq-listed ReWalk Robotics is a market leader. Like most exoskeletons, ReWalk has a hard frame with motors at the hip and knee joints that enable users to get up and walk, mimicking a natural gait. A battery pack is worn on the back and crutches are used for balance. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the suit, with a list price of $77,000, for clinical and home use.
Competitors include Parker Hannifin with its $80,000 Indego, and similarly-priced Ekso by Ekso Bionics, a pioneer of exo-suit rehabilitation for stroke victims.
The REX, made by New Zealand-based company REX Bionics, is self-balancing and requires no crutches. Its price starts at $99,000.
The Phoenix suit I tested uses two motors at the hips and mechanical hinges at the knee. SuitX, the company behind Phoenix, aims to sell the Phoenix at around $30,000 initially but wants to cut the price by about half over time, according to its chief executive, Homayoon Kazerooni, a professor at the University of California.
Kazerooni said that when the cost of an exoskeleton becomes comparable to the price of a powered wheelchair, health insurers could be persuaded to pay for exo-suits.
“Technology has to reach people faster than the rate we see these days,” he said.
(NH) Trophy hunting fees help fund conservation. Critics say the benefits are exaggerated and that killing big game animals is wrong.
By Michael Paterniti
Photographs by David Chancellor
This story appears in the October 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine.
The people in this story agreed to be photographed on condition that their names be withheld.
Elephants kept appearing in wrinkled herds, loitering near the dusty pans, in search of water. With the September temperature pushing a hundred degrees at midday, the pachyderms were moving at the edge of the Kalahari Desert in Namibia in a community-run wildlife reserve, or conservancy, called Nyae Nyae, where roughly 2,800 San people live today in unyielding conditions.
The elephants left snapped branches and warm scat in their wake. When they caught our scent, our sweat mixing with the sun-scorched grasses, they broke into a trumpeting jog and were gone.
Later, more materialized on the horizon, in the shade of the camel thorn trees, shades themselves. For such enormous creatures, they were nearly invisible but to the sharpest eyes. And those eyes belonged now to Dam, a short, compact man, a tracker from the local San people who stood in the back of the Land Cruiser.
“Oliphant!” he cried, leaning hard over the right side of the vehicle, picking out tracks in the sand. He tapped on the door, and we came to a whiplashing halt. Dam jumped down, checking a footprint, its edges corrugated and etched inside with smaller bubbles. He motioned, and Felix Marnewecke, the professional hunter and guide on this expedition, popped out of the driver’s side door. Strapping, ruddy, and blond, in his 40s, he seemed straight from central casting, wearing a cloth hat and shorts. He stood over the impression for a moment, a quizzical expression on his face, and nodded his head in agreement. If Nyae Nyae’s desert scrub is home to San families, it is also home to some of the last, biggest wild elephants in the world. This footprint was proof.
The rest of us unloaded, followed by the tracker they only ever called the Old Man, another tracker in training, and one more San, who was acting as a “game guard” to make sure the hunt was conducted in accordance with the conservancy’s rules and quotas. Last to emerge in that swelter was the client himself, an American businessman, who opened the passenger door and reached up to the rack for his gun, a 12-pound, bespoke .470 Nitro Express double rifle. These guns, costing up to $200,000, are favored for big-game trophy hunting because of their stopping power, and this is what he was here for, of course—a trophy. Two of them, actually. An avid hunter whose adventures had led him to Central Asia to shoot Marco Polo sheep at 15,000 feet and to Africa to shoot a leopard, he was now back in Africa for elephants.
According to Marnewecke, the going rate for a 14-day, single elephant hunt is about $80,000. The trophy hunt limit of five elephants a year in Nyae Nyae represents real money to the San. A portion of the fee is paid directly to community members and to a fund for conservation projects to protect the area’s wildlife. As for the elephant trophies themselves, the client would take the tusks home, while the meat would all go to the San.
Marnewecke and his client—anonymous at his request, given the controversial nature of elephant hunts—hoisted their rifles over their shoulders and fell in behind Dam, who took off at the speed of a jackrabbit. Marnewecke turned to me and said, as I stumbled to keep up, “I swear, there’s no better tracker in Africa. If it takes 30 miles, he never gives up.”
From Charles Darwin and John James Audubon to Theodore Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway, the most enlightened hunters have long viewed themselves as naturalists and conservationists, committed to sustainability among animal populations and the preservation of wild places where they stalk game. The linkage has become inextricable. Revenues of hundreds of millions in federal excise taxes levied on hunters go directly to wildlife management and related activities each year in the U.S. alone. And anyone who keeps a freezer full of venison is likely to tell you that the act of killing your own dinner in the wild is more humane than buying the plastic-wrapped meat of industrially raised livestock.
But trophy hunting today, especially of the so-called big five in Africa (elephant, lion, leopard, rhino, and Cape buffalo), brings with it a larger set of moral and financial questions. The sport killing of animals beleaguered in the wild can arouse fierce opposition, even more so if the animal—Cecil the Lion, for example—is named. Biologists estimated total losses of large mammals in protected areas on the continent at up to 60 percent between 1970 and 2005. As big game populations dwindle further under pressure from human encroachment, shifting climate norms, and widespread criminal poaching, there are hunters—the American client in Nyae Nyae, for one—who argue that a thoughtfully regulated and expensive hunt for bull elephants in their waning days makes a sustainable way to protect both species and habitat.
On we went, following the footprints. Every so often Dam would retrace his steps, circling in the dust, until we slowed to a more careful crawl. Coming over a knoll, we saw them at last, Loxodonta africana—what seemed to be three bulls, munching on leaves and grass. Marnewecke reached for his binoculars, the American client took his rifle in hand. Everything narrowed to a nervous point. African elephants live to be 60 or 70, and the biggest tuskers usually are older than 45. Tusks are measured by weight, and anything estimated to be over 50 pounds is considered a “shooter” by hunters. The client was looking for something in the 70-plus-pound range, but in the end these elephants’ tusks were too small. Marnewecke made his determination, turned on his heel, and began walking back to the Land Cruiser. No one seemed disappointed exactly: It was almost enough to have stood in the suburbs of such magnificent creatures.
“The shooting is the last 5 percent of an elephant hunt,” Marnewecke said. “I feel quite shitty when an elephant dies, but those elephants pay for the conservation of the other 2,500 that move through here. Trophy hunting is the best economic model we have in Africa right now.” It was an argument I’d soon hear other hunters make and a host of activists and biologists tear apart. “In the end it may save this place—and the elephants too.”
Standing in the heat and dust of the Kalahari that bright day, elephants at our back, I couldn’t help but wonder: Is that really how this works? Can you really kill five elephants to save 2,500? Or start from the other side: Why kill one at all?
Seen from the air Africa can appear as an illusion, rich velds and dramatic rifts, wide deserts and thundering rivers, these seemingly vast stretches of unfettered, unpopulated wild ostensibly forgotten by time and people. At a glance it could be a repository for all our ideas about wilderness at its wildest. And yet today no patch here goes unclaimed, whether it’s marked, monetized, or fought over. The animals that roam the land have become commodified, part of a new consumerism, marketed and sold, their brands pitted against each other, their continued existence now a question of human demand, whim, and calculation. Wild game is the continent’s version of crude oil—and it too will run out someday.
Trophy hunting—the killing of big game for a set of horns or tusks, a skin, or a taxidermied body—has burgeoned into a billion-dollar, profit-driven industry, overseen in some cases by corrupt governments. Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa allow trophy hunting, with varying degrees of transparency and control, establishing yearly quotas meant to reflect the status of species and creating exclusions for highly vulnerable populations. South Africa, for instance, no longer allows hunting of leopards. Kenya has banned trophy hunting outright since 1977, and in Botswana, a comparatively wildlife-rich country, a temporary ban in government-controlled hunting areas went into effect in 2014.
Africa once seemed to have “an inexhaustible supply of nature,” says American lion biologist Craig Packer, who has lived and worked on the continent for more than 40 years. But, he says, from 30,000 feet you would see that the habitats are shrinking. “Lions really are becoming more of an endangered species, and hunters should really not shoot these animals for sport unless they can provide positive evidence that they’re having a salutary effect on lion conservation.”
Biologists make the same argument against the hunting of other big game, including elephants, whose numbers across the continent have fallen sharply in recent years. Demand for rhino horn, elephant ivory, and lion bones, especially in Asia, has ignited a scourge of poaching. But the issue remains complicated, with some place-specific animal populations, such as the elephants of Nyae Nyae, thriving where there’s trophy hunting.
“If you get rid of those conservancies in Namibia,” Packer says, “you’d probably get rid of all the wildlife and be left with cattle.” He says he and other biologists “are concerned with populations, and that’s an abstraction. That’s where the real conflict with the animal-rights organizations comes, because in their mind, Fifi must never die. That’s where the biologists can sound pretty heartless and cold.” For Packer, saving an individual animal misses the point; what’s crucial is protecting genetically viable populations as a whole. “I’m not against hunting. There’s got to be a middle ground,” he says. In his estimation, though, that middle ground isn’t exactly in the middle: He believes that trophy hunting is of marginal value as a large-scale conservation tool in Africa.
On the other hand, hunters and government officials often cite a hotly contested estimate by the Safari Club International Foundation, a pro-hunting group with the stated goal of promoting conservation and education, that the roughly 18,000 trophy hunters who come to southern and eastern Africa each year contribute $436 million to the region’s GDP. The Humane Society International says the amount for that region is at most $132 million, or .03 percent of GDP.
In a 2013 op-ed in the New York Times countering the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to list lions as a threatened species, making it more difficult for Americans to hunt them, the Tanzanian wildlife director, Alexander Songorwa, stated that hunters on 21-day lion safaris paid government fees of up to $10,000 and pumped $75 million into the economy from 2008 to 2011. Packer says the 120,000 square miles of hunting areas in Tanzania need $600 million in investment every year, “and you’re not going to get that shooting lions for $10,000.”
For some, the hunting-antihunting debate boils down to Western environmentalists trying to dictate their agenda to Africa—a form of neocolonialism, as Marnewecke puts it. “Who gives anybody the right, sitting in another continent, to preach to us how we should manage our wildlife?” Hunters make the point that with all the outfitters paying to operate in conservancies and with trophy hunters paying fees for the game they shoot, hunting indeed has made significant financial contributions to the continent, and to habitat protection, while all that antihunting forces have done is make noise.
As for what happens to the hunters’ fees, that is notoriously hard to pin down—and impossible in kleptocracies. And anyway, Packer says, when it comes to funding lion conservation, “it’s such an underwhelming amount generated by sport hunting, it’s no wonder that despite years of lion hunting being allowed in these countries, the lion population has plummeted.” The International Union for Conservation of Nature, which monitors animal populations, reports that the number of lions in five populations in Tanzania fell by two-thirds from 1993 to 2014.
In Nyae Nyae in 2016 the German hunter who shot the kudu seen in the preceding photograph takes aim. He later killed an old bull elephant. Hunters argue that killing old bulls does the least harm to the species, but biologist Joyce Poole says older male elephants are “the primary breeders. They’re role models for younger males and chosen mates for females.”
Yet hunters say they’ve helped fund everything from health clinics to schools to water wells to boots-on-the-ground assistance against poachers, all while leaving a lighter footprint on the land than the often cited alternative to killing game: wildlife-watching in the form of photographic safaris. The UN World Tourism Organization estimated that 35.4 million international tourists visited sub-Saharan Africa in 2015 and spent $24.5 billion. Operations designed to attract a higher-end clientele that craves a warm shower, big meal, and cool drink at the end of the day require infrastructure and equipment, maybe including a fleet of vehicles.
There’s a danger, some hunters argue, that too many tourists will spoil the very experience they’re seeking. “The Serengeti is amazing,” says Natasha Illum-Berg, a Swedish-born professional buffalo hunter based in Tanzania, who, like Marnewecke, leads clients into the bush for “hunting experiences” and trophies. “The Ngorongoro Crater is a miracle. All these national parks that are filled with minibus after minibus of photographic tourists—it’s fantastic,” she says, noting that the minibuses also put pressure on those iconic wildlands. “But what about the other areas?” she says. “How many people have been to the area I work in, that’s 500 square miles? This year maybe 20 people.” Without trophy hunting, Illum-Berg argues, there would be no antipoaching there, no management. “I keep on saying: Give me a better idea than hunting as long as it’s sustainable.” She adds, “The big question in the end is, ‘Who’s going to pay for the party?’ ”
The earliest evidence of an elephant having been killed by human hands dates back to a blue-mud swamp in Siberia nearly 14,000 years ago. The spine of a woolly mammoth found at the confluence of the Ob and Irtysh Rivers seems to have been penetrated by a man-made weapon that left flake traces of stone inside one of the vertebrae. The tusks, we might imagine, weren’t displayed in a trophy room back at the hunter’s cave.
But hunting is more than a quid pro quo for sustenance. At some moment in our dawning consciousness, hunting became equated with status, virility, and power. Assyrian carvings from 650 B.C. depict lions being released from cages for slaughter by a chariot-riding king. The Maasai have long killed lions as a rite of passage.
With the advent of better weaponry, hunting also evolved as a sport, one with class stratifications, micro-cultures, and occasional egregious examples of waste. In records from 1760 for Snyder County, Pennsylvania, two hunters shot more than a thousand animals, including black bears, mountain lions, bobcats, wolves, foxes, bison, elk, deer, wolverines, and thousands more smaller creatures, dressing some of the animals and throwing most of the carcasses into a bonfire.
Skinners in Namibia in 2011 hold up the pelt of a leopard shot by an American hedge fund manager. Leopards are elusive, and dogs helped track this one down. Namibia later banned the use of dogs because leopard numbers were falling dangerously.
Theologians were among the first to criticize such wasteful butchery. By the late 1700s an anonymous British hunter had penned The Sportsman’s Companion, or An Essay on Shooting, advocating fair chase and setting forth “directions to gentlemen” in the field and forest, including limiting the number of game animals killed. Those rules were expanded and refined during the next century. In 1887 Teddy Roosevelt founded the Boone and Crockett Club, a group of influential American hunters who were worried about preserving swaths of their country’s wilderness and became instrumental in building the U.S. National Park System.
In 1934 at the Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, some white hunters established the East African Professional Hunters’ Association. It promulgated a kind of honor code and pushed for laws and regulations, including a ban on shooting nearly all female animals and on shooting animals at water holes or near vehicles. While the members worked to conserve hunting grounds, they also eliminated huge amounts of game from the continent. Today technology has taken a quantum leap forward, with drones, video of the hunt, and high-powered rifles equipped with laser range finders.
Meanwhile “kill shots”—images of hunters posed with their dead quarry—have created viral sensations and stirred animal-rights activists and the general public to fulsome disgust. People were inflamed when Minneapolis dentist Walter Palmer hunted and killed Cecil, the popular lion from Zimbabwe, in June 2015. Controversy resurfaced in July 2017 when Cecil’s son Xanda was shot on a legal trophy hunt.
With more than half the planet’s population living in cities, our relationship with the wild has become increasingly divorced from our everyday reality. We’re now less a part of that wild world from rain forest to veld than consumers of it. Yet if we eat meat or wear and use leather products, we too are hunters of a sort.
Within the hunting community our hurry-up, have-it-all mentality—our ceaseless consumptive entitlement—has begun to manifest itself in troubling ways. Eschewing the time and cost of an African trophy hunt involving fair chase, some hunters have turned to canned hunting—the killing of often habituated animals in confined areas—baited hunting, herding animals with helicopters, or the shooting of their prey from the back of Land Cruisers. In Tanzania there have been reports of foreign hunters gunning down animals, including pregnant females, with AK-47s. In a hunting area called Loliondo that the government has leased long term to officials from the United Arab Emirates, local Maasai have reported transport jets leaving with game of all variety, dead and alive. Social scientists writing recently in the journal Biology Letters describe a kill-and-tell generation of hunters exhibiting “show-off behavior” by propagating their own kill shots on social media, sometimes in poses that undermine the dignity of the animal whose life they’ve just taken.
Left: Radio-collared dogs tracked this mountain lion and chased it up a tree. Using dogs allows the hunter to get a clean shot, but opponents say it’s unethical because a treed cat has no means of escape. Several states have banned hound hunting of mountain lions.Right: A state conservation office will inspect and tag this mountain lion before the hunter takes home the head and skin. Hunters consider stalking a mountain lion one of North America’s great challenges—it can entail hiking miles in bitter cold up steep, snowy hills in search of the animal.
In South Africa, which has some 2,000 wild lions, canned lion hunting has grown into a more than $100 million industry, with in excess of 200 facilities raising about 6,000 of the big cats for easy killing. According to Ian Michler, a South African safari operator and photographer who investigated the canned lion industry for the 2015 documentary Blood Lions, the animals are caged and bred sometimes under terrible conditions. The young are taken from their mothers and brought to petting zoos. When male lions grow into adulthood, many are shot and killed for “hunting” fees that are much lower than the cost for a wild lion on a standard 21-day hunt ($5,000 to $15,000, versus $50,000 and up). And the trophy is virtually guaranteed. “It’s appalling,” Michler says. “It’s perverse behavior.”
Canned hunting has another deleterious effect. While hunters happily take the pelt and head, and the claws and teeth once were sold in the tourist shops of Nairobi and Zanzibar, today the bones are most in demand—shipped to Asia either to produce traditional medicines or to be repackaged as “tiger bone wine,” made from crushed bones and Chinese herbs and marketed to the upper class as a health tonic and aphrodisiac. This year South Africa authorized the export of up to 800 lion skeletons, and the worry among biologists, conservation groups, and animal-rights activists is that by legitimizing and allowing the trade, the country is spurring more demand for lion bones and more killing of the continent’s remaining 20,000 or so wild lions.
As it turns out, some of the most vocal critics of these hunting practices are hunters themselves.
“If we are not able to convince the majority of people that hunting is morally in order,” says Kai-Uwe Denker, a renowned professional hunter in Namibia, “there is no future for us.” In the face of bad publicity and bad behavior, some hunters have fallen back on an economic argument—that their presence in Africa provides jobs, that it’s a viable strategy for poverty alleviation. But Denker disagrees. “I see a very big danger in promoting only the financial side. Livelihoods, income generation, job creation—this is an additional thing. You cannot justify immoral things with money.”
When I met Denker in a valley in the Erongo Mountains, where he lives 25 miles off the grid in a house he built, he lamented the intrusion of humans on the African landscape. According to him, hunting, when done properly, brings you into “a conversation with your own death.” As we spoke in the shaded portico, the sun flashed off a blanched elephant skull set nearby, and the wind stirred the acacia, blowing away a certain noon deadness that often grips the desert. Time seemed to bend to the prehistoric. Tall and slender, wearing a torn shirt and short shorts, Denker is legendary for walking up to 40 miles in a day of hunting. He also abides by a strict set of principles that includes hunting game, such as elephant and kudu, that have unfenced free range in historic habitat and shooting only older nonreproductive animals without fixating on large trophies.
“Many of the antihunters, they criticize hunting as perverted,” Denker said. “Hunting as such is not perverted. It’s in our genes. If hunting is immoral,” he continued, “I will stop immediately. But it will be the end of nature.”
If it pays, it stays. It was a phrase I heard over and over again, in myriad discussions about African conservation, in part to describe how money has changed the mind-set of rural populations regarding the value of big game. Too often people have seen an elephant destroy their annual crop, and some have known the pain of a lurking lion taking a child for food. Here there’s no mythologizing or fetishizing, no fund-raising around a fuzzy face: The leopard is a killer, the rhino is a ruiner. To protect themselves against the enemy, villagers often shoot and poison these intruders, without an iota of sentimentality. And yet, the argument goes, if those animals are worth money to a local community, that community will work hard to conserve and protect its assets.
This is something I witnessed firsthand. My time in the Kalahari coincided with Nyae Nyae’s annual game count, in which 50 or so San camped for three nights at various water holes, trying to account for the number of animals within 3,500 square miles of sand, bush, and baobab trees.
As fragile as it is, Nyae Nyae might be called a conditional success story, in part because the hunt quotas have been methodically monitored and increased over the years. On occasion cattle have threatened to overrun the conservancy, but the big game have returned, and the menu of animals offered to hunters includes leopard, kudu, and wildebeest, with prices set by a management committee of five members of the conservancy. Profits are shared communally: Last year each adult over 18 in Nyae Nyae was issued about $70. “We have enough,” the chief, Bobo Tsamkxao, told me as he sat in his yard in front of a disintegrating house, his wives sitting in a row among children and litter. The arrangement also requires that the professional hunter employ and train local people and contribute toward development projects such as schools and health clinics.
Nyae Nyae became Namibia’s first conservancy, locally owned and run, in 1998. Every five years the conservancy is put up for tender, with professional hunters offering bids to the San for the right to establish an on-site operation. Last year the winning bid was more than $400,000, a rich number in large part because the elephants have become so big and valuable. The professionals sell hunting packages to clients to recoup the tender offer, cover expenses, and make a profit. Many operate on more than one conservancy; some string together enough to build their own little fiefdoms.
When I was there, in September 2016, Marnewecke had just learned that he’d been outbid and would lose his Nyae Nyae operation by season’s end. “I’ll miss the San,” he said, but he had another conservancy to the north that would keep him busy. What worried him most was the Jenga-like fragility of Nyae Nyae, and that irresponsible people might come with their own selfish designs—crisscrossing the conservancy with new roads and upsetting the equilibrium.
Left: This black bear, shot by a hunter in Maine, is at a state fisheries and wildlife station, where one of its teeth will be collected. The tooth allows wildlife authorities to determine the animal’s age and reconstruct bear numbers to better manage the population.Right: The hunter removed the bear’s heart, which is shot through with a bullet. Many hunters pride themselves on “nose to tail” eating—consuming not just the meat but sometimes the kidneys, liver, and heart too. The heart can be pickled, fried, or slow cooked. It can be ground up for taco meat or spaghetti sauce.
While Namibia has turned wildlife management over to the local population, governments in places such as Tanzania have taken an opposite tack, directly owning and leasing hunting grounds. Critics say that no country should be in the business of selling and profiting from dead animals. When coffers run low and funds are needed, they say, hunting quotas get raised without regard for the animals’ population numbers. And in those hunting areas where funds aren’t reinvested, there’s no wildlife left to hunt. That could explain how 40 percent of Tanzania’s designated hunting areas have been emptied of game animals during recent decades. A promotional video that surfaced in 2014 shows a hunting company, Green Mile Safari, guiding hunters from the United Arab Emirates on a disturbing shooting party. The minister of tourism and natural resources said the party violated a host of laws by, among other things, firing automatic weapons, hunting female and young animals, and allowing a minor to hunt. The government banned Green Mile from conducting hunts in Tanzania in 2014 but reissued the company’s license last year, leading to accusations of corruption. No arrests were made, and Green Mile claims that the guide was at fault.
In the Selous Game Reserve ecosystem, a prized trophy hunting destination, aerial surveys estimate the elephant population at some 15,000, down from perhaps 50,000 as recently as 2009. “Why has the Selous been such a killing field?” says Katarzyna Nowak, a conservation scientist associated with the University of the Free State, Qwaqwa, in South Africa. “If hunters are coming in from all around the world, and you’re really pumping money earned from trophies back into the Selous for conservation and antipoaching, where have all the elephants gone?”
Craig Packer sees the conservation of African wildlife in practical terms: If hunters were shooting lions “for a million dollars and returning a million per lion directly into management, they would be on solid ground. But lions are shot for tens of thousands of dollars, and very little of that money goes back to conservation.” With two billion dollars a year we could save and protect the wildlife in Africa’s national parks, Packer says. But that would have to come from international partners such as the World Bank, eco-philanthropists, and nongovernmental organizations.
Some trophy hunters say it’s not fair to blame them. Make of their sport what you will, they don’t set the fees or determine the quotas. And they can’t control endemic corruption in some countries, even if they indirectly feed it. Some claim to share the concerns of environmentalists who see collapsing habitats and dwindling populations. Kevin Reid, a big-game ranch owner in Texas, says he raises endangered African species not only for the sport of trophy hunters but also to create “a seed vault of animals,” including oryx and white rhinos, to help rewild Africa once its problems have been sorted. “We’re trying to reverse extinction,” Reid says. In the never ending ironies of the issue, though, the near extinction of African elephants, rhinos, and lions comes today courtesy of the barrel of a gun.
Perhaps, then, it boils down to another set of questions: In light of who we’ve become as a species, what new form has nature taken, and what new rules might be practiced there? Might we owe it to the natural world, after bunging it up so badly, to act differently—less acquisitively, more generously—toward it? Might it now be time to stop killing the dwindling herds for sport and display? Or, perhaps more difficult to ponder: Will these trophies be all we have left someday, tokens of a wild nature we once knew?
On the 12th day of the elephant hunt in Nyae Nyae, in the rising heat of the day, Dam, the tracker, picked up the marks of three bulls moving together. Once Marnewecke and his client saw the elephants from a mile away, they knew they were big and approached them from downwind so as not to be detected. Two of the bulls were in front of them, but the largest and oldest stood apart and behind. So they maneuvered out around the others and came up on the third as he began to walk toward a clump of brush. The client crouched low on one side as the old bull—sagging and on his sixth molars, half ground down already, which means he was well on in the last season of his life—unwittingly ate on the other side.
Would killing an old bull like this one help save all those other elephants in Nyae Nyae?
Old bulls, says Caitlin O’Connell, a biologist and elephant researcher focused on how the animals communicate, are a font of wisdom, deciding when and where the herd will move in search of water, imposing an order on pachyderm society. “Contrary to myth, elephant bulls are very social creatures,” she says. “They move in groups of up to 15, and they maintain a strict hierarchy. The older bulls exert a very important regulatory impact on the herd and an emotional-social influence on the younger bulls.” Younger bulls in musth, a heightened state of aggression during which testosterone levels can be 10 times as high as normal, will be more likely to fight each other when an older bull is absent.
At 15 yards, the client could see every wrinkle draping the elephant. He aimed his 12-pound double rifle with its hand-engraved silver stock and fired directly at the heart. The bull turned and began to run, 30 yards before it fell. The client put one more shot in the brain, and it was done. The tusks weighed out at more than 70 pounds each. Within six hours the carcass had been stripped by the San, who took roughly three tons of meat for their families.
Two days later the hunting party found another big bull. The client fired a shot, bringing it down—but then, as another bull gave chase, he and Marnewecke ran for at least half a mile before the elephant lost interest in them. Eventually the process repeated: the flensing of the skin, the stripping of the bone, the feeding of families. With that elephant, Marnewecke’s quota for the year was filled. His client flew home; the tusks of the two elephants would follow, destined for his trophy room back in America.
I thought about those tusks in the weeks that followed, possessions now, totems of a fraught accomplishment. They were all that was left of two 15,000-pound sentient beings. Which brought me to Bobo Tsamkxao, the San chief, and his wives and children, and how they and others in the community would eat from those animals. And how they would receive money, at least indirectly, from those animals as well. But something still seemed askew: a paying client killing a vulnerable animal to feed the San or conserve Nyae Nyae’s land. Even if hunting is in our genes, as Denker said, the essential question remained: Was it moral to kill such an imperiled creature at this moment in our history?
After the hunters had packed up, the herds—sometimes called a “parade” of elephants, or even a “memory” of elephants—searched for water in temporary peace, unaware that another season would bring another group of hunters. We must imagine: Memories of elephants wandering all that contested space, some already with price tags on their head, there for us as things of wonder.