Kushner’s impossible task in the Middle East is the easy part

(CNN)Jared Kushner’s visit to Israel this week reflects an unexpected development in current Middle East politics.

It is not that Kushner’s chances for success are greater than those of a long list of special envoys, but rather that of all the problems in the region, it is the almost seven decades-long Arab-Israeli conflict that seems most amenable to US diplomacy.
This is because following what is universally referred to as the “Arab Spring,” major countries of the region have been plunged into instability, uncertainty, and violence that is well beyond Washington’s capacity to resolve.
    For many people across the region, the unfortunate fact is that life is worse than it was before they began pouring into the streets six years ago to demand freedom.
    Although support for Tunisia’s Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, and former Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi remains, people are for the most part pleased to be rid of them.
    Corruption, brutality, and violence marked the decades they were in power. But being happy that these dictators fell does not mean that people are better off.
    That is certainly not the case in Libya and two other failing or failed states in the Middle East, Yemen and Syria, where there were also uprisings in 2011. In Libya, not long after the uprising against his father began, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi warned that it would lead to “forty years” of violence.
    As the country has fragmented, rival armies, two different governments, and extremists have vied for control. Somewhere between 13,000 and 30,000 Libyans have lost their lives since 2011.

      Bassem Youssef: Egyptians are ‘upset’ and ‘tired’

    Syria is a vortex of violence. More than 400,000 people have been killed there since March 2011, when protests broke out against the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad. In addition to the staggering death toll, about half the population has been displaced in a conflict that now includes Russian, Iranian, Turkish, and US forces as well as a dizzying array of militias and extremist groups, including ISIS.
    If not for the Syrian war, the conflict in Yemen would likely be dominating world headlines. The country’s longtime ruler, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was also deposed in 2011, though he was not prepared to give up power so easily. His hand is evident in the current conflict there, which began when Houthi tribesmen drove Saleh’s successor out of power.
    The fight has cost an estimated 10,000 lives in the region’s poorest country, where Yemenis now face starvation and a massive outbreak of cholera.
    What about the countries that have not slipped into civil war?
    Egypt has had a turbulent six years, with three leadership changes and the development of a violent extremist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula that has spilled over into the country’s population centers, often targeting the Christian minority.
    Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has undertaken some important economic reforms and Egypt’s macroeconomic indicators are starting to point in the right direction. But average Egyptians are suffering with high inflation, low employment, nonexistent services and little opportunity.
    These problems existed during the Mubarak era, too, but there was also a measure of stability that attracted 15 million tourists in 2010, large amounts of foreign direct investment, and a political environment that was more permissive than it is now.
    In a speech to the nation the day before he was deposed, Mubarak warned his fellow Egyptians that the uprising against him would, in the end, cause suffering. He was right.
    Tunisia is often billed as the one Arab Spring success story, and by all measures it has done better than the other countries that experienced uprisings. The country has a new constitution that establishes clear checks on executive power, has had free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections (though turnout was a problem), and has a strong civic culture that pulled the country back from the edge of violence in the summer of 2013.
    At the same time, Tunisia has a weak government, a large bureaucracy that has proven resistant to change, and an economy that has continuously struggled to produce growth, and jobs along with it.
    According to the World Bank, Tunisia’s real GDP growth rate in 2015 (the last year for which data are available) was 1%, current unemployment rate is 15%, and inflation is at 5%.
    All of this represents a significant hardship for average Tunisians, though their economic situation is not all that different from the year prior to the protests that dislodged Ben Ali.

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    When the uprisings began in late 2010 and early 2011, the romance of the barricades was infectious.
    The region that the New York Times once called “Democracy’s Desert” seemed to be in bloom, and with it was the widely held expectation that this Arab Spring would produce democracies.
    The result turned out to be something considerably different. Like the era before the uprisings, the “new Middle East” is still authoritarian, but it is also unstable. This does not bode well for Arabs, Turks, Europeans and Americans, because the current uncertainty, instability, and, at times, unspeakable violence of the region — which has occasionally spilled out across continents — is likely to be the future of the Middle East for the next several years.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/21/opinions/kushner-middle-east-opinion-cook/index.html

    Inside La Colombe d’Or, modern art’s home on the French Riviera

    Cannes, France (CNN)Walking around La Colombe d’Or, a casual eye places it among the many inns dotting the French Riviera. This Provencal auberge wears its rustic charm like a badge of honor, or perhaps armor, warding off the dull trappings of the 21st century.

    Whitewashed plasterwork, scratched and scuffed, evokes simpler times. The inn’s many nooks and crannies speak of a building that has lived, breathed and grown over the years, before settling into reassuring, unrefined normality.

      Discovering the Riviera’s hidden masterpieces

    Except there’s nothing normal about La Colombe d’Or. Look closer and artworks start to emerge: a Picasso nestled in one corner, a Matisse in another. In the courtyard outside, an Alexander Calder mobile rotates in the breeze while a Fernand Lger mosaic remains unmoved.
      Some of the greatest names in modern art, nonchalantly arranged to look not only as if they belong, but as if they were created here. The thing is, some of them were.
      “[The artworks are] completely part of the house, so we don’t think of it anymore,” says the inn’s third-generation owner Daniele Roux. “But you can’t touch them, because the alarm system is so strong.”
      Perhaps unsurprisingly, she won’t be drawn on La Colombe d’Or’s insurance value.

      Tea with Matisse

      The story of La Colombe d’Or (which translates as “The Golden Dove”) is of a family that played the long game. In 1931, farmer’s son Paul Roux and his wife Baptistine opened their restaurant in a secluded corner of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, a medieval hilltop village west of Nice.
      Its raison d’etre was bon vivance; good food and good times, a place to while away lazy summer days, eat heartily and drink well.
      With a handful of rooms above a bustling eatery, there was nothing remarkable about the inn’s setup. What no one could have anticipated was the clientele drawn to this crumbling bolthole and its unlikely role as a meeting place for the creative elite of the 20th century.

      “Portrait of a woman,” by Henri Matisse.

      World War I drove many French artists south, where they took up residence along the Cote d’Azur. When peacetime came, some stayed. Among them were Fernand Lger and Georges Braque, who Paul — a versed, if not schooled art admirer — befriended. Alongside them, an aging Henri Matisse.
      “He didn’t really come in because at the time he had problems with his legs,” says Paul’s granddaughter-in-law, Daniele. “Paul Roux would spend time with him in [Matisse’s] limousine,” on occasion taking tea.
      The artist became a regular at La Colombe d’Or, and others soon followed, either as diners or lodgers.

      Actor Yves Montand at the Colombe d’Or in front of a mosaic by Leger, commissioned in the 1950s.

      Paul Roux was the fulcrum around which these artistic figures pivoted, “an autodidact and a man of lovely enthusiasm who, having begun to buy paintings, did not hesitate to provide accommodation for certain painters in exchange for their work,” writes Martine Prosper (nee Buchet) in the 1995 book “La Colombe d’Or.”
      Paul Roux was admired and respected — a working class Peggy Guggenheim, thoroughly ingratiated with a community of modern artists without being a creative name in his own right. (Under the advice of Matisse, Roux did pick up a paintbrush in later life. His artworks now hang alongside those of his famous friends — one is to the left of the Miro in the main dining room.)
      The guests’ wildly different styles, modes and philosophies all found a home under Roux’s roof. Within La Colombe there was commonality and community. Indeed, a sign hung above the inn’s entrance read “Ici on lodge a cheval, a pied ou en peinture” — “Lodgings for man, horse and painters.”

      The friendship of Picasso

      With the arrival of World War II, life in La Colombe d’Or held a reassuringly even keel, even as both German and American officers both found their way into its guest book.
      In the post-war years its reputation was further enhanced. Joan Miro, Marc Chagall and Cesar Baldaccini all added to the inn’s growing art collection.
      Pablo Picasso was a regular visitor and became firm friends with Paul. But the Spanish master left no impression on La Colombe’s walls until shortly before Paul’s death in 1953.

      Spanish painter Pablo Picasso at the bar of La Colombe d’Or during the 1950s.

      “Paul was not well physically, and Tichin [his wife’s nickname] was a strong woman,” recalls Daniele. “She went round to see Picasso and said: ‘You promised you would give him a painting one day.'”
      He offered three paintings and Paul chose one. “Flower Vase” still has pride of place. On the day of Paul’s funeral, Picasso was the first to pay his respects.

      Post-modernists

      Paul’s son Francis took the reigns, but one night in 1959 — disaster. All the paintings were stolen; all except one, a Chagall. The artist came down the next day, most irked, Daniele says. Clearly the thieves had poor taste. (Word spread of the theft and all the paintings were soon returned.)
      By the ’60s a new set was frequenting the inn. Intellectuals Jean-Paul Satre and Simone de Beauvoir would stay, while James Baldwin’s fiery rhetoric could often be heard at the dining table. The American iconoclast even relocated to the region after staying at La Colombe in 1970, remaining in the area until his death in 1987.

      “The Thumb” by Cesar (1965).

      As with so many things on the Cote d’Azur, the inn was not untouched by the Cannes Film Festival. Stars of the “Nouvelle Vague”, Brigitte Bardot and director Francois Truffaut, spent days in the dappled shade of La Colombe’s courtyard, along with Orson Welles, Charlie Chaplin and David Niven, while Roger Moore owned a house nearby. Its glamorous credentials were never in doubt — the kings of Sweden and Belgium, and Edward VIII (then Prince of Wales) all visited in the 1950s.
      Successive generations continue to pay pilgrimage.
      French literary titan Bernard-Henri Levy has written several of his books at La Colombe. Prosper and Martine Assouline, founders of their eponymous publishing company, based their first title on the inn, such was their adoration.

        Episode 14: The allure of French Riviera style

      Artworks continue to be added, most recently a giant ceramic apple by Irishman Sean Scully in 2007. New young names are scouted out by Daniele and Francois, though most works lie in storage. By and large, the painters have gone, and the region that inspired them has become a playground for people who buy masterpieces rather than those who paint them.
      But three generations in, there’s little sign this Provencal institution will cash out. A precedent was set by Paul Roux many years ago when a wealthy American tried to buy the business. He sent back a bouquet and a note: “These flowers are for you, La Colombe is for my son.”
      Daniele laughs at the mention of a fourth generation, batting away the question. “We have a son, we have a daughter, but we’re still here and we’re going to see what happens,” she says. There’s no pressure on them, she insists.
      If they one day accept the role, their charge will be to uphold an idiosyncratic space of art and life well lived — to find room, amid the modernist bricolage, for the next chapter of its story.

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/14/arts/la-colombe-dor-vence-art/index.html

      The Mummy review Tom Cruise returns in poorly bandaged corpse reviver

      Framed as more of a superhero origin movie than ancient curse mystery, a messy plot unravels fast

      Be afraid, for here it is again emerging waxily from the darkness. This disturbing figure must surely be thousands of years old by now, a princeling worshipped as a god but entombed in his own riches and status; remarkably well preserved. It is Tom Cruise, who is back to launch a big summer reboot of The Mummy, that classic chiller about the revived corpse from ancient Egypt, from which the tomb door was last prised off in a trilogy of films between 1999 and 2008 with the lantern-jawed and rather forgotten Brendan Fraser in the lead. And before that, of course, there were classic versions with Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee both variously getting the all-over St John Ambulance treatment.

      Traditionally, The Mummy is a scary movie (though un-serious) about taboo and transgression, based on the made-up pop myth about the mummys curse which has no basis in the history of ancient Egypt, but is a cheeky colonialist invention, which recasts local objection to our tomb-looting as something supernatural, malign and irrational.

      Yet that is not what this Mummy is about. It brings in the usual element of sub-Spielberg gung-ho capers, but essentially sees The Mummy as a superhero origin movie; or possibly supervillain; or Batmanishly both. The supporting characters are clearly there to be brought back as superhero-repertory characters for any putative Mummy franchise, including one who may well be inspired by Two-Face from The Dark Knight.

      Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/jun/07/the-mummy-review-tom-cruise

      Portland’s dark history of white supremacy

      The city is known for its liberalism. But a racially charged double murder sheds light on an enduring current of militant racism

      Ciaran Mulloy remembers how the neo-Nazis outnumbered the anti-racists in Portland in the 90s.

      A union organiser and anti-fascist, he was was deeply involved in fighting against the far rights infiltration of American youth culture in the 1980s and 90s. But when he arrived in the city in 1990, he said, we were not prepared for what was out there in Portland.

      There were multiple gangs, and 300 Nazis in a city of 300,000, he said, adding: The anti-racist youth were intimidated and isolated. The Nazis were just openly hanging out on the streets.

      Drawn to the overwhelmingly white population, Nazis brought violence to clubs, shows, and the streets, carried out gay bashings, and assaulted people of color.

      Two years before Mulloys arrival, three racist skinheads beat Mulugeta Seraw, an Ethiopian student, to death in a suburban street. And in 1993, a racist skinhead named Eric Banks was shot dead by John Bair, a member of Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice.

      Its not hyperbolic to call it a war, he said. There was intense fighting. The racially charged double murder on a Portland train last week may seem at odds with the citys current image, and self-perception, as liberal. But actually, the history of Portland, and of Oregon, reveals an enduring current of white supremacy and militant racism, experts say, that is apparent in the far and recent past.

      Nearly two centuries of exclusion, violence and intimidation have resulted in the whitest major city in the United States, in a state that has in the past been fertile ground for the growth of extremism. Last Fridays violent attack came amid a new wave of alt-right organizing, but Portlands very whiteness has attracted far right groups to attempt to make inroads in the city for more than 30 years.

      Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/31/portland-white-supremacy-racism-train-stabbing-murder

      23 Million Fewer People Would Have Coverage Under Obamacare Repeal Bill, CBO Confirms

      Twenty-three million fewer Americans would have insurance under legislation that House Republicans narrowly passed last month, the Congressional Budget Office reported on Wednesday.

      The CBO also predicted that the deficit would come down by $119 billion over the next decade and that premiums for people buying insurance on their own would generally be lower for younger consumers and higher for older and sicker people than those premiums would be if the Affordable Care Act stays in place.

      But the reasons why health insurance would be less expensive for some arent much to cheer about, the budget report makes clear. Prices would come down for healthy people because those who are sick or have illness in their medical histories would have less access to coverage and the policies available on the market would tend to be a lot less comprehensive.

      In other words, the price for lower premiums would be some combination of higher out-of-pocket costs, fewer covered services, and coverage that would be harder to get for the people who need it most.

      Insurance, on average, would pay for a smaller proportion of health care costs, the CBO report says. The budget office even predicts that several million people will opt to use the bills new tax credits to buy plans so bare-boned that they dont even qualify as health insurance.

      The American Health Care Act the House bill to repeal most of Obamacare would take away $1.1 trillion from programs that help people get covered, including $834 billion in cuts to Medicaid, over the course of a decade.

      The result would be 51 million Americans without health insurance by 2026, compared with 28 million under current law. The House-passed bill would effectively reverse all of the Affordable Care Acts coverage expansion, which pushed the uninsured rate to a historic low.

      Coverage losses would begin soon, with 14 million more uninsured next year, 19 million more by 2020 and 23 million more by 2026, the report finds. The largest share of the lower coverage numbers would come from the 14 million fewer low-income people who qualify for Medicaid. The rise in the uninsured would fall hardest on low-income people aged 50 to 64, the CBO projected.

      Health insurance premiums for young adults generally would come down, in part because policies would be less comprehensive. A 21-year-old could buy an unsubsidized policy for as little as $3,700 a year under the House bill, compared to $5,100 under the Affordable Care Act.

      But the other side of that ledger reveals significantly higher costs for older people. A 64-year-olds annual unsubsidized premium would rise from $15,300 to as much as $21,000.

      Wednesdays assessment of the American Health Care Act is relatively similar to the evaluations the budget office issued previously, when it studied earlier versions of the legislation.

      In late April, House leaders rushed to vote on the bill less than 24 hours after making significant modifications, without waiting for the budget office to study how those changes to Obamacare might affect insurance coverage or the federal deficit.

      One of those changes would have allow states to waive a rule that prohibits insurers from charging higher premiums to people at greater risk of medical problems. Without that rule in place, insurers could jack up rates for people with pre-existing conditions, effectively making standard coverage unavailable and violating a key promise to guarantee insurance for everybody regardless of medical status, which most Republicans had endorsed.

      In March, the House had failed to bring an earlier version of the legislation to the floor for a vote, embarrassing Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and President Donald Trump, who were unable to pull together factions within the House Republican Conference. After that, conservatives from the House Freedom Caucus and more moderate lawmakers led by Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) negotiated a deal that enabled Republican leaders to cobble together just enough votes to pass the bill in the lower chamber. Trump held a celebration at the White House afterward.

      The new language placated conservatives, who wanted to repeal more of the Affordable Care Acts consumer protections, and some moderates, who expressed concern about major coverage losses and about harming people with pre-existing conditions and who won additional funds meant to mitigate those problems.

      Based on the CBO score, the moderates didnt actually get what they wanted.

      The House-passed legislation would reduce the number of people with health coverage by just 1 million fewer than the earlier legislation.

      And the bills ballyhooed waivers for states that want to curtail the Affordable Care Acts guarantee of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions is the main reason that the CBO projected older and sicker people would have a harder time obtaining coverage. The money that moderate Republicans won to protect these people would help some but would be inadequate to maintain current levels of coverage and benefits, the budget office concluded.

      Based mostly on states pre-Obamacare insurance regulations, the CBO made assumptions about how many would obtain those waivers. The report does not name the states.

      One-sixth of Americans reside in states that would likely aggressively deregulate their insurance markets, allowing health insurers to charge higher rates to people with pre-existing conditions who experience a gap in coverage say,from a job loss that lasted more than 63 days. These states also are expected to seek waivers that would eliminate requirements to cover any type of medical care like prescriptions and would add annual and lifetime caps on coverage, according to the budget analysis.

      Those state insurance markets would begin to destabilize for people with pre-existing conditions in 2020, the CBO predicted. People whose health status would pass muster with insurers would have access to less costly coverage than today, but those who were ill or had past health problems would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive nongroup health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all, the report says.

      About one-third of Americans live states that would likely make more modest changes to their insurance rules, such as excluding a few specific benefits that are mandatory under Obamacare or allowing insurers to charge consumers extra for riders to cover those benefits. A maternity coverage rider, for example, might increase premiums by more than $1,000 a month, the CBO estimated. Overall, prices in these states would be lower for younger people than for older ones. Policies in general would require more out-of-pocket spending on things like deductibles and copayments, and the cost of uncovered services would be borne entirely by patients.

      For the remaining half of Americans, their states would be expected to retain most of the Affordable Care Acts insurance guarantees for people with pre-existing conditions and its required benefits, like hospitalizations, prescription drugs and maternity care. In those markets, premiums would come down for younger consumers and rise for older ones.

      Theres no magic behind the bills effects on the budget deficit. The House approved a measure that would slash federal support for low- and middle-income families to obtain health coverage. Most of the money saved by cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid and hundreds of billions more from financial assistance for those buying private health insurance would be transferred to wealthy households and health care companies in the form of tax cuts, with only a small amount left over for deficit reduction.

      The Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obamas signature domestic policy achievement, provides tax credits for private insurance and expanded the Medicaid program, which offers government-sponsored insurance to low-income people.

      The Affordable Care Act has also prohibited insurance practices like placing annual or lifetime limits on benefits that made it difficult for people with the most serious medical problems to pay their bills. And, crucially, the law includes an outright prohibition against insurers rejecting people with pre-existing conditions or charging them higher rates than healthy people.

      But to finance the coverage expansion, the law raised taxes, predominantly on health care companies and the very wealthy. It also forced some people, particularly those whose relatively good health once gave them access to cheap coverage, to pay substantially higher premiums.

      Some of these people have decided not to get insurance altogether, making it harder for insurers to balance their books to the point where many insurers have raised rates considerably or abandoned some local markets entirely. Nevertheless, the new CBO analysis projects that most of these markets would remain stable over time under current law.

      Democrats have generally called for bolstering the Affordable Care Act by making tax credits more generous, for example, or using government bargaining power to drive down drug prices while leaving in place the expansions of Medicaid and all the new insurance rules.

      Republicans, by contrast, have sought to weaken or eliminate those rules and to ratchet back spending on tax credits and Medicaid all while rolling back Obamacares taxes, giving relief to the corporations and wealthy people who pay them.

      The House bill would do that, and now its up to the Senateto consider, modify or rewrite that legislation. Even before the House bill passed, a number of Senate Republicans were raising objections about the number of people who might lose coverage as a result. Nevertheless, the Senate GOP is on track to put together legislation of their own that would massively cut back the Medicaid program and provide far less help for those who buy private insurance.

      Republicans face a backlash from some voters for undoing the Affordable Care Acts most popular provisions, and the bill violates Trumps oft-stated promise that he would replace the law with something better that covered everyone with lower premiums and lower out-of-pocket costs.

      But Republicans also fear the wrath of their core supporters, who strongly support the GOP keeping its years-old vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

      Republican leaders in the Senate have said they hope to vote on a bill before adjourning for the August recess.

      Just over one-quarter of Americans say they support the House-passed bill, according to aHuffPost/YouGov pollpublished Wednesday. Forty-four percent oppose it, while 31 percent said they were unsure. Views of the Affordable Care Act remain almost evenly divided, but 42 percent said the Republican bill would be worse,while only 23 percent said it would be an improvement.

      This article has been updated with additional details, including from the Congressional Budget Office report and the findings of a HuffPost/YouGov survey.

      CORRECTION: The CBO predicted that under the House-passed bill, there would be 23 million additional uninsured Americans by 2026, not 2016.

      Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gop-health-care-bill-congressional-budget-office_us_5924e896e4b00c8df29feb68

      Jordan Trail: A trek through history via ancient villages and wild wadis

      (CNN)Picture the Appalachian Trail in California, or the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

      That’s the Jordan Trail, and only a slice of it.
      The 650-kilometer trail takes about 40 days to complete, starting at the northern tip of Jordan in the city of Umm Qais and ending in Aqaba in the south, where hikers meet the country’s only coastline.
        Jordan is more than just desert, and the cross-section of the nation that the Jordan Trail cuts through is a tour de force in diversity.

        ‘Unique experience’

        Hikers move through four ecosystems, defined by lush and fertile valleys in the north, then on to rugged canyons along the Dead Sea, waterfalls and hot springs in the semi-arid central regions, and finally towards the famed Wadi Rum desert in the south.
        The trail takes old Roman and Ottoman roads through Petra, the Nabatean city that is as famed as it is mystical, and which dates back to about 300 BC. Today, it’s the postcard picture of Jordan.
        Officially opened in February 2017, the Jordan Trail is being billed as a new tourism initiative pegged on inclusivity. The route features 52 local villages, which hikers use as points of lodging, providing business opportunities for towns newly introduced to the tourism trade.
        Trekker Olivia Mason, 25, from Glasgow, Scotland — among the trail’s first hikers — says the route opens up new experiences.
        “We stayed with one family in Khirbet Al Souq and we were only their second guests,” she tells CNN.
        “They gave us their whole house to sleep in and moved in with relatives nearby. We talked with the family about their lives and the area, and in the morning we watched the children go to school in their uniforms. It is these encounters that make the trail a really unique way to experience Jordan.”

        New tourism

        Often classified as an adventure trail, the tour is more suitable for those in strong physical condition, but is still open to a large range of hikers.
        Mahmoud Bdoul, one of the guides along the Jordan Trail, has been taking tourists through Petra for 10 years, and says the trail offers a great escape from the trappings of modernity.
        “When you complete the trail and arrive in Aqaba, you realize the noise of cars has been absent from your life for a month,” Mahmoud said last year after doing the first technical walk-through for the hike.

        Mahmoud was born in a cave in Petra and his Bedouin upbringing introduced him to the peace of the desert at an early age.
        “I spent two years living in the cave where I was born until 1985 when Petra became a UNESCO heritage site,” he says. “The government made an agreement with my Bedouin clan and we moved out of the caves to a new village built on the north side of Petra.”
        Mahmoud’s village became one of the first beneficiaries of the tourism trade in Jordan.
        “The people in my village, as traditional Bedouins, used to depend on goat-herding and growing agricultural crops, such as parsley, wheat and olives,” he adds.
        As a student of sustainable tourism, Mahmoud believes the most vivid memories hikers will take away will be of the people they meet.
        “Visitors will be surprised with the hospitality of Jordanians,” says Mahmoud. “The trail really lets the trekkers enjoy dealing directly with locals in their Jordanian environment, seeing them in their villages and experiencing their daily lives.”
        As Mason completes one of the first publicly open walk-throughs of the trail, she’s living the experience first-hand.
        “There is so much history throughout the trail, of course including Petra, but also sites such as Ajloun Castle, Karak Castle and Iraq Al Amir,” she says.
        “But the culture, too, shines, whether through the homestays where local food is always eaten or people that always welcome you into their home.
        “Everyone always says that if you stopped for everyone who offered a cup of tea on the trail, you’d never finish.”

        Jordan Trail highlights

        Um Qais
        This northernmost point of the Jordan Trail sets hikers off into a panorama that isn’t often associated with the country, let alone the Middle East.
        Verdant forests filled with the sounds of birds and farm animals greet your early footsteps along the route.
        The northeast corner of the nation is where most of the country’s population is located and there are lots of villages along the way, as well as Bedouin herders who mush their goats and sheep with authority.
        This region is truly the most representative of the overall Jordanian population, yet the least known to foreigners.
        Wadi Mujib
        This wadi — the Arabic word for valley — cuts through a central section of the Three Wadis region and opens up on to the Dead Sea.
        The area is a designated reserve, and contains a number of migratory bird species that are popular among bird-spotters.
        During the spring and summer seasons, Wadi Mujib’s canyons fill with water, creating mild rapids you can float down.
        Wadi Hasa
        In south-central Jordan, hikers pass through Wadi Hasa, an area filled with limestone waterfalls and babbling brooks.
        The water from these rivers is used by local farmers, who can be seen growing a host of vegetables, including tomatoes and melons.
        Wadi Hasa also has historical value. The valley, known in Hebrew as Zered, is mentioned in the Torah and the Old Testament, especially the books of Deuteronomy and Numbers, as the place where the Israelites camped on their final approach to Moab.
        Petra and Wadi Rum
        The crown jewels of Jordan’s tourism industry, Petra and Wadi Rum are the highlight of Jordan’s southern desert heartland.
        Here, geology is a natural form of art that shows off its dazzling skills in swirls of sandstone painted in russet palettes on rocks.
        Homestays in Jordan have traditionally been most popular here, where visitors can camp out with Bedouins and ride camels across the mountainous desert of Wadi Rum, living out their own personal reenactment of “Lawrence of Arabia” (which was also filmed here).

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/17/travel/jordan-trail-trekking-highlights/index.html

        Can this slow dating app work in our modern, fast-swipe era?

        Image: appetence / mashable composite 

        Speed is of the essence in our modern age of fast-swipe online dating. So much so that the process of swiping, matching, and chatting can feel like a race to to that great (or not so great, depending) finish line we call a date.

        But a brand new dating app wants people to take things slow real slow, in fact using the ancient art of conversation to seduce matches. It’s pretty groundbreaking stuff for those getting by with the odd “DTF?” message on Tinder.

        Appetence, which is free to download on iOS from the iTunes store and claims to be the world’s first “slow dating” app, forces users to talk to each other before they can see each other’s profile pictures.

        How so? Upon downloading the app, users are asked to select a bunch of their interests and tastes relating to music, gastronomy, movies, TV, books, and even pets. The app’s “slow matchmaking” algorithm then shows you compatible profiles based on your interests and search settings.

        Unlike Tinder, Bumble, and basically every other dating app out there, the app won’t just show you photos of your match. You have to earn that privilege by talking to them. When you first start conversing with your match, your profile photo appears entirely covered by a pattern.

        Image: rachel thompson / mashable

        Image: rachel thompson / mashable

        As you chat with your match you have the opportunity to like the messages or “encounters” they send you. The more you like, the more pieces of your profile photo are revealed. But it’s not easy. Your match needs 50 likes in order to see your full profile photo. And you, in return, need 50 likes to see theirs. Which means you’ll both need to have some serious banter.

        This slow approach to dating is certainly novel in a world where speedy swipes are based largely on profile photos, and you can kind of see the point: “Unfortunately, our society today promotes relationships with increasingly fragile ties. ‘Fast Dating’ has made many women and men tired of not feeling special,” says Appetence founder Camilla Forsell.

        “The conversations have become monotonous and similar, and having a ‘Match’ is no longer as exciting as the first few times,” Forsell continues, adding that she wants people to “seduce” one another using just “their way with words.” Hmmm.

        But, the real question is: Do people really have the time and patience to invest in a protracted conversation with someone you might not actually fancy? In the age of fast swiping, most of us just want to get in and get out of dating apps as soon as possible. And for most of us, actually seeing someone is part of that equation.

        Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/10/slow-dating-app-appetence/

        How much would fictional houses cost in real life?

        (CNN)From Great Gatsby’s luxury estate to Count Dracula’s Transylvanian lair and Amelie Poulain’s tiny Parisian pad, the houses in which our favorite fictional characters reside are often inspired by real-life properties.

        CNN tracked down some of literary and cinematographic history’s most famous post codes and calculated their value in today’s property markets. Use the slider tool to reveal their prices.

        The Great Gatsby (1925), F. Scott Fitzgerald

          Great Gatsby’s home in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novelis a symbol of1920s wealth in America.
          “In his blue garden men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars,” the narrator says of Gatsby’s buzzing property.
          One of the properties thought to have inspired Fitzgerald — and director Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 film adaptation, the source of the image above — is the Beacon Towers in Great Neck, Long Island, near where the author lived between 1922 and 1924, and wrote the first three chapters of the novel.
          Demolished in 1945, the Gothic building had belonged to suffragette and architectural designer Alva Belmont, who threw opulent parties for the city’s elite.
          All this history combined with literary fame, would have further upped the mansion’s price today, says associate broker Maggie Keats of Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

          Master and Margarita (1967), Mikhail Bulgakov

          The famous, morbid ball scene in Bulgakov’s novel was partly inspired by wild parties held at the Spaso House, the US ambassador to Russia’s residence since 1933.
          Bulgakov and his wife attended one such revelry in 1935, where live pheasants, baby bears, goats and roosters mingled with guests in smoking jackets and ball dresses.
          According to Savills global real-estate agent, the value of the Spaso House today puts it in the top 5% of Moscow’s real estate.
          Despite this, the US government paid $3 per year between 1990 and 2004 to rent the building — this fixed price was set by a Soviet-era contract, which devalued after the collapse of the USSR. The rent has since changed but is a secret.

          Sherlock Holmes,Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

          When Conan Doyle wrote his detective series, the real Baker Street in London stopped in the 100s — 221B didn’t exist.
          When the street was renumbered in the 1930s, the Abbey National Building Society bank was assigned the notorious number 221.
          The bank received so many letters addressing the famous detective that it hired a secretary to respond to the queries.
          A dispute over whether the Sherlock Holmes Museum — located at 239 Baker Street, and opened in 1990 — or the bank should receive such letters was resolved in 2002, when the bank left the building.
          The Holmes Museum, which emulates the detective’s home, is technically located between 237 and 241 Baker Streetalthough special permission from the City of Westminster allowed it to list its addressas 221b.
          The property’s current exorbitant price tag may have proved challenging even for the celebrity detective, due to the explosion of London’s property market over the past 20 years.

          Pippi Longstocking, Astrid Lindgren

          The nine-year-old Swedish children’s book heroine Pippi lives in Villa Villekulla with a monkey, Mr Nilsson, and a horse who is usually found on the porch. One of the house’s main treasures is the tree that grows Swedish soda water.
          The house pictured above, built for the 1969 Swedish TV series based on Lindgren’s books, is now the Pippi Longstocking Museum located at the heart of an attraction parkin the small town of Kneippbyn on Sweden’s Gotland Island.

          In the Mood For Love (2000), Wong Kar-wai

          The two small flats where this movie plays out shape the plot and atmosphere of this classic romance, as neighbors Chow Mo-wan and Su Li-zhen learn that their spouses are having an affair.
          The typically cramped Hong Kong properties reflect the characters’ lack of privacy — they are constantly spied upon by other neighbors and their landlords — and are a catalyst for them falling in love.
          But there is also a political context. By the early 1960s — the era depicted in the film — thousands of Shanghai exiles had moved to Hong Kong, especially to the North Point neighborhood.
          Many of them were wealthy business people (like Su’s husband) and intellectuals (such as Chow), and expecting their move to be temporary they led a separate life to locals, which explains the characters’ sense of alienation.
          Engel & Vlkers estimated the value based on the cost of an average 861-square-foot (80sqm)flat in a traditional walk-up in North Point, Hong Kong.

          One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), Gabriel Garca Mrquez

          The house in which generations of the Buenda family live, love and die in the fictional village of Macondo was inspired by Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s grandparents’ home in Aracataca, Colombia, where the author grew up.
          “Neither my mother nor I, of course, could even have imagined that this simple two-day trip (to sell my grandparents’ house) would be so decisive that the longest and most diligent of lives would not be enough for me to finish recounting it,” Marquez wrote about his trip to the house as a young man in his autobiography “Living to Tell the Tale”.
          Based on Marquez’s writings, Colombia’s Ministry of Culture in 2010 spent $350,000 reconstructing the house — which had been demolished — and opened it as a museum in the author’s name.

          Dracula (1897), Bram Stoker

          The Bran Castle in Brasov, which is now owned by the Romanian royal family, is generally associated with the famous vampire Dracula, and consequently receives 800,000 visitors a year.
          But there isn’t any historical evidence to support the myth around Bran. Built in the early 13th century by the Teutonic knights, the castle has no concrete link to Vlad Tepes — the Wallachian medieval king who inspired Stoker’s vampire. While Tepes ordered the killing of many Saxons in Brasov, it is not known if he ever stepped foot in the castle.
          Nevertheless, Forbes magazine deemed the property to be the most expensive European home in 2007.
          Romanian real estate agents Transylvanian Properties used that figure to make their estimate, taking into account subsequent renovations and extensions.

          Amlie, (2001), Jean-Pierre Jeunet

          This film’s whimsical depiction of contemporary Parisian life revolves around Amlie Poulain, a shy waitress who lives in a tiny Montmartre flat.
          With its crimson walls, replica Renaissance paintings, and pig-shaped bedside table lamp, the flat reflects Amlie’s cheekiness and charm.
          The neighborhood is part of the 18th arrondissement, in north Paris, near the Sacre-Coeur basilica, the Moulin Rouge cabaret and a Dali museum. Montmartre became famous as an artists’ hub, where the likes of Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh lived, attracted by the cheap rents.
          But this is not the case anymore — the general increase in property prices across Paris, as well as tourism and the municipal renovations in the area, led to a 260% increase in property prices from 2000 to 2016, according to MeilleursAgents.
          Amlie set locations are part ofthe tourists’ route, and the film might have played a role in the neighborhood’s property price rise.

          Out of Africa (1937), Karen Blixen

          In her memoir, Danish author Blixen described in detail the Nairobi farmhouse in which she lived from 1917 until 1931 — a description which later informed the 1985 film of the same name starring Meryl Streep.
          After Blixen’s return to Europe, the house had multiple owners until in 1964 the Danish government bought it and gave it to the Kenyan government as an independence gift.
          Initially, the government used the building as a college principal’s home, but it opened it as a museum in 1986, after the success of “Out of Africa” the movie.
          The film, however, was shot in a different house in Kenya, which had previously belonged to Ngina Kenyatta, the widow of the east African country’s first President Jomo Kenyatta.

          And one that really is fictional…

          Hogwarts is the center of the Harry Potter world. Built in the Scottish Highlands in 993 AD, according to JK Rowling’s texts, this old ruined castle features 142 staircases, ample towers, turrets and forests, as well as a quidditch field and lake.
          The Harry Potter films usedseveral locations in England to recreate the magic of Hogwarts, including the banquet hall at Christ Collegeand the Bodleian Library in Oxford, Gloucester Cathedral and Alnwick Castle in Northumberland.
          Because of this, CNN asked a real estate expert to estimate the approximate value of thefictional building only, excluding fields and forests, and assuming it were located in the Scottish Highlands.

          Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/26/architecture/famous-fictional-houses-one-square-meter/index.html

          How to photograph Hanoi like the city’s Instagram stars

          (CNN)From food-fueled itineraries to quiet cultural corners, Hanoi is a photographer’s dream destination.

          With a penchant for side streets and quiet lakes, these Instagram stars explore the city’s rooftops, coffee shops and the French colonial Old Quarter.

          The night owl

            March 22, 2015. Hanoi, Vietnam. A couple poses for pre wedding photos at sunset on the side of Hoan Kiem lake. #couple #pose #photoshoot #hoankiem #lake #sunset #preweeding #wedding #groom #bride #kiss #intimacy #cinematic #fun #travel #documentary #hanoi #vietnam #ReportageSpotlight #everydayvietnam #everydayasia #everydayeverywhere

            A post shared by Linh Pham (@phamhaduylinh) on

            With more than 70,000 followers on Instagram and a career as a photojournalist and documentarian, Linh Pham is among Vietnam’s most talented photographers.
            After studying graphic design in college, Pham spent two years traveling the world as a freelance photographer.
            But he felt a lack of connection to these places and soon returned to find his roots in Hanoi.
            In 2015, he began photographing the city, capturing its energy, people and social issues — re-exploring his hometown through oft-overlooked details.
            “I want to tell the world about contemporary Vietnam through my photos,” says Pham.

            Test post here. The cool folks at @instagram just allow us to post landscape photos along with the same old square starting from today. Instagram created a new shooting habit for me as I'm shooting 1:1 with the phone exclusively these days. Let see what people come up with this new (to Instagram) tweak! March 22, 2015. Hanoi, Vietnam. Police officers watch over the crowd attending Earth Hour in front of Hanoi Opera House. #landscape #police #officer #policeman #crowd #flare #night #opera #theater #earthhour #travel #documentary #hanoi #vietnam #everydayvietnam #everydayasia #everydayeverywhere

            A post shared by Linh Pham (@phamhaduylinh) on

            “It’s not just the kind of postcard landscape you would expect from the guidebook. As a developing country, Vietnam has a lot more stories to offer.”
            As a local, Pham says he knows many “backstage” shots and alternative angles to show Hanoi from a fresh perspective.
            “I love photos with layers — the kind of photos that make you stop and look more closely to really figure out what’s going on in the scene,” he adds.
            He gravitates to the Long Bien Market at midnight to capture night-shift workers in action, walks around at 5 a.m. before sunrise to enjoy the silent streets and climbs to rooftop apartments to see the city from above.
            But even if you’re not quite so committed to roaming the streets from dusk to dawn, Pham suggests a few more accessible photography opportunities.

              #MyHanoi: Photojournalist Linh Pham

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            “In Vietnam, life happens on the streets — just walking around provides you with glimpses about how people are and have always been living,” he says.
            “It’s heaven for street photography because of the vibrant activities outside.”
            He suggests stopping to try the local sweet soup — a glass of crushed ice with tapioca balls and grass jelly — while watching the city come to life.
            “To some people it’s a noisy and congested city, but there are secret quiet corners right at the heart of Hanoi,” he says.
            “On the surface it looks old, chaotic or plain dirty, but with patience and empathy, one can surely find beauty and order in every frame.”

            The peace-seeker

            Lm sao thi bay thnh ph nhu nt c k Nhng ngy bt nhp ph khn Thng 2, c iu chi i ti

            A post shared by Lan Chi (@caracat) on

            A Hanoi native, 30-year-old Lan Chi Tran has a deep connection with her hometown — evident on her vibrant Instagram feed, where she has 9,000-plus followers.
            “Hanoi is a dreamy city,” says Tran. “Some people say that my images are simple and touching. It makes them miss Hanoi, or makes them really want to go to Hanoi.”
            The graphic designer doubles as a street photographer, chronicling her favorite teashops, streets and moments in Hanoi.
            Tran pursues photography as way to relax — even in busy Hanoi, she finds peace through her practice.

            Ch khu nh rn rng nng lung linh

            A post shared by Lan Chi (@caracat) on

            “I often go around by myself, and when I observe slowly and feel it with all of my senses, I see beauty everywhere,” she explains. “It’s a way of meditation for me — a way of mindfulness.”
            Tran says every corner of Hanoi is inspiring — from coffee shops to trees, people, architecture and old-world charm.
            For colorful and calming surrounds, she suggests Phan Dinh Phung Street, a tree-lined avenue dotted with French villas and Chinese mansions.
            She also recommends Ly Dao Thanh Street, in the old quarter behind Hotel Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi and, of course West Lake, the city’s largest freshwater lake.

              #MyHanoi: Street photographer Lan Chi Tran

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            “I always feel calm when being at these places,” she says. “The streets are always crowded but when you are there, it’s somehow very quiet and peaceful.”
            When showing friends around town, Tran skips the big-name restaurants and heads instead to her favorite local coffee shops and cafes.
            She likes to tuck into lunch at Crab Noodle along Nha Tho Alley or sip on soup at Sweet Soup on Hang Bo Street.
            “When I am taking pictures, I want something colorful,” she says. “I like to play with the colors — and I want happy photos.”

            The culture hound

            Ao Dai in the traffic. #vietnam #vietnamese #ig_vietnam #everydayeverywhere #everydayvietnam #everydaysoutheastasia #usa #ig_worldclub #wanderlust #aodai #hanoi #picoftheday #lensculture #lensculturestreets #streetphotography #streetphoto #viagem #viaje #travelgram #natgeotravel #asia #streetstyle #ig_respect #igturko #us #nightshot #igglobalclub #photooftheday #condenast #ig_spain

            A post shared by Javier Puig Saura (@javierpuigsaura) on

            Originally from Minorca, in Spain, 42-year-old Javier Puig Saura moved to Hanoi in 2014, when he was posted at the Spanish Embassy in Hanoi.
            A career diplomat, Javier says he was immediately blown away by the energy and color in Hanoi — so much so, that it inspired him to resume his long-neglected hobby of photography.
            “I was so surprised by everything I saw — the traffic, the buildings, the people, the food — that I wanted to share it with family and friends back in Spain,” Javier tells CNN Travel.
            “After a year in Hanoi, one of my best friends came to visit us and talked to me about Instagram, encouraging me to post my pictures there.”
            The more he shot, the more Javier wanted to see and discover — all the while posting on his dynamic Instagram feed.
            “Life, from birth to death, happens on the streets,” says Javier. “And there is also this fabulous mix of tradition and modernity, European influence and Asian character.”

            Chc mng nm mi Once again thousands of kumquat trees are being delivered all around Hanoi by fast and somewhat rash motorbikes. Kumquat is a symbol of luck, wealth and hapiness. Tt, the new lunar year, is getting close! Get ready for the year of the Rooster!!! #vietnam #vietnamese #hanoi #hanoianstotravel #everydayvietnam #everydaysoutheastasia #everydayeverywhere #ig_vietnam #ig_spain #picoftheday #photooftheday #travel #travelgram #travelphotography #wanderlust #tet #buddhism #natgeo #natgeotravel #asia #photojournalism #nikon #streetlife #viajar #streephotography #visitvietnam #bike #newyear #travelasia #lensculturestreets

            A post shared by Javier Puig Saura (@javierpuigsaura) on

            When Javier sets out to shoot, he typically avoids landscapes and food, gravitating instead towards people.
            But street photography is tough. He says it’s akin to going fishing or hunting — luck must be on your side.
            Instead of simply snapping away, Javier usually begins with a conversation.
            “Basically, taking pictures is an excuse to meet people so I use the camera as a pretext,” says Javier, who regularly sits down to share a beer with his subjects and even delivers printed photos later as a gift.
            “For me to trigger the camera is the last act on a long series of actions. I like to find a true little story, something unimportant but real as life.”
            A few of his best fishing expeditions have occurred in the Old Quarter, which Javier says is endlessly photogenic with its yellow facades, French colonial architecture, and bustling motor traffic.

              #MyHanoi: Javier Puig Saura

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            He often visits Hoan Kiem Lake, where he finds Hanoians of all ages exercising, performing Aikido — a Japanese martial art — or just taking a stroll, ice cream in hand.
            On the first and 15th day of each month, Javier visits major pagodas and temples — like the Tran Quoc pagoda or Phu Tay Ho temple — to take portraits of the calligraphers who work there during the busy holidays.
            “Their job is to write in old Vietnamese characters the wishes and prayers of the worshippers in papers that they will then burn in the fire of the pagoda,” explains Javier.
            “The smoke is supposed to convey the wishes to the heavenly gods. They wear long beards and are dressed in colorful robes — it’s a beautiful sight.”

            The coffee connoisseur

            I used to love all the ghost stories in this book! Classic! #lieutrai #ghoststories #cafe #reading books #coffeebreak #vietnamesecoffee #lieutraichidi #nhanam #iphonography

            A post shared by Bien Nguyen (@bienontheroad) on

            Although he grew up in a small village, just outside of Hanoi, Bien Thuy Nguyen didn’t feel any connection to the city until he moved there as an adult.
            The Instagrammer — who shoots under the moniker Bien on the Road — relocated to Hanoi eight years ago to attend university.
            “I am not a city boy, but Hanoi is always my city, and my favorite city,” says Nguyen.
            “I got my first camera in 2008. I was shooting in my free time with friends … I fell in love with Hanoi and all its charms. All the historical and cultural layers inspire me.”
            Now a full-time liaison officer at the UN International School in Hanoi, Nguyen says photography is a hobby — not a profession.
            He snaps photos while traveling or wandering around Hanoi, focusing on people and street scenes.

            T tm #playingcards #hanoi #vietnam #instatravel #travelgram #instadaily #wanderlust #instagram #ig_travel #ig_hanoi #ig_street #ig_myshot #ig_vietnam #travel360 #travellife #travelphotography #traveladdict #travelling #tourists #oldmen #hanoistreetlife #hanoipavements #littleplasticchairs #hiddencharm

            A post shared by Bien Nguyen (@bienontheroad) on

            “The people and their daily life in the city are like watching a film — lively and interesting,” he says.
            “I take photos of whatever happens on the streets, or at secret corners, quiet alleys, beautiful architecture such as temples, churches, castles… of course coffee shops too.”
            Nguyen captures cafes for his side project Hanoi Hideaway — a site and app dedicated to finding Hanoi’s rich coffee culture.
            “You can also find many interesting stories about the city and its history in coffee shops.”
            Nguyen recommends Loading T, located in a French villa featuring exposed brick walls and mosaic tiled floors, the coffee shop is known for serving one of Hanoi’s best “egg coffees.”
            The thick coffee drink is a local staple, made with egg yolk in lieu of milk, coffee powder, condensed milk and butter.

              #MyHanoi: Bien Thuy Nguyen

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            Then there’s Nhac Xua Cafe, a historic music spot, which began as an amplifier and speaker repair shop.
            “When he first opened (the repair shop), the owner would serve customers green tea and play old music — mostly Vietnamese pre-war songs — while they waited,” explains Nguyen.
            “People loved it and asked the owner to turn that shop into a coffee shop. Sitting on the tiny bamboo chairs by Westlake in the evening and listening to old music will bring you back to the old days of Vietnam.”

            The storyteller

            Hng nc tr huyn thoi #teashop #hanoi #hometown #vietnam #travel #dailylife #nov2016 #ricohgr

            A post shared by Hai Thanh (@haithanhptw) on

            A Hanoi-born documentary photographer, Hai Thanh keeps a “visual diary” of day-to-day life in Vietnam on his popular Instagram account.
            Formerly a photojournalist, working at local newspapers and magazines, Thanh has been photographing the city since 2004.
            “In the early years, I used street photography as a tool to develop my own voice,” says Thanh.
            “The city is an eternal inspiration of mine — it’s kind of like my big house. I have everything here: family, job, friends, foods and love.”

            #streetvendors #flowers #oldquarter #hanoi #hometown #vietnam #dailylife #travel #streetphotography #nov2016 #instagram #ricohgr

            A post shared by Hai Thanh (@haithanhptw) on

            The self-taught photographer turns a lens on the city’s social issues, including living conditions and the evolution of the city.
            “I try to capture the emotions inside the pictures,” he says. “When I’m on the street and taking photos, it keeps me motivated.”
            “I never expect the perfect picture — I just enjoy photography and finding one moment at a time.”
            For Thanh, the most interesting aspect of photographing Hanoi is its people — around Hoan Kiem Lake, in the Old Quarter or around the markets to see everyday life in the city.

              #MyHanoi: Maika Elan and Hai Thanh

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            “I love taking photographs of crowds — it’s a lot of fun,” Thanh says. “For travelers, I would send them to the narrow alleys, where residents live and share a public space together. It is so Hanoi!”
            Of course, a trip to Hanoi isn’t complete without sampling the city’s diverse street eats — think ph b (beef noodle soup), bn ch (grilled pork with rice noodle), and bnh m pate (goose pate sandwiches).
            “You must taste the local food in every corner of the Old Quarter,” he says. “You don’t know anything about Hanoi if you never try the street foods.”

            The activist

            #cafe #tit #17months #kycon #saigon #family #travel #stair #apartment #oldhouse #maikaelan

            A post shared by Maika Elan (@maikaelan) on

            Married to Hai Thanh, Maika Elan is a documentary photographer who tells intimate stories through her lens.
            She picked up a family camera in 2006 and started experimenting while studying sociology in university.
            At the time, Elan focused on the villages and farmers in the countryside. But as she advanced, she took interest in city life and issues closer to home.
            “For me Hanoi is always full of positive energy and almost everything is on the street so you really can see the real life here,” she tells CNN Travel.
            “I love to take picture in the small alleys. They look very small and dark from outside, but when you walk in, its very long and often open up to stairways or kitchen, with lots of sunshine. It always takes me by surprise.”

            A ceramic seller stand in front of her shop. #portrait #hanoi #vietnam #market #maikaelan #photography #viiphoto #viimentorprogram #ceramic #woman #vietnamese

            A post shared by Maika Elan (@maikaelan) on

            Sporting a shock of blue hair, the Hanoi-born photographer says the city’s positive energy never ceases to inspire her.
            “With photography you will see the small details,” she says. “I live more in the moment with photography. You see more, talk to more with people. It changes you day by day.”
            But her real passion lies in documenting the everyday struggles facing Vietnamese people.
            In 2012, she won a World Press Photo award for an image depicting an LGBT couple in bed.
            The photo was part of Elan’s “The Pink Choice” documentary project, where she spent two years traveling across Vietnam to explore the lives of same-sex couples.
            By the end of the journey, she had taken hundreds of intimate photos in the homes of more than 70 gay couples.
            “People showed me their love and how they survived, how they stand together,” she says.
            Love the music from CNN’s #MyHanoi videos? Here’s a full list of featured tracks:

            Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/05/travel/myhanoi-instagram-insider-guide/index.html

            Arthur Blythe, acclaimed jazz musician, dies aged 76

            Blythe was at the vanguard of jazz in the 1970s, when his Lenox Avenue Breakdown album from 1979 described as a masterpiece

            Arthur Blythe, the jazz musician and composer who was a key part of the genres experimentation in the 70s alongside the likes of Don Cherry, has died at the age of 76.

            A short post left on his Facebook page said he died in the early hours of Monday morning and mentioned his Parkinsons disease, which he had since 2005.

            Early this morning the great Arthur Blythe passed, it read. As many of you know he was a gentle soul and a musical genius. He had been fighting Parkinsons disease for several years. His spirit will live on in his unique music, which he humbly gave to our universe.

            Blythe was at the vanguard of jazz in the 1970s, with his Lenox Avenue Breakdown album from 1979 considered to be a key release of that period and was described as a masterpiece in the Penguin Modern Guide to Jazz.

            He continued to release music until relatively recently, and his performances on his 2003 album Exhale, which would be his last, were described as absolutely devastating by the Guardians jazz critic John Fordham.

            Born in Los Angeles, Blythe made his name playing with Don Cherry alongside blacklisted musician Horace Tapscott before becoming part of the second wave of avant garde jazz players of the 70s in New York, where he was known as Black Arthur Blythe.

            Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/mar/29/arthur-blythe-jazz-musician-dies-at-76