Published Work

An archive of all of my published work.

For the ten most recent stories I have reported for NBC Out, click here.

To hear a selection of my dispatches that broadcast on NPR's Newscast, click here

Why An Imperfect HIV Vaccine Could Be Better Than None At All
NPR, March 21, 2018.
Only one major HIV vaccine trial has shown any progress to date. In that study, done in Thailand, a two-stage vaccination approach called RV 144 resulted a roughly 30 percent reduction in HIV infections after several years. These results were hailed as proving the concept that an HIV vaccine could be protective, but the results weren't strong enough to pursue regulatory approval. Public health officials still say that a vaccine is essential to vanquishing HIV and AIDS.

Gay Apps Must Act To Stop Entrapment Around The World
Huffington Post, October 26, 2017.
Late last month, the world learned of yet another crackdown on LGBTQ people in Egypt. According to Amnesty International, at least 57 people in four cities people were arrested in this surge of a long-simmering crackdown on queer Egyptians. Some of those recently arrested have already been sentenced to prison after being swiftly convicted of “habitual debauchery”. According to LGBT activists on the ground in Egypt, many of those targeted in this most recent surge in arrests were tracked down using gay dating apps like Grindr and Hornet.

South Carolina Lowcountry Begins To Dry Out After Severe Floods
NPR, October 5, 2015.
Several days of rain in South Carolina have led to catastrophic flooding. At least 10 people have died, and tens of thousands are without water and power. Today, Governor Nikki Haley said that hundreds of roads and bridges are still closed across the state. Reporter Tim Fitzsimons has more from South Carolina's low country.

A Milestone In The Campaign To Reduce The Number Of Deaths From AIDS
NPR, October 1, 2015.
The world's annual death toll from AIDS has been falling in recent years — 1.5 million in 2013, a 35 percent drop from the peak of 2.4 million in 2005. Now the number of deaths could soon drop even more.


Click here to see an updated list of all the reports I have filed for American Public Media's flagship business radio program, Marketplace.

UN says Syria donors aren't paying their pledges
Marketplace, July 24, 2015.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says that it’s again facing its recurring problem: donors don’t pay what they promise. 

Fast-changing metrics may spoil FOMC minutes
Marketplace, July 7, 2015.
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve releases notes from its last Open Market Committee meeting. Usually that’s a time for Fed watchers to comb through the details to try to divine what the Fed may do regarding its promise to raise interest rates. But this time it should be a little anticlimactic (and it's not because the Fed ended its June meeting with a press conference, taking the wind out of the sails of this batch of meeting minutes). 

Kicking the Highway Trust Fund can
Marketplace, June 24, 2015.
The House of Representatives will hold a hearing Wednesday on a proposed a corporate tax holiday on money kept overseas as a way of refilling the drained coffers of the Highway Trust Fund. The plan would temporarily reduce the tax rate to get the money back to the U.S., then stash it away to pay for roads and bridges. 

Proposed House bill slashes education funding
Marketplace, June 23, 2015.
The House Appropriations Committee released its draft spending bill for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education departments, and budget watchers noted deep cuts to federal education funding.

Fitbit's many steps about to pay off in IPO
Marketplace, June 17, 2015.
Fitbit’s initial public offering is scheduled for Thursday. Projected share prices value the fitness tracker company at roughly $4 billion. But the newest entrant to the wearable technology market, the Apple Watch, has investors wondering about the future growth potential for competitors.

Lessons learned from the Humvee
Marketplace, June 16, 2015.
The military is in the market for a replacement for its iconic and ubiquitous vehicle: the Humvee. The army’s joint light tactical vehicle program — or JLTV — aims to buy around 55,000 of these new vehicles over the next 25 years, says Brian Friel, a government contracts analyst at Bloomberg.

Profitable airlines face grumpy investors
Marketplace, June 12, 2015.
U.S. airlines are having a great year, but the major carriers’ stock prices have tumbled this week, thanks to growing fears that airlines will overreact to the the good times and mess things up for investors. 

Advocates say insurers are driving away sick customers
Marketplace, June 11, 2015.
The Department of Health and Human Services is currently in the initial review period for health care plans to be sold on exchanges for the 2016 open enrollment period. They’re making sure plans comply with the complex regulations in the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. But this time around, some groups are objecting to minute details in plans. Advocates and patients say some insurers are designing their benefits to drive away people with preexisting conditions.

Who pays for hospitals' high prices?
Marketplace, June 10, 2015.
A new Johns Hopkins University study published Monday in the journal Health Affairs says that a number of mostly for-profit hospitals are charging certain groups of patients 10 times the rates paid out to Medicare for the same procedures.

America's lengthy courtship with the metric system
Marketplace, June 4, 2015.
Meters and liters. It's an unusual plank for a presidential platform, but Lincoln Chafee, the former US senator from Rhode Island — who was first a Republican, then an independent, and now a Democrat — said in his campaign announcement this week that the U.S. ought to convert to the metric system.

The Patriot Act's new name
Marketplace, June 1, 2015.
John Nash, who died with his wife, Alicia, in a car crash Saturday at 86, was a mathematician, not an economist. But the phenomenon he described — known as Nash's Equilibrium — revolutionized the world of economics and game theory.

Charter moves to acquire Time Warner Cable
Marketplace, May 26, 2015.
Charter Communication and Time Warner Cable announced today that the two cable providers plan to merge in a $55 billion deal that values Time Warner Cable at nearly $79 billion. 

John Nash's 'beautiful' contribution to economics
Marketplace, May 25, 2015.
John Nash, who died with his wife, Alicia, in a car crash Saturday at 86, was a mathematician, not an economist. But the phenomenon he described — known as Nash's Equilibrium — revolutionized the world of economics and game theory.

Why the CPI doesn't figure in the Fed's calculations
Marketplace, May 21, 2015.
The Consumer Price Index rose by 0.1 percent last month, according to figures out Friday. You could think of it as one more piece of evidence in the "no inflation" pile.

Hillary Clinton's new LinkedIn résumé
Marketplace, May 4, 2015.
Hillary Clinton is not the first person to get on LinkedIn — about 115 million Americans joined before her. Nor is she the first 2016 contender. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and others already have profiles there.

Change is in the air traffic control tower
Marketplace, May 15, 2015.
President Obama is scheduled to speak Monday at the launch of a new nonprofit organization — the My Brother's Keeper Alliance. 

Greece manages to make IMF repayment
Marketplace, May 4, 2015.
Greece's finance minister on Monday authorized the transfer of 770 million euros to the International Monetary Fund, meaning the debt-saddled nation will meet this particular debt payment. But the Greek government will have very little fiscal liquidity for the month of May. "This is absolutely the tightest it's been," says Douglas Elliott, a fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Washington's plan for getting the geese off the grass
Marketplace, May 11, 2015.
The National Mall in Washington, D. C., has a fowl problem: Canada geese, and lots of them. These large migratory waterfowl are increasingly non-migratory thanks to relocation and hunting efforts. The roughly 3 pounds of droppings each can produce in one day can cause fish kills in ponds, and could even clog the newly-renovated reflecting pool.

Whole Foods tries to shed its 'Whole Paycheck' image
Marketplace, May 7, 2015.
Whole Foods Market, Inc., is planning a spinoff chain that it says is aimed at millennials. 

Obama's plan to keep up with My Brother's Keeper
Marketplace, May 4, 2015.
President Obama is scheduled to speak Monday at the launch of a new nonprofit organization — the My Brother's Keeper Alliance. 

Uber helps spring clean for free ... if you're patient
Marketplace, May 1, 2015.
Uber, the ride-share private car company, is known for occasionally using its fleet of cars and drivers to make unusual deliveries: puppies, kittens, ice cream and roses, to name a few. 

Koch Industries 'Bans the Box'
Marketplace, April 28, 2015.
"Ban the Box" is a campaign to remove the check-box question "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?" from job applications. Supporters of the campaign say the question puts people who have committed a crime at a disadvantage, even though they have served their time. Discrimination against former felons reduces their ability to get jobs and rise out of poverty, the argument goes. 

What Corinthian Colleges' failure means at for-profits
Marketplace, April 27, 2015.
Corinthian Colleges Inc. announced Monday it would close all of its colleges and cease operations. The for-profit college operator's closing is the end of a long struggle between federal authorities and the for-profit college industry, which has been accused of profiting from student loan debt. 

Proposal would cut military pension and add a 401(k)
Marketplace, April 27, 2015.
As it stands today, servicemembers who advance through the Department of Defense are entitled to a pension of 50 percent of their income at retirement after 20 years of service. But a new proposal making its way through Congress would lower that to 40 percent and add a 401(k) savings account. 

What's in a $12 minimum wage?
Marketplace, April 24, 2015.
Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, is expected to introduce a new proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020. 

In a sharing economy, labor laws fall short
Marketplace, April 23, 2015.
When it comes to the future of the growing “sharing economy,” things are far from clear. Two California juries are set to decide cases that could have wide-ranging implications on the industry that has grown up around Uber, Lyft, and other car-hire services.

Congress pushes for cybersecurity overhaul
Marketplace, April 22, 2015.
After a series of spectacular cyber attacks on companies like Sony, Anthem and Target, Congress is pushing forward a bill to increase data sharing about security and hacks between private companies and the federal government.

You're mortal, so write your will
Marketplace, April 22, 2015.
Just 56 percent of American parents have gone through the fairly uncomfortable process of writing up a last will and testament to divide up their assets among beneficiaries upon their death, according to a new survey from

Hasbro's new princesses, and growth strategy
Marketplace, April 20, 2015.
Hasbro has long been known for brands like Nerf and G.I. Joe. But last year it snatched a contract from the hands of rival Mattel: the Disney princess contract.

School lunch's food fight
Marketplace, April 15, 2015.
The School Nutrition Association has come under attack for its ties to food and beverage conglomerates, whose products could be pushed out of lunch rooms if the sodium rules were to go into full effect.

The intersection of food, sustainability and politics
Marketplace, April 14, 2015.
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee isn't usually a group that stirs up great controversy in Washington, but its 2015 draft report shocked policymakers because it desecrated the sacred cow. Or at least, it suggested that the average American's 113 pounds of red meat consumed per year could have a negative health and environmental impact. 

Lessons from the F-35
Marketplace, April 14, 2015.
How did the Pentagon's F-35 fighter jet program, which was originally thought up as a way to cut costs, end up becoming the most expensive weapons program in history?

In Panama, President Obama seeks economic growth
Marketplace, April 10, 2015.
President Barack Obama is in Panama for the Summit of the Americas, a gathering of American heads of state. This year the leaders will be joined for the first time by Raul Castro, Cuba's leader. For years, Cuba was excluded from the summit, which created tension between Latin American leaders and the U.S. 

Harvard's business women push
Marketplace, April 9, 2015.
Harvard Business School is extremely selective — only about 12 percent of applicants are admitted. But even with such a large pool of applicants to choose from, the school still has a serious gender imbalance. Only 41 percent of the student body is female.

Rise of digital medical records leads to data theft
Marketplace, April 6, 2015.
Consumers know to be careful about identity theft, but the growth of digital medical records has led to a rise in the theft of medical records.

The National Park Service's $11.5 billion repair bill
Marketplace, April 3, 2015.
The National Park Service, which administers the Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin as part of its National Mall and Memorial Parks (NMMP) zone, has $11.5 billion on its backlog of deferred maintenance costs. Of that figure, $850 million is slated for the NMMP. So while the Jefferson Memorial may look good from afar, when you get closer you can see that it's falling apart.

What can the Fed do about income inequality?
Marketplace, April 2, 2015.
Once upon a time, back when Laurence Meyer was a governor of the Federal Reserve, he was called to testify before Congress. Bernie Sanders, today a U.S. senator from Vermont, asked him what the Fed would do about income inequality. Meyer's reply? "Nothing."

The sequester's not-so-stringent budget cap
Marketplace, March 25, 2015.
The Budget Control Act of 2011, also known as the "sequester," is supposed to cap government spending at set levels. But Congress has repeatedly found ways around that, and one main source of the over-limit spending has been the Overseas Contingency Operations fund. 

State pension checkup: Better, still not great
Marketplace, March 25, 2015.
States' pension funds are better off today than they were during the Great Recession, but that doesn't mean they're healthy.

There's more than money in the Army's handgun contract
Marketplace, March 24, 2015.
The Pentagon is searching for a new handgun for its soldiers. The request for proposals envisions a modular handgun system. Sounds simple, but the Army has only been in the market for its official gun twice before, so gun manufacturers have a lot riding on the contract. And it’s not just about the money.

Big tobacco says your e-cigarette may kill you
Marketplace, March 24, 2015.
Back in 1994, the heads of the largest tobacco corporations were called before Congress to testify about the effects of tobacco. Each and every executive said they believed nicotine was not addictive. But today we know that the tobacco industry was aware of nicotine's addictiveness—and tobacco's harm—for decades.

Starbucks' race push irks some
Marketplace, March 20, 2015.
Starbucks new #RaceTogether campaign has set off a storm of controversy. The coffee giant is hoping baristas and customers will have a more frank discussion about American race relations. for companies
Marketplace, March 17, 2015.
ICANN,  the organization that governs internet domain names, recently rolled out hundreds of new domain extensions. We still have ".com" and ".net," but they're joined by ".app" and ".baby," as well as foreign language extensions. 

The TARP police are still on call
Marketplace, March 16, 2015.
The Sysco truck is everywhere, unloading in front of restaurants, schools, hospitals and colleges. Packed inside are boxes of seafood, beef, chicken, baked goods and napkins. They are biggest distributor of foods in the U.S., and now, they're ready to merge with US Foods.

A question for the Fed: What inflation?
Marketplace, March 16, 2015.
The Federal Reserve meets Tuesday for two days, and many market watchers expect more clues about when the central bank will raise interest rates.

The return of the debt limit
Marketplace, March 13, 2015.
The reason the debt limit is returning to haunt our fiscal dreams is because Congress kicked the can down the road when it passed a suspension of the debt limit in February, 2014.

The science – and the cost – behind weight loss
Marketplace, March 6, 2015.
A new device approved by the FDA last year will attack obesity in a novel way. VBLOC therapy, which is delivered by the “Maestro system,” is essentially a pacemaker for the stomach. It is implanted under the skin, and ledes connect to the vagus nerve.

Don't worry too much about productivity
Marketplace, March 5, 2015.
We’ve tracked labor productivity in the U.S. for about 70 years. For most of that time, it’s risen steadily along with economic growth. Recessions just saw little blips — that is until the last one when productivity rose sharply.   

After a controversy in politics, money follows
Marketplace, March 3, 2015.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began his address to Congress Tuesday by bemoaning the speech's politicization. But some groups and politicians saw the speech as the ultimate political opportunity: a chance to fundraise. 

Pebble's grand return to Kickstarter
Marketplace, February 26, 2015.
Pebble has put its new, color smartwatch called "Time" up for a funding round on Kickstarter. Three years ago, the launch of its original smartwatch broke records. This time, Pebble's return to the crowd-funding site could have more to do with the marketing than the money.

'Audit the Fed' illustrates the politics behind policy
Marketplace, February 24, 2015.
The Federal Reserve's Janet Yellen delivered her semiannual update to Congress today amid calls to audit the Fed's monetary policy decision-making. Yellen denounced efforts to increase Congressional oversight of how and why the Fed decides to print or buy back money, and Fed experts say it was designed to be insulated from political pressure. 

Sysco tries to swallow up US Foods
Marketplace, February 20, 2015.
The Sysco truck is everywhere, unloading in front of restaurants, schools, hospitals and colleges. Packed inside are boxes of seafood, beef, chicken, baked goods and napkins. They are biggest distributor of foods in the U.S., and now, they're ready to merge with US Foods.

Colleges Put Students To Work
Marketplace, February 18, 2015.
In an era of skyrocketing college tuition rates, "work colleges" stand out as an anomaly. They're are a federally-defined college where students have to work. It's a hard model to pull off.

One cost of starting high school later in the morning
Marketplace, February 11, 2015.
For almost 20 years, school districts across the country have debated shifting high school start times later to allow for more time for adolescent students to sleep, which studies say helps brain development and school performance.

Changing fortunes of nightly news shows
Marketplace, February 9, 2015.
Brian Williams, the host of NBC Nightly News, is embroiled in a scandal over fabricated stories he told about experiences during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He's taken a leave of absence from the show.

But just how important is an anchor like Williams to a news network in an era of declining network news viewership?

The President's defense budget 'hike'
Marketplace, February 4, 2015.
President Barack Obama's fiscal year 2016 budget proposes an increase in funding for the Department of Defense. But defense spending these days is about more than just the Pentagon's budget.  (Click the play button to listen.)

What goes into the 'durable goods index'
Marketplace, January 27, 2015.
Orders on durable goods were down almost 3.5 percent in December from a month earlier, according to a report issued Tuesday.

Figures on orders for durable goods are one way to judge the relative health of the American manufacturing sector.  (Click the play button to listen.)

Aging power grid has more turning to generators
Marketplace, January 27, 2015.
The infrastructure behind America’s power grid is in pretty bad shape, and has more and more Americans turning to backup home generators.  (Click the play button to listen.)

India's air pollution problem
Marketplace, January 23, 2015.
The last time President Barack Obama made a major state visit to Asia was last year when he met with Chinese president Xi Jinping and announced a broad-reaching climate change deal.

We shouldn't expect the same thing from his visit to India, even though its cities have air that's four times deadlier than in Beijing. But how does India’s environmental pollution stack up, and what might the U.S. do to curb greenhouse gas emissions there?  (Click the play button to listen.)

Striving to get to 'HIV zero'
Marketplace, January 22, 2015.
Fifteen years ago, the Millennium Development Goals challenged the world to stop and begin to reverse the spread of HIV by 2015. The world missed that goal, and today, 35 million people are still living with HIV and millions are suffering from AIDS. It can be hard to see how to bend the curve on the spread of this virus. But some areas are making inroads against the virus.

So, when can I buy a flight to Cuba?
Marketplace, January 16, 2015.
Starting Friday, the United States will permit more Americans to travel to Cuba.

But how do you get there? The short answer: it may still be a bit before there are commercial flights from the U.S.  (Click the play button to listen.)

What makes medical debt detrimental
Marketplace, January 12, 2015.
About 43 million Americans have overdue medical debt on their credit reports, according to a report released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  (Click the play button to listen.)

The economics of Keystone in an era of cheap oil
Marketplace, January 6, 2015.
Back when the Keystone XL pipeline was proposed in 2008, oil hit an all-time high and traded at over $140 a barrel. But oil has crashed, trading below $50 on Monday.

Approval of the pipeline is at the top of the agenda for the new Republican-controlled Congress. The question is: What is the energy rationale for and against the project in a period of cheap oil?  (Click the play button to listen.)

Defense nominee's record as 'Buyer in Chief'
Marketplace, December 31, 2014/
The Defense Department's Office of the Undersecretary for Acquisitions, Technology and Logistics is better known by a shorter name: Acquisitions.

It is in charge of buying everything from toilet paper to fighter jets, and Defense Secretary nominee Ashton Carter was in charge of it from 2009 to 2011.  (Click the play button to listen.)

Investing in marijuana still a risky business
Marketplace, December 19, 2014.
The legal pot industry in America is now worth billions, and it’s growing. Naturally, investors want to get a foot in the door, but the limbo of selling something that’s legal at the state level and illegal at the federal level throws a dash of chaos into the stew of capitalism.  (Click the play button to listen.)

Why a little debt isn't such a bad thing
Marketplace, December 12, 2014.
The Federal Reserve says U.S. household debt is growing, but debt as compared to income is as low as it's been in years. It’s also lower in the U.S. than it is in places like Britain or Canada.

Economists would tell you "debt" isn’t a dirty word. An increase in borrowing means an increase in spending, which means an increase in demand, which helps the economy. But having too much bad debt is where people found themselves in the recession.  (Click the play button to listen.)

Airbnb confronts an unusual marketing challenge
Marketplace, December 9, 2014.
Airbnb, the home sharing website, is now by some measures the largest lodging provider in the world. It’s valued at over $10 billion and has a million listings — that’s about 300,000 more than the number of beds of either Hilton or Marriott.  (Click the play button to listen.)

NASA's unmanned test flight is a step toward Mars
Marketplace, December 4, 2014.
The idea behind Orion is to eventually get astronauts all the way to Mars.

But a successful launch would also symbolize NASA’s exit from the more mundane aspects of space travel.  (Click the play button to listen.)

How small businesses keep up with holiday orders
Marketplace, November 21, 2014.

Analysts predict that this year’s holiday shopping season will be robust, especially for online retail. Internet retail sales are projected to grow 16 percent over last year. But a surge of holiday sales can present logistical problems and catch a small business off guard.  (Click the play button to listen.)

The Pill Truvada Can Prevent HIV/AIDS, and for Some, That's a Problem
Newsweek, October 10, 2014.
“It’s no longer a sufficient public health policy to solely rely on condoms to prevent HIV,” said Staley, whose ACT UP New York days involved a famous 1989 protest in the aisle of St. Patrick’s Cathedral to protest the Catholic Church’s rejection of condom use. “We have to look at other options.”

Some iPhone 6 Plus Users Find An Unwanted Feature: It Bends
NPR, All Tech Considered. Sept 24, 2014.
Some users of Apple's new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are finding that their superslim glass and aluminum devices aren't holding up well in a less harsh environment: their pockets. Under the combined stress of human weight and a pair of tight pants, the phones are bending, usually around the volume buttons where the aluminum casing is thinnest.

Why 4.4 Billion People Still Don't Have Internet Access
NPR, All Tech Considered. October 2, 2014.
To everyone reading this story: This is not about you. This is about the 4.4 billion other people on this planet who have never been online.

Apple Takes A Swipe At The Credit Card
NPR, All Tech Considered. Sept 12, 2014.
Next on Apple's list of industries to shake up is something much more basic: how we pay for things countless times a day. Apple is taking aim at what's in our wallet. Our cash and credit cards, as well online shopping.

Global Recession Hits Puerto Rico Hard
NPR, Morning Edition. January 9, 2014.
The island is paying nearly 10 percent interest on its bonds to attract reluctant investors. And some credit-rating analysts are saying Puerto Rico's bonds may soon get a downgrade. But optimists say they can help solve the island's problems from the bottom up.

The Wide-Open Road
Selemta Magazine. December/January 2014.
Two friends and I had just set out on a few-day mission to camp our way across Oman, the quiet corner of the Arabian Peninsula. The country’s diverse landscape of beaches, valleys, sand dunes and islands inspired our to-do list, and its superb road system and generous camping laws promised an easy trip.

Bringing Lebanon's Breadbasket to Table
Selemta Magazine. November/December 2013.
Restaurants across the globe try to bring the farms the table but there aren't many restaurants we can gaze across your plate upon the farms themselves. Tawlet Ammiq — a restaurant in Lebanon's fertile Bekaa Valley — is just a 90 minute drive from the bustle of Beirut, but it feels a world away.

Mashrou' Leila
BBC World Service. October 7, 2013.
A radio report about Mashrou' Leila, the Lebanese indie rock band, and their new album Raasuk.

Pop, Sex and Politics
The Economist. September 10, 2013.
MASHROU’ LEILA, a Lebanese indie band, dances all over conventions of Arab pop culture. The lead singer, Hamed Sinno, is openly gay; the lyrics are sung in a Lebanese dialect that is laced with obscenities and politics; the group does not have a record label.

A coup in Egypt: After days of protests, Morsi is deposed
Vocativ. July 3, 2013.
A photo essay covering the protests that led to the deposal of former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi.

The Shortest Distance
Art in America. June 24, 2013.
A video report from the opening of Rayyane Tabet's solo exhibition at Beirut's Sfeir Semler Gallery entitled "The Shortest Distance Between Two Points." The multi-piece sculpture installation examines the history of TAPLine, a mid-twentieth century oil pipeline that connected Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.

This story was co-reported with Sébastian Dahl.

Sleepy no more
The Economist. April 5, 2013.
UNTIL recently Duqm was a dusty fishing village and little else. Home to Bedouin tribes, it lies some 450km (280 miles) south of Muscat, Oman’s capital, in the poor and empty Wustah governorate. But the earthmoving bulldozers are now working flat out. In the next decade, Duqm is supposed to be turned into a vast port and international business hub.

This story was co-reported with Nathan Rott.

Lebanon's Catholics fear incursion of Islamic fundamentalism
GlobalPost. March 20, 2013.
Even though Beirut is no longer cleaved into Muslim and Christian sides by the Green Line — the five-mile long, overgrown barricade erected during Lebanon’s 1975-1991 civil war — some Christians still feel like their presence there is not guaranteed. An influx of refugees from the civil war in neighboring Syria has Christians in Lebanon anxious that religious violence against them could reappear.

Syrian refugees, without shelter, huddle in Lebanon's schools
September 12, 2012.
EL-MARJ, Lebanon — On an afternoon in late August, just days before Lebanon’s summer holidays came to a close, the schoolyard of El-Marj primary school echoed with faint sounds. The wail of a baby mingled with voices drifting through the bars of a second floor window. A family of three sat crouched in the shade of a schoolyard wall. Inside, 20 Syrian families were crammed into a dozen classrooms, pushed into a makeshift refugee camp by their country’s civil war.

Arab Tech Startups Try To Seize The Moment
NPR, All Things Considered. April 23, 2012.
The same growing Arab online awareness that made the Internet part of the pro-democracy movements has also created a mini-revolution for Arab technological business. 

Driving And Phoning: What's New In 2012
NPR, All Things Considered. January 2, 2012.
States have long sought to restrict cellphone use by drivers because of safety concerns, and as the new year begins, several states are toughening their laws. It turns out it's a hard habit to break. And for government officials, it's not easy to stay ahead of tech advances.  (Click the play button to listen.)

Wells Fargo is not your amigo
Salon. October 28, 2011.
After allegations of racially based predatory lending tarnished its image, Wells Fargo is making renewed efforts to increase its customer base among Latinos, the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population. The San Franciso-based banking giant, which has long touted its support for the Hispanic community, is now embarked on a new “educational campaign” that it says will help Latino customers enter into the financial mainstream.

As DADT Ends, LGBT Group Comes Out Of The Closet
NPR, All Things Considered. August 25, 2011.
Under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," many gay people served in the military but remained in the closet. An underground network of LGBT people in the military, called OutServe, was formed last year to help them connect and troubleshoot problems they may face. With the Sept. 20 end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," gays and lesbians will be free to serve openly in the military, and OutServe will be changing its mission to serve them.  (Click the play button to listen.)

Medieval No More: Mead Enjoys A Renaissance
NPR, Weekend Edition Sunday. May 1, 2011.
The fermented honey wine you read about in Chaucer and Beowulf is no longer stuck in the Dark Ages. Business is booming at meaderies around the country as Americans embrace eating — and drinking — locally.

Co-reported with Nathan Rott and Abby Verbosky.

Arabic rising
NOW Lebanon. January 21, 2011.
Bit by bit, the linguistic landscape of Lebanon is changing. For many years, the country has been an entrenched Middle Eastern bastion of Western languages and culture. But these days, Lebanon is getting a lot more comfortable with its Arabic linguistic and cultural heritage. In the realms of art, music, fashion and design, regional influence is increasingly setting the trend.

May his ass bury me (a translation)
NOW Lebanon. January 12, 2011.
Lebanon’s creative set increasingly turns to Arabic language and culture to express itself. 

What's going on in Beirut?
Slate. January 13, 2011.
BEIRUT—On Wednesday, Hezbollah and its allies abruptly withdrew from the Lebanese Cabinet, forcing the collapse of Prime Minister Saad Hariri's government just moments after he finished meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington.

The personal effects of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
NPR: Intern Edition. December 2010.
Jonathan Hopkins had a model career in the military. He graduated in the top of his class at West Point, and served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. During his nine years as an Army Captain, he led 170 troops and earned three bronze stars, including one for valor. But despite his successes, Hopkins lived in constant fear of losing his job.

“Every month and every year that goes by, a degree of insecurity and paranoia, and in essence, fear, grows” Hopkins said. “In the meanwhile a sense of unnecessary loneliness and emptiness grows as well.”

Why was Jonathan so worried? Because while serving, he realized he was gay.

Co-reported with Laura Lee.

Brushes with barbed wire
The Sunday Times Magazine (London). October 3, 2010.

They are images of seascapes, landscapes and rambling Middle Eastern lanes in pastel and crayon. A study of a sliced watermelon in oil pastel, a lesson in vanishing points in coloured pencil. The pieces hanging on the wall would nicely span the range of skills present in an amateur art class. Except that this exhibition of student work took place at the world’s most notorious maximum-security prison, Guantanamo Bay.

Court Case Illustrates Gitmo's Failures
GlobalPost. September 12, 2010.
Photo essay of Guantanamo Bay Naval Station under Obama.

Still life with Enemy Combatant
Slate. September 2, 2010.
I broke a rule at Guantanamo, and it was worth it: I chose to wear shorts for my tour of the detention facilities at Camp Delta. 

First Guantanamo trial under Obama begins
GlobalPost. August 12, 2010.
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — Thirteen hundred miles from Washington, on a sun-drenched corner of this iguana-dotted island, the U.S. military is gearing up for the trial of the youngest and last Western detainee at Guantanamo Bay.

The trial of Omar Khadr, 23, opened here Monday. Khadr was detained in Afghanistan in 2002, and is accused of murdering a U.S. soldier, conspiracy, spying and other charges.

How does more snow equal global warming?
GlobalPost. February 11, 2010.
BOSTON — You may not have heard of “Climategate” or the “hockey stick controversy.” But that doesn’t mean you haven’t found yourself thinking like a climate change skeptic lately.

Perhaps you’re reading from Washington, D.C., marooned at home by a second consecutive blizzard. Or maybe you’re in Scotland, which just recorded its coldest winter in more than a century. Maybe you’re just a little too cold to feel like the world is getting warmer.

Talking to author Rawi Hage
NOW Lebanon. August 9, 2009.
Rawi Hage is the author of the critically acclaimed 2007 novel De Niro’s Game, which tracks the friendship of Bassam and George, two young Lebanese men growing up during the civil war. In a novel that uses highly visual prose to illustrate the absurdity of conflict, Bassam and George are each drawn down different paths by the war’s forceful pull. In 2008, Hage published Cockroach, a novel about the experiences of an immigrant in Montreal.

I know myself, on a t-shirt.
NOW Lebanon. August 4, 2009.
How does one reconcile the old with the new? With clothing, of course.

In Lebanon and the broader Middle East, graphic T-shirts with English messages printed on them are popular, but sometimes the meaning is lost in translation. And as the trend moves toward ever more irreverent topics (“Porn Star”, anyone?), foreign words can make the wearer look a little more than cheeky.

Prisoners of art
NOW Lebanon. July 28, 2009.
Are Lebanese artists prisoners of war? A provocative new exhibit by renowned Lebanese architect Bernard Khoury posits that they are. In a show at the Beirut Art Center on display through October 3, Khoury uses images from various Lebanese artists, including himself, to suggest that contemporary Lebanese art is trapped in an endless cycle of reference to the 15-year civil war. However, if Khoury illustrates the dilemma facing contemporary Lebanese artists, a divergent – if in final calculation complimentary – exhibit is being shown simultaneously at the center. “Earth of Endless Secrets” by Lebanese artist Akram Zaatari suggests a possible way out.

Talking to: author David Gardner
NOW Lebanon. July 27, 2009.
David Gardner, chief editorial writer and former Middle East correspondent for the Financial Times recently published Last Chance: The Middle East in the Balance, which was launched last week at Virgin Megastore in Beirut. In his book, Gardner advocates for a radical new approach to Western policy in the Middle East and calls for rethinking the way in which the West supports its network of allies, saying it amounts to “stamping on [the] fingers” of those in the Arab world trying to climb from the pit of tyranny. NOW sits down with the author to talk about his book, Middle East policy and the challenges facing Lebanon.

Jethro Tull at Byblos
NOW Lebanon. July 20, 2009.
I didn’t really know what to expect as I walked into the Byblos amphitheater, hovering as it does on stilts over the calm evening Mediterranean. Byblos is not the first place one would look to find a thriving Jethro Tull fan base, but hundreds of people had gathered there for the concert of the internationally-hailed progressive rock group.

The band Jethro Tull and its 61-year-old front man and flutist Ian Anderson have been around since the 1960s and released over 10 albums. It even published a “20 Years of Jethro Tull” retrospective before the Lebanese civil war ended.

Iran's Protests and the Lebanese Left
NOW Lebanon. July 3, 2009.
Before Lebanon’s parliamentary elections were over, the world was already turning its attention from Beirut to Tehran, where the presidential campaign was wrapping up. And as the unexpected post-election drama unfolded, ripples from Tehran spread across the globe, raising new questions about that country’s relations with the rest of the world, including Lebanon.

"Fete de la Musique" starts off a rocking Beirut summer
NOW Lebanon. June 22, 2009.
The Lebanese tend to be cautious before being optimistic. Take this month's parliamentary elections: everyone expected everyone else to be in the streets fighting over the votes, and so they stayed home. The result? No violence, but also empty restaurants.

Good news here is also tempered with caution. Once a top world tourist destination, Beirut has worked on regaining that mantle since the end of the civil war in 1991. Downtown has been rebuilt by Solidere, but it is routinely criticized for being comatose and Disneylike. Occasional spasms of political violence have emptied the city and downtown’s wide pedestrian-only streets, leaving only a few Sukleen men (metaphorical tumbleweeds) to remind visitors of how barren it looks when abandoned. 

The Iranian elections' impact on Lebanon
NOW Lebanon. June 12, 2009.
Just halfway through 2009, three major elections that will have major impacts on the Middle East have already occurred. In January, the United States inaugurated Barack Obama; in February, Israel elected a right-wing government headed by hardliner Benyamin Netanyahu; and last weekend in Lebanon the March 14 coalition won the parliament majority. Today, one more election – this time in Iran – is bringing voters to the polls to cast their ballots in what has been a hard-fought campaign. 

Talking to: blogger Elias Muhanna
NOW Lebanon. June 10, 2009.
Elias Muhanna, the man behind the blog Qifa Nabki, is a Lebanese blogger whose commentary has appeared in The National, Foreign Policy and other publications. In the run-up to the Lebanese parliamentary elections, Muhanna and his blog were cited and quoted widely in both the blogosphere and the mainstream media. His posts provide unique analysis of Lebanon’s politics for readers around the world, with witty reflections on the possibilities for cabinet formations, and even revealing taxi conversations.

Muhanna, a PhD candidate in Near Eastern Studies at Harvard University, sat down with NOW to discuss Qifa Nabki and what the elections mean for Lebanon.

Are we advertised to death?
NOW Lebanon. June 3, 2009
With the back-and-forth sniping between Lebanon’s political parties this election season, it’s easy to feel that the Lebanese are coming under fire. Indeed, to anyone walking down the street, campaign billboards seem to form a seamless graphic representation of neighborhood power structure; row after row of Hezbollah campaign billboards along the airport road dissolve into Future Movement and Lebanese Forces posters, depending on whether they turn left or right.

Though it’s election season, public political imagery is anything but new in Lebanon. As is the case in other countries, public space in Lebanon is appropriated by various groups as they compete for the public’s attention, whether it is to convince you to buy a product, visit a restaurant, vote for a politician or remember the deceased. But few restrictions limit billboards in Lebanon, so advertisements for anything and everything frequently become overpowering along highways and other well-trafficked corridors.

Picture this
NOW Lebanon. January 27, 2009.
As the bombardment of Gaza began last month, an Israeli media blackout denying journalists access to the Strip held firm. And yet, global criticism of Israeli action crescendoed as image after heartbreaking image was published in the media.

As there were no - or very few - journalists in Gaza, the images of the carnage often came from ordinary people. Many reached the world via a new website:

Lebanese paintball craze springs from harsh reality
The Globe and Mail. October 28, 2008.
The patch of wasteland in the Hezbollah stronghold of south Beirut has a sign outside reading Special Forces. Inside, the ground is strewn with razor wire, crawling with uniformed youths and ringing with shots.

But it’s not the Lebanese army at work: It’s ultra-realistic paintball.

Sabeans fleeing persecution in Iraq find cold refuge in reluctant Jordan
The Daily Star. July 5, 2008.
AMMAN: Asel didn't come to Jordan because he wanted to. Neither did his parents. They, like so many others, stole out of their native Iraq at the last minute, when word came that gangs were coming to kill them and their loves ones. Since that fateful morning in 2004, Asel, his two brothers, and his parents have been in Jordan, passing time waiting for something that might enable them to end their limbo and move on. They won't to go back to Iraq, so great was the trauma that caused them to leave.