Memory and invention mix in Cuba

This is the continuation of a multi-part series on Cuba. Read the previous collection of vignettes: “Deciphering Cuba: Of streets, gardens, churches and kitchen tables”


“A woman can never forget”

HAVANA – It’s 9:45 a.m., and Lesbia is having breakfast. She is using her favorite mug, the one that Kiki, her husband, got her years ago. It says “the world’s best lover.”

While Lesbia dips a slice of bread in milk, I set my eyes on her hands. Today her nails are painted with a glittered pink polish. Yesterday they were burgundy. A couple of days before, as she sat on her porch doing her nails, she looked at me and said: “A woman can never forget to bring nail polish in her purse.”

Lesbia and Kiki have been married for 27 years, dividing their time between Havana and Matanzas, where they first met in 1990. In the early years, not long after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba was in the middle of its economic crisis, the so-called “special period.”

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South Side wellness salon makes acupuncture affordable to more people

By Yunyi(Jessie) Liu
Medill Reports

Haji Healing Salon in Hyde Park, about a 15-minutey bus ride from the Red Line, can be challenging to find without help from a friend.

But customers entered the salon steadily on a recent Sunday morning and salon owner Aya-Nikole Cook greets them as they arrive.

“It’s such a beautiful place,” says Khadijah Kysia, an acupuncturist at the salon who lives in Humboldt Park on the West Side. When Cook invited her to work at the salon and provide community acupuncture treatments, Kysia intended to reject the offer at the very beginning. Continue reading

Chinese Youngsters Celebrate their New Year at NBA All-Star Weekend

By Athena Liu
Medill Reports

For some young people in China, the Chinese New Year has become a time to get away from daily life and follow their passion. This year, instead of celebrating the festival with their families, some Chinese youngsters traveled to Los Angeles to treat themselves at the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend.

After a long year working at a bank in Hangzhou, China, Johnny Chen, 27, said he decided to take his girlfriend to do something exciting for the holiday. A self-described huge NBA fan, Chen believed if he ever traveled to the United States, it would be to see at least some of the All-Star festivities.

The couple spent six days sightseeing in LA, watched the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, then went to the All-Star practice session on Saturday before heading back home.

Although travelling to LA meant not being able to gather with family, Chen said his parents were unexpectedly supportive. He, on the other hand, felt a bit upset upon arriving. Continue reading

Puerto Rico loses power again: Explosion and fire cut electricity to 10 municipalities

Text by Shelby Fleig, Elizabeth Beyer and Hannah Wiley
Audio by Sofi LaLonde and Griselda Flores
Medill Reports

An explosion and fire at the Monacillo power station in San Juan caused power outages across 10 municipalities late at night on Feb. 11, a reminder that even in areas where the grid has been fixed since Hurricane Maria, the island’s electric infrastructure is still precarious and troubled.

Shortly after 9 p.m., the lights went out abruptly in the capital San Juan, along with towns including Caguas, Barceloneta and Aricebo on the North half of the island. Some regained power after about 30 minutes, while others remained dark through the night. By midnight the fire was extinguished, but some residents said the outage provoked feelings of PTSD and sparked bad memories of the harrowing weeks following the hurricane.

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The Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker Catches Fire in the NBA 3-Point Contest

By Hogan Davis
Medill Reports

The roar of the crowd increased incrementally as ball after ball swished through, as if the rim didn’t exist. Each shot caused the decibel level in the Staples Center to rise until the final moneyball found the bottom of the net.

That flame-throwing final round by the Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker Saturday, won the NBA All-Star Three-Point Contest, pushing aside hometown favorite Klay Thompson. Booker’s 28 points on 20 of 25 shooting were a final-round record, beating the previous mark of 27 held by Thompson and his Golden State Warriors teammate Stephen Curry.

It was a performance that evoked the most iconic moment in NBA three-point history, when Larry Bird walked into the locker room before the 1987 competition and reportedly asked, “Which one of you guys is going to finish second?”

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Tobias Harris’ day of service brings fun moments for him and his father

By Patrick Engel
Medill Reports

COMPTON, Calif. – Torrel Harris hopped into a Mercedes van Friday morning, unsure of its exact destination. He knew he and his son, Los Angeles Clippers forward Tobias Harris, were going to a Compton school as part of Friday’s NBA Cares day of service. He had no idea which one.

The van rolled down East 133rd Street, past a sign for Jefferson Elementary School, then pulled into the school’s parking lot. That’s when the surprise became a special one. Torrel immediately told Tobias why: It was his elementary school.

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Exelon and Northwestern partner to kick up the energy from solar cells

By Lakshmi Chandrasekaran

A Chinese solar energy company captured the imagination of the world and a younger generation of consumers by building a solar farm in the shape of a giant panda. That adds a bit of whimsy to China’s growing reputation as a world leader in solar energy production.  But the hottest competition is in the race for new solar technology

In the quest to limit carbon emissions, more countries are harvesting energy from the sun, with the focus on research to create better solar cells and batteries to store it.  And this is not surprising when you consider a few facts about solar power. The Earth receives 173,000 terawatts (or 173 trillion kilowatts) of solar energy all the time.

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T. rex ‘Sue’ gets a new room and a new look

By Yvaine Ye
Medill Reports

Chicago’s beloved Tyrannosaurus rex, known as “Sue” at The Field Museum, is moving to a new exhibition space on the second floor after 18 years in the museum’s main hall.

Because most of its bones are real, scientists have to take Sue down piece by piece with extra care, said Bill Simpson, a paleontologist at The Field Museum. The entire process of disassembly and reassembly will take approximately a month.

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver reinforces NBA’s stance on sports betting

By Richard Foster-Shelton
Medill Reports

LOS ANGELES – NBA Commissioner Adam Silver emphasized his belief that the NBA should receive a 1% “integrity fee” if the Supreme Court gives all 50 states the option to legalize sports gambling as expected later this year.

“From the NBA’s standpoint, we will spend this year roughly $7.5 billion creating this content, creating these games,” Silver said during his annual state of the league address. “This notion that as the intellectual property creators that we should receive a one percent fee seems very fair to me.”

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Larry Nance Jr. sees a bright future for his Northwestern-bound brother

By Patrick Engel
Medill Reports

LOS ANGELES – Larry Nance Jr.’s life is pretty good these days.

He plays alongside LeBron James for his home state’s NBA team. He moved from a team out of the playoff picture to one that, with the addition of him and a few others, looks like title contenders once again.

Nance participated in the Verizon Slam Dunk contest Saturday night, and narrowly missed winning. It’s same event his father, Larry Sr., ushered into basketball popularity with a victory in the inaugural version in 1984. The younger Nance spent countless hours watching clips of it when he was younger.

“For me, that was like Sesame Street,” Larry Jr. said earlier Saturday.

He admits, though, he has one shortcoming compared with another member of his family.

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