With hundreds upon hundreds of bands and tens of thousands of music lovers descending upon Austin for just five days, South by Southwest moves pretty fast. So we slowed it down for you. Because they're awfully considerate, NPR Music's video team picked out some of the fastest moments at SXSW 2014 and made them go real slow.
There's something about the way that Future Islands lead singer Samuel Herring moves that's hypnotic. If you've been trying to follow along with his steps, here's the place to start. Just a few seconds of the band's Thursday night set at Cheer Up Charlie's, but with the brakes on, so you can catch every undulation.
The Trophy Club on 6th Street in Austin has windows open wide to the street, and through them our video guru Mito Habe-Evans sat and watched the mechanical bull tempt the brave and stupid alike for nearly 30 minutes late on Thursday night. Other people would try the bull and fall off immediately, but these guys have clearly had some practice.
On Friday, NPR Music took over the back yard of local boutique/coffee shop Friends & Neighbors to shoot a series of short concert videos. One of those sets was by the mambo band Sergio Mendoza y La Orkesta. Here, the fancy feet of singer Salvador Duran-Maracas double as stomping, percussion.
Occasionally in Austin, you come across crowds in the street, usually gathered around a drummer or a band that's starting the party. This time, there was just a crowd, and music coming out of a nearby storefront and lots of jumping.
You know what's happening here. It's just more fun to see it in slo-mo.
It has been more than a week since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared, and despite a massive search effort, the whereabouts of the plane and the 239 people on board are unknown.
The airline has told the families and friends of those missing to "expect the worst."
But it's tough for families to grieve without knowing the answer to a crucial question: Could my loved one still be alive?
Dr. Pauline Boss works with people in this kind of situation. She's the author of Loss, Trauma and Resilience and a professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota.
She says the families and friends of the missing are experiencing an "ambiguous loss."
"[It's] the most painful kind of loss there is right now, because you have no assurance of the fate of your loved one," she says.
People suffering with this kind of loss often blame themselves, says Boss. A large part of her job is to remind them that the situation is not their fault. But even as a grief counselor, Boss says there is a limited amount she can do to help. Grieving — and healing — simply take time.
"They aren't going to move forward right now. Right now they're in a survival mode," she says. "The only way I've found that families of the missing move forward is if you allow them to hold the paradox that ambiguity causes.
"At one moment they'll say, 'I think they're at the bottom of the sea.' At another moment they'll say, 'I think perhaps they're alive on an island somewhere.' That is normal. That is natural and typical reactions from ambiguous loss."
Sometimes the ambiguity surrounding the loss persists for a lifetime, or even across generations, says Boss. How one deals with that ambiguity depends in part on culture.
"The problem is that those from very can-do cultures, from very mastery-oriented cultures, are used to having answers to all problems. And this is a case where you'll never have an answer," she says. "If that is the case, that you never have an answer, the only option left is to learn to live with the ambiguity."
Embracing that can be painful, says Boss, but it is ultimately a good thing for those suffering loss.
"They become more resilient and stronger for it. They are aware now that life will not always go their way," she says.
Even if people can personally accept not knowing the fate of their loved ones, they can still experience the social isolation that often comes with the grieving process.
"Society is really rough on the families of the missing. They don't understand quite what to do, and unfortunately what people tend to do therefore is stay away," Boss says. "Please don't stay away from these families. But there isn't much you have to say to them. Your presence will be support enough in many cases."
The fate of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 isn't known - and officials have stated their search will now focus on a large area to the west of the plane's planned flight path from Kuala Lampur to Beijing. Experts say it isn't likely to have landed - in part because the large plane would attract notice.
Another reason for that belief is the long runway the Boeing 777 would require - at least 5,000 feet, by most estimates. With that number in hand, NPR member station WNYC has created a map of long runways that would theoretically be within the flight's range.
WNYC acknowledges that theories that the plane might have landed are "unusual" and "unlikely." But the plane's disappearance is often described with both of those terms, and the mystery of its whereabouts persists. So WNYC's Data News team plugged in the data and generated a map showing 634 possibilities.
Even if the plane didn't land at one of the airports, it still gives a sense of the huge territory confronting search teams. Here's what WNYC came up with:
Redrawing national borders may feel like a historical relic that belongs to an earlier century, yet Crimea's crisis shows there are still places that don't fit neatly on the map — and may not for years to come.
Just last month, Crimea was part of Ukraine. On Sunday, Crimeans vote on whether they want to become part of Russia. Nevermind that the rest of the world rejects the validity of the ballot; no country appears willing or able to prevent Crimea from leaving Ukraine and joining Russia.
This strikes many as a dangerous development on a continent that's had its borders erased and reconstituted countless times.
"This is the first time since 1945 when a great power has changed, or is about to change, Europe's borders by force," Josef Joffe, editor of the German newspaper Die Zeit, told NPR's Morning Edition.
"It is a very serious test of wills which will decide whether Europe lives by the rules it has written the last 70 years or whether we're going back into the kind of 19th and 18th century," he added.
Borders do occasionally shift in the modern world, but the circumstances vary and the rules are fuzzy. In general, the international community rejects the use of brute force and accepts revised boundaries that are mutually agreed upon.
But often the cases fall somewhere in between and can drag on unresolved for decades. Here's a short list:
If a small, plucky territory is trying to cut itself loose from a larger power that's viewed as oppressive, then the international community may offer its blessing. But there's a lot of subjectivity involved.
The 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union is the greatest single source of current borders disputes, with at least a half-dozen territorial conflicts that are still unresolved.
Russia has expressed great empathy for ethnic Russians in Crimea who want to break away from Ukraine. On the other hand, Russia has fought two brutal wars in Chechnya to prevent that small territory from separating itself from Russia.
Another recent example is Kovoso's 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia. NATO intervened a decade earlier in support of the Kosovars following widespread abuses carried out under Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic.
The U.S. and many other countries supported Kosovo's independence, though international backing was far from universal. For instance, Russia has opposed Kosovo's independence and has the power to veto an application for United Nations membership.
The model here is Czechoslovakia's 1989 Velvet Revolution that led to the peaceful creation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
"When Czechoslovakia split up, the national governments agreed. This is the kind of breakup you always want, but you rarely get," says Stephen Larrabee of the Rand Corp.
In a similar vein, Scotland will hold a referendum in September on whether it wants to opt for independence after being part of the United Kingdom for more than three centuries. The polls suggest most Scots favor continued union.
However, this approach does not guarantee a happy ending. With the help of the United Nations and the international community, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 after decades of war. The hope was that both sides could peacefully go their own way, but the two countries have continued to feud. South Sudan appeared on the brink of civil war before a cease-fire was signed in January, but the country remains unstable.
Disputes Spanning Generations
Israel has never had fixed borders since its independence in 1948, and the Palestinians have never had a state at all.
India and Pakistan have been at odds over Kashmir since those two countries gained independence in 1947, fighting wars and posting soldiers on a Himalayan glacier along the Line of Control that separates the two sides.
Perhaps the question here is what role the international community should play in these disputes.
The U.S. and many others have sought to broker peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, to no avail. The world has mostly left the Indians and the Pakistanis to their own devices, and the conflict also remains stubbornly unresolved more than six decades later.
Greg Myre is the international editor at NPR.org. You can follow him on Twitter @gregmyre1
The dust is still settling on Capitol Hill after California Democrat Dianne Feinstein fired a verbal bazooka at the Central Intelligence Agency Tuesday morning from the Senate floor.
The Senate Intelligence Committee's chairwoman — normally a stalwart of Washington's spooks — essentially accused the spy agency of illegally and unconstitutionally spying on its congressional overseers.
Specifically, Feinstein charged that the CIA had searched computers used by her committee's staff during a five-year probe of the agency's clandestine detention centers and harsh interrogation practices following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
The investigation was carried out by the committee's Democratic majority, which compiled a 6,300-page report. It was finished in December 2012, but not made public, and Feinstein strongly suggested the CIA's actions — including a referral of her staffers' activity to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution — were an attempt to keep that document from ever seeing the light of day.
The 'Panetta Review'
Central to the dispute is a document the CIA apparently did not mean to include in the more than 6 million pages of records it made available for committee investigators to view on computers at a remote CIA-leased facility. Known as the Panetta review, it's an internal document that Feinstein said both analyzes and acknowledges "significant CIA wrongdoing." She did not explain just how it became available, other than to say it was found using a search tool.
But Feinstein also recognized that her staffers removed a printed portion of the Panetta review from the CIA facility for safekeeping at the committee's Capitol Hill office compound. Doing so, she insisted, had not breached any understanding with the CIA.
Hours later, CIA Director John Brennan denied his agency had hacked the Senate panel's computers.
"Nothing can be further from the truth," he said. "We wouldn't do that."
But Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the intelligence panel's top Republican, did not rule out wrongdoing on either side of the dispute when he addressed it on the Senate floor Wednesday.
"We do not know the actual facts concerning the CIA's alleged actions or all of the specific details about the actions by the committee staff [concerning the Panetta review]," he said, while noting that Republicans had not been involved in the panel's interrogation and detention probe. Both parties, Chambliss added, had made allegations against one another, "but there are still a lot of unanswered questions that must be addressed."
Chambliss said the situation may warrant a special investigator, but that does not currently seem to be in the cards — at least for now. After a closed-door meeting of the Intelligence Committee Thursday, North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr told NPR the panel had unanimously decided to carry out its own review.
"We've made a decision that we're going to pursue that as an internal course within the committee," he said, "and hopefully that will end any public review of most of the comments that are being made."
Another panel member, Oregon Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden, would not confirm what went on at the Thursday meeting. But he noted that CIA officials had earlier justified to news organizations the agency's search of the Senate's computers. "And then on Tuesday," Wyden added, "the CIA director tried to suggest that it really didn't happen at all. So there are a lot of questions here that don't add up."
The outrage over the CIA's actions has been somewhat more bipartisan than the probe that led to the blowup. South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham is not on the intelligence panel, but he was caustic after being briefed on the matter.
"If the CIA used its technology and its skill set to hack into a computer owned by the oversight committee to try to cover their butts and find out what kind of exposure they may have in terms of oversight," Graham told NPR, "that can't be ignored. We've got to address it head on."
As for the 6,300-page committee report, President Obama said this week its findings should be made public. But Burr, who's in line to be the intelligence panel's top Republican once Chambliss retires at year's end, said that won't happen anytime soon. "There's not a completed report yet," he said. "My only focus right now is on making sure that whenever the report is produced, it's factual and represents exactly what happened."
Expect even bigger fireworks once that report's findings get released.