Ethan Harfenist


New York, New York

Ethan Harfenist




The world’s most expensive coffee is a nightmare for the animals who produce it

The most expensive coffee in the world can go for $100 a cup, but it comes with a hidden cost: the well-being of a forest-dwelling cat-like creature native to southeast Asia. Even in the world of specialty coffees and nitro cold brews, civet coffee—also known by its Indonesian name, kopi luwak—is a benchmark for caffeinated luxury.
Quartz Link to Story

Is It Medicine Or Heroin? The Fight Over Kratom

Kratom, which has existed for years in a legal gray area, will be classified as a Schedule I drug at the end of September. Update: After a public outcry, the DEA has decided to withdraw its proposal to ban kratom. For Angie Ross, 51, chronic pain has been a daily reality for several years. Diagnosed with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis in 1998, Ross went about her routine in an opioid-induced haze to deal with the hurt brought on by her conditions.
Vocativ Link to Story

“Berniecrats” Capitalize On Sanders’ Wave Of Support

Politicians are associating with Bernie and trying to mobilize his base for their own campaigns. No matter who secures the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency, the 2016 election season will be remembered as the time Bernie Sanders and his little campaign that could shook the foundation of the American left.
Vocativ Link to Story

An Election Night Party At The Corner Of President And Clinton

A Brooklyn block party at an auspicious intersection drew an impromptu election night gathering. Hundreds of people gathered at the intersection of Clinton and President streets in Brooklyn, New York, on Tuesday evening to view the results of the 2016 presidential election. Although the scene was dominated by jubilant supporters of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, feelings of uncertainty and nervousness commingled with the excitement in the air.
Vocativ Link to Story

Censorship doesn't keep Vietnam's rappers from speaking their piece

In a chic second-story coffee shop in Ho Chi Minh City's financial hub, Hang Lam Trang Anh sips lime juice and reminisces about a major turning point in her life: the first time she heard American rapper Eminem. "I was like, 'Damn, this man is so mad!' But I was so mad, too," says Anh, wearing a black tunic-dress and a flashy gold bracelet, her hometown "Saigon" — the city's former name still used by many here — inked in wavy letters on her wrist.
Los Angeles Times Link to Story

Bomb Squad

Sok Chenda stood barefoot on a rickety wooden boat, the tropical sun beating down on his baby blue bucket hat. The water was dark, gloomy and brown. The air, heavy and hot. Chenda appeared unfazed, in spite of the enormous task before him. flat, focused and obscured by sunglasses — could have won him the World Series of Poker.
Latterly Magazine Link to Story

Four Years of Hell: Duped Cambodians Describe Nightmarish Ordeals on Thai Vessels

Like many Cambodians before him, Sopheap*, 29, moved away from his home country in search of work and a better life in neighbouring Thailand. His brother was working in construction and suggested he come join him. Sopheap agreed, and left his home in Kampong Cham’s Prey Chhor district. He went through the motions: He arranged to be brought to Thailand with a broker, and planned to join his brother working in construction.
The Phnom Penh Post Link to Story

Navigating Their Future: Rescued From Slavery, Cambodian Fishermen Face Same Grim Choices They Left Behind

As 230 more Cambodian fishermen are set to return from Indonesia today, those that have already made it home from years of hardship and turmoil on the high seas have found that they are largely in the same boat as when they left years ago. As in much of rural Cambodia, the village is inhabited by rice farmers who practise subsistence agriculture.
The Phnom Penh Post Link to Story

Is Indonesian Forestry Reform in Peril Under Jokowi?

The disbanding of a key agency could threaten conservation efforts. In 2013, then Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono established the National REDD+ Agency, the world’s first executive-level agency specially designated to tackle Indonesia’s myriad forestry and conservation issues. The agency was lauded at home and abroad as both a landmark achievement and a sign of hope for a country considered a poster child for environmental degradation.
The Diplomat Link to Story

Indonesia's Sin City Skirts Shutdown Plans

“We need to live, do not impoverish us,” reads a banner hanging over Gang Dolly put up by the Sex Workers’ Front (FPL) in protest to the closure. All photos by Arman Dzidzovic. It was nearly midnight and Pokemon was growing testy. We were standing at the entrance to Dolly, Southeast Asia's largest red-light district.

On the Brink of Extinction: Javan Rhino Has New Enemy in Invasive Palm

New threat is reducing the food supply of one of the world's rarest animals. The last of Indonesia's critically endangered Javan rhinoceroses have survived poachers, rapid deforestation and life in the shadow of one of the archipelago's most active volcanoes. But an invasive plant is now posing a new threat to the world's rarest species of rhino.
Mongabay Link to Story

For Indonesia’s Indigenous Peoples, Political Approach Gains Momentum

Palopo, South Sulawesi/Jakarta. When Mahir Takaka arrived in Tonangka, he was greeted with the warmth and familiarity of an old friend just dropping in to say hello. It was 9 a.m. on a Saturday, and about 40 people ― some seated in plastic chairs, others standing with sarongs covering their heads ― had gathered at the hamlet chief’s home.
The Jakarta Globe Link to Story


Ethan Harfenist

I'm a freelance reporter based in New York.

Previously, I was a reporter and evening editor at Vocativ. Before that, I freelanced for the New York Post and DNAInfo.

I was based in Southeast Asia from 2012 to 2015, working first as a web editor at the Jakarta Globe, and then as a national reporter for The Phnom Penh Post.

(Banner image: King of Hearts/Wikimedia Commons | Profile photo: Arman Dzidzovic)