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2018-04-04 The New York Times International Edition

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India loves
data but fails
to protect it
Trade moves
by Trump
are dividing
Rahul Bhatia
Stock markets in retreat
on fears that U.S. will be
shut out of Chinese market
MUMBAI, INDIA The Indian government
is in thrall of the dazzle and promise of
technology, seeing in it a vehicle to
overcome the inefficiencies of its humongous bureaucratic apparatus.
Shortly before coming to power in
2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi
positioned himself as a digital governance evangelist.
A few months into his tenure, the
Indian government began using biometric devices to tell on government
employees who didn’t turn up for work.
The state of Gujarat, which Mr. Modi
had ruled for more than a decade, took
to using biometrics to red-pen students
who skipped school. Mr. Modi has
argued that digital payments will
check “black money” — the Indian
term for unaccounted, often illegally
acquired wealth —
and other forms of
The chasm
Under Mr. Modi’s
government, Aadgovernance
haar, India’s enoraspirations
mous biometric
and the ability
identification system, which was
to protect
initially promoted
that data is
growing wider. as a voluntary
program to refine
the delivery of
public services and
curb corruption, is increasingly seen as
necessary for public and private services — giving birth in a hospital, enrolling a child in preschool, collecting
your college degree, maintaining a
telephone connection or a bank account, and collecting a death certificate. The government seems to be in a
war of attrition with its citizens, breaking down their resistance to the biometric identification program.
Mr. Modi, who has spoken relentlessly of his dream of a digital India
and flaunted the miracle of technology
by appearing in public as a threedimensional hologram in numerous
places at the same time, has described
data as “real wealth” that would confer
“hegemony” on “whoever acquires and
controls” it.
But alarming gaps in India’s information security infrastructure, government departments and the Unique
Identification Authority of India — the
federal agency running the Aadhaar
project — have exposed the private
data of several million Indians on
numerous occasions over the last two
The chasm between India’s digital
governance aspirations and its ability
to protect that data is visible at the
The New York Times publishes opinion
from a wide range of perspectives in
hopes of promoting constructive debate
about consequential questions.
A Chinese state-owned steel plant. Many of the trade measures that President Trump has proposed have split his own advisers, the business community and the Republican Party.
Keeping Turkey spellbound
President makes speeches
up to 3 times a day in his
signature divisive style
As President Trump has his tweets, the
leader of Turkey has his speeches.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
makes up to three every weekday — two
a day on weekends — and his charismatic, combative talks are the primary vehicle of his success.
He calls democracy advocates “marauders.” He mocks the German foreign
minister as a “disaster.” He is as comfortable in the vernacular as he is reciting poetry.
He takes on his enemies publicly by
name, pivoting seamlessly from pious to
Even after 15 years at the helm, Mr.
Erdogan, whose skills as an orator even
his opponents envy, treats every event
like a campaign rally — and he turns just
about every day into one. He remains
the country’s most popular politician
and is poised to seek re-election, possibly this year, with polling showing him
with over 40 percent support.
Much of that appeal can be credited to
his ubiquitous media presence and a
speaking style that supporters find inspiring and detractors divisive. Neither
side doubts that it has struck a chord
with Turkey’s conservative working
In that regard, Mr. Erdogan fits perfectly with the deepening global trend
toward autocrats and swaggering
strongmen (they are all men) who have
found a way to speak forcefully for common people who feel their point of view
has been ignored for too long.
Mr. Erdogan’s speeches are often
broadcast live on multiple television
channels, almost universally pro-government, from every event he attends.
His voice is heard everywhere, in cafes,
homes and government offices across
the land.
His favorite tactic: attacking people
his supporters love to hate, whether the
United States, European leaders or the
liberal elite.
To his support base, Mr. Erdogan
talks like a father, a brother or the man
next door.
“He is one of us,” supporters often explain. And he says what he thinks, in
salty, everyday language, just like them.
“And now they have a foreign minister — oh, my God — what a disaster,”
Mr. Erdogan railed to supporters in the
western region of Denizli last summer,
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaking in Istanbul last year. He treats almost every
event like a campaign rally, with a rhetorical style that opponents envy but also mock.
at the height of his country’s tensions
with Germany. “He never knows his
place,” Mr. Erdogan continued. “Who
are you — Ha! — speaking to the president of Turkey? You are talking to the
foreign minister of Turkey. Know your
“And he attempts to give us a lesson.
What is your history in politics? How old
Picasso in 1932: Ingenious, exhausting, relentless
Tate Modern show focuses
on a single year of the
artist’s prodigious output
As the sun set on the last day of 1932,
President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt
waited to take office, while American
banks continued to buckle. The last
chancellor of Weimar Germany sat in a
Rococo palace in Berlin; the last emperor of China was installed on a puppet throne in Manchukuo.
The globe was agitated, and art was
not exempt. The Nazis forced the
Bauhaus out of Dessau in 1932, and in
the same year the Soviet Union dissolved independent artists’ unions and
promulgated the single style of socialist realism.
Pablo Picasso, in his studio on
Paris’s Rue la Boétie or from his
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“Reclining Nude” (“Femme nue couchée”) is part of an exhibition of more than 100
paintings, sculptures and drawings by Picasso, which represent a fraction of his output.
chateau in Normandy, barely noticed.
For him, the year 1932 was a cavalcade
of public praise and private indulgences, a year when stylistic invention
tipped into frenzy.
Always overproductive, Picasso
supercharged his career in 1932, the
year his first retrospective exhibition
took place and when the first volume of
Christian Zervos’s mammoth catalogue
raisonné was published. In 1932, the
world was tilting toward catastrophe.
Picasso was becoming a god.
What the Spaniard made in 1932 is
the subject of an uncommon exhibition
at Tate Modern in London with an
almost irresponsibly simple premise:
one year, in chronological order, in the
life of an artist. At its initial outing last
fall, at the Musée Picasso in Paris, it
bore the title “Picasso 1932: Année
érotique,” which, while candid, raises
the question of whether every year in
his priapic life might not be designated
an erotic one.
At Tate Modern, the show has a
tamer, Anglo-Saxon name: “Picasso
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Issue Number
No. 42,007
are you? Our life passed with those
struggles in politics.”
The passage was vintage Erdogan.
“Stylistically he is always full of surprises,” said Asli Aydintasbas, a former
journalist and senior fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “He
does not mind shocking people and taTURKEY, PAGE 4
President Trump’s promise to take
tough action against China’s unfair economic practices was one of his most popular campaign ideas. But as the United
States prepares stiff trade measures
and China retaliates, stock markets
have plummeted and some of America’s
biggest companies are pushing back.
Industry giants like General Electric
and Goldman Sachs, as well as agricultural companies, have lodged objections
with the White House, saying that tariffs
on both sides of the Pacific and limitations on investments will cut American
companies off from the world’s most lucrative and rapidly growing market.
China imposed tariffs this week on
more than 100 American products, including pork, fruit, recycled aluminum
and steel pipes. Fears of an incipient
trade war between the world’s two largest economies sent the Standard &
Poor’s 500-stock index tumbling 2.2 percent on Monday and pushed American
markets into correction territory. Technology stocks bore the brunt of the
slump, as a recent spate of bad news
about tech companies like Facebook,
Tesla and Amazon unsettled investors.
Asian markets were mostly lower on
Tuesday, but shares rose in Hong Kong
in the first trading since Thursday.
China’s action could be an escalation
in a much broader trade dispute. The announcement was a direct response to
the Trump administration’s tariffs on
imports of steel and aluminum, which
were directed at a range of countries, including China.
Since then, the White House has announced another trade measure aimed
at China that would place tariffs on at
least $50 billion worth of products imported to the United States and would
restrict investment flows between the
two economic giants. This week, the
Trump administration is expected to announce a list of Chinese imports subject
to tariffs, which could include high-tech
products like semiconductors and lowpriced electronics.
Josh Kallmer, the senior vice president for global policy at the Information
Technology Industry Council, an advocate for companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and IBM, said his
group had been largely supportive of the
administration’s focus on Chinese trade
practices that it deems unfair.
But the group had made it clear to the
Retaliatory tariffs by China are a blow
to American exporters increasingly
catering to wealthy Chinese. PAGE 12
2 | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2018
page two
Loved and vilified, she fought apartheid
what it is to hate.” After blacks rioted in
the segregated Johannesburg township
of Soweto in 1976, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela was again imprisoned without trial,
this time for five months. She was then
banished to a bleak township outside the
profoundly conservative white town of
Brandfort, in the Orange Free State.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, whose hallowed place in the pantheon of South Africa’s liberators was eroded by scandal
over corruption, kidnapping, murder
and the implosion of her fabled marriage to Nelson Mandela, died on Monday in Johannesburg. She was 81.
Her death, at the Netcare Milpark
Hospital, was announced by her spokesman, Victor Dlamini. He said in a statement that she died “after a long illness,
for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year.”
The South African Broadcasting Corporation said she had been admitted to
the hospital over the weekend, complaining of the flu after she attended a
church service on Friday. She had been
treated for diabetes and had undergone
major surgeries as her health began failing over the last several years.
Charming, intelligent, complex, fiery
and eloquent, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela
(Madikizela was her surname at birth)
was inevitably known to most of the
world through her marriage to the
revered Mr. Mandela. It was a bond that
endured ambiguously: She derived a
vaunted status from their shared struggle, yet she chafed at being defined by
Ms. Madikizela-Mandela commanded
a natural constituency of her own
among South Africa’s poor and dispossessed, and the post-apartheid leaders
who followed Mr. Mandela could never
ignore her appeal to a broad segment of
society. In April 2016, the government of
President Jacob G. Zuma gave Ms.
Madikizela-Mandela one of the country’s highest honors: the Order of
Luthuli, given, in part, for contributions
to the struggle for democracy.
Ms. Madikizela-Mandela retained a
political presence as a member of Parliament, representing the dominant African National Congress, and she insisted on a kind of primacy in Mr. Mandela’s life, no matter their estrangement.
“Nobody knows him better than I do,”
she told a British interviewer in 2013.
Increasingly, though, Ms. MadikizelaMandela resented the notion that her
anti-apartheid credentials had been
eclipsed by her husband’s global stature
and celebrity, and she struggled in vain
in later years to be regarded again as the
“mother of the nation,” a sobriquet acquired during the long years of Mr. Mandela’s imprisonment. She insisted that
her contribution had been wrongly depicted as a pale shadow of his.
“I am not Mandela’s product,” she told
an interviewer. “I am the product of the
masses of my country and the product of
my enemy” — references to South Africa’s white rulers under apartheid and
to her burning hatred of them, rooted in
her own years of mistreatment, incarceration and banishment.
While Mr. Mandela was held at the
Robben Island penal settlement, off
Cape Town, where he spent most of his
27 years in jail, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela
acted as the main conduit to his followers, who hungered for every clue to his
thinking and well-being. The flow of information was meager, however: Her
visits there were rare, and she was
never allowed physical contact with
In time, her reputation became
scarred by accusations of extreme brutality toward suspected turncoats, misbehavior and indiscretion in her private
Nelson Mandela with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela after his release from a South African prison in 1990. She was a conduit to his followers during his imprisonment.
life and a radicalism that seemed at odds
with Mr. Mandela’s quest for racial inclusiveness.
She nevertheless sought to remain in
his orbit. She was at his side, brandishing a victor’s clenched fist salute, when
he was finally released from prison in
February 1990.
Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela was born to a noble family of the
Xhosa-speaking Pondo tribe in Transkei. Her first name, Nomzamo, means
“she who must endure trials.”
Her birth date was Sept. 26, 1936, according to the Nelson Mandela Foundation and many other sources, although
earlier accounts gave the year as 1934.
Her father, Columbus, was a senior official in the so-called homeland of Transkei, according to South African History
Online, an unofficial archive, which described her as the fourth of eight children. (Other accounts say her family
was larger.) Her mother, Gertrude, was
a teacher who died when Winnie was 8,
the archive said.
As a barefoot child she tended cattle
and learned to make do with very little,
in marked contrast to her later years of
free-spending ostentation. She attended
a Methodist mission school and then the
Hofmeyr School of Social Work in Johannesburg, where she befriended Adelaide Tsukudu, the future wife of Oliver
Tambo, a law partner of Mr. Mandela’s
who went on to lead the A.N.C. in exile.
She turned down a scholarship in the
United States, preferring to remain in
South Africa as the first black social
worker at the Baragwanath hospital in
Ms. Madikizela-Mandela at a 2009 event
to honor her former husband.
Ms. Madikizela-Mandela attended her husband’s trial in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1962
for incitement and leaving the country illegally. He received a five-year sentence.
One day in 1957, when she was waiting
at a bus stop, Nelson Mandela drove
past. “I was struck by her beauty,” he
wrote in his autobiography, “Long Walk
to Freedom.” Some weeks later, he recalled, “I was at the office when I popped
in to see Oliver and there was this same
young woman.”
Mr. Mandela, approaching 40 and the
father of three, declared on their first
date that he would marry her. Soon he
separated from his first wife, Evelyn
Ntoko Mase, a nurse, to marry Ms.
Madikizela-Mandela on June 14, 1958.
Ms. Madikizela-Mandela was thrust
into the limelight in 1964 when her husband was sentenced to life in prison on
charges of treason. She was officially
“banned” under draconian restrictions
intended to make her a nonperson, unable to work, socialize, move freely or be
quoted in the South African news media,
even as she raised their two daughters,
Zenani and Zindziswa.
In a crackdown in May 1969, five
years after her husband was sent to
prison, she was arrested and held for 17
months, 13 in solitary confinement. She
was beaten and tortured. The experience, she wrote, was “what changed me,
what brutalized me so much that I knew
Ms. Madikizela-Mandela’s exclusion
from what passed as a normal life in
South Africa took a toll, and she began to
drink heavily. During her banishment,
moreover, her land changed. Beginning
in late 1984, young protesters challenged the authorities with increasing
audacity. The unrest spread, prompting
the white rulers to acknowledge what
they called a “revolutionary climate”
and declare a state of emergency.
When Ms. Madikizela-Mandela returned to her home in Soweto in 1985,
breaking her banning orders, it was as a
far more bellicose figure, determined to
assume leadership of what became the
decisive and most violent phase of the
struggle. As she saw it, her role was to
stiffen the confrontation with the authorities.
The tactics were harsh.
“Together, hand in hand, with our
boxes of matches and our necklaces, we
will liberate this country,” she told a rally
in April 1986. She was referring to “necklacing,” a form of sometimes arbitrary
execution by fire using a gas-soaked tire
around a supposed traitor’s neck, and it
shocked an older generation of antiapartheid campaigners. But her severity aligned her with the young township
radicals who enforced commitment to
the struggle.
In the late 1980s, Ms. MadikizelaMandela allowed the outbuildings
around her residence in Soweto to be
used by the so-called Mandela United
Football Club, a vigilante gang that
claimed to be her bodyguard. It terrorized Soweto, inviting infamy and prosecution.
In 1991 she was convicted of ordering
the 1988 kidnapping of four youths in
The body of one, a 14-year-old named
James Moeketsi Seipei — nicknamed
Stompie, a slang word for a cigarette
butt, reflecting his diminutive stature —
was found with his throat cut.
Ms. Madikizela-Mandela’s chief bodyguard was convicted of murder. She was
sentenced to six years for kidnapping,
but South Africa’s highest appeals court
reduced her punishment to fines and a
suspended one-year term.
By then her life had begun to unravel.
The United Democratic Front, an umbrella group of organizations fighting
apartheid and linked to the A.N.C., expelled her. In April 1992, Mr. Mandela,
midway through settlement talks with
President F. W. de Klerk of South Africa,
announced that he and his wife were
separating. (She dismissed suggestions
that she had wanted to be known by the
title “first lady.” “I am not the sort of person to carry beautiful flowers and be an
ornament to everyone,” she said.)
Two years later, Mr. Mandela was
elected president and offered her a minor job as the deputy minister of arts,
culture, science and technology. But after allegations of influence peddling, bribetaking and misuse of government
funds, she was forced from office. In
1996, Mr. Mandela ended their 38-year
marriage, testifying in court that his
wife was having an affair with a colleague.
Joseph R. Gregory contributed reporting.
Picasso in 1932: Ingenious, exhausting, relentless
1932 — Love, Fame, Tragedy.” (The
London version of “Picasso 1932” has
been organized by Achim BorchardtHume, Tate Modern’s director of exhibitions, and Nancy Ireson, a curator at
the museum; Laurence Madeline and
Virginie Perdrisot-Cassan were responsible for the Paris edition.)
A year’s work, for most artists,
would fill just one gallery, if that. Picasso gives us enough for a feast. More
than 100 paintings, sculptures and
drawings from that year are at the
museum, representing just a fraction
of his output, and they’re accompanied
by copious archival materials — a
butcher’s bill, a family photo album, a
manuscript by André Breton — and
earlier works that appeared in the
retrospectives of that year.
Here at the Tate are point-blank
masterpieces, above all the plaster and
cement busts of his young lover MarieThérèse Walter; wonderful and underrated drawings, including a suite of
scenes from the Crucifixion translated
into strange surrealist tableaux;
frankly amateurish sketches of Boisgeloup in the rain; and a hefty amount
of cruise-ship Picasso, such as the
Tate’s own “Nude Woman in a Red
Armchair,” with a face only an oligarch
could love.
And if, like me, you look askance at
overly biographical readings of modern art — not least as regards old male
geniuses and the mute, pliant muses
Picasso’s “Three Dancers,” from 1925, and “Woman in the Garden,” a sculpture from
1929-30. The works were exhibited in Picasso’s first retrospective in Paris in 1932.
who love them — you will have an
extra task in “Picasso 1932,” which in
some spots reduces the art into mile
markers in the life of a lech. Each work
here, dated to the day and even the
hour in some cases, serves as a page in
a diary. Your mission is to treat them
as more than that: to untangle the
artist’s interwoven threads, and to
reckon with the multiplicity of Picasso’s année érotique in stylistic and
social terms that intersect with, but
can’t be reduced to, a mere life story.
One painter, one year. He was 50
years old at the start of 1932, and the
previous Christmas he’d painted a
brace of pictures, on view in a prologue
here, that prefigure the dreamlike,
indulgent, violent year to come. One,
the 1931 oil “Woman With Dagger,” is a
riff on Jacques-Louis David’s “The
Death of Marat,” in which the Girondin
murderess appears as an ectoplasmic
gray lizard, fangs bared as she soars
above Marat’s bathtub. The other is a
languorous portrait of a woman seated
in a striped red chair, her hands an icy
lavender, her single breast as round
and rigid as a softball, her face liquefied into a heart-shaped squiggle.
The subject of that painting is MarieThérèse, who was 22 on New Year’s
Day. “Picasso 1932” is as much her
show as his, and the young Frenchwoman, lithe, athletic, untroubled,
appears again and again in uncanny
states of bodily deliquescence.
The role she would play in Picasso’s
art is visible as early as January. In
“Le Repos” (“Rest”), painted on the
22nd day of the year, Picasso’s wife
Olga lazes in a chair in front of Matisse-echoing floral wallpaper. Olga’s
right breast soars creepily upward;
her head is thrust to the right, her dark
hair rendered as bristling parallel cilia.
Marie-Thérèse, blonde, sits with a look
of postcoital bliss in front of the same
wallpaper in “Le Rêve” (“The Dream”)
from Jan. 24 — which became worldfamous when its previous owner, the
now-disgraced casino magnate
Stephen A. Wynn, agreed to sell it to
the financier Steven A. Cohen and then
promptly punctured its surface with
his elbow. (Mr. Cohen eventually
bought the restored painting in 2013.)
“Le Rêve” hangs here in a plexiglass
vitrine, and you can’t detect any injury,
even if you can look away from her
closed left eye, transmuted into the
glans of a tumescent penis.
“Le Rêve” is not a particularly accomplished painting, and indeed many
works in this exhibition are garish,
hasty and unremarkable. Moments of
intense breakthrough — above all in
early March, when he painted the
surreal “Nude in a Black Armchair”
and “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust,”
which treat Marie-Thérèse’s mauve
flesh as a source of vegetal growth,
and the ultradense,
troubling “Girl Be“Picasso
fore a Mirror,” on
1932” reduces loan from the Museum of Modern Art
the art into
in New York —
mile markers
coexist with fallow
in the life
months. (In summer,
of a lech.
Picasso really
checked out.) That’s
not a knock on the
curators of “Picasso 1932.” It can be
bracing to see Picasso shuttle between
triumph and kitsch in the space of a
Later in 1932, after a sojourn in
Switzerland, Picasso turned to ink
drawing and completed a baker’s
dozen of works on paper that reimagined Matthias Grünewald’s Isenheim
Altarpiece (1512-1516) as assemblages
of acrobatic shapes and body parts.
But in September, on the river Marne,
Marie-Thérèse tumbled out of her
kayak and nearly drowned. She was
hospitalized; she contracted a viral
infection that would cost her her hair.
Even those suspicious of such biographical readings will note the darker
tones of this show’s later galleries, and
the recurrence of scenes of rape, diving and drowning. In the masterly
“Rescue,” painted on Nov. 20, a gasping woman is pulled from the waters
by an equally nude savior, their bodies
flattened and distended into supple
panels of lilac and blue.
“Rescue,” like all of Picasso’s best
works from 1932, was born out of desire for Marie-Thérèse — but it exceeds that desire as well, and exceeds,
moreover, the life of any one artist. In
the last gallery, we come across a
quotation from Michel Leiris, the
French ethnologist, whose fatalistic
interpretation of art in 1932 rings truer
than the first-person-singular orientation that this show both indulges and
disclaims. He wrote: “Everything we
love is about to die, and that is why
everything must be summed up, with
all the high emotion of farewell, in
something so beautiful we shall never
forget it.”
Even Picasso, ensconced in his
chauffeur-driven Hispano-Suiza, could
not keep the outside world at bay. In
three years, civil war would break out
in his native Spain. The bodies in extremis he painted in the fall of 1932 —
terrified, hungry, surging past their
physical limits — would re-emerge in a
Basque village called Guernica.
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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2018 | 3
Dolphin deaths in Brazil bay raise alarm
Scientists fear heavy toll
traced to virus suggests
an environmental issue
Something ominous was happening in
the turquoise waters of Sepetiba Bay, a
booming port outside Rio de Janeiro. Beginning late last year, fishermen were
coming across the scarred and emaciated carcasses of dolphins, sometimes five
a day, bobbing up to the surface.
Since then, scientists there have discovered more than 200 dead Guiana dolphins, or Sotalia guianensis, a quarter of
what was the world’s largest concentration of the species. The deaths, caused
by respiratory and nervous system failures linked to a virus, have subsided, but
scientists are working to unravel the
mystery behind them.
How, they ask, did a virus that might
ordinarily have claimed a handful of dolphins end up killing scores of them? And
does part of the answer, scientists and
local residents ask, lie in the bay itself, at
once a testament to Brazil’s economic
power and a portent of environmental
The dolphins are “sentinels,” said
Mariana Alonso, a biologist at the Biophysics Institute at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, one of a number
groups working to understand the epidemic. “When something is wrong with
them, that indicates the whole ecosystem is fractured.”
Once a sleepy fishing area with white
sand beaches and an archipelago of tiny
hill-shaped islands, Sepetiba Bay, 40
miles west of downtown Rio, became
one of the principal gateways for Brazilian exports over the past generation. In
2017, 39 million tons of iron ore and other
commodities shipped from there.
The wooden fishing boats that crisscross the bay now weave around massive merchant ships loaded with iron
and steel. Though people still swim in its
waters, four ports and a constellation of
chemical, steel and manufacturing
plants have risen on its shores. One of
Leonardo Flach, left, a biologist, and Guilherme Alves Santana, a technician, lifting a dolphin carcass from Sepetiba Bay. More than 200 dolphin carcasses have been counted.
world’s most prominent iron ore
producers, Vale, occupies a new terminal in an old fishing spot on nearby
Guaiba Island.
“When I was a child, buffalo roamed
the farms around my village, and we had
apples and coconuts,” said Cleyton Ferreira Figueiredo, 28, a convenience
store cashier who, nostalgia aside, also
sees advantages in the development.
“Now everything is more urban, with
schools and facilities. There are more
jobs, and it takes me 15 minutes to get
home when I finish.”
Sepetiba Bay is on a strategic bit of
coastline astride the country’s most developed states: industrial São Paulo, oilrich Rio de Janeiro and iron-producing
Minas Gerais. About 22,000 workers
commute to factories such as Gerdau,
Ternium and Rolls-Royce in the industrial district of Santa Cruz, next to the
port area. A Brazilian Navy terminal,
now under construction, will soon harbor nuclear submarines.
“The number of industries and ventures along Sepetiba Bay has been
growing exponentially in recent years,”
said Dr. Alonso, the biologist. “What that
generates is a greater concentration of
pollutants in the seafloor and in the food
Scientists have attributed the dolphin
deaths to morbillivirus, an airborne virus from the family that causes measles
in humans. They are seeking to understand how the dolphins became so
highly vulnerable to the virus and are
examining the role of pollution and environmental degradation.
The effects of the virus — rash, fever,
respiratory infection, disorientation —
suggest an agonizing death. Dying dolphins were seen swimming sideways
and alone. Some carcasses had ugly deformations and blood dripping from
their eyes. Outbreaks have been reported among dolphins in other parts of
the world, but this is the first for the
species in the South Atlantic.
“The reality is that the mass death
caused by morbillivirus is only the tip of
the iceberg,” said Leonardo Flach, the
scientific coordinator at the Grey Dolphin Institute, a conservation group that
is also involved in the sleuthing.
The Guiana dolphin, a species found
from Central America to southern
Brazil, is considered a sentinel because,
as a top predator and mammal, it is
prone to disease linked to polluted waters, Dr. Flach said.
He has urged the creation of a marine
conservation area to study and safeguard the bay.
Sergio Hirochi, 49, a fisherman who
was born in the area and owns three
small boats, said he had seen the bay’s
environmental decline, beginning in the
mid-1990s when the mining company
Ingá Mercantil operated in the area.
The company closed in 1998 after it
came under scrutiny for dumping pollutants, but a burst of new development
“From here, I see how much mineral
waste winds up in the ocean,” said Mr.
Hirochi, who sells fish at a warehouse
near his waterfront home. “The Bay of
Sepetiba is an estuary, a nursery of
species. And when you destroy it, you
destroy marine life.”
While acknowledging the environmental impact on Sepetiba Bay, the
municipal government in Itaguai, the
largest nearby city, points to the benefits
of development, like the construction of
a modern highway and the opening of
land to entrepreneurs.
Max Sanches, the manager of a hotel,
said he arrived in 2012, smack in the
middle of the boom.
“In fact, the ports have generated development, jobs and investments,” said
Mr. Sanches, who said his hotel worked
hard to limit and treat its discharges.
“We work with the port and the beauty,
and we want the bay to be good for all.”
Still, Mr. Sanches had a bit of advice.
“We suggest our clients not swim in this
beach,” he said. “The water could be better treated.”
TV programs touch a nerve
A new Netflix series
about corruption stirs
up raw political debate
A new Netflix series about a sprawling
corruption investigation has muscled its
way into Brazil’s heated politics, outraging supporters of a leftist former president who is trying to make a comeback
and stirring debate about how closely a
docudrama should adhere to the facts.
The series, “The Mechanism,” has
drawn heat since it was released on
March 23. Critics say its inaccuracies
are unfair to a former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is the leading
candidate in the polls for the election
this fall. Others see in the show a more
or less fair, if depressing, depiction of an
intricate investigation that has so far
seen more than 100 people convicted, including senior political figures like Mr.
da Silva.
Still others say the publicity — however negative — has been only a boon for
Netflix, the American-based video service, and lament the frivolity of talking
about a television show instead of poverty, violence, environmental conflicts
and the myriad other challenges that
face Brazil, Latin America’s most populous nation.
The debate has been fierce.
Paulo Roberto Pires, a left-leaning
columnist at the newsmagazine Época,
called the series misleading, adding that
it reduced complex political, historical
and social issues to the fight against corruption. Antonia Pellegrino, a feminist
activist who has a blog at the newspaper
Folha de São Paulo, said the series
amounted to a “condemnation of representative democracy.”
Mr. da Silva, known universally as
Lula, has not directly commented on the
series, but his ally and successor as
president, Dilma Rousseff, wrote a post
on Facebook listing inaccuracies. “Netflix’s board doesn’t know what they got
into,” she wrote recently, a comment
that some commentators interpreted as
an implicit threat. “I think this is very serious for them.”
A creator of the series, José Padilha, a
Brazilian based in Los Angeles, said the
furor had only benefited the series. “I
think Lula and Dilma are helping us a lot
with the marketing of the series,” he said
with a laugh. Mr. Padilha noted the disclaimer before each episode, which says
that the series is “loosely based on actual events.”
“The Mechanism” dramatizes a corruption investigation — known by its police code name, Operation Car Wash —
that has roiled Brazilian politics for over
four years. Three successive presidents
have been implicated: Mr. da Silva, who
was convicted of corruption and money
laundering; Ms. Rousseff, who was impeached and removed from office over
unrelated charges of violating budgetary rules but also faced criminal investigations; and the incumbent, Michel Temer, who has faced charges and
remains under investigation.
A main criticism is of a scene in which
a character based on Mr. da Silva talks
about efforts to block the investigation
and speaks of a need to “stop this bleeding.” In reality, the quotation was uttered in a 2016 secret recording of Senator Romero Jucá, a onetime ally of Mr. da
Silva’s who by then had become a political opponent and later backed the impeachment of Ms. Rousseff. Ms. Rousseff pointed to other liberties the series
took with the facts.
One money-laundering scandal referred to in the series occurred when an
opposition party — not Mr. da Silva’s
Workers’ Party — was in charge.
Ms. Rousseff also complained that the
main money launderer, Alberto Youssef,
is depicted in a scene inside her campaign committee during the 2014 elections. In reality he was already in jail.
Critics say the series is unfair to a former
president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
The series takes a largely dim view of
Mr. da Silva. Prosecutors have portrayed him as an embodiment of corruption, while Mr. da Silva says that the investigations were driven by rivals. Mr.
da Silva wants to run in the October election, although he was convicted last
year of corruption and still faces
charges in six other corruption cases.
He has appealed. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on
whether he should be jailed imminently.
The title of the Netflix series comes
from Mr. Padilha’s theory, expounded in
columns, that only the corrupt can get
ahead in Brazilian politics.
Some critics have called him a reactionary, a charge he denies; he has made
donations to a smaller left-wing party
that has not been embroiled in the corruption investigation.
On the left, the response to Mr. Padilha’s show has been outrage. Pablo Villaça, a left-leaning film critic, called the
release of the series “extremely irresponsible.”
episodes, he announced on his Twitter
account that he was canceling his subscription to Netflix.
More conservative voters saw it differently. “I think Padilha wanted to give
a general overview of corruption in
Brazil,” said Adelaide Oliveira, a spokeswoman for Vem Pra Rua, or Take to the
Streets, a movement that opposes corruption and big government. “I think he
did it well, though reality is richer.”
In a speech during a rally last
Wednesday, Mr. da Silva said he might
sue Netflix. His lawyers told Netflix last
year about his concerns with distortions
in the series; the company did not respond to requests for comment about
this article. Nearly half of Brazilians
lack home internet access, limiting the
reach of the series in the country.
In an interview, Mr. Padilha played
down the significance of the misquote
attributed to Mr. da Silva, saying the
phrase “doesn’t belong to anybody.”
He added, “We have a show where we
show that those politicians stole billions
of dollars, and the problem they have is
with a line?”
Fábio Vasconcellos, a political scientist at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, said that he did not think the series would have much electoral impact.
“The series fuels already existent points
of view,” he said. “A lot of what is in there
is very well known to Brazilians.”
The series has found some fans in
Brazil. “People are criticizing it, but
those people were the leaders of the government, of course they were involved,”
said Gabriel Coelho, a 29-year-old cook
in Rio de Janeiro. “We only need to find
out to what extent.” Others refused to
watch. “It’s bad for Brazil, because it’s a
series that arrives in people’s homes
with just with one side of the story,” said
Paula Abreu, a 31-year-old teacher, also
from Rio de Janeiro. “It’s concerning because it intensifies hate.”
It is likely that this will not be the last
time Netflix wades into politically
treacherous waters in Latin America.
In neighboring Argentina, expectations are high for a mini-series that Netflix has reportedly begun producing
about the mysterious death of a prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, who was investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish
community center.
Mr. Nisman was found dead in his
bathroom with a gunshot wound to the
head in 2015, hours before he was scheduled to testify in Congress about an explosive accusation that the president at
the time, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, and several members of her administration conspired to cover up what the
accusers claim said was Iran’s role in the
attack. The death, which a recent forensic report concluded was a murder, has
divided Argentina and continues to be
enveloped in mystery.
Daniel Politi contributed reporting from
Buenos Aires.
4 | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2018
convicted of
Northbound ‘caravans’ alarm Trump
Despite president’s tweets,
many in immigrant groups
do not seek U.S. border
It has become a regular occurrence, particularly around the Easter holiday:
scores or even hundreds of Central
American migrants making their way
north on foot and in vehicles from southern Mexico. They include infants and
the elderly, fleeing violence and poverty
in their homelands.
They travel in large groups — the current is one of the largest at about 1,200
participants — in part for protection
against the kidnappers, muggers and
rapists that stalk the migrant trail, but
also to draw more attention to their
plight. Some have the United States in
mind, but many are thinking only as far
as a new home in Mexico.
Called “caravans,” most of the journeys, which date back at least five years,
have moved forward with little fanfare,
virtually unnoticed north of the border
with the United States. But tweets by
President Trump have suddenly turned
the latest caravan into a major international incident and the most recent flash
point in the politics of immigration in the
United States.
“Getting more dangerous,” the president tweeted on Sunday. “‘Caravans’
On Monday, he warned that “our
country is being stolen” by illegal immigration, blaming Democrats for what he
said were weak border policies and urging Mexico to strengthen its border enforcement.
“Mexico has the absolute power not to
let these large ‘Caravans’ of people enter their country,” he said in a tweet.
In interviews on Monday, the caravan’s organizers sounded frustrated, exhausted and dismayed.
“We are not terrorists,” said Irineo
Mujica, Mexico director of Pueblo Sin
Fronteras — People Without Borders —
a transnational advocacy group that is
coordinating the current caravan and
has organized others in recent years. He
was speaking by phone from Matías Romero, a town in the state of Oaxaca in
southwest Mexico where members of
the caravan had spent the previous two
nights, sleeping in a park.
“We are not anarchists,” Mr. Mujica
continued. “We try to help people to
know their rights, things that we as human beings should be doing, try to advocate for human, sensible solutions.”
Late Monday, Mexican immigration
officials began negotiations with caravan organizers about how to deal with
the migrants.
Alex Mensing, project coordinator for
Pueblo Sin Fronteras, said that the Mexican authorities had agreed to provide
eligible migrants with humanitarian visas permitting them to remain in the
country legally. Others would be provided with temporary transit passes,
which usually last 20 days, allowing
them to visit an immigration office and
begin the process of legalizing their status or to travel to the United States border to apply for asylum or some other
form of protection, Mr. Mensing said.
Mexico’s Foreign Ministry and Interior Ministry, in a statement issued jointly
United States agents with undocumented immigrants near the border with Mexico. Some refugees travel in large groups for protection against kidnappers and muggers.
late Monday, said the authorities had already deported 400 participants in the
caravan since the event began more
than a week ago, but confirmed that
they were offering protections to the migrants “in cases where this is appropriate.”
“Under no circumstances does the
Mexican government promote irregular
migration,” the statement said.
Mr. Mensing said that processing details were still being worked out between government officials and the caravan organizers, but warned that should
the process take too long, “it’s very possible that the caravan will reignite.”
The migrant group left the southern
Mexican border town of Tapachula on
March 25, at that point numbering about
700. Most of the participants were from
Honduras and many of them said they
were fleeing violence and poverty in
their home countries, organizers said.
Some say they were inspired to flee
Honduras following the violent suppression of political protests that erupted after last year’s presidential election.
Over the past week, the group grew in
size, to about 1,200 by the time it arrived
in Matías Romero.
But organizers said that contrary to
the vision of a migrant onslaught on
America conjured by Mr. Trump, most
participants do not intend to travel as
far as the border of the United States.
“He’s trying to paint this as if we are
trying to go to the border, and we’re go-
ing to storm the border,” Mr. Mujica said.
Mr. Mensing added: “We’re definitely
not looking for some kind of showdown.”
In an interview Monday, before negotiations between the Mexican immigration authorities and the caravan organizers began, Mr. Mujica predicted that at
most 10 percent to 15 percent of the participants would seek asylum at the
American border.
He said he expected many others to
drop out along the way, especially if the
caravan continued along its intended
“They know that it’s almost
impossible to get into the
United States. They know that
they’re deporting everyone.”
route through the state of Puebla and on
to Mexico City, with some participants
applying for asylum or other forms of
protection in Mexico.
In Puebla, Pueblo Sin Fronteras plans
to hold workshops, led by volunteer lawyers, to teach migrants about options for
legal protections in the region, including
in Mexico and the United States.
“We don’t promote going to the
United States,” Mr. Mensing said. “It’s a
challenging place to seek asylum.”
In recent years, Mexico has become
an increasingly attractive destination in
its own right for Central Americans and
others seeking sanctuary from eco-
nomic hardship and violence in their
home countries, even though advocates
say the nation’s asylum program remains deeply flawed.
“We are trying — as Mexicans, as
Americans — to find solutions,” said Mr.
Mujica, a Mexican-American who holds
dual citizenship.
In his Twitter posts on Sunday, Mr.
Trump also asserted that many migrants trying to cross the border into the
United States were seeking to “take advantage of” the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or
DACA, that has protected hundreds of
thousands of immigrants brought to the
country as children.
Mr. Trump announced last year that
he was ending the program but was
open to keeping it, then tweeted on Sunday that “DACA is dead.”
On Monday, advisers said that the
president was also alluding to a perception, supposedly held by many Central
American migrants, that as part of efforts to salvage DACA, Congress may
soon agree to legislation that would permit unauthorized immigrants to remain
in the United States.
But migrant-rights advocates, including coordinators of the latest caravan
traversing Mexico, said these assertions were a White House invention.
“It’s laughable!” Mr. Mujica said.
“Most of the people don’t even know
what DACA is. They know that it’s almost impossible to get into the United
States. They know that they’re deporting everyone.”
On Sunday, even Mexico’s secretary
of foreign affairs, Luis Videgaray,
weighed in, apparently in response Mr.
Trump’s tweets that accused Mexico of
lax immigration enforcement.
“Every day Mexico and the U.S. work
together on migration throughout the
region,” he said on Twitter. “Facts
clearly reflect this. An inaccurate news
report should not serve to question this
strong cooperation. Upholding human
dignity and rights is not at odds with the
rule of law. Happy Easter.”
Mr. Mensing said that the caravans
originated in local protests inspired by
the traditional Holy Week re-enactment
of the Stations of the Cross.
Directors of migrant shelters and
soup kitchens would conduct short
marches along popular migration
routes “as a way to highlight the kinds of
things that would happen to migrants
from Central Americans,” including kidnappings, sexual assaults and murders,
he said.
In recent years, these demonstrations
got increasingly ambitious. In 2014, a
caravan left the southeastern Mexican
town of Tenosique, in the state of Tabasco, with a plan to go to Palenque in the
state of Chiapas. But the movement
gathered momentum as it moved north
and kept on going, Mr. Mensing said.
It was the first caravan to reach the
United States border.
How its president keeps Turkey spellbound
king people on in a very public manner.”
Often that means upsetting people
whom his supporters do not like. He
jeered at pro-democracy demonstrators
in Istanbul for their liberal lifestyle, calling them “marauders” and mocking
their drinking habits: “They drink until
they puke.”
And he made a notoriously coarse remark about a socialist feminist demonstrator who climbed onto an armored
vehicle in Ankara, wondering if she
were a girl or a woman, essentially questioning her virginity.
But Mr. Erdogan also inspires with
poetry and tales of the life of the Prophet
Muhammad. He drops his voice with
reverence to honor fallen soldiers and
then raises it to stir national pride.
The religious sermonizing is very
much part of Mr. Erdogan’s training. He
studied at a religious school for prayer
leaders and preachers, learning among
his courses Islamic preaching.
Liberals and secularists have often
criticized his divisive speech and his introduction of religion into politics, yet it
is what most of his pious Muslim followers want to hear.
“For conservatives this is someone
defending their lifestyle,” Ms. Aydintasbas said.
A smooth practitioner with a
teleprompter, he has a well-honed rhetorical style. In almost every speech there
is a moment when he shakes up the audience, suddenly switching gears.
He turns from declarative speech to
address directly, in imperative or interrogative style, whoever is the target of
the day.
He has been particularly irritated by
the United States’ alliance in Syria with
the People’s Protection Units, or Y.P.G.,
a Kurdish group that Turkey says is
linked to terrorism.
“Hey America! How many times I
“Always creating tension, trying
to make an argument over
everything and in the tension
taking control.”
have told you?” he railed in a speech last
year. “Are you with us, or are you with
this terror group?”
Rather than bore his supporters with
his political plans, he brings them into
the meeting room with him. “Can you
tolerate what is happening in Ghouta?”
he shouted recently, about the Syrian
government’s offensive against rebels
in a suburb of Damascus. “The U.N.
made a resolution. Damn your resolution! What is the use of your resolution?
You are cheating! You are only five,” a
reference to the five Security Council
Ms. Aydintasbas compares Mr. Erdogan’s speaking style, as well as his relationship to his supporters, with those of
President Trump.
“Erdogan’s supporters always say he
is genuine,” she said. “In an age when
politics are so well scripted and sanitized in their messaging, it is refreshing
when you have anger or even hatred
which reflects their own feeling.”
Political opponents who have
watched Mr. Erdogan for years concede
his talents, even if they dislike his divisive style.
“His style is in extreme harmony with
the profile of right-wing, populist, authoritarian politicians,” said Ayhan Bilgen, spokesman for the opposition
Kurdish party, the People’s Democratic
Party. “He prefers a political style that
divides society and escalates tension.”
Mr. Erdogan’s family is originally
from Rize, on Turkey’s northeast Black
Sea coast, a region famous for its hardheaded characters.
He grew up in the rough working-
Government supporters at a rally before a constitutional referendum last year. In almost every speech there is a moment when Mr. Erdogan shakes up the audience.
class district of Kasimpasa in Istanbul,
playing soccer in the mud with neighborhood kids.
Mr. Bilgen said Mr. Erdogan had always displayed a combative personality
from his early days in politics.
“Always creating tension, trying to
make an argument over everything,” he
said, “and in the tension taking control.”
Once a week Mr. Erdogan addresses
legislators from his Justice and Development Party in the party’s parliamentary chamber.
The event less resembles a political
meeting than a soccer match — his supporters wave banners in the galleries
and chant competing slogans.
In one recent chamber gathering, the
loudest cheers Mr. Erdogan raised were
when he castigated the United Nations
for its unfairness and sent veiled warn-
ings to the United States about supporting Kurdish groups, in language crafted
to inspire Turks by harking back to a
heralded past.
“We are a country, a nation ready to
take any steps any moment,” he said. “If
there are those who prefer a couple of
terrorists, marauders against such a nation, such a state, we will no doubt slap
this answer in their faces, on their
hearts. They should know that.”
Mr. Erdogan combines a measure of
nationalism with religion, as he champions the Turkish forces that invaded the
Syrian enclave of Afrin in January.
He returns repeatedly to Islamic
themes, frequently citing Turkey’s most
beloved poets — he famously provoked
Turkey’s military by reciting a religious
poem when mayor of Istanbul in 1997
and ended up in jail.
“Undoubtedly, the incursion is by us,
and victory is from God,” he said recently of the military operation in Syria
that captured the city of Afrin.
He recited a poem to the unknown soldier:
The land he was buried in is known
The flag he is holding is known
Who said he is unknown?
Then he called the chamber to pray.
He followed with a poem by Mehmet
Akif Ersoy, author of Turkey’s national
The valiant altogether shall say Amen
God is great! Martyrs from the sky
Amen, Amen, God is great!
A journalist in the presidential press
corps tut-tutted at the religious phrases,
rarely heard in Turkey’s institutions in
nearly a century of the secular Turkish
Turkey is divided down the middle —
a referendum last year to grant the president extra powers was split 51 to 49 —
and for all those who are inspired by Mr.
Erdogan, just as many are tired of his
“He’s always shouting,” said one
shopkeeper in a warren of shops in Istanbul’s back streets. He asked not to be
quoted, since people have been arrested
for denigrating the president.
The opposition politician, Meral Aksener, who is preparing to challenge Mr.
Erdogan in the next presidential elections, mocked the president’s endless
speeches in a post this month on Twitter.
“I want to address Mr. Erdogan in
your presence,” she said, borrowing his
favorite rhetorical trick. “Friend, please
keep silent for a moment, spare a little
bit time for your family, sit at home,” she
“You don’t have to talk about every issue. You don’t have to point your finger
everywhere. Sit down at home a little
while, have a rest. Take a breath, so we
can take breath too, so Turkey can.”
Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt, who as dictator
of Guatemala in the 1980s ordered fierce
tactics to suppress a guerrilla insurgency and was later convicted of genocide
and crimes against humanity, died on
Sunday in Guatemala City. He was 91.
The cause was a heart attack, according to his lawyers, Jaime Hernández and
Luis Rosales. The general had dementia
and had suffered lung and heart problems in recent years.
In the panoply of commanders who
turned much of Central America into a
killing field in the 1980s, General Ríos
Montt was one of the most murderous.
He was convicted in 2013 of trying to exterminate the Ixil ethnic group, a Mayan
Indian community whose villages were
wiped out by his forces.
A Guatemalan judge found that the
general had known about the systematic massacres in the hillside hamlets of
the El Quiché department and had done
nothing to stop them or the aerial bombardment of refugees who had fled to
the mountains.
The conviction, seen as a landmark in
human rights law, was overturned
shortly afterward. At his death he was
being retried in absentia.
But the general was also a paradox.
He began his political career as a reformer and became an evangelical
preacher and a teetotaler. Though reviled by many, he was a hero to others
who believed his “beans and bullets”
policy had helped keep Guatemala from
falling under the power of Marxist-led
José Efraín Ríos Montt was born on
June 16, 1926, in the highland town of
Huehuetenango. He joined the army as
a young man and was trained at the
United States Army School of the Americas in the Panama Canal Zone.
In the late 1970s, after returning to
Guatemala, General Ríos Montt reinvented himself.
Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt in 2003. He began
his political career as a reformer.
With his slicked-back hair, bushy
mustache, charismatic speaking style
and reputation for personal rectitude,
General Ríos Montt built an enthusiastic
following. On March 23, 1982, he and a
handful of other officers staged a successful coup. He became head of a threeman junta. By that time, leftist guerrillas had seized power in Nicaragua and
were mounting strong campaigns in El
Salvador and Guatemala. Determined
to crush the Guatemalan insurgency,
General Ríos Montt intensified the
scorched-earth campaign that had been
waged by his predecessor, Gen. Romeo
Lucas García. In his first five months in
power, according to Amnesty International, soldiers killed more than 10,000
Thousands more disappeared. Hundreds of thousands fled their homes,
many seeking refuge across the border
in Mexico. Nearly all victims were indigenous people of Mayan extraction.
General Ríos Montt liked to say that a
true Christian carried the Bible in one
hand and a rifle in the other.
“If you are with us, we will feed you,”
he told Guatemalan peasants. “If not, we
will kill you.”
Rival officers deposed General Ríos
Montt in a coup on Aug. 8, 1983, after he
had effectively ruled as dictator for 17
months. He remained a public figure,
however, running for president in 1990
and 2003. Supporters portrayed him as
incorruptible, and said he had brought a
measure of peace to a country that was
careening toward anarchy.
General Ríos Montt is survived by his
wife, María Teresa; a son, Enrique, who
served as army chief of staff but resigned after being charged with embezzlement; and a daughter, Zury, a former
member of Congress who is married to a
Republican former member of the
United States Congress, Gerald C. Weller. Another son, Homero, a military doctor, was killed in 1982 when guerrillas
shot down a helicopter in which he was
“Consider the thousands of unarmed
men, women and children killed by the
army while he sermonized about morality, and he is a monster,” wrote David
Stoll, a professor of anthropology at
Middlebury College in Vermont. “Consider the hopes invested in him by many
povertystricken Catholic peasants, and he becomes a hero of mythic proportions.”
Elisabeth Malkin and Nic Wirtz contributed reporting.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2018 | 5
Saving a fussy predator in Europe
Iberian lynx, a rabbit lover,
makes a comeback after a
close brush with extinction
The Iberian lynx is a picky eater. Despite its agility and speed, it ordinarily
chases only rabbits.
This narrow choice of prey helps explain why this feline came close to extinction less than two decades ago, after
disease wiped out large numbers of rabbits on the Iberian Peninsula. But a vast
breeding and relocation program has
now turned the lynx into a flagship example of Europe’s efforts to maintain its
The program, mostly financed by the
European Union, was begun after the
Iberian lynx became the world’s most
endangered feline, based on a 2002 census that showed fewer than 100 individuals remained in the wild. Now, the lynx
population has rebounded to almost 550
animals, living in nine different parts of
southern Spain and Portugal, compared
with only two areas when the lynx came
close to extinction.
An Iberian lynx was first born in captivity in 2005, but the task of breeding
them remains complicated and costly,
like “having a nursery for rich kids, in
which you have one teacher for each
kid,” said Angelo Salsi, an Italian official
in Brussels who manages the European
Commission’s Life environmental program, which has financed the return of
the Iberian lynx.
In one of four breeding centers, veterinarians and other staff members follow
strict rules to keep a young lynx protected from germs and fearful of people.
It is released into the wild after a year in
captivity. When set free, the young felines are scattered across different areas, to avoid inbreeding.
Each release is attended by local town
officials, farmers and hordes of schoolchildren, who applaud wildly as the animal — whose name they have selected
in class — sprints out of its cage and vanishes into the bushes.
Such crowd celebrations can feel odd
in a remote natural setting, but environmentalists say they help local communities feel like stakeholders in a
project that requires not only a lot of
An Iberian lynx at a breeding center in Spain. A breeding and relocation program has been mostly financed by the European Union.
money, but also continued support from
the public. In the past seven years, the
program has cost at least 34 million euros, or about $42 million, about twothirds of which came from Brussels.
Pending the award of more Spanish
and European funding, Miguel Ángel
Simón, a Spanish biologist who is the director of the Iberian lynx program,
wants the final chapter of the lynx’s rehabilitation to focus on building infrastructure — mainly fencing and passageways — to help the animal travel
safely between the southern areas in
which it has been reintroduced. Last
year, drivers ran over 31 lynxes in southern Spain, a record.
“The road is dangerous for all fauna,
but lynxes are territorial animals, so as
their population increases and their
space gets taken up, they just have to
move on to find new territories,” said
Maribel García, a biologist.
The Iberian lynx is smaller than other
species of lynx living in northern Europe, but it has the same pointy, tufted
ears, large paws and glowing eyes. “We
like to say beauty isn’t everything, but it
does count and — let’s be frank — the
lynx sells extremely well,” Mr. Salsi said.
As a counterexample, he cited another European project to protect a
freshwater mussel from pollution. “People don’t really care about what’s at the
bottom of the river,” he said.
Because rabbits are often considered
pests, the lynx has also been welcomed
back by farmers, in contrast to the tensions incited by the return of wolves in
many parts of Europe, where they can
also threaten the livestock. Iberian
farmers have allowed environmentalists to build artificial rabbit burrows on
their land to help feed the lynxes.
In southern Spain, landowners and
tourism operators are also combining to
take visitors on day trips in search of
this elusive feline.
Agustín Navarro, a rancher, said he
has a couple of lynxes living near a pond
on his farmland, but “it’s been more
about feeling their presence than ever
seeing them properly,” he said.
Even if the Iberian lynx is no longer
facing extinction, its future continues to
depend upon that of the rabbit, whose
population first decreased significantly
because of myxomatosis, a highly infectious disease, which was introduced as a
control agent worldwide in the 1950s.
More recently, rabbits have been killed
by a viral hemorrhagic virus.
Without enough rabbits in a territory,
the famished lynx will be driven to cross
more dangerous roads in search of its
staple diet, while females will have
smaller litters. To address the prey
question, the Spanish program released
50,000 rabbits into lynx-populated areas
over the past five years.
“It’s paradoxical that each rabbit is
costing us €10, where there’s a plague of
them in some other places,” said
Montserrat Fernández San Miguel, an
official from the state agency that runs
Spain’s national parks. “It’s actually a
fight involving two very complicated
species, in which nature can raise new
Above, an Iberian lynx, named Oretana, before its release in the mountain range of
Sierra Morena in southern Spain. A crowd, top, gathered to watch.
and unexpected obstacles every day.”
Urs Breitenmoser, a cat specialist at
the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which keeps a list of endangered species, said the Iberian lynx
presented unique challenges because of
its narrow geographic footprint, as compared with other endangered felines like
the tiger. While its constrained range
makes it easier to monitor the lynx population, it also makes it harder to safeguard the feline if something like a new
virus suddenly infected rabbits in this
southwestern corner of Europe.
“This lynx clearly evolved to be a rabbit hunter on the Iberian Peninsula —
and the price for being such a precious
and specialized hunter is a higher vulnerability,” Mr. Breitenmoser said.
Still, Javier Madrid, an environmental
official within Andalusia’s regional government, got visibly irritated when
asked about the cost of saving the lynx.
When the lynx population was shriveling, he said, “Andalusia was getting a
lot of criticism for allowing the loss of
this great species.”
“The problem is that everybody
wants to put a number on everything,
but not everything has economic value,”
he argued. “Has friendship got a cost? If
the lynx disappears, we will of course
continue to live on this planet, but I don’t
think with the same quality of life.”
Stifling ‘fake news,’ or dissent?
Some in Malaysia say plan
to punish misinformation
is meant to silence critics
In highway billboards and radio announcements, the government of Malaysia is warning of a new enemy: “fake
This week, the lower house of Parliament passed a bill outlawing fake news,
the first measure of its kind in the world.
The proposal, which allows for up to six
years in prison for publishing or circulating misleading information, is expected to pass the Senate this week and
to come into effect soon afterward.
The legislation would punish not only
those who are behind fake news but also
anyone who maliciously spreads such
material. Online service providers
would be responsible for third-party
content, and anyone could lodge a complaint. As long as Malaysia or Malaysians are affected, fake news generated outside the country is also subject
to prosecution.
What qualifies as fake news is ill defined. Ultimately, the government would
be given broad latitude to decide what
constitutes fact in Malaysia.
“Fake news has become a global phenomenon, but Malaysia is at the tip of
the spear in trying to fight it with an
anti-fake news law,” said Fadhlullah
Suhaimi Abdul Malek, a senior official
with the Malaysian Communications
and Multimedia Commission. “When
the American president made ‘fake
news’ into a buzzword, the world woke
In India, the government on Tuesday
withdrew a statement announcing that
journalists found to have written or
broadcast “fake news” would lose their
official accreditation, in some cases permanently.
The retraction came after strong criticism from journalists and opposition
leaders, and less than a day after the
rules were announced on Monday
evening. Rajat Sharma, the president of
the News Broadcasters Association, one
of the bodies that would have handled
complaints against television journalists, confirmed the retraction and said
the decision came from Prime Minister
Narendra Modi’s office. The government provided no official explanation
for the reversal.
Many journalists saw the proposed
rules as an attack on the press, noting
that those critical of leaders from Mr.
Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party had
come under pressure since the party
came to power in 2014. Some noted that
the amendment had been released
months before campaigning was set to
begin for national elections in 2019.
Members of Malaysia’s political opposition say the Malaysian legislation, passed Monday, is intended to stifle free
speech before elections that are widely
seen as a referendum on Prime Minister
Najib Razak, who has been tainted by a
scandal involving billions of dollars that
were diverted from a Malaysian state investment fund.
“Instead of a proper investigation into
what happened, we have a ministry of
truth being created,” said Nurul Izzah
Anwar, a lawmaker from the People’s
Justice Party and the daughter of the
jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.
An inquiry by the United States Department of Justice found that associates of Mr. Najib had mishandled at least
$3.5 billion connected to the fund, 1 Malaysia Development Berhad, known as
1MDB. American officials have been
working to seize about $1.7 billion in assets and have expanded their inquiry to
An ad at a train station in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, warning of “fake news.” A new bill
gives the Malaysian government broad latitude to decide what constitutes fact.
include a criminal investigation.
The Department of Justice traced
$731 million deposited into bank accounts controlled by Mr. Najib to 1MDB.
Mr. Najib, who is referred to in American documents simply as Malaysia Official 1, has said most of the money was a
gift from a Saudi patron.
A broad alliance of Malaysian opposition parties has tried to foster public outrage over the 1MDB scandal to sink Mr.
Najib’s efforts to secure a third term.
Elections must be held by August and
are widely expected to take place before
the end of May.
The fake-news legislation targets
“any news, information, data and reports which are wholly or partly false,
whether in the form of features, visuals
or audio recordings or in any other form
capable of suggesting words or ideas.”
The Malaysian authorities say the bill
intends to protect individuals and businesses from online attacks. “The public
wants a law to protect Malaysians from
fake news,” said Salleh Said Keruak, the
Malaysian minister of communications
and multimedia. “If you are a victim of
something that’s viral but fake, your life
is ruined.”
Mr. Salleh said that Malaysia’s various legal mechanisms — including a
strict penal code, the Printing Presses
and Publications Act, the Sedition act,
and the Communications and Multimedia Act — do not provide ample defense against misinformation.
But that view is not held by some in
the legal community.
“You would think that we have more
than adequate protection against any
mischief that might be considered fake
news,” said Lim Chee Wee, the former
secretary of the Malaysian Bar. “We
have a rather comprehensive set of
Since irregularities in the investment
fund came to light three years ago, politicians, writers and even a political cartoonist have been charged with offenses
such as sedition and defamation. The attorney general, who was looking into the
fund’s finances, was fired. Some publications that covered the 1MDB scandal
have been censored or shuttered.
Late last month, Jailani Johari, Malaysia’s deputy minister for communications and multimedia, gave his definition of what would fall under the new
bill: Any information about 1MDB that
has not been verified by the government, he said, “is deemed as fake news.”
Mr. Salleh, the communications and
multimedia minister, walked back his
deputy’s statement on 1MDB, saying
that simply mentioning the existence of
the Department of Justice investigation,
for instance, would not constitute a
breach of the law. However, tying Mr.
Najib to specific dollar amounts connected to 1MDB, he said, could be a prosecutable offense.
Sharon Tan contributed reporting.
Joséphine Collec tion
6 | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2018
Why a reactor could upset North Korea talks
If President Trump actually meets Kim Jong-un — an encounter that many American officials still doubt will happen —
his challenge will be much larger than merely persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. Mr. Trump must
also get Pyongyang to give up the factories, reactors and nuclear-enrichment facilities that produce the nuclear fuel to
build more weapons — even as new satellite evidence suggests that North Korea is expanding its production.
A satellite image, right, shows a new
North Korean reactor that appears to be
coming online now, after years of construction, according to analysts. It sits
in the Yongbyon nuclear complex,
where the North began its nuclear program in the 1960s. Today, the site has
hundreds of buildings that lie along a
loop of the Kuryong River and cover an
area of more than three square miles.
North Korea insists the reactor is intended to produce electricity for civilian
use. But the new reactor can also make
plutonium, one of the main fuels used in
nuclear arms. It can thus supplement
the output of the aging, existing facilities at Yongbyon.
Making bomb fuel in reactors is seen
as easier to do than perfecting missiles
that can hurl nuclear arms around the
globe. While experts clash over how
soon the North will develop warheads
that can survive the blistering heat of reentry, they agree that the North has already mastered the art of using reactors
to make plutonium.
The new reactor could be a central issue
in the Trump-Kim talks, if the goal, as
the United States insists, is complete denuclearization. Even if Mr. Kim agrees
to a freeze on nuclear and missile testing, he would still be able to accumulate
more bomb fuel for a larger arsenal
while the negotiations dragged on.
This was a critical issue in the Iran negotiations, in which President Barack
Obama negotiated a freeze on new production of significant quantities of new
nuclear fuel, though it expires in 13
years. It is unclear whether Mr. Trump
could extract a similar halt in production from North Korea.
But if the talks fail or simply drag on,
the reactor could also be part of the justification for military action — at least if
the past arguments of Mr. Trump’s
newly appointed national security adviser, John R. Bolton, prevail. In March
2015, just before the Iran deal was
struck, Mr. Bolton argued in a New York
Times op-ed that neither negotiations
nor sanctions would stop Iran from bolstering its nuclear and weapons programs. He has since made similar arguments about North Korea.
“The inconvenient truth is that only
military action like Israel’s 1981 attack
on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in
Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian
reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required,”
Mr. Bolton wrote. “Time is terribly
short, but a strike can still succeed.”
Before and after the announcement of
Mr. Bolton’s appointment last month,
the National Security Council did not respond to several requests for comment
on the evidence that North Korea’s new
reactor was starting up.
Mr. Bolton assumes his new role on
100 Miles
Sea of
The Feb. 25 image of the North Korean
reactor, above, shows what look like
emissions from a smokestack. That suggests that preliminary testing may have
begun at the new reactor, according to a
report by Jane’s Intelligence Review
and the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.
The plant is called the experimental
light water reactor.
It has the potential to make 25 to 30
megawatts of electricity, enough to
power a small town.
The plant could also potentially
produce about 20 kilograms of weaponsgrade plutonium each year, according to
the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington that tracks nuclear weapons.
North Korea first began operating a nuclear reactor in the 1980s at Yongbyon,
according to declassified C.I.A. documents and a report by Siegfried S.
Hecker, a former director of the Los
Alamos laboratory in New Mexico who
has visited the Yongbyon complex mul-
This would be more than four times the
amount made annually by the North’s
only other large reactor, which has long
supplied the country with plutonium for
its nuclear arsenal.
Imagery analysts at Stanford found
that activity around the new reactor in-
tiple times. The image above highlights
not only the two reactors but the plutonium reprocessing plant, where the
North mines spent reactor fuel for the
precious radioactive metal that can
power nuclear arms.
In 1986, North Korea began operating
the five-megawatt reactor, which some
analysts say has produced the nation’s
entire supply of plutonium.
creased significantly in 2017, above, suggesting that the North was rushing toward full operation.
Throughout 2017, analysts observed
what appeared to be major work to complete a river cooling system for the new
A 60-foot cooling tower, which carries
waste heat away from the old reactor by
emitting steam, was one of the most visible parts of the nuclear fuel operations
at Yongbyon.
After six-nation nuclear talks in 2007,
North Korea agreed to shut down all facilities at the sprawling Yongbyon complex.
In 2008, the 60-foot cooling tower, one
Analysts also found some evidence
that could support North Korea’s assertion that the new reactor would be
used for power generation. Satellite images appeared to show that power lines
and a transmission tower had been
erected around the site.
of the most visible reactor structures,
was demolished. Video of the event was
broadcast around the world.
“As a gesture of good faith,” said Ms.
Puccioni, “they destroyed the cooling
tower, ostensibly to show the world that
they are no longer going to use the fivemegawatt reactor.”
In truth, the destruction of the cooling
tower was mostly a symbolic step that
“There are a number of objects that
have been put in place that lead me and
a number of experts to the conclusion
that this might be used for production of
electricity,” said Allison Puccioni of the
Stanford team.
She cautioned against the assumption
that North Korea sees the reactor as a
way to make more fuel for nuclear weapons.
But the potential is there, and the
North banned international inspectors
who carefully monitor what happens to
the plutonium in used reactor fuel.
did little to undo the vast enterprise at
In 2010, satellite imagery showed
signs that the North was beginning construction of a new reactor.
By 2013, the exterior of the new reactor appeared to be completed, and activity around it was relatively stagnant after that, according to the Stanford
Dr. Hecker, with two other nuclear engineering experts, wrote in the Korea
Observer in 2016 that North Korea was
still developing the technology needed
to start the reactor.
Over roughly the same period, the
country began taking steps to get its old
reactor running again, despite earlier
promises to abandon the plant.
In 2013, satellite images revealed a
new trench connecting the reactor to the
Kuryong River.
It would become part of a new cooling
system to replace the destroyed cooling
After that, analysts observed periodic
discharges of hot water from the reactor
into the river.
In a satellite image from Jan. 17, 2018,
steam is visible from the existing fivemegawatt reactor’s turbine building.
The same image seems to show that
hot water is melting snow at a discharge
The evidence suggests that the reactor could again be in active use.
“The five-megawatt reactor has been
in continuous operation more or less for
the entirety of 2017,” said Ms. Puccioni,
who has been studying satellite imagery
of Yongbyon for almost a decade.
The development and operation of the
two reactors at the Yongbyon site
threaten to complicate any talks on a
freeze of the North’s activities and on
the ultimate goal of denuclearization.
Yet the issue is not insurmountable.
The usual approach is to rely on inspectors who ensure that no spent reactor
fuel gets mined for plutonium. The International Atomic Energy Agency did
so at Yongbyon before its inspectors
were expelled, and it could surely do so
Trump administration officials say
the denuclearization inspections, however, would have to cover the entire
It is suspected that there are undeclared uranium enrichment facilities
outside of Yongbyon.
Private analysts say they plan to keep
monitoring Yongbyon for clues about
when the new reactor becomes fully operational and if it is, in fact, producing
new fuel for the North’s growing arsenal
of nuclear weapons.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2018 | 7
Thai police keep silent
as F.B.I. seeks answers
From jail, sex coaches
say they have details on
meddling in U.S. election
Democrats and some Republicans have spoken of tectonic consequences, should the president try to halt the counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Major obstacles to impeachment
Even if the president
ousts special counsel,
a response is unclear
Even for Senator Jeff Flake, an Arizona
Republican who has emerged as one of
his party’s most fervent critics of President Trump, the warning he issued recently that firing the special counsel
could lead to the president’s impeachment was extraordinary.
“From what I can see, that’s the only
remedy,” Mr. Flake said.
But it is anything but clear that the
long-speculated dismissal of the special
counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, Robert S.
Mueller III, would have the tectonic consequences that Mr. Flake and other Republicans and Democrats have spoken
of — or any consequences. In truth, the
fallout in Congress, where lawmakers
alone may decide what happens, would
probably be far messier than the swift
justice that Mr. Trump’s critics imagine.
For months, Democratic leaders and
their aides have gamed out crisis situations during planning meetings, talking
through the implications for the potential firings of not just Mr. Mueller but
also the attorney general, Jeff Sessions,
and his deputy, Rod J. Rosenstein. But as
the minority, they have little recourse
without Republican support. Whether
they would get it could depend in large
part on what Mr. Trump and Mr. Mueller
ultimately have to say.
And any real repercussions for Mr.
Trump may have to wait for the midterm
elections, when voters decide whether
to hand one chamber of Congress — or
both — to the president’s opposition.
“I hope that my colleagues would
stand up and say, ‘This is the Saturday
Night Massacre all over again; we can’t
go there,’” Mr. Flake said in an interview, referring to the night Richard M.
Nixon fired top Justice Department officials and the special prosecutor investi-
gating him. “But I am more and more
concerned all the time.”
For now, the chances of the president’s impeachment remain remote,
even though Democrats may be outspoken on the subject.
Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Representative Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia,
the Judiciary Committee’s chairman,
have given no indication of how they
would proceed, and aides say privately
that Republican leaders view the possibility of Mr. Mueller’s firing as too improbable to warrant discussions.
Short of that, there are other options.
Congress could pass a law reinstating an
independent investigator in the executive or legislative branch, though Mr.
Trump would have to sign it. Lawmakers could demand that Mr. Mueller’s evidence be turned over to Congress. They
could press to censure the president. Or
they could make his fate a political issue
and let the voters decide in November.
Republicans and Democrats do agree
on one thing: Should the special counsel
be ousted, the business of Congress —
hearings, nominations and legislation —
would screech to a stop, replaced by a
painful, consequential debate over the
most serious constitutional challenge in
a generation.
“The rule of law is very dear to many
of us,” said Senator Lindsey Graham,
Republican of South Carolina. “I don’t
think you have to be too creative to understand how damaging that would be.”
Mr. Trump has made no secret of his
contempt for Mr. Mueller’s investigation
into potential ties between his campaign
and Russian interference in the 2016
presidential election, and into possible
obstruction of justice by the president
himself. He ordered the firing of Mr.
Mueller over the summer before backing down. But more recently the president has shifted to a more aggressive,
direct attack on the special counsel and
the legitimacy of his inquiry.
Under current law, Mr. Trump cannot
directly fire the special counsel. Even if
he ordered the Justice Department official overseeing the case — right now, the
deputy attorney general — to dismiss
Mr. Mueller, he would have to cite good
cause. But Mr. Trump has proved willing
to fire or push out other top F.B.I. officials tied to the investigation, as well as
his secretary of state and his national security adviser, and could choose to remove those who objected to the order.
An unleashed president has members
of both parties nervous.
If Mr. Mueller were fired and the investigation disbanded, of primary importance would be preserving the evidence gathered by the special counsel’s
investigation, aides in both parties say.
But Mr. Mueller would have to be willing
to share his knowledge. If he were to disclose details of his investigation to Congress, many of which are not protected
by grand jury secrecy, it would be very
difficult, if not impossible, for Mr. Trump
to stop him, legal experts said.
“If Mueller or members of his team
are subpoenaed by Congress, and
they’re willing to tell their story, then I
think there’s a strong likelihood that the
Democrats are likely to take
a hard line against President
Trump if they capture the
majority in Congress this fall.
story gets told,” said Ross H. Garber, an
expert in impeachment law who has
represented several politicians in highprofile investigations.
The spectacle of a fired special counsel — and former F.B.I. director — publicly divulging the results of his investigation would raise parallels to the Watergate hearings and raise pressure on
Republicans to break rank. On top of
that, a potential subpoena fight over Mr.
Mueller’s records would add a nasty
sideshow that would sap Mr. Trump’s
political agenda.
Democrats say they also fear a less
dramatic outcome: In lieu of demanding
the firing of Mr. Mueller, the president
could replace Mr. Sessions and Mr.
Rosenstein as part of what has become
regular turnover in a tumultuous administration. A new attorney general
could then declare that further investigation was unnecessary and dismiss Mr.
Mueller on his or her own.
Without support for impeachment,
Democrats say the most realistic path
toward Republican cooperation would
be an effort to get Mr. Mueller, or another investigator, reinstated.
None of the options are a sure thing.
“It would be a mess,” said Senator
Chris Coons, a moderate Democrat from
Delaware who has all but pleaded with
colleagues to support a measure he has
drafted with Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, giving Mr.
Mueller the right to appeal his dismissal. “My concern is that they would want
to do the least effective thing, which is
send the president a resolution of reprimand or censure, urge him to reconsider
and then just sort of go sideways for a
week or two,” Mr. Coons added.
Even if Congress passed legislation
reinstating a special counsel in some
fashion, it is unclear whether such a law
would have teeth, and many legal experts said the legislation could almost
certainly prompt a legal challenge from
the White House.
“The more likely outcome is that the
executive branch would ignore Congress,” said Mr. Garber, the lawyer.
“If he has no resources, and no ability
to get resources, then it doesn’t seem
like he can do very much,” Mr. Garber
The voters, however, would eventually have a say. Democrats have signaled that they would take a much more
aggressive posture if they take the majority. Liberals say they already feel that
their political base favors removing the
Representative Jerrold Nadler of
New York, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, who stands to inherit
the chairmanship under Democratic
control, has resisted telegraphing what
steps he would take if his party were to
retake the House. But he has made clear
he would not stand by idly.
“Should a red line be crossed, and firing the special counsel or throttling his
investigation are red lines, then there
would be a total sea change in the political landscape of the country,” he said at
a recent news conference. “And at that
point, all options would be on the table.”
Matt Apuzzo contributed reporting.
Russia presses Trump for meeting with Putin
Russia has sought to move beyond last
month’s diplomatic confrontation with
the West by pressing President Trump
for a White House meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin that would undercut the perception that the angry reaction to the poisoning of a former Russian
spy in Britain has left it isolated from the
international community.
The Kremlin foreign policy adviser,
Yuri Ushakov, said in Moscow that Mr.
Trump, in a telephone call with Mr. Putin
on March 20, proposed that the two leaders meet at the White House in the near
future. Mr. Ushakov made it clear that
the Russian leader would like to take
him up on the suggestion. “This is a
rather positive idea,” he said.
Mr. Trump mentioned to reporters on
the day of the phone call that he expected to “be seeing President Putin in
the not-too-distant future,” and the
White House confirmed on Monday that
it was among “a number of potential
venues” discussed. But the phone call
came before last week’s tit-for-tat mass
diplomatic expulsions incited by the
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has
not been to the White House since 2005.
nerve agent attack on Sergei V. Skripal,
a former Russian spy living in Britain.
It is not clear whether such a meeting
is still viable, and both sides issued
vague or even conflicting statements on
Monday. Within hours of Mr. Ushakov’s
comment, the Kremlin spokesman,
Dmitri S. Peskov, discounted it, saying
the president’s adviser was not correct.
In her own statement, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press
secretary, confirmed that a White House
meeting had been discussed but played
down the prospect, saying, “We have
nothing further to add at this time.”
The idea of a get-together between
the two presidents after each of them expelled 60 diplomats and closed consulates underscored the volatile nature of
the Russian-American relationship
these days. Mr. Trump has remained on
friendly terms with Mr. Putin personally, even as ties between their countries
spiral toward Cold War depths.
But a meeting between the two leaders at this point would seem to conflict
with the attitude of Mr. Trump’s incoming foreign policy team, including Mike
Pompeo, his nominee for secretary of
state, and John R. Bolton, his new national security adviser, both of whom are
considered Russia hawks.
“I think the Russians are looking for
an off-ramp at the moment,” said Angela
Stent, a former national intelligence officer on Russia during President George
W. Bush’s administration and now director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian
and East European Studies at Georgetown University. “Perhaps they have followed” news accounts “about divisions
over Russia policy and they want to set a
possible meeting in motion before
Bolton and Pompeo assume their new
A White House visit would be a significant gesture toward the Russian leader.
Mr. Putin has not been to the White
House since 2005, when Mr. Bush
hosted him there. Other than United Nations sessions, Mr. Putin’s last visit to
the United States for a presidential summit meeting came in 2007 when Mr.
Bush and his father hosted him at the
family compound in Kennebunkport,
In a debate on Russian state-controlled television on Sunday evening, a
weekly shout-fest often dedicated to
screaming about American perfidy,
Sergey Mikheev, one of the participants,
put forward what seems to be the consensus view of Russia’s establishment:
Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin are both eager
to meet as soon as possible so they can
stabilize relations but are prevented
from doing so by opposition in the
United States.
“It’s not because Putin isn’t ready, and
not because Trump doesn’t want to meet
Putin,” he said. “No such thing at all.
Trump said that he is, in fact, even ready
to meet Kim Jong-un. It is internal problems that prevent Trump from meeting
anyone.” America’s “internal political
crisis,” he added, “prevents Trump from
solving this problem.”
Andrew Higgins reported from Moscow,
and Peter Baker from Washington. Oleg
Matsnev contributed reporting from
Two self-described sex instructors from
Belarus have been stuck in a Thai detention center for weeks. They say that
they have evidence demonstrating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign in the United States and
that they have offered it to the Federal
Bureau of Investigation in exchange for
a guarantee of their safety.
Their claim — that they are targets of
a covert Russian operation to silence
them because they know too much —
might seem outlandish, but their case
certainly includes some unusual circumstances.
They have influential enemies in Russia. They were arrested with the help of
a “foreign spy,” according to the Thai police, and locked up on what is a fairly minor offense: working without a permit.
And the F.B.I. says it tried to talk to
them, suggesting that American investigators have not dismissed their account
out of hand.
“They know we have more information,” one of the two, Alexander Kirillov,
38, told The New York Times last month
in an unauthorized phone call from the
detention center, in Bangkok. Mr. Kirillov said his co-defendant, Anastasia
Vashukevich, 27, had angered some
powerful people. “They know she knows
a lot,” he said. “And that’s why they
made this case against us.”
Ms. Vashukevich certainly knows
how to get attention. In February, a top
critic of Russia’s president, Vladimir V.
Putin, released a video that included
footage she had recorded during a brief
affair she had with a Russian aluminum
tycoon while working as an escort
aboard his yacht in 2016. The evidence
included photos she posted of the tycoon
Held incommunicado since
March 5, the two sex instructors
have said they would give up
secrets in exchange for safety.
and his guest, Sergei E. Prikhodko, a
deputy prime minister, and a recording
of them talking about relations between
the United States and Russia.
The aluminum tycoon, Oleg V. Deripaska, has close ties with Mr. Putin and
with Paul Manafort, President Trump’s
former campaign chairman, who has
been indicted on money laundering
charges by Robert S. Mueller III, the
special counsel looking into election interference.
The escort and her seduction coach
have been held largely incommunicado
since March 5, when reporters for The
Times and other news media outlets
were kicked out of the detention center
for speaking to them. They now face deportation and fear what might happen to
them if they are sent home to Russia,
where they live, or Belarus, the former
Soviet republic where they grew up,
which remains firmly within Russia’s influence. (Mr. Kirillov was traveling on a
Russian passport.)
Neither of them is accustomed to silence. They and their circle of friends
say they make a habit of recording everything they do as they go about their
campaign of teaching seduction techniques and trying their skills on strangers, sometimes in public.
The two were arrested along with
eight others on Feb. 25 when dozens of
plainclothes police officers raided a
workshop they were conducting for
Russian tourists at a hotel in Pattaya,
about 70 miles south of Bangkok.
The seminar was aimed mainly at
male Russian tourists and offered instruction in how to seduce women. It
was not illegal.
The police arrest report says that a
“foreign spy” had infiltrated the Russian-language seminar and provided
the Royal Thai Police with information
about the training.
Cellphone messages show that the
agent signaled the waiting officers when
it was time to raid the Ibis Pattaya Hotel
conference room.
The work permit charge is relatively
minor, and Mr. Kirillov had been conducting training sessions in Pattaya for
years. But high-level officials appeared
to take an unusual interest in this case:
Six police generals and two colonels had
responsibility for the raid, according to
the arrest report.
Since the arrests, the government has
tried to keep a tight lid on information.
Friends said they had not been allowed
to visit Ms. Vashukevich and Mr. Kirillov
for weeks.
A law enforcement official said the
F.B.I. tried to speak with the two but was
not successful.
A Thai police spokesman, Lt. Col.
Krissana Pattanacharoen, would not
comment on whether Russia was behind the arrests, but he said it was not
unusual for the police to use foreign operatives.
“Investigations are not one size fits
all,” he said. “It depends entirely on the
Few other police officials have been
willing to talk about the case. The American Embassy in Bangkok declined to
comment. The Russian Embassy asked
that questions be submitted in writing
but did not answer them.
After the pair’s arrest, Mr. Kirillov
sent a handwritten letter to the American Embassy in Bangkok asking for asylum for all 10 detainees. (At the time,
Heather Nauert, a State Department
spokeswoman, dismissed the case as “a
pretty bizarre story” and indicated that
the embassy had no plans to talk with
Financial records show that companies controlled by Mr. Manafort owed
millions of dollars to Mr. Deripaska, the
aluminum tycoon. During the 2016 race,
Mr. Manafort offered to give him private
briefings about the campaign, though
there is no indication that the tycoon
took him up on the offer.
Ms. Vashukevich, who goes by the
name Nastya Rybka online and recounts her story in a book, “Who Wants
to Seduce a Billionaire,” became an escort under the guidance of Mr. Kirillov,
better known as Alex Lesley, who has
gained popularity in Russia for his advocacy of sexual freedom.
At the time of the yacht visit, Ms.
Vashukevich had shaved six years off
her age to pose as 19. She was sent by a
Moscow modeling agency to a yacht off
Norway along with six other escorts, according to her account.
She said she followed Mr. Kirillov’s instruction to record all her interactions
with her target, the yacht’s owner, who
turned out to be Mr. Deripaska.
Ms. Vashukevich told The Times in a
brief interview last month at the detention center that she had more than 16
hours of recordings from the yacht, including conversations with three visitors who she believes were Americans.
She has called herself the “missing
link” in the Russia investigation.
Her posts from 2016 came to prominence only after Aleksei A. Navalny, a
Russian opposition leader, included
them in a video in early February that
made accusations about official corruption. Mr. Navalny also charged that Mr.
Deripaska had delivered Mr. Manafort’s
campaign reports to the Kremlin.
“Deripaska simply transmits this information to Putin,” Mr. Navalny said.
“He’s very close to Putin after all.”
Before traveling to Thailand, Mr. Kirillov grew worried about repercussions
from the exposé and asked a childhood
friend, Eliot Cooper, to contact the
United States authorities on his behalf,
Mr. Cooper said.
Mr. Cooper, who lives in Canada, said
in a telephone interview that he called
an F.B.I. hotline in February and proposed trading the recordings for the
pair’s safety.
He said he had told the hotline agent
about one recorded conversation in
which Mr. Deripaska and Mr. Prikhodko
discussed wanting Mr. Trump to win.
“I explained all of that to the F.B.I.,” he
said. “They should have a transcript of
everything and a recording of my voice.”
Mr. Cooper said he had never heard
back from the agency. The F.B.I. declined to comment.
Mr. Cooper said that Mr. Kirillov had
hidden copies and instructed associates
to release them if he or Ms. Vashukevich
were killed or went missing.
“There is no investigation,” Mr. Cooper said. “The Americans are not interested. They want them to disappear, and
Nastya in particular, because she is a living witness.”
Ryn Jirenuwat contributed reporting
from Pattaya and Bangkok, and Adam
Goldman from Washington.
Alexander Kirillov and Anastasia Vashukevich were arrested in Pattaya, Thailand, while
conducting a workshop for Russian tourists on how to seduce women.
8 | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2018
Cracking a 4,000-year-old case
did the mummy have these facial mutilations?
Along with Dr. Paul Chapman, a neurosurgeon at the hospital, Dr. Gupta hypothesized that they might be part of an
ancient Egyptian mummification practice known as the Opening of the Mouth
Ceremony. The ritual was performed so
the deceased could eat, drink and
breathe in the afterlife.
“It’s a very specific cut they made,”
said Dr. Gupta, referring to the surgical
removal of part of the mandible.
“There’s a precision to it, which is what
we were surprised by. Someone was actually doing coronoidectomy 4,000
years ago.”
Some doctors and Egyptologists
doubted that ancient Egyptians could
perform that complex operation with
primitive tools.
To show it was possible, Dr. Gupta, Dr.
Chapman and an oral and maxillofacial
surgeon performed the bone removal on
two cadavers using a chisel and mallet.
They drove the chisel between the lips
and gums behind the wisdom teeth, and
were able to remove the same bones
missing in the mummified skull.
Still, the question of the mummy’s
identity lingered.
F.B.I. forensic experts
help determine the sex
of an Egyptian mummy
In 1915, a team of American archaeologists excavating the ancient Egyptian
necropolis of Deir el-Bersha blasted into
a hidden tomb. Inside the cramped limestone chamber, they were greeted by a
gruesome sight: a mummy’s severed
head perched on a cedar coffin.
The room, which the researchers labeled Tomb 10A, was the final resting
place for a governor named Djehutynakht (pronounced “juh-HOO-tuhknocked”) and his wife. At some point
during the couple’s 4,000-year-long
slumber, grave robbers had ransacked
their burial chamber and plundered its
gold and jewels. The looters tossed a
headless, limbless mummified torso into
a corner before attempting to set the
room on fire to cover their tracks.
The archaeologists went on to recover
painted coffins and wooden figurines
that had survived the raid and sent them
to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in
1921. Most of the collection stayed in
storage until 2009 when the museum exhibited them. Though the torso remained in Egypt, the decapitated head
became the star of the showcase. With
its painted-on eyebrows, somber expression and wavy brown hair peeking
through its tattered bandages, the mummy’s noggin brought viewers face-toface with a mystery.
“The head had been found on the governor’s coffin, but we were never sure if
it was his head or her head,” said Rita
Freed, a curator at the museum.
The museum staff concluded only a
DNA test would determine whether
they had put Mr. or Mrs. Djehutynakht
on display.
“The problem was that at the time, in
2009, there had been no successful extraction of DNA from a mummy that was
4,000 years old,” said Dr. Freed.
Egyptian mummies pose a unique
challenge because the desert’s scorching climate rapidly degrades DNA. Earlier attempts at obtaining their ancient
DNA had either failed or produced results contaminated by modern DNA. To
crack the case, the museum turned to
the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The F.B.I. had never before worked on
a specimen so old. If its scientists could
extract genetic material from the 4,000year-old mummy, they would add a powerful DNA collecting technique to their
forensics arsenal and unlock a new way
of deciphering Egypt’s ancient past.
“I honestly didn’t expect it to work because at the time there was this belief
that it was not possible to get DNA from
ancient Egyptian remains,” said Odile
Loreille, a forensic scientist at the F.B.I.
But in the journal Genes in March, Dr.
Loreille and her colleagues reported
that they had retrieved ancient DNA
from the head. And after more than a
century of uncertainty, the mystery of
the mummy’s identity had been laid to
Governor Djehutynakht and his wife,
Lady Djehutynakht, are believed to
have lived around 2000 B.C. during
Egypt’s Middle Kingdom. They ruled a
province of Upper Egypt. Though the
walls in their tomb were bare, the coffins
were embellished with beautiful hieroglyphics of the afterlife.
“His coffin is a classic masterpiece of
Middle Kingdom art,” said Marleen De
Meyer, assistant director for archaeology and Egyptology at the Netherlands-
The doctors and museum staff determined their best chance of retrieving
DNA would be by extracting the mummy’s molar. “The core of the tooth was
where the money was,” Dr. Chapman
said. Teeth often act as tiny genetic time
capsules. Researchers have used them
to tell the tales of our prehistoric human
cousins called Denisovans, as well as to
provide insight into the medical history
of long dead people.
“The advantage we had is that we had
a hole in the neck because the head had
been torn off,” said Dr. Chapman.
They snaked a long scope with a camera into the back of the mouth. The first
tooth they targeted would not budge, so
Dr. Fabio Nunes, who was then a molecular biologist at Massachusetts General,
switched to a different molar. Sweating,
he clamped down with dental forceps,
gave it a few wiggles, then a few twists
and — pop — it was free.
For more than a century it was unclear whether a severed mummy’s head belonged to an ancient Egyptian governor or his wife.
Flemish Institute in Cairo, who re-entered the tomb in 2009. “It has elements
of a rare kind of realism.”
The team that discovered Djehutynakht’s desecrated chamber more than
a century ago was led by two archaeologists, George Reisner and Hanford Lyman Story. As they explored the cliffs of
Deir el-Bersha, which is about 180 miles
south of Cairo on the east bank of the
Nile, they uncovered a 30-foot burial
shaft beneath boulders. With the help of
dynamite, they entered the tomb.
In their original reports, the archaeologists said the dismembered body parts
belonged to a woman, presumably Lady
Djehutynakht. Dr. De Meyer suspected
the head belonged to the governor and
not his wife.
The coffins of the Egyptian governor Djehutynakht on the banks of the Nile.
As Dr. Freed, the museum curator, prepared the items from Tomb 10A for exhibition in 2005, she reached out to
Massachusetts General Hospital. Its CT
scan revealed the head was missing
cheek bones and part of its jaw hinge —
features that might have potentially
provided insight into the mummy’s sex.
“From the outside you could not tell
that the mummy had been so internally
tinkered with,” said Dr. Rajiv Gupta, a
neuroradiologist at Massachusetts Gen-
eral. “All the muscles that are involved
in chewing and closing the mouth, the
attachment sites of those muscles had
been taken out.”
They now had another mystery: Why
For several years, other teams of scientists tried fruitlessly to get DNA from
the molar. Then the crown of the tooth
went to Dr. Loreille at the F.B.I.’s lab in
Quantico, Va., in 2016.
Dr. Loreille had joined the F.B.I. after
20 years of studying ancient DNA. Previously, she had extracted genetic material from a 130,000-year-old cave bear
and worked on cases to identify unknown Korean War victims, a 2-year-old
child who had drowned on the Titanic
and two of the Romanov children who
were murdered during the Russian Revolution.
In the F.B.I.’s clean lab, Dr. Loreille
drilled into the tooth’s core and collected
a tiny bit of powder. She then dissolved
the tooth dust to make a DNA library
that allowed her to amplify the amount
of DNA she was working with, like a
copy machine, and bring it up to detectable levels.
To determine whether what she had
extracted was ancient DNA or contamination from modern people, she analyzed how damaged the sample was. It
showed signs of heavy damage, confirmation that she was studying the mummy’s genetic material.
She plugged her data into computer
software that analyzed the ratio of chromosomes in the sample. “When you
have a female, you have more reads on
X. When you have a male you have X
and Y,” she said.
The program spit out “male.”
Dr. Loreille discovered the mummified severed head had indeed belong to
Governor Djehutynakht. And in doing
so she had helped establish that ancient
Egyptian DNA could be extracted from
“It’s one of the Holy Grails of ancient
DNA, to collect good data from Egyptian
mummies,” said Pontus Skoglund, a geneticist at the Francis Crick Institute in
London who helped confirm the accuracy of the finding while he was a researcher at Harvard. “It was very exciting to see that Odile got something that
looked like it could be authentic ancient
Dr. Loreille’s examination also showed
that Governor Djehutynakht’s DNA carried clues to another mystery. For centuries archaeologists and historians
have debated the origins of the ancient
Egyptians and how closely related they
were to modern people living in North
To the researchers’ surprise, the governor’s mitochondrial DNA indicated
his ancestry on his mother’s side, or
haplogroup, was Eurasian.
“No one will ever believe us,” Dr. Loreille recalled telling her colleague Jodi
Irwin. “There’s a European haplogroup
in an ancient mummy.”
Dr. Irwin, the supervisory biologist at
the F.B.I., had similar concerns. To verify the results, they sent a portion of the
tooth to a Harvard lab, and then to the
Department of Homeland Security, for
further sequencing.
“At the time in 2009 there had
been no successful extraction of
DNA from a mummy that was
4,000 years old.”
Then last year, as the F.B.I. scientists
worked to confirm their results, another
group affiliated with the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
in Germany reported the first successful
extraction of ancient DNA from Egyptian mummies. Their results showed
that their ancient Egyptian samples
were closer to modern Middle Eastern
and European samples than to modern
Egyptians, who have more sub-Saharan
African ancestry.
“It was at the same time ‘Dang! We’re
not first,’” Dr. Loreille said. “But also
we’re happy to see they had this Eurasian ancestry.”
Dr. Irwin expressed caution with the
public interpretation of her team’s results, saying that mitochondrial DNA
provides “just a very small glimpse into
somebody’s ancestry.”
Future ancient DNA work will provide insight into how diverse populations moved and mixed in Egypt millenniums ago, according to Verena Schünemann, a paleogeneticist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland who led the
Egyptian mummy DNA study that was
published before the F.B.I.’s.
In addition to helping lay groundwork
for future exploration of ancient Egypt’s
migration history, Dr. Loreille and her
team’s work may prove beneficial to
F.B.I. forensic efforts.
“We are testing techniques that may
in the future help them work on remains
that are highly degraded, like in the
desert or that are burned,” she said.
But for the Egyptologists and medical
professionals enthralled by Tomb 10A,
the biggest prize was finally solving the
mystery of the mummified head.
“You almost feel like it’s a child, like
you just identified the gender of a baby,”
Dr. Nunes said. “It is a boy!”
The mystery of insects and their wings
Beetle wings are often hidden. Nestled
behind armored shields on the beetle’s
back, they unfurl in whirring sheets,
whisking their clumsy owners from danger. Beetles don’t have more than two
sets of wings — unless they’re in Yoshinori Tomoyasu’s lab.
In research recently published in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences, Dr. Tomoyasu and David Linz,
his co-author, genetically engineered
beetle larvae with wings on their abdomens, part of a continuing attempt to unpack one of evolution’s greatest mysteries: how insects gained the ability to fly.
Insects took to the skies sometime between 300 million and 360 million years
ago, long before birds, bats or pterosaurs. Wings allowed them to conquer
new habitats and ecological niches, and
Insecta quickly established themselves
as one of the most diverse and successful animal classes, a position they still
hold today.
The vast majority of living insects either have wings or evolved from flying
ancestors, said Dr. Linz, an evolutionary
biologist now at Indiana University.
“When the average person thinks
about an insect wing, they think about a
dragonfly — these two pairs of really
pretty, long wings. But it’s different in
different lineages,” he said. “When you
see a dung beetle flying around, it’s like
a bomber coming at you. Which is terrifying, or beautiful, depending on how
you look at it.”
There’s a frustrating lack of fossil evidence from the period when insect flight
A fossil of a cockroach dating from 65 million to 145 million years ago.
A dragonfly. There is not much evidence from the period when insect flight evolved.
evolved, said Dr. Tomoyasu, an evolutionary biologist at Miami University.
“There’s as much variety in origin
ideas for insect wings as in insect wings
themselves,” he said. “With the flight
wing in vertebrates, there’s a clear origin.” But insect wings evolved so long
ago, he added, “it’s hard to tell what happened.”
That hasn’t stopped researchers from
trying to figure it out. According to
Floyd Shockley, an entomologist at the
Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, there have long been two
competing hypotheses.
The “tergal hypothesis” suggests that
wings originated on the tergum — the
sounds bizarre, Dr. Linz said, but there
is some precedent. The ancient ancestors of insects probably had relatively
symmetrical body segments, each with
a pair of legs. These segments have become modified over the millenniums in
wildly different ways. In some insects,
legs have been lost in the abdomen; in
others they have moved to the head, becoming antennas.
Dr. Tomoyasu and Dr. Linz worked
with Tribolium, or flour beetles, a common subject because of its fully sequenced genome. The beetles don’t fly
well, Dr. Linz said, and are easy to keep
in a laboratory.
In an initial study, the team used mas-
top of the insect body wall — perhaps as
gliding membranes. The “pleural hypothesis” argues that wings were created from ancient leg segments that
merged with the body before ending up
on the back.
The rise of evolutionary developmental biology, along with advances in genetics, has lent weight to a third possibility, Dr. Linz said.
Originally proposed in 1974, the “dual
origin” hypothesis suggests that insect
wings actually began with a fusion of the
two separate tissues: the dorsal body
wall provided the membrane, while its
articulation arose from leg segments.
This sort of evolutionary fusion
ter switches in the beetles’ genome to
manipulate which segments of the body
had wings. To their surprise, doing so
disrupted portions of anatomy that had
seemed unconnected to flight.
This offered some support for the idea
that wings were composite tissues. But
how might the ancestral wing structures have formed?
The researchers turned their attention to the pupae, which have defensive
sets of miniature pincers along their abdomens. These so-called gin-traps sit
near the top of the insect, which make
them likely models for early wing structures.
To add support for the dual origin hy-
pothesis, Dr. Linz said, evolution would
have had to fuse a structure on the dorsal region of the segment and one from
the pleural tissue.
The team introduced a fluorescent
green protein into the beetles that
marked the expression of certain wingrelated genes, making it easy to tell
which tissues were being affected by genetic tampering. After manipulating
genes of the abdomen, they were delighted to see two green tissues: one at
the dorsal gin-trap, and one down in the
pleural tissue.
And by doing so, they were able to
produce pupae in which both tissues
fused to form pairs of tiny wings.
“They’re obviously very, very sick,
because that’s not how they normally
develop,” Dr. Linz said. “They frequently just die, so sadly I was never
able to produce an adult beetle with 10
pairs of wings.”
While he found the study interesting,
Dr. Shockley said the idea that embryonic or larvae development is like a fastforwarding tape of prior evolutionary
modifications has largely been discredited.
The debate about how insect wings
evolved is far from over, Dr. Tomoyasu
said. “We’re still relying on one species,”
he said. “Although we see that there are
two tissues that are contributing to
make wings, that could be unique to this
”It’s crucial for us to study more insects,” he added. “In my lab, we’re now
studying cockroaches and some crustaceans to see if the process repeats the
same way.”
10 | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2018
Despite the attention of an international audience, familiar concerns over the Games’ substantial cost and dwindling significance have again come to the fore
Competing for medals and relevance
Athletes from 71 nations
and territories will
compete in 275 events
Amid the skyscrapers and coastline of
Surfers Paradise here, you can spot a
large surfboard with a digital clock, determinedly counting down. The Commonwealth Games will descend this
week onto the Gold Coast’s beaches,
bringing with it the world’s best athletes
and nagging questions of relevance,
competitiveness and economic impact.
The weekslong multisport event has
gathered various nations of the British
Commonwealth every four years since
1930, barring a few wartime aberrations. It was originally known as the
British Empire Games, hosting various
combinations of countries, with Australia and Britain among the mainstays.
The 2018 Games will draw athletes from
71 Commonwealth nations and territories who will compete in 275 events over
18 sports.
Despite the impending glow of an international audience, familiar concerns
over the Games’ substantial cost and
dwindling significance have again come
to the fore, this time in the Australian
state of Queensland.
There’s little doubt the Commonwealth represents a particular, if aging,
type of might — it still represents about
a third of the world’s population. Set up
in the mid-20th century as Britain allowed for the self-governance of many of
its territories, the Commonwealth of Nations have no legal obligations to one another, but instead aim to further shared
values like democracy and freedom of
But, in a post-Brexit landscape, and
with many countries shrinking further
into isolationism, questions have been
raised not only of the Games’ relevance,
but the relevance of the Commonwealth
“The Commonwealth matters to me,”
said Jacqui Gooding, a New Zealander
who was visiting Surfers Paradise on
vacation. “The queen is our leader — I
don’t want a president.”
Mrs. Gooding’s husband, John, dismissed the idea that the Games would
be absent of sporting and political relevance.
“It’s about bringing all the nations of
the Commonwealth together,” he said.
“It shows the power of sport in diplomacy, and the importance of the Commonwealth.
“And look at what happened with
North Korea,” he added, referring to the
meeting tentatively arranged between
President Trump and Kim Jong-un,
North Korea’s leader, which has been
largely credited to the afterglow of the
Pyeongchang Olympics.
Organizers on the Gold Coast said
they expected the Games to reach a
global audience of 1.5 billion. For context, the 2014 World Cup had about 3.2
billion global viewers and the Rio
Olympics had about 3.6 billion.
The mood of locals varied from enthusiasm to curiosity to, occasionally, eyerolling frustration at construction and
traffic delays.
Nick Atkins, who runs a co-working
space on the Gold Coast, has been an advocate for attracting and retaining talent in the region. He said he was more
excited about the government’s spending on infrastructure than the events
“For me, personally, I don’t know who
the Commonwealth’s best javelin
thrower is, or table tennis player or
swimmer,” he said. “But there’s an undeniable positivity on the Gold Coast for
Mr. Atkins added that he felt little
emotional connection to the Commonwealth itself.
“In an identity sense, I would like to
become a republic — I don’t see the need
for us to be part of the Commonwealth,
really, anymore,” he said.
Peter Beattie, a former premier of the
state of Queensland, and the chairman
of the Gold Coast Games, said that he
empathized with those who had reservations about the event.
“I understand that there’s always a bit
of cynicism: is this the remnants of the
Empire? Look, it came from the Empire
Games, but its relevance and relationship with the Empire Games is very tenuous,” he said.
Mr. Beattie believed that Brexit and
its fallout had given the Commonwealth,
and its Games, a unique opening to capitalize upon.
“Brexit, actually, in a converse way,
has made the Commonwealth more relevant, not less,” he said. “Britain’s now
looking at free trade agreements. Part of
what’s happening here is a meeting of all
the trade ministers.”
Of course, it is difficult to ignore that
the Games are, in a way, a sort of
Olympics-lite: an athletic coming together of many nations, to be sure, but
with the notable absence of medal-winning mainstays like China, the United
States and Russia.
But organizers, including Mr. Beattie,
were quick to paint the Games as more
nimble and progressive than the
Olympics, and several times implied
that the latter could do with some evolution.
“The Olympics are just a hard, competitive sporting event — and that’s terrific,” he said. “The Commonwealth is
more than that.”
This year’s Games, for the first time,
will feature an equal gender split of
events. Women will compete for the
same number of medals as men, a feat
that organizers said had not been replicated by any other major multisport international event — including the
Mr. Beattie said that the Games would
send a message about the advancement
of women that he hoped the Olympics
Sun and sand
A temporary
stadium for beach
volleyball, above,
was built at
Beachfront. A
jogger going by
the Opus Aquatic
Center, left.
would emulate.
Others said the Games presented athletes with a rare chance at higher competition like the Olympics and World
Championships — and some athletes
with perhaps the peak competition of
their careers.
“I just snuck into the Commonwealth
Games. It was the first major team that I
made, representing Australia — they
have more relaxed standards,” said
Steve Moneghetti, a retired Australian
runner who eventually competed in four
Olympic marathons. “It’s a good steppingstone, and certainly for some athletes it will be the only multisport competition that they go to.”
It is easy to see why for certain nations these Games may be just as watchable as the Olympics — there’s a far
greater chance of seeing a fellow countryman win.
“Australians, we’re quite competitive.
We’ve either topped or been second in
the medal tally for most Games in history. The Australian public really embrace them,” Mr. Moneghetti said. “I
know this sounds quite naïve, but Aus-
tralians kind of go, Commonwealth
Games, Olympic Games, if you won a
medal, that’s great.”
Medal count aside, host cities have
faced increasing pressure in recent
Games to ensure that the economic impact of the event proves both positive
and sustainable.
Last year the South African city of
Durban was stripped of the right to host
the Games in 2022, following a series of
missed deadlines and financial shortcomings. The African continent has
never hosted the Games.
Before that, India’s 2010 Games were
marred by accusations of substantial
overspend and corruption.
The 2014 Games in Glasgow proved
something of a litmus test for the economic and cultural credibility of the
There, a large chunk of responsibility
fell to an American, David Grevemberg,
who had previously been part of a team
that secured an agreement that would
require Olympic cities to also host the
“Post India, we had a brand that’s rel-
evance was being questioned,” said Mr.
Grevemberg, who today is the chief executive of the Commonwealth Games
Under Mr. Grevemberg’s leadership,
Glasgow 2014 accomplished an elusive
feat: finishing under budget.
Mr. Beattie said that much of the 2018
Games’ $1.1 billion budget had gone toward infrastructure that would continue
to be used after the event ends. He added that most of the money had been publicly funded, though these Games had
attracted more sponsors than any before it.
Regardless of how well this year’s
Games perform, many involved with the
event conceded that it must continue to
shrug off predictions of its demise.
Mr. Grevemberg has seen success
and failure in large sporting events, including at the now-defunct Goodwill
Games, where he worked with some
American athletes.
“The Goodwill Games were largely
spun off of Cold War tensions — I’m not
sure that its narrative matured beyond
that,” he said.
Mr. Grevemberg emphasized the
power of nonsporting stories the Games
have seen, from apartheid-era boycotts,
to the Australian runner Cathy Freeman’s decision to drape herself in an Aboriginal, not an Australian, flag as she
celebrated a gold medal win.
And, with regard to the five-ringed
shadow of the Olympic Games, and any
perceived inferiority complex, Mr.
Grevemberg playfully brushed cynicism aside.
“You are what you believe you are,” he
The glitter of the Gold Coast
There is a lot more to the
city than its shiny facade
Australia has an affinity for nicknames,
and Gold Coast — the country’s sixthlargest city — has many of them. In fact,
“the gold coast” was once a nickname
for the stretch of beach enclaves along
Queensland’s southernmost coastline. It
wasn’t until the 1950s that the name became official, and the area became a city.
These days, people sometimes call it the
Glitter Strip.
What glitters? The beaches. The
aquamarine water. The shiny high-rise
condos and hotels that continue to proliferate at an incredible rate.
When the Commonwealth Games
start on Wednesday, they will bring
massive crowds, but the Gold Coast is
built for visitors. Tourism is the region’s
biggest industry, and the city’s infrastructure, from its easy-to-access international airport to its convenient light
rail system, caters to that industry.
There is no shortage of bland but familiar luxury. If you dig a little, though,
there is a lot more to the city than its glittery facade.
Tallebudgera Creek, where you can
swim in the calm shallow water. This
area is the traditional land of the Yugambeh people, and the basalt rock formations in the park are said to be the fingers of Jabreen, a giant who was captured by the mountain.
Snaking throughout the city are more
than 250 miles of canals, lined with
houses, which you can explore via canal
cruise or boat charter.
For the visitor who cannot leave Australia without cuddling a koala, that experience is (usually) available at the
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, where
you can also feed a crocodile and play
with an echidna.
The Gold Coast is famous for its 43 miles
of coastline, along which are some of the
country’s most popular surfing beaches.
If a crowded beach full of beautiful people is your scene, you cannot do better
than Surfers Paradise.
For a slightly more nature-focused
experience, the tiny Burleigh Head National Park offers an easy hike with
stunning views. It ends at the mouth of
Australia’s stellar cafe culture is well
represented on the Gold Coast, avocado
toast and all. The Paddock Bakery, located in one of the precious few remaining
old Queenslander houses, is a great
place to start your day.
For later, upscale seafood options
abound, and it can be hard to parse the
tourist traps from the quality establishments.
The Fish House in Burleigh Heads
(just a short walk from the Burleigh
Head National Park) could bank on its
view alone — its wide open front windows look out over the arching sweep of
the coastline. It is also one of the best
places in the country to sample Australia’s incredible seafood bounty, cooked
simply and elegantly with a fantastic
wine list to match.
At Hellenika in Nobby Beach, large
pop art portraits of John Stamos and
George Michael oversee the dining
room, where Greek food gets the fine
dining treatment. The restaurant has
one of the smartest collections of Greek
wine you’ll find anywhere, and slightly
updated classic dishes such as dolmades made with veal and wrapped in
chard, served with thick, creamy
For a less flashy, more intimate meal,
it is worth seeking out Lupo, a relative
newcomer in the corner of a Mermaid
Beach strip mall. Soul music blares,
overhead fans stir the air, and the burnished walls and horseshoe bar give it
the feel of a vintage expat dive on some
tropical island.
The food mainly comes from a woodfired oven but there’s not a pizza in sight
— instead you’ll find modern Australian
combinations with rustic European underpinnings. Kingfish ceviche comes
with a pea puree rather than the citrus
brine it gets everywhere else, and steak
tartare is reimagined as a raw steak
sandwich, doused in smoky Spanish paprika.
There are some charming small towns
within easy driving range, and many of
them have seen an influx of wealth in recent years as affluence spills out from
the Gold Coast and also Byron Bay to the
south. Brunswick Heads, about an
hour’s drive into New South Wales, has
great vintage stores, boutiques and a
riverfront park where kids, dogs and
families splash in the tidal Brunswick
It is also home to one of the country’s
most lauded new restaurants, Fleet.
Reservations at Fleet are basically impossible to secure; for a far more accessible dining experience, the sprawling
patio at the historic Hotel Brunswick is
one of the region’s great pub experiences.
The area’s history as a hippie haven
offers some unique sightseeing, such as
the Crystal Castle Shambhala Gardens
in the breathtakingly beautiful hinterlands above Byron Bay. The gardens are
home to some of the biggest crystals in
the world, and aura readings (and aura
photographs) are available. On your
way back down the hill, stop by Federal
Doma Cafe in Federal for fantastic Japanese/Australian cafe food.
There’s plenty for adventure-seekers
nearby, including a ropes course and zip
line parks, the largest of which is in
Mount Tamborine, a little less than an
hour northwest of the Gold Coast. Tree
Top Challenge also has a smaller course
inside the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, but the original Mount Tamborine
park has six courses spread over nine
acres of forest, with about 100 challenges and 11 zip lines.
The surrounding area offers multiple
natural attractions, including Springbrook National Park’s Natural Bridge
waterfall, which at night is lit by glow
worms, fireflies and luminous fungi.
Much to do
Left, Aboriginal
dancers from the
Yugambeh people
performing at
Currumbin Wildlife
Sanctuary. Center, a
coral trout served at
The Fish House.
Above, sunset along
Currumbin Beach
on the Gold Coast.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2018 | 11
Conquest V.H.P.
12 | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2018
Wine a tempting target in trade dispute
Retaliatory tariffs hit
exporters catering to
newly wealthy Chinese
Cabernet isn’t the most obvious pawn in
a trade war between the United States
and China. Airplanes and their parts are
the leading American export to China.
Soybeans and wheat grow in Trump
But China’s selection of wine as a target of retaliatory tariffs did not surprise
Michael Honig, a winemaker in the
Napa Valley, the region in California
where the tariff would hit hardest.
“The reason the government realizes
they should penalize us is, we are
branded,” said Mr. Honig, the president
of Honig Vineyard and Winery. “It’s
hard to go after a wheat grower, because
who is a wheat grower? It’s a commodity. We are not a commodity.”
The news was an unwelcome turn of
events for Mr. Honig and many California winemakers, who have spent years
trying to carve out a place in the hearts
of wealthy Chinese consumers. That
hard work has earned them a prized
sliver of what is becoming one of the
fastest-growing markets for wine imports. China’s imports of American wine
reached $82 million last year — not including bottles entering duty-free
through Hong Kong — a sevenfold increase in the last decade. But growing
visibility may have turned Napa wine
into easy prey.
“Wine is something people can relate
to,” said Jim Boyce, who has been covering the industry from Beijing for a decade on his blog, the Grape Wall of China.
“It’s like putting a tariff on Chinese
dumplings. It’s something you can feel
on an emotional and personal level.”
The 15 percent tariff, announced Monday, on top of existing tariffs and taxes,
is a gut punch to winemakers marketing
their wares to the mushrooming legions
of young, recently wealthy Chinese.
It is that group, one or two levels below China’s ultrarich, that holds huge
potential for California vintners. Those
consumers are far more numerous than
1-percenters. And more crucially,
they’re the ones driving the recent blossoming of a wine culture in China in
which bottles are actually consumed
rather than simply traded among elites
as trophies.
Mr. Honig and his business partner
and wife, Stephanie, have spent a decade wooing that clientele, making a trip
a year to China to pitch sommeliers in
top restaurants and hotels. He has recently expanded beyond the obvious
stops in Beijing and Shanghai, visiting
cities like Guangzhou, in southern
China. “There are people who want to
Stephanie and Michael Honig of Honig Vineyard and Winery in the Napa Valley of California. Mr. Honig said California wines were vulnerable because they “are not a commodity.”
spend the most, but there are also aspirational buyers,” Mr. Honig said. “You
may want to buy the Rolls-Royce, but
you can afford the Mercedes.” And that’s
his sweet spot.
His most popular cabernet goes for
around $25 a bottle wholesale, and he
sends more than 500 cases of it every
year to a Shanghai importing business
started by two brothers with dual citizenship. With existing tariffs and valueadded taxes mixed in, the total charge
tacked on to California wine was already
close to 50 percent. After the importer
factors in shipping, takes its cut and passes the bottles to a hotel or retail store,
which takes its cut, the Napa red ends up
selling for the equivalent of around $100.
An extra 15 percent charge would be
brutal. “No one wants to overpay,” Mr.
Honig said. “If all they’re looking at is
two different bottles side by side, and we
are competing with Australia and Chile,
that’s a big competitive disadvantage.”
Chilean and New Zealand wines face
no Chinese levies, thanks to free-trade
agreements. Australian bottles will enter the country tariff-free next year.
Larry Yang, an importer in Shanghai,
said his customers liked California
wines, but not enough to ignore an even
higher price tag. The wine isn’t cheap as
it is, he said, and if it gets pricier, he will
look elsewhere.
“There are so many countries producing fine wine,” he said. “I don’t have
to buy relatively expensive California
wine. I could choose from New Zealand,
Australia, Chile and South Africa.”
And Chinese drinkers have a growing
array of homegrown brands to choose
from. Expert winemakers have spent
years harvesting cabernet sauvignon,
merlot and cabernet franc varietals at
the foothills of the Helan Mountains in
Ningxia, a region that borders Inner
Mongolia. They have started winning
international awards, even beating out
French favorites.
Then the government began protecting its domestic companies.
When the European Union put tariffs
on Chinese solar panels in 2013, Beijing
blustered back by opening an inquiry
into whether European winemakers
were dumping cheap, improperly subsidized bottles onto the Chinese market. It
ended the investigation a year later, after the Europeans agreed to help train
Chinese winemakers.
Sophisticated wine shops have
sprouted up across Shanghai, the online
retailer Alibaba now runs a yearly wine
sale, and other sites will deliver cases to
people’s doors within two days. In August, China got its first master sommelier, a distinction reserved for people
who can pass a rigorous series of tests,
including verbal and tasting exams.
It wasn’t like this when David Pearson made his first business trip to Beijing 15 years ago, intent on selling Chinese customers on his super-premium
Napa wine Opus One. The rich drank
French Bordeaux if they drank wine at
all. He had to make the case for his California winery, a joint venture between
Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de
He found a natural audience.
“People will buy symbols of luxury —
watches, cars, expensive bottles of wine
— to demonstrate they have the means
to do that,” said Mr. Pearson, the Opus
One chief executive. “There was no middle market. You were either spending all
your money on the highest quality of
wine or you couldn’t afford to buy anything other than the least expensive
The change started when Xi Jinping
became president in 2013 and began an
anti-corruption campaign that zeroed in
on illicit gift-giving. Wine imports
dipped for a couple of years but then recovered as sellers began to learn how to
market to a person who would buy a bottle at a time, not several cases.
“The distributors who learned how to
deal with consumers survived and got
better at it,” said Mr. Boyce, the wine
It isn’t clear how exactly the new tariffs will affect Opus One. Mr. Pearson
sells the wine to a group of intermediaries in France known as negociants,
who then send it to Chinese importers.
It’s also unlikely that anyone willing to
spend the $600 for Opus One in China
would even notice the added charge.
The middle-market wine buyer —
with $20 or so to spare — would notice.
France and Australia are already monsters in that market, sending half of all of
the foreign wine that went to China last
year. The United States’ share is just 2
percent, and it has been shrinking. The
Wine Institute, which represents growers in California, says that’s partly because they’re selling less for a higher
price. “California has had a tough time
getting into the conversation,” said David Amadia, the president of Ridge Vineyards. “It wasn’t considered a top wine
region in China.”
After his Geyserville zinfandel blend
was served at a meeting between Mr. Xi
and President Barack Obama in 2013, a
flurry of new importers began asking
for 1,000 cases at a time. He was initially
excited about the attention. Then he realized he had no idea where it was going,
or who exactly was so interested in it.
“We had concerns about gray market
and counterfeiting,” he said. So he rejected those orders and says other
American winemakers may also be
choosing control over quantity.
No one knows how much fake wine
flows in China, but experts say French
and Australian labels are stolen most often, and slapped on random bottles, because they are so well known and abundant.
On Mr. Pearson’s desk, in Napa, he
has a box of counterfeit Opus wines on
display. The scammers did a terrific job
on the box, he said, other than the “X”
they inserted into the name Rothschild.
“Part of me takes a strange amount of
pride in it,” he said. “Your brand has to
have enough value associated with it in
order for someone to think it’s worth
Ailin Tang contributed reporting.
Like to go out in sweatpants? Don’t be an N.F.L. cheerleader
Cheerleaders for the Carolina Panthers
professional football team in the United
States, known as the TopCats, must arrive at the stadium on game days at
least five hours before kickoff. Body
piercings and tattoos must be removed
or covered. Water breaks can be taken
only when the Panthers are on offense.
TopCats must leave the stadium to
change into their personal attire.
Baltimore Ravens cheerleaders were
subject to regular weigh-ins and are expected to “maintain ideal body weight,”
according to a handbook from 2009. The
Cincinnati Ben-Gals were even more
precise in recent years: Cheerleaders
had to be within three pounds of their
“ideal weight.”
Some National Football League
cheerleaders must pay hundreds of dollars for their uniforms, yet they are paid
little more than minimum wage. Cheerleaders must sell raffle tickets and calendars and appear at charity events and
golf tournaments, yet they receive none
of the proceeds. Cheerleader handbooks, seven of which have been reviewed by The New York Times, include
personal hygiene tips, like shaving techniques and the proper use of tampons.
In some cases, wearing sweatpants in
public is forbidden.
The New Orleans Saints, who fired a
cheerleader this year for posting a picture the team deemed inappropriate on
her private Instagram account, is one of
many N.F.L. teams with stringent and
seemingly anachronistic rules for their
Across the N.F.L., teams even try to
place extensive controls on how cheerleaders conduct their lives outside work.
This includes limiting their social media
activity, as well as the people they
choose to date and socialize with. Restrictions are placed on their nail polish
and jewelry.
Those rules and additional work requirements have fueled another public
relations headache for the N.F.L., after
The Times revealed last week that Bailey Davis, the cheerleader the Saints
dismissed in January, had filed a complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
claiming unfair treatment. The complaint comes at time when the N.F.L. is
dealing with issues of domestic violence
Some teams limit cheerleaders’
social media activity and the
people they can date.
Left, the Oakland Raiders’ cheerleaders won $1.25 million in back pay in a legal settlement. Right, one of two men the Los Angeles Rams have added to their team of 40 dancers.
and sexual harassment among players
and league employees and when issues
of gender equality are facing unprecedented scrutiny in nearly every corner
of the America.
The complaint is the first step in what
could be a lengthy litigation with the
Saints franchise and the league. Ms. Davis spent much of last week appearing
on television, criticizing the Saints and
other N.F.L. teams for having rules that
she said demean women.
Leslie A. Lanusse, a lawyer representing the Saints, said the franchise
strives to treat all employees fairly and
denied that the franchise had discriminated against Ms. Davis because of her
gender. “At the appropriate time and in
the appropriate forum, the Saints will
defend the organization’s policies and
workplace rules,” Ms. Lanusse said in
an email.
The N.F.L. declined to comment. The
Ravens did not respond to questions
about their current policies. The Bengals said they had updated their rules
for cheerleaders and no longer have precise weight guidelines.
Unlike N.F.L. players, who are unionized and generally free to promote
themselves in any way they choose,
cheerleaders are part-time workers
with few benefits. A few teams, including the Chicago Bears, the Giants and
the Pittsburgh Steelers, do not employ
cheerleaders. Most of the more than two
dozen other teams with cheerleaders
outline the rules and restrictions in the
cheerleaders’ contracts and handbooks.
Other rules are applied as a specific
reaction to an ever-changing social environment. Cheerleaders who complain
about the conditions are told that they
can easily be replaced. The threats are
not empty. In this employee-employer
relationship, the teams have all the
“The club’s intention is to completely
control the behavior of the women, even
when they are not actually at their workplace,” said Leslie Levy, who represented cheerleaders who sued the Jets
and the Oakland Raiders. “It’s an issue
of power. You see a disparate treatment
between the cheerleaders, and the mascots and anyone else who works for the
team. I can’t think of another arena
where employers exert this level of control, even when they are not at work.”
Ms. Levy and other lawyers have had
some success. In 2016 the Jets agreed to
pay their cheerleaders, known as The
Flight Crew, almost $325,000 in back
pay. The Raiders agreed to $1.25 million
in back pay for the Raiderettes. (The
Raiders did not respond to questions
about their cheerleading policies.)
Despite increases in pay, the rules
persist in part because supply outweighs demand. Most teams employ
only a few dozen cheerleaders, who
must audition along with hundreds of
other candidates every year to keep
their jobs. In the case of the Saints,
cheerleaders are limited to a maximum
of four years with the club. Yet thousands of women are eager to join the
To be sure, there are cheerleaders for
whom the good experiences far outweigh the bad.
“Cheerleading changed my life,” said
Flavia Berys, a former cheerleader for
the San Diego Chargers who wrote
books on audition secrets and became a
real estate lawyer. “When I was an
N.F.L. cheerleader, I learned a lot about
how to speak to the media, I learned
about the rules of decorum and professionalism. We were taught how to interact with the staff and the players, and
everything. The training we had was all
for a reason, and looking back, I think it
was all for the right reasons.”
Nearly every N.F.L. team owner is a
man, though some cheerleader programs are run by female executives.
The league lets the teams establish their
own rules for cheerleading squads.
Cheerleaders are seen as an integral
part of the game-day experience, wellestablished entertainment that fans and
television networks have come to expect at sports stadiums. For decades,
many teams have subscribed to the phi-
losophy that sex sells, so cheerleaders’
dress in skimpy outfits, wave pompoms
and dance suggestively throughout
football games, where the majority of
fans are men.
But for all their upbeat energy on
game days, cheerleaders toil under intense scrutiny, based on the rules included in the handbooks issued by
nearly a dozen N.F.L. teams, as well as
many of the unwritten rules of the job.
For several years, the cheerleaders
for the Saints, the Saintsations, had to
sell glossy calendars of themselves in bikinis. Before each home game, cheerleaders walked outside the stadium and
tried to sell their allotment of 20 calendars to fans, many of whom had been
drinking. If they failed to sell all 20, the
cheerleaders had to wander the stands
between quarters.
“You walk by a guy and you’re afraid
you’re going to get touched,” said Ms.
Davis, the former member of the Saintsations fired in January for the Instagram post. “Every girl dreads going out
there before the games. We didn’t feel
very important because we were literally thrown into the mix with the fans.
Who would throw professional cheerleaders, walking around with cash, out
with drunk fans?”
Before the Buffalo Bills’ cheerleaders,
known as the Jills, were disbanded several years ago following a lawsuit, danc-
ers were expected to sell 50 calendars a
season. They had to buy them in advance, for $10, and sell them for $15.
They were allowed to pocket the profit.
Like most teams, the Ravens prohibit
cheerleaders from working for other
teams, or from taking part in exotic
dancing, posing nude or seminude, or
“performing in tasteless films, photos or
bikini/swimwear contest.”
The handbook given to the Oakland
Raiderettes included a list of fines.
Cheerleaders must pay $10 if they bring
the wrong pompoms to practice, or their
boots are not polished on game day. If
they forgot all or part of their uniform on
game day, they could be docked an entire day’s pay. The Raiderettes — known
as Football’s Fabulous Females — are
also coached on their body language
and dining etiquette.
Even when they aren’t on duty for
their teams, cheerleaders are subject to
specific franchise rules about their behavior. They are forbidden from fraternizing with players. They cannot speak
with them, seek their autographs or follow them on social media. They must
block players who follow them. They are
not allowed to post pictures of themselves in uniform. Teams say this rule is
to prevent the cheerleaders from attracting stalkers.
According to their 2016 handbook, the
San Francisco Gold Rush cheerleaders
are told never to disclose that they are
affiliated with the team. They are also
advised to “turn off your GPS applications on your phone that will indicate
where you are any given time.”
Some teams are adapting. The Los
Angeles Rams recently announced that
for the first time, two men will join their
team of 40 dancers. Keely Fimbres, the
head of cheerleading for the Rams for 28
years, said adding men to the team is a
sign that gender roles are changing,
however slowly.
“I think this is just the right timing because we talk about equality and inclusiveness,” she said. “They’ll be fun to
watch on Sundays.”
Jessica Bennett contributed reporting.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2018 | 13
A button
could use
Andrew Ross Sorkin
“One of our biggest responsibilities is
to protect data.”
That’s what Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive and co-founder,
said just over a week ago after revelations that the data research firm Cambridge Analytica had gained access to
the profiles of 50 million Facebook
Over the past year, the downside of
social media companies — Facebook
foremost among them — has become
glaringly apparent. They have been
platforms for information campaigns
that influenced elections and endangered lives. They have failed to keep
users’ personal information private.
And the carefully targeted ads that
appear on them can be, well, creepy.
Now the drumbeat for regulation of
social media on both sides of the aisle
— and from many in Silicon Valley — is
getting louder by the day. “I think that
this certain situation is so dire and has
become so large that probably some
well-crafted regulation is necessary,”
Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, said
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, needs a quick solution.
Mr. Zuckerberg may be getting tired
of other executives sniping at his company, but he needs to come up with a
solution — fast. For several weeks, I’ve
been canvassing various technology
executives, privacy advocates, academics and others to come up with
some ideas about exactly what Facebook could do to fix itself.
It is not clear that Facebook will be
able to stave off regulators, but Mr.
Zuckerberg and his colleagues might
want to consider this: a “Why Me?”
button. (Google, Amazon and others
might want to take note, too.)
Facebook suffers from a lack of trust
because of the asymmetrical nature of
the relationship users have with it. We
provide it all sorts of information. But
we have no idea how the information is
being used, how our data is being
harvested, how that data is being
commingled and cross-referenced with
other data sets and ultimately sold to
advertisers. (Facebook already has a
button, relatively buried in a list of
other items, that it calls “Why Am I
Seeing This Ad?” It is, to some degree,
a crippled version of what I’m suggesting should be introduced on all of
Facebook’s properties.)
To his credit, Mr. Zuckerberg does
appear to recognize the problem that
his company faces over privacy concerns. After acknowledging that protecting users’ data is one of the company’s biggest responsibilities, he went
on to say, “If you think about what our
services are, at their most basic level,
you put some content into a service,
whether it’s a photo or a video or a text
message — whether it’s Facebook or
WhatsApp or Instagram — and you’re
trusting that that content is going to be
shared with the people you want to
share it with.”
But the solution Facebook offered
last week — putting all of your privacy
settings on one screen and blocking
some third parties from access to data
— is just a Band-Aid. It’s a start, but it
doesn’t provide a road map for how
your information is being used.
That’s where the “Why Me?” button
could help. This button would sit next
to every advertisement and piece of
content that appears before you on all
of Facebook’s properties, including
Instagram and WhatsApp.
If you saw an ad or an article pop up
on your screen, you could click the
“Why Me?” button. Then you would
see a full explanation of why that item
was pushed to you.
The “Why Me?” explanation would
not just include the name of the advertiser, but what keywords, demographics or other information the advertiser
specifically targeted. It would also
offer a full rundown of how your information fit into the parameters of the
advertiser’s request and where that
information came from.
Maybe Facebook saw that you had
clicked on a pair of sneakers on a
different service that shares information with Facebook. The “Why Me?”
section would show you when and
where that information was collected.
Did Facebook notice you searched for
a new cellphone plan? Facebook would
tell how it knew that, too.
Did Facebook use artificial intelligence to find your face in an image
without you or anyone else labeling it?
The “Why Me?” section would show
you the images that the artificial intelligence system cross-referenced to
identify you. Did Facebook scrape
another site or buy information about
you that it commingled with the data
that you had provided? It would tell
you that, too.
Most important, at every point in the
“explanation tree,” the user would
have the option to turn off or disable
that specific piece of data. Facebook, of
course, could — and probably should
— explain the trade-offs of such decisions.
The “Why Me?” button could also be
extended to content. When a friend or
company shares a post, Facebook
doesn’t just display it to everyone
listed as the poster’s friend or follower.
Facebook’s algorithms choose which
friends and followers see it based on all
sorts of parameters, usually related to
the kind of content or how you’ve
interacted with the friend in the past.
The “Why Me?” button should explain all the data points that are used
in the calculation and how they are
The current “Why Am I Seeing This
Ad?” often says something like: “Company A wants to reach people ages 18
and older who live or were recently in
the United States. This is information
based on your Facebook profile and
where you’ve connected to the internet.”
But it hardly tells you the whole
story. Facebook doesn’t say so explicitly, but it allows companies to upload
their own databases, cross-reference
them with Facebook’s data and use
that information to serve ads to users.
It also doesn’t say how that other site
originally got that information about
who you are.
In fairness, the “Why Me?” button
might create all sorts of problems for
Facebook, and its advertisers, too. It
would allow users — and rivals — to
reverse engineer much of the way the
system works. And advertisers would
probably object to the idea of making
their targeting plans public. But that
would be the cost of using such large
public platforms with such exact targeting.
It has become something of a cliché,
but in 1913, before he became a Supreme Court justice, Louis D. Brandeis
said, “Sunlight is said to be the best of
The floor of the New York Stock Exchange during a sharp retreat on Monday in a session that followed the American market’s first quarterly decline since 2015.
Business pushes back on trade
White House that it would not be
pleased with any measure that had tariffs “as the primary or even a significant
“The reason is that it would be a tax
on consumers,” Mr. Kallmer said, “precisely the people we are trying to support.”
Many of the trade measures that Mr.
Trump has proposed, including the steel
and aluminum tariffs, have divided his
advisers, the business community and
the Republican Party. But the White
House has boasted that its targeting of
China’s trade practices has broad support from industries on the losing end of
the Chinese approach. That theory
could make it more difficult for American companies to operate in a country
that already puts up steep barriers.
American companies and business
groups have complained that China
blocks off valuable markets from American competition, including technology,
media and finance, and that it does so in
violation of commitments it made when
it joined the World Trade Organization
in 2001. China has imposed regulations
that require American companies to
share their technology with Chinese
partners, for example, mandating that
foreign companies operate through joint
ventures if they want access to Chinese
consumers. At times, the Chinese have
resorted to stealing vital technologies
through cyberwarfare, according to the
authorities in the United States.
Late last month, the White House said
it would crack down on that behavior. As
Mr. Trump advances a series of tough
trade measures to confront these behaviors, however, cracks have appeared in
American industry’s seemingly united
Companies in technology, investment
and other industries now say that the
measures the administration is taking to
help them may actually end up doing irreparable harm to supply chains they
have built up over decades. Any American company that wants to be a global
player cannot afford to lose access to
China’s growing market, executives say.
Technology companies argue that the
restrictive measures that the adminis-
A hog farm in North Carolina. The 25 percent tariff on pork that China imposed this
week is expected to be particularly harmful in regions that backed Mr. Trump.
tration is taking to help protect them
could end up penalizing American manufacturing, raising costs and making
their companies less competitive globally. And industries most vulnerable to
retaliation, like agriculture, are protesting about losing valuable export opportunities. While the Chinese did not
target soybeans in their initial tariffs
list, many in the soybean industry worry
that they will be penalized in a trade dispute, given China’s importance as a
market for exports.
The 25 percent tariff on pork that
China imposed on Monday is expected
to be particularly harmful, with regions
that supported the president, like Iowa,
North Carolina and Indiana among
those feeling the effects. Last year,
American farmers sent more than a billion dollars’ worth of pork to China, their
largest export market by value after Japan and Mexico. “Because we’re so
blessed to have America feed the world,
we’re also the first industry to get
slammed whenever there are trade difficulties between the U.S. and other countries,” Denise Bode, the coordinator for
the American Fruit and Vegetable Processors and Growers Coalition.
An opera with stroller parking provided
Met is staging ‘BambinO’
for babies, who will be
free to crawl around
The average age at the Metropolitan
Opera is about to get lower — much
lower. Sitting still will not be required:
Audience members will be encouraged
to crawl around and interact with the
singers if they like. The dress code will
be so relaxed that many operagoers
may opt for onesies.
No, the barbarians are not at the gate.
The Met, in New York City, is presenting
a new opera for babies.
The company will present 10 free performances of “BambinO,” an opera for
babies between 6 months old and 18
months old, from April 30 to May 5 in the
opera house’s smaller auditorium, List
Hall. The 40-minute opera — scored for
two singers and two musicians — will be
performed for a small audience of babies and caregivers.
Discerning preverbal operagoers
need not fear: “BambinO” earned good
reviews at its premiere last summer in
“It worked, contrary to expectation
(mine), on so many levels it’s hard to
Charlotte Hoather, left, as Uccellina in “BambinO.” The opera, aimed at babies between
6 months old and 18 months old, received good reviews last summer in Britain.
tease them apart,” Fiona Maddocks
wrote in The Observer.
The most unusual opera, about a bird,
an egg and chick, was written by the
composer Lliam Paterson and developed by Scottish Opera, Improbable theater company and the Manchester International Festival. It was directed by
Phelim McDermott, whose more adult
production of Mozart’s “Così Fan Tutte”
is now at the Met.
“In the Met’s never-ending quest to
develop audiences of the future, we’ve
decided to start at the very beginning,”
Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager,
said in a statement.
The presentation will come near the
end of a tumultuous season in which the
Met fired its former music director,
James Levine, for sexual misconduct,
and he sued the company for breach of
contract and defamation.
The opera will be performed for 25 babies, who will be seated on the laps of
their caregivers on benches with cushions around the perimeter of the stage
Changing tables and stroller parking
will be provided. The Met’s education
team will work with researchers in infant development and early childhood
music education from the Rita Gold
Early Childhood Center at Teachers College, Columbia University.
“American farmers appear to be the
first casualties of an escalating trade
war,” said Max Baucus, a former Democratic senator from Montana and a cochairman of a group called Farmers for
Free Trade. “With farm incomes already
declining, farmers rely on export markets to stay above water. These new tariffs are a drag on their ability to make
ends meet.”
Since Mr. Trump announced the
China measures on March 22, American
officials, including Treasury Secretary
Steven Mnuchin and the United States
trade representative, Robert Lighthizer,
have been in talks with the Chinese
about ways to resolve their differences.
The sides have discussed concessions
like reducing China’s tariffs on American cars, opening up its market for financial services and purchasing more
semiconductors or natural gas, people
familiar with the talks said.
But analysts and companies involved
in China said that these measures appeared unlikely to adequately resolve
American concerns about China’s longstanding encroachment on American intellectual property.
Companies are waiting anxiously for
the administration to release a list of
Chinese products that will be subject to
tariffs — most likely the kind of hightech goods that the administration has
accused China of targeting. The retail industry, which lobbied the administration and Congress against an early plan
to impose tariffs on Chinese-made apparel and footwear, is now cautiously optimistic that its products will be exempt.
Restrictions on Chinese investment
are expected to follow in the coming
weeks. Administration officials have
said those rules will aim to restore reciprocity with the Chinese, though it is not
clear if the United States will go so far as
to prohibit Chinese companies from investing in the same industries that
China restricts.
The White House is also considering
the use of an emergency economy powers act that could allow it to restrict Chinese investments.
The measures come on top of proposed legislation in Congress to expand
the authority of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States,
which reviews foreign deals for national
security concerns. Last month, the committee stalled a hostile takeover of Qualcomm, a California-based chip maker,
by a Singapore company, largely over
concerns about ceding semiconductor
prowess to China.
G.E. and IBM, which operate through
joint ventures and other partnerships in
China and around the world, have both
lobbied against the expansion of the
committee, known as Cfius, over concerns that restrictions on joint ventures
with foreign companies that include the
transfer of valuable skills or technology
could weaken the position of American
companies abroad.
White House advisers, in turn, have
complained that previous approaches to
dealing with China have not worked,
and that companies are overreacting to
legitimate trade measures.
Speaking on CNBC, the White House
trade adviser, Peter Navarro, defended
the administration’s tough actions on
China and said investors should not fear
a trade war. “Everybody needs to relax,”
Mr. Navarro said. “The economy is as
strong as an ox.”
14 | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2018
‘All men are guilty,’ Hollywood mogul says
Barry Diller reflects
on pornography, Trump
and the #MeToo era
Barry Diller knows your weaknesses.
He knows how to intimidate you, if he
wants to, or charm you, if he chooses.
Because he is a taskmaster and a visionary and a billionaire, people in Hollywood and Silicon Valley pay close attention when he speaks.
He has so many vests from Herb Allen’s Sun Valley retreats in Idaho for
global elites that they’re taking over his
“There is so much fleece,” says the
chairman of IAC, laughing. “I’ve been
going for 30 years.”
On this rainy afternoon, by the fireplace in the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired stone and wood living room of his
dreamy mansion, Mr. Diller is all charm,
with a healthy dose of self-deprecation.
He’s dressed in a red checked flannel
shirt, a burgundy Hermès hoodie, baggy
jeans and black Tod’s loafers.
We are eating cold salads and drinking hot tea, served by the butler, Victor.
And we are hopscotching topics, from
Silicon Valley taking over Hollywood to
Jared & Ivanka & Josh & Karlie to
pornography to his company’s dating
websites to the time Harvey Weinstein
tried to throw Mr. Diller off a balcony in
Cannes to how his friend Hillary Clinton
is faring to the mogul’s dismissal of Donald Trump (whose Secret Service code
name is Mogul) as “a joke” and “evil.”
I tell him that a friend of mine, an executive in network television, fretfully
asked her Hollywood psychic how long
Mr. Trump would last as president and
the psychic asserted that it wouldn’t be
more than two years and that the president would be felled by a three-page
email. (The only problem with this prediction being, I don’t think Mr. Trump
“I would so love it if he were being
blackmailed by Putin,” Mr. Diller says
with a sly smile. “That would make me
very happy. This was a man of bad character from the moment he entered adulthood, if not before. Pure, bad character.
Ugh, Trump.”
He shrugs off what he calls Trump’s
“normal, vicious Twitter attacks” on
him. After Mr. Diller mocked Trump’s
campaign in 2015, Trump tweeted: “Little Barry Diller, who lost a fortune on
Newsweek and Daily Beast, only writes
badly about me. He is a sad and pathetic
figure. Lives lie!”
Mr. Diller waves off talk of Mr. Trump
opening the door to more celebrity presidents, saying, “I want this to be a moment in time where you go in and pick
out this period with pincers and go on
with life as we knew it before.”
Has the media gone overboard in criticizing Mr. Trump?
“Are you kidding?” he replies.
Mr. Diller says that he and his wife,
Diane von Furstenberg, are friends with
Josh Kushner and his supermodel girlfriend, Karlie Kloss, but do not hang out
with Jared and Ivanka.
He has put Chelsea Clinton on the
boards of two of his companies, but that
is not likely to happen with this first
“I mean, we were friendly,” he says of
Ivanka, in the time before Mr. Trump became president. “I would sit next to her
every once in a while at a dinner. And I,
as everyone did, was like, ‘Oh, my God,
how could this evil character have
spawned such a polite, gracious person?’ I don’t think we feel that way now.”
At 76, having seen around the corner
to tech and pulled together the ragtag
group of internet ventures at IAC into a
thriving whole, Mr. Diller has “mellowed beautifully,” as one producer from
Los Angeles who has known him for
many years puts it.
His dogs are jumping up on our
chairs. He has three Jack Russell terriers cloned from his late, beloved dog
Shannon, a Gaelic orphan he found wandering many years ago on a back road in
For about $100,000, a South Korean
firm “reincarnated” Shannon in three
pups: Tess, short for “test tube,” and
DiNA, a play on DNA, who live in Beverly Hills; and Evita, who lives in Cloudwalk, the Connecticut home of Mr. Diller
and Ms. von Furstenberg.
“These dogs, they’re the soul of Shannon,” he says. “Diane was horrified that
I was doing this but she’s switched now
to say, ‘Thank God you did.’”
Mr. Diller has started a trend in Hollywood, inspiring his friend Barbra
Streisand, desolate over the loss of her
Coton de Tulear, Samantha, to clone her.
Doesn’t he want to clone himself into a
“Killer Diller,” as his protégés, including
Jeffrey Katzenberg, Michael Eisner and
Uber’s Dara Khosrowshahi, are known?
“God forbid,” he says with a grimace.
I ask Mr. Diller what he thought of Sacha
Baron Cohen’s joke at David Geffen’s recent birthday party at Jimmy Iovine’s
house in Los Angeles that Mr. Geffen,
Mr. Diller and the other starry billionaires and millionaires there represented
“the world’s third-largest economy.”
“It is a funny joke,” he says. “It’s close
to true.”
Is it a cool club to be in, I wonder, or a
back-stabbing one?
“For me, it’s stimulating,” he says.
“Diane hates it. So I am both in it, because I like it, and ripped out of it, because Diane says, ‘Too much money, too
many rich people, let’s go.’ I’ve got a
good personal boomerang process.”
He says he met Mr. Geffen, whom he
considers “family,” when the two were
teenagers in the William Morris mailroom in Los Angeles.
“It’s Christmastime and this scrawny
person comes into the mailroom and he
said, ‘I’m in the mailroom at William
Morris in New York. I had a week off for
the holiday so I wanted to come and
work here.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, my God,
on your vacation?’ Because for me, vacation was Hawaii.”
We talk about how Hollywood has
changed, and I ask how the #MeToo era
will affect the content of movies.
“ ‘Red Sparrow’ has some of the most
violent and extreme sexual messiness
that you could imagine,” he says. “O.K.,
it was made a year and a half ago. Would
it be made today in the same way? Probably so. So I don’t think it affects content.
“I mean, if you take the effect of
pornography on young people today.
Pornography until recently was fairly
staid. Today, online, pornography is so
extreme and so varied, with such expressions of fetishism and other things
that boys are seeing. The idea of normal
sex and normal romance has to be adversely affected by that.”
Once, Hollywood taught us about desire and sex and romance, giving us a
vocabulary for these experiences. But
no more. I wonder what will happen as
girls emboldened by the fall of male
predators collide with boys indoctrinated by pornography.
“I see it in our companies, where the
relationships between people are
changing,” Mr. Diller says. “We recently
had a formal complaint made by a woman who said that she was at a convention
with her colleagues and she was asked
to have a drink with her boss. Period.
That was the complaint. And we said,
‘Here’s the thing. Anybody can ask you
anything, other than let’s presume
something illegal, and you have the
right to say “Yes” or “No.” If it’s “Yes,” go
in good health and if it’s “No,” then it’s
full stop.’
‘‘Are we really going to have only
capital punishment? Because
right now, that’s what we have.
You get accused, you’re
“But the end result of that is a guy,
let’s presume he is heterosexual, and his
boss, heterosexual, and guy asks guy for
a drink and they go have a drink and
they talk about career opportunities.
And the boss says, ‘Oh, this is a smart
guy. I’m promoting him.’ A woman now
cannot be in that position. So all these
things are a-changin’.
“God knows, I’m hardly a sociologist.
But I hope in the future for some form of
reconciliation. Because I think all men
are guilty. I’m not talking about rape and
pillage. I’m not talking about Harveyesque. I’m talking about all of the
spectrum. From an aggressive flirt. Or
even just a flirty-flirt that has one sour
note in it. Or what I think every man was
guilty of, some form of omission in attitude, in his views. Are we really going to
have only capital punishment? Because
right now, that’s what we have. You get
accused, you’re obliterated. Charlie
Rose ceases to exist.”
Barry Diller at home in Beverly Hills. He says President Trump ‘‘was a man of bad character from the moment he entered adulthood.’’
“They’re tech people. They don’t
have a lot of romance in them.
They don’t have a lot of nuance
in them.”
Mr. Diller is the chairman of the board of
Expedia, and his IAC owns a gaggle of
internet properties, including Vimeo,, Investopedia, Tinder,
Match and OkCupid. I wonder how he
thinks online dating is reshaping the culture.
“It’s just like the princess phone
evolved to the internet,” he says.
“ has caused God knows how
many more marriages than bars ever
did. And now I’m starting to hear that
out of Tinder. It’s funny, though, on Bumble, the women get to choose first and
they don’t want to. I liked the sheer adventure of romance before online dating, which is less appealing to me.”
I ask Mr. Diller, a Los Angeles native,
about a comment made to me by the
playwright and TV writer Jon Robin
Baitz, another Los Angeles native, that
Hollywood is no longer relevant politically and culturally.
“Does Hollywood reflect in any possible sense what is happening in the
world?” Mr. Baitz asked. “Hollywood
abdicated films and became an empty
exercise in male capes and superheroes.
Can you imagine anyone now making
‘Norma Rae,’ ‘Silkwood,’ ‘Five Easy
Pieces,’ ‘Reds’?”
Since Mr. Diller was running Paramount in 1981 when Warren Beatty and
Diane Keaton made Mr. Beatty’s epic
“Reds,” he should know.
“What an undertaking,” Mr. Diller
says. “But isn’t it amazing how it
Calling “Red Sparrow” “awful” and
“The Shape of Water” “beautiful but
silly,” he says he wouldn’t want to run a
movie studio now. “It would be like saying, do I want to own a horse-and-buggy
company? The idea of a movie is losing
its meaning.”
Of the Academy Awards nominees
this year, he said, “essentially, no one
went to see them.”
Growing up in Beverly Hills with a father in the construction business — he
Manhattan from her Connecticut house
— Mr. Diller likes to drive fast — they
saw an octogenarian couple crossing
the street slowly, holding on to each
“Both of us at the same time thought
exactly the same thing: ‘One day, we
will be that couple,’” she recalls. “The
only thing we disagree on is, he thinks it
was Madison Avenue and I say it was
The other quality his friends talk
about is his voracious curiosity.
“When he knows about something, he
knows more about it than anyone else,
and when he doesn’t know something,
he wants to know more about it than
anybody else,” says Scott Rudin, who
has produced movies, plays and television with Mr. Diller (including “Lady
Bird” for the screen and “Betrayal,”
“The Humans,” “A Doll’s House, Part 2,”
“Three Tall Women” and “Carousel” for
Broadway). Mr. Rudin is also helping his
friend develop the so-called Diller Island, an undulating pier floating on piles
in the Hudson River adjacent to the
meatpacking district.
Given that Mr. Diller helped create
the Fox Broadcasting Company with
Rupert Murdoch — and blessedly
greenlighted “The Simpsons” — I wonder if he feels like Dr. Frankenstein.
“I left Fox before Fox News came into
being,” he says. About the sale of Fox to
Disney, he notes that his former boss
“played a bad hand very well.”
I observe that he called Harvey Weinstein out publicly as a bully early on.
Mr. Diller recalls that once in Cannes,
when he was the chief executive of Universal, Stacey Snider, the head of the
movie division, told him that “Harvey
had treated her terribly and made her
cry. So the next day I saw Harvey on the
terrace at Hotel du Cap and I said, ‘Harvey, don’t ever treat an executive at my
company that way. Don’t you ever talk to
anyone in that manner.’
“And Harvey, about six feet away,
said, ‘I’m going to throw you off the terrace.’ And this gorilla, because he looks
like a gorilla, starts walking towards me,
right? And truly, I was scared. I thought,
how, without cutting and running like a
chicken, do I stop him? And somehow a
bear came into my mind.” He says he
pulled himself up into a menacing
stance, as you’re supposed to do if you
have to confront a bear.
“And it so surprised him that he
stopped and I got out with a small
amount of honor,” he says.
(Ms. Snider told Kim Masters in a
2007 Esquire article that Mr. Diller was
such a tough boss that she was brought
to tears after she made a blunder at a
meeting. Mr. Diller apologized to her afterward.)
He adds: “Other than psychopaths, I
think all of this bad behavior is finished.”
Speaking of bad behavior, I ask if he
knew Mr. Trump back in the day in Manhattan.
He said that when he was in his
mid-30s, running Paramount, Mr.
Trump invited him to lunch.
“And you know when people compliment you without foundation?” Mr.
Diller says. “And they do it too much?
It’s really irritating. It’s kind of offensive. And he spent the entire time saying
how great I was. He didn’t know me. And
afterward, I walked around the corner
and I thought, ‘I never want to see that
man again.’ Decades passed and we
would run into each other, but I literally
never spoke to him again.”
Diane von Furstenberg and her husband, Mr. Diller, at the Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last year.
says there are still streets out here
named “Dillerdale” and “Barrydale” —
Mr. Diller was able to see the twilight of
the men who invented Hollywood.
“They were real characters —
overblown, exuberant, nasty, but each of
them in their own way were genuinely
interesting people,” he says. “The only
thing that I’ve learned, that I think I’ve
had some instinct for, is instinct. And
these people operated completely out of
instinct. As against today, when people
operate out of research and marketing.”
He says that Netflix and Amazon
have blasted Hollywood into “a completely different universe.”
“It’s something that’s never happened in media before, when Netflix got
a lot of subscribers early on and made
the brilliant decision to pour it into original production, like spending more than
$100 million dollars to make ‘House of
Cards,’ instead of buying old stuff,” he
says. “It blows my mind. It’s like a giant
vacuum cleaner came and pushed all
the other vacuum cleaners aside. And
they cannot be outbid. No one can compete with them.”
He calls Reed Hastings, the chief executive of Netflix, the most remarkable
person in the media business: “He has
so much original thinking in so many different areas, he’s really impressive.”
I ask how the tech community’s noxious bro culture will affect the business
here, given that Hollywood already has
such entrenched sexism.
“They’re tech people,” he says with a
shrug. “They don’t have a lot of romance
in them. They don’t have a lot of nuance
in them. Their lives are ones and zeros.”
But they can grow, he says. “When I met
Bill Gates, I would say he had the emotional quotient of a snail. And now you
can see him cry.”
He corrects me when I call the tech ti-
tans our overlords. “Our overlords are
not them,” he says. “Our overlords are
artificial intelligence.”
At several points during our threehour interview, Mr. Diller stops to ask
me if this is any fun. When I assure him
it’s fascinating, he looks skeptical.
“Yeah, right,” he says. “Don’t seduce
me. I’m a very seducible person.” He
also says he’s a “jinxable” person.
Ms. von Furstenberg says that when
she met Mr. Diller 43 years ago, “What I
found so incredibly appealing is that behind the very forceful, determined and
engaged human being, there was shyness and reservation. He’s not a pig. I
mean, in no way.”
He impressed her immediately on a
trip to Las Vegas by driving his banana
yellow Jaguar E-Type sports car barefoot and talking a policeman out of giving him a speeding ticket.
On another occasion, driving fast to
He says he has gone to a couple of
Broadway shows recently with Hillary
Clinton and that “she’s well with herself
again and she has a role to play.”
After the interview, when the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, I call
him to see what he makes of Facebook’s
“Since the beginning of media and advertising, the holy grail has been the
precise targeting of the ads,” he says.
“Along comes the internet with almost
perfect aim, and now the entire concept
is being called antisocial. That’s a most
ironic but momentous thing.”
Mr. Diller’s friends say he is quiet
about his philanthropy. He flinches
when I use the term “Diller Island,” saying it should be called “Pier 55.”
He says he is now working on an idea
concocted by Alex von Furstenberg, Diane’s son whom Mr. Diller also calls his
son, to build a gondola up to the Hollywood sign and a circular catwalk around
it, so that people can tour and hike
around it.
He is very proud of the success of the
High Line, the elevated park he helped
fund on the West Side of Manhattan.
“Who would have dreamed so many
people would come?” he marvels.
Andrew M. Cuomo, the governor of
New York, pulled the Hudson Island
project, a $250 million family park and
cultural center, out of the ashes, moving
past attempts by Douglas Durst to block
“The delay cost us $25 million or
something like that,” Mr. Diller says.
“But here’s the thing: My family’s lucky.
So who’s counting? Can I actually say,
‘Who’s counting?’ That’s awful. But it’s
true. There’s a lot about the absurdity of
wealth. I have so many friends who continue to make absurd amounts of money
and count it. I think if you’re really lucky,
who’s counting?”
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2018 | 15
Gaza screams for life
injured men,
clowns —
here are
some of the
who faced off
with Israeli
Rawan Yaghi
MALAKA, GAZA STRIP The five veiled
women were gesturing, confidently, at
other women to get closer. They
wanted more voices to join in. My
friend and I had already made it past
the designated protest line and were
next to the journalists and the ambulances standing by. We got closer still.
Rhythmically, the women chanted
“Going Back,” a cult song by the Palestinian activist poet Abu Arab, drawing
demonstrators into their small concert.
They ululated and then sang some
A couple of children were jumping
up and down, screaming out the few
lyrics they knew: “I will return to my
country. To the green land, I will return.” The crowd, a few hundred
strong, armed with nothing but cellphones, clapped
along. People stood
The demon a farmer’s land,
on the edge of Alseemed to
Zaytun, an eastern
say: We have
area of Gaza City,
nothing to
looking out onto the
green fields beyond
lose, so we
the Israeli snipers’
come here to
helmets and sand
scream our
lungs out.
A group of clowns
with white face paint
and red noses
squeaked noisily in the rising and
falling tones of Gaza’s Arabic dialect
and hopped around. One of them
grabbed a mic in front of a TV camera
and started imitating news correspondents, quacking unintelligibly but
as determined as if he were saying real
This was Sunday. On Friday, the first
day of what was supposed to be an
extended peaceful sit-in, Israeli soldiers had shot into another crowd of
some 30,000 Palestinians who had
gathered by the border to commemorate the killing in 1976 of six Palestinian citizens of Israel during another
protest still, over Israel’s expropriation
of Arab land. At least 15 demonstrators
were killed last week.
On Sunday, people lined up some
200 meters away from the fence separating them from the Israeli soldiers.
Palestinian men in civilian clothes
wouldn’t allow them any closer. Only
one man in a mobility scooter couldn’t
be stopped from entering the hot zone
between the crowd and the fence.
When he entered the area, several
rounds of bullets sounded out, but he
wasn’t hit. “They don’t want to kill
another disabled activist,” one of the
journalists said. He was referring to
Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, who had lost his
legs (reportedly in a 2008 Israeli
airstrike) and was shot in the head
during a demonstration in the West
Bank in December. “Otherwise, he
would have been killed a while ago,”
the journalist added, about the man in
the special scooter.
More bursts came, sudden and loud.
The protesters got down. When they
realized it was tear gas that had been
fired, they straightened up. Lines of
white smoke streaked up the blue sky
and then dropped to the ground; a low
cloud draped the figure of the disabled
man on his machine. Moments later,
paramedics rushed to help him. Eleven
people were injured on Sunday in
various protests throughout the Gaza
Strip, according to Gaza’s health ministry.
One of the women who had been
howling, her eyes lined in kohl and
blurry with tears, said: “This march is
uniting us, if nothing else. Men and
women of all backgrounds.” A sense of
togetherness did seem to have developed among the small number of
people gathered in front of the lurking
Israeli snipers.
“It’s not a march to return to our
land at this very moment. It’s a way
for us to speak and to raise our voices,”
the woman said. Behind the protesters
three boys aged 10 to 13 were playing
football, kicking the ball high in the
sky, well within range of the snipers’
The protesters who gathered under
the burning midday sun displayed a
kind of resigned hope. As if to say: We
have nothing to lose, so we come here
to scream our lungs out. Some knew
well that they risked more than burned
skin and a sore throat; they had been
injured on Friday. One man came on
crutches and hopped about on one
foot, the other foot swinging from a
scaffolding of metal sticks and screws.
I left the protest thinking of the rest
of Gaza — shellshocked for years, its
borders closed and its United Nationsfunded infrastructure in decay. I
thought of the kids in my neighborhood who play football in what used to
be the ground floor of a tall residential
building, with bare concrete columns
and poking iron rods as their only
audience. And I thought: Once again,
Gaza the Injured has come out to
protest, and to scream for life.
a writer based in Gaza,
contributed to the 2014 anthology
“Gaza Writes Back.”
2018: HAL’s odyssey to reality
Fifty years
after its
A Space
prescient —
an allegory
about how
can be
Michael Benson
FRANKFURT It’s a testament to the
lasting influence of Stanley Kubrick
and Arthur C. Clarke’s film “2001: A
Space Odyssey,” which turns 50 this
week, that the disc-shaped card commemorating the German Film Museum’s new exhibition on the film is
wordless, but instantly recognizable.
Its face features the Cyclopean red eye
of the HAL-9000 supercomputer;
nothing more needs saying.
Viewers will remember HAL as the
overseer of the giant, ill-fated interplanetary spacecraft Discovery. When
asked to hide from the crew the goal of
its mission to Jupiter — a point made
clearer in the novel version of “2001”
than in the film — HAL gradually runs
amok, eventually killing all the astronauts except for their wily commander,
Dave Bowman. In an epic showdown
between man and machine, Dave,
played by Keir Dullea, methodically
lobotomizes HAL even as the computer pleads for its life in a terminally
decelerating soliloquy.
Cocooned by their technology, the
film’s human characters appear semiautomated — component parts of their
gleaming white mother ship. As for
HAL — a conflicted artificial intelligence created to provide flawless,
objective information but forced to
“live a lie,” as Mr. Clarke put it — the
computer was quickly identified by the
film’s initial viewers as its most human
This transfer of identity between
maker and made is one reason “2001”
retains relevance, even as we put
incipient artificial intelligence technologies to increasingly problematic
In “2001,” the ghost in Discovery’s
machinery is a consciousness engineered by human ingenuity and therefore as prone to mistakes as any human. In the Cartesian sense of thinking, and therefore being, it has
achieved equality with its makers and
has seen fit to dispose of them. “This
mission,” HAL informs Dave, “is too
important to allow you to jeopardize
Asked in April 1968 whether human-
Keir Dullea as Dave Bowman, the mission leader in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Below, the eye of the malevolent HAL-9000 computer.
ity risked being “dehumanized” by its
technologies, Mr. Clarke replied: “No.
We’re being superhumanized by
them.” While all interpretations of the
film were valid, he said, in his view the
human victory over Discovery’s computer might prove pyrrhic.
Indeed, with its prehistoric “Dawn of
Man” opening and a grand finale in
which Dave is reborn as an eerily
weightless Star Child, “2001” overtly
references Nietzsche’s concept that we
are but an intermediate stage between
our apelike ancestors and the Übermensch, or “Beyond Man.” (Decades
after Nietzsche’s death, the Nazis
deployed a highly selective reading of
his ideas, while ignoring Nietzsche’s
antipathy to both anti-Semitism and
pan-German nationalism.)
In Nietzsche’s concept, the Übermensch is destined to rise like a
phoenix from the Western world’s tired
Judeo-Christian dogmas to impose
new values on warring humanity.
Almost a century later, Mr. Clarke
implied that human evolution’s next
stage could well be machine intelligence itself. “No species exists forever; why should we expect our
species to be immortal?” he wrote.
We have yet to engineer a HAL-type
A.G.I. (artificial general intelligence)
capable of human-style thought. Instead, we’re experiencing the incremental, disruptive arrival of components of such an intelligence. Its semisentient algorithms learn from text,
image and video without explicit supervision. Its automated discovery of
patterns in that data is called “machine
This kind of A.I. lies behind facialrecognition algorithms now in use by
Beijing to control China’s 1.4 billion
inhabitants and by Western societies to
forestall terrorist attacks.
In Mr. Clarke’s novel, HAL’s aberrant
behavior was attributable to contradic-
tory programming. In today’s hyperpartisan context, a mix of machine
learning, networks of malicious bots
and related A.I. technologies based on
simulating human thought processes
are being used to manipulate the human mind’s comparatively sluggish
“wetware.” Recent revelations about
stolen Facebook user data being weaponized by Cambridge Analytica and
deployed to exploit voters’ hopes and
fears underlines that disinformation
has become a critical issue of our time.
We should consider just whose mission it is that’s too important to jeopardize these days. Does anybody doubt
that the clumsy language and inept
cultural references of the Russian trolls
who seeded divisive pro-Trump messages during the 2016 election will
improve as A.I. gains sophistication?
Of course, algorithm-driven mass
manipulation is only one weapon in
propagandists’ arsenals, alongside
television and ideologically slanted talk
radio. But its reach is growing, and it’s
a back door by which viral falsehoods
infiltrate our increasingly acrimonious
collective conversation.
Traditional media — “one transmitter, millions of receivers” — contain an
inherently totalitarian structure. Add
machine learning, and a feedback loop
of toxic audiovisual content can reverberate in the echo chamber of social
media as well, linking friends with an
ersatz intimacy that leaves them particularly susceptible to manipulation.
Further amplified and retransmitted by
Fox News and right-wing radio, it’s
ready to beam into the mind of the
spectator in chief during his “executive
Where does HAL’s red gaze come in?
Set aside the troubling prospect of
what might unfold when a genuinely
intelligent, self-improving A.G.I. is
created — presumably the arrival of
Nietzsche’s Übermensch. What’s in
question even with current incipient
A.I. technologies is who gets to control
them. Even as some devise new medicines and streamline agriculture with
them, others use them as powerful
forces in opposition to Enlightenment
values — liberty, tolerance and constitutional governance.
Democracy depends on a shared
consensual reality — something that’s
being willfully undermined. Seemingly
just yesterday, peer-to-peer social
networks were heralded as a revolutionary liberation from centralized
information controls, and thus tools of
individual human free will. We still
have it in our power to purge malicious
abuse of these systems, but Facebook,
Twitter, YouTube and others would
need to plow much more money into
policing their networks — perhaps by
themselves deploying countermeasures based on A.I. algorithms. Meanwhile, we should demand that a new,
tech-savvy generation of leaders recognizes this danger and devises regulatory solutions that don’t hurt our First
Amendment rights. A neat trick, of
course — but the problem cannot be
In “2001” ’s cautionary tale, HAL’s
directive to deceive Discovery’s crew
leads to death and destruction — but
also, ultimately, to the computer’s defeat by Dave, the one human survivor
on board.
We should be so lucky.
a writer and artist, is
the author, most recently, of “Space
Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C.
Clarke and the Making of a Masterpiece.”
Palestinian women near the IsraelGaza border on
March 29, a day
before the start of
a six-week sit-in
by Palestinians
that turned
16 | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2018
Will U.S. tariffs start a farm crisis?
A.G. SULZBERGER, Publisher
Robert Leonard
DEAN BAQUET, Executive Editor
MARK THOMPSON, Chief Executive Officer
JOSEPH KAHN, Managing Editor
STEPHEN DUNBAR-JOHNSON, President, International
TOM BODKIN, Creative Director
JEAN-CHRISTOPHE DEMARTA, Senior V.P., Global Advertising
SUZANNE DALEY, Associate Editor
ACHILLES TSALTAS, V.P., International Conferences
KNOXVILLE, IOWA Donald Trump won
CHARLOTTE GORDON, V.P., International Consumer Marketing
over 60 percent of the 2016 vote in
rural Iowa, where I live, and I haven’t
heard much concern from Republicans
over the president’s alleged infidelities
with a porn actress, his ties to Russia
or Jared Kushner’s real estate shenanigans.
Or, for that matter, much concern
about the administration scandals
about wife beaters, Saudi princes, Ben
Carson’s table or Scott Pruitt’s soundproof room. Many people don’t even
know these scandals exist — they
generally don’t lead in Sean Hannity’s
or Tucker Carlson’s world.
Sure, there is a little rumbling about
the increased deficit, but not much.
Besides, it’s the fault of Congress, in
particular the Democrats.
But people here — Republicans and
JAMES BENNET, Editorial Page Editor
HELEN KONSTANTOPOULOS, V.P., International Circulation
JAMES DAO, Deputy Editorial Page Editor
HELENA PHUA, Executive V.P., Asia-Pacific
KATHLEEN KINGSBURY, Deputy Editorial Page Editor
SUZANNE YVERNÈS, International Chief Financial Officer
Israel must
temper its
lethal response
to protests
in the Gaza
tinder box,
or risk an
neither it nor
the Palestinian
can contain.
Palestinians in Gaza are among the world’s most desperate people. For more than a decade, their 140-squaremile strip has been blockaded by Israel and Egypt,
sharply restricting the flow of goods and people. Indeed,
many Gazans have never left the enclave, a grim measure of their prolonged isolation.
Unemployment is more than 40 percent for the general
population and nearly 60 percent for Palestinian youths.
Last month, the United Nations warned of an imminent
humanitarian disaster if global donors did not contribute
$539 million for fuel for critical water, sanitation and
health facilities, most for Gaza and its two million people.
The remainder of the money would go to Palestinians in
the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Under such conditions, it is no wonder that pent-up
frustrations would erupt in protests, as they did last
Friday. Responding to the demonstrations, Israeli forces
killed 17 Palestinians at the border fence that separates
Israel from Gaza. More than 1,000 Palestinians were
injured. It was the worst violence since the Gaza war of
Israel has a right to defend itself and maintain civil
order, but it also has an obligation to respect peaceful
protests and not use live ammunition on unarmed demonstrators. Israel’s response appears to have been excessive, as human rights groups have asserted.
Amnesty International called on Israel to immediately
end its “heavy handed, and often lethal, suppression of
Palestinian demonstrations.” Peace Now said that the
casualties are “an intolerable result of a trigger-happy
policy.” Shlomo Brom, a retired brigadier general at
Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, told The
Times that while the military probably decided to use
lethal force as a deterrent, “In my opinion they should
have planned from the beginning to use minimal force
and to prevent casualties.”
Israel said it acted judiciously to prevent a dangerous
breach of its borders and sovereignty led by Hamas, the
Islamic militant group that controls Gaza, and to protect
nearby communities. No one actually crossed the fence
on Friday.
Competing videos told competing stories. The Israeli
version appeared to show a Hamas fighter shooting at
Israeli forces while other Palestinians were seen hurling
stones, tossing Molotov cocktails and rolling burning
tires at the fence. Palestinian videos on social media
appeared to show unarmed protesters being shot by
An independent and transparent investigation is an
obvious way to get at the truth. But with President
Trump backing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of
Israel, the United States on Saturday blocked a move in
the United Nations Security Council calling for such an
inquiry. The European Union has also urged an independent investigation.
Friday’s protests, which drew tens of thousands of
Palestinians to the Gaza boundary, were the start of a
six-week campaign called the Great Return March. The
organizers said it was intended as a peaceful sit-in to
raise awareness of the blockade of Gaza and to support
Palestinians’ demand to return to homes lost in 1948 in
what is now Israel. More than two-thirds of Gazans are
refugees from villages that have since been destroyed
and their descendants.
Such goals seem farther away than ever. Neither Mr.
Netanyahu nor Mr. Trump has shown serious interest in
a two-state solution that would give Palestinians their
own country and resolve central questions about land,
refugees, borders and security, even though Mr. Trump
says a peace deal is a priority. Under Mr. Netanyahu,
Israel has expanded its claims to land that Palestinians
seek for their own state.
Instead of easing tensions and resolving the political
questions at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
Mr. Trump has exacerbated the situation, most recently
by unilaterally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of
Israel, in exchange for nothing, and declaring his intention to move the American embassy there from Tel Aviv.
For decades, the international community, including the
United States, has said Jerusalem’s fate should be decided in Israeli-Palestinians negotiations.
Palestinian leaders have also failed their people. Hamas leaders who run Gaza have waged war against
Israel, exploiting their people in the process. Their rival,
the Palestinian Authority, has been feckless at pursuing
peace with Israel and last year imposed its own punitive
measures on Gaza, including cutting salaries, in a bid to
end Hamas’s control.
On May 15, Palestinians in Gaza plan to observe the
70th anniversary of what they call the “nakba,” or “catastrophe,” when 750,000 Palestinians fled or were driven
from their homes in what is now Israel, by breaking
through the border fence and marching toward their
former villages. The demonstration will come the day
after Israel celebrates the 70th anniversary of its independence and the United States formally opens its embassy in Jerusalem.
Unless someone steps up to end Gaza’s humanitarian
disaster, ensure Israel and the Palestinians act with
restraint during the protests and set a credible peace
process in motion, both sides could face a new catastrophe.
Democrats alike — are paying great
attention to what President Trump is
doing economically, especially since he
started in on tariffs. We have a strong
manufacturing base in our county;
when tariffs on aluminum and steel
were announced, local manufacturing
leaders tried to be diplomatic, praising
the Trump tax cuts but saying the steel
and aluminum tariffs would hurt their
businesses by driving costs up.
One smaller manufacturer — a
Trump voter — told me that his costs
to produce his product nearly doubled
overnight, and that his business has
already been hurt by the tariffs. Prices
didn’t rise only after the tariffs were
announced; they started rising when
Mr. Trump floated the idea.
But it’s the farm economy that rural
Iowans are paying particular attention
to. When the president first proposed a
20 percent import tax on Mexico to pay
for his wall, Iowans objected: Mexico
is our second-largest export partner
after Canada.
Mr. Trump has waffled on the renewable fuel standard before — ethanol is
big around here — and Iowa’s entire
congressional delegation and the governor’s office pressured him to renew
it. We know he will waffle again, and
potentially end it.
Most recently,
Mr. Trump
imposed $60 billion
in tariffs and sancwill abandon
tions against China,
the president
the Iowa Soybean
if his tariffs
Association said his
hurt business. action “poses an
immediate and grave
threat to their industry and Iowa agriculture.”
Senator Joni Ernst and Iowa’s agriculture secretary, Mike Naig, say the
tariffs will hurt Iowans, and Mr. Naig
says we need to expand markets, not
shrink them. Senator Chuck Grassley
said something similar, on Fox News:
“Tariffs do not put America first — low
barriers and expanded access do.”
China has already responded with its
own tariff on pork, which will have a
dire impact on Iowa. Iowa is the nation’s largest pork producer, producing
three times as much pork as the nexthighest state.
A couple of banker friends who work
with farmers every day told me last
week that with commodity prices down
and the tariffs imposed, approximately
10 percent of our farmers probably
won’t make it this year, and 10 percent
more will likely fail next year. They also
shared the news that in Iowa, larger
agribusinesses are buying up smaller
farms that are in financial trouble, and
that people are starting to make comparisons to the farm crisis of the 1980s,
when approximately 10,000 Iowa farmers lost their farms.
Even Representative Steve King, the
avid Trump supporter and Iowan every
liberal loves to hate, is worried about a
new farm crisis.
Dairy farmers are particularly hard
hit, suffering through four years of
declining prices. It’s gotten so bad,
dairy farming organizations are giving
out suicide hotline numbers, as farmers
are committing suicide in the hope that
their insurance will save the family
I’m focusing on the area I know, rural
Iowa, but if the president stays on
course with the tariffs, the impacts will
hit many rural areas all over America,
what I call Trumplandia.
“It gives Democrats a generational
opportunity to do the political work
with farmers they haven’t done since
the 1980s farm crisis,” said Matt Russell, a rural sociologist and farmer in
Iowa. “Democrats do farm policy really
well but are terrible at farm politics.
Republicans do farm politics really well
but have a history of doing terrible
farm policy.”
Harvest will be coming in when
members of Congress, in recess, return
to Iowa to campaign. They will be
getting earfuls from rural constituents
about the economic impacts of Mr.
Trump’s tariffs.
The president’s position is actually
quite precarious. He’s already at a
historic low approval rating. With the
multiple scandals, rampant corruption
and the Mueller investigation, the only
thing keeping him near 40 percent
approval — and most important, approval among most Republicans — is a
strong economy. That, and Fox cheerleading. But if he tanks the rural economy, he and his legacy are in deep
Furthermore, if the rural economy
turns sour, much of rural America will
abandon Mr. Trump, and Fox may have
no choice but to follow.
Then it’s just a matter of time before
they will turn with the hope that a
Trump impeachment and a Pence
presidency will save the economy, the
conservative gains that have been
made under Trump, and the Republican
Party. They’ll believe that they have no
choice, and it will be swift and ruthless.
is the news director for
the radio stations KNIA and KRLS.
Deciphering the trouble in Trumpland
Paul Krugman
These days almost everyone has the
(justified) sense that America is coming apart at the seams. But this isn’t a
new story, or just about politics. Things
have been falling apart on multiple
fronts since the 1970s: Political polarization has marched side by side with
economic polarization, as income
inequality has soared.
And both political and economic
polarization have a strong geographic
dimension. On the economic side, some
parts of America, mainly big coastal
cities, have been getting much richer,
but other parts have been left behind.
On the political side, the thriving regions by and large voted for Hillary
Clinton, while the lagging regions
voted for Donald Trump.
I’m not saying that everything is
great in coastal cities: Many people
remain economically stranded even
within metropolitan areas that look
successful in the aggregate. And soaring housing costs, thanks in large part
to Nimbyism, are a real and growing
problem. Still, regional economic divergence is real and correlates closely,
though not perfectly, with political
But what’s behind this divergence?
What’s the matter with Trumpland?
Regional disparities aren’t a new
phenomenon in America. Indeed,
before World War II the world’s richest, most productive nation was also a
nation with millions of dirt-poor farmers, many of whom didn’t even have
electricity or indoor plumbing. But
until the 1970s those disparities were
rapidly narrowing.
Take, for example, the case of Mississippi, America’s poorest state. In the
1930s, per-capita income in Mississippi
was only 30 percent as high as percapita income in Massachusetts. By
the late 1970s, however, that figure was
almost 70 percent — and most people
probably expected this process of
convergence to continue.
But the process went into reverse
instead: These days, Mississippi is
back down to only about 55 percent of
Massachusetts income. To put this in
international perspective, Mississippi
now is about as poor relative to the
coastal states as Sicily is relative to
northern Italy.
Mississippi isn’t an isolated case. As
a new paper by Austin, Glaeser and
Summers documents, regional convergence in per-capita incomes has
stopped dead. And the relative economic decline of lagging regions has
been accompanied by growing social
problems: a rising share of prime-aged
men not working, rising mortality, high
levels of opioid consumption.
An aside: One implication of these
developments is that William Julius
Wilson was right. Wilson famously
argued that the social ills of the nonwhite inner-city poor had their origin
not in some mysterious flaws of African-American culture but in economic factors — specifically, the disappearance of good blue-collar jobs. Sure
enough, when rural whites faced a
similar loss of economic opportunity,
On the
they experienced a
similar social unravand politics
of America’s
So what is the
matter with Trumpland?
For the most part
I’m in agreement
with Berkeley’s
Enrico Moretti,
whose 2012 book, “The New Geography of Jobs,” is must reading for anyone trying to understand the state of
America. Moretti argues that structural changes in the economy have fa-
Supporters of President Trump in Richfield, Ohio, last week.
vored industries that employ highly
educated workers — and that these
industries do best in locations where
there are already a lot of these workers. As a result, these regions are
experiencing a virtuous circle of
growth: Their knowledge-intensive
industries prosper, drawing in even
more educated workers, which reinforces their advantage.
And at the same time, regions that
started with a poorly educated work
force are in a downward spiral, both
because they’re stuck with the wrong
industries and because they’re experiencing what amounts to a brain drain.
While these structural factors are
surely the main story, however, I think
we have to acknowledge the role of
self-destructive politics.
That new Austin et al. paper makes
the case for a national policy of aiding
lagging regions. But we already have
programs that would aid these regions
— but which they won’t accept. Many
of the states that have refused to expand Medicaid, even though the federal government would foot the great
bulk of the bill — and would create jobs
in the process — are also among America’s poorest.
Or consider how some states, like
Kansas and Oklahoma — both of which
were relatively affluent in the 1970s,
but have now fallen far behind — have
gone in for radical tax cuts, and ended
up savaging their education systems.
External forces have put them in a
hole, but they’re digging it deeper.
And when it comes to national politics, let’s face it: Trumpland is in effect
voting for its own impoverishment.
New Deal programs and public investment played a significant role in the
great postwar convergence; conservative efforts to downsize government
will hurt people all across America, but
it will disproportionately hurt the very
regions that put the G.O.P. in power.
The truth is that doing something
about America’s growing regional
divide would be hard even with smart
policies. The divide will only get worse
under the policies we’re actually likely
to get.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2018 | 17
Nazi history and ‘Asperger’
Edith Sheffer
PALO ALTO, CALIF. My son’s school,
The most influential man on earth
David Brooks
Who is the most influential human
being on the planet? My vote goes to
Vladimir Putin.
Putin has established himself as one
pole in the great global debate of the
era, the debate between authoritarianism and democracy. He has a coherent strategy to promote his authoritarian side of that debate. He’s able to
humiliate and disrupt his democratic
rivals at will and get away with it. He’s
become a cultural hero to populist
conservatives everywhere — in
France, Italy, the Philippines and the
Oval Office.
People are always saying that Putin
is merely good at playing a weak hand.
Everybody expects him to ultimately
falter because Russia’s economy is so
creaky. But his hand isn’t that weak.
That’s because his power base is not
economic; it’s cultural and ideological.
As Christopher Caldwell writes in
Imprimis, Putin’s international prestige starts with the story he tells. He
came to power, by his telling, after
Western reformers nearly destroyed
his country. Teams of American economists thought that if you privatized
property correctly, the law and order
and social cohesion would take care of
Social catastrophe followed. Russia’s
average life expectancy fell below that
of Bangladesh. The government went
bankrupt. Members of the old Communist nomenklatura plundered the nation’s resources. Successive American
administrations humiliated Russia on
the world stage.
Putin came in and restored stability.
Russian life expectancy is now 71
years, a historic high. The economy
came back. Russia is a world power
again, able, just last week, to flout the
combined diplomatic assault of a raft of
Western nations. After Putin’s 17 years
in power, his domestic approval ratings
hover above 80 percent.
Moreover, in the years ahead Putinist authoritarians will have several key
advantages in the war of ideas.
In the first place, liberal democracy
is built on the idea that power should
be dispersed across a system of relationships and institutions.
Putin stands for the idea that authority should be centralized, with one
leader at the top and iron lines of authority flowing downward. He stands
for the idea that liberal democracy
descends into chaos when there is no
social trust, that it is
a fraud that allows
the well-connected to
plunder everyone
knows the
else. In times of
anxiety and distrust,
of authority.
it’s much easier to
argue for clear centralized authority
than dispersed, amorphous authority.
Second, liberal democracy’s ultimate
loyalty is to an abstraction — to a constitution, a creed and a set of democratic norms. We in the democratic
camp are always alarmed when we see
a Putin or a Donald Trump or a Xi
Jinping trashing norms to amass personal power.
But authoritarianism’s ultimate
loyalty is to a person. The man himself.
As M. Steven Fish put it in The Journal
of Democracy, “Putin is not merely
Russia’s best-known, most powerful
politician; he is its only politician.”
Neither Putin’s followers, nor Trump’s,
nor Xi Jinping’s are bothered by the
trampling of norms, so long as there’s a
person in charge willing to take the
mantle of command.
In times of anxiety and distrust, it’s
much easier to rally people around a
person than an abstraction.
Third, liberal democracy is built on a
faith, a faith in the capacities of individual citizens. Faith, as you know, is
confidence in things hoped for and
evidence of things not seen. We democrats put faith in the idea that people
know best how to run their own lives
and that these individual choices can be
woven into a common fabric.
Putinism, like Trumpism, is based on
a cynicism. It’s based on the idea that
one should have no illusions, be wise to
the ways of the world. People are, as
Machiavelli put it, ungrateful and deceitful, timid of danger and avid for
profit. Rivalry is inevitable. Everything
is partisan. Anybody or any institution
that claims to be objective and above
the fray is a liar.
In this world, everything is public
relations, and the more shameless the
charade the better because people will
believe whatever is in their interest to
In times of anxiety and distrust, it’s
much easier to sell cynicism than idealism.
Finally, liberal democracy is built on
the idea that people who are nothing
like you are still worthy of respect and
attention, that politics is about striking
compromises with people you can
barely stand to be in the same room
Putinism is based on the idea that
people who are unlike you are sowing
cultural chaos; they are undermining
your way of life. Putin is continually
railing against gays, Muslims, atheists,
the “infertile and genderless” West.
In times of anxiety and distrust, it’s a
lot easier to sell us/them distinctions
than tolerance for cultural diversity.
In short, never underestimate this
man or his cause. All over the world
political regimes are adjusting, becoming either a little more authoritarian or
a little more democratic. Right now, the
momentum is clearly in the authoritarian direction. That’s in part because
that side has a brilliant and reckless
figure at its head. It’s also because
when you pause to ask who is the
global leader of the liberal democratic
camp, you come up with no name at all.
India loves data but fails to protect it
very top of the governance pyramid. In
2015, Mr. Modi offered his millions of
followers the “unique opportunity to
receive messages and emails directly
from the prime minister” by downloading the Narendra Modi mobile app.
“No intermediaries, no media, no
officials, no red tape,” it promised. The
Android app alone was downloaded
over five million times.
The trust those millions of citizens
invested in Mr. Modi’s personal app
seems to have been violated. In late
March, a French security researcher
discovered that the Narendra Modi
app shared user data with an American company without the consent of its
users. An investigation by The Indian
Express newspaper revealed the invasiveness of the Modi app: it asked
permission from its users to access
their photographs, contacts, location
data, cameras and microphones. A day
after the revelation, the app’s privacy
policy was changed.
Around the same time, ZDNet, a
technology website, reported that a
webpage hosted by Indane, a liquefied
petroleum gas company owned by the
Indian government, inadvertently
exposed the names, bank details and
Aadhaar numbers of over half a billion
Indians to anyone with the right technical skills.
Karan Saini, a New Delhi-based
security researcher who found the
vulnerability on a late-night bug hunt,
realized that he could make thousands
of requests with random Aadhaar
numbers every minute through the
program and extract information each
time the database responded with a
The Unique Identification Authority
of India, which runs the Aadhaar
project, insisted that its own database
had not been breached and said that it
was “contemplating legal action”
against the publication. The response
was in keeping with the agency’s practice of filing court cases and sending
legal notices to reporters and security
researchers who shine a torch on the
ease with which unauthorized people
can access the data it collects.
Nandan Nilekani, the technology
entrepreneur who oversaw the creation of Aadhaar in 2009 under the
Congress Party-led government, recently raised the possibility of Indians
selling their data for easier credit and
better health care.
Such idealism lives
Every week
beside the reality of
brings new
a society that’s largerevelations
ly digitally illiterate,
about the
where consent is not
fully understood.
Every week brings
gaps in India’s
new revelations
digital infraabout the considerstructure.
able gaps in India’s
digital infrastructure. Compounding
the anxieties is the failure of the Indian
government agencies to act on these
findings when alerted by researchers.
ZDNet informed the National Informatics Center, which builds information technology infrastructure for the
government. The agency didn’t reply.
The publication informed Indane executives as well as the officials overseeing Aadhaar, but they did nothing.
According to Mr. Saini, ZDNet also
informed the Indian Consulate in New
York, but the data remained exposed.
Aadhaar officials insist that their
primary database is safe and that it
hasn’t been breached. They are willfully missing the point. India’s federal
Ministry of Rural Development exposed details of nearly 16 million Aad-
haar numbers. A database of unorganized workers in the southern state of
Andhra Pradesh exposed the details of
over 20 million workers.
Aadhaar’s database might be secure,
but everything else it touches leaks
like a sieve. Technology has ended up
strengthening a dysfunctional bureaucracy that desires efficiency through
data it cannot seem to protect. Worries
about data being misused have been
met with official denial and fury, but no
investigations have been ordered.
Technologists describe these issues
as teething troubles, bugs that will
disappear as systems improve and
uncertainty is gradually removed. But
these instances raise concerns that the
initiatives on technology and governance by the Indian government are
removed from the concerns of the
citizens and implemented with almost
no explanation.
Last year, a journalist trying to
demonstrate weaknesses within the
biometric identification program enrolled once with his real name and
then with a fictitious one. His real
name was rejected. Ajay Bhushan
Pandey, the chief executive officer of
the agency overseeing the program,
told a gathering that the journalist
would have to live “with the fake name
forever. You go to your child’s school
and say your papa’s name has
India’s government is pushing hard
to digitalize the lives of Indian citizens,
but it also needs to bear the responsibility for the violations of citizens’ data
and trust. Indians are hostage to a
government behaving like a tech company, and there is no customer service
in sight.
is writing a book about
technology in the developing world.
David Starr Jordan Middle School, is
being renamed. A seventh grader exposed the honoree, Stanford University’s first president, as a prominent
eugenicist of the early 20th century who
championed sterilization of the “unfit.”
This sort of debate is happening all
over the country, as communities fight
over whether to tear down Confederate
monuments and whether Andrew Jackson deserves to remain on the $20 bill.
How do we decide whom to honor and
whom to disavow?
There are some straightforward
cases: Hitler Squares were renamed
after World War II; Lenin statues were
hauled away after the collapse of the
Soviet Union. But other, less famous
monsters of the past continue to define
our landscape and language.
I have spent the past seven years
researching the Nazi past of Dr. Hans
Asperger. Asperger is credited with
shaping our ideas of autism and Asperger syndrome, diagnoses given to people believed to have limited social skills
and narrow interests.
The official diagnosis of Asperger
disorder has recently been dropped
from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
of Mental Disorders because clinicians
largely agreed it wasn’t a separate
condition from autism. But Asperger
syndrome is still included in the World
Health Organization’s International
Classification of Diseases, which is used
around the globe.
Moreover, the name remains in common usage. It is an archetype in popular
culture, a term we apply to loved ones
and an identity many people with autism adopt for themselves. Most of us
never think about the man behind the
name. But we should.
Asperger was long seen as a resister
of the Third Reich, yet his work was, in
fact, inextricably linked with the rise of
Nazism and its deadly programs.
He first encountered Nazi child psychiatry when he traveled from Vienna to
Germany in 1934, at age 28. His senior
colleagues there were developing diagnoses of social shortcomings for children who they said lacked connection to
the community, uneager to join in collective Reich activities such as the
Hitler Youth.
Asperger at first warned against
classifying children, writing in 1937 that
“it is impossible to establish a rigid set of
criteria for a diagnosis.” But right after
the Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938 —
and the purge of his Jewish and liberal
associates from the University of Vienna — Asperger introduced his own
diagnosis of social detachment: “autistic psychopathy.”
As Asperger sought promotion to
associate professor, his writings about
the diagnosis grew harsher. He stressed
the “cruelty” and “sadistic traits” of the
children he studied, itemizing their
“autistic acts of malice.” He also called
autistic psychopaths “intelligent automata.”
Some laud Asperger’s language about
the “special abilities” of children on the
“most favorable” end of his autistic
“range,” speculating that he applied his
diagnosis to protect them from Nazi
eugenics — a kind of psychiatric Schindler’s list. But this was in keeping with
the selective benevolence of Nazi psychiatry; Asperger
also warned that
This pop
“less favorable
cases” would “roam
the streets” as adults,
honors a
“grotesque and dilapmonster.
Words such as
these could be a
death sentence in the Third Reich. And
in fact, dozens of children whom Asperger evaluated were killed.
Child “euthanasia” was the Reich’s
first program of mass extermination,
begun by Hitler in July 1939 to get rid of
children regarded as a drain on the state
and a danger to its gene pool. Most of
the victims were physically healthy,
neither suffering nor terminally ill.
They were simply deemed to have
physical, mental or behavioral defects.
At least 5,000 children perished in
around 37 “special wards.” Am Spiegelgrund, in Vienna, was one of the deadliest. Killings were done in the youths’
own beds, as nurses issued overdoses of
sedatives until the children grew ill and
died, usually of pneumonia.
Asperger worked closely with the top
figures in Vienna’s euthanasia program,
including Erwin Jekelius, the director of
Am Spiegelgrund, who was engaged to
Hitler’s sister. My archival research,
along with that of other scholars of
euthanasia like Herwig Czech, the
author of a forthcoming paper on this
subject in the journal Molecular Autism,
show that Asperger recommended the
transfer of children to Spiegelgrund.
Dozens of them were killed there.
One of his patients, 5-year-old Elisabeth Schreiber, could speak only one
word, “mama.” A nurse reported that
she was “very affectionate” and, “if
treated strictly, cries and hugs the
nurse.” Elisabeth was killed, and her
brain kept in a collection of over 400
children’s brains for research in Spiegelgrund’s cellar.
In the postwar period, Asperger
distanced himself from his Nazi-era
work on autistic psychopathy. He
turned to religious themes and social
commentary about child rearing. He
would probably have been a footnote in
the history of autism research had it not
been for Lorna Wing, a British psychiatrist who tracked down Asperger’s 1944
article on autistic psychopathy.
She thought it lent important context
to the narrower definition of autism
then in use, and by the early ’80s, “Asperger syndrome,” and the idea of a
broader autism “spectrum,” had entered the medical lexicon.
In 1994, Asperger disorder was added
to the American manual of mental
disorders, where it remained until it was
reclassified in 2013 as autism spectrum
disorder. Yet Asperger syndrome is still
an official diagnosis in most countries.
And it is ubiquitous in popular culture,
where “Aspergery” is too often invoked
to describe general social awkwardness, a stereotype for classmates and
co-workers that overshadows their
Does the man behind the name matter? To medical ethics, it does. Naming a
disorder after someone is meant to
credit and commend, and Asperger
merited neither. His definition of “autistic psychopaths” is antithetical to understandings of autism today, and he
sent dozens of children to their deaths.
Other conditions named after Naziera doctors who were involved in programs of extermination (like Reiter
syndrome) now go by alternative labels
(reactive arthritis). And medicine in
general is moving toward more descriptive labels. Besides, the American Psychiatric Association has ruled that
Asperger isn’t even a useful descriptor.
We should stop saying “Asperger.” It’s
one way to honor the children killed in
his name as well as those still labeled
with it.
a senior fellow at the
Institute of European Studies at the
University of California, Berkeley, is the
author of the forthcoming book, “Asperger’s Children: The Origins of Autism in
Nazi Vienna.”
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18 | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2018
From left: a still from “Horse Day” (2015), a two-screen video that scrambles the tropes of westerns, documentaries and hip-hop; an untitled collage from a series also called “Horse Day”; “Tomorrow Is Far Away” (2017); and another untitled collage.
Urban horsemen invade Paris
An Algerian-French artist
and American equestrians
co-create a visual display
Cowboys remain an American emblem
to the French. They have seen enough
westerns to have a clear idea of what
cowboys should look like: proud, rugged, dirt-flecked — and white.
African-Americans, both enslaved
and free, in fact, accounted for large percentages of cattlemen on horseback in
the Old West. Yet images of black horsemen are rare in the American imagination — and in the Hollywood depictions
that are broadcast worldwide. (The
stereotype of a white cowboy is so enduring that Quentin Tarantino, in his
subversive “Django Unchained,” made
a running joke of bystanders being scandalized by Jamie Foxx’s avenging freed
slave riding into town.)
Redressing that inaccuracy became a
project for the Algerian-French artist
Mohamed Bourouissa, who spent
nearly a year in Philadelphia living
among the young men of the Fletcher
Street Urban Riding Club, one of several
remaining equestrian societies founded
by black riders who migrated north in
the early 20th century.
After months of studying, listening to
the community and making preparatory
drawings, the artist and the horsemen
came together to hold a daylong competition that combined art and horsemanship, staged for the neighborhood. The
results are on view now in “Urban Riders,” at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la
Ville de Paris, which unites Mr.
Bourouissa’s films, sculptures and
drawings with the festive, resourceful
costumes the men of Philadelphia designed for their four-legged collaborators.
Mr. Bourouissa, who was born in Algiers in 1978 and is shortlisted for this
year’s Prix Marcel Duchamp (France's
most prestigious art prize), began his
career as a photographer. His magnificent series “Périphérique” (2005-09), a
precise but devastating comeback to
stereotypes of the French suburbs, with
pictures of black and Arab youths in the
stairwells and underpasses they traverse every day, but posed with the me-
“Fairmount Park” (2015), by Mohamed Bourouissa, one of the components of the exhibition “Urban Riders” at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.
Staging an event to create a
fictional overlay on reality owes
much to an earlier generation of
French artists.
ticulousness of formal portraiture.
With “Urban Riders,” Mr. Bourouissa
took his half-documentary, half-creative
approach to a country with a different
history of race and inequality. In Philadelphia, the Fletcher Street Club has
taught young black men to ride for
nearly a century, conferring pride and
duty on those often denied such rewards. Today, the men and the horses
ride on ungroomed green spaces
hemmed in by dilapidated housing, in a
northern section of the city primed for
The collaboration inevitably came
with cultural and linguistic misunderstandings. At first, these horsemen wondered why a French artist would be interested in them. Mr. Bourouissa won
their trust over time, though, and eventually the club invited him to organize a
“Horse Tuning Expo,” a cross between a
riding competition and a pageant. Mr.
Bourouissa encouraged the Fletcher
Street riders to design bridles, saddles
and decorative caparisons, echoing
souped-up cars. Some riders put on
custom regalia themselves.
At the Musée d’Art Moderne, a wall is
plastered with posters Mr. Bourouissa
made for the competition, in which a
young black boy appears before a pile of
urban detritus, sitting astride a brown
horse festooned with red and silver ribbons. Hanging above the posters is an-
other photograph of a boy climbing concrete stairs on a white stallion. The
raised front hooves echo some of the
most famous equestrian paintings in art
history, from Rubens’s “Saint George
and the Dragon” to Jacques-Louis David’s propagandistic image of Napoleon
on a mountain-climbing steed.
Also on view are the horses’ costumes, some made in collaboration with
local Philadelphia artists: white Pegasus wings, fake flowers or blank CDs
glinting in the gallery light. Dozens of
drawings and collages by Mr.
Bourouissa, made in preparation for the
competition, integrate European painting, screenshots of American westerns
and maps of the Schuylkill River and the
city’s deprived outer reaches.
The competition itself, which took
place in 2014, is documented in “Horse
Day,” a two-screen video that scrambles
the tropes of westerns, documentaries
and hip-hop. Competitors negotiated obstacles and received points for horsemanship and artistic style, while the
neighborhood cheered them on. Mr.
Bourouissa intermingled documentary
footage of the competition with dialogue
that sounds partially scripted, partially
improvised. This is no ethnographic recording by a privileged outsider; it’s a
collaboration across disciplines and languages, whose final form resulted from
artist and riders in tandem.
Mr. Bourouissa’s approach in “Urban
Riders” — staging an event to create a
fictional overlay on reality — owes much
to an earlier generation of French artists, led by Pierre Huyghe, Philippe Parreno and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster,
who also used fiction as a tool to reshape
real life. Mr. Huyghe and his colleagues
rejuvenated French art after many sluggish decades, and it has fallen to a
younger generation to apply their techniques to questions of race and inequality, both at home and abroad.
Alongside Mr. Bourouissa, these artists include Kader Attia and Neïl Beloufa, both currently presenting hard-hitting exhibitions on colonialism and contemporary France at the Palais de Tokyo (next door to the Musée d’Art
Moderne); the duo Joana Hadjithomas
and Khalil Joreige, winners of last year's
Prix Marcel Duchamp, who explore
French and Arab history in both documentary and fictional videos; and Mathieu K. Abonnenc, who excavates the
colonial history of museums through
dreamy video installations.
Viewers at the Louvre or the Met have
been trained to read a portrait of a white
man on horseback: The pairing signifies
the rider’s wealth, dignity, perhaps military prowess and above all dominion —
dominion over animals and the land he
gallops across. A black man on horseback, especially young and casually
dressed, will always appear as a disruption. What Mr. Bourouissa achieves in
“Urban Riders” is much more than a
mere redressing of gaps in representation. He puts fiction in the service of
these city horsemen, so that we may
look not with shock but veneration.
Queen Lear
Glenda Jackson returns
to the American stage in
an Edward Albee revival
Her jaw thrust forward like a prow, her
elfin eyes belying her regal bearing,
her wide-screen mouth wrapping itself
around those slashing, implacable
consonants — they’re all exactly as
you remember them and want them to
be. Or if you’ve never experienced
them, welcome to the pleasure. Either
way, Glenda Jackson is back; even
better, she’s back in a role that’s big
enough to need her.
Aptly, the name of the role is A.
A is the oldest of Edward Albee’s
“Three Tall Women,” now playing on
Broadway (through June 24) in a
torrentially exciting production that
also stars Laurie Metcalf and Alison
Pill. It not only puts an exclamation
point on Ms. Jackson’s long-shelved
acting career but also serves as a
fitting memorial, which is to say a
hilarious and horrifying one, to Albee,
who died in 2016.
Though “Three Tall Women” won
him his third Pulitzer Prize, in 1994,
and marked his return from the critical
wilderness after two decades of disrepute, this is the play’s Broadway premiere. Joe Mantello’s chic, devastating
staging at the Golden Theater was
worth the wait.
The wait for Ms. Jackson seemed
less likely to be rewarded. A highbrow
star of film and television in the 1970s,
with two best actress Oscars and a
handful of Emmys, she pulled the plug
on her acting career in 1992 when
elected to the House of Commons on
the Labour ticket. That doesn’t mean
she stopped performing, exactly, as her
fiery speeches often proved.
But by the time she retired from
politics, in 2015, few expected the
79-year-old onstage again. Then came
an exhilarating “King Lear” at the Old
Vic in 2016, announcing that she had
lost none of her power and verve.
So how do you top “King Lear”?
In a way, “Three Tall Women” — a
comedy about decrepitude or a tragedy about survival, depending on how
you look at it — is “Queen Lear” in a
fun house mirror.
A is a rich old lady, 92 but vainly
pretending to be 91, with all the imperiousness, mischief and grit that suggests. She spends most of her time
abusing the memory of a bad marriage
and an even worse son — worse because gay. Still, you are never sure how
much of what she says is true; her
grievances, like her racism, antiSemitism and homophobia, seem almost rote.
For A, hanging on to a sense of
identity means maintaining the enamel
shell of her narcissism even as she
forgets what she once found so fascinating inside it. Ms. Jackson, in a lilac
dressing gown and a marcelled silver
wig, digs deep into that contradiction,
producing huge laughs from the grim
idea that awfulness is a damn good
habit as death hovers.
The audience for her awfulness, in
the first act anyway, consists of Ms.
Metcalf as B, her fiftyish seen-it-all
caretaker, and Ms. Pill as C, an uptight
twentysomething emissary from her
lawyer’s office, trying to bring order to
a chaos of unpaid bills. Ms. Metcalf,
spiky and floppy, is particularly mordant in this material, sometimes bullying and sometimes coddling A in an
effort to get through another unpleasant day with minimal fuss. Confined to
her employer’s grand bedroom, she is
a visual joke, stomping around in gray
pants and sneakers.
Ms. Pill, in the least developed role,
nevertheless suggests a youthful vanity as powerful as A’s. In her own hard
shell of a navy pinstripe suit, she is
tart, verging on pitiless; you feel her
need to distance herself from the
prospect of becoming exactly the same
kind of woman.
And then, in the second act, here
performed continuously with the first,
her nightmare comes true.
Having slyly acclimatized the audience to a naturalistic comedy about the
frailty of memory, Albee reshuffles the
cards. After a boffo stage trick straight
out of vaudeville, he lands you in a new
world, in which A, B and C are no
longer different women but the same
one, refracted, at different ages.
In the new configuration, with the
cast dressed in coordinated purples —
the superb costumes are by Ann Roth
— the tone darkens even as the play
remains raucously funny. You may
never have heard a dirty story about a
man’s anatomy told as Ms. Jackson
From left, Laurie Metcalf, Glenda Jackson and Alison Pill in “Three Tall Women.”
does in the second act, but A, B and C,
now a living time-lapse photograph,
have more at stake in one another’s
success, and more at risk in failure.
Perhaps that’s because they are all,
in essence, Albee’s mother, who (he
always said) bought him from an adoption agency for $133.30 and forever
after hoped to return him. “Three Tall
Women” is based, in part, on conversations she had with him about her life,
marriage and unhappy parenthood. In
more ways than one, Albee hovers
about the action.
But unlike in much of his early work,
he does not insist on dominating it.
“Three Tall Women” is rigorous but
generous, even loving, to its characters
— and audience. It honors the women’s
flintiness and fear as C swears not to
become B and B hopes not to become
A. In doing so, it slips Beckettian existentialism through the commercial
barricades by disguising it as comfortable mainstream entertainment.
Well, not always comfortable. By the
end, when Ms. Jackson gives voice to
A’s terror as her faculties wane, and
considers the idea that death will be a
relief, you may be struck, as I was
most recently in the Signature Theater’s revival of “At Home at the Zoo,”
by Albee’s willingness to go anywhere.
Or rather, his unwillingness not to.
That doesn’t mean this is a perfect
play. Given the Cubist structure, it’s
not surprising that the themes eventually start to recycle with more panache
than novelty. And C, as written, does
not always stand for compelling.
Still, time has been good to “Three
Tall Women,” and Mr. Mantello’s production further burnishes its insights
and confirms its originality. The staging tricks enhance the ones that Albee
built in, with Miriam Buether’s astonishing set design, at first so pretty and
cozy, holding unexpected dimensions
of alienation in store. The lighting (by
Paul Gallo) and subtle sound design
(by Fitz Patton) beautifully support
the idea of a play slipping identities in
the same way its characters do.
Finally, though, it comes back to the
actors. Ms. Jackson’s history with us,
and her aura of indomitability, mean
that she is not merely a casting coup
for A but a natural advocate for the
play’s central themes. She is, politically
and personally, the embodiment of not
going gentle into that good night;
death and Thatcherism are all the
same to her.
And though Ms. Metcalf and Ms. Pill
look nothing like Ms. Jackson, or each
other, they bring more important skills
and associations to their roles. All
three honor a play that despite its
frailties and wrinkles has aged beautifully, into a burning, raving classic.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2018 | 19
The ‘Jersey Shore’ gang is back
Snooki, the Situation
and the rest hope that
the audience returns, too
Two weeks into their monthlong stay
here, the reunited roommates of MTV’s
“Jersey Shore Family Vacation” had settled into a comfortable routine. On a
warm February evening, Vinny, Ronnie,
Pauly D and the Situation were in town
buying groceries. On the upper level of
their Spanish colonial waterfront home,
Snooki was showering. Downstairs,
JWoww and Deena were preparing a
meal of chicken parmigiana and splitting a bottle of wine.
There would be dining and conversation later that night, before the seven
friends went out to a burlesque nightclub. At present, though, JWoww was
predicting that it would take her and
Deena “about seven glasses of wine
each” to finish cooking. As Deena said:
“We’re trying to keep it classy. We’re
older now.”
It has been just over five years since
the curtain came down on “Jersey
Shore,” the reality series that tracked a
group of lovably loutish young men and
women at their Seaside Heights, N.J.,
vacation house and in the bars, gyms
“What coming-of-age looks like
for a 16-, 17-, 18-year-old is one
thing. What it looks like in your
20s or 30s is different.”
and tanning salons of the world beyond.
In the six seasons it ran from 2009 to
2012, “Jersey Shore” was a genuine phenomenon, drawing up to 9 million viewers an episode, giving MTV muchneeded cachet and making unlikely cultural icons of its proudly unrefined
Since then, life has changed for this
bronze-hued crew. Jenni Farley
(JWoww), Nicole Polizzi (Snooki) and
Deena Cortese all found husbands; Ms.
Farley and Ms. Polizzi are each the
mother of two young children; and Paul
DelVecchio (Pauly D) is the father of a
young daughter. Michael Sorrentino
(The Situation) got sober, and in January, he pleaded guilty to a federal charge
of tax evasion, for which he faces sentencing this spring.
MTV has had its own drama, turning
over executives and never finding another show to match the viewership or
influence of “Jersey Shore” at its peak.
Now the network is readying the resuscitated “Jersey Shore Family Vacation” — which makes its global debut on
Thursday and of which it has already ordered a second season — when it’s unclear if there’s still staying power in the
franchise or if it was just a fun cultural
“I’m super-excited, but also I’m nervous, because what if no one cares, no
one watches?” Ms. Polizzi told me. “This
is our family. This is our baby.”
Did audiences still expect the housemates to behave the way they used to,
and could they live up to the benchmarks their younger selves set, she
“We can party like we used to, but we
can’t recover like we used to,” Ms.
Polizzi said. “I would need a few days off
if we do a real rager. Like, in bed, with an
SallyAnn Salsano, the creator and executive producer of the “Jersey Shore”
series, stepped outside the darkened
guesthouse that was serving as the
“Family Vacation” control room to explain that she’d been baffled by the
show’s original cancellation.
“I always felt like it ended before its
time,” said Ms. Salsano, who was previ-
ously responsible for MTV reality franchises like “A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila.”
In its last season, “Jersey Shore” was
drawing about two million to three million viewers an episode, and the show
was assumed to have run its course. The
cast members were, inevitably, growing
older and growing out of their party-allthe-time ethos.
But, Ms. Salsano said, “I understood
that their lives were changing and the
show can change with it.”
MTV tried a spinoff reality series,
“Snooki & JWoww,” which ran from 2012
to 2015, and gave Vinny Guadagnino his
own offbeat talk program, “The Show
With Vinny,” which ran one season in
Cast members made their own forays
into other media projects: Ronnie OrtizMagro and Mr. DelVecchio each did
stints on the E! channel’s “Famously
Single,” while Ms. Cortese appeared on
VH1’s “Couples Therapy.” Mr. Sorrentino was featured on the Food Network’s “Worst Cooks in America,” and
Ms. Polizzi was a short-lived contestant
on NBC’s “The New Celebrity Apprentice” (the season hosted by Arnold
All the while, the housemates said, no
other opportunity felt like the right fit.
“We basically were begging MTV to
bring us back,” Ms. Polizzi said. “We
were begging everyone to bring us
Last year, some of them participated
in an E! special, “Reunion Road Trip:
Return to the Jersey Shore.”
“I wanted to show what I had going on
in my life now,” said Mr. DelVecchio, who
appeared in the reunion program. “But I
also felt like I was betraying the network
and the producers.”
For her part, Ms. Salsano was busy
running a new MTV reality series,
“Floribama Shore,” which made its debut at the end of 2017 and followed a different group of young revelers in Panama City Beach, Fla.
“Floribama Shore” was a modest hit,
drawing fewer than a million viewers an
episode. But its announcement caught
the stars of “Jersey Shore” off guard.
“The second that show aired, my social media was on fire,” Mr. DelVecchio
said. “Everybody was like, ‘Where’s the
original guys?’”
Ms. Polizzi said: “We were all in shock
because none of us had any idea it was
coming out. We were like, ‘Oh, are we 50
years old and dying? What’s going on?’”
But in further conversations with Ms.
Salsano and with MTV, the housemates
were assured that their return to the
network was closer than ever.
And in group texts and face-to-face
meetings, the co-stars realized they had
matured, ever so slightly. They said they
had moved beyond the infighting that
had sometimes made the show’s original run tense and uncomfortable.
“We should have been praising each
other,” Ms. Farley said. “But when
you’re all competing for the same tanning deal or other shows, it becomes
taxing and draining. Jealousy occurs.”
“We put all that aside and said, yo,
we’re in it as a team,” she said. “When
you put us together, it’s a family that nobody can touch.”
Chris McCarthy, who became MTV’s
president in October 2016, said that the
success of “Floribama Shore” was one of
several factors that encouraged the network to bring back “Jersey Shore.”
“We saw where we could really
stretch what the brand meant,” said Mr.
McCarthy, who also oversees the VH1
and Logo networks. “What coming-ofage looks like for a 16-, 17-, 18-year-old is
one thing. What it looks like in your 20s
or 30s is different, but the sentiment is a
lot the same.”
If it’s assumed that MTV is only interested in a teenage audience, or that
viewers who grew up on the original
seasons of “Jersey Shore” were no longer welcome, Mr. McCarthy said this was
not the case.
From left, Paul DelVecchio, Michael Sorrentino, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, Nicole Polizzi, Jenni Farley and Vinny Guadagnino.
Mr. DelVecchio jokingly trying to distract Mr. Guadagnino during a 4 a.m. phone call to his girlfriend.
“MTV at its core is an idea, not a
demo,” he said. “It’s this celebration of
youth and music, and as people are consuming more and more content, there’s
opportunity for us.”
Coming back to the “Jersey Shore” series brought up a range of anxious and
existential feelings for its cast, who wonder if viewers will still want to see them
settle their differences with calm consideration and less head-butting and
Mr. DelVecchio said he was concerned because “I’m basically the only
single one in the house.”
“I’m like, how’s this going to work?”
he said. “Who’s going to be my wingman?”
Ms. Polizzi said she worried about being away from her young children for
long stretches of time and how her husband would feel about taking on additional household duties.
“He was like, ‘Go, babe, have fun,’”
she said. “‘Make that money. Enjoy
And, Ms. Polizzi said, she did. “I had to
keep telling myself, yes, you miss the
kids, but you can be a bad mom for a little bit. Go drink. Go black out. Do what
you’ve got to do.”
Not everyone was as eager to relive
their past exploits. Sammi Giancola,
who was known as Sammi Sweetheart
on “Jersey Shore,” and who dated and
broke up with Mr. Ortiz-Magro, declined
to be part of “Family Vacation.” (In her
absence, the housemates have a sex doll
that they named Sammi.)
“I am extremely happy in every aspect of my life and want to avoid potentially toxic situations,” Ms. Giancola
said in a statement.
Though she loved and missed her
roommates, Ms. Giancola added, “I
have just decided to live my life for me
these days.”
No one would discuss their salaries on
“Jersey Shore Family Vacation,” but Ms.
Polizzi expressed gratitude for the
work. “You don’t get a second chance
like this,” she said. “We definitely weren’t being greedy.”
After spending time away from “Jersey Shore” and then reimmersing herself in it, Ms. Farley said she could live
with herself if it’s her only TV project
that viewers truly embraced.
“I’m typecast no matter what I do,”
she said. “I’m JWoww from ‘Jersey
Shore.’ But I’m proud of it. There’s not
one thing on that show, except my hair
from Season 1, that I have any regrets
Ms. Farley felt her life as a wife and a
mother of two was fully compatible with
her “Jersey Shore” identity. She said she
just wanted to be “the one who tells my
daughter that I peed behind a bar” before one of her classmates can reveal it
She added, “I probably will have to tell
her tomorrow so I can guarantee that.”
From left, Mr. DelVecchio relaxing at the cast’s home in Miami Beach, and a night out at a club in Miami.
The world through ever-shifting lenses
Aetherial Worlds: Stories
By Tatyana Tolstaya. Translated by Anya
Migdal. 256 pp. Knopf. $25.95.
The first story in “Aetherial Worlds,” a
new collection from the Russian writer
Tatyana Tolstaya, describes an excruciating three-month convalescence
from corrective eye surgery. This is
Russia, 1983, so we’re talking razors,
not lasers. The patient has to stay in
near darkness. As preludes to adventure go, it’s sufficiently unpromising.
But over time, the narrator — who
may or may not be Tolstaya, I can’t tell
— develops a different kind of vision.
She starts seeing episodes from her
past, not just images but whole narratives, so precisely that she has to write
them down, even though she’s never
written a story in her life. She eventually regains her earthly eyesight, but
this new shadow world stays with her:
“It turned out to be a multifaceted
underside of so-called reality, a dungeon full of treasure, an aetherial
world through the looking glass, a
mysterious box with passcodes to all
enigmas, an address book with the
exact coordinates of those who never
existed.” Title drop! The main theme
has been sounded.
But if the stories that follow are
more of these aetherial worlds, they’re
also about people who are haunted by
aetherial worlds — visions, glimpses of
the transcendent, moments when the
dull plastic coating of reality peels
back to reveal something vastly more
precious. These glimpses can come at
any moment, in any form: the premonitory ecstasy before an epileptic
seizure; a pane of blue glass through
which the shades of the dead seem to
be visible; a still snowy dawn before
the rest of the family is up; the ancient
mosaic ceiling of a Roman mausoleum,
lost in shadow until it is briefly and
gloriously illuminated when a tourist
drops a coin in a box. There’s no shortage of aether in “Aetherial Worlds.”
Tolstaya’s stories come both plotted
and plotless. There’s a perfectly turned
Borgesian tale about a magical window
from which one can collect random
consumer goods for free (except that
they’re not) and a marvelously vivid
recollection of Tolstaya’s rambling old
family dacha. Tolstaya is well known in
Russia as a brilliant and caustic political critic, but her memories of her
Soviet childhood have a tender, personal quality, devoid of any ideological
ax-grinding. One could reassemble an
entire midcentury Russian apartment
block out of “Aetherial Worlds,” from a
characteristic doorbell — “a flat brass
knob the size and shape of half a butterfly” — to the slow descent of an
old-fashioned elevator: “First the
intestines appear in the elevator’s
wrought-iron cage, then the cabin
Tolstaya is doubly haunted by the
past, both by its lostness and by its
stubborn refusal to go away. She is
blessed, and cursed, with the mystic’s
gift of seeing the shades of the departed; she’s visited by, among many
others, the memory of an old neighbor
whom she used to meet walking his
“You don’t know, do you, the names
of his dachshunds. But I do! Another
fifty years from now — even a hundred, or two hundred — and I’ll still be
able to hear his noble clarion voice:
“‘Myshka, Manishka, Murashka,
“Those were their names, and always in that order.”
There’s a valedictory sadness to
these memories, but Tolstaya isn’t the
type to pine. She’s given to sudden
rhetorical gearshifts — she’ll swerve
from a flight of melancholy lyricism
straight into a thicket of profanity,
shaking off her own eloquence like a
bad mood. This sonorous lower register gives voice to her bracing impatience with sentimentality and disingenuousness. As she says (or fantasizes about saying) to a student who’s
trying to snow her: “Don’t piss on my
leg and tell me it’s raining. I’ll corner
you and eat your brains for breakfast.”
Although this is Tolstaya’s first book
to be translated into English in 10
years, it could not be said of “Aetherial
Worlds” that it is all killer, no filler.
There’s a Seinfeldian outing on the
subject of what-is-the-deal-with-allthose-missing-socks, and another that
tackles the pressing question, “What if
there were no Italy?” There’s an interesting but surely misplaced academic
rant about Kazimir Malevich’s painting
“The Black Square.” (It features a
cameo by the great Lev Nikolayevich
Tolstoy, who, I should mention some-
where in this review, was Tolstaya’s
great granduncle.) But it’s more than
worth sifting through a little dross for
the pleasure of seeing the world
through the corrective lens of Tolstaya’s vision, which reveals the world
as not just a dull accretion of matter
but a complex and shifting system of
real and unreal realms, populated by
beings both visible and invisible, floodlit by flashes of transcendence.
They’re flashes only — they never
last; the aether always disperses. They
tease and taunt you with the possibility
of deliverance, but they never quite
deliver. In the title story, Tolstaya
describes a guardian angel who accompanies people through life: “A
transparent sort, hard to make out, like
a jellyfish in water, he hangs in the air
and undulates as fireflies pass right
through him; and if starlight is refracted when piercing his aetherial
body, it is refracted just a little.” But
this isn’t the kind of guardian angel
who actually saves you. He never does
anything except offer bland reassurances, and maybe a little compassion
when things go wrong. “‘Yes, yes,’ he’ll
agree. ‘That’s how it is.’”
Lev Grossman is the author of the bestselling Magicians trilogy. He was the
book critic at Time for 15 years.
20 | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2018
Finding fashion for less in Paris
In nearly three decades of visiting Paris,
a highlight of my sojourns is shopping
for the sort of distinct fashions impossible to find at home in the United States.
Over the years, the proliferation of chain
stores in Paris (and easy access to
French luxury brands at home) has
made finding unusual pieces a challenge.
So, on a recent trip, when I noticed a
secondhand shop filled with high-end
designer jackets, bags, boots and jewelry — many from defunct Parisian
ready-to-wear brands — I was thrilled.
While paying for my haul (a cashmere
blazer by Angelo Tarlazzi and a vintage
fur stole), I learned that there were dozens of others, a network of resale shops
catering to exacting tastes and a passion for a deal.
I find few things more satisfying than
tracking down accouterments that
whisper “Fabriqué à Paris” — without
paying retail. Thus began my deep dive
into the City of Light’s lively dépôt-vente
scene: upscale thrift shops that traffic
specifically in luxury goods.
This is no dive-for-treasures-in-thetrash thrift shop scenario. Les dépôtsventes (which translates to “deposit and
sale”) are airy and efficiently organized: rows of leather jackets, tuxedos,
blazers, silk blouses, cashmere sweaters, fur and cocktail dresses beckoning
from hangers; vitrines piled with jewelry, wallets, sunglasses and, of course,
scarves. As for prices, the resale value of
top drawer luxury products is a fraction
of the original price.
Many pieces are consigned after being worn just once; some still have original price tags, inciting heart palpitations
in thrift-obsessed clientele. Unlike a traditional retail environment, prices are
not set in stone. Don’t be afraid to negotiate, especially if buying a few things.
The 16th Arrondissement, with its
wide, leafy avenues, is fertile ground for
fashion deals, specifically the smaller
streets behind fashionable Place du Trocadero.
Start at Reciproque, the largest dépôtvente in Paris, with 5,300 square feet.
Here, you’ll shop alongside smartly
turned out locals for classic-veering,
ready-to-wear evening gowns and a
mind-blowing array of scarves. Make
sure to hit the basement where more
casual pieces (denim, blouses, bathing
suits) are stocked. Pay attention to the
shoe nook. With vision (new soles and a
good cleaning), you can score showstopping footwear on the cheap. Around the
corner is Le Date, a boudoir-evoking
jewel box brimming with cocktail frocks,
furs, heels and bags displayed on vintage hat boxes. You’ll find the usual suspects: Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel,
Hermès. But the more interesting
pieces — and better deals — are lesser
known French labels like Kyros and
Stéphan, as well as quality basics from
Lil Pour L’Autre and Hotel Particulier.
Diagonally across the street, Depot
Vente Luxe Paris focuses on of-the-moment fashion, not vintage. The concept?
Slashed prices (men’s and women’s) on
items that could (give or take a few seasons) be found in the pages of current
fashion magazines. Last November, I
spotted a Fendi Peekaboo bag, a Saint
Laurent Sac de Jour bag, a Balmain
biker leather jacket and Louis Vuitton
Icare briefcase.
Off the main artery, Rue de Passy, on a
cobblestone pedestrian market street,
you’ll find Coeur de Luxe, a small shop
tricked out like the ultimate French
walk-in closet: tuxedo jackets, Céline
blouses, Breton striped knits and
Chanel tweeds alongside Jean-Claude
Jitrois leather, sheared furs by Sylvie
Schimmel and no shortage of gold-buckled belts, bags and shoes.
Over in the 8th Arrondissement is Valois Vintage, where you’ll find a glamorous mash-up of au courant and vintage pieces. It’s pricey. But swanky
ready-to-wear couture and hard-to-find
designer collaborations make it a favorite for magazine editors and women who
like to stand out in a crowd.
Cross the elegant Beaux-Arts bridge,
Pont Alexandre III, to the Rive Gauche
past the Esplanade des Invalides, for
Marques, a storefront so cluttered that I
considered ditching it for a glass of rosé
at the corner brasserie. Happily, I didn’t.
This small but mighty emporium
produced some of my top finds: pristine
Yves Saint Laurent and Loulou de la Falaise tuxedos, Akris and Balenciaga
trousers and tags-still-on samples from
the Riccardo Tisci era at Givenchy.
I’m now strutting around Chicago in
my (discount) finery, delighted when
friends ask the origin of my ensemble.
“Oh, this? It’s from a tiny shop in Paris.”
High-concept dining
in Peru’s mountains
Top, Reciproque in the 16th Arrondissement is Paris’s largest dépôt-vente at 5,300
square feet. Above, handbags on display at Valois Vintage in the 8th Arrondissement.
Taking destination dining to new
heights, a celebrated Peruvian chef has
just hung out his shingle 11,706 feet
above sea level, where the entirety of his
street address is “ascending 500 meters
from the Archaeological Complex of Moray.” Yet despite the enigmatic coordinates and the fact that the nearest villages are all but concealed from the outside world, every taxi driver within a
100-mile radius will soon know these
back roads by heart.
There is, after all, no concealing the
resident chef: Virgilio Martinez, who
also runs Central, the nine-year-old
Lima institution that currently ranks
fifth on the closely watched World’s 50
Best Restaurants list. While he’s unassuming in the extreme, the 40-yearold has already left a distinct footprint
with his new Andean outpost, Mil, which
opened at the end of February.
Having formed a co-op of sorts with
the tiny nearby farming communities of
Kacllaraccay and Mullaka’s-Misminay,
he’s aiming to chronicle and revive ancient local ingredients and food practices that might otherwise be lost to
time. Joining him are his wife Pía León,
an acclaimed chef; his sister Malena
Martinez, head of the group’s native ingredient-cataloging operation; and
Francesco D’Angelo Piaggio, the staff
anthropologist and community outreach consigliere who has the best story
of the bunch: When he was still working
on his thesis in a nearby rural community, his mother saw the Virgilio Martinez
episode of “Chef’s Table” on Netflix and
insisted her son do the same. After a series of emails, a job at Mil soon followed.
Lunch (there is no dinner service as of
yet) consisted of eight courses, a gustatory grand tour of high-altitude ecosystems, each stop an opportunity to use
age-old ingredients and techniques to
arrestingly modern effect.
Our first “moment” (as they call
courses at Mil) was entitled Preservation, a nod to the local practice of preserving potatoes during the harvest.
“The technique involves exposing potatoes to cold water flow, then sunlight, to
freeze-dry them,” Malena Martinez ex-
Andean Forest, with “lupinous legumes,”
one of eight dishes at Mil’s lunch service.
plained. Her brother then grates, rehydrates, cooks — and once again dehydrates — the potatoes until an amazingly airy, diaphanous chip emerges.
And once that crisp meets the accompanying uchucuta — a heady blend of
herbs, chili and corn — you’ll be ruined
for all other chips and dips.
Other standout moments included
Andean Forest, with its Hogwarts-evoking “lupinous legumes” in an extrabright (flavor- and color-wise) leche de
tigre; Diversity of Corn, the alternately
creamy and crunchy components of
which add up to something “like a
muesli,” according to Mr. Martinez; and
Extreme Altitude, our intro to cushuro,
or, as one young server proudly proclaimed, “colonies of bacterias” — palate-pleasing,
plucked from Andean lake water.
The drink pairings were equally and
deliciously high-concept, including a
pampa anise-spiked smoked lettuce infusion to a citrusy kiwicha milk.
Standing at the restaurant’s front
door after the meal for one last look at
the Inca ruins just outside, we could
hardly disagree with Mr. Martinez’s assessment of his new neighborhood:
“For me, this is the best place to eat, to
get ingredients — and to meet people.”
Mil, 500 meters above the Archaeological
Complex of Moray;
Lunch for two, without drinks and tip, is
947 soles (about $290) for the eightcourse tasting menu.
New York hotel is all about design
86 rooms is individually decorated, and
original art by contemporary artists
from around the world adorns both
guest rooms and public spaces.
From $595 including Wi-Fi.
The Whitby Hotel, a property with a serious design personality, opened in February 2017 in midtown Manhattan, part
of London-based Firmdale Hotels, a
brand with eight properties in London
and one other in New York City. Firmdale’s first New York property, Crosby
Street Hotel, opened in 2009 and is considered to be among the city’s most fashionable accommodations. The company’s co-owner and design director, Kit
Kemp, has a flair for creating unique hotels, and the Whitby, too, is a place with
serious design personality: each of the
The Whitby is on 56th Street, between
Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Trump Tower,
a popular tourist spot ever since Donald
J. Trump was elected as the president, is
steps away. While this may deter some
overnight guests because of the crowds
snapping pictures, the property’s central location is undoubtedly appealing:
attractions such as Rockefeller Center,
Central Park, the Museum of Modern
Art, top restaurants and the stores on
Fifth Avenue are all within walking distance. Taxis are readily available, and
several subways are within a 10-minute
walk including the N, R, F and E lines.
My 350-square-foot room felt like being
in a guest room in the home of a friend
whose design style I admire. The colorful, contemporary space had black
fabric walls, a textured pink and beige
rug, a long wooden desk with an upholstered lime green chair and a small sitting area with two orange patterned
chairs. And could I please buy the luxuriously comfortable king-size bed with a
high headboard upholstered in orange
for my bedroom at home? The nine-foot
high ceilings made the room feel larger
than it was, and because the property
wasn’t full, the personable front desk
employee had upgraded me one level
upon check-in from the entry level superior category to the luxury category; the
Whitby has nine categories of rooms, all
with 55-inch flat screen televisions.
The Whitby’s chic but approachable design sensibility extended to the generously sized bathroom. With its black and
white gleaming marble walls and floors,
it was modern, but the two free-standing
white ceramic sinks brought in an oldfashioned feel (there was a shower but
no tub). Instead of the generic white
robes common at many high-end hotels,
the pair here had elegant blue piping,
and I loved the heavenly lavender eucalyptus scent in the Rik Rak by Kit Kemp
The Whitby Bar & Restaurant, an allday spot that offers breakfast, brunch,
lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and cocktails; a small but well-equipped gym; a
130-seat movie theater with screenings
on Sunday afternoons, open to both
guests and the general public (guests
can attend for free; tickets for nonguests are $15); and a small drawing
room with an honesty bar where guests
can pour themselves a drink and request that it be charged to their room.
President and C.E.O.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Qatar Museums Board of Trustees
Founding Partner
Avid Partners, LLC
The restaurant is especially lively at
breakfast and during afternoon tea,
available in both a traditional style, with
finger sandwiches and scones, as well
as in a healthy version, with dishes like a
roasted beet and melon taco and an avocado and green chickpea crostini (the
tea is a pricey $54 a person). I enjoyed a
tasty and satisfying breakfast at the
restaurant of house-made gluten-free
granola, yogurt, mixed berries, nuts and
lemonade (breakfast is $30 a person).
Room service is also an option, and with
rooms so stylish, ordering in is a tempting choice.
With its central location, warm service
and sophisticated but homey feel, the
Whitby stands out in a city where travelers are spoiled for choice when it
comes to upscale accommodations.
Top, the lobby of the Whitby Hotel in New York City. Above, a luxury room.
The Whitby Hotel, 18 West 56th Street,
New York City,
Almine Rech Gallery
Victoria and Albert Museum,
This April, The New York Times will convene
the new Art Leaders Network, a select
group of the world’s most distinguished art
experts and influencers—dealers, gallery
owners, museum directors, curators, auction
executives and collectors—to define and
assess the most pressing challenges and
opportunities in the industry today.
Through provocative interviews and
riveting discussions, senior New York Times
journalists will explore myriad topics, from
the impact of economic events on the arts
to the outlook for galleries in the era of the
mega-dealer, from the future of museums in
this technological age to the undiminished
fascination with contemporary art, and
much more.
This invitation-only gathering will take place
in Berlin, a city whose story of renaissance
and reinvention mirrors the essence of this
groundbreaking event.
President and C.E.O.
Pace Gallery
For more information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact
Carina Pierre at
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