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International New York Times - 03 April 2018

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Can Europe
lead the way
on privacy?
U.S. faces
a dilemma
as Taliban
go high-tech
Tom Wheeler
The New York Times publishes opinion
from a wide range of perspectives in
hopes of promoting constructive debate
about consequential questions.
Pentagon weighing aid
to Afghan forces amid
fears equipment is stolen
Dismantling a police state
Uzbekistan’s president
is reining in secret police
and releasing prisoners
Unraveling a police state is never easy,
and just how fraught the process can be
has been playing out in a basement cell
in Uzbekistan, a rare example of a country’s seeking to tame a vicious security
apparatus at a time when many other
nations are doing the opposite.
The detention center in Tashkent, the
Uzbek capital, is where Bobomurod Abdullaev, a freelance journalist, was taken and, according to his wife and lawyer,
tortured after agents of Uzbekistan’s
feared National Security Service
grabbed him off the street in September.
But it was also where Mr. Abdullaev,
who has been charged with “conspiracy
to overthrow the constitutional regime,”
was allowed to meet last month with a
prominent human rights lawyer the security service had initially barred, and
to tell the lawyer of the mistreatment.
Two security officers in charge of the
investigation have now been removed
from the case.
They are themselves under investigation for misconduct, amid a purge of Uz-
Mr. Mirziyoyev became president in 2016, after the death of Uzbekistan’s longtime
dictator, Islam Karimov, who didn’t forgive dissent.
bekistan’s once-untouchable security
The twists and turns in Mr. Abdullaev’s case point to what, 18 months after the death of Uzbekistan’s longtime
dictator, Islam Karimov, is the central
question hanging over efforts by new
leadership to open up one of the world’s
most repressive countries: Can a brutal
and once all-powerful security apparatus with roots deep in the former Soviet
Industry is responding
to claims against some
top artists and writers
Y(1J85IC*KKNPKP( +?!"!$!#![
A memorial complex near Bukhara, Uzbekistan. The country’s leader, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, appears serious about moving away from authoritarian rule.
republic be transformed into a law enforcement agency?
Mr. Abdullaev, along with many other
government critics, is still under arrest.
He told his lawyer, Sergei Mayorov, that
after his arrest he was beaten repeatedly and then kept naked for six days in
a freezing cell without sleep. He said he
was given food only on the fifth day of
his detention, and even then only after
he had collapsed. Officials warned him
Book publishers rocked by #MeToo movement
Elizabeth Rusch’s picture book about
Mario Molina, the Mexican-born chemist who won the Nobel Prize for his work
studying the destruction of the earth’s
ozone layer, was a decade in the making.
It took her nearly 30 drafts to get it right,
and she was thrilled when the children’s
publisher Charlesbridge acquired it in
2013. The book was finally due out this
Then, news broke that the book’s illustrator, David Diaz, had been accused of
sexual harassment. Worried that the
book would be clouded by the controversy, Charlesbridge decided to postpone publication of “Mario and the Hole
in the Sky,” pulp the finished copies and
hire a new illustrator.
“It’s really sad that people won’t be
able to read this version,” said Ms.
that unless he confessed, his wife and
daughter would be raped, his lawyer
The internet is still censored, albeit
less than before, and fear of the security
service, known by its Russian-language
acronym, S.N.B., remains widespread.
It is still considered dangerous even to
utter the name of the security service in
A report on Uzbekistan released last
week by Human Rights Watch concluded that while repression had eased,
the arrest of Mr. Abdullaev and other
journalists, along with the role of the
S.N.B. in monitoring, censoring and
punishing publications that step out of
line, still have “a chilling effect” on free
speech and “are standing in the way of
dismantling the country’s authoritarian
But senior officials and even some of
Uzbekistan’s harshest critics insist that
the country’s new leader, President
Shavkat Mirziyoyev, is serious about
bucking a drift toward authoritarian
rule around the world — a trend evident
in Cambodia, the Philippines, Russia,
Turkey and even in once-proudly democratic nations such as Hungary and Poland.
Uzbekistan’s neighbors in Central
Asia, all authoritarian with the exception of Kyrgyzstan, the smallest country
in the region, show no sign of loosening
up. Kazakhstan, ruled by the same
Once described as an ill-equipped band
of insurgents, the Taliban are increasingly attacking security forces across
Afghanistan using night-vision goggles
and lasers that United States military officials said have been either stolen from
Afghan and international troops or
bought on the black market.
The devices allow the Taliban to maneuver under the cover of darkness as
they track the whirling blades of coalition helicopters, the infrared lasers on
American rifles or even the bedtime
movements of local police officers.
With this new battlefield capability,
the Taliban more than doubled nighttime attacks from 2014 to 2017, according
to one United States military official
who described internal Pentagon data
on the condition of anonymity. The number of Afghans who were wounded or
killed during nighttime attacks during
that period nearly tripled.
That has forced American commanders to rethink the limited access they
give Afghan security forces to the nightvision devices. Commanders now worry
that denying the expensive equipment
to those forces puts them at a technological disadvantage, with potentially lethal consequences.
For years, American commanders
have been reluctant to give night-vision
equipment to rank-and-file Afghan soldiers and police officers out of concern
of widespread corruption among those
forces. The devices — headsets and
infrared lasers — are usually given only
to elite Afghan commandos and police
special mission units, according to
American military officials.
As some of this equipment falls into
Taliban hands, the militants are joining
a larger trend, said David W. Barno, a retired lieutenant general who led the war
effort in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005.
Advanced equipment, such as drones
and precision weapons, is being seized
by other extremist groups in other
global conflict zones, he said.
“It’s going to be a problem,” Mr. Barno
said, “and it’s going to change how we
With the spread of the devices, infantry units on patrols have been told
not to use certain marking devices that
can be seen only by night-vision equipment. Helicopter crews have been made
distinctly aware that their aircraft are
no longer cloaked by darkness.
In one case last November, Taliban
fighters wearing night-vision goggles
attacked a police outpost in Farah Province, in western Afghanistan. By the
Elizabeth Rusch, the author of the picture book “Mario and the Hole in the Sky: How a
Chemist Saved Our Planet.’’ She said she supported the book’s postponement.
Rusch, who posted a comment on Facebook strongly supporting the women
who had come forward. “But it’s the
right thing to do for the book, and the industry, as painful as it was.”
The list of prominent authors mired in
harassment scandals has grown in recent months and now includes best-selling children’s book authors, prominent
political journalists and a National Book
Award-winning novelist. As allegations
of sexual harassment sweep through
the publishing industry — resulting in
cancellation of book deals, boycotts by
bookstores and expulsions from writers’
conferences — publishers, agents and
editors are grappling with how to tackle
the issue. As in the entertainment business, where celebrated actors have lost
starring roles in TV shows and movies,
publishing companies are facing painful
trade-offs as they cut ties with accused
men in the hope of minimizing collateral
“It’s a pretty tumultuous time,” said
Sarah Burnes, a literary agent with the
Gernert Company. “It’s hard to get it
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Issue Number
No. 42,006
“We have a responsibility to protect
your information,” Mark Zuckerberg,
the chief executive of Facebook, declared recently in a full-page newspaper advertisement. “If we can’t, we
don’t deserve it.”
It is nice to see Facebook taking
some responsibility for the exploitation
of the personal information of 50 million of its users in the service of a
political campaign. But Mr. Zuckerberg’s comments suggest he still doesn’t get it: What matters is not whether
internet companies “deserve” our
private information but why we as
consumers do not have meaningful
ways to protect that data from being
siphoned for sale in the first place.
The American government has done
little to help us in this regard. The
Federal Trade Commission merely
requires internet
should be
companies to have a
able to
privacy policy availcontrol their
able for consumers
to see. A company
can change that
policy whenever it
wants as long as it
says it is doing so.
As a result, internet
companies have been taking our personal property — our private information — while hiding this fact behind
lengthy and coercive legalese and
cumbersome “opt out” processes.
The European Union, however, is
handling the problem differently. Starting in May, its General Data Protection
Regulation will go into effect in its 28
member nations. The regulation is
powerful in its simplicity: It ensures
that consumers own their private
information and thus have the right to
control its usage and that internet
companies have an obligation to give
consumers the tools to exercise that
The European rules, for instance,
require companies to provide a plainlanguage description of their information-gathering practices, including how
the data is used, as well as have users
explicitly “opt in” to having their information collected. The rules also give
consumers the right to see what information about them is being held, and
the ability to have that information
Why don’t we have similar protections in the United States? We almost
did. In 2016, the Federal Communications Commission imposed similar
requirements on the companies that
provide internet service, forcing them
2 | TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018
page two
Sweeping mines for pilgrims and monks
Effort underway to clear
site where Jesus is said
to have been baptized
One by one, the pilgrims plunged into
the cool, khaki-toned waters of the Jordan River, wading in from the Israelicontrolled western bank to rededicate
their faith at the spot where John the
Baptist is believed to have baptized Jesus.
The river here is narrow and lazy,
lined with vivid green bulrushes and
dotted with palm trees.
“It was freezing cold!” exclaimed
Laura Ng, 58, a member of a Christian
Bible study group from Singapore, as
she emerged from the murky water in a
purple T-shirt. “But when I got immersed, I felt cleansed all over.”
On the opposite bank, a few gentle
swim strokes away, a smaller group of
tourists stood on the Jordanian side and
took photos on their cellphones.
In the days before Easter, which fell
on April 1 this year, Holy Land tour
groups were arriving by the busload at
the Israeli-run baptism site known as
Qasr al-Yahud. Arabic for “the Castle of
the Jews,” the name is said to be a reference to the castle-like appearance of a
nearby Greek Orthodox monastery and
to Jewish belief, which holds that this is
where Joshua led the Israelites into the
Promised Land.
Located a few miles north of the Dead
Sea and east of the town of Jericho in the
Israeli-occupied West Bank, the baptism site drew about 570,000 visitors
last year, according to the Israeli authorities. Yet the peaceful scenes of pilgrimage today belie the area’s turbulent
history as a battle zone.
The site remained off-limits for decades after Israel captured the West
Bank from Jordan in the Arab-Israeli
war of 1967. Israel and Jordan made
peace in 1994, and Israel has since renovated a small portion of the site, opening
it to the public in 2011.
But armed Israeli soldiers still patrol
here to make sure nobody crosses the
river to or from the Jordanian side. To
get to the water, pilgrims have to get
through a military zone, sticking to a
narrow path surrounded by minefields.
The anti-personnel and anti-tank
mines were planted by Israeli military
battalions after the 1967 war as part of a
new defense line. In mid-February, an
Israeli military jeep went over a land
mine buried in the sand here; seven soldiers were injured. The blackened hulk
of the vehicle is visible from the road
lined with danger signs.
The churches and compounds of eight
denominations built around the 1930s in
the area were abandoned five decades
ago and remain out of bounds.
Israeli Army engineers are believed
to have booby-trapped the windows and
doors of the sanctuaries and monks’
cells, mostly belonging to the Eastern
Orthodox churches, because they were
being used as cover for Palestinian
fighters infiltrating from Jordan to attack Israelis.
Now, in an effort to rehabilitate and
open up the rest of the site, the Halo
Trust, a British-American mine clearance charity, has begun a mine-clearing
operation with the cooperation of the Israeli National Mine Action Authority,
working under Israel’s Ministry of Defense, and the Palestinian Mine Action
Clockwise from above: A fenced-off area around the Israeli-controlled baptism site known as Qasr al-Yahud; a tourist undergoing a re-baptism; and Christian pilgrims entering the Jordan River at the Qasr al-Yahud site. Located a few miles north of the Dead Sea and east of the town of Jericho, the baptism site drew about 570,000 visitors last year. Remnants of mines and explosives have been in the fields around Qasr al-Yahud since the 1970s.
Israel and the West Bank boast
major Christian sites like
Nazareth and Bethlehem, and
the pilgrim trade is lucrative.
Center under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority.
The charity has raised more than $1
million so far for the mission, which will
probably take at least a year.
Despite the political awkwardness of
working in occupied territory, the Palestinians and Israelis share an interest in
promoting Christian tourism. Both Israel and the West Bank boast major
Christian sites like Nazareth and Bethlehem, and the pilgrim trade is lucrative.
Experts estimate that there could be
as many as 3,000 mines and other explosive devices littering the site, an area
less than half a square mile.
“War is a way of achieving a political
objective,” said James Cowan, the chief
executive of the Halo Trust. “Land
mines remain lethal for decades after
that political purpose has passed.”
The idea is to restore the properties to
the churches, allowing monks — and pilgrims — to return.
The work, which started on March 11
in the southern Ethiopian Church compound, is painstaking. The various Israeli units passing through left no
record or maps of where they put the
anti-personnel mines, and commanders
who could be tracked down could not remember with any precision. Recently, a
multinational team of Israelis, Palestinians and Georgians worked gingerly, using detectors and armored mechanized
“The churches have time,” said Ronen
Shimoni, the Halo Trust’s program manager in the West Bank, standing by an
abandoned Israeli military post atop a
hill with a commanding view in the already searing heat of spring. “They will
remain here after all of us.”
The expansion of Qasr al-Yahud may
heat up the competition between the two
banks of the Jordan River, over which is
the authentic baptism site. The Jordanian side, which boasts a church complex
with a golden dome, is known as Al
Maghtas, Arabic for baptism, or as
Bethany beyond the Jordan.
In 2012, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization designated the eastern, Jordanian
bank as a World Heritage site, declaring
that it is believed to be the location of Jesus’s baptism.
Though remains of ancient churches,
chapels and monks cells dating to the
Roman and Byzantine periods have
been found on the eastern side, there
does not appear to be any archaeological evidence on either side from the first
Matthew 3:13 describes Jesus coming
“to the Jordan to be baptized by John”
from the Galilee, in what is now northern Israel. An apparent reference to the
eastern bank comes in John 1:28, which
states: “These things were done in
Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John
was baptizing.”
But Qasr al-Yahud, on the Israeli-controlled side, has already proved more
popular with pilgrims. Entry is free and
it is close to other Christian sites.
Neil Taylor, 63, a tourist from Sussex,
England, surveyed the scene by the riverbank as members of a Russian pilgrim
group in white robes, available from the
souvenir store for $9 a piece, sang
praises, then entered the water.
Mr. Taylor said he was not fazed by
the warnings of minefields and more
signs proclaiming “Border Ahead.”
“When John the Baptist was baptizing people, I imagine that was pretty
chaotic as well,” he said. “To see the
young lady with a machine gun is a little
off-putting,” he said of an armed Israeli
border guard at the water’s edge.
Publishers rocked by claims against artists and writers
right all the time, but I do think people
understand now that these situations
are more often about power, and not
about sex.”
Some publishing houses have reacted
swiftly to sexual misconduct charges. In
October, Penguin Press quickly
scrapped a forthcoming book on the
2016 election by John Heilemann and
Mark Halperin, co-authors of the bestselling political tell-alls “Game Change”
and “Double Down,” after it emerged
that Mr. Halperin had sexually harassed
multiple women at ABC News, where he
oversaw political coverage years ago.
Other publishers have issued bland
statements — or taken no action at all.
Henry Holt & Company has continued to
publish Bill O’Reilly after a New York
Times report that Mr. O’Reilly settled
claims by multiple women who had accused him of sexual harassment and
verbal abuse. Mr. O’Reilly was fired by
Fox News, and last fall, his literary
agent, William Morris Endeavor, said it
would “no longer represent Bill O’Reilly
for future deals.” But Holt has so far remained steadfast in its support of Mr.
The disparate responses underscore
the commercial and ethical challenges
publishing houses face. Some, including
Hachette Book Group, are expanding
the use of morals clauses and “author
conduct” clauses in book contracts,
which allow publishers to cancel book
deals if the author is credibly accused of
unethical behavior. But some editors
and publishers say privately that it’s difficult to impose a code of conduct on
writers, who are not their employees.
In an industry that is overwhelmingly
female — women account for around 80
percent of people who work in publish-
“I was very saddened to see
how many women had left
the industry or quit writing
or quit illustrating.’’
ing — publishers may also face pressure
from within their own ranks to take a
firm stance against sexual harassment.
In February, publication by the novelist Anne Ursu of an article on Medium
about sexual harassment in the children’s book world set off a cascade of online accusations against prominent authors, many made anonymous. Ms.
Ursu said she had been in touch with
about 100 women in the industry who
had experienced harassment.
“I was very saddened to see how
many women had left the industry or
quit writing or quit illustrating because
of something that had happened,” she
said. “We are losing talent because of
this, and we need to find a way to privilege the women who have been hurt
over the men who make publishing
houses a lot of money.”
After Ms. Ursu’s article brought an
outpouring of allegations, the fallout
was swift for several best-selling authors.
Ballantine, a Random House imprint,
canceled a contract for an adult novel by
James Dashner, after multiple women
accused Mr. Dashner of harassment. Mr.
Dashner is one of the industry’s most
successful young adult novelists: His
dystopian series “The Maze Runner”
has sold more than 14 million copies
across all formats. Mr. Dashner, who
apologized for his behavior, was also
dropped by his agent.
Another blockbuster author, Jay
Asher, whose young adult novel “Thirteen Reasons Why” has more than four
million copies in print, was let go by his
agent after a chorus of online accusations that he had harassed women and
behaved in a predatory manner at an
annual industry conference. (Mr. Asher
has disputed the women’s claims.)
The novelist Sherman Alexie asked
his publisher to delay the publication of
a forthcoming paperback edition of his
memoir, “You Don’t Have to Say You
Love Me,” after a recent NPR report in
which three women accused him of sexual misconduct ranging from inappropriate comments to unwanted advances.
The American Indian Library Association withdrew an award that it gave to
Mr. Alexie in 2008 for his young adult
novel “The Absolutely True Diary of a
Charlesbridge plans to use a new illustrator for ‘‘Mario and the Hole in the Sky.’’
Part-Time Indian.” Mr. Alexie also declined to accept the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for nonfiction for his memoir, which was given to him in February
by the American Library Association.
On his website, Mr. Alexie expressed
regret for his actions but also sounded
defiant, writing that he rejects “the accusations, insinuations and outright
falsehoods” made by a woman he said
he had a consensual affair with and who
accused him online of being a serial
Grove Atlantic and Hachette Book
Group, which both publish Mr. Alexie’s
books, issued statements saying that
they were surprised and troubled by the
accusations, but that they would continue to publish his earlier books.
Publishers face complex calculations
as they weigh whether or not to cut ties
with an author. Canceling a book can
lead to lost profits, but publishing and
promoting a book by an author accused
of misconduct can have other negative
Danielle Foster, the co-owner of Bookworks in Albuquerque, said that she
would not reorder books by Mr. Alexie
and would instead be featuring works
by up-and-coming Native American authors. Still, she is wary of limiting
customers’ access to books by popular
writers and said the store still had
“many books on our shelves by accused
“These discussions need to happen
among booksellers and publishers, and
at the same time, do you censor the
art?” she said. “We’re taking the stance
that we don’t want to censor or ban anything.”
But at a moment of heightened scrutiny, some publishers are willing to sacrifice worthwhile books — and lose
money — to signal their support for the
#MeToo movement.
“Apparently no industry is exempt
from the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and misogyny,” said Yolanda
Scott, the associate publisher and editorial director of Charlesbridge, which destroyed finished copies of the picture
book “Mario and the Hole in the Sky” after harassment allegations against its illustrator surfaced. “We want the chil-
dren’s publishing world to be a safe and
equitable space.”
Though finished copies had already
gone out to book critics and pulling it at
such a late stage was costly, Charlesbridge decided publishing the book with
Mr. Diaz’s name and illustrations might
dampen enthusiasm for the title from
readers, reviewers, librarians and booksellers. The company has pushed the
publication to 2019.
In an interview, Mr. Diaz acknowledged that he had made flirtatious comments and advances at a conference
hosted by the Society of Children’s Book
Writers and Illustrators and that he had
gone through harassment training after
the society’s board received a complaint
about his behavior in 2012.
He also went through a probation period in which his conduct was regularly
reviewed. When a separate allegation
arose in the fall of 2017 about a sexual
comment that Mr. Diaz had made to a
woman at a conference five years earlier, before his harassment training, Mr.
Diaz voluntarily resigned from the
board and apologized to the woman who
had complained.
“It stings a little bit, knowing the work
that I’ve done, but I support their
choice,” Mr. Diaz said about Charlesbridge’s decision to withdraw the book
with his illustrations. “If I were the author, I would want my book to have every chance at success, without anything
attached to it that might hinder it.”
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TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018 | 3
Russian agents of mayhem? Bosnia giggled
led to murderous ethnic cleansing in the
early 1990s and also the creation of the
Republika Srpska, whose founding president, Radovan Karadzic, was convicted
in The Hague of war crimes in 2016.
The Security Ministry in Sarajevo declared the bikers a security threat and
barred Mr. Zaldostanov and the leader
of the Night Wolves’ Serbian chapter
from its territory. The Bosnian news media covered the progress of the Night
Wolves as if they were an invading
army, something that Mr. Dodik dismissed as anti-Russian hysteria.
As the bikers started out on their meandering journey from Belgrade, the
Serbian capital, to Banja Luka and then
back, the United States put down markers of its own by sending the assistant
secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, Wess Mitchell, on a diplomatic tour of the region.
The parallel tours, one by a buttondown American diplomat, the other by a
group of unkempt Russian and Serbian
bikers, are all part of a long struggle for
But Kremlin-funded bikers
on a tour stoked fear about
just what Moscow is up to
The Night Wolves, a Russian motorcycle gang known as Putin’s Angels and
widely feared as agents of meddling and
mayhem beyond Russia’s borders, provoked more bemusement and giggles
than awe on their latest outing, a nineday tour of the Balkans designed to
show that Russia still had some fervent
friends left in Europe.
Instead of roaring into town amid
throbbing engines and clouds of smoke,
the tattooed, potbellied bikers arrived
last month by car and minivan in Banja
Luka, the capital of Republika Srpska, a
would-be state born in bloodshed during
the Balkan wars of the 1990s.
Worried about the cold weather, they
left their bikes behind in Moscow but did
bring along leather vests, an icon of the
Virgin Mary and a “press secretary,” a
snarling woman whose main job was to
keep away the news media.
At a time of growing alarm over Russia’s readiness for reckless action
abroad following the nerve agent attack
on a former spy in England, the bikers’
so-called Russian Balkans Tour set
nerves on edge, highlighting how easily
Russia can keep everyone off balance by
dialing tensions up and down with lowcost foreign forays.
The Night Wolves billed their tour,
funded with a $41,000 grant from the
Kremlin, as a “pilgrimage” meant to
showcase the shared Orthodox faith of
Russia and the region, at least the bits of
it inhabited by ethnic Serbs like Republika Srpska, which is legally part of
Bosnia and Herzegovina.
But they enveloped their activities —
mainly visits to churches and drinking
sessions with local nationalist hot heads
— in such secrecy that they stoked concern over what Russia was up to in
Bosnia, a rickety state backed by the
West but undermined from within by the
Republika Srpska, which covers about
half its territory and wants to secede.
“Russia is very good at creating tension and getting attention — it is like a
dog running after a car,” said Aleksandar Trifunovic, the editor of Buka, a popular online news site in Banja Luka. The
tubby bikers, he added, were “a joke”
but had nonetheless sent a message that
“Russia stands behind” the Republika
Srpska and its leader, Milorad Dodik,
whom the United States last year labeled a “significant threat” to Bosnia
and placed on a Treasury Department
sanctions list.
Sending bikers without bikes, Mr. Trifunovic noted, was much cheaper than
sending hard cash, with which Moscow
has been extremely sparing.
Mr. Dodik, the Republika Srpska’s
president, complained in an interview
that, despite his frequent meetings with
Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, he
was still waiting for Moscow to follow
through on what he said was a 2014
promise to provide his government with
loans of at least $625 million.
“We have received nothing from Russia,” said Mr. Dodik, a former American
protégé who has morphed into a hardline Serb nationalist. “We had a promise
but got nothing. We are a bit disappointed.”
Instead, Mr. Dodik got the Night
Wolves, such a motley crew that one local newspaper asked whether it would
not have been better for Moscow to send
some ballet dancers.
“They looked pathetic; even I am
taller than they are,” said Srdjan Puhalo,
“Russia is very good at
creating tension and getting
attention — it is like a dog
running after a car.”
After a night of heavy drinking, members of the Night Wolves, a Russian motorcycle gang known as Putin’s Angels, visited the Velika Remeta monastery near Novi Sad, Serbia.
Father Stefan, Velika Remeta’s abbot, welcomed the bikers and said he was happy to
receive anyone who cherished the long spiritual bonds between Russia and Serbia.
The Night Wolves visited Christ the Savior Cathedral in Banja Luka, Bosnia, where an
ethnic Serb posed for photos with the bikers and declared, “They looked pathetic.”
a bookish, ethnic Serb psychologist who
posed with the bikers for photos outside
Christ the Savior Cathedral in Banja
Luka, perhaps the most enthusiastically
pro-Russian city outside Russia.
Mr. Dodik, whose security forces have
been stocking up on weapons and recently purchased 2,500 automatic rifles
for the police forces, insisted that he did
not want violence and wanted the Republika Srpska to secede peacefully
from Bosnia and join the European Union. The chances of that happening,
however, are near zero, not least because his would-be country claims territory, like the border town of Brcko, that
does not belong to it and has a habit of
belittling Bosnian Muslims as fanatics.
He described the Night Wolves, a mix
other group of motorcycle enthusiasts,
never mind human rights activists, however, has been evident since March 2014,
when its members traveled, this time
with their bikes, to Crimea to set up road
blocks and provide other support for a
Moscow-orchestrated takeover of the
Ukrainian peninsula on the Black Sea.
Some of them went on to fight alongside pro-Russian rebels who seized
power in eastern Ukraine.
They then reappeared in 2016 in
Montenegro, joining events celebrating
pan-Slavic solidarity and hostility to the
West ahead of what the authorities there
have since claimed was an unsuccessful,
Russian-sponsored coup attempt aimed
at blocking the country’s entry to NATO.
Washington takes such a dim view of
of Russians and Serbs, as harmless
“tourists” who were far more welcome
than “men in short trousers with beards
but no mustaches,” a reference to the
dress code and shaving habits of Muslims who follow a rigid form of the faith
promoted by Saudi Arabia and who
many Serb nationalists believe, against
all evidence, are numerous in Bosnia.
While claiming not to know much
about the Night Wolves, Mr. Dodik in
January gave a medal to their leader, Alexander Zaldostanov, a burly bruiser
and friend of Mr. Putin’s, to honor what
he described as the biker’s contribution
to human rights, the rule of law and relations between Republika Srpska and
That the Night Wolves are not just an-
the Night Wolves that the Treasury Department placed the gang on a sanctions
list in December 2014, accusing the bikers of kidnapping, assault and close ties
to Russia’s security services. It has
since added various affiliates, like a bike
shop in Moscow, to the list.
“These guys are not good-will ambassadors — we can all be sure about that,”
said Emir Suljagic, a former deputy defense minister in Sarajevo, the Bosnian
The Night Wolves, which has local
branches around the region, he added, is
part of an “extremist ecosystem” nurtured by Russia through its ties to the
Serbian Orthodox Church and radical
Serb nationalists who still dream of a
“Greater Serbia.” It was that idea that
influence in an unstable region with an
unhappy history of inciting wars and an
insatiable appetite for great power conspiracy theories.
“Spying is a very popular game in the
Balkans,” said Milos Solaja, a professor
of international relations at the University of Banja Luka. “People here greatly
enjoy intrigue and conspiracies.”
Russia “is not going to start World
War III over the Republika Srpska,” he
said, and only “wants to be represented
here — there is no big conspiracy.”
Bosnia, he added, has been “permanently failing” for more than a decade
and did not need any prodding by Russia
to become a failed state.
After a night of heavy drinking, the
Night Wolves started their Russian
Balkan Tour with a visit to Velika Remeta, an Orthodox monastery founded
in the 14th century near the Serbian
town of Novi Sad.
Their host was the monastery’s abbot,
Father Stefan, whose office displays a
big map of Serbia showing the country’s
borders at the time of the monastery’s
founding: They reach down into what
are now Greece and Albania. “We had
access to three seas then,” the abbot lamented. “Now we have none.”
He denied having any interest in politics and said he was not sure what the
bikers were up to. But, with a clock decorated with a portrait of Mr. Putin on his
wall and a Russian flag on his desk, Father Stefan said he was happy to receive
anyone who cherished the long spiritual
bonds between Russia and Serbia.
He served the bikers — who he acknowledged “did not seem very religious” — homemade red wine and
cherry liquor.
Apparently eager to avoid parallels
with the Night Wolves’ antics in Crimea,
the group’s leader, Mr. Zaldostanov, did
not join his comrades on their Balkan
“The purpose of our pilgrimage is to
expand the spiritual bond between people and friends in Serbia and the Republic of Srpska,” Yevgeny Strogov, the
stand-in leader, told journalists at the
border crossing between Serbia and
The trip, he said, was all about “connecting cultures,” adding that Russia
and Serbs “have the same culture and
the same religion. That means a lot to
Valerie Hopkins contributed reporting
from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Faced with drought, the pharaohs tried to adapt
More than 3,000 years ago, the queen of
the Hittites, who lived in what is now
Turkey, sent a clay tablet to Ramses II,
the Egyptian pharaoh, with an S O S: “I
have no grain in my lands.”
Previously, the two kingdoms had
been at war. Now a severe drought was
carving a path of destruction through
the ancient Levant, killing crops, cattle
and people.
But the Egyptians, unlike the Hittites,
had anticipated a crisis and planned
ahead for a food shortage, researchers
at Tel Aviv University say. And in an attempt to stabilize their borders, the
pharoahs appear to have mounted a relief effort, sending grain to their former
In a study published in this year’s edition of the journal Egypt and the Levant,
the researchers pieced together ancient
evidence — including flint and bone
records from the fallen city of Megiddo,
fossilized pollen data from the Sea of
Galilee and DNA from ancient cattle —
to shed light on how Bronze Age Egyptians used careful planning and policies
to adapt to a drought that lasted from
around 1250 B.C. to 1100 B.C., while their
ancient counterparts appeared to be
less well prepared.
Even with preparation, the Egyptian
empire ultimately collapsed. But the
study shows how recognizing and preparing for climate disaster can make societies more resilient.
“All this put together, you see a picture
of a crisis and the reaction of an empire
in order to try to stabilize the situation,”
said Israel Finkelstein, a professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University and the
lead author of the paper. “For a while
they managed, and then it was too late.”
For about a decade, archaeologists
have known that widespread drought in
the Mediterranean was a culprit in the
fall of civilizations there in the Late
Bronze Age. But it is only in this latest
study that evidence of the pharaohs’
prescience has emerged: In anticipation
of a crisis in their empire’s southeastern
arid zones, ancient leaders ordered increased grain production in its greener
parts, and crossbred local cattle with
zebu, or humped cattle, to create a more
heat-resistant plow animal, the researchers found.
At the ancient ruins of Megiddo in
northern Israel, Dr. Finkelstein and his
colleagues also discovered sickle blades
used for harvesting grain and a high frequency of cattle bones. The age of those
bones indicates that the animals were
used for plowing crops, rather than for
food, explained one of the paper’s authors, Lidar Sapir-Hen, an archaeozoologist from the Steinhardt Museum of
Natural History at Tel Aviv University.
These agricultural efforts managed to
extend the life of the Egyptian empire
about half a century longer than it might
otherwise have lasted, according to the
archaeologists. The lesson for our own
civilization — which is likely to face increasingly severe droughts as humans
change the climate far faster than nature has ever done — is to plan ahead,
Dr. Finkelstein said.
“This collapse of the Late Bronze Age
is not just a matter of ancient history
that has no relevance to us,” said Eric H.
Cline, a professor of classics and anthropology at George Washington Univer-
sity, who worked at the Megiddo site for
two decades but was not involved in this
latest study. Just as drought was among
the “stressors” leading to famine and
war during the Bronze Age, Dr. Cline
said, today’s droughts could amplify existing problems.
“It’s a perfect storm: You’ve got not
just drought and famine but there’s also
earthquakes, there’s also invaders, and
that’s what causes collapse,” he said, referring to a confluence of events which
some think led to the end of the Bronze
Age, which included powerful earthquakes in the region, and the invasion of
the Levant by a group known as the Sea
Peoples. The ancient world, like our
own, was interdependent and suffered a
“domino” fall, Dr. Cline added.
Gavin A. Schmidt, the director of the
Goddard Institute for Space Studies at
NASA, said that in some ways, modern
civilization had not advanced much in
its coping mechanisms for climate crises.
“If the sea is rising, you either get out
of the way, or you get flooded; if there’s a
drought, you either plant more droughtresistant crops, or you die,” he said. But,
he added, modern humans possess
much better predictive power and are
therefore “the first generation who is
able to take mitigation seriously.”
Yet many countries are still behind on
goals set as part of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
“This is the tragedy,” said John F. Haldon, a historian at Princeton University
who studies how ancient civilizations
coped with climatic upheaval. “Everyone’s aware of the problem but there’s a
massive stasis in the system.”
If a civilization’s leadership “has feet
of clay and isn’t willing to take the challenge on in an innovative way,” Dr. Haldon said, “then often the challenge will
overcome them.”
Present-day humanity may have the
resources and tools to deal with climate
change, Dr. Haldon said, but action is often stifled by those who have a vested
interest in denying the reality of humancaused climate change. “We seem to
have the idea that people in ancient
times or people in the past generally
weren’t quite as clever as we are, but
Homo sapiens is Homo sapiens,” he
“If it’s something that we are creating
— and we see what happened the last
time — I think we’d be foolish not to take
steps to stop it,” Dr. Cline said. “The
problem is when we have deniers,” he
added. “Then we’re no better off than
the Hittites.”
4 | TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018
Being dead, he learned, is hard to overcome
Reliu Constantin had not been home in
almost 20 years. His family had not
heard from him in all that time, and he
hadn’t sent any money back. All efforts
to locate him in Turkey, where he had
gone for work, had been fruitless.
Under the circumstances, it seemed
entirely reasonable that his estranged
wife ask a Romanian court to declare
him legally dead. A death certificate was
issued in 2016. The only problem was
that Mr. Constantin was very much
But that was just the beginning of Mr.
Constantin’s troubles, as he discovered
when he finally returned home in January. In a plot twist straight out of a Kafka
novel, a different Romanian court last
month refused to overturn his death certificate, leaving him in legal limbo, between life and administrative death.
“I am officially dead. I have no income,” he said, sitting at a kitchen table
in a dingy Communist-era apartment
block in the eastern Romanian city of
Barlad. “I spend my days going back
and forth between governmental agencies, the police station, the courts. I have
diabetes — without papers I can’t go for
a medical checkup.”
His apparent return from the grave
was also hard for friends and family. His
mother was hospitalized for three days
with shock after seeing him. One old acquaintance almost fainted when he
walked up to her. “Reliu, is it really
you?’’ she said.
His daughter Luiza, now in her late
30s and living in Spain, reproached him
for being absent from her life for the last
20 years. “Do you know what I’ve been
through? I have three kids,” he says she
told him.
Reached by telephone in Spain, she
politely declined to comment.
Mr. Constantin, 63, returned to his native Romania in January after being deported from Turkey, where the authorities discovered he had been living illegally for almost two decades.
He had gone to Turkey in 1992, initially working on a building site and
then as a cook. At first, he returned every few months, and he sent money
back to his wife and young daughter. But
in 1999, during a visit home, he decided
to leave for good.
In Mr. Constantin’s telling, his was an
acrimonious and unhappy marriage,
with infidelity on both sides. During that
last visit home, his wife was drinking
heavily and a man turned up on his
doorstep around midnight.
Reliu Constantin in his apartment in Barlad, Romania. He worked in Turkey for decades and had cut off ties with his family, so his wife had him declared legally dead in 2016.
“I spend my days going back
and forth between governmental
agencies, the police station, the
His wife, who now lives in Italy, did
not respond to repeated attempts to
reach her.
“I cut off ties with everyone, as I didn’t
want them tracking me down,” he said
about family and friends in Romania. “I
knew it was hard for my daughter, but I
felt it would be better for her.”
After a 7.6-magnitude earthquake
struck Turkey in August 1999, resulting
in an estimated 17,000 deaths, those in
Romania who knew Mr. Constantin wondered if he had been among the dead.
It wasn’t until 2013, after not hearing
from her husband for 14 years, that Mr.
Constantin’s wife asked a court to declare him dead. With family and friends
testifying that they had not heard from
him since 1999, and the Turkish Interior
Ministry saying they had no record of
him for that period, the Romanian court
concluded that he was most likely dead.
His death certificate was issued in
May 2016, with the year of death listed
as 2003, the same year his passport expired.
Mr. Constantin, who was living in Istanbul at the time, was oblivious to all of
this. When the authorities detained him,
he was told that his case was classified
and that he would never be allowed to
return to Turkey. It was only upon landing in the Romanian capital after 26
days in Turkish detention that he was
told he was legally dead.
“At the airport in Bucharest, I was
surrounded by customs officials. They
said, ‘You’re dead,’” he recalled with disbelief. “I thought they were joking. I was
the only one who didn’t know. The people who escorted me off the plane knew,
everyone knew except me.”
For the next six hours, he was questioned about his hometown — where the
schools and factories were, details about
his family, including dates of birth. Finally, he was released.
But he was still not in the clear, even
with temporary documentation from
the Romanian Embassy in Turkey that
had allowed him to return home.
Sitting in the apartment he once
shared with his wife and daughter — it
was empty when he returned — Mr.
Constantin described the frustration of
waiting months for the Romanian authorities to legally bring him back from
the dead.
“I’m a living ghost,” he said, chain
smoking cigarettes and occasionally
pacing around the apartment. “My daily
routine has been waiting around, going
to fix my mother’s bandages, going to
check with the tribunal to see if anything
has changed.”
The legal status of the apartment is a
bit of a mystery in itself. Mr. Constantin
paid for it, but his wife presumably took
full ownership after he was declared
dead. Whether he would regain co-ownership if the death certificate were annulled is unclear.
The last few months have been challenging for Mr. Constantin. The money
he brought with him from Turkey is long
gone, and he survives on handouts from
family members. He cannot get work
without a valid ID.
Since his case began drawing international attention, Mr. Constantin has
been swamped with interview requests,
which he has mostly ignored. “There
has been no benefit from all the media
attention,” he said. “The only benefit is
all of the journalists are getting paid.”
So for now, he waits, and because the
court’s decision was based on procedural grounds, legal experts say, he has a
reasonable expectation that the death
certificate will eventually be annulled.
Mr. Constantin was the victim mostly
of poor legal advice, trying to appeal the
court’s decision to declare him dead,
even though the time limit for an appeal
had passed. He also applied to a different court than the one that had issued
the declaration.
“The court didn’t rule on the merits of
the claim but rather on procedural
grounds,” said Catalin Alexandru, a
partner at the Bucharest law firm PeliFilip, adding that Mr. Constantin could
file an annulment claim that is not subject to a deadline. “I can’t see why, on
merit, he wouldn’t be successful,” he
Paradoxically, a week after the decision in Mr. Constantin’s case, a different
Romanian court announced that a man
who died in October should have his
driver’s license returned, and be reimbursed for a fine he had paid, after his
conviction for speeding was overturned.
For Mr. Constantin, the news media
attention may have had one upside: A
lawyer offered recently to help him on a
pro bono basis. His previous lawyer
failed to show up in court, Mr. Constantin said.
“If you don’t have anyone to help you,
it is quite difficult to annul a decision of
the court,” said Cristian Calinita, the
new lawyer, adding that he had sent the
required documents for Mr. Constantin.
“Once it is registered, it should be about
two weeks to be solved.”
Even if he is released from his state of
purgatory, Mr. Constantin is unsure
what his next steps might be. Despite
being told he can never return to Turkey,
he still holds out hope.
“I want to be buried in Turkey,” he
said. “My life is there.”
Dismantling a police state in Uzbekistan
leader since independence in 1991, still
allows no real opposition, while Tajikistan and Turkmenistan have grown
more repressive.
In Uzbekistan over the past year, at
least 27 jailed high-profile dissidents,
some of them held in prison for nearly
two decades, have been released and
about 18,000 people who were judged
disloyal by the S.N.B. under Mr. Karimov have been removed from a blacklist that made it impossible for them to
travel or get work.
The government has also started to
address one of Uzbekistan’s most egregious and widespread human rights
abuses — the forcing of doctors, nurses,
teachers, students and others to work as
effective slave laborers during the annual cotton harvest.
“There has been a massive change for
the better,” said Jonas Astrup, the chief
technical adviser for the Tashkent office
of the International Labor Organization,
a United Nations body that for years
complained about the systematic abuse
of involuntary cotton pickers.
Sodiq Safoev, a close confidant of the
new president, Mr. Mirziyoyev, and vice
chairman of Uzbekistan’s Senate, said
the thaw, while opposed by some interests, would continue because there was
a consensus in favor of change. “The ice
is melting in this country,” he said.
Just getting to his office, however, requires screening by three sets of security guards and getting past groups of
S.N.B. officers patrolling the sprawling,
sealed-off grounds of the Senate with
automatic weapons.
“Cleaning up” the country’s security
system, Mr. Safoev said, “is one of the
main directions of our reform process.”
This process, he acknowledged, has
faced resistance in a country held in a
straitjacket for so long by arbitrary red
lines beyond which nobody was allowed
to stray.
“The biggest red line,” he added, “is
one running through people’s minds.”
Getting people to shake off their fear
and suspicion, however, depends on
reining in the S.N.B., which under Mr.
Karimov infested the country with informers, filled jails with political prisoners who were routinely tortured and
crushed the faintest flickering of dissent
with often brutal force.
Katya Balkhibaeva, the jailed journalist’s wife, who was not allowed to see her
husband until more than a week after
his arrest, said she could not understand
how, after so many official speeches
about the need for change, her family
had been sucked into such a nightmare.
“How this could happen is a mystery
to me,” she said.
Surat Ikramov, a veteran human
rights activist, said the case was part of
a “big struggle.” He praised Mr. Mirziyoyev, who took power immediately after
Mr. Karimov’s death, for trying to defang Uzbekistan’s formidable apparatus
of repression but said the system left by
Mr. Karimov had strong roots.
He believes the case against Mr. Abdullaev, whom the S.N.B. has accused of
being the mystery author of a series of
sometimes well-informed but incendiary political tracts written under a pen
name, was aimed at showing the new
president that “he has enemies everywhere” and cannot risk easing up on repression.
“They were a state within a state under Karimov, and obviously they don’t
want this to change,” Mr. Ikramov said.
Mr. Safoev, the Senate vice chairman,
acknowledged that there had been
“abuses” after Mr. Abdullaev’s arrest in
September but said these were now being corrected. “There will be a free and
fair court for him,” he said, adding that a
new law on the security service and
other measures would end the existence
of a “state within a state without any
sort of oversight.”
On the first day of Mr. Abdullaev’s
trial in an open court on March 7, the
judge asked the journalist to take off his
shirt to see whether there were traces of
torture — and then accepted a request
by the defense team that the proceedings be suspended until doctors could
carry out a full medical examination of
the defendant.
The medical exam, which human
rights activists said ignored crucial
facts like the dates of Mr. Abdullaev’s
detention, did not confirm that the journalist had been tortured.
But when his trial resumed last week
he and other defendants, including a
jailed blogger, were allowed to testify at
a court session open to representatives
from Human Rights Watch and news
media organizations that under Mr. Karimov were barred from entering Uzbekistan.
In a country where courts for years
did no more than rubber-stamp judgments decided in advance by the S.N.B.,
the judge’s willingness to address the issue of torture and open the court to observers, human rights activists said,
was a clear sign that Uzbekistan was
trying to change its ways.
Mr. Karimov, who ruled from 1991 until his death in 2016, was unforgiving of
dissent, particularly after unrest in the
eastern town of Andijon in 2005, which
ended with armed S.N.B. officers killing
hundreds of unarmed protesters. So
deep was this obsession that, according
to the former British ambassador in
Tashkent, his regime boiled some of its
opponents to death. Mr. Karimov even
The cotton harvest in 2003. Doctors, nurses, teachers, students and others have been forced to work on the annual crop.
had members of his own family arrested.
Shukhrat Ganiev, the director of the
Humanitarian Legal Center in the city of
Bukhara, recalled that he thought Mr.
Karimov’s successor Mr. Mirziyoyev, a
former Soviet apparatchik, would be
just another Karimov.
“I advised people that we should not
expect anything from him,” he said. Today, free from surveillance and pleasantly surprised by the new leadership’s
tone, he conceded: “I admit I was
On a visit to Mr. Ganiev’s city, Bukhara, in February, President Mirziyoyev
The bodies of victims of clashes between Uzbek government forces and local demonstrators in the town of Andijon in 2005. Hundreds of unarmed protesters were killed.
described wayward members of the security service as “mad dogs” who
needed to be put down.
“No other country has given so much
power to unscrupulous people in uniform,” the president said, promising to
punish officers responsible for torture.
Mr. Ganiev said he was still not sure
whether the thaw will change the system at its core or merely “reshuffle
posts among the elite” so as to create a
“new clan system” built around the new
president instead of Mr. Karimov.
All power still flows from the presidency despite a decision by Mr. Mirziyoyev not to move into the vast colonnaded palace in central Tashkent built
for Mr. Karimov, whose memory is celebrated in a recently opened museum on
the grounds of the now-empty presidential palace.
The hope of activists like Mr. Ganiev,
however, is that this concentration of
power will allow the new president to
bend even the security services to his
In recent weeks, more than a dozen
S.N.B. officers have been arrested and
the security agency has been ordered to
vacate its headquarters, a feared citadel
in the center of Tashkent, and move to
less imposing quarters on the outskirts
of the capital.
This followed the January dismissal
of Rustam Inoyatov, who had led the security service for more than 20 years.
His deputy, Shukhrat Gulyamov, has
also been fired. Mr. Gulyamov was put
on trial and sentenced to life in prison
for arms trafficking, links to organized
crime and other offenses.
“There seems no doubt that Mirziyoyev is cleaning the ranks” said Steve
Swerdlow, a researcher at Human
Rights Watch and strong critic of Uzbekistan in the past. “This could be just intended to neutralize potential opposition, but there is clearly a purge going on
of the S.N.B. and key figures in the prosecutor’s office and the Interior Ministry.”
“Some of those arrested have been
high-profile torturers,” he added.
In a small but symbolically significant
step, the president signed a decree on
March 14 changing the S.N.B.’s name to
the State Security Service and reshaping its mandate to include “protecting
the human rights and freedoms of Uzbek citizens.”
Yelena Ulaeava, a veteran human
rights activist who under Mr. Karimov
was repeatedly jailed, committed to psychiatric clinics and force fed drugs, said
the S.N.B. had now stopped harassing
her and her family and even let her
stage small protests outside the president’s office.
She disputes that the use of forced labor in cotton fields has actually stopped
but is so happy with Uzbekistan’s new
direction that she started a petition to
get Mr. Mirziyoyev nominated for the
Nobel Peace Prize.
“Our country has shifted 180 degrees,” she said.
All the same, she added, the S.N.B. is
still full of veterans “who think that
beating people is normal” and because
of this there is still fear.
“It is not over yet,” she said.
TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018 | 5
Abalone become a deadly lure for poachers
With delicacy overfished,
untrained divers venture
into hazardous waters
One man vanished diving at midnight.
Another was attacked by a great white
shark in deep water. Two more drowned,
one in borrowed scuba gear he wasn’t
qualified to use.
All four men, who died over the past
few months, were casualties of an entrenched illicit trade: poaching abalone,
a seafood delicacy that sells for enormous prices in Asia.
The shellfish, which once smothered
reefs in South Africa, in some places
packed as tightly as cobblestones, has
become more difficult to find as a result
of overfishing, luring untrained divers
into deeper and more deadly waters.
“The old reefs have been hit too hard
and haven’t had time to recover,” said a
diver from Hangberg, an impoverished
fishing community in Cape Town, who
insisted on anonymity because he did
not want to alert the police to his poaching.
With stocks of the shellfish declining
in South Africa, legal quotas on harvesting it are strictly enforced. But in Hangberg, hundreds of families have turned
to the abalone black market for income,
as factory closings and the demise of
commercial fishing have contributed to
a spike in unemployment in recent
Fueling the demand for exports of the
mollusk is China’s rising middle class,
increasingly eager to consume high-status foods. For more than 2,000 years, abalone has been served to celebrate special occasions and honor guests, taking
a pride of place alongside other luxury
ingredients like shark fin and sea cucumber. It has a rich, buttery flavor, and
when it is prepared correctly, the flesh is
tender, though it can be rubbery and
One of the world’s most expensive abalone species, Haliotis midae, is found
only on the southern and western
shores of South Africa, where its high
value, set amid sweeping poverty, has
fueled a poaching epidemic since the
end of apartheid in the early 1990s.
When abalone was more plentiful
closer to shore, the greatest threat to
poachers was arrest, and the authorities
continue to patrol the remaining
patches where the mollusk can still be
Despite the prospect of fines and prison terms, poachers are driven by a
strong economic incentive because abalone fetches high prices. As a result, abalone smuggling has become an important part of the underground economy in
many fishing communities.
While first-time offenders may face
fines as low as $10, the penalties for
kingpins can rise to $10,000, with prison
sentences exceeding 15 years. But for
most poachers, prison terms are seldom
longer than a year, and convictions are
Above, a poacher with an abalone, in Hangberg, a fishing community in Cape Town. Below, South African police officers with a marine law enforcement unit questioning a poacher.
rare in South Africa’s overburdened
court system.
Over the years, the diver from Hangberg said, he has upgraded his house
with the money earned from poaching,
adding extra rooms and a watertight
metal roof, and it stands apart from the
lopsided shanties of his neighbors.
But now resource depletion is changing the risk calculus, with divers forced
to try to find abalone in turbulent waters
and areas known to be frequented by
sharks, making death a bigger part of
the poaching equation.
“Abalone have been harvested heavily in kelp beds, so now poachers try
rougher areas or deeper and more exposed places,” said Serge Raemaekers,
a researcher from the University of
Cape Town, who has studied the abalone
One community, about 100 miles east
of Cape Town, has been hit especially
hard as divers venture into some of the
most dangerous waters in the world.
In a desolate informal settlement near
the town of Gansbaai, divers with no historical connection to the fishing industry have taken to swimming nearly two
miles out to Dyer Island, a global hot
spot for shark cage diving, to hunt in
comparatively untouched abalone beds.
Last September, one diver, Sivuyile
Xelela, was dragged to his death by a
great white shark in front of other
Despite the risk of such violent death,
poaching has become an important
source of revenue here. “Before, when
we were working on the farms here, we
were hungry,” said Thami, a diver from
the community, who insisted on using
only his first name because he feared
prosecution for poaching.
Formal employment is hard to find in
the township, a clutch of small government homes and metal shacks at the end
of a dirt track, and many men have begun diving for abalone, residents said.
“The work is very dangerous, but the
men do it for the money,” said a local
priest, Jonathan Xama. “In church we
pray for their safety. This is not a good
job for anybody, and we also pray that
they find something better.”
Within a month of the September
shark attack, two more local divers,
Bradley Fick and Waylon Love, had
drowned, one at Dyer Island and one in
the nearby fishing community of Hawston. Both had recently begun using
scuba equipment without proper training, friends and family said, in order to
access abalone on deeper reefs.
In February, Raeburn Jansson died
trying to poach abalone in the waters off
Cape Town. His widow told local news
media that he was trying to earn money
to fend off the threat of the couple’s four
children being taken by social services.
Divers at the start of the poaching
supply chain say they earn around $15 a
pound of shucked meat.
A decent harvest of 35 pounds can
bring $525, almost double South Africa’s
monthly minimum wage, $295. When
abalone was more abundant, it was common for divers to harvest 150 pounds or
more on a single diving trip.
For commercial divers working for legal abalone fisheries, the work is done
under safer conditions, for less pay.
Once harvested, the shellfish enters a
network of buyers and middlemen, and
is predominantly shipped to Hong Kong,
where dried South African abalone is
worth over $200 a pound, meaning large
profits for those further up the supply
According to Markus Burgener, a senior program officer with Traffic, a nonprofit organization that monitors wildlife smuggling, poachers have stripped
more than 40,000 tons of abalone from
South African waters since 2000.
Some 3,500 tons were poached in
2016, Mr. Burgener said, more than 30
times the entire legal catch. “Poaching
has been steadily increasing,” he said.
Quotas for the legal abalone fishery
have been slashed by nearly 85 percent
since the mid-1990s, with three formerly
productive zones closed entirely to fishing.
Yet, the syndicates controlling the
poaching have shown little interest in
sustainability: They are Chinese criminal groups who source abalone from local street gangs, often in exchange for
drugs like methamphetamine, according to police officials and a report from
the Institute for Security Studies.
In Cape Town, on a recent hot afternoon in South Africa’s summer, four
poachers from Hangberg scrambled
down some granite boulders near
Clifton, a beach crowded with vacationers. The men, who were carrying a
cooler to disguise their catch as a picnic,
were gambling on finding undisturbed
abalone beds in a highly visible area.
In the kelp beds they descended to
peer into rocky cracks, jabbing flat metal levers to dislodge the small creatures
they found. Yet the abalone were scarce,
and they got only enough to earn around
$120 each — barely worth the risk, they
Too many divers, they said, had been
there already. Next time, they would
have to go farther out.
Vaping threatens to hook a new generation on nicotine
The student had been caught vaping in
school three times before he sat in the
vice principal’s office at Cape Elizabeth
High School in Maine this winter and
shamefacedly admitted what by then
was obvious.
“I can’t stop,” he told the vice principal, Nate Carpenter.
So Mr. Carpenter asked the school
nurse about getting the teenager nicotine gum or a patch, to help him get
through the school day without violating
the rules prohibiting the use of electronic cigarettes, known as vaping.
E-cigarettes have been touted by
their makers and some public health experts as devices to help adult smokers
kick the habit. But school officials, struggling to control an explosion of vaping
among high school and middle school
students across the country, fear that
the devices are creating a new generation of nicotine addicts.
In his four years at Cape Elizabeth,
Mr. Carpenter says he can’t recall seeing
a single student smoke a cigarette. But
vaping is suddenly everywhere.
“It’s our demon,” he said. “It’s the one
risky thing that you can do in your life —
with little consequence, in their mind —
to show that you’re a little bit of a rebel.”
School officials say the problem
sneaked up on them last fall, when students arrived with a new generation of
easily concealed devices that have a
sleek high-tech design. The most popular, made by Juul, a company based in
San Francisco that has received venture
capital money, resemble a flash drive
and have become so ubiquitous students have turned Juul into a verb.
Tasting like fruit or mint, these devices produce little telltale plume, making it possible for some students to
vape even in class.
“They can pin them on to their shirt
collar or bra strap and lean over and
take a hit every now and then, and who’s
to know?” said Howard Colter, the interim superintendent in Cape Elizabeth.
E-cigarettes are widely considered
safer than traditional cigarettes, but
they are too new for researchers to understand the long-term health effects,
making today’s youth what public
health experts call a “guinea pig generation.”
Health officials say several things are
clear though: Nicotine is highly addictive and the pods in vaping devices have
a higher concentration of nicotine than
do individual cigarettes. Also, a growing
body of research indicates that vaping is
leading more adolescents to try cigarettes.
Ashley Gould, the chief administrative officer of Juul, said that the company’s products are intended solely for
adults who want to quit smoking.
“We do not want kids using our products,” she said. “Our product is not only
not for kids, it’s not for non-nicotine users.”
She said schools and the e-cigarette
industry need to work together to understand why teenagers are vaping, and
suggested that stress is a big reason. To
that end, she said, Juul has offered
schools a curriculum that includes
mindfulness exercises for students to
keep them away from the devices the
company sells.
“We saw the same thing from Philip
Morris with the We Card program, and
the evaluation was that those things
don’t work,” Jennifer Kovarik, who runs
tobacco prevention programs for Boulder County, Colo., said of the company’s
efforts to keep their products away from
teenagers. “If they didn’t want youth to
use it, it would be sold in 18-and-overonly establishments. It’s available at
Circle K’s across the country.”
E-cigarettes deliver nicotine through
a liquid that is heated into vapor and inhaled, cutting out the cancer-causing tar
of combustible cigarettes. But vaping
liquids contain additives such as propylene glycol and glycerol that can form
carcinogenic compounds when they are
heated. Diacetyl, a chemical used to flavor some vape “juice,” has been linked
to so-called popcorn lung, the scarring
and obstruction of the lungs’ smallest
airways. A study published in the journal Pediatrics in March found substantially increased levels of five carcinogenic compounds in the urine of teenagers who vape.
“I’m afraid that we’re going to be
A school nurse in Boulder, Colo., during a presentation at Nevin Platt Middle School in
March, showing a collection of vape pens confiscated from students.
hooking a new generation of kids on nicotine, with potentially unknown risks,”
said Dr. Mark L. Rubinstein, the lead author of the study and a professor of pediatrics at the University of California,
San Francisco. “With cigarettes, we’ve
been studying them for many years, we
have a pretty good idea of what the risks
are. We just don’t know what the risks of
inhaling all these flavorings and dyes
are, and what we do know is already
pretty scary.”
The industry points to a 2016 British
study that found that vaping does not
lead nonsmokers to become smokers.
But the 2016 Monitoring the Future
study, sponsored by the federal government’s National Institute on Drug
Abuse, followed high school seniors who
had never smoked a cigarette and found
that a year later, those who had used ecigarettes were about four times as
likely to have smoked a cigarette. A
study released in January by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine similarly concluded
that vaping led young people to smoke
cigarettes, although it did not determine
whether they became habitual smokers
or just experimented.
Schools and local officials have stiffened penalties for students caught with
vaping devices, suspending and even
expelling them, and have sent letters to
parents pleading with them to be on the
lookout for a waft of fruit smell and, as
one superintendent wrote, “‘pens’ that
aren’t pens.”
Several school districts in New Jersey
recently adopted policies requiring any
student caught with an e-cigarette to be
drug tested, because the devices can be
used to smoke marijuana.
Oak Ridge High School in Placerville,
Calif., shut down all but two bathrooms
during classes in November and placed
monitors at the doors during lunch to
make sure not too many students were
in the bathroom together. (Juul devices,
for example, contain as much nicotine
as a pack of cigarettes, so they are easy
to share.) New Trier High School outside Chicago is considering installing
vaping detectors in bathrooms.
With so many students caught multiple times, some schools have moved
from punishment to intervention, requiring students caught vaping to receive counseling or substance abuse
“Despite all of the boundaries set by
families and parents and the schools,
and at risk of even expulsion, students
are continuing to use,” said Liz Blackwell, a school nurse in the Boulder Valley School District in Colorado. “They
don’t want to be kicked out of school,
they don’t want to suffer any punishment or discipline, and they don’t want
to have a bad relationship with their parents. They continue to use because it’s
an addiction.”
As part of her treatment plan, one of
Ms. Blackwell’s students asked if she
could stand at the back of the class and
shake her foot when she started to feel
the twitch to vape.
Two years ago, Boulder surveyed its
students and found that 45 percent of
high school students had used e-cigarettes, with 30 percent as regular users.
Officials say they expect the most recent
survey, taken last year, to show that
about 45 percent of middle school students have used e-cigarettes.
The 2017 Monitoring the Future survey on adolescent drug use found that
24 percent of high school seniors reported vaping daily, which the study defined as vaping on 20 or more occasions
in the previous 30 days, said Richard A.
Miech, a professor at the Institute for
Social Research at the University of
Michigan and a principal investigator of
the study. Nineteen percent reported
vaping on 40 or more occasions during
that period.
Fifty-six percent reported vaping
only on one to five occasions. Gregory
Conley, the president of the American
Vaping Association, which supports
what he calls “fair and sensible” regulation of e-cigarettes, said that number indicated that most students who are vaping are not becoming addicted. “You
can’t use the definition of dependence
and apply it to anyone using only one to
five days in the prior month,” he said.
Schools say that unlike adults, most
students who vape are starting out as
“I have the same conversation with
every student we catch vaping,” said
Scott Carpenter, the dean for discipline
at Cumberland High School in Rhode Island. “I say, ‘If I handed you a cigarette
The long-term health effects
of vaping are not yet known.
would you smoke it?’ And 100 percent of
them look at you like you’re absolutely
crazy for even suggesting that they’d do
Federal law prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under 18, and Juul and
some other e-cigarette companies ask
web purchasers to check a box saying
that they are 21 or older. But the growing
vaping industry has many items and
campaigns that seem to appeal specifically to youth.
There are vaping cloud contests, a
line of hoodies and backpacks called
VaprWear that make it easy to conceal
the devices, and labels of vape “sauce”
that resemble the designs of well-known
candy wrappers like those of Jolly
Ranchers and Blow Pops.
In Millburn, N.J., one of the school districts that now require any student
caught with a vaping device to be drug
tested, teenagers said Juuls began
showing up at parties last year, and by
fall were at school and football games.
Now, students post videos of themselves
doing vapor tricks on social media.
At a local deli where seniors go for
lunch, a dozen students interviewed
said it was easy to buy a Juul online or at
a gas station or convenience store, and
to buy refill pods in the hallway at
school. None would publicly admit to
owning a device, but all said they had
tried vaping.
Ryan Wenslau, 18, said he thought vaping started for most students as an occasional diversion, “something to do.”
For those who continue, “I wouldn’t necessarily call it an addiction,” he said,
“but it’s habitual.”
While there might be chemicals in vaping, they argued, there are more in cigarettes.
“Technically, it’s better,” said Fares
Alhabboubi, 17.
School officials lament that teenagers
equate safer with safe. But many say the
unfamiliarity of e-cigarettes has made it
hard to convince parents of the risks as
6 | TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018
Family finds political power a burden
It was sweet redemption for Charles
Kushner last year when his son Jared
was named senior White House adviser.
A dozen years earlier, a sordid scandal
stemming partly from a family fallingout had reduced the senior Mr. Kushner
from a real estate baron to a felon making wallets at a prison camp in Alabama.
Now, with his son newly installed as a
top aide to the president, Mr. Kushner
even expressed hope, one close family
friend said, that he might receive a pardon.
Absolution, however, is not what the
White House has conferred on the Kushners. For the patriarch and his family,
the pinnacle of American political power
has turned out to be a wellspring of trouble. Jared Kushner is embroiled in the
special counsel inquiry, including questions about whether he discussed the
family’s business with foreign officials
— a suggestion he has denied. His
younger brother, Josh, has opposed the
Trump presidency, driving a wedge between the men in a family that prizes
close ties.
Charles Kushner, his company and his
family are assailed by criminal and regulatory inquiries largely rooted in their
newfound access to presidential power.
The family’s East Coast-based real estate empire is under a fiscal and ethical
cloud, shunned by some investors who
fear being dragged into the spotlight
trained on the Kushner nexus with President Trump. Two major New York City
properties are on creditors’ watch lists,
one after foreign investors backed out of
a financing deal.
In a recent interview in his 15th-floor
office at 666 Fifth Avenue — an aluminum-clad Manhattan skyscraper that
has become a symbol of the family’s
troubles — Mr. Kushner brushed it all
aside as false insinuations whipped into
a publicity frenzy partly by political opponents.
Slender, silver-haired and impeccably
dressed, Mr. Kushner, 63, was by turns
charming, blunt and philosophical, an
engaging contrast to Jared Kushner’s
more stilted persona. He made little effort to hide his contempt for the investigations of his business and family, saying that the stacks of records he has voluntarily given investigators rebut any
suggestion of impropriety. “Go knock
yourselves out for the next 10 years,” he
said. “We didn’t do anything wrong.”
A long list of investigators are testing
that claim. Federal prosecutors are
studying whether one of Mr. Kushner’s
daughters dangled White House influence before prospective Chinese investors. So is the Securities and Exchange
Commission. The federal prosecutors
are also investigating the terms in
which Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest lender, refinanced a Kushner-owned
property in Times Square.
State regulators in New York are examining Kushner loans from that bank
and two others, including lines of credit
to Jared Kushner. Jared Kushner’s
White House meetings with lenders and
partners of Kushner Companies have
raised questions about conflicts between his official and personal interests.
Most recently, the head of the federal
Office of Government Ethics informed a
House member in a letter that he had
asked the White House counsel to examine meetings in the White House last
year between Jared Kushner and officials from two financial companies. The
companies later lent Kushner Companies more than a half-billion dollars.
The meetings were reported earlier
by The New York Times; the letter was
reported by CNN. Sarah Huckabee
Sanders, the White House press secretary, said on March 27 that the counsel’s
office was not investigating whether Mr.
Donald J. Trump’s election has drawn scrutiny of the family business of his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, center, who is married to Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka.
Charles Kushner has brushed aside the inquiries into the family business. He once
expressed hope that the family’s White House ties might lead to a pardon.
Kushner broke the law. Charles Kushner
described the loans as arm’s-length
transactions that did not involve his son.
On top of all of this, the political prize
at the root of those travails — Jared
Kushner’s White House post — appears
to be losing its luster. Although he remains Mr. Trump’s senior adviser, Jared
Kushner, 37, was stripped of his top-secret security clearance in February for
reasons that remain undisclosed. Mr.
Kushner, who friends say was taken
aback by the decision, has avoided questions about how he will fulfill his oncesweeping White House duties without
that privilege.
He has also lost some of his closest allies: two aides, Reed Cordish and Josh
Raffel, recently announced their departures, as did Gary D. Cohn, the president’s economic adviser. Still hoping to
make an impact on global affairs, Mr.
Kushner has turned his attention from
the Middle East stalemate to American
relations with Mexico.
Charles Kushner is adamant that his
family remains united in the face of their
difficulties. But friends say Jared Kushner’s sister is distressed by investigators’ focus on her, and there are tensions
between Jared and Josh over Mr.
Trump. That Josh Kushner, 32, has made
no secret of the fact that he did not vote
for Mr. Trump upset his brother, several
friends said. Voting records show Josh
Kushner did not vote in the 2016 presidential election. Josh’s spokesman, Jesse Derris, said the brothers “are just as
close as ever.”
Tales of his distaste for the Trump administration continue to surface, most
recently at a January party at Oscar, a
health insurance firm that he helped
found. According to one attendee, Josh
Kushner listed the year’s challenges,
concluding with a laugh: “We survived
Donald Trump. Don’t tweet that. Really,
don’t tweet that. I’ll get in so much trouble.”
The Kushners have weathered ordeals before and emerged stronger and
more prosperous. In 2004, Charles
Kushner pleaded guilty to 18 counts of
witness retaliation, tax violations and
false statements to the Federal Election
Commission after he hired a prostitute
in a scheme to entrap and retaliate
against his brother-in-law, who he suspected was cooperating with a federal
inquiry into his business.
Charles Kushner still does not speak
to his brother, whom he publicly blamed
for instigating the investigation that led
to his two-year prison sentence. Asked
whether he hoped for presidential absolution, Mr. Kushner said, “I would prefer
not to have a pardon” because it would
only create further publicity.
His real estate empire is now under a
national microscope, its every deal scrutinized for hints of federal influence. And
while Charles Kushner insists his
bankers are loyal, investors are eager
and deals are plentiful, some business
associates say the drumbeat of unflattering headlines is putting tremendous
pressure on the family business. Banks
must assess the risk of any continuing
regulatory or criminal inquiries before
making loans; potential investors are
worried that they could come under
scrutiny or that projects will be delayed
or fall apart.
Mr. Kushner scoffs at such fears. “We
are actively involved in more than $3 billion of projects and banks are providing
$1.5 billion of financing in the first six
months of this year,” he said. “Does that
seem like we are lacking in funds?”
That said, the company has been
forced to rule out two major sources of
financing — foreign nations’ sovereign
wealth funds and a federal program that
offers foreign investors a path to citizenship — after questions about the propri-
ety of tapping them given Jared Kushner’s foreign policy influence. While Mr.
Kushner transferred some holdings in
Kushner Companies to a trust run by his
mother, he retains the vast majority —
holdings estimated to be worth at least
$761 million. Avoiding such entanglements has proved harder, company officials said, than they expected.
Bloomberg recently reported that two
months after Mr. Kushner joined the
The political prize at the root of
those travails — Jared Kushner’s
White House post — appears to
be losing its luster.
White House, the company sold a stake
in a building in New York City to an entity whose largest shareholder is the Japanese government. A spokesman said
Kushner company officials were unaware of the Japanese government’s involvement until the news report.
The finance minister of the tiny, oilrich Gulf nation of Qatar also met separately early last year with both Josh and
Charles Kushner at a time when the Qataris were seeking White House support
against their powerful regional rivals.
Josh Kushner, who runs the investment
firm Thrive Capital, which recently
raised a $700 million fund, cleared the
meeting with outside counsel beforehand, his spokesman said.
“Josh met with the minister for less
than 30 minutes,” Mr. Derris said.
“There has been no contact since that
The elder Mr. Kushner said he made
clear to the minister that he had no interest in government-sponsored investment, and like his son, has had no further contact with him.
The family’s costliest and most ambitious real estate project — a $7.5 billion
plan to raze their 41-story Fifth Avenue
office tower and replace it with a new architecturally dazzling one, twice as high
— was an early casualty of the family’s
White House connection. A financing
pact with a Chinese firm connected to
some of the Communist Party’s leading
families collapsed in the face of public
scrutiny. Now the Kushners are scrambling. They have only 10 months before a
$1.2 billion mortgage comes due to find a
profitable use for a 61-year-old office
tower with dark corridors, low ceilings
and too few tenants to cover the interest
on the purchase loan.
By some estimates, the skyscraper is
now worth about one-quarter less than
the then-record price of $1.8 billion they
paid for it in 2007. Vornado Realty Trust,
which also took a 49.5 percent share in
the office space, wants out. The shortfall
this year between the income it generates and the interest on the loan exceeds
$30 million, split evenly with the Kushners. Charles Kushner says that he is
willing to buy out his partner, but some
business associates say that would only
double an already unprofitable real estate bet.
Company officials have sought to
minimize the effect of the tower’s financial troubles, saying it is one property
among many and they marked down its
value so it is less than 4 percent of Mr.
Kushner’s net worth, estimated at $2.5
Debt for the Kushners’ portion of the
Times Square property at 229 West 43rd
Street is also on a watch list, according
to Trepp, a firm that analyzes mortgagebacked securities. But both Mr. Kushner
and Laurent Morali, the firm’s president, call that building, the former headquarters of The New York Times, an excellent investment. They insisted that
the 2016 loan from Deutsche Bank,
which is now under scrutiny by federal
prosecutors, was an arm’s-length business transaction.
But financing for a third $800 million
project, two towers across the Hudson
River in suburban New Jersey, has been
delayed by yet more questions arising
from the family’s White House connections. The company had hoped to attract
$150 million from foreign investors via a
federal visa program, EB-5, that offers
green cards and eligibility for permanent residence to those who invest at
least $500,000 in an American business.
In a marketing event last May in Beijing, Charles Kushner’s daughter Nicole
Kushner Meyer, 34, a comparative neophyte in the family business, told potential investors that the project meant a lot
to “my entire family.” She added that her
brother had left the firm to work in the
Trump administration.
The Kushners apologized and abandoned the program — purely to avoid
unwanted attention, Mr. Kushner said.
“My daughter, our company, did nothing
wrong,” he said.
But prosecutors and S.E.C. regulators
have sought documents from the Kushners and their business partner, KABR
Group, apparently in part to determine
whether potential investors were misled about their visa prospects. Mr. Kushner has hired a criminal defense lawyer
for Nicole, adding to his family’s roster
of legal defenders.
Some in the Kushner camp are hopeful that particular inquiry is fading. But
yet another one began two weeks ago after The Associated Press reported that
the Kushner Companies had secured
more than 80 construction permits after
falsely declaring it had no rent-regulated tenants.
The company said it had outsourced
the applications to a third party, and
added that it had corrected the errors.
But the New York City Buildings Department said it was investigating
whether city laws were broken.
Ben Protess and Nicholas Confessore
contributed reporting.
Taliban’s move to high-tech puts U.S. in a bind
time the predawn assault was over,
eight Afghan officers lay dead in their
beds, Haji Abdul Rahman Aka, the elder
of the province’s Pule Regi area, said at
the time. Only one Afghan officer survived.
The frequency and ferocity of the
nighttime Taliban attacks are linked to
attempts by Afghan forces, based in
small checkpoints across the country, to
hold territory that has been wrested
away from the militants.
Previously unreported documents,
obtained by The New York Times, underline concerns about the Taliban’s
growing sophistication on the battlefield
after 16 years of war — and American
commanders’ efforts to stunt it.
The documents show that the American military has begun to send older
models of night-vision hardware to regular Afghan Army units. Those headsets
cost an estimated $3,000 each, officials
One of the first batches of night-vision
equipment for conventional units in
southern Afghanistan, part of a monthslong pilot program, was sent to the embattled 215th Corps in Helmand Province in the spring of 2016.
Only 161 of the 210 devices were returned, according to the military documents obtained by The Times, and the
equipment was not effectively used, in
part because the forces were not properly trained to use it.
Afghan troops said the missing de-
With night-vision devices,
Taliban fighters have been able
to approach Afghan bases nearly
undetected before attacking.
vices were reported as “battle losses,”
but could not support that claim with
any proof or records to explain where or
when they were left behind, according to
the documents.
At the time, the commander of the
215th Corps was Maj. Gen. M. Moein
Faqir. He was later arrested on sweeping corruption charges that included
misuse of food money meant for his
Last year, and with better results,
night-vision equipment was sent to the
205th Corps, located around Kandahar,
the military documents showed.
Five devices were lost between July
and December, when the program
ended, according to the documents.
Over the summer and fall, the Afghan
National Army suffered 15 percent
fewer casualties around Kandahar than
it had during the same period in 2016.
The documents credited the night-vision equipment for the marked reduction, concluding that the devices are
“becoming an integral part of base defense plans.” The American military is
now planning to equip the unit with
roughly 2,500 night-vision goggles as
part of what the documents described as
a concept for a “permanent program.”
Despite those measured successes, it
remains unclear if the American military will give the devices to the rest of
the Afghan Army.
The American military headquarters
in Kabul has said it equips only Special
Operations units in the Afghan Army
and police forces with night-vision technology.
Capt. Tom Gresback, a spokesman for
United States forces in Afghanistan, declined to comment on the plans to distribute the devices to the Afghan National Army, as outlined in the military
documents. He said American commanders would provide Afghan national
defense and security forces “with the resources necessary to promote security
throughout Afghanistan.”
But some American advisers closer to
the ground fight are already trying to
get the technology for their Afghan
counterparts, according to a United
States official. He said that would require a decision made through the leadership in Kabul and the Pentagon to allow American commanders to distribute the devices to even more Afghan security forces.
With the night-vision devices, Taliban
fighters have been able to approach Afghan bases nearly undetected before attacking.
Initially, such ambushes were attributed to Taliban forces known as “Red
Units” located in Afghanistan’s southern provinces. But over the last year, the
night-vision devices have frequently
American soldiers in Afghanistan in 2009. The Taliban are increasingly using nightvision goggles and lasers to track helicopters, troops and local police officers.
turned up in the country’s north and
east, according to two American military officials, signaling a widespread
distribution into other groups of Taliban
Those officials said the Taliban were
using both tightly controlled Americanmade devices and gear that is widely
available for purchase.
In some cases, American officials
said, the equipment was left on the bat-
tlefield by United States or Afghan
troops, including those who were killed
in action.
In others, Afghan soldiers were believed to have sold the devices to the extremists.
That was disputed by Gen. Dawlat
Waziri, who until recently served as
spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of
Defense. He said all night-vision equipment provided to Afghan troops by the
American military had been “accounted
“No case of night vision sold by our
soldiers to the Taliban has been reported,” General Waziri said.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for
the Taliban, said fighters obtained nightvision devices after attacking Afghan
bases or capturing members of the Afghan security forces.
Rank-and-file Afghan police officers
are particularly under threat by increasing numbers of deadly nighttime attacks, said one of the American military
officials. Those units are spread farther
into sparsely populated areas across Afghanistan than are army soldiers.
Officers with the Afghan National Police, especially in the south, have been
making desperate requests for the
equipment for months, the official said.
The police are part of the Ministry of Interior, which is suspected of rampant
In Helmand Province, Marine Corps
advisers are helping a request by the
505th Zone of the Afghan National Police to receive night-vision devices, Col.
C. J. Douglas, the head of the Marines’
police advising component there, said in
an email.
It is unclear if the Afghan police unit
will get them.
Thomas Gibbons-Neff reported from
Washington and Jawad Sukhanyar from
Kabul. Taimoor Shah contributed from
Kandahar, Afghanistan.
TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018 | 7
China’s Communist Party is abandoning workers
are being
arrested and
simply for
their wages.
Harvey Thomlinson
HONG KONG China is a sea of labor
unrest. During the first 10 weeks of
this year there were more than 400
publicly reported strikes, more than
double the number during the comparable period last year. President Xi
Jinping’s government has responded
with a firm hand: Labor activists are
being arrested and assaulted simply
for demanding their wages.
As China’s rate of economic growth
has slowed over the past few years,
China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kongbased organization, tracked a surge in
reported strikes — most likely a small
measure of all the actual strikes —
from fewer than 200 in 2011 to 1,256 in
2017. Government data indicates a 38
percent increase in the number of
labor dispute cases heard by Chinese
courts, from 589,244 in 2011 to 813,589
in 2015.
Mirroring the recent trend of manufacturing moving from the coasts to
the middle of the country, the most
labor strife this year appears to be
happening in central provinces such as
Henan, Jiangsu and Anhui. And the
unrest isn’t affecting only traditional
industries like manufacturing. Whitecollar workers and new-economy
industries like ecommerce and green
tech are also dealing
say that
with labor struggles.
five million
In January, hunto six million
dreds of teachers
from all over China
assembled in Beijing
could lose
to bring attention to
their jobs in
missing pensions
the coming
and other perks.
years as the
Last month, workers
at a solar power
factory in Guizhou
Province staged a
sit-in, and poorly
paid taxi-app drivers
protested in Shandong and Guangxi.
Medical staff in Hebei demonstrated in
February over unequal pay and the
nonpayment of social insurance.
Labor activists are also organizing
online. In Spring 2016, the Walmart
Chinese Workers’ Association, an
independent group of China employees
of the retailer, opposed a change that
would have permitted Walmart to
schedule long shifts for workers without paying them overtime. The activists used the popular WeChat messaging service to organize strikes that
forced their employer to retract the
new policy.
The government’s default approach
to labor disputes has been to treat
them as a threat to law and order.
After a widely reported miners’ strike
in the northeastern city of
Shuangyashan in 2016, for example,
the Public Security Bureau arrested 30
people for what it called serious criminal charges. Miners in Hebei and
construction workers in Hubei were
beaten last month just for protesting to
get their wages. In Guangdong Province, activists like Meng Han of the
Panyu Migrant Workers Center, a now
dissolved grass-roots group that
helped local workers with collective
bargaining, have been jailed.
The fact is that in most strikes Chinese workers are demanding only to
be paid wages and benefits that are
owed to them, and for their legal right
to collective bargaining. Still, why are
strikes on the rise?
The slowing economy has squeezed
manufacturers and service-oriented
companies. Many owners have responded by simply not paying workers. Many companies close shop
overnight, surprising workers with the
closure and the news that they won’t
be paid wages that are owed to them.
Meanwhile, it appears that workers
are becoming more aware of their legal
rights to demand pay and benefits.
The 2008 China Labor Contract Law,
successor to the 1995 China Labor
Law, codifies wide-ranging protections
for Chinese workers, including the
right to collectively bargain. The law
was drafted to help raise living standards but has always been unpopular
with big business and its political
friends. Yet in 2015 President Xi Jinping urged the sole official union, the
All-China Federation of Trade Unions,
to come up with a plan to improve
workplace representation.
Experts say that five million to six
million workers could lose their jobs in
the coming years as the economy
continues modernizing. If history is
any guide, the result of the job losses is
likely to be more unrest. And a government that denies hard-pressed workers a legitimate channel to express
their grievances is inviting trouble. As
strikes continue, workers broaden
their demands and are driven to more
extreme measures.
By ensuring that workers can use
their legal right to collective bargaining, the government could help families to share more of the rewards of
growth and give a boost to the rebalancing of the economy. This was the
story of America’s postwar boom
years, when strong unions helped to
expand the middle class.
The Communist Party should fully
embrace its historical claim to representing workers. By enforcing legal
protections the party may find that
higher household incomes are a solution to slower growth as well as to the
country’s more serious ills of unfairness and inequality.
is the author of the
novel “The Strike.”
Was the Vietnam War necessary?
said the
might be a
nuclear war.
But even
the C.I.A.
Mark Atwood Lawrence
Apocalyptic rhetoric rolled across the
airwaves on Sept. 29, 1967, as it usually
does when presidents go before the
American public to explain why the
nation is fighting in a war. As he spoke
to his national television audience,
President Lyndon Johnson sought to
bolster flagging public support for the
Vietnam War by highlighting the calamities that might befall the United
States if the Communists prevailed.
Johnson conceded that no one could
see the future with certainty, but he
left little doubt that he believed the
rest of Southeast Asia would quickly
fall to Communism once Vietnam did.
Even worse, he said success in one
region would embolden America’s
enemies to unleash new aggression
elsewhere, creating immense perils for
“our children and for our grandchildren.”
“I am convinced,” Johnson declared,
“that by seeing this struggle through
now, we are greatly reducing the
chances of a much larger war — perhaps a nuclear war.”
Johnson’s words conveyed confidence, even passion, about the necessity of the war he had chosen to fight.
But was he correct in his dire assessment of the stakes in Vietnam?
President Lyndon Johnson, center, conferring with officials, including, standing, Richard Helms, the director of central intelligence.
Developments over the next few
years suggested that he wasn’t. The
Communist takeover of South Vietnam
in 1975 unquestionably contributed to
Communist victories in neighboring
Cambodia and Laos, precisely as Johnson had predicted. But his nightmare
vision of regional and global catastrophe proved badly overstated. America’s alliances remained intact, and
American-Soviet relations moved
toward détente, not war. Most troubling, Johnson had reason in 1967 to
believe that defeat might have precisely such unremarkable consequences.
Two weeks before his speech, Johnson had received an unusual C.I.A.
study examining the likely implications of a Communist victory in Vietnam. The 33-page report, a distillation
of the opinions of more than 30 C.I.A.
officers, concluded that a failure in
Vietnam would not open the way to
devastating setbacks, much less lead
to a major war. On the contrary, the
study asserted, “such risks are probably more limited and controllable than
most previous argument had indicated.”
Richard Helms, the director of central intelligence, knew this conclusion
would not sit well with a president who
had ordered American forces into
combat two and a half years earlier
and steadily increased the American
8 | TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018
Facebook isn’t just violating privacy
Noam Cohen
A.G. SULZBERGER, Publisher
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
CHARLOTTE GORDON, V.P., International Consumer Marketing
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
Iran froze
its nuclear
program after
months of
talks. If Trump
kills that deal,
Kim Jong-un
may see no
reason to trust
As he prepares for possible talks with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un about controlling the North’s
nuclear weapons program, President Trump is facing
his most complicated national security challenge so
far. He has made the task far harder by threatening to
blow up the only other recent deal to control a nuclear
program, with Iran.
After decades of effort, Iran was close to producing
enough enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb when it
reached the deal with the major powers in 2015.
Iran gave away about 97 percent of its low-enriched
uranium, destroyed 13,000 of its 19,000 centrifuges and
pledged to incapacitate a heavy-water facility intended
to produce weapons-grade plutonium.
If Iran tries to cheat, the most rigorous technological
verification system in the world can detect the violations and alert the world in time to intervene. The
International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors
the agreement, has repeatedly found Iran in compliance; scores of experts, including American diplomats
and military officers, have affirmed the deal’s efficacy.
Israel’s army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, told
Haaretz on Friday that the deal has delayed the “Iranian nuclear vision by 10 to 15 years.”
Although Iran never had a nuclear weapon, the
agreement required months of talks and two years of
technical and political negotiations. Now consider
North Korea, with 20 to 60 nuclear weapons, and facilities for producing plutonium and enriching uranium,
many of which are hidden.
Mr. Trump has insisted on the North’s complete and
verifiable denuclearization. And, by all indications, he
wants it done immediately. Yet by threatening to abrogate the Iran deal and reimpose sanctions Mr. Trump
has added to the challenge of making that happen.
He has claimed, without a shred of evidence, that
Iran is out of compliance and has complained that Iran
is still building ballistic missiles, arming Hezbollah
and supporting President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.
None of these concerns were supposed to be prevented by the deal.
He has demanded that Britain, France and Germany
fix what he calls “flaws” in the pact by May 12, presumably so he will have someone else to blame when
it falls apart.
The president, and his new hard-line team of national security advisers, may think that walking away
from the Iran deal will persuade Mr. Kim of his toughness and his determination to secure terms that go far
beyond those reached with Iran. More likely, Mr. Kim
will see it as proof that the United States cannot be
trusted to stick to its commitments and will be reluctant to reach any agreement.
Persuading a country to give up weapons is never
easy. The North Koreans have said they need nuclear
weapons to deter American aggression. And Mr. Kim
has set the pace for most of the recent diplomacy —
including his surprise invitation to Mr. Trump and his
visit with President Xi Jinping in China. That said, he
reportedly told China and South Korea he will discuss
“denuclearization” with the Americans.
Denuclearization has had some successes. After
Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus inherited thousands
of nuclear weapons when the Soviet Union collapsed,
the United States persuaded them to transfer the devices to Russia. South Africa had about a half-dozen
warheads but gave them up after the end of apartheid.
Libya shed its rudimentary nuclear program under
pressure from Britain and the United States after the
Iraq war.
And in 1994, most likely before North Korea had any
nuclear weapons, a limited agreement with the United
States froze the North’s plutonium program for about
eight years until it fell apart under President George
W. Bush.
A serious negotiation with North Korea would include Mr. Trump pressing Mr. Kim to freeze nuclear
and missile testing, halt the production of nuclear
weapons fuel and the deployment of nuclear weapons
and put an Iran-like verification system in place. But
why would Mr. Kim agree to any of that if the Americans walk away from the Iran deal? Why would Mr.
Kim, or any future adversary for that matter, assume
Mr. Trump is negotiating in good faith?
The Iran deal has achieved what it was intended to
do — limit Iran’s nuclear program. There is still hope
that something similar can be achieved in North Korea. Indeed, Mr. Trump could contribute in an unprecedented way to international peace and security by
engaging with Mr. Kim. That possibility will be squandered, though, if the American president escalates a
manufactured nuclear crisis with Iran at the very time
he is trying to defuse one with North Korea.
Even as it issues full-page apologies in
print newspapers promising ritualistically “to do better,” Facebook and
its allies have minimized the importance of the seismic revelation that the
political consulting firm Cambridge
Analytica, which worked on behalf of
the Trump campaign in 2016, had
gained access to the private information of about 50 million Facebook
Some executives have pointed out
that the mechanism that until a few
years ago allowed a researcher with
270,000 app downloads to have access
to 50 million profiles wasn’t exactly a
secret, and, besides, Facebook users
nominally agreed to the sharing of
these profiles so that apps would perform better. The company’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, took to Twitter to complain that Facebook and
other “platforms” were being held to a
double standard concerning the profiles, since they may well “have been
criticized as monopolists for locking
them down.”
Others poured cold water on the idea
that Cambridge Analytica was able to
use these profiles as grist for its research on swaying voters by cracking
the code of human intention. Marc
Andreessen, the venture capitalist and
a Facebook board member, doesn’t
tweet anymore, but he “likes” hundreds of tweets a week, a group that
recently included a string that mocked
the public’s fear that new media forms
can be turned into “weapons of total
mind control.”
Perhaps these are the wrong reasons for outrage, but that doesn’t mean
we shouldn’t be outraged. What Facebook is selling to political campaigns is
the same thing Uber is selling to its
drivers and customers and what
YouTube is selling to advertisers who
hope to reach an audience of children
— namely, the right to bypass long-
standing rules and regulations in order
to act with impunity.
When you look at the Facebook data
leak scandal this way, you realize that
Facebook’s irresponsibility isn’t merely
an abuse of a personal relationship —
what its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, called “a breach of trust between
Facebook and the people who share
their data with us” — but also an abuse
of a civic relationship.
Selling relief from government scrutiny of elections is a different kind of
threat to the social fabric than selling
relief from government scrutiny of
commerce, especially in light of our
country’s record of denying voting
rights to African-Americans. Facebook
can’t be allowed to be a tool for enemies of democracy because it fears
that regulation could hurt its bottom
What was valuable about allowing a
presidential campaign to evade regulation? Well, to start, we know that Facebook, unlike a small-market TV station,
didn’t care about Russians buying
political ads, even when they paid in
rubles. That’s a shock to our political
system, which is meant to protect
against foreign interference. But more
menacing is the prospect that the
Trump campaign and its allies may
have been given free license by Facebook to suppress African-American
turnout through “dark ad posts” that
disappeared after viewing.
Shortly before the election, a senior
official with the Trump campaign
bragged to the Bloomberg reporters
Joshua Green and Sasha Issenberg,
“We have three major voter suppression operations underway,” which the
article described as targeting “idealistic white liberals, young women, and
African-Americans.” Brad Parscale,
who ran the Trump campaign’s digital
advertising, is quoted in the same
piece discussing his plan to use dark
ad posts of an animation of Hillary
Clinton referring in 1996 to some African-Americans as “super predators.”
Parscale suggested that the campaign
would use this image to discourage a
demographic category described by
the reporters as infrequent black voters in Florida. “Only the people we
want to see it, see it,” he explained. “It
will dramatically affect her ability to
turn these people out.”
Some of the dark Facebook ads,
bought by suspected Russian fronts,
have been released as part of congressional investigations into Russian
meddling in the 2016 election, and
these include an ad meant to depress
black support for Hillary Clinton by
referring to conspiracy theories involving her husband. What other dark
Facebook ads might
have been placed on
behalf of the Trump
campaign to suprelief from
press black turnout?
Were there classic
scrutiny of
examples of voter
elections is a
suppression, like
different kind publishing the wrong
of threat to
Election Day date or
the social
falsely warning that
you can be arrested
fabric than
at your polling place
if you owe payment
relief from
on a traffic ticket?
We don’t know — the
scrutiny of
dark ads have disapcommerce.
peared and Facebook won’t release
them, citing the
privacy of its advertisers.
Facebook’s vast and well-designed
platform offered the Trump campaign
and its supporters cheap, direct access
to African-American voters — and
along with this the chance to mislead
and intimidate. In the past, candidates
intent on suppressing the black vote
ran up against technological barriers.
They had to work with fliers and obscure radio ads, since reputable media
outlets, unlike Facebook, tended to
push back against racially inflammatory, untrue political advertising. Fliers
and radio ads leave a public residue,
The election of 2016, the first after
Barack Obama’s presidency, was notable for a seven-percentage-point de-
crease in African-American turnout,
from 66.6 percent in 2012 to 59.6 percent, according to the Pew Research
Center. This was the first decline in 20
years in a presidential election and the
largest ever recorded. The 2016 turnout rate was also below even the rate
for the 2004 election, when John Kerry
was the Democratic candidate.
At a hearing with the top lawyers
from Facebook, Google and Twitter
about Russian meddling in the 2016
election, Senator Amy Klobuchar of
Minnesota began by emphasizing the
stakes involved. “I come at this with
the simple idea that our democracy
was formed to be self-governing,” she
said, adding that American citizens
have “a right of freedom to make their
own decisions — and I think that was
interfered with by Russians and also
This simple idea of the United States
as a self-governing community wasn’t
the focus of the many mea culpa interviews Mr. Zuckerberg gave after reports of the data breach. He was focused on the individual. “A lot of the
most sensitive issues that we faced
today are conflicts between our real
values, right?” he said in an interview
with Recode. “Freedom of speech and
hate speech and offensive content.
Where is the line, right?”
Todd A. Cox, the director of policy of
the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, sees the question of our
“real values” a bit differently. “There
has been a lot of agonizing and struggling over the place of First Amendment,” he told me. “I would like the
discussion to turn on what role does
the 14th Amendment, the Voting
Rights Act, 15th Amendment play” —
the guarantees of equal protection
under the law and of the right of African-Americans to vote. That is, in
addition to Facebook’s libertarian,
Silicon Valley perspective that sees
only the personal questions — my right
to say what I want, my privacy — we
must consider the collective questions:
How do we protect historically disCOHEN, PAGE 9
The outrage over Kevin Williamson
Bret Stephens
Dear Kevin,
You had the right to remain silent.
Now every word you’ve ever uttered,
and every one you ever will, can and
will be held against you.
I’m sorry to have to write you, for
two reasons. Sorry, first, that you have
to endure having your character assailed and assassinated by people who
rarely if ever read you and likely never
met you. Sorry also that your hiring as
a writer for The Atlantic has set off
another censorious furor in media
circles when surely there are more
important subjects on this earth.
Then again, as my colleague Michelle Goldberg noted Friday, the
question of what counts in mainstream
media as “acceptable argument,” and
what doesn’t, is not a small one. Every
society is civilized, or blinkered, by its
choice of moral and political taboos.
Too many taboos blunt and bury
thought. Too few coarsen and cheapen
it. Part of the art of culture — and of
editing — lies in finding the path between.
The case against you, as best as I
can tell, rests on three charges. You
think abortion is murder and tweeted
— appallingly in my view — that doctors and women should perhaps be
hanged for it. You believe “sex is a
biological reality” and that gender
should not be a choice. And you once
boorishly described an African-American boy in East St. Louis, Ill., “raising
his palms to his clavicles, elbows
akimbo, in the universal gesture of
primate territorial challenge.”
Oh, another thing: As a NeverTrumper, you’re guilty of being insufficiently representative of contemporary conservatism. Had you been a
Trumper, doubtless you would have
been dismissed as a moron unworthy
of the pages of The Atlantic.
Weighed against these charges are
hundreds of thousands of words of
smart, stylish and often hilarious commentary, criticism and reportage. How
many of the people now demanding
your firing read your unforgettable
description of Steve Mnuchin’s
“Scrooge McDuck-style sphincterclenching,” or of Anthony Scaramucci’s
“batty and profane interview in which
he reimagined Steve Bannon as a kind
of autoerotic yogi”?
Shouldn’t great prose and independent judgment count for something?
Not according to your critics. We live
in the age of guilt by pull-quote, abetted by a combination of lazy journalism, gullible readership, missing context, and technologies that make our
every ill-considered utterance instantly
accessible and utterly indelible. I
jumped at your abortion comment, but
for heaven’s sake, it was a tweet. When
you write a whole book on the need to
execute the tens of millions of American women who’ve had abortions, then
I’ll worry.
We also live in an age — another one
— of excommunication. This is ugly
because its spirit is illiberal, and odd,
because its consequences are negligible. Should The Atlantic foolishly succumb to pressure to rescind your job
offer, you’ll still be widely read, presumably at National Review. If you’re
really the barbarian your critics claim,
you’re already through the gates.
The real question, then, isn’t what
kinds of arguments are “acceptable.”
It’s what kinds are,
or ought to be, acReally, it’s
ceptable to liberals.
O.K. if we
In The Huffington
all don’t
Post, one writer
agree about
proposes that the
answer is none. This
is the liberalism of
the 9- year-old sticking fingers in his ears and saying:
nah-nah-nah-nah-nah. Anyone still
wondering how Donald Trump became
president need look no further.
The wiser test of acceptability is
whether an argument is thoughtful,
thought-provoking and offered in good
Kevin D. Williamson at the 2015 National
Review Ideas Summit in Washington.
faith. That holds true even if the views
aren’t politically representative. Last I
checked, you and I were hired as columnists, not party ideologues or demographic segments.
It also holds true whether or not a
given opinion is offensive. Offensive to
tens of millions of intelligent and morally sincere Americans is the idea that
abortion ought to be legal at all, much
less in the second or third trimester. If
those Americans can make their peace
with pro-choice writers like me, the
least liberals can do is not make war
on pro-life writers like you.
That doesn’t mean there ought to be
limitless tolerance for every shade of
opinion: There are cranks and haters
both left and right, and wise editors
should not give them a platform. But
your critics show bad faith when they
treat an angry tweet or a flippant turn
of phrase as proof of moral incorrigibility. Let he who is without a bad tweet,
a crap sentence or even a deplorable
opinion cast the first stone.
Worse, they foreclose the possibility
of learning something useful from
someone smart. Learning does not
require agreement. There’s a reason
this section of the newspaper is labeled
“Opinion,” not “Affirmation,” “Reinforcement,” or “Emotional Crutch.”
Liberals used to know that. What
My guess is that you’ll find working
for The Atlantic a discipline and a joy.
It’s not always easy to write for an
audience whose views you rarely
share. It’s not always fun to hear back
from them, either. But the result will be
sharper writing by you, a broader
understanding for them, and more
competition for us. Congrats.
TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018 | 9
Actually, you can fix stupid
Timothy Egan
Contributing Writer
Was the Vietnam War necessary?
commitment ever since. In a covering
note, Helms assured Johnson that the
C.I.A. was not arguing that the United
States should end the war any time
soon. “We are not defeatist out here,”
he wrote from his office in Langley, Va.
Yet the report plainly suggested that
the scale of America’s involvement in
Vietnam was out of line with that country’s actual importance to the United
The study, titled “Implications of an
Unfavorable Outcome in Vietnam,”
acknowledged that a Communist victory would amount to “a rather dramatic demonstration that there are
certain limits on U.S. power, a discovery that would be unexpected for
many, disconcerting for some, and
encouraging to others.” But none of
this, Johnson was told, would amount
to a disastrous blow to American security. For one thing, the report said, it
would hardly come as a surprise that a
highly motivated and well-supplied
guerrilla movement could defeat a
militarily superior power. “This is not a
novel discovery,” the C.I.A. pointed out.
More important, the report added,
defeat in Vietnam would do nothing to
undermine the “essential strength” of
the United States, which would clearly
remain the “weightiest single factor” in
global affairs as long as it gave fresh
indications of its determination to play
its accustomed role. To reinforce the
point, the C.I.A. looked to the past:
“Historically, great powers have repeatedly absorbed setbacks without
permanent diminution of the role
which they subsequently played” in
international affairs.
The report also questioned the contention that defeat in Vietnam would
cause governments around the world
to doubt the willingness of the United
States to live up to its international
commitments. Since the Eisenhower
years, leaders had justified their decisions to escalate American involvement in Vietnam in part on the supposition that its alliances could unravel —
and Communist challenges to American interests could multiply — if other
nations had reason to question Wash-
ington’s resolve when it confronted
In fact, the C.I.A. study asserted that
damage to national credibility would
be limited and temporary. The Soviets
would continue to act with “their usual
caution” and would pull back in the
face of new indications of American
strength, according to the report. It
even speculated that willingness to
accept defeat in Vietnam might improve the reputation of the United
States with its NATO allies, who might
view Washington’s willingness to cut
its losses in a region of secondary
importance as a sign of maturity
rather than unreliability.
A secretary’s
notation on the document, which was
It may be
declassified in 1993,
that Johnson
indicates that Johnsimply could
son read the study,
not see past
but there is no
record of his reacassumptions
tion. None of his
aides could recall
about the
speaking with him
about it. It’s not
difficult, though, to
of the war.
imagine why he
would have ignored
Most obviously, he might have dismissed the document as irrelevant,
since he remained convinced that the
United States was on course to achieve
its basic objectives in Vietnam. That,
after all, would be the central theme of
a major effort undertaken by the administration later in the year to reenergize the nation’s commitment to
the war.
Political calculations may also have
played a role. Just as in earlier years,
Johnson feared that backing down in
Vietnam would jeopardize his re-election in 1968 and the prospects of the
Democratic Party more broadly. The
party had already suffered setbacks in
the 1966 congressional elections, and
bigger disasters loomed if Republicans
could paint their rivals as irresolute
cold warriors. Closely related, perhaps,
was Johnson’s concern for his own
reputation and legacy. A man of tower-
ing ambitions, he shuddered at the
thought of becoming the first president
to lose a war.
Or it may be that Johnson simply
could not see past pervasive assumptions about the monumental stakes of
the war. To be sure, he had occasionally questioned the importance of
Vietnam during private conversations
with aides and was well aware that
many prominent Americans in and out
of government had long doubted the
need to fight there.
But he was also steeped in a Cold
War mind-set that assumed a defeat
anywhere in the world could unleash
domino effects, irrevocably damage
American credibility, and invite larger
wars. To defy this conventional wisdom, particularly at a time when thousands of Americans had already died
to uphold it, would have required exceptional intellectual and political
It also, though, might have been the
right thing to do. Instead of seriously
reckoning with the issues raised in the
report, Johnson continued to insist that
core American interests demanded
success in Vietnam, even after events
forced him in 1968 to open negotiations.
His successor, Richard Nixon, was
even more adamant about the dangers
to American power internationally if
the Communists won, and 20,000 more
Americans died in the failed effort to
prevent that outcome after Johnson
left office.
Only after 1975 would Americans see
what the C.I.A. had pointed to eight
years earlier: Defeat in Vietnam, whatever the political and social traumas it
produced for the United States,
brought no geopolitical disaster.
who teaches
history at the University of Texas at
Austin, is the author, most recently, of
“The Vietnam War: A Concise International History.”
This is an essay in the “Vietnam ’67”
series, in which historians, veterans and
journalists recall the year that changed
the Vietnam War and changed America.
Can Europe lead the way? Facebook
and privacy
to offer an explicit “opt in” for having
personal data collected, and to protect
the information that was collected.
This didn’t last. Internet service
providers like Comcast and AT&T and
companies that use their connections,
like Facebook and Google, lobbied
members of Congress. Congress passed a law this year, signed by President Trump, that not only repealed the
protections but also prohibited the
F.C.C. from ever again imposing such
safeguards. The same coalition of
corporate interests succeeded in discouraging California from passing a
state privacy law similar to the 2016
F.C.C. requirements.
Fortunately, the European Union’s
law should indirectly help Americans
somewhat. In only a few weeks, Facebook, Google and all the other internet
companies that collect our private
information will have to allow European customers the protections these
companies have fought to deny Americans. In an interconnected world
where digital code doesn’t respect the
geographical or national borders, this
will surely have a positive global impact.
Internet companies are preparing
for a future in which regardless of
where a website is based, if it is visited
by even a single European Union
citizen and if it seeks to collect that
person’s data, it must provide that
person the protections of the General
Data Protection Regulation. Hopefully,
this experience will show these companies that protecting privacy is simply
the responsible thing to do, not the end
of their business.
The United States government has a
lot of explaining to do. Why is it that
American internet companies such as
Facebook and Google are required to
provide privacy protections when
doing business with European consumers but are free to not provide such
protections for Americans? Why is it
that Americans’ best privacy hope is
the secondary effect of interconnected
networks rather than privacy protections designed for Americans? Why
shouldn’t Americans also be given
meaningful tools to protect their privacy?
Congress is now considering bipartisan legislation that responds to the
problem of Russian targeted political
advertising on social media by adding
the requirement, long applied to broadcast advertising, that those websites
disclose who is paying for their advertisements. But as well intentioned as
that step may be, it addresses only a
symptom of the problem of the extensive surveillance of Americans, not the
root of the problem.
The New World must learn from the
Old World. The internet economy has
made our personal data a corporate
commodity. The United States government must return control of that information to its owners.
the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from
2013 to 2017, is a visiting fellow at the
Brookings Institution and a fellow at
the Harvard Kennedy School.
Pope Francis opened the holiest week of
the Christian calendar with an admonition to the generation that will own the
21st century. “Dear young people, you
have it in you to shout,” he said in his
homily. “It is up to you not to keep quiet.”
Other voices were more censorious.
On “Fox & Friends,” which provides
President Trump with steady ration of
half-truths and hatreds to fill an empty
head and an empty schedule, a co-host
had some advice for younger citizens
just now learning how to use the wings
of democracy.
“These 17-year-olds should go back to
civics class,” said Pete Hegseth, scowling at the March for Our Lives demonstrators.
Actually, civics class has come to
them, in the form of a hail of bullets from
a weapon of war that is legal because of
a broken political system. They’ve been
forced, by triage, to learn how to use the
tools of democracy that were largely
denied them by passive educators.
It’s no secret that in the rush to
produce adults who are adept at applying science and technology to modern
life, we left them ill-trained in the basic
duties of citizenship. Nearly a third of
Americans cannot name a single branch
of government, and almost 40 percent
are unable to cite a right guaranteed by
the First Amendment.
But it’s not the kids who are the doofuses. “There’s a big difference between
being ignorant and being stupid,” said
Sonia Sotomayor, associate justice of
the Supreme Court. She’s been touring
the country — 38 states so far — promoting civic competence among the
young, a virtue that used to be a bedrock
part of American education.
“No one is born a citizen,” she said
during a stopover in Seattle. “You have
to be taught what that means.”
The teaching, for a generation that
has come of age since the 1999 Columbine massacre, for the 187,000 students who have experienced a shooting
on campus during school since then, has
been largely do-it-yourself. Only a handful of states require proficiency in civics
and government as a condition of graduation. The educational system, with its
fear of confrontational topics and its
corporate-driven emphasis on STEM,
has failed them.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at Brown University in February.
But one of the great surprises of the
Trump era is the renaissance of civic
engagement — at a level of urgency not
seen in half a century. It’s a reaction to
severe stress on democracy; Trump is
both the cause, and leading symptom, of
that stress.
The awakening started with the
revulsion of women — at a president
who is credibly accused of sleeping with
porn stars while his wife nursed their
newborn child and who bragged of
sexual assault, and at
his daily slights to
A new
truth, dignity and
other values that
has learned
mothers teach their
the tools of
And now it’s the
young’s turn. Critical
thinking has arrived
denied them
at a critical time.
by passive
They’re not afraid of
trolls; they grew up
with snark from a
screen. So after
Laura Ingraham at Fox taunted a Parkland shooting survivor for not getting
into his college of choice, the student
immediately tweeted out a list of her
advertisers. When they threatened to
bail, she apologized.
“These self-righteous kids screaming
at you on television over the weekend
aren’t helping out at all,” said Tucker
Carlson, another Fox scold. As he
knows, they are helping — but just not
his side. “First we march, then we vote,”
was a leading slogan of the demonstrations.
The problem is that Americans are
among the least-active voters in devel-
oped countries — another consequence,
I would argue, of not teaching the manual of democracy in school. And young
people are the least likely to vote.
“Adults mess up a lot,” Sotomayor told
the high school kids in her audience in
Seattle. “We don’t have all the answers.
We need you to come up with fresher
and better ideas.”
So today, these young people wonder
why even the most obvious legislation,
universal background checks on all gun
purchases, can’t pass in Congress despite support from 90 percent of the
public. They learn quickly that it’s because a single lobby owns the politicians. The obvious solution, which
jaded political minds often forget, is to
vote the bums out. It’s not complicated.
And again, it shouldn’t be a D.I.Y.
thing. Let’s teach people how to tell fake
news from real news. They do this in
Italy, and many universities in the
United States have taken it up as well. It
should be, like learning road signs
before you can get a driver’s license, one
of the courses that everyone takes
before getting out of high school.
Democracies die when citizens feel
powerless. The biggest stress test will
come if Trump fires the special counsel
Robert Mueller. Then, all the people new
to the process will see what a constitutional crisis looks like. But thanks to
recent, real-life lessons, they’ll recognize it for what it is. And they won’t feel
powerless to do something about it.
a former national correspondent for The Times, writes about
the environment, the American West
and politics.
Whatever happens
next, we’ll help you
make sense of it.
Newspaper subscription offer:
Save 66% for three months.
criminated groups? How do first we
make sure everyone is able to speak
through free, fair elections before we
argue about what they can say?
Last week, Facebook delayed the
release of its home assistant devices
and unveiled yet another attempt to
make its privacy settings clear and
easy to use. “We’ve heard loud and
clear that privacy settings and other
important tools are too hard to find,
and that we must do more to keep
people informed,” Facebook’s chief
privacy officer, Erin Egan, and deputy
general counsel, Ashlie Beringer, said
in a statement announcing the new
privacy system.
Facebook is insistent on seeing its
failures as harming individuals, never
society as a whole. The legal scholar
Alexander Bickel was fond of saying,
“No answer is what the wrong question begets.” Facebook has been asking
the wrong question consistently for
more than a decade, which is why its
privacy scandals can seem like the
longest running show in Silicon Valley.
Recent events have offered us a
chance to reframe the question about
how to fix Facebook. It is one that all
Americans should have a voice in
is the author of “The
Know-It-Alls: The Rise of Silicon Valley
as a Political Powerhouse and Social
Wrecking Ball.”
In unpredictable times, you need journalism that cuts through
the noise to deliver the facts. A subscription to The New York
Times International Edition gives you uncompromising reporting
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10 | TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018
Retailers race Amazon to automate stores
With China in forefront,
technology is cutting costs
and slashing work forces
To see what it’s like inside stores where
sensors and artificial intelligence have
replaced cashiers, shoppers have to trek
to Amazon Go, the internet retailer’s experimental convenience shop in downtown Seattle.
Soon, though, more technology-driven businesses like Amazon Go may be
coming to them.
A global race to automate stores is underway among several of the world’s top
retailers and small tech start-ups, which
are motivated to shave labor costs and
minimize shoppers’ frustrations in waiting for cashiers. They are also trying to
prevent Amazon from dominating the
physical retail world as it does online
Companies are testing robots that
help keep shelves stocked, as well as
apps that let shoppers ring up items
with a smartphone. High-tech systems
like the one used by Amazon Go completely automate the checkout process.
China, which has its own ambitious ecommerce companies, is emerging as
an especially fertile place for these retail
If they succeed, these new technologies could add further uncertainty to the
retail work force, which is already in flux
because of the growth of online shopping. An analysis last year by the World
Economic Forum said 30 to 50 percent of
the world’s retail jobs could be at risk,
once technologies like automated
checkout are fully embraced.
In addition, the efforts have raised
concerns among privacy researchers
because of the mounds of data that retailers will be able to gather about shopper behavior as they digitize their locations. Inside Amazon Go, for instance,
the cameras never lose sight of a
customer who has entered the shop.
Retailers adopted technologies in
their stores long before Amazon Go arrived on the scene. Self-checkout kiosks
have been common in supermarkets
and other stores for years.
Kroger, the grocery chain, uses sensors and predictive analytics tools to
better anticipate when more cashiers
will be needed.
But the opening of Amazon Go in January was alarming for many retailers,
who saw a sudden willingness by Amazon to wield its technological power in
new ways. Hundreds of cameras near
the ceiling and sensors in the shelves
help automatically tally the cookies,
chips and soda that shoppers remove
and put into their bags. Shoppers’ accounts are charged as they walk out the
Amazon is now looking to expand Go
to new areas. An Amazon spokeswoman
declined to comment on its expansion
plans, but the company has a job posting
for a senior real estate manager who
will be responsible for “site selection
A shopper scanning a product with her phone at a Hema store in Beijing. The Alibaba-owned chain uses facial recognition for payments. Below, demonstrating the Hema app.
and acquisition” and field tours of “potential locations” for new Go stores.
“Unanimously, there was an element
of embarrassment because here is an
online retailer showing us how to do
brick and mortar, and frankly doing it
amazingly well,” said Martin Hitch, the
chief business officer of Bossa Nova Robotics, a company that makes inventory
management robots that Walmart and
others are testing.
Nowhere are retailers experimenting
more avidly with automating store
shopping than in China, a country obsessed by new tech fads.
One effort is a chain of more than 100
unmanned convenience shops from a
start-up called Bingo Box, one of which
sits in a business park in Shanghai.
Shoppers scan a code on their phones to
enter and, once inside, scan the items
they want to buy. The store unlocks the
exit door after they’ve paid through
their phones.
Alibaba, one of China’s largest internet companies, has opened 35 of its
Hema automated grocery stores, which
blend online ordering with automated
checkout. Customers scan their groceries at checkout kiosks, using facial recognition to pay electronically, while
bags of groceries ordered by customers
online float overhead on aerial conveyors, headed to a loading dock for delivery to shoppers.
Not to be outdone, JD, another big internet retailer in China, said in December that it had teamed up with a developer to build hundreds of its own unmanned convenience shops. The businesses put readable chips on items to
automate the checkout process.
At its huge campus south of Beijing,
JD is testing a new store that relies on
computer vision and sensors on the
shelves to know when items have been
taken. The system tracks shopping
without tagging products with chips.
Payment, which for now still happens at
a kiosk, is done with facial recognition.
JD and Alibaba both plan to sell their
These technologies could add
further uncertainty to the retail
work force, which is already in
flux because of online shopping.
systems to other retailers and are working on additional checkout technologies.
In the United States, Walmart, the
world’s largest retailer, is testing out the
Bossa Nova robots in dozens of its locations to reduce some tedious tasks that
can eat up a worker’s time. The robots,
which look like giant wheeled luggage
bags, roll up and down the aisles looking
for shelves where cereal boxes are out of
stock and items like toys are mislabeled.
The machines then report back to workers, who restock the shelves and apply
new labels.
At 120 of Walmart’s 4,700 American
stores, shoppers can also scan items, including fruits and vegetables, using the
cameras on their smartphones and pay
for them using the devices. When
customers walk out, an employee
checks their receipts and does a “spot
check” of the items they bought.
Kroger, one of the United States’ largest grocery chains, has also been testing
a mobile scanning service in its super-
markets, recently announcing that it
would expand it to 400 of its more than
2,700 stores.
Start-ups are seeking to give retailers
the technology to compete with Amazon’s system. One of them, AiFi, is working on cashierless checkout technology
that it says will be flexible and affordable enough that mom-and-pop retailers
and bigger outlets can use it. In the
United States, venture capitalists put
$100 million into retail automation startups in each of the past two years, up
from about $64 million in 2015, according to Pitchbook, a financial data firm.
“There’s a gold rush feeling about
this,” said Alan O’Herlihy, chief executive of Everseen, an Irish company
working with retailers on automated
checkout technology that uses artificial
While such technologies could improve the shopping experience, there
may also be consequences that people
find less desirable.
Retailers like Amazon could compile
reams of data about where customers
spend time inside their doors, comparable to what internet companies already
know about their online habits.
“It’s combined with everything else
Amazon might know about you,” said
Gennie Gebhart, a researcher at the
Electronic Frontier Foundation, an online civil liberties organization. “Amazon knows what I buy online, what I
watch and now how I move around a
In China, there is less public concern
about data privacy issues. Many Chinese citizens have become accustomed
to high levels of surveillance, including
widespread security cameras and government monitoring of online communications.
Depending on how heavily retailers
automate in the years to come, job
losses could be severe in a sector that
has already experienced wave after
wave of store closings in the United
States by the likes of Macy’s, Toys “R”
Us and Sears.
Retailers are playing down the threat
to jobs. Walmart, the largest private employer in the United States, says that it
does not anticipate automation will lead
to job losses, but rather that the new
technologies are meant to redirect employees to spend more time helping
customers find what they need.
“We see this as helping our associates,” said John Crecelius, vice president of central operations at Walmart.
“We are a people-led business that is
technology enabled.”
Some traditional retailers are also
skeptical about whether the sort of automation in Amazon Go can move to large
stores. They say the technology may not
work or be cost effective outside a store
with a small footprint and inventory.
“That’s probably not scalable to a
120,000-square-foot store,” said Chris
Hjelm, executive vice president and
chief information officer at Kroger.
But he said it was just a matter of time
before more cameras and sensors were
commonplace in stores. “It’s a few years
out,” he said, “before that technology becomes mainstream.”
Nick Wingfield reported from Seattle,
Paul Mozur from Shanghai, and Michael
Corkery from New York.
Keeping your wine collection safe
Wealth Matters
James D. Wallick has thousands of
bottles of wine spread over several
He keeps about 400 bottles in his
apartment in New York City. Most are
ready to drink, but some are waiting to
be transported by climate-controlled
van to a storage facility in Jersey City,
N.J., where they’ll age in a temperature-controlled environment.
The storage facility, Mana Wine
Storage, keeps 2,000 to 3,000 of bottles
of wines for Mr. Wallick at any one
time. These include bottles he stores
for the New York chapter of the Chaîne
des Rôtisseurs, an international food
and wine club. He is the chapter’s
Mr. Wallick has a third storage spot:
a wine cellar in his weekend home in
Bridgehampton, N.Y., on Long Island,
that holds 5,000 bottles. It is more or
less full, he said.
Why does he spread his wine out in
so many places? Logistics, primarily,
but also convenience, he said.
“You need access,” said Mr. Wallick,
55, who runs a family business, the
Mercer Tool Company, which makes
industrial materials and chef-grade
cutlery. “I know that if I call Mana up,
the wine is going to be delivered the
next day.”
In the realm of high-end wine collecting, storage is crucial, however
mundane that might sound. How people store their wine can ensure it maintains its value.
Where they store it brings peace of
mind, whether it is in a vault high
above the ground or a bomb shelter
below it.
“We’re basically providing the optimal environment for the wine,” said
Avner Schneur, president and chief
executive of GRM Document Management, which owns Mana Wine Storage.
“We’re providing the capability to
monitor it.”
During Hurricane Sandy in 2012, he
noted, personal cellars and several
storage facilities were flooded. “Our
warehouse is above the ground, so we
don’t have the flood risk,” he said.
To people who keep only a few bottles of wine around the house, such
focus on storage may seem strange.
But collectors take it seriously for
several reasons.
Space is an obvious need. Dr. Mark
Connolly, a cardiovascular surgeon,
has always lived in apartments in and
around New York. He has focused his
collection on Italian red wine.
But using a storage service has
created its own problem: an overabundance of wine. Because Dr. Connolly,
63, never had to worry about managing his inventory, he just kept collecting.
He has 7,000 bottles, and he knows
he will never finish them in his lifetime. “I always tell my kids, ‘You can’t
sell it,’” Dr. Connolly said. “‘You have
to drink it or give it to your friends.’”
Tim Gallagher, 49, has a cellar in his
home in New Canaan, Conn., that holds
2,200 bottles of wine. He keeps an
additional 1,300 bottles in storage
facilities to age before they’re ready to
drink, he said.
Like Dr. Connolly, Mr. Gallagher, who
works in finance, uses storage facilities
because he is buying more wine than
he is drinking.
“I try to buy in quantities of three or
six bottles,” he said. “I’m not seeking to
Jose Duarte, assistant manager at Mana Wine Storage, making a delivery in New York
City. In the realm of high-end wine collecting, storage is crucial.
acquire a lot more bottles. My goal is to
have lots of variety.”
Storage facilities also provide
records, or provenance, for people who
might want to sell their collection one
day. Just as art collectors want to know
who has owned a work, wine collectors
want to know that rare vintages have
not been stored in a car trunk.
Wine can be damaged by excessive
heat or cold if it is not stored properly.
“With a wine that is heat damaged,
the fruit dries out, and it could be tart,”
said Per Holmberg, former head of the
wine department at Christie’s auction
house and now director of the private
client group at Wine Source. “When
wine gets too cold, it starts to expand,
and you only have a certain amount of
space before gases get pushed out
through the cork.”
A lack of provenance can affect a
wine’s value, particularly when people
are bidding for it at an auction, Mr.
Holmberg said. Knowing where the
wine has been will help increase the
bidding, he said.
Shipping wine in the United States is
tightly controlled by a web of state
laws, and it is illegal for individuals to
ship wine themselves across state
lines. Having wine storage in different
states can ensure that collectors get
the wine they want regardless of
where they live.
That is one of the reasons Mr. Wallick has wine in New York and New
Jersey. Mana also has licenses that
allow it to ship a bottle to a friend in
another state as a gift.
Mr. Gallagher keeps his wine in four
locations. Outside of his own cellar, he
has wine at the Chelsea Wine Vault in
Manhattan, some of which has been
there for more than a decade. Other
wine is in River Valley Wine Cellars in
Westchester County, which is closer to
his home. But recently, he has been
storing wine at a facility in northern
Connecticut called Horse Ridge Cellars.
Most storage facilities maintain the
right humidity and temperature for
aging wine, but there is nothing special
about them. Horse Ridge, though, has
a hook the others cannot match: It
stores wine in its nuclear bomb shelters. One shelter was built by a group
of Hartford insurance companies in the
1950s to store their documents and
protect their top executives in the
event of a nuclear attack.
“When I bought the property in
2000, there were a lot of leftover documents here, and I found all the minutes
from board meetings,” said Jed Benedict, president of Horse Ridge Cellars.
“They fully intended to have this massive, awesome bomb shelter to hide out
in, and then the only thing left in the
world would be insurance executives.”
Now the bomb shelter protects
hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth
of some of the greatest wines ever
produced. Six years ago, when it filled
up, Mr. Benedict built another one.
The natural temperature of these
shelters is perfect for wine. The humidity is easy to manage. And security is
not difficult to explain: The original
bomb shelter has a 12-ton vault door, is
eight feet underground and has a
series of backup generators that
would, well, protect your wine from
But Horse Ridge is two hours from
New York, and proximity matters for
many collectors. So Mr. Benedict said
he was generally in and around New
York every week for pickups and deliveries.
Mr. Schneur of Mana markets the
convenience of his operation and its
climate-controlled vans.
“If you decide you want to get a
bottle of wine and ship it from New
Jersey to New York, it’s illegal for you,
but we have the licensing,” he said.
“We can pick it up for you. We can
deliver it for you. We can do it in a rush
if it’s for tonight’s dinner or tomorrow
or next week.”
Delivery fees vary. As with anything
else, if you wait until the last minute, it
will cost you more. Mana charges a
minimum fee of $40 to deliver wine to
Manhattan, whether one bottle or five
cases, which Mr. Schneur said was
“To cross the tunnel, it’s $15 for the
toll,” he said. “We’re not nickeling and
diming you.”
There are other charges, too. Horse
Ridge charges $40 an hour for additional services, like taking an inventory of wine or packing up a collection
for shipment.
Storage fees can be as low as $1.25 a
month per case of wine, which holds 12
regular bottles or six magnums. Of
course, wine collectors rarely store just
one box, and they are not putting it
there for just a month.
Mana has a monthly minimum of
$45, which covers 20 cases of wine.
That breaks down to 19 cents a bottle.
For people who want their own “wine
cage” — a space that holds 100 cases —
the cost starts at $100 a month.
But for the serious collectors with
hundreds of thousands of dollars or
more in wine, these charges are of little
matter. They know their wine will be
secure for decades.
TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018 | 11
Some sponsors cheer for Tiger Woods
Golf fans have embraced
his return, though not all
advertisers are as effusive
In the past few weeks, Tiger Woods has
made a seemingly improbable comeback on the golf course. But can his image rebound the same way off it?
That is the question that brands and
advertisers are posing as Mr. Woods returns to the Masters Tournament on
Thursday for the first time since 2015,
while playing his best golf in years. The
past month has brought swelling television ratings and overcrowded, rowdy
galleries for Mr. Woods’s PGA Tour appearances. When he finished in a second-place tie at the Valspar Championship in early March — at one point
sinking a 44-foot birdie putt that had the
crowd screaming — the television ratings for the final round were the highest
for a non-major tournament since 2013.
For a time, the streaming service of
PGA Tour Live crashed because of “unprecedented traffic.”
All this is evoking memories of the unprecedented fan interest that made Mr.
Woods one of the most recognized —
and influential — athletes for more than
a decade, worth about $90 million per
year in endorsement contracts alone.
But it has been a while. The fallout
from the 2009 revelations of his extramarital affairs cost him endorsement
deals with Gatorade, AT&T, General
Motors and Gillette, among others. The
few companies that stood by him,
namely Nike, did so despite multiple injury-plagued and underwhelming seasons; since 2010, Mr. Woods has had
eight PGA Tour wins, after winning 71
times in the 14 previous years, although
he did regain the world No. 1 ranking in
2013, and held it for most of that year.
“He has a little bit of wind in his sails,”
said David Carter, a professor of sports
business at the University of Southern
California. “The key is going to be can he
win, can he stay healthy and can he stay
out of trouble?”
Some brands had already bet on a Tiger Woods comeback, even when it
looked unlikely. Bridgestone reached
out to Mr. Woods about playing its golf
ball in September 2016, shortly after
Nike announced that it would no longer
be selling golf equipment (though it
would continue its Woods-branded
At the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla., last month, Tiger Woods was in contention until the final hole, attracting huge crowds along the way.
clothing line). It hardly mattered that
Mr. Woods had not appeared in a tournament in 13 months.
Angel Ilagan, Bridgestone Golf’s chief
executive, said in a recent interview
that the company had sent 12 dozen
balls to Mr. Woods, hoping he would attach his name and endorsement to the
product, which he eventually did, signing a multiyear contract in December of
that year.
“We know Tiger’s brand strength,”
Mr. Ilagan said. “Whether he does play
or not doesn’t really matter. That’s just
icing on the cake.”
With Mr. Woods apparently close to
his previous form — he is the betting favorite to win his fifth green jacket at the
Masters — that icing is already tasting
sweet. Already in 2018, Bridgestone’s
sales of golf balls have increased 115 percent over the same period a year ago.
Mr. Ilagan attributed that to Mr. Woods;
Bridgestone has already begun to market a Woods edition golf ball, which it introduced last Wednesday.
TaylorMade, which signed Mr. Woods
to use its clubs in January 2017, said it
saw no need to build a marketing campaign around the star, because the mere
fact that he plays with the clubs or talks
about their performance in interviews
does the selling job.
“When Tiger says something, the
world takes notice,” David Abeles, the
company’s chief executive, said. “Because it’s true. We’re excited just when
he talks in his own words.”
Mr. Ilagan suggested that Mr.
Woods’s dramatic rebound had made
him more relatable and perhaps likable
for fans. “His absence showed what was
missing when he wasn’t there,” Mr. Ilagan said.
Martin Buckley, global vice president
and general manager of Nike Golf,
which sells a full line of Woods-branded
clothing, including shoes, shirts and
sweaters, said that fans would be seeing
a lot more of him in Nike advertisements
this summer.
“He’s a unique, integral part of the
Nike family,” Mr. Buckley wrote in an
email, “and we don’t see that changing
any time soon.”
But while performance brands remain aligned with Mr. Woods, more
mainstream companies have not yet
jumped back on the bandwagon. Peter
Land, a partner at Finsbury, the stra-
tegic communications firm, suspects a
reason could be that Mr. Woods most
likely alienated women when news
about his extramarital affairs surfaced.
“Brands with a strong female stakeholder base will continue to be a struggle for Tiger,” said Mr. Land, who was
with PepsiCo when Gatorade, which
PepsiCo owns, decided to drop Mr.
Woods. “There are so many other successful and charismatic global athletes
to partner with — and they come with a
lower risk profile.”
The companies that might benefit
most from Mr. Woods’s resurgence
could be the ones that got onboard a few
years ago, seizing on a “buy low” opportunity, said Mr. Carter, the University of
Southern California professor.
Full Swing Golf, which makes golf
simulators, started a relationship with
Mr. Woods in 2014, when he was rehabbing from injury. Its chief executive,
Ryan Dotters, thought Mr. Woods could
use the simulator to train indoors, and
Mr. Woods was receptive.
“It was definitely a strategic move,”
Mr. Dotters said. “We felt no matter
what Tiger had gone through in the past,
we knew his brand was extremely
strong. We thought there was a big opportunity there.”
The relationship has not always been
easy. Last May, Mr. Woods was arrested
and charged with driving under the influence after being found asleep behind
the wheel of his Mercedes-Benz. A toxicology report found several powerful
painkillers in his system that he said he
was taking to cope with his fourth back
surgery that spring.
Mr. Woods pleaded guilty to reckless
driving and agreed to enter a diversion
program, which included a year on probation and 50 hours of community service. He had already completed treatment at a clinic for help in dealing with
his prescription medications.
This time, his sponsors stood by him.
“I didn’t consider dropping him at all,”
Mr. Ilagan said. “We looked into the situation and ascertained that what he did
was the right thing. People realized he
was about as responsible as he could
have been in that situation.”
Mr. Abeles, TaylorMade’s chief executive, said: “We’re all human. We believed in Tiger, and we continue to believe in Tiger.”
Mr. Carter said: “ When you’re a beloved figure like Tiger Woods, I think
fans really want to see him come back.
He still has this halo effect.”
Thinking about corporate tax cuts
Economic View
Corporate tax cuts will put billions of
dollars back in the hands of American
businesses this year. Naturally, people
want to know how those businesses
will spend it. But the answer doesn’t
really matter, at least not for understanding whether the tax cuts were a
good idea.
That’s because the economic case for
corporate tax cuts has almost nothing
to do with what corporations do with
the extra cash.
Economists generally recognize that
corporate tax cuts have two quite
distinct effects.
First, a tax cut increases the incentive to invest. A lower corporate tax
rate gives investors in a new factory a
larger share of the income that factory
generates. And that in turn leads more
investment projects to pass the costbenefit test that tells a company
whether it’s worth building the factory
in the first place.
This incentive effect drives most
economic models of investment, and
few economists debate its underlying
logic, although there’s considerable
debate as to whether it will yield a
large or small increase.
Second, a tax cut showers extra cash
on companies. That cash largely comes
from companies that are suddenly
paying a lower tax rate on profits
earned from past investments. This
windfall has a big effect on the distribution of income, with billions of dollars going to owners of capital at the
expense of taxpayers. But few economists believe that this cash transfusion
will do much to bolster future investment, because the profitability of a
new capital project depends on future
revenues and expenses, not on how
much cash a company has lying
As Alan Viard, an economist at the
American Enterprise Institute, has
written: “The economic case for corporate tax rate reduction is not based on
how companies ‘use’ their tax savings.
It is based on how companies change
their behavior in order to obtain larger
tax savings.”
Yet the early debate about whether
the United States tax cut enacted in
December is working has barely focused on the incentive effect, tracking
instead what companies are doing with
their cash windfalls.
President Trump boasts that he’s put
more money in the hands of corporations and that they are using it to give
bonuses to their workers. Many critics
counter that the recent spike in stock
buybacks shows the money isn’t going
to anything useful like financing new
investments. Both of these arguments
are beside the point. They’re based on
flawed reasoning that says businesses
invest only when they’ve got the cash
on hand to pay for it.
It’s wrong because companies with
profitable investment opportunities
can usually find ways to finance them,
whether by borrowing from the bank,
issuing stock or bonds or taking on
strategic partners. (Cash is especially
helpful for smaller companies that find
it difficult to borrow, or for projects
where outside investors fear being
exploited, but these effects are likely to
be small.)
The big mistake is to assume that
what’s scarce is cash. The reality is
that profitable investment opportunities are scarce.
What can we learn
The success
from the recent
of the tax
surge in stock buybacks, in which
cuts depends
companies buy back
less on how
their own shares,
effectively returning
spend the
their spare cash to
windfall than
Quite possibly,
nothing, as far as the
merit of the tax cuts
goes. Standard economic theories suggest buybacks
would occur whether or not the tax
cuts succeed at stimulating investment.
Here’s why. The tax cut showers
cash on corporations indiscriminately,
not just on those with great investment
ideas. Some companies now have extra
cash but no ideas to spend it on. For
them, the best response is to return the
money to shareholders, through higher
dividends and stock buybacks.
Whether that money will bolster the
economy depends on what shareholders do with these unused funds.
Say the tax bill is a success and it
leads companies to find many new
investment opportunities. Sharehold-
ers will be eager to use their newlyreturned funds to finance those companies with the most profitable projects.
In this happy version, the buybacks
channel money from firms with few
profitable investment opportunities to
those with better prospects. Investment rises and the economy grows
more rapidly.
Alternatively, the tax bill could be a
bust, for several possible reasons.
Perhaps lower taxes don’t lead companies to invest more. Maybe rising
government debt results in higher
interest rates, countering the investment incentives created by the new tax
Whatever the cause, if the tax bill
fails to create new investment opportunities, shareholders won’t reinvest
their funds.
In either scenario — both when the
bill’s proponents are right and when
they’re wrong — stock buybacks are
common. John Cochrane, a senior
fellow at the Hoover Institution, has
described the idea that buybacks yield
any worthwhile judgment about the
efficacy of the tax law as “the buyback
The broader lesson is that it’s worth
paying greater attention to what actually happens to investment, and less to
cash flows and buybacks.
Finally, what should we make of Mr.
Trump’s boasts that his corporate tax
cuts are responsible for companies
announcing bonuses for their workers?
Kent Smetters — a professor at the
University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton
School, and a Treasury official in President George W. Bush’s administration
— found Mr. Trump’s reasoning unimpressive.
In the short run, giving more money
to corporations helps only the owners
of corporations. The benefits trickle
down to workers over many years, as
tax cuts first increase investment,
eventually intensifying competition
among firms looking for workers to
operate newly-purchased machinery
and other capital equipment, ultimately raising wages.
Instead, Mr. Smetters suggested that
these carefully-timed bonus announcements were a “gratuitous payback for
President Trump,” from opportunistic
chief executives looking to be seen
“patting him on the back.”
Mr. Smetters noted that the incentive to grant pay rises hasn’t risen, but
the incentive to make Trump-friendly
corporate announcements probably
Neither stock buybacks nor bonus
announcements say much about
whether the tax bill is working. That
remains an open question. It’s simply
too early to tell.
Justin Wolfers is a professor of economics and public policy at the University of
Toric Hémisphères Rétrograde
If there had to be only one
Manufactured entirely
in Switzerland
Mount Street, London | Design District, Miami | Jardins du Palais-Royal, Paris
12 | TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018
Start-up takes A.I. to the movies
Technology is enlisted
to automate the creation
of visual effects in video
How do I delete Facebook Messenger
from my phone?
Inside an old auto body shop here in Silicon Valley, Stefan Avalos pushed a movie camera down a dolly track.
He and a small crew were making a
short film about self-driving cars. They
were shooting a powder-blue 1962
Austin Mini, but through special effects
the rusted relic would be transformed
into an autonomous vehicle that looked
more like the DeLorean from “Back to
the Future.”
Stepping back from the camera, Mr.
Avalos referred wryly to the movie he
was filming as “Project Unemployment.” The film was a way of testing new
technology from a start-up called Arraiy, which is trying to automate the creation of digital effects for movies, television and games.
This new type of artificial intelligence,
which is also being developed by the
software giant Adobe and in other technology industry research labs, could ultimately replace many of the specialists
who build such effects.
“This is no joke; it will put people out
of work,” said Mr. Avalos, a Los Angelesbased filmmaker who also runs a visual
effects house. “The artists are safe. But
it will replace all the drudgery.”
Over the past three decades, computer-generated imagery has transformed
the way movies and television are made.
But building digital effects is still a
painstaking and enormously tedious
For every second of movie time, armies of designers can spend hours isolating people and objects in raw camera
footage, digitally building new images
from scratch and combining the two as
seamlessly as possible.
Arraiy (pronounced “array”) is building systems that can handle at least part
of this process. The company’s
founders, Gary Bradski and Ethan
Rublee, also created Industrial Perception, one of several robotics start-ups
snapped up by Google several years
“Filmmakers can do this stuff, but
they have to do it by hand,” said Mr.
Bradski, a neuroscientist and computer
vision specialist with a long history in
Silicon Valley. He has worked with companies as varied as the chip maker Intel
and the augmented reality start-up
Magic Leap.
Backed by more than $10 million in financing from the Silicon Valley venture
firm Lux Capital, SoftBank Ventures
and others, Arraiy is part of a widespread effort spanning industry and academia and geared toward building systems that can generate and manipulate
images on their own.
Thanks to improvements in so-called
neural networks — complex algorithms
that can learn tasks by analyzing vast
amounts of data — these systems can
edit noise and mistakes out of images or
apply simple effects and create highly
realistic images of very fake people or
help graft one person’s head onto the
body of someone else.
Inside Arraiy’s offices — the old auto
Testing Arraiy’s technology, above, in an old auto body shop in Palo Alto, Calif. Three leaders of Arraiy, below, from left, Gary Bradski, Brendan Dowdle and Ethan Rublee.
“This is no joke; it will put
people out of work. The artists
are safe. But it will replace all
the drudgery.”
body shop — Mr. Bradski and Mr.
Rublee are building computer algorithms that can learn design tasks by analyzing years of work by movie effects
That includes systems that learn to
“rotoscope” raw camera footage, carefully separating people and objects from
their backgrounds so that they can be
dropped onto new backgrounds.
Adobe, which makes many of the software tools used by today’s designers, is
also exploring so-called machine learning that can automate similar tasks.
At Industrial Perception, Mr. Rublee
helped develop computer vision for robots designed to perform tasks like loading and unloading freight trucks. Not
long after Google acquired the start-up,
work on neural networks took off inside
the tech giant. In about two weeks, a
team of Google researchers “trained” a
neural network that outperformed technology from the start-up that had taken
years to create.
Mr. Rublee and Mr. Bradski collected
a decade of rotoscoping and other visual
effects work from various design
houses, which they declined to identify.
And they are adding their own work to
the collection. After filming people,
mannequins and other objects in front of
a classic “green screen,” for example,
company engineers can quickly rotoscope thousands of images relatively
quickly to be added to the data collection. Once the algorithm is trained, it
can rotoscope images without help from
a green screen.
The technology still has flaws, and in
some cases human designers still make
adjustments to the automated work. But
it is improving.
“These methods are still rough
around the edges — there is still a long
tail of things that can go wrong in unpredictable ways — but there aren’t any
fundamental roadblocks,” said Phillip
Isola, a computer vision researcher at
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and OpenAI, the artificial intelligence lab created by Tesla’s chief executive, Elon Musk, and others.
Mr. Avalos says he thinks this work
could ultimately supplant work done by
his own effects house. But he is comfortable with that. He already farms out
many of the more tedious tasks, via the
internet, to workers in other countries.
As hardware improves, these methods will help generate preliminary effects right on the movie set, giving filmmakers a better idea of what the finished
product will look like, Mr. Bradski said.
The Mill, an effects house based in London, recently used Arraiy’s technology
to create a system that could instantly
apply effects that change the look of an
If tech companies can help automate
some of the grunt work involved in creating special effects, creative people will
have a chance to try new things, said Pasha Shapiro, a filmmaker and special effects artist who has also worked with
“Some work is so tedious that it is not
practical,” he said. “That is where technology can help even more.”
The latest sales tool for automakers: Virtual reality
Advances in microprocessor and electronic-sensor technology have helped
turn today’s car into an immersive
multimedia experience spread across
high-definition screens. But car companies do not limit the technological flash
to the inside of the car — high-tech,
game-inspired marketing pitches are
following right on its bumper.
Automakers are offering augmented
reality experiences, video displays that
involve the viewer and lifelike virtual
reality simulations to lure buyers. The
most sophisticated executions are
developed primarily for events like the
New York International Auto Show,
which opened to the public on Friday.
At shows filled with outrageous
concept cars and shiny models making
their debuts, it takes more than a
pretty car to stand out. Visitors might
learn about an automaker’s plans for
urban mobility while flying above a
make-believe landscape, take a virtual
reality sprint around a test track or
scream down a drag strip at the wheel
of a production-model hot rod.
The Dodge Drag Strip Simulator lies
at the point where make-believe meets
reality, and where automotive engineering spills over into video game
science. The latest version roared to
life last year in New York and will
appear again at this year’s show. The
simulation matches two genuine
Dodge Demons — with a multitude of
electronic and hydraulic devices
packed under their hoods where the
engines used to be — in a side-by-side
contest on a video drag strip that is
seen through the vehicles’ windshields.
Lifting their front wheels on takeoff,
the cars leave the virtual starting line
with the slam-you-in-the-seat G-forces
of the acceleration wrought by the
Demon’s 808 horsepower. Electronically controlled, hydraulically powered
struts simulate dynamic events —
including the wheelie. Engine vibration
and track surface changes are transmitted to the seat of the driver’s pants
and synced with the video. Realistic
feedback is communicated through the
steering wheel.
The driver must use the throttle with
precision, steer accurately and shift at
the correct intervals to record a good
elapsed time and top speed. The simulator’s ability to mimic the real thing is
uncanny: Dodge reports a best quarter-mile simulator performance of 9.68
seconds at a top speed of 136 miles per
hour; a production Demon took 9.65
seconds and reached 140 m.p.h. when
tested by the National Hot Rod Association, the organization that oversees
professional drag racing.
“We used the automobile’s technology to create a marketing campaign, a
campaign that creates a halo for the
brand,” said Mark Malmstead, head of
marketing for Dodge SRT, the brand’s
high-performance arm. “The computers that control the simulation are
right out of the Demon.”
While simulations put showgoers in
the driver’s seat of a device that acts
and feels like a real vehicle, virtual
reality executions can pack a threedimensional, 360-degree video environment — such as the interior of an
automobile and the view through the
windows — into a headset. The experience is often enhanced by electronic
manipulation of the viewer’s seat. A
number of automakers showed off such
V.R. systems at the North American
International Auto Show in Detroit in
January, and the technology is in use
at dealerships.
Ford has developed a V.R. display
An engineer fine-tuning the Dodge Drag Strip Simulator for the New York International
Auto Show. The immersive displays have roots in video games.
Some automakers are
developing displays that
mix real and virtual objects
in the same space.
called City of Tomorrow. The experience includes a ride in a flying machine that rises above a make-believe
urban landscape and shows off some of
the company’s transportation technology. Dynamic control of the seat simulates acceleration and turning forces. It
proved popular at the Detroit show and
will be part of Ford’s display in New
After success with a V.R. experience
developed for a Connecticut dealer’s
showroom, Cadillac is expanding the
effort to include more dealerships.
Like Cadillac, Lexus has developed a
V.R. experience for dealerships and
venues other than auto shows. It takes
viewers to a virtual space where they
can walk around vehicles, open the
door to look inside and configure a car
of their own, even before it’s available
for sale.
But in today’s fast-moving digital
world, last year’s V.R. technology is
just so, well, last year. So some automakers are developing displays that
mix real and virtual objects in the
same space.
Honda used such a system to pit its
Civic Type R against a video game
version of the car. The match, which
took place on the Road Atlanta racecourse, is documented on YouTube. A
racecar driver handled the real car,
while an experienced video gamer
drove its virtual twin. While the result
is interesting — the cars finish within a
second of each other — reducing it to
flat screen video takes away some of
the magic. At the Detroit show, Honda
offered a different mixed reality experience that employed Microsoft’s
HoloLens technology. Wearing a headset, show attendees were able to walk
around and enter a car, with holographic visuals promoting the product
all along the way.
Carmakers are also using interactive
video in their pitches. Many dealerships that sell Mercedes-Benz’s highperformance AMG models are using a
system called Power Wall to demonstrate the technology of those sixfigure vehicles. AMG vehicles and
their components are displayed on
video screens as large as 220 inches,
and with a touch-screen controller,
users can view internal parts.
But the most impressive way that
companies have deployed fresh technology remains those hard-to-replicate
experiences, like the Dodge Demon
drag simulator or Chevrolet’s virtual
reality experience, which puts users on
a digital version of the General Motors
test track in Milford, Mich., and at
G.M.’s desert proving ground in Yuma,
Chevrolet calls the display Four
Dimensional V.R. because it involves
not only the 360-degree view in the
headset but also dynamic movement,
vibration and even a bit of wind in the
face. Electronically controlled seats
toss users this way and that as a they
ride around the track and up and down
hills in various Chevrolets.
The display premiered in Detroit and
was part of the brand’s Chicago Auto
Show display in February, said Paul
Edwards, Chevrolet vice president of
“We wanted to take consumers
behind the scenes and demonstrate
what we do to ensure the quality of the
vehicles,” Mr. Edwards said. “The
technological level of the experience
has a rub-off on the brand.”
Facebook Messenger, the company’s
chat program, was spun out of the
Facebook mobile app in 2011, before
the social network removed the chat
function from the main app in 2014. As
with other third-party apps, you can
remove it from your phone with a few
If you use Messenger on a phone
running a recent version of Android,
open the Settings icon and select Apps
& Notifications. Find the Messenger
icon; if you do not see it, tap See All
Apps (or App Info) first. Tap the Uninstall option. You can also delete an app
from the Android home screen by
pressing its icon and then dragging it
to the Uninstall symbol that appears at
the top of the screen.
You can also remove Android apps
by opening the Google Play store icon
on your phone, tapping the three-line
menu icon in the top-left corner and
selecting My Apps & Games. On the
next screen, tap the Installed tab, find
the Messenger icon and tap the Open
button. When the app’s page is open,
tap the Uninstall button.
To delete Messenger on an iPhone,
go to the home screen, find the app’s
icon and press your finger on it until
the tile begins to wiggle. Once the
wiggling starts, a small X appears in
the icon’s top-left corner. Tap the X,
and when the alert box pops up, confirm you wish to delete the app.
Even if you remove the mobile Messenger app (and do not delete your
Facebook account), your Facebook
friends can still send you messages
when you are logged into the desktop
version of the site. A stand-alone web
version is also available at If you prefer not to use the chat
function, tell your friends to reach you
by other means.
One way to delete an Android app: Drag it
to the top of the screen and drop it on the
Uninstall icon.
Sharing a story
on Instagram
I keep getting Instagram alerts on my
phone that say someone has updated
a “story.” What exactly is an Instagram story?
Instagram is primarily known as a
social network that is useful sharing
smartphone camera photos in a square
It added a feature called Stories in
Stories are basically temporary
compilations of photos and videos on a
theme, like a visit to a theme park. You
add to the collection over the course of
the day and can annotate the material
with text, virtual stickers and digital
Instead of posting multiple pictures
and clips separately, where your
friends might miss some of them, you
can start a Story that lets all the content be viewed in one place.
To see a Story in the Instagram
mobile app, tap the house icon in the
lower-left corner of the screen to go to
the Feed page. Stories shared by accounts you follow appear at the top of
the screen, so tap a profile icon to see
the content. The app automatically
moves to the next Story in your feed
unless you tap the X in the corner to
If you want to start your own Story,
tap your own profile icon in the top-left
corner of the Feed page. The Instagram camera app appears, inviting you
to snap, annotate and add the first
photo or video to your Story. You can
then repeat this process throughout
the day.
Stories can be a concise way to
share scenes from a nature hike, a
parade or some other activity.
After 24 hours, a Story disappears
from view, although you can archive it
to your account or save any of the
photos or videos to your phone’s camera roll.
The Instagram Help Center has
more information on using the Stories
feature, including how to configure
your privacy settings. J. D. BIERSDORFER
14 | TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018
Nerd’s paradise, via Spielberg
ing chases through the streets of Columbus — that inspires Mr. Spielberg to
feats of crosscutting virtuosity.
The action is so swift and engaging
that some possibly literal-minded questions may be brushed aside. I, for one,
didn’t quite understand why, given the
global reach of the Oasis, all the relevant
players were so conveniently clustered
in Ohio. (If anyone wants to explain,
please find me on Twitter so I can mute
But, of course, Columbus and the Oasis do not represent actual or virtual realities, but rather two different modalities of fantasy. Wade’s avatar, Parzival,
collects a posse of fighters: Sho, Daito,
Aech and Art3mis, who is also his love
interest. When the people attached to
these identities meet up in Columbus,
they are not exactly as they are in the
game. Aech, large and male in the Oasis,
is played by Lena Waithe. But the fluidity of online identity remains an underexploited possibility. In and out of the
Oasis, Art3mis (also known as Samantha, and portrayed by Olivia Cooke) is a
male fantasy of female badassery. Sho
(Philip Zhao) and Daito (Win Morisaki)
are relegated to sidekick duty.
The multiplayer, self-inventing ethos
of gaming might have offered a chance
for a less conventional division of heroic
labor, but the writers and filmmakers
lacked the imagination to take advantage of it.
The most fun part of “Ready Player
One” is its exuberant handing out of
pop-cultural goodies. Tribute is paid to
Mr. Spielberg’s departed colleagues
John Hughes and Stanley Kubrick. The
visual and musical allusions are eclectic
enough that nobody is likely to feel left
out, and everybody is likely to feel a little
lost from time to time.
Nostalgia? Sure, but what really animates the movie is a sense of history.
The Easter egg hunt takes Parzival and
his crew back into Halliday’s biography
— his ill-starred partnership with Ogden
Morrow (Simon Pegg), his thwarted attempts at romance — and also through
the evolution of video games and related
pursuits. The history is instructive and
also sentimental in familiar ways, positing a struggle for control between idealistic, artistic entrepreneurs (and their
legions of fans) and soulless corporate
Halliday is a sweet, shaggy nerd with
a guileless Northern California drawl
and a deeply awkward manner, especially around women. Sorrento is an autocratic bean counter, a would-be master of the universe who doesn’t even like
video games. These characters are
clichés, but they are also allegorical figures.
In the movie, they represent opposing
principles, but in our world, they are
pretty much the same guy. A lot of the
starry-eyed do-it-yourselfers tinkering
in their garages and giving life to their
boyish dreams back in the ’70s and ’80s
turned out to be harboring superman
fantasies of global domination all along.
They shared their wondrous creations
and played the rest of us for suckers, collecting our admiration, our attention
and our data as profit and feudal tribute.
Mr. Spielberg incarnates this duality
as perfectly as any man alive. He is the
peer of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, and a
Gandalf for the elves and hobbits who
made Google, Facebook and the other
components of our present-day Oasis.
He has been man-child and mogul, wideeyed artist and cold-eyed businessman,
praised for making so many wonderful
things and blamed for ruining everything. His career has been a splendid enactment of the cultural contradictions of
capitalism, and at the same time a series
of deeply personal meditations on love,
loss and imagination. All of that is also
true of Halliday’s Oasis. “Ready Player
One” is far from a masterpiece, but as
the fanboys say, it’s canon.
Canadian English sounds ‘normal’ —
that’s why Canadians are well received
in the United States as anchormen and
reporters, because the vowels don’t give
away the region they come from.”
Mr. Rain has played an astonishing
range of characters in almost 80 productions at the Stratford Festival in Ontario
over 45 years, understudying Alec Guinness in “Richard III” in 1953 and going
on to play Macbeth, King Lear and
Humpty Dumpty. Sexy, intimidating,
folksy, sly or persuasive, he could deliver whatever a role needed.
Mr. Rain had to quickly fathom and
flesh out HAL, recording all of his lines
in 10 hours over two days. Kubrick sat
“three feet away, explaining the scenes
to me and reading all the parts.”
Kubrick, according to the transcript of
the session in his archive at the University of the Arts London, gave Mr. Rain
only a few notes of direction, including:
“Sound a little more like it’s a peculiar
request”; “A little more concerned”;
“Just try it closer and more depressed.”
When HAL says, “I know I’ve made
some very poor decisions recently, but I
can give you my complete assurance
that my work will be back to normal,”
Mr. Rain somehow manages to sound
both sincere and not reassuring. And his
delivery of the line “I think you know
what the problem is just as well as I do”
has the sarcastic drip of a drawing-room
melodrama and also carries the disinterested vibe of a polite sociopath.
Kubrick had Mr. Rain sing the 1892
love song “Daisy Bell” (“I’m half crazy,
all for the love of you”) almost 50 times,
in uneven tempos, in monotone, at dif-
ferent pitches and even just by humming it. In the end, he used the very first
take. Sung as HAL’s brain is being disconnected, it’s from his early programming days, his computer childhood. It
brings to an end the most affecting
scene in the entire film.
Scott Brave said the moment “is so
powerful that you feel very uncomfortable; all of sudden, HAL feels incredibly
close to being alive and being human.
You start to empathize with that experience, and you are responding to the
death of a machine.”
For a character that’s been endlessly
caricatured — in “The Simpsons,”
“South Park,” television commercials —
HAL has inspired a surprisingly rich
range of adjectives over the years. He
and his voice have been described as
aloof, eerily neutral, silky, wheedling,
controlled, baleful, unisex, droll, soft,
conversational, dreamy, supremely
calm and rational. He’s discursive,
suave, inhumanly cool, confident, superior, deadpan, sinister, patronizing and
Anthony Hopkins has said it influenced his performance as the serial
killer Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of
the Lambs.” Douglas Rain himself has
never seen “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
For the retired actor, who will turn 90 in
May, the performance was simply a job.
A.I. voice synthesis can’t yet deliver a
performance as compelling as his HAL,
but it is becoming more . . . human. The
HAL era is almost over: Soon, an A.I.
voice will be able to sound like whoever
you want it to. In Canada, even Alexa
has a Canadian accent.
‘Ready Player One’ takes
place in a dystopian future
where virtual reality reigns
It isn’t going too far out on a limb to predict that “Ready Player One” will turn
out to be one of Steven Spielberg’s more
controversial projects.
Even before its release just about all
over the world in the last few days, this
adaptation of Ernest Cline’s 2011 best
seller — what one writer called a
“nerdgasm” of a novel — was subjected
to an unusual degree of internet prehate. That was only to be expected. Mr.
Spielberg has tackled contentious topics
before — terrorism, slavery, the Pentagon Papers, sharks — but nothing as
likely to stir up a hornet’s nest of defensiveness, disdain and indignant “actually”-ing as the subject of this movie,
which is video games.
And not only video games. “Ready
Player One,” written by Mr. Cline and
Zak Penn, dives into the magma of fan
zeal, male self-pity and techno-mythology in which those once-innocent pastimes are now embedded. Mr. Spielberg,
a digital enthusiast and an old-school
cineaste, goes further than most filmmakers in exploring the aesthetic possibilities of a form that is frequently dismissed and misunderstood.
Aided by his usual cinematographer,
Janusz Kaminski, and by the production
designer Adam Stockhausen, he turns a
vast virtual landscape of battling avatars into a bustling pop-cultural theme
park, an interactive museum of late
20th- and early 21st-century entertainment, a maze of niche tastes, cultish preoccupations and blockbuster callbacks.
Mr. Spielberg navigates this warehouse with his usual dexterity, loading
every frame with information without
losing the clarity and momentum of the
Nonetheless, the toy guns of social
media and pop-up kulturkritik are
locked and loaded. Mr. Spielberg will be
accused of taking games and their players too seriously and not seriously
enough, of pandering and mocking, of
just not getting it and not being able to
see beyond it — “it” being the voracious
protoplasm that has, over the past three
or four decades, swallowed up most of
our cultural discourse.
Mr. Spielberg and some of his friends
helped to create this monster, which
grants him a measure of credibility and
also opens him up to a degree of suspicion. He is the only person who could
have made this movie and the last person who should have been allowed near
the material.
That material has issues of its own.
Mr. Cline’s book — readable and amusing without being exactly good — is a
hodgepodge of cleverness and cliché.
Less than a decade after publication, it
already feels a bit dated.
In the film, set in 2045, Wade Watts (a
young man played by the agreeably
bland, blandly agreeable Tye Sheridan)
lives in “the stacks,” a vertical pile of
trailers where the poorer residents of
Columbus, Ohio (Oklahoma City in the
book), cling to hope, dignity and their
VR gloves. Humanity has been ravaged
by the usual political and ecological disasters (among them “bandwidth riots”
referred to in Wade’s introductory voice-
Clockwise from top: Tye Sheridan as the protagonist of “Ready Player One”; Mr. Sheridan and Lena Waithe in another scene; and the director, Steven Spielberg, on the set.
over), and most people seek refuge in a
digital paradise called the Oasis.
That world — less a game than a Jorge
Luis Borges cosmos populated by wizards, robots and racecar drivers — is the
creation of James Halliday (Mark Rylance). After Halliday’s death, his avatar
revealed the existence of a series of Eas-
ter eggs, or secret digital treasures, the
discovery of which would win a lucky
player control of the Oasis. Wade is a
“gunter” — short for “egg hunter” — determined to pursue this quest even after
most of the other gamers have tired of it.
Among his rivals are a few fellow believers and Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendel-
sohn), the head of a company called IOI
that wants to bring Halliday’s paradise
under corporate control.
In the real world, IOI encourages Oasis fans to run up debts that it collects by
forcing them into indentured servitude.
Sorrento’s villainy sets up a battle on
two fronts — clashes in the Oasis mirror-
HAL 9000 wasn’t always so calm
‘2001: A Space Odyssey’
set the tone for how A.I.
sounds 50 years later
“I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do
Even if you’ve never seen the movie,
you know the voice.
HAL 9000, the seemingly omniscient
computer in “2001: A Space Odyssey,”
was the film’s most expressive and emotional figure, and made a lasting impression on our collective imagination.
Stanley Kubrick’s epic, a journey from
pre-human history to a possible infinity
that doesn’t need humans at all, is probably the most respected, if not the most
beloved, science-fiction film of all time.
The story of the creation of HAL’s performance — the result of a last-minute
collaboration between the idiosyncratic
director Stanley Kubrick and the veteran Canadian actor Douglas Rain —
has been somewhat lost in the 50 years
since the film opened on April 3, 1968. As
has its impact: Artificial intelligence
has borrowed from the HAL persona,
and now, unwittingly, a slight hint of Canadianness resides in our phones and
interactive devices.
Mr. Rain’s HAL has become the default reference, not just for the voice, but
also for the humanlike qualities of what
a sentient machine’s personality should
Just ask Amazon’s Alexa or Google
Home — the cadence, the friendly for-
mality, the pleasant intelligence and
sense of calm control in their voices
evoke Mr. Rain’s unforgettable performance. As we warily eye a future utterly
transformed by A.I. incursions into all
aspects of our lives, HAL has been lurking.
To Scott Brave, the co-author of
“Wired for Speech: How Voice Activates
and Advances the Human-Computer
Relationship,” HAL 9000 is a mix between a butler and a psychoanalyst. “He
has a sense of deference and of detachment,” Mr. Brave said, adding that he
saw a ripple effect on, for example, the
iPhone’s virtual assistant. “When I listen to something like Siri, I feel there is a
lot in common.”
Even when Kubrick was making the
film, the director sensed HAL’s larger
implications. He said in a 1969 interview
with the author and critic Joseph Gelmis
that one of the things he was trying to
convey was “the reality of a world populated — as ours soon will be — by machine entities that have as much, or
more, intelligence as human beings. We
wanted to stimulate people to think
what it would be like to share a planet
with such creatures.”
So how was this particular creature
The “2001” historian David Larson
said that “Kubrick came up with the final HAL voice very late in the process. It
was determined during ‘2001’ planning
that in the future, the large majority of
computer command and communication inputs would be via voice, rather
than via typewriter.”
To play HAL, Kubrick settled on Mar-
tin Balsam, who had won the best supporting actor Oscar for “A Thousand
Clowns.” Perhaps there was a satisfying
echo that appealed to Kubrick — both
were from the Bronx and sounded like it.
Adam Balsam, the actor’s son, told me
that “Kubrick had him record it very realistically and humanly, complete with
crying during the scene when HAL’s
memory is being removed.”
Then the director changed his mind.
“We had some difficulty deciding exactly what HAL should sound like, and
Marty just sounded a little bit too colloquially American,” Kubrick said in the
1969 interview. Mr. Rain recalls Kubrick
telling him, “I’m having trouble with
what I’ve got in the can. Would you play
the computer?”
Kubrick had heard Mr. Rain’s voice in
the 1960 documentary “Universe,” a film
he watched at least 95 times, according
to the actor. “I think he’s perfect,”
Kubrick wrote to a colleague in a letter
preserved in the director’s archive. “The
voice is neither patronizing, nor is it intimidating, nor is it pompous, overly
dramatic or actorish. Despite this, it is
In December 1967, Kubrick and Mr.
Rain met at a recording studio at the
MGM lot in Borehamwood, outside London.
The actor hadn’t seen a frame of the
film, then still deep in postproduction.
He met none of his co-stars, not even
Keir Dullea, who played the astronaut
David Bowman, HAL’s colleague turned
nemesis. The cast members had long
since completed their work, getting
HAL’s lines fed to them by a range of
people, including the actress Stefanie
Powers. Mr. Rain hadn’t even been hired
to play HAL, but to provide narration.
Kubrick finally decided against using
narration, opting for the ambiguity that
was enraging to some viewers, transcendent to others.
It’s not a session Mr. Rain remembers
fondly: “If you could have been a ghost
at the recording, you would have
thought it was a load of rubbish.”
HAL, voiced by Douglas Rain, was the
1968 film’s most expressive figure.
Kubrick was attracted to Mr. Rain for
the role partly because the actor “had
the kind of bland mid-Atlantic accent we
felt was right for the part,” he said in the
1969 interview with Mr. Gelmis. But Mr.
Rain’s accent isn’t mid-Atlantic at all;
it’s Standard Canadian English.
As the University of Toronto linguistics professor Jack Chambers explained: “You have to have a computer
that sounds like he’s from nowhere, or,
rather, from no specific place. Standard
TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018 | 15
Her small indie world’s getting bigger
“I always had less than five friends.
Probably less than two friends, usually,”
she said. “My brother tried to make me
cool so bad. He failed.”
She took piano lessons starting at age
6 but found recitals “nerve-racking.” In
fifth grade, a close friend opened up a
new world for Ms. Kline by introducing
her to foundational texts by the Strokes
and Neutral Milk Hotel and teaching her
to play guitar. By her teens, she was attending all-ages rock shows at since-
Greta Kline, the singer
and songwriter of Frankie
Cosmos, faces the future
On a recent Monday afternoon, Greta
Kline was thinking about music and
memory. On the way from her home in
Brooklyn, to a French bistro in the West
Village, across the East River in Manhattan, she’d been listening to a favorite
song from her teen years: “Alphabet,” a
downcast ballad recorded in 2003 by the
musician Jeffrey Lewis.
“There’s something about music you
listen to in high school. When you hear
it, it takes you right back,” the 24-yearold singer-songwriter said after ordering scrambled eggs with chèvre. “I felt
that way today. Like, ‘Wow, nothing else
exists except for that song when you’re
listening to it.’”
The songs that Ms. Kline writes and
performs with her band, Frankie Cosmos, have that same universe-swallowing quality. “Vessel,” the group’s new album, is full of tiny scenes that hit with
incredible poignancy, from her New
York childhood up through her uncertain 20s. It’s an LP full of surprises that
stay with you long after the often-brief
songs end.
Take the single “Being Alive,” set in
part at the defunct Brooklyn venue
Goodbye Blue Monday, where at 16 Ms.
Kline once contributed “really bad,
nerdy drumming” to a performance by
her first band, Milk Ghost. In the song’s
second verse, a guy named Craig says
“Maybe see you later” to Ms. Kline, and
she lets you hear how that made her
heart stop and then soar over furiously
strummed guitar chords that downshift
for a short reverie. “It’s about being a
teenager and reading into everything,
Ms. Kline fronting Frankie Cosmos in Leeds, England, in 2016.
“Part of why I’m not interested in
being famous is because I already
know that it doesn’t mean
Above left, Greta Kline with her parents, Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline, and her brother, Owen, and right, on the Staten Island Ferry in New York.
taking moments that are really small
and making them huge,” she said.
“That’s the driving mantra behind everything I do: Isn’t it crazy that I have
feelings and exist?”
Dressed in a well-worn black hoodie
featuring the name of a New York-based
musician (Vagabon) over a white Tshirt advertising another band (Big
Thief ), her dark hair buzzed close in a
way that accentuated her expressive
features, Ms. Kline looked every bit her
role as one of the patron saints and lead-
ning time, “Zentropy” had the resonant
glow of a full-length statement, and it
won rave reviews from critics, drawing
new crowds to her shows. “That’s when
it got scary for me,” she said. “I only
want people to listen to it who care about
it, and you can’t control that.” On her
parents’ advice, she stopped reading
her press coverage.
“Vessel” sounds bigger and bolder
than anything she’s done before, thanks
to the extra guitar punch added by the
ing lights of today’s fiercely independent singer-songwriter scene. The example she has set over the last seven years
— from lo-fi, no-budget home recordings
to effusive critical acclaim and sold-out
tours, all without sacrificing any of her
charm or individuality — has helped
open doors for a generation of self-starters like Soccer Mommy, Snail Mail and
Julien Baker.
“Vessel” is Frankie Cosmos’s third
studio LP — the group also includes the
bassist Alex Bailey, who joined after recording; the keyboardist and vocalist
Lauren Martin; and the drummer Luke
Pyenson — and it’s getting a heavier
promotional push than usual. Instead of
the small artist-owned imprints Ms.
Kline allied with for “Zentropy” in 2014
and “Next Thing” two years later, this
one is arriving courtesy of Sub Pop, the
Seattle-based indie-rock institution that
propelled Nirvana and the Postal Service. “Now we have sponsored Instagram
ads,” said Ms. Kline, who also acts as the
band’s manager. “Spotify makes people
listen to Frankie Cosmos. That’s so
Growing up as the youngest child of
the actors Kevin Kline and Phoebe
Cates has given her deft comic timing
and a healthy disregard for celebrity.
“Part of why I’m not interested in being
famous is because I already know that it
doesn’t mean anything,” she said.
“They’re just my parents; they’re just
people. I know that being recognized for
something doesn’t make you love yourself any more.”
Unlike her outgoing brother Owen,
Ms. Kline was shy, and she felt out of
place at her all-girls elementary school.
vanished spaces like Cake Shop and
Shea Stadium.
Eventually she worked up the confidence to step onstage herself, although
she preferred staying toward the back.
In addition to Milk Ghost, she drummed
in Period Blood, a short-lived, “superangry” quartet whose name was suggested by her brother. Around the same
time, circa 2010, Ms. Kline opened a
Bandcamp account for the scuzzysounding yet sophisticated indie-pop
songs she’d begun furtively recording
on her computer.
She posted her solo music under several fanciful stage names, including Ingrid Superstar, which she reluctantly
dropped after learning that a Warhol superstar had already claimed it in the
1960s. (The name Frankie Cosmos,
which she’s used since 2012, is in part a
homage to one of her favorite poets,
Frank O’Hara.) “I didn’t have my real
name anywhere, and I thought that that
would protect me,” she said. “I was like,
‘No one’s going to know it’s me! I can
write about who I have a crush on!’”
Even when she started singing her
own songs in public, she still viewed
Frankie Cosmos as an eccentric art
project, meant mostly to amuse her family and friends. But any illusion of privacy ended in 2014 with the release of
“Zentropy,” a sweet, intimate set that
Ms. Kline recorded as a duo with her
then-boyfriend, Aaron Maine of the indie-rock group Porches.
Despite its compact 17-minute run-
multi-instrumentalist Ms. Martin, an old
friend of the Kline siblings who joined in
2016. It’s also notably darker in tone, in
part because many of its lyrics deal with
the late stages of Ms. Kline and Mr.
Maine’s five-year relationship, which
ended about a year and a half ago.
Songwriting, she said, often lets her
examine emotions she’d otherwise repress: “I probably should go to therapy,
but I don’t, so I just write songs.” When
she revisits older material, the effect
can be disorienting. “I don’t do any
drugs, I don’t drink,” she said. “So playing a bunch of songs I wrote when I was
16 is my way of giving myself a weird experience. It’s like microdosing.”
When we met for lunch, Ms. Kline was
two days away from her 24th birthday.
Parties stress her out, so she planned to
attend a magic show with her parents,
bake a cake she saw on Instagram and
possibly write a song. “I hate birthdays,”
she said. “I don’t feel like a grown-up, because I still don’t look forward to showering.”
While the band has tour dates booked
through the end of the year, Ms. Kline
said she still didn’t think of herself as a
natural live performer. “I had to force
myself to try it, and I still have to talk
myself up to it every time I go onstage,”
she said. “One of the things that’s hard is
it’s my real self all the time. If I wear a
funny outfit that I wouldn’t normally
wear, would that make it less wearing
down on my soul?”
Ms. Kline, running late to her next engagement, slung a blue-and-green backpack over her shoulders. “This is just
one part of my life,” she added before
dashing out the door. “One day when I’m
a grown-up with a real job and a family, I
can tell my kids, ‘I actually used to be a
rock star.’”
Some pictures are worth a few extra words
The Street Philosophy
of Garry Winogrand
By Geoff Dyer
Illustrated. 239 pp. University of Texas
Press. $60.
Geoff Dyer writes books that are easy to
enjoy but hard to pin down. Early on in
his new volume about the photography
of Garry Winogrand, he offers a characteristic bit of self-reflection. “In my
notes, for reasons I can no longer
fathom, I kept reminding myself that
this should not be a book about photography,” he writes. “Well it is about photography, obviously, but I hope it’s about
more than photography.”
This refusal to be hemmed in (not to
mention the cheerful indifference to his
own best-laid plans) is what makes
Dyer the ideal partner for Winogrand,
who hated the term “street photography” even as his name became synonymous with it. “I photograph to find out
what something will look like photographed,” Winogrand once said. But
even that (minimal) explanation puts
too much emphasis on the end result,
when what he seemed to love most was
the process that got him there: being on
the street, looking through his
viewfinder and releasing the shutter.
“Anyone who can print can print my pictures” was another thing he liked to say,
and upon his death in 1984, as if to prove
his point, he left behind 2,500 rolls of undeveloped film.
At first glance, “The Street Philosophy of Garry Winogrand” looks like yet
another monograph on the artist’s work
(including 18 color photographs previously unpublished): physically imposing and visually sumptuous, with a hefty
list price. But since this is a Dyer book, it
can’t just be about the subject at hand.
In the introduction, Dyer says he was
inspired by the curator John
Szarkowski’s 2000 book on Eugène Atget, in which each of 100 photographs
was matched with a miniature essay revealing a pertinent bit about the artist
and the changing times through which
he lived. Atget, whose life straddled the
19th and 20th centuries, documented
France’s shift from a rural economy to
an urban one. Winogrand, who was born
in 1928, a year after Atget died, captured
the fallout from the midcentury American moment — those few decades, from
the 1950s on, when placid middle-class
prosperity started to give way to something less affluent, more fragmented
and harder to define.
The resulting volume is therefore
enormously ambitious — though I suspect “ambitious” is a word that makes
Dyer, the author of “Yoga for People
Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It,” groan.
For someone whose books contain frequent allusions to how lazy he is, Dyer is
relentlessly productive; he is constantly
undertaking something new, whether
it’s writing about a film by Andrei
Tarkovsky or about life on an aircraft
carrier. Even though he didn’t own a
camera, Dyer still embarked on “The
Ongoing Moment,” a 2005 book organized around common photographic obsessions: benches, barber shops, blind
accordionists. For “Street Philosophy,”
Dyer has taken a hundred of Winogrand’s photographs, arranged them
“roughly chronologically” and provided
illuminating context — biographical and
historical — for each.
There’s a certain tenuousness to
Winogrand’s photos; the compositions
hold together, but just barely. He was
conveying not the coherent myth of the
American century, but its unruly shad-
A Garry Winogrand photograph taken in Los Angeles in 1980. Winogrand died in 1984.
ow. Dyer’s accompanying texts wear
their erudition lightly. He makes ample
and appreciative use of Very Serious
Ideas from the likes of Erich Fromm,
Marshall Berman and Richard Sennett,
but it’s the specifics in the pictures
themselves that most excite his imagination.
Contemplating a 1968 photograph of
New Yorkers walking through windy
gusts of garbage that look like a tickertape parade gone awry, Dyer writes that
it’s “as if, in a split-second, the celebra-
tions of the achievements of the 1960s
give way to the New York of garbage collectors’ strikes.” Read another away, the
image is also a hint of the cutthroat corporate world to come, “the rat race in
which no one can ever emerge as a winner but everyone is a potential loser.”
Not everything is so political, though
even the most innocuous images harbor
an element of uncanny unease. The flat,
nearly featureless facade of a parking
garage makes Dyer think of “a thriller
as it might have been directed by Anto-
nioni”; a tiny bunch of flowers tucked
into the shadow of the building “bloom
like the sudden red of a bullet wound.”
An image of a partly-eaten pizza pie in
the back seat of a car includes “a bit of
inexplicable drama” in the form of a
faceless man with a pizza-colored hand
holding a pizza-colored monkey, who in
turn is grabbing a pizza-colored can of
As sensitive as he is to what he sees,
Dyer can make some dud calls. He tries
to defend Winogrand against criticism
stemming from the photographer’s 1975
book “Women Are Beautiful,” conceding
that “plenty of people have found this title, this claim, irksome” — especially
since it was published during the throes
of second-wave feminist protest. (The
original subtitle was supposed to be
“Confessions of a Male Chauvinist Pig.”)
But then Dyer’s main defense seems to
be that the women in the pictures are indeed, well, hot: “It’s hard to be censorious as Winogrand records her long hair,
her sleeveless dress, her bare arms, the
implied lightness of body and spirit.”
For the most part, though, Dyer’s gifts
as a noticer and a writer become fully
apparent when he lets himself get
deeply, comically weird. A mid-’50s picture of a bronzed, not-so-young couple
sunning themselves on a pool deck in
Los Angeles acts as both a reminder of
“the golden age of sunbathing” and a
“wizened deterrent” against it. “The
whole scene, in fact, starts to look like an
upmarket, open-air intensive care facility with the empty lounger to the right a
poignant symbol of absence: a memorial to the Unknown Sunbather.”
Winogrand spent the last years of his
life in Los Angeles, shooting with apparent abandon, capturing a blasted landscape that included overturned shopping carts and a body by the side of the
road. His increasingly immoderate and
unmediated output seemed to channel a
larger shift in a country that was starting to look more desperate and less sure
of itself. “There’s just the feel of time
congealing,” Dyer writes, rather wonderfully, of a late photograph in a
crowded Los Angeles park. Winogrand
might not have been thinking about
where anything was going or where it
had been, but he did one better than
that: He showed us what it all looked
16 | TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018
The suffering and spirit of San Juan
The Puerto Rican capital
is still battered, but a trip
there fills a traveler’s soul
The reports coming out of San Juan,
P.R., as I touched down in mid-February,
five months after the Category 4 Hurricane Maria had ripped through the island, were still dire. Some 900,000 people were still without power. Four days
earlier, an explosion at a power plant
had briefly plunged those who did have
light back into darkness and set the already slow-moving recovery efforts
back by who knew how long.
So the last thing I expected to encounter while waiting at an airport baggage
carousel at 1:30 in the morning was
Queremos que Gloria nos baile la
Queremos que Gloria nos baile la
Pelúa por aquí, pelúa por allá
Pelúa por delante y pelúa por detrás.
I followed the sounds of laughter and
clapping to a dance circle of women in
their 50s through 70s, raising and lowering their hands toward one of their own
in the center. They were a tour group
who’d just come home, delirious and
giddy after a 25-hour journey from
French Polynesia. According to their
travel agent, Blandine de Lataillade, a
Frenchwoman who came to Puerto Rico
for love 25 years ago and never left, the
group began planning this trip shortly
after the hurricane. They’d wanted to
have something to look forward to. “We
want to show the world that Puerto Rico
is back,” she said.
The song the women were singing,
they told me, was one you can’t go to a
party in Puerto Rico without hearing.
“Pelúa” effectively translates as “lady
with a lot of hair,” and in this case they
were asking someone named Gloria to
bailar, or dance, like a pelúa. Typically,
each person in the circle gets called out
to show off center stage — even shy people can’t demur — and the dance is over
when everyone has had a turn.
“What’s your name?” one of the women asked me, and then she immediately
shouted it to the group, who started
singing and clapping all over again.
“Queremos que Jada nos baile la pelúa
I felt as if I’d found my people.
to point out
that the tour group hadn’t forgotten the
devastation: an official count of 64 dead
from the hurricane, with an estimated
death toll of more than a thousand because of resulting conditions. Of those
who survived, many were forced to
leave — the elderly for medical issues,
the young because they had lost their
jobs and often homes and had no hope of
getting new ones. Many members of the
tour would be arriving back to houses in
the sin luz (without light) zones. They
had just needed a break, and were
among the lucky ones who had the
means to do so.
When I envisioned myself as a normal
traveler, who just wanted a relaxing vacation, and who had a choice of spending
my money anywhere, though, I could
understand why not many are jumping
at the chance to visit Puerto Rico, in this
state, right now. The tourism department has put together a “Ready to Enchant You” campaign filled with poststorm footage and featuring Luis Fonsi
touting how picturesque the beaches
are, and how many hotels are open.
Those claims are true, but they’re a bit
like shoving a mess into a closet before
guests come over. Nothing about Puerto
Rico after the storm approached normalcy. The beauty I saw was in the rebuilding, in the lives being lived with joy
and grace in the most trying of circumstances. Being there was one of the most
calming and soul-filling experiences of
this trip so far.
the airport is in
fine working order. My assumption that
Left, Esquina Watusi, a small informal bar in San Juan. Above, “Santurce Renace” (The
Rebirth of Santurce), a sculpture by the artist Mark Rivera.
lodging would be ample, though, couldn’t have been more off base. When I
tried to book a few days before my trip,
every hotel room in the “up-and-running zone” of Old San Juan and the
nearby beach area of Condado was sold
out — a combination of, I’d later be told
by locals, many hotels operating at a
fraction of their capacity (either because of damage or the limits of their
generators), and being filled with relief
I don’t know how it happened, but the
Airbnb apartment I did find, for under
$80 a night, was in an ideal location: in
Old San Juan, right across the street
from La Factoría, the bar and nightclub
made famous when Luis Fonsi and
Daddy Yankee filmed their video for
“Despacito” there — the most-watched
YouTube video of all time with almost 5
billion views. The outside is a nondescript brown wall without any signage. Inside, the place just keeps going
and going, with a large bar leading to a
tiny cocktail lounge, which leads to a
salsa room, which leads to a nightclub
filled with colored lights and couples
dancing as closely as couples can dance.
The kitchen was closed, so I sidled up
to the bar in the 10-seat cocktail lounge
for an expertly made margarita from a
bartender, Christian Ortega, who still
stands out to me as the sexiest man I’ve
met this trip. A smattering of tourists
was there, but most customers seemed
to be Puerto Ricans from the sin luz
zones looking to blow off steam. My conversation companion for much of the
night was a young waiter and aspiring
comedian, Victor Emmanuelli, whose
opening salvo was about his bar stool:
“It’s wobbly, like life.” He had no end of
devastating stories to tell, in between
recreating his favorite stand-up routines from Dave Chappelle.
“I lost my house, I lost everything,” he
said. “I didn’t know where my family
was, my grandma, my aunt, my cousins,
nobody. You want to cry because you
didn’t know where your family was and
there was not a signal to call them and
there was no gas. You had to walk to
where you think your family is. I didn’t
find them till three months later.”
to cobblestone streets dappled with sunlight, and Spanish colonial buildings
painted in every color: pink next to yel-
low next to green next to orange. It was
every bit as charming and beautiful as a
city established in 1521 should be. I had
electricity and running water that I
drank from the tap (likely unwise; most
of the island is under a boil water advisory, and the Puerto Ricans I met only
drank bottled water). My street was not
one for quiet contemplation — music
from bars and restaurants started blasting at noon and didn’t stop till 4 a.m. —
but I found the liveliness comforting.
I loved how during the day I could
walk for blocks and barely see another
person. When I told Rebeca Rivera
Vázquez, a 27-year-old high-school science teacher, and Ms. de Lataillade’s
stepdaughter, she was horrified. Winter
is supposed to be San Juan’s high tourist
season, when its seasonal businesses
make all their money. “That’s no good!”
she said. “You shouldn’t be able to walk
in the streets. Old San Juan should feel
like the middle of Fifth Avenue right
All the more reason to book a ticket, I
thought: The crowds may never again
be this thin, with weather this perfect.
before the hurricane, but my guess is that those looking
for the city they knew before the storm
will not find it. For every cleaned street
in the old city there are 10 just outside it
with lampposts snapped in two, and fallen trees barely pushed off the sidewalks. It says much about the intense
beauty of this island that the devastation barely detracts from vistas and
skies that seem designed to produce audible gasps at every turn.
In the colorful hipster arts district of
Santurce, where one can find street art
on every wall, in every direction, I saw a
bus stop that was completely caved in
and an open-air flea market that, a vendor told me, had brick walls until last
September. Over in ritzy Condado, just
down the beach from the tourist hotels, a
concrete boardwalk simply disappeared
into the ground, as if struck by a meteor,
and, nearby, a car sat dusty and unused
under thick steel fencing that appeared
to have crumbled like paper.
A quiet night drinking with friends
was no longer something locals took for
granted. I went to a lovely boozy happy
hour in the apartment of an engaged
doctor and nurse, Luís Ortiz and Sheyla
Garced, whose Condado high-rise is featured in a famous photo of people sitting
in their living rooms without walls.
I’d shown up in Puerto Rico not knowing a soul, and through a chain of events
stemming from a random encounter
with singing women at the airport, was
being welcomed inside the home of
strangers. Incredible hosts, they took
me out on their normal Saturday night:
Drinking at a gas station (way more fun
and popular than it sounds), then heading to Gemileo, a wine bar inside an incense shop. For 10 days after the hurricane, the Puerto Rican government had
imposed not only a curfew, but also dry
laws. “It was horrible, because the water wasn’t safe to drink, so it was like,
what will we drink then?” said Ms.
Garced. “We were in our homes, we had
no electricity. No one was driving. It was
like, ‘Come on, just let us have a beer!’”
he’d also had to stop making cheeses
and anything that couldn’t be served immediately. “I don’t have refrigeration,”
he said in Spanish, “so we have to do everything the day of because there’s no
way to keep it.”
Somehow, we wound up with an invitation to La Fiesta de la Amistad (Party
of Friendship) on La Finca de Carlos
Cuevas, a large farm about an hour outside the city in the region of Cidra. All
along the highway were billboards
ripped to shreds and giant metal signs
felled and crumpled in the medians. As
we headed into rural areas, our cellphone GPS began to fail. Not a single
traffic light we passed was working.
Drivers were operating on a courtesy
system with no real order. It had been
this way since the storm, Ms. Marichal
In the countryside, while extremely
lost, we met a retired teacher, Maria
Berrios, cleaning up the side of the road.
“I clean because if I didn’t clean, no one
would,” she said. “It was four months of
trees and dead animals rotting by the
side of the road and it smelled so bad I
couldn’t stand it anymore.” Her tiny
community had just gotten light, and
she was pretty sure they were the only
ones in the area who had it. They’d
pooled their money and hired their own
electricians to come in and fix the damage. “If we waited for the government,
we’d never have light,” she said.
with Adnelly
Marichal, a Nuyorican documentary
filmmaker, to an organic farmers market in Placita Roosevelt in the Hato Rey
neighborhood of San Juan. All of the
vendors we met came from the interior
of the island, and not one of them had
luz. One farmer, Rafael de Leon, told us it
had taken him five months to recover
enough to get back to the market, but
President and Eloise W. Martin
Art Institute of Chicago
Founding Partner
Avid Partners, LLC
C.E.O. and Wallis Annenberg
Los Angeles County Museum
of Art
Executive Vice President and
Chairman, Fine Arts Division
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac
Lévy Gorvy
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.
Menefee D. and Mary Louise
Blackwell, Director and C.E.O.
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Chickens and roosters on tiered hills in the Puerto Rican countryside.
The finca, when we finally found it,
too, had light. The entire valley had
shown up — 400 people at least — as had
musicians from all parts of the island.
The house bandleader and cuatrista
(player of a small Puerto Rican guitar),
Christian Nieves, had just come back
from performing “Despacito” at the
Grammys. Guests lined up for lechón, or
roast suckling pig on a spit, while chickens and roosters ran around on the
tiered hills below. “We’re here for a festival of friendship,” said José Antonio Rivera Colón, a famous cuatrista known as
Tony Mapeyé. “We all came here because it’s important, because friendship
feeds our souls.”
As the sun set, we headed back, down
twisty roads, through intersections
without traffic signals, and back into the
world of luz. The Dr. Seuss palm trees
were lit up in orange. Someday, those
trees would be complete trees again. I
felt lucky that I’d gotten to see them as
they were.
For more information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact
Carina Pierre at
TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018 | S1
A royal shoe,
the king’s robe
Historic Eleri Lynn, curator of the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection, with a late 18th-century silk court suit kept at Hampton Court Palace. At right, a detail of the fabric believed to have been part of Queen Elizabeth I’s wardrobe, top, and a suit once owned by the Duke of Windsor.
A clothing collection illuminates Britain’s palace life
It was an unusually cold March day
here, which is just how royals from
Henry VIII to Princess Diana would
want it to preserve their wardrobes.
After all, some of their belongings are
among the approximately 10,000 pieces
of the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection, restored and archived in the
equally chilly interiors of Hampton
Court Palace in this London suburb.
“We have things that relate to our palaces,” said Adam Budhram, media and
public relations manager of Historic
Royal Palaces, an independent charity
that manages Hampton Court and five
other historic sites. “It starts with a
monarch and goes down strata by
strata, to the servants, to livery dress.
It’s a lovely thread and a nice way to tell
the stories.”
The collection ranges from decorative
hatpins to King George IV’s 1821 velvet,
ermine and gold coronation robe, so
heavy it requires six people to move.
And, with another royal wedding
coming up in May, it also holds a foot-
The queen had written “yes” or
“yes, but with longer sleeves.”
note of interest: a sample shoe that
Raine London produced for Princess
Elizabeth’s consideration as the future
monarch planned her wedding attire in
At Hampton Court, Eleri Lynn, the
collection’s curator, donned a coat before leading a visitor from her heated office down stony hallways, through
peaked Tudor archways and past diamond-paned casement windows to one
of 12 rooms devoted to archiving or conserving the collection.
The first small room was filled with
file cabinets, both vertical and horizontal, with racks mounted on the cabinet
tops. Clothes that can be hung are zippered into bags made of Tyvek, a durable, synthetic paper-like material that is
difficult to tear (“It’s waterproof, acidfree and dust-repellent,” Ms. Lynn said).
Items that are too fragile to be hung are
wrapped in acid-free tissue paper and
placed in the horizontal cabinets or in
large boxes.
The vertical files hold prints,
sketches, photographs and documents
like letters and diaries related to royal
garments. One drawer is filled with
sketches by the designer Ian Thomas of
possible outfits for Queen Elizabeth, including a green wool suit she eventually
wore to horse races. On some of the
sketches the queen had written “yes” or
“yes, but with longer sleeves.”
(While the collection does have the
drawings, the queen’s shoe sample and
some garments she has worn, most of
her wardrobe is part of the Royal Collection, a vast holding of art, decorative
pieces and clothing held by the queen as
Ms. Lynn climbed a ladder to reach a
clothing rack and chose one of the Tyvek
bags. Inside was a dapper mustard and
brown houndstooth-checked doublebreasted suit once owned by the Duke of
Windsor to wear in the country.
“Whenever a new item comes in, I always check the pockets,” she said — and
in this suit jacket she had found a dried
autumn leaf.
One could almost imagine the duke
strolling the grounds of his chateau outside Paris and pocketing a leaf as a memento of a brilliant fall day. “The time in
which something was worn is deeply
personal,” Ms. Lynn said. “It can tell you
about the person and about their strata
of society.”
Clothing, she added, often has not
been cleaned when it arrives for archiving, so it may still carry the scent of perfume or wine stains from a night of revelry.
Ms. Lynn was opening drawers and
boxes and unfolding layers of tissue paper to reveal, say, an 18th-century courtier’s costume in ribbed silk, its jacket
bordered with gaily embroidered flowers and lace cuffs. But she did not first
slip her hands into white cotton gloves,
as most people working in costume archives do to prevent the natural oils of
their skin from harming the fabrics.
“With certain fabrics it’s better not to
wear gloves,” Ms. Lynn said. “If the fabric is fine or fragile, such as lace, you
need to be able to be more tactile. That’s
why I keep my nails short and without
varnish. But for metals or metallic
yarns” — which can tarnish — ”I wear
In the archives, everything is white:
the floor tiles, the cabinet drawers, the
boxes and the tissue. “That makes it
easier to see if there is any frass,” Ms.
Lynn said, the term for the tiny bits of
fiber left by voracious bugs. She added
that the constant battle against bugs exROYAL, PAGE S3
Archi Dior collection
White gold, pink gold and diamonds.
S2 | TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018
An impresario of design
Thomas Eyck chooses a material, commissions a designer
and sells the result, from watering cans to wallpaper
Thomas Eyck’s private showroom is in a
restored 18th-century barn next to a potato field on the outskirts of this Friesian
village. Although the setting is calm, the
design producer is often on the go, popping out of his seat and grabbing objects
to illuminate his points to a visitor.
“Here are some of the sketches Aldo
made for our copper series in 2010,” Mr.
Eyck, 53, said, enthusiastically fanning
through a batch of drawings by the
Dutch designer Aldo Bakker that he had
taken from a drawer. “Look at these
forms. So fresh.”
Next, he returned with the 2012 book
“Color Based on Nature,” by Irma Boom,
part of a project that also included seven
wallpaper designs. “See, each one is
based on colors from a Unesco site,” he
said, as he slid a finger along a perforated page to reveal a pattern.
Minutes later, Mr. Eyck (pronounced
IKE) displayed a light bulb hanging
from some corded flax. It had been designed by Christien Meindertsma as
part of the Flax Project in 2009.
“See this knot?” he said, framing the
bump with his hands. “The rope maker,
Albert, had a different knot, but
Christien didn’t like it. So she took the
rope home over the weekend and called
me on Sunday and said, ‘Thomas, I
found a way to make the knot.’ Monday,
we went back to Albert, who changed
the knot he’d been making for decades.
All of that, the materials, the people, the
story — that makes a really nice project
for me.”
In 2007, Mr. Eyck founded a contemporary design label called t.e., using his
own initials.
Now, he approaches one or two designers each year to create a product
line based on a material (for instance:
glass, leather, pewter, wool) or a concept
that he usually has chosen.
He pays a flat design fee and royalties
for the items he commissions, some of
which he sells in limited editions, while
others are in continual production. He
also sells work that he did not inspire but
that he finds inspiring, using his website
and the shops and galleries in several
countries that carry the t.e. creations.
The designer Guus Kusters, who, with
Maarten Kolk, has collaborated frequently with Mr. Eyck in recent years,
said the idiosyncratic collection defied
definition: “It’s so personal to Thomas
that it becomes its own style, and that’s
the thing we like about it.”
Mr. Eyck matches projects to designers based on what he calls their “handwriting,” how they approach their craft,
their attention to material and meaning,
and their production techniques, all of
which often require deep research by
the artisans.
“All my projects are kind of personal,
like working with friends,” Mr. Eyck
said. “We don’t have to be friends, but I
must be glad when I see them. That’s really, really, really important.”
In return, many designers credit him
with bolstering or even beginning their
careers, and work bearing the t.e. label
now is in the collections of several museums, including the Cooper Hewitt,
Smithsonian Design Museum in New
York and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
The Flax Project was the first commission that Ms. Meindertsma ever received; now she is generally considered
one of the best-known designers in the
Netherlands. They have since worked
together several times.
“A person like Thomas is really rare in
our field,” she said. “He’s super trustworthy, genuinely interested in design
and in the making of it, plus he’s interested in making it work financially. That
is an unusual combination.”
Mr. Eyck’s respect for craftsmanship
comes from the seven years he spent as
art director at Koninklijke Tichelaar
Makkum, a Dutch heritage ceramics
“I watched everything being done —
from earth to clay to vase, and I really
came to understand the craft part, the
time and effort put into objects and why
high-quality craft costs so much money
to make,” he said.
Mr. Eyck studied architecture and art
history in college and had a childhood
rooted in art. His parents, Jo and Marlies Eyck, collected contemporary art
and now operate a small gallery called
Hedge House in Wijlre, a village in the
southern Netherlands. His sister runs
Andriesse Eyck Galerie, a contemporary art gallery in Amsterdam.
When Mr. Eyck talked with Mr. Bakker about the 2010 copper commission,
they discovered their families were connected: Mr. Eyck’s parents had been patrons of Mr. Bakker’s, the designers Gijs
Bakker and Emmy van Leersum. (Gijs
Bakker was a founder of the famed
Droog Design collective.)
“With Thomas, it starts with the creation, not the market,” Aldo Bakker said.
“Thomas had the idea for me to do
something with copper. He follows his
gut feeling about what he thinks has
quality, and he’s convinced there will be
a market for it. Because he is really interested and involved and motivated, he
has a talent with putting people at ease,
which is very freeing.”
The result was a sensuous series of
everyday objects that included a watering can and mixing bowl, with emphasis
on shape and form, and it established
Mr. Bakker’s name internationally.
Mr. Eyck has tapped Mr. Bakker for a
2019 commission, details of which he
does not want to disclose yet.
“It’s a strange material, not an Aldo
material,” he said. “I want to check with
the company using it to see if they’re
willing to work with us.” He is also commissioning designers to work with a
type of biodegradable polystyrene and
another project using the concept of
Whatever the material or approach,
the results are likely to be forwardthinking.
“Thomas is seen as very innovative
with his approach to craft,” said Fredric
Baas, a curator at the design-focused
Stedelijk Museum ’s-Hertogenbosch.
“He seems to know where to look and
who to contact, and he has a sense for
the zeitgeist.”
Buyers are often interior designers,
architects and collectors, many of whom
Mr. Eyck meets at design shows like
Maison et Objet in Paris and Salone del
Mobile in Milan, although he is skipping
Milan this year.
Instead, Mr. Eyck plans to stage
“Based on Nature,” an exhibition from
May 26 through June 16 at his showroom, to feature themed work by designers on his roster.
Mr. Eyck said that since moving with
his wife, Reina Weening, from the heart
of Amsterdam to the countryside in
2008, the natural world has loomed
large as an influence.
Their home, in a restored farmhouse
adjacent to the barn and partly decorated with objects from Mr. Eyck’s label,
is surrounded by fields, and he often
takes a short drive to walk the couple’s
Weimaraner, Lulu, along the Wadden
“What has the most impact for me is
when nature and design come together,”
he said.
That includes Made by Rain, by Aliki
van der Kruijs, a line of textiles and ceramics with patterns made by rainfall,
which Mr. Eyck recently started to sell.
As he described their collaboration,
he jumped up to fetch one of her deep
blue scarves, then draped the fluttering
fabric over his arm.
“It almost looks like leopard skin, the
way you see the drops and all the different variations,” Mr. Eyck said. “Sometimes, like with this, I see things and I
think, ‘My God, this is so good. I have to
call the designer to see if we can work
Scents ‘like home’
Bombay Perfumery includes chai and black pepper
Growing up in Mumbai, Manan Gandhi
was entranced by the smells of the geranium, patchouli and rose oil extracts
that his father brought home from business trips to Egypt, Indonesia and Turkey.
“I was like, ‘Why do we have all this
stuff at home,’” he recalled, “‘and why is
it in the safe?’”
He said his early impressions of the
essential oils trade, where today some
rare ingredients sell for as much as
$20,000 per liter, made him eager to follow in his father’s footsteps. And eventually he did, founding an essential-oil
trading company in France in 2012 after
earning an undergraduate business degree in the United States and a master’s
in France.
But after about two years of crossing
the globe as a trader supplying oils to
major European fragrance houses, Mr.
Gandhi, now 32, felt an urge to return to
Manan Gandhi, far
right, founder of
Bombay Perfumery,
at the Dadar flower
market in Mumbai.
His scents are sold
online and at 15
stores across India,
including Le Mill,
right, in Mumbai.
his hometown — which is still widely
known by its former name, Bombay —
and start a high-end perfume company.
The result was Bombay Perfumery, a
label that Mr. Gandhi introduced in late
2016 and whose name plays on one of his
father’s old ventures, Bombay Perfumery Products.
Bombay Perfumery’s eau de parfum
fragrances are manufactured in the
French city of Grasse, the perfume capital of the world, but sold through the
business’s website and at 15 high-end
concept stores and multibrand boutiques across India.
He declined to provide sales figures,
but said Bombay Perfumery was adding
nearly one new boutique a month and
making 40 percent of its sales online,
mostly to clients in India.
Bombay Perfumery “took this very
strong tradition of scents in India, and
they packaged it in a European way,”
said Cecilia Morelli Parikh, one of the
founders of Le Mill, a Mumbai fashion
boutique that sells the label’s eight fragrances alongside clothing by high-end
foreign and Indian designers. “But it’s
not a European product; it’s strongly
Mr. Gandhi’s business is one of several independent perfume brands that
have sprung up recently in India, a
country with a strong domestic perfuming tradition but a luxury fragrance sector dominated almost exclusively by imports.
Bombay Perfumery’s fragrances,
which sell online for $80 to $90 for 100
milliliters, do not exclusively feature Indian ingredients.
The fragrance Sulawesi is named for
the Indonesian island where Mr. Gandhi
buys patchouli, for example, while
Moiré highlights a synthetic ingredient
engineered in a laboratory to resemble
the smell of leather.
Yet the fragrance line is full of subtle
allusions to Indian scents, places and
Mr. Gandhi said the aim of his branding and marketing was to conjure nostalgia for bygone eras and local fra-
grance traditions. Calicut, for example,
highlights black pepper and uses the
former name of the southern Indian city
of Kozhikode, while Madurai Talkies
pays homage to jasmine from around
the southern city of Madurai.
(And “talkies” was slang for “talking
pictures,” the term used in the 1920s for
the first movies with sound. “It’s a very
romantic fragrance,” Mr. Gandhi said,
“and Indian movies, at least in the past,
were all about romance.”)
The nostalgic theme is enhanced by
the collages printed inside the perfume
boxes, juxtaposing images of the ingredients with those of old Mumbai buildings. And the glass perfume bottles are
made in the shape of a matka, a jug commonly used in Indian villages to store
Yet, Mr. Gandhi said, he tried to avoid
the “kitschy, traditional stereotype of
what Western people have about India,”
in part by using a minimalist design on
the outside of the boxes — a look that
matches the aesthetic of his sleek office
in central Mumbai.
He also commissioned a modern twist
on chai, a milky sweet tea ubiquitous in
India. Mr. Gandhi said his Chai Musk
fragrance includes two actual chai in-
gredients — ginger and lemongrass —
along with sandalwood to suggest what
he called a “milky note” and osmanthus
for a “fruity pop.”
The fragrance “reminds me of home a
little bit, which I find quite nice,” said
Lekha Washington, an artist from
southern India who lives in Mumbai and
has collaborated with the brand. She
added that she appreciated how Bombay Perfumery played on a range of
emotions beyond the one that perfume
brands typically target: lust.
Mr. Gandhi said the eight fragrances
were created, after much trial and error,
by two French perfumers in Grasse and
two in Paris. He gave them general guidance on which ingredients to highlight,
he said, but more creative license than
they normally receive from major perfume brands and fragrance houses.
He said the overall idea was to make
the final creations “polarizing enough
for people to remember,” and that Chai
Musk, what he called the line’s most “out
there” fragrance, was suggested by a
Paris perfumer who had traveled widely
in India and wanted to celebrate a citrusy chai she once tasted in Mumbai.
“Maybe a lot of brands would have
been like, ‘No, we don’t want anything to
do with that,’” Mr. Gandhi said over chai
in his office. “But I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s
go ahead — why don’t we explore that
direction?’ So it was really fun for them
because they had a chance to really go
Maurice Roucel, a master perfumer in
France who has created fragrances for
major luxury brands (but not Bombay
Perfumery), said he was impressed by
the quality of the label’s fragrances and
that they certainly could appeal to consumers in Europe, the United States and
South America. “Perhaps not France,”
he added, “because in France we are
very picky.”
Although Mr. Gandhi plans eventually to introduce his perfumes in Europe
and the United States, for now his primary market is young, fashion-forward
Indians who, he said, are embracing
other homegrown independent labels in
clothing, food, music and design.
“When we were younger there was
this notion that all things luxury were
better only if they were European, but
now it’s not the case,” he said, referring
to his own generation of Indian consumers. “Most young people now give
homegrown brands a chance — as long
as they ensure the quality is there.”
Clockwise from top
left: Thomas Eyck
with Lulu, a step
ladder by Christien
Meindertsma and a
jar by Studio Job;
Made by Rain
plates; porcelain
pebbles by Studio
Brynjar & Veronika;
Irma Boom wallpaper and a lamp by
Ms. Meindertsma;
and a vase by
Studio Wieki
Somers in the t.e.
TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018 | S3
A designer’s legacy
Alexander McQueen’s estate supports study and studios
Goldsmithing hammers, tubes of oil
paint, dress forms and photographic
equipment, and even stuffed shrimp by
the contemporary taxidermist Harriet
Horton, were among the items scattered
around the ground-floor studios and
corridors of the Sarabande Foundation
during a recent visit.
Upstairs, in a gallery space that doubles as an auditorium for educational
talks (including one that night by the
fashion designer Thom Browne), fabrics dyed by John Alexander Skelton
had been hung across the ceiling rafters
to dry. Mr. Skelton was preparing for a
March 23 show at the Victoria and Albert Museum, part of its Fashion in Motion series.
Since 2015, when the foundation’s
headquarters opened in the East End
neighborhood of Haggerston, the former Victorian-era stables have housed
12 artist’s studios that thrum with activity day and night. The occupants run the
gamut of creativity from painters and
multimedia artists to photographers,
jewelers and fashion designers.
Sarabande is a charitable trust established in 2007 by the fashion designer
Lee Alexander McQueen, who used the
title of his spring collection for its name.
It became the major beneficiary of his
estate after his death in 2010 and, by the
end of 2016, had received 10.6 million
pounds ($15 million). The money funds
graduate and postgraduate scholarships and subsidizes the studio space,
for which scholarship recipients can become priority candidates to use for free
for a year and then for a further year to
rent at a low rate of about £1 per square
foot. Other studio occupants pay the
same rate throughout their tenancy.
“Sarabande is unique as a hub of creativity and an incubator of young talent,” Andrew Bolton, curator in charge
of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a patron of
the foundation, said in an email. “In only
a few years, it has established itself as
one of the most important and exciting
community of artists in Britain.”
Residents say the studios are affordable sanctuaries, allowing them to develop their creative practices while benefiting from the organization’s business
education programs, networking oppor-
tunities and mentoring support. “It
brings some much-needed freedom to
what I can do,” said Katie Roberts Wood,
a women’s wear designer who has been
using a studio since October. “I have to
run a business but I also have to be able
to function fully from a creative side, or
it doesn’t work. I feel like Sarabande
pays equal attention to both these aspects, which is so rare.”
That dual emphasis is thanks to Trino
Verkade, a founding trustee and driving
force behind Sarabande’s development.
In 1994, she became Mr. McQueen’s first
employee and stayed for 18 years, providing the business acumen to support
his creative talent. She also brought to
the foundation years of experience as an
executive vice president at Thom
Browne and, most recently, chief executive at Mary Katrantzou.
During a recent interview at the foundation, Ms. Verkade said that providing
financial support and expert advice to
artists was important for their development but also for Britain’s, referring to
government research that found that
creative industries add almost £9.6 million per hour to the national economy.
And, despite a decade of austerity, cuts
in education funding and the uncertainty over Britain’s departure from the
European Union, the research also
showed that the art, fashion and film industries have grown at almost twice the
rate of the overall economy, and that
they are worth £84 billion a year.
Ms. Verkade said Sarabande’s goal
was to plug the gaps left by reduced government support, rising college fees and
a dearth of practical business advice for
fledgling operations. “Britain has done a
good job exporting talent,” she said, but
“there’s all this untapped potential here.
That’s a real business opportunity.”
She and her team help successful studio applicants focus on what they want
to achieve during their residence, which
begins with one year but may be extended to two.
Mr. Skelton, a men’s wear designer
who uses hand-dyed vintage fabrics and
hand-spun, hand-woven material from
Indian farmers in the Himalayas for his
bespoke collections, said starting a business was overwhelming, prompting
countless questions including how to
create a costing sheet, to handle exports
and to protect intellectual property.
“The business support from Trino has
been really invaluable,” he said.
Advice for both scholars and studio
occupants also comes through regular
talks (also open to the public) from the
likes of the jewelry designer Solange
Azagury-Partridge and the artist Mat
Collishaw as well as guidance on finding
gallery representation or raising money
on Kickstarter. “There’s nowhere else
young artists are going to get this stuff,”
Ms. Verkade said.
Given his labor-intensive materials
and processes, Mr. Skelton needs to limit the numbers of stores that carry his
collection. The likelihood of commercial
success on a large scale is not part of
Sarabande’s selection criteria, however.
“Not everyone needs to be Craig Green,”
Ms. Verkade said, referring to the men’s
wear designer who left Sarabande in
November having become a star of London Fashion Week. “The artists should
have their vision and stick to it.”
Residents also benefit from the mentoring and contacts provided by the
foundation’s patrons, many of whom
were friends and colleagues of Mr. McQueen’s. In addition to Mr. Bolton, they
include the film director Sam TaylorJohnson; the jeweler Shaun Leane; the
photographer Nick Knight; the fashion
designer Giles Deacon, and Matthew
Slotover, the co-founder of the Frieze art
The patrons also help review scholarship and studio applications but, to ensure a diverse range of talent, other
sources also are considered. Saelia
Aparicio Torinos, an artist who now
works in a Sarabande studio, made the
connection through a partnership between Sarabande and Bloomberg New
Contemporaries, an annual arts exhibition where she showed in 2016.
With a constant flow of visitors coming to events or scheduled tours like a
recent one by patrons of the Royal Academy of Arts, the studios are rarely quiet.
The gallery owner Sadie Coles came by
to order a custom ring from Castro
Smith, the current jeweler in residence,
and the actress Gwendoline Christie
(“Game of Thrones,” “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi”) to buy one of
Ms. Horton’s stuffed shrimp for her
boyfriend, Mr. Deacon — the kind of traffic that Ms. Verkade said had the foundation looking for more studio space.
Along with Mr. McQueen’s estate, Sarabande relies on personal donations and
company sponsorships. Jasmin Reif is
one of two resident artists who received
a commission from Ketel One Vodka, the
brand owned by the Dutch liquor company Nolet. It asked her to create an artwork inspired by its more than 300year-old distillery in Schiedam, the
Netherlands. So she is working on a
mask made of copper, the traditional
material used to make their stills, which
she will photograph in one of her old
masters-inspired self-portraits.
It is the kind of thing Mr. McQueen
might have done. Trained as a tailor on
Savile Row and with a place at the University of London’s Slade School of Fine
Art at the time of his death, “Lee worked
across different creative disciplines,”
Ms. Verkade said. “He worked with jewelers, milliners, even glass blowers.”
The sense of community among the
residents, she added, also has led to interdisciplinary collaborations.
Ms. Reif, who now knits pieces for Mr.
Skelton, considers herself an artist and
a designer. “In both industries, you normally have to choose to be on one side or
the other,” she said. “This is the first
place where I no longer had to do that.”
At work
Jasmin Reif in her
studio at the Sarabande Foundation
in London. She
makes all the props
used in her selfportrait photographs.
A royal shoe, a robe
In silk
The oldest item in
the collection, the
Bristowe hat, said
to have been owned
by Henry VIII.
plains why the rooms are as cold as nature and the palace’s builders allow:
“Bugs and pests don’t like the cold.”
That also is why new items, which arrive about once a month, are wrapped in
plastic as airtight as possible and placed
in a freezer. “If they can’t be frozen,” Ms.
Lynn said, “and many can’t because
they have details that would crack in the
cold, they are brought to the Isolation
Room to be checked by eye thoroughly
over a period of weeks, until we are satisfied that there are no pests.”
Determining which items to add to
the collection is a group decision: Ms.
Lynn writes a proposal that is circulated
to colleagues within the Palaces organization.
It doesn’t break out acquisition costs
by division but, in the last fiscal year, it
spent 148,000 pounds ($210,180) for additions to all its heritage collections.
Also, Ms. Lynn said, many items are
donated or lent long term, and auctions
are another good source: Some items in
the “Diana: Her Fashion Story” exhibition running through the end of the year
at Kensington Palace in London were
acquired at the 1997 auction that the
princess held to raise money for AIDS
When Ms. Lynn is considering
whether to acquire a piece for the collection, being able to prove the provenance is a significant element. For Diana’s clothes, it was easy: There are
many photographs of the princess or,
Ms. Lynn said, “I could pick up the
phone to the designers who made them.”
But authenticating historic items can
come down to a painting, or specialists
testing fabrics and dyes to date a piece.
One such impossible-to-pin-down item:
the Bristowe Hat, the oldest piece in the
Bristowe family stories say the flamboyant hat in tufted burgundy silk with a
silver button and green ostrich-feather
plume originally belonged to Henry
VIII. It was the first piece that Ms. Lynn
acquired when she took the curator’s job
in 2013 — but no one can prove whether
it was Henry’s or not.
Upstairs in the conservation studio,
Elizabeth Thompson, the collection’s
textile conservation supervisor, oversees the work of two dozen or so conservators.
On this particular day they were leaning over works to be restored, like the
1685 Mortlake tapestry, depicting a battle at sea, and an 18th-century rose silk
damask bed canopy that belonged to
Queen Caroline, King George II’s wife.
The group uses a number of techniques, like the “laid couching” treatment to repair tears. A small piece of
fabric dyed to match the original is
placed behind the tear for support and
then dyed threads are used to stitch everything in place.
One conservator was using small cosmetic sponges, the kind found in any
drugstore, to ever-so-gently remove the
tarnish on the silver-thread embroidery
Paintings can be used to
authenticate historic items.
decorating a short, flared flamingo-pink
silk evening jacket owned by Queen Victoria.
Such pieces are on display in “Victoria
Revealed,” an exhibition at Kensington
Palace, shown in the rooms where the
young Victoria grew up.
The palace, which is the home of the
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and
their family, as well as Prince Harry and
his fiancée Meghan Markle, is one of the
six where the public sections are managed by Historic Royal Palaces, and it
keeps a selection of about 300 pieces
from the dress collection there, in central London, for easy access by scholars
and researchers.
The real showpiece of the entire collection is the Bacton Altar Cloth, a piece
of fabric recovered from a Herefordshire church two years ago that is
widely believed to have been part of a
skirt worn by Queen Elizabeth I. If true,
it would be the only piece of her wardrobe known to have survived.
“Clothes were often repurposed and
refashioned,” Ms. Thompson said, adding that the cloth of silver, which measures about 5 feet wide and 7.5 feet long,
would have been worth “the cost of a
The fabric is embroidered in gold and
silk threads with botanical motifs: daffodils, foxgloves and, of course, the Tudor rose. It is being restored in the conservation studio.
So, the clothing that the great queen
might have worn in these very rooms,
has come home.
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S4 | TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2018
Decades in the making
Rudolf Heltzel mixes artistry with patience
Working space
The exterior of Mr.
Heltzel’s workroom
in Kilkenny.
Thirty sculptural pendants, drawn from
50 years of work by the Irish master
goldsmith Rudolf Heltzel, are on display
here in the gallery of the Design & Crafts
Council of Ireland.
But beyond making the individual
pieces, as the “In Precious Metals” exhibition catalog noted, Mr. Heltzel also
has played a significant role in shaping
the creative arts of Ireland.
“Rudolf’s legacy has been huge,” said
Karen Hennessy, the council’s chief executive. “He’s been a shining light in
goldsmithing and jewelry in Ireland. He
modernized what we now know as the
jewelry center of excellence in
Now 77, Mr. Heltzel concentrates on
design, sketching ideas by hand as he always has done. “Every piece is thought
out and mulled over in an intellectual
process,” he said. “Art is a communication with my clients.”
Since the arthritis in his fingers became troublesome about five years ago,
his son Christopher and Dave Wilson, a
former apprentice, have executed the
designs at the company’s Kilkenny
headquarters, using goldsmith tools
that date from the mid-1800s.
Mr. Heltzel supervises the work and
still makes changes to pieces himself
from time to time.
And his wife, Eva, models each one to
ensure that it is comfortable to wear and
does not snag clothing.
Each of Mr. Heltzel’s creations is
years in the making. Since the start of
his career, he has collected unusual
stones from the world’s best gem cut-
ters; many sit in his safe for a long time
before they are used. “It could be 20, 30
years before I have enough to make a
perfect piece,” he said, describing how
the materials inspire a design.
Pointing to a large piece of quartz
used in his Rock Crystal Treasure Cave
collection, he said, “It seems to contain
flowers floating at the bottom of the
sea.” The effect was created by metal deposits incorporated into the crystal over
the centuries, he added, marveling at
the stone cutter’s instinct to preserve
the pattern. “Instead of cutting the stone
into dozens of crystals, he persists ’til he
gets that one image by chance, by
chance, by chance,” Mr. Heltzel said.
Most of Mr. Heltzel’s designs, like
those in the Rock Crystal collection,
have been abstract.
But 10 years ago he designed and
made his first naturalistic pendant, the
initial piece in the Tourmaline Butterflies collection. It was inspired by a pair
of perfectly matched watermelon tourmalines, pink-and-green stones totaling
75.5 carats that, set in gold, became a
butterfly’s wings.
The stones are rare, and, Mr. Heltzel
said, the specialist who cut them has not
found their like again. “It would be impossible to reproduce this piece,” he
said, “because when the mine is finished, that’s the end of it.”
The butterfly pendants range in price
from 15,000 euros to 60,000 euros
($18,650 to $74,600), with stones like diamonds, rubies, sapphires and rainbow
moonstones in the larger, more expensive pieces.
His newest line, the Druze Collection,
is named for the tiny crystals atop a colorful mineral. The pendants feature
onyx, carnelian, chalcedony and agate
Nora Twomey from the Cartoon Saloon animation studio in Kilkenny wore
one of the Druze pendants — three triangular agate druzes set in gold — to the
2018 Golden Globes, where the film she
directed, “The Breadwinner,” was nominated for the best animated motion picture prize.
And at the Oscars, where it was nominated as best animated feature film, she
wore a vintage 18-karat gold pendant set
with cabochon-cut tourmalines that Mr.
Heltzel had bought 50 years ago.
Ms. Twomey said that, as an animator,
she felt a special connection with Mr.
Heltzel’s work. “For someone like me,
who has drawn all my life, I love to wear
something which so much time, effort,
skill and thought has gone into,” she
said. “These are pieces of art rather
than jewelry.”
As for wearing them on the red carpet, “in a strange way, wearing pieces
like this calm you down a little bit,” she
said. “They give you the confidence to
stand a little straighter, fill more air in
your lungs. It’s amazing.”
A resident of Kilkenny, Ms. Twomey
said she had been “watching the window of Rudolf’s shop over the years.” Mr.
Heltzel made her engagement and wedding rings and her favorite pair of earrings.
Most years, Mr. Heltzel will sell three
or four of the large sculptural pendants.
It is other jewelry, including small pendants, earrings, bracelets and engagement rings, that are the company’s
bread and butter.
Mr. Heltzel was born in Berlin, the son
of a sculptor, and entered the Meisterschule für das Kunsthandwerk, a decorative arts school, when he was 16. It
was 1956, and the city was still in ruins.
Because of his natural aptitude, the
school allowed him to simultaneously
study silver and goldsmithing, two very
different skills. “Silversmiths make holloware, sculpture; goldsmiths make
jewelry,” he said.
After graduation, Mr. Heltzel moved
to Munich for a two-year apprenticeship
making ecclesiastical items with Max
Olofs, a metal artisan, and then in 1963
he went to Stockholm to work as a jewelry maker with the Scandinavian de-
signer Sigurd Persson. “He was very
avant-garde and intellectual, not just a
‘craftsman’,” Mr. Heltzel recalled. “I discovered totally new ways of looking at
jewelry, using design as a way of expressing my own thinking.”
His return to Berlin in 1965 was “very
sobering,” he said. The Berlin Wall had
been built: “We were all hemmed in.”
In 1966, reacting to a report criticizing
Ireland’s low standards in crafts and design, the Irish Export Board established
the Kilkenny Design Workshops. The
center was to feature silver and metalwork, weaving, textile printing, ceramics and woodworking; the board recruited design experts from around Europe to help.
James King, then the center’s general
manager, said, “Rudolf was nominated
by a number of distinguished European
crafts critics at the time; he had impeccable credentials.”
Mr. Heltzel, still just 25, said he “leapt
at the chance.” He spent three years
teaching at the workshops, then opened
his own studio. “People said I was crazy
to stay in Ireland; there was no market
here,” he recalled.
In the beginning, Mr. Heltzel exported
most of his work, but, after 25 years in
Kilkenny, almost all of his customers
were Irish, something that still is true.
“It’s all by word of mouth,” Mr. Heltzel
said. “Some clients claim to have over 55
pieces.” And, he added, “We have grandmothers and granddaughters from the
same families buying our pieces.”
Mr. Heltzel said he believed that the
skill of jewelry making was disappearing: “Once people knew jewelry designers by name. Every city had a modern
jewelry gallery. That’s all gone.”
Most contemporary jewelry, he said,
is designed on a computer and massproduced. “And all for a profit,” he added.
Fifteen years ago, Christopher
Heltzel left film a career in film financing to run the family business. “I’m
happy I came back, but I wish I’d started
when I was 14,” he said. “The more
skilled you are, the more you can push
design and technical boundaries.”
The one modern twist to the 42-yearold’s workshop is the gold itself. He buys
it from a German company that uses
what is called urban mining, amassing
gold from recycled electrical goods like
cellphones and laptops.
“Otherwise, we use the same techniques that were used to make the
Ardagh Chalice 1,000 years ago,” he
said, referring to the best-known piece
from a hoard of metalwork from the
eighth and ninth centuries displayed at
the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.
“The process is rough, and you get
dirty,” he said, “but you end up with the
most delicate sparkling shining piece.”
Coincidentally, Christopher Heltzel’s
work — a series of rings — is also on display at the council’s gallery. That exhibition, Bounded + Unlimited, is a collaboration with Chinese jewelers and may be
moved to Beijing and Shanghai galleries
this year.
Irish made
Rudolf Heltzel,
above, in his studio
in Kilkenny, Ireland.
Top left, a 161.7carat blue topaz is
topped with 14
white brilliant-cut
diamonds, and
below that, a whitegold butterfly with
five sapphires.
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