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International New York Times - 11 April 2018

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The French
do plenty to
protect Jews
Europe faces
hard choices
as U.S. and
China spar
Pamela Druckerman
Contributing Writer
If a trade war breaks out,
neutrality may not be an
option for the Continent
PARIS Here’s some news you might
find surprising: By and large, the
French like Jews.
Yes, there have been despicable
anti-Semitic crimes here, and there are
enduring stereotypes. But 85 percent
of the French have a favorable view of
Jews, the same as the British do, according to the Pew Research Center.
Since 1990, France’s national human
rights commission has annually ranked Jews as the one of the country’s
most accepted minorities. In polls,
most French people say the state
should vigorously combat antiSemitism.
That’s little solace to the family of
Mireille Knoll, the 85-year-old Holocaust survivor who was stabbed to
death last month in her Paris apartment in an apparent
hate crime. A year
Let’s have
earlier, a 66-year-old
woman in the same
arrondissement was
This isn’t
beaten and thrown
World War II
off her third-floor
all over
balcony. There were
other anti-Semitic
murders in the years
before that.
But this isn’t Vichy. Tolerance toward Jews, measured
by the human rights commission, has
been increasing. And unlike in the
1940s, the French government is trying
to protect its citizens.
When Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu of Israel and some in the
foreign press ponder whether French
Jews should simply flee the country,
they’re asking the wrong question. Far
more relevant is this one: What is the
French government doing to combat
dangerous anti-Semitism in a small
part of the population?
And the answer is that it’s doing
quite a lot.
France has given new powers to
Dilcrah, an organization run by the
prime minister, Édouard Philippe, that
coordinates efforts to combat racism,
anti-Semitism and homophobia. Judges
can send people convicted of hate
crimes to a two-day “citizenship course”
at the national Holocaust memorial.
Police are training to respond better to
victims. A planned law would require
internet platforms to take down racist or
anti-Semitic material.
“Contrary to the image that you might
get abroad, there hasn’t been an explosion in anti-Semitic acts the last few
years in France,” said Johanna Barasz, a
Dilcrah spokeswoman. “But it remains
very serious and very worrying.”
The New York Times publishes opinion
from a wide range of perspectives in
hopes of promoting constructive debate
about consequential questions.
India is collecting biometric data on most of its 1.3 billion residents, to be used in a nationwide identity system called Aadhaar, meaning “foundation.”
India’s ‘big brother’ program
Government requires
residents to submit finger,
eye and facial scans
Seeking to build an identification system of unprecedented scope, India is
scanning the fingerprints, eyes and
faces of its 1.3 billion residents and using
the data in programs as varied as welfare benefits and mobile phones.
Civil libertarians are horrified, viewing the program, called Aadhaar, as Orwell’s Big Brother brought to life. To the
government, it’s more like “big brother,”
a term of endearment used by many Indians to address a stranger when asking
for help.
For other countries, the technology
could provide a model for how to track
their residents. And for India’s top court,
the ID system presents unique legal issues that will define what the constitutional right to privacy means in the digital age.
To Adita Jha, Aadhaar was simply a
hassle. The 30-year-old environmental
consultant in Delhi waited in line three
times to sit in front of a computer that
photographed her face, captured her fin-
Scanning fingerprints for the identification system. The government has made
registration mandatory for hundreds of public services and many private ones.
gerprints and snapped images of her
irises. Three times, the data failed to upload. The fourth attempt finally worked,
and she has now been added to the 1.1
billion Indians already included in the
Ms. Jha had little choice but to keep at
it. The government has made registration mandatory for hundreds of public
services and many private ones, from
taking school exams to opening bank accounts.
“You almost feel like life is going to
stop without an Aadhaar,” Ms. Jha said.
Technology has given governments
around the world new tools to monitor
their citizens. In China, the government
is rolling out ways to use facial recognition and big data to track people, aiming
to inject itself further into everyday life.
The shadow over Russian avant-garde art
Murky past of many pieces
makes distinguishing real
works from forgeries hard
Multiple art experts were brought in as
witnesses in a case, decided last month,
of two men accused of having trafficked
in hundreds of forged paintings, all said
to have been created by masters of the
Russian avant-garde.
One of them, Patricia Railing, who had
written a book on Kazimir Malevich,
said at a hearing here in Wiesbaden,
Germany, that many of the works
seemed genuine. Four paintings attributed to Malevich were “very good,” she
said in an interview later. “They could
hang in the Stedelijk,” the modern art
museum in Amsterdam, “and be very
Her former husband, Andrei Nakov,
Y(1J85IC*KKNPKP( +%!"!?!#!\
The “Russian Modernism” exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent, Belgium, this
year was closed after dealers and scholars called some works “highly questionable.”
the author of the Malevich catalogue
raisonné, or descriptive listing of works,
took a different view. He told the authorities that the seized works were unquestionably fakes.
“Awful imitations,” he labeled them in
an interview. “I said to the police, ‘Stop
showing me this rubbish.’”
This difference of opinion, replicated
among the rest of the experts, seemed to
irritate the judge tasked with sorting it
all out.
“Ask 10 different art historians the
same question and you get 10 different
answers,” said the judge, Ingeborg
Bäumer-Kurandt. “Behind the experts
there are diverse vested interests influencing how these paintings are evaluated.”
This kind of dispute can occur with art
from any period. But it has been surfacing with disturbing frequency in recent
months when it comes to work created
— or said to have been created — during
the Russian avant-garde, a period in the
early 20th century in which Malevich,
Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, NaART, PAGE 2
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Issue Number
No. 42,013
Many countries, including Britain, deploy closed-circuit cameras to monitor
their populations.
But India’s program is in a league of
its own, both in the mass collection of
biometric data and in the attempt to link
it to everything — traffic tickets, bank
accounts, pensions, even meals for undernourished schoolchildren.
“No one has approached that scale
and that ambition,” said Jacqueline
Bhabha, a professor and research director of Harvard’s FXB Center for Health
and Human Rights, who has studied biometric ID systems around the world. “It
has been hailed, and justifiably so, as an
extraordinary triumph to get everyone
Critics fear that the government will
gain unprecedented insight into the
lives of all Indians.
In response, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other champions of the
program say that Aadhaar is India’s
ticket to the future, a universal, easy-touse ID that will reduce this country’s endemic corruption and help bring even
the most illiterate into the digital age.
“It’s the equivalent of building interstate highways,” said Nandan Nilekani,
the technology billionaire who was
tapped by the government in 2009 to
build the Aadhaar system. “If the government invested in building a digital
public utility and that is made available
One is a good customer, a military ally
and an old friend, although lately its behavior has been erratic.
The other is also a good customer, and
despite a few spats and some lingering
mistrust, it’s getting to be a more lucrative and dependable business partner
all the time.
Which side would you choose?
That more or less sums up the dilemma confronting Europe as it watches the
escalating conflict between its two biggest trading partners, the United States
and China.
The United States is Europe’s biggest
market for exports like cars and other
goods, not to mention a NATO ally. But
China is big, too — and getting ever bigger.
The Trump administration has also
threatened the institutions that govern
global relationships, calling NATO obsolete and stoking trade tensions. So
China no longer automatically seems
like the less reliable partner.
European leaders were largely silent
after President Trump threatened to impose an additional $100 billion in tariffs
on Chinese goods. But watching from a
safe distance as China and the United
States argue is not an option for Europe.
Its economy is too deeply entwined with
“What can they do in terms of staying
out of the crossfire?” said Adam Slater,
the lead economist at Oxford Economics
in Britain. “Not a lot.”
Although Mr. Trump’s threats are
aimed at China, Europe is certain to suffer collateral damage if the president
follows through. A spiraling war of tariffs and counter-tariffs would interfere
with the global flow of raw materials and
components for manufactured goods,
disrupting the European economy. And
some European companies, like the
German carmaker BMW, manufacture
in the United States and export to China.
Such companies would see their sales
suffer if China were to slap tariffs on
American goods.
The mere threat of a trade war has already unsettled financial markets and
made it more difficult for companies to
raise money, Benoît Coeuré, a member
of the executive board of the European
Central Bank, said on Friday. “None of
this supports growth and employment,”
Mr. Coeuré said at a conference in Cernobbio, Italy.
President Xi Jinping on Tuesday urged
“dialogue rather than confrontation” in
the trade dispute with America. PAGE 9
2 | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2018
page two
Years later,
a death in
China is a
rallying cry
Shadow over Russian art
talia Goncharova and El Lissitzky did
some of their best work.
This year, the Museum of Fine Art in
Ghent, Belgium, closed an exhibition of
two-dozen works on loan after dealers
and scholars described some of the
pieces as “highly questionable.” The
museum’s director was suspended.
Late last year in Germany, the state
art collection of North Rhine-Westphalia said a painting dated 1915 that it
believed to be by Malevich had been unmasked as a forgery. Scientific tests
showed that the painting, “Black Rectangle, Red Square,” could not have
been produced before 1950.
And in the case that finished here in
Wiesbaden last month, Itzhak Zarug, a
73-year-old Israeli dealer, and his business partner, Moez Ben Hazaz, had been
suspected of being the leaders of an international ring of art forgers who specialized in the avant-garde.
But, while they were convicted of falsifying the provenance of artworks and
selling one work proven to be a forgery,
the court dropped all charges of forgery
and criminal conspiracy against them.
A big problem for dealers who specialize in this period, Mr. Zarug said in an
interview, is that the provenance of
much Russian avant-garde art is “a
black hole.”
Many works were hidden away after
the Russian Revolution, as censorship
built in the 1920s. Under Stalin’s draconian regime in the 1930s, artists either
had to comply with the demands of the
state propaganda machine for Social Realist art, or they had to work in secret or
emigrate. Noncompliant works — including much of the avant-garde —
ended up in museum basements.
The market for Russian avant-garde
art began to develop in the 1970s and
flowered with the collapse of the Soviet
Union in the early 1990s. Many legitimate works began to surface — often
without provenance documentation.
Forgers took note, and took advantage of the murky situation, in part because the stakes in this market have
grown so high.
With the emergence of a new generation of Russian collectors — some with
immense wealth — prices have spiraled.
A painting by Malevich, for example,
fetched $60 million at Sotheby’s in 2008.
The art of the avant-garde is “currently the hottest area of the Russian art
market,” Aleksandra Babenko, an associate specialist in Russian pictures at
Christie’s, wrote in an article published
in February on the auction house’s website. “But paintings are extremely rare
and only salable when they have fully
recorded provenance and early exhibition history.”
One company that has been employed
in the hunt to determine authenticity is a
lab operated by Elisabeth and Erhard
Jägers near Cologne, Germany. Mr.
Jägers said their work had found that
Russian avant-garde art was particularly prone to forgery. In the case of
Alexej von Jawlensky, for instance, Mr.
Jägers has tested 75 paintings attributed to the artist over the years, 50 of
which he found to be fakes.
In the Zarug case, the Jägers examined 19 paintings to determine whether
they included any pigments or materials that would not have been available to the artists of the Russian avantgarde. Sixteen passed that test, meaning their materials were consistent with
their having been made in the period.
“Using scientific methods, we can find
out if something is a forgery,” Mr. Jägers
Student’s suicide inspires
calls for a crackdown
on sexual harassment
One work attributed to Kazimir Malevich, “Black Rectangle, Red Square,” above, was
found to be a forgery, while another, “The Music Instrument,” left, was seized from the
Israeli art dealer Itzhak Zarug, below, on suspicion that it was fake.
said by phone. “We cannot confirm that
it is genuine. If the examination does not
contradict the attribution of the work to
a certain artist or period, the expertise
of an art historian is necessary.”
In Ghent, the contested paintings that
were exhibited came from the
Dieleghem Foundation, an organization
founded by Igor Toporovski and his
wife, Olga, that holds works donated
from their private collection in Brussels.
In an interview last December, when
the Ghent works were still on display,
Mr. Toporovski said that he had acquired most of the works in Russia in the
early 1990s.
“In Russia these artists practically
never sold before the Revolution,” he
said. “There were no galleries. This art
was a little bit out of the market. That’s
why the provenances are quite special.”
Mr. Zarug, in his interview, also spoke
of how challenging it was to find art from
the period with extensive exhibition or
ownership histories.
Initially a dealer who focused on Judaica, antique books and manuscripts,
Mr. Zarug began hunting for things to
buy in the Soviet Union after the fall of
the Berlin Wall, he said. “The U.S.S.R. in
1990 was like the Wild West,” he said.
Mr. Zarug said his diversification into
Russian avant-garde art happened by
chance. One of the dealers he had been
working with regularly in Moscow offered him a painting attributed to Lis-
sitzky for $3,000, he said, and back home
in Israel, he displayed the painting for
gallery owners in an exhibition in his office. The first person to arrive “didn’t
even look at the Judaica, he just looked
at the painting,” Mr. Zarug said. “I saw
his interest and understood it was something of value, so I thought I would ask a
very high price. I asked for $30,000. He
said O.K.”
Mr. Zarug said he immediately returned to Moscow, bought another three
paintings, and sold them to a dealer in
Israel for a vast profit.
As he began searching for art in
earnest across the collapsing Soviet Union, Mr. Zarug said, he discovered huge
stores of neglected paintings. On one occasion, he said, he found 100 pictures in
very bad condition covered with a dust
sheet in an attic in Moscow and bought
them for $1,000 each. On another, he
said, he was taken to a deserted building
in Azerbaijan where he was offered 206
paintings — including works he said
were by Malevich and Kandinsky. In Tajikistan, the staff members of a museum
sold him artworks directly from the
basement, he said.
Some of Mr. Zarug’s acquisitions were
more orthodox. He said he traced Chagall’s family in St. Petersburg and purchased some works on paper from Oxana Kornienko, the granddaughter of
Chagall’s sister Lea, as well as an oil selfportrait dating from 1917 that has been
authenticated by the Comité Chagall in
Paris and sold to a private collector. The
Comité said it could not comment on
whether Mr. Zarug had been the person
who had the painting authenticated.
Some works he sold out of a gallery he
had in Wiesbaden. The rest, he said, he
kept in the private collection that was
seized by the police. The authorities
confiscated some 1,800 works, most of
which are being returned to him.
Though he was convicted on the
lesser counts and sentenced to 32
months in jail, he had already been incarcerated for that length of time while
he awaited trial, so now he is free. Mr.
Hazaz, his partner, who was sentenced
to three years, has also served his time.
In Mr. Zarug’s view, the trial has
“lifted a damaging taint on the value and
prestige” of his collection. He said that
when he gets it back, he will sell some
“I would like to put on a few exhibitions,” he said. “And I want to rest a little.”
Scott Reyburn contributed reporting.
Health care champion for South African blacks
“We saw for ourselves
overflowing waiting rooms for
sick blacks and hospitals with
300 percent occupancy rates.”
In 1971, an American diplomat named
Herbert Kaiser was doing a tour of duty
in South Africa when he developed melanoma. It did not escape Mr. Kaiser’s notice that, being white, he received excellent medical attention from a white doctor, while the country’s nonwhite population was chronically underserved by
the health system, in part because few
medical professionals were people of
A decade later, after he had retired
from the State Department, Mr. Kaiser
and his wife, Joy, looked into the disparities.
“We learned that out of a black population of over 20 million in 1984, there
were only 350 black doctors, fewer than
20 dentists and less than 120 pharmacists” in South Africa, Mr. Kaiser recalled in a 2004 commencement address
at his alma mater, Swarthmore College
in Pennsylvania. “The figures for black
infant and child mortality and for maternal mortality were appalling. We saw
for ourselves overflowing waiting
rooms for sick blacks and hospitals with
300 percent occupancy rates. Figure
that one out: It meant two to a bed or on
the floor.”
The Kaisers did something about the
problem. In 1985 they founded Medical
Education for South African Blacks, a
nonprofit organization that provided financial and other support to students of
color seeking health careers.
Mr. Kaiser died on March 30 at his
home in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 94. His
son Timothy said the cause was heart
By the time the Kaisers’ organization
disbanded in 2007 it had helped some
10,000 South Africans of color receive
training as doctors, nurses, midwives
and more.
The timing of the Kaisers’ initiative
proved auspicious in two ways. One was
that, when the organization (known by
the acronym Mesab) was founded,
South Africa was still under apartheid; a
more equal health care system and
stronger black professional class helped
secure the country’s survival when majority rule came in the 1990s. The other
was that Mesab began producing health
care professionals just as the AIDS crisis was devastating the country.
Herbert Kaiser was born on June 8,
1923, in New York City. His father, Max,
was a house painter, and his mother, the
former Nettie Slavititski, was a caretaker. The Depression years were difficult
for the family, and Timothy Kaiser said
that being on the receiving end of public
charity left his father with a sense of ob-
Herbert and Joy Kaiser with Nelson Mandela in 1991. The Kaisers founded Medical
Education for South African Blacks in 1985, when the health system favored whites.
ligation that he carried his entire life. After graduating from high school, Herbert worked briefly at the Brooklyn
Navy Yard and then, in 1942, joined the
Navy, serving on the submarine Dragonet, which was stationed off Japan in
August 1945 when the atomic bombs
were dropped on that country.
He attended Swarthmore on the G.I.
Bill, graduating in 1949, the same year
he married Joy Dana Sundgaard, a fellow student. He took a job with the State
Department and was posted to Glasgow
in 1950. Later in that decade he developed an expertise in Eastern European
affairs, and his career included postings
to Yugoslavia, Austria, Poland and Romania. He retired in 1983.
Besides the tensions and factions
within South Africa, the Kaisers had to
deal with the international pressure that
was causing many prominent people
and companies to withdraw investments from that country. Raising money
for their fledgling organization was difficult. But eventually a number of compa-
nies, including Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s and Pfizer International, signed
on, and community leaders in South Africa got behind the effort.
Scholarship money alone, though,
was not the answer. The organization
found that it also needed to provide
other kinds of support for students, both
during apartheid and after.
“South African blacks have had to
cope with decades of poor primary and
secondary education, as well as social
neglect,” Saul Levin, Mesab’s chief executive, said in 2005. “Students who come
into universities from rural areas are
shellshocked. I have had students who
tell me they’ve never had a bank account or ridden in an elevator.”
Thus, accommodations were made
for the program’s students, like allowing
them to repeat failed courses or to cut
back on their course load if they were
having academic trouble. A mentoring
program was established.
And Mesab responded to the AIDS
crisis with a palliative-care program
that financed the training of professionals and community caregivers in treating those with the disease.
In addition to his wife and his son
Timothy, Mr. Kaiser is survived by another son, Paul; a daughter, Gail; and
six grandchildren.
The Kaisers’ efforts, which wound
down in 2007, drew praise from some of
the leading figures in modern South African history, including President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond
She was a promising young student of
Chinese literature with sterling grades
and an industrious work ethic. But in
1998, during her sophomore year at one
of China’s most prestigious universities,
Gao Yan was raped by a professor, her
friends and relatives say, and soon afterward she killed herself.
Now, on the 20th anniversary of her
death, Ms. Gao’s story has become a rallying cry for China’s fledgling #MeToo
movement, inspiring calls for the government to do more to prevent sexual
assault and harassment.
China has so far greeted the #MeToo
movement with caution, seemingly out
of concern that it could threaten stability
in the country’s male-dominated halls of
But in recent days, millions of people
have shared Ms. Gao’s story online,
even as the government has deployed
censors to stamp it out.
Ms. Gao’s classmates brought the
case back into the public sphere when
they recently posted remembrances describing how she had told them that a
professor at Peking University at the
time, Shen Yang, forced her to have sex.
Ms. Gao also told friends that Mr. Shen
had spread rumors that she had a mental illness.
Mr. Shen has denied the accusations.
Many people have held up the case as
an example of the abuse and discrimination women in China experience.
“The hidden victims are inspired by
the promise of justice and have become
brave enough to speak up,” said Zoe
Chen, 24, a student activist in Dalian, a
northeastern city.
The widespread anger over the case
has brought unusually swift action. Several universities in recent days condemned Mr. Shen, who currently
teaches at Nanjing University in eastern
Peking University, where Mr. Shen
taught until 2011, vowed over the
weekend to do more to prevent sexual
harassment, saying that it had “zero
tolerance” for violations of students’
rights. The university also revealed
that it had given a warning to Mr. Shen
over suspicion of inappropriate behavior after the police investigated the
case in 1998.
Millions have shared Gao Yan’s story on
the 20th anniversary of her death.
Student activists said they were
pleased that the case had resonated so
But they said universities needed to
give students more of a say in determining how sexual harassment and assault are reported on campus, and to
better train professors in appropriate
conduct with students.
“Merely resolving one or two specific
cases is meant to gag the public,” said
Zheng Xi, 30, an activist in the eastern
city of Hangzhou.
Ms. Zheng said that since Ms. Gao’s
death, Peking University had “shown
no sense of introspection about the unequal power dynamics between students and teachers.”
While the #MeToo movement has
struggled to gain wide traction in
China, in large part because of the governing Communist Party’s tight control
of civil society, universities have proved
to be an exception.
In recent months, students have used
social media to accuse deans and professors of misbehavior, resulting in several high-profile firings. Sympathetic
faculty members have signed petitions
vowing a zero-tolerance stance toward
sexual assault.
Zhang Yiwu, a professor of Chinese
language and literature at Peking University, said the rise of the #MeToo
movement in the United States had
pushed China to tackle the problem of
sexual harassment.
“We were ignorant of sexual harassment,” he said. “Now we know this
issue better. We are learning from the
Zoe Mou, Iris Zhao and Elsie Chen contributed research.
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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2018 | 3
Innocent victim, or Russian spy?
In August 2016, Mr. Kilimnik was formally investigated in Ukraine on suspicion of ties to Russian spy agencies, according to documents from Parliament
and the Prosecutor General’s Office, but
no charges were filed.
A Ukrainian lawmaker, Volodymyr I.
Ariev, who requested the investigation,
said Mr. Kilimnik’s background in military intelligence deserved scrutiny.
“He was a student of a military school
in Russia,” Mr. Ariev said. “Everybody
in the former Soviet Union knows what
that means. They produce professional
In person, though, Mr. Kilimnik has
been surprisingly nonchalant about the
The man sat at a restaurant table, grasping a glass of white wine. His sandy hair
was close cropped, he wore a cardigan
sweater, and in the afternoon bustle he
looked like just another office worker at
While seated, the most notable element of his appearance was hardly noticeable; only when he stood to introduce himself did it become clear that he
was short, almost childlike, in stature, a
characteristic that earned him the nickname “the midget” from Russian political operatives.
He spoke flawless English, with only a
touch of an accent, was gregarious and
casually brushed aside the main question in this rare interview in Kiev, the
Ukrainian capital, a year or so ago, saying that he was not a Russian spy.
Yet in Washington these days, the
man, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, has turned
up in multiple court filings by the special
prosecutor, Robert S. Mueller III, who
identifies him as Person A. Just last
week, for example, a Dutch lawyer was
sentenced to a month in prison for lying
to the Federal Bureau of Investigation
about, among other things, his communications with Person A.
And two weeks ago, Mr. Mueller
turned over a card in the investigation
into the possibility of the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia by asserting in a court document that this
person “has ties to a Russian intelligence service” and was in contact with a
senior member of the campaign, Rick
Gates, during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation
special agents assisting the Special
Counsel’s Office assess that Person A
has ties to a Russian intelligence service
and had such ties in 2016,” the filing said.
As Person A, Mr. Kilimnik, a 47-yearold former Russian military interpreter,
has appeared now in multiple court filings by the special prosecutor, which
suggests that he could become a pivotal
figure in the investigation. For about a
decade, he worked as an office manager
in Kiev for the political consulting busi-
Konstantin V. Kilimnik has
turned up in court filings by the
American special prosecutor,
who identifies him as Person A.
Konstantin V. Kilimnik once worked for Paul Manafort’s political consulting operation out of this storefront in Kiev, Ukraine.
ness of Paul Manafort, acting as a go-between and fixer for the American and
the Russian-leaning politicians who
were its clients.
The Russian government has denied
meddling in the 2016 election, and President Trump has denied collusion by
members of his campaign staff. But during the years that Mr. Manafort worked
in Ukraine, the country was deeply penetrated by Russian intelligence agents.
While Mr. Kilimnik continues to deny
that he was a Russian agent, it would
have been perfectly normal for Moscow
to plant someone in the Manafort operation.
Konstantin Viktorovich Kilimnik was
born in eastern Ukraine in the Soviet period. He studied at the Military Institute
of the Ministry of Defense in Moscow,
and after the Soviet breakup took Russian citizenship, he said in the interview.
The institute trains interpreters for the
Russian military intelligence agency,
formerly known as the G.R.U. and now
called the Main Directorate.
He worked for a time in Sweden as an
interpreter for a Russian company that
exported arms, and later in the Moscow
office of the International Republican
Institute, a Washington-based nonprofit, where former employees said they
suspected he was informing on them to
the Russian authorities.
He parted ways with the organization,
a former employee of the Moscow office
said, after the chief of the F.S.B., the successor agency to the K.G.B., talked in a
speech about the private meetings of the
institute’s officials. They didn’t have evi-
dence but suspected that Mr. Kilimnik
had been the source, said the former official, who could not be cited publicly
discussing personnel issues.
In the interview, Mr. Kilimnik said he
had been dismissed for having taken
work on the side as an interpreter for
Mr. Manafort in Ukraine in the early
It is not known whether Mr. Manafort,
a longtime consultant to Republican politicians, was aware of the suspicions of
the institute’s managers when he hired
Mr. Kilimnik in 2005. Mr. Manafort’s
business in Ukraine was registered in
Mr. Kilimnik’s name.
Mr. Manafort’s former client President Viktor F. Yanukovych was deposed
in 2014, and Mr. Kilimnik said he stopped
working for Mr. Manafort that year.
suspicions swirling around his past and
role in the 2016 campaign.
He said he was never contacted by investigators in Ukraine and called the investigation politically motivated. “If
there were any truth to me talking to
any security service in the world, they
would arrest me,” he said, speaking of
Ukrainian law enforcement.
Before the United States election, Mr.
Kilimnik said, he and Mr. Manafort had
spoken “every couple of months,” at a
time when Mr. Manafort served as
chairman of the Trump campaign, but
he said there was nothing to hide in the
calls and meetings. The two mostly discussed Ukrainian politics, not the election, he said: “I was briefing him on
The filing by the special counsel’s office asserted that Mr. Kilimnik had communicated with Mr. Gates, the senior
campaign member, late during the 2016
campaign, and that Mr. Gates was
aware of Mr. Kilimnik’s background in
Russian intelligence.
The filing was notable for touching on
Mr. Gates’s activities during the campaign. He has pleaded guilty to lying to
the F.B.I. and conspiring to defraud the
United States for activities related to his
work in Ukraine, mostly before joining
the Trump campaign.
Mr. Gates’s communications with Mr.
Kilimnik were revealed in the sentencing documents of Alex van der Zwaan, a
former lawyer for the law firm Skadden,
Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, who
pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about
his interactions with Mr. Kilimnik and
with Mr. Gates.
Mr. Kilimnik also played a role in a reported effort by Mr. Manafort to contact
a Russian oligarch, Oleg V. Deripaska,
during the campaign.
Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kilimnik had cooperated on an ultimately unsuccessful
business venture, the Pericles investment fund, financed by Mr. Deripaska.
In July 2016, while Mr. Manafort was
chairman of the Trump campaign, Mr.
Manafort emailed Mr. Kilimnik asking
him to offer Mr. Deripaska “private
briefings” about the campaign in exchange for resolving a multimillion-dollar financial dispute related to the business, according to The Washington Post.
Mr. Deripaska has said he never received the offer. Mr. Kilimnik, reached
by email, declined to comment on this
matter and the special counsel’s court
Mr. Kilimnik has surfaced as a fringe
figure in other aspects of the Russian investigation.
Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist who attended a Trump
Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. in
June 2016 where a Russian lawyer had
promised to provide negative information on Hillary Clinton, had also worked
in Ukraine with Mr. Kilimnik closely
enough to know his nickname among
Russian-leaning political operatives in
Kiev. At the time, about eight years ago,
Mr. Akhmetshin was trying to persuade
political advisers of Mr. Yanukovych to
buy the rights to a book that cast a domestic political opponent in a negative
light, and attended meetings with Mr.
“I do not want to be part of the U.S.
political games and I am not,” Mr. Kilimnik wrote in an email last year. “I am
simply a random casualty because of my
proximity to Paul,” he said, referring to
Mr. Manafort.
Asked in the interview about the allegation of ties to Russian intelligence
agencies, Mr. Kilimnik said, “I vehemently deny it.”
An Australian Silicon Valley
Adelaide, a rust belt city,
is aiming to emulate
innovation hubs in U.S.
Tom Hajdu, a globe-trotting entrepreneur with a Ph.D. in music from Princeton, parked his Toyota Camry and
walked us toward a former Mitsubishi
auto factory in Adelaide, Australia, that
shut down a decade ago.
It has recently been reopened with
high-speed broadband, Ping-Pong tables and room for hip start-up companies. Under the old industrial roof, the
message was clear: This working-class
city is doing everything it can to recast
itself as an innovation hub for the state
of South Australia and the world.
“There’s a corps of people here who
will be driving into the innovation economy,” Mr. Hajdu said. “You get on the
bus or you get out of the way.”
Adelaide is the understated capital of
South Australia, a mostly rural depopulating state. Like so many other rust belt
cities worldwide, it is trying to recover
from a manufacturing decline by hunting for innovation buzz — that glow of
techno-progress that can propel a place
from downbeat to in demand.
It’s Pittsburgh, shifting from a dying
steel town in the United States to a “city
of renewal.” It’s Chattanooga, the old
Tennessee railroad town, becoming
“one of America’s most start-up-friendly
cities.” It’s even Dresden, the German
city flattened during World War II that’s
now the heart of “Silicon Saxony.”
In Adelaide’s case, Elon Musk has already helped: He introduced a new
rocket at a space conference here last
September, following up in November
by building the world’s biggest battery,
which has already driven down local
electricity prices.
But this city of 1.3 million — with its
aging population and unemployment
rates that are often among the highest in
the country — needs an even bigger jolt.
Frustrations have been building for
years as Adelaide’s factories shuttered,
with Holden closing its plant last year,
bringing an end to Australia’s auto industry.
The response is what’s interesting:
Quiet Adelaide, a former industrial center now seen as a laid-back community
of churches and retirees, is banging the
table for change. Last month, voters
kicked out the Labor Party after 16
years of running South Australia, electing the more conservative Liberal Party
and its state leader, Steven Marshall, the
owner of a furniture business, on the
promise of economic growth.
The new government is even pushing
for a new visa to draw foreigners who
want to start businesses in South Australia — a break with national Liberal
leaders who have restricted skilled immigration.
Even before that, Mr. Hajdu, 55, a Canadian transplant and co-founder of an
Los Angeles-based incubator called Disrupter, was becoming Adelaide’s networker in chief. A talker in a T-shirt, the
son of a free-market economist who
founded a well-known Canadian think
tank, he is among a crew of boosters
constantly battling skeptics.
“The Paris and Rome of today are not
necessarily the Paris or Rome of tomorrow,” said Mr. Hajdu, who moved to Adelaide in 2015 and is now a paid innovation consultant for the South Australian
government. “It’s total world transformation.”
Mr. Hajdu says things like that a lot:
sweeping techno-prophecies that he
seems to be beta testing for a larger audience.
A self-driving vehicle at an old Mitsubishi factory in Adelaide converted into a start-up
hub. Sage Automation, a company there, makes devices used for self-driving cars.
Last year, South Australia’s Labor
government gave him a three-year contract, paying him 300,000 Australian
dollars a year, or now about $230,000, for
innovation advice.
Is it worth it? South Australia’s new
Liberal government declined repeated
requests for interviews about that.
One of Mr. Hajdu’s first projects involved helping Adelaide get what most
of this wealthy, otherwise developed
country lacks — superfast internet connectivity. South Australia is now investing 7.6 million Australian dollars to roll
out new fiber optic cable to 29 innovation precincts.
Officially, Adelaide is now the first
non-American “gigabit city,” making it
part of a program that connects innovators and researchers to their counterparts in other cities with advanced network infrastructure, including Chattanooga and Austin, Tex.
“Tom reached out to me soon after he
moved to Adelaide and told me he was
encouraging Adelaide to become a gig
city, taking Chattanooga as a prime example of a city that had transformed its
economy through affordable high-speed
internet,” said Joe Kochan, a co-founder
of US Ignite, the Washington nonprofit
that runs the Smart Gigabit Communities program.
One afternoon, Mr. Hajdu pulled together a few of the people he sees as
helping lead Adelaide’s revival.
Sitting at a rooftop bar, he introduced
Terry Gold, an American who moved
from Colorado to run a tech incubator.
Also with us were two South Australia
government officials, the dean of the
University of Adelaide’s computer sciences department and Alex Grant, the
chief executive of a company called
Myriota, which makes internet-connected devices for monitoring things
like soldiers and natural resources.
Clustering universities, start-ups and
government support is, after all, the Silicon Valley model.
The question is whether it can work
for Adelaide.
Chattanooga has added tens of thousands of new jobs; in Adelaide, Myriota
is growing, but from 11 employees to 30.
Inside Tonsley, the converted Mitsubishi factory, the company we visited,
called Sage Automation, made devices
used for self-driving cars that are put together in small batches — a far cry from
the mass production of cars in the factory’s heyday.
There are some other signs of hope,
Mr. Hajdu says. Sanjeev Gupta, a British
billionaire, has said that he wants to turn
the former Holden plant into a factory
for electric cars.
But a tipping point like Chattanooga’s
or Pittsburgh’s has yet to be reached.
Unemployment is still rising. Around
Tonsley, there are rundown stores and
pubs struggling to stay open.
Inside, there are wide expanses of
empty gray floors, waiting to be used.
Carré H
Time, square like a Hermès scarf.
4 | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2018
Fabled home of Jewish culture being left behind
The ancient Silk Road city of Bukhara
has two synagogues, a primary school
that teaches Hebrew, a Jewish cultural
association and a sprawling Jewish
cemetery with more than 10,000 graves.
What it lacks are Jews.
Home to one of the world’s oldest and,
in centuries past, biggest Jewish communities, Bukhara — a fabled city of ancient ruins and Islamic architectural
treasures in central Uzbekistan — has a
Muslim population of more than 270,000
people but, according to most estimates,
only 100 to 150 Jews.
Even that, said Lyuba Kimatova, an
observant Jew whose son and older
daughter emigrated to Israel, is a big exaggeration. Ms. Kimatova said there
were only four or five families left who
kept kosher and followed Jewish traditions. The rest, she said, “do not really
live like Jews anymore.”
That is not entirely their fault, she
quickly added, but mostly the result of
the fact that there is nobody left who can
slaughter animals for food according to
Jewish law. Until last month, the city
had two rabbis who knew the rituals of
slaughter, but each was old and very
sick and too feeble to wield a butcher’s
knife. The older rabbi has now died, delivering yet another blow to a community with a storied history stretching back
millenniums but steadily running out of
living members.
Ms. Kimatova herself would like to
leave, joining an ever-expanding diaspora of Bukharian Jews living far from
the city, about 50,000 of them in the New
York City borough of Queens alone.
“We are all ready to leave. Only the
old folk are hanging on,” Ms. Kimatova
said, complaining that her ailing fatherin-law, 83, the surviving — and, detractors say, phony — rabbi, refuses to
budge, despite pleas from family. “He
won’t leave so we have to stay.”
The steady exodus from Bukhara began in the early 1970s, when the Soviet
Union relaxed a ban on Jewish emigration. It accelerated in the 1990s after Uzbekistan became an independent state,
a development that Jews, Russians and
other minorities feared might lead to an
upsurge in nationalism and Muslim extremism. The feared nationalist backlash against minorities, particularly
non-Muslim ones, never happened, and
even remaining Jews who are eager to
leave praise Uzbekistan as a place, unlike Israel and many parts of Europe,
where Jews and Muslims live side by
side without friction.
“I never felt any anti-Semitism here.
Never,” Ms. Kimatova said, noting that
her husband, a watchmaker, walks in
the street wearing a skullcap without
any fear, and their daughter, 13, has always walked to school on her own
through the narrow, winding streets of
Bukhara’s old town district.
The central government in Tashkent,
the Uzbek capital, would like Bukhara’s
Jews to stay and those who left to start
returning. As part of a general openingup after the death of the country’s longtime dictator, Islam Karimov, in 2016, it
recently gave visa-free entry to Israelis
and is encouraging émigrés to come
back, at least to take a look.
“They have always been an organic
part of Uzbek society, and people here
need them,” said Sodiq Safoev, Uzbekistan’s former ambassador to Washington and a close confidant of the liberalizing new Uzbek president, Shavkat
Mirziyoyev. “It will be very sad if they
are all melted down in the big melting
pot of New York.”
A few Jews are determined to stay put
in Bukhara to preserve a Jewish presence that, according to local lore, dates
to the Lost Tribes of Israel, exiled from
their homeland in the eighth century
B.C. Another theory is that the Bukharian Jews trace their ancestry to the conquest of Babylonia, the ancient empire
based in what is today Iraq, by Cyrus,
the king of Persia in the sixth century
Bukhara, Uzbekistan, has only 100 to 150 Jews today, according to most estimates. It is often difficult to find a minyan, the required quorum of 10 worshipers needed to hold a service in the synagogue.
Tashkent, Baruch Abramchayev.
“We have our own traditions here,”
Mr. Iskhakov said. “Nobody wore black
hats here before.”
All the same, he praised Chabad for
supporting the few remaining Jews in
Bukhara, who rely on Rabbi Abramchayev in Tashkent for their kosher
On a recent visit to Bukhara, the rabbi
slaughtered six chickens in Ms. Kimatova’s courtyard and then wielded his
knife on three cows at a farm outside the
city. To the dismay of the Uzbek farmer
who had raised the cows, the rabbi declared one of them not kosher after having it skinned and putting his hand into
the carcass to check its organs. His decision meant that the Uzbek could not
make a sale — and was stuck with the
bloody carcass.
Relations between Jews and Muslims
have not always been harmonious. In
the 18th century, Muslim preachers began forcing Jews to convert, creating a
community of residents known as chalas, whose descendants still form a distinct community.
Under the emir of Bukhara, a notoriously cruel leader of what — until Russia invaded in the 19th century — was an
independent khanate or state, Jews
lived “in utmost oppression,” said a
Hungarian-Jewish traveler who visited
shortly before Russia’s conquest. The
emir blamed Jews for his defeat by the
Over the centuries, Bukhara’s Jews
spread out to other towns in Uzbekistan
and other parts of Central Asia, and
from there to countries around the
world. Today, many Jews now living in
Queens, Israel and elsewhere, no matter
whether they have any direct connection with Bukhara, often consider themselves “Bukharian Jews.”
Among them is Lev Leviev, an Israeli
billionaire and supporter of the Chabad
movement who was born in Samarkand,
an Uzbek city east of Bukhara. He is
president of the World Congress of Bukharian Jews, an organization with
chapters around the world that seeks to
preserve ties between the community’s
now widely scattered members.
Each year before Passover, Mr.
Leviev sends supplies of matzo, an unleavened flatbread, to Bukhara so that
the few remaining Jews there can celebrate the holiday.
Local Jews are grateful for the supply
but older ones, remembering the days
when they had their own bakers, grumble that matzo should be round, instead
of square like the factory-made European variety sent by Mr. Leviev.
For Rafael Elnatanov, the head of the
city’s Jewish cultural association, however, the only real hope of keeping the
community alive is support from the
government. If the authorities encourage investment and make it easier to do
business, he said, Jews who left for Israel or America will return to become at
least part-time residents.
As the community has grown smaller,
the question of whether to stay or go has
grown ever more insistent, intensified
by the splintering of families and increasing difficulties of following Jewish
dietary and other customs.
Some stay because they are in lines of
work not easily transferred abroad, like
Simyon Ismailov, who extracts venom
from vipers for sale to pharmaceutical
companies. His snake farm, located
down a muddy track outside Bukhara,
sells tiny vials of viper venom for $2,000
Jura Khoshayev, a Jewish shoemaker
and the last of 10 siblings left in Bukhara,
said he had thought about moving to
New York, where he has eight close relatives, but he worried about adjusting to
life outside Bukhara’s old Jewish quarter. “Many of our people get depressed
in America,” he said. “They take too
many anti-depressants.”
Whatever the stresses of living
abroad, however, the scope for living a
Jewish life in Bukhara is fast shrinking.
Because there are so few Jews left, it is
often difficult to find a minyan, the required quorum of 10 worshipers needed
to hold a service in the synagogue.
It is also difficult to find a spouse
within the faith. Ms. Kimatova said she
was determined, no matter what her father-in-law said, to get the family abroad
before her daughter, Sarah, reached
marrying age.
“There is nobody here for her,” she
said, complaining that even a local
school set up in the 1990s for Jewish pupils has hardly any Jews left. Of 440 students, only 39 are Jewish, none of them
in Sarah’s class. “We all have to leave
sooner or later,” she said.
saved at least $9.4 billion from Aadhaar
by weeding out “ghosts” and other improper beneficiaries of government
Opponents have filed at least 30 cases
against the program in India’s Supreme
Court. They argue that Aadhaar violates
India’s Constitution — and, in particular,
a unanimous court decision last year
that declared for the first time that Indians had a fundamental right to privacy.
Rahul Narayan, one of the lawyers
challenging the system, said the government was essentially building one giant
database on its citizens. “There has
been a sort of mission creep to it all
along,” he said.
The court has been holding extensive
hearings and is expected to make a ruling in the spring.
The government argues that the universal ID is vital in a country where hundreds of millions of people do not have
widely accepted identification documents.
“The people themselves are the biggest beneficiaries,” said Ajay B. Pandey,
the Minnesota-trained engineer who
leads the Unique Identification Authority of India, the government agency that
oversees the system. “This identity cannot be refused.”
Businesses are also using the technology to streamline transactions.
Banks once sent employees to the
homes of account applicants to verify
their addresses. Now, accounts can be
opened online and finished with a fingerprint scan at a branch or other authorized outlet. Reliance Jio, a telecom
provider, relies on an Aadhaar fingerprint scan to conduct the governmentmandated ID check for purchases of
cellphone SIM cards. That allows clerks
to activate service immediately instead
of requiring buyers to wait a day or two.
But the Aadhar system has also
raised practical and legal issues.
Although the system’s core fingerprint, iris and face database appears to
have remained secure, at least 210 government websites have leaked other
personal data — such as name, birth
date, address, parents’ names, bank account number and Aadhaar number —
for millions of Indians. Some of that data
is still available with a simple Google
As Aadhaar has become mandatory
for government benefits, parts of rural
India have struggled with the internet
connections necessary to make Aadhaar work. After a lifetime of manual labor, many Indians also have no readable
prints, making authentication difficult.
One recent study found that 20 percent
of the households in Jharkand state had
failed to get their food rations under
Aadhaar-based verification — five
times the failure rate of ration cards.
“This is the population that is being
passed off as ghosts and bogus by the
government,” said Reetika Khera, an associate professor of economics at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, who
co-wrote the study.
Seeing these problems, some local
governments have scaled back the use
of Aadhaar for public benefits. In February, the government for the Delhi region
announced that it would stop using Aadhaar to deliver food benefits.
Dr. Pandey said that some problems
were inevitable but that his agency was
trying to fix them. The government is
patching security holes and recently
added face recognition as an alternative
to fingerprint or iris scans to make it
easier to verify identities.
Fears that the Indian government
could use Aadhaar to turn the country
into a surveillance state, he said, are
overblown. “There is no central authority that has all the information,” he said.
300 Miles
“Without history, you have no future,”
said Abram Iskhakov, the president of
the Bukhara Jewish Community. “Just
being here to preserve our history, our
language and our traditions is a big victory.” He said that his daughter, who
now lives in Australia, his brother in Israel, and other relatives in the United
States, regularly pleaded with him to
leave Bukhara but that his answer was
always the same.
“I am needed more here than over
there,” Mr. Iskhakov said. “There are
millions of ‘Abrams’ like me in Israel and
America, but this is my place, my home.
I feel comfortable here. I live here like a
fish in water.” Moreover, he added, Israel, which he visits at least once a year,
is too humid and much more dangerous
than Bukhara.
“We have no problems here like the Israelis and Palestinians,” he said. “We
live on the same streets with Muslims.
We went to school together and work together.”
“If I had two lives, I would spend one
in Israel,” he added. “But I only have one
and it is here.”
While keeping kosher, Mr. Iskhakov
takes a relaxed view of whether fellow
Jews strictly follow all religious customs
and has had quarrels with more pious
members of his community, who have
increasingly fallen under the influence
A Jewish wedding in Bukhara in 2000. As the city’s Jewish population continues
to dwindle, it has become more difficult to maintain some religious traditions.
of Chabad-Lubavitch, an Orthodox, Hasidic movement headquartered in the
Brooklyn borough of New York City.
Rooted in the shtetls of Eastern Europe, the Chabad movement is led by
Ashkenazi Jews, whose clothing, language and general outlook are traditionally very different from those of the Sephardi Jews of Bukhara, who generally
see Muslims as friends, not foes, and, instead of Yiddish, have their own language called Bukhori, a mix of Persian
and Hebrew with a smattering of Russian and Uzbek.
The Chabad movement, whose members often wear wide-brimmed black
hats and black topcoats, has been in the
vanguard of a push to preserve Jewish
traditions and resist assimilation in former Soviet territory. The chief rabbi in
Moscow is a follower of the movement,
as is Uzbekistan’s chief rabbi in
India requires biometric scans
as a platform, then you actually can create major innovations around that.”
The potential uses — from surveillance to managing government benefit
programs — have drawn interest elsewhere. Sri Lanka is planning a similar
system, and Britain, Russia and the
Philippines are studying it, according to
the Indian government.
Aadhaar, which means “foundation”
in English, was initially intended as a
difficult-to-forge ID to reduce fraud and
improve the delivery of government
welfare programs.
But Mr. Modi, who has promoted a
“digital India” vision since his party
took power in 2014, has vastly expanded
its ambitions.
The poor must scan their fingerprints
at the ration shop to get their government allocations of rice. Retirees must
do the same to get their pensions. Middle-school students cannot enter the water department’s annual painting contest until they submit their identification.
In some cities, newborns cannot leave
the hospital until their parents sign
them up. Even leprosy patients, whose
illness damages their fingers and eyes,
have been told they must pass finger-
Retinal scans are one of several identifying characteristics the system uses. Critics fear
that the government will gain unprecedented insight into the lives of all Indians.
print or iris scans to get their benefits.
The Modi government has also ordered Indians to link their IDs to their
cellphone and bank accounts. States
have added their own twists, like using
the data to map where people live. Some
employers use the ID for background
checks on job applicants.
“Aadhaar has added great strength to
India’s development,” Mr. Modi said in a
January speech to military cadets. Officials estimate that taxpayers have
Suhasini Raj contributed reporting.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2018 | 5
Climate change throws species off balance
catcher populations dwindled sharply.
“That was the big discovery that suggested this mismatch could have real
consequences for populations,” said
Christiaan Both, an ecologist at the University of Groningen.
Every year, as the seasons change, a
complex ballet unfolds around the
world. Trees in the Northern Hemisphere leaf out in the spring as frost recedes. Caterpillars hatch to gorge on
leaves. Bees and butterflies emerge to
pollinate flowers. Birds leave the Southern Hemisphere and fly thousands of
miles to lay eggs and feast on insects in
the north.
All of these species stay in sync with
each other by relying on environmental
cues, much as ballet dancers move to orchestral music.
But global warming is changing the
music, with spring now arriving several
weeks earlier in parts of the world than
it did a few decades ago. Not all species
are adjusting to this warming at the
same rate, and, as a result, some are falling out of step.
Scientists who study the changes in
plants and animals triggered by the seasons have a term for this: phenological
mismatch. And they’re still trying to understand exactly how such mismatches
— like the blooming of a flower before its
pollinator emerges — might affect
In some cases, species might simply
adapt by shifting their ranges, or eating
different foods.
But if species can’t adapt quickly
enough, these mismatches could have
“significant negative impacts,” said
Madeleine Rubenstein, a biologist at the
United States Geological Survey’s National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center.
“If you look at the past history of climate on earth, there has never been
such a dramatic, rapid, change in the climate,” said Andrea Santangeli, a postdoctoral researcher at the Finnish Museum of Natural History. “Species have
to respond really fast,” he said, “that’s
really unprecedented.”
Here are five examples of mismatch,
just one of the many threats that species
face from global warming, that scientists have discovered so far:
The early spider orchid relies on deception to reproduce. Each spring, the orchid, whose bulbous crimson body looks
like an insect, releases a pheromone
that tricks solitary male bees into thinking the plant is a mating partner — a key
Climate change doesn’t just cause
missed connections. In some cases, the
advance of warmer weather can lead to
perilous meetings.
In Finland, for example, the Northern
lapwing and Eurasian curlew have usually built their ground nests on barley
fields after farmers have sown their
crops in the spring. But as temperatures
have risen, the birds are now increasingly laying their eggs before the farmers get to the fields, which means their
well-concealed nests are more likely to
get destroyed by tractors and other machinery.
Looking at 38 years of data, researchers found that farmers in Finland
are now sowing their fields a week earlier in response to warmer temperatures,
but the birds are laying their eggs two to
three weeks earlier.
“This has created a phenological mismatch,” said Mr. Santangeli, the lead author of the study. “The response we’ll
see is declines of these birds.”
Clockwise from top left: The early spider orchid; the snowshoe hare; the European pied flycatcher; and the Northern lapwing. They are all facing challenges from rising global
temperatures that affect, respectively, the orchid’s pollinators, the hare’s camouflage, the flycatcher’s food sources and the lapwing’s nesting areas.
step for pollination. This ruse, which scientists call pseudocopulation, works because the orchid tends to bloom during a
specific window each spring — shortly
after lonely male bees emerge from hibernation but before female bees appear.
Yet with spring coming earlier, female
bees are now emerging sooner and luring the male bees away from the
lovelorn orchid, according to a 2014
study from Britain.
By examining data collected in herbariums and in the field over a century,
the researchers found that the gap between the times when male bees and female bees emerge shrinks by about 6.6
days for each degree Celsius of warming, giving the orchid less opportunity to
“The main finding is that things are
getting increasingly bad for orchid pollination,” said Anthony Davy, a professor
of biological science at the University of
East Anglia, and the lead author of the
paper. For this orchid — which is already rare — the future looks bleak, he
The European pied flycatcher runs on a
tight schedule each spring.
From its wintering grounds in Africa,
the bird flies thousands of miles north to
Europe to lay eggs in time for the emergence of winter moth caterpillars, which
appear for a few weeks each spring to
munch on young oak leaves.
By timing this just right, the flycatchers ensure there’s enough food around
when their hungry chicks hatch. In a series of studies in the 2000s, however, scientists in the Netherlands showed that
many flycatchers were starting to miss
this narrow window.
As spring temperatures warmed, oak
trees were leafing out earlier and peak
caterpillar season was arriving up to
two weeks sooner in some places. But
many flycatchers, which appear to
schedule their departure from Africa
based on the length of day there, were
not getting to Europe early enough for
their spring meals.
In the parts of the Netherlands where
peak caterpillar season had advanced
the fastest, the scientists later found, fly-
Climate change doesn’t just cause mismatches in the spring. Consider the
snowshoe hare, whose fur coat has
evolved to change from brown to white
during the winter for camouflage. As the
earth has warmed, however, snow cover
in the hare’s habitat melts sooner, leaving the animal more exposed to predators.
“Camouflage is critical to keep prey
animals alive,” said L. Scott Mills, a professor of wildlife biology at the University of Montana who studies the impacts
of camouflage mismatch on species like
the snowshoe hare.
For every week the hare is mismatched, Dr. Mills and his colleagues
found, it had a 7 percent higher chance
of being killed by predators like the
Currently, the hare is mismatched by
only a week or two. But by midcentury,
Dr. Mills said, that could extend up to
eight weeks.
If that were to happen, he said, the
hare “would start declining toward extinction.”
Election deemed free, but not fair
Hungary’s ruling party
used state resources to aid
campaign, group finds
Soon after Viktor Orban and his governing Fidesz party and its allies won a
sweeping election victory, independent
election monitors said that the party had
used the resources of the state on a very
large scale to aid its chances of winning.
“Voters had a wide range of political
options, but intimidating and xenophobic rhetoric, media bias, and opaque
campaign financing constricted the
space for genuine political debate,” said
Douglas Wake, the head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or O.S.C.E., mission in Hungary.
“The ubiquitous overlap between
government information and ruling coalition campaigns, and other abuses of
administrative resources blurred the
line between state and party,” he said on
Monday. The blurring of the line was visible on thousands of bus stops, billboards and telephone booths where the
government plastered posters warning
of the dangers of immigrants. They were
paid for by the government as part of
what it said was a public information education campaign.
They were often placed next to campaign-financed posters featuring a
photoshopped image of the Hungarianborn American billionaire and frequent
Orban target, George Soros, embracing
the opposition candidates.
While taking the government to task
for the way the campaign was con-
ducted, the O.S.C.E. found no problems
with the execution of the election itself,
where more than 8.3 million people were
registered to vote.
Asked about multiple reports of irregularities in the local news media, Mr.
Wake said Monday that his group’s mission was limited to looking at the technical issues s of the vote count.
On the national ballot, Fidesz secured
more than 49 percent of the vote, with
some 2.6 million voting for the party and
its Christian Democratic allies. That
was roughly the same as the seven largest opposition parties combined.
Fidesz also secured a two-thirds majority in Parliament, which will give the
party a free hand to pursue still deeper
legal and constitutional changes that
have already given it firm control over
courts and other state institutions.
It remains unclear exactly what other
measures Mr. Orban might pursue. But
The victory was cheered by
fellow nationalists across Europe.
he said in March that after the election
he would seek “moral, political and legal
amends” against his critics. And he has
hinted t at an attempt to amend the Constitution to stop the European Union
from imposing migrant quotas.
A first step may be a “stop Soros” law
that would allow the government to impose financial and other penalties on
nongovernmental organizations that assist asylum seekers and refugees.
Already, Mr. Orban’s harsh talk about
immigrants has been matched by policies to close off the country. Over the last
three years Mr. Orban has systematically curtailed the ability of people to
seek asylum in Hungary.
Where there was once a wall built by
the Communist rulers seeking to keep
Hungarians from leaving, he has
erected a steel-and-wire fence to keep
people from entering the country. He
created two “transit zones” at the Serbian border, barred to the news media,
where those seeking asylum must pass.
The country now only allows five asylum seekers to be processed at each location every week, and that is just the
start of a cumbersome process meant to
make Hungary unwelcome.
The reaction of human rights advocates and nongovernmental organizations, often the target of government attacks, to Mr. Orban’s victory was swift
and defiant. Amnesty International’s
Europe director, Gauri van Gulik, said
the group was steadfast in its resolve to
work to expose abuses.
“We will continue to push back
against attempts to stoke hostility toward refugees and migrants and will
continue to speak up for groups that
support and defend them,” she said. “We
will not be cowed by those who attempt
to muzzle Hungary’s critical voices and
to create an atmosphere of fear.”
There is little doubt that Mr. Orban’s
victory presents an even stiffer test for
the European Union, which will now
have to deal with a vastly empowered
Hungarian leader who has already challenged many of the bloc’s core democratic principles.
The European Commission president,
Jean-Claude Juncker, will write Mr. Orban to congratulate him on his “clear
victory,” said the commission’s spokesman, Margaritis Schinas. But he added:
“The European Union is a union of democracy and values. President Juncker
and the Commission feel that defending
these principles and defending these
values is the common duty of all member states with no exception.”
Mr. Orban’s victory was cheered,
however, by other world leaders with a
similar outlook.
Jaroslaw Kaszynski, the leader of Poland’s governing party, visited Mr. Orban in the closing days of the campaign
and made his admiration clear. “You
can’t think about Europe’s future without remembering Viktor Orban, without
remembering Hungary, Fidesz,” he said
on Friday. “Our current friendship is
also a shared road, a shared road toward
our nations being independent, capable
of deciding about our own future, our
own internal affairs.”
Mr. Kaszynski said that the two countries were not against Europe, rather
they were “pointing Europe in the right
In Germany, the parliamentary
leader of the far-right AfD Party, Beatrix
von Storch, tweeted a picture of herself
with Mr. Orban and a simple message:
“Congratulations, Viktor Orban! A bad
day for the EU, a good one for Europe.”
Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary as his party triumphed. Election monitors said
lines between the government and the party were blurred in the campaign.
Milan Schreuer contributed reporting
from Brussels.
Cape Cod
Time beyond time.
6 | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2018
gets a chance
to remake a
vexing court
Trump v. California: The biggest legal clashes
State and U.S. government
are engaged in ‘bloody
combat’ over host of issues
Death of liberal stalwart
opens door for Trump
to appoint a conservative
In the spring of 2014, a friend tried to
nudge Judge Stephen Reinhardt, then
an 83-year-old liberal stalwart on the
United States Court of Appeals for the
Ninth Circuit, into stepping aside from
full-time duties so President Barack
Obama could nominate a successor.
The friend, Erwin Chemerinsky, now
the dean at the University of California,
Berkeley, School of Law, said he had
gently suggested to Judge Reinhardt
that he and another longtime liberal figure on the San Francisco-based court
make way while Democrats still had the
power to assure that jurists with a similar philosophy would take their place.
Judge Reinhardt swiftly rejected that
notion and stayed on.
Now Judge Reinhardt, who died on
March 29 at age 87, could very well be
replaced by a nominee chosen by President Trump. The president suddenly
has a chance to seat a judge with a markedly different judicial outlook, giving
conservatives a greater voice on the liberal-leaning court, which has been a
particular thorn in Mr. Trump’s side.
The president’s opening does not end
The vacancy is one of eight on the appeals court, which has 29 active judges
— a vivid illustration of the larger opportunity for Mr. Trump to put an enduring
stamp on the makeup of the federal judiciary nationwide by installing candidates of a more conservative bent.
“With a Republican Senate and no
possibility of a filibuster, he can have
whoever he wants on the circuit court,”
Mr. Chemerinsky said. “It will dramatically change the Ninth Circuit.”
Currently, there are almost 150 federal district and appeals court vacancies
around the country, a number that has
risen from just over 100 when Mr. Trump
took office, despite his notable success
at filling openings. Democrats’ weakening of the filibuster against nominees
in 2013 and a recent Republican decision
to limit the veto power of home-state
senators over judicial candidates have
left few avenues to impede Mr. Trump
and his Senate allies in their determination to fill judicial openings.
Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who died on
March 29, was a protector of liberal views.
Last month, the president promised
an intense push. “We’re going all out,”
Mr. Trump told a cheering audience in
Ohio, declaring that his ability to fill
scores of open slots was a “gift from
heaven,” as well as “world-changing,
country-changing, U.S.A.-changing.”
Mr. Trump chastised the Ninth Circuit
last year for its ruling against his travel
ban, and for a district court judge’s move
to block enforcement of a threat by his
administration to withhold federal aid
from so-called sanctuary cities. “Ridiculous rulings,” he railed on Twitter. “See
you in the Supreme Court!”
Though analysts say it has become
more moderate in recent years, the
Ninth Circuit has long been the bane of
conservatives, partly because of the influence of Judge Reinhardt and another
Jimmy Carter-era appointee, Harry
Pregerson, who died in 2017 after taking
senior status in 2015.
It is America’s largest appeals court,
covering nine Western states and dealing with a staggering set of topics from
social questions like same-sex marriage
to border issues to land resource matters. Because of its size, experts say that
Mr. Trump would be unable to reverse
its ideological makeup even if he were
able to fill all eight vacancies. Some of
those nominees would replace judges
who had been appointed by other Republican presidents.
But there is no dispute that Mr. Trump
has the chance to push it to the right.
The dynamics of the court could change
in many subtle ways — producing, for
example, more sharp dissents that catch
the attention of the Supreme Court, said
Leonard Leo, the executive vice president of the Federalist Society.
Plus, it is hard to measure the effect of
the loss of Judge Reinhardt, who was
seen as a major influence on the liberal
wing of the court and a talented and articulate legal protector of liberal views.
“The death of Judge Reinhardt means
more than the loss of a liberal vote,” said
Arthur Hellman, a law professor at the
University of Pittsburgh and a leading
expert on the appeals court.
The Trump administration and California are fighting a furious multifront legal war, and every week seems to bring
a new courtroom battle.
“It’s bloody combat,” Jessica Levinson, who teaches at Loyola Law
School in Los Angeles, said last week.
“This isn’t a cold war. It’s a scorching hot
war. And that’s politically expedient for
both sides.”
The state has filed 29 lawsuits against
the federal government since President
Trump took office, on issues including
immigration, the environment and voting rights.
“Government by litigation isn’t what
the American people voted for,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last
week, “and attempting to thwart an administration’s elected agenda through
endless, meritless lawsuits is a dangerous precedent.”
That same day, Mr. Sessions filed suit
against the state, accusing it of interfering with the sale of federal lands. That
followed a separate suit last month to
block three state laws that sought to protect unauthorized immigrants.
Clashes between states and the federal government are nothing new, said
Ilya Somin, a law professor at George
Mason University in Virginia.
“This has happened throughout
American history, but under the Obama
and Trump administrations it has happened more often,” he said.
In the Obama years, red states tried to
strike down the heart of the Affordable
Care Act and succeeded in blocking a
major immigration program. “Now we
see the blue states battling Trump over
sanctuary cities, the census and other
issues,” Professor Somin said.
Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas,
used to say when he was the state’s attorney general that his job description
was simple: “I go to the office in the
morning, I sue Barack Obama, and then
I go home.”
Xavier Becerra, California’s attorney
general, has said that his attitude is
slightly different. “We don’t wake up in
the morning looking to pick a fight with
the Trump administration,” he said.
“But we will do what is necessary to defend our values.”
Texas sued the Obama administration
at least 48 times, according to a survey
conducted by The Texas Tribune. The
Trump administration is a little more
than a year old, and California is already
within striking distance of those numbers.
California has been doing well in
court, winning more than a dozen rulings against the administration. Many
of those victories came from federal
judges in the state, and Mr. Sessions
may have been referring to them when
he complained of “ideological judging.”
The state is also likely to receive receptive hearings when its cases reach
the United States Court of Appeals for
the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco,
which has been a frequent target of Mr.
Trump’s criticism. The Supreme Court is
a more attractive forum from the administration’s perspective, but the justices
agree to hear very few cases.
The lawsuits all have distinct features, but collectively they pose fascinating questions about the Constitution’s allocation of power between the
federal government and the states.
They also give rise to a teachable moment in legal opportunism.
“Blue states and blue cities are making arguments about limited federal
power that are traditionally associated
with the political right,” Professor
Somin said. “On the other hand, the
Trump administration is staking out a
very broad position on federal power.”
On April 2, the Trump administration
sued to strike down a state law that
made it harder for the federal government to sell or transfer federal lands by
giving a state commission the right of
first refusal.
The law was meant to protect the
state’s natural resources, Mr. Becerra
said. “Our public lands should not be on
the auction block to the highest bidder,”
he said in a statement.
The administration’s legal arguments
are substantial, drawing on the Constitution and the law under which California was admitted to the Union.
Article IV of the Constitution, which is
concerned with the relationship between the federal government and the
states, includes the Property Clause:
“The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and
regulations respecting the territory or
other property belonging to the United
And the 1850 law admitting California
to the Union, making it the 31st state,
was explicit: “California is admitted into
the Union upon the express condition
that the people of said State, through
their legislature or otherwise, shall
never interfere with the primary disposal of the public lands within its limits,
and shall pass no law and do no act
whereby the title of the United States to,
and right to dispose of, the same shall be
impaired or questioned.”
Professor Levinson said her preliminary assessment of the suit was that “it
Smog blanketing downtown Los Angeles in 2009. The next major court fight between California and the Trump administration may involve greenhouse gas emissions.
looks like the federal government has
quite a strong argument.”
But Prof. Michael Blumm, who
teaches at Lewis and Clark Law School
in Portland, Ore., said “it isn’t clear why
the federal government claims it’s not
possible to recognize a right of first refusal and carry out its other obligations.”
He added, “Isn’t there some irony in a
D.O.J. headed by an ardent statesrightser, Jeff Sessions, arguing for federal pre-emption of state authority under the Property Clause?”
California has not yet filed its response to the suit. Based on the Trump
administration’s complaint, though, the
state law appears to be in trouble.
Last month, the Trump administration
sued California over parts of three socalled sanctuary laws protecting unauthorized immigrants. “Immigration law
is the province of the federal government,” Mr. Sessions said in announcing
the suit. But, he added, “California has
enacted a number of laws designed to intentionally obstruct the work of our
sworn immigration enforcement officers — to intentionally use every power
it has to undermine duly-established immigration law in America.”
One of the challenged laws, for instance, prohibits state officials from
telling federal ones when undocumented immigrants are to be released from
state custody.
“The executive branch should be able
to remove criminal aliens from a jail instead of your neighborhood,” Mr. Sessions said in a statement last week.
Mr. Becerra responded: “We’re not
going to let the Trump administration
coerce us into doing the federal government’s job of enforcing federal immigration law. We’re in the business of public
safety, not deportation.”
A second challenged law requires
state officials to inspect some facilities
that house people detained on behalf of
the federal government. A third restricts employers from cooperating with
immigration officials.
Legal experts differed about the
strength of the administration’s suit.
Professor Somin wrote that the legal
questions were difficult but that “California ought to prevail on all three issues.”
Writing in The Wall Street Journal,
Prof. Josh Blackman, who teaches at
South Texas College of Law, and Ilya
Shapiro, a lawyer with the Cato Institute, a libertarian group, said the federal
government seemed to have the better
legal argument on two of the three state
“Resistance to unpopular federal laws
— whether over tariffs or immigration,
or marijuana, gambling, guns or a host
of other areas of possible conflict — is
permissible,” they wrote, “only within
the bounds of federalism.”
The administration’s lawsuit seems
likely to give rise to a split decision, with
courts upholding some but not all of the
state’s laws.
vote in our federal elections,” Mr. Sessions said last week.
California’s lawsuit said that adding a
question on citizenship would depress
participation and hurt communities
with a high proportion of unauthorized
immigrants. It said it has more to lose
than any other state, as it has more foreign-born residents and noncitizens
than any other.
The administration said the citizenship information was needed to enforce
the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but critics
said that has not otherwise been a priority.
In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that
states may count all residents, whether
or not they are eligible to vote, in draw-
“This isn’t a cold war. It’s
a scorching hot war. And
that’s politically expedient
for both sides.”
ing election districts. That is the method
currently used by every state. Some
conservative groups say only eligible
voters should be considered in drawing
Counting all people amplifies the voting power of places that have large numbers of residents who cannot vote legally — including immigrants who are
here legally but are not citizens, unauthorized immigrants and children.
Those places tend to be urban and to
vote Democratic.
The Supreme Court did not decide
whether other methods of counting
were permissible. Many political scientists say that the available information
is not sufficient to count only eligible
voters, and the new census question
may have been added in part to gather
such information.
The state’s lawsuit has a decent
chance of success. The decision to alter
the census form was sudden and consequential, and courts may be reluctant to
allow such a drastic change.
Last year, California sued the administration over its plans to deny federal
funding to so-called sanctuary cities unless they begin cooperating with federal
immigration agents.
“The Trump administration cannot
manipulate federal grant fund requirements to pressure states, counties or
municipalities to enforce federal immigration laws,” Mr. Becerra said at the
A Justice Department spokesman responded that the state was putting the
welfare of unauthorized immigrants
ahead of public safety.
The state lost a round in the case in
March, when Judge William H. Orrick of
the Federal District Court in San Francisco declined to issue a preliminary injunction. Judge Orrick, noting that
courts around the nation had come to
varying conclusions in similar suits,
said “the issues in this case will benefit
from further development.”
Professor Somin has written that at-
In January, California won a major victory, persuading a judge to block the
Trump administration’s efforts to shut
down a program that shields some
700,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation. The Supreme
Court turned down a hail-Mary appeal
from the administration in February,
and the case will now make its way up
the court system in the usual way.
Mr. Trump ended the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or
DACA, last September, calling it an unconstitutional use of executive power by
his predecessor and reviving the threat
of deportation for immigrants who had
been brought to the United States illegally as young children.
But Judge William H. Alsup ordered
the administration to maintain major
pieces of the program while legal challenges move forward, notably by requiring the administration to allow people
enrolled in it to renew their protected
status. The administration has not
sought a stay of that injunction.
Judge Alsup ruled that the administration had abused its discretion and
had acted arbitrarily and capriciously in
rescinding the program. He acknowledged that presidents have broad powers to alter the policies of earlier administrations, but said the Trump administration’s justifications for rescinding the
program did not withstand scrutiny.
In a statement last week, Mr. Sessions
expressed incredulity that the administration should not be able to rescind
what he called “an unlawful policy intended to usurp Congress’s role in passing immigration laws.”
The Ninth Circuit is set to hear arguments in the case in May, and the state’s
chances of winning in that court are
good. But the Supreme Court may well
hear an appeal, and there the state could
face headwinds.
Last month, California sued the Trump
administration over its decision to add a
question about citizenship to the forms
to be used in the 2020 census. Several
other states have filed a separate suit.
The Constitution requires an “actual
enumeration” of the nation’s residents
every 10 years. The information gathered is used to allocate congressional
seats and to disburse federal money.
“The federal government should have
an accurate count of who can legally
taching conditions to federal grants can
be at odds with federalism.
“Some conservatives may cheer
when the current administration uses
this tool against sanctuary cities,” he
wrote. “But they are likely to regret
their enthusiasm if a liberal Democratic
president uses the same tactic to force
states to increase gun control, adopt a
‘common core’ curriculum or pursue liberal policies on transgender bathroom
It is hard to say whether the state will
prevail in its suit, as much depends on
how, when and why the federal government denies funding. But there is little
question that some denials can give rise
to constitutional problems.
Top, a man arrested in an immigration raid. California’s so-called sanctuary laws aim to
protect unauthorized immigrants. Above, Yosemite National Park in California. The
administration has sued to strike down a state law on transfer of federal lands.
The next major court fight between California and the Trump administration
may involve greenhouse gas emissions.
The state has a waiver under the
Clean Air Act that allows it to enforce
stronger air pollution standards than
those set by the federal government.
Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the
Environmental Protection Agency, has
said he is dissatisfied with that state of
“California is not the arbiter of these
issues,” he said in an interview with
Bloomberg TV last month.
Last week, the agency took steps to
challenge California’s waiver. Though
the process may take some time, it is
likely to produce another clash between
the Trump administration and the state
that has emerged as its most determined foe.
California, Mr. Becerra said, is “ready
to file suit.”
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2018 | 7
Exonerated, then victimized
Megaro took more than one-third of
each brother’s compensation, according
to Mr. Brown’s court files and Mr. McCollum. Payment on the high-interest loan
took an additional $110,000. Each
brother was left with less than half of his
Mr. Megaro declined to discuss his
fees, the loans, the payments to the advocates or making Ms. Brown guardian.
In an April 2017 interview, he denied
taking advantage of his clients.
“I like these guys,” Mr. Megaro said.
“They are nice people, even if they are
mentally disabled. It doesn’t matter.”
Money meant to help
brothers after wrongful
imprisonment is dissipated
The state of North Carolina paid
$750,000 to Henry McCollum in 2015 to
compensate him for the 30 years that he,
an innocent man, spent on death row.
Seven months later, he was broke. Mr.
McCollum, who is intellectually disabled, then began borrowing money at
38 percent interest. He kept his financial
plight hidden from friends and supporters from his death row years.
But last fall, he briefly and wearily
opened up when he was handed documents showing he owed $130,000 on
$65,000 in recent loans.
“Sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t be
out here,” he said.
Mr. McCollum and his half brother,
Leon Brown, who is also intellectually
disabled, were demonized and convicted in one of the state’s most notorious rape and murder cases. Their decades in prison and their disabilities
would have made for a difficult return to
society under the best circumstances.
What happened to them after their release proved even more problematic. As
exonerees, they emerged with big dollar
signs on their backs. Most states compensate the wrongfully imprisoned in
amounts that can reach millions of dollars, and exonerees can also win settlements from police agencies — awards
that can attract predators.
Mr. McCollum, 54, and Mr. Brown, 50,
proved virtually helpless as hundreds of
thousands of dollars of state compensation were siphoned off by their supposed
protectors — a sister back home; a lawyer from Orlando, Fla.; a self-proclaimed advocate from Atlanta; and her
so-called business partner, a college instructor from New York City — according to documents and interviews by the
Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that focuses on the American
criminal justice system.
By the time a federal judge intervened, last spring, no trust had been set
up for the brothers, and money intended
for their care had been spent on predatory loans, exorbitant legal fees, multiple cars, women’s jewelry and children’s
Jeffrey Deskovic, an exoneree who
established a foundation to help the
wrongfully convicted, said he had advised about 60 other exonerees on how
to manage compensation and the unwanted attention it brings. The experiences of Mr. McCollum and Mr. Brown
are extreme, he said, but the underlying
dynamics are common.
“All were hit up for money by family
and friends or were targets of scammers,” Mr. Deskovic said.
The brothers’ tragic story began decades earlier. Schools had identified
Henry McCollum and Leon Brown as
mentally challenged: Mr. McCollum
read at a second-grade level when he
dropped out of high school; his younger
brother could barely read or write.
In 1983, the body of an 11-year-old,
Sabrina Buie was found in a soybean
field in Red Springs, N.C. The killer had
jammed her underwear down her throat
with a stick.
A schoolgirl’s rumor prompted detectives to interrogate the brothers, then 19
and 15, who confessed to the crime.
Both soon recanted, saying they had
been coerced, to no avail. They became
two more convictions for District Attorney Joe Freeman Britt, listed as the
deadliest prosecutor in the Guinness
Book of World Records.
A jury sentenced both to be executed,
and Mr. Brown, at 16, became the youngest person on death row. After the State
Supreme Court ordered separate retrials, Mr. McCollum returned to death row
and Mr. Brown was sentenced to life in
prison with the label of child rapist.
Then, in 2014, the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission announced that new DNA testing of a cigarette butt found at the crime scene
matched the DNA of Roscoe Artis, who
had lived next door.
While the brothers were in jail awaiting trial, Mr. Artis raped and strangled
an 18-year-old woman one mile from
where Sabrina Buie was killed. Mr. Britt
tried and convicted Mr. Artis for that
crime before he put Mr. McCollum and
Mr. Brown on trial. The police investigated Mr. Artis as a suspect in Sabrina
Buie’s murder, but never told defense
lawyers. In September 2014, a judge declared Mr. McCollum and Mr. Brown innocent, sending a packed courtroom
into pandemonium.
The brothers knew the wrongs done
to convict them. It’s less clear they understand the wrongs they have suffered
since their exonerations.
Nobody was more elated by the exonerations than Ken Rose, Mr. McCollum’s
lawyer. Mr. Rose had been visiting his
client on death row for 20 years: “Every
time I saw him, he’d say, ‘I don’t belong
here, I’m innocent, when can I go
home?’ ”
Before the brothers could qualify for
the maximum $750,000 in state reparations, Mr. Rose needed to obtain an official pardon from the governor.
In the meantime, the brothers went
home to the care of Geraldine Brown,
Mr. Brown’s sister and Mr. McCollum’s
Henry McCollum, above, who spent 30 years on death row, was freed in 2014 after DNA exonerated him and his half brother, Leon
Brown. A field, below, in Red Springs, N.C., where the body of Sabrina Buie, the 11-year-old victim in the brothers’ case, was found.
half sister. In the 30 years the men were
in prison, Ms. Brown had visited Mr.
Brown once; she had never gone to see
Mr. McCollum. She had no job or car, and
relied on funds raised by Mr. Rose’s nonprofit law center for rent and utilities.
Sometimes social workers took the men
shopping. They said they learned that if
they entrusted the sister with cash, the
bills went unpaid.
Months passed with no pardon and no
compensation. A cousin mentioned the
brothers’ plight to Kimberly Weekes, an
Atlanta woman who said she was an advocate who worked on voter registration, food drives and recycling campaigns.
After speaking with Ms. Brown, Ms.
Weekes contacted an instructor at Metropolitan College in New York who she
said was her business partner. Ms.
Weekes and the partner, Deborah Pointer, then drafted a contract for “advocacy
and civil rights.” The brothers would
owe Pointer & Weekes Inc. a cut of any
reparation: 10 percent of loans, 5 percent of state compensation and 1 percent
of lawsuit settlements.
Ms. Brown signed and Ms. Weekes
began searching for a lawyer to take
over the case. Mr. Rose soon received a
fax from Ms. Brown saying that he
should step aside and that Ms. Weekes
represented the family “in all or any of
the Civil/Litigation.”
Mr. Rose viewed the fax as nonsense.
But he didn’t view the women as cranks:
“I think they were very serious in taking
whatever they could from my clients.”
On Feb. 27, Ms. Brown and her brothers
finalized a contract with Patrick
Megaro, a lawyer based in Orlando, Fla.,
to take over from Mr. Rose and other
lawyers suing the police. Mr. Brown
signed with an “X.” The contract specified that the family owed Mr. Megaro 33
percent of awards, even if they fired
him. Legal experts said the contingency
clause probably violated state bar rules.
Ms. Weekes and Ms. Pointer secured
money for the brothers — and for themselves — from a firm that lends to plaintiffs in anticipation of a settlement or
jury award.
Mr. Megaro approved two $100,000
loans, one for each brother, with an annual interest rate of 41.6 percent and a
$5,000 fee wrapped into the principal.
The loan documents show that Mr.
Megaro authorized the payment of
$20,000 to Ms. Pointer and Ms. Weekes.
Mr. Megaro sent a letter to Mr. Rose
and the legal team suing the police, demanding their files and stating that he
alone represented the brothers. The
coup stunned the lawyers, but they
could see no way to challenge the contract.
After her $10,000 payout arrived, Ms.
Weekes made one trip to North Carolina. She said she helped the family
with shopping and found a nicer rental
home. Ms. Pointer never met the brothers. She set up a Facebook page and a petition, and had her students at Metropolitan College call the
governor’s office to demand a pardon.
In June 2015, the governor pardoned
the men. A publicist for Ms. Pointer and
Ms. Weekes touted them as “the two female power execs” behind the men’s
freedom. In September 2015, an administrative law judge approved the
$750,000 payouts to each brother. Mr.
Brown did not attend the hearing. He
had been admitted to a psychiatric facility, his seventh since his release.
In prison, Mr. Brown had had psychotic breaks, which were now getting
worse. His sister could not get him to
In North Carolina, exonerees
typically keep their entire
compensation, while their lawyers
get a cut of police settlements.
take his antipsychotic medications. She
said he had talked about being raped by
inmates and tied to his bunk by guards.
He worried that God wouldn’t forgive
him. He rocked in place and refused to
eat or drink for days.
The day before the administrative
hearing, Mr. Megaro requested that Ms.
Brown be named Mr. Brown’s guardian,
despite her inability to manage his mental illness or her own finances. Creditors
have filed at least 16 liens against her;
she has been evicted three times. Nevertheless, the guardianship was
In October, North Carolina wrote Mr.
Megaro a check for $1.5 million, half intended for each client, tax-free. Mr.
Mr. Rose, who worked pro bono on the
pardons, had planned to protect the
brothers’ money in trusts that guaranteed fixed payments for life, about
$3,000 a month each, based on the
$750,000 awards.
That has been the practice in North
Carolina: Exonerees keep their entire
compensation. Lawyers typically get a
cut of settlements with the police.
For his part, Mr. Megaro did not set up
trusts, even after admitting in court that
his clients needed protection from
“fraudsters and frivolous spending.” After taking his cut, Mr. Megaro distributed the remainder to Mr. McCollum and
began sending money to Ms. Brown, as
Mr. Brown’s guardian.
Mr. McCollum was soon broke, and he
started borrowing, with Mr. Megaro’s
approval. He would not discuss where
the money went. His brother’s finances,
supervised by the court, have more of a
paper trail. Although guardians can legally spend money only on their wards,
Ms. Brown bought women’s jewelry and
shoes, diapers and toys. Records show
she also acquired a Dodge van, 2010
Mustang, 2004 BMW and 1995 Lexus.
The court ultimately stripped Ms.
Brown of the guardianship and cut off
access to her brother’s money. At a hearing, Ms. Brown admitted she had also
asked Mr. McCollum for thousands of
dollars and had taken out a $25,000
high-interest loan in Mr. Brown’s name,
also with Mr. Megaro’s approval.
The judge found her in contempt of
court and ordered her jailed.
“Why you would take advantage of a
poor soul like that, I do not know,” the
judge said.
She conceded in an interview that she
should have never been made guardian.
When it comes to lawyers, loans and
contracts, Ms. Brown said: “I’m incompetent too. I’m not going to stand here
and lie.”
Last spring, Mr. Megaro filed court
papers saying he had reached a settlement with the Red Springs police. Each
client would be awarded $500,000.
Judge Terrence Boyle of Federal District Court announced he would not approve any settlement before determining whether Mr. McCollum was competent to sign the contract with Mr.
Megaro. Judge Boyle appointed a
guardian to investigate.
The guardian discovered the predatory loans. He learned Mr. Megaro had
not set up a trust or estimated his clients’ future medical needs. After Mr.
Megaro’s fees and loan payments, Mr.
McCollum would net $178,000 and Mr.
Brown $308,000 from the police settlement.
At the next hearing, Mr. Megaro angered the judge by repeatedly refusing
to reveal his fees for the earlier state
compensation. He insisted that Mr. McCollum was competent to hire his own
Judge Boyle zeroed in on this claim
when Mr. Rose took the stand: “Is it
your impression that the same vulnerability that subjected him to a false confession and 31 years of death row imprisonment is now operating on his claims
for recovery, that he’s subject to manipulation and control?”
Mr. Rose responded: “There’s no
question in my mind, your honor, that’s
At the next hearing, Judge Boyle declared that the brothers were incompetent and that their contracts with Mr.
Megaro were void.
The judge said he would approve the
police settlement, $500,000 for each
brother, and would determine Mr.
Megaro’s fees. Court-appointed guardians would put the money in trust and
the brothers would not be obliged to repay their loans out of the settlement.
Mr. Megaro agreed to the terms, but
the case is far from over. The State Bureau of Investigation and the Robeson
County Sheriff’s Office still face lawsuits.
Mr. McCollum lives in Virginia with
his fiancé. Last week, a judge there appointed a guardian to protect Mr. McCollum’s finances and recover any misappropriated money.
Mr. Brown lives in a North Carolina
group home, where his sister visits regularly and sometimes takes him home
on weekends. In a phone call, Mr. Brown
said he didn’t belong in a group home. “A
judge put me here,” he said. “I want my
As for Ms. Pointer and Ms. Weekes,
they said they were still owed $75,000
from the state compensation and may
sue Mr. Megaro. Asked if she had any regrets, Ms. Pointer said she was offended
by the question.
“We came into this with pure hearts to
help two brothers who had suffered,”
she said.
Joseph Neff is a staff writer for The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that focuses on criminal justice issues.
Woman sues
after rude
gesture got
her fired
She says employer
feared consequences of
action directed at Trump
A Virginia woman who lost her job with
a government contractor after she was
photographed extending her middle finger at President Trump’s motorcade last
year has sued her former employer for
wrongful termination.
Juli Briskman directed the gesture toward a string of black sport utility vehicles that zoomed by her on her bicycle
on Oct. 28, as Mr. Trump’s motorcade
was leaving Trump National Golf
Course in Sterling, Va. Reporters and
photographers in a car behind her captured the moment, which quickly spread
online and became a source of many
jokes on late-night television.
But Ms. Briskman’s employer, Akima
L.L.C., did not find it funny.
When she returned to work the next
week, she said, company executives told
her she needed to resign. Ms. Briskman,
50, had violated the company’s social
media policy on obscenity by sharing
the image on Facebook and Twitter, they
told her, according to the lawsuit filed
last week in Fairfax County Circuit
Court in Virginia.
The executives also feared blowback
from the Trump administration, Ms.
Briskman said the executives told her.
“I was fired from my job because my
employer feared unconstitutional retaliation,” Ms. Briskman said last Thursday.
“But on a larger scale, I feel that our democracy is being threatened.”
Her lawyers assert that Ms.
Briskman’s gesture was “core political
speech” protected by Virginia law and
the Constitution.
She is seeking $2,692 for two weeks of
severance she said she was promised
“I was fired from my job because
my employer feared
unconstitutional retaliation. But
on a larger scale, I feel that our
democracy is being threatened.”
but never received, as well as compensation for legal fees.
“Criticism of our leaders should be encouraged,” Ms. Briskman said Thursday
on Twitter.
Akima, which has government contracts in areas that include network operations, cybersecurity and national security, did not respond to a request for
Virginia is an at-will state, meaning
employers can freely fire an employee at
any time and for any reason. There are a
few exceptions, such as when a termination violates federal discrimination
One of her lawyers, Maria Simon, said
she believed that Ms. Briskman’s case
fell into one of the exceptions.
“Juli was on her own free time on a
Saturday and it was a peaceful protest,”
Ms. Simon said. “This was not done during work. The picture was taken of her.
She is being fired for what she was doing
peacefully on her own time.”
In an interview in November, Ms.
Briskman said she threw her left hand in
the air in a spur-of-the-moment gesture
to express her displeasure with Mr.
She said she did not know how many
people saw it, other than a Secret Service agent in a vehicle who she believed
glanced over at her.
But many people did end up seeing it.
After the photo was shared widely online that weekend, Ms. Briskman said
she posted it on Facebook and Twitter.
Neither account identified her as an employee of Akima, where she was a marketing analyst.
She decided it would be a good idea to
alert a human resources official at
Akima about the photo on Monday,
when she returned to work. She also told
her boss later that night when Jimmy
Fallon discussed the photo on “The Tonight Show.”
The next day, according to her lawsuit, company executives called her into
a meeting. A vice president of the company told her that the photo had become
a “social media tattoo” on Akima’s reputation, and she was told she was out of a
Ms. Briskman said on Thursday that
she has another job. “Whether I landed
on my feet or not is besides the point,”
she said. “It doesn’t change the fact that
they fired me in violation of Virginia policy.”
• An article in the weekend edition about
a documentary on the musician Grace
Jones omitted part of the film’s title. It is
“Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami,” not
“Bloodlight and Bami.”
• An article on Thursday about economic conditions in Hungary referred
incorrectly to the number of Hungarians who have found work in the European Union. It is as many as 350,000, not
roughly 350,000.
8 | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2018
We willingly
give away
our privacy
Pay gap’s 10-year baby window
Gulf opening between ages
of 25 and 35 never closes,
Census Bureau study finds
Today, married couples in the United
States are likely to have similar educational and career backgrounds. So while
the typical husband still earns more
than his wife, spouses have increasingly
similar incomes. But that changes, once
their first child arrives.
Immediately after the first birth, the
pay gap between spouses doubles, according to a recent study — entirely
driven by a drop in the mother’s pay.
Men’s wages keep rising. The same pattern shows up in a variety of research.
But the recent study reveals a twist.
When women have their first child between age 25 and 35, their pay never recovers, relative to that of their husbands. Women who have their first baby
either before 25 or after 35 — before
their careers get started or once they
are established — eventually close the
pay gap.
The years between 25 to 35 happen to
be both the prime career-building years
and the years when most women have
The study — a working paper published by the United States Census Bureau in November — is one of several recent papers that show that childbearing
accounts for much of the gender pay
gap. That gap has narrowed significantly over the past four decades, as
women have gotten more education and
entered male-dominated professions,
but a divide remains.
Women who have babies late typically have different career paths from
those who have them early. Those who
first give birth in their late 30s tend to be
more educated with higher-earning
jobs, while those who have babies in
their early 20s have less education and
lower earnings.
Low earners have a smaller pay gap
in general, and people who have babies
in their late 30s could have a smaller pay
gap because they are less likely to have
more than one child. But the fact that
both groups of women recover their
earnings, relative to their husbands,
suggests there is also something about
having children outside the prime career-building years that hurts women’s
pay less, no matter the occupation.
One explanation is that the modern
economy, across a variety of jobs, requires time in the office and long, rigid
hours — yet pay gaps are smallest when
workers have some control over when
and where work gets done. In high-earning jobs, hours have grown longer, and
people are expected to be available almost around the clock. In low-earning
jobs, hours have become much less predictable, so it can be hard for working
parents to arrange child care.
The issue, in general, comes down to
time. Children require a lot of it, especially in the years before they start
school, and mothers spend disproportionately more time than fathers on
child care and related responsibilities.
This seems to be particularly problematic for women building their careers,
when they might have to work hardest
and prove themselves most, and less so
for women who have already established some seniority or who have not
yet started careers.
Andrew Ross Sorkin
Women who have their first baby before their careers get started or once they are established eventually close the pay gap with their husbands, researchers found.
A crucial decade in a woman’s life
is both her prime career-building
time and when she is most likely
to have children.
Women are more likely than men to
reduce their work hours, take time off,
turn down a promotion or quit their jobs
to care for family. Even in families in
which both parents work full time, women spend almost double the time on
housework and child care. And when
women work fewer hours, they are paid
disproportionately less and become less
likely to get raises or promotions.
“This shows that the birth of a child is
really when the gender earnings gap really grows,” said Danielle H. Sandler, a
senior economist at the Census Bureau
and an author of the paper.
The study found that over all, women
earn $12,600 per year less than men before children are born and $25,100 less
It analyzed earnings for opposite-sex,
married couples who had their first
child between 1978 and 2011, using earnings records from the Social Security
Administration and data from the Census Bureau’s survey of income and program participation. It includes women
who were working two years before
their first child was born, no matter how
their hours changed afterward.
The pay gap grows larger with each
additional child. It does not begin to
shrink until children are around 10. For
most women, their pay never reaches
that of their husbands.
One surprise about the recent round
of research is that the findings have
been so similar in the United States and
family-friendly Scandinavia. The two
have very different economies and family policies, yet in both places, women’s
pay plummets after they have children.
Scandinavian nations have generous
paid parental leave as part of federal
policy, while the United States government offers none.
It might be because both types of policies — no paid leave and very long paid
leave — lead women to stop working.
Economists have found that moderatelength leaves of several months are
ideal for women to continue working.
“It seems like there could be a middle
ground,” Ms. Sandler said, “where
you’re given enough leave where you
don’t have to quit your employment, but
not so much time that you have the incentive to be out of the labor force for a
long time.”
Research has shown other policies
that might help: programs to help women re-enter the labor force; flexibility in
when and where work gets done; and
subsidized child care. It also helps if
men take time off after children are born
and spend more time on child care, studies show.
The spousal pay gap was largest for
those who had children in the 1980s. In
the 1990s, the gap appeared to shrink.
Mothers who had their first child then
were still paid less than their husbands,
but the gap started declining when the
children were around 5, and recovered
by the time they were 14.
Yet in the 2000s, the pattern reversed.
The spousal pay gap is still large when
children enter high school, and women
do not seem on track to recover their
earnings relative to their husbands. It is
unclear why. It could be because the
economy was stronger in the 1990s, because women’s labor force participation
has flattened in recent years or because
women are having babies a little later,
during the prime of their careers.
The pay gap is smaller for couples
with lower earnings and less education.
But the paper found that by the time
children were 12, the less educated
women had a gap similar to more educated ones, maybe because low-income
women are more likely to stop working
after having children.
High-earning women, by contrast,
have a bigger pay gap earlier in their
children’s lives because they have more
income to lose.
“A woman who takes off some time or
slows down or shifts into a smaller firm
will be losing out on a really high income, which her husband appears to be
getting” because he does not take time
off or shift his career, said Claudia Goldin, a Harvard economist whose research
has found the same pattern.
The group of women who had the biggest post-baby pay gap compared with
their husbands was, paradoxically,
women who earned more than their husbands before having children.
This is the opposite of what economists would predict of couples’ division
of household labor based on rational financial decision-making. But it fits with
previous research showing just how entrenched our gender roles are at home,
even as women play a bigger role in the
seemed of little consequence on Capitol
Hill in recent months as Republicans in
Congress passed a sweeping package of
tax cuts. But in a sign that Republicans
are growing concerned about the political liability of soaring deficits, the
House will vote Thursday on a constitutional amendment to require balanced
Representative Jeff Duncan, a conservative Republican from South Carolina, took to Twitter to say, “To every
House Democrat on social media today
complaining about the debt and deficit
for the first time: I look forward to seeing you vote for the balanced budget
amendment later this week. That is of
course assuming you are actually serious about addressing our debt.”
Since such constitutional amendments require two-thirds of the House
and Senate to agree, it is unlikely to pass
Congress, let alone be ratified by the
But the flurry of recent legislation is
making it difficult for Republicans to
continue blaming President Barack
Obama and Democrats for the government’s fiscal condition.
This year, lawmakers approved a twoyear budget deal that raised strict caps
on military and domestic spending by a
total of about $300 billion. That deal
paved the way for Congress to pass a
$1.3 trillion spending bill last month.
Before passing the tax overhaul and
the spending legislation, lawmakers
were already facing worrisome projections about growing deficits, driven by
increased spending on Medicare and Social Security as well as growing interest
The budget office now projects that
As Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s cofounder, faces lawmakers, millions of
people will spend the day the way they
always do: scrolling through their
News Feeds, sending each other messages and “liking” posts, oblivious to
any privacy concerns.
The reality is that when it comes to
privacy, the trade-off has already been
made: We decided long ago to give
away our personal information in
exchange for free content and the
ability to interact seamlessly with
With the latest disclosure about
Facebook’s data missteps — that the
personal information of some 87 million users had been improperly harvested and shared with a British analytics firm — politicians can scream
from the rooftops about privacy, and
they should. But the public has proved
over and over again that it doesn’t
The evidence is all too clear: After
just about every big privacy hack over
the past decade, people quickly returned to the scene of the crime, using
the same store or online site that had
been compromised. Remember the
breaches at Home Depot, Target and
Yahoo? The number of consumers who
never went back was minuscule.
Perhaps Facebook’s latest privacy
scandal — combined with its role in the
spread of false news and in foreign
interference in United States elections
— will be a turning point in consumer
behavior. But if history is any guide,
we won’t do anything differently, unless regulators take steps to save us
from ourselves.
For all the head-scratching and
criticism over Facebook’s slow response to various breaches and privacy fiascos, it wasn’t completely
irrational. The incentive for companies
to go to great lengths to protect our
data — with the exception of banks
and financial firms — just isn’t there.
Benjamin Dean, the president of
Iconoclast Tech, a technology consulting firm, and a former fellow in cybersecurity and internet governance at
the Columbia School of International
and Public Affairs, has studied some of
the biggest data hacks, poring over
companies’ financial records before
and after a breach. The financial pain
they experienced was small, he found.
“The actual expenses from the recent and high-profile breaches at Sony,
Target and Home Depot amount to less
than 1 percent of each company’s
annual revenues,’’ he wrote in a 2015
article titled “Why Companies Have
Little Incentive to Invest in Cybersecurity.’’ “After reimbursement from
insurance and minus tax deductions,
U.S. deficit fuels fears of a crisis
The United States government’s annual
budget deficit is set to widen significantly in the next few years and is expected to top $1 trillion in 2020, despite
healthy economic growth, according to
new projections from the nonpartisan
Congressional Budget Office.
The national debt, which has exceeded $21 trillion, will soar to more
than $33 trillion in 2028, according to the
budget office. By then, debt held by the
public will almost match the size of the
nation’s economy, reaching 96 percent of
gross domestic product, a higher level
than any point since just after World
War II and well past the level that economists say could court a crisis.
The fear among some economists is
that rising deficits will drive up interest
rates, raise borrowing costs for the private sector, send stock prices plummeting and slow the economy, which would
only drive the deficit higher.
“Such high and rising debt would
have serious negative consequences for
the budget and the nation,” said Keith
Hall, the director of the budget office.
“In particular, the likelihood of a fiscal
crisis in the United States would increase.”
The budget office forecast is the first
since President Trump signed a sweeping tax overhaul, then signed legislation
to significantly increase military and domestic spending over the next two
The figures are sobering, even in a political climate where deficit concerns ap-
pear to be receding. The tax overhaul,
which includes permanent tax cuts for
corporations and temporary ones for individuals, will increase the size of the
economy by an average of 0.7 percent
from 2018 to 2028, according to the budget office.
But that added economic growth does
not come close to paying for the tax
overhaul, which the budget office said
would add more than $1.8 trillion to
deficits over that period, from lost tax
revenue and higher interest payments.
Many Republicans have said the tax
overhaul would vault economic growth
over 3 percent a year for a sustained period, generating more revenue than the
tax cuts would cost. But the budget office expects the economy to grow at an
annual average rate of 1.9 percent over
the next decade. Growth would start
strong, at 3.3 percent this year and 2.4
percent next year, but then slow considerably.
And if the temporary tax cuts for individuals are extended past their scheduled expiration at the end of 2025, the
price tag for the tax overhaul would be
even greater.
Mr. Trump has talked about embarking upon “Phase 2” of tax cuts, which
could include making those individual
tax cuts permanent.
Democrats jumped on the projections
released Monday to castigate Republicans over their economic record.
“From Day 1,” the Senate Democratic
leader, Chuck Schumer of New York,
said, “the Republican agenda has always been to balloon the deficit in order
to dole out massive tax breaks to the
largest corporations and wealthiest
Americans, and then use the deficit as
Democrats on Capitol Hill pounced on deficit projections. Republicans were mostly
quiet. This fiscal year, the budget deficit is expected to total $804 billion.
an excuse to cut Social Security and
For their part, Republicans were remarkably quiet: “Without question, we
have challenging work ahead,” said
Representative Steve Womack of Arkansas, the chairman of the House
Budget Committee.
This fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30,
the budget deficit is expected to total
$804 billion, up from $665 billion last fiscal year, according to the projections. In
a decade, the red ink is expected to
reach $1.5 trillion.
The forecast is considerably bleaker
than the budget office’s projections in
June last year, before Congress ap-
proved the tax cuts and agreed to increase spending.
The $804 billion projected deficit for
the current fiscal year is $242 billion
larger than what the budget office had
expected in June. In addition, the budget office now projects a cumulative
deficit of $11.7 trillion over the next decade, an increase of $1.6 trillion from last
June’s projection for that time period.
By 2023, according to the budget office, interest costs are projected to exceed what the government spends on
the military. By 2028, interest payments
will reach $915 billion, more than triple
the interest costs last year.
The government’s mounting debt has
the deficit will top $1 trillion two years
sooner than it had expected last June.
The budget office did project economic benefits from the tax overhaul.
Analysts said the law will increase employment by 1.1 million jobs over the
next decade. The law will also raise
Americans’ wages and salaries by an
average of 0.9 percent annually, a less
optimistic projection than White House
economists offered last year when the
bill was being considered.
The budget office analysis also
projects that the law will result in interest rates that are a half percentage point
higher than they would have been without it.
In its early years, the budget office
said, the law will increase the strength of
the dollar, allowing Americans to buy
more imports and sell fewer exports to
the rest of the world — and thus, increase the national trade deficit, counter
to Mr. Trump’s desire to reduce it.
Michael A. Peterson, the president
and chief executive of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which advocates
reining in budget deficits, said the report “confirms that major damage was
done to our fiscal outlook in just the past
few months.”
Mr. Hall, the budget office director,
said that beyond a decade, the debt
would continue to rise compared with
the size of the economy. He warned of
the possible consequences if lawmakers
put off addressing the trajectory of the
government’s finances.
“The longer you wait,” he said, “the
more draconian the measures have to be
to fix the problem.”
Jim Tankersley contributed reporting.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2018 | 9
Europe caught in middle of trade battle
The disruption to world trade comes
at an unfortunate time for Europe. Recent economic indicators suggest that
the Continent’s recovery, after a decade
of crisis, is losing momentum. Industrial
production in Germany shrank 1.6 percent in February, according to official
data published last week.
But European leaders’ biggest fear
may be that Mr. Trump’s belligerent approach to trade will destroy the postwar
system for resolving conflicts, which involved getting all the parties together in
one room. Mr. Trump has already succeeded in forcing countries to beg for individual exemptions to steel and aluminum tariffs, bypassing the World
Trade Organization, the usual forum for
trade disputes.
“He has created an environment to divide countries,” said André Sapir, a senior fellow at Bruegel, a research organization in Brussels. “Maybe we will remember that 2017 was the last year of
the functioning of the multilateral system.”
It’s possible Europe might enjoy a few
short-term benefits as China and the
United States duke it out. If, for example, China were to raise tariffs on Boeing
airliners, Boeing’s European rival, Airbus, could take advantage. But positive
effects of that sort are not likely to outweigh the risks.
European companies have invested
far more in the United States over the
years than they have in China. But increasingly, China is where the action is.
Germany’s total trade with China, exports and imports together, is already
bigger than it is with the United States.
And China is the biggest single market
for companies like Volkswagen, Europe’s largest carmaker.
China is also where more German
companies are putting their money.
In a poll published Thursday, 39 percent of German companies questioned
said they planned to invest in China this
year, up from 37 percent in 2017. The
number that said they planned to invest
in North America dropped to 35 percent,
from 37 percent, according to the survey,
by the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Even so, Europe remains wary of China’s intentions. Though European leaders use tamer language, they share
A big fear is that Mr. Trump’s
belligerent approach to trade will
destroy the postwar system for
resolving conflicts.
A steel mill in Salzgitter, Germany. Although Mr. Trump’s trade threats are aimed at China, Europe is certain to suffer collateral damage if the president follows through.
some of Mr. Trump’s concerns about unfair competition from Chinese companies that receive government subsidies.
They worry that Chinese companies are
stealing European technology and accumulating too much economic power.
In recent years, Chinese investors
have snapped up European assets including Greek ports, German machinery companies and a 10 percent
stake in the automaker Daimler. The
Chinese government’s “Made in China
2025” campaign, a plan to dominate cutting-edge industry, is a threat to German companies that supply precision
machinery that the Chinese companies
are not yet able to manufacture themselves.
Leaders in Brussels, Berlin and Paris
have called for tighter scrutiny of Chinese acquisitions in Europe, though it is
unclear how tough they will be.
At the same time, Europe and the
United States have been through a lot to-
gether, most notably the Cold War. Both
are multiparty democracies with free
market economies, unlike China’s oneparty autocracy. And European and
American historical and cultural ties go
back centuries.
Still, a trade war could push Europe
closer to China.
Europe’s most immediate preoccupation is to resolve its own trade disputes
with Mr. Trump. Cecilia Malmstrom, the
European commissioner for trade, is negotiating with Wilbur Ross, the United
States commerce secretary, about winning a permanent exemption from tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. A
temporary exemption to the tariffs expires May 1.
Ms. Malmstrom and other European
leaders have also made plain their unhappiness with what they see as Mr.
Trump’s crusade to undermine the
World Trade Organization as the arbiter
of trade conflicts. They may see China
as a potential ally in efforts to preserve
the W.T.O., of which China is also a member. “The E.U. believes that measures
should always be taken within the World
Trade Organization framework which
provides numerous tools to effectively
deal with trade differences,” a representative for the European Commission
said in a statement.
For the moment, there is little Europe
can do but hope that Mr. Trump’s bluster
is just a tactic to win concessions from
China, and that no trade war will break
out. There are few other good options.
Mr. Sapir of Bruegel argues that, longer term, Europe should push for reforms
of the trade body to respond to American criticism that the organization is too
slow moving, and has failed to curb unfair competition by China. Mr. Trump is
unlikely to take much interest in fixing
the global trade system rather than ignoring it, Mr. Sapir said, but it’s still
worth a try.
“That is the only structural solution,”
Mr. Sapir said. “Otherwise, we will always be caught in between.”
China’s leader counters Trump
President Xi calling
for ‘dialogue rather
than confrontation’
President Xi Jinping on Tuesday portrayed China as committed to opening
its economy, as he presented an alternative vision to President Trump’s calls for
tariffs and restricting trade with China,
urging “dialogue rather than confrontation.”
Speaking publicly for the first time
since the beginning of an escalating
trade dispute between his country and
the United States, Mr. Xi implicitly took
aim at the Trump administration.
“The Cold War mentality and zerosum game are increasingly obsolete,”
Mr. Xi said. “Only by adhering to peaceful development and working together
can we truly achieve win-win results.”
Mr. Xi also pledged to rebuff efforts to
impose barriers to world trade, saying
that “China’s door of opening up will not
be closed and will only open up even
Mr. Xi highlighted areas where China
was willing to give, including pledging
to ease restrictions on imported cars by
the end of the year as well as repeating
open-ended promises to give foreigners
greater access to the country’s financial
markets — promises officials have
made in past. He also pledged to
strengthen intellectual property rights,
addressing one of Mr. Trump’s main
His comments struck a tonal contrast
with the more combative language coming from Mr. Trump and his administration.
“We should respect each other’s core
interest and major concerns and follow
a new approach to state-to-state relations, featuring dialogue rather than
confrontation,” he said. “We live in a
time with an overwhelming trend toward openness and connectivity.”
The speech, delivered at the Boao
Forum for Asia in China’s southern island province of Hainan, was the latest
effort by China to position itself as advocating free trade and reliable growth.
That pitch runs counter to longstanding
accusations that China violates trade
rules and intellectual property rights. It
also comes as Mr. Xi tightens his grip
over his country’s political, social and
economic life.
Indeed, some were skeptical that
China would follow through on its
pledges of openness.
“People will say about the Boao
speech: ‘Show me.’ We heard this in Davos last year,” Joerg Wuttke, former
president of the European Chamber of
Commerce in Beijing, said in referring
to Mr. Xi’s 2017 speech at the World Economic Forum.
But in a time when the United States’
policies have threatened to upset the
stability of the world order, China’s
growing confidence and its verbal support of global trade rules offers other
countries a potentially appealing alternative to Mr. Trump’s rhetoric.
Mr. Xi’s speech came just days after
the United States and China exchanged
tit-for-tat tariff threats that have ignited
worries of a global trade war. Trump administration officials have accused
China of forcing foreign companies doing business there to give up trade secrets as part of Beijing’s effort to retool
the Chinese economy and create companies that can compete with American rivals.
On trade, China has tried to project a
balanced tone. It retaliated quickly last
week after the United States detailed
proposed tariffs it wanted to levy on
about $50 billion in Chinese-made
goods, saying it would match Washington’s efforts dollar for dollar. At the same
time, Chinese officials have said they
want to avoid a trade war and negotiate.
President Xi Jinping on Tuesday in Boao,
China. He implicitly took aim at the
Trump administration on trade.
On Tuesday, Mr. Xi appeared to have
given Mr. Trump a concession by pledging to “significantly” lower tariffs on imported automobiles by the end of the
year. Just hours before, Mr. Trump had
taken to Twitter to complain about China’s 25 percent tax on imported automobiles.
But Mr. Xi’s pledges to open China’s
banking, auto and manufacturing sectors are not entirely new. Last November, China said it would ease and eventually remove limits on foreign ownership
of banks and other financial firms, but
financial firms have not received details
about when and how that will happen.
Even as trade disputes cast a shadow
over the world’s two biggest economies,
Chinese officials see the increasingly
strident tone from Washington as an opportunity. Since Mr. Trump was elected
in 2016 and pursued an America First
policy that has alienated some allies, Mr.
Xi and other Chinese leaders have tried
to fill the void left by America’s declining
presence on the world stage.
Mr. Xi traveled to Davos for the first
time last year to call for global leadership on climate on the eve of the inauguration of Mr. Trump, who has publicly
questioned the science behind climate
change. Chinese officials were also front
and center at the most recent Davos
gathering, in January, where they cited
China’s progress and called for more international cooperation on several
That call for unity could also help calm
some uneasiness resulting from Mr. Xi’s
recent power grab. Last month, China
formally ended term limits for its top
leader, which could make Mr. Xi the
country’s chief for life. That move has
caused jitters among some in the United
States and other countries.
At Boao, Chinese officials have promoted Mr. Xi’s leadership as providing
an opening to carry out ambitious plans
to overhaul the country’s economy and
make it more open.
On trade, government leaders and
Chinese corporate chiefs have sought to
strike a delicate balance: playing down
worries about the effect on China of a
protracted trade fight, while warning
that the global economic system could
be disrupted by a trade war and that the
United States risks falling behind.
“If a trade conflict becomes a trade
war, the U.S. is more likely to be hurt
worse by this than China,” Dai Xianglong, a former governor of the People’s
Bank of China, said on Monday at the
opening of the forum.
Other countries could be hit as well,
said Fan Gang, the director of China’s
National Economic Research Institute.
China is just a piece of a complicated regional supply chain across Asia, he said,
citing the example of the Apple iPhone.
Any retaliation from the United States
would have a ripple effect from South
Korea to Malaysia, Japan and Taiwan.
“There is definitely a big uncertainty
with this trade conflict. We started with
trade friction and now conflict and possibly a war,” Mr. Fan said. “This trade
war has an impact on the whole supply
chain, and this is the systematic risk for
China right now,” he added.
Many Chinese business executives
tried to strike a similar balance in their
remarks at Boao. But some warned that
the technological focus of Mr. Trump’s
proposed tariffs could further split the
American and Chinese technology
worlds — and, ultimately, stifle innovation.
“International standards come from
Germany, America and Japan,” said
Dong Mingzhu, the chairwoman of Gree
Electric Appliances, a leading Chinese
manufacturer. “We in China don’t have
any — but I believe we will have international standards.”
But not everyone has been as diplomatic. On Monday evening Jack Ma, the
billionaire co-founder of Alibaba,
warned that his pledge to create a million jobs in the United States could be
threatened by a trade dispute between
China and the United States.
“If China and the U.S. have good relations, we could create not just a million,
but 10 million jobs.”
But, he added, “If they don’t have
good relations, we’re going to destroy 10
million jobs.”
Cao Li contributed reporting from Boao,
and Jane Perlez from Beijing.
The Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg was scheduled to give congressional testimony on Facebook’s handling of user data.
We give up our privacy willingly
the losses are even less.”
When Google first introduced Gmail
in 2004, this newspaper raised questions about the prospect of users objecting to a service that displayed
advertising to them based on the content of their email: “For many, the
bottom line appears to be that sifting
through personal email with an eye
toward making a sale is beyond the
Well, now more than 1.2 billion people have active accounts with Gmail, a
service whose entire business model
rests on Google being able to sift
through your private messages. Apparently, it wasn’t beyond the pale.
For consumers, the transaction has
always been pretty clear: The convenience of free service in exchange for
information that allowed advertisers to
specifically target us. The distinction in
that equation was motivation; we
figured our data was being used by
benign companies seeking to sell us
that pair of sneakers we wanted, not
by bad actors trying to influence our
political votes — or incite violence in
places like in Myanmar.
None of this is to suggest that Facebook handled these situations properly; it clearly did not. And over the
past week, Mr. Zuckerberg has repeatedly said as much to just about anyone
who would listen.
The problem is that Mr. Zuckerberg
has been apologizing for years for all
sorts of breaches of trust with his
“community.” And guess what? After
each mea culpa, the Facebook community has grown.
Notwithstanding the #DeleteFacebook campaign, the only way companies are going to change the way they
protect our data is if users abandon
them — or if regulators step in.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to
behavioral change — besides our
insatiable desire for all things “free” —
is that it is unusual for most consumers to truly feel the effects of a
massive data breach. For most people,
it’s a theoretical
problem — the way
The incentive some people view
for companies climate change or
the growing national
to go to great
lengths to
The people who
protect our
are most directly
data just isn’t
affected by privacy
breaches are those
who have had money
stolen or whose
email was exposed. But in huge data
breaches, those people are a statistical
Amy Pascal, the former top film
executive at Sony Pictures, has an
authentic claim to being a victim of a
data breach; she suffered national
embarrassment when her emails were
revealed, and she later lost her job.
John D. Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s
campaign chairman, also had his email
compromised, to deleterious effect.
But most people don’t feel it.
Over the weekend, I asked users on
Twitter whether they had deleted their
Facebook accounts or reduced their
activity on it. Nearly 700 users replied.
For every one saying they were spurning Facebook, there were more saying
they were continuing to use it.
“Understand nothing in social media
is truly private and recognize that in
most areas of life someone is trying to
sell you something or affect your behavior,” one user wrote. Another
wrote: “People love the service they
get from Facebook but forget nothing
is free. We pay for using it by providing our demographic and personal
information so that they can sell ads to
businesses to better understand and
target us. We benefit by getting more
relevant ads sent to us.”
And while a number of people said
they were distancing themselves from
Facebook, they cited not only privacy
concerns but said the service had
become less relevant to them.
In 2010, Mr. Zuckerberg was asked
about privacy during an interview. His
answer reflected where we are right
“People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information
— and different kinds — but more
openly with more people,’’ he said.
“And that social norm is just something
that’s evolved over time. And we view
it as our role in the system to constantly be innovating and updating
what our system is, to reflect what the
current social norms are.”
Unless our social norms change,
Facebook and other sites probably
won’t, either.
10 | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2018
The horse and rider make it look easy during their dressage freestyle routine, as if they are true dance partners
Riding in rhythm
Power and grace
At the dressage final
of the 2017 F.E.I.
World Cup, Laura
Graves, far left, and
her 16-year-old
Dutch Warmblood,
Verdades, finished
second to Germany’s Isabell
Werth, left, and her
mare, Weihegold
The top equestrians in the
world will be gathering in
Paris starting Wednesday
The pair glides across the arena, showing off intricate moves and footwork in
perfect synchronization with the music.
Olympic figure skating? Ballroom
dance? No, it’s the dressage freestyle.
Eighteen of the top equestrians in the
world will be in Paris starting Wednesday and through the weekend at the
F.E.I. World Cup for the dressage final,
an event that showcases the freestyle to
music. The World Cup will also have the
show jumping final, where American
McLain Ward will defend his title
against 38 other riders. F.E.I., the International Federation for Equestrian
Sports, will stream the events live.
“I love, love showing it because the
stands are always packed, and the people are always excited,” said Laura
Graves, one of two American dressage
riders who will be performing. Graves
competes with her 16-year-old Dutch
Warmblood, Verdades, known around
the barn as Diddy.
In the freestyle, The horse and rider
perform a sequence of required movements set to music that show technical
mastery, but they can do them in any order. A panel of judges awards scores
from 0 to 10 for each figure, based on the
quality of execution, with certain movements earning double points.
Equally important is the artistic
score, factoring in the choreography
with the music. The end result for the
audience? The horse and rider appear
to be dancing.
When you watch a horse and rider
perform well, “it really gives you goose
bumps,” said Shelly Francis, the other
American rider performing at the World
Cup. “That’s what I love about riding the
freestyles — I’m an artistic type of person, and I love doing it.”
The freestyle is “probably the most
exciting for the nondressage person.”
said Hallye Griffin, managing director
of dressage for the United States Equestrian Federation. “It’s a way to really
show the personality of the rider and the
Orchestral arrangements are common, but any type of music is allowed for
the programs, which last five-and-a-half
to six minutes. Most combine several
pieces of music to match the three gaits:
the walk, the trot and the canter.
“I have an oddly unique type of freestyle music that’s very different from
everybody else’s,” Francis said. Her program features an a cappella arrangement that she performs with Danilo, a
14-year-old Hanoverian owned by Patricia Stempel.
“You have to find the music that your
horse likes,” Francis said. “I messed
around with a lot of music for Danilo because he was oddly sound sensitive. He
would get very nervous with certain
Francis has worked with the equine
choreographer Marlene Whitaker for
several years to create musical programs for her horses. With Danilo, they
tried several styles, and he settled down
with the a cappella piece.
“I was looking for something light
that would not crash and bang and surprise him,” Whitaker said. “This is the
one initially that we thought was least
threatening for him.”
Francis introduced Danilo to the freestyle slowly to allow him to adjust to the
sound and charged environment.
“So the first year we did it a little
bland. And then the next year we added
in a few more little bits of piano and a
clash or two here and there. You know,
something to touch it up and make it a
little lively,” Francis said.
Whitaker said they had added a few
more surprises for the World Cup, “but
it’s all just fun and engaging.”
Graves said she loved showing the
freestyle, but she hated practicing and
making them. She has worked with Verdades since he was imported to the
United States at 6 months and has done
all of his training, including two previous World Cup performances and a
team bronze at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Graves was on a tight budget in her
early years of performing at the international level. But after the World Equestrian Games in 2014, “we sat down and I
said, ‘O.K., this horse really is a star, and
we need to find a piece of music that’s
his,’” she said.
Graves worked with Terry Ciotti
Gallo, a freestyle choreographer, to create a new routine for the duo before the
2016 Olympics in Rio.
“The music that we originally chose
got scrapped,” Ciotti Gallo said. “It was
music that Laura liked, and I agreed
with it, but he is such a powerful horse,
when the trainer saw it, she thought that
we really needed something to exemplify the power that he had.”
Then they increased the degree of difficulty and made a floor plan that highlighted the things the horse did well.
Ciotti Gallo is not a rider, but for
nearly 30 years she has worked with
equestrian athletes to create freestyle
programs. She got her start when she
was helping coach elite gymnasts in
Southern California, and a former student asked for assistance.
But creating an equestrian routine is
different from working with human athletes, she said. With people, you choreograph to the music, but with horses you
“edit the music to match the animal to
make it look as if it’s dancing.”
While the music is put together to
sync with the horse, the equine partner
also learns the routine.
“I practice it enough so they’re a little
bit familiar with it,” Francis said. “Be-
fore I ride it in a competition I practice it
maybe a few more days so that they’re
kind of familiar and so that I know it and
then I listen to the music until it drives
me crazy, so that I know every single little tiny transition and beat in it.”
Graves and Verdades finished second
at the 2017 World Cup behind Germany’s
Isabell Werth and her mare, Weihegold
OLD. But Graves beat Werth in a subsequent competition and enters this year’s
World Cup in a strong position. “It’s very
exciting going in, and my horse has
never been in better shape,” she said.
At 59, Francis has been a consistent
competitor in the top levels of dressage
for many years, riding as an alternate at
the World Equestrian Games and at the
Rio Olympics, but this will be her first
World Cup performance. “The biggest
part of it for me is training the horses
and then being able to go out and show
them off, and I love the freestyle, because it’s a place where you can show
them off, but you still have to be accurate and precise,” she said.
Frequent flying horses
Transporting the animals
is part of a lucrative and
esoteric industry
In the front 268 seats of a Boeing 747 flying from Amsterdam, passengers ate
tins of chicken and rice with chocolate
pudding for dessert, bound for New
York City on April 3. In the back of the
plane, nine other passengers ate simpler fare as they crossed the Atlantic:
bales of hay with an apple chaser.
Unbeknown to almost every passenger on board, a group of European
horses bound for America stood in the
cargo hold of the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight, hidden on the other side of a
small door behind the flight attendants’
station. In specially designed shipping
containers were six chocolate bays and
two dappled grays. One of the horses
was a russet chestnut color with the inflight attitude of a spoiled child to match,
a snort of indignation for every jolt of
Equine frequent fliers, like these fuel
an industry of horse transport that sees
them sent around the world for sale and
competition, a lucrative and esoteric logistics business with a unique set of
challenges. Some are European horses
Loud noises and changes in cabin pressure make
takeoff and landing stressful for the animals.
like the ones bound from the Netherlands for new homes in America and
elsewhere. Others are show jumpers
simply on their way to work: horses
with competitive, say, Olympic aspirations, must travel the world from event
to event to rack up qualifying points.
Several of the horses were being
shipped by the Dutta Corporation, a specialty logistics company that sends
about 6,000 equines a year across the
globe, contracting with commercial airlines. This year, for example, Dutta, a
New York-based company, is shipping
seven horses competing in the F.E.I.
World Cup Finals this week in Paris.
For horses on the way to competitions, one of the biggest concerns is a
universal scourge of travelers – jet lag,
said Tim Dutta, the chief executive and
founder of the company. Working with
veterinarians from the United States
Olympic team, Mr. Dutta has calibrated
the travel experience to minimize the
impact on the horses’ performance.
Feeding is scheduled for the home time
zone, even if the horses are heading
from America, to places like Hong Kong,
where the company shipped the United
States team horses for the 2008
Olympics in Beijing. Lights are kept on
to keep the horses’ circadian rhythms
constant on night flights, and the cabin
is chilled to to keep them fresh, he said.
“Horses are just like people, they
need what we need,” Mr. Dutta said.
Shipping can coast thousands of dollars, and horses competing internationally may fly about a dozen times a year.
From Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport to
New York City’s Kennedy International
Airport for example, the fee is about
$7,500 per horse, including quarantine
once in America. Horses must have an
equine passport displaying their vaccinations to fly and be microchipped.
The nine on the KLM flight began
their journeys on separate farms in the
Netherlands, Sweden and Germany,
picked up by drivers in brightly colored
trucks with painted emblems of horses
and airplanes on the side. The haulers
pulled up just after noon at Schiphol’s
Animal Hotel, a warehouse with little to
distinguish it as one of Europe’s largest
animal transport hubs other than a
small mural with a polar bear riding a
forklift into an airplane on one wall.
Jeroen Strik, a horse breeder and
shipper, led Karieta Texel, a 3-year-old
Dutch Warmblood mare, off the truck
and into the warehouse where she was
to join horses like Cadillac Boy, a Rheinländer gelding, inside a roughly 15-foot
by 20-foot shipping container that can
hold three horses. The box, where they
would remain for the entire journey,
would later be winched into the plane.
“Every horse is worth millions to the
owner,” from the tiny children’s ponies
to the Olympic mounts he has hauled,
Mr. Strik said, running his hands over
Karieta Texel’s forehead. “I travel with
them each the same way.”
Beside him, the young mare vibrated
with anxiety at the unfamiliar setting,
her coat sopping with sweat. But she
strode easily into the cargo container to
join the other horses, taking a deep
breath once she was shoulder to shoulder with her traveling companions.
Handlers lowered bars separating the
horses and secured the animals in place.
Next, the three boxes containing the
horses were lugged by a trolley to the
tarmac. A faint smell of wood shavings
and eau d’ farm permeated the main
cabin of the 747 as passengers stuffed
their carry-on luggage into overhead
bins, most unaware that outside, a
goose-necked, cranelike apparatus was
maneuvering the boxes of horses from
the gate into the rear of the aircraft.
In the last row of the plane, close by
the hatch that leads back to the animals
in cargo, sat the grooms, or horse
handlers, including Sebastian Bolse,
whose family breeds show jumpers in
Paderborn, Germany. When Mr. Bolse,
29, sold his first horse abroad, to South
Korea, he feared for the horse on its
5,000-plus mile journey. So two years
ago he first signed up as an in-flight
groom with Guido Klatte International
Horse Shipping Services, a German
company, to see for himself, traveling
with several ex-Olympic dressage
horses bound from Amsterdam to Chicago. His duties included making sure
the horses were supplied with fresh hay
and providing them with buckets of water to sip every few hours.
“You feel a little bit afraid because it is
something absolutely new for the horse,
and most the time you as the seller don’t
know about how it works exactly,” Mr.
Bolse said. “I thought it was more
stressful for the horse, and it’s really a
relaxed flight. When they are in the sky,
it’s really smooth traveling.”
On the KLM flight, Mr. Bolse was
called upon to soothe the rambunctious
chestnut during takeoff. Takeoff and
landing can be the most stressful parts
of the journey, when the animals can become startled by loud noises and the
change in cabin pressure. As the plane
gained altitude, the horses settled down
inside the vaulted cavern of the cargo
hold, poking their muzzles back into
their hay when the plane leveled off. The
horses are not sedated, but sedatives
are available in an emergency, said Mr.
With a picture on his homescreen of a
leopard he once flew and a bag with each
horse’s passport at his side, Cor Fafiani,
oversaw the shipment as KLM’s animal
flight attendant, a job he has had for 38
years, he said. His work is not limited to
horses, Mr. Fafiani said, recalling the
time he calmed a rare okapi on its way
from Jakarta, Indonesia, to Florida. He
banished a hysterical zookeeper to the
front cabin and turned out the lights to
recreate the jungle setting of its habitat,
instantly placating the creature, he said.
Horses, Mr. Fafiani said, fly best with
the same common sense, no-nonsense
approach: soft words, calm movements
and plenty of alfalfa, soaked in water to
promote hydration.
As the jumbo jet descended over
Queens, Mr. Fafiani, Mr. Bolse and the
other grooms headed to the darkened
cargo hold, where they stood in separate
shipping containers offering soothing
words to the horses. A few stamped
hooves and rolled their eyes with nervousness at the sensation of changing
altitude. As the rumble of the landing
gear deploying shook the plane, several
leaned their heads into the handlers’
chests, pressing their muzzles against
them hard for comfort. With a jolt, the
horses landed in New York City.
As the plane taxied across the runway, the horses were back to quietly eating hay.
Ready for takeoff
Transporting horses,
like racehorses or
show jumpers, can
be tricky when they
need to travel long
distances for competitions. Above left,
a horse arriving in
Shanghai in 2015.
Above, Cadillac Boy,
a Rheinländer
gelding, on a recent
flight to New York.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2018 | 11
Conquest V.H.P.
12 | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2018
Check that snake’s pedigree
cials in exporting countries vouch for
suspect shipments. Then American
agents have no recourse, Mr.
Souphanya said. “If they’re certifying
that their permit process is correct, we
can’t tell them, ‘Hey, you guys are
wrong,’” he said. “It’s a difficult thing to
Many prized reptiles
and amphibians sold as pets
are snatched from the wild
In the market for a new pet? Maybe
something a bit exotic? For many consumers, reptiles and amphibians are
just the thing: geckos, monitors, pythons, tree frogs, boas, turtles and many
more species are available in seemingly
endless varieties, many brilliantly colored, some exceedingly rare.
Exotic reptiles and amphibians began
surging in popularity in the early 1990s
in the United States, Europe and Japan.
From 2004 to 2014, the European Union
imported nearly 21 million of these animals; an estimated 4.7 million households in the United States owned at least
one reptile in 2016.
But popularity has spawned an enormous illegal trade, conservationists say.
Many reptiles sold as pets are said to
have been bred in captivity, and sales of
captive-bred animals are legal. But in
fact, many — perhaps most, depending
on the species — were illegally captured
in the wild.
“It’s the scale that matters, and the
scale is huge, much bigger than people
realize,” said Vincent Nijman, an anthropologist at Oxford Brookes University in
“Most conservationists are only focusing on charismatic species, but this
trade is likely having a massive impact
on ecosystems and populations of
lesser-known animals.”
At a meeting last summer, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species — a treaty meant to
regulate wildlife trade — identified 18 instances in which reptiles and amphibians are exported as captive-bred, but
most likely are not.
The examples included Indian star
tortoises from Jordan; red-eyed tree
frogs from Nicaragua; and savanna
monitors from Ghana and Togo.
“These are the most blatantly questionable cases where we think something must urgently be done,” said Mathias Loertscher, head of the Cites animals committee. “They are all critical.”
Dozens of countries export reptiles
and other exotic animals labeled captive-bred, but Indonesia stands out. For
instance, at least 80 percent of the 5,000plus green pythons annually exported
from the country as captive-bred were
caught illegally in the wild, depleting
some island populations, according to a
study published in the journal Biological
As far back as 2006, Mark Auliya, a
conservation biologist at the Zoological
Research Museum Alexander Koenig in
Bonn, Germany, surveyed 11 registered
reptile breeding facilities in Indonesia
and found that just one could plausibly
be used for anything other than “laundering” animals that had been caught in
the wild.
“At most of these facilities, there was
just no evidence of captive breeding actually happening,” he said. “And at the
one where breeding efforts did take
place, that only applied to one to three
species kept at their facility.”
Five cases listed by Cites involve
Indonesia, more than any other country.
Officials here are now required to prove
that certain animals to be sold abroad,
including Oriental rat snakes and Timor
monitors, are genuinely captive-bred. If
they fail to do so, Cites may bar international trade in those species.
“If you have international demand for
a species that only has a very small distribution, you have a big problem,” Dr.
Auliya said.
In 2016 alone, the Indonesian authorities authorized the export of more than
four million captive-bred animals.
(About two-thirds were geckos.) Officials declined to say how many actually
had been sent abroad. Many were almost certainly taken from the wild, according to Dr. Nijman and other experts.
Plucking animals from the wild is
cheaper and easier than setting up a
breeding operation. This is especially
true for low-profit animals like Tokay
geckos, which are traded in such high
volumes that it would not make economic sense to invest in breeding them.
Generally, villagers capture animals
in forests and fields and sell them to
middlemen who hand them off to legal
reptile farms. The owners of the farms
acquire government paperwork certifying that the animals were captive-bred.
In Indonesia and other countries, the
most skilled traffickers in illegal wildlife, then, never need to smuggle anything. They simply apply for a permit
and then ship the animals legally.
Many of the legal breeding facilities are
in and around Jakarta. When I visited a
registered reptile farm recently, I found
an innocuous suburban home.
Three nervous attendants admitted
me. Rows of neat white tanks, each holding a small green tree python, lined several walls.
A couple of turtles crawled around a
dismal enclosure, some monitor lizards
stared at me from concrete cages, and a
fat green frog huddled at the bottom of
an outdoor sink.
The staff declined to allow me to tour
the rest of the facility and said that the
owner could not be reached.
That facilities like this one could legally produce the number of reptiles it
exports is highly unlikely, conservationists say.
Over the past few years, for example,
Indonesia granted companies permission to export around three million captive-bred Tokay geckos annually.
Geckos caught in the wild can easily
be purchased for a few cents. But to
breed just one million geckos, Dr. Nij-
man has calculated that a trader would
need 140,000 females, 14,000 males,
30,000 incubation containers, 112,000
rearing cages and hundreds of staff
If this were done in a single facility, it
would be “the size of an aircraft hangar,”
he said.
“Yes, it’s theoretically possible to do
this,” he added. “But I haven’t seen any
evidence that such breeding facilities
Once a wild-caught animal is exported with paperwork certifying it as
captive-bred, officials in countries like
the United States have little choice but
to allow it in.
“The infiltration of traffickers into the
legal trade has been happening for
many years,” said a senior specialist at
the United States Fish and Wildlife
Service, who asked not to be identified
for fear of retaliation from supervisors.
“These animals show up here in declared shipments, and we can’t do anything about it.”
While customs agents can challenge a
permit’s legitimacy, they have little
chance of success, the official said. The
cases are time-consuming and difficult,
and prosecutors do not want them.
“Wildlife inspectors will open up a box
and find a bunch of beat-up, scarred tortoises that are 20 or 30 years old, with
permits saying they were bred in captivity in 2016,” the official said. “But they’re
forced by their supervisors to stamp
‘clear’ on the permit.”
The problem is largely enabled by abuse
of Cites itself. The treaty prohibits
species that are threatened with extinction from being commercially traded
across borders unless they were bred in
These rules apply to the international
pet trade, an important source of revenue for many developing countries.
Each year, officials in exporting nations
issue quotas for millions of captive-bred
birds, amphibians, small mammals, insects and corals. Many are protected in
their home countries, and their trade is
governed by the treaty.
Reptiles are especially popular. Collectors often have an almost fanatical
devotion to their animals and are willing
to pay handsomely, especially for rare
specimens, said Sandra Altherr, cofounder of Pro Wildlife, a nonprofit conservation group in Munich.
Unethical traders know that snakes,
lizards and turtles do not rank as high
priorities for law enforcement and
customs officials in Western countries.
“Reptiles are coldblooded and not
fluffy, and the broad public — including
politicians — just isn’t interested in
them,” Dr. Altherr said. “Yet there are
huge, dangerous loopholes that allow
for open trading of the rarest species.”
In addition, many exotic pets originate in developing countries where officials may lack the expertise, motivation
or resources to verify that animals
about to be shipped out were in fact bred
in captivity.
“We don’t have a lot of resources here
in the U.S., and developing countries
have even less than we do,” said Phet
Souphanya, a senior special agent at the
Fish and Wildlife Service. “Corruption
also goes into the permitting issue —
there’s always someone to be bribed.”
Once imported, exotic pets can be legally sold or re-exported. “Those involved in trafficking wildlife know the
loopholes inside out,” said Chris Shepherd, executive director of Monitor, a
nonprofit organization that works to reduce illegal and unsustainable wildlife
“They know enforcement agencies’
hands are tied, and they know policy
change in favor of conservation does not
happen overnight.”
“If you have international
demand for a species that only
has a very small distribution,
you have a big problem.”
In the United States, the government
has to legally prove that animals are not
captive-bred — something that is “very,
very difficult to do,” said Marie Palladini, an associate professor at California
State University, Dominguez Hills.
In the early 1990s, when Dr. Palladini
was a field special agent at the Fish and
Wildlife Service, she helped lead an investigation of pythons smuggled from
Papua New Guinea and sold in the
United States as captive-bred.
The American importer was eventually prosecuted, but that success required two years of exhaustive work. It
also benefited from Papua New Guinea’s willingness to collaborate.
Many countries, however, do not even
bother responding to inquiries sent by
American agents. And sometimes, offi-
Even when it can’t be proved, there may
be other telltale signs that animals were
caught in the wild.
Some species sold as captive-bred are
notoriously difficult to coax into reproducing. For example, leading zoos
around the world over the decades have
managed to breed fewer than 50 echidnas — egg-laying mammals that resemble hedgehogs.
Yet in 2016, Indonesian officials permitted PT Alam Nusantara, a Jakartabased company, to export 45 “captivebred” echidnas. Fish and Wildlife Service records show that as early as 2011,
the exporter was shipping echidnas labeled captive-born to the United States.
That echidnas appeared on the quota
list at all suggests that traders had a
hand in setting it, Dr. Nijman said.
“Having been present at those meetings, it felt more like a negotiation between what traders wanted, what regional forestry departments could offer,
and what was within acceptable limits
for the scientific authority,” he said.
Because of this, he continued, a country’s list of permissible captive-bred animals often appears scattershot and illogical. Reisinger’s tree monitors and
spotted tree monitors, for example, suddenly appeared on Indonesia’s list of
permissible exports in 2015, only to be
removed the following year.
“It doesn’t make sense to invest years
and years into breeding a particular
species, only to then suddenly no longer
export it and change to another
species,” Dr. Nijman said.
The more likely explanation? “New
entries represent new demand for rare
species,” he said. That is, traders received a request, lobbied for the species
to be added to the list and exported animals found in the wild — then moved on.
Indonesia’s quota list is tightly regulated and based on scientific data, according to Prama Wirasena, head of captive breeding at Indonesia’s Ministry of
the Environment and Forestry.
Regional forestry officials visit farms
each month to count breeding adults, he
said, and those figures are used to set
export quotas and to ensure the numbers add up. “We are certain there is
‘laundering,’ but it is less than 10 percent
overall,” Mr. Wirasena said.
But a recent study in Conservation Biology suggests that number is considerably higher. The authors found that
Indonesia’s quotas for 99 of 129 species
were calculated based on biologically
impossible parameters.
Mr. Wirasena protested that the
study’s authors used low-quality data
and made faulty calculations. But others
at the ministry offered an alternate explanation.
“I know sometimes the traders bribe
my staff,” said Wiranto, director general
of conservation of natural resources and
ecosystems. (Like many Indonesians,
he uses only a first name.)
Mr. Wiranto, who was recently promoted, said he hopes to implement reforms, among them a more robust monitoring system that includes unannounced farm inspections, corruption
prevention measures and collaborative
investigations with importers like the
United States. “We’re in the process of
learning from past mistakes, so in the future we won’t do the same,” he said.
“The most important thing is to keep
wildlife in its habitat.”
Meaningful change will not come unless violators are systematically shut
down, said Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution
and author of “The Extinction Market.”
“Doing that, you can produce competition among farmers to move toward
better practices,” she said. “Those who
behave better will come to control a
greater share of the market.”
But slowing the traffic in animals stolen from the wild cannot be the sole responsibility of developing countries.
“We can’t only point fingers at Asia and
Africa,” Dr. Altherr said, “if we’re one of
the main destinations.”
Whale DNA suggests a lot of interspecies mingling
A humpback whale, above, is similar to a sei whale. While a sei whale is a close relation
to a blue whale, the blues are not closely related to the humpbacks.
For years, scientists have disagreed
about which species of baleen whale
came first and how the toothless species
were related.
Body structure suggested one set of
relationships; molecular data suggested another.
Now, researchers in Germany and
Sweden have sequenced the DNA of six
of the living species, of which there are
at least 10.
The relationships are so complicated,
however, that the senior researcher,
Axel Janke, said “family tree” is too simple a metaphor. Instead, the species, all
part of a group called rorquals, have
evolved more into a network, sharing
large segments of DNA with even distant cousins. Scientists expressed surprise that there had been so much intermingling of baleen whales, given the variety of sizes and shapes.
Humpback and sei whales are similar
A blue whale shares about 30 percent of
its fellow baleen whales’ genetic heritage.
in size, for instance — both usually
measuring longer than a school bus.
But the blue whale, which is the largest animal to ever live and would dwarf
an 18-wheeler, is a close relation to the
sei, and relatively distant from the
humpback, according to the study, published recently in the journal Science
Advances. The North Atlantic right
whales and bowhead whales split from
the other baleens about 28 million years
ago; among the rorquals, minke whales
seem to have begun diverging more
than 10 million years ago; and the blue
and sei whales split from the remaining
around five million years ago, the study
The study of rorqual evolution also
defies simple Darwinian theories. Darwin explained that many species
evolved when they became isolated
from others of their kind, accumulating
genetic differences and adapting to a
new environment. But whales roam the
entire ocean, where there are no geographic barriers that would isolate
them. Instead, Dr. Janke said, at least
some of the whale speciation has been
driven by personal taste.
The genomic analysis showed mating
across species, with animals sharing
more than 30 percent of one another’s
genetic heritage, even though their an-
cestors had diverged about 10 million
years ago.
The idea that species can intermingle
is new, even to scientists, said Scott Edwards, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University, who was not involved in
the new study.
“Ten years ago, most evolutionary biologists would have assumed that a
species is a species, especially when
they look phenotypically distinct,” Dr.
Edwards said. Recent research has
shown that humans, too, are the product
of species intermingling. There are
varying levels of Neanderthal and
Denisovan DNA across the human population.
This study is the first genome-scale
comparison of so many baleen whales,
but it won’t be the last. A team at the
American Museum of Natural History
in New York and the University of California, Riverside, is preparing an even
more detailed analysis of more animals
and species.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2018 | 13
The fox in the stroller
want to tame
wild animals,
but wild
don’t want
to be pets.
Margaret Renkl
Contributing Writer
NASHVILLE Being the caretaker of two
very old dogs means frequent visits to
the pet-supply store, but I don’t take
my geriatric companions with me
when I shop. In their sore, deaf, rickety
old age, they are made anxious by the
bounding puppies in the store’s cavernous fluorescence. For my dogs, a
pet supermarket is a chamber of tortures.
And not just for them. I recently
crossed the main aisle just as a big
man pushing a stroller was coming the
other way. The screen covering the
stroller was zipped, and the animal
inside had scooted back as far as it
could, so I caught only a glimpse.
“That dog looks just like a fox,” I said.
“It is a fox,” the man said.
I squatted for a closer look. The
creature inside drew back, but I could
see it well enough to know it truly was
a fox.
The man must’ve read the shock in
my eyes because he immediately
volunteered that he owned the fox
legally, having bought it as a kit from a
licensed breeder.
This fox, a male, was
Few animals
skittish, he said, but
in the wild
his family also
can tell the
owned an arctic
female who was
between the
friendly with strangers. Standing in line
person who
a few minutes later, I
feeds them
saw him leaving
and any
with a woman pushrandom
ing a white fox in an
person in the
identical stroller.
same vicinity.
I’ve seen many
foxes in the wild —
and heard their
unnerving screams in the dark — and I
was sure the man was breaking the
law. But I was wrong.
It’s illegal here in Tennessee to
remove any animal from the wild to
keep as a pet, but wild animals raised
in captivity are a different matter. With
proof that the animal came from a
legal source, it is indeed permissible to
keep a captive-bred fox as a pet, as
long as it doesn’t belong to a species
native to Tennessee. The fox in the
stroller looked like a full-blooded Tennessee gray fox to me, but he must
have been some other state’s fox.
“Taming” a wild animal is merely
the act of desensitizing it to human
beings, and the temptation to do it
seems hard-wired into us. In high
school I taught a backyard squirrel to
climb into my lap and take shelled
pecans from my fingers. Last summer,
I would whistle for the bluebirds every
time I filled the mealworm feeder, and
they would fly to the nearest branch
and wait impatiently for me to step
away. To anyone watching, it must
have looked as though I had a pet
family of bluebirds, and in truth it
would have been no great trick to
move my chair closer and closer to the
feeder until those birds were eating
from my hand. But doing that would
have been an unkindness.
Few animals in the wild can tell the
difference between the person who
feeds them and any random person in
the same vicinity. My tame squirrel
used to startle my mother by creeping
up and licking her toes while she hung
laundry on the line. A tame animal can
easily be mistaken for rabid by people
who don’t know it’s tame. That’s why
“pet” animals in the wild are often
And orphan animals raised by humans are the most vulnerable of all,
unprepared to live in the wild, if they
even survive a clueless rescuer’s attempt to feed them.
As a college student in Alabama, I
was trained as a wildlife-rescue volunteer, and I raised many orphaned
animals — rabbits, squirrels, opossums, songbirds — and released them
according to a protocol designed to
give them the best chance at survival.
These days if I find an injured bird or
an orphaned squirrel, I take it to
Walden’s Puddle, the wildlife rehabilitation center closest to me.
And yet all over social media, I see
images of cute baby animals being
reared by well-meaning people who
have found a cottontail rabbit’s nest
and assumed the little bunnies to be
orphaned, or fledgling birds assumed
to have fallen from the nest. In most
cases, the babies are fine and the
anxious parents are nearby, just waiting for the bumbling humans to leave
them alone.
These wild animals may eventually
be tamed, but they’ll never be domesticated. A tamed animal might seem
affectionate, but it maintains all the
normal propensities of its species, and
its offspring will not exhibit any inherent friendliness toward humans — the
babies will need to be tamed all over
again. Domesticated animals, by contrast, have been selectively bred for
human companionship across thousands of years.
It’s possible to domesticate foxes, as
Russian scientists in Siberia have
proved — a story fascinatingly told by
Lee Alan Dugatkin and Lyudmila Trut
in “How to Tame a Fox (and Build a
Dog).” But it takes many generations
to do so. Some offspring don’t exhibit
the traits of domesticated animals
despite nearly 70 years of selective
I sympathize with the desire to bring
wild animals into the human sphere.
Every spring, I sit outside near the
safflower feeder in the sun of a Sunday
afternoon, as still as I can manage, and
a tufted titmouse will invariably land
in the tree next to me, hopping closer
— limb to branch to deck rail to chair
back — until finally she is sitting on
my head. I thrill to feel her tiny passerine claws scrambling against my
scalp. I try not to yelp when she yanks
out my hair to line her nest.
But the best way to love a wild animal is to leave it in the wild, a world
that coexists with our own but is always apart from ours. I can’t shake the
image of that fox in the pet store — its
lowered head and averted eyes, the
intelligence of its ears, the delicate
precision of its paws.
What a magnificent animal, revered
since the earliest days of human culture for its cleverness and wiles. What
a terrible fate, to be zipped up in a
nylon stroller and wheeled between
the electric fences and the rhinestone
flora, fauna,
politics and culture in the American
Assad knows what he can get away with
carefully. He
wouldn’t use
weapons if
he thought
it would
his regime.
Faysal Itani
A year ago, the United States launched
59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air
base in retaliation for the government
of President Bashar al-Assad’s use of
chemical weapons against his own
population. Almost exactly a year later,
Mr. Assad seems to have once again
unleashed a chemical agent on the
besieged suburbs of Damascus, killing
Will President Trump decide, again,
that the use of chemical weapons is
intolerable and respond with missiles?
Perhaps. But it won’t matter. When it
comes to Syria, Washington is incoherent and, ultimately, disinterested. Mr.
Assad knows this. He also knows that
as long as there isn’t prolonged, focused American military action, his
regime can survive. He rarely puts
himself in real danger. For years, he
has carefully balanced his aggression
and brutality with strategic patience.
This has served him well with the
United States; it most likely will again
in the latest crisis.
Mr. Assad is a careful watcher of the
signals from Washington and he understands America’s appetites and
anxieties in the Middle East. He likes
what he’s seen recently.
Just a week before this latest chemical attack, Mr. Assad heard President
Trump announce that American troops
would be leaving Syria “very soon,”
and that Syria would become someone
else’s problem. A few weeks before
that, Rex Tillerson, then the secretary
of state, announced that the United
States would essentially be staying in
Syria indefinitely and sought nothing
less than Mr. Assad’s removal. Then
Mr. Tillerson was fired.
Given this chaos, contradiction and
incoherence, it’s little surprise Mr.
Assad feels confident enough to use
chemical weapons. In fact, he probably
believes he can wait out limited strikes
by an ambivalent president. He knows
this because throughout the years he’s
learned that the United States and its
allies don’t have the appetite or commitment to hold him accountable for
his serial obscenities. That means he
can engage in periodic acts of extreme
aggression and wait for the inevitable
international outcry and limited backlash to pass.
Waiting out halfhearted enemies is a
key Assad survival tool.
In 2003, Mr. Assad watched the
United States invade neighboring Iraq
and pull its fearsome dictator out of a
hole in the ground. Mr. Assad worried,
briefly, that he might be next. But
rather than trying to placate the Americans by ending his support for terrorist groups or his alliance with Iran, he
instead waited for the United States to
exhaust itself in Iraq. (He helped
speed up that exhaustion by funneling
extremists to Iraq.) Sure enough, the
United States not only spared Mr.
Assad — it left Iraq and went home.
In 2005, Prime Minister Rafik Hariri
of Lebanon was assassinated in Beirut.
The Syrian regime and its allies in
Hezbollah were suspected. The United
States responded with extreme diplomatic pressure, eventually forcing the
Assad government to end Syria’s
29-year occupation of Lebanon. But
Mr. Assad wouldn’t be so easily discouraged.
His government reinfiltrated Lebanon through intelligence assets and
local allies. He knew that the United
A rescue worker carried a child following an alleged chemical weapons attack last week
in the rebel-held town of Douma, near Damascus, Syria. Dozens choked to death.
States was growing tired of the Middle
East as the Iraq war went sour. So
rather than end his interference in
Lebanon, he gradually deepened it. An
international tribunal investigating the
assassination shifted its attention from
the Syrian regime to individual
Hezbollah members.
Soon enough, Mr. Hariri’s son Saad,
the new prime minister, swallowed his
dignity and visited Mr. Assad in Damascus. He was not the only erstwhile
foe to mend fences. President Nicolas
Sarkozy of France hosted Mr. Assad as
a guest of honor on Bastille Day in
2008, despite France having previously
accused him of killing Rafik Hariri, a
French ally.
In 2009, John Kerry went to Damascus and hailed the Syrian presi-
dent as “an essential player in bringing
peace and stability to the region.” Mr.
Assad had waited out yet another
passing storm of Western hostility,
which was replaced by outright friendship, without sacrificing his interests
in Lebanon.
When the civil war began in Syria in
2011, President Barack Obama called
on Mr. Assad to step down. At times, it
seemed that the United States might
even try to make that happen. But Mr.
Assad took steps to protect against an
American intervention. He allowed the
Islamic State to flourish, essentially
creating a dilemma for the Americans:
Would they rather have the jihadists
take over Syria? So long as the Islamic
State existed, Mr. Assad was safe — all
he had to do was wait. Not only was he
spared, but also the United States
obliged him by fighting the Islamic
State while letting him continue his
war on the opposition unobstructed.
As the Islamic State weakened, life
grew dangerous again for Mr. Assad.
Not only did the group’s defeat eliminate the “Assad or the jihadists” dilemma, but it also coincided with a new
administration in Washington that is
bent on “rolling back” the influence of
Mr. Assad’s main ally, Iran. However,
despite Mr. Tillerson’s announcement
of an indefinite American military
deployment in Syria, President Trump
soon signaled the United States would
beat the Islamic State and get out of
This most likely won’t be the United
States’ last word on Syria. The latest
chemical attacks could force Washington’s hand once more, leading Mr.
Trump to try to prove that his “red
lines” matter. If so, Mr. Assad will wait
out any American response, knowing it
will not aim to endanger his regime’s
survival. And then he will resume his
conquest of Syria. (Though it’s also
possible that the policy machine in
Washington is too dysfunctional to
decide on and execute a strategy.)
American policymakers like to say
that Mr. Assad has not won the war
because much of Syria is occupied by
foreign powers, its economy and cities
are in ruins and its regime is an international pariah. But Mr. Assad does
believe that he is winning, that he will
take his country back eventually and
that a wave of airstrikes or cruise
missiles will not change that. Who can
blame him?
a senior fellow at the
Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center
for the Middle East.
14 | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2018
Gender transition and the Pentagon
Nathaniel Frank
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
After chemical
weapons kill
dozens of
Syrians, the
president must
face up to the
of ending
the slaughter
A world grown numb to the slaughter of civilians in
Syria has been roused in the last 48 hours by photographs on social media of lifeless men, women and children in the rebel-held town of Douma, many with white
foam coming from their mouths and nostrils, victims of
chemical weapons. Outraged Western nations blame
President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and demand retaliation.
Russia and Iran, Mr. Assad’s callous enablers, have
denied that he has once again used these horrific weapons on his own people. But Douma is surrounded by
Syrian forces, whom experts have blamed for most of
the 85 chemical attacks in the country over the past five
years. Syria had a major chemical weapons program
before pledging to surrender it after chemical attacks in
2013, a commitment it failed to fully honor.
President Trump took limited military action against
Syria after a chemical weapons attack last year, largely
ignored the issue after that and then last week surprised
his military commanders by announcing plans to soon
withdraw 2,000 troops in the fight against the Islamic
State. Mr. Trump vowed on Sunday on Twitter that there
would be a “big price to pay” for the latest killings, estimated at up to 70 people dead, according to aid groups.
But the president should know by now that tough talk
without a coherent strategy or follow-through is dangerous.
What to do next in Syria is a crucial test for Mr.
Trump, who has shirked America’s traditional leadership
role. He has tried to seem like a macho leader who
would aggressively use American power where President Barack Obama wouldn’t, while talking about
pulling out of the Middle East and walking away from
international commitments.
With such inconstancy, he will not be able to stop the
violence in Syria, and with no clear, unified plan with the
Western allies, he will only empower Mr. Assad.
Mr. Trump needs to work with the other major powers
on a broad plan that could force Mr. Assad, Russia and
Iran to end the carnage and be held accountable. The
United Nations Security Council needs to recommit to
the Chemical Weapons Convention’s ban on such weapons, authorize experts to verify who was responsible in
Douma and create an independent investigation that
could lead to prosecution in a tribunal like the International Criminal Court.
If the Syrian regime’s guilt is determined, the United
States should impose tough new sanctions, like a freeze
on financial assets, as well. If military action is considered, Congress — which has long avoided its constitutional war-making responsibilities — needs to approve
it. If a Russian veto prevents Security Council action,
then Mr. Trump needs to work with our allies, through
NATO or otherwise.
The timing isn’t great — Mr. Trump’s newly appointed
national security adviser, John Bolton, only showed up
for his first day at the White House on Monday, and his
secretary of state nominee, Mike Pompeo, hasn’t been
confirmed — but this work is too important to wait. The
use of poison gas, a war crime under international law,
has been integral to Mr. Assad’s scorched-earth drive to
regain control of the last rebel-held areas. As Mr. Trump
said on Monday, “We cannot allow atrocities like that.”
During a Security Council briefing on Monday, Nikki
Haley, the United States ambassador, lamented that
chemical weapons were becoming “normalized” and
argued “Russia could stop this senseless slaughter” in
Syria if it chose to.
“Only a monster targets civilians and then ensures
that there are no ambulances to transfer the wounded.
No hospitals to save their lives,” she said. “No doctors or
medicine to ease their pain.”
Ms. Haley called for the appointment of an expert
group to investigate the attack, demanded humanitarian
access to Douma and warned that if Russia continued to
block Security Council action, “the United States will
After each new atrocity, Mr. Trump and others tend to
blame Mr. Obama, because Mr. Obama “did nothing” to
enforce his red line against chemical weapons after an
attack near Damascus in August 2013.
In those days, Mr. Trump wasn’t a fan of military
action, either, warning Mr. Obama against it. Once president, though, he made a different choice and, operating
under dubious legal authority, sent cruise missiles to
strike a Syrian airfield last year after the attack on Khan
But lacking a plan to keep up the pressure, his one-off
military operation failed to deter Mr. Assad from using
chemical weapons; there have been at least seven other
attacks this year. Now, the military option is back on the
Mr. Assad, President Vladimir Putin of Russia and
Iran’s leaders came to believe that they could do what
they wanted in Syria; Mr. Trump reinforced that when
he called for the early withdrawal of the 2,000 troops
He further reinforced a sense of impunity every time
he exempted Mr. Putin from direct criticism for Russia’s
reprehensible behavior. So it was significant that Mr.
Trump finally drew a line, saying in a tweet, “President
Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad.”
The question is what comes next.
What does it mean to be transgender?
A Pentagon report released last
month, recommending that most transgender Americans be disqualified from
military service or forced to serve in
their birth gender without full health
care, has renewed debate over this
Is a person less fit to serve if he or
she has a medical diagnosis of gender
dysphoria — significant distress over
an incongruity between one’s birth sex
and gender identity? Does welcoming
such people threaten the cohesion of
an organization like the military?
In its unsigned report, the Defense
Department argues it does. Its main
rationale is that people with a history
of gender transition or dysphoria have
higher odds of mental health conditions that unacceptably raise the risks
of harm to unit cohesion, lethality, good
order and overall readiness.
The Pentagon concedes that gender
dysphoria is treatable, but asserts
there is “considerable scientific uncertainty and overall lack of high-quality
scientific evidence demonstrating the
extent to which transition-related
treatments” address the symptoms
associated with gender dysphoria. The
report mentions the high suicide rates
of the transgender population as a
central reason for its ban.
Yet the Pentagon is wrong.
Mounds of scholarly studies stretching back decades — and with increasing volume and quality in recent years
— have been conducted on whether
gender transition resolves the symptoms of gender dysphoria. That re-
search reveals an overwhelming consensus that transgender people who
have adequate access to health care
can and do function effectively.
The What We Know Project, a research initiative I lead at Cornell’s
Center for the Study of Inequality,
recently completed one of the largest
comprehensive literature reviews to
date on the well-being of people who
underwent gender transition (which
typically involves some combination of
hormone therapy and surgery). The
advantage of this
approach is that a
global database
of scholarly
search returns the
full universe of rereveal that
search on a given
topic, making it less
likely that results are
people who
have access to biased by the selective use of outlier
health care
Our findings make
it indisputable that
gender transition
has a positive effect
on transgender well-being. We identified 56 studies published since 1991
that directly assessed the effect of
gender transition on the mental wellbeing of transgender individuals. The
vast majority of the studies, 93 percent, found that gender transition
improved the overall well-being of
transgender subjects, making them
more likely to enjoy improved quality
of life, greater relationship satisfaction
and higher self-esteem and confidence,
and less likely to suffer from anxiety,
depression, substance abuse and suicidality.
Only four studies (7 percent) reported mixed or null findings, and
none found that the transitioning creat-
ed more harm than good. Despite
recent media focus on anecdotes about
“transgender regret,” actual regret
rates across numerous studies were
minuscule, generally ranging from 0.3
percent to 3.8 percent. Our review of
primary research confirmed the positive findings of at least 16 previous
literature reviews.
The research shows that gender
transition improves well-being, and
that it can redress the specific health
conditions that the military claims are
its primary concern, particularly suicidality. A 1999 United States study
found a “marked decrease of suicide
attempts” and substance use in its
postoperative population. In a 2014
British study, gender transition “was
shown to drastically reduce instances
of suicidal ideation and attempts.” The
study reported that “67 percent of
respondents thought about suicide
more before they transitioned and only
3 percent thought about suicide more
Research suggests that gender
transition may resolve symptoms
completely. A 2016 literature review by
scholars in Sweden concluded that,
most likely because of improved care
over time, transgender “rates of psychiatric disorders and suicide became
more similar to controls,” and that for
those transitioning after 1989, “there
was no difference in the number of
suicide attempts compared to controls.” The corollary is also true: Another study found that withholding
hormone treatment from transgender
people increased the risk of depression
and suicide.
While transgender people can still
face disproportionate stresses after
transition, research suggests that
stigma and discrimination are primary
causes of such “minority stress.” That’s
all the more reason we should provide
treatment and social support rather
than exclusion and barriers to care.
Suicide and mental health challenges do not, of course, define transgender people, many of whom are just
as healthy as their peers. There are
other populations that are plagued by
suicide, including the military community itself. Children of military members are at much higher risk for suicidal ideation than both the general and
the transgender population. Yet children of service members are not
barred from enlisting, despite these
higher risks. This suggests a double
standard in which transgender people
are singled out for unequal treatment
not because they present an unacceptable risk but simply because of bias.
The studies we reviewed, like all
research, have methodological limitations. It’s virtually impossible, as well
as unethical, to conduct randomized,
controlled trials on transition care
because of the small size of the transgender population and because it
would require withholding treatment
from those who need it.
Yet even with these limitations, the
quality and quantity of research on
gender transition are robust, showing
unmistakably that it’s highly effective.
The only way to call this kind of a
consensus “uncertainty” is to ignore all
the research that doesn’t support a
specific agenda, which appears to be
just what the Pentagon did.
is director of the What
We Know Project at Cornell’s Center for
the Study of Inequality, and author of
“Awakening: How Gays and Lesbians
Brought Marriage Equality to America.”
Jennifer Sims. a transgender United States Army captain, in 2017. Research shows gender transition can redress health conditions, such as suicidality, that concern the military.
The failures of anti-Trumpism
David Brooks
WACO, TEX. Over the past year, those
of us in the anti-Trump camp have
churned out billions of words critiquing
the president. The point of this work is
to expose the harm President Trump is
doing, weaken his support and prevent
him from doing worse. And by that
standard, the anti-Trump movement is
a failure.
We have persuaded no one. Trump’s
approval rating is around 40 percent,
which is basically unchanged from
where it’s been all along.
We have not hindered him. Trump
has more power than he did a year
ago, not less. With more mainstream
figures like H. R. McMaster, Rex Tillerson and Gary Cohn gone, the administration is growing more nationalist, not
We have not dislodged him. For all
the hype, the Mueller investigation
looks less and less likely to fundamentally alter the course of the administration.
We have not contained him. Trump’s
takeover of the Republican Party is
complete. Eighty-nine percent of Republicans now have a positive impression of the man. According to an NBC
News/Wall Street Journal poll, 59
percent of Republicans consider themselves more a supporter of Trump than
of the Republican Party.
On trade, immigration, entitlement
reform, spending, foreign policy, race
relations and personal morality, this is
Trump’s party, not Reagan’s or anyone
A lot of us never-Trumpers assumed
momentum would be on our side as his
scandals and incompetences mounted.
It hasn’t turned out that way. I almost
never meet a Trump supporter who
has become disillusioned. I often meet
Republicans who were once ambivalent but who have now joined the
Trump train.
National Review was once staunchly
anti-Trump, and many of its writers
remain so, but, tellingly, N.R. editor
Rich Lowry just had a column in Politico called “The Never Trump Delusion” arguing that Trump is not that
big a departure from the Republican
The surest evidence of Trump’s
dominance is on the campaign trail. As
The Times’s Jonathan Martin reported,
many Republicans, including Ted Cruz,
are making the argument that if Democrats take over Congress, they will
impeach the president. In other words,
far from ignoring Trump, these Republicans are making defending him the
center of their campaigns.
In red states, as Josh Kraushaar of
the National Journal noted, Republicans compete to see who is the most
Trumpish. In Indiana, the men vying
for the Republican Senate nomination
underline their support for the trade
war. One candidate has a slogan, “De-
feat the elite,” while another promises
to “Make America Great.”
Even in blue states, Republicans
refuse to criticize the man. In districts
across Southern California, 11 Republican House candidates were asked
about their positions on various issues.
Seven of them refused to answer any
question concerning Trump, and the
four who did were strongly supportive.
Democratic anti-Trumpers had
better hope they win in 2020, because
their attacks have only served to entrench Trumpism on the right. Meanwhile, if Republican
were an army, they’d
the president
be freezing their
requires a
buns off in Valley
Forge tweeting over
and over again that
these are the times
that try men’s souls.
Why has Trump dominated? Part of
it is tribalism. In any tribal war people
tend to bury individual concerns and
rally to their leader and the party line.
As late as 2015, Republican voters
overwhelmingly supported free trade.
Now they overwhelmingly oppose it.
The shift didn’t happen because of
some mass reappraisal of the evidence; it’s just that tribal orthodoxy
shifted and everyone followed.
Part of the problem is that antiTrumpism has a tendency to be insufferably condescending. For example, my
colleague Thomas B. Edsall beautifully
summarized the recent academic analyses of what personality traits supposedly determine Trump support. Trump
opponents, the academics say, are
open-minded and value independence
and novelty. Trump supporters, they
continue, are closed-minded, changeaverse and desperate for security.
This analysis strikes me as psychologically wrong (every human being
requires both a secure base and an
open field — we can’t be divided into
opposing camps), journalistically
wrong (Trump supporters voted for the
man precisely because they wanted
transformational change) and an epic
attempt to offend 40 percent of our
fellow citizens by reducing them to
psychological inferiors.
The main reason Trump won the
presidency is that tens of millions of
Americans rightly feel that their local
economies are under attack, their
communities are dissolving and their
religious liberties are under threat.
Trump understood the problems of
large parts of America better than
anyone else. He has been able to
strengthen his grip on power over the
past year because he has governed as
he campaigned.
Until somebody comes up with a
better defense strategy, Trump and
Trumpism will dominate. Voters are
willing to put up with a lot of nonsense
for a president they think is basically
on their side.
Just after the election, Luigi Zingales
wrote a Times op-ed on how not to fight
Trump, based on the Italian experience
fighting Silvio Berlusconi. Don’t focus
on personality or the man, Zingales
advised. That will just make Trump the
people’s hero against the Washington
caste. Focus instead on the social problems that gave rise to Trumpism.
That is the advice we anti-Trumpers
still need to learn.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2018 | 15
My parakeet loves RuPaul
Kaitlyn Greenidge
Contributing Writer
Obamacare’s very stable genius
Paul Krugman
Front pages continue, understandably,
to be dominated by the roughly 130,000
scandals currently afflicting the Trump
administration. But polls suggest that
the reek of corruption, intense as it is,
isn’t likely to dominate the midterm
elections. The biggest issue on voters’
minds appears, instead, to be health
And you know what? Voters are
right. If Republicans retain control of
both houses of Congress, we can safely
predict that they’ll make another try at
repealing Obamacare, taking health
insurance away from 25 million or 30
million Americans. Why? Because
their attempts to sabotage the program
keep falling short, and time is running
I’m not saying that sabotage has
been a complete failure. The Trump
administration has succeeded in driving insurance premiums sharply
higher — and yes, I mean “succeeded,”
because that was definitely the goal.
Enrollment on the Affordable Care
Act’s insurance exchanges has also
declined since 2016 — with almost all
the decline taking place in Trump
administration-run exchanges, rather
than those run by states — and the
overall number of Americans without
health insurance, after declining dramatically under Obama, has risen
But what Republicans were hoping
and planning for was a “death spiral”
of declining enrollment and soaring
costs. And while constant claims that
such a death spiral is underway have
had their effect — a majority of the
public believes that the exchanges are
collapsing — it isn’t. In fact, the program has been remarkably stable
when you bear in mind that it’s being
administered by people trying to make
it fail.
What’s the secret of Obamacare’s
stability? The answer, although nobody
will believe it, is that the people who
designed the program were extremely
smart. Political reality forced them to
build a Rube Goldberg device, a complex scheme to achieve basically simple goals; every progressive health
expert I know would have been happy
to extend Medicare to everyone, but
that just wasn’t going to happen. But
they did manage to create a system
that’s pretty robust to shocks, including the shock of a White House that
wants to destroy it.
Originally, Obamacare was supposed
to rest on a “three-legged stool.” Private insurers were barred from discriminating based on
pre-existing condiThe
tions; individuals
were required to buy
insurance meeting
has held up
minimum standards
— the “individual
mandate” — even if
they were currently
healthy; and subsiefforts.
dies were provided
to make insurance
Republicans have, however, done
their best to saw off one of those legs;
even before they repealed the mandate, they drastically reduced outreach
efforts in an attempt to discourage
healthy Americans from enrolling.
The result has been that the population actually signing up for coverage is
both smaller and sicker than it would
otherwise have been, forcing insurers
to charge higher premiums.
But that’s where the subsidies come
in. Under the A.C.A., the poorest Americans are covered by Medicaid, so
private premiums don’t matter. Meanwhile, many of those with higher incomes — up to 400 percent of the
poverty line, or more than $95,000 for
a family of four — are eligible for sub-
sidies. That’s 59 percent of the population, but because many of those with
higher incomes get insurance through
their employers, it’s 83 percent of those
signing up on the exchanges. And
here’s the thing: Those subsidies aren’t
fixed. Instead, the formula sets the
subsidy high enough to put a limit on
how high premium payments can go as
a percentage of income.
What this means is that of the 27
million Americans who have either
gained coverage through the Medicaid
expansion or purchased insurance on
the exchanges, only about two million
are exposed to those Trump-engineered premium hikes. That’s still a lot
of people, but it’s not enough to get a
death spiral going. In fact, for complicated reasons (“silver-loading” — don’t
ask), after-subsidy premiums have
actually gone down for many people.
And that leaves the G.O.P. very, very
From the beginning, Republicans
hated Obamacare not because they
expected it to fail, but because they
feared that it would succeed, and
thereby demonstrate that government
actually can do things to make people’s
lives better. And their nightmare is
gradually coming true: Although it
took a long time, the Affordable Care
Act is finally becoming popular, and
the public’s concern that the G.O.P. will
kill it is becoming an important political liability.
What this says to me is that if Republicans manage to hold on to Congress, they will make another all-out
push to destroy the act — because
they’ll know that it’s probably their
last chance. Indeed, if they don’t kill
Obamacare soon, the next step will
probably be an enhanced program that
lets Americans of all ages buy into
So voters are right to believe that
health care is very much an issue in
the midterm elections. It may not be
the most important thing at stake —
there’s a good case to be made that the
survival of American democracy is on
the line. But it’s a very big deal.
On the morning after Thanksgiving, I
woke up to a text from my boyfriend. He
was spending the holiday with his family in New Jersey while I was with mine
in Massachusetts. It was a picture of a
parakeet in a blue wire cage, the recognizable brick wall of our living room in
the background. “Meet our new daughter” was all he wrote.
When we first got together and were
getting to know each other, I asked him
about the pets he’d had growing up.
“Cats, I guess. But I also had a bird,” he
said. And then he paused. “I loved her so
much, I nearly squeezed her to death. I
was just a kid. I didn’t know the strength
of my own hands.”
At the time, I found this admission
charming. When he mentioned his
intention of buying a bird for himself a
few months later, I did not take it seriously. I assumed he said it in the same
spirit that I say to him, every few weeks,
“I’m going to start walking around the
block after dinner instead of watching
But here was the bird on the screen of
my phone, and then a series of half
apologies and justifications. I showed
them to my family. My brother-in-law,
who has been with my sister for 20
years, said, in his understated way,
“That’s a very bold move for a man to
“You can name her,” my boyfriend
said. “I want you to name her.” I knew
this was manipulation — something I
used to view as a cardinal sin. But I have
learned, to my surprise, that close
relationships rely on at least a small
amount of mutual manipulation to
sustain them. So I texted back. “Her
name is Nina, like Nina Simone.” And
then, after a beat, another message
from me: “She’s yours, though. I’m not
taking care of her.”
When I was growing up, we had pets
all the time. Hamsters, cats, dogs. When
I was 10, we moved into our first apartment after my parents’ divorce. My
mom told us we could get a cat, and so
we did — Otis. He would play with me
for hours, watching a dancing ribbon.
That summer, as we watched the Democratic National Convention, he consented to wear a boater and tie, and we
made him a little “Clinton ’92” placard.
All four of us — my sisters, my mother
and myself — fell deeply in love with
So it was very traumatic when my
mother sat us down early one morning,
just before we were supposed to leave
for a long-planned vacation. We had
been saving up money for months for
this vacation. Instead, my mother said
gravely, “I have some bad news.” Otis
had died. He had the habit of chasing
laundry into the dryer, and that particular night, my mother hadn’t noticed his
last frolic with a load of towels. After a
beat she said, “We should probably get
going on that trip.”
My mother was not heartless. But she
was also completely exhausted, and
defeated by a life that seemed to continually snatch the one good thing she was
able to do for her
daughters out of her
One great
hands. We went on
thing about
that vacation, weeppets is telling
ing, and when we
yourself that
returned she told us
they share
we could get another
cat — this time a
your taste.
kitten, from the shelter, who ended up so
sickly we had to wash him by hand with
dish soap. He passed, too, and so did the
next cat. Then my mother took in three
kittens from a relative whose cat had
just given birth.
I deigned to name one of them Ophelia, mostly because I was a dramatic
snob at that point and it seemed fitting
to name this cat after a famous lost girl
of literature. Ophelia, however, was a
boy, with an undescended testicle, who
responded to this misfortune in life by
spraying all of my clothing with his
scent. That year I was a freshman in a
new school, the only black girl in my
class, and stank of cat urine because we
were too poor to buy a new coat, and
once that smell gets into one piece of
clothing, it is difficult to remove. As you
can imagine, it was a very lonely year.
After that, I gave up on animals.
Caring for an animal is such a
strange act. It requires devotion and
sacrifice for a being that will never call
your name, whose thoughts you can
never be sure of. We convince ourselves that we know the desires of our
pets, but isn’t part of the allure of animals that they are not fellow human
beings, that what they are asking of us
is something completely different from
what a family member or a friend or a
lover asks?
Nina is a good bird, I will admit. She
won me over a few weeks after she
joined our household. My boyfriend
works at a school and leaves at 5 a.m.
Most mornings, it is just Nina and me,
usually doing the dishes from the night
before. To distract myself, I play podcasts. I can unequivocally say Nina is a
RuPaul fan. Whenever she hears his
voice, she trills and tries to engage him
in conversation. I began to do what
humans who keep pets always do — I
imagined she found his voice fascinating for the same reason I found his
voice fascinating. “Nina is a queen!” I
excitedly texted Charlie on his lunch
“But she’s lonely,” he countered when
he came home. This despite the fact that
when I pull up YouTube on our computer, its algorithm now defaults to a string
of videos with titles like “6 plus hours of
budgie calls” and “How to get your
parakeet to love you.” “I can’t give her
the attention she needs,” he said sadly.
The next time I left town, another
message: “Don’t freak out.”
The new bird’s name is Baldwin. My
boyfriend gave him that name, to ensure
they’d get along. As I write this, Nina
and Baldwin are sharing a perch, flapping their wings at each other in a dance
I only half understand.
is the author of the
novel “We Love You, Charlie Freeman.”
The French do plenty to protect Jews
Anti-Semitism is a touchy subject
here, in large part because the prejudice appears to run highest among
some French people with Muslim origins, who are subject to discrimination
themselves. A young man with this
background — and another man he met
in prison — are accused of killing Ms.
That has put French schools on the
front lines. There are occasionally
stories of classrooms in immigrant
neighborhoods where teachers try to
give required lessons about the Holocaust but students shout them down
with attacks on Israel or Jews.
Policymakers say teachers need
more training in how to turn these
tense encounters into “teachable moments” in which students can express
their beliefs and teachers can help the
class to discuss and deconstruct them.
But French teachers don’t always
encourage open discussion. Instead,
they tend to lecture students on tolerance and values, which experts say has
little effect.
And until now, combating antiSemitism in France has centered on the
Holocaust. Students regularly tour
Auschwitz and visit memorials. Sarah
Gensburger, a sociologist who curated
a 2012 exhibition at Paris’s city hall on
the thousands of Jewish children who
were deported from this city and murdered between 1942 and 1944, said most
visiting class groups came from two
heavily immigrant districts in northern
Paris. She said the students emerged
profoundly shaken.
But that’s not enough, Dr. Gensburger said. “We’ve been developing
more and more programs, places,
meant to transmit the memory of the
Holocaust as a way to build citizenship
and tolerance,” she said, yet the government still counts hundreds of antiSemitic incidents each year, and many
more probably go unreported.
“You can bring people to Auschwitz
or wherever you want, but it will not
change the everyday social networks
and dynamics they live in,” she said.
These dynamics can be murderous.
In 2012, a 23-year-old Frenchman born
to working-class Algerian immigrants
walked up to a Jewish school in
Toulouse and killed three children, ages
3, 6 and 8, and the
father of two of them.
To fight
Last year, one of the
killer’s brothers
some teachers published a book
say they’ve
describing the antihad to
Semitic climate he
grew up with:
“In my family, we
blamed the Jew, we
blamed them for
everything,” he
wrote. Relatives
would regularly say,
“The Jews stole Algeria, the Jews
control the world.”
Obviously, all French Muslims don’t
share these views. But in the recent
attacks, ambient stereotypes seemed to
transform neighborhood thugs and
delinquents into anti-Semitic killers.
To fight prejudice, some teachers say
they’ve had to supplement France’s
national curriculum. Samia Essabaa,
who teaches high school English in a
heavily immigrant area northeast of
Paris, says it’s essential to valorize the
places where students’ own families
are from. On school trips to places
including Morocco, she emphasizes the
shared history of Jews and Muslims,
like the fact that both religions ban
pork, that both Hebrew and Arabic are
written from right to left, and that
North African Jews eat couscous too.
She said that once her students know
that Jews “participated and contributed to the development of their country
of origin, then we can tackle a lot of
things, because it’s no longer a history
of the other. No, it’s also my history.”
The French government is developing manuals and other resources for
teachers, along with a mobile team that
can jump in to help schools respond to
severe anti-Semitic or racist incidents.
Next month, Unesco will publish a
guide for combating anti-Semitism in
schools around the world.
Despite recent events, French Jews
aren’t cowering at home. What you don’t
see in the headlines, or from abroad, are
the countless friendly interactions
between Muslims and Jews in stores,
sports fields and offices. But some
observant Jews no longer wear skullcaps in public. And there’s talk of “internal aliyah” — families moving from
neighborhoods where they are routinely
subject to anti-Semitic taunts and
threats to other parts of France where
they feel more welcome.
The prime minister, Mr. Philippe,
recently announced Dilcrah’s new
three-year plan, vowing “to put all our
resources into it. Because if there’s a
subject that, in the name of our values
and our history, we must all agree on in
Europe, it’s this one.”
This isn’t World War II all over again.
The good guys are in charge. But
they’re not yet doing enough.
is the author of the
forthcoming “There Are No GrownUps: A Midlife Coming-of-Age Story.”
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
16 | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2018
Could FIFA sell events to investors?
Consortium is said to offer
$25 billion for expanded
schedule of soccer events
The sheer size of the number stunned
the room.
Gianni Infantino, the president of
FIFA, the global governing body of soccer, told his top board last month that a
fund of investors from the Middle East
and Asia wanted to pay about $25 billion
to buy an expanded version of FIFA’s
Club World Cup, as well as the rights to a
proposed global league for national
According to several people with direct knowledge of the meeting, held in
Bogotá, Colombia, details of the offer
were scant. Infantino did not reveal the
identities of the investors to the assembled FIFA Council, though he said the
group wanted a speedy decision on its
Such an agreement would be unprecedented. FIFA has never sold control of
its events to the highest bidder, and
never to an investment fund.
The council rejected Infantino’s request to push forward with the proposal,
saying it needed more information. But
the fact that Infantino would even entertain such a proposal illustrates global
soccer’s current state of flux. The sport’s
top clubs, its leading figureheads and
deep-pocketed investors are competing
with one another to try to unearth new
ways to capitalize on the world’s most
popular sport.
Selling the competitions to a third
party would also represent a major shift
in FIFA’s business model, which relies
on the sales of tickets, sponsorships and
media rights for revenue. Under the proposal delivered to Infantino, the consortium of investors would even decide
where the new competitions would be
The proposal could help Infantino,
who was elected as president in 2016, in
his quest to increase revenues and restore profits at FIFA, which were hurt
by a major corruption scandal in 2015.
He also wants to make good on a promise of a fourfold increase in development
funds to FIFA’s 211 member nations. He
faces re-election next year.
But many members at the Bogotá
meeting were frustrated by Infantino’s
lack of candor as they met at the cavernous Ágora Convention Center, according
to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the confidential nature of the meeting. Infantino
said he had committed to a nondisclosure agreement, but he wanted the
council’s permission to push ahead to
complete an agreement with the investors’ group.
FIFA declined to comment on Monday.
Few details are known about the potential deal, which would be for as many
Real Madrid after winning the 2016 Club World Cup. FIFA board members, saying they needed more information, rejected a request by the body’s president to move forward on a proposal to sell tournaments.
as three editions of the tournaments.
But, according to the people with knowledge of the meeting, Infantino received
a proposal earlier this year to bring the
club tournament to China and Saudi
Arabia, two nations that are committed
to expanding their leisure and entertainment sectors.
At the FIFA Council meeting, members received a briefing on a proposal
for an expanded Club World Cup, which
is currently contested annually by the
seven clubs who win their regional tournaments. The briefing outlined plans for
a quadrennial club tournament similar
to the FIFA World Cup that would feature a minimum of 12 teams from Europe, home to sport’s richest and most
popular clubs.
The document, however, gave no hint
of the $25 billion the investors offered.
Infantino delivered that information
European representatives were resistant because the competitions could
compete with the UEFA Champions
League, the wildly popular club championship for Europe. A group of African
council members also withheld support
because it was frustrated that FIFA had
not been more supportive of Morocco’s
bid to play host to the 2026 World Cup.
At a news conference after the meeting, Infantino, without referring to his
talks with the consortium, said discussions about the future of FIFA’s club
competitions would continue and would
be addressed at the next council meeting, in Moscow in June.
The current Club World Cup is worth
less than $100 million. Europe’s clubs
and leagues complained to FIFA and to
UEFA, the European governing body,
ahead of the March meeting about what
they perceived as a lack of transparency
and consultation over plans that would
directly affect their operations. Sensing
moves were afoot to formalize a new
competition without their approval,
groups representing clubs and leagues
sent letters to Infantino and to Aleksander Ceferin, the president of UEFA,
who also has called for more discussions
to take place.
“To be presented with FIFA’s ‘solution’ as a fait accompli and claim this to
be consultation defies all definitions of
best practice and good governance,”
Richard Scudamore, the executive
chairman of the Premier League in Eng-
land, wrote to Infantino on March 9 after
learning the FIFA Council might vote on
expanding its club tournament. Scudamore was writing in his capacity as
chairman of the World Leagues Forum,
a consortium representing top leagues
from four continents.
The European Club Association, a
group representing more than 200 of the
region’s biggest clubs, rejected any
plans to create a new club competition
at its annual meeting in Rome last
month. The European Club Association’s president, Andrea Agnelli, who is
also chairman of the Italian club Juventus, said the clubs wanted fewer games,
to protect player health. He said no new
tournaments could be created before
2024. Infantino proposed introducing
the new club event in 2021.
“When we think about the calendar
going forward, we must also take into
consideration weeks when players can
actually rest and or train,” Agnelli said
last month.
FIFA has long coveted a worldwide
club competition that would be as popular as the Champions League, which
generates billions of dollars annually.
UEFA is expected to collect $15 billion
during the current four-year cycle.
FIFA will rely on the quadrennial World
Cup for almost all of the roughly $5.5 billion it expects to bring in during the
same time period.
The investor consortium’s proposed
national team competition would include preliminary rounds, regional play
and a final tournament featuring a
handful of top teams.
A casualty of Golden State’s numbers game
On Pro Basketball
As a young boy in Israel, falling in love
with the faraway National Basketball
Association, Omri Casspi was inevitably drawn to what he referred to as
“the team of the ’90s” in Chicago that
unforgettably flanked the majestic
Michael Jordan with Scottie Pippen,
Dennis Rodman and, yes, a sharpshooting guard off the bench named
Steve Kerr.
Casspi couldn’t help flashing back to
the fandom of his youth when Kerr,
now coaching the N.B.A.’s latest team
of the decade in Golden State, was on
the phone leading the Warriors’ freeagent recruitment drive last July to
persuade Casspi, a veteran forward, to
sign with the league’s reigning champions.
“When I talked to Steve, he was so
positive about things,” Casspi said in a
recent interview at the Warriors’ practice facility. “And then knowing the
players they have here and the culture,
I wanted to be a part of it.
“When the Warriors call you, it’s like
a dream come true. I just knew, if
everything goes right, what it would
mean to my country and my family
and what it would mean for my career.”
So Casspi signed a one-year deal for
the league-minimum $2.1 million,
spurning interest from the Nets, who
were poised to pay him closer to $5
million this season. A product of the
perennial Israeli power Maccabi Tel
Aviv, Casspi mostly wanted to win
again, having played for only one
playoff team in his first nine seasons in
the N.B.A. (Houston in 2013-14) and
appearing in precisely zero playoff
Ending that humbling playoff
drought would be a lock alongside
stars like Stephen Curry and Kevin
Durant, which made Kerr’s pitch even
more attractive. But very little, in the
end, went right for Casspi in the Bay
With the start of the playoffs a week
away, Casspi was summoned by team
officials Saturday night after the 80th
of 82 games and informed that he was
being waived to make roster room to
convert the reserve guard Quinn
Cook’s two-way developmental contract into a full-fledged N.B.A. contract
before the postseason began.
With Curry expected to miss at least
the first round of the playoffs because
of a sprained knee, someone had to be
cut so the Warriors could make the
unexpectedly productive Cook playoffeligible as Curry’s stand-in.
Golden State’s options came down to
cutting Casspi or waiving someone
from its center-by-committee sextet of
Zaza Pachulia, Jordan Bell, David
West, JaVale McGee, Kevon Looney
and Damian Jones. A stubborn ankle
injury that held
Casspi out of his final
“It’s been the
11 games as a Warcase for the
rior, following an
last two
earlier back issue,
years. Every
proved to be the
time I hit my
“It was difficult to
sit with him and tell
him we were going
to do this,” Kerr told
reporters Sunday
night in Phoenix.
“But it was the only decision we could
make under the circumstances.”
This is the second consecutive season in which the Warriors have been
forced to make such an unkind cut. In
February 2017, after promising to sign
the savvy Spanish playmaker Jose
Calderon in the wake of Calderon’s
release by the Los Angeles Lakers,
Golden State had to abruptly let
Calderon go without granting him a
single second in uniform. In Calderon’s
case, it was a similarly severe knee
sprain sustained by Durant which
necessitated the addition of a forward
(Matt Barnes) as opposed to a guard.
Waiving Casspi at this juncture is
painful in its own way, since the Warriors are well aware he took less
money than he could have earned
elsewhere on the open market and,
worse, is ineligible to appear in the
Omri Casspi, a forward, showed promise in his brief stint as a starter for Golden State, but the Warriors needed a backup point guard.
playoffs for another team this spring
because he was not released by March
1. But the loss of Curry — as well as
Kerr’s belief that he will need every big
man he can muster to get to a fourth
successive N.B.A. finals — left little
Even though Casspi has been
healthy enough to log 10 or more minutes only five times since January, his
detractors would argue that he might
have convinced the Warriors to keep
him had he shown a greater willingness to shoot 3-pointers. Despite its
freewheeling reputation, Golden State
is actually sorely lacking when it
comes to trusty floor-spacers off the
Casspi, though, attempted only 22
3-pointers in his 53 games as a Warrior. This naturally puzzled local observers who will never forget the sight
of Casspi, then a member of the Sacramento Kings, tying a franchise record
by hitting nine 3-pointers en route to
36 points in a breathtaking shooting
duel with Curry at Oracle Arena on
Dec. 28, 2015.
Yet Casspi, in last month’s interview,
revealed that Kerr never asked him to
change his game. Casspi’s best moments in Golden State came when he
was moving off the ball and cutting
backdoor, capitalizing on the distractions provided by his more celebrated
teammates. He averaged 11.9 points
and 7.1 rebounds per game in his seven
starts while shooting nearly 59 percent
from the floor.
“It’s a little bit more complicated
than what people think,” Casspi said. “I
had a lot of early success with cutting
and moving without the ball within our
flow and maybe got in love with it a
little bit, but when something’s working and you play 12 minutes and you
have 12 points, it’s hard to say, ‘Hey,
let’s just shoot 3s.’
“Forcing shots has never been my
game. I talked to Steve about it several
times, and he always said, ‘Keep playing the way you’re playing.’”
Casspi thus remains convinced it’s
simply an unfortunate numbers game
caused by injuries — Curry’s and his
own — that will keep him atop the list
of active players with the most regularseason games played (552) to never
taste the postseason, narrowly ahead
of his close friend, DeMarcus Cousins,
the All-Star center of the New Orleans
Pelicans (535). “It’s been the case for
the last two years. Every time I hit my
stride, something happens,” Casspi
said, referring to the broken thumb he
suffered in his first game as a member
of the Pelicans last season, after the
trade that sent him and Cousins to
New Orleans.
One inevitably wonders what happens now in Casspi’s basketball-crazed
homeland, which had been eagerly
awaiting the sight of Casspi, who turns
30 in June, stepping onto the biggest
stage in the sport as a member of the
team that has won two championships
in the last three seasons. Memories are
still fresh of Israeli fans turning on the
LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers
after that team fired its Israeli-American coach, David Blatt, halfway
through Blatt’s second season with the
“For sure every playoff game with
Omri would have been a big event here
— even at 3 or 5 in the morning,” said
the longtime Israeli broadcaster and
former Maccabi Tel Aviv executive
Yaron Talpaz. “So Golden State won’t
be Israel’s team in these playoffs. Now
it’s going to be more spread around.
“But there’s no way the backlash is
going to be close to what it was for
Cleveland. There’s a lot of talk about
how cruel it is, but Omri is injured.
He’s our only N.B.A. player, so we don’t
like it, but we understand that it’s the
business side of the game.”
18 | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2018
Commerce challenges curators
Wealthy board members
can create tension as they
gain influence at museums
“The right function of every museum,”
wrote John Ruskin, the influential 19thcentury art and social critic, “is the manifestation of what is lovely in the life of
nature, and heroic in the life of men.”
Museums of the 21st century have
moved on a bit. Nowadays, they try to
exhibit art that reflects a much more diverse spectrum of society than was on
show in the Victorian era. They are also
“destination” enterprises, with permanent collections and special exhibitions,
cafes and shops trying to attract as
many visitors as possible in an age of
global tourism.
The Art Newspaper published its 2017
museum attendance survey last month.
The Louvre, in Paris, maintained its
long-held ranking as the world’s most
popular museum, attracting 8.1 million
visitors last year, or nearly 40,000 more
than the second most visited, the National Museum of China in Beijing. The
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New
York was third, with 6.7 million.
In terms of total visitors, the dominant exhibition surveyed was “Icons of
Modern Art: The Shchukin Collection,”
at the privately owned Fondation Louis
Vuitton in Paris. The show attracted
more than 1.2 million visitors in less than
five months, according to The Art Newspaper.
It is a sign of our times that a museum
founded by the billionaire private collector Bernard Arnault should mount
such an ambitious exhibition. With the
ultrawealthy paying ever higher prices
for trophy works of art and many cultural institutions facing cuts in state funding, private collectors are becoming an
increasingly influential force in the museum world.
“We see more private collectors engaged with museum boards and loaning
works to museums,” said John Mathews, head of private wealth management at UBS America. “Competition for
the best works has increased among institutions with the globalization of the
art world and the rise of income-generating blockbuster exhibitions.”
Mr. Mathews added: “The collecting
habits of our clients are directly tied to
their passion habits. Billionaires want to
give back to communities.”
Billionaires on museum boards can
create tensions as well as present solutions, particularly as exhibition programs become more diverse.
Last month, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), announced that it had “decided to part
ways” with its chief curator, Helen
Molesworth, “due to creative differences.”
Ms. Molesworth had organized critically acclaimed exhibitions devoted to
the African-American painter Kerry
James Marshall and the Brazilian artist
Anna Maria Maiolino. Artnews reported
that Ms. Molesworth had criticized the
overwhelming whiteness of the MOCA
board during a January talk at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi, above, will be the
new home of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi.” Left, the Seattle Art Museum
attracted 13,000 visitors in 12 days when it
displayed the 1982 Jean-Michel Basquiat
painting “Untitled.”
She made a similar point two months
earlier at a talk in San Francisco. “Museum boards are increasingly comprised of exceedingly affluent people
who don’t come from a philanthropic or
cultural background,” Ms. Molesworth
said. “They often come from a financial
background or a being-rich background,” Artnews quoted her as saying.
The MOCA board has the Los Angeles
collector Maurice Marciano as a cochairman, and it includes other wealthy
collectors such as Steven A. Cohen, Laurence Graff and Victor Pinchuk.
The Los Angeles painter Mark Grotjahn is also on the board. MOCA had
planned to hold a fund-raising gala in his
honor in May, but with controversy in
the air, Mr. Grotjahn pulled out of the
event in February.
Ms. Molesworth did not reply to a request from The New York Times for
“Some curators are working hard to
change the canon to include different
genders and minorities,” said Lisa
Schiff, a New York art adviser with an
office in Los Angeles, who has clients
who sit on museum boards. “But oftentimes, not always, that collides with the
collections of the board members,” she
added, noting that some concentrated
on works by white male artists.
“We have art historical issues entangled with the market,” she added. “It’s a
very complicated time.”
On the other hand, cultivating
wealthy board members, trustees and
patrons is crucial for museums seeking
to make a major acquisition through a
gift or loan. Major acquisitions bring in
more visitors, which in turn drives income.
In the first 12 days that the Seattle Art
Museum displayed the 1982 Jean-Michel Basquiat painting “Untitled,” the
museum attracted more than 13,000 visitors, or 56 percent more than had been
projected before the loan was secured.
The suggested admission price of $19.95
for adults lets patrons see this monumental image of a skull that drew headlines around the world in May when it
sold for $110.5 million at Sotheby’s.
Seattle is the latest stop in a world
tour that the painting’s new owner, the
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa,
planned for the painting. It had previously been on display at the Brooklyn
Museum of Art, and will travel to an as
yet unspecified venue in Europe in August. “Distance should neither restrain
nor limit us,” Mr. Maezawa said in a Seattle Art Museum news release, underlining how the painting, certainly in his
mind, had become a “destination” artwork.
The same can be said with even more
certainty of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi,” which shattered auction
highs when it sold for $450.3 million in
November. The details of how it came to
be acquired by the Louvre Abu Dhabi
have yet to be clarified, but whenever it
goes on show — no dates have been announced — it should bolster visitor numbers at the Jean Nouvel-designed museum, which opened to the public on
Nov. 11. The Louvre brand will then have
the distinction of displaying the world’s
most valuable painting (the “Mona
Lisa”) in France, and the most expensive in the United Arab Emirates.
As leading museums compete for
crowd-drawing exhibits, and try to balance commercial interests and cultural
diversity, visitors are bearing a rising
proportion of the cost.
Though admission to the permanent
collections of Britain’s public museums
is free, adults are paying 22 pounds, or
about $31, to view the must-see Tate
Modern exhibition “Picasso 1932 —
Love, Fame, Tragedy.” British museums
had long been careful to keep exhibition
ticket prices below £20.
Since March 1, people who do not live
in New York State have to pay a mandatory admission fee of $25 to visit the
Metropolitan Museum of Art. The museum, already facing a budget deficit, is
planning a new wing, at a cost of at least
$450 million, to house acquisitions and
gifts of modern and contemporary art.
“I foresee that the expansionist ethos
of museums, which apes the world of
business, is unsustainable and potentially corrupting, or at the very least distracting from the museums’ main mission,” Anna Somers Cocks, the founding
editor and chairman of The Art Newspaper, wrote in its 300th anniversary issue.
But what, exactly, is the main mission
of a museum?
If it is to show the greatest art to the
largest number of people in a scholarly
and affordable manner, then that mission might have been accomplished last
year in Japan. In just three months, the
exhibition “Unkei: The Great Master of
Buddhist Sculpture” at the Tokyo National Museum attracted an average of
11,268 visitors a day, 2,342 more than the
average for the Shchukin Collection
show in Paris. Adult admission to the Tokyo show cost 1600 yen, or about $15.
So, measured by daily footfall, an exhibition of religious sculptures more
than 800 years old was the most popular
show in the world in 2017. Even Ruskin
might have approved.
Warhol! ‘Cabaret’! Halston!
Liza Minnelli to auction
large trove of memorabilia
from a life on many stages
Call it “Liza with a $.”
Divesting herself of a trove of bugle
beads and showbiz memorabilia, Liza
Minnelli is putting more than 1,900
items from her designer wardrobe and
extensive archives of Hollywood
ephemera up for auction in May.
But before her one-of-a-kind Halston
flapper dresses, her “Cabaret” bowler
and annotated shooting script, several
large-format Annie Leibovitz portraits,
an engraved silver baby cup, a watercolor portrait of her at age 3 and a $20,000
check made out to (and endorsed by)
Andy Warhol are put on the block, some
noteworthy pieces are at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, Calif., in a
monthlong exhibit called “Love, Liza.”
“I woke up one day and thought, ‘Honey, you ain’t gonna wait till you’ve
bought the farm and leave your life on
someone else’s doorstep,’” Ms. Minnelli,
72, told The New York Times through
her colleague and confidant Michael Feinstein. “My life is a gift of flowing
friendships and relationships, all collected in these objects. It’s with many
emotions that I share them.”
And it’s with many emotions, including joy, that her most ardent fans probably will receive them.
The sale is being conducted by Profiles in History, an auction house based
in Calabasas, Calif., that oversaw sales
of Debbie Reynolds’s vast collections. It
will include not only Ms. Minnelli’s personal effects, like the waitress uniform,
complete with “LINDA” name tag, that
she wore in the 1981 film comedy “Arthur,” but also objects that once belonged to her famous parents, Judy Garland and the director Vincente Minnelli.
A paycheck from MGM Studios to a
13-year-old Garland, Ms. Garland’s
scrapbooks and personal 35-millimeter
screening copies of her films, Mr. Minnelli’s Directors Guild Award for “Gigi,”
an Academy Award nomination plaque
and his rare one-sheet poster from his
1943 musical “Cabin in the Sky” are expected to be among the most coveted
“We’re basically telling their family
history,” said Joe Maddalena, the C.E.O.
of Profiles in History. “It’s a giant collection from the birth of Liza to what this
woman became, plus the flash of when
she met Halston. You’ll be able to see a
celebration of her life, her parents’ lives
and how all this came about. Think
about the talent among the three of
The vast number of items, including
clothes by not only Halston, but also Bob
Mackie, Gianni Versace, Gucci, Isaac
Mizrahi and Donna Karan, Mr. Maddalena said, distinguishes this auction
from most others. “By the time most celebrities sell, you’re usually getting
junk, their furniture and their castoffs,”
he said. “The stuff of importance is usually donated and gone. But Liza kept everything.”
Rene Reyes, a production executive at
the Paley Center, described the “Love,
Liza” exhibit as “a lot of fabulousness
stuffed into this building.” Included are
costumes from the John Kander and
Fred Ebb musical “Cabaret,” the film
version of which earned Ms. Minnelli
the Best Actress Oscar in 1973, and from
her string of 1991 concerts at Radio City
Among Liza Minnelli’s auction items are a bowler like one she wore in “Cabaret,” and a sequined Halston ensemble.
Music Hall, along with her 1999-2000
Broadway show, “Minnelli on Minnelli:
Live at the Palace.”
Also: selections from Ms. Minnelli’s
vast wardrobe of vintage Halston, like a
red sequin tuxedo she wore in concert,
showcased on mannequins sporting her
signature short hair and long eyelashes,
in a specially created setting evoking
Studio 54, the Manhattan disco she frequented in the 1970s.
Halston Heritage, which is overseeing part of the installation, has lent an
actual mirror ball it acquired from Studio 54. “If that ball could speak,” said Angela Pih, the chief marketing officer at
Halston Heritage.
Ms. Minnelli and Halston, who were
introduced by her godmother, the actress and author Kay Thompson, were
the best of friends for decades. She was
his muse. The designer, who died of Kaposi’s sarcoma in 1990, was her mentor.
“No one matters more to her than
Halston,” Mr. Feinstein wrote in an
email. “Liza says that, with Fred Ebb
and Kay Thompson, Halston created
her. Sharing his work is her way of reminding people of his importance to her
life and the world of fashion. The vibrations in the clothes and drawings are
damned powerful.”
Whether singing standards on “The
Ed Sullivan Show” in the 1960s, teaming
up with Goldie Hawn for the 1980 musical one-off “Goldie and Liza Together”
(now a YouTube curiosity) or suffering
from chronic vertigo as the pratfall risk
Lucille Austero on more than 20
episodes of the sitcom “Arrested Development” between 2003 and 2013, Ms.
Minnelli has long tickled at-home audiences.
Two appearances on her mother’s
1963-64 variety series and her own
Emmy Award-winning concert, “Liza
With a Z,” a 1972 NBC special directed by
Bob Fosse, are standout moments in
television history. “You can’t overestimate how those appearances established her as an artist,” Mr. Reyes said.
Mr. Feinstein said that although Ms.
Minnelli had “made a conscious choice
to simplify” her life since relocating to
Los Angeles from New York several
years ago, she wasn’t parting with all of
her cherished possessions. Ms. Minnelli, he said, is retaining such items as
the christening Bible she received from
Ms. Thompson, Ms. Garland’s music library, Mr. Minnelli’s 1959 Academy
Award for “Gigi,” a movie poster for
1945’s “The Clock” (on which Ms. Minnelli’s parents collaborated) and a Richard Avedon portrait of Ms. Garland.
But getting rid of so much stuff, which
had been housed for decades in more
than a half-dozen storage spaces on the
East and West Coasts, has been good for
Ms. Minnelli, Mr. Feinstein said. “After a
lifetime of nonstop work she is, from my
view, happier than I have ever seen her.”
This “purge with a capital P,” as he
said she calls it, “did not come without
much thought and soul-searching. The
conclusion was that she could sit on
these things and they would never see
the light of day again, or send them out
into the world and see them live again
with others who would appreciate
A share of the auction proceeds, he
added, will go to the Great American
Songbook Foundation, a music organization that he founded seven years ago
with Ms. Minnelli’s help.
It is unclear whether Ms. Minnelli will
attend the exhibit at the Paley Center.
Blaming an “extreme viral infection,”
she canceled a March 30 performance
with Mr. Feinstein a few days before the
But Ms. Minnelli seems pleased to be
relinquishing past clutter. “It was time
to go there and I have,” she said, “and it
feels good.”
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2018 | 19
Highbrow? Not this Cinderella
Joyce DiDonato explains
why she believes opera
is ‘the opposite of elitist’
Joyce DiDonato, the star mezzo-soprano, admits she was slightly fearful
when she first visited the Sing Sing maximum-security prison in New York
State. She had agreed to sing there in
2015 as part of Carnegie Hall’s Musical
Connections program, but she wasn’t
sure how an operatic voice would be received.
She made an impact on at least one listener. On a follow-up trip the next year,
Ms. DiDonato encountered Joseph Wilson, an inmate and aspiring composer
who had been at the recital. He said he
had been overwhelmed by the performance, she recalled in a recent interview
at the Metropolitan Opera, where she
will sing the title role in the company
premiere of “Cendrillon” — Massenet’s
frothy, romantic, rarely done Cinderella
adaptation — starting on Thursday.
Mr. Wilson had been inspired to write
an opera, Ms. DiDonato said. With the
help of the Carnegie program, he soon
completed preliminary work on his first
large-scale piece, “Tabula Rasa.” Last
October, Ms. DiDonato returned to Sing
Sing a third time to join him in presenting some of it in front of 300 inmates.
“It’s about a murderer; he’s asking
someone for forgiveness,” she said. Her
character denies his request. “It’s extraordinary. In concert, about two-thirds
of the way through, his character begs
for forgiveness again and then drops to
his knees, but my character keeps saying no. Finally, he collapses over his
knees and cradles his head in his hands.”
Eighteen hours later, Ms. DiDonato
was at the Met performing in the “Live
in HD” cinema broadcast of Bellini’s
“My character, after a flame with a
Roman soldier in woods,” she said, “runs
to Norma’s hut, drops to her knees and
begs her friend for forgiveness. And I
did the same gesture I had done for five
weeks of rehearsal: I collapsed on my
knees and cradled my head — the same
physical gesture Joe had done. Now you
go on and tell me how opera’s irrelevant
to normal people.”
The art form, she added, is “the opposite of elitist.”
There was a time when calling an
opera star accessible might have
counted as a criticism. Operatic characters — an aloof pantheon of gods, monarchs, priests and countesses — are
generally more outsize than approachable; their exponents have traditionally
been measured on a scale of perceived
regality and remoteness.
But with the art form struggling for
audiences, major companies, once content to keep stars shrouded in mystery,
now see it as essential to bring people in
for a closer look. Facebook and YouTube
provide behind-the-scenes glimpses of
rehearsals, coachings and costume fittings. You can now tweet at “Tosca.”
Such a world is tailor-made for Ms. DiDonato, 49, opera’s Miss Congeniality.
“The key isn’t changing what we do,”
she said. “It’s making sure that we go to
where the people are.”
So starting in April 2005, back when
the opera world was still new to cyberspace, Ms. DiDonato blogged as Yankeediva about everything connected to
her life as a globe-trotting artist. She
added an electronic newsletter, Opera
Rocks, in 2015. She inflects her celebrated takes on Rossini with the dazzled
wonder of a musical theater actress and
delights in programming populist encores like “Over the Rainbow.” Her
plain-spoken advice in master classes —
sometimes humorous, sometimes New
Age-y — is all over YouTube.
Her can-do spirit is the subject of lore:
The mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, above, stars in Massenet’s “Cendrillon” in New York this month. Below, Ms. DiDonato in Donizetti’s “Maria Stuarda” in 2012, left, and in Rossini’s “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” in 2007.
At one London performance of Rossini’s
“Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” in 2009, she
fractured her fibula, then soldiered on in
a wheelchair. Cinderella, that fabled optimist, is an ideal role for her. Born Joyce
Flaherty on the edge of Kansas City to
an Irish-American family of seven children, Ms. DiDonato had an unlikely ascent to celebrity and a rough time finding management after her time in the
Houston Grand Opera’s young artist
In fact, finding her way to the stage in
the first place was a struggle. Ms. DiDonato said that her final year at Wichita
State University in Kansas, where she
studied to be a high school music
teacher and graduated in 1992, was riddled with self-doubt.
“I saw the need for committed, devoted teachers,” she said. “But the stage
was calling me, and I loved it, and it felt
really good. As a good Catholic Midwestern girl, that was bad. If something
felt good, it must be bad.”
She approached her father, a longtime
classical music lover, for advice: “He
said, ‘Joyce, there’s more than one way
to teach people, more than one way to
She embraced the public-facing side
of singing. For a while, she recorded her
thoughts on Yankeediva several times a
month as she recorded the Handel opera
“Ariodante,” sang for the celebrated
mezzo Marilyn Horne’s 75th birthday
gala, fought isolation on the road and
mourned the loss of her father. She
aimed Opera Rocks, her electronic
newsletter, at curious high school students who might have felt lonely in their
interest in high culture.
Opera, she said, is about “bringing
truth and beauty and astonishment to
people, while reminding everyone who
feels ignored or shunned or diminished
that, actually, there’s something bigger
out there.”
Ms. DiDonato has the earnest zeal of a
self-help enthusiast. She said her main
teachings these days “rarely come from
the opera field” and run to mindfulness
lessons from Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie
and Joseph Campbell. Her views are liberal but mild; other than railing in 2011
against cuts to arts programs made by
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, she’s kept
mostly quiet about more incendiary political topics.
“I monitor myself carefully,” she said.
“I wish to provoke because I’m a citizen.
But I never, ever want to impose so
much in social media or offstage that the
audience feels like it’s seeing ‘Joyce’ onstage. People have paid to see ‘Cendrillon.’ They haven’t paid to see me.”
Except, well, they have. The Met
would never have put on this Massenet
rarity if not for her, and fans are drawn
to her personality, curiosity and dazzling voice as much as to the music she
sings. For two decades, Ms. DiDonato
has taken on a strikingly mixed bag of
mezzo repertoire, seesawing between
centuries and styles. Her voice, adept at
elastic runs and flowery embellishments, is also soulful and sincere. She
can glide up into the soprano stratosphere when she chooses.
Pick any season of her early career for
a sense of this unusual versatility: In
2002-3, for example, she darted from
“Dead Man Walking,” by the American
composer Jake Heggie, to works including Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro”; Janacek’s “The Cunning Little Vixen”; and
Rossini’s “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” and
“La Cenerentola,” that composer’s Cinderella opera.
She is perhaps now most widely associated with Baroque and bel canto opera
— her skookum approach to the aria
“Tanti affetti” from Rossini’s “La Donna
del Lago,” with its dizzying runs and
leaps up and down the staff, has made
her rendition a cult favorite — but she is
no less at ease with the gentle lines of
the American songbook.
That gift for understated lyricism has
made “Cendrillon,” a lesser-known work
from 1899 that shows its composer’s
knack for comedy, one of Ms. DiDonato’s
calling cards over the past decade. She
opened the director Laurent Pelly’s
brightly colored production at Santa Fe
Opera in New Mexico in 2006, and it has
traveled with her to London, Barcelona
in Spain and now the Met, which is presenting it for the first time in the company’s history with a cast that also includes Alice Coote, Kathleen Kim,
Stephanie Blythe and Laurent Naouri,
conducted by Bertrand de Billy.
“The beautiful thing about Cinderella
is that she’s somebody who believes in
goodness,” Ms. DiDonato said. “She
stays true to herself in a very quiet way.”
The character’s authenticity was
what first attracted her to the role. The
show has not changed much for her over
the years she has performed it. Yet in
preparing for her latest run at the Met,
she discovered new power in its unpretentious optimism. During a recent rehearsal, she and Mr. Pelly were startled
to find themselves in tears.
“I think what’s happening in the world
right now is so dark and heavy,” she
said. “When you’re struck with this innocence, this freshness, there’s this nuclear sensation of being hit. I think we’re
all drinking it in, unaware of how much
we needed it.”
Steven Spielberg shorten the credits of
At Camp David, with not much to be
seen watching the backs of the Reagans’ heads, Weinberg often struggles
to fill the page: His recollections of
“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” contain a
two-page aside about Reagan’s friendship with Wayne Newton, prompted by
Matthew Broderick’s lip-syncing of
“Danke Schoen.” A large part of the
“Chariots of Fire” chapter is taken up
with a sentimental exploration of the
Reagan/Thatcher partnership. The
author has to sneak away from his seat
to consult Reagan letters, diaries and
biographies to fortify what is essentially a subjunctive enterprise. He will
“have to imagine” whether Reagan
was thinking about his vexed relationship with his daughter Patti when
watching Henry and Jane Fonda in
“On Golden Pond.” He can only “suspect” that Reagan “may have reflected” on travails with his alcoholic
father when watching Darth Vader and
Luke Skywalker.
Conjecture is the big problem for any
book about presidential film-viewing.
Mark Feeney’s ambitious, well-researched “Nixon at the Movies,” published in 2004, reveals that during his
years in office, Nixon watched just one
movie featuring Reagan, a man of
whom he had “a thoroughly mixed
opinion.” The film was “Dark Victory,”
shown at the president’s San Clemente
home in August 1973. Feeney plausibly
speculates on the contempt Nixon may
have felt for the moneyed, time-wasting crowd (including Reagan’s character) surrounding Bette Davis, the
picture’s star. But here too, like Weinberg, Feeney “can only wonder” what
the book’s subject actually experienced
while the lights were down.
Weinberg’s memoir doesn’t aspire to
the depth of Feeney’s study, but its
fealty and kindliness have their own
The anecdotes (like the two pages
on Reagan’s effort to return a pen he
accidentally walked off with) are
sweet, not piercing; the hue is as rosy
as the president’s cheeks. The author
once fell asleep during a screening of
“Show Boat,” and afterward was “almost out the door when the president
tapped me on the shoulder and said
with a wink and a big smile, ‘Guess
you were pretending it was a cabinet
“Movie Nights With the Reagans”
probably would have worked better as
a half-hour oral history, but here it is,
not unwelcome, if only to remind us
that the role of the president can be
played by a charming gentleman instead of a scoundrel.
Watching one with the Gipper
Movie Nights With The Reagans: A
By Mark Weinberg. Illustrated. 261 pp.
Simon & Schuster. $28.
During his presidency, Ronald Reagan
and his wife, Nancy, watched 363 movies at Camp David. Spread out over
eight years, it’s a pardonably large
total, especially for two former film
actors, a couple who retained show
business as a frame of reference long
after they’d gone into its professional
cousin, politics. All their viewing of the
era’s biggest hits probably kept the
Reagans more connected to the country than watching four hours a day of
cable news.
Mark Weinberg, a young press aide
detailed to Camp David on the weekends, would join a group of staffers in
Aspen Lodge each time the president
opened the door, just before 8 p.m.
Everyone would watch the films, and
the staffers would also watch their
hosts. More than 30 years later, with
the former first lady’s blessing, Weinberg began writing this amiable book
about the experience. “Movie Nights
With the Reagans” is fluffed with a
loyalist’s nostalgia, but it does offer
entertaining glimpses of the first couple, and it may lure even Reagan
nonenthusiasts to indulge in some
nostalgia of their own.
The president was “clearly excited”
to see “Top Gun,” though the sex scenes
seemed to go on far too long for his and
Nancy’s taste. The “over-the-top violence” of “Red Dawn” may have similarly dampened their appreciation of its
Commie-repelling Colorado kids. (Both
Reagans expressed disapproval of the
pot-smoking scene in “9 to 5.”) Among
films with a political dimension, Weinberg insists that “Ghostbusters”
“helped energize the 1984 campaign,”
featuring as its villain an over-regulating E.P.A. bureaucrat. The director, Ivan
Reitman, had unusually conservative
leanings for Hollywood, but Reagan
himself seems to have had a nonideological good time watching the movie.
The president liked “Return of the
Jedi.” He saw no connection between
the “Star Wars” franchise and his Strategic Defense Initiative, but recognized
the films as a lasered update of the
westerns he’d once starred in. One of
those, “Cattle Queen of Montana,” is on
the marquee at the Hill Valley movie
theater in the portion of “Back to the
Future” set in 1955. A nice touch,
though Weinberg records that “it felt as
if the air had gone out of” Aspen Lodge
when Doc, disbelieving news from the
future of Reagan’s ascent, asks Marty:
Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis, his second wife, in a scene from their 1957 film “Hellcats of the Navy,” the first and only film that he appeared in with her.
“I suppose Jane Wyman is the first
lady?” One pictures Nancy biting hard
on a kernel of unpopped corn, but in
the summer of 1985 popcorn had been
banished from Aspen Lodge because of
the president’s recent colon cancer
Along with all the ’80s blockbusters,
the Reagans showed vintage films,
including a few of the president’s own.
The couple’s one co-starring venture,
“Hellcats of the Navy,” allowed the
young staffers to see the boss and his
wife as a kind of cold-showered Tom
Cruise and Kelly McGillis. Reagan had
a self-respecting view of his movie
work and remained sufficiently connected to his old craft to suggest that
Thomas Mallon’s most recent book is
“Finale: A Novel of the Reagan Years.”
20 | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2018
World Cup a tough sell in U.S.
Team is out of tournament,
and ticket requests are
down for event in Russia
What Tyra Banks
can’t travel without
The United States national soccer team
failed to qualify for the men’s 2018 World
Cup in Russia, the first time it will miss
soccer’s biggest event since 1986. This
won’t keep all American fans away from
Moscow and the 10 other cities hosting
the tournament in June, but it’s one of
many factors that have appeared to
have dampened interest in visiting.
“I think more than anything it just
feels like a logistical nightmare,” said
Dan Wiersema, the head of communications for the American Outlaws, a group
of U.S. Soccer supporters that organized
trips for fans to the last two men’s World
Cups and the 2015 women’s World Cup.
“You’re going halfway around the world,
and if your team’s not in the World Cup,
that seems like a whole lot of legwork for
a lot of unknowns.”
Mr. Wiersema added that in a country
as diverse as the United States, there
are plenty of Americans who will be
rooting for other teams competing in
Russia — but ticket sales show a clear
drop in interest from Americans compared with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
According to FIFA, the world soccer
federation, of the nearly five million
ticket requests made before its random
selection draw sales period ended on
Jan. 31, roughly 87,000 were from fans in
the United States, the 10th most of any
country. (Russia was first, followed by
Germany.) For the 2014 tournament,
spectators from the United States purchased a total of nearly 200,000 tickets,
more than any other country other than
the host.
Some may also be waiting for the 2019
women’s World Cup in France, which is
a potentially more attractive travel destination for Americans in terms of infrastructure and location. It’s also where
fans can root for the defending-champion U.S. women’s team.
“You’re talking about a country that
has a great rail network and is relatively
close to East Coast-based airports.
When you put that all together as an
American soccer fan and a travel fan,
there’s a lot of people who have eyeballs
on it,” Mr. Wiersema said.
Mr. Wiersema, whose group sent
The television personality, producer, entrepreneur and former model Tyra
Banks has a lengthy resume, but she is
probably best known these days for instructing aspiring models to “smize”
(smile with their eyes) on “America’s
Next Top Model,” a fashion reality TV
series she created and hosts. It’s currently in its 24th season.
While Ms. Banks mostly travels for
work, she describes herself as “a master
at tacking on pleasure,” commonly adding vacation days to weeks of intensive
shooting abroad.
“America’s Next Top Model” has taken contestants around the world, but her
favorite was Morocco. “What I love
about Marrakesh is the people and the
earth and the architecture are like the
same color. It’s just that beautiful terracotta color, and it just all blends. It’s just
beautiful,” she said.
She describes herself as obsessed
with hotels, even going so far as to model her own bedroom after a room in the
Four Seasons New York.
“I used to stay there when I was a Victoria’s Secret model, actually, and I studied that room,” Ms. Banks said. “I don’t
think I took pictures back then, but I
talked to the interior designer, and I
made it as close to that Four Seasons as
possible, including the bathtub that fills
up in like 60 seconds.”
Here’s what she can’t travel without.
A countdown clock in Moscow for the 2018 World Cup, which will start June 14 when Russia, the host country, plays Saudi Arabia.
more than 500 members to the 2014
World Cup in Brazil, also cited potential
worries related to Russia’s geopolitical
situation, the violent reputation of some
of its soccer fans and its government’s
position on lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender people.
“Russia has made it quite clear about
its stance on gay fans, which I know
gives a lot of our members and U.S. fans
concern,” Mr. Wiersema said, referring
to a law that outlaws “homosexual propaganda.” In response to those expressing reservations, a Russian Football Union official said last November: “You
can come here and not be fined for expressing feelings. The law is about propaganda to minors.”
Fan safety may be of particular concern for fans in England, where ticket
sales have also been significantly lower
than for past World Cups.
During a 2016 European Championship game in Marseille, France, Russian and English fans clashed violently
in the days leading up to and then after
the match between the two teams; over
30 spectators were injured. The disciplinary committee of UEFA, which oversees European soccer, fined and sanctioned the Russian soccer federation as
a result.
More recently, the poisoning of an exRussian spy in southern England has
added to the tension between the two
countries heading into the World Cup.
“We do need to be very, very careful
for British fans who are traveling there
that they are not in any way caught up in
the politics of this,” Tom Tugendhat, a
British lawmaker, told the BBC.
All fans attending World Cup
matches will need a Fan ID card. Attendees must have the card along with a valid ticket to enter the match stadium.
Fans can obtain their ID once they have
received their tickets or after receiving
a ticket confirmation notice.
The Fan ID has plenty of travel perks,
including visa-free entry to Russia for
foreign visitors who have purchased
match tickets. It allows visitors to stay
in the country from 10 days before the
first match to 10 days after the last
For more information, visit
And once in the country, those with a
Fan ID get free transportation on intercity trains and public transport in the
host cities.
Be mindful of price gouging.
Russian consumer regulators have already issued fines to several hotels, including one in Moscow that was accused
of raising prices up to 570 percent above
what is allowed by the government.
FIFA has set up its own hotel finder,
where you can search by city, venue and
other destination points. But availability
for dates pegged to a specific location’s
matches is currently difficult to find, so
hunting through your preferred travel
booking website may yield better results. For more information, visit
“It’s like a little blanket connected to a
giraffe head, and I cuddle with that and I
get funky with it and I sleep with it, and I
put it in my armpit and all that. I have
two of them so they’re in rotation, so I
travel and get it funky and then I come
back and I give it to him, and I’m like
‘That was mommy!’ and he grabs it and
smells it. I know that sounds gross, but
there’s always one with me and always
one with him, and you know, children really connect to their parents’ scent, so I
make sure that it’s on me when I’m on
the plane and stuff like that. And then
when I come home, I just take the one he
had and give him that one, so he immediately has mommy’s smell again.”
“So when I’m traveling, I don’t wear
high heel boots anymore. I used to be
like, ‘Oh my gosh, the paparazzi might
meet me at the airport when I land so I
have to look cute.’ I ain’t got time for cute
now, my feet are hurting! So I wear
sneakers, but Ellen DeGeneres has the
cutest sneakers. And they have animals
on them, it’s hard to explain, but they
have an etching of a dog or a cat, peeking
off the sides of the shoes. They are so
cute. It’s a way to have a sneaker, and
you know, like a little whimsy and humor with it.”
“I’m now into press-on nails. I used to be
into gels and sitting in the chair forever
and getting your nails done, but they are
so good. They don’t look like they did
back in the day. They look like you sat in
the chair for an hour and a half. But I
have to bring extra nails and glue in my
purse for the emergency when you’re
putting your bag up in your overhead
and a nail pops off. And I was like, ‘I will
not be caught out here with a nail missing.’ I’m not a prissy type of girl, but
even that can look a little busted, and so,
you know, I have them in my purse with
the extra glue and I pop ’em on.”
“It’s a blue leather Fendi tote, and I
think it’s called the ‘Monster Bag.’ My
agent, Nancy, got it for me because it has
eyes on it, and when you unzip the zipper on front, the inside is red, so it looks
like a mouth. But she calls it a ‘smizing
bag,’ because it looks like the eyes are
Ocean views and artful cuisine
From $360
Opened in September, the 121-room Hotel Californian is a gateway to a revived
Santa Barbara waterfront. It’s also a doover: One of its three buildings sits on
the site of the original Hotel Californian,
which was destroyed, two weeks after
opening, by a 1925 earthquake. The
property changed hands and fell into
disrepair in the 1990s. In 2011, a new
owner acquired the hotel, kept the fourstory facade, which offers sweeping
views of Santa Barbara and the Pacific
Ocean, and reimagined everything else.
A Moroccan design scheme by the Hollywood interior decorator Martin
Lawrence Bullard differentiates Hotel
Californian from the hacienda-style resorts that dot the Southern California
coast. The property’s lawn and plaza
provide prime venues for sunbathing
and people watching.
The hotel’s three buildings cluster
around the corner of State and Mason
Streets. Walk one block west and you’ll
reach the beach, Fisherman’s Wharf
and a jogging and biking path that hugs
the shore. Two blocks north of the hotel
is the Funk Zone, Santa Barbara’s burgeoning arts district with galleries,
restaurants, and more than 20 winetasting rooms. The Santa Barbara Amtrak station is a seven-minute walk from
the hotel and offers direct service to and
from Los Angeles (generally a two-anda-half-hour ride).
Most rooms at the Hotel Californian
come with one king bed; my mother and
I, visiting midweek in November, were
able to reserve one of the few double
queen rooms with a view. It wasn’t the
best — those go to the suites that face
the beach — but our spacious third-floor
room had a veranda with armchairs
from which to watch ducks on a greenish
creek. The interior was lavishly decorated with oil-rubbed bronze lamps and
patterned tile — the hotel imported
more than one million pieces from Morocco — but some accents, like the brass
snakes above the bed, verged on garish.
USB ports by the beds offered an easy
way to charge devices; other in-room
gadgetry proved more difficult. The Nespresso coffee machine was maddeningly difficult to master, even though I
use a similar model at home, and ejected
every other espresso capsule without
dispensing anything.
President and C.E.O.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The terrace and lobby at the Hotel Californian, which has a Moroccan design scheme.
Laser-cut panels framed the shower,
furthering the Moroccan theme, and
while the shower stall was large enough,
given the considerable floor space, the
lack of a bathtub was curious. The double sinks and marble countertops left
plenty of space for our toiletries. The
best part of the bathroom: the plush microfiber bathrobes by the Italian manufacturer La Bottega.
The executive chef Alexander La Motte,
who previously worked at Thomas Keller’s Napa Valley landmark, the French
Laundry, and his New York mainstay,
Per Se, elevates beach-adjacent dining
throughout the property. The airy, market-style cafe Goat Tree offers inspired
breakfast entrees such as shakshuka, a
Middle Eastern dish of baked eggs. For
dinner, a finer dining restaurant, Blackbird, serves artfully plated riffs on Mediterranean fare, like figs with za’atar and
burrata. The hotel’s room service menu
offers a more standard assortment of
burgers, salads and sandwiches.
Only one of the hotel’s buildings has a
lobby staffed 24/7 (ours was unmanned
after dark; key cards unlocked the door
to the street). Every room has a flatscreen television, and the hotel provides
complimentary Wi-Fi, bottles of water
and Nespresso capsules. A small gym on
the ground floor of the Californian building has up-to-date machines and can be
entered anytime with a key card, and a
pool, firepit and pool loungers line the
fourth floor rooftop. The Turkishthemed spa on the ground floor offers an
array of treatments.
Qatar Museums Board of Trustees
Founding Partner
Avid Partners, LLC
Almine Rech Gallery
Victoria and Albert Museum,
Hotel Californian, 36 State Street, Santa
Barbara, Calif., the
Through provocative interviews and
riveting discussions, senior New York Times
journalists will explore myriad topics, from
the impact of economic events on the arts
to the outlook for galleries in the era of the
mega-dealer, from the future of museums in
this technological age to the undiminished
fascination with contemporary art, and
much more.
This invitation-only gathering will take place
in Berlin, a city whose story of renaissance
and reinvention mirrors the essence of this
groundbreaking event.
President and C.E.O.
Pace Gallery
A trendy upgrade of the standard California coastal resort, the property straddles the line between downtown hot spot
and beachside getaway. With a wide variety of amenities and things to eat, time
here is best spent outside the room.
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.
For more information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact
Carina Pierre at
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