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International New York Times - 23 April 2018

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as America
Kim’s shift
on nuclear
tests makes
others wary
Christopher A. Preble
The news that Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A.
director, met in secret with North
Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, over the
Easter weekend has renewed hope
that one of the world’s most dangerous
standoffs might be resolved without
war. On Saturday, in fact, Mr. Kim
announced that he would halt nuclear
tests. Mr. Pompeo’s trip was surprising
for many reasons: he went personally,
it was kept a secret and it was revealed
at a time when others were questioning his fitness to become secretary of
But it says something about America’s place in world affairs that at least
one aspect of the trip was no surprise
at all: that Americans are deeply,
centrally involved in a dispute involving two sovereign countries thousands
of miles away from Washington.
Of course, there’s a
good historical reaThe U.S.
son. Under American
needs a
tutelage, South
strategy to
Korea eventually
deal with its
evolved from a desdiminishing
perately poor autocglobal
racy to one of the
wealthiest democrainfluence.
cies on the planet.
American taxpayers
continue to spend
billions of dollars a year to help maintain regional security. A similar
process played out in other parts of
Asia and in Europe, where the American security umbrella, including tens
of thousands of military personnel,
provided room for those countries’
leaders to build strong democracies
and economies.
American leaders argued that such
policies served the cause of global
peace and security. They also reasoned
that the substantial costs would be
tolerable. And, so long as American
productivity and workers’ wages were
rising, it seemed that Uncle Sam could
ensure a decent standard of living at
home and security around the world.
It is becoming harder, though, for
America to maintain this global posture. Eventually, it may become impossible, in part because we helped create
the conditions that allowed other countries to prosper and grow. There may
come a time, not too far in the future,
when Americans would be surprised to
hear that they are responsible for
keeping peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Americans should be debating how
to manage that transition in a way that
avoids destabilizing the rest of the
world. Unfortunately, if the current
administration’s maneuvers between
The New York Times publishes opinion
from a wide range of perspectives in
hopes of promoting constructive debate
about consequential questions.
North Korean leader keeps
officials guessing about his
motive before 2 meetings
A public internet hot spot in Havana, a relatively new luxury in Cuba. With promises of reform bringing so few results, the future is a matter of little concern.
Cubans expect little change
End of Castros’ power
is met with a collective
sense of apathy in Havana
The streets brimmed with people going
about their day, hauling handcarts of
fruit down narrow side streets, shuffling
along sun-faded esplanades, waiting impatiently at the crosswalks of busy intersections.
The new president of Cuba — the first
non-Castro to lead the nation in decades
— was talking. But no one seemed to be
listening. The televisions at the bus station were tuned to other channels, while
cafes airing his first remarks as president appeared largely empty. Radios, at
least those in public areas, garnered little attention.
In the midst of yet another historic
moment on an island with its fair share
of firsts in recent years, the anointing of
a new president last week passed with
little fanfare in the capital.
Instead, a collective sense of apathy
seemed to permeate Havana, a feeling
that appeared to have been fostered, at
least to some degree, by the government itself. There were no big public
Cuba’s new president, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, left, with the departing leader
Raúl Castro, after the handoff of power last week at the National Assembly in Havana.
events to mark the arrival of President
Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, the flag
bearer of Cuba’s new generation of leaders, or any banners in sight to fete him.
Rather, the long-awaited transition
was a seamless and carefully managed
affair, cloaked in the quiet formality of a
modest ceremony before the nation’s
National Assembly.
“In other countries, when a new president is elected, it brings change in one
form or another,” said Jose Luis Armenteros, 28, a psychologist taking a
smoke break on Thursday afternoon,
the day Mr. Díaz-Canel became president. “Here, a new president comes and
no one believes there will be change.”
He stood in the sun accompanied by
his friend Ulises Menendez, an electrician, who nodded quietly and added: “Illusions are a terrible thing in Cuba. You
cannot have them, because you never
know what will happen, and we are tired
of disappointment.”
There is a serious lag between change
at the top and change on the bottom in
After Raúl Castro officially took over
the presidency from his brother Fidel in
2008, he pushed through unprecedented
changes to open up the economy and
chart a new future. That included brokering a deal to make peace with the
United States, which paved the way for a
flood of well-heeled American visitors
that is now, under President Trump,
slowing drastically.
Here on the island, many feel deflated
by so much promise with so little impact
on their daily lives. They express a
sense of a hopelessness — a disappointment more deeply felt because of all the
anticipation that preceded it.
Those economic reforms? Some have
failed to materialize, while the most successful — the issuing of licenses to start
small businesses — has all but stalled as
the state deliberates how to move forward. The rapprochement with the
United States? President Trump all but
torpedoed it, at least in tone. Even the
As North Korea’s reclusive ruler, Kim
Jong-un, prepares for a landmark meeting with President Trump, he has seized
the diplomatic high ground, making conciliatory gestures on nuclear testing and
American troops that have buoyed
hopes in South Korea and won praise
from Mr. Trump himself, who called it
“big progress.”
But Mr. Kim’s audacious moves are
unsettling officials in the United States,
Japan and China. Some suspect he is
posturing in advance of the summit
meeting, as well as a separate meeting
this coming week with South Korea’s
president, and has no real intention of
acceding to demands that he relinquish
his nuclear weapons.
They worry that his gestures could
put Mr. Trump on the defensive in the
difficult negotiations to come, by offering symbolically potent but substantively modest concessions in place of
genuine disarmament — what one senior American official labeled a “freeze
The sudden offer of olive branches,
from a leader who only four months ago
warned the United States that he was
ready to launch missiles from a nuclear
button on his desk, is sharpening a question that has long bedeviled North Korea
watchers: What does Mr. Kim want?
In Washington, most officials and experts believe that the North Korean
leader is determined to cement his country’s status as a nuclear state while escaping the chokehold of economic sanctions. His concessions on nuclear testing and the presence of American troops
in South Korea, they said, are calculated
to prod the United States into easing
such penalties, even before the North
The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un,
has made conciliatory moves.
Growth is the new top priority for Kim
Jong-un, but will he trade his nuclear
arsenal to achieve it? PAGE 4
Museums shake things up, mixing old and new
Putting contemporary art
next to old masters leads
to a rediscovery of both
The juxtapositioning of a Rembrandt self-portrait next to a Mark Rothko painting at the
Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna was applauded and derided by museumgoers.
Y(1J85IC*KKNPKP( +#!"!?!#!_
Frans Hals, a Dutch Golden Age portraitist of wealthy merchants and jolly
rogues, was popular and successful in
his lifetime, but before he died, he fell
out of fashion. His loose, bold brush
strokes were too rough for the 18th century. But the Impressionists rediscovered him in the 19th century, and resurrected Hals as a modern master.
Nowadays, Hals ranks with his compatriots Rembrandt and Vermeer in the
pantheon of art history, but Ann Demeester, director of the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, prefers to see him as a
“transhistorical” figure, whose influence leapfrogs across time and into contemporary art.
That is why she has taken the unusual
step of rehanging highlights from the
museum’s permanent collection of Hals
works and other Golden Age art alongside the works of living artists such as
the photographer Nina Katchadourian,
the multimedia artist Shezad Dawood
and the painter and sculptor Anton Henning, for “Rendezvous with Frans Hals.”
She hopes to demonstrate that today’s
artists are still inspired by Hals’s 350year-old legacy.
“Transhistorical” is something of a
buzz word in curatorial circles these
days, as museums seek new ways to ignite public interest in older art. The
blending of old and new has drawn interest from collectors at art fairs such as
Frieze New York, and auction houses
are doing it too: Christie’s sold Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” in a
sale of contemporary art last year for
$450 million.
The Frans Hals Museum has shifted
its strategy to bring in transhistorical
ideas. The current show will stay in
place through September, after which
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Issue Number
No. 42,023
2 | MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2018
page two
A Pacific voyager:
The sweet potato
Frans Hals’ “Banquet of the Officers of the Calivermen Civic Guard,” from 1627, hangs beside Anton Henning’s “Interior No. 559,” from 2018, at the Frans Hals Museum.
Museums mix old with new
the museum will present other collection mash-ups, such as a February
2019 show, “Frans Hals and the Moderns,” that will present Hals works
alongside Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings.
“What it is trying to do is to say that
history lives,” Sheena Wagstaff, chairwoman of the modern and contemporary art department of the Metropolitan
Museum of Art in New York, said of the
transhistorical trend.
Ms. Wagstaff oversees the Met
Breuer, a branch of the Met, and, in a
telephone interview, she described her
programming there as “consciously
transhistorical,” a term she said she had
started using about six years ago.
“With a blending of history and contemporary art, we can reveal some of
the puzzles at the centers of great art,”
she said.
The Breuer’s 2016 exhibition “Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible” presented
incomplete paintings through the ages,
from Titian to Lucian Freud, Gerhard
Richter and Bruce Nauman. She followed up with “Like Life: Sculpture, Color and the Body (1300-Now),” on view
until July 22, which takes a nonchronological look at 700 years of sculptures of
the human body.
Including not only fine art but also
wax effigies and anatomical models, the
show opens with a hyperrealistic sculpture by Duane Hanson from 1984, jumps
from a 15th-century Donatello sculpture
to a Spanish Renaissance work by El
Greco, and juxtaposes a modern android with a 19th-century effigy of
Jeremy Bentham, made with the British
philosopher’s bones.
“The idea with this show was to open
it up and to expand the canon more, with
work that could be seen in a more populist way,” Ms. Wagstaff said.
Suzanne Sanders, an art historian in
Amsterdam, who organized conferences on “The Transhistorical Museum”
in 2015 and 2016, calls transhistorical cu-
rating “the most urgent thing curators
are doing in trying to reinvent the museum to create some sort of new paradigm.”
“It can be ‘trans’ in all these senses of
the word,” she explained, “from across
history, to transdisciplinary or queer, or
just to represent things in an inclusive
way, to find a balance between acknowledging and addressing points of view.”
But James Bradburne, director of the
Brera Art Gallery in Milan, said the
trend was just a new term for what curators have always done: “Try and bring
people back to the moment when the art
was contemporary.”
“We are always obliged to re-perform
the art we have in our collections in a
contemporary way,” he said, “just as an
actor, when they perform Shakespeare,
has to re-perform it for a contemporary
audience, whether in mafia costumes or
in drag.”
A year ago, M, a museum in Leuven,
Belgium, rehung its permanent collection as “Collection M: The Power of
Images,” presenting new comparisons,
such as a 14th-century Pietà alongside a
16th-century Baroque painting and a
conceptual art installation from 2009.
“We wanted to get out of this timechain approach,” its director, Eva Wittocx, said by telephone. “Even people
who know these works for a long time
can find new meanings or new ways of
looking at them.”
The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, whose permanent collection features art from Ancient Egypt to 1800,
borrowed 22 works of contemporary art
for “The Shape of Time,” which runs
through July 8. A nude covering herself
partly with a fur coat, by the Flemish
master Peter Paul Rubens in 1636-38,
for example, is presented alongside a
full-frontal nude portrait from the early
1970s by the Austrian artist Maria Lassnig.
“I’d like to think that we are teasing
out all of the ideas and concerns and
dreams and nightmares that are buried
“Young Couple” by Tullio Lombardo, from around 1505, is displayed next to “Untitled”
(Perfect Lovers), from 1987-1990, at an exhibit at Kunsthistorisches Museum.
Curators spend years figuring out
“what types of confrontations
would be interesting, respectful.”
in all of the historical works that we
have,” said Jasper Sharp, who curates
the museum’s program for modern and
contemporary art. But he added that the
curators spent years trying to figure out
“what types of confrontations would be
interesting, respectful,” he said.
Pairing Édouard Manet with Diego
Velázquez, or bringing a Titian into conversation with a J. M. W. Turner seemed
to work, he said, because “these are
very well-documented admirations of
younger artists looking at older artists.”
But other choices proved riskier.
Scores of art lovers responded on Instagram to the museum’s juxtaposition of a
Rembrandt self-portrait next to a Mark
Rothko color field painting. “Half of
them were saying ‘this is absolutely
abysmal,’ or ‘Rembrandt must be turning in his grave,’” Mr. Sharp said. “Some
of the connections knit together instantly; others reward more sustained
Ms. Demeester of the Frans Hals Museum pointed out that the history of art
is cacophonous in its connections and influences — with “people talking to each
other in salons and cafes and messing
things up.”
“In creating more meaning and new
stories for an audience, it’s important as
a museum to think more like an artist,”
she added. “An artist is more free, or less
inhibited than an art historian, to make
connections that go across time or
across culture or across geography. To
D.J. and producer with a global reach
that was intended to be the first in a series of three EPs.
The songs on “True” frequently
blended folk instruments with dance
beats. “Wake Me Up,” a song that lingered on the Hot 100 for more than a
year, featured soulful vocals from Aloe
Blacc singing about the lessons of
Tim Bergling, the Swedish D.J. and electronic dance music producer who rose to
fame under the stage name Avicii, has
been found dead in Muscat, the capital
of Oman. He was 28.
His death Friday was confirmed by a
spokeswoman, Diana Baron, who did
not specify a cause. He was in Oman, a
popular vacation destination on the Arabian Peninsula, to visit friends, she said.
“The family is devastated, and we ask
everyone to please respect their need
for privacy in this difficult time,” Ms.
Baron said.
Avicii became famous with his 2011 hit
“Levels” and was part of a wave of electronic dance music D.J.s who achieved
pop-star levels of prominence. His
songs have been streamed more than a
billion times on Spotify.
He was nominated for two Grammy
Awards for best dance recording, in 2012
and 2013, and his best-known song,
Tim Bergling, also known by the stage
name Avicii, in 2013.
“Wake Me Up,” reached the No. 4 spot
on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
He also released two albums: the platinum “True,” in 2013, and “Stories,” in
2015. Both “Levels” and “Wake Me Up”
were certified platinum; the singles
“Waiting for Love,” “The Nights,” “You
Make Me” and “I Could Be the One” — a
collaboration with Nicky Romero —
went gold.
His most recent release was the 2017
EP “Avı ci (01),” a six-track collection
So wake me up when it’s all over,
When I’m wiser and I’m older,
All this time I was finding myself, and I
Didn’t know I was lost.
On his recordings Avicii teamed up
with a wide range of musicians, including the bluegrass artist Dan Tyminski,
the country-rock singer Zac Brown, the
glam-pop vocalist Adam Lambert and
the rapper-singer Wyclef Jean.
He produced music for Madonna and
Coldplay and became one of the highest
paid D.J.s. In 2015, Forbes ranked him as
the world’s sixth-highest-paid D.J., estimating his annual earnings at $19 million.
But Avicii retired from international
touring in 2016 at age 26 after a series of
health scares that struck while he was
on the road.
He had his gallbladder and appendix
removed in 2014. Before that, at 21, he
learned he had acute pancreatitis,
which he said was related in part to excessive drinking.
“I was drinking way too much, partying in general way too much,” he said in
a 2013 interview with Time magazine.
“So that forced me to do a 180 and stop
Tim Bergling was born in Stockholm
on Sept. 8, 1989, to Klas Bergling and
Anki Lidén.
He is survived by his parents; his sister, Linda Sterner; and his brothers, Anton Körberg and David Bergling.
After his retirement, Avicii reassured
his fans that he would continue to record
music in the studio, which was “the
place where it all made sense,” he said in
a statement posted to his website. Making music, he wrote, was “what I feel I
was born to do.”
“The next stage will be all about my
love of making music to you guys,” he
added. “It is the beginning of something
Of all the plants that humanity has
turned into crops, none is more puzzling
than the sweet potato. Indigenous people of Central and South America grew it
on farms for generations, and Europeans discovered it when Christopher
Columbus arrived in the Caribbean.
In the 18th century, however, Captain
Cook stumbled across sweet potatoes
again — over 4,000 miles away, on remote Polynesian islands. European explorers later found them elsewhere in
the Pacific, from Hawaii to New Guinea.
The distribution of the plant baffled
scientists. How could sweet potatoes
arise from a wild ancestor and then wind
up scattered across such a wide range?
Was it possible that unknown explorers
had carried it from South America to
countless Pacific islands?
An extensive analysis of sweet potato
DNA, published this month in Current
Biology, concludes humans had nothing
to do with it. The bulky sweet potato
spread across the globe long before humans could have played a part — it’s a
natural traveler.
Some agricultural experts are skeptical. “This paper does not settle the matter,” said Logan J. Kistler, the curator of
archaeogenomics and archaeobotany at
the Smithsonian Institution.
Alternative explanations remain on
the table, because the new study didn’t
provide enough evidence for exactly
where sweet potatoes were first domesticated and when they arrived in the Pacific. “We still don’t have a smoking
gun,” Dr. Kistler said.
The sweet potato, Ipomoea batatas, is
one of the most valuable crops in the
world, providing more nutrients per
farmed acre than any other staple. It has
sustained human communities for centuries.
Scientists have offered several theories to explain the wide distribution of I.
batatas. Some scholars proposed that all
sweet potatoes originated in the Americas, and that after Columbus’s voyage,
they were spread by Europeans to colonies such as the Philippines. Pacific Islanders acquired the crops from there.
As it turned out, though, Pacific Islanders had been growing the crop for
generations by the time Europeans
showed up. On one Polynesian island,
archaeologists have found sweet potato
remains dating back over 700 years.
A radically different hypothesis
emerged: Pacific Islanders, masters of
open-ocean navigation, picked up sweet
potatoes by voyaging to the Americas,
long before Columbus’s arrival there.
The evidence included a suggestive coincidence: In Peru, some indigenous
people call the sweet potato cumara. In
New Zealand, it’s kumara.
Genetic evidence only complicated
the picture. Examining the plant’s DNA,
some researchers concluded that sweet
potatoes arose only once from a wild ancestor, while other studies indicated that
it happened at two different points in
According to the latter studies, South
Americans domesticated sweet potatoes, which were then acquired by Polynesians. Central Americans domesticated a second variety that later was
picked up by Europeans.
Hoping to shed light on the mystery, a
team of researchers recently undertook
a new study — the biggest survey of
sweet potato DNA yet. And they came to
a very different conclusion.
“We find very clear evidence that
sweet potatoes could arrive in the Pacific by natural means,” said Pablo
Muñoz-Rodríguez, a botanist at the University of Oxford. He believes the wild
plants traveled across the Pacific without any help from humans.
Mr. Muñoz-Rodríguez and his colleagues visited museums and herbariums around the world to take samples of
sweet potato varieties and wild relatives. The researchers used powerful
DNA-sequencing technology to gather
more genetic material from the plants
than possible in earlier studies.
Scientists are baffled by the sweet potato’s crossing of the Pacific.
Their research pointed to only one
wild plant as the ancestor of all sweet
potatoes. The closest wild relative is a
weedy flower called Ipomoea trifida
that grows around the Caribbean. Its
pale purple flowers look a lot like those
of the sweet potato.
Instead of a massive, tasty tuber, I. trifida grows only a pencil-thick root. “It’s
nothing we could eat,” Mr. Muñoz-Rodríguez said.
The ancestors of sweet potatoes split
from I. trifida at least 800,000 years ago,
the scientists calculated. To investigate
how they arrived in the Pacific, the team
headed to the Natural History Museum
in London.
The leaves of sweet potatoes that Captain Cook’s crew collected in Polynesia
are stored in the museum’s cabinets.
The researchers cut bits of the leaves
and extracted DNA from them.
The Polynesian sweet potatoes
turned out to be genetically unusual —
“very different from anything else,” Mr.
Muñoz-Rodríguez said.
The sweet potatoes found in Polynesia split off over 111,000 years ago from
all other sweet potatoes the researchers
studied. Yet humans arrived in New
Guinea about 50,000 years ago, and
reached remote Pacific islands only in
the past few thousand years.
The age of Pacific sweet potatoes
made it unlikely that any humans, Spanish or Pacific Islander, carried the
species from the Americas, Mr. MuñozRodríguez said.
Even before the sweet potato made
the journey, its wild relatives traveled
the Pacific, the scientists found. One
species, the Hawaiian moonflower, lives
only in the dry forests of Hawaii — but
its closest relatives all live in Mexico.
The scientists estimate that the Hawaiian moonflower separated from its
relatives — and made its journey across
the Pacific — over a million years ago.
But Tim P. Denham, an archaeologist
at the Australian National University
who was not involved in the study, said
this would suggest that the wild ancestors of sweet potatoes spread across the
Pacific and were then domesticated
many times over — yet wound up looking the same every time. “This would
seem unlikely,” he said.
Dr. Kistler argued that it was still possible that Pacific Islanders voyaged to
South America and returned with the
sweet potato. A thousand years ago,
they might have encountered many
sweet potato varieties on the continent.
When Europeans arrived in the 1500s,
they likely wiped out much of the crop’s
genetic diversity.
As a result, Dr. Kistler said, the surviving sweet potatoes of the Pacific only
seem distantly related to the ones in the
Americas. If the scientists had done the
same study in 1500, Pacific sweet potatoes would have fit right in with other
South American varieties.
Working out the history of crops like
this could do more than satisfy our curiosity about the past. Wild plants hold a
lot of genetic variants lost when people
domesticated crops.
Researchers may find plants they can
hybridize with domesticated sweet potatoes and other crops, endowing them
with genes for resistance to diseases, or
for withstanding climate change.
“Essentially, it’s preserving the gene
pool that feeds the world,” Dr. Kistler
Christopher Columbus arriving in the Caribbean, where he also found the sweet potato.
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MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2018 | 3
Musicians aging in concert
Milan house built by Verdi
is ornate retirement home
for professional performers
There was a buzz, as some two dozen
concertgoers in silk scarves and
sparkling jewels arrived with the help of
wheelchairs, walkers and canes, and
took their seats in the ornate, hardwoodfloor concert hall of Milan’s Rest Home
for Musicians, known as Casa Verdi,
which is run by the Giuseppe Verdi
A hush fell, as two musicians in
evening dress took up their positions behind two golden harps. The room filled
with shimmering music by Debussy.
The audience was rapt.
“Bravo,” murmured Luisa Mandelli, a
soprano who sang with Maria Callas at
La Scala in Milan. Then she cocked her
head in dismay: Two seats away, a nattily dressed tenor in a black suit and tie
had begun snoring gently. “He’s 98,”
whispered Ms. Mandelli, who is 95. She
leaned over and slapped her former colleague’s knee.
Ms. Mandelli is one of 60 older musicians living in Casa Verdi, a sumptuous
neo-Gothic mansion built in central Milan by Verdi. Completed in 1899, the
building was created as a sanctuary for
musicians who found themselves poverty-stricken in old age, “Old singers not
favored by fortune, or who, when they
were young, did not possess the virtue of
saving,” as Verdi wrote in a letter at the
Nowadays, pensions and social security have reduced the economic necessity of a refuge like this, said Roberto
Ruozi, president of the Giuseppe Verdi
Foundation, which uses investments
made with the royalties from the composer’s operas to fund the rest home.
Residents pay on a sliding scale, according to their means.
Nonetheless, Casa Verdi is inundated
each year with applications from composers, conductors, singers, orchestral
players, music teachers and anyone else
who has “exercised the art of music as a
profession,” as the foundation’s website
puts it. Once applicants establish their
professional bona fides, Casa Verdi’s
board makes choices based on who they
think will be a good fit.
The successful applicants get to
spend their last years in a place where,
in addition to room, board and medical
treatment, they have access to concerts,
music rooms, 15 pianos, a large organ,
harps, drum sets and the company of
their peers.
“Now, the majority of our clients are
not in very bad economic condition, but
wish to continue to play, and be involved
with, music,” Mr. Ruozi said. Casa
Verdi’s talented clientele have the same
needs as other old people, with some exceptions, he added: “First, they need
music. Second, they want to be treated
not as common guests, but as special
guests — as a star.” Mr. Ruozi sighed.
“We have 60 old musicians and 60
Giuseppe Verdi built the sumptuous Casa Verdi, a neo-Gothic mansion that opened in Milan in 1899, for “old singers not favored by fortune, or who, when they were young, did not possess the virtue of saving.”
“First, they need music. Second,
they want to be treated not as
common guests, but as special
guests — as a star.”
Upstairs, in an elegant sitting room,
two residents waited for the lunch hour.
Sitting in comfortably overstuffed red
armchairs, they reflected on what they
liked about living here. “We’re not missing anything,” said Angelo Loforese, a
98-year-old tenor who is currently the
oldest person living at Casa Verdi. “You
can get a manicure, a haircut, a shave.”
Lorenzo Saccomani, 79, nodded in
agreement. Explaining that he had sung
some of his first roles onstage with Mr.
Loforese — who at the time was much
more experienced — Mr. Saccomani
said Casa Verdi felt like home. “We
found some of our colleagues,” he said.
As if to illustrate Mr. Saccomani’s
point, the conductor Armando Gatto, 89,
came in, pushing his walker. Dressed in
a wool suit and dark glasses, Mr. Gatto
was greeted as “maestro” by the two
singers, both of whom he conducted onstage as younger men.
“It feels protected here,” said Mr.
Gatto, who worked all over the world before moving to Casa Verdi with his wife,
a soprano, who is now 90. “I feel respected and loved.”
A 96-year-old violinist in bright pink
lipstick and golden slippers nodded
when the men asked if it was time for
lunch. They stood, and made their way
to the airy dining room. A few minutes
later, they were joined by Beatriz Cortesão, 19, a harpist, who was wearing
jeans. Ms. Cortesão is part of a relatively
Left, Luisa Mandelli’s room is decorated with portraits of singers she performed with and composers she admires. Right, Claudio Giombi giving a student resident a singing lesson.
new tradition: In 1998, Casa Verdi decided to try renting rooms to music students.
While some of the old musicians were
wary, the experiment turned out to be a
success, and today, 16 students live in
Casa Verdi. They are charged a low rent,
and they join the older musicians at
mealtimes. Old and young agreed that
the arrangement was a good one:
Younger musicians learned from the
older ones, while the older musicians
said they were happy to have young
people who shared their love of music
Cosimo Moretti de Angelis, 25, an-
other student who lives at Casa Verdi,
said that he tried to teach the older musicians how to use the internet. “We talk
about everything — music, but also everyday problems, politics, elections,
technologies,” Mr. de Angelis said, adding that he felt very lucky to live in a
place where he could practice the piano
any time he wanted.
But not everyone said they were
happy. In a bedroom decorated with
black-and-white photos of himself in
costume, Claudio Giombi, a baritone,
said fellow residents complained too
much about their aches and pains. Since
moving here six years ago, the 80-year-
old and his wife said they had given up
trying to run musical projects with other
residents. “There is always a sharp
tongue — the envious ones — a lot of
people here say ‘what does he want? Is
he looking for the limelight?’”
Despite their frustrations, Mr. Giombi
and his wife said they enjoyed the concerts regularly held by Casa Verdi —
among other performances, La Scala
sends singers over several times a year
— and Mr. Giombi said he liked his
morning ritual of reading the newspaper in the library.
Ms. Mandelli, the soprano, acknowledged that getting older came with limi-
tations: Her left leg began hurting recently, and now she only takes the metro
to see performances at La Scala four
times a week, instead of every night.
“I’ve become lazy,” she said.
Bissy Roman, 93, taking a break from
Casa Verdi’s afternoon bingo game —
which, she said, she never wins, anyway
— said she was originally from Romania, but had worked all over the world,
including in New York, as an opera director and music teacher, before moving
to Casa Verdi two years ago. “I am alone,
I never married, my family is music,”
she said. “So, I was obliged to find a solution for my old age.”
clearest in France’s refusal to go along
with the American invasion of Iraq.
More recently, however, France and
the United States have found themselves on the same page when it comes
to terrorism and working closely together on the problems in North Africa, as
well as in the Middle East.
So as genuine allies on the defense
front, Mr. Macron “has to try” to bring
Mr. Trump along, Ms. Nardon said.
If he can move Mr. Trump a little on
policy, so much the better, but as Mr.
Macron has said himself, Mr. Trump is
not easy to persuade.
“Sometimes I manage to convince
him, sometimes I fail,” he told a BBC interviewer in January.
The risk, said Thomas Guénolé, a political scientist who follows geopolitics
closely and teaches at the Université
Paris-Est at Créteil, is that Mr. Macron
gives too much to Mr. Trump and gets
little in return.
“Emmanuel Macron doesn’t risk being unpopular for trying to get things
from Donald Trump and trying to negotiate with him,” Mr. Guénolé said.
“The problem would come if, like Tony
Blair, he tried to get things by developing a strong relationship with the U.S.
president, but afterward got too little,”
said Mr. Guénolé, referring to the former British prime minister who allied
himself with President George W.
Bush’s decision to remove Saddam Hussein and found himself and his country
mired for years in the war in Iraq.
Mr. Guénolé, Ms. Nardon and other
analysts say that Mr. Macron is taking
advantage of the vacuum left in Europe
by Prime Minister Theresa May’s preoccupation with how to get Britain out of
the European Union and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s focus on maintaining an
unwieldy coalition in Germany.
In a way, that fits well with the Trump
White House.
“France’s cooperation with the United
States has always been pragmatic,” said
Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer, a senior
trans-Atlantic fellow and director of the
Paris office of the German Marshall
Fund. “So in a certain way, the French
pragmatic way mirrors Trump’s transactional approach,” she added. “It’s why
they can succeed in getting along while
they have very deep policy disagreements.”
If the rhetoric is stripped away, Mr.
Macron in fact has set rather modest
goals, although the show of friendship
with Mr. Trump can be distracting, she
said. “It’s to keep the U.S. engaged in the
international system, the multilateral
system, and not give the U.S. the sense
that the Europeans are trying to isolate
Washington,” she said.
Mr. Macron will be in Washington for
three days, with a State Dinner set for
Tuesday and a speech to Congress on
Wednesday. Still, a senior aide at the
Élysée tried to lower expectations. It
would be a mistake to judge the success
of the trip by what the French president
could get from Mr. Trump, the aide said.
Instead, the visit will allow time for the
two leaders to luxuriate in the pomp and
circumstance that they both enjoy and
for them to talk in a more personal way
with their wives present.
In a January television interview, Mr.
Macron waxed about how the two men
talked often and how he felt “attached”
to Mr. Trump. But when the interviewer
asked how he could be friendly with the
American president, Mr. Macron laid
out his colder, strategic assessment.
“The United States is the premier
power; it is our most important partner
in multilateral endeavors; it’s our first
partner in the fight against terrorism; it
is important for collective security,” he
“We can be angry with the United
States, we may disagree about the methods as we do on Iran, but at the end, we
are in agreement,” he said.
French president takes a risk in courting Trump
President Emmanuel Macron was put
on the spot this year in front of a room
full of journalists when one asked, provocatively: Which man is more dangerous, North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un;
or Donald J. Trump?
“You know, I have always refrained
from making sweeping judgments,” Mr.
Macron answered slowly, weighing his
words. “The American people have chosen their president,” he said. “Our relationship with the United States is absolutely critical, in fact. Fundamental. We
need it.”
With that careful answer, the leader of
France sought to reassure a French public hostile to the American president
that pure pragmatism governed his relations, while hinting that by giving Mr.
Trump the benefit of the doubt, he could
get something in return.
But has he? Mr. Macron departs on
Monday for his first official visit to
Washington at a particularly difficult
moment in his young presidency. His
popularity is challenged on many fronts.
His ambitious domestic reform program
has been barraged by strikes. His big
plans to overhaul the European Union
are in tatters.
And the verdict on the French president’s subtle calculus toward Mr. Trump
is mixed. Almost alone among Europe’s
leaders, Mr. Macron has struck an apparent rapport with the mercurial
American president, who has taken
pride in testing, even alienating, some of
his country’s oldest and truest allies.
Mr. Macron has made a gamble, given
Mr. Trump’s unpopularity, that he can
court him but not be tarnished by him —
or even that he can burnish his own reputation as a leader who is so psycholog-
President Emmanuel Macron of France is gambling, given President Trump’s unpopularity among the French, that he can deal with him but not be tarnished by him.
ically astute that he can gain the ear of
an American president who is in many
respects his polar opposite.
A year into a sustained charm offensive, Mr. Macron has won a trip to Washington, occasioned by an invitation from
Mr. Trump for a formal state visit, the
first the American leader has extended
during his presidency.
But other than that, he has little to
show for his courtship of Mr. Trump. Mr.
Macron has gotten “nothing” was the
unsparing judgment of Denis Lacorne,
who teaches at Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris, widely known as Sciences Po, and is a seasoned observer of
French-American relations.
Mr. Macron pitched hard to bring Mr.
Trump around on climate change, the
antinuclear proliferation deal with Iran
and trade tariffs on steel and aluminum,
Mr. Lacorne noted.
But the American president withdrew
from the Paris climate accord; is on the
verge of abandoning the Iran deal and
potentially could lead the Europeans to
leave it, as well; and is moving ahead
with tariffs on aluminum and steel that
will hurt some European allies.
“You don’t see concrete results,” said
Laurence Nardon, the director of the
North America program at the French
Institute of International Relations.
But Mr. Macron, in her view, may get
something intangible. “What Macron
gets is that he is seen as being close to
the U.S. and even to Trump, and that
gives his presidency and France bigger
clout,” Ms. Nardon said.
Mr. Macron has built a career out of
offering respectful, flattering attention
to older power figures. Mr. Trump is only
the latest in a succession of such men
Mr. Macron has cleverly used and then
leapfrogged over. The French leader
had the insight that Mr. Trump would be
thrilled by the military might of France’s
annual Bastille Day Parade, with its
show of hardware, and invited him to
share a front-row seat last July.
Mr. Trump was so taken with it, he ordered up one of his own for this year,
now tentatively scheduled for Nov. 11,
Veterans Day, but with details still in
No one should confuse Mr. Macron’s
attention to Mr. Trump’s likes and dislikes with a genuine bromance, however, and Mr. Macron’s staff bristles at the
suggestion that the two are friends.
Asked at a media luncheon about purported closeness between the two leaders, Benjamin Griveaux, the government’s spokesman, responded: “I don’t
think they are buddies. The goal is not to
have affectionate relations, but to establish some sort of personal connection.”
Mr. Macron himself makes selective
criticisms of Mr. Trump as if to send a
clear signal to the French that he is not
naïve. He said publicly that Mr. Trump
had made a mistake to deride Haiti and
African nations.
His tone in talking about the Iran nuclear nonproliferation pact and the Paris
climate accord brushes aside Mr.
Trump’s positions. “There is no Plan B,”
his aides say of the Iran deal, echoing
Mr. Macron’s frequent comment about
the climate pact, “There is no Planet B.”
The Janus-faced approach — at once
warm and friendly to Mr. Trump but at
the same time keeping his options open
— in some ways reflects the French
love-hate relationship with America.
France disdains America’s brashness
and unilateralism but also admires its
popular culture and the fluidity of a society where it is easier to rise to wealth
and power than in France.
In foreign policy, France’s independent line, forged by the former president
and general Charles de Gaulle, was
4 | MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2018
Kim’s change in stance makes others wary
dismantles its arsenal. Mr. Trump has
vowed not to do that.
But aides say he is beguiled by the
prospect of making history on the Korean Peninsula. He has yet to impose any
preconditions on his meeting with Mr.
Kim, not even the release of three Americans who are being held in North Korea,
though officials say the United States is
working hard to get them out.
Last week, he endorsed Mr. Kim’s effort to reach a peace accord with South
Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, which
would formally end the 68-year military
conflict in Korea. Inside the White
House, some worry that Mr. Kim will use
promises of peace to peel South Korea
away from the United States and blunt
efforts to force him to give up his nuclear
“People don’t realize the Korean War
has not ended,” Mr. Trump said with
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan sitting next to him. “It’s going on right now.
And they are discussing an end to the
war. So, subject to a deal, they would certainly have my blessing.”
Mr. Abe pointedly did not echo those
sentiments. Japan is deeply skeptical of
Mr. Kim’s motives and worried that its
security concerns may not be taken into
account in any agreement between either North and South Korea, or North
Korea and the United States.
Japanese officials dismissed North
Korea’s announcement that it was suspending nuclear and missile tests as
“not sufficient” because it did not clearly
state whether it included the short- and
midrange missiles that are capable of
hitting Japanese territory.
“Just because North Korea is responding to dialogue, there should be no
reward,” Mr. Abe said after spending
two days with Mr. Trump at his Palm
Beach estate in Florida, Mar-a-Lago.
“Maximum pressure should be maintained, and actual implementation of
concrete actions towards denuclearization will be demanded.”
Even China, which is accustomed to
controlling its relationship with North
Korea without interference from other
powers, is chafing at the speed of events
and the increasingly warm feelings between Pyongyang and Washington. Chinese officials fear that they will be sidelined in negotiations and that Mr. Kim
will pursue a deal with the United States
that places the North closer to Washington than Beijing.
Much of the anxiety in Tokyo and Beijing stems from the unpredictability of
the main players. Mr. Trump, who
threatened in August to rain “fire and
fury” on the North, is now talking about
“good will” between Washington and
Pyongyang. Mr. Kim has proved more
adroit than many expected in orchestrating the diplomatic opening to South
Korea and the United States.
“They’re doing a great job of appearing reasonable, but picking apart the
maximum pressure campaign, and positioning themselves to be accepted as a
nuclear weapons state in the future,”
said Evan S. Medeiros, a former senior
Asia adviser to President Barack
Adding to the uncertainty is the flux
on Mr. Trump’s national security team.
Days after accepting Mr. Kim’s invitation to meet, the president fired his
secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, and
his national security adviser, Lt. Gen.
H. R. McMaster, was forced to step
The so-called truce village of Panmunjom, where the North and South Korean leaders will meet on April 27, could also be the location for a meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un.
South Korea is banking on
Mr. Kim’s desire to improve
the economy and Mr. Trump’s
need for a diplomatic victory.
down. Now, Mr. Trump has entrusted
the diplomacy to Mike Pompeo, the
C.I.A. director, whom he nominated to
replace Mr. Tillerson and who is embroiled in a difficult Senate confirmation
Mr. Pompeo traveled secretly to
Pyongyang over Easter weekend to
meet Mr. Kim, bringing along only aides
from the spy agency. He raised the issue
of the detained Americans, according to
a senior official. But much of his one-day
visit was devoted to logistical issues,
like the venue and date for a meeting,
which is expected in late May or early
The lack of involvement by the White
House or the State Department, another
official said, has limited the amount of
substantive preparation for the meeting
with Mr. Kim.
General McMaster’s hawkish succes-
sor, John R. Bolton, is another wild card.
Two weeks before he was recruited as
national security adviser, he said a
meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr.
Kim was useful only because it would inevitably fail, and then the United States
could move swiftly on to the next phase
— presumably a military confrontation.
“It could be a long and unproductive
meeting, or it could be a short and unproductive meeting,” he said on Fox
Since entering the White House, however, Mr. Bolton has stuck to a traditional definition of his job, brokering
proposals to present to Mr. Trump, officials said. Even among officials who
worry about war, there is sympathy for
his view that “failing quickly” would be
valuable. The United States, they said,
should flush out Mr. Kim’s intentions before he has another six months or a year
to master intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Mr. Bolton’s presence has also not
stopped Mr. Trump from praising Mr.
Kim and voicing optimism — even excitement — about their looming encounter. On Friday, he tweeted, “North Korea
has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests
and close up a major test site. This is
very good news for North Korea and the
World — big progress! Look forward to
our Summit.”
The administration viewed Mr. Kim’s
statement about halting nuclear tests as
more intriguing than his acceptance of a
continuing American troop presence because he made it to his own people. Still,
they noted his unwillingness to rule out
short- and medium-range missiles,
which they said could divide Japan from
the United States.
Officials also acknowledged the challenge of staying in sync with Mr. Moon,
who is acting as a mediator between the
United States and North Korea and who
is deeply invested in ending years of estrangement between the North and
Mr. Moon contends that it would not
be difficult to broker a “broad” agreement between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim in
which North Korea commits to giving up
its arsenal and the United States makes
security guarantees, including a peace
treaty and normalized ties, and offers
economic aid that Mr. Kim needs.
South Korea envisions a sequential
process, starting with an agreement to
freeze North Korea’s nuclear program
and ending with total denuclearization.
The North, officials said, will insist that
for each step it takes, the United States
offer reciprocal incentives.
Such an approach is not new: The
George W. Bush administration tried it
with Mr. Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il, in
2005. But the process could be openended if North Korea and the United
States, mistrustful of each other, haggle
each step of the way, as they did then.
The key to success, South Korean officials said, is if North Korea and the
United States can agree to narrow the
time span between the initial freeze,
which Mr. Moon has called “the entrance,” and complete denuclearization,
which he calls “the exit.”
South Korean officials are banking on
Mr. Kim’s desperate desire to improve
the economy and Mr. Trump’s need for a
diplomatic victory before the midterm
elections in November.
Once they reach a broad deal, analysts said, Mr. Kim could move to dismantle production facilities for inter-
continental ballistic missiles and allow
access to nuclear sites in the North; the
two leaders could exchange liaison offices in Pyongyang and Washington;
and Mr. Trump could ease sanctions, especially those that affect ordinary North
Like their American counterparts,
South Korean officials do not believe
that Mr. Kim will swiftly relinquish his
nuclear weapons. But there is a growing
belief in Seoul that he might ultimately
bargain them away, if it helps him rebuild the economy. That is why some in
South Korea viewed his announcement
on testing as a hopeful sign.
“It means that North Korea is willing
to give up an ICBM capability that
threatens the United States,” said
Cheong Seong-chang, a senior North
Korea analyst at the Sejong Institute, a
research institution in South Korea.
“This is why it is good news for the
Trump administration.”
Mark Landler reported from Washington, and Choe Sang-Hun from Seoul.
Jane Perlez contributed reporting from
Beijing, and Motoko Rich from Tokyo.
North Korean wants to start talks as head of a nuclear power
Growth is the new priority:
The question is whether
he might trade arms for it
For as long as Kim Jong-un has been
North Korea’s leader, he has called for
the simultaneous pursuit of nuclear
weapons and economic growth with the
aim of making the nation a “great socialist nuclear power.”
On Saturday, however, Mr. Kim
abruptly announced he was retiring his
signature policy, known as byungjin, or
“parallel advance.”
The strategy has been at the center of
his government’s propaganda and is enshrined in the charter of the governing
Workers’ Party. But Mr. Kim said it was
now time to adopt a “new strategic line”
and focus the nation’s resources on rebuilding its economy.
As for nuclear weapons, he essentially declared that mission accomplished, saying North Korea no longer
needed to test long-range missiles or
atomic bombs and would close its only
known nuclear test site. The byungjin
policy, he said, already had achieved a
“great victory” — an arsenal capable of
deterring the nation’s enemies.
Mr. Kim’s pivot away from nuclear
testing and toward the economy came
just days before a scheduled meeting
with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and weeks before his planned summit meeting with President Trump.
Despite lingering doubts about his nation’s ability to strike the continental
United States with a nuclear weapon,
Mr. Kim appeared to be making clear he
intended to enter negotiations with
Washington the way the Soviets did dec-
ades ago, as an established nuclear
power. The big question is whether he
will relinquish his nuclear weapons.
South Korean policymakers argue
that Mr. Kim is signaling a willingness to
dismantle his nuclear arsenal for the
right incentives, including economic
aid, a peace treaty and other security
guarantees from Washington — measures he needs to rebuild the North’s
“He is seeking the kind of rapid economic growth seen in China,” said Lee
Jong-seok, a former unification minister
of South Korea. “The North Korea he envisions is different from his father’s
North Korea.” Mr. Lee also noted: “We
have looked only on the nuclear side of
Kim Jong-un’s rule, trying hard not to
look at the other side. He is ready to bargain away nuclear weapons for the sake
of economic development. If he were
content with just feeding his people
three meals a day, he would not give up
his nuclear weapons.”
Cheong Seong-chang, a senior North
Korea expert at the Sejong Institute, a
research group in South Korea, said Mr.
Kim’s announcement would further
raise “his people’s expectation for economic improvement.”
But North Korea has long said that its
nuclear weapons are not bargaining
chips, and Mr. Kim himself has called
them “a treasured sword of justice” and
“a powerful deterrent firmly safeguarding” his people’s “rights to existence.”
Lee Sung-yoon, a Korea expert at the
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
at Tufts University, called Mr. Kim’s decision just a replay of an old North Korean tactic — trying to confuse enemies
with dramatic gestures in an attempt to
win concessions, without ever intending
to give up nuclear weapons.
“History repeats itself as farce,” he
said, adding: “Kim Jong-un’s ploys are
unoriginal and rather lazy.”
American officials say they have been
Korea has not completed an advanced
nuclear arsenal.”
“It would be a significant accomplishment to halt their progress while we negotiate steps to roll back these programs,” he added.
In recent weeks, some officials and
analysts in South Korea have argued
that a much more fundamental shift
might be underway in North Korea.
In seeking economic growth, Mr.
Kim will need the world’s help.
Kim Jong-un appears intent on entering talks with President Moon Jae-in
of South Korea and later with President Trump as an established nuclear power.
repeatedly cheated by the North in previous talks on denuclearization. A deal
in 1994 eventually collapsed when the
United States accused the North of secretly enriching uranium. Another deal
in 2005 fell apart in a dispute over how to
verify a nuclear freeze. In 2012, the
North launched a long-range rocket after agreeing to a moratorium on missile
Mr. Kim’s decision to make the economy the nation’s priority and suspend
nuclear tests was unanimously adopted
at a Workers’ Party meeting on Friday.
He also pledged to neither use nor proliferate nuclear weapons unless faced
with a nuclear threat.
Washington, Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo
welcomed the move, although they cautioned that the suspension of tests was
just one step toward denuclearization.
The announcement made no mention of
further steps. Mr. Kim did pledge to create an “international environment favorable for the socialist economic construction.”
Analysts said that will give him political cover for negotiating reductions in
his arsenal.
“This reads more like an arms-control
offer from a nuclear nation than an isolated regime coerced into disarmament,” said Adam Mount, a senior fellow
at the Federation of American Scientists
in Washington. “It is a carefully circumscribed statement. It describes a partial
cap of North Korea’s nuclear and missile
programs but not disarmament. Even
under these restrictions, North Korea
could continue to expand its capabilities
But Mr. Mount said that a suspension
of testing is important because “by most
technical or military standards, North
Under byungjin, Mr. Kim accelerated
the North’s nuclear and intercontinental
ballistic missile programs, declaring
late last year that it had completed a nuclear deterrent. At the same time, he has
introduced market-oriented changes,
initiating a building boom in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.
He also has announced plans to open
special economic zones in his country,
where he hopes to attract foreign investors, a dream that can be realized only if
international sanctions against North
Korea are eased.
Mr. Kim’s father and predecessor, Kim
Jong-il, ruled North Korea with the
songun, or “military first,” policy, which
focused resources on the military, favoring top generals with lucrative rights to
export minerals and seafood. The military stood behind him as he led the country through a famine in the 1990s that
killed more than two million people.
In 2012, in his first public speech as
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un said
he would not let his people “tighten their
belt again,” a startling admission of failure by a member of a ruling family that
is seen as godlike and faultless.
In 2013, his Workers’ Party adopted
the byungjin policy, arguing that economic growth could occur only if the nation was secure. In a party congress in
2016, Mr. Kim said that byungjin was not
a temporary step but a permanent strategy. In another party meeting in October, he said North Korea was “absolutely
right” when it pursued byungjin.
Exaggerating American hostility and
creating a sense of empowerment
through nuclear weapons has become a
hallmark of state propaganda legitimizing Mr. Kim’s dynastic rule. Mr. Kim also
has engineered bloody purges, killing
scores of top generals, his uncle and his
half brother, to establish unchallenged
Mr. Kim began his shift toward declaring victory on the nuclear front with a
speech on New Year’s Day in which he
said the United States would never
“dare to ignite a war against me and our
country.” He has since engaged in a diplomatic whirlwind, visiting Beijing to
confer with China’s leader, Xi Jinping,
and initiating the coming meetings with
President Moon and President Trump.
His ultimate motives remain uncertain. Some analysts say that Mr. Kim is
driven by a desperate need to ease sanctions that have crippled his country, and
may try to get away with a temporary
and deceptive freeze of his nuclear program. Others argue that he is acting in
confidence that his nuclear weapons
give him new leverage to rebuild the
If Mr. Kim is serious about economic
growth, though, he will need the world’s
help, analysts say. They point to the example set in the 1980s by China’s paramount leader at the time, Deng Xiaoping, whose opening to the West was
critical to his country’s boom.
“Whether Kim Jong-un will become
the Deng Xiaoping of North Korea will
depend on whether the international
community, including the United States
and South Korea, can provide security
guarantees and opportunities for economic development so that it will denuclearize,” Mr. Cheong said.
MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2018 | 5
Punching bag for Trump now has clout
on Mr. Trump’s behalf. And he has been
active in Mr. Trump’s political ventures.
When Mr. Trump pondered running for
president in 2012, it was Mr. Cohen who
went on an early trip to Iowa to meet
with Republican operatives and who set
He even initially sought to pay some
of the costs for the site with money
raised for his own abortive run for New
York State Senate.
Mr. Trump never ran in 2012, but Mr.
Cohen raised $500,000 in four hours for
the Mitt Romney presidential campaign
that year during one of their “national
call days” — and had campaign officials
credit it as money that his boss had
raised, one former Romney official recalled.
When Mr. Trump ran for president in
2016, Mr. Cohen was given no official
role on the campaign.
After raids by F.B.I.,
president’s fixer could
cooperate in inquiries
For years, a joke among Trump Tower
employees was that the boss was like
Manhattan’s First Avenue, where the
traffic goes only one way.
That one-sidedness has always been
at the heart of President Trump’s relationship with his longtime lawyer and
fixer, Michael D. Cohen, who has said he
would “take a bullet” for Mr. Trump. For
years Mr. Trump treated Mr. Cohen
poorly, with gratuitous insults, dismissive statements and, at least twice,
threats of being fired, according to interviews with a half-dozen people familiar
with their relationship.
“Donald goes out of his way to treat
him like garbage,” said Roger J. Stone
Jr., Mr. Trump’s informal and longestserving political adviser, who, along
with Mr. Cohen, was one of five people
originally surrounding the president
when he was considering a presidential
campaign before 2016.
Now, for the first time, the traffic may
be going Mr. Cohen’s way. Mr. Trump’s
lawyers and advisers have become resigned to the strong possibility that Mr.
Cohen, who has a wife and two children
and faces the prospect of devastating legal fees, if not criminal charges, could
end up cooperating with federal officials
who are investigating him for activity
that could relate, at least in part, to work
he did for Mr. Trump.
Two weeks ago federal agents raided
Mr. Cohen’s office and hotel room and
seized business records, emails and
other material as part of what Mr.
Trump has called a “witch hunt” by his
own Justice Department. The trove included documents dating back decades,
as well as more recent ones related to a
payment in 2016 to a pornographic film
actress who has said she had a sexual
encounter with Mr. Trump, which Mr.
Trump denies.
Although Mr. Trump called Mr. Cohen
four days after the raid to “check in,’’ according to people familiar with the call,
he and Mr. Cohen have spoken little
since Mr. Trump entered the White
The two men did have dinner together
at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s private club
in Florida, a few weeks ago, but since the
raid Mr. Cohen has told associates he
feels isolated.
Mr. Trump has long felt he had leverage over Mr. Cohen, but people who
have worked for the president said the
raid has changed all that.
“Ironically, Michael now holds the
leverage over Trump,” said Sam Nunberg, a former aide to Mr. Trump who
worked with Mr. Cohen and Mr. Stone.
Mr. Nunberg said that Mr. Cohen
“should maximize” that leverage.
Michael Cohen has said
that he would take
a bullet for Mr. Trump.
Maybe not anymore.
Michael Cohen, center, President Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, has described himself as unflinchingly loyal to Mr. Trump. But Mr. Trump has often treated him poorly.
“The softer side of the president genuinely has an affection for Michael,” Mr.
Nunberg said. For instance, Mr. Trump
attended the bar and bat mitzvahs of Mr.
Cohen’s children. “However, the president has also taken Michael for
granted.” Mr. Nunberg added that
“whenever anyone complains to me
about Trump screwing them over, my
reflexive response is that person has
nothing to complain about compared to
Mr. Stone recalled Mr. Trump saying
of Mr. Cohen, “He owns some of the
finest Trump real estate in the country
— paid top dollar for it, too.” In Mr.
Trump’s worldview, there are few insults more devastating than saying
someone overpaid.
For years, Mr. Cohen has described
himself as unflinchingly devoted to Mr.
Trump, whom he has admired since high
school. He has told interviewers that he
has never heard Mr. Trump utter an inaccuracy or break a promise. He has
tweeted about Mr. Trump nearly 3,000
In a Fox News interview last year, Mr.
Cohen declared: “I will do anything to
protect Mr. Trump.’’ He told Vanity Fair
in September that “I’m the guy who
would take a bullet for the president,”
adding, “I’d never walk away.”
At a Republican fund-raiser at Mar-aLago earlier this year, Mr. Cohen went
so far as to approach the first lady, Melania Trump, to try to apologize for the
pain he caused her with the payment to
Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy
Daniels, the adult film actress who has
claimed to have had the sexual encounter with Mr. Trump.
Over the years, Mr. Trump threatened
to fire Mr. Cohen over deals that didn’t
work out, or problems with business
projects, people who were present for
the discussions said.
He was aware that Mr. Cohen had
benefited in other business projects by
being seen as affiliated with the Trump
Organization, and it irked him. “He
clearly doesn’t think that Michael Cohen
is his Roy Cohn,” said Tim O’Brien, a
Trump biographer, referring to Mr.
Trump’s former mentor and the president’s ideal for a pit bull-like defender. “I
think his abusive behavior to Michael is
animated by his feeling that Michael is
Prosecutors have argued that Mr. Cohen did little actual legal work for Mr.
Trump and instead focused on extensive
political, media and real-estate dealings
for the president.
Michael D’Antonio, another Trump biographer, recalled Mr. Cohen calling him
soon before the book was published.
“He wanted to know if I was going to
call Trump a racist and he wanted to
know” if it would include an old allegation from Mr. Trump’s wife, Ivana
Trump, that he had committed marital
rape, Mr. D’Antonio said.
Mr. Cohen also wanted the title of the
book, which was originally “Never
Enough,” changed, Mr. D’Antonio said.
He recalled saying to Mr. Cohen, “When
has it ever been enough for Donald?”
“And Cohen started laughing, and he
said, ‘I don’t have a problem with the title personally,’” Mr. D’Antonio recalled.
Nonetheless, he said, Mr. Cohen said he
would call the publisher to get the title
changed, and then threatened a lawsuit
when he couldn’t.
In 2007, Mr. Cohen was dispatched,
along with Ivanka Trump, to scout a golf
course development project in Fresno,
Calif., that didn’t materialize. The next
year, he served as chief operating officer
of Affliction Entertainment, a Trump
mixed-martial arts venture of boxing,
wrestling and karate that featured a
Russian Army veteran named Fedor
Emelianenko. (“His thing is inflicting
death on people,” Mr. Trump said at the
He has also scouted business opportunities for Mr. Trump in the former Soviet bloc, including a 2010 trip to Georgia
He fought with the initial campaign
manager, Corey Lewandowski. Paul
Manafort, the campaign chairman, later
blocked him from coming on board. Mr.
Trump never ordered his aides to make
a place for Mr. Cohen.
Some of Mr. Cohen’s efforts to help
only led to embarrassing rebuffs in front
of those in charge. A month before the
election, Mr. Cohen approached Mr.
Trump outside his Trump Tower office
with photographs of Bill Clinton and a
mixed-race man alleged — without any
evidence — to be the former president’s
illegitimate son. Mr. Trump knocked the
papers away, angrily telling Mr. Cohen
to “get that out of my face,” said one former campaign official who witnessed
the incident.
Particularly hurtful to Mr. Cohen was
the way Mr. Trump lavished approval on
Mr. Lewandowski in a way he never did
for Mr. Cohen.
When Mr. Cohen told Mr. Trump that
he believed that Mr. Lewandowski had
been behind a negative story about Mr.
Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Mr.
Trump dismissed the comments as simple jealousy, and didn’t pay attention, according to two people familiar with the
Mr. Cohen raised millions of dollars
for Mr. Trump in the campaign, at a time
when the candidate was struggling to attract support. Mr. Cohen tried to soften
the edges as Mr. Trump faced a torrent
of criticism for decades of racially divisive remarks, forming a “diversity coalition” to give Mr. Trump cover composed
of African-Americans, Muslims and
other groups.
“Nobody else around Donald Trump
would have thought to do that for him,”
said Darrell Scott, an African-American
pastor from Ohio and a friend of Mr. Cohen who helped created the coalition.
Cubans doubt a change at top will bring change at bottom
island’s historic escape valves — visas
and undocumented migration to the
United States — have been turned off.
In the most recent blow, the United
States Embassy in Havana vastly reduced its staff and stopped issuing visas
to Cubans after dozens of its personnel
were mysteriously sickened in what the
State Department has described as attacks of unknown origin.
That happened after the immigration
pipeline of Cubans trying to reach the
United States had already been
abruptly squeezed by the Obama administration. Before leaving office,
President Barack Obama put an end to
the longstanding Cuban Adjustment
Act, better known as wet foot, dry foot.
That allowed Cubans who made it to
American soil or border crossings without a visa to stay in the United States.
Now the Trump administration’s decision to shut down many of the functions
of the Havana embassy is making it
even harder for Cubans to head north.
Without an operating consular office,
Cubans had to travel to Colombia earlier
this year to even apply for their visas, a
costly endeavor considering that their
average salaries amount to about $1 a
day. Today, that pipeline has been
blocked, too. Visa issuance for Cubans
hoping to visit their families in the
United States is now being done from
“There are thousands of parents who
have children in the U.S. and who are not
going to be able to visit them,” said one
Cuban doctor, who spoke on condition of
anonymity because she and her partner
are trying to leave the country without
permission. “With Obama, there was a
big step forward because relations were
re-established. And now just because of
Trump’s whim, things have become
worse than ever.”
It is still unclear exactly how Mr.
Trump’s promised reversal of Obama
administration policies will play out
over the long haul. Some American visitors to Cuba say they did not take any
measures to come to the island that
were not already in place following the
opening of relations between the two nations.
But the immediate impact of the
Trump administration has been felt all
the same. Many Americans are staying
Watching Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez assume the presidency of Cuba in a modest
ceremony before the National Assembly. There was little fanfare.
On the day power passed from the Castro family, many Cubans went about daily chores, feeling little impact on their lives.
“Whatever happens up there
doesn’t trickle down to us. So
why does it matter?”
away, either because of Mr. Trump’s decision to stiffen restrictions on traveling
to Cuba, or out of fear of the mysterious
attacks on embassy personnel, which
prompted the State Department to issue
a travel warning.
In the first quarter of 2018, visits to the
island from non-Cuban Americans
dropped nearly 60 percent, according to
government figures.
For Cubans who have been fortunate
enough to find work in the booming
tourism industry, the results have been
Náyade Triniño Ginori, a 44-year-old
teacher who joined the wave of privatesector opportunities as a tour guide,
says she has not hosted a group of
Americans since last June. While leading tours, she earned about $100 a day,
an enormous sum in Cuba — 100 times
her state salary as a teacher.
“Because of the policies of the new
U.S. president, I’m out of work,” she
For now, she has decided to return to
teaching, at a slightly better salary than
before, but nowhere near what her tourism job paid.
Feeling trapped is nothing new to Cubans. Many stayed in the country during
its toughest periods either because they
could not find a way to leave or because
of their commitment to the ideals extolled by Fidel Castro.
But today, some feel as though they
are in a pressure cooker, or a fishbowl,
looking out at the world from the confines of Cuba yet unable to participate.
Alejandro Rodriguez, 29, a popular
D.J. in Havana, scrolled through his
Facebook feed on a recent night with
He shook his head.
“He’s gone, she’s gone,” he said, ticking off the friends who have fled. “People are leaving any way they can.”
Midway through a scroll, he stopped.
“This guy just claimed political asylum in France on his layover to Russia,”
he said with grudging admiration.
“What a move.”
The very idea of a political transition
to a new Cuban president makes little
sense to him — especially one he expected to propagate the same reality.
“I didn’t even know there was this
transition happening, and I would bet
that most of my neighbors didn’t know
either,” he said. “It’s not that it’s not important. It’s just that whatever happens
up there doesn’t trickle down to us. So
why does it matter?”
Like others in his generation, the future seems a distant concern, perhaps
more of an idea than a reality. With so
much reform and so little change, daily
life is where hopes begin and end.
As Cuba’s new president traded off at
the podium with the old one at the National Assembly last week, residents in
the neighborhood of La Ceiba took to
other forms of entertainment.
They huddled in a worn down park,
browsing the relatively new luxury of
public internet that has come to Havana
in recent years.
It was a midmorning affair, with wellgroomed youth staring down at cellphones, dashing off messages or chatting with family abroad. Nearby, parked
outside of the neighborhood bodega
with a few friends, Luis Ernesto Rodriguez, 28, sized up his day.
As a construction worker, he helps
build and finish houses, irregular work
that earns him less than $80 a month.
Today, however, he was off.
“The people I am working for can’t afford to buy the materials, so what can I
do?” he said. “Here, it’s day-to-day.”
Older men worked along the periphery of the denuded space, collecting
trash or fixing cars.
“The youth of today are different from
us,” said Alberto Gonzalez, a 54-year-old
trash collector whose pushcart was littered with glass bottles and refuse.
“They didn’t see firsthand the benefits
of the revolution that we did.”
He and at least some of his generation
buy into Cuba’s social compact. They
have seen better times, and to them
working toward a common prosperity
amounts to more than just words.
Still, life is hard. On his base salary of
about $10 a month, there are few luxuries for Mr. Gonzalez. Beers cost $1 a
piece, after all. Though in some ways he
resents the young men and women sitting around in the park and not working,
he understands.
“Today,” he said, “there is nothing for
the youth.”
Hannah Berkeley Cohen and Ed Augustin contributed reporting.
6 | MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2018
Farmers warn tariffs may have political cost
Segment of Trump’s base
predicts Republican losses
if trade fight isn’t resolved
Here in the largest soybean-producing
county in the country, a snowy winter
has left North Dakota farmers like
Robert Runck with time on their hands
before spring planting — time they have
spent stewing over how much they
stand to lose if President Trump starts a
trade war with China.
“If he doesn’t understand what he’s
doing to the nation by doing what he’s
doing, he’s going to be a one-term president, plain and simple,” said Mr. Runck,
a fourth-generation farmer who voted
for Mr. Trump. Outside the post office in
this town of 2,300, Mr. Runck said the repercussions could be more immediate
for Representative Kevin Cramer, a Republican whose bid against Senator
Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, has been
complicated by the proposed tariffs.
“If it doesn’t get resolved by election
time, I would imagine it would cost Kevin Cramer some votes,” he said.
Stern warnings are coming from all
over the Midwest about the political peril for Republicans in Mr. Trump’s recent
course of action, in which the tariffs he
slapped on foreign competitors invited
retaliatory tariffs on American agriculture. Soybeans are America’s second
largest export to China, and that country’s proposed 25 percent duties on the
crop would hit hardest in states like
Iowa, Kansas and Minnesota — where
there are highly competitive House
races — as well as Indiana, Missouri and
North Dakota, whose Senate contests
may determine control of the chamber.
By proposing the tariffs, Mr. Trump
has moved to fulfill a central promise of
his campaign: confronting those countries he believes are undermining
American industry. Yet his goal — to revive the steel and aluminum industries,
thereby aiding the Rust Belt states that
were crucial to his election — has effectively prioritized one element of the
Trump political coalition over another,
larger bloc of voters. That larger segment, the farm belt, is essential to Republican success in the midterm elections and beyond.
From the still-thawing soybean fields
of North Dakota and Kansas to the corn
and pork farms of Iowa, voters across
the political spectrum say the president’s attacks on American economic rivals could do grave damage to an already unstable commodities market.
“They’re not in touch with the reality
of the Midwest and the impact that the
tariffs would have,” said Bart Bergquist,
a biology professor and part-time
farmer who lives on 10 acres just south
of Waterloo, Iowa. Mr. Bergquist, who
voted for Mr. Trump in the 2016 election,
added that commodities prices had already taken a toll on the area.
“I know my neighbors are not rolling
in money — they’re trying to supplement whatever else they can do to keep
going,” he said.
Representative Rod Blum, a Republican, represents much of eastern Iowa
and is facing a highly competitive race
in what is the second-largest soybeanproducing congressional district in the
country. He and other politicians are facing a “nervous” farm community across
the state, according to Grant Young, an
Iowa-based Republican strategist.
“I listen to the farm show over the
noon hour on WHO daily,” Mr. Young
said of Iowa’s leading radio station.
William Hejl of North Dakota is among Midwestern farmers alarmed by the threat of a trade war. A retaliatory levy by Beijing on soybeans could hit the area hard.
“They are usually a happy-go-lucky
bunch promoting industry and holding a
two-hour infomercial for the Farm Bureau. But the last couple of months I’m
wondering if they need to take the sharp
objects out of the studio.”
In Kansas, Bob Henry, who grows
corn and soybeans in another up-forgrabs House district near the Nebraska
border, said the country could ill afford
to tangle with a market that American
farmers rely on.
“For the United States soybean
grower, China is the 800-pound gorilla in
the room,” Mr. Henry said. He suggested
that Beijing is exacting political payback against the Republican heartland:
“China knows who got Trump elected.”
After an initial round of tariffs on a
modest share of American exports, the
Chinese have displayed a keener awareness of the electoral map and moved to
punish those industries whose misfortune will be felt most intensely in states
and districts pivotal in 2018.
Karl Rove, the former strategist to
“If he doesn’t understand what
he’s doing to the nation by doing
what he’s doing, he’s going to be
a one-term president.”
President George W. Bush, said a trade
clash “would limit Midwestern enthusiasm from our base and limit our ability
to hold what we have and pick up more
seats.” Mr. Rove also grumbled that Mr.
Trump “has little to no understanding of
the farm coalition.”
He may have a slightly better appreciation after a recent meeting in the West
Wing with a small group of farm belt Republican senators and governors, during which two of them brought up the adverse impact that tariffs on exports
could have in the midterm election, according to officials briefed on the conversation.
Mr. Trump used the session to direct a
pair of his top economic advisers to reconsider whether the United States
should join a free-trade pact with a
group of Pacific nations. But just hours
later he signaled on Twitter that he was
unlikely to reverse course on that agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Instead, there are already whispers,
in Washington and in agriculture states,
that the president is risking a replay of
President Jimmy Carter’s grain embargo on the Soviets, which contributed to
the massive losses Democrats suffered
in 1980.
Indeed, after a year in which Mr.
Trump only mused about pulling out of
Nafta and was stymied by Congress in
his attempt to slash the Agriculture Department’s budget, there is now a sense
in the farm belt that Mr. Trump’s yearning to punish China could inflict real economic and political damage on his own
political base.
“This is the first time it’s in your face,
especially to us in the Midwest,” said Ed
Schafer, a Republican former governor
of North Dakota who was agriculture
secretary under George W. Bush.
There may be no other race in America that is at once as significant as the
Senate contest here and as shaped by
whether China’s tariffs take effect this
year. Most of North Dakota’s votes are in
the eastern end of the state, in the Red
River Valley — a region that also happens to be home to the three largest soybean-producing counties in the nation.
Senator Heitkamp won her seat by
fewer than 3,000 votes in 2012. She remains personally popular, a valuable asset in a state with just 570,000 voters,
but North Dakota has turned sharply
away from Democrats in recent years.
But Mr. Trump has now handed her
what may be a political gift.
“Senator Heitkamp will jump on the
big, bad Trump and the stupid policy
that’s coming out of Washington hurting
our farmers,” Mr. Schafer said. “That’s a
strong message in North Dakota.”
Or as Rob Port, a conservative talk radio host and columnist in the state, put
it: “This is the perfect issue for her. Her
base eats up the Trump bashing, but it’s
also an economic argument that’ll have
rural Trump voters saying, ‘Maybe
blind allegiance to Trump isn’t such a
good thing.’”
Ms. Heitkamp is already testing out
such a message against her rival, Mr.
“Clearly he sees his role is to be a vote
for President Trump in the United
States Senate,” she said. “And I believe
my role is to be a vote for North Dakota
in the United States Senate.”
Mr. Cramer, whom Mr. Trump repeatedly wooed to run for the Senate, accused his opponent of “hysteria” and
said she was overstating what are at this
point only trade negotiations.
“People in North Dakota prefer humility to hyperbole, and that kind of hyperbole I don’t think sells very well politically,” he said. “But it’s certainly not
good for our farmers or good for our
But on a local talk radio program, Mr.
Cramer let slip his frustration with the
president’s actions. “He tends to have
rather emotional responses,” he said of
Mr. Trump.
North Dakota is not simply another
red state where Democrats are bound
for extinction. There is an enduring populist streak here, dating back to residents’ mistrust of distant bankers and
millers in Minneapolis, Chicago and
New York. To this day, the state retains a
state-controlled bank and mill.
“We’re Republicans until it comes to
subsidies for farmers,” said George
Blank, only partly joking, as he sipped
coffee with a half dozen fellow retirees in
Casselton’s Country Kitchen.
And, Mr. Blank noted, “everything
drives on ag in this state.”
Recalling his years running a construction supply business in a state
where one in four jobs is agriculture-related, he said: “When the price of corn
went down, that impacted us greatly.”
Now, though, soybeans have become
the go-to commodity, said Vanessa Kummer, who farms 4,000 acres with her
husband and son near Colfax, N.D. “It
has become our cash crop and the most
reliable crop to go to,” she said.
Nancy Johnson, who leads the North
Dakota Soybean Growers Association,
reached for a measure of cheery, upperMidwest optimism as she expressed
hope that the threat of tariffs was
merely “a negotiating tactic” by Mr.
But Ms. Johnson, who wears a soybean pendant necklace, said her farmers “are rightly concerned, because
we’re being used as a weapon.”
Over on William Hejl’s farm in Amenia, N.D., just north of Casselton and
part of the 86 percent of the state that is
made up of farmland and ranches, the
anxiety is as difficult to miss as the April
snow crunching underfoot.
Showing a visitor his gleaming green
John Deere tractor, still in its shed for
winter, Mr. Hejl said to “check back in
August” — and not just to find better
“If this thing hasn’t been resolved,
that’s when it’s going to hurt,” he said of
the outset of harvesting. “You’ve got to
pay for the fuel and for the people to
drive the combine.”
Kevin Skunes, a neighboring farmer
who is also president of the National
Corn Growers Association, joined Mr.
Hejl and a visiting reporter for coffee,
and a chance to sound the alarm.
“In an already depressed farm economy, if we take another hit on soybeans
and corn it’s going to be disastrous,” Mr.
Skunes said.
Mitch Smith contributed reporting from
Kansas, Ann Hinga Klein from Iowa,
Meg Lindholm from North Dakota and
Natalie Kitroeff from New York.
Headbanger mayor embraces heavy metal
Channing Concho was in the crowd with
hundreds of fellow headbangers for Anthrax’s sold-out concert this year at the
El Rey Theater when something unusual unfolded before her eyes: The
mayor of New Mexico’s largest city
grabbed the mic.
“I was like, whoa, he doesn’t look like
your typical politician,” said Ms. Concho, 31, the drummer for Suspended, an
all-female melodic death thrash band
based in Albuquerque. “It felt like one of
those history-in-the-making moments.
There’s our mayor in a black T-shirt with
his fist in the air, and he’s just another
Albuquerque metalhead.”
Tim Keller, the mayor of this city of
560,000 still struggling to emerge from a
long economic slump, left some in the
audience with jaws agape when he
shouted above the shredding of Scott
Ian, the Anthrax guitarist, “I believe in
the power of metal!”
Mr. Keller, 40, a Democrat who took
office in December, is making his enthusiastic embrace of heavy metal a signature feature of his administration, introducing metal bands onstage at gritty
downtown venues, publicly extolling the
music of his favorite band, Sepultura of
Brazil, even fondly reminiscing about
how he once got booted from an Ozzy
Osbourne concert in the city after jumping off a wall and into the audience at
Tingley Coliseum.
“Albuquerque has always been pretty
strong on the heavy metal front,” Mr.
Keller said in an interview over a hurried lunch of green chile stew at his office, with a view of the Sandia Mountains in the distance. “What can I say?
This is something I’ve been into for a
long time.”
The table in Mr. Keller’s office was
strewn with photos of metal legends and
tomes including “Sound of the Beast:
The Complete Headbanging History of
Heavy Metal,” by Ian Christe, and “The
Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal,” by Daniel Bukszpan.
Few people can speak with Mr. Keller’s authority when it comes to explaining what makes Albuquerque a place so
welcoming for metalheads that one was
elected as mayor. Yes, the city has nurtured bands dabbling in other genres,
from indie rock to alternative country
and norteño, Mr. Keller acknowledged.
“But what about Randy Castillo?” Mr.
Keller asked, referring to the drummer
for Ozzy Osbourne and Mötley Crüe who
was born here and attended West Mesa
High School before moving to Los Angeles. In addition to the array of metal
bands spawned and performing in the
city, the mayor pointed out that another
prominent figure in the metal world,
Rex Brown, the former bassist for Pantera who now plays with Kill Devil Hill,
makes his home in Albuquerque.
A passion for metal minutiae might
not seem like a priority for someone like
Mr. Keller, who studied art history at Notre Dame and went on to obtain an
M.B.A. from Harvard. With progressive
political views, he served as a state senator and as New Mexico’s state auditor
before running for mayor in a city that
had been, until his election, under Republican control since 2009.
Born and raised in Albuquerque, Mr.
Keller attended Roman Catholic
schools. He struggled with dyslexia as a
child and still does, opting to devour audiobooks instead of reading. As the father of two young children, he insisted
that he doesn’t attend as many concerts
as other metal aficionados.
Still, Mr. Keller said that he valued
heavy metal’s capacity for bringing people from different backgrounds together, especially in the Southwest, where
Hispanics and Native Americans have
long featured prominently in the metal
scene, forging subgenres like Rez Metal,
popular on and around the vast Navajo
“Despite a reputation for metal skewing Anglo, it doesn’t in New Mexico and
never has,” Mr. Keller said. He cited the
appeal in New Mexico of songs like “Indians,” the enduring 1987 Anthrax single
about the marginalization of Native peoples in the United States, and the admiration that many people here have for
figures like Chuck Billy, the Native
American frontman for the thrash metal
band Testament.
While Mr. Keller’s fusing of heavy
metal and politics has earned him a lot of
attention, authorities on the genre argue
that the mayor is part of a global current
of elected officials who have made their
love of metal part of their political narrative.
“It’s not that surprising, since the first
generation of die-hard metal fans is entering their 40s and 50s, rising to posi-
tions of power and obtaining political influence,” said Jeremy Wallach, a cultural studies scholar at Bowling Green
State University in Ohio who specializes
in the global spread of heavy metal.
Danica Roem, the pioneering transgender vocalist for the band Cab Ride
Home, won a seat in November in Virginia’s House of Delegates. Farther
afield, Indonesia’s president, Joko
Widodo, may arguably be the world’s
most powerful metalhead, listing Napalm Death and Lamb of God among his
favorite bands.
Mr. Keller, for his part, insists that he
is focusing on urgent issues in Albuquerque, including a stalled rapid transit system and luring investment to the city.
His supporters note that he has begun
chalking up victories, like the recent announcement by a Texas health care support company that it will hire hundreds
of employees here. Mr. Keller also
signed into law last week a bill decriminalizing possession of small amounts of
marijuana, a move aimed at refocusing
police resources.
Many constituents — including some
in the metal scene — aren’t holding their
breath that a new mayor, even one
steeped in a music culture that isn’t normally associated with establishment institutions, will be able to achieve change
“I didn’t vote for Keller, but then again
I don’t vote at all,” said Jake Pacheco, 35,
vocalist for the Albuquerque thrash
metal band Anesthesia.
Still, Mr. Pacheco said that Mr. Keller
compared favorably with Albuquerque’s former three-term mayor, Martin
Tim Keller, the Albuquerque mayor, during a concert by Trivium. “What can I say? This
is something I’ve been into for a long time,” Mr. Keller said of his love for heavy metal.
Chávez, still notorious in the metal community for having sought more than a
decade ago to crack down on downtown
concerts — viewed then as contributing
to underage drinking and violent crime.
With each concert appearance, Mr.
Keller seeks to bolster what he views as
heavy metal’s “empowerment” potential.
When the Florida metal band Trivium
arrived here for a concert, there was Mr.
Keller on the stage at the Sunshine The-
ater, reminiscing about how he had listened to the group’s music on the campaign trail, before urging fans to let
loose a welcoming scream for the performers.
Paolo Gregoletto, the bassist for the
band, seemed delighted to come across
an elected official expressing such zeal,
and said as much later on Instagram.
The mayor, he declared, had provided
“one of the sickest show introductions
MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2018 | 7
From left: A Brooks Brothers store in New York City, one of 224 outlets in the United States; no-iron shirts and the original oxfords are signature sellers for the retailer; and seersucker suits hanging on racks at a store in New York.
Button-downs and tweeds, reclaimed
thusiastically embraced the casual wear
boom of the 1990s, as the store’s merchants were told to copy the businesscasual look of Banana Republic. (Staff
members jokingly called their store
“Banana Brothers.”)
In the mid-1990s, the company’s executives even eliminated the signature
Golden Fleece logo from its cotton knit
polo shirts, which Mr. Del Vecchio, as an
influential supplier, says he was able to
talk them into restoring, he said.
By 2001, it was clear that the BritishAmerican marriage wasn’t working,
and Marks & Spencer, suffering from a
global recession and a downturn in its
home business, put Brooks Brothers up
for sale. With American retailers shaken
right after Sept. 11, Mr. Del Vecchio was
able to swoop in and grab Brooks Brothers for $225 million, less than a third of
what M & S had paid 13 years earlier.
After those frantic first years, when
management worked on both quality
and public perception, retail sales began
to steadily improve. By 2017, Brooks
Brothers had 244 wholly owned stores in
the United States, up from roughly 160 in
2001; in both cases, half were factory
outlets. It also had wholesale accounts
with stores like Bloomingdale’s, Lord &
Taylor and Dillard’s.
Globally, Brooks Brothers had blossomed with sales in 50 other countries,
accounting for 35 percent of its total revenue. That was up sharply from 2002,
when it operated international stores
only in Japan, still its biggest overseas
Brooks Brothers’ revival
has been based on staying
true to its American past
In early 2002, just a few months after he
officially took over as the new owner
and chief executive officer of Brooks
Brothers, Claudio Del Vecchio confronted the reality that the classic American retailer had largely lost its way.
Mr. Del Vecchio knew that many of the
clothing fabrics were no longer of high
quality, that too many of its shirts were
ill fitting and that there were often disconcerting irregularities, like a rack of
navy blazers that weren’t the exact
same shade of navy.
And longtime customers had noticed.
Among Mr. Del Vecchio’s first acts as
owner was to read a stack of angry letters from Brooks Brothers loyalists who
griped about how the merchandise quality had fallen under the previous owner,
the British retailer Marks & Spencer.
They also balked at the limited selection
of classic blazers and suits in the stores.
Those letters confirmed much of what
Mr. Del Vecchio, a wealthy Italian entrepreneur, had seen for himself and stiffened his resolve to return to the company’s roots. “I saw the business opportunity to increase sales,” he said. “I knew
how to fix this.”
A new executive team shifted into crisis mode. Led by an experienced chief
merchant, Eraldo Poletto, with whom
Mr. Del Vecchio had worked at Casual
Corner (a women’s wear retail chain
that Mr. Del Vecchio sold in 2005), they
began to corral the company’s best suppliers to revamp all the store’s merchandise. Hundreds of garment styles required new specifications, better fabrics
and apparel factories. It took about six
months for the first shipments of the improved garments to arrive in stores —
swapping out the oversize khakis and
shapeless polo shirts.
Among the upgraded versions were
luxurious three-ply Italian cashmere
sweaters, replacing the two-ply Mexican cashmeres, and three styles of blazers and khakis, instead of just one. By
April 2003, the store had completely
overhauled its merchandise — and its
loyal fans started coming back.
By 2004, Mr. Del Vecchio said, the privately held Brooks Brothers was modestly in the black, reversing a series of
money-losing years that had begun in
the late 1990s.
The history of Brooks Brothers and
the tenure of Mr. Del Vecchio — who has
been wearing Brooks Brothers for more
than half of his 61 years — will be cele-
Claudio Del Vecchio bought Brooks Brothers in 2001 from the British retailer Marks & Spencer and immediately focused on improving quality. “I knew how to fix this,” he said.
brated on Wednesday evening, when
the company will host a black-tie gala in
New York City for 1,000 of its best
customers, friends and celebrity guests
to mark its 200th anniversary. The allAmerican jazz program, produced by
the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s
artistic director, Wynton Marsalis, befits
the all-American clothier.
“Brooks Brothers is a special place,”
Mr. Del Vecchio said during an interview in his upper-floor office at the 346
Madison Avenue store in New York,
where an antique grandfather clock
owned by the store’s founder, Henry
Sands Brooks, stands across from his
mahogany desk. “This is a great institution with a heritage.”
Elegantly attired in a Brooks Brothers
navy tweed sport coat, a white button-
“Not every consumer can afford
to buy ‘Made in America.’ But
we have a brand that can justify
that cost, and there are enough
customers who understand this.”
down shirt, a burgundy knit tie, slim
gray slacks and brown oxfords, the chief
executive spoke about what he saw as
his mission.
“I am here to reinforce a culture,” he
said. “I have to make sure that we are
building a company that will last after
me. I don’t want to be here another 20
years. Forget about another 200 years.
It’s really about trying to build a culture
that will last longer than the business.
That will make it very hard for the next
guy to screw it up.”
Claudio Del Vecchio grew up in Milan,
the oldest of six children of Leonardo
Del Vecchio, the self-made billionaire
founder of the Italian eyewear giant
Luxottica Group.
Mr. Del Vecchio, like many other Italian men, first learned about Brooks
Brothers through the stylish Fiat patriarch Gianni Agnelli, who started wearing Brooks Brothers original oxford
shirts in the early 1960s. (He customized
his shirts by leaving the collar points unbuttoned.) Generations of Italian men
idolized the dashing Mr. Agnelli and copied what he wore.
When Luxottica sent Mr. Del Vecchio
to New York to run its North American
operations in 1982, the young executive
headed straight to Madison Avenue to
buy his wardrobe at Brooks Brothers.
Later, in 1992, he got to know the store’s
executives when he signed up Brooks
Brothers to be Luxottica’s first eyewear
licensee in the United States.
Over the next few years, however, he
observed with increasing alarm how
Brooks Brothers was abandoning its
long tradition of being the standardbearer of American business classics,
one that came with its status as an outfitter of the nation’s presidents. It has
clothed nearly all of them, including
Donald J. Trump for his 2017 inauguration.
Under Marks & Spencer, which
bought it in 1988, Brooks Brothers en-
Today, Brooks Brothers is typical of
most retailers: Online sales now represent its largest percentage of revenue
and is now the company’s fastest-growing category. As more people have migrated to shop online, Brooks Brothers
has provided more detailed product descriptions and has featured photos of
people in lifestyle situations, as opposed
to models in studios, which a company
spokesman said had increase sales.
Mr. Del Vecchio credits Brooks Brothers’ 27 airport shops, operated by a licensee, with helping win back businesspeople who had rejected Brooks Brothers in the 1990s. He calls the shops a
“great showcase” for the brand. (In the
2009 movie “Up in the Air,” George
Clooney’s traveling businessman character lingers over a display of striped
ties at a Brooks Brothers airport shop.)
Brooks Brothers has also reached out
to established fashion designers for exclusive, high-profile capsule collections
— Thom Browne from 2007 to 2014; Zac
Posen for women’s wear since 2016 —
but its business remains rooted in its
So you want to be a millionaire? Try A.I. research
One of the poorest-kept secrets in Silicon Valley has been the huge salaries
and bonuses that experts in artificial intelligence can command. Now, a littlenoticed tax filing by a research lab
called OpenAI has made some of those
eye-popping figures public.
OpenAI paid its top researcher, Ilya
Sutskever, more than $1.9 million in
2016. It paid another leading researcher,
Ian Goodfellow, more than $800,000 —
even though he was not hired until
March of that year. Both had been recruited from Google.
A third big name in the field, the
roboticist Pieter Abbeel, made $425,000,
though he did not join until June 2016, after taking a leave from his job as a professor at the University of California,
Berkeley. Those figures all include signing bonuses.
The figures listed on the tax forms,
which OpenAI is required to release
publicly because it is a nonprofit organization, provide new insight into what organizations around the world are paying
for A.I. talent. But there is a caveat: The
compensation at OpenAI may be underselling what these researchers can
make, since as a nonprofit it can’t offer
stock options.
Salaries for top A.I. researchers have
skyrocketed because there are not
many people who understand the tech-
nology and thousands of companies
want to work with it. Element AI, an independent lab in Canada, estimates that
22,000 people worldwide have the skills
needed to do serious A.I. research —
about twice as many as a year ago.
“There is a mountain of demand and a
trickle of supply,” said Chris Nicholson,
the chief executive and founder of Skymind, a start-up working on A.I.
That raises significant issues for universities and governments. They also
need A.I. expertise, both to teach the
next generation of researchers and to
Though the pool of
available A.I. researchers
is growing, it is not growing
fast enough.
put these technologies into practice in
fields as varied as military uses and
drug discovery. But they could never
match the salaries being paid in the private sector.
In 2015, Elon Musk, the chief executive of the electric-car maker Tesla, and
other well-known figures in the tech industry created OpenAI and moved it
into offices in San Francisco, just north
of Silicon Valley. They recruited several
researchers with experience at Google
and Facebook, two of the companies
leading an industrywide push into artificial intelligence.
On top of salaries and signing bo-
nuses, the internet giants typically compensate employees with sizable stock
options — something that OpenAI does
not do. But it has a message that appeals
to idealists: It will share much of its
work with the outside world, and it will
consciously avoid creating technology
that could be a danger to people.
“I turned down offers for multiple
times the dollar amount I accepted at
OpenAI,” Mr. Sutskever said. “Others
did the same.” He said he expected salaries at OpenAI to increase as the organization pursued its “mission of ensuring
powerful A.I. benefits all of humanity.”
OpenAI spent about $11 million in its
first year, with more than $7 million going to salaries and other employee benefits. It employed 52 people in 2016.
People who work at major tech companies or have entertained job offers
from them have told The New York
Times that A.I. specialists with little or
no industry experience can make
$300,000 to $500,000 a year in salary
and stock. Top names can receive compensation packages in the millions.
“The amount of money was borderline crazy,” Wojciech Zaremba, a researcher who joined OpenAI after internships at Google and Facebook, told
While he would not disclose exact
numbers, Mr. Zaremba said big tech
companies were offering him two or
three times what he believed his real
market value was.
At DeepMind, a London A.I. lab now
owned by Google, costs for 400 employ-
Elon Musk, above, and other well-known tech industry figures created OpenAI, a
nonprofit artificial intelligence laboratory, in 2015. Mr. Musk has since left its board.
ees totaled $138 million in 2016, according to the company’s annual financial filings in Britain. That translates to
$345,000 per employee, including researchers and other staff members.
Researchers like Mr. Sutskever specialize in what are called neural networks, algorithms that learn tasks by
analyzing vast amounts of data. They
are used in products as varied as digital
assistants in smartphones and self-driving cars.
Some researchers may command
higher pay because their names carry
weight across the A.I. community and
they can help recruit other researchers.
Mr. Sutskever was part of a three-researcher team at the University of Toronto that created so-called computer
vision technology. Mr. Goodfellow invented a technique that allows machines to create fake digital photos that
are nearly indistinguishable from the
real thing.
“When you hire a star, you are not just
hiring a star,” Mr. Nicholson of the start-
up Skymind said. “You are hiring everyone they attract. And you are paying for
all the publicity they will attract.”
Other researchers at OpenAI, including Greg Brockman, who leads the lab
alongside Mr. Sutskever, did not receive
such high salaries during the lab’s first
year. In 2016, according to the tax forms,
Mr. Brockman, who had served as chief
technology officer at the financial technology start-up Stripe, made $175,000.
As one of the founders of the organization, however, he most likely took a salary below market value.
Though the pool of available A.I. researchers is growing, it is not growing
fast enough. “If anything, demand for
that talent is growing faster than the
supply of new researchers, because A.I.
is moving from early adopters to wider
use,” Mr. Nicholson said.
That means it can be hard for companies to hold on to their talent. Last year,
after only 11 months at OpenAI, Mr.
Goodfellow returned to Google. Mr. Abbeel and two other researchers left the
lab to create a robotics start-up, Embodied Intelligence. (Mr. Abbeel has since
signed back on as a part-time adviser to
Another researcher, Andrej Karpathy,
left to become the head of A.I. at Tesla,
which is also building autonomous driving technology.
In essence, Mr. Musk was poaching
his own talent. Since then, he has
stepped down from the OpenAI board,
with the lab saying this would allow him
to “eliminate a potential future conflict.”
8 | MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2018
New wheels, familiar shock
Brooks Brothers
reclaims its heritage
Executive is shrugging off
the uproar in some cities
over his dockless scooters
classic men’s wear, which accounts for
80 percent of its business.
Dress shirts, now in about 1,000 varieties, have long been the calling card of
Brooks Brothers, accounting for 30 percent of its sales. In a nod to contemporary trends and to buffed, young guys,
the shirts come in four fits: the Traditional, the Madison, the Regent and, the
slimmest, the Milano. (Mr. Browne, famous for his tightfitting men’s suits,
helped steer Brooks Brothers toward
slimmer silhouettes, said Lou Amendola, the store’s chief merchandising officer. “Today over 50 percent of our business is now in slim shirts and slim suits,”
he said.)
Charles Moore, founder and president
of the Banc Funds, a private equity firm
in Chicago, said he had stopped wearing
Brooks Brothers dress shirts for several
years because “the quality of the shirt
fabric suffered and the collar wasn’t fitting.” He shifted to $200 custom shirts
until a few years ago when he returned
to Brooks Brothers, for its trim Regent
silhouette, which was new to him.
“I like the fine Supima cotton and the
way the shirts ride on your neck — the
spread collar and the button-down collar,” he said. For around $80, “they’re
great value for the money.”
Travis VanderZanden, the chief executive of the electric scooter company Bird
Rides, surveyed the new indoor park at
his office one morning last week.
While the space is still under construction, it will eventually have a winding path and a park scene, with benches
and trees, he said.
It will be made to take his little Bird
scooters on scenic trips inside the
20,000-square-foot office situated near
the Pacific Ocean and, more important
to him, on Electric Avenue here in
Venice, Calif.
“When you ride a Bird, it reminds you
of being free,” said the 39-year-old. “It
gives you freedom. Like you have
Mr. VanderZanden did not act like a
man in the middle of a controversy. But
he is here to disrupt — by any means
Electric scooters have arrived en
masse in cities like Los Angeles, San
Francisco and Washington, with companies competing to offer the dockless and
rechargeable vehicles. Leading the pack
is Mr. VanderZanden’s Bird, with rivals
including Spin and LimeBike. The startups are buoyed with more than $250 million in venture capital and a firm belief
that electric scooters are the future of
transportation, at least for a few speedy
The premise of the start-ups is simple: People can rent the electric scooters for about $1, plus 10 cents to 15 cents
a minute to use, for so-called last-mile
transportation. To recharge the scooters, the companies have “chargers,” or
people who roam the streets looking to
plug in the scooters at night, for which
they get paid $5 to $20 per scooter.
The problem is that cities have been
shocked to discover that thousands of
electric scooters have been dropped
onto their sidewalks seemingly
overnight. Often, the companies ignored
all the usual avenues of getting city approval to set up shop. And since the
scooters are dockless, riders can just
grab one, go a few blocks and leave it
wherever they want, causing a commotion on sidewalks and scenes of scooters
strewn across wheelchair ramps and in
So officials in cities like San Francisco
and Santa Monica, Calif., have been
sending cease-and-desist notices and
holding emergency meetings. Some
have filed charges against the scooter
Dennis Herrera, the San Francisco
city attorney who sent cease-and-desist
letters to Bird and others, described the
chaos as “a free for all.”
Mr. VanderZanden said that given
how enormous a social shift he believed
his scooters were, he was not surprised
they had ruffled some feathers. But people would eventually adjust, he said.
“Go back to the early 1900s, and people would have a similar reaction to cars
because they were used to horses,” he
If there is something familiar about
these scooter companies’ strategy of
just showing up in cities without permission, that’s because that has now become a tried-and-true playbook for
many start-ups. In its early days, Uber,
the ride-hailing giant, also barreled into
towns overnight to introduce its service
and asked for forgiveness only later.
“Cities don’t know what it is,” Caen
Contee, the head of marketing for LimeBike, said of the arrival of electric scooters.
That has led to scenes like a contentious transportation committee
meeting at San Francisco City Hall last
week, in which so many people wanted
to speak about the scooters that every-
Start-up executives say electric scooters are the future of transportation, but some local governments are calling them a nuisance.
Riding a scooter “gives you freedom,”
said Travis VanderZanden, chief of Bird.
one was limited to one minute each.
David Valladares, who works as a
“charger” for Bird, said the work helped
“supplement my income due to the large
cost of living in the Bay Area.”
He urged the city to concentrate on
deadly cars instead, noting, “I’ve never
seen a scooter-on-scooter accident kill
Advocates for the disabled said they
would have trouble moving through the
streets if the scooters were zooming
around or left on sidewalks. Advocates
for older people said rampaging scooters would also encourage them to seek
the safety of their homes, becoming
“Somebody whizzing along at 15 miles
an hour, that’s a symbol of entitlement
and arrogance,” said Fran Taylor, a retired medical reporter. She called the
scooters “a plot of the young people to
kill off all us old farts so they can have
our rent-controlled apartments.”
Back in Venice, Mr. VanderZanden
seated himself upstairs in a barren conference room with a view of the parking
lot. He leaned back and kept his eyes on
his open computer screen as he talked.
He wore his blond hair slicked back.
He said efforts to regulate his Bird
scooters in a manner different from personally owned scooters was discrimination against the poor.
“Not everyone can afford their own
electric scooter,” he said. “We shouldn’t
discriminate against people that are
renting versus owning.”
Before establishing Bird, Mr. VanderZanden worked at tech companies
and founded an on-demand carwash
service called Cherry. Cherry was acquired by Lyft in 2013 and Mr. VanderZanden became chief operating officer at the ride-hailing company.
He left Lyft in 2014 and joined Uber as
vice president of growth that same year.
Lyft sued him for breaching a confidentiality agreement and fiduciary duty.
The litigation was eventually settled.
Of his time at Uber, which has since
been exposed as having had a growthat-all-costs environment, Mr. VanderZanden said: “I learned some good
things, and I learned some bad things.”
He left Uber in 2016 and moved to
Southern California. Last year, he
founded Bird to bring electric scooters,
already popular in cities across China, to
America. To date, Bird has raised $115
million from investors. Mr. VanderZanden now has a team of more than 100
He likes wordplay. The scooters are
called Birds. He calls a group of people
riding on the scooters a flock. The areas
where scooters are supposed to be generally kept are called nests. His mom’s
name is Robin.
“We might have taken the birds too
far,” Mr. VanderZanden said.
Bird initially rolled out its scooterrental service in Santa Monica and now
operates in seven cities. The company
will not disclose how many scooters are
in operation but said it has sent out
22,500 helmets to riders, as part of a
compliance effort for cities that require
riders to use helmets. Bird has also hit
one million rides.
Mr. VanderZanden said greater Los
Angeles, including Santa Monica, had
been especially excited about Bird and
that the area had become a transportation tech hub.
“The city’s been very receptive,” he
It actually has not.
In Santa Monica, the city attorney’s
office filed a nine-count misdemeanor
criminal complaint against Bird and Mr.
VanderZanden last year for operating a
commercial scooter rental business
without a mobile vending business license and for failing to comply with citations. The company pleaded no contest
and paid a settlement of $300,000.
Those who work for Santa Monica’s
city government even went so far as to
reach out to other towns to caution them
about electric scooters.
“My brother and sister legislators
from Santa Monica warned me that that
phenomenon has hit their cities,” said
Aaron Peskin, who is on San Francisco’s
board of supervisors, the city’s legislative branch. Referring to the scooter
start-ups, he added, “These people are
out of their minds.”
Mr. VanderZanden feigns ignorance
about all the controversy he has caused.
“Anything any city’s asked us to do,
aside from shut down, we do,” he said.
And even though Bird is handing out
helmets, he said the requirement that
scooter riders wear them is absurd, unless all pedestrians have to wear helmets, because cars are the real danger.
“We’re not going to be happy till there
are more Birds than cars,” Mr. VanderZanden said.
The privately held Brooks Brothers has
posted profits for 13 of the last 17 years.
For the past three years, annual sales
have hovered around $1 billion, with
profits at a break-even level, according
to figures provided by Mr. Del Vecchio.
(In the current challenging retail market — with Ralph Lauren Corp. and Abercrombie & Fitch closing down stores,
and J. Crew getting rid of its entire top
management team to try to reverse that
company’s revenue slide — steady results can be considered something of an
achievement for Brooks Brothers management.)
Drawing hip, millennial shoppers inside America’s oldest retailer isn’t easy
— even to check out novelties such as
Brooks Brothers’ latest machine-washable merino sweaters, designed without
side seams, and its lightweight hooded
outerwear, rivaling labels like Moncler
and Canada Goose.
“We have a level of technology and
performance that they can’t even dream
about,” Mr. Del Vecchio said. “We are authentic, and we have the stories. We just
need to do a better job with social media
and the influencers.”
Still a big believer in physical stores,
Mr. Del Vecchio sees promise with
Brooks Brothers’ latest concept, Red
Fleece boutiques, featuring midprice
casual wear. Its popular Flatiron location in New York City recently added a
downstairs cafe, now a hangout for the
tech workers in the neighborhood.
“We need to refine it to create synergies between the cafe and the boutique,”
Mr. Del Vecchio said.
Even with a challenging economic
landscape, Brooks Brothers, with its
freedom from public shareholders and
the pressure of quarterly financial disclosures, “is suddenly the retailer that
everyone wants to emulate,” said
Robert Burke, a New York retail consultant. Notably, Nordstrom, which had
$15.48 billion in revenue in 2017 and
which over the past year had tried to
take itself private. The retailer finally
pulled the plug on that effort in March
after the board rejected the founding
family’s $50-a-share bid, saying it wasn’t high enough. (Retail stocks, as a
whole, gained just 2.52 percent in 2017,
well behind the 25 percent rise in the
Dow Jones industrial average and the 19
percent return of the Standard & Poor’s
500-stock index.)
“Claudio has been very disciplined
and measured on how he has grown
Brooks Brothers, focused on where the
brand will go, upping the quality, not going for the quick sales and not opening
too many stores,” Mr. Burke said. “He’s
elevated Brooks Brothers without devi-
ating from its heritage and tradition.”
Mr. Del Vecchio said, “I am naturally a
long-term thinker, and I don’t see the
benefit of going public.”
Though much of Brooks Brothers’ apparel is imported, including its best-selling no-iron shirts (made in Malaysia),
Mr. Del Vecchio says he remains committed to producing many signature
items in the United States, including its
made-to-measure suits, in companyowned factories where he has invested
in new machinery and in the training of
Its ties, for example, are manufactured at a factory in Long Island City,
N.Y., with a label embroidered with an
American flag and the words “Brooks
Brothers. Proudly Made in New York
United States of America.”
There are two other American factories. One is in Haverhill, Mass., which
makes men’s suits, sport coats and trousers, and has produced clothes for the
designer Todd Snyder and uniforms for
United Airlines. It employs 550 workers,
up from 300 in 2008. The other is in Garland, N.C., where 250 workers produce
the classic $140 oxford shirt — and is the
only American factory that operates at a
loss, Mr. Del Vecchio said.
“Part of the Brooks Brothers institution are its factories and what it means
from a social standpoint to put things together,” he said. “Not every consumer
can afford to buy ‘Made in America.’ But
we have a brand that can justify that
cost, and there are enough customers
who understand this.”
Mr. Del Vecchio said he knows that
closing the Garland factory would erase
the livelihoods of half the town, which
has fewer than 1,000 inhabitants.
Outside Brooks Brothers’ flagship store
on Madison Avenue in New York City.
“Many of the decisions we make are
with that in mind as well,” he said. “We
keep saying every year this is the year
we aren’t going to lose money, so that’s
the reason to keep trying to improve.
But until the day I can’t afford it, we
won’t close it.”
The philanthropic-minded Mr. Del
Vecchio hires English-language tutors
to teach the immigrants who work at his
factories. In Haverhill, the workers
speak 30 languages, from countries including Afghanistan, Poland and Myanmar.
“We don’t hire illegal immigrants, but
now there are the laws that stop immigrant refugees, which were a great
source of skilled labor for our factories,”
he said.
He and his wife, Debra, and members
of his executive team visit each factory
every Christmas season, donning blue
aprons embroidered with “Brooks
Brothers” to serve lunch to workers. Mr.
D., as they call him, joins in to dance and
to speak Italian and Spanish with the
workers. He also gives out certificates
for graduates of the English classes and
awards for years of service.
“Whenever he walks into the factory,
everybody claps,” said Adriana Lucin,
the production manager at the tie factory. “He’s like a star. Everyone wants to
take a selfie with Mr. D.”
A rising star in food, following a family tradition
When Fayad Araiji arrived in Crowley,
La., from Zgharta in northern Lebanon
in 1920, he did not speak a word of English. But by 1928, Mr. Araiji, by then
known as Fred Reggie, had started three
businesses, including a grocery store
stocked with canned goods, flour and
Now, his great-granddaughter Simone Reggie is doing her best to keep
In late 2016, Ms. Reggie, 40, opened Simone’s Market, a grocery that stresses
local produce, products and meals prepared in house. It is her third venture
since getting her master of business administration from Tulane University in
2012, and one that she approaches as if
she were serving family and friends.
“They’re guests in our home,” Ms.
Reggie said. “When they come in, I want
everyone to feel like they’re very important.”
Kristen Essig, co-chef at the New Orleans restaurant Coquette and a finalist
for this year’s James Beard Award for
best chef in the South, said Ms. Reggie
“runs her business as she lives her life:
with generosity, compassion and
But Ms. Reggie’s familial approach
camouflages an enormous amount of
drive, said her business partner, A. J.
Brooks, a local developer and a classmate at Tulane.
Both of them, he said, are interested in
ventures that “connect with the community, and aren’t just another place to do
an errand or a place to sleep.”
Ms. Reggie’s enterprises have caught
the attention of the magazine Southern
Living, which recently named her one of
30 Southern food women to watch. She
also was mentioned in Garden & Gun
magazine’s look at how to do New Orleans like a local.
Before the market, Ms. Reggie helped
create Cleaver and Company, a butcher
shop, and the New Orleans branch of
Good Eggs, the San Francisco organic
food delivery company. She sold her interest in the butcher shop, which is now
closed, and Good Eggs subsequently
shut its operations in New York, Los Angeles and New Orleans to focus on its
home base.
The market came to life while Mr.
Brooks was renovating a pair of old
buildings in the Central Business Dis-
Simone Reggie, who owns Simone’s Market in the Uptown neighborhood of New Orleans. Her grocery emphasizes local produce, products and meals prepared in-house.
trict to form the 35-room Catahoula Hotel, which opened in 2016. Ms. Reggie
had planned to open her market around
the corner, but that location fell through
at the last minute.
Within a week, Ms. Reggie found a
spot on emerging Oak Street, in the Uptown neighborhood, which required a
commercial kitchen, custom-built shelving and a front counter. Including inventory, Ms. Reggie said, the venture cost
around $600,000.
Her goal is to earn net profit margins
of 3 to 5 percent a year, though some
customers complain that her local products cost too much. But that reflects doing business with small vendors, Mr.
Brooks said.
“Everything is curated,” he said.
“You’re dealing with a person at the
other end, and usually an owner, not a
sales rep for a big corporation.”
Ms. Reggie’s parents divorced when
she was 2, and her childhood was split
between New Orleans, her mother’s
home base, and Lafayette, La., where
her father owned a restaurant. He subsequently became the head of St. Jude’s
Dream Home Giveaway, a fund-raising
program for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.
One of Ms. Reggie’s cousins is Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Another is
Mikie Mahtook, an outfielder in the Detroit Tigers baseball organization.
Ms. Reggie has an impressive network in New Orleans, where her annual
Mardi Gras open house draws chefs,
food writers, photographers and other
assorted friends. They came to her aid
when her mother, Mary, known as
Missy, died last fall.
As soon as word spread, food began to
arrive from the city’s top restaurants.
On the funeral day, Ms. Reggie arrived
at the luncheon afterward to find that it
was catered by her mentor, the restaurateur John Besh.
Mr. Besh has since been enveloped in
a sexual harassment scandal, causing
him to leave the Besh Restaurant Group
and lose his association with PBS,
whose stations carried his television
Ms. Reggie declined to comment on
the allegations against Mr. Besh, but
said she remained grateful for what she
had learned from him over the years.
“I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t
for him pushing me to follow my dream
and open a business,” said Ms. Reggie,
who also ran a microloan program for local growers. “It’s because of him that I
learned about the struggles of local
farmers to produce their product.”
Ms. Reggie envisions more Simone’s
Markets across New Orleans, but getting people in the door is a constant
worry. “You wake up every morning
thinking, ‘Will they come?’” Ms. Reggie
Yet she believes anxiety is motivating. “There’s got to be a level of fear,” she
said. “If you’re not scared, you’re not
thinking it all the way through.”
MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2018 | 9
The lesser child of Israel’s occupation
Gaza is a
tragic place
and a
disaster zone
— and one
of Zionism’s
Gideon Levy
TEL AVIV Sometime in the mid-1990s, I
bade farewell to the Gaza Strip. In thrall
to the great illusion, sweet and dizzying,
that were the 1993 Oslo peace accords, I
was sure that Gaza was about to be liberated from Israel’s occupation. The
fate of that stretch of land mattered to
me very much. There were nearly
700,000 Palestinian refugees there at
the time, many already second- and
third-generation. Most lived in camps,
in disgraceful conditions.
Two decades later, Gaza is even worse
off. The number of refugees there has almost doubled, reaching 1.3 million, out
of a total population close to 1.9 million.
Its residents are even less free. In fact,
they have been under blockade by Israel — with help from Egypt — after the
militant group Hamas took power in
2007. Unemployment has reached
nightmarish figures: more than 46 percent overall in late 2017, and close to 65
percent for people under 30. Israel continues to tighten its hold, building an underground wall into the sandy soil to
block tunnels that Hamas has dug.
On Friday, like the three Fridays before, thousands of Gazans faced off hundreds of Israeli soldiers across a fence.
They are expected to gather again for
more protests every Friday until May
15, the day that commemorates what
Palestinians call the Nakba, or catastrophe: the creation of the state of Israel in
1948 — which meant the loss of hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages.
The Gazan protesters, most of them
barehanded, wear cheap and tattered
clothing. Behind them are Palestinian
ambulances, waiting for the next casualties. Some demonstrators have tires,
ready to be set on fire; others hold mirrors, hoping to temporarily blind the soldiers of one of the world’s strongest,
best equipped armies on the other side.
Israel, being Israel, is deploying unbridled force against a helpless population. Dozens of snipers, backed by
tanks, fire live ammunition against
demonstrators whose only weapons are
their own bodies — and maybe a tire or a
mirror. Israel has always acted like this
in Gaza, because it can; the West Bank,
by comparison, seems like an island of
moderation and enlightenment. And
most Israelis, it seems, couldn’t care
For Gaza is the lesser child of the Israeli occupation, and also the lesser
child of the world. Gaza is far from the
holy sites, far from the elegant hotels
and fashionable bars of Jerusalem and
Ramallah, and far, too, from what little
attention the world still pays to the Palestinian problem. Israel uses that remoteness effectively. Although it has
moved out of Gaza, its occupation hasn’t
stopped. The jailers who once worked
inside that prison now operate outside
it, which is more comfortable for them
The Israeli government ramped up its
abuse after Hamas seized control of the
Gaza Strip in June 2007. It couldn’t have
wished for more than Hamas’s rise: No
one would expect it to negotiate with
those fundamentalists. The rest of the
world has boycotted any talks with them
— though for reasons not entirely clear.
It speaks with North Korea’s leader, Kim
Jong-un, and President Hassan
Rouhani of Iran, but it won’t speak with
Ismail Haniya, the political leader of Hamas.
So Israel is permitted everything in
Gaza. And it has turned the territory
into its training field, a giant lab — for
gauging the reactions of the nearly two
million people it keeps under siege
there, and for testing its innovative
weapons, as well as the limits of what
the world will let it get away with.
This practice started with the retaliation operations of Unit 101 in the 1950s,
payback for Palestinian terrorist attacks. It continued during the brief occupation of Gaza in 1956, during what Israel calls the Sinai Campaign (aka the
Suez Crisis), and it resumed again during the early days of occupation after
1967, when Ariel Sharon — then an army
commander, later the prime minister —
set up death squads in Gaza.
It’s no coincidence that the First Intifada broke out in Gaza in 1987. And it’s
no coincidence that Israel has embarked on three savage military offensives there over the past decade, killing
thousands of people, wounding tens of
thousands, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless and sowing unbelievable ruin. This would not have been possible in the West Bank, if only because
there are too many Jewish settlements
there now, abutting Palestinian villages.
The test case was Operation Cast
Lead. In just over three weeks in December 2008 and January 2009, according to the Jewish Virtual Library, Israel
Israel has
killed 1,434 Palestinturned the
ians in Gaza, many
territory into
unarmed — comits training
pared with 14 Isfield, a
raelis, most of them
soldiers, killed by
giant lab.
Palestinians. The ratio is gruesome:
about 100 to 1.
The world was put to the test then.
Had it taken substantial action against
Israel, the country might not have dared
be so brutal again. A United Nations investigation known as the Goldstone Report cast heavy blame on Israel (and
some on Hamas). Still, Israel read past
the lip service and understood that it
would have to pay nothing, not even for
acts suspected of being war crimes or
crimes against humanity.
Just three years later, in November
2012, it embarked on Operation Pillar of
Defense, which was relatively restrained. But two years after that came
Operation Protective Edge — the most
brutal of its assaults on Gaza, which
killed more than 2,200 Palestinians.
The decade-long siege of Gaza is an
unparalleled collective punishment. Israel’s methods, disproportionate under
international law, are carefully planned
and considered. At one point, the military justified restrictions on food imports into Gaza by calculating the number of calories a person there needed
daily to survive.
No wonder living conditions have
only gotten worse over the years. Gisha,
an Israeli human rights organization,
estimates that the number of Palestinians who were allowed to leave Gaza, including for medical treatment, averaged under 6,000 a month last year —
less than half the monthly average for
2016 or 2015.
A United Nations report was already
warning in 2012 that Gaza would be uninhabitable by 2020, and matters have
only gotten worse in the meantime.
But the fate of these almost two million human beings forced to live in a vast
cage — most of them youngsters with no
past, no present and no future — mainly
because of Israel’s inhuman policies,
doesn’t seem to touch the country’s conscience.
Israelis live in denial; they barely
even talk about Gaza. Much of the local
media, betraying its mission, hardly
covers life there: No matter what, Gaza
is simply characterized as a hive of terrorism and a constant threat to our security. “Go to Gaza!” is a common Hebrew curse.
After the failure of the Camp David
summit meeting of July 2000 and then
the Second Intifada, in 2000-05, many
Israelis lost both hope in peace and interest in the Palestinian tragedy.
Israel has turned right, and nationalistic, even racist. Yet the truth is that
Gaza is a disaster zone, and one of Zionism’s greatest victims.
is a columnist for Haaretz.
This essay was translated by Dena
Shunra from the Hebrew.
China turns TV into a weapon
The United
States should
put sanctions
on those
for televising
Peter Dahlin
Every once in a while people ask me
about it. Journalists and diplomats
who talk to me for the first time usually open with it. When I meet new
people I don’t mention it at all, and yet
somehow the next time I see them
they know all about it: the “confession” I was forced to make on Chinese
television in 2016.
The Chinese media has been long
known to work with the state, or
rather, China’s Communist Party, to
spread propaganda. It is now clear
that the media outlets have also become active players in China’s foreign
policy. I didn’t think about it that way
when I first viewed, in extreme discomfort, my own televised confession.
At the time, I thought of the scene as
mere propaganda and an attempt to
scare other foreign human rights
But in February, when I watched
Gui Minhai, a brave independent bookseller and a fellow Swede, paraded for
the third time in front of the media, it
became clear: These televised confessions are actually weapons of foreign
They fit a clear pattern. A new report by the human rights group Safeguard Defenders, for which I was
asked to provide testimony, reveals
what goes on backstage. My experience, and that of the others who went
through this ordeal, shows that these
so-called confessions are produced in
close collaboration with Chinese media
outlets, usually before any legal proceedings have begun. They often follow a similar script: The subjects
“confess,” denounce others, praise the
party and, most important, undermine
foreign criticism of China’s human
rights abuses. Gui Minhai’s latest
“confession” was a point-by-point
rebuttal of Sweden’s objections to
China’s handling of his case.
Occasionally, there are moments of
comedy. I found it difficult to keep a
straight face as I spoke to the journalist sent by China Central Television, or
CCTV, the state television network.
Both of us were sitting there holding
pieces of paper, and my script had all
the questions and answers written out
for us to recite. It was absurdly stagemanaged, with state security agents
directing how I was to behave and
The theater hides a grim reality: I
read the script in exchange for freedom for me and my girlfriend. We
were both held in solitary confinement
inside one of China’s secret prisons,
which operate under the euphemism
“residential surveillance at a designated location.” Because of a severe medical condition, I feared that I would not
survive in custody. Many victims
endure far worse, including prolonged
physical and mental abuse and the
harassment or detention of their children and siblings.
The use of these secret prisons has
been expanded under the leadership of
President Xi Jinping, and they are only
one example of his efforts to hold
power ever more tightly. Television
Police walk past a missing person notice for Gui Minhai, left, a bookseller who was
detained by Chinese authorities.
and other media are crucial tools of the
Chinese Communist Party in its soft
power push around the world. CCTV’s
American unit, for example, claims to
reach about 30 million households in
the United States and won an Emmy
Award in 2016.
These same Chinese media outlets,
as well as some in Hong Kong, air
forced confessions, which are illegal
under Chinese law and are in violation
of principles of human rights. After
Iran’s government allegedly collaborated with security services and pros-
ecutors to broadcast forced TV confessions, the European Union in 2013
imposed a visa ban and asset freezes
on the head of the state-run broadcasting authority, which was also blacklisted by the United States. When
American intelligence agencies said
RT America, a television station
backed by the Kremlin, had participated in a campaign to manipulate the
2016 election, the Justice Department
forced RT America to register under
the Foreign Agents Registration Act,
which requires it to regularly disclose
financial information.
The United States should enforce
similar requirements on all Chinese
media outlets in the United States. And
the United States should invoke the
Global Magnitsky Act to impose sanctions on the people in power at Chinese
media companies, as well as those
within the Chinese police and state
security apparatus who are responsible for these televised humiliations.
The Magnitsky Act offers great power
to target individuals, by freezing their
U.S. assets and banning them from
traveling to the United States.
America has applied the Global
Magnitsky Act to people in China
before for other human rights violations, and it should do the same for
these abuses. With sanctions as leverage, the United States could also push
for greater access to American media
within China.
We should welcome and encourage
Chinese media outlets to play a bigger
role in a competition of ideas. The
United States should not abandon its
belief in free expression — that’s why
Americans have access to Chinese
television. But the United States
should also recognize that China’s
leaders are engaged in a sophisticated
foreign policy game, using the reach of
the media to multiply the impact of the
abuse it directs at critics. The American
response should be no less forceful.
is a human rights activist
based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He was
the director of the Beijing-based human
rights group China Action, which closed
in 2016.
10 | MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2018
To change a country, change its trains
Tom Zoellner
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
precedent for
the opioid
raging in the
U.S. today —
but Americans
seem to have
One of the more distressing truths of America’s opioid
epidemic, which now kills tens of thousands of people
every year, is that it isn’t the first such crisis. Across
the 19th and 20th centuries, the United States, China
and other countries saw drug abuse surge as opium
and morphine were used widely as recreational drugs
and medicine. In the West, doctors administered morphine liberally to their patients, while families used
laudanum, an opium tincture, as a cure-all, including
for pacifying colicky children. In China, many millions
of people were hooked on smoking opium. In the
mid-1800s, the British went into battle twice to keep
the Chinese market open to drug imports in what
would become known as the Opium Wars.
That history has either been forgotten or willfully
ignored by many in the medical and political establishments.
Today’s opioid crisis is already the deadliest drug
epidemic in American history. Opioid overdoses killed
more than 45,000 people in the 12 months that ended
in September, according to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.
Experts say that the death toll from opioids could
climb for years to come. Millions of people are dependent on or addicted to these drugs, and many of them
are increasingly turning to more potent, illicit supplies
of heroin and fentanyl, which are cheap and readily
available on the street and online. Yet only about 10
percent of Americans who suffer from substance
abuse receive specialized addiction treatment, according to a report by the surgeon general.
President Emmanuel Macron of
France, on a quest to liberalize the
economy, has now confronted a towering foe that has humbled would-be
reformers before him: the railway
Mr. Macron wants to turn the stateowned company, SNCF, into a joint
stock enterprise and rein in the benefits and pay raises given to railway
workers, some of whom can retire on a
pension at as young as 52. The unions
have responded with a rolling strike
that will last into June and could
threaten the commutes of the railways’
4.5 million daily passengers. Mr. Macron is gambling that he can win the
contest of public opinion. He is also
seizing on one of history’s durable
rules: changing a nation goes hand-inhand with changing its rail system.
Britain provides a useful nearby
example. That nation’s extraordinary
network of iron rails sprung to life in
an atmosphere of corporate chaos in
the 1830s — a signature development
of the Industrial Revolution — and
came under state control as British
Railways in 1948 as a part of the nationalizing wave of the postwar years.
As Margaret Thatcher reversed those
trends and privatized large segments
of the economy in the 1980s, she targeted the British Railways onion,
peeling off its catering and hotel functions one property at a time, then
selling off the Sealink ferries. Her
successor John Major succeeded in
spinning off the once-unified system
into 25 “train operating units” run by
franchisees — since then, a source of
reliable complaint from passengers but
a powerful symbol of British capitalism.
Or look to the United States, which
once had 20,000 passenger trains
roaring down a quarter-million miles of
active track every day: a dynamic
country fueled on the coal and steam of
locomotives. After World War II, a
powerful coalition of Texas oil interests
and Detroit auto manufacturers helped
push through the Federal Highway Aid
Act of 1956 that jump-started the interstate highway system. Railroad companies were encouraged to dump passenger service, and this — among
other factors — helped bring massive
structural transformation to the coun-
try: broadening the footprint of suburban sprawl, addicting Americans to
petroleum, changing agricultural and
retail patterns and, as a footnote, sending the once-mighty American passenger train into the perpetual nursing
home of Amtrak.
Other global examples, both historic
and recent, show how state metamorphosis manifests in
the railbed. Russia
France is a
became a bicontinencase study in
tal power by extendthe truism
ing its rails into
that a
Siberia. Benito Musnational rail
solini famously took
credit for Italian rail
network is
upgrades. The
the spirit of
British unified thouthe country
sands of principaliin miniature.
ties in colonial India
not through language but through
railways, and when the government of
former Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh sought to ramp up the economy
in the mid-2000s, it cut hiring quotas at
Indian Railways and promoted roundthe-clock freight loading. China sought
to hit six percent growth targets
through the last decade by building a
stupendous $508 billion network of
As many as 313,000 people were addicted to injected
morphine and smoked opium in the United States in
the late 19th century, according to David Courtwright,
a history professor at the University of North Florida
who has written extensively about drugs. Another
scholar, R. K. Newman, estimated that as many as 16.2
million Chinese were dependent on opium and smoked
the drug daily.
In the United States today, about 2.6 million people
suffer from opioid use disorder. But some experts say
that data, which is based on a government survey,
underestimates the number of pain patients who are
addicted to their prescription pills because of how
surveyors ask people about drug use; the actual number might exceed five million.
Today’s opioid crisis has its roots in the 1990s, when
prescriptions for painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin started to become common. Companies like
Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin, aggressively peddled the idea that these drugs were not
addictive with the help of dubious or misinterpreted
Federal regulators, doctors and others were swayed
by pharmaceutical companies that argued for greater
use of opioids; there was increasing awareness that
doctors had become too unresponsive to patients who
were in pain.
The AIDS crisis might provide public officials some
lessons for how to move forward. Like with opioids,
the federal government responded to that epidemic by
doing next to nothing for many years. But an organized movement led in part by people with H.I.V. and
gay activists eventually forced Congress to create and
fund new programs.
Though slow to act, Congress eventually treated
AIDS as a complex, multidimensional problem and
tackled it by funding prevention, treatment, support
services and research. Lawmakers provided money to
make expensive antiretroviral drugs accessible to
more people and allocated money to help house people
infected with H.I.V., recognizing that they needed
more than just access to drugs.
Lawmakers so far have fallen far short of such a
vigorous effort when it comes to opioid addiction.
Congress has taken what can be considered only baby
steps by appropriating a total of a few billion dollars of
discretionary opioid funding in recent years. Andrew
Kolodny, co-director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University, says at least $6 billion a year is
needed for 10 years to set up a nationwide network of
clinics and doctors to provide treatment with medicines like buprenorphine and methadone. Those drugs
have a proven track record at reducing overdoses and
giving people struggling with addiction a shot at a
stable life.
Next, lawmakers need to remove regulations restricting access to buprenorphine, an opioid that can
be used to get people off stronger drugs like heroin; its
use is unlikely to end in an overdose.
To stem the number of new opioid users, lawmakers
and regulators need to stop pharmaceutical companies
from marketing drugs like OxyContin and establish
stronger guidelines about how and when doctors can
prescribe them.
Leaders in both parties are responsible for this crisis. As we’ve learned the hard way, without stronger
leadership, the opioid epidemic will continue to wreak
havoc across the country.
high-speed trains knitting together its
major cities. Last year, Kenya opened
the Madaraka Express between the
port at Mombasa and the capital of
Nairobi that can carry 22 million tons
of cargo a year, strengthening its dependence on imports and deepening its
reliance on Asia.
The calls to reform France’s SNCF is
partly coming from the outside — the
European Union requires members to
open railways to competition by January 2019. Still, Mr. Macron is taking
aim at an institution that — for all its
glories and faults — comes close to
representing the soul of France itself, a
representation of the permanent state
indifferent to the winds of politics ever
since Emperor Napoleon III provided a
state guarantee of interest to bondholders in 1852, and instructed
Georges-Eugene Haussmann to give
the marbled palaces of railway stations
an honored place in his redesign of
Parisian boulevards.
Lines radiated outward from the
Gare du Nord, Gare de l’Est and Gare
d’Orsay, among others, creating a
Paris-centric concept of the hexagonal
nation that persists today: The historian Jules Michelet perceived it as a
grand tool of unification. “The chateau
represents pleasure, the caprice of one
man; the railway is for everyone’s use,
bringing France together, bringing
Lyon and Paris into communion with
one another,” he is reported to have
said after a ride to Versailles. Gustav
Eiffel made himself a celebrity engineer with railway bridges before he
ever attempted a tower, and France
remade its countryside with suburbs
anchored to railway stations.
The heavy hand of Paris brought
distinctively French touches: padded
seats even in third class, an unwieldy
timetable the size of a dictionary, the
grandeur of the high-speed TGV, and a
class of civil servants who call themselves cheminots with essentially a job
for life and guaranteed sick leave,
which created the old French joke that
working for the railway must be dangerous because its employees are
always getting ill.
From 1910 onward, the unions have
made rail strikes a predictable element
of the national vocabulary and a fearsome weapon deployed against unfriendly French politicians. When he
was prime minister, Alain Juppé tried
to reform the SNCF. He lasted only two
years in office after a set of strikes in
1995 made commuters miserable and
turned him into a pariah. Mr. Macron is
not just trying to repeal regulations;
he is fighting an employment culture
with lengthy taproots and outsized
influence across other sectors.
France is an excellent case study in
the truism that a national rail network
is the spirit of the country in miniature,
a little state within the state. For Mr.
Macron to successfully take SNCF —
and with it, France — in a different
direction would be an act of true Napoleonic audacity.
is the author of “Train:
Riding the Rails That Created the Modern World — from the Trans-Siberian to
the Southwest Chief,” among other
The deals that could imperil Trump
Peter Fritsch
Glenn R. Simpson
Put aside Russian collusion for a moment. Press pause on possible presidential obstruction of justice. Forget
Stormy Daniels. The most significant
recent development involving the
president may be that the special
counsel, Robert Mueller, has subpoenaed Trump Organization business
records as part of his inquiry into
Russian interference in the presidential election.
Those documents — and records
recently seized by the F.B.I. from the
president’s personal lawyer Michael
Cohen — might answer a question
raised by the president’s critics: Have
certain real estate investors used
Trump-branded properties to launder
the proceeds of criminal activity
around the world?
We pored over Donald Trump’s
business records for well over a year,
at least those records you can get
without a badge or a subpoena. We
also hired a former British intelligence
official, Christopher Steele, to look into
Mr. Trump’s possible ties to Russia. In
that 2015-16 investigation, sponsored
first by a Republican client and then by
Democrats, we found strong indications that companies affiliated with Mr.
Trump, then a presidential candidate,
might have been entangled in foreign
A string of bankruptcies in the 1990s
and 2000s may have left Mr. Trump’s
companies largely unable to tap traditional sources of financing. That could
have forced him to look elsewhere for
financing and partners at a time when
money was pouring out of the former
Soviet Union.
Indeed, from New York to Florida,
Panama to Azerbaijan, we found that
Trump projects have relied heavily on
foreign cash — including from wealthy
individuals from Russia and elsewhere
with questionable, and even criminal,
backgrounds. We saw money traveling
through offshore shell companies,
entities often used to obscure ownership. Many news organizations have
since dug deeply into the Trump Organization’s projects and come away with
similar findings.
This reporting has not uncovered
conclusive evidence that the Trump
Organization or its principals knowingly abetted criminal activity. And it’s
not reasonable to expect the company
to keep track of every condo buyer in a
Trump-branded building. But Mr.
Trump’s company routinely teamed up
with individuals whose backgrounds
should have raised red flags.
Consider the Bayrock Group, a
developer that once had lavish offices
in Trump Tower. The firm worked with
Mr. Trump in the mid-2000s to build
the Trump SoHo in Lower Manhattan,
among other troubled projects. One of
its principals was a
Russian émigré,
Felix Sater, linked to
The business
organized crime who
served time for
felony assault and
who later pleaded
by Robert
guilty to racketMueller
eering involving a
might be the
$40 million stock
fraud scheme.
greatest legal
Belgian authorities
accused a Kazakh
financier recruited
by Bayrock of carrying out a $55 million money-laundering
scheme (that case was settled without
an admission of guilt). Civil suits filed
Donald Trump, Tevfik Arif, center, and Felix Sater at the 2007 launch party for Trump
SoHo, which they developed together.
in Los Angeles and New York allege
that a former mayor of the largest city
in Kazakhstan and several of his family
members laundered millions in stolen
public funds, investing some of it in
real estate, including units in Trump
SoHo. (The family has denied wrongdoing and says it is the victim of political persecution.)
Then there is Sunny Isles Beach,
where over 60 individuals with Russian passports or addresses bought
nearly $100 million worth of units in
Trump-branded condominium towers
in a part of South Florida known as
Little Moscow. Among them were
Russian government officials who
made million-dollar investments and a
Ukrainian owner of two units who
pleaded guilty to one count of receipt
of stolen property in a money-laundering scheme involving a former Ukrainian prime minister.
In 2006, the sale of condos in the
first international hotel venture under
the Trump brand, the former Trump
Ocean Club International Hotel and
Tower in Panama, fell, in large part, to
a Brazilian named Alexandre Ventura
Nogueira. He worked with a Colombian
who was later convicted of money
laundering. Mr. Nogueira told NBC
News last year that he sold about half
of his Trump condos to Russians, including some connected to the Russian
mafia, and that some of his clients had
“questionable backgrounds.”
Three years later, as Reuters has
reported, Panamanian authorities
arrested Mr. Nogueira on charges of
fraud and forgery unrelated to the
Trump project. After getting out on
bail, he fled to Brazil, where he faces a
separate money-laundering investigation. In 2014, he fled Brazil, too.
The Trumps typically claim to be
passive partners in projects like Trump
Ocean Club and that they had minimal
dealings with the likes of Mr. Nogueira.
MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2018 | 11
Jewish power at 70 years
Bret Stephens
Adapting to American decline
the two Koreas are any indication, this
is the last thing on the minds of policymakers.
There is no question that America’s
share of global wealth is shrinking. By
some estimates, the United States
accounted for roughly 50 percent of
global output at the end of World War
II. By 1985, its share stood at 22.5
percent. It has fallen to 15.1 percent
today, and the International Monetary
Fund projects that it will slip to 13.7
percent by 2023.
The proliferation of various technologies — from crude explosives to
advanced robotics — has made it easier for even relatively small and weak
countries and nonstate actors to challenge the big and powerful United
States. These days any truly determined country, even a very poor one
like North Korea, can develop nuclear
weapons to deter attacks.
Yet Americans may be the last people to recognize the changing shape of
global power. It’s not that senior national security officials don’t understand that they have a problem. The
Trump administration’s National Defense Strategy, for example, speaks of
“an ever more lethal and disruptive
battlefield” and worrisome “trends”
that “will challenge our ability to deter
Its answer? Try harder.
The document predicts that America’s allies will lose faith and the country’s global influence will wane unless
taxpayers commit to “devoting additional resources in a sustained effort to
solidify our competitive advantage.”
The problem is the United States
already spends more on its military
than the next seven or eight nations
combined. Total annual expenditures,
including for the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan, have averaged $561 billion since 2001. So, how much more
must Americans spend to maintain a
military edge sufficient to deter attacks
against others?
About $196 billion more, on average,
over the next five years. The Trump
administration projects spending $3.78
trillion from 2019 to 2023, or $756.9
billion a year. Some doubt that even
that will be enough.
Ideally, this additional spending will
discourage others from challenging us.
Even if it did, however, that would
require Americans to accept less domestic spending, higher taxes or both
in order to allow others to underspend
on their militaries.
But what worked before might not
work in the future. America’s insistence upon maintaining primacy at all
costs may stimulate greater resistance
from the likes of China and Russia.
And the risk that the United States
gets drawn into wars that it need not
fight and cannot win will remain high,
no matter how much we spend. We are
faced with the prospect, then, of frequent uses of force — like the missile
strike against suspected Syrian chemical weapons sites this month that even
supporters admitted was unlikely, by
itself, to accomplish much.
There are, however, alternatives to
simply spending more and trying
harder. Of course, the easy, and unpalatable, options would hand over the
reins of global leadership to China, or
simply have American forces withdraw
quickly and let the chips fall where
they may.
Instead, America should seek a new
arrangement that asks the beneficiaries of today’s relatively peaceful and
prosperous world order to make a
meaningful contribution to maintaining
it. The American security umbrella will
stay aloft — and American military
power will remain formidable — but
others will need to do more.
Rather than treating allies like reckless teenagers who can’t be trusted
without Uncle Sam’s
constant superviWashington
sion, or feckless
weaklings that will
jump at the chance
to capitulate to rapastates to deal
cious neighbors,
Washington should
with local
empower mature,
like-minded states to
before they
deal with local chalbecome
lenges before they
global crises.
become regional or
global crises.
Some countries, in
fact, are already moving in this direction. South Korea has undertaken its
own bilateral negotiations with North
Korea. Unsettled by Donald Trump’s
threats to renege on American security
commitments, or offended by his attempt to extract tribute in exchange
for American protection, these countries’ leaders are thinking seriously
about different security arrangements.
As Constanze Stelzenmüller explained
in a recent paper for the Brookings
Institution, Europeans, in particular,
have an “existential” interest in “preserving an international order that
safeguards peace and globalization.”
Of course, one purported advantage
of an American-funded global security
order is that it supposedly allows
Washington to call the shots — and,
naturally, some worry that its allies
would show less deference and be less
willing to comply with Washington’s
dictates if they were less dependent
upon American power. But that already
happens: In fact, some allies have
been known to act recklessly when
they believe that America has their
back. Look at the ruinous war that
Saudi Arabia is waging in Yemen, one
of the world’s poorest countries. Greater independence could induce greater
And the benefits flow both ways. If
Washington was slightly less confident
that it could call the tune and expect
others to dance, that might help America to avoid costly mistakes. Would the
United States have invaded Iraq if it
didn’t believe that other countries
would help clean up after?
Transitioning to a world with many
capable actors won’t be easy. It will
require a deft hand to unwind defense
arrangements, and patience as others
find their way. Given their own domestic spending priorities and continued
uncertainty about whether the United
States will recommit to the old model,
most American allies are likely to take
a wait-and-see attitude. A gentle nudge
might be needed to move them from
comfortable adolescence to empowered adulthood.
The columnist Charles Krauthammer once cast decline as a choice, as
though, by mere force of will, the
United States could remain atop the
international order forever.
On the other hand, it was Mr. Krauthammer who in 1990 spoke of America’s unipolar “moment” — a temporary
state of affairs, occasioned by a unique
set of circumstances that defined the
first few years of the post-Cold War
world. That world no longer exists.
Wishing it back into existence won’t
make it so.
The United States is the most important country in the world and will
remain so for many years by virtue of
its strong economy and prodigious
military capabilities. But admitting
that the United States is incapable of
effectively adjudicating every territorial dispute or of thwarting every security threat in every part of the world is
hardly tantamount to surrender. It is,
rather, a wise admission of the limits of
American power and an acknowledgment of the need to share the burdens,
and the responsibilities, of dealing with
a complex world. It is about seizing the
opportunity to make changes that
benefit us and others.
The alternative is a renewed commitment to discourage self-reliance
among allies. That will be an undertaking far more onerous than any the
United States has attempted since
World War II — and one that is unlikely to work.
is vice president
for defense and foreign policy studies at
the Cato Institute and the author of
“The Power Problem: How American
Military Dominance Makes Us Less
Safe, Less Prosperous and Less Free.”
Trump’s business entanglements
(The chief legal officer for the Trump
Organization, Alan Garten, has said
that no one in the Trump family remembers meeting or speaking to Mr.
Nogueira. But there are photos of Mr.
Trump and his daughter Ivanka with
Mr. Nogueira.) Yet Mr. Trump’s limited
public disclosures reveal his company
has earned millions from licensing
fees, a percentage of property sales
and management fees in foreign
projects. And the Trump family was
sometimes personally involved in
everything from a project’s design to
its décor.
That appears to have been the case
with the Trump International Hotel &
Tower in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, a high-end residence and hotel
that has yet to open. In 2012, the
Trumps signed a licensing agreement
with the local developer, Anar Mammadov — the son of the country’s
billionaire transportation minister, Ziya
Mammadov, who an American diplomat once described in cables published
by WikiLeaks as “notoriously corrupt
even for Azerbaijan.”
The Trump Organization has said
that it conducted an extensive duediligence review of Anar Mammadov
and that questions about the source of
his wealth surfaced after they signed
the deal. Presumably, Mr. Mueller will
want to see evidence of that.
In Vancouver, the Trump Organization partnered with the son of Tony
Tiah Thee Kian, a Malaysian oligarch
who was convicted of providing a false
report to the Kuala Lumpur stock
exchange. That project, which was
guided by Ivanka Trump and is one of
the few Trumpbranded properties
Mr. Trump’s
to open since Mr.
Trump took office, is
now the subject of an
teamed up
F.B.I. counterintelliwith
gence inquiry, acindividuals
cording to CNN. Mr.
Garten, the Trump
chief legal officer,
told CNN: “The
should have
company’s role was
raised red
and is limited to
licensing its brand
and managing the
hotel. Accordingly,
the company would have had no involvement in the financing of the
project or the sale of units.”
It remains unclear whether Mr.
Mueller will investigate these deals, or
already is. But a comprehensive investigation could raise questions about the
Trump Organization’s compliance with
anti-money-laundering laws and the
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which
— according to the Securities and
Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice — makes it a crime for
a United States company to act with
willful blindness toward the corrupt
activities of a foreign business partner.
The former Donald Trump insider
Steve Bannon has hinted darkly about
the Trump family’s exposure to money
laundering. And Mr. Mueller has already secured the indictment of Paul
Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, on charges of money
laundering related to his work in
Federal prosecutors are reported to
be looking into Jared Kushner’s family
firm over its use of a federal program
that offered wealthy Chinese investors
visas in return for investments. Kushner Companies has denied any wrongdoing.
The Trump family’s business entanglements are of more than historical
significance. Americans need to be
sure that major foreign policy decisions are made in the national interest
— not because of foreign ties forged by
the president’s business ventures.
former journalists, are the founders of
the research firm Fusion GPS.
Adam Armoush is a 21-year-old Israeli
Arab who, on a recent outing in Berlin,
donned a yarmulke to test a friend’s
contention that it was unsafe to do so in
Germany. Last week he was assaulted
in broad daylight by a Syrian asylumseeker who whipped him with a belt for
being “yahudi” — Arabic for Jew.
The episode was caught on video and
has caused a national uproar. Heiko
Maas, the foreign minister, tweeted,
“Jews shall never again feel threatened
It’s a vow not likely to be fulfilled.
There were nearly 1,000 reported antiSemitic incidents in Berlin alone last
year. A neo-fascist party, Alternative for
Germany, has 94 seats in the Bundestag. On April 12, a pair of German
rappers won a prestigious music award,
given largely on the basis of sales, for an
album in which they boast of having
bodies “more defined than Auschwitz
prisoners.” The award ceremony coincided with Holocaust Remembrance
To be Jewish — at least visibly Jewish
— in Europe is to live on borrowed time.
That’s not to doubt the sincerity and
good will of Maas or other European
leaders who recommit to combating
anti-Semitism every time a European
Jew is murdered or a Jewish institution
attacked. It’s only to doubt their capacity.
There’s a limit to how many armed
guards can be deployed indefinitely to
protect synagogues or stop Holocaust
memorials from being vandalized.
There’s a limit, also, to trying to cure
bigotry with earnest appeals to tolerance. The German government is
mulling a proposal to require recent
arrivals in the country to tour Nazi
concentration camps as a way of engendering a feeling of empathy for Jews. It
doesn’t seem to occur to anyone that, to
the virulent anti-Semite, Buchenwald is
a source of inspiration, not shame.
All this comes to mind as Israel last
week marked (in the Hebrew calendar)
the 70th anniversary of its independence. There are many reasons to cele-
brate the date, many of them lofty: a
renaissance for Jewish civilization; the
creation of a feisty liberal democracy in
a despotic neighborhood; the ecological
rescue of a once-barren land; the end of
1,878 years of exile.
But there’s a more basic reason. Jews
cannot rely for their safety on the kindness of strangers, least of all French or
German politicians. Theodor Herzl saw
this with the Dreyfus Affair and founded
modern Zionism. Post-Hitler Europe
still has far to fall when it comes to its
attitudes toward Jews, but the trend is
clear. The question is the pace.
Hence Israel: its army, bomb, and
robust willingness to use force to defend
itself. Israel did not
come into existence
Israel is a
to serve as another
safeguard for
showcase of the
Jews, and not victimization of Jews.
a vanity.
It exists to end the
victimization of Jews.
That’s a point that
Israel’s restless critics could stand to
learn. On Friday, Palestinians in Gaza
returned for the fourth time to the border fence with Israel, in protests promoted by Hamas. The explicit purpose
of Hamas leaders is to breach the fence
and march on Jerusalem. Israel cannot
possibly allow this — doing so would
create a precedent that would encourage similar protests, and more death,
along all of Israel’s borders — and has
repeatedly used deadly force to counter.
The armchair corporals of Western
punditry think this is excessive. It
would be helpful if they could suggest
alternative military tactics to an Israeli
government dealing with an urgent
crisis against an adversary sworn to its
destruction. They don’t.
It would also be helpful if they could
explain how they can insist on Israel’s
retreat to the 1967 borders and then
scold Israel when it defends those borders. They can’t. If the armchair corporals want to persist in demands for
withdrawals that for 25 years have led
to more Palestinian violence, not less,
the least they can do is be ferocious in
defense of Israel’s inarguable
sovereignty. Somehow they almost
never are.
Israel’s 70th anniversary has occasioned a fresh round of anxious, if not
exactly new, commentary about the
rifts between Israeli and Diaspora
Jewry. Some Diaspora complaints,
especially with respect to religion and
refugees, are valid and should be
heeded by Jerusalem.
But to the extent that the Diaspora’s
objections are prompted by the nonchalance of the supposedly nonvulnerable
when it comes to Israel’s security
choices, then the complaints are worse
than feckless. They provide moral
sustenance for Hamas in its efforts to
win sympathy for its strategy of wanton
aggression and reckless endangerment.
And they foster the illusion that there’s
some easy and morally stainless way by
which Jews can exercise the responsibilities of political power.
Though not Jewish, Adam Armoush
was once one of the nonchalant when it
came to what it means to be Jewish in
the 21st century. Presumably no longer.
For Jews, it’s a painful, useful reminder
that Israel is not their vanity. It’s their
Israelis celebrating the 70th anniversary of their independence.
Whatever happens
next, we’ll help you
make sense of it.
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12 | MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2018
After 22 years, a flawed titan knows it’s time
On Soccer
LONDON Now, then, it is time to make
amends. Time for all of the mutineers
to lay down their cudgels. Time for
those who had drifted away, in apathy
and in anger, to return. Time for the
swaths of empty seats that have littered Emirates Stadium to be filled
once more.
It is probably too late for a statue to
be unveiled, but not for one to be commissioned, at least. Arsène Wenger
would understand if it were not ready
for Arsenal’s final home game of the
season — against Burnley, on May 6 —
or even for what may be his last match
as Arsenal manager, a visit to Huddersfield Town, a week later. He knows,
more than most, that a labor of love
can take time.
Last week, under increasing pressure from Arsenal’s suite of executives
and in the midst of long-running discontent among the club’s fans, Wenger
decided that he would do the one thing
he said he would never do: He would
break a contract.
These weeks, he told Arsenal’s
board, will be his last in a job he has
held for 22 years. Before training on
Friday, he informed his players that he
would step down as manager at the
end of the season. An hour or so later,
the club announced it to the world.
Heartfelt, gushing tributes have
followed: from his current squad, from
his former players, from longtime
friends and from onetime enemies.
“He is, without doubt, one of the
greatest Premier League managers,”
said Alex Ferguson, who battled him
frequently during his own long tenure
at Manchester United. “I am proud to
have been a rival, a colleague and a
friend to such a great man.” Even José
Mourinho, perhaps Wenger’s most
bitter foe, was moved to discuss the
“respect” he had for the Frenchman,
even if he had a funny way of showing
it at times.
All of those eulogies are true, of
course. Wenger’s longevity, as Ferguson highlighted, is an achievement in
itself. The loyalty between him and the
club “of his heart,” as he has always
put it, is increasingly an anachronism
in soccer’s age of impatience. It is the
end of an era not just for Arsenal, but
for the sport as a whole, too, in that
sense. There will be no more who do
what Wenger did, for as long as he did.
He did, as others mentioned, shape
some of the finest teams England has
seen: the one that won the Premier
League and F.A. Cup in his first full
season, built on the granite defense he
had inherited; the Invincibles of
Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira in
2004; the team that came within 15
minutes of winning the Champions
League in 2006.
In doing so, he transformed what
Arsenal was, how it was seen, across
the globe.
That is Wenger’s legacy, just as
much as the sleek, space-age stadium
the club built on the back of his success
and the state-of-the-art training facility
he helped design: Arsenal had not
always been seen as a bastion of taste
Arsène Wenger, the longtime manager of Arsenal, said on Friday that he would step down at the end of the season. His rivals, including Alex Ferguson and José Mourinho, expressed their respect.
and style in England, let alone around
the world.
He transformed more than just his
club, though. Possibly more than any
other manager in history, Wenger
changed the nature of English soccer.
Not just, as is always
trotted out, because
“I am proud
he accelerated great
to have been
leaps forward in
a rival, a
nutrition, in condicolleague and tioning, in hydration,
a friend to
in sports science, in
recruitment and, in
such a great
later years, in anaman.”
lytics, too, but because of something
more fundamental:
He opened an entire country’s eyes.
Wenger was only the second foreign
manager to be appointed to an English
club having never experienced the
game on these shores. The first, the
Czechoslovak Jozef Venglos, arrived at
Aston Villa in 1990 championing methods similar to Wenger’s and left not
long afterward, his players unable, or
unwilling, to adapt.
Wenger was greeted by similar
skepticism. What does he know of
England, critics wondered. When
Wenger immediately set about recruiting a battalion of French players, he
was greeted with a wave of doubters
and critics. A year later, he won the
title, and then the cup. Wenger proved
that foreign managers could cut it in
an island obsessed with its own exceptionalism.
It is for all of that he should be remembered, his unyielding allies and
recently converted admirers claimed
on Friday, not for these last few years
of drift and despair. Those long seasons punctuated by three F.A. Cup
wins but dominated by the sight of
Arsenal, of Wenger, being overtaken by
Chelsea, by Manchester City and,
worst of all, by Tottenham Hotspur; of
a club first unable to compete in the
Champions League and then eliminated from it entirely; of a stadium
slowly emptying as fans lost patience
and then hope; of a board paralyzed by
its awe for an employee; of a man
unable to turn away. All of that should
be written out of the record, cast into
shadow by the searing brightness of
what went before.
It does not work like that, of course,
nor should it. Wenger’s second act is
just as central to his legacy as his first,
and the questions of why he could not
halt the decline — why, for so long, he
did not seem to notice it, why he kept
pursuing the same solution, believing
the outcome would be different, why
he allowed the final years of his reign
to be marked more by sadness than
glory — are just as relevant as how he
managed to kick-start the club’s ascent
all those years ago.
A few years ago, in one of those
many low moments that seemed to
prompt a bout of soul-searching in
Wenger, he contemplated how he
wanted to leave Arsenal for his successor. At the annual meeting of the club’s
shareholders, he talked about how he
wanted to bequeath a team primed for
immediate, continuing success, one in
better health than ever before.
It is hard to argue that he has
achieved that. No matter who replaces
him — and a young, ambitious coach to
re-energize a torpid club is the order of
the day — that person will have to
rebuild morale, reshape the squad and
restore purpose. That job will be more
difficult this year than it would have
been had Wenger stepped down in, say,
Nor will it be the work of just one
man. Perhaps the most eloquent testimony to Wenger’s greatness came not
in the words poured out in his honor
over the last 24 hours, but in the work
Arsenal has been doing to prepare for
this day over the last 12 months. Raúl
Sanllehi has come in from Barcelona as
director of football operations. Sven
Mislintat, his reputation forged at
Borussia Dortmund, is the new chief
scout. The legal expert Huss Fahmy
was drafted in from cycling’s Team Sky
to work on contracts.
Billy Beane, a friend of Wenger’s,
has always preached the need not to
find like-for-like replacements for
players, but to try to replace the aggregate of what they provided. Arsenal
has recognized that it will take four
people, effectively, to stand in for
That is the highest of praise, but it is
also fitting recognition that Wenger
was no longer a man of his time: Soccer clubs are now too vast, too complex
as organizations, to be overseen by just
one person. Wenger was the last of the
all-powerful managers; the institution
he represented, the way of thinking, is
past. That, in part, is why he has been
overtaken, why he lost his way.
None of that means that he should
not be given a monthlong valedictory
tour not just by Arsenal, but by the
country he graced for 22 years, the
country he changed, just a little, in his
own image.
Nor does the fact that he was imperfect, that he stayed on too long, that he
departs not with garlands but regrets,
mean he does not warrant a statue. In
the ancient world, even monuments to
the gods contained physical imperfections. They are great, and they deserve
to be remembered, and cherished, and
idolized. But they have their flaws, too,
just as we all do.
For Armstrong, backing down may be worse than paying up
Sports of The Times
WASHINGTON Lance Armstrong just
avoided a trial that could have ended
with his financial ruin. He reached a
settlement of $5 million, the amount
his lawyers offered the federal government almost five years ago to make
amends for Armstrong’s use of performance-enhancing drugs while he
was sponsored by the United States
Postal Service.
All things considered, the settlement
was a piddling sum. Armstrong’s cycling team received $32.3 million in its
final Postal Service contract, and the
government could have demanded
three times that amount from him.
He should be satisfied, content even.
But that’s not how Armstrong is wired,
at least not the Armstrong I covered
for more than a decade. That man
conceded nothing, ever.
He told me once that he would welcome a jury trial. He was positive that
jurors would side with him, believing
that his misdeeds were canceled out by
the good he had done as a cancer
survivor. How many of them had been
sick themselves or had loved ones with
the disease? How many came from a
generation that used to call it, in
hushed tones, the “C-word,” as if it
were a mystical, omnipotent force?
Did any of them ever wear one of the
ubiquitous yellow rubber bracelets
from Livestrong, the Armstrong foundation that spread cancer awareness
all over the world?
The settlement on Thursday took
away the chance to answer those
questions, erasing another shot at
Instead Armstrong conceded, not
only to the government but to Floyd
Landis, his former teammate who
initiated the federal fraud complaint as
a whistle-blower in 2010. From there,
Armstrong’s legacy unraveled. His
seven Tour de France titles were revoked. He forfeited millions in bonus
money, repaid a British libel settlement
and was essentially pushed out of his
own foundation.
After Armstrong publicly confessed
to doping in 2013, the government
joined Landis’s case. Under the terms
of Thursday’s settlement, Landis will
get 22 percent, or $1.1 million.
That part of the deal is pure defeat
for Armstrong, and possibly more
painful than any other element of the
case. He has to pay the man who was
responsible for his downfall, a fellow
cyclist who committed similar sins:
doping and lying about it.
Landis had failed a drug test and
been stripped of the Tour de France
title in 2006, the year after Armstrong’s reign ended. Landis traveled
around the United States professing
his innocence, wrote a book on the
subject and persuaded people to donate to his effort to regain his title and
cycling eligibility. More than 1,700
contributed nearly $500,000 to the
“Floyd Fairness Fund.”
But Landis lost his legal fight and
ended up ostracized from cycling. The
whistle-blowing began. He confessed
and agreed in court to repay his donors. It’s entirely possible that he will
keep very little of his $1.1 million from
Thursday’s settlement, after taxes, a
Lance Armstrong, left, and Floyd Landis in the 2004 Tour de France. Landis will receive 22 percent of Armstrong’s settlement payout.
cut for his lawyers and any remaining
compensation for the deceived supporters.
Armstrong would surely find little
solace in that. Still, aside from paying
Landis for his betrayal, Armstrong can
write off the settlement as an act of
The case was scheduled to go to trial
on May 7. It would have been great
theater — the first time Armstrong’s
ugly history had been explored in front
of a jury. A cast of memorable characters, many with doping pasts who had
been caught in grand lies, would have
had the room rapt.
Cycling’s longstanding code of silence would have sustained yet another smarting blow.
I would have paid good money to see
Betsy Andreu go toe to toe with Arm-
strong’s lawyers. The wife of Frankie
Andreu, another former Armstrong
teammate, she became one of the first
people to speak out against Armstrong’s doping — years before Landis
did. Armstrong repeatedly tried bullying her, to no avail. Facing Andreu’s
sharp tongue and backbone of steel,
Armstrong’s legal team would have
earned every dime of its fees.
Armstrong smartly pre-empted that
“It’s a sad day for justice,” Andreu
said Thursday after she heard of the
settlement. “Honestly, it feels like he
just got away with it. This will just
empower him to be as ruthless and as
vengeful as ever. I’m disappointed
because I was looking forward to
telling the truth.”
I’m not sure Andreu, who has been
proved right many times, was correct
on this point — that a trial would have
brought more justice than the deal cut
by federal prosecutors.
After the theatrics, the jury might
still have sided with Armstrong. No
matter how much he had been discredited as an athlete, I suspect there was
enough adoration left for him to walk
away with his bank accounts unscathed.
Maybe the government sensed that.
Maybe it didn’t.
In the end, a mediator told both
sides that $5 million was the magic
number. The government, which had
demanded at least $10 million to settle,
took that advice and gained the satisfaction of holding a celebrity at least
nominally accountable.
In some circles, that sort of compromise is a win. If Armstrong can see
things that way, he has changed a lot.
And that’s a triumph of its own.
14 | MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2018
A global star sets his heart on home
Carlos Acosta switches
focus from his dancing
to his new Cuban troupe
The career synopsis of the Cuban-born
dancer Carlos Acosta reads like a fairy
tale. As a dark-skinned boy from an especially poor part of Havana, he was
forced to audition for the national ballet
school by his father, who wanted him off
the streets. After he was accepted, he
started winning competitions in Europe
while still a student. Soon, he joined the
prestigious Ballet Nacional de Cuba,
only to be snatched up by Houston Ballet, and then the Royal Ballet in Britain,
where he became an international star.
For an exceptionally successful person, Mr. Acosta can come across as exceptionally ambivalent about his success. In his 2007 memoir, “No Way
Home,” he seems to wince with each
step up the ladder, registering the cost
— the painful separation from his family,
his country, his sense of belonging.
Speaking about his past in a recent
phone interview, he again emphasized
the estrangement, not the glory, recalling that on visits home even his cultural
references were met with incomprehension.
Nevertheless, the successes have
continued. In 2016, when he retired from
ballet, at 43, his fans packed the 5,000seat Royal Albert Hall in London for five
farewell shows. Already, he had initiated
the next stage in his career. Acosta
Danza, a classical-meets-contemporary
company he founded in Cuba, had given
its first performances in Havana. Tours
of Europe and Britain were soon to follow. The troupe will make its United
States debut at City Center in New York
on Wednesday.
As its name indicates, the company
clearly banks on Mr. Acosta’s fame, but
it’s not your usual vanity project. At City
Center, he will dance (as a guest artist)
in only one of the five works on the program, applying his gallant presence and
superb partnering skills to “Mermaid,” a
drunk duet by the Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. And although Mr. Acosta is himself a choreographer, no pieces on the program are
by him.
“I have enough flowers,” Mr. Acosta
said in the interview, speaking from
London, where he lives when he isn’t in
Havana or on tour. His focus is on the
company’s dancers: young, uncommonly agile and well-trained Cubans
who have flocked to the call of a national
hero, many of them giving up positions
with Ballet Nacional or with Danza Contemporánea, the country’s flagship contemporary dance troupe.
His goal is to give back to the country
that gave him an excellent, free dance
education. More specifically, it’s to give
the members of Acosta Danza something he didn’t have: a chance to enjoy
an international-level career without
the pain of leaving Cuba. “I want to
bring them to the world, but also to bring
the world to them,” he said.
Partly, this is a question of money and
influence. Like almost every cultural organization in Cuba, Acosta Danza is connected to the government and is subject
to its approval. As a favored son, who
has often returned to perform, Mr.
Acosta has been granted some prime
real estate for rehearsal space, among
other privileges, by the Ministry of Culture. But the government-sponsored
salaries are at Cuban rates, so it helps
that Mr. Acosta has other connections.
Acosta Danza is also supported by
Sadler’s Wells, one of the foremost
dance theaters and commissioning organizations in Britain. Its artistic director, Alistair Spalding, said in a recent interview that Sadler’s Wells — which has
been producing Cuban-themed and
Acosta-and-Friends-style shows for
more than a decade — now arranges international tours for Acosta Danza and
Above, members of Acosta Danza, a classical-meets-contemporary dance company founded by the Cuban ballet star Carlos Acosta, performing the choreographer Jorge Crecis’ “Twelve” at Sadler’s Wells in London last year.
Below, from left, Mr. Acosta in Havana; Acosta Danza performers in “El Cruce Sobre el Niágara,” by the Cuban choreographer Marianela Boán; and Mr. Acosta with Marta Ortega in Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s “Mermaid.”
subsidizes the dancers’ salaries on
those tours at much higher rates.
(“Some dancers have already been able
to buy houses,” Mr. Acosta reported
proudly.) Its financial support also pays
the fees of big-name choreographers
like Mr. Cherkaoui, a Sadler’s Wells associate artist whose high-profile client
list has lately included Beyoncé.
In this way, a remedy for one problem
facing Cuban dance — limited funds —
helps address another: weakness in
choreography. Cuba is famous for producing dancers the rest of the world
finds astonishing, many of whom go
abroad or even “defect” in the Cold War
sense, but that reputation doesn’t extend to the development of choreographers.
Mr. Acosta blames cultural isolation:
“You can’t make great Champagne in a
closet.” For decades, Cold War politics
and poverty have limited the access that
Cuban dancers have had to changes in
technique and taste in the dance world.
Lately, the situation has been improving, but there’s a lot of catching up to do.
When he says he wants to bring the
world to his dancers, importing worldclass choreographers is a crucial component of what he means.
His goal is to give his dancers
what he didn’t have: a chance for
an international-level career
without the pain of leaving Cuba.
Mr. Acosta’s hope, he said, is that
these choreographers will expose not
just his dancers but the whole Cuban
dance scene to global trends, ideas and
standards of excellence. Yet he is also
aware of a potential pitfall: that by
stocking his repertory with the work of
sought-after choreographers (Pontus
Lidberg, Justin Peck and, still on his
wish list, Crystal Pite) he might make
Acosta Danza indistinguishable from
the many companies that also present
their dances.
One strategy is to encourage choreographers to use Cuban music and designers. Another is to favor dancemak-
ers from the Spanish-speaking world.
Two pieces on the City Center program
are by lesser-known Spanish choreographers: “Alrededor no Hay Nada,” a
dark but jazzy ensemble work that Goyo
Montero made for Ballet Nacional in
2006, and “Twelve,” an intricate team
exercise in tossing water bottles, by
Jorge Crecis. More significant, though,
the remaining two works are by Cubans.
One is “El Cruce Sobre el Niágara,”
which Marianela Boán created for
Danza Contemporánea in 1987. By including this piece, a duet that translates
the difficulty of tightrope walking into
dance, Mr. Acosta acknowledges that
his project isn’t starting from scratch.
Soon after Ms. Boán created it, she
founded her own company, DanzAbierta, part of a wave of troupe-founding and creativity at that time. (That Ms.
Boán and many others of her generation
later left Cuba to pursue their artistic
ambitions is another reminder of the
The other is “Nosotros,” by Raúl
Reinoso, who will perform in it. He’s in
Acosta Danza, but until recently was a
member of Danza Contemporánea. Why
did he make the switch? Because, he explained over the phone from Havana,
Mr. Acosta immediately embraced him
as both a dancer and a choreographer.
Mr. Reinoso said he hadn’t initially considered “Nosotros,” an intimate duet he
created with his girlfriend, Beatriz
García Díaz, as a work for public consumption, but Mr. Acosta saw it, liked it
and put it into the repertory.
Mr. Reinoso, 26, also said that working with the European choreographers
whom Mr. Acosta had hired had been a
great education for him, giving him new
information and tools that he had already started to apply — exactly what
Mr. Acosta had in mind.
Mr. Spalding, who said that trips to
check on the progress of Acosta Danza
in Havana were “one of the great pleasures of my life,” believes that there is little risk of the company’s looking like
other repertory troupes.
“Because the dancers are extraordinary,” he said. “They have this joy in
dancing that communicates directly
with an audience. I haven’t really seen
anything like it.”
That’s the kind of thing that outsiders
are always saying about Cuban dancers.
As for Mr. Acosta, he stressed that his
project was still in a very early stage.
“This will take years to develop,” he
said, but so far the going has been less
tough than he expected. However mixed
his feelings about success might be, he
pursues his aspirations tenaciously.
Maybe the ambition that once pulled
him away from home can now help
transform it.
of the English National Ballet, has been
the subject of scrutiny over her relationship with a company dancer. And in
March, Kenneth Greve, the director of
the Finnish National Ballet, was removed from a managerial position after
accusations from dancers of inappropriate conduct.
But 87 percent of the respondents said
that the procedures to follow in the case
of harassment were not sufficiently
clear or private enough to encourage reporting such incidents.
Racism was not specifically addressed on the questionnaire, which had
queries about issues like artistic policy,
the quality of the cafeteria food and the
cleanliness of the bathrooms. (An overwhelming thumbs down on the last two
counts.) But two dancers mentioned the
frequency of casually racist remarks in
sections in which they were asked for
additional thoughts.
Issues of racism and diversity were
highlighted by Mr. Millepied during his
tenure, although Mr. Lissner denied
there was any prejudice in the company.
“We will of course reflect on the organization and the reason for these tensions,” he told Le Monde, adding that
Ms. Dupont had maintained “a high artistic level” and that subscription audiences had increased by 7 percent.
None of the dancers contacted for
comment would speak on the record.
Ms. Dupont did not respond to a request
for an interview.
Paris Opera Ballet dancers complain
Survey reveals members
fretting about harassment
and an absence of support
Sexual and verbal harassment. A lack of
support and care. Incompetence. These
are just some of the accusations leveled
at the Paris Opera Ballet management
and at the company’s artistic director,
Aurélie Dupont, in an anonymous internal questionnaire that has set off a furor
in the French media after being leaked
to journalists.
“The current director seems to have
no managerial competence, and no desire to acquire any,” and “We are no
longer children!” were among the blistering remarks.
Although the results were intended
for internal use, the 179-page document
was sent to members of the media soon
after being distributed to the company’s
154 dancers, 108 of whom had responded
to it.
After Le Figaro contacted the ballet
company for comment, the Paris Opera
issued a statement, signed by 99 dancers, stating that “the disclosure of this
questionnaire was without the consent
of the dancers” and that “it has been intentionally deployed to harm the institution and the dancers.”
The Paris Opera Ballet questionnaire
was produced by the company’s Committee for Artistic Expression — four
dancers elected by their peers each season with a mandate to act as a liaison between the dancers and the artistic director. Last week, after the initial media reports, the four, whose names have not
been made public, resigned from the
The level of dissatisfaction revealed
by the questionnaire is striking. Almost
90 percent answered no to the question,
“Do you feel you benefit from high-quality management?”
Most notably, 77 percent said they had
either been the object of verbal harassment or witnessed a colleague being
verbally harassed by Paris Opera staff,
while 26 percent reported being the victim of sexual harassment or witnessing
it at work.
These accusations come in a
tense climate for the ballet world.
From left, Stéphane Lissner, the director of the Paris Opera, and Aurélie Dupont, the
artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet, in 2016.
These accusations come in a tense climate for the ballet world, which has not
remained immune to the #MeToo movement. In December, Peter Martins retired from his position as ballet master
in chief of New York City Ballet following allegations of abuse and harassment; after an investigation, the
company said the accusations were not
corroborated. Tamara Rojo, the director
Stéphane Lissner, the director of the
Paris Opera, said in an interview with
Le Monde that he knew of three cases of
sexual harassment since Ms. Dupont
was appointed in 2016, after the resignation of Benjamin Millepied, the former
New York City Ballet principal whose attempts to modernize aspects of the
Paris Opera Ballet met with controversy
and widespread internal resistance.
Two of the harassment cases, Mr. Lissner said, had led to the perpetrators’ being fired, and a third was still being investigated. “There is zero tolerance,” he
MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2018 | 15
One prize can change everything
Lubaina Himid is using
her new clout to help other
artists of color be seen
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s in France,
or Oxford, or Karlsruhe, Germany: I
want galleries to acknowledge that all
around them are artists,” the British
painter Lubaina Himid said in a recent
telephone interview. “The best artists
don’t necessarily come from somewhere
In 2017, 30 years into her exhibiting
career, Ms. Himid won the Turner Prize,
Britain’s pre-eminent award for contemporary art. As the first black woman to
take the prize and, at age 63, the oldest
winner, she brought more press attention to the event than it had received in
This spring, Ms. Himid has four
shows opening around Europe, starting
with a retrospective at the MRAC museum for contemporary art in Sérignan,
France. Others will take place in Glasgow, Berlin and Gateshead, England. All
were programmed before the Turner
was announced, but Ms. Himid is now
using her enhanced clout to request that
galleries showing her work reach out to
black artists living and working nearby
and include them in events like talks and
debates that run with the exhibitions.
If curators say there are no black artists working in their region, as Ms.
Himid said they often do, she provides
them with names drawn from an extensive network she has built up over many
years. Ms. Himid wants to bring black
audiences into galleries and local artists
of color to the attention of curators.
“The Turner Prize changed all sorts of
things,” she said. “Now, if I say I want
Above, Lubaina Himid, who won the
Turner Prize last year, with a 1986 piece,
“A Fashionable Marriage.” Far left, “Freedom and Change,” from 1984, and left,
“Le Rôdeur: The Exchange,” from 2016.
“Now, if I say I want something,
people try and do it for me.”
something, people try and do it for me,
and that’s never happened to me in the
whole of my life.”
The requests Ms. Himid now makes of
the institutions showing her work are
part of a long-running mission to make
black histories available through archival research and to encourage arts institutions to value the work of women and
people of color. Her personal archive
laid the foundation for Making Histories
Visible, a research project based at the
University of Central Lancashire exploring the contribution of black visual
art to the cultural landscape.
Whether painted on canvas, newspaper, dinnerware or the wooden panels of
a piano, Ms. Himid’s work has an immediate, gripping appeal. Beyond her
paintings’ alluring colors and engaging
graphic qualities lie troubling questions: about the attitudes toward black
creativity; about the stereotyping of minorities even in the liberal media; about
British wealth derived from Caribbean
sugar. And they set the scene for conversations about what art is shown by the
world’s taste-making institutions, what
art is overlooked, and why.
Ms. Himid has long championed the
work of other artists. A leading figure in
the British Black Art Movement of the
1980s, she organized important group
exhibitions at public institutions in London.
The exhibition at Sérignan presents
works from eight series she has made
since the ’80s: All are talking points connected to Europe’s colonial past and
wealth derived from slavery. “,” a series of 85 paintings from 2002,
recalls an incident from the 1860s when
millworkers in northern England refused to process cotton grown in the
Confederate States. The patterned panels imagine coded communication between black slaves on American plantations and British textile workers.
As part of her participation in the
forthcoming Berlin Biennale, Ms. Himid
asked the organizers to translate into
could be difficult to discuss issues of
race and the country’s colonial legacy.
Ms. Eyene recalled that while she was
studying art history at the Sorbonne in
the 1990s, “There were no black professionals in museums. I knew very early
that there was little chance for me to get
a job in a museum.” She noted that she
still saw a tendency in France to favor
work by black artists from outside the
country over the work of French artists
of color. “In France, when institutions do
an African art exhibition, they will look
for artists based on the continent, or
perhaps in other countries,” she said.
“They’re not interested in bridging the
gap between the diaspora and the Africans from Africa.”
Two works on show in Sérignan refer
to the French context of the exhibition.
“Freedom and Change” (1984) borrows
its composition from a 1922 work in the
Picasso Museum in Paris — “Women
Running on the Beach (The Race)” — a
reference that in turn recalls Picasso’s
own borrowings from African art, which
commenced in 1907 with the painting
“Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.”
“Naming the Money” (2004), a throng
of 100 life-size figures, was inspired by
portraits of black slave servants who
were given as gifts to the king of France
by the king of Spain. Each figure bore a
sash stating his or her name and occupation: lute player, dog handler, dancer
and so forth. Lavishly dressed, they
were the glamorous face of exploited
black labor and exotic status symbols.
Gabi Ngcobo, the Berlin Biennale’s
curator, said that it was important to
look at Ms. Himid’s work in the global
context of creative practices giving
voice to shared history that remains hidden or untold: “It is here that black artists working in different parts of the
world can find a space in which they are
not marked by an otherness but rather
self-determination.” This year, the Biennale has borrowed its title from the Tina
Turner anthem “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” a call for “love and compassion” that Ms. Ngcobo said was reflected
in the determined but generous way Ms.
Himid has worked “as an artist, curator
and cultural activist: quietly, forcefully
whilst reaching out to many.”
Tawada is a great disciple of Kafka’s;
he “predicted reality,” she is fond of
saying. And while she shares certain of
his preoccupations — with otherness
and evoking animal life — hers is a
more prosaic mission: She mirrors
reality. Although her work is frequently
described as strange — which it is,
determinedly — there is always a stark
social critique at its core. “Memoirs of
a Polar Bear” is, after all, an immigrant novel and a stirring defense of
the human right to migration. “For
polar bears, national identity has always been a foreign concept,” she
writes in that novel. “It’s common for
them to get pregnant in Greenland,
give birth in Canada, then raise the
children in the Soviet Union. They
possess no nationality, no passport.
They never go into exile and cross
national borders without a visa.”
“The Emissary” is as bleak a portrait of contemporary Japan as you
could imagine. Tawada takes on the
graying of the population and the
trauma of the 2011 tsunami and the
ensuing radiation leakage at the
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power
plant. Hovering above all this, as always, is Tawada’s interest in the issue
of translation, but this time the gulf is
between what Susan Sontag called the
kingdom of the well and the kingdom
of the sick.
It’s quite a premise, but remains just
that. The book feints at a narrative and
at wrestling with the issues it raises —
about the temptations and dangers of
isolationism, the desire to imagine the
lives of others, and how the Fukushima
tragedy tapped into Japan’s history of
radiation poisoning going back to the
bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Tawada seems content to evoke
mood, to polish her sentences to a high
sheen. Her language has never been so
arresting. But as Virginia Woolf wrote,
novels are composed of paragraphs,
not sentences. “The Emissary” is
stalled there, at the level of a flickering
brilliance that never kindles into more.
From a writer with Tawada’s gifts,
mere beauty can be a disappointment.
Above left, “Man in a Shirt Drawer,” from 2017-18, and right, a portion of “Naming the Money,” a throng of 100 life-size standing figures from 2004.
German texts by the African-American
poet and activist Essex Hemphill, and
by Maud Sulter, a British artist and writer of Ghanaian and Scottish heritage. In
Sérignan, a region where more than half
the voters chose Marine Le Pen from the
far-right National Front in the second
round of the 2017 French presidential
elections, the gallery will host, at Ms.
Himid’s request, a conversation between Françoise Vergès, an academic
known for her work on the legacy of colonialism and slavery, and the FrenchCameroonian curator Christine Eyene.
(“It will be hard-hitting,” Ms. Himid
Ms. Eyene, artistic director of the International Biennial of Casablanca, Morocco, said in an interview that public
conversations like these were important, particularly in France, where it
A frail, futuristic, fictional Japan
The Emissary
By Yoko Tawada. Translated from the
Japanese by Margaret Mitsutani. 138 pp.
New Directions. $14.95.
On at least one occasion, the writer
Yoko Tawada has given a public presentation of her work by reading aloud
a poem written on a white glove.
Reaching the end of the text, she
pullsed the glove off her hand, turnsed
it inside out and read from the other
It was a moment of cultivated eccentricity, to be sure, but also something of
an artistic statement. To Tawada — the
acclaimed author of tender, screwy
parables about outsiderdom — we are
clad in language. It is a second skin; it
determines the limits of our perception.
Tawada writes in Japanese and
German, drifting between the two
languages, sometimes within the same
book. (She moved to Germany in 1982,
in her early 20s, and has lived there
since.) For her novel “The Naked Eye”
(2009), she began in German, switched
to Japanese and carried on, chapter by
chapter, in whatever language she felt
like. Then she translated the book into
both languages and sent it off to her
publishers in both countries.
Translation is an explicit theme in
her fiction. She often writes from the
point of view of animals, and takes a
Nabokovian delight in neologisms (my
favorites from her work: “stingword,”
“headtheater”). “When you learn a
language — as a child, or as a foreigner — you don’t just learn words
but also how to make them, you learn
the mechanism of the language, and
you can keep making new words,” she
told one interviewer. Tawada turns
sentence structures inside out, just like
that white glove. Every word feels
frisked, investigated down to its root.
Her new novel, “The Emissary,”
translated by Margaret Mitsutani, is a
contentedly minor work. It has a recessive, lunar beauty compared with the
sunny ambition and inventiveness of
its predecessors, including her masterpiece (with the self-explanatory title),
“The Bridegroom Was a Dog” (2012),
and “Memoirs of a Polar Bear” (2016),
which followed three generations of a
distinguished literary family of polar
The new book is set in Japan after
an unnamed disaster (nuclear fallout is
suggested). The country has quarantined itself from the rest of the world.
The only wild living things left are
spiders and crows. Language has
started to vanish, too. The shelf life of
words seems to have shortened; they
pass out of fashion quickly and aren’t
replaced. Men go through menopause.
Children are so enfeebled that heartsick pediatricians begin to kill themselves.
Only the elderly remain robust —
none more guiltily than Yoshiro, who is
Yoko Tawada.
raising his great-grandson, the impossibly, almost unbearably sweet Mumei,
who grows kinder and more tolerant as
his body wastes away. When Mumei’s
teeth begin to fall out, he reassures the
horrified Yoshiro, “Don’t worry, Greatgrandpa, sparrows get along fine without teeth.”
16 | MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2018
When a good night’s sleep needs some help
Gadgets and phone apps
can help jet-lagged travelers
get the rest they sorely need
Some of us have enough trouble sleeping in our beds at home, let alone while
traveling or changing time zones.
There are those who drift off by instructing their Amazon Alexa or Google
Home to play recordings of babbling
brooks and cicadas. Others listen to podcasts, like “Sleep With Me,” which tell
dull bedtime stories. Some watch
YouTube videos of people whispering or
performing mundane tasks, or listen to
electronic and ambient music, like the
British group Marconi Union’s “Weightless (Ambient Transmissions Vol. 2),”
which has been reported to induce deep
What might do the trick for you?
More smartphone apps are promising
solutions. They join the ranks of traditional white noise and sleep machines
with settings said to aid relaxation or alleviate jet lag. Yet such gadgets, even
so-called portable models that come
with their own cases, are clunkier and
more costly than apps. The Tranquil Moments Bedside Speaker & Sleep Sounds
from Brookstone, for instance, has a
dozen sounds (like ocean surf and rain);
is portable and more intuitive to use
than most sleep machines; has a nice
clear sound (the speaker can also pair
with your smartphone for when you
want to play your own music); and it can
be made loud enough to drown out noisy
neighbors, which not all devices, and especially not all apps, can do. Yet it’s
$99.99, about the size of a large softball,
and weighs approximately half a pound.
(If you’re in the market for a bedside
white noise machine, Wirecutter, the
gear-and-gadget recommendation site
that is part of The New York Times Company, recommends the LectroFan by
ASTI and the Marpac Dohm DS, each
about $49.95.)
For frequent travelers, such devices
aren’t practical solutions to take hither
and yon. And so instead they turn to free
white noise and meditation apps like
myNoise, Relax Melodies (among my
For some people, a relaxing destination by itself isn’t enough to guarantee a full night of sleep.
favorites, as it’s lovely to look at and allows for easy mixing of sounds like wind
and rain), Rain Rain Sleep Sounds,
White Noise Deep Sleep Sounds and
Calm. An app called Seasons from Logicworks is delightful, as you can choose
sounds — like spring peepers, a barbecue, leaf raking, and icicles dripping —
based on the four seasons.
For no money or a few dollars on
iTunes, you can download soothing music and nature sounds, and you need not
pack any extra gear. (If you find yourself
tiring of the free sounds, most of these
sorts of apps have a paid version with
additional tracks.) A travel colleague
recommends White Noise Plus, as well
as White Noise Ambience, from the
makers of the Seasons app. (Her favorite sleep sound? “Airplane cabin.”)
I’ve found a good method to involve a
combination of a gadget called SleepPhones, along with audio or videos of
soft background talking (which for me
seems to best mask other voices in hotel
hallways and on airplanes). SleepPhones are flat speakers in a soft, lightly
padded headband that allow side sleepers to avoid the dreaded in-ear pain from
earbuds. It’s designed to fit around your
forehead, though I like to position the
band so the speakers are over my ears
and the fabric lightly covers my eyes.
The options include a wireless version
($99.95) and a wired version ($39.95),
and both play any music, talk radio, or
white noise you have on your smartphone or computer. There are, as with
most products, downsides. Because the
speakers aren’t in your ear, the sound
has never been loud enough for me to
drown out noisy passengers on an airplane the way sound through earbuds
can. (This could also be a problem for
those who want to use SleepPhones to
tune out a vigorously snoring partner.)
And charging the wireless Bluetooth
version through its USB port is inele-
gant: You have to open the fabric headband to get at the wiring.
But that said, this little device causes
no ear pain and is as light and as small as
a sock, so there’s barely any added
weight or space in your luggage. Also,
while SleepPhones come with an app
that includes soothing sounds, you don’t
need it for the headphones to work.
That’s a relief: A number of sleep-related products have apps that are awkward to use and instruction booklets
that put you to sleep faster than the devices themselves.
Yet while sleeping away from home
can be challenging, when it comes to
managing jet lag, things get even
A handful of new apps purport to help
by adjusting your circadian rhythms.
Chronoshift says it uses the travel details you input to create the ideal sleepwake schedule for the days before your
particular trip (free). Uplift aims to fight
jet lag through a personalized regimen
that involves activating certain acupressure points ($9.99 a year).
The Illumy Sleep and Wake Mask by
Glo to Sleep ($149) uses an app and colored light panels pulsing at various
speeds to help encourage sleep (a slow,
red pulse to simulate a setting sun) or
wakefulness (faster, blue pulsing for a
gradually brightening morning sky).
The mask is controlled through a smartphone app (for instance, you can adjust
the duration of the simulated sunset and
the time you want to be awakened). And
it’s thick enough to block out light,
though this also makes it a bit heavy and
stiff — indeed, this side sleeper couldn’t
wear it. I did, however, find the slightly
weighty mask with its pulsing red light
somewhat comforting to begin to doze
off in on my back at the end of the day.
But then, I was tired at the end of the
day — so perhaps it simply felt good to
lie down? The company says its regimen of sunset and blue sky exposure
is like the system used to help astronauts in space keep their body clocks in
The Mayo Clinic recently offered
some sound advice on its website, explaining that in addition to modifying
your schedule before you depart, you
should stick to your destination’s schedule as soon as you leave home and once
you arrive, stay well hydrated by drinking liquids on the flight (note: go easy on
the alcohol and caffeine), and, if you’re
traveling fewer than eight time zones
away from home, use bright light to get
your body on the new schedule, like
morning light if you have traveled east,
and evening light if you have traveled
west. The division of sleep medicine at
Harvard Medical School has explained
how crucial light is to regulating our biological clocks.
Of course, the cheapest and least complicated way to tackle jet lag is to force
yourself to stay awake when it’s daytime
wherever you are, then end the day
tuckered out, so you’ll sleep most of the
More easily said than done.
A hotel for your little dog, too
Art Denver — were not available, nearly
three months after opening (both are
there now). The hiccups may have been
symptomatic of growing pains: Kimpton has opened upward of eight properties a year since International Hotels
Group acquired the brand in 2015.
From $329
Hotels that pretend to be dog friendly
yet charge extortionate fees are my literal pet peeve. Not so Kimpton, which is
perhaps the paw-friendliest chain.
Downtown Denver’s 200-room Kimpton
Hotel Born opened in August 2017, with
a Wild West-goes-modern aesthetic, and
when we checked in with our papillon,
Huckleberry, we were greeted with
peanut butter and molasses treats. That
was nearly where our pampering
ended, though, as some amenities the
hotel’s website promised — including
Tesla rides within a two- mile radius and
an art tour of the hotel’s collection curated by the Museum of Contemporary
Unbeatable. The hotel sits adjacent to
Denver’s dazzlingly revamped 1914 Union Station, so guests are within walking
distance of Tattered Cover Book Store;
the Cruise Room, a 1933 Art Deco time
warp of a bar modeled after the Queen
Mary; and Sassafras American Eatery
in the Highlands neighborhood, which
serves the best Southern breakfast I’ve
had west of Nashville.
Designed by the Colorado-based firm
Semple Brown Design, our King Deluxe
room (translation: standard category)
felt large at around 350 square feet, with
Frette linens, down bedding and a wood
and steel barn door sliding over the clos-
et. Our floor-to-ceiling windows overlooked the Beaux-Arts roofline of Union
Station and whisper-quiet Wewatta
Street; rooms with views of the Front
Range of the Rocky Mountains are available upon request. Not long after checkin, a hotel staffer brought up a faux-furtopped dog bed and lion head bowls for
Huckleberry, which he promptly ignored.
W W W. B R E G U E T. C O M
The most beautiful part of the room was
our bathroom, which had a backlit LED
mirror, quartz stone countertops and
gleaming fixtures by Waterworks. Toiletries were in eco-friendly full bottles
by Atelier Bloem — a brand created for
Kimpton by Matthew Malin and Andrew
Goetz — including shampoo scented like
oolong tea and geranium conditioner.
My two complaints: the shower’s water
pressure was abysmal, and there was no
Guests pay just a penny to visit to the
Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, a
block away. There’s a gym, a fleet of public loaner bikes, and yoga mats in each
room. Boulder-roasted Ozo Coffee
awaits in the lobby every morning; a
complimentary evening wine hour includes Colorado beers and appetizers
like smoked duck breast with dried fig.
Our in-room mini bar held Coloradan
items, like Avery Brewing Company
beer and Rocky Mountain Sunscreen.
Sign up for the free IHG Rewards Club
for free high-speed Wi-Fi.
The hotel’s first floor restaurant, Citizen
Rail, has an open kitchen where much of
the menu is cooked on a wood-fired grill.
Many guests take their drinks into the
quiet lobby to cozy up by the flickering
gas fireplace. We ordered room service,
and while the woman who delivered our
dinner was an absolute delight, a couple
of the items the kitchen sent up were
not. I suppose there’s a reason the expression is “now you’re cooking with
gas” — the “ember-melted” apples in
my apple crumble were still crunchy.
My Nightmoves cocktail — with rum,
Cynar, vermouth and black walnut bitters — tasted, frankly, like how acetone
smells (not great). But the bone-in
smoked short rib with tempura green
beans was excellent, and my french fries
arrived hot — an all-too-rare feat of hotel
room-service wizardry.
Reine de Naples Collection
in every woman is a queen
Despite its kinks, Kimpton Hotel Born is
a worthy stay in downtown Denver,
thanks to its locale, Instagrammable
collection of local art and inventive
amenities for both human and hound
The modern lobby, top, and a spacious room, above, at the Kimpton Hotel Born.
Kimpton Hotel Born; 1600 Wewatta
Street, Denver;
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