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International New York Times - 26 April 2018

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baits, and
Seoul bites
Privacy push
could make
tech leaders
Nicholas Eberstadt
E.U. data rules may put
small companies at even
more of a disadvantage
WASHINGTON When the government of
South Korea announced last week that
it would begin work on a formal peace
treaty with North Korea, to be discussed at a summit meeting on April
27, its so-called Sunshine Policy of
engagement gave way to P.T. Barnumstyle, a-sucker-born-every-minute
Fighting in the Korean War ended in
1953 with just an armistice, and South
Korean officials are calling for a “permanent peace.” But it is not merely
unrealistic to hope that Kim Jong-un,
the leader of the North, will offer the
South real and lasting peace; it is
If the past is any guide, the North
will offer the South unenforceable
verbiage. And if the South accepts a
phony peace ploy,
it will expose itself
If the past is
to more manipulaany guide,
tion by the governNorth Korea
ment in Pyongwill offer
yang — not only in
the South
its domestic poliunenforceable
tics, but potentially
also in its alliance
verbiage at this
with the United
week’s summit
Let’s begin with
the obvious. A
peace treaty between two countries is a legal document that requires one sovereign state
to recognize the other sovereign state’s
right to exist. (Think Camp David
accords of 1978, when Egypt agreed to
recognize Israel.) Yet North Korea
cannot commit to any such thing with
South Korea, not least because the
existential objective of its ruling family,
the Kims, has been to wipe the state of
South Korea off the face of the earth.
That goal was the reason for the
North’s surprise attack against the
South in June 1950 that triggered the
Korean War. And it has been the main
focus of North Korea’s external policy
since the 1953 cease-fire in that stillunfinished conflict. It is a central duty,
fused into the very identity of the state,
indelibly registered in Pyongyang’s
institutions and ideology.
The 1980 charter of the Workers’
Party of Korea, the ruling party, identified its “present task” as the “national
liberation and people’s democracy in
the entire area of the country” —
meaning, the whole of the Korean
Peninsula. North Korea’s Constitution
declares “reunification of the country”
to be “the supreme national task” and
instructs the government to “carry the
revolutionary cause of juche through to
The New York Times publishes opinion
from a wide range of perspectives in
hopes of promoting constructive debate
about consequential questions.
A temple where the police said a Muslim child was raped and strangled by Hindu men in Jammu and Kashmir. The motive, investigators said, was ethnic cleansing.
No thought for the victim
In village where child
was killed, people line up
behind the accused men
There was no empathy for the 8-yearold girl. It was as if she barely registered
as a human being, as if her life didn’t
count except to serve as a target.
Police investigators say a gang of
young Hindu men chose her specifically
to send a message that would terrorize
her community of Muslim nomads.
They stand accused of calculatedly kidnapping her from a meadow, stuffing
drugs down her throat and locking her
up for three days in a temple, where they
beat her, raped her and eventually
strangled her. She stood three and a half
feet tall, completely defenseless.
While protests have erupted in cities
across India and internationally, here in
Rasana, the village in Jammu and Kashmir State where the girl was killed in
January, the mood is different.
Rasana is tiny, about 20 homes, and
walking through it takes just five minutes: past the dry, scratchy wheat fields
that carry the whiff of cow manure, past
the little brick houses that sit half-hidden behind walls, and, finally, past a
small pink temple, now padlocked.
There seems to be little remorse or
sympathy here. Few people in the
mostly Hindu village are talking about
the inhumanity of the crime or the fact
that the girl’s traumatized parents have
fled. Barred from burying their daughter near their home, the family had to
take her body with them.
Instead, you hear things like: Our
land and their land. Us and them.
“This is all a big conspiracy to demoralize the Hindus,” said Bhagmal
Khajuria, an elder from a nearby village,
who insisted that the eight men arrested
in connection with the girl’s death had
been framed.
Who was behind this conspiracy, he
was asked? “The separatists,” he grumbled, referring to Muslims in another
part of this state, Jammu and Kashmir,
who want independence from India.
Many Indians had hoped that after
the last horrific rape case, in 2012, when
a young woman was fatally brutalized
on a bus in New Delhi, things would
change. But not much has.
Some laws have been tightened, and
the Indian government now wants to apply the death penalty for rapists of
young children. But rape conviction
rates are still low, and dozens of Indian
politicians accused of sexual abuse still
Defenders of the men accused of the fatal assault included dozens of Hindu women
who engaged in a hunger strike, saying they were ready to die. Several nearly did.
get elected. India remains so deeply divided along religious, ethnic and political lines that even a crime this awful
instantly gets politicized. Many scholars
blame the rise of the Hindu right, saying
it has established an open season on
Muslims, no matter where or how young
they are.
After the girl’s death, Prime Minister
The new Noma,
explained (mostly)
The second incarnation
of a rule-defying restaurant
raises a raft of questions
What is the “new Noma”?
It’s what the tasting-menu set calls the
compound in Copenhagen where the
chef René Redzepi recently transplanted the restaurant that invented
New Nordic cuisine. The original
Noma operated in a 1765 warehouse
for dried fish and whale oil on a city
pier from 2003 until February 2017.
The new Noma served its first
customers on Feb. 16, 2018.
The dishes at Noma are more tightly focused than the meals at its former location. Every
course on the current menu, through late spring, contains something from the ocean.
Y(1J85IC*KKNPKP( +&!z!$!#!_
online ticketing system opened, in
November, journalists, cooks, locals
and destination-restaurant pilgrims
from around the world had booked
every seat through the end of April.
This critic, not very quick on the draw,
failed to get a table, but a former colleague who has written about Noma
did, and offered a seat at his table.
Sporadically, the restaurant seems to
find additional space and puts new
tickets up for sale. More usefully, the
second batch of tickets, running
through the end of September, has not
quite sold out yet. A table for eight, in
particular, is up for grabs on many
Cameroon CFA 2700
Canada CAN$ 5.50
Croatia KN 22.00
Cyprus € 3.20
Czech Rep CZK 110
Denmark Dkr 30
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Estonia € 3.50
Finland € 3.50
France € 3.50
Gabon CFA 2700
Germany € 3.50
Will I be able to get a reservation?
The mailing address is Refshalevej 96,
1432 Copenhagen K, Denmark. More
generally, the new Noma is in the part
of the city called Christiana, where
fortified walls were built on landfill in
You might. Less than a day after its
Great Britain £ 2.20
Greece € 2.80
Hungary HUF 950
Israel NIS 13.50
Israel / Eilat NIS 11.50
Italy € 3.40
Ivory Coast CFA 2700
Jordan JD 2.00
Kazakhstan US$ 3.50
Latvia € 3.90
Lebanon LBP 5,000
Luxembourg € 3.50
Malta € 3.40
Montenegro € 3.40
Morocco MAD 30
Norway Nkr 33
Oman OMR 1.40
Poland Zl 15
Portugal € 3.50
Qatar QR 12.00
Republic of Ireland ¤ 3.40
Reunion € 3.50
Saudi Arabia SR 15.00
Senegal CFA 2700
Narendra Modi, whose party is rooted in
Hindu nationalism, drew heavy criticism for not speaking out quickly
enough to denounce the attack. Only after protests erupted, did he address this
case and another recent rape allegation,
saying, “Our daughters will definitely
get justice.” Officials in his party deny
Giving users more control over their
data doesn’t make them more cautious,
Eduardo Porter writes. PAGE 6
The authorities in a number of countries say the company is unfairly using
its leverage over consumers. PAGE 7
in Danger:
Solutions for a
Changing World
Where is it?
Andorra € 3.70
Antilles € 4.00
Austria € 3.50
Bahrain BD 1.40
Belgium € 3.50
Bos. & Herz. KM 5.50
In Europe and the United States, the
conventional wisdom is that regulation
is needed to force Silicon Valley’s digital
giants to respect people’s online privacy.
But new rules may instead serve to
strengthen Facebook’s and Google’s hegemony and extend their lead on the internet.
That could begin playing out next
month, when Europe enacts sweeping
new regulations that prioritize people’s
data privacy. The new laws, which require tech companies to ask for users’
consent for their data, are likely to hand
Google and Facebook an advantage.
That’s because wary consumers are
more prone to trust recognized names
with their information than unfamiliar
newcomers. And the laws may deter
start-ups that do not have the resources
to comply with the rules from competing
with the big companies.
In recent years, other regulatory attempts at strengthening online privacy
rules have had little effect at chipping
away at the power of the largest tech
companies, ultimately aiding internet
giants rather than hurting them.
“Regulations help incumbents,” said
Avi Goldfarb, a marketing professor at
the University of Toronto who has studied the effect of privacy regulations on
competition. Mr. Goldfarb was the coauthor of a 2013 report that said privacy
regulation could be anti-competitive because the cost of getting permission
from users for their data was typically
much higher for a younger company
than for an established one.
That Facebook and Google may
emerge stronger from all of this can
seem like a distant prospect. The Silicon
Valley companies have been under scrutiny for months for the way they collect
and use people’s data, with Facebook
reeling from revelations that the political research firm Cambridge Analytica
harvested the personal information of
up to 87 million of its users. That led Congress to drag Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, to Washington
this month for a grilling.
Google, too, has grappled with questions about its online video service
Serbia Din 280
Slovakia € 3.50
Slovenia € 3.40
Spain € 3.50
Sweden Skr 35
Switzerland CHF 4.80
Syria US$ 3.00
The Netherlands € 3.50
Tunisia Din 5.200
Turkey TL 11
U.A.E. AED 14.00
United States $ 4.00
United States Military
(Europe) $ 2.00
Issue Number
No. 42,026
September 16-18, 2018
Register to attend
THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 2018 | 3
Famed shopping street with no shoppers
Foreigners no longer come
for carpets and antiques, as
security steadily worsens
Every big city has at least one street
that’s a must-see for visitors: King’s
Road in London, Stary Arbat in Moscow,
Paseo del Prado in Madrid, Via Condotti
in Rome.
Kabul has Chicken Street.
Only two blocks long, this shabby lane
full of competing aromas, lined with
shops selling jewelry, antiques, knickknacks, artworks and, especially, Oriental rugs, has been a magnet for generations of foreign visitors looking for Afghan exotica. For decades, about the
only thing missing has been chickens.
Now it is also missing foreigners.
Customers of any sort are thin on the
ground. Most of the scores of shops have
zero patrons at any given moment. One
is unusual. Two is a crowd.
But foreign visitors, once Chicken
Street’s mainstay, are so rare that their
arrival creates a sensation. On some
days it’s so bad, even the beggars don’t
bother to come to work, and the touts
scarcely stir from their stoops.
As with so much in Kabul today, the
security situation is to blame.
A steady series of ever-worsening suicide bombings, including a recent one
close to Chicken Street; a lack of faith in
a corrupt police force; and rampant
crime have done to Chicken Street what
a Russian invasion, decades of civil war
and even urban combat could not do —
driven shoppers away.
Embassies and international organizations, most aid groups and foreign
contractors have banned their employees from shopping there, depriving
Chicken Street of that precious commodity — customers who bargain
poorly and pay dearly.
Herat Carpets is one of the street’s
most successful rug merchants, but
April 13 was the last day in Afghanistan
for the owner, Wahid Abdullah. He is
moving his main business to Istanbul.
Kabul Leather, left, on Chicken Street in Kabul, Afghanistan, sells furs and animal skins
— including what the shopkeeper claimed was a snow leopard pelt. Wahid Abdullah,
above, of Herat Carpets is moving his main business to Istanbul.
Deep in the back is a carpet-lined
staircase that leads to rooms
piled nearly to the ceiling with
Afghan handmade rugs.
“Security” was his one-word explanation.
From the outside, Herat Carpets looks
like a tiny, hole-in-the-wall place, but
deep in the back is a carpet-lined staircase, leading to a carpet-walled corridor,
leading to a series of windowless rooms
piled with stacks nearly to the ceiling of
Afghan handmade rugs of every description.
Mr. Abdullah serves his customers
green tea on an antique coffee table (old
maple inlaid with hammered metals of
several types), loaded with trays of pistachios, Afghan sweets, native raisins
(long and plump) and local almonds
(narrow and pointy).
Then he lays out carpets, pointing out
the abrash on one — the color shift
where a hand weaver had to dye a new
batch of yarn — or the rare shade of yellow given by dye from the weld flower
on another, or the hard-to-find imperfection on a third.
Only God can be perfect, he said, so
each Afghan rug has a mistake woven
into the pattern.
In some ways, Chicken Street hasn’t
changed. The range of merchandise remains eclectic, and sometimes disturbing. Snow leopard pelt? Hajji Abdul Razzaq showed off one in a padlocked storeroom under his shop, Kabul Leather —
only $500. Wolf? $200.
“No problem with customs,” he insisted. He also had for sale what he
called a stuffed cheetah, which he
claimed had come from Kandahar (Afghanistan, not Africa), an unlikely extension of its known range. Yes, problem
with customs.
Elsewhere, there are flintlock rifles
and camel saddlebags; kilims and suzanis; chain mail shirts and Tartar helmets. A 19th-century British ship’s sextant and brass telescope are offered for
$100 for both, which probably means
$50 will do.
“They’re fakes,” the shopkeeper
cheerfully explained. “But real brass.”
Almost anything can be found carved
from lapis lazuli, a semiprecious, deep
blue gemstone native to Afghanistan.
Globes of the world, tables, crockery,
necklaces of thousands of beads are all
typically sold by their weight in lapis,
$41 a pound to those in the know, often
no extra charge for workmanship.
Outside, the mouthwatering smell of
kebabs grilling over charcoal in long
metal trays on the sidewalks wafts
along the street, although nowadays it
mingles, probably more than ever, with
the odor of raw waste running down
open sewers.
When Chicken Street had its greatest
boom, in the years right after the American-led invasion in 2001, enterprising
developers tore down many of the little
two-story shops with their corrugated
metal awnings and replaced them with
multistoried emporiums, homes to doz-
ens of shops each. But they didn’t build
new sewers.
“The newly rich came and destroyed
Chicken Street,” Mr. Abdullah said.
That was not what drove Mr. Abdullah
to pull up stakes. “In the end, children
make the decision,” he said. He worried
about his own being snatched on the
way home from school. “It wasn’t even
the bombs so much. Worse than that
was the fear of kidnapping.”
Shukrullah Ahmadi, a jeweler,
learned the hard way about that.
He and his brother Noorullah had just
bought an expansive new building on
Chicken Street for half a million dollars,
with a secret covered passageway in the
back, leading to a rug and antique furniture shop down the street, which they
also owned. This way they could run
both shops, popping up in whichever
one had patrons.
Kidnappers abducted Noorullah Ahmadi at gunpoint, then sent Shukrullah
Ahmadi a video of his brother being tortured; they cut off Noorullah’s ear.
Shukrullah sold his family’s home to
raise the ransom money. When he met
the kidnappers, they were in police uniforms, their faces unmasked.
Shukrullah Ahmadi is still in business
— but more heavily armed, he said —
and unlike many of the Chicken Street
merchants, he is not worried about the
decline in customers. He still serves foreigners, often by visiting them in their
embassies and offices.
He has many Afghan regulars as well,
for stones like black diamonds, star sapphires, Afghan emeralds (poor quality
but cheap), jade and tourmaline.
“I’m happy about my business, but
worried about security,” he said.
Some local boosters have recently
proposed changing the name to Antiques Street; the word “antiques” is
similar in English and Dari, the dialect
of Persian spoken in Afghanistan.
“That is crazy idea,” said Mr. Ahmadi,
in fluent but slightly fractured English.
“Just one street you have any place is
Chicken Street. If you say Antiques
Street, it could be anywhere in world.”
Fatima Faizi contributed reporting.
Coal fouls Poland’s skies
The country breathes
some of the most polluted
air in the European Union
High atop the ski lift at Zar Mountain in
southern Poland, the villages below disappear. At first, they seem obscured by
morning fog. But the yellow haze does
not lift. It hangs heavily, the contrast
with the white snow making it clear that
something is off.
What is off is the air. Poland has some
the most polluted air in all of the European Union, and 33 of its 50 dirtiest cities. Not even mountain retreats are immune.
The problem is largely a result of the
country’s love affair with coal. As in villages elsewhere in Poland, most of the
homes below Zar Mountain are still
heated by coal. Some 19 million people
rely on coal for heat in winter. Eighty
percent of all the private homes in the
European Union that use coal are in Poland.
Coal is seen as a patriotic alternative
to Russian gas in this country, which
broke away from Soviet control three
decades ago and remains deeply suspicious of its neighbor to the east. Burning
coal is part of daily life.
Many street corners, near bus and
tram stops, feature containers known as
braziers that burn coke, a coal derivative that is chiefly carbon. On a recent
morning in Swietochlowice, to the north,
children threw in sticks and paper.
Outdated furnaces burn coal, too. Andrzej Machno, who lives in the small city
of Skawina, northeast of Zar Mountain,
has used the same furnace for more
than three decades. He has been waiting
for local government funding to change
to a newer, cleaner-burning model.
But it is not clear when the money will
arrive, or whether he will qualify.
“I think all the promises come with
elections,” Mr. Machno said. But once
the campaigns are over, he said, all the
grand ideas fade away.
In the meantime, the smog is everywhere.
Driving through small villages near
Rybnik, which is about two hours to the
northwest of the mountain and one of
the cities ranked as the European Union’s most polluted, smoke poured out of
the houses that hug the main road.
It was evening, but strangely bright
as smoke particles diffused the light
from street lamps, creating an eerie orange glow. “This doesn’t look right,” a fa-
Coal is seen as a patriotic
alternative to Russian gas.
ther said as he hurried past with his son,
his jacket pulled above his mouth.
In Krakow, with its majestic castle
looming over the old town, many of the
buildings are still equipped with furnaces that are decades old. At the beginning of the winter, coal deliverymen
make the rounds. But now so do eco-consultants for the local government, which
has undertaken one of the most ambitious projects in the country to wean
people off burning coal or wood.
The Krakow government has outlawed the use of the cheapest, most polluting coal, and by 2019, it aims to ban all
burning of coal and wood.
The government workers try to help
residents with the transition to cleaner
fuel and furnaces and guide them to
available funds to pay for it.
If the effort succeeds, it may provide a
model for other cities around the coun-
Municipal workers in Krakow visiting a resident to discuss improving her heating
system. Many buildings are still equipped with furnaces that are decades old.
try. Already it has cut the number of outdated furnaces to about 10,000, from
more than double that several years
Other municipalities, like Katowice,
about an hour’s drive west of Krakow,
are using drones to monitor household
emissions. But overall action by the national government of the Law and Justice party, which has long championed
the politically powerful coal industry,
has been lacking.
In December, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki used one of his first
speeches to announce plans to build two
new coal mines in Silesia, the industrial
region in southwest Poland.
Some 48,000 Poles are estimated to
die annually from illnesses related to
poor air quality.
Greenpeace estimated that 62 percent of Poland’s kindergartens are in
heavily polluted areas.
In response, the government announced that it would spend $8.8 billion
by 2028 to combat smog.
“We don’t want our children to associate winter with masks on their faces, but
with snow and sleds and snowmen,” Mr.
Morawiecki said.
As the toll mounts from the pollution
problem, especially for children, the
government is coming under greater
pressure, which includes the prospect of
fines for violating European Union
Industry and transportation are also
among big contributors to the smog. Poland is notorious for having the oldest
cars in the European Union, with the average age of the car 13 years.
A social movement has sprung up
across the country to combat pollution
and educate people, especially children.
A physiotherapist by profession,
Jolanta Sitarz-Wojcicka became an activist two years ago, when she had a
baby and realized that the air outside
was so bad she could not leave her home
without risking the health of her newborn.
She took up the cause in her hometown, Zakopane, to the southeast of the
mountain, and now it is her sole focus.
Winning the war on smog requires
changing habits deeply embedded in the
culture. She starts with educating
At a primary school in Nowe Bystre
near Zakopane, she showed the children
pictures of various kinds of trash and
asked them which can acceptably be
burned in a furnace.
“The smaller the village, the more interesting the responses,” she said. It is
not what they are taught, she said, but
what they see. And they often see people
burning anything that will burn.
Thanks to a grant from the European
Union, she can dedicate herself full time
to the cause. But she is worried.
If the situation does not improve in
the next few years, she said, she plans to
move to Sweden.
Carré H
Time, square like a Hermès scarf.
THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 2018 | 5
Doing his best to ignore Trump
Attorney general praises
president, while trying to
avoid provoking his ire
On an oven-hot day this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions strode into a
hotel ballroom to preach Trump-era immigration gospel to cowboy-hatted
sheriffs from 31 counties near the United
States’ border with Mexico.
“It is only reasonable that a good and
decent people, as the Americans are, to
want to end the illegality, to create a rational immigration flow and protect the
nation from criminals,” he said, rising a
bit on his toes behind the lectern as
about 100 attendees stood to applaud at
a joint meeting of the Texas Border
Sheriff’s Coalition and the Southwestern Border Sheriffs’ Coalition. He added, “A great nation cannot allow this lawless disgrace to continue.”
Javier Guerra, the police chief in Sunland Park, N.M., wanted more specifics
from Mr. Sessions. “I think everybody
felt he had to watch what he was saying
so he didn’t make the president look
bad,” Mr. Guerra said in a later phone interview, reflecting on Mr. Sessions’s
speech. “When you’re walking around
with an ax in back of your neck, you have
to be careful.”
Mr. Sessions has taken more abuse
from President Trump than any other
member of his high-churn cabinet because he recused himself from the Justice Department’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Over
14 months in office, Mr. Sessions has
gone from, in Mr. Trump’s words, “a
great protector of the people” to “weak,”
“disgraceful” and an “idiot.”
But Mr. Sessions is in many ways the
best attorney general Mr. Trump might
have hoped for. While the president rails
against him in Washington, Mr. Sessions
travels the country diligently pushing
the conservative Trump agenda. As a
former federal prosecutor who has a
firm grasp of the tools of his office and
the letter of the law, Mr. Sessions, 71, is
the creator and chief enforcer of the
tough immigration and criminal justice
goals that helped propel Mr. Trump into
Attorney General Jeff Sessions met in New Mexico with sheriffs on immigration enforcement. “I think everybody felt he had to watch what he was saying,” one police chief said.
And unlike several other members of
the Trump cabinet, Mr. Sessions has not
sullied the administration with headlines about first-class jet travel, exorbitant office furnishings, lobbyist-furnished housing — or all of the above.
When he is in Washington, Mr. Sessions
has a turkey sandwich from the Justice
Department cafeteria (base price:
$5.29) for lunch, which he eats at his
desk. When his team works late, he
hands out granola bars, which his wife
buys in bulk at Costco.
When meeting with the police, border
patrol officers and the victims of crime,
Mr. Sessions gives Mr. Trump all of the
credit for a law-and-order crackdown he
has put into effect with a speed that
thrills supporters and appalls critics.
With Mr. Trump, he has said, Americans
are getting “support for law enforcement like we haven’t seen in many
years.” He leaves out the fact that Mr.
Trump’s support does not extend to him.
A Republican former senator from
Alabama, Mr. Sessions was an early, fervent backer of Mr. Trump. But as attorney general, Mr. Sessions said it was his
legal duty to protect the Russia investigation, even if his boss would prefer that
Mr. Sessions protect him.
The president’s firing of James B.
Comey, the Federal Bureau of Investigation director who was in charge of the
Russia inquiry, led to the appointment of
Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel.
But Mr. Trump blames Mr. Sessions.
Mr. Sessions’s staff declined to make
him available for an interview for this
Mr. Sessions laid out his philosophy
for the sheriffs: “The United States of
America is not an idea — it’s a nationstate. We have a Constitution, we have
laws, we have borders,” and it is his job
to help protect them.
Mr. Sessions has lost no time. As the
opioid crisis continues to spread, he has
reversed the Obama Justice Department’s “smart on crime” initiative,
which encouraged prosecutors to seek
lighter penalties for nonviolent drug offenders. Instead, Mr. Sessions has instructed prosecutors to seek the harsh-
est possible sentences. He opposes
criminal justice overhaul efforts championed by Jared Kushner, the Koch
brothers and Republican former colleagues, including Senator Charles E.
Grassley, Republican of Iowa, who has
defended Mr. Sessions against Mr.
Trump’s attacks. Like Mr. Trump, Mr.
Sessions favors the death penalty for
certain drug kingpins.
Mr. Sessions has withdrawn Obama
administration guidance, known as the
Cole memo, discouraging prosecutors
from enforcing federal marijuana laws
in states that have legalized it. That
drew him into conflict with Senator Cory
Gardner, Republican of Colorado, which
legalized recreational marijuana in
2014. Mr. Gardner blocked confirmation
votes for some 20 Justice Department
appointees for months, backing down
only after a phone call from Mr. Trump
this month, assuring him that Colorado’s
marijuana industry would not be targeted.
It was Mr. Sessions who announced
Mr. Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
program, an Obama executive order
shielding from deportation immigrants
brought to the United States illegally as
children. He is suing the state of California over its sanctuary laws: “It cannot
be, as it seems to be today, that someone
who illegally crosses the border here on
a Monday and ends up in San Francisco
on Wednesday can never be deported,”
Mr. Sessions said in Las Cruces. “Even if
they were hauling dope to San Francisco
and they got arrested, they can’t be deported. Now, how illogical and insane,
really, is that?”
Unaccompanied children from Central America are flooding across the border, he warned, exploiting loopholes in
the law so that they “are not able to be
returned quickly,” Mr. Sessions said, citing arrests of juveniles accused of smuggling drugs. “I have ordered each
United States attorney’s office along the
southwest border to have a zero-tolerance policy toward illegal entry. Our
goal is to prosecute every case that is
brought to us. There must be consequences for illegal actions.”
Todd A. Cox, director of policy at the
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational
Fund Inc., said Mr. Sessions was ably
carrying out Mr. Trump’s plans. “He’s
put in place policies that will return us to
the discredited war on drugs, which had
catastrophic impacts on communities of
color,” Mr. Cox said in an interview. “He
is doing precisely what this administration has pledged to do.”
In Las Cruces, Mr. Sessions ended his
speech to the sheriffs with a favored
line: “We have your back. You have our
There is no such comfort for Mr. Sessions. Congress cannot stop Mr. Trump
from firing him, though Republican
leaders have warned that Mr. Trump
would pay a heavy political price if he
does. Potential replacements for Mr.
Sessions are, in the meantime, circling,
including Rudolph W. Giuliani, who
joined Mr. Trump’s legal team last week.
Kitty Bennett contributed research.
U.S. shifts tactics in battling ISIS
The United States-led air campaign to
hunt down the last pockets of Islamic
State militants in eastern Syria has effectively ground to a halt in the past two
months after the allies lost their most effective battleground partner, stalling a
critical phase of the offensive.
With Islamic State fighters now starting to claw back some of their lost territory in Syria, and with President Trump
threatening to withdraw American
troops there before finishing off the last
militants holding ground, commanders
have rushed to adopt new tactics to regain some momentum. (The president
subsequently dropped his demand for
an immediate withdrawal when commanders told him they needed time to
finish the mission successfully.)
The new approach includes stacking
several surveillance planes over two big
remaining pockets of fighters, patiently
watching the enemy’s every move for
days — and then striking only when it is
certain that the foes are really foes and
that the risk to civilians is low. The new
tactics have helped increase strikes in
eastern Syria to 23 last week compared
with only three in the week that ended
April 5, military officials said.
Of course, those figures pale in comparison with the nearly 400 strikes a
week during the height of the air war
last fall to seize Raqqa, the Islamic
State’s self-proclaimed headquarters.
But American officials say the latest attacks against bunkers, bomb factories
and headquarters show the air campaign’s ability to adjust to an unforeseen
setback that threatens to hand the Islamic State a lifeline just as the allies are
on the verge of wiping out the last havens for insurgents.
“The remaining numbers of ISIS
fighters is less of a concern for us than it
is the ability for them to stand up and
work as networks and work as an organization,” Col. Ryan Dillon, the spokesman for the American-led coalition, said
last week.
Throughout the monthslong air campaign, allied warplanes have relied
mainly on Syrian Kurdish militia to flush
insurgents out of their hide-outs or fortified fighting positions or to help pinpoint
their locations. That served up targets
for allied fighter-bombers. But those militia fighters started leaving eastern
Syria in late January to defend other
Kurds, in the country’s northwest,
against Turkish attacks.
“There really has been no gain of territory, significant gain of territory since
the departure of many of those fighters,”
Colonel Dillon said.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic
Forces were the mainstay in routing the
Islamic State from Raqqa and chasing
insurgents fleeing south along the Eu-
A fighter jet taking off from an American aircraft carrier last year. The number of
airstrikes against Islamic State havens in eastern Syria has increased in the past week.
phrates River Valley to the Iraqi border.
Without them, the remaining, less capable Syrian Arab militia fighters have
struggled to contain the few hundred
fighters left in two main areas: Hajin,
along the Euphrates River north of Abu
Kamal; and Dashisha, east of Deir alZour, along the Syria-Iraq border.
And it is an issue not only for the
United States and other Western air
forces. Using intelligence provided by
the coalition, Iraqi fighter jets on April
19 attacked Islamic State targets near
Hajin, Syria, that Iraqi and American officials said threatened Iraqi security just
across the border.
The strikes are the result of what the
military calls deliberate targeting (as
opposed to dynamic targeting in support of ground forces on the move attacking Islamic State positions). With
the insurgents hunkered down in the
two pockets, American and allied spy
planes have taken turns hovering over
the targets, chronicling what planners
call “pattern of life” movements.
Once planners have confirmed an enemy bunker or headquarters through
this lengthy observation, they wait for
opportunities to strike when they are
certain the risk to civilians is low.
“We have found opportunities and exploited ISIS weaknesses to conduct limited attacks,” Colonel Dillon said last
Still, allied airstrikes in Syria plummeted to 294 last month from 747 in February, and from 3,878 in March 2017.
The shifting tactics come at a time
when the Islamic State has been able to
reclaim some territory, particularly
west of the Euphrates River, in area controlled by the Syrian Army and its Russian military patrons.
The Islamic State is conducting more
attacks on the western side of the Euphrates, outside of Abu Kamal, against
forces aligned with the government of
President Bashar al-Assad of Syria,
American and other Western analysts
Largely because of these small gains,
Colonel Dillon said he and senior coalition commanders are now saying the coalition and its Syrian militia partners
have reclaimed more than 90 percent of
the territory the Islamic State captured
in Iraq and Syria in 2014, instead of the
98 percent figure officials had been using for weeks.
• An article on Tuesday about Campbell
Brown’s role as Facebook’s head of news
partnerships erroneously included a
reference to Palestinian actions as an
example of the sort of far-right conspiracy stories that have plagued Facebook.
In fact, Palestinian officials have acknowledged providing payments to the
families of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks on Israelis or con-
victed of terrorist acts and imprisoned
in Israel; that is not a conspiracy theory.
• An article on Monday about the reception of Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez,
Cuba’s new president, described incorrectly adjustments to immigration policy under the Obama administration.
President Barack Obama ended “wet
foot dry foot,” a rule that allowed Cubans
who arrived without visas to remain in
the United States. He did not end the Cuban adjustment act.
• An article on April 19 about budget airlines reinvigorating smaller airports on
the outskirts of major cities misstated
the distance between Seattle Tacoma International Airport and Paine Field.
They are about 37 miles apart, not 12.
Cape Cod
Time beyond time.
6 | THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 2018
The fallacy
that online
privacy is
up to you
Divisive push to ease U.S. bank rules
Regulators are at odds
on plan to weaken
post-crisis requirements
Bank regulators are on the cusp of
weakening a rule put in place to prevent
the biggest banks in America from causing another financial crisis, the first significant attempt by policymakers to fulfill President Trump’s promised regulatory rollback.
The effort is causing friction among
regulators, who broadly agree that
some post-crisis rules need to be revised
but disagree about how far Washington
should go in changing them. The debate
is expected to be the first of many, as financial regulators begin changing postcrisis rules through actions that do not
require congressional approval.
In recent weeks, federal banking regulators have proposed softening a requirement that puts a hard limit on how
much the largest banks can borrow. The
rule, known as the supplementary leverage ratio, requires that banks prepare
for a disaster by maintaining a certain
level of capital on their balance sheets
based on their total size.
Banks have long complained that the
rule is too restrictive and makes it harder for them to do business, including
lending, in important markets. They
have asserted that the ratio is too blunt
an instrument and often the strictest of
the various capital requirements that
were put in place after the crisis.
James P. Gorman, the chief executive
of Morgan Stanley, summed up this view
on a conference call last week, saying,
“Our constraint has been the leverage
Regulators appear ready to agree.
The Federal Reserve, along with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency,
has proposed changing the capital requirement to make it “more closely tailored to each firm.” That could wind up
lowering the amount of capital that big
banks must maintain.
The change was not supported by another bank regulator, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which is
currently headed by Martin J. Gruenberg, an Obama administration appointee. It also prompted a “no” vote from one
of the Fed’s three sitting governors, Lael
Brainard, also an Obama administration
appointee, who recently said it was too
soon to lower capital requirements for
the biggest banks.
“Some observers contend that current capital requirements are too onerous and are choking off credit,” Ms.
Brainard said last Thursday in a broad
speech about bank regulation. “But the
evidence suggests otherwise: U.S. bank
lending has been healthy over recent
years and profits are strong.”
Under the Fed’s proposed new
method, the Bank of America’s and
Goldman Sachs’s leverage ratio would
most likely drop to 4.25 percent from 5
percent of their assets and certain offbalance sheet holdings, while Wells Fargo’s might fall to 4 percent. Capital required for eight large banks under the
proposed leverage ratios is around $86
billion less than the amount demanded
at the 5 percent level, according to calculations by The New York Times.
The Fed said that capital held by the
banks would not fall much. That’s because a second set of capital requirements, based on assets’ riskiness, would
be set higher than the leverage ratio af-
Eduardo Porter
The New York Stock Exchange. Investment firms like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have long complained that rules adopted after the 2008 financial crisis have hurt them.
Randal K. Quarles, who heads bank supervision at the Federal Reserve, has spurred
the move to relax American regulations on the amount of capital banks must retain.
ter the changes. The Fed estimated a reduction of $9 billion across the eight
banks. That would be even smaller, once
the Fed’s annual tests of banks’ strength
were taken into account.
But as regulators adjust capital rules
in the coming months, the big banks are
expected to enjoy significant relief. Several proposed changes could free up
more than $50 billion of capital at large
banks, according to recent research by
Goldman Sachs, money that could in
theory be distributed to shareholders.
The changes are part of a push, spear-
headed by Randal K. Quarles, who oversees bank supervision at the Fed, to
ease some of the regulations that came
into effect after the financial crisis of
2008. The leverage ratio proposal builds
on ideas that were under discussion at
the Fed before Mr. Quarles’s confirmation as a Fed governor last year but go
beyond that approach. It is prompting
concern from those who view the leverage ratio as an important tool to help
protect the financial system by preventing banks from becoming overextended.
“The leverage ratio was a much better
predictor of financial health of banks going into the crisis,” said Sheila C. Bair,
who was head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation during the tumult
of 2008, and who does not support the
proposed changes.
The change most likely won’t lead to
an immediate weakening of the financial system. But, over time, if the financial industry keeps pressing for looser
regulations, and Washington obliges,
there is concern that the absence of a
strong leverage ratio could reduce confidence in the financial system, particularly in periods of stress.
The leverage ratio’s importance is revealed in how large banks finance themselves. They get most of the money they
need for lending and trading from two
main sources — they borrow it in markets or they raise it from depositors. But
an overreliance on those two sources
can leave a bank vulnerable to runs, because many of the creditors and depositors can demand the bank return their
money at short notice. That is why
banks must get some of their funding
from equity capital, which consists of retained profits and funds from shareholders, who cannot demand immediate repayment of their money.
Some capital rules allow banks to hold
less capital against an asset that is perceived by regulators to be less risky. The
weakness of this approach was revealed
in 2008 and during the European debt
crisis when supposedly safe assets
turned out to be dangerously risky. The
leverage ratio, by contrast, requires
banks to have a set amount of capital, regardless of the type of assets it holds.
Acknowledging the importance of the
leverage ratio, regulators increased it
for the largest banks four years ago. At
the higher ratio, the big banks had to
have capital equivalent to 5 percent of
their assets and certain off-balance
sheet holdings. Under the new rule, it
would decline significantly. The Fed and
the Comptroller want to set the ratio at 3
percent, and then add half of a capital
surcharge that is applied to eight large
United States banks because their operations pose a heightened risk to the
global financial system. (Daniel K. Tarullo, the Fed governor who previously
oversaw bank supervision, floated this
sort of change a year ago, but his suggestion would not have led to lower
leverage ratios for three banks and it
would have resulted in smaller reductions for the five others.)
Bank representatives say the leverage ratio has been a crude tool that has
not made the financial system safer.
“The best analogy is that it’s like having
the same speed limit for every road in
the country,” said Greg Baer, the president of the Clearing House Association,
which represents banks.
Supporters of the leverage ratio, however, say that it should be at least as important as the malleable capital requirements, to provide reliable protection in a
storm. “It’s important to have strong,
vigilant regulators but we shouldn’t put
all of our faith in them,” Gregg Gelzinis
of the left-leaning Center for American
Progress said. “We should have this capital requirement that is simple, transparent and doesn’t rely on expert determinations.”
No more free money for Finland’s unemployed
For more than a year, Finland has been
testing the proposition that the best way
to lift economic fortunes may be the simplest: Hand out money without rules or
restrictions on how people use it.
The experiment with so-called universal basic income has captured global
attention as a potentially promising way
to restore economic security at a time of
worry about inequality and automation.
Now, the experiment is ending. The
Finnish government has chosen not to
continue financing it past this year, a reflection of public discomfort with the
idea of dispensing government largess
free of requirements that its recipients
seek work.
Finland has actually reversed course
on that front this year, adopting rules
that threaten to cut benefits for jobless
people unless they actively look for
work or engage in job training.
“It’s a pity that it will end like this,”
said Olli Kangas, who oversees research
at Kela, a Finnish government agency
that administers many social welfare
programs and has played a leading role
in the basic-income experiment. “The
government has chosen to try a totally
different path. Basic income is unconditional. Now, they are pursuing conditionality.”
The demise of the project in Finland
does not signal an end of interest in the
Other trials are underway or being
explored in the San Francisco Bay Area,
the Canadian province of Ontario, the
Netherlands and Kenya.
In much of the world, the concept of
basic income retains appeal as a potential way to more justly spread the
bounty of global capitalism while cushioning workers against the threat of robots and artificial intelligence taking
their jobs.
But the Finnish government’s decision to halt the experiment at the end of
2018 highlights a challenge to basic income’s very conception. Many people in
Finland — and in other lands — chafe at
the idea of handing out cash without requiring that people work.
“There is a problem with young people lacking secondary education, and reports of those guys not seeking work,”
said Heikki Hiilamo, a professor of social policy at the University of Helsinki.
“There is a fear that with basic income
they would just stay at home and play
computer games.”
For centuries, thinkers across the
ideological spectrum have embraced
the notion of basic income. It has gained
favor with the social philosopher Thomas More, the laissez faire economist Milton Friedman and the civil rights leader
Martin Luther King Jr., an unusual diversity of support that has enhanced the
appeal of the idea as a modern solution
to economic anxiety in much of the
Silicon Valley technologists have suggested that basic income could enable
humanity to exploit the labor-saving
promise of robots without the fear of
mass unemployment.
Labor advocates have focused on basic income as a means of increasing bar-
A co-working office space in Finland. Public discomfort has grown in the country over
the idea of giving out government money without requiring recipients to seek work.
gaining power among workers, limiting
the pressure for people to accept poverty wages at dead-end jobs.
Other people have advanced basic income as a way of enabling parents to
spend more time with their children.
Finland’s goals have been modest and
pragmatic. The government hoped that
basic income would send more people
into the job market to revive a weak
Under Finland’s traditional unemployment program, those lacking jobs
are effectively discouraged from accept-
ing temporary positions or starting
businesses, because extra income risks
the loss of their benefits.
The basic income trial, which started
at the beginning of 2017 and will continue until the end of this year, has given
monthly stipends of 560 euros, or $685,
to a random sample of 2,000 unemployed people aged 25 to 58. Recipients
have been free to do as they wished —
create start-ups, pursue alternate jobs,
take classes — secure in the knowledge
that the stipends would continue regardless.
The Finnish government was keen to
see what people would do under such
circumstances. The data is expected to
be released next year, giving academics
a chance to analyze what has come of
the experiment.
In the meantime, Finland has already
moved on to consider a broader revamping of its social service programs. It is
studying a new form of social welfare
policy now in effect in Britain: so-called
universal credit, which rolls existing
government aid programs into one
monthly lump sum payment.
“The social security system is fragmented and has a lot of bureaucracy,”
said Liisa Heinamaki,who is overseeing
a project exploring ways to reorganize
that system. “Discussion about basic income is not over, but it is a part of the
larger discussion now.”
In Finland, where the social safety net
is generous, a structure like Britain’s
could yield the very thing basic income
is supposed to deliver: a guarantee that
every member of society can be assured
of sustenance and shelter.
This may be the main reason that basic income has lost momentum in Finland: It is effectively redundant.
Health care is furnished by the state.
University education is free. Jobless
people draw generous unemployment
benefits and have access to some of the
most effective training programs on
“In a sense,” said Mr. Hiilamo, the social policy professor, “Finland already
has basic income.”
Mari-Leena Kuosa contributed reporting from Helsinki, Finland.
Was Mark Zuckerberg pulling their
As Facebook’s co-founder and chief
executive parried questions from
members of the United States Congress about how the social network
would protect its users’ privacy, he
returned time and again to what probably sounded like an unimpeachable
By providing its users with greater
and more transparent controls over the
personal data they share and how it is
used for targeted advertising, he insisted, Facebook could empower them
to make their own call and decide how
much privacy they were willing to put
on the block.
He must be kidding.
As Mr. Zuckerberg surely knows,
providing a greater sense of control
over their personal data won’t make
Facebook users more cautious. It will
instead encourage them to share more.
This, of course, will produce more data
for Facebook to mine to its own financial advantage.
“Disingenuous is the adjective I had
in my mind,” said Alessandro Acquisti,
a leading expert on privacy-related
behavior at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, when I called to chat
about how Mr. Zuckerberg’s testimony
meshed with his research.
“Fifteen years ago it would have
been legitimate to propose this argument,” he added. “But it is no longer
legitimate to ignore the behavioral
problems and propose simply more
transparency and controls.”
Professor Acquisti and two colleagues, Laura Brandimarte and the
behavioral economist George
Loewenstein, pubcontrol
lished research on
settings give
this behavior nearly
people more
six years ago. “Prorope to hang
viding users of modern informationthemselves.
sharing technologies
Facebook has
with more granular
figured this
privacy controls may
lead them to share
more sensitive information with larger,
and possibly riskier, audiences,” they
The phenomenon even has a name:
the “control paradox.”
“Privacy control settings give people
more rope to hang themselves,” Professor Loewenstein told me. “Facebook
has figured this out, so they give you
incredibly granular controls.”
This paradox is hardly the only
psychological quirk for the social network to exploit. Consider default settings. Tons of research in behavioral
economics has found that people tend
to stick to the default setting of whatever is offered to them, even when
they could change it easily. This applies to the share of their paycheck
that will be deposited every month in a
retirement plan or to the amount of
personal information they will share
“Facebook is acutely aware of this,”
Professor Loewenstein told me. In
2005, its default settings shared most
profile fields with, at most, friends of
friends. Nothing was shared by default
with the full internet. By 2010, however, likes, name, gender, picture and a
lot of other things were shared with
everybody online. “Facebook changed
the defaults because it appreciated
their power,” Professor Loewenstein
It is time that Congress appreciates
it, too.
The question for members of Congress goes beyond how much Facebook and others may be exploiting our
inability to rationally assess the pros
and cons of sharing information —
profiting from the difficulty we have
measuring the immediate reward of
the cute puppy video against the more
distant risk of having our data sloshing
around the internet for years.
As we devote more of our lives to
online experiences, while offering data
about ourselves in exchange for information, entertainment or whatever, the
critical question is whether, given the
tools, we can be trusted to manage the
experience. The increasing body of
research into how we behave online
suggests not.
An experiment by Susan Athey of
Stanford University’s Graduate School
of Business, along with Christian Catalini and Catherine Tucker of the Sloan
School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found
THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 2018 | 9
Adventures in transgender fertility
A.G. SULZBERGER, Publisher
Joanne Spataro
DEAN BAQUET, Executive Editor
MARK THOMPSON, Chief Executive Officer
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STEPHEN DUNBAR-JOHNSON, President, International
TOM BODKIN, Creative Director
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SUZANNE DALEY, Associate Editor
ACHILLES TSALTAS, V.P., International Conferences
CHARLOTTE GORDON, V.P., International Consumer Marketing
JAMES BENNET, Editorial Page Editor
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A bipartisan
bill prescribes
when and
where force
can be used,
but the terms
are so broad
that they may
not limit
When President Trump bombed Syria recently, for the
second time in a little over a year, he did so, again,
without authorization from Congress and with no real
debate by lawmakers. That has been the pattern for
presidents since the forever war against terrorists
began after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Today, American troops are fighting extremist
groups in at least 14 countries, with most deployments
having occurred at the president’s sole discretion because Congress has given presidents a blank check to
wage war.
It’s time for Congress to step up to its responsibilities. Senator Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, has long
been pushing to do just that. Now Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican who leads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has joined Mr. Kaine in proposing
legislation to ensure that Congress takes more responsibility for deciding when to use force against terrorist
While we appreciate this bipartisan effort, the measure may actually give presidents more power to decide
when, where and against whom Americans can fight,
by approving existing military operations that began
without congressional approval, and by allowing presidents to expand that scope of action with only a minimal role by Congress.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee needs to
hold hearings to examine publicly how the measure
can be modified to ensure there is a more effective
congressional check on the president’s ability to begin
military operations so that the war on terrorists isn’t
used as cover to fight any enemy, anywhere.
During the Vietnam War, Congress tried to reclaim
some of its clout by passing the 1973 War Powers Act,
which mandated that if a president sent troops into
“hostilities,” they could stay only 60 to 90 days unless
Congress approved the deployment or extended the
time period. In recent years, executive branch lawyers
have concluded that presidents may act unilaterally if
they decide that a strike would be in the national interest and that it would fall short of an all-out war involving ground troops. Congress, reluctant to be held accountable for putting troops in danger, and wary of
challenging presidents, largely acquiesced.
That is until the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when Congress passed an Authorization for the Use of Military
Force to cover American-led operations against Al
Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. In 2002 it passed a second authorization, to cover the war in Iraq.
Although 17 years have passed since the attacks on the
United States, President Barack Obama and Mr.
Trump, defying credibility, kept using the same authorizations to justify operations against the Islamic State
and other groups that didn’t even exist in 2001 and to
legitimize operations in many other countries, including Yemen, the Philippines, Kenya, Eritrea and Niger.
Under the Kaine-Corker proposal, these 2001 and
2002 authorizations would be replaced with one that
approves the use of force not just against Al Qaeda and
the Taliban but also against six groups not in the 2001
authorization: the Islamic State, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the East African group Al Shabab, Al
Qaeda in Syria, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and
the Haqqani Network, which operates in Afghanistan
and Pakistan. It would also increase the countries
where force is authorized to include Syria, Yemen,
Somalia and Libya.
Significantly, a president in the future could add to
these lists more terrorist groups and “associated
forces” that are successors to existing terrorist groups
as well as other countries, and could carry out operations involving them just by informing Congress within
48 hours of acting. This new reporting requirement is a
step in the right direction. So is another one in the
legislation, mandating that every four years Congress
review the authorization and decide whether it should
be continued or modified.
But over all the bill’s provisions are too broad and
could bless military operations in perpetuity, not least
because Congress would be unlikely to muster the
two-thirds majority that would be needed to take away
or alter an authorization once it is enshrined in law or
is later added on by a president.
There is also the question of how this latest authorization could affect the War Powers Act, which, even if
often ignored, puts the burden on the president to justify force, not Congress, by giving him 60 days either to
secure congressional approval after initiating hostilities against a new enemy or to end the operation.
Bruce Ackerman, a Yale law professor, says the proposed authorization would effectively repeal the War
Powers Act and its protections for Congress’s warmaking role by taking away those presidential requirements.
Congress needs to be more involved in decisions
about when and where America fights terrorists. But
the Kaine-Corker bill would not make Congress take
enough responsibility for how those decisions are made
and would give presidents too great an ability to keep
spreading the war on terrorism.
Over the last several months, I’ve
spent evenings watching my fiancée,
Lara, inject herself with smaller and
smaller doses of estrogen. I’ve
watched her stand in front of a mirror,
singeing each hair out of her face with
a secondhand electrolysis machine.
The return of her testosterone hasn’t
resulted in just the resurgence of facial
hair; her pants now fit differently, too.
My own skin has been plagued by acne
since I got off the pill six months ago,
and my default states are angry, hungry or sleeping. Such are the perils of
trying to have a child the way Lara and
I are trying, without in vitro fertilization, or cryogenically frozen sperm.
The way fertile cisgender people do:
They simply couple up, and boom — a
child is born.
For many young trans people, the
question of having babies is likely the
last thing on their minds. Who could
blame them? Like all young people,
they’re figuring out their future, and
matters of diapers and breast-feeding
seem abstract and far off. But unlike all
young people, young trans people are
often making choices that have longterm consequences for their fertility.
Which is part of how I, a 32-year-old
cisgender lesbian, and Lara, my 33year-old trans fiancée, came to be in
the situation we’re in today: trying to
conceive a child, even though Lara
transitioned nearly four years ago.
I didn’t even realize I wanted biological kids until my mid-20s. Before then,
I’d vaguely imagined that children
would simply come to me, à la Auntie
Mame, or Diane Keaton in “Baby
Boom”: I’d inherit them from a longlost relative and simply slot them into
my independent, modern life. Little did
I know then that in just a few years, I’d
be staying up late to read studies in
which scientists combined the eggs of
two female rats to make a child, hoping
for 50 more years on the planet so that
I’d be around when they began testing
on humans.
Then I met Lara. On our first date,
she made my heart swell with her
kindness and her adventurousness. We
bonded over a mutual enthusiasm for
chocolate pecan pie. Over lukewarm
pimento cheese at a diner, she showed
me a picture of herself from a year
beforehand, before she’d begun transitioning. We shared a lingering first kiss
in the parking lot, and on the drive
home, while the Bee Gees’ “How Deep
Is Your Love” played on the radio, I
had a realization: If things worked out,
I could have a biological child with the
woman I love, as long as I had eggs
and she had the other half of the ingre-
dients. And she did — sort of. But it
hasn’t been straightforward.
In a recent study, a majority of trans
teenagers who received fertility counseling declined to take steps to preserve their own fertility before transitioning. Their reasons included cost,
discomfort with fertility preservation
measures — that is, freezing sperm or
eggs — and not
wanting to delay
I’m a lesbian.
hormone therapy.
My fiancée
Instead, 45.2 percent
is a trans
of the subjects said
they preferred to
We’re trying
adopt, and 21.9 percent stated they
to have a
didn’t want to have
baby the
Perhaps they
way. It’s
don’t. Small-scale
studies of transgender adults have
indicated that members of these communities may have
different and complex attitudes when it
comes to biological children and families than the broader population. But
other surveys of transgender adults
seem to point to the possibility that
with age comes a shifting attitude
about having children.
Not long after we met, Lara, who
transitioned at the wise old age of 30,
told me that with each year she takes
estrogen injections, her fertility de-
clines. Like many trans people, Lara
wasn’t interested in having children
when she transitioned. We got together
in May 2015; last fall, she told me it
was, essentially, now or never, as she
wanted her transition to continue
moving forward. By then, the thought
of not being able to have my own biological child could make me tear up in
front of my happily childless friends,
who encouraged me to try if it was
something I really wanted.
Here we are, over seven months
later: she’s off her hormones; I’m off
the pill; we’re engaged and enraged
from our respective hormonal shifts.
The early stages of this process make
me wish for more time; we didn’t
realize we wanted children together
until we fell in love. If we’d been clairvoyant on our first date, we would’ve
decided this over that plate of lukewarm pimento cheese. But we didn’t,
and after almost three years together,
this is probably our last chance.
When we started this process, Lara
said she was doing this for me. I’d tell
her no: I wanted us to wholeheartedly
do this together or not at all. But in
more private moments, she’d admit
that all she wanted was to have a child
together, a mixture of us two in human
form, like two kinds of sand blended in
a clear glass. A symbol of love who
could walk around, crack jokes, do
somersaults and go to college.
In my experience chatting with
friends and acquaintances in the trans
community, fertility preservation doesn’t come up often or explicitly, although
there are whispers: “We’re trying” is
something I’ve heard from couples in
which one or both members are trans.
But those discussions are not as out in
the open as talk about hormones and
surgical procedures; compared to such
topics, in fact, fertility is almost taboo.
It’s unrealistic to expect trans teenagers or even young trans adults to
know whether they want to have their
own children. They are eager to start
transitioning, a momentous, all-consuming next step in their lives, meant
to relieve what has been a painful fact
of life. Making the choice at the same
time to preserve their fertility seems to
demand foresight beyond their years.
But it’s for this reason we need to give
them that foresight, in a nonjudgmental yet forthright way. Counseling is a
great first step, but it’s not enough: in
an ideal world, the trans community,
and the L.G.B.T. community more
broadly, would be as comfortable discussing babies as it is discussing gender identity itself.
The truth is, some people know from
the beginning they never want kids.
But some, even those who thought
they were sure, can one day find themselves feeling differently, especially if
they meet someone they’d love to
blend genes with. These people can
then find that permanent decisions,
made early on, may have closed doors
before they even knew they wanted to
open them.
a humorist and writer working on a memoir.
Strike down Trump’s travel ban
Thomas H. Kean
John Danforth
Carter Phillips
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court was
scheduled to hear arguments on
whether President Trump’s nationalitybased travel ban may continue. The
case is important to every American
and, indeed, the integrity of the republic,
because the ban threatens a cornerstone of our system of government: the
constitutionally mandated separation of
All presidents push the limits of the
separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches.
President Trump’s travel ban tears the
The legal question before the court is
this: Does a president have the authority to ban immigration and travel, based
on nationality, in ways that contradict
limits set by Congress?
The framers and ratifiers of the Constitution have answered that question.
They revolted against the autocracy of a
king whose offenses, as cataloged in the
Declaration of Independence, included
restricting “migrations” and “obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners.” This mattered because, as
James Madison told the Constitutional
Convention, “America was indebted to
emigration for her settlement and prosperity.” Accordingly, Article I of the
Constitution gives the power over immigration and travel to America by foreigners to Congress, not to the president.
President Trump’s unilateral executive order restricting travel from seven
nations, five of them predominantly
Muslim, shows how far the presidency
has strayed from the role the founders
envisioned. One reason is that Congress
is deliberative and often divided, while
presidents frequently act decisively.
Over time, presidents have assumed
more and more unilateral power over
immigration and travel by foreigners.
This is part of a larger pattern, and a
larger problem. Presidents have asserted unilateral authority over many
other areas where Article I also expressly gave the power to Congress —
including tariffs, commerce and starting wars. Some in Congress may be
quietly contented with this pattern. The
more presidents do unilaterally, the
fewer votes that members of Congress
need to cast that may be fodder for
political opposition.
It isn’t, though, the system our Constitution established. And it is the Supreme
Court’s responsibility to uphold that
system. The Trump administration
argues that its travel ban is lawful because Congress has given the president
the power to ban any nationality or all
foreigners for any reason, for as long as
he sees fit. Under that thinking, a president in effect would have a line-item
veto over the immigration statutes with
which he disagrees. But the Supreme
Court decided 20 years ago that lineitem vetoes violate the separation of
The separation of powers is not about
the wisdom or popularity of any president or policy but speaks to the very
foundations of our republic. As Alexander Hamilton warned in the first Federalist Paper: “Of those men who have
overturned the liberties of republics, the
greatest number have begun their
career by paying obsequious court to
the people; comThe president mencing demagogues, and ending
has violated
the U.S.
As George WashConstitution’s
ington cautioned in
his Farewell Address,
violating the separaof separation
tion of powers “is the
of powers.
customary weapon
by which free governments are destroyed.” He added, “The precedent
must always greatly overbalance in
permanent evil any partial or transient
benefit.” The court must be vigilant
against permitting any violation of
separation of powers, regardless of the
practical justifications that are offered
in any given instance.
The Trump administration asserts in
its opening brief that separation of
powers is at its “nadir” when foreign
affairs and national security are invoked. This argument reprises the
justification for the infamous Alien Act
of 1798 that allowed the president to
remove any alien that he determined
was dangerous to the country. James
Madison showed that the Alien Act
violated the separation of powers, and
President John Adams never enforced
President Trump’s travel ban is far
broader than that act. He is claiming the
power to make immigration and foreign
travel laws, but the Constitution grants
that power to Congress. Congress cannot give any president the power to
dismantle our immigration statutes.
We have joined in an amicus brief
asking the Supreme Court to restore the
separation of powers and place limits on
Mr. Trump’s assertion of unilateral
executive power. In 1965, 2002 and 2015,
Congress addressed the appropriate
requirements for immigration and
travel by citizens of numerous countries, including the very countries later
included in Mr. Trump’s travel ban. Each
time, Congress rejected the kind of
nationality ban Mr. Trump has now
Mr. Trump has every right to propose
that Congress change the law. After 15
months in office, he has had ample time
to try to persuade Congress to adopt his
travel ban. Yet he has not proposed to
Congress anything like that ban. The
Supreme Court should embrace the
coequal footing our founders gave it,
restore the separation of powers and
end the president’s unilateral nationality ban.
was the Republican
governor of New Jersey from 1982 to
1990 and chairman of the 9/11 Commission. JOHN DANFORTH was a Republican
senator from Missouri from 1976 to
1995 and an ambassador to the United
Nations. CARTER PHILLIPS is a lawyer
who has argued 84 cases before the
Supreme Court.
A protest against the revised travel ban in Washington last year.
THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 2018 | 11
on ‘getting
the memo’
In Milan, a Prada tower
The Rem Koolhaas design
completes the construction
of the large arts complex
Every week Vanessa Friedman, The
Times’s fashion director, answers a
reader’s fashion-related question in the
Open Thread newsletter at You can send her a
question at
or via Twitter: @vvfriedman. Questions
are edited and condensed.
“Milan is a very harsh and impenetrable
city, but behind closed doors there are
unbelievable creative things, which is
the point of making a public place like
this that brings that creativity into the
light,” the architect Rem Koolhaas said
of his zigzagging new tower at the Prada
Foundation, which opened during Salone del Mobile last week.
The nine-story tower completes Koolhaas’s plans for the 200,000-square-foot
site, the largest arts destination in the
city, after three years of construction. It
vastly expands the foundation’s already-extensive exhibition spaces with
new galleries reserved for Miuccia
Prada’s private collection of contemporary art, and adds a new restaurant and
roof-deck bar to the premises.
In a two-decade collaboration with
Prada, Koolhaas and his Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) firm have
designed foreign headquarters, flagship
stores, catwalks and even backpacks,
but in his vision, the Prada Foundation
is unique as a socially minded project. In
a rundown southern precinct of Milan,
the foundation, which was inaugurated
Dries Van Noten often creates his own
prints. A style from his fall 2018 show.
An installation by Carsten Höller, left, and another by Damien Hirst, top, are displayed
in some of the galleries of the new Prada Foundation tower, above, in Milan. The building was opened last week during the Salone del Mobile fair.
in 2015, is a remarkable, OMA-designed
oasis of the arts comprising refurbished
1910 distillery warehouses along with a
modern, mirrored cinema and a gallery
paneled in foamed aluminum.
Koolhaas’s new, 200-foot-tall milkwhite concrete tower — ground was broken for it when the other buildings were
almost finished — rises from the far corner of the campus, and looms over the
low-lying surrounding neighborhood.
Serrated from one point of view but
straight from another, the tower constantly shape-shifts according to the
viewer’s perspective. It’s what Koolhaas
calls an “unstable” form, a term he has
used to describe many of his buildings.
The interiors fluctuate as well. They
are, as the OMA architect Federico
Pompignoli put it, “white cube galleries
in revolt against the monotony of the
typical white cube.” The open-plan ex-
hibition spaces alternate on each floor,
with rooms that are either slim tapered
wedges or wider rectangles constructed
with cantilevered additions that offer
vertiginous views over the street below.
Instead of the traditional stark-white
walls typically found in galleries, the
building features travertine stone floors
that contrast against opaline concrete
masonry and rough wood. Floor-to-ceiling windows switch directions on each
floor, offering different perspectives of
the cityscape, and each level grows a
few feet taller than the last — a changing
plan designed to encourage changing
exhibitions. At the opening on April 19,
large-scale works by Carla Accardi,
John Baldessari and Carsten Höller —
as well as other artists who figure
prominently in Prada’s collection —
were on view.
Along its blank core wall, which is
gripped by a colossal support tube that
keeps the narrow building upright, is a
glass-framed elevator, large enough to
hold 70 people. It climbs the exterior,
with views overlooking the corn and rice
fields of Milan’s rural outskirts.
From the precipitous outdoor terrace
of the restaurant, or on the dizzyingly
open-to-the-skies rooftop bar, all of Milan spreads out in front of observers —
each of the city’s landmarks dwarfed by
the jagged snow-capped Alps hulking
along the northern horizon beyond the
metropolis. As Koolhaas puts it: “As
soon as you rise from the ground, everything changes — the city becomes a
I have noticed that every season
there are not only emerging trends
from ready-to-wear fashion shows,
but similarities in motifs and fabric
construction. Sometimes it looks as if
fashion houses “read the same
memo.” I am in the interiors industry,
and there we have the same situation, which is caused by the influence
of fabric mills and production economies. Is this also true in fashion? —
Jennifer, Dallas
Indeed it is. If you want to know, for
example, why you are about to see all
sorts of plaid and tartan in shops, or
why next fall it’s going to be all about
silver Mylar separates (I kid you not)
— the first place you should look is the
fabric fairs.
Specifically Pitti Immagine Filati in
Florence, MilanoUnica in Milan, and
Première Vision in Paris. Pretty much
every designer — or at least a member
of a design team at a big brand —
attends them. And when they do, they
all see the same things. And not just
fabrics, but also trend presentations
aimed at helping them sense what’s in
the wind (People will want to cocoon!
They will be thinking about the space
age!). Designers actually have to
choose their fabrics, or start experimenting with them, a season before
the season when they actually start
creating. So if you do the math, that’s
at least a year before the clothes actually get sold.
There are exceptions, of course —
Dries Van Noten often designs all of
his own prints; companies like Zegna
actually began as manufacturers and
still make fabrics for other brands —
but for many smaller brands especially, who don’t have the corporate
muscle or means to do this, it’s the
mills that set the tone.
I know everyone says trends are
about X movie or X museum show, and
the cultural ethos is a part of it, but it’s
honestly a lot less highfalutin’ than all
Basketball players suit up
Thom Browne turned
an N.B.A. playoff entrance
into a runway show
Members of the Cleveland Cavaliers
basketball team, with an assist from a
New York-based designer, made their
first big play last week just by entering
the arena. As they paraded into Bankers
Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind., before Game 3 of their playoff series with
the Indiana Pacers, the Cavaliers wore
coordinated ensembles: made-to-measure suits, ties, shoes, bags and eyewear
by Thom Browne.
The scheme was hatched a while ago
by Dwyane Wade and Browne, then
kept alive by LeBron James after Wade
was traded back to the Miami Heat in
“All of us suiting up together was just
a new idea and something we all wanted
to try,” James, a four-time winner of the
league’s Most Valuable Player Award,
wrote in an email.
For players at the top of the professional basketball food chain, just showing up has become an opportunity to
preen. No matter that the corridors may
be lined with trash cans. The walk from
the team bus to the locker room is a runway, with attendant paparazzi.
“It’s become a way to one-up each
other,” said Calyann Barnett, a stylist
who works with players like Wade and
the New Orleans Pelicans’ Rajon Rondo.
“It’s become almost like high school.
Who’s going to have on the best outfit?
Everyone’s going for that Best Dressed.
Now, what is Best Dressed? It’s as many
labels as you can throw on.”
The Cavaliers intend to wear the suits
for away games for the remainder of the
postseason — however long that may
last for the team.
“We have the same outfit on every
night when we warm up,” James wrote.
“Dressing the same isn’t special. Being
in a designed suit by a master craftsman
is truly special.”
So is a sense of off-court unity. “We haven’t seen this before,” said Brennan
Rabb, a stylist who works with James.
“There’s a deeper message about unison.” That message is especially important to the Cavs, given their roster
shake-up in February and rumors of
James's possible departure in the offseason. For now, though, the team is focused on trying to reach the league finals for the fourth consecutive year.
(The first-round series was tied at two
games apiece, with Game 5 scheduled
Wednesday night.)
Usually, the outfits and accessories
worn by players off the court — versus
the standard uniform on it — have emphasized the individual, rather than the
team. “There are a lot of basketball fans
who root for players and not necessarily
for teams,” said Juliet Litman, the managing editor of The Ringer, a sports and
pop culture website.
Fashion allows certain players — like
Wade, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook and Golden State’s Kevin Durant
— to distinguish themselves. Westbrook, who translated his stylishness
into a collection for Barneys New York,
has put out a book of his collected outfits
and inspirations.
“It’s so much easier to feel like you
know a basketball player than it is to feel
like you know a baseball player,” Litman
said. “In concert with the league and
through their own brute force, they have
carved out a niche where they are legit
celebrities and they are their own
The modern era of the label-flexing
player began with the institution of the
N.B.A. dress code in 2005, widely seen
as an attempt by David Stern, then the
commissioner, to curb styles like baggy
jeans and do-rags that were worn by
players like the former Philadelphia
76er Allen Iverson. The code mandated
“business casual.” But the rules are
broadly interpreted, and the league has
issued a few warnings to players who
pushed the limit this season.
Today’s superstars, multimillionaires
enjoying their bounties, have cultivated
a taste for the finer things: wine, cars,
jewelry, luxury fashion. Once hobbies
like these occupied the off-season. Now,
the lines blur. Courtside at fashion week,
front row at the arena — what’s the difference, really?
“Expressing myself through fashion
is such an important part of my N.B.A.
experience,” James said. “It’s really another way to have fun and experience
“It definitely creates a feeling
like we are one.”
J.R. Smith, left, was among the Cleveland Cavaliers players wearing Thom Browne.
my love for the game. I love mixing it up
with my shoes on the court, sometimes
at the podium post game. And of course
there is the walk into the game. Using
the tunnel walk to express yourself, say
what you’re feeling — that is a very cool
change my generation brought to the
Blogs and websites have chronicled
every four-figure Amiri shredded jean,
Saint Laurent jacket and Off-White
sneaker — a de facto uniform if not a
codified one. DM Fashion Book feverishly tracks every appearance; even
ESPN occasionally joins the fray.
For his Cavaliers project, Browne said
in an interview, he wanted to emphasize
not the individual player but the collective unity of the team.
James and Wade already counted
themselves among his fans and clients,
and his tailoring, introduced in the early
2000s, helped redefine the silhouette of
fashionable suits for a generation, not
least by hiking up the pants to high-water, ankle-baring heights. In their
matching gray suits, cardigans and high
trousers, the players entering the arena
April 20 looking freshly imported from
one of Browne's typically Kabuki Paris
runway shows. (The headlines write
themselves: “Cavs Debut Calves.”)
James said he was grateful to Wade,
whom he called one of the N.B.A.’s “most
important fashion innovators,” for passing along the project before he returned
to the Heat.
“It represents all of it — camaraderie,
solidarity, brotherhood,” James wrote in
his email. “It definitely creates a feeling
like we are one and in this together.”
Browne began a discussion with
Wade last fall at the Fashion Group International Night of Stars awards,
where Wade presented him with an
award. “Wouldn’t it be interesting if they
all wore tailoring, and tailoring in a very
uniform way, to really show the strength
in a uniform?” Browne said of the discussion.
Browne knows whereof he speaks. As
a swimmer at Notre Dame, he was required to wear a navy jacket and gray
trousers to meets and, as an adult, hews
closely to his standard wardrobe of his
own gray suits (with long pants in the
winter, shorts in the summer).
“I wanted to represent the team as a
strong unit,” he said. “It’s not a fashion
thing for me — it’s more of a cultural image.” A company spokeswoman said
Browne did not pay the team to wear the
suits as a promotional agreement,
though she declined to go into further
Browne, who follows the Heat and the
Cavs and who grew up on the 76ers and
Michael Jordan-era Bulls, said he would
be watching — from Hong Kong, where
he was to be on business.
“These guys represent so much to so
many people, especially young kids,” he
said. “They look up to these guys to see
what they can aspire to. And they represent working hard to be really good at
what they do. That’s ultimately what everyone is going to see.”
12 | THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 2018
Choosing a different path to the N.B.A.
Griffin said he supported Bazley’s decision, but also believes he would be better prepared for the N.B.A. with a year
at Syracuse under his belt. He said Syracuse will have a deep and experienced
team next year, and Bazley would not
have felt pressure to carry the squad.
One of Bazley’s would-be teammates,
Jalen Carey, a 6-foot-3 guard from Montclair, N.J., said he had been stunned by
the decision. “I hope his plan works,”
Carey said. “But he’s going to miss
something big.”
Still, no one, certainly not Griffin, disputes Bazley’s talent and his reputation
for unselfish play.
A consensus top-20 player in the 2018
class, Bazley averaged 17.6 points, 11.5
rebounds and 3.6 assists for Princeton.
In the high-school all-star game, he
scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Can he do that next year against bigger, stronger adults?
“I’m not going to say it’s more physical than the N.B.A., but I just feel like it’s
tough in the G League because everybody is trying to get to the next level,”
said Fuquan Edwin, a 26-year-old from
Paterson, N.J., who plays for the Toronto
Raptors’ development affiliate.
And yet, while it’s unclear whether
Bazley will be able to hold his own physically next season, that may not matter
all that much. As Steve Wright, Bazley’s
high school coach, pointed out, “the
N.B.A. drafts off potential.”
Wright noted that the Los Angeles
Lakers chose forward Brandon Ingram
with the No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft. Ingram, who attended Duke, is 6-foot-9,
190 pounds, and despite his thin frame
has averaged 12.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Wright said over time
Bazley will get stronger, more physical
and more mature, “but it’s not going to
happen overnight.”
At the very least, Bazley will serve as
something of a guinea pig for other high
school players who might not want to go
to college or head overseas to play professionally, and would prefer to play professionally at home.
“If he’s very successful with it, then a
lot more other people are going to start
doing it,” Edwin said.
Top high school prospect
will skip college and go to
pro development league
Darius Bazley is a long, skilled, athletic
forward with a soft touch who, until a
month ago, was expected to be one of the
best freshmen in college basketball next
season. A senior at Princeton High
School in Cincinnati, Bazley signed a letter of intent last summer to play for
Coach Jim Boeheim at Syracuse University.
But by the time the McDonald’s AllAmerican Game rolled around on March
28, Bazley, 17, was reconsidering his options. And the day after the game, Bazley stunned many observers by announcing he would forgo college and
head directly to the N.B.A.’s development league.
Several top high school players have
opted to skip college and play professionally overseas since the N.B.A. implemented its so-called one-and-done
rule in 2006, which requires prospects to
be 19 years old and a year removed from
high school to enter the draft. However,
Bazley will be the first since Latavious
Williams in 2009 to head straight to the
development league, which announced
last week that it would raise salaries to
$35,000 next season, from $26,000. Bazley had foreshadowed his plan before
the all-star game, saying that since
coaches had told him he’d be ready for
the N.B.A. after one year of college, he
felt tempted to skip another year of
school altogether.
“My ultimate goal is to play professional basketball, so going that route,
that would be great for me,” he said.
There may be more Bazleys in the offing. Mark Emmert, the president of the
N.C.A.A., has made it clear that he is no
fan of the one-and-done rule. He would
prefer that college basketball players
stay in school for more than a single
year once they commit to attending, but
he would also like the N.B.A. and the
N.F.L. to enhance opportunities for top
prospects to develop outside of college.
The one-and done rule is not expected
to change anytime soon, and Bazley is
already making plans for a pro career.
Darius Bazley shooting during a high school all-star game this month. He has decided to avoid both the so-called one-and-done college route and the option to play in Europe.
He has hired an agent: Rich Paul of
Klutch Sports, a fellow Ohioan who represents the N.B.A. stars LeBron James,
Ben Simmons and J.R. Smith. Paul declined to comment for this story, and Bazley’s mother, Lynnita Bazley, declined
to make him available as well.
Since Bazley made his announcement, many in the basketball world
have questioned the decision. Some
velopment league, known as the G
League, for at least two years. “He’s got
a chance to be an N.B.A. player some
day, but given what I know about the G
League, this is probably not the route I
would’ve chosen,” said Fraschilla, who
compared Bazley to a hard-throwing
high school baseball pitcher who gets
drafted and then stashed in the minor
Allen Griffin, the Syracuse assistant
who recruited Bazley, was at the airport
in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., when Bazley
called him the day after the all-star
game to inform him of his new plan. Bazley also texted Boeheim.
“He’s been thinking about it for a couple of weeks and he thinks that’s the best
route for him and his family,” Griffin said
in a phone interview last week.
Matthew Futterman contributed reporting.
No. 2604
Created by Peter Ritmeester/Presented by Will Shortz
(c) Distributed by The New York Times syndicate
doubt that Bazley, who is 6-foot-9 and
210 pounds, will be able to compete with
grown men in the development league,
and others wonder whether this latest
move will trigger a trend among future
prospects, especially with the league’s
salaries set to rise 35 percent.
Fran Fraschilla, the ESPN basketball
analyst and former college coach, predicted that Bazley would play in the de-
Fill the grid so
that every row,
column 3x3 box
and shaded 3x3
box contains
each of the
1 to 9 exactly
For solving tips
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No. 2504
CROSSWORD | Edited by Will Shortz
Fill the grids with digits so as not
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column, and so that the digits
within each heavily outlined box
will produce the target number
shown, by using addition,
subtraction, multiplication or
division, as indicated in the box.
A 4x4 grid will use the digits
1-4. A 6x6 grid will use 1-6.
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1 5-Across, with respect
Answers to Previous Puzzles
to this answer’s
Golf score
“Eww! That’s quite
Speed skater Ohno
Oviform : egg ::
pyriform : ___
Father in “As I Lay
Classic catalog provider
Pool growth
Bell Atlantic merger
partner of 2000
___ Park, site of
experimental lighting
___ Bator, Mongolia
Without stopping
22-Across, with
respect to this answer’s
26 Father of William the
54 Bond portrayer after
Airport serving greater
Rembrandt van ___
Large, gray rain clouds
“I shall return,” say
Citizens of the only
country that relies
significantly on online
voting in elections
Prefix with law or label
41-Across, with
respect to this answer’s
Time out?
___ Brothers (onetime
investment giant)
In fairness
46-Across, with
respect to this answer’s
Tugs of war
San ___ Obispo, Calif.
Solution to April 25 Puzzle
“In your dreams!”
Pirate captain whose
treasure was thought
to be buried on Oak
Close-knit group
Canyonlands National
Park sight
Swenson of “Benson”
Decked out?
Prestigious school, for
Ever-rising number
Monica on the court
“Pretty Woman” co-star
1 Asiatic animal with a
2 Yellow Monopoly
3 Carefully got around
4 A.A.A. suggestion:
Least honorable
Leads to, as one room
to another
___ out (try one’s best)
Jetson boy
Casual greetings
Mideast city with a
stock exchange
Villain in the “X-Men”
Good name for a
Less tanned
Debussy’s “La ___”
21 Bolt of lightning speed
23 ___ Hau, pioneering
physicist from
Backwoods turndown
Jordan joined it in
1984, for short
Changes the opinion
___ ear
Stumbling block
37 Legolas in “The Lord of 48 Australian boot brand
the Rings,” e.g.
38 Maximum amount
39 “Dagnabbit!”
42 “Everyone’s arrived
43 One who does what
people want them to
45 Greek peak on which
Zeus was hidden as an
47 Calms down
49 Wishbone feature
51 Patch of loose rocks at
the base of a cliff
52 What might follow
56 Rio producer
57 QB stat
58 Dismal fig. for a gas
THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 2018 | 13
His majesty of magic
A two-part ‘Harry Potter’
casts a hypnotic spell that
raises the bar on wizardry
Time is a dangerous toy in “Harry
Potter and the Cursed Child,” the enthralling two-part play about the later
life of its title wizard. Various characters in this deluxe Broadway production, which originated in London, find it
in their power to journey into the past,
which means altering the future, which
means serious trouble for everyone.
In that regard, these stumbling
adventure-seekers must be regarded
as lesser magicians than their creators,
who include J. K. Rowling, the writer of
the prodigiously popular Harry Potter
fantasy novels, and the poetic director
John Tiffany (“Black Watch,” “The
Glass Menagerie”). This inspired team
bends time to its will with an imagination and discipline that leave room for
nary a glitch, making five hours of
performance pass in a wizardly wink of
an eye.
Featuring a script by Jack Thorne —
from an original story by Ms. Rowling,
Mr. Thorne and Mr. Tiffany — “Harry
Potter and the Cursed Child” also gives
vibrant, decades-traversing life to
those wistful “what if” speculations
about the past that occupy both grownups and children. It’s a process that
involves folding stories into stories into
stories, collapsing years into minutes
and making dreams feel eternal, and
more vivid than reality.
If you give yourself over to this
show’s hypnotic powers — and I’m
talking to the parents who may be
accompanying their Potter-mad offspring with reluctance — you’ll find
everything that happens onstage
seems as improbably fluid as, well,
time itself. It helps that what happens
includes some of the most eye-boggling
illusions you’ll ever witness, without a
wire or trapdoor in sight.
In embodying the magical with such
seeming spontaneity, “Cursed Child”
becomes the new gold standard for
fantasy franchise entertainment on
Broadway. By contrast, most of the
family-courting stage versions of animated films that have ruled the theater
district for so long look as stiff and
artificial as parades of windup toys.
The budget for “Cursed Child,” which
has been a sold-out hit in London since
opening there in 2016, is a staggering
$68 million, the most ever spent on a
nonmusical Broadway production. Yet
I mean it as the highest praise when I
say that the show doesn’t look expensive.
Or rather, it seems expensive only in
the way of a custom-made little black
dress, one with endless tricks up its
deceptively simple sleeves. “Cursed
Child,” which has a deeply symbiotic
cast of 40, shimmers with beguiling
richness, but you’re never conscious of
its seams or the effort that’s gone into
the making of it.
This effect is evident as soon as you
step into the lobby of the Lyric Theater,
which has been transformed from a too
big, ungainly show barn into a cozy yet
sumptuously appointed environment
that seems to have been exactly as it is
for many, many years. On the stage,
open for your inspection, looms the
vaulted central hall of Harry Potter’s
alma mater, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
This stately mansion is the work of
the ace set designer Christine Jones
and has been shrouded in beckoning,
velvety and inventively concealing
shadows by Neil Austin’s lighting. The
scenery at this point consists mostly of
Clockwise from above: Jamie Parker
kneeling at far right as the title character
in “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”;
Anthony Boyle, center left, as Scorpius
Malfoy and Brian Abraham as the Sorting
Hat; and Mr. Parker with Sam Clemmett
as his son Albus.
suitcases and trunks. But watch out for
the gliding staircases that will soon
become a crucial part of the mise-enscène.
Luggage and staircases are appropriate motifs for a show that turns out
to be all about traveling, in the broadest sense of the word, and unpacking
the conflicted feelings that are part
and parcel of the long-distance journey
of growing up. Overseeing everything
from above, like an inescapable eye, is
a palely glowing clock.
Beneath this formidable timepiece, a
series of scenes melt into one another,
approximating cinematic cross-cutting,
while managing to feel both epic and
intimate. The story begins where the
final novel in the Potter series, “Harry
Potter and the Deathly Hallows,”
Harry (an irresistibly anxious Jamie
Parker) is an adult now (which doesn’t
mean he has entirely grown up), employed by the Ministry of Magic, which
is run by his old school chum (and
What happens includes some of
the most eye-boggling illusions
you’ll ever witness, without a
wire or trapdoor in sight.
partner in fighting the forces of darkness), Hermione Granger (the marvelous Noma Dumezweni). Harry and his
wife, Ginny (Poppy Miller), are seeing
their sons off to school from King’s
Cross Station in London.
It will be the first year at Hogwarts
for their younger boy, Albus (Sam
Clemmett), who is understandably
ambivalent about going to the place
where his student father became “the
most famous wizard in the whole
world.” Hermione and her prankster
husband, Ron Weasley (Paul Thornley,
delightful) are there, too, with their
daughter, Rose (Susan Heyward).
Also on the platform: the platinumhaired Draco Malfoy (Alex Price), once
Harry’s sinister rival, and his nerdy
son, Scorpius (Anthony Boyle, who
leads with his adenoids in a showstealing performance). Scorpius and
Albus are destined to bond, both as
outcasts in the young wizarding world
and as allies in a quest that may lead
them into the realms once occupied by
the ultimate dark lord, Voldemort.
Their insular friendship, which
opens up enough to include a determined young woman named Delphi
Diggory (Jessie Fisher), will be sorely
tested, as will their contentious relationships with their dads. And yes, the
script has more variations on father
issues than the entire canon of Greek
Part of the generation-crossing
appeal of Ms. Rowling’s novels lies in
her ability to give operatic grandeur to
the most universal and pedestrian
hopes and fears — feelings harbored
by anguished adolescents of all ages —
by placing them in a wildly fantastical
context. (In this sense, her fiction
resembles that of Stephen King.) And
this show more than honors that dichotomy.
That everyone who sees “Cursed
Child” is implored to “keep the secrets”
relieves me of the onerous burden of
parsing the byzantine but only occasionally tedious plot. Those who have
read the Potter novels, or seen the
blockbuster film adaptations, should
not feel that the carefully appointed
logic of Ms. Rowling’s fictional prototype has been violated.
The uninitiated may be confused
when the mere mention of certain
names (Dolores Umbridge, Neville
Longbottom) draws gasps from the
audience. But I can’t imagine anyone
ultimately not feeling strangely at
home within the show’s magical flux.
This state of enchantment is sustained through Steven Hoggett’s balletic movement direction of the large
ensemble and Katrina Lindsay’s wittily
transformative costumes. Working
with Ms. Jones and Jamie Harrison
(credited with illusions and magic),
they summon an alternate universe of
a world gone fascist, for the show’s
darkest and most uneasily topical
sequences. And do watch out for the
phantasmal Dementors.
The leading cast members, most of
whom I first saw in London, have
relaxed into looser but completely
detailed performances. (Mr. Parker,
Ms. Dumezweni and Mr. Thornley cut
loose delightfully to portray their
characters as inhabited by young’uns.)
It is impossible not to identify with
most of the people — and creatures —
onstage, who memorably include a
fabulous centaur (David St. Louis) and
that great, giggling ghost of the firstfloor girls’ bathroom, Moaning Myrtle
(Lauren Nicole Cipoletti).
For this slyly manipulative production knows exactly how, and how hard,
to push the tenderest spots of most
people’s emotional makeups. By that I
mean the ever-fraught relationships
between parents and children, connections that persist, often unresolved,
beyond death.
Time-bending, it turns out, has its
own special tools of catharsis in this
regard. In the multiple worlds summoned here, it is possible for kids to
instantly become their grown-up mentors, and for a son to encounter his
forbidding father when dad was still a
vulnerable sapling.
“I am paint and memory,” a talking
portrait of the long-dead wizard Dumbledore (Edward James Hyland) says to
his former star pupil, Harry. Well,
that’s art, isn’t it? Substitute theatrical
showmanship for paint, and you have
this remarkable production’s elemental
recipe for all-consuming enchantment.
an outsider.
At first, Tosca proved an easy mark
for this cagey Scarpia. Though Ms.
Netrebko can be an impetuous singer, I
was struck right through her performance by how she melded emotional
intensity and musical integrity. When
she looked at the suspicious fan, belonging to a woman, that Scarpia had
found near Mario’s easel, Ms. Netrebko
sang Tosca’s anguished response as a
series of clearly defined melodic
phrases. Her approach actually enhanced the music’s poignancy, lending
Tosca some dignity even as she suspects that Mario has deceived her.
I can’t remember when I’ve seen
such a shattering performance of this
opera’s harrowing second act. When
Mr. Volle’s Scarpia questioned Tosca to
find out where Mario had hidden the
escaped prisoner Angelotti, Ms. Netrebko’s Tosca proved not just a bad liar
but a clueless innocent. Once she realized that Mario had been taken into a
side chamber not just to be interrogated but to be tortured, Ms. Netrebko
erupted with searing, frenzied horror.
During this #MeToo era, it was hard
to watch Scarpia try to ply Tosca with
wine, then lay his hands around her
exposed neck and admit that her ha-
tred of him was a turn-on. Ms. Netrebko made Tosca’s aria “Vissi d’arte,”
sung with arching lyricism and enveloping richness, both a questioning
prayer to God and a private moment of
When, seeing no other way out,
Tosca stabs Scarpia with a knife, Ms.
Netrebko showed us a woman in a
moment of existential realization. Even
as she carried out the act, you could
see disbelief registered on her face and
in the tortured motions of her body:
Am I actually doing this? Murdering
She and Mr. Eyvazov performed
Act III like lovers caught in a daze of
confusion, with Tosca trying to convince herself she has found a rescue
plan for her lover and Mario looking as
if he knows the bullets from the firing
squad will be real.
The conductor Bertrand de Billy led
a coursing, richly detailed and colorful
account of the score. David McVicar’s
essentially realistic new production
was introduced on New Year’s Eve this
season and has been much debated,
but I hardly thought about it on this
night. The entire performance was
excellent. But the arrival of a great
new Tosca was the big news.
More than up to the task
Anna Netrebko makes
her debut as Tosca,
and it’s dazzling
Anna Netrebko must have felt enormous pressure this past weekend at
the Metropolitan Opera, where, for the
first time anywhere, she sang the title
role of Puccini’s “Tosca.” This is a
touchstone of the soprano repertory.
Ms. Netrebko, who over many years
has been moving from lighter, bel
canto fare into weightier dramatic
roles, could have chosen a less prominent stage to try out Tosca.
But this soprano, one of the opera
world’s genuine prima donnas, knew
what she was doing. She is a magnificent Tosca. From her first entrance,
she seemed every bit Puccini’s volatile
heroine, an acclaimed diva in the Rome
of 1800, seized in the moment with
jealous suspicions of her lover, the
painter Mario Cavaradossi. As she
hurled accusations at Mario — Why
was the church door locked? Who were
you whispering with? I heard a woman’s rustling skirt! — it took a couple of
minutes for her voice to warm up fully.
But by the time Tosca, having pushed
doubts aside, beguiles Mario into a
rendezvous at his villa that night, her
singing was plush, radiant and suffused with romantic yearning.
Her Tosca is a woman used to getting her way. That she loves Mario so
deeply rattles her. Having been reassured by Mario’s sweet talk, Tosca,
with a touch of mock despair, sings,
“You know how to make me love you.”
With melting sound and disarming
vulnerability, Ms. Netrebko made this
crucial line seem especially revealing,
a moment of helpless resignation.
It must have lent Ms. Netrebko
confidence to have her husband, the
Azerbaijan tenor Yusif Eyvazov, singing Mario. (The Met announced this
month that Marcelo Álvarez would not
sing the role in this six-performance
run, specifying no reason.) Mr. Eyvazov is a husky-bodied man with a voice
to match. He sings with burly sound
touched with a metallic glint. His big
top notes have stinging power.
Ms. Netrebko was also fortunate to
have the compelling baritone Michael
Anna Netrebko with her husband, the tenor Yusif Eyvazov, as Cavaradossi in “Tosca.”
Volle as Scarpia, Rome’s tyrannical
police chief. Though Scarpia is a sexual
predator who lusts after Tosca, he
deploys aristocratic airs to get his way.
Mr. Volle deftly modulated his singing,
one moment spinning a phrase with
seductive allure, the next erupting
with chilling power. That Mr. Volle has
become a major Wagnerian whose
sound has a Germanic, dark cast,
lacking typical Italianate warmth, just
made him seem more threatening, like
14 | THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 2018
Members of San Francisco Ballet performing “Bound To,” by Christopher Wheeldon, one of a dozen new works by a dozen choreographers in its current festival, Unbound. The festival runs through May 6.
Putting ballet to the test
San Francisco’s troupe
is offering 12 new works to
assess the state of the art
Let’s take the pulse of ballet today;
let’s start from scratch. With Unbound,
a festival of 12 new works by 12 different choreographers over 17 days, San
Francisco Ballet means to do just that.
Although the festival is a sequel to
one 10 years ago, this one is much
more adventurous, intended to take
this prestigious company, directed
since 1985 by Helgi Tomasson, into
unknown territory. Five of the choreographers are working for the first time
with this company, including two women (Cathy Marston and Annabelle
Lopez Ochoa); the local choreographer
Alonzo King (whose company, Lines, is
one of America’s best known); Dwight
Roden (the artistic director of Complexions Contemporary Ballet); and
David Dawson (a British choreographer long established in Europe but
only now receiving his first American
The company’s chief requests to the
12 choreographers were, apparently, to
keep décor simple — and to use James.
F. Ingalls for their lighting. Two of the
scores are pure commissions, while
two others are commissioned arrangements of scores using some older
material. Other music ranges from
Bach to electronic.
The opening triple bill (to be repeated April 28, May 3 and May 6)
shows its three choreographers — Mr.
King, the well-known Christopher
Wheeldon and, most impressive on this
occasion, Justin Peck — all thinking
out of the box. Only Mr. King’s “The
Collective Agreement” uses pointwork.
This, nonetheless, is deliberately unconventional, too. Jim Campbell has
designed three squares of lights, suspended at the back and sometimes
slowly rotating: You change your mind
even about their shapes, just as you do
about Mr. King’s dances.
The work starts with two malefemale duets (Sofiane Sylve with Tiit
Helimets, Jahna Frantziskonis with
Joseph Walsh) that, though unalike,
each involve two-way negotiation. Mr.
King’s women aren’t submissive; these
relationships, although somewhat
schematic, are interestingly suspenseful and modern. Later on, more complex ensembles develop. One memorable twist introduces a corps de ballet of
10: nine look-alike women in formation
with a man who’s both similar and
different enough to create a marvelously disconcerting effect.
The score, commissioned from Mr.
King’s frequent collaborator, Jason
Moran, runs through a wide range of
instrumental sonorities. Structurally,
the whole ballet feels like an array of
études or scientific specimens rather
than a world, but you sense the intelligence within it.
Mr. Wheeldon’s “Bound To,” his 10th
work for this company, has not only a
gimmick — the dancers all keep producing brightly illuminated iPhones —
but a sermon, too. Having shown us
individuals fixated on the screens in
their hands rather than on people
around them, the piece concludes by
projecting a sentence that says recent
studies link an increase in teenage
suicides to hand-held personal devices.
(No suicide seemed to happen in the
choreography.) Jean-Marc Puissant’s
Dores André and Wei Wang, foreground, in Justin Peck’s “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.”
décor shows distant trees, as if the
action were occurring in a public park.
At times, the compositional skills
that Mr. Wheeldon shows with ensembles and solos in “Bound To” seem
unsurpassable. Apart from his longestablished gifts with patterns and
steps, he has recently developed a
sense of fluent expressionist gesture
(evident in his full-length 2014 ballet,
“The Winter’s Tale,” danced by the
Royal Ballet and National Ballet of
Canada). Long passages in the male
solos, for Angelo Greco in “Wavelength” and for Lonnie Weeks in “Trying to Breathe,” show how eloquently
he can construct dances that unfold
compellingly as both formal choreography and expression.
Mr. Wheeldon has given himself two
particular challenges here: a few
ensembles of same-sex couples (something he has seldom, if ever, tackled);
and exclusive use of soft-shoe footwork
(thus avoiding any of the sublimity
that pointwork can bring to ballet). He
passes both assignments easily. I wish,
though, he would give himself a third
challenge: to make duets in which the
two people are not involved in constant
physical contact and partnering.
And his thought becomes labored
when he keeps hammering home how
some people need to keep staring at
their portable screens: notably a pas
de deux for Yuan Yuan Tan (staring at
hers) and Carlo Di Lanno (trying to fit
in). The ballet is accompanied by Matt
Naughtin’s commissioned orchestration of work by the English folk-rock
musician Keaton Henson; it’s not hard
music to listen to, but Mr. Wheeldon’s
response leads me no deeper than its
The program ends with Mr. Peck’s
“Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.” This
ensemble work is set to electronic
music by M83 (Anthony Gonzalez,
Yann Gonzalez, Bradley Laner and
Justin Meldal-Johnsen) — a score I
would otherwise resist, but Mr. Peck
draws me into it.
It could be seen as a companion to
“The Times Are Racing,” a hit Peck
creation in 2017 for New York City
Ballet set to Dan Deacon music. As in
that, the mood here is urban, with the
dancers all in sneakers and an assortment of street wear (by Reid Bartelme
and Harriet Jung); whereas that dance
was made from tap and pedestrian
movement, this one features two duets
whose fluent phraseology and
stretched lines owe far more to ballet.
As in Mr. King’s “Argument,” these
duets — beauties both — are deliberately contrasted: Sarah Van Patten
and Luke Ingham are impersonally
harmonious, while Doris André and
Wei Wang are shown as separate
beings whose meetings are part of
independent lives.
Mr. Ingalls’s lighting for “Hurry Up”
includes, in the group sections, amber
lights directed at the audience. Even
though there is no glare, it’s an alienating effect. Though the “Hurry Up”
duets emerge from a social context, it’s
not one that makes a clear impression.
The work also ends too abruptly. But
this imperfect piece is the most valuable creation of Unbound’s initial installment.
A newsman’s novel, set in the McCarthy era
The Hellfire Club
By Jake Tapper. 342 pp. Little, Brown
& Company. $27.
“That hairdo might be the worst coverup in political history,” someone snipes
in “The Hellfire Club,” a time-warping
political thriller by the CNN anchor
Jake Tapper. The year is 1954, and the
book is crammed with high-profile
political figures of the McCarthy era.
The spirit of the times is menacing.
(“Has anyone actually gotten a look at
the naval records of PT-109?” “It
seems like too much of what’s in the
news media is spoon-fed to journalists
by various government factions with
agendas.”) In Tapper’s view, it aligns
all too well with the atmosphere today.
As a newsman, Tapper can be tough
and quick. He’s the guy who recently
said, “Go home, 2018, you’re drunk,”
delivering the savviest analysis of the
year thus far. As a nonfiction writer,
he’s shown a wide range of interests,
with subjects including a deadly battle
in Afghanistan (“The Outpost”) and
Jesse Ventura’s wrestler-to-governor
transformation (“Body Slam”).
As a novelist, he makes the rookie
mistake of loading every interesting
fact he could muster into a plot that
can barely support the weight. The
first part of the book is devoted to a
parade of Washington cameos. It begins with a thriller’s pro forma opening: Charlie Marder, newly minted
congressman, wakes up drunk and
muddy in Rock Creek Park with the
following accouterments: tuxedo, dead
cocktail waitress, wrecked Studebaker
and high-powered lobbyist to help him
escape the crime scene. Charlie, a war
hero and former college professor,
doesn’t wonder whether there’s anything fishy about this situation.
Cut to a big night at the theater,
where everyone who’s anyone in
Washington shows up. Herbert Hoover
smells like mothballs. The Kennedys.
The Nixons. “Isn’t that Joe Alsop?”
“Where the devil is Kefauver, anyway?” In short order, all of these famous figures — minus the Nixons, but
plus Lyndon B. Johnson, Roy Cohn,
Margaret Chase Smith and even President Eisenhower — will be on cozy
terms with Charlie, a new guy whose
integrity makes a big impression. That
is, until the pressures of political reality start leaching that integrity away.
While Charlie’s mounting heap of
Jake Tapper.
secrets drives a wedge between him
and his very pregnant wife, Margaret,
he gets a rapid education in Washington corruption. Tapper’s interweaving
of the usual motives of power and
money — to which Charlie is not susceptible — with the much more sinister
pressures of the Red Scare ought to
make for much more excitement than
it does.
It doesn’t help that some characters
are so conventionally drawn. Margaret’s great passion is for research on
migrating ponies in the Chesapeake
Bay area. And the head of the project,
who has flirted with her for years, is
described as having a “shock of thick,
prematurely white hair, deep-set,
sky-blue eyes, and a jawline so sharp it
could cut wood.” He is said to resemble
“more an international captain of
industry or a New England governor
than a zoologist.”
Red alert, Charlie. Not the McCarthy
Tapper veers into Dan Brown territory with the secretive club for which
the book is named. There was a Hellfire Club in Benjamin Franklin’s time,
an ornate place dedicated to serious
debauchery and created for the pleasure of rich, powerful men. The original
English version has descendants, and
whether there was one in Washington
in the 1950s — or is one there now — is
something Tapper may know more
about than he’s saying. One of his
many sources is a 1951 book called
“Washington Confidential,” which he
describes as “severely flawed” but rich
with sleaze. Translation: It is presumably neck-deep in the kind of dirt that’s
implied about the Hellfire Club and
figures briefly here.
One point that “The Hellfire Club”
makes with blunt effectiveness is that
Congress is home to institutionalized
racial discrimination. Charlie’s best
friend becomes fellow Congressman
Isaiah Street, a former Tuskegee Airman who is technically banned from
even eating with his peers in the official dining room. Isaiah, not someone
to be interfered with, just ignores this
rule. But Tapper uses him — and the
upcoming Supreme Court ruling in
Brown v. Board of Education — to
underscore where Americans stood on
racial equality in 1954. That, too, is a
sobering message for these retrograde
Tapper’s odd little observations are
much more interesting than his broad
ones. He apparently has a highly developed snoot: He makes multiple
mentions of fragrances that were
popular in the 1950s, and even manages to weave one into the suspense
plot. He has Charlie attend the Senate
Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, a.k.a. the comic book hearings,
which were detailed in David Hajdu’s
“The Ten-Cent Plague” (2008). This is
useful as a precursor to later examples
of congressional alarmism; Charlie
also gleans tactical advice from the
proceedings. Tapper also recalls a
mostly forgotten invasion of the Capitol by armed Puerto Rican separatists
that yielded the casualties described in
this novel. Tapper’s awkwardness with
his fictitious characters can improve.
His acuity with historical resonance
doesn’t have to.
Tapper did not have to include endnotes clarifying facts he modified and
details on sources, but the notes are
very winning. They reveal his tremendous enthusiasm for this work, a nearexcessive meticulousness (the book’s
wild ponies of Nanticoke and Susquehannock Islands are loosely based on
Chincoteague and Assateague ponies)
and things that probably didn’t need
mentioning (the dishonest congressman called Phil Strongfellow is a lot
like the real Douglas Stringfellow).
Finally, a conversation between
Charlie and Eisenhower at the end of
the book — by which time reader
resistance to its wax-museum politicians has been worn down — turns
out to have been derived from Eisenhower’s memoir, his farewell address,
an article about his Oval Office’s décor,
Stephen Ambrose’s book about Ike and
espionage, David Nichols’s book about
Ike and McCarthy, and more. All this
for a single chapter about setting the
course for Charlie’s future. At long last,
he’s grown into his role. If he and
Tapper come back, it’s likely to be for a
less awkward ride.
16 | THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 2018
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