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The New York Times International - 03 02 2018 - 04 02 2018

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page two
An Orwellian turn for Kenya
On stages
and screens
for 8 decades
As struggle unfolds,
president takes on news
media over covering a rival
Sitting in his office, Linus Kaikai ate
peanuts and tried to decide how best to
be arrested by the police officers he
thought were lurking outside the newsroom.
“What are the chances they’ll storm
the place?” Mr. Kaikai, who leads the
newsroom at Nation Television, asked a
roomful of allies — lawyers, fellow journalists, activists.
It was late Wednesday night. An Orwellian storm had whipped across Kenya’s capital, and Mr. Kaikai was caught
in it. Hours earlier he and two NTV colleagues, the anchors Ken Mijungu and
Larry Madowo, were tipped by their police sources that officers were heading
to the newsroom to arrest all three.
None knew when it would happen or
why, exactly — in Kenya, you generally
hear the charges only when you appear
in court — but they all had a pretty good
One day earlier they had broadcast
the highest-stakes political-opposition
gathering in recent memory, defying
warnings from President Uhuru Kenyatta.
For months, Kenyans had been on
edge, waiting for Raila Odinga, an opposition politician, to make good on promises to inaugurate himself as “the people’s president.”
Mr. Odinga lost the 2017 election to Mr.
Kenyatta, insisting that the original vote
was fraudulent and sitting out a courtordered do-over.
Although Mr. Kenyatta was sworn in
for a second term in November, Mr.
Odinga has refused to recognize him as
legitimate — and planned his own inauguration ceremony.
To some, Mr. Odinga’s plan was petulant political theater, and Western diplomats encouraged Mr. Kenyatta’s government to ignore it. But the police
threatened to crack down hard on anyone who attended the “swearing in” held
on Tuesday.
Connie Sawyer, who began performing
in vaudeville and nightclubs more than
eight decades ago and continued to appear on stages and screens until she became known as the oldest working actress in Hollywood, has died in Los Angeles. She was 105.
Her death on Jan. 21 at the Motion Picture & Television Fund’s retirement
home in the Woodland Hills neighborhood, where she had lived for a decade,
was confirmed by her daughter Lisa
Miss Sawyer, as she liked to be
known, was billed as the oldest member
of the Screen Actors Guild and the
American Federation of Television and
Radio Artists who was still working.
Her memoir, self-published last year,
was titled, “I Never Wanted to Be a Star
— And I Wasn’t.”
Still, since her Broadway debut in
1948, she had accumulated about 140 acting credits in theatrical, movie and television productions.
She appeared on dozens of television
shows, including “Dynasty,” “Hawaii
Five-O,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,”
“Murder, She Wrote,” “Seinfeld” and
“Will & Grace.” More recently, she
played the mother of a Boston thug in
hiding (James Woods) in the Showtime
dramatic series “Ray Donovan.”
“I loved working on ‘Donovan’ — my
son was a hit man, and I really got to
cuss,” she told The Hollywood Reporter
in 2015.
Typically cast as wry and gossipy,
Miss Sawyer appeared in three dozen
films, ranging from the John Wayne
western “True Grit” (1969), as a longwinded witness to a hanging, to the comedy “Dumb & Dumber” (1994), as a
scooter-riding pickpocket.
The daughter of Orthodox Jewish immigrants from Romania, the Coloradoborn Miss Sawyer was nudged by her
mother toward a show business career.
Miss Sawyer debuted on Broadway in
1948 in “Hilarities,” a short-lived and
largely panned variety revue starring
Morey Amsterdam, in which she was
billed as “Great New Talent.”
Her break came in 1957, when her improvised performance as a tipsy society
lady in “A Hole in the Head,” a Broadway
comedy about a hapless hotelier in Miami Beach, captivated an agent for
The government’s response
represents the latest chapter
in a crackdown on political
expression in Kenya.
As security officers have repeatedly
demonstrated over the last three
months, it was hardly an empty threat.
The government’s response represents the latest chapter in a crackdown
on political expression in Kenya, a stable
democracy that had seemed to overcome decades of censorship and abuse.
Mr. Kenyatta got involved personally
last month, raising the pressure not on
his political rivals, but on the news media.
He summoned the owners of Kenya’s
major broadcasters to his residence and
warned them not to cover Mr. Odinga’s
Hanningtone Gaya, the chairman of
the Media Owners Association of Kenya,
described the encounter as a “dressing
down” and told Mr. Kaikai of NTV that
the group had been “read the riot act.”
Mr. Kaikai, who is chairman of Kenya’s editors guild, denounced the president’s warning as a “brazen threat” and
Coverage of the Kenyan opposition leader’s self-inauguration on Tuesday at a public park in the capital, Nairobi, led to a crackdown that shut down three television stations.
wrote a scathing public letter against
media intimidation.
And for a few hours on Tuesday, his
NTV journalists broadcast from the
event at Uhuru Park. So did two other
major stations.
But at 9 a.m., government officials
and police officers arrived at the stations’ transmission center, about 20
miles from Nairobi, and disabled broadcasting equipment.
The stations went off the air.
Tensions only worsened as the day
went on. The government declared part
of the opposition coalition an “organized
criminal gang.”
Fred Matiang’i, the interior minister,
said at a news conference on Wednesday that he would investigate the TV
stations and keep them off the air indefinitely.
He said the blackout had protected
Kenyans from incitement — and then he
went further.
“A massacre of catastrophic proportions was going to happen,” he said,
without offering evidence. “The intention was that it happens, and it’s blamed
on the police.”
By coupling the blackout with the
withdrawal of police forces from the site,
Mr. Matiang’i said, he had kept Kenyans
Mr. Matiang’i also promised a reckoning with the planners of what he described, again without evidence, as a
sinister plot that had been foiled.
“The individuals and organizations
involved in this, wherever they are
within the borders of this country, will
feel it,” he said. “And they will be so
Roughly an hour later, Mr. Kaikai —
The anchor Larry Madowo, left, of Nation Television with Linus Kaikai, who leads the
newsroom, on Thursday. The journalists had expected to be arrested this past week.
who had set off a firestorm with his defiant renunciation of the president’s
warning — was told that police officers
had surrounded the NTV newsroom.
The information came around the same
time news broke that an opposition lawmaker, T. J. Kajwang, had been arrested.
As the evening wore on, Mr. Kaikai’s
colleagues took care of whatever details
they could.
One brought him a toothbrush, another a blanket. The place was full of
food — “they asked me what I want for
my ‘Last Supper,’ ” he joked — and he
signed papers, in triplicate, meant to expedite his bail.
“Tomorrow you’re going to look dapper, I hope,” a lawyer told him with a
smile. “You need your best suit, and a
flower for that buttonhole thing.” The
joke didn’t quite land. “O.K., you can
skip the flower,” he offered.
Mr. Kaikai tried to keep up his spirits,
but worried aloud about the aftermath
of a police raid.
“What happens here is not that they
just take you to the police station. They
cause you psychological trauma,” he
Stories abound here about police officers driving suspects around for hours
before booking them at the station,
which starts a kind of civil-rights clock:
Officers have 24 hours from booking to
charge a suspect, who can then appeal
for bail.
Late last year, David Ndii, an opposition leader, was arrested at his hotel and
went missing for five hours before a local police station reported having him in
These things weighed on Mr. Kaikai
as he awaited the arrest he was certain
was coming.
“Look, they’re not about law and processes,” he said. “These are not law enforcers. They’re political henchmen.”
That night, Mr. Madowo took refuge in
his studio, laying a Maasai cloth beneath
a desk. “Who knew a production studio
could have so many uses?” he said.
George Kinoti, a spokesman for the
National Police, did not return repeated
calls or messages seeking to confirm
whether officers had been sent to arrest
the journalists. Mwenda Njoka, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, denied
any knowledge of the events.
But in the end, the police did not storm
the offices. Late Thursday afternoon,
the High Court suspended the blackout,
saying the stations could resume broadcasting until the court hears arguments
on the issue. And Mr. Kaikai, Mr. Madowo and Mr. Mijungu headed to court to
seek “anticipatory bail,” which would essentially keep them free even if the police filed charges in court.
They remained defiant.
“If you’re a journalist, what we do is
tell the truth. You don’t hide things. You
don’t sugarcoat,” Mr. Mijungu said. “We
saw what happened on Tuesday as an
event. They saw it as an opportunity to
crack down on us.”
A musician with the world’s ills on his mind
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like “Late Night Synths and Strings.”
Mr. Frahm has played concert halls, including the Barbican Center in London
and Philharmonie de Paris, as well as
music festivals including Dimensions in
Croatia and Primavera Sound in Barcelona, Spain.
Mr. Frahm’s music is often led by him
on the piano, supplemented with electronic textures from synthesizers and
drum machines. It’s melancholy, but
also euphoric. “All Melody” opens with a
haunting, wordless choral number (a
collaboration with Shards, a British
choir), followed by the percussive second track, “Sunson,” that would not be
out of place in on a nightclub dance floor.
The BBC radio presenter Mary Anne
Hobbs, a highly regarded musical tastemaker in Britain known for supporting
experimental artists, said in a telephone
interview that Mr. Frahm was “the single most important artist in the world
right now.” Ms. Hobbs has championed
Mr. Frahm’s music on her radio show
since 2013, and in 2015 she invited him to
play in a concert she was hosting at the
BBC Proms, a festival mostly dedicated
to classical music.
“We stepped across a boundary that
night,” Ms. Hobbs said. “We showed that
music with classical roots can be taken
to a whole new generation who want to
experience it and it can be interpreted in
such a radical new way by Nils.”
Mr. Frahm himself shied away from
discussing genre. “Describing my music
with genres is a helpless approach,” Mr.
Mr. Frahm’s studio was originally built for the recording of chamber music by the East
German state broadcaster. He said that he didn’t think he could make music forever.
Frahm said. “I won’t ever fight against it
though. I think it’s fantastic. It just tells
me that a lot of people are still stuck not
being able to choose for themselves.”
Mr. Arnalds, an Icelandic producer
and longtime collaborator, was more
pragmatic. “I’m not a fan of the term of
‘neoclassical’ at all,” he said in a telephone interview. “But there’s definitely
something great happening right now.
It’s a mirror on our society; people are
seeking this more contemplative type of
Mr. Frahm’s childhood in Hamburg,
Germany, was filled with eclectic
sounds, courtesy of his music-loving father, he said. “My parents were hippies,
but they bypassed all the clichéd rock
stuff,” Mr. Frahm said. “No Eric Clapton
or Pink Floyd, which I really appreciated.” Instead, Mr. Frahm’s father introduced him to jazz by artists like John Ab-
ercrombie, Horace Silver and Keith Jarrett, as well as classical music.
His brother would be in one room of
their family home playing techno and
his father in another with his own music
on. “I was sitting in the middle, and it
noodled together,” Mr. Frahm said.
Bringing these sounds together is
what Mr. Frahm has been working on in
his studio at the Funkhaus on the banks
of the River Spree. A former headquarters of the East German state broadcaster (funkhaus means “broadcasting
house” in German), it is a vast, imposing
building, with a brutalist exterior that
gives no hint of the opulent recording
studios and performance rooms within.
Mr. Frahm’s studio was originally
built for the recording of chamber music. With its golden wallpaper and parquet flooring, it is an obscure piece of
German musical history preserved in
Mr. Frahm had already held a number
of recording sessions in the space, including for the soundtrack of “Victoria,”
a 2015 thriller directed by Sebastian
Schipper as a single continuous take,
when the building’s new owners invited
him to house his studio there. In the two
years since, he has filled it with a huge
collection of synthesizers, pianos and
custom-built instruments.
When Ms. Hobbs visited the studio in
February 2017, she said Mr. Frahm was
in the middle of making “All Melody”
and had taken to sleeping there. “He’d
made a tiny makeshift bed, which was
little more than a blanket folded over
and a pillow on the ground,” she said.
“The place of rest he created for himself
was so humble and simple by comparison to the beautiful environment he
made for his instruments.”
Reverence for instruments started in
Mr. Frahm’s youth, when he learned the
piano from Nahum Brodski, who Mr.
Frahm said had been taught by a student of Tchaikovsky. “It was nasty learning piano, boring,” he said, but he was
disciplined in his practice.
“I understood that you have to suffer
for something which is beautiful,” he
said. “This is my biggest criticism in our
age, that we try to erase suffering and
hardship from our lives in order to just
be left only with beauty.”
Mr. Frahm was about to play the final
show in a four-day run of performances
at the Funkhaus, the first leg of his world
tour, and he turned to ruminating on
how the concerts had gone so far.
“These people have wet eyes and they
look at me all smiling, and I feel like it’s
my birthday every day,” he said.
“But it makes me very skeptical,” he
said. “It can’t be my birthday every day.”
Mr. Frahm said that he didn’t think he
could make music forever. He’s too troubled by the ills he sees in the world, and
making music doesn’t do enough to
solve them.
“I’m already thinking of when the
right time will be to change jobs,” he
said. “I still feel like I have a little bit of
potential, but when I feel like I’m fully
blossomed as a flower, I will cut myself
down and something else will grow.”
Connie Sawyer in 2016. She was known as
the oldest working actress in Hollywood.
Frank Sinatra. Sinatra bought the film
rights and ordered his agent to “hire the
drunk” for a 1959 adaptation directed by
Frank Capra.
“I never really wanted to be a star,”
Miss Sawyer declared in 2012. “It’s a
business with me.”
She was born Rosie Cohen on Nov. 17,
1912, in Pueblo, Colo., to Samuel Cohen
and the former Dora Inger. Though her
parents had come from the same Romanian village, her mother arrived in the
United States first. Her father had immigrated to Colorado after Dora’s brothers
agreed to pay his passage if he would
marry one of their sisters.
When Rosie was 7, the family moved
to Oakland, Calif., where her father
opened an army-navy store. Rosie took
dance lessons as a child.
After she graduated from high school,
a first-place finish in a talent show led to
an appearance on the “Al Pearce and His
Gang” radio program in San Francisco.
Her marriage to Marshall Schacker, a
film distributor, ended in divorce. In addition to her daughter Lisa, Miss Sawyer is survived by another daughter, Julie Watkins; four grandchildren, including Sam Dudley, an actor and director;
and three great-grandchildren.
Miss Sawyer appeared on dozens of
television shows, one of the most recent
being Fox’s “New Girl,” with Zooey Deschanel, in 2014. Her film credits also include “Ada” (1961), “The Bonfire of the
Vanities” (1990) and the stoner comedy
“Pineapple Express.”
She said she was proudest of her performance as a trial witness in Arthur
Hiller’s “The Man in the Glass Booth,” a
1975 film about a war-crimes trial of a
Jewish Manhattan industrialist.
But she found comedy the most challenging, she said.
“Comics and comediennes make good
actors because it’s very hard to do comedy,” she said. “It comes out of your gut.
It’s the sadness of life: If you don’t laugh
all the time . . . you know what I mean?”
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Devaluing genuine atrocities in Myanmar
Blurring fact and fiction
in Rohingya camps risks
undermining their case
The four young sisters sat in a huddle,
together but alone.
Their accounts were dramatic: Their
mother had died when their home was
burned by soldiers in Rakhine State in
western Myanmar. Their father was one
of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who
had disappeared into official custody
and were feared dead.
Somehow, the sisters — ages 12, 8, 5
and 2 — made their way to refuge in
Bangladesh. An uncle, who had been living for years in the Rohingya refugee
camps in Bangladesh, had taken them
in, adding the girls to his own collection
of hungry children.
“My parents were killed in Myanmar,”
said the eldest girl, Januka Begum. “I
miss them very much.”
I was reporting on children who had
arrived in the camps without their families. An international charity, which had
given financial support to the uncle,
brought me to meet the girls.
Within an hour, I had a notebook filled
with the kind of quotes that pull at heartstrings. Little of it was true.
After three days of reporting, the
truth began to emerge. Soyud Hossain,
the supposed uncle who had taken the
girls in, was actually their father. He had
three wives, two in Bangladesh and one
in Myanmar, he admitted. The children
were from his youngest wife, the one in
In any refugee camp, tragedy is commodified. Aid groups want to help the
neediest cases, and people quickly realize that the story of four orphaned sisters holds more value than that of an intact family that merely lost all its possessions.
To compete for relief supplies distributed by aid groups, refugees learn to deploy women with infants in their arms.
Crying babies get pushed to the front of
the line. Such strategies are a natural
survival tactic. Who wouldn’t do the
same to feed a family?
But false narratives devalue the genuine horrors — murder, rape and mass
burnings of villages — that have been inflicted upon the Rohingya by Myanmar’s security forces. And such embellished tales only buttress the Myanmar
government’s contention that what is
happening in Rakhine State is not ethnic
cleansing, as the international community suggests, but trickery by foreign invaders.
The official narrative in Myanmar
Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar at a refugee camp in Bangladesh in November. To compete for relief supplies distributed by aid groups, some refugees learn to weave false tales.
goes like this: Rohingya Muslims are illegal immigrants from an overcrowded
Bangladesh. With Muslim men taking
multiple wives, the Rohingya are reproducing faster than Myanmar’s majority
There is plenty of evidence to counter
this claim. Muslim roots in the region
reach back generations. The ratio of
Muslims to Buddhists in northern Rakhine has not changed much over the
past half-century.
But with the Myanmar government
restricting access to the area where the
Rohingya once lived, even refusing to let
top United Nations officials into the
country, it is impossible for investigators and journalists to gather firsthand
evidence of atrocities. Local reporters
for Reuters who tried to investigate a
mass grave now sit in jail.
That’s why in the refugee camps in
Bangladesh, victims with physical manifestations of their trauma are simpler to
interview. A fresh bullet wound in a
child’s body is proof that something terrible happened.
For every person quoted, I’d estimate
that at least a dozen others were left in
my notebooks. But a reporter’s necessary skepticism — which governs our
work in every story — only contributes
to the invasion of privacy. How must it
feel for a Rohingya woman, who admits
to a stranger that she was raped, when
she realizes that her story is being
Yet I have seen Rohingya people
quoted in the foreign news media telling
stories that I know are not true. Their
accounts, in some cases, are too compelling, like a perfect storm of suffering.
That is not to discount the collective
trauma that has compelled nearly
Embellished tales only buttress
Myanmar’s contention that what
is happening to Muslims is not
ethnic cleansing.
700,000 Rohingya to flee for Bangladesh
over the past five months. Doctors Without Borders estimates that 6,700 Rohingya met violent deaths in a single
month last year. Even that number, the
medical aid group says, is too low.
For four days, I interviewed a 9-yearold boy named Noorshad, and his story
had it all. In my notebook, he drew pictures of his house — and the tree from
which his parents were hanged by
Myanmar soldiers.
Then he drew the jerrycan he clung to
as he crossed the river into Bangladesh.
He tied his flip-flops to his waist, he said,
with a bit of vine. The sandals were from
his dead mother. He glanced at them and
But there were inconsistencies. Noorshad said he liked cricket, a sport popular in Bangladesh but not in Myanmar.
His grandparents were killed by the military, he told me, but then he admitted
they had died of natural causes.
I found locals from the village I believed he was from. It turned out that no
one had been killed there, much less
hanged from a tree.
So where did Noorshad come from?
He had been found crying in the market
in the Kutupalong refugee camp in
Bangladesh. Other refugees took him to
a school where a pair of women offered
hugs and bowls of curry. Obviously,
something bad had happened to him,
but to this day, no one has figured out his
real story.
At times, there is a benign explanation for children telling untruths. Young
minds can process lived memories and
secondhand ones in remarkably similar
“Even if some children have only
heard of atrocities, fear has been instilled in them and it’s very hard for
them to separate what they’ve seen
from what they’ve heard,” said Benjamin Steinlechner, a spokesman for the
United Nations Children’s Fund in Cox’s
Bazar, Bangladesh.
“It’s like watching a horror movie,” he
continued. “Children experience it very
differently from adults.”
I have a better sense of the life of Mr.
Hossain, the four girls’ father.
His troubles, he said, began when he
was briefly back in Myanmar and saw a
12-year-old girl with fair skin and delicate features.
“She was so beautiful,” Mr. Hossain
said. “I needed to marry her.”
Child marriage is distressingly common among the Rohingya, and soon, Mr.
Hossain began shuttling among his
three wives. Not every wife knew about
the other, but Mr. Hossain didn’t think
three wives were too many. His own father, he said, had six wives and 42 children.
Yet Mr. Hossain admitted that he was
not adept at balancing family relations.
When his four daughters sought shelter
in Bangladesh after their village had
been burned, Sajida, the wife with whom
he has been living in the Leda refugee
camp, was furious.
“My husband is a bad man,” she announced, after she finally admitted the
girls’ true provenance. “I am tired of all
his lies.”
Later, when I reached Mr. Hossain by
phone, he was seething.
“I beat her when you left,” he said. “I
will beat her again tomorrow.”
Mr. Hossain’s sister-in-law had also
explained part of the family’s complicated truth. A neighbor later relayed
that her candor had earned her a beating from her husband.
Rather than highlight the plight of unaccompanied minors, my reporting had
catalyzed domestic violence in two
households. I regretted the days of questioning Sajida, who goes by one name.
I had found her unsympathetic when
she said she wished those girls would
disappear back to Myanmar. But that
night her husband would beat her. As I
stood and judged her for not embracing
these four girls from her husband’s
youngest wife, a cockroach skittered
across the floor. A rat followed.
Sajida began crying.
All around, through the bamboo slats
that make up the walls of a Rohingya
shelter, children’s eyes followed my
movements, wondering what I was doing there and why I had made a grown
woman weep.
In an unwinnable war, what’s the least bad loss?
This would, in theory, combine the
first two models. The government could
reconstitute itself as it mediated between local enclaves that would one day
reintegrate with the state.
“This is the outcome we have de facto
ended up with, but not in a peaceful
sense,” Ms. Murtazashvili said. The government is receding and the warlords
are rising, but the two are in conflict.
The Somalia model would manage
that process of disintegration, like
crash-landing a plane rather than waiting for it to fall from the sky. It would
leave communities to find their own
peace with the Taliban, which some in
remote parts of the country are already
In Somalia itself, this model has found
mixed success. Security has improved
nationwide, but a devolving state has
been left unable to root out extremists,
who still carry out devastating attacks.
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After 16 years of war in Afghanistan, experts have stopped asking what victory
looks like and are beginning to consider
the spectrum of possible defeats.
All options involve acknowledging the
war as failed, American aims as largely
unachievable and Afghanistan’s future
as only partly salvageable. Their advocates see glimmers of hope barely worth
the stomach-turning trade-offs and slim
odds of success.
“I don’t think there is any serious analyst of the situation in Afghanistan who
believes that the war is winnable,” Laurel Miller, a political scientist at the
RAND Corporation, said in a podcast
last summer, after leaving her State Department stint as acting special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
This may be why, even after thousands have died and over $100 billion
has been spent, even after the past two
weeks of shocking bloodshed in Kabul,
few expect the United States to try anything other than the status quo.
It is a strategy, as Ms. Miller described it, to “prevent the defeat of the
Afghan government and prevent military victory by the Taliban” for as long
as possible.
Though far from the most promising
option, it is the least humiliating. But
sooner or later, the United States and Afghanistan will find themselves facing
one of Afghanistan’s endgames —
whether by choice or not.
“I’ll tell you what my best-case scenario
would be,” said Frances Z. Brown, an Afghanistan expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
That, she said, would see the American-led coalition abandon its efforts to
impose a centralized state and instead
allow Afghans to build their own state
from the bottom up.
It would mean accepting a central
government that acts more like a horse
trader among local strongmen and warlords. American and allied troops would
guarantee enough security to sustain
the state. Afghans would figure out the
rest for themselves.
Over time, ideally, Afghans might de-
The funeral of a car bomb victim in Kabul, Afghanistan. Experts say that America’s aims in the country are largely unachievable.
velop a functioning economy, then
something like real democracy and, finally, peace and stability.
“But what we know from other cases
is that this takes generations,” Ms.
Brown said.
The perpetual occupation necessary
for this to work might also doom it. Continued foreign aid gives Afghan elites,
who are already on the verge of splintering, incentive to compete rather than
come together.
This approach would involve tolerating the Taliban’s presence in rural areas.
And rolling crises would be built into
this model, so Afghans would have to
hope that they would somehow never
derail the decades of progress needed
before lasting change could take hold.
If Afghanistan were forced back to
square one, it might be able to rebuild
itself from scratch.
After all, humanity lived for millenniums in something resembling lowgrade anarchy. Modern nation-states
grew out of that chaos only recently.
This would start with the effective collapse of the state and American withdrawal. Because the Taliban are too
weak and unpopular to retake the country, as most analysts believe, Afghanistan would splinter.
Out of the ashes, local warlords and
strongmen would rise up. Without the
United States forcing them to take sides
in an all-or-nothing war, they might
eventually accommodate one another,
and the Taliban.
Their fiefs, once stable, could coalesce
over years or decades into a state.
Research by Dipali Mukhopadhyay, a
Columbia University political scientist,
suggests that the warlords would gravitate toward the kind of state building
that occurred in medieval Europe over
Jennifer Murtazashvili, a University
of Pittsburgh political scientist who
studies state building and failure, said
the process might unfold more quickly
and stably in Afghanistan. She has studied rural Afghan communities that outside the reach of the state have begun
reproducing the basic building blocks of
But hers is only a theory, untested in
modern history.
In a sign of how far hopes have fallen,
the war-torn East African country of Somalia is increasingly being raised as
worthy of emulation.
The Afghan government would retreat to major cities. Formally, it would
switch to a federal system, as Somalia
did in 2012. But power would effectively
flow to whichever warlords and strongmen — potentially including the Taliban
— rose up in the countryside.
The paradox of peace deals is that while
all sides benefit, each fears that it will
not do as well as it could — or that its
enemies might do too well. This gives
each an incentive to block all but the perfect deal, a dynamic so pronounced in
Afghanistan that in 16 years, talks have
never advanced far enough to make
clear what each side considers acceptable.
“I doubt the Taliban has even given
any thought at a higher level to what a
government looks like that it could have
a stake in,” said Courtney Cooper, a
Council on Foreign Relations analyst.
The fear of losing out is not misplaced.
Afghan elites already squabble over
control of ministries and lucrative patronage networks, and their infighting
grows as those resources shrink. In any
peace deal, they would need to surrender many or most of those resources to
the Taliban.
The Taliban, too, would probably need
to surrender or curtail their hopes for
dominating Afghanistan. That could anger the extremists rising in the group’s
And any American president would
risk a political backlash for appearing to
usher the Taliban back into power. Veterans and military leaders might reasonably ask what they had fought for.
The clearest winner of any deal might
be the Afghans themselves, but they are
largely at the mercy of political actors
for whom peace is risky.
There is a more pessimistic version of
the collapse-then-rebuild model, in
which warlords compete until one prevails over all.
Afghanistan itself offers a particularly vivid example of this scenario: After the 1992 collapse of the Sovietbacked government there, the country
was gripped by a terrible civil war. If the
Americans abandoned the government
now in place, that history could repeat.
“There is a strong possibility that this
county could splinter, and not in consensual ways,” Ms. Murtazashvili said.
That war culminated, in 1996, with one
faction prevailing: the Taliban. It then
sheltered Al Qaeda, prompting the
American-led invasion and the war still
raging all these years later.
That history, too, could repeat. Research by Barbara F. Walter, a political
scientist at the University of California,
San Diego, has found that extremists
tend to prevail in civil war, and to do better as the war drags on. If the Americans
exit Afghanistan, it might not be for
The likeliest outcome may be allowing
the status quo to continue, even as all
sides suffer under rising violence.
Neither the government nor the Taliban are strong enough to retake control. Outside actors like the United
States and Pakistan may be unable to
impose their vision of victory, but they
can forestall losing indefinitely.
Foreign aid can sustain the government, even as its control of the country
shrinks. There is little to stop the Taliban
from carrying out ever more brazen attacks in the capital. The death toll, already high, would probably rise.
Eventually, the stalemate would almost certainly break, hurtling Afghanistan into one of its possible endgames.
But it is difficult to say when.
“It’s hard to think of an analogous
case,” said Ms. Brown, the Carnegie Afghanistan expert.
Few modern wars have raged this
long, this destructively and with this
much outside intervention. If there is an
obvious way out, history does not provide it.
Latinos find ties to Native American slavery
captives sought to escape their debased
status, linguists trace the origins of the
word Genízaro to the Ottoman Empire’s
janissaries, the special soldier class of
Christians from the Balkans who converted to Islam, and were sometimes referred to as slaves.
Moisés Gonzáles, a Genízaro professor of architecture at the University of
New Mexico, has identified an array of
Genízaro outposts that endure in the
state, including the villages Las Trampas and San Miguel del Vado. Some preserve traditions that reflect their
Genízaro origins, and like other products of colonialism, many are cultural
amalgams of customs and motifs from
sharply disparate worlds.
Each December in the village of Alcalde, for instance, performers in headdresses stage the Matachines dance,
thought by scholars to fuse the theme of
Revelations have fueled
a debate over identity
in the state of New Mexico
Lenny Trujillo made a startling discovery when he began researching his descent from one of New Mexico’s pioneering Hispanic families: One of his ancestors was a slave.
“I didn’t know about New Mexico’s
slave trade, so I was just stunned,” said
Mr. Trujillo, 66, a retired postal worker
who lives in Los Angeles. “Then I discovered how slavery was a defining feature of my family’s history.”
Mr. Trujillo is one of many Latinos
who are finding ancestral connections to
a flourishing slave trade on the bloodsoaked frontier now known as the American Southwest. Their captive forebears
were Native Americans — slaves frequently known as Genízaros (pronounced heh-NEE-sah-ros) who were
sold to Hispanic families when the region was under Spanish control from the
16th to 19th centuries. Many Indian
slaves remained in bondage when Mexico and later the United States governed
New Mexico.
The revelations have prompted some
painful personal reckonings over identity and heritage. But they have also fueled a larger, politically charged debate
on what it means to be Hispanic and Native American.
A growing number of Latinos who
have made such discoveries are embracing their indigenous backgrounds,
challenging a long tradition in New
Mexico in which families prize Spanish
ancestry. Some are starting to identify
as Genízaros. Historians estimate that
Genízaros accounted for as much as
one-third of New Mexico’s population of
29,000 in the late 18th century.
“We’re discovering things that complicate the hell out of our history, demanding that we reject the myths we’ve
been taught,” said Gregorio Gonzáles,
29, an anthropologist and self-described
Genízaro who writes about the legacies
of Indian enslavement.
Those legacies were born of a tortuous story of colonial conquest and
forced assimilation.
New Mexico, which had the largest
number of sedentary Indians north of
central Mexico, emerged as a coveted
domain for slavers almost as soon as the
Spanish began settling in the state in the
16th century, according to Andrés
Reséndez, a historian who details the
trade in his 2016 book, “The Other Slavery.” Colonists initially took local Pueblo
Indians as slaves, leading to an uprising
in 1680 that temporarily pushed the
Spanish out of New Mexico.
The trade then evolved to include not
just Hispanic traffickers but horsemounted Comanche and Ute warriors,
who raided the settlements of Apache,
Kiowa, Jumano, Pawnee and other peoples. They took captives, many of them
children plucked from their homes, and
sold them at auctions in village plazas.
The Spanish crown tried to prohibit
slavery in its colonies, but traffickers often circumvented the ban by labeling
their captives in parish records as criados, or servants. The trade endured
even decades after the Mexican-American War, when the United States took
control of much of the Southwest in the
Seeking to strengthen the 13th
Amendment, which abolished slavery in
1865, Congress passed the Peonage Act
of 1867 after learning of propertied New
Mexicans owning hundreds and perhaps thousands of Indian slaves, mainly
Navajo women and children. But schol-
“Who’s to say that the
descendants of Genízaros, of
people who were once slaves,
can’t reclaim their culture?”
Brienna Martinez, 8, performing in Alcalde, N.M. Many in the state who identify as Latino are also descended from Native American slaves sold to Hispanic families.
St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Abiquiú, N.M., a village settled by Native American
slaves when the region was under Spanish control from the 16th to 19th centuries.
ars say the measure, which specifically
targeted New Mexico, did little for many
slaves in the territory.
Many Hispanic families in New Mexico have long known that they had indigenous ancestry, even though some here
still call themselves “Spanish” to emphasize their Iberian ties and to differentiate themselves from the state’s 23
federally recognized tribes, as well as
from Mexican and other Latin American
But genetic testing is offering a
glimpse into a more complex story. The
DNA of Hispanic people from New Mexico is often in the range of 30 percent to
40 percent Native American, according
to Miguel A. Tórrez, 42, a research technologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and one of New Mexico’s most
prominent genealogists.
He and other researchers cross-reference DNA tests with baptismal records,
marriage certificates, census reports,
oral histories, ethnomusicology findings, land titles and other archival documents.
Mr. Tórrez’s own look into his origins
shows how these searches can produce
unexpected results. He found one ancestor who was probably Ojibwe, from
lands around the Great Lakes, roughly a
thousand miles away, and another of
Greek origin among the early colonizers
claiming New Mexico for Spain.
“I have Navajo, Chippewa, Greek and
Spanish blood lines,” said Mr. Tórrez,
who calls himself a mestizo, a term referring to mixed ancestry. “I can’t say
I’m indigenous any more than I can say
I’m Greek, but it’s both fascinating and
disturbing to see how various cultures
Floyd E. Trujillo, center, and his son Virgil, right, with Miguel A. Tórrez, a genealogist.
The DNA of New Mexico Hispanics is often 30 percent to 40 percent Native American.
came together in New Mexico.”
Revelations about how Indian enslavement was a defining feature of colonial New Mexico can be unsettling for
some in the state, where the authorities
have often tried to perpetuate a narrative of relatively peaceful coexistence
between Hispanics, Indians and Anglos,
as non-Hispanic whites are generally
called here.
Pointing to their history, some descendants of Genízaros are coming together to argue that they deserve the
same recognition as Native American
tribes. One such group in Colorado, the
200-member Genízaro Affiliated Nations, organizes annual dances to commemorate their heritage.
“It’s not about blood quantum or DNA
testing for us, since those things can be
inaccurate measuring sticks,” said Da-
vid Atekpatzin Young, 62, the organization’s tribal chairman, who traces his ancestry to Apache and Pueblo peoples.
“We know who we are, and what we
want is sovereignty and our land back.”
Some here object to calling Genízaros
slaves, arguing that the authorities in
New Mexico were relatively flexible in
absorbing Indian captives. In an important distinction with African slavery in
parts of the Americas, Genízaros could
sometimes attain economic independence and even assimilate into the dominant Hispanic classes, taking the surnames of their masters and embracing
Roman Catholicism.
Genízaros and their offspring sometimes escaped or served out their terms
of service, then banded together to forge
buffer settlements against Comanche
raids. Offering insight into how Indian
Moorish-Christian conflict in medieval
Spain with indigenous symbolism evoking the Spanish conquest of the New
In Abiquiú, settled by Genízaros in the
18th century, people don face paint and
feathers every November to perform a
“captive dance” about the village’s Indian origins — on a day honoring a Catholic saint.
“Some Natives say those in Abiquiú
are pretend Indians,” said Mr. Tórrez,
the genealogist. “But who’s to say that
the descendants of Genízaros, of people
who were once slaves, can’t reclaim
their culture?”
Efforts by some Genízaro descendants to call themselves Indians instead
of Latinos point to a broader debate over
how Native Americans are identified, involving often contentious factors like
tribal membership, what constitutes indigenous cultural practices and the light
skin color of some Hispanics with Native ancestry. Some Native Americans
also chafe at the gains some Hispanics
in New Mexico have sought by prioritizing their ancestral ties to European colonizers.
Pointing to the breadth of the Southwest’s slave trade, some historians have
also documented how Hispanic settlers
were captured and enslaved by Native
American traffickers, and sometimes
went on to embrace the cultures of their
Comanche, Pueblo or Navajo masters.
Kim TallBear, an anthropologist at the
University of Alberta, cautioned against
using DNA testing alone to determine
indigenous identity. She emphasized
that such tests can point generally to
Native ancestry somewhere in the
Americas while failing to pinpoint specific tribal origins.
“There’s a conflation of race and tribe
that’s infuriating, really,” said Ms. TallBear, a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribe of South Dakota who
writes about tribal belonging and genetic testing. “I don’t think ancestry alone
is sufficient to define someone as indigenous.”
The discovery of indigenous slave ancestry can be anything but straightforward, as Mr. Trujillo, the former postal
worker, learned.
First, he found his connection to a
Genízaro man in the village of Abiquiú.
Delving further into 18th century baptismal records, he then found that his
ancestor somehow broke away from
forced servitude to purchase three
slaves of his own.
“I was just blown away to find that I
had a slaver and slaves in my family
tree,” Mr. Trujillo said. “That level of
complexity is too much for some people,
but it’s part of the story of who I am.”
White House presses for new options on North Korea
The Pentagon press secretary, Dana
W. White, said that Mr. Mattis “regularly
provides the president with a deep arsenal of military options” and that reports of a delay were “false.” General
Dunford’s press secretary, Col. Patrick
S. Ryer, said: “General Dunford regularly provides the best military advice in
a timely and responsive manner. Suggestions to the contrary are inaccurate.”
During a visit in October to the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas, Mr. Mattis confronted the central
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gressive. For now, the frustration at the
White House appears to be limited to
senior officials rather than Mr. Trump
himself. But the president has shown
impatience with his military leaders on
other issues, notably the debate over
whether to deploy additional American
troops to Afghanistan.
As they examine the most effective
way of giving credibility to Mr. Trump’s
threat of “fire and fury,” officials are considering the feasibility of a preventive
strike that could include disabling a missile on the launchpad or destroying
North Korea’s entire nuclear infrastructure. American officials are also said to
be considering covert means of disabling the nuclear and missile programs.
While General McMaster also favors
a diplomatic solution to the impasse, officials said, he emphasizes to colleagues
that past efforts to negotiate with North
Korea have forced the United States to
make unacceptable concessions.
The Pentagon has a different view.
Mr. Mattis and the chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford
Jr., argue forcefully for using diplomacy.
They have repeatedly warned, in meetings and on video conference calls, that
there are few, if any, military options
that would not provoke retaliation from
North Korea, according to officials at the
Defense Department. Representatives
of Mr. Mattis and General Dunford denied that they have slow-walked options
to the White House.
There are few, if any, military
options that would not provoke
retaliation from North Korea, the
Pentagon warns.
contradiction in the Trump administration’s bellicose language: Virtually any
military option would put the sprawling
city of Seoul, with its population of 10
million, in the cross hairs of North Korea’s artillery guns.
At times, South Korea’s defense minister, Song Young-moo, appeared to be
giving Mr. Mattis a guided tour of how a
strike against North Korea’s nuclear facilities would quickly trigger extensive
Even the most limited strike, the socalled bloody nose option, risks what
one Defense Department official called
an unacceptably high number of casualties. Mr. Cha, writing in The Washington Post, said the premise of such a
strike — that it would jolt Mr. Kim into
recognizing that the United States was
serious, and draw him back to the bargaining table — was flawed.
“If we believe that Kim is undeterrable without such a strike, how can
we also believe that a strike will deter
him from responding in kind?” Mr. Cha
wrote. “And if Kim is unpredictable, impulsive and bordering on irrational, how
can we control the escalation ladder,
which is premised on an adversary’s rational understanding of signals and deterrence?”
Friends said Mr. Cha pressed that
case in meetings at the Pentagon, the
United States Pacific Command, the
State Department and the National Security Council. He passed along articles
critical of preventive military action by
two colleagues: John J. Hamre, the president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Michael J.
Green, a senior fellow at the center who
worked in the George W. Bush administration, as did Mr. Cha.
Mr. Green warned against a preventive strike in testimony on Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. He said there appeared to be little support for it, even among normally
hawkish Republicans like Senators Tom
Cotton of Arkansas, Joni Ernst of Iowa
and Dan Sullivan of Alaska.
Even the White House has struggled
to send a consistent message. In the
week after Mr. Trump issued his threat
to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea,
Stephen K. Bannon, then his chief strat-
Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, left, the American national security adviser, with President
Trump during a meeting in November with the South Korean president in Seoul.
egist, told a progressive journalist,
“There’s no military solution. Forget it.”
“Until somebody solves the part of the
equation that shows me that 10 million
people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30
minutes from conventional weapons,”
he said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Mr. Bannon’s bluntness angered
other White House officials and hastened his exit from the White House. But
there is evidence that General McMas-
ter shares those concerns. Asked by a
reporter in August whether there was
any military option that would not put
Seoul in North Korea’s cross hairs, he
paused briefly, then said, “No.”
With as many as 8,000 artillery pieces
and rocket launchers positioned along
its border with the South, North Korea
could rain up to 300,000 rounds on the
South in the first hour of a counterattack.
While that arsenal is of limited range
and could be destroyed in days, North
Korea would still have time to cause
widespread destruction. In a rare appearance last year on the CBS News
program “Face the Nation,” Mr. Mattis
warned that war with North Korea
would be “catastrophic” — “probably
the worst kind of fighting in most people’s lifetimes.”
That does not mean the military has
not begun preparing for that possibility.
At multiple Army bases across the country this month, more than 1,000 reserve
officers are practicing how to set up socalled mobilization centers, which move
reservists overseas in a hurry.
But as the military gears up, Mr.
Tillerson continues to look for a diplomatic channel to North Korea. State Department officials say the United States
has far from exhausted its nonmilitary
options for pressuring Pyongyang. It
could, for example, push to expel North
Korea from the United Nations or interdict ships that it suspects are violating
sanctions against the government.
Neither Mr. Tillerson nor Mr. Mattis
has broken with the White House on the
issue of a preventive strike. That is because for now, they still view it as a useful tool in deterring North Korea, according to people briefed by the administration. More important, they continue
to be confident that, despite their anxieties, cooler heads with eventually prevail.
Adam Goldman, Eric Schmitt and David
E. Sanger contributed reporting.
science lab
Elephants are scared of bees. That could save their lives.
Elephants are afraid of bees. The largest animal on land is
so terrified of a tiny insect that it will flap its ears, stir up
dust and make noises when it hears the buzz of a beehive.
Of course, a bee’s stinger can’t penetrate the thick hide of
an elephant. But when bees swarm — and African bees
swarm aggressively — hundreds might sting in its most
sensitive areas: the trunk, mouth and eyes.
Elephants’ fear of bees is being used by conservationists
to help prevent the kinds of conflict that put the behemoths
at risk. The endangered animals have been shot by farmers
trying to save their crops from elephants foraging, or by
poachers allowed access to help guard the fields.
Now there’s a weapon — and a mutually beneficial one
— in conservationists’ arsenal. In recent years, researchers
and advocates have persuaded farmers to use the elephant’s fear of bees as a fence line to protect crops.
By stringing beehives every 20 meters — alternating
with fake hives — a team of researchers in Africa has
shown that they can keep 80 percent of elephants away
from farmland. KAREN WEINTRAUB
‘I don’t think it would
be advisable to anyone
to even think about it.’
Description released
of giant turtle’s killer:
11.5 feet long, big teeth
Shoukhrat Mitalipov, of Oregon Health
and Science University, on the prospects
for human cloning after Chinese
researchers cloned monkeys.
Aldabra Atoll, an island in the Indian
Ocean, is now a predator-free paradise
for 100,000 giant tortoises. Gone are
the seafarers who overhunted them to
near extinction. Gone too are the large
crocodiles that may have preyed upon
them in prehistoric times, as a new
study suggests.
Dennis Hansen, a University of
Zurich ecologist, was exploring the
coral atoll and its azure lagoon when
Swat that mosquito?
Nah, just treat it
to a gentle breeze
A bee’s sting won’t hurt an
elephant’s tough hide, but
bees can swarm and wound
more sensitive places like the
trunk, eyes and mouth.
he came across fossils that intrigued
him. They included parts of a giant
tortoise shell with circular bite marks
and the jaw of an ancient crocodilian.
He and a colleague concluded that
90,000 to 125,000 years ago, the ancient
crocodiles may have feasted upon the
giant tortoises of Aldabra.
The remains suggested they belonged to crocodiles that were about
11.5 feet long.
The finding may offer new insights
into the ancient past of the world’s
most numerous giant tortoise and the
threats it once faced from their longago predators. NICHOLAS ST. FLEUR
The best way to elude
a cheetah on your tail?
Exit stage right, or left
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Imagine you’re in a high-speed
car chase. You’re fast, but the
Lamborghini behind you is faster.
Flooring it and going in a straight
line only spells certain defeat. So
what’s your best bet for escape?
If you keep swatting at a mosquito,
will it leave you alone?
Some scientists think so. But it
Some blood meals are worth a
mosquito’s risking its life. But if
there’s a more attractive or accepting
alternative to feed from, a mosquito
may move on to that someone or
something instead. That’s because if
you keep trying and missing, the
mosquito may learn to associate
your swatting vibrations with your
scent, a new study suggests. And it
just may remember: This is not a
person who will tolerate me.
Remembering the smell of a particularly defensive individual with a
propensity to swat is important for a
bug’s survival. JOANNA KLEIN
Drive along, not too quickly,
and just as the other car is about
to close in, make a sharp turn.
That’s the suggestion of a new
study, although instead of cars it
looked at high-speed pursuits in
Botswana between two pairs of
predator and prey: cheetahs and
impalas, and lions and zebras.
The study, led by Alan Wilson
(above, with some racers at
ease) of the Royal Veterinary
College in London, observed
thousands of runs of cheetahs,
impalas, lions and zebras.
The model showed that impalas and zebras have the best
chance of making a getaway if
they run at moderate speeds,
because that leaves more options
for maneuvering away at the last
second. STEPH YIN
Daily nuggets of science for mobile readers:
Plastic by the ton litters
coral reefs in Asia Pacific
Joleah Lamb began her career as a
coral biologist on the Great Barrier
Reef, off Australia. Every now and
then she’d note a scrap of plastic as
she swam through. But when she
started studying reefs in Asia, she
came across a much higher level of
“I don’t even know how to record
this!” she recalls thinking. “It’s a
chair! Where do I put ‘chair’? Or
Left, a plastic bottle wedged in coral on
the Great Barrier Reef of Australia;
above, spawning coral wrapped in plastic.
diaper? Or bottle?”
Over the years, Dr. Lamb, now a
professor at Cornell University, and
her collaborators assembled a database of plastic pollution on 159 reefs in
Australia, Indonesia, Myanmar and
In a new paper, they estimate that
reefs across the Asia-Pacific region are
littered with more than 11 billion pieces
of plastic larger than five centimeters.
The researchers found that corals with
plastic on them were 20 times more
likely to be diseased than those without. VERONIQUE GREENWOOD
Trump effect
on economy
stock market’s rise over the past year.
The rest is because of other factors,
which may include Mr. Trump’s probusiness outlook but also many things
beyond his control.
Stock market valuations are reaching lofty levels by many measures, and
those gains may prove ephemeral if
growth doesn’t live up to investors’
rosy expectations. “The value of the
stock market isn’t an indicator of the
economic health of America,” Professor Slemrod noted.
James B. Stewart
Most American presidents at some
point benefit from a surging economy
and stock market, but none has
claimed more credit for them than
Donald J. Trump, as he did again during the past week’s State of the Union
address. Among the highlights:
• Stock market gains of “$8 trillion and
• Since his election, “2.4 million new
jobs” created.
• “Over three million workers have
gotten tax-cut bonuses,” and workers
are seeing “rising wages.”
• All thanks to “the biggest tax cuts
and reforms in American history.”
Tending a rice field next to the site of the Long Phu 1 coal-fired power plant in Vietnam. The Export-Import Bank of the United States is considering a request to assist the project.
Vietnam, U.S., Russia and coal
A power project seeking
American money raises
issues on several fronts
Construction workers on a lunch break. The Long Phu 1 project is part of a burst of spending in Vietnam to meet rising electricity needs.
Thai Thuy Hang, who opened a restaurant near the plant site, said she planned to
recoup her $9,000 investment within a year. “No one likes risk like me,” she said.
December that it would mostly stop
funding oil and gas projects after 2019.
Criticized by environmentalists after
approving tens of billions of dollars in financing related to fossil fuels, the
Obama administration said in 2013 that
it would restrict support for overseas
coal projects. UK Export Finance, Britain’s export credit agency, rejected financing for Long Phu 1 because of the
British government’s climate change
priorities, a spokeswoman said.
The timing of a decision on the project
is unclear. In December a Senate panel
rejected Scott Garrett, a critic of the Export-Import Bank, as President Trump’s
nominee to lead it. But four other board
nominees are expected to go to the full
Senate for confirmation, potentially enabling the board to begin making new financing deals — more than two years after political fighting over the agency left
its work at a standstill.
Vietnam sees coal as central to its energy needs. Long Phu 1, which is being
built by PetroVietnam, a state energy
company, would be the first element of a
three-plant complex. It would burn coal
from Australia or Indonesia.
Several advocacy groups say that
PetroVietnam’s environmental due diligence underestimated the project’s
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The towering lattice of blue steel girders
rising above banana and lemongrass
crops near Vietnam’s southern coast
stands as public testament to the country’s drive to burn coal.
With help from a Kremlin-connected
Russian bank, Vietnam is building a
coal-fired power plant called Long Phu 1
that will generate enough electricity to
power millions of homes while producing an estimated 5.4 million tons of
carbon dioxide a year.
But the project needs something else
first: help from the United States government. The plant’s state-controlled
owner has applied for assistance with
the project from the Export-Import
Bank of the United States. If the bank
agrees, American taxpayers will shoulder the financial risk of Vietnam’s purchase of millions of dollars’ worth of turbines and other equipment from General Electric.
The bank has not yet decided whether
it will back the project. If it did, it would
show that the Trump administration’s
commitment to using more coal at home
also extended overseas. Critics say it
would also challenge a growing global
consensus that developed nations and
groups like the World Bank should stop
funding highly polluting energy projects
in developing countries. Britain’s equivalent of the Export-Import Bank has already declined to participate in the
In addition, the Export-Import Bank
would be providing American backing
for a project partly funded by a Russian
bank that has endured sanctions by the
United States government since 2014 because of Moscow’s military intervention
in Ukraine.
Support within the Export-Import
Bank is not clear. In a statement, the
bank said it was reviewing the application to determine whether it complied
with international rules and the bank’s
environmental policy.
Analysts say the deal would almost
certainly be structured so that neither
Export-Import Bank nor any American
companies were in direct contact with
the Russian bank, Vnesheconombank,
also known as VEB. The project’s backers in the United States and Vietnam say
it would generate employment in both
“Our work on the Long Phu project
supports the Vietnamese government’s
goal of bringing power to approximately
four million Vietnamese people, while
also supporting hundreds of U.S. jobs,”
said Una Pulizzi, a General Electric
In Vietnam, the project is part of a
burst of spending to meet rising electricity needs and support a fast-growing
economy. Thai Thuy Hang, for example,
opened a restaurant near the construction site several months ago. Now she
serves humble fare like rice and chicken
feet to hungry construction workers.
She said that she planned to recoup her
$9,000 investment within a year — even
if the project ran into problems.
“No one likes risk like me,” she said.
Developing countries building fossilfuel projects have found that the number of places they can turn to for help
has dwindled.
The World Bank, which earlier restricted funding for coal projects, said in
Since the president has frequently
complained that the media denies him
credit for any of this, I thought it only
fair to assess the degree to which the
undeniably strong economy, low unemployment and surging stock market
are because of Mr. Trump’s achievements, notably his sweeping tax bill.
It turns out that’s no easy task,
especially since Mr. Trump has been
president for only a year and the tax
legislation is little more than a month
old. Economists are still debating the
impact of Ronald Reagan’s 1986 tax
reform legislation more than 30 years
after its passage.
“It’s not like chemistry or physics,
where you can do a controlled experiment and change one variable,” said
Joel Slemrod, professor of economics
and public policy at the University of
Michigan, and co-author of a seminal
study of the effects of the 1986 tax
reform act. “We can never be entirely
sure because we don’t know what
would have happened without the tax
Even so, “there are specific things
that are hard to imagine being attributed to anything else” other than the tax
legislation, said Alan Auerbach, professor of economics and law at the University of California, Berkeley, and
Professor Slemrod’s co-author on the
study of the 1986 reform.
With that in mind, here’s a look at
the major areas where Mr. Trump
claims credit.
likely carbon footprint. They also say
the project is not clean enough to meet
new guidelines from the Organization
for Economic Cooperation and Development, or O.E.C.D., a group of developed
nations that includes the United States
and that has tried to curb lending by
government-owned export credit agencies to certain types of coal projects.
By approving the project, the United
States would be “thumbing our nose to
all the other countries that have striven
so hard to reach this agreement,” said
Doug Norlen, the director of economic
policy at Friends of the Earth, a nonprofit group that opposes Long Phu 1.
The final impact assessment for the
project was submitted to the Export-Import Bank in December 2016, days before the O.E.C.D. guidelines took effect.
The company’s supporters say the timing exempts the project from the guidelines.
The project’s Russian backer, VEB,
has also come under criticism. The bank
is under sanctions that effectively prevent it from taking on new business in
the United States. It is also part of a federal investigation into possible collusion
between the Trump campaign and the
Russian government. While there is no
suggestion that the Vietnamese coal
plant is linked to that investigation, critics say Washington would be sending
mixed messages if the Export-Import
Bank approved a project backed by the
Russian bank.
“It’s striking in some ways to me that
this is a project the Trump administration might pursue,” said Brian O’Toole, a
former Treasury official who helped design American sanctions on Russia. “If
you hold Russia accountable, you don’t
do stuff like this with them.”
VEB did not respond to an emailed list
of questions.
Activists who oppose the project also
say that by approving it the Export-Import Bank would risk violating an
O.E.C.D. convention designed to prevent export credit agencies from forming a partnership with corrupt foreign
officials. Last month, Dinh La Thang,
PetroVietnam’s former chairman, was
sentenced to 13 years in prison for economic mismanagement, in an anticorruption push that experts widely regard
as more a reflection of political infighting than a desire to eliminate graft in
Vietnam, a one-party state.
Mat Tromme, a senior research fellow
at the Bingham Center for the Rule of
Law in London who previously worked
on anticorruption projects in Vietnam,
said that proving a violation of the
O.E.C.D. convention could be difficult
because its definition of corruption can
be vague.
But he said that it was “relatively
easy” to see how the case could fall
within the convention’s provisions, and
that the Export-Import Bank might feel
pressure from export credit agencies in
countries like Britain, Canada and Germany that have what he called “tough”
positions against bribery and corruption.
PetroVietnam officials did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The Export-Import Bank said it would
consider any evidence of mismanagement.
Le Thi Tam, who lives nearby, said
that officials had paid her about $2,400
to relinquish her farmland on what is
now the project site. Pollution from the
plant is a concern, Ms. Tam said, but that
is hardly worth complaining about.
“It’s government policy,” she said.
“Who can argue with that?”
The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index
rose 23 percent during Mr. Trump’s
first year in office, an increase surpassed only during the administrations
of Franklin Roosevelt and Barack
Obama, both Democrats who took
office in the wake of financial crises
and stock market crashes. Mr. Trump’s
policies and Republicans in Congress
deserve some credit, given that economists expect the cut in corporate taxes
to raise company earnings, and stock
prices are fundamentally a reflection of
earnings expectations.
“There’s no question after-tax earnings will be higher” thanks to the tax
legislation, Professor Slemrod said.
But the estimated impact on aftertax earnings — a range of 7 percent to
10 percent, according to most economists — accounts for less than half the
Gross domestic product grew by 2.3
percent last year, lower than Mr.
Trump’s predictions of 3-plus percent,
but significantly better than the 1.6
percent growth in 2016, Mr. Obama’s
last year in office.
As should be obvious, passage of the
Republican tax legislation was too
recent to have had any impact on those
numbers. To the extent that expectations of tax reform fueled investment
decisions, they may have had some
effect, but that’s nearly impossible to
The first real clues will come next
year, when 2018 gross domestic product numbers are released. The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the new tax legislation would raise G.D.P. by seventenths of a percent over what it would
have been under the old law.
“The economy has been strong, and
forecasts for next year have been
bumped up due to the tax cut, ” said
Professor Auerbach. “But there’s a lot
going on. You won’t be able to tell what
the impact is from just a few quarters.”
Even 10 years after the 1986 law, “it
was very difficult to tease out the
impact of tax reform on the economy,”
he said. “The best estimate is it didn’t
have much effect.”
Many companies have been doling out
bonuses to employees since the tax
legislation passed, but “I don’t think
that tells us anything,” Professor Slemrod said. That’s because in standard
economic theory, labor market conditions dictate employee compensation
levels, not cash flow or profitability.
“The labor market was strengthening long before Mr. Trump was
elected or the tax bill was passed,”
Professor Slemrod said. “If companies
were going to raise wages anyway to
stay competitive, they have a public
relations incentive to attribute it to tax
Wage growth actually slowed during
the first year of Mr. Trump’s presidency compared with the last year of Mr.
Mr. Auerbach added that given the
length of the recovery and low levels of
unemployment, many economists
“have been wondering why we haven’t
seen stronger wage growth” as competition for labor heats up. “Now we may
be starting to see it.”
Much the same can be said about
unemployment, which fell to 4.1 percent from 4.7 percent during Mr.
Trump’s first year as president, and
which also reflects the tight labor
market conditions that have been
developing for years. The unemployment rate fell much more during the
Obama years (three full percentage
points, from when Mr. Obama took
office, inheriting a severe recession,
until when he left).
In any event, it’s far too soon to
evaluate Mr. Trump’s impact on the
labor market. Economists generally
agree that at least some of the Republican tax cuts will flow through to workers, although there are widely differing
projections about how much, and most
say the largest share will go to shareholders in the form of dividends, stock
buybacks and higher share prices.
Professor Slemrod said we may never
know for sure, but “in five or six years
we may be able to tell if some of the
more extreme claims are reasonable.”
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Building a virtual utopia in Puerto Rico
ten on a firm grounding mat to stay in
contact with the earth’s electric energy.
Josh Boles, a tall, athletic man who is another crypto-investor, picked him up
and the group headed to the Monastery.
They walked past a big pink building
in an old town square, the start of their
vision for Puertopia’s downtown. Once a
children’s museum, they plan on making
it a crypto-clubhouse and outreach center that will “bring together Puerto Ricans with Puertopians.”
So this crypto-community flocked to
Puerto Rico to create its paradise. Now
the investors are spending their days
hunting for property where they could
have their own airports and docks. They
are taking over hotels and a museum in
the capital’s historic section, Old San
Juan. They say they are close to getting
the local government to allow them to
have the first cryptocurrency bank.
“What’s happened here is a perfect
storm,” said Halsey Minor, the founder
of the news site CNET, who is moving
his new blockchain company — called
Videocoin — from the Cayman Islands
to Puerto Rico this winter. Referring to
Hurricane Maria and the investment interest that has followed, he added,
“While it was really bad for the people of
Puerto Rico, in the long term it’s a godsend if people look past that.”
Puerto Rico offers an unparalleled tax
incentive: no federal personal income
taxes, no capital gains tax and favorable
business taxes — all without having to
renounce your American citizenship.
For now, the island’s government seems
receptive toward the crypto-utopians;
the governor will speak at their
blockchain summit conference, called
Puerto Crypto, in March.
The territory’s go-to blockchain tax
lawyer is Giovanni Mendez, 30. He expected the tax migrants to disappear after Hurricane Maria, but the population
has instead boomed.
“It’s increased monumentally,” said
Mr. Mendez.
The movement is alarming an earlier
generation of Puerto Rico tax migrants
like the hedge fund manager Robb Rill,
who runs a social group for those taking
advantage of the tax incentives.
“They call me up saying they’re going
to buy 250,000 acres so they can incorporate their own city, literally start a city
in Puerto Rico to have their own cryptoworld,” said Mr. Rill, who moved to the
island in 2013. “I can’t engage in that.”
The newcomers are still debating the
exact shape that Puertopia should take.
Some think they need to make a city;
others think it’s enough to move into Old
San Juan. Puertopians said, however,
that they hoped to move very fast.
“You’ve never seen an industry catalyze a place like you’re going to see
here,” Mr. Minor said.
Until the Puertopians find land, they
have descended on the Monastery, a
20,000-square-foot hotel they rented as
their base and that was largely unscathed by the hurricane.
Matt Clemenson and Stephen Morris
were drinking beer on the Monastery’s
roof one recent evening. Mr. Clemenson
had an easygoing attitude and wore twotone aviators; Mr. Morris, a loquacious
British man, was in cargo shorts and
lace-up steel-toed combat boots, with a
smartphone on a necklace. They wanted
to make two things clear: They chose
Puerto Rico because of the hurricane,
and they come in peace.
“It’s only when everything’s been
swept away that you can make a case for
rebuilding from the ground up,” Mr.
Morris, 53, said.
“We’re benevolent capitalists, building a benevolent economy,” said Mr.
Old San Juan, P.R., seen from the Monastery, a hotel the entrepreneurs have rented as their base. Below, Brock Pierce, center, with Josh Boles, left, and Matt Clemenson.
Clemenson, 34, a co-founder of, which is using the blockchain
in lotteries. “Puerto Rico has been this
hidden gem, this enchanted island that’s
been consistently overlooked and mistreated. Maybe 500 years later we can
make it right.”
Other Puertopians arrived on the roof
as a pack, just back from a full-day property-hunting bus tour. From the middle,
Brock Pierce, 37, the leader of the Puertopia movement, emerged wearing drop
crotch capri pants, a black vest that almost hit his knees and a large black felt
hat. He and others had arrived on the island in early December.
transparency,” Mr. Pierce said when
asked what was guiding them here.
Mr. Pierce, the director of the Bitcoin
Foundation, is a major figure in the
blockchain-for-business start-up, Block.One, which has sold around $200 million of a custom virtual currency, EOS, in
a so-called initial coin offering. The value of all the outstanding EOS tokens is
around $6.5 billion.
A former child actor, Mr. Pierce got
into digital money early as a professional gamer, mining and trading gold in
the video game World of Warcraft, an effort funded partly by Stephen K. Bannon, the former Trump adviser. Mr.
Pierce is a controversial figure — he has
previously been sued for fraud, among
other matters.
Downstairs, in the Monastery penthouse, a dozen or so others were hanging out. The water was out that night, so
the toilets and faucets were dry. Mr. Minor lounged on a chaise.
“The U.S. doesn’t want us. It’s trying
to choke off this economy,” Mr. Minor
said, referring to the difficulties that
cryptocurrency investors have with
American banks. “There needs to be a
place where people are free to invent.”
Mr. Pierce paced the room with his
hands in fists. A few times a day, he
played a video for the group on his
phone and a portable speaker: Charlie
Chaplin’s 1940 “The Great Dictator,” in
which Chaplin parodies Hitler rallying
his forces. He finds inspiration in lines
like “More than machinery, we need humanity.”
“I’m worried people are going to misinterpret our actions,” Mr. Pierce said.
“That we’re just coming to Puerto Rico
to dodge taxes.”
He said he was aiming to create a
charitable token called ONE with $1 billion of his own money. “If you take the
MY out of money, you’re left with ONE,”
Mr. Pierce said.
“He’s tuned into a higher calling,” said
Kai Nygard, scion of the Canadian clothing company Nygard and a crypto-investor. “He’s beyond money.”
The force of Mr. Pierce’s personality
and his spiritual presence are important
to the group, whose members are otherwise largely agnostic. Mr. Pierce regu-
Workdays are casual in Puertopia. One
morning, Bryan Larkin, 39, and Reeve
Collins, 42, were working at another old
hotel, the Condado Vanderbilt, where
they had their laptops on a pool bar with
frozen piña coladas on tap.
“We’re going to make this cryptoland,” Mr. Larkin said.
Mr. Larkin has mined about $2 billion
in Bitcoin and is the chief technology officer of Blockchain Industries, a publicly
traded company based in Puerto Rico.
Mr. Collins, an internet veteran, had
raised more than $20 million from an initial coin offering for BlockV, his app
store for the blockchain, whose outstanding tokens are worth about $125
million. He had also co-founded Tether,
which backs cryptocurrency tied to the
value of a dollar and whose outstanding
tokens are worth about $2.1 billion,
though the company has generated
enormous controversy.
“So, no. No, I don’t want to pay taxes,”
Mr. Collins said. “This is the first time in
human history anyone other than kings
or governments or gods can create their
own money.”
He had moved from Santa Monica,
Calif., with just a few bags and was now
starting a local cryptocurrency incubator called Vatom Factory.
“When Brock said, ‘We’re moving to
Puerto Rico for the taxes and to create
this new town,’ I said, ‘I’m in,’ ” Mr.
Collins said. “Sight unseen.”
larly performs rituals. Earlier that day
while scoping out property, they had
stopped at a historic Ceiba tree, known
as the Tree of Life.
“Brock nestled into the bosom of it
and was there for 10 minutes,” Mr. Nygard said.
Mr. Pierce walked around the tree and
said prayers for Puertopia, holding a
rusted wrench he had picked up in the
territory. He kissed an old man’s feet. He
blessed a crystal in the water. He played
the Chaplin speech to everyone and to
the tree, Mr. Nygard said.
That wrench is now in the penthouse,
heavy and greasy.
Later on, at a dinner in a nearby
restaurant, the group ordered platters of
octopus arms, fried cheese, ceviche and
rum cocktails. They began debating
whether to buy Puerto Rico’s Roosevelt
Roads Naval Station, which measures
9,000 acres and has two deepwater
ports and an adjacent airport. The only
hitch: It’s a Superfund cleanup site.
Mr. Pierce had fallen asleep by then,
his hat tilted down and arms crossed. He
gets two hours of sleep many nights, of-
All across San Juan, many locals are trying to figure out what to do with the
Some are open to the new wave as a
welcome infusion of investment and
“We’re open for crypto-business,”
said Erika Medina-Vecchini, the chief
business development officer for the
Department of Economic Development
and Commerce, in an interview at her office. She said her office was starting an
ad campaign aimed at the new boom in
migrating crypto-investors, with the
tagline “Paradise Performs.”
Others worry about the island’s being
used for an experiment and talk about
“crypto-colonialism.” At a house party in
San Juan, Richard Lopez, 32, who runs a
pizza restaurant, Estella, in the town of
Arecibo, said: “I think it’s great. Lure
them in with taxes, and they’ll spend
Andria Satz, 33, who grew up in Old
San Juan and works for the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico, disagreed.
“We’re the tax playground for the
rich,” she said. “We’re the test case for
anyone who wants to experiment. Outsiders get tax exemptions, and locals
can’t get permits.”
Outrage in France after babies get sick despite formula recall
.C ha ГР
O t's У
/W e П
SN s" Ы
When the French dairy giant Lactalis
began recalling baby formula, Ségolène
Noviant thought she was safe. The milk
she had been feeding her 5-month-old
son was not on the list.
Then her son, Noan, was rushed to the
emergency room with a fever, diarrhea
and internal bleeding. His formula had
been tainted with salmonella — and a
broad range of other Lactalis powderedmilk products still on the shelves were
at risk, too.
It would take three recalls and many
weeks for the scope of the problem to finally become clear, stoking public outrage. In one of the biggest recalls of its
kind, the company has pulled more than
7,000 tons of potentially contaminated
baby formula and other powdered-milk
products from shelves in more than 80
countries, mostly in Europe, Africa and
Asia. And its chief executive said on
Thursday that the company’s powdered-milk products may have been exposed to salmonella for more than a decade.
The huge recall and the missteps
along the way have exposed corporate
lapses and regulatory gaps that allowed
tainted products to make their way into
supermarkets and pharmacies, even
weeks after the problems were discovered. The episode at Lactalis, which also
makes yogurt, butter and cheese, has
highlighted what critics say is lax oversight of industrial food companies and
weak reporting standards across the
European Union.
In the Lactalis case, the French government initially placed blame squarely
on the company. But late last month, as
complaints about weak regulation intensified, President Emmanuel Macron
said his government would “draw
lessons” from the crisis.
“There will be zero tolerance on the
part of the state,” he said.
European governments generally allow food companies to self-report prob-
lems to regulators, rather than require
their disclosure. Compliance and enforcement of standards also vary from
country to country. But the European
Union operates as a single market,
meaning that tainted products in one
country can make their way through Europe and to the rest of the world.
The recall is the latest in a series of
food safety scandals that Europe has
faced in recent years. Millions of tainted
eggs were recalled in 2017 after poultry
farms in Belgium and the Netherlands
were contaminated with an insecticide.
In 2013, horse meat was discovered masquerading as beef in Britain and Ireland.
In the Lactalis case, both the company and regulators missed opportunities to identify the problems before
tainted products ended up on the shelf.
Lactalis initially found traces of salmonella at its main factory in August and
again in November. But it did not alert
regulators either time. Under French
law, a company does not have to tell the
authorities if it determines, through its
own internal tests, that the food is not
Standard inspections do occur once
every two years, but they are not necessarily comprehensive. As part of a routine visit, the government inspected the
factory in September, after the company
had already discovered salmonella. But
officials inspected just part of the factory and not the area that produced
baby formula.
Lactalis instituted its first recall in
early December. But the company did
not go far enough. Reports of salmonella
cases kept multiplying.
Those cases prompted the government to inspect the factory, in the town
of Craon, and afterward officials demanded that Lactalis vastly expand the
recall. But the government did not discover the full extent of the problems. A
couple of weeks later, the company
found that more milk had been tainted
and had to recall even more products.
Ms. Noviant’s baby, Noan, was hospitalized three more times. Over all in the
Lactalis case, at least 38 children have
been sickened by tainted milk products.
Ségolène Noviant, left, with her son, Noan, who has been hospitalized several times after drinking tainted formula. An officer, right,
standing guard near the Lactalis factory in Craon, France, last month while investigators were on the premises.
No deaths have been reported.
“My baby almost died,” said Ms. Noviant, 29, who quit her job as a restaurant manager in the southwestern city
of Toulouse to care for Noan. “The company kept selling for profit and acted
with impunity, but the government also
Lactalis started as a small cheesemaking business in 1933 and grew into a
multinational behemoth by acquiring
brands like Parmalat of Italy and Stonyfield Farm of the United States that
make cheese, milk and yogurt. The company now has 75,000 employees across
44 countries and has become one of the
world’s biggest producers of infant formula and cereals under brands like Picot and Milumel.
Emmanuel Besnier, the chief executive, took over leadership of the company in 2000 from his father and grandfather. Called “the invisible billionaire”
by employees, he has almost never been
photographed or interviewed, and has
rarely been seen at the Craon factory.
His relative silence about the scandal
drew the ire of parents and consumers
in France. Mr. Besnier, 47, eventually
spoke with two French newspapers, Le
Journal du Dimanche last month and
Les Échos on Thursday.
A spokeswoman for Lactalis said Mr.
Besnier was not available for an interview. The company declined to comment further.
Mr. Besnier acknowledged in the interview with Les Échos that the bacteria
in recent milk products was identical to
a strain found in the factory in 2005, under a previous owner. More than 140 babies in France got sick back then.
Lactalis bought that factory in 2006,
and has claimed that it had disinfected
the facilities. But the Institut Pasteur in
Paris, a research center for medicine
and public health, announced on Thursday that at least 25 other infants had
been infected with salmonella traced to
the factory between the 2005 outbreak
and these newest cases.
The latest problems have been building for months.
In August, the company found traces
of salmonella on a broom at the factory,
Mr. Besnier said in one of the interviews.
The bacteria typically thrive in poor
sanitation conditions, but Lactalis said it
may have been introduced during a factory renovation last February.
Government inspectors visited the
factory in September, but they did not
review the area where baby formula
was produced. They found nothing
wrong, and Lactalis did not mention the
traces of bacteria found the previous
Under French law, they did not have
to. (An independent laboratory hired by
Lactalis carried out 16,000 product
checks and found no contamination, according to Mr. Besnier.)
Lactalis found more salmonella in November. Again it cleaned the site. Again
it did not alert the authorities, Mr.
Besnier said.
Soon, reports emerged of babies being rushed to hospitals after drinking
the company’s infant formula.
On Dec. 1, the Agriculture Ministry
announced that at least 20 children had
been infected by salmonella, and that
the problem could have originated at the
factory in Craon. The next day, regula-
tors returned and found that one of two
drying towers used to make powdered
milk was “filled with salmonella.”
This time, Lactalis verified the outbreak. The government ordered Lactalis to conduct a limited recall of baby
A week later, as more reports of illnesses emerged, French officials expanded the recall and accused Lactalis
of not moving fast enough to contain the
crisis. On Dec. 21, Lactalis announced a
third recall, expanding its scope to cover
more than 7,000 tons of powdered-milk
Despite the recall, thousands of the affected products were still being sold by
pharmacies, hospitals and at least seven
of France’s biggest retailers — including
Auchan, Carrefour, Casino and Leclerc.
Lactalis blamed the retailers for failing
to act fast enough, and the government
said it would also hold those companies
The French government ordered the
factory closed for decontamination, and
Lactalis has said it would not reopen a
major production line where the salmonella was discovered. The debacle is
expected to cost the privately held company hundreds of millions of dollars, Mr.
Besnier said.
The legal fallout is only just emerging.
An organization of families affected
by contaminated products filed lawsuits
this week against Lactalis for reckless
endangerment, and against retailers
that it said failed to quickly pull tainted
products. One family is suing the French
government for inadequate oversight
because inspectors gave the plant a
clean bill of health in September.
“This is a health scandal of unprecedented scale,” said Quentin Guillemain,
who founded the family group.
Lactalis has offered to compensate
victims of the tainted products. Instead,
the families say, they will press ahead
with their lawsuits.
“Lactalis is a huge multinational,”
said Mr. Guillemain, who has a 3-monthold daughter. “That doesn’t mean it
should be allowed to operate above the
What it’s like to live in a surveillance state
China is
totalitarianism to repress
Uighurs in
James A. Millward
Imagine that this is your daily life:
While on your way to work or on an
errand, every 100 meters you pass a
police blockhouse. Video cameras on
street corners and lamp posts recognize
your face and track your movements. At
multiple checkpoints, police officers
scan your ID card, your irises and the
contents of your phone. At the supermarket or the bank, you are scanned
again, your bags are X-rayed and an
officer runs a wand over your body — at
least if you are from the wrong ethnic
group. Members of the main group are
usually waved through.
You have had to complete a survey
about your ethnicity, your religious
practices and your “cultural level”;
about whether you have a passport,
relatives or acquaintances abroad, and
whether you know anyone who has ever
been arrested or is a member of what
the state calls a “special population.”
This personal information, along with
your biometric data, resides in a database tied to your ID number. The system crunches all of this into a composite
score that ranks you as “safe,” “normal”
or “unsafe.” Based on
those categories, you
may or may not be
Uighurs buy
allowed to visit a
a kitchen
museum, pass
knife, their
through certain
ID data is
neighborhoods, go to
etched on the the mall, check into a
hotel, rent an apartblade as a
ment, apply for a job
QR code.
or buy a train ticket.
Or you may be detained to undergo
re-education, like many thousands of
other people.
A science-fiction dystopia? No. This
is life in northwestern China today if
you are Uighur.
China may no longer be the bleak
land of Mao suits, self-criticism sessions
and loudspeakers blaring communist
slogans. It boasts gleaming bullet
trains, luxury malls and cellphonefacilitated consumer life. But when it
comes to indigenous Uighurs in the vast
western region of Xinjiang, the Chinese
Communist Party (C.C.P.) has updated
its old totalitarian methods with cutting-edge technology.
The party considers Uighurs, the
Turkic-speaking ethnic group native to
the nominally autonomous region of
Xinjiang, to be dangerous separatists.
The Qing Empire conquered Xinjiang in
the 18th century. The territory then
slipped from Beijing’s control, until the
Communists reoccupied it with Soviet
help in 1949. Today, several Central
Asian peoples, including Uighurs,
Kazakhs and Kyrghyz, make up about
half of the region’s population; the
remainder are Han and Hui, who arrived from eastern China starting in the
mid-20th century.
Over the past several years, small
numbers of Uighurs have violently
challenged the authorities, notably
during riots in 2009, or committed
terrorist acts. But the C.C.P. has since
subjected the entire Uighur population
of some 11 million to arbitrary arrest,
draconian surveillance or systemic
discrimination. Uighurs are culturally
Muslim, and the government often cites
the threat of foreign Islamist ideology to
justify its security policies.
I have researched Xinjiang for three
decades. Ethnic tensions have been
common during all those years, and
soon after 9/11, Chinese authorities
started invoking the specter of “the
three evil forces of separatism, extremism and terrorism” as a pretense to
crack down on Uighurs. But state repression in Xinjiang has never been as
severe as it has become since early 2017,
when Chen Quanguo, the C.C.P.’s new
leader in the region, began an intensive
securitization program.
Mr. Chen has brought to Xinjiang the
grid system of checkpoints, police
stations, armored vehicles and constant
patrols that he perfected while in his
previous post in Tibet. The C.C.P. credits
him with having quieted there a restive
ethnic group unhappy with its rule. In
his first year governing Xinjiang, Mr.
Chen has already recruited tens of
thousands of new security personnel.
As multiple news outlets have reported, he has also deployed high-tech
tools in the service of creating a better
police state. Uighurs’ DNA is collected
during state-run medical checkups.
Local authorities now install a GPS
tracking system in all vehicles. Government spy apps must be loaded on mobile phones. All communication software is banned except WeChat, which
grants the police access to users’ calls,
texts and other shared content. When
Uighurs buy a kitchen knife, their ID
data is etched on the blade as a QR code.
This digitized surveillance is a modern take on conventional controls remi-
niscent of the Cultural Revolution in the
1960s and ’70s. Some Uighurs report
getting a knock on their door from
security agents soon after receiving a
call from overseas. Last autumn one
Uighur told me that following several
such intimidating visits over the summer, his elderly parents had texted him,
“The phone screen is bad for our old
eyes, so we’re not using it anymore.” He
had not heard from them since.
Xinjiang authorities have recently
enforced a spate of regulations against
Uighur customs, including some that
confound common sense. A law now
bans face coverings — but also “abnormal” beards. A Uighur village party
chief was demoted for not smoking, on
grounds that this failing displayed an
insufficient “commitment to secularization.” Officials in the city of Kashgar, in
southwest Xinjiang, recently jailed
several prominent Uighur businessmen
for not praying enough at a funeral — a
sign of “extremism,” they claimed.
Any such violation, or simply being a
Uighur artist or wealthy businessman,
Trump’s corruption of the American Republic
that he would use the immense powers
of his office to drag Americans down
with him into the vortex.
Trump is succeeding in this. He is
having his way, for all the investigative
vigor of the free press he derides, for all
the honor of the judiciary that has
pushed back against his attempts to
stain with bigotry the law of the land.
Slowly but surely, the president is getting people to shrug. The appalling
becomes excusable, the heinous becomes debatable, the outrageous becomes comical, lies become fibs, spite
becomes banal, and hymns to American
might become cause for giddy chants of
national greatness.
This is happening before our eyes.
My grandson, Raphael, was born Feb. 1,
in Gallup, N.M. Hours old as I write, he’s
my fifth grandchild; they’re all four or
under. I worry about what country they
will find.
Today the idea of America, empty if
stripped of ethical foundation, is under
assault from a man who envies the
pliant courts, the adoring media, and
the license to kill of dictators across the
world. Ethics? Please.
Trump itches to press that button.
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The danger
of lowered
and the
ever more
Roger Cohen
President Trump’s most significant, and
ominous, achievement in his first year
in office is the corruption of the Republic. I don’t mean that he has succeeded
in destroying the checks and balances
on which American freedom rests. I
mean that he has so soiled the discourse
that a kind of numbness has set in, an
exhaustion of outrage that allows him to
proceed with the unthinkable.
The greatest danger from a man so
unerring in his detection of human
weakness, so attuned to the thrill of
cruelty, so aware of the manipulative
powers of entertainment, so unrelenting in his disregard for truth, so contemptuous of ethics and culture, so
attracted to blood and soil, was always
The thing about kicks is you have to
keep upping their charge. “You’re fired”
worked for a while. But nukes are a
whole other level. Trump wants to see
North Korea’s Kim Jong-un writhing
like an irradiated butterfly on a pin.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who
knows what war is and where war leads,
is the nation’s best defense against
Trump gave a poor-to-mediocre State
of the Union speech. Its essence, after a
few picayunes of the all-Americans-areone-team variety, was the pursuit of
“unmatched power” against an ungrateful or hostile world of “unfair trade
deals” and would-be migrants destined
for murderous gangs.
It equated the 128 countries — not
“dozens,” as Trump said — that voted
against his recognition of Jerusalem as
Israel’s capital with “enemies of America.” It hinted at a McCarthyite purge of
any federal employee deemed to have
failed the American people. It betrayed
presidential rapture at reviving the
Guantánamo Bay detention facility, the
place where a fair trial went to die.
Many commentators swooned. It was
enough that Trump did not go on walk-
about. For NBC’s Savannah Guthrie, “It
was optimistic; it was bright; it was
conciliatory.” Frank Luntz, a respected
Republican pollster, thought that only
one word qualified: “Wow.” He tweeted
that the speech was a “brilliant mix of
numbers and stories, humility and
aggressiveness, traditional conservatism and political populism.” Jake Tapper of CNN discerned “beautiful prose.”
Even the Washington Post saw “A Call
for Bipartisanship” (its initial Page One
headline) lurking somewhere. Three in
four American viewers approved of the
speech, according to a CBS News poll.
Trump has lowered expectations. He
has inured people to the thread of violence and meanness lurking in almost
every utterance; or worse, he has
started to make them relish it. He has
habituated Americans to buffoonery
and lies. He calls himself a “genius.”
If so, his genius resides in the darkest
realms of the human psyche.
“Where’s my Roy Cohn?” Trump is
reported to have exclaimed in recent
months, frustrated by what he sees as
the failure of his attorney general to
protect him from the investigation into
Russian interference in the 2016 elec-
tion. Cohn, Trump’s ruthless former
lawyer, was Senator Joseph McCarthy’s
top aide for the hysterical investigations into Communist activities in the
1950s. Where, in other words, is my
attack dog ready to shred the special
counsel Robert Mueller and the rule of
Trump has no storm troopers. The
United States is not Weimar. Its democratic institutions remain strong. Still,
the Republic has been corrupted in
ways that may prove hard to reverse,
especially if Trump becomes a two-term
No, Trump is not Hitler. Still, it’s
sobering to read some of the headlines
from 1933, when the Nazi leader became
Chancellor. In The New York Times just
after the election: “Hitler Puts Aside
Aim to Be Dictator.” From The Daily
Boston Globe, the same day: “Hitler
Voices Mild Program.” From The
Times: “German ‘Adventure’ Watched
in Britain.” This story spoke of doubt as
to whether “history will fix the new
Chancellor as a mountebank or a hero.”
And our very own mountebank made
a very conciliatory speech this week —
did he not?
Protecting parks as an act of democracy
A.G. SULZBERGER, Publisher
Kristine McDivitt Tompkins
DEAN BAQUET, Executive Editor
MARK THOMPSON, Chief Executive Officer
JOSEPH KAHN, Managing Editor
STEPHEN DUNBAR-JOHNSON, President, International
TOM BODKIN, Creative Director
JEAN-CHRISTOPHE DEMARTA, Senior V.P., Global Advertising
SUZANNE DALEY, Associate Editor
ACHILLES TSALTAS, V.P., International Conferences
CHARLOTTE GORDON, V.P., International Consumer Marketing
JAMES BENNET, Editorial Page Editor
HELEN KONSTANTOPOULOS, V.P., International Circulation
JAMES DAO, Deputy Editorial Page Editor
HELENA PHUA, Executive V.P., Asia-Pacific
KATHLEEN KINGSBURY, Deputy Editorial Page Editor
SUZANNE YVERNÈS, International Chief Financial Officer
bellicose talk
and threats of
military action
are making a
bad situation
on the Korean
It’s hard not to come away from the State of the Union
address without a heightened sense of foreboding about
President Trump’s intentions toward North Korea. The
signs increasingly point to unilateral American military
action. To which we say: Don’t.
The references to North Korea in the address were
worrying enough. Mr. Trump called the country’s leadership “depraved.” He trumpeted his “campaign of
maximum pressure” to ensure that the North does not
succeed in perfecting a nuclear-tipped missile that
could strike the continental United States.
What made Mr. Trump’s latest comments most
alarming was the context. They were delivered as
South Korean efforts to dial down the tension with the
North, through dialogue and joint participation in the
Winter Olympics, appeared to be bearing fruit. And
they came just after it was reported that the administration had abandoned a long-delayed plan to nominate
a prominent Korea scholar, Victor Cha, as its ambassador to Seoul.
Mr. Cha, a senior Asia adviser in the George W. Bush
administration and now a Georgetown University professor was unceremoniously dumped because he voiced
opposition to the administration’s threat to carry out a
pre-emptive military strike against North Korea before
it can build a nuclear-armed missile able to hit the
United States.
One can only read this as evidence that Mr. Trump
and his inner circle don’t want people with contrary
views to challenge them on the most consequential
decision a president can make — sending Americans to
war. Has Mr. Trump already made it?
Mr. Cha took an extraordinary step by writing an
opinion article for The Washington Post in which he
described his objections to what’s being called the
“bloody nose” strategy, a limited military strike on
North Korean nuclear facilities that will supposedly
persuade the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, to abandon
his nuclear ambitions.
Mr. Cha is no dove on North Korea. He supports
tough sanctions; beefing up of missile defense systems,
intelligence-sharing and strike capabilities with South
Korea and Japan; and even a maritime coalition to
intercept nuclear technology leaving North Korea.
Mr. Trump’s preoccupation with military action and
refusal to seriously pursue a diplomatic overture to
North Korea are foolhardy, especially when South Korea is using North Korea’s participation in the Winter
Olympics to defuse tensions and open up space for
The United States has been at war continuously since
the attacks of Sept. 11 and now has just over 240,000
active-duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries
and territories. Enough.
We need a new story about the Earth
that isn’t just a litany of alarming statistics about crashing wildlife populations, polluted air and water, and climate chaos. We need a story that reminds us that the continuing degradation of landscapes and the seas is not
necessarily a one-way street toward
irreversible destruction.
On Monday we began to write such a
story with the government of Chile.
Under the wide skies of the new Patagonia National Park, President Michelle
Bachelet and I formalized the largestever expansion of a national park system prompted by a donation of private
Our organization, Tompkins Conservation, has donated roughly one million
acres of privately assembled conservation land to Chile for national parks.
Also included were lodging, camp-
ground and dining facilities, and trails,
bridges and roads. In accepting the gift,
the Chilean government is creating five
new parks and expanding three others.
With roughly nine million acres of federal land from Chile, these new parks
add 10.3 million acres to Chile’s excellent
park system. This is more than three
times the size of Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks combined.
For more than two decades, my husband, Douglas Tompkins, and I worked
alongside our team and through the
Tompkins Conservation family of foundations to acquire and aggregate wildlife habitat and then donate it to the park
systems of Chile and Argentina. In
partnership with other like-minded
philanthropists, conservation activists
and leaders of various political parties
in those countries, with this latest donation, more than 13 million acres have
been conserved in the two countries.
We believe that the transfer of private
lands to the national park system is an
act of democracy. A country’s natural
masterpieces are best held and pro-
tected by the public for the common
good. They should be available to all
people to enjoy, to remember that they
are part of something much larger than
themselves. National parks, monuments and other public lands remind us
that regardless of race, economic standing or citizenship, we all depend on a
healthy planet for our survival.
We are by no means alone in holding
that sentiment, nor are we the first to
donate private property so that it can be
preserved in all its wonder.
In 2016, Roxanne Quimby, a cofounder of Burt’s Bees, donated 87,500
acres in Maine to the federal government and $20 million for an endowment
for its upkeep, and pledged to raise
another $20 million. This gift allowed
President Barack Obama to designate
the expanse as Katahdin Woods and
Waters National Monument, to be overseen by the National Park Service.
In fact, the park service — and by
extension, the American people — has
benefited mightily from donations from
private philanthropy. The cathedral-like
Muir Woods in California and what
became Acadia National Park in Maine
began with gifts from philanthropists.
The Rockefeller family contributed
millions of dollars to acquire lands for
expanding national parks, including
Acadia, Grand Teton and Yosemite. If
not for the Rockefellers, the incredible
beauty and biodiversity of Great Smoky
Mountains and Virgin Islands national
parks would probably have gone unprotected.
Like those efforts, our successful park
creation projects in Chile show the
possibilities of public-private collaboration fueled by entrepreneurial philanthropy. Anyone can conceive of big
ideas, but to carve them into being
requires political leaders with the
courage to protect important landscapes. In Chile, President Bachelet and
her administration possess this bravery
and determination.
Her leadership was crucial. She saw
the economic potential for jobs and
revenue from ecotourism and also
understood the importance of protecting her country’s wild heritage for
future generations. These parks will be
part of a planned network of 17 parks
along more than 1,500 miles from Puerto
Montt to Cape Horn.
The new national parks established
this week include our two signature
projects: Pumalín, which lies south of
Puerto Mont in the lakes district, comprises roughly one
million acres of temChile has
perate rain forest,
created five
including some of the
planet’s last stands of
parks as
towering Alerce
part of a
trees, cousins of the
public-private coast redwoods of
California. In the
effort that
764,000-acre Patagobegan with
nia National Park, the
the private
arid Patagonia
donation of
steppe meets wetter
more than
forests, making for a
one million
rich diversity of
wildlife habitats. As
President Bachelet
signed the decree
creating these parks, a herd of guanacos
grazed in the waving grasses and a
black-chested buzzard-eagle soared
There is a central truth to humanity’s
relationship with nature: We were born
into it, fully dependent on it from our
first breath. Two hundred years from
now let the elephants trumpet, the giant
sequoias sway in stiff winds and our
descendants enjoy healthy lives aware
of their place in this wild thing we call
a former
C.E.O. of Patagonia, is president of
Tompkins Conservation.
Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, president of Tompkins Conservation, overlooking land that
the organization donated to the Chilean government on Monday.
It has been depressing to watch as Kenya’s presidential
election saga has gone from fraud to hope to sham, and
now to dangerous brinkmanship. It’s hard to see what
the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, hopes to achieve
with his faux inauguration as the “people’s president,”
or what President Uhuru Kenyatta plans to do next now
that he has outlawed Mr. Odinga’s National Resistance
Movement. The space for a democratic resolution of the
crisis has grown mighty thin, but the alternative could
be disastrous.
The spiral began with a presidential election in August, which President Kenyatta seemed to win handily.
Mr. Odinga challenged the vote, and to general surprise
the seven-judge Supreme Court agreed and ordered
another election within 60 days.
It was not to be. The ruling party passed amendments to the election law that made it all but impossible
to challenge future results. Then the same Supreme
Court, asked this time to postpone the do-over vote,
suddenly couldn’t round up more than two judges, short
of a quorum. Mr. Odinga boycotted the vote and threatened to hold a swearing-in ceremony as “peoples’ president”; Mr. Kenyatta threatened to block it.
The “inauguration,” in effect a giant opposition rally,
finally did take place in Nairobi on Tuesday. But the
government declared the National Resistance Movement, the name the opposition adopted after the boycotted second election, a criminal group.
What intensifies the feud is the fact that elections in
Kenya are a fierce struggle for power and spoils between parties often organized along ethnic lines. Mr.
Kenyatta is Kikuyu, and his deputy, William Ruto, is
Kalenjin; the two groups have held the presidency since
independence in 1963. Mr. Odinga is Luo; when he was
seemingly robbed of a victory in 2007, two months of
lethal violence erupted, ending with the creation of a
coalition government.
That could happen again, but both sides need to step
back before it’s too late. Business and civil society leaders and international diplomats must use whatever
leverage they have to press both sides for restraint and
some sign of a willingness to talk and compromise.
.C ha ГР
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To avoid
leaders inside
and outside
the nation
need to press
for restraint.
I quit Twitter and it feels great
Lindy West
Contributing Writer
It has been one year and 28 days since
my last tweet.
I deactivated my account shortly
after President-elect Donald Trump
tweeted, “North Korea just stated that it
is in the final stages of developing a
nuclear weapon capable of reaching
parts of the U.S. It won’t happen!” on
Jan. 2, 2017.
The tweet struck me as an unsettling
portent of how Trump’s presidency was
likely to unfold: rash, petty, ostentatiously uninformed, with no regard for
public safety or the mechanics of governance. The internet makes neighbors
of us all, and my conscience demanded I
put some virtual real estate between
myself and the befuddled, racist mobster seemingly determined to dismantle
and loot the republic. If seeding nuclear
war wasn’t a violation of Twitter’s terms
of service, then Twitter wasn’t a service
I wanted to endorse.
Exactly one year later, on Jan. 2, 2018,
President Trump tweeted, “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that
the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all
times.’ Will someone from his depleted
and food starved regime please inform
him that I too have a Nuclear Button,
but it is a much bigger & more powerful
one than his, and my Button works!”
How exquisite it would have been to
be wrong.
Trump essentially daring Kim Jongun (just a hop, a skip, and a Pacific away
from my house in Seattle) to prove his
nuclear capabilities is what finally
pushed me over the edge, but the cliff
itself was built of years of accumulated
grievances with Twitter’s culture of
harassment and its leadership’s torpid
failure to fix it.
When you work in media, Twitter
becomes part of your job. It’s where you
orient yourself in “the discourse” —
figure out what’s going on, what people
are saying about it and, more important,
what no one has said yet. In a lucky coup
for Twitter’s marketing team, prevailing
wisdom among media types has long
held that quitting the platform could be
a career killer. The illusion that Twitter
visibility and professional relevance are
indisputably inextricable always felt too
risky to puncture. Who could afford to
call that bluff and be wrong? So, we
stayed, while Twitter’s endemic racist,
sexist and transphobic harassment
problems grew increasingly more
sophisticated and organized.
Those of us who complained about
online abuse were consistently told —
by colleagues, armchair experts and
random internet strangers — that we
were the problem. We were too soft. We,
who literally inured ourselves to rape
threats and death threats so that we
could participate in public life, were
called weak by people who felt persecuted by the existence of female Ghostbusters. Meanwhile, Twitter’s leadership offered us the ability to embed
Those of us who pointed out that
online harassment was politically motivated — compounded by race, gender
and sexual orientation — as I did in 2013,
for example, were accused of being
“professional victims” trying to leverage our paranoid delusions to censor
the internet. This defamation has never
been retracted or atoned for even after
the revelations that an army of Russian
Twitter bots functions as the Trump
administration’s propaganda wing, and
the “alt-right,” essentially a coalition of
anti-feminist, white-supremacist online
harassment campaigns, recruits disaffected young men to Trumpism by
framing the abuse of social justice activists as a team sport. Meanwhile, Twitter’s leadership offered us 280 characters.
The social contract of the internet
seems to insist that there’s a nobility in
weathering degradation. You can call
me oversensitive, but the truth is I got
far better than any human being should
be at absorbing astonishing cruelty and
feeling nothing. Undersensitivity was
just another piece of workplace safety
gear. The fact that we’ve learned to cope
doesn’t mean we shouldn’t demand
Being on Twitter felt like being in a
nonconsensual BDSM relationship with
the apocalypse. So, I left.
To be clear, it’s not brave to quit Twitter, or righteous (I’m still on Facebook,
which is just a differently shaped moral
stockyard), or noteworthy. Quitting
Twitter is just a thing that you can do. I
mention it only because there was a
time when I didn’t think it was a thing
that I could do, and then I did it, and now
my life is better.
I’m frequently approached by colleagues, usually women, who ask me
about quitting Twitter with hushed
titillation, as if I’ve escaped a cult or
broken a particularly
seductive taboo. Well,
I don’t wake
here’s what my new
up with a
life is like: I don’t
pit in my
wake up with a pit in
my stomach every
every day,
day, dreading what
horrors accrued in
my phone overnight.
what horrors
I don’t get dragged
accrued in
into protracted,
my phone
bad-faith arguments
with teenage boys
about whether poor
people deserve medical care, or whether putting nice guys in
the friend zone is a hate crime. I don’t
spend hours every week blocking and
reporting trolls and screen-grabbing
abuse in case it someday escalates into
a credible threat. I no longer feel like my
brain is trapped in a centrifuge filled
with swastikas and Alex Jones’s spittle.
Time is finite, and now I have more of it.
At the same time, I know this conversation is more complicated than that.
I’ve lost a large platform to self-promote
and make professional connections,
which isn’t something many writers can
afford to give up (less established writers and marginalized writers most of all
— in a horrid irony, the same writers
disproportionately abused on Twitter). I
get my news on a slight delay. I seethe at
the perception that I ceded any ground
to trolls trying to push me out. I will
probably never persuade RuPaul to be
my friend. Also, I loved Twitter. Twitter
is funny and smart and validating and
cathartic. It feels, when you are embroiled in it, like the place where everything is happening. (Scoff if you like, but
The gang that couldn’t think straight
Paul Krugman
What it’s like to live in a police state
can lead to indefinite detention in what
the government euphemistically calls
“political training centers” — a revival
of punitive Maoist re-education camps
— secured by high walls, razor wire,
floodlights and guard towers. A revered
Uighur Islamic scholar is said to have
died in one of those centers this week.
According to Radio Free Asia, a
county official and a police officer in
southern Xinjiang were instructed by
superiors to lock up 40 percent of the
local Uighur population. Adrian Zenz, a
researcher at the European School of
Culture and Theology, estimates that 5
percent of the Uighur population across
Xinjiang has been or is currently detained — more than 500,000 people in
all. Local orphanages overflow with the
children of detainees; some children
reportedly are sent to facilities in the
eastern parts of China.
Why are so many Uighurs subjected
to these harsh policies? A Chinese
official in Kashgar explained: “You can’t
uproot all the weeds hidden among the
crops in the field one by one — you need
to spray chemicals to kill them all.” The
C.C.P., once quite liberal in its approach
to diversity, seems to be redefining
Chinese identity in the image of the
majority Han — its version, perhaps, of
the nativism that appears to be sweeping other parts of the world. With ethnic
difference itself now defined as a threat
to the Chinese state, local leaders like
Mr. Chen feel empowered to target
Uighurs and their culture wholesale.
Some people in the Chinese bureaucracy and Chinese academic circles
disagree with this approach. They
worry that locking down an entire province and persecuting an entire ethnic
group will only instill long-lasting resentment among Uighurs. Or they note
that Mr. Chen’s policies are so burdensome and so costly that they will be
difficult to sustain: Han Chinese residents of Xinjiang also complain about
the inconvenience and cost of living in
such a police state.
Then there are the international
repercussions. Blanket repression in
Xinjiang can only hurt China’s bid for
the world’s respect, just when the
Trump administration’s chaotic foreign
policy offers Beijing
an opportunity to
enhance its own
estimate that
standing. Forget the
5 percent of
image of President Xi
Jinping as a responsiUighur
ble internationalist at
Davos. Nothing
shreds soft power
may have
abroad like coils of
razor wire at home.
detained at
There’s an old
some point.
Chinese joke about
Uighurs being the
Silk Road’s consummate entrepreneurs: When the first
Chinese astronaut steps off his
spaceship onto the moon, he will find a
Uighur already there selling lamb kebabs. And so even as Mr. Chen cracks
down in Xinjiang, the Chinese government touts the region as the gateway for
its much-vaunted “one belt, one road”
initiative, Mr. Xi’s signature foreign
policy project. The grand idea combines
a plan to spend billions of dollars in
development loans and transport investment across Eurasia with a strategic bid to establish China’s diplomatic
primacy in Asia.
But while Mr. Xi’s government prom-
ises the world a new Silk Road through
Muslim Central Asia and the Middle
East, the Xinjiang authorities attempt to
contain a purported “Uighur problem”
by incarcerating many good citizens
and spying from every street corner and
mobile phone. The C.C.P.’s domestic
policies contradict its international
How does the party think that directives banning fasting during Ramadan
in Xinjiang, requiring Uighur shops to
sell alcohol and prohibiting Muslim
parents from giving their children
Islamic names will go over with governments and peoples from Pakistan to
Turkey? The Chinese government may
be calculating that money can buy these
states’ quiet acceptance. But the thousands of Uighur refugees in Turkey and
Syria already complicate China’s diplomacy.
Tibetans know well this hard face of
China. Hong Kongers must wonder: If
Uighur culture is criminalized and
Xinjiang’s supposed autonomy is a
sham, what will happen to their own
vibrant Cantonese culture and their
city’s shaky “one country, two systems”
arrangement with Beijing? What might
Taiwan’s reunification with a securitized mainland look like? Will the bigdata police state engulf the rest of
China? The rest of the world?
As China’s profile grows on the international stage, everyone would do well
to ask if what happens in Xinjiang will
stay in Xinjiang.
Germans, even if they’re tired of Ms.
Merkel, still value consensus.
“Germans are generally oriented
toward compromise, not polarization,”
said Andrea Wolf, a board member of
Forschungsgruppe Wahlen, a major
German pollster.
Though Ms. Merkel’s poll numbers
dipped during the refugee crisis, they
have rebounded. “I doubt that the
policy approach of the younger generation of policymakers is what voters
really want,” Ms. Wolf said. “It’s possibly rather just what they want.”
Real politics always consists of bullet
points. You want to lift up the lower
middle classes? You have to pass tax
relief, restructure social security contributions, bolster the education budget — which is what the next grand
coalition will vow to
do, if the negotiaMillennials
tions are successful.
long for a
The challenge for
German politicians,
moving forward, will
approach that be to come up with a
narrative big enough
focuses on
to create a sense of
the economic
direction, of being
grievances of
based on values
the masses.
more fundamental
than raising the
gross domestic product a few percentage points, but avoiding the sort of utopian visions that
German voters rightly distrust.
If they succeed, they could set free a
new era of political energy. If they fail,
we could see a dark turn toward the
sort of fractured, incoherent politics
haunting the rest of the world, full of
holes that the far right can move
through. There’s a trap, however. In
raging against the slow and boring
politics of compromise, the members of
the new generation are joining the
very populist chant they are setting
out to defeat.
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must contribute to their employees’
insurance. Nils Heisterhagen, a 29year-old Social Democrat, has been
leading a push for the party to embrace its left-wing roots.
This generational angst spans the
political spectrum. Alexander Dobrindt
of the Christian Social Union, the sister
party of the center-right Christian
Democrats, recently published an
essay calling for a “conservative revolution” promoting a “Leitkultur,” or
“leading culture” — a common term in
German for a politics focused on assimilating immigrants and promoting
the nuclear family, among other things.
And Christian Linder, 39, head of the
pro-business Liberal Party, backed out
of coalition talks late last year, accusing Ms. Merkel of favoring process
over principles. “No ideas whatsoever,”
he complained recently. “Just Merkel’s
method. Any compromise, just to get
At the same time, the new generation’s stance is different from the identity politics of many young American
political activists; if anything, these
young Germans agree with Mark
Lilla’s argument that liberalism has
slipped “into a moral panic about
racial, gender and sexual identity” that
prevents it “from becoming a unifying
force capable of governing.” Instead,
they long for a “unifying” policy approach that focuses on the economic
grievances of the masses — or their
alleged need for cultural homogeneity.
After decades of postmodern politics, they long for grand narratives, on
both sides. Call it solidarity in partisanship — a longing for clear lines that cut
across policy issues, rather than a wet
blanket of consensus that covers over
sociopolitical fractures.
But is it what voters want, too?
It is conventional wisdom that the
consensus politics of Ms. Merkel, Mr.
Schulz and their generational peers
strengthened the political fringes,
especially the far right. That’s not
entirely true, though: Polls show that
is an editor on the
opinion page of the newspaper Der
Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
have bad things to say about Jerome
Powell, just confirmed as Fed chairman. On the other hand, why didn’t
Trump just follow the usual norms and
appoint Janet Yellen, who has done a
fantastic job, to a second term?
One answer may be that Trump is a
traditionalist — and few things are
more traditional than passing over a
highly qualified woman in favor of a
less qualified man. But I also suspect
that he found Yellen’s independent
stature threatening.
And lower-level Fed appointments
are becoming cause for concern.
Last week, senators at a confirmation hearing questioned the economist
Marvin Goodfriend, whom Trump has
nominated for the Fed’s Board of Governors. Democrats pointed out that
Goodfriend was wrong, again and
again, about monetary policy during
the crisis, repeatedly predicting inflation that didn’t happen.
Now, everyone makes bad predictions now and then; God knows I have.
But you’re supposed to face up to your
mistakes, figure out what went wrong
and adapt your views. Goodfriend
refused to do any of that. And why
should he? His errors were politically
correct; they reinforced Republican
orthodoxy. From the G.O.P.’s point of
view, having been completely wrong
about monetary policy isn’t a defect,
it’s practically a badge of honor.
The point is that even at the Fed,
which is partly insulated from the
Trumpian reign of error, U.S. policymaking is being denuded of expertise.
And the whole nation will eventually
pay the price.
a professor of history at Georgetown University, is the
author of “Eurasian Crossroads: A
History of Xinjiang” and “The Silk
Road: A Very Short Introduction.”
Youth and German politics I quit Twitter
and feel great
A few days after President Trump was
inaugurated, Benjamin Wittes, editor
of the influential Lawfare blog, came
up with a pithy summary of the new
administration: “malevolence tempered by incompetence.” A year later,
that rings truer than ever.
In fact, this has been a big week for
malevolence. But today’s column will
focus on the incompetence, whose full
depths — and consequences — we’re
just starting to see.
Let’s start with a few recent stories.
In his State of the Union, Trump
devoted part of one sentence to the
disaster in Puerto Rico, struck by
Hurricane Maria. “We are with you, we
love you,” he declared. But the island’s
residents, almost a third of whom are
still without power four months after
the storm, aren’t exactly feeling that
love — especially because on the very
day Trump said those words, FEMA
officials told NPR that the disaster
agency was ending its work on the
FEMA later said that this was a
miscommunication. But at the very
least it suggests a complete lack of
Oh, and for the record, I don’t believe that Trump, who spent much of
his speech falsely blaming brown
people for a nonexistent crime wave,
loves Puerto Ricans.
Trump also declared, as he has in the
past, that he is “committed” to taking
action on the opioid epidemic. But he’s
been in office a year and has basically
done nothing.
What he did do, however, was appoint a 24-year-old former campaign
worker, with no relevant experience
before joining the administration —
who appears to have lied on his résumé — to a senior position in the
Office of National Drug Control Policy,
which should be coordinating the effort
(if one existed).
Meanwhile, the Trump-appointed
director of the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention resigned after
Politico reported that she had purchased tobacco-industry stocks after
taking office. This was unethical; it
was also deeply stupid. And the C.D.C.
isn’t some marginal agency: It’s as
crucial to safeguarding American lives
as, say, the Department of Homeland
The thing is, these aren’t isolated
examples. A remarkable number of
Trump appointees have been forced
out over falsified credentials, unethical
practices or racist remarks. And you
can be sure there are many other
appointees who did the same things,
but haven’t yet been caught.
Why is this administration hiring
such people? It surely reflects both
supply and demand: Competent people
don’t want to work for Trump, and he
and his inner circle don’t want them
By now it’s obvious to everyone that
the Trump administration is a graveyard for reputations: Everyone who
goes in comes out
soiled and diminThe
ished. Only fools, or
those with no reputaincompetence tion to lose, even
of Trump
want the positions on
offer. And in any
case, Trump, who
values personal
loyalty above professionalism, probably distrusts anyone whose credentials
might give some sense of independence.
But what’s the problem? After all,
stocks are up and the economy is
steadily growing. Does competence
even matter?
The answer is that America is a very
big country with a lot of strengths, and
it can run on momentum for a long
time even if none of the people in
charge know what they’re doing.
Sooner or later, however, stuff happens
— and then incompetence becomes a
very big deal, as it already has in
Puerto Rico.
What kind of stuff may happen? The
scariest scenarios involve national
security. But we can’t count on smooth
sailing for the economy, either. And
who will manage economic turbulence
if and when it hits? After all, we currently have perhaps the least impressive Treasury secretary in U.S. history.
Matters are a bit better at the Federal Reserve, where nobody seems to
the president of the United States
makes major policy announcements
there. This is the world now.)
I shouldn’t have had to walk away
from all that because for Twitter to take
a firm stance against neo-Nazism might
have cost it some incalculable sliver of
No one should. Sure, as in everything,
global culture change would have been
better. But I didn’t have global culture
change, and I’m better equipped to fight
for global culture change now that I’m
not locked in eternal whack-a-mole with
a sea of angry boy-men, an unknown
percentage of which are probably robots.
When you deactivate a verified Twitter account (nail-polish emoji), you
have one year to log back in or your
account — everything you ever tweeted,
every reply in every thread — is permanently deleted. I always planned to log
in and then immediately deactivate
again, to re-up for another year. I figured I’d eventually reactivate, even if
just for posterity. I was part of some
important cultural conversations; I said
some smart things before other people
said them; I made some good jokes. One
time the actor Michael McKean called
me “doodlebug” in an affectionate
manner because he liked one of my
movie reviews. I wouldn’t mind preserving that.
Last week I realized: I was late. I’d
forgotten to log back in. A year had
passed. It’s all gone.
It’s like I was halfway through a
difficult column and asked a thief to
watch my laptop while I peed. It’s like a
great wind came and blew my problem
novel into the river. It’s like I ate a very
good sandwich without taking a picture
of it. Sometimes it is O.K. to just remember things.
LINDY WEST is the author of “Shrill:
Notes From a Loud Woman.”
Whatever happens
next, we’ll help you
make sense of it.
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Young artists
pushing back
A contemporary museum’s triennial
focuses on a generation of risk-takers
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When Gary Carrion-Murayari showed
up in 2015 at Bikini Wax, a funky livingcum-exhibition space for emerging artists in Mexico City, everyone there put
out the call to friends: “There’s a curator
from the New Museum interested in
meeting some young artists — do you
want to come down?”
Over the course of the day, about 10
artists, including Manuel Solano,
streamed through the gallery with portfolios and laptops to show to Mr. Carrion-Murayari, who, with Alex Gartenfeld, had just been tapped as one of the
two curators of the 2018 New Museum
Triennial and was beginning a worldwide hunt for the next generation of important voices. Mr. Solano, a transgender artist who was denied access to
medical care in Mexico while in the
early stages of H.I.V. and went blind
from the infection, offered painted selfportraits — and was among the first of
26 artists or collectives from 17 countries
selected for the triennial, called “Songs
for Sabotage” and opening on Feb. 13 at
the New Museum of Contemporary Art
in New York.
In 2009, when the museum kicked off
its first triennial, titled “Younger Than
Jesus,” some critics raised their eyebrows at the ageist premise. Yet the focus on international youth has come to
distinguish these triennials from a slew
of rival shows. And the current news cycle makes this a potentially more interesting moment to consider the new generation’s sensibility. The fourth version
includes artists ages 25 to 38 whose
work often pushes back against social or
bureaucratic power structures and
sounds the call for change.
The personal risks can be high. Song
Ta, from Guangzhou, in southern China,
makes videos that undermine the government’s authority and have been
banned from exhibitions. Anupam Roy
has displayed his paintings as banners
at student protests in New Delhi. For
those working in Athens or Mexico City,
with hardly any commercial galleries to
support them, a different kind of “resourcefulness, collaboration and commitment to be an artist” is required, Mr.
Carrion-Murayari said.
This triennial “isn’t about making art
stars,” said Lisa Phillips, the director of
the New Museum, “but looking at
whether there are similarities and affinities across cultures among an emerging generation of artists.” Of course, in
years past some stars have risen: Danh
Vo, for example, whose survey at the
Guggenheim Museum in New York will
open on Friday, and Adrián Villar Rojas,
who transformed the Cantor Roof Garden at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
last year, both gained from exposure in
Top, Gary CarrionMurayari, left, and
Alex Gartenfeld,
the curators of the
2018 Triennial, at
the New Museum
in New York.
Above left, Janiva
Ellis’s “Thrill
Issues” (2017), and
right, Haroon
“Senzeni Na”
the 2012 triennial, “The Ungovernables.”
“When all of us are feeling the fire of
youth, young people’s voices have really
come to the fore, particularly in the last
year,” said Tom Eccles, the executive director at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College in New York State,
who is not affiliated with the New Museum. The challenge of the triennial,
compared with surveys where most of
the participants are already known, is to
find “artists we ultimately can believe
in,” he said.
Mr. Carrion-Murayari, 37, and Mr.
Gartenfeld, 31, the deputy director and
chief curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami, made nearly two
dozen trips around the world, to places
where artist communities weren’t digitally accessible. “We really made a focus of looking at artist-run and alternative spaces as ways of questioning how
global art markets have been growing,”
Mr. Gartenfeld said.
A shared mind-set that emerged
among the chosen — many showing in
the United States for the first time — is
“the recognition that what we’re experiencing today is the continuation of colonialism that has never truly ended,”
Mr. Carrion-Murayari said. Artists like
Daniela Ortiz from Peru and Cian Dayrit
from the Philippines speak in very similar ways about “ethnic and racist divisions that were put in place” during the
colonial period, the curator said, and
they are responding with subversive
Ms. Ortiz has proposed replacements
for monuments to Christopher Columbus in Madrid; Lima, Peru; and New
York, including a ceramic sculpture of a
refugee wearing a shirt that says, “The
migratory control system is the continuation of colonialism.” In Mr. Song’s
comical video installation called “Who
Is the Loveliest Guy?,” the artist perTRIENNIAL, PAGE 17
Open Thread:
When work
is a workout
She wears
and so do
her clones
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.
With a virtual show in Kardashian drag,
Kanye West finds a fashion groove
Kim Kardashian
West starred in a
Yeezy campaign
last year. This year,
her friends do.
New York Fashion Week may not begin
until Thursday, but as far as Kanye West
is concerned, it has already started. He’s
not on the official schedule, but in recent
days he made his presence known nonetheless.
Well, he does like to be first.
He, or some of his much-followed famous friends/collaborators, released a
surprise series of pictures on their Instagram feeds featuring themselves in
his Yeezy Season 6 collection, just in
time to catch the attention of the see
now/buy now crowd. But they weren’t
just any old pictures.
They were recreations of photos that
had accompanied the initial debut of the
collection, which rolled out late last year
after Mr. West had skipped fashion week
following a will-he-or-won’t-he dance
with the schedule. Instead, he created a
virtual lookbook for the line with faux
paparazzi shots of his wife, Kim Kardashian West, in his clothes: snapped as
if unaware, getting into her car, sucking
a lollipop, exiting a store and so on.
In itself, that was a clever piece of
marketing and self-aware cultural commentary, but the photos released in the
past week take the campaign to a whole
new level: recreating the original pictures, but with women like Paris Hilton,
Sarah Snyder (best known as Jaden
Smith’s ex-girlfriend) and Sami Miro
(ex-Zac Efron) all dressed up as Kim-alikes, complete with long platinum wigs.
It's very meta. The internet went into
the predictable ecstatic meltdown: Genius! Brilliant! And so on.
While I usually roll my eyes at this
kind of Pavlovian drool, I have to say:
This time I agree with the crowd. It’s the
most successful thing Mr. West has ever
done in fashion.
Not so much because of the clothes,
which look like pretty standard athleisure gear (crop tops and sweats and
bike shorts and bomber jackets), but because it has the one element that has always been lacking in Mr. West’s myriad
attempts to transform himself into a
credible style guru: humor.
Ever since he introduced his first
eponymous line in Paris in October 2011
(remember that?), his shows have been
marked, largely, by bombast, pretentiousness and overwhelming self-seriousness. There was, for example, the
time in Paris when he sent what Vogue
called “gothic go-karts” speeding out for
his finale. Then, after he repositioned
himself as Yeezy in New York, there was
the Madison Square Garden extravaganza at which he announced that he
I am just beginning my career in
pediatric physical therapy. I want to
look professional and polished, as
well as feminine, but have many
limitations. I have to wear pants/
trousers, my shoes have to be closetoed and flat (preferably athletic) and
I need to able to move all over the
place, pick kids up and perform exercises with them, without showing any
midriff or cleavage. I generally end
up looking more masculine than I
want, with a flexible button-down,
slim (but stretchy) trousers, and
athletic shoes. Please help me figure
out how to dress well for my job and
be happy and confident with the way I
look! — Caitlin, Seattle
was ready to be the creative director of
Not to mention the fiasco when he
dragged everyone out to Roosevelt Island between Manhattan and Queens,
kept them waiting in the stifling heat for
hours, and then treated them to the sight
of models fainting in the sun and unable
to walk the runway in their stiletto
boots. Or his tendency to schedule his
shows at the same time as some other
designer’s show, forcing attendees to
choose between them.
In each case the actual clothes on the
catwalk could not live up to the expectations created by the venue and presentation. They just weren’t original or alluring enough on their own.
By February 2017, he was slightly
cowed but still held his presentation before an enormous screen on which images of his collection towered over the
actual people on the catwalk. It was a
metaphor for his approach to the industry.
But perhaps not anymore.
Admittedly, it’s possible the Kimclones series is actually a statement
that, as far as Mr. West is concerned, he
and his wife are the dominating forces in
the pop culture landscape — proof positive that it’s a Kimye world, and we just
live in it. Maybe he’s not really poking
fun at the whole celebrity-fashion circus, and his own role in it: He’s exposing
it! You want to buy a piece of him and his
lifestyle by buying his products? Well,
let’s just call it like it is.
Chances are, given the ego involved,
that’s part of it. But it’s still almost impossible not to look at the images and
laugh. They are knowing, in the best
way — in the way that travels most effectively via social media and the digital
highway. And for that Mr. West deserves
There’s a lot of talk in fashion about
direct-to-consumer marketing and how
designers can use the internet and the
end of shows and how the system doesn’t work; a lot of talk of how everyone is
experimenting with different ways to
communicate — fashion films! exhibitions! parties! There’s a lot of chopping
and changing, and rarely has any of it
seemed like a truly successful alternative to the traditional show.
As far as Mr. West and what he makes
are concerned, however, I think he may
have found it. The medium fits his message (to redesign a phrase from Marshall McLuhan) in a way the classic catwalk format never did. Would-be disrupters might pay attention.
Now what I want to know is: Are they
going to sell the wigs, too?
And some of my banker friends complain about having to wear suits! They
should thank their lucky stars they are
not in your position. However, I have
been canvassing my fellow fashion
travelers for suggestions during downtime between shows, and we have
come up with two main recommendations, both of which should work for —
well, work! And after-work events as
First, try a tunic and leggings. The
bottoms can be as basic (and stretchy
and replaceable) as you like, but
switch up the tops — which should be
long enough to never put you in a
compromising position, but allow for a
more feminine edge — with patterns
and colors. Good places to try are Tibi,
Cos and Tory Burch.
Another possible solution is a shirtdress over loose trousers. This is a
Phoebe Philo look, and should also
check your main boxes (coverage,
flexibility) but give you a chance to
inject a bit of personality into your
wardrobe while still looking professional. Try Everlane, Equipment and
As for your shoes, the verdict was
unanimous: Go for white Stan Smiths
or Converse, and wear them with
everything. Instead of merely a
sneaker, they can become a signature.
For laughs
and followers
Naomi Watanabe, a
popular Japanese
comedian and
designer, on a Gap
shoot in New York,
far left, and in her
dressing room.
A social media sensation in Japan
aims to export her plus-size fashion
Naomi Watanabe
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HOMETOWN Ibaraki Prefecture, a two
hours’ drive northeast of Tokyo.
in Tokyo
CLAIM TO FAME With more than 7.6 million followers on Instagram, Ms. Watanabe is one of the most popular social
media celebrities in Japan. She is an
actress, comedian and fashion designer who is perhaps best known for
her skits imitating Beyoncé, Lady
Gaga and other pop stars, in which she
exaggerates their dance moves while
lip-syncing their songs on TV variety
A lifelong comedian who
enrolled in a Tokyo comedy school
when she was 18, Ms. Watanabe made
her TV debut in 2007 on “Waratte
Iitomo!” (“It’s O.K. to Laugh”), a daily
hourlong variety show that ran for 32
years before ending in 2014. The show,
which was broadcast live, featured a
roster of regular performers including,
at one point, Ms. Watanabe, who did
impersonations. Fun facts: Ms. Watanabe was once called the Japanese
Classic sneakers
like Stan Smiths go
with everything.
Beyoncé, and the show set a Guinness
world record for the longest-running
live TV variety show on the same
channel (8,054 episodes).
addition to comedy,
Ms. Watanabe was always interested
in fashion but had a hard time finding
plus-size clothes in Japan. As a teenager she would improvise by shopping
in men’s stores, or by buying a dress
and wearing it as a T-shirt. In 2014, Ms.
Watanabe started a clothing line called
Punyus (it means “chubby” in Japanese) that includes plus-size pieces for
women like her. Twice a year she introduces a new collection with a stadiumsize runway show. She modeled the
show after Victoria’s Secret, but instead of big-name artists like the
Weeknd performing, she is the main
attraction. “I’m like a fake musician,”
she said.
NEXT THING Ms. Watanabe plans to
spend more time in New York this
year, with ambitions to open a Punyus
store. She won’t be a total stranger in
the city: She was recently featured in a
Gap ad, dancing alongside MetroBoomin, SZA and Bria Vinaite, an
actress from “The Florida Project.”
CLASS CLOWN As a child, Ms. Watanabe
would study television skits starring
Ken Shimura, a Japanese comedian
known for his expressive faces. She
would, in turn, practice her own funny
faces whenever she could, including in
the school cafeteria. “As soon as my
classmates would take a sip of their
milk, I would make a crazy facial expression and see if they would squirt
out milk,” she said.
suaded Chinese naval officers to ride a
high-speed roller coaster, then videotaped their efforts to stay stern and
composed — although ultimately their
authority and restraint broke down.
“That’s sabotage, and that’s also
song,” Mr. Gartenfeld said. Here is a preview of six of the triennial’s activist-artists.
Left, a still from
Shen Xin’s video
installation “Provocation of the
(2017-18), and
below, an image
from Hardeep
Pandhal’s animated music video
“Pool Party Pilot
Episode” (2018).
AGE 28
BORN Cape Town
people’s voices
have really
come to
the fore,
particularly in
the last year.”
and Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Working with dispossessed communities in South Africa and Brazil, Mr.
Gunn-Salie makes immersive multimedia installations that give form to the
residents’ oral histories. For the triennial, he consulted with the widows and
survivors of the 2012 Marikana massacre in South Africa to create a sculpture
and sound installation memorializing
the 34 miners killed by police as the
workers were attempting to peacefully
disperse after a weeklong strike.
Mr. Gunn-Salie used police footage of
the crouching protesters at the moment
right before the police opened fire to
recreate the event with life-size figures,
headless and spectral, made of workers’
clothing stiffened and sculpted with
mixed media. “It’s almost like a graveyard,” said Mr. Gunn-Salie, who also included the sounds of blasting from the
mine as a link to the landscape. After
New York, he said he planned to take the
work home to be shown as a way of “further engaging what is going on with our
country and our leaders,” and pointed
out that one of the managing directors of
the mine is now highly placed in the
South African government. The artwork, he added, raises “a question of
AGE 34
BORN Ayacucho, Peru
Born during the civil war in Peru between Shining Path’s communist insurgents and the government, Ms.
Martínez Garay deconstructs visual imagery in propaganda as a way of understanding worldwide labor and social
movements. For the triennial, she
scoured the International Institute of
Social History in Amsterdam for posters
and leaflets across the political spectrum, focusing on repetitive imagery of
fighting warriors and animals. She is interested in how the same types of images have been used by rightist and leftist ideologies to manipulate the viewer.
She reproduced the figures as painted
wood cutouts and juxtaposed them attacking one another in a mural-size
work called “Cannon Fodder.” “It’s like
watching a cock fight,” she said.
AGE 28
BORN Richmond, Va.
LIVES/WORKS Philadelphia
In his mixed-media work and live performances, Mr. Wilson investigates “the
way that blackness is represented in the
city space,” he said — specifically the
treatment of black bodies as objects of
labor or desire, and the ever-present
threat of violence. “I’m interested in
producing a different possibility of representation” for African-Americans, the
artist said, “one that’s divergent from a
pervading global advertising style.”
For the New Museum, he gathered fliers and posters for church plays, strip
clubs and concerts that he found stapled
to scaffolding and telephone poles or
stuck to windshields in his neighborhood in West Philadelphia. Mr. Wilson
enlarged the photographic portraits to
life-size and affixed them to plywood
panels using thousands of reflective staples that screen part of the portraits, revealing just hands, feet, mouths and
ears. The subjects are protected, Mr.
Wilson said — even as the artist is locking them in.
AGE 27
BORN Chengdu, China
LIVES/WORKS London and
Above, “Antonin, le
beau (Antonin, the
beautiful),” which
Manuel Solano
painted in 2014 as
he was going blind,
and right, “Afr”
(2017), made by
Wilmer Wilson IV
with staples and a
pigment print on
Ms. Shen makes poetic film and video installations that explore how the authority of science and spirituality can be
eroded by real-life experiences. Our personal identities, emotions and relationships are constantly testing our belief
systems, she said. In “Provocation of the
Nightingale” (2017-18), one screen features YouTube videos of people discussing how the results of their AncestryDNA genetic tests shattered, or affirmed, their self-images. The facing
screen shows an intimate and wideranging conversation between two actors playing female lovers talking about
religious assimilation, the ethics of DNA
testing, abuses of power and rape.
“Shen is driven to ask these questions
because of a personal desire to understand herself,” Mr. Carrion-Murayari
said. But the universal nature of the issues she explores “makes them very relevant within a global context.”
“the only black person,” she said. Now
she makes paintings that communicate
the isolation and pain of the AfricanAmerican female experience. Each of
her three allegorical canvases in the triennial is set in a pastoral outdoor environment, to contrast with “the internal
mayhem” her subjects feel, Ms. Ellis
said. In “Curb-Check Regular, Black
Chick” (2017), the “battlefield” is a farmers’ market. A dark-skinned woman selecting produce appears to have internal
organs erupting from her chest. Three
white women recede in the distance.
“You’re in this pleasant situation, picking up a cabbage, but there’s still a
fraught dialogue that happens, whether
it be a memory or something a stranger
says” that can feel psychologically eviscerating, Ms. Ellis said. The paintings
are “not only an attempt to communicate to nonblack women my experience,
but also to call to other black women,
‘Do you feel this, too?’ ”
Jason Brooks
The Subject
Is Not
9 February —
10 March 2018
AGE 32
BORN Birmingham, England
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A second-generation British Sikh, Mr.
Pandhal often uses animation to satirize
racist and cultural stereotypes of his
community in Britain. For the triennial,
his psychedelic and humorous music
video “Pool Party Pilot Episode” features imprisoned sperm cells with turbans and beards. Delivered in rap and
rhyme, the artist’s narration splices together text from Charlotte Perkins
Gilman’s novel “Herland,” about a society of women who reproduce asexually,
and Elaine Morgan’s theory — not
widely accepted — that we evolved from
early ape ancestors who lived in the water. “Part of the work pokes at what constitutes race,” Mr. Pandhal said.
“There’s also a sort of ridiculing of male
power.” He is curious how the work will
be understood outside Britain. “In
America, there’s a well-documented
confusion people have about Sikh men
and Muslims,” he said.
AGE 30
BORN Oakland, Calif.
Ms. Ellis grew up in Hawaii feeling like
Marlborough Fine Art
6 Albemarle Street
London W1S 4BY
+44 (0)20 7629 5161
The exhibition will be held in the
ground floor and first floor galleries.
A fully illustrated catalogue is available.
stories about how women were marginalized in the scene as participants
and also how the music often reduced them to objects?
I would say that I was never really
that satisfied with the limited amount
of women that were in the scene. Two
of my favorite bands, Jejune and
Rainer Mari, had women co-leads. And
I had women singing on all my
records. But I’m not deaf. A lot of the
bands that followed our era, they were
like degraded copies every six months,
where I and everybody thought it was
almost like hair metal or something
like that, costumes some of them put
on. And the stories and the feelings
beneath them were incidental. I didn’t
relate to that. I think at that point it got
pretty much, like, by the numbers and
it was like, “O.K., you pick on a girl.”
The band Dashboard Confessional
and its frontman make a return
Did you reject it in the moment?
In 2009, Dashboard Confessional released what its frontman, Chris
Carrabba, felt might be the band’s
sixth and final album, “Alter the Ending,” a capstone to a decade-long run
that saw the band go from emo innovator to genre standard-bearer to elder
weathering the end of an era.
The group’s 2003 album, “A Mark, a
Mission, a Brand, a Scar,” and “Dusk
and Summer,” from 2006, both went to
No. 2 on the Billboard 200, perhaps the
symbolic peak of emo’s pop breakthrough. Mr. Carrabba’s songs —
scarred wails pulsing with nervy punk
energy — were among the genre’s
most recognizable, but all that wailing
took its toll. By the time of “Alter the
Ending,” Mr. Carrabba was tired, and
the scene he’d helped build had seemingly run its course.
In the down years, Mr. Carrabba, 42,
worked on outside projects, including
the bands Twin Forks and Further
Seems Forever. But a few years ago,
emo began to experience a revival.
Younger bands embraced him as a
touchstone. Some musicians asked for
collaborations, like Joe Mulherin, who
records as nothing,nowhere., bringing
him into a modern sound that built a
hip-hop hybrid on his emo foundation.
The zeitgeist has come full circle,
and on Friday, Dashboard Confessional
will release “Crooked Shadows,” its
seventh album and first since 2009.
Last month, Mr. Carrabba spent a
quiet evening at the Palm steakhouse
in Manhattan, where he ordered fish
and spinach. His hair was swept back
with pomade, as it long has been, and
he was wearing a hoodie advertising a
Bethlehem, Pa., bakery called Vegan
Treats. He was contemplative.
Over three hours, he talked about
retreating from the spotlight, the persistence of emo and accusations of
Yeah. I felt like it was gross. I thought
it was opportunistic. I thought it was
A few years
ago, emo
began to
experience a
revival, and
Mr. Carrabba
became a
Were there bands you wouldn’t tour
Yes. And it bummed me out and it
broke my heart a little. And in that
time, beforehand but especially once I
started to notice it, I made a rule of
trying as often as possible to have a
female-led band or a band with a woman in the band on tour with us.
You toured with Brand New. What
was your reaction to the allegations
against Jesse Lacey? [In November,
the singer was accused of sexual
improprieties by a woman who said
he solicited nude pictures from her
when she was a minor. He released a
statement apologizing for his behavior without directly addressing the
allegation. No charges have been
I think it is abhorrent, shocking.
Were you surprised by it?
I was surprised by it, because in this
case, I never saw anything that would
indicate that. I haven’t spoken to Jesse
about it, as we haven’t really spoken
that much in years. As part of the
scene — I don’t mean outside of it
being a band they looked up to, I mean
being one of the kids in it — I don’t
know how to not be offended by it.
First, I was a fan in that scene, then I
was somebody that people were fans
of. I remained a fan in that scene, too.
We had a trust.
There was a morality to it.
I felt that’s what made us different
than other scenes. We were the answer to the rock ’n’ roll cliché, I
sexual assault that have roiled the
genre. These are edited excerpts from
the conversation.
Is Dashboard Confessional a specific
mood, or a sound? When you write a
song, how do you know it’s a Dashboard song?
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It’s the elusive nature of it, which in
this case caused a seven- or eight-year
delay between records. That it comes
from some mysterious place is a little
bit of an overstatement. That it comes
at unpredictable times is probably the
better way to place it.
eager to deliver.”
Then one day off tour, I woke up one
morning and I walked downstairs and
I wrote a song, and it was evident from
the first melodic idea that this was a
Dashboard song. And the next morning, I woke up and I bolted for my
guitar. I realized, “I’m there.” After all
that time, I’d begun to wonder if they’d
ever come back, and when they came
back, they came back in rapid succession. The whole thing was a cavalcade,
and I just surrendered to it.
So it’s almost like ... “It’s
Yes, yes, it is. An unrelenting urge that
sends me in a metaphorical dead
sprint for a guitar. It’s coming on and
I’ve just got seconds to catch it, or it’s
Did that pose a problem when Dashboard reunited: “O.K., we’re ready as
a band. The fans are ready. But, is the
thing ready?”
Yes, and it wasn’t. If you were to have
been my accountant at that time, you
would say there might never be a
better time than right this minute to
release a record, but it just doesn’t
work for me that way. So the waiting
game began. We did our tour and a
year passed. I wrote, like, snippets and
then I would stop. I’d physically stop. I
put the pencil and the paper down and
said, “Stop it. You’re just eager, you’re
If they hadn’t come and you just
continued playing your back catalog
in amphitheaters, would you have felt
that something was missing?
No. I had decided that the worst thing
that could happen was that I write an
album that would hurt the legacy of
the albums I’d made already. But now
that I have this record, I can say it’s
because I’ve gotten in touch with that
place again and there was more to be
found there and I’m willing to risk the
whole legacy because it came from the
same place.
When someone like Joe Mulherin
from nothing,nowhere. says there’s a
home for you in what he does, does it
make you feel the zeitgeist has come
back around?
I feel like it’s emblematic of the concurrent paths we happen to be on. I haven’t stopped being an excessive consumer of music, old and new. There’s
nothing better — or frankly, worse —
Clockwise from
top: Chris
Carrabba, the
frontman of Dashboard Confessional, which is
releasing its first
album since 2009;
Mr. Carrabba and
the band on
“MTV2 Unplugged” in 2002;
and Mr. Carrabba
and Michael Stipe
of R.E.M. in 2003
at Arlene’s Grocery in New York.
than I wish I had written that lyric.
Phoebe Bridgers, she’s the real deal.
Dawes have that lyric which I think
might be the most romantic thing ever
said in a song if the listener that hears
it is a massive music fan: “May all
your favorite bands stay together.”
thing to navigate coming off the road.
That’s good.
Maybe this is a naïve or oversimplified way of talking about Dashboard
records, but I experience them as “I,”
not “we” records.
Those are the moments I’m looking for.
And with Joe, he’s got a mountain of
them. Phoebe’s got a mountain of
them. Julien [Baker]’s got a mountain
of them. I love that other people’s
songs can make me say, how much
deeper can I go?
You don’t really talk about your personal life, but you are married.
You’ve been married to the same
person all these years?
Yeah. My wife and I have navigated
this really well. She’s interesting and
she loves me and she cherishes our
relationship but she doesn’t need me.
She is self-actualized. She’s a strong
enough woman to handle the rigors of
distance. If anything, it was a difficult
I feel like on this album I heard the
word “we” more than on previous
I did, too, and I didn’t know it until the
record was done.
Well, I was navigating the world by
myself at that moment when I was
writing most of the Dashboard songs.
I’m now not only navigating the world
with my wife, but I’m looking back, I’m
holding on fiercely to what I realize is
so rare with this really strong circle of
friends that I’ve been lucky enough to
have. Previously, I was at a point
where I thought I was going through
things alone. Now I’ve just been in a
place where I’m no more certain about
anything that life’s handed me and the
reasons for it, but I’ve never been less
Have you come across any of the
feminist reassessments of emo —
Have these topics been an active
subject of conversation between you
and your peers?
Well, between me and my friends.
What about people who are in the
scene in some form or another?
No, it seems uncomfortable when I’ve
tried to talk to some of them about this.
They seem as concerned, but I think
that nobody knows how to come to
grips with the idea that our scene was
a place that something like this could
happen. It’s shameful. I don’t want to
believe that my part of the circle of
fans were treated that way or felt that
way at shows. I feel like we’re there to
take care of each other.
That’s what the ethics of a scene
really should be.
Like if I see a fight break out, I’ll stop
the show and say, “Stop the fight. Is
everyone O.K.?” It’s our responsibility
— not just the bands, anybody that’s
proactive in the scene — it’s our collective responsibility to say, in all
situations, “Are you O.K.?” I just didn’t
know I had to say it about this stuff. I
didn’t know.
Turning on
a revolution
disabled. Others followed suit.
Even so, Comella writes, the retailers struggled to stay afloat: Feminist
stores refused, as a matter of principle,
to trade on customers’ anxiety — there
were none of the “tightening creams,”
“numbing creams,” penis enlargers or
anal bleaches that boosted profits at
typical sex stores. Employees were
considered “educators,” and sales were
secondary to providing information
and support. What’s more, Good Vibrations in particular was noncompetitive; Blank freely shared her business
model with any woman interested in
spreading the love.
Consumer culture and feminism
have always been strange bedfellows,
with the former tending to overpower
the latter. Just as Virginia Slims coopted the message of ’70s liberation, as
the Spice Girls cannibalized ’90s grrrl
power, so feminist sex stores exerted
their influence on the mainstream yet
were ultimately absorbed and diluted
by it. In 2007, Good Vibrations was sold
to GVA-TWN, the very type of sleazy
mega-sex-store company it was
founded to disrupt. Though no physical
changes have been made in the store,
Good Vibrations is no longer womanowned. Although the aesthetics haven’t
changed, Lieberman writes, the idea of
feminist sex toys as a source of women’s liberation has faded, all but disappeared. An infamous episode of “Sex
and the City” that made the Rabbit the
hottest vibrator in the nation also
portrayed female masturbation as
addictive and isolating, potentially
leading to permanent loneliness. The
sex toys in “Fifty Shades of Grey”
were wielded solely in service of traditional sex and gender roles: A man is
in charge of Anastasia Steele’s sexual
awakening, and climax is properly
experienced through partnered intercourse. Meanwhile, the orgasm gap
between genders has proved more
stubborn than the pay gap. Women still
experience one orgasm for every three
experienced by men in partnered sex.
And fewer than half of teenage girls
between 14 and 17 have ever masturbated.
At the end of “Buzz,” Lieberman
makes a provocative point: Viagra is
covered by insurance but vibrators
aren’t, presumably because while
erections are seen as medically necessary for sexual functioning, the same is
not true of female orgasm. Like our
feminist foremothers, she envisions a
new utopia, one in which the United
States Food and Drug Administration
regulates sex toys to ensure their
safety, in which they are covered by
insurance, where children are taught
about them in sex education courses
and they are seen and even subsidized
worldwide as a way to promote women’s sexual health.
In other words: We’ve come a long
way, baby, but as “Vibrator Nation”
and “Buzz” make clear, we still may
not be coming enough.
By Hallie Lieberman. Illustrated.
359 pp. Pegasus Books. $26.95.
By Lynn Comella. 278 pp.
Duke University Press. $25.95.
Think back, for a moment, to the year
1968. Martin Luther King Jr. and
Bobby Kennedy were assassinated.
The Beatles released “The White
Album.” North Vietnam began the Tet
offensive. And American women discovered the clitoris. O.K., that last one
may be a bit of an overreach, but 1968
was when “The Myth of the Vaginal
Orgasm,” a short essay by Anne Koedt,
went that era’s version of viral. Jumping off of the Masters and Johnson
bombshell that women who didn’t
climax during intercourse could have
multiple orgasms with a vibrator,
Koedt called for replacing Freud’s
fantasy of “mature” orgasm with women’s lived truth: It was all about the
clitoris. That assertion single-handedly, as it were, made female self-love
a political act, and claimed orgasm as a
serious step to women’s overall emancipation. It also threatened many men,
who feared obsolescence, or at the
very least, loss of primacy. Norman
Mailer, that famed phallocentrist,
raged in his book “The Prisoner of
Sex” against the emasculating “plenitude of orgasms” created by “that
laboratory dildo, that vibrator!” (yet
another reason, beyond the whole
stabbing incident, to pity the man’s
poor wives).
To be fair, Mailer & Co. had cause to
quake. The quest for sexual self-knowledge, as two new books on the history
and politics of sex toys reveal, would
become a driver of feminist social
change, striking a blow against men’s
overweening insecurity and the attempt (still with us today) to control
women’s bodies. As Lynn Comella
writes in “Vibrator Nation,” retailers
like Good Vibrations in San Francisco
created an erotic consumer landscape
different from anything that previously
existed for women, one that was safe,
attractive, welcoming and ultimately
subversive, presenting female sexual
fulfillment as “unattached to reproduction, motherhood, monogamy — even
As you can imagine, both books
The “White Cross
Electric Vibrator
Girl” as pictured in
a 1911 Health and
Beauty catalog.
(which contain a great deal of overlap)
are chockablock with colorful characters, starting with Betty Dodson, the
Pied Piper of female onanism, who
would often personally demonstrate —
in the nude — how to use a vibrator to
orgasm during her early sexual consciousness-raising workshops in New
York. I am woman, hear me roar indeed.
Back in the day, though, attaining a
Vibrator of One’s Own was tricky. The
leering male gaze of the typical “adult”
store was, at best, off-putting to most
women. Amazon, where sex toys, like
fresh produce, are just a mouse click
away, was still a glimmer in Jeff Bezos’s eye. Enter Dell Williams, who
after being shamed by a Macy’s salesclerk while checking out a Hitachi
Magic Wand, founded in 1974 the mail
order company Eve’s Garden. That
was quickly followed by Good Vibrations, the first feminist sex toy storefront; it’s great fun to read the back
story of Good Vibes’ late founder, Joani
Blank, along with radical “sexperts”
like Susie Bright and Carol Queen.
The authors of “Vibrator Nation”
and “Buzz” each put in time observing
how sex toys are sold, so have firsthand insight into the industry. Whose
take will hold more appeal depends on
the reader’s interests: In “Buzz,” Hallie
Lieberman offers a broader view,
Cracking Wise
Edited by Will Shortz
The law professor and author, most
recently, of “Political Tribes” loves
comic novels: Kingsley Amis’s “Lucky
Jim,” she says, “is possibly my all-time
favorite book.”
What books are on your nightstand?
love novels and short stories, but for
some reason poetry evades me. I consider it a deep moral failing in myself,
especially because my husband and
daughters are avid poetry lovers. A
good friend gave me Edward Hirsch’s
“How To Read a Poem,” which I read
and still have on my shelf, but it didn’t
work. Also, I’m not a fan of rambling
books about traveling across the country while experimenting with psychedelic drugs. I need a plot.
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You wrote a memoir, “Battle Hymn of
the Tiger Mother,” that touched on
many issues around parenthood.
What are your favorite books on child
I never read any child rearing books
when I was raising my daughters;
maybe that was my problem! I actually didn’t intend for “Battle Hymn” to
be a parenting book either. I had totally
different hopes for the book. I’ve always loved books with wacky unreliable narrators. Believe it or not, my
models for “Battle Hymn” were “Pale
Fire,” by Vladimir Nabokov; “Zeno’s
Conscience,” by Italo Svevo; and “A
Confederacy of Dunces,” by John Kennedy Toole. Also Dave Eggers’s “A
Heartbreaking Work of Staggering
Genius,” which, come to think of it, is a
child-rearing book of sorts.
Which genres are you drawn to and
which do you avoid?
This is so embarrassing, but I can’t
read poetry. Try as I might, and I really
have tried, I just don’t get poems. I
Peggy Orenstein is the author of “Girls
& Sex” and a new book of essays,
“Don’t Call Me Princess.”
By the Book
Amy Chua
My nightstand is filled with junk, but
next to my bed there’s a huge pile of
books. They include Elif Batuman’s
“The Possessed,” which is exhilaratingly great and somehow manages to
be erudite about Russian literature and
funny at the same time; Ali Smith’s
“Autumn,” which is about an eccentric
friendship between an octogenarian
and a young girl who share a love of
words; Anne Enright’s “The Green
Road”; Anthony Kronman’s “Confessions of a Born-Again Pagan”; Fredrik
Logevall’s “Embers of War”; and Lisa
Ko’s “The Leavers.” Oh, and “The Art
of Raising a Puppy,” by the Monks of
New Skete, which I’m rereading because I’m about to get two new puppies.
and even perpetuated a sexist status
“Vibrator Nation” focuses more
narrowly on women-owned vendors,
wrestling with how their activist mission bumped up against the demands
and constraints of the marketplace.
Those early entrepreneurs, Comella
writes, believed nothing less than that
“women who had orgasms could
change the world.” As with other utopian feminist visions, however, this one
quickly splintered. Controversy broke
out over what constituted “sex positivity,” what constituted “woman-friendly,”
what constituted “woman.” Was it
politically correct to stock, or even
produce, feminist porn? Were BDSM
lesbians invited to the party? Would
the stores serve transwomen? Did the
“respectable” aesthetic of the white,
middle-class founders translate across
lines of class and race? If the goal was
self-exploration through a kind of
cliteracy, what about customers (of
any gender or sexual orientation) who
wanted toys for partnered play or who
enjoyed penetrative sex? Could a sex
store that sold nine-inch, veined dildos
retain its feminist bona fides? Dell
Williams solved that particular problem by commissioning nonrepresentational silicone devices with names like
“Venus Rising” from Gosnell Duncan,
the man who made prosthetics for the
taking us back some 30,000 years,
when our ancestors carved penises out
of siltstone; moving on to the ancient
Greeks’ creative use of olive oil; the
buzzy medical devices of the 19th
century (disappointingly, doctors’
notorious in-office use of vibrators as
treatment for female “hysteria” is
urban legend); and the impact of
early-20th-century obscenity laws —
incredibly, sex toys remain illegal in
Alabama — before digging deeply into
more contemporary influences. In
addition to feminist retailers, Lieberman braids in stories of men like Ted
Marche, whose family business —
employing his wife and teenage children — began by making prosthetic
strap-ons for impotent men; Gosnell
Duncan, who made sex aids for the
disabled and was the first to expand
dildo production beyond the Caucasian
pink once called “flesh colored”; the
Malorrus brothers, who were gag gift
manufacturers (think penis pencil
toppers); and the hard-core porn
distribution mogul Reuben Sturman,
who repeatedly, and eventually disastrously, ran afoul of the law. Although
their X-rated wares would supposedly
give women orgasms, unlike the feminist-championed toys they were sold
primarily as devices that would benefit
men. Much like the era’s sexual revolution, in other words, they maintained
What book might people be surprised
to find on your shelves?
Maybe all the funny books I have,
starting with Laurence Sterne’s “The
Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy,
Gentleman,” which starts off with the
narrator as a homunculus (sperm) at
the moment of his ill-conceived conception. Kingsley Amis’s academic
satire “Lucky Jim” is possibly my
all-time favorite book. I still occasionally burst out laughing just thinking of
the protagonist’s nemesis Bertrand
Welch, a pompous pseudo-intellectual
who wears a beret and says “You sam”
— a stretched out version of “You see.”
More recently, David Sedaris’s “Me
Talk Pretty One Day,” B. J. Novak’s
“One More Thing,” and Ali Wentworth’s “Happily Ali After” all had me
on the floor.
Which books were you most eager to
introduce to your children? And
which books have they introduced to
Some of my own childhood favorites
like Robert McCloskey’s “Make Way
for Ducklings,” Maurice Sendak’s
“Pierre” and “Where the Wild Things
Are,” Crockett Johnson’s “Harold and
the Purple Crayon” and Esphyr Slobodkina’s “Caps for Sale.” Then, as the
girls got older, “Caddie Woodlawn,”
“Black Beauty,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “The Witch of Blackbird
Pond” and “From the Mixed-up Files of
Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.” My husband was in charge of reading Tolkien,
“The Chronicles of Narnia” and Lloyd
Alexander’s “The Chronicles of Prydain” with my daughters, and it was
through the three of them that I got
introduced to science fiction books like
Of the books you’ve written, which is
your favorite or the most personally
A 2007 book called “Day of Empire:
How Hyperpowers Rise to Global
Dominance — and Why They Fall.” It
argued that, relative to the societies
around them, all of history’s greatest
powers were strikingly pluralistic and
tolerant on their rise to power, and that
in every case their decline coincided
with a stark turn to intolerance and
xenophobia. If only it had come out a
decade later! But I’m an optimist. As I
explore in my new book, “Political
Tribes,” I think America has self-correction mechanisms built into our
identity and our institutions.
Who would you want to write your life
My daughters, Sophia and Lulu, jointly.
Or maybe Elif Batuman, who I think is
supersmart and really funny. I love her
idiosyncratic way of looking at things.
She’s the daughter of Turkish immigrants — and studied violin at the
Manhattan School of Music — so I
think she’d relate. Also, she seems like
a generous spirit, and I could definitely
use that!
What do you plan to read next?
“Turtles All the Way Down,” by John
Green, and “The House of Government,” by Yuri Slezkine.
1 52-story Boston
7 Brass instrument
with a mellow
15 ____ Malfoy,
student at
20 Sorkin and
21 Kind of equinox
22 Puerto ____
23 “Stop! You’re
killing me!”
25 ____-garde
26 Give some lip
27 Uncut
28 More than
30 For whom the
Lorax speaks
31 Internet home to
“Between Two
34 Latin for “womb”
38 Monsieur’s mate
41 Y or N, maybe
42 Shakespeare
character who
says “This above
all: to thine own
self be true”
45 Actor Jason
47 Zugspitze, e.g.
50 A person skilled
at deadpan has
52 What “4” may
stand for
54 French river or
55 Beseech
56 Advert’s ending?
57 Designer
58 Carrier to
61 Tugboat sounds
65 Decked out
67 Unimpressed
response to
someone’s oneliner
72 ____ intolerance
73 Novo-Ogaryovo
is the official one
of the Russian
74 Lavatory sign
75 Hawke of
“Training Day”
76 Regrettable
79 Broadway’s
81 “Roméo
et Juliette”
85 Coin toss call
86 Stand-up chain
started in Los
92 Big engine
93 Log-in needs
94 Verbally assail
95 “Iglu,” for “igloo”:
97 Cover over, in a
99 Start limping
100 It might involve
someone being
“so poor” or “so
104 “____, amigo”
107 Count ____
108 Nail salon
employees, at
110 Its “reeds are
a pain / And
the fingering’s
insane,” per
Ogden Nash
114 Lipinski and Reid
115 “Jeez … lighten
120 Be grandiloquent
121 To this day,
Marie Curie’s are
still radioactive
122 Mystery
123 Lacoste and
124 Star of 1976’s
Oscar winner for
Best Picture
125 Smoothed in a
1 Some body art,
for short
2 “Hilarious!”
3 Noteworthy
4 Lobster traps
5 Med.
who take a
pledge named
for Florence
6 Welcomes
7 Plaster
8 Condition for
filmdom’s Rain
9 Suffix with
10 “Oh, what the
hell … I’ll do it”
11 “Uh, you’ve
told me quite
Solution to puzzle of January 27-28
10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19
28 29
31 32 33
34 35 36 37
38 39 40
43 44
47 48 49
52 53
58 59 60
67 68
62 63 64
65 66
70 71
76 77 78
87 88 89
81 82 83 84
90 91
95 96
100 101 102
104 105 106
108 109
110 111 112 113
115 116 117 118
12 Where Michael
Jordan played
coll. ball
13 Meadow call
14 Poet Ginsberg
15 “Game of
16 Joan who
quipped ”A
Peeping Tom
looked in my
window and
pulled down the
17 “Pick ____ …”
18 “Pretty please?”
19 Doing a
pirouette, say
24 Poison ivy, e.g.
29 Some sneakers
30 Something
carried onstage?
31 “Terrif!”
32 Fifth category
of taste with a
Japanese name
33 “Peter ____
Greatest Hits”
(1974 album)
34 High hairstyle
35 Doughnut
36 Late ’50s singing
37 One of many
scattered in
a honeymoon
suite, maybe
39 Light bark
40 Cry from Homer
43 Kind of port for a
flash drive
44 Manage
46 Night vision?
47 Bowl
48 Maid’s armful
49 Made an appeal
51 Hymn starter
52 Habitation
53 Around the time
of birth
59 Chains
60 Car rental giant
62 Poet who wrote
“Fortune and
love favor the
63 Org. that offers
Pre✓ enrollment
64 ____ fly
66 One on the left?:
67 Greatly bother
68 TV blocking
69 Tops
70 Finish all at
once, in a way
71 Things taken
by government
72 “Sounds like a
77 “Don’t be ____!”
78 ____ Walcott,
Nobel Prizewinning poet
80 Patriots’ org.
82 Bad state to be
83 Mine transport
84 Modern party
87 Euros replaced
88 Bustle
89 Grp. that puts on
a show
90 Fleets
91 Wall St. bigwigs
93 Like Mount
95 Empty
96 Brings a smile to
98 Like some
angels and
100 Champion
101 Airport that
J.F.K. dedicated
in 1963
102 Erin of “Joanie
Loves Chachi”
103 Locks up
105 Concoct
106 Bug
108 Jester
109 Feeling
110 Anthony
Hopkins’s “Thor”
111 City NNE of San
112 “My treat!”
113 “My stars!”
116 Cambodia’s
Angkor ____
117 Court org.
118 Skit show, for
119 What makes you
easy labels
is his game
Hybrid qualities underpin
the latest series from the
writer-producer Alan Ball
Donald Trump was elected president,
and we started to see the show as a
kind of prism through which we could
look at all these different characters’
multiethnic, multigenerational viewpoints living in Trump’s America. How
do you deal with that? How do you
make sense of that?
If Alan Ball has learned anything from
his decades in television, it’s that an
hourlong television show doesn’t need
to be neatly categorized. This Georgiaborn writer’s series “Six Feet Under,”
after all, was a dark comedy about a
diversely dysfunctional funeral home
family, while his “True Blood,” based
on the Southern Vampire Mysteries
novels by Charlaine Harris, combined
elements of fantasy, horror, bodiceripping ardor and — why not? — family, too.
So when Mr. Ball had lunch with
Casey Bloys, HBO’s president for
programming, to talk about the pilot
script for his new series, “Here and
Now,” he was unapologetic about its
hybrid qualities. “Casey said, ‘Is this a
family show or a supernatural show?’ ”
Mr. Ball recalled with a laugh. “And I
said, ‘Yes.’ ”
On the surface, it’s about an idealistic couple — Greg (Tim Robbins) and
his lawyer wife, Audrey (Holly Hunter) — who see themselves as “social
justice warriors,” as Mr. Ball put it, and
adopt three children: Duc (Raymond
Lee), from Vietnam; Ashley (Jerrika
Hinton), from Liberia; and Ramon
(Daniel Zovatto), from Colombia.
They’re older siblings to the couple’s
biological child, Kristen (Sosie Bacon).
But as close-knit as the family is, it
teems with secrets, neuroses and
trauma. The most talked-about element, though, is likely to be Ramon’s
strange visions, which point to a possibly metaphysical connection with his
psychiatrist (Peter Macdissi), a family
man dealing with his own personal
issues. (The show has its premiere on
Feb. 11.)
In an interview at his office at Paramount Studios, Mr. Ball, 60, dressed in
a plaid shirt and coping with a bad
cold, talked about nuanced Muslim
characters, midlife crises and dressing
up an Oscar. Here are edited excerpts
from the conversation.
Why Portland?
Portland has this reputation for being
so incredibly progressive — and it is.
However, it also has a pretty sketchy
history in terms of racism. For a place
that’s very progressive, it’s still predominantly Caucasian. So there’s an
interesting dichotomy there, because
it’s a very progressive town and one of
the greatest places to live. At the same
time, it isn’t really what it aspires to
What research did you do for the
Above, Alan Ball,
the creator of
“True Blood” and
“Six Feet Under,”
who is returning to
television with
“Here and Now.”
Top right, Tim
Robbins and Holly
Hunter in “Here
and Now.” Right, a
scene from a 2004
episode of “Six
Feet Under.”
Like Greg, you recently turned 60.
Were you as unhappy about the milestone as he appears to be?
How did you go from vampire romance in rural Louisiana to a troubleladen multiracial family in the Pacific
work. I knew that HBO was looking for
a family drama. So I sat down to write
one. But I didn’t want it to be just
another family drama about a family
dealing with what families deal with.
Certainly a multiethnic family made it
more interesting for me as a writer. It
also just seemed like it would give us
more interesting stories than sibling
I’d done a couple of pilots for HBO that
didn’t go. I also have a bunch of movies
that I’ve written over the years that
nobody seems to want because they
aren’t about superheroes or exploding
machinery. I’m a person who likes to
rivalry or somebody gets a mammogram. You know, your usual family TV
show tropes. [Laughs] The sort of
mystical-mysterious element just sort
of happened.
Were your story lines affected by the
political moment?
I was working with the writers when
A ‘Homeland’ spy
suddenly pivots
The 2016 election prompted a shift
by the German actress Nina Hoss
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In the fall of 2016, the German actress
Nina Hoss followed the American presidential campaign up close: She was in
New York, shooting the sixth season of
“Homeland,” in which she played a fan
favorite, the intelligence agent Astrid. It
was time to go home to Berlin, where
she was scheduled to return to theater;
she was considering performing “The
Human Voice,” Jean Cocteau’s 1930
monologue that consists entirely of a
woman pleading on the phone. But the
election of Donald J. Trump changed
Ms. Hoss’s plans.
“I thought, I can’t really spend three
months, now, with a character who
wants to get her lover back with all the
different ways a woman has,” she said
during a visit to Brooklyn last fall. In
barely accented English, she added,
“God, who wants to see that?”
The election brought about “a strong
shift” in her thinking, she said. “I heard
a lot of New Yorkers say, ‘How could
they do that to us?’ — the people who
voted for Trump. But I thought, It’s not
that easy, you know? They must be in a
state of desperation. I ask myself, am I
political enough? Don’t we all have to
get involved more? I wanted to ask myself and the audience: What happened,
and what are we going to do now?”
So Ms. Hoss made the kind of hairpin
turn the new world order demanded.
She and the German director Thomas
Ostermeier came up with a new work,
“Returning to Reims,” for the prestigious Schaubühne Theater in Berlin.
The production, which had its premiere
I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to
write a lot of the characters in this
show from a place of personal experience. So when we — myself and my
producing partner, Peter Macdissi —
were putting the writers’ room together, we made sure that we had a couple
of African-Americans, a guy of Asian
descent, a Lebanese Muslim guy and a
Palestinian gay guy. We have people
who are adoptive parents. Growing up
in my white privilege, I have no reason
to know these things. So it’s not so
much research on my part, it’s having
these great writers that I work with
who bring their own experiences to the
in Manchester, England, last July, then
moved to Berlin, is now being presented
in English at the Off Broadway theater
St. Ann’s Warehouse, where it will open
on Sunday for a run ending on Feb. 25.
The play is based on the French philosopher Didier Eribon’s 2009 memoir
about growing up gay and intellectual in
a homophobic working-class family that
went from voting Communist to supporting the far-right National Front.
(Some of the themes will be familiar to
readers of J. D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy.”) The book was a best seller in Germany, where it bitterly resonated in the
new political climate, both international
and domestic.
“I think it has to do with the fact that
Germans are, due to our terrible history,
very sensitive to developments on the
new right,” Mr. Ostermeier said by telephone from Berlin. “They’re desperately looking for explanations to understand that phenomenon.”
There was just one hitch in moving
the story to the stage: It had no role for
Ms. Hoss. So she and Mr. Ostermeier —
whose explosive “Richard III” was at
the Brooklyn Academy of Music in October — devised a radical adaptation.
In the play, Ms. Hoss, 42, takes center
stage as an unnamed actress recording
the voice-over for a documentary based
on Mr. Eribon’s book. About 45 minutes
in, the narrator starts questioning the
decisions of the film’s director (played
by Bush Moukarzel), who has been hovering in the sound booth. The book, the
Nina Hoss at the
Schaubühne Theater in Berlin. On
Sunday, she will
open Off Broadway
in the theater’s
production of
“Returning to
Reims,” based on
Didier Eribon’s
2009 memoir.
Well it’s hard to age, to get older, to
realize “Wow, my body isn’t working
like it used to.” It’s hard to go, “How
many years do I have left?” I’m not
sure I have any empirical data to back
this up, but I think it’s harder for men
than women. I think women are more
in touch with their emotions, with the
cycle of living. Whereas men are conditioned to believe that we’re invincible
and will remain that way forever —
and we’re stupid enough to believe
that. [Laughs] I feel like I’ve had about
five midlife crises. I think the first one
was when I was about 35. As someone
who struggled with depression and
anxiety [my] whole life, I feel like you
got to pull yourself out of there, you got
fake movie (which includes footage of
Mr. Eribon chatting with his mother,
filmed by Mr. Ostermeier and Sébastien
Dupouey) and Ms. Hoss’s own life
merge as she brings her father, Willi
Hoss, into the story.
“Everybody who read the Eribon
book ended up talking about their own
family, background or history, so I
thought it might be a good idea to make
that fruitful in the production,” Mr. Ostermeier said. “Nina was happy to do it,
even though it took her a lot of work and
A key difference between Mr. Eribon’s
upbringing and Ms. Hoss’s is that his
was miserable, and hers decidedly less
so. “I had a fantastic childhood,” she
said. “I had two parents who had a lot of
belief in humanity and people, and always fought with enthusiasm — never
for themselves but always in a group.”
Her father started as a welder and trade
unionist, then was elected to Germany’s
Parliament and was a founder of the
Green Party. Her mother, Heidemarie
Hoss-Rohweder, ran a theater company.
In the play, Ms. Hoss makes this activism come to life by showing pictures and
home videos of her father, including
some from trips he made to help save
the Brazilian Amazon’s rain forest. In a
recent telephone conversation, Ms.
Hoss described spending several summers there as a teenager, watching her
father take measurements for pipes or
Eventually, though, she took her
mother’s route and attended drama
school. Her association with Mr. Ostermeier dates to 1999, and “Returning to
Reims” is their third collaboration at the
Schaubühne, after Yasmina Reza’s dark
comedy “Bella Figura” and a revival of
Lillian Hellman’s “The Little Foxes.”
In a move indicative of Ms. Hoss’s
process, a mix of research and intuition,
she tweaked her take on the wicked Regina Giddens nightly in “The Little
“Sometimes I felt the world is really
mean to her,” Ms. Hoss said with a
chuckle — she laughs a lot in conversa-
to find a way. I wanted Greg to start off
at the bottom. I wanted to see him
work his way out of that.
You also feature a Muslim family
where the parents are comfortable
with their child being transgender. Is
there a story behind this?
Peter said, “If this is going to be a
show about America, we need a Muslim family to be a part of this tapestry.”
People are so terrified of, don’t understand, project all kinds of weird stuff
onto Muslim characters — especially
the way they’ve been depicted in the
mainstream media. They’re never
complex or nuanced. I did some research and, of course, there are trans
Muslim kids. We’re so conditioned to
think of Muslim families as so conservative that there’s no room for any
kind of out-of-the-box expression for
one’s identity — and that’s just not the
Your favorite childhood movie — “My
Six Loves” — is about a family of
adopted children. Are you paying
It’s not my favorite movie. It’s the first
movie I ever went to see. Debbie Reynolds plays an actress who ends up
adopting six adorable hillbilly children.
And she realizes: “Oh, I don’t want to
be an actress. I want to be a mother.
That’s what’s really fulfilling.”
[Laughs] One of the running gags is
that one of the kids is mesmerized by
flushing the toilet, and he keeps doing
it. I just remember that was the first
time I sat in a big darkened theater,
looked up on a screen and saw this
story unfold. I haven’t seen it since I
was 5 or 6. I’m sure it would be a big
letdown from what exists in my memory.
In 2000, you won an Oscar for writing
“American Beauty.” I read that you
dressed it in a pink fur coat. Because?
[Laughs] My identity, a lot of it, is
based in feeling like the outsider. So
when I won an Oscar, it was terrifying.
When I brought it home, I put it on a
shelf, and it looked so pretentious. So I
bought a pink fur Barbie coat and put
it on [the Oscar] and somehow it made
it O.K. for me to have it in my house.
But then I got over that and took it off.
Now I have a shelf in my office where
all the statuaries are. None of them are
tion, as if happy to be taken on a ride by
her own quicksilver mind. “Her brothers treat her horribly, so she becomes a
horrible person. Other nights, she’s like
the men: She just wants it the way she
wants it, and that’s horrifying. Women
can be horrible, too, and they should be
One of Ms. Hoss’s greatest strengths
as an actor is a deceiving calm that
somehow suggests both confidence and
vulnerability. “Even when she whispers,
she captures the audience,” Mr. Eribon
said by telephone. Early in “Returning
to Reims,” he said, “she speaks low to
herself, rehearsing the reading, yet
we’re fascinated.”
This quality allows Ms. Hoss’s presence, at once cryptic and warm, to resonate even in small roles. It was such a
supporting part, in fact, that led to
“Homeland.” That series’s showrunner,
Alex Gansa, first spotted her alongside
Philip Seymour Hoffman in the spy
thriller “A Most Wanted Man” (2014),
then confirmed his hunch by watching
her carry the period melodrama
“Phoenix” (2015), and cold-called her.
“One of the things Nina loved about
Astrid, more than anything, is that she
had a sense of humor,” Mr. Gansa said by
telephone. “We spent a lot of time in the
writers’ room giving her that color because she can be so wry and funny in the
most understated way. Being grown-up
never seemed so sexy.”
The “Homeland” job has opened
doors for Ms. Hoss, who recalled, with a
smidgen of incredulity, being recognized by passers-by in New York. Because the Schaubühne runs on a timeconsuming repertory model, with yearlong commitments, she’s decided to put
the stage aside for a while after this
summer, and focus on her screen career.
“I’ve done theater for a very long
time,” Ms. Hoss said, “and I feel more
and more these two systems just don’t
work with each other, especially if I
want to work in the U.S. So now I’m
available.” She laughed, again. “But I’m
always going back to theater, I know
Bibilical injunctions
and Greek revenge
‘The Ten Commandments’
and ‘The Oresteia’ come to
vital stage life in Austria
Above, the cast of
“Die Zehn Gebote”
at the Volkstheater
in Vienna. Left, the
all-female cast of
“Die Orestie” at
the Burgtheater.
Mr. Nunes
how the cycle
of violence
ing the entire drama in the raw performances of the actors. Instead, he finds cinematic texture by fiddling with narrative structure.
Kieslowski’s series is centered in a
large housing project. Over the course of
it, there are many chance encounters:
We gain new perspectives on stories we
have already seen. In Mr. Kimmig’s version, the characters from various
episodes intrude on one another. Sometimes, they take a seat downstage and
spectate. At other times, they interrupt
to introduce a new tale. Each segment
builds to a moment of ethical crisis, and
so these narrative breaks, which become increasingly frenzied after the intermission, succeed in sustaining tension over the course of the whole per-
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“For 6,000 years, these rules have been
unquestionably right. And yet we break
them every day,” the Polish filmmaker
Krzysztof Kieslowski wrote describing
“The Decalogue,” his monumental series of 10 hourlong films, each devoted to
one of the Ten Commandments. In the 22
years since Kieslowski’s death, his reputation as one of modern cinema’s most
distinctive and influential auteurs has
only grown, and “The Decalogue,” first
shown on Polish television in 1988-89, is
often regarded as his crowning achievement.
This season, the Volkstheater in Vienna is paying unusual tribute to Kieslowski with “Die Zehn Gebote” (“The
Ten Commandments”), an engrossing
theatrical version of “The Decalogue”
that compresses the 10 original segments into a fast-moving and dramatically incisive two and a half hours.
The tales by Kieslowski and his coscreenwriter, Krzysztof Piesiewicz, are
parables of ethical imperatives and moral quandaries set during the final days of
Communist Poland. The Volkstheater’s
adaptation, by Stephan Kimmig, who
also directed, and Roland Koberg, retains the setting of the original series,
while seven actors from the company’s
ensemble bring to life a large and varied
cast of characters — 31 roles in total —
who flit in and out of the individual vignettes with remarkable elasticity.
Jealousy, infidelity, lies, greed, illness,
murder, kidnapping and cowardice are
some of the elements that Kieslowski
and Piesiewicz investigated in their
screenplays. This stage version is, by
necessity, abridged, yet much of the
original dialogue has been retained,
supplemented by spoken narration that
adds a knowing meta-theatrical element. It’s not merely that these figures
are aware of being in a play; they seem
conscious that they are recreating characters and scenarios not originally written for the stage.
That stage is mostly bare, save for the
front of a truck, with a white-haired
woman watching the performance
through the shattered windshield. Her
presence is never explained, although
she may allude to the nameless, silent
character who appears in all but two of
the films and, by observing but never interfering in the action, introduces a suggestion of the divine or supernatural.
Unlike in the films, the commandments are presented out of order, often
prompting the viewer to consult the
playbill to figure out where we are in the
cycle. Like the films, however, “Die Zehn
Gebote” often leaves the viewer to meditate on the relationship between the
kitchen-sink realism of the individual
tales and the biblical injunctions to
which they are joined, however obliquely.
“Die Zehn Gebote” is a true ensemble
piece, and the actors are excitingly
matched. Lukas Holzhausen is both
tender and weary as a single parent
whose teenage daughter suspects he is
not her biological father. Anja Herden
gets to survey a wide dramatic range,
from a matriarch who must plead for her
grandchild’s return to the cynical, promiscuous neighbor in the most famous
episode of “The Decalogue.” As both a
lawyer against capital punishment and a
committed doctor who is forced to play
God, Gabor Biedermann demonstrates
how a practiced, professional demeanor
cracks up in the face of moral uncertainty and outrage.
One of Kieslowski’s most admired
traits as a filmmaker was his ability to
translate his philosophical and dramatic
ideas into stark images. Putting “The
Decalogue” onstage requires finding
equivalents for visual storytelling. Mr.
Kimmig, a prolific German director, resists the urge to use video, concentrat-
Archi Dior collection
White gold, pink gold and diamonds.
formance. After the emotionally frantic,
“Short Cuts”-like crisscrossing of the final half-hour, the energetic curtain call,
with its numerous costume changes (to
remind the audience who played whom)
feels cathartic in itself.
The ethical conundrums of a building
full of Poles would probably seem like
small fry to the occupants of the House
of Atreus, whose famous family curse is
being revisited next door in the Burgtheater’s powerful all-female production
of “Die Orestie” (“The Oresteia”). Using
a much-whittled-down version of Peter
Stein’s German prose translation (that
version ran to nine and a half hours during its original performances at the
Berlin Schaubühne in 1980), Antú Romero Nunes has brought his stripped-
down, savage aesthetic to Aeschylus’
tragic trilogy. Over 140 intermission-less
minutes, seven of the Burgtheater’s
powerful actresses transform the broad
stage of Vienna’s most elegant dramatic
theater into a claustrophobic pressure
The staging by Mr. Nunes, a young
and in-demand German director (next
month, he will direct the Bavarian State
Opera’s premiere of Verdi’s “Les Vêpres
Siciliennes”), suggests that the story is
being told from the point of view of the
Furies, the goddesses who mete out divine justice in the pre-legal world of
Greek myth. The trilogy’s final chapter,
“The Eumenides,” can, in fact, be read
as a parable for the establishment of the
Athenian judicial system.
By assigning all the roles to a handful
of actors, Mr. Nunes also highlights how
the cycle of familial violence affects everyone — protagonists, chorus, gods
and Furies. For the spectator as well, it
is impossible to remain neutral or indifferent to the vicissitudes of this 2,500year-old tragedy.
With soiled white garments, black
boots and ratty blond locks, their faces
caked in white paint, the actresses look
like a chorus of the undead. Save for the
ambient music, the occasional fog and
the black blood that comes streaming
downstage at one point, these women
are themselves the production, from Andrea Wenzl’s pained, defenseless Cassandra to Aenne Schwarz’s violent and
conflicted Orestes. (Ms. Schwarz is also
sensational in the Burgtheater’s “Antigone,” which makes an excellent companion piece for this “Oresteia.”)
Maria Happel and Barbara Petritsch
are boldly cast as Agamemnon, who sacrifices his daughter to secure favorable
winds for the Greek fleet sailing to Troy,
and Aegisthus, who plots the king’s
downfall. Two longtime members of the
Burgtheater’s ensemble, they more
than hold their own against the production’s younger actresses, matching
them in dramatic and even physical intensity.
Perhaps best of all is Caroline Peters’s
nuanced Clytemnestra. Her performance is shot through with pride, grief
and cunning, never more so than in her
unsettlingly tender scene with Orestes,
the long-exiled son who has returned to
murder her. That love, suffering, fear
and the desire for revenge can coexist
inside one breast is something that perceptive artists of subtle moral imagination have always been able to comprehend.
Are Bitcoins realer
than boyfriends?
She believed that loving a person
would be a safer bet than cryptocurrency
Modern Love
Recently, my brother experienced a
cryptocurrency windfall. Almost
overnight, $300 ballooned into tens of
thousands, and now he can remodel his
basement. Maybe. I don’t know. I
suppose he can if he finds the money
lurking behind the math.
Since the spring, I have furrowed my
brow through two lunches, three dinners and half a dozen kaffeeklatsches
during which my conversation partners made pronouncements about the
ever-mystifying Bitcoin. They were
certain of the simplicity of what I call
“space money,” certain of its life cycle,
certain of its dynamics.
My mind, on the other hand, can
manage only a few key words before it
charges merrily toward free association: Bitcoin, blockchain, key chain,
chain of fools, fools rush in, Salma
Hayek, etc.
Throughout these brain-blitz discussions, my boyfriend sat beside me and,
I assumed, shared my skepticism. But
then the impassioned talk would animate him, and I wondered if he, too,
might soon invest. And I judged them
all for it.
I thought: “Why invest in something
you can never hold in hand?” Faith in
things unseen, with the stakes as high
as they are — I couldn’t surrender to it.
And that’s curious, because I’m a
religious person: hopeful, faithful and
forever looking toward the nothingness
of sky knowing, in my bones, that
there’s a “there” there.
But with love, I was focused on
something tangible. I could see what I
was holding. The very flesh of it. And I
knew it was substantial enough to
warrant all of my beaten-down but
unrelenting faith.
I was holding someone who generated so much noise, in me and for us. He
stimulated thought and conversation in
a way that felt endlessly curious.
He was insistent about everything:
that people apologize, that he bring hot
tea to his evening doorman, that deodorant and body spray are one and
the same, that I drink more water.
He was set ablaze by the political
news ticker. He had dreams for this
country and suffered no one’s apathy.
He preferred winter to summer and
took to snow like a child.
When he painted — a leisure habit
he was trying to incorporate into his
everyday life — there was no leisure in
it. He was fierce, self-deprecating and
He loved his family as I did mine:
completely, proudly and with the highest priority.
Whenever I placed a meal before
him, he looked like a recent escapee
from prison, wild-eyed and deliriously
His absurd physical comedy worked
like a charm on me.
And for someone born in the 1990s,
he had an inexplicable love of jazz.
When we first met, I was battling to
extricate myself from a relationship
with someone profoundly kind but with
whom I was misaligned. Months after
the demise of that relationship, I saw
him again, at a lazy Saturday gathering of friends. Engrossed in an hourslong conversation, we ignored everyone else all afternoon until I let him
walk me home.
I knew he would ask me for a date
before long, and, after twice declining
in consideration of a friend who had
once dated him, I could no longer
resist. He felt too familiar to bypass. As
if, despite having no shared roots, we
had been growing toward this encounter all along.
On our first date, I belly laughed
multiple times. I thought of my friend
Rebecca, who instinctively knew that
the man who is now her husband was
“it” because of a sidesplitting first
On our second date, we lay awake on
the cold cement in Joan of Arc Park
until the birds began their morning
And, at the end of our third, he huddled beside me in a bus station,
pressed play on “Try a Little Tenderness” and slipped his phone into his
breast pocket, the music drifting between us like the softest and most
fated stitching of time.
Six months later, walking through
Midtown Manhattan in the bitter November cold, we noticed a bedraggled
man peering into the window of a pizza
shop, retreating to the curb, and then
returning to look through the panes.
My boyfriend asked if he was hungry and pressed a sandwich into his
hands. The man thanked us, but then
met our gaze beseechingly and said,
“How did you know?”
I listened long enough to hear my
boyfriend say, “We didn’t. You just
looked a little tired,” before I turned
my back and burst into tears.
A month later, my boyfriend would
say that this was the moment he fell in
love with me. For me, it was just one of
hundreds of times I fell in love with
him all over again.
Like the time he defended me
against a critical friend. Or when he
was waiting in my office one morning
with a sly smile on his face and flowers
in his hands. Or when he sneaked into
my apartment to assemble a behemoth
of an armchair. Or when he deferred to
my expertise in conversations about
education. Or when he fed my niece
supper. Or when he took capacious
interest in my friends or childhood
home, people and places to which he
had no connection other than me. Or
when he fearfully, but finally, said he
loved me.
Every time I introduced him to
friends, I felt proud. He was magnetic,
interested, interesting and always
To be fair, a month into our relationship, he said he was worried about the
pressure my readiness for commitment might visit upon him. But I believed there was something between us
that could not be replicated. I had a
hunch, even then, that this union bore
my sought-after truth — that we vibrated at the same frequency and
would always grow in lock-step pace.
These elusive
wonder coins
bear and
accrue value
because of
the shared
faith that
miners and
place in them.
Several months later, after a painful
fight, we parted at the subway — I in
sadness and he in anger. But moments
later, he came bounding down the
stairwell just as my train arrived,
followed me into the car and said he
felt sick the instant he’d left me.
Over the coming months, he would
say that we were his deepest love, that
he had no reservations about me, just
about his own readiness.
Piteously, I would hear only the first
For years before we met, I had been
consumed by a numbness that utterly
reduced me. The pain of leaving home
to attempt adulthood was exacerbated
by my inability to find peace in partnership. I tried to turn every relationship into a love that could replace the
mighty one with which I was raised,
but they left me feeling unseen or
With him, though, I felt alive. I felt
like the version of myself I long assumed had been dead and buried. And
I began to believe that I was meant to
be paralyzed by fear throughout all of
those tumultuous years so that, when
he finally appeared, I would be free to
love him.
The predicament of surprising
someone with a bad reference
The Ethicist
to references for college
or graduate school, the norm is that
you agree to do them only if (a) you
have a duty to do so or (b) the person
asking for it knows that you’re going to
be critical, if you are. You have no duty
being well cared for. You might think
you shouldn’t agree to provide a reference unless you think it will help your
neighbors get what they want. That’s a
mistake. You can agree to provide one
if it will do what they ought to want,
which is to help the authorities make
the right decision. That’s what you owe
them, and at least as important, that’s
what you owe the child.
to write for this person. So you should
explain that your letter would be informed by your knowledge of her
misconduct. You told her you’d give a
good reference; that’s no longer true,
and she should know it.
My boyfriend and I live in his vacation
home in summer. We’ve become friendly
with several neighbors. One couple has
huge fights every few weeks with
screaming and swearing you can hear
down the block, triggered, possibly, by
her drinking. I don’t know them well.
I’ll call them Bob and Karen.
They recently took in the woman’s
granddaughter — her son’s child. The
son is in prison, and his child was
placed with a friend and then in a foster
home. Bob and Karen have had the
child for about a year. We’ve had the kid
over to visit a few times. The fighting
did not stop; in fact, one day the whole
block could hear Karen yelling at the
child and slamming doors.
To my complete surprise, my
boyfriend and I were asked to be their
personal reference so that this couple
can adopt the child. Clearly, this is not a
good situation, but is it better to have
the child ripped from yet another home
and placed yet again?
Of all the neighbors, we probably
know them the least, so why are they
asking us? My partner says it’s probably because year-rounders would
refuse. We can say no, but I don’t want
to make enemies. We can say yes and
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This spring, my assistant decided to
pursue medical school and quit her job
so she could take prerequisite courses.
She asked me if I would provide her
with a reference, to which I agreed. Her
work was competent, if not stellar, and
I told her I was happy to give a good
It has since become clear that she
committed a number of mistakes that
cost the company thousands of dollars.
She seems to have known and tried to
fix what happened, but she never reported the issues, leaving us to discover
her errors — and the corresponding
costs — after the fact.
I expect to receive reference forms
soon. Am I obligated to tell her that my
opinion has changed and that she may
want to choose a different reference?
Or should I just complete the reference
informed by my new understanding?
Name Withheld
I started to understand what others
had always described: the softening of
edges that certainty affords us. All the
things that might have troubled me
about him — his inability to hear me
when he was fixed upon a computer
screen, his lukewarm interest in fiction, his occasional melodrama —
could be set aside if it meant that I
could keep him.
For the first time in my life, I didn’t
label our differences as damning. They
were the space within which we divided, leaving room for us to yearn for
each other, to be dazzled by each other,
to always want to draw the other
Everyone with whom I have discussed Bitcoin has affirmed that it is a
system based on trust. These elusive
wonder coins bear and accrue value
because of the shared faith that miners
and moneymakers place in them.
And now, I’m kicking myself for not
investing some paltry sum at an earlier date.
All along, I thought I was holding
something of value because I could see
and feel it. But realness and value are
products of shared and equal faith, no
matter if in things unseen. I can’t find
simply tell the truth of what we know or
have observed, which isn’t a lot. I am so
torn about this; contributing to either
outcome for this child is a tough decision. Name Withheld
into difficulty here by
thinking that it’s up to you to decide
what’s best for the child. That simply
can’t be right. You don’t know nearly
enough to make that decision. Our
child-welfare-and-adoption system is
notoriously imperfect, but it is run by
trained people who are required to
assemble all the relevant information
before a decision is made. No doubt
Karen and Bob have chosen you because they think you will tell a story
that helps their case. But your only
obligation is to be truthful. That will
mean providing your best judgment
about something you don’t say much
about, namely whether the child is
I am a physician often approached to
write letters for people. These letters
generally fall into two classes: 1. Asking
for work accommodations based on
illness, or 2. Requests to be exempted
from some requirement, like participating in jury duty. Recently I was asked to
provide a letter for an elderly woman
with a medical illness that would enable
her to apply for citizenship without
taking the exam, which she would be
unable to pass because of her illness.
She has been in the U.S., legally according to her family, for less than 10 years,
has never held a job and has never paid
taxes. They want her to have citizenship
because it will allow her to receive more
in benefits. (I am not sure this is true,
but I am not a lawyer or even that
interested. I have no interest in seeing a
person without a valid status be deported either.) My concern is that she is
requesting an exemption in order to
collect benefits toward which she has
contributed nothing. In a world of
scarce resources, this makes me uncomfortable. On one hand, she is one person, whose costs will not be particularly
burdensome to the state in which she
lives, which is large. On the other hand,
she is asking not to play by the rules.
However, the illness is real, and I am
not being asked to falsify anything; she
truly has the illness, and it truly pre-
or visualize Bitcoins, and I will never
understand how complex math brings
them deeper into reality. But when
people equally believe in them, they
become viable.
He and I, on the other hand, were
doing our arithmetic separately, in
each of our messy minds. And while I
will never understand how someone
could hold the full weight of me in his
arms and choose to let go, I understand that his final calculus was different from mine.
With Bitcoin, you know exactly how
much you invest, how much you stand
to lose, how much you own.
Going into this — my hard-won,
full-bodied love — I only knew that I
had everything to gain. And I just
thought that, if I could see it, feel it and
know it to be true, it couldn’t possibly
But between my brother and me, one
of us now has a soon-to-be remodeled
home, its reliable cemented foundation
paid for by “space money.” And the
other, palms bare, remains suspended
in space.
Malka Fleischmann works as a speechwriter in New York.
vents her from taking the exam. However, I’m not 100 percent comfortable
doing this for her. Finally, she came to
see me only to get the letter because
only a doctor in my specialty can certify
that she has the illness in question.
What’s your thinking? Name Withheld
OF ALL THESE testimonies about testimony, your case is the most straightforward. Your job in this process is to
certify what, in your professional
judgment, is true about her medical
condition. Your only objection to doing
so is that the truth here could entitle
her, under the law, to benefits she
wouldn’t otherwise get. You think this
is wrong because she didn’t pay into
the system that’s going to help her.
Note, first, that this has nothing to do
with her being an immigrant. There
are native-born Americans who never
pay into the system. But also note the
assumptions you’re making about
giving and taking. Our social welfare
system is, in effect, a system of social
insurance. It’s designed so that people
get out what they need, not what they
put in. There’d certainly be no point in
the system if we were allowed to take
out only what we put in. We could just
stash money away for a rainy day.
Once people join our society, we should
surely want them to flourish like everyone else. Even if you think I’m
wrong about this, though, the right
thing to do is to focus on changing the
laws, not preventing someone from
doing what, at present, she may be
lawfully entitled to do.
Kwame Anthony Appiah teaches philosophy at N.Y.U. He is the author of “Cosmopolitanism” and “The Honor Code:
How Moral Revolutions Happen.”
real estate
A chance to live
in a historic site
House Hunting In . . .
$596,000 (745,000 CANADIAN DOLLARS)
This three-level brick house, built in
1832, is in Old Quebec, a section of Quebec City designated as a Unesco World
Heritage site.
The six-bedroom house, which is operated as a bed-and-breakfast, was originally a tavern and inn, said the owner,
Jacques Brouard. The buyer may use it
as a private residence or continue to operate it as a B&B under the terms of a
city permit, he said.
The main floor has a living room, dining room, kitchen, office and powder
room. There is a fireplace in the dining
room, which has walls of exposed brick
and limestone, a common building material in Old Quebec, Mr. Brouard said. A
large wooden door separates the dining
room from the rustic kitchen, which has
a wood stove and a round center island.
A stairway at the front of the house
leads to the second level, currently used
only by the owners, Mr. Brouard said. It
has three bedrooms, one of which has a
fireplace, and one bath with a soaking
tub and open shower. A small office is at
the end of the hallway.
Another stairway leads to the thirdlevel guest rooms: three bedrooms with
dormers, three full bathrooms and a
small living room. (The city permit allows the booking of three bedrooms.)
A yard and parking area are to one
side of the house.
Behind the property, a staircase leads
to the Battlefields Park, a national park
that includes the Plains of Abraham, the
site of a defining battle during the
French and Indian War.
The property is less than a mile from
the Boulevard Champlain, which runs
along the St. Lawrence River. A biking
and walking path joins up with the
Promenade Samuel-De Champlain, a
popular riverside park about three
miles away, Mr. Brouard said. The Jean
Lesage International Airport is about a
20-minute drive.
dos, which stalled the sales of existing
condos, stretching their days on market
last year to almost twice that of 2011, Mr.
Pinsonneault said, noting that prices of
resale condos have declined by roughly 1
percent to 2 percent in each of the last
four years.
In the fourth quarter of 2017, the median sale price for a condo in Quebec City
was 240,000 Canadian dollars (or about
$192,000), Mr. St-Pierre said. The median sale price for a single-level home, he
said, was 267,000 Canadian dollars; for a
two-story house, it was 355,000 dollars.
The areas of the city in highest demand are the borough of Les Rivières,
which posted a 27 percent increase in
sales last year, and the neighborhood of
Sainte-Foy, where sales rose 17 percent,
he said. Both are close to the city center
and the river.
Foreign buyers are more common in Toronto; Vancouver, British Columbia;
and Montreal, but Americans and Europeans do buy in Quebec. Martin Dostie,
an agent with Sotheby’s International
Realty Canada, which has this listing,
said that most of his foreign clients are
from France and Belgium, but he also
has buyers from Spain, Uruguay and
There are no restrictions on foreign buyers in Quebec, Mr. St-Pierre said. The
real estate agent’s commission, usually
4.5 percent to 5 percent, is paid by the
Mortgages are available, but foreigners are typically required to put down at
least 25 percent. And new lending rules
in Canada require all buyers applying
for a mortgage to meet a so-called stress
test, Mr. St-Pierre said; they must prove
they could still qualify for the mortgage
if the interest rate were twp percentage
points higher.
Quebec City tourism:
Quebec government:
Unesco listing of Old Quebec:
The market in Quebec City has been
fairly flat for several years, said Dominic St-Pierre, the senior director for
Quebec Province at the real estate company Royal LePage. While the city has a
low unemployment rate, at less than 4
percent, he said, “it doesn’t have the
population growth that some other Canadian cities have,” and a large inventory of homes for sale has kept prices
from rising.
“It’s been a buyer’s market since
2013,” said Marc Pinsonneault, a senior
economist with the National Bank of
Canada. “Especially in the condo segment,” he added, which represented
nearly a quarter of sales in the broader
Quebec City metropolitan area last year.
Overbuilding led to a glut of new con-
Shady past,
gleaming future
Luxury condos replace
bait shops and pollution
on the Miami River
French and English; Canadian dollar (1
Canadian dollar = $0.80)
Annual city and school taxes on this
property are the Canadian equivalent of
about $6,150, Mr. Dostie said. But using
the house as a private residence, rather
than a B&B, would lower the city taxes,
Mr. Brouard said.
Transaction fees usually total around
2 percent of the purchase price, and include a real estate transfer tax at a graduated rate based on the value of the
The home, top, near a battle site of the
French and Indian War, includes a
dining room with a fireplace, three
bedrooms and bathrooms with tubs.
Martin Dostie, Martin Dostie Group/
Sotheby’s International Realty Canada,
+1 418-956-8687;
Residences, a 66-story tower under construction on 1.25 acres near the mouth of
the river. When the site went on the market it set off intense bidding, with an Argentine developer buying it for $125 million, a record per-acre price in South
Florida. The most expensive units in the
building — the first foray by Aston Martin, the British luxury carmaker, into
real estate branding — will cost $50 million.
Several other projects of similar
breadth are in the works, including a
25,000-seat soccer stadium just north of
the river in the run-down Overtown
neighborhood. On Monday, Major
League Soccer officials announced their
approval of a Miami franchise led by David Beckham, the former soccer star,
whose choice of the nine-acre site after a
four-year search appeared to seal the
deal. If the project overcomes legal challenges, other investments in the area’s
transformation are expected to follow.
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The Miami River, which meanders
through the city center, was for years a
slovenly mess, its shores lined with
small, scrappy shipyards, bait-andtackle shops and low-rent marinas with
rotting piers. When decrepit vessels
sank, they were often left where they
lay, hulls protruding from the oily water.
On the river, just over five miles long
and formed eons ago as drainage for the
Everglades, rum runners and Coast
Guard officers exchanged gunfire in the
reckless days of Prohibition. During the
drug-ridden 1980s, traffickers imported
contraband in speedboats under cover
of night, stashing the loot in riverside
warehouses. The waterway’s reputation
reached its nadir in 1985, when a group
of corrupt police officers raided a traffickers’ boat and stole $9 million worth
of cocaine. Three dealers drowned while
trying to flee.
But now the river, echoing feverish
development in the nearby Brickell
neighborhood, along the Miami oceanfront and on the barrier islands of Miami
Beach, is in the midst of a vigorous regeneration of its own. Fortunes are being lavished on flamboyant condominium towers, first-class restaurants, retail
stores and other construction on or near
its banks.
“The Miami River is hot,” said Alicia
Cervera Lamadrid, a broker whose firm
is handling sales for the Aston Martin
Horacio S. Aguirre, the chairman of
the Miami River Commission, said the
river’s reputation as a “slummy no
man’s land” notorious for “dead bodies,
floating cars and nefarious activities”
had made it difficult to attract developers, especially because Miami Beach
and other oceanfront locales provided
far more rational enticements for moneymaking.
Florida officials set up the commission in 1998 to improve the river’s dismal
condition, and a crucial task, Mr.
Aguirre said, was to haul the sunken
wrecks and other junk out of the putrid
water. In 2004, workers embarked on a
four-year dredging operation that deepened the river by three feet and cost $89
million, a tab shared by federal, state
and local agencies. Once that was done,
developers, who had begun to run out of
parcels elsewhere in South Florida, took
a fresh look at the Miami River.
Although some new buildings along
the waterway went up as far back as
2000, and several condo towers were
built near its mouth more than a decade
ago, most construction ground to a halt
during the recession. With few impediments now, a burst of fresh projects are
either being planned, under construction or completed, their crowns blending into the skyline of downtown and the
Brickell neighborhood.
Just beyond the south side of the river,
the $1 billion Brickell City Center — a
huge complex that includes a shopping
center, offices, luxury condos and a hotel
— opened in November 2016 and inspired a slew of projects in its vicinity.
Across the river, the New York developer Shahab Karmely spotted a large
empty lot, once a shipyard, while he was
prospecting in the area in 2013. The result will be One River Point, a two-tower,
60-story condominium designed by the
Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly that
will be topped off by a pair of 14,000square-foot “sky villas” costing about
$30 million each. Spanning the gap between the towers, 800 feet in the air, a
three-level private club will be encased
almost entirely in glass. Construction is
scheduled to start in early 2019.
Mr. Karmely, the principal at KAR
Properties, said he had seen similar
growth along rivers in London, Frankfurt and other cities, and regretted not
diving in. “I didn’t take advantage of it,”
he said while cruising the Miami River
in a motorboat. “But I said to my partner: ‘This is undiscovered country. You
can’t go wrong with a river. It’s dilapidated, but filled with potential.’ ”
Paul S. George, a history professor at
Miami Dade College and the author of
“Along the Miami River,” which begins
its narrative with Spanish troops being
entertained by Tequesta Indians on the
river’s banks in 1568, said the development in recent years was nothing short
of astonishing.
“This was a dormant area, completely, for over 50 years,” Professor
George said. “There was nothing going
on here for decades, but people have just
taken to this river. It’s been a long time
Among the newcomers is the New
York fashion designer Naeem Khan,
who has dressed the Duchess of Cambridge, Michelle Obama, Beyoncé and
Taylor Swift and who plans to move his
headquarters to a site just east of the
12th Avenue Bridge. He also intends to
build a factory and a 26,000-square-foot
school for aspiring fashion designers
New developments and businesses
along the waterway northwest of downtown are interspersed with boat sheds,
fishing piers and modest dwellings. Tugboats tow freighters, ferries and yachts
to repair yards like the century-old
RMK Merrill-Stevens, which is undergoing a $30 million renovation. At some
docks, the decks of cargo ships bound
for Haiti and the Dominican Republic
are stacked with mattresses, kitchen appliances and secondhand vehicles.
“It’s the charm of the river — it’s
unique,” said Roman Jones, who made
his name as a nightclub impresario in
Miami Beach and opened Kiki on the
River, an upscale restaurant with a
Greek flavor, in April.
The $1 billion
Brickell City Center, which includes
a shopping center,
offices, luxury
condos and a hotel,
has inspired other
high-end projects
on or near the
Miami River.
An outdoor paradise
with food and culture
Visitors to this Canadian city will find
a revived downtown scene, locally sourced
menus and world-class recreation facilities
36 Hours
Calgary, Alberta
The construction cranes that pierce the
downtown Calgary skyline and nearby
neighborhoods suggest a boom on the
Alberta prairie. In fact, in the past two
years, sagging oil and gas prices have
crimped Calgary’s economy, which is
now showing signs of recovery. Projects
underway before the slowdown, including the music museum at Studio Bell,
have charged the city’s cultural scene. A
new generation of chefs is championing
Alberta-grown-and-raised foodstuffs,
and a relaxation of liquor production
laws in 2013 has led to a boom in microbreweries. Visitors to Banff National
Park commonly land in Calgary and
head directly to it, about a 90-minute
drive west. But Calgary also champions
the outdoors, with extensive recreational paths, Olympic facilities that are
open to the public and a penchant for
open-air cafes even in winter when, occasionally, the warm chinook winds
sweep in.
Music appreciation 3 p.m.
Arrive at the Studio Bell (18 Canadian
dollars admission, or about $14.50),
home to the National Music Center, in
time to catch the 3 p.m. demonstration of
its silent-movie-era organ. The music
museum approaches its subject from
multiple angles spanning the purely visual — recently, the singer K.D. Lang’s
vintage-inspired costume collection —
and the science of sound. Interactive exhibits teach visitors to play the drums,
guitar or piano and conduct a touchless
theremin instrument. The fifth-floor
bridge that connects the two wings of
the museum, designed by the architect
Brad Cloepfil, features a “Solar Drone”
installation that gathers solar energy
from roof panels to play its ceiling-suspended series of piano sound boards.
When you leave, peek through the
ground-floor windows to spy the R.V.based mobile studio once owned by the
Rolling Stones.
Expanding your beltline 5:30 p.m.
Calgary’s Beltline, a gentrifying neighborhood just blocks south of downtown,
is destined to expand yours. Some of the
city’s most creative chefs and bars have
addresses here. Start with a fancy cocktail — try the rosy mezcal-sloe-gin Other
walls bracketing the raised stage, and
elevated banquettes offer uninterrupted sightlines.
Snow biking 9:30 a.m.
With some 500 miles of multiuse pathways, Calgary claims to have the most
extensive urban recreational network in
North America, and Calgarians cycle in
all seasons, including winter. Make like
a local and arrange to have a fat-tire
bike, designed to ride in the snow, delivered from Nomad Mobile Gear Rentals
(60 dollars for one day). For a scenic
ride from downtown, cycle the paths
that follow the Bow River, which bisects
the city. Several pedestrian and cycling
bridges cross it, including the tunnellike
Peace Bridge, designed by the Spanish
architect Santiago Calatrava.
Special rations noon
Work up an appetite for lunch at Deane
House. The retrofitted 1906 home, originally part of the frontier outpost Fort
Calgary, is now under the management
of the team behind the acclaimed River
Café in Prince’s Island Park. The menu
champions contemporary Canadian cuisine, drawing on local ingredients in
seasonal dishes that recently included
hangar steak tartare with puffed barley
(17 dollars), cured Alberta trout with
beets (14 dollars) and duck confit pirogi
(21 dollars). Tables fill sunny wraparound porches, and interior rooms
channel the wild yonder in landscape
paintings and mounted animal heads.
Artistic license 1:30 p.m.
Public art animates Calgary’s downtown, and Jaume Plensa’s gigantic wiremesh head “Wonderland” is a popular
selfie stop. For a more thoughtful exploration of contemporary art, make your
way to the Esker Foundation (free) in an
Inglewood office building. The privately
funded, noncommercial gallery, named
for a type of ridge left behind by retreating glaciers, aims to stimulate discussion on contemporary affairs via three
shows staged each year. Winter shows
survey the color effects explored by the
artist Kapwani Kiwanga (through May
6) and the fantastical beasts created by
the duo known as DaveandJenn
(through April 29).
Indie shopping 2:30 p.m.
Across the Elbow River from downtown,
Inglewood makes a funky first impression, and its collection of independent
boutiques maintains that vibe. Troll for
locally made ceramics and wood-turned
bowls at Galleria Inglewood. Among
several resale shops, Antiquaire Boutique assembles good-condition vintage
apparel. Shop Purr Fine Clothing & Accessories for retro-inspired looks, the
dining at one, Charbar. Here the chef
Jessica Pelland butchers animals, ages
steaks and cooks them on an Argentinestyle wood-fired grill. This is a steakhouse that meat-averse diners can embrace, with loads of vegetable options,
including a charred and raw vegetable
salad (14 dollars), best ordered with a
side of Sidewalk Citizen sourdough (6
dollars) from the neighboring bakery.
Grilled “asado style” steaks (market
price) come with beef fat fries. Start
with a spicy rum-citrus Boxspring cocktail (13 dollars) and end with an espresso
(5 dollars) from Phil & Sebastian Coffee
Roasters, another Simmons tenant.
Arts in common 7:30 p.m.
Calgary may be most associated with
cowboys, thanks to its 10-day summer
rodeo, the Calgary Stampede, but its actors, dancers and musicians contribute
to a thriving performing arts scene over
the rest of the year. Though influential
groups, including Lunchbox Theatre
and the Alberta Ballet, perform elsewhere, the Arts Commons complex of
theaters downtown makes handy onestop cultural shopping. Resident companies include the polished Alberta Theater Projects and the innovative One
Yellow Rabbit Performance Theater.
Endless brunch 10:30 a.m.
You may spot local chefs and restaurateurs browsing the Calgary Farmers
Market, especially if you’re in the company of Karen Anderson, owner of Alberta Food Tours. The Calgary-based
cookbook author offers a series of culinary tours in the province, including the
Sunday Brunch and a Calgary Farmers’
Market Tour (55 dollars). The event
starts with Yum Bakery savory pastries,
salads and Fratello Analog coffee procured at the market and served at the
neighboring J. Webb Wine Merchants
shop. Next, a promenade around the
food stalls allows you to sample Better
fruit ice pops, Sylvan Star Gouda cheese
and Lund’s Organic Farm seasonal
produce, among many satiating stops.
The cocktail bar at
Proof, in Calgary’s
Beltline, a
just blocks south
of downtown.
Olympic homage 1 p.m.
Calgary held the Winter Olympics in
1988 and has continued to use the venues, which are now a training draw for
medal hopefuls. Several Olympic facilities are open to the public, including the
bobsled run at WinSport park. More accessible is Olympic Plaza in the heart of
downtown; it was built for the Games as
the site of the medal ceremonies. In winter, the reflecting pond becomes a free
skating rink, attracting Katarina Witt
and Brian Boitano imitators.
How to Understand
Our Times The Future of Humanity
Yuval Noah Harari
in conversation with
Thomas L. Friedman
Other Woman (13 dollars) — in a swanky
setting at Proof. Then walk a block to
Ten Foot Henry, a hardy vegetable-focused restaurant with a bustling dining
room and a cheeky cartoon namesake.
The open kitchen turns out robust dishes that include roasted gai lan broccoli in
tahini (13 dollars); a Spanish-style tortilla made with yams (10 dollars); and
scallops with smoked prosciutto (29 dollars). For small plates and natural
wines, hit the retro charmer Pigeonhole
from the chef Justin Leboe, where past
menus have included heirloom tomatoes with local peaches (15 dollars) and
lamb bacon atop toast (12 dollars).
Uncommons for wearable sleeping bags
and the Silk Road Spice Merchant for
herb blends. Lodged in a former stable,
the Livery Shop stocks clothing and accessory brands with rustic character, including Brixton flannel shirts, Fjallraven backpacks and the shop’s own
Camp Brand Goods T-shirts.
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/W e П
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The Livery Shop,
which occupies a
former stable,
stocks clothing and
accessory brands
with rustic
Eclectic avenue 9 p.m.
The stretch of 9th Avenue Southeast
running from Studio Bell through the
neighboring Inglewood district has
been dubbed the Music Mile for its
clubs. At least two of them stage live music nightly, including the blues-centric
Blues Can. Nearby, Ironwood Stage &
Grill programs everything from bluegrass and jazz to Bruce Springsteen
tributes, socially conscious folk music
and nationally touring acts. Paintings
and photographs of music stars line the
Beer break 4:30 p.m.
Since December 2013, when the province dropped its minimum production
levels, microbreweries have exploded in
the city. Eighteen are now plotted on a
new map available free at many breweries. While in Inglewood, take a break
with a refreshing Dandelion’s Blonde or
a fruity This Must Be the I.P.A. (5 dollar
pints) at Cold Garden Beverage Company. The 2017 newcomer occupies a garagelike industrial space with thriftshop couches and wooden tables.
Three-in-one dinner 6 p.m.
New construction is filling the redeveloping East Village near the river. But
one prominent historic address, the former Simmons mattress factory, has
been saved and now hosts three acclaimed restaurants. Try them all by
March 19, 2018
6.45–8.00 p.m.
Central Hall
Storey’s Gate
London SW1H 9NH
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