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International New York Times - 03 March 2018

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PAGE 13 |
PAGE 16 |
3- 4,2018
As Xi gains,
what does
Beijing lose?
Signs point
to another
chaotic year
for Trump
Mary Gallagher
White House turnover rate
in president’s first year
is double previous record
ANN ARBOR, MICH. This week’s an-
nouncement that term limits for China’s president and vice president
would be lifted may have been arresting, but it hardly was surprising: Since
Xi Jinping acceded to the presidency in
2013, he has concentrated more power
than any Chinese leader since Mao
Analysts soon warned that allowing
Mr. Xi to keep his position beyond
2023, when his second five-year term
ends, could make him more authoritarian. But this would certainly make him
more authoritative, and so arguably
better able to steer China’s vast bureaucracy through
the major challenges
Term limits,
ahead. The change
now lifted,
will strengthen Mr.
had allowed
Xi’s influence in
China to
China and the counmanage elite
try’s influence in the
On the other hand,
and popular
for nearly three
decades, term limits
have served as a
formal mechanism
for transferring power within the
Chinese Communist Party (C.C.P.) —
an effective way of regulating the
jockeying among political elites and a
safety valve in the case of popular
discontent. Lifting those limits introduces new unpredictability in a system
that abhors uncertainty. What makes
Mr. Xi stronger today could make the
C.C.P. weaker tomorrow.
For now, extending Mr. Xi’s tenure
will ensure some measure of predictability in one way, at least: by allowing
for more resolute policymaking.
Mr. Xi’s crushing anticorruption
campaign has already purged many
potential dissenters among his political
competitors, members of the military
brass and wealthy entrepreneurs. And
Wang Qishan, Mr. Xi’s so-called anticorruption czar, is expected to be
named vice president soon. Much of
China’s intellectual elite has also been
cowed by an unrelenting campaign of
ideological purification in academia
and of censorship in mainstream news
The New York Times publishes opinion
from a wide range of perspectives in
hopes of promoting constructive debate
about consequential questions.
Europe colder than the North Pole
A gondolier clearing snow in Venice, as subfreezing temperatures spread across much of Europe in the past week. Snow fell
in Rome for the first time in six years and Norway was shivering at minus 43 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 42 Celsius); the North Pole was a balmy 35 Fahrenheit. PAGE 3
Why meddle in Italy’s vote?
Moscow stands to win
in almost any result in
the election on Sunday
It happened in the United States. Then
there were the Netherlands, France and
Germany. One after the other, the West’s
leading democracies have staged national elections in which Russia is accused of using social media and fake
news to try to influence the outcome.
Now, Italy is holding pivotal elections
on Sunday that could shake Europe —
and Russian meddling is again a worry.
But the difference this time is that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia might
not need to bother, because the parties
most likely to do well in Italy would
probably be favored by Russia, too.
Much has changed since Russia
started its online misinformation cam-
paigns, and much of it is good for Mr.
Putin. Just two years ago, Mr. Putin was
on the defensive and facing the prospect
of Hillary Clinton, no fan of his, occupying the White House. Instead, he got
President Trump.
While Mr. Putin did not get his top
picks in France and Germany, the angry
populism and frustration with migration
that is reshaping European politics has
significantly weakened his chief adversary, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, and suspicions of yet another
Russian hacking roiled the German government in the past week.
Italy is traditionally one of the most
pro-Russian countries in Europe, and
among the favored outcomes for Mr.
Putin in the election on Sunday, there
are a lot to choose from.
Many of the leading parties share a
widespread view that the sanctions
against Russia for its land grab in
Ukraine hurt Italian trading partners as
The former prime minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, heads the favored center-right
coalition. He is a friend of Russia’s president and opposes sanctions against the Kremlin.
Newcomer on the crowded Paris art scene
Lafayette Anticipations,
an experimental exhibition
space, seeks a niche
The architect Rem Koolhaas in the building that houses Lafayette Anticipations, an
exhibition hub funded by Fondation Galeries Lafayette, in the Marais district of Paris.
Y(1J85IC*KKNPKP( +]!"!?!"!;
“Why would anyone want another art
space in Paris?” Maria Finders, a strategy consultant, asked as she sat in the
winter light of a meeting room in the
new Lafayette Anticipations art space
here. “Who wants another corporate
These questions confronted Ms. Finders in 2011, when Guillaume Houzé, a
great-great-grandson of the founder of
Galeries Lafayette, the venerable luxury store on the Boulevard Haussmann,
asked her to help him develop a new
kind of contemporary art foundation.
The result, Lafayette Anticipations,
will open March 10 in a handsome,
late-19th-century industrial building in
the Marais — the city’s prime gallery
quarter — that has been radically reconfigured by Rem Koolhaas. The modestsize arts incubator, performance and exhibition space — only 450 people will be
allowed in the building at a time — is the
Dutch architect’s first project to be realized in the French capital.
It will provide working space for the
creation of artistic projects, as well as
for performances and exhibitions. “The
idea was not to have a jewelry box for
showing the collection, but really to
have a tool,” Mr. Houzé said in an interview. “We are focused on trying to help
artists, and to give them solutions and
the intelligence to help them do their
The Galeries Lafayette already has an
exhibition space devoted to art, contemporary fashion and design: the Galerie
des Galeries, which opened in the store
in 2001. Mr. Houzé, 36, an established
collector cherished by commercial galleries around the Marais, said his passion for art had drawn him to engage
more deeply. “In 2011, I convinced my
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Throughout his presidential campaign
Donald J. Trump extolled his business
acumen and management skills, and
just before his inauguration he insisted
that the transition to his administration
was going “very, very smoothly.”
Yet so chaotic was his first year in office that in January, after publication of
the Michael Wolff tell-all, “Fire and
Fury,” the president had to publicly defend himself as a “stable genius.”
The White House suffered a staff
turnover rate of 34 percent during Mr.
Trump’s first year, a rate that would be
unfathomable at nearly any for-profit
enterprise. Even by political standards,
it’s off the charts — triple that of the
Obama administration and twice that of
Ronald Reagan, the previous recordholder — according to a study by the
Brookings Institution.
And that was before the recent messy
departure of Rob Porter as staff secretary in the wake of spousal abuse allegations, or the announcement in the past
week by the White House communications director, Hope Hicks — the fourth
person to hold the job — that she, too,
was leaving.
Now at least one White House faction
wants Gary Cohn, the chief economic
adviser and National Economic Council
director — and a relative island of calm
and stability — to replace John F. Kelly,
the chief of staff, who was widely criticized for bungling the Porter affair. If so,
he would become the president’s third
chief of staff in just 14 months. But in this
chaotic environment, for every rumor
that Mr. Cohn is about to be promoted,
there is one that he is about to resign.
With over a full year under Mr.
Trump’s belt, and his unorthodox management style fully in evidence, I asked
several experts to assess the president’s
abilities as a manager.
“It’s much worse than I expected,”
said Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University
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Issue Number
No. 41,980
The president’s unconventional style
has demoralized White House staff and
left policymaking in disarray. PAGE 15
page two
A ‘mini-Merkel’ stakes out a middle ground
The German chancellor
begins grooming a potential
successor with broad appeal
She stood before an adoring throng,
cheers rising to the roof, after she had
won nearly 99 percent of the vote for a
top post in Germany’s most powerful political party. She smiled, waved and
beckoned the rank and file to help her
guide the party and the country.
It was familiar stagecraft, except for
one thing: The woman basking in praise
from the Christian Democratic Union a
few days ago was not Angela Merkel but
the politician seen as her chosen heir apparent, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
Dubbed “mini-Merkel” by the German
news media, Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer
was elected general secretary of the
governing party, a post once occupied
by the chancellor herself and one considered a potential steppingstone to becoming chancellor.
Long criticized for not grooming successors during 12 years in power, Ms.
Merkel seems to have embraced the
task after an election in which her party
bled voters to both the Free Democrats
and the far-right Alternative for Germany. In tapping Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer, she found a candidate widely
seen as having the mix of liberalism and
conservatism to unite a restive party
Even as the chancellor works to patch
together another governing coalition,
which party delegates have approved,
the ascension of possible successors offers the latest sign that the Merkel era is
approaching its end. The succession will
determine the direction of the party and
possibly the nation, both deeply divided
over the chancellor’s 2015 decision to
open Germany’s borders to hundreds of
thousands of people fleeing war and
mayhem in the Middle East and Africa.
Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer, 55, who has
taken a somewhat harder line on immigration, roused the party with a speech
that set her apart from the woman
whose name has been synonymous with
the Christian Democrats and Germany.
Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer, until last
week the governor of Saarland, a small
state on the borders of France and Luxembourg, said she would return the
spotlight to the party, known as the
C.D.U., over individual members. Recalling her “favorite moment” of the
Winter Olympics, she praised the German hockey team that upset the mighty
Canadians to win the country’s first
medal in the sport since 1976.
“It wasn’t a group of individual stars,
the team was the star, and that is what
matters,” she told delegates. “The star is
the C.D.U. It’s not about who in the
C.D.U. shines, it is about the party shining.”
Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer urged mem-
Above, Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, with Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer recently in Berlin. Below, Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer dressed up as a cleaning lady for Carnival.
bers to focus less on what it means to be
“conservative” — a frequent topic of debate — and more on how to address
fears of a globalized, digitized future.
“We want to give answers, not only as
a government and a parliamentary faction, but as a party,” she said, praising
even critics of the party’s leadership for
spurring debates that she said were integral to setting the party path for the
coming decade.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer is
said to have the mix of liberalism
and conservatism to unite a
restive party base.
Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer became one
of several new faces at the center of
power in Berlin. Ms. Merkel, 63, who remains the party’s chairwoman, on Sunday named some of its younger leaders
to take on minister posts, including Jens
Spahn, 37, one of her fiercest critics on
migration, and Julia Klöckner, 45; both
are conservative lawmakers seen as
possible future chancellors.
But Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer has
been the chancellor’s favorite. She easi-
ly won re-election as governor in March,
helping galvanize her party six months
before a federal election.
The question of Ms. Merkel’s succession has become a pressing matter five
months after inconclusive elections left
the chancellor struggling to build a new
government. The rapid rise of the Alternative for Germany party, fueled in part
by the refugee issue, has made it harder
for her to form a governing coalition.
In Saarland, Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer
has experience leading coalitions with
various parties, from the free-market
Free Democrats to the Social Democrats. Her policies and life story offer a
mix of views with appeal both to voters
who like the more modern image Ms.
Merkel has given the party, and to those
who hark back to its more socially conservative, Christian roots.
A Roman Catholic who married at 22,
she is the main breadwinner in her family; her husband stopped working to
help raise their three sons.
Even after the chancellor softened on
same-sex marriage, Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer voiced opposition to such unions.
“Many party members are bemoaning the loss of a more conservative posi-
tion in the party, and she could be in a
position to win back such voters who say
the Christian Democrats have become
too liberal,” said Marc Debus, a professor of political science at the University
of Mannheim.
Weakened by her party’s poorest electoral showing since World War II, Ms.
Merkel failed in her first attempt to form
a coalition, with the Free Democrats and
the Greens. That left her with no choice
but to cobble together an agreement
with her old partners, the Social Democrats, themselves badly wounded in the
The governing deal Ms. Merkel an-
nounced three weeks ago, now subject
to the approval of the Social Democratic
grass roots, did not go down well with
her party. Three powerful ministries
and other concessions went to the Social
“We might as well give them the chancellery, too,” complained one conservative lawmaker.
As general secretary, one of Ms.
Kramp-Karrenbauer’s first jobs will be
to restore calm and discipline in a party
split between those who want to move to
the right and those who favor Ms.
Merkel’s centrist course. She will also be
asked to draw up a new party program,
setting the tone for the Christian Democrats for years to come.
Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer, whose unwieldy name is routinely shortened to
A.K.K. in the German news media,
caught the chancellor’s eye in 2013 during a previous round of coalition talks,
and not only for her negotiating skills.
Unlike others who spent breaks scheming and gossiping, she would reportedly
pull up a chair, put up her feet and read.
Ms. Merkel has called herself a longtime “admirer” of Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer. But political analysts argue that
seeing her simply as a younger, WestGerman version of the chancellor, who
hails from the former East Germany,
sells short a woman admired for her
own political acumen.
Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer had supported Ms. Merkel’s decision to open the
border in 2015, but adopted a tougher
stance in handling the roughly 7,000 refugees who arrived in her state, drawing
national attention.
She had unaccompanied minors arriving without documents undergo medical screenings to help determine their
age, and lobbied for Berlin to deport
anyone whose application for asylum
had been rejected. Male Muslim refugees who refused to accept food from
female volunteers should go hungry, she
Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer entered
politics in 2000 as her state’s — and the
country’s — first female interior minister, then moved on to the Education
and Labor Ministries, before her election as governor in 2011.
In Berlin, she has allies in the conservative women’s union and in Catholic labor organizations, but lacks the extensive network she relied on to govern
successfully in Saarland. Analysts say
taking a leadership position in the party
instead of a ministry will give her the opportunity to build a power base — even if
she resisted the idea of moving onto the
national political stage for years.
Her rootedness is what many supporters appreciate. Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer stood on a stage in her home state
during Carnival last year, dressed as a
cleaning lady.
“I just came back from Berlin, where I
was given a shift to clean up,” she told
the audience in a thick local accent.
The joke drew big laughs, and it
proved prescient.
Christopher F. Schuetze contributed reporting.
Russia meddle in Italy’s election? Why bother?
much as they do Moscow, noted Lucio
Caracciolo, the editor of the Italian geopolitical magazine Limes.
While Italy does not carry the weight
of Germany or France, he said, having
an Italian government willing to resist
its Western partners furthers Russia’s
interest in dividing European countries
from the United States and one another.
“Any division inside NATO and the
European Union could be used, maybe
not now, but in the future,” he said. “It’s
better to face a fractured enemy.”
The favored center-right coalition is
led by none other than Mr. Putin’s good
friend Silvio Berlusconi, the former
prime minister who opposes sanctions
against Russia, and who recently gave
Mr. Putin a birthday present of a duvet
cover of the two pals shaking hands.
In his previous iterations as prime
minister, Mr. Berlusconi sought to position himself as a bridge between the
United States and Russia. Even so,
American diplomats secretly suspected
him of “profiting personally and handsomely” from a cut of energy contracts
with Mr. Putin, according to cables released in 2010 by WikiLeaks. Mr. Berlusconi denied it.
Mr. Berlusconi’s ambitious coalition
partner is Matteo Salvini, the leader of
the League party, formerly known as the
Northern League, and an anti-immigrant politician who went to Moscow to
sign a cooperation agreement with Mr.
Putin’s Russia United party.
At a recent political rally, Mr. Salvini
mocked those who alleged that he had
accepted money from Mr. Putin by saying, “I admire Putin as a man of state, a
man of government who defends the interests of his people and his businesses,
who defends his values and borders, and
I esteem him for free, not for money.”
The anti-establishment Five Star
Movement, the leading party in Italian
politics, has echoed Russia’s antagonism toward NATO, blamed the European Union for Russia’s incursion into
Ukraine and voiced skepticism about
Luigi Di Maio, center, the Five Star Movement’s candidate for prime minister of Italy.
The movement has blamed the European Union for Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.
Matteo Salvini, an anti-immigrant politician who admires President Vladimir Putin of
Russia, is the coalition partner of the former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.
the eurozone. A web-based populist
party, it reversed its previous opposition
to Mr. Putin in 2014 because, defectors
say, the party leadership realized how
popular Mr. Putin had become.
The least good option for Russia is the
re-election of Italy’s Democratic Party,
led by former Prime Minister Matteo
Renzi. Before the referendum that cost
him his job in 2016, Mr. Renzi complained to Western leaders about Russian meddling in his country’s politics as
fake news sourced to Russian propaganda outlets and signs of Russian high
jinks surfaced on the Italian web.
In this election, Mr. Renzi has been
outspoken against homegrown manipulation of Facebook and other social media to spread misinformation, but has
been careful not to blame Russia.
Last month, Italy’s prime minister,
Paolo Gentiloni, also of the Democratic
Party, released an annual security report warning of online “influence campaigns” before the elections, but did not
mention Russia by name.
Sergey Razov, celebrated the events in
40 Italian cities. He said they had helped
bring about a “positive development of
relations between our countries.” Asked
by The Times whether his government
also sought to bring the countries together by providing political aid to Italy’s many pro-Russian parties, the usually poker-faced ambassador allowed
himself a slight grin.
“No one had seen anything concrete
that points out Russian meddling in Italy,” said Maksymilian Czuperski, the director of the Digital Forensic Research
Lab at the Atlantic Council, a Washington research group, who arrived in Italy
this past week to monitor the election
for any online manipulation or interference. “Because they don’t necessarily
need to.”
Now, as the Trump administration has
in some ways withdrawn the United
States from world politics, European diplomats in Italy lament that Russia has
expertly exploited America’s absence
by building relationships with politicians, economic ties, especially for oil
and gas, and cultural affinity through
Russian associations.
A map in the Russian Center for Science and Culture in Rome showed the
scores of cities and towns where Russia
had official and unofficial headquarters.
At a recent inauguration there of a
“Russian Seasons” program of cultural
events in Italy, the Russian ambassador,
Russia has exploited America’s
withdrawal from global politics.
“In the last months, your American
colleagues tried to ask these questions
about Russian influence, for example in
the Italian elections,” Mr. Razov said before deferring to a denial made days earlier by Mr. Putin.
“It’s incredible that we might meddle
in somebody’s elections, including in Italy,” Mr. Putin had told the leadership of
Russian news agencies. “We see no
point in it, as we know that no matter
what forces rise to power in Italy, it has a
national political consensus on the development of relations with Russia.”
That doesn’t mean everyone believes
that Russia is entirely sitting this one
The former vice president, Joseph R.
Biden Jr., writing recently in Foreign Affairs magazine, alleged that a Russian
effort was “now underway to support
the nationalist Northern League and the
populist Five Star Movement in Italy’s
upcoming parliamentary elections.”
The article offered no proof for the allegation, which Mr. Berlusconi and Mr.
Salvini both dismissed as “fake news.”
Mr. Salvini went the extra step of finding motivation for the article in Mr. Biden’s son’s being “nominated to the administrative council of Ukraine’s biggest energy company — you understand
how the great powers work?” he said.
Michael Carpenter, a former deputy
assistant secretary of defense and now
the senior director of the Penn Biden
Center for Diplomacy, helped write the
Foreign Affairs piece with Mr. Biden.
“Based on my time in government,” Mr.
Carpenter said, “I am very confident
that the Russians interfered, used disinformation in the Italian campaign”
against Mr. Renzi in 2016.
The Italian newspaper La Stampa recently showed that some of the Russian
trolls identified in the Justice Department investigation had retweeted messages in 2016 from Italian accounts. The
post were critical of Mr. Renzi and supported the Five Star Movement and the
hard right. Mr. Carpenter said that he
maintained a strong suspicion that Russian internet trolls actively supported
the Five Star Movement and the League
ahead of the coming elections, but that
he no longer had the security clearances
to prove that.
Amid all of the focus on the Five Star
Movement’s sympathies for Russia,
Luigi Di Maio, the party’s candidate for
prime minister, has sought to create
some distance. He now tempers his remarks about Russia by pointing out that
he has visited Washington as well and
that his “objective” is to remain an ally
of the United States.
Mr. Di Maio spoke last month at Link
Campus University in Rome, the former
home of professor Joseph Mifsud, who
American court documents allege told a
Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, that Russia had “dirt” on
Mrs. Clinton.
“Many of you have heard talk about
the relations between the Five Star
Movement and the Russian Federation,
and I remember there was here a prime
minister who had very very friendly relations with Russia and also economic
business that I believe was illicit,” Mr. Di
Maio said, referring to Mr. Berlusconi.
“But, and who knows why, the only
one who is denounced as having shadowy, disturbing relations with Russia is
the Five Star Movement, which surely is
the party that has less relations with the
Russian Federation than all the others,”
he said.
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Once opulent, now reviled
One guest, cockroaches
and pigeons: A hotel
reflects Kosovo’s travails
The Grand Hotel in the Kosovar capital
of Pristina is regularly reviled in internet reviews. Here’s a sample: “disgusting,” “a ruin” and “an absolute horror.
Probably the worst I have ever been at.”
But the managers seem unfazed by
the online abuse. They do not take web
bookings and barely offer access to the
internet; their hotel has no email account.
A byword for modern opulence when
this part of the Balkans was still part of
the now defunct Yugoslavia, the stateowned Grand has gone into such a steep
decline that even Kosovo’s president,
Hashim Thaci, usually an eager booster
of everything his country has to offer,
struggles to find anything nice to say
about it.
“I don’t think it is the worst hotel in
the world, but that is because the world
is very big,” the president said, expressing disbelief when told that I was staying there.
When I checked into the 500-room
property recently, I was the only guest.
With 13 stories and three adjoining concrete blocks in a prime location, the hotel accommodates flocks of pigeons on
the upper floors and has rented out its
basement, once used as a prison by Serbian paramilitary thugs, to a health club.
But it is otherwise deserted, a maze of
dimly lit corridors littered with pigeon
feathers, strung with cobwebs, lined
with doors of dark wood and haunted by
even darker memories of Kosovo’s past.
Two floors have been reduced to rubble,
the remnants of a remodeling program
that ran out of money.
The Grand’s general manager,
Rrahim Fazliu, conceded that the place
perhaps no longer deserved the fivestar rating it has claimed since it was
built in 1978. But, he insisted, “with a bit
of makeup” it can become a “symbol of
success” for a country still struggling to
The Grand Hotel in Pristina, Kosovo. At right, from top, keys to vacant rooms, a hotel room used as storage space and pigeon feathers on a vacant floor.
find its stride nearly 20 years after a
NATO bombing campaign broke Serbia’s grip on the unruly region.
The hotel, Mr. Fazliu added, was a
“mirror of Kosovo,” and the image reflected there these days is decidedly less
alluring than what had been hoped for
when it achieved freedom in 1999.
Service is minimal to nonexistent, the
marble lobby stinks of cigarette smoke
and the green carpeting that covers
most of the floors is stained and scarred.
And then there are the cockroaches.
But to be fair, the Grand deserves better reviews than it gets online. On the
two floors kept ready for guests, rooms
are kept relatively clean and offer occasional hot water. The few staff that remain try to be helpful, and they are
“I don’t think it is the worst
hotel in the world, but
that is because the
world is very big.”
clearly embarrassed by the shabby
state of their once respectable establishment.
Shurije Abazi, a maid who started
working at the hotel a month after it
opened, still makes sure there are soap
and shampoo for guests who no longer
exist but who, in a triumph of hope over
reality, she thinks will soon return.
Along with other ethnic Albanian staff
she lost her job in the 1990s, when Serbia’s former dictator, Slobodan Milose-
vic, began a program of ethnic cleansing. She has no nostalgia for those times
but still mourns the hotel’s decay.
Before Yugoslavia collapsed in a
spasm of bloodletting in the 1990s, the
Grand was a favorite haunt for communist officials and, after they left, for
armed goons bent on keeping Kosovo
part of Serbia. Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslavia’s longtime dictator, had a suite on
the fourth floor. After Tito died in 1980
and his multiethnic country began to unravel, the Grand prospered for a time, its
occupancy rate lifted by the arrival of
foreign journalists and Serb paramilitary gangs that wanted to purge Kosovo
of ethnic Albanians, who made up a
large majority of the population.
Zeljko Raznatovic, a bloodthirsty
Serb nationalist better known as Arkan,
commandeered Tito’s old suite while his
gunmen put up a sign on the door barring entry to ethnic Albanians and dogs.
On my first day at the hotel on my recent visit, a group of revelers from a
grimy nightclub on the top floor took
rooms in the middle of the night and
boosted the number of guests to five —
an occupancy rate of 1 percent, which is
about as good as business gets at the
Grand these days.
“We are ready every day to operate at
full capacity but there are no people,”
said Mr. Fazliu, the general manager. He
works out of a huge office on the second
floor equipped with a long wooden conference table, multiple telephones and
other relics of better and busier days.
Stuck in limbo since the end of the
Kosovo war, which brought Mr. Thaci
and his comrades in the Kosovo Liberation Army to power, the hotel stands as a
bleak monument not only to Kosovo’s
painful past but also to its blurry future.
Free of Serbian control for nearly 20
years and now celebrating its 10th anniversary as an independent country, Kosovo is itself stuck in limbo, recognized
by the United States and most European
countries but still denied a seat at the
United Nations and routinely harassed
by Russia and Serbia.
It only recently got its own telephone
country code — 383 — while still mostly
using codes 377 and 386 borrowed from
Monaco and Slovenia.
However, many of the problems
plaguing Kosovo — in particular, endemic corruption and shady dealings by
former commanders of the Kosovo Liberation Army — are of the country’s own
Put up for sale in 2006, it was bought
by a murky local company that paid just
8 million euros (a little under $10 million
at current rates) but promised, as part
of the deal, to invest a further €20 million. The promised investment never
happened, and in 2012 the Kosovo Privatization Agency canceled the sale. Plans
to find another buyer then got snarled in
a lengthy legal battle after Behgjet I. Pacolli, a Swiss millionaire originally from
Kosovo who is now the country’s foreign
minister, announced that a company he
owned was suing the government over
the original sale.
The hotel is now in liquidation and its
assets, which include a valuable collection of modern art, will be sold or put
in a museum so that a new owner can be
found and the hotel can be refurbished
from scratch.
The hotel has more than 500 employees left on the books from the time when
Kosovo was controlled by Serbia. The
Serbian staff all fled after NATO’s arrival. Around 80 staff, all ethnic Albanians,
now show up for work.
Mr. Pacolli estimates that it will cost
at least $50 million to make the Grand
grand again. It is, he added, perhaps not
the world’s worst hotel but ranks near
the bottom. “It is really terrible,” he said.
“How can you stay there? How can anyone stay there?”
Europe colder than North Pole
Conditions that create
frigid temperatures over
the Continent explained
Subfreezing temperatures have spread
across much of Europe over the past
week, from Poland to Spain. Snow fell in
Rome for the first time in six years. Britain issued a “red alert” warning. Norway recorded the lowest temperatures
of the cold snap: minus 43 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 42 Celsius) in the southeast part of the country on Thursday.
If Europe feels like the Arctic right
now, the Arctic itself is balmy by comparison. The North Pole is above the
freezing mark in the dead of winter;
there are no direct measurements there,
but merging satellite data with other
temperature data shows that temperatures soared this week to 35 degrees
Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius). That is
50 degrees Fahrenheit above normal,
and 78 degrees warmer than in parts of
The Arctic warmth and the European
cold snap have raised questions over
whether the unusual weather occurrences are linked to each other, and if
they are somehow related to climate
change. Here are some answers.
Probably, according to Judah Cohen, a
climatologist who is director of seasonal
forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, a weather risk assessment firm. Dr. Cohen is the author of
a 2017 study that linked a warming Arctic to the intermittent blasts of cold
known in the Northern Hemisphere as
the polar vortex.
The polar vortex is a low-pressure
system that, as its name suggests, ordinarily rests over the North Pole. (There
is also a polar vortex over the Antarctic.)
When it behaves normally, the polar
vortex helps trap cold air in the Arctic.
“It’s locking in that cold air at the high
latitudes in the Arctic region,” Dr. Cohen
said, comparing the polar vortex to a
dam holding back the frigid arctic air
from the rest of the Northern Hemisphere.
But sometimes that dam bursts as the
polar vortex weakens and allows cold
air to escape the Arctic to more temperate climes. This has always happened from time to time, but a growing
body of research suggests that because
of climate change the warming Arctic is
weakening the polar vortex.
Researchers are still figuring out how
the warming Arctic is triggering the polar vortex’s aberrant behavior. Some of
them, including Dr. Cohen, point to the
melting sea ice and lack of snow cover
over Siberia, caused by global warming.
Dr. Cohen said the loss of ice and snow
creates patterns of high pressure near
the Barents Sea and Kara Sea off northern Russia. That high pressure blocks
the low-pressure system of the polar
vortex, weakening it in the process.
There is not yet a scientific consensus
over the root cause of the weakening polar vortex; it’s fair to say that it is not as
definitive as, say, the evidence for human-caused climate change, which is
agreed upon by 97 percent of climate scientists.
But it’s worth noting that in January
the extent of Arctic sea ice was the lowest ever recorded for the first month of
the year. In some parts of the Arctic, the
sea ice is already breaking up before
winter’s end. And Arctic sea ice has
been declining since the late 1970s.
When the polar vortex weakens it allows cold air to escape and head south.
This is what Dr. Cohen suspects happened in late December and early January when the Northeast United States
endured some of its coldest temperatures on record. Other researchers who
conducted a rapid analysis of the
weather event aren’t so sure, though
they stress theirs is just a first pass at
the data.
In the days leading up to the European cold snap, the polar vortex didn’t
just get weaker, Dr. Cohen said — it split
in two.
One piece went into northern Eurasia
and drifted westward into Europe, earning it the nickname “Beast from the
East.” The other piece wound up in
northwestern Canada, which led to the
Western United States cooling off after
an unusual warm period.
“The West, that their winter is being
saved to some degree, completely has to
do with this polar vortex split,” Dr. Cohen said.
Meanwhile, some countries like Spain
that are unused to the cold are freezing.
Marino Marini
Horses, Horsemen and FemaleNudes
Dr. Cohen likens the Arctic to the refrigerator in your kitchen. When the refrigerator door is closed, the fridge stays
cold and the kitchen stays warm, but if
you leave the fridge door open all the
cold air comes out. Because air is
spilling out of the fridge, it has to be replaced by surrounding air — air also has
to flow into the fridge, or in this case the
Arctic. And since the air outside the Arctic is warmer, it will necessarily move in.
London, left, on Thursday amid the unusual snow. Right, a puppy sculpture by Jeff Koons covered in snow in San Sebastián, Spain.
Image courtesy of the Fondazione Marino Marini, Pistoia
also at TEFAF, Maastricht
U.S. maps military options for North Korea
While pursuing diplomacy,
commanders plot how to
mobilize in potential war
A classified military exercise last month
examined how American troops would
mobilize and strike if ordered into a potential war on the Korean Peninsula,
even as diplomatic overtures between
the North and the Trump administration
The war planning, known as a “tabletop exercise,” was held over several
days in Hawaii. It included Gen. Mark A.
Milley, the Army’s chief of staff, and
Gen. Tony Thomas, the head of the Special Operations Command.
The purpose was to look at a number
of pitfalls that could hamper an American assault on North Korea’s well-entrenched military.
Among them was the Pentagon’s limited ability to evacuate injured troops
from the Korean Peninsula daily — a
problem more acute if the North retaliated with chemical weapons, according
to more than a half-dozen military and
Defense Department officials familiar
with the exercise.
Large numbers of surveillance aircraft would have to be moved from the
Middle East and Africa to the Pacific to
support ground troops. Planners also
looked at how American forces stationed in South Korea and Japan would
be involved.
Pentagon officials cautioned that the
planning does not mean that a decision
has been made to go to war over President Trump’s demands that North Korea rein in its nuclear ambitions.
A war with North Korea, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said, would be
“catastrophic.” He and Gen. Joseph F.
Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, have argued forcefully
for using diplomacy to address Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
Commanders who attended the exercise in Hawaii were told that roughly
10,000 Americans could be wounded in
combat in the opening days alone. And
the number of civilian casualties, the
generals were told, would likely be in the
thousands or even hundreds of thousands.
The potential human costs of a war
were so high that, at one point during
the exercise, General Milley remarked
that “the brutality of this will be beyond
the experience of any living soldier,” according to officials who were involved.
So, too, would be the sheer logistical
enterprise of moving thousands of
American soldiers and equipment to the
Korean Peninsula. Moreover, senior mil-
From left, Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations; Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Army chief of staff.
The Army chief of staff warned
that the brutality of a Korean
war would “be beyond the
experience of any living soldier.”
itary officials worry that after 17 years in
Afghanistan and Iraq, American troops
have become far more used to counterinsurgency fighting than a land war
against a state, as an attack on North
Korea would likely bring.
But Mr. Mattis also has ordered top
Pentagon leaders to be ready for any
possible military action against North
Korea. Already, ammunition has been
prestaged in the Pacific region for
ground units.
And Mr. Trump’s words — “Military
solutions are now fully in place, locked
and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely,” he said in an August post on
Twitter — have left senior officers and
rank-and-file troops convinced that they
need to accelerate their contingency
A White House decision to attack is almost wholly dependent on cooperation
from South Korea — not only in committing its troops or other assets to the battle but also accepting the risk of widespread bloodshed on its civilian population if the North fires back.
With a revival recently signaled on
the long-dormant diplomatic track to resolve the Korean crisis, Pentagon officials said they did not want to disrupt
any chance for a negotiated resolution.
North Korea’s declaration at the end of
the Winter Olympics that it was willing
to open a dialogue with the United
States offered a small amount of hope
that the political pageantry of the
Games would lead to more substantial
Mr. Trump’s response that the United
States, too, was interested in talking
compounded that hope. “We want to talk
also,” Mr. Trump said in the past week,
but “only under the right conditions.”
But Trump administration officials
still insist that the United States will not
sit with North Korea unless Pyongyang
agrees to open negotiations on its nuclear program, a condition the North has
And so the planning continues.
Mr. Mattis and other senior military
leaders fear that a stray incident could
spark a sudden conflict with the North.
Of particular concern is the “ladder of
escalation” — a chain of actions
prompted by the shooting down of a
North Korean or American jet, or sinking of a ship after which Mr. Mattis and
other Pentagon leaders could quickly
lose control.
Harsh new sanctions that the Trump
administration announced last month
are a prime example.
The economic penalties target 28
ships that are registered in China and
seven other countries, and intend to further cut off North Korea’s imports of oil
and exports of coal. But by going after
the shipments, the United States is edging closer to the imposition of an economic blockade on the North.
While Treasury Secretary Steven
Mnuchin stopped short of saying the
United States Navy would forcibly
board ships on the high seas, administration officials privately have said that
sailors may yet be called upon to do so, if
hostile foreign vessels are suspected of
transporting certain material to North
That, Defense Department officials
say, could easily spark an incident that
could escalate.
Mr. Trump recently referred to another type of incident that American officials fear could spark a war.
During a speech in Seoul last year, he
brought up North Korea’s 1969 downing
an American spy plane that had been
flying over the Sea of Japan. All 31
Americans aboard were killed in the attack by two North Korean MiGs.
At the time, President Richard M.
Nixon chose not to retaliate. It is unclear
if Mr. Trump would follow the same
course; in bringing up the episode last
year, he warned, “Do not underestimate
us, and do not try us.”
The Hawaii planning exercise looked
at a wide range of military capabilities
and missions. They included:
• How many conventional and Special
Operations forces could be deployed, in
phases, to target North Korean nuclear
• Whether the Army’s 82nd and 101st
Airborne Divisions could be charged
with fighting in tunnels.
• Exhaustive plans to take down North
Korea’s integrated air defenses, allowing American manned and unmanned
aircraft into the reclusive country.
• Plans for the morbid but necessary details of personnel recovery plans, such
as if pilots are shot down, and the evacuation of the dead and wounded.
In a meeting on Monday in “the Tank”
— a secured space in the Pentagon
where the Joint Chiefs of Staff discuss
top-secret issues — General Milley told
senior military leaders about the exercise but did not outline details of the war
plans, officials said. The Army holds
around eight tabletop exercises every
year for different countries and situations.
In April, a larger meeting is being
planned with Mr. Mattis and the global
combatant commanders. It is one of the
periodic meetings that Mr. Mattis has
with the top military brass, but is expected to heavily focus on North Korea.
Special Operations forces have been
briefed on some details of a plan that is
separate but related to a potential strike
on North Korea, officials said. However,
Special Operations forces have yet to
change course from their current operations.
Although the planning is continuing
apace, a military operation against
North Korea has yet to be given a formal
name. Special Operations units, however, have already been assigned to specific task forces with names such as Trident and Falcon.
China’s risky experiment with its authoritarian formula
Xi Jinping may have accelerated
what many scholars believe
is China’s collision course
with the forces of history.
There was always something different
about China’s version of authoritarianism. For decades, as other regimes
collapsed or curdled into dysfunctional
pretend democracies, China’s held
strong, even prospered.
Yes, China’s Communist Party has
been vigorous in suppressing dissent
and crushing potential challenges. But
some argue that it has survived in part
by developing unusually strong institutions, bound by strict rules and norms.
Two of the most important have been
collective leadership — rule by consensus rather than strongman — and term
When the Communist Party announced in the past week that it would
end presidential term limits, allowing Xi
Jinping to hold office indefinitely, it shattered those norms. It may also have accelerated what many scholars believe is
China’s collision course with the forces
of history it has so long managed to
That history suggests that Beijing’s
leaders are on what former Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton once called a
“fool’s errand”: trying to uphold a system of government that cannot survive
in the modern era. But Mr. Xi, by shifting
toward a strongman style of rule, is doubling down on the idea that China is different and can refashion an authoritarianism for this age.
If he succeeds, he will not only have
secured his own future and extended the
future of China’s Communist Party, he
may also establish a new model for authoritarianism to thrive worldwide.
If Mr. Xi stays in office for life, as many
now expect, that will only formalize a
process he has undertaken for years:
stripping power away from China’s institutions and accumulating it for himself.
It helps to mentally divide dictatorships into two categories: institutional
and personalist. The first operates
through committees, bureaucracies and
something like consensus. The second
runs through a single charismatic
China, once an almost Socratic ideal
of the first model, is increasingly a hy-
put in place after Mao Zedong’s disastrous tenure, have allowed for relatively
effective and stable governing.
Ken Opalo, a Georgetown University
political scientist, wrote after China’s
announcement that orderly transitions
were “perhaps the most important indicator of political development.” Lifelong
presidencies, he said, “freeze specific
groups of elites out of power. And remove incentives for those in power to be
accountable and innovate.”
cies and every other nondemocracy besides Azerbaijan. He credited economic
growth, nationalist sentiment and collective leadership.
But when Mr. Gilley revisited his metrics in 2012, he found that China’s score
had plummeted.
His data showed the leading edge of a
force long thought to doom China’s system. Known as “modernization theory,”
it says that once citizens reach a certain
level of wealth, they will demand things
like public accountability, free expression and a role in government. Authoritarian states, unable to meet these demands, either transition to democracy
or collapse amid unrest.
This challenge, overcome by no other
modern authoritarian regime except
those wealthy enough to buy off their
citizens, requires new sources of legitimacy. Economic growth is slowing. Nationalism, though once effective at rallying support, is increasingly difficult to
control and prone to backfiring. Citizen
demands are growing.
So China is instead promoting “ideology and collective social values” that
equate the government with Chinese
culture, according to research by the
China scholar Heike Holbig and Mr.
Gilley. Patriotic songs and school textbooks have proliferated. So have mentions of “Xi Jinping Thought,” now an official ideology.
Mr. Xi’s personalization of power
seems to borrow from both old-style
strongmen and the new-style populists
rising among the world’s democracies.
But, in this way, it is a high-risk and
partial solution to China’s needs. A cult
of personality can do for a few years or
perhaps decades, but not more.
In 2005, Bruce Gilley, a political scientist, wrestled with one of the most important questions for any government
— is it viewed by its citizens as legitimate? — and came up with a numerical
score, determined by sophisticated
measurements of how citizens behave.
China, his study found, enjoyed
higher legitimacy than many democra-
China is experimenting with a form of
authoritarianism that, if successful,
could close the seemingly unbridgeable
gap between what its citizens demand
and what it can deliver.
Authoritarian governments are, by
definition, unaccountable. But some
towns and small cities in China are
opening limited, controlled channels of
President Xi Jinping, front row center, at the Communist Party Congress last year, is challenging collective leadership in China.
brid of the two. Mr. Xi has made himself
“the dominant actor in financial regulation and environmental policy” as well
as economic policy, according to a paper
by Barry Naughton, a China scholar at
the University of California, San Diego.
Mr. Xi has also led sweeping anticorruption campaigns that have disproportionately purged members of rival political factions, strengthening himself but
undermining China’s consensus-driven
This version of authoritarianism is
harder to maintain, according to research by Erica Frantz, a scholar of authoritarianism at Michigan State University. “In general, personalization is
not a good development,” Ms. Frantz
The downsides are often subtle. Domestic politics tend to be more volatile,
governing more erratic and foreign policy more aggressive, studies find. But
the clearest risk comes with succession.
“There’s a question I like to ask Russia specialists: ‘If Putin has a heart attack tomorrow, what happens?’ ” said
Milan Svolik, a Yale University political
scientist. “Nobody knows.”
“In China, up until now, the answer to
that had been very clear,” he said. A
dead leader would have left behind a set
of widely agreed rules for what was to be
done and there would be a political consensus on how to do it.
“This change seems to disrupt that,”
Mr. Svolik said. Mr. Xi, by defying the
norms of succession, has shown that
any rule could be broken. “The key
norm, once that’s out, it seems like everything’s an option,” Mr. Svolik said.
Factional purges risk shifting political
norms from consensus to zero-sum, and
sometimes life-or-death, infighting.
And Mr. Xi is undermining the institutionalism that made China’s authoritarianism unusually resilient. Collective
leadership and orderly succession, both
public participation. For example, a program called “Mayor’s Mailboxes” allows citizens to voice demands or complaints, and rewards officials who comply.
The program, one study found, significantly improved the quality of governing and citizens’ happiness with the
state. No one would call these towns
democratic. But it felt enough like democracy to satisfy some.
This sort of innovation began with local communities that expressed their
will through limited but persistent dissent and protest. Lily L. Tsai, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology scholar,
termed it “accountability without democracy.”
Now, some officials are adapting this
once-resisted trend into deliberate practice. Their goal is not to bring about liberalization but to resist it — to “siphon
off popular discontent without destabilizing the system as a whole,” the China
scholars Vivienne Shue and Patricia M.
Thornton write in a new book on governing in China.
Most Chinese, Beijing seems to hope,
will accept authoritarian rule if it delivers at least some of the benefits
promised by democracy: moderately
good government, somewhat responsive officials and free speech within
sharp bounds. Citizens who demand
more face censorship and oppression
that can be among the harshest in the
That new sort of system could do
more than overcome China’s conflict
with the forces of history. It could provide a model of authoritarianism to
thrive globally, showing, Ms. Shue and
Ms. Thornton write, “how non-democracies may not only survive but succeed
over time.”
But Mr. Xi’s power grab, by undermining institutions and promoting all-ornothing factionalism, risks making that
sort of innovation riskier and more difficult.
When leaders consolidate power for
themselves, Ms. Frantz of Michigan
State said, “over time their ability to get
a good read on the country’s political climate diminishes.”
Such complications are why Thomas
Pepinsky, a Cornell University political
scientist, wrote on Twitter, “I’m no
China expert, but centralizing power in
the hands of one leader sounds like the
most typical thing that a decaying authoritarian state would do.”
Call to arm teachers resonates at schools that do
Ohio district’s approach
to security: safes, guns
and bulletproof vests
The 8-by-11-inch box sits atop a bookshelf in the school district headquarters,
as much a part of the office furniture as
the manila folders, yearbooks and Webster’s dictionaries. Inside is a semiautomatic Glock handgun with extra magazines, equipment that education leaders
here say will prevent this district from
suffering the next schoolhouse tragedy.
Dispersed throughout the seven
school buildings in this rural Ohio district outside of Dayton are dozens of biometric safes, tucked away discreetly in
closets and classrooms, accessible only
to a designated staff member whose fingerprint can open the box.
A bulletproof vest is nearby, in an undisclosed location, fortified to protect
against any bullet except one fired from
an assault rifle.
“We can’t stop an active shooter, but
we can minimize the carnage,” said John
Scheu, the superintendent of Sidney
City Schools in Shelby County.
After the latest mass shooting, at
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High
School in Parkland, Fla., last month,
President Trump amplified calls to train
and arm educators, roiling the teaching
profession and infuriating gun control
advocates who see yet another inappropriate — and potentially disastrous —
duty being heaped on teachers.
For all the outcry, though, hundreds of
school districts across the United
States, most of them small and rural, already have. Officials like those here in
Sidney do not see the weaponry scattered through their schools as a political
statement, but as a practical response to
a potent threat.
The push for others to follow their
lead has almost instantly ignited a backlash. A hashtag emerged on social media, #ArmMeWith, followed by a litany
of suggestions from teachers other than
guns: books, science equipment, computers and better pay. A cartoon depicting a teacher struggling underneath the
weight of her responsibilities — social
worker, drug detector, disciplinarian —
Sheriff John Lenhart of Shelby County, Ohio, said, “I agree with those folks who say teachers should teach and cops should be cops,
but we got a mess on our hands.” School windows and doors are numbered on the outside, right, to help emergency workers.
was shared on social media more than
100,000 times.
While the president was talking up armaments and bonuses for teachers who
volunteer for weapons training, dispirited educators in West Virginia walked
out of their schools, seeking what they
say would be simply a living wage.
“We can’t stop an active shooter,
but we can minimize the
carnage,” one school
superintendent says.
“Doesn’t it get to be too much?” said
Brianne Solomon, a veteran West Virginia teacher who supplies food for her
students’ families and signs students’
permission slips if parents can’t. “On top
of all the things we do, to have to remember when we’re supposed to use a gun?”
But the Trump administration has ele-
vated the issue to something of an educational mission. The president insisted
that he personally would charge into a
school, even unarmed, to challenge a
Frank Brogan, a former Florida lieutenant governor who has been nominated for assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education, carries
an unusual credential: When he was an
assistant principal, Mr. Brogan chased
down an armed teenager, talked him
into lowering his weapon, then grabbed
his arm and wrestled it away.
But even many educators who have
faced off with a school gunman oppose
the president’s idea.
Every day for five and a half years,
Jesse Wasmer said, he has thought
about the moment that he tackled a student who had just fired a shotgun into
the back of a classmate in the cafeteria
of a suburban Baltimore high school.
“Never have I thought, ‘I wish I’d had
a gun,’ ” he said. Mr. Wasmer, who was a
guidance counselor at Perry Hall High
School when a student opened fire there
in 2012, called the president’s assertions
“simplistic and misguided.”
“I think as educators we’re trained to
nurture kids and foster kids, and our
first instinct is to not shoot or harm
them,” he said. “What we need is more
caring adults in these kids’ lives, not
more guns.”
Officials here in this town of 20,000 do
not swagger.
“I agree with those folks who say
teachers should teach and cops should
be cops, but we got a mess on our
hands,” said Sheriff John Lenhart of
Shelby County, who gave up his National
Rifle Association membership in the
1990s. “If I have to wait on state officials,
on the federal government, on psychologists to figure out why people hurt one
another, we would have nothing in our
school system.”
Since 2013, in response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in
Newtown, Conn., legislation in state
capitals across the country has sought
to arm school staff. At least 10 states allow staff members to possess or have access to a firearm on school grounds, according to an analysis by the Education
Commission of the States. And local districts have varied their approaches to
arming educators — in Ohio, guns are
kept in safes; in Texas, they can be worn
in holsters or kept in safes within immediate reach.
A Florida state legislative committee
approved a $67 million “school marshal”
program this past week to train and arm
teachers — over the vocal opposition of
Parkland residents.
In Texas, some public school systems
have been quietly arming teachers and
administrators for more than a decade.
Teachers and other school personnel
who volunteer to undergo specialized
training receive approval to either carry
a concealed firearm in school or have
one within reach.
Lawmakers, educators and advocates
of gun rights said Texas’ school marshal
and school guardian programs have
eased fears of armed intruders and have
not led to any firearm accidents or mishaps. The state’s programs could serve
as a model for schools around the country, advocates say.
In Ohio, which allows local school
boards to decide who can possess or
have access to firearms on school
grounds, Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, also supports arming teachers.
Ohio’s teachers’ unions have mobilized against the widespread arming of
teachers in schools, arguing that gun
control, not armed clashes, will protect
“We appreciate that there are teachers that are willing to take this extra
step. It comes from a good place,” said
Melissa Cropper, the president of the
Ohio Federation of Teachers. “But when
you start thinking about all that could go
wrong in that situation, there are too
many risks involved.”
Like many districts, Sidney City
Schools was shaken by the slaughter of
20 first graders and six staff members at
Sandy Hook in 2012. In the following
days, Sheriff Lenhart presented Mr.
Scheu with an equation: Every 17 seconds after the first shots are fired and
the first 911 call is made, somebody gets
hurt or dies.
“Even in the best-case scenario, we
could get here in four to five minutes,”
Sheriff Lenhart said. “You do the math.”
Within a year, Sheriff Lenhart had led
what he calls a “layered” approach to
school security and a “conservative” approach to arming teachers in the 3,400student school district.
The district spent about $70,000 on
safes, bulletproof vests, cameras, guns,
radios and ammunition. Uniformed,
armed officers cost $200,000 a year, and
an insurance policy of $100,000 a year
includes coverage for its staff with access to firearms.
Those are negligible costs for a school
district with a $36 million budget, the superintendent said.
“We’re buying time, and it’s of the
essence,” Mr. Scheu said.
Nicki New, the parent of three students in Sidney City Schools, said she
felt safer dropping off her children
knowing there were staff members
equipped to respond to a parent’s worst
“God forbid, if something would happen, knowing that not only a law enforcement officer is there, but there are
teachers in that building who can give
my child a fighting chance, is even more
reassuring,” Ms. New said.
Erica L. Green reported from Sidney,
Ohio, and Manny Fernandez from Houston.
science lab
The chambered nautilus is the ocean’s most efficient jet engine
Researchers in England set out to understand better how the
chambered nautilus moves. They found that the nautilus, a
shellfish, is actually a highly efficient jet-propelled creature,
wasting much less energy than marine organisms like squid
or jellyfish that get around in a similar way.
The researchers sprinkled an aquarium with floating particles of aluminum oxide. They put five chambered nautiluses
into the tank, and let them jet about. They used high-speed
cameras, a laser that lit up the particles and software to record
The researchers discovered that the nautilus was able to
use 30 to 75 percent of the energy it transferred to the water to
move. That was much more than other similar swimmers. In
general, moving very large volumes of water relatively slowly,
as a fish’s tail or a diver’s flippers do, wastes less energy than
having to swiftly accelerate very small amounts. But when
nautiluses are sucking in water, they do so in a wide stream,
rather than in a more energetically costly narrow one. And
they spend more time jetting than they do refilling in certain
swimming situations, gently eking out the fluid they’ve
already sipped in. VERONIQUE GREENWOOD
Testing new camera,
amateur astronomer
captures star’s death
Top, Tasmanian tigers in a zoo about 1910.
Left, baby tigers preserved in jars.
Inside the pouch
of a Tasmanian tiger
The extinct Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, bears an uncanny resemblance
to today’s canines.
But the Tasmanian tiger was a marsupial, meaning it had a pouch like a
kangaroo. And despite the similarities,
the Tasmanian tiger last shared a
common ancestor with the placental
pack 160 million years ago. “One of the
things we were interested in was how
come they look so much like dogs,
even though they are distantly related?” said Andrew Pask, a developmental biologist at the University of Melbourne.
It was one of the clearest cases of
convergent evolution, in which two
unrelated organisms evolve to look or
function alike because they fill similar
environmental niches. Hunters wiped
out the Tasmanian tiger in the early
1900s. Scientists have examined museum specimens to study characteristics it shared with canines.
Now, by studying baby thylacines
preserved in jars, Dr. Pask and his
colleagues have pinpointed when those
similarities began to develop. Using CT
scanning, the team revealed the developmental stages of the extinct thylacine. NICHOLAS ST. FLEUR
‘It shows that you don’t have to be a rich country
to make these kinds of decisions. It only requires
will and courage.’
Michelle Bachelet, president of Chile, announcing the creation of a vast national park
Daily nuggets of science for mobile readers:
Boom. A star is dead.
On Sept. 20, 2016, Victor Buso,
an amateur astronomer in Rosario,
Argentina, was checking out the
new camera on his telescope by
taking pictures of a nearby spiral
galaxy, when a star within it went
off in a supernova explosion.
Within hours, and prompted by
Mr. Buso’s good fortune,
professional astronomers around
the world trained their big
telescopes on the galaxy, known as
NGC 613, about 80 million
light-years from here in the
constellation Sculptor. It was a
rare instance in which
astronomers were able to see the
beginning of a supernova, when
one of the most massive stars in
the universe ends its life in one of
the most violent events nature can
What does it take
for vampire bats to live
on blood? A lot of guts
By combining an understanding of
what lives in a vampire bat’s gut with
the flying mammal’s genome sequence, researchers have obtained
tantalizing insights into how the
blood-supping creatures manage to
survive on such an unusual diet.
Blood, it turns out, is a very difficult
thing to live well on. There are almost
no carbohydrates and few vitamins,
and meals may be laced with viruses.
A study by M. Lisandra Zepeda
Mendoza and her colleagues compared
vampire bats’ genome and microbiome
with those of three other bat species: a
bat that eats fruit; one that eats insects; and one that eats mice, lizards
and other small animals.
Vampire bats had the same general groups of bacteria in their guts
as other bats. But the researchers
found big differences in what the
microbes were doing.
In vampire bats, the microbes
focused on metabolic tasks like
breaking down proteins and producing vitamins the bats might otherwise lack. VERONIQUE GREENWOOD
Making the case
that wild flamingos
are Florida natives
You see pink flamingos in Florida
on T-shirts, hotel signs, lottery
tickets and even the opening credits of “Miami Vice.”
But it’s unusual to spot one in the
wild. Most experts think they’re
escapees from captive populations,
introduced to the state decades ago.
But others think they could be a
returning population from Mexico,
Cuba or the Caribbean reclaiming a
lost part of its natural territory.
A new study could help make the
case for treating flamingos as Florida natives, possibly even endangered ones, which would entitle them
to state protections like those given
to other imperiled birds.
The study concludes that flamingos once lived in Florida in flocks of
up to 2,500 birds and may have even
nested there. But by the early 20th
century, the population vanished,
hunted to extinction for meat and
feathered hats. JOANNA KLEIN
A slow-motion genocide
continues to
kill its
now by
them health
care and
food instead
of by
and firing
Nicholas Kristof
spent the day crying. And even after her
tear ducts emptied, her shirt was still
wet from leaking milk.
Her newborn twins had died the
previous day, and she squatted in her
grass-roof hut, shattered by pain and
grief. She is 18 and this was her first
pregnancy, but as a member of the
Rohingya ethnic minority she could not
get a doctor’s help. So after a difficult
delivery, her twins lie buried in the
Sometimes Myanmar uses guns and
machetes for ethnic cleansing, and
that’s how Sono Wara earlier lost her
mother and sister. But it also kills more
subtly and secretly by regularly denying medical care and blocking humanitarian aid to Rohingya, and that’s why
her twins are gone.
Myanmar and its Nobel Peace Prizewinning leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, are
trying to make the Rohingya’s lives
unlivable, while keeping out witnesses.
Some 700,000 Rohingya have fled to
Bangladesh in recent months, but the
fate of those left behind has been less
clear, for Myanmar mostly bans foreigners from Rohingya areas. The government fired a warning flare when it
arrested two Reuters journalists for
reporting on an army massacre of
Rohingya; the reporters face up to 14
years in prison for committing superb
Entering Myanmar on a tourist visa, I
was able to slip undetected into five
Rohingya villages. What I found was a
slow-motion genocide. The massacres
and machete attacks of last August are
over for now, but Rohingya remain
confined to their villages — and to a
huge concentration camp — and are
systematically denied most education
and medical care.
So they die. No one
This is my
counts the deaths
fourth trip in
accurately, but my
four years to
sense is that the
cover the
Myanmar governRohingya,
ment kills more
Rohingya by denying
a Muslim
them health care and
sometimes food than
despised in
by wielding maa mostly
chetes or firing bulBuddhist
This is my fourth
trip in four years to
cover the Rohingya, a
Muslim minority despised in a mostly
Buddhist country, and initially I used
the term “ethnic cleansing.” But along
with many human rights monitors, I’ve
come to conclude that what is unfolding
here probably qualifies as genocide.
Scholars at Yale University and the
U.S. Holocaust Museum have already
warned that this may be genocide, as
has the United Nations human rights
chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein. This genocide sometimes consists of violent
attacks, but now mostly of denying food
or medical care.
“These tactics are right out of the
genocidaires’ playbook,” said Matthew
Smith of Fortify Rights, a human rights
group specializing on Myanmar, also
called Burma. “Underfeeding and
systematically weakening a population
has been characteristic of other genocides.”
Sono Wara was unable to receive any
prenatal or emergency care. In a crisis,
a Rohingya can request police permission to go to a government clinic down
the road that serves the general population, but it lacks a doctor, and Rohingya
are often fearful of being attacked. They
also must pay for a police escort at the
clinic, adding to the cost.
“I was afraid to go,” Sono Wara said in
a catatonic voice. “The clinic doesn’t
care about Rohingya.”
On top of her physical and emotional
pain is a constant fear. Her village wasn’t attacked in the August wave of violence, but, Sona Wara said, “That could
happen here.” In 2012, people from a
nearby village attacked with machetes
and killed her mother and sister.
One theory is that Myanmar is trying
to create such misery and fear that the
Rohingya will flee on their own, so that
the army doesn’t need to bother with
the messy business of massacres. Sono
Wara said that she and her husband
have discussed trying to escape to
Malaysia — a perilous journey that
often involves rape, robbery and death.
Myanmar’s ethnic cleansing became
impossible to hide with the exodus in
August of Rohingya bearing stories of
massacres and pogroms. In interviewing those refugees late last year, I was
particularly shaken by the account of a
woman, Hasina Begum, who told me
how soldiers had executed the men and
boys in her village, had made a bonfire
of their bodies and had then taken the
women to a hut to be raped. “I was
trying to hide my baby under my scarf,
but they saw her leg,” Hasina Begum
said. “They grabbed my baby by the leg
and threw her onto the fire.”
What’s happening to those left behind
Zainul Abedin mourned his wife, who died in childbirth in the home behind him. She
was not allowed to deliver in a hospital.
in the villages is a more banal kind of
brutality. In one remote hamlet reachable only by boat or footpath, I saw a
stunted 4-year-old, Umar Amin, being
bathed by his big sister.
I pulled out a MUAC strip, used to
assess child malnutrition by measuring
the upper arm, and Umar Amin was in
the red danger zone, signifying severe
acute malnutrition. He can’t walk or talk
and desperately needs help, but he has
never been able to see a doctor.
International aid groups are ready
and eager to help children like Umar
Amin, but the government often blocks
them, especially in northern areas near
the Bangladesh border. It is difficult to
understand this denial of humanitarian
access as anything but an intentional
policy of grinding down and driving out
the Rohingya — one reason I see this as
a slow-motion genocide.
What of “The Lady,” Aung San Suu
Kyi, who won her Nobel for her resolute
struggle for the human rights of Myanmar? She is now the effective leader of
Myanmar’s government and has
emerged as not only an apologist for
this genocide, but also as complicit in it.
Suu Kyi does not control the army,
which committed the massacres, but
she has helped keep aid groups away.
She has also tried to erase the existence
of the Rohingya, rejecting the term and
saying that they are merely illegal
immigrants from Bangladesh. (In fact, a
document from 1799 shows the Rohingya were well established here even
then.) And it is her government that is
proceeding with the criminal case
against the two Reuters reporters.
I was able to get a tourist visa because I was leading a segment of a tour
sponsored by The New York Times
Company to Myanmar. The visa came
with a stern warning that I must not do
any reporting. In general, I believe that
journalists should obey the laws of
countries they visit, but I make an
exception when a regime uses its laws
to commit and hide crimes against
In one case on this trip, I arrived after
dark so I would be less likely to be spotted. In others, villagers advised me on
what paths to take to avoid the police. To
get to two villages, I took a boat around
a police checkpoint.
In one of the villages reached by boat,
I met Zainul Abedin as he mourned his
wife, Jahan Aara, 20, who had died in
childbirth, along with the baby, in her
first pregnancy without ever getting
medical help.
“Maybe she would have died even in a
hospital, but at least she would have had
a chance,” Zainul Abedin said. “This
way she didn’t even have a chance.”
He is thinking of trying to escape,
which would entail paying human
traffickers $2,300 to smuggle him to
Malaysia. The authorities hound aid
workers and journalists, but it seems to
look the other way at these human
Many of those who set out die en
route. Zainul Abedin knows the risks
because his own father fled in hopes of
reaching Malaysia and hasn’t been
heard from since.
“We are like a bird in a cage,” Zainul
Abedin told me. “They give us less and
less, we get smaller and smaller, and
then we die. Or we can try to flee, and
then they can kill us.”
The Rohingya have been confined to
their villages and the concentration
camp for almost six years now, with
restrictions tightened further after the
August massacres. Elders complained
to me in particular about the loss of
education, as Rohingya aren’t allowed
to attend regular schools. Villages try to
run informal schools of their own, but
without textbooks, desks and proper
teachers, not much learning happens,
and even the most brilliant children
have no hope of ever attending high
school or a university. The result is a lost
Many Myanmar readers will find my
reporting unfair, for their narrative is
very different. Htun Aung Kyaw, a
leader of the Arakan National Party, the
main political party here in Rakhine
State, told me the key points as he sees
them: The Rohingya are illegal immigrants, they have been trying for decades to create a separate Islamic state,
they include armed insurgents who
commit atrocities, and they burn their
own villages so as to discredit the
Myanmar government.
That is mostly nonsense, although it’s
quite true that a Rohingya rebel group
A small Rohingya village in Myanmar. Residents are not allowed to hold jobs, attend school or receive medical care.
precipitated the August violence with
attacks on police stations. The army
responded with scorched-earth tactics
that, by the count of Doctors Without
Borders, resulted in at least 9,000 Rohingya deaths. The army has for decades waged ferocious counterinsurgencies against other ethnic minorities,
such as the Shan and Karen, so raping
and murdering civilians may have
reflected not so much military strategy
as muscle memory.
Ordinary citizens often seem to have
been manipulated by anti-Rohingya
propaganda, particularly on Facebook.
One moderate Rakhine village leader, U
Maung Kyaw Nyunt, told me that the
hatred toward the Rohingya has escalated because of the arrival of smartphones and Facebook, resulting in
virulent anti-Rohingya propaganda
depicting them as murderous terrorists
who commit atrocities against Buddhists.
“Young people are using their smartphones a lot,” he said. “They don’t see
with their eyes; they just see with their
“I have arguments with my son about
this,” he said, adding, “Facebook has
been bad for Myanmar.”
The military has internet units
trained by Russia, and one theory is that
the army may be behind part of the
social media campaign against the
The West doesn’t have much leverage
over Myanmar, and China protects it on
the United Nations Security Council.
David Mathieson, a longtime human
rights analyst in Myanmar, said that
outside protests about the Rohingya
have been largely ineffective, sometimes counterproductive, as when
exaggerations play into the Myanmar
narrative of victimhood.
Still, we can work with other countries to raise the cost of ethnic cleansing, and under international law we
have an obligation to take steps to address genocide (although the law does
not stipulate that these actions must be
particularly significant).
A crucial first step is targeted sanctions against Myanmar leaders, as
bipartisan legislation in both the House
and the Senate proposes. The bill passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but needs approval from the
Senate Republican leadership to go
The U.S. government can also do
more to name and shame the perpetrators, and to exert relentless pressure for
humanitarian access. It was good to see
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the
United Nations, denounce Myanmar
last month for making life for the Rohingya “a death sentence.” We can ask
the intelligence community to gather
evidence of war crimes. Through Voice
of America, we could broadcast lessons
for Rohingya schools.
The suffering in these Rohingya
villages is easy to ignore at a time of
global and domestic upheaval. We all
suffer distraction and compassion
fatigue. But as Elie Wiesel, the great
survivor of a different genocide, said in
his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance
speech, “Wherever men or women are
persecuted because of their race, religion or political views, that place must
— at that moment — become the center
of the universe.”
By that standard, the grass-roof hut
where Sona Wara weeps over her lost
twins cries out to us as a center of the
Sono Wara, a Rohingya in her village in Myanmar a
day after the death
of her newborn
Hollywood’s ‘three amigos’
A.G. SULZBERGER, Publisher
DEAN BAQUET, Executive Editor
MARK THOMPSON, Chief Executive Officer
JOSEPH KAHN, Managing Editor
STEPHEN DUNBAR-JOHNSON, President, International
TOM BODKIN, Creative Director
JEAN-CHRISTOPHE DEMARTA, Senior V.P., Global Advertising
SUZANNE DALEY, Associate Editor
ACHILLES TSALTAS, V.P., International Conferences
CHARLOTTE GORDON, V.P., International Consumer Marketing
JAMES BENNET, Editorial Page Editor
HELEN KONSTANTOPOULOS, V.P., International Circulation
JAMES DAO, Deputy Editorial Page Editor
HELENA PHUA, Executive V.P., Asia-Pacific
KATHLEEN KINGSBURY, Deputy Editorial Page Editor
SUZANNE YVERNÈS, International Chief Financial Officer
Bad advice,
define the
tenure at the
White House.
This is the second part of an editorial series on nepotism
in the White House.
For some of the most important roles in his administration, Mr. Trump turned to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Though Mr. Trump voices high praise for Mr. Kushner’s
talent, the fact that he’s family is qualification enough for
a president obsessed with close-lipped loyalty and uninterested in policy unless it benefits himself.
Mr. Kushner’s achievements have not only been paltry,
but he is directly implicated in some of the president’s
most destructive — and self-destructive — decisions, as
well as in some of the most serious accusations of selfdealing that have been made against the administration.
American officials have intercepted conversations in
which at least four countries, including China and the
United Arab Emirates, discussed ways to take advantage
of Mr. Kushner’s indebtedness, naïveté and ignorance of
foreign policy to further their interests, according to The
Washington Post. This week, The Times reported that
Kushner Companies received hundreds of millions of
dollars in loans through American companies, including
Citigroup and the private equity firm Apollo Global Management, after their top executives met with Mr. Kushner in the White House. The Qatari government’s investment fund was a major investor in Apollo’s real estate
This was all occurring while Mr. Kushner had access to
top-secret intelligence, despite having failed to secure a
permanent security clearance. His faulty disclosures of
his financial interests and foreign contacts and his indebtedness have most likely held up his clearance for
more than a year. His access was downgraded this week
from top secret to secret, hardly reassuring.
Mr. Kushner holds a broad foreign policy portfolio,
with responsibility for Mexico, Canada, China, and Middle East peace efforts. The Kushner family’s friendship
with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and
the Kushner Companies’ extensive business ties to Israel
fueled skepticism among Palestinian leaders. Any hopes
of progress were effectively dashed when the president
recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a coup for Israel
for which the United States got nothing in return.
Finally, there’s Mr. Kushner’s role as senior presidential adviser. Mr. Kushner’s multiple contacts with Kremlin-connected Russians while helping to run Mr. Trump’s
campaign and transition are now part of the special
counsel’s inquiry into whether Trump operatives colluded with Russia’s effort to swing the campaign in Mr.
Trump’s favor. Fortified by Mr. Kushner’s advice, Mr.
Trump fired F.B.I. Director James Comey, hoping to derail the investigation. This colossally foolish decision led
to Robert Mueller’s appointment as special counsel, and
the beginning of a criminal investigation that could range
widely through Team Trump’s finances and connections.
Mr. Kushner attended the June 2016 Trump Tower
meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and Kremlin-linked Russians who promised “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
In December of 2016, Mr. Kushner held a private meeting with Sergey Gorkov, who runs a Kremlin-connected
Moscow bank under sanctions by the United States. A
White House official said the meeting was under the
auspices of the presidential transition, while the Russians said Mr. Kushner was acting in his capacity as head
of Kushner Companies. Federal and congressional investigators say the meeting may have been part of an effort
by Mr. Kushner to establish a direct line to President
Vladimir Putin of Russia outside established diplomatic
At this point, the right question to ask is why Mr. Kushner still has any diplomatic role at all.
The Kushner family is scouring the globe for investors
to shoulder billions in debt and redevelopment costs that
Jared Kushner encumbered the company with when he
bought a skyscraper at 666 Fifth Avenue, at a record
price for the time. How handy, then, that Mr. Kushner,
who still owns a hefty stake in the Kushner Companies,
is Mr. Trump’s chief liaison with some two dozen nations,
often operating outside formal guidance by the State
Department or the National Security Council.
Former associates say that as chief executive of Kushner Companies and as owner of the struggling New York
Observer, which the Kushners bought in 2006, Mr. Kushner disregarded relevant experience and rules, leaving it
to lawyers to clean up after his mistakes.
It’s beginning to dawn on Mr. Kushner that Washington doesn’t work like that. And the walls seem to be
closing in on him. Mr. Kelly, the chief of staff, has been
working to narrow Mr. Kushner’s lane, and limit his access to classified material and briefings. But as F.B.I.
investigators circle the West Wing and extend their scrutiny to the Kushner businesses, Mr. Kushner might still
want the protective umbrella of the White House.
Clearly, Americans deserve better from their public
servants, but the law doesn’t provide sufficient protection from a president who doesn’t get that. If Mr. Kushner’s performance inspires such reforms, it could prove
his only real achievement.
Ioan Grillo
Contributing Writer
MEXICO CITY In 1960s America, a
cleaning woman who can’t speak and
lives next door to a gay artist falls in
love with a humanoid sea creature held
in a government lab for Cold War
It sounds like a pitch that would
make Hollywood producers screw up
their faces and scream, “Next!” But
the Mexican director Guillermo del
Toro not only procured a $19.5 million
budget for “The Shape of Water,” he
made it into a commercial and critical
success, in the running for 13 prizes at
the Academy Awards ceremony on
If Mr. del Toro wins the best directing
award at the Oscars, it will be the fourth
time a filmmaker from Mexico has
taken the prize in five years, all with
experimental films. Alejandro G.
Iñárritu won in 2015 for “Birdman,” the
bizarrely hilarious tale of an aging
superhero actor trying to get serious on
Broadway, and he did it again in 2016
with “The Revenant,” a radically different western focused on a quest for
revenge in subzero temperatures.
Alfonso Cuarón triumphed in 2014 with
“Gravity,” a sci-fi story that many said
was impossible to make, before it made
over $723 million at the worldwide box
Referred to as “The Three Amigos,”
the title of a book about their transnational cinema, these directors are not
the only Mexican filmmakers who have
won recent accolades in Hollywood.
There is also the cinematographer
Emmanuel Lubezki, who has three
Oscars; Rodrigo Prieto, who shot “The
Wolf of Wall Street,” “Argo,” and
“Brokeback Mountain”; and another
Oscar winner, the production designer
Eugenio Caballero.
The Amigos’ success shows the
strength of an artistic circle; they are
longtime friends who have encouraged
one another to take risks. They began
making their films when the Mexican
industry was at a low in the 1980s,
dominated by raunchy movies about
escort bars, and overshadowed by
telenovela soaps. The Amigos bucked
the trend with dark stories about H.I.V.,
inner-city dogfights, historic horrors.
Their early Hollywood movies, such
as Mr. Cuarón’s 1995 “Little Princess”
and Mr. del Toro’s 1997 “Mimic,” had
moderate success. In the 2000s, their
triumphs got steadily bigger, as did
their budgets; “Gravity” cost $100
Most of their Hollywood films have
not been explicitly about Mexico, but
their background comes through in
subtle ways. “Del Toro’s films show a
belief that people have in spirits and
demons that you find in small Mexican
pueblos,” said the film journalist Salvador Franco. Mr. del Toro’s style can
also be compared to the literary magical realism of Latin America as he
mixes serious dramatic moments with
sea monsters and fairies.
The films of Mr. Iñárritu break from
the moral optimism of Hollywood to
portray a more dysfunctional world. In
“The Revenant,” this comes out in a
reimagining of the
western to show how
tough life really was
on the frontier of the
films take on
1820s. Mr. Cuarón
displays Mexico’s
themes and
sharp class awareness, looking at
remind us of
intersections of the
the power of
rich and poor in films
ethnic and
such as “Great Excultural
diversity to
In contrast, the
enrich the
Pixar film “Coco,”
nominated this year
for best animated
feature film, is a
wide-open celebration of Mexican
culture with a Latino cast. It broke box
office records in Mexico.
The Amigos directors have not
turned their cameras on a topic telenovelas, Netflix series and movies on
both sides of the border have focused
on — the drug trafficking that contributed to a record 29,168 homicides in
Mexico last year.
Mr. del Toro himself suffered from
violent crime when gangsters kidnapped his father for ransom in 1997,
making him and his family leave Mexico. His hurt and struggles come out
beautifully in his own distinct style of
cinema, in stories that flip between real
life and the magic of fairy tales.
Even as this circle of filmmakers has
triumphed, however, Hollywood has yet
to embrace Latino actors. A study by
Stacy L. Smith of the University of
Southern California’s Annenberg
School for Communication and Journalism found only 3 percent of speaking
characters in the top 100 movies of 2016
were Latinos, a result that prompted
protests by the National Hispanic
Media Coalition.
“We’re not asking for equity anymore,” said NHMC president Alex
Nogales, in a January news release.
“We’re demanding it.”
The remarkable successes of the
Amigos — and the ways in which
they’ve made their heritage part of
more universal movies — is a reminder
of how ethnic and cultural diversity can
enrich the movie industry.
Hopefully by next year’s award
season, audiences will see it in front of
the camera as well.
is the author of “Gangster
Warlords: Drug Dollars, Killing Fields
and the New Politics of Latin America.”
From left, Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro, and Alejandro G. Iñárritu at the Gotham Awards in November 2006.
Taxpayers, you’ve been scammed
Paul Krugman
So you go out for dinner with a wealthy
acquaintance. “I’ll take care of everything,” he says, and orders you a hamburger. Then he orders himself an
expensive steak and a bottle of wine,
which he doesn’t share. And when the
waiter comes with the check, he points
at you and says, “Charge it to his credit
Now you understand the essence of
the Trump tax cut, signed into law a
little over two months ago.
The key thing you need to know is
that right now the U.S. government has
no business cutting taxes. We need
more revenue, not less.
Why? The federal government, as an
old line says, is a giant insurance company with an army. Most of its costs
come from Social Security, Medicare
and Medicaid — and all three programs are becoming more expensive
as ever more baby boomers reach
retirement age. This means that unless
we cut back sharply on benefits that
middle-class Americans count on, we
will need to raise more revenue than in
the past.
Yet even before the tax cut, federal
tax receipts were looking weak for an
economy with low unemployment and
a rising stock market — for example,
far lower as a percentage of G.D.P.
than the tax take during the Clinton
boom of the 1990s, and even a bit lower
than they were at the end of the Bushera expansion. The tax cut will push
them lower still. Something will have
to give.
And we already know what will give,
if Republicans get their way: programs
that benefit working Americans. In
fact, the usual suspects like Paul Ryan
were talking about the need for “entitlement reform” — meaning cuts in
Medicare and Medicaid — to reduce
deficits even as they were passing a
huge tax cut that will make those
deficits much worse.
Hence my analogy about the guy
who “gives” you a hamburger, then
bills it to your credit card. Ryan celebrated the tax cut with a tweet about a
teacher saving $1.50 a week on her
taxes; that’s like saying you should feel
grateful for a “gift” that’s actually
being charged to your own credit card.
How’s that $75-a-year saving going to
look when the teacher finds out that,
partly because of that tax cut, her
mother’s Medicare plan has been
converted into an inadequate voucher
system and Medicaid won’t pay for her
father’s nursing home care?
Meanwhile, about your companion’s
steak dinner: Most of the tax cut actually consisted of huge tax breaks for
corporations, which is in effect a big
tax cut for stockholders. And while
many Americans own a bit of stock via
their retirement accounts, even if you
include these indirect holdings, more
than 80 percent of stocks are owned by
the wealthiest 10 percent of the population. So on the face of it, the wealthy
are giving themselves a big gift, and
sending the bill to the middle class.
Now, the tax cut’s
insist that
The tax cuts
it won’t really work
may look
that way, that the
like a gift, but benefits of lower
the middle
corporate taxes will
class will pay
trickle down to workers instead. How’s
the bill.
that supposed to
Well, the theory is that lower corporate taxes will draw in lots of money
from overseas, which corporations will
invest in new plants and equipment,
which will drive up the demand for
labor, which will raise wages. And to be
fair, there’s probably something to this
theory — something, but not very
President Trump with the just-signed tax law in December.
First of all, even if the process were
to work as advertised, it would take a
long time — probably decades. Even
the most optimistic analyses suggest
that there would be little effect on
wages for the first few years, which
means that for now what looks like a
tax break for the wealthy is, in fact, a
tax break for the wealthy.
Second, the story relies on a long
chain of events with multiple weak
links. For example, corporations with
monopoly power won’t see lower taxes
as a reason to invest more; they’ll just
take the money. Meanwhile, there’s
growing evidence that big employers
are using their power to suppress
wages; cutting their taxes won’t
change that fact. So even in the long
run we shouldn’t expect a lot of trickledown.
But wait — weren’t there a lot of
stories about companies using the tax
cut to give their workers bonuses? Yes,
there were — but only because the
news media let themselves get played.
Most of those bonuses would have
happened anyway: In an economy
with low unemployment, there are
always some companies deciding to
pay a bit more to attract workers. But
companies had every incentive to
pretend that the tax cut was responsible, if only to curry favor with the
Trump administration.
And in any case the bonus hype was
out of all proportion to the reality. So
far, we’ve seen about $6 billion in bonuses versus more than $170 billion in
stock buybacks, that is, handing
money to wealthy stockholders. And
money spent on buybacks is money
that isn’t being invested in plants and
equipment, the supposed point of the
tax cut.
So the message to middle-class
taxpayers is, if you think you were
helped by the tax cut, think again.
Donald Trump and his allies pretended
to give you a gift, but they gave themselves and their wealthy patrons much
bigger gifts — and they’re going to
stick you with the bill. You’ve been
How the left wins the culture war
David Brooks
Learning to drive at 62
Roger Cohen
So, dear reader, I passed my driving
test last month. This felt like a significant achievement. At 62, it was a little
late. But there’s been a lot going on.
It was a gray day on Staten Island.
I’d been advised this was the best New
York borough in which to take the test:
empty streets, lenient driver testers,
lots of Trump supporters so busy
watching the “genius” on Fox that they
seldom venture out.
I’d last taken a driving test 45 years
earlier in north London, at the age of
17. With a license, and little else, I
promptly drove from the British capital
to Kabul, across Europe, Turkey and
the Shah’s Iran, at the wheel of a VW
Kombi named “Pigpen” after the organist and vocalist of the Grateful
Dead who’d died that year.
My two friends and I listened to the
Flying Burrito Brothers singing
“White Line Fever.” We thought we
were pretty cool. Until the engine died
in the Hindu Kush, we had to be towed
to Mazar-i-Sharif, and then the repaired engine blew again near the top
of the Salang Pass (12,723 feet). We
freewheeled down, to find the king of
Afghanistan had been deposed that
July, setting in motion events we never
paused to consider.
I turned 18 in postcoup Afghanistan
in August 1973. Several weeks and
close calls later, I was in Oxford to
start college. Pigpen, by then adorned
with naïf Afghan paintings, was a
As introductions to driving go, the
trip offered a variety of terrain, hill
starts, dirt tracks, goats and conveyances.
Cut to Staten Island last month: flat,
placid and goat-free. My four kids had
been on my case for a long time. Take
the damn test, Dad! But, you know,
there’s the theory test, and then the
compulsory five-hour class, and having
to turn your place upside-down to find
the little blue Social Security Card you
last saw 17 years ago. I travel a lot.
There was always an excuse, a bad one.
Eddie, my driving instructor, seemed
like a genial guy when he returned
from lunch. But we got off to a shaky
start. Having adjusted, and looked in,
all the mirrors, I said something about
the “indicators,” and Eddie said,
“Huh?” and I said, “You know, the
indicators!” Eventually, we agreed on
“turn signals” and
got underway.
Still truckin’
I proceeded down
almost a
a ghostly avenue at a
breakneck 22 m.p.h.,
on, but a little with Eddie entering
lost in
observations at an
ominous rate on an
electronic gadget. I’d
gotten over the bonnet/hood, boot/trunk, lorry/truck stuff
— all that British-American divergence
— years ago, but this “turn-signal”
business had shaken me up. Failing
would be ignominy.
“Pull over,” Eddie said. His geniality
had evaporated.
“Over there, beside the car park?”
“I mean, the parking lot.”
I was so rattled that I almost forgot to
use my “turn signal,” and when it came
to the three-point turn my neck had
gone into such a spasm (60 may be the
new 40 but not always), I could not turn
my head. We headed into a roundabout.
Eddie insisted on calling it a “traffic
circle,” flustering me again to the point
that I almost failed to yield. Doing the
parallel parking, I managed not to
brush the sidewalk (pavement) with
the tires (tyres) — a potentially fatal
mistake, even on Staten Island.
After seven minutes, we were back
where we started. Eddie said I should
clean the windshield. It had been spitting rain. I assumed he meant the
“You passed!” he said, printing out a
piece of paper from his gadget like a car
rental agent presenting a receipt.
“Thank you, Eddie,” I said. I did not
say, “Brilliant!”
So, at this advanced age, I can drive.
That’s a good thing at a time when
there may be a need to escape from
Donald Trump into some faraway
corner of this great land. The words of
Blanche DuBois in Tennessee
Williams’s “A Streetcar Named Desire”
have been on my mind:
“He acts like an animal, has an animal’s habits! Eats like one, moves like
one, talks like one! There’s even something — sub-human — something not
quite to the stage of humanity yet! Yes,
something — apelike about him, like
one of those pictures I’ve seen in —
anthropological studies! Thousands
and thousands of years have passed
him right by, and there he is — Stanley
Kowalski — survivor of the Stone Age!
Bearing the raw meat home from the
kill in the jungle! And you — you here
— waiting for him! Maybe he’ll strike
you or maybe grunt and kiss you! That
is, if kisses have been discovered yet! ...
Maybe we are a long way from being
made in God’s image, but Stella — my
sister — there has been some progress
since then! Such things as art — as
poetry and music — such kinds of new
light have come into the world since
then! In some kinds of people some
tenderer feelings have had some little
beginning! That we have got to make
grow! And cling to, and hold as our
Thanks, Eddie; thanks to the kindness of strangers in America.
As Xi gains, what Beijing loses
and on social media.
China faces major economic, demographic and environmental challenges,
which will require shifting the country’s development model away from
low-cost, labor-intensive production
toward a more innovative and environmentally sustainable model — this,
even as the work force ages and
shrinks. The country needs a strong
leader to guide it through this transition.
The consolidation of Mr. Xi’s power
may also bolster China’s growing
confidence on the international stage,
perhaps even its assertiveness. This
prospect raises some concerns, including — to take just one example — that
the Chinese government may push
back against any hardball moves by
the Trump administration over trade
issues, or that it will manipulate divisions between the globalists and the
economic nationalists in Washington.
Yet Mr. Xi’s indefinite tenure at home
presents one advantage for governments abroad: a steady direction and
clear messaging. When Mr. Xi speaks,
one knows to listen.
What is less clear, however, is the
longer term impact on the C.C.P., which
has ruled China since 1949, partly by
deftly institutionalizing the peaceful
transfer of power at the top.
Term limits were introduced in the
1982 Constitution, partly in response to
the destabilizing effects of what the
C.C.P. had come to see as the excesses
of Mao’s rule, particularly during the
Cultural Revolution. Since then, two
presidents have stepped down after
their second five-year stints. This shift
from the rule of a man to the rule of the
party has been credited with bringing
political stability and economic development to China.
Few authoritarian regimes have
established means of tidily transferring power from one leader to the next
(except for monarchies, which often
rely on heredity). This is one reason
that when autocrats, especially long-
serving ones, exit the stage, they often
do so under duress or by force: Think
of Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya in
2011 or, more recently, Robert Mugabe
in Zimbabwe.
Until that moment comes, as much
political science research has shown,
authoritarian leaders often have to
fend off two major threats to their
longevity: competition from would-be
successors and popular discontent.
Removing formal limits on office terms
tends to exacerbate both of these problems.
China, of course, is no garden-variety
dictatorship. It is a single-party regime,
with the C.C.P. entrenched at every
level of government, in most social
organizations and
increasingly even in
Making the
private firms, includpresident
ing foreign ones. At
its apex sits a group
today could
of leaders who rule
make the
collectively and
consensually under a
president long reCommunist
garded as the first
Party weaker
among equals.
But since becoming head of the C.C.P.
in 2012, Mr. Xi has
dismantled practices that spread out
power and has amassed power for
He has adeptly leveraged the party’s
record of achievements in recent decades, exploiting it to build a cult around
his personality. He has justified this as
a necessary step in realizing the Chinese Dream, a nationalistic project to
build a Strong China, a Civilized China,
a Harmonious China and a Beautiful
China. The country is no longer biding
its time on the world stage; it is asking
for its due. And as the architect of this
vision, it is Mr. Xi, not the C.C.P., who
exemplifies the country’s rejuvenation.
But now, Mr. Xi’s move to entrench
himself as president, perhaps for life,
risks undermining the norms and mechanisms developed by the C.C.P. that
have brought China — and Mr. Xi him-
self — this far.
Lifting term limits removes incentives for would-be leaders to bide their
time and wait out Mr. Xi’s tenure, particularly if they are associated with a
political faction other than his. The
rules of the game have also become
more unpredictable. Will Mr. Xi retire
after three terms? Four? Or never?
With no clear successor in line, any
sudden need to transfer power also
becomes more fraught. Who will replace him if he falls ill or dies?
Especially in undemocratic systems,
scheduled leadership changes can also
placate the people, by allowing a new
leader to adjust policies in order to
correct a predecessor’s mistakes or
overreach. The Jiang Zemin administration in the 1990s and early 2000s
was known for its decisive economic
policymaking, the restructuring of
state firms and large-scale layoffs — as
well as unhappiness among vast
swathes of the population, especially
urban workers who for decades had
toiled in state firms. But then came
President Hu Jintao, with an agenda
promising to reduce inequality and
expand social protection. (How much it
actually did that is another matter.)
Term limits in China are a formal
mechanism of self-correction that
differs from the “throw the bums out”
promise inherent in democratic elections. Yet they are a device that over
the years has allowed the Chinese
government to control elite jockeying
and popular expectations, two challenges that tend to be very tricky for
authoritarian regimes to manage.
Mr. Xi’s indefinite term threatens the
return to one-man rule, at the cost of
one-party rule. The C.C.P. has largely
gone along with his power grab, hoping
he can steer China through its next big
challenges, but in doing so the party is
risking its own survival.
is a professor of political science and the director of the
Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese
Studies at the University of Michigan.
I wonder if I’m wrong on the subject of
guns. I started this latest round of the
debate with the presumption that
supporters of moderate gun restrictions are popularly strong but legislatively weak. Since Sandy Hook in 2012,
more than two dozen states have passed gun laws and almost all of those
laws have LOOSENED gun restrictions. Roughly 360 gun bills have been
introduced in Congress, and they have
all failed but one, which also loosened
gun use.
The blunt fact is that Republicans
control most legislatures. To get anything passed, I thought, it would be
necessary to separate some Republicans from the absolutist N.R.A. position. To do that you have to depolarize
the issue: show gun owners some
respect, put red state figures at the
head and make the gun discussion look
more like the opioid discussion. The
tribalists in this country have little
interest in the opioid issue. As a result,
a lot of pragmatic things are being
done across partisan lines.
The people pushing for gun restrictions have basically done the exact
opposite of what I thought was wise.
Instead of depolarizing the issue they
have massively polarized it. The students from Parkland are being assisted
by all the usual hyper-polarizing leftwing groups: Planned Parenthood,
Move On and the Women’s March. The
rhetoric has been extreme. Marco
Rubio has been likened to a mass
murderer while the N.R.A. has been
called a terrorist organization.
The early results would seem to
completely vindicate my position. The
Florida Legislature turned aside gun
restrictions. New gun measures in
Congress have been quickly shelved.
Democrats are more likely to lose
House and Senate seats in the key 2018
pro-gun states. The losing streak continues.
Yet I have to admit that something
bigger is going on. It could be that
progressives understood something I
didn’t. It could be that you can win
more important victories through an
aggressive cultural crusade than you
can through legislation. Progressives
could be on the verge of delegitimizing
their foes, on guns but also much else,
rendering them untouchable for anybody who wants to stay in polite society. That would produce social changes
far vaster than limiting assault rifles.
Two things have fundamentally
changed the landscape. First, over the
past two years conservatives have
self-marginalized. In supporting Donald Trump they have tied themselves
to a man whose racial prejudices,
sexual behavior and personal morality
put him beyond the pale of decent
While becoming the movement of
Dinesh D’Souza, Sean Hannity and
Franklin Graham, they have essentially expelled the leaders and thinkers
who have purchase in mainstream
culture. Conservatism is now less a
political or philosophic movement and
more a separatist subculture that
participates in its own ostracism.
Second, progressives are getting
better and more aggressive at silencing dissenting behavior. All sorts of
formerly legitimate
The gun issue opinions have now
been deemed beyond
may be the
the pale on elite
final battle.
campuses. Speakers
have been disinvited
and careers destroyed. The boundaries are being
redrawn across society.
As Andrew Sullivan noted recently,
“workplace codes today read like
campus speech codes of a few years
ago.” There are a number of formerly
popular ideas that can now end your
career: the belief that men and women
have inherent psychological differences, the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, opposition
to affirmative action.
What’s happening today is that
certain ideas about gun rights, and
maybe gun ownership itself, are being
cast in the realm of the morally illegitimate and socially unacceptable.
That’s the importance of the corporate efforts to end N.R.A. affiliations.
It’s not about N.R.A. members saving
some money when they fly. It’s that
they are not morally worthy of being
among the affiliated groups. The idea
is to stigmatize.
If progressives can cut what’s left of
the conservative movement off from
Welcoming back teachers and administrators to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High
School in Parkland, Fla., last month.
mainstream society, they will fundamentally alter the culture war. We
think of the culture war as this stagnant thing in which both sides scream
at each other. But eventually there
could be a winner. Progressives have
won on most social issues. They could
win on nearly everything else.
Continued school shootings could be
just the thing that persuades the mainstream that conservatism is vulgar and
socially illegitimate, somewhere between smoking and segregationism. If
that kind of total victory is on offer for
progressives, why should they take my
advice and tone things down for the
sake of a few small gun laws? The big
prize here is not gun laws. It’s winning
the culture war, with the gunfight as
the final battle.
The only thing I’d say to my progressive friends is, be careful how you win
your victories. It is one thing to win by
persuasion and another thing to win by
elite cultural intimidation. Illiberalism
breeds illiberalism. Using elite power,
whether economic or cultural, to silence less educated foes usually
produces a backlash.
Conservatives have zero cultural
power, but they have immense political
power. Even today, voters trust Republicans on the gun issue more than
Democrats. If you exile 40 percent of
the country from respectable society
they will mount a political backlash
that will make Donald Trump look like
Adlai Stevenson.
Whatever happens
next, we’ll help you
make sense of it.
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SATURDAY-SUNDAY, MARCH 3- 4, 2018 | 11
The elephant
in the dressing room
There’s a French term for a certain strategic approach to bilateral relations often applied with great approval to President Emmanuel Macron of France:
opération séduction. It’s what (“they”
say) got him invited as the first guest of
honor at a White House state dinner;
what marked his trip to China early this
year. It’s an accepted political tool, a part
of the patrimony. Sometimes, a newspaper headline.
In fashion, however, it’s the subject of
some trepidation. For obvious reasons,
many designers don’t want to touch the
issue of allure, actual or implied. Instead, we’ve been getting sweatshirts.
Or, as the voice-over at Virgil Abloh’s
Off-White show went, musings on “the
challenge of storytelling now” — i.e., in a
world of social media imagery and cacophony.
Mr. Abloh contributed to that one, in
any case, with a mob scene at his front
door (it was so bad some attendees were
terrified they were going to be crushed
against a street lamp) that spoke to his
At home,
with Society Room
Yvan Benbanaste,
left, and Fabrice
founders of Society Room, in the
store in Paris.
You know when you go to a friend’s
house for dinner, and you wish you could
buy their lifestyle: the furniture, the art,
the clothes, everything? At Society
Room, one of the most exclusive shopping destinations in Paris, that’s the
“There’s no question that e-commerce is the future,” said Yvan Benbanaste, the gregarious 46-year-old
founder and creative director of Society
Room, “but ultimately I wanted to give
my friends a good reason to get out of
the house and shop.”
Located in a 19th-century brick maisonette tucked in a courtyard near the
Madeleine, the store, for want of a better
word, initially appears to be just an enviably appointed Parisian home, with a
1980s Italian gold and glass console in
the foyer, custom-made alabaster light
fixtures by Ruben Glustin in the stairwell and, in the living room, a black-andwhite portrait of Naomi Campbell by the
photographer Albert Watson.
Except everything is for sale. And
along with the flea market finds, the art
dealer loaners and the Pierre Frey curtains, there are the tailored suits, little
black dresses and cocktail jumpsuits designed by Mr. Benbanaste. And it all is
refreshed about every six months.
Opened quietly last October, this is
not the kind of shop where you can just
drop by on a whim and browse. As its
name implies, Society Room is for
friends and friends-of-friends by a degree or two of separation. You can’t
make a reservation the way you do at a
current status as the Guy Most Rumored to Get a Big Job. Though the surprisingly tame horse-riding tapestry
separates, the spliced leather ’n’ lizard
dresses, molded moto breastplates and
sheer ruffled nightie gowns atop buttoned-up bodysuits that he put on the
runway did not.
It was enough to make you think: Feh
with the trendy social media meta-commentary! Bring back the sex problem.
Which is why, when the Rick Owens
show began to a medley of voices singing “Baubles, Bangles and Beads,” a
tune from the 1953 musical “Kismet”
that has been covered by everyone from
Peggy Lee to Frank Sinatra and that features a woman musing on whether her
sparkly accessories will help her catch a
man, it was kind of a relief. Hello there,
elephant in the dressing room.
But then, Mr. Owens often likes to go
where many other designers fear to
tread: to climate change, the refugee
crisis, stuff like that. “Listening to the
words, which are completely innocent,
is chilling at this moment,” he said backstage after the show.
“It’s a very sensitive time right now,
and I would not presume to know what
women are feeling,” he continued. “But I
know what I feel is appropriate to propose to them.”
Which turned out to be a questioning
of the old sartorial tools of seduction —
bustles, panniers, the classical underpinnings that transformed the body to
exaggerate its sexuality for the male eye
— via the template of the strapless dress
and the idea of curves. But curves according to who? It’s a good question.
From there, swathes of felted camel’s
hair and linen in complementary shades
(ivory and chocolate, dusty pink and
gray) wove and curlicued around the
torso and upper legs, flirting in tandem.
Giant fanny pouches bumped along
over one leg of cashmere running shorts
and tubes of fabric stuffed with goose
down swathed the shoulders and
hugged the thighs.
It was, on the Owens continuum,
restaurant, either. Shopping is by invitation only.
That invitation often includes cocktails, maybe dinner, served on the oval
table that seats 12 in a mallard blue dining room tucked between a tiny design
studio and the kitchen
Had Mr. Benbanaste lived in another
era, he would have been the host of a literary salon. As it is, when he hit a professional crossroads a year ago, the self-described textile geek decided to funnel
his experience at the Italian luxury
men’s wear brands A. Testoni and Pal Zileri into what he called “real life dressing” for women and men.
The details didn’t come into focus until Fabrice Pinchart-Deny, his business
partner, came up with the concept of an
actual home.
A friend of Mr. Benbanaste’s from
high school, Mr. Pinchart-Deny had
been an equity trader in London and
then briefly worked in real estate in
Paris before joining the business full
Mr. Benbanaste enjoys the kind of lifestyle seemingly made for Instagram.
His feed is filled with glamorous gatherings in Paris and exotic locales, be it a
birthday weekend on Mykonos, a bash
in London or a winter break in Tulum,
Mexico, which may help explain his
women’s wear aesthetic: “Jane Birkin
steals Serge Gainsbourg’s wardrobe.”
That translates into a tightly edited
collection of chic workhorse basics including crisp poplin shirts (starting at
140 euros, or $174) and silk blouses, jackets in stretch cotton micro-jacquard,
wool and mohair tuxedos (suits range
from €500 to €2,500), and coats in chocolate suede and shearling. There are pajama-style separates in Indian silk and
cotton jumpsuits that offer a poolside alternative to the sarong. Delivery for tailored pieces, produced in Europe, takes
three to four weeks.
“My friends look at fashion in a classical way, but with a touch of whimsy,” Mr.
Benbanaste said. They have a kind of
uniform, and they’re looking for something beautiful and sober that will let
them stand out. And they’re done with
having to find the time, then standing in
line to try clothes on or pay for them.”
Ad hoc as it sounds, he and Mr. Pinchart-Deny are already fielding inquiries: A pop-up space is to appear in September in Lisbon and trunk shows are
being planned in London and New York.
At home in France, Society Room has
begun building out its concept: On
Thursday, it will host an exhibition by
the photographer Stéphane Bisseuil at
the restaurant Alcazar on the Left Bank.
And a fabric discovery/wine tasting
event is planned for April at the headquarters of the Chateau de Ladoucette
wine group, in the 16th Arrondissement.
So, how does a stranger join the
For events, prospective guests will be
able to register on the Society Room’s
website. As for the “home” shopping experience, after a moment’s thought, Mr.
Benbanaste suggested: “They could always email and ask to drop by for tea.”
which has occasionally involved what
looks like alien pregnancies, surprisingly wearable — especially the jackets
hung from straps that could be slung
around a shoulder like a tote bag, and
the tailored collarless coats with enormous patch pockets and bright turquoise satin linings. It hinted at a different kind of come-hither.
By contrast, you could hear Julien
Dossena’s Paco Rabanne from a mile
away. This thanks to his embrace of
seemingly every permutation of the
brand’s signature futuristic plastic disc
and chain mail dresses. They came in a
mesh of silver flowers, iridescent rectangles, bobble-trimmed cilia and plastic paillettes, all of it hooked into slip
dresses and skirts and T-shirts that
could be worn over and under and amid
classic French basics (a camel turtleneck, a blue blazer, a black trouser
pantsuit, a faux fur). The overlays jin-
gled and jangled and shimmered as they
came. And, if they didn’t, the chain-mailbedecked shower slides that went with
almost every look did it for them, and
had a soap bubble appeal.
Maybe it’s a fools game to wrestle
with the big S issue right now. Even with
“Tainted Love” on his soundtrack, Olivier Rousteing at Balmain seemed more
interested in virtual reality escape than
physical reality. He remade his blingtastic bandage dresses, broad-shouldered
martinet jackets and “I Dream of Jeannie” pants in silver foil and holographic
fabrics; traced motherboard patterns in
neon crystal; and otherwise bedazzled
the JavaScript in a show so long it was
like being caught in an infinite loop.
And Mr. Owens did call his collection
“Sisyphus,” as in the Greek guy condemned to roll a rock up a mountain every day, only to have it roll down again.
At Loewe, Jonathan Anderson handed
out copies of “Don Quixote,” which suggested he felt much the same — except
then he also distributed “Dracula,”
“Heart of Darkness,” “Madame Bovary”
and “Wuthering Heights” (Loewe has
gotten into publishing). A cheery reading list, that. But he aims high. And he
likes pulling apart the classics.
Literally, in the case of clothes:
houndstooth suiting sliced up the
sleeve; trench coats with bare backs;
column dresses sliced into horizontal
bands and connected by sandbars of
fabric wound with yarn, like an evening
archipelago. Shirts were long and untucked, held together along the spine by
neatly spaced bows instead of a seam,
with collars that extended into lapping
tongues, and sometimes trailing
foulards. The silhouettes were urbane,
with an arts and crafts edge.
They made you feel . . . what is that
again? Oh, yeah. Desire.
A roundup of the Best Pictures and a diverse group of nominees for best original screenplay
Several perspectives on the Best Picture nominees
Christopher Nolan’s Latest TimeBending Feat? ‘Dunkirk’ [The New York
Nolan, the acclaimed auteur behind
“Inception” and the most recent Batman trilogy, picked up his first best-director nomination this year.
“As a filmmaker you’re looking for
gaps in the culture, pop culture at least;
you’re looking for things that haven’t
been addressed in movies,” Nolan explained to Cara Buckley in an interview
before the movie’s release. “And
Dunkirk, for whatever reason, has
never been addressed in modern cinema.”
Reviews of the films and a
closer look at what made
them so memorable
The Oscar nominations are here! Once
you’ve participated in our cherished national pastime of griping about all the
snubs and surprises, you might want to
read more about the best picture class of
2018. To help, we’ve compiled snippets
from The Times and elsewhere on the
Academy’s favorite films of last year.
Review: Daniel Day-Lewis Sews Up Another Great Performance in ‘Phantom
Thread’ [The New York Times]
“What kind of love story is “Phantom
Thread”?” asks A. O. Scott in his review.
“The wrenching tale of a woman’s love
for a man and a man’s love for his work.
A dry, comic study of the asymmetries
and conflicts at the heart of a marriage.
A refined gothic nightmare in the manner of Henry James. A perverse psychological fable of unchecked ego and unhinged desire. That’s a partial catalog,
and one that can’t quite capture how bizarre this movie is.”
‘Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Thomas
Anderson on How They Created “Phantom Thread”’ [The New York Times]
“Phantom Thread” is, at its core, the
story of a romance between two deeply
bizarre individuals: the fictional midcentury fashion designer Reynolds
Woodcock and the love of his life, Alma.
The Times’s Reggie Ugwu interviewed director Paul Thomas Anderson
and the leading cast members about
how they captured the film’s unique, ineffable weirdness. “There’s no strangeness you can imagine that is more
strange than the lives of apparently conventional people behind closed doors,”
says Day-Lewis, who stars as Woodcock.
Love story Vicky Krieps and Daniel Day-Lewis in “Phantom Thread,” a “tale of a woman’s love for a man and a man’s love for his work.”
Review: In ‘Get Out,’ Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (Bad Idea!) [The New
York Times]
“Part of what makes “Get Out” both
exciting and genuinely unsettling is how
real life keeps asserting itself, scene after scene,” writes Manohla Dargis in her
review. “Our monsters, Jordan Peele reminds us, are at times as familiar as the
neighborhood watch; one person’s fiction, after all, is another’s true-life horror story.”
The Movie “Get Out’ Is a Strong Antidote to the Myth of ‘Postracial’ America’
[The New York Times]
The filmmaker and comedian Jordan
Peele has expressed frustration at the
characterization of his movie “Get Out”
as a comedy. In an editorial, Brent Staples underlines the seriousness of Peele’s political critique, writing: “The film
is a disquisition on the continuing impact of slavery in American life. Among
other things, it argues that present-day
race relations are heavily determined
by the myths that were created to justify
enslavement — particularly the notion
that black people were never fully human.”
Jordan Peele Goes Inside ‘Get Outs’
Biggest Twist’ [Entertainment Weekly]
Every horror movie has a moment
when the floor finally drops out from under the protagonist. Peele goes deep
into his version of that scene in a spoilerfilled interview. “That was the hardest
scene to shoot,” he tells the writer Derek
Lawrence. “It was very hard for me to
put into words exactly why we were going to be able to reveal this twist twice in
a matter of four minutes.”
Review: A Boy’s Own Desire in ‘Call Me
by Your Name’ [The New York Times]
“‘Call Me by Your Name” is less a
coming-of-age story, a tale of innocence
and loss, than one about coming into
sensibility,” writes Manohla Dargis in
her review. “In that way, it is about the
creation of a new man who, the story
suggests, is liberated by pleasure that
doesn’t necessarily establish sexual
The ‘Call Me by Your Name’ Monologue Leaving Audiences in Tears [The
Daily Beast]
Timothée Chalamet got the Oscar
nomination, but Michael Stuhlbarg, who
plays the father of Chalamet’s character,
dominates the film’s most touching
scene. In a conversation with the reporter Kevin Fallon, Stuhlbarg explains, “All
you can hope for is an opportunity to tell
a story that seems to be what a lot of
people have lived through, and perhaps
present a different version of what it
seems most people may have gone
through in trying to communicate with a
parent about who they are, what they
feel, what their lives have been like.”
‘Call Me by Your Name’ Is a Love Letter to Missed Opportunity [Pacific
In an essay, Brandon Tensley writes,
“On top of so much else, ‘Call Me by Your
Name’ is an exploration of the sometimes-heartrending ways in which time,
whittled down by a nasty world, works
against queer people.”
Review: Greta Gerwig’s ‘Lady Bird’ Is
Big-Screen Perfection [The New York
“The idea that attention is a form of
love (and vice versa) is a beautiful insight, and in many ways it’s the key to
“Lady Bird,”” writes A. O. Scott in his review. “And if you pay the right kind of
attention to “Lady Bird” — absorbing its
riffs and digressions as well as its melodies, its choral passages along with its
solos and duets — you will almost certainly love it. It’s hard not to.”
Greta Gerwig Is a Director, Not a Muse
[New York Magazine]
Greta Gerwig rose to fame as an actress, in films by directors like Joe Swanberg and her partner and collaborator,
Noah Baumbach. But, as she explains to
the journalist Noreen Malone in this perceptive profile, “I did not love being
called a muse.” Considering that she is
now the fifth woman ever to earn a best
director nomination, it appears that Hollywood is finally getting the message.
Behind the Race to Publish the Top-Secret Pentagon Papers [The New York
Steven Spielberg’s latest film dramatizes The Washington Post’s historic efforts to cover the Pentagon Papers after
the government barred The New York
Times from following the story. The
Times’s Niraj Chokshi digs through the
archives in this piece tracing the newspapers’ race to publish the documents
and defend the free press.
Breaking Down a Crucial Phone Call
in ‘The Post’ [The Atlantic]
Meryl Streep racked up yet another
Oscar nomination for her performance
as the Post’s publisher, Katharine Graham. Here, David Sims gives a close
reading of the scene where Graham
must decide whether her paper will take
on the enormous risk of publishing the
documents. “Her decision is something
the film has spent an hour building toward, dramatizing Graham’s nervy debates with [Ben] Bradlee, with [Frederick] Beebe, and with her lawyers over
the necessity of standing up to Nixon,”
he writes. “But once she makes her
choice, it’s ironclad.”
Review: ‘The Shape of Water’ Is Altogether Wonderful [The New York Times]
“‘The Shape of Water” is partly a
code-scrambled fairy tale, partly a genetically modified monster movie, and
altogether wonderful. Guillermo del
Toro, the writer and director, is a passionate genre geek,” writes A. O. Scott in
his review. “In Mr. del Toro’s world,
though, reality is the domain of rules
and responsibilities, and realism is a
crabbed, literal-minded view of things
that can be opposed only by the forces of
How ‘The Shape of Water’s’ Aquatic
Beast Got So Sexy [Vanity Fair]
Katey Rich investigates the unnerving allure of a scaly fish-man with washboard abs in interviews with the team
behind the beautiful beast. Mike Hill, the
sculptor who gave life to the director
Guillermo del Toro’s vision for the character, recalls that: “The main thing he
said to me was, ‘Mike, I don’t want you
to make a creature; you’re designing the
leading man.’ What Guillermo was interested in was giving the fish-man a soul, a
personality, a heart, so to speak.”
Review: ‘Dunkirk’ Is a Tour de Force
War Movie, Both Sweeping and Intimate
[The New York Times]
“ ‘Dunkirk” is a tour de force of cinematic craft and technique,” writes
Manohla Dargis in her review. But it’s
also a film “that is unambiguously in the
service of a sober, sincere, profoundly
moral story that closes the distance between yesterday’s fights and today’s.
Christopher Nolan closes that distance
cinematically with visual sweep and
emotional intimacy, with images of warfare and huddled, frightened survivors
that together with Hans Zimmer’s score
reverberate through your body.”
What’s Fact and What’s Fiction in
‘Dunkirk’? [Slate]
“Why the obsession with airplane
fuel?” “What was the deal with the
French being denied places on the boats
and ships?”
And, of course, “‘Where the hell were
you?’” The history professor John
Broich answers all these questions and
more in this thorough explainer on the
real story behind Christopher Nolan’s
World War II epic.
Review: In ‘The Post,’ Democracy Survives the Darkness [The New York
“There’s more than a little corn and
wishful thinking in the high-minded moments in “The Post”; movies like either
to glorify or demonize journalists, relying on heroes and villains,” writes
Manohla Dargis in her review. “Yet given the recent assaults on journalism and
the truth, this heroizing is also irresistible. And Steven Spielberg, a shrewd entertainer who can be waylaid by moralism, rarely lets virtue drag this movie
Review: On Violence and the Pain of Others in ‘Three Billboards’ [The New York
“ ‘Three Billboards” is more ambitious than Martin McDonagh’s earlier
features,” writes Manohla Dargis in her
review. “Like the older ones, it has loads
of gab, plenty of guns and the spectacle
of men (mainly) behaving terribly. It
also restlessly, if not satisfyingly, shifts
between comedy and tragedy — a McDonagh specialty — splattering blood
along the way.”
Does ‘Three Billboards’ Say Anything
About America? Well . . . [The New York
Wesley Morris places “Three Billboards” in a category of movies that includes “Crash” from 2005: “In its own
accidental way, it does seem to be saying
something about, you know, now,” he
writes. Cycling through the issues of the
day, he adds, “It’s one of those movies
that really do think they’re saying something profound about human nature and
injustice.” And yet, for Morris, the film is
“so off about so many things” — a “misfire” that “fails to sufficiently poeticize
or dramatize” the injustices that it, like
its admirers, believes it is aware of.
Caleb Landry Jones: Working With
Frances McDormand Terrified Me [The
Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell
and Woody Harrelson all earned Oscar
nominations for their stellar work in
“Three Billboards.” Caleb Landry Jones
played a smaller role in the film, but his
additional performances in “Twin
Peaks: The Return,” “The Florida
Project” and “Get Out” helped to make
him one of 2017’s most promising breakout actors. Get to know him in this lively
interview with Jonathan Romney.
Review: ‘Darkest Hour,’ or the Great
Man Theory of History (and Acting)
[The New York Times]
“ ‘Darkest Hour” is proud of its hero,
proud of itself and proud to have come
down on the right side of history nearly
80 years after the fact,” writes A. O. Scott
in his review. “It wants you to share that
pride, and to claim a share of it. But we
have nothing to be proud of.”
Blood, Sweat, Toil and Tears: Playing
Churchill on Screen [The New York
What did Gary Oldman learn while
preparing for his Golden Globe-winning, Oscar-nominated performance as
Winston Churchill? “I discovered a man
who was not as fat as we all thought he
was in 1940 and who had really an athletic tread,” he tells The Times’s Julie
Bloom. “He skipped around and he had
this sort of stoop and it was forward
moving.” He adds: “There’s a real twinkle in the eye, and he has humor. The
Churchill I saw and I discovered had
The True Story Behind the Winston
Churchill Biopic ‘Darkest Hour’ [Time]
Why might the filmmaker have chosen to focus on just a few months of
Churchill’s lengthy career, May and
June of 1940? “It’s the most important
moment in Churchill’s life and career
and the most important historical turning point of the 20th century,” Michael
Bishop, the executive director of the International Churchill Society, tells
Time’s Olivia B. Waxman. “It was really
the moment when Hitler could have won
the war.”
Writing their way into a diverse Oscars
The original screenplay
nominees are a very
inclusive group this year
Emily V. Gordon and
Kumail Nanjiani
have been nominated for their
love story, “The Big
When the #OscarsSoWhite controversy
first erupted in 2015, the protest focused
on a lack of diversity among the acting
nominees, but it also reflected concern
about the broader lack of representation
across the film industry. April Reign,
who coined the hashtag, recently told
The Los Angeles Times, “Everyone
should have the opportunity to tell their
story.” As it turns out, in the categories
that are most focused on telling stories
— best original screenplay and adapted
screenplay — those opportunities may
be steadily growing, if this year’s Oscar
nominations are any indication.
The original screenplay nominees are
the most diverse in the award’s history.
The category has long been the bastion
of non-Latino white men — there were
31 years in which not a single person
outside that demographic was nominated for original screenplay, including
last year. But this year is quite the opposite.
Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani
are nominated for their autobiographical love story, “The Big Sick.” Jordan
Peele scored a nomination for his brilliant social commentary disguised as a
horror film, “Get Out.” Greta Gerwig
joins the list for her Sacramento comingof-age script, “Lady Bird.” Guillermo del
Toro and Vanessa Taylor authored “The
Shape of Water,” a fish tale of defiance
and love.
In total, 86 percent of this season’s
nominated writers for original stories
fall outside the traditional Oscar demographic of non-Latino white men. (Martin McDonagh, who wrote “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” is the
only exception.) There have been 195
Oscar contests for writing (including
discontinued categories like best title
writing, a relic of the silent era, and best
story), but there was only one other
time when a writing category’s diversity
percentage exceeded 50 percent. That
was just last year, when best adapted
screenplay reached 57 percent.
The current Academy Awards also
Winners Frances Marion, above left, was the first person — male or female — to win multiple writing Oscars, in 1930 and 1931. At right, Callie Khouri won for “Thelma and Louise.”
tied the record for the most diverse set
of screenplay nominees across both
writing categories combined. With Dee
Rees and Virgil Williams nominated for
“Mudbound” in the adapted category,
this year’s total comes out to an even 50
percent, matching the mark set in 1992.
Appropriately, that was the year Callie
Khouri won best original screenplay for
her iconic feminist anthem, “Thelma
and Louise.”
By comparison, only 12 percent of the
1,504 writing nominations in history
went to scribes outside the academy’s
majority demographic. But that figure
has hardly been constant over time.
In the early days, there was actually a
fair amount of diversity. In a field dominated by male authors, some significant
female pioneers include the four-time
nominee Frances Goodrich (“The Thin
Man,” 1934; “After the Thin Man,” 1936;
“Father of the Bride,” 1950; and “Seven
Brides for Seven Brothers,” 1954) and
the three-time nominee Claudine West
(“Goodbye Mr. Chips,” 1939; “Random
Harvest,” 1942; and “Mrs. Miniver,”
1942, for which she won). Most notable
of all, Frances Marion was the first person — male or female — to win multiple
writing Oscars, with trophies for “The
Big House” (1930) and “The Champ”
(1931), following a prolific career during
the pre-Oscars era of silent film.
Over all, in the first decade of the Oscars, 13 percent of writing nominations
went to women, a level that wouldn’t be
reached again until the 1980s. It’s important to note that this early diversity was
entirely because of the presence of
women and did not extend to minority
screenwriters. Incredibly, the academy
did not nominate a single nonwhite writer until 1973, when Suzanne de Passe
(“Lady Sings the Blues”) and Lonne
Elder III (“Sounder”) simultaneously
broke that barrier.
The overall level of diversity reached
a low point from 1957 to 1969, when just
eight of the 228 writing nominations
went to women, and none to minorities.
None of those eight women won the Oscar. From that point, the trend has
slowly reversed, Since 2011, 24 percent
of writing nominations have gone to
women or minorities; that figure never
topped 19 percent in any previous decade.
This data set can’t determine whether
the rising diversity is because of changing hiring practices in Hollywood or
whether the academy has gotten better
at nominating people of all backgrounds, or perhaps some of both. What
we can test numerically is how the academy compares with its peer organizations.
The two most notable screenplay
awards outside the Oscars — as well as
two of the best predictors of the screenplay categories — are handed out by the
British Academy of Film and Television
Arts and the Writers Guild of America.
By 1985, they had both switched over to
the modern format — two screenplay
categories, one for original and one for
adapted — so we’ll use data since then to
compare all three organizations.
The result: all three are nearly tied:
The Oscars and WGAs have nominated
about 1.5 percent more diverse screenwriters than the Baftas. The American
academy can claim the lead on rewarding these storytellers: 19 Oscar winners
With just one non-Latino white man nominated,
this year’s original screenplay contest is reminiscent
of the award’s early-20th-century history.
since then have come from outside the
group of non-Latino white men, compared with only 13 at the WGAs and nine
at the Baftas.
Winning, it turns out, is the one area in
which the screenplay Oscars do not currently involve a demographic disparity.
Since the Oscars shifted to original and
adapted screenplay categories, white
men and everyone else win 17 percent of
their nominations on average.
So, while the data suggests a historical lack of opportunity for female and
minority screenwriters to get invited to
the Oscars, we can take heart in a couple
findings: First, if a writer does get nominated, regardless of background, he or
she has the same chance at winning as
every other competitor. And second, the
number of people who have the opportunity to tell their stories appears to be
trending up.
© Didier Gourdon
14 | SATURDAY-SUNDAY, MARCH 3- 4, 2018
Paychecks are bigger, but not by much
Eduardo Porter
How low must unemployment go for
American workers to get a raise?
A couple of decades ago in the
United States, it was normal for workers to get regular pay increases. After
declining mercilessly since the early
1970s, the hourly pay of private-sector
production and nonsupervisory workers — nurses, cashiers, manufacturing
workers on the shop floor and such —
hit bottom in 1995 and rose by more
than a tenth in real terms over the next
eight years.
Wages improved up and down the
scale as the economy hit full employment. The hourly wage of workers at
the bottom tenth of the income distribution rose 11 percent from 1995 to
2000, according to the Economic Policy
Institute. It rose almost 8 percent for
workers in the middle.
Raises are again in the cards. After a
long stretch of headlines about stubbornly low wage growth, pay has
perked up as the unemployment rate
has dipped to levels not seen since the
dot-com boom. The median weekly
earnings of full-time workers in the
middle of the pay ladder ended last
year up 4.5 percent from their nadir in
the spring of 2014, after accounting for
inflation. The retailers Target and
Walmart have granted their workers
It is high time: Median weekly earnings are only 3 percent higher in real
terms than at the millennium. And yet
for all the enthusiasm over the economy’s return to full employment, the
pay increases of the halcyon 1990s are
probably not coming back anytime
soon. For one thing, the economic pie
is growing more slowly — held in
check by lackluster investment,
stunted business dynamism and low
productivity growth.
What’s more, changes in the American economy that stretch back decades
— including globalization, automation,
the outsourcing of low-paid work and
the rise of dominant companies —
have deprived workers of leverage.
Construction at Salt Lake City International Airport. Labor markets are said to have been slack 70 percent of the time since 1980 — meaning workers, not employers, have to scramble.
This suggests a double challenge for
the nation’s workers. For starters, the
American economy needs to recover
some of its lost dynamism. For workers to reap a larger share of the spoils
of growth, they must claw back the
bargaining power they lost. While the
goal doesn’t seem impossible, it requires pushing back against a view
that has dominated economic policy
over the last half century: that government should not stand in the way of
corporate America’s forward march,
and definitely not mess with its efforts
to lower labor costs.
On Tuesday, the Hamilton Project at
the Brookings Institution released a
Superrich lawmakers
in China get wealthier
New rankings calculate
net worth at $650 billion
for 153 top Communists
In a country where the Communist
Party makes all the big decisions, Chinese lawmakers hold very little political
power. But they have plenty of money —
$650 billion and counting.
According to the Hurun Report, a research organization in Shanghai that
tracks the wealthy in China, the net
worth of the 153 members of China’s Parliament and its advisory body that it
deems superrich amounts to $650 billion, up nearly a third from a year ago.
That is just a touch below Switzerland’s
annual economic output.
While President Xi Jinping has
pledged to close the income gap and alleviate poverty, the wealth of the nation’s lawmakers has kept soaring. In
2017, it topped $500 billion, more than
doubling from the year before. The
surge in wealth reflects the strength of
the Chinese economy, and of stock markets all over the world.
Delegates to the Parliament, the National People’s Congress, rubber-stamp
most of the policies set out by the party’s
leadership. When they meet in Beijing in
the coming week, they are expected to
approve Mr. Xi’s plan to scrap presidential term limits, which would allow him
to rule indefinitely. But along with its official functions, the gathering provides
businesspeople with an opportunity to
hobnob with one another. The title of delegate also gives them extra cachet in
making business deals.
The number of billionaires in China’s
Legislature could contribute to the perception that the government is out of
touch in a country where disposable income per capita was just over $4,000 in
2017. But many Chinese are proud of
how quickly the ranks are growing.
China added 210 billionaires over the
past year — about four a week — 40 percent more than the United States, according to a separate list of the global
rich by Hurun.
The wealthiest lawmaker is also China’s richest person, Pony Ma, whose net
worth is $47 billion. He is the founder of
Tencent, which owns WeChat, a social
media mobile app that is indispensable
in Chinese life. Tencent is now valued at
$540 billion, more than Facebook.
Mr. Ma was trailed by Xu Jiayin, the
chairman of the Evergrande Group, a
property developer, whose net worth is
$41 billion. Mr. Xu was China’s richest
person in 2017, according to Hurun.
Other Chinese property developers
also dominated the list. Lee Ka-kit, the
vice chairman of Henderson Land Development, is worth $34 billion, while
the net worth of the Country Garden
Group’s founder, Yang Guoqiang,
reached $32 billion.
A luxury store in Beijing. China added
210 billionaires over the past year.
The fortunes of China’s entrepreneurs
have changed significantly since the
Communist Party, which was founded to
work for the interests of workers and
stamp out capitalism, welcomed businesspeople into the party more than a
decade ago. About 20 percent of the
nearly 3,000 delegates to Parliament are
businesspeople, according to the government news media.
Victor Shih, an associate professor at
the University of California, San Diego,
and an expert on money and politics in
China, said that being a member of the
National People’s Congress “affords a
“If you’re part of the N.P.C., you become a state cadre, and so the local police can’t arrest you easily without
cause,” he said, referring to the congress. “That’s not the case for a wealthy
person who has no affiliation with the
Chinese government, and wealth becomes very vulnerable to predatory action by a local government.”
Zhang Tiantian contributed research.
series of studies by some of the nation’s top economic thinkers on policies
to revitalize wage growth. The good
news is that plausible reforms could
start tipping the labor market to benefit workers. But bringing the labor
market back into balance will require a
lot of them.
Jared Bernstein of the Center on
Budget and Policy Priorities suggests
that to begin with, policymakers could
do more to keep labor markets tight.
He argues that the Federal Reserve
has worried too much about inflation
and not enough about the lid it puts on
workers’ well-being when it raises
interest rates to slow growth.
Since 1980, he estimates, the job
market has suffered from slack 70
percent of the time — periods when
workers, rather than employers, are
scrambling. That compares with only a
third of the time from 1949 to 1980. To
keep it closer to full employment, he
proposes a set of policies, including
raising the Fed’s inflation target from
its current 2 percent, creating a fund to
bolster job creation in moments of
slack and engaging the government in
job creation.
And yet, as Mr. Bernstein acknowledges, tight labor markets are only
part of the solution. For starters, they
eventually end when the cycle turns —
and wages can get stuck for a long
time. And tight labor markets don’t
carry the power they used to.
A 1999 study by the economists
Lawrence Katz of Harvard University
and Alan B. Krueger of Princeton
University estimated how far the unemployment rate needed to decline to
prevent wages from falling. From the
mid-1970s to the late ’80s, they found,
an unemployment rate of 6.2 percent
or lower would keep wages at the
bottom tenth of the pay scale from
declining. By the 1990s, however, unemployment had to dip to 5.7 percent
to prevent wage losses at the bottom.
Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy
Institute replicated the exercise for the
economic expansion that ended with
the demise of the housing bubble in
2007: Unemployment, he found, had to
fall below 4.6 percent to keep workers
in the bottom 10 percent from losing
At this pace, unemployment will
soon have to hit zero for workers at the
bottom to get a raise.
So what else can be done? There is
obviously a role for training and education to help workers meet employers’
rising demand for skills, especially at
the beginning of their career. Fatih
Guvenen of the University of Minnesota notes that the income of 25-yearold men starting their careers has
declined sharply since the early 1970s
and is now about where it was in the
late ’50s.
But a strategy focused on education
will not tip the balance. As Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute
points out, the list of remedies is long.
It includes raising the minimum wage,
increasing unionization, banning mandatory arbitration for employment
claims, ending arbitrary and unpredictable scheduling, and ensuring that
companies that subcontract their
low-wage work remain in some way
accountable for the workers.
Or how about restoring competition
to labor markets? Mr. Krueger and
Eric Posner of the University of Chicago write that the government could
stop companies from forcing low-pay
workers to sign noncompete covenants, which bar them from betterpaid jobs elsewhere. It should also ban
no-poaching arrangements of dubious
legality among franchisees of the same
Over the last 50 years, employers
have been allowed to exercise ever
more sway over their workers. The
share of private-sector workers covered by unions has dwindled to a sliver.
Businesses have grown to imposing
heft. All along, executives and policymakers have sold this rebalancing of
power as a boon for competitiveness,
efficiency and economic growth.
And yet unbalanced labor markets
not only hold back wages but also
stymie the American economy as a
whole. As Mr. Krueger pointed out to
me, a rigged labor market is not efficient. Barring anticompetitive hiring
practices will increase economic efficiency and encourage higher wages
and more employment.
Rebalancing the labor relationship
might not only improve the way the pie
is shared but also make it bigger.
Facebook erratic in seeing the erotic
Small advertisers cite bias
by gender when images
are rejected as too racy
When Krista Venero, an author who
writes under the pen name K. L. Montgomery, bought ads on Facebook for a
romance novel she published last year,
she thought her marketing fell well
within the bounds of the social network’s policies.
The ad showed an image of a woman
photographed from behind with a portion of her upper back exposed. It didn’t
seem particularly racy, certainly no
more than an ad for Olay body wash,
showing a woman’s bare back and legs,
that Ms. Venero had recently seen.
Facebook rejected her ad, however,
and when she disputed the decision, a
representative told her that it implied
nudity and that the company did not allow ads “with a sexual undertone.”
Facebook now says it incorrectly rejected Ms. Venero’s ad, but the back and
forth is an example of the social network’s struggles over images of the human body. More precisely, as Facebook
processes millions of ads a week
through a mix of automation and human
review, the question is what is acceptable and what isn’t, and who is making
those decisions.
Ms. Venero now tends to make her
ads “extremely conservative, she said.
“They usually just have a man and woman’s face on them,” she added. “I do have
one that has a man’s chest, and I’ve
never had any problems with it. But a
woman’s shoulder — we have a problem.”
Ms. Venero is not the only one to complain that Facebook is inconsistent
when deciding which images are sexually suggestive, particularly pictures of
women. The company has flagged a
photo of a woman in a T-shirt reading in
dim lighting, for example, while allowing a provocative image of a man’s bare
stomach for an ad from a Facebook
group dedicated to “steamy romance
novels” called Beyond 50 Shades. That
image, in which the man had his thumb
on the inside of his pants, was incorrectly approved, a Facebook spokeswoman recently said.
April Ray, who helps run a book blog,
Reading After Dark, was alarmed late
last year when a photo of her was
flagged as adult content. Ms. Ray was
using the picture, which showed her
April Ray said Facebook flagged this image of her as “adult content” until she appealed.
reading in a dark room in a black T-shirt,
as part of a promotion for the blog’s
Facebook page.
“It definitely stung a little because it
was my profile picture and I’ve had it for
three years now, and it’s just my face —
I’m wearing a regular T-shirt that I think
I got at the Gap,” Ms. Ray said. She said
it had taken several days for her appeal
to reach a person at Facebook. The
photo was then approved, but it was too
late for a contest her blog was running.
Facebook’s ad practices have long
been scrutinized, even more so after 13
Russians were indicted in February on
charges that they tried to disrupt the
2016 presidential election by, among
other things, distributing divisive ads
through the social network. But the disputes raised by Ms. Venero and Ms. Ray
are indicative of questions raised by
smaller advertisers, who rely on Facebook to market their work but often
have to navigate the appeals process
Facebook prohibits adult content in
ads, including “depictions of people in
explicit or suggestive positions” and
“activities that are overly suggestive or
sexually provocative.” The rules also extend to “implied nudity,” “excessive visible skin” and images that are too focused on individual body parts “even if
not explicitly sexual in nature.” On Facebook’s website, all of the examples
showed women.
“Facebook’s policies have the effect of
sexualizing women’s bodies in a way
that is not necessary and very unhealthy for society,” said Jillian York, the
director for international freedom of ex-
pression at the Electronic Frontier
Foundation, which advocates digital privacy protections. She added that while
the company allowed topless men, it
took a strict approach to nudity of a female torso.
Joel Jones, Facebook’s vice president
for global marketing solutions operations, said that the company tended to
be “conservative” when monitoring ads
that people might find offensive but that
its enforcement of adult content did not
distinguish between men and women.
Human reviewers are trained with examples that feature both men and women, Mr. Jones said, and he noted that
more women appeared in ads — almost
twice as often as men in a sampling during the previous 30 days.
For advertisers, debating what constitutes “adult content” with those human reviewers can be frustrating.
Goodbye Bread, an edgy online retailer
for young women, said it had a heated
debate with Facebook in December over
the image of a young woman modeling a
leopard-print mesh shirt. Facebook said
the picture was too suggestive.
George Stamelos, a co-founder of
Goodbye Bread, said fashion brands
regularly dealt with mixed messages
from Facebook on skin and suggestiveness in ads but could often successfully
appeal to human moderators. He also
said Facebook’s policies were unfairly
applied to women.
“I get bombarded with stupid ads for
swimwear and stuff like that — every
guy is topless with a six pack, and they
don’t have a problem with that,” Mr.
Stamelos said. “During the summer, we
couldn’t advertise our swimwear collection on Facebook because we kept
getting rejected for excessive skin.”
It’s sticky territory for a company of
Facebook’s size, particularly when there
is intense scrutiny on gender inequality.
It also raises questions about who, at a
company where just 35 percent of the
employees are women, is deciding
what’s suggestive.
Facebook declined to give rough estimates of how many people work on reviewing and approving ads or say where
they are. In October, the company announced it was hiring 1,000 additional
people to review ads after congressional
hearings that examined the role Facebook played in helping spread disinformation during the 2016 election, including the impact of Russian political ads
purchased on Facebook.
Mr. Jones of Facebook said the company set higher standards for ads than
for regular posts from users because
ads were “proactively pushed out to
people.” He said Facebook was “focused
on improving our review protocols and
automated systems.”
Facebook, which counts more than
two billion users worldwide, has frequently been accused of taking a conservative, and at times haphazard, approach to what types of nudity it finds
In 2008, women began noticing that
their photos of breast-feeding were being removed from personal posts as well
as from private groups where women
shared advice and tips on how to nurse
their babies. Critics of Facebook have
since argued that its policies against
showing female nipples harm health initiatives that encourage breast-feeding.
In 2016, the company was criticized
for censoring a Pulitzer Prize-winning
photograph of a young girl running naked after a napalm attack during the
Vietnam War. Facebook rescinded its
decision, saying, “In this case, we recognize the history and global importance
of this image.”
Mr. Stamelos said he hoped Facebook
would reconsider how it applied its policies to women and men, adding that he
had seen the company take a harder line
on its appeals recently. “This is extremely problematic, especially considering the magnitude of Facebook’s
reach,” he said.
Ms. Venero, the author, never got a response from Facebook about why her ad
was rejected and the body wash ad was
approved, she said. A Facebook spokeswoman said the company could not ask
an automated system about those decisions.
Signs hint at more Trump tumult
and the author of “Power: Why Some
People Have It — and Others Don’t.”
“The most important thing you need
as a chief executive is the ability to hire
and retain talent,” Mr. Pfeffer said.
“Trump said he’d get all these great people to work for him. But the rate of departures is unprecedented. Either he
hired badly, or he hired well but couldn’t
retain them. Either way, this reflects
badly on his leadership.”
As Jeffrey T. Polzer, professor of human resource management at Harvard
Business School, told me last year, the
time-tested approach is “to surround
yourself with talented people who have
the most expertise, who bring different
perspectives to the issue at hand.”
“Then you foster debate and invite
different points of view in order to reach
a high-quality solution,” Mr. Polzer said.
He added that it “requires an openness to being challenged and some selfawareness and even humility to acknowledge that there are areas where
other people know more than you do.”
Mr. Trump does appear to solicit and
consider the opinions of others, but they
are as likely to be random guests at Mara-Lago, or television pundits, as they
are experts in the field, or even his own
“The lack of attention to data drives
me nuts,” Mr. Pfeffer said. Mr. Trump, he
said, “seems to have no interest in science, social science or data,” citing
White House initiatives to repeal Obamacare and to rescue the coal industry
as glaring examples.
Others pointed to his threats to pull
out of the North American Free Trade
Agreement with little understanding of
the consequences for American businesses and farmers, and his decision to
abandon the Paris climate accord despite scant familiarity with the science
of climate change.
“Nothing about the chaos and turnover in the White House surprises me,”
said Charles M. Elson, a professor and
director of the John L. Weinberg Center
for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware.
“He hasn’t changed in 30 years,” Mr.
Elson added. “He isn’t bound by any traditional norms of management.”
Yet despite the well-documented disarray prevailing in the West Wing, Mr.
Trump’s first year has yielded some major accomplishments: business-friendly
tax legislation, the appointment of a reliably conservative Supreme Court justice in Neil Gorsuch, the selection of Jerome Powell as chairman of the Federal
Reserve and the dismantling of a regulatory system viewed as overly burdensome by the business community.
“You have to hand it to him: He has
pulled some rabbits out of his hat,” Mr.
Elson said. “Hardly anyone thought he
could pull off tax legislation after so
many other people had tried and failed.”
But Mr. Pfeffer said those achievements had occurred despite the chaos,
not because of it.
For every success, Mr. Trump has had
notable failures, starting with overhauling immigration policy and repealing
“I’ve long felt that if Trump didn’t do
well, it would be because of organizational issues,” Mr. Pfeffer said. “Even
with Republicans in control of both
houses of Congress, he hasn’t been able
to pass much. That speaks to chaos in
the policy sphere.”
Mr. Elson said Mr. Trump acted more
like the typical entrepreneur than an experienced manager. “A problem with entrepreneurs is that people get tired of it
and they move on,” he said. “People just
“He hasn’t changed
in 30 years. He isn’t
bound by any traditional
norms of management.”
get worn out. At some point you need a
real manager. A lot of entrepreneurs sell
their businesses when they reach a certain size and they realize they can’t manage them.”
Would naming Mr. Cohn as chief of
staff ameliorate the problem? Despite
disenchantment with Mr. Kelly and his
handling of the Porter situation, no one I
interviewed thinks Mr. Cohn could fundamentally change the dynamic in the
Trump White House any more than Mr.
Kelly has.
Mr. Cohn is now basking in the afterglow of the tax legislation, which seems
to be growing in popularity with the public. His supporters point to the first-rate
team he assembled at the National Economic Council as evidence that he —
perhaps alone among top White House
officials — could attract and retain talent. He enjoys good relations with Congress.
But if Mr. Cohn became Mr. Trump’s
chief of staff, he would have to sublimate
his own beliefs to the president’s
agenda. As one former White House official told me, “He can’t pull another Charlottesville,” referring to Mr. Cohn’s efforts last summer to publicly distance
himself from the president’s racially
charged comments while still working
for him.
Thanks to that incident, Mr. Cohn has
already fallen from favor once, and his
current rehabilitation may not last. People like Mr. Trump “have friends for a
day,” Mr. Elson said. “That’s another
quality of the entrepreneur. Like it or
not, it’s part of what makes them successful.”
While Mr. Cohn has influential supporters at the White House, talk of his
possible elevation has prompted plenty
of opposition, too, especially from representatives of Mr. Trump’s populist base.
Mr. Cohn is, after all, a longtime Manhattan Democrat.
A White House spokesman declined
to comment on behalf of Mr. Cohn.
In any event, Mr. Trump may be oblivious to the staff turnover and widespread vacancies in the executive
branch, and indifferent to calls to replace Mr. Kelly.
“I don’t think Trump thinks much
about management philosophy,” Mr. Pfeffer said. “He ran for president as a
lark, and look at him now. For him it’s all
The hidden taxes on women
Economic View
The working world is unfair to many
women, yet even when they succeed,
they must confront another series of
challenges. Their hard-won success is
taxed in ways that men’s is not.
The taxes I’m talking about aren’t
paid in dollars and cents or imposed by
the government. They take the form of
annoyance and misery and are levied
by individuals, very often by loved
ones. I call these impositions taxes
because they take away some of what
an individual earns, diminishing the
joys of success.
A recent Swedish study of gender
differences in the implications of victory for political candidates calls attention to this unfairness. While winning
is the ultimate professional milestone
for candidates, a source of elation and
pride, for women it is often spoiled,
according to the study by Olle Folke, a
political scientist at Uppsala University, and Johanna Rickne, an economist
at Stockholm University.
Winning an election increases subsequent divorce rates for female candidates but not for men. (This paper, like
most of the social science literature,
focuses on female-male partners.) The
study examined elections with very
narrow margins of victories, in which
winning was largely a matter of luck.
These “lucky” winners also experienced higher divorce rates.
Corporate success has similar consequences: Women who become chief
executives divorce at higher rates than
Another study found that the same
is true in Hollywood: Winning the best
actress Oscar portends a divorce, while
winning the best actor award does not.
Of course, the divorce itself may be a
preferred outcome, one that is better
than enduring a poisonous relationship. Even then, I’d argue that the tax
was exacted in the emotional toll and
the time lost in a failed marriage.
Men react particularly negatively to
their spouses’ relative success. Marianne Bertrand and Emir Kamenica,
economists at the University of Chicago, and Jessica Pan, an economist at
the National University of Singapore,
examined the wages
of spouses. Because
women generally
success has
earn less in the work
a price:
force, they generally
Women who
earn less than their
become chief
husbands, too.
What is more
surprising in the
divorce at
data is that it is far
higher rates
more common for
than others.
the husband to earn
just a tiny bit more
than the wife than the other way
around. The fact that women on average earn less does not account for such
a sharp asymmetry.
In fact, the researchers find several
forces that ensure men earn at least a
little bit more than their wives.
We can measure the earning potential of both husband and wife — based,
for example, on their occupation and
education. In the typical household,
higher earnings potential means a
higher chance of working.
Perversely, though, this correlation
no longer holds when the wife’s earning potential is larger than her husband’s. For example, when wives are
in higher-paying professions, they are
less likely to work.
We no longer live in a society where
men are the sole breadwinners. But we
do apparently live in one where the
man should win more bread.
When that principle is violated —
and the wife earns more than the
husband — she is taxed in a variety of
ways. She spends more time on household chores, and, to add insult to injury,
she is more likely to end up divorced.
The authors point out: “Women are
bringing personal glass ceilings from
home to the workplace.” To place the
agency for the problem where it belongs, I would also say: “Spouses at
home help install the glass ceiling at
Even powerful, successful women
must navigate such challenges at
home. Indra Nooyi, chief executive of
Pepsi, said in a recent podcast, “From
my perspective, my mom says, ‘Leave
the crown in the garage.’ ” Ms. Nooyi,
who said she had been married for
decades, added, “I don’t think I could
have balanced all of this had I brought
my crown into the house every day.”
She continued: ”And would I have
liked to have brought it in? No, not at
the expense of my marriage and my
The taxes imposed in marriage are
foreshadowed in the dating world. One
study found that men are less likely to
want a date with a woman who is more
intelligent or ambitious than they are.
In contrast, women penalize neither
intelligence nor ambition in a man.
Women know, or at least intuit, that
such taxes exist. That emerges from a
recent paper by Leonardo Bursztyn, an
economist at the University of Chicago; Thomas Fujiwara, an economist
at Princeton; and Amanda Pallais, an
economist at Harvard. They studied
M.B.A. students who were asked by a
career counselor about future job
preferences. These answers would be
used to help place them in jobs. For
some students, the answers were
private, while others were discussed in
a class with their peers.
For men and women who were
already in relationships, the distinction
did not matter: They reported the
same job preferences whether or not
they were private.
Not so for single women: When they
thought their peers (and presumably
potential mates) would see the answers, they said they wanted a job
with fewer hours and a smaller salary.
They also said they wanted less of a
leadership role and had smaller professional ambitions than women who
were able to answer privately. These
women most likely feared that ambition, willingness to work hard and the
desire to earn a lot would make them
less appealing as mates, if these preferences were openly expressed.
What should we make of all of these
findings? My initial reaction was dismay at the widespread existence of
such sexism among other men. With
time, though, I realized my mistake: I
was focusing on other men when I am
surely just as complicit. If the average
man is sexist in these ways, the odds
are that I am, too.
In day-to-day life, I may not realize
that I’m contributing to these problems, but neither, probably, do other
men. So fixing these problems is my
responsibility — and the responsibility
of other men, too. We can help through
introspection, by asking questions of
those closest to us and by listening to
the painful answers.
Old habits die hard, but these are
surely worth killing.
Tax policy can be hard to change in
Washington. But in this case, we men
individually impose these taxes — and
each of us can eliminate them.
Sendhil Mullainathan is a professor of
economics at Harvard.
Management theory
is creating dysfunction
Unorthodox Trump style
leaves policy in confusion
and staff morale shattered
For 13 months in the Oval Office, and in
an unorthodox business career before
that, Donald J. Trump has thrived on
chaos, using it as an organizing principle and even a management tool. Now
the costs of that chaos are becoming
starkly clear in the demoralized staff
and policy disarray of a wayward White
The dysfunction was on vivid display
in the past week in the president’s introduction of tariffs on steel and aluminum
imports. The previous day, Mr. Trump’s
chief economic adviser, Gary D. Cohn,
had warned the chief of staff, John F.
Kelly, that he might resign if the president went ahead with the plan, according to people briefed on the discussion.
Mr. Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs president, had lobbied fiercely against the
His threat to leave came during a tumultuous week in which Mr. Trump suffered the departure of his closest aide,
Hope Hicks, and the effective demotion
of his senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was stripped of his topsecret security clearance. Mr. Trump
was also forced to deny, through an aide,
that he was about to fire his national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster.
Mr. Kelly summed up the prevailing
mood in the West Wing. “God punished
me,” he joked of his move from the Department of Homeland Security to the
White House during a discussion to
mark the department’s 15th anniversary.
When White House aides arrived at
work on Thursday, they had no clear
idea of what Mr. Trump would say about
trade. He had summoned steel and aluminum executives to a meeting, but
when the White House said only that he
would listen to their concerns, it seemed
to signal that Mr. Cohn had held off the
Yet at the end of a photo session, when
a reporter asked Mr. Trump about the
measures, he confirmed that the United
States would announce next week that it
is imposing long-term tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum. The White House has not even
completed a legal review of the measures.
Mr. Trump’s off-the-cuff opening of a
trade war rattled the stock market, enraged Republicans and left Mr. Cohn’s
future in doubt. Mr. Cohn, who almost
left last year after Mr. Trump’s response
to a white nationalist march in Charlottesville, Va., indicated he was waiting
to see whether Mr. Trump goes through
with the tariffs, people familiar with his
thinking said.
The chaotic rollout also reflected the
departure of another White House official, Rob Porter, who as the staff secretary had a key role in keeping the paper
flowing in the West Wing and who had
backed Mr. Cohn in his free-trade views.
Mr. Porter was forced out last month after facing accusations of spousal abuse.
It was the second day in a row that Mr.
Trump blindsided Republicans and his
own aides. On Wednesday, in a televised
session at the White House, he embraced the stricter gun control measures backed by Democrats and urged
lawmakers to revive gun-safety regulations that are opposed by the National
Rifle Association and most of his party.
“I always said that it was going to take
awhile for Donald Trump to adjust as
president,” said Christopher Ruddy, the
chief executive of Newsmax Media and
an old friend of the president’s. In business, he said, Mr. Trump relied on a
small circle of colleagues and a management style that amounted to “trial and
error — the strongest survived, the
weak died.”
Mr. Trump is isolated and angry, as
well, according to other friends and
aides, as he carries on a bitter feud with
his attorney general and watches members of his family clash with a chief of
staff he recruited to restore a semblance
of order — all against the darkening
shadow of an investigation of his ties to
The combined effect is taking a toll.
Mr. Trump’s instinct during these moments is to return to the populist themes
that carried him to the White House,
which is why his trade announcement is
hardly surprising. Mr. Trump has few
fixed views on any issue, but he has
been consistent on his antipathy for free
trade since the 1980s, when he took out
newspaper ads warning about American deficits with Japan — a concern that
has shifted to China in recent years.
But a president who has long tried to
impose his version of reality on the
world is finding the limits of that strategy. Without Mr. Porter playing a stopgap role on trade, the debate has been
marked by a lack of focus on policy and
planning, according to several aides.
Morale in the West Wing has sunk to a
new low, these people said. In private
conversations, Mr. Trump lashes out
regularly at Attorney General Jeff Sessions with a vitriol that stuns members
of his staff. Some longtime advisers said
that Mr. Trump regards Mr. Sessions’s
decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation as the “original sin,”
which the president thinks has left him
Gary D. Cohn, the president’s top economic adviser, has threatened to quit.
Mr. Trump’s children, meanwhile,
have grown exasperated with Mr. Kelly,
seeing him as a hurdle to their father’s
success and as antagonistic to their continued presence, according to several
people familiar with their thinking. Anthony Scaramucci, an ally of some in the
Trump family, whom Mr. Kelly fired as
communications director after only 11
days, intensified his criticism of the
chief of staff in a series of news interviews on Wednesday and Thursday.
Yet Mr. Trump is also frustrated with
Mr. Kushner, whom he now views as a
liability because of his legal entanglements, the investigations of the Kushner
family’s real estate company and the
publicity over having his security clearance downgraded, according to two people familiar with his views.
Privately, some aides have expressed
frustration that Mr. Kushner and his
wife, the president’s daughter Ivanka
Trump, have remained at the White
House, despite Mr. Trump’s saying at
times that they never should have come
to the White House and should leave.
Yet aides also noted that Mr. Trump had
told the couple that they should keep
serving in their roles, even as he privately asked Mr. Kelly for help in moving them out.
Mark Landler reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New
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Left, Storm Reid,
the star of “A
Wrinkle in Time.”
Above, Ava DuVernay, who directed
the film.
A whole lot
is riding on a
new ‘Wrinkle’
Ava DuVernay puts
her directorial stamp on a
classic science-fiction novel
“This is the house that ‘Wrinkle’ built,”
the filmmaker Ava DuVernay said, giving a tour of a three-building complex —
a large office around a bright courtyard,
a two-story production facility, and a
light-filled event space — in a former
paint factory here. It had been hers for
about 24 hours, and already she had big
plans for the décor. “We’re going to
black woman-ify it,” she said.
Ms. DuVernay had just put the finishing touches on the Disney movie that
paid for it, “A Wrinkle in Time,” her adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962
young adult sci-fi classic. It, too, had
been black woman-ified.
Her choices — in casting, tone and vision — have been as groundbreaking as
the fact that she directed it in the first
place, the first woman of color at the
helm of a $100 million studio tentpole. To
hear her tell it, though, that milestone
meant less to her than the opportunity
to plant seeds, as she called it: cultivating, as she always has, a new way of
looking at the world. She set out to “feminize” the movie, about a headstrong
middle schooler — in this case, a biracial
girl — who searches for her missing scientist father and saves the universe
from encroaching evil.
“When you say ‘feminizing,’ people
think of softness in certain places, but I
think of strength in other places,” where
it’s normally overlooked, Ms. DuVernay,
45, said.
Her previous projects — like the civil
rights drama “Selma” and the documentary “13TH,” about mass incarceration
— and her company Array, which distributes films by underserved directors,
have given her an activist platform that
seems inseparable from her voice. In
“Wrinkle,” she found a different range:
Two weeks before preproduction, her
beloved stepfather died, suddenly, and
all at once the film became much more
personal than she could have realized.
“Wrinkle” is not an easy book to
adapt. To rescue her father, Meg Murry,
the physics-loving heroine — played by
Storm Reid, now 14 — skips across galaxies with her little brother and a friend,
encountering fantastical creatures and
menacing beasts. But her trajectory is
elliptical, and when she finally meets the
bad guy, it’s a brain. “The villain is the
darkness inside of you,” Ms. DuVernay
said. “There’s no Darth Vader, no battle
scene. Her action is progressive, and it’s
To translate that to the screen, “it has
to be lyrical, and intimate,” while also
balancing a coming-of-age saga, an adventure tale and a story that has been
beloved by middle-schoolers for more
than half a century, Ms. DuVernay said.
“That’s why I frigging did it, because it
was hard.”
She had a notable pep squad, though:
“I signed on because I thought it would
be fun to have the experience with Ava,”
said her friend Oprah Winfrey, who
plays Mrs. Which, one of the kids’ guiding spirits. Reese Witherspoon, as the
impatient Mrs. Whatsit, and Mindy
Kaling, who quotes Rumi and OutKast
as Mrs. Who, are the others; they were
chosen partly for their offscreen acumen as producers reshaping Hollywood.
It was Ms. DuVernay’s multicultural
casting ideas — “Hamilton” was a reference — that helped sell her vision to Disney.
“Once she presented it like that, it was
one of those things where you couldn’t
see the film any other way,” said Tendo
Nagenda, the executive vice president
for production for Walt Disney Studios,
who sent Ms. DuVernay the script. “And
little did she know that the desperation
on my part to make sure she did it went
to an all-time high.”
Mr. Nagenda — who was raised in Los
Angeles by a Ugandan father and a
The might
of making
Quoting Tim Cook, the mastermind
behind offshoring production to Taiwanese-owned contractors in China
before his ascent to chief executive of
Apple, Freeman shows how just-intime production flourishes on the
backs of poorly paid workers who are
shifted from one factory to another in
an entirely different region practically
at the stroke of his keyboard. When it
comes to inventory, Cook said, “you
kind of want to manage it like you’re in
the dairy business. If it gets past its
freshness date, you have a problem.”
When wages rise because of retention problems or labor unrest, the
Chinese government is happy to help
Apple and others by handing out tax
breaks and transportation projects to
spur new, lower-paying factories in
China’s hinterlands. No such help is on
tap for a worker, trained with a specialized skill, stuck in a country that no
longer supports the industry she
works in and living in someplace like
Flint, Mich., which can’t even guarantee the water is safe.
For the displaced, Freeman writes,
“the future has already come and gone,
perhaps leaving them with sneakers
and a smartphone, but with little hope”
for forging a post-factory life that is
both sustainable and ecologically
Though he never states it outright,
Freeman’s inclusion of poetry by a
Foxconn worker who committed suicide in 2014 telegraphs where his allegiances lie:
Behemoth: A History of the Factory
and the Making of the Modern World
By Joshua B. Freeman. Illustrated. 427
pp. W.W. Norton & Company. $27.95.
Joshua B. Freeman doesn’t chronicle
the aftershocks of the loss of five million factory jobs from the American
landscape or show you the impact of
disappearing factory jobs on towns
across America. And I wish he had
addressed the abandoned plants, escalating drug crime and crowded food
But what this distinguished professor of history at the City University of
New York does is lay out two centuries
of factory production all over the world
in ways that are accessible, cogent,
occasionally riveting and thoroughly
new. The history of large factories, as
Freeman outlines it, is the history of
the modern world and most everything
we see, experience and touch.
At a time when the ghost of the
American dream hovers over headlines ranging from free trade vs. protectionism to opioid addiction and
other so-called diseases of despair,
“Behemoth: A History of the Factory
and the Making of the Modern World”
should be required reading for all
Americans, in particular, especially the
8 percent of the American labor force
who still work in manufacturing (down
from 24 percent in 1960).
If you are reading this review on an
iPad or iPhone or another Silicon
Valley-designed computer screen, then
Freeman’s history will not only explain
how and where your device came to be
produced but also how the story of
modern production parallels the story
of your relative level of affluence.
There are few items in our homes
that didn’t originate as disparate components in faraway supply plants,
touched by many hands in multiple
countries. But whose hands actually
make and order the assembling of the
products, from the B-24 builders in
Ypsilanti, Mich., whose goods flew into
combat during World War II, to the
corporate owners who erected 32
million square feet of yellow netting to
prevent overworked Chinese Foxconn
workers from jumping to their deaths
in 2010?
Freeman tells us who both the makers and the corporate owners are, and,
more impressive, he shows us how,
over a relatively short period of time,
their stories came to be entangled. He
wants us to leave his book grappling
with the question: How should human
beings balance economic good with
environmental harm, need with greed?
He is more concerned with the building up of factories than the tearing
down, chronicling the pros and cons of
factory work with a scholar’s even
When a developing country embraces manufacturing to propel itself
away from agrarian subsistence, the
work is invariably rote and exploitive
and often even life-threatening. But,
over all, life expectancy climbs and
poverty and disease plummet.
That was as true in the wake of the
Industrial Revolution in Western Europe — before which only half of
French children, plagued by hunger
and disease, lived to see the age of 20
— as it is now in Ethiopia, where the
producers of Ivanka Trump’s shoes
recently relocated from Dongguan,
China, chasing a more desperate work
force content to work for a pittance
(roughly $30 a month) rather than
paying the rising wages of their predecessors in China ($560).
Capitalism, naturally, takes advantage of such increasingly swift and
secretive moves.
It was the striving capitalists, after
all, who pioneered the world’s initial
giant factories — first among them a
British wigmaker named Richard
Arkwright, who patented his spinning
machine in 1768 and then created an
empire of steam-powered cotton mills.
Arkwright knew he had arrived when
he was able to lend the duchess of
Devonshire 5,000 pounds to pay down
her gambling debts, even if he and his
The history of
large factories,
as Freeman
outlines it, is
the history of
the modern
world and
everything we
see, experience
and touch.
fellow mill owners used laborers as
young as 7 years old.
Freeman dips into a delicious expanse of source material from Charles
Dickens to Karl Marx to the Apple
Executive Tim Cook, from Bloomberg
Businessweek to The National RipSaw. In roughly chronological order,
British silk mill owners give way to the
Boston barons who developed the
factory town of Lowell, Mass., in 1822,
building dormitory-style housing for
the out-of-town farmers’ daughters
they hired and innovating a standardized production process that bested
the British and would “morally uplift”
via such utopian amenities as company-sponsored libraries and potted
The wealthy Boston merchant
Frances Cabot Lowell not only figured
out how to churn out white sheeting
more efficiently — the fabric used to
make slaves’ clothing — but was also
the brains behind the radical innovation of the stockholder corporation.
Before Lowell, that model was rare,
usually reserved for public works, not
the accumulation of private wealth.
Freeman loops around the globe
nimbly, drawing parallels between the
farmers’ daughters who sent money
home from Lowell and the Chinese
migrants who do the same from
Guangdong almost two centuries later.
Though I wish he would have lingered
longer on the workers’ lives, he has a
sharp eye for the raw, gut-kicking
A riveter in the Urals freezes to
death on a scaffolding. Middle managers in Michigan have to learn the
words for “hurry up” in English, German, Polish and Italian to keep Henry
Ford’s assembly line humming along.
Much like his account of Diego Rivera’s industry-worshiping murals in
Detroit, Freeman’s mini-portrait of the
photographer Margaret Bourke-White
shows how the public came to view
manufacturing through her factoryfanatic lens, from Ford’s River Rouge
plant in Dearborn, Mich., to Stalin’s
giant tractor factory in a former melon
With Henry Ford’s top architect,
Albert Kahn, as their consultant, the
Soviets squeezed wealth out of the
countryside on the road to creating a
socialist society after an initial epic fail.
“The Russians have no more idea how
to use the conveyor than a group of
schoolchildren,” Freeman quotes
Bourke-White saying. “One Russian is
screwing in a tiny bolt and 20 other
Russians are standing around him
watching, talking it over, smoking
cigarettes, arguing.”
But the Russians eventually figured
out how to make manufacturing advance both their socialist culture and
their economy, inspiring the East Europeans, all of whom later inspire Taiwanese and Hong Kong businessmen
setting up Chinese government-backed
shops in Shenzhen and Guangdong.
Freeman’s final chapter, “Foxconn
City,” is the finest and most searing
profile of wealth-makers in the bunch,
revealing the sheer drudgery of overworked people who make sneakers and
iPhones but can’t afford to buy them
and the quiet deal-making machinations fueling Silicon Valley’s billionaire
They’ve trained me to become docile
Don’t know how to shout or rebel
How to complain or denounce
Only how to silently suffer exhaustion.
“Behemoth” is contextually thin in
places, especially Freeman’s take on
deindustrialization. He doesn’t mention
that, as life expectancy in East Asia
climbed, mortality rates rose in America, or that drug dealers, not farm girls
seeking sewing jobs, now flock to
Lowell — a distribution hub for heroin.
Freeman only cursorily explores the
aftermath of globalization, automation
and unfettered free trade, and he doesn’t ask what the United States government owes the people still living in
America’s former mill and mining
towns. More robust retraining and
access to need-based college financial
aid? Incentives to resettle elsewhere?
A New Deal for the displaced and
Perhaps it’s beyond the purview of a
historian to wrestle with such questions. Perhaps it is enough that this
thoroughly researched history makes
us question our own accumulation of
the stuff in front of us and our complicity in the truth we dare not see.
Beth Macy is the author of “Factory
Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local — and
Helped Save an American Town” and
“Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the
Drug Company That Addicted America,” coming in August.
By the Book
Ian Buruma
Character Building
Edited by Will Shortz
he first arrived in Tokyo in the late
1940s by endlessly watching movies.
This is not a bad idea. I believe Kazuo
Ishiguro did the same before writing
his first novels set in the country of his
birth. In any case, I followed Richie’s
example. I find it more interesting to
learn about people’s fantasies than
about who they really are.
Ian Buruma, whose new book is the
memoir “A Tokyo Romance,” prefers
villains to heroes: “It is hard to write
about a good person without making
him or her look like a bore.”
What books are on your nightstand?
Since I have to read so much for my
work, I read only for pure pleasure at
home. These are the books that are
presently on my stand: “Ma’am Darling,” by Craig Brown; “Promise at
Dawn,” by Romain Gary; “King Zeno,”
by Nathaniel Rich; and “House of
Sleeping Beauties,” by Yasunari Kawabata.
What’s the last great book you read?
My Kindle has inspired me to read
some of the many great classics I’ve
never read before. I don’t know why
having a Kindle helps. Perhaps because so many classics are freely
available at the click of a mouse. Also,
getting older, my inclination is to read
books I never got round to, rather than
keeping up with the latest books to
come out. The last great book was
Stendhal’s “The Red and the Black.”
I’ve read a few good books since. But
great is not a word to use lightly.
What influences your decisions about
which books to read? Word of mouth,
reviews, a trusted friend?
All of the above.
What’s the most interesting thing you
learned from a book recently?
I read Cecil Beaton’s diaries and
learned that he was not just the cold,
egotistical snob that I thought he was.
There were some surprising hints of a
human heart ticking somewhere behind the powdered exterior. Not that I
would read his diaries to confirm what
a fine fellow he was. Like all good
diarists, Beaton was not afraid to
reveal his weaknesses. That is why the
best diaries are written by awful people who are narcissistic enough to put
all their awfulness on display.
Which classic novel did you recently
read for the first time?
What kinds of books bring you the
most reading pleasure these days?
Good books.
“Ulysses,” again thanks to my Kindle. I
never persevered before. I read
“Moby-Dick” for the first time before
that. I preferred “Moby-Dick.”
Which fiction and nonfiction writers
— playwrights, critics, journalists,
poets — inspired you most early in
your career? And which writers working today do you most admire?
V. S. Naipaul, Simon Leys, Arthur
Koestler and Christopher Isherwood.
As an adolescent, I was thrilled by
Henry Miller, but perhaps not for
entirely literary reasons. Another
influence was John Cleland’s “Fanny
Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure,” which I found on my father’s
bookshelves. Again, literary merit was
of secondary importance. I recognize
that it is unusual to get one’s sexual
education from an 18th-century porn
novel, but I didn’t have the benefit (or
the curse) of the internet when I grew
up, nor much opportunity to learn on
the job, as it were. Current writers I
admire are Elif Batuman, Emmanuel
Carrère and Adam Thirlwell.
Which genres are you drawn to and
which do you avoid?
I can’t stand science fiction. Apart from
that, I’m fairly omnivorous. Well, I
admit I haven’t read many westerns,
even though Holly Martins (Joseph
Cotten), the writer of westerns in “The
Third Man,” is one of my favorite movie characters. In popular fiction I like
crime stories: Raymond Chandler and
Elmore Leonard. I also adore Carl
Who is your favorite fictional hero or
heroine? Your favorite antihero or
I’ve always had a soft spot for Disney’s
the Big Bad Wolf. I very much like
Julien Sorel in “The Red and the
Black,” and Valmont in “Dangerous
Liaisons.” Villains are always more
appealing. It is hard to write about a
good person without making him or
her look like a bore. Real life is a little
different. Hitler is a fine subject. I don’t
think I’d like to have met him. Perhaps
this means that great villains can also
be great bores.
If you could require the president to
read one book, what would it be?
Which books do you think best convey Japanese culture and history?
I think fiction is the best way to understand another culture. Anything by
Junichiro Tanizaki, most of Nagai Kafu,
or Kawabata. I should mention, too,
“Ozu: His Life and Films,” by Donald
Richie, the American writer who
taught me more about Japan than
anyone. He learned about Japan when
This president doesn’t read, so I’d like
him to watch the Marx Brothers’
“Duck Soup,” which my friend and
former publisher Jason Epstein calls
the best thing ever done on war.
1 Where Napoleon
died in exile
9 Pursues, as a
15 Assails with
20 Pauses for
21 Demi with the
2012 hit “Give
Your Heart a
22 Droid with a
23 Equally pensive?
25 “Heaven forbid!”
26 Foldable beds
27 Witticism
28 Canada’s largest
29 Daschle’s
successor as
Senate majority
30 Commit a
33 Mo. with
Constitution Day
34 “____ calling”
36 Irish “John”
37 Part of E.S.L.:
38 Shoot off
39 Break down, in a
43 1980s-2000s
Texas senator
45 Beyond
47 Perform the hit
“Things I Should
Have Said”?
52 Symbol over 9 or
0 on a keyboard,
for short
53 Pet portal
54 Horror, e.g.
55 The Police
frontman filming
a shampoo
60 Golden State,
61 The night
before, to a hard
62 Whimsical
63 Bolted
64 “____ autumn,
and a clear and
placid day”:
65 All-inclusive
66 Tying packages,
securing helium
balloons, etc.?
73 Lessens in force
75 Flirtatious
76 Throng
77 The Beatles
81 Martial art with
bamboo swords
82 Ketel One rival,
83 Selling point
84 Handholds while
85 “The Walking
Dead” channel
I would not like anyone else to delve
into my life.
1 Doesn’t pay
2 ____ track
3 Metaphoric
4 Shared values
5 Performance for
which one might
grab a chair
6 Tridactyl birds
Solution to puzzle of February 24-25
Whom would you want to write your
life story?
87 Headey of
“Game of
89 Salon offering,
90 Important but
ignored piece
93 First weapons
used in a knife
99 Yoga pose
101 Oxygen-reliant
102 Oh-sohandsome
103 Jungian souls
104 Disney bear
105 Surprising group
of suspects?
108 Endorse digitally
109 “Baby, baby,
110 Lean fillet, as of
111 “Walk Away
____” (1966 hit)
112 Enthusiastic
113 “The 15:17 to
Paris” director,
10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19
31 32
34 35
39 40 41 42
45 46
49 50 51
57 58 59
67 68 69 70 71
78 79 80
85 86
90 91 92
95 96 97 98
99 100
105 106
7 Blood type
modifier, for
8 Waste
9 Astronauts Bean
and Shepard
10 Mag featuring
“Fun Fearless
11 Clair Huxtable or
Peg Bundy
12 Browns
13 Nonprescription,
14 Drama with
many fans
15 Katey who
played Peg
16 Parts of math
17 When duelers
may meet
18 Beginning of
the German
19 Like chimneys
24 Truckload
28 Island veranda
30 Barfly
31 Kind of lily
32 School closing?
35 Snapchat
posting, for short
38 One seeing
39 Including
40 Michael who
wrote “The
41 Things that clash
in Washington
42 Pouty
44 “No ____”
45 Rap sound
46 The 48th star
47 Woodland god
48 Do with a pick,
49 Briefly
50 The Theme Park
Capital of the
51 German border
52 Quaint
53 Tech news
56 Hypotheticals
57 Take with force
58 Bears ____
monument in
59 Messenger ____
67 Post-op stop
68 One releasing a
dove in the Bible
69 Food truck menu
70 Not tricked by
71 Advance look,
72 Film for which
Adrien Brody
won Best Actor
74 “Park it”
78 “Honestly”
79 Verdant spot
80 Last Chinese
81 Not be serious
84 “____ Just Not
That Into You”
(2009 rom-com)
85 Relaxing
86 Catch in “The
Old Man and the
88 Title family
name in old TV
89 Hawthorne
90 Snapped out of
91 Out of control?
92 Showed shock
93 Cossack weapon
94 Crash into
the side of,
95 Marshal
96 “You follow?”
97 Fancy soirees
98 Old record co.
100 Strength
103 Celebrated
boxing family
105 Edamame
106 Alternative to
107 ____ long way
A lot rides
on ‘Wrinkle’
mother from Belize — added that he saw
it as part of his mission at Disney to
broaden the narrative. When he realized
the film would be the first big-budget,
sci-fi fantasy to feature a young girl of
color as the lead, “it made me ask the
question, why is that?”
That “Wrinkle” is arriving in theaters
internationally starting this week after
Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther,” another Disney film, has seemingly rewritten the cultural code of Hollywood either sets up Ms. DuVernay’s film for
blockbuster success or will make any
disappointing box office all the more bitter. There’s little chance it will be a phenomenon like “Black Panther,” Mr. Nagenda said, but that film — and the marketing lessons it taught — may lure new
moviegoers. “Audiences are responding
to stories in which they feel they are represented and have a voice, and where
the film itself is cognizant of that,” he
said, “and I think our film has a lot of
Ms. DuVernay was careful to note
that “Wrinkle” is not broad fare like a
Marvel superhero movie; it’s intended
for 8- to 12-year-olds. “I don’t know if I’ll
ever do anything like this again,” she
And so, given the chance, she put her
stamp on it, using locations not far from
where she grew up in Lynwood, Calif.:
She shot in West Adams, a historic black
district in Los Angeles; and Crenshaw
High School, nearby, stands in for Meg’s
James Baldwin Middle School in the
Mr. Coogler did something similar,
setting part of “Black Panther” in Oakland, Calif., near his home. It’s a way, Ms.
DuVernay said, of claiming a bit of identity in a studio film, a move that directors “who are privileged enough to see
themselves in films all the time” may not
need to make. In her hairstyle and
clothes, Meg is based on Ms. DuVernay’s niece, a K-pop fan and skateboardloving 13-year-old in Alabama. And a
new character, a bully, was created out
of the memories that Ms. DuVernay and
Jennifer Lee, the screenwriter, had of
their own childhood tormentors.
“The best part of working with Ava,
she wanted this to be an emotional adventure,” said Ms. Lee, the writer and
co-director of “Frozen,” the animated
megahit. Putting it on the page was almost therapeutic, she said: “There are
always the heroes you wish you had as a
kid, the ones you wish spoke to you, that
say, ‘You’re more than you think you
are.’ ” More than any character she’s
created, Meg embodies that leap in confidence “with the most sincerity.”
Ms. Reid, the star, booked the part in
eighth grade, having read the book in
sixth. She kept a journal chronicling
Meg’s feelings. She came as prepared,
Ms. DuVernay said, as David Oyelowo
had before playing Martin Luther King
Jr. in “Selma.”
Ms. Reid, who has been acting since
she was 3, understood the impact this
role could have on other girls. “I do a feel
a sense of responsibility, like that I have
to keep them uplifted and I have to keep
inspiring them,” she said. Ms. DuVernay
Top, Oprah Winfrey, left, and
Storm Reid in a
scene from “A
Wrinkle in Time.”
Right, Chris Pine
as Ms. Reid’s
father, being held
captive by a dark
force. Below, the
director, Ana
DuVernay, and Ms.
Reid on set.
thought of Meg as just a regular kid who
finds her potential, but to Ms. Reid, she
is a superhero: “She is an African-American girl that is smart, that is beautiful
and that basically realizes that she is
enough,” she said. With that realization,
“she just taps into her superpowers to be
able to save her dad, her brother and
save the world.”
The inclusive casting of Meg and the
three guides got the attention, but Ms.
DuVernay spent as much time obsessing over the role of Calvin, Meg’s friend,
played by the Australian actor Levi
Miller. She chose him, in part, she said,
“because that was so powerful, to show
a white boy following a black girl
through the movie.”
“That was so
powerful, to
show a white
boy following a
black girl
through the
“I’ve never seen that,” Ms. DuVernay
continued. “I mean, I have a crew of
thousands of people, and it’s not lost on
me that I have white men coming up to
me all day long like, ‘What do I do?’ And
in my early career, there’s some white
men that have a problem with that, a
problem with even asking me what to
do, and taking my direction and believing that I know what I’m saying, because they have no context for even seeing it.”
As the instigator of multiple diversity
initiatives in Hollywood, Ms. DuVernay
keeps giving them examples. Her ability
to shape messages (she started out as a
film publicist), her ease and clarion honesty in sharing complicated, personal
truths are rare.
Sitting in her new office, she crumpled
quickly when the father-daughter part
of “Wrinkle” came up. Ms. DuVernay’s
stepfather, who helped raise her, died after a brief and sudden illness in 2016, as
she was about to start work on the movie. It was as if he had disappeared without warning — just as Alex Murry, the
father in “Wrinkle” (played by Chris
Pine) does.
“I felt that so deeply as I was making
the film,” she said, “this girl who literally
cannot wrap her mind around the fact
that he’s gone, and the moment when
they say he could still be here . . . .” She
broke off, crying.
Her stepfather’s name was Murray
Maye. Throughout production, when
there was a script note or a lighting
change for Mr. Pine’s character, she
couldn’t bring herself to say Dr. Murry,
as crew members did; she referred to
him only as “the father.”
“I feel like the film is looking for him
in a way,” she said, in tears. “And that’s
why I don’t care what anybody thinks
about it. I don’t care. I don’t feel pressure about the whole first, blah blah
blah. I know it’s $100 million for the studio. They’ll be fine. Ryan’s made sure of
that for me.” (She and the “Black Panther” director are close.) “So, you know,
this means a lot to me, and I know it’s
going to mean something to some people. Some people will see it, see all the
things we put in there.”
Ms. Winfrey did. “I grew up in an era
where there was absolutely zero, minus,
images” of girls like her in pop culture,
she said. “So I do imagine, to be a
brown-skinned girl of any race throughout the world, looking up on that screen
and seeing Storm, I think that is a capital A, capital W, E, some, AWESOME,
experience,” she added by phone. “I
think this is going to be a wondrous marvel of an experience for girls that in the
future they will just take for granted.”
The entertainment press made much
of the fact that Ms. DuVernay had never
worked with special effects (which is
rarely belabored when male directors
make the same leap). But neither had
Ms. Winfrey. “My first time being hung
from the ceiling!” she said. She found
getting up and getting down so nerveracking that she asked the crew to just
keep her rigged up. “The crew’s going to
lunch, and they’re like, ‘Well, we can’t
leave you hanging!’ I go, ‘Oh yeah, you
can!’ ” she said. (She stayed up there.
Just picture it.)
Ms. DuVernay, though, “was in her element,” Ms. Winfrey said, recalling that
when she observed the huge cranes
with the camera, “and there’s Ava, in
her dreads and her sneakers and her
vest and her jeans, surrounded by lots
of big guys and lots of big machinery,
saying, ‘Cut, stop, let’s take that again,’
it just would make my heart swell, that
she had taken on something that was
this enormous and was managing it so
“Wrinkle” is a very girlie movie; at
one point, a character is saved from a
fall by a field of gossipy flowers. And
Ms. DuVernay is warm and girlie, too —
at our meeting, we talked about the joys
and pitfalls of fake eyelashes; crying,
she peeled hers off. “I like clothes, I like
makeup, I like looking at pretty
dresses,” she said. Onscreen, the Mrs.
characters change costumes at every
appearance: Ms. Winfrey described her
look as “Beyoncé’s aunt from another
And none of these glitter-tinged fantasies subtract from Ms. DuVernay’s
own mission, that cultivation of new
perspectives and realities. To her,
“Selma” and “A Wrinkle in Time” share
a foundational message: “Civil rights
work and social justice work take imagination, to imagine a world that isn’t
there, and you imagine that it can be
there. And that’s the same thing that
you do whenever you imagine and insert yourself in a future space, or in a
space where you’ve been absent.”
To imagine a world where a girl like
Meg can fly was “super-emotional to
me,” she said. “And then to be able to
make it so, even on camera for a little
while, for two hours — to change the
world for that small amount of time, it’s
very powerful. It’s addictive.”
SATURDAY-SUNDAY, MARCH 3- 4, 2018 | 19
Revolution’s the rage
in German theaters
In Munich and Berlin,
three plays explore radical
ideas and utopian dreams
As the evening wears on, ushers hand
out beer in plastic cups.
For all its efforts to involve the audience, however, “1968” often feels too didactic by half. I went in expecting a riotous and frustrating combination of theory, art and political advocacy à la JeanLuc Godard’s most freewheeling and
radical work from that era. The format
of short performances is a safeguard
against monotony, and the performers
are nothing if not committed, but altogether, “1968” lacks a degree of exuberant conviction.
The entire undertaking has more than
a tinge of nostalgia, too. All but one of the
performers were born after 1968;
watching their contributions, it’s hard
not to feel their yearning for a time when
radical thought and action went hand in
hand, because young people believed
they really could change the world.
“I don’t want to recreate 1968. But we
can learn a lot from the ’68-ers. We can
learn how to fail,” the theater director
and performance artist Christoph
Schlingensief once said. The quote appears in “Partisan,” a documentary
about the Volksbühne theater in Berlin
under the quarter-century reign of its
artistic director Frank Castorf, which
was a standout at this year’s Berlin Film
Beginning in 1992, Mr. Castorf deployed his radical, immersive and demanding theatrical approach at the
Volksbühne as a counterweight to what
Clockwise from
top: “1968” at the
Münchner Kammerspiele in Munich; “Liberté” at
the Volksbühne in
Berlin; and Nina
Kunzendorf, left,
and Ursina Lardi
in “Lenin” at the
Schaubühne in
he and many other East Germans saw
as the conformity and false optimism of
the reunified Germany. As an envelopepushing provocateur, he hit on a recipe
for success, turning the Volksbühne into
ground zero for avant-garde theatrical
practices. Admired and reviled, praised
and denounced, Mr. Castorf’s Volksbühne was never a theater one could remain indifferent to.
In 2015, the announcement of the former Tate Modern director Chris Dercon
as successor to Mr. Castorf set off waves
of protest. Many feared that Mr. Dercon
would transform the theater into a posh
venue for international artists, with no
connection to the city of Berlin or the
people who live there.
After a fall program that included productions from the French choreographer Boris Charmatz, a version of
“Iphigenia” featuring Syrian refugees
and a trippy immersive installation
from the Thai director Apichatpong
“We all want to change the world,” the
Beatles sang on “The White Album,” released in 1968. Half a century later, the
legacy of ’68, its hopes, its dreams and
whether it achieved its goals are still up
for debate, in Germany as elsewhere.
Jörg Meuthen, one of the leaders of
the far-right Alternative for Germany
party, recently insisted that the country
must change its “filthy” and “morally
rotten” course, forged by the generation
of left-wingers who came of age in that
year of upheavals. The conservative denunciation of the student movement, the
peace movement, civil rights and the
sexual revolution provides the impetus
for an ambitious new theatrical production that explores the contemporary
meaning of ’68.
Billed as “an occupation” of the
“1968” is a wild, uneven but often
thought-provoking series of eight 15minute vignettes, conceived and performed by different artists and theater
collectives. The Berlin-based architecture group Raumlabor has transformed
the Kammerspiele’s main theater into
something resembling a university lecture theater, with the audience invited to
sit pretty much anywhere it pleases.
The stage is set, so to speak, for an immersive evening. Two hippies preach
“love instead of rockets” in the opening
segment, by the director Leonie Böhm.
Three magnetic performers in the German-Ivorian group Gintersdorfer/
Klassen proclaim the theories of the
post-colonial thinker Frantz Fanon. The
director, Henrike Iglesias, uses a flashy
game show format to encourage participation in a discussion about feminism.
Rose des vents collection
Yellow gold, diamonds and mother-of-pearl.
Weerasethakul, the most ambitious dramatic production of Mr. Dercon’s stillyoung tenure arrived in February: a
world premiere written and directed by
the Catalan filmmaker Albert Serra.
The work, “Liberté,” centers on a
group of French nobles seeking to
spread the ideals of “libertinage” at the
Prussian court shortly before the
French Revolution. In propagating the
radical and unbridled pursuit of erotic
pleasure against all social, religious and
moral restraints, the licentious aristocrats seek to establish a sexual utopia
that challenges the prevailing forces of
the Enlightenment. The French title invites us to reflect on the meaning of freedom, and whether the libertines are out
to liberate humanity from its shackles or
merely to enslave it to its desires.
Mr. Serra has managed to coax two
legendary European actors out of retirement for the production: The 79-yearold Ingrid Caven, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s wife and muse, plays an exiled
French duchess and notorious libertine,
and the 73-year-old Helmut Berger, who
appeared in several of Luchino Visconti’s films, is a freethinking German duke.
But despite the big names attached,
“Liberté” is a resounding failure.
Mr. Serra’s choice to set the entire 150minute play in a secluded field populated with aristocrats who rarely leave
their ornate sedan chairs produces the
theatrical equivalent of rigor mortis.
From the fourth row, I had a hard time
making out what was happening in the
large, murkily lit set, or in the mysterious Mr. Berger’s broken-down coach in a
corner of the stage.
The first 40 minutes or so, while the
duchess and her retinue return to the
field time and again in hopes of meeting
an Italian count with connections at the
Prussian court, are especially rough. It
can feel like “Waiting for Godot” with dialogue by the Marquis de Sade.
Once the count materializes, things
get only moderately more stimulating.
A subplot involving two novices at a local convent whom the French seek to debauch starts out promisingly, yet, like
everything else in the play, leads nowhere. And in what sort of play about
libertinage do you have to wait 90 minutes for a decent flogging?
In “Liberté,” Mr. Serra’s sensibilities
are ill served by his static and airless direction. As in his most recent film, “The
Death of Louis XIV” (2016), the attention to historical detail is exacting. But
why these laboriously made-up actors
languish in their toll-booth-like sedans
is a mystery. Many directors before him,
including Mr. Castorf, have used video to
amplify or even reveal aspects of a production that would otherwise be invisible. There is much gratuitous video in
German theater productions at the moment, but when used wisely, it can
greatly enrich the dramatic experience.
In the case of “Liberté,” a few close-ups
now and again would certainly have
helped the plodding evening along.
Mr. Serra might consider turning to
the Swiss director Milo Rau for inspiration. In “Lenin,” over at the Schaubühne,
Mr. Rau masterfully employs video in a
grim and claustrophobic dramatization
of the Soviet leader’s final days in 1924 at
his dacha outside Moscow.
Like Katie Mitchell, another director
who frequently works at this bold ensemble theater, Mr. Rau films and seamlessly edits the production in real time,
providing a parallel visual track of expressive cinematic images that add interpretive layers. Our eyes constantly
dart from the live actors to the screen on
which they appear, larger than life, from
multiple camera angles and occasionally in black and white.
Marking the centenary of the Russian
Revolution and starring the remarkable
Ursina Lardi in the title role, “Lenin” examines the legacy of that pivotal world
event from the vantage point of its incapacitated leader and from the perspective of a world that had yet to experience
the greatest horrors of the 20th century.
“You say you want a revolution,” all
these plays all seem to agree: Just don’t
expect it to bring about the promised
jostles for
space on
Paris scene
Rem Koolhaas,
left, got involved in
the Lafayette
project in 2011.
Below, Mr. Koolhaas designed a
glass box with four
movable segments
of flooring on
vertical tracks.
family to further our commitment and to
imagine creating a foundation, but actually I had no idea about what we would
do,” he recalled. “Paris has a lot of institutions and foundations.”
There is indeed plenty of competition
for the art-loving public’s attention.
Alongside public institutions like the
Pompidou Center and Palais de Tokyo,
the city is served by the Cartier Foundation, the Ricard Foundation, and the recently opened Louis Vuitton Foundation
and Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé Foundation.
Next year, the luxury magnate François
Pinault will open a private museum to
showcase his art collection in the central
Bourse de Commerce.
What Mr. Houzé hopes will set Lafayette Anticipations apart will be its
provisions for production, with exchanges of ideas across disciplines and
the ability to fabricate artworks and
spectacles on a large scale, for exhibition both on and off the site. Ahead of
the building’s completion, wellequipped workshops in the basement
were already up and running, assisting
in projects destined for the Tate, the
New Museum in New York, the Kunsthalle Basel and the Pompidou Center.
The new art space is on Rue du Plâtre,
which translates to “plaster street.” Lafayette Anticipations has brought the
plaster workers back to one of the most
architecturally protected areas of Paris,
and with them carpenters, metalworkers, programmers, dressmakers and all
else that an artist might need to realize
an ambitious work.
Mr. Koolhaas’s involvement started in
late 2011, when Ms. Finders joined his
firm, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, which is based in Rotterdam,
the Netherlands. She continued her conversations with Mr. Houzé and his team,
helping them delve further into the connections between Galeries Lafayette
and the Paris art world, not just in terms
At left, Galeries
Lafayette’s innovation in retail was
highlighted by its
long heritage of
production including apparel making and contemporary design.
Below, Guillaume
Houzé, a greatgreat-grandson of
the founder of
Galeries Lafayette.
of patronage and investment but in
episodes of historical coincidence. “The
department store was born at the same
time as the art salon, and the new urban
development of Paris,” Ms. Finders said.
The next year, Galeries Lafayette invited the Office for Metropolitan Architecture and its research arm to mount a
historical exhibition in the Galerie des
Galeries. Together with a team in the
Koolhaas firm that included the architect Clément Périssé, Ms. Finders dug
into the archives on the ninth floor of the
Boulevard Haussmann building. Exploring the family’s history was a
process Mr. Périssé called “a sort of mutual psychoanalysis” between the architects and the Galeries Lafayette group.
For Ms. Finders, it was a means, too, of
divining how accommodating Mr.
Houzé and his group might be to radical
propositions: “We needed to know what
they could tolerate: What was their
breaking point.”
Besides Galeries Lafayette’s innovations in retail, what stood out in Mr.
Périssé and Ms. Finders’ study was the
store’s long heritage of production, from
apparel making through contemporary
design. This tradition of creating and
commissioning became foundational to
the art space’s identity: The name Lafayette Anticipations was chosen to suggest the start of a process and expectations of things to come.
The goal to be a nimble platform for
creation has been given rather literal
physical form in Mr. Koolhaas and the
Office for Metropolitan Architecture’s
design. A glass box with four movable
segments of flooring on vertical tracks
now occupies a former courtyard space.
These provide adaptable space at the
The movable parts offer 49 possible
configurations to accommodate a range
of projects. “Since it’s not about a collection, you couldn’t be precise” about
what would be exhibited and how, Mr.
Koolhaas said. “Performance, ballet,
theater, music, concerts, digital, video,
film: Already, those are extremely diverse and can sometimes have opposite
demands. We have to accommodate all
of those.”
This is not the Office for Metropolitan
Architecture’s first building with a central elevating platform. In 1998, it un-
veiled the audacious Maison Bordeaux,
a home created for a client in a wheelchair. More radical, perhaps, is the discretion of this project: The architect’s intervention is not visible from the street.
Mr. Koolhaas, whose firm is responsible
for memorable landmarks like the looping CCTV headquarters in Beijing, said
there is now a “total excess in terms of
visibility of architecture.”
Rather than plan more attentiongrabbing buildings, he suggested that
architecture insinuate itself into the fabric of a city. Mr. Koolhaas rejects the idea
that Paris’s status as a living museum
stultifies innovation. “I, myself, would
have maybe represented that idea even
10 or 12 years ago,” he conceded. Today,
the notion that architectural preservation necessarily causes creative stagnation is, he said, “simply a lack of ambition: a lack of understanding of what
you can do within preservation.”
“So, for me, preservation became a
very interesting field,” he continued,
suggesting a new urban paradigm in
which architects leave the existing architectural language of the street intact
and reimagine those portions that are
out of sight. “I think it’s also, in a certain
way, an interesting, new, metropolitan
style,” he said, “old outside but super
fresh, new, inside.”
The Marais is already home to several
buildings that hide contemporary glass
boxes behind Haussman-style facades.
Many, like the Marian Goodman Gallery,
are adapted to accommodate contemporary artworks that grow ever larger, in
turn, to fill the outsize exhibition spaces
of modern museums and galleries.
The hulklike growth is part of a phenomenon Mr. Koolhaas himself once
called the “Tate effect,” referring to the
vast Turbine Hall of Tate Modern in London. While he might not acknowledge it
as such, one could view Lafayette Anticipations’ production facility as, in
part, an architect’s and a collector’s solution to an architect- and collector-generated problem: a way to help artists fill
enormous gallery spaces beyond the
practical scope of an individual.
Lafayette Anticipations itself is of relatively modest dimensions, with 9,400
square feet of exhibition space — less
than a quarter of the Louis Vuitton
Foundation’s. It reflects Mr. Houzé’s positioning of his institution “on the side”
of Paris’s new art ecosystem. Unlike the
huge crowds that attend the Palais de
Tokyo openings, Lafayette looks to keep
its audiences small and focused.
Asked how he might judge success, if
not by audience size, François Quentin,
Lafayette Anticipations’ managing director, suggested that it might come
from the liberated quality that emerges
when commercial imperatives are removed.
In Paris, as in London and New York,
the cost of living puts pressure on artists
to create work that can be sold. Rising
rents have driven artist-run spaces out
of the city center and fomented the closing of smaller independent galleries. Lafayette Anticipations “was not conceived to be an alternative, but of course
it is,” Mr. Quentin said. “Sometimes we
are able to produce things that neither
galleries nor museums are able or
wanted to produce.”
Working with three associate curators in programming the art space,
among them Charles Aubin of Performa
in New York, Mr. Quentin is setting his
sights on the international as well as the
local scene. The only common criterion
that he seeks in artists to work with is
“intelligence”: bright minds for a bright
new space.
It’s too soon to say what the impact
will be on the Paris scene. Perhaps for
this reason, Lafayette Anticipations’ future has been left open: Only two shows
have been scheduled, including the
opening exhibition, an installation by
the New York artist Lutz Bacher.
“I have an image of where the foundation could be in 25 years,” Mr. Quentin
said, smiling. “But I have no idea of what
we’re going to do in two.”
SATURDAY-SUNDAY, MARCH 3- 4, 2018 | 21
even after
a century
A musician celebrates Debussy
and his slinking, sparkling piano works
When I strike a chord on the piano, more
is heard than those notes alone. The
other strings vibrate with sympathetic
overtones, forming a halo over every
note. Claude Debussy, who died a hundred years ago, was perhaps the first
composer to write with this quality specifically in mind, to consciously harness
it as part of his creative process.
Although it was Debussy’s orchestral
work “Prélude à L’Après-midi d’un
Faune” that Pierre Boulez described as
“the beginning of modern music,” it was
at the piano where his revolutionary
new approach to form and timbre was
With “Pagodes,” the first piece of his
triptych “Estampes” (1903), we hear
something totally fresh. Yes, Debussy
had heard Javanese gamelan music at
the Exposition Universelle in Paris in
the summer of 1889 and had written with
great admiration about its complexity
and sophistication. But his use of its tonal color (loosely, the pentatonic scale —
the black notes on a piano) is not so
much a translation of a foreign text as it
is a poem written in a newly learned,
fully absorbed language.
Composers, especially in France, had
regularly utilized exoticism in their
works (Saint-Saëns and Bizet spring to
mind), but it remained a decorative detail, a picture postcard, a costume. With
Debussy, the absorption has gone to the
marrow. It is a transfusion of blood, flowing in the very fingers that conjure up
these new sounds at this old instrument.
Igor Stravinsky commented that he
“was struck by the way in which the extraordinary qualities of this pianism had
directed the thought of Debussy the
composer.” Debussy’s discovery of new
sounds at the piano is directly related to
the physiology of hands on keyboard. It
is impossible to conceive of most of Debussy’s piano music being written at a
desk, or outdoors, despite his frequent
use of “en plein air” titles.
No, this is music made as molded by
playing, as dough is folded with yeast to
create bread. As the fingers reach the
keys, sound and touch seem to fuse. The
keyboard has ceased to be a mere function for hammers to strike strings and
has become a precious horizontal artifact to caress. This is music of the piano
as much as for the piano. The poet LéonPaul Fargue, having watched Debussy
play, wrote that he “would start by
brushing the keys, prodding the odd one
here and there, making a pass over them
and then he would sink into velvet.”
“He gave the impression of delivering
the piano of its song,” Fargue added,
“like a mother of her child.”
Debussy’s piano music is perfectly
conceived for the instrument. But it isn’t
just that it fits beautifully under the
hand or sounds wonderful as the vibrations leave the soundboard and enter
the ear. To play the opening of “Reflets
dans l’Eau” (from “Images,” Book One)
feels as if the composer has transplanted his fingerprints onto the pads of
your digits. The way the chords are
placed on the keys (flat-fingered on the
black notes) is not so much a vision of
reflections, whether trees, clouds or water lilies. It is as if each three-padded triad is an actual laying of a flower onto the
water’s surface.
Later in the piece, as the waters become more agitated, the cascading arpeggios are like liquid running through
the fingers, all shimmer and sparkle. In
“Poissons d’Or” (from “Images,” Book
Two), the opening motive, a darting duplet of double thirds, is like trying to
catch a fish’s flip as it slips out of the finger’s grasp. And in the central section,
the slinky tune slithers with grace notes
as the hand has to slide off the key as if
off the scales of a freshly caught trout.
No other composer feels to me more
improvised, more free-flowing. But then
the player is conscious of a contradiction
as the score is studied more closely: Music that sounds created in the moment is
loaded with instructions on how to
achieve this. The first measure of
“Cloches à Travers les Feuilles” is
marked pianissimo and contains just
eight notes, each of which carries a staccato dot. But the first is also coupled
with a strong-accented whole note; the
fifth has an additional dash; all the notes
are covered with a slur; and, if that were
not enough, Debussy instructs the pianist to play “doucement sonore”
(“sweetly resonant”).
His suite “Children’s Corner” may be
like so many toys in his daughter’s nursery, but the workmanship behind every
joint and seam is of the highest fastidiousness. All of his pieces sound spontaneous, but every stitch (every dot, dash,
hairpin or slur) is specific. This is not
mood music, pretty sounds assembled
at a dilettante’s whim. Behind the bells
and the water and all the poetic imagery
is an abstract musical mind of the utmost intellectual rigor — an architect of
genius, despite the small scale of the
If most of his piano music has a feel of
improvisation about it, the two books of
“Préludes” celebrate this in a special
way. Until well into the 20th century, a
pianist would rarely begin to play a
piece cold. A few chords, an arpeggio or
two, served as a warm-up as well as allowing the audience to settle down. This
was known as “preluding,” and Liszt
spoke of it as a technique to be learned
by any aspiring pianist. Debussy’s
“Préludes” are perfectly crafted jewels,
conveying more in their few minutes’
duration than many an opera, yet they
can also seem as intangible as mist —
with titles, tacked on with ellipses at the
end of each piece, like mere trails of perfume in the air.
Debussy began piano lessons at the
age of 7 in Cannes, France, as an evacuee from Paris at the start of the FrancoPrussian War, and he died during the final year of World War I, unable to have a
public funeral because of the aerial
bombing of the French capital. The circumstances of his life, framed by his
country’s enmity with Germany, seem
an apt symbol for his music’s rejection of
a kind of German aesthetic.
His instinct to steer clear of classical
structures; his elevation and celebration of small, ephemeral forms; and his
delight in the atmosphere of beautiful
chords for their own sake, with no desire
to find a specific function for them, was
an audacious challenge to some more
self-consciously serious German intellectual fashions of the time. Indeed, the
“Golliwog’s Cakewalk” (from “Children’s Corner”) is a direct hit, with its
cheerful celebration of popular culture
and the cheeky quote from Wagner’s
“Tristan und Isolde,” followed by the
minstrel’s scoffing sniggers.
When assessing a composer’s place in
history, there’s always the question as to
whether he or she leans backward or
forward. But despite the opinion of Elliott Carter that Debussy “settled the
technical direction of contemporary music,” and despite the impossibility of the
existence of the piano music of modernists such as Messiaen or Ligeti without
him, I think the secret to playing Debussy’s music lies in its Chopinist roots
— he edited the Polish composer’s
works for Durand — and in his ties to his
Massenet, Delibes and others.
He may have stretched harmony and
form into new shapes, but it seems to me
that it is in a Parisian cafe, a Gauloise in
hand and coffee at his side, that we
glimpse something essential about the
spirit of Debussy. For all his sophistication, he could never resist the lilt and
leer of a corny cabaret song — not just
overtly, as in “La Plus que Lente” (1910),
but tucked away inside more experimental pieces such as “Les Collines
d’Anacapri,” “Reflets dans l’Eau” and
“Poissons d’Or.” He never left behind
completely the romantic sentimentality
of early piano pieces like “Clair de Lune”
and the “Deux Arabesques.”
Although his taste for popular styles
found expression in ragtime takeoffs
such as “Minstrels” and the “Golliwog’s
Cakewalk,” it was his more serious music that later had an immense influence
on jazz composers like Gershwin, Bill
Evans, Keith Jarrett and Fred Hersch.
And not just because of a shared sense of
improvisation: The repeated patterns,
the piling up of sonorities and the way
Debussy would crack open a chord, finding creativity in the very color of its vibrations, found its way into their very
And if the ghost of this Parisian ended
up haunting every American jazz bar, it
also found its way east, too. Debussy
may have discovered his own pianistic
voice after hearing the gamelan, but by
the end of the 20th century the inspiration had reversed direction and his impact on Asian piano music is incalculable. Toro Takemitsu, American Minimalists and New Age Muzak — they all owe
Debussy virtual royalties. The first
“modern” composer, a hundred years after his death, vibrates afresh in every
corner of the globe.
Stephen Hough’s new recording of Debussy’s piano music is out on Hyperion,
and he will tour this spring with a recital
program focused on that composer.
Tackling a future
without him, but
with duct tape
On a random day, a bird in distress helps
a grieving mother face a new normal
Modern Love
We heard the strangest sounds coming
from the front porch, a squawking and
an unworldly scream. The children fled
into the kitchen, scared and yelling,
which is what I wanted to do, too. But I
had to handle whatever this was.
I looked out to see our family cat,
Echo, with a cardinal in her mouth that
was flapping and screeching, struggling to get out. My first thought was
to call my husband, followed by a
realization: I couldn’t. A month earlier,
he had died. I still woke up every
morning feeling stunned by this new
Don had learned he was sick in
September and had died in June. As a
college professor, I couldn’t help but
notice the timeline: death in one academic year. He was not supposed to die
from this cancer. Two days before, I
was still being told, “It’s a bump in the
road. We got this.”
And I passed on my own affirmations to the children: “We’ll be in the
Poconos by August. We’re still going
fishing this year.”
Call it denial or magical thinking; I
thought it was true.
The children were too young to visit
him at the end in intensive care, so
they never saw the tube down his
throat or knew he was in a medicated
coma or that his albumin range was
below starvation level, evidence of his
rapidly compromised state. I wasn’t
told the last bit, either, until it was too
All I wanted now was to save this
bird. I ran into the kitchen and got a
broom and ran back outside, ignoring
my children’s questions about what it
was and how I was going to handle it.
I told them to turn on the TV and
stay inside. Then I went out onto the
porch and started swatting at Echo,
trying to get her to release the bird.
The children were too afraid to look out
the picture window or come to the
front door, but I could hear one of them
call out, “What’s happening?”
The broom was having no effect. I
was hitting Echo too gently, but I wasn’t about to hit her harder. Feathers
were flying, and even in the moment I
still thought how beautiful the floating
red feathers looked and the brilliance
of the bird’s red wings against Echo’s
black fur. It took me several swings to
realize I was screaming now, too, a
shrill “Aiiiiiiiiiii” with every bash.
I had imposed a gender on the bird,
and she was a she — a lovely, brutalized thing. I had never seen a cardinal
this close and found it incredible that
such color could exist in nature, could
belong to something that flies through
the sky.
Echo dropped the cardinal and
snatched her back up, and in the seconds the bird lay on the porch, I could
see she was badly damaged, deflated.
The red everywhere was only her
feathers, though; there was no blood.
My own blood was thrumming in my
Don died in about three hours one
Sunday morning. Sepsis set in; his
organs shut down; his heart was the
last thing to give out. My parents
drove me home from the hospital and
came in with me to be additional sets
of arms for the children.
I wanted to touch all three of them
as I said the words, and when I did, my
oldest backed away in disbelief. Then
they were standing up and saying it
couldn’t be true. I had told them we
were going fishing.
Their grief and confusion was too
huge for them to understand that I had
said what I hoped would be true. At 13,
11 and 5, they still took everything I
said at face value. My parents cooed
and tried to quiet them, but I accepted
their accusations, their anger, because
I also believed I had failed and felt like
a liar. I had not saved him for them.
And now I held still on the porch, the
broom horizontal in my hands like a
rifle. There was nothing for me to do
but watch the bird’s end. Echo was
dropping her and pouncing on her,
again and again.
The bird stopped screeching and the
children came to the front door as a
group, their three heads in a staggered
row, each finding enough space to see.
We didn’t speak. They took in the
scene and turned away, leaving me
It was my job, after all, as a single
parent, as the “grown-up” (which will
forever have air quotes), to sweep up
the feathers, to deal with the aftermath. That’s what I had been doing all
day every day for weeks now — dealing with the aftermath.
I thought about the day of Don’s
funeral, the moment when eight of my
female friends, from different parts of
my 40-year-old life, ended up on that
very porch with me.
We talked and drank wine, grimacing over how many of us wished we
still smoked. At one point, I was standing at the top of the front steps, looking
out, and I could feel those women
My first
thought was
to call my
followed by a
realization: I
couldn’t. A
month earlier,
he had died.
behind me. I stayed quiet and just
listened to the sound of their talking
more than their words, and I could feel
myself getting stronger for it, my spine
filling with liquid steel, and I knew I
would be able to go on.
When my children were born, other
people wanted to be in the birthing
room — my sister, sister-in-law,
mother. For me, the birth experience
was as intimate as the conception, and
we made a decision that felt automatic: Of course it would be just the
two of us in the room.
But from now on, parental and
household decisions would be mine
alone. I hadn’t known what to do with
Don’s body. We hadn’t discussed his
funeral wishes because his prognosis,
up until his final hours, had been so
good. And now I didn’t know what to
do with this destroyed bird.
I got a garbage can lid and swept the
feathers and bird up into it, and again
was struck by her beauty. Her eyes
were not closed, and I made a mental
note to look that up: Do birds have
eyelids? Echo whined at the front door
to be let inside, and I ignored her. I
imagined the children inside in a row
on the couch, watching something on
Do I have to tell my father
about my #MeToo experience?
The Ethicist
In light of the #MeToo movement and
all the people coming forward about
sexual assault, my father recently asked
my sister if she had ever been assaulted.
I myself was assaulted by the son of
close family friends when I was a child,
but I have never told my family about it.
I am scared that my father may ask me
if I was ever assaulted as he asked my
sister. I don’t want to lie to him, but at
the same time I’m really not ready to
talk about it yet with my family, especially because I know it will be hard for
my parents to hear, and it will drastically alter our relationship with our
close family friends. Can I lie to my
father if he asks me, or should I tell the
truth? Name Withheld
a person who has been
through a traumatic event is the one to
decide if and when and with whom she
will discuss it. You don’t say what age
you and the son of these family friends
were when you were assaulted, or what
sort of relationship you had with him
then or have now, but you don’t suggest
that he poses a continuing threat to
anyone else. In the absence of such a
threat, the rule applies. Your ultimate
concern here can be for yourself.
Clearly, you’re still disturbed by what
happened. If you haven’t already talked
the issue through with a therapist, you
might want to do so; a professional
could help you think about whether you
would be helped by revealing the truth
or whether it would be better for you to
let things lie.
Speaking about the episode could
have positive effects, to be sure: Movements are strengthened by participation. This one won’t be derailed by
your reticence, however, and you seem
mostly to be worried about the effect
that disclosure will have on your family and on your family friends. That’s
decent of you; these are relevant considerations. But again: What’s most
important is to think about its effects
on you and how you want to handle
You’re rightly concerned about lying
to your father. That’s a bad thing in
itself, and it’s a betrayal of trust. Still,
the obligation to be honest could be
trumped if the consequences to you of
answering him truthfully were substantial. At the same time, there are
other possibilities than a straight-out
lie. One would be to reply that, yes, you
have been assaulted but that you don’t
want to discuss the details with him
and you would like him to respect your
privacy. Yet, many parents wouldn’t be
able to rest being told only this much,
and you would have to feel confident
that your father would.
Another approach would be to say
that you will tell him what happened,
but only if he promises not to tell anyone else. You know him and can judge
whether he would find it possible to
keep that promise and what it would
cost him in terms of self-restraint. If
you underline the fact that it was the
son who was responsible, not his parents, he may be able to maintain his
relationship with them even if he
knows what happened. So you have
much to consider.
A close friend of mine recently split with
her partner. I found out that since their
breakup, he has been sleeping with
another person in our social circle. My
friend and I are not close to this woman, but we do see her from time to time.
I know that during their breakup, my
friend expressed to her partner a wish
for this exact situation not to occur. I
have been wondering if I should tell my
friend that this is happening. I worry
that it would only cause her pain after
an already-painful breakup, but I also
feel dishonest in keeping it from her. I
am also concerned that she will find out
about it regardless, perhaps in a way
that is more hurtful than coming from
me, someone she trusts. What is the
right thing to do? Name Withheld
a right to determine
whom an ex sleeps with. It was fine for
your friend to tell her partner that she
didn’t want him to sleep with a mutual
acquaintance, but unless he seriously
pledged not to do so, he wasn’t under
any obligation to comply. What you’ve
learned is not that he has done something wrong but simply that he has
done something that she didn’t want
him to do. Given that they’re no longer
a couple, she doesn’t have a right to
It would be one thing if she had
explicitly asked you about this or if, by
keeping your counsel, you were acting
in a way detrimental to her interests.
You mention the possibility that she
could learn it, more painfully, from
someone else — but you don’t say
whether that’s very likely. If the issue
TV and waiting for me to tell them it
was over and everything was O.K.
I lay the lid on a wicker side table
and picked the feathers from our porch
furniture, some stuck in the wicker of
the sofa, some stuck on the velvety
throw pillows. I placed each feather on
the black Rubbermaid lid and hoped I
would be able to find a shovel among
Don’s yard tools, which I hadn’t even
looked at yet. Burying the cardinal
became a nonchoice, too. I had buried
Don; I would bury the bird.
Three months later, back at work, I
would remember those red feathers
when the children were home without
me, and the cat — always the cat! —
came into the house with a gash in her
tail, spurting blood everywhere as she
whipped her tail around.
The children scooped her up and
rushed her out to the porch, and then,
even smarter, into the yard. They
assessed the situation and our supplies
and fashioned a bandage out of folded
paper towels and duct tape. They put
Neosporin on the wound because I had
put Neosporin on pretty much every
wound they’d ever had. Doing so made
me feel there was a process to be followed, a protocol.
doesn’t come up and the only effect of
telling her would be to upset her,
you’re entitled to let it slide.
It is tempting to find high-minded
reasons to pass on gossip. On the
whole, though, the truths you should
feel obliged to convey to her are about
matters of real importance in her life,
not just anything that she would like to
know. And the sexual adventures of an
ex, despite what she may currently
feel, don’t qualify.
There’s the risk, of course, that she’ll
find out and then ask you if you knew.
At that point you would owe it to her to
say that you did know and considered
telling her but decided that you wanted
to spare her the distress. The strength
of your relationship would be tested by
its ability to withstand this revelation.
My friend recently took a job at a nonprofit organization providing services
to adults with developmental disabilities. From the start, there were issues:
Instead of providing staff members
(who work from home) with laptops
and phones, the center requires them to
use their personal equipment and “take
it off your taxes.” Same with using
personal cars for business. While the
New Jersey rate for mileage reimbursement is 31 cents, the organization only
reimburses 14 cents. Payroll is consistently late, and expenses have not been
paid for three months. Now my friend,
who has serious health issues, was told
by her doctor that her employer-sponsored health insurance was canceled for
nonpayment of premium. My friend
pays into her health insurance each
week by a payroll deduction. She needs
a CT scan and cannot pay for one out of
pocket. She called human resources
several times, but they always say that
they are working on the issues, with no
result. My friend is sick and worried
about her future. Should I report the
organization? Whom do I report them
to? My friend cannot afford to do without the money they owe her or her
health insurance. Name Withheld
with an admirable
cause doesn’t entitle an organization to
When I came home, they told me the
story all at once, interrupting each
other and showing me Echo’s tail, how
well the bandage was fixed, how they
knew a Band-Aid wouldn’t have
worked on her fur. They seemed most
proud of the fact that they hadn’t called
me; they had handled their own emergency with ingenuity.
After kissing and praising them, I
went into the kitchen to make dinner
and cry for my brave children.
I tell my students that life’s biggest
moments — car accidents, graduations, even deaths — may not be the
best fodder for their writing.
I tell them that the most significant
moments happen on a random Tuesday.
The day of the cardinal was, in fact,
a Tuesday. And I had not saved that
bird, and I had not saved my husband.
But I had cleaned up the porch and
sheltered my children from the worst
of it, which was the best I could do.
And my children had learned a lesson
in resilience, which is everything.
Kathleen Volk Miller is director of the
graduate program in publishing at
Drexel University in Philadelphia.
violate its obligations to its employees.
You might call the office of your state’s
attorney general and ask where you
should report these problems. (In New
Jersey, you will probably be referred to
the Department of Labor.) But first
consult your friend. Exposing her
employers in this way risks her relationship with them, even if she isn’t the
one who does the reporting. She’s
entitled to know what you have in
I am a medical resident at an academic
hospital. About two years ago, I received
a small grant from a trainee-subsidized
patient-care fund to provide two iPads
to pediatric psychiatry patients who
spend many hours in our emergency
department awaiting placement. I
purchased the iPads and software but
ran out of time and steam as I encountered various logistical and practical
obstacles. I am now about to graduate
from the program; I have tried to find
another trainee to whom to hand off the
project, with no success. What is my
moral obligation regarding what to do
with these iPads? Can I just donate
them somewhere? Can I take one home
for my kids? Am I required to try to
resell them and return the money to the
patient-care fund? Name Withheld
the fact that you took
money to do something you haven’t
done. At the very least, you should
inform the fund administrators, apologize and refund the money. Only after
you’ve discharged your duty to the
fund can you think about what to do
with the iPads. Reselling them now
won’t allow you to recover the full
amount, of course, because they’ll have
declined in value. If you’ve managed to
make the fund whole and still have the
devices, though, what you do with them
is up to you. So you can certainly donate them to anyone you like ... including your children.
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
Country living,
with amenities
House Hunting In . . .
This six-bedroom, four-bathroom home
in the village of Maussane-les-Alpilles,
in the Provence region in the South of
France, was built in the 18th century as a
mill where olive oil was produced. Although part of it was always used as living quarters, the entire structure was
converted into a residence in the second
half of the 20th century, said Jérome
Louis, the director of Espaces Atypiques, which has the listing. That was
also when the 13-by-23-foot swimming
pool was installed in a former stable, he
In addition to the 5,274-square-foot
main residence, the quarter-acre property also includes a 753-square-foot annex unit, a storage building and parking
for four cars, Mr. Louis said.
The front door, which has stained
glass from 1726, opens to a grand entry
with walls of stone from the Alpilles
mountains and old terra-cotta tiles on
the floor, as well as under-floor heating
and vaulted ceilings, which continue
throughout the ground level.
“The shape of the roof on the ground
floor is typical of this type of oil mill,” Mr.
Louis said, adding that most of the
home’s furniture and the mill’s “original
press system made of massive pieces of
wood” are included in the asking price.
“All these original pieces will remain in
the house.”
Off the entry are cavernous spaces
that contain the kitchen, library and office, as well as the dining room and a living room with a staircase to the second
floor. The open kitchen has walls and
floors of Alpilles stone and a large island
with a Brazilian granite countertop.
The dining room has an adjacent sitting area and lighting that accentuates
the vaulted ceiling and the massive olive
Hot market attracts
new luxury project
Developer who is known
for extravagant towers
is building in Brooklyn
With the start of Brooklyn Point, a 68story mixed-use condominium under
construction in Downtown Brooklyn,
the New York City borough’s heated real
estate market hit another milestone: It
has Gary Barnett’s attention.
Mr. Barnett, the founder of Extell Development, is known for extravagant
skyscrapers in Manhattan, including
Central Park Tower, which, should it
achieve its goal of more than $4 billion in
sales, will be the city’s highest-grossing
residential tower.
Now his firm has ambitious goals for
Brooklyn Point, its first-ever project in
the borough, albeit on a different scale.
“We wanted something substantial
enough to bring Extell from Manhattan,” Mr. Barnett said about choosing
the site. “To bring our kind of product” to
A depiction of the
planned Brooklyn
Point, a 68-story
mixed-use condominium that will
feature an infinity
pool on the
Brooklyn, he added. The tower will be
the third at City Point, a roughly 1.8 million-square-foot mixed-use complex
near several subway lines and anchored
by retailers like Target. For a short
while, it might also be the tallest in the
borough, rising 720 feet. Another luxury
tower, at 9 DeKalb Avenue, is expected
to reach 1,066 feet. Both projects are
slated for completion in 2020.
Aside from the location, Extell was
lured to the site by a subsidy program
approved under the former administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
For its investment in the City Point development, Extell received a 25-year tax
abatement, in which the building owes
no taxes for the first 20 years, and then
taxes rise gradually in the last five
years, according to Anthony Hogrebe, a
press, which is still intact. This room
opens to a patio with a vine-covered arbor and a court for pétanque, a game related to bocce and lawn bowling.
In the office is a large stone vat once
used to store olive oil, Mr. Louis said.
The living room has a large fireplace
and a stone stairway with an ornate
forged-iron railing that leads to the bedrooms on the second floor.
The master bedroom has a high ceiling with heavy beams that were added
when it was raised a decade ago, Mr.
Louis said. This bedroom opens to a
large terrace and also has an en-suite
bathroom. There are four other bedrooms in the main house and an additional one in the annex.
The village, Maussane-les-Alpilles,
has about 2,250 residents and plenty of
shops, markets and restaurants. It is
about a 30-minute drive from Arles, a
coastal city, whose best known resident
was Vincent Van Gogh.
There are many tourist attractions in
the region, including the Parc Natural
Régional des Alpilles. The closest international airport is the Marseille Provence Airport, which is about an hour’s
In recent years, the housing market in
Provence has been sluggish, as it has
been throughout France. But in the past
year or so it has gained momentum, said
Andrea Bichi, owner of Your Provence, a
real estate agency in Goult.
“The last few years, we had a decrease in prices and demand, but now
we have the feeling that prices are more
stable,” Mr. Bichi said. “The market is
picking up again a bit, and I think prices
will follow.”
Much of this has to do with increased
confidence in France following the election of Emmanuel Macron in May 2017,
which helped put the country back on
the map for international investment,
said Tim Swannie, managing director of
Home Hunts, an agency in the South of
France. “President Macron and his new
government brought a lot of optimism to
spokesman for the city’s Economic Development Corporation. As part of the
deal, Extell contributed to the creation
of 200 affordable housing units nearby.
Designed by the architecture firm
Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, the
glassy tower will have retail at its base
and 458 luxury condo units, ranging
from studios for $837,000 to three-bedrooms starting at $2.9 million. “That’s
what passes as affordable nowadays,”
said Mr. Barnett, noting that the bulk of
listings will fall in that range, while the
most expensive units will list for around
$4 million.
Sales will begin in the spring, said
Anna Zarro, Extell’s director of sales
and leasing. The developer anticipates
total sales of about $901 million, according to paperwork filed with New York
While the tower may not be the tallest
in Brooklyn, it will have perhaps the
highest rooftop pool in the city. “That’s
sort of how we’ll be known,” said Ms.
Zarro, describing the infinity pool that
will overlook the Manhattan skyline. It’s
one feature, she said, that will set it
apart from a wave of new towers now
rising in the area. Other amenities will
include a yoga studio, a rock climbing
wall, an indoor pool and several terraces. Katherine Newman Design will
design the interiors.
The project enters a market with
record price growth in sales, but growing concern on the rental side. In the
fourth quarter of 2017, the median sale
price in Brooklyn was $770,000, the
third-highest median price recorded,
said Jonathan J. Miller, a New York appraiser. Compared with the same period
from the previous year, the median sale
price has risen every quarter for five
years straight, he added, and the trend
isn’t likely to change soon. “You can argue that in certain areas” of Brooklyn,
“there is a shortage of condos,” Mr.
Miller said.
By contrast, the rental market, which
accounts for the vast majority of new development in Brooklyn, has cooled. In
January, 47.5 percent of new leases included some form of concession, such as
a period of free rent — a record high,
said Mr. Miller, noting that a surge of
supply contributed to the discounts.
As one of a number of new condo
projects coming to the area, Extell’s
tower could set the tone for the fastgrowing market. “It’s a bellwether for
Downtown Brooklyn,” said Brendan
Aguayo, a senior vice president with
Halstead Property Development Marketing, which is not involved in the
project. He said there are roughly 1,500
new condo units expected by 2019 for
the neighborhood, and the Extell project
will test buyers’ willingness to pay top
As of January, there were no apartments listed for more than $3 million,
said Garrett Derderian, director of data
and reporting for Stribling & Associates.
Extell’s most expensive units — highfloor apartments that Mr. Barnett said
will list for around $4 million — could
come close to record territory.
the French property market in general,”
Mr. Swannie said.
The most pronounced bump has been
seen in areas popular with home buyers,
including Paris, the French Alps and
Provence, brokers said.
In Provence, both domestic and foreign buyers are attracted to areas like
the Luberon and Alpilles, lured by the
sunshine, picturesque countryside and
laid-back lifestyle. And home prices that
are lower on average than in neighboring Côte d’Azur also appeal to some buyers, brokers said. But Provence is a vast
region, so prices can fluctuate, sometimes rivaling those in the Côte d’Azur,
Mr. Swannie said.
A typical Provençal farmhouse of
about 2,150 square feet could sell for
€450,000 to €900,000 (or about $558,000
to $1.1 million), Mr. Louis said. A large,
well-restored country house with land
and a pretty view might fetch upward of
€1.2 million (or about $1.5 million), brokers said.
Most of the foreign home buyers in
Provence are from Britain, Germany,
Switzerland, Belgium and the United
States, brokers said. “However, now
with Brexit, we’ve lost many British clients,” said Mr. Bichi, of the real estate
agency Your Provence.
Smaller numbers of buyers come
from Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway,
Denmark, Australia and South Africa,
brokers said.
There are no restrictions on foreign buyers in France.
Notaries handle all home sales, and
the practice of using two (one for the
seller and one for the buyer) is becoming more common in transactions involving foreign buyers from countries
where “it is important to have a lawyer
for each party,” said Marie Vere, an English-speaking notary in Ménerbes.
Buyers typically pay 7 percent to 8.5
percent of the purchase price in land
registry taxes, stamp duties and notary
fees, Ms. Vere said.
If a lawyer is also involved, the
charges are typically around €1,500 to
€1,800 (or $1,860 to $2,230), Mr. Louis
Mortgages are available to foreign
buyers, although lending criteria have
become more strict in recent years, brokers said. Most banks will not lend more
than 75 percent of the property value to
foreign buyers, Mr. Swannie said.
Many banks have also tightened lending standards for American buyers in
particular, Ms. Vere said. “I think the
reason is that they had a lot of litigation
with nonresident loans, and they have
found it more difficult to collect unpaid
debts from U.S. residents,” she said.
French; euro (1 euro = $1.24)
The annual taxes on this property are
about €2,400 (about $2,978).
Jérome Louis, Espaces Atypiques,
+33 761-24-19-75;
Yo u r b est l i fe b eg i n s w i t h a h o m e t h a t i n s p i res yo u .
The 5,274square-foot
main residence
in Maussane-lesAlpilles, France,
and the dining
room and living
room on the first
sot h e bys rea l m
A D M I R A LT Y I S L A N D , A L A S K A PA R A D I S E V A L L E Y, A R I Z O N A
Commanding 1.5 miles of powder soft sand, Guanahani
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Private 2,383 sq. ft. chalet on a 2.63 acre non-bank
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$2,500,000. Jennifer Johnsen Cameron.
Romantic urban Villa in the heart of PV created from the
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Frank Aazami.
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Timeless contemporary estate. A blank canvas for
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Enjoy breathtaking views of Biscayne Bay to downtown
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Representative of the finest architecture and design
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This sun-flooded, renovated 20 ft. wide townhouse has a
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This extraordinary turnkey 3 bedroom, 3.5 bath home
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Florence Danforth-Meyer and Epo I. Manning.
Impressive home boasting 3,250 sq. ft, 4 bedrooms,
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The Woolworth Tower Residences. The top 30 floors
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Thierry W. Despont into 33 luxury condos.
Price upon request. Stan Ponte and Joshua Judge.
This pristine 8,260 sq. ft. lake front estate offers
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Dan Ravenel.
Over 8,000 sq. ft. state of the art, high-tech Georgian
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© MMXVIII Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC. All Rights Reserved. Lake Tablino, used with permission Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC
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Wine, up front
and in the spotlight
The stunning malbecs and torrontés
add an extra dimension to a gastronomic
scene that is growing by leaps and bounds
36 Hours
Mendoza, Argentina
The reliably clear blue skies of Mendoza, with the Andes lined up in the distance and vines everywhere you look,
create driving conditions so perfect the
wine can seem almost secondary. To
fully explore the area’s wineries, you’ll
have to travel south and east of the city
to the wine-producing regions of the Uco
Valley and Maipu. But making the urban
center your base means easier access to
night life and great restaurants. The
city’s gastronomic scene has been growing in leaps and bounds, along with tasting rooms where you can sample not
just the mighty malbec, but other varietals like bonarda and torrontés.
Up the mountain 3 p.m.
It’s tempting to see Mendoza though the
bottom of a wine glass, but you’ll be
missing out on some spectacular scenery. Pre-emptively burn a few calories
with a quick hike up Cerro de la Gloria.
The hill’s switchback trail takes just 15
minutes (or you can run up like some fit
locals) and ends in a spectacular monument commemorating Gen. José de San
Martín, who led Argentina, Peru and
Chile in a revolution against Spain. The
fabulous views of the city to the east include the stadium; to the west is a
sprawling mountain range. The surrounding park is popular with Mendocinos playing soccer and picnicking, and it
makes a great spot for a walk or run.
First tasting 5:30 p.m.
Prep your palate for sampling wines at
Mendoza’s bodegas (wineries) with a
tasting at Wine Not?, in the city center.
Despite the cheesy décor — like cork table sculptures and “save water drink
wine” signs — the owner Matias Roca
specializes in serious and out-of-the-ordinary vintages from small producers.
You might get an unlabeled bottle from a
garagista (someone who makes wine in
their garage) who produces just 1,200 to
1,500 bottles a year. Generous pours of
five wines are 500 pesos, or about $25,
and you’re encouraged to take your
Grandma’s cooking 8 p.m.
A local favorite that serves food like the
meals your abuela used to make, Fuente
y Fonda offers enormous enamel dishes
with entrees designed for two, including
A dish of beef with
vegetables from
the Piedra Infinita
restaurant in the
Familia Zuccardi
cellar in the Uco
fresh pastas and a milanesa (breaded
steak) topped with melted cheese, fresh
tomatoes and ham. The appetizer of
beef tongue, sliced thin and doused in
olive oil, vinegar and garlic, is meltingly
good, and the wine list does justice to
Mendoza’s offerings; on a recent visit a
blend of malbec, cabernet sauvignon
and bonarda from Matías Michelini, a
Mendoza wine star, was on offer. Save
room for dessert, which is free, and don’t
miss the moist, dense bread pudding
(budín de pan) if it’s available; it comes
with a healthy dollop of dulce de leche.
Dinner for two, with wine, around 900
Drive, then drink 10 a.m.
Reserve a spot at Bodega la Azul’s 11:30
a.m. tour and tasting before embarking
on the stunning drive (about an hour
and 15 minutes) down Route 40 to the
Uco Valley, where some of the country’s
most lauded bodegas grow their grapes.
The drive south is breathtaking, with
the Andes to your right, showing clear
lines of demarcation where the snow
stops, and fields of vines on either side of
the road. Arrive at the tiny, charming bodega, which is the only 100 percent Argentine-owned winery in the area. Ezequiel Fadel Hinojosa, the owner and a
third-generation winemaker, introduces
visitors to his small-production sauvignon blanc and blends of malbec and cabernet sauvignon with a stop in the
small winery at the back, where wine is
produced in eight steel vats. The sofas in
the garden restaurant make the perfect
place to sit with a glass when you’re finished. Tour and tasting: 200 pesos.
Leisurely lunch 1:30 p.m.
Just five minutes’ drive up the road
brings you to Tupungato Divino, a small
hotel with a restaurant and a garden
that offers a spectacular view of the Andes, extensive fields and a babbling,
man-made irrigating stream that runs
right by tables shaded by grape-laden
vines. The impressive wine collection of
150 vintages is sourced from nearby
wineries, and the seasonal menu is fixed
price, with a degustation of starters and
desserts. From the list of entrees, opt for
the lomo — the steak is served with a
malbec reduction and cooked exactly to
order; it’s an Argentine classic. Lunch
for two, around 1,100 pesos.
Andes and architecture 4 p.m.
Zuccardi is a name to be reckoned with
in Argentina; the moniker of the winemaking dynasty appears on bottles in
restaurants around the country. Their
Valle de Uco winery, which opened in
2016, is a stunner, thanks to the sleek
and uber-modern architecture that was
designed to emulate the line of the Andes that serves as a backdrop to this
state-of-the-art complex (alluvial rock
and other native materials went into the
building as well). Tastings start at 400
pesos per person and include a tour that
goes from vines to vats to a gorgeous
tasting room (note the innovative concrete amphorae); a sampling of their
most exclusive wines is 1,600 pesos.
Afternoon snack 5:30 p.m.
Dinners in Argentina are eaten late, so
assuage your hunger with a stop at a
shabby white food truck with “jamón
crudo” inelegantly scrawled along the
side. It’s parked by the side of the highway where Route 7 intersects Calle Cobos, in full view of the mountains. The
owner bakes yard-long loaves of bread
and cures Spanish ham himself; then
slices it to order, making salty, flavorful
sandwiches (140 pesos) that are the perfect late afternoon snack. Pull up a white
plastic chair, open one of the bottles you
picked up on the day’s tours, and enjoy
the view under the bright blue sky.
Shopping mendoza 7:30 p.m.
Mendoza’s liveliest shopping and nightlife street is the four-block stretch of
Arístides Villanueva that runs from Bel-
grano to Paso de los Andes. Packed with
busy restaurants, shops, cafes and craft
beer bars with outdoor seating, this is
where you can pick up trendy pieces by
Argentine designers and get a sense of
local life at the same time. At Cosset, a
combination bookshop and clothing
boutique, you’ll find jeans and soft knits
for women from the trendy Buenos
Aires brand Ríe, slinky dresses from
Allo Martinez, chunky jewelry from Cuatromusas, as well as art supplies and
books on film and graphic novels. Moht
has Isabel O. slip-on shoes in colorful
patterns and Lazaro handbags. Finally,
at Espacio Aristides, pick up a pair of
jeans from the hip Argentine label Ay
Not Dead.
Wine pairing 10 p.m.
Reserve a table in advance for dinner at
Azafrán, which has some of the city’s
most sophisticated food and a wine cellar to match. The six-course tasting
menu (1,250 pesos) departs from the
usual Argentine fare, with dishes like
tender grilled Patagonian prawns accompanied by a cold almond soup, and
pork tenderloin with a sweet potato and
coffee purée. Service is thoughtful and
friendly. Don’t forget the wine pairing
(350 pesos), which includes wines from
the creative Maal label (which shares an
owner with the restaurant) as well as
some of the most interesting bottles in
Mendoza. Afterward, if you still have
room, stroll across the street to Helados
Ferruccio Soppelsa, one of the top icecream spots in a city that loves the stuff
almost as much as wine. Try the vanilla
or cherry flavors, both infused with malbec.
Food and wine 9 a.m.
The sunny courtyard at Bröd, a small
bakery with the best medialunas (small
croissants) in town, is the ideal place for
planning your next winery visits. The
laid-back spot has heartier options, too,
like poached eggs, house-made granola
and sandwiches. Breakfast for two,
around 300 pesos. Across the courtyard
is Winery (closed on Sundays, but stop
by another time), an extensive wine
store with entire rooms dedicated to single varietals. If you’ve still got a crevice
left in your suitcase for another bottle,
buy it here (they’ll also ship bottles for
you if you don’t).
Torrontés tasting 11 a.m.
The first female winemaker in Argentina, Susana Balbo has her bodega in
Luján de Cuyo, a 30-minute drive from
the city, and offers an informative tour of
the fermentation rooms, which are filled
with enormous steel vats, concrete amphorae, and the newfangled, teardropshaped barrels the winemaker is experimenting with. The bodega has its own
restaurant; post-tour tastings are held
in its basement tasting room or an outdoor patio where you’ll be introduced to,
among other wines, a bright and fruity
torrontés, and Ms. Balbo’s BenMarco
Expresivo, a complex blend of malbec
and cabernet franc. Tasting, including
tour, 260 pesos. Book in advance.
The monument
honoring Gen. José
de San Martín in
Cerro de la Gloria
in Mendoza, Argentina.
Sunday lunch 1 p.m.
The Club Tapiz restaurant, part of a
small hotel, has an elegant dining room
where the chef Soledad Nardelli constructs a prix fixe lunch menu of three
courses (550 pesos), offering sophisticated platings of vacio (flank steak)
slow-cooked in milk; pink trout on a bed
of mixed quinoa; and cheeses with
house-made marmalade and candied
walnuts. The wine list is long and mostly
from the Tapiz bodega, which also
produces good olive oils (ask the server
if you want to sample them). On warm
days, dine on the patio in front of the
enormous tree that is home to dozens of
noisy parakeets.
Hard Truths
An exhibition of prize-winning photography
from The New York Times
CARACAS, VENEZUELA - MAY 26, 2017: Anti-government protesters celebrate after taking back control of the main highway that
runs through Caracas from government security forces. Meridith Kohut for the New York Times
Friday, March 16 – Sunday, March 18
34-35 New Bond Street
London W1S 2RT
For full details and to save your place
Hard Truths has been
co-curated by David Furst of
The New York Times and Arthur
Ollman from the Foundation for
the Exhibition of Photography in
collaboration with The Conduit.
Журналы и газеты
Размер файла
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The New York Times, newspaper
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