ROYAL FAMILY CITIZENSHIP TEST FOR BRIDE-TO-BE SEEING RED INSECT BROUGHT NEW HUES TO ART LOST ICE, LOST HOPE CLIMATE CHANGE TAKES A TOLL ON INUIT TOWN PAGE 4 | WORLD PAGE 17 | CULTURE PAGE 10 | BUSINESS .. INTERNATIONAL EDITION | MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 Looking ahead, and over his shoulder How to beat populism? Proportion. Ivan Krastev Contributing Writer NEWS ANALYSIS WASHINGTON OPINION “Burning Bush,” the 2014 movie by the legendary Polish film director and Solidarity activist Agnieszka Holland, was one of the most important cultural events in Central Europe in recent years. An ethical thriller, the film is set in 1969, soon after a Czech student named Jan Palach set himself on fire to protest the Soviet Union’s occupation of his country and draw attention to the authorities’ attempts to normalize Czechoslovak life afterward. Palach’s aim, it seems, was to put a screeching halt to evil’s banalization. Three years after the film’s release, in the late afternoon of Oct. 19, Piotr Szczesny, a 54-year-old father of two, set himself on fire in front of the Right-wing Communist-era populists in Palace of Culture in Warsaw. Mr. Europe thrive Szczesny’s outin a culture cry was aimed of tense against the farpolarization. right policies of the ruling Law We shouldn’t and Justice help them. Party, which he believed represented a mortal danger to Poland’s democracy. In a leaflet that he seems to have distributed before his suicide, he was unflinching: “I love freedom first and that is why I decided to immolate myself, and I hope that my death will shake the consciences of many people.” I don’t know if Piotr Szczesny ever watched “Burning Bush,” but his act undoubtedly echoes Jan Palach’s sacrifice almost a half-century earlier. Mr. Szczesny’s self-immolation provoked heated arguments in Poland. Some interpreted his suicide as more the result of depression than politics. Others feared that Poland could face a wave of copycat suicides and recommended that the news media ignore the shocking deed. And there were those, like Agnieszka Holland herself, who were ready to hail Mr. Szczesny as the true successor of Palach, and his gesture as a desperate undertaking to make Poles aware of the gravity of the current situation. “Fire destroys,” Ms. Holland said, “but it also illuminates. Like anger.” This debate in Poland highlights the thorny questions facing those who oppose the rising populist right in Europe: What is the best way to fight a government you loathe but that has killed nobody, arrested few (if any) and come to power fairly — yet threatens to transform liberal democracies as we understand them? Where do you draw the line between living in a democracy in which the party you despise has won free elecKRASTEV, PAGE 14 For Trump, a guilty plea by a former aide and a tax plan victory coincide BY PETER BAKER PHOTOGRAPHS BY YUYANG LIU FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES Dancing under an overpass in Yancheng, China, in October. Household spending in Yancheng surged 8 percent per person in 2016, outpacing the rises in Beijing and Shanghai. Rural China primed for boom LIANGDUO, CHINA Areas long overlooked in country’s rapid growth are ready to leap ahead BY MICHAEL SCHUMAN One crisp October morning, Han Youjun got into his silver delivery van and left this small town in eastern China. Within minutes, his van brimming with boxes of every size and shape, he was rumbling through rice paddies, down narrow village lanes and past modest farmhouses, deeper and deeper into China’s vast hinterland. In the past, delivery drivers like Mr. Han would have had little reason to travel so far. China’s boom over the past four decades made its crowded metropolises wealthy. Much of the rest of the country, especially farming communities like those surrounding Liangduo, in the eastern province of Jiangsu, remained relatively poor. But more and more, the benefits of China’s economic miracle are penetrating into smaller cities and countryside hamlets — as Mr. Han, a 32-year-old deliveryman for JD.com, an online retailer, knows all too well. The 70 packages Zhou Xingdong bought yogurt online. Many of China’s more remote areas are connecting with the broader economy and catching up with the country’s rich metropolises. crammed into his van that day were double the number he usually hauled only 18 months earlier. “The workdays have been getting longer,” he said. China needs spenders in those places. The government is trying to shift the country’s growth engine away from its traditional dependence on factories and building things. Those old growth sources are no longer dependable and require more and more costly debt. Thanks to China’s digital revolution, advances in farming and billions of dollars spent on thousands of miles of new highways and railways, Chinese people away from the biggest cities are responding. Many of China’s more remote areas are catching up with rich metropolises and connecting to the broader economy in ways they had not before. In the prefecture that contains Liangduo, Yancheng, locals’ wallets are fattening more quickly than the national rate, and their household spending — which surged 8 percent per person in 2016 — outpaced the rises in Beijing and Shanghai. Signs of that new prosperity can be seen at Auto City, a jumble of ramshackle, boxy buildings in Yancheng where Toyota, Ford and just about every other major brand compete for customers. Zhou Zhengguo, owner of a dealership for the Chinese automaker Geely, expects to sell 2,000 cars this year, four times as many as just two years ago. “Most people who bought cars were private businessmen,” Mr. Zhou said. “Now working-class people buy, too.” Those who live in China’s less developed places could be crucial to the next stage of China’s development. Robin Xing, an economist at Morgan Stanley, said he believed consumer spending in places like Yancheng’s urban center would continue to outperform spending in bigger cities. As a result, two-thirds of all additional private consumption growth will come from less-developed areas through 2030. CHINA, PAGE 11 The highs and lows of a presidency rarely come in such quick succession. But within hours, President Trump watched as one of his closest former aides pleaded guilty and promised to help prosecutors seek out more targets, then stayed up late to cheer on the Senate as it broke through months of gridlock to pass the largest tax cuts in years in the United States. Scandal and success in short order left the White House whipsawed and searching for a path forward that would generate more of the latter while knowing that the former is not going away anytime soon. Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser who pleaded guilty to a felony on Friday, was the fourth person near Mr. Trump to be charged, and few in Washington expect him to be the last. No president in modern times has faced such a major investigation so early in his term even as he was still seeking to establish his political footing, much less one with as little popular support in polls as Mr. Trump has. The challenge for Mr. Trump in the weeks to come will be how to press forward on his agenda without letting the ominous drumbeat of indictments and court hearings consume his presidency. “The White House has to continue to operate and cannot be perceived as waiting for the next testimony, the next announcement or the unanticipated issue,” said Tom Griscom, a former White House official who helped President Ronald Reagan recover from the Irancontra scandal in the 1980s. “The American people wanted to see a president that was engaged and able to move his agenda even with the distraction of an investigation.” Initially at least, Mr. Trump followed that script on Saturday morning but his restraint did not last long. “What has been shown is no collusion, no collusion,” he told reporters when he left the White House for a day trip to New York. “There’s been absolutely no collusion, so we’re very happy.” Within a couple of hours, he went to Twitter for a more forceful response. “I TRUMP, PAGE 6 EMAILS DISPUTE AIDE WAS ROGUE ACTOR New details show senior Trump advisers closely followed Russian contacts by Michael T. Flynn. PAGE 7 REPUBLICANS ABANDON DEBT CONCERNS Criticism of the federal debt, once a core party tenet, was put aside to push for the Senate tax cuts. PAGE 7 The man behind Jakarta’s modern art museum JAKARTA, INDONESIA Tycoon’s collection gives the Indonesian capital an added dose of culture BY JON EMONT For a city of its huge size — 10 million people — and economic heft, Jakarta lacked many things one might expect of a thriving Asian metropolis: a metro system, for one, as well as a major international modern and contemporary art museum. The metro system will be operational in 2019, but the contemporary art museum has come even sooner. On Nov. 4, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara, known as Museum Macan, opened its doors to the public, with items from the 800 contemporary and modern works owned by the museum’s founder, Haryanto Adikoesoemo, an Indonesian property and Y(1J85IC*KKNMKS( +=!"!$![!; GOH CHAI HIN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE — GETTY IMAGES A visitor at Museum Macan in Jakarta in front of “Juling (Cross-Eyed)” by the Indonesian painter I Nyoman Masriadi, which depicts people busy with their mobile phones. chemicals tycoon turned prodigious art collector. Situated on a horseshoeshaped floor of a tower in the western part of the city, the museum in its early days has stunned Jakarta crowds with phantasmagoric light installations like “Infinity Mirrored Room — Brilliance of the Souls” by Yayoi Kusama, alongside classic Indonesian modernist paintings by Raden Saleh. Mr. Adikoesoemo, 55, said he is determined to add a dose of culture to a city mainly known for its palatial shopping malls and awful traffic. “If I go to Europe, I go to museums for relaxation,” Mr. Adikoesoemo explained, sitting on the edge of his seat in the dining room of his family’s mansion in the heart of Jakarta. “Indonesia still doesn’t have that culture.” Mr. Adikoesoemo, a trustee of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, has been collecting art for over 20 years, and has amassed an eclectic collection that is a mix of modernist Indonesian artists like Affandi, contemporary Western artists like JAKARTA, PAGE 2 NEWSSTAND PRICES Andorra € 3.60 Antilles € 3.90 Austria € 3.20 Bahrain BD 1.20 Belgium €3.20 Bos. & Herz. 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AED 12.00 United States $ 4.00 United States Military (Europe) $ 1.90 Issue Number No. 41,905 nytimes.com/thedaily .. 2 | MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION page two Tycoon’s art adds culture to Jakarta JAKARTA, FROM PAGE 1 JACK GUEZ/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE — GETTY IMAGES Avi Gabbay, center, celebrated his election as the new leader of Israel’s Labor party in July. He has shaken up the country’s political class by making the party relevant again. The party’s most recent victory was in 1999. Reawakening Israel’s Labor party PROFILE HAIFA, ISRAEL Avi Gabbay surprised voters by leading the left while appealing to the right BY DAVID M. HALBFINGER AND ISABEL KERSHNER He was a nobody from Israel’s centerright just a few months ago, a onetime minor minister under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who was best known, if at all, for having quit the government in a huff. Then Avi Gabbay shocked the country’s political class in July by winning the leadership of the Labor party, the once mighty, but long moribund, champion of the Israeli left. Now, suddenly, Mr. Gabbay is everywhere: kibitzing on talk shows, fulminating on Facebook, drawing crowds on college campuses and even in rightwing backwaters where Labor politicians have long feared to tread. Even more improbably, he is forcing rivals to address whether they would serve alongside him if he were elected prime minister. If he accomplishes nothing else, Mr. Gabbay, 50, has quickly pulled off what seemed to be next to impossible: Giving hopeless, powerless and feckless Israeli liberals permission to at least imagine a post-Netanyahu restoration, to daydream again about being given a fresh chance to lead. A poll by an Israeli TV station, immediately after the Labor leadership con- test in July, found that if elections were held then, Likud would take 29 seats in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, and the Zionist Union, which includes Labor, would take 24 seats — eight more than the centrist Yesh Atid party led by Yair Lapid. But he has done it, in large part, by irritating those same liberals. Whether by design or by accident, Mr. Gabbay keeps popping off in ways that appeal to the right, not to the left. He spurned the idea of a coalition with Arab parties in the Knesset, saying they represented the constituents of the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, not Israeli Arabs. Mr. Gabbay welcomed a beefing up of religious content in public schools. He pooh-poohed the evacuation of West Bank settlements for the sake of peace with the Palestinians. And he dusted off an old Netanyahu insult about how “the left has forgotten what it means to be Jewish.” Mr. Gabbay now insists he was merely making a point about how to woo the more traditional Israelis who want to feel that they share the same values, not just policy views, with their leaders. “I respect everybody, whether they believe or don’t believe,” he said while campaigning last month in Haifa. “But I believe that we have to talk about our Jewish identity. That’s the main thing that unites us all.” The remark was a dog whistle for the right-of-center voters that Mr. Gabbay hopes to peel away from Mr. Netanyahu, said Yehuda Ben-Meir, a veteran of right-wing governments who now tracks public opinion for the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. “The left went crazy,” Mr. Ben-Meir said, “but the right paid attention.” Mr. Gabbay seems pleased by the attention he is getting, critical or not. His unlikely path began in the executive suite at Bezeq, Israel’s state-owned telecommunications company, where his father had been a technician. Named its chief executive in 2007, Mr. Gabbay led the company through six years of deregulation, privatization and profit, firing a whole layer of managers so gently, according to one account, that they left his office smiling. After trying to buy El Al, the national airline, Mr. Gabbay, by then a multimillionaire, helped found the center-right Kulanu party in 2015 and then, when it joined Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition, became environmental minister. He had some successes, but he got no help from Mr. Netanyahu in cutting regulation, he complained, and was the lone vote in the cabinet against a big natural gas deal, which he said would cost consumers far too much. All the while, he said, he watched Mr. Netanyahu sowing division and hatred at his Sunday cabinet meetings. “Every week it’s like something against somebody,” Mr. Gabbay said in an interview. “It’s against the left, it’s against the media, against Arabs, and against, against, against.” His final straw was Mr. Netanyahu’s appointment of Avigdor Lieberman, a hard-line nationalist with few relevant qualifications, as defense minister. “You have to know something about” defense, Mr. Gabbay said, adding: “It’s not like being a minister of environmental protection.” So in May 2016, Mr. Gabbay quit. After retreating to Mykonos in Greece, toting biographies of the former prime ministers David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin, Mr. Gabbay said he decided to run for prime minister himself to change the political culture in Israel, something that he says can only be achieved from the very top. He chose Labor as his vehicle like a motorhead snapping up a wreck to restore: Its poll ratings were at record lows, and it was projected to win only eight of 120 Knesset seats. “People told me, ‘You are crazy,’ ” he said. “ ‘You are going to join this corpse? Seriously?’ ” They may not have appreciated his endurance. A veteran of eight marathons, with a tattoo of a runner under his suit, he barely caught his breath after the primary before beginning his campaign for prime minister, even though an election could be a year or two away. To Mr. Gabbay, the biggest problem with Mr. Netanyahu, and what will make it difficult to topple him, is his exploitation of identity politics, all too easy in Israel’s fractured society. “The mission of a prime minister is to be a prime minister of all the people in the country — not your camp, your side,” he said. That said, Mr. Gabbay, a son of Moroccan immigrants who spent his early years in a transit camp, can hope for support from other Mizrahi Jews, whose resentments have been a powerful force in the past. “I am coming from the people; I am not from the elite,” he said. His wife is a teacher; a brother drives a taxi. He would doubtless be the first prime minister who once waited tables in the Knesset cafeteria. A self-declared social democrat, he assails dog-eat-dog capitalism and pledges to repair the safety net and solve the country’s critical shortage of affordable housing. “We have to change Israel from a country where people just survive,” he said, “to one where people actually live.” While he supports a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mr. Gabbay refuses to say what he would give up for peace, only discussing what he wants to get — a demurral that is likely to be tested this week in meetings in the United States, including a high-profile turn at the Saban Forum in Washington. Many Israelis find it hard to distinguish between Mr. Gabbay’s positions and those of Mr. Lapid, a former television host and minister who is again second to Mr. Netanyahu in more recent polls. Dahlia Scheindlin, a pollster for Labor in 2015, said politicians with greater skills than Mr. Gabbay had tried that before, but found too few centerright voters to chase. Labor, so identified with the left, she said, “practically doesn’t exist in their eyes.” But between them, Mr. Gabbay and Mr. Lapid could possibly steal enough support from the right to deny it an automatic majority. And Mr. Gabbay, while insisting he would win, also concedes he would be willing to serve under Mr. Lapid. For younger Laborites, who barely remember the party’s most recent victory, in 1999, the excitement surrounding Labor is intoxicating. “He’s not like the old left wing,” said Oren Idel, 23, a student at the Technion university in Haifa. “He’s a new Labor. I think he will bring a lot of voters back to us. He gives me a strong feeling that he’s someone we can trust.” A Castro confidant who revolutionized Cuban schools ARMANDO HART 1930-2017 BY SAM ROBERTS Armando Hart, who as Fidel Castro’s confidant and first education minister redeemed the Cuban revolution’s vow of universal literacy, has died in Havana. He was 87. The cause of his death on Nov. 26 was respiratory failure, the Cuban Communist Party said. Mr. Hart, a lawyer whose grandfather was born in the United States and immigrated to Cuba, was also, later, his country’s first culture minister. An early member of Castro’s inner circle, Mr. Hart played an integral role in the government for more than five decades after 1959, when revolutionaries toppled the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, which the United States supported. Mr. Hart was also responsible for recruitment and promotions in Cuba’s Communist Party. Named education minister by the provisional president, Manuel Urrutia Lleo, immediately after the revolution, Mr. Hart served until 1965. He was credited with recruiting as many as 100,000 student volunteers to help slash Cuba’s illiteracy rate in a single year, to less than 5 percent from about 25 percent. ASSOCIATED PRESS The Cuban leader Fidel Castro, left, with Armando Hart in 1961. Mr. Hart was credited with slashing Cuba’s illiteracy rate to less than 5 percent from 25 percent in one year. His ministry also purged dissident teachers, refused the request of Roman Catholic Church officials to allow religious instruction in public schools and required university students to learn a trade or skill. By the end of the decade, primary school education was available almost universally. Mr. Hart served on the Council of State until 2008 and was a member of the Parliament when he died. He wrote several books; directed the government’s José Martí cultural program, dedicated to the 19th-century Cuban poet and revolutionary hero; and was the president of the José Martí Cultural Society. In 2010 he was awarded the Order of José Martí, the Council of State’s highest honor. Mr. Hart was less doctrinaire than some of his Communist colleagues. He counseled an arm’s-length relationship with the Soviet Union, but, early on, also voiced support for armed insurrections against Latin American dictatorships supported by the United States. After Castro jailed a dissident poet, Mr. Hart sought to reconcile with Cuba’s intellectuals by creating a culture ministry. Heading the ministry from its inception in 1976 until 1997, he allowed for creativity but also viewed culture through a political prism. Early in his tenure, making an overture of sorts to American television executives who were visiting a jazz festival in Havana, Mr. Hart told them: “If you send us bombs, we will send you bombs. If you send us music, we will send you music.” While he reminded the Writers’ Union of José Martí’s dictum “Justice first, art later,” he proclaimed shortly after his cultural ministry was established, “Justice has triumphed, forward with art.” Armando Hart Davalos was born in Havana on June 13, 1930. His Americanborn grandfather went to Cuba from Georgia as a child. His father, also named Armando, was a Cuban appellate judge. Mr. Hart earned a doctorate in law in 1952. That same year his activism was sparked when Batista, while running for president, staged a coup. Mr. Hart was a founder of Castro’s 26th of July Movement, named for the failed attack on an army barracks in Santiago de Cuba in 1953. He served as its national coordinator until he was jailed for suspected terrorism. Rescued from prison, he was recaptured in 1958 and remained in custody for months until the revolution. His younger brother died in 1958 when, according to the authorities, a bomb he was making exploded prematurely. By then, the Hart family was prominent enough that after the younger Armando was arrested, a United States agent checked on his well-being with officials of the Batista government, according to Thomas G. Paterson’s book “Contesting Castro: The United States and the Triumph of the Cuban Revolution” (1994). “Through this concern,” Mr. Paterson wrote, “the C.I.A. agent probably saved Hart’s life — at least Castro thought so.” Haydee Santamaria, Mr. Hart’s wife and a heroine of the revolution, was quoted at the time as saying that she hoped some day to present the American agent with a bouquet. There was no immediate information on Mr. Hart’s survivors. His wife committed suicide in 1980, and their children, Celia and Abel, were killed in a car accident in Havana in 2008. Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jeff Koons, and prominent contemporary artists from Japan and China, including Ms. Kusama and Ai Weiwei. While the eclecticism could pose a challenge to curators trying to craft coherent exhibitions out of Mr. Adikoesoemo’s personal collection, Aaron Seeto, the museum’s Australian director, insists that the diversity is a boon. “One of the things we are really looking at in the program is presenting Indonesia in the world, having conversations between Indonesia and elsewhere,” said Mr. Seeto. “This is what museums all around the world would like to be able to do, but their collections don’t allow them to do it.” One early exhibition charts the history of Indonesian art, highlighting the works of Mr. Raden Saleh, a 19th-century Indonesian Romantic painter who lived in Europe for two decades, to demonstrate how Indonesian artistic movements were influenced by international trends. While most of the works displayed at the museum will be from Mr. Adikoesoemo’s personal collection, he has invested in state-of-the-art maintenance facilities that, he said, will allow the museum to show works on loan from international museums around the world. Creating Museum Macan has been a decade-long dream for Mr. Adikoesoemo, whose early attempt to collect art was washed away in the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and 1998, when his family lost nearly everything. He was forced to sell all of his most valuable pieces — including a Renoir and a beloved late Picasso — to keep creditors at bay. “I needed money, so I had to sell all of my Impressionists,” he said with a smile. “The crisis was very tough.” Mr. Adikoesoemo was born into a middle-class family in East Java during the early 1960s, at the height of Indonesia’s political and economic turmoil in the transition to the rule of the dictator MUSEUM MACAN Haryanto Adikoesoemo, founder of the Museum Macan in Jakarta, Indonesia. Suharto. By the time Mr. Adikoesoemo reached high school, though, the political situation had stabilized and his father, Soegiarto Adikoesoemo — who traded in chemicals to local textile and rubber factories — had established a thriving operation. With an eye toward his future in the family business, Mr. Adikoesoemo was sent to the University of Bradford in Britain, where he earned a degree in business management. There wasn’t much discussion of art in the household, and in his youth Mr. Adikoesoemo wasn’t particularly interested in it. “I always wanted to be a businessman from when I was young,” he said. Mr. Adikoesoemo had an awakening of sorts in the early 1990s, when he visited a friend’s villa on the Indonesian resort island of Bali. The friend “had so many artworks on the wall,” Mr. Adikoesoemo said. “His house becomes very colorful, very vibrant, very pleasant, so it makes me think, ‘Maybe I should start collecting art to put on my wall.’ ” Mr. Adikoesoemo began by buying Indonesian artwork, and then in 1996 began loading up on modernist paintings, including a Picasso. But the good times didn’t last long. The Asian financial crisis struck in 1997, sending the Indonesian rupiah’s value plummeting. Mr. Adikoesoemo had encouraged his father to take on debt to expand the business quickly, and the crisis exposed their businesses as deeply overleveraged. His father had told him he was crazy to have invested so much money in Western paintings, but with Indonesian assets valued at next to nothing, the Picasso and Renoir were suddenly among the family’s most valuable possessions. Mr. Adikoesoemo sold the Western artworks as part of a debt-restructuring deal with 28 foreign banks. “At that time, my father was 63 years old, so he said: ‘It’s up to you. If you can solve it, you solve it, it’s yours; if you cannot solve it, there is nothing for you,’ ” Mr. Adikoesoemo remembered. By the early 2000s, with the economy recovering, the younger Mr. Adikoesoemo managed to pay back the debts and restore the family business. He never forgot that Picasso and Renoir had saved his fortune. “I realized art is an investment — when you need money you can still get value from it,” he said. But when he went back to buying art in the early 2000s, prices had skyrocketed, so he switched focus and bought mainly contemporary art. 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MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 | 3 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION COL LEC TION ©Photograph: patriceschreyer.com Villeret BEIJING · CANNES · DUBAI · GENEVA · HONG KONG · LAS VEGAS · LONDON · MACAU · MADRID MANAMA · MOSCOW · MUNICH · NEW YORK · PARIS · SEOUL · SHANGHAI · SINGAPORE · TAIPEI · TOKYO · ZURICH .. 4 | MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION World Myanmar set to erase an entire history SITTWE, MYANMAR Of a stateless minority, an official declares, ‘There is no such thing as Rohingya’ BY HANNAH BEECH He was a member of the Rohingya student union in college, taught at a public high school and even won a parliamentary seat in Myanmar’s thwarted elections in 1990. But according to the government of Myanmar, U Kyaw Min’s fellow Rohingya do not exist. A long-persecuted Muslim minority concentrated in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine, the Rohingya have been deemed dangerous interlopers from neighboring Bangladesh. Today, they are mostly stateless, their very identity denied by the Buddhist-majority Myanmar state. “There is no such thing as Rohingya,” said U Kyaw San Hla, an officer in Rakhine’s state security ministry. “It is fake news.” Such denials bewilder Mr. Kyaw Min. He has lived in Myanmar all of his 72 years, and the history of the Rohingya as a distinct ethnic group in Myanmar stretches back for generations before. Now, human rights watchdogs warn that much of the evidence of the Rohingya’s history in Myanmar is in danger of being eradicated by a military campaign the United States has declared to be ethnic cleansing. Since late August, more than 620,000 Rohingya Muslims, about two-thirds of the population that lived in Myanmar in 2016, have fled to Bangladesh, driven out by the military’s systematic campaign of massacre, rape and arson in Rakhine. In a report released in October, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said that Myanmar’s security forces had worked to “effectively erase all signs of memorable landmarks in the geography of the Rohingya landscape and memory in such a way that a return to their lands would yield nothing but a desolate and unrecognizable terrain.” “The Rohingya are finished in our country,” said Mr. Kyaw Min, who lives in Yangon, the commercial capital of Myanmar. “Soon we will all be dead or gone.” The United Nations report also said that the crackdown in Rakhine had “targeted teachers, the cultural and religious leadership, and other people of influence in the Rohingya community in an effort to diminish Rohingya history, culture and knowledge.” “We are people with our own history and traditions,” said U Kyaw Hla Aung, a Rohingya lawyer and former political prisoner, whose father served as a court clerk in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine. “How can they pretend we are nothing?” he asked. Speaking over the phone, Mr. Kyaw Hla Aung, who has been jailed repeatedly for his activism and is now interned in a Sittwe camp, said his family did not have enough food because officials have prevented full distribution of international aid. Myanmar’s sudden amnesia about the Rohingya is as bold as it is systemat- SERGEY PONOMAREV FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES A makeshift bridge at a refugee camp in Bangladesh, where hundreds of thousands of persecuted Rohingya from Myanmar have crossed in search of shelter. NYEIN CHAN NAING/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY MINZAYAR OO FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES A burning house in Rakhine State, where the Rohingya of Myanmar had long settled. “Soon we will all be dead or gone,” said U Kyaw Min, 72, a Rohingya. ic. Five years ago, Sittwe, nestled in an estuary in the Bay of Bengal, was a mixed city, divided between an ethnic Rakhine Buddhist majority and the Rohingya Muslim minority. Walking Sittwe’s crowded bazaar in 2009, I saw Rohingya fishermen selling seafood to Rakhine women. Rohingya professionals practiced law and medicine. The main street in town was dominated by the Jama mosque, an arabesque confection built in the mid-19th They cannot leave the ghettos without official authorization. In July, a Rohingya man who was allowed out for a court appearance in Sittwe was lynched by an ethnic Rakhine mob. The Jama mosque now stands disused and moldering, behind barbed wire. Its 89-year-old imam is interned. “We have no rights as human beings,” he said, asking not to use his name because of safety concerns. “This is staterun ethnic cleansing and nothing else.” century. The imam spoke proudly of Sittwe’s multicultural heritage. But since sectarian riots in 2012, which resulted in a disproportionate number of Rohingya casualties, the city has been mostly cleared of Muslims. Across central Rakhine, about 120,000 Rohingya, even those who had citizenship, have been interned in camps, stripped of their livelihoods and prevented from gaining access to proper schools or health care. Sittwe’s psyche has adapted to the new circumstances. In the bazaar recently, every Rakhine resident I talked to claimed, falsely, that no Muslims had ever owned shops there. Sittwe University, which used to enroll hundreds of Muslim students, now only teaches around 30 Rohingya, all of whom are in a distance-learning program. “We don’t have restrictions on any religion,” said U Shwe Khaing Kyaw, the university’s registrar, “but they just don’t come.” Mr. Kyaw Min used to teach in Sittwe, where most of his students were Rakhine Buddhists. Now, he said, even Buddhist acquaintances in Yangon are embarrassed to talk with him. “They want the conversation to end quickly because they don’t want to think about who I am or where I came from,” he said. In 1990, Mr. Kyaw Min won a seat in Parliament as part of a Rohingya party aligned with the National League for Democracy, Myanmar’s current governing party. But the country’s military junta ignored the electoral results nationwide. Mr. Kyaw Min ended up in prison. Rohingya Muslims have lived in Rakhine for generations, their Bengali dialect and South Asian features often distinguishing them from Rakhine Buddhists. During the colonial era, the British encouraged South Asian rice farmers, merchants and civil servants to migrate to what was then known as Burma. Some of these new arrivals mixed with the Rohingya, then known more commonly as Arakanese Indians or Arakanese Muslims. Others spread out across Burma. By the 1930s, South Asians, both Muslim and Hindu, comprised the largest population in Yangon. The demographic shift left some Buddhists feeling besieged. During the xenophobic leadership of Gen. Ne Win, who ushered in nearly half a century of military rule, hundreds of thousands of South Asians fled Burma for India. Rakhine, on Burma’s western fringe, was where Islam and Buddhism collided most violently, especially after World War II, during which the Rakhine supported the Axis and Rohingya the Allies. Later attempts by a Rohingya insurgent group to exit Burma and attach northern Rakhine to East Pakistan, as Bangladesh was then known, further strained relations. By the 1980s, the military junta had stripped most Rohingya of citizenship. Brutal security offensives drove waves of Rohingya to flee the country. Today, far more Rohingya live outside of Myanmar — mostly in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia — than remain in what they consider their homeland. Yet in the early decades of Burma’s independence, a Rohingya elite thrived. Rangoon University, the country’s top institution, had enough Rohingya students to form their own union. One of the cabinets of U Nu, the country’s first post-independence leader, included a health minister who identified himself as Arakanese Muslim. Even under Ne Win, the general, Burmese national radio aired broadcasts in the Rohingya language. Rohingya, women among them, were represented in Parliament. U Shwe Maung, a Rohingya from Buthidaung Township in northern Rakhine, served in Parliament between 2011 and 2015, as a member of the military’s proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party. In the 2015 elections, however, he was barred from running. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya were disenfranchised in those polls. Mr. Shwe Maung’s electoral district, which had been 90 percent Rohingya, is now represented by a Rakhine Buddhist. First test of a royal romance: How well she knows Britain LONDON BY KIMIKO DE FREYTAS-TAMURA What did the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284 lay the basis for? Who or what is Vindolanda? Where is the National Horseracing Museum? Name two habits that may start a fight with your neighbor in Britain. These and other rather esoteric questions are what Meghan Markle, the American actress recently engaged to Prince Harry, Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson and the fifth in line to the throne, will have to master in order to become a British citizen. Most Britons, even a prime minister, find them almost impossible to answer. Ms. Markle, who was raised in Los Angeles, plans to seek British citizenship after she marries Prince Harry, Kensington Palace has confirmed. It is a lengthy process that culminates in a torturous citizenship test that costs about $65 and is typically flunked by one-third to half of the applicants. The announcement prompted some British news outlets to pounce on her apparent ignorance of “Britishisms” on a television show last year. “She only managed to get a measly four out of 15 questions about Britain right,” The Mirror, a tabloid, said disapprovingly, adding that she did not know the British word for “sidewalk” and committed a cultural faux pas by venturing that Vegemite was more popular than Marmite. (The word is “pavement,” and Marmite, a yeasty paste spread for bread, is a national treasure. Vegemite is the Australian equivalent.) The citizenship exam “is really hard,” said Julian Knight, a member of Parliament and the author of “The British Citi- zenship Test for Dummies.” “We have a really long history, and it could be really difficult to recall everything,” he said. Ms. Markle has “got to be swotting,” he added, using British slang that, as she will some day come to understand, means “to study assiduously.” She is refreshingly open about how little she knows about her future adoptive country, let alone its royal family. In her first interview with Prince Harry, shortly after their engagement was announced last week, Ms. Markle confessed that she had not been wholly aware of her fiancé’s royal lineage before meeting him. A mutual friend had set the pair up on a blind date, she said, adding, “The only thing I asked her was, ‘Was he nice?’ ” The exam Ms. Markle will take is known officially as the “Life in the U.K. Test,” and it is required for anyone settling in the country or seeking to become a citizen (and, therefore, a subject of the queen). Before taking the test, applicants must have been living continuously in Britain for at least five years and must pay an application fee of about 1,200 pounds — that’s $1,600 in the sort of currency Ms. Markle best understands. A spokesman for Kensington Palace insisted that she intended to follow the process the same way as any other “American marrying a British citizen.” Takers of the exam have 45 minutes to answer 24 multiple-choice questions about British traditions, customs and history, all of which are based on information in an official handbook published by the Home Office. Apart from Ms. Markle, there has been a spike of interest in the exam as debates over identity have mushroomed after Britain voted last year to withdraw from the European Union, a The torturous citizenship test to become a Briton is typically flunked by one-third to half of the applicants. POOL PHOTOGRAPH BY WPA Meghan Markle visiting Nottingham, England. Ms. Markle, who was raised in Los Angeles, plans to become a British citizen after she marries Prince Harry. process known as Brexit. That referendum focused mostly on immigration, and many voters who support Brexit say British culture is being diluted because of the bloc’s policy of open borders between member countries. In the 18 months since the critical vote, there has been much soul-searching across the island about what it means to be British. The questions on the citizenship test, many Britons say, do not go far toward settling the issue. In addition, they say, the quiz is unfairly difficult, an assertion that was borne out in a scattershot survey of Britons one recent afternoon that found many struggling to answer sample questions correctly. “A what?” Peter York, a prominent social commentator, exclaimed. “What is the Vindolanda?” “Is that a real question?” he asked, perplexed. “That’s extraordinary.” Mr. York, who blithely describes himself as an English “purebred” (“no Welsh, Scottish or Irish components in me”), found the questions unsettling. “I don’t think I’d be a British citizen,” he said. “If they can keep me out, they can keep anybody out.” (The answer: Vindolanda was a Roman fort just south of Hadrian’s Wall in northern England. Mr. York also got the question about the Statute of Rhuddlan wrong; it led to the annexation of Wales to England.) Mr. York said he preferred that foreigners study Alan Bennett, the prolific playwright; John Cleese, the comedian famed for the “Monty Python” series; and the punk band the Sex Pistols. Gemma Page, 26, said British identity “comes more from ideas like tea and fish and chips.” Her husband, Liam, said British identity “isn’t a matter of how much you know.” Britain “is a mongrel country,” he said. “Take tea and fish and chips. Tea comes from India and chips from Ireland. The only thing we can claim is the fish, and that’s because we’re surrounded by water. Being British is the values you hold. We try to be tolerant. We have free speech.” George Jupe, 87, a Brexit supporter, said being British was a question of feeling. “But what makes you feel it, heaven knows,” he said, taking leave with a lively “Cheerio!” According to a 2014 survey by YouGov, the pollster, more than half of 18- to 24-year-olds and a third of 25- to 39-year-olds failed the citizenship test. Some respondents answered that Hawaii was part of Britain and that National Insurance was used to pay for supermarket home deliveries. Even some members of the Oxbridgeeducated elite have demonstrated some surprising gaps in knowledge of the motherland. In 2012, David Cameron, then prime minister, told David Letterman that “Rule, Britannia!” — a rousing patriotic song often associated with Britain — was written by Edward Elgar. (It was Thomas Arne.) The former leader also admitted to having no idea what Magna Carta, the cornerstone of the British legal and poli- tical system, actually stood for. (It means “Great Charter.”) The test “is pointless,” said Michael Odell, the author of “The ‘Call Yourself British?’ Quiz Book.” He wrote the book because his publisher, a Dutch citizen, was so upset at failing her British citizenship exam that she commissioned him to look into why it was so difficult. The civil servants who come up with the questions are “completely out of touch with applied British history and culture,” Mr. Odell said, as he sat putting together a mock exam designed for Ms. Markle, to be published by a British newspaper the following day. “Whitehall boffins are trying to demarcate areas of knowledge and culture, trying to distill them into British identity, which is kind of amorphous,” he added, using a British term for a nerdish expert. And in spite of an abundance of arcane historical information, Mr. Odell said, there were few questions involving minorities. In one test, he said, there was only one related question: “Who was the first person to introduce curry in Britain?” (It was Sake Dane Mohamed, in 1810, who also brought shampoo to Europe.) A more recent test, however, asked a couple of questions about the Vaisakhi festival, which marks the Sikh New Year, and the Muslim religious holiday Eid al-Fitr. (The answer to two habits that may start a fight with your neighbor in Britain? Putting out garbage bags when it’s not trash day, and keeping an untidy garden.) Whatever the questions, at least three-quarters of them must be answered correctly. “If Meghan Markle can’t get past me,” Mr. Odell deadpanned, “the wedding is off.” .. MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 | 5 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION “We want to make life easier for seniors and include them in today’s society.” Thomas Bergdahl, Vice President of Product Development at Doro, Sweden To the older generation, the technology that was connecting everyone else seemed to be leaving them behind. One company, Doro, made it their mission to reconnect this generation. Using Android’s open-source and flexible nature, Doro completely redesigned the user interface and tailored their smartphones to the needs and behaviours of senior citizens. Watch the mini-documentary about the smartphone that connects generations: g.co/androidstories .. 6 | MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION world A possibility of revenge behind massacre in Egypt CAIRO Residents in Sinai say assault was payback for helping police against ISIS BY NOUR YOUSSEF One day in early November, a small group of elders in a dusty town in the northern Sinai Peninsula handed over three people accused of being Islamic State militants to the Egyptian security forces. It was not the first time — they had handed over at least seven other people accused of being militants in the previous few months. Three weeks later, militants stormed a packed mosque in the town, Bir alAbed, during Friday Prayer, killing 311 people in Egypt’s worst terrorist attack. While the attack was rooted in rising religious tensions between the local affiliate of the Islamic State and the town’s residents, Bedouins who largely practice Sufism, a mystical school of Islam that the militant group considers heresy, the motive appears to have gone beyond the theological dispute. It was payback, residents and officials said, for the town’s cooperation with the Egyptian military, and a bloody warning of the consequences of further cooperation. “I am sure this was an act of revenge,” Gazy Saad, a member of Parliament from North Sinai, said of the mosque attack. “It’s not just about Sufism. They were clearly trying to send people a message.” Bir al-Abed has long been one of the most pro-military towns in Sinai, going back as far as the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, local leaders say. After militants and criminals stormed police stations and seized weapons during the uprising, residents took the weapons and returned them to the authorities in 2014 after they regained control of the area. Hundreds of young men from the area apply for police and military service every year, although they are routinely rejected, local officials say, because the state distrusts Bedouins. “They love the military and the state,” Mr. Saad said. “The terrorists wanted to punish them for this.” No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Islamic State group had singled out the town for destruction, and the attackers carried Islamic State flags. The government has not allowed foreign media into Bir al-Abed, so The New York Times interviewed more than 30 residents, security officials and local political and clerical leaders by phone for this article. Several spoke on the condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals by the militants. New details of the attack also emerged. As the militants began to rake the congregation with machine-gun fire, two boys, ages 10 and 15, cowered in a bathroom stall, listening, petrified, to the screaming and gunfire. After a while, two militants entered the restroom to make sure they had not missed anyone. “How many people did you kill?” one asked, as they kicked open each stall, the boys’ mother said. “A hundred,” the other replied. Just before they reached the stall where the boys were hiding, a third militant walked in and told the others to position themselves elsewhere, the mother said. The boys survived. The attack came after more than a year of escalating tensions between Islamic State militants and the Sufi residents of Al Rawda, a district in Bir alAbed. The campaign began in Novem- MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE — GETTY IMAGES A vigil in Cairo last week for the victims of the Al Rawda mosque attack in Bir al-Abed in the northern Sinai Peninsula, the worst terrorist attack in modern Egyptian history. ber last year with the beheading of a blind, elderly Sufi cleric from the nearby town of El Arish, who was accused of practicing witchcraft. Three weeks later, in an interview published in an Islamic State magazine, one of the group’s commanders in Sinai derided Sufi practices as “sorcery and soothsaying,” and identified Al Rawda and two other predominantly Sufi districts as places the group intended to “eradicate.” Attacks on three Sufi shrines in the district soon followed. “Every time they build one, the militants destroy it,” said Fakri Ismail, whose brother was killed in the attack. “The threats started after that.” The militants began sending text messages to tribal elders and distributing fliers telling people to abandon Sufism and “return to Islam.” They called some residents by phone and threatened to kill them if they did not abandon Sufi rituals like the building of shrines and the worship of saints, which they consider polytheistic. They twice attacked the home of a beloved cleric, Sheikh Hussein el-Greir. And they regularly sent men to the mosque to demand that the imam preach jihad. He refused. Most people were too afraid of the militants to report them, but some of Al Rawda’s elders complained to the police. These complaints were not ignored, but the authorities prioritized other security operations in the area, local officials said. No one thought the militants would attack a mosque, they said. The military had been improving ties with Bedouin leaders across Sinai this year. In October, the Tarabin tribe, one of the biggest in Sinai, announced that it would help the military hunt down Islamic State operatives. Shortly afterward, several residents who were believed to be cooperating with the government in Al Rawda and elsewhere were killed. In November, 14 men from central Sinai were kidnapped and interrogated by the Islamic State over accusations that they had been informers for Egyptian security. At the same time, the Islamic State was in upheaval. As its once vast caliphate in Iraq and Syria crumbled, it was forced to rely more on other franchises, like the one in Sinai, to spread its tactics of sectarian hate and division. The Sinai group, which arose after the Egyptian military overthrew the country’s Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, in 2013, was considered one of its most effective affiliates, responsible for shooting down a Russian jetliner in 2015, killing 224 people. But it had since split into two factions, and this division, according to security officials and residents, may go furthest in explaining the wholesale carnage of the mosque attack. After the group tried and failed to take over a town in eastern Sinai in 2015, the military carried out a devastating air campaign, leaving the group in disarray and sending a weak splinter group west to El Arish. The El Arish group began taking recruits from outside the region — from mainland Egypt as well as neigh- AHMED HASSAN/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY Sufi parishioners inside the Al Rawda mosque a day after militants believed to be affiliated with the Islamic State group stormed it during Friday Prayer, killing 311 people. boring countries like Syria, Sudan and Libya — who had no tribal ties to the Bedouins of Al Rawda. “The attack on the mosque was almost certainly carried out by the El Arish group,” said Ahmed Sakr, a former senior Sinai official and an expert on the militancy there. The main Islamic State Sinai group “would not approve” of the mass killing, he said, “but the Arish people are happy to kill anyone and everyone.” Even in a land tormented by violence, the scale of the attack on the Rawda mosque was stunning. More than two dozen gunmen traveling in five vehicles stormed the mosque when it was at its most crowded, during Friday Prayer, exploding a bomb and then spraying the worshipers with gunfire. Militants positioned themselves outside the mosque and its windows to mow down people who tried to flee. Parked cars were set on fire to hinder escape. The imam who had refused to preach jihad survived by hiding under the bodies of two friends and playing dead, he said. At one point, he said, a militant stood on top of him to make sure he was really dead. After they killed as many people as they could at the mosque, including 27 children, some militants went house to house, killing any man they found. Residents and experts say there may have been another reason for the high death toll. Despite the fact that there are three government security installations within 12 miles of the mosque, ambulances arrived at the scene well before the police and the military forces did, residents and victims said. They attributed the delay to a widespread presumption, even among some security officials, that Egyptian security forces fear armed conflict. Representatives of the police and the military could not be immediately reached for comment. “Regardless of how you look at it, the government could have done more,” Mr. Sakr said. After the gunfire stopped, the boys emerged from the bathroom to find their mother wailing as she flipped over their dead neighbors and friends to search for her husband. She found his body lying over their 5-year-old son. The father, 52, had taken a bullet to the head but apparently saved the child. “We were standing in a sea of corpses,” said the mother, 38. “If it were not for my husband’s body, I would have lost my son. The terrorists can have Al Rawda, Friday Prayer and everything else. We are staying home.” In span of hours, Trump looks ahead, and over his shoulder TRUMP, FROM PAGE 1 had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI,” Mr. Trump wrote. “He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!” And by evening, he was trying to shift attention back to Hillary Clinton. “Many people in our Country are asking what the ‘Justice’ Department is going to do about the fact that totally Crooked Hillary, AFTER receiving a subpoena from the United States Congress, deleted and ‘acid washed’ 33,000 Emails?” he wrote, referring to email messages that Mrs. Clinton’s lawyers deemed unrelated to her government work. “No justice!” The special counsel investigation into Russia’s interference in last year’s election has driven him to fits of anger for months, and his staff could hardly be surprised that he would vent that again. From their point of view, his first comments on Saturday at least were not aimed at investigators. “The Flynn plea is important, too, because it shows that the cracks in the White House front that everyone suspected are real,” said David Greenberg, a presidential historian at Rutgers University. “And they may widen. It seems likely to deepen the sense of siege in the West Wing. That siege mentality can be crippling.” History offers mixed lessons. Watergate obviously destroyed Richard M. Nixon’s presidency and even that of his successor, Gerald R. Ford, who was punished by voters for pardoning him. Pres- TOM BRENNER/THE NEW YORK TIMES The challenge for President Trump will be how to press forward on his agenda without letting the drumbeat of indictments and court hearings consume his presidency. ident Bill Clinton survived being impeached for lying under oath about sexual liaisons with Monica S. Lewinsky only after a Senate trial in which lawmakers opted against removing him from office. Even a less sweeping, less threatening scandal can have a chilling effect on a White House. When Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby Jr., was indicted on a charge of lying to investigators about the leak of a C.I.A. officer’s identity, his colleagues were demoralized. One later called it “the lowest point” of his White House tenure. And it led to deep tension between Mr. Cheney and President George W. Bush over whether Mr. Libby should be pardoned. The key for Mr. Reagan and Mr. Clinton was convincing the public that they were not distracted by the investigations but instead remained focused on doing their jobs and serving the American people. In Mr. Clinton’s case, at least, it was partially an act — while he was able to effectively manage major foreign policy issues even at the height of the impeachment debate, in private he was consumed by the investigation, raged endlessly about his tormentors and at times seemed deeply distracted. Aides found Mr. Clinton absently playing with old campaign buttons, and at a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus, it fell to an adviser to conduct the discussion while the president’s mind drifted off. On another occasion, the head of the World Bank called a top White House official after a meeting with Mr. Clinton to say, “It’s like he isn’t there.” During a visit to the Middle East, an aide noticed Mr. Clinton trying to keep his mind from wandering off by scribbling on a yellow legal pad, “Focus on your job, focus on your job, focus on your job.” Mr. Trump is hardly a model of political discipline, and keeping him focused has been a major preoccupation of his staff from the beginning. Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer overseeing the response to the investigation, has repeatedly urged Mr. Trump to keep quiet about it, with mixed results. John F. Kelly, the retired Marine general serving as White House chief of staff, tries to keep Mr. Trump’s day filled with meetings on policy issues but has yet to tame the president’s Twitter habit. “To be sure, an event like this can be a drain on morale, especially for those who worked with and like General Flynn,” said Shannen W. Coffin, a former counsel to Mr. Cheney. “For the rest of the White House, it’s important not to get dragged down into the Washington speculation game, and that they keep The Flynn plea is important because “it shows that the cracks in the White House front that everyone suspected are real.” their eyes on the ball on the president’s priorities in domestic policy, judicial appointments, national security and the like.” Mr. Coffin pointed to Mr. Kelly, who has enforced more order in the White House, if not on the president himself. “With some internal discipline, which the chief of staff has imposed, there’s no reason this should become all consuming,” he said. Mr. Trump has options for short-circuiting the inquiry that his predecessors might not have contemplated in similar circumstances. Having already fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, Mr. Trump could likewise fire Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, or he could pardon Mr. Flynn or others swept up in the investigation. Either tack would almost surely provoke a bipartisan firestorm and, critics warned, potentially expose Mr. Trump to impeachment proceedings for obstruction of justice. Lawmakers were quick to warn Mr. Trump away from such a course in the hours after Mr. Flynn’s plea. “I think any pardons or any type of shenanigans with this whole process would be very troublesome,” said Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, one of the Democrats considered friendliest with Mr. Trump. Assuming the Senate and House rec- oncile their different versions of the tax cuts and send a final bill to the president for his signature, it will provide a burst of momentum near the end of an otherwise rocky first year for Mr. Trump. What remains unclear is whether he can keep that going. Mr. Trump and lawmakers have just days to agree on spending legislation to avert a partial government shutdown, and even if they fulfill that most basic of governmental responsibilities, there are no easy areas of agreement looming next. The tax cuts presumably will keep the current economic surge going in the short term as markets hit records and Mr. Trump has effectively used his executive power to slash regulations to the delight of the corporate world. But on immigration, infrastructure, health care and other issues, no ready consensus exists even among Republicans, much less across the aisle, for major legislation. Given that, many analysts expect Mr. Trump to continue his practice of instigating polarizing debates over divisive issues, like criticizing kneeling National Football League players or distributing anti-Muslim videos. His advisers harbor little hope of expanding his popular support in the short term and appear mainly intent on holding his base of 35 percent to 40 percent of the public. “To move forward, they are just going to have to hunker down with the lawyers and rally the base,” Mr. Greenberg said. “Unless or until this gets still worse.” Jonathan Martin contributed reporting. .. MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 | 7 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION world Emails dispute picture of aide as a rogue actor WASHINGTON During transition period, call to Russian ambassador tracked by Trump advisers BY MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT, SHARON LAFRANIERE AND SCOTT SHANE When President Trump fired his national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in February, White House officials portrayed him as a renegade who had acted independently in his discussions with a Russian official during the presidential transition and then lied to his colleagues about the interactions. But emails among top transition officials, provided or described to The New York Times, suggest that Mr. Flynn was far from a rogue actor. In fact, the emails, coupled with interviews and court documents filed on Friday, showed that Mr. Flynn was in close touch with other senior members of the Trump transition team both before and after he spoke with the Russian ambassador at the time, Sergey I. Kislyak, about American sanctions against Russia. While Mr. Trump has disparaged as a Democratic “hoax” any claims that he or his aides had unusual interactions with Russian officials, the records suggest that the Trump transition team was intensely focused on improving relations with Moscow and was willing to intervene to pursue that goal despite a request from the Obama administration that it not sow confusion about official American policy before Mr. Trump took office. On Dec. 29, a transition adviser to Mr. Trump, K. T. McFarland, wrote in an email to a colleague that sanctions announced hours before by the Obama administration in retaliation for Russian election meddling were aimed at discrediting Mr. Trump’s victory. The sanctions could also make it much harder for Mr. Trump to ease tensions with Russia, “which has just thrown the U.S.A. election to him,” she wrote in the emails obtained by The Times. It is not clear whether Ms. McFarland was saying she believed that the election had in fact been thrown. A White House lawyer said on Friday that she meant only that the Democrats were portraying it that way. But it is evident from the emails — which were obtained from someone who had access to transition team communications — that after learning that President Barack Obama would expel 35 Russian diplomats, the Trump team quickly strategized about how to reassure Russia. The Trump advisers feared that a cycle of retaliation between the United States and Russia would keep the spotlight on Moscow’s election meddling, tarnishing Mr. Trump’s victory and potentially hobbling his presidency from the start. As part of the outreach, Ms. McFarland wrote, Mr. Flynn would be speaking with the Russian ambassador, Mr. Kislyak, hours after Mr. Obama’s sanctions were announced. SAUL LOEB/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE — GETTY IMAGES Michael T. Flynn, center. President Trump has disparaged as a Democratic “hoax” any claims that he or his aides had unusual interactions with Russian officials. GABRIELLA DEMCZUK FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES K. T. McFarland, an adviser to the Trump presidential transition, made clear in an email exchange that the team was intensely focused on relations with Russia. “Key will be Russia’s response over the next few days,” Ms. McFarland wrote in an email to another transition official, Thomas P. Bossert, now the president’s homeland security adviser. In an interview, Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer handling the Russia inquiry, said there was nothing illegal or unethical about the transition team’s actions. “It would have been political malpractice not to discuss sanctions,” he said, adding that “the presidential tran- sition guide specifically encourages contact with and outreach to foreign dignitaries.” The only problem, Mr. Cobb said, was that Mr. Flynn had lied to White House officials and to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents about what he had told the Russian ambassador. Mr. Flynn’s misstatements led to his firing in February and his guilty plea on Friday to charges of lying to federal agents. With Mr. Flynn’s plea and agreement to cooperate with Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating the Russian election interference, the inquiry edges closer to Mr. Trump. The president tried to persuade the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to drop the bureau’s criminal investigation of Mr. Flynn, and fired Mr. Comey after he failed to comply. Mr. Trump and his aides have suggested that his concern about Mr. Flynn’s potential legal jeopardy was motivated mainly by the president’s admiration for his former national security adviser’s military service and character. But the new details about Mr. Flynn’s Russia contacts underscore the possibility that the president may have been worried not just about Mr. Flynn but also about whether any investigation might reach into the White House and perhaps to the Oval Office. That question will be at the center of any consideration by Mr. Mueller of whether Mr. Trump’s actions constituted obstruction of justice. The Trump transition team ignored a pointed request from the Obama administration to avoid sending conflicting signals to foreign officials before the inauguration and to include State Department personnel when contacting them. Besides the Russian ambassador, Mr. Flynn, at the request of the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, contacted several other foreign officials to urge them to delay or block a United Nations resolution condemning Israel over its building of settlements. Mr. Cobb said the Trump team had never agreed to avoid such interactions. But one former White House official has disputed that, telling Mr. Mueller’s investigators that Trump transition officials had agreed to honor the Obama administration’s request. Mr. Bossert forwarded Ms. McFarland’s Dec. 29 email exchange about the sanctions to six other Trump advisers, including Mr. Flynn; Reince Priebus, who had been named as chief of staff; Stephen K. Bannon, the senior strategist; and Sean Spicer, who would be- come the press secretary. Mr. Obama, she wrote, was trying to “box Trump in diplomatically with Russia,” which could limit his options with other countries, including Iran and Syria. “Russia is key that unlocks door,” she wrote. In his phone call with Mr. Kislyak, Mr. Flynn asked that Russia “not escalate the situation,” according to court documents released on Friday. He later related the substance of the call — including the discussion of sanctions — to a senior transition official, believed to be Ms. McFarland. A few days later, he briefed others on the transition team. Mr. Flynn’s intervention appeared to have a dramatic effect. To the surprise of foreign policy experts, the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, did not immediately respond with retaliatory expulsions of Americans from Moscow. Mr. Trump praised that decision in a Twitter post, writing: “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) — I always knew he was very smart.” It is uncertain how involved Mr. Trump was in the discussions among his staff members of Mr. Flynn’s conversation with the Russian ambassador. Mr. Spicer told reporters on the morning of Dec. 29 that the president-elect would be meeting with his national security team, including Ms. McFarland, that day. A phone call that included Mr. Trump, Mr. Flynn, Ms. McFarland, Mr. Priebus and Mr. Bannon was scheduled for 5 p.m., shortly after Ms. McFarland’s email exchange. It is unclear whether the call took place. Mr. Cobb said that Mr. Trump did not know that Mr. Flynn had discussed sanctions with Mr. Kislyak in the call. After the inauguration, “Flynn specifically denied it to him, in the presence of witnesses,” he said. Some legal experts have speculated that the contacts during the transition between Trump aides and foreign officials might violate the Logan Act, a law that prohibits private American citizens from working with a foreign government against the United States. But the act has not been used to prosecute anyone since the 19th century. Mr. Cobb said the law “certainly does not apply” to a presidential transition team. The day after the president fired Mr. Flynn, he talked about the F.B.I. inquiry with Mr. Comey, the agency’s director. Mr. Comey has said the president urged him to drop the inquiry. “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump said, according to a memo that Mr. Comey wrote immediately afterward. The White House has denied that account. The president fired Mr. Comey in May. Testifying before Congress in June, Mr. Comey declined to say whether the president had fired him to impede the investigation. “I don’t think it’s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct,” he said. “I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that’s a conclusion I’m sure the special counsel will work towards to try and understand what the intention was there, and whether that’s an offense.” Mark Landler and Matt Apuzzo contributed reporting. Debt concerns suddenly take back seat for Republicans NEWS ANALYSIS WASHINGTON BY BINYAMIN APPELBAUM In 2009, almost every Republican in Congress opposed a $787 billion stimulus plan in the midst of an economic crisis because they said it would cause a dangerous increase in the federal debt. “Yesterday the Senate cast one of the most expensive votes in history,” Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, said at the time. “Americans are wondering how we’re going to pay for all this.” Nine years later, during one of the longest economic expansions in American history, almost every Republican in Congress — including Mr. McConnell, now the majority leader — supports a tax plan that is projected to cause an even larger increase in the federal debt. Republicans got to that extraordinary point by a tangled path. First they argued that the tax cuts would stimulate the economy enough to pay for themselves, only to be confronted on Thursday with a report that said the cuts would add $1 trillion to the deficit over a decade. That bad news led to lastminute convulsions and a frantic search for more revenue. But in the end, the political imperative to pass what would be the only major piece of legislation of President Trump’s first year, along with a near-religious Republican belief in tax cuts, overrode their previous concerns about fiscal prudence. All but one Republican senator, Bob Corker of Tennessee, voted for the bill early Saturday. The House and the Senate still have to reach a final agreement on the details, and Mr. Trump has to sign his name, but the Republican Party now stands on the verge of driving up the national debt after spending much of the last decade promising rectitude and criticizing Democrats for profligacy. The legislation reads “as if it were developed for a country whose debt problems have been solved, when in reality debt is the highest it has ever been other than around World War II,” declared the co-chairmen of a bipartisan commission created in 2010 to propose measures for reducing the debt. Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming, and Erskine Bowles, formerly President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, said the current crop of Republicans are avoiding “nearly all the hard choices.” Mr. McConnell has a well-documented history of fretting about the debt. “We’d like to do something about the nation’s biggest problem, spending and debt, which of course is the reason for “The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare for future beneficiaries.” this economic malaise,” he said in 2011. He added that Republicans could not address the problem because they did not control the White House or Senate. Last year, with Republicans in control of the House and the Senate and about to claim the White House, he reiterated his distaste for debt. “I think this level of national debt is dangerous and unacceptable,” Mr. McConnell said. “My preference on tax reform is that it be revenue neutral.” He continued in words that now seem particularly striking. “What I hope we will clearly avoid, and I’m confident we will, is a trillion-dollar stimulus,” he said. “Take you back to 2009. We borrowed $1 trillion and nobody could find that it did much of anything. So we need to do this carefully and correctly, and the issue of how to pay for it needs to be dealt with responsibly.” Last week, the congressional scorekeeper, the Joint Committee on Taxation, reported that the Senate’s tax plan is, in fact, a stimulus plan that costs $1 trillion — the amount it would add to the debt over the next decade even after accounting for its significant economic benefits. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who STEPHEN CROWLEY/THE NEW YORK TIMES In 2011, then-Senator Jeff Sessions and then-Representative Paul D. Ryan criticized a budget plan from President Barack Obama. shepherded the House’s version of the tax bill — which also would add $1 trillion to the deficit over a decade — has assiduously cultivated a reputation for concern about the federal debt. In 2011 he released “The Path to Prosperity,” a budget plan proposing large spending cuts to balance the books. He said fiscal discipline was unpopular but necessary. “What I do know is I can’t look my kids and my constituents in the eyes with my conscience being clear and not know that I didn’t do everything I could to try and fix this problem,” Mr. Ryan said in a 2011 interview with CNBC. In 2013, he said the debt “will weigh down our country like an anchor.” At the time, the federal debt held by investors equaled 72 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. The Republican tax plan could push that to 85 percent by 2021, Goldman Sachs estimated Wednesday, which would be the highest debt ratio since the immediate aftermath of World War II. Republicans are gambling that voters would rather have tax cuts now and worry about debt later. That is certainly the position of the corporate sector, which has abandoned pious expressions of concern about Washington’s extrava- gance in favor of earnest pleas for tax relief. “Passing tax reform is the single most important thing that Congress can do to make American companies more competitive,” Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JP Morgan Chase, said last month. A number of prominent Republicans have defiantly insisted that economic forecasters are wrong about the likely cost of the tax cuts. They say the legislation will cause a surge of economic growth that will allow the government to collect just as much money at lower tax rates. Senator Orrin G. Hatch, the Utah Republican who is chairman of the Finance Committee, dismissed the analysis of the economists Congress employs for that purpose, using techniques he has endorsed, as “curious.” The Trump administration, without offering evidence, continues to insist the federal debt will not rise. Republicans also have long distinguished between deficits caused by spending increases and deficits caused by tax cuts. They argue that tax cuts are good for the economy, and that the resulting problem of larger deficits should be addressed by reducing government spending. “You also have to bring spending under control,” Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said last week. “And not discretionary spending. That isn’t the driver of our debt. The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare for future beneficiaries.” The tax cuts, however, would increase the scale of that challenge. Politicians of both parties also have lost their fear of debt in recent decades. The federal debt has grown much larger than was considered wise or even possible, with few apparent consequences. “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter,” Vice President Dick Cheney said in 2002. Many Republicans take the view that the George W. Bush administration’s tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 proved the same point. But federal borrowing imposes real economic costs, not least the need to make interest payments. It also restricts the funding available to privatesector investors. And experts continue to warn that the United States is on an unsustainable trajectory, particularly because the government has promised benefits to an expanding population of older Americans that will further outstrip tax revenue. “It’s the type of thing that should keep people awake at night,” Janet L. Yellen, the outgoing Federal Reserve chairwoman, told a congressional committee last week. But in Washington, in 2017, such warnings are no longer in vogue. .. 8 | MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION world Republicans race to send tax cuts to Trump Birth in U.S. by recipient of uterus transplant WASHINGTON With few hurdles left, the majority in power is near a landmark moment Procedure is seen offering a source of hope for thousands of women BY JIM TANKERSLEY AND ALAN RAPPEPORT Congressional Republicans, buoyed by the Senate’s approval early Saturday of a landmark tax overhaul, expressed confidence that final legislation would be sent to President Trump by the end of this month. While the tax bills approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate diverge in significant ways, the same forces that rocketed the measures to passage appear likely to bond Republicans in the two chambers as they work to hash out the differences. Republicans passed their sweeping tax overhaul through the Senate just before 2 a.m. on Saturday, two weeks after the House passed its own measure. The Senate vote was 51 to 49, with every Republican but one — Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee — in favor. Senate leaders locked down the necessary votes on Friday with little drama, after making concessions to a few wavering Republicans. The plan to cut taxes by nearly $1.5 trillion has flown through Congress in the month since a bill was introduced in the House, with Republicans united in their belief in the economic power of tax cuts and desperate for a legislative victory to appease restless campaign donors and base supporters. During a news conference after the Senate vote, the majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, expressed little doubt that a consensus plan would soon become law after a conference committee resolved the differences between the two bills. “This is a great day for the country,” Mr. McConnell said. Mr. Trump echoed that optimism, writing on Twitter that “we are one step closer to delivering MASSIVE tax cuts” and that he looked forward to signing a final bill before Christmas. The differences between the measures, though substantial, do not appear troublesome enough to prevent Mr. Trump from achieving that goal, which would be his first major legislative victory. Among the issues that will need to be worked out: Under the Senate bill, tax cuts for individuals would expire at the end of 2025 to mitigate the losses in revenue, and the mandate that individuals obtain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act would be repealed. The House bill does not have these provisions. The two versions also employ different methods to try to prevent multinational companies from shifting profits out of America and into lower-tax countries. In addition, the House bill would set a new 25 percent top tax rate for profits earned by small businesses and other so-called pass-through companies, while the Senate bill would give the owners of those companies a 23 percent de- BY DENISE GRADY TOM BRENNER/THE NEW YORK TIMES Orrin G. Hatch, center, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, with other top Republicans who are hopeful that tax cuts will be signed into law this month. duction on pass-through income, which is taxed at rates for individuals. The House bill would eliminate the alternative minimum tax for corporations and individuals and eventually eliminate the estate tax. The Senate bill would maintain the corporate A.M.T. and trim, but not end, the individual A.M.T. and the estate tax. The Democratic leader in the Senate criticized the plan as “scrawled like something on the back of a napkin.” Still, the bills share much of the same architecture and many core elements. Each would cut the top corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent. Each would eliminate deductions for state and local income taxes, nearly double the standard deduction for individual filers, and reduce individual tax rates. Because of those provisions, both bills are projected to cut taxes initially for the bulk of middle-class taxpayers, yet raise them on millions of other middle-class families. The House bill would preserve a deduction for up to $10,000 a year in state and local property taxes. The Senate bill would, too, thanks to a last-minute change that helped gain the support of Senator Susan Collins of Maine. Mr. Trump, after insisting for weeks that the top corporate rate be cut to 20 percent, signaled on Saturday that it could wind up being a little higher — 22 percent. “It could be 22 when it comes out, but it could also be 20,” he told reporters outside the White House. “We’ll see what ultimately comes out.” Such an increase would give Republicans extra revenue to pay for other tax cuts in the overhaul, potentially easing its path to final passage. Lawmakers and lobbyists will battle furiously over the small details in a consensus bill, but party leaders show little worry that big issues will trip up the plan. Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin said early Saturday that the House would move “quickly” to a conference committee. House members are planning to return to Washington on Monday, a day earlier than planned, to vote to proceed to conference. “Now it’s time to take the best of both the House and Senate bills, make them even stronger in a conference committee,” Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said in a news release on Saturday, “and finalize one piece of legislation that will dramatically improve the lives of Americans for generations to come.” After the Senate vote, some ebullient Republicans seemed to hint that a conference might not even be necessary. “We’ll see,” said Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, when asked if he thought the House might just take up the Senate’s bill. Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, suggested that such a move by House Republicans was possible, but said, “That’ll be a question for House leadership.” A senior administration official, however, said on Friday night that that was not likely to happen. If Republicans do go to conference, the House and the Senate would each need to vote again to pass the package that resulted from those negotiations, before sending the bill to Mr. Trump. If the House were to simply approve the Senate bill, it would head to Mr. Trump straight away. Unable to stop or stall the bill, because Republicans are employing a process that allows them to bypass a legislative filibuster, Democrats were left to fume about the tax plan and the process by which it was speeding toward approval. Democrats charged that the Senate bill had been loaded with last-minute favors for the rich and the well-connected at the expense of the middle class, and complained that the text of the bill had been released only hours before the vote, with handwritten changes scrawled in the margins. Lobbyists saw a list detailing the changes before they did, the Democrats said. “Is this really how the Republicans are going to rewrite the tax code?” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, asked in a floor speech before the vote. “Scrawled like something on the back of a napkin? Behind closed doors? With the help of K Street lobbyists? If that’s not a recipe for swindling the middle class and loosening loopholes for the wealthy, I don’t know what is.” As a group, Democrats seemed resigned to the fact that there was little they could do to stop the tax overhaul from being enacted. “My sense is they may have a conference in name only,” Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Finance Committee, said after the vote. But Mr. Wyden predicted that Republicans would eventually regret their victory. “The American people are going to be stunned when they see what’s really in this,” he said. Lawmakers’ next step may be to slash safety net BY KATE ZERNIKE AND ALAN RAPPEPORT As the tax cut legislation passed by the United States Senate early Saturday hurtles toward final approval, Republicans are preparing to use the swelling deficits made worse by the package as a rationale to pursue their long-held vision: undoing the entitlements of the New Deal and Great Society, leaving government leaner and the safety net skimpier for millions of Americans. Speaker Paul D. Ryan and other Republicans are beginning to express their big dreams publicly, vowing that next year they will move on to changes in Medicare and Social Security. President Trump told a Missouri rally last week, “We’re going to go into welfare reform.” Their nearly $1.5 trillion package of tax cuts, a plan likely to win final approval in the coming days, could be the first step. But their strategy poses enormous risks, not only for millions of Americans who rely on entitlement programs, but also for Republicans who would wade into politically difficult waters, cutting popular benefits for the elderly and working poor just after cutting taxes for profitable corporations. “The way to get at fixing the debt is to feel like everybody is willing to put something on the table,” said Maya MacGuineas, the president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan group. “Once you have one side grab all it could, you’re never going to have the other side show up.” Even if the tax cut incites the kind of economic growth that Republicans advertise, the tax bill will increase the deficit by $1 trillion over 10 years, the nonpartisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation said. And it was passed along sharply partisan lines, offering nothing to Democrats, and leaving them with no obligation or incentive to negotiate cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, the entitlement programs that are driving up spending, but are also the pride of the Democratic Party. For his part, Mr. Trump spent his campaign promising not to cut Medicare and TOM BRENNER/THE NEW YORK TIMES Demonstrators being arrested outside a Senate Budget Committee meeting. Some deficit hawks complain that Republicans have lost any sense of fiscal responsibility. Social Security. And Republicans will probably find, as they did when they failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, that the public rises up to defend the programs they are trying to cut. Whatever political boost the Republicans could get for passing a tax cut could evaporate fast. “Republicans are going to find that Democrats treat this tax bill the way Republicans treated Obamacare — it’s not trusted by people on the other side of the aisle,” said former Senator Judd Gregg, who was chairman of the Budget Committee and a member of the SimpsonBowles commission, a bipartisan group of lawmakers and budget experts that produced a deficit reduction plan in 2010. “It will become a target, a rallying cry, which is unfortunate, because good tax reform, when done right, is not only good for the economy, it’s good for the parties.” Many of the Republicans’ natural allies have criticized the bill for adding to the deficit and not dealing with the costs that were already driving up the government’s red ink. In an op-ed in The Washington Post, the leaders of that 2010 com- mission, former Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming, a Republican, and Erskine Bowles, a Democrat who is a former White House chief of staff, accused the Republicans of “deficit denial,” saying the bill incorporated only “goodies” and virtually no “hard choices.” “Republicans have been telling themselves for years that they wanted to get into power so they could balance the budget, reduce the debt, cut spending and fix entitlements,” Ms. MacGuineas said. “They’ve just made it harder.” For weeks, Democrats and their allies have been accusing Republicans of a “two-step” deceit, warning that they would cut taxes now and then use the increase in the deficit they caused to demand entitlement cuts later. “When you run up the deficit, your next argument will be, ‘Gee, you’ve got a large deficit,’ ” Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a former Democratic presidential candidate, said in an interview. Now Republicans are beginning to acknowledge as much. Mr. Ryan said at a town hall-style meeting last month that Congress had to spur growth and cut entitlements to reduce the national debt. The Republican tax plan, he said “grows the economy.” But, he added, “we’ve got a lot of work to do in cutting spending.” Senator Marco Rubio of Florida was more specific on Wednesday, telling business leaders that the tax cuts were just the first step; the next is to reshape Social Security and Medicare for future retirees. “Many argue that you can’t cut taxes because it will drive up the deficit,” he said. “But we have to do two things. We have to generate economic growth, which generates revenue, while reducing spending. That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future.” The Congressional Budget Office projects that spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will cost the federal government $28.6 trillion through 2027. The tax cut, estimated at nearly $1.5 trillion, makes the problem only mildly worse. But if that trillion-dollar boost to the government’s yawning fiscal hole is comparatively small mathematically, it could add up to much more politically if it keeps Democrats away from the negotiating table. And even if Republicans do not pursue changes to entitlements, the tax bill will trigger pay-as-you-go requirements that Congress cut spending. That would be a particularly big hit to Medicare, which would face a $25 billion cut for the current fiscal year. Groups like AARP, the lobby for older Americans, warn that it would force doctors and hospitals to turn away patients because reimbursements would be cut so drastically. Mr. Ryan and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, released a statement Friday saying that the so-called pay-go cuts “will not happen” because Congress would waive the law, as it has in the past. But they will need Democratic votes to do that, in a climate that is unusually partisan. Regardless of whether Republicans can waive these cuts, David Certner, legislative counsel for AARP, said, “You know they’re going to come back and say, ‘We need to make more cuts to deal with the growing debts and deficit.’ ” Some deficit hawks complain that Republicans have cast away any mantle of fiscal responsibility. Robert L. Bixby, the executive director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan organization that encourages fiscal responsibility, complained of hypocrisy from Republicans who have been clamoring to lift the spending caps that were created by the 2011 Budget Control Act. If the tax cuts do not generate the revenue Republicans are expecting, he predicted, “people will say, ‘No, we’re not getting the growth because we should have cut taxes even more.’ ” The United States is already facing a gloomy fiscal landscape. The federal deficit this year topped $660 billion, despite healthy economic growth, and the national debt now exceeds $20 trillion. Cutting popular benefits for the elderly and working poor poses a risk for Republicans. Janet L. Yellen, the outgoing chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, warned last week that the national debt “is the type of thing that should keep people awake at night.” But Democrats and their allies — and even some usual Republican allies — complain that Republicans are dishonest not to debate changes in spending and tax cuts at the same time. Sharon Parrott, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said Republicans understood how bad it would look to cut food benefits for poor families and health care for the elderly at the same time they were cutting taxes for corporations and the highest earners. “There’s a reason they separate them,” she said. “They think they can get away with it.” But in an election year with high political engagement, she said, “I think it’s wrong to count out the idea that the public will figure it out.” For the first time in the United States, a woman who had a uterus transplant has given birth. The mother, who was born without a uterus, received the transplant from a living donor last year at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, and had a baby boy there last month, the hospital said on Friday. At the family’s request, their name, hometown and the date of the birth are being withheld to protect their privacy, according to Julie Smith, a spokeswoman for the hospital, which is part of Baylor Scott & White Health. Since 2014, eight other babies have been born to women who had uterus transplants, all in Sweden, at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg. A new frontier, uterus transplants are seen as a source of hope for women who cannot give birth because they were born without a uterus or had to have it removed because of cancer, other illness or complications from childbirth. Researchers estimate that in the United States, 50,000 women might be candidates. The transplants are meant to be temporary, left in place just long enough for a woman to have one or two children, and then removed so she can stop taking the immune-suppressing drugs needed to prevent organ rejection. Dr. Liza Johannesson, a uterus transplant surgeon who left the Swedish team to join Baylor’s group, said the birth in Dallas was important because it showed that success was not limited to the hospital in Gothenburg. “To make the field grow and expand and have the procedure come out to more women, it has to be reproduced,” she said, adding that The transplants now are experimental and expensive. within hours of Baylor’s announcement, advocacy groups for women with uterine infertility from all over the world had contacted her to express their excitement at the news. “It was a very exciting birth,” Dr. Johannesson said. “I’ve seen so many births and delivered so many babies, but this was a very special one.” At Baylor, eight women have had transplants, including the new mother, in a clinical trial designed to include 10 patients. One recipient is pregnant, and two others — one of whom received her transplant from a deceased donor — are trying to conceive. Four other transplants failed after the surgery, and the organs had to be removed, said Dr. Giuliano Testa, the principal investigator of the research project and surgical chief of abdominal transplantation. “We had a very rough start, and then hit the right path,” Dr. Testa said in a telephone interview. Both Dr. Johannesson and Dr. Testa said that a large part of their motivation came from meeting patients and coming to understand how devastated they were to find out that they would not be able to have children. Dr. Testa said: “I think many men will never understand this fully, to understand the desire of these women to be mothers. What moved all of us is to see the mother holding her baby, when she was told, ‘You will never have it.’ ” The transplants are now experimental, with much of the cost covered by research funds. But they are expensive, and if they become part of medical practice, will probably cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is not clear that insurers will pay, and Dr. Testa acknowledged that many women who want the surgery will not be able to afford it. Another hospital, the Cleveland Clinic, performed the first uterus transplant in the United States in February 2016, but it failed after two weeks because of an infection that caused lifethreatening hemorrhage and required emergency surgery to remove the organ. The clinic halted its program for an extended period, but has restarted it and has patients awaiting transplants, a spokeswoman, Victoria Vinci, said. The woman who gave birth at Baylor was the fourth to receive a transplant there, in September 2016. The process is complicated and has considerable risks for both recipients and donors. Donors undergo a five-hour operation that is more complex and takes out more tissue than a standard hysterectomy to remove the uterus. The transplant surgery is also difficult, in some ways comparable to a liver transplant, Dr. Testa said. Recipients face the risks of surgery and anti-rejection drugs for a transplant that they, unlike someone with heart or liver failure, do not need to save their lives. Their pregnancies are considered high-risk, and the babies have to be delivered by cesarean section to avoid putting too much strain on the transplanted uterus. So far all the births have occurred a bit earlier than the normal 40 weeks of gestation — at 32 to 36 weeks. .. MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 | 9 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION Business China and U.S. square off over solar panels SAN FRANCISCO January deadline is set for a decision on tariffs that could provoke Beijing BY KEITH BRADSHER With President Trump vowing to get tougher on trade, troubled American makers of products as varied as steel tubing, aluminum foil and washing machines have lined up to ask Washington for protection from foreign rivals. But Mr. Trump’s first big international trade fight could be over solar panels. Major manufacturers in the United States and China, as well as numerous other businesses that buy and use solar panels, are readying for a clash that could begin as soon as January. The solar panel dispute comes at a time when senior administration officials have been signaling their intention to take a much tougher trade stance toward China, where most solar panels are made. The solar panel industry could be Mr. Trump’s first test of whether his harsh language toward China will result in significant trade measures — and whether those moves would help restore American businesses. Factories in China now account for more than two-thirds of the world’s production, up from a negligible share a decade ago. Faced with intense competition, more than a dozen solar companies in the United States have closed factories over the past six years. China’s push to become a major maker of solar panels has driven global prices down close to 90 percent over the past decade, helping international efforts to curb emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases. That has blurred the lines over the pending solar trade fight even within the United States, where American manufacturers are squaring off against American installers and users of the panels. Chinese officials contend that they are helping the world move toward cleaner energy. “Everybody needs the kinds of cheaper panels, not only in China, but ADAM DEAN FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES China’s push to become a major maker of solar panels has driven global prices down nearly 90 percent over the past decade. also the world,” Li Junfeng, a senior Chinese economic adviser and the architect of many of China’s renewable energy policies, said at The New York Times’s Climate Tech conference last week in San Francisco. But American manufacturers say the cheap panels have been unfairly financed by the Chinese government. Chinese manufacturers have benefited from low-cost loans from governmentrun banks. Even some Chinese companies that have struggled with losses and had trouble making loan payments have been able to stay afloat. Such manufacturers in China “are technically insolvent, but they still get capital,” said Mark Widmar, the chief executive of First Solar, a large manufacturer based in Phoenix. Trying new things is hard Economic View S E N D H I L M U L L A I N AT H A N I drink a lot of Diet Coke: two liters a day, almost six cans’ worth. I’m not proud of the habit, but I really like the taste of Diet Coke. As a frugal economist, I’m well aware that switching to a generic brand would save me money, not just once but daily, for weeks and years to come. Yet I drink only Diet Coke. I’ve never even sampled generic soda. Why not? I’ve certainly thought about it. And I tell myself that the dollars involved are inconsequential, really, that I’m happy with what I’m already drinking and that I can afford to be passive about this little extravagance. Yet I’m clearly making an error, one that reveals a deeper decision-making bias whose cumulative cost is sizable: Like most people, I conduct relatively few experiments in my personal life, in both small and big things. This is a pity because experimentation can produce outsize rewards. For example, I wouldn’t be risking much by trying a generic soda, and if I liked it enough to switch, the payout could be big: All my future sodas would be cheaper. When the same choice is made over and over again, the downside of trying something different is limited and fixed — that one soda is unappealing — while the potential gains are disproportionately large. One study estimated that 47 percent of human behaviors are of this habitual variety. Yet many people persist in buying branded products, even when equivalent generics are available. These choices are noteworthy for drugs, when generics and branded options are chemically equivalent. Why continue to buy a name-brand aspirin when the same chemical compound sits nearby at a lower price? Scientists have already verified that the two forms of aspirin are identical. A little personal experimentation would presumably reassure you that the generic has the same effect. Our common failure to experiment extends well past generics, as one recent study illustrates. On Feb. 5, 2014, London Underground workers went on a 48-hour strike, forcing the closing of several tube stops. The Making affected commutthe same ers had to find alternate routes. choice over When the and over strike ended, disregards most people the possibility reverted to their old patterns. But of large roughly one in 20 benefits. stuck with the new route, shaving 6.7 minutes from what had been an average 32minute commute. The closings imposed by the strike forced experimentation with alternate routes, yielding valuable results. And if the strike had been longer, even more improvements would probably have been discovered. Yet the fact that many people needed a strike to force them to experiment reveals the deep roots of a common reluctance to experiment. For example, when I think of my favorite restaurants, the ones I have visited many times, it is striking how few of ABBEY LOSSING the menu items I have tried. And when I think of all the lunch places near my workplace, I realize that I keep going to the same places again and again. Habits are powerful. We persist with many of them because we tend to give undue emphasis to the present. Trying something new can be painful: I might not like what I get and must forgo something I already enjoy. That cost is immediate, while any benefits — even if they are large — will be enjoyed in a future that feels abstract and distant. Yes, I want to know what else my favorite restaurant does well, but today I just want my favorite dish. Overconfidence also holds us back. I am unduly certain in my guesses of what the alternatives will be like, even though I haven’t tried them. Finally, many so-called choices are not really choices at all. Walking down the supermarket aisle, I do not make a considered decision about soda. I don’t even pause at the generics. I act without thinking; I automatically grab bottles of Diet Coke as I wheel my cart by. This is true not only in our personal lives. Executives and policymakers fail to experiment in their jobs, and these failures can be particularly costly. For example, in hiring, executives often apply their preconceived notions of which applicants will be a “good fit” as prospective employees. Yet those presumptions are nothing more than guesses and are rarely given the scrutiny of experimentation. Hiring someone who doesn’t appear to be a good fit is surely risky, yet it might also prove the presumptions wrong, an outcome that is especially valuable when these presumptions amount to built-in advantages for men or whites or people from economically or culturally advantaged backgrounds. For government policymakers, experimentation is a thorny issue. We are right to be wary of “experimenting” in the sense of playing with people’s lives. Yet we should also be wary of an automatic bias in favor of the status quo. That can amount to a Panglossian belief that the current policy is best, whereas the current policy may actually be a wobbly structure held together by overconfidence, historical accident and the power of precedent. Experimentation is an act of humility, an acknowledgment that there is simply no way of knowing without trying something different. Understanding that truth is a first step, but it is important to act on it. Sticking with an old habit is comforting, but one of these days, maybe, I’ll actually buy a bottle of generic soda. Sendhil Mullainathan is a professor of economics at Harvard. The United States has already imposed tariffs on solar panels from China over the past five years, prompting Chinese manufacturers to build vast factories in Southeast Asia. Now, the Trump administration has indicated that it may raise the stakes by authorizing tariffs on all solar panel imports, including those from Southeast Asia. Administration officials have so far allowed two solar panel companies with factories in the United States to ask Washington for tariffs on all solar panel imports. Thanks to a complicated series of maneuvers within the United States system for evaluating trade cases, the Trump administration now has a Jan. 26 deadline to grant the companies’ re- quests for wider tariffs. China opposes the move, which it argues would hurt solar panel buyers. When the Chinese-owned factories in Southeast Asia are included, Chinese panel makers account for about fourfifths of global sales. Solar panel installers, developers of utility-scale solar panel power generation projects and others connected to the industry also oppose broader tariffs. The Solar Energy Industries Association, which represents those groups, contends that the tariffs would destroy more installation jobs than they would protect or create among manufacturers. “If my price goes up, I’m not going to win” orders, Abigail Ross Hopper, the chief executive and president of the Washington-based association, said in a telephone interview. Yet the effects of tariffs are disputed within the industry. Solar panel makers in the United States say higher tariffs would add only modestly to the cost of projects. “That’s still very compelling for any utility,” said Mr. Widmar, of First Solar. Many trade experts predict that the United States will impose tariffs on all solar panel imports, because Mr. Trump has expressed sympathy for industrial workers in the United States and for fossil fuels, while voicing skepticism about the use of renewable energy. If the Trump administration decides to impose more tariffs next month, it could be the first blow in a one-two punch to China on trade, making it even more likely that Beijing might retaliate against American exports. The deadline for the administration to act on possibly imposing tariffs on washing machines from around the world, and particularly from China, comes a little more than a week later, on Feb. 3. Mr. Li, the Chinese economic adviser, contended that China, not the United States, was the country that had proved willing to let market forces determine winners and losers in the solar panel market. Political support in the United States for solar panel manufacturing wilted after a single solar equipment company in California, Solyndra, collapsed in 2011 after obtaining $535 million in Energy Department loan guarantees. .. 10 | MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION business ILLUSTRATIONS BY HEATHER CAMPBELL Lost ice means lost hope for Inuit town to get your calories, but in so doing, you may be losing companionship, solidarity and your sense of self.” Dr. Kirmayer said mental health also depended on eating local food because of an Inuit conception of self, tied to the environment, which he described as “ecocentric.” There is “a sense in which the food ‘becomes you,’ ” he said. Mr. Pottle described hunting and eating wild food — which, by his own accounting, makes up at least 95 percent of his diet — like seal, moose and salmon, as his identity. “It’s who I am,” he said. “It’s something I’ve done all my life.” ON SEA ICE NEAR RIGOLET, LABRADOR Climate change is taking a toll on the mental health of indigenous people BY LIVIA ALBECK-RIPKA Leaning over the handlebars with one knee up on the seat, Derrick Pottle guided his snowmobile between rocks and sheets of gray sea ice before stopping suddenly at the mouth of a bay. “It’s open,” Mr. Pottle said, turning off his machine. Ten yards away, the ice had cracked and opened a dark hole in the water that made it impossible to drive across the inlet. It was Jan. 7, unusually late in the season for Mr. Pottle’s first trip to his winter cabin — a few hours drive by snowmobile from his hometown, Rigolet — over what should have been more than 60 miles of frozen trails and solid ice. Rigolet, a town on Canada’s eastern edge, has no roads leading in or out. Lakes, rivers and streams, if they freeze over, become what the town’s 300 residents call their “highway” — a lifeline to nearby towns and places to fish, trap and hunt. But as the climate has warmed, these ice roads have become unreliable, breeding isolation, and, some studies suggest, elevated mental stress. Mr. Pottle, a 61-year-old Inuit hunter, surveyed the land and water. In a lifetime in the north, he had traveled thousands of miles through blizzards, shot seven polar bears and fallen through sea ice. But this was an unfamiliar landscape. He strode a few yards toward the hole in the ice before turning back to his snowmobile. Pausing, he put his gloves back on his tattooed hands, revved the engine and took off through the spruce trees, searching for another route. A MELTED HIGHWAY Just four decades ago, Mr. Pottle said, he would have crossed the same inlet over ice more than a foot thick in November. Since then, Labrador’s coastal ice has declined by almost 40 percent, making travel treacherous, if possible at all. “It’s a volatile place climatically,” said Robert Way, a postdoctoral fellow at Memorial University of Newfoundland who studies Labrador’s permafrost. This cli- ‘ANOTHER FORM OF COLONIZATION’ matic sensitivity, combined with Arctic amplification — a feedback loop created when reflective ice melts to expose dark ocean water — Dr. Way said, had more than doubled the region’s rate of warming, compared with that of the rest of the world. “And it’s only going to get worse,” he said. Shrubs that thrive in warmer temperatures have sprouted across the tundra and snow cover has diminished, Dr. Way said. Without the ice highway, hunters like Mr. Pottle often have no choice but to drive their snowmobiles through the wilderness. “You can’t get in or out of these communities,” he said. “We’re almost like prisoners.” Attempting the trip to his cabin earlier that winter, Mr. Pottle struck a rock, flipped his snowmobile and had to return home. The next time, the wind was relentless. Mr. Pottle said gales were becoming stronger. “These are the kind of conditions that can kill you,” he said. “The wind can get so severe, you can’t get warm.” While scientists have not established a link between Labrador’s wind strength and climate change, another recent study corroborated locals’ observations. “When it’s something you’ve relied on for your safety, you remember,” Dr. Way said. DEEPER DISTRESS The Inuit have a word for changes they are seeing to their environment: uggianaqtuq. It means “to behave strangely.” But it is not just the weather that’s in turmoil. For the past decade, Ashlee Cunsolo, a public health researcher and director of the Labrador Institute of Memorial University, has seen the disorienting effects of climate change take a toll on the mental health of people along the coast. “When you’re in situations when you’re deeply reliant on the environment, even subtle alternations can have huge ripple effects,” she said. In hundreds of interviews conducted between 2009 and 2014 across five indigenous communities in the Nunatsiavut region of Labrador, including Rigolet, Dr. Cunsolo and her team found that the melted ice, shorter winters and unpredictable weather made people feel trapped, depressed, stressed and anxious and in some cases, led to increased risk of substance abuse and suicidal thoughts. In one town, a woman told Dr. Cunsolo’s team that not being able to get on the land made her feel as if her spirit was dying. In another, a man said, “Inuit are people of the sea ice. If there is no more sea ice, how can we be people of the sea ice?” When Dr. Cunsolo first visited Rigolet in the winter of 2009-10, the air temperature in the region was an average of 12.8 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. It barely snowed, and there was severe wind and freezing rain. Finally, at the end of January, the ice froze over — choppy, sharp and ten weeks late. By April, six to eight weeks earlier than usual, it was gone. In part, the warm winter happened because of a natural atmospheric process called negative Arctic oscillation, but the magnitude, Dr. Way said, could be explained only by a century of warming. What Dr. Cunsolo’s research revealed to be the “largest climatic and environmental shift in living memory” in Rigolet made clear to her what had until that winter played out at a slower rate. “A flood happens, or a Hurricane Kat- rina happens, and people say, ‘Oh, that makes sense that people are traumatized,’ ” Dr. Cunsolo said. When people “are exposed to this ongoing environmental stress, day after day, month after month, that has a tremendous impact.” With less time spent outside, people said they felt “stuck” and “isolated” and some reported increased drug and alcohol use and domestic violence. Men accustomed to providing for their families and communities by hunting and trapping, Dr. Cunsolo’s research found, were particularly at risk. “Hunting and sharing food is not just a way to meet your basic needs but is part of the fabric of social life,” said Dr. Laurence J. Kirmayer, director of McGill University’s social and transcultural psychiatry unit, who was not involved in the research. “You can find another way In 1968, when Derrick Pottle was 11 years old, he and his family moved from Rigolet to Happy Valley-Goose Bay under a federal government program that relocated thousands of indigenous Canadians from remote communities. “Goose Bay was a very, very bad place to be an Inuk,” Mr. Pottle said, recalling systemic abuse and racism. At school, he was forbidden to speak his native language, Inuktitut, and after the move, he said, his parents became alcoholics “overnight.” Climate change provokes a similar sense of displacement, experts say, particularly for hunters. An unpredictable environment means disempowerment. “It’s like another form of colonization,” Dr. Cunsolo said. Experts say that while the stress wrought by climate change may not, on its own, cause mental health problems, it can rekindle past trauma, worsening existing issues with substance abuse, depression and suicide. “We went through some horrible injustices in my family,” Mr. Pottle said, describing how he, too, had at first turned to alcohol but had not touched a drink in 39 years. His brother, he said, was unable to cope. “I know in my heart he committed suicide.” According to a 2016 study published in the American Journal of Public Health, the suicide rate in Nunatsiavut’s indigenous population was more than 20 times as high as that of the general population of Newfoundland between 1993 and 2009, and even higher among youths. Harlie Pottle, Mr. Pottle’s 18-year-old Derrick Pottle, a lifelong resident of Labrador. He said the lack of sea ice had made some communities impossible to reach: “We’re almost like prisoners.” niece, said driving her snowmobile across the frozen sea ice comforted her in difficult moments. “The land is part of me. It felt like I was supposed to be there,” she said. “The future kind of scares me, just thinking about how we’re going to survive.” A HINT OF THINGS TO COME When Dr. Cunsolo first started researching the impact of climate change on mental health, she said there was a misconception that indigenous people — often on the front lines of rising oceans, extreme heat and melting ice — would be the only ones affected. But studies in Australia showed that farmers struggled with extreme weather, and in Ghana that withered crops, dried-up wells and the “loss of beauty” made people sad. PHOTOGRAPHS BY LIVIA ALBECK-RIPKA/THE NEW YORK TIMES Harlie Pottle at Double Mer, near Rigolet. “The future kind of scares me,” she said. “We weren’t around when the asteroid wiped out dinosaurs, but now we have humans in the 21st century who are trying to deal with a change to the world which is unprecedented,” said Glenn Albrecht, a philosopher and former professor at Murdoch University in Australia. He said that language needed to evolve to articulate such profound loss. After witnessing the devastation at Australia’s strip mines, Dr. Albrecht coined the word solastalgia: “a form of homesickness one experiences when one is still at home.” (It comes from the Latin solacium, meaning “comfort” and the ancient Greek root algia meaning “pain.”) Dr. Albrecht said the anxiety people felt about climate change was perfectly rational. What’s disordered, he said, “is the world that is causing you to feel that way.” The experience of those on the front lines, Dr. Cunsolo said, was merely an indication of what was coming. “All humans, whether we want to admit it or not, are impacted by the natural environment,” she said. Mr. Pottle, for his part, is learning, painfully, to adapt. Blocked by the open water of the bay, he aimed his snowmobile along a path of low willow seedlings and mosses. Miles on, he would reach the tundra, where, in the distance, his red cabin sat against a white backdrop of sky and land. Heather Campbell is an Inuit artist originally from Rigolet. .. MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 | 11 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION business Rural China is primed for a boom CHINA, FROM PAGE 1 “We do expect them to catch up, to narrow the income gap with the large cities,” Mr. Xing said. Businesses are looking at such areas in a new light. New highways and highspeed railways make relocating factories and other operations into smaller cities easier, allowing companies to take advantage of their lower costs. Industrial output in Yancheng expanded more quickly than the national rate last year. The gains are not limited to the hinterland’s main towns. Farms are becoming bigger, more efficient and more lucrative. In Xinling, a nearby village, Luo Jianhai, 37, is typical of a new breed of farmer-entrepreneur. He has steadily expanded the farm where he tills rice and wheat by renting land from his neighbors. He also invested in two new tractors, which he lends out to other farmers who need them to work their own larger plots. Over the past three years his annual income has increased seven times, to $100,000, and his spending has quadrupled, mainly on higherquality clothing for his three children and a new, $17,000 car from a General Motors joint venture. His improved lifestyle, Mr. Luo said, “is the difference between being poor and having money.” Nearby, Cheng Zhiguo, 47, also enlarged his farm this year, increasing his net income to about $23,000 — five times as much as just three years ago. His reward: his first car, a Hyundai, bought in August. Such change is luring urban entrepreneurs such as Zhou Jian. Mr. Zhou, a 33-year-old resident of Nanjing, a major city in eastern China, figured that large-scale farming would also need more money. In 2013, he founded Nongfenqi E-Commerce Company, which helps arrange loans for farming families from banks and other lenders. Nongfenqi has since arranged about $150 million in loans, opened more than 100 offices spread around rural China and hired 800 employees. “The upgrading of the market allows businesses like us to serve these big farmers,” Mr. Zhou said. Such opportunity has attracted JD.com. Over the past three years, JD.com has more than doubled its army of delivery people, many aimed at reaching into rural towns and villages. “Building a rural logistics network is one of our most important strategies,” PHOTOGRAPHS BY YUYANG LIU FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES Clockwise from above left: Deliverymen for JD.com sorting packages in Liangduo, China; Luo Jianhai expanded the amount of land he tills, then quadrupled his spending; Cui Xiaokai bought energy drinks and oatmeal online. said Wang Hui, JD.com’s head of delivery services. “With consumption developing in rural areas, we hope we can catch this opportunity to expand our business.” That chilly morning in Liangduo, where the delivery station opened last year, a giant JD.com truck squeezed down a cluttered central street to disgorge hundreds of packages, which were sorted and carried to customers by nine full-time delivery personnel. The station is intended to help introduce residents to e-commerce. Next door, a merchant transformed his appliance shop into a JD.com outlet, where farmers, often unfamiliar with e-commerce, can test products available online and place orders. The delivery station “is not just a logistics center,” said the JD.com manager in Liangduo, Ye Huanglong. “Anyone can come in and ask questions.” Not all rural regions are advancing as quickly as Liangduo. Hu Binchuan, deputy researcher at the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, fears companies may discover, at least for now, that their profits from countryside customers do not match their efforts to chase them. “Most rural areas are not that successful yet,” he said. “E-commerce platforms won’t be able to copy their success in cities to rural regions.” The future, though, holds promise. One of Mr. Han’s first stops is at the home of Han Aifeng, a farmer. She ordered cartons of milk, which, she said, make for a convenient refreshment when she tends her fish-farming ponds. The milk is among China’s most expensive brands, but Ms. Han, 64, can now afford it. Her husband works at a furniture factory, while she has increased the family income by raising crayfish and selling them in the local marketplace. Wary in a Trump economy Wealth Matters PAU L S U L L I VA N Some of President Trump’s least controversial tweets involve boasting about the stock market. It has certainly done well since he was elected a year ago, with the Dow Jones industrial average up more than 30 percent in that time. On Thursday, the Dow hit a milestone when it closed above 24,000 for the first time, prompting Mr. Trump to take to Twitter again. “Stock Market hits new Record High. Confidence and enthusiasm abound,” he wrote. “More great numbers coming out!” Few would have predicted a year ago that the market would do so well. Investors who had the fortitude to stay in have benefited mightily by the increase. But the wary ones put their money in more secure assets. Right before Mr. Trump was elected, I wrote a column on what a Trump presidency would mean for the economy. Most of the people I interviewed were nervous, and they were making defensive moves in their investments — away from equities and into hard assets like real estate — or putting plans in place to weather a downturn. Michael Sonnenfeldt, a New Yorker who made his fortune in real estate, is the chairman of Tiger 21, an investment club for very wealthy people. When I talked to him last year, he revealed the uncertainty investors were facing. “The combination of potential interest rate shocks and a China implosion and the geopolitical situations with Russia, China, Iran, the Middle East, ISIS, and the difficult political situation in the U.S. with the most challenging, strangest presidential election we’ve had in our lifetime — it all adds up to many generic concerns,” he said at the time. So how did the market rocket past expectations, and how should investors plan for 2018? Mr. Trump is not unique among presidents in taking credit for a strong stock market and the broader economy. Most do it, if they can — just as surely as they try to skirt responsibility when there is a slump. But the last 12 months of great returns lack the euphoria a person might expect after an increase in the Dow of nearly 30 percent. Advisers say that is because many individual investors remain afraid that the eight-year bull market is going to collapse, while others struggle to separate Mr. Trump’s harsh political language from the strong fundamentals of American companies. Individual investors are still seeking havens. One of those is bond funds, assets that help defend against a downturn. According to Yardeni Research, money continues to flow into bond funds. “We’ve had a year of record-low volatility, strong returns and strong macroeconomic indicators,” said Michael O’Sullivan, chief investment officer for international wealth management at Credit Suisse. “But politically — we’re in a political recession. People have difficulty squaring the two.” The firm’s global wealth report, released in November, showed that the world had grown wealthier in the last 12 months and not just at the top of the economic pyramid. “The markets are focused very much on the business cycle, which is picking up,” Mr. O’Sullivan said. “That’s been a positive surprise, given how badly many people would have said the economy would have fared.” In other words, the stock market is rising not because of Mr. Trump but in spite of him. “Our view Advisers find continues to be many investors that politicians are not as imporstruggle to tant to investing separate harsh as they would political like investors to language from believe,” said Richard Berneconomic stein, chief execfundamentals. utive and chief investment officer of Richard Bernstein Advisors, an investment advisory firm. “That’s always been our working model.” Mr. Bernstein said corporate fundamentals remained strong. “Corporate profits remain healthy, liquidity remains abundant, and investors generally remain scared of stocks,” he said. If presidential tweeting has not been driving the stock market, what should individual investors look for in equities? Analysts said investors should start by separating the political noise from the signals companies were sending out. For one thing, any corporate tax cut is not necessarily a short-term gain for the stock market. Edward J. Perkin, chief equity investment officer with Eaton Vance, said a tax cut could actually result in a short-term drop in stock prices. Other analysts argue that the prospect of tax cuts ceased being a factor in this rally a few months into Mr. Trump’s presidency, when he and the Republican Congress failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “Corporate tax cuts are not priced into the market, because there is still skepticism toward the legislative process,” said John Lynch, chief investment strategist at LPL Financial. Anthony Roth, chief investment officer of Wilmington Trust, said one difference in his strategy was a plan to use more active managers who pick stocks and to cut passively managed index funds. He said Wilmington Trust’s research showed that active managers were outperforming the market as a whole. Or put another way: The skill that an active manager has is valuable in an environment when tweets about politics and people rattle less sophisticated investors. Today, Mr. Sonnenfeldt said, he and the 580 members of Tiger 21, who have an average net worth of about $100 million, have nearly three-quarters of their money in private equity, real estate and publicly traded stocks. So what could end the stock market’s run? CTBC Bank USA put that question to affluent investors in California, New Jersey and New York, all blue states that would be affected by a loss of deductions for state and property taxes. The poll found that they remained confident about the economic and investment landscape but that they feared a political threat like a conflict with North Korea or a large terrorist attack in the United States. “The only thing we worry about is this geopolitical risk,” said Noor Menai, president and chief executive of CTBC Bank USA. “Nothing gets amplified. Markets take it in stride.” Yet Mr. Menai said seasoned financial services professionals and institutional investors had a distinct advantage over individual investors. “We’ve been through three crises over the past 25 years, and each time the market has reconstructed itself,” he said. “Over time, the insiders such as me have come to understand what the hype is versus what can happen.” But individual investors do not have that knowledge. They still get scared about investing in a rising stock market because they fear it’s going to collapse. When that happens, said Judith Ward, a senior financial planner at T. Rowe Price, she asks clients to focus on what they can control. For example, if they are near retirement and cannot weather a 20 or 30 percent drop in their assets, she said, they should invest more conservatively. “There is anxiety and uncertainty about the political climate, but my sense is people are looking at their personal situation and asking how is all of this going to impact them,” she said. And that, she said, can be summed up in one question: “How long can this bull market last?” I’ll bet you won’t find that answer in a tweet. ANTONIO CANOVA (Possagno 1757 – 1822 Venice) Bust of Caroline Murat (1782-1839) Sister of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) and wife of Joachim Murat (1767-1815) Circa 1813 www.robilantvoena.com In all, the household’s annual income has doubled in the past two years, to about $30,000, and Ms. Han’s spending on food and other goods has increased as well, much of it ordered online. Discarded delivery boxes for pomelo, rice wine and yogurt are stacked on top of old rice hulls in her home’s courtyard. “I used to have to ride an electric bike to the market when I needed to go shopping,” Ms. Han said. “Now people bring everything to my door.” .. 12 | MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION Opinion Save Israel from its government Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition is irrational, bordering on messianic. Ehud Barak For anyone who cares about Israel, this is no time for niceties. What we need now is plain speaking, even pained speaking — and action. For all of Israel’s great achievements in its seven decades of statehood, our country now finds its very future, identity and security severely threatened by the whims and illusions of the ultranationalist government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In its more than three years in power, this government has been irrational, bordering on messianic. It is now increasingly clear where it is headed: creeping annexation of the West Bank aimed at precluding any permanent separation from the Palestinians. This “one-state solution” that the government is leading Israel toward is no solution at all. It will inevitably turn Israel into a state that is either not Jewish or not democratic (and possibly not either one), mired in permanent violence. This prospect is an existential danger for the entire Zionist project. The government realizes that carrying out its one-state plan must entail steps and practices that necessarily clash with Israeli and international Netanyahu law — which is why it has effecelevated fake tively declared news and war on the Sualternative preme Court of facts into Israel, the free press and civil art forms in society, as well Hebrew long as the Israel before those Defense Forces’ terms gained ethical code. any traction This disrespect for the rule in English. of law permeates other aspects of the government, too. It helps to shield the prime minister, his family and his aides from corruption investigations. Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud Party recently introduced legislation that would explicitly forbid the police from recommending indictments at the end of high-profile investigations. To clear up any question about its intentions, the law would apply even to inquiries that are already open — like the one into the prime minister’s dealings. The same inclination toward selfpreservation is evident in Mr. Netanyahu’s capitulation to ultra-Orthodox parties on religious issues, damaging Israel’s crucial relationship with American Jews. That relationship has grown even more strained since Mr. Netanyahu reneged on a deal that would have expanded egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest site. This is a longstanding demand for recognition from Reform and Conservative Jews, who together make up about half of the Jewish-American community. The Middle East is certainly a tough neighborhood. The threats to Israel are real and none can be ignored. Our country, however, has built an “iron wall” of military and economic power that has made us into the strongest player in the region. This accomplishment, together with bipartisan American support, enables Israel to shape its own future. Despite the right-wing government’s actions, there is a broad consensus among Israelis that rests on three pillars. First and foremost, security comes before everything; every Israeli ANTHONY RUSSO understands this. Second, the unity, solidarity and integrity of the people take priority over the unity of the land — namely, the wish to possess the entirety of our historic homeland. Third, the principles of the 1948 Declaration of Independence, which lay out a vision for a democratic Israel based on freedom, justice and peace, are the foundation of our country’s de facto constitution. These pillars should indicate how to proceed toward peace. Accordingly, the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and the “settlement blocs” — suburban communities built just across the Green Line, which include some 80 percent of the total settler population — will remain in Israel no matter what. In any future peace agreement, these areas can be offset by land swaps with the Palestinians. Similarly, overall security responsibility in the West Bank will remain in the hands of the Israel Defense Forces as long as necessary. The entire debate, then, is actually only over the fate of the isolated settlements, fewer than 100 small communities deep in the West Bank, containing around 100,000 settlers. Even if it is not possible to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at this stage — and it probably is not — it is obvious that continued construction in those isolated settlements directly damages Israel’s vital interests. The settlements are a security liability, not an asset. They aim to block the option of a “divorce” from the Palestinians, which the overwhelming majority of Israelis support. Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition claims to support the three pillars of Israeli consensus but the truth is it is determinedly undermining all three. The prime minister degrades our security rather than enhancing it. He prefers a Greater Israel with an Arab majority, violence and division over a united, self-confident Israel with a solid Jewish majority, together facing whatever challenges may arise. He sanctifies the Land of Israel before the People of Israel. And he systematically erodes Israel’s democracy and liberal norms of governance. In the service of this agenda, Mr. Netanyahu elevated fake news, alternative facts and whataboutism into art forms in Hebrew, long before those terms gained any traction in English. His government jeopardizes Israel’s very future, while dividing and inciting us against each other and maligning those abroad who genuinely care about Israel. This must be stopped. O’Keefe and his people use false identities and lies to bring down people who work their butts off to get at the truth. His operation is tax-exempt, under a clause designed to help religious and charitable groups. “At Veritas, we believe that we’re all journalists now,” he said this week. Sure. Your average journalist, laboring in the trenches of tedium at school board meetings, makes less than If facts don’t $50,000 a year. O’Keefe takes a matter, then salary from his a professional nonprofit of more press that tries than five times to deal scruputhat amount, according to a lously in facts 2016 tax filing. is irrelevant. As with Trump’s tweets, the design is to bring everyone into the sewer. If O’Keefe were a lawyer, he’d be disbarred. Instead, he’s protected by the First Amendment that he and Trump are trying to subvert. Trump attacked CNN International this week, joining autocrats, drug cartels and Islamic militants who also hate independent fact-finders. Already this year, 34 journalists have been killed. Last year, 259 of them were imprisoned. This president calls journalists “the lowest form of humanity.” You know who was a journalist? Winston Churchill. Mark Twain. Frederick Douglass. Teddy Roosevelt. Rachel Carson. But here’s the thing. O’Keefe’s fake reporters proved that real reporters have standards. They make mistakes. They issue corrections. They have biases. They’re human. But they take the business of news-gathering seriously. And the Dutch Embassy corrected the mighty president on his hate videos. So in the end, reality will out. You can’t stop a hurricane by calling it a snowflake. You can’t say you won the Masters when nobody has given you a green winner’s jacket on the 18th hole of Augusta National. Well, you can try, and try, and eventually you’ll be led away under escort of people in white coats. has served as Israel’s prime minister and defense minister and as the Israel Defense Forces chief of general staff. EHUD BARAK In the end, reality will win Is there no bottom? We may soon learn that Trump won a gold medal in synchronized swimming. Timothy Egan Whoo, boy. The truth just keeps getting whacked by this gangster White House. The how-low-can-he-go bar keeps falling. Is there no bottom? Not for some time, friends, so hold on. We learned this week that President Trump does not believe his own words on videotape — words that he had earlier acknowledged, in explaining how a star can get away with the type of predatory behavior that has caused everyone but him to get fired. We learned that he endorsed a website that says the pope uses magic to mastermind world events. This, after he gave a thumbs up to a media outlet that claims NASA runs a child labor colony on Mars. We learned that he still believes three million fraudulent voters caused him to lose the popular vote, that no president has accomplished so much in 10 months as he, that Barack Obama is not a citizen of the United States. We may soon learn that Trump won a gold medal in synchronized swimming. This is likely to come from a public servant being paid tax dollars to defend a dog’s breakfast of fantasy. That would be Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House spokeswoman, who crossed a big Rubicon this week. After Trump tweeted out discredited hate videos from a fringe group, he was praised by the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, but condemned throughout Britain. Even the reliably compliant Piers Morgan wrote, “Please STOP this madness and undo your tweets.” When pressed on this, Sanders said, “Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real.” Well, I’ll be cow-kicked. There it is, from the podium that represents the most powerful person on earth: a declarative affirmation that truth does not matter. By that logic, it does not matter if Trump implies that someone he dislikes may have committed murder, because the threat of murder in general is real. Wait — he did that as well, in defaming Joe Scarborough on Wednesday. It used to be that a press secretary would say, “I have no information on that.” Now it’s standard operating procedure to shrug a whatever and wait for Sean Hannity to clean it up on state-run television. That’s what happens when your boss shows signs of dementia. Do you see what they’re doing? If facts don’t matter, then a professional press that tries to deal scrupulously in facts is irrelevant. Everyone is a liar. Welcome to the club. Trump is a hooligan to the Constitution. But he has a gaggle of people being paid very well to help him subvert truth, justice and the American way. One of them just set a spectacular Dumpster fire. That would be James O’Keefe. He runs something with the perfectly Orwellian name of Project Veritas. O’Keefe is a criminal, having pleaded guilty to his part in an attempt to enter a United States senator’s office under false pretenses. You’d think this would ruin him. Nope. Rich people give him money so that he can use fraud to prove that real reporters are just as awful as him. A woman last seen scurrying into the offices of Project Veritas tried to set up The Washington Post with a phony story. The intent was to protect Roy Moore, accused of being a child molester and running for Senate in Alabama. TIMOTHY EGAN, a former national correspondent for The Times, writes about the environment, the American West and politics. .. MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 | 13 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION opinion Argentina’s most sacred drink ARTHUR OCHS SULZBERGER JR., Publisher A.G. SULZBERGER, Deputy 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 HANDS ACROSS THE WATER, THEN A SLAP The ranting of the American president dashed the good cheer from a royal AngloAmerican engagement. No sooner had Britons found some sorely needed trans-Atlantic cheer in the engagement of their prince charming to an American actress than President Trump dashed it all with his baffling retweet of vile anti-Muslim propaganda from a British neo-fascist group. When Prime Minister Theresa May remonstrated, he compounded the insult with a childishly insolent retort. Britain reacted with rare all-but-unanimous fury, with members of Parliament denouncing the president as stupid, racist and even fascist. Obviously this is not how the “special relationship” should be conducted, and, as the Telegraph newspaper said, there’s only one real question: “Why?” After a year of the Trump presidency, we have become accustomed to the regular eruption of his inane, self-pitying, aggressive tweets. But that doesn’t really explain what Mr. Trump was doing Wednesday rummaging through the deceptive tweets of videos posted by a tiny, viciously anti-Muslim group called Britain First, known for staging outrageous provocations against Islamic targets in Britain, and what possessed him to share three of them with his 43 million followers. The justification proffered by the president’s spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, to the effect that the videos expose a real threat, was typically beside the point, which is that the president of the United States was helping spread the propaganda of a hate group. Nobody in Britain was fooled. “I’m very clear that retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do,” declared Ms. May. Parliament held a special debate on the retweet, at which Mr. Trump was excoriated by one member after another, many demanding that a state visit by the president be scrapped. Even Nigel Farage, the euroskeptic who campaigned for Mr. Trump last year, urged Mr. Trump to “Put your hands up, say ‘I got this wrong.’” By contrast, Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, who posted the videos, was so elated that she tweeted: “GOD BLESS YOU TRUMP! GOD BLESS AMERICA!” And still the question, why? Why does the president of the United States embarrass his country, undermine a venerable and critical alliance, insult and alienate all Muslims, including those whose help he needs to fight militant Islam? The retweets could not come at a worse time for Mrs. May, whose struggle to extract Britain from the European Union is postulated in part on the promise of a bilateral trade pact with the United States. Sharing the “Britain First” garbage does serious and totally unnecessary harm to America’s interests and standing in the world. CONGRESS, TIME IS RUNNING OUT The U.S. government could soon shut down for lack of a spending bill, just one pressing issue of greater public interest than cutting taxes. The federal government will run out of money and close its doors this month unless Congress can agree on a new spending bill. That’s one of several important pieces of business, albeit the most pressing, left unfinished during Republicans’ frantic drive to complete a tax bill. Here are some others. ■ Nine million children covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, have been waiting since Sept. 30 for Congress to renew the program. States are struggling to keep the program afloat; on Monday Colorado began sending letters to the families of 75,000 children and pregnant women, warning them that after Jan. 31 they’re on their own. ■ About 700,000 young people born to undocumented immigrants and at risk of deportation await a legislative alternative to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which, thanks to President Trump, is scheduled to end in March. ■ Victims of Western wildfires and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria are still waiting for tens of billions of dollars in additional federal aid promised weeks ago. ■ As opioid addiction continues to kill hundreds of Americans every week, Congress hasn’t approved any significant new money to fight the epidemic. Congress’s priorities are clearly not the public’s. According to a survey last month by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, Americans worry more about the children’s health program, the opioid epidemic, disaster recovery and finding a legal means for young immigrants to stay in the country than they do about the tax bill. Before any long-term deal can be reached on the spending bills, Congress must agree to lift caps on government spending imposed under a bipartisan budget deal reached in 2011. Current law limits military spending to $549 billion and nonmilitary spending to $516 billion, a cut from current levels. Democrats want any increase in military spending to be matched by nonmilitary spending. Many Republicans worry that a government shutdown could damage their chances for re-election next year. Mr. Trump, though, doesn’t seem to get it. He’s said that if the government shuts down, “I would absolutely blame the Democrats.” It is not at all clear that the public would agree. Nor would those Republicans who seem willing to work around their unreliable president. Martín Caparrós Cinthia Solange Dhers is a 53-year-old surgeon who recently bought an apartment in Nordelta, a gated community in one of the most upscale areas of Buenos Aires. But the neighborhood didn’t live up to her high standards, and she shared her disappointment with a friend in a voice message that ended up online. She complained in the message that her neighbors talked too loudly and didn’t put their dogs on leashes. They did not share her “moral aesthetics.” She did not expect to find “beasts, with no education, who yell and drink mate like they would at Bristol beach in Mar del Plata.” It was Dr. Dhers’s reference to her new neighbors’ mate-drinking habits that touched a nerve. Dripping with snobbery, the rant lit up social media and prompted a cascade of news articles and talk-show discussions about the sacred place of mate (pronounced MAH-teh) in Argentine society. Millions of Argentines listened to the recording, mocked it and condemned it. There were calls for mate-drinking protests in Nordelta and Mar del Plata. Mate is an infusion made from a leaf called yerba mate. Small amounts of hot water are poured into a gourd stuffed with the leaves and sipped out with a metal straw. It’s a bitter caffeinated beverage — similar, perhaps, to Japanese green tea — that is said to help regulate digestion. Many people would call it Argentina’s national drink. Dr. Dhers’s haughty rant tapped into tensions around Argentina’s deep economic divide. At least one in four Argentines live below the poverty line. Unemployment and income inequality are high. Yet the wealthy seem to be doing just fine. South Americans have been sharing gourds of mate for thousands of years. When the Spanish arrived, the Guaraní natives — its original drinkers, who have lived mostly in what is now Paraguay — were forced to cultivate the leaves on plantations run by Jesuit priests. It spread throughout the region in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and the lower areas of Brazil. In our passion for mate, however, we conveniently ignore the people from Misiones Province in Argentina, where some 60 percent of mate leaves are cultivated, about 770,000 tons a year. The tareferos, as those who work on the fields are called, often start working at the age of 4. They don’t go to DAVID FERNANDEZ/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY Mate calabash gourds in downtown Buenos Aires. school. Most often they live in shacks with no running water or bathroom. They work 12-hour shifts under the sun and die young. Half a century ago, only the urban poor and people in the countryside would consume mate. In “Todo por la Patria,” a novel set in the 1930s, a self-proclaimed Argentine aristocrat says that mate “is a plague, an authentic plague,” adding: “And they intend to make out of this concoction our national beverage. For God’s sake! Imagine what sort of homeland we’re making with this drink.” Today the drink is found in every household, every office, every school. When I started out as a journalist 40 years ago, most reporters kept a bottle of gin in their desk drawer. Now, instead of alcohol, journalists keep nearby a stash of yerba mate leaves, a gourd, the metal straw and a thermos full of hot water. Well-off people embraced mate as part of a trend of the wealthy appropriating popular habits of lower- and middle-class Argentines. Thirty years ago, wealthy people didn’t get excited about soccer. They didn’t dance the cumbia. Drinking mate would have been outlandish in wealthy social circles. The difference now, like with so many other things, is that the rich drink it in private, the poor in public. Globalization has resulted in the most significant cultural homogenization in history. All over the world, we hear the same music, drink the A haughty rant same fizzy waters and eat the prompted same soft buns discussion filled with about mate’s minced meat. place in society. There are only a handful of foods and customs that remain local. That’s why it’s so extraordinary that a drink from a little tribe along the Paraná River persists. That’s why the passion for mate is so deep, as Dr. Dhers discovered. It’s a bitter drink that no one else drinks, a sharing ritual that we don’t share with outsiders. We like to suck on a little metal rod so that the water we have poured into a little hollow gourd comes back flavored with the brittle leaves. Mate defies the logic of capitalism: It hasn’t grown significantly in popularity around the world, but it doesn’t perish. It has all the elements a product needs to become a myth: an aboriginal history, a natural and distant origin, organic properties, mystery and a unique flavor. But people have tried to market it elsewhere, and it has never taken off. Yet mate continues to thrive in the places where it’s from. The bitterness of its leaves, the warm straw, the sucking noises, the sharing, make it an intimate experience. It’s what we miss the most when we are away from home. There’s nothing as comforting for an Argentine abroad as running into someone who will share some mate. Argentines have put up with so much, we always have, but we won’t stand for a pretentious person looking down on mate. MARTÍN CAPARRÓS, an author and journalist in Madrid, is a regular contributor to The New York Times en Español. This essay was translated from the Spanish by Catalina Lobo-Guerrero. To stop North Korea, act like Israel Nitsana Darshan-Leitner The news last week from the Korean Peninsula about yet another ballistic missile launch was déjà vu all over again. This one had an estimated range of 8,100 miles — long enough to hit Washington, D.C., or anywhere else in the continental United States. President Trump responded with angry tweets, but Kim Jong-un has good reason to be cocky. The strongman knows all too well that a military response is highly unlikely. There are some 8,000 North Korean cannons and rocket launchers aimed at Seoul, in effect holding the approximately 10 million inhabitants of that city hostage. All sides realize that the human and economic costs of another Korean war are simply unfathomable. Several American presidents have tried to persuade the Kim dynasty to abandon its nuclear ambitions, through a combination of sanctions and negotiations. But these efforts have been unsuccessful. In part that’s because the Kim family never ran North Korea like a normal nation. Even in a rogue nation like Iran, the vise of economic embargoes can force hard-liners to change their behavior. Not so with North Korea, which has been able to skirt sanctions and United Nations resolutions because it is run more like a Mafia fief than a state. The North’s criminal empire is vast and global. According to the Strategic Studies Institute, it includes narcotics trafficking and the counterfeiting of United States currency. North Korea has also been accused of the online hacking of bank accounts; the sale of nuclear know-how; black-market arms sales, including scud and other missiles to Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, Eritrea and other nations; and a whole military enterprise set up to steal crypto currencies. This criminal syndicate is run out of North Korea’s mysterious Office 39, a bureau that, according to the Treasury Department, “provides critical support to North Korean leadership in part through engaging in illicit economic activities.” Every cog of the nation’s machinery is mobilized to facilitate the regime’s racketeering: Defectors have described schoolchildren working in poppy fields; they say cash and smuggled goods are brought in on state- AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE — GETTY IMAGES A soldier at the northern border of Israel, which has been relatively quiet for years. owned merchant vessels; and diplomats peddle heroin. Crime is North Korea’s national industry. As in any organized crime entity, the underbosses keep Mr. Kim’s regime afloat. Their loyalty has been bought and paid for with lavish wealth and privilege. So far, these crime bosses have been masterful at circumventing the sanctions that have primarily hurt the enslaved North Korean population. That’s why the United States and its allies ought to take a page from an Israeli playbook and wage financial warfare against Mr. Kim and his cabal. The notion behind using money as a weapon against terrorism belonged to Meir Dagan, a legendary soldier and spymaster who developed the idea in the nascent days of Israel’s fight against Hamas and terror groups supported by Yasir Arafat’s Palestinian Authority. Mr. Dagan rightly believed that money was the oxygen that fueled the groups’ suicide bombing campaign against Israel. If Israeli security services could suffocate the funds that paid for the bloodshed, the attacks would stop. In 1996, Mr. Dagan created a task force code-named Harpoon that mobilized government agencies to focus on the money reaching terror cells from state sponsors and international charities. When Mr. Dagan became head of the Mossad, in 2002, Harpoon became an operational unit inside Israeli intel- ligence. His spies used the same aggressive action and imaginative chutzpah that had made the Mossad a storied force to follow those funds and to go after Mr. Arafat’s millions and the charities around the world that funneled cash into Hamas’s coffers. Harpoon targeted the banks that held accounts belonging to Palestinian terrorist commanders, and the unit encouraged lawyers — including me — to launch suits in United States federal court seeking monetary damages for victims of state sponsors of terror so that countries like Syria, Iran and even North Korea would realize that the costs of blowing up buses outweighed the political ends the carnage hoped to achieve. The combined espionage, military and legal offensive helped end the intifada by making it too expensive to continue. The unit’s greatest success came several years after the intifada, during the Second Lebanon War, when Mr. Dagan urged the Israeli Air Force to destroy the banks where Hezbollah kept its cash. Although Hezbollah, the Iranian-supported Lebanese terrorist group, received hundreds of millions of dollars a year from Tehran, it was a global criminal enterprise involved in everything from cocaine trafficking to stealing cars and money laundering. These activities funded its operaNegotiations tions against Israel and and sanctions against Amerihave not can forces in stopped the Iraq. Kim regime. With the assistance of Financial branches of the warfare of United States the kind the government, Jewish state including the has waged Department of Justice and the against HezTreasury Departbollah might. ment, Harpoon went after Hezbollah’s cocaine business in Venezuela and in Lebanon, as well as its money-laundering activities in West Africa and America. Brilliant operations and cons were carried out against Hezbollah’s captains — operations that ultimately stripped them of the vast fortunes they had assembled over the years. And when the Hezbollah hierarchy was cash strapped, Harpoon targeted the financial institutions that allowed the terrorists to move their cash across continents, ultimately shutting down the Lebanese Canadian Bank, one of the largest banks in the Middle East. It took the Syrian Civil War, and Hezbollah’s enormous military involvement on behalf of the Assad regime on Tehran’s tab, to provide the Party of God with a financial lifeline. But the fact remains that one of the results of Israel’s financial war against Hezbollah has been that Israel’s northern border has remained relatively quiet for more than 11 years. Most military commanders acknowledge that there are very few, if any, feasible solutions to today’s standoff with Pyongyang. The only effective path is to unleash an offensive press against Kim’s inner circle. The United States must take the lead by ramping up a covert campaign against the regime’s criminal enterprises. This effort ought to include a full-court press of dirty tricks, coercion, heavy-handed threats and even direct action, all covert and deniable, against Kim’s financial wizards who handle the finances, dispense the narcotics and hijack Bitcoins. Such tradecraft must also be applied outside North Korea and Asia against the businesses and banks in Europe, South America and elsewhere that enable Kim’s criminal empire to flourish; bankers and businessmen are less likely to have the mettle to resist a late-night visit by men who could ruin their lives. And as North Korea is recognized as a state sponsor of terror, helping groups like Hezbollah with arms and expertise, a numbing slew of lawsuits should be filed seeking damages; those damages will result in the forfeiture of North Korean assets — open and hidden — around the world. Sanctions alone will not work. They have done nothing to stop the missile tests and the saber rattling. Only when the money dries up will the loyalty of the men in Kim’s inner circle be compromised and cut away. The North Korean dictator will then be under enormous pressure to do whatever he can to alleviate the effects of the spies tapping into his cash and control. With full-scale war on the Korean Peninsula as the only other alternative, there isn’t much of a choice. is the president of Shurat HaDin, an Israeli law center that has represented terror victims in lawsuits around the world. She is the co-author of “Harpoon: Inside the Covert War Against Terrorism’s Money Masters.” NITSANA DARSHAN-LEITNER .. 14 | MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION opinion The sterile society Ross Douthat When Bill Clinton survived impeachment, there was a sense among his advocates that they weren’t just defending one philanderer; they were defending sex itself. To be against a president’s dalliances was to be a Comstock, a Babbitt, a pleasure-hating heartland prude. To be for Clinton, as Tara Isabella Burton noted recently in a retrospective piece for Vox, was to be for a dream of sexual sophistication, a Europe-envying vision of perfect zipless adult bliss. Little of that attitude has survived to our own era of grim sexual revelations. Nobody is defending Harvey Weinstein for being “debonair” or John Conyers for having “heat,” as Tina Brown once did with Clinton. Some politiciangropers may outlast the outrage, but the idea that sexual sophistication requires defending pigs from prudes has largely fallen out of fashion. But a slightly different fear, that we’re on a path to criminalizing normal relations between the sexes, has surfaced here and there. In The New Yorker, Masha Gessen warned about a “sex panic” that might “criminalize bad sex and trivialize rape.” In the Los Angeles Times, Cathy Young worried about healthy flirtation disappearing from workplaces entirely. The Matt Lauer revelations inspired Geraldo Rivera to tweet that we might be on our way to “criminalizing courtship.” Like Gessen, I worry about what’s happening in campus rape courts. But my general response to these fears is similar to one offered by Christine Emba of The Washington Post, who argued that stricter boundaries on how you chase a co-worker are a salutary corrective to the pervasive idea that maximal sexual experience is essential to the good life. “If you are a decent person,” she wrote, “a clearer, more boundaried sexual ethic should not frighten you. If not, have you considered that you might be part of the problem?” (In the case of Geraldo, whose self-described sexual history is disgusting, the answer is a decisive yes.) Still, I paused over one line from Emba’s brief: “We won’t die of having less sex . . . Somehow, people will still find ways to meet, mate and propagate the species.” People will, it’s true. But as a society we are actually in some serious trouble on the mating-and-propagation front. When the sexual revolution started, its conservative critics warned it would replace marriage with a divorce-goround, leave children without fathers, and expose women to more predation than before. Versions of these things happened, but over time various After we purge correctives, the Weinsteins feminist and and Lauers, our conservative, mating rituals helped mitigate still need help. their worst effects. Divorce rates fell, sexual violence diminished, teen sex and pregnancy were reduced. In the last few years, even the out-of-wedlock birthrate has finally stopped climbing. The cascade of revelations about powerful men is a continuation of this mitigation and correction process. But so far the process has not substituted successful marriages for failing ones, healthy relationships for exploitative ones, new courtship scripts for the ANDRE D. WAGNER FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES ones torn up 50 years ago. Instead as Weinsteinian or Polanskian excesses have been corrected, we’ve increased singlehood, sterility and loneliness. We’ve achieved the goal of fewer divorces by having many fewer marriages. We’ve reduced promiscuity by substituting smartphones and pornography. We’ve leveled off out-of-wedlock births by entering into a major baby bust. Part of the problem is economic: Everything from student debt to wage stagnation to child-rearing costs has eroded the substructure of the family, and policymakers have been pathetically slow to respond. Last week’s struggle to get the allegedly pro-family Republican Party to include help for parents in its tax reform is a frustrating illustration of the larger problem. But there is also strong resistance to seeing a failure to unite the sexes and continue the species as a problem. If women are having fewer children, it must be because they want fewer children. (In fact most women want more children than they have.) If there are fewer marriages, they must at least be happier ones. (In fact they aren’t.) If the young are delaying parenthood, it must be that they are pursuing new opportunities and pleasures. (In fact the young seem increasingly medicated and miserable.) If men prefer video games and pornography to relationships, de gustibus non est disputandum. A useful counterpoint to these assumptions was provided this week by my colleague Norimitsu Onishi, who wrote about the extraordinary loneliness of old age in Japan, a country that has lived with collapsed fertility and strained relations between the sexes for a generation. Japan’s aging, dying, atomized present is one version of our future — and a not-so-distant one, already visible in late-middle-age despair and elder exploitation. I don’t know what new-old mix of mating rituals and expectations and supports could arrest Japanification. I don’t think either feminism or social conservatism at present have the answer. And I’m sure there is nothing worth saving in the predatory sexual culture currently being put to the torch by victims and journalists. But any moral progress will be limited, any sexual and romantic future darkened, until we can figure out what might be rebuilt in the ashes. Whatever happens next, we’ll help you make sense of it. Newspaper subscription offer: Save 66% for three months. In unpredictable times, you need journalism that cuts through the noise to deliver the facts. A subscription to The New York Times International Edition gives you uncompromising reporting that deepens your understanding of the issues that matter, and includes unlimited access to NYTimes.com and apps for smartphone and tablet. Order the International Edition today at nytimes.com/discover Offer expires December 31, 2017 and is valid for new subscribers only. Hand delivery subject to confirmation by local distributors. Smartphone and tablet apps are not supported on all devices. No longer a terrorist haven Michael P. Dempsey Conventional wisdom holds that withdrawing all or a significant number of American troops from Afghanistan would lead to a Taliban takeover and the creation of a new safe haven for militants bent on attacking the United States. This threat was cited by President Trump during a speech in August where, in laying out his strategy for the war, he asserted that “a hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum which terrorists, including ISIS and Al Qaeda, would fill, just as happened before Sept. 11.” It was also echoed in numerous National Security Council meetings I attended during the Obama administration. But such dire consequences are far from certain. Here are five reasons I believe it’s time to re-evaluate our assumptions about Afghanistan’s potential as a terrorist safe haven. (These views do not reflect the position of the United States government.) First, while the Taliban are resilient enemies who have battlefield momentum and effective control over much of the country, they are far from being able to conquer all of Afghanistan. Their forces remain overwhelmingly outnumbered by the Afghan security forces, and some Afghan units — notably the Special Forces — have demonstrated improved battlefield performance. In addition, the United States and the West would almost certainly continue to offer financial backing, intelligence support and military advice and equipment to the Afghan government even after a drawdown. Therefore, while the Taliban would certainly gain significant ground after an American withdrawal, an outright Taliban victory is far from likely. In fact, the Taliban’s public statements this year have cited a Quranic justification for peace talks and have expressed a desire for reconstruction and development assistance, perhaps reflecting the organization’s recognition that seizing Kabul by force is unlikely and would, in any event, render effective governance virtually impossible. The group’s most important supporters, especially Pakistan, have also become more wary of what a truly empowered Taliban could mean for regional stability, and would probably prefer to follow a more cautious strategy with the group than backing an all-out Taliban offensive to take over the capital. Second, even if the Taliban were to conquer Kabul, would they be willing to host an influx of international terrorists determined to strike the United States? The Taliban leader, Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada, recently marked the Muslim religious holiday of Eid al-Adha by publicly declaring that any area under Taliban control would not be used for bringing harm to other nations. Is that credible? Yes, because Taliban leaders are deeply aware that sheltering Al Qaeda before the Sept. 11 attacks resulted in an American-led invasion that forced them into political exile, killed thousands of their fighters and commanders and eroded their international legitimacy. Taliban leaders also recognize that even with a reduced footprint, the United States military would, if provoked, still be capable of inflicting grievous pain on the group, as evidenced by the missile strike in May 2016 in a remote area of Baluchistan, Pakistan, that killed their leader at the time, Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour. Third, the Taliban and Islamic State dislike each other intensely, so the notion of the Taliban welcoming an Islamic State base in Afghanistan seems implausible. Press accounts suggest that more Islamic State fighters have been killed by the Taliban than by Afghan security forces, and there have been violent clashes between the groups recently in NanEven if the garhar Province United States that displaced hundreds of withdraws Afghan citizens. troops from At the heart of Afghanistan, this enmity is the the Taliban are Taliban’s deep unlikely to host local roots and foreign fighters their focus on determined to nationalist rather attack other than international objectives. countries. The Islamic State’s extreme interpretation — even by Taliban standards — of Sunni Islam and its close adherence to the Wahhabi-Salafist tradition also create tensions. Far from cooperating beyond isolated tactical agreements involving local commanders, the Taliban’s leadership appears much more interested in killing Islamic State loyalists than hosting them. As for Al Qaeda, the core of the group that planned the Sept. 11 attacks and established itself in Pakistan after the American-led invasion has been devastated by American and allied counterterrorism operations. Today the group’s focus is on its affiliates, especially in Syria and Yemen, not South Asia. The remaining terrorists in Afghanistan, often described by the State Department as the reason Afghanistan is a hotbed of international terrorism, are a patchwork of groups focused primarily on local and regional grievances, with thus far no demonstrated ability or intent to operate internationally. Fourth, in the wake of the Arab Spring and the profound instability that has gripped countries from Syria to Yemen, there are ample safe havens where international terrorists operate, devaluing Afghanistan’s utility to them. Why would large numbers of Arab terrorists want to travel to Afghanistan when they have bases nearby? Wouldn’t it be easier and more logical for Islamic State fighters from Iraq or Syria to flee to central and southern Libya, eastern Yemen or the Sinai Peninsula, than to Kandahar? The same logic applies to terrorists from Southeast Asia, the Sahel and parts of sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, it’s clear that Islamic State is trying desperately to cling to a foothold in eastern Syria and along the Iraqi border in the face of tremendous United States military pressure. It is also telling its operatives to remain where they are and to launch attacks from there, especially in Europe. Afghanistan was an attractive terrorist base of operations before Sept. 11, but it simply does not have the same resonance or utility today. Finally, American counterterrorism and homeland defense capacities have improved by an order of magnitude since Sept. 11. The old model of terrorists training unimpeded in Afghanistan and then traveling to the United States to conduct attacks is more difficult to envision. It’s easier to imagine a cell of jihadists with good computer skills plotting against the United States from an apartment in London, Paris or Brussels than from remote parts of Afghanistan. So, what does this mean for American policy? In my view, the latest troop surge will help the Afghan government counter, but not defeat, the Taliban. The additional 4,000 troops — which would bring the United States total to over 12,000 — will also offer a critical morale boost to the government of the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani. But it will do little to break the political stalemate among Afghan factions fighting over the distribution of power. In addition, the deployment of thousands of additional United States troops will most likely bolster the Afghan public’s confidence and potentially help stem the flow of refugees to Western Europe, while allowing the United States to keep a platform from which to conduct operations regionally. These are all worthwhile objectives. But it’s far less certain that a larger United States military commitment in Afghanistan will have much impact on our fight against international terrorists. Given the cost — as much as $40 billion a year — and with the potential for more American casualties, we need to rigorously test our assumptions about the Taliban and the terrorist threat. It is time to clarify precisely what we hope to achieve in Afghanistan. MICHAEL P. DEMPSEY, a career intelligence officer, is the national intelligence fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a government-sponsored position. How to beat populism? Proportion. KRASTEV, FROM PAGE 1 tions and living in a dictatorship where the opposition may never be allowed to win again? Is “normalization” of populists the biggest threat facing Europe, or should we also fear the hysteria of populists’ opponents? And can the forms of resistance that worked against Communist and fascist dictatorships work against the democratically elected illiberal governments of today? History, alas, does not provide many clarifying answers. The memoirs of those who survived the 1930s — Sebastian Haffner’s “Defying Hitler” is a great example — warn against normalizing dictatorships, particularly when new dictators are popularly elected. That makes sense. But there’s a useful counterexample to consider, too: In the 1970s, young leftist radicals were so obsessed with the idea that there were no major differences between Nazi Germany and the postwar German Federal Republic that they made profound errors in judgment and, at times, ended up as terrorists and enemies of democracy. What is the lesson? Drawing the line between democracy and dictatorship requires passion and a readiness to defend one’s values. It also requires a sense of proportion. The task of being in the opposition to the current crop of populist governments is particularly difficult because these populists represent, first and foremost, a triumph of intensity over consistency in democratic politics. Populism thrives when politics become about symbols rather than Today’s populists substance. The don’t aspire to populists’ core voters — in change society. Poland and elseThey want where — will it preserved easily forgive and frozen. their leaders for failing to enact policies or changing their minds. But they will not tolerate their populist crusaders acting like “normal politicians.” And that is why behaving as if we are living in 1930s Germany or 1970s Eastern Europe paradoxically serves the populists’ agenda. Unlike their fascist predecessors, today’s populists don’t aspire to change society. They want it preserved and frozen. They represent resentment against the changes — technological, economic and demographic — of modern life understood as permanent revolution. And the only solution they can offer is destruction. In this respect, the populists of today combine a revolutionary intensity with a very thin ideology. When Piotr Szczesny set himself on fire, he was determined to prevent the normalization of the current regime in Poland, a government that, it seems, he viewed as almost as dangerous as the Communist regime that preceded it. But what he has failed to see is that unlike Communists of the 1970s, today’s populists are not seeking normalization — they fear it. After many months of protests in Poland, support for the government has only increased. The ruling party wants to keep society highly polarized. Fighting the populists by imitating their divisive, high-stakes politics is not the way to beat them. is the chairman of the Center for Liberal Strategies, a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, and the author, most recently, of “After Europe.” IVAN KRASTEV .. MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 | 15 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION Sports No two ways about it? She begs to differ On Olympics BY CHRISTOPHER CLAREY PRAGUE Already versatile to a historic degree on snow, Ester Ledecka had just come from the sand on the day we met in September. “Beach volleyball!” said Ledecka, who definitely does not lack for enthusiasm. Boredom is not an option. Nor is burnout, considering all the varied activities, including windsurfing, that she embraces. But the two sports that should make Ledecka, 22, one of the most intriguing athletes at the Winter Olympics in February are snowboarding and Alpine skiing. Last winter, she became the first person to compete in world championships in both, winning a gold medal in the parallel giant slalom and a silver medal in the parallel slalom in snowboarding at Sierra Nevada, Spain, and also placing in the top 30 in the downhill, combined and super-G in skiing in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Now Ledecka plans to plunge into a much bigger fishbowl by becoming the first athlete to compete in both sports at the Olympics. “If she played golf and tennis at the level she skis and snowboards, she would be a household name in the United States and be on ‘SportsCenter’ every night,” said Ledecka’s snowboard coach, Justin Reiter, a retired American snowboarder and 2014 Olympian. “The winter sports give it a different twist, but it doesn’t take away from the essential. I firmly believe she’s one of the greatest living athletes.” For now, Ledecka is not even the most prominent figure in her own family. Her maternal grandfather, Jan Klapac, was a hockey star: an Olympic medalist in 1964 and 1968 and a member of the Czechoslovak team that defeated the Soviet Union at the world championships in Stockholm in 1969. Ledecka’s father, Janek Ledecky, is a Czech pop music star who has composed successful musicals, including a version of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” It was a hit not only in his home nation, but also in South Korea, the host of the coming Olympics, where Ledecka will presumably be the family’s main attraction. “Things are starting to change a little bit,” said Tomas Bank, Ledecka’s head ski coach. “Two years ago, everyone was saying Ester was the daughter of Janek, but now you are hearing more and more people saying Janek is the father of Ester.” The family, no relation to the American swimming star Katie Ledecky, is resolutely supportive of her dual career. “If my parents, for instance, would not have had the money to support me from the start in both sports, then I would have to choose one, and I didn’t need to do that,” Ledecka said. “I could choose to go these two ways and try to accommodate it as much as I can and make my dreams come true.” Competing in skiing and snowboarding at the highest level is a physical and logistical challenge. Though she works with the same physiotherapist and equipment technician for both sports, she has separate coaching staffs. Reiter, who retired from racing in September, is part of the SG Pro Team, and Ledecka trains alongside male snowboarders, includ- JAVIER SORIANO/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE — GETTY IMAGES snowboard in Copper Mountain, Colo. Last week, she left for Nakiska Ski Area in Canada to work with Bank in preparation for the opening World Cup speed events in Alpine skiing in Lake Louise, Alberta, in early December. She then plans to return to Europe for more ski races in St. Moritz before making a quick transition back to snowboard for the opening World Cup race in parallel giant slalom in Carezza, Italy, on Dec. 14. “It is complicated, and I think every year is more and more complicated,” Ledecka said. “It’s always like in the start of the season we have Plan A and in the middle we have Plan Z, and then we go around the alphabet like three times.” She has had much greater success in snowboarding, where the depth, in her view, is not as great as in skiing. She won the parallel World Cup title the last two seasons and the last two world championships in parallel giant slalom, which will be her only chance for an Olympic medal; parallel slalom has been removed from the program for Pyeongchang, South Korea. As an 18-year-old, she finished in the top 10 in both events at the 2014 Olympics; she narrowly missed qualifying for the Czech Alpine ski team for those Games. But that was before she began competing on the World Cup ski circuit. Her first race was a downhill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, in February 2016. She finished a remarkable 24th. Ledecka is all but certain to compete in both sports in Pyeongchang, if she remains healthy. But the Olympic program is not ideal. Bank considers the downhill her strongest skiing event, but it conflicts with the snowboarding schedule in Pyeongchang. So she plans to skip the downhill, focusing “If she played golf and tennis at the level she skis and snowboards, she would be a household name.” FABRICE COFFRINI/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE — GETTY IMAGES Ester Ledecka at the snowboard world championships, top, and at the Alpine worlds. She wants to be the first athlete to compete in both skiing and snowboarding at the Olympics. ing the Americans Michael Trapp and Robby Burns. Bank is getting help this season from his brother Ondrej Bank, a four-time Olympian who was long the Czech Republic’s top male Alpine skier before retiring in 2016. “There are a lot of people around me,” Ledecka said, laughing. “I am never alone.” Tomas Bank and Reiter said one of the challenges was reining her in during training. “She’s mentally fresh because she’s changing sports, but the biggest problem for Ester is that she’s often really tired, and that can be dangerous if it leads to mistakes on the skis,” Bank said. Funding for Ledecka’s elaborate operation comes largely from sponsors, she said, with the rest coming from the Czech snow sport federations. Her default mode is to plan training blocks of up to three weeks for each sport and then pick her spots to compete in each on the World Cup circuit. When she trained in Chile in the off-season, Bank said, she did not bring a snowboard and focused exclusively on skiing. Last month, she spent two weeks with Reiter training solely on on the giant slalom and super-G before changing herself back into, in her own words, “snowboard girl” to race for a medal in the parallel giant slalom. The sports have significant commonalities and some crossover benefits. Bank said being accustomed to skiing’s greater speeds could make snowboard races feel like “slow motion” for her. “It’s like driving in Germany on the autobahn and then switching to a normal road,” he said. Ledecka reads courses better than many other snowboarders, Reiter said, because she is used to more complex ski courses. “What she brings from snowboarding to skiing is probably a more creative way of understanding how a mountain works, of how a carve works,” Reiter said. “No offense to skiers, but skiing’s pretty easy in terms of carving because you have a bailout. You have two skis, two poles: different ways to save yourself and disperse the force you are creating. In snowboard, you have one edge, and if you blow that edge, you are going down. “But the one thing that makes Ester truly different is Ester. It has nothing to do with her being a world champion in snowboarding or a top-20 skier. It’s just her heart and her head. Basketball didn’t make Michael Jordan special. His ability to bring who Michael Jordan was to basketball made something special.” Shohei Ohtani of Japan is no Babe Ruth. Really. SAPPORO, JAPAN BY SETH BERKMAN Ever since Shohei Ohtani of Japan began capturing the attention of baseball fans in the United States, he has elicited comparisons to Babe Ruth, the largerthan-life slugger who strode across the American landscape nearly a century ago. And why not? Ruth, in the early part of his major league career, was a dominant pitcher with the Boston Red Sox before evolving into an everyday presence in the Yankees’ outfield. No one since then has really done anything like that in the major leagues. Ohtani, 23, meanwhile, has both pitched and hit with distinction as a member of the Nippon-Ham Fighters of the Pacific League in Nippon Professional Baseball. But significantly, Ohtani, in Japan, is not perceived as some Ruthian colossus in the making. Yes, Ohtani, who is expected to make his major league debut in 2018, is considered a standout player here, and a very popular one. But some of the hype surrounding his feats seems to be a largely American phenomenon. “First of all, we don’t call him Babe Ruth,” said Kosuke Sasaki, a teammate of the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka when they played at Komazawa University Tomakomai High School in Hokkaido. He now manages there. “I never heard anyone calling him Babe Ruth.” Actually, some younger Japanese baseball fans would not necessarily know who Ruth was. In any case, said the American-born Robert Whiting, who has spent many years in Japan and has written several books about baseball there, comparing Ohtani to Ruth is misleading. “Ohtani is not going to hit 60 homers,” Whiting said in reference to the singleseason major league mark that Ruth set in 1927 and then stood until 1961, when Roger Maris hit 61. For one thing, Whiting noted, Ohtani — who is listed at 6 feet 3 inches and 189 pounds by Baseball Reference — does not have the imposing physique of a slugger, at least by American standards. For another, the most home runs Ohtani hit in any Japanese season was 22, in 2016, although that number came in only 323 at-bats. “He will probably do better as a pitcher,’’ Whiting predicted. “Playing both positions is probably too much to ask.” A more accurate comparison, Whiting, Sasaki and others said, is to measure Ohtani against Yu Darvish, who, like Ohtani, played for the Nippon-Ham Fighters before moving to the major leagues. Darvish made the switch in 2012 and since then has compiled a 56-42 record as a member of the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Darvish has never been a two-way player, but he, like Ohtani, began pitching for the Fighters at age 18, in 2005. Over seven seasons, he compiled a 9338 won-lost record with a 1.99 earned run average. Ohtani, in five seasons with the Fighters, put together a 42-15 record with a 2.52 E.R.A. Those numbers, similar in how good they are, suggest that Ohtani, if nothing else, should be an effective pitcher in the United States. Eishi Yamagata, who has covered the Fighters for Kyodo News, said he thought the American perception of Ohtani was somewhat overblown, but he believed Ohtani would not feel overwhelmed by pressure to live up to the fanfare he will encounter in the United States. “Even if he gets unfair expectations from American fans, he is a live-and-letlive type of person,” Yamagata said. “He has not changed as a person.” What has changed, apparently, is the way Japanese players who leave for the United States are perceived by the fans they left behind. Hideo Nomo, who pioneered the first wave of Japanese pitchers coming to the majors, was considered something of a traitor when he departed for the United States for the 1995 season. But immediate success with the Los Angeles Dodgers quickly led to Nomo’s starts being broadcast on giant outdoor screens in Japan. Fans became enticed with the possibility that their homegrown stars could challenge the best players in the world. And that sense of general good will in THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, VIA GETTY IMAGES Shohei Ohtani is a starting pitcher who has also hit 22 home runs in a season. Japan now extends to the players who have followed in Nomo’s footsteps, like Ohtani. Kumiko Konno, who was recently shopping at the Fighters’ team store next to the Sapporo train station, wanted to purchase as much Ohtani merchandise as possible before it went out of stock, since items for former players are not easy to come by. She said she had twice traveled to Arizona to watch spring training expeditions by the Fighters and each time had brought Ohtani some chocolates — his favorite, she said. “He’s great at pitching and batting,” said Konno, who is old enough to be Ohtani’s mother and showed a cellphone picture of him signing an autograph for her. “But he’s also cute.” But there is also another word Konno used in reference to Ohtani — “nitoryu,” which refers to the difficult, two-sword technique that is credited to a venerated 17th-century Japanese warrior named Miyamoto Musashi. Other fans said the same thing, including Shigeki Sarodo, a research fellow at Nippon Sports Science University in Tokyo. In other words, being able to both pitch and hit may evoke images of Ruth for American fans but something much different — swords from the 17th century, for instance — in Japan. At play, too, in the different perceptions of Ohtani here and in the United States, may be the ease with which myths arise around Asian players from a distance. When Ohtani, in 2016, hit a long drive that became lodged in a panel in the Tokyo Dome ceiling, it was not all that different from what has occasionally occurred in domed stadiums in the United States. Still, it created a sensation of sorts among American fans. LeiLani Nishime, an associate professor of communication at the University of Washington whose area of research includes Asian-American media representations, said stereotypes of the “mysterious foreigner” remained prevalent in American popular culture. “In Japan, there are many examples of Asian athletes and a whole range of labels and behaviors represented,” Nishime wrote in an email. “In the U.S., we have so few examples that each example is significant and has repercussions beyond that one athlete.” Or, as Sarado put it, “Shohei Ohtani himself is not really mysterious for us.” Nor, it appears, does Japan consider him the second coming of Babe Ruth. .. 16 | MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION sports As World Cup curtain rises, a spotlight on Russia On Soccer BY RORY SMITH MOSCOW Half a million fans — by current, suspiciously optimistic, estimates — will descend on Russia next year for what Gianni Infantino, the FIFA president, has already decreed will be the “best” World Cup in history. Every single fan, he has decided, will have “an amazing experience.” Billions of dollars have been spent on new, or renovated, stadiums to host the finest players in the world: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé. Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, on Friday promised a “major sporting festival of friendship and fair play.” And now, at last, we know how it will all kick off. This great celebration of soccer, this era-defining event, the most watched sporting event in the world, will get underway at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on June 14, with the almost elemental collision of the 63rdand 65th-best teams the planet can offer. Applause rippled across the floor of the hall at the Kremlin State Palace when it was confirmed that Saudi Arabia — officially the weakest of all the teams that had to qualify for next year’s World Cup, according to FIFA’s rankings — would face Russia, officially the weakest of all the teams in next year’s World Cup, in the tournament’s opening game. It might have been relief from the locals in the crowd, of course: There has been no little concern here that Russia’s team is so poor that it might do what the revelations of the ongoing FIFA corruption trial in New York and the allegations of widespread statesponsored doping could not, namely to make Putin regret bringing the World Cup here in the first place. Still, the applause felt odd, misplaced. By almost any measure, Russia-Saudi Arabia is an anticlimax of an opening game: the weakest, in terms of the rankings of the two teams, in World Cup history. It is not the sort of game that lived up to the absurd, gaudy pomp of the ceremony that preceded it, complete with a traditional Russian dance troupe. But it is fitting, given how the rest of YURI KOCHETKOV/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY Friday’s World Cup draw set up welcoming paths for tournament favorites, especially France, Brazil and Germany. The host nation, Russia, also received a favorable draw. the draw panned out. For the first time, FIFA had changed the way the World Cup groups were drawn, pooling teams according to their ranking, rather than on a geographical basis. The move’s main effect was to protect most of the tournament favorites from meeting one another. Indeed, only in two groups are notional heavyweights drawn together: Spain meets Portugal in Group B, while Belgium encounters England in Group G. The prospect of drama in either group, though, was quelled when the identities of their other opponents were revealed. Spain and Portu- NON SEQUITUR All three have precisely the sorts of groups that they would have drawn for themselves: Peru, Australia and Denmark for the French; Serbia, Switzerland and Costa Rica for Brazil; Mexico, Sweden and South Korea in with the reigning champion, Germany. Of all the top seeds, in fact, only Argentina had cause to leave Moscow a little dispirited. Jorge Sampaoli’s team stuttered through qualifying, its fearsome attack blunted surprisingly — and troublingly — easily until Lionel Messi conjured a hat trick in Ecuador to ensure his country’s passage to Russia. Still, its fragile confidence could have done without the prospect of Croatia, Nigeria and Iceland lurking in Group D. That such a lineup could constitute the toughest of all the groups is indicative of the other major change — one not effected, at least directly, by FIFA — that influenced the way the draw played out. Qualifying for this tournament proved, decisively, that there has been a shift in the nature of international soccer. Italy, the Netherlands, Chile and the United States are not here; Iceland, Peru and Panama are. Major nations can no longer coast into the PEANUTS DOONESBURY CLASSIC 1989 GARFIELD CALVIN AND HOBBES WIZARD of ID DILBERT No. 0412 Created by Peter Ritmeester/Presented by Will Shortz (c) PZZL.com Distributed by The New York Times syndicate SUDOKU gal will expect to get past Morocco and Iran; England and Belgium should be too strong for Tunisia and Panama, a World Cup debutante. In the head-tohead games, nobody should suffer a knockout blow. France, Brazil and Germany did even better. It is a convention among athletes and coaches alike that you never risk belittling an opponent — pretty much every coach who faced the news media after the draw uttered some variation on the phrase “there is no such thing as an easy game” — but for those three, in particular, it must have been tempting to break it. World Cup. Smaller countries, with a decent crop of players, a gifted coach, and a sense of purpose, can overturn the odds. The change has made for some wonderful stories over the last two years, but this was its flip side: a tournament short on groups of death and seismic encounters between superpowers. As Gareth Southgate, the England manager, rightly said, it is when the draw is over that “everything comes alive.” It is when fans start to map out where their team will go, and whom it might face in the knockout rounds, when a black-and-white tournament is flooded with color. This is a little different. The 2018 World Cup has the look of a slowburner. The first two weeks will be There has intriguing, rather been a shift in than explosive; some of the international lesser lights will soccer: Major have a moment nations can no to shine. Only in longer coast the latter stages into the World will the fireworks start. FIFA is Cup. unlikely to object to a tournament that, if things go to form, could throw up quarterfinals between Portugal and France, Brazil and England, Spain and Argentina and Germany and Colombia. It is an approach with just one attendant danger. All tournaments hinge on how the host country copes when its team is eliminated. If it loses interest, the event itself can lose some of its fizz. That is a particular risk with Russia, where official support for the World Cup is rooted in a desire to project national pride, and power, to the world. If that wanes, the electricity of the tournament might go with it. “Russia is warm and welcoming,” Infantino said. “Everyone will be able to celebrate football with the Russian people.” The question, apart from what “everyone” means, is how long that will last. So perhaps the applause that greeted confirmation of the opening game was not from the Russians, but from FIFA. Russia is in a group with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay. Not a cakewalk, by any means, but not a Calvary, either. Enough, certainly, to reassure the host that it might not be thrown out of its own party too early. Fill the grid so that every row, column 3x3 box and shaded 3x3 box contains each of the numbers 1 to 9 exactly once. For solving tips and more puzzles: www.nytimes.com/ sudoku Solution No. 0212 CROSSWORD | Edited by Will Shortz KENKEN Fill the grids with digits so as not to repeat a digit in any row or column, and so that the digits within each heavily outlined box will produce the target number shown, by using addition, subtraction, multiplication or division, as indicated in the box. A 4x4 grid will use the digits 1-4. A 6x6 grid will use 1-6. For solving tips and more KenKen puzzles: www.nytimes.com/ kenken. For Feedback: nytimes@ kenken.com KenKen® is a registered trademark of Nextoy, LLC. Copyright © 2017 www.KENKEN.com. All rights reserved. Across 1 Falafel holders 6 Piano technician 11 Start of a countdown 14Food-spoiling bacterium 15 “Remember the ___!” 16 Party card game 17 “Tell me the rumors are false!” 19Kook 20 Revolutionary Guevara 21 Some HDTVs 22 Glowing part of a fire 24 Comprehensive, as a report Answers to Previous Puzzles 27 Put an end to 28 2000 Kevin Spacey/ Helen Hunt film 32 Sounding congested 35 Smash into 1 36 Leave rolling in the aisles boardinghouse window 37 Approximation: Abbr. 38 Oscar-nominated Enya 68 Cowboys’ home song from 2001’s “The 69 D.D.E.’s predecessor Lord of the Rings” 42 Was out to lunch? 43 Apple tablet 45 Dog doc 46 Helped out 48 Offer effusive praise 52 Poe poem that starts “Once upon a midnight dreary,” with “The” 53 Long to have 57 Capital of Oregon 58 Sweetie pie 60 “That ___ lie!” 61 Get older 62Improvise 66 California’s Big ___ Solution to December 2 Puzzle D E B A T E R S D O D O O N A V I S I T A L I N E U N R E N T E D I M P E L S B L E D I O M O N Y A R D I R T L I A B T S E N E N I S E B A N S L E C B S O M A T H I N L E N D E N I O 67 Sign on a O R D E R E D Y O U N G E R G R A C E C U P T R I A G E D I N T A C I D S R O M E O S E N A B L E H O S L U M J A R E O E G A R A N A C M T A T I E N E R D I T O 70 Cheese with holes O L D T I M E R S T I R B A S E L E S S 3 6 7 8 9 10 11 15 18 20 21 24 25 33 26 43 30 31 35 44 23 27 29 38 13 16 22 34 37 12 19 28 32 1 Actor Joe of “My Cousin Vinny” 5 17 “Stranger Things” Down 4 14 71 Actress Winona of 39 36 40 41 45 46 42 47 2 Corporate raider Carl 3 Trifled (with) 48 4 Three-time Frazier foe 5 Take a load off 6 Chinese martial art 49 50 52 51 53 57 58 54 59 61 62 8 Yanks : New York :: ___ : Washington 66 67 68 9 Letters on an ambulance 69 70 71 10 One whose work is on PUZZLE BY ALAN ARBESFELD 11 Popular sandwich order 12 Make a list of 13 Do, re or mi 18 Pretentiously showy 23 Clean Air Act and others 25 Clean Air Act org. 26 It may be read by a psychic 27 Grooming implement 29 Travis of country music 30 Liposuction target 31 Not naturally red-haired, e.g. 32 Singer Diamond or Young 33 Spears at the dinner table 34 “Keep your eyes open!” 39Stratford-upon___ 63 55 56 60 7 Neighbor of the radius the house? E L I T E 2 64 65 40Hankering 56 Harder to find 41 Per person 57 Pageant wrap 44 Drop precipitously 58 Indonesian tourist 47 D.D.E., familiarly 49Lures 50 Bad ones are hard to break 51Rapper-turned-TV actor destination 59 Naval agreements? 63 Like a pitch between the ankles and knees 54 Wicked one 64 “It’s f-f-freezing!” 55 ___ orange 65“Yippee!” .. MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 | 17 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION Culture MARCO UGARTE/ASSOCIATED PRESS MUSÉE D'ORSAY, PARIS ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE — GETTY IMAGES Part of the exhibition “Mexican Red, the Cochineal in Art,” left, at the Fine Arts Palace in Mexico City. At right, images of the insect from which the dye is made are part of the exhibit, as is “The Bedroom,” by Van Gogh, which uses colors derived from the dye. When Europe’s art turned red MEXICO CITY Mexico’s cochineal dye entranced painters and enriched the conquerors BY ELISABETH MALKIN Along with silver and gold, the first ships that sailed from the New World after the Spanish Conquest carried another treasure: a natural dye that produced a red so intense that European artists quickly embraced it as their own. The trade in this dye reaped vast riches for the Spanish crown and supplied the crimson palette that would color the sacred and secular art of Europe for more than three centuries. An exhibition that runs through Feb. 4 at this city’s Palace of Fine Arts, “Mexican Red, the Cochineal in Art,” traces the journey of the color from the highlands of pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica to Europe. There, it became increasingly associated with the projection of power in the 17th and 18th centuries. Cochineal fell into decline in the 19th century, as synthetic dyes were introduced but was sought out later by the Impressionists. Based on a 2014 symposium organized by the museum, the exhibition and its voluminous catalog reflect much of the scholarship around cochineal. “We hope that it has a resonance not just for the works of art,” Miguel Fernández Félix, museum director at the Palace of Fine Arts, said of the show. “We are talking about economics here; we will talk about society and culture.” From the Venetian masters Titian and Tintoretto to van Gogh, who blended it into many shades in dozens of paintings, artists sought out the properties of Mexican red, which is extracted from the tiny cochineal insect. Carmine, van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo in 1885, using another name for cochineal, is the “red of wine and is warm and lively like wine.” The cochineal insect, a small parasite that feeds on the prickly pear cactus, was cultivated domestically in Mexico and Peru in pre-Hispanic times. The female was dried and crushed to extract the red carminic acid, and additives of different acidity produced shades that ranged from light pink to a deep purple. (The dye is still in use.) The dye colored sacred and secular art for centuries. The exhibition begins with a piece of cloth dating to 300 B.C., its red tint still visible. The dye was used in pre-Hispanic illustrated codices and in the codices produced around the time of the 1521 Spanish Conquest. Spanish chronicles of the conquest marvel at the vivid colors of cochineal dyestuff for sale in the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlán, and the first shipment soon left for Spain. By midcentury, as the curator Georges Roque writes in the show’s catalog, cochineal was being transported in bulk to Seville. Because cochineal was the source of a more intense and lasting red than any of the pigments then available, demand soared for it as a dye for sumptuous Eu- ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO Renoir’s “Madame Léon Clapisson” (1883), which pictures its subject on a red chair. The Impressionists revived the use of cochineal in art. ropean silks, velvets and tapestries. Louis XIV ordered the upholstery of the chairs and the royal bed curtains at Versailles to be dyed with cochineal. So rich was the trade that cochineal was second only to silver as the most valuable export from Spain’s American colonies, more profitable than even gold, according to scholars cited by Mr. Roque. He argues that painters rapidly adopted cochineal to “obtain tonalities as rich, as saturated, as brilliant” as the fabrics that dyers were producing in the ports of early modern Europe. The first European work of the show here is Tintoretto’s “Christ Carried to the Tomb,” produced in the 1550s, in which the painter, the son of a Venetian dyer, used cochineal for the dense, almost tactile images of the fabric worn by the mourners. Titian began to use cochineal in his works after the middle of the century, as did Veronese, whose “Martyrdom of Saint Justine” is in the exhibition. Like the Venetians, the painters who adopted cochineal most consistently worked in port cities. Mr. Roque points to Diego Velázquez and Francisco de Zurbarán in Seville, and Rubens, Van Dyck and Rembrandt in Antwerp and Amsterdam. Zurbarán’s “Penitent Magdalene,” from the mid-17th century, shows its subject leaning on a table that is draped with a richly patterned red brocade. In the exhibition, a fragment of similar Spanish brocade is displayed below, vivid evidence of cochineal’s link to both fabric and painting. Velázquez is represented by a portrait of the archbishop Fernando Valdés from the National Gallery in London, in which the subject is framed by a lush red curtain that symbolizes both his spiritual and temporal power. In Mexico, too, the painters of New Spain incorporated cochineal into their work, and the exhibition features several examples, including a luminous “Virgin of Guadalupe,” by Cristóbal de Villalpando, who painted her clothed in deep purple, and his “Marriage of Mary and St. Joseph,” where he draped her in a soft pink dress. The writer Amy Butler Greenfield has described how the Spanish hid the origin of cochineal to help preserve the crown’s monopoly on it. But by the 18th century, there was no shortage of information on its preparation. In Mexico, José Antonio de Alzate, a geographer and naturalist, published an extensive treatise on cochineal, which is also on display, along with his map of Mexico City, marked with the dye. The British, too, were captivated by cochineal, which was used to dye the wool cloth for army officers’ uniforms. As early as 1648, the English priest and traveler Thomas Gage wrote, “The English is like their sun, which is red, and so do and will affect to wear scarlet, as long as any cochineal is found in the Indies.” The English fascination endured: Van Dyck portrayed Prince Charles Louis wearing crimson at the court of Charles I about 1637, and more than a century later, Joshua Reynolds painted Sir James Hodges, a London official, in authoritative red. There was cochineal in J. M. W. Turner’s paint box, which is on display. By then, the dye had lost its association with power. Later, the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists used it to suggest shade and light. A stroke hints at the curve of a muscle in a Cézanne drawing of bathers. Renoir painted Mme. León Clapisson seated on a red chair against a scarlet-tinged wall, perhaps in an oblique reference to the portraits of the past. Van Gogh, more than anyone, explored the properties of cochineal. The show features one of the three paintings known as “The Bedroom,” which he painted at Arles near the end of his life. The cochineal in the original walls and doors, which he described as lilac and violet, and in the warm rose of the floor have faded, but his intent persists. “In short,” van Gogh wrote, “looking at the painting should rest the mind, or rather, the imagination.” DIAMONDS & ALCHEMY A story spanning two continents and centuries of craft, where a core element of the codes of Gabrielle Chanel’s legendary 1932 high-jewelry collection is fused with the artistry of Chanel’s Studio de Création and the expertise of a famed Japanese lacquer master to create one extraordinary collection – Plume de Chanel. NY TIMES.COM/PLUMEDECHANEL .. 18 | MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION culture A hit for all the wrong reasons Filmmaker resigns himself to acclaim based on work that is simply terrible BY SARAH LYALL At the end of “The Disaster Artist,” the novice filmmaker Tommy Wiseau puts on a tuxedo and attends the premiere of his new movie, which he believes is a masterpiece as profound as anything in cinematic history. (He is its director, producer, screenwriter and star.) Unfortunately, the film, “The Room,” is a flatout awful compendium of excruciating dialogue, incoherent plot twists and strangely wooden yet melodramatic acting. The audience is puzzled, then horrified, then delighted, and right before our eyes Tommy (James Franco) has to perform a tricky bit of emotional jujitsu, jettisoning his delusions and accepting that if the public loves his film, it’s only because it is so terrible. That’s the subtext of “The Disaster Artist,” which arrived last week, a based-on-a-true-story movie that also explores friendship, obsession, Hollywood and the rich comedic possibilities of the line “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!” How do you handle it when the movie that you meant to be one thing turns out to be a different thing entirely? “The Room” was made for something like $6 million of Mr. Wiseau’s nebulously obtained fortune. It opened in 2003, in a theater in Los Angeles that he had to rent himself, and made $1,800 its first weekend. But word spread that it was a camp classic — an amalgamation of absurd non sequiturs, continuity problems and characters of dubious motivation who come and go for no particular reason, in the service of a story involving a cheating girlfriend, a betrayed friendship and a lot of scenes of guys tossing around footballs. Now it plays to packed, “Rocky Horror”-style interactive audiences around the world and appears to have made back its investment. At its center is the slight, longhaired, sunglasses-sporting, black-clad Mr. Wiseau, who has spent the intervening years doing two things: promoting the film, and maintaining the carefully constructed aura of mystery that swirls around him as thickly as if it were generated by a Hollywood fog machine. Despite being the subject of the new movie as well as the 2013 book on which it is based (also called “The Disaster Artist” and written by Greg Sestero, Mr. Wiseau’s “Room” co-star and codependent friend, along with Tom Bissell), Mr. Wiseau remains a cipher wrapped in an enigma packaged in a carapace that recalls Keith Richards attending a vampire-themed Halloween party. “People don’t understand me as a person,” Mr. Wiseau said, speaking by phone from Hollywood. He sounds exactly the way Mr. Franco does in the film, with idiosyncratically mangled syntax and a sui generis accent that is vaguely Eastern European, but that he refers to as Cajun. In “The Disaster Artist,” Tommy indignantly refuses to tell Greg (played by Mr. Franco’s younger brother Dave) anything personal about himself, including his age, how he made his money, or why he insists he is from New Orleans when he is so obviously from someplace else. Asked these same questions now for journalistic purposes, Mr. Wiseau remains slightly less vague, but just as irritable. “It’s not important, and No. 2, it’s a personal question,” he said. “Long story short, I grew up in Europe a long time ago, but I’m American and very proud of it. Do you have any questions about the movie?” For years journalists have tried to pin down these specifics, with what appears to be some success; IMDB.com now simply says he was born in Poland in JAKE MICHAELS FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES James Franco, left, above, with the man he plays in “The Disaster Artist,” Tommy Wiseau. Below left, Charlyne Yi, Kelly Oxford, Seth Rogen, Paul Scheer and Dave Franco; right, Sharon Stone and Dave Franco. JUSTINA MINTZ/A24 1955. As for his fortune, he said it came from his leather-jacket and real-estate businesses. The Tommy of “The Disaster Artist” seems just shy of being certifiably crazy. He’s erratic and demanding and grandiose and insecure, all at once. Greg serves as his non-insane foil, remaining relatively normal despite what appears to be his poor judgment in assisting and starring in his friend’s film. It’s hard to understand what drew them together, but, the real Mr. Sestero said, Mr. Wiseau gave him a way to fulfill his dream of becoming a Hollywood star. “I was very much taken with Tommy when I first met him,” he said by phone from Los Angeles. “He represented freedom to me. He was the answer to so many questions I had. I looked up to him and needed him, and that kind of went both ways.” The people involved in the new movie, including James Franco, who directed as well as starred in it, and Seth Rogen, who plays a seasoned script supervisor who clashes with Tommy on the set, have their own fascinations with Mr. Wiseau. Mr. Rogen, who is also a producer of “The Disaster Artist,” has been a fan of “The Room” for years, since the actor Paul Rudd took him to see it. “We became obsessed with it,” he said in a telephone interview. “It is particularly fascinating to comedy people. Most movies that are this catastrophically bad are in a genre that contributes to their failure — like a science-fiction film that didn’t have the budget for what they were trying to do — but this is a character drama that’s really personal. The fact that this guy made all these choices was so strange.” Mr. Rogen and Mr. Franco both put the $64,000 question to Mr. Wiseau: Giv- JUSTINA MINTZ/A24 en how wedded you were to the serious nature of your film, how do you feel about the fact that everyone else finds it so funny? “It takes an incredibly savvy person to answer it in the way he does,” Mr. Rogen said, “which is to validate that people like it in a different way, but talk about it as if they are reacting in exactly the way he intended. It’s a semantical slalom that he navigates extremely well.” Mr. Franco, who won best actor at the Gotham Awards, kicking off Oscar season, added by phone: “Whatever happened to Tommy, there’s something he needed to prove or fill, and he got that from ‘The Room.’” He continued: “Now we’re in the third phase of the Tommy saga. Pre- ‘Room’ he felt he couldn’t depend on anybody, and the film was him trying to wrestle with feelings of rejection he’d had his whole life. And then it came out and he thought he had to maintain this persona of Tommy, and pretend that he had intended it to be comedy. And now there’s this new phase where people are getting to see the other side of him.” “When the movie was shown at South by Southwest, they were cheering on his story,” Mr. Franco went on. “I realized later that it was probably the first time that Tommy heard unironic applause, just for him.” What does Mr. Wiseau say, when you ask him directly? “To respond to your question without avoiding it, I didn’t realize, to be honest, that I’d created something that people would interact with in this way,” he said. “But you as an actor cannot criticize the audience, and the audience is having fun.” He added: “If you have a drama, you can find a comedy. If you have a comedy, you can find the drama.” Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who on his return to San Francisco founded City Lights, which naturally Carrión also visited. At times, “Bookshops” reads like a collection of notes, leaping between topics, comparing discoveries in different countries within a single paragraph, stopping to discuss writers like Julio Cortázar and Roberto Bolaño, recounting the history of publishing from China to Gutenberg, digressing to recall those authors, like Jean Genet, who began their careers by stealing books. All this, while profiling scores of bookstores. Repression is a reality because regimes can know their enemies by what they read and write. Book burning was routine for Spain’s Inquisition and Franco’s dictatorship, as well as for Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zedong and a good many other dictators. Myriad authors have also seen their books banned, from Charles Baudelaire, Joyce, D.H. Lawrence and Henry Miller to Salman Rushdie. The United States is no innocent, Carrión notes, “with the present proscription of books enforced by thousands of bookshops, educational institutions and libraries for political or religious reasons.” Our peripatetic author’s explorations are most enjoyable when he goes beyond such landmarks as Foyle’s in London, the Strand Book Store in New York and L’Ecume des Pages in Paris to less obvious corners, for instance, Antigua in Guatemala. There, La Librería del Pensativo opened in 1987 in the midst of a civil war when “distant shots fired by the guerrillas, army or paramilitary echoed around the volcanoes surrounding the city.” Under its tenacious owner, Ana María Cofiño, Carrión writes, it became a “center of resistance.” Though he is pleased about the new movie, he takes issue with Mr. Sestero’s account of him as tyrannical and cruel on the “Room” set. “The movie was produced in a very respectful way based on formula I studied as a producer, actor and director,” he said. “You can look at it two ways. You analyze Marlon Brando, you analyze James Franco, you analyze James Dean, you analyze Tommy Wiseau and I hope you come to the same conclusion: We are good actors. But you are here to please your audience, not yourself, that’s No. 1.” Referring to his detractors, he went on: “I have advice for all of you bad apples. Be nice. Grab the camera and roll the movie and see what happens. Before you start criticizing anybody, see how hard it is to make a movie.” Here’s something curious: Mr. Wiseau and Mr. Sestero are still incredibly close. Mr. Sestero, whose last serious romantic relationship foundered on the set of “The Room,” has spent the last few years publicizing his book and doing “Room”-related projects. The makers of “The Disaster Artist” originally ended the film with the dissolution of Tommy and Greg’s friendship — a reasonable assumption, based on Mr. Sestero’s book. “But then I watched Greg talk to Tommy on the phone for an hour every day,” Mr. Rogen said. “I was thinking, ‘That’s not the story. And we changed the film because of their actual relationship.” Mr. Sestero has a new film due in 2018 that stars Mr. Wiseau as a strange mortician and himself as the strange-in-a-different-way homeless man who together embark on various crime and cadaverrelated escapades. It is called “Best F(r) iends.” Book lust BOOK REVIEW BOOKSHOPS: A READER’S HISTORY By Jorge Carrión. Translated by Peter Bush. 296 pp. Biblioasis. $24.95. BY ALAN RIDING After surviving a civil war, a devastating fire and a property dispute, the 89-year-old Catalònia bookstore in Barcelona closed in 2013 and was reborn as a McDonald’s. Witnessing this sacrilege was Jorge Carrión, a Barcelona-based novelist and essayist who at the time was preparing a cultural history of bookstores. “Of course, it is an obvious metaphor,” he recalls glumly, “but that doesn’t make it any less shocking.” Fortunately he holds off his pessimism until the end of “Bookshops” (so named because its seasoned translator, Peter Bush, is British) since his real purpose is to celebrate bookstores. And he does so by wandering the globe in search of those that play — or have played — a special role in the intellectual and social lives of their communities. They become Carrión’s personal mappa mundi. True, he notes, libraries also deal in books, but “the Bookshop is light; the Library is heavy.” “While the Librarian accumulates, hoards, at most lends goods out for a short while,” he explains, “the Bookseller acquires in order to free himself from what he has acquired; he sells and buys, puts into circulation. His business is traffic and transit. The Library is always one step behind: looking towards the past.” It is the bookseller, then, who must stay in touch with the world to survive. And by tracking down what claims to be the oldest functioning bookstore in the world, the Livraria Bertrand in Lisbon, with its logo displaying 1732, Carrión demonstrates that survival is possible. But what a struggle! While writing, he discovers that some bookstores he has admired have since closed. Still, beyond a nod to ancient Greece’s book trade and the Library of Alexandria, he finds recent history worth revisiting, not least Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare and Company on the Rue de l’Odéon in Paris, which served as a second home to the Lost Generation and first published James Joyce’s “Ulysses” in 1922, before closing in late 1941 during the German occupation of France. Its namesake, though, lives on. Founded by George Whitman as Le Mistral in 1951, it became the new JORGE CARRIÓN Ler Devagar Bookstore in Lisbon. Shakespeare & Company in 1964 and, to this day, it draws crowds of writers and tourists to its labyrinthine quarters near Notre Dame. In his early years, Whitman befriended expat American writers, among them A celebration of the social, cultural and intellectual history of bookstores around the world. In the postwar years of Paul Bowles’s Tangiers, it was La Librairie des Colonnes, with its shelves full of English, Spanish and Arab titles, that served as a meeting place for fugitive or visiting writers, among them the Beats William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg as well as Gore Vidal, Marguerite Yourcenar and Juan Goytisolo. Yet even with the support of leading Arab writers like Amin Maalouf and Tahar Ben Jelloun, the bookstore had to be rescued from closure in 2010 by Pierre Bergé, the late French fashion industrialist and philanthropist. In Cape Town, Carrión was charmed by the warmth of the Book Lounge, but he noticed that each of the shelves marked Paulo Coelho, Gabriel García Márquez and J.M. Coetzee had a card reading, “Ask for his books at the counter.” Puzzled, he inquired. “They are the three most stolen writers. The only ones people steal. So we keep their books here,” the bookseller explained, pointing to a pile behind her. For all Carrión’s love of independent bookstores, another reality is the mass marketing of books, which began with stands in 19th-century railroad stations and later airports, spread to chains like Barnes & Noble and Waterstones in Britain and eventually spawned Amazon. But even as he admits to occasionally buying online, he considers his mission incomplete. “I devote many of my Sunday afternoons to surfing the web in search of bookshops that still do not exist for me,” he writes, “though they are out there, waiting for me.” Alan Riding is a former European cultural correspondent for The Times. His most recent book is “And the Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris.” .. MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 | 19 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION travel Rolling from New York to New Orleans by rail ROAD TRIP A traveler finally tests out his romantic beliefs about taking the slower route BY ROBERT SIMONSON Everyone I told said the same thing: “Oh, my God! I’ve always wanted to do that!” The thing they had always wanted to do, apparently, was travel from New York to New Orleans by train. Or cross any considerable distance by rail — distances typically flown over in the name of expedience. Old, young, man, woman, didn’t matter. They had all long nursed, but never acted on, a wish to take the slow route. I write about liquor. Every July, in New Orleans, there is a booze convention. I’d gone every year, always by plane. Last summer, bored with the routine, I vowed to shake it up. I brought up the Amtrak website and discovered there was a line called the Crescent that followed the eastern corridor down to Washington, D.C., and then snaked through the South to New Orleans. It took 30 hours. I had a day to spare. All that remained was to O.K. the plan with my travel companion. “Oh, my God!” she said. “I’ve always wanted to do that!” (Or words to that effect.) Despite our shared enthusiasm, part of me wondered if the trip was a good idea. Amtrak was regularly in the news, and not in a good way. A derailment here, a delay there. Had I booked myself a fantasy (lovely scenery, atmospheric whistle stops, cocktails in the dining car) that bore no correlation to reality (aging cars, tourists, tedium)? I admit to being a romantic. I also admit to being a cynic. This means I am suspicious of my romantic tendencies. I’ve sentimentalized train travel all my life. Yet, after three decades of Amtrak trips, I still genuinely enjoyed it, so I concluded that my romanticism wasn’t entirely self-delusion. I had previously embarked on only one journey of the duration I was now contemplating. Shortly after college, I took the California Zephyr from Chicago to San Francisco, and the Empire Builder, across Montana and the Dakotas, back. I was 23 then and slept sitting up in my seat. That would not cut it this time. I was older and required comfort. A private room fit in with my train-travel dreams, but I had always assumed such luxury prohibitively expensive. I was pleased, then, to find a fare of $280 one- way. The fare included a “roomette,” the smallest private compartment on offer. (I booked way ahead of time. By my departure date, that number had more than doubled.) We arrived at Penn Station with an hour to spare. There were no obvious signs of hell, except that we were put on the Silver Meteor, which goes to Miami. Normally, the Crescent makes the entire trip from NYC to NOLA, but construction at Penn Station allowed it no further north than D.C. A porter directed us to our car. We boarded and were immediately funneled into those narrow hallways that remind you of old movies. The room was as “-ette” as advertised — 3’6” by 6’8” — but well-organized. There was a place to hang my garment bag in one corner. Opposite was a toilet; above that a sink that folded into the wall. There were towels and soap and a paper-cup dispenser on top of the sink. A cavity in the wall so high you would easily miss it swallowed up the luggage. Between the two facing, and rather commodious, seats, there was a retractable table with a checkerboard pattern on it. Switches above each seat controlled three lights: ceiling, wall and reading. This was all fine by me. My height (6’1”) notwithstanding, I have always felt most comfortable in snug spaces. One-bedroom apartments relax me; McMansions give me the jitters. Once we pulled out of the station, it became apparent that we not only had one long window but a second upper window, slightly hidden by the upper berth. The roomette was flooded with light. A woman named Brenda came by and offered us bottled water. We tipped her, figuring we would need to rely on her in the future. Train travel presents certain immediate advantages over air travel. It forces you to relax, as you have time on your hands. PHOTOGRAPHS BY TONY CENICOLA/THE NEW YORK TIMES Above, the Crescent crossing a bridge out of Lynchburg, Va. Below, in the bedroom compartment on the train. WIS. N.Y. MICH. New York City Philadelphia Chicago Chic ago O H I O Washington I N D. ILL. Charlottesville VA . Amtrak Crescent route K Y. TENN. N.C. Charlotte Greenville S.C. Birmingham Atlanta Tuscaloosa MISS. ALA. GA. FLA. LA. New Orleans 200 Miles Even in a roomette, you’re afforded more space than on a plane. Furthermore, you can stock your quarters with items the airlines would never permit, including well-stuffed suitcases; snacks (in case the onboard fare isn’t up to par — a safe bet); and the makings of cocktail hour. We called Brenda for ice. Once 5 o’clock hit, out came a bottle of Pimm’s, a half-liter of ginger ale, a cucumber and a knife. Pimm’s Cups were built and enjoyed, under the glow of the coming sunset. I read some Fitzgerald and smiled, thinking of all the suckers shoehorned into seats on United or American. The train was full, so meal seatings were staggered. We were called at 5:45. The dining car was bustling and had an I poured out pre-mixed martinis I had smuggled aboard in a flask. “The only problem with this train is not enough martinis,” my companion said. appealing, quasi-art deco feel to it. There was no selecting of tables. We were slipped into booths like files. “Side by side,” instructed the waiter when we tried to sit opposite each other. “Side by side.” The menu had a section titled “ACAT Inspired Special.” ACAT stood for Amtrak Culinary Advisory Team. Only one such item, a “vegetarian Asian noodle bowl,” was available. I opted for the “Field & Sea Combo” instead, based on the waiter’s recommendation. It was composed of steak, seared shrimp, baked potato and mixed vegetables. It came quickly and wasn’t bad, though it wasn’t good, either. At Washington’s Union Station, we changed trains. The Crescent was right across the platform. Our new roomette looked exactly like the old one. We asked Pat, our new attendant, for more ice, and I poured out pre-mixed martinis I had smuggled aboard in a flask. We sipped contentedly. “The only problem with this train is not enough martinis,” my companion said. As darkness fell on northern Virginia, Pat set up the berths. The limited machinery that effected the change was too much for us. Pat, stout and short, did it in a second. She bid us a good night and added, “Let’s see if we get through the Carolinas.” Why wouldn’t we?, I wondered. The bottom berth, amazingly, accommodated my long frame. Sleeping on the upper, said my companion, felt like getting an M.R.I. But we both slept well. My expectation that the train’s motion would rock us to slumber had not been bunk (as it were). We woke in South Carolina. Red clay lined the tracks. The rising sun made the pine trees look burnt yellow. Mobile homes and country lanes drifted by. Washing up and shaving in the shower down the hall required agility. The lurching train threw my body from wall to wall. In Atlanta, I detrained for the first time. Raised on the train stations of the northeast, I expected something as grand. But the station was a remarkably meager affair. There was a small waiting room with wooden benches and a few vending machines. An older Amtrak employee discoursed to some customers about past civil rights achievements of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. At lunch, we were seated opposite a Birmingham family returning from a jaunt to New York. We ordered one of those ACAT culinary specials, a “Thaispiced pulled coconut pork slider.” The Boston-based chef Jamie Bissonnette was the supposed author. The table quieted when the dish arrived. For a slider, it was as big as a burger. The gray meat inside resembled dog food. A few bites were all that were needed for us to plead for the Hebrew National hot dog my companion had spotted on the kids’ menu. The frankfurter was split open, grilled and served with relish. It was delicious, easily the best thing we ate on the trip. Outside the window, I saw thick foliage, small country post offices and handmade signs advertising boiled peanuts. Mmm, I thought, boiled peanuts. Shortly after lunch, the train stopped outside of Birmingham. I had been napping off and on, so I didn’t notice until an hour had passed. It was then that Pat communicated the cruel secret of the Crescent. Beyond the northeast corridor, Amtrak doesn’t own the tracks it runs on. By law, Amtrak trains must be given priority. But, in practice, it doesn’t always work out that way, resulting in regular delays. In this case, a freight had stalled. We sat still for three hours. (“Let’s see if we get through the Carolinas,” Pat had said.) The charm of train travel lies in constant motion, minute-by-minute adventure. When that motion ceases, the charm evaporates. Alabama was the longest state. There were two more delays, as we played less-precious cargo to loads of grain, chemicals and coal. I no longer felt smarter than plane people. Around Tuscaloosa, we had dinner. The dining car didn’t have the style of that on the Silver Meteor. Nothing on the Crescent did. However, the Field & Sea Combo was strangely better, the steak juicier, the shrimp well grilled. Our wait- ress, Ashley, said they had a good chef on board. I found the idea of an Amtrak chef being good or bad, or even existent, highly suspect. But maybe there were differences from train to train. We finally crossed into Mississippi, then crawled to Louisiana. I lost track of the delays — none were announced — and of Pat. Many of the passengers had disembarked at Birmingham. The Cres- cent felt like a ghost train. Were we the only ones foolish enough to pay full passage? The train had been due at 9 p.m. We arrived in New Orleans at 2 a.m. I stumbled, nearly hallucinating from exhaustion, onto the platform and into a taxi. We told the driver our tale of woe. He was not moved. “Last night, it got in at 4.” People were still impressed when we told them how we got to New Orleans. When pressed for details, I demurred and muttered darkly about Birmingham. Would I do it again? Maybe. My romanticism hadn’t been entirely crushed. But I’d try another line. And check beforehand who owned the tracks. And smuggle in more martinis. Now Shipping Worldwide Take 10% Off. Use Code HOLINT10 *HOLINT10 offer applies only to purchases on store.nytimes.com for international delivery on amounts before tax, duties and shipping. Offer may not be combined with any other offers, discounts or coupons. Offer does not apply to returns or previously placed orders. Offer ends Monday, Dec. 25, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. ET. STO R E . N Y T I M ES . CO M Custom Birthday Book Custom Front Page Puzzle Super “T” Sweatshirt .. THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION louisvuitton.com 20 | MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 The Spirit of Travel .. MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 | S1 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION Will Alien Life Welcome Us? Or Are Human Affairs Too Petty and Trivial? by Bill Nye. Page S3 Bill Clinton On the State of America and What Comes Next. Page S4 Progress Amid Corruption in Saudi Arabia, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Page S4 Orhan Pamuk Says We Must Resist Authoritarian Instincts That Restrict Our Liberties. Page S5 Why Borders Can Only Constrain Us, by Vicente Fox. Page S5 Hari Kunzru Considers Humanity in the Post Privacy World. Page S6 When the Government Wouldn’t, the People Took On Climate Change, by Laurence Tubiana. Page S6 Examining North Korea and a Planet in Terror, by Madeleine Albright. Page S7 The Dalai Lama Tells Us How to Stay Centered When Everything Feels Uncertain. Page S8 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED MONA HATOUM, COURTESY FONDAZIONE QUERINI STAMPALIA ONLUS, VENICE. PHOTO BY AGOSTINO OSIO. “Hot Spot III” (2009) by Mona Hatoum, made of stainless steel and neon tube, depicts a world and its borders under heat as the pressure of global conflict mounts. A fractured 2017 As the world lurches into a new year, peace feels fragile, truth is blurred and spectacle has taken over BY ROGER COHEN Roger Cohen is a columnist for The New York Times. A century has passed since President Woodrow Wilson, in his 14 Points speech of January 1918, set out an American plan for the world. He called for the removal of economic barriers to trade, an adjustment of colonial claims that respected “the interests of the populations concerned,” and the creation of a League of Nations to guarantee “political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states.” It was a program that announced America’s ordering intentions, and it was supposed to put an end to war. Wilson failed; Europe’s peace at the end of World War I would last but a generation. Still, having gotten into the global blueprint business, the United States, more powerful than ever by 1945, would not relinquish it — until 2017. One hundred years is a good run. Countless people across the globe have gained or preserved their freedom through American power. Errors were conspicuous. Nations are no more infallible than the individuals who compose them. Yet, all in all, liberty, democracy and a rules-based order, protected by far-flung American garrisons, spread and prospered. Pax Americana was no rip-off. It delivered. But all things must pass. That the world was ripe for a shake-up has been Donald Trump’s singular intuition and constitutes his singular gamble. A property guy who was raised in New York, he’s used to gambles and a valuesfree transactional universe. As his company once operated, so he now believes the United States should operate. He is at home with authoritarian thugs; he recognizes their ilk. His obeisance to the treaties, trade pacts, multilateral organizations and alliances that have advanced American interests in conjunction with the interests of America’s friends has been grudging at best. He thinks all that is hogwash. In fact, he does not even believe he needs more than the bare bones of a State Department. American foreign policy has ceased. “The one that matters is me,” he tells Fox News. “I’m the only one that matters, because when it comes to it, that’s what the policy is going to be.” Call it “Meism.” And so, in his slash-and-burn way, driven by instinct, Mr. Trump has already ushered in a new world order. Or rather, he has ushered in a free-forall, no longer shaped by American prescription, bereft of even the semblance of a moral compass. When it comes to the values of liberal societies, France, Germany and Canada will have to take up the mantle (Britain has gone on post-Brexit walkabout). The dangers of the new vacuum are chiefly offset (if often amplified) by the social networks of the 21st century, linking communities across borders; and COHEN, PAGE S7 .. S2 | MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 A loophole into 2018 Heading into a turbulent year Each year at this time, we try to identify the turning points of the year gone by and the year to come, the critical events that set us and our world on a new and often fateful tangent. Usually it’s not an easy choice. For 2017, it was. The turning point of the year was, of course, Donald J. Trump. The ascent of the real estate mogul and reality show star suddenly elevated to the most consequential office on earth had a devastating impact on everything from multilateral trade to climate change. People in every corner of the world struggled to understand how and why this phenomenon had been thrust on them, and where it could lead. Authoritarian and nationalist leaders welcomed a new ally, while old allies joined Germany’s Angela Merkel in concluding that “the era in which we could fully rely on others is over to some extent.” That “to some extent” may subvert Ms. Merkel’s sentence somewhat, but it does offer a loophole into 2018. Human beings are remarkably resilient and innovative, and we have somehow managed to prevent our follies from triggering what paleontologists call an extinction event. The world goes on — helped by the healing humor of late-night talk-show hosts and cartoonists like our Patrick Chappatte, who have steadfastly exposed the absurdity of it all. So all the things that 2017 is bequeathing to its successor — North Korea gone ballistic, the spread of fake news, the rise of #MeToo, weather gone rogue, surveillance run amok, democracy relentlessly abused — should make for a most turbulent and unpredictable year, but hopefully only to some extent. 2018 will have its own turning points, and some of them, like Saudi women finally getting the right to drive, should steer us onto a more stable road. THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION 2017 The year in photos AARON VINCENT ELKAIM FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES RUTH FREMSON/THE NEW YORK TIMES Women march on seven continents Millions of people wearing pink hats flooded the streets of Washington and other cities around the world on Jan. 21 for the Women’s March, a protest in support of women’s rights and other causes. Prompted by President Trump’s election, the march took place the day after he took office. Frigid ocean farming During the coldest months of the year, Inuit people from the village of Kangiqsujuaq, Quebec, venture under the frozen layer covering the local bay to pick mussels. As tides empty the space under the ice, the hunters are able to gain temporary access by cutting holes in it. —SERGE SCHMEMANN Serge Schmemann is a member of the editorial board of The New York Times. TODD HEISLER/THE NEW YORK TIMES Eclipse captivates U.S. Above: A solar eclipse on Aug. 21 was the first since 1918 to extend across the United States mainland. According to a study by the University of Michigan, 88 percent of American adults watched the event, in person or electronically. Turmoil in Venezuela Right: The increasingly authoritarian government of Nicolás Maduro violently cracked down on monthslong protests taking place across Venezuela. Economic and political crises in Venezuela have left the country on the brink of default on its loans and sparked social unrest. MERIDITH KOHUT FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES IVOR PRICKETT FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES Freedom for Mosul Above: The Iraqi campaign to regain control of Mosul, the Islamic State’s largest stronghold in the war-torn country, ended in July 2017, when Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced that the city had been liberated. The operations lasted nearly nine months, killing and displacing thousands of people. DOUG MILLS/THE NEW YORK TIMES James Comey and the F.B.I. Above: James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, testified in June before the Senate Intelligence Committee about his role in the investigation into Russian meddling in the United States presidential election and any possible connections to the campaign of President Trump. Rohingya refugee crisis Outbreaks of violence led by the military against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine State caused hundreds of thousands to flee the region. Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate and the de facto leader of the country, drew criticism for her reluctance to address the crisis. EDU BAYER FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES SERGEY PONOMAREV FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES Deadly violence in Charlottesville In August, the “Unite the Right” rally drew hundreds of far-right protesters, who marched to oppose the city’s plan to remove the statue of Civil War Gen. Robert E. Lee. The next day, a second “pro-white” rally and counterprotests clashed. One car drove into a group of counterprotesters afterward, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring at least 19 others. .. MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 | S3 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION The cosmos is calling. What do we say? TURNING POINT: Seven Earth-size planets that could potentially harbor life are discovered orbiting a star. BY BILL NYE Bill Nye is C.E.O. of the Planetary Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the exploration of the solar system. The more we gaze out into the universe, the more we suspect that someone may be gazing back. The possibility became even more intriguing earlier this year when an international team of astronomers discovered at least three planets in the nearby Trappist-1 star system that might be capable of supporting life. The discovery of life on another world would change our own. It would fundamentally change the way each of us feels about being a living thing in the cosmos. And as always seems to be the case with discoveries in astronomy, it would be humbling. You probably know of a few famous examples. Copernicus showed that Earth and the other observable planets move around the sun, not the sun around Earth. Galileo showed that the moon is covered with enormous craggy peaks and rugged valleys. Astronomers from all over have shown that our sun, our life-giving star, is not any big deal; it’s one among billions. Even our galaxy is hardly unusual. Billions of those, too. Just imagine finding a planet with a comfortable surface temperature and an atmosphere with substantial amounts of not only water vapor, but also methane, the main component of natural gas. Although, nominally, there is more than one way to produce it, the main way we get new natural gas and organic molecules is by the natural processes of organisms. We’re talking about microbes, either the ones inhabiting seas and swamps, or those that live inside creatures like us. So where do we look if we want to find microbes? Better yet, how do we look? Finding a planet not too different from our own would be a logical place to start. What sets Earth apart from all the other planets that we know well — Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune — is its distance from the sun, which enables it to have liquid water. It has a suitable atmospheric pressure and surface temperatures between liquid water’s freezing and boiling points, 0 to 100 degrees Celsius (or 32 to 212 in those quaint “Fahrenheit” degrees). The scientists who found the Trappist-1 system were searching for just that, and they found not one, but seven exoplanets — planets not in our solar system — orbiting the star. Three seem well suited to barrage of questions: Do they have written language? Do they have farms? Do they have sex? Do they need those things? Are they coming to visit? And then, what do we do if they are on their way? What would they think of us? Are we worthy correspondents, communicating across the vastness of space? Or, are human affairs too petty and trivial to concern another race of beings? If these aliens could travel here, they probably wouldn’t think much more of us than we think of termites: “These humans sure are interesting. They build [the equivalent of] complex living spaces (mounds) with only rudimentary instructions (con- If aliens traveled to visit us here on Earth, they probably wouldn’t think much more of us than we think of termites. having liquid water on their surfaces. In the coming months and years, astronomers will refine the search, hoping to tease out the critical spectral data that would tell us whether there is water vapor in these remote atmospheres, as well as liquid water in an ocean. Still, alien visitations are very unlikely. According to all the physics that we understand, there is no practical way for us to travel, in astronaut fashion, to another star system. There is just too much space in space. A spaceship would take tens of thousands of years to reach Proxima Centauri, the star closest to our own. It would be many times that distance to Trappist-1, which is 40 light years away. And despite decades of listening and looking, we haven’t heard an intelligible signal from the cosmos. (Insert your own joke about earthling politics here.) Any signal, any twinkling, any beam from a distant star system would unleash a stitutional governments, oligarchies, technocracies).” But that would be about it. After all, we seem to be in the midst of making our home world unlivable for billions of our own kind, let alone the dozens of species in danger of extinction. If we got a signal from out there, would it change our attitudes? The researchers of the Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (Trappist) program are said to be peaceloving deep thinkers, just like their program’s namesake, the Trappist monks. We could learn something from them. The world’s military budget is about $1.7 trillion. With the right inspiration — say, keeping our planet whole long enough to see what’s at the other end of that hypothetical alien signal — we could cut that in half and use the rest to unite, protect and strengthen our ailing Earth rather than tearing it apart. MONIKA AICHELE The Big Question: If the world was ending, what would your last message be? If you were to send one last message out into the cosmos that summed up the beauty of life on Earth, what would it be? KYOUNG-SOOK SHIN Kyung-sook Shin is a Korean novelist whose book “Please Look After Mom” won the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2012, making her the first South Korean woman to do so. OSCAR MURILLO Oscar Murillo is an artist based in London. MOHSIN HAMID Mohsin Hamid is a Pakistani novelist. His latest book is “Exit West.” JANE GOODALL Jane Goodall is an ethologist, a conservationist and a United Nations Messenger of Peace. She founded the Jane Goodall Institute in 1977. The world, as I know it, is ending. I close my eyes and again experience the wonder of the rain forest, the murmuring streams, the rustling leaves and the myriad sounds of animal life, chirping and singing and buzzing. Flashes of color; birds, butterflies, fish shining in the water. Monkeys feeding overhead. The smell of damp earth and flowers. Each species, no matter how small, playing its part in the rich tapestry of life. I move my mind’s eyes to the wetlands, the mountains, the coral reefs, the golden prairies. The sun glittering on the Arctic ice. The pine trees of the cliffs I climbed as a child. In these few minutes the beauty of the world I once knew is real again. I open my eyes reluctantly. I am surrounded by land and water that is dead, polluted, plundered. The natural world destroyed. Our cities collapsed. Nature has hit back at we humans, who so greedily stole her riches, with hurricanes, floods, droughts, fires and earthquakes. But suddenly I realize that though the Earth may seem destroyed, it is alive in my mind. And I am aware of another kind of beauty: that of the indomitable human spirit. The lust for greed and power has destroyed the beauty we inherited, but altruism, compassion and love have not been destroyed. All that is beautiful in humanity has not been destroyed. The beauty of our planet is not dead but lying dormant, like the seeds of a dead tree. We shall have another chance. Entities of the cosmos, greetings from the humans of Earth. Our world as we know it is coming to an end. Humans are a biological life-form. Our individual existence is characterized by impermanence. We live, and then we die. Our greatest achievement is that we are not entirely overwhelmed by our awareness of this predicament. We know we will die, yet we experience love and tenderness and wonder and joy. Our mortality forms the basis of our compassion. We know that every human, no matter how different we are from each other, will experience death, and this creates a sense of closeness. We were not less because we died. We were more. But the desire to live forever was strong in us. We gave birth to machines that we hoped would help us achieve this wish. We hoped to merge with these machines. Now, in our attempt to extinguish our mortality, we are on the verge of extinguishing ourselves. Farewell. May our example be of benefit to you. The pursuit of new frontiers in the name of science and empire has almost always come at the expense of others. Early explorers, from the conquistador Cortés to Captain Cook, voyaged across the globe for the sake of expansion and knowledge. However their aim was not to discover more about the world; it was to spread an already-formed worldview. Thus their path was littered with casualties — communities, countries, corpses. History is told by those with the loudest voices. And the voices of imperialism remain the loudest, even today. The astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission trained in the desert of the Western United States — formerly Native American land — in order to prepare themselves for the final frontier. According to an old joke, a native chief asked the astronauts if they could pass on a message to the holy spirits who live on the moon. The man spoke some words in his own language, and when the astronauts asked what the message meant, the chief told them it was a secret between his tribe and the moon spirits. But the astronauts managed to find someone who could translate the words. The message was: “Don’t believe a single word these people are telling you. They have come to steal your land.” JAMES DYSON James Dyson is an inventor, designer and founder of the Dyson company. The way engineers tackle seemingly insoluble problems with ingenuity and grit is something to behold. Tomorrow is more exciting than today because of engineers. They drive all progress using their brains and hands. With intelligence and persistence, they show human resourcefulness at its best. They are the most genuine form of wealth creator an economy can hope for, and they are incredibly resourceful. Engineers don’t always follow the rules; they approach challenges from new angles and with a naïve intelligence in order to find the right solution. No challenge is too big. I therefore find it implausible that the world is coming to an end. Engineers will find a way to avoid this catastrophe! RICHARD DAWKINS Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist and author. His most recent book is “Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist.” Dear fellow cosmic citizens, If you have the technology to intercept this last testament from our doomed planet, chances are that you are far more advanced than us; you have probably been evolving for much longer and your codebreakers are capable enough to decipher my language. You will be aware that, like any other life-form, we evolved by gradual degrees from simple beginnings, through the nonrandom survival of digitally coded instructions. We called those instructions genes (doubtless yours differ in detail from ours). They survived mostly by building what we called bodies. Our life-form was driven by energy from our star (the “sun”) and intercepted by static bodies called plants, using specialized photon collectors called leaves. The energy of plants was then stolen by mobile bodies called animals. Some animals, in turn, consumed other animals, and the energy was passed along in a “food chain.” All used the same genetic code, a linear string of digital characters drawn from an alphabet of four. As you will easily calculate, this was sufficient to encode a huge diversity of forms, which was one of the stupendous glories of our tragic planet. Among the many millions of kinds of animals, our own, called humans, were distinguished by our large on-board computer (the “brain”) which enabled us to make some progress toward understanding the universe and our origins. We were quite proud of understanding such things as evolution and the fact that matter comes in a finite set of “elements.” While we made a start on what we called quantum theory, we found it bewildering, probably because our brains never evolved to understand the ultrasmall. We dreamed of a final Theory of Everything and a complete understanding of the origin of all things, including time. Perhaps you already have that. It is among our griefs that we perished before we could reach it. I was happy to be able to live on this Earth as my mother’s daughter. She taught me how to walk, how to put on clothes, how to speak my name. After I grew a bit older, she taught me that reading books is an important part of living in this world. Through her life itself, my mother taught me how to plant seeds, and that you reap what you sow, as well as how to console people when they are sad. When I was 22, I started writing novels in my mother tongue, a language filled with the essence of my mother. I wrote about everything that is born in our hearts and in this world, from sorrow and beauty to passion and love. With words, I strived to restore things that had disappeared. I also wrote about my mother, who gave me everything but whom I took for granted at times. Writing was my way of paying tribute to everything that was once alive on Earth and has since left. If I had raised a daughter, I would have taught her everything that I learned from my mother. I wish I could have. DANIEL HUMM Daniel Humm is a Swiss chef and co-owner of Eleven Madison Park in New York. The ultimate beauty of life on Earth can only be described in the context of personal relationships. Natural, true beauty is enhanced exponentially as a shared experience. As a chef, I am lucky enough to see this every single night in my restaurant: people from all walks of life, all ethnicities, all ages, all connecting deeply around a table. The human connection is significantly beautiful, and nothing showcases that more than our experiences in 2017. Through all of the disasters, both natural and man-made, there is one thing that proved to be more powerful than the devastation: that absolute, and most human, intention to look into each other’s eyes — not at each other’s skin color, political views, or religious or sexual preferences — and connect on a completely soulful level. To will someone else to triumph over adversity; to lift someone else up when they are at their lowest point; to connect with each other below the surface ... this is us at our most beautiful. .. S4 | MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION Americans must decide who they really are TURNING POINT: President Trump issues a travel ban that would preclude travelers from North Korea, Syria, Iran, Chad, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Venezuela from entering the United States. BY BILL CLINTON America has a lot going for it. We are in the second year of rising incomes across all income groups. Our work force is relatively young, hardworking and productive. America’s universities and other research institutions are strong in areas like materials science, software development, nanotechnology, biotechnology, genomics and many other fields that are important to our future economic growth and employment. We continue to move toward more energy independence and cleaner energy, with advances in battery storage for solar and wind power and a vast untapped capacity to generate electricity from both. We also face serious economic challenges: severe inequalities in income and wealth; low work force participation by adults without college degrees, especially white men; dramatic differences in growth between prosperous urban and suburban regions and counties full of small towns and rural areas; gaping shortfalls in our national infrastructure, from inadequate roads and bridges, to rusty, dangerous water pipes, to an electrical grid incapable of moving the cleanest, cheapest energy from where it can be produced most efficiently to where it is most needed, to the absence of affordable, rapid broadband internet in areas that desperately need to be included in the national economy. There are human resource challenges, too. Our K-12 education system includes some of the world’s best schools, but that excellence has been hard to replicate across districts and states with widely varying conditions. Our higher education system remains the world’s best, but costs and student debt are big problems. Health care reform has brought millions of people affordable, quality medical insurance for the first time, but we have wasted too much time fighting over efforts to repeal that progress when we should be fixing the problems that remain and preparing for the aging of our population. The future of undocumented immigrants — including the “Dreamers” and millions of people who are working hard and paying taxes — is uncertain at a time when our work force cannot grow without them; the birthrate among native-born Americans is barely at replacement levels. From Charleston to Charlottesville, we are reminded that the racial divide remains a curse that can be revived with devastating consequences. And the opioid crisis and its progeny, heroin and fentanyl, are killing and disabling Americans at a staggering rate. For several years we’ve known it’s a huge public health challenge, yet almost nowhere do we have the resources and organization necessary to turn the tide. MIRKO ILIC Tribalism based on race, religion, sexual identity and place of birth has replaced inclusive nationalism. Finally, we have a serious set of security challenges, from nuclear proliferation, to terrorism, to climate change, to cybersecurity, the last of which may prove the most daunting because it puts all the systems we need to deal with the other problems, and our very democracy, at risk. In spite of our overall economic progress since the 2008 crash, all these challenges have contributed to declining economic mobility, increasing political and social alienation and more personal insecurity for millions of our fellow citizens. These forces have increased our divisions, and make it even harder to recover our sense of common purpose. The good news is that an aggressive effort to address our problems with known and affordable responses would bolster the strength of our economy and our communities through higher incomes, more upward mobility and greater security. Many cities and several states are proving it every day. But as a nation, we’re on a very different path. All too often, tribalism based on race, religion, sexual identity and place of birth has replaced inclusive nationalism, in which you can be proud of your tribe and still embrace the larger American community. And too often resentment conquers reason, anger blinds us to answers and sanctimony passes for authenticity. These trends are fueled by our Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook worlds, in which the attention span for issues on television news is only a few seconds, and the very survival of newspapers depends upon retweets of headlines from their online editions. Too many social media sites are fever swamps of extremist foreign and domestic invaders. Such resolute efforts to abolish the line between fact and fiction, truth and lies, can offset all the benefits of our interconnectedness. When trust vanishes and knowledge is devalued as an establishment defense of the status quo, anything can happen. We already see citizens being disenfranchised by the millions, targeted by race, ethnicity and age not because they are ineligible to vote, but because they favor inclusive, not tribal, nationalism. Who wins in this kind of environment? Those who already have it made; they’ll make more. The least responsible members of the political media, who will prosper covering each new controversy and outrage. And the enemies of democracy, who feed the discord and hope that Americans will finally concede that informed self-government no longer works — and perhaps is no longer even possible — in the modern world. Twenty-five years ago, when I was elected president, I said that every American should follow our Constitutional framers’ command to form a more perfect union, to constantly expand the definition of “us” and shrink the definition of “them.” I still believe that. Because I do, I favor policies that promote cooperation over conflict and build an economy, a society and a politics of addition not subtraction, multiplication not division. Unfortunately, too many people in power across the world seem determined to do the reverse. If we do that here, we will miss this moment to build our brightest days. Therefore our most important challenge is deciding who we Americans really are — as citizens, communities and a nation. On that, all else depends. Bill Clinton was the 42nd president of the United States. Distraction and division in the Saudi kingdom TURNING POINT: Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern nations accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and block land, air and sea access to the country. BY AYAAN HIRSI ALI Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and founder of the AHA Foundation, a nonprofit focused on protecting women’s rights that are threatened by cultural and religious practices. In June, Saudi Arabia — along with two other Persian Gulf states and Egypt — picked a fight with Qatar, on the grounds that the country is funding Islamic terrorism. The move was almost satirical, given that Saudi Arabia itself has long funded the spread of fundamentalist Salafi Islam, which is often associated with extremism. However, this diplomatic spat seems to be more than just an example of Saudi Arabia’s pot calling Qatar’s kettle black. Saudi leaders could be using the conflict, which has resulted in a blockade of Qatar, as a strategic smoke screen to deflect attention from the simmering tension inside their own insular borders. The recently promoted heir to the Saudi throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as M.B.S., has pledged to modernize the country. His agenda includes diversifying the Saudi economy beyond oil, expanding trade, bolstering employment and loosening restrictions on entertainment. But at least two domestic factors complicate his ambitions, and we may see them play out on the world stage in 2018. The first is the possibility of a challenge to M.B.S.’s ascendancy. Deposing his cousin, Mohammed bin Nayef (M.B.N.), as crown prince and placing him under house arrest, then freezing his personal bank accounts in November, were daring moves, even by the standards of Arab dynastic politics. As the former head of the Saudi secret intelligence service, M.B.N. could prove to be a dangerous enemy. Second, M.B.S.’s grand strategic reform plan — known as Vision 2030 — is a direct threat to the prestige and power of the established (and reactionary) Wahhabi clergy in Saudi Arabia. The clergy has the clout, and motive, to frustrate his plans. If the economy is opened up to private enterprise, the clergy’s wealth and influence will be diminished, leaving it with fewer resources to maintain its grip on the kingdom. For centuries, the royal family has relied on a pact with the Wahhabi clergy to provide religious legitimacy to the family’s rule. But if modernization erodes the clergy’s authority, how long will its members remain docile? Months before his ascendancy in June, M.B.S. signaled that the influence of the clergy could be an obstacle to economic growth and Saudi Arabia’s ability to wean itself off its oil-revenue dependency. If the clerics resist having their wings clipped, they are likely to openly oppose encroaching westernization just as Saudi Arabia seeks to attract and retain foreign investors. The royal family may therefore have to buy the clerics’ support, or at least their silence. For example, M.B.S. might offer them greater latitude in areas that are less EOIN RYAN crucial to the economy, such as “da’wah” — the spreading of Wahhabi Islam. Since 1973, the Saudi government and its semipublic “charitable” foundations have spent billions of dollars spreading fanatical Wahhabi ideology abroad, and further bolstering da’wah would be bad news for the international community’s anti-radicalization efforts. The Saudi clergy is powerful — a num- tional airport, and the Lebanese prime minister, who happened to be visiting the kingdom, publicly resigned, citing security concerns about Iranian-backed Hezbollah. Since then, ripples continue to be felt across the region. The stakes are high. If M.B.S. succeeds in his modernization efforts, Saudis will benefit from new opportunities and freedoms, and the world will benefit from A continuing quarrel with Qatar masks the simmering tensions within Saudi Arabia’s own insular borders. ber of clerics have large social media followings, which provide a direct channel to supporters across the country. Clergy members who are agitating for a political backlash could use these platforms to criticize the aging King Salman, cast doubt on his right to rule and threaten M.B.S.’s modernization agenda. They could also ignite social unrest in a country that has a chronically high youth unemployment rate. In an effort to stifle dissent, M.B.S. in September cracked down and detained a few influential clerics who failed to support the kingdom’s position on Qatar. He went on in November, under the auspices of an anticorruption purge, to arrest more than 200 Saudi power brokers, including former government ministers, members of the royal family and wealthy magnates. The Wahhabis share a worldview with much of the complex network of Islamist and jihadist organizations around the world. Qatar and Turkey — supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Taliban — will most likely use their connections to a belligerent Saudi clergy to frustrate M.B.S.’s agenda and tarnish his image abroad. In response, the Saudi leadership could seek a bigger external distraction by escalating its conflict with Qatar, just as it did with the invasion of Yemen in 2015. Already we are seeing Saudi politics being breathlessly stage-managed. On the same evening in November that M.B.S. began wielding the ax against his political rivals, Riyadh announced that a Yemeni missile was intercepted near its interna- curtailing the Wahhabi radicalization agenda. A decade from now, the kingdom could look more like the United Arab Emirates, its prosperous and relatively forwardlooking neighbor. If M.B.S. fails, Saudi Arabia will relapse into authoritarian theocracy, the tiny advances in women’s rights that have been made since the 1970s will be swept aside and the country will be set back, economically and socially, by decades. Worse, the kingdom’s money and influence will continue to be used to export the extremism that is causing so much upheaval in the rest of the Middle East, as well as in Africa, South Asia and Europe. Middle Eastern politics is regarded by nearly all players as a zero-sum game; to compromise is to bring shame upon one’s family and entire culture. Instead of acquiescing to the gulf states’ ultimatums — such as requiring that it shut down news organizations and distance itself from groups like the Muslim Brotherhood — Qatar has only deepened its alliances with Iran and Turkey. These forces are already in conflict in Yemen, in what is arguably a proxy war between the region’s Sunni bloc and Iran and its allies. The next obvious battleground will be Syria, where Iran (to say nothing of Russia) stands to be the principal beneficiary of the defeat of the Islamic State. Also in play in the year ahead will be Iraqi Kurdistan. In June, this all seemed like a minor spat between two Arab kingdoms. In 2018, it could spark a much larger conflict. .. MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 | S5 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION My belief in multiculturalism TURNING POINT: Elections in Europe give wind to right-wing nationalist movements. BY ORHAN PAMUK In the wake of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, with Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Narendra Modi’s voter-sanctioned authoritarianism and the Polish and Hungarian governments’ rejection of liberal values, and of migrants, the consensus is that there is a new nationalist, illiberal wave washing over the Earth. As ever, we must resist authoritarian instincts that restrict our liberties, demonize anybody who appears to be different and — as is happening in Turkey — outlaw freedom of expression, judiciary independence and pluralism. We must stand unflinchingly in defense of our dearest values: women’s rights, freedom of thought, academic liberties. But we must also ask how this illiberal wind has taken hold in spite of our wellintentioned avowal of egalitarianism and humanism. Why does our side keep losing elections? One of the joys of being a novelist is that it allows you to see and write from both sides of a problem, to inhabit opposing perspectives even as they remain so violently at odds with each other. I wrote my novel “A Strangeness in my Mind” to explore and describe the world of a street vendor, an everyman, on the streets of Istanbul, without ignoring his religiosity. To omit something as important as religion, even if the writer doesn’t identify with it as the character does, risks catching readers off-guard when the character’s inspiration, the real lower class, begins to vote for Islamist political parties. The power of such movements seems stronger to us when we confuse our liberal fantasies with reality. Just as I try to explore conflicting perspectives while writing, the current American incarnation of multiculturalism, which advocates immigrants adding their unique backgrounds to a new culture rather than abandoning their history in order to assimilate, can encourage people to fight bur- geoning authoritarianism. By learning to understand one another more fully, we remain calm in the assurance that we know our neighbors, regardless of how different they may be. It was during my first trip to New York, in 1985, when I realized that multiculturalism enabled us to live alongside people of different religious and cultural backgrounds without having to shed our own heritage. Back then, this form of tolerance had not yet been conflated with the notion of cultural relativism. The concept of multiculturalism was essential to the American “melting pot,” in which people of disparate tion and modernity; secularism and Islam; East and West. I anticipated multiculturalism bolstering Turkish democracy, already so diminished by those same conflicts, by military coups justified in the name of secularism and by the periodic disbanding of political parties. In the early 2000s, I argued that joining the European Union would benefit Turkish democracy and Europe both, and that absorbing more than 60 million Muslims would transform Europe into a multicultural society like the United States. Thirty-two years since that first trip to New York, none of my hopes have been How has an illiberal wind taken hold in spite of our well-intentioned avowal of egalitarianism and humanism? faiths and cultures came together and were forged into one nation. It challenged those who would have pitted communities against each other to live instead in harmony, in the same country, in the same cities and on the same streets. People of different cultures could keep the traditions that governed their religious beliefs, social mores and everyday habits, as long as they recognized that those values were relative. To me, the American way of integrating religious minorities into wider society still seems far more effective than European methods. Muslim immigrants to the United States appear much happier and more comfortable than Muslims in France. I believe multiculturalism has been much better than laïcité, the secular French model, at safeguarding the freedom of religion. High school students in France aren’t allowed to wear headscarves to classes — not unlike university students in Turkey, as I described in my novel “Snow.” Political Islam has exploited this seeming intolerance to consolidate its power and influence in Turkey. In the 1990s, I was — as I still am — convinced that multiculturalism had the power to soften some of Turkey’s eternal conflicts: between tradi- fulfilled. But my faith remains, in part because I haven’t forgotten that these disappointments are rooted in the historically nationalist mind-sets found in both Turkey and Europe. Indeed, we can trace such modern sentiments back at least a century. In April 1914, the French author André Gide wrote in his diary: “... for too long I thought that there was more than one civilization, more than one culture that could rightfully claim our love and deserve our enthusiasm. Now I know that our Occidental (I was about to say French) civilization is not only the most beautiful; I believe — I know — that it is the only one.” Gide’s original openness morphed into chauvinism, triggered by his negative impressions of Istanbul on a trip there in 1914. The Turkish intellectuals who at the time advocated for the country’s Westernization were distressed by Gide’s words. But to respond in kind would have agitated nationalist sentiments on both sides and further cut Turkey off from the West. Forty years spent writing novels and trying to understand people different from me have taught me the same thing: to remain calm in the face of these easterly and westerly, historic and contemporary THOMAS PULLIN forces. The illiberal winds we face today are not so strong as to sweep all logic away. Let us not forget that Hillary Clinton won 2.5 million more votes than Donald Trump; in Britain, the notion of Brexit has become tinged with regret; in Turkey, Erdogan’s authoritarianism was endorsed by only a paper-thin margin in April’s vote to cement his power. Comprehending these forces requires us to recognize why other people might disagree with our most deeply held convictions. Doing so is not a cure-all for either newly born nationalist movements or generational enmity, but it can both keep us calm and help us to endure. In this endeavor, the novelist and the multiculturalist share a similar approach, one based on imagining and understanding the humanity of people who are not like us. Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006. His novel “My Name Is Red” won the 2003 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His work has been translated into more than 60 languages. The future is bringing countries without borders cated, and there is no simple answer for how a government should deal with the issues of national security. Anyone who has ever led a nation, myself included, understands the priority of keeping citizens safe. The answer, though, is not to punish the men and women whose admiration and dedication to a country has served as the catalyst for their hard work and success. We have heard many stories of young people arriving in America with their parents, whose dreams of providing the best life possible for their children embold- TURNING POINT: Prototypes for a wall along the border between Mexico and the United States are unveiled. BY VICENTE FOX QUESADA Vicente Fox Quesada was the president of Mexico from 2000 to 2006. September brought great sadness, frustration and anger when the president of the United States, Donald Trump, called on Congress to phase out DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that assured the future of around 800,000 children from all over the world who are living in the United States, protecting them from deportation. Making up nearly 80 percent of that figure, Mexicans will be disproportionately affected by an end to the program. Latinos, particularly Mexicans, have been the main targets of President Trump’s constant racial attacks. According to Mr. Trump, we are guilty of all sorts of criminal acts. We have been called rapists, drug traffickers and thieves who steal American jobs. He has demanded that we pay for a wall to be built between our two nations that would prevent us from entering the United States. Many of these DACA recipients arrived as babies or toddlers and know no other home, yet they still acknowledge their birthplace and cherish their mother nation, adopting proud hybrid identities. Every country has its own Dreamers, as these young immigrants are known. As they grow up, study, build businesses and exchange ideas, they help fortify a globalized world where cultures mix. The residents of this modern world order endorse a new kind of citizenship and democracy. They don’t settle for voting, but are eager to protest when they believe they are being treated unjustly. global identity, and countries without borders, it remains imperative that we prioritize the preservation and celebration of our cultural traditions. Our customs provide us with an exciting mix of ideas, experiences and stories to contribute. As we honor what each individual brings to the table by way of their background, the term “minority” will become an anachronism. Each person has a unique story and skill set, effectively making all of us equal in our potential contributions to society. Conservative movements have risen in Imagining a new global identity where the term “minority” is an anachronism. BEN WISEMAN They strive for self-sustaining economic growth. They are concerned with the major shifts in climate around the planet. These citizens of the world know their value. Regardless of skin color, upbringing or nationality, they are able to thrive in different types of environments. We see examples every day of these evolved people, who are fighting to end racism and bring equality, inclusion and representation to their governments. Immigration is nuanced and compli- ened them to risk a hazardous border crossing into unknown territory. Those young people have gone on to acquire educations, careers and communities; helped their parents to fill out job applications and medical forms in English; and sent aid and guidance back to their birthplaces. They aren’t trying to hurt their adopted country — just the opposite. They’re just looking to be recognized. America is so admired because of what it seems to represent: equality and opportunity and heterogeneity. Rescinding DACA would be a huge step backward for a nation that has always prided itself on its forbearance. The potential damage to hundreds of thousands of lives is unquantifiable, and the upside is nonexistent. This change would punish the people who wanted so badly to live in a country that they risked everything they had to get there. If the future is bringing the notion of a opposition to this cultural blending, not only in America, but all over the world, from the Brexit efforts in Britain to the far right party Alternative for Germany’s presence in this year’s election. Rapid change and disruption have brought instability and concern, and in response conservative leaders are promising tranquillity and security through protectionism and excessive nationalism. We cannot resort to this old answer to a new struggle. It is no longer feasible to shut our doors in a world that is commingled politically, economically, socially and culturally. Banning men and women from entering a country based on their religion is bigoted and hateful. Denying refugees and those seeking asylum the opportunities many of our countries are equipped to provide them is needlessly cruel and, as in the case of DACA, only serves to hurt our most vulnerable fellow humans. 17 things that happened for the first time in 2017 Surprising, serious and sometimes silly events. By Tricia Tisak 1. Taiwanese court rules in favor of same-sex marriage Taiwan’s constitutional court has ruled that the country’s civil laws barring same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, giving the legislature two years to fix current laws or enact new ones allowing gay marriage — which would make the island nation the first in Asia to do so. SAM YEH/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE — GETTY IMAGES L.G.B.T. activists and allies celebrate the Taiwanese top court’s landmark decision in May. 2. Storing image files in living memory Scientists have figured out a way to store moving images in the unlikeliest of places — inside living cells. Harvard Medical School researchers encoded a series of stills of a galloping horse captured in 1878 by Eadweard Muybridge, a photographer and moving-image pioneer, inside the DNA of common bacteria. The images stored in the DNA survived as the bacteria divided and multiplied, an advancement that could have farreaching uses as the technology evolves. 3. Brazil grapples with first strike in 20 years Violence erupted in Brazil in April, when protesters and the police clashed in the country’s first general strike in two decades. Workers were angered by President Michel Temer’s calls to overhaul labor laws and trim the nation’s generous pension system. YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE — GETTY IMAGES Protesters set buses ablaze in Rio de Janeiro in April during a union strike. 4. British couple tie the knot in the Antarctic A British couple became the first to officially wed in the British Antarctic Territory. The polar field guides, who work for the British Antarctic Survey at a research station on Adelaide Island, were married in subzero temperatures in July. 5. A Holy See first for four countries Of five men that Pope Francis elevated to the position of cardinal in June, four are the first ever to be so named in their respective countries: El Salvador, Laos, Mali and Sweden. The pope’s picks are consistent with his mission to diversify the ranks of the cardinals, the church authorities who will choose the next pontiff. ILLUSTRATIONS BY GIACOMO GAMBINERI .. S6 | MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION A pledge to fight climate change TURNING POINT: The United States announces its withdrawal from the Paris climate accord. BY LAURENCE TUBIANA President Trump’s declaration on June 1, 2017, that he was withdrawing the United States from the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, which I helped to design, was framed as a call to nationalism, saying he was “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” But 75 percent of Pittsburghers voted for Hillary Clinton, who was in favor of the agreement, and since then the mayors of Pittsburgh and Paris have together endorsed the Paris agreement, in the joint goal of building a cleaner, safer world. As local governments see how climate change is linked to citizens’ well-being, they are taking concrete actions such as setting milestones for air quality, banning diesel cars or combustion engines, and implementing renewable energy systems. This was demonstrated just days after Mr. Trump’s announcement, when American governors, mayors, businesses, universities and others declared “We Are Still In,” pledging to meet the goals of the Paris agreement. The commitments of more than 2,500 such leaders are now formalized in the “America’s Pledge” effort, as they work to build upon those promises. It is an extraordinary, innovative move: citizens implementing a global agreement, a government obligation, standing as responsible actors of the global community. The private sector can see this is the future and companies are investing accordingly: The automotive industry is competing madly in the rush to switch to electric vehicles, while private investors are reluctant to invest in new coal power plants. The battle over climate change at this year’s G-20 meeting starkly illustrated Mr. Trump’s growing isolation. Despite a failed attempt by the United States to rally a pro-fossil fuel coalition, including a preG-20 visit to Poland and an appeal to climate skeptics, often through social networks and the far-right press, trying to equate climate action as a clash between global elites and ordinary people, all 19 other countries reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris agreement, leaving the United States out in the cold. Mr. Trump’s claim that this move will help the American economy does not hold up. In the fast-changing area of electric power generation alone, twice as many Americans work with solar technologies as in fossil fuels, and his slashing of federal research funding will hurt the country’s competitiveness. We are also in a time when extreme events are becoming more frequent and more costly. Every year we have a oncein-500-years storm, and every year is the hottest on record. Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall on the mainland in southeast Texas, will be the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States: Its estimated $190 billion price tag may exceed the combined costs of Hurricanes Katrina in 2005 and Sandy in 2012. Climate change is what is called a “threat multiplier,” both contributing to instability and making its effects worse. Drought and desertification lead to famine and conflict over water, fueling regional conflicts and political unrest, and increasing migration. The severity of Syria’s drought from 2007-10 was caused by climate change, and researchers have found that drought was a significant driver of the civil war that is today the world’s greatest humanitarian disaster. Altogether, an estimated 203 million people were displaced by natural disasters from 2008-15. Though Mr. Trump is choosing to ignore reality on the federal government levels, we are seeing unprecedented action by leaders at the sub-national and local level, along with those in business and civil society. Further discussion about the withdrawal by the United States could be a deadly, costly distraction from our work ahead. We cannot let that happen. There is a clear need for leadership in order to bolster the coalition around the Paris agreement, which is remaining steady. Let’s focus on going much faster and further, toward achieving peak emissions in 2020 and net-zero emissions by the end of the century. Many regions still face pressing issues around decarbonization of power and industry. Europe needs to do better at home and, with leadership from France and Germany, to continue engaging China and India, encouraging them to meet more ambitious targets. The global movement that was founded upon the statements in the Paris agreement is about people, citizens’ concerns, economic expectations and technological development. It is not a technocratic legal document, nor about abandoning national sovereignty. We are working toward a shared vision of a common future, with the goal of safeguarding the planet for all. JESSICA FORTNER When our thoughts are no longer our own TURNING POINT: WikiLeaks releases a trove of documents detailing methods the C.I.A. might have employed to break into smartphones, computers and internet-connected TVs. BY HARI KUNZRU Hari Kunzru is the author of “The Impressionist,” “Gods Without Men,” and most recently, “White Tears.” Laurence Tubiana is C.E.O. of the European Climate Foundation and a professor at Sciences Po, in Paris. She was appointed the French ambassador to the 2015 COP21 climate change conference, where she was a key architect of the landmark Paris agreement. In 1855, the reclusive poet Emily Dickinson sent a poem to her sister-in-law. There is a solitude of space A solitude of sea A solitude of death, but these Society shall be Compared with that profounder site That polar privacy A soul admitted to itself — Finite Infinity. A century and a half later, we live in a world where the first two kinds of solitude — that of space or of sea — are nearing extinction. Even if we travel into the desert or far out over the ocean, we must be resigned to the idea that someone could be watching, via satellite or drone. For much of our lives, as we go about our business in the heavily surveilled spaces of modern cities, carrying the seductively packaged trackers we still quaintly call our “phones,” we are under observation. What is privacy? It’s not just an occasional preference for solitude. It is the capacity to conceal things: parts of our bodies, aspects of our lives. Privacy is more than solitude; it’s not simply visual. We sweep through the world trailing clouds of metadata, and, with new and inexpensive tools to store and process it, pictures of our intimacies are being drawn that are not only descriptive, but actually predictive, of how we will behave, given certain inputs. Within a few years, the intensity of surveillance will increase almost beyond measure. Researchers at the University of Stuttgart in Germany recently described an information-gathering technology nicknamed “smart dust,” employing lenses the size of a grain of table salt that can capture images sharply and could be manufactured quickly and cheaply using commercially available 3-D printers. Imagine tiny cameras injected into the brain to detect tumors! Wonderful! Now imagine the effect of ubiquitous, near-invisible, networked surveillance of all social and political life, using tools so cheap that they can be manufactured in unimaginably large quantities, the world’s spies and secret policemen scattering their eyes like farmers sowing seeds. At that point our expectation of privacy will fall to zero, and with it still more of our ability to resist established power, whatever its political complexion. This is the era of pattern recognition, and our habits, our predilections, the desires that shape our behavior, are ever more susceptible to quantification, prediction and control. We have learned to marvel at the big-box chain that knows we’re pregnant before our partner does. We are less conscious of the e-reader that gathers information on which pages we skip and which words we linger over. We are only beginning to understand the political power of network architecture, of information silos (whether liberal or conservative) that feel whose sense of themselves is more intense, more luxurious. The superman, the Extropian genius, the next wave. But we are making a world where such a possibility seems increasingly remote, at least for the majority. Perhaps augmented powers and an expansive interiority will be achievable for a small elite, to those who will be able to pay for privacy. Most people will find themselves living more muted, circumscribed lives. If our sense of self looks likely to be transformed by the erosion of privacy, it is also under pressure from the erosion of the social world of work and the human identities that come with it. Automation is about to destroy the livelihoods of many kinds of What will become of our inner selves now that our most intimate moments are analyzed to predict our future actions? to their inhabitants like the entire world, of political advertising calibrated to the precise dimensions of our particular, individual fears. Say I’m a gun owner. I live in an area of high crime. I recently bought exterior lighting for my home. Surely, I fear a home invasion. My advertisement opens with a shadowy figure, a flashlight sweeping across the faces of sleeping children. My neighbor’s ad is completely different. When you are always, at least potentially, being watched, any form of self-expression is also a sort of betrayal, a card player’s tell. With ubiquitous visual surveillance, we will surely retreat inside ourselves, into the realm of the unexpressed, Emily Dickinson’s “profounder site” of privacy, the “soul admitted to itself.” While the language is spiritual, it describes a state that secular people also recognize. We have an expectation that, before we go forth into the social world, we can occupy a private interior space for experimentation and contemplation, a space free of the judgment of others. This interior space is by its very nature utopian and transgressive. On it we rest our ideas about freedom, choice and moral responsibility. For a generation or so, we have been fantasizing about the possibility of becoming posthuman. What would our own evolution look like? What are we becoming? When we think of our successors, we lazily imagine sovereign individuals who are somehow more powerful than ourselves, worker, from taxi driver to investment banker. It is encroaching on many of the domains of the “human,” those of expertise, craft and even art, and taste. Low payroll costs mean higher profits, and private companies have no obligation to ensure full participation in the labor market. The advent of that much-heralded thing, the Leisure Society, looks less like a sevenday party weekend than large-scale human warehousing. We define ourselves through our social roles. We are socialized to be useful, to participate, to maintain a state of high productivity. Our politicians, eager to reduce the cost of providing a social security, grind into us the notion that idleness is a great sin. But for many, idleness will be enforced, and along with it the shame of being watched and treated as sinners. For as citizens excluded from economic life, the idle are always the most disruptive and have historically been subject to the most intense surveillance. Posthumanity is too grandiose a term for what is on the horizon. This is about power, and an economic reorganization that is driving wealth upward, not a species evolving toward some sort of Borg-like network form. A nostalgic yearning for the halcyon days of humanity may allow us to strike melancholic poses, but it will do little to halt the vast processes that are driving these changes. Instead we need to imagine a kind of politics that still assigns a value to private life and new forms of belonging that do not revolve around work. JON HAN 6. In France, too-thin models are out In a first for the country considered by many to be the birthplace of fashion, France has enacted a law essentially banning underweight models. The law, which took effect in May, will require doctors to vouch for the wellbeing of models — including having a healthy body mass index. It also requires commercial photographs of models that are retouched to say so, or the agency will be subjected to a hefty fine. FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE — GETTY IMAGES Models present Thom Browne women’s wear during Paris Fashion Week in October. 7. Facebook releases first VR film Facebook’s virtual-reality arm, Oculus, premiered its first full-length V.R. film, “Miyubi,” at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Set in suburban America in the 1980s, the 40-minute film allows the viewer to experience life as seen through the eyes of a toy robot. 8. U.S. scientists repair DNA in human embryo For the first time in the United States, scientists have successfully edited out a dangerous mutation in human embryos, according to a study published in Nature in August. Using a tool called Crispr, scientists managed to erase genes that cause a heart condition that can lead to sudden death later in life. 9. Advances in Chinese industries China’s first homemade aircraft carrier was launched in April. The still-unnamed ship, which was built in less than four years, will be ready for combat by 2020. And less than a month later, China’s first domestically manufactured passenger jet took off from Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport for its maiden voyage. The country hopes to enter the international aviation market with the C919 plane. LI GANG/XINHUA, VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS The first aircraft carrier built entirely in China launched from dry dock in April. 10. Canadian mint releases luminescent coin In commemoration of its 150th anniversary, Canada released a glow-in-the-dark coin into circulation, a first for the country. The $2 coin, which Canadians call a “toonie,” features a lake scene with a sky that glows bluegreen, in honor of the aurora borealis. .. MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 | S7 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION A fractured 2017 How to protect the world from North Korea COHEN, FROM PAGE S1 TURNING POINT: North Korea tests advanced ballistic missile technology. BY MADELEINE ALBRIGHT When the two met in the Oval Office soon after the 2016 election, Barack Obama reportedly told Donald Trump that the Democratic Republic of North Korea, or D.P.R.K., would be the most serious national security challenge he would face as president. After a year of provocative missile tests, fiery rhetoric and dangerous brinkmanship, Mr. Obama’s warning has proved prescient. In 2017, nervousness approached something close to panic as North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs progressed far more rapidly than experts had anticipated. In a breakthrough, Pyongyang tested an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking not only Guam and Hawaii, but also the continental United States. North Korea also detonated its most powerful nuclear device yet, which the regime claimed could be mounted on one of its ICBMs. Instead of offering a clear strategy, President Trump has jumped from one approach to the next, scarcely pausing long enough for observers, including key allies such as South Korea and Japan, to catch their breath. He turned to China to rein in the D.P.R.K., a well-worn approach that, predictably, has not succeeded. He expressed an interest in negotiating directly with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, saying it would be an “honor” to meet him. Then he decided that talking was “not the answer,” even as his top aides were stating their openness to a diplomatic initiative. Along the way he has accused South Korea’s leaders of appeasement and talked about withdrawing from America’s free trade agreement with that country. Practically nothing has been consistent about Mr. Trump’s approach to North Korea, except that he repeatedly blames his predecessors for his predicament. And while he criticizes George W. Bush and Mr. Obama for not doing more, much of his ire is directed at the Clinton administration’s diplomatic efforts, which I participated in as ambassador to the United Nations and as secretary of state. Like Mr. Trump, President Bill Clinton was confronted by North Korean belligerence early on. In 1993, the D.P.R.K. threatened to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and remove the fuel rods from its nuclear reactor, extracting the weapons-grade plutonium they contained — enough to fuel half a dozen nuclear warheads. This precipitated a crisis between Washington and Pyongyang. Our focus was on stopping the D.P.R.K. from developing nuclear weapons, so we applied pressure at the United Nations while also considering our other options, up to and including military strikes aimed at North Korea’s nuclear reactor. Fortunately, through diplomacy, a military clash was avoided. Working closely with our allies, we vigorously engaged with North Korea to conclude an accord we called the Agreed Framework. This required the North to shut down its reactor, seal 8,000 fuel rods containing reprocessed plutonium and freeze its plutonium production facilities, under inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. In return, the United States and our allies agreed to help North Korea cope with its immediate fuel shortages and pay for the construction of two civilian nuclear power plants. The Agreed Framework was not perfect, and implementation fell short on both sides. But it ended the immediate crisis and prevented the North from realizing its potential to develop dozens of nuclear bombs. Had it not been in place, experts have estimated that the D.P.R.K. would have possessed between 50 and 100 nuclear weapons by the time the Bush administration took office. Instead, to our knowledge it had none. To this day, I remain the highest-ranking sitting United States official to have traveled to North Korea. Kim Jong-il, the current leader’s father, and I held two days of intensive talks, during which he appeared willing to accept more significant restraints on the missile programs than we had expected. When the Bush administration came in, it declined to continue negotiations and pursued a more confrontational strategy. 11. A cancer drug breakthrough For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug to treat any tumor sharing certain genetic characteristics — regardless of cancer type. For years, doctors focused on treating cancer cells depending on where they were in the body. Pembrolizumab (known by its brand name Keytruda) is an immunotherapy drug that blocks the cancer cell’s ability to protect itself from the body’s immune system. BRIAN STAUFFER By 2003, the Agreed Framework had collapsed. By 2006, North Korea had tested its first nuclear device. Leaving office, I felt there were many possible directions in which events on the Korean Peninsula might unfold. Unfortunately, after many twists and turns, they have come full circle. The Trump administration is now facing the very specter Mr. Clinton had feared: a North Korea armed with enough nuclear bombs to threaten its neighbors — and the United States — while deterring incoming attacks. Obviously, if this dilemma were easy to resolve, it would have been settled long ago. The fundamental problem is that the North Korean leadership is convinced it requires nuclear weapons to guarantee its own survival. For confirmation, it need only ponder the fate of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Libya’s Muammar el-Qaddafi. However, the most promising way to stabilize the situation does not differ all that much from the Clinton administration’s approach. The United States’ policy toward North Korea should include diplo- 12. Pinpointing baby dinosaur’s parentage For the first time, paleontologists have determined the species of one of the largest known dinosaur eggs, found in central China nearly 25 years ago. According to scientists, the fossilized embryo is a giant oviraptorosaur, a large feathered dinosaur that weighed up to one ton and had sharp claws and a toothless beak. North Korean leadership is convinced it requires nuclear weapons to guarantee its own survival. matic pressure, enhanced military deterrence, close coordination with South Korea and Japan, and a willingness to engage in direct talks, not as a reward to Pyongyang but as a means of doing what is necessary to protect our own security. For too long, American policy has searched in vain for a deft, simple solution to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. The hope has been that the regime in Pyongyang would change, or that China would force it to capitulate. The result has been a backward slide, forfeiting prior gains without substituting anything new. It is time for a more realistic and serious approach — one that exhausts the possibilities of diplomacy, protects our citizens and does not plunge the world into an unnecessary war. 13. India’s latest launch has the world watching India’s space agency set a new world record when it launched 104 satellites from a single rocket in February, overtaking Russia’s previous record of 34. It is no secret that the country has made space exploration and commerce a priority, and this latest launch makes it a serious contender in the private space-travel market. mere adjuncts to men. The world moves on, but in zigzags, not straight lines. The front lines of race are no longer in British India. They are down the street, or over the tracks, within Western societies. Eurocentrism is over. Gender and sexuality are a battleground in the dismantlement of old ways of thinking. Yet the old, especially in male chauvinist form, never goes quietly. It digs in and it fights. Of course, Trump’s reactionary politics do little or nothing for his white blue-collar constituency. What he offers is spectacle. This is the potent lifeblood of his movement: the appearance of action. Statesmanship is such a quaint word because spectacle has replaced it. Trump’s proposed tax cuts are for the rich. Who else? Meanwhile, immigrants in New York and across the country are living in a terrifying dark age. Immigrant workers on farms are often too afraid to leave properties. Arrests of unauthorized immigrants by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency are up 43 percent over last year in the period between Trump’s inauguration and early September. All over the United States, mothers and fathers are being ripped from their children. Young immigrants who thought they could dream of an American future have seen that future denied. The Trump administration has embarked on an all-out attack on the poor, be they recipients of food stamps, or Medicaid, or any federal cushioning of low-income existence and misery. Incompetence has been deified in his Washington. It’s not just the State Department that’s been eviscerated. The Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency are not far behind. “Climate change” is now an unutterable phrase in official circles. Beneath all that Trump noise, ugliness and brutality spread in a fractured America governed by a man who thrives on division. Storms are brewing. The weather itself is weird and violent. Fear spreads. Peace feels more fragile. Technology is a great connector; it is also a great isolator. Individualism lurches into narcissism. Truth and falsehood blur. Stupidity and vulgarity are on the march. An American president tweets about revoking the broadcast license of NBC because its news division is not patriotic enough. This is PutinErdogan-Duterte territory. People start to shrug. Some rejoice. This is the new reality. Trump actually tweets: “Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend — and maybe some day that will happen!” The world will have to get along without America, taking a break in middle school, and without even the idea of America. Good luck to it. The time was ripe; Pax Americana was so 20th century. Chaos is stimulating, even revitalizing. It punishes lazy thinking. It occurs at the ending of something, which must inevitably be the beginning of something else. Of course, chaos can also end badly — before it yields its unknowable fruits. Madeleine Albright was United Nations ambassador from 1993 to 1997 and United States secretary of state from 1997 to 2001. ARUN SANKAR/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE — GETTY IMAGES Onlookers watch as the Indian Space Research Organization launched a flock of 104 satellites into space over the course of 18 minutes. by the eroding but not yet defunct architecture of the postwar order. Trump has not, so far, hurled the world over a cliff. Sure, Russia and Iran won in Syria. Sure, you can get on a motorbike in Tehran and drive through territory mainly under Iranian control or influence all the way to Beirut. Sure, Saudi Arabia, recklessly embraced by Trump, stands somewhere between revolution and implosion under the fast-forwarding, grandstanding Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Sure, SaudiIranian enmity could end in war (in Yemen, it already has). Sure, America’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and from the Paris climate accord signal abandonment of responsibility — as surely as China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative binding countries to its expanding ambition signals confidence and engagement. Sure, Trump has honed nuclear brinkmanship with North Korea. Sure, he hardly knows, and cares less, where Ukraine is or what Vladimir Putin may be doing there. The thing is, Trump thrives on all this upheaval. He believes the world does, too, within limits. As I said, he’s a property guy raised in New York. Property is a conservative business. That’s inside Trump, too: He walks to the edge but not over it. He wouldn’t want prices-per-square-foot to tumble. Markets, as he keeps noting, have soared since he took office. Wall Street loves an administration that looks after the rich (especially if it can pretend its real concern is the American worker). The 21st-century world is a pyramid. Wiring everyone together did not so much empower everyone as connect the elites at the summit, the guys who had the view of everything and the means to turn what they saw into a geyser of cash. Busy with all that, sure of themselves, operating globally, benefiting from cheap labor and taxlite impunity, they scarcely noted that they no longer had much connection with the masses below, whose view was still national, whose culture was still local, and who dimly suffered, with mounting anger, the transformative consequences of globalization. Trump saw that he could be the vehicle of that anger. He grasped that nationalism, nativism and xenophobia were ripe for a rerun. Sovereignty is his mot du jour, even if — or more likely because — ever more of life is lived in a virtual reality where the nation is defunct. The ugly reactionary tide has not yet run its course. Trump will squeeze every last drop of political juice from it in 2018 and beyond. So will Europe’s rightist movements, still vigorous across the continent despite Emmanuel Macron’s uplifting victory in France. The neo-fascists of Poland, of Hungary, are on the march, their anti-Semitism not yet exhausted. In every Western democracy, Trump has helped unleash that which is most foul in human nature. It’s the last stand of the white man, whose century this will not be. Demography is inexorable, as are movements in people’s minds. Wilson could still speak of colonialism as something to be adjusted, rather than the vile white exploitation of dark-skinned people that it was. Women, in his time, were DOUG MILLS/THE NEW YORK TIMES After his 12-day trip through Asia, President Trump said that “America is back” as a global leader. Mr. Trump with President Tran Dai Quang of Vietnam in Hanoi in November. 14. Nepal holds local elections For the first time in two decades, millions of Nepalese voted in local elections, seen as a promising if precarious step as the country slowly transitions to a full-fledged democracy. Nepal has been plagued with years of political instability and virtually no local governance following a 10-year civil war that ended in 2006 and the abolition of the monarchy in 2008. MANISH PAUDEL/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE — GETTY IMAGES A Nepali woman displays an inked thumb after casting her vote in a polling station. 15. Beware the ‘borgs? For the first time, companies are equipping their employees with technology inside their bodies. Epicenter, a company in Sweden, has given its workers the option to have radio frequency identification, or R.F.I.D., technology implanted in their hands. A U.S. company, Three Square Market, has followed suit, giving its employees the option to be “chipped,” which would allow them to open doors and log in to their computers, among other abilities. Critics, however, expressed privacy concerns. .. S8 | MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2017 THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL EDITION The Dalai Lama: How to ward off despair in a time of uncertainty BY THE DALAI LAMA The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual leader of Tibet and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Since 1959 he has lived in exile in Dharamsala, in northern India. A crack in a floating ice shelf in Antarctica reached its breaking point and calved a huge iceberg, setting it afloat in the seas. It’s a fitting image for a world that feels under pressure and on the verge of, well, everything — ready to break off and set itself free. The global political temperature is on the rise, the future of truth is under debate and the specter of nuclear conflict hovers. We asked His Holiness the Dalai Lama for his thoughts on how to cope. We are facing a time of great uncertainty and upheaval in many corners of our planet. When it comes to making the world a better place, concern for others is tantamount. Our future is very much in our hands. Within each of us exists the potential to contribute positively to society. Although one individual among so many on this planet may seem too insignificant to have much of an effect on the course of humanity, it is our personal efforts that will determine the direction our society is heading. Wherever I go, I consider myself just one of 7 billion human beings alive today. We share a fundamental wish: We all want to live a happy life, and that is our birthright. There is no formality when we’re born, and none when we die. In between, we should treat each other as brother and sister because we share this commonality — a desire for peace and contentment. Sadly, we face all sorts of problems, many of them of our own making. Why? Because we are swayed by emotions like selfishness, anger and fear. One of the most effective remedies for dealing with such destructive patterns of thought is to cultivate “loving-kindness” by thinking about the oneness of all the world’s 7 billion humans. If we consider the ways in which we are all the same, the barriers between us will diminish. Compassion enhances our calm and self-confidence, allowing our marvelous human intelligence to function unhindered. Empathy is hard-wired in our genes — studies have shown that babies as young as 4 months experience it. Research has shown again and again that compassion leads to a successful and fulfilling life. Why, then, do we not focus more on cultivating it into adulthood? When we’re angry, our judgment is onesided, as we aren’t able to take all aspects of the situation into account. With a calm mind, we can reach a fuller view of what- ed conflict. If we are to make this century a period of peace, we must resolve problems through dialogue and diplomacy. Since our lives are so intertwined, the interests of others are also our own. I believe that adopting divisive attitudes runs counter to those interests. Our interdependence comes with advantages and pitfalls. Although we benefit from a global economy and an ability to communicate and know what is happening worldwide instantaneously, we also face problems that threaten us all. Climate change in particular is a challenge that calls us more than ever to make a common effort to defend the common good. For those who feel helpless in the face We all want to live a happy life, and that is our birthright. There is no formality when we’re born, and none when we die. ever circumstances we face. Humanity is rich in the diversity that naturally arose from the wide expanse of our world, from the variety of languages and ways of writing to our different societal norms and customs. However, when we overemphasize race, nationality, faith, or income or education level, we forget our many similarities. We want a roof over our heads and food in our bellies, to feel safe and secure, and for our children to grow and be strong. As we seek to preserve our own culture and identity, we must also remember that we are one in being human, and work to maintain our warmheartedness toward all. In the last century, the inclination to solve problems through the use of force was invariably destructive and perpetuat- of insurmountable suffering, we are still in the early years of the 21st century. There is time for us to create a better, happier world, but we can’t sit back and expect a miracle. We each have actions we must take, by living our lives meaningfully and in service to our fellow human beings — helping others whenever we can and making every effort to do them no harm. Tackling destructive emotions and practicing loving-kindness isn’t something we should be doing with the next life, heaven or nirvana in mind, but how we should live in the here and now. I am convinced we can become happier individuals, happier communities and a happier humanity by cultivating a warm heart, allowing our better selves to prevail. BEN GOSS Carolina Herrera on fashion’s evolution A review of what’s ahead Staying true to tradition and consistency The news that will definitely happen in 2018 TURNING POINT: Younger shoppers — those born after 1980 — become the growth engine for the global luxury market. Fashion and the way we shop are constantly being disrupted. Instagram and Facebook monitor our activity and send us targeted, shoppable ads that allow us to buy items with a click. Influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers are paid by brands to wear and write about clothing and accessories in ways that encourage viewers to make purchases. Amazon now sells nearly everything: wedding gowns, car tires, diapers. Many designers are forgoing traditional seasonality and taking a “see now, buy now” approach to sales, allowing customers to buy items as soon as they appear on the runway. All these changes can feel unsettling. The Venezuelan-American designer Carolina Herrera discusses navigating her 36-year-old house through this new consumer landscape. Known for her classic styles, Mrs. Herrera says that while the business of fashion may evolve with the times, the core of the industry — artistry, detail and personal vision — remains unchanged. This conversation has been edited and abridged. —ALEXANDRA POLKINGHORN What do you feel is the most important first connection to make with a potential customer? The first thing someone who comes to buy something asks is “What’s new?” because fashion is all about newness. It’s about having something very special that is very specific for you — to make your own. I design for the woman who desires something feminine, luxurious and special, but that also fits her modern lifestyle. What are some of the biggest evolutions happening in fashion right now? The digital world has changed the way people view fashion. Social media, Instagram, Facebook have never been more relevant in telling the brand story. Years ago, fashion was something very few people were involved in; now it’s everywhere. With the internet, anyone can see the shows while they’re happening. For example, I have an Instagram for the Carolina Herrera house that gives people exclusive access into the atelier and design process. It allows people to be more informed about the clothes. Fashion is a dream that suddenly has to become reality. You have to wear it, which is why I always say that fashion is art in movement. It changes all the time and it changes very quickly now with each collection, but that doesn’t change its allure and mystery. What remains consistent? I’ve always made clothes that make women look beautiful and feel feminine. Elegance never goes out of style. I always say that I’m not working in the fashion business; I’m working in the beauty business. I want women who wear Herrera to really feel confident in what they are wearing. Style isn’t just what you PATRICK CHAPPATTE FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES 16. Painting of skull smashes record for U.S. artists Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1982 painting, “Untitled,” featuring a skull rendered in his distinctive street-art style, sold at auction for $110.5 million, in May, making it the most expensive painting sold by any American artist to date. Coming Up: DON EMMERT/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE — GETTY IMAGES A Sotheby’s official talks about American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Untitled.” 17. A major edit for anatomy books Scientists have discovered a new organ in the human body. Called the mesentery, it was first thought to be a fragmented part of the digestive system. Researchers in Ireland, however, have proved that it is one organ — a set of tissues that line the abdominal cavity. Women to take the wheel in Saudi Arabia A royal decree has lifted the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia. The decision, which will allow more women to work and ease the financial and logistical burden of having to hire a driver, is in line with the new crown prince’s plan to stimulate the country’s stagnant economy. The kingdom will start granting women driver’s licenses in June 2018. REEM BAESHEN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE — GETTY IMAGES A woman drives her car in the Saudi coastal city of Jeddah. By the middle of next year, women will be able to obtain a driver’s license without permission from a male relative. wear, but how you wear it. It’s a personal thing that is reflected in the way you live and arrange your house, your taste in books and art, and the personal stamp you give to everything you touch. Why is New York so important to you? New York is a very important place for fashion. I am Venezuelan, but I am an American designer because I started designing in New York over 35 years ago. It’s always been important for me to have an in-house atelier and to support the city and the garment district that has supported the brand. New York is a constant source of inspiration. There is always something happening — its energy is contagious. There is inspiration everywhere if you are open to it. You’ve spoken about the importance of design integrity and style. Are you concerned about maintaining pace with current trends? I don’t believe in trends. If everyone follows trends, then we will all look the same, and what fun is that? Fashion should be an expression of yourself. I’ve always stayed true to the style codes of the house and have kept my eyes open — beauty has a way of finding you that way. And yet you’ve managed to stay so current. How? This is a 36-year-old house. A designer has to stay true to who they are and what their house is while creating clothes for today. We are in another era. I cannot sit still and do the same things that I did in the ’80s or in the ’90s. The landscape has totally changed. The world is completely different because of technology and global access to information. Fashion is everywhere now — it’s on the phone or computer, it’s in television, it’s in films. What is produced has to be something new in the consumer’s eyes. It’s a huge challenge, but it’s also very exciting because nobody knows whether it’s magical, it’s madness or it’s beautiful. Fashion is not a revolution, it’s an evolution. Indigenous woman plans presidential bid in Mexico An indigenous woman is running for president in Mexico in 2018, making her the first in the country to do so. Maria de Jesús Patricio Martínez, also known as “Marichuy,” is a healer from Jalisco, and has the support of the Zapatistas, a left-wing group that led a 12-day uprising in the country’s south in 1994. MAURICIO LIMA FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES Maria de Jesús Patricio Martínez hopes to bring attention to issues affecting the Mexico’s indigenous population.