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International New York Times - 2 November 2018

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A barrel
of untruths
as Trump
woos voters
divides Italy
and the E.U.
Luigi Zingales
Midterm campaign effort
brings false claims
of rioting and threats
The New York Times publishes opinion
from a wide range of perspectives in
hopes of promoting constructive debate
about consequential questions.
In Brazil, a blood bath foretold
President-elect promises
drastic measures to end
a plague of violent crime
Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s next president,
won over millions of voters by vowing to
make it easier for the police to kill criminals and crush the nation’s violent
gangs, often flashing a gun sign with his
A “good criminal is a dead criminal,”
Mr. Bolsonaro said on the campaign
The type of draconian approach Mr.
Bolsonaro promised has already been
employed for months in his home state
of Rio de Janeiro, where the Brazilian
military has overseen security operations since February. It has led to a
surge in killings by the authorities —
and a debate over whether the tactic is
Between March and September, the
police and the army killed at least 922
people in the state of Rio de Janeiro, a 45
percent increase from the same period
last year.
Nearly one in every four people killed
Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s next president, said in August that police officers who gun down
armed criminals with “10 or 30 shots need to be decorated, not prosecuted.”
here since March has died at the hands
of the state.
Opinion polls suggest that a broad
majority of people in Rio de Janeiro support the military intervention. But while
reports of crimes like robberies and
cargo theft have declined in the first seven months of the military takeover, the
total number of violent deaths in the
state has increased.
A remake of ‘Suspiria’
gets modern dance right
in a manner all its own
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Brazilian troops in the city of Rio de Janeiro. The military has overseen security operations in the local state since February, leading to a surge of killings by the authorities.
“The reduction of violence is strategic
to Brazil,” said Samira Bueno, the executive director of the Brazilian Forum for
Public Security, which studies violence
trends. But so far, she added, “it has
been discussed through myths and formulations that aren’t fact or evidence
Brazilians broadly agree that drastic
measures need to be taken to curb the
Casting a witchy spell with movement alone
The language in Luca Guadagnino’s remake of the horror film “Suspiria” goes
beyond words. His witches speak in
In one scene, a dancer — Susie (Dakota Johnson) — performs in a studio, expelling sharp, sudden breaths as she
rises and falls, her arms shooting out
like daggers.
Another dancer, older and worn
down, finds herself locked in a mirrored
room; she twitches and contorts as she
slams into walls and onto the floor to the
sound of her own snapping bones. They
protrude through her flesh as if they
were splitting seams.
What’s stunning about the scene isn’t
just the violence (though that is shocking), but how Susie’s movements control
the other dancer, and how the energy
extraordinary wave of violent crime in
the country, which led to the deaths of a
record 63,880 people last year.
In Rio de Janeiro State alone, more
than 5,197 people have been killed this
year — far more than the 3,438 civilians
killed in conflict last year in Afghanistan, according to United Nations figures.
The staggering level of violence
weighed heavily on voters in the elections last weekend. Along with Mr. Bolsonaro, other politicians who had vowed
to hunt down criminals were rewarded
at the polls, setting the stage for a period
of intensified bloodletting.
Mr. Bolsonaro, who won by a decisive
margin, said in August that police officers who gun down armed criminals
with “10 or 30 shots need to be decorated, not prosecuted.”
Wilson Witzel, a former federal judge
who was elected governor of Rio de Janeiro State in an upset victory clinched
by running as a Bolsonaro ally, put organized crime groups on warning during a
speech days before the vote.
“There will be no shortage of places to
send criminals,” he said. “We’ll dig
graves, and as to prisons, if necessary
we’ll put them on ships.”
This week, he said he favors extending the military intervention, which is
set to end in January, for an additional 10
months. And he proposed using snipers,
As he barnstorms the country trying to
help Republican allies, President Trump
has offered voters this fall a litany of
misleading statements and falsehoods
that exaggerate even legitimate accomplishments and distort opponents’
views beyond the typical bounds of political spin.
In the past couple of weeks alone, the
president has spoken of riots that have
not happened, claimed deals that have
not been reached, cited jobs that have
not been created and spun dark conspiracies that have no apparent basis in reality. He has pulled figures seemingly
out of thin air, rewritten history and contradicted his own past comments.
The catalog of inaccurate claims
ranges from the weighty to the headscratching.
He has asserted that construction has
begun on his border wall (it has not),
that he is one of the most popular American presidents in history (he is not), that
he “always” opposed the Iraq war (he
did not), that the stock market reopened
the day after the terrorist attacks of
Sept. 11, 2001 (it did not), that his tax cut
was the largest in history (it was not)
and that the United States is the only
country that guarantees citizenship to
those born there (it is not).
As he embarks on a final eight-state
blitz before the midterm elections on
Tuesday, Mr. Trump has hammered
Democrats — not just for their actual
policy positions but for some they have
not taken. He accused them, without
proof, of helping to orchestrate a caravan of Central American migrants; complained that Democrats had opposed
opioid legislation when in fact they universally voted for it; and asserted that
they would not protect patients with
pre-existing conditions — even though
that was the heart of President Barack
Obama’s health care program.
Mr. Trump’s penchant for prevarication has been a well-documented hallmark of his presidency. He dismisses
journalists who point out his falsehoods
as nit-pickers who do not understand
that he is speaking a larger truth that
resonates with many Americans. Supporters at his rallies across the country
tell reporters that they understand he
may not be strictly accurate in his roaring stump speeches, but they see him as
a champion of their values.
Still, even some in Mr. Trump’s orbit
acknowledge that this campaign season
has brought out a torrent of untruths
that, they worry, distracts from a record
he should be proud to outline factually.
“If you want me to say he’s a liar, I’m
happy to say he’s a liar,” said Anthony
Scaramucci, who served a highly abbreviated 11-day stint as White House com-
Dancers in the horror film “Suspiria,” a remake of the 1977 cult classic. While the new
version is over-the-top, unlike most dance movies it is not riddled with stereotypes.
sweeping through Susie’s body is palpably wild and free.
The scene also serves as a sly metaphor for what happens when an aging
dancer is confronted with a younger,
fresher version of herself. There may
not be broken bones, but the result can
feel just as violent. “In one room, you see
the force of life,” the film’s choreographer, Damien Jalet, said in an interview. “And in the other it is the force of
“Suspiria” — as over-the-top as it is —
is different. Most dance films, like “Center Stage” and “Black Swan,” are riddled
with stereotypes. Finally, here is a film
that gets dance right.
In the original “Suspiria,” Dario Argento’s 1977 cult classic, a ballet academy is home to a coven of witches. But in
Mr. Guadagnino’s version, set that same
year in divided Cold War Berlin, the
dancers gracing the screen aren’t ballerinas; they’re neither wispy nor ethereal. In Mr. Guadagnino’s view, that
witchy power is better unleashed
through modern dance.
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Issue Number
No. 42,188
Last week, the European Union Commission rejected the 2019 fiscal budget
proposed by the new Italian government. The E.U.C.’s vice president, Valdis
Dombrovskis, argued that the commission, the bloc’s administrative body, had
no alternative but to reject the budget.
Italy’s proposed deficit — equal to 2.4
percent of gross domestic product — is
too large to guarantee the reduction in
the ratio of debt to G.D.P. required by the
amended Stability and Growth Pact,
which regulates countries in the eurozone.
This decision has no immediate economic consequences, but it does have
huge political ones. It marks a sharp
increase in the political tension between
Italy and the rest of
Europe — tension
The political
that might even
interests of
cause Italy to exit
both sides are from the eurozone.
in a collision
This escalation is
with their
in the short-term
political interest of
both sides, but it is
political and
against their longeconomic
term political and
economic interests.
How is it possible that
the Italy-Europe
relationship has arrived at this low
Italy is in a long-term economic decline. Its per capita income has been
stagnant for about 25 years. Nearly
200,000 people, mostly young and
highly educated, leave the country
every year, an acute threat when combined with an aging population (with a
strikingly high proportion of citizens
aged 65 and over). A large inherited
debt burden makes it difficult to finance
even basic infrastructure investments.
Italy’s economic problems are mostly
of its own making. But they are compounded by European Union rules (or
lack of thereof ). Without a domestic
central bank, the Italian treasuries
market is prone to self-fulfilling panics.
Italian banks, which do not have a reliable system of deposit insurance, face
the risk of a similar panic. Following the
2008-09 crisis, Italy experienced a
second painful recession in 2011-13,
entirely driven by these risks, which are
outside its control.
Exasperated by stagnant income and
increased uncertainty, Italians overwhelmingly voted last March for two
parties — the Five Star Movement and
the League — that promised change,
especially in the relationship between
Italy and the European Union.
Italy’s E.U. partners, however, have
shown no interest in reshaping this
2 | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2018
page two
Filipino star
who made
soul music
his own
In Brazil, a blood bath foretold
some aboard helicopters, to gun down
anyone spotted carrying a weapon in
low-income urban communities known
as favelas.
João Doria, a former mayor of São
Paulo who was elected governor of São
Paulo State on Sunday in a tight race,
vowed to raise money so that the “best
lawyers” could defend police officers
sued for killing suspected criminals.
Drug gangs have controlled scores of
neighborhoods in several large cities in
Brazil for decades, becoming the de
facto authorities in areas the police seldom go into. Confrontations for territorial control between rival gangs, and
clashes with the security forces, greatly
contributed to the record bloodshed last
Gustavo Bebianno, a prominent member of the Bolsonaro campaign who has
expressed interest in serving as his justice minister, said that Brazil’s growing
violence problem will “become irreversible” unless decisive action is taken
“If a lowlife is on the street carrying a
weapon ostentatiously, he should be a
target,” Mr. Bebianno said. “You don’t
talk. You talk after shooting. Why would
a decent person be carrying a weapon of
war ostentatiously on a public street?”
Gen. Walter Souza Braga Netto, the
army commander who was appointed to
lead the military intervention in Rio de
Janeiro, said the vast majority of people
killed by the police are “irrational
Asked to explain the surge in police
killings since the intervention began,
General Braga Netto explained that his
men had trained the police in marksmanship and helped them procure and
maintain equipment, leading to better
“There was a lot of shooting, and basically no one hit anyone,” he said, referring to police operations before the intervention began. “We trained the police
and they learned how to hit the target.”
Experts warn that encouraging the
police to become even more lethal is unlikely to address the root causes of violence, and may well exacerbate them.
“You’re implementing the death penalty in the police’s day-to-day activities,”
said Ms. Bueno. “In addition to being illegal, contrary to the constitution and
immoral, it will make police officers
more vulnerable.”
Much of the violence in Rio de Janeiro
is driven by criminal organizations
known as militias, made up of activeduty and retired police officers and military personnel acting on their own.
They have become increasingly powerful in communities neglected by the
state by extorting protection money
from residents, operating unlicensed
public transportation businesses and
muscling into the drug trade.
Militias are suspected of some of the
worst crimes committed in the city of
Rio de Janeiro, including the drive-by
shooting of Marielle Franco, a leftist
City Council member killed in March,
and the killing of a judge in 2012.
Many residents in areas that have become increasingly lethal battlegrounds
dread the prospect of more violence in
the months ahead and question whether
the military intervention will produce a
lasting drop in crime.
“It puts everyone at risk,” said Sueli
Oliveira, 73, who lives in the Santa
A soldier’s funeral in Rio de Janeiro. So far, 5,197 people have been killed in Rio de Janeiro State this year, more than the 3,438 civilians killed in Afghanistan in all of last year.
Marta favela in Rio de Janeiro. She
noted that some of the soldiers who have
been deployed to restless favelas in recent months hail from those communities. “They’re pitting the poor against
the poor,” she said.
Senior military leaders also appear
far from enthusiastic about the increasing militarization of policing.
“The armed forces can’t keep the public security of states under its guardianship indefinitely,” Gen. Braga Netto
said. “We come, give support, teach
them how to manage it, and then we
Augusto Heleno Ribeiro Pereira, a retired general whom Mr. Bolsonaro intends to name as defense minister, said
that the new president hasn’t signaled
whether he wants to continue to rely
heavily on the military to address urban
“It’s not the mission of our dreams in
the armed forces, but if it is necessary, it
will continue,” Mr. Heleno said.
Adriana Beltrán, a security expert at
the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights group, said Latin
American leaders are increasingly finding it tempting to rely on the armed
forces in areas where the police are outgunned and the criminal justice system
is dysfunctional. But Brazilian leaders
should take note of what has happened
in Mexico and Honduras, she said.
“The use of the military has not resulted in the disruption of criminal ac-
Drug traffickers securing an alley in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Gangs control neighborhoods in several Brazilian cities — the de facto authorities in areas the police seldom go.
tivity or dismantling of criminal networks,” Ms. Beltrán said. “In many
cases, gangs and criminal groups have
increased their level of organization and
sophistication. The cases of Mexico and
Honduras demonstrate how the reliance
on the military for policing can increase
human rights abuses, including torture,
Beyond proposing to ease the rules of
engagement for the police, Mr. Bolsonaro has said that some teenagers
should be prosecuted as adults for violent crimes, and he has promised to
make it easier for civilians to lawfully
carry weapons for self-defense.
The rise of tough-on-crime politicians
effectively marks the end of the policing
strategies that helped drive down violence in the city of Rio de Janeiro when
they were set in motion a decade ago.
In 2008, the government established a
network of what it called Pacification
Police Units in favelas across the city in
an effort to wrest territorial control from
criminal groups. The government managed to reestablish control of dozens of
formerly lawless areas, often without
firing a shot, paving the way for promised investments in education, health
and sanitation.
Those investments, however, never
fully materialized. And the approach
was abandoned amid a state budget
shortfall that was exacerbated by a
sweeping corruption scandal.
Joelma Viana, a 39-year-old single
mother who lives in Chatuba da Penha, a
favela in the north of the city, said her life
was turned upside down in August during a two-day operation in her neighborhood.
Ms. Viana, a cook, said the police ransacked her home, destroyed a television
set and stole a jewelry box, a watch she
had bought her son for his birthday and
her favorite pair of hoop earrings.
“The modest amount I have been able
to save has been a product of a lot of sacrifice, so in that moment, I felt demolished,” said Ms. Viana, who filed a police
report on the theft and destruction of
her property. “After living here for 38
years, I have never faced something like
this. I feel humiliated. I want justice.”
Mariana Simões and Brent McDonald
contributed reporting.
The witchy power of modern dance
“Dario making it classical ballet was a
big mistake, a misstep,” Mr. Guadagnino
said. “If you are a witch, you are on the
fringe. You are not at the center. These
are women that don’t go for the establishment — they go for what is on the
border of the establishment. I thought it
was more important that they were going to be radical artists.”
Martha Graham is one of the dance
artists haunting this film, along with two
German choreographers: the expressionist Mary Wigman (1886-1973) —
aptly, one her most famous works is
“Witch Dance” — and Pina Bausch, who
created dense, extravagant works of
dance-theater. Tilda Swinton, as Madame Blanc, the artistic director of the fictional Helena Markos Dance Company,
draws on all three.
Slim as a feather, with hair cascading
down her back and a cigarette perpetually wedged between her slender fingers, Madame Blanc snaps at dancers
but is somehow — and this is one of
many realistic touches in the film —
both sharp and maternal. “You don’t
look better,” she tells Susie at one point.
“Or are you this pale all the time?”
She can also echo Graham, without
being a parody of her, when she talks
about the power of movement: “It’s a series of energetic shapes written in the
air like words forming sentences. Like
poems. Like prayers.”
How did Mr. Guadagnino, the director
responsible for the coming-of-age film
“Call Me by Your Name,” become so enamored of dance? When he was 15, a
couple of years after first he saw “Suspiria,” he attended a performance of
“Palermo Palermo,” by Bausch’s
Tanztheater Wuppertal, based in Germany.
He loved it so much he saw it twice.
“I felt, Why is it that I am watching
something that is nonverbal and I’m understanding everything?” he said.
He realized then, he said, that narra-
In “Suspiria,” Tilda Swinton, as Madame Blanc, combines elements of Martha Graham, Mary Wigman and Pina Bausch.
tive could be transmitted without words.
In “Suspiria,” dance is used as a tool to
express the power of the witches. “It’s
not this kind of marketing idea of the
Amazonian world of women who have
power,” Mr. Guadagnino said. “It’s more
about, what is at the center of a world of
sacrifice, discipline and the bending of
To capture the dance world as authentically as possible, David Kajganich immersed himself in dance history while
writing the screenplay. As part of his research, he even shadowed the German
choreographer Sasha Waltz. “It was instrumental in understanding how one
talks about dance on a casual level,” he
In the film, Madame Blanc says:
“There are two things that dance can
never be again. Beautiful and cheerful.
Today we need to break the nose of every beautiful thing.” Mr. Kajganich
wrote that line in response to a quota-
tion by Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi minister of propaganda, who in 1937 said,
“Dance must be cheerful and show
beautiful female bodies and have nothing to do with philosophy.”
“Suspiria” also has ties to this period.
The Markos Company’s signature
dance, “Volk,” was created in the ’40s. A
strident work with Ms. Johnson as its
centerpiece, “Volk” relies on the power
of the collective — hinting at the rise of
fascism — as the dancers play off one
another’s breath like a pulsating organism. The idea of gravity is there, too;
they surrender themselves and their
bodies to a certain fate. It’s as if there
were a gravitational pull.
The movement language of the
witches dates to 2013 when, at the Louvre, Mr. Jalet, a French-Belgian contemporary choreographer, staged the trio
“Les Médusées,” inspired by the original “Suspiria.” “Volk” is an expanded
version of “Les Médusées.”
“‘Volk’ is so omnipresent in the film
because they keep on rehearsing it and
they talk a lot about it,” Mr. Jalet said. “It
was created in the ’40s, but still is performed in the ’70s. That’s a tricky one.”
In other words, Mr. Jalet didn’t want
to get stuck in trying to recreate a historical piece. “It couldn’t be too flowy,”
he said. “At the same time, I wanted to
keep a kind of freedom with it.”
The structure of “Volk” is based on a
pentagram or two opposing stars. “It
also looked a little bit like a spider’s web
on which the dancers are moving
through kind of a hidden network,” Mr.
Jalet said. “So they can’t really escape.”
He made a discovery with Ms. Johnson, who trained for a year before shooting began with Mary Helen Bowers,
who worked with Natalie Portman on
“Black Swan.” Her shoulder blades are
naturally loose. Very loose.
“Somehow it’s disturbing to watch
when she’s doing it,” Mr. Jalet said. “She
really transforms — it’s beautiful because it really came from her.”
Ms. Johnson, who was on a dance
team in her teens, had no idea that her
shoulder blades were so flexible. “I
would do a lot of warm-ups to get my
back really loose and warm so that we
could exaggerate it even more,” she
said, “and make it look like an animal.”
And not unlike her character, Ms.
Johnson discovered, through dance, a
power she didn’t have before. “I feel far
more connected to my body,” she said. “I
learned that from the dancers.’’
Rico J. Puno, a pop singer from the Philippines who channeled American superstars to forge a distinctive brand of local
soul music, died on Tuesday in Taguig,
east of Manila. He was 65.
A sister-in-law, Anna Puno, confirmed
his death in an Instagram post. The Philippine news media reported on Tuesday
that the cause of death was cardiac arrest; Mr. Puno had triple-bypass heart
surgery in 2015.
Mr. Puno became famous in the 1970s
by covering American hits — including
Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were”
and Marvin Gaye’s “Baby I’m for Real”
— in a mix of English and Tagalog, the
dominant language in the Philippines.
Those recordings put him in the vanguard of the Manila Sound, Filipino popular music from roughly the mid-1970s
through the end of the Ferdinand Marcos era, in 1986.
While the Manila Sound encompassed many genres with roots in the
United States, such as soul and disco, it
also had a distinct melodic style that incorporated Filipino folk traditions and
transcended foreign influences, said
Joel Quizon, a D.J., filmmaker and music
curator in Los Angeles. He said the term
Original Pilipino Music eventually replaced Manila Sound as a shorthand for
Filipino pop music.
As Mr. Puno’s profile grew over the
years, he became known throughout the
Philippines as the larger-than-life Total
Entertainer. Among many other
projects, he was a longtime spokesman
for San Miguel beer; the host of “Lunch
Date,” a popular television variety
show; and a star on the sitcom “Home
Sweetie Home.”
He also represented Makati City, in
the Manila area, as a city councilor from
1998 to 2007, and was re-elected in 2016
after losing a 2010 race for vice mayor.
“We express our condolences to the
legend that is Rico J. Puno,” Salvador
Panelo, a spokesman for President Ro-
A pop singer who covered
an array of American hits in
a mix of English and his
native Tagalog.
drigo Duterte, told reporters on Tuesday. “He has contributed a lot to the music industry.”
Despite his forays into television and
politics, Mr. Puno was perhaps best
known as Macho Gwapito, or Little
Handsome, a nickname derived from his
hit song of the same name.
The term “refers usually to young and
rising movie teen stars, but what was
wonderful about Rico J., as he was
called, was that he impishly appropriated it,” said Patricio Abinales, a professor
of Asian studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “So he was not only the
‘ultimate macho,’ but he was also ‘little
handsome,’ which endeared him to
younger women.”
Enrico De Jesus Puno was born on
Feb. 13, 1953, and grew up in Manila, according to a short biography posted on
his website. After earning a bachelor’s
degree in business administration, he
tried to find work as a bell boy. But when
he failed to get the job, he ended up singing folk songs in Manila nightclubs.
Mr. Puno’s big break — a deal with Vicor Records — was precipitated by an
encounter in the 1970s with the Motown
band the Temptations at the Palazzi, a
club where Mr. Puno played regularly. It
was during this period that he recorded
his signature version of “The Way We
Were,” among other popular American
Mr. Puno made American music his
own by adding bawdy lyrics and banter
in Tagalog. One of his best-known covers, for example, was “You Don’t Have
to Be a Star,” by Marilyn McCoo and
Billy Davis Jr. He embellished it with
this line: “Even if you’re ugly, I still need
Over the years, Mr. Puno performed
solo and with the Hitmakers, a group
that included the Filipino musicians Rey
Valera and Hajji Alejandro.
“Rico, Valera and Hajji were three of
the biggest stars of the glory days of Filipino music,” the music columnist Baby
A. Gil wrote in The Philippine Star in
2002. “It is to their credit that they have
retained the same vast degree of talent,
unique performing style and the capability to excite an audience over nearly
30 years.”
In the 1970s and early ′80s, Mr. Puno’s
star rose at a time when the Marcos regime, which led the Philippines with an
iron fist for two decades, was promoting
local songwriting competitions. Mr.
Quizon, the music curator, said that the
largely upbeat Manila Sound that Mr.
Puno helped pioneer was occasionally
“derided as too happy or optimistic, especially during that time’s political climate.” But Mr. Puno, a Marcos supporter, was not one to apologize for his art.
His website says that his destiny was to
be “the Philippines’ one and only Total
His survivors include a daughter,
Tosca Camille Puno-Ramos.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2018 | 3
Troops train for war that is actually cold
display its ability to mount a full-scale
response to an invasion of an ally from
multiple locations within 30 days.
Russia has certainly taken note, as
Moscow has sent official observers to
watch the exercise. American officials
said Russians had also rented farms in
the Norwegian countryside for some unauthorized snooping on the alliance’s
military tactics.
And Russian officials said they knew
the exercise was aimed at them.
“All this talk from NATO about Russia
not being the target of Trident Juncture
doesn’t hold water,” Lt. Gen. Valery Zaparenko, a former deputy chief of the
Russian general staff, told RT, a Kremlin-funded television network. “Even if
NATO says otherwise, Trident Juncture
is really preparation for a large-scale
armed conflict in regions bordering with
the Russian Federation.”
Officials with the Atlantic alliance
said Russia had nothing to worry about
— so long as Moscow does not get aggressive with alliance members. The
After conflicts in places
like Iraq, NATO exercise
gives taste of chilly weather
Among hundreds of Marines boarding
amphibious assault vehicles this week
to get from the frigid sea to the frigid
beach, Lance Cpl. Jacob Boutte was
armed with a secret weapon: black Merino-wool long johns.
They were not part of the Marine
Corps’s standard kit during 17 years of
deployments to the warmer climes of Afghanistan, Djibouti, Iraq and Syria. So
as he prepared to embark on one of the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s
largest exercises since the end of the
Cold War, Corporal Boutte turned to allies for help.
“I talked to the Norwegians about
what they use,” he said.
“We haven’t fought in the cold in a
long time,” said Sgt. Juan Carlos Banda,
a platoon leader with the 24th Marine
Expeditionary Unit, which is based at
Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
Roughly 15,000 American troops,
most of them Marines, are participating
in the Norway exercise, called Trident
Hovering over it is a consuming narrative about the alliance’s next possible
war: the more immediate adversary is
closer to northern Europe. It is Russia.
The country’s president, Vladimir V.
Putin, has made no secret of his distaste
for the Atlantic alliance’s encroachment
into territory he considers part of his
sphere of influence — particularly in the
Baltics and in the Balkans.
And since Moscow seized Crimea
from Ukraine in 2014, Western officials
have worried that NATO states could be
Warfare in northern Europe would be
entirely different than recent conflicts.
It requires attention to a separate set of
small details, like carrying cold-weather
lubricant for machine guns, as well as
seismic decisions, like moving thousands of men and women, and their
heavy machinery and weapons, across
fields packed with snow — something
American troops have not had to worry
much about for more than a half-century.
The Americans are among 50,000 allied troops participating in the Trident
Juncture exercise, which is based in
Trondheim, Norway. The official line
from there, according to Lt. Col. Ben
Sakrisson, is that the war game is “entirely defensive in nature.”
In an email to reporters before the exercise began, Colonel Sakrisson said Trident Juncture was “focused on ensuring
the continued freedom and liberty of our
allies’ nations, and partners, and their
“The strongest deterrent against any
adversary encroaching on our nations’
territories is a credible and well-practiced collective defensive capability,” he
Unprovoked, the Atlantic alliance
does not plan to attack Russia. Still,
Eastern European members of the
group worry that Mr. Putin will, at some
point, challenge the collective defense
Hovering over Trident Juncture
is a consuming narrative about
the alliance’s next possible war,
with Russia as an adversary.
Clockwise from top: An MV-22 Osprey, the United States Marine Corps’s main assault support aircraft, landing on the deck of the Iwo Jima; the mess deck of the Iwo Jima; a Marine adjusting a satellite dish in Vaernes, Norway. The Americans are among 50,000 allied troops participating in the Trident Juncture exercise based in Trondheim, Norway.
compact, which holds that an attack on
one ally is an attack on all. This year,
President Trump questioned the agreement, putting the alliance on the spot
and potentially weakening its backbone.
The premise of the exercise is that
Norway has been invaded by hostile
“South Forces.” For the purpose of the
war game, the enemy invaders are being played mostly by British, Dutch,
German and Italian troops.
Coming to the rescue are the “North
Forces” representing NATO — United
States Marines and brigades of soldiers
from Canada, Norway and Sweden.
In September, only days after Hurricane Florence tore through much of the
Southeast, the Marines and 1,500 members of the Navy left Norfolk, Va., aboard
the amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima.
They weathered choppy seas and frigid
winds for 10 days on the Atlantic Ocean
before arriving in Reykjavik, Iceland.
The Marines aboard the ship had prepared to practice an attack in Reykjavik
before the Trident Juncture exercise in
Norway but had to cancel.
“Sea conditions were too rough,”
Adm. James G. Foggo III, the head of the
Allied Joint Force Command based in
Naples, Italy, said Monday in an interview. “It’s an exercise, not a war, and we
decided to hold off because we didn’t
want to swamp the vehicles.”
The Iceland exercise began on Monday and stretched over two days. It saw
Marines pour from large hovercraft that
had moved troops and vehicles from the
Iwo Jima and onto a beach. Once on
land, they scaled steep hills and rumbled along roads, heading south, toward
advancing enemy forces played by Italians.
The larger Trident Juncture war
game will continue through next
Wednesday and will include mock assaults on Norwegian towns and a ski resort. The drills will involve clandestine
water crossings and battles — although,
thankfully for residents, not with live
It is the largest iteration of the Trident
Juncture exercise since 1991, when the
Cold War ended.
The 50,000 troops — from all 29 NATO
member states, plus Finland and Sweden — arrived within the past 30 days,
with 65 ships, 250 warplanes and more
than 10,000 vehicles.
Officials said the alliance wanted to
speed with which it moved troops and
war equipment to Norway from 29 countries, Admiral Foggo said, “sends a message to Russians, or anybody else that
might want to encroach on the
sovereignty of any of our members.”
In the mock invasion, Italian troops
led the multinational armored brigade.
Germany’s 232nd Mountain Infantry
Battalion thundered in by train. And tiny
Montenegro sent a platoon, even after
being disparaged by Mr. Trump in July
as having people who could “get aggressive, and congratulations, you’re in
World War III.”
The American Marines flung themselves at the Norwegian beaches from
the water, like on D-Day.
But for all the show of force, the troops
have been running into trouble with the
cold weather. Two Italian soldiers ended
up with hypothermia after spending the
night in below-freezing temperatures.
Capt. Joseph O’Brien of the Navy, the
commanding officer of the Iwo Jima,
found himself suddenly tending to the
heaters on his ship — just back from five
months off the coast of Djibouti — to ensure they still worked.
And Cpl. Jeremy Seabridge, a Marine
rifleman, said he was focused on making
sure his troops changed their socks regularly to prevent trench foot, caused by
prolonged exposure to the cold.
“A lot of them are from Southern
states,” said Cpl. Derek Hussinger, a machine-gunner.
Last week, from just below Iwo Jima’s
flight deck, Col. Eric D. Cloutier, the
commanding officer for the 24th Marine
Expeditionary Unit, surveyed the impressive array of amphibious vehicles
ready to pour out of his ship.
Hot or cold, he said, his Marines
would get the job done. But, he added, “I
do worry how our equipment and personnel will do” with acclimating to “the
high north.”
Julian E. Barnes contributed reporting
from Washington, and Henrik Pryser Libel from Oslo, Norway.
Vancouver’s entrenched pot culture defies legalization
In the pot-friendly city of Vancouver, illegal marijuana dispensaries outnumber Starbucks outlets, and among the
most popular is Weeds, Glass and Gifts.
There, in a relaxed space reminiscent of
the coffee chain, jovial “budtenders” sell
coconut chocolate bars infused with marijuana and customers smoke powerful
pot concentrates at a sleek dab bar.
When Canada legalized recreational
marijuana, on Oct. 17, one of the central
aims was to shut down the thousands of
illegal dispensaries and black market
growers dotting the country. But taming
an illegal trade estimated at 5.3 billion
Canadian dollars, or $4 billion, is starting to look daunting.
Many of the products sold at Weeds,
Glass and Gifts are banned under the
new law, which restricts licensed retailers to selling fresh or dried cannabis,
seeds, plants and oil. Yet the retailer’s
owner, Don Briere, an ebullient 67-yearold and self-styled pot crusader, has no
intention of shutting down his four Vancouver stores or changing his product
lineup. He even has plans for expansion
with a new line of outlawed canine marijuana treats that purport to reduce pet
“We’ll keep selling what we are selling,” said Mr. Briere, who in 2001 was
sentenced to four years in prison for being one of British Columbia’s most prolific pot producers.
The Canadian government faces
many challenges in stamping out the illegal marijuana industry. For one, there
are too many black market shops like
Mr. Briere’s for the government to keep
track of. And as sluggish provincial bureaucracies struggle to manage a new
regulatory system, licenses to operate
legally are hard to come by, giving illegal
sellers added impetus to defy the law.
At the same time, the police and the
public have little appetite for a national
“The government taking over the
cannabis trade is like asking a farmer to
build airplanes,” Mr. Briere added.
Canadian policymakers say legalization is a giant national undertaking that
will take years to be enforced. Mike
Farnworth, British Columbia’s minister
of public safety, argued that civic pressure and market forces would help gradually diminish the illegal trade.
“It’s a very Canadian way of doing
things,” he said. “It won’t happen
overnight.” There will, he added, be no
mass raids, “guns and head-bashing.”
Nevertheless, he noted, newly created “community safety units” in British
Columbia, staffed by 44 unarmed inspectors, have been given the power to
raid dispensaries without a search warrant, seize illegal products and shut
them down.
In the days since legalization took effect, there have been signs of a chill, if a
modest one. In Toronto, police raided
five illegal pot retailers, two days after
the law went into effect. Dozens of others in Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa
have voluntarily closed their doors to
avoid being shut out of the legal market.
Even Mr. Briere, who once owned 36
shops across Canada, is applying for
government licenses for his stores, and
has shuttered nine shops, including in
Ottawa, Alberta and Saskatchewan. He
is steering those customers to his illegal
online shop instead.
Yet hundreds of black market pot out-
work, take pot-fueled hikes and chat
about strains of vaunted “BC bud” —
grown illegally near snow-covered
mountains in the southeast of the province — as if discussing fine wine.
For decades, cannabis has been so
deeply embedded in the social fabric of
the city that illegal pot shops operated
with impunity as so-called compassion
“The government taking
over the cannabis trade
is like asking a farmer
to build airplanes.”
A marijuana store in Vancouver, the epicenter of pot in Canada. Black market pot dispensaries abound, illustrating the country’s difficulties of policing illegal trade.
lets remain defiantly open, abetted by
provincial governments slow to implement the new law.
On Oct. 17, only one legal government
pot retailer opened in British Columbia,
in the city of Kamloops, nearly a fourhour drive from Vancouver. That assured that Vancouver’s illicit trade
would continue to thrive.
And that day, none of the roughly 100
illegal pot dispensaries in the city had
the provincial licenses they needed to
operate legally, even those that had applied for one.
In Ontario, where the government’s
online Ontario Cannabis Store has been
overwhelmed with soaring demand,
some pot smokers unwilling to wait five
days for delivery are reverting to their
illegal dealers instead. “Definitely going
to use my dealer from now on his business is going way up because of your
customer wrote on Twitter.
In Montreal, some underground dealers, who do home delivery, are challenging the new legal market by offering
two-joints-for-the-price-of-one deals.
As cities across the country grapple
with a new national experiment, Vancouver offers a striking cautionary tale
about the challenges of policing the illegal trade.
In this picturesque multicultural port
city less than a three-hour drive from
Seattle, marijuana is as much a recreational drug as a state of mind.
Young professionals toke before
clubs for those seeking medical marijuana, with the police largely turning a
blind eye. But in 2015, City Hall officials,
fed up with the proliferation of black
market dispensaries, including some
selling to minors, passed tough regulations stipulating, among other things,
that shops must be about 1,000 feet from
schools, community centers or other
After dozens of dispensaries brazenly
flouted the new rules, the city in 2016 began fining transgressors, issuing 3,729
tickets amounting to more than $3 million in fines. But the dispensaries mostly
ignored them; only $184,250 has been
Then the city began trying to shut
down illegal operators with injunctions.
In March of this year, 53 dispensaries
banded together to file a constitutional
challenge, saying closing the operators
would breach Canada’s Charter of
Rights and Freedoms by denying patients access to medical marijuana they
purchased at the black market stores.
“The city is using legalization to try
and impose Prohibition,” said Robert
Laurie, the lawyer representing the dispensaries. The case is before British Columbia’s Supreme Court.
Kerry Jang, a left-leaning councillor
on the Vancouver City Council who is
also a professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia, and who
helped develop the 2015 rules, said the
injunctions were necessary to root out
“a wild West” of illegal dealers.
The new legal marijuana supply chain
was in full force on a recent day outside
of Vancouver at Pure Sunfarms, where
immigrant workers in surgical masks
were trimming buds from cannabis
plants next to a sprawling greenhouse
that once housed tomatoes.
Rob Hill, chief financial officer of Emerald Health Therapeutics, a licensed
producer that owns part of Pure Sunfarms, predicted that it was only a matter of time before black market growers
went out of business as consumers demanded the purity of government-approved pot, free of contaminants found
in some street marijuana.
“We expect a new consumer market
of women age 35-45 who will smoke pot
instead of drinking chardonnay,” he
But Dana Larsen, owner of several illegal dispensaries in Vancouver, countered that underground cannabis cultivation remained deeply entrenched.
Legalization is doomed to fail, he added, because there is so little will to enforce it.
Mr. Larsen said he had accumulated
heavy unpaid fines from City Hall, had
no intention of applying for a license and
was far more concerned about being
able to provide cannabis to the elderly
and ill customers who relied on him.
“In Vancouver,” he said, “you have to
make an effort to get busted.”
4 | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2018
Obama lifted them up. Now they want to fight.
John Toles-Bey wants to be clear: He
loves Barack Obama.
Mr. Toles-Bey, a 62-year-old smallbusiness owner, voted for the former
president twice, after never participating in elections in his life. He now follows
politics incessantly, an obsession he
credits to Mr. Obama’s influence. He
started a T-shirt company called You
Can’t Trump God after Mr. Obama left
office, because President Trump’s election sent him into a downward emotional spiral that only religion could
But even as Mr. Toles-Bey waited outside one of Mr. Obama’s recent rallies, he
wondered aloud if his political hero’s signature idealism had a place in today’s
flame-throwing political climate.
“It’s a different world we’re living in,”
Mr. Toles-Bey said. “And we need something different.”
As Mr. Obama has crisscrossed the
United States in support of Democratic
candidates, nerves are rattling among
some members of the coalition that fueled his historic rise from backbencher
in the Illinois Statehouse to America’s
first black president. A week of domestic
terrorism has shocked the political system ahead of the 2018 elections. And
while Mr. Obama’s speeches this election cycle have largely stuck with his
trademark themes of idealism and hope,
some of his supporters wonder if they’re
witnessing a living time capsule from a
bygone era of civil political rhetoric.
Mr. Obama remains the top Democratic surrogate in the United States,
and he will be lending his star power to
some of the most closely watched Democratic candidates during the campaign’s final week, including Andrew
Gillum in Florida, Stacey Abrams in
Georgia and Joe Donnelly in Indiana.
But the election of Mr. Trump has tested
the former president’s theory of measured change, his advisers acknowledge.
It has also jaded some of the legions of
voters Mr. Obama brought into the Democratic fold, including young people and
Mr. Obama’s advisers say the former
president sees “resisting” Mr. Trump
and inspiring voters as a false choice.
They point to his speeches this summer
that broke with long-held tradition by
heavily criticizing Mr. Trump, even if he
rarely mentioned the current president
by name.
Former President Barack Obama greeting crowds at a rally in Las Vegas. Some of Mr. Obama’s supporters wonder if his political civility is outdated in the Trump era.
Still, like Mr. Toles-Bey, some supporters of Mr. Obama have come to want a
fist, not a handshake, in an era when the
new generation of progressives is hitting back harder at Mr. Trump than the
former president usually does.
“For a long time, older generations
have told us, ‘This is how politics is supposed to work,’ but we’re pushing back
on that,” said Gabriella Lorance, a 20year-old who went to see Mr. Obama
with her two friends in Milwaukee. She
was 10 when he was first elected president.
They took a moment to list their favorite politicians: Jason Kander, the former
Missouri secretary of state; Beto
O’Rourke, the Senate candidate for
Texas; and Sharice Davids of Kansas, a
former mixed martial arts fighter who
could become the first lesbian Native
American elected to Congress.
Mr. Obama didn’t make the cut.
“There has to be a reframing of how
we go about making change,” said
LaTosha Brown, an organizer and a cofounder of Black Voters Matter. She said
that although she respected Mr. Obama,
particularly because he was a former
community organizer, she had come to
see him as a “constitutionalist” in an era
that requires more radical action.
Eric Holder, the former attorney general who served under Mr. Obama and is
eyeing a run for president, caught the ire
of Mr. Obama’s network when he took a
more dark spin on the famous Michelle
Obama line, “When they go low, we go
“When they go low, we kick them,” Mr.
Holder said in Georgia last month.
“That’s what this new Democratic Party
is about.”
Mr. Obama’s speeches are littered
with appeals to conservatives, and in
Milwaukee he oscillated between indicting the modern Republican Party and
appealing to those he called “compas-
sionate conservatives” interested in
building a coalition.
But the next generation of Democrats
may forgo such wavering in favor of a
more uncompromising tone.
In the last week, amid an eruption of
political violence, two members of that
new group of progressive Democrats
stood out for their forceful language: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York
and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
“Imagine if it was ISIS that sent
bombs to US officials, started shooting
in grocery stores, and invading places of
worship,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
“How do you think this administration
would respond?” Ms. Tlaib went further.
“Blaming the Pittsburgh shooting on
shows your lack leadership & compassion to be POTUS,” she said, in a tweet
that included two explicit phrases directed at Mr. Trump. “The terrorist had
an AR-15 assault rifle (weapon of war)&
killed fellow Americans, human beings
that deserve better.”
Mrs. Obama has defended her “going
high” mantra, saying that leaders have a
responsibility to show a “level of decency” and that “fear is not a proper motivator.”
Valerie Jarrett, a close adviser to Mr.
Obama, said in an interview that he understands the frustration among Democrats during Mr. Trump’s administration.
Ms. Jarrett said that while it might be
“harder” for the president to try to “appeal to our better angels” during this political time, it remained necessary.
Mr. Obama “wouldn’t be who he is if
he were to change his message now,”
Ms. Jarrett said. “The question isn’t just,
Do you give people what, in a moment,
they think they want to hear? You give
them the message that you think is important for them to hear. That’s what
leadership is about.”
Some of Mr. Obama’s supporters
agreed with Ms. Jarrett. Kasey Dean, 28,
who waited for Mr. Obama before his
rally in Nevada last week, said it was the
duty of politicians to uplift the country in
moments of uncertainty — not to sink to
fear. Hallie Sebena, 34, who saw Mr.
Obama’s rally in Milwaukee, said “there
are ways to fight back without being
“We need conversations that begin
from a place of civility,” Ms. Sebena said.
Other liberal voters said they had
been so enraged by Mr. Trump’s administration that it changed what they look
for in a Democratic messenger.
Maybe it should be someone who is
more of a “fighter,” said Tom Mooshegian, 64, in Las Vegas.
Mr. Obama did not publicly respond to
Mr. Holder’s comments, but repeatedly
in his speeches this summer, the former
president has made an impassioned
plea for his brand of politics: hopeful,
civil and driven by incremental
“There’s something at stake in this
election that goes beyond politics,” Mr.
Obama said in Milwaukee last week.
“What is at stake is a politics that is decent. And honest. And lawful. That tries
to do right by people and that’s worthy
of this country we love.”
A barrel of untruths from Trump on the campaign trail
munications director last year and says
he remains an enthusiastic supporter.
Speaking on CNN last week as he promoted a new book, Mr. Scaramucci was
invited to offer his advice directly to the
camera as if he were addressing Mr.
Trump. “You should probably dial down
the lying,” Mr. Scaramucci said, “because you don’t need to do it. You’re doing a great job for the country.”
Here are some of Mr. Trump’s most
egregious falsehoods since Oct. 22.
We’re the only country in the world where
a person comes in and has a baby, and
the baby is essentially a citizen of the
United States . . . with all of those benefits.
— Interview with Axios, Oct. 30
eight countries — Canada, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, New Zealand,
Australia and Brunei — have cleaner air
than the United States.
I think the Democrats had something to
do with it.
— Campaign rally in Houston, Oct. 22
This lacks evidence.
For the past couple of weeks, Mr. Trump
has repeatedly accused Democrats of
supporting or even financing the migrant caravan. He has yet to offer proof
of these claims.
The Times has reported that the caravan apparently started out as a small
group in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, but
swelled amid publicity from Honduran
television as migrants joined it to escape
poverty and violence. Although Democrats (and some Republicans) have opposed some Trump administration border policies, Democrats have supported
legislation to improve border security.
We don’t even have tariffs. I’m using tariffs to negotiate. I mean, other than some
tariffs on steel — which is actually small,
what do we have?
— Interview with The Wall Street
Journal, Oct. 23
In addition to steel, Mr. Trump has imposed tariffs on washing machines, solar panels, aluminum, Canadian lumber
and $250 billion worth of goods from
China. His administration also placed
tariffs on Canadian newsprint, but those
were overturned in August by the
United States International Trade Commission. Mr. Trump has also threatened
to impose tariffs on cars, uranium and
an additional $267 billion in Chinese
At least 30 other countries, including
Mexico and Canada, grant automatic
birthright citizenship, according to studies from the Center for Immigration
Studies and Numbers USA, two groups
that support restricting immigration.
MR. TRUMP: You shouldn’t have — take a
look. They want to get out of sanctuary
cities. Many places in California want to
get out of sanctuary cities.
They say it happens all the
time from the Middle East. But that’s not
even saying bad or good. But some real
bad ones. But they intercept . . .
But that’s not rioting, sir,
Yeah, it is rioting in some
Well, they could very well be.
But there’s no proof?
There’s no proof of anything.
There’s no proof of anything. But they
could very well be — if you look at what
that was building.
— Remarks to reporters at the White
House, Oct. 23
This lacks evidence.
Reporters traveling with the caravan
have denied Mr. Trump’s baseless suggestion that there are Middle Eastern
terrorists in the caravan. The Department of Homeland Security said citizens
from “countries in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and elsewhere are currently traveling through Mexico toward
the U.S.” without offering any proof.
Counterterrorism officials told The
New York Times that there was no credible threat that terrorist groups were trying to infiltrate the border. Government
data shows that citizens from the Middle
East made up less than 1 percent of people apprehended at the border in the
2017 fiscal year.
Do you know how the caravan started?
Does everybody know what this means?
President Trump at a campaign rally in Murphysboro, Ill. His penchant for prevarication has been well documented.
Where are the riots, sir?
— Remarks to reporters at the White
House, Oct. 22
REPORTER: But no — no proof that they’re
in the caravan now?
This lacks evidence.
A few locales in California, including Orange County and San Diego County,
have voted to support a Trump administration lawsuit against California’s socalled sanctuary city laws, under which
local law enforcement authorities must
limit their cooperation with federal immigration enforcement officials.
But there is no evidence that these
laws have led to riots anywhere. The
California Police Chiefs Association told
PolitiFact that it was unaware of any riots, and Mr. Trump did not respond
when asked to specify the location of the
riots he cited.
And I was always critical of President
Bush for attacking Iraq.
— Interview with The Wall Street
Journal, Oct. 23
Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr. Trump repeatedly and falsely
claimed to have opposed the Iraq war
from the beginning. In 2002, asked if he
supported an invasion, Mr. Trump responded, “Yeah, I guess so.” Mr. Trump
spoke out against the war in 2004, a year
after it began. It did not stop him from
supporting President George W. Bush in
the 2004 election.
I went to Saudi Arabia on the basis that
they would buy hundreds of billions —
many billions of dollars’ worth of things.
And the ultimate number is around $450
billion, $110 for military. $450 billion. I
think that’s over a million jobs. A million
to over a million jobs.
— Remarks to reporters at the White
House, Oct. 23
Mr. Trump has celebrated an arms deal
that was reached with Saudi Arabia last
year, but his figures are wildly inflated.
The Times reported last year that the
$110 billion refers to the value of military
capabilities offered to Saudi Arabia,
characterized by the government as “intended sales.” The State Department estimated that, as of Oct. 16, the agreement has resulted in $14.5 billion in implemented deals.
The Defense Security Cooperation
Agency lists about $17 billion in total approved sales since Mr. Trump’s trip in
May 2017, and that figure includes a $15
billion missile defense system that has
since stalled.
Last year, the Trump administration
also trumpeted $270 billion in possible
commercial deals, which double-counts
some of the agreements in the arms
package. It is unclear what Mr. Trump is
referring to with the $450 billion figure.
As for “over a million jobs” — an increase over the “hundreds of thousands
of jobs” Mr. Trump claimed last year —
that figure is also suspect. Almost all of
the jobs announced as a result of the potential sales were in Saudi Arabia, not
the United States.
But I’m one of the most popular presidents in this country, and that’s good.
That’s just good.
— Rally in Houston, Oct. 22
Several polls show the opposite: Mr.
Trump is among the least popular presidents in American history.
A CNN poll gave Mr. Trump a 40 percent favorable rating, compared with 61
percent for Mr. Bush and 66 percent for
Mr. Obama, as of January. A February
poll by the University of Virginia and Ipsos gave Mr. Trump the third-lowest rating of the 12 most recent presidents.
existing conditions. In August, Republican senators announced legislation to
preserve protections for pre-existing
conditions if the Affordable Care Act
was dissolved. Even so, the bill would allow insurers to refuse to cover certain
This spring, the Justice Department
told a federal court that it would no longer defend provisions in the health law
that protect people with pre-existing
conditions. By October, the Trump administration released new guidance allowing states to offer subsidies to patients, as provided by the Affordable
Care Act. The guidance encourages buying cheaper plans that offer fewer benefits and can exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions.
America: the Cleanest Air in the World —
— Twitter post, Oct. 24
They wouldn’t meet with Obama, the European Union. Japan wouldn’t meet with
Obama. And they wouldn’t meet with us
— Interview with The Wall Street
Journal, Oct. 23
From 2013 to 2016, the European Union
and the United States engaged in 14
rounds of talks over a trade agreement
known as the Trans-Atlantic Trade and
Investment Partnership, a deal that was
never signed. Mr. Obama personally
and repeatedly met with European Union leaders during the negotiations.
Additionally, the United States and Japan were both signatories to the TransPacific Partnership, the trade deal negotiated by the Obama administration and
12 Pacific Rim nations. Mr. Trump abandoned the deal early in his presidency.
I remember Dick Grasso, a friend of
mine, great guy. He headed up the New
York Stock Exchange on Sept. 11. And the
New York Stock Exchange was open the
following day.
— Campaign rally in Murphysboro,
Ill., Oct. 27
Republicans will totally protect people
with Pre-Existing Conditions, Democrats will not! Vote Republican.
— Twitter post, Oct. 24
Legislation to repeal the Affordable
Care Act last year was widely supported
by Mr. Trump and Republicans in Congress, and opposed by Democrats. Most
of the repeal plans would have undermined protections for patients with pre-
The map Mr. Trump shared in his tweet
appeared to be an altered version of a
map from a World Health Organization
report on exposure to air pollution.
While the image does show Americans
breathing relatively healthy air, nowhere in the report does it say that the
United States has the cleanest air in the
The World Health Organization’s
database on air pollution shows that
The New York Stock Exchange, blocks
from the World Trade Center, did not
open the day after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It reopened on Sept. 17,
2001. Mr. Grasso attended the opening
ceremony, along with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the mayor of New York at the time
and now Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer.
Katie Rogers and Abby Goodnough contributed reporting.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2018 | 5
6 | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2018
is now too
big to fail
Farhad Manjoo
A bazaar in Tehran. The Trump administration hopes sanctions will force Iran to make fundamental changes in its domestic and foreign policies.
Obstacles in push against Iran
U.S. efforts to increase
pressure could result in
further alienation of allies
President Trump called on world leaders in September to slash their purchases of Iran’s oil before the imposition
on Nov. 5 of major sanctions, the last major pieces of the administration’s blockade of the Iranian economy.
“We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues,” Mr. Trump said at the United Nations.
But less than a week before the crucial deadline this Monday, the campaign
against Iran is facing severe challenges.
China and India, the largest buyers of
Iranian oil, will continue making huge
purchases, with Turkey and perhaps
Russia following suit. Britain, France
and Germany have promised to continue doing business with Tehran.
And Saudi Arabia, the administration’s crucial partner in its anti-Iran efforts, is facing global censure and
threats of sanctions from Congress after
the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist and Saudi dissident. Penalties
against Saudi Arabia could undercut efforts to keep global oil prices stable as
Iran’s exports plunge.
The problems have piled up as European diplomats and oil analysts say that
even after the sanctions take effect, Iran
will most likely sell at least one million
barrels of crude oil a day — a sharp decline from last year but perhaps enough
to sustain its economy and wait out Mr.
Trump’s term.
The Trump administration’s stated
goal for its sanctions campaign is for
Iran to make a dozen fundamental
changes to its domestic and foreign policies, including ending its support for
Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza
and the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Few analysts believe the Iranian government
could fulfill the demands and survive.
“There is no way the Trump administration will be able to achieve its 12
stated objectives because they’re utterly unrealistic,” said Robert Einhorn, a
senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
But efforts to tighten the screws on
Tehran in the coming months could further alienate European allies, freight the
relationship with China with yet another
difficult dispute, undermine decades of
efforts to woo India, and impede the stabilization of Syria and the battle against
the Islamic State. Administration officials dismiss these risks in part because
earlier warnings by critics about the
downsides of leaving the Iran nuclear
deal largely proved false.
At the heart of Iran’s financial future are
its oil and gas exports, and Trump administration officials have adamantly
said for months that they intend to reduce those exports to zero and penalize
any country that continues purchases
after Nov. 4 — which would effectively
destroy Iran’s economy. On Tuesday, a
State Department spokesman retreated
from those implacable demands.
“Our goal remains to get to zero oil
purchases from Iran as quickly as possible. That’s not changed,” the spokesman, Robert Palladino, said, adding,
“But we are prepared to work with countries that are reducing their imports on a
case-by-case basis.”
The Nov. 5 sanctions target Iran’s central bank, oil sales and shipping companies, and they come on top of a set of
sanctions in August. Administration
threats have already persuaded buyers
in Europe, Japan and South Korea to
largely stop purchasing from Iran.
But during the United Nations General Assembly in September, foreign
ministers from Britain, France, Germany and the European Union joined
those from China, Iran and Russia in
promising to collaborate on the creation
of a “special purpose vehicle” independent of the dollar to continue commercial
relations. Trump administration officials reacted to the announcement with
derision and fury.
Even in Europe, economists and officials doubt the new financial channel
will yield significant economic benefits
for Iran or threaten the global dominance of the dollar anytime soon. And
yet its symbolism was profound.
Beijing presents another challenge.
China is the largest buyer of Iranian oil
and although Beijing recently instructed two large state oil companies to
stop purchases for a time, China will
most likely remain the biggest buyer.
The Trump administration has given
Beijing “no reason to be in compliance
with U.S. law on Iran,” said Sung-Yoon
Lee of Tufts University’s Fletcher
School of Law and Diplomacy in Medford, Mass. Oil executives and analysts
Some are predicting that the administration will announce penalties against
some Chinese entities on Nov. 5 to show
toughness against Beijing, a stance popular with Mr. Trump’s voters, before the
midterm elections the next day. But
such sanctions would most likely be
largely symbolic. Tariffs against China
have already spooked Wall Street and
lowered global growth projections.
Broad sanctions could set off a panic.
In India, the second-largest buyer of
Iranian oil, private companies like the
energy giant Reliance have largely
stopped purchasing it. Government en-
tities ramped up purchases over the
summer so they could show reductions
next year, analysts said. But significant
purchases will most likely continue.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reelection campaign, scheduled for next
spring, will prevent him from acceding
to American demands on Iran, said Mohan Guruswamy, a distinguished fellow
at the Observer Research Foundation in
India. “Modi can’t be seen as buckling
on Iran since public sentiment is not
with the U.S. on these new sanctions,”
Mr. Guruswamy said.
Turkey, which gets most of its oil and
natural gas from Iran and Russia, will
continue oil purchases and other commercial relations with Iran, diplomats
and analysts said. A recent warming between Ankara and Washington after the
release from detention of an American
pastor would be dashed by penalties,
said Soner Cagaptay, director of the
Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Sanctions have caused pain, but they
have yet to produce clear strategic victories for the Trump administration. Despite sanctions on North Korea, Russia
and Venezuela, Pyongyang has so far
shown no signs of slowing its nuclear
and ballistic missile weapons production, President Vladimir V. Putin has
only grown bolder and Venezuela continues to slide into anarchy.
But administration officials will take a
victory lap on Nov. 5. They are mindful
that when Mr. Trump announced in May
that he was walking away from the Iran
nuclear deal, critics predicted that
Tehran would soon restart its nuclear
program, that oil prices would soar and
that sanctions would never truly bite
without the support of others in the deal.
None of those warnings proved true,
giving administration officials a great
sense of confidence in their policy.
Rescuing the local bookstore
Hundreds of volunteers
line up to help a shop shift
its stock to a new location
The plea went out a few weeks ago from
the bookstore in a port city in southern
England: “Care to lend a hand?”
Volunteers were needed for “heavy
manual work” in shifts. It was “essential” that they be able to lift and carry
boxes and office supplies.
Among the supplies: thousands upon
thousands of books.
The appeal from October Books, a
nonprofit organization that began 40
years ago as a “radical” bookshop, came
after a rent increase forced it from its old
home in Southampton, Jess Haynes, a
member of the collective and one of the
few paid employees, said on Wednesday.
The shop was looking to move lock,
stock and barrel about 150 meters ( just
under 500 feet) to a three-story building
that used to house a bank. Would anybody respond to the call for help?
This past Sunday, the bookstore got
more than a helping hand — it got hundreds. A human chain began forming
from the old October Books stockroom,
A bookstore in England received a helping hand in moving 54 doors down to a new space.
snaking past 54 doors to the new building. The shop stopped counting after
about 250 people showed up, Ms.
Haynes said by phone.
Hand-to-hand, the chain of people
passed thousands of books over a few
“It was very moving,” Ms. Haynes
said, adding that the employees were
“all getting choked up” about how members of the community had leapt to help
It was the local community, after all,
that came to the bookshop’s rescue more
than once before — including when, after 15 years, it had to move because the
rent increased. The store settled on a
former bank building up the street.
But instead of taking out a mortgage,
Ms. Haynes said, October Books boldly
started a fund-raising drive to buy its
new home, setting a goal of 510,000
pounds, or about $650,000, by May 31.
The move paid off, and the shop en-
tered into arrangements to receive community donations and loans, agreeing to
pay back the latter over one, five or 10
years, Ms. Haynes said.
At a time when independent bookshops are disappearing, she said, “we
believe in the value of bookshops.”
Last year, the Booksellers Association
noted that the number of independent
bookshops in Britain had fallen for the
11th year in a row. In 2005, there were
1,535 independent stores, but by 2017
that figure had fallen to 867.
The association cited “a cocktail of
pressures” for the closings, including
rising rents, competition from e-books
and online sellers, along with the rising
popularity of other entertainment platforms like Netflix and gaming.
October Books originally began as a
small shop for feminist, L.G.B.T., socialist and Green Party literature, she said.
It later expanded to fiction, children’s literature and books about organic food
and fair trade. Now, it has five paid employees, a social media guru and parttime volunteers.
The shop wanted the move on Sunday
to be a special event.
“It was a lovely way of including everyone and get the whole community involved,” Ms. Haynes said. “We’ve got a
lot of good will in our community.”
She said the bookstore was still moving. Opening day is scheduled for Saturday.
A few weeks ago, after Facebook revealed that tens of millions of its users’
accounts had been exposed in a security breach, I began asking people in and
around the tech industry a simple
question: Should Mark Zuckerberg still
be running Facebook?
I’ll spare you the suspense. Just
about everyone thought Mr. Zuckerberg was still the right man for the job,
if not the only man for the job. This
included people who currently work at
Facebook, people who used to work at
Facebook, financial analysts, venture
capitalists, tech-skeptic activists, ardent critics of the company and its
giddiest supporters.
The consensus went like this: Even
if Mr. Zuckerberg — as Facebook’s
co-founder, chief executive, chairman
and most powerful shareholder — bore
most of the responsibility for the company’s cataclysmic recent history, he
alone possessed the stature to fix it.
More than one of his supporters told
me it was bad faith to even broach the
subject — that Mr. Zuckerberg’s indispensability was so plain that the only
reason I might have to ask whether he
should still run the company was the
clicks I would get on this article. But
even critics were not that excited
about the idea of Mr. Zuckerberg’s
removal. Barry Lynn, executive director of the Open Markets Institute, an
organization that fights monopoly
power, argued that Facebook’s problems grew out of its business model
and the legal and regulatory vacuum in
which it has operated — not the man
who runs it.
“To be blunt, if we took Mark
Zuckerberg out and we replaced him
with Mahatma Gandhi, I don’t think
the corporation would change in any
significant way,” Mr. Lynn said.
That few can imagine a Facebook
without Mr. Zuckerberg, 34, underscores how unaccountable our largest
tech companies have become. Mr.
Zuckerberg, thanks to his own drive
and brilliance, has become one of the
most powerful unelected people in the
world. Like an errant oil company or
sugar-pumping food company, Facebook makes decisions that create huge
consequences for society — and he has
profited handsomely from the chaos.
Yet because of Facebook’s ownership
structure — in which Mr. Zuckerberg’s
shares have 10 times the voting power
of ordinary shares — he is omnipotent
there, answering basically to no one.
This fits a pattern. Over the last two
decades, the largest tech companies
have created a system in which executives suffer few personal or financial
consequences for their mistakes. Big
tech has turned founders into fixtures
— when their companies are working
well, they get all the credit, and when
their companies are doing badly, they
are the only heroes who can fix them.
There’s another way to put this: For
better or worse, Mr. Zuckerberg has
become too big to fail.
In America, it’s not unusual for
executives to escape punishment for
how they steer their corporations (see
Wall Street after the 2008 financial
crisis). Still, when companies step in it
badly, there are often at least calls for
their leaders’ dismissal. The chief
executives of Equifax and Target were
pushed out after data breaches. The
chief executive of Wells Fargo was
ousted after a scandal involving sham
Even in Silicon Valley, where company founders are revered as moneylaying rainbow unicorns, there is some
limit to corporate patience. In the
1980s, Apple fired Steve Jobs. Last
year, Uber ousted Travis Kalanick, who
was as closely aligned with his company’s culture as Mr. Zuckerberg is with
Facebook’s problems have not
reached the level of lawlessness we
saw at Uber, but they have been far
more consequential. Besides the
breach, Facebook has been implicated
in a global breakdown of democracy,
including its role as a vector for Russian disinformation during the 2016
American presidential election.
Investigators for the United Nations
have said Facebook was instrumental
to genocide in Myanmar; it has also
been tied to violence in India, South
Sudan and Sri Lanka. There have been
privacy scandals (Cambridge Analytica most recently), advertising scandals (discriminatory ads, fishy metrics), multiple current inquiries by the
United States government and an
admission that using Facebook can be
detrimental to your mental health.
Even though Mr. Zuckerberg has
apologized and vowed again and again
and again to fix Facebook, the compa-
ny’s fixes often need fixing. In the last
week, reporters showed that the company’s recent move to clamp down on
political ads has not worked: Vice
News bought Facebook ads falsely
stating that they were paid for by Vice
President Mike Pence and the Islamic
State group.
So given such failures, another question might be: Why haven’t any heads
rolled at Facebook? Although there
have been some high-profile defections
— the co-founders of WhatsApp, Instagram and Oculus, all companies
bought by Facebook, left in the last few
months — Mr. Zuckerberg’s most loyal
executives have been with him
through thick and thin, many for more
than a decade.
If Facebook admits now that its
problems were caused by a too-idealistic, move-fast culture, and if it is conceding now that its culture must
change, how can we be sure that’s
happening if most of the people who
run Facebook remain the same?
When I asked Facebook about this,
the company argued that things were
changing. It just hired Nick Clegg, a
former deputy prime minister of Britain, as head of global affairs — a move
that the company said imbued it with a
serious outsider’s perspective.
The social network also put me on
the phone with a top executive who
argued boisterously for Mr. Zuckerberg’s leadership, but declined to do so
on the record. The executive explained
that fixing Facebook would involve
deep costs. The company is hiring
more people to review content, for
example, and it might have to slow
down some of its most ambitious
projects to address its impact on the
world. The executive argued that Mr.
Zuckerberg’s total domination of Facebook’s equity, plus the reverence in
which employees hold him, allowed
him to weather the financial consequences of these changes better than
any other leader.
Facebook’s stock price plunged
nearly 20 percent on a single day this
summer after it reported slowing
revenue growth and increased operational costs. This week, Facebook
repeated its slower-growth warning. A
“professional C.E.O.,” one without such
a huge stake in the company, would be
tempted to try the easy way out, the
executive suggested. But Mr. Zuckerberg was free to do what’s right.
Mr. Zuckerberg’s supporters also
argued that he has shown a deep capacity to understand and address
Facebook’s problems. After the company went public in 2012, its stock
Mark Zuckerberg may alone have the
stature to fix Facebook’s problems.
price languished for months because it
had no plan to make money from consumers’ shift to mobile devices.
“Mark would tell you that he was too
late in understanding the importance
of mobile — but when that became
apparent, Mark understood its gravity
and he understood how to fix it,” said
Don Graham, a former Facebook board
member and a former publisher of The
Washington Post. “He changed the
direction of that company incredibly
fast, in detail, not by one action but by
20 actions — and if you looked at the
quarter-by-quarter numbers of what
percentage of Facebook’s revenue was
coming from mobile, I couldn’t believe
how fast it changed.”
The question at Facebook now is
whether Mr. Zuckerberg has similarly
seen the light on its current problems.
He has said fixing Facebook was his
personal challenge for 2018.
“I think he has demonstrably failed
over the last two years, and the reason
he’s failed is because he’s unaccountable,” said Sandy Parakilas, a former
Facebook employee who is now chief
strategy officer for the Center of Humane Technology, an activist organization. “Given a scenario where shareholders and board members had more
influence, it’s hard to imagine that
there would not have been changes
One fix for Facebook might be to
give the board greater power over the
company. Trillium Asset Management,
an investment firm, recently put forward a shareholder resolution supported by several state funds that
would require Mr. Zuckerberg to step
down as Facebook’s chairman, though
he would still maintain majority voting
control of the company.
“I think by taking the step to relinquish the position of the board chair,
it’s a very important structural change
so that he would not have a completely
free hand to muscle his way through
decisions,” said Jonas Kron, a Trillium
senior vice president.
A Facebook spokesman said the
company had not yet taken a position
on the resolution. In the past, similar
measures have been voted down by
Mr. Zuckerberg and his allies.
Which leaves us here: Either Mr.
Zuckerberg fixes Facebook or no one
does. That’s the choice we face, like it
or not.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2018 | 7
Harley-Davidson owners, left, gathered for a ride, right, on the outskirts of Mumbai, India, that a local Harley club organized in October. President Trump’s single-minded focus on Harleys has mystified trade experts in both countries.
In U.S.-India trade, Trump sees only Harley
But the two countries face
deadlines on bigger issues
like food and oil tariffs
When it comes to trade, it often seems
that India and the United States are
playing a perplexing game of multidimensional chess.
On Friday, for example, India will decide whether to impose or again delay
tariffs on American almonds, apples,
walnuts and processed metal products
in retaliation for the Trump administration’s decision in March to impose tariffs
on steel and aluminum imports.
Next week, President Trump and his
advisers will have to decide whether to
penalize India for failing to abide by his
Sunday deadline for all countries to stop
importing oil from Iran.
“The sanctions threat and the tariffs
are in many ways linked,” said Sreeram
Chaulia, dean of the school of international affairs at O. P. Jindal Global University outside New Delhi.
Yet Mr. Trump has voiced little interest in such policy questions or the
rounds of negotiations that have kept
the two countries from an all-out trade
war. Instead, he has been publicly riveted by one small pawn in the game: India’s tariffs on a few hundred high-end
Harley-Davidson motorcycles sold in
India each year.
Three times this year when Mr.
Trump brought up the American trade
relationship with India, he complained
about the import duties — currently 50
percent — that India levies on Harleys
and other foreign-made motorcycles.
“You send a motorcycle into India,
there’s a 100 percent tariff,” Mr. Trump
said at a news conference in early October, misstating the rate. “Who’s going to
buy it? It costs you so much. Now, they
have already reduced that substantially,
but it’s still too high.”
Mr. Trump’s single-minded focus on
Harleys has mystified trade experts in
both countries.
“Harley-Davidson is not going to
erase the trade deficit,” Mr. Chaulia said.
In the context of the $126.2 billion in
overall trade between the two countries,
Harleys are not even a rounding error.
Passenger jets, oil and gas, gemstones,
and foods like almonds and chickpeas
are far more important products.
Most of the 3,000 Harleys sold in India
last year did not incur any tariffs. That’s
because they were cheaper, low-powered models made in a factory outside
New Delhi. Even many of the fancier
bikes sold in India were assembled from
kits of imported parts, which are taxed
at 15 percent, not 50 percent.
Harley-Davidson’s biggest problem in
India is a lack of demand.
Harleys are bulky and heat up a rider’s legs, making them a poor fit for the
country’s traffic-choked roads and sweltering climate. And they are expensive.
With an average annual income of
$1,700, people in India overwhelmingly
favor small motorcycles, some of which
cost less than $1,000. Harley’s big cruisers cost more than most cars, with its
top model exceeding $87,000 in Mumbai
after all taxes and licensing fees.
Darryl Mathias, operations manager
for the Mumbai dealership, Seven Islands Harley-Davidson, said sales had
dropped about 50 percent in the past two
years. He blamed rising gasoline prices
and the Indian government’s efforts to
crack down on cash transactions more
than the tariffs. “People don’t want to
show their wealth,” he said.
American officials say the president
initially seized on the Harley tariffs after
the Milwaukee company’s chief executive, Matthew Levatich, complained to
him about them. When Mr. Trump
raised the issue with Prime Minister
Narendra Modi this year, India dropped
the tariffs to 50 percent from 75 percent.
Harley-Davidson executives declined
interview requests. In a statement, the
company said it “supports President
Trump’s efforts to lower tariffs and
make American manufacturers more
Indian and American government officials also declined to elaborate about
the trade relationship, citing active negotiations and the pending decisions on
tariffs and sanctions.
For most officials in the two countries,
the trade relationship is much more
complicated than just motorcycles.
The United States and India have
been arguing over trade since the
Obama administration, when they tangled over American exports of eggs and
solar panels to India as well as India’s
weak protections for foreign intellectual
property such as drug formulas. Trade
hawks in the Trump administration
such as Robert E. Lighthizer, the United
States trade representative, have made
the $27.3 billion trade deficit in goods
and services with India a key issue.
American dairy farmers, for example,
complain that they do not have fair access to India’s markets because of high
tariffs and India’s requirement that all
milk comes from cows that have not
been fed the internal organs of other animals. That milk certification is important to Hindus, many of whom are vegetarians, but many American farmers
cannot meet it.
“Harley-Davidson is not going to
erase the trade deficit.”
Silicon Valley companies including
Google and Facebook are also pressing
the United States government to help
them dilute or fend off India’s proposed
data protection laws, which would limit
the use of data collected about Indians
and limit the transfer of data outside the
“We need to have reciprocal trade,”
Gilbert B. Kaplan, the American under
secretary of commerce for international
trade, said at a conference hosted by the
U.S.-India Business Council in Mumbai
in September.
This year, India irked American companies by increasing tariffs on products
as varied as shoes and mobile phones to
help balance its budget and stem a fall in
the value of the rupee.
Separately, the country announced
that it would raise tariffs on 29 categories of American goods, including nuts,
apples and finished metal products, in
response to Mr. Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs.
The items targeted influential industries such as almond growers, who last
year shipped $651 million of the nuts to
India, their largest market. But India deferred the start of the tariffs from June
to September and then to Nov. 2. The
government may well delay the tariffs
again, Mr. Chaulia said, to assess the
outcome of Tuesday’s midterm elections
in the United States and what effect that
would have on the American negotiating position.
India, for its part, wants the United
States to reduce tariffs on its exports of
clothing and textiles, for which it pays
higher duties than neighboring countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan. The
Modi administration is also adamant
about maintaining its hefty subsidies for
homegrown agricultural products to
court Indian farmers, who are a key voting bloc.
Looming over everything are geopolitical concerns.
In addition to continuing oil purchases from Iran, Mr. Modi signed a deal
with Russia’s president, Vladimir V.
Putin, on Oct. 5 to buy Russian S-400
antiaircraft missile systems. The $5.2
billion purchase violates American
trade sanctions against Russia and will
eventually result in penalties for India
unless Mr. Trump approves a waiver.
Officials in the State and Defense Departments are urging Mr. Trump to give
India some leeway on both issues as
part of an effort to forge a closer military
and diplomatic partnership against
China in the region. India has already reduced its reliance on Iranian oil, they argue, and the American defense contractors Lockheed Martin and Boeing are
hoping to land a military jet order from
India that could be worth $15 billion.
Trade experts predict that neither
country will be quick to antagonize the
“Under no circumstance would the Indian government give up its close relationship with the U.S. government,” said
Biswajit Dhar, a professor of economics
at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New
Delhi who has represented the Indian
government on trade issues and formerly served on the board of the ExportImport Bank of India.
Mr. Chaulia said India was also clear
about its economic commitment to Iran.
India has invested heavily there, including hundreds of millions of dollars in the
seaport of Chabahar in southeastern
Iran. The Trump administration wants a
regime change in Iran — and India does
not, he said.
Eliminating the Harley tariffs is a way
to ease the trade drama and please the
American president, Mr. Chaulia said.
“All Trump needs is to declare a win,” he
said. “He doesn’t care about the nittygritty.”
Alan Rappeport and Gardiner Harris
contributed reporting from Washington,
and Maria Abi-Habib from New Delhi.
Ayesha Venkataraman contributed research.
There’s money in conspiracy theories, and media outlets are after it
Jim Rutenberg
You don’t have to go deep into the
internet to find the baseless conspiracies that provided a backdrop for mass
murder in Pittsburgh and the recent
pipe-bomb mailings to Barack Obama,
the Clintons, George Soros and CNN.
They are served up in plain sight, for
profit, at airport bookstores, at movietheater chains and on cable television.
They come by way of publishing
houses like Hachette and Penguin
Random House; film distributors like
Universal Home Studios and Lionsgate; theater chains like AMC and
Cinemark; and 21st Century Fox, the
parent company of Fox News.
Those companies have all helped
feed a segment of the media business
that should be called what it is — the
Incitement Industry.
It rakes in profits by serving up
agitprop that targets liberals, Democrats and “deep state” operatives who
are said to be plotting to destroy America for the benefit of darker-skinned
migrants or a shadowy consortium of
You can see this kind of thing in the
pages of “Liars, Leakers and Liberals”
by the Fox News opinion host Jeanine
Pirro. Published in July by Center
Street, a division of the Hachette Book
Group, Ms. Pirro’s book lays out “the
globalist, open-border oligarchy” that,
the author asserts, is seeking to nullify
the results of the 2016 presidential
“The perpetrators of this anti-American plot include, but are not limited to,
the leadership at the F.B.I., the C.I.A.,
N.S.A. and other intelligence agencies,
the Democratic Party and perhaps
even the FISA courts,” she writes,
referring to the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act court.
has written that the F.B.I., C.I.A., Democratic Party and others are part of an anti-American plot.
“Liars, Leakers and Liberals” has
spent 13 weeks on the New York Times
best-seller list.
Another recent best seller in the
same vein, “Resistance Is Futile!” by
the conservative provocateur Ann
Coulter, was published by Sentinel, an
imprint of the publishing giant Penguin
Random House. It argues that the
“resistance” that sprang up in the
wake of President Trump’s election is
“nothing less than a coup.” And it
lights into a conveniently vague villain
— “the media” — in a chapter titled
“For Democracy to Live, We Must Kill
the Media.”
“The media’s position is that they’re
allowed to engage in lies, deception
and even illegal acts to swing an election,” Ms. Coulter writes.
A similar point of view characterizes
the films of Dinesh D’Souza, the polemicist who had pleaded guilty to
making illegal campaign contributions
in 2014, only to be pardoned by President Trump this year. Moviegoers did
not have to go out of their way to catch
Mr. D’Souza’s most recent effort,
“Death of a Nation.” The film had a
wide release last summer, playing in
more than 1,000 theaters, including
those belonging to the AMC and Cinemark chains.
argued in her book that the resistance to
President Trump was nothing less than a coup.
The film makes the case that the
Nazi platform was similar to that of
today’s Democratic Party. Prominent
among its villains is George Soros, who
was allegedly sent a pipe bomb by
Cesar Sayoc Jr., who also is accused of
sending similar packages to Hillary
Clinton and Mr. Obama.
“The progressive Democrats are the
true racists,” the film’s narrator intones. “They are the true fascists.
They want to steal our income. They
want to steal our earnings and our
wealth and our freedom and our lives.”
The PG-13 rated film had a box office
take of roughly $6 million, which paled
next to the $33 million brought in by
“Obama’s America,” a 2012 film by Mr.
D’Souza that claimed Mr. Obama, as
the president, sought to destroy the
United States from within to sate the
“anti-Colonialism” impulses of the
African father he hardly knew.
“Death of a Nation” will have a
second life on the streaming platforms
Amazon, iTunes and Google Play, as
well as on DVD, sold at Walmart, Best
Buy and other retailers. The distribution is being handled by Quality Flix
and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
The Incitement Industry can also be
a driving force at Fox News, which has
made the case in his film that the Nazi
platform was similar to that of today’s Democratic Party.
lately featured guests who have asserted without evidence that Mr. Soros
financed the migrant caravan making
its slow way toward the southern
border of the United States. Someone
who shared that view was the man
charged with killing 11 congregants
during a hate-driven shooting rampage
at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
The Fox Business Network opinion
show “Lou Dobbs Tonight” was the
setting for two particularly glaring
assertions. Mr. Dobbs played the
friendly interviewer as Chris Farrell, a
director of a right-wing activist group
called Judicial Watch, said that “the
Soros-occupied State Department” was
involved in the migrant caravan. After
his appearance on Mr. Dobbs’s program, Fox News condemned the statement and said that Mr. Farrell would
no longer appear on the network.
Another guest on “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” the author Sidney Powell, likened the caravan to an “invasion” that
was leading to “diseases spreading
across the country that are causing
polio-like paralysis of our children.” In
that case, Mr. Dobbs pushed back,
saying, “You can’t very well blame that
disease on illegal immigrants.”
The hysteria led Bill Kristol, the
conservative Republican who was once
a regular on the Rupert Murdochowned Fox News, to tell Brian Stelter
of CNN that it was time for Fox’s owners and investors to take a hard look at
the rhetoric spilling out of its news
And the Fox News anchor Shepard
Smith, who has become something of
an in-house ombudsman for the network, told his viewers, “There is no
invasion. No one’s coming to get you.
There’s nothing to worry about.”
(Representatives for Fox News and
its parent company, 21st Century Fox,
did not comment for this article.)
There is certainly enough hyperbole
to go around. Earlier this week the GQ
correspondent Julia Ioffe apologized
for saying on CNN that Mr. Trump had
“radicalized so many more people than
ISIS ever did.”
Violent acts, it should be noted, are
the responsibility of those who commit
them, and the perpetrators have various ideological motivations. But the
grist for emotionally disturbed or just
plain violent people has never seemed
so readily available.
“It might be fun or profitable for
people to take up a megaphone against
others,” said James Alefantis, the
owner of Comet Ping Pong in Washing-
ton, the site of the internet’s “pizzagate” conspiracy. “The fact is, it takes
just one individual to decide to take
violent action.”
Mr. Alefantis’s livelihood suffered
last year when a gunman — who was
supposedly “investigating” the theory
that the restaurant housed a Clintonrun child prostitution ring — fired an
AR-15 rifle at his place of business.
Alex Jones of Infowars got rich by
promoting conspiracies like that one,
as The New York Times has reported.
While he is in his own category, Mr.
Jones got his message out to a mass
audience through the tech giants
YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Apple
— which eventually cut ties with him
under intensifying criticism of their
failure to curb the spread of misinformation. That, in turn, fed complaints
among some conservatives that Silicon
Valley, under pressure from liberals
and the news media, was guilty of
But where is the line between falsehoods that may incite violence and
good, old-fashioned American political
hyperbole? And should book publishers and entertainment companies be
more careful about the products they
send out into the world in a tense
sociopolitical atmosphere?
“I don’t want some publisher telling
me that something is beyond bounds,”
Mr. Kristol told me in an interview.
“I’m a libertarian on points of view and
even interpretations of history.”
But after noting that conspiracy
theories of recent vintage have
whipped up fear and hatred, Mr. Kristol added, “There are things that normal fact-checking would rule out. It’s
not a matter of ideology; it’s truth.”
I asked Hachette, the company
behind “Liars, Leakers and Liberals,”
whether Ms. Pirro’s statement that Mr.
Soros has “an agenda to destroy this
country and the capitalist system” had
passed muster with editors and factcheckers. I got no answer.
Sentinel, the division of Penguin
Random House that published Ms.
Coulter’s recent best seller, was at least
willing to engage. Its publisher, Adrian
Zackheim, told me the author’s views
were “expressions of opinion.”
Maybe it’s time to stop labeling her
book “nonfiction.”
8 | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2018
Get the brain going
with a 10-minute walk
Breast-feeding appears to reset the body’s metabolism after pregnancy, improving glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, burning calories and mobilizing stores of fat.
Breast-feeding is good for mothers
Long-term health benefits
are many, but too few
women get the message
Most women know breast-feeding is
good for their babies’ health. But doctors and midwives rarely tell moms-tobe that it’s also good for nursing mothers.
Nursing mothers reduce their relative
risk of breast cancer by 4.3 percent for
every 12 months they breast-feed, in addition to a relative decrease of 7 percent
for each birth. Breast-feeding is particularly protective against some of the
most aggressive tumors, called hormone receptor-negative or triple-negative tumors, which are more common
among African-American women, studies show. It also lowers the risk by onethird for women who are prone because
of an inherited mutation in a gene associated with breast cancer.
Women who breast-feed are also less
likely to develop ovarian cancer, Type 2
diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, and
they may have improved cardiovascular
Yet only 16 percent of mothers surveyed — or fewer than one in five — said
their doctors had told them that breast-
feeding is good for mother as well as
baby, according to a study published this
month in Breastfeeding Medicine.
“We have an ounce of prevention that
could save lives,” said Dr. Bhuvaneswari
Ramaswamy, the paper’s senior author
and an associate professor of medical
oncology at Ohio State University. “But
are we fully educating the mothers
when they make this difficult choice?
Because it is not an easy choice.”
While companies market infant formula by claiming their products are effective substitutes for breast milk, Dr.
Ramaswamy said, “formula is not going
to help women live longer and be there
for their families.”
The new study surveyed 724 women
ages 18 to 50 who had given birth to at
least one child. The vast majority of
them had breast-fed.
Just over half knew before they gave
birth that breast-feeding reduced the
risk of breast cancer, and over a third of
those said the information influenced
their decision to breast-feed.
But only 120 of the women said that
their health care providers had informed them about the implications for
their own long-term health. Most of
those who knew about the health advantages to nursing mothers had gleaned
the information from popular media or
the internet. And these women tended
to breast-feed for much longer — 13
months on average — than women who
did not know about the health implications, who breast-fed for only nine
months on average.
While 60 percent of white women surveyed knew breast-feeding could cut
their breast cancer risk, only 47 percent
of the African-American women knew,
and 54 percent of women of other or unknown race knew.
Breast-feeding mothers are less
likely to develop breast and
ovarian cancers, Type 2 diabetes
and rheumatoid arthritis.
Among racial groups in the United
States, African-American mothers have
the lowest rates of breast-feeding and
are least likely to nurse for at least six
months, according to government
health statistics. Sixty percent have
breast-fed, but only 28 percent were still
breast-feeding at six months.
In comparison, 77 percent of white
mothers, 80 percent of Hispanic mothers and 86 percent of Asian mothers
have breast-fed, with rates of breastfeeding at six months at 45 percent, 46
percent and 58 percent, respectively.
Scientists do not entirely understand
why lactation helps prevent breast cancer, but they say that the breasts un-
dergo changes during pregnancy as
they develop more milk ducts in preparation for breast-feeding.
The breasts eventually go through a
process called involution that returns
them to their pre-pregnancy state and
involves a large amount of cell death
and tissue remodeling. That transition
can occur slowly through gradual weaning or abruptly if there is no breast-feeding or only brief breast-feeding. When it
happens abruptly, it creates an inflammatory condition that is conducive to
cancer, Dr. Ramaswamy said.
Dr. Marisa Weiss, the founder of the
website, who has
done research in this area, often describes pregnancy and lactation as a bat
mitzvah for the breasts, saying that
breast-feeding “forces the breasts to finally grow up and get a job, and make
milk, and show up for work every day,
and stop fooling around.” That maturation process causes changes in the milk
ducts that make the breast more resistant to cancer.
Breast-feeding also appears to reset
the body’s metabolism after pregnancy,
improving glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, burning calories and
mobilizing stores of fat that have accumulated during pregnancy, which may
explain why women who breast-fed
have lower rates of diabetes and other
Ten minutes of mild, almost languorous exercise can immediately alter
how certain parts of the brain communicate and coordinate with one another
and improve memory function, according to an encouraging new neurological study.
The findings suggest that exercise
does not need to be prolonged or intense to benefit the brain and that the
effects can begin far more quickly than
many of us might expect.
We already know that exercise can
change our brains and minds. The
evidence is extensive and growing.
Multiple studies with mice and rats
have found that when the animals run
on wheels or treadmills, they develop
more new brain cells than if they remain sedentary. Many of the new cells
are clustered in the hippocampus, a
portion of the brain that is essential for
memory creation and storage.
The active animals also perform
better on tests of learning and memory.
Equivalent experiments examining
brain tissue are not possible in people.
But some past studies have shown that
people who exercise regularly tend to
have a larger, healthier hippocampus
than those who do not, especially as
they grow older. Even one bout of
exercise, research suggests, can help
most of us to focus and learn better
than if we sat still.
But these studies usually have involved moderate or vigorous exercise,
such as jogging or brisk walking and
often for weeks or months at a time.
Whether a single, brief spurt of very
easy exercise will produce desirable
changes in the brain has remained
So for the new study, published in
September in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists
from the University of California,
Irvine, and the University of Tsukuba
in Japan turned to a group of college
They recruited students in part
because bright, healthy, young men
and women should have brains and
memories that are functioning well.
For an experiment to produce improvements in their brain function, its
effects would need to be potent.
The scientists invited 36 of the students to the lab and had them sit quietly on a stationary bicycle for 10
minutes or, on a separate visit, pedal
the bicycle at a pace so gentle it barely
raised their heart rates. In technical
terms, the exercise was performed at
about 30 percent of each volunteer’s
maximum heart rate. By comparison,
brisk walking should raise someone’s
heart rate to about 50 percent of his or
her maximum.
So this exercise was very easy. It
also was short, lasting for only 10
Immediately after each session of
the sitting or slow pedaling, the students completed a computerized memory test during which they would see a
brief picture of, for instance, a tree,
followed by a variety of other images
and then a new image of either the
same tree or a similar one.
The students would press buttons to
show whether they thought each image was new or the same as an earlier
The test is difficult, since many of
the images closely resemble one another. It requires rapid, deft shuffling
through recent memories to decide
whether a picture is new or known.
Next, the scientists had each student
repeat this sequence — riding or sitting on the bike for 10 minutes and
then completing memory testing — but
the testing now took place inside an
M.R.I. machine that scanned the young
people’s brains while they responded
to the images.
Then the researchers compared
The effects of the exercise, undemanding as it was, were clear. The
young people were better at remembering images after they had ridden
the bike, especially when the images
most closely resembled one another.
In other words, the
harder their memoParts of the
ries had to strain, the
better they perbrain were
formed after the
More unexpected,
than when
their brains also
the students
worked differently
had not
after they had ridexercised.
den. The M.R.I.
scans showed that
portions of each
student’s hippocampus lit up in synchronized fashion with parts of the
brain associated with learning, indicating that these physically separate
parts of the brain were better connected now than when the students
had not first exercised.
And the greater the coordination
between the disparate parts of the
brain, the better the students performed on the memory test.
“It was exciting to see those effects
occurring so quickly and after such
light exercise,” says Michael Yassa, the
director of the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory at the
University of California, Irvine, and
senior co-author of the new study
along with Hideaki Soya of the University of Tsukuba.
The findings show that exercise can
change people’s brains and minds right
away, he said, without requiring weeks
of working out.
Even better, the exertion required
can be so slight as to allow almost
anyone, even those who are out of
shape or possibly disabled, to complete
the exercise.
“We are not talking about marathons,” he said. “It looks like people
can improve their memories with a
short walk or an easy session of something like yoga or tai chi.”
What’s all this about journaling?
the authenticity available to us in that
time frame.”
Once the domain of teenage girls and
the literati, journaling has become a
hallmark of the so-called self-care
movement, right up there with meditation. And for good reason: Scientific
studies have shown it to be essentially
a panacea for modern life. There are
the obvious benefits, like an increase in
mindfulness, memory and communication skills. But studies have also found
that writing can lead to better sleep, a
stronger immune system, more selfconfidence and a higher I.Q.
Research out of New Zealand suggests that the practice may even help
wounds heal faster. How is this possible? James W. Pennebaker, a social
psychologist at the University of Texas
at Austin who is considered a pioneer
of writing therapy, said there wasn’t
one answer. “It’s a whole cascade of
things,” he said.
Labeling emotions and acknowledging traumatic events — both natural
outcomes of journaling — have a
known positive effect on people, Dr.
Pennebaker said, and are often part of
traditional talk therapy.
At the same time, writing is fundamentally an organizational system.
Keeping a journal, according to Dr.
Pennebaker, helps to organize an event
in our mind and make sense of trauma.
When we do that, our working memory
improves, since our brains are freed
from the taxing job of processing that
experience, and we sleep better.
This in turn improves our immune
system and our moods.
This is often the first question a budding journal writer might ask. In some
ways, though, it’s the most misguided
— one thing journaling has taught me
is that the mind is a surprising place,
and you often don’t know what it may
be hiding until you start knocking
around in there. Writing in your journal is the only way to find out what you
should be writing about.
Julia Cameron, author of “The Art-
ist’s Way,” recommends “three pages of
longhand writing, strictly stream-ofconsciousness,” as soon as one wakes.
They are “not meant to be art. Or even
writing.” They need not be smart or
funny or particularly deep — in fact,
it’s better if they’re not.
Ms. Cameron encourages practitioners to think of them as “brain drain,” a
way to expel “all that angry, petty,
whiny stuff” that “eddies through our
subconscious and muddies our days.”
“I’d like to say here that morning
pages differ from conventional journaling, in which we set a topic and pursue
it,” Ms. Cameron said. “In morning
pages, we do not set a topic. It is as
though we have A.D.D.” — attention
deficit disorder — “jumping from topic
to topic, gathering insights and directions from many quarters.”
But Dr. Pennebaker’s research has
found that journaling about traumatic
or disturbing experiences specifically
has the most measurable effect on our
overall well-being.
In a 1988 study outlined in his book
“Opening Up: The Healing Power of
Expressing Emotion,” students were
randomly assigned to write about
either traumatic experiences or superficial topics for four days in a row. Six
weeks later, those who had explored
trauma reported more positive moods
and fewer illnesses than the others.
Dr. Pennebaker’s research has found
that even a one-time, 15-to-30-minute
session of focused journal writing
could be beneficial. In fact, he said, he
was not “a big fan of journaling every
“One of the interesting problems of
writing too much, especially if you’re
going through a difficult a time, is that
writing becomes more like rumination,
and that’s the last thing in the world
you need,” he said. “My recommendation is to think of expressive writing as
a life course correction, as opposed to
something you have commit to doing
every day for the rest of your life.”
If you’re distressed about something,
Dr. Pennebaker advises, write for 15 to
20 minutes a day about it, for three to
four days. If there is no benefit, stop.
Techies can take heart in knowing
that, contrary to the romantic ideal,
typing out journal entries on a laptop
or even on a phone can yield effects
that are just as positive as writing by
hand. The point is simply to get
“Some people like writing with their
nondominant hand,” Dr. Pennebaker
said. “Others find talking to a tape
recorder works too.”
Over the years, I have switched up
my process here and there, even embarking on an overly ambitious plan
involving color-coded pens. The one
I’ve come back to again and again,
however, is closest to what Ms. Cameron advocates: I write three to five
pages every morning by hand. For her,
the timing and frequency is essential
to a beneficial practice. “Jungians tell
us we have about a 45-minute window
before our ego’s defenses are in place
in the morning,” she said. “Writing
promptly upon awakening, we utilize
Journaling may sound hokey to some.
But it can be one of the most useful
and cost-effective tools we have to
forge a better, more emotionally and
mentally healthy life. As Dr. Pennebaker said of his research: “I’m not
a granola-crunching kind of guy. I got
into journaling because I’m interested
in what makes people tick.”
Ms. Cameron’s book, on the other
hand, is steeped in the kind of earnest
spirituality that New Age skeptics will
no doubt bristle at. Yet one of the quotations that has stuck with me the
most is straightforward and practical:
“It is very difficult to complain about a
situation morning after morning,
month after month, without being
moved to constructive action.”
When I started journaling, I was
unhappily married and dissatisfied
with my career. I had no idea what
would make me happy.
The practice provided me with an
important outlet for the anxiety that
had come to paralyze me at odd hours
each day.
Still, I remained unconvinced by Ms.
Cameron’s grander claims about how
journaling could change one’s life. And
yet, today, as I write this, just two
years later, my life has completely
changed: I split from my partner of 10
years; began a new, fulfilling relationship; enrolled in a master of fine arts
program; rekindled my freelance
writing career; and am planning a
move to Los Angeles.
I don’t know how journaling helped
me make these changes. Perhaps, as
Dr. Pennebaker may suggest, it simply
allowed me to purge some of my anxiety, leading to a better night’s sleep
and more energy to accomplish the
task. Or maybe, as Ms. Cameron would
say, it put me in contact with my very
own spiritual guide.
In the end, though, I’m not sure I
care how it worked. The point is, for
me, it did.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2018 | 9
I thought the web would stop hate, not spread it
This is what
the internet
has come to:
thugs like
bin Salman
funding tech
to host the
vitriol of
thugs like
Cesar Sayoc
and Robert
Kara Swisher
Contributing Writer
When I was a reporter at The Washington Post back in the pre-Internet
days, there was a man who would
write me a letter every time I had a
story that had a name in it that he
perceived to be Jewish.
His anti-Semitic screeds were intricate and obsessive. He would cut my
article out of the paper, highlight the
names, and in a chicken-scratch scrawl
write endless lines of venomous bile
about how the various businesspeople
he noted were secretly plotting to take
over the world and kill the “real”
Americans. It was riveting — the care
he took was clearly apparent — and
nauseating at the same time.
It frightened me, but it was only a
letter, sent only to me. Fast forward to
today, when everyone has the ability to
see the toxic online stylings of Cesar
Sayoc, the Trump supporter who has
been arrested and charged for a series
of mail bombs that he sent to CNN and
a list of prominent Democrats. He was
all over social media spewing his bile,
which escalated on Twitter and Facebook starting in 2016.
It was the same with another radicalized man with issues, Robert Bowers, who has been charged in the murder of 11 people at a synagogue in
Pittsburgh. His preferred outlet was an
internet underbelly site called Gab, an
alt-right platform with an adorable
name and a dead-ugly purpose. As The
New York Times’s Kevin Roose noted,
Gab was the “last refuge for internet
scoundrels — a place where those with
views considered too toxic for the
mainstream could congregate and
converse freely.”
Internet companies like Stripe,
GoDaddy and Joyent have now “deplatformed” Gab, as they did with Alex
Jones this year. It took the Bowers
attack for them to notice exactly who
their customer was.
Of course, they said their usual
so-sorrys for facilitating this dreck.
And Twitter did yet another elaborate
apology dance for not removing Mr.
Sayoc from the platform after at least
one complaint about his behavior.
But it takes only seconds to draw a
line between the public posts of these
internet goblins and their real-life
attacks. What is happening on social
networks and across digital communications platforms is disturbing and
ever metastasizing. And preventable.
I wrote my first column for The Times
on this, months ago. Let me say it again:
Social media platforms — and Facebook
and Twitter are as guilty of this as Gab is
— are designed so that the awful travels
twice as fast as the good. And they are
operating with sloppy disregard of the
consequences of that awful speech,
leading to disasters that they then have
to clean up after.
And they are doing a very bad job of
that, too, because they are unwilling to
pay the price to make needed fixes.
Why? because draining the cesspool
would mean losing users, and that
would hurt the bottom line. Consider
this: On Monday, New York Times
reporters easily found almost 12,000
anti-Semitic messages that had been
uploaded to Instagram in the wake of
the synagogue attack.
That was after the killings. And
please do not saunter over to YouTube
or Twitter or Reddit if you want any
relief, as you will only find more of the
The negligence does not stop at the
platforms but includes who pays for
these platforms, which is how I found
myself at a dinner party recently where
the guests were ranking Silicon Valley
funders from most to least toxic: Russia, China, Kuwait, Qatar, along with
various dicey high-net-worth individuals across the globe.
“They are all linked to awful behav-
ior in some way if you are being really
honest with yourself,” a well-known
entrepreneur said. “Thank goodness
for Singapore.” (Apparently “Crazy
Rich Asians” had
been good for the
What is
brands of funds tied
to the Singapore
on social
government, like
networks and
Temasek and GIC.)
across digital
And of course
there is Mohammed
communications platforms bin Salman, the
crown prince of
is disturbing
Saudi Arabia, who
and ever
has flooded tech
with Saudi investAnd
ments. His glossy
reform sheen has
worn thin in the
wake of the brutal
murder of the journalist Jamal
Khashoggi at what appears certainly to
have been the behest of the government Prince Mohammed heads — or
more precisely, beheads.
His government also jails activists
and decimates Yemen with a war, but it
was only a few months ago that he was
squired around Google headquarters
by Sergey Brin. In hindsight, the obsequious reception now looks unfortunate, to say the least.
So where are we now? Far too much
of the money social media companies
are using to host thugs like Mr. Sayoc
and Mr. Bowers was paid for by thugs
like Prince Mohammed. And, other
than some tut-tutting about the horror
of it all, there are no signs that the
industry that considers itself the most
woke on the planet is thinking of giving
the money back or talking about not
taking it in the future.
I cannot tell you how sad that is to
write, because when I first saw the
internet way back when, I hoped that it
would help eliminate the attitudes that
had fueled those horrible letters to me.
I naïvely thought a lone man sending a
reporter a missive of malevolence
could not find such refuge on the wide-
open internet, where his hate would be
seen for what it was and denounced
and exorcised.
I was obviously very wrong. Instead,
the internet gave people like him the
space to grow and thrive. Tech made no
real rules, claiming the freedom from
any strictures would be O.K. in what is
the greatest experiment in human
communications ever.
We have no idea how to deal with this
situation, except to watch it play out
over and over again, and allow it to kill
us cell by cell.
Or not. “You must live life with the
full knowledge that your actions will
remain,” Zadie Smith wrote. “We are
creatures of consequence.”
We have met the creature and it is a
monster. I shudder to think what the
consequences will be.
is the editor at large for
the technology news website Recode
and producer of the Recode Decode
podcast and Code Conference.
What if we’re all coming back?
The prospect
of being
reborn as a
poor person
in a world
by climate
change could
lead us to
very different
Michelle Alexander
I can’t say that I believe in reincarnation, but I understand why some people do. In fact, I had a bizarre experience as a teenager that made me
wonder if I had known someone in a
past life.
I was walking to school one day, lost
in thought. I turned the corner onto a
wide, tree-lined street and noticed a
man on the other side heading my
direction. For an instant, we held each
other’s gaze and a startling wave of
excitement and recognition washed
over me. We spontaneously ran toward
each other, as if to embrace a long-lost
friend, relative or lover. But just as we
were close enough to see the other’s
face, we were both jolted by the awareness that we didn’t actually know each
We stood in the middle of the street,
bewildered. I mumbled, “I’m so sorry
— I thought I knew you.” Equally
embarrassed, he replied: “Oh, my God,
this is so strange. What’s happening
right now?” We backed away awkwardly — me, a teenage black girl; he,
a middle-aged white man. I never saw
him again.
The incident shook me deeply. This
was not a case of mistaken identity.
Something profound and mysterious
happened and we both knew it.
Still, I’m not among the 33 percent of
Americans (including 29 percent of
Christians) who believe in reincarnation. Lately, though, I’ve been thinking
that if more of us did believe we were
coming back, it could change everything.
At first, I thought about reincarnation in the narrowest possible terms,
wondering what future life I’d earn if
karma proved real. It’s a worrisome
thing to contemplate. It’s easier to
speculate about what kind of future
lives other people deserve. Maybe Bull
Connor — that white supremacist
Alabama politician who ordered that
black schoolchildren protesting segregation be attacked with police dogs
and fire hoses — has already been
born again as a black child in a neighborhood lacking jobs and decent
schools but filled with police officers
who shoot first and ask questions later.
Maybe he’s now subjected to the very
forms of bigotry, terror and structural
racism that he once gleefully inflicted
on others.
This kind of thought experiment is
obviously dangerous, since it can
tempt us to imagine that people have
somehow earned miserable fates and
deserve to suffer. But considering
future lives can also be productive,
challenging us to imagine that what
we do or say in this life matters and
might eventually catch up with us.
Would we fail to respond with care and
compassion to the immigrant at the
border today if we thought we might
find ourselves homeless, fleeing war
and poverty, in the next life? Imagining ourselves in those shoes makes it
harder to say: “Well, they’re not here
legally. Let’s build a wall to keep those
people out.” After all, one day “those
people” might be you.
Once I entered college, I found myself less interested in karma and more
interested in politics. It occurred to me
that if we’re born again at random, we
can’t soothe ourselves with fantasies
that we’ll come back as one of the
precious few on the planet who live
comfortably. We must face the fact that
our destiny is inextricably linked to the
fate of others. What kind of political,
social and economic system would I
want — and what would I fight for — if
I knew I was coming back somewhere
in the world but didn’t know where and
didn’t know who I’d be?
In law school, I discovered that I
wasn’t the first to ponder this type of
question. In his landmark 1971 book, “A
Theory of Justice,” the political philosopher John Rawls urged his audience
to imagine a wild scene: A group of
people gathered to design their own
future society behind “a veil of ignorance.” No one knows his or her place
in society, class position or social status, “nor does he know his fortune in
the distribution of natural assets and
abilities, his intelligence and strength
and the like.” As Rawls put it, “If a man
knew that he was wealthy, he might
find it rational to advance the principle
that various taxes for welfare measures be counted unjust; if he knew he
was poor, he would most likely propose
the contrary principle.” If denied basic
information about one’s circumstances,
Rawls predicted that important social
goods, such as rights and liberties,
power and opportunities, income and
wealth, and conditions for self-respect
would be “distributed equally unless
an unequal distribution of any or all of
these values is to everyone’s advantage.”
Back then, I was struck by how
closely Rawls’s views mirrored my
own. I now believe, however, that the
veil of ignorance is quite distorted in
an important respect. Rawls’s veil
encourages us to imagine a scenario in
which we’re equally likely to be rich or
poor or born with natural talents or
limitations. But the truth is, if we’re
reborn in 50 years, there’s only a small
chance that any of us would be rich or
benefit from white privilege.
Almost half the world — more than
three billion people — live on less than
$2.50 per day. At least 80 percent of
humanity lives on less than $10 per
day. Less than 7 percent of the world’s
population has a college degree. The
vast majority of the earth’s population
is nonwhite, and roughly half are women. Unless radical change sweeps the
globe, the chances are high that any of
us would come back as a nonwhite
woman living on less than $2.50 per
day. And given what we now know
about climate change, the chances are
very good that we would find ourselves suffering as a result of natural
disasters — hurricanes, tsunamis,
droughts and floods — and enduring
water and food shortages and refugee
This month, the world’s leading
climate scientists released a report
warning of catastrophic consequences
as soon as 2040 if global warming
increases at its current rate. Democratic politicians expressed alarm, yet
many continue to accept campaign
contributions from the fossil fuel industry that is responsible for such a large
percentage of the world’s greenhouse
gas emissions.
It’s nearly impossible to imagine
that our elected officials would be so
indifferent if they knew climate scientists were foretelling a future that they
would have to live without any of the
privileges they now enjoy.
Rawls was right: True morality
becomes possible only when we step
outside the box of our perceived selfinterest and care for others as much as
we care for ourselves. But rather than
imagining a scenario in which we’re
entirely ignorant of what the future
holds, perhaps we ought to imagine
that we, personally, will be born again
into the world that we are creating
today through our collective and individual choices.
Who among us would fail to question
capitalism or to demand a political
system free from corporate cash if we
knew that we’d likely live our next life
as a person of color, earning less than
$2.50 a day, in some part of the world
ravaged by climate change while
private corporations earn billions
building prisons, detention centers and
border walls for profit?
Not I. And I’m willing to bet, neither
would you. We don’t have to believe in
reincarnation to fight for a world that
we’d actually want to be born into.
10 | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2018
The neuroscience of hate speech
A.G. SULZBERGER, Publisher
DEAN BAQUET, Executive Editor
MARK THOMPSON, Chief Executive Officer
JOSEPH KAHN, Managing Editor
STEPHEN DUNBAR-JOHNSON, President, International
TOM BODKIN, Creative Director
JEAN-CHRISTOPHE DEMARTA, Senior V.P., Global Advertising
SUZANNE DALEY, Associate Editor
ACHILLES TSALTAS, V.P., International Conferences
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
CHARLOTTE GORDON, V.P., International Consumer Marketing
how to save a
country that’s
lost sight of the
public good.
What is going on in this country? Can’t we be safe in
our homes, in our schools, in our most sacred places?
Once again, Americans are left to ask each other these
sorts of questions, after a gunman burst into the Tree
of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on the Jewish Sabbath
and opened fire on families in the contemplation of
their faith.
Armed with a semiautomatic rifle and three handguns, he killed 11 people and wounded six more, including four police officers. “Jews must die,” he was
said to have shouted.
The attack came a day after a man was arrested in
Florida for mailing pipe bombs to politicians and journalists across the country. In both cases, the suspects
had nourished their animus online, on social media
platforms where they could easily connect with people
who shared their hatreds.
After the attack on Tree of Life, Rabbi Marvin Hier,
the founder and dean of Simon Wiesenthal Center, told
The Times, “I’m afraid to say that we may be at the
beginning of what has happened to Europe, the consistent anti-Semitic attacks.”
“If it is not nipped in the bud,” he said, in a remark
that should make every American pause and think, “I
am afraid the worst is yet to come.”
Anti-Semitic claims have acquired new energy online, to the point that Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of
Facebook, recently cited one — that the Holocaust
never actually happened — as an example of offensive
but good-faith argument on his social-media platform.
“I think there are things that different people get
wrong,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in an interview with the
journalist Kara Swisher. “I don’t think that they’re
intentionally getting it wrong.” He subsequently clarified that he “absolutely didn’t intend to defend the
intent of people who deny” that, within living memory,
Hitler’s Germany killed six million Jews as part of a
systematic campaign to kill them all.
Alongside anti-Semitism, anti-black hatred appears
to be rising. It has been expressed recently not only in
incidents in which white Americans have harassed
black Americans for gardening, coming home, swimming, working or campaigning for public office, but in
deadly attacks like the one by a bigot who shot two
black people at a Kentucky grocery last week, after he
tried but failed to enter a black church.
What can be done? Certainly, common-sense gun
safety regulation might make attacks like the one on
Tree of Life synagogue less deadly — universal background checks, red-flag laws that take guns away from
the mentally unstable, bans on high-capacity weapons
like the AR-15 rifle that the alleged killer wielded.
Measures like these would help contend with the
hardware of hate. It is far harder to disable the software, the ideas that now spread so readily. Though
Facebook should do much more to reject the lies and
hate of its users, Mr. Zuckerberg is right to bridle at
the notion that he should set himself up as the Grand
Censor of American or global debate.
“These issues are very challenging,” he said after
the uproar over his comments about not policing Holocaust denial, “but I believe that often the best way to
fight offensive bad speech is with good speech.”
Good speech may not be enough in itself, but that
doesn’t mean that American society couldn’t benefit
from much more of it today, particularly from its leaders.
So it was reassuring to hear President Trump condemn the attack in Pittsburgh, as he did the pipe
bombs. And it was disappointing to see him immediately head back out on the campaign trail, as he did on
Saturday, to disparage his opponents and critics all
over again.
As a candidate and as president Mr. Trump has
failed to consistently, unequivocally reject bigotry, and
he has even encouraged violence at some of his rallies.
Mr. Trump is also setting a low, coarsening standard
for how Americans should speak to and about one
another. He has urged his supporters to think of his
critics as traitors and enemies. Some Democratic leaders appear to be concluding that they will be suckers if
they don’t adopt similar smashmouth tactics.
The suspects in Pittsburgh, Florida and Kentucky
are responsible for their own actions. Maniacs have
always existed in dark crevices of American life, and
no amount of public condemnation will ever stop them
from developing poisonous ideas. But in this harrowing time, more good speech, from more good people,
can remind other Americans of the sorts of values that
have, so far, managed to contain the divisions in their
country, of the moral imagination and empathy that
Mr. Bowers evidently so feared.
Richard A. Friedman
Do politicians’ words, the president’s
especially, matter?
Since he has been in office, President Trump has relentlessly demonized his political opponents as evil and
belittled them as stupid. He has called
undocumented immigrants animals.
His rhetoric has been a powerful contributor to our climate of hate, which is
amplified by the right-wing media and
virulent online culture.
Of course, it’s difficult to prove that
incendiary speech is a direct cause of
violent acts. But humans are social
creatures — including and perhaps
especially the unhinged and misfits
among us — who are easily influenced
by the rage that is everywhere these
Could that explain why just in the
past two weeks we have seen the
horrifying slaughter of 11 Jews in a
synagogue in Pittsburgh, with the man
arrested described as a rabid antiSemite, as well as what the authorities
say was the attempted bombing of
prominent Trump critics by an ardent
Trump supporter?
You don’t need to be a psychiatrist to
understand that the kind of hate and
fear-mongering that is the stock-intrade of Mr. Trump and his enablers
can goad deranged people to action.
But psychology and neuroscience can
give us some important insights into
the power of powerful people’s words.
We know that repeated exposure to
hate speech can increase prejudice, as
a series of Polish
studies confirmed
last year. It can also
are social
desensitize individucreatures who als to verbal agare easily
gression, in part
influenced by because it normalthe anger and izes what is usually
socially condemned
rage that are
At the same time,
these days.
politicians like Mr.
Trump who stoke
anger and fear in
their supporters provoke a surge of
stress hormones, like cortisol and
norepinephrine, and engage the amyg-
dala, the brain center for threat.
One study, for example, that focused
on “the processing of danger” showed
that threatening language can directly
activate the amygdala. This makes it
hard for people to dial down their
emotions and think before they act.
Mr. Trump has managed to convince
his supporters that America is the
victim and that we face an existential
threat from imagined dangers like the
migrant caravan and the “fake, fake
disgusting news.”
Were the men arrested in the synagogue shootings and bombing attacks
listening? Robert Bowers, for example,
apparently blamed Jews for helping
transport members of the Central
American migrant caravan. It seems
he did not think the president was
going far enough in protecting the
country from invaders. “I can’t sit by
and watch my people get slaughtered,”
he wrote online before the murderous
rampage. And Cesar Sayoc Jr., accused
of mailing bombs to CNN, echoed the
president in a tweet: “More lies con job
Propaganda bye failing failing CNN
But you don’t have to be this unhinged to be moved to violence by
incendiary rhetoric. Just about any of
us could be susceptible under the right
Susan Fiske, a psychologist at
Princeton, and colleagues have shown
that distrust of a out-group is linked to
anger and impulses toward violence.
This is particularly true when a society
faces economic hardship and people
are led to see outsiders as competitors
for their jobs.
Mina Cikara, a psychologist at Harvard and a co-author of that study, told
me that “when a group is put on the
defensive and made to feel threatened,
they begin to believe that anything,
including violence, is justified.”
There is something else that Mr.
Trump does to facilitate violence
against those he dislikes: He dehumanizes them. “These aren't people,”
he once said about undocumented
immigrants suspected of gang ties.
“These are animals.”
Research by Dr. Cikara and others
shows that when one group feels
threatened, it makes it much easier to
think about people in another group as
less than human and to have little
empathy for them — two psychological
conditions that are conducive to violence.
A 2011 study by Dr. Fiske and a
colleague looked at “social cognition”
— the ability to put oneself in someone
else’s place and recognize “the other as
a human being subject to moral treatment.”
Subjects in the study were found to
be so unempathetic toward drug addicts and homeless people that they
found it difficult to imagine how those
people thought or felt. Using brain
M.R.I., researchers showed that images of members of dehumanized
groups failed to activate brain regions
implicated in normal social cognition
and instead activated the subjects’
insula, a region implicated in feelings
of disgust.
Iran sanctions will hurt America
Henry J. Farrell
Abraham L. Newman
During the war on terror, the United
States quietly turned the world financial system into a hidden empire. The
American government used the power
of the dollar and its influence over
obscure organizations such as the
Swift financial messaging service to
monitor what its adversaries and
terrorists were doing and, in some
cases, to cut entire states, such as
North Korea, out of world financial
These policies effectively pressed
foreign banks into service as agents of
American influence and helped bring
states like Iran to the negotiating table.
On Nov. 4, the United States is set to
escalate sanctions against Iran as part
of its decision to withdraw from the
Iran nuclear deal. These sanctions
include financial messaging, so the
Trump administration could press for
Swift, a private cooperative based in
Brussels, to disconnect Iranian banks
from its network.
Swift is like a global post office for
banks, providing a secure messaging
system for the vast majority of international transactions, so disconnecting
Iran would isolate it almost completely
from the global financial system and
would have drastic and immediate
consequences for the Iranian economy.
If the Trump administration goes
ahead with this plan, it will have serious consequences for the United States
as well.
It will undermine America’s influence over the international financial
architecture and diminish its power
over allies and adversaries alike.
Jack Lew, who served as secretary
of the Treasury from 2013 to 2017,
warned two years ago that other countries might start looking for alternatives to the dollar and organizations
like Swift if America takes its financial
power for granted.
Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko
Maas, recently threatened to do just
that. In an editorial published in the
German financial newspaper Handelsblatt, he proposed that Europe should
set up its own international payment
channels and its own equivalent of
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, partly walked back this proposal,
but she too has said that Europe cannot rely on the United States and must
“take our fate into our own hands.”
German and French policymakers are
investigating an alternative to Swift
and other ways to decouple European
banks from American financial markets. The European Union and the
United Nations have already set up a
special payment system to facilitate
trade with Iran.
These baby steps may falter, but
they provide a glimpse of what the
world would look like if Europe became
a competitive global financial power.
One of the promises of globalization
was that it would promote peace and
stability by creating international
economic networks that make countries more dependent on one another.
Instead, America has weaponized this
interdependence, twisting Swift and
the dollar clearing system to strangle
its adversaries. Other powers could do
the same, or even undermine the
United States by building alternative
global networks.
That is why the United States needs
European cooperation with its approach to pressuring Iran. The European Union is the one power that could
credibly test America’s dominance.
The E.U. may not have an army, but it
does have economic might. And it can
use that power to harm American
companies and, if pushed far enough,
fragment the international financial
Over the last two decades, the European Union has built up an impressive
body of financial rules and officials to
administer them.
Recent political
turmoil, from the
Great Recession to
to penalize
the eurozone crisis,
Swift, the
has strengthened
Europe’s regulatory
Previously, this
power was deployed
the U.S. is
in concert with the
United States, but
soon it may be deallies and
ployed against it.
Google and Faceundercut
book have already
felt the first blows,
the dollar’s
expressed in the
threat of billiondollar fines by European regulators.
If Europe starts to build its own
alternative financial architecture, it
will be in reaction to American overreach. The Trump administration has
already threatened penalties against
European companies if they do business with Iran, and the standoff has
revealed the full extent of European
exposure to this kind of coercion. President Trump’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton, has bluntly warned
that Swift needs to ask if it is “worth
the risk” to defy the United States on
The Treasury secretary, Steven
Mnuchin, reportedly opposes forcing
Swift to implement American sanctions. However, Congress could force
Mr. Mnuchin’s hand with legislation,
proposed by Senator Ted Cruz, that
would require the administration to
impose sanctions on Swift members.
Sanctioning Swift would be a mistake for the United States. If the European Union can no longer rely on the
United States, it will move to further
develop its own payment channels.
This would take years, but the end
result could isolate the United States.
Other countries — not just those in
Europe — may prefer to be part of a
European-led financial network, one
that is backed by a publicly stated
commitment to the rule of law, rather
than a global financial system dominated by an increasingly unpredictable
America. European politicians have
long looked with envy at the power of
the United States dollar. They now
have an opening to position the euro as
a viable competitor.
The Trump administration hates
being constrained by its allies. What it
does not realize is that American economic power depends on the assent of
other countries to be part of a financial
system led by the United States. Push
them too far, and American authority
and influence could be permanently
is a professor of political science and international affairs at
George Washington University. ABRAHAM L. NEWMAN is a professor in the
School of Foreign Service and Government Department at Georgetown University.
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FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2018 | 11
Unconstitutional dreams
Eric Foner
U.S. voters, you’re being manipulated
Nicholas Kristof
When the bigot who shot up a Pittsburgh synagogue arrived at the local
hospital emergency room to be treated
for his injuries, he was shouting, “Kill all
the Jews.” He was then promptly
treated, very professionally, by three
The hospital president, Jeffrey K.
Cohen, a member of the congregation
that had been attacked, met there with
the suspect to ask respectfully how he
was doing. (I try to avoid using the
names of mass shooters, to avoid giving
them attention they sometime crave.)
“He asked me who I was,” Dr. Cohen
told ABC News. “I said, ‘I’m Dr. Cohen,
the president of the hospital.’”
Side by side with the worst of humanity we find the best. And in Pittsburgh,
there was more of the best. The Muslim
community promptly raised $214,000
for the victims of the synagogue shooting and offered to provide security for
Jews in the area.
HIAS, the Jewish agency whose
assistance for refugees infuriated the
synagogue attacker (he blamed Jews
for bringing in brown people in the
caravan from Central America), has
been flooded with donations, many from
non-Jews. As my own feeble way to
challenge hatred, I donated to HIAS on
Saturday and suggested to my newsletter readers that they might as well. If we
all find our own ways to light a candle,
we can drive out the enveloping darkness.
These expressions of our shared
humanity are important in and of themselves, but also as a way of fighting back
at the fear and loathing that are being
weaponized in this election cycle. One
example: the breathless fear-mongering about the caravan still almost 1,000
miles away in Mexico.
Let’s be blunt: Voters, you are being
President Trump has described the
caravan as an “invasion of our country,”
and Fox News referred to it as an invasion more than 60 times in October,
along with 75 times on Fox Business
Channel, according to CNN.
This should be a nonstory. As I’ve
written, most in the shrinking caravan
will never enter the United States and
they would amount to less than onetenth of 1 percent of immigrants this
year. In just the period of the caravan’s
journey, another 16,800 Americans may
die from drugs — a real threat!
Trump is deploying 5,200 United
States troops to the southern border and
said he may deploy
5,000 or 10,000 more.
Trump and
Even the smaller
Fox News
number is twice as
are trying to
many as are in Syria
fighting the Islamic
scare white
State, and they don’t
voters into
have anything to do
at the border, plus the
45-day deployment
may end before the
migrants actually
arrive. A plausible
estimate for the cost of just the smaller
deployment is $35 million, which if used
more sensibly could instead get 1,600
Americans off opioid addictions.
The reason for the talk about invasion
is simple: Trump and Fox News are
trying to manipulate white voters into
supporting Republican candidates.
There is considerable evidence from
research experiments that scaring
people makes them more conservative,
at least temporarily.
For example, a Yale professor, John
Bargh, describes in his book, “Before
You Know It,” a study in which liberal
college students were asked to imagine
their own deaths in detail. Afterward,
their views shifted rightward.
Italy and E.U. stalemate
relationship. Everyone sees the flaws of
the current system. The problem is that
it would be political suicide to be seen
as granting Italy concessions. It’s not
just budget issues; it also extends to
immigration, for which Italy (and
Greece) bear more than their share of
the cost.
This raises a question: The commission has bent budgetary rules before. So
why the intransigence toward the new
Italian government?
There are optimistic and cynical
possibilities for the commission’s rejection. The optimistic one is that the commission had to intervene aggressively
to save its reputation because the Italian government made a mockery of the
budgetary process. The economic case
for the larger Italian budget deficit
seemed less like a good-faith argument
and more like a deliberate provocation
to create a casus belli with European
officials. If this were the case, however,
it would not make sense for the commission to fall for it.
The more cynical view is that the
commission is playing a game of national politics, pitting one nation against
another against another, even at the
cost of the long-term well-being of the
European Union. With President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany losing
popularity at home, both leaders love to
blame an external villain like the new
Italian government.
Ms. Merkel told a German newspaper
that solidarity among eurozone members should not turn the union into a
“debt union.” Mr. Macron said Matteo
Salvini, the leader of the League party,
was right to see him as a “main opponent.”
Ms. Merkel and Mr. Macron have
certainly not been outdone by the new
Italian government, which in turn loves
to blame Europe for Italy’s problems.
The real loser, in this scenario, is the
hope of a functioning Europe.
If the unelected European commissioners care about the future of Europe
as much as they proclaim, they should
make every effort to engage the Italian
government in a sensible budget plan
that finds a balance between preventing
the debt from exploding with the demands the Italian population has made
on its government.
The best way to prevent the worst
form of populism from spreading —
which is in the interests of both the
European Union commissioners and
Italian citizens — is recognizing and
addressing the legitimate grievances
that a large fraction of the population
has voiced in electing this new Italian
One of the lessons we learned from
1930s Germany is what happens when
an intransigent group of nations tries to
humiliate a prostrated borrower country for petty national politics. It would
be an unforgivable tragedy if the European Union were to repeat the same
mistake with Italy today.
is a professor at the
University of Chicago Booth School of
Business and a co-host of the podcast
In another experiment, students were
first cautioned about a flu going around,
and then asked a series of questions.
Simply reminding people about the flu
led some to be more negative about
So, no surprise, Fox News is worrying
aloud about the caravan bringing disease for want of vaccination. One Fox
News “expert” warned that the diseases
might include smallpox. (The fact that
smallpox was eradicated worldwide
four decades ago suggests his level of
I checked childhood vaccination rates
for Honduras, where the caravan began.
They are 97 percent, compared to 92 to
95 percent in the United States, according to the World Health Organization.
No wonder the United States Centers
for Disease Control believes that “the
children arriving at U.S. borders pose
little risk of spreading infectious diseases.”
So Republican candidates conjure
monsters to terrify us on a predictable
election cycle. In 2010, it was “death
panels” and the “Ground Zero mosque.”
Four years ago, it was Ebola and ISIS
terrorists sneaking in from Mexico. Two
years ago it was men using transgender
rights to invade women’s bathrooms.
Today it’s the caravan.
The brilliance of the Trump fear
strategy is that scholars find that simply
raising identity issues turns whites
more conservative. So while Trump’s
nonsense about the caravan is easily
rebutted, he arouses primal, unconscious fears in white voters that make
them more likely to vote Republican.
There’s a risk that in responding to
the incitement, I am amplifying Trump’s
message. But I believe in rationality and
our capacity, if warned, to resist manipulation.
In Pittsburgh, we saw that heroism
could counter evil by relying on the very
best instincts of our shared humanity.
We need similar heroism from all of us
voters, mustering the basic goodness
and common sense to defeat the torrent
of demagogy, hate and fear.
of hate speech
As Dr. Fiske has written, “Both
science and history suggest that people will nurture and act on their prejudices in the worst ways when these
people are put under stress, pressured
by peers, or receive approval from
authority figures to do so.”
So when someone like President
Trump dehumanizes his adversaries,
he could be putting them beyond the
reach of empathy, stripping them of
moral protection and making it easier
to harm them.
If you still have any doubt about the
power of political speech to foment
physical violence, consider the classic
experiment by the Yale psychologist
Stanley Milgram, who in the early
1960s studied the willingness of a
group of men to obey an authority
Subjects were told to administer
electrical shocks to another participant, without knowing that the shocks
were fake. Sixty-five percent of the
subjects did what they were told and
delivered the maximum shock, which if
real could have been fatal.
The implication is that we can easily
be influenced by authority to do terrible harm to others — just by receiving
an order.
Now imagine what would happen if
President Trump actually issued a call
to arms to his supporters. Scared? You
should be.
is a psychiatrist.
In an interview with the news program
“Axios on HBO,” President Trump
announced that he plans to issue an
executive order ending birthright
citizenship, the principle that everyone
born in the United States, with a handful of exceptions, is automatically a
citizen of the United States.
“It was always told to me,” the president declared, “that you needed a
constitutional amendment. Guess
what? You don’t.”
In fact, such an order would undoubtedly be unconstitutional. It would
also violate a deeply rooted American
idea — that anybody, regardless of
race, religion, national origin, or the
legal status of one’s parents, can be a
loyal citizen of this country.
Birthright citizenship is established
by the Civil Rights Act of 1866, still on
the books today, and by the Fourteenth
Amendment to the Constitution, ratified two years later. The only exceptions, in the words of the amendment,
are persons not “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States.
Members of Congress at the time
made clear that this wording applied
only to Native Americans living on
reservations — then considered members of their own tribal sovereignties,
not the nation — and American-born
children of foreign diplomats. (Congress made all Native Americans
citizens in 1924.)
Embedding birthright citizenship in
the Constitution was one of the transformative results of the Civil War and
the destruction of slavery. Before the
war, no uniform definition of citizenship existed. Soon after the conflict
ended, members of Congress asked
Horace Binney, a prominent lawyer
and a former congressman, to explore
the meaning of citizenship.
“The word citizen,” he responded, “is
found ten times at least in the Constitution of the United States, and no definition of it is given anywhere.” States
determined who was a citizen and the
rules varied considerably. Massachusetts recognized free African-Americans as citizens; many other states did
not. For persons immigrating from
abroad, moreover, racial distinctions
were built into federal law.
The first Naturalization Act, in 1790,
limited the process of naturalization to
“white persons.” In 1857, on the eve of
the Civil War, the Supreme Court, in
the Dred Scott decision, declared that
no black person, slave or free, could be
a citizen of the United States or part of
the national “political community.”
Echoes of this outlook persist to this
day, including in Mr. Trump’s long
campaign to deny the birthright citizenship status of President Barack
Long before the Civil War, abolitionists black and white had proposed
an alternative understanding of national citizenship severed from the
concept of race, with citizens’ rights
enforced by the federal government.
Gatherings where northern free blacks
agitated for equal rights called themselves conventions of “colored citizens”
to drive home this idea. And by the
conclusion of the war, the end of slavery and the service of nearly 200,000
African-Americans in the Union army
and navy propelled the question of
black citizenship to
center stage of
American politics.
The Fourteenth
has U.S.
Amendment was
meant to provide, for
the first time, a
uniform national
all wrong.
definition of citizenship, so that states
would no longer be able to deny that
status to blacks. It went on to require
the states to accord all “persons,”
including aliens, the equal protection of
the laws, as part of an effort to create a
new egalitarian republic on the ashes
of slavery.
The birthright citizenship provision,
explained Senator Jacob Howard of
Michigan, one of the founders of the
Republican Party and the floor manager of the amendment’s passage in
the Senate, was intended to “settle the
great question of citizenship once and
for all.”
The amendment formed part of a
constitutional revolution that, in the
words of George William Curtis, the
editor of the Republican magazine
Harper’s Weekly, transformed a document “for white men” into one “for
mankind.” In 1870, Congress amended
the naturalization laws to allow black
immigrants to become citizens. The
bar to Asians, however, persisted; they
could not be naturalized until well into
the 20th century.
Mr. Trump’s prospective order would
deny citizenship to children born in the
United States to noncitizens. It is especially aimed at undocumented immigrants who supposedly pour into the
country to have “anchor babies” — one
of the president’s numerous exaggerations when it comes to the dangers
posed by immigration. When the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, the
category of illegal or undocumented
immigrants did not exist. The closest
analogy to children born today to such
immigrants were the American-born
offspring of newcomers from China. At
the time, their parents could not become citizens, but in 1898, following
the plain language of the Fourteenth
Amendment, the Supreme Court affirmed that a person of Chinese origin
born in the United States was a citizen
by birthright.
In the interview in which he discussed his plan to issue the executive
order, Mr. Trump claimed that the
United States is “the only country in
the world where a person comes in and
has a baby, and the baby is essentially
a citizen of the United States.” This,
too, is an exaggeration, as many in the
Western Hemisphere do recognize
birthright citizenship. But it is true
that in the past decade or two the
nations of Europe have retreated from
this principle. All limit automatic access to citizenship in some way, making it depend not simply on place of
birth but also on ethnicity, culture,
religion or extra requirements for the
children of parents who are not citizens.
That has not been our way. Adopted
as part of the effort to purge the United
States of the legacy of slavery, the
principle of birthright citizenship remains an eloquent statement about the
nature of American society, a powerful
force for assimilation of the children of
immigrants and a repudiation of our
long history of racism.
Mr. Trump’s order, if issued, will not
only violate both the Constitution and
deeply rooted American ideals, but
also set a dangerous precedent. If the
president can unilaterally abrogate a
provision of the Constitution by executive order, which one will be next?
is the author of many works
of American history, including “Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1866-1877.” His latest book, “The
Second Founding: How the Civil War
and Reconstruction Forged a Constitutional Revolution,” will appear next
12 | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2018
Transparent training for New York’s marathon
ning. Rosario acts as a kind of general
manager for the team, picking its members, negotiating salaries for the runners and managing the budget.
How much the runners get paid depends on their experience and success,
but since 11 runners are dividing about
$500,000, no one is getting rich.
In mid-October, the NAZ Elite crew
drove an hour to 3,000 feet of elevation
in Camp Verde for one of its last brutally
intense workouts before the marathon.
It was a mix of quad-burning three-mile
tempo runs that topped out at a grueling
pace of 4 minutes and 45 seconds per
mile and increasingly fast, lung-searing
interval runs that ranged from 400 to
1,600 meters. The goal was to go faster
when they were tired to prepare them
for a New York marathon that is usually
filled with changing paces and surges.
“We want to run in the lead pack,” Rosario said.
Through it all, Jen Rosario snapped
hundreds of pictures and Bruce’s husband, Ben, filmed bits on his phone that
could eventually be edited and uploaded
to Four days later, when
Bruce ran her final hard workout — 15
miles at 5:50 per mile at 7,000 feet with
Smith and her husband pacing her — a
camera was in her face as soon as she
was done. “The hay is for sure in the
barn,” she said, using the runner-speak
phrase that translates roughly to “the
work for the big race is done.”
Fauble ran 2:12:35 in his debut marathon in Frankfurt last year, which is an
impressive debut but still a way from
world class. Kipchoge’s marathon world
record is 2:01:39. Fauble would be
thrilled to break 2:10.
If he can do that, he would keep up
with other NAZ Elite runners who are
beginning to have competitive success
as well. In June, Kellyn Taylor, who is often running next to Bruce in videos, won
and set a course record (2:24:28) at the
Grandma’s Marathon in Minnesota. In
July, Bruce won the 10K national road
championship at the Peachtree Road
Race in Atlanta. Aliphine Tuliamuk, a
naturalized U.S. citizen from Kenya,
won national championships in the half
marathon and the 25K earlier this year.
While the winning is welcome, it is not
required for NAZ success.
“People are afraid to be vulnerable,”
Bruce said. “Now if I fail people feel like
they are a part of that.”
Arizona running club
goes against the grain
by putting it all online
There is a standard operating procedure
for the elite running clubs that produce
most of the world’s top distance runners:
Gather the fastest possible runners.
Have them toil in secrecy, allowing
only limited contact with the civilized
Never ease up, especially not during
altitude training, when the hardest and
most crucial marathon preparation
takes place.
It’s all very proprietary.
Then there is the club known as
Northern Arizona Elite, where daily
training logs are published online. Key
workouts are filmed, photographed and
shared on social media, the team website and in certain cases a YouTube
channel. The 11 runners in the club, especially the veterans who run the biggest races, are required to be as public
as possible about every aspect of their
pursuits. The club is, essentially, a digital running reality series.
Its members are hardly superstars.
The three who are competing Sunday in
the New York City Marathon — Stephanie Bruce, Scott Fauble and Scott
Smith — are long shots to win. They
have their sights set on the top 10, but
none has ever come close to winning one
of the world’s six major marathons.
Yet they are constantly blogging and
tweeting and giving advice to runners
getting ready for their first 5K or trying
to shave those last few minutes from
their marathon times so they can qualify
for Boston.
This may sound counterintuitive: After all, what football team opens its playbook to an opponent before the Super
Bowl? The NAZ Elite approach to strategy and data, however, illustrates that
there are no real secrets or shortcuts to
success in long-distance running anymore. It is also a new concept for how
top runners can subsist and thrive in a
sport that has a lot of participation but
Left, Coach Ben Rosario watching Scott
Fauble, center, and Scott Smith, right,
train in Camp Verde, Ariz.; above, Danielle Shanahan preparing to warm up;
below, Erin Clark lacing up her shoes.
relatively few fans. The idea is to
present not just the triumphs in competing and training but the trials and the
failures, too — for runners to be something more than just their trophies.
“If you don’t believe that is part of the
job of being a professional runner today
then you don’t get it,” Ben Rosario, the
club’s head coach, said recently over
beers and tostadas at a downtown
Flagstaff bistro here in Arizona’s high
desert. “We don’t have a machine behind us like the N.F.L. or the N.B.A.”
This twist on the usual secrecy of elite
running clubs is Rosario’s brainchild. He
is an Olympic Trials marathon qualifier
who founded the Big River Running
Company, a running specialty store in
St. Louis. As he moved into coaching
and decided he wanted to lead a club for
the best of the best runners, he realized
he needed to offer more to a shoe company than victories if he was going to
persuade one to sponsor his efforts.
of the NAZ Elite workout we did that
Fauble, who turns 27 on Monday, said
he began to understand the reach of the
club when the group was in Boston in
the spring for a 5K race and the Boston
“We had like 25 people a day coming
up to us and recognizing us and asking
for our pictures,” he said. “It blew me
Most marathon runners race that distance only twice each year. Unless their
name is Eliud Kipchoge, who has won 10
of his 11 marathon starts, the race is a
crapshoot. Over the course of 26.2 miles,
so many things can go wrong. Injuries
are common. Wins are rare.
Bruce ran a marathon in 2 hours and
29 minutes in Houston in 2011 but says
only now — after having two children —
is she in the best shape of her life. Winning in New York probably will require a
time around 2:25. “I want to be the best
version of myself on the day,” she said.
Bruce’s teammates, Fauble and
Smith, said they are focused on being
competitive, of experiencing the race
from the front. “We’ll work together,”
Smith, 32, said.
Smith, who finished 14th in the 10,000
meters at the Olympic Trials in 2016,
used to wait tables to support his running. The idea that he and the 10 other
club members are sharing some kind of
trade secrets is absurd, he said.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to
come up with a training plan these
days,” Smith said.
Rosario started the club here, at 7,000
feet above sea level, in part because it
allows for vital altitude training that increases red blood cells, which carry oxygen to muscles. He drafted his wife, Jen,
to serve as the team videographer and
photographer, so that the runners can
continue to raise their profiles — and
Hoka’s — even when they aren’t win-
No. 0211
Created by Peter Ritmeester/Presented by Will Shortz
(c) Distributed by The New York Times syndicate
So Rosario came up with the concept
of a team that searches for the spotlight
nearly every day and goes public with
everything about training, including
distance and pace, that fans don’t hear
about usually. He sought out runners
who were fast and had the potential to
improve, but who were also good, supportive teammates who would be willing to unload their hopes and dreams
and insecurities often enough to establish a rapport with as many runners as
possible. Hoka, a small shoe company
known for its feather-light cushioning,
signed on, agreeing to fund the bulk of
what is now NAZ Elite’s roughly
$700,000 annual budget.
“There’s no other club that is going to
tell you what they are doing every day of
the week,” said Mike McManus, senior
sports marketing director at Hoka.
Word appears to be getting out.
Bruce, 34, said runners send her “messages and tell me how they did a version
Fill the grid so
that every row,
column 3x3 box
and shaded 3x3
box contains
each of the
1 to 9 exactly
For solving tips
and more puzzles:
No. 0111
CROSSWORD | Edited by Will Shortz
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.
28 Game in which
31 Belt under the waist?
4 Tank top
35 Some Tornado Alley
10 “Westworld” network
13 Restaurant chain with
a “never-ending pasta
19 Doughnut-loving toon
21 Kind of ball that’s
37 Country music’s ___
61 Show with a musical
Young Band
guest, for short
“Twilight Zone”
episodes, for short
39 9-to-5, maybe
40 [Knock, knock]
symphonic “verse”
23 Did a pantomime of
24 Ukulele accessory
25 Like many textbook
26 Show letters
46 “Heck, yeah!”
47 Didn’t keep quiet
63 An end to jargon?
65 See 56-Down
2 Simple craft
3 Confidence booster on
a test
6 Latin rhythm
5 Hollywood title: Abbr.
1 Hot chocolaty drink
50 Talk smack to
64 Classic gag gift
4 Its teeth are pointy
62 Genre for Anthrax and
48 Level
Solution to November 1 Puzzle
58 Wasted vacation days?
44 Composer of
56 Invite, as to one’s
42 Has as a tenant
Answers to Previous Puzzles
55 Bear in a hit 2012 film
36 Explosion cause
17 “You wanna fight?!”
18 Remote inserts
54 Stopped debating
57 ___ package
38 Figures in some
20 ___ Air
KenKen® is a registered trademark of Nextoy, LLC.
Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved.
I is 1
1 It might give you a
16 Slip
For solving tips and more KenKen
kenken. For Feedback: nytimes@
7 Unsavory fellows
8 Spot remover?
9 Bits ___ second
10 Hershey toffee treats
11 Its shell has three
27 What insomnia
causes to build up
over time
29 Like Call of Duty:
Black Ops
12 Guesstimate words
30 This, to Tomás
14 German wheels
31 Breezy air
15 Emphatic rejection
32 Spinoff Nabisco
22 Fathers’ clothes
24 “Sweet”
33 Wimp
34 Establishment to
which customers
have come for years?
52 Elder of the sisters
who visited Narnia in
“The Chronicles of
41 Classic TV diner
53 Said “O-D-O-U-R,” e.g.
43 Tears don’t rip it
54 Ukulele accessory
45 Stubborn
Dr. Seuss pair
49 Clarifier in texts
51 Very furry, muscular
56 With 65-Across,
fierce marcher
59 Post cereal made
with honey
60 ___ Chang
(ex-girlfriend of Harry
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2018 | 13
One wedding gig and they went global
The choir that performed
for Prince Harry and his
bride now has an album
Karen Gibson wanted some silence. She
was standing before the Kingdom Choir,
the gospel ensemble she founded and
has led for more than 20 years, during a
recent rehearsal at a church in the London neighborhood of Pimlico. The group
had just been working on a version of
“All of Me,” made famous by John Legend, and a couple of dozen singers were
enjoying a rambunctious moment of
“O.K., got to listen,” Ms. Gibson said,
raising her arms and her voice. The
chattering continued.
“When I say, ‘Listen,’ I’m serious,” she
said, much louder. The talking stopped.
“You see how things are kicking up. You
are going to have to be on the top of your
game. When I say, ‘Listen,’ I’m saying it
for a reason. Am I clear?”
“Yes, ma’am,” the group replied.
Once a passion project for parttimers, the Kingdom Choir is exhibiting
a new intensity at rehearsals. It started
soon after May 19, the day the group
dazzled millions of viewers at the royal
wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan
Markle, now the Duke and Duchess of
Sussex. For those who hadn’t taken a
look at the program, there was the initial
surprise of a stirring sermon by Michael
Curry, an African-American preacher.
Once he was done, all eyes turned to the
rear of the church, where the Kingdom
Choir launched into three-part harmony
version of “Stand by Me.”
A song made famous by Ben E. King,
an American soul artist, performed by
black singers, for an aristocracy that is
emblematically British and white. As a
bit of culture splicing, it was inspired,
though Ms. Gibson said that initially she
had no idea that she and her choir had
“We’re used to people shouting during
our songs,” she said in an interview a
few days after the Pimlico rehearsal.
“When we were done, all we heard was
the rustling of people turning their
heads around.”
In the days that followed, the media in
Britain anointed Ms. Gibson the country’s “godmother of gospel”; YouTube
videos of the choir’s performance have
been viewed several million times. For a
group whose biggest previous audience
was 200 people, the transition from obscurity to global acclaim was instant.
And just getting started. Last week,
Sony released the Kingdom Choir’s debut album, “Stand By Me,” recorded, in
part, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The group performed in Sydney, Australia, at the close of the Invictus Games on Saturday, and an 18-city
tour of Britain, the group’s first, is
planned for next year. That will be followed by to-be-announced dates in the
United States, according to the choir’s
For Ms. Gibson, a natural introvert
with a beatific smile, recognition has
been an adjustment. Her elaborate upswirl of pewter-toned hair makes her instantly recognizable, and she said she
was getting accustomed to fame, which
she finds both strange and exhilarating.
As she took a seat for this interview, in a
South London cafe, a young man stood
to make room.
“Your music helped me through a
very dark place,” he said, as he picked
up his backpack and moved.
“The weird part is that I am living the
same life I’ve always lived,” Ms. Gibson
said after the two talked for a minute. “I
go to the same supermarket. I’m making the same music. I’m ordinary. But
Ms. Gibson has been involved with
gospel singing since she was a teenager,
Karen Gibson, front, and the Kingdom Choir in London last month. Before singing in May for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, the group was largely unknown. Below, Ms. Gibson at a recent rehearsal.
growing up in the Battersea neighborhood of South London and attending a
black Pentecostal church. Inspired by
early work of the Winans, who would become perhaps the United States’ foremost gospel family, she, her sister and
some childhood friends formed a sextet
called New Dawn. The group performed
all over England, primarily at churches.
After high school, Ms. Gibson spent
“11 unhappy years” in information technology for an arm of local government.
When she was laid off, she found a job
teaching gospel at a girls Catholic
school. She formed the Kingdom Choir
in 1994, reuniting members of New
Dawn and recruiting others who had the
right mix of singing chops and positive
“I don’t audition,” Ms. Gibson said.
“It’s down to our connection.”
There are dozens of gospel groups in
Britain, and many were more prominent
than the Kingdom Choir. But one former
Kingdom member knew Eva Williams,
Prince Charles’s deputy head of communication. Ms. Gibson was riding a bus
one day in March when her cellphone
“We’d like to invite you to sing at the
royal wedding,” Ms. Williams said.
“Mostly what I felt was disbelief,” Ms.
Gibson remembers. “Right up until the
wedding, I kept thinking, this is going to
fall through.”
She was initially instructed not to tell
anyone, a challenge for a conductor who
needs 20 singers to clear their calendar
months in advance.
Elaine Simpson, a choir member and
longtime friend, was one of those recruited. “Karen called me and asked if I
was free on May 19,” Ms. Simpson said.
“I said, ‘I’m not free. Why?’ And she
said, ‘Google the date.’ I was thinking,
what is the point of Googling a date?”
In an instant, Ms. Simpson decided
she could be free on May 19.
Gathering members was the easy
part. The challenge was coming up with
an arrangement of “Stand by Me,” a request of the royals, that the couple liked.
The first version, sent via MP3, got a polite, “No, thank you.” Prince Harry and
Ms. Markle wanted it stripped down and
less syncopated, Ms. Gibson said.
Versions two, three, four, five and six
were all rejected with the same directive: Pare it back. So Ms. Gibson suggested a face-to-face meeting with the
couple. Off she went to Kensington Palace with five singers and a keyboard
“They were lovely,” she said. “And I
just walked through an arrangement on
the spot. ‘Do “oohs” here. The second
verse will come in here.’ And the minute
we started to sing, I could just feel their
approval, the joy, the effect. Both of them
said, ‘That’s the one.’”
It wasn’t. When the choir recorded the
new arrangement, it reacquired “bells
“Tosca,” he tracked down the original
reels of 16-millimeter film in one archive, and a full set of color images of the
production in another.
“It was almost like a detective job,” he
said. The photographs, he added, “gave
us 100 percent of the references for everything: the sets, the costumes, her
makeup, every single color.”
Colorization can be polarizing. Film
buffs tend to cringe when classic blackand-white movies are colorized, but
here there is no director whose auteur
vision is being altered. Then there are
the persistent questions of how well it is
done; see the endless debates about the
colors used to restore Michelangelo’s
Sistine Chapel paintings. But Mr. Volf
said that the colorized Callas was winning fans.
“The greatest compliment I had was
from people who attended some of those
performances,” he said.
“They said to me after the film, ‘You
know, we remember that red dress.’
They remembered, vividly, her makeup,
because she had a very particular way
of doing her makeup, and they said,
‘That was exactly it.’”
Callas in the final scene of “Norma” in Paris, near the end of her operatic career. The film also includes footage of her in “Tosca.”
and whistles,” Ms. Gibson’s shorthand
for more complicated rhythms and additional harmonies. Versions seven, eight,
nine, 10, 11 and 12 were all turned down.
With no time left for more back and
forth, the choir improvised what
amounted to version 13 on wedding day.
The members met that morning at
Buckingham Palace and drove roughly
25 miles to St. George’s Chapel with a
police escort.
“We were so ready,” Ms. Gibson said
of the performance. “We just prayed
that this gift of a song was accepted.”
The challenge was coming up
with an arrangement of “Stand
by Me,” a request of the royals,
that the couple liked.
Only during the end of the second
number, “This Little Light of Mine” —
sung as the royal couple left the church
and got into a horse-drawn carriage —
were there claps and cheers. A few attendees offered congratulations. The actor Tom Hardy gave Ms. Gibson a hug.
Then bodyguards came to escort her
and other members to a press room,
where they got their first taste of celebrity.
“It was a bit of pandemonium,” Ms.
Simpson said. “We were trying to get to
the BBC studio with this escort, and we
were literally mobbed. People came up
to us crying, wanting our photographs.
But it was all love. Everyone was smiling, laughing.”
In a matter of days, the group’s Instagram account soared from 700 followers
to 32,000. Friends and well-wishers
called, as did a talent manager, Jonathan
Shalit. He’d seen a story about the choir
and noticed that Ms. Gibson hadn’t mentioned anything about an album — either a deal or an imminent release.
“They didn’t even have a P.R. person,
but I managed to track down a contact
for her,” Mr. Shalit said in an interview.
“When I found out that they didn’t have
a record deal, I was gobsmacked.”
His pitch to Ms. Gibson emphasized
the rewards of the here rather than the
“He asked me, ‘If you had any amount
of money, what would you do with it?’”
she recalled. “And I said, ‘I want to look
after my mum. I want to pay off her bills.
Pay off my bills.’”
With the promise of added income has
come added work. Rehearsals are now
twice a week, instead of once every two.
Some choir members have quit their
full-time jobs.
But even as the Kingdom Choir goes
pro, it has kept the jubilant atmosphere
that has long defined it. For every stern
word that Ms. Gibson uttered at the
Pimlico rehearsal, there were 20 of pure
encouragement. The night ended with
the choir listening back to a track they’d
recorded for the album. It was Jill Scott’s
“Golden,” and for many in the room, it
was the first time they’d heard the finished product.
They were on their feet, singing along
to their own voices, dancing and jumping, an almost athletic outburst of bliss.
In a corner, Ms. Gibson beamed, clapped
and joined in the chorus: “Living my life
like it’s golden, living my life like it’s
La divina a colori
A new documentary
includes colorized footage
of Maria Callas onstage
What was it like to experience the great
soprano Maria Callas? Technology continues to try to approximate an answer
for those who missed her storied career.
Her recordings have been remastered, and re-remastered. A holographic
image of her, accompanied by a live orchestra, is going on a world tour. Now a
new documentary, “Maria by Callas,”
which opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, has colorized some of the
all-too-rare footage of her singing.
Here is Callas, now in vibrant color, in
two of her most celebrated roles: Bellini’s Norma and Puccini’s Tosca. The
“Tosca” film, taken at the Royal Opera
House in London in 1964, is well known
— but only in black and white. Tom Volf,
the director of “Maria by Callas,” restored it in high definition and colorized
it, bringing out the deep red of her velvet
dress, the gold of the brocade, the glitter
of her jewels.
“The idea is to make her accessible to
new generations, and younger audiences,” he said in a telephone interview.
Mr. Volf said that he got the idea to colorize some of Callas’s performances
while collecting footage — much of
which has never been seen before — for
the film, and discovering, to his surprise, how much was already in color,
and what a visceral reaction it gave him.
“The idea is to make her
accessible to new generations.”
“It was very striking to me that
watching her in color suddenly gave me
the sense almost that she was alive, that
she was there,” he said. “She was not
some kind of dusty figure from the past,
but somehow she was present, and in
the present.”
So he decided to colorize some of the
performance footage, too — but only in
cases where he had good color photographs to match. For the Royal Opera
14 | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2018
Going for the lesser gold
Why potential nominees
for Oscars often campaign
as supporting players
In Hollywood, it pays to be on top. That
is, unless it interferes with your Oscar
Welcome to awards season, the only
time of year when actors wave aside
matters of ego and star billing to argue
that they were less essential to their
films than you might have thought.
Why would these movie stars diminish
the standing that their agents fought
so hard to secure? Because sometimes,
a supporting-actor route presents the
easiest path to Oscar.
Here are just some of the strategies
employed by this year’s major contenders, all of whom hope their humility will be rewarded with hardware.
Power plays are the name of the game
in “The Favourite” (due Nov. 23), so
perhaps it’s appropriate that the Oscar
campaign for the film involves a certain amount of scheming, too.
In this royal comedy, Emma Stone
and Rachel Weisz play two ladies at
court who manipulate the diminished
Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) to suit
their own ambitions, and to judge from
screen time alone, all three women are
evenly matched leads. Yet to throw the
three of them into the same best actress race might split the vote in what
is shaping up to be a very competitive
The distributor Fox Searchlight has
come up with a unique fix: The studio
is positioning Colman as the sole lead
and the marketing will suggest that
voters consider Stone and Weisz for
supporting slots. While that order
upholds the royal hierarchy, it seems
outrageous to argue that Stone and
Weisz are not the protagonists of “The
Favourite,” since they do all of the
film’s plotting.
Still, with this strategy, Fox Searchlight is probably mindful of Oscar
history: No movie has placed more
than one woman in the best actress
category since Susan Sarandon and
Geena Davis were nominated for
“Thelma and Louise” in 1991, yet a
twofer is so common in the best supporting actress category that “Up in
the Air,” “The Fighter,” “The Help” and
“Doubt” all managed it in the last
decade. To split up the women of “The
Favourite” in this fashion may be the
only way to get all three nominated.
The supporting-actor gambit feels
more questionable when it comes to
“Green Book” (Nov. 21), a 1960s roadtrip dramedy with Mahershala Ali as a
virtuoso pianist who hires a lightly
racist palooka (Viggo Mortensen) to
serve as his chauffeur while touring
the Deep South. “Green Book,” based
on a true story, wouldn’t work if these
two actors were anything less than
equals; in fact, during the film’s centerpiece scene, Ali’s character argues to a
bigoted restaurateur that he deserves
the same seat at the table as
However, Universal will push
Mortensen as the film’s sole lead, while
Ali will contend in the supporting-actor
category. I’m told that Ali made the
choice himself, based on the fact that
he enters “Green Book” 15 minutes
later than Mortensen, and this distinction may earn him his second Oscar
(after his supporting win for “Moonlight”): Ali is that strong in the role,
and his screen time will swamp other
Clockwise from above: Mahershala
Ali, right, opposite Viggo Mortensen in
“Green Book”; Timothée Chalamet,
center, in “Beautiful Boy,” with Steve
Carell in the background; and Rachel
Weisz, left, and Emma Stone in “The
father, the Oscar campaign will position Chalamet as a supporting actor.
How are these actors not considered
co-leads? Because the 56-year-old
Carell, a showbiz veteran, is perceived
as Chalamet’s senior when it comes to
Oscar categorization.
The same principle is at play with
the summer drama “The Wife,” for
which Glenn Close will be run as a best
actress candidate while her onscreen
husband, Jonathan Pryce, is touted for
the supporting-actor category. The
irony here is rich: Both actors have the
same amount of screen time in “The
Wife,” in which Close plays a woman
living in the shadow of her spouse
(Pryce), an author who has just won
the Nobel Prize.
However, Pryce has never been
nominated for an Oscar, while Close is
gunning for her seventh nomination
and first win. To position Pryce as her
support doesn’t simply propel him into
a race that may be easier for him to
penetrate, it also fortifies both the
narrative of the film and Close’s Oscar
campaign: This is a woman who has
long deserved major recognition, and
no one ought to get in her way.
In October, the publicity firm hired to
manage the Oscar campaign for “A
Quiet Place” announced that Emily
Blunt would be campaigned for as a
lead actress for the spring sleeper hit
about a family trying to survive the
postapocalypse. A week later, the story
changed: Actually, Blunt will go supporting, since she and her husband,
the director and star John Krasinski,
have decided that “A Quiet Place” was
a true ensemble with no clear lead.
Was Blunt adopting the humble
credo of the actors from the best picture winner “Spotlight,” who all positioned themselves for supporting-actor
More likely, she was trying to get out
of her own way: Disney plans a big
Oscar campaign for December’s “Mary
Poppins Returns,” in which Blunt plays
the role that won Julie Andrews a best
actress Oscar.
Still, the question is whether the
academy will take heed, and all of
these strategizing stars would be advised to keep that in mind. In 2008,
Kate Winslet was faced with a similar
champagne problem: She had two
strong roles, in “Revolutionary Road”
and “The Reader,” and she argued that
the latter was a supporting performance, so as not to get in the way of her
primary campaign for “Revolutionary
In the end, though, the academy
proved cool to that film. Not only was
Winslet snubbed for “Revolutionary
Road,” but voters also decided to ignore Winslet’s own wishes and nominated her for best actress for “The
Reader.” A happy ending was secured
when Winslet still managed to win the
Oscar for that film, but the message
was clear: When it comes to categorization, no one outranks the academy.
She attended college at the University of New Mexico and married three
times, once to a sculptor and twice to
jazz musicians. She lived with these
men all over the map. She learned to
think early about what to take and
what to leave in life; about how to
inhabit places you want to go but will
not be able to stay. She had four sons
whom she mostly raised alone; she
fought to find time for her writing.
The stories in “Evening in Paradise”
mostly follow the arc of Berlin’s life.
There is more of a through-line to
follow than there was in “A Manual for
Cleaning Women.” The protagonists,
though seen from a variety of perspectives, are women much like herself.
One thing that makes Berlin so
valuable is her gift for evoking the
sweetness and earnestness of young
women who fall in love (one thinks
that being a good wife is handing her
husband his coffee handle first, while
she grasps the hot side) and then
catching them at that moment when
things begin to turn, when the trees of
their being are forced to grow bark.
Her women are impulsive; they’re
leapers; they’re in pursuit of wildness,
of ravishment; they want to crack their
men open like crabs and pull out the
meat. Every pore of their beings is
open. They want, in Elizabeth Hardwick’s phrase, “love and alcohol and
the clothes on the floor.” But the men
don’t talk to them. Or are always away
working. Or have heroin habits. Her
women, weary from the day’s hassle,
learn to fend for themselves.
Berlin is so stealthily funny. At the
worst moment in one woman’s life,
with police at her dinner table, a goat
and a pony thrust their heads through
an open window as if to say, “Hey.” She
writes about a cat that liked to push a
telephone off its hook just so it could
hear a voice say the phone is off the
hook. There’s a riff about how there’s
no way anyone named Cokie — I assume she means Cokie Roberts — is a
middle-class person from Ohio.
Her women find solace in trees and
flowers. They plant things in thin
topsoil; they only rarely get to watch
them grow. They find solace, too, in the
radio and in records and in their husbands’ jam sessions. There’s so much
music in Berlin’s stories, from the
“Cielito Lindo” guitar players of her
youth to her own music: Buddy Holly,
Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, the
bossa novas of Astrud Gilberto.
Berlin’s mothers sing to their children: “Texarkana Baby,” “The Red
River Valley.” Sometimes the sounds
are circumambient. In a story called
“Sombra,” she writes: “Music came
from everywhere, not transistors
walking down city streets, but faraway
mariachis, a bolero on a radio in the
kitchen, the whistle of the knife sharpener, an organ grinder, workmen singing from a scaffold.”
Berlin probably deserved a Pulitzer
Prize; she definitely deserved, to
borrow the name of a Waylon Jennings
song, a Wurlitzer Prize, for all the
coins she drops in our mental jukeboxes. She has an instinctive access to
the ways music can both provoke and
“There are things people just don’t
talk about,” Berlin wrote in a story
titled “Dust to Dust.” “I don’t mean the
hard things, like love, but the awkward
ones, like how funerals are fun sometimes or how it’s exciting to watch
buildings burning.” She managed to
write, beautifully, about the hard and
the awkward things.
Nothing came easily to her. In a
letter collected in “Welcome Home,”
Berlin describes an uncomfortable
lunch in 1960 with her agent, whom
she calls “a goddamn pimp,” and a
lecherous book editor from a major
house. They’re at the Algonquin. The
men get trashed on bourbon.
On their way out, the editor murmurs that Berlin is as lovely as her
writing. Her agent adds, out of the
editor’s earshot, “Well, you’ve cinched
that, honey.” Berlin is outraged. She
writes, “The only move short of kicking him into the palm pot was simply
to say to hell with him, which I easily
During her lifetime, she was not
published by that major house, or any
other. She is now.
contenders in his category. It’s the
same strategy that was employed by
Viola Davis, who positioned herself as
a supporting actress for “Fences” and
won her first Oscar, even though she’d
previously taken home a lead-actress
Tony for the same role on Broadway.
Still, it has been 12 years since the
“Last King of Scotland” star Forest
Whitaker became the last person of
color to win best actor, and 17 years
since Halle Berry in “Monster’s Ball”
became the only woman of color to win
best actress. You can’t fault Ali’s strategy for going supporting, nor the
rarefied space he would occupy if he
won: The only other black actor who
has collected two competitive Oscars is
Denzel Washington. While I might
wish that Ali would throw his hat into
the leading race, the onus is not on him
but on Hollywood to provide the most
talented black thespians with roles that
are unambiguous leads.
When “Beautiful Boy” earned one of
the year’s highest per-screen averages
in its opening weekend last month, it
wasn’t just because audiences were
clamoring to see first-billed Steve
Carell: Many of those moviegoers were
turning out to watch Timothée Chalamet in his first major role since the
star-making “Call Me by Your Name.”
The fact that the 22-year-old actor was
doing in-person appearances further
goosed the box office.
Despite Chalamet’s ascendancy, and
in spite of the fact that he and Carell
evenly split “Beautiful Boy” as a drugaddicted youth and his concerned
In pursuit of wildness
Evening in Paradise: More Stories
By Lucia Berlin. 244 pp. Farrar, Straus &
Giroux. $26.
Welcome Home: A Memoir With
Selected Photographs and Letters
By Lucia Berlin. Edited and with a foreword by Jeff Berlin. Illustrated. 162 pp.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $25.
Two of the best reasons to be alive as a
reader this decade have been the
rediscovery of two American writers
who published much of their best work
in the 1970s and ’80s: Eve Babitz and
Lucia Berlin. They’ve moved from the
periphery of my own literary consciousness to somewhere not terribly
far from the center.
They’re very different. Babitz’s work
– read the memoirs first – is shrewd,
knowing and sun-drenched. She resembles what Colette, the experiencehungry French writer, might have
sounded like if she’d come of age in
Los Angeles when the Mamas and the
Papas were breaking out on the radio.
Berlin (1936-2004) was a writer of
tender, chaotic and careworn short
stories. Her work can remind you of
Raymond Carver’s or Grace Paley’s or
Denis Johnson’s; her stories mine a
blue-collar vein even when she’s writing about men who went to Harvard
and drive Porsches. With their bed
heads and heartsickness, her characters can also seem to have fallen out of
Dusty Springfield’s “Dusty in Memphis” album.
Berlin published 76 stories during
her lifetime. Many of these were collected and issued in book form by the
California-based Black Sparrow Press,
which also published Charles
Bukowski. They’ve begun to be reissued now by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
The book to find first is “A Manual
for Cleaning Women,” an important
selection of her stories that appeared
in 2015. Rereading my review of that
collection, I’m embarrassed to see that
I said of it, “This book would have been
twice as good at a bit more than half
the length.” I added, “Ms. Berlin is a
writer you want in your back pocket;
this volume’s tombstone heft turns her
into homework. Stories could have
been omitted.”
I still think she’s a writer you want
in your back pocket, in slim volumes
the size of Johnson’s “Jesus’ Son.” But I
regret any implication that her work
was already, in that book, beginning to
thin out. In part, this is because Farrar,
Straus & Giroux is here with another
potent selection of her stories, published under the title “Evening in
Paradise.” There is little if any diminishment in quality or intensity.
Lucia Berlin.
The publisher has also released
“Welcome Home: A Memoir with
Selected Photographs and Letters.”
This memoir, which lacks the richness
of Berlin’s fiction, had been left uncompleted. The letters are mostly to a
friend and mentor, the poet Edward
Dorn. “Welcome Home” is mostly of
biographical interest; it’s a stand-in
until the inevitable biography of Berlin
is written.
The stories in “Evening in Paradise”
are set in Chile and Texas and Mexico
and Manhattan and Oakland, Calif., all
places Berlin knew well. Berlin’s father
worked in the mine business, and the
struggling family moved often when
she was young. When her father took a
job in Chile, they lived in Santiago for a
while in relative luxury.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2018 | 15
A new taste of Marrakesh
Ancient Moroccan city
is being reinvigorated
by local entrepreneurs
Twenty years after my first visit, some
things about Marrakesh remain remarkably similar. The medina — the labyrinthine old part of the city — is still
partly populated by stooped men in
djellabas and the occasional donkey-led
cart. The late afternoon light hits the
high walls of its alleys in warming hues
of yellow and orange. It still feels, at
times, that everyone wants to sell you
Around dusk, the Jemaa el Fna, the
medina’s main square, still goes through
the same transformation: Juice vendors
and the occasional snake charmer are
replaced by food stalls and circles of musicians.
Some things, though, have changed.
Those donkey carts now share space
with cheap scooters, which spin around
corners spewing growls and plumes of
exhaust. (My Moroccan translator and
travel companion, Abdellah Aboulhamid, told me that owing to the spike in
accidents, a wing of the city hospital had
adopted a nickname: C90, the scooter’s
model name.) In 1998, taking a photo of
one of those musical performances in
the square meant interrupting it while
one of the musicians demanded payment. Today, payment is demanded for
cellphone videos.
Perhaps the most transformative
change: Twenty years ago, I struggled
to connect, using my barely conversational French; now almost anyone under the age of 35 or 40 speaks English
(and, often, not French).
The biggest changes, though, had less
to do with the place than how I was traveling. In 1998, my time in Marrakesh
was part of a six-month solo trip, a
month of that in Morocco. What I later
realized was that it could not be duplicated: A trip that came at just the right
moment in my life, when I was unattached, but old enough to know what I
wanted — and needed — out of travel.
I replaced my $10-a-night room at a
hotel that no longer exists with the
cheapest room I could find (140 euros a
night, or about $162) at the lovely Riad
Mena. (Riads — the term refers to a traditional home built around a courtyard,
but is now used for bed-and-breakfasts
that are often filled with flora, fountains
and hammams, and generally owned by
expats — are now everywhere.)
Above, a market in Marrakesh’s ancient medina, a labyrinthine place where visitors routinely get lost. Below, a curving alley in the medina.
Véronique Rischard, a French artist.
Scents of rosewater and orange blossom
filled the space.
Over tea and Moroccan pastries, I
asked Mr. Ait Ben Abdallah, 56, who
owns six riads around the medina (and
another in Fez; he rents the Dar Cherifa
space), if he was the exception or the
rule as a native riad owner. The exception, he said, estimating that 90 to 95
percent are owned by foreigners. But
that didn’t exactly bother him.
“Thirty years ago, Moroccans didn’t
want to live in the medina,” he said in
French, as Abdellah translated. The foreigners, he said, were helping support
an infrastructure — and moreover, the
very existence of the medina, where
centuries-old properties were being destroyed. “I would sell riads to the devil if
it helped me get Moroccans to open their
eyes to how the medina is being destroyed.”
Mr. Ait Ben Abdallah was born outside the city and moved to his aunt’s
house in the medina at age 7. As a successful entrepreneur, he now wanted to
give back, not just by renovating riads,
but by educating children in his hometown, where he runs cultural events that
provide arts education. He employs
about 120 people at his properties.
“Working in heritage is important,” he
said, smiling broadly, “but creating jobs
really matters more.”
not a multinational star like the chef
Meryem Cherkaoui. Ms. Cherkaoui, a
stylish woman of 41 with dark, shortcropped hair, grew up in Salé, near the
capital of Rabat. She now lives and
works in Casablanca, but consults with
restaurants around the country, including Marrakesh, and overseas. She has
appeared on the French version of “Top
Chef” and sells a line of culinary products, which emphasize Moroccan ingredients.
We dined on the rooftop of Le
Foundouk, a three-story restaurant in
the medina for which she consults (the
owner, Frédéric Velissariou, is French;
the chef, Mohamed Amine El Amrani, is
Moroccan). As we sampled her dishes,
including a fanciful couscous with lobster and edible flowers, she explained
her approach: “Moroccan ingredients,
French technique.”
On my first visit to Morocco, I was unimpressed by the food, which, thanks to
my budget and lack of experimental vigor, was limited mostly to couscous and
tagine. This time, I sought to remedy
that. For breakfast, I ate harira, a spiced
vegetable soup, and fried eggs (and, as
with every meal, mint tea). For dinner,
bastillas, savory-and-sweet pies of flaky
dough, generally made with chicken or
pigeon; and, most memorably, tangia, a
Marrakeshi specialty like a tagine, but
cooked in a different sort of pot (think
urn rather than circus tent), and more
brothy, flavored with ras el hanout and
preserved lemon. My favorite version,
served at one of two outposts of Zeitoun
Café, where I dined with Ms. Cherkaoui,
was made with chameau — camel. (The
flavor and texture is somewhere between lamb and beef.)
Top, the chef Meryem Cherkaoui, who consults at restaurants in Marrakesh, at Zeitoun
Café. Above, Said Bourrich mixing a cocktail at Le Baromètre, a speakeasy-style bar.
But I could never get Marrakesh and
Morocco out of my head. Soon after my
trip, I started working at The New York
Times and, years later, as an editor in
the Travel section. This time, I could return as a journalist.
Since my first trip, Marrakesh has become Morocco’s premier tourist city. For
decades it has attracted travelers,
though at a much smaller scale.
But unlike cosmopolitan Casablanca,
or Tangier, which has the chaotic transience of a border town, Marrakesh has
stayed both exciting and accessible for
Western travelers.
In recent years, the Moroccan government has poured money into modernizing its infrastructure. It has also attracted hundreds of expatriates —
French, English, Spanish, German,
American — many of whom have invested in riads or restaurants. Travel
media has embraced this trend: Almost
every article I read before my return
trip revolved around expats.
Twenty years ago, I spent most of my
time with nonnative travelers: a couple
of strong-willed Italian women whom I
met haggling in the medina; two Japanese women whom we joined up with for
a trek into the Sahara; Spanish students
on a budget even tighter than mine.
This time around, I desperately
wanted to connect with native Moroccans who were doing interesting, creative things. I discovered a vibrant cultural scene, one filled with men and
women who care deeply about celebrating their city and country — but who are
fighting an uphill battle against a lack of
support from the Moroccan government
and that influx of expats.
is the neighborhood of Guéliz, which was designed by
the French during their occupation. It is
strikingly cosmopolitan, peppered with
shops from global brands like Zara and
H & M. On one block of Rue Moulay Ali,
you’ll find a giant B made from scrap
metal — and, behind it, a bouncer. Down
a small flight of stairs is Le Baromètre,
Morocco’s first and only speakeasystyle craft cocktail bar.
Baromètre is the brainchild of two
Marrakeshi, Hamza and Soufiane
Hadni, brothers who opened the bar and
restaurant in 2016. Soufiane, 34, is tall,
with a ponytail and a poker-faced expression. Hamza, 29, is shorter and a
smooth talker.
Before opening Baromètre, neither
had any experience at bars. “We had
this dream of doing something together,” Hamza said, as Abdellah and I surveyed the bar, which was stocked with
syrups, infusions and garnishes. The
dream had been accomplished: The
place is popular with both locals and
Both the menu and glassware (each
glass paired to a specific cocktail) were
elaborate almost to the point of absurdity. I chose the Churchill, a mixture of Cognac, whiskey, thyme honey, orange,
cinnamon and date-nut smoke, the last
of which was created by torching the
nuts, then lowering a glass to contain
the smoke.
A COUPLE OF DAYS LATER, I was, again, lost
in the medina. That much had not
changed. The first three nights of my
visit, I had lost my way getting back to
my riad — despite the impressive cover-
NOVEMBER 12–13, 2018
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house-of-mirrors standards
of the medina, Dar Cherifa, a riad run by
Abdellatif Ait Ben Abdallah, had been
difficult to find. Abdellah, my translator,
and I had gone down a side alley and
then through another riad to find it. The
space dates to the 16th century; Mr. Ait
Ben Abdallah and his team renovated it
in 2000.
At ground level, tables were scattered
amid Berber rugs and a small pool covered in rose petals, and, on the walls,
paneled, Japanese-style paintings by
age of the medina by Google Maps. This
time, I was seeking Le 18, an art space
and cooperative deep in the medina. I
passed a large “18” painted above a
small door in an alley before a teenager
told me, yes, that was the place.
I ducked into a courtyard that was
whitewashed and pleasantly spartan,
and was greeted by Laila Hida, 34, who
founded the space in 2013. We sat down
at a wooden table in the middle of the
courtyard; pieces of art of various sorts
— photographic, multimedia, sculptural
— were scattered on the walls.
Le 18 had begun as a way to connect
young artistic Marrakeshi. “Little by little the community got bigger,” Ms. Hida
said. “Without choosing to become a cultural space, that’s what we became.”
Within the first year, Le 18 hosted about
20 events — and now presents exhibitions, talks, performances and screenings. It has also just put out its first magazine, Chergui (named after a warm
wind from the Sahara) — “without anything, without money” from the government, she added.
Le 18, Mr. Hida said, is filling a void.
“There was a great need for a cultural
scene that was alive.” But there were
challenges. If there was one reality echoed by all the Marrakeshi I spent time
with, it was that they were more or less
on their own. Far more than it was 20
years ago, Marrakesh is now an international city, one essentially designated by
the government as the tourist destination of Morocco. But few of these locals
had gotten any help from that same government.
She understands, to a degree, why the
arts aren’t more in the forefront in modern Morocco, still a country grappling
with poverty; a 2017 study by Global Finance magazine ranked it the 75th poorest in the world out of 189. “People think
that culture is superfluous,” she said.
“That there are more urgent matters.”
Indeed, though there are still major
cultural events and venues in the city,
this year’s version of one of the biggest,
the Marrakesh Biennale, was canceled
because of a lack of funding.
After my meeting with Ms. Hida, I
headed back to the Jemaa el Fna for a
final dinner. I watched as its daily transformation began: juice vendors making
way for people selling snail soup and
sheep’s head. The sun went down, and
the square swarmed with activity. It all
felt surprisingly familiar.
Apply to attend
Supporting Organizations
For sponsorship opportunities, contact
Brenda Hagerty,
16 | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2018
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