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  • Ex-California policeman arrested in 'Golden State' serial killer case April 26, 2018
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - An elderly former policeman has been arrested and charged with eight murders attributed to the Golden State Killer, a serial criminal responsible for dozens of rapes and slayings that terrorized parts of California during the 1970s and 1980s, authorities said on Wednesday.
  • Suspect charged with capital murder for shooting Dallas officer April 25, 2018
    (Reuters) - One of the two Dallas police officers shot outside a Home Depot store died on Wednesday and the man suspected of the crime was being held on a capital murder charge, which can bring the death penalty, officials said.
  • Liberals on top U.S. court ask if Trump travel waivers just 'window dressing' April 26, 2018
    NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Liberal U.S. Supreme Court justices sought assurances on Wednesday that the Trump administration's policy for granting medical or other exceptions to a ban on travelers from several Muslim-majority countries amounted to more than window dressing.
  • Supreme Court appears ready to uphold Trump's travel ban April 26, 2018
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court's conservative majority appeared poised to hand President Donald Trump a huge legal victory, signaling on Wednesday it was likely to uphold his contentious travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries.
  • Migrant 'caravan' at U.S.-Mexico border prepares for mass crossing April 26, 2018
    TIJUANA, Mexico (Reuters) - Hundreds of Central American migrants from a caravan that crossed Mexico reunited in Tijuana on Wednesday and planned to cross the border together this weekend in defiance of threats by U.S. President Donald Trump to repel them.
  • Trump lawyer Cohen will invoke 5th Amendment rights in Stormy Daniels case April 26, 2018
    (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen said on Wednesday he would assert his right under the U.S. Constitution to avoid self-incrimination in a lawsuit filed by adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who says she had an affair with Trump.
  • New York Times' Weinstein investigation to be developed as film April 26, 2018
    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A behind-the-scenes dramatization on how the New York Times broke the story that accused powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of a pattern of sexual misconduct will be developed as a feature film, one of its backers said on Wednesday.
  • Ex-Minnesota policeman to argue self-defense in Australian woman's shooting death-newspaper April 26, 2018
    (Reuters) - A former Minnesota police officer charged with murdering an unarmed Australian woman in July will argue that he acted in self-defense when he fired the fatal shot from his police car, a newspaper report on Wednesday said.
  • Flowers and grits as Waffle House reopens after Nashville killings April 25, 2018
    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Reuters) - The Waffle House restaurant in Nashville where a gunman killed four people reopened on Wednesday for the first time since the weekend attack, filling up with customers ordering breakfasts as a makeshift memorial of flowers piled up outside.
  • Texas executes man convicted of killing two at birthday party April 26, 2018
    AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas on Wednesday executed a man convicted of opening fire at a children's birthday party in 2008, believing a rival gang member was present and fatally shooting a woman and her 5-year-old granddaughter in a spray of bullets.

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  • Ex-cop arrested in sadistic crime spree from '70s and '80s
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- A man once sworn to protect the public from crime was accused Wednesday of living a double life terrorizing suburban neighborhoods at night, becoming one of California's most feared serial killers and rapists in the 1970s and '80s before leaving a cold trail that baffled investigators for more than three decades.. […]
  • More allegations emerge on VA pick as nomination falters
    WASHINGTON (AP) -- White House doctor Ronny Jackson exhibited a pattern of recklessly prescribing drugs and drunken behavior, including crashing a government vehicle while intoxicated and doling out such a large supply of a prescription opioid that staffers panicked because they thought the drugs were missing, according to accusations compiled by Democratic […]
  • 10 Things to Know for Thursday
    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday:...
  • Kim Jong Un will walk across border for summit with Moon
    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Seoul says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon-Jae-in will plant a tree together and inspect an honor guard after Kim walks across the border for the leaders' historic summit....
  • Rival Koreas' leaders face high stakes at historic summit
    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- It may lack the punch of President Donald Trump's vow to unleash "fire and fury" and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's "nuclear button" boasts, but the stakes will be high on Friday when Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in sit down on the southern side of the no man's land that […]
  • No verdict from Cosby jury; defense lawyers slammed
    NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) -- The jury in Bill Cosby's sexual assault case ended a marathon first day of deliberations without reaching a verdict Wednesday as his lawyers came under heavy criticism for what some called a blatant attempt to "victim-shame" the parade of women who have leveled accusations against the 80-year-old comedian....
  • Central American asylum seeking caravan reaches US border
    TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) -- About 130 Central Americans, mostly women and children, have arrived at the U.S. border with Mexico in a "caravan" of asylum-seeking immigrants that has drawn the fury of President Donald Trump....
  • Trump lawyer says he'll plead the Fifth in porn actress case
    LOS ANGELES (AP) -- President Donald Trump's personal attorney said Wednesday he will assert his constitutional right against self-incrimination in a civil case brought by a porn actress who said she had an affair with Trump....
  • Toronto van attack throws spotlight on anti-woman vitriol
    TORONTO (AP) -- The deadly van rampage in Toronto is training attention on an online world of sexual loneliness, rage and misogyny after the suspect invoked an uprising by "involuntary celibates" and gave a shoutout to a California killer who seethed at women for rejecting him....
  • Tears flow as victims of Waffle House shooting remembered
    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Employees at a Waffle House where four people were killed in a weekend shooting rampage wore orange ribbons, hugged each other and wept as the restaurant re-opened. And a steady stream of customers came in to the Nashville restaurant Wednesday to show support....

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The Grand Tour

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The New York Review of Books©

  • Polymorphous Eden
    Grant Wood became famous pretty much overnight in October 1930, when American Gothic was included (a last-minute choice after being initially rejected) in the annual exhibition of the Art Institute of Chicago. The Chicago Evening Post slapped a photo of it on the front page of its art section under the headline: “American Normalcy Displayed in Annual Show; Iowa Farm Folks Hit Highest Spot”; the image was picked up by newspapers across the country, all quick to underscore the painting’s corn belt authenticity. Wood—whose most notable previous achievements had been successive first prizes in art at the Iowa State Fair—found himself at thirty-nine not only a celebrity but the embodiment of a movement, or at least the journalistic notion of a movement, steeped in patriotic overtones. Few artists have been worse served by their defenders.
  • Why Trump Is Winning and the Press Is Losing
    There is alive in the land an organized campaign to discredit the American press. This campaign is succeeding. Its roots are long. Nixon seethed about the press in private. Trump seethes in public, a very different act. I think our top journalists are correct that if they become the political opposition to Trump, they will lose. And yet, they have to go to war against a political style in which power gets to write its own story. There is a risk that they will fail to make this distinction.
  • President Macron’s Trouble at Home
    Covering the campaign for the news site Mediapart, I asked Emmanuel Macron one winter morning in Paris in early 2017 how a former investment banker supported by wealthy entrepreneurs could connect with the working and middle classes, how he could escape Marine Le Pen’s characterization of him as a privileged “globalist.” Calling me “dear friend,” with evident irony, Macron denied being an “oligarch,” and accused me of “disseminating National Front arguments.” But he never really answered the question.
  • Britain’s Debt to the Windrush Generation
    Some seventy years after the first arrivals of immigrants from Jamaica, the “Windrush generation” has returned to the center of attention in Britain—not this time in a spirit of optimism and hope but of hurt and anger. The Caribbean-born children of those who came to England in the 1950s and 1960s are now threatened with dispossession, even deportation. Despite their having lived in the UK for decades, working and paying taxes, many of these black Britons lack the paperwork to prove their immigration status—thanks to a very British bureaucratic anomaly. As a result, many have lost jobs, as well as access to benefits and healthcare; some face losing their residency rights.
  • 1968: Power to the Imagination
    The feeling we had in those days, which has shaped my entire life, really, was: we’re making history. An exalted feeling—suddenly we had become agents in world history. Not an easy thing to process when you’re only twenty-three years old.
  • A Call to Defend Rojava
    By accepting Turkey’s attack on Afrin, the US has become complicit in President Erdoğan’s explicit ethnic cleansing plan to expel the Kurds from a part of Syria where they have lived for centuries, and to eradicate the democratic experiment developing in Rojava. Encouraged by the lack of response from the US, Erdoğan is threatening to take his military campaign deeper into Syria. It is clear that this is already benefiting ISIS. To stop this madness, Turkey must be isolated economically, diplomatically, and militarily until it withdraws its troops and proxy militias from Kurdish Syria.
  • The Supreme Court’s First Great Trump Test: the Muslim Ban
    The Supreme Court has sometimes deferred to the political branches on matters of immigration and national security policy, but never on religious bias. And the constitutional case against the travel ban is overwhelmingly strong. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment not only prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion,” it also forbids the government from singling out for disfavor any particular religion. Yet that is precisely what Trump’s travel ban does. 
  • Notes from the Inside
    Rachel Kushner’s novels are the product of enormous research, but she rarely shows her work; history and creation knot together like threads in a tapestry. Her voice is always authoritative, direct, and knowledgeable, so that even the fictions she creates have the certainty of fact. This talent for verisimilitude shapes The Mars Room. Kushner has described how she worked on the novel by spending time in prisons meeting inmates and “covertly” following criminology students as they toured the facilities. The amount of detail she presents here, some amassed and some imagined, is astonishing.
  • Ralph Gibson’s Stream of Consciousness
    The Black Trilogy, a recent reissue of Ralph Gibson’s early self-published books, brings together three of his books into one volume. Gibson is credited with reimagining the modern photo book, transforming it from its more illustrative, thematic approach to a deeply personal, artistic form where the sequence is based on free association rather than chronology or narrative. By making available books that had, over the years, become hard to find, the trilogy offers an occasion to reexamine Gibson’s singular itinerary.
  • The FBI’s ‘Vulgar Betrayal’ of Muslim Americans
    What does it mean to raise a family or to grow up under constant surveillance? How does it affect a person’s quality of life? What does it do to the potential of an individual, a family, a neighborhood, and a society? Assia Boundaoui, who grew up in a predominantly Muslim community in Chicago, is now a journalist, and examines the effect of living under constant surveillance in her first documentary, The Feeling of Being Watched, which premiers today at the Tribeca Film Festival.
  • Counting the Butterflies
    Language has many forms of quiet kindness, refusals of stark alternatives. “Never” can mean “not always,” and “impossible” may mean “not now.” Insomnia may mean a shortage of sleep rather than its entire absence, and when Gennady Barabtarlo writes that “Nabokov typically remembered having his dreams at dawn, right before awakening after a sleepless night,” or indeed calls his own book Insomniac Dreams, we are looking not so much at a paradox as a touch of logical leeway. There is no need to go “beyond logic,” as Nabokov says one of the characters does in his story “The Vane Sisters,” but we do often need to bend it a little, ask it to relax.
  • Trump’s Inquisitor
    Jeff Sessions has dramatically transformed the Justice Department, effectively causing it to renege on its historic mission of defending civil rights. He has fiercely defended the administration’s most unconstitutional initiatives, including a blatantly anti-Muslim immigration ban and a policy of denying teenage immigrants in federal custody access to abortion. He has reversed his own long-standing support for state’s rights to attack cities and states that have chosen, as is their constitutional prerogative under the Tenth Amendment, to leave enforcement of federal immigration law to federal officials. He is poised to overrule an immigration court decision that victims of domestic abuse and gang violence may obtain asylum here, an action that could turn away thousands of abuse victims each year. And he has overseen the appointment of a large number of deeply conservative—and overwhelmingly white and male—federal judges.
  • Becoming the Brown Girl in the Ring
    I grew up with the sense that true-home was always elsewhere. I was born in the United Kingdom to Jamaican immigrants; our family returned to Jamaica when I was six; and I immigrated to the US after high school. My parents told stories of Jamaica—a place where life was tough, but often, or so it seemed to me, speckled with marvels and otherworldliness. Somewhere between their stories was the unspoken sense that they had left behind something noteworthy and important—and, to my ears, fabulist.
  • The Key to Everything
    Geoffrey West spent most of his life as a research scientist and administrator at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, running programs concerned not with nuclear weapons but with peaceful physics. After retiring from Los Alamos, he became director of the nearby Santa Fe Institute, where he switched from physics to a broader interdisciplinary program known as complexity science. The Santa Fe Institute is leading the world in complexity science, with a mixed group of physicists, biologists, economists, political scientists, computer experts, and mathematicians working together. Their aim is to reach a deep understanding of the complexities of the natural environment and of human society, using the methods of science.
  • Pictures of the Jazz Age
    Berenice Abbott had starved in New York and was starving in Paris when Man Ray hired her for his darkroom. It was Abbott’s idea. He had complained about his latest “know-it-all” studio assistant, and Abbott jumped in: “What about me? I don’t know a thing.” Her rapid learning surprised them both. “I liked photography. Photography liked me,” she recalled. Eventually Ray suggested that she take some portraits with his camera during lunch and after work. Starting with her friends, a glittering roster of Jazz Age Paris sat for Abbott, including Sylvia Beach, Jean Cocteau, Djuna Barnes and her lover Thelma Wood (Abbott’s ex), André Gide, Buddy Gilmore, Max Ernst, Marie Laurencin, and Janet Flanner.
  • Jaw-Jaw Better Than War-War
    After six years in which he never traveled outside his country, never met with a foreign head of state, and maintained relations ranging from frosty to terrible with South Korea, China, and the United States, Kim Jong-un opened up to all three of those countries over three stunning weeks in March. He established a direct line of communication with the South for the first time in eleven years, scheduled an April meeting with South Korean president Moon Jae-in, invited President Trump to a summit meeting currently planned for May, and then traveled secretly to China for meetings with Chinese president Xi Jinping.
  • 1968: When the Communist Party Stopped a French Revolution
    Once it lost the Communist Party (PCF) as the mediating force to represent its grievances, the French working class fulfilled Herbert Marcuse’s 1972 warning that “The immediate expression of the opinion and will of the workers, farmers, neighbors—in brief, the people—is not, per se, progressive and a force of social change: it may be the opposite.” The PCF understood this latent conservatism in the working class of 1968. Not so the New Left student movement. In the end, it had only ouvriérisme sans ouvriers.
  • Aiming for a Nuke-Free Korea: Bold Diplomacy or Dangerous Delusion?
    How the wildly unpredictable Trump administration might handle a proposal to fundamentally alter the geopolitics of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia after sixty-five years is impossible to fathom—especially if it is one that calls for the expulsion of 23,000 American troops to assuage the leader of history’s only Communist dynasty. What seems very likely is that Trump’s particular American brand of conservatism, now bolstered by the appointment of hard-liners—Mike Pompeo as secretary of state and John Bolton as national security adviser—will collide with the liberal ideology of Moon Jae-in and his Korean allies.
  • The Revolution That Wasn’t
    Four years after the flight from Kiev of Petro Poroshenko’s predecessor, Viktor Yanukovych, who was forced out by months of protests that paralyzed the capital, many Ukrainians are disillusioned with their leaders and the political class in general, demoralized by the weak economy, worried about the frozen conflict in eastern Ukraine, and frustrated by the president’s failure to address the systemic corruption that permeates all aspects of life.
  • Shinzo Abe, Pursued by Scandal
    How Shinzo Abe performs in his meeting with President Trump matters more than usual, for at home, he is under unprecedented pressure. A pair of scandals that have tarnished his administration refuse to die, and few consider it mere mischance or coincidence that these imbroglios have emerged under Abe’s watch. As one member of the main opposition party put it to me, “Japanese citizens are starting to suspect that the prime minister is the source of the disease that is discharging this pus.”
  • My Kurdish Oppressor
    For a time, Iraq’s northern region, Kurdistan, tried to disassociate itself from the rest of the country and represent itself as a new country, promoting itself as “The Other Iraq.” Kurdistan politicians spent tens of millions of dollars on lobbying to project an image of their region as a place of peaceful coexistence and democracy. But the face of Kurdish oppression has changed; it’s closer to home, more familiar. Today, the Kurds’ oppressors are themselves Kurdish and that new “Other Iraq” is more and more coming to resemble the old Iraq of Saddam Hussein, a one-party totalitarian state ruled by terror.
  • Steve DiBenedetto: A Denatured Humanism
    On the evening that I first walked out of Steve DiBenedetto’s new exhibition of paintings, “Toasted with Everything,” I looked up at the navy sky, down the asphalt street, and felt dizzy with euphoria. DiBenedetto encodes his works with ideas about paint as if to answer the question, What should a painting look like, in all its confusing, diffuse, and oddball glory, in order to make us feel that we’re human and engaged?
  • The Crazed Euphoria of Lucrecia Martel’s ‘Zama’
    In Antonio Di Benedetto’s novel Zama, there is no shortage of brutality. Not so in Lucrecia Martel's film adaptation. She is kinder to her protagonist than the man who originally devised him—and for a reason: her Zama portrays a society so violent in its essence that there isn’t much Zama’s body or sword can do to make matters worse. This redirection of attention from individual acts of violence toward the structural violence of colonialism itself isn’t a departure but an acute reading of the novel.
  • ‘Drawing Is Always a Struggle’: An Interview with Art Spiegelman
    Claudia Dreifus: Did creating Maus help you come to terms with the difficulties of growing up as the child of Holocaust survivors? Art Spiegelman: When Maus was first published, in 1986, my answer was, “I’ve had therapy, and I’ve made comics. The comics are cheaper.” That said, I kept ducking in and out of depression. At one point, my therapist told me, “But you weren’t in Auschwitz. You were in Rego Park.” With that, he was saying, “deal with your own reality, not your father’s.” I tried to incorporate that into the book. So, to answer your question: working on the book helped with both.
  • Black Pictures
    Gustave Flaubert’s next best seller after Madame Bovary was Salammbô, a historical novel about a revolt of mercenaries in third-century-BC Carthage. The black novelist Charles Chesnutt saw the Italian film director Domenico Gaido’s adaptation, Salambo, in a Cleveland movie theater in 1915. Chesnutt remembered that when Spendius, the mercenary general’s black lieutenant, came on the screen, a white woman sitting next to him remarked, “Well, look at the coon! He’s a spy and a traitor, no doubt.” The medium of film was still rather new, but the attitudes projected through it were the familiar, vicious ones that Chesnutt, born a free black in North Carolina in 1858, had made it his life’s work to write against.
  • Reining in Big Data’s Robber Barons
    When Mark Zuckerberg talks about connecting people, as he often does, he leaves two words unsaid: “to Facebook.” For all his talk of community and connectedness, Facebook doesn’t seek to breed social connection and genuine friendship. Facebook makes its money from advertising, so what it wants  is for you to keep browsing, scrolling, and clicking on Facebook—and surrender the minutiae of your life to its databases and its algorithms. To achieve this, it has to position itself as the hub of your social life, the mediator of your reality.
  • How Turkey’s Campaign in Afrin Is Stoking Syrian Hatreds
    On March 18, Turkey completed its conquest of Afrin, formerly a majority Kurdish city. Photos of the events soon flooded social media. Though far from the worst violations of the war, the scenes were emblematically dismal. Fighters from the Syrian National Army, now Turkey’s proxy militia, fired their rifles into the air at Afrin’s main roundabout, snapping selfies with their free hands. If a government had wanted to stoke new hatred between Kurds and Arabs, it couldn’t have staged a better show.
  • Israel and Annexation by Lawfare
    Israel’s goal is clear: a single state containing two peoples, only one of which has citizenship and civil rights. What the government is embarking on amounts to both de jure annexation and the crime of apartheid. Its lawyers are busy giving their counsel, drafting laws, and defending Israel’s efforts to expand the jurisdiction of its law and administration beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines to serve the interests of Jewish settlers at the expense of the occupied Palestinians, whose civil rights are suspended. Annexation is underway, but out of the spotlight, away from international attention.
  • Stray Dog
    Most people can come up with a decent photograph once in a while, which will look like millions of other photographs. Only the greatest photographers can be easily identified by a unique personal style. Moriyama Daidō is one of them.
  • Physical Graffiti on the Border
    What’s clear is that the “big beautiful wall” promised by Donald Trump during the 2016 election campaign is already a thing of the past, a technology superseded by electronic surveillance barriers like the ones Homeland Security has been building in Arizona for several years. Whether or not Trump’s prototypes merit the Swiss-Icelandic artist Christoph Büchel’s designation of them as “conceptual art,” they should stand as material testaments to outdated, empty rhetoric.
  • The Reflected Glory of Victorian Art
    Why do mirrors appear so often in Victorian paintings? “Reflections: Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites” suggests an answer. Often, the artists ask us to see the image they are “reflecting on”—whether it be from a poem or from domestic life, like the father with his arms outstretched in Ford Madox Brown’s Take your Son, Sir! (1851–1857), left brutally unfinished when his small son died. And, of course, as we stand before the pictures, a real rather than painted mirror would reflect ourselves, the viewers, the audience. Bending back the painted light, the mirror reminds us of our presence as witnesses.
  • A Haunting Tribute to Tadeusz Kantor
    The Wooster Group’s A Pink Chair (in Place of a Fake Antique) suggests what it might have been like to watch a ghost materialize on stage, called up by an early-twentieth-century medium. The ghostly presence summoned here is that of Tadeusz Kantor (1915–1990), the celebrated director and performance artist who profoundly affected modern theater, both in his native Poland and the wider world. Kantor’s history haunts A Pink Chair, which extracts the high points from his play, together with selections from his writings, read aloud.
  • Forgotten Feminisms: An Appeal Against ‘Domestic Despotism’
    In 1825, William Thompson, a socialist economist, and Anna Doyle Wheeler, a writer and speaker on women’s rights, published a book-length tract with a title that is so strongly worded—Appeal of One Half the Human Race, Women, Against the Pretension of the Other Half, Men, to Retain Them in Political, and thence in Civil and Domestic, Slavery—that the modern reader may feel the need to flip back and check the publication date. And yet, hardly anyone reads the Appeal anymore. How could that be?
  • The Smartphone War
    Every few seconds my iPhone lights up with new posts on a WhatsApp group linking doctors in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta to journalists in the outside world. News of Russian and Syrian government bombardment comes more or less in real time: “Before three hours in Ghouta, Russian plane tracked ambulances and hit both ambulances and hospitals.” “Dr Hamza: I have treated twenty-nine cases so far, the majority are children.” Visuals are captioned in Arabic and English: “Photos of shelters that local residents dug under their homes.” The journalists, who include correspondents from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other international newspapers, use the group to clarify the numbers of casualties and check locations of attacks, while broadcast media request Skype interviews from inside the war zone.
  • Wilder and Wilder
    Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books remain for many a formative literary experience of our childhoods: we retain, as if they were our own memories, vivid fragments of little Laura’s adventures with her older sister Mary, her younger sisters Carrie and Grace, and their parents Caroline and Charles, the former calmly capable, the latter bringing joy with his fiddle and songs. Part of the books’ appeal lies in Laura’s perspective: the plainer, naughtier sister, with a temper and selfish impulses—a child with whom any reader can identify. Then, too, Wilder records her experiences with attractive Chekhovian simplicity, patiently explaining the material details of pioneers’ daily lives, including how Pa oiled bear traps, how the women prepared for a dance, how to build a log cabin and make a latched door with no nails, hinges, or lock, and how to protect the house from a prairie fire.
  • If Trump Blows Up the Deal, Iran Gets the Bomb
    The IAEA has certified that—some minor violations aside—the Iranians have implemented the agreement. What happens if there is no agreement? The IAEA inspectors would leave the country and the program would restart at full bore. Most experts estimate that it would be a matter of months before the Iranians built their first bomb. The notion that President Trump has of somehow getting a “better deal” is delusional. There is no better deal. The Iranians have everything they need to make nuclear weapons—including uranium. The JCPOA is our best, and perhaps our only, chance of preventing Iran from getting the bomb.
  • 1968: Enoch, Bageye, and Me
    My father felt that the British, with their faux politeness—polite to the point of rudeness—were hypocrites. “Give the American what him due,” Bageye would say approvingly, “not like the Englishman, he will tell you to your face how much he hate you.” But then, on April 20, 1968, just before my seventh birthday, a stern politician from the upper echelons of British society named Enoch Powell delivered with extraordinary intensity an anti-immigration speech that shocked the nation by articulating what the black population had suspected all along: we were feared and despised.
  • The Man Who Wanted Everything
    The first issue of Rolling Stone to bop me between the eyes at the newsstand bore a black border on the cover. It framed an obituary portrait of the guitarist Jimi Hendrix, the quantum mechanic of psychedelic rock, who had died of an overdose of barbiturates or sleeping pills at the age of twenty-seven, an early extinguishing more befitting a Romantic poet. The next issue of Rolling Stone also carried a black border, this one memorializing the blues rocker Janis Joplin, the queen of husky catarrh, whose death mirrored Hendrix’s: overdose at age twenty-seven. It was 1970, and a scant three years after the Summer of Love the counterculture was filling the coffins.
  • ‘Magic, Illusions, and Zombies’: An Exchange
    Daniel Dennett: We say that there isn’t any conscious experience in the sense that Strawson insists upon. We say consciousness seems to involve being “directly acquainted,” as Strawson puts it, with some fundamental properties, but this is an illusion, a philosopher’s illusion. Galen Strawson: According to Dennett, we’re not conscious at all, in the ordinary sense of the word: “We’re all zombies.” He can say this because the zombie is conscious in his terms: it has all the “informational/functional” properties of a human being; it is behaviorally indistinguishable from a human being.
  • The Question of Hamlet
    It’s a truism that no one accepts anyone else’s reading of Hamlet. And for at least two hundred years, no generation has been comfortable with its predecessor’s take on the play. It’s hard to think of another work whose interpretations so uncannily identify what the play calls the “form and pressure” of “the time.” Critics and actors usually register cultural shifts a bit belatedly; but on occasion the most astute seem to anticipate them.
  • Death’s Best Friend
    Elisabeth Kübler-Ross later applied the same five stages she identified in the process of dying—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—to the process of grieving. As with dying, she never meant to imply that grief was contained to just five feelings, or that the stages were linear, like levels in a Nintendo game. “They were never meant to tuck messy emotions into neat packages.... Our grief is as individual as our lives,” she wrote in On Grief and Grieving. Kübler-Ross found it laughable how some doctors had the gall to hold an essential organ in their hand but had no capacity for ambiguity.
  • On the Gallery Walls: Black Power Art in Arkansas
    How would “Soul of a Nation”—an exhibition of Black Power art made in the 1960s to 1980s—look at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, situated in one of the whiter areas of Arkansas? In a state where 17 percent of the overall population and a third of the African-American population lives in poverty, there could hardly be a more glaring contrast to the values and material objectives of civil rights and Black Power.
  • ‘Being Charlie’
    The summer of 1998, Philip Roth began his novel The Human Stain, “was the summer when a president’s penis was on everyone’s mind”; 1998 was also the year when Pfizer signed up Bob Dole, who had run for president against Bill Clinton two years earlier, to promote its new drug, Viagra. The barriers to talking explicitly and publicly about sex had been falling for several years. In the early 1990s, the rap group 2 Live Crew had been acquitted of obscenity charges for performing their album As Nasty as They Wanna Be. The Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati and its director won a similar victory when they were tried for exhibiting photographs from Robert Mapplethorpe’s X Portfolio. By 1999, over two thirds of evening TV shows contained sexual content, an increase of 12 percent over the previous year. If sex had a defining feature in the 1990s, it was ubiquity.
  • Dancing With the Prophets
    Happy Easter and Passover, from all of us at the Review.
  • In the Review Archives: 1969–1971
    "In 1969, the Year of the Pig, participants in what is known as (descriptively) youth culture or (smugly) hip culture or (incompletely) pop culture or (longingly) the cultural revolution are going through big changes,” Ellen Willis begins, writing at the end of that year on Dennis Hopper’s film Easy Rider and Arthur Penn’s Alice’s Restaurant. Willis identifies “a pervasive feeling that everything is disintegrating, including the counter-culture itself.” Her essay is at once a contemporary report on the state of American culture and a retrospective look at the Sixties, grappling with what she calls “the overpowering sense of loss, the anguish of What went wrong? We blew it—how?”
  • Leon Golub’s Men Behaving Cruelly
    “Raw Nerve,” which spans seven decades and comprises mostly lesser-known paintings, drawings, and lithographs, shows the Leon Golub's affinity for antiquity, juxtaposing his tableaux of soldiers, mercenaries, and other powerful men with the traditions of ancient Roman and Greek art, as well as other classical genres. Although their scale references early history paintings, which typically sought to heroize characters from a specific past, Golub’s works repeatedly portray men enacting violence in settings mostly stripped of period detail, as if to suggest that history itself can be reduced to men behaving cruelly.  
  • A History of Denial
    All too many publications about the history of Europe’s relationship with Africa fail to sufficiently convey the damage that was done to the African economy, peoples, and political development by the slave trade and European colonialism. Perhaps the most striking recent example of this is Empires in the Sun: The Struggle for the Mastery of Africa, by Lawrence James, an English author who has written extensively on the British Empire. James does not practice outright denialism about European behavior in Africa. But at almost every significant turn in his account, which spans the five centuries from early modern European contacts with the continent to its decolonization beginning in the 1950s, he tends to downplay its ill effects on Africa and wonders aloud why, as he sees it, non-Europeans don’t get held up for comparable scrutiny.
  • Germany: With Centrists Like These…
    Pundits often marvel at how quickly Germany's far-right AfD has acquired power. But if the party has gained prominence, in some polls even surpassing the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), it is because the anti-immigrant sentiment it represents has, in fact, been present as an undercurrent in German politics for years. Even if the AfD, constantly beset by internal conflicts and scandal, implodes, he says, “there will be another right-wing populist party” to take its place.
  • A Mighty Wind
    Hawa, a Hindi word for wind or air, carries a subtler meaning in Indian politics. A politician’s hawa is the tailwind that propels him to victory; it is the superior momentum that comes with being on a roll. For the past five years in the world’s biggest democracy, one man, one party, and one ideological current have pretty much cornered all the hawa. A puffing guardian spirit tangibly energizes Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister; despite his modest stature, the bearded sixty-seven-year-old can fill a room with a swirling air of quiet purpose or, some would say, menace. All across the country hawa can be felt ruffling the ubiquitous orange flags of his Bharatiya Janata, or Indian People’s Party (BJP), and stirring the long-suppressed ambitions of the Sangh Parivar, the “family” of Hindu nationalist groups that is the party’s ideological home.
  • More Equal Than Others
    All men are created equal—but in what sense equal? Obviously not in the sense of being endowed with the same attributes, abilities, wants, or needs: some people are smarter, kinder, and funnier than others; some want to climb mountains while others want to watch TV; and some require physical or emotional support to do things that others can do on their own. And presumably they are not “equal” in the sense of demanding identical treatment: a father can give aspirin to his sick child and not his healthy one without disrespecting the equality of his children. Rather, all humans are said to be equal in what philosophers call the “basic,” “abstract,” “deep,” or “moral” sense of equality. We are all, in some fundamental sense, and despite our various differences, of equal worth, demanding, in Ronald Dworkin’s famous phrase, “equal concern and respect.”
  • The Right Supper
    To the Editors: As Isaac Babel’s Benya Krik says to a grieving mother after his gang has accidentally bumped off her son, “Everyone makes mistakes, even God.” Translators certainly make their share, as do reviewers. I want to point out a couple of mistakes made by Gary Saul Morson in his survey of several recent Babel translations, including my own.
  • Justice Not Done
    To the Editors: Aryeh Neier’s “A Glimmer of Justice” [NYR, March 8] about the International Criminal Court contains a number of errors stemming from a regrettable but unfortunately all too common misunderstanding of the post–cold war history of Africa’s Great Lakes region.
  • Oscar’s Mum
    To the Editors: To some readers, my criticism of a single paragraph in an otherwise interesting, three-page review may seem a quibble. But to me, the typically misogynist and inaccurate description of Oscar Wilde’s mother, (Lady) Jane Francesca Elgee Wilde, as “admirable if slightly preposterous,” screams out for correction.
  • Washburniana
    To the Editors: For a study of the Reverend E.A. Washburn (1819–1881), Episcopalian clergyman and theologian, and rector of Calvary Church in New York City, I would be grateful for any information or documents regarding his career and family life.
  • Do Flashbacks Work in Literature?
    Is there no merit or sense in the flashback as a literary device? Didn’t Joyce use it? And Faulkner? Or David Lodge, for that matter? Or John Updike? Or going back before Austen, Laurence Sterne? In which case, can there really be, as Colm Tóibín appears to suggest, an association between the flashback and “our unhappy age”?
  • Rebuilding Mosul, Book by Book
    Fahad couldn’t stop ISIS burning books and libraries, but he dreamed that once the war ended, he could do something to bring books back to his city. Through them, he dreamed of creating a place where people could discover and share ideas that would change Mosul’s future. Today, that dream has become a reality. Down the road from Mosul University on Majmou’a Street, in a busy East Mosul shopping district, is the Book Forum. Part library, part café, it is a space where people can sit and share coffee and conversation at communal tables, or curl up alone with a book.
  • A New Dawn in Uzbekistan?
    After spending decades as a pariah state, feared or at best ignored by even its near neighbors because of its reputation as one of the most repressive and closed nations in the world, Uzbekistan is slowly emerging from the shadows. Along with other Central Asian countries, Uzbekistan is worried about the expansion of the Taliban and ISIS into Afghanistan—and, under a new president, is for the first time taking the lead on making peace in the region.
  • ‘Così’ in Coney
    There are few operatic works so cheerfully indifferent to morals as Così fan tutte, and it was largely deplored and rarely performed through most of the nineteenth century. Mozart’s librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte, Jewish by birth, became a Catholic priest and then caused scandal by his libertine love affairs before leaving the priesthood; he was having an affair with the soprano who created the role of Fiordiligi. As for Mozart, he was the man who knew all about the serial courtship of sisters, since he first fell in love with Aloysia Weber and then married her younger sister Constanze.

The Grand Tour

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