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  • 149 killed as 7.1 magnitude quake fells buildings in Mexico
    MEXICO CITY (AP) -- A powerful earthquake shook central Mexico on Tuesday, collapsing buildings in plumes of dust and killing at least 149 people. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped....
  • The Latest: Mexico president says first priority is rescue
    MEXICO CITY (AP) -- The latest on the strong earthquake that hit Mexico City (all times local):...
  • Hurricane Maria aims at Puerto Rico after slamming Dominica
    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Hurricane Maria barreled toward Puerto Rico on Tuesday night after wreaking widespread devastation on Dominica and leaving the small Caribbean island virtually incommunicado....
  • In stark UN speech, Trump threatens to "destroy" North Korea
    UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- President Donald Trump vowed Tuesday to "totally destroy North Korea" if the U.S. is forced to defend itself or its allies against the renegade nation's nuclear weapons program, making his case in a combative debut speech to the U.N. that laid out a stark, good-vs-evil view of a globe riven by chaos and turmoil.... […]
  • Trump's North Korea threats leave Asia struggling to explain
    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Was it a bluff? A warning that Washington would shoot down North Korea's next missile test? A simple restatement of past policy? Officials and pundits across Asia struggled Wednesday to decode President Donald Trump's threat to "totally destroy North Korea" if provoked....
  • AP Interview: Lavrov hints US-Russia 'Tit-for-tat' could end
    NEW YORK (AP) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday that he heard positive news in President Donald Trump's United Nations address: "that the U.S. would not impose its way of life on others."...
  • Pelting rain, relocation add to woes in Rohingya Muslim camp
    COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AP) -- Monsoon rains, relocations and extortion attempts are worsening the living situation in the Bangladeshi camps for Rohingya Muslims who fled Myanmar....
  • Immigrant hurricane victims turn to churches amid fear
    HOUSTON (AP) -- Places of worship and private charities in Texas and Florida are playing a pivotal role for people in the country illegally as they recover from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma....
  • White man arrested in slayings of 2 black men in Louisiana
    BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- A 23-year-old white man was arrested Tuesday and accused of cold-bloodedly killing two black men and shooting up a black family's home in a string of attacks last week that police say may have been racially motivated....
  • The big question: Will cancer immune therapy work for me?
    SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Dennis Lyon was a genetic train wreck. Cancer was ravaging his liver, lungs, bones and brain, and tests showed so many tumor mutations that drugs targeting one or two wouldn't do much good. It seemed like very bad news, yet his doctors were encouraged....

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The Grand Tour

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The New York Review of Books©

  • Terrorism: The Lessons of Barcelona
    I've spent the last few years in Barcelona studying radicalization. As the day of the terrorist attacks in Spain unfolded, I thought, what comes next? The blaming of the Muslim community, the demonizing of the town the attackers came from, and vows from politicians to throw more money at the problem. But my time in Barcelona taught me one thing: radicalization is a local phenomenon. Equipping local officials to solve local problems—and avoiding the distraction of easy, unhelpful generalizations about immigrant or local communities—is the best way to thwart the jihadists’ international aims.
  • Three Tales of Moral Corrosion
    Here is one way to take stock of the ways in which this year has changed us. Consider three stories of alliances—or misalliances—unfolding in three different important institutions in this country. One involves Congressional Democrats and the president in Washington; the second is a story of political troublemakers descending on Berkeley; and the third involves political actors welcomed and not welcomed by Harvard. These are stories of new alignments and battles over legitimacy. All three showcase shattered expectations, both institutional and personal, and represent new and profound failures of moral compasses.
  • Which Jane Austen?
    On July 18, the Bank of England marked the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s death by officially unveiling a new £10 note in her honor. It would be nice to imagine that someone at the bank had been reading Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century and thought this an appropriate way of acknowledging the woman who figures in it as one of our most clear-sighted guides to the origins of current economic arrangements. But Austen’s shrewdness about money seems to have been far less on anyone’s mind than a desire to rectify the absence of women other than the queen on British currency.
  • A Glove, a Car, and a Camera
    Willa Nasatir—whose exhibition currently at the Whitney Museum features ten large chromogenic prints and seven smaller black-and-white prints, all produced in 2017—shoots on film and does not digitally retouch her images. Her analog production is made all the more surprising by the complexity of her compositions, which densely layer objects, tangles of wire, mirrors, surface glare, and textured patina in a shallow depth of field. The surreal effects happen entirely in the camera.
  • Morning
    Between the gray walls and a burst of chopping sounds, morning comes, bundled and sliced, and vanishes with the paralyzed souls of the chopped vegetables.
  • Liu Xiaobo’s Last Text
    This text is the last thing that Liu Xiaobo, the literary critic, poet, and human rights activist, wrote. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, two years after he was imprisoned for eleven years on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.” His “crime” was to speak out for freedom of speech, basic human rights, and democratic elections. He died on July 13 of liver cancer in a hospital in Shenyang.
  • Road to Darkness
    Sooner or later you will leave me, one day and take the road to darkness alone.
  • India: Assassinating Dissent
    Four journalists—most recently Gauri Lankesh—have been murdered in India. While it’s reasonable to be concerned about the impact of these killings on free speech and journalism, to see them primarily as an extreme form of censorship is to underestimate the enormity of the crime. Their murders look more like ideological assassinations designed to punish intellectual dissent.
  • Beloved & Condemned: A Cartoonist in Nazi Germany
    The carefree world of Father and Son gives little hint of the fate that would be suffered by its creator, E. O. Plauen, who had become world-famous for his comic strips and was driven to take his own life. He was tall, heavy-set, and hard of hearing. Those close to him described him as humorous, awkward, curmudgeonly. The author Hans Fallada speaks of “an elephant who could walk a tightrope.”
  • Indonesia & China: The Sea Between
    Indonesia announced on July 14 that it was renaming a part of the South China Sea the “North Natuna Sea.” China immediately demanded a retraction—which it will not get. At no point since the fifteenth century had a Chinese government been actively involved in the seas that it now claims on the basis of history.
  • Violence and Creativity
    “So,” Michon began, “you’re an acceptable translator. Actually, no. You’re fine. But Vies minuscules is an exceptional text. It needs an exceptional translator. Understand?” His face was gray, grim. I made a few sounds that attempted to communicate that I didn’t understand; that we had worked together for years; that I wasn’t clear what had changed; that I’d done the same work I’d done in the past and arrived with, I thought, the same kinds of questions but— “But you haven’t even deciphered the text,” Michon said, loudly, pounding the table now with the fist that held the knife. The voices of the lunchtime crowd dimmed as the restaurant registered the disturbance. “You haven’t even deciphered it.”
  • The Great Africanstein Novel
    Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s magisterial first novel Kintu continually diverts us from our preconceptions about Africa. Despite the generalizing and pigeonholing, African writers are rarely thought to speak to universal questions. But as its two-faced title—man/thing—suggests, Kintu does in fact have a grand philosophical question in mind. The novel forces us to reckon over and again with what it means to be kintu, to be man, or human.
  • The Hardening of Consciousness
    Manzotti: In declaring consciousness the “hard problem,” something extraordinary, and separating it from the rest of the physical world, Chalmers and others cast the debate in an anti-Copernican frame, preserving the notion that human consciousness exists in a special and, it is always implied, superior realm. The collective hubris that derives from this is all too evident and damaging.
  • Brexit’s Irish Question
    The Irish Question rises yet again, looming on the road to Brexit like the Sphinx on the road to Thebes. It threatens to devour those who cannot solve its great riddle: How do you impose an EU frontier across a small island without utterly unsettling the complex compromises that have ended a thirty-year conflict? The “people” part of the preliminary Brexit negotiations concerns the mutual recognition of the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and vice versa. The “money” part concerns Britain’s outstanding obligations to the EU budget and the calculation of the final divorce bill. Both are awkward and politically divisive issues, but it should be perfectly possible to reach a settlement.
  • Five Magnificent Years
    Jonathan Gould has written an absorbing and ambitious book about a life cut short, a life devoid of the melodrama and self-destruction that enliven the biographies of so many of Otis Redding’s contemporaries. He was far from an overnight success, but from the moment he began pushing toward a musical career—as far back as his formation, with some childhood friends, of a gospel quartet calling themselves the Junior Spiritual Crusaders—he moved only forward. He lived by his own precept: “If you want to be a singer, you’ve got to concentrate on it twenty-four hours a day. You can’t have anything else on your mind but the music business.”
  • A Show Trial in Moscow
    As the sensational trial of former Minister of Economic Development Alexei Ulyukaev continued this week in Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky District Court, it seemed more and more like a replay of the infamous show trials of the Stalin period—the charges bogus, the outcome predetermined. Ulyukaev is the first Kremlin minister to be charged with a crime while in office since 1953. While Ulyukaev’s case points to a conflict over power and resources within Putin’s elite, it is also a manifestation of a broader crackdown by Putin.
  • Soccer’s Culture of Corruption
    FIFA remains largely unreformed, and Western countries seem powerless to force change. David Conn’s new book shows that the saga of world soccer’s governing body since the 1970s has foreshadowed geopolitical shifts, notably the waning of the political and economic dominance of the West.
  • The Crackdown in Cambodia
    “Descent into Outright Dictatorship,” read The Cambodia Daily’s final headline on Monday, a defiant last cry from a fiercely independent newspaper that has now been shut down by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government. The waning of the international community’s influence over Hun Sen raises ethical questions about Western aid to Cambodia. It is now evident that foreign donors like the United States are financing the policies of an increasingly dictatorial government.
  • Egypt’s Failed Revolution
    To the Editors: I appreciate Joshua Hammer’s thoughtful review of my book, The Egyptians: A Radical History of Egypt’s Unfinished Revolution, and more importantly the space given over to highlighting some of the many aspects of Egypt’s current plight. Emboldened by international support, both political and financial, the dictatorship of former General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi continues to intensify its crackdown on all forms of opposition and dissent.
  • Locking Up The Mentally Ill
    To the Editors: David Cole’s “The Truth About Our Prison Crisis,” not surprisingly, does not mention the perhaps 200,000 severely mentally ill in jails and prisons. Despite recognition for decades of the prisons as the “de facto mental hospitals” there is relatively little concern among the populace, or officials, about that development.
  • How Australians Vote
    To the Editors: As a former Chair of the Australian Electoral Commission, can I comment on the thoughtful piece by Eric Maskin and Amartya Sen, “A Better Way to Choose Presidents”? In Australia since the 1920s voting at state and federal elections has been compulsory. At the 2016 federal election, voter turnout was 95 percent, compared with 58 percent in the US election that year.
  • The Outside-In Art of Grayson Perry
    In the art world, Grayson Perry believes, despite the blockbuster exhibitions at national galleries, “popular” is a term of abuse, linked to populism and unthinking prejudice. But in his exhibition "The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!” he shows that craft is also “art,” and that it belongs to us all. It's here, even more than in his overt political statements, that Perry is truly democratic and profoundly “popular.”
  • Beijing’s Bold New Censorship
    The art of controlling speech while avoiding the appearance of doing so has a long history in China. If ten years ago political censorship was done by telephone, now it is out on the table, in writing. Though euphemisms continue to be useful to China’s rulers, it has now become increasingly obvious that their use is declining. In the era of Xi Jinping, repression is often stated baldly, even proudly.
  • What Are Impeachable Offenses?
    Because it has been used so rarely, and because it is a power entrusted to Congress, not the courts, impeachment as a legal process is poorly understood. There are no judicial opinions that create precedents for how and when to proceed with it. Past cases are subject to competing and often contradictory interpretations. Some might even be tempted to argue that because impeachment is ultimately political, it cannot be considered in legal terms at all. That extreme view cannot be right. Impeachment must be a legal procedure because it derives from specific constitutional directives.
  • The Lost Poems of George Oppen
    21 Poems nearly doubles the size of George Oppen’s early and influential corpus, and happily, the poems themselves are fascinating. When I first shared my find with one of my professors, he grabbed my shoulders and said, “Don’t get used to this feeling, David, it may never happen again.”
  • Clothes That Don’t Need You
    What kind of artist is Rei Kawakubo? Let’s call her a combinatory formalist. She is unusually adept at combining the many disparate influences that course through her designs into unlikely, arresting, contrapuntal compositions. She is first of all a creator of images—of pictures liberated from their original settings, and in this she belongs with the Pictures Generation, that group of mediacentric artists who were among her first devotees. Fashion is the place where the associative, imagistic mind can run riot with impunity; it’s a postmodernist playground.
  • The Hateful Monk
    Ashin Wirathu, the subject of Barbet Schroeder’s new documentary, The Venerable W., is composed and polite—he's also responsible for inciting some of the worst acts of ethnic violence in Myanmar’s recent history. What’s disturbing about Wirathu is that the aim of his public sermonizing is to transform the impressionable into unthinking agents of his intolerance. Wirathu both channels and reflects the ways in which social media has transformed hate into a thoughtless pastime.
  • Kenya: The Election & the Cover-Up
    Another rigged election in Africa is not news. But that US election observers were so quick to endorse it is shocking. Perhaps they believed that wrapping the election up quickly would prevent violence. A far more troubling possibility is that the US wants Kenyatta to remain in power, at the expense of democracy.
  • Trump’s Hoodlums
    Trump’s base shares his contempt for the Washington institutions that are once again exposing their duplicitous nature. Some of this base also happens to be armed. Over the last two weeks, we have seen Donald Trump send out signals to the vigilantes of his own choosing. “Be wary of paramilitaries,” the Yale historian Timothy Snyder warned in his recent book On Tyranny.
  • Fukushima from Within
    The publisher of the English edition of Kazuto Tatsuta’s book Ichi-F, about the Fukushima nuclear power plant, has opted to call this 550-page tome of dry, detailed reportage a “graphic memoir.” The original Japanese subtitle describes the manga instead as a “rōdōki,” literally a “record of labor,” putting more emphasis on the work itself than the person doing the work. The difference might seem trivial, but it speaks to many of the things that Ichi-F both succeeds and fails in doing.
  • Making Memories
    H.M., as he came to be known in the medical literature, could no longer remember anything he did. He could not remember what he had eaten for breakfast, lunch, or supper, nor could he find his way around the hospital. He failed to recognize hospital staff and physicians whom he had met only minutes earlier. Every time he met a scientist from MIT who was studying him regularly, she had to introduce herself again. He could not even recognize himself in recent photos, thinking that the face in the image was some “old guy.” Yet he was able to carry on a conversation for as long as his attention was not diverted.
  • Cartier-Bresson’s Distant India
    Henri Cartier-Bresson is perhaps the most well-known photographer in India, or rather—an important distinction—the photographer whose work is most well-known. In “Henri Cartier-Bresson: India in Full Frame,” the Rubin Museum brings together selections from his trips between 1947 and 1980. It’s hard not to detect a sense of social estrangement here. In fact, Cartier-Bresson made a style out of his outsider status.
  • Why We Must Still Defend Free Speech
    Many have asked why the ACLU represented Jason Kessler, the organizer of the white supremacist rally, in challenging Charlottesville’s last-minute effort to revoke his permit. The city proposed to move his rally a mile from its originally approved site—Emancipation Park, the location of the Robert E. Lee monument whose removal Kessler sought to protest—but offered no reason why the protest would be any easier to manage a mile away. As ACLU offices across the country have done for thousands of marchers for almost a century, the ACLU of Virginia gave Kessler legal help to preserve his permit. Should the fatal violence that followed prompt recalibration of the scope of free speech?
  • Alice Coltrane’s Songs of Bliss
    Alice Coltrane played piano in her husband’s groups from 1966 until his death the following year. Alice recorded a dozen albums under her own name, ranging from straight-ahead jazz to experimental mixtures of orchestral music and improvisation to Hindu chants performed in gospel arrangements. Her corpus remains one of the most varied and underappreciated in jazz.
  • Take a Hike!
    To the uninitiated it can be hard to understand why anyone would go hiking. Today’s fleece- and Gore-Tex–clad masses may take for granted the attraction of spending weekends doing what, for most of human history, qualified as grunt work: trudging through the wilderness, surrounded by dangerous animals, a heavy pack on your back. Earlier advocates had to be more candid. “This is very hard work for a young man to follow daily for any length of time,” wrote John Meade Gould in a popular guide in 1877. “Although it may sound romantic, yet let no party of young people think they can find pleasure in it for many days.”
  • What Makes a Terrorist?
    In the wake of the terrorist attacks in and around Barcelona, clichés about radicalization are again making the rounds. For some, the twelve young members of the cell behind the Barcelona attacks, all men, were “brainwashed”; for others the blame falls on the town of Ripoll for becoming a “terrorist breeding ground”; for others yet it’s Islam as a whole that must be held accountable. For those who study radicalization and terrorism, all of these explanations fall short.
  • Eloise: The Feral Star
    Eloise, the children's literature star—she of the Plaza, Paris, and Moscow—was born of Kay Thompson, not otherwise an author. There's currently an Eloise revival, in the form of a new museum show emphasizing illustrator Hillary Knight's contributions, now at the New-York Historical Society until October.
  • Glossing Africa
    When African writers talk about glossaries, we don’t just exchange tips—How long? How comprehensive? By whom? We talk about whether to include one at all, whether to offer glosses within the text or omit all glossing entirely. To gloss, or not to gloss? That is the question.

The Grand Tour

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