The third in line to the United Kingdom throne, Prince Harry of Wales, got photographed nude in a Las Vegas hotel room with an unnamed young woman. It's a pretty straightforward royals scandal: behavior just transgressive enough to merit wall-to-wall media coverage, yet harmless enough that we can enjoy it guilt-free. But British readers won't be enjoying the photos in their country's famously raucous newspapers, every single one of which has bowed to the royal palace's request to not publish the pictures.
But this sort of story is such catnip for the British tabloid media, the red-haired personification of its very raîson d'être -- "the media has been enthralled by the love life of the single prince," Reuters explained -- that one of them just couldn't resist. The Sun asked two of its staffers to pose nude, recreating the naked-prince image for the tabloid's cover, which is seen by an estimated 7.6 million daily readers and countless newsstand passers-by.
Standing in for Prince Harry is Sun photo editor Harry Miller -- the tabloid cover cheerily advertises "BANNED PHOTO POSED BY SUN'S OWN HARRY" -- and, as the anonymous young woman, a 21-year-old staffer named Sophie Henderson, whom the paper says is there "on work experience." In case it's not clear what that means, Henderson's LinkedIn page lists her as a Sun fashion intern.
A print-only article in The Sun explains, according to the Guardian, that Miller and Henderson "dropped everything to recreate the Prince's pose -- after the Palace asked us not to print the real Vegas snaps," and were "happy to strip." The paper later issued a statement, signed by Miller and Henderson, stating, "For anyone worried about whether we were forced against our will to strip off, we are pleased to be able to set the record straight. Please be assured, there is no cover-up at Wapping. It was a bit of harmless fun and we were delighted to have played our part in making the readers laugh."
Putting aside the ethical and potentially legal questions about having an intern pose semi-nude for publication, it's hard not to ask why. If The Sun was willing to go to such great trouble, and expose itself to such risk, why not just go ahead and publish the actual photos?
The answer, assuming the stunt itself wasn't the point, may have to do with both the U.K.'s somewhat tighter media restrictions and this particular moment in the British media industry. The royal palace, in asking outlets not to print the photos, firmly suggested doing so could be considered an infringement on Harry's privacy. According to U.K. media law, a photo taken of someone in private without their consent requires a "public interest" justification to run. And the paper has to actively demonstrate as much: "Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual's private life without consent," the law reads.
That "public interest" definition can be broad -- Peter Barron, the editor of a small British paper, explained that the 2005 photos of Harry dressed in a Nazi costume could be justified as evidence of "misjudgment" by a public official -- but probably not broad enough for this one. And the U.K. media appears to be a bit more cautious these days, some say due to the ongoing "Leveson Inquiry" into media ethics and standards, which the government launched in response to the News of the World phone hacking scandal. The Huffington Postcalls this evidence of "a dangerous new climate of fear in the U.K. media." This seems a little strong, but others seem to agree the Leveson Inquiry, along with the public backlash against the News of the World's abuses, has had a "chilling effect" on the typically brash U.K. media.
"With national newspapers reeling from the News International phone-hacking scandal, the implications of the Leveson Inquiry, and a warning from the Palace that there would be a complaint to the [Press Complaints Commission], no one was prepared to take a chance," Barron wrote. "The public mood, fuelled by what the News of the World did, has acted as a deterrent."
It's almost enough to give you hope that maybe, just maybe, the British media has finally learned some restraint, has heard what the A.P. calls the "celebrities, politicians, and crime victims who said their lives had been turned upside down by press intrusion." Until, that is, you see that, for at least this one mega-tabloid, exercising restraint means having an editor and a college-aged intern pose nude together for the cover.
Long after research contradicts common medical practices, patients continue to demand them and physicians continue to deliver. The result is an epidemic of unnecessary and unhelpful treatments.
First, listen to the story with the happy ending: At 61, the executive was in excellent health. His blood pressure was a bit high, but everything else looked good, and he exercised regularly. Then he had a scare. He went for a brisk post-lunch walk on a cool winter day, and his chest began to hurt. Back inside his office, he sat down, and the pain disappeared as quickly as it had come.
That night, he thought more about it: middle-aged man, high blood pressure, stressful job, chest discomfort. The next day, he went to a local emergency department. Doctors determined that the man had not suffered a heart attack and that the electrical activity of his heart was completely normal. All signs suggested that the executive had stable angina—chest pain that occurs when the heart muscle is getting less blood-borne oxygen than it needs, often because an artery is partially blocked.
Wine snobs, string quartets, and the limits of intuition
Several months ago, this author sat at a classical music concert, trying to convince himself that wine is not bullshit.
That may seem like a strange thought to have while listening to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A major. But Priceonomics had recently posted an article investigating The Price of Wine, part of which reviewed research that cast doubt on both consumers’ and wine experts’ ability to distinguish between quality wine and table wine or identify different wines and their flavors. It seemed a slippery slope to the conclusion that wine culture is nothing more than actors performing a snobbish play.
Listening to an accomplished musician while lacking any musical experience resulted in a feeling familiar to casual wine drinkers imbibing an expensive bottle: Feeling somewhat ambivalent and wondering whether you are convincing yourself that you enjoy it so as not to appear uncultured.
The pressure to achieve academically is a crime against learning.
I’ve known the mother sitting in front of me at this parent-teacher conference for years, and we have been through a lot together. I have taught three of her children, and I like to think we’ve even become friends during our time together. She’s a conscientious mother who obviously loves her children with all of her heart. I’ve always been honest with her about their strengths and weaknesses, and I think she trusts me to tell her the truth. But when she hits me with the concern that’s been bothering her for a while, all I can do is nod, and stall for time.
“Marianna’s grades are fine; I’m not worried about that, but she just doesn’t seem to love learning anymore.”
Larry Taunton's new book says more about its author than about the man he claims as a friend.
Even Christopher Hitchens’s detractors would concede him two great qualities: honesty and bravery. Hitchens spoke the truth as he understood the truth, without regard to whom he might please and whom he might offend. What Hitchens wrote of his intellectual hero, George Orwell, was the epitaph he would have wished for himself:
By his determination to seek elusive but verifiable truth, he showed how much can be accomplished by an individual who unites the qualities of intellectual honesty and moral courage.
Yet this is the epitaph that a new book about Hitchens seeks to deny him. Larry Taunton is an evangelical publicist and promoter who became friendly with Hitchens during the writer’s final three years of life. Earlier this spring, Taunton published a new book that alleged that Hitchens was not as committed to his atheism as Hitchens publicly insisted—that, indeed, Hitchens had approached the verge of a Christian conversion.
A conversation with Nikole Hannah-Jones about race, education, and hypocrisy.
Public schools in gentrifying neighborhoods seem on the cusp of becoming truly diverse, as historically underserved neighborhoods fill up with younger, whiter families. But the schools remain stubbornly segregated. Nikole Hannah-Jones has chronicled this phenomenon around the country, and seen it firsthand in her neighborhood in Brooklyn.
“White communities want neighborhood schools if their neighborhood school is white,” she says. “If their neighborhood school is black, they want choice.” Charter schools and magnet schools spring up in place of neighborhood schools, where white students can be in the majority.
“We have a system where white people control the outcomes, and the outcome that most white Americans want is segregation,” she says.
Russia's strongman president has many Americans convinced of his manipulative genius. He's really just a gambler who won big.
I. The Hack
The large, sunny room at Volgograd State University smelled like its contents: 45 college students, all but one of them male, hunched over keyboards, whispering and quietly clacking away among empty cans of Juicy energy drink. “It looks like they’re just picking at their screens, but the battle is intense,” Victor Minin said as we sat watching them.
Clustered in seven teams from universities across Russia, they were almost halfway into an eight-hour hacking competition, trying to solve forensic problems that ranged from identifying a computer virus’s origins to finding secret messages embedded in images. Minin was there to oversee the competition, called Capture the Flag, which had been put on by his organization, the Association of Chief Information Security Officers, or ARSIB in Russian. ARSIB runs Capture the Flag competitions at schools all over Russia, as well as massive, multiday hackathons in which one team defends its server as another team attacks it. In April, hundreds of young hackers participated in one of them.
The GOP succeeded in delivering on many of its promises. But the new code, which Congress will vote on this week, will not be as lasting, or as simplified, as they’d hoped.
The legislation congressional Republicans finalized on Friday and are likely to enact next week delivers on many of the party’s—and President Trump’s— promises for a landmark overhaul of the tax code. But the rush to pass the bill through a narrow Senate majority and without Democratic support forced the GOP to sacrifice some of their long-held aspirations for tax reform.
The final bill permanently reduces the corporate tax rate all the way from 35 percent to 21 percent, nearly matching the 20 percent goal House Republicans set in their 2016 campaign plan (though not as low as the 15 percent Trump ran on). It cuts taxes sharply for business owners, and companies will be able to write off costly purchases of new equipment and buildings.
With late support from Senators Bob Corker and Marco Rubio on a package finalized Friday, the GOP is on the precipice of a major legislative victory next week.
Updated on December 15 at 6:14 p.m. ET
It’s all over except the voting.
Republican negotiators representing the House and Senate on Friday morning signed off on a final version of legislation that will, at a cost of up to $1.5 trillion, deliver a steep permanent tax cut to corporations and more modest, temporary reductions for individuals and families. In the last hours of tweaks, the GOP boosted a benefit for working families at the behest of Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, likely securing his vote and the support the party needs to pass the bill next week. And they flipped the one Republican senator who had voted no on the chamber’s original bill earlier this month, Bob Corker of Tennessee.
The House and Senate must each hold final votes on the tax plan next week, and given the GOP’s fractious and shaky majority, there’s always the potential for last-minute drama. But the conference-committee report signed on Friday won’t be subject to amendments, and negotiators evinced little worry that the landmark deal—which represents the largest changes to the tax code in more than 30 years—would fall through. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced the House would vote on Tuesday, with the Senate expected to send the plan to President Trump’s desk soon after.
A scientist and a monk compare notes on meditation, therapy, and their effects on the brain
Can training the mind make us more attentive, altruistic, and serene? Can we learn to manage our disturbing emotions in an optimal way? What are the transformations that occur in the brain when we practice meditation? In a new book titled Beyond the Self, two friends—Matthieu Ricard, who left a career as a molecular biologist to become a Buddhist monk in Nepal, and Wolf Singer, a distinguished neuroscientist—engage in an unusually well-matched conversation about meditation and the brain. Below is a condensed and edited excerpt.
Matthieu Ricard: Although one ﬁnds in the Buddhist literature many treatises on “traditional sciences”—medicine, cosmology, botanic, logic, and so on—Tibetan Buddhism has not endeavored to the same extent as Western civilizations to expand its knowledge of the world through the natural sciences. Rather it has pursued an exhaustive investigation of the mind for 2,500 years and has accumulated, in an empirical way, a wealth of experiential ﬁndings over the centuries. A great number of people have dedicated their whole lives to this contemplative science.