China considers cracking down on outspoken musicians by requiring them to have a degree. Why?
Sir Elton John receives an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal Academy of
Music at the Academy's 2002 graduation ceremony, London, July 3, 2002. (Peter Macdiarmid/Reuters)
While it is axiomatic these days that you need to go to college to get ahead in life, there are a few professions in which having a four-year degree isn't
strictly necessary. Basketball players, for example, need not have a degree to be successful at their craft, something LeBron James (among others) has
Music would seem to be another case in which schooling plays a minor role in determining success. But in China, this may soon cease to be the case.
According to a recent article in The Guardian, Chinese culture minister Cai Wu has apparently demanded that all foreign musicians who perform in the
country have college degrees.
Somewhere, Justin Bieber just hired an SAT tutor.
Cai's suggestion comes on the heels of an Elton John concert in Beijing last November, after which the musical icon dedicated his performance to the
"spirit and talent" of dissident artist Ai Weiwei. Though John was permitted to play a subsequent show in Guangzhou in December, his comments did not sit
well with China's authorities, and it is unclear whether he'll be invited back to play in the country.
China has long been highly sensitive to celebrity statements about the country. In 2008, the Icelandic singer Bjork triggered a minor scandal when she
shouted "Tibet!" three times at a concert in Shanghai, apparently in the misguided hope that her screams would foment an independence movement in the
Celebrities the world over have always shown the predilection toward speaking out on politics. The question, then, is why China cares what they say. A
country with the world's second-largest economy, one would think, has bigger matters to attend to than a singer who peaked in popularity more than three decades
ago. But by floating his absurd proposal that foreign performers have university degrees, Cai Wu managed to perpetuate China's image as a petty country
unable to take criticism.
Then again, Cai and other Chinese leaders have another audience in mind: China's people.
Beijing has long gone to great lengths to combat real or perceived
slights to its image, a policy that bolsters its reputation as the defenders of China's national honor. It's this defense, accompanied by its stewardship
of the economy, that gives the ruling Communist Party its legitimacy. So while it's unlikely that many Chinese even knew about Elton John's comments, a
fair number would be pleased to hear that the government won't take a foreign star's comments lying down.
Better-behaved foreign musicians need not be deterred from entering the Chinese market, however. The recent Spring Festival gala, an annual variety show
commemorating the Chinese New Year, featured a performance by the lithe Canadian singer Celine Dion. And while none could deny her immense talent, Dion, it should be
noted, never went to college.
Even prominent right-wing populists are beginning to worry that they invested their faith in an unstable leader.
This week, as Donald Trump publicly attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an assault one restrained observer described as “a multitiered tower of political idiocy, a sublime monument to the moronic, a gaudy, gleaming, Ozymandian folly,” even David Horowitz, the anti-Leftist intellectual and author of Big Agenda: President Trump’s Plan to Save America, felt compelled to admit something to his Twitter followers: “I have to confess, I'm really distressed by Trump's shabby treatment of Sessions.”
Trump has always been vehemently opposed from the left and distrusted on the right by Never Trump conservatives, who continue to be dismayed by his behavior. But this week as never before, public doubts surfaced among Trump boosters and apologists, prompting Jay Cost to quip, “at the end it's just gonna be Sean Hannity huddled in a corner, quietly whispering to himself that Trump is a great American.”
“I hope that my story will help you understand the methods of Russian operatives in Washington and how they use U.S. enablers to achieve major foreign policy goals without disclosing those interests,” Browder writes.
The financier Bill Browder has emerged as an unlikely central player in the ongoing investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Sergei Magnitsky, an attorney Browder hired to investigate official corruption, died in Russian custody in 2009. Congress subsequently imposed sanctions on the officials it held responsible for his death, passing the Magnitsky Act in 2012. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government retaliated, among other ways, by suspending American adoptions of Russian children.
Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who secured a meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort, was engaged in a campaign for the repeal of the Magnitsky Act, and raised the subject of adoptions in that meeting. That’s put the spotlight back on Browder’s long campaign for Kremlin accountability, and against corruption—a campaign whose success has irritated Putin and those around him.
Less than a week into his job, White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci is accusing President Trump’s chief of staff of leaking damaging information to the press.
When Anthony Scaramucci was named White House communications director last week, he had a dual mandate to fix the president’s dysfunctional press shop and end leaks. So far, those two goals are steeply at odds, as Scaramucci’s fierce, sudden attack on White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus Wednesday and Thursday show.
An enigmatic series of tweets Wednesday night erupted into a stunning CNN interview Thursday morning in which Scaramucci compared his relationship with Priebus to Cain and Abel (he didn’t indicate which is which) and said he didn’t know whether his relationship with Priebus was “repairable.” He also implied that national-security leakers ought to be executed.
For the past few decades, the unstoppable increase in college tuition has been a fact of life, like death and taxes. The sticker price of American college increased nearly 400 percent in the last 30 years, while median household income growth was relatively flat. Student debt soared to more than $1 trillion, the result of loans to cover the difference.
Several people—with varyingdegreesof expertisein higher-ed economics—have predicted that it’s all a bubble, destined to burst. Now after decades of expansion, just about every meaningful statistic—including the number of college students, the growth of tuition costs, and even the total number of colleges—is going down, or at least growing more slowly.
The Congressional Budget Office offered an estimate of Republicans’ last-ditch attempt to roll back Obamacare.
With eight hours left of debate in the Senate reconciliation process, it appears all of the Republicans’ chances of repealing (or replacing) Obamacare will come down to a single option: the “skinny repeal.”
Not much is known about the skinny repeal, however. At the end of Wednesday’s debate session, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer blasted Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for keeping the text of the bill secret, and promised that Democrats would offer no further amendments until the secret plan was revealed. What is known about the ace up McConnell’s sleeve is that it would likely eliminate Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates, along with some of its taxes, but the specifics and the broader impacts of such a bill are as of yet unknown.
A new study finds that believing society is fair can lead disadvantaged adolescents to act out and engage in risky behavior.
Brighton Park is a predominantly Latino community on the southwest side of Chicago. It’s a neighborhood threatened by poverty, gang violence, ICE raids, and isolation—in a city where income, race, and zip code can determine access to jobs, schools, healthy food, and essential services. It is against this backdrop that the Chicago teacher Xian Franzinger Barrett arrived at the neighborhood’s elementary school in 2014.
Recognizing the vast economic and racial inequalities his students faced, he chose what some might consider a radical approach for his writing and social-studies classes, weaving in concepts such as racism, classism, oppression, and prejudice. Barrett said it was vital to reject the oft-perpetuated narrative that society is fair and equal to address students’ questions and concerns about their current conditions. And Brighton Elementary’s seventh- and eighth-graders quickly put the lessons to work—confronting the school board over inequitable funding, fighting to install a playground, and creating a classroom library focused on black and Latino authors.
Activists on the right have been pushing to repeal the Affordable Care Act since 2010—only to see some Republicans defend the law once they got the power to get rid of it.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Senate failed to pass legislation that would have repealed major parts of the Affordable Care Act, including the law’s individual and employer mandates, the Medicaid expansion, tax credits, and taxes. It was the same measure that passed the Senate through reconciliation in 2015 and was ultimately vetoed by President Obama.
After failing to pass the Obamacare replacement plan during a vote late on Tuesday night, the Senate moved on to the repeal-only vote. This time around, repeal could only afford to lose two senators, and it did. Actually, it lost seven, including six who had voted for the repeal bill in 2015.* Conservative groups see the vote’s failure as the ultimate political hypocrisy—but Republican senators maintain that they’re representing their constituents’ best interests.
The Arizona Republican is betting his Senate seat on the political appeal of decency—but can that pay off in Trump’s America?
The constituents filing into the Mesa Convention Center one evening in mid-April for the Republican senator Jeff Flake’s town hall had a decidedly un-Republican look. Tattoos and political T-shirts abounded. Activists stood near the entrance distributing stickers, flyers, and other paraphernalia of the resistance and urging attendees to get loud. While chants of “No stupid wall!” and “Health care for all!” echoed through the auditorium, a young woman in a chicken costume wandered the perimeter, clucking and posing for selfies in an act of protest whose meaning remained mysterious to me even after I asked her about it (“Jeff Flake is George Dubya’s chicken,” she said).
Flake couldn’t see any of this from backstage, but he knew that a hostile crowd likely awaited him. The early months of the Trump presidency had inflamed the grassroots left, and Republican lawmakers across the country had lately found themselves standing awkwardly in rooms like this one while liberal voters berated them. Flake is up for reelection next year, and some of his campaign advisers—wanting to avoid the kind of contentious scene that might end up in an attack ad—had suggested that he skip public forums for a while, as many of his colleagues were doing. But he insisted on going ahead.
The vote he cast, more than the speech he gave, will help define his legacy.
The effort to repeal Barack Obama’s health-care bill is not over, and neither presumably is the public career of John McCain. But each crossed an important threshold yesterday, and Senator McCain gave us a clearer idea of who he is and what he stands for.
The repeal effort isn’t over, because debate and further voting is now under way to determine whether the bill will pass and, more basically, to define what it would actually do. McCain will have more votes to cast, on this measure and others, and it’s possible that in the end he will turn against this bill because of its provisions (whatever they turn out to be) or because of the rushed and secretive process that led to it. Just this afternoon, McCain voted No on a “straight repeal” bill that would eliminate Obamacare without any replacement.
Representative Adam Schiff reflects on a moment he probably knew was coming.
In some of his first public remarks since the president of the United States declared him “sleazy,” Adam Schiff denied the allegation, which Donald Trump made via Twitter this week. Trump “chose a poor descriptor because I don’t think that’s people’s impression of me,” the mellow Democrat from California told me. “I’ve been called a lot of things, but ‘sleazy’ isn’t one of them.”
Until, that is, the president branded him as the “totally biased Congressman looking into ‘Russia’” who “spends all of his time on television pushing the Dem loss excuse!” (“Sleazy” is a word that Trump has also affixed to Ted Cruz and Anthony Weiner.) And thus, in an instant, ended Schiff’s 57-year run of not being called sleazy. Schiff has since been widely described as such, in Twitter hashtags and by journalists reporting the day’s news, by legions of critics online, and even by some supporters hoping to reclaim the term. A colleague reached out to say he wanted to create a campaign button with the slogan, “I’m with sleazy,” Schiff recalled.