Earlier this week, Pope Francis plucked two lucky 5th graders from Perugia out of a crowd in Vatican City to ride along with him in the Popemobile. This was just the latest of the Holy See's "Dancing in the Dark" moments; earlier this year, Francis stopped the three-ton Mercedes to give an ecstatic Argentine priest from his old Archdiocese a lift through St. Peter's Square.
The Popemobile, despite its unimaginative moniker, is a modern iteration of the sedia gestatoria, a throne of sorts upon which popes were once ferried on the shoulders of a dozen or so papal footmen. Since the introduction of the Popemobile some 80 years ago, the vehicle of the pontiff has often symbolized the intricacies of the post.
They nod to the realities of the position's import—bulletproof glass and armor plating became standard in most of the pontiff's transports after the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II. The geographical reach of the Catholic world is also embodied by the global fleet of Popemobiles—regular host countries like Mexico and Chile have their own papamóvil at the ready.
Yet one could argue that Pope Francis, being Pope Francis, has not overlooked what many would consider a commonplace aspect of being the Holy See and has found a way to connect the Popemobile to his doctrines.
So far, he has changed the dynamic not only by picking up strangers, but also by eschewing some of the traditional vanity plates of the Popemobile and choosing a five-year-old Ford Focus as his go-to ride. Pope Francis has done away with the modified throne aspect of the car in some models, and even ditched his Mercedes to adopt a second-hand 30-year-old Renault with 190,000 miles on it for personal sojourns within Vatican City.
The new car was in fact a gift to Francis from a 70-year-old priest from northern Italy, Father Renzo Zocca. Zocca previously wrote the pontiff a letter saying he had used the same car for decades and wanted to give it as a symbolic gift after the pope's comments on humility.
Other times, Pope Francis forgets the Popemobile entirely and just walks or hitches rides with others. Last month, Pope Francis opted to catch the bus with cardinals and bishops to a retreat outside of Rome, rather than take his own ride. He carried his own bags.
To the chagrin of his security detail, Pope Francis has made a more frequent habit of riding in an open air vehicle, reflecting a desire for more engagement. (Last week, he jumped off the Popemobile after his sermon to take Palm Sunday selfies with the crowd.) The pontiff rode in one such car to and from Easter celebrations earlier today in Vatican City, where he spoke to the 150,000 tourists and pilgrims.
In his address, Pope Francis made pleas for peace in places like Syria and Ukraine, but also decried the poverty that violence creates.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
Girls in the Middle East do better than boys in school by a greater margin than almost anywhere else in the world: a case study in motivation, mixed messages, and the condition of boys everywhere.
Jordan has never had a female minister of education, women make up less than a fifth of its workforce, and women hold just 4 percent of board seats at public companies there. But, in school, Jordanian girls are crushing their male peers. The nation’s girls outperform its boys in just about every subject and at every age level. At the University of Jordan, the country’s largest university, women outnumber men by a ratio of two to one—and earn higher grades in math, engineering, computer-information systems, and a range of other subjects.
In fact, across the Arab world, women now earn more science degrees on a percentage basis than women in the United States. In Saudi Arabia alone, women earn half of all science degrees. And yet, most of those women are unlikely to put their degrees to paid use for very long.
The foundation of Donald Trump’s presidency is the negation of Barack Obama’s legacy.
It is insufficient to statethe obvious of Donald Trump: that he is a white man who would not be president were it not for this fact. With one immediate exception, Trump’s predecessors made their way to high office through the passive power of whiteness—that bloody heirloom which cannot ensure mastery of all events but can conjure a tailwind for most of them. Land theft and human plunder cleared the grounds for Trump’s forefathers and barred others from it. Once upon the field, these men became soldiers, statesmen, and scholars; held court in Paris; presided at Princeton; advanced into the Wilderness and then into the White House. Their individual triumphs made this exclusive party seem above America’s founding sins, and it was forgotten that the former was in fact bound to the latter, that all their victories had transpired on cleared grounds. No such elegant detachment can be attributed to Donald Trump—a president who, more than any other, has made the awful inheritance explicit.
More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.
One day last summer, around noon, I called Athena, a 13-year-old who lives in Houston, Texas. She answered her phone—she’s had an iPhone since she was 11—sounding as if she’d just woken up. We chatted about her favorite songs and TV shows, and I asked her what she likes to do with her friends. “We go to the mall,” she said. “Do your parents drop you off?,” I asked, recalling my own middle-school days, in the 1980s, when I’d enjoy a few parent-free hours shopping with my friends. “No—I go with my family,” she replied. “We’ll go with my mom and brothers and walk a little behind them. I just have to tell my mom where we’re going. I have to check in every hour or every 30 minutes.”
Those mall trips are infrequent—about once a month. More often, Athena and her friends spend time together on their phones, unchaperoned. Unlike the teens of my generation, who might have spent an evening tying up the family landline with gossip, they talk on Snapchat, the smartphone app that allows users to send pictures and videos that quickly disappear. They make sure to keep up their Snapstreaks, which show how many days in a row they have Snapchatted with each other. Sometimes they save screenshots of particularly ridiculous pictures of friends. “It’s good blackmail,” Athena said. (Because she’s a minor, I’m not using her real name.) She told me she’d spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. That’s just the way her generation is, she said. “We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”
Even Iran, with its abysmal human-rights record, feels comfortable criticizing the U.S.
Updated on Thursday, September 21, at 7:08 a.m.
In his sovereignty-centric speech Tuesday to the UN General Assembly, President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy North Korea”; called Iran “a corrupt dictatorship” whose “chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos”; and said Venezuela’s government “has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country.”
The remarks have prompted the expected reactions from Iran, whose foreign minister called it an “ignorant hate speech [that] belongs in medieval times,” and Venezuela’s foreign minister, who countered: “Trump is not the president of the world ... he cannot even manage his own government.” North Korea, whose nuclear-weapons and missile programs have raised tensions with its neighbors and the U.S., called it a “dog’s bark.”
Their debt-ceiling deal with President Trump cleared up a busy congressional calendar and may have removed a big hurdle for Republicans facing a September 30 deadline.
“They may have spiked the ball in the end zone a little too early,” Mitch McConnell observed about his Democratic colleagues to The New York Times last week.
The Senate majority leader was referring to the celebrations from Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi about the deal they struck with President Trump, in which the president agreed to a short-term increase in the debt ceiling over the objections of McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan. McConnell boasted that because of the way he wrote the corresponding legislation, going forward Democrats won’t have the same leverage on the debt ceiling that they thought they would.
But the agreement that “Chuck and Nancy” reached with Trump may end up backfiring on Democrats in another way: It freed up time for Republicans to take one last stab at dismantling the Affordable Care Act.
Physicians rarely agree on anything as strongly as they do that the Graham-Cassidy health-care bill is harmful.
It used to be that when a doctor gave a confident recommendation, patients trusted it. A skeptical person might seek a second opinion, or a third. When they all agreed, the best course seemed clear.
Today, America’s major physician organizations are recommending something, strongly and in unison: The latest health-care bill, known as Graham-Cassidy, would do harm to the country and should be defeated.
Coalitions of health professionals that have spoken publicly against the measure so far include the American Medical Association (“Provisions violate longstanding AMA policy”), the American Psychiatric Association (“This bill harms our must vulnerable patients”), the American Public Health Association (“Graham-Cassidy would devastate the Medicaid program, increase out-of-pocket costs, and weaken or eliminate protections for people living with preexisting conditions”), the National Institute for Reproductive Health (“the Graham-Cassidy bill preys on underserved communities ... a clear and present danger”), and Federation of American Hospitals (“It could disrupt access to health care for millions of the more than 70 million Americans”).
There’s a lot to admire in Ta-Nehisi Coates’s new essay. It’s one of those pieces that grabs you with its first paragraph and never lets go. The argument keeps gathering force, building on the striking imagery (“Trump cracked the glowing amulet open”) and the caustic scouring of the polemics (opioids are treated as a sickness, crack was punished as a crime), to the very end. At its heart is the undeniable truth that racism remains fundamental in American politics.
It’s the overwhelming, the single cause that Coates finds for the phenomenon of Donald Trump. It’s a cause no one in America should ever bet against. And it shapes every premise Coates lays down. Because he takes all white American political behavior as undifferentiated and founded on the idea of race, he faults me for writing a pre-election essay in The New Yorker about the white working class. Since a majority of all categories of white people ended up voting for Trump, why single out white voters without college degrees, unless it’s to absolve them of their racism by invoking other factors, like class? Or worse, to extend them sympathy, since they’ve fallen into the lower depths where, unlike black Americans, they don’t “naturally” belong? Or, worse still, to absolve myself?
On Tuesday, the late-night host once again devoted his show to the politics of American health care. This time, though, he offered indignation rather than tears.
“By the way, before you post a nasty Facebook message saying I’m politicizing my son’s health problems, I want you to know: I am politicizing my son’s health problems.”
That was Jimmy Kimmel on Tuesday evening, in a monologue reacting to the introduction of Graham-Cassidy, the (latest) bill that seeks to replace the Affordable Care Act. Kimmel had talked about health care on his show before, in May—when, after his newborn son had undergone open-heart surgery to repair the damage of a congenital heart defect, he delivered a tearfully personal monologue sharing the experience of going through that—and acknowledging that he and his family were lucky: They could afford the surgery, whatever it might cost. Kimmel concluded his speech by, yes, politicizing his son’s health problems: He emphasized how important it is for lower- and middle-class families to have comprehensive insurance coverage, with protections for people with preexisting conditions. “No parent,” he said, speaking through tears, “should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life. It shouldn’t happen.”
As she presides over the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims, the Burmese leader stands to lose her status as secular saint.
Like most stories out of Burma, the recent spate of ethnic cleansing of a Muslim minority sect would be unlikely to receive much Western attention—were it not for Aung San Suu Kyi, the dissident-turned-de-facto-ruler. But unlike in the past, the stories about her are not so flattering now. In fact, they seem directly at odds with the moral leadership that won her the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.
That prize, and her quiet perseverance (including years of house arrest) against Burma’s ruling military junta, turned Suu Kyi into something resembling a secular saint. Yet now that she has risen to power, and the Burmese state that she leads appears to be overseeing the bloody removal of Rohingya Muslims, her legacy seems different. What happens when a Nobel Peace Prize winner oversees a government committing atrocities?
Its faith-based 12-step program dominates treatment in the United States. But researchers have debunked central tenets of AA doctrine and found dozens of other treatments more effective.
J.G. is a lawyer in his early 30s. He’s a fast talker and has the lean, sinewy build of a distance runner. His choice of profession seems preordained, as he speaks in fully formed paragraphs, his thoughts organized by topic sentences. He’s also a worrier—a big one—who for years used alcohol to soothe his anxiety.
J.G. started drinking at 15, when he and a friend experimented in his parents’ liquor cabinet. He favored gin and whiskey but drank whatever he thought his parents would miss the least. He discovered beer, too, and loved the earthy, bitter taste on his tongue when he took his first cold sip.
His drinking increased through college and into law school. He could, and occasionally did, pull back, going cold turkey for weeks at a time. But nothing quieted his anxious mind like booze, and when he didn’t drink, he didn’t sleep. After four or six weeks dry, he’d be back at the liquor store.