—Iraqi government forces and Kurdish militia launched a new operation Sunday near Mosul, the Iraqi city that has been held by Islamic State militants since 2014.
—Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump vowed to take legal action against the women who have accused him of sexual assault or other similar behavior. “All of these liars will be sued once the election is over,” Trump said during a speech Saturday in Pennsylvania. He added later: “I look so forward to doing that.” More here.
—We’re live-blogging the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -4).
Spain's Socialist Party has agreed to allow the conservative Popular Party to form a new government, ending months of political stalemate that began late last year after an inconclusive election.
Socialist Party leaders decided Sunday not to block the election of Mariano Rajoy, the Popular Party’s leader, as prime minister. The Socialist Party, commonly known by the abbreviation PSOE, voted 139 to 96 in favor of abstaining from the parliamentary vote, which was scheduled for next weekend. The decision means Rajoy will remain in the office of prime minister, which he has held on an acting basis since December 2015. His Popular Party gained the most votes in national elections in December and June, but did not win an overall majority. PSOE came in second in both elections. Rajoy has served as acting prime minister since.
Mr. Rajoy will have to lead a minority conservative government that faces serious territorial and budgetary challenges. Spain has been threatened with a European Union fine for failing to meet deficit targets agreed with Brussels. And the separatist regional government in Catalonia has pledged to hold an independence referendum in 2017, despite fierce opposition from Madrid and Spanish courts.
PSOE’s decision allows the country to avoid a third election in less than a year. Earlier this month, PSOE forced out its leader, Pedro Sanchez, because he was opposed against a vote of abstention that would cement Rajoy's government.
At least 13 people were killed and more than 30 were injured Sunday in California when a tour bus collided with a tractor-trailer.
The accident occurred at about 5 a.m. local time on Interstate 10, near Palm Springs, police said. Most of the victims were sitting in the front of the bus, which officials say was traveling at “a significant speed” when it hit the back of the truck. Photos from the scene show the front of the bus was destroyed.
The cause of the collision is not yet known. The driver was among the fatalities.
Desert Regional Medical Center, which has the Coachella Valley’s only trauma center, received 14 adult patients, including five who were in critical condition, said public information officer Richard Ramhoff.
Eisenhower Medical Center received 11 adult patients, all with minor injuries, said public information officer Lee Rice.
John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital received five adult patients with minor injuries, including neck strain and cuts and abrasions, said nursing supervisor Stephen Williams.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident.
A worker in Qatar has died during a construction accident at a stadium being built for the country's World Cup tournament in 2022.
The worker died Saturday morning at Al Wakrah Stadium, a 40,000-capacity venue scheduled to be completed by 2018, according to the AP. Officials did not identify the worker, but said his family has been notified. Qatar has previously reported three deaths at building sites for the soccer competition, but said those were not "work-related,"
Human-rights groups have accused Qatar of abusing the labor force behind the tournament, mostly migrant workers from other countries. This spring, Amnesty International interviewed more than 200 mostly South Asian migrants and found that workers were threatened for complaining about poor working conditions and were underpaid or sometimes not paid at all. FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, has also received criticism; human-rights say the organization has ignored allegations of mistreatment of workers in Qatar.
Qatar is building and renovating eight new stadiums for the 2022 tournament, the first time the World Cup will be held in the Middle East.
Iraqi and Kurdish forces launched a new military offensive Sunday on a town near Mosul, the ISIS-held Iraqi city, the AP reports.
The groups have been battling Islamic State militants around Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, over the last week in an attempt to wrest control from the terror organization, which seized it more than two years ago. The operation involves more than 25,000 Iraqi ground forces, advised by U.S. special forces and backed by U.S.-led coalition air strikes.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrived in Irbil Sunday to meet with Kurdish leaders and U.S. servicemembers, after visiting Baghdad on Saturday to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Carter praised the Kurdish forces, who are known as peshmerga, and acknowledged the casualties they’ve suffered in the fight for Mosul. More from the AP:
Peshmerga Brig. Gen. Halgord Hekmet, a spokesman for the Kurdish forces, told reporters that 25 of their troops have been killed since the battle to retake Mosul began and a "large number" had been wounded. Speaking through an interpreter, he said the peshmerga have had good coalition air support, but could use more military resources, especially armored vehicles.
He said that most of the fallen peshmerga were riding in regular cars and were more vulnerable. A second priority, he said, would be more devices to help detect roadside bombs.
The operation to retake Mosul from ISIS is expected to take weeks or months.
Of all the injuries we suffered, mine is the worst. My brain injury has shaken my confidence in my own personality, my own existence.
The worst things can happen on the most beautiful days. My family’s worst day was a perfect one in the summer of 2019. We picked my daughter up from camp and talked about where to go for lunch: the diner or the burger place. I don’t remember which we chose. What I do remember: being woken up, again and again, by doctors who insist on asking me the same questions—my name, where I am, what month it is—and telling me the same story, a story that I am sure is wrong.
“You were in a car accident,” they say. But this cannot be. We’re having lunch and then going on a hike. I had promised the think tank where I work that I’d call in to a 4 p.m. meeting.
“You are in Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital in New Hampshire.” Another ludicrous statement. I started the day in Vermont. Surely if I had crossed the river to New Hampshire I would know it.
Leagues are seeing the downside of treating vaccines as simply a matter of personal choice.
When the NBA announced Wednesday that Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul was being sidelined indefinitely under the league’s coronavirus-safety protocols, the next question was obvious: Had Paul been vaccinated?
For COVID-19 concerns to interrupt Paul’s brilliant playoff run seemed particularly cruel—not only because the widespread availability of vaccines has made transmission of the virus largely preventable, but also because the Suns had just secured a spot in the Western Conference finals. Even though Paul is one of the best NBA point guards ever, this week’s development was another unfortunate entry in his long history of medical problems during the playoffs.
The television analysts Matt Barnes and Jalen Rose, both of whom are former NBA players, soon reported that Paul had indeed been vaccinated. But all the discussion of his status raised another important question: Do fans even have the right to know, and do journalists have the right to ask, if a player has been vaccinated against COVID-19?
Reducing hours without reducing pay would reignite an essential but long-forgotten moral project: making American life less about work.
The 89 people who work at Buffer, a company that makes social-media management tools, are used to having an unconventional employer. Everyone’s salary, including the CEO’s, is public. All employees work remotely; their only office closed down six years ago. And as a perk, Buffer pays for any books employees want to buy for themselves.
So perhaps it is unsurprising that last year, when the pandemic obliterated countless workers’ work-life balance and mental health, Buffer responded in a way that few other companies did: It gave employees an extra day off each week, without reducing pay—an experiment that’s still running a year later. “It has been such a godsend,” Essence Muhammad, a customer-support agent at Buffer, told me.
Some of the colors we see on creatures such as blue jays and poison-dart frogs aren’t created by pigments at all.
Peacocks, panther chameleons, scarlet macaws, clown fish, toucans, blue-ringed octopuses, and so many more: The animal kingdom has countless denizens with extraordinarily colorful beauty. But in many cases, scientists know much more about how the animals use their colors than about how they make them. New work continues to reveal those secrets, which often depend on the fantastically precise self-assembly of minuscule features in and on the feathers, scales, hair, and skin—a fact that makes the answers intensely interesting to soft-matter physicists and engineers in the photonics industry.
Many of the colors seen in nature, particularly in the plant kingdom, are produced by pigments, which reflect a portion of the light spectrum while absorbing the rest. Green pigments like chlorophyll reflect the green part of the spectrum but absorb the longer red and yellow wavelengths as well as the shorter blue ones. Which specific wavelengths get reflected or absorbed depends on the pigment’s molecular makeup and the exact distances between the atoms in its molecular structures.
People in the United States no longer agree on the nation’s purpose, values, history, or meaning. Is reconciliation possible?
Nations, like individuals, tell stories in order to understand what they are, where they come from, and what they want to be. National narratives, like personal ones, are prone to sentimentality, grievance, pride, shame, self-blindness. There is never just one—they compete and constantly change. The most durable narratives are not the ones that stand up best to fact-checking. They’re the ones that address our deepest needs and desires. Americans know by now that democracy depends on a baseline of shared reality—when facts become fungible, we’re lost. But just as no one can live a happy and productive life in nonstop self-criticism, nations require more than facts—they need stories that convey a moral identity. The long gaze in the mirror has to end in self-respect or it will swallow us up.
A common ideology underlies the practices of many ultra-wealthy people: The government can’t be trusted with money.
When ProPublica published its report last week on the tax profiles of 25 of the richest Americans, jaws dropped across the United States. How was it possible that plutocrats such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett could pay nothing in income taxes to the federal government? What sneaky sleights of pen, what subterfuge, what acts of turpitude could have led to this result?
The shock stems, in part, from a disturbing reality: Nowhere does ProPublica assert that these men cheated, lied, or did anything felonious to lower their tax burdens. The naked fact of the matter is that not a single one of the documented methods and practices that allowed these billionaires to so radically minimize their tax obligations was illegal.
There’s no way of knowing how bad things will get in the U.S. In a way, that’s a luxury.
This much is clear: The coronavirus is becoming more transmissible. Ever since the virus emerged in China, it has been gaining mutations that help it spread more easily among humans. The Alpha variant, first detected in the United Kingdom last year, is 50 percent more transmissible than the original version, and now the Delta variant, first detected in India, is at least 40 percent more transmissible than Alpha.
What’s less certain, however, is how the virus’s increased transmissibility will affect the pandemic in the United States. Alpha’s arrival prompted worries about a new surge in the spring, but one never came. The proportion of Alpha cases kept going up, but the total number of cases kept going down. People got vaccinated. Alpha became dominant in the U.S. Cases fell even further. The virus had become more biologically transmissible, but it wasn’t being transmitted to more people.
On the heels of WandaVision, two new series—Kevin Can F**k Himself and Physical—explore how pop culture can limit the roles that women play in real life.
The creators of Kevin Can F**k Himself have yet to go on the record about this, but they’re clearly tired of lopsided sitcom marriages. The series, with its pointed title, seems to be a roast of shows starring the comedian Kevin James over the years, such as TheKing of Queens; notably, his characters’ spouses didn’t have lives of their own outside of doting on him. (One even got unceremoniously written out off-screen between the first and second seasons.) Kevin’s protagonist, Allison (played by Annie Murphy of Schitt’s Creek), takes after those long-suffering wives: She flits along the edges of the frame, ever dutiful and understanding of her husband,Kevin (Eric Petersen), in spite of his childish antics and myriad jokes at her expense.
Kodak changed the way Americans saw themselves and their country. But it struggled to reinvent itself for the digital age.
Above, clockwise from bottom-right: Kodak founder George Eastman takes a picture, circa 1925. High Falls in Rochester, New York, Kodak’s hometown. Postcard of the Kodak Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair, 1964. FIGHT, a group seeking to change Kodak’s hiring practices, protests at a shareholders’ meeting, 1967.
This article was published online on June 16, 2021.
When I was in fifth grade, my class took a field trip to the George Eastman Museum, in Rochester, New York, as the fifth graders at my rural elementary school, 30 minutes south of the city, did every year. Housed in a Colonial Revival mansion built for the founder of the Eastman Kodak Company in 1905, the museum is home to one of the most significant photography and film collections in the world. But our job there was to stare at old cameras the size of our bodies, marvel at the luxury of having a pipe organ in your house, and write down what a daguerreotype is to prove that we’d been paying attention. At the end of the tour—in a second-story sitting room full of personal artifacts—we were presented, matter-of-factly, with a copy of Eastman’s suicide letter, dated March 14, 1932: “My work is done. Why wait?” Eastman shot himself in the heart with a Luger pistol at the age of 77.
To get better sleep, stop treating it like a chore.
“How to Build a Life” is a weekly column by Arthur Brooks, tackling questions of meaning and happiness.
For many people, the cruelest part of daily life is the transition between wakefulness and sleep. When you should be sleeping, you want to be awake; when you should be awake, you want to stay asleep. It is easy to regard sleep as a torment: hard to attain and then hard to give up, day after day after day.
According to the CDC, about 70 million Americans have chronic sleep problems. Insomnia affects between a third and a half of U.S. adults at one point or another. And we Americans are not unusually afflicted—one 2016 study reported that worldwide, 10 to 30 percent of the population experiences insomnia; some studies find rates as high as 50 to 60 percent.