Leonard Cohen, the singer known for his deep voice and poetic lyrics, died Thursday. He was 82.
It is unclear how the songwriter died. Announcing his death, Sony Music Canada said in a statement:
We have lost one of music's most revered and prolific visionaries.
Cohen, born in Quebec in 1934 and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, was remembered by Rolling Stone as “the songwriter’s songwriter,” adding:
Cohen was the dark eminence among a small pantheon of extremely influential singer-songwriters to emerge in the Sixties and early Seventies. Only Bob Dylan exerted a more profound influence upon his generation, and perhaps only Paul Simon and fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell equaled him as a song poet.
There will a memorial service in Los Angeles. The date will be announced later.
This Newly Discovered Dinosaur Fossil Was Almost Blown Up by Dynamite
Construction workers in China using dynamite to clear a rocky area almost blew up a well-preserved dinosaur fossil before realizing their discovery, according to a paper published in Scientific Reports on Thursday.
The fossil constitutes a newly discovered dinosaur species. Scientists speculate that the creature died while stuck in mud, which explains its awkward body position; the dinosaur’s limbs are splayed and its head and neck are raised. They estimate that it lived about 66 to 72 million years ago during the final era before dinosaurs became extinct.
Because of those qualities, scientists named the dinosaur species “Tongtianlong limosus,” a mix of Chinese and Latin that means “muddy dragon on the road to heaven.”
Tongtianlong limosus is part of a branch of dinosaurs called Oviraptorosaurs, or bird-like feathered theropods with toothless skulls found in the Ganzhou area of China. The Tongtianlong limosus is different from other Oviraptorosaurs because of its “unique dome-like skull roof” and “highly convex premaxilla,” referring to the cranial bone near the upper jaw, the scientists write.
The fossil was discovered during construction of a new high school. Workers nearly destroyed it, and parts of the fossil are missing due to dynamite. A drill hole where TNT was placed can be seen near the pelvic girdle of the fossil.
"It was found at a construction site by workmen when they were dynamiting, so they nearly blasted this thing off the hillside," University of Edinburgh paleontologist Stephen Brusatte, a co-author on the paper, told the BBC.
'Pharma Bro' Is Trolling Everyone But at Least They Get Wu-Tang Clan Out of It
Say what you will about Martin Shkreli, but the controversial pharmaceutical CEO kept his word.
Two weeks ago, the executive better known as “Pharma Bro” promised to release music from the $2 million Wu-Tang Clan album he bought at a secret auction last year—but only if Donald Trump won the election. Early Wednesday morning, he followed through on his promise and live-streamed the the album’s introduction in a video early Wednesday morning.
“I’ll be releasing this music over a long period of time, but let me play at least a little bit of it now,” he said. (The music begins at 7:00 in the video below.)
Shkreli became well-known last September after his drug company Turing Pharmaceuticals bought the drug Daraprim, which is typically used to treat infections in HIV patients. Shkreli raised the price of the drug from $13.50 per pill to $750, a dramatic example of price-gouging that drew widespread criticism. He was arrested in December on securities fraud charges and was released on $5 million bail.
During the controversy over the price hike, Shkreli bought the only known copy of the Wu-Tang Clan’s latest album “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin” at auction for $2 million. As part of that purchase, Shkreli was legally barred from releasing the music commercially for 88 years.
"I actually have a contract with the Wu-Tang Clan where I'm not allowed to do this,” he said in the video on Wednesday. “Obviously, I own the music and I bought it and paid a lot of money for it. In many ways, the contract shouldn't matter that much. But I am a man of my word; I had to play a little bit of it … but I've got to keep my word to them, too."
The Polish Army Is Teaching Women Self-Defense for Free
Women in Poland will soon be eligible to enroll in free self-defense training, the country’s national defense ministry announced Thursday.
The training, offered in 30 cities, includes eight free courses led by Polish army instructors aimed at teaching women techniques to defend themselves “in various situations that threaten their life or health,” including hand-to-hand combat and self-defense. The course will be offered to Polish women over the age of 18 who are considered in good health. The program is expected to run beginning November 19 until June 3.
Antoni Macierewicz, the country’s defense minister, told the BBC the program seeks to equip women with “basic fighting techniques and improve overall physical fitness.”
A day after several states voted to relax their marijuana laws, the union that represents NFL players has announced it will research the use of the drug in pain management.
The NFL Players Association has created a committee to study the use of marijuana as a pain-management strategy for football players, as well as consider whether the league should change its rules on legal substances, The Washington Postreported Wednesday. The union didn’t provide information about the research process.
On Tuesday, residents in California, Massachusetts, and Nevada voted to legalize recreational marijuana, following similar measures in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia in previous elections. Voters in Maine, Florida, Arkansas, and North Dakota approved ballots measures to legalize marijuana for medical use. Research has shown marijuana use is helpful in managing pain.
The drug policy negotiated between the NFL and the players’ union prohibits the use of marijuana for any reason. Players are tested throughout the season and can be fined or suspended for violating the drug policy.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said on Wednesday the league would continue to listen to the advice of its medical experts, who haven’t recommended changing the league’s policy.
The increased interest in marijuana’s pain-management effects comes amid increased scrutiny on opioid painkillers like Vicodin. The use of team-administered opioids for pain management is relatively common in NFL locker rooms. In recent years, a number of football players, including former offensive lineman Eugene Monroe, have expressed support for medical marijuana to treat pain as a replacement for opioid painkillers.
According to a recent survey in ESPN magazine, 59 percent of NFL players said they worry about the long-term effects of painkillers, and 61 percent said they believed fewer players would use painkillers if marijuana were allowed.
Eastern Aleppo Faces Mass Starvation as Food Rations Run Out
The last available food rations are being distributed by aid workers in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, the United Nations said Thursday, warning the 275,000 people remaining could face mass starvation without a resupply.
“I don’t think anyone wants a quarter of a million people to be starving in east Aleppo,” Jan Egeland, the UN’s humanitarian adviser for Syria, told journalists Thursday in Geneva.
The last time a humanitarian-relief delivery was permitted to eastern neighborhoods of the city was in July, Egeland said, noting that food prices had skyrocketed. Since then, the UN presented a proposal to all sides that would involve food- and medical-aid distribution, as well as medical evacuations and access to the city by medical personnel—a deal Egeland said he was optimistic the Syrian government and rebel forces would accept.
Access to the besieged city by humanitarian agencies has been limited since the Syrian government, backed by Russian forces, resumed its offensive to retake rebel-held parts of the city, which has been divided since 2011. Though Moscow and Damascus have declared unilateral “humanitarian pauses” to allow civilians and rebels remaining in the city to evacuate, few have left.
The U.S. Military Releases New Estimates of Civilian Deaths in Air Strikes
U.S air strikes in Syria and Iraq killed 64 civilians between November 2015 and September 2016 during operations against the Islamic State, the U.S. military said in a statement Wednesday, a figure much lower than the one humanitarian groups have reported.
"In each of the cases released today, the assessment determined that although all feasible precautions were taken and strikes complied with laws of armed conflict, civilian casualties unfortunately did occur,” said Colonel John Thomas, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command.
The U.S. conducted 24 air strikes in the timeframe reported. The report brings the total number of civilians the Pentagon has acknowledged have died since the U.S.-led coalition started bombing ISIS in 2014 to 119. The numbers of people killed in a single strike ranged from one to 10. The most recent, publicly reported strike occurred September 10, near Raqqa, Syria, which killed five people.
Human-rights group Amnesty International said last month that in the battle against ISIS at least 300 people have died over the past two years in just 11 strikes.
The U.S. has conducted 12,354 air strikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria as of this month, according to Reuters.
“I guess ruining Brooklyn was just a dry run,” she said in her post-election segment. “The Caucasian nation showed up in droves to vote for Trump, so I don’t want to hear a goddamned word about black voter turnout. How many times do we expect black people to build our country for us?”
On TBS’s Conan, admitted history buff Conan O’Brien initially took a serious tone and praised the American system of democracy.
“Everybody should feel grateful that we get to vote, and if we don’t get our way, we have the chance to try again,” O’Brien said. “It is a beautiful thing.”
He then went for laughs with a “silly and completely pointless” diversion, “The Really Tall Dachshund.”
On The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon stuck to his routine of one-liners, riffing on Trump’s victory.
“Republicans hope he’ll keep his promise to build a wall, and Democrats hope he’ll keep his promise not to accept the election results,” he said, according toThe New York Times.
On Late Night with Seth Meyers, who famously lampooned Trump during the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner, Myers re-upped his plan to give Trump a 13-episode TV show about a fake president if he would drop out of the race. Meyers pushed that offer up to 22 episodes on Wednesday night, and said he would even give it a prime slot right after The Voice.
“After last night’s results, I just want to say to Donald Trump: Our offer still stands,” Meyers said. “You didn’t think you were going to win this thing either, and I’m guessing that right now you are spinning out.”
Coast to coast, in more than a dozen major cities, protesters against the presidential election of Donald Trump shut down highways, burned effigies, burned cars, and also held calm candlelight vigils. The rallies all shared a common theme: that Trump’s comments during his campaign do not represent the U.S.
The rallies were held in Portland, Oregon; Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Washington, D.C., and many others. Police arrested dozens of people. At the Oakland, California, protest, where about 7,000 people joined, two officers were injured and two patrol cars set afire. In Los Angeles, protesters chanted outside City Hall, where they lit a giant effigy of Trump’s head on fire. In both Oakland and Los Angeles, protesters shut down freeways until the early morning. Police in riot gear were called in to disperse the crowds.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and President Obama asked their supporters on Wednesday to give Trump a chance, and to peacefully allow a transition of power. Everyone, Clinton said, is “rooting for his success.”
As much of the protesters expressed anger, though, they also were fearful. Some in New York, outside Trump Tower, where Trump lives, told The New York Timesthey feared their family members might be deported. Another protester told theLos Angeles Times he feared the anti-LGBT sentiments of some Trump supporters. In Washington, D.C., protesters at a candlelight vigil and some held a glowing banner that read: “Love Trumps Hate.”
Indians Line Up at Banks After Surprise Currency Announcement
Indians lined up in banks across the country to trade their no-long-valid 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee notes, which were scrapped Tuesday by a government fiat.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to scrap the two largest denominations is an attempt by the government to battle corruption, tax evasion, counterfeiting, and “black money,” the term used locally to describe a parallel economy that some estimates say accounts for as much as 20 percent of India’s $2 trillion gross domestic product. Cash use is ubiquitous in India, accounting for more than 90 percent of all transactions. Indians rely on rupee notes to buy everything from packets of salt, to street food, to multimillion-dollar apartments, and to finance elections. And no rupee notes are more heavily relied upon than the two scrapped—500 rupees (about $7.50) and 1,000 rupees ($15.05). Together they accounts for an estimated 85 percent of all cash transactions in India.
Indians have until December 30 to swap the old notes for new 2,000-rupee (about $30) and 500-rupee notes that have security features.
At 3 a.m. I’m jolted awake. The room is dark and still. I grab my phone and scan sports scores and Twitter. Still awake. A faceless physician whispers in my mind: To overcome middle-of-the-night insomnia, experts say you ought to get out of bed … I get out of bed. I pour a glass of water and drink it. I go back to bed. Still awake. Perhaps you know the feeling. Like millions of Americans and hundreds of millions of people around the world, I suffer from so-called mid-sleep awakenings that can keep me up for hours.
One day, I was researching my nocturnal issues when I discovered a cottage industry of writers and sleep hackers who claim that sleep is a nightmare because of the industrial revolution, of all things. Essays in The Guardian, CNN, The New York Times, and The New York Times Magazine recommended an old fix for restlessness called “segmented sleep.” In premodern Europe, and perhaps centuries earlier, people routinely went to sleep around nightfall and woke up around midnight—only to go back to sleep a few hours later, until morning. They slept sort of like I do, but they were Zen about it. Then, the hackers claim, modernity came along and ruined everything by pressuring everybody to sleep in one big chunk.
Pour one out for Delta, the SARS-CoV-2 variant that Season 3 of the pandemic seems intent on killing off. After holding star billing through the summer and fall of 2021, Delta’s spent the past several weeks getting absolutely walloped by its feistier cousin Omicron—a virus that’s adept at both blitzing in and out of airways and dodging the antibodies that vaccines and other variants raise. In late November, Delta made up essentially all the SARS-CoV-2 infections that researchers were sequencing in the United States. Now it’s a measly 0.1 percent. As for the rest? It’s an Omicron show.
The global portrait’s a bit patchier, but by and large, “Delta won’t be able to compete,” Karthik Gangavarapu, a computational biologist at UCLA, told me. “My suspicion is that Omicron will take over.” It’s a fair shift from the tune many experts were singing just weeks ago, when they wonderedwhether Delta and Omicron might co-circulate in a vicious variant one-two punch. Katia Koelle, an evolutionary virologist at Emory University, told me she used to worry about that possibility when the world knew little about Omicron’s competitive edge, but “less so now.” Katie Gostic, an infectious-disease modeler at the University of Chicago, agrees that Delta’s doom is probably nigh. And if so, “good riddance,” she told me.
Russia-Ukraine is becoming a trial of strength between different parts of the conservative universe.
Night after night, the host of the top-rated show on Fox News repeats Vladimir Putin’s talking points justifying aggression against Ukraine and opposing U.S. aid to that threatened sovereign country. Tucker Carlson’s influence is felt across right-wing social media, where it is amplified by figures such as Steve Bannon, Mike Cernovich, Glenn Greenwald, and Mollie Hemingway. A highly visiblecoterie of socially conservative intellectuals also argues the case against helping Ukraine.
Old songs now represent 70 percent of the U.S. music market. Even worse: The new-music market is actually shrinking.
Old songs now represent 70 percent of the U.S. music market, according to the latest numbers from MRC Data, a music-analytics firm. Those who make a living from new music—especially that endangered species known as the working musician—should look at these figures with fear and trembling. But the news gets worse: The new-music market is actually shrinking. All the growth in the market is coming from old songs.
The 200 most popular new tracks now regularly account for less than 5 percent of total streams. That rate was twice as high just three years ago. The mix of songs actually purchased by consumers is even more tilted toward older music. The current list of most-downloaded tracks on iTunes is filled with the names of bands from the previous century, such as Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Police.
People seeking to obtain an exemption from the shot have found that some clergy see no theological foundation for an excusal.
Religious texts such as the Bible, the Torah, and the Quran don’t say anything about vaccines—of course, all three texts predate them by hundreds of years. So when faith leaders face questions about immunizations, they generally offer their own interpretations of the scriptures. Such questions, particularly about the applicability of religious exemptions, have become more urgent during the pandemic, forcing clergy to take hard stances for or against excusals.
Even though the Supreme Court recently struck down a federal vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses with more than 100 employees, many Americans still must receive a COVID-19 vaccine in order to resume in-person work. Some people are seeking ways to skirt the obligation, and religious exemptions, which stipulate that a person’s spiritual beliefs can free them from a medical requirement, present one way to do so. In private Facebook groups, for instance, people swap tips on how to convince employers that they don’t need a shot, while others are hiring consulting services for help obtaining an exemption. Many people requesting exemptions have tried to strengthen their case with a written statement from a religious leader, but to some clergy, agreeing to support a person’s claim feels unjustifiable. Instead, faith leaders I spoke with are trying to assuage congregants’ misgivings about the vaccines, and are pushing back against attempts to circumvent public-health measures with scripture.
The Bowlin family knew they had a history of malformations in the brain. But they had no idea how far back it went.
Of the three Bowlin sisters, Margaret, the middle one, was the first to show signs. She began having seizures as a toddler. Then the eldest, Bettina, had a brief and mysterious episode of weakness in her right hand. In 1986, as an adult, she had a two-week migraine that got so bad, she couldn’t hold food in her mouth or money in her right hand. The youngest, Susan, felt fine, but her parents still took her for an exam in 1989, when she was 19. A brain scan found abnormal clusters of blood vessels that, as it turned out, were in her sisters’ brains too. These malformations in the brain can be silent. But they can also leak or, worse, burst without warning, causing the seizures, migraines, and strokelike symptoms Bettina and Margaret experienced. If the bleeding in the brain gets bad enough, it can be deadly.
In attempting to succeed in the Trump-era Republican Party, some politicians are masquerading as what they imagine voters want, with results that ring almost comically false.
In 2013, Bobby Jindal, then the governor of Louisiana and a presidential hopeful, delivered some tough love to the Republican National Committee: “We must stop being the stupid party.” Specifically, he continued, “we must stop insulting the intelligence of voters. We need to trust the smarts of the American people. We have to stop dumbing down our ideas and stop reducing everything to mindless slogans and taglines for 30-second ads.”
Even in the pre-Trump GOP, this was a bracing message, but Jindal was the person to make it: Known for his wonkish mien, Jindal had graduated from Brown at 20, scored a Rhodes Scholarship, become the youngest president of the University of Louisiana system, and then won the governorship.
Years after these titles were popular, they’re still worth picking up.
Hundreds of thousands of books are published in the United States each year, and this dramatic influx of titles largely runs the calendars of the publishing and media industries—usually to the detriment of any work that isn’t brand new. Even best sellers or novels by famous authors get lost in the deluge, and books that were beloved on release can fall off readers’ radar quickly. But many were popular or critically acclaimed for good reasons, and they’re worth revisiting.
Here is a list of 15 fiction titles from the past two decades that you may have forgotten about in the years since. Some are from familiar names such as Kazuo Ishiguro, Margaret Atwood, and Louise Erdrich; others are by authors you may not have heard of at all. These selections include plenty of drama, and there’s an undercurrent of gentle comedy, even in novels with dark themes or plots. Their characters define love in many different ways, and they seek fulfillment across geographies and time periods—contemporary London, Vichy France, Nigeria, North Korea. Ultimately, these stories are bound together by a compassion for their characters’ struggles and shortcomings—a quality that only our finest writers are able to cultivate.
Just like exercise and sleep, engaging with the arts is a necessity for a full and happy life.
“How to Build a Life” is a weekly column by Arthur Brooks, tackling questions of meaning and happiness. Click here to listen to his podcast series on all things happiness, How to Build a Happy Life.
If someone asked whether you like the arts, you’d probably say you do—at least in theory. According to the advocacy group Americans for the Arts, more than two-thirds of U.S. adults say the arts “lift me up beyond everyday experiences.” Still, only 30 percent attended a concert of any type in 2017; 23 percent went to an art museum; 6 percent attended a literary event. Fewer than half actively created art of any kind.
The No. 1 reason for this mismatch between values and behaviors is, according to the National Endowment for the Arts, that we don’t have time for art—we are weighed down by our day-to-day responsibilities. Maybe you play a little background music while you work or do chores, but even before the pandemic, you rarely saw a live performance, let alone visited a gallery or watched a play. And reading poetry? Perhaps not since high school.
Robert Malone claims to have invented mRNA technology. Why is he trying so hard to undermine its use?
Updated at 3:00 p.m. ET on August 23, 2021
Robert Malone—a medical doctor and an infectious-disease researcher—recently suggested that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines might actually make COVID-19 infections worse. He chuckled as he imagined Anthony Fauci announcing that the vaccination campaign was all a big mistake (“Oh darn, I was wrong!”) and would need to be abandoned. When he floated that nightmare scenario during a recent podcast interview with Steve Bannon, both men seemed almost delighted at the prospect of public-health officials and pharmaceutical companies getting their comeuppance. “This is a catastrophe,” Bannon declared, beaming at his guest. “You’re hearing it from an individual who invented the mRNA [vaccine] and has dedicated his life to vaccines. He’s the opposite of an anti-vaxxer.”