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.
The next two years might be America’s last chance to protect the basic democratic principle of majority rule.
President Joe Biden came into office facing four “converging crises”: COVID-19, climate change, racial justice, and the economy. But after a few weeks of fast action on a pandemic relief plan, a fifth crisis will determine the fate of the rest of his administration, and perhaps that of American democracy itself: the minority-rule doom loop, by which predominantly white conservatives gain more and more power, even as they represent fewer Americans.
The doom loop consists of four interlocking components. Candidates who represent white conservatives—Republicans, in our ideologically sorted era—begin every election cycle buoyed by a sluice of voter suppression and gerrymandering (what I call electoral welfare), which makes it easier for them to win. Then antidemocratic features of the American system that have always existed but never benefited one party over the other in any systematic way help those same candidates take control of institutions such as the White House and the Senate, despite winning fewer votes and representing fewer people than their opponents. Once in control of these institutions, these newly elected officials use them to entrench their power beyond the reach of voters. If they are eventually voted out of power, they retain a veto over the agenda of the majority, which they use to block change and feed the conservative case that the government is “broken.” This hastens their return to power—along the very path they greased with voter suppression.
Workers are on the verge of going bonkers with their PTO.
Here’s a cool trick for blowing any American’s mind. Tell us that in France, so many boulangeries shut down for vacation every summer that it can be tough to snag a baguette. Bakers aren’t the only ones who get time off. In August, up to half of the country’s salaried employees have been known to take at least a full week off from work. Half!
Americans are good at lots of different things, but going on vacation is not one of them. Every year in parts of Europe, summer turns into a mini-sabbatical. In Norway, during the tradition of fellesferie, the nation simply shuts down for a few weeks of July fun. In Italy, so many people take the last two weeks of August off that Rome’s transit system runs on a reduced “festivi” schedule. Meanwhile, guess which industrialized country is the only one that doesn’t guarantee time off to its workers? Guess which country left 768 million vacation days on the table in 2018? Guess which country … arghhhhhhhh.
Image above: Glacier National Park, in Montana, as seen from the Blackfeet Reservation, near Duck Lake.
This article was published online on April 12, 2021.
I. The End Result of Dirty Business
In 1851, members of a California state militia called the Mariposa Battalion became the first white men to lay eyes on Yosemite Valley. The group was largely made up of miners. They had been scouring the western slopes of the Sierra when they happened upon the granite valley that Native peoples had long referred to as “the place of a gaping mouth.” Lafayette Bunnell, a physician attached to the militia, found himself awestruck. “None but those who have visited this most wonderful valley, can even imagine the feelings with which I looked upon the view,” he later wrote. “A peculiar exalted sensation seemed to fill my whole being, and I found my eyes in tears.” Many of those who have followed in Bunnell’s footsteps over the past 170 years, walking alongside the Merced River or gazing upon the god-rock of El Capitan, have been similarly struck by the sense that they were in the presence of the divine.
New market-rate development helps relieve pressure on local housing prices.
If you were intentionally designing a development to spark a NIMBY backlash, you might come up with something that looks a lot like 10 Clay. A brand new building located in Seattle’s formerly industrial Belltown neighborhood, it adheres to a modern aesthetic of poured concrete, muted tones, and floor-to-ceiling windows. True to form, the website for 10 Clay celebrates amenities such as granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Hosting 76 “micro units” and half as much parking, the project seems perfectly optimized to house the well-paid, single young professionals that companies such as Amazon have attracted to the city in droves.
Today, however, 10 Clay houses Seattlites earning roughly a third of the median income, most of whom have recently struggled with homelessness. As reported in Next City, thanks to a deal struck by a local affordable housing non-profit, those suffering the brunt of Seattle’s housing shortage—a crisis that leaves nearly 12,000 Seatellites homeless—now enjoy a safe place to call home.
People who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine will have higher health-care costs. The rest of us will foot the bill.
Imagine it’s 2026. A man shows up in an emergency room, wheezing. He’s got pneumonia, and it’s hitting him hard. He tells one of the doctors that he had COVID-19 a few years earlier, in late 2021. He had refused to get vaccinated, and ended up contracting the coronavirus months after most people got their shots. Why did he refuse? Something about politics, or pushing back on government control, or a post he saw on Facebook. He doesn’t really remember. His lungs do, though: By the end of the day, he’s on a ventilator.
You’ll pay for that man’s decisions. So will I. We all will—in insurance premiums, if he has a plan with your provider, or in tax dollars, if the emergency room he goes to is in a public hospital. The vaccine refusers could cost us billions. Maybe more, over the next few decades, with all the complications they could develop. And we can’t do anything about it except hope that more people get their shots than those who say they will right now.
In mid-1981 the U.S. Center for Disease Control noticed a set of medical curiosities: an alert from Los Angeles that five previously healthy young men had come down with a rare, fatal lung infection; almost simultaneously, a dermatologist in New York saying that he had seen a cluster of unusually aggressive cases of Kaposi’s sarcoma, an obscure skin cancer. These seemingly unconnected occurrences had two things in common. First, all of the victims were sexually active gay men. Second, their maladies pointed to a catastrophically compromised immune system.
About a month after those reports, a San Francisco weekly wrote that something it called “gay men’s pneumonia” was going around. By September 1982, there was a medical name for it: acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. The following May, scientists identified the retrovirus that was causing it: human immunodeficiency virus. HIV. It would take longer before it became clear who was at risk, how far the disease could spread, or what needed to be done to stop it.
Over the past year, Americans have lamented, loudly and publicly, the loss of many of the communal aspects of pre-pandemic life: eating inside restaurants without worry. Going to packed concerts and sporting events. Celebrating holidays and birthdays with lots of loved ones. Often in a quieter voice, Americans have also lamented a slightly different, less communal loss, one that’s trickier to mourn in the middle of a mass-casualty event. Like mani-pedis.
It’s not just mani-pedis, of course. People have yearned for indulgences corporeal and non-, the types of things that America’s puritanical streak warns against even in better times. The list includes a slew of beauty services that are just not the same at home, if they can even be reproduced there: eyebrow threading, balayage, hair braiding, maybe even a syringe of facial filler. Last March, the television host Kelly Ripa ignited a brief outrage conflagration by joking in an Instagram video (filmed from a chair at her cosmetic dermatologist’s office, while he cackled in the background) that the pandemic had given her an “acute Botox deficiency” that might be deadly.
On the morning of July 22, 2020, the Sierra Club’s executive director, Michael Brune, posted a reflection on his organization’s 128-year history. “As defenders of Black life pull down Confederate monuments across the country,” he wrote, “we must also take this moment to reexamine our past and our substantial role in perpetuating white supremacy.”
Brune’s reexamination began with John Muir—the inveterate hiker and activist who founded the Sierra Club and was famous for his eloquent tributes to the Sierra Nevada, many of which were first published in The Atlantic. Though Muir is a renowned figure in the conservation movement, Brune wrote, he made derogatory statements about Black and Indigenous people that drew on racist stereotypes. He maintained friendships with other prominent conservationists well known for their racist beliefs. These and other long-ago words and actions, Brune argued, not only continue to alienate potential Sierra Club supporters but sustain a “dangerous idea” within the organization: “that exploring, enjoying, and protecting the outdoors can be separated from human affairs.”
It’s late afternoon, late pandemic, and I’m watching a new nature documentary in bed, after taking the daintiest of hits from a weed pen. The show is called A Perfect Planet, and it is narrated by Sir David Attenborough.
I am looking at the red eye of a flamingo, a molten lake surrounding a tiny black pupil. Now I am looking at drone footage of a massive colony of flamingos, the classic sweeping overhead shot, what my brother calls “POV God.” Behind the images, a string orchestra sets the mood, giving the coral-pink birds an otherworldly theme in E minor.
Nature documentaries have never been more popular, in part because they offer easy escapism during a rough time, and in part because marijuana has been legalized in much of the United States. The combination is hard to resist, as my experience with A Perfect Planet proves. The stoned attention span perfectly matches the length of each vignette, in which Attenborough’s soothing, avuncular voice guides you through a simple story about animal life. In between, you are treated to epic, empty landscapes and intense close-ups of the rich colors and textures of the nonhuman world, which pop off like fireworks in your wide-open mind. The effect is awe-inspiring but also surprisingly chill. And there are no troublesome humans on-screen to kill the vibe.
If your social life is leaving you unfulfilled, you might have too many deal friends, and not enough real friends.
“How to Build a Life” is a weekly column by Arthur Brooks, tackling questions of meaning and happiness.
Arthur C. Brooks will discuss the science of happiness live at 11 a.m. ET on May 20. Register for In Pursuit of Happiness here.
Think for a minute about your friendships. Some friends you would text with any silly thought; others you only call a couple of times a year. Some are people you look up to; others you like, but do not especially admire. You fit into these categories for others as well—maybe you are helpful to one person, and a confidant to another. We get different things out of different relationships, which is all well and good.
There is one type of friend almost everyone has: the buddy who can help you get ahead in life, the friend from whom you need or want something. You don’t necessarily use this person—the benefit might be mutual—but the friendship’s core benefit is more than camaraderie.