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.
Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention reportedly chose to protect their denomination by hiding abuse—and then attempted to destroy the victims.
“I knew it was rotten, but it’s astonishing and infuriating. This is a denomination that is through and through about power. It is misappropriated power. It does not in any way reflect the Jesus I see in the scriptures. I am so gutted.”
That’s what Jennifer Lyell, a survivor who was an executive at the Southern Baptist Convention and whose story of sexual abuse at a Southern Baptist seminary is detailed in a devastating 288-page report by Guidepost Solutions, toldThe Washington Post.
The report concludes that for almost two decades, the men who ran the SBC’s executive committee, which oversees the day-to-day operations of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, lied, engaged in cover-ups, sided with those who were credibly accused of abuse, and vilified victims of abuse. Past presidents of the convention and a former vice president allegedly protected and supported accused abusers. A Southern Baptist pastor who had been a senior vice president of the SBC’s missions arm was credibly accused of assaulting a woman, the report finds. The trail of horrors goes on and on.
Of all the objections NIMBYs raise to new housing and infrastructure, perhaps the most risible is that their community is already too crowded.
Some propositions are so obvious that no one takes the time to defend them. A few such propositions are that human life is good, that people can and often do provide more benefits to the world than they take away, and that we should design society to support people in leading lives that are good for themselves and others.
These ideas came under attack, sometimes subtly and sometimes overtly, by environmentalists in the 20th century who were worried about overpopulation. Although major organizations have abandoned population management as an explicit policy goal, the underlying fear that too many people are running up on the limits of too few resources and Well shouldn’t someone do something about that? has never fully been rooted out of American political thought. It is alive and well among NIMBYs. Of all the objections people raise to new housing and infrastructure, perhaps the most risible is that their community is already too crowded. Some even suggest that municipalities should limit housing supply explicitly tocombat population growth.
The teenagers are not all right, but then again, neither are the adults. Pandemic life has been profoundly jarring, and every generation has felt it. I hear about people fighting on airplanes and an increase in violent crimes, then I attend my Alcoholics Anonymous meetings on Zoom and try to figure out why going back to “normal” is so hard. My 80-year-old mother never got COVID-19, but more than two years of sitting at home seems to have hastened her descent into dementia. Meanwhile, many young children are struggling to keep up with their education or even learn how to socialize.
Now imagine what this moment must be like for teenagers. In December, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued a warning: Pandemic-related death, fear, loneliness, and economic uncertainty have worsened “the unprecedented stresses young people already faced.” It makes sense. Between unfamiliar hormones and trying to figure out who you are in the world, being a teen has always been incredibly hard. Pandemic teenagehood is even worse. Recently, I was reading a story in The New Yorker about child suicide when I learned that a friend of a friend’s teenager had died by suicide. I felt sick.
In the 1960s, the capital was an alluring but dangerous place for people with a secret.
On November 23, 1963, the morning after he swore the oath of office in an impromptu ceremony aboard Air Force One, President Lyndon B. Johnson called Bob Waldron to commiserate about the colossal burden that had just been placed upon his shoulders.
A native of Arp, Texas, a town of fewer than 1,000 inhabitants some 125 miles east of the city where Johnson’s predecessor, John F. Kennedy, had just been assassinated, Waldron, 36, was an administrative assistant for Representative Homer Thornberry, Johnson’s heir to the Tenth Congressional District seat in Texas. Waldron had moved to Washington in 1955. By 1959, though technically still in Thornberry’s employ, he had essentially become a member of Johnson’s Senate staff, one of several people whom allies and benefactors “loaned” to the then–Senate majority leader during his decades-long political rise. Johnson had initially recruited Waldron for his quick note-taking skills, but he soon became something much more significant: a combination of aide, travel companion, and personal confidant. Waldron’s role gradually expanded to “body man,” that term for an all-purpose gofer so particular to Washington—where some in positions of authority view menial tasks such as inserting contact lenses and picking their daily wardrobe as beneath their dignity. In time, Waldron became a fixture in Johnson’s retinue outside the office, once attending dinner at the Johnson home, by his own estimate, 14 nights in a row.
Hundreds of thousands of deaths, from either tobacco or the pandemic, could be prevented with a single behavioral change.
It’s suddenly become acceptable to say that COVID is—or will soon be—like the flu. Such analogies have long been the preserve of pandemic minimizers, but lately they’ve been creeping into more enlightened circles. Last month the dean of a medical school wrote an open letter to his students suggesting that for a vaccinated person, the risk of death from COVID-19 is “in the same realm, or even lower, as the average American’s risk from flu.” A few days later, David Leonhardt said as much to his millions of readers in the The New York Times’ morning newsletter. And three prominent public-health experts have called for the government to recognize a “new normal” in which the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus “is but one of several circulating respiratory viruses that include influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and more.”
As in Europe, where Vladimir Putin’s assault is uniting the region against him, so too in Asia is an aggressive Beijing entrenching American power.
If President Joe Biden’s trip to Asia—marked as it was by his comments on the defense of Taiwan, announcements on a proposed new regional trade pact, and meetings with leaders who exhibit similar levels of concern about a rising China—has shown the persistence of American global power, it has also revealed something of equal importance: Beijing’s failure to translate economic might into political dominance, even in its own backyard.
Biden today concluded a summit of the leaders of the Quad—a security partnership including Australia, India, Japan, and the United States—who issued a joint statement chockablock with references to promoting democracy, a rules-based global order, and peaceful resolution of disputes. That came a day after Biden announced the formation of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, a partnership with 13 countries as diverse as South Korea, Vietnam, and New Zealand. Notably absent from all of this was China. Biden’s trip exhibited Washington’s continued ability to rally other nations behind its standard, and in initiatives overtly targeted against the region’s supposedly rising superpower.
As COVID numbers tick up, hospitals are supposed to be ready to jump in as needed. Only, they never really had a reprieve.
For weeks now, as COVID-19 cases have ticked upward in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, pundits and political leaders have offered a supposedly reassuring refrain: Cases might be climbing, but hospitalizations aren’t yet following suit. In some places, that has been true. Several health-care workers around the country told me they’re seeing the lowest caseloads since last summer. A few aren’t having to treat COVID patients at all. Others are only seeing mildly sick people who need little more than IV fluids. “I don’t think there’s a huge amount of anxiety over what the next month might bring,” Debra Poutsiaka, an infectious-disease specialist at Tufts Medical Center, told me. “I could be wrong. I hope not.”
Yesterday, at 4 p.m. eastern time, the Southern Baptist Convention released a comprehensive, independent report of its executive committee’s response to decades of sex-abuse allegations. The SBC is the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, by far. It is the nation’s most powerful and influential evangelical denomination, by far. Its 14 million members help define the culture and ethos of American evangelicalism.
Last June delegates, called “messengers,” to the SBC’s annual convention responded to proliferating reports of inadequate or corrupt responses to sex-abuse allegations by voting overwhelmingly to commission an external review of their own leaders. The executive committee hired a firm called Guidepost to conduct the investigation.
Offering the Russian president a face-saving compromise will only enable future aggression.
The expression off-ramp has a pleasing physicality, evoking a thing that can be constructed out of concrete and steel. But at the moment, anyone talking about an off-ramp in Ukraine—and many people are doing so, in governments, on radio stations, in a million private arguments—is using the term metaphorically, referring to a deal that could persuade Vladimir Putin to halt his invasion. Some believe that such an off-ramp could easily be built if only diplomats were willing to make the effort, or if only the White House weren’t so bellicose. It’s a nice idea. Unfortunately, the assumptions that underlie that belief are wrong.
The first assumption is that Russia’s president wants to end the war, that he needs an off-ramp, and that he is actually searching for a way to save face and to avoid, in French President Emmanuel Macron’s words, further “humiliation.” It is true that Putin’s army has performed badly, that Russian troops unexpectedly retreated from northern Ukraine, and that they have, at least temporarily, given up the idea of destroying the Ukrainian state. They suffered far greater casualties than anyone expected, lost impressive quantities of equipment, and demonstrated more logistical incompetence than most experts thought possible. But they have now regrouped in eastern and southern Ukraine, where their goals remain audacious: They seek to wear down Ukrainian troops, wear out Ukraine’s international partners, and exhaust the Ukrainian economy, which may already have contracted by as much as half.
Our original-recipe shots are holding up against new variants. But we may need to improve them, and soon.
For the past year and a half, since the COVID-19 vaccines first became available—even as last summer’s reprieve gave way to Delta’s surge, then Omicron’s; even as the coronavirus continued to rack up mutations that lifted its speed and its stealth; even as millions of vaccinated Americans caught the pathogen and passed it on—there’s been one huge slice of solace to cling to: The shots we have are still doing an excellent job of staving off severe disease and death.
Billions of people around the world have now been dosed at least once, twice, or thrice; the shots have saved hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives, in the United States alone—and they probably could have saved hundreds of thousands more, had more people rolled up their sleeves. “We’re so much better off than where we were in 2020, when nobody had any immunity,” says Donna Farber, an immunologist at Columbia University. It feels, in some ways, like gazing down the side of a mountain we’ve been trekking up for a good 30 months: A nice, stubborn buffer of elevation now lies between us and the bottom, the sea-level status of no protection at all. The body’s defenses against severe disease are immunological bedrock—once cemented, they’re quite difficult to erode. Even as the fast-mutating virus pushes down from above, our footing has, for more than a year now, felt solid, and the ground beneath us unlikely to give.