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.
Will the danger mount each time, or will it fade away?
Two and a half years and billions of estimated infections into this pandemic, SARS-CoV-2’s visit has clearly turned into a permanent stay. Experts knew from early on that, for almost everyone, infection with this coronavirus would be inevitable. As James Hamblin memorably put it back in February 2020, “You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus.” By this point, in fact, most Americans have. But now, as wave after wave continues to pummel the globe, a grimmer reality is playing out. You’re not just likely to get the coronavirus. You’re likely to get it again and again and again.
“I personally know several individuals who have had COVID in almost every wave,” says Salim Abdool Karim, a clinical infectious-diseases epidemiologist and the director of the Center for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa, which has experienced fivemeticulouslytracked surges, and where just one-third of the population is vaccinated. Experts doubt that clip of reinfection—several times a year—will continue over the long term, given the continued ratcheting up of immunity and potential slowdown of variant emergence. But a more sluggish rate would still lead to lots of comeback cases. Aubree Gordon, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan, told me that her best guess for the future has the virus infiltrating each of us, on average, every three years or so. “Barring some intervention that really changes the landscape,” she said, “we will all get SARS-CoV-2 multiple times in our life.”
It used to dominate American fitness practice. Now it’s all but over.
When I think of a sit-up, my mind flashes immediately to the (carpeted, for some reason) floor of my elementary-school gym. Twice a week, our teachers marched us there for ritual humiliation and light calisthenics, and under the watchful gaze of a former football coach with a whistle perpetually dangling from his lips, we’d warm up with the moves we’d been told were the building blocks of physical fitness—jumping jacks, push-ups, toe touches, and, of course, sit-ups.
With rare exception, we were bad at sit-ups. We’d try our best, taking turns leaning on our partners’ toes as they threw their torsos up and forward for a count of 10. But kids are floppy creatures, and sit-ups are an especially floppy exercise. In gym class, our lower backs hunched, our necks strained, and our arms flew away from their cross-chest Dracula pose. Once a year, beginning in elementary school, the Presidential Fitness Test required us to do as many sit-ups in a minute as our little bodies could stand. Eventually we were introduced to crunches, a truncated variation of the sit-up that made our by-then-adolescent flailing a bit less dramatic.
The first time it happened, she said, she thought it was a joke. On the stand in her defamation trial a few weeks ago, the actor Amber Heard shared her account of the first time her now-ex-husband, Johnny Depp, allegedly hit her. She’d asked him about one of his tattoos: the one on his bicep (the one he’d famously had edited) that to her looked like a muddle of black ink. The tattoo spelled out wino, she said he told her. Thinking he was kidding—Depp had publicly struggled with substance abuse, and Heard claimed he’d been drinking that night—she laughed. And then, she alleged: “He slapped me across the face.” Her response, she testified, was to laugh some more. “I didn’t know what else to do. I thought, This must be a joke. This must be a joke. Because I didn’t know what was going on.”
Middle age is an opportunity to find transcendence.
“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.
The dirty secret of social scientists is that a lot of research is actually “me-search.” Many of us tend to study aspects of life that affect us personally, looking for solutions to our own issues. In that spirit, I celebrated my 58th birthday last week not with a toupee or red sports car, but rather by investigating how to have the best possible midlife crisis.
The midlife-crisis phenomenon has taken on almost mythic proportions in the American psyche over the past century. The term was first coined by the Canadian psychoanalyst Elliott Jaques, who noticed a pattern in the lives of “great men” in history: Many of them lost productivity—and even died—in their mid-to-late-30s, which was midlife in past centuries. The idea entered the popular consciousness in the 1970s when the author Gail Sheehy wrote her mega–best seller Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life. Sheehy argued that around the age of 40, both men and women tend to descend into a crisis about getting old, running out of time to meet their goals, and questioning life choices. She based her work on in-depth case interviews with 115 individuals, the most famous of whom was the auto entrepreneur John DeLorean. He went on to become infamous in 1982, when, at the age of 57, he was arrested for attempting to sell about 60 pounds of cocaine to undercover federal agents.
A disproportionate number of cases in the recent monkeypox outbreak have shown up among gay and bisexual men. And as public-health authorities investigate possible links to sexual or other close physical contact at a Pride event in the Canary Islands, a sauna in Madrid, and other gay venues in Europe, government officials are trying hard not to single out a group that endured terrible stigma at the height of America’s AIDS crisis.
“Experience shows that stigmatizing rhetoric can quickly disable evidence-based response by stoking cycles of fear, driving people away from health services, impeding efforts to identify cases, and encouraging ineffective, punitive measures,” Matthew Kavanagh, the deputy executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, recently said. For many years, following the outbreak of HIV, the fear of being judged or shamed has dissuaded some gay men from being tested.
Now, finally, the game is being changed. The government has ordered 20 million courses of Paxlovid, committing half of the $10 billion in additional COVID funding that is being negotiated in the Senate; and Pfizer says that the number of patients taking the drug increased by a factor of 10 between mid-February and late April.
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.”
It’s just what every cineplex in the country needs.
In the original Top Gun, the enemy is intentionally obscure: anonymous pilots flying MiGs from a hostile but unnamed country who have to be chased away and shot down by the heroic Maverick (played by Tom Cruise) and his fellow graduates of the Top Gun naval flight school. Who exactly the enemy is does not matter. What matters is that the hero is America. Tony Scott’s film was a highly successful, undeniably compelling advertisement for brash 1980s jingoism. Now, 36 years later, after many pandemic-induced delays, comes Top Gun: Maverick, a legacy sequel that brings the same hotshot pilot back to the fore, assigned to an all-new mission against another faceless antagonist. But this time, the hero isn’t America. It’s, well, Tom Cruise.
To avoid more senseless bloodshed, the Kremlin must lose what empire it still retains.
The former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski once said that without Ukraine, Russia would cease to be an empire. It’s a pithy statement, but it’s not true. Even if Vladimir Putin fails to wrest back Ukraine, his country will remain a haphazard amalgamation of regions and nations with hugely varied histories, cultures, and languages. The Kremlin will continue ruling over colonial holdings in places including Chechnya, Tatarstan, Siberia, and the Arctic.
Russia’s history is one of almost ceaseless expansion and colonization, and Russia is the last European empire that has resisted even basic decolonization efforts, such as granting subject populations autonomy and a meaningful voice in choosing the country’s leaders. And as we’ve seen in Ukraine, Russia is willing to resort to war to reconquer regions it views as its rightful possessions.
The sisters turned domestic constraints into grist for brilliant books.
No body of writing has engendered more other bodies of writing than the Bible, but the Brontë corpus comes alarmingly close. “Since 1857, when Elizabeth Gaskell published her famous Life of Charlotte Brontë, hardly a year has gone by without some form of biographical material on the Brontës appearing—from articles in newspapers to full-length lives, from images on tea towels to plays, films, and novelizations,” wrote Lucasta Miller in The Brontë Myth, her 2001 history of Brontëmania. This year the Brontë literary-industrial complex celebrates the bicentennial of Charlotte’s birth, and British and American publishers have been especially busy. In the U.S., there is a new Charlotte Brontë biography by Claire Harman; a Brontë-themed literary detective novel; a novelistic riff on Jane Eyre whose heroine is a serial killer; a collection of short stories inspired by that novel’s famous line*, “Reader, I married him”; and a fan-fiction-style “autobiography” of Nelly Dean, the servant-narrator of Wuthering Heights. Last year’s highlights included a young-adult novelization of Emily’s adolescence and a book of insightful essays called The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects, which uses items belonging to Charlotte, Emily, and Anne as wormholes to the 19th century and the lost texture of their existence. Don’t ask me to list the monographs.