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.
A tectonic demographic shift is under way. Can the country hold together?
Democracy depends on the consent of the losers. For most of the 20th century, parties and candidates in the United States have competed in elections with the understanding that electoral defeats are neither permanent nor intolerable. The losers could accept the result, adjust their ideas and coalitions, and move on to fight in the next election. Ideas and policies would be contested, sometimes viciously, but however heated the rhetoric got, defeat was not generally equated with political annihilation. The stakes could feel high, but rarely existential. In recent years, however, beginning before the election of Donald Trump and accelerating since, that has changed.
HONG KONG—For months now, I’ve been told that Hong Kong’s protests would end soon. They’ll end when school starts, I heard during the summer. School did start, but the protests wore on, only now I saw high-school students in crisp school uniforms joining the protesters’ ranks. Next, the mask ban of early October was supposed to slow protesters down, but the very first day after that ban, I watched streams of protesters in masks and helmets make their way to their usual haunts on Hong Kong Island.
The government shut down many of the subway lines that day, a practice that has become a de facto curfew, because Hong Kong’s über-efficient subway system is the way most people get around. No matter; the protesters ended up walking, sometimes a lot, and I walked with them, asking some of the same questions I had asked for months: Do you think you will continue protesting? What would it take for you to stop?
A record-setting acqua alta has left much of Venice submerged, following stormy conditions blowing in from the Adriatic Sea.
Yesterday, strong winds and rainstorms pushed water levels in Venice, Italy, to the second-highest levels ever recorded. The high-water mark hit 74 inches (187 centimeters), just short of the record set in 1966. This exceptional acqua alta has flooded businesses and historic structures, sank boats, and been blamed for one death so far.
He can’t help but go after women, even when doing so hurts his cause.
On the second day of the impeachment proceedings, President Donald Trump couldn’t control himself on Twitter: He lashed out at Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine who was subjected to a smear campaign, and who testified to that effect before the House Intelligence Committee. Trump’s lack of control, in itself, was not unusual. But, for some reason, Trump showed more restraint 24 hours earlier, when William Taylor and George Kent went before the Committee. It was almost as if the president found himself triggered by Yovanovitch, the 61-year-old career diplomat. But why was the president’s response so different to witnesses who were roughly saying the same thing? What was the big difference between Kent and Taylor and Yovanovitch? All three are career diplomats, all three are Ivy League graduates, all three have worked in the State Department, all three are experts in Ukraine. But only one of them is a woman. Could that be why the president singled out Yovanovitch? It is almost as if the president is unable to control his rage against women. It is almost as if the president thinks he can bully women and silence them.
Being no different from our enemies has not been the aspiration of previous presidents, nor of our military.
President Donald Trump has exercised his authority to intervene in three cases involving war crimes, on the side of the alleged war criminals. He pardoned one serviceman who was convicted of heinous crimes, and another awaiting trial for heinous crimes. He also reversed the demotion of a Navy SEAL convicted of taking trophy pictures with an enemy corpse. All were brought to justice by their fellow servicemen and women; each prosecution relied on testimony from servicemen in the same units who witnessed the war crimes and reported them to military superiors.
This makes Trump the first commander in chief in memory to pardon American servicemen for violent crimes committed in uniform. The justification can be found in a statement Trump made to NBC News in 2016: “You have to play the game the way they are playing the game.” That is, the U.S. should operate the way terrorists operate.
A photographer began shooting unusual-looking coyotes on Galveston Island. They turned out to be descended from a very rare wolf species.
It started in 2008, when a pack of strange-looking coyotes—or were they coyotes?—ran off with one of Ron Wooten’s dogs. “It wasn’t pleasant,” he says. The dog did not survive.
But Wooten, who by day works for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is the kind of guy who keeps a dead rattlesnake and deer hide in his freezer, so instead of getting angry with the wild animals, he decided to investigate them on his own time. To him, the animals in this unusual pack seemed to have the look of Great Danes, and he wondered if they were “coydog” hybrids. He began tracking them around Galveston, Texas, and sending photographs off to experts. “The first year was pretty frustrating,” he says. “Nobody was really interested in taking a look at them.”
The GOP will not be a great or good party until those who lead it straighten their backbone.
The first day of public hearings into the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump included an explosive revelation. William B. Taylor Jr., the senior American diplomat in Ukraine, tied Trump even more directly than we previously knew to the effort to pressure Ukraine to probe his political opponent.
But as damaging as Taylor’s testimony proved, it was merely another massive boulder in the avalanche of evidence against the president. We are well beyond the point that any disinterested person can deny that the president abused his power and acted in a corrupt manner, in ways the American founders explicitly warned against.
That the president acted the way he did should surprise exactly no one, given his disordered personality and Nietzschean ethic, his pathological lying and brutishness and bullying, and his history of personal and professional depravity. The president is a deeply damaged human being—and therefore a deeply dangerous president.
Suppose that the biblical story of Creation were true: God created the universe in six days, including all the laws of physics and all the physical constants that apply throughout the universe. Now imagine that one day, in the early 21st century, God became bored and, just for fun, doubled the gravitational constant. What would it be like to live through such a change? We’d all be pulled toward the floor; many buildings would collapse; birds would fall from the sky; the Earth would move closer to the sun, reestablishing orbit in a far hotter zone.
Let’s rerun this thought experiment in the social and political world, rather than the physical one. The U.S. Constitution was an exercise in intelligent design. The Founding Fathers knew that most previous democracies had been unstable and short-lived. But they were excellent psychologists, and they strove to create institutions and procedures that would work with human nature to resist the forces that had torn apart so many other attempts at self-governance.
As age factors more urgently in politics, a simple test could evaluate who remains fit for office.
Remember these numbers. You’ll be asked about them at the end of the test: 70, 73, 76, and 78.
These are the ages of the leading candidates in the 2020 presidential election: Elizabeth Warren, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders, respectively. In most any other line of work, people in their eighth decade are usually retired. For most of human history—and still in most of the world today—people of this age were usually dead.
Last month, Jimmy Carter, the 95-year-old former U.S. president, said that the office requires a person “to be very flexible with [one’s] mind,” and that by age 80 he wouldn’t have felt able to do the job. He joined the growing ranks of those suggesting they would support an upper age limit for the office, either for purposes of breaking up the gerontocracy or to ensure a person has the physical and cognitive capacity. “You have to be able to go from one subject to another and concentrate on each one adequately and then put them together in a comprehensive way,” Carter said.
In the absence of an aide willing to tell the president he can’t break the law, it was inevitable that Trump would commit impeachable acts, claims his former chief of staff.
Accepting the Republican nomination for president three years ago, Donald Trump told delegates in Cleveland, “I alone can fix it.”
John Kelly, Trump’s former White House chief of staff, offered an alternative on Saturday: Aides alone can fix it.
Speaking at the Washington Examiner’s Sea Island Summit, Kelly took an implicit swipe at his embattled successor, Mick Mulvaney, by recounting a warning he said he offered the president as he left the job.
“I said, ‘Whatever you do’—and we were still in the process of trying to find someone to take my place—I said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t hire a yes-man, someone who won’t tell you the truth. Don’t do that. Because if you do, I believe you will be impeached,’” Kelly said. He said he has “second thoughts” about his resignation in December. “It pains me to see what’s going on, because I believe if I was still there, or someone like me was there, he would not be kind of all over the place.”