—A 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck New Zealand early Monday morning, triggering a tsunami that threatens the country’s eastern coast.
—France marked the anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed 130 people in Paris last year. President Francois Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo visited the sites targeted in the attacks, where the names of the victims were read aloud.
—We’re live-blogging the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
Europe's Foreign Ministers Call Emergency Meeting to Talk About Trump
The head of the European Council has called an emergency meeting of the continent's foreign ministers to discuss the unexpected election of Donald Trump as the president of the United States, which has rattled European leaders.
Donald Tusk, the president of the council, scheduled the gathering in Brussels at the suggestion of Germany, The Guardian reported Sunday. The foreign ministers will meet Sunday night, with the exception of Boris Johnson, the British foreign secretary and one of the leaders of the campaign for Brexit, who is boycotting the meeting.
The ministers will "exchange notes on how far they believe Trump will follow through on his dramatic but sometimes inconsistent pledges to turn U.S. foreign policy upside down, including over Russia, Syria, Iran and NATO," The Guardian wrote. The ministers will also convene Monday for a regular meeting, so it’s unclear why Tusk called for another one the night before.
President Obama will try to reassure Europe about the next administration when he travels to Berlin this week to meet with the leaders of the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain.
New Zealand Downgrades Tsunami Threat After Earthquake
New Zealand has downgraded the tsunami warning issued after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the country’s South Island shortly after midnight Monday.
New Zealand’s ministry of civil defense and emergency management said Monday fewer parts of the east coast are now at risk of dangerous waves. Here’s an earlier map, released at about 3 a.m. local time, showing the areas at most risk of a tsunami impact. The darker blue indicates areas that are most vulnerable:
Paris Marks Anniversary of Deadly Terrorist Attacks
France marked the anniversary of last year’s Paris terrorist attacks, which left 130 people dead at a concert hall, stadium, and several bars and restaurants.
Residents paid tribute to the victims on Sunday by placing flowers, candles, and notes at the sites that were targeted in the ISIS-directed attacks. French President Francois Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo visited each of the six sites, where they unveiled commemorative plaques and the victims’ names were read aloud, according to the BBC. They released colorful balloons into the air outside the Bataclan, where assailants attacked during a concert, spraying the crowd with bullets. The music venue reopened Saturday night with a show by the singer Sting.
France has been under a state of emergency since the attacks. The state of emergency was extended in Juy after a man drove a truck into a crowd in Nice on Bastille Day, killing 84 people. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Saturday it would remain in place because of the risk of “attacks of the kind we saw in Nice.”
New Zealanders Seek High Ground After Powerful Earthquake
Tsunami warning sirens are ringing along New Zealand’s east coast after a powerful earthquake struck the country early Monday morning, sending residents into the streets and damaging some roads.
The 7.8-magnitude struck shortly after midnight on New Zealand’s South Island, 15 kilometers (nine miles) northeast of Culverden. About 45 aftershocks followed, the largest recorded at 6.2 magnitude, according to GeoNet, which monitors seismic activity in New Zealand. Strong quakes were felt in Wellington, the country’s capital.
No injuries have been reported, but power outages have hampered communication.
New Zealand’s ministry of civil defense and emergency management has issued a tsunami warning to the country’s entire east coast and urged residents to seek higher ground and avoid beaches. Waves between three and five meters (10 to 16 feet) are expected near the quake’s epicenter.
The ministry released a map showing the areas at most risk of a tsunami impact. The darker blue indicates areas that are most vulnerable:
On Monday morning, my partner laid a carry-on suitcase down on the floor, preparing to pack for his first post-vaccination trip to visit his parents. The moment he unzipped the bag, our cat Calvin promptly clambered inside.
A piece of me would like to think that Calvin was attempting to covertly join my partner on his trip, or perhaps thwart his inevitable attempt to spirit away. But I’m pretty sure #OccupyLuggage was less a heart-wrenching bid to tag along on a flight, and more a textbook example of a central scientific tenet: Cats are absolute suckers for boxes. And sinks, and vases, and grocery bags, and shoes, and Pringles cans, and the nooks and crannies between furniture and walls, and just about any other space they deem cozy, confining, and swaddly. (Cats, in case you were wondering, are a non-Newtonian liquid.) It’s the one thing about which our pointy-eared companions are not terribly picky: If it fits, they sits. And when they do, we humans can’t help but obsess over them.
For some Americans, history isn’t the story of what actually happened; it’s the story they want to believe.
This article was published online on May 10, 2021.
Most of the people who come to Blandford Cemetery, in Petersburg, Virginia, come for the windows—masterpieces of Tiffany glass in the cemetery’s deconsecrated church. One morning before the pandemic, I took a tour of the church along with two other visitors and our tour guide, Ken. When my eyes adjusted to the hazy darkness inside, I could see that in each window stood a saint, surrounded by dazzling bursts of blues and greens and violets. Below these explosions of color were words that I couldn’t quite make out. I stepped closer to one of the windows, and the language became clearer. Beneath the saint was an inscription honoring the men “who died for the Confederacy.”
For most young people, the social and emotional benefits of taking masks off outdoors greatly outweigh the personal and public-health advantages of keeping them on.
As parents gradually reap the rewards of vaccination—including unmasking outdoors, socializing unmasked indoors with other vaccinated people, and abandoning anxiety about getting seriously ill—they’re wondering if they need to keep up pandemic precautions for their children’s sake.
I am a primary-care doctor, and the parents I talk with are deeply concerned about their communities; they also want to see their kids reengage in life. They want to liberate themselves from the intensity of pandemic child care and worry. I can empathize: I’m a mother of three.
Although emergency-use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine was granted this week for 12-to-15-year-olds, kids in this age group and younger ones don’t need to wait for freedom through shots. They can and should enjoy some benefits of our collective progress. That’s why I’ve begun telling my patients that their kids, vaccinated or not, do not need to wear masks outside—despite the fact that the CDC recently issued summer-camp guidelines that recommend kids wear masks whenever physical distancing is difficult, including outside. I know that parents in some communities get dirty looks at the playground if they let their kids run around without masks, but doing so is not a sign of recalcitrance; it’s a sign that they’re following the science.
By early February 2020, China had effectively locked down tens of millions of its citizens. Entire hospitals were sprouting from scratch to cope with an onslaught of coronavirus cases there. The World Health Organization had just declared that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus was a “public health emergency of international concern.” And on February 7, I went on a radio show and spent much of the segment discussing the economic implications of the ordeal for East Asia.
I often think about that segment now and wonder how I could have been so unimaginative. I was so focused on the desperate scenes in China that I failed to consider that similar scenes could soon transpire around the world. Why didn’t I grab the mic, dispense with the usual commentary, and issue an urgent plea for the world to wake up?
The most famous dysfunctional family of 1990s television enjoyed, by today’s standards, an almost dreamily secure existence.
Updated at 11:10 a.m. ET on February 8, 2021.
The most famous dysfunctional family of 1990s television enjoyed, by today’s standards, an almost dreamily secure existence that now seems out of reach for all too many Americans. I refer, of course, to the Simpsons. Homer, a high-school graduate whose union job at the nuclear-power plant required little technical skill, supported a family of five. A home, a car, food, regular doctor’s appointments, and enough left over for plenty of beer at the local bar were all attainable on a single working-class salary. Bart might have had to find $1,000 for the family to go to England, but he didn’t have to worry that his parents would lose their home.
This lifestyle was not fantastical in the slightest—nothing, for example, like the ridiculously large Manhattan apartments in Friends. On the contrary, the Simpsons used to be quite ordinary—they were a lot like my Michigan working-class family in the 1990s.
The modern Republican Party does not tolerate criticism of its once—and current—leader.
One of the many Republican principles that Donald Trump obliterated was what was known as Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican.” Like several of the stone-tablet dictates (the prohibitions on committing adultery and bearing false witness come to mind), this directive was lightly followed and rarely enforced—politics is a rough sport. But Reagan’s edict served the purpose of keeping internal GOP disputes from getting out of hand. Candidates and party leaders (including a former vice president named Dick Cheney) regularly used the line as a way to de-escalate intraparty fights.
Trump, of course, spares no one his vituperation. Insults are his shtick and his identity, and Republican voters love him for it. Just as he has remade the party in his image—on trade, on spending, on immigration, and on interventionism, among other policy areas—so too has he revised Reagan’s unwritten rule to apply not to fellow Republicans but to him alone. That commandment—“Thou shalt not speak ill of Donald Trump”—is the one that House Republicans enforced this morning when they ousted Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming as their conference chair in one of the more anticlimactic votes in recent memory. GOP lawmakers claim they removed Cheney because her refusal to let go of Trump’s role in the January 6 insurrection amounted to “a distraction” in their attempt to regain the House majority. But anyone can see that her sin was far simpler: Cheney continues to call out Trump as a threat to democracy, and the party no longer abides such criticism—not from a party leader, and not publicly.
The recent scandal at her talk show suggests that the host’s smiling facade covers up something dark—and hints at why that facade had to be created in the first place.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show features a recurring segment, called “Cash for Kindness,” that spreads good cheer by lying to people. DeGeneres will send a producer or an audience member out into the world to pretend to be some harried worker—a cater-waiter, a delivery person, a birthday-party magician—and then, in spectacular fashion, spill whatever they’re carrying on the sidewalk. As potatoes go rolling or greeting cards flap in the wind, a trap is laid. DeGeneres watches through hidden cameras to see which passersby do, or don’t, stop to help pick up the mess.
The bit is funny because it is mortifying. Speaking into her producer’s wireless earpiece, DeGeneres feeds her staffer ever-more-distressing banter to recite: There’s an engagement ring in the tiramisus! The greeting cards are supposed to be in alphabetical order! The strangers who stop to help are, you may suspect, a bit nervous that they’ve been roped into some scam—or maybe worse, roped into a situation that will expose the limits of their time, means, or generosity. Eventually, the undercover staffer reveals that they work for Ellen. The random Good Samaritan is brought onto the talk show’s set, and DeGeneres hands them cash: a reward for being kind, but also, it feels, payoff for being messed with.
Like any good prank, especially the pranks DeGeneres loves, cash-for-kindness revels in voyeurism, deceit, and discomfort, all of which get forgiven in the name of a laugh. Yet, like so much of DeGeneres’s comedy, this mischief doubles as do-goodery. It is part of DeGeneres’s grand campaign to merchandise kindness—which is also seen when she says “Be kind to one another” at the end of each show, or when she gets taxi drivers to hug Uber drivers on air, or when she hawks kindness-themed subscription boxes for up to $250 a year. Her aesthetic of cream colors, goofy grins, and uplifting tears, along with her amusing displays of light sadism, have earned her a $330 million empire, a raft of Emmys, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
On Clubhouse, a black badge was meant to identify trolls. It’s become an emblem of the app’s dysfunctional moderation system.
To block someone on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter is not, in the scheme of things, a big deal. You’ll no longer see them on the platform, they’ll no longer see you, and then you’ll both go on social networking, largely as you did before. Since your feed is made up of discrete posts personalized for you by an algorithm, blocking one person’s in particular can be a simple, unobtrusive action. It’s among the saving graces of a realm buffeted by bots and wracked with rancor.
But what if blocking didn’t, or couldn’t, work that way? The year-old social audio app Clubhouse is built on live group conversations: Everyone in a given “room”—a virtual space convened around a given topic—hears the same person speak at the same time, and that shared context forms the basis of all interactions. A conversation in which certain people’s voices are silenced for certain other people would be incoherent to all. So when Clubhouse went to develop its own blocking feature in the fall, in response to user outcries over rampant misogyny, anti-Semitism, and coronavirus misinformation, it had to come up with a new approach.
In February 2020, I traveled to New York to celebrate a zeroth birthday and an 80th birthday. First, I saw a close friend’s baby, who had been born only a month earlier. The next day, I went to my grandmother’s birthday party at a crowded Italian restaurant near Times Square.
I would say that this experience made me think about aging and what the alleged Soviet spy Alger Hiss (of all people) called “the Great Span”: the way that seemingly distant history is only a few lifetimes away. But this would be a writer’s white lie. I think about time’s bucket brigade probably too much, and I am constantly looking for tidy anecdotes. Weeks earlier, I had already written in the notes app of my phone: “When my friend’s baby is my grandmother’s age, it will be 2100.”
The U.S. should delay shots for children until global vaccine-manufacturing capacity significantly expands and the crisis in India subsides.
In the coming months, the United States and other rich nations will have the opportunity to save hundreds of thousands of lives threatened by COVID-19 in South Asia. On Monday, the FDA authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in children ages 12 to 15. But in the name of global equity, Americans should delay vaccination of our own children until global vaccine-manufacturing capacity significantly expands and the crisis in India subsides. Such a delay would mobilize tens of millions of additional doses, which could be used almost immediately in hard-hit regions overseas. Especially now, as the supply remains limited, leading nations should work to ensure that doses go where they will do the most good for public health.