Winchester, 52, was shot in an airport parking lot and was transported to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead, said Oklahoma City Police Captain Paco Balderrama at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Police previously said there were reports of a second victim, but Balderrama did not mention this person during the latest press conference. The suspect was later found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The motive is still unclear.
Police evacuated everyone from the airport, where all arriving and departing flights were suspended. Several hours later, operations resumed. Around 30 flights were canceled because of the shooting.
A group of international swimmers swam across the Dead Sea for seven hours Tuesday to raise awareness about the hyper-saline lake’s shrinking water levels.
The swimmers made the 16-kilometer (10-mile) trip from Jordan to Israel in masks and snorkels to protect them from the water's high salt concentration. The swim was the first of its kind in the lake, which, at 423 meters (1,388 feet) below sea level, is the lowest point on Earth. The swim’s organizers say the Dead Sea’s water level has dropped by more than 25 meters (82 feet) in the past 30 years.
“Oh, it's absolutely crazy,” Jackie Cobell, an English long-distance swimmer, told the AP Tuesday about the crossing. But “this is really important, because it's disappearing fast.”
The swim was open only to open-water marathon swimmers. Participants—from Israel, South Africa, New Zealand Denmark, the Palestinian territories, among other places—were followed by boats carrying medical supplies and food. They were instructed to take water breaks every 30 minutes and apply Vaseline to skin to protect against the chafing caused by the salty water. The water is painful if it gets into the eyes, and can be deadly if swallowed. All but three of the swimmers finished the crossing.
The lake depends on a steady flow of freshwater to replenish the water that evaporates. In the 1960s, Israel built a pumping station on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, diverting the lake’s main source of freshwater into a pipeline system for the country, Joshua Hammer explained in Smithsonian magazine in 2005. A decade later, Jordan and Syria diverted another important inlet. The extraction of minerals from the lake has also contributed to its decline. Environmentalists have lobbied Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority for years to nominate the Dead Sea as a United Nations World Heritage site, which would provide certain protections.
U.K. Signs Off on Extradition of Alleged FBI Hacker Lauri Love
U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd approved Monday the extradition of Lauri Love to the United States, where he faces nearly a century in prison for allegedly hacking into federal government computers.
Rudd said she “carefully considered all relevant matters” before signing off on Love’s extradition, noting the serious charges the 32-year-old Suffolk native was facing, The Guardian reports. In September, a British court approved Love’s extradition for his alleged involvement in a series of Anonymous-affiliated hacks into several U.S. government agencies including the FBI, the U.S. Army, the Missile Defense Agency, and the Federal Reserve—hacks the U.S. said resulted in the release of confidential information and caused millions of dollars in damage. Love faces charges in three different jurisdictions and up to 99 years in prison if convicted.
Love, who has Asperger’s syndrome, told the court being sent to a U.S. prison would endanger his mental health and pose a high risk of him committing suicide. He argued that his extradition should be blocked on the grounds it would violate his human rights. Such a move is not without precedent— that very exception was made by then-Home Secretary Theresa May in 2012 for Gary McKinnon, an alleged hacker with Asperger’s syndrome who was accused of hacking U.S. military computers.
Rudd acknowledged Love’s “physical and mental health issues,” but said she believed the U.S. facilities were adequate enough to address them.
Love’s father, Alexander, told the BBC they would appeal the decision.
South Korean Opposition Vows National Campaign to Oust President Park
South Korea’s opposition leaders vowed to launch a national campaign to oust Park Geun-hye, whose recent scandal involving a political confidante has gripped the country and embroiled her presidency, Yonhap News Agency reports.
Moon Jae-in, a former Democratic Party leader and a potential contender for the South Korean presidency in next year’s election, pledged to spearhead a “a nationwide campaign” pushing for Park’s resignation. Other opposition leaders, including Seoul’s mayor, echoed Moon’s calls for Park to step down. Here’s a photo of Moon joining protesters calling for Park’s resignation:
Yoo Yeong-ha, Park’s attorney, requested Tuesday that Park be given more time to prepare for the investigation into Park’s relationship with Choi Soon-sil, a long-time friend of the president who has been charged with attempted fraud and abuse of authority. Yoo said the investigation should be conducted in a way that minimizes any impact on Park’s presidential duties, noting “the investigation or trial of the president, while he or she is still in office, could paralyze state affairs and divide public opinion.”
The scandal has indeed proved to be the worst crisis of Park’s political career, sending her approval rating to 5 percent—the lowest for any leader of the country in nearly 70 years.
What Do the Corruption Charges Against a Top Russian Official Mean?
Russia detained Alexei Ulyukayev, its economy minister, Tuesday after he was caught in a sting taking a $2 million bribe in exchange for approving the sale of a state-run oil producer. It is the highest-profile corruption case in Vladimir Putin’s 16-year rule in a country where government corruption is common, and it likely represents tension in the Russian president’s inner circle.
Investigators wiretapped Ulyukayev’s phone for months after learning he threatened operators of Rosneft that he’d “create impediments” in their bid to buy Bashneft, a smaller state-run oil producer. He is the first economy minister since the Stalin era to be arrested while in office. Some politicians pointed to it as evidence of Russia’s desire to rid the government of corruption.
“Everyone is equal before the law,” said the speaker of the lower house of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin.
Inside the Kremlin, however, the story seems different. Igor Sechin, Rosneft’s top official, a friend to Putin and one of the most powerful men in the country, wanted to purchase Bashneft, while Russia’s prime minister thought it should go to a private company. Ulyukayev is in charge of selling state-owned companies, and he had originally sided with the prime minister. He eventually came around to the idea of selling to Rosneft at market price—$5 billion. The storyline has raised several questions, like why Ulyukayev would try to bribe one of the country’s most powerful men, someone so close to Putin? And why he would even seek a bribe for the market-price transfer of a state-owned company to another state-owned company?
Some experts believe it’s the beginning of an internal purge against liberals in the government, or score-settling.
Hong Kong Bars Pro-Independence Lawmakers From Office
A Hong Kong court ruled Tuesday that two pro-independence lawmakers are disqualified from taking their seats in the city’s legislature after a controversy erupted following their refusal to pledge allegiance to China.
Judge Thomas Au Hing-cheung said in his judgement that Yau Wai-ching, 25, and Sixtus Leung, 30, did not “faithfully and truthfully” perform the legislative oath required of them to serve in Hong Kong as required by the Chinese territory’s Basic Law. He also ruled they could not be given a chance to retake their oaths.
The judge was referring to a swearing-in ceremony last month, during which the politicians—both of whom advocate for independence from China—altered the words of their oaths to pledge allegiance to the “Hong Kong nation” instead of China, which they referred to instead using a derogatory term and other vulgar language. Beijing last week prevented them from taking office, a decision that prompted street protests.
Leung told the South China Morning Post he intends to appeal the decision—one Yau said was made due to Beijing’s influence.
Under the one-country-two-systems formula that has governed relations between Beijing and Hong Kong since the 1997 handover, the territory enjoys wide-ranging autonomy, but Beijing still has final say over how the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini constitution, is interpreted.
Twitter says it has taken action to combat the increased “abuse, bullying, and harassment we've seen across the Internet … over the past few years.”
The company said it is expanding its “mute” function to include “keywords, phrases, and even entire conversations you don't want to see notifications about.” It’s also giving users a more direct way to report “hateful conduct” against people “on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease.” And, it said, it has “retrained all of our support teams on our policies … in order to deal more effectively with this conduct when it's reported to us.”
The announcement Tuesday comes after months of criticism against the type of speech for which Twitter has become infamous. BuzzFeed Newsadds: “The company’s failure to curb abuse has turned the platform into a primary destination for trolls and hate groups — a reputation that reportedly drove away potential buyers, including Salesforce and Disney this summer.”
Russia Resumes Aleppo Offensive Hours After Putin and Trump Talk
Russia resumed its offensive on Tuesday in rebel-held Aleppo after a weeks-long pause, dropping barrel bombs from helicopters and firing missiles at targets. The strikes were paused three weeks ago to allow for civilians to leave the area, but Russian President Vladimir Putin resumed bombing just hours after speaking with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.
The Kremlin said Tuesday the two leaders shared the view it was necessary to work together in Syria to fight “the common enemy number one: international terrorism and extremism.” Putin’s spokesman did not say if the two discussed Aleppo specifically, only that they shared a “phenomenally similar” outlook on foreign policy.
Russia’s missiles struck targets in the north of the city, where rebels, some of whom receive U.S. aid, have dug in to fight Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russia backs the Syrian government, and Tuesday’s assault had nothing to do with fighting ISIS, which is not present in Aleppo. Some of the missiles were directed from Admiral Kuznetsov, the Russian aircraft carrier stationed last month on the shores of Syria. The bombs struck rebel weapons depots and training camps in the Idlib province, as well as three neighborhoods in Aleppo. Casualties were not reported yet.
Egyptian Court Overturns Mohammed Morsi's Death Sentence
Egypt’s Court of Cassation, the country’s highest court, overturned Tuesday the death sentence against Mohammed Morsi, the Islamist president who was ousted by the military in 2013, and ordered a retrial in the prison-break case for which he received the sentence.
Morsi faces charges in three other cases: One related to espionage for which he was sentenced to life in prison (25 years), plus 15 years. A hearing on his appeal is set for November 27. He and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders were also sentenced to life in prison in a separate espionage case; Mosri is appealing that ruling. He and others are also being tried on charges of insulting the judiciary. A hearing is set for December 10.
The court, in its ruling Tuesday, overturned the death penalties against Mohamed Badie, the Muslim Brotherhood leader, and other members of the group.
Morsi was elected president in 2012 after massive protests during the Arab Spring saw the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, the longtime Egyptian leader. But public sentiment, and the military, quickly turned against Morsi, and mass protests against his rule resulted in his ouster in 2013.
Germany Bans Muslim Group; Raids Mosques, Apartments in 10 Cities
German authorities banned True Religion, a Muslim group perhaps best known for distributing translated Qurans, for its alleged recruitment of militants to fight for ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and police conducted raids on mosques, apartments, and offices in several states.
Deutsche Welleadds: “Some 65 raids were carried out in the state of Hesse, 15 of them in the city of Frankfurt alone. Every one of the searches took place in Berlin or the former West.”
Thomas de Maizière, the German interior minister, said True Religion was a Salafist group and its translations of the Quran was used to “spread messages of hate and anti-constitutional ideologies.” He said more than 140 youths had read the group’s translations and traveled to Syria. Deutsche Welle quoted a tweet purportedly sent by True Religion that said: The Quran has been banned in Germany. … We have delivered Allah’s message.”
Germany has intensified its crackdown on ISIS and Islamist sympathizers following several terrorist attacks over the summer. Last week, it arrested five alleged ISIS members, including one described as a senior recruiter for the group. True Religion is the sixth Islamist group to be outlawed in Germany since 2012.
The Handmaid’s Tale showed the ease with which the unthinkable can become ordinary—a lesson crucial in the age of the Big Lie.
In June 2019, Kylie Jenner shared with the world some pictures of a birthday party she’d thrown for a friend. The event had a theme: The Handmaid’s Tale. It featured guests garbed in blood-red gowns; servers dressed as “Marthas,” or women enslaved for household labor; and drinks with such names as “Under His Eye tequila” and “Praise Be vodka.” The whole thing was cringey and absurd. It was also, as so often happens when the extended Kardashian family is involved, grimly eloquent. One of the lessons of The Handmaid’s Tale is the ease with which horror can become a habit. In a culture that is adept at turning tragedy into comedy, even the darkest of dystopias might be consumed, in the end, as a signature cocktail. Banality has its allure.
Colonizing the red planet is a ridiculous way to help humanity.
There’s no place like home—unless you’re Elon Musk. A prototype of SpaceX’s Starship, which may someday send humans to Mars, is, according to Musk, likely to launch soon, possibly within the coming days. But what motivates Musk? Why bother with Mars? A video clip from an interview Musk gave in 2019 seems to sum up Musk’s vision—and everything that’s wrong with it.
In the video, Musk is seen reading a passage from Carl Sagan’s book Pale Blue Dot. The book, published in 1994, was Sagan’s response to the famous image of Earth as a tiny speck of light floating in a sunbeam—a shot he’d begged NASA to have the Voyager 1 spacecraft take in 1990 as it sailed into space, 3.7 billion miles from Earth. Sagan believed that if we had a photo of ourselves from this distance, it would forever alter our perspective of our place in the cosmos.
A ‘green vortex’ is saving America’s climate future.
Here, at least, is the standard story: The past decade has been abysmal for climate-change policy in the United States. In 2009, a handsome new president took office pledging to pass a comprehensive climate bill in Congress. He did not. The Environmental Protection Agency sought to meaningfully reduce carbon pollution from power plants. It did not. The United States joined the Paris Agreement. Then we elected President Donald Trump, and we left.
Yes—and here, the narrator always inserts a gale-force sigh—America knows what it needs to do: Pass a carbon fee or tax, some kind of policy that nudges people to reduce their use of fossil fuels. Yet America refuses. And so the 2010s, once greeted as a “new era” for climate action, now seem unexceptional, the third decade in a row that the United States understood the dangers of climate change but failed to act. Meanwhile the seas rose, wildfires raged, and the Earth saw its hottest 10 years on record.
Kodak changed the way Americans saw themselves and their country. But it struggled to reinvent itself for the digital age.
Above, clockwise from bottom-right: Kodak founder George Eastman takes a picture, circa 1925. High Falls in Rochester, New York, Kodak’s hometown. Postcard of the Kodak Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair, 1964. FIGHT, a group seeking to change Kodak’s hiring practices, protests at a shareholders’ meeting, 1967.
This article was published online on June 16, 2021.
When I was in fifth grade, my class took a field trip to the George Eastman Museum, in Rochester, New York, as the fifth graders at my rural elementary school, 30 minutes south of the city, did every year. Housed in a Colonial Revival mansion built for the founder of the Eastman Kodak Company in 1905, the museum is home to one of the most significant photography and film collections in the world. But our job there was to stare at old cameras the size of our bodies, marvel at the luxury of having a pipe organ in your house, and write down what a daguerreotype is to prove that we’d been paying attention. At the end of the tour—in a second-story sitting room full of personal artifacts—we were presented, matter-of-factly, with a copy of Eastman’s suicide letter, dated March 14, 1932: “My work is done. Why wait?” Eastman shot himself in the heart with a Luger pistol at the age of 77.
If the former president proves to be a kingmaker in the 2022 midterms, his allies say he may seek reelection in 2024.
“The Republican Party is just a name,” Steve Bannon told me last week. I had called him to ask about the influence he believes his old boss still carries inside the GOP. “The bulk of it is a populist, nationalist party led by Donald Trump.” As for the rest of it? “The Republican Party, pre-2016, are the modern Whigs,” he added, referring to the national party that collapsed in the mid-19th century over divided views on slavery.
Bannon might not be the most reliable barometer of the political moment, but some of Trump’s fiercest Republican critics share his belief that the former president maintains a strong grip on his party. “He sparked this [movement], and now others are going ahead and taking the baton of batshittery,” Representative Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois and a staunch Trump critic, told me last week.
The Human Genome Project left 8 percent of our DNA unexplored. Now, for the first time, those enigmatic regions have been revealed.
When the human genome was first deemed “complete” in 2000, the news was met with great international fanfare. The two rival groups vying to finish the genome first—one a large government-led consortium, the other an underdog private company—agreed to declare joint success. They shook hands at the White House. Bill Clinton presided. Tony Blair beamed in from London. “We are standing at an extraordinary moment in scientific history,” one prominent scientist declared when those genomes were published. “It’s as though we have climbed to the top of the Himalayas.”
But actually, the human genome was not complete. Neither group had reached the real summit. As even the contemporary coverage acknowledged, that version was more of a rough draft, riddled with long stretches where the DNA sequence was still fuzzy or missing. The private company soon pivoted and ended its human-genome project, though scientists with the public consortium soldiered on. In 2003, with less glitz but still plentyof headlines, the human genome was declared complete once again.
Vladimir Putin has nothing to offer Joe Biden because his balancing act between Westernizers and more conservative forces is over.
Updated at 6:05 a.m. ET on June 16, 2021.
I grew up in a hidden city. Not a forgotten city, or a faraway city—a hidden city. My hometown, Nizhny Novgorod, lies east of Moscow along the Volga River. It was a center of international trade before the Russian Revolution but was bombed by the Nazis during World War II; to preserve crucial industries housed there, the Soviet authorities effectively closed it off from the world after the war. It didn’t exist on many Soviet maps, and foreigners were not allowed to visit. Cruise ships passed by only at night so tourists would not know about the ancient city on the banks.
Despite the heavy restrictions, many well-known intellectuals worked in Nizhny Novgorod, at anonymous-looking Soviet facilities known as “mailboxes.” The nuclear physicist and future Nobel Prize winner Andrei Sakharov was among them. Only at the local foreign-language institute did I first meet a foreigner, an American lady who taught English. Mary Sebastian—or Mary Petrovna Alferova, according to her Soviet passport—came to Nizhny Novgorod in the 1930s as a teenager with her father, an engineer helping to build an automobile plant. She fell in love, got married, and decided to stay.
People in the United States no longer agree on the nation’s purpose, values, history, or meaning. Is reconciliation possible?
Nations, like individuals, tell stories in order to understand what they are, where they come from, and what they want to be. National narratives, like personal ones, are prone to sentimentality, grievance, pride, shame, self-blindness. There is never just one—they compete and constantly change. The most durable narratives are not the ones that stand up best to fact-checking. They’re the ones that address our deepest needs and desires. Americans know by now that democracy depends on a baseline of shared reality—when facts become fungible, we’re lost. But just as no one can live a happy and productive life in nonstop self-criticism, nations require more than facts—they need stories that convey a moral identity. The long gaze in the mirror has to end in self-respect or it will swallow us up.
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.”