Wildfires Threaten Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Officials have had to close large sections of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as the area braces for potentially disastrous wildfires raging nearby. Air quality is already at hazardous levels. As the Southeast faces its worst drought in years and winds blow as strong as 70 mph, firefighters are struggling to quell 14 fires near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, where some residents have been forced to evacuate. “We’ve had trees coming down, limbs coming down, and the fire is continuing to grow,” one National Park Service spokesperson said Monday. In recent weeks, wildfires have spread across the South, boosted by strong winds in Tennessee, Virginia, and north Carolina. Rain, though, is forecasted for the area in the coming days.
North Dakota Pipeline Protesters Ordered to Evacuate
The governor of North Dakota has ordered an emergency evacuation of all pipeline protesters camping on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land. All demonstrators protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, which they say goes through sacred Standing Rock Sioux land and could harm water sources, must leave their camps because of dangerous winter weather, Governor Jack Dalrymple said in the order signed Monday. A spokesman for the governor’s office told The West Fargo Pioneer, though, that the state would not forcibly remove people from the land, putting the burden on the federal government. The Corps said Friday that all protesters must leave the land north of the Cannonball River by December 5. The tribe, though, says it still plans to block the pipeline’s construction on reservation lands.
Texas Reports First Local Transmission of Zika Virus
The Zika virus has been transmitted by a mosquito in Texas for the first time, state health officials said Monday. The infected individual lives in Cameron County and has not traveled recently to countries where local transmission of the virus is common and well documented, officials said. She is also not pregnant. The Zika virus is most dangerous to pregnant women, and can cause a condition called microcephaly in babies born to infected women that results in smaller-than-normal heads. Officials say the virus was detected in the woman's urine and not her blood, which means the virus can no longer be spread through mosquito bites. Zika is primarily transmitted through Aedesaegypti mosquitoes, which thrive in warm climates, like in Texas and in South America, where the virus has led to thousands of cases of microcephaly since last year.
San Francisco's Transit System Is Back to Normal After a Ransomware Hack
San Francisco’s transit system returned to normal late Sunday after hackers hijacked its computer network over the weekend and granted tens of thousands of free fares. On Friday, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (Muni) payment screens read “OUT OF ORDER” in subway stations across the city. In agents’ booths the screens read: “You Hacked, ALL Data Encrypted.” The attackers, who were anonymous, also demanded through their message that Muni pay 100 Bitcoin, or about $73,000, to restore access to its software. The attack did not affect transit service other than rendering Muni’s payment system useless, so for much of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Muni was free. This type of hack is caused by ransomeware, in which hackers encrypt data until the owner pays a requested fee. Ransomware hacks have become increasingly common, and this past year several hospital computer systems were breached in similar attacks. Although Muni service had been restored, Hoodline, a local news site, reported that the hackers responsible claim to have accessed vital agency functions, like payroll, and are still demanding money.
Thousands of protesters demonstrated Monday against the Indian government’s decision to scrap 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee banknotes, the BBC reports. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who made the announcement earlier this month, said the move is an effort to fight corruption and to remove fraudulent notes from circulation. He added those still using the denominations would have until the end of the year to deposit them into banks. But critics say the move caused a “financial emergency” by removing 86 percent of the country’s cash overnight. Modi, meanwhile, has called on people to embrace digital, cashless forms of payment. More than 90 percent of India’s transactions are in cash.
German Court Upholds Former Nazi Guard's Conviction
A German federal court on Monday upheld the conviction of a former Nazi guard at the Auschwitz death camp. Oskar Gröning, now 95 years old, was convicted in July 2015 of being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 Jews. He appealed the ruling because he said he was only responsible for gathering and sorting valuables at Auschwitz, and was not involved in any crimes. The decision sets a precedent for prosecuting Nazi criminals; the ruling marks the first time an appeals court has determined that helping a concentration camp operate—or as the judge put it, participating in the “machinery of death”—is enough to be convicted, even if prosecutors lack evidence of specific killings. Deutsche Wellereports that the decision could affect several other pending Nazi wartime cases.
Dylann Roof Can Represent Himself at His Death-Penalty Trial
A federal judge in South Carolina ruled Monday that Dylann Roof, who is charged in the killing of nine black churchgoers last year, can represent himself in his death-penalty trial. Judge Richard Gergel of the Federal District Court in Charleston, speaking directly to Roof, called the decision “strategically unwise” but that “it is a decision you have the right to make." Roof made the last-minute request Monday morning as jury selection in his case was set to begin. Roof is accused of shooting and killing nine people at Emanuel AME church in June 2015. Federal authorities say he targeted the individuals because they were black. Roof offered to plead guilty last week in exchange for a life sentence, but prosecutors refused the deal. If Roof does represent himself, it will allow the self-avowed white supremacist to interview witnesses and family members called to testify.
At least 11 people were injured in an attack at the Ohio State University Monday morning. The suspect was shot and killed by police. Nine people sustained stab wounds wounds. One person is in critical condition. Earlier, OSU said there’s an active shooter on campus, and urged students to shelter in place—but it’s unclear if a gun was used in the attacks.
Buckeye Alert: Active Shooter on campus. Run Hide Fight. Watts Hall. 19th and College.
Japanese Amusement Park Shuts Down Its Ice Rink Filled With Thousands of Frozen Fish
A Japanese theme park was closed Sunday after widespread complaints about its new ice-skating rink, an attraction that featured thousands of dead fish frozen in ice. The rink in the southwest city of Kitakyushu opened two weeks ago and advertised its “Freezing Port” as a world first. It featured about 5,000 dead mackerel, sprats, crabs, and other fish bought from a local market entombed in the ice, some with their mouths open. CNN reported that a Facebook ad for the park featured photos of the frozen fish with caption: “I am d... d... drowning, s ... s... suffocating" (the post has since been deleted). Space World’s manager told CNN the park would unfreeze the fish and hold an “appropriate religious service"; then reuse them as fertilizer.
Syrian Government Troops Take a Key Rebel-Held Part of Aleppo
Syrian government troops have captured Sakhour, a district in the rebel-controlled portion of Aleppo, effectively dividing the city in two, according to state media and the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group. Russian state-run news sources say the government now controls 40 percent of eastern Aleppo, the last major rebel stronghold; the BBC puts that figures at about one-third. The development is a boost to President Bashar al-Assad, who with the help of Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah, now appears more firmly in charge of Syria than at any point since the civil war began more than five years ago. About 250,000 civilians live in rebel-held eastern Aleppo; the Syrian government’s assault on the divided city has been criticized by human-rights groups who have called it a war crime.
President-elect Donald Trump is expected to reveal more members of his Cabinet this week. Among those positions likely to be announced is secretary of state. Mitt Romney—the former Massachusetts governor, 2012 GOP presidential nominee, and leading Republican critic of Trump—is said to be a contender, though Kellyanne Conway, a Trump adviser, appeared to dismiss that idea on ABC. Separately, responding to efforts by Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee, to seek a recount in several states Trump won, the president-elect, in a series of tweets, suggested—with no evidence—that voter fraud had denied him the popular vote, which Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival, is leading by about 2 million votes. As my colleague Adam Serwer noted this morning: “The source of Trump’s claim that ‘millions’ of votes were cast illegally appears to be a report from the conspiracy theory website InfoWars, itself based on a tweet from an anti-vote fraud activist who provided no evidence for his claim.” Separately, Trump said Monday: “If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal.”
Paul Nuttall has been elected the new leader of the U.K. Independence Party. He takes over from Nigel Farage, who had stepped in as interim leader after Diane James, the previous winner, quit the post after 18 days on the job. Nuttall, 39, was UKIP’s deputy leader. He defeated Suzanne Evans, a former deputy chair of the party, and John Rees-Evans. “We must hold the government’s feet to the fire on leaving the EU,” Nuttall said after his victory. “Brexit must mean Brexit.” Although UKIP wasn’t an official part of the “Leave” campaign, the far-right party championed the U.K.’s exit from the EU.
People who make their living by sharing content on giant social-media platforms have tried to strike, organize, and even unionize, but they don’t have much to show for it.
Close to 5 million people follow Influencers in the Wild. The popular Instagram account makes fun of the work that goes into having a certain other kind of popular Instagram account: A typical post catches a woman (and usually, her butt) posing for photos in public, often surrounded by people but usually operating in total ignorance or disregard of them. In the comments, viewers—aghast at the goofiness and self-obsession on display—like to say that it’s time for a proverbial asteroid to come and deliver the Earth to its proverbial fiery end.
Influencers in the Wild has been turned into a board game with the tagline “Go places. Gain followers. Get famous. (no talent required)” And you get it because social-media influencers have always been, to some degree, a cultural joke. They get paid to post photos of themselves and to share their lives, which is something most of us do for free. It’s not real work.
“It felt like being hit by a truck and dragged along behind,” one mother said.
When Tess Camp was pregnant with her second child, she knew she would need to get to the hospital fast when the baby came. Her first labor had been short for a first-time mother (seven hours), and second babies tend to be in more of a hurry. Even so, she was not prepared for what happened: One day, at 40 weeks, she started feeling what she thought was just pregnancy back pain. Then her water broke, and 12 minutes later, she was holding a baby in her arms.
Needless to say, she didn’t make it into the hospital in time. But the first contraction after Camp’s water broke at home had been so intense—“immediate horrific pain; I could barely talk”—that she and her husband rushed into the car. He drove through town like a madman, running red lights. They were turning into the ER when she saw the baby’s head between her legs. Her husband tore out of the car, yelling for help. A security guard ran over to a terrified Camp in the passenger’s seat, and in that moment, her son slipped out and into the security guard’s hands. His umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. An ER nurse finally appeared to take the baby—still blue and limp—and resuscitated him right on the curb.
Workism is rooted in the belief that employment can provide everything we have historically expected from organized religion.
This is Work in Progress, a newsletter by Derek Thompson about work, technology, and how to solve some of America’s biggest problems. Sign up here to get it every week.
Here is a history of work in six words: from jobs to careers to callings.
Until quite recently, we had little concept of “progress” in our labor. Around the world, people hunted or harvested, just as their parents and grandparents had. They hammered nails. They assembled gears and sewed thread and patched homes. Their work was a matter of subsistence and necessity; it was not a race for status or an existential search for meaning. These were jobs. And for hundreds of millions of people everywhere, work is still work—grueling or boring or exploited or poorly paid, or all of the above.
The investigations highlight all the aspects of his political identity that have alienated so many swing voters.
The dilemma for the Republican Party is that Donald Trump’s mounting legal troubles may be simultaneously strengthening him as a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination and weakening him as a potential general-election nominee.
In the days leading up to the indictment of the former president, which Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced two days ago, a succession of polls showed that Trump has significantly increased his lead over Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, his closest competitor in the race for the Republican nomination.
Yet recent surveys have also signaled that this criminal charge—and other potential indictments from ongoing investigations—could deepen the doubts about Trump among the suburban swing voters who decisively rejected him in the 2020 presidential race, and powered surprisingly strong performances by Democrats in the 2018 and 2022 midterms.
At its best, the platform was a reminder that there are quick-witted and even wise people in the world with ideas to share.
This is a sentimental story about Twitter, a little Twitterbilly elegy. I spilled tears, heavy Patsy Cline tears, for the platform for the first time a few weeks ago, during a walk with Amanda Guinzburg, a writer and photographer I’d long followed on Twitter for her excellent tweets about American politics and photos of libidinous flowers.
Guinz—her Twitter handle—and I had never met face-to-face, but with the arsonous new management torching the platform’s vibe, we had decided to stroll together in Brooklyn Bridge Park and slag Elon Musk. Before Musk took over, you went to Twitter to satirize the high-hats, while also learning and teaching. But Musk seemed to think Twitter was chiefly for propaganda, self-aggrandizement, and enemy-smiting. He never took the time to loiter and banter and approach new subjects with equanimity, curiosity, amusement. Yes, he had long waxed anti-vax and hammered away at edgelord palaver, but what did it (for me, anyway) came on October 30, when he amplified some truly twisted and false cruelty implying that Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, had solicited sex from the QAnon-promoting intruder who cracked his skull with a hammer.
Now is an ideal moment for Republicans to free themselves from the former president. They’re not exactly taking advantage of it.
After his historic indictment was announced Thursday night, former President Donald Trump reacted with his characteristic cool and precision: “These Thugs and Radical Left Monsters have just INDICATED the 45th President of the United States of America.” Presumably this was a typo, and he meant INDICTED. But the immediate joining of arms around the martyr was indeed a perfect indication of precisely who the Republicans are right now.
“When Trump wins, THESE PEOPLE WILL PAY!!” Representative Ronny Jackson of Texas vowed.
“If they can come for him, they can come for anyone,” added Representative Andy Biggs, Republican of Arizona—or at least come for anyone who has allegedly paid $130,000 in hush money to a former porn-star paramour (and particularly anyone who allegedly had unprotected sex with her shortly after his third wife had given birth).
A new novel, The Nursery, explores the mix of unexpected emotions—including rage, regret, and loneliness—that new motherhood can bring on.
Motherhood has always been a subject ripe for mythmaking, whether vilification or idealization. Although fictional accounts, from antiquity until today, have offered us terrible, even treacherous mothers, including Euripides’s Medea and Livia Soprano, depictions of unrealistically all-good mothers, such as Marmee from Little Women, are more common and provide a sense of comfort. Maternal characters on the dark end of the spectrum provoke our unease because their monstrous behavior so clearly threatens society’s standards for mothers. They show that mother love isn’t inevitable, and that veering off from the expected response to a cuddly new infant isn’t inconceivable.
If motherhood brings with it the burden of our projected hopes, new mothers are especially hemmed in by wishful imagery, presumed to be ecstatically bonding with their just-emerged infants as they suckle at milk-filled breasts, everything smelling sweetly of baby powder. The phenomenon of postpartum depression, for instance, a condition that affects 10 to 15 percent of women, has been given short shrift in literature and other genres when not ignored entirely. This is true as well when it comes to the evocation of maternal ambivalence, the less-than-wholehearted response to the birth of a child, which is mostly viewed as a momentary glitch in the smooth transition from pregnancy to childbirth to motherhood instead of being seenas a sign of internal conflict.
Where do shoppers turn when an industry built on novelty runs out of new ideas?
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Nearly half a decade has elapsed since I last worked in the fashion industry, but one thing from my previous career remains a compulsion to this day: I look at people’s purses. In the brain space that might otherwise be occupied by dear childhood memories or the dates and times of future doctor appointments, I tend to an apparently undeletable mental spreadsheet of who is carrying what. Bottega Veneta Cassette, green padded leather, Soho, 20-something woman. Louis Vuitton Pochette Métis, logo canvas, Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway stop, 40-ish woman. For 10 years, these data points informed my obsessive, detailed coverage of the luxury-handbag market. Now they just accumulate. Rarely do I see something I can’t place.
Resident Evil 4 might not be an elevated story, but it sure is an entertaining one.
The “next-gen remake” is the latest and safest cash cow in video gaming. Take a hit title that came out a decade or more ago on a prior console, spiff it up with updated graphics, controls, and maybe even some new content, and sell it at full price to a nostalgic audience. Since its 2005 debut on the Nintendo GameCube, Capcom’s Resident Evil 4 has been lightly reconfigured for a dozen different devices. But the most recent edition is a soup-to-nuts revamp, meant to bring in a new generation while still satisfying longtime players like me who are just looking to relive the glory days.
I was introduced to Resident Evil 4 in college, and I’ve replayed it countless times over the years as it’s been “ported” to new consoles. When it was first released, the game marked a departure from the rest of the Resident Evil series, in which the player navigates the fictional Raccoon City during a viral zombie outbreak. The first Resident Evil pioneered the “survival horror” genre, asking players to conserve ammunition, solve puzzles, and withstand jump scares as enemies swarmed from every dark corner. The best-selling horror franchise spawned rival series such as Silent Hill and Left 4 Dead, but by 2005, the Resident Evil formula had grown creaky, having gained sequels and prequels for almost a decade to diminishing returns.
Yes, love requires some labor. But that shouldn’t define the relationship.
Marriage is work: I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard that saying. In my personal life, I heard it from youth pastors at Bible camp, from well-meaning aunts at bridal showers, even from the woman who threaded my eyebrows the week before my wedding. In popular culture, I’ve seen the adage espoused on Martha Stewart’s website and by Ben Affleck on the Oscars stage. The idea has the sheen of a proverb, timeless and true.
So after my wedding a few years ago, I attempted to be the best marriage worker I could be. I scheduled biweekly budget meetings and preached the benefits of the “I” statement in an argument. I analyzed my husband’s working style to optimize how we could divide unloading the dishwasher and vacuuming the kitchen. At its best, this attitude gave our marriage the clean hum of a caffeinated, productive morning at the office—every task checked off, every email replied to. At its worst, I felt resentful, exhausted, and miserly with my affection, like I could dole it out only after one of us had completed a job. Viewing marriage as labor never made me feel more connected to the man I had chosen to partner with.