Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said in a pre-recorded statement Wednesday that he rejects President Trump’s plan to build a wall along the border between the two countries. “Mexico does not believe in walls,” he said. “I have said it over and over again: Mexico will not pay for any wall.” Peña Nieto is scheduled to travel to Washington next week to meet with Trump. Earlier Wednesday, aides to the Mexican president said Peña Nieto was considering scrapping the trip after Trump signed an executive order which put into motion the construction of a border wall. There are still several questions remaining about his proposed border wall, including the cost of the project. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Mexico would eventually pay for the wall. Peña Nieto, in the video statement, did not mention whether he would still travel to the U.S.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Meets With Syria's Assad
Representative Tulsi Gabbard revealed Wednesday that she met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a four-day fact-finding trip to Syria and Lebanon, and reaffirmed her opposition to U.S. funding for rebel groups opposing the Syrian leader. In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, the two-term Democratic congresswoman from Hawaii said though she did not initially plan to meet with Assad, she did so because “we’ve got to meet with anyone that we need to if there is a possibility that we could achieve peace, and that’s exactly what we talked about.” She later added in a statement: “This regime change war does not serve America’s interest, and it certainly isn’t in the interest of the Syrian people.” Gabbard has long supported Assad maintaining power. Conversely, both the Obama administration and its Western allies had repeatedly called for the ouster of Assad—who has been accused of war crimes—and have thrown their support behind some of the rebel groups opposing his regime during Syria’s nearly six-year civil war. President Trump has called for a different approach, arguing that the U.S. should focus instead on ISIS—a stance which Gabbard supports. As my colleague Krishnadev Calamur noted, Gabbard’s trip to Syria may constitute a violation of the Logan Act, which restricts unauthorized individuals from contacting foreign governments engaged in a dispute with the U.S. No one has ever been prosecuted under the act, though, and Gabbard is not even the first U.S. leader to make such a trip. Virginia state Senator Dick Black met with Assad government officials on a trip to Damascus in April, and has expressed hopes to return this year. Like Gabbard, Black has been a vocal opponent of regime change in Syria, and has previously praised Assad as “heroic.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 20,000 for the first time Wednesday, after hovering around that figure since the election of President Trump and boosted by several positive economic numbers over the past month. The Dow was at 10,000 in March 1999 and has more than recovered the ground lost during the Great Recession. But, as my colleague Adrienne LaFrance noted: “There’s nothing magic about the Dow hitting 10,000—or 11,000, or 15,000, or 19,000 for that matter. The number is just a calculation based on the sum of stocks from 30 major companies… .” Still, it does hold psychological significance among traders.
Mary Tyler Moore, the actress who captivated television audiences first on TheDick Van Dyke Show and then on TheMary Tyler Moore Show, has died, her representative told several news organizations. Moore, who was hospitalized earlier this month in Connecticut, was 80 years old. Moore is perhaps best known for her role in the eponymous show in which she played Mary Richards, a local news producer in Minneapolis, from 1970 to 1977. During the course of her career, Moore won six Emmys and received a Best Actress Oscar nomination in 1980 for her work in Ordinary People. As my colleague David Sims notes, “Mary was a liberated woman in an era of television where such characters were scarce.”
Russia Arrests Kaspersky Lab Department Head for Alleged Treason
Ruslan Stoyanov, the head of computer-incidents investigation at Kaspersky Lab, was arrested over charges of treason, Russian media reported Wednesday. Kaspersky, the Moscow-based cybersecurity and anti-virus firm, issued a statement confirming the investigation, but said it concerned “a period predating [Stoyanov’s] employment at Kaspersky Lab.” Previous jobs listed on Stoyanov’s LinkedIn profile include a position at the Russian Interior Ministry’s cybercrime unit. As Sputnik, the state-run Russian news agency, reports, Stoyanov was arrested in December alongside an employee with the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), who has also been charged with treason, though the details of the investigation into either person remains unknown. Andrei Soldatov, a Russian journalist and security services expert, told the Associated Press that such an arrest was “unprecedented” for intelligence agencies and companies like Kaspersky, adding: “Intelligence agencies used to ask for Kaspersky's advice, and this is how informal ties were built. This romance is clearly over."
Usain Bolt Loses Gold Medal After Teammate Tests Positive for Doping
Nine-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt was forced to hand one of his gold medals back Wednesday after his teammate Nesta Carter tested positive for doping during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said Carter, 31, was found to have taken methylhexaneamine, a prohibited performance-enhancing substance, ahead of competing in the first leg of the Men’s 4x100 meter relay, for which he earned the Jamaican team first place alongside sprinters Michael Frater, Asafa Powell, and Bolt—all of whom were stripped of their medals. The loss of the medal for the Jamaican team propelled Trinidad and Tobago to gold, Japan to silver, and Brazil to bronze.
Several people were killed and wounded Wednesday after two explosions rocked the Dayah hotel in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. Death toll estimates have ranged from at least eight to 15 people. Somali police said a group of attackers affiliated with al-Shabaab, an Islamist group, detonated a car bomb into the gate of the hotel before storming inside and opening fire. It is unclear how many attackers were involved in the attack, though Colonel Mohamoud Abdi, a senior Somali police officer, told the Associated Press that four militants were killed. A second blast was also reported outside the hotel, injuring some people in the area, including journalists. Al-Shabaab controlled much of Somalia before it was driven out by African Union and Somali forces in 2011l the group remains an active threat and is known for targeting hotels and other public places.
Economist Intelligence Unit Downgrades U.S. to 'Flawed Democracy,' Citing Longstanding Problems
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the Economist’s data arm, has downgraded the United States from a “full democracy” to a “flawed democracy.” The move, the EIU said, wasn’t a result of President Trump’s election victory, but rather “the election of Mr Trump as US president was in large part a consequence of the longstanding problems of democracy in the US.” EIU counts 19 “full” democracies—down from 20—57 “flawed” democracies, including 17 of the EU’s 28 members; 51 “authoritarian” regimes; and 40 “hybrid” ones. Globally, the EIU said populist backlashes against the ruling elites in the U.S., U.K., and other Western countries “were an expression of deep popular dissatisfaction with the status quo and of a desire for change.” Norway tops the EIU’s Democracy Index; North Korea is last. Full index here
President Trump is expected Wednesday to announce his border wall with Mexico, fulfilling a longstanding campaign pledge that he believes will keep stop the flow of people crossing the border illegally. This morning he also said he’d order an investigation into voter fraud. Trump says he believes voter fraud cost him the popular vote, but most credible elections experts dismiss that such fraud exists on a large scale. Our Politics team will have more on Trump’s announcements.
The worst of the industry is expensive and runs from useless to counterproductive.
The diversity, equity, and inclusion industry exploded in 2020 and 2021, but it is undergoing a reckoning of late, and not just in states controlled by Republicans, where officials are dismantling DEI bureaucracies in public institutions. Corporations are cutting back on DEI spending and personnel. News outlets such as TheNew York Times and New York magazine are publishing more articles that cover the industry with skepticism. And DEI practitioners themselves are raising concerns about how their competitors operate.
The scrutiny is overdue. This growing multibillion-dollar industry was embedded into so many powerful public and private institutions so quickly that due diligence was skipped and costly failures guaranteed.
The singer’s collaboration with the rapper Ice Spice has launched a new debate about what she owes her ultra-devoted audience.
Three songs have been playing every night before Taylor Swift has taken the stage on her current tour, and each one seems to convey a different message. One track is Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me,” a classic assertion of female independence. Another is Lady Gaga’s “Applause,” a pump-up jam in which a celebrity confesses her hunger for approval. Then there’s Ice Spice’s “In Ha Mood,” a recent hip-hop song whose presence shows, among other things, that Swift is paying attention to what’s hot in pop culture—an important fact to keep in mind when evaluating the controversy now brewing around her.
Ice Spice is a 23-year-old Bronx emcee whose whispery voice and puff of red hair have become internationally famous in a very short span of time, following the TikTok success of her August 2022 single “Munch (Feelin’ U).” She features on the new remix of Swift’s track “Karma,” released last week, and this past weekend she joined Swift to perform the song at the singer’s three concerts in New Jersey. From a distance, the story feels familiar: Established star allies with rising star for mutual benefit. But the remix has unleashed a wave of indignation online, making Swift, not for the first time, a focal point for conflicting attitudes about what entertainers owe their audience. Right now, the allegation that keeps coming up is that Ice Spice is being used as a “prop”—though she’s probably better thought of as a protagonist.
Five years ago, when Bill Ferro would take a road trip in his electric BMW i3, he needed to be ready for anything.
Driving from Boston to Charlotte meant bringing along a 50-foot extension cord; a blanket, in case he needed to turn the car’s heater off to maximize its range; and a spreadsheet full of alternate plans in case the unexpected happened at public charging stations. In one memorable instance, he was forced to rush several miles at midnight to a backup charger when a plug in a dark mall parking lot not only failed to work but refused to unlatch from his car.
Today, Ferro gets into his Tesla, punches his destination into its navigation system, and doesn’t think much about running out of electrons.
In her latest work to be translated into English, Annie Ernaux examines the malaise of the modern supermarket.
The sliding doors of a supermarket open into a dilemma: Though one may find comfort in the grocery store’s order and abundance, its high stakes can also provoke anxiety—after all, this is the place where we trade hard-earned money for sustenance. “Everything was fine, would continue to be fine, would eventually get even better as long as the supermarket did not slip,” Don DeLillo’s narrator Jack Gladney observes in White Noise, commenting on the structure that supermarkets, with their rows of neatly ordered products, impose on his chaotic life. Thirty years later, Halle Butler’s protagonist in the novel Jillian enters a gourmet grocery store on a whim because “there were delights there.” The prices are so out of her budget that she has to give herself a pep talk before buying anything. “I mean, I work all the time,” she mutters. “This is why I work, isn’t it? I’m a hard worker. I can buy this cheese. It’s just cheese, I guess.” But it’s not just cheese.
More and more older adults are working—in large part because they want to.
This article was featured in One Story to Read Today, a newsletter in which our editors recommend a single must-read from The Atlantic, Monday through Friday. Sign up for it here.
The same day that Gayle and Mark Arrowood retired from their jobs at a Department of Energy lab, they drove to Sun Valley, Idaho, to start their next chapter: ski-resort bartending. Mark had a shift that very night.
Their previous roles had been intense: Over multi-decade careers, Mark had worked his way up from a janitor to a manager, and Gayle had gone to night school and become a scheduler for the lab’s projects. Because of how far away they’d lived from the lab, they had needed to wake up at 3 or 4 a.m. to make it in on time. They’d enjoyed aspects of the work, but their days had also been filled with office politicking and an itch to work for the next promotion.
A family in the Netherlands has a rare and perplexing brain condition that helps explain how we recognize color.
In his 40s, a Dutch man researchers call MAH suffered a stroke that fortunately left no lingering consequences. Still, he balked whenever doctors giving him the standard battery of cognitive tests asked about colors. It was nothing to do with the stroke, he told them. For his entire life, he had lived without a sense of color.
What did he mean? He had no problem seeing color, his doctors concluded. He easily passed the test for red-green color blindness, finding the numbers hidden in colored dots. He could put very similar hues in the right order. But he could not sort tokens into distinct colors such as red, green, blue, yellow, and orange. He could not identify the colors of the tokens. He could not imagine the color of his car. He could not even understand, when presented with a drawing of garishly blue strawberries, that the picture was odd at all.
In Shiv, what is often a cliché storyline became both poignant and tragic in the HBO show’s finale.
This article contains spoilers through the Season 4 finale of Succession.
“The journey we went on with the amniocentesis after what the blood test showed us—everything looks healthy.” With these understated words uttered by a doctor over the phone, we learned in Episode 4 of Succession’s final season that Shiv Roy (played beautifully by Sarah Snook) was pregnant. But in the episodes that followed, the show hardly acknowledged her impending motherhood. When her husband, Tom (Matthew Macfadyen), finally heard the news, sputtering, “Is that even true? Is that a new position or a tactic or what?,” his confusion mirrored my own. What was this pregnancy?
It’s a well-documented trope in television that female characters in late seasons become unexpectedly pregnant. Consider Hannah in Girls, or Rachel in Friends. Motherhood is the most dramatic endgame imaginable for a woman, these shows seem to say. Can a mother retain her sense of self? Will she grow out of her childishness? In Girls, Hannah is forced to surrender her flippancy about money and her promiscuity; she matures into someone who faces her problems head on. Yet Succession was never about the personal growth of its characters—if anything, it showcased the inevitable resurfacing of their worst qualities. I wondered whether Shiv’s development was a dramatic wrench to heighten the tension between her and Tom as their marriage faltered. Maybe it was just a simple way to accommodate Snook’s own pregnancy. But after the show’s finale aired on Sunday, I realized that it did so much more. Shiv’s imminent parenthood explained the series’ fundamental themes—and provided its final tragedy.
How did the worst leak in a decade take almost a year to be detected?
An old truism says that logistics wins wars—a recognition that outcomes on the battlefield are a result of the systems that underpin the military. Similarly, the still-mushrooming fiasco of Jack Teixeira’s disclosure of national secrets is not just about a single service member or incident, but a cascading failure of systems within the armed services.
Teixeira, who was arrested in April, is accused of using his position in the Massachusetts Air National Guard to share top-secret intelligence with friends in the social-media forum Discord over the course of months—including sensitive information about the war in Ukraine and discussions with other governments.
Happy Valley’s Catherine Cawood is that rarest of TV unicorns: an ordinary woman written with such care that she becomes extraordinary.
The last time we saw Happy Valley’s Catherine Cawood, she was trying—and quite magnificently failing—to capture one of her police-force colleagues, the nebbishy John Wadsworth, who’d finally been implicated in the murder of his lover. The pursuit is a bleak comedy of errors: Directed by her superiors not to pursue John down train tracks, Catherine mutters “bollocks” and follows him anyway. The pair end up on a bridge in relentless rain. Catherine, who says that she’s never trained in negotiation, asks John—who’s successfully talked down 17 people from various ledges—what to say to compel him not to jump. She has to keep him talking, John says. “You’ve got to be assertive. Reassuring. Empathetic and kind. And you’ve got to listen.” Catherine tells John to take his time, that she’ll be there. His face discernibly changes. “I love my kids,” he tells her; he propels himself backward.
Identifying our desires can point us to our deeper values.
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The first time I heard of “manifestation” was in 2019, as I coasted up California’s Highway 5, listening to a podcast with Lacy Phillips, an actor turned manifestation coach. Manifestation, she explained, is the intentional practice of bringing our desires into existence. According to Phillips, the universe collaborates with us to make good things happen. “There’s a road map to have whatever story I want, and to create whatever story I want,” she said. “I have the autonomy, the power.”
As a United Methodist minister, I immediately heard alarm bells in my head. Phillips promised access to a world where people could make their dreams come true, for just $27 a month. The idea that people could obtain what they wanted most through sheer power of thought cut against both my theology and my own experience. I knew that our lives are rarely so predictable, determined by simple formulas. I also knew that the world is full of schemers eager to make money off people’s hopes and dreams.