Trump Signs Executive Order Suspending U.S. Refugee Intake
President Trump signed an executive order Friday that among things suspends the U.S. refugee program for 120 days and bars all Syrian refugees until further notice—an expected move that comes on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which honors the millions of victims of Nazi genocide, including the tens of thousands of Jews who were denied asylum in the U.S. at the time.
The move explicitly appears to target Muslims refugees—though the White House has shied way from calling it a Muslim ban, as Trump had done during the presidential campaign. But in an interview with CBN’s Brody Files, Trump said persecuted Christians will be given a priority over others. The executive order also appears to suspend immigration from some Muslim-majority countries, with some exceptions. The secretary of Homeland Security will submit a report of countries within 30 days.
Officials have previously said the Trump administration will suspend the issuance of visas from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The seven countries account for an insignificant number of people entering the U.S.—though they account for about 40 percent of the U.S. refugee intake. Refugee and human rights groups have sharply criticized the move.
UPDATE: Theresa May Meets Trump at the White House
British Prime Minister Theresa May became the first foreign leader to meet with President Trump at the White House. The two leaders are expected Friday to discuss, among other things, a trade deal, NATO, and Russia. Trump has said he’ll negotiate directly with May over a trade deal, which the U.K. needs following its vote last summer to withdraw from the European Union. Statements from both London and Brussels in recent days suggest the process of withdrawing from the EU is likely to be anything but smooth; a trade deal the U.S. would boost May’s credentials at home ahead of an expected parliamentary vote on Brexit. Both countries remain members of NATO, and while May has called the Atlantic alliance invaluable, Trump has described it as “obsolete.” As for Russia, which Trump has said he wants to work with, May, perhaps paraphrasing a former U.S. president, said: “My advice is to engage but beware.”
Al-Shabaab Attacks a Kenyan Military Base and Kills Dozens
The militant Islamist group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for an attack on a military base Friday that reportedly killed dozens of Kenyan soldiers. A spokesman for Kenya’s military said the terrorist group had used vehicles laden with explosives to gain access to the base, located in the southern town of Kulbiyow, which is on the border of Kenya and Somalia, then raided it with their fighters. A spokesman for al-Shabaab told Reuters its fighters killed at least 66 soldiers at the base, who were deployed with a regional peacekeeping mission. These numbers have not been confirmed by the Kenyan government, and al-Shabaab’s death tolls typically differ from official counts. The militant group has waged a war in the region near Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia for more than a decade. Recently, as the African Union’s security forces clamp down on the terrorists, they have stuck back with more violence. This week alone, al-Shabaab claimed credit for an attack on a hotel in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, that killed 28 people.
President Trump is expected Friday to urge defense officials to devise a plan in 30 days to defeat ISIS. The plan, according to The New York Times, could include “American artillery on the ground in Syria and Army attack helicopters to support an assault on the group’s capital, Raqqa.” Trump makes his first visit to the Pentagon today. On Thursday, Trump renewed his calls for a wall on the southern border with Mexico and addressed Republican lawmakers at their annual retreat.
The work marriage is a strange response to our anxieties about mixed-gender friendships, heightened by the norms of a professional environment.
It started out as a fairly typical office friendship: You ate lunch together and joked around during breaks. Maybe you bonded over a shared affinity for escape rooms (or board games or birding or some other slightly weird hobby). Over time, you became fluent in the nuances of each other’s workplace beefs. By now, you vent to each other so regularly that the routine frustrations of professional life have spawned a carousel of inside jokes that leavens the day-to-day. You chat about your lives outside work too. But a lot of times, you don’t have to talk at all; if you need to be rescued from a conversation with an overbearing co-worker, a pointed glance will do. You aren’t Jim and Pam, because there isn’t anything romantic between you, but you can kind of see why people might suspect there is.
The streaming service’s restrictive new rules on password sharing among relatives reveal the industry’s nasty bias.
Netflix just unveiled (and then partially withdrew) details of a new password-sharing policy, which allows members of the same “household” to share an account. Besides being, in reality, more an anti-password-sharing policy, this revised version comes with two very large assumptions: that there is a commonly understood, universal meaning of household, and that software can determine who is and is not a member of your household.
This is a recurring form of techno-hubris: the idea that baseline concepts such as “family” have crisp definitions, and that any exceptions are outliers that would never swallow the rule. Such corporate delusion in the world of technology is so long established and common that there’s a whole genre devoted to cataloging the phenomenon: “Falsehoods Programmers Believe About X.”
Why are so many people obsessing over an 18-year-old’s face?
The scar first appears on Annie Bonelli’s TikTok onMarch 18, 2021. In the video, she is in a car, earbuds in, lip-synching to the song “I Know,” by D. Savage. The mark on her cheek is blurry and soft, like a smudge of dirt. She is bobbing her head underneath a caption about how it feels when someone accidentally likes a social-media post that’s more than a year old. The lyrics offer the answer: “You say you hate me but you stalk my page, you fucking hypocrite,” Bonelli mouths.
The comments section is filled with thousands of people pretty much admitting to doing just that. For nearly two years, hordes of sleuths have fixated on Bonelli’s face, united in a mission that has sent them scrolling through years of the teenager’s TikTok videos and back to this video in particular, where her mark is visible for the first time. They want to know the truth: Is the pretty, blond 18-year-old’s facial scar real, or did she fake it for online attention?
There are still no good answers about America’s favorite cookware.
I grew up in a nonstick-pan home. No matter what was on the menu, my dad would reach for the Teflon-coated pan first: nonstick for stir-fried vegetables, for reheating takeout, for the sunny-side-up eggs, garlic fried rice, and crisped Spam slices that constituted breakfast. Nowadays, I’m a much fussier cook: A stainless-steel pan is my kitchen workhorse. Still, when I’m looking to make something delicate, such as a golden pancake or a classic omelet, I can’t help but turn back to that time-tested fave.
And what a dream it is to use. Nonstick surfaces are so frictionless that fragile crepes and scallops practically lift themselves off the pan; cleaning up sticky foods, such as oozing grilled-cheese sandwiches, becomes no more strenuous than rinsing a plate. No wonder 70 percent of skillets sold in the U.S. are nonstick. Who can afford to mangle a dainty snapper fillet or spend time scrubbing away crisped rice?
The show proved that the right live performances can find comedy even in a dry steak.
Bowen Yang didn’t break first, but he was the cast member least able to handle the cascade of giggles that caused yesterday’s final Saturday Night Live sketch of the night to lose total control. Partway through “Lisa From Temecula,” a bit about a woman named Lisa (played by Ego Nwodim) aggressively carving up her “extra-extra-well-done” steak, Yang cracked up, throwing down his prop fork. The host, Pedro Pascal, was already chortling through his lines, as were Nwodim, Devon Walker, and Punkie Johnson. Pascal never finished his last sentence before the segment ended.
It was the kind of sketch I replayed as soon as I could, not because it was overwhelmingly funny but because the cast’s fumbles and the audience’s hollering felt brilliantly spontaneous. I noticed Molly Kearney apparently fighting the urge to break by staring intensely at nothing; Nwodim stepping onto Pascal’s leg while sawing her meat after she accidentally knocked over her chair; Yang helplessly signaling the crew for the sketch to wrap up. “Lisa From Temecula” follows in the footsteps of “Debbie Downer” and “Girlfriends Game Night,” sketches that hinged on a simple premise—the former, a visit to Disney World with a naysayer; the latter, a hangout that goes wrong when a woman brings her husband. In such sketches, the jokes aren’t the most compelling part. The cast and audience’s pure, chaotic enjoyment of them is.
It’s not environmentalists—it’s the nuclear-power industry itself.
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“WE WERE A BIT CRAZY”
Kairos Power’s new test facility is on a parched site a few miles south of the Albuquerque, New Mexico, airport. Around it, desert stretches toward hazy mountains on the horizon. The building looks like a factory or a warehouse; nothing about it betrays the moonshot exercise happening within. There, digital readouts count down the minutes, T-minus style, until power begins flowing to a test unit simulating the blistering heat of a new kind of nuclear reactor. In this test run, electricity, not uranium, will furnish the energy; graphite-encased fuel pebbles, each about the size of a golf ball, will be dummies containing no radioactive material. But everything else will be true to life, including the molten fluoride salt that will flow through the device to cool it. If all goes according to plan, the system—never tried before—will control and regulate a simulated chain reaction. When I glance at a countdown clock behind the receptionist during a visit last May, it says 31 days, 8 hours, 9 minutes, and 22 seconds until the experiment begins.
Our society is secularizing, and Christianity seems to be in long-term decline. But renewal is possible.
Upon joining the Presbyterian ministry, in the mid-1970s, I served in a town outside Richmond, Virginia. New church buildings were going up constantly. When I arrived in Manhattan in the late ’80s, however, I saw a startling sight. There on the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 20th Street was a beautiful Gothic Revival brownstone built in 1844 that had once been the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion. Now it was the Limelight, an epicenter of the downtown club scene. Thousands of people a night showed up for drugs and sex and the possibility of close encounters with the famous of the cultural avant garde. It was a vivid symbol of a culture that had rejected Christianity.
I began to notice “repurposed” church buildings all over the city. They were now condominiums, gyms, art galleries, coffee shops, pubs, and clubs, a trend that continued as my time in the city went on. In 2014 the New York Archdiocese of the Catholic Church announced that it was closing dozens of empty church buildings, and hundreds of other Protestant congregations faced dwindling membership and were unable to maintain their church homes.
The musical artist Bad Bunny—Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio—is known on social media as “San Benito”: Saint Benito, perhaps a wink to his anything-but-chaste lyrics. But the nickname has taken on a somewhat literal meaning. Bad Bunny is—particularly after his bomba- and merengue-infused, fully Spanish-language opening-act performance at last night’s Grammys—the official patron saint of Latinidad. He’s nothing like what white America, or even the Latino community, expected. But he is the saint we needed.
For the uninitiated, the Recording Academy produces two shows that are separate but, frankly, unequal: the Latin Grammys, which recognize the best Spanish-language music in the world, and the “gringo Grammys,” which recognize everything else. The latter, despite its American and white bias—even in categories rooted in Black history and heritage, such as hip-hop—has traditionally set the bar for who has, and hasn’t, been accepted into the American mainstream as pop-culture royalty.
The 2024 race is showing that the -ism will outlast the man.
Updated at 1:43 p.m. ET on February 7, 2023.
Who’s afraid of Donald Trump? Not Nikki Haley, who is reportedly on the verge of announcing a run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Not Ron DeSantis, whose own run seems certain, and who has been agitating the former president to no end. Not Mike Pompeo, who has published the sort of memoir that usually foretells a candidacy, and which criticizes Trump.
Trump is furious about these challenges, especially DeSantis’s. He railed last week against the Florida governor, calling a prospective campaign “very disloyal” and alleging that DeSantis had tearfully “begged” Trump for his endorsement in his first run for governor, in 2018. “It’s not about loyalty,” Trump said. “To me it is; it’s always about loyalty. But for a lot of people, it’s not about that.” The sudden abundance of challengers is richly ironic. Trump, who doesn’t care at all about his party, has improbably remade the GOP in his own image—yet also seems to be losing his personal appeal to its voters.
Paramore’s old sound has become trendy again—but the Nashville trio is chasing “new versions of ourselves.”
The pop-cultural vibes of the past few years have been confused and chaotic, but one story line is clear: the mainstream return of emo, music blending punkish vigor with the vulnerability of a meeting group. Young artists such as Olivia Rodrigo and Willow Smith have injected this sound into the Billboard Hot 100—a feat previously, and perhaps most excellently, accomplished during the Obama administration by the Nashville trio Paramore.
Paramore has itself been central in this recent revival. Rodrigo’s 2021 smash “Good 4 U” sounded so similar to the band’s 2007 hit, “Misery Business,” that Paramore’s singer and ex-guitarist were given writing credit. In 2022, Billie Eilish brought out that singer, Hayley Williams, to perform at Coachella. That same year, Paramore headlined a Las Vegas festival that was stacked with acts that defined the emo burst of the early 2000s. Williams even recently hosted a podcast series called Everything Is Emo.