A Deadly Tornado Cuts Through Southern Mississippi
A tornado struck the southern Mississippi city of Hattiesburg early Saturday in the dark and ripped roofs off homes, downed trees, and killed four people. The tornado was part of a violent storm rolling across the area, bringing sheets of rain and heavy winds. Hattiesburg is a city of about 46,000, and a search is still underway there for those who might be trapped in their homes beneath debris. Pictures of the damage sent out by the city and residents showed crumpled homes and trees in the street. A fire station received heavy damage, as well as William Carey University, a private Christian college, where the windows shattered and parts of the roof tore off. The mayor of Hattiesburg declared a state of emergency. The National Weather Service in Jackson, Mississippi, issued a severe weather warning for the state and parts of Arkansa, telling people to expect hail the size of golfballs, winds gust up to 60 miles per hour, and possibly more tornados.
A Bombing Attack in a Pakistani Vegetable Market Kills 22 People
A bomb exploded Saturday in a vegetable market in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region of Kurram and killed at least 22 people and wounded 50 others. The blast happened in the city of Parachinar, a mainly Shia Muslim area near the border of Afghanistan. A sectarian militant group called Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, a banned Sunni extremist faction of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility, and has carried out similar attacks in the area in the past. There are varied accounts of what caused the blast, with some saying it was an improvised explosive device hidden in a box of vegetables, and others saying it was a suicide attack. Some of the wounded were airlifted to a hospital in Peshawar, the capital of another province nearby. It’s expected the death toll will rise as other wounded victims die from their wounds. The region of Kurram has been the site of increased violence lately, as the Pakistani army carries out operations to fight extremists in the area. In 2015 a bomb blast in the same market killed more than 20 people.
A Bus Full of Hungarian Students Returning From a Field Trip Crashes in Italy and Kills 16 People
A bus full of Hungarian students returning from a ski field trip in France crashed into a pylon while driving through Italy and killed 16 people, injuring about 40 more. Police in the nearby city of Verona, in the north of Italy, said the victims were teenage students, parents, and teachers on their way back to Budapest. Officers are still investigating the cause of the crash, and said there was no other vehicle involved and it appears the bus veered off the road of its own accord. A driver who was following the bus as it crashed told an Italian radio station he’d noticed a problem with one of the wheels on the bus and had tried to alert the driver, The Guardianreported. After slamming into the pylon the bus caught fire, and some of its 55 passengers were thrown out of the windows while others were trapped with the flames. The survivors were taken to local hospitals, and at least one person was placed in a medically induced coma.
The star’s first single since Reputation has almost none of the elements that once made her interesting, but it does have a dolphin screech for a chorus.
One of the most impressive things about Taylor Swift is that she keeps finding a way to offend people simply with sound alone. The story’s been the same every album rollout since 2012’s Red: Swift, the onetime mascot for speaking your own truth over humble country strums, “goes pop,” garishly and greatly. The bungee-jump yodels of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” the Jazzercise drum line of “Shake It Off,” and the rude robotics of “Look What You Made Me Do” each represented a fresh, unapologetic kind of tackiness. The first listen, in every case, had to trigger a Yikes.
That Yikes, for both die-hard fans and more reluctant admirers, tended to flip to Yes! as Swift’s idiosyncratic cleverness came out with repeat listens. Even the dour Reputation, her 2017 album that amounted to a slight commercial disappointment for her, is more charming than it initially seemed. But at the present moment, hours after Swift kicked off a new album cycle with the single “ME!,” it’s very hard to imagine the reconciliation process replaying this time. The song is everything that gives pop a bad rap.
In the open-plan office, wireless headphones are the new cubicles.
Once upon a time, offices had walls inside them. They weren’t glass, like the conference rooms of 2019, but made of drywall and usually painted a neutral color, like many of the walls you know and love. Over time, office walls gave way to cubicles. Now, for many office workers, the cubicles are also gone. There are only desks.
If you’re under 40, you might have never experienced the joy of walls at work. In the late 1990s, open offices started to catch on among influential employers—especially those in the booming tech industry. The pitch from designers was twofold: Physically separating employees wasted space (and therefore money), and keeping workers apart was bad for collaboration. Other companies emulated the early adopters. In 2017, a survey estimated that 68 percent of American offices had low or no separation between workers.
The legend of the Confederate leader’s heroism and decency is based in the fiction of a person who never existed.
The strangest part about the continued personality cult of Robert E. Lee is how few of the qualities his admirers profess to see in him he actually possessed.
Memorial Day has the tendency to conjure up old arguments about the Civil War. That’s understandable; it was created to mourn the dead of a war in which the Union was nearly destroyed, when half the country rose up in rebellion in defense of slavery. This year, the removal of Lee’s statue in New Orleans has inspired a new round of commentary about Lee, not to mention protests on his behalf by white supremacists.
The myth of Lee goes something like this: He was a brilliant strategist and devoted Christian man who abhorred slavery and labored tirelessly after the war to bring the country back together.
No one has capitalized on this look’s popularity more than influencers. Some have even started to make thousands of dollars on photo presets that warp anyone’s pictures to fit this mold. But every trend has a shelf life, and as quickly as Instagram ushered in pink walls and pastel macaroons, it’s now turning on them. “Avocado toast and posts on the beach. It’s so generic and played out at this point. You can photoshop any girl into that background and it will be the same post,” said Claire, a 15-year-old who asked to be referred to by a pseudonym because of her age. “It’s not cool anymore to be manufactured.”
Last night, I expected Sean Hannity would fail the American public similarly in his interview with President Donald Trump. But it wouldn’t be fair to beer-guzzling amateurs playing recreational slow-pitch to compare what I saw to softball.
T-ball is closer to the mark.
At the interview’s end, Hannity said this about his approach to asking questions: “Sometimes I know when you do other interviews that people want to play gotcha. But every once in a while, I think it’s important for the American people to hear you in answer in your own words at length on some important issues.”
By focusing on bizarre hypotheticals, candidates keep falling into the traps we’ve seen before.
In a week during which, among other things, the White House defied multiple congressional subpoenas, the commander in chief threatened armed conflict with Mexico, and we learned that the number of Americans breathing unsafe air is at an all-time high, presidential politics was largely consumed by the following question: Should the Boston Marathon bomber be allowed to vote from jail? The odds of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev swinging an election from death row are approximately zero. But if Democrats aren’t careful, the odds of these inconsequential controversies dominating election season are dismayingly high.
Outlier hypotheticals have, of course, been around for quite a while. The most famous example came at the beginning of an October 1988 debate between the presidential candidates Michael Dukakis and George H. W. Bush. “If Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered,” CNN’s Bernard Shaw asked the Massachusetts governor, “Would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?”
Our very attempts to stave off disaster make unpredictable outcomes more likely.
Accidents are part of life. So are catastrophes. Two of Boeing’s new 737 Max 8 jetliners, arguably the most modern of modern aircraft, crashed in the space of less than five months. A cathedral whose construction started in the 12th century burned before our eyes, despite explicit fire-safety procedures and the presence of an on-site firefighter and a security agent. If Notre-Dame stood for so many centuries, why did safeguards unavailable to prior generations fail? How did modernizing the venerable Boeing 737 result in two horrific crashes, even as, on average, air travel is safer than ever before?
These are questions for investigators and committees. They are also fodder for accident theorists. Take Charles Perrow, a sociologist who published an account of accidents occurring in human-machine systems in 1984. Now something of a cult classic, Normal Accidents made a case for the obvious: Accidents happen. What he meant is that they must happen. Worse, according to Perrow, a humbling cautionary tale lurks in complicated systems: Our very attempts to stave off disaster by introducing safety systems ultimately increase the overall complexity of the systems, ensuring that some unpredictable outcome will rear its ugly head no matter what. Complicated human-machine systems might surprise us with outcomes more favorable than we have any reason to expect. They also might shock us with catastrophe.
It’s much less scientific—and more prone to gratuitous procedures—than you may think.
In the early 2000s Terry Mitchell’s dentist retired. For a while, Mitchell, an electrician in his 50s, stopped seeking dental care altogether. But when one of his wisdom teeth began to ache, he started looking for someone new. An acquaintance recommended John Roger Lund, whose practice was a convenient 10-minute walk from Mitchell’s home, in San Jose, California. Lund’s practice was situated in a one-story building with clay roof tiles that housed several dental offices. The interior was a little dated, but not dingy. The waiting room was small and the decor minimal: some plants and photos, no fish. Lund was a good-looking middle-aged guy with arched eyebrows, round glasses, and graying hair that framed a youthful face. He was charming, chatty, and upbeat. At the time, Mitchell and Lund both owned Chevrolet Chevelles, and they bonded over their mutual love of classic cars.
Fifty-five years ago, a congressman made a single addition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that changed everything.
Because of sex. Over the past 55 years, that single three-letter word has had momentous legal and social consequences for American life that the man who inserted it into the 1964 Civil Rights Act on a wintry Saturday morning could never have imagined. And now that the Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether that landmark law forbids employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the adaptive power and enduring meaning of that plain little word is about to be tested once more.
On February 8, 1964, as the House of Representatives debated passage of the bill, Howard Smith, an ardent segregationist from Virginia, rose to propose changes to four pages of Title VII, the section of the bill barring hiring and firing “because of” race, creed, religion, or color. “After the word religion, insert sex,” Smith drawled, urging his colleagues to rectify “this grave injustice … particularly in an election year.”
A software program called “Annie” uses machine learning to place refugees in cities where they are most likely to be welcomed and find success.
PITTSBURGH—Half a world away from the refugee camp in Uganda where he lived for a dozen years, Baudjo Njabu tells me about his first winter in the United States.
“The biggest challenge is the cold,” he said in Swahili, speaking through an interpreter. We’re sitting on dining chairs in his sparsely furnished living room. Outside, snow covers the grass on the other side of the glass patio doors that lead to the back of the townhouse he is renting in western Pittsburgh. Njabu recounts how his children missed school recently because the bus was delayed and they couldn’t bear the frigid temperatures. His daughter and two sons sit with their mother on a leather couch nearby, half-listening to his replies, distracted by their cellphones and an old Western playing on the television.