In a speech packed with policy proposals, a dark view of the past, and hope for the future, President Trump addressed a joint session of Congress Tuesday evening. As my colleague Clare Foran notes, the speech was “perhaps more notable for its tone than its substance.” She writes:
It marked a striking change of tone from his campaign and his early days in office, from a president who has frequently feuded with critics, including members of his own party. The optimistic tone was equally a departure from Trump’s inaugural address, in which he painted a picture of a country in decline and memorably promised to end “American carnage.” On Tuesday, he acknowledged that “the challenges we face as a nation are great,” but he added “our people are even greater.”
For a full breakdown of the moments of the speech and what the president proposed, check out our full coverage here.
Malaysian authorities charged two women in the death of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The women, Siti Aishah from Indonesia and Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam, face the death penalty if convicted. Kim was killed on February 13 at the Kuala Lumpur airport when the women allegedly rubbed a VX nerve agent on his face. Lawyers for the women have said they thought they were playing a prank on a gameshow. Kim died within 20 minutes of the attack. The North Korean government is suspected in orchestrating the attack. Leaders in Pyongyang have denied those accusations. Authorities in Malaysia are seeking to question a diplomat in the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
FBI to Investigate Shooting of 2 Indian Men in Kansas as a Hate Crime
Authorities will investigate the shooting at a Kansas bar that resulted in the death of an Indian man as a hate crime, the FBI announced Tuesday. The decision comes nearly one week after 51-year-old Adam Purinton allegedly yelled at Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, both 32-year-old Indian men, to “get out of my country” before opening fire, killing Kuchibhotla and wounding Madasani. Ian Grillot, another bar patron who tried to intervene in the shooting, was also injured. Purinton, who was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder, reportedly believed Kuchibhotla and Madasani to be of Middle Eastern descent. The incident has since prompted fears within the Indian community of future racially-motivated attacks, and Madasani’s father, Jaganmohan Reddy, cautioned Indian parents against sending their children to the U.S., adding: “The situation seems to be pretty bad after Trump took over as the U.S. president.” In a press briefing Friday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called suggestions of a correlation between the shooting and President Trump’s immigration policies “absurd.”
2 Police Officers Shot in Houston; Suspect at Large
Updated at 3:42 p.m.
Two Houston police officers responding to a burglary were shot Tuesday in the southwest portion of the city, prompting a shelter-in-place for residents of the area. Both officers were shot multiple times and are being treated at local hospitals. One, identified as Officer Jose Munoz, a 10-year veteran, received non-life-threatening injuries; the other, Officer Ronnie Cortez, a 24-year veteran of the force, was critically injured, Chief Art Acevedo said at a news conference. Acevedo said there were two suspects, one of whom was killed at the scene, and the other who is at large.
Update: two officers shot during incident at 8714 Sterlingame; both being treated at hospitals; conditions not being released at this time
Female and Child Migrants Face Rampant Abuse in Libya, UNICEF Says
Female and child migrants making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe face sexual abuse, violence, and exploitation at the hands of smugglers and traffickers, a report published Tuesday by UNICEF finds. According to the UN agency, there are more than 250,000 migrants in Libya; women make up 11 percent and children 9 percent. These migrants are often held within any one of the 34 government-run detention centers identified throughout the country, though UNICEF said many of them are also held in unofficial detention centers run by armed groups. Of the 122 women and children interviewed by UNICEF, three-quarters “said they experienced violence, harassment, or aggression at the hands of adults” while in detention, and nearly half of them reported sexual abuse. Those interviewed also reported a lack of access to proper nutrition, sanitation, health care, and legal access—conditions UNICEF described as “living hellholes.” Afshan Khan, the UNICEF Regional Director and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe, said in a statement that migration routes from Libya to Europe are “controlled by smugglers, traffickers and other people seeking to prey upon desperate children and women who are simply seeking refuge or a better life,” adding: “We need safe and legal pathways and safeguards to protect migrating children that keep them safe and keep predators at bay.” Indeed, there are few safeguards for migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean. Of the more than 180,000 who attempted the journey from Libya to Italy last year, more than 4,500 drowned—a figure which made 2016 the deadliest year for migrants on record.
UPDATE: Samsung's Chief, 4 Executives Charged in Corruption Scandal
Updated at 9:19 a.m. ET
South Korean prosecutors say they charged Lee Jae-yong, the Samsung heir, and four other company executives with corruption and embezzlement in a scandal that has already resulted in the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. Three of the four executives, who were named in Tuesday’s announcement, resigned from the company. Lee was arrested earlier this month. My colleague Yasmeen Serhan previously reported: “The arrest concerns multimillion-dollar donations the Samsung executive made to companies associated with Choi Soon-sil, a longtime friend of Park whose Rasputin-like relationship with the president prompted allegations of undue influence and ultimately led to Park’s impeachment. Prosecutors allege Lee made the donations in exchange for political support for a 2015 merger between Samsung and Cheil Industries, an affiliated firm. Though Lee confirmed he made the donations, he denied that they were bribes.” The charges could have major implications for Samsung; Lee has run the conglomerate since his father, Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack in 2014.
UPDATE: 'I Don’t Think We’ve Explained it Well Enough to the American Public,' Trump Says
Updated at 9:01 a.m. ET
President Trump toldFox & Friends he’d give himself an “A” on his achievements so far, but would give himself a “C or C-plus” for messaging. “I think I’ve done great things, but I don’t think I have—I and my people—I don’t think we’ve explained it well enough to the American public,” he said. The remarks came hours before his scheduled remarks to a joint session of Congress. Trump said he’d use the address to elaborate on his plans for the military, border security, the economy, and health care. The speech isn’t technically a State of the Union address, which is given a year after a president has been in office. The address, which begins at 9 p.m., comes a little more than a month after Trump’s inauguration as president. My colleague Molly Ball assessed his time in office so far.
If mothers and fathers speak openly about child-care obligations, their colleagues will adapt.
I’m an economist. I love data and evidence. I love them so much that I write books about data-based parenting. When questions arise about how to support parents at work (for example, from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter), my first impulse is to endorse paid parental leave. Mountains of data and evidence show that paid leave is good for children’s health, and for mothers in particular. I am more than comfortable making a data-based case for this policy.
But experience, rather than pure data, leads me to believe that what happens after paid leave is nearly as crucial—that is to say, what happens when Mom and Dad return to the office. We need to normalize the experience of parenting while working.
I own three pairs of noise-canceling headphones. Two go over my ears, enveloping them in cozy tombs of silence. One pair consists of earbuds, one of which I jam into my ear to block out the world while I use my other ear for phone interviews. Besides the noise-canceling kind, I have headphones for basically every activity I do. In fact, I recently came to the disturbing realization that there’s rarely a moment of my day when my ears are not filled with or covered by something.
Like many other Americans, I now wear AirPods all day at my desk to combat the awful tyranny of the open office. Since they don’t cancel noise, they provide me with writing music while allowing me to listen up for my bosses. I don’t like exercise classes and their preselected, generic playlists, so instead I work out with headphones and listen to my own special running mix, the contents of which can be disclosed only upon my death. (Let’s just say the dream of the ’90s is alive on my Spotify.) I like to listen to podcasts while I cook, so the earbuds come in handy while I chop and sauté. And I can hook up headphones to a Roku when I want to watch a depressing foreign TV show and my boyfriend wants to do literally anything else.
If Democrats want to address simmering middle-class anger, they need to deliver justice.
Normally, a scandal centered on how rich parents used bribes to win their children’s admittance into elite colleges wouldn’t play so heavily in the national news. No one much cared when Donald Trump promised large donations as his children enrolled at Penn. But the outrage over the Varsity Blues investigation perfectly illustrates what may be the most important, least understood, and underappreciated political dynamic of our era: a full-on middle-class revolt against the elites and the privileges they hoard. For all the focus on inequality and social justice, this middle-class revolt is the most important barrier standing between Democrats and the White House. They can’t afford to ignore it.
Smith College's unusual ceremony is more than just a silly tradition.
Smith College’s annual commencement ceremony begins like any other: Graduating seniors at the women’s liberal-arts college are called up one by one to collect their diploma from the president. Perhaps some students exchange a wink with the regalia-clad honorary-degree recipients nearby as they stride across a platform overlooking the dorms they’d for years called home; others may pause to flip their cap’s tassel while blowing a kiss to the sea of parents who have long awaited this milestone commemorating their daughter’s metamorphosis from undergraduate to alumna.
Except the moment, technically, hasn’t happened quite yet: The name, degree, and accolades printed inside each padded holder seldom belong to the woman who receives it. They very likely belong, rather, to one of her nearly 700 classmates.
Some American women see giving up their babies as more emotionally painful than terminating their pregnancies.
Along the highways of states where support for abortion is at its lowest, it’s not uncommon to see road signs that say choose adoption and similar messages. The signs capture a preferred anti-abortion retort to outcries over abortion restrictions, like the kind Georgia and Alabama just passed: Women with unwanted pregnancies should find adoptive families.
Adoption is a choice that certain women who don’t wish to keep their babies enter into happily. Some women find abortion to be anathema and rule it out among their options for an unwanted pregnancy. And for women considering abortion who ultimately settle on adoption, the process often benefits everyone involved.
Of course, adoption is not a reasonable option for all pregnant women. Some girls and women would imperil their health if they carried a baby to term. Many pro-abortion-rights people believe it is immoral to compel a woman to carry a pregnancy she does not want, especially if that pregnancy is a result of rape or incest. And some studies show that abortion is medically safer than childbirth.
The brutality of fame can change the basic way people evaluate others.
Human history is riddled with people whose limited credentials have not stopped them from successfully hawking miracle cures and religious salvation, but Grigori Rasputin stands out as a talented wellness grifter even now. After arriving in St. Petersburg in the early 1900s, Rasputin ego-massaged his way into the upper echelons of Russian society, charming the rich and influential to access ever-greater levels of power until he reached the ruling Romanovs, the family that had been in control of Russia for more than three centuries.
Most of what historians know about what Rasputin actually did to ingratiate himself—or what skills he actually had—has been passed down through mere rumor and legend. What’s clearer is that the Romanovs apparently considered Rasputin’s abilities so indispensable to the health of their son and the legitimacy of their government that he was allowed to run roughshod over their court and alienate the trust of the public, hastening the Bolshevik Revolution and the Romanovs’ deaths.
The Massachusetts senator is betting big on higher-education funding.
“Race matters,” Senator Elizabeth Warren told me in an interview last Wednesday, “and we need to face it.” Two days earlier, Warren became the latest Democratic presidential hopeful to make the trek to North Philadelphia with Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, to meet with union members. These town halls have a rhythm: Brief remarks from Weingarten, a short monologue from the candidate, and then questions from the most important people in the room: teachers. After Warren’s speech, she was pressed about the growing wall of student debt—and it drew out her higher-education pitch.
The Massachusetts senator and former law professor launched into a lecture about how to reform paying for higher education, declaring, “We need to talk about the racial dimension of this head on.” She ran down the stats. “Students of color are more likely to have to borrow money to go to college, they borrow more money when they’re in college, and they have a harder time paying for it when they get out of college,” Warren said. There was a difference, a systemic one, she argued, and the policy makers needed to fix it.
George R. R. Martin insists that the final entries in his fantasy series are still coming—even though HBO has finished telling his story first.
This story contains spoilers for the final season of Game of Thrones.
For many years, George R. R. Martin has been repeatedly asked the morbid question of what would happen if he were to die before finishing his A Song of Ice and Fire series. Since 1996, when the first entry, A Game of Thrones, was published, Martin has written five novels as well as several spin-off stories. But his progress has slowed to the point where HBO’s TV adaptation aired eight seasons and wrapped up its narrative before Martin has finished his penultimate work, the long-awaited The Winds of Winter. The huge success of HBO’s Game of Thrones brought more fans to Martin’s writing, which in turn has only added to the chorus of frustration about his creative pace.
As White House stonewalling continues, Democrats are starting to speak more openly about the constitutional option, but their leader isn’t budging.
Back in 2007, Donald Trump sent the newly sworn-in speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, a letter celebrating her ascension.
“Nancy—you’re the best. Congrats. Donald,” the entertainer wrote, Politico reported in 2011. The correspondence between the two has taken a more combative tone recently, which makes the current moment all the stranger: Pelosi might be the biggest barrier between President Trump and an impeachment inquiry right now.
Pelosi has made her personal opposition to impeaching Trump clear. In March, for example, she told The Washington Post, “I’m not for impeachment … Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.”
Game of Thrones,which always commented on the social effects of disability, ended by selling its final twist as inspirational.
This story contains major spoilers for the series finale of Game of Thrones.
“A boy born broken, raised to see himself not as disabled, just different.”
That’s how a newscaster described Oscar Pistorius in an uplifting segment on the South African runner before he became the first double-leg amputee to compete at the Olympics (and quite before he was convicted of killing his girlfriend). I came across the clip in a YouTube compilation documenting popular media’s obsession with portraying disability as something to be “overcome,” a trope that doesn’t so much help viewers understand people with disabilities as it does turn them into inspirational tchotchkes. There’s even a term that disability activists use for this sort of portrayal: the “supercrip.”