President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a joint news conference on Saturday night at Mar-a-Lago, responding to North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile.
“North Korea’s most recent missile launch is absolutely intolerable,” Abe said, speaking through an interpreter. “North Korea must fully comply with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.” He pointed to Trump’s presence at the impromptu news conference as evidence of the new president’s commitment to the strength of the alliance.
Then Trump stepped forward to speak. “I just want everyone to understand and fully know that the United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent,” he said. “Thank you.”
The statements were somewhat more measured than the words of South Korea’s acting president, Hwang Kyo-Ahn. “Our government, in tandem with the international community, is doing its best to ensure a corresponding response to punish the North,” he said earlier.
The missile was launched hours earlier over the Korean peninsula, flying some 300 miles into the Sea of Japan. It was unclear whether this was a test of a shorter-range missile, a successful flight of the mid-range Musadan missile, or a test of one or more stages of the intercontinental ballistic missile that North Korea is attempting to develop.
North Korean weapons development programs, including its nuclear arsenal, have challenged successive American administrations, and now present an early test to the Trump administration.
Yale Changes the Name of Calhoun College Over Ties to Racism
Yale University announced Saturday that it would rename its residential college that bore the name of John C. Calhoun, a Yale graduate, U.S. vice president, white supremacist and advocate of slavery. The college will now be named after Grace Murray Hopper, a mathematician who graduated from the university in 1934 and left a teaching role to enlist in the Navy during World War II. The name change is a reversal of a decision made last spring, when Yale’s president, Peter Salovey, said he would not remove Calhoun’s name, because he thought it better to confront history, not to erase it. In that same spirit, Calhoun’s name will not be removed from the college, but will appear alongside Hopper’s, although the college will only be referred to by the latter. Hopper left her teaching job at Vassar and joined the Navy to help defeat Fascism, and she remained in service most of her life. But she is much better known for her work on early computers, developing code and language that allowed non-specialists to use them. The protest and petition over the college’s namesake began not long after a white supremacist in South Carolina shot and killed nine black worshipper at a church. The backlash led South Carolina to take down the Confederate flag that flew above the state capitol, as well as petitions for other colleges to remove names or images of historical figures who were pro-slavery or white supremacists.
A 6.7 magnitude earthquake hit the the Philippines late Friday, killing at least six people and injuring more than 100. The city of Surigao, in the country’s southern Mindanao region, was worst hit and the quake shut off power, destroyed homes, and took down a bridge. Since the initial quake, more than 100 aftershocks have been felt. The government set up evacuation centers, but they have struggled to accommodate everyone. More than a thousand people spent the night outside the provincial capitol building, and by morning emergency crews were passing out food and other supplies. Rescue workers are now going through the rubble of toppled buildings, pulling out some trapped survivors. Seismologists say the epicenter struck along the Philippine fault zone, which last moved in 1879.
Hundreds of Whales Die in New Zealand After They Beached Themselves
More than 650 pilot whales have beached themselves in the past two days along a stretch of New Zealand coastline called Farewell Spit, and about 330 have died so far. Dozens of volunteers from around the country worked to keep the whales cool, bucketing water on their bodies, and they managed to push about 100 back to the ocean. But early Saturday morning another pod of 240 swam onto the beach. The rescuers are waiting until the next high tide, which comes Sunday morning, until they can save this new pod. It’s not clear why whales beach themselves. Bite marks from a shark were found on at least one of the whales, so they may have driven themselves onto land looking for safety. Another possibility is that when one whale swims too far onto the coast it becomes confused and sends out a distress call. When other whales come to save it they also become beached. This area in New Zealand, on the South Island, has seen large pods of whales beach themselves before, but never this bad.
The generation that grew up with Rebecca Black’s “Friday” isn’t just nostalgic for that novelty tune—it’s making music inspired by it.
Ten years ago, the most Googled name in the world belonged to a wide-smiling 13-year-old girl everyone seemed to be laughing at. She was Rebecca Black of “Friday,” the calendar-themed sing-along that reached megafame by being, in many people’s judgment, the worst song ever. Amid cheesy production by the ARK Music Factory—a now-defunct Southern California firm that Black’s mom had paid $4,000 to make the song—Black’s auto-tuned voice bleated about cereal, front seats, back seats, and “fun, fun, fun.” In the music video, which featured tweens riding around in a convertible, and on talk shows where hosts quizzed Black about why her song was so hated, she never seemed to drop her grin.
Reducing hours without reducing pay would reignite an essential but long-forgotten moral project: making American life less about work.
The 89 people who work at Buffer, a company that makes social-media management tools, are used to having an unconventional employer. Everyone’s salary, including the CEO’s, is public. All employees work remotely; their only office closed down six years ago. And as a perk, Buffer pays for any books employees want to buy for themselves.
So perhaps it is unsurprising that last year, when the pandemic obliterated countless workers’ work-life balance and mental health, Buffer responded in a way that few other companies did: It gave employees an extra day off each week, without reducing pay—an experiment that’s still running a year later. “It has been such a godsend,” Essence Muhammad, a customer-support agent at Buffer, told me.
There’s no way of knowing how bad things will get in the U.S. In a way, that’s a luxury.
This much is clear: The coronavirus is becoming more transmissible. Ever since the virus emerged in China, it has been gaining mutations that help it spread more easily among humans. The Alpha variant, first detected in the United Kingdom last year, is 50 percent more transmissible than the original version, and now the Delta variant, first detected in India, is at least 40 percent more transmissible than Alpha.
What’s less certain, however, is how the virus’s increased transmissibility will affect the pandemic in the United States. Alpha’s arrival prompted worries about a new surge in the spring, but one never came. The proportion of Alpha cases kept going up, but the total number of cases kept going down. People got vaccinated. Alpha became dominant in the U.S. Cases fell even further. The virus had become more biologically transmissible, but it wasn’t being transmitted to more people.
The Apple TV+ series Physical is a reminder that making people hate their body is a thriving pillar of American commerce.
This is supposed to be the season of unleashed, exuberant exhibitionism. Many of us have swaddled our pale bodies in Lycra and terry cloth for more than a year; the theory of Hot Vax Summer is that we’re long overdue to expose them to the cruel light of other people’s eyes. In the music video for “Solar Power,” Lorde basks on the beach in a lemon-yellow crop top, the symmetry of her rib cage its own work of art. “Forget all of the tears that you’ve cried; it’s over,” she sings, shooing away our literal and metaphorical winter of COVID-19. (Predictably, the outfit she wears—$615 plus tax!—sold out immediately.) I watched most of Physical—Apple TV+’s new series about a 1980s aerobics queen-in-waiting—with this in mind, idly running my hand over and over my unsculpted midriff, fighting the impulse to throw on a leotard and sweat joyfully along to “Space Age Love Song.” This is the conflict at the center of American consumerist fitness spectacle: Even when it’s at its most transparently questionable, the promise is almost impossible to resist.
A common ideology underlies the practices of many ultra-wealthy people: The government can’t be trusted with money.
When ProPublica published its report last week on the tax profiles of 25 of the richest Americans, jaws dropped across the United States. How was it possible that plutocrats such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett could pay nothing in income taxes to the federal government? What sneaky sleights of pen, what subterfuge, what acts of turpitude could have led to this result?
The shock stems, in part, from a disturbing reality: Nowhere does ProPublica assert that these men cheated, lied, or did anything felonious to lower their tax burdens. The naked fact of the matter is that not a single one of the documented methods and practices that allowed these billionaires to so radically minimize their tax obligations was illegal.
Farrow says she witnessed disturbing and occasionally ghastly things for years. Why didn’t she act earlier?
The four-part HBO docuseriesAllen v. Farrow opens with a gliding aerial shot of Manhattan, the camera moving slowly across Central Park: the baseball fields, the reservoir, the dark-green trees, lush summer, fecundity. But the music doesn’t suggest summer splendor; it’s ominous and portentous. We fly past the park, and the camera comes to rest at the grand facade of the Plaza Hotel, with its famous mansard roof, the copper burnished by time to a patina of sea-foam green, an echo of the green park beyond it. It’s a strangely loaded opening to the series: The Plaza figures in the saga only as the site of two press conferences related to the bitter custody fight between Mia Farrow and Woody Allen. But the music and the lingering shot of the building make it seem like a sinister location.
Leagues are seeing the downside of treating vaccines as simply a matter of personal choice.
When the NBA announced Wednesday that Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul was being sidelined indefinitely under the league’s coronavirus-safety protocols, the next question was obvious: Had Paul been vaccinated?
For COVID-19 concerns to interrupt Paul’s brilliant playoff run seemed particularly cruel—not only because the widespread availability of vaccines has made transmission of the virus largely preventable, but also because the Suns had just secured a spot in the Western Conference finals. Even though Paul is one of the best NBA point guards ever, this week’s development was another unfortunate entry in his long history of medical problems during the playoffs.
The television analysts Matt Barnes and Jalen Rose, both of whom are former NBA players, soon reported that Paul had indeed been vaccinated. But all the discussion of his status raised another important question: Do fans even have the right to know, and do journalists have the right to ask, if a player has been vaccinated against COVID-19?
Of all the injuries we suffered, mine is the worst. My brain injury has shaken my confidence in my own personality, my own existence.
The worst things can happen on the most beautiful days. My family’s worst day was a perfect one in the summer of 2019. We picked my daughter up from camp and talked about where to go for lunch: the diner or the burger place. I don’t remember which we chose. What I do remember: being woken up, again and again, by doctors who insist on asking me the same questions—my name, where I am, what month it is—and telling me the same story, a story that I am sure is wrong.
“You were in a car accident,” they say. But this cannot be. We’re having lunch and then going on a hike. I had promised the think tank where I work that I’d call in to a 4 p.m. meeting.
“You are in Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital in New Hampshire.” Another ludicrous statement. I started the day in Vermont. Surely if I had crossed the river to New Hampshire I would know it.
Why are many dating practices a throwback to an earlier era?
Heterosexual women of a progressive bent often say they want equal partnerships with men. But dating is a different story entirely. The women I interviewed for a research project and book expected men to ask for, plan, and pay for dates; initiate sex; confirm the exclusivity of a relationship; and propose marriage. After setting all of those precedents, these women then wanted a marriage in which they shared the financial responsibilities, housework, and child care relatively equally. Almost none of my interviewees saw these dating practices as a threat to their feminist credentials or to their desire for egalitarian marriages. But they were wrong.
As a feminist sociologist, I’ve long been interested in how gender influences our behavior in romantic relationships. I was aware of the research that showed greater gains in gender equality at work than at home. Curious to explore some of the reasons behind these numbers, I spent the past several years talking with people about their dating lives and what they wanted from their marriages and partnerships. The heterosexual and LGBTQ people I interviewed—more than 100 in total—were highly educated, professional-track young adults who lived in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. This was not a cross section of America, for certain, but I did expect to hear progressive views. Most wanted equal partnerships where they could share both financial and family responsibilities. Almost everyone I interviewed was quite vocal in their support of gender equality and didn’t shy away from the feminist label.
People in the United States no longer agree on the nation’s purpose, values, history, or meaning. Is reconciliation possible?
Nations, like individuals, tell stories in order to understand what they are, where they come from, and what they want to be. National narratives, like personal ones, are prone to sentimentality, grievance, pride, shame, self-blindness. There is never just one—they compete and constantly change. The most durable narratives are not the ones that stand up best to fact-checking. They’re the ones that address our deepest needs and desires. Americans know by now that democracy depends on a baseline of shared reality—when facts become fungible, we’re lost. But just as no one can live a happy and productive life in nonstop self-criticism, nations require more than facts—they need stories that convey a moral identity. The long gaze in the mirror has to end in self-respect or it will swallow us up.