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 class divide is already toxic, and is fast becoming unbridgeable. You’re probably part of the problem.
1. The Aristocracy Is Dead …
For about a week every year in my childhood, I was a member of one of America’s fading aristocracies. Sometimes around Christmas, more often on the Fourth of July, my family would take up residence at one of my grandparents’ country clubs in Chicago, Palm Beach, or Asheville, North Carolina. The breakfast buffets were magnificent, and Grandfather was a jovial host, always ready with a familiar story, rarely missing an opportunity for gentle instruction on proper club etiquette. At the age of 11 or 12, I gathered from him, between his puffs of cigar smoke, that we owed our weeks of plenty to Great-Grandfather, Colonel Robert W. Stewart, a Rough Rider with Teddy Roosevelt who made his fortune as the chairman of Standard Oil of Indiana in the 1920s. I was also given to understand that, for reasons traceable to some ancient and incomprehensible dispute, the Rockefellers were the mortal enemies of our clan.
When so many students have outstanding grades and test scores, schools have to get creative about triaging applicants.
For generations, two numbers have signaled whether a student could hope to get into a top college: his or her standardized test score and his or her grade-point average.
In the past 15 years, though, these lodestars have come to mean less and less. The SAT has been redesigned twice in that time, making it difficult for admissions officers to assess, for instance, whether last year’s uptick in average scores was the result of better students or just a different test. What’s more, half of American teenagers now graduate high school with an A average, according to a recent study. With application numbers at record highs, highly selective colleges are forced to make impossible choices, assigning a fixed number of slots to a growing pool of students who, each year, are harder to differentiate using these two long-standing metrics.
The president’s unpredictability once worked to his advantage—but now, it is producing a mounting list of foreign-policy failures.
“Gradually and then suddenly.” That was how one of Ernest Hemingway’s characters described the process of going bankrupt. The phrase applies vividly to the accumulating failures of President Trump’s foreign-policy initiatives.
Donald Trump entered office with more scope for initiative in foreign policy than any of his recent predecessors.
In his campaign for president, Trump had disparaged almost every element of the past 70 years of U.S. global leadership: NATO, free trade, European integration, support for democracy, the Iraq War, the Iran deal, suspicion of Russia, outreach to China. Trump’s election jolted almost every government into a frantic effort to understand what to expect. Other countries’ uncertainty enhanced Trump’s relative power—and so, perversely, did Trump’s policy ignorance and obnoxious behavior. After eight years under the accommodating Barack Obama, the United States suddenly turned a menacing face to the world. In the short run, that menace frightened other states into attempted appeasement of this unpredictable new president.
In one of the loveliest scenes of Book Club, the newest addition to the Diane Keaton oeuvre, our beloved matriarch sits across from her dashing pilot paramour (Andy Garcia) as the two dine with the hilariously CGI-ed Santa Monica sunset behind them. Their banter is sweet, the current between them electric even though the recently widowed Diane had been apprehensive about returning to the world of dating. When the pilot asks Diane about her first kiss, she becomes suddenly transfixed.
As Diane stares off into the distance, she breathily recalls the moment she shared with a boy named Terry Sanders, who kissed her with passion and urgency even though neither knew what they were doing. Diane seems to blush with her whole body as she tells the story, fluttering her hands upto her own face as she describes the way Terry held it in his awkward, passionate grip. The pilot watches Diane with awe, eventually joking that he wishes he had been kissed by Terry Sanders. Diane smiles, returning once again to the man in front of her.
I could only have seen it there, on the waxed hardwood floor of my elementary-school auditorium, because I was young then, barely 7 years old, and cable had not yet come to the city, and if it had, my father would not have believed in it. Yes, it had to have happened like this, like folk wisdom, because when I think of that era, I do not think of MTV, but of the futile attempt to stay awake and navigate the yawning whiteness of Friday Night Videos, and I remember that there were no VCRs among us then, and so it would have had to have been there that I saw it, in the auditorium that adjoined the cafeteria, where after the daily serving of tater tots and chocolate milk, a curtain divider was pulled back and all the kids stormed the stage. And I would have been there among them, awkwardly uprocking, or worming in place, or stiffly snaking, or back-spinning like a broken rotor, and I would have looked up and seen a kid, slightly older, facing me, smiling to himself, then moving across the floor by popping up alternating heels, gliding in reverse, walking on the moon.
The interplay between the two helps explain the confusion whirling around the North Korea summit.
Why did the Trump administration cancel its much-hyped nuclear summit with North Korea? And why the confusing semi-backtrack the following day, in which Trump embraced North Korea’s “warm and productive statement” regretting the cancellation, and left the door open to a meeting he’d ditched barely 24 hours before? The answer lies in the toxic interplay between Donald Trump’s instincts and John Bolton’s. Each man’s foreign-policy views are dangerous enough in and of themselves. Put them together and you have the perfect cocktail for the decimation of American power.
Bolton is a Manichean in the tradition of his hero, Barry Goldwater. He has spent his career depicting America’s adversaries—the Soviet Union, Cuba, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and these days, Iran and North Korea—as evil. He denies that they have any legitimate security concerns. He abhors compromise. He demands maximum American economic, political and, if necessary, military pressure. He basic negotiating posture is: Once you give in on everything, then we’ll start talking.
Several new studies suggest yogurt might reduce inflammation—a process linked to different types of diseases.
A couple years ago, I was taking a swim with my very pregnant friend when I asked her if it was hard to keep straight all of the doctors’ health recommendations for expectant mothers.
Not really. For practically every symptom, she said, their recommendations were roughly the same: “Take a walk, eat a yogurt.”
It was another example of the Cult of Yogurt. Even though some varieties have more sugar than a Twinkie, perhaps no other man-made food is so often recommended by medical professionals—and to treat such a wide variety of ailments.
Whenever I’ve been prescribed antibiotics, I’ve always been told to eat a yogurt so that the antibiotics don’t eat up all the “good” bacteria in my system and leave me with a yeast infection. (Recently, I interviewed a doctor who suggested this is bogus; there’s no way for the yogurt cultures to make it all the way down there.)
Human technology is responsible for more loss from fire than any other cause. But reducing fire’s impact will require changes to how people live, not just to the infrastructure that lets them do so.
In October 2017, 250 square miles burned in Northern California, destroying 6,000 homes and businesses and killing 44 people. For now, the cause of these fires has not been determined. The private utility company Pacific Gas and Electric, known to Californians as PG&E, is under investigation. Total damage for the Northern California wildfires comes to $9 billion. PG&E has started stockpiling cash.
In California, this is a familiar story. Three years ago, in February of 2015, one-third of the houses in my remote neighborhood in Eastern California burned down. Here, before the fire, 100 houses lay scattered across the leeward flank of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The people who live here spend their time walking steep roads, listening to crickets, chasing mule deer out of the garden, and looking over a desert valley below. Days after the fire, my neighbor, Cassie, wasn’t doing any of these things. Instead, she stood inside her smoking foundation. Tall and easygoing with freckles on her nose, Cassie had come home from college that winter to sift rubble with her mom and dad. Under different circumstances, we might have hiked together or skated frozen ponds. I used to carpool with her family to school, and I remember her house, wooden and gorgeous and overlooking a ravine from which flames later rose.
If the Cuban Missile Crisis is any indication, today’s leaders may be dangerously misinformed about the nuclear crisis.
When President Donald Trump canceled his June summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, he told him in a letter that the past few days of “tremendous anger and open hostility” had made it “inappropriate” for the two to meet and discuss denuclearization. “You talk about your nuclear capabilities,” Trump wrote, “but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.” The language echoed a January tweet in which the president wrote, “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
The North issued a statement in short order emphasizing a willingness to “sit down with the United States any time, in any format, to resolve the problems.” Yet it’s getting harder to see how Trump and Kim can make the mutual accommodations necessary for diplomacy to succeed. In fact, beneath the surface, the current situation resembles the prelude to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, which historical research continues to show was much more dangerous than anyone knew at the time. If the Trump-Kim summit stays canceled, and saber-rattling returns as the dominant mode of communication, the odds of military crisis will rise dramatically. And, as the Cuba experience shows, once begun, a military crisis involving nuclear weapons will almost inevitably bring lots of surprises—ones that could make the shocking twists and turns of the summit buildup look pedestrian by comparison.
A giant glowing puppet in Australia, a cat rescued in Colombia, lava flows in Hawaii, devastation in Damascus, a balanced taxi in New York City, biking into the river in Germany, and much more.
A giant glowing puppet in Australia, a cat rescued in Colombia, lava flows in Hawaii, Ramadan observed in India, devastation in Damascus, a balanced taxi in New York City, biking into the river in Germany, bats in India, and much more.