U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton sentenced Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly, two former top associates of Governor Chris Christie, to prison time for their role in the “Bridgegate” scandal. Baroni, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, received 24 months, along with a year of probation, 500 hours of community service, fines and restitution. Kelly, Christie’s deputy chief of staff, was sentenced to 18 months in prison. A jury in Newark, New Jersey, found them guilty last November of all charges. As I wrote at the time:
Baroni … and Kelly were indicted [in 2015] on nine counts of conspiracy and fraud in connection with the scheme in 2013 to close lanes on a section of the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, New Jersey, over the refusal of its Democratic mayor to endorse Christie, a Republican, for re-election. …
Federal prosecutors’ main witness in the six-week trial was David Wildstein, a Christie appointee to the Port Authority who admitted to masterminding the plan. The jury also heard testimony from more than 30 other witnesses, including Baroni and Kelly. Federal prosecutors alleged Christie was aware of the actions of his aides.
Christie, a close associate of President Trump, consistently denied any knowledge or involvement in the lane closures, and hasn’t been charged with any wrongdoing.
Kelly and Baroni will remain free while they appeal their convictions.
Iraqi Forces Battle ISIS in Mosul as Concerns Over Civilian Casualties Persist
Iraqi forces are battling ISIS militants in western Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city that was captured by the Islamic State in 2014. Here’s more from Reuters today on the state of the fighting: “The close-quarters fighting is focused on the Old City surrounding the [ al-Nuri] mosque where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a caliphate nearly three years ago across territory controlled by the group in both Iraq and Syria.” Thousands of civilians are trapped in the city, and as the fighting rages, their position is fraught. Indeed, as we reported yesterday, the Pentagon is investigating the March 17 coalition airstrike in Mosul that may have led to the collapse of buildings with at least 160 people inside. “It is very possible that Daesh blew up that building to blame it on the coalition in order to cause a delay in the offensive into Mosul and cause a delay in the use of coalition airstrikes,” General Mark A. Milley, the U.S. army chief of staff, told reporters Monday in Baghdad. “And it is possible the coalition airstrike did it.” But Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, the senior coalition commander in Iraq, said: “My initial assessment is that we probably had a role in these casualties.”
Bob Dylan to Accept Nobel Prize This Weekend, Swedish Academy Says
Bob Dylan will accept his Nobel Prize for Literature this weekend, a member of the Swedish Academy, the body that awards the prize, has said in a blog entry. The academy announced last October that Dylan had won the prize “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” But the famously reclusive singer did not acknowledge the award or indicate whether he would accept it until two weeks after the announcement, telling a British newspaper he would attend the ceremony “if it’s all possible.” Ultimately, he did not—but he did send a speech in which he said the prize “is something I never could have imagined or seen coming.” Which brings us to today’s blog post by Sara Danius, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy. She said:
The good news is that the Swedish Academy and Bob Dylan have decided to meet this weekend. The Academy will then hand over Dylan’s Nobel diploma and the Nobel medal, and congratulate him on the Nobel Prize in Literature. The setting will be small and intimate, and no media will be present; only Bob Dylan and members of the Academy will attend, all according to Dylan’s wishes.
The U.K.’s envoy to the European Union has hand-delivered a letter from Prime Minister Theresa May to the office of European Council president in Brussels, invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and formally beginning the process of talks over the U.K.’s separation from the European Union. The move comes nine months after Britons voted 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the EU, a decision that shocked the political establishment, and sparked a rancorous debate in the U.K. on what a future U.K.-EU relationship should look like. It’s the nature of that relationship that talks between the U.K. and the EU will focus on. The process will take two years, during which time the U.K. remains a full member of the bloc. Those who campaigned to keep the U.K. in the EU want a future relationship to be similar to the one the country enjoyed with full EU membership, but the main sticking point, access to the EU single market, depends on the free movement of the EU’s citizens across the bloc—an aspect of membership deeply unpopular in the U.K. Linda Kintsler wrote yesterday about what happens next. Read it here.
Talking about mysterious sightings in the sky can be a nasty business.
At a meeting in NASA headquarters yesterday, the public had some blunt questions about UFOs, or, as the government now calls them, “unexplained anomalous phenomena.” A NASA spokesperson summarized them aloud: “What is NASA hiding, and where are you hiding it? How much has been shared publicly? Has NASA ever cut the live NASA TV feed away from something? Has NASA released all UAP evidence it has ever received? What about NASA astronauts—do they have an NDA or clearance that does not allow them to speak about UAP sightings? What are the science overlords hiding?” In short: Are you guys lying to everyone?
There was some gentle laughter among the panelists, whom NASA had convened on the subject. No, NASA “has never intentionally cut a live feed to hide anything,” a senior agency official said. A retired astronaut who worked at NASA for 20 years chimed in: “There was never any formal or informal discussions at all about UAPs or UFOs or anyone reporting anything that would suggest something from beyond our planet.” An astrobiologist—the kind of scientist whose job revolves around finding extraterrestrial life—said that scientists are a “rebellious” type, and if someone told him to keep a secret as big as this, he’d want to spill.
Nothing is healthier or more happy-making than loving attachment. Don’t deprive yourself.
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Shu-Sin was the king of Sumer from about 2000 B.C.E. Although his wife’s name is lost to history, her legendary words are not. Carved on a cuneiform tablet is an ode to their love, containing these lines:
Your spirit, I know where to cheer your spirit,
Bridegroom, sleep in our house until dawn,
Your heart, I know where to gladden your heart,
Lion, sleep in our house until dawn.
And down to today, this kind of romantic attachment is one of the best predictors of happiness that social scientists have identified. For example, my review of the General Social Survey finds that although 27 percent of married Americans said they were “very happy” with their lives, only 11 percent of those respondents who were never married, divorced, separated, or widowed answered this way. (Obviously, marriage is not the only romantic arrangement, but it is the one most often studied.) And research in the Journal of Research in Personality has shown that marriage can protect happiness in adulthood.
Trump’s fear of damaging press was so much greater than his fear of criminal accountability that he ended up making an incriminating recording.
Almost exactly six years ago, James Comey begot a new mantra for the Trump era: “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.” In most cases, none has emerged: not of the former FBI director’s conversation with Donald Trump about loyalty, not of the fateful call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and not, well, that other fabled tape.
In the ongoing classified-documents scandal, though, the tapes seem to exist. CNN and The New York Timesreport that Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is investigating Trump’s removal of secret records to Mar-a-Lago, has obtained a recording in which the former president discussed his possession of a sensitive document. According to the outlets, Trump indicates that he knows it’s classified and is aware he cannot share it.
In a time of fentanyl and meth, we need to use law enforcement differently—and more often.
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In Louisville, Kentucky, not long ago, I heard the story of a woman named Mary. She grew up middle-class, cheerful at times, though she struggled with depression. She took antidepressants. After her marriage broke up in 2006, Mary switched to pain pills, and her life spiraled.
She had a son in 2016. A couple of years later, methamphetamine from Mexico flooded Louisville, and she began using meth too. After that, her mother, Carole, told me, Mary heard voices coming from a ceiling vent, saw a phantom hand reaching from the back seat of her car. She abandoned her son and lived on the street. Her teeth withered. “She became a person I didn’t recognize,” said Carole, who is now raising Mary’s son. (Carole asked that their last name not be used, because she’s concerned that the late father’s family might seek custody.)
The worst of the industry is expensive and runs from useless to counterproductive.
The diversity, equity, and inclusion industry exploded in 2020 and 2021, but it is undergoing a reckoning of late, and not just in states controlled by Republicans, where officials are dismantling DEI bureaucracies in public institutions. Corporations are cutting back on DEI spending and personnel. News outlets such as TheNew York Times and New York magazine are publishing more articles that cover the industry with skepticism. And DEI practitioners themselves are raising concerns about how their competitors operate.
The scrutiny is overdue. This growing multibillion-dollar industry was embedded into so many powerful public and private institutions so quickly that due diligence was skipped and costly failures guaranteed.
Five years ago, when Bill Ferro would take a road trip in his electric BMW i3, he needed to be ready for anything.
Driving from Boston to Charlotte meant bringing along a 50-foot extension cord; a blanket, in case he needed to turn the car’s heater off to maximize its range; and a spreadsheet full of alternate plans in case the unexpected happened at public charging stations. In one memorable instance, he was forced to rush several miles at midnight to a backup charger when a plug in a dark mall parking lot not only failed to work but refused to unlatch from his car.
Today, Ferro gets into his Tesla, punches his destination into its navigation system, and doesn’t think much about running out of electrons.
The singer’s collaboration with the rapper Ice Spice has launched a new debate about what she owes her ultra-devoted audience.
Three songs have been playing every night before Taylor Swift has taken the stage on her current tour, and each one seems to convey a different message. One track is Dusty Springfield’s cover of Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me,” a classic assertion of female independence. Another is Lady Gaga’s “Applause,” a pump-up jam in which a celebrity confesses her hunger for approval. Then there’s Ice Spice’s “In Ha Mood,” a recent hip-hop song whose presence shows, among other things, that Swift is paying attention to what’s hot in pop culture—an important fact to keep in mind when evaluating the controversy now brewing around her.
Ice Spice is a 23-year-old Bronx emcee whose whispery voice and puff of red hair have become internationally famous in a very short span of time, following the TikTok success of her August 2022 single “Munch (Feelin’ U).” She features on the new remix of Swift’s track “Karma,” released last week, and this past weekend she joined Swift to perform the song at the singer’s three concerts in New Jersey. From a distance, the story feels familiar: Established star allies with rising star for mutual benefit. But the remix has unleashed a wave of indignation online, making Swift, not for the first time, a focal point for conflicting attitudes about what entertainers owe their audience. Right now, the allegation that keeps coming up is that Ice Spice is being used as a “prop”—though she’s probably better thought of as a protagonist.
Trump may be unpopular nationally, but within his own party, the devotion has not subsided.
Every successful politician follows roughly the same path: First, they become prominent on some stage. They become more successful, maybe graduating to a larger stage. Then, eventually, they peak and decline, with the affection of even their strongest supporters cooling somewhat.
If they are lucky (Harry Truman, George H. W. Bush), they eventually experience some historical revision that burnishes their reputation. (If they are very lucky, they even live to see it.) If they are not (Herbert Hoover, Richard Nixon), they don’t. This happens whether a politician’s departure from office comes in defeat at the polls or at the top of their popularity, as with Bill Clinton, who has seen his reputation suffer—personally and politically—in the past 15 years.
In her latest work to be translated into English, Annie Ernaux examines the malaise of the modern supermarket.
The sliding doors of a supermarket open into a dilemma: Though one may find comfort in the grocery store’s order and abundance, its high stakes can also provoke anxiety—after all, this is the place where we trade hard-earned money for sustenance. “Everything was fine, would continue to be fine, would eventually get even better as long as the supermarket did not slip,” Don DeLillo’s narrator Jack Gladney observes in White Noise, commenting on the structure that supermarkets, with their rows of neatly ordered products, impose on his chaotic life. Thirty years later, Halle Butler’s protagonist in the novel Jillian enters a gourmet grocery store on a whim because “there were delights there.” The prices are so out of her budget that she has to give herself a pep talk before buying anything. “I mean, I work all the time,” she mutters. “This is why I work, isn’t it? I’m a hard worker. I can buy this cheese. It’s just cheese, I guess.” But it’s not just cheese.
The reported existence of a tape says something important about how the former president operates.
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Yesterday, news outlets reported the existence of a recording in which Donald Trump discusses his possession of classified documents. The recording could prove legally damaging, but its existence also reveals something important about how the former president operates.
First, here are three new stories from The Atlantic:
Yesterday evening, CNN and The New York Times reported that federal prosecutors have a 2021 recording of Donald Trump discussing a military document he held on to after leaving the White House. According to multiple sources, Trump indicates in the recording that he is aware that the document in his possession is classified.