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iPad Pro on sale, plus Avengers: Infinity War, Anker accessories, Nintendo Switch, and more for April 20

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Have you been holding out on getting an Apple iPad Pro? Lucky for you, Amazon has dropped the price of it by another $74, saving you 15% off the listed price, making this an excellent Mother's Day gift.

Like most older generation parents, technophobe is a thing and what makes Apple products so great, is that it's so clean and straightforward to use, even a toddler will understand it. Plus with a ton of features that help you on a day to day basis, simply looking at the screen can unlock the device, log in to apps, and even pay with Face ID.

Already got one? No problem, keep scrolling as we have gathered more deals from Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot, B&H Photo-Video, and Dell for Saturday, April 20: Read more...

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Star Wars episodes I-VII are available in 4K HDR on Disney+
Star Wars in 4K Atmos | Photo by Thomas Ricker / The Verge Disney+ is going live today, and it includes an unexpected perk: the first 4K versions of several Star Wars movies, including the original trilogy. Episodes I: The Phantom Menace through VII: The Force Awakens are all available to watch with Dolby Vision HDR and Atmos support. There’s also a 4K HDR version of Rogue One, though Solo and Episode VIII: The Last Jedi aren’t yet on the new service. “We have actually been spending a lot of time getting the movies and TV shows as appropriate, upgraded and ready to be viewed in that format,” Disney streaming services head Michael Paull said at a media event attended by The Verge in New York City last week. “We are working very very hard at making as much a selection as possible of our programming [available] in 4K UHD.” The Verge has confirmed through first-hand viewing that the versions of the original trilogy are the 1997 “special editions,” which is disappointing but unsurprising. If you’ve been waiting to see Han shoot first in 4K, keep on waiting. Still, this is the first time that most Star Wars movies have ever had a 4K release at all, which is a significant bonus for Disney+ subscribers. The Force Awakens and Rogue One are available on 4K Blu-ray, but the original trilogy and the prequels have never ventured beyond HD resolution — and for now, the only way to watch the new masters will be Disney+.
The Verge
Boris Johnson backed a Conservative candidate who claimed that immigrants are a bigger threat than terrorists
Boris Johnson is under pressure to remove a candidate who wrote that immigration was a greater threat to life in the UK than terrorism. Anthony Browne claimed that germs carried by immigrants would bring "death to our lands." He wrote that immigration had created "ongoing and sustained racial violence." An anti-immigration publication written by Browne was available in the far-right British National Party bookshop. Browne has been endorsed by Johnson and several senior members of the UK government. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Boris Johnson has backed a Conservative candidate who claimed that immigrants are a greater threat to life than terrorism and warned that immigration risks "utter devastation" for the United Kingdom. Anthony Browne was a former policy advisor to the prime minister when he was mayor of London and is standing in South Cambridgeshire in the general election on December 12.See the rest of the story at Business InsiderNOW WATCH: Extremists turned a frog meme into a hate symbol, but Hong Kong protesters revived it as an emblem of hopeSee Also:The 'Remain alliance' could accidentally help Boris Johnson win a majority and force through BrexitThe Conservative Party chairman was empty-chaired on live TV as criticism mounts over calamitous start to campaignBoris Johnson's Conservative Party has received a surge in cash from Russian donors
Business Insider
F1 reveals plans for net-zero carbon footprint and sustainable products
Initiative sets two-pronged target over next decade Chase Carey: ‘We hope to make a positive impact’Formula One has announced ambitious plans to have a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030, and have all grands prix using sustainable products by 2025.The globe-travelling sport, which next season will feature a record 22 races, and with proposals to have 25 per year at some stage in the next decade, naturally has a significant impact when it comes to carbon emissions. But following a 12-month project, F1 – in conjunction with the governing body, the FIA, the teams, promoters and other stakeholders – is convinced it can deliver on its stated aims over the coming years. Continue reading...
US news | The Guardian
​Twitter is awash in disinformation bots tweeting lies about the Kentucky gubernatorial election results
It's a preview of just how badly things could go in 2020: the Kentucky gubernatorial race was narrowly decided for the Democratic candidate Andy Beshear, but the monumentally unpopular Trumpist incumbent Matt Bevin will not concede, and instead, he is repeating the Trumpist lie that "voter fraud" caused him to lose his office. Supercharging this lie are obvious fake Twitter accounts, like the now-suspended @Overlordkraken1 account, which posted hours after the polls closed with "just shredded a box of Republican mail-in ballots" and "Bye-Bye Bevin." Though the account only had 19 followers and though it was swiftly shuttered, a screenshot of the tweet was retweeted by a botnet army, and then far-right commentators started to cite it as evidence of electoral fraud. The disinformation campaign has also featured bot armies retweeting claims of "rigged elections" and "voter intimidation" (blamed on George Soros, of course!). Mainstream Republican commentators have hinted that the voting machines in Kentucky were hacked (the Republican Senate majority, led by Mitch McConnell, has consistently blocked funding to secure electronic voting machines). The online campaign has been joined by a robocall campaign that urges people to "report suspected electoral fraud." Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said, "Beyond the routine calls that we field, up to and on Election Day, there are no irregularities that would substantiate a 5,000-vote difference margin that now separates unofficially Governor-elect Beshear with Governor Bevin." Data compiled by VineSight, a start-up that detects disinformation on social media, showed that many of the accounts that tweeted the screenshot of @Overlordkraken1’s ballot-shredding claim appeared to be bots. Read the rest
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Nissan reports 70% quarterly profit drop, slashes full-year outlook
Nissan Motor Co Ltd reported a 70% profit drop on Tuesday and cut its full-year outlook to an 11-year low, as the Japanese automaker was hit by falling sales that highlight its ongoing turmoil after the ouster of former head Carlos Ghosn.
REUTERS
Violence brings Hong Kong to 'brink of total breakdown': police
Hong Kong police fired tear gas in the heart of the Central financial district and at two university campuses to break up pro-democracy protests as violence was bringing the Chinese-ruled city to what they said was the "brink of total breakdown".
Reuters: Top News - powered by FeedBurner
Blaize emerges from stealth with $87 million for its custom-designed AI chips
Blaize, which is developing novel chipsets that accelerate AI workloads, emerged from stealth with over $87 million in funding.
VentureBeat | Tech News That Matters
VAR – let’s press pause on Boxing Day and check if we want to rewind technology | Richard Williams
Like Brexit, whatever sensible arguments are made for VAR, they are swamped by the damage it has caused and we need time to reflect on what kind of football we want to seeThree minutes and 47 seconds is a long time in football. An awful lot can happen. Twenty years ago in the Nou Camp it was long enough to enable Manchester United to recover from a position of defeat at the end of 90 minutes against Bayern Munich and, with the German club’s ribbons already on the trophy, to use added time first to draw level and then to win the Champions League final. Those three minutes contained as much drama and emotion as some entire seasons.At Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium on Saturday three minutes and 47 seconds was the length of time in which no football took place at all. On the hour, two minutes after Son Heung-min had put the home side ahead, Sheffield United celebrated an equaliser when David McGoldrick applied the finish to Enda Stevens’ cross from the left. But then the referee, Graham Scott, passed the decision over to the VAR room at Stockley Park. Twenty-two players stood around waiting as, 20 miles away in west London, it took almost four minutes of deliberation to conclude that John Lundstram had been offside by the length of his big toe when he received the ball on the right wing before sending in a cross that was half-cleared to John Fleck, who fed the ball to Stevens before it was turned across to McGoldrick. Continue reading...
US news | The Guardian
From Sonic to Cats: is 2019 the worst year for trailers ever?
It has been a stellar year for bad ads – but when the worst kind of trailer is the one nobody talks about, it’ll do no damage to the industryModern Toss on marketing movie trailers...When is the optimum time to arrive at the cinema? If you answered: “Exactly 10 minutes before the advertised start, so I can be seated in time to catch all the trailers,” then, congratulations. That was the correct answer 15 years ago. These days, if you make it to your seat before the BBFC’s rating card you are in risk of seeing something you might not like.Sonic the Hedgehog, Cats, Last Christmas, Doolittle: 2019 has been a banner year for bad trailers. None of the above titles have even reached the multiplexes yet, but their promos have already been comprehensively dissected and dissed online. First there was Paramount’s upcoming video game adaptation Sonic the Hedgehog, whose creepy CGI hero, complete with worryingly human teeth and legs, appalled and terrified Twitter. Sonic was followed by another stomach-churning rollercoaster ride into the depths of the uncanny valley in the form of the now-notorious Cats trailer, and its nightmarish half-human, half-moggie hybrid creatures. Doolittle added a condensed tour of the UK to its CGI weirdness, care of Robert Downey Jr’s bizarrely roaming accent, while the trailer for Emilia “Daenerys” Clarke’s upcoming film, Last Christmas, was criticised for seeming to feature a dead giveaway of the film’s presumed third-act twist (“Dead” being the operative word). Continue reading...
US news | The Guardian
Time for Lights Out by Raymond Briggs review – disorienting and plangent
The great author and illustrator of Father Christmas and Gentleman Jim tells his melancholy life storyTime for Lights Out, in which Raymond Briggs meditates on old age and death, is something of a palimpsest and not only because it has the feeling of a sketchbook, complete with spectral rubbings out. The past will keep poking through. When, for instance, he draws a “buggering bunion” that has developed on his foot, you can’t help but think of Fungus the Bogeyman and his taste for corns and ear wax.Equally, when he remembers how his wife, Jean, asked him if she was going to die (she died from leukaemia in 1973, when she was just 43), you picture immediately Hilda Bloggs in When the Wind Blows, her hair falling out as she succumbs to the effects of radiation. And then, of course, there are his parents, Ethel and Ernest, whose story he told in a bestselling biography of 1998. They are everywhere here, just as they’re everywhere in his life, even now. Briggs still uses their old breadboard and knife and in his book he includes a sketch of both that is so serenely exquisite that it might as well be by Morandi. Continue reading...
US news | The Guardian
Leonard struggles on first game against Raptors, but Clippers get the win
Kawhi Leonard helps the Los Angeles Clippers' to victory against former club and defending NBA champions Toronto Raptors.
BBC News - Home
UK teenager needed life support over vaping-linked disease
Ewan Fisher became ill at 16 with ‘a catastrophic respiratory illness’A British teenager who took up e-cigarettes to stop smoking at the age of 16 has urged others not to start vapingEwan Fisher, 19, was put on life support after suffering serious respiratory failure which doctors have linked to vaping. Continue reading...
US news | The Guardian
Former Federal Reserve chair says bank issued digital currencies are pointless
The former chairman of the US Federal Reserve says there’s no point to central bank digital currencies (CBDC). Speaking at Chinese finance magazine Caijing’s annual conference today in reference to CBDCs, the former chairman Alan Greenspan said: “There’s no point for them to do it,” CNBC reports. Greenspan said that national currencies are backed by all the financial resources of a nation, also known as sovereign credit, and central bodies won’t ever be able to match that. “The fundamental sovereign credit of the United States is far in excess of anything Facebook can imagine,” Greenspan added. It’s a little confusing… This story continues at The Next Web
The Next Web | International technology news, business & culture
Disney has 19 new shows coming exclusively to its streaming service — here they all are
Disney Disney announced a slew of new TV shows planned to premiere on the coming streaming service, Disney Plus. Several Marvel shows were among the new programming teased during a D23 Expo panel in Anaheim, California. We're also getting a "Lizzie McGuire" series, a new "Monsters, Inc." spinoff show, a new "Muppets" series, and three "Star Wars" prequel shows. Keep reading to see the full list of 19 new TV shows planned for Disney Plus. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories. During Disney's D23 Expo event in Anaheim, California over the summer, the company announced a new slate of TV shows coming to its streaming service Disney Plus starting this fall.  Five of the shows will be available right away starting on November 12, 2019 — the day the streaming service officially launches. For the rest, some approximate premiere dates have been announced while others are still in pre-production stages. According to a report from TV Line, the new shows will be released one episode at a time on a weekly basis (instead of the full-season drop style Netflix employs for most of its programming). Keep reading to see the full list of 19 new TV shows planned for Disney Plus."Monsters at Work" is a sequel series which picks up after the events of "Monsters, Inc." Disney When it premieres on Disney Plus: TBA Starring Ben Feldman and Aisha Tyler as monsters named Tylor and Millie, respectively, this series follows a recent graduate from Monsters University who spent his college days training to scare children. But just as Tylor arrives to work at the scream factory, the system is switched over to laugh-power (thanks to  the events of Pixar's "Monsters Inc." movie).  Mike and Sulley (Billy Crystal and John Goodman, respectively) will have "special appearances" on the show, but the story line will mainly center around a new cast of monsters as they navigate the new system prioritizing comedy over scariness. "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series" takes the Disney Channel movie narrative into meta territory. Disney Channel When it premieres on Disney Plus: November 12, 2019 In real life, Disney's "High School Musical" was filmed at a school called East High. So in the 10-episode scripted series coming to Disney Plus, the story follows a group of 2019 high-schoolers at East High who decide to put on their own production of "High School Musical: The Musical."  Disney is rebooting the Lizzie McGuire character for a new show about Lizzie's life as a millennial working in New York City. Disney When it premieres on Disney Plus: TBA Bringing back "The Lizzie McGuire Show" creator Terri Minsky and star Hilary Duff, this new series shows our main character all grown up.  Lizzie is now 30 years old and living in New York City working her "dream job" as an "apprentice to a fancy decorator." Duff told the D23 Expo crowd that the little animated 13-year-old Lizzie will still be present and constantly talking inside the mind of the now-adult Lizzie. Read more: WHERE ARE THEY NOW: The cast of 'The Lizzie McGuire Movie' 15 years later See the rest of the story at Business InsiderSee Also:The opening episode of 'The Mandalorian' ends on a surprising cliffhanger. Here's what you need to know.8 dogs who were military heroes, from Stubby, a WWII Army mascot, to Conan, who helped take down Abu Bakr al-BaghdadiHere are all 2019 People's Choice Awards winners
Business Insider
Nikki Haley, embracing Trump -- but not too tightly -- as she maps her political future
Nikki Haley knows how to thread the needle.
Politica
Nigel Farage snubs Tory calls to stand down in Labour marginals
Brexit party leader derides demands to make further concessions in general electionLatest election news - live updatesNigel Farage has branded Conservative calls for the Brexit party to stand down in Labour marginals “almost comical”, saying his party needs to get MPs into parliament to hold Boris Johnson’s feet to the fire.The Brexit party’s leader said he was still intending to stand candidates in about 300 seats held by Labour and pro-remain parties, after he agreed to withdraw candidates in 317 Tory seats to help the prime minister. Continue reading...
US news | The Guardian
Introducing a New Look for The Atlantic
Today, we launch our December issue, built around a single theme: “How to Stop a Civil War.” This issue, an exploration of our dangerous political moment, also represents the debut of a new visual identity for The Atlantic. It is the most dramatic new look for our magazine in its 162-year history, and one that, we hope, reflects boldness, elegance, and urgency. The redesign of the print magazine, as well as the new look of our website, was led by Peter Mendelsund, our creative director. His design work, carried out in collaboration with many teams across our magazine, is also reflected in the new Atlantic app that launched today. I sat down with Peter to talk about the new design, his creative process, and how his work was informed by the history of our magazine.Jeffrey Goldberg: The first issue of The Atlantic was published in November 1857. How do you, as the creative director of a 162-year-old publication, use history without being burdened by history?Peter Mendelsund: The interesting thing to me about the first cover in 1857 is how clear the hierarchy of information is. The forthrightness, the omitting of needless information, the seriousness of purpose and mission—I would say those are all components of the design that represent what The Atlantic, as an institution, does well.The first issue of The Atlantic (Katie Martin)Even though our journalistic principles haven’t changed over the years since that first issue, our look has been all over the map, a chaos of signifiers and various styles. There is a 20-year period, between 1929 and 1949, in which we redesigned the magazine five times.That constant chopping and changing alleviates some of the pressure on me and my team, because—to use a phrase from start-up culture—we’re just iterating on some level. And hopefully improving! But I did want to stem the tide. I thought that if we returned to first principles, we could do something that would, hopefully, last a little longer.Goldberg: One of the first things you did when you got to The Atlantic was dive into the archives.Mendelsund: Because the design has changed so often, you get an amazing flyover of the history of short-lived vernaculars of 20th- and 21st-century design. For instance, in the early part of the 20th century you see all of these type-only constructions, covers as tables of contents, and then in the 1920s and ’30s you see classical deco typography and art and design. Jumping forward quite a bit, in the late ’60s and ’70s you get the bubble type and a sort of funky, “At the Carwash”–style Atlantic. Some of my favorite covers are from the ’60s and ’70s, when we really just focused on a single image and a simple headline. We’ve also gone through periods of what I would call design maximalism, where we were just trying to put as much information on the page as possible.Goldberg: Is that maximalism or accretion?Mendelsund: It’s both. You have these ornaments and rule sizes and type conventions that aren’t serving a function anymore, but sort of stick around. And before you know it, the page is this kind of hodgepodge.If we wanted every issue to be a genealogy of The Atlantic, then we could continue on that same course—but we don’t. We want the reader to be able to focus on what they’re reading, and we want the art and photography to be able to amplify that experience rather than distract from it.Goldberg: The most notable change in this redesign is the new nameplate, the move to the A as representative of the whole. When you first raised this idea to me, I was, if you recall, surprised by the drama of it, and also surprised that I liked it.Mendelsund: When Oliver Munday, my senior art director, and I began rethinking the wordmark, we tried a number of angles, mainly finding ways to repurpose and redraw old marks from The Atlantic’s past. But the notion occurred to us that we would eventually need a mark that wouldn’t be so horizontal; in other words, a mark that wasn’t a word, such that it could fit in all of those confined spaces where, physical magazine aside, The Atlantic lives. Like on your phone, and on your social-media feeds, etc. It seemed obvious to us that what we needed was an emblem—a logo. A “swoosh,” if you will. But what could that logo possibly be? At some point, we noticed that we had already been clicking on that very logo, every time we went to The Atlantic online, or on the app, or on Twitter—that is, a giant A. There it was, staring us in the face. And the more we explored The Atlantic’s long history, the more we saw that A, Zelig-like, showing up. Which is to say that, although the A seems radical, it is in fact historically grounded. Like The Atlantic itself.Goldberg: Tell me about Atlantic Condensed, our new typeface.Mendelsund: Atlantic Condensed is the typeface that we commissioned based on the type forms that the founders chose for the first issue. We looked through original issues and at type foundry specimens from that time. The founders chose a typeface that’s very condensed—which is good, because it means you can fit more type onto the page. They also chose one that’s generally used in its capitalized form—which is also good, because it means that you can easily signal that something’s important. It is a serif typeface, and what’s known as a “Scotch” face, which describes the way the serifs are designed. It is an extremely legible, classical kind of typography, but also transmits a certain kind of vehemence and urgency that works nicely for our contemporary purposes.Atlantic Condensed, a new custom typefaceGoldberg: What were your north stars when you started working on the design?Mendelsund: I come to this work at The Atlantic primarily as a reader. And the things that were interesting to me as a reader were those designs that could best suit the language on the page. I wanted the design to be readerly. And I wanted it to feel confident. And, again, I wanted to make pages that weren’t clamoring for your attention in too many ways—that allowed you to enjoy that one-to-one experience, reader-to-writer.I think that’s accomplished in a number of different ways. One is through good grids, making sure that the page itself has a rigorous, almost Euclidean logic to the way it’s laid out. Another is by ensuring that the type is interrupted as little as possible, and that when it is interrupted by imagery, the imagery is contained within its own cordoned-off space. I really wanted to frame our images so that they weren’t full bleed—they didn’t go off the edge of the page. The idea of imagery in magazines for decades now has been that bigger is bolder. But I find that when a picture has a frame around it, it allows you to focus more on the thing itself. And the primary job here was to make sure that the reading experience was vibrant, interesting, and less interrupted.Goldberg: Tell me about your theory of cover design.Mendelsund: I would say that a cover can accomplish, maximally, three things at once. As soon as you try to make more than three moves in any visual space, there’s a real diminishment of effect. What are those three things? With a magazine cover, what you really want to do is push the fact that you’re reading a particular magazine. So that’s the branding aspect. Then you want something vibrant and attention-grabbing, which will represent the cover story, or the issue as a whole. And then in most cases you want room for the typography that will push whichever other stories you decide to add to that space. But you really have to choose very carefully what it is you want to say and to decide which elements are doing the saying—for example, whether the image is doing the heavy lifting or the typography is—and then make sure all of the elements are in their proper proportions.Goldberg: On the “How to Stop a Civil War” cover, I think it takes a moment to realize that the handprint is also a map of America. There are levels to it, like any good piece of art.Mendelsund: My favorite kind of design is a kind of time-released design, where you look at something and you have an immediate impression of it, and then you, upon further reflection, find something in the design that adds to or subverts that first impression. For a cover as important as this one, to inaugurate this redesign, I thought it was important that we not crowd out interpretation, but rather invite it. We wanted the cover to transmit, obviously, the notion of the nation itself, and also some sense of a hand being stuck up to say “Stop.” There is something both metaphorically and literally arresting about the image. The operative word in the headline here is Stop. We all recognize that we’re in a particularly perilous moment in American culture and politics, and The Atlantic is not a magazine that tiptoes around difficulty. We thought of this issue as being really a bracing kind of wake-up call.The Atlantic’s December 2019 issueGoldberg: When did the image of Poseidon, used in countless colophons over the years, first come in to our pages?Mendelsund: The first version, the engraved colophon, was printed on the cover starting in 1910. Like the rest of the magazine, Poseidon has gone through a lot of transformations. When the magazine started using big color images on the cover, in 1947, an illustration of Poseidon by the designer W. A. Dwiggins was featured on the first redesigned issue. There was a variation in the ’80s where he gets a tan and some more defined muscle tone. When the editors sought a return to the magazine’s design “roots” in 2001, they revived the original engraving.Poseidon through the yearsWhen Oliver and I first encountered Poseidon in its modern form, we both looked at it and thought, Who is Poseidon, and what has he to do with this whole endeavor? Only when I later saw the engraved version of Poseidon did I realize that it wasn’t important who Poseidon was in this context—aside from being a general nautical signifier—but rather that the engraving itself signified “old.” In other words, the medium was the message. The old Poseidon told the reader that The Atlantic had been around a long time. We made a whole ecosystem of “engraved” nautical emblems to serve as visual interest on the page, on the website, and so on. Poseidon is just one of many. And the style of these emblems, we hope, signals a kind of historically informed classicism.A new ecosystem of “engraved” emblemsGoldberg: Why did you want to include the established date on the cover?Mendelsund: I think what it came down to for me was just my own personal surprise at not knowing that incredibly rich history, not knowing who the founders were, never having read the original manifesto. And just wanting to have other people have the same experience that I had—to have that joy of discovery.
World Edition - The Atlantic
The Lijadu Sisters: the Nigerian twins who fought the elite with funk
The death of Kehinde Lijadu marks the end of a wonderfully idiosyncratic partnership, where warped pop met fierce politicsOne joyful evening at the Barbican, London, in April 2014, identical Nigerian twins, then aged 65, appeared on stage in matching sparkly red dresses alongside musicians including Damon Albarn, Sinkane, Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip and Beastie Boys collaborator Money Mark. They were there to sing the music of William Onyeabor, an elusive synth-pop oddball whose music had been rediscovered by David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label and was being toured by this unlikely supergroup. But the twins were also making their return to the spotlight following their own lost years, having languished in obscurity for decades.As the Lijadu Sisters, Kehinde and Taiwo Lijadu were mainly active from the mid-60s to the 80s at a time when it was rare to find frontwomen in Nigeria’s pop music scene. Kehinde died on 9 November at the age of 71, having had cancer, marking the end of a musical partnership whose idiosyncratic warped funk tunes still sound unlike anything else. Continue reading...
US news | The Guardian
Vietnamese families struggle to repatriate Essex lorry victims
Relatives say they cannot afford return of bodies, but do not wish to accept ashesThe families of the 39 Vietnamese people found dead in a refrigerated lorry in Essex last month are facing financial difficulties over repatriating the bodies of their relatives.Bui Huy Cuong, the deputy chairman of Can Loc district’s people’s committee in Ha Tinh province, where 10 of the victims are from, said local officials visited families and encouraged them to receive ashes instead of bodies, but “there was unofficial and incorrect information online saying that the British government will cover all costs [of bringing the bodies back to Vietnam]”, leading to confusion. Continue reading...
US news | The Guardian
Deal With Taliban Will Free American and Australian Professors, Officials Say
The apparent exchange, in which Afghan officials are to release three senior members of the Haqqani network of the Taliban, is likely to be a step toward new peace talks.
NYT > Home Page
What will decide your vote in the general election?
Have you found yourself changing your mind over the course of the campaign, or are you already certain about who you will be voting for and why?With so much information (and misinformation) about the general election populating our apps, newspapers, television channels and doorsteps during the campaign, we want to know what you think generally about it all.Have you found yourself changing your mind over the course of the campaign, or are you already certain about who you will be voting for? What is influencing your decision? Continue reading...
US news | The Guardian
UPDATE 1-Behind Trump-Erdogan 'bromance,' a White House meeting to repair U.S.-Turkey ties
At the 2012 opening of Trump Towers in Istanbul, real estate mogul Donald Trump sang the praises of Tayyip Erdogan, telling a mostly Turkish audience that their leader, prime minister at the time, was "highly respected" around the world.
Reuters: Top News - powered by FeedBurner
Huawei to give staff $286 million bonus for helping it ride out U.S. curbs
Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL] said on Tuesday it will hand out 2 billion yuan ($286 million) in cash rewards to staff working to help it weather a U.S. trade blacklisting. The world's largest telecoms equipment provider has said it has been trying to find alternatives to U.S. hardware after the United States all but banned it in May from doing business with American firms, disrupting its ability to source key parts.
REUTERS
Trump's call transcript, Carter's surgery, Disney+'s launch: 5 things you need to know Tuesday
Trump may release a transcript of another call with Ukraine's leader, President Jimmy Carter will have surgery and more news to start your Tuesday.       
USATODAY - News Top Stories
Trump 'to delay EU car tariffs'; UK unemployment data looms – business live
Rolling coverage of the latest economic and financial news, including the latest UK jobs reportIntroduction: Will Trump delay escalating trade war?President due to speak at 5pm UK timeComing up: UK unemployment data 8.22am GMT European Union officials are also quietly optimistic that Trump will resist triggering the car tariffs this week.One told Reuters:“We have a solid indication from the administration that there will not be tariffs on us this week.” 8.12am GMT Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.That would avoid a new bruising dispute with one of the United States’ biggest trading partners, just as Trump is trying to put out another trade fire by striking an initial deal with China. But it would also set the stage for Trump to revisit the controversial trade issue in the throes of next year’s presidential campaign.The person with familiar the decision cautioned there is always uncertainty surrounding Trump’s final determination when it comes to trades and tariffs. But barring some unforeseen development, the president is expected to announce another six-month delay, the person said. #Trump expected to delay auto tariff decision for 6 more months - Politicohttps://t.co/Anl9pO8QSw“Trump is going to make some criticism, but there won’t be any auto tariffs.He won’t do it. ... You are speaking to a fully informed man.” Related: Royal Mail applies for high court injunction to try to stop strike Continue reading...
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US news | The Guardian
Israel hit by 50 rockets from Gaza after airstrike kills Islamic Jihad leader
The incident marks a significant flare-up of cross-border violence that could have wide ramifications for the region.
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NBC News - Breaking News & Top Stories - Latest World, US & Local News
The opening episode of 'The Mandalorian' ends on a surprising cliffhanger. Here's what you need to know.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for "The Mandalorian." Disney Plus' new "Star Wars" TV series "The Mandalorian" premiered Tuesday on the streaming service. The first episode ends with a surprising reveal about the bounty hunter's targeted asset.  The creature has a significant connection to an iconic character from the original moves. Keep reading to learn more. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories. The new streaming service Disney Plus launched Tuesday, and with it came the very first episode of a "Star Wars" live-action series called "The Mandalorian." The pilot episode of this new show ends with a surprising revelation about the target of the show's main bounty hunter, who is known simply as the Mandalorian (and played by Pedro Pascal). The revealed character might confuse anyone who doesn't know when "The Mandalorian" takes place within the greater "Star Wars" timeline, because that character is not who you might think upon first sight.See the rest of the story at Business InsiderNOW WATCH: A 45-year-long study discovered trends in successful hyper-intelligent childrenSee Also:'High School Musical: The Musical: The Series' lacks the charm and originality of the beloved Disney Channel filmHenry Golding assumed costar Matthew McConaughey 'hated' him the first time they met on set: 'My world just imploded'The 'Long Island Medium' baffles a woman with spot-on details about her deceased son
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Business Insider
Impeachment hearings are Democrats' last, best chance to show how Trump endangers America
Closed impeachment testimony has revealed one nightmare after another. Now the witnesses are going public. Will America (and Republicans) take note?       
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USATODAY - News Top Stories
Turkey's Erdogan says will tell Trump U.S. failed to keep Syria promise
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday he would tell President Donald Trump that the United States has not fulfilled its agreement last month to remove the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia from a region along Turkey's border.
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Reuters: Top News - powered by FeedBurner
Nissan reports 70% second quarter profit slump, misses estimates
Nissan Motor Co Ltd on Tuesday reported a 70.4% fall in operating profit in the second quarter as the Japanese automaker continued to struggle with falling sales as it tries to recover from a scandal surrounding ousted Chairman Carlos Ghosn.
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REUTERS
Republican who helped lead Clinton impeachment says Trump-Ukraine call 'troublesome'
Asa Hutchinson, governor of Arkansas, called the call between President Trump and Ukraine's president "very troublesome" on "The Investigation" podcast.
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ABC News: Top Stories
Angular Ventures is a $41 million early-stage fund for deep tech startups entering the U.S.
Angular Ventures is a new London-based early-stage VC fund that focuses on European and Israeli "deep tech" enterprise startups launching in the U.S.
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VentureBeat | Tech News That Matters
Disney+ has arrived, here's everything you need to know
It's November 12th, and Disney has thrown the doors open on its streaming service Disney+. If you live in the US, Canada or the Netherlands, then you can get unprecedented access to the Disney vault as well as some interesting new original content. T...
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Engadget | Technology News, Advice and Features
Disney won’t share ratings for original Disney+ titles despite industry push to do so
Photo: Disney Disney won’t publicly share viewership numbers for its original series and movies, despite fellow streaming giants like Netflix being more transparent in the wake of industry-wide criticism. The content and development teams overseeing Disney+ have spoken about how they’re approaching sharing metrics in internal conversations, according to multiple Disney executives. The company currently doesn’t see a reason to share metrics with the public, although creative talent who partner with Disney on Disney+ titles will receive some form of ratings. Since Disney+ doesn’t run with ads, there’s no pressure to partner with a company like Nielsen, the foremost ratings agency, to show advertisers how well a show or movie is performing. Releasing numbers to the public would just put more focus on each individual performance, which the company doesn’t want to do at this time. Since Disney+ doesn’t run with ads, there’s no pressure to partner with a company like Nielsen Streaming companies like Netflix have faced backlash from reporters and the public for years for not being more transparent about viewership. This includes data like how many accounts finished a TV show or a movie, versus how many simply started a title. Netflix has become slightly more forthcoming in recent months, sharing more information on social media and in earnings reports about its metrics. Transparency is central to conversations about whether Netflix executives decide to renew a season. Netflix teams use an “efficiency metric” to internally determine whether a show is worth renewing. The ratio breaks down whether a show is likely to retain customers at risk of canceling their subscriptions, or bring in new subscribers. Stranger Things, Netflix’s most popular show to date, is likely to do both, while a cult-beloved show like The OA isn’t. Nielsen ratings are considered public interest because they help reiterate that a show is successful (The Walking Dead, The Big Bang Theory, Grey’s Anatomy), or that it isn’t (Firefly, Undeclared). Numbers don’t translate to quality, but the data helps people visualize what a “successful” show looks like. Ratings might seem like something the general public doesn’t care about, but conversations do arise when beloved shows get canceled. Tuca and Bertie is a perfect example. The animated series from BoJack Horsemanartist Lisa Hanawalt only ran one season before it was canceled — a move that Hanawalt blamed on Netflix’s algorithm. The algorithm, which could affect how many people stream a show, plays into the efficiency metric and whether a show gets canceled or renewed. It all bleeds down into what’s available for subscribers to watch. Transparency is central to conversations about whether Netflix executives decide to renew a season It also makes dealing with cancellations easier. If Disney starts to can shows, releasing those metrics could become a more prominent conversation. Disney has already renewed a few of its shows, like live-action Star Wars program The Mandalorian. It’s set for a second season that’s currently in development. Investors probably want to know how many people are watching Disney’s $15-million-an-episode show, and executives might share those numbers. For now, the public and reporters will be kept in the dark.
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The Verge
Disney doesn’t have plans to bring live-action Spider-Man movies to Disney+
Image: Sony Pictures Disney is working to bring the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe collection — 23 titles to date — to its Disney+ streaming service, but Spider-Man: Homecomingand Spider-Man: Far From Homeare unlikely to be included. Ricky Strauss, Disney’s head of content and marketing for Disney+, told The Verge at a recent media day in New York there aren’t any plans to bring the two movies over to Disney+. Although both Tom Holland-led Spider-Man movies, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home, were co-produced by Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures, the rights belong to Sony. That makes it infinitely more difficult for Disney to bring the movies over to its own streaming service. “We love our friends at Sony, but we don’t have any plans to have the live-action Spider-Man movies on Disney+ ” Strauss said. “We will have all the Spider-Man animated shows that we did so they’ll be on there under the Marvel banner. But who knows what can happen in the future?” Disney has worked out multiple deals to get much of the MCU back. That includes making last-minute deals just days before Disney+’s launch, according to a Disney executive. It explains why there are now several more Marvel titles available on Disney+ than what Disney announced less than one month ago. It also explains this lengthy thread from the official Disney+ account published earlier today. “We love our friends at Sony, but we don’t have any plans to have the live-action Spider-Man movies on Disney+” Then, last week, Disney announced Avengers: Endgame would be available on Disney+ one month earlier than expected, moving up from December 11th to November 12th. Kevin Mayer, Disney’s head of direct-to-consumer services, told press that it was a one-time occurrence where a movie still within its home release window (the three-month period after a movie leaves theaters) would be cut short. Exceptions were made for Endgame because of Disney+’s launch and there only being a few weeks left in the home release window. Netflix will remain a major roadblock for Disney+ at launch. The only films that aren’t on the service are those that will remain on Netflix until the end of 2019 (Black Panther, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Avengers: Infinity Warand Thor: Ragnarok). These four movies will become available on Disney+ beginning in 2020, once the contract with Netflix expires. It’s also why seven installments in the Skywalker saga will be available to stream on Disney+, but not Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Eventually all Disney IP will end up on Disney+, according to executives. It’s just going to take some time — and patience — for rights to revert back to themselves.
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The Verge
‘We’re not embarrassed by the fact that we have big blockbusters,’ Disney exec says
Marvel Studios Marvel Studios is at the heart of a debate. One side is represented by directors like Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola, who argue that superhero movies dominating the box office make it difficult for any other type of movie to survive, let alone thrive, in theaters. On the other is Disney, a company whose executives argue that it’s one of the largest supporters of cinema and theatrical releases. Disney is a company poised to make $10 billion this year at the box office — the highest for one studio in history — on the backs of remakes, sequels, and franchise installments. Scorsese, Coppola, and a community of cinephiles have long bemoaned what mega entertainment companies like Disney are doing to film, but company executives feel differently. “We are not embarrassed by the fact that we have big blockbuster movies that people enjoy,” Kevin Mayer, Disney’s head of direct-to-consumer products, told The Verge at a recent media day in New York City. “If you look at the box office success, that’s an indicator of how popular and how embraced these films are by real audiences.” “We are not embarrassed by the fact that we have big blockbuster movies that people enjoy” Back-and-forth remarks from filmmakers and studio executives about Scorsese’s take on superhero films dominating the box office have escalated. Everything came to a head when Scorsese published an essay in The New York Times’ Opinion section clarifying his remarks, examining the relationship between what movies get theatrical releases and proper marketing. The bottom line, Scorsese wrote, is “that the financial dominance of one is being used to marginalize and even belittle the existence of the other.” “For anyone who dreams of making movies or who is just starting out, the situation at this moment is brutal and inhospitable to art,” Scorsese wrote. Mayer and other Disney executives, including CEO Bob Iger, don’t see it that way. Disney is “one of the biggest supporters of the theatrical business in the world,” Mayer said, adding that Disney’s films are “really helping cinema quite a bit.” Now that Disney owns 21st Century Fox, including beloved studio Fox Searchlight (The Shape of Water, Juno, Boys Don’t Cry, The Wrestler), Mayer said Disney wants to continue supporting the “smaller, edgier, more artsy films” by giving them full theatrical releases. That doesn’t mean every movie will get a theatrical release; because Disney is in the streaming business, some titles will be made exclusively for Disney+ and Hulu. Take The Lady and the Tramp, alive-action remake starring Justin Theroux and Janelle Monaé. It was supposed to be a theatrical release, but was switched to a Disney+ exclusive launch title instead. Disney is “one of the biggest supporters of the theatrical business in the world,” Mayer said Live-action remakes are an important part of Disney’s theatrical calendar, but enthusiasm may be waning. Although The Lion Kingand Aladdinboth crossed the $1 billion mark worldwide, Dumbo only pulled in $353 million. All three movies received mixed reviews. From a business perspective, it makes sense for some movies to receive streaming exclusivity windows, where they may bring in more subscribers, than to get standard theatrical releases. Iger suggested on Disney’s most recent earnings call that studios such as Fox Searchlight could start making exclusive movies for Hulu. Those decisions are made through conversations between the studios, Disney’s content team, and input from Iger himself, Mayer said. “So we continue to make more incremental films,” Mayer said. “We think that we’re deploying in the right way. And I think we think we’re supporting the cinema business point.” Unlike Netflix, Disney isn’t abandoning a traditional theatrical release schedule in order to appeal to digital subscribers. The company wants to continue working with talent to bring their films into theaters — especially blockbusters, like Avengers: Endgame. “We are happy to have those films, and those films — our big event films — will continue to be theatrically released,” Mayer said. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.
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The Verge
How important will Marvel’s Disney+ shows be in understanding the Cinematic Universe?
Marvel Studios Marvel Studios Kevin Feige kicked off a chorus of complaints last week after declaring that in order to understand everything happening in future Marvel movies, people would have to subscribe to Disney+. Disney executives Ricky Strauss and Agnes Chu, both directly involved in overseeing Disney+ content, further explained Feige and Marvel’s approach to connecting with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. WandaVision, a series that stars Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch and Paul Bettany as Vision, is the go-to example. Both that series and Loki, the Disney+ Marvel series that focuses on Tom Hiddleston’s popular character, will play into the second Doctor Strange movie, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. “Specifically with a series like WandaVision, you will get to understand more about the Scarlet Witch in a way that informs her character, which we will see from her in future Marvel movies,” Chu told The Verge. Neither executives specifically addressed just how much Scarlet Witch’s arc in WandaVision would relate to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness plot-wise. Instead, both reiterated that having Feige heading development on both the film and TV side would help keep it consistent. “When those stories are over in those seasons, they can migrate back to the big screen, and then back to Disney+” “Kevin’s a genius, and he has so many different stories that he wants to tell with such a large variety of Marvel characters,” Chu added. “Some of them are better told in an episodic format. There’s just more hours where you can really get in-depth with those characters.” Spacing out theatrical releases and new Marvel shows on Disney+ should help fans from burning out on the MCU, according to Disney executives. It’s not just Marvel movies that will receive this treatment; there are several Star Wars projects in development and some could intersect with new movies in the future. Disney+ gives the company a chance to explore how movies and shows can work together. “One of the advantages that we’ve had with Marvel is the ability to take these stories and migrate them from the big screen on to Disney+ in a way that we’ve never been able to do before with episodic content,” Strauss told The Verge. “When those stories are over in those seasons, they can migrate back to the big screen, and then back to Disney+, so the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not just a theatrical play. It’s also for the streaming service.” If anyone can figure out how to execute it properly, it’s Feige, but that hasn’t convinced everyone it’s a feat Disney can pull off. Marvel has tried more gimmicky tie-ins, both on- and off-screen. In fact, a portion of Marvel Comics’ run in the ’90s was defined by complex and exhaustive crossover events that led to ridicule and headaches years later from the comics community. That was pre-MCU, but the idea somewhat continued. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD aired an episode directly leading up to Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015. The move was as much a marketing strategy as it was a content play; intertwining the two helped boost Agents of SHIELD’s ratings and increased attention on Age of Ultron. Using WandaVision, Loki, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness puts Disney in the same boat. Disney wants to grow its streaming service as fast as it possibly can, a difficult feat for any company. Leveraging the popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to boost subscriptions is an exclusive advantage for Disney — one that Chu says is “only something this company can do.” Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.
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The Verge
Bosnia’s politics are in crisis. But that is reason for the EU to help us, not shut us out | Boriša Falatar
A failed state on the edge of Europe is a bad outcome for everyone. The EU needs to show bravery and visionThe European Union’s recent decision to freeze any further enlargement into the Balkans made me think of a moment from a quarter of a century ago, when I saw the EU flag for the first time. I was a 16-year-old Bosnian refugee, standing in dirt, holding a humanitarian aid package in my arms. The box I had received contained rice, flour and other relief items that were supposed to last me two weeks. I took out a can of corned beef and on the side saw a dazzling circle of gold stars on a blue background. The text beneath the EU flag read: “Donated by the European Community.”This was not how we had imagined our future relationship with the European Union. Its flag was supposed to represent our aspiration for a higher state of existence, close to our heritage as Europe’s most diverse country. It was not the corned beef, but the dream of joining a community of tolerance and open borders that kept many of us going through rough times. It gave us hope because, deep inside, we knew that we belonged. This belief in what the EU represented was practically coded in our national DNA. Continue reading...
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US news | The Guardian
My boyfriend won’t have sex with me while I’m on my period
When I’m on my period, my sex drive goes through the roof, but he is unable to perform at the thought of the mess – it’s very frustratingI am a 24-year-old woman. My boyfriend and I have been together for ages and enjoy some amazing sex. However, there is one area we cannot seem to reconcile – the dreaded period. While I am on my period, my sex drive often goes through the roof, but he is unable to perform at the thought of the inevitable mess, particularly the blood itself. I find this highly frustrating and I’m sure he does, too, although he’s too polite to say it. Am I unreasonable to expect him to put up with a little mess? My previous boyfriend never had this issue. Different people have different views, feelings and boundaries regarding many aspects of physical intimacy and these are often non-negotiable. It is important to respect each other’s limits generally, and it would be very unwise to push for penetrative sex during menstruation since that is obviously a turn-off for him. But you could surely find creative ways to have highly erotic, non-penetrative sex that could avoid “messiness” and be comfortable and satisfying for you both. Examples might be erotic conversation, touching, massage, role playing and playing with sex toys. Reassure him that you will respect his comfort level, then reframe your menstrual period as an opportunity to explore new erotic options and fantasies. You may find that setting the necessary limits and embarking on daring experimentation could lead to thrilling rewards for both of you. Continue reading...
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US news | The Guardian
How the Language From the Sims Was Created
Chances are you’ve escaped reality (at least temporarily) through “The Sims.” One of the first life simulation video games, it allows players to live vicariously through virtual characters—and it’s played by people the world over. Which is why the characters speak a fictional language that everyone can understand. It’s called Simlish, and there’s a method to the gibberish. We join voice actors Krizia Bajos and Scott Whyte at a recording studio inside Electronic Arts in Redwood, California, to see and hear how the language was created. If you have a really good ear for languages, you just might be able to say “How are you?” in Simlish by the end of this video.
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Sport
How Laws Against Child Sexual Abuse Imagery Can Make It Harder to Detect
Tech companies are deploying artificial intelligence to detect new photos and videos. But such efforts may run afoul of the law.
1 h
The New York Times
Disney+ gets every 'Star Wars' movie in 4K, Dolby Vision and Atmos
We knew Disney+ would be the new home of Star Wars ever since the service was announced, but Disney kept an interesting nugget secret until now. The entire Star Wars series, including the original trilogy and much-maligned prequels, has also been rem...
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Engadget | Technology News, Advice and Features
Everything to Know About Disney+
Over a year after it was first announced, Disney+ is finally here and full of cartoons, superheroes, and space wizards for you to gawk at. Last week, Gizmodo got a chance to check out the new streaming service app in its final form and speak with the team behind Disney+’s launch.Read more...
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Gizmodo - We come from the future.
How America Ends
Democracy depends on the consent of the losers. For most of the 20th century, parties and candidates in the United States have competed in elections with the understanding that electoral defeats are neither permanent nor intolerable. The losers could accept the result, adjust their ideas and coalitions, and move on to fight in the next election. Ideas and policies would be contested, sometimes viciously, but however heated the rhetoric got, defeat was not generally equated with political annihilation. The stakes could feel high, but rarely existential. In recent years, however, beginning before the election of Donald Trump and accelerating since, that has changed.To hear more feature stories, see our full list or get the Audm iPhone app. “Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice, and rage,” Trump told the crowd at his reelection kickoff event in Orlando in June. “They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it.” This is the core of the president’s pitch to his supporters: He is all that stands between them and the abyss.In October, with the specter of impeachment looming, he fumed on Twitter, “What is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP, intended to take away the Power of the People, their VOTE, their Freedoms, their Second Amendment, Religion, Military, Border Wall, and their God-given rights as a Citizen of The United States of America!” For good measure, he also quoted a supporter’s dark prediction that impeachment “will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.”Trump’s apocalyptic rhetoric matches the tenor of the times. The body politic is more fractious than at any time in recent memory. Over the past 25 years, both red and blue areas have become more deeply hued, with Democrats clustering in cities and suburbs and Republicans filling in rural areas and exurbs. In Congress, where the two caucuses once overlapped ideologically, the dividing aisle has turned into a chasm.As partisans have drifted apart geographically and ideologically, they’ve become more hostile toward each other. In 1960, less than 5 percent of Democrats and Republicans said they’d be unhappy if their children married someone from the other party; today, 35 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Democrats would be, according to a recent Public Religion Research Institute/Atlantic poll—far higher than the percentages that object to marriages crossing the boundaries of race and religion. As hostility rises, Americans’ trust in political institutions, and in one another, is declining. A study released by the Pew Research Center in July found that only about half of respondents believed their fellow citizens would accept election results no matter who won. At the fringes, distrust has become centrifugal: Right-wing activists in Texas and left-wing activists in California have revived talk of secession.Recent research by political scientists at Vanderbilt University and other institutions has found both Republicans and Democrats distressingly willing to dehumanize members of the opposite party. “Partisans are willing to explicitly state that members of the opposing party are like animals, that they lack essential human traits,” the researchers found. The president encourages and exploits such fears. This is a dangerous line to cross. As the researchers write, “Dehumanization may loosen the moral restraints that would normally prevent us from harming another human being.”Outright political violence remains considerably rarer than in other periods of partisan divide, including the late 1960s. But overheated rhetoric has helped radicalize some individuals. Cesar Sayoc, who was arrested for targeting multiple prominent Democrats with pipe bombs, was an avid Fox News watcher; in court filings, his lawyers said he took inspiration from Trump’s white-supremacist rhetoric. “It is impossible,” they wrote, “to separate the political climate and [Sayoc’s] mental illness.” James Hodgkinson, who shot at Republican lawmakers (and badly wounded Representative Steve Scalise) at a baseball practice, was a member of the Facebook groups Terminate the Republican Party and The Road to Hell Is Paved With Republicans. In other instances, political protests have turned violent, most notably in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a Unite the Right rally led to the murder of a young woman. In Portland, Oregon, and elsewhere, the left-wing “antifa” movement has clashed with police. The violence of extremist groups provides ammunition to ideologues seeking to stoke fear of the other side.What has caused such rancor? The stresses of a globalizing, postindustrial economy. Growing economic inequality. The hyperbolizing force of social media. Geographic sorting. The demagogic provocations of the president himself. As in Murder on the Orient Express, every suspect has had a hand in the crime.But the biggest driver might be demographic change. The United States is undergoing a transition perhaps no rich and stable democracy has ever experienced: Its historically dominant group is on its way to becoming a political minority—and its minority groups are asserting their co-equal rights and interests. If there are precedents for such a transition, they lie here in the United States, where white Englishmen initially predominated, and the boundaries of the dominant group have been under negotiation ever since. Yet those precedents are hardly comforting. Many of these renegotiations sparked political conflict or open violence, and few were as profound as the one now under way.Within the living memory of most Americans, a majority of the country’s residents were white Christians. That is no longer the case, and voters are not insensate to the change—nearly a third of conservatives say they face “a lot” of discrimination for their beliefs, as do more than half of white evangelicals. But more epochal than the change that has already happened is the change that is yet to come: Sometime in the next quarter century or so, depending on immigration rates and the vagaries of ethnic and racial identification, nonwhites will become a majority in the U.S. For some Americans, that change will be cause for celebration; for others, it may pass unnoticed. But the transition is already producing a sharp political backlash, exploited and exacerbated by the president. In 2016, white working-class voters who said that discrimination against whites is a serious problem, or who said they felt like strangers in their own country, were almost twice as likely to vote for Trump as those who did not. Two-thirds of Trump voters agreed that “the 2016 election represented the last chance to stop America’s decline.” In Trump, they’d found a defender.[Robert P. Jones: The electoral time machine that could reelect Trump]In 2002, the political scientist Ruy Teixeira and the journalist John Judis published a book, The Emerging Democratic Majority, which argued that demographic changes—the browning of America, along with the movement of more women, professionals, and young people into the Democratic fold—would soon usher in a “new progressive era” that would relegate Republicans to permanent minority political status. The book argued, somewhat triumphally, that the new emerging majority was inexorable and inevitable. After Barack Obama’s reelection, in 2012, Teixeira doubled down on the argument in The Atlantic, writing, “The Democratic majority could be here to stay.” Two years later, after the Democrats got thumped in the 2014 midterms, Judis partially recanted, saying that the emerging Democratic majority had turned out to be a mirage and that growing support for the GOP among the white working class would give the Republicans a long-term advantage. The 2016 election seemed to confirm this.But now many conservatives, surveying demographic trends, have concluded that Teixeira wasn’t wrong—merely premature. They can see the GOP’s sinking fortunes among younger voters, and feel the culture turning against them, condemning them today for views that were commonplace only yesterday. They are losing faith that they can win elections in the future. With this comes dark possibilities.The Republican Party has treated Trump’s tenure more as an interregnum than a revival, a brief respite that can be used to slow its decline. Instead of simply contesting elections, the GOP has redoubled its efforts to narrow the electorate and raise the odds that it can win legislative majorities with a minority of votes. In the first five years after conservative justices on the Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, 39 percent of the counties that the law had previously restrained reduced their number of polling places. And while gerrymandering is a bipartisan sin, over the past decade Republicans have indulged in it more heavily. In Wisconsin last year, Democrats won 53 percent of the votes cast in state legislative races, but just 36 percent of the seats. In Pennsylvania, Republicans tried to impeach the state Supreme Court justices who had struck down a GOP attempt to gerrymander congressional districts in that state. The Trump White House has tried to suppress counts of immigrants for the 2020 census, to reduce their voting power. All political parties maneuver for advantage, but only a party that has concluded it cannot win the votes of large swaths of the public will seek to deter them from casting those votes at all.The history of the United States is rich with examples of once-dominant groups adjusting to the rise of formerly marginalized populations—sometimes gracefully, more often bitterly, and occasionally violently. Partisan coalitions in the United States are constantly reshuffling, realigning along new axes. Once-rigid boundaries of faith, ethnicity, and class often prove malleable. Issues gain salience or fade into irrelevance; yesterday’s rivals become tomorrow’s allies.But sometimes, that process of realignment breaks down. Instead of reaching out and inviting new allies into its coalition, the political right hardens, turning against the democratic processes it fears will subsume it. A conservatism defined by ideas can hold its own against progressivism, winning converts to its principles and evolving with each generation. A conservatism defined by identity reduces the complex calculus of politics to a simple arithmetic question—and at some point, the numbers no longer add up.Photograph: Sam Kaplan; prop styling: Brian ByrneTrump has led his party to this dead end, and it may well cost him his chance for reelection, presuming he is not removed through impeachment. But the president’s defeat would likely only deepen the despair that fueled his rise, confirming his supporters’ fear that the demographic tide has turned against them. That fear is the single greatest threat facing American democracy, the force that is already battering down precedents, leveling norms, and demolishing guardrails. When a group that has traditionally exercised power comes to believe that its eclipse is inevitable, and that the destruction of all it holds dear will follow, it will fight to preserve what it has—whatever the cost.Adam Przeworski, a political scientist who has studied struggling democracies in Eastern Europe and Latin America, has argued that to survive, democratic institutions “must give all the relevant political forces a chance to win from time to time in the competition of interests and values.” But, he adds, they also have to do something else, of equal importance: “They must make even losing under democracy more attractive than a future under non-democratic outcomes.” That conservatives—despite currently holding the White House, the Senate, and many state governments—are losing faith in their ability to win elections in the future bodes ill for the smooth functioning of American democracy. That they believe these electoral losses would lead to their destruction is even more worrying.We should be careful about overstating the dangers. It is not 1860 again in the United States—it is not even 1850. But numerous examples from American history—most notably the antebellum South—offer a cautionary tale about how quickly a robust democracy can weaken when a large section of the population becomes convinced that it cannot continue to win elections, and also that it cannot afford to lose them.The collapse of the mainstream Republican Party in the face of Trumpism is at once a product of highly particular circumstances and a disturbing echo of other events. In his recent study of the emergence of democracy in Western Europe, the political scientist Daniel Ziblatt zeroes in on a decisive factor distinguishing the states that achieved democratic stability from those that fell prey to authoritarian impulses: The key variable was not the strength or character of the political left, or of the forces pushing for greater democratization, so much as the viability of the center-right. A strong center-right party could wall off more extreme right-wing movements, shutting out the radicals who attacked the political system itself.[Read: Daniel Ziblatt on why conservative parties are central to democracy]The left is by no means immune to authoritarian impulses; some of the worst excesses of the 20th century were carried out by totalitarian left-wing regimes. But right-wing parties are typically composed of people who have enjoyed power and status within a society. They might include disproportionate numbers of leaders—business magnates, military officers, judges, governors—upon whose loyalty and support the government depends. If groups that traditionally have enjoyed privileged positions see a future for themselves in a more democratic society, Ziblatt finds, they will accede to it. But if “conservative forces believe that electoral politics will permanently exclude them from government, they are more likely to reject democracy outright.”Ziblatt points to Germany in the 1930s, the most catastrophic collapse of a democracy in the 20th century, as evidence that the fate of democracy lies in the hands of conservatives. Where the center-right flourishes, it can defend the interests of its adherents, starving more radical movements of support. In Germany, where center-right parties faltered, “not their strength, but rather their weakness” became the driving force behind democracy’s collapse.Of course, the most catastrophic collapse of a democracy in the 19th century took place right here in the United States, sparked by the anxieties of white voters who feared the decline of their own power within a diversifying nation.The slaveholding South exercised disproportionate political power in the early republic. America’s first dozen presidents—excepting only those named Adams—were slaveholders. Twelve of the first 16 secretaries of state came from slave states. The South initially dominated Congress as well, buoyed by its ability to count three-fifths of the enslaved persons held as property for the purposes of apportionment.Politics in the early republic was factious and fractious, dominated by crosscutting interests. But as Northern states formally abandoned slavery, and then embraced westward expansion, tensions rose between the states that exalted free labor and the ones whose fortunes were directly tied to slave labor, bringing sectional conflict to the fore. By the mid-19th century, demographics were clearly on the side of the free states, where the population was rapidly expanding. Immigrants surged across the Atlantic, finding jobs in Northern factories and settling on midwestern farms. By the outbreak of the Civil War, the foreign-born would form 19 percent of the population of the Northern states, but just 4 percent of the Southern population.The new dynamic was first felt in the House of Representatives, the most democratic institution of American government—and the Southern response was a concerted effort to remove the topic of slavery from debate. In 1836, Southern congressmen and their allies imposed a gag rule on the House, barring consideration of petitions that so much as mentioned slavery, which would stand for nine years. As the historian Joanne Freeman shows in her recent book, The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War, slave-state representatives in Washington also turned to bullying, brandishing weapons, challenging those who dared disparage the peculiar institution to duels, or simply attacking them on the House floor with fists or canes. In 1845, an antislavery speech delivered by Ohio’s Joshua Giddings so upset Louisiana’s John Dawson that he cocked his pistol and announced that he intended to kill his fellow congressman. In a scene more Sergio Leone than Frank Capra, other representatives—at least four of them with guns of their own—rushed to either side, in a tense standoff. By the late 1850s, the threat of violence was so pervasive that members regularly entered the House armed.As Southern politicians perceived that demographic trends were starting to favor the North, they began to regard popular democracy itself as a threat. “The North has acquired a decided ascendancy over every department of this Government,” warned South Carolina’s Senator John C. Calhoun in 1850, a “despotic” situation, in which the interests of the South were bound to be sacrificed, “however oppressive the effects may be.” With the House tipping against them, Southern politicians focused on the Senate, insisting that the admission of any free states be balanced by new slave states, to preserve their control of the chamber. They looked to the Supreme Court—which by the 1850s had a five-justice majority from slaveholding states—to safeguard their power. And, fatefully, they struck back at the power of Northerners to set the rules of their own communities, launching a frontal assault on states’ rights.But the South and its conciliating allies overreached. A center-right consensus, drawing Southern plantation owners together with Northern businessmen, had long kept the Union intact. As demographics turned against the South, though, its politicians began to abandon hope of convincing their Northern neighbors of the moral justice of their position, or of the pragmatic case for compromise. Instead of reposing faith in electoral democracy to protect their way of life, they used the coercive power of the federal government to compel the North to support the institution of slavery, insisting that anyone providing sanctuary to slaves, even in free states, be punished: The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 required Northern law-enforcement officials to arrest those who escaped from Southern plantations, and imposed penalties on citizens who gave them shelter.The persecution complex of the South succeeded where decades of abolitionist activism had failed, producing the very hostility to slavery that Southerners feared. The sight of armed marshals ripping apart families and marching their neighbors back to slavery roused many Northerners from their moral torpor. The push-and-pull of democratic politics had produced setbacks for the South over the previous decades, but the South’s abandonment of electoral democracy in favor of countermajoritarian politics would prove catastrophic to its cause.Today, a Republican Party that appeals primarily to white Christian voters is fighting a losing battle. The Electoral College, Supreme Court, and Senate may delay defeat for a time, but they cannot postpone it forever.[From January/February 2009: Hua Hsu’s cover story on the end of white America]The GOP’s efforts to cling to power by coercion instead of persuasion have illuminated the perils of defining a political party in a pluralistic democracy around a common heritage, rather than around values or ideals. Consider Trump’s push to slow the pace of immigration, which has backfired spectacularly, turning public opinion against his restrictionist stance. Before Trump announced his presidential bid, in 2015, less than a quarter of Americans thought legal immigration should be increased; today, more than a third feel that way. Whatever the merits of Trump’s particular immigration proposals, he has made them less likely to be enacted.For a populist, Trump is remarkably unpopular. But no one should take comfort from that fact. The more he radicalizes his opponents against his agenda, the more he gives his own supporters to fear. The excesses of the left bind his supporters more tightly to him, even as the excesses of the right make it harder for the Republican Party to command majority support, validating the fear that the party is passing into eclipse, in a vicious cycle.Photograph: Sam Kaplan; prop styling: Brian ByrneThe right, and the country, can come back from this. Our history is rife with influential groups that, after discarding their commitment to democratic principles in an attempt to retain their grasp on power, lost their fight and then discovered they could thrive in the political order they had so feared. The Federalists passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, criminalizing criticism of their administration; Redemption-era Democrats stripped black voters of the franchise; and Progressive Republicans wrested municipal governance away from immigrant voters. Each rejected popular democracy out of fear that it would lose at the polls, and terror at what might then result. And in each case democracy eventually prevailed, without tragic effect on the losers. The American system works more often than it doesn’t.The years around the First World War offer another example. A flood of immigrants, particularly from Eastern and Southern Europe, left many white Protestants feeling threatened. In rapid succession, the nation instituted Prohibition, in part to regulate the social habits of these new populations; staged the Palmer Raids, which rounded up thousands of political radicals and deported hundreds; saw the revival of the Ku Klux Klan as a national organization with millions of members, including tens of thousands who marched openly through Washington, D.C.; and passed new immigration laws, slamming shut the doors to the United States.Under President Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic Party was at the forefront of this nativist backlash. Four years after Wilson left office, the party faced a battle between Wilson’s son-in-law and Al Smith—a New York Catholic of Irish, German, and Italian extraction who opposed Prohibition and denounced lynching—for the presidential nomination. The convention deadlocked for more than 100 ballots, ultimately settling on an obscure nominee. But in the next nominating fight, four years after that, Smith prevailed, shouldering aside the nativist forces within the party. He brought together newly enfranchised women and the ethnic voters of growing industrial cities. The Democrats lost the presidential race in 1928—but won the next five, in one of the most dominant runs in American political history. The most effective way to protect the things they cherished, Democratic politicians belatedly discovered, wasn’t by locking immigrants out of the party, but by inviting them in.Whether the American political system today can endure without fracturing further, Daniel Ziblatt’s research suggests, may depend on the choices the center-right now makes. If the center-right decides to accept some electoral defeats and then seeks to gain adherents via argumentation and attraction—and, crucially, eschews making racial heritage its organizing principle—then the GOP can remain vibrant. Its fissures will heal and its prospects will improve, as did those of the Democratic Party in the 1920s, after Wilson. Democracy will be maintained. But if the center-right, surveying demographic upheaval and finding the prospect of electoral losses intolerable, casts its lot with Trumpism and a far right rooted in ethno-nationalism, then it is doomed to an ever smaller proportion of voters, and risks revisiting the ugliest chapters of our history.Two documents produced after Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012 and before Trump’s election in 2016 lay out the stakes and the choice. After Romney’s stinging defeat in the presidential election, the Republican National Committee decided that if it held to its course, it was destined for political exile. It issued a report calling on the GOP to do more to win over “Hispanic[s], Asian and Pacific Islanders, African Americans, Indian Americans, Native Americans, women, and youth[s].” There was an edge of panic in that recommendation; those groups accounted for nearly three-quarters of the ballots cast in 2012. “Unless the RNC gets serious about tackling this problem, we will lose future elections,” the report warned. “The data demonstrates this.”But it wasn’t just the pragmatists within the GOP who felt this panic. In the most influential declaration of right-wing support for Trumpism, the conservative writer Michael Anton declared in the Claremont Review of Books that “2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die.” His cry of despair offered a bleak echo of the RNC’s demographic analysis. “If you haven’t noticed, our side has been losing consistently since 1988,” he wrote, averring that “the deck is stacked overwhelmingly against us.” He blamed “the ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners,” which had placed Democrats “on the cusp of a permanent victory that will forever obviate [their] need to pretend to respect democratic and constitutional niceties.”The Republican Party faced a choice between these two competing visions in the last presidential election. The post-2012 report defined the GOP ideologically, urging its leaders to reach out to new groups, emphasize the values they had in common, and rebuild the party into an organization capable of winning a majority of the votes in a presidential race. Anton’s essay, by contrast, defined the party as the defender of “a people, a civilization” threatened by America’s growing diversity. The GOP’s efforts to broaden its coalition, he thundered, were an abject surrender. If it lost the next election, conservatives would be subjected to “vindictive persecution against resistance and dissent.”Anton and some 63 million other Americans charged the cockpit. The standard-bearers of the Republican Party were vanquished by a candidate who had never spent a day in public office, and who oozed disdain for democratic processes. Instead of reaching out to a diversifying electorate, Donald Trump doubled down on core Republican constituencies, promising to protect them from a culture and a polity that, he said, were turning against them.[The gravest danger to American democracy isn’t an excess of vitriol, argues Adam Serwer. It’s the false promise of civility.]When Trump’s presidency comes to its end, the Republican Party will confront the same choice it faced before his rise, only even more urgently. In 2013, the party’s leaders saw the path that lay before them clearly, and urged Republicans to reach out to voters of diverse backgrounds whose own values matched the “ideals, philosophy and principles” of the GOP. Trumpism deprioritizes conservative ideas and principles in favor of ethno-nationalism.The conservative strands of America’s political heritage—a bias in favor of continuity, a love for traditions and institutions, a healthy skepticism of sharp departures—provide the nation with a requisite ballast. America is at once a land of continual change and a nation of strong continuities. Each new wave of immigration to the United States has altered its culture, but the immigrants themselves have embraced and thus conserved many of its core traditions. To the enormous frustration of their clergy, Jews and Catholics and Muslims arriving on these shores became a little bit congregationalist, shifting power from the pulpits to the pews. Peasants and laborers became more entrepreneurial. Many new arrivals became more egalitarian. And all became more American.By accepting these immigrants, and inviting them to subscribe to the country’s founding ideals, American elites avoided displacement. The country’s dominant culture has continually redefined itself, enlarging its boundaries to retain a majority of a changing population. When the United States came into being, most Americans were white, Protestant, and English. But the ineradicable difference between a Welshman and a Scot soon became all but undetectable. Whiteness itself proved elastic, first excluding Jews and Italians and Irish, and then stretching to encompass them. Established Churches gave way to a variety of Protestant sects, and the proliferation of other faiths made “Christian” a coherent category; that broadened, too, into the Judeo-Christian tradition. If America’s white Christian majority is gone, then some new majority is already emerging to take its place—some new, more capacious way of understanding what it is to belong to the American mainstream.So strong is the attraction of the American idea that it infects even our dissidents. The suffragists at Seneca Falls, Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and Harvey Milk in front of San Francisco’s city hall all quoted the Declaration of Independence. The United States possesses a strong radical tradition, but its most successful social movements have generally adopted the language of conservatism, framing their calls for change as an expression of America’s founding ideals rather than as a rejection of them.Even today, large numbers of conservatives retain the courage of their convictions, believing they can win new adherents to their cause. They have not despaired of prevailing at the polls and they are not prepared to abandon moral suasion in favor of coercion; they are fighting to recover their party from a president whose success was built on convincing voters that the country is slipping away from them.The stakes in this battle on the right are much higher than the next election. If Republican voters can’t be convinced that democratic elections will continue to offer them a viable path to victory, that they can thrive within a diversifying nation, and that even in defeat their basic rights will be protected, then Trumpism will extend long after Trump leaves office—and our democracy will suffer for it.This article appears in the December 2019 print edition with the headline “How America Ends.”
1 h
World Edition - The Atlantic
A Nation Coming Apart
The 45th president of the United States is uniquely unfit for office and poses a multifaceted threat to our country’s democratic institutions. Yet he might not represent the most severe challenge facing our country. The structural failures in our democratic system that allowed a grifter into the White House in the first place—this might be our gravest challenge. Or perhaps it is the tribalization of our politics, brought about by pathological levels of inequality, technological and demographic upheaval, and the tenacious persistence of racism. Or maybe it is that we as a people no longer seem to know who we are or what our common purpose is.Last year, Cullen Murphy, our editor at large, and I began a conversation with Danielle Allen, the author of a matchless book on the meaning and promise of America, Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality, about the causes of this dispiriting moment. Allen, who is the James Bryant Conant University Professor and the director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, told me that our system of self-governance has been in crisis for a long time, since well before the dark night of Trumpism. Disenfranchisement and self-disenfranchisement; the radically uneven distribution of wealth and opportunity; institutions so dysfunctional that it would be irrational for citizens to invest in them; the rise of the technocracy—all of these threaten to place the American experiment in permanent eclipse.“We have to think urgently about representation,” she told me. “The most important invention of the 18th century that allowed us to run a democracy at scale was representative government—the election of representatives to a legislature empowered by the people. We have to talk about this. We have to talk about technocracy, how it has driven massive sociopolitical change” without answering to the people who are experiencing those changes.Out of our conversations, and others like it, emerged the idea for the special issue you are now reading, what we have called “How to Stop a Civil War.” We don’t believe that conditions in the United States today resemble those of 1850s America. But we worry that the ties that bind us are fraying at alarming speed—we are becoming contemptuous of each other in ways that are both dire and possibly irreversible.By edict of our founders, The Atlantic is meant to be the magazine of the American idea. In November 1857, when our first issue was published, the American idea was besieged by the forces of slavery. The Atlantic, then as now, stood for American unity, but it also stood for the idea that America is by its nature both imperfect and ultimately perfectible. The untiring pursuit of a more perfect union is at the core of the American idea.[From October 2018: The American crisis in democracy]When I discussed the notion of this issue with the editor of our print magazine, Don Peck, and his deputy, Denise Wills, we reached the conclusion that any Atlantic journalism confronting questions of American unity and fracture would have to be both analytical and prescriptive, and would require the services of some of America’s best writers and thinkers.We have spread the feature stories in this special issue across three parts. In the first, “On the Forces That Pull Us Apart,” our ideas editor, Yoni Appelbaum (the author of our prescient March cover story calling for the president’s impeachment), dissects the exceptional challenges America faces as a unitary construct: He notes that no rich, stable democracy has made the demographic transition we are now experiencing. Jonathan Haidt and Tobias Rose-Stockwell diagnose the impact of social media on democratic practices and on our cognitive capacity itself. Tara Westover examines the rural-urban divide in the context of our national fracturing, and Jonathan Rauch and Ray La Raja argue that too much democracy is bad for democracy.[“The left and the right, the elite and the non-elite, the urban and the rural—however you want to slice it up—they no longer see themselves reflected in the other person,” Tara Westover tells Jeffrey Goldberg.]In Part 2, “Appeals to Our Better Nature,” Caitlin Flanagan goes directly at the most divisive and emotional issue of our time—abortion—and argues for mutual empathy; Tom Junod tells us how the legendary Mister Rogers, who was first his profile subject and later his friend, is misunderstood; and Andrew Ferguson asks whether the techniques of marriage counseling can be applied to the cause of national unity.In Part 3, “Reconciliation & Its Alternatives,” we feature Danielle Allen’s dazzling treatise, “The Road From Serfdom,” along with a call from James Mattis to remember and refine the principles of patriotism and national purpose. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the brilliant creator of Hamilton, makes the case for the indispensability of art in a polarized time. And Adam Serwer, one of the great chroniclers of the Trump era, offers a dissent to the idea that we should prize a return to civility, and argues against reconciliation as a substitute for truth-telling.Elsewhere in this issue, you will find essays, reports, and interviews from some of our best writers: Megan Garber, Sophie Gilbert, David Frum, Graeme Wood, Adrienne Green. The multitalented Amanda Mull launches her new column, “Material World,” and we’ve reserved our back page for the singular James Parker.Our immodest hope is that this special issue, appearing on newsstands exactly 162 years after our first issue, will provide at least a partial road map for a country stuck in a cul-de-sac of its own making.CERTAIN FEATURES OF THE ATLANTIC have remained constant over the preceding 162 years—our commitment to publishing carefully considered narrative and strongly worded argument, for instance. Some things change periodically, though, including our design, and even our nameplate itself. This month marks the beginning of a new era for The Atlantic’s design. After much deliberation and experimentation (and trepidation), we have decided to replace our traditional cover logo—our flag—with a simple, declarative A. This dramatic new exterior look is matched by a reimagining of our interior aesthetic.Earlier this year, we asked two of the great book and magazine designers of our time, Peter Mendelsund and Oliver Munday, to serve as The Atlantic’s creative leaders. Their mandate was to rethink everything about the way we present ourselves to the world, and they immediately set out to challenge our habits and assumptions. Their first step was to immerse themselves in our archives, in order to understand the evolution of our design language across the years. Their second step was to propose a bold change to our cover nameplate. The A, they argued, is classic, confident, and iconic. We already use the A across many of our platforms—the Atlantic app shows up on smartphone home screens as an A.The redesign of our print magazine is the first phase of a redesign that will soon stretch across all of our journalism—you will shortly be seeing our new design concepts manifesting themselves on your screens, for instance.The crucial goal of the Atlantic’s renovation is to help readers better understand our words, through clarity in typeface and design, and through investment in superior photography and illustration. Peter, Oliver, and their enormously talented team commissioned our first unique typeface—we call it Atlantic Condensed—built on the typeface first used in 1857. And they have weeded away many of the interior design features that have accreted over the decades. The goal of this effort is to make The Atlantic visually arresting, classically informed, and radically modern, all at the same time. Peter, Oliver, and their design team have achieved something remarkable, I believe. I hope you will agree.This article appears in the December 2019 print edition with the headline “ A Nation Coming Apart.”
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World Edition - The Atlantic
The Enemy Within
In 1838, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech to the Young Men’s Lyceum in Springfield, Illinois. The subject was citizenship and the preservation of America’s political institutions. The backdrop was the threat posed to those institutions by the evil of slavery. Lincoln warned that the greatest danger to the nation came from within. All the armies of the world could not crush us, he maintained, but we could still “die by suicide.”To hear more feature stories, see our full list or get the Audm iPhone app. And now, today, we look around. Our politics are paralyzing the country. We practice suspicion or contempt where trust is needed, imposing a sentence of anger and loneliness on others and ourselves. We scorch our opponents with language that precludes compromise. We brush aside the possibility that a person with whom we disagree might be right. We talk about what divides us and seldom acknowledge what unites us. Meanwhile, the docket of urgent national issues continues to grow—unaddressed and, under present circumstances, impossible to address.Contending viewpoints and vocal dissent are inevitable, and not the issue. A year ago I stepped down from the best job in the world, as our secretary of defense, over a matter of principle because of grave policy differences with the administration—stating my reasons in a letter that left no room for doubt. What is dangerous is not that people have serious differences. It is the tone—the snarl, the scorn, the lacerating despair.Are we unaware of the consequences of national fracturing and disunity? Do we want to bequeath such a country to our children? Have we taught them the principles that citizens of this democracy must live by? Do we even remember those principles ourselves?Here is what we seem to have forgotten:America is not some finished work or failed project but an ongoing experiment. And it is an experiment that, by design, will never end. If parts of the machine are broken, then the responsibility of citizens is to fix the machine—not throw it away. The Founders, with their unsentimental assessment of human nature, brought forth a constitutional system robust enough to withstand great stress and yet capable of profound correction to address injustice. (The Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery. The Nineteenth Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.) The scale of the Founders’ achievement was unprecedented. Except in small pockets here and there, a democratic system such as ours had never before been tried; the Founders applied it to a nation that would soon span a continent. I think of our own document’s durable capacity when I consider the travails of the United Kingdom, which lacks a written constitution. The lesson is not that we can sit back in relief. It is that we must continue conducting the experiment.Defects are part of the human condition. In a way, this is good news. Our imperfections can—and ought to—draw us together in humility, realism, patience, and determination. No one has a monopoly on wisdom or is free from error. Everyone benefits from understanding other points of view. The foundational virtue of democracy is trust—not trust in one’s own rectitude or opinion, but trust in the capacity of collective deliberation to move us forward. That kind of trust is diminishing. About two-thirds of Americans in a recent Pew survey expressed the view that declining trust—in government, in one another—is hampering our ability to confront the country’s problems. Yet trust is not gone. It binds the military, as I’ve seen firsthand in locales as varied as Fallujah and Kandahar, Fort Bragg and Coronado. It exists, in my personal experience, among members of the Intelligence Committee in the Senate and members of the Armed Services Committees of both houses on Capitol Hill—remarkable outliers in an otherwise poisonous environment. Trust is not some weather system over which we have no control. It is a decision about conducting the nation’s business that each of us has the power to make. Building trust means listening to others rather than shutting them down. It also means looking for the right way to define a given problem—asking questions the right way so as to enlist opponents rather than provoke them. There’s a famous observation attributed to Einstein: “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” Too often we define our great national challenges—climate change, immigration, health care, guns—in a way that guarantees division into warring camps. Instead we should be asking one another: What could “better” look like?Acting wisely means acting with a time horizon not of months or years but of generations. Short-term thinking tends toward the selfish: Better get mine while I can! Long-term thinking plays to higher ideals. Thomas Jefferson’s idea of “usufruct”—in his metaphor, the responsibility to preserve fertile topsoil from landowner to landowner—embodied an obligation of stewardship and intergenerational fairness. Our Founders thought in centuries. Such thinking discourages shortsighted temptations (such as passing an immense burden of national debt onto our descendants) and encourages the effective management of intractable problems. It conditions us to take heart from the slow accretion of small improvements—the slow accretion that gave us paved roads, public schools, and electrification. I remember being a boy in Washington State and the sense of wonder I felt as bridges replaced ferries on the Columbia River. I remember my grandfather pointing out new power lines extending into our rural part of the state. I think often of the long history of nuclear-arms control. Steady diplomatic engagement with Moscow over five decades—pursued until recently—ultimately gave us an approximately three-quarters reduction in nuclear arsenals, and greater security. Here’s the not-so-secret recipe, applicable to members of Congress and community activists alike: Set a strategic goal and keep at it. Former Secretary of State George Shultz, using his own Jeffersonian metaphor, likened the effort to gardening: a continual, never-ending process of tilling, planting, and weeding.Cynicism is cowardice. We all know cynics. From time to time, we all fall prey to cynicism. But cynicism is corrosive when it saturates a society—as it has long saturated Russia’s, and as it has saturated too much of ours. Cynicism fosters a distrust of reality. It is nothing less than a form of surrender. It provokes a suspicion that hidden malign forces are at play. It instills a sense of victimhood. It may be psychically gratifying in the moment, but it solves nothing.Leadership doesn’t mean someone riding in on a white horse. We’re deluding ourselves if we think one person has all the answers. In a democracy, real leadership is slow, quiet, diplomatic, collegial, and often frustrating. I will always associate these qualities with General Colin Powell, a personal mentor who understood that to lead also means to serve. A leader, Dwight Eisenhower noted, is not someone who barks “Rise” or “Sit down.” Leadership, he said, is “the art of getting someone else to do something that you want done because he wants to do it.” And it’s a two-way street. As Eisenhower put it, one thing every leader needs is “the inspiration he gets from the people he leads.”Achieving results nationally means participating locally. The scale of the country’s challenges can seem so vast that only grand solutions offer any hope of meeting them. We give up on singles and doubles, hoping some slugger will come along and swing for the fences. This is wrong on two counts. First, the steep decline of democratic participation is itself one of our central challenges, reflecting a loss of conviction that government is actually in our hands. Only participation can solve the participation problem. Second, the impact of participation trickles up. Rosa Parks didn’t start out by taking on all of Jim Crow; she started out by taking a seat on a local bus. National efforts on the environment, health care, highways, the minimum wage, workplace safety—all got their start in one state or another. And Washington isn’t synonymous with America, anyway. Community life is sustained locally, not only through government but through a wealth of civic associations that depend on the participation of ordinary people. The president famously possesses a bully pulpit, but the impetus for change just as often comes from the pews.The “bonds of affection” Lincoln spoke about are paramount. Maybe it’s a by-product of our success as a nation that Americans take for granted what we have in common. The freedoms we enjoy. The traditions we celebrate. Our rough-and-tumble sense of humor. We need one another the most at moments of crisis, and historically we have come together at such moments—after Pearl Harbor, after 9/11. The adversity of economic depression and world war served as a crucible for an entire generation of men and women, who created and sustained a stable world for half a century. Today we are coping with the consequences of pent-up neglect and intensifying tribal warfare, not of sudden attack. But we face a crisis nonetheless. The surest path to catastrophe is to sever those bonds of affection.Our core institutions have value, even if all institutions are flawed. We live in an anti-institutional age. The favorability numbers of virtually every institution except the military are low, and dropping. (John McCain once told me that the only people who liked Congress were family members and salaried employees. His wife, Cindy, turned to him and jokingly said, “Don’t count on family members.”) For all their imperfections, institutions are the best way to transmit what is good down the corridors of time. Civilization is more fragile than one might think; during my career in the military, I saw it destroyed in front of my eyes. We need to make institutions better and stronger, not tear them down. Virulent, take-no-prisoners attacks on the media, the judiciary, labor unions, universities, teachers, scientists, civil servants—pick your target—don’t help anyone. When you tear down institutions, you tear down the scaffolding on which society is built. Allowing institutions to erode—as we have allowed our educational system to erode—is as bad as tearing them down.[Whether the American political system today can endure without fracturing further may depend on the choices of the center-right, Yoni Appelbaum writes.]I have visited schools and spoken with students. I worry not only about budget cutbacks and funding inequities but also about classroom content. A proper understanding of our national story is absent. Students come away well versed in our flaws and shortcomings. They do not come away with an understanding of our higher ideals, our manifest contributions, our revolutionary aspirations. They do not come away with an understanding of the basic principles I have outlined. Or with an appreciation of how a thoughtful and clear-eyed person can also be—and indeed must be—a patriot.Every generation since the Revolution has added to the legacy of the Founders in the endless quest to make the union “more perfect.” And every generation shoulders a responsibility to pass along our freedoms, and the wherewithal to secure and enhance them, to the next generation. Having traveled during the past few months to every corner of the country, I know that Americans in general are better—kinder, more thoughtful, more respectful—than our political leadership.But are we truly doing our duty by future generations? For too many, e pluribus unum is just a Latin phrase on the coins in their hands—not a concept with a powerful moral charge. It is hard work, building a country. In a democracy, it is noble work that all of us have to do.
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World Edition - The Atlantic
What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Abortion
Images above: An ad for Lysol that began appearing in the 1930s, and a 3-D ultrasound of a 12-week fetusIn 1956, two American physicians, J. A. Presley and W. E. Brown, colleagues at the University of Arkansas School of Medicine, decided that four recent admissions to their hospital were significant enough to warrant a published report. “Lysol-Induced Criminal Abortion” appeared in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. It describes four women who were admitted to the hospital in extreme distress, all of them having had “criminal abortions” with what the doctors believed to be an unusual agent: Lysol. The powerful cleaner had been pumped into their wombs. Three of them survived, and one of them died.To hear more feature stories, see our full list or get the Audm iPhone app. The first woman arrived at the hospital in a “hysterical state.” She was 32 years old, her husband was with her, and she was in the midst of an obvious medical crisis: Her temperature was 104 degrees, and her urine was “port-wine” colored and contained extremely high levels of albumin, indicating that her kidneys were shutting down. Her husband eventually confessed that they had gone to a doctor for an abortion two days earlier. Four hours after admission, the woman became agitated; she was put in restraints and sedated. Two hours after that, she began to breathe in the deep and ragged manner of the dying. An autopsy revealed massive necrosis of her kidneys and liver.The second woman was 28 years old and bleeding profusely from her vagina. “After considerable questioning,” she admitted that two days earlier, a substance had been injected into her womb by the same doctor who had treated the first patient. She was given a blood transfusion and antibiotics. Doctors performed a dilation and curettage, removing necrotic tissue that had a strong smell of phenol, then a main ingredient in Lysol. She survived.The third woman was 35 and had been bleeding abnormally for two weeks. She told the physicians that her doctor had given her “a prescription for medicine,” but she denied having had an abortion. She was given a blood transfusion and antibiotics, but did not improve. Her pelvic discharge smelled strongly of phenol. She was given a D and C, and a placenta was removed. She recovered.The fourth patient was 18 years old and had come to the hospital because of unusual bleeding, cramping, and “a loss of water through the vagina”—probably the beginning of labor, brought on by an abortion. Shortly after being admitted, she spontaneously aborted a four-and-a-half month fetus. Phenol was found in both the fetal and placental tissue. The girl recovered.I have read many accounts of complications and deaths from the years when abortion was illegal in this country. The subject has always compelled me, because my mother told me many times that when she was a young nurse at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, she had twice sat beside girls as they died from botched abortions. Both girls were interviewed by detectives, who demanded to know the abortionists’ names, but both refused to reveal them. “They were too terrified,” my mother always said. The Arkansas cases contain strikingly consistent aspects of such reports: The women seem to have waited a long time before getting help, and they tried not to admit they’d had abortions, hoping they could be treated without telling the truth. Abortionists—to use the term of that era—typically extracted three promises from the women who sought them out: They must keep the procedure a secret; they must never reveal the abortionist’s name; and no matter what happened to them afterward, they must never contact him or her again.What surprised me about the Arkansas doctors’ account was their confidence that while “the methods and drugs used in performing criminal abortions are legion,” Lysol was “one of the more rare abortifacients.” To the contrary, Lysol was commonly used in abortions. This was a fact that millions of women knew via the oldest whisper network in the country, but that physicians—almost all of them male—would discover slowly, leaving behind a bread-crumb trail of reports like this one: based on recent admissions, and available only to other doctors who happened to pick up a particular issue of a particular journal.In addition to medical reports, we find evidence of Lysol abortions in personal accounts—the actor Margot Kidder, for example, spoke powerfully about hers—and in testimony from criminal proceedings. Court records from 1946, for instance, tell the story of a 16-year-old California girl named Rebecca, who moved in with her sister-in-law to hide her pregnancy and to get an abortion. A local woman named Sophie agreed to perform it. She made a mixture of boiling water, Lysol, and soap; injected the hot fluid into Rebecca’s uterus; and told her to walk around for two hours. In the middle of the night, the girl began having cramps that wouldn’t let up; she delivered a “well-formed, eight-inch fetus,” which her sister, Rayette, buried. Sophie returned the next day to collect the balance of her $25 fee. The girl was in distress but was given only aspirin. By that night, her symptoms had become intolerable, and Rayette brought her to the hospital. Sophie was later convicted and sent to prison; it’s unclear whether Rebecca survived.[From May 2007: Caitlin Flanagan on abortion and the bloodiness of being female]By the 1960s, doctors seemed to have realized that Lysol was in fact a commonly used abortifacient, one with particular dangers. In 1961, Dr. Karl Finzer of Buffalo, New York, published a paper in the Canadian Medical Association Journal titled “Lower Nephron Nephrosis Due to Concentrated Lysol Vaginal Douches.” He described two cases. One of the women died; the other survived. In 1969, two physicians, Robert H. Bartlett and Clement Yahia, published a paper in The New England Journal of Medicine titled “Management of Septic Chemical Abortion With Renal Failure.” It included five case histories of women who had attempted abortions, two with Lysol. The doctors estimated that 200,000 to 1 million criminal abortions took place each year in America, and that in many parts of the country abortion was a leading cause of maternal death. Overall mortality for patients who had become septic from botched abortions and were admitted to a hospital was 11 to 22 percent, but for those whose abortions had been induced with soap or Lysol, the mortality rate was reportedly an astounding 50 to 66 percent. “These young women,” the authors reported dispassionately, “are all potentially salvageable.”We will never know how many women had abortions via this method, or how many died because of it. Why was Lysol, with its strong, unpleasant smell and its corrosive effect on skin, so often used? Because its early formulation contained cresol, a phenol compound that induced abortion; because it was easily available, a household product that aroused no suspicion when women bought it; and because for more than three decades, Lysol advertised the product as an effective form of birth control, advising women to douche with it in diluted form after sex, thus powerfully linking the product to the notion of family planning.In a seemingly endless series of advertisements published from the ’20s through the ’50s, the Lysol company told the same story over and over again: One woman or another had “neglected her feminine hygiene” and thereby rendered herself odious to her husband, leaving her “held in a web of indifference” and introducing “doubt” and “inhibitions” into their intimate life. It was illegal to advertise contraception nationally before 1977, so the Lysol ads performed a coy bit of misdirection—they said that if women didn’t douche after sex, they would lose their “dainty,” or “feminine,” or “youthful” appeal. The implication was that sex made them stink, which revolted their husbands. However, women in the past knew what women of the present know: Having sex doesn’t make a woman stink, and the only necessary items for keeping clean are soap and water.Read with this in mind, the ads appear rife with coded references to the idea of contraception. One woman’s doctor has told her “never to run such careless risks” and prescribed Lysol. Another is told by her doctor that failing to douche with Lysol could “lead to serious consequences.” Many of the ads stress that Lysol works “even in the presence of mucous matter,” a possible reference to the by-products of intercourse; some promote the fact that it “leaves no greasy aftereffect,” probably a reference to the vaginal jellies that some women used as birth control.A doctor tells one woman, “It’s foolish to risk your marriage happiness by being careless about feminine hygiene—even once!” This is the language of contraception: something that must be used every single time, that can lead to serious repercussions if skipped even once, that one should never be careless about. The “doubts” introduced to the marital lovemaking, and the “inhibitions,” are not the result of stink; they are the outcome of there being no reliable form of birth control and the constant anxiety that sex could result in an unwanted pregnancy.There are dozens of these ads on the internet, where they forever shock young feminists. I’ve seen so many of them that I thought I knew all of their tropes and euphemisms. But this summer I came across one that stopped me cold. It was a simple image of a very particular kind of female suffering. The woman in this ad was not caught in a web of indifference; she was not relieved because she had been prescribed Lysol by her doctor. The woman in this image has been “careless”; she is facing the “serious consequences.”In a single panel, we see a line drawing of the kind of middle-class white housewife who was a staple of postwar advertising, although invariably the products she was selling were of use and of interest to women of all socioeconomic classes and all races—this product in particular. Her hair is brushed and shining, her nails are manicured, and she wears a wedding ring. But her head is buried in her hands, and behind her loom the pages of a giant calendar. Over her bowed head, in neat Palmer-method handwriting, is a single sentence: “I just can’t face it again.”There’s a whole world in that sentence. To be a woman is to bear the entire consequence of sex. And here is one woman bearing that consequence: a married woman—probably with other children, for this is a matter of “again”—who for whatever reason is at her breaking point.What could make a married woman living during the great postwar Baby Boom unable to face one more pregnancy? Start making a list of the possible reasons, and you might never stop. Maybe she’d had terrible pregnancies and traumatic births and she couldn’t go through another one. Maybe she had suffered terribly from postpartum depression, and she’d just gotten past it. Maybe her husband was an angry or violent man; maybe he had a tendency to blame her when she got pregnant. Maybe she had finally reached the point in her life when her youngest was in school and she had a few blessed hours to herself each day, when she could sit in the quiet of her house and have a cup of coffee and get her thoughts together. And maybe—just maybe—she was a woman who knew her own mind and her own life, and who knew very well when something was too much for her to bear.[From August 1965: An anonymous married woman describes terminating an unwanted pregnancy]The fictional woman with her head in her hands made me think of a real woman who died as a result of using Lysol to control her fertility: the 32-year-old woman in the Arkansas report whose husband took her to the hospital, where she soon died. Given the era and given that she was 32, there’s a fair chance that the couple had been married for at least a few years; there’s also a pretty good chance they already had children. For whatever reason, she just couldn’t face it again. She tried to do something to save herself—because when you can’t face something, there is no other choice. And she paid for it with her life.The first time I saw one of the new 3-D ultrasounds of a fetus in utero, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was looking at. It wasn’t anything like the black-and-white images I was used to seeing. It looked otherworldly, like we’d finally made contact with a planet we’ve always wanted to reach. In part it was the color, that glowing shade of amber that doesn’t suggest anything medical or technological. It calls to mind something almost ancient, something that suggests the beginning of all things. It reminded me, both in color and somehow in meaning, of the earliest photographs of the bog people of Northern Europe, a phenomenon that had absorbed my attention when I was very young. Those ancient and particular faces, those people you could easily have picked out of a crowd, buried deep in the peat for more than 2,000 years, keeping their secrets, slumbering. When farmers cutting turf began discovering them in the 1950s, they were so perfectly preserved that the men assumed they had uncovered the remains of very recent murder victims, not the bodies of people who had lived before the time of Christ. And that was the shocking thing about the bog people: They were so clearly like us, so obviously human and individual.These sonograms are so richly detailed that many expectant mothers pay to have one made in a shopping-mall studio, much in the spirit in which they might bring the baby to a portrait studio. They are one thing and one thing only: baby pictures. Had they been available when I was pregnant, I would definitely have wanted one. When you’re pregnant, you are desperate to make contact. You know he’s real because of the changes in your own body; eventually you start to feel his. The first kicks are startling and exciting, but even once they progress so far that you can see an actual foot glancing across your belly and then disappearing again, he’s still a mystery, still engaged in his private work, floating in the aquatic chamber within you, more in touch with the forces that brought him here than with life as it is lived on the other side.For a long time, these images made me anxious. They are proof that what grows within a pregnant woman’s body is a human being, living and unfolding according to a timetable that has existed as long as we have. Obviously, it would take a profound act of violence to remove him from his quiet world and destroy him.“Most abortions happen in the first trimester,” a very smart and very kind friend reassured me. I didn’t need to worry about those detailed images of babies—by the time they had grown to such recognizably human proportions, most of them were well past the stage of development in which the majority of abortions take place. And I held on to that comforting piece of information, until it occurred to me to look at one of those images taken at the end of the first trimester. I often wish I hadn’t.A picture of a 12-week fetus is a Rorschach test. Some people say that such an image doesn’t trouble them, that the fetus suggests the possibility of a developed baby but is far too removed from one to give them pause. I envy them. When I see that image, I have the opposite reaction. I think: Here is one of us; here is a baby. She has fingers and toes by now, eyelids and ears. She can hiccup—that tiny, chest-quaking motion that all parents know. Most fearfully, she is starting to get a distinct profile, her one and only face emerging. Each of these 12-week fetuses bears its own particular code: this one bound to be good at music; that one destined for a life of impatience, of tap, tap, tapping his pencil on the desk, waiting for recess.What I can’t face about abortion is the reality of it: that these are human beings, the most vulnerable among us, and we have no care for them. How terrible to know that in the space of an hour, a baby could be alive—his heart beating, his kidneys creating the urine that becomes the amniotic fluid of his safe home—and then be dead, his heart stopped, his body soon to be discarded.The argument for abortion, if made honestly, requires many words: It must evoke the recent past, the dire consequences to women of making a very simple medical procedure illegal. The argument against it doesn’t take even a single word. The argument against it is a picture.This is not an argument anyone is going to win. The loudest advocates on both sides are terrible representatives for their cause. When women are urged to “shout your abortion,” and when abortion becomes the subject of stand-up comedy routines, the attitude toward abortion seems ghoulish. Who could possibly be proud that they see no humanity at all in the images that science has made so painfully clear? When anti-abortion advocates speak in the most graphic terms about women “sucking babies out of the womb,” they show themselves without mercy. They are not considering the extremely human, complex, and often heartbreaking reasons behind women’s private decisions. The truth is that the best argument on each side is a damn good one, and until you acknowledge that fact, you aren’t speaking or even thinking honestly about the issue. You certainly aren’t going to convince anybody. Only the truth has the power to move.[Margaret Atwood’s work makes clear that bearing witness is a crucial step toward liberation in times of crisis, Sophie Gilbert writes. But witness-bearers—often women, in her books—shouldn’t mistake themselves for heroes, or hope to be heralded as such.]And here is one truth: No matter what the law says, women will continue to get abortions. How do I know? Because in the relatively recent past, women would allow strangers to brutalize them, to poke knitting needles and wire hangers into their wombs, to thread catheters through their cervices and fill them with Lysol, or scalding-hot water, or lye. Women have been willing to risk death to get an abortion. When we made abortion legal, we decided we weren’t going to let that happen anymore. We were not going to let one more woman arrive at a hospital with her organs rotting inside of her. We accepted that we might lose that growing baby, but we were not also going to lose that woman.I thought about many women while I was writing this essay. The two girls my mother had watched die, all the women who endured Lysol abortions. But I also thought about a man: the husband of that 32-year-old woman who died in Arkansas, so long ago. It was an act of courage—a rare one—for him to bring her in himself, and to stay with her. Both of them had conspired in a criminal activity. How can we calculate that man’s misery? Imagine him sitting in the hospital waiting room, an obscene pantomime of the times he had likely sat in a very different kind of waiting room, as his children were being born. Imagine the disdain with which he would have been regarded by many of the nurses and doctors. It would have been impossible, during those wretched hours, to try to explain to them that his wife had said she just couldn’t face it again, and that he had tried to help her. At some point he would have been told that she was gone and also that there would have to be an autopsy. And then, when nothing else was left to do, no other form to sign and no other question to answer, imagine him getting in the car and making the terrible drive back to his house so that he could tell his children that their mother was never coming home again.This article appears in the December 2019 print edition with the headline “The Things We Can’t Face.”
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World Edition - The Atlantic
The Commons
When the Culture War Comes for the KidsIn October, George Packer wrote about his attempt to do right by his children while navigating New York City’s schools, caught between a brutal meritocracy and a radical new progressivism.As public-school principals in Brooklyn, we feel obligated to correct George Packer’s mischaracterization of the educational approach used in New York City schools.We run our schools with one goal in mind: excellence and high achievement for every student. This—not a pledge to a particular political orthodoxy—is the motivation behind the intense investment of time and energy we put into our kids. Research shows that students achieve more at integrated schools—and we know integration works, because we see it working in our schools.Despite Mr. Packer’s assertions, we are not “getting rid of objective standards.” On the contrary, we are crystal clear about the educational heights we expect our students to reach, and we are committed to giving each of them what they need to get there. That will necessarily look different for every student, and we take on that challenge every single day.Anna Allanbrook,Principal, P.S. 146Michael Perlberg,Principal, M.S. 839Arin Rusch,Principal, M.S. 447Brooklyn, N.Y.Concerns about “meritocracy,” cited in George Packer’s essay, were what motivated us and hundreds of other parents in his Brooklyn school district to meet regularly over a period of six months to transform our racially separate and unequal middle schools.We were persuaded by troves of research, produced over decades, showing that equity and excellence are not mutually exclusive—they reinforce each other, as we have experienced with our own children. We were also driven by values that would not allow us to accept that neighbors in our supposedly progressive community would continue to be sorted by race.Undoing the injustices of racism and segregation has never been—and will never be—accomplished without conflict and hurt feelings on the part of long-privileged groups. But as the many schools nationwide that have persevered through those transitions demonstrate, students across the socioeconomic spectrum all ultimately benefit. Packer may feel that he lost in the demographic process, but perhaps he should expand his notion of what it means to win—and reconsider his assumptions about what makes an excellent school.Carrie McLaren,Coalition for Equitable SchoolsReyhan Mehran,Parents for Middle School EquityBrooklyn, N.Y.I’m a biracial father of a 2-year-old child who will probably be defined by society as white. I’m a liberal person and someone who has a lifetime of experience with the complexities of race. The identity politics of the current liberalism scare me, and the fact that they’re the only plausible alternative to Donald Trump’s fearmongering kleptocracy scares me even more. I feel the author’s pain—there’s no right place for liberals who still find value in the views of others and are actually open-minded in the broadest sense. Liberal identity politics come from a deep and meaningful place, but their current incarnation is a caricature of what they should be.Nate HoltonMilwaukee, Wis.The issues Packer sees in his kids’ NYC schools are present all over the nation, certainly here in Minnesota, which has one of the biggest divides in the nation between the test scores of students of color and those of their white counterparts. My own kids received an excellent education in their large public school district, which has gradually (and since 2016 more intensely) become politicized.There is still dedication and passion in teaching. The changes Packer notes are profound, though, and much of what we grew up learning and want our kids to know will not come back, at least not in the form we recognize.Janet HaHopkins, Minn.George Packer replies:I don’t know why Carrie McLaren and Reyhan Mehran write that I feel I “lost in the demographic process.” As my essay said, I support our district’s integration plan. This year I’m volunteering time in our son’s middle school to try to help make it a success. What I criticized was the plan’s indifference to the difficulties of academically mixed classrooms, and an intolerant ideology that answers good-faith criticism with a phrase like “hurt feelings on the part of long-privileged groups.”Behind the CoverIn choosing a symbol to represent this issue and inaugurate the magazine’s redesign, we wanted something striking and metaphorically rich: A bloody hand. The contours of a (fractured) nation. The universal symbol for “Stop!” A body divided against itself. The photographer Sam Kaplan, the stylist Brian Byrne, and their teams captured the hand’s porous colors—every smudge and glint—in vivid detail, and in doing so helped us construct an apt emblem for the political fractiousness and general chaos of the current moment.Peter Mendelsund, Creative Director Oliver Munday, Senior Art DirectorThe FactsWhat we learned fact-checking this issueThis month, Tom Junod writes about his transformative friendship with Fred Rogers, the inspiration for a new film starring Tom Hanks. Junod recently recovered emails from the cardigan-wearing minister—they corresponded regularly from 1998, when Junod profiled Rogers for Esquire, until 2003, when Rogers died—and shared them for fact-checking purposes.In 1999, Junod was assigned to write about the 11-year-old rapper Lil’ Bow Wow, and sought Rogers’s advice. What should he ask the boy—who, at age 6, had been handed his stage name by Snoop Dogg and had appeared in the music video for “Gin and Juice”? Rogers replied: “Does he have any friend(s) with whom he can share his times of sadness and fear (everybody has those you know)? … Does he have anything that gives him comfort when he goes to sleep? Could you tell him what it was like for you when you were 11?”In his article about the tween, Junod mentions that he and Lil’ Bow Wow played hide-and-seek together. “How lovely,” Rogers wrote. “There’s [a child] in everybody, but B.W. gave you the invitation of ‘Seeking’ his out.”Stephanie Hayes, Associate EditorQ & AIn the October issue, McKay Coppins wrote about the battle between Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. to succeed their father and rule the MAGA empire. Here, Coppins answers questions sent in by readers.Q: What surprised you most as you reported this story?A: I was amazed to learn how much Friedrich Trump—a German immigrant, enterprising brothel owner, and alleged draft dodger—had in common with his grandson serving in the Oval Office. The way a family ethos can be passed down through generations fascinates me.Q: Elevating family members and friends to high offices or unelected advisory roles is in fact a norm from past presidencies rather than an unusual feature of the Trump administration, as you observe. Going forward, what could be done to prevent the executive branch from engaging in this kind of cronyism?A: An anti-nepotism law is already on the books that prohibits the president from giving jobs in federal agencies to family members. By appointing Ivanka and her husband, Jared, to the White House staff, Donald Trump exploited a loophole that many Democrats argue should be closed.That said, it’s probably not possible to completely eliminate the influence of unelected relatives. That’s why I think the adult members of any first family should be subjected to the kind of rigorous scrutiny we tried to apply with this story.Q: Was it hard to get people close to the Trump family to talk with you? What were their motives and fears?A: Sources were understandably anxious about sharing the details of an intrafamily power struggle that the Trumps had no interest in publicizing. What I found, though, was that the more one faction cooperated with me, the more compelled others felt to talk. Don Jr.’s allies didn’t want their side of the story left out, and neither did Ivanka’s. It took several months and dozens of interviews, but over time, I was able to get a complete picture of this very unusual family.Correction: “What Happened to Aung San Suu Kyi?” (September) incorrectly identified Aung Zaw as one of Suu Kyi’s student bodyguards in 1988. Aung Zaw was a student activist at the time.
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