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Is Health Care a Right?

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Is health care a right? The United States remains the only developed country in the world unable to come to agreement on an answer. Earlier this year, I was visiting Athens, Ohio, the town in the Appalachian foothills where I grew up. The battle over whether to repeal, replace, or repair the Affordable Care Act raged then, as it continues to rage now. So I began asking people whether they thought that health care was a right. The responses were always interesting. A friend had put me in touch with a forty-seven-year-old woman I’ll call Maria Dutton. She lived with her husband, Joe, down a long gravel drivew... Read More
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The Strange Tectonic Coincidence of Mexico’s September Earthquakes

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In 1325, the Aztecs, until then a nomadic people, chose the site of their capital, Tenochtitlan, based on a prophecy that the location would be marked by an eagle eating a snake while perched on a cactus. That the cactus in question happened to sit on an island in a mucky lake did not, apparently, deter them from seeing it as a divine revelation; they went ahead and built a great city with grand temples and market squares on a tiny patch of land in a swamp. That metropolis is now Mexico City. The cruel coincidence of there being a large earthquake in Mexico City... Read More
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Why the Last Snow on Earth May Be Red

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Every spring, in alpine regions around the world, one of Earth’s tiniest migrations takes place. The migrants are single-celled green algae; they are kin to seaweed, but instead of living in the sea they live in snow. (Snow weed, maybe?) They spend the winter deep in the snowpack, atop last summer’s snow, as dormant cysts. In the spring, they wake and swim up through the trickle of snowmelt to the surface, dividing and photosynthesizing as they go. Then, at the top, they turn red. This creates what scientists call pink snow or watermelon snow—drifts and glaciers that look like Slush Puppies and eventually reduce to rivulets of crimson. The color comes from astaxanthin, a molecular cousin... Read More
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How Toys R Us Succumbed to Its Nasty Debt Problem

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In 1948, a young and ambitious man named Charles Lazarus took over his father’s Washington, D.C., bicycle shop. Lazarus tried selling children’s furniture, but he soon changed to toys, as he later told the New York Times, “after realizing that toys broke and had to be replaced.” In 1957, he opened the first of his stores using the Toys R Us name. Less than a decade later, Lazarus sold his four toy stores to Interstate Department Stores, which had aspirations to become one of the largest toy merchants in the United States; Lazarus stayed on to r... Read More
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Remembering Lotfi Zadeh, the Inventor of Fuzzy Logic

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One night in July, 1964, the logician Lotfi Zadeh found himself alone in his parents’ New York apartment, his dinner plans cancelled. At the time, Zadeh later wrote, he was doing “a lot of thinking about basic issues in systems analysis, especially the issue of unsharpness of class boundaries”—that is, the failure of things in the physical world to conform to classical Boolean logic, the true-or-false, black-or-white, zero-or-one mathematics that underpins much of computer science. “It was at that point that the simple concept of a fuzzy set occurred to me,” Zadeh recalled. ... Read More
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The World’s Greenest Sports Team Is a Century-Old Football Club in a Tiny English Town

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When Dale Vince became the chairman of Forest Green Rovers, a hundred-and-twenty-eight-year-old club in English soccer’s fourth tier, in the autumn of 2010, one of the first problems that he set out to fix was on the menu. The club was serving meat lasagna to the players, a practice that, Vince says, conflicted with the team’s values. “I saw that and realized that made us part of the meat trade,” he told me. He added, “We agreed on the spot that we’d take red meat off the menu. Then we began to express our values into the club in all respects. That began the journey.” Soon, the front office did away with white meat and fish for players, staff, and fans alike. Eventually, Vince, who is fifty-six, and can f... Read More
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Money, Power, and Deer Urine

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Elam Lapp, Jr., like many Amish people, always wanted to be a farmer, but he knew it was a difficult way to make money. Before the nineteen-seventies, most Amish made their living farming; today, fewer than ten per cent do. Lapp has twelve siblings, none of whom went into the business. But Lapp—a friend of mine, and a man with an easy, self-deprecating sense of humor and the short beard of a newly married Amishman—came across a solution: he would farm deer. Deer farming doesn’t require as much acreage as cows or crops, and there’s little need for technology. All you have to do is throw up some fences, get pregnant does, and buy feed (the deer like beans and corn). There are roughly ten thousand deer farms in North America, and so... Read More
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Saying Goodbye to Cassini, the NASA Mission That Transformed Our Understanding of the Solar System

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Spacecraft do not rust. Some merely fade away, like Voyagers 1 and 2, which, four decades after their launch, have departed the solar system and are now drifting into the wider cosmos, quite possibly for eternity. Many others, though, end their journeys abruptly and, often enough, intentionally. In 2003, NASA steered its Galileo probe, which had faithfully surveyed the Jovian system for years, into Jupiter’... Read More
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The A.I. “Gaydar” Study and the Real Dangers of Big Data

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Every face does not tell a story; it tells thousands of them. Over evolutionary time, the human brain has become an exceptional reader of the human face—computerlike, we like to think. A viewer instinctively knows the difference between a real smile and a fake one. In July, a Canadian study reported that college students can reliably tell if people are richer or poorer than average simply by looking at their expressionless faces. Scotland Yard employs a team of “... Read More
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The Nightmare Faces of Apple Engineering and Cindy Sherman’s Instagram

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Philip Schiller announcing the Apple iPhone X’s “Face I.D.” feature against a backdrop of human visages on Tuesday, in Cupertino, California. Photograph by Justin Sullivan / Getty On Tuesday, in Cupertino, California, Apple announced its ... Read More
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Washington State’s Great Salmon Spill and the Environmental Perils of Fish Farming

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Just after the thrill of the total solar eclipse, a troubling nature story emerged from northwestern Washington State. On August 22nd, Cooke Aquaculture, a multibillion-dollar seafood company, reported that, three days earlier, extreme tides coinciding with the eclipse had torn apart its enormous salmon farm off Cypress Island, a teal idyll near the college town of Bellingham. More than three hundred thousand non-native Atlantic salmon, housed in a steel underwater pen, were at risk of escape. Tens of thousands of the fish had already spilled into Puget Sound, and some had begun to instinctively swim upstream, t... Read More
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Our Weather-Prediction Models Keep Getting Better, and Hurricane Irma Is the Proof

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By Wednesday of last week, even as Tropical Storm Harvey continued to rain devastation on the Gulf Coast, a new storm, Irma, was taking shape in the eastern Atlantic. Within thirty-six hours, it had morphed into a Category 3 hurricane. Then it seemed to hesitate momentarily, as if to gather itself. “Irma has begun a cycle of reorganization called an eye-wall replacement,” the Weather Channel reported on Friday. This brought to mind something like a home-renovation project, but in practice the replacement cycle is more like mounting a Formula One engine in a Corvette. The eye of a hurrican... Read More
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The iPhone X and Apple’s Mundane Vision of the Future

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“Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything,” Steve Jobs said a decade ago. “Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone.” Standing onstage at the 2007 MacWorld Expo, in San Francisco, arrayed in his usual vestments—bluejeans, black turtleneck, gray New Balances—Jobs was proclaiming a modern gospel. Provided you had five hundred bucks lying around, you could proclaim it, too. By 2008, the company formerly known as Apple Computer, now just as Apple, had attracted millions of new adherents. At the Worldwide Developers Conference that June, Jobs introduced the iPhone 3G. The 3GS followed, in 2009, and soon the good news was coming more than once a year—iPad, iPad 2, iP... Read More
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Is Zika Gone for Good?

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While spraying to eradicate mosquito-breeding sites may have contributed to Zika’s demise, it likely wasn’t sufficient to account for the precipitous decline in cases this year. Photograph by Scott McIntyre / NYT / Redux... Read More
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Hurricane Harvey and the Storms to Come

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On August 29, 2005, at six-ten in the morning, Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the border of Mississippi and Louisiana, just east of New Orleans. Katrina had spent days wobbling over the Gulf of Mexico, and by the time it reached the coast it was classified as a strong Category 3 storm. As it pressed inland, its winds, which were clocked at up to a hundred and twenty-five miles an hour, pushed water from the Gulf westward into Lake Pontchartrain, and north, up a mostly abandoned shipping canal. The levees that were supposed to protect New Orleans failed, and low-lying neighborhoods were inundated. That day in Louisiana, at least six hundred and fifty people died. Katrina was widely describe... Read More
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Cancer’s Invasion Equation

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Over the summer of 2011, the water in Lake Michigan turned crystal clear. Shafts of angled light lit the lake bed, like searchlights from a U.F.O.; later, old sunken ships came into view from above. Pleasure was soon replaced by panic: lakes are not supposed to look like swimming pools. When biologists investigated, they found that the turbid swirls of plankton that typically grow in the lake by the million had nearly vanished—consumed gradually, they could only guess, by some ravenous organism. The likely culprits were mollusks: the zebra mussel and its cousin the quagga mussel. The two species—Dreissena polymorpha and Dreissena bugensis—are thought to have ... Read More
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How the Dollar Stays Dominant

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The factory that makes the paper for U.S. currency smells like a clean barn just supplied with fresh hay. Built in the eighteen-seventies, in Dalton, Massachusetts, it runs today, as it did then, on the power of the adjacent Housatonic River. The scent emanates from the centerpiece of the mill, a giant, elevated iron sphere larger than a house. Tons of raw cotton and linen are poured in at the top, along with water, and the sphere is heated and spun like a washing machine to break up the fibres, which are run through the paper-making machinery at another, slightly younger plant down the road. It’s in that plant that this nineteenth-century product is outfitted with the latest technology. The hundred-dollar bill, for example, is ... Read More
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What Will Be Preet Bharara’s Legacy?

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When the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the conviction of Mathew Martoma yesterday, Preet Bharara might have breathed a sigh of relief. As the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2009 until this past March, when President Trump fired him, Bharara led a crackdown on insider trading. Martoma, a former S.A.C. Capital portfolio manager, represents one of Bharara’s standout successes: one of the largest insider-trading cases the government has ever brought, involving an alleged two hundred and seventy-five million dollars i... Read More
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St. Louis’s First Total Solar Eclipse Since 1442

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By 10:30 A.M., the heat index had already crept above ninety degrees. Somehow, though, the Abraham Lincoln impersonator was barely glowing in his three-piece suit and top hat as he mingled with the crowd at Jefferson Barracks Park, in south St. Louis. According to Steve Stenger, the county executive, more than four thousand people had gathered for this, the official Great American Total Solar Eclipse viewing party for St. Louis County, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the path of totality. “This will be my first total solar eclipse,” Lincoln told me, bemoaning the fact that he had been in the wrong place to see both the annular eclipse of 1831, on his twenty-second birthday, and the dramati... Read More
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Watch Our Live Stream of the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

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This live stream will run from 11:30 A.M. to 4:15 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time on Monday, August 21st, tracking the total solar eclipse from coast to coast. It is provided by Slooh, a service that allows users to patch into and personally control online telescopes around the world. The live stream will be hosted from the Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch by Gerard Monteux, a former s... Read More
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Who Owns the Internet?

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On the night of November 7, 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes’s wife, Lucy, took to her bed with a headache. The returns from the Presidential election were trickling in, and the Hayeses, who had been spending the evening in their parlor, in Columbus, Ohio, were dismayed. Hayes himself remained up until midnight; then he, too, retired, convinced that his Democratic opponent, Samuel J. Tilden, would become the next President. Hayes had indeed lost the popular vote, by more than two hundred and fifty thousand ballots. And he might have lost the Electoral College as well had it not been for the machinations of journalists working in the shady corners of what’s been called “the Victorian ... Read More
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The Total Solar Eclipse We Deserve

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When Monday’s total solar eclipse gets under way, tracing an arc of temporary night across the nation, it will come as a profound relief. “Mr. Trump Makes a Spectacle of Himself,” ran the headline on a Times editorial earlier this week; only a greater spectacle, generated by some larger and far more marvellous force, might allow us to briefly look away. The eclipse fits our historical moment disconcertingly well. It will be American from beginning to end. It starts over the Pacific Ocean at around dawn; becomes visible in Oregon at around nine ... Read More
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Piercing the Veil of Secrecy Shrouding the Trump Deal in the Republic of Georgia

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There is no single global repository listing every company and its owners, though it’s usually not hard to find out where a company is based and legally registered. But that wasn’t the case with the Silk Road Group, a mysterious holding company that set out, several years ago, to build a Trump Tower in the Republic of Georgia. I stopped thinking of it as a single firm but, rather, as a diffuse container holding at least several dozen corporate entities who, legally, at least, were registered in different countries around the world and had uncertain r... Read More
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For New York’s Teen Ecologists, Even the Cemetery Is a Laboratory

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On a recent Friday morning, a few feet from Abby C. Bradbury’s tombstone in Green-Wood Cemetery, two young women struggled to attach a hand-size black box to an Eastern redbud. They aimed the device—a motion-sensitive digital camera with a fifty-metre range, set inside a waterproof casing—at a field lined with privet hedges. Grackles called in the intermittent rain as irritable drivers pounded their horns along Brooklyn’s Fifth Avenue. The box kept slipping down the slight tree’s trunk. A cemetery patrol car pulled up. “Can I be nosy? What is that?” the guard asked. “A camera trap,” Nzinga Stewart, an undergraduate at Fordham University, replied. “For what?” “For tracking small mammals,... Read More
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What the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Will Feel Like, for Humans and Animals

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A week from today, in a roughly seventy-mile-wide arc stretching from Oregon to South Carolina, the sun will disappear from the sky. It will be the first total solar eclipse to cross the United States in ninety-nine years, and the first to be visible only in this country since before it was a country. Millions of eclipse chasers will soon set up camp—in Chilly, Idaho; and Hazard, Nebraska; and Sweetwater, Tennessee—to await the moment that astronomers call totality. As they gaze through telescopes and pinhole cameras and ... Read More
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Trump’s Business of Corruption

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President Donald Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow recently told me that the investigation being led by Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed by the Justice Department, should focus on one question: whether there was “coördination between the Russian government and people on the Trump campaign.” Sekulow went on, “I want to be really specific. A real-estate deal would be outside the scope of legitimate inquiry.” If he senses “drift” in Mueller’s investigation, he said, he will warn the special counsel’s office that it is exceeding its mandate. The issue will first be raised “informally,” he noted. But if Mueller and his team persist, Sekulow said, he might lodge a ... Read More
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How Silicon Valley’s Workplace Culture Produced James Damore’s Google Memo

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Last week, a software engineer at Google, James Damore, posted a ten-page memo, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” to an internal company network. Citing a range of psychological studies, Wikipedia entries, and media articles on “our culture of shaming and misrepresentation,” Damore argued that women are underrepresented in the tech industry largely because of their innate biological differences from men—their “stronger interest in people rather than things,” their propensity for “neuroticism,” their “higher levels of anxiety.” Damore critic... Read More
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A Tiny Parasite Could Save Darwin’s Finches from Extinction

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Five years ago, George Heimpel, an entomologist at the University of Minnesota, travelled to Trinidad in search of insect larvae. He was after several kinds in particular—Philornis downsi, a fly whose parasitic young feed on the hatchlings of tropical birds, and various minuscule wasp species whose own offspring feed on those of the fly. Heimpel hoped that the wasps might solve a problem on the Galápagos Islands, where Philornis has taken a severe toll on native fowl. Those hurt most by the fly, which was likely brought to the archipelago by people, are the Galápagos finches, the songbirds that provided Charles Darwin with some of the earliest evidence of evolution. Currently, eleven of the fourteen finch species ar... Read More
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The Difficult Voyage of Martin Shkreli, the Pharma Bro, Comes to an End

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As the deliberations in the Martin Shkreli trial dragged into their fifth day, the possibility that he could end up facing a deadlocked jury, or even an acquittal, started to seem increasingly real. So did the potential for yet another embarrassing setback for the government when it comes to prosecuting white-collar crime. Instead, on Friday afternoon, in Brooklyn, the jury delivered a victory, of sorts, to the government, finding Shkreli guilty on three of the eight counts with which he’d been charged—including the two most serious ones, of securities fraud. After the verdict was read, Shkre... Read More
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An Ancient Lunchbox Emerges from the Ice

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In the past century, the glaciers and ice fields of the European Alps have lost half their volume to global warming, and their continued retreat, like that of glaciers everywhere in the world, is accelerating. By 2100, many scientists predict, they will have all but disappeared. The meltdown has already disrupted the region’s sensitive mountain ecosystems and tourist resorts—some local communities have taken to laying protective white blankets over the snow and ice—but it has also opened up new avenues of scientific inquiry. As the glaciers recede, they are releasing some of the human artifacts that they have absorbed through the ages, including humans themselves. ... Read More
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D.I.Y. Artificial Intelligence Comes to a Japanese Family Farm

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Not much about Makoto Koike’s adult life suggests that he would be a farmer. Trained as an engineer, he spent most of his career in a busy urban section of Aichi Prefecture, Japan, near the headquarters of the Toyota Motor Corporation, writing software to control cars. Koike’s longtime hobby is tinkering with electronic kits and machines; he is not naturally an outdoorsy type. Yet, in 2014, at the age of thirty-three, he left his job and city life to move to his parents’ cucumber farm, in the greener prefecture of Shizuoka. “I thought I was getting old,” Koike told me. “I wanted to be close to my home and my family.” The Koikes have been growing cucumbers in Kosai, a town wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the brac... Read More
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A Summer School for Mathematicians Fed Up with Gerrymandering

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On a late-spring evening in Boston, just as the sun was beginning to set, a group of mathematicians lingered over the remains of the dinner they had just shared. While some cleared plates from the table, others started transforming skewers and hunks of raw potato into wobbly geodesic forms. Justin Solomon, an assistant professor at M.I.T., lunged forward to keep his structure from collapsing. “That’s five years of Pixar right there,” he joked. (Solomon worked at the animation studio before moving to academia.) He and his collaborators were unwinding after a long day making preparations for a new program at Tufts University—a summer school at which mathematicians, along with data analysts, legal scholars, school... Read More
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The Trump Administration Rolls Back Anti-Corruption Efforts in the Oil Industry

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In February, in one of its first acts of lawmaking, the Trump Administration, with the Republican-controlled Congress, rescinded a pending Securities and Exchange Commission rule that would have required oil companies to disclose details of their payments to international governments in connection with oil and gas production. The rule, which was mandated by a law co-sponsored by former Republican Senator Richard Lugar, of Indiana, and Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, of Maryland, was designed to combat bribery and corruption, especially in poor countries governed by kleptocrats. Thirty other countries, including Canada and the members of the European Union, had already adopted similar requirements. Yet the American Petroleum Institu... Read More
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The Lost Art of Stealing Fruit

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My Hungarian-Czech grandmother, an otherwise goodhearted and generous woman, had a notoriously lax attitude toward property rules: bank pens, ashtrays, and hospital slippers all were fair for the taking. One minute, she’d be giving a bus driver brooches “for his vife”; the next, she’d be stomping down a stranger’s front path to help herself to an enormous bough of blossom while my sister and I, technically her accomplices, hid behind parked cars, pretending not to know her. I’ve tried to lead an honest life, in accordance with the 1968 Theft Act; also, I’m a conscientious elder child and easily embarrassed. But one’s fate is difficult to dodge; ask Oedipus. My own weakness, unlike Grandma’s, is limited to fruit. ... Read More
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Better Business Through Sci-Fi

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About five years ago, Ari Popper enrolled in a course on science-fiction writing at the University of California, Los Angeles, hoping to distract himself from the boredom of his day job as the president of a market-research company. “It was, like, the best ten weeks of my life,” Popper told me recently. “But I knew I wasn’t going to pay the bills as a science-fiction writer.” Still, the course gave him an idea: since businesses often spend money trying to predict how the world will change, and since speculative fiction already traffics in such predictions, perhaps one could be put in service of the other—corporate consulting through sci-fi narratives. Soon, Popper quit his job, sold his house, and launched his own firm, SciFu... Read More
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The Garden’s Tiny Culinary Transformations

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If you want home-reared beets, move to the country. What we owners of yards and balconies can grow is tiny bursts of flavor, which will enhance everything: our salads, our lunches, our lives. Illustration by Cari Vander Yacht... Read More
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What’s Missing from “An Inconvenient Sequel,” Al Gore’s New Climate-Change Documentary

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In one of the most memorable moments of Al Gore’s new climate-change documentary, “An Inconvenient Sequel,” Gore refers to a sequence from the film’s 2006 predecessor, the Oscar-winning “An Inconvenient Truth.” The most criticized scene in that movie, he tells an audience of climate-change activists, was an animation showing how a combination of sea-level rise and storm surges could flood the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, then under construction in lower Manhattan. “People said, ‘That’s ridiculous. What a terrible exaggeration,’ ” Gore recalls. A moment later, on the screen behind him, the animated flood is replaced by news footage of Hurricane Sandy, which in late 2012 flooded the main floor of the u... Read More
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Why We Despise Cable Providers

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Last spring, a resident of Lexington, Kentucky, named Jessica Abney logged on to her computer and noticed something odd: her monthly cable bill, which had for years been around ninety dollars, had suddenly risen to a hundred and thirty-one dollars. Abney, who is seventy-three, is retired and living alone on disability; she was treated for colon cancer last fall and has regular blood infusions to address two autoimmune diseases. Even a small rise in expenses creates stress on her budget. Abney said that, when she called her cable company, Spectrum, to complain, a customer-service representative told her the bill would go up again soon, by another fifty dollars. “I thought I was going to have a heart attack right there, and I’ve had fi... Read More
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Hypnotized by Elon Musk’s Hyperloop

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In March, 1934, Modern Mechanix reported on an unusually ambitious plan to solve Manhattan’s traffic and housing woes. Norman Sper, a “noted publicist and engineering scholar,” proposed to “plug up” the Hudson River with a pair of dams at either end of the island. This would reroute the water around Harlem and the East Side, exposing the riverbed between New York and New Jersey. The resulting dry land, once filled in, would nearly double the city’s size and create a gold mine in future real estate. Sper called his vision “the world’s eighth wonder.” But, like m... Read More
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One Man’s Two-Year Quest Not to Finish Final Fantasy VII

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In 2012, David Curry, a thirty-four-year-old cashier from Southern California, came across a post on an online forum by someone who went by the handle Dick Tree. It contained a herculean proposal: Tree planned to play the 1997 video game Final Fantasy VII for as many hours as it took to raise the characters to their maximum potential, without ever leaving the opening scene, which unfolds in a nuclear reactor. Final Fantasy VII is a role-playing game, a form popularized in the nineteen-seventies by Dungeons & Dragons, in which players’ feats—beasts felled, maidens wooed—are quantified with “experience points.” Accrue enough of these points, and your character ascends a level, at which point it confronts stronger opponents wo... Read More
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What the Layoffs Look Like at the Carrier Plant Trump Said He’d Save

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“Trump came in there to the factory last December and blew smoke up our asses,” Brenda Darlene Battle, a twenty-five-year Carrier employee, said. “He wasn’t gonna save those jobs.” Photograph by Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty On February 10, 2016, the Carrier Corporation, an H.V.A.C. company founded in 1915, announced that it would be closing plants in Indianapolis and Hunt... Read More
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Why Corrupt Bankers Avoid Jail

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In the summer of 2012, a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate released a report so brimming with international intrigue that it read like an airport paperback. Senate investigators had spent a year looking into the London-based banking group HSBC, and discovered that it was awash in skulduggery. According to the three-hundred-and-thirty-four-page report, the bank had laundered billions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels, and violated sanctions by covertly doing business with pariah states. HSBC had helped a Saudi bank with links to Al Qaeda transfer money into the United States. Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, which is responsible for tens of thousands of murders, deposited so much drug money in th... Read More
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Science, Politics, and the Ugliness Premium

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The first nineteen times that Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, ran for Congress, he won his seat with more than sixty per cent of the popular vote. That remarkable streak came to an end in 2012, the final election of his career, when he defeated his main rival, the independent Bill Bloomfield, by a comparatively small margin—fifty-four per cent to forty-six per cent. After serving nearly four decades in the House, during which he sponsored some six hundred pieces of legislation and chaired two powerful committees, Waxman came the closest he ever had to losing. But, according to a recent study in... Read More
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The Senate Health-Care Bill Would Be a Giant Step Backward

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The draft of the Senate G.O.P. health-care bill that Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader, released on Thursday is, in one way, an improvement on the previous version of the bill. The latest draft dropped a proposal to repeal two tax increases on very high earners, which were part of the Affordable Care Act. The revenue from those tax increases was used to help fund some of the A.C.A.’s most progressive features, including the expansion of Medicaid and the subsidies offered to families of modest means for the purchase of private insurance plans. ... Read More
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Stephen Feinberg, the Private Military Contractor Who Has Trump’s Ear

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In the last week of the 2016 Presidential campaign, Stephen Feinberg, the billionaire Manhattan financier, made the largest political donation of his life. On November 3rd, just five days before the election, he gave nearly a million dollars to Rebuild America Now, the Trump-supporting super PAC known for its blistering attacks on Hillary Clinton. That Sunday, the PAC spent eight hundred thousand dollars on an eleventh-hour blitz of negative TV spots, including one that aired repeatedly during N.... Read More
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How to Plant a Tree in the Desert

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President Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord was perplexing to Europeans for many reasons, not least of which was their determination that climate change represents a for-profit opportunity. In particular, the Dutch, who more or less invented water management in Europe, a millennium or so ago, have developed a specialty in climate-change-related innovation. Four years ago, Jurriaan Ruys was a partner at McKinsey, focussing on global sustainability issues. The Dutchman had been an environmentalist since the age of eight, when he went door to door handing out stickers to save the sea turtles, but he became frustrated by the abstract nature of his work—flying around the world, advising gove... Read More
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The C.E.O. of Girls Who Code Wants You to Know That It’s O.K. to Fail

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There’s an unofficial rule in the tech world: every C.E.O. must have a formative anecdote of failure. Reshma Saujani has an imposing résumé—she has delivered speeches at the White House and on Richard Branson’s private island; she knows Sheryl Sandberg’s personal phone number; her nonprofit, Girls Who Code, has given free computer-science instruction to forty thousand young women—and yet she often leads with her failure story. In 2010, Saujani ran for Congress, in New York’s Twelfth District, against a popular incumbent. “Every pollster told me, ‘You can’t possibly win this race,’ ” she said. “I ran anyway. I raised money from everyone from John Legend to Jack Dorsey.” Saujani, who is now forty-one, has a gap-... Read More
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What the Enron E-mails Say About Us

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A measure of industrial progress is the speed with which inventions grow insufferable. The elevator, once a marvel of efficiency, has become a social purgatory from which most of us cannot escape too quickly. The builders of the first commercial airplane couldn’t have foreseen the crushed knees and the splattered salad dressings that their machine would visit on the world. “Hitherto it is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day’s toil of any human being,” John Stuart Mill wrote in the “Principles of Political Economy” (1848), and the precept holds for recent innovations, too. Think of e-mail. Or, rather, try not to think of e-mail,... Read More
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The Accidental Urban Gardener

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An occasional column about the pleasures and pains of cultivating a (tiny) patch of soil. Once upon a time, like most sane people, I was utterly uninterested in gardening. I wasted my time and money on reasonable things: secondhand books, dramatic spices, jackets that I hoped might transform me into the well-groomed and self-possessed novelist I still intend, one day, to become. Like opera, gardening was for the old people, posh, English. And I, youngish, the proud descendent of Mitteleuropean immigrants who had lived, like me, in dark London flats, had far better things to do t... Read More
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Detroit’s Urgent Embrace of Self-Driving Cars

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At last count, G.M. had already built nearly two hundred Chevrolet Bolt electric self-driving vehicles, the most of any automaker. Photograph by Jeffrey Sauger / General Motors Last Friday, Tesla’s Model 3, the upstart automaker’s first mid-priced, mass-market electric vehicle, began rolling off the assembly line. The Model 3’s price (around thirty-five thousand dollars), its range befo... Read More
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A Memoir of Chronic Fatigue Illustrates the Failures of Medical Resear

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Fifteen years ago, Julie Rehmeyer was a science journalist leading an active, outdoorsy life in New Mexico. She ran marathons, biked regularly, and taught mathematics and classics at St. John’s College. Just outside Santa Fe, on a parcel of streamside land, she had even built her own house—a straw-bale construction shaded by ponderosas, meant for the family she hoped to have one day. Then, over a period of a few years, Rehmeyer lost most of her strength, endurance, and confidence, along with the ability to live a normal life. A bike ride left her bedridden. A trip to the grocery store found her using the shopping cart as a walker. At home, she could make it to her bedroom only by climbing the stairs backwards, scooting herself up a s... Read More
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Agnes Gund’s Art for Social Justice’s Sake

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Agnes Gund, the president emerita of the Museum of Modern Art, sometimes runs out of ready cash for her liberal philanthropy. “This is why I have to sell so much art, because I promise things that I can’t really pay for,” she told Andrew Goldstein, the editor of Artnet, last month. Hence Gund’s sale of “Masterpiece” (1962), by Roy Lichtenstein, a painting that for years had hung above the mantel in her Park Avenue apartment. She has given a hundred million dollars, from the sale price of a hundred and sixty-five million, to establish the Art for Justice Fund, dedicated to ... Read More
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Uber’s Opportunistic Ouster 

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On February 23rd, two venture capitalists, both early investors in the ride-sharing company Uber, circulated an open letter in response to a female engineer’s published account of sexual harassment at the company. “Silicon Valley prides itself on pattern recognition,” Freada Kapor Klein and Mitchell Kapor wrote. “Here are a couple of toxic patterns we have observed.” Despite several scandals, they went on, Uber had failed to reform its culture, and investors “in high growth, financially successful companies rarely, if ever, call out inexcusable behavior from founders or C-suite executives.” They argued that both of these patterns needed to change. Four months later, wh... Read More
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How to Travel Like a Millionaire? Ask the Points Guy

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On a Wednesday afternoon in June, Brian Kelly, better known as the travel guru the Points Guy, left his office, on Park Avenue, and boarded a helicopter on East 34th Street. Six minutes after takeoff, he touched down at John F. Kennedy International Airport, and approximately seven minutes after that, with the help of his T.S.A. Pre status, he was through security and perched at the bar of a lounge inside Terminal 5. When I arrived, twenty minutes later, still flustered from maneuvering a rolling suitcase around a packed A train for the better part of an hour, he was sipping a complimentary glass of Sancerre and chatting up a male model he had ushered into the lounge with a guest pass. Kelly has made a career out of flying first c... Read More
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The E.P.A.’s Dangerous Anti-Regulatory Policies

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This week, while attention was focussed on the Senate’s health-care bill, the Trump Administration continued to quietly do the one thing it does well: wreak havoc on the environment. On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency released its plan to rescind the Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States rule, or WOTUS. WOTUS essentially represents the Obama Administration’s attempt to clarify which waterways are governed by the Clean Water Act. A memo that the E.P.A. issued when the rule was put in place, in 2015, notes that it protects streams that roughly one in three Americans depend on for drinking water. (This memo is not currently available on the E.P.A.’s W... Read More
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Teddy Roosevelt Would Not Understand the E.U.’s Antitrust Fine Against

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Back in 1980, Milton Friedman, the University of Chicago economist, starred in a public-television series called “Free to Choose,” in which he presented his free-market ideas and, famously, told a young man that everything he knew about monopoly power was wrong. In the United States, “monopoly” was synonymous with “evil,” an idea going back to Teddy Roosevelt and the original trustbusters, who saw oil cartels and rail syndicates as enemies run by sneering men with bulbous noses. But Friedman’s surprising assertion was that monopolies were not the result of greedy people amassing and abusing power but, rather, of stupid government rules. “I believe if you examine the sources of monopoly you will find that almost all those ... Read More
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After Travis Kalanick’s Resignation, Will Uber Really Change?

In Business, Education, Events, Government, Legal, Start Up by New Yorker

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On Tuesday evening, Travis Kalanick, a co-founder of Uber, resigned from his post as chief executive, apparently under intense pressure from the company’s major shareholders. Kalanick, whose public persona has been variously characterized as aggressive, juvenile, and brash, is both reviled and beloved in Silicon Valley. Depending on whom you ask, he’s either the tech industry’s best representative––a successful, visionary entrepreneur––or its very worst. On Wednesday morning, Bill Gurley, one of the board members who pushed for Kalanick’s ouster, tweeted that there would be “many pages in the history books” dedicated to Kalanick, adding that “very few entrepreneurs have had such a lasting impact on the world.” (Ub... Read More
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The Dubious Counting at the Center of the G.O.P.’s Health-Care Reform

In Business, Finance, Government, Healthcare, Legal by New Yorker

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After Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, released a draft of the Senate health-care bill, on Thursday morning, the media finally began focussing on the essence of what Republicans are proposing: an enormous redistribution of wealth into the pockets of the already-wealthy. The bill would modify the health-insurance subsidies introduced under the Affordable Care Act and dramatically cut Medicaid, all to deliver a big tax cut to the nation’s richest households. But there’s another aspect of the legislation that has received less attention, and that’s the way it staggers its various provisions, and claims billions of dollars in savings that are far from guaranteed. If McConnell’s proposal were signed into law, the ta... Read More
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What Amazon’s Purchase of Whole Foods Really Means

In Business, Emerging Technology, Government, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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Last week, two days before announcing that it would be acquiring Whole Foods, Amazon released a short promotional video for a new product called the Dash Wand. The Wand is a candy-bar-size gizmo that costs twenty dollars. It sticks to your refrigerator with magnets and lets you order products by talking—it features Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa—or by scanning barcodes. In the video, an affluent, middle-aged couple drift through their spotless kitchen, preparing for a dinner party. The woman peers into the fridge, where she discovers a bag of pre-peeled shrimp. She asks the Wand for a simple shrimp-pasta recip... Read More
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The Future of Coal Country

In Business, Education, Energy, Gaming, Government, Healthcare, Legal, Science & Nature, Security by New Yorker

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One Sunday morning, just after deer-hunting season ended, Veronica Coptis, a community organizer in rural Greene County, Pennsylvania, climbed onto her father’s four-wheeler. She set off for a ridge a quarter of a mile from her parents’ small farmhouse, where she was brought up with her brother and two sisters. “Those are coyote tracks,” she called over the engine noise, pointing down at a set of fresh paw prints. At the crest of the ridge, she stopped along a dirt track and scanned in both directions for security guards. Around her stretched a three-mile wasteland of valleys. Once an untouched landscape of white oak and shagbark hickory, it now belonged to Consol Energy and... Read More
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What the Republicans’ Senate Health-Care Bill Means for America

In Business, Government, Healthcare, Legal by New Yorker

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On Thursday, Senate Republicans unveiled their bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. Below, New Yorker writers offer some initial reactions to the news. The Senate bill is really three separate proposals. In the private-insurance market, it amounts to what Larry Levitt, a health-care expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, calls “Obamacare-lite.” As for Medicaid—the federal program that provides health services to roughly seventy-five million Americans, most of whom are poor or elderly or are children—the bill involves much bigger, and more harmful, changes. Finally, the legislation would deliver a hefty tax cut to some of the wealthiest households in the country. In the individual market, the bill offer... Read More
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On This Summer Solstice, Be Glad You Live on Earth

In Education, Government, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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Today is the longest day of the year—in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway. Fifteen hours and forty minutes of daylight in New York. Seventeen and a half in Copenhagen and Moscow. Twenty-one and change in Reykjavík. Twelve hours, eight minutes, and twenty-four seconds in Kampala, just north of the equator. (The day will be one second shorter there starting next week.) The solstice is the one day when every point north of the Arctic Circle sees at least twenty-four hours of continuous sunlight, but farther north, in Deadhorse, Alaska, on the edge of the Arctic Ocean, the sun rose on May 15th ... Read More
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The Race to Solar-Power Africa

In Business, Education, Emerging Technology, Energy, Finance, Government, Healthcare, Legal, Mobile Technology, Science & Nature, Security, Start Up by New Yorker

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The cacao-farming community of Daban, in Ghana, is seven degrees north of the equator, and it’s always hot. In May, I met with several elders there to talk about the electricity that had come to the town a few months earlier, when an American startup installed a solar microgrid nearby. Daban could now safely store the vaccine for yellow fever; residents could charge their cell phones at home rather than walking to a bigger town to do it. As we talked, one of the old men handed me a small plastic bag of water, the kind street venders sell across West Africa—you just bite off a corner and drink. The water was ice-cold and refreshing, but it took me an embarrassingly long moment to unders... Read More
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China’s Mistress-Dispellers

In Business, Education, Events, Finance, Government, Healthcare, Legal, Security, Start Up by New Yorker

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Yu Ruojian was pleased to learn that his target ran a sex shop. Someone who worked in retail would be used to talking to strangers, and it would be easy, posing as a customer in such an intimate store, to bring the conversation around to personal matters. In March last year, he visited the store, in Wuxi, a city about seventy miles from Shanghai, where he lives. He told the proprietor, a gregarious woman in her forties whom I’ll call Wang, that he was looking for herbal remedies to help a friend whose marital relations were hampered by shyness. They chatted for half an hour before exchanging contact details. “I’ll be back to pester you soon enough,” Yu said as he left. “You’d b... Read More
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Trump Steaks, but for Hotels

In Business, Education, Government by New Yorker

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A couple of weeks ago, at Trump Tower, on the same spot where Donald Trump announced his Presidential bid, Eric Danziger, the C.E.O. of Trump Hotels, formally launched a new line of three-star hotels, called American Idea, which will cater to lower-income, rural areas of the country. It was the most blatant instance yet of the Trump family’s profiting from its political power—in this case, by shifting from its long-standing focus on luxury markets in order to make money from the very demographic that put Trump in the White House. Within the hotel industry, the event raised eyebrows for another reason: it was unbelievably haphazard. Danziger, though a veteran of the industry, had almost nothing to show his audience. There was no Web s... Read More
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A Falconer Enters the World of Video Games

In Business, Education, Government, Legal, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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The story of how Nricco Iseppi, a master falconer, came to Riot Games has, among the company’s staff, acquired the malleability of myth. According to one scriptwriter, it began when Riot had an orange grove planted on its multimillion-dollar campus, in Los Angeles, a place already bristling with perks and mod cons: free canteens, a lecture hall, a loaded bar, an outdoor chess board replete with Oompa Loompa-size pieces. The grove attracted pigeons, which dropped guano willy-nilly, and so the company’s facilities manager sought the services of a bird of prey. Or maybe, another employee told me, Iseppi was brought on to ... Read More
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Jeff Sessions and the Trail of Unanswered Questions

In Business, Government, Security by New Yorker

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Sessions’s answers presented a baffling problem in terms of the public’s right to be informed and the duty of Congress to provide oversight.CreditPHOTOGRAPH BY CHIP SOMODEVILLA / GETTY If there was an organizing principle in Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday—which was by turns dismissive, incoherent, evasive, and shameful—it was that certain people are owed deference, and certain others are not. This principle applied to Sessions’s unwillingnes... Read More
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Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s Imaginary Portraits

In Education, Events, Government, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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The exhibition space on the fourth floor of the New Museum, in New York, is a long room with a high ceiling. You might expect towering video screens in here, or something bulky and three-dimensional, requiring circling—entering, even. But on a recent day the room was filled with oils. The show has a melancholy, literary title, “Under-Song For A Cipher,” and consists of seventeen paintings hung low, depicting a set of striking individuals, all slightly larger than human scale, though not imposingly so. Most are on herringbone linen; one is on canvas. It’s impossible to avoid noticing that they are all—every man and each woman—physically beautiful... Read More
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Where Trump Learned To Love Ritualized Flattery

In Business, Government, Legal by New Yorker

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At his first Cabinet meeting, President Trump seemed to have taken a lesson in ritualized flattery from the famous parties of the lawyer Roy Cohn.CreditPHOTOGRAPH BY JABIN BOTSFORD / THE WASHINGTON POST / GETTY Donald Trump is not, by all accounts, a great reader. But he’s memorized the Roy Cohn playbook, and in his first Cabinet meeting, yesterday, he consulted a page from it: the one on ritualized flattery. Trump was a regular at Cohn’s summer parties, held at his Greenwich, Connecti... Read More
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Is Trump Now a Subject of the Mueller Investigation?

In Business, Government, Legal, Security by New Yorker

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It’s probably not a matter of if President Trump will be personally investigated by Robert Mueller, the special counsel in the Russia probe. It’s a matter of when. CreditPHOTOGRAPH BY PETE MAROVICH / BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY If the former F.B.I. director James Comey’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee is to be believed, one of the driving factors that led Donal... Read More
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Second Sight

In Business, Government, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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Saint MoritzMovement in the peripheral vision is easy to observe. Even when you fixate on a central static point, that peripheral observation continues. However, if the peripheral stimulus is regular, it soon fades away, and becomes invisible. The effect, known as Troxler’s fading, is easy to demonstrate. It is so named for its discoverer, Ignaz Paul Troxler, born in Switzerland in 1780. Let us say that Troxler’s fading has consequences, by analogy, for political thought. Movement in the margins is not enough. Regularity becomes invisible. You switch up the moves, you introduce... Read More
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The Warriors’ Torrential Victory

In Business, Education, Gaming, Government by New Yorker

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The championship trophy is a certificate of achievement; it’s also a signal that school’s out for summer, that this particular group will never be together again, not like this.CreditPHOTOGRAPH BY KELLEY L. COX / USA TODAY SPORTS VIA REUTERS It is over. The floor is strewn with confetti and small children. N.B.A.-championship celebrations used to be backroom affairs; the players didn’t linger to commiserate, they escaped into the champagne-drenched oasis of the loc... Read More
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Why So Many Republicans Still Grovel to Trump

In Business, Government, Healthcare, Science & Nature, Security by New Yorker

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This week’s awkward and fawning Cabinet meeting is no surprise, given the G.O.P.’s reliance on the President to distract from the Party’s reactionary agenda.CreditPHOTOGRAPH BY OLIVIER DOULIERY / POOL VIA BLOOMBERG Donald Trump is the first President in history to have a Cabinet meeting go viral. If you haven’t seen it yet, you must watch the video of Trump going around the table on Monday morning and elic... Read More
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The Ninth Circuit Rejects Trump’s Travel Ban Again

In Business, Education, Government, Legal, Security by New Yorker

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In yet another blow to Donald Trump’s travel ban, the Ninth Circuit court has struck down his executive order.CreditPHOTOGRAPH BY JEFF CHIU / AP Did President Donald Trump’s travel ban violate the Constitution, or just the law? Late last month, the Fourth Circuit found that the executive order in question, which suspends the entry into the United States of people from six predominantly Muslim countries and of all refugees, was a blatant act of religious prejudice, and so was barred by the Establishment Clause. It upheld a... Read More
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Why Aren’t You Laughing?

In Business, Education, Gaming, Government, Healthcare, Legal by New Yorker

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... Read More
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The Persistence of Prog Rock

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China and the Closing of the Ivory Trade

In Business, Education, Emerging Technology, Government by New Yorker

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The Precocious Genius of “Columbus”

In Education, Government, Healthcare by New Yorker

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The landscape of American independent filmmaking is shifting as the generation that revitalized the movement in the past decade has begun to take its place in the larger industry. As a result, a new generation of filmmakers is working in a field that’s wide open for creative innovation, advancing without their predecessors’ shared artistic ideas. The stylistic diversity of these new films is on view in this year’s edition of BAMcinemaFest—New York’s leading independent-film series, running June 14-25. One film being shown there, “Columbus,” is the first feature directed by Kogonada, who makes distinctive artistic use of classical styles and of popular actors wh... Read More
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A Dance of Sugar and Cream

In Government, Healthcare, Start Up by New Yorker

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From John Hughes to Michael Flynn

In Government, Security by New Yorker

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Gogol’s “Dead Souls” Should Be on Trump’s Summer Reading List

In Business, Emerging Technology, Government, Legal, Security by New Yorker

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Silent Spring—I

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Manspreaders of the Year

In Uncategorized by New Yorker

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Remembering the Murder You Didn’t Commit

In Business, Education, Government, Healthcare, Legal, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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When Ada JoAnn Taylor is tense, she thinks she can feel the fabric of a throw pillow in the pads of her fingers. Taylor has suffered from tactile flashbacks for three decades. She imagines herself in a small apartment in Beatrice, Nebraska. She is gripping the edges of a pillow, more tightly than she means to, and suffocating a sixty-eight-year-old widow. “I feel for her,” Taylor told me recently. “She was my grandmother’s age.” Taylor confessed to the woman’s murder in 1989 and for two decades believed that she was guilty. She served more than nineteen years for the crime before she was pardoned. She was one of six people accused of the ... Read More
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What’s Your Festival Look?

In Uncategorized by New Yorker

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How a Russian Journalist Exposed the Anti-Gay Crackdown in Chechnya 

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The Only Man in the Room with Trump

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New Tony Award Categories

In Education, Government, Legal by New Yorker

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Alt-Right: “Not Your Father’s Hate Group”

In Uncategorized by New Yorker

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A Lizard Lost at Sea Makes Its Return

In Business, Education, Gaming, Government, Legal, Science & Nature by New Yorker

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