The British Stay Calm After the Manchester Attack, for Now
May 24th, 2017, 07:09 PM

Many British people pride themselves on their equanimity and tolerance. Their motto could be “Live and let live.” But Monday’s horrendous suicide-bomb attack at Manchester Arena, which killed twenty-two people, many of them young girls who had been attending an Ariana Grande concert, has tested this resolve. The bomber, Salman Abedi, a twenty-two year old Mancunian whose parents are Libyan, appears to have been a homegrown militant jihadi, one of a significant number of young Britons who have become radicalized in recent years.

An Ode to Bartolo Colón, the Oldest, Stoutest Player in Baseball, on His Birthday
May 24th, 2017, 07:09 PM

The only way to begin talking about Bartolo Colón, the unlikely star pitcher who now plays for the Atlanta Braves, is with his age and his figure. As of today, May 24th, he is forty-four, the oldest player in professional baseball, and thus, for a not insignificant number of American men, all that stands between them and that grave day of reckoning when the entirety of the league is younger than they are.

Trump’s Damning Responses to the Russia Investigation
May 24th, 2017, 07:09 PM

In September, 1972, about ten weeks after the Watergate break-in, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward huddled in the vending-machine room at the Washington Post’s old headquarters, on Fifteenth Street. Most days, the two reporters met there before presenting their latest scoops to the top editors. This was a particularly nerve-racking meeting. They had confirmed that John Mitchell, Richard Nixon’s former Attorney General and the manager of his reëlection campaign, had controlled a secret fund that paid for the break-in.

Trump’s Damning Responses to the Russia Investigation
May 24th, 2017, 07:09 PM

In September, 1972, about ten weeks after the Watergate break-in, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward huddled in the vending-machine room at the Washington Post’s old headquarters, on Fifteenth Street. Most days, the two reporters met there before presenting their latest scoops to the top editors. This was a particularly nerve-racking meeting. They had confirmed that John Mitchell, Richard Nixon’s former Attorney General and the manager of his reëlection campaign, had controlled a secret fund that paid for the break-in.

Amid the Chaos, Trump’s Appointees Push His Agenda
May 24th, 2017, 07:09 PM

For those who hope (or fear) that the Trump Administration has been shell-shocked by the Russia scandals and paralyzed by the health-care mess, the past fortnight offers bracing reminders of the enduring power of the Presidency. The executive branch is a huge bureaucracy, which lumbers forward, pushing the incumbent’s policy agenda, regardless of localized chaos in the White House. Two new initiatives demonstrate how Trump’s appointees are advancing the goals of his Presidency.

Does the Manchester Attack Show the Islamic State’s Strength or Weakness?
May 24th, 2017, 07:09 PM

Ten hours after Salman Abedi blew himself up outside the Manchester Arena, where the American pop star Ariana Grande was performing, ISIS claimed a grisly attack that killed twenty-two people and injured dozens more. “With Allah’s grace and support, a soldier of the Khilafah (caliphate) managed to place explosive devices in the midst of the gatherings of the Crusaders in the British city of Manchester,” the group boasted on social messaging apps, in multiple languages. The odd thing—for a group that has usually been judicious about its claims and accurate in its facts—is that it got key details wrong.

The Trump Administration’s Budget Charade
May 24th, 2017, 07:09 PM

In March, the Trump Administration released a so-called skinny budget, which contained the broad outlines of its spending plans. The proposed cuts in domestic and international programs were so draconian, mean-spirited, and misguided that I termed it a Voldemort budget, and many other commentators offered similar reviews. On Tuesday, the White House released the full version of its budget, and, if anything, the details are even more disturbing.

What Roger Ailes Figured Out
May 24th, 2017, 07:09 PM

Twenty years ago, Roger Ailes launched Fox News with a simple but effective premise: most news outlets were liberal, and most Americans were not. “I think the mainstream media thinks liberalism is the center of the road,” he once said. “I really think that they don’t understand that there are serious people in America who don’t necessarily agree with everything they hear on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.”

At a Vigil, Manchester Gets the Poem It Needs
May 23rd, 2017, 07:09 PM

Who would have thought that a poet could have offered succor on a day like this? But he did. His name is Tony Walsh, a Manchester writer who goes by the handle “Longfella”—because of his greater-than-average height, one assumes. In front of a crowd of many thousands in Albert Square, in the civic heart of Manchester, as late-afternoon sunshine bathed the Victorian façade of the town hall, and as people in the crush climbed on statues to find a better view, and as a few held up homemade banners expressing love and solidarity, and others held bunches of flowers that they had brought to the ceremony, Walsh delivered a performance of a poem so resonant that the crowd cheered and laughed, and the eyes of the grown men who stood on either side of me grew glassy.

Michael Flynn and the Trump Administration’s Lobbyist Secrets
May 23rd, 2017, 07:09 PM

This week, there have already been reminders of how much the upholding of government ethics relies on access to open information—and of how little Donald Trump’s Administration cares about either. Some of those reminders have come in the case of Michael Flynn, the President’s first national-security adviser. Others have come in the Administration’s clumsy attempt to tell Walter Shaub, the head of the Office of Government Ethics, not to do his job. The Administration had said loudly that it would not allow lobbyists to take positions relating to their “particular” lobbying-market niche. It also said, more quietly, that it could issue waivers. And it had, in total silence, issued an unknown number of waivers, as evidenced by lobbyists popping up, without other explanation, at various agencies. (When the Obama Administration issued such waivers, it not only said so but indicated why, in writing.) Shaub had asked various agencies to send him, by June 1st, a list of those waivers, a “data call” of the sort that he is explicitly authorized to make. The White House doesn’t seem to have liked that.

Manchester’s Recent History of Tragedy
May 23rd, 2017, 07:09 PM

The explosion last night in England, at the Manchester Arena, occurred just as fans and their families were leaving a concert. The venue, which was playing host to Ariana Grande, seats more than twenty thousand guests. In the initial confusion, some of those attending or standing outside thought that the loud bang might have been part of the show’s balloon-enhanced finale. It was not.

Mahmoud Abbas, Donald Trump, and the Politics of Peace
May 23rd, 2017, 07:09 PM

Donald Trump met Mahmoud Abbas, in Bethlehem today, a twofer for a President intent, as the national-security adviser, H. R. McMaster, put it last week, on visiting “homelands and holy sites” and expressing “his desire for dignity and self-determination for the Palestinians.” Reading prepared remarks, in a Presidential palace outfitted with the trappings of sovereignty, Trump told reporters that he’d work with Abbas on “unlocking the potential of the Palestinian economy.” Naftali Bennett, the Israeli education minister and a settlement advocate, probably spoke for most of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government last November, when he declared that, with Trump’s election, “the era of the Palestinian state is over.” Today, in Bethlehem, it was prolonged.

Trump’s Big Saudi Arms Deal Will Cause More Misery for Yemen
May 23rd, 2017, 07:09 PM

On Monday, the first day of trading since the announcement that Saudi Arabia had agreed to buy a hundred and ten billion dollars in U.S. weaponry, defense stocks jumped. “General Dynamics (GD.N), Raytheon (RTN.N), and Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) all hit record highs before easing to trade up between 0.4 percent and 1.6 percent,” Reuters reported. “Boeing (BA.N) was up 1.3 percent and the second-biggest boost to the Dow.”

Responding to Terror in the Aftermath of the Manchester Attack
May 23rd, 2017, 07:09 PM

Shaky cell-phone videos of the aftermath of the attack. Wrenching images of innocent victims. Condemnation from world leaders. The pattern is grimly familiar. In the days ahead, the background of the Manchester bomber will be probed. Investigators will study how he was trained and financed. Questions will be raised about missed warning signs. The search for co-conspirators will span cities, countries, and perhaps even continents.

A Terrorist Attack in Manchester
May 23rd, 2017, 07:09 PM

What was it about an arena full of teen and preteen children and their parents, listening to an American pop singer, that so offended the man who detonated the bomb in Manchester last night? We don’t know for sure, although recent tragedies in Berlin, Nice, Paris, and London may give us strong suspicions. The bomber—whose identity is unknown, for now—is dead, along with twenty-two of his victims. Fifty-nine more are hurt, some with life-threatening injuries. The attacker triggered his bomb at around 10:35 P.M. last night, at the end of an Ariana Grande concert, in the foyer of the Manchester Arena, just as fans were coming out of the gig. The timing appeared to have been calculated to inflict as much death and panic as possible. In concertgoers’ videos, the terror in the arena is palpable. A girl recording one video asked the same question, over and over: “What is going on? What is going on?”

Trump Chases His “Ultimate Deal”
May 22nd, 2017, 07:09 PM

Not so long ago, President Donald Trump had backers of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process worried and Israeli settlers and annexationists elated. Many were convinced that a change in U.S. policy toward Israel was imminent, not least because the President’s three main advisers on Israel were modern Orthodox Jews with ties to West Bank settlements. Mr. Trump’s chief negotiator, Jason Greenblatt, is a former West Bank yeshiva student. The new U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, until recently headed a settler fund-raising group. And the family of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, has donated to the institutions of a settlement northeast of Ramallah.

The Seven-Year Saga of One Undocumented Student in Georgia
May 22nd, 2017, 07:09 PM

In 2013, after a legal battle that had already stretched on for three years, Jessica Colotl, a twenty-six-year-old paralegal who was born in Mexico and raised in Georgia, thought that her immigration troubles were finally over. In 2010, she had been arrested for a traffic violation on the campus of Kennesaw State University, in Georgia, where she was a junior. She then spent thirty-eight days in an immigration-detention center, in Alabama, and was supposed to be deported, until a national outcry over her case led Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to reconsider, and she was allowed to return home. Within days, however, she was rearrested, this time by the local sheriff, who claimed that she had given a false home address when she’d been booked into the county jail after her arrest. (The address corresponded to an old family residence listed on the insurance registration for the car Colotl was driving.) After several more months of legal wrangling, prosecutors offered her a plea deal, which she accepted out of desperation: community service in exchange for dropped charges. In 2012, she received protection against deportation from a federal program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and, in 2013, the charges against her were officially dismissed.

Why Sally Yates Stood Up to Trump
May 22nd, 2017, 07:09 PM

It is hard to locate when President Trump first declared war on the government establishment, but the story may well begin on the night of January 30th. Three days earlier, Trump, prodded by his most ideological aides, had issued an executive order banning travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries. On the 30th, Sally Yates, the acting U.S. Attorney General, refused to defend the order, saying that she was not convinced that it was lawful. Trump reacted with a fury not seen in the White House since the Nixon era.

Putin’s Shadow Cabinet and the Bridge to Crimea
May 21st, 2017, 07:09 PM

In the spring of 2014, President Vladimir Putin delivered an address in St. George Hall, a chandeliered ballroom in the Kremlin, to celebrate the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. “Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia in the hearts and minds of our people,” he declared, to a standing ovation. Despite Putin’s triumphal language, the annexation presented Russia with a formidable logistical challenge: Crimea’s physical isolation. Crimea, which is roughly the size of Massachusetts, is a landscape of sandy beaches and verdant mountains that juts into the Black Sea. It’s connected to Ukraine by a narrow isthmus to the north but is separated from Russia by a stretch of water called the Kerch Strait. Ukraine, to which Crimea had belonged, viewed Russia’s occupation as illegal, and had sealed off access to the peninsula, closing the single road to commercial traffic and shutting down the rail lines.

James Mattis, a Warrior in Washington
May 21st, 2017, 07:09 PM

On January 22nd, two days after President Trump was inaugurated, he received a memo from his new Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, recommending that the United States launch a military strike in Yemen. In a forty-year career, Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general and a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, had cultivated a reputation for being both deeply thoughtful and extremely aggressive. By law and by custom, the position of Defense Secretary is reserved for civilians, but Mattis was still a marine at heart. He had been out of the military for only three years (the rule is seven), and his appointment required Congress to pass a waiver. For the first time in his professional life, he was going to the Pentagon in a suit and tie.

Trump’s Simplistic Strategy on Jihadism
May 21st, 2017, 07:09 PM

Six days after the 9/11 attacks, in 2001, President George W. Bush went to the Islamic Center in Washington to dampen fears of a clash of civilizations between the Islamic world and the West. “The face of terror is not the true face of Islam,” he said. “Islam is peace.” Three days later, at a joint session of Congress, Bush defined the challenge from Al Qaeda in political rather than religious or cultural terms. “This is the fight of all who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom,” he told Congress. “This will not be an age of terror. This will be an age of liberty here and across the world.” A central theme of Bush’s Presidency was fostering democracy through nation-building.

Iran’s Moderates Win Election, but It Won’t Matter to Trump
May 20th, 2017, 07:09 PM

Donald Trump arrived in Saudi Arabia this weekend to launch a new Middle East coalition designed to confront Iran, just as Tehran announced the reëlection of President Hassan Rouhani, the man who dared to engage diplomatically with the United States. Rouhani won a commanding victory: fifty-seven per cent in a four-way race, with seventy-per-cent turnout. He fended off a challenge from a populist right-wing cleric, Ebrahim Raisi, a rising political star backed by hard-line power centers such as the Revolutionary Guards. Street celebrations erupted Saturday night from Tehran to Mashhad, the eastern city with Iran’s holiest shrine.

Mexican Journalists Lose Another Colleague to the Drug War
May 20th, 2017, 07:09 PM

In his last public remarks, made on a live television show, “El Almohadazo,” on Monday morning, the Mexican journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas spoke by Skype with the show’s presenter, Fernanda Tapia. Their conversation dealt with issues pertaining to Mexico’s decade-old drug war, in which at least a hundred and seventy-five thousand people have died and another twenty-eight thousand have disappeared. Valdez’s home state of Sinaloa—turf of El Chapo and the Sinaloa Cartel—has been a key battleground from the start, and throughout he had been there, reporting from the frontline. Valdez had earned a reputation as a brave, independent, and outspoken reporter, as well as a prolific one. He wrote a column for Río Doce, a weekly local newspaper that he had co-founded; reported for the national daily La Jornada; and had published a half dozen books on Mexico’s narco underworld, including “Miss Narco,” “Huérfanos del Narco,” and his latest, “Narcoperiodismo.”

Trump or Comey: Who’s the Real “Nut Job” Here?
May 20th, 2017, 07:09 PM

The first four months of the Trump Administration have generated many real headlines that could have appeared first in a satirical publication such as the Onion or The New Yorker’s own The Borowitz Report. But the headline that appeared on the New York Times Web site on Friday afternoon may have been the most bizarre yet: “Trump Told Russians that Firing ‘Nut Job’ Comey Eased Pressure from Investigation.”