On March 2, former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker abruptly resigned from a new Justice Department position only two weeks into the job—after he learned that he would likely be fired if he refused to answer questions from the department’s Inspector General about his controversial tenure as the nation’s top law enforcement official. As a result, investigators may never learn whether President Trump attempted to enlist Whitaker in an effort to impede a federal criminal investigation into whether the president himself conspired to violate campaign finance laws.
When I was five and we went back to India for a visit, everyone was upset about two things. The first was that my brother and I still did not speak Malayalam. The second was how much I had “changed” since I was a baby. Toward the end of the visit, my grandmother gave me a bottle of Fair & Lovely. I knew what it was. I had seen the advertisement on train station walls. It showed a woman’s face getting lighter and happier and lighter and happier. Coming back to New Mexico was almost a relief. In New Mexico, I wasn’t dark. I was just brown.
Sunset, the forty-two-year-old French-Hungarian filmmaker László Nemes’s follow-up to his astonishing 2015 debut Son of Saul, is a gothic melodrama and a modernist period piece, set on the eve of World War I and shadowed by impending doom. Less dire than Saul but nonetheless alarming, Sunset tracks the quest of its protagonist, the young milliner Irisz Leiter (Juli Jakab), an orphan arrived in Budapest, to find employment at Leiter, the fashionable, luxury emporium founded by her parents. Perhaps Nemes—an artist far more comfortable discussing his filmmaking than his politics—is speaking through the character who says of Leiter’s elaborate creations: “the horror of the world hides beneath these infinitely pretty things.”
He Jiankui’s announcement that in November that he had created the first two gene-edited humans in history was met with universal condemnation. Hundreds of Chinese scientists signed a letter calling the research “crazy,” CRISPR’s co-creator, Jennifer Doudna, said she was “horrified,” and Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes for Health, labeled it “profoundly disturbing.” If everyone can agree He crossed some kind of line, the questions of what that line is and where it should be are still open. The disturbing thing about the aftermath of the He affair is that a reckoning with these questions hasn’t happened.
“Europe would be a chance for us to work, a chance to study, a chance to learn a new language, in Spain or France, for example,” Rachid told me, one of a group of teenage Moroccan boys hoping to board the ferry from northern Africa to Europe. “In Morocco, there is nothing, nothing! No work, no money, no future. That’s why we want to go.” Rachid advanced toward the barbed wire-topped fence, followed by Ayman. On the pier, the fences are no longer monitored by officers of the Guardia Civil, who have been replaced by security cameras, though police still patrol inside the port.
Fathi Bashagha, a leading figure in the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, is touring Washington and European capitals, where he pleads for equipment and for help in cutting off funding to what he calls Libya’s “princes of militias.” By many accounts, these have been impressive performances and Western backers of the Government of National Accord have placed great hopes in him to restore order. Even so, European governments and, increasingly, Washington have recognized that the landscape has now changed, with the dominant military force of General Khalifa Haftar on the horizon.
Even during the Civil War, Union military and political leaders who were directly responsible for stewarding black people from enslavement into their new lives as freed people felt strongly that slavery was an atrocity and a theft that required compensation. Reparations were understood as both a remedy for the rape, torture, death, and destruction of millions of human souls, and a measure that recognized that freedom without material resources would lock black people into second-class status for generations to come. Promises made to freed people in 1865 that they would receive land—as reparations for their enslavement and the leg-up they needed to start their lives anew—were never honored.
For their attention to everyday life and their tender spirit, Antanas Sutkus’s photographs in Planet Lithuania often evoke the spirit of Robert Doisneau, André Kertész, or Paul Strand—but Sutkus only discovered their work and that of other photographers of the humanist school much later in life, when he first traveled outside his country in 1992. Cultural isolation meant there was no access to photography books in Lithuania. Sutkus’s vast collection of images of everyday life in Lithuania under Communism from 1956 to 1991 is one of the largest existing archives of life under Soviet rule, a record of simple, quiet resistance.
There are other dangers than gunfire for the war photographer, almost more than for the war correspondent: the temptations of angry partisanship or aestheticization of horror. Don McCullin is innocent of the first. “No one was my enemy, by the way,” he says, in the companion book to the show. “There was no enemy in war for me. I was a totally neutral, passing-through person.” The second hazard might be more problematic. Biafran children with bellies distended by hunger, two dead Khmer Rouge sprawled in almost gymnastic postures, a Bengali father holding the body of his young son who has died of cholera, all come close to being artistic creations like the gyrations of athletes frozen for a split second for the sports pages.
With the Wisconsin’s Foxconn deal still drawing skepticism, Amazon’s HQ2 plan for Long Island City canceled, a national conversation about corporate subsidies is underway—at a moment of broader reevaluation of our welfare state, climate policy, wealth distribution, and government accountability. Rules-based incentives for small and medium-sized enterprises are one thing; rubber-stamped agreements with trillion-dollar companies are another. Could the divergent paths of the Amazon and Foxconn projects mark an inflection point in the nation’s approach to economic development?