Air Berlin Requires a Quick Deal, German Government Official Says

Air Berlin Requires a Quick Deal, German Government Official Says

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Bloomberg

The whole European airline industry — and not just the two guys in the photo — are following the trajectory of Air Berlin. Bloomberg

Skift Take: Let the games begin: Lufthansa, Ryanair, easyJet and a German investor are said to be interested in scavenging for pieces of the beleaguered Air Berlin. The German government is getting lots of grief for making a bridge loan but that was a prudent thing to do in the pubic interest.

— Dennis Schaal

Air Berlin Plc needs a swift deal with carriers interested in buying all or part of the insolvent German airline because its prospects look bad, German Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries said.

Zypries said she was surprised by criticism of the German government’s EU150 million bridging loan to keep Air Berlin flying, telling a news conference she expects the money to be repaid.

“We hope it goes quickly, as I believe the future prospects are indeed bad, I mean, who is booking Air Berlin at the moment, even if it’s possible?” Zypries said in Berlin on Saturday.

She said the government had created good conditions for talks on the airline’s future and that there were “enough interested parties,” including Lufthansa, EasyJet, Ryanair and German aviation entrepreneur Hans Rudolf Woehrl.

Air Berlin filed for insolvency on Aug. 15 when main shareholder Etihad Airways PJSC withdrew financial support.

 

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by James Regan from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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August 26, 2017 at 08:02PM

Our Many Fears of Hurricane Harvey

Our Many Fears of Hurricane Harvey

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Hurricane Harvey came ashore overnight, near Rockport, Texas, with
enough force that it caved in the high school there. For days before,
the storm’s dimensions, and its menace, were visible from space, a thick
white swirl around a geometrically intact circle—the eye. In the hours
before the storm made landfall, the images on the news were of long
lines of cars streaming away from the Texas coast, and absolutely no one
moving toward it. The city of Corpus Christi, worrying about the fouling
of its water system, advised all its residents to boil their water
before drinking. This morning, the Times correspondent Manny Fernandez
tweeted images of a large body
of water a few miles outside of town. “It looks like a lake, but it’s
actually a rural field,” Fernandez wrote. Nearby, a few bewildered
longhorns ambled through water up to their knees.

It is storm season again on the Gulf Coast. For the decade since
Hurricane Katrina, these weeks have been accompanied by the tired
partisan debate over climate change—of whether the ways in which human
beings have altered the environment are responsible for a particular
storm. These are complicated calculations, but scientists have gotten
better at them, and the mystery is diminishing. After last summer’s
devastating floods in Baton Rouge, climatologists estimated that the
changing environment had probably doubled the likelihood that a
calamitous storm would strike in a particular year.

Climate-change estimates are sharpening, too, and growing more severe.
In 2013, the International Panel for Climate Change predicted that sea
levels would rise somewhere between a foot and a metre over the next
hundred years, depending on how aggressive we were in forestalling
climate change. In the last four years, as the great ice sheets at the
poles have come to seem less stable, the estimates have escalated. “The
uncertainties are all biased positive,” the glaciologist William Colgan
pointed out this spring in the introduction to a major study. It is easy
to imagine how things could turn worse than the I.P.C.C. suggested,
Colgan was saying, but hard to see how they could turn out better.
Rising seas mean more frequent storm surges, and the Gulf Coast of Texas
today and Sunday will be a giant meteorological laboratory for
potentially record, and cataclysmic, flooding. The state of Louisiana,
in revamping its master plan this year, recommended that the government
simply pay twenty thousand coastal homeowners to abandon their houses
and move, because protecting them would be prohibitive.

But if we now know more about how the climate will behave, we know less
about how humans will react. The experience of frequent storms is one of
incredible stress. With Katrina, the story was about racial inequities,
of who is left to live in the lowest and most vulnerable places, and
why. But in the hurricanes that have battered the western Gulf in the
decade since—Rita, and Gustav, and Isaac, and Ike—race has been a lesser
part of the story, and universal vulnerability a much greater one.

The storms are so vast and so sublime; everyone is at risk. During the
great Louisiana floods of last August, when an unexpected storm surged
along the Amite River, flooding a hundred and fifty thousand homes and
leaving emergency services overwhelmed, rescue in many places depended
upon the volunteer boaters of the “Cajun
Navy
,”
a group that had not existed before the storm but organized over
Facebook, taking SOS calls and dispatching private boaters to pull
stranded people off rooftops and ferry them to shelter. In that storm,
in Livingston Parish, gauges recorded seventeen inches of rain in the
first twenty-four hours. The totals in Texas are now around sixteen
inches, and rising.

There is now, too, a double anxiety that greets storms like this. There
is the fear about the damage done by wind and rain. And then there is a
third fear, made stark by the memory of Katrina, about how we will treat
each other. In Corpus Christi overnight, someone shot someone else in
the head, believing their home under invasion. In nearby Rockport, the
city manager said that people were trapped inside a collapsed building, and rescuers could
not reach them. A woman called a local news station to report that her
husband and crew, in port in a sinking boat, had lashed themselves to
another, sturdier seeming vessel, and were now unaccounted for. These
circumstances are all desperate, and tense. At stake for the people in
each of them is the matter of how their community will respond, whether
it will protect them or abandon them. We don’t yet know how extreme the
damage from Hurricane Harvey will be, but we do know something about the
nature of the experience. The climate, evolving, changes the land. It
also changes the people.

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August 26, 2017 at 07:36PM

“Ape Sounds”: The Pet Project of the Bape Founder, Nigo

“Ape Sounds”: The Pet Project of the Bape Founder, Nigo

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I was, at best, a casual Bape-head. As a tragically underemployed
teen-ager in the mid-aughts, I was rarely brave enough to ask my parents
to shell out hundreds on the coveted sneakers, hoodies, and T-shirts
imported from Japan to select New York retailers (and eventually only
available at the clothing brand’s flagship store, in SoHo). But that
didn’t ever stop me from looking. Bape, a.k.a. A Bathing Ape, stood out
as an original, distinctly anti-industry idea: the product of a singular
vision by a Japanese designer named Nigo, who funnelled his obsession
with American pop culture and hip-hop into all of his work. His
mesmerizing camouflage patterns and playful flips of ubiquitous products
like the Nike Air Force One were meant to jerk the heads of those who
understood his references. Even as I saved, traded, and bartered my way
into owning a few cherished pieces, I mostly got my kicks scouring Web
sites and catalogues that listed Bape wares: even just looking at the
shooting-star and ape-head logos felt deeply satisfying, as if something
out there had finally lived up to the term “eye candy.” Design has a
profound effect on how we process the world; seeing something pleasing
and familiar, I found, could cause the same sensation as a sweet smell,
or a moving sound.

In 2000, Nigo quietly produced and released an album, called “Ape
Sounds.” This was well before he was a cult figure in the United States:
Nigo was still establishing himself in the D.I.Y. fashion scene in
Harajuku, and was around half a decade away from earning loyal A-list
fans, including Pharrell and Robin Williams. Free from the pressures of
soon-to-pry eyes, he made a fascinating, experimental record for the
boutique label Mo Wax, attempting his own versions of the genres he
liked: the knotty, layered rap of midcareer Beastie Boys, the frantic
breakbeat trip-hop of DJ Shadow and UNKLE, and the woozy psych-rock of
bands like the Verve. Overseeing the song concepts, samples, and drum
programming, Nigo wrangled a constellation of artists from Japan and the
U.S. for a collage of pop choruses and ambling compositions that would
play well in one of his meticulously designed stores. I first heard the
album this summer. What wowed me wasn’t just the confidence and ambition
of the material—the rag-doll punk of “Jet Set” or the Beatles-esque wink
of “A Simple Song”—but how prescient Nigo’s music seemed. His songs
“Monster” and “Freediving” nearly preëmpt N.E.R.D.’s coy pop-rock style,
which would début two years later, and the solar fuzz of “Too Much”
heralds the bright tones of Kid Cudi, a rapper who, years later, would
get his start working at Bape’s New York shop. Still, most of the
material, full of inelegant twists and innovations, escapes easy
categorization—Nigo isn’t a musician, which makes his début album that
much more boundless, and impressive. In a review for Entertainment
Weekly
, among the scarce press that “Ape Sounds” received at the time
of its release, the critic Will Hermes suggests that “this moonlighter
should quit his day job.”

As the human record of music is digitized and catalogued onto streaming
services, we’ll never know just how many oddities like these are left on
the analog floor. “Ape Sounds” is available on Apple Music and Spotify,
but, in the collector’s tradition, I recently purchased a physical copy
of the CD. The artwork and packaging were designed by Nigo, in
collaboration with the graffiti artist Futura 2000, and they show early
strands of Bape’s visual motifs. Clothes are among the last products
young fans collect with fervor, because of their tactile physical
value—you can’t stream a T-shirt, but “Ape Sounds” is probably as close
as you can get.

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August 26, 2017 at 05:00PM

5 Spectacular Sites and Species to See While You Still Can

5 Spectacular Sites and Species to See While You Still Can

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Our world is filled with beautiful places, and it’s not surprising that 1,073 UNESCO World Heritage sites exist, both manmade and natural. Although you have a lifetime to explore the world’s most epic destinations, there are a few you might want to see sooner rather than later. With climate change, deforestation and extinction, these sites and species are slowly but surely disappearing. Here’s a look at five trips you should take now, before it’s too late — and what you can do to help.

1. See Endangered Primates in the Wild

Many of the world’s primates are going extinct due to the loss of their natural habitats. Borneo and Sumatra are among the only places in the world you can see orangutans in the wild, and the jungles where they live are being destroyed to create palm-oil plantations. While there is a wide variety of budget and luxury jungle treks you can do to see these expressive, fascinating creatures in the wild, I recommend the eco-friendly and no-frills tour by Uncle Tan Wildlife Adventures in Borneo, which costs under $200 for a two-night, three-day camping trip, including treks, boat rides and food.

Rwanda and Uganda are two of the few places you can spot the remaining mountain gorillas left in the wild — as of this writing, there are fewer than 790. Four-hour treks in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park start at $750 per person for a permit, with only 80 permits handed out per day, and the money goes directly toward conservation and to protect against poaching.

How you can help: Be sure to respect the habitats of these majestic creatures when you’re visiting and to select treks and trips that respect the environment. Although African countries have expensive tariffs in place to limit tourism and protect the gorillas, orangutans aren’t as lucky. Be selective when shopping and choose products without palm oil — it’s in pretty much everything and is hard to avoid, but it’s worth it, since doing so may help to save their natural habitat.

Seeing an orangutan in the rainforests of Borneo is a really special experience. Image by the author.
Seeing an orangutan in the rainforests of Borneo is a really special experience. Image by the author.

2. Visit Ancient Inca Ruins at Machu Picchu

For years, visitors were allowed to freely roam the ruins without restrictions, time limits or tour guides, but this was taking a toll on the ruins, with stones eroding and temples nearly toppling. The Peruvian government took action a few years ago, and now only 2,500 people are allowed to enter Machu Picchu per day, with only 500 allowed per day on the nearby Inca Trail. Time limits have also been imposed to keep people moving, and lists of what you can and can’t bring in are now stricter. There are also limits on how much weight can be carried in, and you must wear soft, rubber-soled shoes that won’t damage the stones. Make sure to buy your ticket well in advance if you plan to visit the site to ensure you’ll be able to enter.

How you can help: Although Peru has stepped in to protect these ruins, you should still respect the rules during your visit and not bring in any items that are forbidden. We can all do our part to make sure these temples stay intact as long as possible.

A view of Machu Picchu is spellbinding, but comes at a cost to the environment. Image by Stockphoto24/Getty.
Getting a look at Machu Picchu is spellbinding, but comes at a cost to the environment. Image by Stockphoto24/Getty.

3. Roam the Canals of Venice

Venice has been slowly sinking into the Adriatic over the years, and combined with strange weather patterns and rising sea levels, this means the city often struggles with major floods. Although measures are being taken to combat the rising waters, Venice may well find itself increasingly underwater in the future. If you plan to visit, avoid the rainier season (October through January) and be sure to experience a gondola ride through the famous canals while you can. We recommend staying at the JW Marriott Venice, which opened in 2015.

How you can help: Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about the coty’s slow sinking. But using less energy and generally reducing your carbon footprint can help stop global warming in general, and therefore sea-level rise, at a grassroots level.

Cruise the canals in Venice, Italy. Image by Petegar/Getty.
Cruise the canals in Venice, Italy, while you still can. Image by Petegar/Getty.

4. Hike Glacier National Park in Montana

Thanks once again to global warming, glaciers around the world are melting. This is particularly evident at Glacier National Park, where, back in the 1800s, there were more than 150 glaciers — today, there are just 25 and gloomy predictions say that the park could even be glacier-free by 2030. So head over soon and enjoy the more than 700 miles of hiking trails and the picturesque Hidden Lake, sandwiched between Bearhat Mountain, Clements Mountain and Reynolds Mountain.

How you can help: There are still glimmers of hope. The rise in the use of solar energy combined with efforts like more fuel-efficient technology could help prevent the average global temperature from rising and may slow down the melting of our remaining glaciers.

Hidden Lake at Glacier National Park in Montana. Image by ninicolor/Getty.
Hidden Lake at Glacier National Park in Montana. Image by ninicolor/Getty.

5. Dive the Great Barrier Reef

Bleaching is a problem happening to corals in several areas of the world, especially the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, when the water is too warm and the coral reacts by expelling algae. When this happens, the coral turns white, though it’s still not dead. And while it can survive bleaching and sometimes recover, it’s much more susceptible to diseases and other stressors while in this condition. Overtourism has had a direct impact on bleaching, especially when it leads to garbage and other foreign objects floating around in the water and coming in contact with the reef — divers and snorkelers who touch or accidentally kick it can cause bleached coral to die or weaken.

If you’re hoping to dive in the most famous reef in the world, go soon. It’s estimated that bleaching has killed over 35 percent of the reef, and we’re definitely seeing the consequences: The parrot fish that used to eat the coral have almost disappeared, so you may notice fewer fish when diving there.

How you can help: Besides fighting global warming any way you can, you can also make sure you’re being a good, responsible visitor. If you’re a diver, don’t touch, kick or take pieces of coral or any marine life with you. Keep the water clean by picking up your trash, or better yet, pick up other trash you see out there, too — it may not be yours, but it’s everyone’s planet.

This is what bleached coral looks like. Compare this bone rack to the featured image, which is of healthy coral. Image by Rainer von Brandis/Getty.
This is what bleached coral looks like. Compare this to the image at the very top of this post, which is of healthy coral. Image by Rainer von Brandis/Getty.

What adventures will to go on before it’s too late? Sound off below.

Featured image of healthy coral reef by Colors and Shapes of Underwater World/Getty.

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August 26, 2017 at 02:04PM

New Additions to the Dictionary

New Additions to the Dictionary

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Tweetledenumb: The stupor you feel after being bombarded by so many
outrageously dumb tweets that you don’t have the energy to be
commensurately horrified by any single one.

Melaniacholia: The misery and despair caused by realizing that you
shouldn’t have signed the prenup.

Nirvanka: A transcendent state of peace that comes from knowing that
however ineffectual you are at your job, you cannot be let go because
you are one with your employer.

Kushnesia: A medical condition that makes you unable to remember
anything about yourself when you fill out forms (sexually transmitted,
unlike other inheritable forms of memory loss, cf. below).

Donzheimer’s Disease: A form of temporary memory loss that strikes
juveniles with inept lawyers.

Manaforte Destiny: The uncanny tendency to keep turning up in
suspicious places under self-incriminating circumstances.

Comey-over: A pathetic and vain maneuver to cover up the bare truth
about yourself by blaming someone else.

Mueller Lite: Not the White House’s favorite low-calorie beer.

Deaccsession: To dis an erstwhile friend relentlessly, in the hopes
that he will unfriend you.

Spicerack: A place where you hang your frenemies out to dry.

Scorchamuccied: To get fucking fired by a cocksucker before you were
fucking hired.

Bannona: A bitter, fleshy white fruit that is poisonous to
foreigners.

Macron ’n’ Cheese: An unappetizing dish consisting of a French
dumpling in a weirdly orange cheddar sauce.

The Kellyanne Con Way: An alternative route that promises to get you
to your destination faster but in fact leads you in circles along a
shady road until you want to throw up.

Bushup: Someone formerly reviled but now revered due to the arrival
on the scene of someone even more awful.

McPain: The anguish and confusion you feel when someone you dislike
does something you like.

Flynnstone: To throw subpoenas at someone in order to make him stop
Flynnstonewalling.

Comeuppence: Your just deserts for praying that your boss would be
fired, never dreaming that his replacement could be worse.

Trumfounded: The shock and bewilderment you feel when things get
even worse after you thought that they’d hit rock bottom.

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August 26, 2017 at 02:02PM

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

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Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Overview

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is located in southern Nevada and western Arizona along the Colorado River and Lake Mead, which is the reservoir created along the Colorado River by the Hoover Dam. It also included the smaller Lake Mojave which is created by the Davis Dam. It was the first National Recreation Area to be created by an act of Congress in 1964. It is one of four National Park Service Sites in Nevada and one of twenty-two National Park Service Sites in Arizona.

The primary recreation activity for the site is water sports, as it is one of the few lakes of any size to be found in either Nevada or Arizona. There are 6 boat landings located on Lake Mead and one on Lake Mojave. There are also campgrounds available in the recreation area which you need to register for to use.

The entire area surrounding Lake Mead is a desert. It is actually convergence point of several desert ecosystems: The Mojave Desert, the Great Basin Desert, and the Sonoran Desert. Anyone hiking or camping in the area should take precautions that you would take in any desert environment.

Within the National Recreation Area are several parts which are jointly administered by other agencies. In particular, there are nine official wilderness areas which are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and part of the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument which is also administered by the BLM.

The Hoover Dam visitor center and tours of the Hoover Dam are run by the Bureau of Reclamation.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

How To Get There

The nearest major city to Lake Mead is Las Vegas, Nevada. Driving time from downtown Las Vegas or the strip to the visitor center in Boulder City is approximately 30 minutes depending on traffic. Depending on your starting location, take I-515 or I-215 south to Henderson, NV. From there take highway 93 through Boulder City, NV and you will see signs for the park entrance.

Visitor Center, Fees, Park Stamps, and Hours of Operation

Lake Mead National Recreation Area Passport StampThe Alan Bible Visitor Center is located in Boulder City, Nevada along highway 93. The recreation area itself is open 24-hours a day, whereas the visitor center is open 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The park stamp for the site is located in the Alan Bible Visitor Center.

There is a fee for entering the recreation area, but not for entering the visitor center.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area Visitor Center
Lake Mead National Recreation Area Visitor Center

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August 26, 2017 at 01:12PM

Will Trump Shut Down the Government?

Will Trump Shut Down the Government?

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Next week is tax-reform week. If you’re not familiar with the White
House’s branded weeks, previous Trump policies that received their own
weeks have included infrastructure, workforce development, and energy.
The branded weeks have become a popular joke on social media because
they inevitably get overwhelmed by news events, such as developments in
the Russia investigation, or, more often, by President Donald Trump himself, who is famously unable to maintain a focus on a single issue,
especially one as unexciting to him and his hardcore supporters as tax
policy.

At his speech earlier this week in Phoenix, Arizona—the one that led James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence, to question
Trump’s fitness for office and worry about his control of America’s nuclear arsenal—Trump talked about pardoning Joe Arpaio, the former
sheriff of Maricopa County, who was recently convicted of criminal
contempt for defying an order to stop racially profiling Latinos;
mentioned his desire to end the Senate filibuster; and belittled
Arizona’s two Republican senators before he ever mentioned tax reform,
which ostensibly is the Republican Party’s most cherished legislative
goal for the remainder of the year.

Instead, Trump highlighted another legislative goal he had for the fall:
the construction of a wall on the southern border. “Believe me, if we
have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” he said.

In previous years, there have often been voices in the Republican
Party, especially in the House Freedom Caucus, that would cheer a
Republican willing to threaten a government shutdown over a
conservative-policy concession. But, in Congress, there is nearly
universal agreement among Republicans that they need to avoid a
government shutdown at all costs. “I don’t think a government shutdown
is necessary, and I don’t think most people want to see a government
shutdown, ourselves included,” Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, said, earlier this week, in Oregon.

“Nobody wants a shutdown,” Charlie Dent, the leader of the Republican
moderates in the House, said. “The President made that comment, and to
me it makes absolutely no sense. A shutdown would be in no one’s
interest. And I think it would just be an act of self-destruction and
political malpractice.

Republicans like Ryan and Dent have never been interested in playing
chicken with government-funding deadlines, so their comments aren’t too
surprising. But even the Freedom Caucus was taken aback by Trump’s
threat. A Freedom Caucus source, half-joking about how the President had
staked out a position more extreme than the famously disruptive group of
some forty Republicans, said, “He stepped out ahead of us on that one.
We aren’t quite there.”

But Jim Jordan, a founding member of the group, noted that if a shutdown
occurred it would be the fault of Democrats who refused to support
funding for the wall. “The border-security wall was a central theme that
everyone knew was a central theme and was presented to the American
people, and they voted accordingly. So it has to get done, and, as
members of the Freedom Caucus, we’re committed to it,” he told me.
Though, when I pressed him on the prospect of backing up Trump’s shutdown
threat, he said, “I am willing to go to the mat to get done what the
American people elected us to do.”

Trump’s promises and threats are often hollow. He may never bring up the
threat of a shutdown again. But it is the second time he has made the
specific threat of shutting the government down this fall unless
Congress funds a border wall. (Never mind that he has repeatedly
promised that Mexico would pay for the wall.) In April, during the last
round of government-funding negotiations, Trump fumed when Congress
ignored his request for wall money. “Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’
in September to fix mess!” he tweeted.
He actually seems committed to this threat. If he remains committed to
it, he may be setting up the fall legislative battles as a choice
between funding the border wall or passing tax reform.

Republican leaders see the annual appropriations process, and the
related need to raise the debt ceiling, as giant boulders in the path of
tax reform. Their plan is to navigate around them as quickly and
painlessly as possible while keeping the compass pointed toward tax cuts
on the other side. Trump has announced that he’d like to smash through
the boulders with as much drama as possible.

“Illegal immigration is significantly down,” a source close to Mitch
McConnell told me. “The President should pocket that, sell that as an
accomplishment that he’s responsible for as a result of his rhetoric and
his campaign pledges, and then move on to tax reform.” The source added, “He
seems to have a knack for focussing on the wrong thing at the wrong time.
And the highest priorities right now are the debt limit and funding the
government, which have to be done by September 30th, and then, more
long-term, tax reform. But, you know, making border-wall funding the
hill that you fight and die on is just not productive. It’s sort of
mystifying.”

Trump has never really been excited about the traditional Republican
agenda on tax reform. Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House
communications director, in an interview with me earlier this year—no,
not that one—noted that the Trump campaign had only a half-hearted commitment to tax
reform. “We were in a fourteen-alarm fire, so we weren’t even really
talking about taxes that much, you know what I mean?” Scaramucci said.
“We just had a simplistic tax policy. We were more worried about the
‘Access Hollywood’ tape than we were with what people were going to
think of our tax policy.”

A zero-sum fight in Congress between Trump’s border wall and Republican
tax cuts would nicely encapsulate the current divide in the Republican
Party, between the neo-populists, who want immigration restrictions,
protections for the parts of the welfare state that benefit Trump’s core
voters, and are at least open to higher taxes on the wealthy; and the
neo-libertarians, who are guided by the business community’s interests
and want to cut government and taxes in all forms.

If Trump digs in on this demand, there are a few possible outcomes.
Congress could come up with a grand compromise that includes the money
and avoids a shutdown. In both the House and the Senate, Democratic
votes will be needed to pass a funding bill and a debt-ceiling increase.
Senate Democrats have already said that they will not accept a deal that
includes funding for a wall. “The wall is a nonstarter,” a senior
Democratic Senate aide said. So any compromise would have to acquiesce
to some major Democratic priorities for them to move off that position.

The second possibility, and the one that was most cited by everyone I
talked to this week, is that the House includes money for Trump’s wall,
the Senate then strips it out, and Trump, as he did in April, reluctantly
signs the legislation, and Republicans move onto to tax reform.

But, if Trump follows through on his threat, vetoes the bill, and
precipitates a shutdown, the fallout could easily destroy any chances at
passing tax reform, which is already an extremely complicated endeavor.
Speaking to reporters Friday at the White House, Treasury Secretary
Steve Mnuchin said, “I can assure you that the President’s No. 1
objective is now to get tax reform done.” Next week, we’ll find out how
true that is.

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August 26, 2017 at 12:24AM

The Exotic Pets of New York City

The Exotic Pets of New York City

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Article 161 of the New York City Health Code provides a list of the many animals, classified as “wild,” that cannot be kept in the city, among them “all bears,” “all bats,” “all predatory or large birds,” and “all non-human primates.” Be it an elephant or a ferret, a tiger or a pot-bellied pig, any exotic animal—i.e., anything outside the realm of domesticated dogs, cats, hamsters, parakeets, and so on—cannot legally be kept by private owners in the city without a special permit. But that doesn’t stop people from keeping them.

When the photographer Matias Wieland Oliveira wanted to do a series on the exotic pets in the city, he turned to social media, and particularly to the dating app Tinder, where he created a profile asking anyone who had an exotic pet, or knew someone with an exotic pet, to get in touch. (Tinder, incidentally, recently asked its users to stop putting selfies taken with tigers in their profiles, citing animal-cruelty concerns. “Posing with the king of the jungle doesn’t make you one,” the company’s statement said.) Oliveira was flooded with responses, mostly from people with secondhand knowledge of animals owned by friends or neighbors. He estimates that only about one in twenty pet owners he contacted ended up agreeing to a shoot. “When they realized what I wanted, they closed their doors,” he told me.

But he was eventually invited into some homes, where he found not only a wide variety of of exotic pets—birds from the Amazon, a breeder’s large collection of snakes, a diabetic savannah cat named Raja, a peacock named Dexter—but also a menagerie of owners, some with the proper permits and some not, but all with elaborate and eccentric life styles built around providing the unusual care, feeding, and equipment needed to keep these creatures in the city. The snake breeder, who lived with his family, had a whole bookshelf of Tupperware boxes containing snakes; his mother “wasn’t happy about the situation at first,” Oliveira told me, “but then she accepted it.” The owner of the peacock had, for a time, caged off about half of her apartment for the bird, although she later took the cage down and let Dexter roam.

Oliveira’s series is called “Peacocking,” partly after Dexter and partly after a term from pickup-artist parlance, describing a man who dresses outlandishly in order to attract the attention of women. Having a bookcase full of snakes might not be a seduction tactic, but there is certainly an element of showy display, and of self-assertion, involved in keeping unusual creatures. “The people I talked to were all very proud of their animals,” Oliveira said. “It’s a way to be different—a way to show off.”

In Oliveira’s photos, though, pet owners are only offscreen presences; it’s the animals themselves, and the sometimes unsettling incongruity of their urban life styles, that captures his attention. Dexter and Raja, Oliveira told me, both had beds shaped like ornate thrones, but Oliveira captures Dexter pecking around on a living-room carpet, where his green feathers complement the furniture. Raja, meanwhile, looks a lot like a regular house cat on a back-yard porch, except lean, spotted, and big enough to slay your neighbor’s poodle. A birth defect has left a lizard named Shyvana without a tail. Despite her scales and spines, she seems vulnerable and exposed standing on a cutting board next to a bristling array of kitchen knives. The water dragon Yoda, meanwhile, is shown with just his nose poking up above the water in a tank that has a bright-orange electric cable snaking through it. Oliveira’s dry caption in the slide show above notes that the species goes underwater to find safety.

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August 25, 2017 at 11:06PM

Why Does Donald Trump Like Sheriff Joe Arpaio?

Why Does Donald Trump Like Sheriff Joe Arpaio?

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President Trump had little to offer that was specific or coherent in the
rambling, hate-filled speech
that he delivered in Phoenix this week—the one that he later assessed in a self-congratulatory tweet as
“enthusiastic, dynamic, and fun.” The speech lurched between schoolyard
bragging (“I live in a bigger, more beautiful apartment” than the
“élite” and “I live in the White House, too, which is really great”),
the usual whining about reporters (“sick,” “bad,” “dishonest” people),
and insults to Arizona’s two Republican senators, one of whom is
currently battling brain cancer. The rhetorical flourishes borrowed from
Fascist tropes, with their distinctive mix of vague language and
unmistakable menace: the virtuous “we” and the unspecified “they,” who
are trying to take away “our” customs and culture; the “thugs,” who
protest the leader’s vision of America.

But there were a few moments when Trump got very particular, and one of
them was when he chose to express his keen admiration for Joe Arpaio,
the former sheriff of Maricopa County. In July, Arpaio was convicted of
criminal contempt of court, for defying an earlier court order to stop
detaining people solely on suspicion of their immigration status. In
Phoenix, Trump hinted that he would pardon Arpaio. He said that he
wasn’t going to cause controversy by issuing a pardon then and there,
but Sheriff Joe “can feel good,” he pledged, and was “going to be just
fine.” Trump is likely a fan of Arpaio’s because Arapio is a fan of
his—an early supporter who also went all in for birtherism, at one point
sending members of a so-called Cold Case Posse to Hawaii to dig up
something incriminating about Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

But Trump probably also likes Arpaio because the former sheriff
represents in miniature what the President would like to be more
maximally—a successful American authoritarian. Earlier this month, in a
conversation with Fox News, Trump called Arpaio “an outstanding sheriff”
and “a great American patriot.” It’s worth considering what it takes, in
Trump’s view, to deserve such tributes. Arpaio, who served as the
sheriff of Maricopa County, which encompasses Phoenix, from 1993 until
he was voted out of office, in 2016, has a long-standing reputation for
flouting civil rights, particularly those of Latinos.

In 2011, an investigation by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division found that Arpaio’s sheriff’s department engaged in egregious racial
profiling in its traffic stops and discrimination in its jailing
practices. In Maricopa County, Latino drivers were four to nine times
more likely to be stopped than “similarly situated non-Latino drivers,”
and about a fifth of traffic stops, most of which involved Latino
drivers, violated Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable
seizures. Sheriff’s department officers punished Latino inmates who had
difficulty understanding orders in English by locking down their pods,
putting them in solitary confinement, and refusing to replace their
soiled sheets and clothes. The investigation found that sheriff’s
department officers addressed Latino inmates as “wetbacks,” “Mexican
bitches,” “fucking Mexicans,” and “stupid Mexicans.”

Arpaio, throughout his tenure, specialized in meting out theatrical
punishments both petty and cruel. He required that detainees wear
old-fashioned, black-and-white striped uniforms and pink underwear,
presumably for the dollop of extra humiliation such costuming offered.
He brought back chain gangs, including for women and juveniles. He
housed detainees outdoors, under Army-surplus tents, in Phoenix
temperatures that regularly soar well above a hundred degrees. “I put
them up next to the dump, the dog pound, the waste-disposal plant,”
Arpaio told my colleague William Finnegan, who
wrote a Profile of Arpaio, in 2009. The sheriff called detainees
“criminals” when they had not been convicted and once referred to his
jail as “a concentration camp.” Finnegan described a federal
investigation that found that

deputies had used stun guns on prisoners already strapped into a
“restraint chair.” The family of one man who died after being forced
into the restraint chair was awarded more than six million dollars as
the result of a suit filed in federal court. The family of another man
killed in the restraint chair got $8.25 million in a pre-trial
settlement. (This deal was reached after the discovery of a
surveillance video that showed fourteen guards beating, shocking, and
suffocating the prisoner, and after the sheriff’s office was accused
of discarding evidence, including the crushed larynx of the deceased.)

Like Trump, Arpaio regards reporters, activists, and critics of his
policies as personal enemies as well as enemies of the people. The
Justice Department investigation found that his department had “engaged
in a pattern or practice of retaliating against individuals for
exercising their First Amendment right to free speech.” It had “arrested
individuals without cause, filed meritless complaints against the
political adversaries of Sheriff Arpaio, and initiated unfounded civil
lawsuits and investigations against individuals critical of MCSO
policies and practices.” As Finnegan wrote, when the Phoenix New
Times
ran an investigation of Arpaio’s real-estate dealings that
included his home address, the paper received a “broad subpoena,
demanding, among other things, the Internet records of all visitors to
its Web site in the previous two and a half years.” Sheriff’s deputies
then “staged late-night raids on the homes of Michael Lacey and James
Larkin, executives of Village Voice Media, which owns the New Times.
The deputies arrested both men for, they said, violating grand-jury
secrecy. (The county attorney declined to prosecute, and it turned out
that the subpoenas were issued unlawfully.)” Local activists who
applauded when someone made critical remarks about Arpaio at a Board of
Supervisors meeting were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.
Arpaio had a private investigator follow the wife of a judge who had
ruled against him. And so on.

Plenty of Maricopa County’s residents evidently liked Arpaio’s
“colorful” reputation as America’s toughest sheriff. Crime rates in the
county decreased during some years of his tenure, though crime rates
declined across the country, too, so it would be difficult to ascribe
the reduction to Arpaio’s policing practices. And his “toughness” came
at considerable cost to the taxpayers, who have had to pay for the tens
of millions of dollars it has cost the county to respond to lawsuits
against the former sheriff. Meanwhile, reporting by the AP and several Arizona media outlets revealed that Arpaio’s department, preoccupied with going after illegal immigration, had failed to properly investigate some four hundred sex crimes over a three-year period in the mid-two-thousands.

Arpaio is scheduled to be sentenced for the contempt-of-court charge on
October 5th, and he could serve up to six months in prison. If Trump
chooses to pardon him, it will be a gift to the white nationalists. But
it will also signal a broad-brush contempt for fundamental rights in
this country. As Paul Charlton, a former U.S. Attorney in Arizona, told
the Washington Post, “If you pardon that kind of conduct, if you
forgive that behavior, you are acknowledging that racist conduct in law
enforcement is worth the kind of mercy that underlies a pardon—and it’s
not. And it’s an abuse of the President’s discretion. It’s an injustice,
and speaks volumes about the President’s disregard for civil rights if
this pardon takes place.” That’s true, but Trump’s praise for Arpaio
speaks loudly already.

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August 25, 2017 at 10:16PM