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2018-05-26T02:04:24.549Z
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What We’re Following

Summit Saved? Just a day after he suddenly canceled his planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump responded warmly to a conciliatory statement from Kim, suggesting the summit could still take place as planned. The back-and-forth between the two leaders suggests a mutual attempt to prove that the other party wants the meeting more. National Security Adviser John Bolton is also shaping Trump’s strategy—perhaps for the worse. And on top of the confusion, history suggests that both Trump and Kim could be dangerously unaware of the true stakes of their nuclear standoff.

Holding to Account: The former producer Harvey Weinstein surrendered to New York City authorities on charges of rape and criminal sexual conduct—a starkly concrete development in a story that’s so far been told “in a kind of haze,” Megan Garber writes. In her new film, The Tale, the director Jennifer Fox explores a similar haze of long-buried trauma, interrogating her memories of a sexual relationship she had with an adult man when she was 13.

College Try: Admissions officers at elite schools are struggling to sort through a growing application pool in which impressive grades and test scores are more common—and therefore less meaningful—than ever. And an increasing number of students with autism are setting their sights on college, but find there are few resources to support them when they get there.

Rosa Inocencio Smith


Snapshot

The decades-old dispute between Israelis and Palestinians seems to be at a new low these days. Two American-born writers – an Israeli author and a Muslim journalist – join editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg and global editor Kathy Gilsinan to grapple with the bleak state of affairs. Yossi Klein Halevi is the author of the new book Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor. Wajahat Ali recently traveled to the West Bank to write “A Muslim Among Israeli Settlers” for the June 2018 issue of The Atlantic. The four discuss how we got here and what paths forward remain.

Links

- “A Muslim Among Israeli Settlers” (Wajahat Ali, June 2018 Issue)
- "Settlers in the 'Most Contentious Place on Earth'" (Wajahat Ali, May 10, 2018)
- “The Real Dispute Driving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” (Yossi Klein Halevi, May 14, 2018)
- Yossi Klein Halevi joined Jeffrey Goldberg on The Atlantic Interview (May 1, 2018)
- “Jerusalem’s Ramadan Is Different This Year” (Emma Green, May 18, 2018)
- “The Coming Storm in Israel” (Neri Zilber, May 11, 2018)
- “Iran vs. Israel: Is a Major War Ahead?” (Avi Issacharoff, May 11, 2018)
- “Celebration in Jerusalem, Bloodshed in Gaza” (Emma Green, May 14, 2018)

In one of the loveliest scenes of Book Club, the newest addition to the Diane Keaton oeuvre, our beloved matriarch sits across from her dashing pilot paramour (Andy Garcia) as the two dine with the hilariously CGI-ed Santa Monica sunset behind them. Their banter is sweet, the current between them electric even though the recently widowed Diane had been apprehensive about returning to the world of dating. When the pilot asks Diane about her first kiss, she becomes suddenly transfixed.

As Diane stares off into the distance, she breathily recalls the moment she shared with a boy named Terry Sanders, who kissed her with passion and urgency even though neither knew what they were doing. Diane seems to blush with her whole body as she tells the story, fluttering her hands up to her own face as she describes the way Terry held it in his awkward, passionate grip. The pilot watches Diane with awe, eventually joking that he wishes he had been kissed by Terry Sanders. Diane smiles, returning once again to the man in front of her.

That is precisely what a perfect kiss does: It transports—in the moment, it whisks the people sharing it to a place only they inhabit; afterward, its memory carries them back. In a Friday piece for GQ, writer Sophia Benoit calls into question the teleporting power of the kiss:

The best parts of kissing are, indisputably, the nonkissing parts. The most memorable part of a kiss is what...

-Written by Elaine Godfrey (@elainejgodfrey)


Today in 5 Lines
  • President Trump seemed to suggest the United States’ historic summit with North Korea is back on the table, telling reporters that the White House is “talking to them now.” Trump cancelled the meeting in a letter to Kim Jong Un on Thursday.

  • During his commencement address at the U.S. Naval Academy, Trump praised efforts to boost defense spending and told graduates that “we are not going to apologize for America.”

  • Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein surrendered himself to authorities in New York City, where he was arraigned on charges of rape and committing a criminal sexual act. Weinstein was later released after paying $1 million bail.

  • District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III pushed the trial date for Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, from July 10 to July 24.

  • Subtropical Storm Alberto is expected to bring rainfall and flash flooding to parts of the eastern U.S. Gulf Coast over the Memorial Day weekend.


Today on The Atlantic
  • Triaging College Applicants: There’s a merit crisis at some of America’s most selective schools. Now, officials are asking: What metrics should be used in the admissions process when students have both outstanding test scores and grade-point averages? (Jeffrey Selingo)

  • A Historic—and Secular?—Vote: In a referendum on Friday, Irish citizens are voting on whether to repeal the country’s strict abortion laws. But in this largely Catholic country, faith doesn’t seem to be playing a major role. (Yasmeen Serhan)

  • When History Rhymes:...

A giant glowing puppet in Australia, a cat rescued in Colombia, lava flows in Hawaii, Ramadan observed in India, devastation in Damascus, a balanced taxi in New York City, biking into the river in Germany, bats in India, and much more.

On Sunday, the president tweeted out a message that could have plunged the country into a constitutional crisis or could have meant nothing at all. It was awkwardly worded and spotted through with errant capitalization. “I hereby demand,” it read, “and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes.” Then, as if for good measure, it went on, “ - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”

For about 24 hours after the tweet went out, nobody—perhaps not even within the White House and the Justice Department—knew what was going to happen next. On its face, the message was a command for the Justice Department to place itself at the president’s beck and call with regard to an investigation in which the president himself was a subject. But the language was vague. And this would not have been the first time that President Trump issued an ultimatum before forgetting about the matter the next day.

As it happened, the president did not forget about his Sunday message. After a Monday meeting with Justice Department officials, the White House announced that the department would expand an ongoing internal investigation to include the suspected “infiltration” of the campaign, and Trump’s allies in Congress would receive a briefing on a related matter.

But the time between the tweet and the White House announcement was a strange period in which...

At 1 a.m. on the Wednesday before the release of Pusha T’s Daytona, Kanye West called Pusha T and said he had a new album cover for him. Pusha and West, the record’s producer, had already settled on an image, but last-minute inspiration had struck, and West was insisting on an overhaul. Securing rights to the new art would cost $85,000, which West would pay. Pusha agreed.

The image is of Whitney Houston’s bathroom. The countertop in the photo is a mess, and in that mess is what’s understood to be signs of cocaine use. In the mirror is the lurid flash of someone’s camera, obscured by clouds of pinkish-gray film, like oxidation or grime, that were absent from the original picture when it was published in a 2006 tabloid under a headline about Houston’s “drug den.” Houston would die of accidental drowning in a bathtub six years later.

The 41-year-old Pusha T is famous for the creative ways and ruthless manner in which he raps about cocaine. His early years of dealing drugs have loomed huge in his lyrics, whether in the duo Clipse, in his solo career, or in his many excellent collaborations with West. Discerning one possible meaning of the cover is, thus, easy. Look at the other side of cocaine rap, it says. Look at the cost. West has recently talked about his opioid addiction, too, and perhaps he conceives of Houston as a warning to celebrities like himself of how mortal they really are—and...

“This moves from the court of public opinion into an actual courtroom. That is super cathartic for a bunch of the survivors, or even survivors who are not necessarily victimized by him.”

That was Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, commenting on an event that has, over the past several months, seemed to toggle in its potential between the inevitable and the impossible: the arrest of Harvey Weinstein. On Friday, both against all odds and in fulfillment of them, the long-imagined event came to pass. The “disgraced mogul,” as Weinstein is so often euphemized, turned himself in to authorities in New York City—one of several jurisdictions investigating him for sexual misconduct.

The arrest of Harvey Weinstein was a seizure that seized in every sense: It shook. It disturbed the status quo. “More than seven months after sexual misconduct allegations involving Harvey Weinstein first surfaced publicly, the disgraced mogul has finally been charged with rape,” The Hollywood Reporter summed things up, in its initial announcement of the news, and the finally was telling. It was an arrest in which hazy questions—about justice, about accountability, about celebrity, about impunity, about American culture’s messy tangling of that which is immoral with that which is illegal—collided with stark facts: two charges of rape, one in the first degree and one in the third, against Weinstein. A charge, too, of a first-degree criminal sex act. Bond set, by prior negotiation, at $10 million, with Weinstein paying $1 million...

Why did the Trump administration cancel its much-hyped nuclear summit with North Korea? And why the confusing semi-backtrack the following day, in which Trump embraced North Korea’s “warm and productive statement” regretting the cancellation, and left the door open to a meeting he’d ditched barely 24 hours before? The answer lies in the toxic interplay between Donald Trump’s instincts and John Bolton’s. Each man’s foreign-policy views are dangerous enough in and of themselves. Put them together and you have the perfect cocktail for the decimation of American power.

Bolton is a Manichean in the tradition of his hero, Barry Goldwater. He has spent his career depicting America’s adversaries—the Soviet Union, Cuba, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and these days, Iran and North Korea—as evil. He denies that they have any legitimate security concerns. He abhors compromise. He demands maximum American economic, political and, if necessary, military pressure. He basic negotiating posture is: Once you give in on everything, then we’ll start talking.

But while Bolton’s Manicheanism is dangerous, it’s also targeted. Bolton wants to turn the screws on Iran and North Korea. He doesn’t want to turn the screws on American allies like Germany, France, South Korea, and Japan—except to the degree that they resist a hardline posture towards North Korea and Iran. Bolton has little use for international law but he likes America’s alliances.

Trump is different. He doesn’t divide the world into virtuous, pro-American regimes, which the United States should support, and villainous anti-American ones, which the United States should...

On Friday morning, President Trump gave the commencement speech at the U.S. Naval Academy’s graduation ceremony in Annapolis, Maryland. Among his messages to the 1,042 graduates, the president said that the country has begun “the great rebuilding of the United States military,” and argued that “we are witnessing the great reawakening of the American spirit and of American might.” This was his second time addressing graduates from one of the nation’s military schools: Last year, he gave a speech at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s ceremony.

Here, a full transcript of his remarks, as delivered.


Thank you. Thank you. Hello, midshipmen, hello. Let me say to the entire brigade—please be at ease—enjoy yourselves, because we are all here to celebrate the amazing class of 2018. Amazing job. Thank you. Really something. Admiral Carter, thank you for that wonderful introduction and for your leadership, an incredible job you have done at this storied academy. And thank you, Captain Chadwick, for your dedication and service. Thank you to Undersecretary Modly, Admiral Richardson, General Walters, for joining us today. Thanks also to Senator Wicker, Congressman Wittman, Congressman Valadao.

I want to recognize the entire brigade for a tremendous year. This has been a spectacular year for you. I have heard all about your achievements. And a very special recognition for the midshipmen fourth class, you are plebs no more. To all of the distinguished faculty and staff, to the local sponsor families, and most importantly, to the parents and grandparents and family members who have...

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un are both, in relative terms, rookies at the arts of diplomacy. That might explain why the state of American-North Korean diplomacy these days so resembles an awkward adolescent flirtation.

First came the jilted-lover tone of the letter that Trump sent Thursday. Then came a conciliatory statement from North Korea, and by Friday morning, the president was saying that summit might go off as planned on June 12. Defense Secretary James Mattis even dismissed the whole thing a so much teenaged drama, calling it “the usual give and take.”

At the core, this give and take—usual or not—is rooted in a dynamic that the poet Rick Nielsen identified in his 1979 masterpiece “I Want You to Want Me.” Both Trump and Kim badly want a summit with the other, Kim because getting the U.S. to sit down offers his government legitimacy (and perhaps because he believes Trump could be easily manipulated in a face-to-face negotiation), and Trump because he wants to demonstrate that he succeeded in forcing North Korea to the negotiating table where his predecessors could not.

Even more badly than wanting the summit, however, both men want the other one to want it even more than them. Hence Pyongyang’s fiery statement Thursday, calling Vice President Pence stupid and reminding the U.S. of the North Korean nuclear arsenal. By acting out, North Korea wanted to imply that Washington wanted the meeting more. Trump returned the favor. In the first...

Nearly one year after hosting Russian President Vladimir Putin at Versailles, French President Emmanuel Macron went to St. Petersburg. The French leader, who is addressing the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum Friday, held direct talks with his Russian counterpart Thursday, during which the two discussed the crisis in Ukraine, the war in Syria, and, perhaps most pressingly, how to salvage the Iran nuclear deal both France and Russia are party to.

Such a visit would have been awkward just two months ago. At that time, tensions between Moscow and Europe had reached Cold War-era heights after a former Russian spy was poisoned with a rare nerve agent on British soil—the kind of attack the U.K. and its allies alleged only Russia could have pulled off, despite repeated denials from Moscow. The row ultimately resulted in the expulsion of more than 100 Russian diplomats from capitals across Europe and North America. Russia issued tit-for-tat expulsions in response.

But that was then—this is now. President Trump’s recent decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the Iran deal is formally known, has put Europe between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, it could resign itself to watching its signature diplomatic achievement crumble. On the other, it could attempt to salvage the deal, even if it means exposing its businesses to U.S. sanctions. So far, European leaders appear to have opted for the latter, committing themselves to...

“The body remembers everything, it really does,” says the imperious riding teacher Mrs. G (Frances Conroy) to her former student, Jennifer Fox (Laura Dern), as the latter guides a horse around its paddock with ease. The Tale is a film about how right, and how wrong, that statement is. The real-life Fox, who spent decades as documentary filmmaker, wrote and directed this searing investigation into her own memories of a sexual relationship she had with a grown man when she was 13 years old. The Tale, which is Fox’s narrative feature debut, visualizes the way the director’s recollections had bent around the disturbing realities of her past. By jumping back and forth in time, Fox works to piece together how her teenage self turned a troubling affair into something comforting, and considers the aftershocks that can result from unearthing buried trauma.

The Tale was a hit when it premiered at the Sundance film festival in January; it got quickly picked up by HBO Films and will air Saturday night on HBO. Debuting as it did when the #MeToo movement was continuing to gather steam in Hollywood, Fox’s movie is an intensely relevant work that examines how the dark dynamics of authority play into sexual abuse—particularly within the world of athletics, where the trust between coaches and students can be easily exploited. Just as pertinent, though, is the movie’s efforts to understand how memory gets papered over, and how people...

In October 2017, 250 square miles burned in Northern California, destroying 6,000 homes and businesses and killing 44 people. For now, the cause of these fires has not been determined. The private utility company Pacific Gas and Electric, known to Californians as PG&E, is under investigation. Total damage for the Northern California wildfires comes to $9 billion. PG&E has started stockpiling cash.

In California, this is a familiar story. Three years ago, in February of 2015, one-third of the houses in my remote neighborhood in Eastern California burned down. Here, before the fire, 100 houses lay scattered across the leeward flank of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The people who live here spend their time walking steep roads, listening to crickets, chasing mule deer out of the garden, and looking over a desert valley below. Days after the fire, my neighbor, Cassie, wasn’t doing any of these things. Instead, she stood inside her smoking foundation. Tall and easygoing with freckles on her nose, Cassie had come home from college that winter to sift rubble with her mom and dad. Under different circumstances, we might have hiked together or skated frozen ponds. I used to carpool with her family to school, and I remember her house, wooden and gorgeous and overlooking a ravine from which flames later rose.

We wore rubber gloves to sort the rubble, but there was not much rubble to sort. The air smelled of sulfur, and mostly only dust lingered, as if a great...

For generations, two numbers have signaled whether a student could hope to get into a top college: his or her standardized test score and his or her grade-point average.

In the past 15 years, though, these lodestars have come to mean less and less. The SAT has been redesigned twice in that time, making it difficult for admissions officers to assess, for instance, whether last year’s uptick in average scores was the result of better students or just a different test. What’s more, half of American teenagers now graduate high school with an A average, according to a recent study. With application numbers at record highs, highly selective colleges are forced to make impossible choices, assigning a fixed number of slots to a growing pool of students who, each year, are harder to differentiate using these two long-standing metrics.

Eighty percent of American colleges accept more than half of their applicants, but at the country’s most selective schools, there is something of a merit crisis: As test scores and GPAs hold less sway, admissions offices are searching for other, inevitably more subjective metrics.

Each year, the professional association representing college-admissions officers asks its members about the top factors they consider when making decisions about applications. Grades, test scores, and the strength of one’s high-school curriculum still remain at the top of that list. But other criteria are playing a larger role than they used to: Students’ “demonstrated interest” in enrolling at a particular school, as measured by...

A couple years ago, I was taking a swim with my very pregnant friend when I asked her if it was hard to keep straight all of the doctors’ health recommendations for expectant mothers.

Not really. For practically every symptom, she said, their recommendations were roughly the same: “Take a walk, eat a yogurt.”

It was another example of the Cult of Yogurt. Even though some varieties have more sugar than a Twinkie, perhaps no other man-made food is so often recommended by medical professionals—and to treat such a wide variety of ailments.

Whenever I’ve been prescribed antibiotics, I’ve always been told to eat a yogurt so that the antibiotics don’t eat up all the “good” bacteria in my system and leave me with a yeast infection. (Recently, I interviewed a doctor who suggested this is bogus; there’s no way for the yogurt cultures to make it all the way down there.)

Breath bad? According to a 2005 study, you should eat six ounces of yogurt a day. If you, like “87 percent of Americans, suffer from digestive issues like irregularity,” have some yogurt and you’ll soon be like Jamie Lee Curtis, spritely and unclogged with the help of Activia. (As a later FTC complaint showed, this was not quite true either.)

But now, a pair of new studies suggest there might be something about yogurt after all. In the female subjects, at least, it appears to help with markers of inflammation—and that, in turn, can keep other types...

President Trump spent his early Wednesday morning, as he does many mornings, on Twitter. This time, he chose to weigh in on the “Criminal Deep State” and the claims that it embedded a spy in his presidential campaign as part of the federal investigation into Russia’s election interference.

“They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before!” he wrote.

Much has been written in recent days about Trump’s “new” strategy to discredit the Russia investigation. The president has been attacking both the investigators in the Russia probe and the news organizations that cover the investigation, all in an attempt to persuade the public that the probe has been tainted by bias from the start. The frequency of these attacks may be climbing, but Trump’s tactics have actually remained remarkably consistent—beginning before he even took office. “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public,” Trump tweeted on January 11, 2017, referring to a dossier published by BuzzFeed that alleged collusion between his campaign team and Russia. “One last shot at me,” he added. “Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

The rhetoric, while normal from this president, is norm-shattering. More puzzling, however, is the extent to which Trump has instigated a Republican-led war on intelligence agencies.

Republicans, touting themselves as the party of law and order, have long aligned themselves with the...

When President Donald Trump canceled his June summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, he told him in a letter that the past few days of “tremendous anger and open hostility” had made it “inappropriate” for the two to meet and discuss denuclearization. “You talk about your nuclear capabilities,” Trump wrote, “but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.” The language echoed a January tweet in which the president wrote, “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

The North issued a statement in short order emphasizing a willingness to “sit down with the United States any time, in any format, to resolve the problems.” Yet it’s getting harder to see how Trump and Kim can make the mutual accommodations necessary for diplomacy to succeed. In fact, beneath the surface, the current situation resembles the prelude to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, which historical research continues to show was much more dangerous than anyone knew at the time. If the Trump-Kim summit stays canceled, and saber-rattling returns as the dominant mode of communication, the odds of military crisis will rise dramatically. And, as the Cuba experience shows, once begun, a military crisis involving nuclear weapons will almost inevitably bring lots of surprisesones that could make the shocking twists and turns of the summit buildup look pedestrian by comparison.

Daniel Ellsberg thought...

DUBLIN—Millions of Irish people are voting today on whether to liberalize or maintain the country’s abortion laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world. Polls opened in the early morning, but the results of the referendum won’t be announced until Saturday. Regardless of how people vote, Ireland’s relationship to abortion has already changed. “We’re having conversations now that we have never had before in my country,” Fiona de Londras, a professor of global legal studies at the University of Birmingham, told me.

As voters prepared to cast their votes, it seemed there wasn’t a street pole in Dublin without a sign on it about the referendum. Also mingling in the streets were Irish expats. Thousands of them, it was estimated, would be flying home from around the world to participate in what has been dubbed a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Of the 1.4 million Irish citizens living abroad, 40,000 are eligible to vote in Irish elections—and those who are must do so in person.

When I spoke with Deirdre Ni Chloscai last week, she was preparing to travel from New York to her native Ireland. She told me she almost didn’t make it back for the vote. “Only two weeks ago, one of my friends told me about the ‘Abroad For Yes’ page and I saw that there were so many people getting home to vote and getting sponsored to go home to vote,” she said. “So I put up a GoFundMe page and was lucky...

A senior White House official said on Thursday that while it “wasn’t helpful” for the North Koreans to call the vice president of the United States a “political dummy” and threaten America with nuclear war, it wasn’t rhetoric alone that doomed Donald Trump’s planned nuclear summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

Instead, speaking to reporters in a background briefing, the official aired a range of grievances about the Trump administration’s dealings with North Korea in the lead-up to the June 12 meeting—only some of which had been previously disclosed. They amounted to evidence of “a profound lack of good faith.”

The summit could have been canceled for any number of other reasons—one being that the U.S. might ultimately have surmised from conversations with the North Koreans that a summit would have been a waste of time. But the briefing offered at least the first sustained case from the administration about why it pulled out.

North Korea, the official noted, had left “a trail of broken promises” since March 8, when Trump announced his intention to meet with Kim. That announcement came after a South Korean delegation to Washington informed the president that the North Korean leader was committed to denuclearization and willing to halt his nuclear and missile tests while U.S.-South Korea military exercises proceeded. First North Korea backtracked on the military exercises by furiously objecting last week to a routine joint air-force drill, the official noted. Then, after agreeing during U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s latest visit...