This election’s first Presidential debate will be held on September 26th, the anniversary of the first televised Presidential debate, between Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy, in 1960. Nixon and Kennedy met in a bare CBS studio in Chicago, without an audience; the event was broadcast, live, by CBS, NBC, and ABC. Each candidate made an eight-minute opening statement and a three-minute closing statement. The rules were the result of strenuous negotiating. The very scheduling required Congress to temporarily suspend an F.C.C. regulation granting equal time to all Presidential candidates (there were at least fourteen). Much of the negotiation involved seemingly little things. Nixon wanted no reaction shots; he wanted viewers to see only the guy who was talking.
To be fair, it’s not hard to understand why it took the G.O.P. and much of the press so long, too long, to take Donald Drumpf’s candidacy seriously. Many times before, he flirted with running, and, each time, he quit. His bids were stunts. Still, he learned something from those stunts, and the distance between his earlier bids and this one suggests that, while much in American politics has changed, Drumpf has not.
So many people have died in the Syrian war that the United Nations has given up counting — almost 500,000 is now the best guess. The war has also produced more than 4 million refugees, and more than 6 million people are displaced within Syria, a crisis that is straining neighboring hosts, roiling European politics, and creating the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. ISIS meanwhile is inventing new ways to horrify the world as it seeks to govern parts of Syria and Iraq and export its terror around the world.
Now we finally know what Bernie Sanders means by “democratic socialism.” Speaking on his political philosophy at Georgetown yesterday, the Vermont senator and Democratic Presidential candidate opened with a long invocation of Franklin Roosevelt and the social protections that the New Deal created: minimum wages, retirement benefits, banking regulation, the forty-hour workweek. Roosevelt’s opponents attacked all these good things as “socialism,” Sanders reminded his listeners.
The British historian Arnold Toynbee warned historians against trying to understand the present—let alone imagining what historians would say about current events in the future. Toynbee compared this to the man with his nose pressed against the mirror trying to see his whole body. So, any historian commenting on how we will view President Barack Obama’s legacy in the years ahead is on uncertain ground.
At the end of this month, the Supreme Court will reckon with execution by lethal injection in Glossip v. Gross, the case of Oklahoma death-row inmates who are challenging the three-drug protocol that the state has chosen to carry out death sentences. In the history of capital punishment in America, the 2010 case of Jeffrey Landrigan seems inconsequential, but it is worth revisiting now because it shows how hard the conservative majority has tried to avoid grappling with the grisly realities of this execution method and, really, with the death penalty in general.
Amid heated discussion concerning the intentions of Iran’s leaders—Are they capable of real compromise over the country’s nuclear program? Can they be trusted to honor any eventual deal? Are they permanent ideological adversaries of America?—quieter shifts in Iranian politics have escaped notice. But in many ways it’s the mundane activities of everyday Iranians that could determine the long-term future not just of Iran's nuclear program, but of the country as a whole. Iran is developing a new kind of politics, located not at the barricades but in culture and ordinary life.
For about a century, economic inequality has been measured on a scale, from zero to one, known as the Gini index and named after an Italian statistician, Corrado Gini, who devised it in 1912, when he was twenty-eight and the chair of statistics at the University of Cagliari. If all the income in the world were earned by one person and everyone else earned nothing, the world would have a Gini index of one. If everyone in the world earned exactly the same income, the world would have a Gini index of zero. The United States Census Bureau has been using Gini’s measurement to calculate income inequality in America since 1947. Between 1947 and 1968, the U.S. Gini index dropped to .386, the lowest ever recorded. Then it began to climb.
Pop Quiz: What’s the difference between Al Qaeda and ISIL? Answer: Less than you might think. Many questions persist about the attacks in Paris last week, not least the relationship of the attackers with Al Qaeda and the Islamic State group (ISIL). In truth, both organizations encourage jihadi attacks; on that issue, their commonality is more important than their differences. It now seems clear that one or both of the brothers who attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, had some years ago traveled to Yemen for training from the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
Last week’s sentencing of Mathew Martoma for insider trading may signal the end of the SEC’s efforts to bring down his former boss, Steven A. Cohen, but it will almost certainly guarantee another round of debate over the legal regime that has sent Martoma behind bars for the next nine years. Like other laws that attempt to maintain a spirit of equity, insider trading is a legal distinction that rests on a moral misgiving. It identifies a way of gaining information for a financial transaction that seems (there is no better word for it) unfair. In the case of Martoma, his crime was convincing doctors to provide him confidential information about drug trials involving two companies in which SAC Capital, the hedge fund he worked for, had made a $700 million investment.
Why you should not be surprised when long shots, miracles and other extraordinary events occur--even when the same six winning lottery numbers come up in two successive drawings