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Naturally, the article that broke the Kundera story–a weird collage of historical reconstruction and literary innuendo–became a story in its own right, and the outcry about Kundera became a meta-outcry: how could allegations touching a nerve so central to Czech history be slapped together for the delectation of a tabloid readership? Serious writers and historians were aghast, and many wrote pieces trying to show why, if Kundera had betrayed someone to the police, the political climate of the 1950s might mitigate his guilt. The story’s relative longevity was sustained by Kundera’s refusal to offer more than a summary denial, one that unfortunately tended to raise more questions than it answered. It’s impossible to reach a final conclusion about the episode without a more forthcoming statement from him, because the degree of blame he might bear is so deeply tied to his motives at the time and how much he knew about the Western agent–when, and if, he may have given his name to the police. At the same time, the best intentions of journalists trying to give Kundera the benefit of the doubt by cleaving to the subjunctive in writing about the allegations have usually collapsed beyond the first wordy sentences: among the many Czech articles that I read on this subject, including those defending Kundera, only a handful stubbornly avoided the conclusiveness of the past tense. Ironically, as more writers joined the scrum of Kundera’s defense, the more tightly his name became associated with the episode and the less credible his denial appeared. — “The Kundera Conundrum: Kundera, Respekt and Contempt,” Jana Prikryl, The Nation
China destroys a city in order to save it; the Abu Ghraib rape photos; the “Year of the Bible” will backfire; leg shackle with deadline timer; CIA looking to hire “recruit investment bankers, top analysts and hedge fund honchos”; an interactive map of John Murtha’s lobbyist connections
In this case, Japanese researchers added genes that caused the animals to glow green under an ultraviolet light– and beget offspring with the same spooky trait– to test a technique they hope to use to produce animals with Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and other diseases…. “It’s hard to put your finger on what is it about this research that is likely to stimulate ethical debate besides the sort of gut feeling that this is not the right thing to do,” said Mark A. Rothstein, a bioethicist at the University of Louisville. — “Glowing Green Monkeys Illustrate Important but Controversial Advance,” Rob Stein, The Washington Post
Parents, who grew up in a generation more likely to use the handshake, the low-five or the high-five, are often baffled by the close physical contact. “It’s a wordless custom, from what I’ve observed,” wrote Beth J. Harpaz, the mother of two boys, 11 and 16, and a parenting columnist for The Associated Press, in a new book, “13 Is the New 18.”“And there doesn’t seem to be any other overt way in which they acknowledge knowing each other,” she continued, describing the scene at her older son’s school in Manhattan. “No hi, no smile, no wave, no high-five — just the hug. Witnessing this interaction always makes me feel like I am a tourist in a country where I do not know the customs and cannot speak the language.”For teenagers, though, hugging is hip. And not hugging? “If somebody were to not hug someone, to never hug anybody, people might be just a little wary of them and think they are weird or peculiar,” said Gabrielle Brown, a freshman at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School in Manhattan. –[“For Teenagers, Hello Means ‘How About a Hug?’” by Sarah Kershaw, The New York Times]
In Havana, the past year has been marked by a parade of bold-faced names from the north — John Kerry reopening the United States Embassy; Andrew Cuomo bringing a delegation of American business leaders; celebrities ranging from Joe Torre, traveling on behalf of Major League Baseball to oversee an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team, to Jimmy Buffett, said to be considering opening one of his Margaritaville restaurants there. All this culminated with a three-day trip in March by Barack Obama, the first American president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. But to those who know the city well, perhaps nothing said as much about the transformation of political relations between the United States and Cuba that began in December 2014 as a concert in the Tribuna Antiimperialista.
Ratio of the amount J. P. Morgan paid a man to fight in his place in the Civil War to what he spent on cigars in 1863:
The Food and Drug Administration asked restaurants to help Americans eat less.
Pope Francis announced that nuns could use social media, and a priest flew a hot-air balloon around the world.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”