Heart of Empire

Heart of Empire — April 26, 2016, 5:07 pm

A Policy of Hypocrisy

Trump wants to cut off Mexicans’ money? That’s what the Obama Administration already does to Somalis.

Heart of Empire — October 23, 2015, 12:36 pm

Flying Blind

The authors of the Drone Papers were delivering a simple message: send more money.

Heart of Empire — August 13, 2015, 11:32 am

Undelivered Goods

How $1.8 billion in aid to Ukraine was funneled to the outposts of the international finance galaxy 

Heart of Empire — March 18, 2015, 1:51 pm

War by Remote

How armchair generals pretend they’re on the front lines.

Heart of Empire — January 16, 2015, 2:07 pm

Clerical Oversight

The Jihadist leader no one wants to touch

Heart of Empire — December 12, 2014, 4:46 pm

Borderline Euphoric

Cold War II gets a bipartisan welcome

Heart of Empire — September 18, 2014, 2:55 pm

Flying Blind

The U.S. air-power lobby, botched bombing missions, and bootless combat.

Heart of Empire, Mentions — June 20, 2014, 11:41 am

Andrew Cockburn on Democracy Now

Andrew Cockburn discusses the origins and possible fate of Nouri al-Maliki’s prime ministership

Heart of Empire — June 12, 2014, 12:41 pm

The Long Shadow of a Neocon

Reassessing a primary architect of Iraq and Afghanistan’s current misery

Heart of Empire, Six Questions — May 6, 2014, 2:37 pm

Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare

Gareth Porter on the true history of Iran’s nuclear program

Heart of Empire — March 20, 2014, 2:09 pm

Sins of the Fatcat

Bob Ivry’s guide for tracking down the live villains and unburied bodies of the 2008 crash

Heart of Empire — January 22, 2014, 2:02 pm

Warthogs and All

The U.S. Air Force’s foolish plan to scrap its most effective plane

Heart of Empire — November 15, 2013, 3:04 pm

Kerry, Iran, and the Wisdom of James Baker

Why John Kerry was bested by France and Israel in negotiations with Iran, and how the Obama Administration could get around the U.S. sanctions regime

Heart of Empire — October 31, 2013, 8:00 am

The Bloom Comes Off the Georgian Rose

In the aftermath of Georgia’s presidential elections, questions emerge about Mikhail Saakashvili’s support for jihadist operations in southern Russia, and about what the United States knew

Heart of Empire — July 17, 2013, 12:12 pm

Boeing’s Plastic Planes

How Boeing’s adoption of defense-contracting practices led to the flawed Dreamliner 787

Heart of Empire — June 6, 2013, 1:24 pm

Flight of the Discords

The military–industrial–congressional complex bullies the F-35 Lightning II into Burlington

Heart of Empire — May 6, 2013, 4:44 pm

Targeting Lincoln

How bank-friendly legislators are gutting the Lincoln Amendment to the Dodd–Frank Act

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Men at Work·

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“You’re being reborn,” the voice says. “Exiting the womb of your mother. Coming into the earth as a small baby. Everything is new.” It is a Saturday morning in mid-March, and right now I’m lying on a yoga mat in a lodge in Ohio, surrounded by fifty other men who’ve come to the Midwest for a weekend of manhood-confirming adventures. The voice in question belongs to Aaron Blaine, a facilitator for Evryman, the men’s group orchestrating this three-day retreat. All around me, men are shedding tears as Blaine leads us on a guided meditation, a kind of archetypal montage of Norman Rockwell boyhood. “You’re starting to figure things out,” he says, in somniferous baritone. “Snow, for the first time. Sunshine. Start to notice the smells, the tastes, the confusion. The fear. And you’re growing. You’re about ten years old. The world’s huge and scary.”

Even though it’s only the second day of the Evryman retreat, it’s worth noting that I’ve already been the subject of light fraternal teasing. Already I’ve been the recipient of countless unsought hugs. Already I have sat in Large Groups and Small Groups, and watched dozens of middle-aged men weep with shame and contrition. I’ve had a guy in the military tell me he wants to be “a rock for his family.” I’ve heard a guy from Ohio say that his beard “means something.” Twice I’ve hiked through the woods to “reconnect with Mother Nature,” and I have been addressed by numerous men as both “dude” and “brother.” I have performed yoga and yard drills and morning calisthenics. I’ve heard seven different men play acoustic guitar. I’ve heard a man describe his father by saying, “There wasn’t a lot of ball-tossing when I was growing up.” Three times I’ve been queried about how I’m “processing everything,” and at the urinal on Friday night, two men warned me about the upcoming “Anger Ceremony,” which is rumored to be the weekend’s “pièce de résistance.”

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To Serve Is to Rule·

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The WASP story is personal for me. I arrived at Yale in 1971 from a thoroughly mediocre suburb in New Jersey, the second-generation hybrid of Irish and Italian stock riding the postwar boom. Those sockless people in Top-Siders, whose ancestors’ names and portraits adorned the walls, were entirely new to me. I made friends with some, but I was not free of a corrosive envy of their habitus of ease and entitlement.

I used to visit one of those friends in the Hamptons, in the 1970s, when the area was about wood-paneled Ford station wagons, not Lamborghinis. There was some money in the family, but not gobs, yet they lived two blocks from the beach—prime real estate. Now, down the road from what used to be their house is the residence of Ira Rennert. It’s one of the largest private homes in the United States. The union-busting, pension-fund-looting Rennert, whose wealth comes from, among other things, chemical companies that are some of the worst polluters in the country, made his first money in the 1980s as a cog in Michael Milken’s junk-bond machine. In 2015, a court ordered him to return $215 million he had appropriated from one of his companies to pay for the house. One-hundred-car garages and twenty-one (or maybe twenty-nine) bedrooms don’t come cheap.

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The Bird Angle·

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I slept for a good seven hours on the overnight flight from Spain to Peru, and while I slept I dreamed that I was leading American visitors around a park in Berlin, looking for birds on a hazy, overcast day. There wasn’t much to see until we noticed a distant commotion in the sky. Large raptors were panicking, driven back and forth by something threatening them from above. The commotion moved closer. The clouds parted, an oval aperture backed with blue. In it two seraphim hovered motionless. “Those are angels,” I told the group.

They were between us and the sun, but an easy ­I.D. Size aside, no other European bird has two sets of wings. The upper wings cast their faces into shadow. Despite the glare I could make out their striking peaches-­and-­cream coloration. Ivory white predominates, hair a faint yellow, eyes blue, wings indescribably iridescent. Faces blank and expressionless, as with all birds.

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The K-12 Takeover·

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Last May, the families of students at Cypress Academy, an independent charter school in New Orleans, received an email announcing that the school would close when classes ended the following week and that all its students would be transferred to another nearby charter for the upcoming year. Parents would have the option of entering their children in the city’s charter-enrollment lottery, but the lottery’s first round had already taken place, and the most desirable spots for the fall were filled.

Founded in 2015, a decade after New Orleans became the nation’s first city to begin replacing all its public schools with charters, Cypress was something of a rarity. Like about nine in ten of the city’s charter schools, it filled spaces by lottery rather than by selective admission. But while most of the nonselective schools in New Orleans had majority populations of low-income African-American students, Cypress mirrored the city’s demographics, drawing the children of professionals—African-American and white alike—as well as poorer students. Cypress reserved 20 percent of its seats for children with reading difficulties, and it offered a progressive education model, including “learning by doing,” rather than the strict conduct codes that dominated the city’s nonselective schools. In just three years, the school had outperformed many established charters—a particular feat given that one in four Cypress students had a disability, double the New Orleans average. Families flocked to Cypress, especially ones with children who had disabilities.

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Five Stories·

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how high? that high

He had his stick that was used mostly to point at your head if your head wasn’t held up proudly.

I still like that man—Holger! He had been an orphan!

He came up to me once because there was something about how I was moving my feet that wasn’t according to the regulations or his expectations.

The room was a short wide room with a short wide window with plenty of artificial light.

Cost of renting a giant panda from the Chinese government, per day:

$1,500

A recent earthquake in Chile was found to have shifted the city of Concepción ten feet to the west, shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 microseconds, and shifted the planet’s axis by nearly three inches.

A new study found that fact-checking is less convincing when “truth scales” are used.

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At Ivanwald, men learn to be leaders by loving their leaders. “They’re so busy loving us,” a brother once explained to me, “but who’s loving them?” We were. The brothers each paid $400 per month for room and board, but we were also the caretakers of The Cedars, cleaning its gutters, mowing its lawns, whacking weeds and blowing leaves and sanding. And we were called to serve on Tuesday mornings, when The Cedars hosted a regular prayer breakfast typically presided over by Ed Meese, the former attorney general. Each week the breakfast brought together a rotating group of ambassadors, businessmen, and American politicians. Three of Ivanwald’s brothers also attended, wearing crisp shirts starched just for the occasion; one would sit at the table while the other two poured coffee. 

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