A weekly discussion about politics, hosted by The New Yorker's executive editor, Dorothy Wickenden.
How to Respond to the Omicron Variant
Last weekend, just as many Americans were returning from Thanksgiving feasts with family and friends, reports of a new coronavirus variant, called Omicron, began to proliferate worldwide. Though there is some preliminary evidence that Omicron may be more transmissible and less responsive to the current COVID-19 vaccines than previous variants, the scientific community has been clear that more data are needed before any conclusions can be drawn about the threat Omicron poses. Still, several countries, including the U.S., have instituted new travel restrictions and recommended increased masking and social distancing. Dhruv Khullar, a contributing writer for The New Yorker and a practicing physician, joins Carla Blumenkranz to discuss what is known about Omicron, how world leaders should respond to the discovery of new variants, and how we can learn to live with COVID.
Rachel Held Evans and Her Legacy
Growing up, Rachel Held Evans was a fiercely enthusiastic evangelizer for her faith, the kind of kid who relished the chance to sit next to an atheist. But when she experienced doubt, that sense of certainty began to crumble. “We went to all these conferences about how to defend your faith, how to have an answer for what you believe,” her sister Amanda Held told Eliza Griswold. “That’s why it was particularly unsettling to have questions, because we were taught to have answers.” Held Evans began to blog and then wrote a string of best-sellers about her faith, beginning with “Evolving in Monkey Town,” in which she separated the Jesus she believed in from the conservative doctrine she was raised with. Her work spoke to the millions of Christians who have left evangelical churches since 2006. “There’s this common misperception that either you are a conservative evangelical Christian or . . . you become agnostic or atheist,” Griswold explains, but many Christians were turning away from politics and still retaining their faith. She calls Held Evans “the patron saint of this emerging movement.” After Held Evans died, at thirty-seven, after a sudden illness, her final, incomplete manuscript was finished by a friend, Jeff Chu. Griswold travelled to Held Evans’s home town of Dayton, Tennessee, to meet with her widower, Dan Evans, as well as Chu and others. “I think people resonate so much with her work [because] she was giving words that people couldn’t say themselves,” Evans says. “It’s not going to stop for them just because Rachel died. There’s going to be one less traveller. One less person to translate for them. But there’s more people born every day.”
Mexican Abortion Activists Mobilize to Aid Texans
Mexico is a deeply Catholic nation where abortion was, for a long time, criminalized in many states; just a few years ago, Coahuila, near the U.S. border, imposed jail time on women who underwent the procedure. But, this year, as Stephania Taladrid reported, Mexico’s ten-member Supreme Court voted unanimously to decriminalize abortion throughout the country—a decision that shocked even longtime activists. Before Mexican pro-choice advocates had finished celebrating, though, they turned their attention north to Texas, which has, with Senate Bill 8, essentially banned most abortions. (The law is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.) Texans may now find themselves crossing the border to obtain legal abortions. Taladrid spoke to activists who are sending medications that induce abortion—which are available over the counter in Mexico—across the border into Texas. As the legal scholar Jeannie Suk Gersen explains, however, a new Texas law criminalizes delivering those medications to pregnant women, potentially placing these activists at risk.
Britney Spears, Free from the Conservatorship, but Not from the Public Eye
This month, Britney Spears was released from the conservatorship that had overseen her finances, communications, and professional and personal life for more than thirteen years. The details of the arrangement were shrouded in mystery and poorly covered by the media. But over the past two years, things started to change, as the #FreeBritney movement, as it was known, increasingly advocated for her autonomy, publicizing such restrictions as Spears’s inability to choose her own lawyer. Journalists and documentarians began to look into such abuses, and chronicled Spears’s attempts to get out from under the conservatorship’s control. In September, Spears’s father, Jamie, was removed, and this month the conservatorship was dissolved. Jia Tolentino, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how the media shaped Spears’s life and the role of online movements in effecting change.
The Essential Workers of the Climate Crisis
After storms and other climate disasters, legions of workers appear overnight to cover blown-out buildings with construction tarps, rip out ruined walls and floors, and start putting cities back together. They are largely migrants, predominantly undocumented, and lack basic protections for construction work. Their efforts are critical in an era of increasing climate-related disasters, but the workers are subject to hazards including accidents, wage theft, and deportation. “Right now, there is a base camp for the National Guard; FEMA officials in Louisiana are staying in hotels,” Saket Soni, the founder of the nonprofit group Resilience Force, tells Sarah Stillman. “But the workers who are doing the rebuilding with their hands are sleeping under their cars to protect themselves from rain.” Stillman travelled to Louisiana, to the parking lot of a Home Depot, to report on Soni’s effort to organize and win recognition for these laborers as a distinct workforce performing essential work. “These years ahead,” she notes, “are going to bring more brutal hurricanes, more awful floods, more terrifying wildfires, and heatwaves—more than any of us is really prepared to handle. … And what’s at stake is not just these workers’ fates but also our collective shared survival.”
Politics and Justice at the Kyle Rittenhouse Trial
In August, 2020, during a period of civil unrest after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the seventeen-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse shot three people, killing two and maiming the third. Rittenhouse’s actions ignited a political firestorm. To some, he was a right-wing vigilante radicalized by conservative rhetoric about the threat posed by progressive groups such as Black Lives Matter. To others, he had exercised his constitutional right to defend himself from violent attackers. Rittenhouse became an obsession for pundits and politicians on the left and the right. This month, a jury in Kenosha has been hearing testimony in Rittenhouse’s trial, and—barring a mistrial—will rule on his culpability in one of the most publicized and politicized killings in recent memory. Paige Williams joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the case, and the intersection of politics and justice.
Críticas de clientes
Really good content and interesting discussions. One of my favorite podcasts.