Documenting U.S. Role in Democracy’s Fall and Dictator’s Rise in Chile

A phone in the exhibition “Secrets of State: The Declassified History of the Chilean Dictatorship” at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago, Chile. Visitors can pick up the receiver to hear a recreation of a conversation between former President Richard M. Nixon and his national security Adviser, Henry Kissinger.Credit Tomas Munita for The New York Times


SANTIAGO, Chile — An old rotary phone rings insistently.

Visitors at a new exhibition at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights here in Santiago who pick up the receiver hear two men complain bitterly about the liberal news media “bleating” over the military coup that had toppled Salvador Allende, the Socialist president of Chile, five days earlier.

“Our hand doesn’t show on this one, though,” one says.

“We didn’t do it,” the other responds. “I mean, we helped them.”

The conversation took place on a Sunday morning in September 1973 between former President Richard M. Nixon and his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger. The two men were discussing football — and the violent overthrow of a democratically elected government 5,000 miles away with their assistance.

For the exhibition, two Spanish-speaking actors re-enacted the taped phone call based on a declassified transcript.

The chance to listen in on the call is part of “Secrets of State: The Declassified History of the Chilean Dictatorship,” an exhibition that offers visitors an immersive experience of Washington’s intervention in Chile and its 17-year relationship with the military dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

An enlarged and dramatically lit document sets the tone at the entrance. It is a presidential daily brief dated Sept. 11, 1973, the day of the coup. Its paragraphs are entirely redacted, every word blacked out.

A dimly lit underground gallery guides visitors through a maze of documents — presidential briefings, intelligence reports, cables and memos — that describe secret operations and intelligence gathering carried out in Chile by the United States from the Nixon years through the Reagan presidency.

Copies of the front pages of dozens of newspapers during the Pinochet era, on view in the exhibition.  Tomas Munita for The New York Times



Hayden Kennedy Family Statement


Inge Perkins & Hayden Kennedy
Having lived for 27 years with the great joy and spirit that was Hayden Kennedy, we share the loss of our son and his partner Inge Perkins as the result of an avalanche in the southern Madison Mountains near Bozeman, Montana, on October 7th.
Inge Perkin’s body was recovered by the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center at the base of Mt. Imp on October 9th.  Hayden survived the avalanche but not the unbearable loss of his partner in life. He chose to end his life. Myself and his mother Julie sorrowfully respect his decision.
Hayden truly was an uncensored soul whose accomplishments as a mountaineer were always secondary to his deep friendships and mindfulness.
He recently moved to Bozeman to work on his EMT certification while Inge completed her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and education at Montana State University.
Julie and I are on our way to Bozeman from Europe, as are Inge’s mother and stepfather. Memorial arrangements are still pending.
“Over the last few years, however, as I’ve watched too many friends go to the mountains only to never return, I’ve realized something painful,” wrote Hayden in Evening Sends just last month. “It’s not just the memorable summits and crux moves that are fleeting. Friends and climbing partners are fleeting, too. This is the painful reality of our sport, and I’m unsure what to make of it. Climbing is either a beautiful gift or a curse.”
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Seeing so much of the present through Watergate makes it harder to see the future ~ The Washington Post


How can we reconcile the conviction that Donald Trump’s presidency is a singular abomination with the sense that we’ve seen all this play out before?

For months, countless commentaries have warned us — or, depending on your perspective, reassured us — that this administration may be heading toward the same conclusion as Richard Nixon’s. In May, after the firing of FBI Director James Comey, Nixon chronicler Elizabeth Drew wrote in Politico: “While Watergate was sui generis and is likely to remain so, Trump’s metastasizing crisis, and Washington’s reaction to it, make for a discomfiting reminder of that period. And suddenly it seems increasingly possible it could end the same way.” A few weeks later, New York magazine’s Frank Rich wrote that there is “reason to hope that the 45th president’s path through scandal may wind up at the same destination as the 37th’s — a premature exit from the White House in disgrace — on a comparable timeline.”

That comparison has persisted, or even deepened, as Robert Mueller’s investigation has expanded. Noah Feldman and Jacob Weisberg began an essay last month in the New York Review of Books by arguing, “As more and more evidence of collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia has come to light, the analogy to Watergate has grown ever stronger.”

There are strengths and weaknesses to the Watergate comparison, but our fascination with it is, perhaps more than anything, a product of our visceral discomfort with uncertainty. At the mercy of a president whose stock in trade is unpredictability, and amid a presidency that has provided more surprises than most, Americans crave foresight. We want to know how this story ends. Analogy provides a seductive answer, cloaking the cold ambiguity of the future in the blanket of the past: If today looks like yesterday, we reason, our tomorrow will look like yesterday’s tomorrow.

But relying so heavily on this heuristic may actually make it more difficult to anticipate what’s coming. Analogy encourages us to see the past as static, when it was in fact a dynamic collection of possible futures that just happened to gel into the present we know. That mistake blinds us to our own potential futures — and what we might learn from them. In trying to reduce uncertainty, we may have ensured that Trump will surprise us even more than he already has.

We take our experience of time for granted. Scholars Allen Bluedorn and Robert Denhardt put it this way: “As a society, we tend to agree on an objective concept of time, one that is unitary (subject to only one interpretation), linear (progressing steadily forward from past to present to future), and mechanical (containing discrete moments subject to precise measurement).”


Rachel Maddow: Trump’s TV Nemesis

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In Rachel Maddow’s office at the MSNBC studios, there is a rack on which hang about thirty elegant women’s jackets in various shades of black and gray. On almost every week night of the year, at around one minute to nine, Maddow yanks one of these jackets off its hanger, puts it on without looking into a mirror, and races to the studio from which she broadcasts her hour-long TV show, sitting at a sleek desk with a glass top. As soon as the show is over, she sheds the jacket and gets back into the sweater or T-shirt she was wearing before. She does not have to shed the lower half of her costume, the skirt and high heels that we don’t see because of the desk in front of them but naturally extrapolate from the stylish jacket. The skirt and heels, it turns out, are an illusion. Maddow never changed out of the baggy jeans and sneakers that are her offstage uniform and onstage private joke. Next, she removes her contact lenses and puts on horn-rimmed glasses that hide the bluish eyeshadow a makeup man hastily applied two minutes before the show. She now looks like a tall, gangly tomboy instead of the delicately handsome woman with a stylish boy’s bob who appears on the show and is the current sweetheart of liberal cable TV.

Maddow is widely praised for the atmosphere of cheerful civility and accessible braininess that surrounds her stage persona. She is onstage, certainly, and makes no bones about being so. She regularly reminds us of the singularity of her show (“You will hear this nowhere else”; “Very important interview coming up, stay with us”; “Big show coming up tonight”). Like a carnival barker, she leads us on with tantalizing hints about what is inside the tent.

As I write this, I think of something that subliminally puzzles me as I watch the show. Why do I stay and dumbly watch the commercials instead of getting up to finish washing the dishes? By now, I know every one of the commercials as well as I know the national anthem: the Cialis ad with curtains blowing as the lovers phonily embrace, the ad with the guy who has opioid-induced . . . constipation (I love the delicacy-induced pause), the ad for Liberty Mutual Insurance in which the woman jeers at the coverage offered by a rival company: “What are you supposed to do, drive three-quarters of a car?” I sit there mesmerized because Maddow has already mesmerized me. Her performance and those of the actors in the commercials merge into one delicious experience of TV. “The Rachel Maddow Show” is a piece of sleight of hand presented as a cable news show. It is TV entertainment at its finest. It permits liberals to enjoy themselves during what may be the most thoroughly unenjoyable time of their political lives.

Maddow’s artistry is most conspicuously displayed in the long monologue—sometimes as long as twenty-four minutes, uninterrupted by commercials—with which her show usually begins. The monologue of January 2, 2017, is an especially vivid example of Maddow’s extraordinary storytelling. Its donnée was a Times article of December 31, 2016, with the headline “trump’s indonesia projects, still moving ahead, create potential conflicts.” The story, by Richard C. Paddock, in Jakarta, and Eric Lipton, in Washington, was about the resorts and golf courses that Donald Trump is building in Indonesia and the cast of unsuitable or unsavory characters that have been helping him move the projects along. Among them are Hary Tanoesoedibjo, Trump’s business partner, a billionaire with political ambitions that might put him into high office in Jakarta; Setya Novanto, the Speaker of the Indonesian House of Representatives, who had to resign when he was accused of trying to extort four billion dollars from an American mining company; and the billionaire investor Carl Icahn, a major shareholder in that mining company, who had recently been named an adviser to the Trump Administration on regulatory matters. It was one of those stories about Trump’s mired global business dealings which are themselves marked by Trump’s obscurantism, and which tend to mystify and confuse more than clarify—and ultimately to bore. They have too much information and too little.

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Corporations Have Rights. Why Shouldn’t Rivers? ~ “Deep Ecology seeping into the mainstream.” Edgar Boyles


The Colorado River in southeastern Utah. It is the subject of a lawsuit that asks a judge to recognize it as a person. CreditFrancisco Kjolseth/The Salt Lake Tribune, via Associated Press

DENVER — Does a river — or a plant, or a forest — have rights?

This is the essential question in what attorneys are calling a first-of-its-kind federal lawsuit, in which a Denver lawyer and a far-left environmental group are asking a judge to recognize the Colorado River as a person.

If successful, it could upend environmental law, possibly allowing the redwood forests, the Rocky Mountains or the deserts of Nevada to sue individuals, corporations and governments over resource pollution or depletion. Future lawsuits in its mold might seek to block pipelines, golf courses or housing developments and force everyone from agriculture executives to mayors to rethink how they treat the environment.

Several environmental law experts said the suit had a slim chance at best. “I don’t think it’s laughable,” said Reed Benson, chairman of the environmental law program at the University of New Mexico. “But I think it’s a long shot in more ways than one.”

The suit was filed Monday in Federal District Court in Colorado by Jason Flores-Williams, a Denver lawyer. It names the river ecosystem as the plaintiff — citing no specific physical boundaries — and seeks to hold the state of Colorado and Gov. John Hickenlooper liable for violating the river’s “right to exist, flourish, regenerate, be restored, and naturally evolve.”

Because the river cannot appear in court, a group called Deep Green Resistance is filing the suit as an ally, or so-called next friend, of the waterway.

If a corporation has rights, the authors argue, so, too, should an ancient waterway that has sustained human life for as long as it has existed in the Western United States. The lawsuit claims the state violated the river’s right to flourish by polluting and draining it and threatening endangered species. The claim cites several nations whose courts or governments have recognized some rights for natural entities.

The lawsuit drew immediate criticism from conservative lawmakers, who called it ridiculous. “I think we can all agree rivers and trees are not people,” said Senator Steve Daines of Montana. “Radical obstructionists who contort common sense with this sort of nonsense undercut credible conservationists.”

The office of Mr. Hickenlooper, a Democrat, declined to comment.

The lawsuit comes as hurricanes and wildfires in recent weeks have left communities across the country devastated, intensifying the debate over how humans should treat the earth in the face of global climate change.

Mr. Flores-Williams characterized the suit as an attempt to level the playing field as rivers and forests battle human exploitation. As it stands, he said, “the ultimate disparity exists between entities that are using nature and nature itself.”

Imbuing rivers with the right to sue, he argued, would force humans to take care of the water and trees they need to survive — or face penalties. “It’s not pie in the sky,” he said of the lawsuit. “It’s pragmatic.”

Jody Freeman, director of Harvard’s environmental law program, said Mr. Flores would face an uphill battle.

“Courts have wrestled with the idea of granting animals standing,” she wrote in an email. “It would be an even further stretch to confer standing directly on rivers, mountains and forests.”

The idea of giving nature legal rights, however, is not new. It dates to at least 1972, when a lawyer, Christopher Stone, wrote an article titled “Should Trees Have Standing?”

Mr. Stone had hoped to influence a Supreme Court case in which the Sierra Club wanted to block a ski resort in the Sierras. The environmental group lost.

“But Justice William Douglas had read Stone’s article,” Ms. Freeman wrote, “and in his famous dissent, he embraced the view advocated by Stone: that natural objects should be recognized as legal parties, which could be represented by humans, who could sue on their behalf.”

That view has never attracted support in the court. But it has had some success abroad.

In Ecuador, the constitution now declares that nature “has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles.” In New Zealand, officials declared in March that a river used by the Maori tribe of Whanganui in the North Island to be a legal person that can sue if it is harmed. A court in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand has called the Ganges and its main tributary, the Yamuna, to be living human entities.

The Colorado River cuts through or along seven Western states and supplies water to approximately 36 million people, including residents of Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego and Los Angeles. It also feeds millions of acres of farmland.

It is as famous for its power and beauty as it is for overuse. Scientists expect that increased temperatures brought on by climate change will cause it to shrink further, leaving many people anxious about its future.

Mr. Flores-Williams is a criminal defense lawyer known for suing the city of Denver over its treatment of homeless people. Deep Green Resistance believes that the mainstream environmental movement has been ineffective, and that industrial civilization is fundamentally destructive to life on earth. The group’s task, according to its website, is to create “a resistance movement that will dismantle industrial civilization by any means necessary.”

Mr. Flores-Williams responded to criticism that his argument, if successful, would allow pebbles to sue the people who step on them.

“Does every pebble in the world now have standing?” he said. “Absolutely not, that’s ridiculous.”

“We’re not interested in preserving pebbles,” he added. “We’re interested in preserving the dynamic systems that exist in the ecosystem upon which we depend.”

How Vietnam Killed the Great Society


From left: Gen. Earle Wheeler, Gen. William Westmoreland, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and President Lyndon Johnson at the White House, July 1967. Credit Associated Press

President Lyndon Johnson surely felt a bitter sense of recognition when he opened The Washington Post on Aug. 1, 1967. There, on Page A12, appeared a political cartoon — the latest by the brilliant cartoonist Herbert Block, better known as Herblock. The sketch showed a beleaguered Johnson flanked by two female suitors. To his right stood a voluptuous seductress bedecked with jewels and a mink stole bearing the words “Vietnam War.” To his left was a scrawny, disheveled waif labeled “U.S. Urban Needs.” The Johnson figure reassured them, “There’s money enough to support both of you,” but readers could hardly fail to grasp the president’s hesitation. The cartoon left no doubt that the flow of resources toward Vietnam might starve Johnson’s domestic agenda.

Such a distraction from priorities at home was Johnson’s nightmare. Since assuming the presidency, he had committed himself to the most ambitious program of domestic reform since the New Deal, a broad array of measures aimed at creating what he called the Great Society. And he had achieved remarkable success. During his first three years in the White House, Johnson signed major legislation to expand civil rights, fight poverty, improve education, establish Medicare and Medicaid, and clean up the environment, among other things. He aimed to accomplish still more in 1967.

But that year brought the president face to face with the rapidly diminishing possibility of new achievements — and possibly even of protecting what he had already won — while fighting a costly and divisive war on the other side of the globe. He could not, as the old cliché put it, have both butter and guns.

This realization marked a breaking point in Johnson’s presidency and, more broadly, a watershed in the history of the 1960s. The liberal early ’60s, when Americans enthusiastically embraced government activism to address social ills, were giving way to a new era of political fragmentation and diminished expectations.

From the outset of his presidency, Johnson appreciated that enacting the Great Society depended on careful handling of the Vietnam problem. On the one hand, he believed that failure to prevent a Communist takeover of South Vietnam would expose him to withering political attack and kill any chance that Congress or the public would back his domestic program. On the other hand, he believed that he had to play down the crisis in Vietnam to prevent alarm about a looming war in Southeast Asia from eclipsing all interest in his domestic priorities. The implications, he believed, were clear: He had to escalate in Vietnam, but do so with as little fanfare as possible.

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The Outdoor Apparel Industry Is Fighting for Public Lands


The Outdoor Apparel Industry Is Fighting for Public Lands

REI and Patagonia are using their platforms to speak out for national monuments.


Patagonia Inc. had never run a television advertisement in its nearly 45-year history — until last month, when the Ventura, California, outdoor clothing company decided to spend nearly $700,000 on a TV and radio campaign in three Western states. Yet surprisingly, when the ads hit the airwaves in late August they had nothing to do with its popular fleece jackets, puffy vests, or waterproof duffel bags.

Instead, the 60-second commercials feature Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard fly-fishing on Wyoming’s Snake River, while warning that public lands have “never been more threatened than right now,” thanks to “a few self-serving politicians who want to sell them off and make money.” The ads urge viewers in Utah, Nevada, and Montana to tell U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinkenot to sell or shrink any of America’s national monuments.

Signs like these are common throughout Salt Lake City, where many residents support stronger protections for public lands.
Photo credit: Russ Arensman

For more than a century, U.S. presidents have used national monument status, authorized under the 1906 Antiquities Act, to protect areas of unique historic, scenic, or scientific interest from mining, logging, and other development. The current list of 157 monuments includes such iconic sites as George Washington’s birthplace, the Statue of Liberty, giant sequoia groves in California, and the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Yet critics contend that some recently designated sites are too big, too burdensome on nearby communities, and undeserving of national monument status.


In Praise of Equipoise/NYT … “Buddhist middle path…. ?” Mike Friedman

David Brooks, NYT Op/Ed


The Lebanese-born writer Amin Maalouf made an interesting point about identity: Other people often pick ours for us. The anti-Semite elevates the Jewish consciousness in the Jew. The Sunni radical elevates Shiite consciousness in the Shiite.

“People often see themselves in terms of whichever one of their allegiances is most under attack,” Maalouf writes.

The people who exclude us try to reduce our myriad identities down to one simplistic one. Amartya Sen calls this process “miniaturization.” You may be an athletic Baptist Democratic surgeon with three kids and a love for Ohio State, but to the bigot you’re just one thing: your faith or skin color or whatever it is he doesn’t like.

The odd thing is, people are often complicit in their own miniaturization.

We live in an atomized, individualistic society in which most people have competing identities. Life is more straightforward when you’re locked into one totalistic group, even if it’s imposed upon you. When you’re disrespected for being a Jew, a Christian, a liberal or a conservative, the natural instinct is to double down on that identity. People in what feels like a hostile environment often reduce their many affiliations down to just one simple one, which they weaponize and defend to the hilt.

Today, the world feels like a hostile environment to. … well … everyone. I had assumed that as society got more equal we would all share a measure of equal dignity. But it turns out that without an obvious social hierarchy we all get to feel equally powerless.

It’s human nature that we feel our sleights more strongly than we feel our advantages, so we all tend to feel downtrodden these days. White males and Zionists feel victimized on campus. Christians feel oppressed by the courts. Women feel victimized in tech. The working class feels victimized everywhere. Even Taylor Swift apparently feels victimized by celebrity.

Group victimization has become the global religion — from Berkeley to the alt-right to Iran — and everybody gets to assert his or her victimization is worst and it’s the other people who are the elites.


Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

1920.jpgMore comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.


Jean M. Twenge – The Atlantic

One day last summer, around noon, I called Athena, a 13-year-old who lives in Houston, Texas. She answered her phone—she’s had an iPhone since she was 11—sounding as if she’d just woken up. We chatted about her favorite songs and TV shows, and I asked her what she likes to do with her friends. “We go to the mall,” she said. “Do your parents drop you off?,” I asked, recalling my own middle-school days, in the 1980s, when I’d enjoy a few parent-free hours shopping with my friends. “No—I go with my family,” she replied. “We’ll go with my mom and brothers and walk a little behind them. I just have to tell my mom where we’re going. I have to check in every hour or every 30 minutes.”

Those mall trips are infrequent—about once a month. More often, Athena and her friends spend time together on their phones, unchaperoned. Unlike the teens of my generation, who might have spent an evening tying up the family landline with gossip, they talk on Snapchat, the smartphone app that allows users to send pictures and videos that quickly disappear. They make sure to keep up their Snapstreaks, which show how many days in a row they have Snapchatted with each other. Sometimes they save screenshots of particularly ridiculous pictures of friends. “It’s good blackmail,” Athena said. (Because she’s a minor, I’m not using her real name.) She told me she’d spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. That’s just the way her generation is, she said. “We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”

I’ve been researching generational differences for 25 years, starting when I was a 22-year-old doctoral student in psychology. Typically, the characteristics that come to define a generation appear gradually, and along a continuum. Beliefs and behaviors that were already rising simply continue to do so. Millennials, for instance, are a highly individualistic generation, but individualism had been increasing since the Baby Boomers turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. I had grown accustomed to line graphs of trends that looked like modest hills and valleys. Then I began studying Athena’s generation.

Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen behaviors and emotional states. The gentle slopes of the line graphs became steep mountains and sheer cliffs, and many of the distinctive characteristics of the Millennial generation began to disappear. In all my analyses of generational data—some reaching back to the 1930s—I had never seen anything like it.