ATLANTA — The indictment of former Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson, accused of giving special treatment to the men charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, “was a very huge win,” Arbery’s mother said Friday. “I’m very thankful we got an indictment,” Wanda Cooper said during a virtual press conference with Arbery’s father and the family’s lawyers. Cooper and her ex-husband, Marcus Arbery, thanked Attorney General Chris Carr for bringing the case against Johnson and said the AG had kept in constant contact with them during the grand jury investigation. “He’s a man of his word,” Ar...
Following 556 days of pandemic-inflicted cancellations and unconventional concerts, the New York Philharmonic opened its new season Friday, a "homecoming" for musicians limited to live streams, one-off and outdoor shows for more than a year.
After enduring months of crisis, the Phil, one of America's oldest musical institutions, re-opened its subscription season with a program featuring Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4, Anna Clyne's "Within Her Arms," Aaron Copland's "Quiet City" and George Walker's "Antifonys."
The pandemic forced the famed symphony orchestra to cancel its 2020-21 season, resulting in more than $21 million in lost ticket revenues.
Hundreds of people queued outside Alice Tully Hall in Manhattan's Upper Westside in evening wear, showing mandatory proof of vaccination in order to gain entry for the night of orchestral music.
Catherine Colson arrived with friends ahead of what she anticipated would be "a memorable night of phenomenal music."
"It was a really long year. I feel rejuvenated," she told AFP. "It's like a rebirth in a way."
Adam Baltin said he wanted to attend opening night to "celebrate the city and the arts."
"It's been so long."
'Feels like a homecoming'
On top of the challenges presented by Covid, the Phil is homeless: the orchestra's longtime base, David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, is in the middle of a major $550-million renovation.
Most of the 2021-22 season will be played at two other venues at the Lincoln Center arts complex on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
Despite everything, Chris Martin, the orchestra's principal trumpet player, said the start of a fresh season "feels like coming home."
"I'm very excited. I feel like almost like a rebirth as a musician," he told AFP at a dress rehearsal ahead of the evening.
"We play 130, 140 concerts a year, and you never take it for granted, but sometimes you think, 'Oh, I'm a little tired today, I've got to play this again', but not anymore -- I feel really such gratitude."
During the Phil's canceled season, members began playing small pop-up concerts at surprise locations throughout the city, getting creative for New Yorkers starved for live music.
"To play outdoors is wonderful," Martin said, adding it allows artists "to connect with the city in a different way."
"But to come back in this space... to have an audience again, that's the part that really feels like a homecoming."
- 'Exciting new beginning'-
Friday's show comes days after news broke that Jaap van Zweden, the Phil's maestro since 2018, will step down after the 2023-24 season.
The conductor spent much of the pandemic in his home country of the Netherlands with his family, and cited shifting work-life balance priorities in announcing his decision.
"It is not out of frustration, it's not out of anger, it's not out of a difficult situation," van Zweden told The New York Times.
"It's just out of freedom."
The pandemic, which dealt an early and particularly deadly blow to New York, hit in the middle of the violinist-turned-conductor's second season as music director.
He was isolated from his musicians, prevented for months from traveling to New York due to a ban on European travelers visiting the United States.
Friday's show comes amid a ramped-up arts schedule in the city, days after the extravagant fashion-centric Met Gala and ahead of the Governors Ball music festival along with the Metropolitan Opera's re-opening on September 27.
Kathy Greene, a Philharmonic violinist for 30 years, told AFP she feels the orchestra members "are an important part of bringing New York back to normalcy, even though it's starting very slowly, and it's still very tentative."
"We are aiming in the right direction -- this is a very optimistic and exciting new beginning and we hope that things will grow from here," she said.
Deal reached in Trump's Arizona audit that will keep election equipment out of the hands of Cyber Ninjas: report
According to a report from the Arizona Capitol Times, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and the Republican-controlled Arizona Senate reached an agreement late Friday that will allow the Republicans limited access to routers and other information related to the 2020 presidential election -- but keep the physical equipment out of the hands of the Cyber Ninjas who are searching for evidence of election fraud at the request of Donald Trump.
At issue has been a threat from the GOP senate to withhold over $700 million in state-shared revenue from Maricopa Country over their refusal to hand over the technology.
Under the agreement, "... the county and the senate selected a special master to handle the process of answering the Senate's questions about the routers and splunk logs. That's in lieu of turning the materials over to the Senate and its contractor, Cyber Ninjas."
Maricopa had balked at turning over the equipment fearing it may be made unusable for future elections, necessitating the purchase of new replacement equipment.
The report notes that both sides are claiming victory, with Maricopa board Vice Chairman Bill Gates insisting, "It's very important for people to understand that the Cyber Ninjas will not have access to the routers."
He added, "that the settlement avoided costly litigation while also keeping data on the county's routers safe. The county has repeatedly withheld the routers over security concerns," the Capitol Times reported.
You can read more here.
Scott Kirby is the CEO of United Airlines. The global corporation he runs employs about 67,000 people in the US. On Thursday, he appeared on CNN's morning show, "New Day." He said something that surprised host Brianna Keilar, but won't surprise readers of the Editorial Board.
Kirby said the number of employees who resigned from their jobs rather than get vaccinated, per company order, was in "the single digits." "We're going to have more by the time it finishes, but it's going to be a very low number of people who ultimately decided to leave."
CNN's Keilar responded with surprise. ("Single digits!") I'm guessing that's because she has seen the same polls everyone else has seen that show eye-popping percentages of the unvaccinated (67 percent in one poll) swearing up and down they'll never do what they'd told and be forced into getting vaccinated against the covid. They'd quit their jobs first! Well, if United is any indication, they're doing what they're told.
Instead of asking ourselves what we're going to do to save democracy on account of so many people distrusting elections, let's save democracy by doing this one weird trick: stop believing people who tell themselves wild, howling lies.
Editorial Board readers aren't surprised. That's the dynamic I outlined in Monday's edition. I said we'd see at the same time polls that show resistance to vaccines and company reports that show compliance. There's only one explanation. These people are lying. Moreover, they like to think of themselves as macho heroes who will never fold under pressure. When the pressure comes, though, they fold in a hurry.
Business is different from politics, obviously, but I want to suggest a similar dynamic is playing out in recent polls that show eye-popping percentages of Republican voters saying they believe Joe Biden isn't the real president. According to CNN, 76 percent of Republicans say they have no or little confidence in elections. According to a new PRRI survey, 76 percent of Fox-watching Republicans believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen. A typical reaction to this is shock and dismay. How can we save democracy when so many people don't have any trust in the democratic process? And no one has an answer.
It's past time to rethink this. Instead of asking ourselves what we're going to do to save democracy on account of so many people distrusting elections, let's save democracy by doing this one weird trick: stop believing people who tell themselves wild, howling lies.
Remember the people who are that saying Donald Trump is the real president are the same people who said they'd quit their jobs before getting vaccinated. (They are also the people who are drinking sheep drench.) Their employers didn't buy it and the lie was revealed. We shouldn't buy it either. These people know vaccines are safe. They know how to go to a doctor. They know how to take medicine. Similarly, they know Joe Biden is the real president. Their employers are treating them as moral agents. We should treat them that way, too.
Let me put this another way. Trust has zero to do with any of this. There was nothing public health officials could do to inspire trust in anti-vaxxers. Eventually, employers had to force them. Eventually, the president followed suit. There is nothing we can do to inspire trust in Republican voters. They are choosing to believe the lies that Fox and others are telling them, because believing so many lies feels so good. Believing the lie that Donald Trump is the real president is part of the bigger lie that goes into shaping their identities as "real Americans."
Choosing to believe lies feels oh-so-good, but that's not the only thing. The other thing is seeing the reaction, first and foremost — What are we going to do to save our democracy! They love it for its own sake — it's fun! — but also because they love seeing people of good faith scrambling to please people of bad faith who have no intention to trust anyone who's not already "real American." Even as we strive to save democracy, we enable people who are okie-dokie with its demise.
You might be thinking that if GOP voters don't really mean anything they say, there's no harm done to democracy. But that's where you'd be wrong. Lies beget bigger lies. Corruption begets more corruption. We know what can happen. Together, they can bring down a republic.
The lies, however, mask a subset of Republicans who really believe what they are saying. For instance, that handful of people who quit their jobs at United Airlines. They are the True Believers. They truly believed their comrades, who said they'd quit, too. So much for in-group solidarity! Now they know their comrades didn't mean what they said. They feel betrayed. Hell hath no fury like a True Believer scorned.
We can't stop them from telling themselves wild, howling lies about being "real Americans" chosen by God to rule America in His name. But we can treat them like moral agents. We can say, look. You know the truth. You know you are choosing to believe a lie. The question now is whether you are prepared to face the consequences. That would take the fun out of lying and perhaps save democracy in the process.
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