Monthly Archives: November 2014

Soldiers, Spies, Cyberwarriors: ‘@War’ In The Internet Age


Imagine it’s the year 2022. Across the Pacific Ocean, a small country — an American ally — has provoked a big adversary nearby. Call them Red. Red’s size and military capabilities are near those of the United States.

Red responds aggressively to its neighbor’s provocation. Within days, the big adversary has crippled the smaller country’s power grid, communications networks and other infrastructure through cyberwarfare. Then, Red launches a preemptive cyberattack against the small country’s big ally: the United States.

If you were the U.S. military, how would you respond?

That was the scenario faced by a group of high-ranking officers huddled together at an Air Force base in Colorado for the 2010 Schriever Wargame.

“It was a really instructive and, I think, very scary war gaming exercise for people in the military,” writer Shane Harris tells NPR’s Arun Rath. “The adversary in this game really got the advantage very quickly and won pretty decisively, because the American side really hadn’t developed a playbook for how you would go to war between two large militaries in cyberspace.”

Harris recounts that 2010 Schriever Wargame in his new book, @War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex.

The book looks cyberspace as war’s “fifth domain” (after land, sea, air and space). Harris covers topics like the NSA, the role of cyber warfare in the Iraq troop surge of 2007, China’s “rampant” espionage on American corporations — and the U.S. government’s strategy of playing the victim.

Harris tells Rath that after that alarming war game, the U.S. military’s cyberforces became much more organized and sophisticated — but that China, the real-life country that parallels the imaginary Red, also is believed to have impressive capabilities.

Interview Highlights

On what Obama might have been told on his first day in office

He actually got a little bit of a taste of this on the campaign, because his campaign email system was hacked, presumably by spies in China.

When he comes in on the first day, what he’s presented with is the knowledge that the computers that control portions of the electrical power grid in the United States have been probed by foreign intelligence agencies. He is told that espionage, particularly by China, against American corporations is rampant, and that billions of dollars in intellectual property and in trade secrets are being lost every year. And that basically, there is no really coherent organized system in the U.S. government for how we’re going to defend the internet, how we’re going to defend the cyberspace and all of the businesses and the people that depend on it.

What he decides to do very early on in the administration is to, in his words, start treating cyberspace as a national asset, a strategic asset, and protecting it as such.

Shane Harris is a senior correspondent for The Daily Beast. Harris was previously a senior writer for Foreign Policy, a staff correspondent at The National Journal and contributed to The Washingtonian.i
i

Shane Harris is a senior correspondent for The Daily Beast. Harris was previously a senior writer for Foreign Policy, a staff correspondent at The National Journal and contributed to The Washingtonian.

Joe De Feo/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


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Joe De Feo/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Shane Harris is a senior correspondent for The Daily Beast. Harris was previously a senior writer for Foreign Policy, a staff correspondent at The National Journal and contributed to The Washingtonian.

Shane Harris is a senior correspondent for The Daily Beast. Harris was previously a senior writer for Foreign Policy, a staff correspondent at The National Journal and contributed to The Washingtonian.

Joe De Feo/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

On China’s cyberwarfare capabilities

The thing that China has going for it that we do not have is people. The number of people within the People’s Liberation Army, within the sort of intelligence apparatus of China, which is a very opaque system in its own right, is believed to be thousands of people, who are basically hired hackers who spend much of their day aggressively trying to penetrate the computer networks of U.S. corporations especially. China is sort of gathering information that they can then pass on to Chinese businesses and corporations that give them a leg up in negotiations and in the global marketplace. They’re trying to advance their economy very quickly and stealing information to do it.

Less clear is how sophisticated their sort of military offensive apparatus is compared to ours. For instance, if China ever went to war with us in the South China Sea, let’s say, how sophisticated and how good would their hackers be trying to break into our naval systems and confuse our ships? We know less about that but I think the conclusion we have to reach is that because they’re having so many more people doing this than we do — I mean, we have a few thousand — that China is a really formidable force. And that makes a lot of sense that they would put so many resources in this. China will never be able to, at least in the near future, challenge us in a conventional military way. They can’t go head-to-head with us on land or on the sea. Cyber is a place where they can gain an extraordinary advantage and do a lot of damage.

On the U.S. government positioning itself as a victim

The United States government loves to come out and talk about how relentlessly we’re being hacked and how our intellectual property is being stolen from our businesses. And that’s true.

More With Shane Harris

But what that covers up is that we are also one of the most aggressive countries going out there breaking into other countries’ systems and spying on them. And we are one of the few countries that we know of that has launched offensive operations in cyberspace. We have used computer viruses to break infrastructure, physical things that are connected to computer networks. Very few countries are known to have done that.

I think one of the reasons why U.S. officials have been keen on showing how we’re victimized is because they believe that U.S. businesses have not done enough to secure their own computer networks. From the government’s perspective, they can’t go in and necessarily force those companies (at least not yet) to improve their defenses, so it’s been sort of more of a strategic, rhetorical calculation on the part of the government to come out and say, “We’re victimized, it’s terrible, lots of information is being stolen, and the only way we can stop this is you corporations have to do better security and work with us and let us help you do that.”

So there’s a reason why the U.S. has tried to play that victim card so repeatedly: It’s because they want to get results from private businesses.

Soldiers, Spies, Cyberwarriors: ‘@War’ In The Internet Age


Imagine it’s the year 2022. Across the Pacific Ocean, a small country — an American ally — has provoked a big adversary nearby. Call them Red. Red’s size and military capabilities are near those of the United States.

Red responds aggressively to their neighbor’s provocation. Within days, the big adversary has crippled the smaller country’s power grid, communications networks and other infrastructure through cyberwarfare. Then, Red launches a preemptive cyberattack against the small country’s big ally: the United States.

If you were the U.S. military, how would you respond?

That was the scenario faced by a group of high-ranking officers huddled together at an Air Force base in Colorado for the 2010 Schriever Wargame.

“It was a really instructive and, I think, very scary war gaming exercise for people in the military,” writer Shane Harris tells NPR’s Arun Rath. “The adversary in this game really got the advantage very quickly and won pretty decisively, because the American side really hadn’t developed a playbook for how you would go to war between two large militaries in cyberspace.”

Harris recounts that 2010 Schriever Wargame in his new book, @War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex.

The book looks cyberspace as war’s “fifth domain” (after land, sea, air and space). Harris covers topics like the NSA, the role of cyber warfare in the Iraq troop surge of 2007, China’s “rampant” espionage on American corporations — and the U.S. government’s strategy of playing the victim.

Harris tells Rath that after that alarming war game, the U.S. military’s cyberforces became much more organized and sophisticated — but that China, the real-life country that parallels the imaginary Red, also is believed to have impressive capabilities.

Interview Highlights

On what Obama might have been told on his first day in office

He actually got a little bit of a taste of this on the campaign, because his campaign email system was hacked, presumably by spies in China.

When he comes in on the first day, what he’s presented with is the knowledge that the computers that control portions of the electrical power grid in the United States have been probed by foreign intelligence agencies. He is told that espionage, particularly by China, against American corporations is rampant, and that billions of dollars in intellectual property and in trade secrets are being lost every year. And that basically, there is no really coherent organized system in the U.S. government for how we’re going to defend the internet, how we’re going to defend the cyberspace and all of the businesses and the people that depend on it.

What he decides to do very early on in the administration is to, in his words, start treating cyberspace as a national asset, a strategic asset, and protecting it as such.

Shane Harris is a senior correspondent for The Daily Beast. Harris was previously a senior writer for Foreign Policy, a staff correspondent at The National Journal and contributed to The Washingtonian.i
i

Shane Harris is a senior correspondent for The Daily Beast. Harris was previously a senior writer for Foreign Policy, a staff correspondent at The National Journal and contributed to The Washingtonian.

Joe De Feo/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


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itoggle caption

Joe De Feo/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Shane Harris is a senior correspondent for The Daily Beast. Harris was previously a senior writer for Foreign Policy, a staff correspondent at The National Journal and contributed to The Washingtonian.

Shane Harris is a senior correspondent for The Daily Beast. Harris was previously a senior writer for Foreign Policy, a staff correspondent at The National Journal and contributed to The Washingtonian.

Joe De Feo/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

On China’s cyberwarfare capabilities

The thing that China has going for it that we do not have is people. The number of people within the People’s Liberation Army, within the sort of intelligence apparatus of China, which is a very opaque system in its own right, is believed to be thousands of people, who are basically hired hackers who spend much of their day aggressively trying to penetrate the computer networks of U.S. corporations especially. China is sort of gathering information that they can then pass on to Chinese businesses and corporations that give them a leg up in negotiations and in the global marketplace. They’re trying to advance their economy very quickly and stealing information to do it.

Less clear is how sophisticated their sort of military offensive apparatus is compared to ours. For instance, if China ever went to war with us in the South China Sea, let’s say, how sophisticated and how good would their hackers be trying to break into our naval systems and confuse our ships? We know less about that but I think the conclusion we have to reach is that because they’re having so many more people doing this than we do — I mean, we have a few thousand — that China is a really formidable force. And that makes a lot of sense that they would put so many resources in this. China will never be able to, at least in the near future, challenge us in a conventional military way. They can’t go head-to-head with us on land or on the sea. Cyber is a place where they can gain an extraordinary advantage and do a lot of damage.

On the U.S. government positioning itself as a victim

The United States government loves to come out and talk about how relentlessly we’re being hacked and how our intellectual property is being stolen from our businesses. And that’s true.

More With Shane Harris

But what that covers up is that we are also one of the most aggressive countries going out there breaking into other countries’ systems and spying on them. And we are one of the few countries that we know of that has launched offensive operations in cyberspace. We have used computer viruses to break infrastructure, physical things that are connected to computer networks. Very few countries are known to have done that.

I think one of the reasons why U.S. officials have been keen on showing how we’re victimized is because they believe that U.S. businesses have not done enough to secure their own computer networks. From the government’s perspective, they can’t go in and necessarily force those companies (at least not yet) to improve their defenses, so it’s been sort of more of a strategic, rhetorical calculation on the part of the government to come out and say, “We’re victimized, it’s terrible, lots of information is being stolen, and the only way we can stop this is you corporations have to do better security and work with us and let us help you do that.”

So there’s a reason why the U.S. has tried to play that victim card so repeatedly: It’s because they want to get results from private businesses.

How Hema Ramaswamy Found Healing Through Traditional Indian Dance


Hema Ramaswamy, a young Indian-American woman with Down syndrome, performs her arangetram, the public presentation of bharata natyam, a classical South Indian dance form.i
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Hema Ramaswamy, a young Indian-American woman with Down syndrome, performs her arangetram, the public presentation of bharata natyam, a classical South Indian dance form.

Preston Merchant


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Preston Merchant

Hema Ramaswamy, a young Indian-American woman with Down syndrome, performs her arangetram, the public presentation of bharata natyam, a classical South Indian dance form.

Hema Ramaswamy, a young Indian-American woman with Down syndrome, performs her arangetram, the public presentation of bharata natyam, a classical South Indian dance form.

Preston Merchant

Jewish girls undergo a bat mitzvah; 15 year-old Latinas celebrate with quinceañeras. But for generations of Indian American girls, the rite of passage is performing a classical Indian dance before a crowd of hundreds. After years of preparation, Hema Ramaswamy of Middletown, N.J., is ready to unveil her arangetram.

Hema Ramaswamy prepares backstage for her performance. She studied with Chitra Venkateswaran (right) in preparation for this recital for four and a half years.i
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Hema Ramaswamy prepares backstage for her performance. She studied with Chitra Venkateswaran (right) in preparation for this recital for four and a half years.

Preston Merchant


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Preston Merchant

Hema Ramaswamy prepares backstage for her performance. She studied with Chitra Venkateswaran (right) in preparation for this recital for four and a half years.

Hema Ramaswamy prepares backstage for her performance. She studied with Chitra Venkateswaran (right) in preparation for this recital for four and a half years.

Preston Merchant

An arangetram, which literally means “ascending the stage,” is a major accomplishment that takes years of preparation. This moment, when a student of dance or music asserts her artistic independence, usually happens in the teen years. Ramaswamy is 23.

Ramaswamy, who has Down syndrome, originally began dancing for health reasons. “But then it became part of her, and she really loves and enjoys it, and it took her 13 years with a lot of challenges, midway, to complete this,” explained her father, Ram. “And now today is a perfect day for her — her graduating in this art.”

She was able to achieve this despite her diagnosis and despite two major surgeries for a dangerous leak of cerebrospinal fluid. Her father said dance has strengthened Ramaswamy’s muscles and given her fine motor skills she simply didn’t have before.

“I feel so happy in dancing,” she beams, surrounded by a flurry of doting aunties while preparing for her performance.

Hema Ramaswamy performs her arangetram, the public presentation of Bharata Natyam.i
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Hema Ramaswamy performs her arangetram, the public presentation of Bharata Natyam.

Preston Merchant


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itoggle caption

Preston Merchant

Hema Ramaswamy performs her arangetram, the public presentation of Bharata Natyam.

Hema Ramaswamy performs her arangetram, the public presentation of Bharata Natyam.

Preston Merchant

Ramaswamy’s arangetram is 2 1/2 hours long and consists of 10 different dances. One is about the god Krishna, who, as a baby, starts devouring mud. Dancers usually try to mimic baby Krishna, but Ramaswamy becomes him. She then pivots into the role of Krishna’s angry mother, who discovers her filthy son and orders him to open his mouth. But instead of finding mud, she finds planets, stars, galaxies — an entire unknown cosmos lying within. This is the dance that brings the audience to tears.

“Thank you, everybody for coming and supporting me,” Ramaswamy says to a cheering audience. “I’m feeling so happy. Please enjoy your rest of your evening.”

Her father tells the crowd that Ramaswamy’s arangetram was more than a dance graduation; it was the day she became, in the eyes of the world, a full individual.

Having achieved this goal, Ramaswamy says, she now plans to go to college.

Not My Job: Ron Perlman, Who Played The Beast, Gets Quizzed On Beauty


Ron Perlman poses for photos before an interview in New York in September 2014.i
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Ron Perlman poses for photos before an interview in New York in September 2014.

In most of Ron Perlman’s well-known roles — in Quest for Fire, the TV show Beauty and the Beast and the Hellboy movies — he is so covered in makeup you don’t know what he looks like. Good thing we’ve invited him onto the radio where we can clear that right up!

Since Perlman famously played the Beast — as well as many other characters with unique visages — we’ll ask him three questions about beauty.

A Journey Through The History Of American Food In 100 Bites


One of America's favorite bites: the hotdog. Here, a man and women enjoy the dogs at a California fair in 1905.i
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One of America’s favorite bites: the hotdog. Here, a man and women enjoy the dogs at a California fair in 1905.

Courtesy of Sourcebooks


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Courtesy of Sourcebooks

One of America's favorite bites: the hotdog. Here, a man and women enjoy the dogs at a California fair in 1905.

One of America’s favorite bites: the hotdog. Here, a man and women enjoy the dogs at a California fair in 1905.

Courtesy of Sourcebooks

Apple pie isn’t American in the way people often mean. Every ingredient, from apples to butter to nutmeg and cinnamon, came from somewhere else.

But then, so do most Americans.

A new book traces the roots of American tastes from pemmican to Coca-Cola to what are now called “molecularly modified” foods. Libby O’Connell, the chief historian and a senior vice president for the History Channel and A&E networks, wrote The American Plate: A Culinary History in 100 Bites.

“My goal is to tell the story of American history through food,” she tells Weekend Edition’s Scott Simon. “Each food has a story of its own.”

Pemmican, the fancy name for jerky, can be found in gas stations across America. But “it’s an authentic food that is indigenous to the New World,” says O’Connell. As a snack food, it’s highly nourishing and drying was a great way to preserve food.

Macaroni also has colonial roots. We often think of Thomas Jefferson as a man who brought an elevated appreciation for food and wine to a young America. But he also popularized the favorite pasta of children everywhere.

“He brought in macaroni from his travels in Europe and liked to eat it with the cheese sauce,” says O’Connell. There’s also the famous song “Yankee Doodle Dandee” and the line: “Stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni.”

As for shoofly pie, the classic Amish dessert, the name comes from the fact that “a fly could get stuck in it,” she says. Made of molasses and flour and maybe a few nuts, the pie attracted flies particularly in the days before doors and windows had screens. Growing up in Pennsylvania, O’Connell remembers it being served in her lunchroom cafeteria.

An overarching theme in her book is how foreign foods came to be embraced by Americans. Once upon a time, spaghetti was a garlic-heavy Italian food, she says. “There was a time in the late 19th century, those intense Italian flavors were scoffed at by people who had arrived in the U.S. a generation before the Italians,” she explains. “The distaste toward foreign foods from immigrant groups is a tradition in this country.”

While the recipe for Coca-Cola has changed, the loopy font is still the same as it was in this ad from 1939. Says O'Connell: "The original Coca-Cola script that you see ... a friend of [the pharmacist who invented it] designed that script and the Coca-Cola company still uses it."i
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While the recipe for Coca-Cola has changed, the loopy font is still the same as it was in this ad from 1939. Says O’Connell: “The original Coca-Cola script that you see … a friend of [the pharmacist who invented it] designed that script and the Coca-Cola company still uses it.”

Courtesy of Sourcebooks


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Courtesy of Sourcebooks

While the recipe for Coca-Cola has changed, the loopy font is still the same as it was in this ad from 1939. Says O'Connell: "The original Coca-Cola script that you see ... a friend of [the pharmacist who invented it] designed that script and the Coca-Cola company still uses it."

While the recipe for Coca-Cola has changed, the loopy font is still the same as it was in this ad from 1939. Says O’Connell: “The original Coca-Cola script that you see … a friend of [the pharmacist who invented it] designed that script and the Coca-Cola company still uses it.”

Courtesy of Sourcebooks

Within a generation, Americans started saying Italian food was great. However, the big meatballs being served in the U.S. were not actually Italian — they didn’t have the same meat.

Salsa has also come a long way — it’s been one of the most popular condiments in America since 1992. “It’s fascinating that salsa outsells ketchup until you realize two things … the families that are buying salsa are the same families that are buying ketchup … and secondly think of how you consume ketchup.” It might be a dollop on a hamburger, compared to piling salsa all over your tacos or chips.

But overall, O’Connell believes Americans are really open to new food. “Our stomachs are, I think, more open to the world, to different cultures, than almost any place,” she says.

O’Connell also covers a wide range of meats in her book including scrapple, a culinary rag-bag of scraps, cornmeal, sage and pepper. “The Pennsylvania Dutch put a lot of ground pepper in it,” O’Connell says, who remembers eating it once or twice with plenty of maple syrup.

One of O’Connell’s most amusing stories features Sylvester Graham, an ordained Presbyterian minister who thought America was full of sin. If everyone ate whole grains and became vegetarians, they would become more peaceful and less lustful, he claimed. Therefore he created the popular Graham cracker. (The Graham cracker we have today has much more sugar than the original.)

Coca-Cola was originally intended “to be particularly healthy for you if you had an addiction problem,” says O’Connell. Invented by a pharmacist who fought in the Civil War, the drink was made with cocaine and caffeine to help him get rid of his morphine addiction from his war wounds.

But while the recipe changed, the loopy font is still the same. Says O’Connell: “The original Coca-Cola script that you see … a friend of his designed that script and the Coca-Cola company still uses it.”

Coca-Cola has marketed itself as an emblem of American life. “Not only did it have a national campaign very early on, but it followed the American troops wherever they were,” she says. It actually built field bottling plants behind the troops during World War I and World War II. Now, there are only two places in the world you can’t buy Coca-Cola: Cuba and North Korea.

O’Connell does admit she didn’t try everything discussed in her book, including beaver tail. “I know that they have that scaliness,” she says.

For those brave enough to try, she says the tail can be roasted over an open fire to blister the skin of the tail. After cooling, the scales can be scraped off, exposing the fat which will crisp and brown.

And how about a wine pairing? “A hearty burgundy,” she says.

Roger Moore: The Man With The Golden Life


Sir Roger Moore has been the Saint, one of the Persuaders, and, of course, James Bond. But he calls himself One Lucky Bastard, which is the title of this memoir about a life spent working and laughing alongside the likes of Tony Curtis, Michael Caine, Frank Sinatra, Diana Dors, David Niven — and many more.

Lana Turner “taught me how to kiss with a lot of passion but without too much pressure,” during a film shoot, Moore tells NPR’s Scott Simon. “I dived at her beautiful lips, and she choked and coughed and came up for air and said, Roger, Roger … well, darling, when a lady gets over 35, she has to watch the neck. So if you could kiss me with equal passion but a lot less pressure, I’d be much happier!”

Interview Highlights

On his hard drinking friends, including Peter O’Toole and Richard Burton

I really don’t know, sort of, how much they remembered [of their work]. I know that there’s no better feeling in the world than waking up in the morning and knowing what you had for dinner last night, and where you were. They’re the important things in life — having a good memory, and I think it’s very sad when actors — I’ve worked with a few in the theatre — it’s rather painful for other actors when you stand there waiting for a line, and it never comes, you see this terrible far-away look on their face. And then they usually accuse you of giving the wrong line.

On death and the idea of the next life

My attitude about death is, going into the next room, and it’s a room that the rest of us can’t get into because we don’t have the key. But when we do get the key, we’ll go in there and we’ll see one another again, in some shape or form, or whatever. It’s not the end. This is my logic of life, or life after death. The reason these thoughts came into my mind is that years and years ago, I had been offered a television play, and the script was absolutely appalling. So I declined. But one of the lines in the play that stayed with me was, you know, that death is going into the next room … that is my comforting thought for myself.

On his version of Bond in relation to others

I look like a comedic lover, and Sean [Connery] in particular, and Daniel Craig now, they are killers. They look like killers. I wouldn’t like to meet Daniel Craig on a dark night if I’d said anything bad about him.

George [Lazenby], Timothy [Dalton] and Pierce [Brosnan], we’ve been together, the four of us. But Sean, Sean really was sort of not that enamored of being confused with James Bond all the time. Sean — damn good actor, but he felt that he was only being remembered for Bond. I personally don’t give a damn, I just want to be remembered as somebody who paid his debts.

After Catalonia’s Independence Vote, An ‘Homage’ To George Orwell


On Sunday morning as I cast my vote in the Catalan election, I thought of the day that George Orwell arrived in Barcelona. It was the day after Christmas in 1936 and Spain was in the midst of a terrifying and utterly chaotic civil war.

Orwell was shot in the throat and barely survived to tell the tale of what he saw, but survive he did, and in 1938 Homage to Catalonia, his personal account of the near six months he spent on the front lines of the Spanish Revolution, was published to little attention. In fact, it wasn’t published in the United States until 1952.

Nevertheless, it has become, in the years and for generations that have followed, a landmark text of the 20th century and an indispensable read.

“I had come to Spain with some notion of writing newspaper articles,” Orwell wrote, “but I had joined the militia almost immediately, because at that time and in that atmosphere it seemed the only conceivable thing to do.”

Few stories of conflict manage to stir together such a moving admixture of horror, grace, brutality and, yes, even humor. “The Spaniards are good at many things, but not at making war,” he wrote. “In Spain nothing, from a meal to a battle, ever happens at the appointed time.”

This is the story of an individual, determined to do what he thinks is the right thing, caught in the midst of a spiraling conflict that has long since spun out of control.

Today, that messy war in Spain has been replaced by a messy political situation. Those traumas of the past still play out, faintly, in the current politics of the country.

At the time, Orwell wrote, “the rights and wrongs had seemed so beautifully simple.” I wonder what he would say now?

Rowan Ricardo Phillips’ next book of poetry is Heaven: Poems. He is also a judge for this year’s National Book Award in Poetry. He is a resident of Catalonia.